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.

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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).

The Rose Trees are in Bloom – Arlene Antoinette

 

Monday

Mother sits in her favorite armchair, peering through the picture windows onto her backyard garden. The rose trees are beginning to bloom, she calls to me. I’m in the kitchen, washing up last night’s dishes, scrubbing spills from the stove, sweeping and mopping the floor. I respond with a quick, that’s nice. She leaves her spot only for meals and bathroom breaks. Night falls; a veil of darkness obscures her precious flowers. I plant a light kiss on her cheek as I put her to bed.

 

Tuesday

The rose trees are beginning to bloom. Her words seem to dance across her lips. I’m busy loading the washing machine and unloading the dryer. I look up, but I don’t respond. Mother stands at the window like an expectant child on the night before her birthday.

 

Wednesday

Mother, are you finished dressing? Again, she’s standing by the back window, hands clasped together as if in prayer. Have you seen them? The roses are beginning to bloom! Her blouse hangs open; her hair’s undone. I walk over to her and place my hand on her forearm. Come with me mom, we’re running late for your appointment. I don’t bother to look out onto the garden; I’m busy calculating how long it will take me to finish getting her dressed.

 

Thursday

Okay mom. I’m off. Lunch is in the fridge. There’s a glass of coconut water on the table and if you need a snack there’s a granola bar in the cabinet. I should be back by dinner time.
Have you seen them?
Seen what?
The roses buds. The rose trees are beginning to bloom.
I know, I know. I’ll look at them when I get back. I have to go. Love you. I grab my purse and head out the door.

 

Thursday Evening

Mom, I’m home. Mom, I’m back. I open the fridge and retrieve a bottle of cold water. It’s 5:30, and her lunch is still there. Mom, where are you? Why haven’t you eaten? I walk through the house, glancing into her bedroom, the bathroom and the living room. Finally, I look out the back window. She’s there, sitting on the bench in her beloved garden. I retrieve her lunch from the fridge and head outside. Mom. She doesn’t respond. Mom, you must be starving. I lay my hand on her shoulder, there’s no response. Mom, mom! Are you alright? Mom say something! Mom! Mom!

 

Friday

The hospital’s ER is ice-cold. Pictures of children playing in fields adorn the walls.

 

Saturday

I call close friends and family. My hands shake as I dial each number. 

 

Sunday

I stand at the window gazing out into the back yard. Yellow, pink and red roses adorn my mother’s garden. The roses are in full bloom

 

 

stillmyeye

Arlene Antoinette is a poet of West Indian birth who grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from Brooklyn College and worked as an instructor with disabled individuals for many years. You may find additional work by Arlene at Foxglove Journal, Little Rose Magazine, I am not a silent Poet, Tuck Magazine, The Feminine Collective, The Open Mouse, Amaryllis Poetry, Boston Accent Lit, Sick Lit Magazine, Postcard Shorts, 50 Word Stories, The Ginger Collect, Neologism Poetry Journal and Your Daily Poem.

Hush – Stephen Mead

 

Snow squall:

All the falling feather tufts

lace soft & as intricate

to marvel with night

coming on, blue lit—–

Look up—–

clock tower, yellow,

the face of it a moon

with hands, & the traffic

sizzling to distance

humming for our foot-

steps that crunch some,

& dissolve in the thick

wet carpet magical

as water pushing out

watercolor & our hands,

held, love, simple &

holy as parchment:

Remember this.

 

 

me cropped to squareStephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Find out more at Poetry on the Line, Stephen Mead.

The Before and After – paul Bluestein

 

The day began with coffee, cream and sugar

in a white china cup painted with pink flowers.

The dogs stirred, circling my legs,

mimicking the motion of my spoon.

Wind chimes called me to the porch,

to sit and watch an airplane

painting white contrails on a blue canvass of sky,

flying to catch up with tomorrow,

while I am rooted here in the Before and After.

The moon fell and the sun rose in a late September dance

set to the music of whispering trees and mockingbirds.

Entranced by the slow awakening

of my sleepy New England town,

it was nearly an hour

before the memories of mornings together

crept up silently to sit by my side.

.

 

 

Fur Peace Ranchpaul Bluestein has written poetry for many years, but has just recently begun to submit his work. He is hoping Foxglove Journal will be one of his first steps forward on this new journey. He is a physician (OB-GYN) by profession (retired … or just plain tired), a self-taught musician (guitar and piano) and a dedicated Bridge and Scrabble player (yes, ZAX is a word). He writes poetry because The Muse, from time to time, calls him unexpectedly and keep ringing insistently until he answers, even if he doesn’t want to talk with her just then.

Giving to Charity – Megan Whiting

 

Yesterday I gave my life away.

Ripped the past from the present

and left my house devoid of memories.

Bullied my childhood into boxes

and coerced my teenage years into carrier bags,

then lugged the entire sorry lot to the one place it might be useful.

Here, I handed every part of my former self to an elderly volunteer,

who groaned at the weight of my old life

and decided what it was worth.

Only then could I return to my empty house

and start again.

 

 

megan image 5Megan is a freelance writer and proofreader based in Suffolk. A poet at heart, she has been published in anthologies and online and offers personalised wedding poetry as one of her services. Megan loves to read and go for tandem rides with her fiancé. Find out more at www.meganwhiting.co.uk.

Picking up lost leaves – Gareth Culshaw

 

The sunlight I once knew.

That yellow light that crept over

the slates and dripped to the tarmac.

Garages with corrugated roofing

that kept the snow from sliding.

Houses with gable and hip roofs

that now have a buckle of solar panels.

The tree that reached for the sky,

even stroked the clouds when we 

were small. Graffiti on the walls

and swear words in the puddles 

of teenage spit from years ago.

New neighbours with quiet eyes.

Swifts that came for a generation

now lost to the winds. The banging

footballs that hammered away time,

just an echo in the ears of myself. 

Moving back to a place I once knew,

is like a tree picking up the leaves

it lost in autumn, and asking them

to belong again.

 

 

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.

Cabin life – John Grey

 

Dawn unfastens the point of being here –

a shimmering globe rotating –

newly acquired light and heat and air.

 

Quiet breakfast

then a walk

sipping the vin rose of the morning,

a feeling hastily translated

from the woman on my arm –

a ledge of sandstone,

a forest nook,

and time, a small favor

that we forget to ask.

 

We could be mistaken for dew

except we hold on longer.

Or hummingbirds,

buzzing, fluttering,

distancing ourselves from small talk

but embracing the hunger

of small unimportant lives.

 

Person to person,

tree to tree –

and a running stream of course –

running on this spot.

 

 

unnamed-bioJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Nebo, Euphony and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

3:18am – Beth O’Brien

 

3:18am is awake like its own alarm.

 

We bump into each other on the landing

because we are restless at the same time,

for different reasons,

and we jostle for position in the darkness,

 

both of us waiting for the other

to find the light switch.

 

 

unnamed (3)Beth O’Brien is currently studying a degree in English Literature at the University of Birmingham. She loves reading, writing, food and seeing the world – when any of these overlap, she loves them even more!

The Laws of Physics – Richard Luftig

 

There is a pull

of a new moon

tonight, a yield

of starlight

that blinks

on, then off, as

only the clouds

command. Down

 

wind, the piers

that jut from

shore to shoals

are statues

with freezing arms

where even

barnacles sag

from dripping

ice. A neap

 

tide that refuses

to rest makes

whispers that

can still awaken

the waves while

along these sea-oak

shores, a jetty

that just a few

short hours ago

made a beach

 

now worries

the sand and

constantly tells

us as we struggle

to make a safe

harbor about

the gravity

of our situation.

 

 

just-dad-2Richard Luftig is a former professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio now residing in California. His poems and stories have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States and internationally in Canada, Australia, Europe, and Asia. Two of his poems recently appeared in The Best Ten Years of Dos Madres Press.

Fear of flying and other forays into the unknown – Claire Sexton

 

Don’t start with doubt and dissension. Don’t walk that tortuous plank right now.

Raise your head skyward and contemplate the birds – flying without a hint of reservation or restraint.

Self-consciousness has no meaning for them.

No avian ever fell from the sky because of overthinking; plunged earthward with their head in their wings – shouting ‘where did it all go wrong?’

But here I am undercutting my resolve with insidious doubts and oscillations – a suitcase of distraction and a rucksack of denials. A poker iron to stoke the flames.

I light my candles and repeat my affirmations. Yes, today I would like to travel first class. Today I would like to watch a movie and lay my head back in my chair.

I’d like muffins and fresh rolls please. Carbohydrates, and polite conversation. A perfect aptitude for give and take. Delays that do not make me sweat and toil.

Most of all I would like to taste the tranquility of knowing I have made progress. I have left the house. I have washed my face. I have all my documents, and time to spare.

Firefighters and first aiders will no longer be required.

 

 

Foxglove picClaire Sexton is a forty-something librarian living and working in London. She also writes poetry and occasionally creative non-fiction. She has been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Foxglove Journal, Amaryllis, Stare’s Nest, Peeking Cat Poetry and other magazines. She has just adopted a magnificent tortie cat called Queenie.

Jammed in Provence – Deborah Guzzi

 

The December countryside purrs sun-drenched.

Dazed by a barrage of rays, Lourmarin’s

buildings, cut-sandstone cream, curl entrenched

in quietude; local folk are sleeping in.

 

The roads of cobblestone, tail-twist, and weave;

centuries of frost and footfalls mark the place

where Medici royalty ruled and reaved.

Ghosts prowl unwilling to leave last night’s trace.

Shop doors open with a creak; vendors peek

outside and beam, the smell of coffee breezes.

Tea seeps near pitchers of cream on antiques;

the market opens early—just to tease.

 

On the trail of delights in Lourmarin,

baguette in hand, I search out a jam man.

 

Baguette in hand, I search out a jam man.

Up and up, I walk, eyes sharp, my head cocked,

to reach the clock for time here ticks unplanned,

past signs of local art, but the door’s locked.

 

I’m awake too early this Sunday morn.

Down I run: on a crooked trail, past a crèche,

in a chair of birch, on a seat well worn;

the manger awaits the birth of the blessed,

beneath a golden star; the story’s told.

 

But, I am off to a town called Bonnieux.

The road’s clear; we climb as the Alps unfold

bare vines, fruitless orchards fill the view.

 

There’s but a moment’s rest and so, I sigh;

Roussillon and its red cliffs are nearby.

 

 

 

debbie 3aDeborah Guzzi writes full time and travels for inspiration. Her third book The Hurricane is available through Prolific Press and at aleezadelta@aol.com. Her poetry appears in: Allegro Poetry Magazine and Artificium in the UK, Existere – Journal of Arts and Literature and Scarlet Leaf Review, Canada – Tincture, Australia – Cha: Asian Literary Review, China – Eunoia in Singapore – Vine Leaves Literary Journal – Greece, mgv2>publishing – France, and Ribbons: Tanka Society of America, pioneertown, Sounding Review, Bacopa Literary Review, Shooter, The Aurorean, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Liquid Imagination, Concis, The Tishman Review, Page & Spine & others in the USA. the-hurricanedg.com.

Too late? – Kieran Egan

 

Mrs. Reardon walks down the pavement

which is more broken now than when 

she pushed four different children in their prams,

two of whom will be at the funeral today,

of the man she married

because the man she loved married her friend.

Her friend died last year and the man she loved

will also be at the funeral of the man she married.

The man she loved realized too late, too late

that he cared less for the woman he married

than for Patsie Reardon, née Walsh, of days long gone.

 

Mrs. Reardon and the man she still loved 

passed on this street with their children in prams, 

then he with a son and football and she with ballet shoes and a daughter

then walking with further sons and daughters, some taller than either of them.

 

Would he, after the funeral and after due time . . . ?

Her heart and stomach were afraid and light and excited.

Or will the formal reserve they had cultivated like a shell

be now so hard they can no longer break through it?

Were they still the two who had once loved each other?

His once hair . . . her once taut skin . . .

 

 

unnamed (2)Kieran Egan lives in Vancouver, Canada. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Quills (Canada), Literary Review of Canada, Dalhousie Review (Canada), High Window (UK), Orbis (UK), Raintown Review (USA), Envoi (UK), Shot Glass Journal (USA), Qwerty (Canada), Snapdragon (USA), The Antigonish Review (Canada), Acumen (UK), Canadian Quarterly and The Interpreter’s House (U.K); also shortlisted for the John W. Bilsland Literary Award, 2017 and for the TLS Mick Imlah prize 2017.