Balinese pool – J V Birch

 

I find peace in a Balinese pool

swathes of water lilies

hide the flash of fish below.

 

A stone girl reclines in its centre

frangipani flowers scattered

like worn lovers around her.

 

A dragonfly zips through

trailblazing its colour

between a blur of crisp wings.

 

I crouch to look closer.

 

What I thought were brown spots

are fingernail-sized frogs

squatting on lily pads like tiny worries.

 

I watch a few flick into fathomless depths.

 

J V Birch website photoJ V Birch lives in Adelaide. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, journals and magazines across Australia, the UK, Canada and the US. She has two collections – Smashed glass at midnight and What the water & moon gave me – published by Ginninderra Press, and is currently working on her third. She blogs at www.jvbirch.com.

Long Distance – Catherine LoFrumento

 

I talk to myself

when it’s quiet

 

but your voice

is persistent

 

whispering from

the mountains

 

about the touch

of the sea.

 

bio photoCatherine lives in Connecticut with her husband and fur babies. Though not scientifically proven, she likes to think that earning degrees in both English and Accounting confirms that both sides of her brain work. Her poetry has been featured in various journals and anthologies including NeverlastingCattails, Modern Haiku, Frogpondbottle rockets, 50 HaikusThree Line Poetry, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and wild voices: an anthology of short poetry and art by women. To see more of her ramblings follow her on Twitter @Catherin03.

Cityscape – Ali Jones

 

In concrete jungles, he dreams concrete trees,

to knock at his window in perfect cadences,

 

as night lowers the sky and curtains run their tracks.

He sees seeds lifted in the air, blown high

 

to ride with clouds, on moth wings and

twilight whispers. The trees have seen him,

 

they know where he sleeps, watch them lean in

and put their heads together, to show him

 

imagination and free thinking, without and within,

in grey skies, under a metal moon, a triumph of green.

 

Author photo 2Ali Jones is a teacher and mother of three. Her work has appeared in Fire, Poetry Rivals, Strange Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin Poetry, Atrium, Mother’s Milk Books, Breastfeeding Matters, Breastfeeding Today and Green Parent magazine. She has also written for The Guardian.

Favourite – Ali Jones

 

I always choose yellow, because it excites me,

but not when it ripens into a bruise,

the brightening of the sky so enticing,

the bleeding below the surface of a limb not so.

 

I have seen the ochre tinged stirrings

of a curried cauldron, a mother’s cooking.

a shock on white china, and amber stare,

telescoped from another continent,

 

and the strands, so valuable, pressed

in a golden red O, so beautiful behind plastic,

a stained glass window breathing like

a monument, waiting to be opened.

 

Flower centred, the blessing of yellow,

a promise circled to contain, yolked,

I have seen life visible, an artefact

of light, on a river’s mirrored edge.

 

 

Author photo 2Ali Jones is a teacher and mother of three. Her work has appeared in Fire, Poetry Rivals, Strange Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin Poetry, Atrium, Mother’s Milk Books, Breastfeeding Matters, Breastfeeding Today and Green Parent magazine. She has also written for The Guardian.

Ballet Studio, June Evening – Meredith LeMaître

 

I look into

the everlasting

electric

of the sky

it pours a little ambrosia

Onto a single spot of the ginger floor

Each hair of my outstretched arm

Picked out in fine

Gold,

Muscles rippling like a vast and sinuous ocean

I breathe in the strength of a thousand other dancers

And the musk of early June.

 

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, Poetry Rivals: Immersed in Words Young Writers’ Anthology (Finalist) and a local paper. She loves writing, crafting , acroyoga and ballet and is interested in colour, fashion and mythology.

Eustace – Sandra Arnold

 

The shock of seeing Eustace in the charity shop window almost rattled Miranda out of her skin. She’d never believed her parents’ insistence that they hadn’t got rid of him. But twenty years later there he was. Eustace as he’d looked at the edge of the sea, watching her father tip grandpa’s ashes into the waves. Watching her father’s tears as the arc of grey grit hit the water. Listening to tales of grandpa’s fishing days; how he’d taught generations of boys to swim and fish and sail; how he was the best of men. While her cousins watched bits of crushed bone drift away on the tide, Miranda watched the boy. His white curls haloed around his head like the seeds of a dandelion clock before they’re blown away by the wind. She asked him who he was. “Eustace,” he said.

The psychiatrist suggested art therapy as a way to unlock whatever had caused Miranda’s mutism. However, he added, as several of her cousins exhibited the same symptoms there was probably a genetic component.

While Miranda painted Eustace he told her he knew why all the girls in her family were mute. She didn’t go back to art therapy. Instead she talked to Eustace.

The psychiatrist reassured Miranda’s parents that imaginary companions were common in solitary children, and it was simply coincidence that the boy in Miranda’s painting resembled her grandpa’s brother who’d drowned as a child, and when Miranda started socialising with real children the imaginary one would disappear. He did. And so did the painting.

“Nice painting, eh?’ said the charity shop owner.

She nodded. “I’ll take it.”

She’d show her cousins. She’d tell them about Eustace. She’d tell them everything.

 

Sandra's author photoSandra Arnold lives in New Zealand. She is a novelist, essayist, short story and flash-fiction writer with a PhD in Creative Writing from CQ University, Australia. Her work has been widely published and anthologised in New Zealand and internationally and has won several awards. Her flash fiction appears in numerous journals including The Airgonaut, Spelk, Jellyfish Review, Flash FrontierBlue Fifth Review and was selected for the UK 2017 National Flash Fiction Day international anthology, Sleep is a beautiful colour. Learn more at http://authors.org.nz/author/sandraarnold.

A Day Unresolved – Ray Miller

 

So un-asleep, the sheet’s

a beach of footprints

waiting for the tide.

 

Question-marked, crucified,

an inquisition

scales her eyes.

 

Wincing at infinities,

she picks a spot

and stares at it.

 

Each star a prick,

a javelin

thrown across the centuries.

 

She holds her breath

and waits the pin

before light breaks

 

her open skin.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARay Miller has been writing poetry about 10 years on a regular basis and has appeared in lots of magazines – Antiphon, Snakeskin, Prole, Open Mouse. He is an ex-psychiatric nurse, now retired. He has a marvellous wife and 8 children, 4 of whom are adopted.

Darjeeling – Sudha Balagopal

 

The voice on the scratchy microphone announces a weather-related train delay. Rubbing cold hands, Jon makes his way to the station’s cafeteria. A petite young woman with high cheekbones sits at a table by the window; her hodgepodge bags lie strewn.

“May I?” he points to the vacant chair.

When she nods, he settles down, orders Darjeeling tea —fitting for Northeastern India. Despite grimy windows, the snow-capped Himalayas are breathtaking, clouds bobbing around majestic peaks.

“I’m Jon.” He rests his elbows on the table. “You’re from here?”

She resettles the woolen shawl over her shoulders. “I’m… Saya.” She gestures toward the mountains, says, “I’m from there,” in accented English.

“Lucky.”

She shrugs.

Tea arrives; he removes the cozy, pours himself a cup.

“I suppose your train’s delayed too? On your way home?” he asks.

“No.”

The tea is delicate, fragrant. She’s prickly.

“I’m heading further north.” He smiles, attempts humor. “Perhaps I’ll find Shangri-La.”

“Good luck.” She frowns. “You won’t have cell phones there, or internet. No movies or restaurants.”

She doesn’t like her mountain home?

He watches as she gathers her belongings and leaves the cafeteria.

***

Later, he spots her huddled against cutting wind, peering at the tracks on the opposite side of the platform. No trains on either side. More raspy words emerge from the microphone.

He pulls the hoodie over his head, approaches her.

“Hello, again!” He intends to inquire about his train.

She doesn’t turn around to look at him.

The wind swirls her words, attempts to take them. He thinks she says, “Go away!”

“Where?” He tries humor again.

“What?”

“I want to find out about this train delay. Please understand I’ve come a long way to see the Himalayas.”

“What you imagine isn’t… I can tell you my mountain village is closed, small, suffocating. The sameness…” She’s bitter; her nostrils quiver.

“I shouldn’t look for lost paradise?” He hopes his smile is disarming.

“You and your Shangri-La!” She turns to look at him, her cheeks red.

“What’s wrong with wanting to find it?” He pulls on gloves, drops the smile.

She glares at him. “It’s not real!”

Another incoherent announcement comes through the system. He tilts his head and closes his eyes to make sense of it.

When he opens them, she’s slipped away in her noiseless manner.

***

He walks into the station manager’s office. They tell him all trains, up and down, are canceled until tomorrow. He must find lodgings for the night.

A commotion as an older, heavy-set man bursts in. “Saya!” he yells, the single word wrapped in menace. Jon doesn’t understand the rest.

While officials attempt to calm the man, Jon’s eyes scour the platforms.

The sun weakens and heavy clouds gather. Soon, the mountains are obscured. Along with Saya, Shangri-La is lost in the horizon.

 

Author2.1Sudha Balagopal’s recent short fiction has appeared in Foliate Oak, Peacock Journal, Right Hand Pointing and Jellyfish Review among other journals. She is the author of a novel, A New Dawn, and two short story collections, There are Seven Notes and Missing and Other Stories. Read more at www.sudhabalagopal.com.

Azarquiel Bridge, Toledo – Ray Ball

 

The plateau was hot and dusty.

It claimed me as clay for its baking.

 

I walked to the train station

With feet swollen,

With fingers parched by parchment and paper,

Parched by dry air,

Parched by the past I sought.

 

I seek.

 

I stopped on the bridge to rest,

To watch the water.

The river thirsts.

 

Glimmers of heat reflected off its surface.

For a moment, I saw a watery mirage of the palaces of Galiana.

 

The Tagus has never rushed.

It takes centuries,

Slowly submerging legends.

It wastes no energy as it wends to the sea.

Languid.

 

The river inscribed its banks into dry meseta,

Meandered past the temples of Romans and Visigoths,

Past the homes of Christians and Moors.

They inscribed their parchments with ink.

 

FullSizeRender (1)Ray Ball has a PhD in History and teaches at the University of Alaska Anchorage. When not in the classroom or the archives of Europe and Latin America, she enjoys hiking, biking, running marathons, and spending time with her spouse Mark and neurotic beagle Bailey. She has published history books and essays with several presses. Her poems have appeared in Alaska Women Speak and Eunoia Review.

A Slow News Day – Maurice Devitt

 

It is already mid-morning and the sky

is still undecided. A placeholder

of pesky grey, not definite enough

for rain and too shy for sun. Maybe

today has been cancelled and nothing

will happen, not even to the man

who is walking his dog by the side

of the lake, revelling in the deal

that he closed just before he came out,

looking forward to a dinner with family

and friends, and failing to hold his footing

as he throws a wet stick across the water.

 

Personal PhotoRunner-up in The Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition in 2017, Maurice Devitt was winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015 and has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award, Listowel Collection Competition, Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, Cork Literary Review  and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. He has had poems published in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia, runs the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and is a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

Vacation Is Beginning – James G. Piatt

 

Vacation is beginning.

The dim glow of the early morning sun is

Crawling through the cracks in a rustic

Rented cabin showering the rooms with

A soft tempo of light. The night crickets

Have stopped chirping and the frogs

Have finished their nightly chorus, of

Croaking chords.

 

The dew is melting on the grass, and

The faces of the wild Lilies in the leas

Are opening up to view the rays of the

Sun. The coyotes have escaped to their

Day lairs, and the deer are hiding deep

In the bushes.

 

The children are waking late in the

Morning to the aroma of pancakes; and

Eggs and bacon in the kitchen, for

School buses and learning have

Departed for the summer.

 

The dawn’s early sun is beginning its

Daily tour of the cabin’s garden and the

Raspberry vines in the old orchard; and

An old stripped cat is sneaking into the

Field to find its morning mouse.

 

Bio pic 2James, a retired professor and octogenarian, is a Pushcart and Best of Web nominee, and his poems were selected for inclusion in The 100 Best Poems of 2016, 2015 & 2014 Anthologies, and the 2017 Poet’s Showcase and Yearbook. He has published 3 collections of poetry, “The Silent Pond” (2012), “Ancient Rhythms” (2014), and “LIGHT” (2016), and 1000 poems, in such magazines as Miller’s Pond, American Aesthetic, Gold Dust Poetry, Scarlet Leaf, The Linnet’s Wings and over 120 others. His fourth collection of poetry will be released this year. He earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, and his doctorate from BYU.

The River – Jade Cuttle

 

Oblinsky Plateau, Siberia

 

The mist above the river hangs in hesitation

like the tingle of flies, time bending slowly

in on itself like the spill of the sun as it turns

 

a blind eye to the chaotic curl of the current,

shoving its swell through the morning rush

of rocks shifting restless beneath the surface:

 

this river is ready to be ripped from its bed,

stripped of its sheets, dragged by the drift,

its stitches of silt worked loose by the tide

 

before it can rise, like a splinter of sunlight 

whose split is slight then all of a sudden

has swallowed the sky.

 

14918995_10207367984386074_1304119016607472935_o (1) 1Jade Cuttle read literature at University of Cambridge. She has performed on BBC Radio 3 in association with BBC Proms (The Art of Splinters) and is broadcast regularly across BBC Introducing. She has been commissioned for BBC podcasts celebrating Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary and won competitions run by Ledbury Poetry Festival, Foyle Young Poets, BBC Proms, and the Poetry Book Society. She is currently working as Daljit Nagra’s Apprentice Poet-In-Residence at Ilkley Literature Festival and is looking to publish her first pamphlet. If you enjoy her work, you are warmly invited to follow here: www.facebook.com/jadecuttle.

Losing Mum – Arlene Antoinette

 

I dreamt of wild flowers

in a field filled with little girls

blowing hair off handfuls

of dandelions. Little boys chasing

two headed giraffes, and grandmother

holding up her famous peace cobbler

to the sun yelling for everyone to come

and get some.

Hungry, I headed towards the

house but stopped as I saw you there

holding baby Johnny in your arms

soothing him with one of those lullabies

you used to make up. The sound of rhythmic

clicks played just beyond your words.

When I opened my eyes, I was sitting alongside

your bed, your chest rising and falling as the

respirator forced air into your uninterested

lungs.

 

stillmyeyeArlene Antoinette enjoys writing poetry and flash fiction. More of her work may be found at: Sick Lit Mag, GIRLSENSE AND NONSENSE and Boston Accent Lit.

Earthworms – Ion Corcos

 

Beneath the earth,

worms burrow

 

corridors

 

leave behind a map

of nostalgia.

 

On the surface

they find no rain,

search for pools

on concrete paths.

 

Some lie empty,

crumpled;

beyond life,

 

corridors

 

the last relics

left behind.

 

Ion CorcosIon Corcos has been published in Grey Sparrow Journal, Clear Poetry, Communion, The High Window and other journals. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Ion is a nature lover and a supporter of animal rights. He is currently travelling indefinitely with his partner, Lisa. Ion’s website is www.ioncorcos.wordpress.com.

Lady Convolvulus – Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt

 

Pretty as a picture in white and pink,

Lady Convolvulus lifts up her head;

the jewels of the morning adorn her cheeks

and her green gown winds about her legs.

 

And my lady creeps and my lady runs;

on a summer wind she blows.

She tilts her chin to kiss the sun

and follows where he goes.

 

And my Lady sighs, then my Lady weeps;

my lady cleaves and she clings.

She binds up her lover and where he sleeps

a green and fecund web she spins.

 

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Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt writes poetry and short fiction from her home in Penzance, Cornwall where she lives with her singer/songwriter partner David and her little dog, Percy. Formerly a teacher of English and English Literature, her work has now appeared in more than a hundred journals, magazines and anthologies and on several continents. When she is not actually writing or performing her work she is most likely to be reading, hooking rugs or walking by the ocean.