Before – Elisabeth Kelly

 

Dusty tins of condensed milk in the pantry.

Scholl slip on wooden sandals in the porch.

The blue labels worn down so only a soft oval remains in the wooden sole.

Tip toe hanging up the washing and the sandals falling down off dry heels.

Your life mapped by the cracks on your skin.

 

A drum of stagnant water in the corner of the steading.

Wellingtons with waterproofs wound around in the utility room.

Two sets of different ones, occasional and everyday wear.

Smelling of the black rubber cover over the silage pit and the cold stone ramp of the

midden.

Your life lived between the two.

 

A tree house made of old fence posts in Back Field.

Bare-feet drumming through the dust of the lane. Creosote sticking to the backs of knees.

Cow muck with a crust on top to poke with your toes, daring, pushing to see how far you

will go.

 

I never gave a thought then to how far we may go.

 

 

 

DSC_0520Elisabeth Kelly is an Early Years Teacher based on a hill farm in the Scottish Borders. She lives with her young family and too many animals. She has recently returned to writing. She has a poem currently in the Longlist for the Anthony Cronin Award at the Wexford Literary Festival 2020. She tweets at @eekelly22.

How it was – Elizabeth Gibson

 

There was a storm out there, on the sea of ferns

and small spiders crept in and out of old burns.

Roaming the desert, a dog found the dusk

and in a flower somewhere, red-pink with musk,

a fairy curled up in the arms of a bee.

 

The midges were swirling like water back home

and in the sky, a jellyfish hung all alone.

Under layers of ice, a horse in a hole;

in a meadow of gold and blue starlets, a foal.

Far out beyond grounds of new comets, you saw me.

 

 

Elizabeth Gibson headshotElizabeth Gibson is a writer and performer based in Manchester, UK. She is also the Editor and Photographer for Foxglove Journal. Liz has won a Northern Writers’ Award and been shortlisted for the Poetry Business’ New Poets Prize, and her work has appeared Cake, Cardiff Review, The Compass, Confingo, Litro and Strix among other journals. Liz blogs at http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.com and you can find her on Twitter and Instagram as @Grizonne.

When Summer Comes – Holly Day

 

I bury their heads in peat and think of the day when

the sun warms the soil and the clouds bring the rain and the white

snowy fields that once seemed to stretch endless will

be a fuzzy memory of a cold and irrelevant past.

the seeds so carefully planted before the first frost will

unfold like origami and send thin furry roots tunneling

through the chilly dirt to find footholds in the earth.

I’ll wake to find a thin coat of green covering

the warmed soil surrounding the base of the old birch tree

in the back yard.

 

eventually, the thin frost of green will grow into a thick carpet, obscuring

the domed hills marking the entrance and exit of traveling worms,

the triangular footprints of excavating seasonal birds, even the

occasional fox footpad, preserved in wet mud. but

today, snow falls in soft clumps outside my kitchen window, barely

heard or felt by the tiny cocooned bodies of insects and plants

lying dormant beneath the soil. I stare past the snow

dream bright, grand dreams of far-off

summer days, imagining the crackle

of night crawlers moving beneath decomposing leaves, the way

the stars look so fuzzy in the sky on

hazy, summer nights.

 

 

Holly Day bioHolly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Tampa Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies, and Ugly Girl.

My Final Walk in the Woods – James G. Piatt

 

Strolling along a bark filled path in the woods the breath of summer gusts into my mind and the warbling of tiny birds enters my ears. Tiny colorful wildflowers, pink, yellow, and blue paint the face of the meadow across the way, and waft their honeyed scents into the breeze. I hear the whispering sounds of the tiny brook alongside the path, and watch small rabbits with blades of grass in their mouths hopping quietly across the field. Maple trees with their white and gray skin, and oak trees with their gnarled limbs reaching for ground and sky shade my path. A red-shouldered hawk soars to the heavens with a screech as I disturb its tranquility sitting in a tall pine tree. I hear murmuring voices of tiny animals under fallen leaves and twigs in the distance, as the soft balmy breeze hurries over the ground with its euphonious voice. My memories awaken, and I remember my happy treks to the woods when I was a young lad. I exhale my breath with a nostalgic sigh as I realize my walks in the woods will be ending soon. My mind is still young, but my body has turned old.

 

 

Bio pic 2James is the author of four collections of poetry, Solace Between the Lines (2019), Light (2016), Ancient Rhythms (2014), and The Silent Pond (2012). He has had over 1,440 poems (four of which were nominated for Pushcart and Best of Web Awards), five novels, eight essays, and thirty-five short stories published. He earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, and his doctorate from BYU.

Drifting – Ahrend Torrey

 

Drifting Ahrend Torrey poem

 

AT biog photoAhrend Torrey enjoys exploring nature with his husband Jonathan and their two terriers Dichter and Dova. He works in New Orleans and is the author of Small Blue Harbor published by the Poetry Box Select imprint (Portland) in 2019. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Wilkes University.

Highfield – Ted Mc Carthy

 

Remember this when names won’t come easily:

the patch of green too narrow for houses,

viewed from an upstairs window;

a flit of yellowhammers at year’s turning,

the long view east, milk-souring suns,

far unmeasured mornings. Remember these

when your name moves beyond you

like the sun behind a house.

 

 

Ted - 008Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, ‘November Wedding’, and ‘Beverly Downs’. His work can be found on www.tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com.

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.