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.

As she waits for news of her son – Louise Wilford

 

She feels the pale green sunlight through the hawthorn leaves –

but May’s evening blaze is darkened for her this year.

She pauses on the path – blots her eyes with her sleeves –

her courage faltering before her labour’s done,

replaced by the slithering worm of impending fear –

her hope extinguished with the setting of the sun.

 

She can’t remember quite what she was looking for.

The ivy winding up the fence twists through her mind.

Every moment the vice of terror grips her more,

her courage faltering before her labour’s done –

desperate to hear some news, yet not wanting to find

her hope extinguished with the setting of the sun.

 

He’s been missing a night and a day. There’s no joy left.

Food is ash in her mouth, the world an empty cage.

The bright bursts of pain leave her vacant and bereft,

her courage faltering before her labour’s done.

The snaking red anguish tangles her up in rage,

her hope extinguished with the setting of the sun.

 

 

unnamed (2)Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford has had over 100 poems and short stories published and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions, most recently the £750 Arts Quarterly Prize and the MereFest Poetry Prize. She is currently nearing the end of a Masters degree in Creative Writing with the Open University, and is currently working on a novel inspired by The Tempest, while trying to process why the world appears to be falling apart.

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.

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.

My Final Walk in the Woods – James G. Piatt

 

Strolling along a bark filled path in the woods the breath of summer gusts into my mind and the warbling of tiny birds enters my ears. Tiny colorful wildflowers, pink, yellow, and blue paint the face of the meadow across the way, and waft their honeyed scents into the breeze. I hear the whispering sounds of the tiny brook alongside the path, and watch small rabbits with blades of grass in their mouths hopping quietly across the field. Maple trees with their white and gray skin, and oak trees with their gnarled limbs reaching for ground and sky shade my path. A red-shouldered hawk soars to the heavens with a screech as I disturb its tranquility sitting in a tall pine tree. I hear murmuring voices of tiny animals under fallen leaves and twigs in the distance, as the soft balmy breeze hurries over the ground with its euphonious voice. My memories awaken, and I remember my happy treks to the woods when I was a young lad. I exhale my breath with a nostalgic sigh as I realize my walks in the woods will be ending soon. My mind is still young, but my body has turned old.

 

 

Bio pic 2James is the author of four collections of poetry, Solace Between the Lines (2019), Light (2016), Ancient Rhythms (2014), and The Silent Pond (2012). He has had over 1,440 poems (four of which were nominated for Pushcart and Best of Web Awards), five novels, eight essays, and thirty-five short stories published. He earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, and his doctorate from BYU.

Spending a Day with an Uncanny Nature – Chandan Dey

 

a snowy day–

 

the green leaves of the garden

are wrapped in the thick blanket of ice

 

the dangling white rose

is the face of a black tiger

in such a depressing morning

 

a flock of one-winged birds

are migrating to a sunless island

through gray clouds arranged unruly

in this pale light of dreary noon

 

the deepening dusk

with its illusive movement

is descending swiftly to the earth

through eerie sound of the crickets

 

in the distance–

 

the wavy mountain

is a strayed dolphin, swimming

in the ocean of night-fog

 

alone

 

 

CD biog picChandan Dey is a new and emerging writer living in Kolkata, India. His work has appeared in Liquid Imagination, Vayavya, Sky Island Journal and is forthcoming elsewhere. He works in Kolkata and is a passionate reader and writer of poetry. He loves to write articles on scientific philosophy; some of them have already been published online. Some of his work can be found on http://www.chandankumardey.blogspot.in.

Drifting – Ahrend Torrey

 

Drifting Ahrend Torrey poem

 

AT biog photoAhrend Torrey enjoys exploring nature with his husband Jonathan and their two terriers Dichter and Dova. He works in New Orleans and is the author of Small Blue Harbor published by the Poetry Box Select imprint (Portland) in 2019. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Wilkes University.

Days – Ted Mc Carthy

 

Days are the spars of a shipwreck. Overhead,

the constant fear of looking at the sun.

No more raft of promises. Instead,

a decent life, an audience of one.

 

 

Ted - 008Ted 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.

Highfield – Ted Mc Carthy

 

Remember this when names won’t come easily:

the patch of green too narrow for houses,

viewed from an upstairs window;

a flit of yellowhammers at year’s turning,

the long view east, milk-souring suns,

far unmeasured mornings. Remember these

when your name moves beyond you

like the sun behind a house.

 

 

Ted - 008Ted 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.

King’s Cliff Wood – Anthony Watts

 

And if at times there seems to be

no more to it than this

return with muddied boots to the locked car

 

(groping for comfort under coats, cold nose to cold

nose, the same old words you won’t

or don’t believe)

 

then love is always the path we saved for another

day, the tunnel winding, whisper-filled,

under a sun-rug of November trees.

 

Also (and always) love is the lit sky, shorn

of its restless weathers,

falling

forever

into everlasting.

 

 

Anthony Watts - head & shoulder portrait (3)Anthony Watts has been writing ‘seriously’ for about 40 years. He has won 26 First Prizes in poetry competitions and was longlisted for the National Poetry Competition 2014. His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Poetry Salzburg Review, The Rialto and Riggwelter. His fifth collection, Stiles, is due to be published by Paekakariki Press. His home is in rural Somerset and his main interests are poetry, music, walking and binge thinking – activities which he finds can be happily combined.

School run Lenzie Moss – Finola Scott

 

Step over guarding thorns,

the outstretched claws of brambles,

their plump dark jewels gone now.

Breathe the heavy scent of the viburnum

and tuck a sprig of pink into your mitten

to sweeten day’s cruel frost.

Stop. Listen

to mavis and sparrow all branch-tangled

heralding winter’s early dusk.

Ease past the dog rose, its bareness held

until all is green, all is spring. Head out

and round between the shining birches

calling to the moon.

Nearly there. Don’t stop

to watch as hinds tiptoe or heron stalk the Moss.

There’ll be time.

 

 

C2C2 (2)Makar of the Fed of Writers (Scotland) Finola Scott’s work is on posters, tapestries and postcards. Her poems are widely published in anthologies and magazines including New Writing Scotland, The Lighthouse and Fenland Reed. Her work was commissioned by Stanza Poetry Festival for a multi-media installation. Much Left Unsaid, her pamphlet, is published by Red Squirrel Press. Poems, pictures and events can be found at Finola Scott Poems.

Lichen – James P. Roberts

 

Covers gravestones

Erases names and dates

 

Pale green

& white growth overlapping

 

circular shapes expand

with every year

of neglect.

 

Rain

will not wash away

the stain

only spur

further growth.

 

I expect

someday to wear

a mantle of lichen

like a warm coat

sheltering me

from the cold, dark dirt.

 

 

James P. Roberts is the author of five previous collections of poetry. Recent work has been published in Weirdbook, Mirror Dance, Rosebud, Sand Canyon Review and Zingara Poetry Review. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin where he haunts Little Free Libraries and has a passion for women’s flat-track roller derby.

Copse – Yuan Changming

 

Standing tall against the frozen sky

Your skeletons are the exquisite calligraphy

Of an entire season

Your name is curly writ

 

Not in water

But with wind

 

 

IMG-0647Yuan Changming published monographs on translation before leaving his native country. Currently, Yuan lives in Vancouver, where he edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) and BestNewPoemsOnline, among others.

Metamorphosis – Ali Jones

 

Once I stood, a tall pine,

basking in sunlight.

Mare’s tail fronded my roots,

creatures thrived in my forest.

 

Time has many names.

 

When I fell, I swam, bog born.

I have been pressed,

like a rare flower caught

in a treasured volume.

Life put weight into me,

I married billion year old sunlight

and held it in my trunk.

 

Transformed to strata,

then exhumed and scuttled

into a sparked hearth,

I reach for the skies again.

 

 

AJ bio picAlison Jones is a teacher, and writer with work published in a variety of places, from Poetry Ireland Review, Proletarian Poetry and The Interpreter’s House, to The Green Parent Magazine and The Guardian. She has a particular interest in the role of nature in literature and is a champion of contemporary poetry in the secondary school classroom. Her pamphlet, ‘Heartwood’ was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018, with a second pamphlet. ‘Omega’ forthcoming.

Granada – Hannah Patient

 

We step outside of time for just three days

and make this place our own: get coffee

every morning at the same café, where

ageing waiters all wear neat blue waistcoats.

This city’s pomegranate-like, they say:

bursting at the seams with juicy seeds

of things to come, of things that might have been.

We walk around the town in midday heat

and everything slows down: we’re living at the speed

of unripe fruit on orange trees and buskers in the streets.

Lost in Sacromonte, we give up and watch

the whole world pass us by, the palace

on its lonely hill a solid compass point.

As night falls, we get brave and mess around:

go rambling through the undergrowth

in the belly of the town, eat tapas in

our favourite bar as the Spanish sun goes down.

We join processions through the streets

where children chant and incense swings;

get punch-drunk on the smell of it,

turn sleepy listening to the man who sings

each night, alone, in the courtyard by our house.

 

I say that like it’s ours; of course it’s not –

nothing here really belongs to us.

The next day when the sun grows restless, hot,

we pack our bags and leave for a new place.

Time speeds up once more; how quickly we forget

the peerless lustre of these Andalusian days.

 

 

35842420_883314205202005_529810939248115712_nHannah Patient is a third-year English student at Somerville College, Oxford, and the former Essex Young Poet of the Year. Her work has appeared in publications including ASH, The Oxford Review of Books, Blacklist Journal and The Purple Breakfast Review. In her spare time she enjoys exploring crumbling buildings, watching detective dramas and eating chips with mayonnaise.