I have yet to attend a funeral where it didn’t rain – John Grey

 

You were buried near twilight

and as the moon went missing

behind a combination of clouds,

and oncoming night methodically

devoured the shine, it was up to

your tombstone to illuminate

its surrounds, sprout grass and

wildflowers, as sky splashed,

on your new forecourt, star-sized tears

in the shape of rain, each one plopping

into the last, and your shadow,

having rid itself of you, found, beyond

death, new life as a black umbrella.

 

 

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.

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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.

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.

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.

Servitude – Nigel F. Ford

 

They have walked in warm weather all the way from the beach, along the harbour wall, into the city, through the old quarter, up to the skirts of the castle, seeking the shade where possible, trying not to hurry, but not wanting to be late.

An attempt has been made before.

Two attempts in fact.

This time we are determined.

‘Do I look alright?’

‘You look fine. What about me. What do you think?’

‘O you always look alright.’

‘That’s alright then.’

‘What do you think? Can you see? Is there a long queue?’

‘It’s difficult to say. There is a queue of about half a dozen persons at the door. But then, there are several people leaning against the wall opposite the entrance. Some of them have come out for a smoke, I should think. But some of them might be part of the queue.’

‘We should probably start by waiting at the door.’

‘That’s the best plan.’

‘I think those people there are leaving. She’s fishing in her handbag.’

‘Could be. Still, we’re not the first in the queue.’

‘What’s the time?’

Eight thirty.’

‘We’ll wait until eight forty-five, but no longer.’

‘Alright.’

They stand patiently. A waiter talks to them briefly, smiles, laughs, jots down a note on a pad, nods and leaves.

Around them the evening crowd heaves and swirls, revealing empty hollows and then refilling them, like the sea they have watched for much of the afternoon.

‘What’s the time?’

‘Ten to nine.’

‘We’ll wait until nine o’clock. But not a moment longer.’

‘Alright.’

 

 

Photo on 18-12-15 at 13.02Born in 1944, Nigel F. Ford wrote his first radio play aged 14 (refused). Jobs include reporter for The Daily Times, Lagos, Nigeria, travel writer for Sun Publishing, London, English teacher for Berlitz, Hamburg, copy writer for Ted Bates, Stockholm. Had a hand in starting the Brighton Fringe in 1967. He started painting etc. in 1983 and has regularly exhibited in Sweden and on the Internet in various publication. In addition, several magazines in UK and US have been kind enough to publish his writing. Such as Nexus, Outposts, Encounter, New Spokes, Inkshed, The Crazy Oik, Weyfarers, Acumen, Critical Quarterly, Staple, T.O.P.S, The North, Foolscap, Iota, Poetry Nottingham, Tears in the Fence etc. He is now trying to produce & direct one of his stage plays.

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.

Storm Warfare – Candace Armstrong

 

Charcoal smudges ashen sky

shot with silver missiles,

swept by gusty generals

commandeering the raid.

 

Smoke-like fog smothers russet

soil. Conifers stand at attention.

Snow settles on rocky

ridges in resignation.

 

“Storm Warfare” first appeared in Poaintry2: The Collision of Two Worlds.

 

_MG_0150-EditCandace Armstrong writes poetry in the beautiful woodlands of Southern Illinois. Her work has been published in The Lyric, Journal of Modern Poetry, Distilled Lives Vol 2 & 3, Midwest Journal, California Quarterly and others online. One of her sonnets was a winner in the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest in the summer of 2017. Sometimes the poetry becomes prose and has been published in Muse, Diverse Voices, and WOW-Women On Writing online as a finalist in their spring 2017 contest. She is an avid gardener and enjoys hiking with her husband and their canine child, Murphy.

Blackberrying – J V Birch

 

We walk along the river in Arrowtown

from full sun to dappled shade to welcome shadow.

 

Trees hum with a green to remember

as the shallow water trips and twists over rock bed.

 

We find the fat little jewels of blackberries

race back to our childhoods as we share each bounty

kiss clean each other’s purple-stained fingers

recall the tenderness of us.

 

J V Birch website photoJ V Birch lives in Adelaide. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, journals and magazines across Australia, the UK, Canada and the US. She has two collections – Smashed glass at midnight and What the water & moon gave me  published by Ginninderra Press, and is currently working on her third. She blogs at www.jvbirch.com.

Lyrical Swells – Ken Allan Dronsfield

 

Starlight stirs my coffee

the moon a soft croissant

lilac or lace win my flavor

new tidal ebb in accession.

Impassioned lyrical swells

sunny haze; dust in rhyme.

biscuits aligned on a doily

the black tea steeps alone.

April’s innocence bygone

the leaves waiting to glide

orange orbs in the garden

memories of my June bride.

 

Ken Allan Dronsfield, Bio PictureKen Allan Dronsfield is a poet who was nominated for The Best of the Net and 2 Pushcart Awards for Poetry in 2016. His poetry has been published world-wide in various publications throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. His work has appeared in The Burningword Journal, Belle Reve Journal, Setu Magazine, The Literary Hatchet Magazine, The Stray Branch, Now Then Manchester, Bewildering Stories, Scarlet Leaf Review. EMBOSS Magazine and many more. Ken loves thunderstorms, walking in the woods at night, and spending time with his cat Willa. Ken’s new book, The Cellaring, a collection of haunting, paranormal, weird and wonderful poems, has been released and is available through Amazon. He is the co-editor of two poetry anthologies, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze and Dandelion in a Vase of Roses available from Amazon.

 

A Slow News Day – Maurice Devitt

 

It is already mid-morning and the sky

is still undecided. A placeholder

of pesky grey, not definite enough

for rain and too shy for sun. Maybe

today has been cancelled and nothing

will happen, not even to the man

who is walking his dog by the side

of the lake, revelling in the deal

that he closed just before he came out,

looking forward to a dinner with family

and friends, and failing to hold his footing

as he throws a wet stick across the water.

 

Personal PhotoRunner-up in The Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition in 2017, Maurice Devitt was winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015 and has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award, Listowel Collection Competition, Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, Cork Literary Review  and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. He has had poems published in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia, runs the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and is a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

Spring – Amira Benning-Prince, age 10

 

I wake up in the morning,

And shout happily to my mum,

“It’s the beginning of Spring,

And flowers have sprung.”

 

“The busy bees will buzz loudly,

The yellow sun will shine bright,

The blossoming trees will dance softly,

While young birds take their first flight.”

 

Then I look out the window,

There’s animals waking up sleepily,

They’ve obviously been hibernating,

For six months they slept deeply.

 

Things change a lot in Spring.

Out comes the flowers and shining sun,

Out from their slumber comes the animals,

Next comes Summer, the most fun!

 

I am Amira and I love creative writing and film making. I have recently started writing poetry and like to write about different things. My favourite author is JK Rowling and I adore Emma Watson. I like to read novels and am currently reading Charles Dickens’ books.

Everything bright and illuminated – Melissa Goode

 

He sits in the back row. The concert has already begun and the stage is lit. The school orchestra plays Bach. His daughter, Joanna, is stern, focussed, behind a cello. They sound excellent, but he will tell me they dropped x, raced across y, and could have lingered at z and he will hum it a little to show me how it should have sounded. I will say, she’s seventeen. She’s a star. He will smile, probably at my ignorance, my upbringing, my haven’t-got-a-clue.

#

I stand in the doorway, my wet umbrella drips London rain onto the floor. Joanna is vivid on stage with her red hair. She is a flame. He faces straight ahead, lit by the light from the stage, a portrait. His gaze is hard, merciless, like a hawk. She dips her head over the cello and I feel the movement in my chest.

#

We could lie on a beach in Hawaii, him and me, pale beneath the white blaze of the sun. Joanna plays in the water and meets American boys and girls her age who make her laugh. We drink frozen cocktails all day—strawberry, coconut, lime, pineapple. Let’s try mango. There is sand everywhere, in the carpet, the shower, under our nails, inside our ears. When he and I lie down at night, he leaves the lamp on and looks at me like he could eat me entirely. We move slowly as if we have all fucking day and night. We do.

#

He has saved a seat. I touch his shoulder and he looks up at me. Sorry, traffic, I whisper. Hello, he mouths. He smiles. I move past his sharp knees to the seat, his hands reach out and hold my waist as I go.

 

MG_WEB-7Melissa Goode’s work has appeared in Best Australian Short Stories, Griffith Review, New World Writing, Litro Magazine, Pithead Chapel, Gravel, and Jellyfish Review among others. One of her short stories has been made into a film by the production company, Jungle. You can find her here: www.melissagoode.com and at twitter.com/melgoodewriter.

The Trawl – Robert Pelgrift

 

We stand on this sandy point in the bay,

where the channel races into squally seas,

knee deep in riffles that mirror the gray

of iron clouds rushed by the gusting breeze.

 

Partly clothed by the sea, I scarcely heed

the raw, bitter rain.  Balanced here, I stand,

and see schooling, swerving silversides lead

quick unseen hunters past our ledge of sand.

 

In their path, we stretch, then draw, our small seine,

and the wet, the chill, the gray, the chop recall

the old village ships, struck by gusts and spray

as they ploughed these waves.  And now once again,

we net our catch, as those ships dragged their trawl

of silver to the beach across the bay.

 

RYP JR picRobert Youngs Pelgrift, Jr. 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 and The Galway Review.

The searchers – John Grey

 

When I claimed to have seen the boy,

the others shouted “where?”

But he was already gone.

I was in a bunch of weary men and women

who were more than ready to pack it in,

cold and damp, and aching for their warm beds.

As the others retreated, I stayed behind,

in woods so silent and empty,

nothing rivaled my heartbeat for sound.

The trees felt like the dark walls

of an abandoned church,

the rocks, altars stained with rain.

And I was the preacher without flock.

Or was that the flock without preacher?.

Was the boy really out there?

Every square inch of forest had been trudged through

by his would-be rescuers.

The wind was bitter, clouds low and gray.

It wasn’t winter but not through lack of trying

on the weather’s part.

Maybe he’d found a secret place

out of reach of red-eyed shivering saviors.

When I ran away and hid, I wanted people to find me.

But that was a long time ago.

When I claimed to have seen the boy,

maybe that was me skirting between the trunks,

through the brush, terrified, miserable,

but enacting part of a plan to be retrieved, taken back,

squeezed even deeper into the family fold.

I stopped. I listened to the shouts.

I longed to cry out in return.

But that wasn’t how it was supposed to work.

I had to lead them on that weary chase longer,

until the anger was fully drained from my pursuers

and only the compassion remained behind.

Forty years later, I wait and watch.

The boy is probably home and safe with his mother

tor all I know.

Most likely, only I am out here now.

So do I keep searching?

Or do I go home to bed?

Wait a minute. What was that?

I thought I saw… or felt penetrate.

Small but bright. The boy. But which one?

 

unnamed-bioJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. His work has recently been published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review, and is upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.