Preserved – Stephen Kingsnorth

 

I dusted coal soot from the sill

and came across the brittle bee,

stuck, desiccated, frosted pane.

And yet, with yoghurt, muesli dish, –

a bowl of porridge not amiss –

I plunged my fork deep in the pot

and spooned gold honey onto mix.

 

The jams and pickles, sloe gin jars –

ghoul specimens of organs, blood –

thank God for vinegar preserve,

a promise realised before.

Those languorous, drawn heady days

of elderflower, drone buzzy gnats,

will come gain, blaze summer tastes.

 

For now, past future on the shelves,

swelt sweating stove for spreading loaf,

float gherkins, onions, sweet with cheese,

a ploughman’s grubby hand from sheaves,

slow thaw, then other layered snow

cannot remove year’s heavy brew,

sure harvest cycle, budding soon.

 


Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over 250 pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies. Find more at https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com.

The prints you laid – Gareth Culshaw

 

The coast elbowed the land

a sea came from afar

nudged the pebbles until they rolled.

 

We walked. Left a memory

in the road. I unclipped

the lead from my hand,

 

and you cut away the distance

between yourself and a gull.

 

I followed the earth’s golden dust

as you pounded the edge of land

and water.

 

An oystercatcher flicked up into the gulp.

I watched the sun on your fur

 

that carried light, put prints

in the sand before I got there.

 

I hope they’re still around to lead me

when I go back, alone.

 


Gareth lives in Wales. He has two collections by FutureCycle, The Miner & A Bard’s View. He is a current student at Manchester Met.

El Dorado – Ted Mc Carthy

 

“The fish fanciers, sitting by their ponds and gazing

into their depths, were tracing shadows

darker than they understood.” – Rubicon by Tom Holland

 

Arid – it took twenty years for the word to come.

And what did we expect, creeping that Saturday

down laneways whose leaves were dying into red,

towards the El Dorado of an orchard whispered about,

its apples untasted for years, guarded by a gun?

How near we were to town. How easily lost.

 

The youngest, last seen years ago, standing asleep,

wedged between three squatters in a phone box.

His eyes, they said, when he opened them, still had

that child’s disappointment at finding his last sweet gone;

suddenly he remembered himself and retreated.

He was a river of words at twelve

 

and I remember him now, from nowhere,

his life too fierce and frank to be glossed over,

unlike the rest of us, we on the cusp then of knowing

not the taste but the craving for it. So on

we blundered, countryside itching under our collars

until we turned and stumbled into a yard

 

ringed by trees, their fruit greener than leaves,

huge, monstrous almost. But we had to pick them.

And the house. No gun as frightening

as that abandoned silence, or the comb-teeth

litter of fish we knew we’d seen in books.

Never earth so bare as that dried pond.

 


Ted 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.

Souvenir – Isabel Greenslade

 

I left the car on the cliff top,

went looking for a toilet, found a bird.

There used to be a coal mine under here –

that’s what the guidebook said,

and the mark on the map.

 

It’s long dead, whatever it was,

probably dead when I was at home

looking it up in the bird book.

Fieldfare? Thrush? Which colour plate,

which description did it fit?

Anyway, there it was, trapped in a toilet block

in a car park empty of other visitors.

There were only two of us.

 

This assemblage of stone sand wind and air

progressed up and down the cubicles,

one two three four five five four three two one

its feet scrabbling on the overhead cisterns.

Too far above me to catch, it wouldn’t be wafted

towards the doorway with my map.

 

Already I was trying to name it as it struck

at the skylight that we could both see.

Death was always certain – inside a neglected egg,

by teeth or talon, by being shaken loose.

It didn’t need its name, only the sky which turned solid on it.

 

I flushed and walked out over the stone floor

into the wind, past the laminated pictures of the mine.

I got back into the car, drove to the heritage museum

where miners are trapped on a screen, to be bidden by a button

so someone knows they’re still there.

 

It’s history now, that bird. I thought about it

on the motorway all the way home.

 


Isabel is from and of London where she works in a museum. In a former life she was a youth worker then a tour guide. Her poems has been published in Orbis and she can be found discussing poetry, art, gardening urban history, and the natural world on her Instagram account @ijgreenslade.

Traces – Lorraine Carey

 

I have a friend

without fingerprints.

She worked in the corner shop

and the fact that her tips

lacked those delicate swirls

only came to light,

 

when takings didn’t tally

with receipts and the police

arrived to take prints.

Her innocence undisputed

and the culprit shown the door.

 

We said she was special,

unique, joked she’d make

a superb criminal,

with no evidence on door knobs,

or traces left behind,

 

tongues firmly in our cheeks

and elevated in an instant

she drifted from us

with our traceable whorls,

just ordinary girls,

nothing special.

 


Lorraine Carey’s an Irish poet from Co. Donegal. Her work is widely published in Poetry Ireland Review, Abridged, The Rising Phoenix Review, Constellate, Orbis, Prole, Smithereens, Porridge, The High Window, The Honest Ulsterman and Poetry Birmingham among others. She has poems forthcoming in Eunoia Review and One. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has been placed and shortlisted in several competitions including Trocaire / Poetry Ireland, The Blue Nib Chapbook Competition, Listowel Writers’ Week, The Allingham Prize and was longlisted in The National Poetry Competition 2019. Her poems have been broadcast on local and national radio. Her debut collection is From Doll House Windows (Revival Press).

Time travelling in a coffee shop – Demi Lloyd

 

Sarah smells like caravan

holidays when I was small

I reach for a chip and

I’m stranded,

trapped in a blur of playing

Go Fish with Dad

 


Demi Lloyd recently gained a Masters degree in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University. She is part of a poetry group based in Nottingham called GOBS and is working towards her contribution to their spoken word showcase in March. In her spare time you can find her reading, listening to podcasts or thinking about cats.

always yours – Lisa Reily

 

after Renoir’s Dance in the Country

 

spring days 

under the chestnut tree

I remember well,

cups of tea and cake

chocolate mousse

raclette with sweet wine,

and you.

across the table 

you in your handsome blue suit,

I waited for your eyes

as snails drowned in garlic butter

and music played.

my dress to catch your glance,

I hoped its pretty flowers

would bring you to me;

but the music caught me another,

and I was swept away.

hot breath in my ear, silky words of love,

his hat to the floor as 

we danced,

pressed against one another,

my gloved hands in his,

while all the while,

it was you that I wanted;

my smile

was always yours.

 


Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry has been published in several journals, such as Amaryllis, London Grip, The High Window, Panoplyzine, Channel Magazine, The Fenland Reed, as well as Foxglove Journal. You can find out more at lisareily.wordpress.com.

Her Love Has Faded Away – James G. Piatt

 

My love is not here again today

Her image only lives in slumber,

Her essence has faded away.

 

My memory’s road is now a dull gray

My sad reminiscences do encumber:

My love is not here again today.

 

In the midst of another gloomy day

Silent footsteps increase in number:

Her essence has faded away.

 

Woeful visions are those that stay

Wretched hours the days do cumber,

My love is not here again today.

 

I no longer smell the roses’ sweet bouquet

Lonely visions then outnumber:

My love is not here again today,

Her essence has faded away.

 


James lives with his wife Sandy, a cat called Barny, and a pup named Scout, in a replica 1800s eastern farmhouse in the foothills of Santa Ynez, California. He was nominated for a Best of Web award, and three times for a Pushcart award. He has had four collections of poetry, The Silent Pond (2012), Ancient Rhythms (2014), Light (2016), and Solace Between the Lines (2019), over 1,485 poems, five novels, and 35 short stories published worldwide. He earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, and his doctorate from BYU.

A fabulous game called “love” – Sebastián Díaz Barriga

 

Translated from Spanish by Delphine Tomes

 

as a child

my parents used to play

this fabulous game:

although the aim

is still unknown

the game arrived

to their relationship

as a forgotten quarter does

on an empty street

in Mexico City

it seemed to say:

hey!    

are you going to grab me or what?

I have been here all day

and I just wanna go back home

I´m so fucking tired.

 

back then, dad

pretended to send money

– instead of love-

to mom’s debit card.

the nearest ATM machine

was about an hour away

so we used to cross

the whole town

in our 1970 VW beetle

just to find

that there was no money

or love

or anything else

inside

mom’s card

mom

dad’s lover

or the neighbor’s dog.

 

I felt so sad

I just wanted a new pair of socks,

a green pencil

and, perhaps

a tiny little fish

whose love

wouldn’t leave

my hands.

 

 


EGO_2

Sebastián Díaz Barriga was born in Mexico City in 1998. In 2018, he wrote his first book (Un rezo para mi padre) translated into English in 2020. He achieved first place at the XII National Desiderio Macías Silva Poetry Contest in 2019. He lives in the 21th century while dreaming about life. http://fabricandopajaros.blogspot.com is his blog.

A Few Very Speculative Ideas About Language – Ann Pedone

 

sometimes it’s hard to remember/the names of things /those trees

along the side of the freeway/ I used to know what they are called

and  then there are words  I’ve never known /is there a word for

the lust bees feel for a flower /or the way his neck tastes /that moony

combination/ something like cyprus and salt and bone.

 


Ann Pedone graduated from Bard College with a degree in English and has a Master’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature from UC Berkeley. Ann is the author of the chapbook The Bird Happened, and the chapbook perhaps there is a sky we don’t know about: a re-imagining of sappho is forthcoming in December. Her work has recently appeared in Riggwelter, Main Street Rag, Poet head, Cathexis Northwest, The Wax Paper, and The Phare, among others.

Sight of a Night Otter – Martin Potter

 

Scrabble on the slipway like

A dog making for the water

Caught too far from the river’s edge

Expecting solitude at that hour

 

The otter observed unhurried once

Back in the element supported

On welling untraceability

Swam away into its comfort

 

 

FullSizeRenderMartin Potter is a poet and academic, and his poems have appeared in Acumen, The French Literary Review, Eborakon, Scintilla, and other journals. His pamphlet In the Particular was published by Eyewear in December 2017. Read more at https://martinpotterpoet.home.blog.

Canvey Island – Rebecca Metcalfe

 

We spend the afternoon playing on the beach surrounded by fumes from the oil-refineries and chemical works. With our plastic spades we build sandcastles and dig for buried treasure. There’s a picnic of marmalade sandwiches and cartons of Ribena, then a shout of “tag: you’re it” starts the running around games. The tide hisses at us if we get too close. We run up to the bulging concrete flood-barrier and take it in turns to sneak round the edge to see if we can spot the troll we know lives behind it. He’ll get us if he sees us. We climb up and jump off into the sand with a thud. We have to rub our hands furiously up and down our legs to get the sand off before we can get back in the car. The drive home smells of seaweed and factory fumes, and we sit and laugh as we pick the grit out from under our fingernails.

 

 

22752130_10210178275199633_1006394601_nOriginally from Essex, Rebecca Metcalfe studied first at the University of Chester and then at the University of Liverpool. She now lives in an attic in Manchester with two black cats and works part time in a museum and part time in a restaurant. She has previously been published in Spelk, Flash: The International Short Story Magazine, Peach Street Magazine, Lumpen Journal, and Foxglove Journal, among others. She can be found on Twitter at @beckyannwriter.

Parental Guidance – Maurice Devitt

 

A hot summer’s day on the estate, tar-lines

softening in the blistering sun. Constructing

triangles with ice-pop sticks, we meld the corners

with our new liquorice glue and whip them

like frisbees from between our fingers,

to watch them ride the warm silent air,

twisting and dipping until they crash and split

like atoms, sticks splayed. I throw one

and it takes off, rising sharply as though from a sling,

then stalls like a cough and bounces off

the windscreen of a cornering car. Sliding

to a stop, the driver jumps out, engine left running.

I am already gone, scooting down the side-passage

of our house. He lopes up the steps, pounds on the door.

No answer at first, just the peripheral view

of a net-curtain settling. He looks up at the windows,

they hold their silence. He shuffles self-consciously

on the step. My mother opens the door, her small frame

standing tall in the doorway, her face suitably sullen.

The man is shouting about what I have done,

while my mother examines the chips in her fingernails.

He demands to see me as if it were his right

to exact some revenge. My mother seems to grow taller

in the darkened hallway, as I appear sheepishly

from beneath her housecoat. He stretches to grab me,

she pushes me back, takes one step forward and explains,

that while she is aware her son is young and reckless,

he does not need to feel this anger to know

that he is wrong. Fear will teach him nothing.

The man harrumphs and walks away. I catch

his last regretful glance from the driver’s seat,

knowing that, for me, this is not over yet.

 

 

Personal PhotoWinner of the Trócaire/Poetry Ireland and Poems for Patience competitions, Maurice Devitt has been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net Prizes and been runner-up in the Cúirt New Writing Prize, Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition and the Cork Literary Review Manuscript Competition. He published his debut collection Growing Up in Colour with Doire Press.

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.