Village Ceilidh 1922 – Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon

 

Flies buzz, zap the scullery window.

She wipes their last supper dishes,

mops her sticky forehead. Flings

the tea towel down on top the wash pile,

stacked teetering on quarry tiles.

Tomorrow’s duties tug her mind.

She loves them all, her sister’s two,

the three she’s born. All hers now,

along with David, once brother-in-law,

now husband, a man to be obeyed.

She’s been tied down, since Maggie died.

 

‘Esther-Ann, you there?’ Hannah,

calls out loud. ‘Aye lass, come in.’

‘A special day?’ asks Esther-Ann.

‘You’re done up pretty, so you are.’

‘It’s the dance,’ says Han. ‘Be fair,

you said you’d try to come, we’d pair?’

‘So it is, so it is, but David bid me,

Stay where you belong. At home.

I’ll maybe hear the music, later on tonight.’

‘More fool you girl,’ says Hannah,

and swishes out through summer’s

sunset, scattered pink-petalled light.

 

David downs his fifth, then thinks,

what if his girl takes flight? Weary,

he stumbles from the Castle Inn

and stops to stare. Sees Esther-Ann.

She’s on the grass bank, dreaming,

dancing, as the band plays on

across the way, pipes and fiddles

inside the hall where she dared not enter.

In fury, he grabs her arm, quicksteps

her to punishment. His errant wife,

a prisoner in her young, promised life.

 

 

IMGP1597_3_monochromeCeinwen previously worked as a Probation Officer, a Mental Health Social Worker and Practice Educator. She lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been published in web magazines and print anthologies. These include Fiction on the Web, Literally Stories, Alliterati, Stepaway, Poets Speak (whilst they still can), Three Drops from the Cauldron, Obsessed with Pipework, Picaroon, Amaryllis, Algebra of Owls, Write to be Counted, The Lake, Ink, Sweat and Tears,Riggwelter, Prole and The Curlew. She graduated from her MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University in December 2017. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

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The Piano – Robert James Berry

 

When you played,

the display china plates

would tinkle.

I’d imagine them falling

especially when you trilled,

which was integral,

a profound thrill. But

most of all I loved

the big-boned silence

between black chords,

now that was resounding.

 

 

RJBRobert James Berry lives and writes in Dunedin, New Zealand. He is the author of nine collections of poetry: ‘Smoke’ (2000), ‘Stone’ (2004), ‘Seamark’ (2005),’Sky Writing’ (2006),’Sun Music’ (2007),’Mudfishes’ (2008), ‘Moontide’ (2010), ‘Swamp Palace’ (2012) and ‘Toffee Apples’ (2014). His poetry has appeared in literary magazines such as ‘Stand’ (Leeds, UK), ‘Poetry Salzburg’ (Salzburg, Austria), ‘Westerly’ (Perth, AUS), ‘Rattapallax’ (NY, USA) and ‘Landfall’ (Dunedin, NZ). Robert was born in the UK and educated in England, Ireland and Scotland. He holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Stirling, Scotland and MA and BA degrees from the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland. He has lectured in English Literature at universities in England, Malaysia and New Zealand. He is married with three sons.

A Storm in My Heart – Geraldine McCarthy

 

We sit cross-legged on the carpeted floor, slugging cheap red wine. Our combined CD collections lie in a heap between us.

“How’re you set for tomorrow’s classes?” Kate asks, ever smiling, ever upbeat.

I frown. “I think my lesson plans are okay, but I hope my supervisor doesn’t come ‘til next week.”

“Maybe that’s because you’re a bit of a perfectionist, Rachel?” she says, gently. “Me, I hope my notes are good enough. After that, Mr Davis will have to take me as he finds me.”

We have a tendency to talk shop. Thursday night, our housemates are out on the batter, but we need to be reasonably fresh for school.

“So, what are we going to play next?” I ask, stretching my legs to avoid the feeling of pins and needles.

“‘Here Comes the Sun.’” Kate puts the CD in, closes her eyes, throws back her head, and smiles.

The tune fills the room. I can see how it would be her favourite. I sip more wine and marvel at the simplicity of the lyrics.

The song ends and we allow a silence to settle.

“Your turn,” she says.

I hesitate. “It’s called ‘A Storm in My Heart.’” I flip through the CDs, find Dolores Keane, and kneel to pop the disc in the player. Music fills the room and I feel like an empty Coke can being tossed down the street in the wind.

The smile slips from Kate’s face. Song over, she is first to speak.  “It’s a bit dark, isn’t it?”

“I suppose.” An image of Dan in his best suit comes to me unbidden. He wore it  – navy with a delicate pinstripe – at my cousin’s wedding. Our last outing.

“Maybe we should finish up for the night,” she says, “in case of a supervision tomorrow?”

“You’re right.” I tidy the CDs into two neat piles.

We troop upstairs.

I toss and turn in my bed. Five years I’d gone out with Dan. It started with the Debs. I invited him. Always that insecurity that I was the one to ask him. Then, last summer when I got back from a holiday in Australia, he said he’d been seeing someone else.

They say grieving for a living person is worse than grieving for the dead. They also say we can create hell in our own heads. Is that what I’ve been doing?

Before drifting off to sleep, I imagine tree branches becoming still again, clouds parting, debris being swept away, and a ray of sneaky sunshine poking through.

 

 

IMG_0407Geraldine McCarthy lives in West Cork. In a former life she was involved in tutoring, lecturing, translation and research. She has been writing short stories and flash fiction for nearly three years now. Her work has been published in The Fable Online, The Incubator Journal, Seven Deadly Sins: a YA Anthology (Gluttony, Wrath, Avarice), Scarlet Leaf Review, Brilliant Flash Fiction and Every Day Fiction. Find her at https://www.facebook.com/cruthaitheacht.

View from Ferryside – Byron Beynon

 

History oozing into pores

invigorates the past;

there’s the castle for instance,

high on a humpbacked hill

reaching out from Llansteffan’s

sand-ferrying shore.

The eternal language of seabirds

regional accents

in the warm rain

as they dive and soar,

sudden shifts in scale and tempo

recording the deep tales

from the journeying sea.

A landscape navigating

through the syllabus of days

that have vanished

onto the skin of time.

The air pure with thoughts,

clear with water-music

occupies this space

entering the cartographer’s

coast of memory.

 

 

Byron Beynon 2014Byron Beynon lives in Swansea, Wales. His work has appeared in several publications including London Magazine, Poetry Ireland Review, San Pedro River Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Yellow Nib and the human rights anthology In Protest (University of London and Keats House Poets). Collections include Human Shores (Lapwing Publications) and The Echoing Coastline (Agenda Editions).

Witchcraft – Andrew Nowell

 

I

 

She was always the one who was different.

Her lazy eye cast a roving shadow,

Fell at oblique angles into the netherworld

Where sin and desire might mingle.

 

The line-up was a simple job.

She stood no chance against the other eight.

Familiar number. Familiar fate.

 

After the burning the death pall

Hangs heavy over hovels, chokes air.

Reek of wood and rope lingers for days.

Charred splinters circle-blown by wind.

 

 

II

 

Anyone could have picked her out.

Anyone at all would have noticed her.

Accusers only needed eyes to speak.

 

These words return to him.

He feels their physical touch in blackened watches.

He yearns for cigars. He yearns for scotches.

 

I have never seen stars so black and cold.

Music from the future time-loops in my head.

A goddess without answers blows out the moon.

Gates open. A train stops in a fierce wind.

 

 

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.

Bed Against the Partition – Roy Moller

 

In from Ontario to have me,

she rooms in a floral,

threadbare situation

in strange Scotland,

picking up chanting

from Infants and Juveniles,

and pigtailed little madams

shoo-ing away

clodhopping brogues

from elaborate elastics

and hopscotch plotted

in chalk mark.

 

She samples the songs of

pat-a-cake in action.

She is handsome, she is pretty,

She is the flower of the golden city.

 

She’s seven months seeded,

sitting out playtime

perched on the edge

of a tartan coverlet

wishing the quilt

and pillow would muffle

anxious appointments,

obligations pressing upon her

and pressing within her

till she can skip over

this rope again forever.

 

Roy MollerRoy Moller is a poet and songwriter who lives in Dunbar on the east coast of Scotland. He is the author of the short-run collection Imports and his work has been featured in the anthologies The Sea (Rebel Poetry) and Neu! Reekie! UntitledTwo. His musical works include My Week Beats Your Year, described by Louder Than War as “profoundly moving and inspirational”. His website is www.roymoller.com.

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.

Reel Life – Chrissi Sepe

 

Why did I choose “Dance of the Dwarfs” when my dad’s best friend, Elijah, had me perform piano for his new friend? This stranger was a glum man with a blonde bowl haircut and bangs: the spitting image of Paul Williams.

“You must listen to her play!” Elijah said. “She’s a child prodigy!”’

My piano teacher gave me the song only hours earlier. What made me think I could play it? My fingers fumbled, and I knew I was horrible.

“Always a pleasure,” Elijah said.

Elijah had heard me play dozens of times. I gazed up at Paul Williams from the piano bench. He simply nodded.

“Why don’t you sit in with us in your dad’s studio?” Elijah asked.

The studio was actually my parents’ bedroom where my dad kept his reel-to-reel machine. There were seven people already crammed around the double bed, all facing the reel-to-reel that stood to the side of the room on a small, wooden table. Everyone focused on the melodic music of trumpets, drums, guitars, and the sweetest voice that ever emanated from a woman: Marcy with the beautiful, long, blonde hair. She had a tiny brown, cut out leather purse strapped around her gold turtleneck sweater and those Indian moccasins that dominated the streets of the 1970’s. Elijah closed his eyes as we listened to the song written by my dad.

“Beautiful! Bravo!” Elijah said, eyes now open, his hands applauding loudly.

“You are an amazing singer!” my dad exclaimed, turning to Marcy.

My heart gently sank because my dad never complimented anyone on their singing. He was a singer himself, therefore a harsh critic.

Back in the living room, my mom sat on our couch, reading a magazine. I sensed that she didn’t like when musicians hung out in her bedroom on a weeknight. Why did she want to spoil the fun?

“Mom?” I asked. “Why do you think Elijah closed his eyes while the song played?”

“It helps people listen to the music better.”

I was surprised she had an answer.

Several years later when I was a teen, my dad died, and Marcy sent us a condolence card. I told Elijah how thoughtful that was.

“Oh yeah, Marcy! She blamed me for not contacting her to tell her how sick your dad was. She’d heard from someone else that he’d passed. I hadn’t heard from the woman in years, and she reams me out?!”

When my mom tossed out most of the sympathy cards, I grabbed Marcy’s from the pile and brought it into my bedroom. I cradled it in my hands.

Over the years, I’ve mostly remembered how my dad complimented Marcy’s voice and how Paul Williams only nodded after I’d played my song. What I should carry more closely in my heart is how Elijah invited me to hear my dad’s reel-to-reels. And how my mom knew exactly how to answer the question of why Elijah’s eyes were closed when he listened to the music.

 

unnamedChrissi Sepe is the author of novels, “Bliss, Bliss, Bliss,” and “Iggy Gorgess.” Her essay “Anais Nin – A Recipe for Immortality” appears in Volume 13 of the Anais Nin Literary Journal, and her short story, “Caramel Macchiatos and Conversation,” is in Volume 14, both published by Sky Blue Press.

Everything bright and illuminated – Melissa Goode

 

He sits in the back row. The concert has already begun and the stage is lit. The school orchestra plays Bach. His daughter, Joanna, is stern, focussed, behind a cello. They sound excellent, but he will tell me they dropped x, raced across y, and could have lingered at z and he will hum it a little to show me how it should have sounded. I will say, she’s seventeen. She’s a star. He will smile, probably at my ignorance, my upbringing, my haven’t-got-a-clue.

#

I stand in the doorway, my wet umbrella drips London rain onto the floor. Joanna is vivid on stage with her red hair. She is a flame. He faces straight ahead, lit by the light from the stage, a portrait. His gaze is hard, merciless, like a hawk. She dips her head over the cello and I feel the movement in my chest.

#

We could lie on a beach in Hawaii, him and me, pale beneath the white blaze of the sun. Joanna plays in the water and meets American boys and girls her age who make her laugh. We drink frozen cocktails all day—strawberry, coconut, lime, pineapple. Let’s try mango. There is sand everywhere, in the carpet, the shower, under our nails, inside our ears. When he and I lie down at night, he leaves the lamp on and looks at me like he could eat me entirely. We move slowly as if we have all fucking day and night. We do.

#

He has saved a seat. I touch his shoulder and he looks up at me. Sorry, traffic, I whisper. Hello, he mouths. He smiles. I move past his sharp knees to the seat, his hands reach out and hold my waist as I go.

 

MG_WEB-7Melissa Goode’s work has appeared in Best Australian Short Stories, Griffith Review, New World Writing, Litro Magazine, Pithead Chapel, Gravel, and Jellyfish Review among others. One of her short stories has been made into a film by the production company, Jungle. You can find her here: www.melissagoode.com and at twitter.com/melgoodewriter.

Ascending from Vilenica Cavern – Glen Sorestad

 

One hundred thirty-four stone steps

drag us into the somber underground.

It is so novel an act, we have no thought

of what lies ahead when the time

comes to return to the comfort of earth.

 

Here in Slovenia’s Karst region

this huge limestone cave awes the breath

from us as, step by step, we descend

from sunlit warmth to eight degrees —

a constant, day or night, year in or out.

 

In this well-used cavern at a location

that is not its lowest depth at all,

but a spacious room where music

is played and prayers are uttered,

we listen to a brass ensemble blow

bats right-side-up, with notes flying

into every rock niche, sliding up

and down stalactites and stalagmites,

reaching out and up, shivering

a thousand candles with delight.

 

Over flicker and sputter of tapers

poets declaim poems and bring

evening to a close. Now we must

ascend to dark Slovenian night.

One hundred thirty-four steps: the test.

 

Up from the underground we climb,

single file, a stream of souls spiralling

to an imagined heaven. Our first steps

identical to those of the descent,

but now steps enlarge and each leg

must somehow be lifted higher.

A cruel joke? Has someone altered

the step size while we were below?

At one hundred steps we huff

and wheeze, wanting to stop

and rest, but there is no stop,

no looking back on this ascent

from the underworld, just keep

our eyes on the climber ahead

and hope that person doesn’t stop

or falter because these steps

will not suffice for two. If one

person stops, then we all must.

 

The only sounds are footfall

on stone, the puff and gasp,

and the rustle of clothing.

Just when we think our hearts

will burst and our leaden legs

will not budge another step,

we are returned to earth.

Night is cool, a lighted path

leads us to food and wine.

 

Sorestad 5x7Glen Sorestad is a Canadian poet whose work has appeared in publication in various parts of the world, has appeared in over 60 anthologies and textbooks, and has been translated into eight languages. Sorestad lives with his wife Sonia in Saskatoon on the northern plains.

Bali – John Grey

 

Sea water laps against the docks,

the bright, inclusive restaurants,

their gaily painted menus

selling their show

to passing tongues.

 

The air is good enough to eat,

lawa, babi guling,

cascading smells of soy and chili.

 

Night-clubs

soundtrack the breeze.

Some places, its one guy strumming a guitar.

another, the tuneful choral chimes of gamelan.

 

A myna bird rocks on a branch,

converses with the deep loll of a gong.

 

An old woman perches against

the post office wall,

tenun woven cloths spread before her

 

Old men,

their brown faces weathered like figs,

look out at the few moored boats

that appear and disappear

in swaying dock lights.

 

Signposts lead to pleasures great and small.

Sounds or sights, food or drink.

it’s a sorry night

when everyone’s not inebriated with something.

 

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.

The Moon’s Call – Natalie Crick

 

Hush now,

The sound of the moon

Budding on the float of her own white voice,

 

Her call, like

Spider silk strung from the darkest

Branches, swaying woozily.

 

Moon turns her ripe eye

To the ground, making

Music that melts,

 

The whole wood

Lit with alarm,

Dawn like a black knife.

 

Natalie Crick PhotoNatalie Crick, from the UK, has poetry published or forthcoming in a range of journals and magazines including Interpreters House, Ink In Thirds, The Penwood Review, The Chiron Review and Rust and Moth. Her work also features or is forthcoming in a number of anthologies, including Lehigh Valley Vanguard Collections 13. This year her poem ‘Sunday School’ was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Weekend – Jonathan Butcher

 

Hapless at weekends, yet still with that

contrived joy; in the beer gardens and car

parks, where perfume and aftershave still

smell fresh against fake fur and denim.

 

The hiss of music from the outside speakers,

that threaten to fall, but never damage conversation.

The bottles strewn across badly mounted tables

and tree torn, cracked pavements.

 

The warmth of this room blocks out winter, yet

its shell remains fragile, like rusted gates that

no longer retain the strength to block out the

weakest of imposters.

 

And again we glide without protest, our voices

placed only where needed, our feet as nimble

as ever; tripping over curbs now an art form,

that at last we have finally mastered.

 

Foxglove submissionJonathan Butcher is a poet based in Sheffield, England. He has had poetry appear in various print and online journals including Ink, Sweat and Tears, Elbow Room, Your One Phone Call, Mad Swirl, The Transnational and others. His second chapbook ‘Broken Slates’ was published by Flutter Press.

Da Eye Wifey / Woods Number 1 – Kersten Christianson

 

Title “Da Eye Wifey” borrowed from Shooglenifty.

 

Emerge from the fog road

squint-eyed

to belly flopping waves

jumping from one small sea-

sick ferry to another

saltwater & cod tongues

summer grasses & violet lupine.

Blue butterflies swarm

the sunlit forest.

Awakened, we ramble;

Trans-Canada Highway

from west to east

and back again.

Mile 0,

I’d follow you forever.

Chime of cymbal,

song’s end.

 

img_2972Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, high school English-teaching Alaskan. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry through the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2016. Kersten’s recent work has appeared in Cirque, Inklette, Sheila-Na-Gig and Pure Slush. Her book Something Yet to Be Named by Aldrich Press and her chapbook titled What Caught Raven’s Eye by Petroglyph Press will be published in 2017. Kersten co-edits the quarterly journal Alaska Women Speak. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon Territory, she lives in Sitka, Alaska with her husband and photographer Bruce Christianson, and daughter Rie.

 

Erebus – Christopher Eskilson

 

Days have passed since

I

was in my mouth,

long and oddly shaped.

 

The touches

of a dead rock leave me opened wide.

Silence sits beneath a maze of multiplying sand.

 

I had never forgotten a tune the planets learned,

brightening like a spoon collecting

pictures of a gone world.

 

Now, my pupils burn.

The innards of a feeling blacken.

The vibrations sigh

& bury your

excuse me.

 

Let go, spreading out along a road

cutting through my woods.

I rub my tongue in evening as

the pines curl asleep.

 

Listen:

The dream

—its special music—

hums.

 

This is the mind;

cold and black light blue;

the desert carelessly approaches.

 

A sea of squeezing bites.

 

I can’t inhabit where I goes.

An effigy,

a wild silence.

Living, burning, lost control.

 

img_1684Christopher Eskilson is a Junior at Pitzer College studying English and world literature. He is a managing editor at the Claremont Colleges’ The Student Life Newspaper and also an associate editor for Claremont Graduate University’s Foothill poetry magazine. In the past, he has worked as an editorial intern for Red Hen Press in Pasadena, California. Christopher’s work has appeared in After the Pause, 30 N (formerly the North Central Review), Apeiron Review, A Quiet Courage, and others.