First Gardening Day of 2014.

 
Soil turned, rich dark. 
Womb for seeds, tiny white roots.
Hands chilled as mud sticks. 
Springs first sparse warmth 
caresses my neck. Contrasts blossom. 
Heat and cold, dark earth, pale skin. 
I make holes, , pat down, smooth. 
Tuck in delicate tendrils. 
Smell earth, warm wood, 
fabric conditioner ghosting from my clothes. 
Neighbour-noise rises staccato 
from other gardens. We are drawn.
All of one mind. Outdoors. 
Into the air, under the sun. 
Pulled by a new season’s subtle force. 
Some to smoke, others to talk. I to garden. 
Transfixed by the papery pettalled 
layers of Ranunculus.
A constellation in a handful of seeds.

 
Head work.
 
 
I like my skills without muscle. 
Effort minus training. 
With a lack of pitch, court, pool, 
rink or gym. Ski’s, boards, skates. 
Superfluous, as are all the trapping of sport. 
Brain stretching is sufficient. 
With judicious application 
of search engine, book, 
reference, fact and fiction. 
My mind will happily flex. 
Take up yoga poses. 
Even a little Tai-chi arm sweeping. 
Inside my head I am Olympian. 
Whilst maintaining my disguise 
As an unexercised average Joe.


 
In Praise of Flying Saucers.
(The rice paper and sherbet kind).

 
This can become addictive. 
Bite a small cove from the rice-paper island. 
Dip the tongues tip into shoals of sherbet, 
that wriggle and splash. 
Feel the fizz electrify my mouth 
for that split-seconds 
eye-watering effervescence.
It needs repetition. The downing of many. A bagful. 
The colours mean nothing. 
But the drying pull of the rice-paper shell sticks 
like a flavourful stamp to tongue. 
Peels in skin-fine folds membranous as spider webs. 
Leaves a lip-smacking fullness of taste. 
Eating them whole has its own technique.
A challenge of not swallowing. 
Hold, hold, no sucking. 
Palette and taste buds glued until wham! 
A simultaneous exploding dissolving . 
Senses twanged like elastic. Mouthwater flows, 
is swallowed. 
Returns later in sherbet flavoured belches.



                                                           Michele Byrne






Miki has written three poetry collections, had work included in over 130 poetry magazines and anthologies and won prizes for her poetry. She has read on both Radio and TV, judged poetry competitions and was a finalist for Poet Laureate of Gloucestershire. Her latest collection, ‘Flying Through Houses’ is available now from Indigo Dreams Publishing. Miki is disabled and lives near Tewkesbury. UK.



The Orchard in November

 
Fermenting apples
left to ripen, rot and fall.
Death of the harvest.

 

 
The last time I saw Ipswich

I kissed you goodbye on Platform Three,
cried all the way to Manningtree. Seventeen:

long hair, flared jeans. We’d clicked on a campsite,
romance by post, half-term snogs on your parents’ sofa.

Distance made the heart grow fonder.
Distance made the heart wander.

I confessed it in a letter.
Your answer never came.

So I’m riding an Ipswich train,
thirty-five years on from that last goodbye.

Could that be you snoozing in the Quiet Coach near me?
Are you the receding man in Seat 75B?

If I could only remember your name
instead of your smile.

 

 
A Trip to the Vet

Old cats wail as they age, rage
against the slower limbs, the pendulum
of flesh and fur that swings below the belly.

The vet weighs cat and carrier,
then carrier minus cat. She’s losing,
after years of weight-watching.

The half-starved creature that came to us
ten years back, devoured every scrap
in case of future famine, got fat,

her meals then measured
in a plastic cup.
Now we need to build her up.

The drips on the kitchen floor, the nuggets
on her favourite chair – leakage,
the vet calls it – has no cure,

but her annual jab will boost her immunity
‘See you in a year,’ the vet says. I force a smile,

in the knowledge of a time
there will be no splayed legs,
no struggle to cage her.

 

                             Maria C McCarthy


Maria C McCarthy is author of a poetry collection strange fruits (Cultured Llama and WordAid 2011). Her collection of linked short stories, As Long as it Takes, is forthcoming in 2014. She writes in a shed at the end of her garden in a village in north Kent.

 

Continuity

I'm just a dog barking,
I tell my wife who's upset
with my yakking on and on
at our weekly meeting
on a Saturday morning
stationed in our recliners
facing forward as if we were
in the same row on a plane 
with the middle seat empty.

I tell her eventually
any dog will stop barking
if you give him a bowl of kibble
or let him in the house
or find his ball and play fetch.
Or do what my mother did
when I was an infant bawling 
and woke my father who faced 
work as a lineman the next day.

My mother would get out of bed,
grab her old bathrobe
and whisk me to the rocker.
Even to this day,
many decades removed,
it's the best solution:
Put a breast in my mouth
and silence will ensue.
Eventually I may even coo.




Cats Are Poetry

In your mind you hear 
words snarling 
all day long
but no poem arrives.
The words are locked
in a cat fight, 
syllables flying.

You hope the words 
sleep well tonight and 
wake in orderly fashion,
the way your cats 
stretch at dawn
and wait to be fed 
with feline decorum. 

In the morning
the poem arrives
word by word,
chips off a diamond,
so you stop shaving,
grab a pen and 
take dictation.

You write the words
as you hear them,
tweak a line or two,
and go spelunking 
in your mind for
the right title.

Later, in celebration,
you tote a blast horn 
to the roof 
of the building 
and announce 
what agnostics suspect 
and atheists know:

Cats are poetry.
Dogs are prose.





The Demise of Mr. Wise


The demise of Mr. Wise came as no surprise
to the clerks in his department,
those weathered women who for years
had borne his scorn so well. 

The story goes that Mr. Wise that day,
balancing his tray at lunch,
stepped lightly past
the puddings, pies and cakes

and pitched across his broth.
Two feet from the register, he dropped, 
a humpback suddenly ashore.
Behind him in the line was Mrs. Burke

who saw her boss's water break.
She knew right then 
there was nothing she could do. 
After all, as everyone could see,

an earthquake in the chest
had taken Mr. Wise.
And that is why she raised
both arms and cried,

"Forget the CPR! Someone
call a priest!" No other sound
was heard that afternoon.
Not one boo-hoo.


                               Donal Mahoney


Donal Mahoney has had poems published in Message in a Bottle and other print and online publications in the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa. 


  The Reed
 
 
I am the reed
translating the crude,
the boundless whine,
the pleading sigh
of the wandering wind
into formal song
in praise of the wonder
of wounded nature.
Kindle the wind
and stir up the storm:
the fiercer the wind,
the finer the sound.
 
 
 
 
 

              Only a Girl 
 
 
Only a girl ran across the meadow before the disaster.
Vibrant, the grass sprang back celebrating her healthy feet,
clouds of insects whirled in her wake in a torrent of teeming
golden air, and salty moisture cooled the barefooted
girl, her head full of babies, running across the scented
meadow by highways whispering tension and stretching to restless
cities beneath a satellite's mindless, hovering sensors
              that registered her movements,
              still registered her movements...
Barefooted daydream, girl and grass and insects, and teeming
cities full of babies all withered in the sudden heat.
 
 


              The Drunkard
 
 
Almost despite myself I say I love you –
a small exaggeration, for I love
the glimpse of you that I project so tall
it fills my spacious hall of loneliness.
 
 
Intoxicating lie. I'd love to love you.
Treacherous wine of words I can't defy;
and till they die (or while you let me) I
believe the words and my long search has ended.
 
 
And then I wake alone and, raging, rise –
my fragile, past emotions, born to break,
still on the floor. Aching, despite myself,
I take a fresh flask of words and drink with passion.

 
                                                       Thomas Orszag- Land




Thomas is award-winning foreign correspondent. His poetry appears in Ambit, The London Magazine and Stand.



I am a Spoon
 
Sometimes I want to


go to a fish market


and disappear among


the scales. To test


the waters of life,


where misfortunes


await me


 
and circumstances


anoint me.


To mock despair


surveying advantages


in your desires,


wanting more than


you are willing to send


in my direction.


 
I am a spoon


and you’re the soup.




I Spy for Reason

 

From my view upon

the hilltop, I see

 

trees carousing in the wind

shoreline cowering

from the clash of waves

 

people seeking shelter

from early flakes

in their search for a hideaway

 

summer; winter?

All mean the same when there

is no reason to stay and face

the truth

 

with clouds that follow

in shuffling clumps, no better

nor worse on this occasion.

 


Follow the Drum

 

“Darlin’ Clemintine”

carries to teen-age

buddies across

the polished floor

 

ricochets from

table to table, voices

singing their old

songs. Veterans

standing side by side

Mons–Ypres and Korea

 

plus other bloodthirsty

memories.   

 

At the Legion watering

hole once again

Nov 11 parade ended,

cadets resting

over pop and a plate

of fries. Tears flowing.

 

Not reality to these

young ones,

D-Day only a movie

to many. Yet one

day their blood may

join markers left behind.

 


                     Richard  L. Provencher


Richard L. Provencher writes poetry because he must. People, places and events are his canvas. Richard was born in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec and lives in Truro, Nova Scotia. He has many poems in print and online with: In Touch, Folly, Parenting Express, Expressions of Soul, phati’tude Literary Magazine, Ascent, and Bedtime.com.


Dealing with the cold
 
Zephyr...temple of noble intimacy! Cat
as if come from Egypt, but
of the sleepy porch
in the single spot of sunlight
when a cold Fall shimmers!
 
Kisser of fingers, nibbler
of tuna nuggets
after the pure love of muted dry meows!
 
You keep at bay a younger female
as much as you possibly can...with your terror
....your teeth shone mirror...your hisses and howls.
 
Ah! but you love my wife much more than you love even me!
Her wonderful lap is your greatest seat of fancy
afternoons
on the porch
with our tuna and crackers and tea.
 
 
Full moon critique
 
Fall's first frosty morning
where October slips toward Halloween
in the ghost of the Sun
and the souls all flying withered
on the dusty pines
and leaflessness of oak
dry shed
 
                                                        Sam Silva


Sam Silva has poetry in print magazines including, but not limited to Samisdat, The ECU Rebel, Sow's Ear, The American Muse, St. Andrews Review, Dog River Review, Third Lung Review, Main St. Rag, Charlotte Poetry Review, Parnasus...most (but not all) of these magazines are now defunct. For the Past four years his magazine portfolio has grown by and large on line including Rio Del Arts, Megaera, Big Bridge, Views unplugged, Comrade Magazine, Ken Again and at least thirty others. Over the years four small presses have published a total of nine chapbooks by Sam Silva ...these, being Third Lung Press, M.A.F. Press, Alpha Beat Press, Trouth Creek Press. Brown and Yale Universities solicited many of these chapbooks for their libraries. These chapbooks were well received in newspaper reviews by Shelby Stephenson, Ron Bayes, Steve Smith, and the late poet laureate of North Carolina Sam Ragan. Silva has ebooks available without cost at Physikgarden.com.He has well over 300 poems archived in online magazines. He was nominated a total of seven times by three small presses and has a full length collection of poetry called Eating and Drinking based on a royalties contract signed with Bright Spark Creative available for order at any online bookstore and has other full length poetry books available at amazon.com . Three spoken word CDs of Sam Silva's have been marketed through CDBaby.


Alleluya

 

He hearkens to the angels’ heraldry again,

a clichéd approach of footsteps

trapping him with nowhere to hide.

He  never adapted to such largesse,

all that peace on Earth and good will.

 

He feels his attitude has cast him out,

transforming him into a twisted soul,

imagines telling a doctor his problem,

mind-chuckling at the man’s bewilderment,

absurd humour a life-jacket.

 

He is aware of a tale for children

about a character begrudging Christmas,

but not from his own bleak childhood,

although he is familiar with Scrooge.

Bah! he mutters.  Humbug!

 

He would prefer Googling pagan festivals

to feigning pleasure unwrapping deodorant,

being alone, free to think and learn,

indulging that twisted soul of his,

but guilty pleasure would tug his sleeve.

 

The heavy universe bearing down,

he reasons another year drawing to a close

is what those footsteps signify.

He has spent time enough in shadow,

plans shopping for gifts, starts to sweat.  

 

 

Monstrous Tricksters

 

 

Reading a novel by Lauren Groff

about, among aspects of this short life,

a gentle deep lake monster

and a James Fenimore Cooper stand-in,

I watched between rationed chapters

a lamentable film – a ‘mockumentary’

starring Werner Herzog the director

(not of this irritating film)

about that old standby with bankable P.R.,

the Loch Ness monster.

 

Long ago I loved Herzog’s odd films

not least for their mesmerizing soundtracks,

narration by neck hair prickling voices

combined with music I imagined

as lyrical echoes across trackless time.

 

All tales, including film plots,

are exercises in manipulation

but this film lacks a heart – and a monster.

It tarnished my memory of Herzog’s work

so I returned to Groff’s vivid art,

her own monsters, in and out of the lake,

then I emailed her my praise

for speaking to me through her silken pages.

 

Lie to me whenever necessary

but do so with integrity.

Make me happy to be alive.   

 

The Taste of Salt

 

 

Kissing her goodbye finished me,

the desultory wipers so predictable

then watching her smouldering car disappear,

her hurrying, always dangerously late.

 

I was classically in love, even to the dumb,

so sad songs, If you leave me now,

you take away…Aargh!

Why couldn’t I bear those goodbyes like a man?

 

If I were the Bede’s sparrow flying through

that brightly-lighted grand hall,

I would have almost reached the far end now

before the utter dark again.

 

She would urge me, Make the most of it,

this succulent banquet, our wonderful luck.  


                                                            Ian C Smith

 

Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in ,The Best Australian Poetry, London Grip, New Contrast, Poetry Salzburg Review, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, The Weekend Australian,& Westerly  His latest book is Here Where I Work,Ginninderra Press (Adelaide).  He lives in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, Australia.
    


Gray Day Emerald Isle
 
Round the Ring of Kerry,
white dots of idle sheep
stipple misty hills.
 
Zoomed in: blue and
red paint slashes unshorn backs
of rams, lambs and ewes.
 
Heather, rapeseed, gorse
lift from eyes serene wrap
of eternal fog.
 
Celtic harp music
blaring on the bus clashes with
today’s soft weather.
 
 
 
 Almost There
 
There I was, senior in college,
in “Uncle” Ted’s kitchen,
amazed how his apartment perched
over his eminent Eighth Street Bookshop
had walls thick-bricked with books.
I winced at Grace Paley’s passed-on decree
that my stories were short on substance and style. 
O howl, had I been there just six months later
when Dylan and Ginsberg first met.
 
There I was at the YMHA, maybe thirteen,
playing ping pong with Peter Simon
(the publisher’s son), thinking simply 
he’s different because his family is rich. 
Losing touch later, I was not there to cheer
big sister Carly on her Lear jet to fame,
nor trip with Peter on his photo gigs
snapping Dylan, Ginsberg and Baez,
Garcia, Marley and lately Lady Gaga.
 
There I was in fourth grade, P.S. 90, 
perhaps a watt brighter than your average
rubber-cement-eating maven-of-cute-girls boy,
yet agreeing with friends who thought
that lass was kind of weird.   In classes
together for years after that, I said
few words to her.  Only now, as I wrestle
with verse, do I regret not being there
with priestess-poetess Marilyn Hacker.
 


                                        Lee Stein




Lee Marc Stein is a retired direct marketing consultant living in East Setauket.  His poems have been published in River Poets Journal, Still Crazy, Miller’s Pond Poetry, Slow Trains Journal, The Write Room, Blue Lake Review, Blue & Yellow Dog, Blast Furnace and Message in a Bottle.  He has written over 25 ekphrastic poems in the past four years.  

 

Lee has had short stories published in Bartleby Snopes, Write Place at the Write Time, Cynic Online, and Down in the Dirt.   He leads workshops at Stony Brook University’s Lifelong Learning program on modern masters of the novel.  He is an enthusiastic walker, photographer, white water rafter and kayaker.  A poor golfer, he excels at creating excuses for not playing well.