Lexicon – Steve Komarnyckyj

 

The river made no excuses for itself,

Having known so many dead

Having known so many living

The moon drew a veil over its face

Yearning, as always, to erase

Its beauty and proffer only the dark.

The world groped for an alphabet.

 

IMG_2158Steve Komarnyckyj’s literary translations and poems have appeared in Index on Censorship, Modern Poetry in Translation and many other journals. He is the holder of two PEN awards and a highly regarded English language poet whose work has been described as articulating “what it means to be human” (Sean Street). He runs Kalyna Language Press with his partner Susie and three domestic cats.

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Sleep With Dead Grass – Ken Allan Dronsfield

 

Chill in my tired bones

steamy breath follows

crispy red apples drop

firewood cut & stacked,

 

walk the dying fields

sleep with dead grass.

 

Colored leaves release

spinning down to ground

unpacked winter clothes

full dresser and closets,

 

walk the dying fields

asleep in dead grass.

 

Autumn’s song plays

a freshness of spirit

feel a harvest solstice

life’s circle goes round,

 

I walk a dying field,

I sleep in dead grass.

 

Ken Allan Dronsfield, Bio PictureKen Allan Dronsfield is a poet who was nominated for The Best of the Net and 2 Pushcart Awards for Poetry in 2016. His poetry has been published world-wide in various publications throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. His work has appeared in The Burningword Journal, Belle Reve Journal, Setu Magazine, The Literary Hatchet Magazine, The Stray Branch, Now Then Manchester, Bewildering Stories, Scarlet Leaf Review. EMBOSS Magazine and many more. Ken loves thunderstorms, walking in the woods at night, and spending time with his cat Willa. Ken’s new book, The Cellaring, a collection of haunting, paranormal, weird and wonderful poems, has been released and is available through Amazon. He is the co-editor of two poetry anthologies, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze and Dandelion in a Vase of Roses available from Amazon.

the other side of nowhere – Paul Waring

 

It announces itself in muted shades of light –

returns from nowhere 

 

to stretch taut skin of summer into shadows 

to shed above baked earth 

 

that hears tangled webs of parched root

whisper need for change. 

 

Autumn stands solemnly

with hands to deliver last rites; 

 

pulls down mist to lay moist sheets

on musty carpet, wraps a blanket

 

of cold around the body 

of winter, locks life like a vice

 

until sharpened light of spring 

signals release. 

 

And the promise 

of new beginnings on March winds 

 

that arrive back 

from the other side of nowhere.

 

IMG_6036Paul Waring is a retired clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and was a singer/songwriter in several Liverpool bands. His poems have appeared in journals/sites including Reach Poetry, Eunoia Review, The Open Mouse and are forthcoming in Clear Poetry and Amaryllis. He recently returned from living in Spain and Portugal and continues to enjoy being re-acquainted with the wonderful variety of nature in Wirral and other parts of Britain. His blog is https://waringwords.wordpress.com.

After Dark – Ali Jones

 

I wake at 3:15am, weight shifting towards her,

did she hear the rain? I listen to her snared cry,

try to understand the rhythm of dreams,

what happens behind her eyes, as we travel back

into our room, hazy in gathered night,

shadowed gloom making everything strange,

 

I rearrange us, fuss up pillows, billow bedding

to hold us tight until morning light comes.

Other people stir, the breathing agents of sound

too loud for easy rest. She settles, eyelids flutter,

 

I lie awake, stilled by rallying whispers of breathing,

marvel at the differences of our waking world,

how we stand at ease and claim our places,

and how deeply we commit to sleep,

 

though we fight it, nightly, reading story after story,

playing as late as we dare. The day is wrung from us

in fits and starts, sung through open lips,

teasing the snagging air, a stored syntax

 

of waking tongues, that have begun to find the sounds

they need to make, and try them in the wee small hours,

before daytime takes us away into another realm,

to refashion us into sometime else, and make us whole again.

 

 

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.

Pinjarra and Me – Graham Burchell

 

(Pinjarra, the saltwater crocodile at Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium)

 

we came into the world in the same year

you

chased out of a shell 

and into the muddle of mud and mangrove

 

me

snipped slapped weighed and wrapped

 

for you 

it was crocodile breath the press of a mother’s teeth 

and the first flush of river

 

for me 

it was the touch of fabrics voices the breath

of last adult meals and afternoon light 

 

perhaps we were born on the same day

same moment to be axis points on a globe

 

you

with your long leathered face 

silent hunger and cold blood in brackish water

 

me 

with my green bones and jellyfish flesh turning 

towards cathedral bells beyond the walls of the room

 

 

we are each sixty five years old separated by glass

along the way we’ve made mistakes

 

you 

for being in the wrong place after a flood

for becoming stranded on a Queensland farm 

 

me 

how long have you got

 

now look at us

 

DSCN2854Graham Burchell lives in South Devon. He has four published collections. He has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. He is a Hawthornden Fellow, 2012 Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year, winner of the 2015 Stanza competition, and runner-up in the 2016 BBC Proms poetry competition.

Pinky Swear – Jayne Martin

 

The caustic odor of rubbing alcohol burns my nostrils, settles on my tongue. A nurse paints Vaseline on my parched lips. I can’t remember the last time I was kissed.

I am tethered to tubes, encased in a coffin of flesh and bone that ignores all commands.

The growing cries of gulls, boardwalk barkers, laughter and shrieks of excitement begin to flood the room.

I sit in the car of a rollercoaster as it chugs and bumps up the steep incline toward the point of no return. Braver kids raise their arms high over their heads. I squeeze my eyes shut until it’s over; say “I want to go again,” relieved when you do not.

The ocean breeze sends salt and sand up onto the walkway where we smoke cigarettes stolen from my mother’s purse and stroll looking for boys. We make up names, Bridgette and Marilyn. Names that sound older and sophisticated unlike our own. We fool no one.

A pipe organ bellows. With fingers still sticky from cotton candy, we board gaily-painted steeds, ride round and round, each time stretching as far as we dare for the brass ring, each time finding it just out of reach.

Our bodies distort in fun house mirrors and we wonder who we will become.

Pinky-swear friends forever.

We do not anticipate the power of decades to divide.

The nurse rolls my body onto its side to slip a fresh sheet beneath, and I see you next to my bedside. You wear our favorite sweater, the rose one we passed back and forth until it unraveled, your smile still a mouthful of braces, your hand outstretched to me. In it, a brass ring.

 

001Jayne Martin is the 2016 winner of Vestal Review’s VERA award for flash fiction. Her work has appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Literary Orphans, Midwestern Gothic, f(r)iction, Blink-Ink, Spelk, Cleaver, Connotation Press and Hippocampus among others. She is the author of “Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with a Side of Wry.” She lives in Santa Barbara, California. Find her on Twitter @Jayne_Martin.

The lost art of making friends – Claire Sexton

 

This making new friends business is 

hard. 

Nerve-wracking even. 

I’ve blundered through relationships in 

the past,

and lost a few good ones, as well as 

some not so good. 

I thought I might have lost the knack 

entirely:

the subtle, smooth, glamouring;

the sentences sung;

the harmonies hashed out with 

vivacious aplomb;

sparkling in the early hours with a 

glass of plonk;

telling the awkward truths and then 

sleeping it off. 

Waking at noon; hoarse, and good for

nothing.

 

I thought that maybe that had ended. 

That never again would I stand 

forehead to forehead in a mud-strewn 

field, listening to The Libertines. 

Or fix someone’s wedding gown, and 

watch them make their vows, and find 

another life, away from me. 

Or love their children, and twirl them 

around one hundred times in a row, 

like a human helicopter blade.  

 

But here I am exploring new friendships.   

Here I am on a train to Piccadilly, with 

the babbling hoard encroaching. 

Trying to forge the foundations of 

another faith. 

Another shared idolatry. 

Another blast of love.

 

View More: http://rupaphotography.pass.us/headshots-rcppor2015Claire Sexton is a forty something Welsh writer who has previously been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Peeking Cat Poetry, The Stare’s Nest, and Light – a journal of photography and poetry. She often writes about her struggles with her mental health and loneliness.

First Available Cousin – Ray Busler

 

It had still been dark when we were called. It wasn’t a pajama run; I was dressed, but still slept a few miles in the car. There were no cousins for me to play with this time. We lived closest, most available for urgency, first on the scene.

I couldn’t wait on the big porch, too much winter for that now. I missed the wooden swing, missed the creaking and mesmerizing motion of the thing. Last summer we rode, four cousins abreast in that swing for hours of false alarm. My oldest cousin told of broken swing chains and loose eye bolts that, in some parallel child universe sent chubby pink tots, not unlike myself, sailing in full pendulant moment, sailing loose in the air before finding the steel spikes of the wrought iron fence well below porch level. A lucky one missed the fence to be only crucified in the mock orange bush. She was saved, as the tale went, by an uncle by marriage, and merely had her eyes gouged out by thorns for her trouble. We cousins loved that swing, relished the idea of it and I longed for the day I could be the oldest cousin and tell the tale, with some improvements that I whetted in idle mental minutes.

Now, it was winter and I waited in stale stifle too near the gas logs in the parlor. When there was a full complement of cousins the parlor was off limits, too many fragile memories to be exposed to the rough usage of youth. One was an acceptable number though. I sat on my hands deliberately avoiding the sensuous feel of Dresden figurines and the other flotsam of irreplaceable family history.

There was, almost lost in the repeating wallpaper pattern of pink roses, a painting – a woodcut really. Japanese, I suppose today, assuming that then future role of older cousin. Blue ink and black, with a touch of red in the eye of a rampant, distant sea risen dragon, an icon of the storm in the foreground. The real hero of the drawing was the wave about to crash down on a frail boat. There could be no possible reprieve from that wave. It was a wave of inevitability. I watched the wave until I could hear a phantom wind, smell spectral salt and rotting squid. I watched the wave until…

“Your Grandmother has passed on.” The words woke me.

“Do you understand? Do you understand what I mean by death? Your Grandmother is dead.”

Of course I understood death. That’s why we were here, wasn’t it?

 

Ray lives in Alabama with his long suffering wife of 40 years. That is to say she is older than 40, but didn’t suffer for the first 20.  Ray writes for the pleasure of the writing, and the joy of inflicting it upon others.

Favourite – Ali Jones

 

I always choose yellow, because it excites me,

but not when it ripens into a bruise,

the brightening of the sky so enticing,

the bleeding below the surface of a limb not so.

 

I have seen the ochre tinged stirrings

of a curried cauldron, a mother’s cooking.

a shock on white china, and amber stare,

telescoped from another continent,

 

and the strands, so valuable, pressed

in a golden red O, so beautiful behind plastic,

a stained glass window breathing like

a monument, waiting to be opened.

 

Flower centred, the blessing of yellow,

a promise circled to contain, yolked,

I have seen life visible, an artefact

of light, on a river’s mirrored edge.

 

 

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.

Two Women at a Window – Maurice Devitt

 

after Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

 

Their eyes betray nothing

of what might have gone before.

Were they caught in a cat-fight

over a dress, borrowed

but never returned, or a letter,

steamed open and hastily re-sealed –

news that could not be unseen,

the final link in a chain

of stolen glances, whispered words

and footsteps quickening

on the wooden stairs?

 

Or had they lost the morning

to impatience and panic,

the constant cling of call-bells,

paths crossing like ghosts

in voiceless corridors?

 

Either way they will slip back

into their lives,

the feelings they had shelved

will return,

and we will never know

what words were spoken

in the half-eaten silence.

 

Personal PhotoRunner-up in The Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition in 2017, Maurice Devitt was winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015 and has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award, Listowel Collection Competition, Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, Cork Literary Review  and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. He has had poems published in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia, runs the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and is a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

How I arrived at who I am – John Grey

 

When I was seven,

my father bought me an airplane kit,

something to put together

with glue and guile

and instructions translated directly

from the Korean.

 

He did not help me in any way.

And I proved useless at the task,

would have set fire to the little

balsawood pieces

had I been allowed to play with matches.

 

There are other projects,

other details,

but they all amounted to the same thing.

My hand and my eye

were as Sanskrit is to the Ford Edsel.

 

So I grew up

surrounded by piles

of shapes and images,

and the encouraging cry of,

“Go for it, kid.”

 

That’s why I sat in the corner

building things that always fell apart,

falling apart the more

with each passing year

while I struggled to patch here,

hammer a nail there,

employ the tools

whose use I never understood.

 

Luckily, somewhere along the line,

I was able to set aside objects

and take up with words.

Sure, the sentences I constructed

were no more stable

than my cars, my castles,

my Lego giraffe.

But, as long as it was down on paper,

a Ford Edsel really was Sanskrit.

It got so not even I knew the difference.

 

unnamed-bioJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. His work has recently been published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review, and is upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Losing Mum – Arlene Antoinette

 

I dreamt of wild flowers

in a field filled with little girls

blowing hair off handfuls

of dandelions. Little boys chasing

two headed giraffes, and grandmother

holding up her famous peace cobbler

to the sun yelling for everyone to come

and get some.

Hungry, I headed towards the

house but stopped as I saw you there

holding baby Johnny in your arms

soothing him with one of those lullabies

you used to make up. The sound of rhythmic

clicks played just beyond your words.

When I opened my eyes, I was sitting alongside

your bed, your chest rising and falling as the

respirator forced air into your uninterested

lungs.

 

stillmyeyeArlene Antoinette enjoys writing poetry and flash fiction. More of her work may be found at: Sick Lit Mag, GIRLSENSE AND NONSENSE and Boston Accent Lit.

Earthworms – Ion Corcos

 

Beneath the earth,

worms burrow

 

corridors

 

leave behind a map

of nostalgia.

 

On the surface

they find no rain,

search for pools

on concrete paths.

 

Some lie empty,

crumpled;

beyond life,

 

corridors

 

the last relics

left behind.

 

Ion CorcosIon Corcos has been published in Grey Sparrow Journal, Clear Poetry, Communion, The High Window and other journals. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Ion is a nature lover and a supporter of animal rights. He is currently travelling indefinitely with his partner, Lisa. Ion’s website is www.ioncorcos.wordpress.com.

The loom of life – Ann Christine Tabaka

 

The tapestry of life is said to be woven in tears.

First the bobbin is wound tightly with love. 

Then the shuttle weaves through the fears.

The warp holds the tension below and above. 

Winding through fleeting days months and years.

Each bright colored thread intertwining thereof. 

Nimble fingers working as the timeline nears.

The final results we must not lose sight of.

As the resplendent design of the master appears.

 

17498590_10208707888030767_5119352462877867180_nAnn Christine Tabaka was born and lives in Delaware. She is a published poet, an artist, a chemist, and a personal trainer. She loves gardening, cooking, and the ocean. Chris lives with her husband and two cats. Her poems have been published in numerous national and international poetry journals, reviews, and anthologies.

The Moon – Ion Corcos

 

The moon’s light opens the sea,

brings limestone and sea urchins out of the dark,

lets me see more than I would in the day,

when the light is hard, reflects off water,

white houses, the rocky hills.

 

It is hard to see fish in the sun,

except when they come to the surface

to nibble bread, or when they are dead;

thrown back to the water, untangled

from a net, floating.

 

I prefer night, the white moon,

phosphorescence in the dark sea,

like a turn in a dream, the quiet

silver of fish, the mystery

of stars.

 

Ion CorcosIon Corcos has been published in Grey Sparrow Journal, Clear Poetry, Communion, The High Window and other journals. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Ion is a nature lover and a supporter of animal rights. He is currently travelling indefinitely with his partner, Lisa. Ion’s website is www.ioncorcos.wordpress.com.