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.

Final Swim at Warren Dunes – Leah Mueller

 

The sun, unchained a few weeks,

direct and unapologetic.

 

Like me, ready to bloom.

 

Water surface tepid,

unfiltered rays against my cheeks.

 

Solar angle closes

one degree at a time,

until the heat extinguishes itself.

 

Wrap towel around my shoulders,

rinse my feet in water.

Cold gnaws spaces between toes.

In the distance, hills of sand

extend in all directions.

 

Earlier this afternoon,

I ran down the largest hill

amidst hordes of children:

 

more slowly than last year,

but still upright.

 

Swim one more hour

until the sand cools.

Place towel in the trunk,

turn ignition key. Listen

to the crunch of tires on asphalt.

 

Another August gone.

How many are left?

 

 

me readingLeah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Tacoma, Washington. She is the author of two chapbooks and four books. Her next book, Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices will be published by Czykmate Press in Autumn, 2019. Leah’s work appears or is forthcoming in Blunderbuss, The Spectacle, Outlook Springs, Mojave River Review, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, Barnhouse, and other publications. She was a featured poet at the 2015 New York Poetry Festival, and a runner-up in the 2012 Wergle Flomp humor poetry contest.

Breathless – Bojana Stojcic

 

A storm was raging

that afternoon.

He stopped

to breathe with me.

 

It’s starting

to thunder.

I’m learning

to breathe on my own.

 

 

Pic...Bojana Stojcic is a teacher from Serbia, living in Germany. Her poems and flash pieces have been published or are forthcoming in Rust + Moth, Anti-Heroin Chic, Down in the Dirt, Mojave Heart Review, Dodging the Rain, The Opiate, The Stray Branch, Tuck magazine, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Nightingale & Sparrow and Visual Verse. She blogs regularly at Coffee and Confessions to Go.

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.

Bear – Rhianne Celia

 

She kneads herself into the grass,

brooches of hay collecting on her back.

I’m on my stomach, the grass glossed

and sun-pooled, and for once

I’m not waiting for something or someone

to slip from surface talk to the big stuff

as readily as a mother forgives –

I’m watching her beard fill with buttercups

and the wet beads on her tongue nudge back

and forth as she shimmies against me.

I reach for a stick, throw it, and off she trots,

her paws a skit as she loses track

of its flight. She returns with an open

tennis ball in her mouth, a clopping ring box

she presents with a flourish. I readily accept,

placing it on my stomach like an upturned

book, and then I’m looking at the sky – a hearty

magenta block, and the remainder of my evening

appears in hob flames and final Tupperware clicks.

She leads me home, my hessian stopwatch,

urging me to live, live, live.

I swallow as the script starts up.

 

 

FGBorn and raised in Manchester, UK, Rhianne has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at The University of Manchester. She has loved words (and arranging them) since she could put fluffy pen to paper (that’s a lot of fluff, and a lot of paper!). She explores human relationships in all of their wonderful complexity in her work and writes a lot about mental health, a subject close to her heart. You can find more of her poetry and general musings over at rhianne-writes.tumblr.com.

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.

The Strawberry Gel – Raine Geoghegan

 

On warm summer nights they lay on thick blankets looking up at the stars. The door of the vardo left slightly open in case the chavies woke. They would whisper about the time they first met in the strawberry fields. He remembered the blue dress she used to wear, how her hair was braided on top of her head, her sovereign ear rings unlike any he’d ever seen. She would tell him how she was taken by his honest brown eyes and the way he took her hand and said, ‘Shall we go for a stroll Amy?’ He had picked a strawberry for her and it was the sweetest thing she had ever tasted. It was kushti bok that both he and their gel had strawberry marks on their backs. They laughed at how she could never get enough of the fruit. They called her the strawberry gel. Their Phylly, with the corn coloured hair. He yawns loudly. ‘Shush, go t’sleep Alf.’ They both settle down, his hand resting on her hip, her hand on his chest.

 

Romani words: Vardo – wagon; Chavies – children; Kushti Bok – Good Luck

 

 

2017-07-17 18.15.26Raine Geoghegan, MA lives in West Sussex, UK. She is half Romany with Welsh and Irish ancestry. Her poems and short prose have been widely published and her debut pamphlet, ‘Apple Water – Povel Panni’ is due to be published by Hedgehog Press in November 2018. It was previewed at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in July. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net 2018. Her poems were also featured in the film ‘Stories from the Hop Yards’ as part of the Herefordshire Life through a Lens Project and one of the poems was made into a film by the Wellington Primary School. Find out more at rainegeoghegan.co.uk.

Crepuscular – Rebecca Gethin

 

At the wooded creek, a sheen

on hexagons of damp basalt

water like charcoal silk

where a pied cormorant has settled on a branch

and a catbird yowls nearby

till kookaburra unswallows

the songs of day –

 

we hold a breath, nudge each other

when the surface puckers, ripples

but it isn’t the platypus.

 

The moon is in two places

stars speckle the water

we can still just see enough

with the surface shine

but it isn’t the platypus.

 

We shift, feeling it’s time to give up.

As the darkness tightens

a thread of droplets needles the water

and air clusters with presence –

cloak-winged flying foxes

queue to swoop-drink

first one way, then the other

but not the platypus.

 

 

unnamed 2Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor in Devon. In 2017 two pamphlets were published: A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press and All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press who published an earlier collection called A Handful of Water and two novels. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow. In 2018 she jointly won the Coast to Coast Pamphlet competition and has been awarded a writing residency at Brisons Veor. Find more at www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com.

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.

Swallow – Mark Totterdell

 

To me, it makes a summer; continent-

compassing

steely blue wings,

pure breast, gorget

deep red as though still cooling from some southern forge.

Passing then fast repassing, it connects the dots

of unseen gnats,

so near to me

it makes me see;

to it, I’m utterly irrelevant.

 

 

This one DSC00795-herefordMark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won competitions. His collections are ‘This Patter of Traces’ (Oversteps Books, 2014) and ‘Mapping’ (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).