Soft Landing – Jessica Michael

 

I spend an afternoon listening for the sound sun makes when it hits the ground,

a symphony as it slides off blades of grass, drowns itself in pools of shadow,

then stumble up a broken mountain to see how wind is cradled.

 

Not a single straight line is made anywhere.

 

Perhaps this accounts for our human obsession with maps,

our need to press curves into grids.

They say it is for memory, but I don’t believe them—

you can’t remember this.

 

How land spreads before sunset fire.

How ravens fly without moving a wing.

How a single leaf makes the decision to fall.

 

Does earth know to catch it when it does?

 

 

10036_2Jessica Michael lives and writes in Prescott, AZ when she’s not traveling this intriguing blue planet. Her work has appeared in Allegro, Comstock Review, Red Fez, Rebelle Society, Outdoor Australia, and others. Find her poetry and photography at www.authorjessicamichael.com or follow her on Instagram as @authorjessicamichael.

Yellow Ribbons – Pene Morley

 

The newspaper did nothing to stop the cold seeping from the wooden bench into Steve’s bones. He hugged his anorak tighter around his shoulders and tucked his hands under his armpits. Swapping that old blanket for a tin of baked beans had been a bad idea.

Shoppers, muffled up in coats and scarves and hats, trudged to and fro in front of him. Most ignored him, but some watched him out of the tail of an eye as they passed him. He wanted to grab them and tell them, ‘I was like you once, before I went to fight your bloody war’, but he knew they wouldn’t believe him; they never did.

A woman hurled a half-eaten burger into the bin at his elbow, and he eyed it for a moment before snatching it up. Then he noticed the girl staring at him, knock-kneed, gripping a plait in each hand as though she thought her hair was going to fly off.

‘It’s for my dog,’ he said, nodding to where the lurcher was curled up among the carrier bags at his feet.

The dog raised its shaggy head at the sound of his voice, and he tossed the burger between its paws. It snapped it up.

‘What’s his name?’ the girl said, edging closer.

‘I don’t know. I call him Bob but he’s not really my dog; he just follows me around.’

‘Can I stroke him?’

Steve nodded. The girl bounced down on to the ground at his feet with a grin, and the lurcher stretched out his neck to sniff her mouth, his tail thumping the pavement.

‘My dog’s called Scruffy,’ she said, giggling and squirming as Bob licked her face. ‘I got him when my daddy died but nobody can see him; he’s invisible.’

Steve crumpled up the burger bag and chucked it into the bin. Not having a dad must be tough on the kid, but you wouldn’t know it looking at her now. She was holding Bob’s ears up like butterfly wings and chatting to him about everything and nothing. Steve was about to ask her about her dad, when a slip of a woman rushed up and grabbed her by the shoulders.

‘How many times have I told you not to run off like that, Anna?’ she said, pulling the girl on to her feet.

Anna twisted in her grip. ‘I just wanted to see that man; I thought he was daddy.’

The woman’s body slumped, like a puppet no longer in play. She glanced over at Steve, exasperated, and for an instant he thought her tired eyes were pleading with him for help.

Then she tugged at Anna’s arm. ‘Come on, I don’t want you bothering him.’

‘But he’s got a dog,’ Anna said, digging in her heels, ‘and it’s real.’

‘I don’t care.’

‘And he’s got no laces.’

‘What..?’

Her mother stopped pulling her arm and turned to Steve. She studied his cracked, unlaced army boots and then looked back at Anna, frowning.

‘Remember when Daddy’s laces broke and he used my ribbons to tie his trainers,’ Anna said. She smiled at Steve. ‘Would you like my ribbons for your boots?’ She knelt at his feet. ‘I think they’ll look ever so pretty,’ she said, threading her ribbons through the lace holes.

Her mother gazed at Steve as if to say, ‘I’m sorry, about her’. He grinned at her, and she reached down to stroke Bob and hide the flush of colour that had appeared in her cheeks.

 

 

PM bio picPene Morley lives in the south of Germany with her husband, teenage son and two Labradors. She discovered very short stories on Twitter over a year ago and now tries daily to do one of the writing prompts. Since then she has also started writing flash fiction and is writing a novel which she hopes to have finished soon. You can follow her on Twitter @PeneMorley.

Foal – Anthony Watts

 

On Thorncombe Hill

I saw the world

 

balanced

upon four saplings

 

itself-begetting

in the dew of the foal’s eyes

 

who whinnying

down nostrils newly bored

 

printed upon that

immemorial quietude

 

his infant sneeze.

 

 

Anthony Watts - head & shoulder portrait (3)Anthony Watts has been writing ‘seriously’ for about 40 years. He has won 26 First Prizes in poetry competitions and was longlisted for the National Poetry Competition 2014. His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Poetry Salzburg Review, The Rialto and Riggwelter. His fifth collection, Stiles, is due to be published by Paekakariki Press. His home is in rural Somerset and his main interests are poetry, music, walking and binge thinking – activities which he finds can be happily combined.

Granada – Hannah Patient

 

We step outside of time for just three days

and make this place our own: get coffee

every morning at the same café, where

ageing waiters all wear neat blue waistcoats.

This city’s pomegranate-like, they say:

bursting at the seams with juicy seeds

of things to come, of things that might have been.

We walk around the town in midday heat

and everything slows down: we’re living at the speed

of unripe fruit on orange trees and buskers in the streets.

Lost in Sacromonte, we give up and watch

the whole world pass us by, the palace

on its lonely hill a solid compass point.

As night falls, we get brave and mess around:

go rambling through the undergrowth

in the belly of the town, eat tapas in

our favourite bar as the Spanish sun goes down.

We join processions through the streets

where children chant and incense swings;

get punch-drunk on the smell of it,

turn sleepy listening to the man who sings

each night, alone, in the courtyard by our house.

 

I say that like it’s ours; of course it’s not –

nothing here really belongs to us.

The next day when the sun grows restless, hot,

we pack our bags and leave for a new place.

Time speeds up once more; how quickly we forget

the peerless lustre of these Andalusian days.

 

 

35842420_883314205202005_529810939248115712_nHannah Patient is a third-year English student at Somerville College, Oxford, and the former Essex Young Poet of the Year. Her work has appeared in publications including ASH, The Oxford Review of Books, Blacklist Journal and The Purple Breakfast Review. In her spare time she enjoys exploring crumbling buildings, watching detective dramas and eating chips with mayonnaise.

She stops and says – Claire Sexton

 

She stops and says ‘Hang on, that’s

my Mum calling’,

and suddenly I am back there again;

colour unbecoming; milkshake;

antiseptic.

 

And in the rafters of the old

gymnasium, black birds fritter away

time with backwards and forwards

motions; skipping games; dodgeball

flits amongst falling glass.

 

And wild garlic lies pungent in the

forest; recognisable despite its heady

transformations.

 

 

image1 (2)Claire Sexton is a Welsh poet and writer now living in Berkshire where she works as a school librarian. She has previously been published in Allegro Poetry Magazine, Amaryllis, Amethyst Review, Foxglove Journal, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Light: a Journal of Photography and Poetry, and Peeking Cat Poetry. Claire often writes about mental health, in particular her own experiences with depression and anxiety.

Fox Cubs – Oak Ayling

 

Fox cubs squabble and yip

Unseen beyond the barns

Beneath the quiet cloak of night

Siblings sifting through the scraps

And I lay soft upon an unmade bed

Unwinding curls in my hair

Alone, attempting to remember my features

Wondering if I look like my mother.

 

 

IMG_20181005_083822_391Oak Ayling is a young woman quietly stitching poetry into the blurry windswept border between Cornwall and Devon, England. Highly commended by Indigo Press in the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize 2018, her work can be found in Anti Heroin Chic Magazine, the fast growing lit mag From Whispers to Roars and forthcoming charitable anthology ‘Shorthand’ by author Helen Cox in support of UK homeless charity Streetlink.

The Strawberry Gel – Raine Geoghegan

 

On warm summer nights they lay on thick blankets looking up at the stars. The door of the vardo left slightly open in case the chavies woke. They would whisper about the time they first met in the strawberry fields. He remembered the blue dress she used to wear, how her hair was braided on top of her head, her sovereign ear rings unlike any he’d ever seen. She would tell him how she was taken by his honest brown eyes and the way he took her hand and said, ‘Shall we go for a stroll Amy?’ He had picked a strawberry for her and it was the sweetest thing she had ever tasted. It was kushti bok that both he and their gel had strawberry marks on their backs. They laughed at how she could never get enough of the fruit. They called her the strawberry gel. Their Phylly, with the corn coloured hair. He yawns loudly. ‘Shush, go t’sleep Alf.’ They both settle down, his hand resting on her hip, her hand on his chest.

 

Romani words: Vardo – wagon; Chavies – children; Kushti Bok – Good Luck

 

 

2017-07-17 18.15.26Raine Geoghegan, MA lives in West Sussex, UK. She is half Romany with Welsh and Irish ancestry. Her poems and short prose have been widely published and her debut pamphlet, ‘Apple Water – Povel Panni’ is due to be published by Hedgehog Press in November 2018. It was previewed at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in July. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net 2018. Her poems were also featured in the film ‘Stories from the Hop Yards’ as part of the Herefordshire Life through a Lens Project and one of the poems was made into a film by the Wellington Primary School. Find out more at rainegeoghegan.co.uk.

remember – Lisa Reily

 

our dog came first in our relationship,

our first child, our only child,

our Henry.

remember his tongue-wagging runs on the beach,

our cabin amid the paperbarks,

ocean mist coming through our window?

remember the soft call of the butcherbirds,

the laugh of the kookaburras

the only sound to wake us?

remember cups of Earl Grey tea on our balcony

while Henry slept in his basket;

the simple pleasure of our walks on the sand,

Henry running ahead on the empty beach,

ears wagging, sand stuck to his nose;

holding hands over rocks, limpets, starfish

and crashing waves that we thought would sweep him away,

climbing to the tops of cliffs, losing our way back down?

remember the mist that went on forever, covered everything,

took with it the cliff, the long stretch of beach,

Split Solitary Island;

remember the ashes we scattered on the sand,

the beach that took them, that took

the love of our lives,

ashes forever to float to the island;

our first child, our only child,

our Henry.

 

 

Photo - Lisa ReilyLisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry and stories have been published in several journals, such as Panoply, Amaryllis, Riggwelter, River Teeth Journal (Beautiful Things), and Magma. Lisa is currently a full-time budget traveller. You can find her at lisareily.wordpress.com.

A Stone – Oak Ayling

 

Do you think

A stone taken up from the ground

Forgets where it is from?

Erased of place, of memory?

 

Do you think it remembers

The rough kiss

The tender current

The air, the ocean

The chatter of falcons nesting?

 

Does it still think fondly

Of the year you were born?

 

 

IMG_20181005_083822_391Oak Ayling is a young woman quietly stitching poetry into the blurry windswept border between Cornwall and Devon, England. Highly commended by Indigo Press in the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize 2018, her work can be found in Anti Heroin Chic Magazine, the fast growing lit mag From Whispers to Roars and forthcoming charitable anthology ‘Shorthand’ by author Helen Cox in support of UK homeless charity Streetlink.

A fist lost – Gareth Culshaw

 

The pitch was always poor in under 14s 

footie. At the start of the season the council

would send men out. Paint the lines,

mow the turf, align the goalposts.

 

I always played better when he came

standing there with his accent.

My first goal scored, smiles all round.

Jogging back, raised fist to you

 

yours pumped in the air. We got on 

back then before the stubbornness set, 

distance in years between us showed.

 

That break in the relationship a hole 

in my memory, will never be filled.

 

 

IMG_1727Gareth lives in Wales. He has his first collection out now by FutureCycle called The Miner. He hopes one day to achieve something special with the pen.

Hush – Stephen Mead

 

Snow squall:

All the falling feather tufts

lace soft & as intricate

to marvel with night

coming on, blue lit—–

Look up—–

clock tower, yellow,

the face of it a moon

with hands, & the traffic

sizzling to distance

humming for our foot-

steps that crunch some,

& dissolve in the thick

wet carpet magical

as water pushing out

watercolor & our hands,

held, love, simple &

holy as parchment:

Remember this.

 

 

me cropped to squareStephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Find out more at Poetry on the Line, Stephen Mead.

Two Sisters, The Fourth Of July, 2008 – Eliza Spinna

 

Two weary goddesses on the hot concrete. We blast the crackly radio full volume.

I dance barefoot; my limbs are still unsure of themselves.

 

The summer asphalt sears my fleshy, uncallused feet. Rose bobs her head casually, coolly. The coolest.

I am seven and my sister reads comic books but as far as I am concerned my sister is the sole superhero

 

in this town. My hands are smudged blue with melting popsicle. A piece of pink

cotton candy is lodged between Rose’s two front teeth. I don’t think she knows herself better than anyone

 

else knows her. Thinking too hard, she says, is a recipe for disaster. She has a hole in her shorts.

One of the buttons on my yellow sundress has popped. At this age I am unsure of most things. Today,

 

I think, is like Sunday but instead America is God. I tell Rose this and she laughs like I said something

funny but I really do mean it. Patriotism and praying seem very similar to me. They both involve

 

reverence. Rose has begun to question God and America, but I am still young and Church is fun enough

and on Independence Day you get to see fireworks, and the simplicity of abiding by these rituals is

 

coherent in my seven year old mind. Other things I am already sure of: my sister is a fireball

that is hurtling towards the sun and I cannot wait to see how spectacular the explosion is.

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 11.05.38 PMEliza Spinna is a Manhattan-based emerging poet and writer. She is a rising senior at Stuyvesant High School.

Gone – Kenneth Pobo

 

While eating at a diner just north

of Shreveport,

the world ended.

I hadn’t even gotten

my cherry pie yet.

A drizzly day, clouds

had many vacancies.

 

I’d like to remember Earth

at seventy-five degrees,

an abundance of Winston Churchill

fuchsias blooming

in a window box

held to a wooden garage.

Instead,

 

a confused moon mourns

tides it can no longer turn.

 

 

imagejpeg_0_2 (2)Kenneth Pobo had a book of ekphrastic poems published in 2017 by Circling Rivers called Loplop in a Red City. Forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House is a book of his prose poems called The Antlantis Hit Parade. Check out Ink Pantry, Brittle Star, and West Texas Literary Review to find more of his work.

A Problem Shared – Laura Muetzelfeldt

 

Everything important Mum ever told me she told me while cracking eggs. The news was always followed by a business-like tap, freeing wobbly flying saucers from their shells. Mum could crack eggs and open them with one-handed, something I tried to get the hang of, but couldn’t; I always ended up having to rescue tiny triangles of shell from the goo. Making cupcakes to sell at school she told me once they found a lump inside her which turned out to be her twin, dead and swallowed before she was born. Her stories always lasted as long as the recipe took to make, then we would sit down with Dad, and the secrets would fizz inside me as he tucked into whatever we’d just baked, not knowing what I now knew.

Most of the secrets she told me were to do with love. Once, whilst making an almond cake for someone’s birthday, she said:

‘It was only when I met your father that I realised my whole life up to then I’d mistaken lust for love.’

I wasn’t sure what lust was, but it sounded dangerous, creeping – liable to spread when you turned your back.

Mum looked less like a mum when she was baking, like she was just playing at being a grown up. That day, she had flour smudged above her eyebrow and her sleeves rolled up so that they kept drooping, nearly getting in the mixing bowl. I pushed up my sleeves but they kept falling down and getting messy.

All the times we baked, I never told Mum my secrets. I never got that thing where telling other people made your problems seem smaller. For me, it always made them double not halve: like kisses or a punch, they were something you could never take back.

 

 

 

unnamed (4)Laura is a teacher, writer and silversmith who lives in Glasgow with her family. She writes short stories and has been published in journals such as The International Literary QuarterlyBandit Fiction, and Ink, Sweat and Tears; her story, ‘Anna on the Wing’, was highly commended in The Federation of Writers Scotland Competition 2018. She also writes young adult fiction and her novel, Perfect Memory, was longlisted for Fish Publishing’s Young Adult Novel Contest.

The Good Girl – Louise Wilford

 

Childhood stains it all,

blood that no amount of spit-wet tissue can rub out.

 

The playground grit against our knees,

the slap of rope on asphalt, skipping songs

coating the summer day. The walk-in cupboard where our toys

were kept, silverfish in its dusty corners.

 

That’s where I hid the card, the broken bits

of yellow-painted egg-box daffodils.

Crumbs like dried yolk stuffed in the Ludo box.

 

I’d missed school with the ‘flu’, so couldn’t finish it myself.

She’d stuck on the final leaves, filled in the last

few letters: OTHER’S DAY.

 

Glass animals on the windowsill

watched me as I tore the card to bits,

each wound a slice into her skin.

 

She’d ruined it, just as she soiled that Sunday

when she told them all I’d lied.

And all the while her alligator smile

tuned out their doubts.

 

As if a girl like her…

 

I felt her fingertips against the cardboard flowers,

her grinning brush-strokes on each painted edge.

 

Those old, sad days in which we played and wept.

For good or bad, they’re where we learned to be.

Until we die, they’re where our lives are kept.

 

 

unnamed (2)Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford is an English teacher and examiner. She has had around 50 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.