Beyond the Tree Line – Hugh Cartwright

 

It’s our first Christmas adrift in the stars.

And Molly’s first egg.

“Can I break it now?”

“Be gentle.”

Molly’s just four, the youngest of our tiny community. She taps the egg with fierce concentration, as if it’s the most important job in the Universe.

Suddenly the egg shatters and a glittering shape unfolds from among the fragments – a silver Christmas tree. It would weigh a handful of feathers on earth; here in deep space it floats effortlessly.

The tree glides quietly through the cabin until I tie it down with red ribbon. Our little group of 19 gathers round in a circle, linking arms and singing carols.

On 12th night, Molly helps me shepherd her tree into the airlock and we set it free. It glides behind the ship, not wanting to leave. But, as the hours go by, it gradually falls away, dissolving into the star-strewn sky.

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Our 27th Christmas; it will be the last before we reach our new home.

Molly is unwell, but she is our talisman; she must crack the final egg. A shimmering, golden tree emerges, capped with a crown of sparkling stars.

Our group now numbers 22. We gather around the tree for the final time, holding hands and singing carols.

On 12th night, Molly, whose memories were of nothing beyond our ship, is dead; she is the first to die.

27 trees drift behind in a soundless, invisible line, watching over us as we rush towards a world that Molly will never see.

 


Hugh’s not really a writer. His career has been spent in Universities, working at the interface of artificial intelligence and physical science. Now retired, he has begun to write occasional stories, some colored with elements of science fiction, others being just a little odd. It helps to take his mind off his impossible project: growing citrus trees in the Canadian climate.

A fabulous game called “love” – Sebastián Díaz Barriga

 

Translated from Spanish by Delphine Tomes

 

as a child

my parents used to play

this fabulous game:

although the aim

is still unknown

the game arrived

to their relationship

as a forgotten quarter does

on an empty street

in Mexico City

it seemed to say:

hey!    

are you going to grab me or what?

I have been here all day

and I just wanna go back home

I´m so fucking tired.

 

back then, dad

pretended to send money

– instead of love-

to mom’s debit card.

the nearest ATM machine

was about an hour away

so we used to cross

the whole town

in our 1970 VW beetle

just to find

that there was no money

or love

or anything else

inside

mom’s card

mom

dad’s lover

or the neighbor’s dog.

 

I felt so sad

I just wanted a new pair of socks,

a green pencil

and, perhaps

a tiny little fish

whose love

wouldn’t leave

my hands.

 

 


EGO_2

Sebastián Díaz Barriga was born in Mexico City in 1998. In 2018, he wrote his first book (Un rezo para mi padre) translated into English in 2020. He achieved first place at the XII National Desiderio Macías Silva Poetry Contest in 2019. He lives in the 21th century while dreaming about life. http://fabricandopajaros.blogspot.com is his blog.

Late September Morning – Glen Sorestad

 

You always hear them 

before you see them.

 

When I heard them, 

I stopped, looked up:

 

the cries of Snow Geese, 

thousands of them, 

 

ragged flying necklaces 

strewn across 

 

a robin’s egg sky, 

slant of rising sun 

 

glinting off 

brilliant white feathers.

 

That familiar ache 

seized my throat, 

 

their plaintive cries 

waning as they flowed by, 

 

carrying summer 

southwest to the river.

 


Glen Sorestad is a Canadian poet whose work has appeared in publication in various parts of the world, has appeared in over 60 anthologies and textbooks, and has been translated into eight languages. He was nominated for Best of the Web 2020. He lives with his wife Sonia in Saskatoon on the northern plains.

Frosted petals – Jade Morgan

 

The hexagonal particles of ice are warming, crackling, melting. The earth is only damp on the top layer; underneath it is dry and compacting, offering warmth and protection to the roots during the night. The sky is changing from a deep, vast blue to a softer, yet still intense, shade. Light blue will then be met with blinding white, will be met with lemon, will be met with blazing orange.

“All in good time”, the twilight breathes. “All in good time”.

Changing shape, the icicles climb into themselves before dropping onto the floor with the gentlest of ‘plops’. The departure of the clinging frost, which the closed petals host each night, causes the most subtle movement. The petals are shaken awake, free and able to breathe. Shimmering in delight, they turn their bodies towards the East like a porcelain ballerina twirling on a spring in a jewellery box.

As promised by the twilight, the sky is getting lighter. The remaining night stars twinkle and bow once more, before ending their performance and closing their glimmer to sleep.

As the tip of the brilliant father sun peaks its face over the hills in the horizon, the rays crawl over the grass towards the petals. In unison, the petals stretch, yawn and open themselves to let in the light and nourishment. It is a brand new day.

 

 

image0Jade Morgan discovered her passion for writing when she was travelling overseas, hiking in New Zealand’s National Parks and Nepal’s Himalayan mountain region. Since her return to England, she has engaged in writing courses to delve more into her new found passion. From the writing courses, Jade has been finding enjoyment in revisiting her travel journals to create a travel writing book and writing flash fiction stories. When she is not doing this, you can find her hiking, reading, hugging trees or planning her next adventure.

When – Louise Wilford

 

and then, when the sluggish earth winds down,

when the wild copper sun streams into the sea,

when the night creeps in like a timid guest

then, beneath the scraps of cloud,

as the air stiffens with the last chirps of the crickets

as the scent of autumn seeps like a charm into my veins

and the still-warm twilight twists about my limbs

when the brush of a dying ladybird on my forearm

or the dry ivy leaf combing my shoulder

is itchy as elf-fingers as I pass, when the shuffling hedgehog

circles the lawn and the first drift of leaves

crumbles beneath our shoes, when the mouse-eyed

elderberries droop, black bubbles in the ripple of moonlight,

and the night’s grey dust dampens the rosehips

and snags among the blood-red haws

then, we will step through the dandelion clocks,

through the lazy cobwebs, through the sleepy moths,

and we will dance, my love – my love, we will dance

and then we will dance as the slow earth turns

 

 

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.

Soon the Drift of Dusk – Darrell Coggins

 

Twirls of seaweed strew

over dimpled rocks

 

quickly shed free –

across damp sand

playing off each other

 

papery filaments skitter

and flip

 

Later, washed over

crisscrossed in a half-smile

frail footsteps recede

 

disquieting behind me

ribbed with graveyard bones

limestone fragments crumble

 

wallpapered underneath

in imprecise lines

 

snippets of ochre conjure

an amoebic design

a patina stained and flecked

 

Soon the drift of dusk –

unmoored, about to weep

drawn back and back

 

both beautiful and hypnotic

a bevy of clouds merge

towards the sea

 

continuously glassy

minute waves lap

almost silent –

 

gentle against my feet

 

 

IMG_1301Darrell Coggins is a poet, visual artist and musician who lives in Adelaide, South Australia. His poetry has been published in Poetry Matters, Positive Words, The Mozzie, Tamba, Studio, Nine Muses, Envy – Seven Deadly Sins, The Crow and Friendly Street Poets anthologies. Darrell’s poems are of moments seen, heard and felt.

Imperfect Shelter – Martin Potter

 

Overcast and when it starts

To come down a heavy headed

Tree appears to offer

 

Round its trunk a dry space

Above countless leaf strata

Parrying the downpour

 

To begin with it’s like a roof

Secure you hear the percolation

Working through the rafters

 

Until collected the outsize drops

Single out whatever tender

Spots are homing unwary

 

 

FullSizeRenderMartin Potter is a poet and academic, and his poems have appeared in Acumen, The French Literary Review, Eborakon, Scintilla, and other journals. His pamphlet In the Particular was published by Eyewear in December 2017. Read more at https://martinpotterpoet.home.blog.

The Cyst – Fizza Abbas

 

If I could poke the yolk

of a fried egg,

 

or sprinkle a pinch of salt

around the albumen,

 

I would tell him, my skin tastes salty.

 

Instead, I handed myself to the body,

thick, sticky mucus marks my newfound respect

for two elastic bags

they fondly call lungs

 

I ask you finally,

will you help me leave my DNA in the world

before they call it a deed

 

 

Fizza Abbas (Portrait Photograph)Fizza Abbas is a Freelance Content Writer based in Karachi, Pakistan. She is fond of poetry and music. Her works have been published at many platforms including Indiana Voice Journal and Poetry Pacific.

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.

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.

Soft Landing – Jessica Michael

 

I spend an afternoon listening for the sound sun makes when it hits the ground,

a symphony as it slides off blades of grass, drowns itself in pools of shadow,

then stumble up a broken mountain to see how wind is cradled.

 

Not a single straight line is made anywhere.

 

Perhaps this accounts for our human obsession with maps,

our need to press curves into grids.

They say it is for memory, but I don’t believe them—

you can’t remember this.

 

How land spreads before sunset fire.

How ravens fly without moving a wing.

How a single leaf makes the decision to fall.

 

Does earth know to catch it when it does?

 

 

10036_2Jessica Michael lives and writes in Prescott, AZ when she’s not traveling this intriguing blue planet. Her work has appeared in Allegro, Comstock Review, Red Fez, Rebelle Society, Outdoor Australia, and others. Find her poetry and photography at www.authorjessicamichael.com or follow her on Instagram as @authorjessicamichael.

Foal – Anthony Watts

 

On Thorncombe Hill

I saw the world

 

balanced

upon four saplings

 

itself-begetting

in the dew of the foal’s eyes

 

who whinnying

down nostrils newly bored

 

printed upon that

immemorial quietude

 

his infant sneeze.

 

 

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.

Belated Farewells – Linda Rhinehart

 

That summer night we walked

together under the moon,

brighter than a fluorescent snow

globe in a Halloween window;

You told me to look up, so I did; I saw

a scattering of sun-dipped stars behind,

stepping stone to bright unknown horizons.

Later that night mist fell over a silent ocean,

and now I sit alone before a window

wondering if there is anything I could have said,

if there was anything I could have done,

and the moon a mere piece of cloth

pinned to an ink-dark sky.

 

 

IMG_1172Linda Rhinehart, 30, is a student, writer and translator currently living and studying in Cardiff, Wales. In the past she has lived in Switzerland, the USA and Germany. She has been writing poetry for around three years and reading it for a lot longer. In her spare time she enjoys playing piano, going for walks in nature and cats.

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.