Too late? – Kieran Egan

 

Mrs. Reardon walks down the pavement

which is more broken now than when 

she pushed four different children in their prams,

two of whom will be at the funeral today,

of the man she married

because the man she loved married her friend.

Her friend died last year and the man she loved

will also be at the funeral of the man she married.

The man she loved realized too late, too late

that he cared less for the woman he married

than for Patsie Reardon, née Walsh, of days long gone.

 

Mrs. Reardon and the man she still loved 

passed on this street with their children in prams, 

then he with a son and football and she with ballet shoes and a daughter

then walking with further sons and daughters, some taller than either of them.

 

Would he, after the funeral and after due time . . . ?

Her heart and stomach were afraid and light and excited.

Or will the formal reserve they had cultivated like a shell

be now so hard they can no longer break through it?

Were they still the two who had once loved each other?

His once hair . . . her once taut skin . . .

 

 

unnamed (2)Kieran Egan lives in Vancouver, Canada. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Quills (Canada), Literary Review of Canada, Dalhousie Review (Canada), High Window (UK), Orbis (UK), Raintown Review (USA), Envoi (UK), Shot Glass Journal (USA), Qwerty (Canada), Snapdragon (USA), The Antigonish Review (Canada), Acumen (UK), Canadian Quarterly and The Interpreter’s House (U.K); also shortlisted for the John W. Bilsland Literary Award, 2017 and for the TLS Mick Imlah prize 2017.

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We Will Not Wander More – Louise Wilford

 

We will not wander more. No lotus-blossom keeps

us in our seats, but just the glitter on the wall that seeps

 

into our souls. We love the soothing lullabies of lies

and loss that roll like waves of smoke across our eyes.

 

These padded gondolas will rest our limbs. Our long

hallucinations glow like pearls. Here sounds our final song. 

 

The dying skeletons of ships float by above,

but here we rest, below – bereft of love.

 

The sob of marriage split, of love betrayed,

of feuds and frauds and factions – all displayed

 

in widescreen, stretching thought just broad and high

enough for skimpy hearts and those who’re wide of eye.

 

 

unnamed (2)Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford is an English teacher and examiner. She has had around 60 poems and short stories published in magazines including Popshot, Pushing Out The Boat and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. She is currently writing a children’s fantasy novel.

Blood Tendrils – Meredith LeMaître

 

You know nothing about

Me and that stings,

That you don’t know what I like to read o’ winter nights,

Which finger I like to stick up at sexism,

What time of year I love best;

It’s early summer when the sky’s iridescent, and I can lie on the sticky new grass, gaze at the fat clouds floating heavenwards, 

Apple blossom threaded through my hair.

But you didn’t know that, never thought to commit it to the library of memory.

The boy I’m half in love with has learnt what lights me up like a firefly, apart from being with him. The only thing that links us now, is the blood which slides through our veins, wraps its tendrils around our wrists. 

That we both have noses like the buttons in Mama’s sewing box,

Thin feet as the angels do in Renaissance paintings.

Tell me 

is blood and resemblance

ever enough?

 

 

wp_ss_20170723_0001Meredith LeMaître is a home educated writer and dancer from Brighton, UK. Her poems have previously been published in Hebe Poetry magazine, Now Then Manchester and Risen Zine, she has also been Highly Commended in Foyle Young Poets’ Award and was a Poetry Rivals 2016 finalist. You can find one of her articles on Hebe Poetry website. She loves writing, crafting, acroyoga and ballet and is interested in colour, languages and mythology.

Childlessness – Antony Owen

 

You and I have perfected being invisible,

to be the disappearing dot as people move on

we will always be children growing grey like shovelled snow.

~

You and I have swallowed bruises from joy at others’ children,

made chemical love with natural hopes to conceive

mourned in revelations of blue stripe tombs.

~

We wanted a baby so bad I held you like one in our Ikea tomb.

At seven PM on the dot we mixed potions dead of magic

I was so close to your skin and noticed you had gone.

~

You and I have heard it all like how one day it will happen for us

like Sheila and Tom down the road who sold a house for seed,

one night I stood naked in the firelight and doused the flames.

~

You alone knew that our spines are like hand rails on tube trains,

everyone is leaving and there is only you and I in the dark eye

the pin-prick daylight will not conceive us and we no longer weep.

~

I alone knew that my bloodline stops with me, thank god it stops

but remember the cherry tree that blossomed then died

they cut it down and the roots fought hard to keep it.

~

I alone know that you and I are sick and fucking tired of polite sadness,

to avoid the conversations that make others feel awkward because we are,

to realise that some family trees bear fruit so sweet it makes the wind smell bitter.

~

You alone know that the sharps box is Pandora’s box letting us out,

the needles mock us like talons of a crow on Jacobite earth

next week is our check-up but we are nether here or there.

~

I alone know as a man who sees our children writhing in the dreamcatcher

that there is a beach with a gate for us where the sea-smoke cools the sun,

I alone know that the manger of loving you is more than tangible life.

 

 

biopic 3Antony Owen was raised in the industrial heartland of Coventry which is a notable inspiration of his work. Owen is also a critically acclaimed writer on war poems with work translated in Japanese, Mandarin and Dutch. His fifth collection of poetry, The Nagasaki Elder, (V.Press) was published in September 2017 and is already its 2nd print run. The Nagasaki Elder was inspired by direct testimonies of atomic bomb survivors taken in Hiroshima plus evacuees displaced from conflict. Owen’s work has been commissioned by BBC and National Poetry Day and is regularly taught in Hiroshima at monthly poetry workshops by Professor Klein. He was chosen by CND UK as one their first national peace education patrons alongside AL Kennedy. Owen was also a recipient Coventry’s 2016 Peace & Reconciliation Award.

The Play’s the Thing – Robert Pelgrift

 

– Hamlet, II, ii; Macbeth, V, v; As You Like It, II, vii

 

“…de petits morceaux de papier… deviennent des fleurs, des maisons, des personnages…”

 

– Marcel Proust, Du coté de chez Swann

 

From lines of printed letters on a page,

figures stand and move, flats rise in a set,

shapes, sounds and actions exist. On the stage,

for their hour, the poor players strut and fret.

 

Where nothing was, the play becomes a thing,

a being; and the stage is all the world,

where, like folded paper bits opening

in water, flowers and houses are unfurled.

 

And people rise, exist. The play takes place.

The being is the idea that attends

the people’s acts, words and purpose; and when

they feel love or anger, speak, stand or pace

about, they make the play, until it ends,

and settles on the printed page again.

 

 

RYP JR picRobert Pelgrift practiced law in New York City for many years and is now an editor for a legal publisher, working in New York City.  His poems have been published in various anthologies and in The Lyric, The Rotary Dial, The Galway Review, The Foxglove Journal and The Waggle.

Could Be Stardust, Could Be Rain – Alison McCrossan

 

I am stardust. Yet it could be said I’m mostly rain.

‘What riddle is this?’ you ask.

‘Oh, only the original. Who am I?’

‘Doesn’t that lead to Why am I?’ you say.

This is getting painful.

You poke at the ground where you sit and hold up your hand. Your finger is crusted with wet sand. ‘How many grains?’ you ask.

‘Impossible to know unless we Google an equation.’

You’re a professor of archaeology and reckon that makes you academic. ‘An academic with working man hands,’ you often say with a laugh. Your dark curls fall down one side of your face, facial features too young to know it all.

‘How many people have asked this question?’ you say.

‘That’s not getting us any closer to an answer.’ I swipe away an assault of meaningless equations that have sprung up on the browser window of my smart-phone. I forgot to add ‘grains of sand on a fingertip.’ Wet sand would alter the equation too-surely adding another factor or something. Oh, the credence I give Google.

I’m the creative sort, not that it matters. Even the academic uses Google. You have often told me I love too much, too deeply, and too soon. I might have said, but doesn’t this life deserve such enthusiasm. I add playfulness to my art in the hope that another might smile. Not that I’m adverse to contemplation. I’m thinking more about the why of everything today, but on other days I’m known to just wonder at the stars and not how they relate to me.

You say, ‘A grain of sand. A spit in the ocean. A collection of atoms in the shape of you, in the shape of me. Everything. Nothing. Dimensions of perception that go on and on and bend and circle ad infinitum. You could be stardust. You could be rain. It’s entirely up to you.’

‘What are you suggesting? I’m not depressed and depression isn’t a choice.’

‘But you are in pain,’ you say.

‘I ache all day for night and cry all night for morning.’

‘Why?’ you ask.

‘I lost my job, the days are long. My love is gone and I can’t afford the rent.’

‘Distractions,’ you say, drawing a crooked line in the wet sand with the same finger.

My eyes trace its path. Without distractions I am hollow, pain with a hollow centre that is, a capsule without the drug inside.

I kick off my shoe and dip a toe into the sand. The sand has soaked up the rain and resists my toe. It hurts.

I am a void always searching. Searching is distraction and any of the following: pleasure (say music); escape (say wine); status (say job); to go on (say have babies); to learn (say ask who am I) or explore (say ask who are you).

Look at you. I compare. You are contained. I might say you are of the moon, steady and influential. One of a kind. More than a search tool or answer to me maybe. ‘How does it feel to be one of a kind?’

‘You should know. I am part of you.’ You disappear into the hole you poked in the sand.

 

 

alisonMcCrossanAlison McCrossan is 44 years old and living in Ireland. She enjoys writing fiction, including flash and short stories, and is currently working on a novel.

Yesterday Calling – Laura Potts

 

Somewhen,

a gull snaps its wings

and laughs

as I stretch out the past

 

to the city with its dark heart

and us,

splitting our skins for a kiss.

 

On the rim of a memory,

spinning,

we fizz

like silver pins

on that street

or this.

 

My lover’s words I remember

trembled

like globed pearls on tepid stars

the hot dark of torchlight

kicking

from the pavement

sparks

as he went.

 

Bone-bent,

with eighty-six years in my face,

I read books

and play cards

and years have dried up,

slow prunes

in a vase.

 

But last,

in my crabbed hands his skin,

doused with river lights,

no foul breath of wartime but

a whole lost world of long-kissed nights,

 

thin films of eyes candled bright

in the lobes of my palms,

the four-medal arms deliberate,

passionate,

strong.

 

 

Afterwards, the distant salute of a bomb.

 

 

527Laura Potts is twenty-one years old and lives in West Yorkshire. She has twice been named a Foyle Young Poet. Her poems have appeared in Seamus Heaney’sAgenda, The Interpreter’s House and Poetry Salzburg Review. She has recently been shortlisted for a Charter-Oak Award for Best Historical Fiction at The University of Colorado and also made The 2017 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize shortlist. This year Laura became one of The Poetry Business’ New Poets and a BBC New Voice for 2017. Her first BBC radio drama Sweet The Mourning Dew will air at Christmas 2017.

Missing You – Lisa Reily

 

Raspberry and mango bougainvilleas, the tang of guava,

an orange and silver carp on a Balinese path, breathing

its last breath of hope, for someone to save it.

 

Pomegranate seeds popped into your mouth

dribble down your cheek to stain your new white pants;

your snow-teeth bite into watermelon, crumbling

from its watery pink into water itself.

 

My love for you is a crisp yellow pineapple, pale seaweed

dabbled in sunlight, the musky pink of my fingernails;

blue-grey dolphins, white baby seal love, the emerald sun

and the cool green sky; a tortoise underwater, an ache of forever,

 

a smiling purple dog; a yearning unresolved.

 

 

Photo - Lisa ReilyLisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. She is now a budget traveller with two bags, one laptop and no particular home. You can find out more about Lisa at lisareily.wordpress.com.

Fight or flight – Angelica Krikler

 

Come and lie with us, the flowers said, you have nothing now. Like us, there is no one to love you and your marriage bed must be the thorn bush, your funeral pyre the dams that will not break

Forget keeping your physique and the limescale in the kettle

You are a leopard in the snow. There is no way you will survive

Everything you planted will turn against you

Soon you’ll forget about hairdressers, and you’ll start to malt like us

And songs will be nothing more than the hum of crickets, the sound of your own fist beating your body

Scallop shells will give birth to you

Family will simply be nature’s surrounding colours

And your lipstick will be a rush of blood

Or else, write until the pen runs out

 

 

unnamedAngelica Krikler is a student from Essex who is hoping to study English Literature at university next year. She spends her time writing, reading and watching American stand-up. She has previously been published in The Claremont Review, Morphrog, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Y-Magazine and Cake Magazine.

Bees make honey – Cath Barton

 

Three jars of honey glistened on the window sill – golden and translucent. Outside a bee hovered. Lucy raised a finger tip to the glass and the bee came close as if to kiss it. Then, propelled by some unseen force, one of the jars tipped and smashed on the flagstones. Lucy watched, frozen and impotent, as the bee repeatedly flung itself at the glass in distress.

At breakfast Lucy’s hands trembled in her lap. Mark, sitting opposite her and reading the paper, noticed nothing.

“I’m going down to the hives this morning,” she said.

“Okay,” said Mark, through a mouthful of toast. “New honey’s great, by the way,” he added, looking up and grinning at her. “Tell your bees.”

“Cheer up,” he said, when she didn’t respond. “It might never happen. Got to run.”

He kissed the top of her head and ruffled her hair as he got up from the table, scattering crumbs.

Hearing the car leaving minutes later, Lucy put her hands onto the table-top to steady herself. She felt as if the bees had stung her, though they hadn’t, never had, never would, she knew.

She went upstairs, switched on her laptop and looked at her e-mails. Six new messages, all from him. Expressing undying love in six different ways. Their sweetness was cloying. She deleted them all. Immediately another pinged into the in-box.

“You all right??”

“I’m fine,” she wrote back. “Just tired.”

“Tell me you love me,” said the next message. She stared at the words on the screen. Then pressed delete. Her finger trembled as she did so. She didn’t feel fine.

She pulled on her bee suit and wellington boots and walked through the long grass to the hives. Out in the fresh air she felt better. She checked the hives.

“Sorry about the broken jar,” she said, in a whisper. “I’ll be more careful in future.”

The bees circled her head as if telling her not to worry. Lucy knew that bees understood things no humans ever did. She’d like to come back as a bee. She’d said that once to Mark, who’d laughed. That was the trouble with Mark, always laughing, never taking things seriously.

She hadn’t meant to look for someone else. Why would she, with a happy home, everything she could want. Except.

“I think the bees are like your children,” Mark had said.

He’d laughed as he said it of course. It was like a physical blow but she hadn’t let him see that. He hadn’t meant anything bad. She knew she should talk to him about it. But she’d left it too long.

They’d met in the library. Changing their books. They talked and got shushed by the librarian. Out on the street they talked more, gone for coffee. People do that. No harm, she’d thought. But she should have told Mark. Not let it become secret. Not let it become anything.

It had become too much.

Back in the house she made coffee, sat at the computer again. Just one new e-mail from him, reasonable, reasoned. She replied, agreed to meet.

She took him a jar of honey. Gave it to him with trembling hands. Told him that she and Mark were moving. They wouldn’t have bees in the new place.

“No room,” she said, looking down at her hands in her lap, still now.

He cried and it was unbearable. She left without looking back.

The e-mails continued for a bit. She deleted them all, unread.

She did think of getting rid of the bees. But they needed her. And they were a comfort.

 

 

Cath BartonCath Barton is an English writer and photographer who lives in Wales. She won the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella for The Plankton Collector, which will be published in 2018 by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. Read more about her writing at https://cathbarton.com.

Creation Story – Ann Christine Tabaka

 

Tell me a tale

How the world began

How earth was born

Long before man

 

Each culture has

Its creation story

A myth or song

Filled with glory

 

A fiery battle

In the heavens above

Or an act of valor

Bestowed with love

 

A giant tortoise

On his back the earth

A star-woman

To life gives birth

 

The trickster raven

And sun gods

Juggling planets

Against all odds

 

The epic sagas

Of ancient ones

Passed on in fable

From fathers to sons

 

As images form

Before my eyes

Filled with wonder

Worlds crystallize

 

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. Chris has been selected as the resident Haiku poet for Stanzaic Stylings.

Dreaming of Dog – Linda Imbler

 

Come to me while I’m sleeping,

show me that you are trusting of me

and that you wish to go home.

Show me that you wish to see your backyard,

that you like your doghouse

on the porch – with your bed.

You’ll find your soft blanket,

you’ll settle into deep and restful sleep,

where dreams of rabbits are waiting

for you and you’ll watch them frolic. 

Come to me while I’m sleeping,

show me that you love your dinner

and the crunchy treats that follow

after that last bite.

Then you’ll follow me inside

and I will pet you while you nap,

pet your head, then chest,

pet your back down to the tail,

recalling your busy day

and looking forward to tomorrow.

Come to me while I’m sleeping,

show me that you are happy

that you have found me. 

You’ll come to me,

walk into my arms and not squirm,

rest your head on my breast

and let me kiss the top of your head,

and I will smell your fur and feel its thickness.

Come to me because I have called you

and you have answered.

 

 

SONY DSCLinda Imbler is the author of the published poetry collection “Big Questions, Little Sleep.” Her work has appeared in deadsnakes.blogspot.combehappyzone.com,
bluepepper.blogspot.combuckoffmag.com, Fine Flu Journal, Bunbury Magazine, Blognostics, Nailpolish Stories, Broad River Review Literary Magazine, Mad Swirl, Ascent Aspirations: Friday’s Poems, Unbroken Journal, The Voices Project, GloMag, The Beautiful Space, and Zingara Poet. Linda has poems forthcoming in Leaves of Ink, Halcyon Days, PPP Ezine, The Moon Magazine and Bindweed. Online, she can be found at lindaspoetryblog.blogspot.com. This writer, yoga practitioner, and classical guitar player resides in Wichita, Kansas.

Helianthus – Margaret Holbrook

 

These bright, brash plants standing

tall have no pretence.

They are what they are,

and don’t deny it.

 

Fields of them line the

French roadsides. Striking and

purposeful, they are not to be

meddled with.

 

Even their small siblings,

the ones bought in pots from

florists and garden-centres

have attitude.

 

These plants are not shrinking-

violets. You will not find them

cowering in shade or damp woodland;

they are showy, proud, in your face,

demanding to be seen.

 

If sunflowers could speak,

They would be loud, outspoken,

heard above the crowd,

unable to help themselves.

 

But,

sunflowers are silent, intent

on following the sun,

looking for love; and

all the while in that beautiful head,

Fibonacci numbers are calculated,

seeds plotting their spiral patterns.

 

“Helianthus” previously appeared in The Poetry Shed.

 

IMG_0641Margaret Holbrook lives in Cheshire, UK, where she writes poetry, plays and fiction. Her work has appeared widely online and in print including publications such as Jellyfish Whispers, The Poetry Shed, Schooldays, Best of British, Orbis, The Journal. Her latest poetry collection, Not Exactly Life was published in September 2017 and all the poetry features women; from life, fiction, film and history. ‘Where else,’ she says, ‘would Lucrezia Borgia, Jean Harlow and my mum all appear in the same volume?’ Find out more at www.margaretholbrookwrites.weebly.com.

burning bright – Linda M. Crate

 

you wanted me to be seen not heard

to be a passive girl who hid behind

the beard of the sun and the skirts of

moonlight,

and to sit lonely perched on your pedestal

in the gilded cage of your love which

was really lust;

 

but i am the butterfly landing on clover

gentle yet still wild

refusing the confines and cages

of any net that would fall upon me because

i am not someone you’ll ever tame

where i prefer to be the butterfly i can also

be the unicorn or the wolf

 

i can be a harpy and a chimera

or the soft petals of persephone’s flowers

life is a matter of perspective,

and you refused to see the relevance of mine

rejecting what was not yours;

insisting that your reality must be mine,

too, but we were two different people looking

out to sea

 

you saw only dangers and threats

i saw only mermaids and love

wanted to swim beneath the jade sapphire

confines that knew no beginning or end

so deep they could understand

my intensity and depths but weak men

cannot handle the helm of strong women

we burn just a little too bright for their candles.

 

2007Linda M. Crate’s works have shown up in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She has four published poetry chapbooks the latest of which is If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016). She is also the author of the Magic Series and two forthcoming chapbooks Wild Thing and My Wings Were Meant to Fly.

Verona – Andrew Nowell

 

I wasn’t expecting you to fall in love again

With me, that day I rang with tickets to Verona.

It’s just I knew you loved the opera:

So did I, and the festival

Was far too good an opportunity to pass.

 

We fenced a courtly distance through piazzas,

The streets with gliding intimacy, the stone

So warm and honey tan.

Your eyes averted from the balcony

Where Juliet lamented to a spice-filled night.

 

Looking back, it probably wasn’t my greatest-ever notion

To take you to see the obsessed lover

Double-cross the letters,

Fill with cruel bullets,

His straw man, the artist, a poor painter of scenes.

 

But I just wanted you to hear when background music

Set up to depict the world has to give way,

A silver thread of sound,

A clarinet sentinel,

Gently parts the veil to climb to dreams and rapture.

 

So, at midnight, the performance finally over,

We walked to old hotels through star-bathed lanes,

Our hands a set distance apart

Like the conductor daring not to twitch

Or breathe, in case the music runs from his control.

 

 

IMG_20170903_165005Andrew Nowell studied English literature at University College London where he completed an MA in Shakespeare and the Renaissance. Now a journalist working for a local newspaper, he is also looking to break into creative writing and poetry. He lives in Wigan.