Putting the bins out on a damp night
my foot finds that almost-resistance
and I hear the shell crackle and give.
I lean on the door frame
to inspect the carcass on my sole.
Other than flecks of swirling brown
which used to be its home
there's no semblance of the snail;
no curious dotted feelers that shrink
at the merest touch, no grey tweed pleats
on which to slowly surf.
All that remains is a sticky, crunchy stain
and faintly discernible structures
which cling to my slipper's underside
like a slob's flobbed chewing gum.
I roll my eyes and curse that we should
collide this way tonight; the snail biding
in my car's shadow on the drive,
me crag-kneed heaving a crammed wheelie-bin.
Although I could say sorry, there’s more
to these little deaths than simple regret;
they creep on my shoulders one by one
and something unseen jabs a finger,
notes down my name.
How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?
Confetti on the rain-covered pavement;
I stoop to inspect it and see
blue ballpoint hearts and hasty kisses.
I peel up every last torn piece
keep it safe in my pocket until I’m home
and then tape it back together.
A smudged jigsaw of promises and regret,
it deserves a second chance.
In the church’s stone chill, we tune out the drone
knowing to kneel here, mutter there, not quite sing.
We gather for our dearests’ rites, bedecked,
it is the end product that means most.
We feel the steps, when to hold or release;
like those sixties dance crazes, we’re in synch.
We get through it, passing the smokers
on our way out, armed with silver, rice, soil.
Ben Banyard lives in Portishead, where he writes poetry and short fiction. His work has appeared in print and online in Popshot Magazine, Lunar Poetry, Sarasvati, Ink Sweat & Tears, Snakeskin, The Stare's Nest and others. Ben edits Clear Poetry, a blog publishing accessible contemporary poetry every Monday and Thursday: https://clearpoetry.wordpress.com
Everyone has a pseudonym -,
In their debenture -,
Tundra reckoning of the soul.
It's what's done
With these. Whether
To surrender to the yoke?
Upon the wheel?
The veritable fox at the water-
My gaze, seems
Of wild violets
In effigy, the road-signs
Of his eyes
Tell of places
The blue veiled
I can accord or
Stall the fable.
To rat-a-tat loudly
On the door
Of hard knocks
The border patrol -,
... And the capsized
'Four and twenty'
A higher power.
Stefanie Bennett has published eighteen volumes of poetry, acted as a publishing editor and worked with Arts Action for Peace. Of mixed ancestry (Italian/Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee), she was born in Townsville, Queensland, Australia in 1945. Stefanie's latest poetry title 'The Vanishing is due at year's end. Publisher; Walleah Press.
Luck under the guise of practice
lends belief, colored, narrow
without knowing so—in my mind’s eye
solutions are pragmatic, rational, obvious—
really though, hollow, rooms
with only three walls, perhaps a floor—
yes, feel the ground
above, see all the weather
Practice not-doing / and everything
will fall into place
-Tao Te Ching (Stephen Mitchell, trans.)
Straightaway this feels sinful.
But then, I wonder if monks suffer
from depression. Some must.
Nobody is just born.
I cannot come up with any nuances in denial.
The Laundry People
have this clever policy:
You call to tell them,
Washer 1 & 3 are broken
again, and then they ask,
How much money did you lose?
When you get a call back
from the man who allegedly
does the fixing, he will
mention the amount of money
you said you lost.
But you will never see this
money again. Words mean
so much to me, I mean
I covet words. If that is enough
for others, I will call us even.
Mark Danowsky’s poetry has appeared in Apiary, Alba: A Journal of Short Poetry, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Red River Review, Right Hand Pointing, Shot Glass Journal, Snow Monkey, The New Verse News and Word Soup. His poem 5am Summer Storm won Imitation Fruit’s “Animals and Their Human’s” Contest, in 2013. Mark lives on the East Coast of the U.S. He works for a private detective agency and is assistant copy editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal (svjlit.com).
Fears Fall into Rain
Fears fall out walking into the rain
umbrella opens to the remaining years.
Generalized fears I know them all by their first names.
Near night, I hear the last call of the red-winged blackbird, before dusk.
October 23rd, 2014 I am watching the sky blue, mixed confused, with gray clouds,
white feather strokes in-between, than the partial solar eclipse the moon took a chunk out of the sun.
Then a ghost hangs from a maple tree.
I hear the typewriter stroking near Halloween.
Fall is Golden (V5)
The last golden yellow apple
hangs like a healing miracle
bow down old apple tree
winter is coming.
Life is a single thread this time.
Golden woman is a sharp eye fall woman.
She watches leaves turn shy,
around, turn many colors,
colors dance of joy then death.
Winter is a vampire,
she is a prelude to Spring:
walk days into faith, grace, and salvation.
Sparrows perch on bare branches nearby,
more interested in my bird feeder, now,
then they will be in the early spring.
Life is on its way to seasonal heaven's door.
My old willow tree, shaking, wind dances.
Its narrow leaves splinters yellowed,
spin loose fall down.
In a short time winter must learn
to write straight, complete, surrender, forfeiture.
World outside my balcony window
is compelling, cold yet,
I return to my bedroom, tuck in, restful.
Nikki, kitten beside me, dreams
of gold, hints of Jesus forever sleep.
Two Single Flowers
this yellow rose
this yellow daisy
I learned years ago, true stories against myths.
I learned early in hustle time to distinguish single cash back rewards
from whores-dime store dancers from true date believers-
I never worried about the sentence structure of my life.
Life is a melody breather, philosophy of ghosts, past, pink pillow talk.
Resurrection Mary was my history teacher, my lesson, lover in white satin.
Single life is a hollow road, and a narrow road with a cemetery nearby.
I was then and now a writer poetry of screams, dementia, limited skills, and open skulls.
I hampered history into our craniums, criminal minds, images of release, sperm climax.
When she was conscious, she kissed my breath, and dreamed of my beginning, my end.
I was a drifter of singles dances; she was a drifter of time, shadow maker.
I often breathed on her forehead, sucked on her toes, left the body for legends
toss carcass into the south wind and south gate storms.
Jesus is a perfume seller of night scent.
Jesus is aroused and an iron bar bender, stretcher of the nights into years.
Mary clutches her small purse, passes of injustice, and hitchhikes back and forth in time.
I am stamped; shake me, watch click in time-
Resurrection Mary still holds a red wine glass, end of the barstool in time.
Shake it all off, no shame; put those dancing shoes on, one more time.
There was nothing special about women, young in Chicago 30's.
Resurrection Mary, danced, stamped a white wedding dress poetry mind, sex out, gone.
She taught me oral sex at lunchtime.
Resurrection Mary, we still hold, wine, at end of the barstool.
Shake, no shame, put those dancing shoes on.
Footnote: Resurrection Mary is a well-known Chicago area ghost story. Of the "vanishing hitchhiker" type, the story takes place outside Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois, a few miles southwest of Chicago. Quote taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era: now known as the Illinois poet, from Itasca, IL. 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 875 small press magazines in 27 countries, he edits 9 poetry sites. Michael is the author of The Lost American: "From Exile to Freedom", several chapbooks of poetry, including "From Which Place the Morning Rises" and "Challenge of Night and Day", and "Chicago Poems". He also has over 71 poetry videos on YouTube.
Read Michael's poetry elsewhere:
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I have a fear of kāla* which knots any situation
into nets as those seconds strike by.
Perhaps I should crush those boxes by standing
on clocks and dancing? I have not learnt to be brave -
to see petals emerge from the enfolding days of a flower.
My Nana's cousin, Reg, was a prisoner of war.
On the train, as he rushed past planes
of blood (in carriages of webs and dark spinnerets,)
he found a hole in the wooden slats and peeked out.
He saw golden fields, poppies, houses. Everything rushed
by so quickly. Such beauty. Such light.
*kāla -the Sanskrit word for time
*Shambhu - a name for Shiva, meaning source of bliss
Words written by the poet's Nana that place the above poem in context:
"Reg was taken prisoner with thousands of British soldiers, in northern France during the 2nd world war, by General Rommel's armoured tank division. It was on the 12th June 1940, three days after his 21st birthday - a birthday to remember. Their horrendous journey by foot, on cattle trucks and barges eventually ended in Poland, where they were kept as prisoners, by the Germans, until they were liberated in 1945 by General Patton's American army. On his journey to Poland he managed to throw a message in a bottle, into the sea, telling his mother that he had been taken prisoner. Against all odds, the bottle was found and his mother was immediately contacted; she later informed the war office of Reg's capture and imprisonment.
Reg went on to marry and led a long and happy life until his death, earlier this year on the 4th January 2015, aged 95 years. Among his possessions was the message in a bottle, which had been returned to him many years ago."
With Broken Wings
When I imagine Earth in my mind's eye
I see a globe floating amidst bands of waves
that ripple across vast and arcane oceans.
I no longer see my house. My planet is home.
Yet twisting my wings between your fingers,
you pin them down - that's you. Please
not there, I beg, don't pin me down
beneath your thumb, I say, as I rip my wings and crawl away.
I slip around the globe, perhaps you see it on my belly
and I ask: what's in a hand
if your words are pins?
The Celts in China
'You come in and never come out,'
that's what 'Taklamakan' means according to the Uyghur
people of Xinjiang. But we're Celts
and we've walked too far. I dream again,
chase sand as years build this desert and Loulan town rises
like a dune. I follow caravans on old Silk Road until it's all blown down again.
We've been teased with grains of prosperity in Tarim Basin where we'll sleep,
on dry, alkaline sheets. Yet my dreams cannot turn light to water - helpless,
I watch my lover's lips shrivel between his ginger beard
as he expresses respect with carefully placed stones - I save two and paint
them blue. They'll shield my baby's eyes from the monotony of sand
as the desert drags us from the right to enrich our life with choices.
There's enough energy for one more dream and I see you, in a museum,
examining my body in a glass casket and cowering, you glare back at a mirror.
Well I'm telling you: before our eyes drooped, I picked my own burial gown
and swept a comb through my lover's hair.
Tess Joyce is a writer from the UK currently based in Indonesia. Her poems were recently published in poetry magazines Orbis, The Journal, Tears in the Fence, Obsessed with Pipework and in online magazines Triggerfish, Snakeskin, The Island Review, BlazeVOX, Ditch, Four and Twenty, Anatomy and Etymology and Phantom Kangaroo. In 2009 a collection of her poetry was published in India; the book was a collaboration with an Indian writer.
A Lover's Farewell
A suitcase lies by the door
like a dying animal.
We do not go near it.
I sit with my head in a book.
I delight in facts.
I pick them over with relish.
I am aware of movements within the house,
but I do not concern myself with them.
When you enter the room
I cannot bear to look at you:
if one thought should lift,
a stray ember, and attach itself
to you, I know I am lost
and if I should begin to tune in
to your footfall, to your comings
and your goings, I am finished –
it would make this leaving impossible.
Not the lingering gaze of the tracking camera
but the glance.
Not the dramatic arc of the woodland edge
but dark branches against cold, clear sky.
Not the swelling satisfaction of flowing land
but the exposed edge of the hidden hill
and the sharp tug in the abdomen
that steals the wind from you.
Girl in the Park
She stands in the mist-piercing
pouring light of morning.
Like an archer, she bends her arm
poised for a moment, immortal,
her bronze dog paused, waiting
for its ball to be thrown.
And yet she was ever thus –
whether fiddling with her phone
on the back seat of the bus
or wobbling down High Street
on heels that seemed like stilts.
It took this moment to see it.
James R Kilner's first book of poems, Frequencies of Light, was published in 2015 by Lapwing. Reviewed in The Lake poetry journal, the poems were described as 'technically skilful and a linguistic joy to read'. He began his career as a journalist in the newspaper industry, working at York & County Press as a reporter initially, before going on to become a feature writer, sub-editor and Deputy Editor. He was awarded a PhD by the University of Leeds for his research on the poetry of Ted Hughes. He lives in Whickham, Tyne and Wear.
I was born on a black-hearted day
by a railway line and a silver lava road.
She laid me down in my grease/ her blood
upon the pearlised lining, swaddled
in her camisole. My head touched the pouches’
chilly edges of her plated cigarette case
and Psalms. I breathed dust at each corner,
crumbs of grey hydrangea, tattered bits of hair.
I remember everything. The weave above my head
once blue as a starry chapel. The smell of leather
and antiseptic. Locks like castanets.
Of course I grew, tested the boundaries.
From rooming house to rooming house
she smuggled me in, set me out
under my battered canopy.
I could see for miles from there, right back
to the one travelling sperm
as it wheedled to be sucked inside
the four pillars of my deliverance.
Road and Imaginary Mountains
Born under Capricorn I’m a climber
but I fear heights and the higher I go
the more lost I am -
some days are one mountain after another,
only a thin ridge with a sheer drop
to cross between them
and I’m gone:
who will be the one (Taurus, probably,
or Virgo, feet firm on the ground)
to tell me the road is straight,
flat, the hedgerows are brimming with birds,
berries, we have been this way before
so many times, come on, it’s easy?
All night the cisterns whisper.
A lantern on its long chain
ticks and mutters in the stairwell,
something in the roof-light
breathes and blanches
where the crow hung.
There are scuff-marks over the floor.
The child I was crosses the landing,
a torch swings round, sudden – zoetrope’s
galloping alphabet of silverish
fingerprints – all night I pick at the roof catch
as if I could spring it open.
Pippa Little is Scots and lives in Northumberland. Overwintering came out from Carcanet Press in 2012 and she is currently working on her next collection. She will be a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newcastle University from Autumn 2015.
Cold and Shallow Waters
The beach, pebbles and sharp edges,
Spray mists as sea-weed reduce sight;
The Street all sand and stone,
They walk along in silence.
A wave at ankle height
Laps along, foams around, stops
In shallow waters, such shallow waters.
Cold wind blows the shallow waters.
Every afternoon in Tankerton
A child dies, every afternoon,
Two figures circle the beach huts
And the day is a lost, sobbing toddler.
Storm clouds billow and the storm cracks
No gull's song whistles in the wind,
When I found you amongst the groynes
Near shallow waters, such shallow waters.
A body lies bleached by the sailing club
Where clothes and eyes are sodden
Archangel of cold, ice winds
Stab your face and an exposed neck;
Shake like sea campion blown, shivers
Bindweed, mourning on the Slopes.
A telephone call, distant cries,
"Was it quick?" "Who died?"
By the shallow waters, such cold waters.
In your absence love remains
as close as breath, constant
as space around your chair;
your dinner plate is waiting,
I keep it clean
just in case.
‘Nakbah,Nakbah’, the cry carries by
new wailing walls that border olive groves
where my father worked once,
now wasted olives lay by new-built roads,
Mahmoud against impenetrable stone,
settlers’ roads are laid in Gaza,
no-one hears the trees fall where asphalt lies,
no-one sees his haggard eyes or feels
his defeat when olives cease or as
silver leaves, as used up as debris piled
outside my room, two bathtubs big,
and there too he sits, abject and alone;
I stumble over the rubble of words
and all I hear is ‘Nakbah, Nakbah’
NOTE: Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinian poet used ‘the rubble of words’; See also - John Berger, Hold Everything Dear, (London,2008), pp.7-19 (Undefeated Despair, 2005)
Jeffrey Loffman, has worked as a warehouseman, postman, book-seller, store assistant, in betting shops, with wildlife and is a retired worker in further & primary education. He has been occasionally published in magazines, commended in competitions, most recently in 2013 Poetry Kit Summer Competition. Living in East Kent, a member of SAVEAS workshop in Canterbury.
I recall your body
beneath a spotlight
its smooth maple shine
on your player's face
as he drew his bow across you
I heard you lost your end pin
to some careless hands
one of your f-holes
fissured in the back of a van
string free I'm told
your bridge is now bare
your tail piece
no longer vibrates.
Thicker than Blood
You're fond of the way I wash my clothes
in the High Street. Fuck them, you say,
sleep deep and dream dirty.
You know the good and bad of life, when
the heart is a torrent, it's how you guddle
a friend from the shallows of failed love.
A shared brandy, a glass of red or
a calm cup of tea when we're close.
You know when my heart leaks,
my brow sweats, when there's a drip in my voice.
It's no one's fault. Just my own thirst for a glass
of water, to lose myself in its court of law.
We remember that water passes, the mill stops,
the dry blades of the waterwheel can still turn.
My mouth holds all the secrets we've shared.
Jean Genet Comes Clean
The piece of silk was my mother.
She left me on rue Denfert-Rochereau.
I was found crying; naked on a pillow.
As a ward of the state, I was given a number.
The suitcase was full. I took
the history and philosophy books.
After reading, I sold them. I kept
the call-cards and the condoms.
When the judge asked me why
I had stolen twelve handkerchiefs,
I told him, one was for my back pocket,
some to clean my prick; sore and black
with newsprint, the others for jism.
The shirt was my father, but I lost that too.
Kevin Reid lives in Scotland. His poetry has appeared in various online and printed journals, such as, Domestic Cherry, And Other Poems, Pushing Out the Boat, Ink Sweat and Tears, Amaryllis, The Interpreters House, The Open Mouse. He is the founding creator of the >erasure and >erasure ii projects and Wordless, a collaboration with George Szirtes published in April 2014 by Knives Forks and Spoons Press. He is editor of Nutshells and Nuggets, a webzine for short poems. His blog can be viewed http://eyeosphere.com.
there is breath
in your lungs
and warm blood
in your veins
you keep on swimming
For a corpse
may have its last
as the plasma coagulates
in its concrete limbs
And you may say
it all stops, but surely,
life is better than that
will not carry this one
off the tower block
the foam jigsaw puzzle
doesn't fit together
that it's inferior
and even if
the yellow slots awkwardly
against lime green pieces
to be forced together
in the first place
you should love it less,
you can find the snake,
but not the ladder.
Look all around you;
at your clipboard
with the metal ring
that doesn't quite
snap neatly into place
Do you discriminate
Twelve times twelve
is a hundred and forty,
the number you aim to reach
at the end of your multiplications,
and hence graduate
from primary school.
A hundred and forty
was the weight of a perfect martial artist.
Leilanie Stewart's poems have been published in dozens of print and online magazines in the UK and US. Recently her work appeared in the Best of 2013 Storm Cycle Anthology, published by Kind of a Hurricane Press in May 2014 and her debut pamphlet collection is forthcoming from Eyewear Publishing's 20/20 series in February 2015. She currently lives in London with her writer and poet husband, Joseph Robert. Her writing blog is at www.leilaniestewart.wordpress.com
Charles Haslewood Shannon, artist
Hanging pictures, he fell,
struck his head on the marble
floor, and was knocked out
for seventy-two hours.
The sun went down. Its rays
illuminated those pictures –
assembled with such care –
fell on the bearded man
who lay there, fully dressed,
heavily breathing. Too
dangerous, they thought, to move him.
He woke up, but was
never the same person,
didn’t know his best friend.
The circuits of his brain –
that fine brain – hopelessly jumbled.
Lived for some years, but this,
in fact, was where he ended.
Reading, decades on,
about that fall, I sense
the blow, the intense shock waves
travel through my cranium.
I feel my closest friend
slip through my arms and crash
on that unyielding floor.
Cutting a rose bush, stretching
for books from the highest shelf,
teetering on some ladder,
Be careful! shrieks a voice.
That’s marble! That’s cold stone!
Poem for Martha Evans
Martha, when you are a stout
old lady, as I hope you’ll be
when the century runs out,
stop the party, raise your glass,
brief pause, remember me.
I caught the millennium bug
from some malignant power
in 2000, and woke up
to cheers and fireworks, having slept
right through the magic hour.
Baby bulge of 2013
which included you,
Martha, when they drop the curtain
on me, how shall I imagine
what you may live through?
I dropped off the pier in darkness, the short May night
my cloak; I’d secreted some gold, and remembered passwords,
and soon we were sculling down the Thames toward Europe;
now I had a new name, and I’d done this before.
Christopher Marlowe’s body lay on a slab in Deptford,
soon to go under the earth, and the coroner had been fixed.
Time to leave that man behind; unlike smooth-tongued Shakespeare,
he wasn’t a man who kept away from brawls.
Life under Good Queen Bess is cheap; I’m sailing –
who knows where? To a massacre in Paris?
To conquer the world? Perhaps in a year or two I’ll drop
a note to my mother. Perhaps not. Marlowe is dead.
Merryn Williams, is the founding editor of 'The Interpreter's House' and has published several critical studies and three volumes of poetry; the latest is 'The First Wife's Tale' (Shoestring).