Sequoias And Storms – Paul Waring

 

Sequoias reach out

ready to receive storms—

passive as priests at confession—

 

watch widow-black mass

clouds gather to grieve

drum-heavy tension

into open-mouthed leaves.

 

Array of outstretched arms—

a vein-artery-capillary

neural network that funnels

into unquenchable quarry

of skyscraper roots.

 

After rain, life resumes—

itchy bark beetle, fleet-footed

squirrels in stop-start relays.

 

An air-cleansed chorus—

warbler, tanager and nuthatch notes,

echoed rata-tat-tat woodpecker beat.

 

 

 

IMG_6036Paul Waring is a retired clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and was a singer/songwriter in Liverpool bands. He is a 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee whose poems have been published in Foxglove Journal, Prole, Amaryllis, High Window, Atrium, Algebra of Owls, Clear Poetry, Ofi Press, Marble Poetry, The Lampeter Review and others. Find more at https://waringwords.wordpress.com.

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Years later, we drive home – Michael H. Brownstein

 

Drive with me through this field of prayer,

through mudflats and iron foot,

the eulogy deep and dried passion fruit,

the salt of columbine, a terrain of frenzy,

lacewing and the yellow mollies of spring,

milk and milk thistle, a porcelain of words.

 

Drive with me past the girth of oak,

the prayer tree, the blue iris,

purple passion, the field of glories

behind the back forty no one touches.

Share with me wild onion, mint,

dandelion leaves and acorn meat,

the edible leaves of the Acacia.

 

Drive with me. Share my bounty.

The eulogy premature, prayer alive in flower

and grass, blossom and honey bee, a porcelain

of words, of muscle cars and beaters,

this car we are in now going home again

a strength in who we really are.

Brighten your day.

 

 

unnamed (3)Michael H. Brownstein’s work has appeared in American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Convergence, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), and The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013). He is the admin for project Agent Orange (projectagentorange.com).

Giving to Charity – Megan Whiting

 

Yesterday I gave my life away.

Ripped the past from the present

and left my house devoid of memories.

Bullied my childhood into boxes

and coerced my teenage years into carrier bags,

then lugged the entire sorry lot to the one place it might be useful.

Here, I handed every part of my former self to an elderly volunteer,

who groaned at the weight of my old life

and decided what it was worth.

Only then could I return to my empty house

and start again.

 

 

megan image 5Megan is a freelance writer and proofreader based in Suffolk. A poet at heart, she has been published in anthologies and online and offers personalised wedding poetry as one of her services. Megan loves to read and go for tandem rides with her fiancé. Find out more at www.meganwhiting.co.uk.

Cabin life – John Grey

 

Dawn unfastens the point of being here –

a shimmering globe rotating –

newly acquired light and heat and air.

 

Quiet breakfast

then a walk

sipping the vin rose of the morning,

a feeling hastily translated

from the woman on my arm –

a ledge of sandstone,

a forest nook,

and time, a small favor

that we forget to ask.

 

We could be mistaken for dew

except we hold on longer.

Or hummingbirds,

buzzing, fluttering,

distancing ourselves from small talk

but embracing the hunger

of small unimportant lives.

 

Person to person,

tree to tree –

and a running stream of course –

running on this spot.

 

 

unnamed-bioJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Nebo, Euphony and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

Beyond the clouds – paul Bluestein

 

If I could see beyond the clouds

what would there be?

As I stand here

(attached by the gravity of my life

to this two feet parcel of earth)

nothing there seems clear.

 

What would I see through the window beyond?

An endless green sea on which I might float (or walk)?

But neither my eyes nor mind have reach enough,

so I am like a shell

washed up on some endless celestial beach.

 

One day the sky may clear

and I  may see and hear

answers to the mystery that I am living.

I will be beyond the clouds,

inside a limitless blue box.

Sky end to end, side to side.

Until then?

The ink of my thoughts will drop from the clouds like rain

and bloom upon a page.

I’ll watch butterflies light on leaves like orange flames.

and know that it is enough.

 

 

Fur Peace Ranchpaul Bluestein has written poetry for many years, but has just recently begun to submit his work. He is hoping Foxglove Journal will be one of his first steps forward on this new journey. He is a physician (OB-GYN) by profession (retired … or just plain tired), a self-taught musician (guitar and piano) and a dedicated Bridge and Scrabble player (yes, ZAX is a word). He writes poetry because The Muse, from time to time, calls him unexpectedly and keep ringing insistently until he answers, even if he doesn’t want to talk with her just then.

Along the Gridley River – William Doreski

 

On the waterfall trail the moss

wigs with damp an intelligence

greater than ours. Painted

 

trillium spikes the roving eye

with rippled, blood-streaked petals.

We pause by the deepest pool

 

and watch the falls fall into it.

Trout? you speculate. No more

hooking fish by the lip. I broke

 

my fly rod years ago. Let the big

specimens die of old age,

as I plan to do when the light

 

thickens and the waterfalls freeze

and pharmaceuticals no longer

excite my favorite organs.

 

We enjoy the contrast of rock-

broken and still water, the swirl

of leaf decay icing the pool

 

like the world’s first birthday cake.

Nature’s always rebirthing itself

in a shrug of clichés. Brightly

 

ethered, it wings about us on fire

with floral imperatives. Leaning

on each other in the mist of flies,

 

we let the mood distinguish us

from the other forms of life.

Among them, only falling water

 

and maybe the painted trillium

seem mobile enough to track us

to our secret mutual lair.

 

 

william-doreski175William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His new poetry collection is A Black River, A Dark Fall.

Plastic Wing Beats – Beth O’Brien

 

Bird wings beat in a tree nearby

and it sounds like someone is repeatedly shaking

a 10p bag.

Not a flimsy 5p one, or a sturdy bag-for-life,

but the one in between.

 

I realise I know more about plastic bags than bird life

and think it is sad I’m comparing something natural

to something that isn’t,

because I’m sure it should be the other way around;

 

but I have never thought a carrier bag

sounded like wing beats before –

and I still don’t.

 

 

unnamed (3)Beth O’Brien is currently studying a degree in English Literature at the University of Birmingham. She loves reading, writing, food and seeing the world – when any of these overlap, she loves them even more!

Musings on my 49th birthday and my eccentric, slightly worn-out body – Claire Sexton

 

I’m 49 years old and I’ve just decided that I like my body.

I like my deep-set eyes; the ones that make people think I am something

I am not; an accident of genetics; an unexplained phenomenon.

 

I like my crooked nail and my birthmark that looks like a permanent

bruise; inflicted by a pugilist god.

Like my flesh is showcasing my emotional vulnerability. My perceived tenderness.

 

I like my freckles and my age spots too. I like my knobbly knees and

elbows, my tendency to put on weight

sideways, not front-ways. Like a wobbly Welsh dresser, or iced custard tart.

 

I like my Irish colouring. So pale that make-up never quite produces

a shade light enough. Never accounts

for the least brazen amongst us. Always, still, venerates the fake-golden calf.

 

I even like my teeth, with their precarious overhang, and odd, eclectic vibe.

Like an informal wake, or

an overture of broken, slightly unpredictable, but still cherished, individuals.

 

I like my backwards glance, my gallows humour, my department store

trauma, and my elevator musak – my

creative flow. Singing in the bath and talking to cats. Like a glamorous diva.

 

I like my body. I like its quirky knobs and buttons, its tatty china cups and

clattering-lid teapot.

And finally, I like the fact that it keeps on going. I like the fact I’m still alive.

 

 

 

Foxglove picClaire Sexton is a forty-something librarian living and working in London. She also writes poetry and occasionally creative non-fiction. She has been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Foxglove Journal, Amaryllis, Stare’s Nest, Peeking Cat Poetry and other magazines. She has just adopted a magnificent tortie cat called Queenie.

After Me – Julia Molloy

 

Darling, come closer. There’s nothing to be scared of, nothing to fear. You are always safe with me. Whenever you smile, I’ll smile too, though mostly you make jokes that aren’t funny these days. Whenever you cry, I’ll be waiting with my shoulder and a glass of your favourite wine. It’s the Rioja you prefer now, isn’t it? When we first met, it was all about the alcopops and fluorescent cocktails that quickly got us high so we could dance and be free. We’d dance to songs we no longer heard while others vomited and fought and cried. We’d dance and hold each other close. I guess we lost friends that way. But I can still remember how it felt, the first time we held each other. Our shoes stuck to the floor and the DJ shouted through the air, but all I could focus on was you. I thought my skin would ignite. As the years have mellowed, as our days have grown more fleeting, we savour the Rioja while we can. We don’t dance or play music. We sit, and we hold hands through fading daylight and long dark nights.

Darling, come closer. That was what you used to whisper in the darkest of nights after our son died. We held each other under bed sheets you always insist on ironing. We waited for time to do its work, but I think we both still feel the emptiness. So we hold each other wrapped in the clean, sharp edges of the bedsheets. We stop asking why.

Darling, come closer. I worry about who will keep you safe after me. Who will know about your favourite Rioja? Who will know how to leave you in peace when you come home from work, how to give you that space in which to breathe? Who will know the hole inside? I suppose someone could learn this soon enough, but still I worry. I don’t recall learning these things about you as much as absorbing them. We cried once at a study where children were punished and rewarded to see if they learned better. Our own son toddled at our feet. But now I come to think of it, that was how I absorbed these things about you. Your joys and your hates, your laughs and your rages, punishments and rewards. Who else can absorb these things and keep you safe?

Darling, come closer. I need to feel you near me. You don’t understand why I worry so much about you, why I don’t worry more about myself and what I must face. You don’t understand that worrying about you keeps the fear away. When we met, I remember how I felt a weight had been lifted from my mind. I didn’t have to be alone. I could hold you in my arms and you wouldn’t even comment on my clammy skin. Now, I worry about you to keep darkness at bay.

Darling, come closer. I can feel the darkness coming. I whisper to you again and again, or at least I think I do. You’re smiling, but not as you used to. It’s a smile that will turn into a cry the moment I close my eyes. I whisper again, or perhaps I don’t. Perhaps this is just the dream of life. Perhaps this is how you are after me.

 

 

Author photoJulia Molloy is a short story writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming at The Fiction Pool, Fictive Dream, Crack the Spine, STORGY, Platform for Prose and Riggwelter Press. Her work was shortlisted for the Fresher Writing Prize 2016. She graduated from Lancaster University in 2015 with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing and now works at a government organisation. You can find her at www.juliamolloy.org and on Twitter @JRMolloy2.

Unwavering – Susan Richardson

 

Each day, as I reluctantly get out of bed,

to face the sunlight and blindness,

I ask you to hold my hand so I

won’t feel afraid of standing still.

You wrap my fluttering pulse in threads

of warmth that traverse your palms,

dulling the edges of my anxiety.

You teach me to shake off rage

and laugh at the act of coming unglued.

How quickly I learned to seek your

voice in the clamor of being alive,

rely on the steady cadence of your heart

to quiet the noises that breathe in darkness.

You stand unwavering in the center of

our life together, a beacon that always finds me.

Feeling your fingers against mine,

I stand beside you, content to close my eyes

and let the sun shine on my face.

 

 

IMG_0069Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Los Angeles. In addition to poetry, she writes a blog called, Stories from the Edge of Blindness. Her work has been published in Foxglove Journal, Amaryllis, The Writing Disorder and Eunoia Review, among others. She was awarded the Sheila-Na-Gig 2017 Winter Poetry Prize, featured in the Literary Juice Q&A Series, and chosen as the Ink Sweat & Tears March 2018 Poet of the Month. She also writes for the Arts and Lit Collective, Morality Park.

I have yet to attend a funeral where it didn’t rain – John Grey

 

You were buried near twilight

and as the moon went missing

behind a combination of clouds,

and oncoming night methodically

devoured the shine, it was up to

your tombstone to illuminate

its surrounds, sprout grass and

wildflowers, as sky splashed,

on your new forecourt, star-sized tears

in the shape of rain, each one plopping

into the last, and your shadow,

having rid itself of you, found, beyond

death, new life as a black umbrella.

 

 

unnamed-bioJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Nebo, Euphony and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

Día logues – Margaret King

 

She talks to every living thing

Maybe even more than humans

She talks to her plants as they grow

To butterflies & birds who visit daily

She has an ongoing rapport with the

Blue jays and chickadees

Who boisterously call for food

Whenever she walks under the trees

Of the yard

Underneath, the grass is littered with

Shells of sunflowers & peanuts

A beach, an ocean of giving &

Giving back

She talks to her cats

Marking loyal days together.

To her, these things are as alive as anyone

& worthy of communication.

But why doesn’t she speak to the

Hummingbirds? Messengers, she feels

She should at least send a prayer

Or a wish

Or a private longing

A cry for help

But she doesn’t

Want to scare them away.

 

 

 

unnamed

Margaret King is a Wisconsin writer who enjoys penning poetry, short stories, and young adult novels. In her spare time, she likes to haunt the shores of Lake Michigan, similar to many of her fictional characters. Her most recent work has appeared in Unlost Journal, Moonchild Magazine, Enclave, and The Ginger Collect.

Turn the Wheel – Ali Jones

 

He marks the year with stones,

feels the fire in trees rising,

 

when the sky calls up life.

He inhales beneath the horse chestnut,

 

stands in his father’s footprints,

eyeing the benign branch caught stars.

 

His mother leashes his hand,

they ride on wind dogs and go hunting

 

for the best kindling, where hills

are clouded with sheep.

 

In autumn, leaves throned gold,

he pockets treasures, and watches

 

the flames recede in the fall of red and yellow,

dry wood transformed in age.

 

He mounts an iron horse,

flesh consumed with the spirit of speed,

 

the season carries his skeleton to cage

a man’s soul, while roots travel

 

down, sinking with winter’s life,

to condense into vital coal.

 

 

 

Author photo 2Ali Jones is a teacher and mother of three. Her work has appeared in Fire, Poetry Rivals, Strange Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin Poetry, Atrium, Mother’s Milk Books, Breastfeeding Matters, Breastfeeding Today and Green Parent magazine. She has also written for The Guardian.

Honest Hands – Susan Richardson

 

If he is the rain, then I am gravel,

parched under the embers of shame,

longing for the relief of him.

He washes the soot of loneliness

from my skin and offers me comfort.

 

Irish blood and bones, he is

the son of verdant landscapes,

shared pints of stout and fierce loyalty.

He navigates life vigorously

and laughs with his whole body.

 

His voice carries the tones of Autumn,

rich with the luster of unravelling gold.

I sink into the warmth of his words as

he helps stitch my broken limbs

with threads offered from his heart.

 

I remember so clearly the night

he wrapped his arms willingly

around my imperfections.

It was the first time I was

touched by honest hands.

 

 

IMG_0069Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Hollywood. She was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 2002 and much of her work focuses on her relationship to the world as a partially sighted woman. In addition to poetry, she writes a blog called “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”. Her work has been published in: Stepping Stones Magazine, Wildflower Muse, The Furious Gazelle, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Foxglove Journal, Literary Juice and Sick Lit Magazine, with pieces forthcoming in Amaryllis. She was also awarded the Sheila-Na-Gig Winter Poetry Prize.

Stairfoot – Ali Jones

 

They enter dark waters in fire damps,

waiting in the amniotic dusk,

below the surface, while the mouth

breathes fire to the sky.

 

Softly, they flow downwards,

grow back into the mineral landscape,

tossed back up to the light when

the earth sees fit. Some were found in shards

where the water world dammed

and womb fluid filled the streets.

 

Maybe they are fish now,

transforming all together

into a great shoal, the older men leading,

the boys drifting, tentative, into

bodily definition, coal, ironstone,

fireclay, ganister, shale and sandstone;

 

all become them. Separated from life,

in wonders and challenges, they enter again,

transfigured by fire and waves,

and they shall be here in many wonderful shapes,

the grain of wheat, the running hare,

leaping alive at the harvest, or turned back in again.

 

 

(Historical note: The Oaks Colliery explosion is the second deadliest coal mine disaster in the United Kingdom after the disaster at Senghenydd Colliery. There were two more explosions on 13 December 1866, which killed 27 rescue workers. The Oaks Colliery, one of the largest coal mines in England, experienced 17 further explosions until it ceased operations in the 1960s.)

 

 

Author photo 2Ali Jones is a teacher and mother of three. Her work has appeared in Fire, Poetry Rivals, Strange Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin Poetry, Atrium, Mother’s Milk Books, Breastfeeding Matters, Breastfeeding Today and Green Parent magazine. She has also written for The Guardian.