Honest Hands – Susan Richardson

 

If he is the rain, then I am gravel,

parched under the embers of shame,

longing for the relief of him.

He washes the soot of loneliness

from my skin and offers me comfort.

 

Irish blood and bones, he is

the son of verdant landscapes,

shared pints of stout and fierce loyalty.

He navigates life vigorously

and laughs with his whole body.

 

His voice carries the tones of Autumn,

rich with the luster of unravelling gold.

I sink into the warmth of his words as

he helps stitch my broken limbs

with threads offered from his heart.

 

I remember so clearly the night

he wrapped his arms willingly

around my imperfections.

It was the first time I was

touched by honest hands.

 

 

IMG_0069Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Hollywood. She was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 2002 and much of her work focuses on her relationship to the world as a partially sighted woman. In addition to poetry, she writes a blog called “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”. Her work has been published in: Stepping Stones Magazine, Wildflower Muse, The Furious Gazelle, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Foxglove Journal, Literary Juice and Sick Lit Magazine, with pieces forthcoming in Amaryllis. She was also awarded the Sheila-Na-Gig Winter Poetry Prize.

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Rain – Louise Wilford

 

The rain, it raineth every day.

Slugs cower beneath the pavement slabs –

the sage leaves curl, their powder spent –

the quilted mint leaves pillow through their veins

and spears of tarragon drip glassy beads.

 

The painted terracotta cat

no longer casts out beams of candle light,

just snivels, shoulders huddled in the chill.

The real cat shelters underneath the bench.

The rain, it raineth every day.

 

The rain, it raineth every day.

Chlorophyll glisters green on every branch.

The guttering spews an endless waterfall.

The rags of rubbish blown out of some skip

are stuck with watery bullets to the fence.

 

The rain, it raineth every day.

The traffic is a dampened lullaby,

a pebbled stream that boils across a weir,

the ache of a wave collapsing on a beach,

nudging the rounded rocks and shells.

 

But still the loud rich smell of dampened earth,

the bursts of thyme and parsley as I pass,

the slick pink smell of early flowers, 

trumpets the spring through the cloud-drenched air.

But the rain, it raineth every day.

 

 

unnamed (2)Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford is an English teacher and examiner. She has had around 60 poems and short stories published in magazines including Popshot, Pushing Out The Boat and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. She is currently writing a children’s fantasy novel.

Human, Somehow – M.J. Iuppa

 

Still dark, yet it’s morning.

autumn rains have begun.

 

One day into the next, soon

arctic air will press upon us

 

and snow will cover cornstalks

with feathers, light and strong

 

enough to lift in sustaining

wind, like a breath of wings

 

ascending into a net of

starlings, disappearing . . .

 

 

MJ Publicity1 CropM.J. Iuppa is the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program and Lecturer in Creative Writing at St. John Fisher College; and since 2000 to present, is a part time lecturer in Creative Writing at The College at Brockport. Since 1986, she has been a teaching artist, working with students, K-12, in Rochester, NY, and surrounding area. Most recently, she was awarded the New York State Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching, 2017. She has four full length poetry collections,This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017), Small Worlds Floating (2016) as well as Within Reach (2010) both from Cherry Grove Collections; Night Traveler (Foothills Publishing, 2003); and 5 chapbooks. She lives on a small farm in Hamlin NY.

Along the Way – M.J. Iuppa

 

Standing squarely on rip-

rap that juts out into Ontario,

 

like a shaft of a house key

unlocking robust waves

 

into a spray of silver—

glittering in its arc

 

that rains upon us

like pure joy.

 

A moment where

we look up through

 

the cold air’s brightness

and see the distance

 

to another country

cloud over with gulls.

 

We know how

to read this passage

 

without words.

 

 

MJ Publicity1 CropM.J. Iuppa is the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program and Lecturer in Creative Writing at St. John Fisher College; and since 2000 to present, is a part time lecturer in Creative Writing at The College at Brockport. Since 1986, she has been a teaching artist, working with students, K-12, in Rochester, NY, and surrounding area. Most recently, she was awarded the New York State Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching, 2017. She has four full length poetry collections,This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017), Small Worlds Floating (2016) as well as Within Reach (2010) both from Cherry Grove Collections; Night Traveler (Foothills Publishing, 2003); and 5 chapbooks. She lives on a small farm in Hamlin NY.

A Black Forest Sojourn – William Ruleman

 

(Breitenberg, Neuweiler-Hofstett, Germany, 2010)

 

Shaggy firs, like long-lost friends,

Shelter me from pelting rain;

Birches shivering in chill winds

Numb me to my own dumb pain,

 

While purple clover, fresh-mown hay,

Apple trees that bow with red-

Gold suns for yet another day,

Lull me to an early bed.

 

I wake at dawn and long for home.

The room is plain; the sky, although

A glad blue, gleams with alien glow,

As cold to human sight as chrome.

 

Yet when my Heimweh shows no cease,

I head to the woods and find a strange peace.

 

 

Bio pic 3William Ruleman’s most recent collections of poetry include From Rage to Hope (White Violet Books, 2016) and Salzkammergut Poems and Munich Poems (both from Cedar Springs Books, 2016). His translations of Hermann Hesse’s Early Poems (also Cedar Springs Books) and Stefan Zweig’s Clarissa (Ariadne Press) were published in 2017. More about him can be found at his website: www.williamruleman.com.

Three Quatrains – Don Thompson

 

Frost Moon, November

 

Cold and desiccated, the full moon

Broods just above the hills,

Its light through autumn haze

Like dust rising from ice.

*

 

Bristlecone Pine

 

Rooted the hard way into stone

And exposed to inhuman weather,

Nothing ever disturbs it inside

Its exoskeleton of loneliness.

*

 

Drought

 

Doves on a stunned afternoon

Flutter from dust to branch and back again,

Gray and taupe, seeds of rain clouds

With nowhere to take root.

**

 

 

Don Thompson 3Don Thompson was born and raised in Bakersfield, California, and has lived in the southern San Joaquin Valley for most of his life. He has been publishing poetry since the early sixties, including a dozen books and chapbooks. For more information and links to his publications, visit his website San Joaquin Ink (don-e-thompson.com).

Dumbarton High Street – Diana Devlin

 

Dumbarton High Street in the rain

getting out of the house for a change of scene

I people watch from Costa

broken brollies lie abandoned

like dead crows flapping in the wind

people click across the road like crochet hooks

heads bent to avoid the rain

as in a Lowry painting

I leave my cosy spot and do the same

anything to break routine

a woman taps me on the arm

coughs like a shovel on concrete

in a scraping rasp she asks the time

time for change I think

outside Poundland now and I look down

spare any change a small voice says

change is what we need I think

along a bit the 206 sizzles to a stop

the doors hiss open and I see the sign

no change given

the rain refuses to let up

 

 

IMG_4511Diana Devlin is a Scottish-Italian poet living near Loch Lomond. A former translator, lexicographer and teacher, Diana now writes full time and shares her life with a husband, two daughters, a Jack Russell and two eccentric cats. Her work has been published both online and in print and she is working towards her first collection. She is a member of several writing groups and enjoys sharing her poetry at public events.

Could Be Stardust, Could Be Rain – Alison McCrossan

 

I am stardust. Yet it could be said I’m mostly rain.

‘What riddle is this?’ you ask.

‘Oh, only the original. Who am I?’

‘Doesn’t that lead to Why am I?’ you say.

This is getting painful.

You poke at the ground where you sit and hold up your hand. Your finger is crusted with wet sand. ‘How many grains?’ you ask.

‘Impossible to know unless we Google an equation.’

You’re a professor of archaeology and reckon that makes you academic. ‘An academic with working man hands,’ you often say with a laugh. Your dark curls fall down one side of your face, facial features too young to know it all.

‘How many people have asked this question?’ you say.

‘That’s not getting us any closer to an answer.’ I swipe away an assault of meaningless equations that have sprung up on the browser window of my smart-phone. I forgot to add ‘grains of sand on a fingertip.’ Wet sand would alter the equation too-surely adding another factor or something. Oh, the credence I give Google.

I’m the creative sort, not that it matters. Even the academic uses Google. You have often told me I love too much, too deeply, and too soon. I might have said, but doesn’t this life deserve such enthusiasm. I add playfulness to my art in the hope that another might smile. Not that I’m adverse to contemplation. I’m thinking more about the why of everything today, but on other days I’m known to just wonder at the stars and not how they relate to me.

You say, ‘A grain of sand. A spit in the ocean. A collection of atoms in the shape of you, in the shape of me. Everything. Nothing. Dimensions of perception that go on and on and bend and circle ad infinitum. You could be stardust. You could be rain. It’s entirely up to you.’

‘What are you suggesting? I’m not depressed and depression isn’t a choice.’

‘But you are in pain,’ you say.

‘I ache all day for night and cry all night for morning.’

‘Why?’ you ask.

‘I lost my job, the days are long. My love is gone and I can’t afford the rent.’

‘Distractions,’ you say, drawing a crooked line in the wet sand with the same finger.

My eyes trace its path. Without distractions I am hollow, pain with a hollow centre that is, a capsule without the drug inside.

I kick off my shoe and dip a toe into the sand. The sand has soaked up the rain and resists my toe. It hurts.

I am a void always searching. Searching is distraction and any of the following: pleasure (say music); escape (say wine); status (say job); to go on (say have babies); to learn (say ask who am I) or explore (say ask who are you).

Look at you. I compare. You are contained. I might say you are of the moon, steady and influential. One of a kind. More than a search tool or answer to me maybe. ‘How does it feel to be one of a kind?’

‘You should know. I am part of you.’ You disappear into the hole you poked in the sand.

 

 

alisonMcCrossanAlison McCrossan is 44 years old and living in Ireland. She enjoys writing fiction, including flash and short stories, and is currently working on a novel.

Alma Mater – Laura Potts

 

Widow-black and winter, evening took me south into

lamps burning blue in the dusk. Out and over my hometown musk

lay the hinterland hills breathing low in the dark. Still,

frostspark sharp on the city streets, holy rain sweet

in the winter and the wet, with no evening stars ahead I let

the pavement take me home. Through the town nocturnal, gloam

 

and grey, my chimney throat coughing its smoke, I saw aslope

on the city’s slow spine those old black gates, the summer of my days

inside. Grief cracked my face. Those navy girls and me, a pace

always ahead. But in the pale stairwell light the ghost of my girlhood dead

in its fresh green spring and gone. From roadside wet I looked on

at this child of light, her afterglow bright, her ashes of life

 

already black. The cold breath of loss on my face. At my back

a schoolbell cracked at the evening air. I saw Death at my table there

tipping his hat, and the years in my face that sank as I sat

at that desk at the back of the class. I remember that. And last,

on an old December evening, down hallways dark the wilting hymns

of girls turned ghosts before their time, I saw their eyes

 

like candles cold, like lights no longer leading home. Outside, to the bone

I shook and swung, the darkened seas that were my eyes done

and gone at the sight of myself. Each girl ringing her own passing bell.

Well, in that mist and half-dark morning, my face a clenching fist

in pavement pools, I saw that septic, terminal school

for what it was. No, I never went back, of course.

 

I tipped my compass north.

 

 

527Laura Potts is twenty-one years old and lives in West Yorkshire. She has twice been named a Foyle Young Poet. Her poems have appeared in Seamus Heaney’s Agenda, The Interpreter’s House and Poetry Salzburg Review. She has recently been shortlisted for a Charter-Oak Award for Best Historical Fiction at The University of Colorado and also made The 2017 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize shortlist. This year Laura became one of The Poetry Business’ New Poets and a BBC New Voice for 2017. Her first BBC radio drama Sweet The Mourning Dew will air at Christmas 2017.

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).

Outside the window – Tony Press

 

You can’t see nothing from here but if you could, what would you want it to be? That’s what she asked the first time I ever went to her apartment. We’d met in Sioux City when I was living there on a highway crew. She lived in Correctionville. Yes, Correctionville is the real name and you’ve probably already got an idea why it’s called that. Don’t bet on it.

I thought about it. Really: what would I want to see, if there were anything to see out her kitchen window. I’d seen the rest of the place and my answer was more important than you might think, because the kitchen was the only room with a window. The living room slash bedroom was nothing but three walls and the bathroom was the same, just smaller. It had more plumbing, too, which was a good thing.

Sweetie, I said, I’d like to see one of those Venice canals.

Venice? Venice, Italy?

That’s the one.

Oh, Darrell, did you ever go to Italy? Did you ride in one of those boats there?

No. Nope. I’ve never been across the Atlantic. Or even seen the Pacific. The farthest east I’ve ever been was South Carolina and the farthest west – you’ll laugh, maybe – was Kansas. I was at Fort Riley for four years and two more in Manhattan after I got out.

Manhattan? New York Manhattan? I thought you were talking about Kansas.

I am. It’s smaller than the one with Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building and all that, but it’s got the same name. I was working at the university there: Kansas State.

Oh. Oh. Okay. Anyway, let’s just stand here and you can tell me about the canal out the window.

I poured her another glass of wine and one more for me, and then I lowered the light. I’ll give the place some credit, it had a cool dimmer switch, at least for the kitchen. I put my left arm around her shoulders and with my other I pointed outside.

Look, that’s the Grand Canal and over there … can you see it? That’s the Bridge of Sighs. If two people stand on that bridge and kiss they will be together forever. Flat-out-fucking-forever.

Really?

Really, I said. Step up onto it with me, but careful, ‘cuz it was raining so it might be slippery. I held her hand. That’s it, I said. Easy does it.

It feels real, she said. I’ve never been any place like this.

Kiss me, I said, and we’ll never be any place else, no matter where we are.

She did, and we held that kiss until I needed to breathe. She could have lasted longer, she said, and then we kissed again. I moved in that week.

I’ve still never seen the Atlantic, or the Pacific. I did – we did – get out to Nevada once. We drove to Omaha and took the train to Elko, where a buddy’s got a place. We saw mountains on that trip, so that was cool: no mountains in Iowa. I’ve got a cousin who lives in Hills, Iowa, but the name’s a joke. Maybe I ought to tell my cousin to look out her kitchen window and think about what she’d want to see, in her heart of hearts.

We have a bigger place in Correctionville now, a real house, with windows in every room, but each night before we go to bed we stand at a window, and look out at the Bridge of Sighs.

 

 

beast crawl.14.tp fotoTony Press tries to pay attention and sometimes he does. He’d be thrilled if you purchased his 2016 story collection, Crossing the Lines (Big Table). It’s available at indy bookstores, directly from him, or even from that Amazon place. He lives near the San Francisco Bay.

Wickham’s Crick – Robert Pelgrift

 

(Cutchogue, Long Island, New York)

 

The air is still, the Crick is low and clear;

and like the rain slanting down from storm clouds,

the sun’s rays streak this watery atmosphere

and light the mud bottom and wrinkled kelp shrouds.

 

We pole the old boat and silently pass

through a broken wall of mud and green rush,

into a salt pond hidden by marsh grass,

floating, weaving with the prow’s gentle push.

 

Through the muddy bank, the tides barely seep;

and under the pond’s smooth slick, thick with sun,

gray leaf flecks float, then settle, where the years lay

their ruin in a watery carbon heap

in the pond’s bed, as they have always done,

and will ’til all the centuries decay.

 

 

RYP JR picRobert Pelgrift practiced law in New York City for many years and is now an editor for a legal publisher, working in New York City.  His poems have been published in various anthologies and in The Lyric, The Rotary Dial, The Galway Review, The Foxglove Journal and The Waggle.

Of Wind and Rain – Arlene Antoinette

 

As he stood looking through the back window

at my english tea roses,

he said he couldn’t tell the difference

between the movement of the flowers

from the wind or from the rain.

How could you not, I replied,

confused by his lack of eyesight and insight.

 

When my roses are moved by the wind,

they move as one. Pink headed soldiers

lead by a strict drill sergeant,

each unwilling to be called out

for breaking formation

or for being the weak link in the chain.

Eager recruits desiring to satisfy their sergeant’s

every whim.

 

When my roses are moved by the rain,

each petal dances independently of the others

to the rhythm of the raindrops.

A single drop kissing the petal,

like a passionate lover

toying with his sweetheart’s emotions.

I can almost hear their squeals of delight

floating through the air.

 

He laughed, saying I was foolish 

to have given so much thought 

to such an insignificant thing. 

I cried, thinking him thoughtless

for ignoring one of the small beauties

of this world.

 

 

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

Oak – Steve Komarnyckyj

 

The oak trees stand so quietly,

Your voice would peter out

In their recesses.

The forest is deep in thought,

As the wind sighs

Through ruptured sunlight,

 

Its depths immersed in dream,

More than one of the trees

Has fallen or been felled

Leaving a stump,

The ghostly absence

Of an amputee’s limb.

 

The new saplings look down

Slender as young girls,

Feeling rain’s shy caress.

Listen and you will hear

Time remaking beauty

The canopy’s whisper

 

A silk dress.

 

 

IMG_2158Steve Komarnyckyj’s literary translations and poems have appeared in Index on Censorship, Modern Poetry in Translation and many other journals. He is the holder of two PEN awards and a highly regarded English language poet whose work has been described as articulating “what it means to be human” (Sean Street). He runs Kalyna Language Press with his partner Susie and three domestic cats.

After Dark – Ali Jones

 

I wake at 3:15am, weight shifting towards her,

did she hear the rain? I listen to her snared cry,

try to understand the rhythm of dreams,

what happens behind her eyes, as we travel back

into our room, hazy in gathered night,

shadowed gloom making everything strange,

 

I rearrange us, fuss up pillows, billow bedding

to hold us tight until morning light comes.

Other people stir, the breathing agents of sound

too loud for easy rest. She settles, eyelids flutter,

 

I lie awake, stilled by rallying whispers of breathing,

marvel at the differences of our waking world,

how we stand at ease and claim our places,

and how deeply we commit to sleep,

 

though we fight it, nightly, reading story after story,

playing as late as we dare. The day is wrung from us

in fits and starts, sung through open lips,

teasing the snagging air, a stored syntax

 

of waking tongues, that have begun to find the sounds

they need to make, and try them in the wee small hours,

before daytime takes us away into another realm,

to refashion us into sometime else, and make us whole again.

 

 

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.