WHEN IS A TRUCK NOT A TRUCK
parked in the back field of the highway house
you insist that the truck has been converted to a wagon
you have trouble finding it in the overgrown weeds
you show her that the front end and engine have been removed
and replaced with a hitch but you left the seat
so people helping with the hay have a place to sit
down a rough narrow paved road lined with old cottages
hers is the second on the left after the right hand hairpin
greeting you warmly she tells you that you must meet her friend
father down the road at the apex of a shallow right turn
the next turn in the road is a nearly identical cottage
a thin woman with her hair pulled back
and a sprinkle of freckles across her cheeks
invites you in as you converse you find each other
saying the same thing at the same time
you remark that it is scary how you think alike
you lay upon your cot and think of her later
has been made to run again
with the installation of
a powerful new engine
when you try to ride it
it rears up like a prancing horse
and you fall off the back
on your bum in the gravel driveway
I rode the metro through the graves
so I could lay down violets at twilight,
the kind that bore into brick like ivy,
the kind my mother plucked for my father,
before the shutters closed and the curtains drawn,
on our shambled, flickering house, now an empty home.
I lay them down so I can dream by your tombstone,
and let my mind sit and rest a while,
prop its feet up by the brick fireplace that smokes ivy,
for I have been carrying the flowers like a cross
ever since the day you died, and again,
ever since the day you woke.
I do not see you in my dreams
nor when I lay awake at night,
collecting my thoughts like cool water,
but I will let you drink if you want, if you thirst,
the silver marrow of my mind of violets.
"The Dance of the Hive"
Its an exodus of experience,
a song on a song,
flakes of gold on gold light,
beats that thunder like
shards of dreams, shattered,
tongue roaming over numb holes,
taste buds aching for a sip
of something sweeter, like
stolen honey that drips
from the sun –black
bear, do you dance
like me, to the beat
of the stone drums and
the drone of steel bees?
Red dust billows and rises and sets
like the aching roar of the lion-sun
as it settles into weary sleep,
the bones of the mountain rumbling
deep beneath purple stones and
shadows rise from rest in
sheltered crevices and resonant caves
to tiptoe through stalactites to
stalk through the gold wheat fields
at sunset and dance around fires.
The song of wolves and jackals
and men spin like webs to
the moon, who, beautiful and vain
with a face of pallid porcelain,
refuses to hear their desperate pleas
and uses stars to cloud her ears.
Reaffirmed that where I am now has more solid walls.
A good postal team at the
19040 post office in
Hatboro, Pennsylvania, so-named
for the hats they made
in the American revolution
thousands with their
bloody deaths where we
free men and women
tread over the grounds
where their blood flowed
like spilt wine
they freed us
from the tyranny of
the British, yet we
still drink their spritely teas
from fine Royal Albert
Bone China, pinkies lifted
How quickly we forgive
Danielle of the page boy
shining black hair I have
never seen at the post office
her short sleeved blue blouse
reveals a pair of jangling
dog tags upon her breast
A loved one, I am certain,
has died in one of our wars
most likely in the Afghan or Iraq
where we send our black men
to perish instead of cherishing
these descendents of our
peculiar institution and
helping them become
architects or wealthy
Danielle tells me
with a shy smile
teeth white as a
that he is a victim
of another one of
America’s peculiar atrocities.
Her black brother was
by a sniper’s fire
but here in Philadelphia
in what we call a
black turning on black,
“The worst day in my
mother’s life,” she smiles
her eyes brimming
like a river overflowing
Thirty-five. His whole life
before him. His sister’s dog tags
a Hail Mary full of
chimes on the old
clock tower tolling
lest we forget
lest we forget.
NOR BREAK FOR REVERSALS
The air parts with
the call of flying geese,
a hysteria of syncopated oompahs
wing power that breaks for no reversals along the way
body after body
Where to? Which pond?
There to feel cool water
over eye and neck bent double
then snap for fish clean.
A MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE AT THE HARDWARE STORE
In the hardware store, the things I bought were put
into a plastic bag: my cans of spray paint, my ball of twine,
and some peculiar wire I found on a crowded shelf.
The little plastic bag which held my things
swayed daintily from my arm, a plastic womb,
which assumed the shape of the things inside,
rustling against my coat.
I thought I was going to leave
but then I saw the dowels,
wooden dowels. I hardly know what dowels do.
I thought perhaps something to do with
hanging curtains, though probably not.
There was a field of them,
a field of dowels,
like sticks flowing in a bin, each one holding its own,
silent, erect, tender in their attentiveness.
Waiting to be acknowledged.
I wanted desperately to know how to acknowledge
a dowel or even an awl, which is another
hardware store word that has
no meaning to me, so I removed my glove
and caressed the dowel the best I knew how.
The thin round wood made me remember
Tapping on pecan shells long ago.
They were 29 cents apiece,
so I counted out five. Five round dowels with no use
I went back to the man to ring them up.
Ruth Z. Deming has had her poetry published in literary journals including Metazen, Mad Swirl, River Poets and Eunoia Review. A psychotherapist and mental health advocate, she runs New Directions Support Group for people and families affected by depression and bipolar disorder. She lives in Willow Grove, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia.
It was a night
So firmly in the present
Sleeve dipped in beer
To give me my idea
And no more than a bra underneath
The dressing gown
Of the waitress
And he said
‘I’d never be so rude as to
And he wrestled
With the bears
While soaking his sleeve
And his wife has got a haircut
What did those years mean
More than his childhood
A lot of it went over his head
Was he –
Was he what?
And the children too
How many years
And was that the point?
The drift had been long lost
And he didn’t
A night’s stars and lust
Before the interest went bust
A rich in toffee cake
Was put down on him
On the bar
And the waitress leaned far
To bring him to
What was her present
And his end
If only he knew which end
And sucking toffee
From her hair
She fell asleep
‘Let’s do the funeral
While she’s napping’
It has been a long day
Marriage is legal religion
And licks arse like an animal
He spoke again
He was drunk
And drunk on nowt
But a drink
That had been drunk
So fill me up, the glass sung
For pity’s sake.
A title shouldn’t give away what the poem is about
I was orphaned
Picked by shelter
To a crumbling wreck
I did not wreck it
Nursed by music
Bought to death by
Love need filled
Could be a
Picture on the wall
Crumbling when the hurricane comes
Used like money
And sometimes faked
That square peg
In the triangular hole
In your hand
Fingers toast in pockets
The weight of a machine
A piano sliding
Is that what we leave it to
And then when they run out of supply
Do you expect a loan
Your discover your own immortality
It comes to nothing at all
You are a marked grave
In a field of thousands
You are not invincible
Keep pulling your weight
You need to
Until you get through
So it won’t be just
One of those days
Make it a death day
Bury your old self and make it
The day when you got uncomfortable.
Katie Lewington is currently studying Maths and English at college. She spends the rest of her time searching for a job although she does often tend to be distracted by the blank page and all of the ideas in her head clamouring to get out onto it. She lives in Hertfordshire. She has previously been published in online magazine/journal After the pause.
His tunic is a tailored white
His eyes a mouthwash blue
His tray of tricks of fine pin-pricks
His sharpened steel and you
Some herd hens or tend to sheep
Some weave mountain wool
Many sleep and love to dream
But he has teeth to pull
His waiting room wallpaper
His carpet’s rose and briar
His telephone is plastic black
His heat electric fire
His nurse is trained to hand to him
Immediately he asks
She notes in numbers mumbled clear
The second of her tasks
When low he draws his lantern bright
And snaps his rubber glove
She stands a little closer to
You feel the gentle shove
He pins a poison to the gum
That’s deadly cold within
Your cheek and lip will soon be numb
His pliers will soon go in
He grips and seizes near the root
He squeezes firm and snaps
Your mouth fills up with bright red blood
She curtsies, smiles and claps
Hay Machine (e)
Budapest, March 2013
A woman sifts through the bin in the street
outside the restaurant of our five-star hotel.
She sucks her lips over toothless gums
while we breakfast on coffee and pastries.
Muffled in layers of coats and scarves,
plump as a Matryoshka, a woman hauls
a shopping trolley full of coal onto the bus.
By the top of the funicular railway,
a man with a moustache like an unkempt creeper
corners us on the terrace that overlooks the grey Danube.
He pulls a tattered card from the pocket of his long black coat:
Official Tour Guide. ‘It is impossible to find your way
without a guide,’ he shouts as we retreat. ‘Impossible!’
Around the statues, in streets that once rumbled
beneath the tracks of Soviet tanks, signs compete
for tourists’ Forints: Rolex, Armani, M&S, McDonalds.
A Hungarian friend back home suggests
budget restaurants. We forget to bring
the printed email, but remember ‘Café Gerbeau’.
Liveried waiters serve us ice cream sundaes
in a chandeliered room, heavy with drapery.
The bill is tens of thousands, but so is everything
in Forints. Back at the hotel, the email says,
‘Don’t eat at Gerbeau; just look in the window.’
The President of Poland visits Hungary
Buda Castle, March 2013
Guards in sentry boxes, rigid as tin soldiers,
flank the entrance to the President’s palace.
Hobnail boots stamp wrinkles flat in the ribbon
of red taped to the cobblestones,
smooth the path for the President of Hungary
to greet the visiting dignitary .
A brass band strikes. Hussars
on horseback and soldiers
on foot reflect in the tuba’s mouth,
parade around the square and out.
We drink Hungarian Rosé in a deserted café.
Our waiter paces from kitchen to bar,
between the empty tables, cherishes
the chance to recharge our glasses.
‘Not usually this quiet,’ he says in halting English.
His moustache, a down-turned horseshoe,
frames his frowning mouth.
‘They have closed the roads.’
Up and down the waiter marches,
up and down, straightening cutlery,
huffing and muttering, awaiting the end
of the pomp and circumstance.
Outside, policemen idle in the front seats
of a convoy of parked Audis,
blue lights flashing to no passersby.
Maria C McCarthy is the author of a poetry collection, strange fruits, and a short story collection, As Long as it Takes (both published by Cultured Llama). She writes in a shed at the end of her garden in a village in north Kent.
When Beeching stole
Glen Ogle’s lines and tracks
beside Loch Earn
he could not shift the viaducts,
nor stop the leaching drips
amossed from bits of bridge. He left
behind the pictures framed
by spikes of unburst sloes,
the fissured countenance of hills,
of fallen rocks. He could not halt
that lucent primrose prickle up
through the tiny cracks.
First night away
All night creaks of him.Half-dreams hear
strange turnarounds of sighs. Calls
crack wide this sored air as breaths
draft under doors and curtains stir. Toast
scratches deep in pillow smells. We
tense, alert and ready to pace
till darkedout eyesprint cold
at his empty bed next door.
A translucent riddle
Some days sunlight slants to blind you
Cherry trees weave coracles
To launch into the limitless lift, all out of clouds.
Your feet will feel their way, will find your way
On to that kindness of crystal path, patterned far ahead.
What manner of magic maps your road?
Beth McDonough first trained in Silversmithing at Glasgow School of Art and continues to work across disciplines. Currently Writer in Residence at Dundee Contemporary Arts, she finds poems whilst foraging, swimming outdoors and riddling with Anglos-Saxons. She often writes of a maternal experience of disability, and her poetry may be read in Gutter, Poetry Bus, Under the Radar and other places. Her reviews are published in DURA.
If The Heavens Were Fair
It’s nearly time for your medication.
I’m drinking my seventh cup of tea
and thinking how much better you are
since the start of the new regime.
That sounds like you’re sick,
or a political beast, not merely slow
and easily distracted; the worst
combination of tortoise and hare.
If the heavens were fair
your sister wouldn’t grasp
the lion’s share of love and loom bands
you’re teaching her to manipulate.
You should be less free
with your expertise.
But today’s sky is huge and blue to bursting,
you’re not such a freak
with your hair cut short;
the end of year report opines
you’re beginning to recognise
the difference between truth and fiction.
So when that wood pigeon coos
you are doomed, you are doomed,
we’ll sing whooooodo you think you’re kidding?
I used to think I
was my own worst enemy
and so did many
of my friends.
But I wanted to be sure.
So I kept a diary:
a record of faces and names ,
fluctuations in pulse,
frequency of swearing
and kicking the cat.
You get the picture.
Turns out I was wrong.
My worst enemy
is Jeremy Kyle.
I only made 4th place.
I grabbed 3rd
on the death
of Jeremy Beadle
but I’d have to do something
Ray Miller likes Jeremy Corbyn.
This grey morning smells
of oranges and wet paper.
Bigging up the dawn chorus
forgotten tunes roost
in unborn market stalls
while damp ghosts shuffle.
Too early for coffee it is
too late to find a bar
for the last revellers.
They are their own agendas.
Immense in droplet dimensions
devised wholly for their own needs
By the time you read this I will be miles away.
Not miles. That doesn’t do justice.
I will be an immensity away. Let me explain.
Throughout your lives I was there for you
but never knew you ,could never know you.
I was long gone before any of you were born
but I reflected often, while you,clever things,
found ways to exploit me.
Found ways to harness my exhaust.
Time in a bottle is a neat trick
but don’t show me the snapshots.
Your entire being is a done deal.
Your maudlin histories are alien to me.
I am ahead of the curve.
Riding the wave and it matters
little to me what lies ahead.
The journey is it’s own reward.
Luckily for you there is no end in sight.
The older I get the more
people wind up
dead in my inbox.
No big loss
sez one txt but
buying the whole
I hope cold
cyber ripples here
make antipodean waves
Tony Noon lives in Mexborough , South Yorkshire. Poems have appeared in local and national press , and many anthologies. Magazine credits include Acumen and Envoi . A former Bridport Prize winner , Tony's work can also be seen on popular poetry websites such as The Blue Hour , The Camel Saloon and Hinterland.
TO A WOMAN WITH STARS TATOOED ON HER BREAST
What strange constellation
Or comet in the sky
Inspired these inky scars
Where a babe turns to cry
What great meteorite
What sign from outer space
Caused you to mark yourself
In such a sacred place
With gaudy trail of stars
Of uncertain meaning
Was this decoration
The result of dreaming
About faraway lights
And mysteries unknown
A cry for attention
Fear of being alone
Or was it just a whim
On a grim winter day
Yearning for the needle
That drives all pain away.
Astride her horse she glows with confidence
Coal black curled hair by a hard hat concealed
Gloved hands gripping reins, tight control revealed
Spurred boots adding to her magnificence
She rides to hounds jumping each hedge and fence
Galloping through forest and muddy field
Cheeks flushed with excitement her both eyes peeled
For any hazard in undergrowth dense
The master's horn squeals its bloodthirsty cry
Hardening her expression in response
She urges her mount on with crop and steel
All thoughts of safety gone as hounds rush by
They have the scent but death is her fragrance
For today is the hunter's turn to die.
TONIGHT IN BLOOMSBURY
These trees are higher
Than suburban trees
They witnessed the Blitz
Some sustained damage
Breaking the landing
Of bailed out airmen
Falling from angry clouds
Tonight they sway gently
Against the August sky
These pavements are warmer
Than suburban pavements
They have been relayed so often
Since enemy bombs fell
Smashing stone to dust
Later came other explosions
Accidental and deliberate
Tonight they rest firmly
Tickled by tourist feet
These people are louder
Than suburban people
They put aside their books
Donned helmets and gasmasks
Dug bodies from the rubble
Extinguished deadly flames
Tonight in Bloomsbury
Their spirits surround us
In the late summer heat.
David Subacchi lives in Wales (UK). He was born in the medieval walled town of Aberystwyth of Italian roots. He writes in English, Welsh and Italian.
Cestrian Press has published two collections of his poems. ‘First Cut’ (2012) and ‘Hiding in Shadows’ (2014) and David has been widely published internationally.
Tinker Bell, in a Drawer
The little silhouette gathers pace
In a starless musk of ink and Sellotape,
Her flutters are lost in this abyss
Way up in the blackened sun.
A keyhole is her portcullis
Barring her from the chamber of night.
The keyhole is her port hole
In which she gathers information on the outside:
A shoe left without a foot to comfort it,
A tennis racquet without a wrist to give it life,
A French door open which she gulps the night as one,
A vanishing, a drowning enveloped into broken glass stars.
She fights the queasiness of a mist of murk rolling in
To the moth eaten flood banks of oaken walls,
She prays for her sad lovers bones
Gouged with a hook, she prays
Together with all of our days
And streets and defeats and pilgrims hunched,
She prays that this Babylon tar
Will not dowse the shadowed flame,
A black rose in a tired wilt,
There are no strangers in the dark.
My voice is as thin
As a wafer, the
A voice box untrained
For the weariness
Of the jabbering
Players who holler
With no regard for
My ears or spirit.
Oh, let me not shout.
In the Still of the Crumbling Night
In the still of the crumbling night I creep
About pitch streets, about a flower's head,
Oh sigh to me nothing so I can sleep.
One more word and I'll crumple in a heap,
Comfort me with nothing more to be said,
In the still of the crumbling night I creep.
Disappearing with the melting snow's leap,
My limbs are stewed fish bones tied up with thread,
Oh sigh to me nothing so I can sleep.
Standing in the airing cupboard I weep,
Longing for a sigh I scratch until red,
In the still of the crumbling night I creep.
And what my hauntings sew so shall I reap,
All the houses in a row drawn with lead,
Oh sigh to me nothing so I can sleep.
Coated in the amber of a lamp's peep,
Chill street portraits, plain as death, I behead
In the still of the crumbling night I creep,
Oh sigh to me nothing so I can sleep.
Grant Tarbard is the editor of The Screech Owl and co-founder of Resurgant Press. His first collection Yellow Wolf is out now from WK Press.
Footsteps behind her. Two miles home in the blackout, pinhole of light,
hooded torch. Blind trams and windows. Her with a hatpin
at the ready. The walk downhill. From dark closes, a cloister of shadows
and breezes dissembling on the stairs. She knows he’s there
by the clip of his boots and the tarry smell of Senior Service. What
an eejit. Furtive into a close, torch off, and he tramps on by,
doesn’t know she has him in her sights. Footsteps behind him.
“Hey, stupid appearance.” He’s there like a sick calf, struck dumb.
And he only wanted to see her safe, so he did, in the long dark
of a two mile walk. Her with the wicked hatpin, pokes it back
into her beret.
Sixty years on and she’s lost without him,
in the long dark and the blackout and the walk downhill.
*close – alleyway or ginnel.
As You Sing.
You play your silver flute and
each small light thins, slips through dark
on sequinned points, tiptoes round you
and you seem fainter,
almost transparent - as water,
spectral as frozen glass.
When you play the bodhran
the circlet of your wrist,
boned like cherrystones,
describes the air
in rings of ivory and rosewood
drumming the tight pith of skin.
As you sing, a voice
for lullabies, the warp and weft
of hill and quiet moss, shadow glimpsed,
part blessing and part sorrow
stilled in your throat,
and your heart on a lonely road.
Agus och, och Éire 'lig is ó
Éire londubh is ó
And the Quiet Land o' Erin
All the Pretty Children
One million of you there at the beginning,
calling, crying, whispering. I never heard.
I didn’t know to listen then, swaddled
in my infancy. By puberty, hushed away,
rocked in seashells, snug on the lullaby breeze,
only three hundred thousand left still bedded
in ovarian cots. Then, lathered and prinked
by the larking of hormones, three or four hundred
of you gathered, orderly now, for the monthly harvest,
ripened, rosy pink, small fry ready for the off,
into the dark red darkness, shipwrecked on bloodstained
seas. All the pretty children never shawled or shimmied,
never a sleepless night or wakeful day, never a sock
with a toe peeped through, never a curl cut and stored
in a locket, never a milk tooth to swap for a coin.
Shushed and hush-a-byed, all the pretty children.
Lesley Quayle is a Scottish/Yorkshire poet, author and folk/blues singer currently living in Dorset.
THE WISHING SEASON
Barry Yeoman was educated at Bowling Green State Univ., The Univ. of Cincinnati, and The McGregor School of Antioch Univ., in creative writing, world classics, and the humanities. He is originally from Springfield, Ohio and currently lives in London, Ohio. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming in Red Booth Review, Futures Trading, Danse Macabre, Harbinger Asylum, Red Fez, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Crack the Spine, Burningword Literary Journal, Two Hawks Quarterly, Wilderness House Literary Review, Soundings Review and The Rusty Nail, , among others. You can read more of his published work at www.redfez.net/member/1168/bookshelf
Shooting photons in the Canaries
They can get lost on the way, you know, violating inequality.
We need a security guarantee.
Are Alice and Bob truly influencing each other?
If local realism was to be believed
he would likely be enamoured with the flutter of every photon set in stone.
Hardcore diamonds containing potential bugs patched the universe,
but so ingrained into our daily thinking is a property called spin
that every test they did was toast, leaving a gap,
a hypothetical pair conventionally known as
rival teams at the University.
The ideal person is working blind
Hunting down spectra instead of making predictions
Sniffing out life that might resemble the vegetation
The first evocative whiffs written in starlight
All the scents, perfumes and poisons generating a framework
A backbone of six or fewer atoms
So wild and weird were these chemical footprints
That those modeling the atmospheres
Named their library of spectra
The garden of earthly delights
My mother made herself so I did the same, an incredible thrill ride, seven minutes of terror. I spin like a molecular turbine surrounded by runnier water, exploding balloons in a sandbox, the testicles of a giant mouse lemur. We are running out of unknown territory, ghostly wisps strewn across three-dimensional heart-like organs. How to stitch all that information together? Slipping syntax is mining medical literature; our best, if slim, chance. The voice of patients in the wild smelled like a pentaquark – emotional training has reduced violent crime, agitation and hostility. The cushions are key, sobering Earthly pits barking up the right tree. Their bodies are plastic, they scour the sky as the object fades its own face in the mirror. It’s not just about pretty pictures. We have to combat medical conditions, whether there is a bar across it more than a decade wide; everything’s mined.
Jo Waterworth lives in Glastonbury, UK, where she has been writing for many years. She has been published in a number of print and online magazines and had a pamphlet produced in 2013, My Father Speaks In Poetry Too by Poetry Space (Bristol). She is currently compiling her first collection, and blogs at https://jowaterworthwriter.