The Letter

 
The gentle indentation of a pen.
Whispers across a virgin page,
white as snow. Accepts the marks
like footprints travelling an open plain.
Gathering things to be passed on,
A personal harvest held within two folds.
The missive is signed. Your own hieroglyph.
Folded neatly, slid into an envelopes
open mouth. Days later I open it,
feel its crisp lines, almost feather weight.
Wonder what information it might contain.
I weigh it in my palm, full of anticipation.
It has been a long time, used as I am
to bill, circular, email.
I scan the page, read the end first.
Smile as I see it signed, ‘with love’.

                                                  Miki 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.
 
 

Adrift

 

A small rock
rises from the sea
a tough refuge
for battered birds.

Perched vigil,
they salvage a piece
of austere sanctuary,
tread their tired feet.

The sea sweeps
in haste surges hard
white foam thrashes
and squawking birds,
their port flooded,
flap into the air
abandon trust.

The birds shriek,
weave in the wind
then outstretched glide
into sky.

Splash empties
back to the cold sea,
where the rock,
rising again,
remains.

 

 

Still Life

Paintbrush,
weathered and grey,
dried through years,
old hairs fixed.

Cluttered paintings
of beaches and women
beside oil paints
hardened in dust.

You used to paint
the world considered,
your strokes lit oils,
painted the new.

Now idle
by unfinished works, 
you gather dust,
stare at walls.

 

               Ion Corcos

 

Ion Corcos was born in Sydney, Australia. He writes poetry and short stories. Ion’s poems have appeared in Lake City Lights and Zinewest. Ion loves travelling and has recently travelled to Greece and Turkey. He lives with his partner, Lisa, in a small villa by the sea at Sapphire Beach.


Wintering Out
 
Time lies in a corner,
mournful of winter.
 
Small, blue and frigid,
her notes ice-covered.
 
Ground has felt old frost,
potatoes rooted.
 
Air bubbles now trapped
under lank ice sheet.
 
The child’s stick just breaks
on visitation.
 
Stubborn river falls,
considering home.


Library Warmth
 
Behind her earphones lies
the reason for her smile:
music, video, anecdote,
all unknown.
 
Perhaps it does not matter why,
            just that
on an algid, ashen day as this,
she can still catch the sun on her lips.



Once Whipped

To halt the runaway horse,
we shoot a leg
and trust the fall;
buckling, kicking,
the gun, close at hand.
 
How to halt
that liberated bolt
without bolting shut
the runner; how to temper
its appetite for speed;
yet, beauty under control
is no beauty at all.

 

                                                         Colin Dardis



Colin is a poet, editor and arts facilitator, based in Belfast. His work has been published in numerous anthologies, journals and zines throughout Ireland, the UK and the USA. He is the editor of FourXFour, an online journal focusing on poetry from Northern Ireland. www.colindardispoet.co.uk


Daughters and Doughnuts


No, I don't think our ancestors
look down from the night sky,
you heard that from a movie, not me.
Stars, those are just bright stars
and they don't have eyes. But, yes,

I do think wisdom falls from heaven
like snowflakes...
or powdered sugar on waffles;
sprinkled lightly to be discovered
only after it's been tasted. It's an
enhancement sort of thing. But, no,

I don't think everyone shakes 
the glass, holey-topped jar
over their fresh baked life. It's a:
separate, beat and then fold in
your egg white, sort of deal. Not everyone
knows how to do it. And, yes,

pie crust can be difficult. And rewarding.
Unlike doughnuts, especially, the ones
made with potatoes, no delicate shake there,
the dense cake-fluff is fried, then rolled
in nib sugar, It might look good
but most of those pearls will fall off
before they touch your tongue. And, no,

grandma didn't know how to bake. I taught
myself, read a lot of books when I was young,
but mostly, I learned by tasting.





The dream of pink boxes and pearls

The subject line simply said: "Paris?"
And the geometry of rooftops, 
statue-edged brown boulevards
with rain-slick sidewalks shone
under a hundred French feet.

In a red awning cafe we drank 
with a man who guessed your name 
was Ben. Played spin the bottle
with a vintage postcard of the Eiffel Tower; 
once trapped under the glass top
of our table, you smuggled it away 

in a pink pastry box. We ate pearls 
of sugar outside the Louvre, and chalked 
out life's muddy angled meanings 
on the concrete stairs. 

And still I believed 
your message contained magical content.




A Trivial Pursuit

It is like Scrabble at every exchange
each one of us checking
what we have in our hand;
adjusting, re-adjusting, switching
things around to fit into the high maintenance
interaction. Determined to link
only on a vowel, always preferring
to silence the recently laid E, especially,
if one of us has left it open 
and dangling, vulnerable,
near a triple sweet spot.

It takes concentration to appear
not to be bothered by the time you take,
or the ugly words you use
as you seal the board like a traffic jam
just so I can call you clever,

or about your smile as you tally up
the little numbers on the bottom of your tiles
to show me you will always win.


                                   Suzanne Jean Johanson



Suzanne Jean has been participating in the forum workshop at www.poetsgraves.co.uk for five years. Her work appears in their anthology Making Contact and also in Antiphon. 


Jasper 


In an attic

the size of a

single bed,

Jasper, 89, simple life,

dips his Oreo cookie

in moist oatmeal and milk.

Six months ago

his driver’s license

expired-

between the onset

of macular degeneration

and gas at $4.65 a gallon,

life for Jasper has stalled out

in the middle lane

like his middle of the month

social security check, it’s gone.

There’s nothing academic about Jasper’s life.

Today, the journey is the stepping stairs

spiraling downward to the mailbox

in the corridor area.

Midway, he leans against the cool

walls for breath with his oxygen tank,

no rails to hang on to.

The Chicago Cubs are playing on the radio,

and Jasper reaches for his cigarettes

in his top left pocket.


                                        Michael Lee Johnson

 



Michael lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era:  now known as the Itasca, IL poet.  Today he is a poet, freelance writer, photographer who experiments with poetography (blending poetry with photography), and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois, who has been published in more than 750 small press magazines in 26 countries, he edits 7 poetry sites.  Michael is the author of The Lost American:  From Exile to Freedom (136 pages book), several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems.  He also has over 69 poetry videos on YouTube.

Links:  http://poetryman.mysite.com/.  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/promomanusa

https://www.youtube.com/user/poetrymanusa/videos

http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000058168/The-Lost-American.aspx

http://www.amazon.com/The-Lost-American-Exile-Freedom/dp/0595460917

 

Follow Michael Lee Johnson On:

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Clocks

Clocks tyrannise. Faces 
implacable, long tongues 
lick away the hours. 
Time is all they know. 
Obsessed, they talk 
of nothing else.

But here at the turnpike –
short on change, but long
on breath – I watch the sun
bounce like a dropped ball 
in the long grass between 
solstice and equinox.



Frontiers

No one likes a hospital. Mortality 
accommodated, pain as price or penalty.
Heartbreak hotels, all jangling  traffic -

white antibodies pushing trollies 
through  flapping rubber doors like valves, 
knackered doctors, heads on desks. 

So when, this Christmas, it's my dad 
I'm visiting, I step into the antiseptic fug 
with more than usual trepidation. 

Spat out by a peristaltic lift, I shuffle, 
fruitless, flowerless, down the bed-line. 
Jones, J.C. (k.a. 'Jack'), the scribbled notice says.  

But in his place there lies half-
submerged beneath a glacial sheet,
an ice-warrior. Some arctic wind 

has drifted snow against his bones 
and now  ghost-whispers come down time 
within his slight breathing.  December 

in his veins, and in the evening sky 
against the windows.  I’m at the bedhead, 
watching the reptile pulse in throat 

and eyelid, the icicle drips of glucose 
ticking silently.  I am a stranger 
in your world of white light, filaments 

and dials.  I am invisible: its customs 
disregard my useless love. Its ministers, 
purposeful and sure of their ground, 

occupy the space between us, lifting 
and settling like nesting birds.  You hibernate, 
safe within your cage of branches. 

Electronic doors discharge me, unprepared 
for these old lands made strange. Raw 
wind pulls rain across the car park ;

hope shreds, like the clouds.  I drive through limbo. 
Blurred, dissolving in my rearview mirror, 
the hospital tips and sinks like a ship of lights.



Poem without words

Sometimes a poem just happens in plain air. 
Mute, like mimes, the actors shimmer briefly 
and are gone, leaving their outlines etched 
in light, wordless but entire.  Consider this: 

the cemetery fence, the graves beyond; 
the balding man, late middle-aged, who walks 
towards the fence; fresh blooms against 
a tombstone and dead flowers lobbed towards 

the dump; the arc they make; the boy with Downs 
who stumbles, weeping, close behind.  The man, 
the flowers and the boy. The air that framed them 
and the light that picked them out.


                                                            R A Jones



Richard Initially wooed by the First World War poets and then seduced by the Beats, Dick Jones has been exploring the vast territories in between since the age of 15. Work has been published in a number of magazines, print and online, including Orbis, The Interpreter’s House, Poetry Ireland Review, Qarrtsiluni, Westwords, Mipoesias, Three Candles, Other Poetry, Rattlesnake and Ouroboros Review. In 2010 Dick received a Pushcart nomination for his poem Sea Of Stars and his first collection, Ancient Lights, was published by Phoenicia Publishing in 2012. A translation of Blaise Cendrars’ iconoclastic epic poem ‘La Prose du Transsibérien…’, illustrated by Natalie D’Arbeloff, is due for publication by The Old Stile Press in 2014.

As daily occupation he does the school run, the shopping and the cleaning while his partner earns the money. And for fun and modest profit he plays bass guitar and percussion in a blues roots-and-shoots trio.


A Renter's Lament



I should have moved out twelve years ago
when the pipes burst and water cavalierly cascaded
onto my freshly laid wooden floors
ruining the finish and
my perception of the upstairs neighbor
as a decent guy who would help a fellow in a fix. 

I should have moved out after that
when the bar below the lobby opened
and loud lewd intoxicated smokers
poured onto the sidewalk
shrieking shit-faced obscenities to each other
and to no one in particular at four in the morning.

I then should have moved
when the building manager absconded with the rents,
when the commuter trains began blasting their horns
in the station across the way,
when the bedbugs invaded from a mattress left in the laundry room,
when my wife said get me out of here or I’ll go crazy.

I worked thirty-four years
at the same place before being excessed.
Could of left earlier,
should of left earlier,
would of left earlier
but the devil, you know.   


                                                     Martin H. Levinson




Martin is a member of the Authors Guild, National Book Critics Circle, and the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. He has published 8 books and numerous articles. His poems have appeared in The Potomac ReviewBRICKRhetoricOccupoetrySpecter MagazineFirst Literary Review EastBoston Poetry Magazine, and Mindset Poetry. He holds a PhD from NYU and lives in Forest Hills, New York.


Poetic justice.

I sucked on a chocolate lime and zig-zagged
amber leaves while Mary-lou whittled 
a headstone from the door of an old sideboard. 
She's bold with a chisel and a mallet but shy
when it comes to deodorant.

I could see all the way to the bottom
of her garden through the hole in her ear.
Her newly dead boyfriend's blue vest, cold
and full of bird shit, draped over the remnants
of  not his best poems. A worthy pall
for a piss poor poet who rolled his dick
out like a red carpet onto pelvic floors
of bad mannered girlies with drunken lips
and names he never bothered to ask.


Spanish hips


My Spanish hips have woken from their siesta
and are busy entertaining the wrong sort of hombre.
I want to dance for you but you’re not here.
Insincere apologies float amongst melancholy fruits 
in warm sangria and disappear 
down the throats of random borrachos
taking advantage of forgotten rules.
I tango with unfaithful gringos 
beneath a piñata of good intentions, 
which sways above my tipsy judgements 
like God wagging a disapproving finger. 
Tomorrow will I suck my dehydrated 
recollections between my teeth, 
and apologise?
Por que?


School runs, dancing classes and football matches have consumed Pauline's free time for the past thirty years. Along with domestic duties, Tesco runs and taxi rides. Three of her four kids have now flew the coupe and she has have whipped my pinny off, stuck my hand down the side of the family sofa found her long lost love of poetry and Art. 


Poetic justice.

I sucked on a chocolate lime and zig-zagged
amber leaves while Mary-lou whittled 
a headstone from the door of an old sideboard. 
She's bold with a chisel and a mallet but shy
when it comes to deodorant.

I could see all the way to the bottom
of her garden through the hole in her ear.
Her newly dead boyfriend's blue vest, cold
and full of bird shit, draped over the remnants
of  not his best poems. A worthy pall
for a piss poor poet who rolled his dick
out like a red carpet onto pelvic floors
of bad mannered girlies with drunken lips
and names he never bothered to ask.


Spanish hips


My Spanish hips have woken from their siesta
and are busy entertaining the wrong sort of hombre.
I want to dance for you but you’re not here.
Insincere apologies float amongst melancholy fruits 
in warm sangria and disappear 
down the throats of random borrachos
taking advantage of forgotten rules.
I tango with unfaithful gringos 
beneath a piñata of good intentions, 
which sways above my tipsy judgements 
like God wagging a disapproving finger. 
Tomorrow will I suck my dehydrated 
recollections between my teeth, 
and apologise?
Por que?


School runs, dancing classes and football matches have consumed Pauline's free time for the past thirty years. Along with domestic duties, Tesco runs and taxi rides. Three of her four kids have now flew the coupe and she has have whipped my pinny off, stuck my hand down the side of the family sofa found her long lost love of poetry and Art. 

ANGER MANAGEMENT

 

Upstairs on the bus

the buzz of conversation

briefly spikes:

a mix of male-voiced threats

and shriller female umbrage.

High heels hit the stairs.

 

While the bus draws breath

an older woman’s voice

as warm and soft and level

as Caribbean sand

drifts along the aisle.

 

“I’m old enough to be your mother

so I ain’t afraid of you;

and I’m tellin’ you you never

ever answer someone back that way.

No matter if they give you grief.

Y’ hear me now?”

 

She gets no response.

Only when she leaves

(outside the hospital

where she should be a Sister)

can there be a consultation

with a mute lieutenant. 

 

Snigger.

“That’s a plate of humble pie she served me.

It ain’t easy eatin’ humble pie

even when you’re hungry.” 

 

Pout.

“Yeah, but what does she know, anyway?

She don’t see the stuff I got to take:

you don’t judge books by covers.” 

 

Leer.

“I’ll tell you really why she came up here:

to get a chance to be close to my body.

Those old ones – they’re all beggin’ for it.”



 

 

EAR NOSE & THROAT WING

 

Two spiral stairwells simulate enormous aural cavities

funnelling a hymn, piano-pounded, from a floor above.

The sturdy rhythm stirs a twitch in muscles:

they recall a summons to assembly,

a dread of being late.

 

Corridors in hospital behave like nasal passages

amplifying smells.  A dark-brown reek of institution stew

has switched on memories of lining up

for lunch at school, expecting thick vile gravy

and hoping for a choice.

 

Two choices are on offer at the top of an oesophagus:

struggle to provoke a cough, and hope to make a quick escape

the way you came; or give in to the system

and simply trust your exit will be sweetened

by perfumes of soft soap.


                                                        Thomas Ovans



Although Thomas has a background in technical writing he has been reading poetry for a long time.Lately Thomas have been doing some reviewing for London Grip and have even published a few poems of his own in that magazine as well as in Smiths Knoll and Message in a Bottle.


Times Gone Bye

 

I remember when old was as good as new.

When nothing was pristine.

Not even the light, which wasn’t white,

But embalmed us in a sepia hue,

Blanching the wallpaper

That peeled at ceilings- the paint flaking around sash windows,

Hung rather than swung casements.,

 

Back when things lay on shelves rather than stood,

And lampshades were cocked with pictures slanted,

Hanging from nails, themselves hanging from the plaster-

Though not the mirror, which had to be hoisted into position

Until it would only ever come down with the wall itself.

With its round toggled light switch.

 

With the landscape poised above the corbelled mantel-

Strewn with memento’s of special occasions all evident in the clutter.

Back when the aroma of the room held pipes and polish,

And the Sunday roast lasted until Thursdays stew.

 

Back when we had pantries instead of cupboards,

Cupboards instead of wardrobes.

And sideboards were more prevalent than telly.

Where we viewed the weather from the back door barometer,

Scuttling back and forth to the coal house with the shovel for the fire

That spat cinders, singeing the carpets,

Worn to threads

Then thrown down stairs-

The treads and risers exposed at the sides

Creaking with the floors and doors.

 

The clinking of  keys clanking in their locks,

While ticking clocks amplified the silence,

Echoing songs that people sang

To entertain each other rather than themselves.

And taking us back to times when old was as good as new

And new was never old.


 

                                         Anthony Ward


Anthony tends to fidget with his thoughts in the hope of laying them to rest. He has managed to lay them in a number of literary magazines including The Faircloth Review, Message in a BottleShot Glass JournalTurbulence, The Autumn Sound Review, Torrid Literature Journal and Crack the Spine, amongst others.