Fluttering – Heather Walker

 

I notice the fluttering inside of me at the time the earth stands still. Equal day and night. I turn to the man sleeping with his back to me. The shape of him stirs me and the fluttering increases. I lie my head against him and he does not stir.

The fluttering reminds me of a butterfly whose wings knock against a closed window, yet I cannot open up and let you out. It is not yet time. The year dips into winter. Snow lines the windowsill. I breathe on the glass and draw a heart. How I long to be out in the fields once more.

I have not told him of the fluttering I feel inside. This is my secret and I have no wish to share it. I hug my arms around my stomach, shelter you, to reassure you.

As days move into months, I have not grown much, yet I feel your kick. I caress your movement, talk to you as I shower. Surely it will be soon. I have still not told him. How can I?

Spring comes with a burst of white and yellow. I walk the fields, my feet sodden with dew. Lifting my face to the sun, I ask it what I should do. When the pain begins, I rejoice seeking a hollow rather than return home where he will ask questions.

You are restless to escape and now cramps rage through me as you shift. I hunker down and push, bearing my weight and strength through the length of me. And then the slip-slide of body, membrane, mucus and blood onto the grass. You are all legs as you flounder. Your head turns and we make eye contact. I smile and stroke your body, still wet through. I lift you to the sun and name you Solar. Placing you at my feet, you dry off, all the while trying to find your feet. I hug you, nestle into your furriness, and place you to my breast.

He will never understand. I can never tell him of this. You are mine, and we shall run the fields together, just as I did before I met the human.

 


Heather Walker is a London based writer of poetry, flash and short fiction. Her work has appeared in various magazines, ezines and anthologies, including Paragraph Planet, Visual Verse, Ink Sweat & Tears, Seaborne and Popshop. Her novellas, Where It Ends and The Chair are available through Amazon.

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Walking the Dales Way in Autumn – Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon

 

Rain-glistened raised roots

emerald moss-coated stones

water spattered, spreading cow pats

slippery wooden footbridges

rocking, ancient stiles

with hard-sprung gates –

 

all conspire to tumble me as I walk

our old ways in these Dales

long swept by winds, storms,

artists’ eyes, mizzle and sunlight.

 

Somehow, I stay upright

and advance slowly, mindful

of the present moment

rich with overflows

of tricky beauty

as breezes waft smells of byre

and mulch of fallen, slithered leaves –

 

I find I am

unbalanced only by time

about to run out.

 


Ceinwen lives near Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and writes short stories and poetry. She is widely published in online magazines and in print anthologies. Her first chapbook is ‘Cerddi Bach’ [Little Poems], Hedgehog Press, July 2019. She is developing practice as participatory arts facilitator. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

seals’ dreamtime – Martin Potter

 

readier to roll about

than to drag seal-bulk

shingle-crunch climbing

the beach’s skirts

 

haul and lay their mass

press on the pebble bed

a bay’s broad outscouring

they bask the lull

 

when a pair of helpless eyes

pitch-bright in bristled snout

ratchets round in meeting

yours with sea-thoughts

 


Martin Potter (https://martinpotterpoet.home.blog) is a British-Colombian poet and academic, based in Manchester, and his poems have appeared in Acumen, The French Literary Review, Eborakon, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Poetry Village, and other journals. His pamphlet In the Particular was published in 2017.

Gaia’s Song – Claire Shaw

 

We start slow

Let the fire burn low

As the shadows grow

by Moon Mother’s glow

Wait

 

Lick the grease from our fingers

Breathe the smoke in that lingers

Wait

 

Test the ground with our feet

Wait for the beat

The thrum

Feel the life in the peat

The hum

We drum

 

We dance

fling the embers as we spin

a trance

there’s heat on our skin

a chance

to feel the fire burn within

 

and now we’re striped with sweat and dust

 

we’re dripping

with the scent of musk

heady incense

burning lust

 

and we are bound

to the sound

of the beat

that we found

at the hearth at the heart of the world

 


Claire Shaw is an emerging UK-born poet and author whose work has appeared in publications including Black Hare Press, The Dawntreader, Silkworm and Grimsy. She currently resides in The Netherlands with her husband and two cats and works in Digital Marketing. She loves to travel, practice her photography, and read like it’s going out of fashion.

Life with a View – John Short

 

Gascony

 

After we parted yesterday

the grass was dancing.

You’d wanted kind words

but I was happily silent.

 

Outside the old room

with flaking plaster walls

I sat on the porch

and watched young frogs

hop through vines.

 

Rough wine from oak barrels.

I drank it on the porch

as the world seemed to dance.

 

Beyond fields of maize

and bright yellow rapeseed

your village perches

with its pink roof jumble.

 

From the highest point

land shimmers like mirage.

We see for miles

to glacial mountains

ascending from the plain.

 


John Short studied Comparative Religion at Leeds University (UK) then spent many years in France, Spain and Greece doing a variety of jobs. In 2008 he returned to Liverpool and a couple of years later began submitting work to magazines. Now internationally published, he’s appeared in places like Pennine Platform, South Bank Poetry, London Grip, Ink Sweat & Tears, Envoi, French Literary Review and The High Window. In 2018 he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize by StepAway Magazine and has been featured twice as Poet of the Month on the Write Out Loud national poetry forum. He lives in Liverpool, is a member of Liver Bards and reads at local venues and beyond.

Breakfast Club – Jeffrey Joseph

 

I take my daughter into Breakfast Club,

Tracksuit bottoms sparking as I force myself along,

And leg ends heavy with damp;

She skips beside me, taut with a promise of the new,

Her sentences long, long, her questions unanswerable,

Her laughter unanswerable.

 

In the busy, smelly, milk and plimsoll hall, she stands bemused –

Aware, perhaps, that something is changing,

Hearing across a span which I have lost

(Or, if not lost, forgotten),

The din of warring hopes.

 

Through the window I see her – a uniformed dot –

Move, unnoticed, to her place.

 


Jeffrey Joseph was born in London in 1952 and was educated at the University of York, University College Cardiff and at The Open University. He worked at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before spending many years as Performance Manager at Trinity Laban Conservatoire. He is a heavily published musical journalist and poet. His music has been performed on the South Bank, at St John’s Smith Square, in Westminster Abbey, in the National Concert Hall in Dublin, throughout Europe and in Africa and the USA. He is published by Warwick Music/Hal Leonard Music and is distributed on-line by lulu.com.

The Tree – Daniel Tobias Behan

 

I spoke with

the tree-man,

and he told me

 

how deep his

roots buried

into the Earth;

 

connected

through moss,

rock, and soil,

to places far

and wide –

 

they held

knowledge

humanity had yet

to even consider.

 

His trunk, he

told me, contained

layers in concentric

rings, infused

 

with memories

of all people who

had passed

him by over

the years.

 

His branches,

he said,

kept secrets

of the birds,

 

who sang him

tales of their

dinosaur ancestors –

 

his leaves

communed, with

the sun,

wind, stars,

 

sky, and moon,

about the

state of affairs

across the galaxy.

 


Daniel Tobias Behan is a London born-and-based poet. From 2017 to 2019, Daniel performed regularly at the London Irish Centre, Camden; in 2018 Daniel was interviewed by the Irish Post as part of their London Calling podcast series, and in 2020 had a short film made of ‘The Visit’ featuring acclaimed actor Nora Connolly and directed by Patrick O’Mahony, was interviewed for Wombwell Rainbow, and commenced a poetry series ‘Findings’ on channillo.com.

all – Mark Goodwin

 

all

 

washed from

land-rim through

 

sea’s miles

 

-high-sky &

fathoms-deep

 

en

 

twined

 

light

 


Mark Goodwin is a poet-sound-artist, and speaks & writes in various ways. He is also a walker, balancer, stroller, & climber. He has a number of books & chapbooks with various poetry houses, including Leafe Press, Longbarrow Press, Nine Arches Press, & Shearsman Books. His poetry was included in The Ground Aslant – An Anthology of Radical Landscape Poetry edited by Harriet Tarlo (Shearsman Books 2011) and The Footing edited by Brian Lewis (Longbarrow Press 2013).  His latest chapbook – a compressed mountain travelogue called Erodes On Air – was recently published in North America by Middle Creek. Mark lives with his partner on a narrowboat just north of Leicester. He tweets poems from @kramawoodgin, and some of his sound-enhanced poetry is here: https://markgoodwin-poet-sound-artist.bandcamp.com.

Compassion for the Undertaker – Charlotte Cosgrove

 

His feet press gently on the pedals

More pianist than driver.

The black hearse slows to the church

An inkblot spreading on white paper.

He opens the door for the grieving

Remains solemn as duty expects.

His eyes look down at pebbly gravel

Feels it within him as if made of concrete or hard minerals

Ready to decompose into the ground.

It has been just a week since he returned

After his compassionate leave came to an end.

 


Charlotte Cosgrove is a poet and English lecturer from Liverpool, England. Her work has appeared in Trouvaille Review, Dreich, The Literary Yard, The Broadkill Review, Wingless Dreamer, Confingo, Beyond Words and various anthologies online and in print. She is editor of Rough Diamond poetry journal. Her first poetry book Silent Violence with Petals will be published with Kelsay Books in June 2022.

Arran Postcard – Anna Percy

 

Dear T.

I know you have cycled on the coast road where I bumped along on the bus I haven’t asked if you stopped here at Kildonan where seals are promised or whether in fact the flop of their sea adapted bodies fills you with the same glee a fortification crumbles in a dark stone on the hill a look out a warning place the first line of defence the current light house sits on an islet must be lonely have to row back and forth to find another body the sun has started to blaze and yet the sea froze my toes a swimming costume was a dare to the water the water itself is all subtle movement and glitter past the sand everything is bands of blue and white you would swim.

 


Anna Percy has been writing for the page, stage and publication since 2004 mostly in the North of England. In 2010 she co founded the feminist collective Stirred Poetry. She has three full length collections with Flapjack Press. This poem is from an upcoming pamphlet The Everlasting Now from Some Roast Poets.

don’t – Mark Goodwin

 

don’t

 

try to tell

a wet shape

 

silent but for

grasses’ grasping

 

at it

 

that the five

snail shells lit

 

like tiny bulbs of

coloured glass

 

kept in wet’s

cradling

 

palms

 

cannot hold

solid

 

sound

 


Mark Goodwin is a poet-sound-artist, and speaks & writes in various ways. He is also a walker, balancer, stroller, & climber. He has a number of books & chapbooks with various poetry houses, including Leafe Press, Longbarrow Press, Nine Arches Press, & Shearsman Books. His poetry was included in The Ground Aslant – An Anthology of Radical Landscape Poetry edited by Harriet Tarlo (Shearsman Books 2011) and The Footing edited by Brian Lewis (Longbarrow Press 2013). His latest chapbook – a compressed mountain travelogue called Erodes On Air – was recently published in North America by Middle Creek. Mark lives with his partner on a narrowboat just north of Leicester. He tweets poems from @kramawoodgin, and some of his sound-enhanced poetry is here: https://markgoodwin-poet-sound-artist.bandcamp.com.

Index of Sylvia Plath’s Journals Used to Make a Poem – Anna Percy

 

I cannot and I cannot and enough heartbeat and warmth enough and you won’t see him if he asks again would no doubt be shallow the lady or the tiger encouraging letter I met a man I moved to a new house at midnight excerpt bronze boy night after night screaming only listen to me this last once I thought even dreaming of being strewn with starfish and shells we also had trouble yesterday the rejection girl thought she wanted each wrapped why don’t I write? So the headlines blare the two of them in an unidentified hand

 


Anna Percy has been writing for the page, stage and publication since 2004 mostly in the North of England. In 2010 she co founded the feminist collective Stirred Poetry. She has three full length collections with Flapjack Press. This poem is from an upcoming pamphlet The Everlasting Now from Some Roast Poets.

Francis Ecstatic – Julian Bishop

 

Brother Leo gives chapter and verse

on this ecstasy: as if heaven were exploding,

its glory splashing forth in millions

of stars like waterfalls. But it’s the reverse

 

for Francis on the mountain of Verna

at this moment of stigmata – no flaming

angels but a beefy stripling shoehorning

the stubbled saint onto his seraphic lap.

 

The landscape is blissful, Francis basks

in the afterglow of some divine happening.

No stigmata, no wound, no bleeding

except perhaps within the saint’s heart?

 

(The lad-turned-angel is identical to the youth

in the painter’s infamous Boy Peeling Fruit.)

 

This is one in a series of poems about the painter Caravaggio

 


Julian Bishop is a former television journalist living in North London who is a member of several London stanza groups. A former runner-up in the Ginkgo Prize for Eco Poetry, he’s also been shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize and was longlisted in this year’s National Poetry Competition. He won the 2021 Poets And Players Competition judged by Sean Hewitt with his poem Sitting For Caravaggio.

He’s also had poems in The Morning Star, XR’s Rebel Talk, Riptide Journal, Finished Creatures Magazine and the first few issues of The Alchemy Spoon. He is one of four poets featured in a 2020 pamphlet called Poems For The Planet. Read more at https://www.julianbishoppoet.com.

70 Seconds – Anna Ross

 

A small spark

A flicker, a flash

Blink and you miss it

A lone reaching flame

Small, steady, silent

Growing at both sides

A red hand waving

Calling for attention

Its journey begins

Rug, stool, chair, bookcase

Claiming them all

Flaring up, grasping

Ascending the curtains

Smoke pools above

Now unstoppable

All within is lost

Inferno rages

 


Anna Ross lives in North Yorkshire and works as a university administrator. She greatly enjoys reading and writing stories and poems of all shapes and sizes. Her short stories have been published across a range of anthologies. Though she is noted amongst her peers for writing literature with dark underlying themes and messages she is actually a very friendly person in the real world.

How to Photograph a Mirror – Carys Crossen

 

The mirror, undiscriminating, swallowed everything. Mel studied it, its pink plastic frame, the tarnish around the edges of the pane. It sucked in the carpet, the windowsill, the radiator, Mel’s feet and legs.

How do you photograph a mirror without photographing yourself?

Mel had tried it from several angles. Always, some body part crept obstinately into the reflection. Her hands and wrists, clutching the camera. Her right hip and leg. She’d even thrown a sheet over herself, a ghost of childhood Halloweens, but she remained corporeal. Observable.

Whenever she’d stood next to Lisa, whose mirror it had been, she’d never seen herself reflected. Lisa’s golden glow blotted out all else. Her prettiness, her outgoingness, her unassailable status of family favourite.

Now Mel couldn’t be erased. Unlike the remnants of Lisa. When/if Lisa returned, she’d find her room as impersonal as the cell she was currently living in.

Dad, whose love for Lisa had been spun round like a tarot card to reverse its meaning, had been adamant. He was selling off everything the bedroom contained and chucking what wouldn’t sell. Ripping down old photos, stuffing magazines and romance novels into binbags. Mel and her camera had been pressganged into service. Photographing the furniture for an auction website.

The dressing table, once laden with makeup and perfume. Click.

Wardrobe where the doors never shut, stuffed with clothes. Click.

The bed. The hidey-hole for the bills, the demands for payment. Click.

The chest of drawers Lisa had tried to hide behind when the police came, wanting a word. With a warrant. Click.

Click. A thousand reflections of Lisa, frontpage in the local rag. Falsifying invoices, theft, arrest, bail, court date, four years at Her Majesty’s displeasure. No need of mirrors where Lisa was. Plenty of time for her to take a good long look at herself.

Mirror, mirror. Mel stared at it through the convex eye of the camera. Wondered what it must have seen. Perhaps it had always seen her.

Mel had always been there. She just never saw. The eye lied, not the mirror.

She raised the camera. Her waving outline, her round face, camera at waist height, the mirror imitated them all.

Click.

 


Carys Crossen has been writing stories since she was nine years old and shows no signs of stopping. Her fiction has been published by FlashBack Fiction, Fudoki Magazine, Dear Damsels, Every Day Fiction and others. Her monograph on werewolves, ‘The Nature of the Beast’ was published by University of Wales Press. She lives in Manchester UK with her husband, their daughter and their beautiful, contrary cat.