KNOCK…

Yourself out! Thrilling to do when nine or ten.
Inhale good old New Jersey air again & again
& again until—mind spinning—you collapsed
onto the couch or floor. Far headier than those
deadly juvenile jokes that began with a Knock

Knock—answered with a grudging Who’s there?
I tap my skull and pose that question, more now
than ever before (as I grope for the name of this
or that star I saw last night on TV). Knock your
self out, kid.  Take a deep breath.  Who’s there?

DEATH…




David Alpaugh lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where he teaches literature at California State University, East Bay and at the University of California, Berkeley Extension. His poetry appears in more than 100 journals and he has been a finalist for Poet Laureate of California. 

Late Snow

 

Words fail me.

It has been a year precisely.

We wallow in your sob, feeding on

Neglect.

 

You finally

Died last Winter.

I think the Robin came

Back too soon this year.

 

There is no other news.

I see my next punishment

Revolving somewhere ahead.

The air burns with regret.

 

Our lawns have begun to thin.

The year turns like curdled cream and

Danger lulls us forward, through the

Moon’s death dance.

 

Our house is asleep, perhaps forever.

I dread the moment when

The drained sun

Sinks to mist.

 

Late snow

Floats down

All white.

I saw it coming.


Natalie Crick, from Newcastle in the UK, has found delight in writing all of her life and first began writing when she was a very young girl. She graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature and plan to pursue an MA at Newcastle this year. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in a range of journals and magazines including The Lake, Ink Sweat and Tears, Poetry Pacific, Interpreters House and Jet Fuel Review. Her work also features or is forthcoming in a number of anthologies, including Lehigh Valley Vanguard Collections 13. This year her poem, 'Sunday School' was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.


Running Mates

I take my hair when I go jogging; it enjoys
a streaming run in ways I didn’t expect; it blows
romantically in the wind and fluffs itself
to keep my scalp warm. My head goes with it
and its curls. Control freak head can’t shout
orders at the curls and be obeyed, nor boss
my sense of balance – another running friend,
useful when underfoot gets rough.

Into the first mile and my breath starts gasping.
Head tells it to curb its fuss. This
issue puffed between them on our first outing,
three weeks ago. Childish! In twenty days
they should have it out of earshot if not put away.

Natch, I take my running clothes and
my sense of fashion. Head and I agree it matters
to look the part, so no other runners
are better dressed. That way I leave
Envy at home, stacked indoors with Must-have.

Into the park, off I start; I carry baggage of stuff, some
so heavy sweat complains, so I dump
it by the path worn for joggers in the grass
to gather back as I amble home. No one
steals it – it’s hidden where no one can.

E. A. M. Harris has been writing for some years and several of her poems and stories have appeared in print and online magazines and anthologies. She blogs at http://eamharris.com/ and tweets as E A M Harris @Eah1E.


Shelves
 
Johnny, twenty, initiated, working,
stacking his thoughts and cans of oxtail soup.
 
His uncle had a decent firm, a few years back,
a timber merchant. That could have been good.
 
(Fine footballer meanwhile, but local league.
Midfield, left-sided, dominating play.)
 
People can build a business up. Like carpenters
and roofers, hauliers, key-cutters.
 
(Private detective, footballer or spy.
An astronaut. A driver, Formula One.)
 
And part of him loves the Jenkins girl,
really can see a future, close-lived, warm
and understanding. Kids and football. Job.
Advancement, it would seem, within the firm.
 
And part of him (not just the astronaut, the star)
sees all that shifting down the narrow aisles,
the vision cramped, the world contracting back,
the firm’s shelf-sided future closing in.

Robert Nisbet is a poet from Pembrokeshire, whose one pamphlet is Merlin's Lane (Prolebooks, 2011). Hs poems have appeared in The North, Prole and The Frogmore Papers and widely in the USA.


Murmuration

We arrive from the North,
welcomed by weeping trees
and rivers of fire.
You tried to subdue us, long ago,
with words built to smooth
crude triangulations into breathy
background sighs that arc
across a supine horizon.
But, we remain unapologetic
for the force of our fervour.
She swells to greet
the painful caress
of a thousand wingtips.
Greedily, we feast on the air,
dancing a dance governed more
by mathematics than love.
A swirling ink blot swathe,
draped across the rose water sky.
Our slow hypnotic throb
belies the frenzy
of our avian chemistry.
Together we are a battle cry,
a bawdy song, a prayer;
an avalanche of feathers
locked in free fall.


Born in Wales and currently residing at the outer limits of the Northern Line, Marie-Françoise de Saint-Quirin is a poet and writer of children’s fiction. Her work has previously appeared in Reach Poetry magazine.


Changing Rooms
 
I`ve never been one for fussing over keeping 
my breasts covered up.
 
I just don`t have the 'whatever it is you need to have'
to pay heed to it. 
 
Yet, I did expect that after surgery, I would get a bit 
'Don`t drop the towel!'
 
But a lifetime of habit, or lack thereof, and it seems 
I will need to train myself to
 
'Please, use the changing rooms provided". 
Either that, or learn the knack of 'mindful' undressing.
 
I`ll need practice coordinating, which will be tricky 
considering the undiagnosed dyspraxic something
 
I have going on, which is just one other thing,
I am living with that they haven't found a cure for, yet. 


Jac Shortland is a Cork woman. She has been published with Hungry Hill, Into the Void, Dream Catcher, The Cannon's Mouth, The Poetry Porch, Causeway Cabhsair, Silhouette, These Fragile Lilacs, Antiphon and shortlisted for Creative Writing Ink. Her poems reflect the mind of a woman, who simply hasn't made her mind up about any of life`s mysteries and most likely never will.  

30
 
They are twenty nine.
Some with children of their own.
Some having travelled;
seen and done.
Some never left town.
Never will.
 
I see their names
in a list
I keep by a book
tied with red ribbon.
 
Her page said
she had two sisters
and a baby brother.
She liked to write stories.
Was embarrassed by the burn
on her right hand - it had left a scar.
Wanted to be a hairdresser
when she grew up
 
but she was a Lenten lily.
A name in a register
 
crossed out.

Shadwell is a school teacher who lives in Dunstable. His poems have most recently appeared in Butcher’s Dog, Prole and Picaroon Poetry. He also sometimes appears in pubs, clubs and coffee shops performing them.

Siren 

The girl I took a shine to in The Starlight Inn
washed up at my front door a week after our Norfolk trip,
asked if she could stay the night and in the morning 
I found pebbles on all the sills and the lintel:
plum skimmers, checked black and whites,
fat freckled bird’s egg blues,
tortoiseshells, red tongues.
She sang soprano in the shower,
tasted salty beneath the carragheen of dripping hair - 
palm-print starfish crowding condensing steam -
stayed a fortnight until I came home to a shipwrecked flat,
laptop and silver cufflinks gone, pebbles scattered,
pink acrylic scales clogging the sink.

I should have guessed from that last kiss 
like a retreating tide.

CW, CW, MW



Snow like a scrape of chalk
on his grave stone.
You talk to it out loud:
frozen ground, snow,
the ashy granite. It took us

an hour of driving through
the cemetery to find it,
I inherited your sense of direction.

He died the year I was born,
I have no memories of him.
I stand, snow in my shoes,
20 years younger than he was
when he died, and you
stand, 20 years older than he was,
and I wonder

what would be worse,
to outlive you and stand 
over your grave
or to die first and know 

you felt absence on both sides,

before you 
and after.

 Mathew's  first book of poetry titled Tiny Alms will be published in March by Permanent Sleep Press. His work has appeared in Easy Village, Euphony, Up The River, The Magnolia Review and other publications.



Sylvia
 
On Nauset Beach searching for Sylvia
with her high words, right and perfect
archaic and pure like her soul
 
She’s not in the waves
fighting them as usual
rebellious, headstrong against the tide
 
Rather than finding her rhythm
going along with the flow
like the gulls above and the seals below
 
Perhaps she didn’t come here
today. She remained behind
to finish her poem
 
But no, I see her in her sand chair lying still
sleeping perhaps behind her sunglasses
open book of poems across her chest.
 
 
89
 
How did my mother get to be 89? Seriously. How?
One minute we’re stopping off at the Penny Candy Store
because we’ve been good in church
the next minute she’s shuffling along
like a wounded bird holding onto me.
 
One minute we’re passing around turkey,
mashed potatoes and gravy
at her sister’s on Thanksgiving
the next minute she’s crying because my brother
is no longer with us
he’s in heaven certainly with Alice and John,
Jeannie and Bobby, Grace and Fred, and Daddy.
 
One minute we’re all huddled around the TV together
marveling at the moon landing
the next minute she’s telling me for the hundredth time
that if she wins the lottery she’s moving back
to the Cape. Of course
she doesn’t play the lottery
but that only matters in the real world.
 
 
Tides
 
So Dad didn’t die when he was only 36
Dr. Zullo gave him an experimental drug
that rolled the stomach cancer back out to sea
 
And Mom didn’t marry that jackass pencil salesman
with his shotguns and beehives
and his big stupid Lincoln Town Car
 
She and Dad came around a lot and spoiled
the grandchildren taking them to the movies and ball games
and out fishing like our grandparents spoiled us
 
And Dad was there when we needed him for advice
and to diagnose the problems with our cars
simply by cocking his head and listening
 
Michael Estabrook is retired. No more useless meetings under florescent lights in stuffy windowless rooms, able instead to focus on making better poems when he’s not, of course, endeavoring to satisfy his wife’s legendary Honey-Do List. His latest collection of poems is Bouncy House, edited by Larry Fagin (Green Zone Editions, 2016).