I Have Walked This Path Before – James G. Piatt

 

I am peering through raindrops, which are

washing away my memories watching the past

fade as I walk along an old path I have walked on

many times before.

 

I have walked this path before, in the springtime

when cheery trees were pink with blossoms,

giant maple trees were showing their pink buds,

and young animals in their new born freedom

loped along the river, carefree, and filled with the

excitement of new birth.

 

I have walked this path before when the summer

heat silently placed its warmth upon my

shoulders as I sat on a beach chair near a placed

pond thinking about the beauty of nature, and

listening to the sweet warbling of tiny songbirds.

 

I have walked this path before when autumn’s

slowly increasing winds started their polished

journey into winter with whispered hints of

fading time, and the sun was covered with dark

moisture filled clouds.

 

I have walked this path before when the chill of

winter blurred my footsteps, tiny birds took

refuge in bushes and I, bundled up in wools and

layered cotton, pondered on the coldness of the

season, and what I should etch onto the marble

face of my tombstone.

 


James is an internationally published poet, a Best of Web nominee and three time Pushcart nominee. He has had four poetry books; Solace Between the Lines, Light, Ancient Rhythms, and The Silent Pond, 1500 poems, five novels, and 35 short stories published worldwide. He earned his doctorate from BYU, and his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, SLO. He writes poetry to maintain his sanity, and sometimes succeeds.

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.

Ghosts in the Nursery – Kerry Ryan

 

Will you help me? My son says.

Always, I reply, as I always do.

He looks up from his Lego.

What if one day you say no?

(To play what ifs is his favourite).

I laugh. That’ll never happen.

He pulls a roof tile off a brick.

But do some mamas not help?

 

My mind drills through years

to rain, ocean, storm.

 

Outside, a child wails.

Oh, that sound, I say.

My son frowns. What sound?

I can’t hear anything.

 


Kerry is the founder of Write like a Grrrl. Her writing has been featured in various publications including Steer, The Manchester Review, the Kenyon Review and Spilling Ink. Kerry has recently been published in Queerlings and has poems forthcoming from Off Menu Press. Her play Trust was recently performed at the Gulbenkian Theatre. Find Kerry on Twitter @writelikeagrrrl and at www.writelikeagrrrl.com.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Conspiracy – Dan A. Cardoza

 

It’s the last night of my once a year visit nearly complete. Actually, it’s our last visit ever. Another uncomfortable Thanksgiving has come and gone. Tomorrow, it’s back to Chicago.

Earlier in the day, mother asks me to trawl through the attic boxes, and fish out our childhood memories before they place the house on the market.

Later in the day, after an early supper, father and I sit alone facing each other at the opposite ends of the kitchen table. Mother is at church, volunteering for just about anything.

I stand; push two dusty childhood photographs I discovered toward father.

Father look, these are so familiar, yet distant? I voice.

Yes, they are nearly identical son, except one is underexposed, sepia. Not sure why you retrieved the photo box from the attic. Most of those years are dead and buried.

I only asked you to look at these two father.

Son, why do you insist that we look at any photos?

Not sure father, maybe it’s time. I remember you thumbing the fat camera levers on your new Polaroid 900. Mother was hovering nearby. I recall your big smile. We were posing and …

Yes.

Its then father stands to exit the room. His massive hand smothers the handle of his lacquered Mallacan cane, veined & crooked, a tan leather glove. Then he limps away.

In the chilled lens of a dusty sunset, the parched air drifts through the half closed window, hissing faintly through the screen, like a thousand tiny tongues singing a chorus of truth. A chill slowly slithers up my spine. It’s moments like this I dread. I feel such gloom, like an orphaned child.

Goodnight father, see you in the morning.

Goodnight.

Much later, as I retire, I hear subtle moans coming from his room, as he toils in the muddy pastures of his sleep. As if on cue, at 3:00 A.M., he sits up and stares into the dark, at nothing in particular. I know this because mother spoke of his nightmares that have only increased after he quit drinking. She also confessed his depression is getting worse.

Over the years, our family has weathered torrents that have washed away bridges, only to be restored by the uncomplicated architecture of distance and malaise. I still want to understand, but after so many years, the melody of deception is a cappella. I close my eyes and begin to wade into the shallow waters of sleep.

Then I enter the dark of a dream,

You take us to the park. We play hide and seek for hours. Only this time I am never found. Mother, crazed with fear eventually finds me walking into the mist of her high beam headlights, a shivering apparition. Nothing is ever the same.

Swimming back from the deep waters of sleep, toward dawns pale shore, I hear an unseen small voice, one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four…

 

 

Dan A. CardozaDan has an MS Degree. He is the author of four poetry Chapbooks, and a new collection of fiction, Second Stories. Recent Credits: 101 Words, Amethyst, UK., Chaleur Magazine, Cleaver Magazine, Dissections, Door=Jar, Entropy, Esthetic Apostle, Foxglove, Frogmore, High Shelf Press, Poetry Northwest, Rue Scribe, Runcible Spoon, Skylight 47, Spelk, Spillwords, The Fiction Pool, The Stray Branch, Urban Arts, The Zen Space, Tulpa and zeroflash.

I wish I’d studied palaeontology – Spangle McQueen

 

They used to teach that colour would never be detected in fossils.

But now it’s someone’s job to reveal the complexions

of dinosaurs, to unravel the hints about hues,

examining melanosomes and spherical organelles,

to conclude that, ‘You don’t have an orange and white tail

for nothing’. It’s someone’s job to pore over fossilised

forearms looking for the trace of quill knobs

or to separate spiral twists of fibres to analyse Jurassic

dandruff and to tell us with authority that these creatures

shed their skin in flakes. I wish I’d studied palaeontology

instead of forensic psychology. Primitive plumage

interests me more than psychopathy and the science

of empathy ever could.

 

 

20171019_233122-1Spangle McQueen is a happy grandma and hopeful poet living in Sheffield.

Eva – Spangle McQueen

 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – Emily Dickinson

 

If I left you a feather

preserved

in Burmese amber

would you treasure

 

this coelurosaur’s gift

wrapped in semi-

translucent resin?

Would you release

 

the ferrous

traces of my blood –

hopeful of

cloning?

 

Or would you reject

this humble

hollow-tailed thing –

ignore me – in favour of

an angel’s token?

 

 

20171019_233122-1Spangle McQueen is a happy grandma and hopeful poet living in Sheffield.

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.