In a Frozen Place.

 

Winter passed cheerlessly.

Each hour a stone

that weighted their backs.

Each day the snow and hail

raked their cheeks.

They withdrew.

Sliding deep into their veins.

Curling into their hearts.

Heads heavy with the heft of darkness

Caused their eyes to close

And they clung to the red warmth

inside their mouths.

It was a time of attrition.

As nature attempted to scour

all signs of life from the face of the earth.

To splinter it into crystals

That whirled in the winds howling.

The people grew spines of ice.

Drew the blood up from their feet

Even as they purpled with cold.

They worked and slept.

Huddled like field mice

around the precious flame and in the spring

when the ice began to crack

and a little blue smeared the sky.

They raised their faces

And knew that they had won.

                                                  



Miki Byrne is the author of ‘Nice-bits and Hissy-fits’ a large collection of poetry. She has won prizes for her work and judged poetry competitions. She has read and performed her poetry on both TV and Radio. She reads at many Literary Festivals and open mics and her work hasappeared in over twenty-five respected poetry magazines. Miki has also run poetry workshops. She writes short stories and proof reads a magazine. Miki is disabled and is the disabled tenant member of the board of a large housing society. She is also a member of Arthritis Care’s People Bank. She has a BA Hons in 3Dimensional design and a PGCE also a Diploma in Creative Writing. She lives with her partner in Gloucester. Miki writes something every day.


 Temple at St George

 

I hate this place of neon strips and marble;   

a vulgar slash across a night that rustles

with baffled  moths; you rake them from your long

wet hair, and smack them from your naked legs.

Fidgeting, you might spit a surly Sorry

into the grass.  Or kick my other shin,

 shrilly beseeching chastisement that won’t come.

A virgin Queen of Brats; all sore with swelling

maybes and choices.  Yet if, after years,

I see you one more time, perhaps I’ll find

you laughing at the thought of all that you

never became, and living one fine life.

And over tea at your place, you might show me

the lithographs of moths your father left.

 

 

Skeleton of an Adult Human Female, Horniman Museum

 

She’s more-or-less your height; I clothe these bones

in your remembered flesh; your crinkled hair;

 your crooked smile, your broken spectacles.

You are the archetype.  Your shadow falls

across old novels; anatomical

diagrams; Stories of the Female Saints.

And Neolithic Woman treks through France

In tattered skins, and broken spectacles.

I dreamed that girl who died in Mexico

was you, and all that stifling night I cried

for every effort that I never made.

I’ll search these dreary shorelines for your footprints  

although you’ve changed your names, thrown out that dress

and probably forgotten who we were.

 

 

 

Fragments

 

I cannot draw your face from memory.

I glimpse an eye, perhaps, through shifting smoke.

The outline of your cheek, by dancing gleams

of tiny candles set in glass.  The days

of our one summer lie in scattered fragments

that crumble into smaller particles.

A gallery; a park; the coloured tiles

of Piccadilly, where we kissed, just once.

I gave away that book with all your notes,

and all the urchins cheered as Guy Fawkes burned

in that old armchair, where I watched you sleep.

I hardly ever dream, now, of your hand

holding my shoulder as you leaned in close

to whisper verses that I couldn’t hear.

                                                 

 

Paul Carney is a visually impaired comic artist, natural history illustrator and writer, living in South London.  He spent some years in the West Country, playing guitar (badly) and keyboards (worse) in an extremely dodgy rock band, whilst fighting the forces of Evil.  His illustrations can be found in "The Beekeepers' Bible" and the webcomic "My Muse and Me", but he is not yet published as a writer.  He has been studying various courses in Creative Writing and is, as we speak, girding his loins to apply to study for a Masters' Degree in the subject.

 00:48


Let us lie together,
you and I
and listen to the Shipping Forecast.
The lows in Lundy,
cannot disturb our joy.
It's falling in Fisher,
but I won't need to say I love you,
and you won't need to run your finger
across my lips.
While gales gust in German Bight,
we are at peace
and though waves crash in Cromarty,
you are fair
and everything is...
good.



Neon Dancefloor

The old man's blood creates a dancefloor
 
for the light from the MacDonald's door.
He's been whistling Disney tunes again,
without consent.
You'd think they'd spray wet kisses
across his sparse whiskered face
for propagating their homogeneity.
Someone should do something.
I'd help him if I were able,
but I'm on a bus
and I'm already late
and there's a fine for pulling the emergency handle
and all these people would be angry.
I'll write a letter when I get home-
if dinner's not on the table
and there's nothing on TV.


The Ineffectual Prince

Once upon a time,
there was a prince.
He was not a wealthy prince,
nor a famous prince.
Not a particularly handsome prince,
nor a heroic prince.
One day, he did espy a princess
of singular beauty,
and wit,
and charm.
Being of little fortune, fame, looks and bravery,
the prince was unable to approach the princess.
Fearing rejection,
in the way a greater man might fear an ogre.
So, day and night,
believing himself to be more capable with words,
he sat in his tower,
composing a poem
of singular beauty,
and wit,
and charm.
He illuminated the manuscript,
in the rarest of inks,
working into the night,
until his head grew heavy,
and his eyes grew dry.
Finally, the manuscript was complete,
and, proud of his work,
he showed it to friends,
who, complimentary of his work,
told him to show it to the princess.
"But," he said to them, "I'm not ready."
"And," he said to himself, "how do I know you're only being complimentary because you're friends?"
And so,
fearing rejection in the same way a brave knight might fear a dragon.
he locked the manuscript in a chest,
which he placed beneath the throne,
on which he grew old, listening to sad songs.

                                                           


 

Chris Dabnor is a writer and part time literature student, currently living in Cannock, in the United Kingdom, where he works as a software support analyst. His previous short stories have been featured in such magazines as Astonishing Adventures, Twisted Tongue and White Chimney, and cover a range of subjects between Victorian time travelling dinosaurs, film noir ghosts and the psychopathically insecure. He is currently working on his second novel. Any hint of sombre fatalism in his stories is most likely attributed to his being an avid Wolverhampton Wanderers fan.  His website can be found atwww.dabnorfish.co.uk



Free of Manacles

 

Free of manacles:

the electric river that knows not how to flow;

the black box that drains memory

in the dance of leeches suckling at fingertips;

the eye-needles in ballerina pose

spinning sinister dances onto your vision;

the uniform tap-dance of humanity

interfacing with technology

in a jaded tryst corpulent with familiarity.

 

Delete, delete, simplify, simplify:

reduce the simmering wreck to pure carbon breaths,

jettison the twisted peripherals

falsely expected of existence;

we shall find happiness under brighter suns.


 

 

Sunshine Bed

 

If you have brought sunshine with you,

leave it at the foot of the bed;

in fact, tuck it undercover,

so sleep can see its radiance.

 

The fields of green, the skies of blue,

please place them all under my head:

on them my dreams will soon hover,

I will trip on their soft cadence.

 

I surrender while passing through

the landscape I long to retread;

in here, the mind can discover

valleys of eternal patience.

 

Although I leave the day behind

there is no darkness of the mind.

 

 

 

I Wanna Be A Grown Up

 

Dear Winter,

I am writing to you

to apply for the position of icicle.

 

I realise there are already

many under your employment,

but figure that one more icicle

will not ruin the season.

 

I am tall and reasonably thin,

and can hang like a prosaic Egyptian statue,

arms and shoulders folded in,

legs crossed at the ankles;

if need be, I can lose weight

to be wiredrawn, and sprawling at over six feet,

I think I would be an excellent addition to your team.

 

At times, I can be cold and pointed in character,

and I’m sure if I concentrated, these traits

will transfer over to my physical demeanour.

 

One thing: once you are finished

with your annual cycle, could you see

that I am collected in some kind of receptacle

as I melt, and stored away until required the next year?

  

                                                                                                                                                  



Born at the tail end of the seventies in Northern Ireland, Colin Dardis is a poet, artist, and sometimes musician. He edits Speech Therapy, an online zine focusing on poetry from Ireland and beyond. His first collection, 'left of soul' is available via lulu.com.

Colin’s work has been previously published in 34th Parallel, Fire, Stimulus Respond, Fuselit, Decanto, Revival, Blazevox, Gutter Eloquence and elsewhere.

His poem 'Perhaps', won the EditRed.Com 2006 Writer’s Choice Award for Poetry.



Insect Song No.36


Frenzied and furious flexes the daybreak,

Engine after engine temper into the light,

Your carriage damp and riddled, a held breath looms as you attempt to pass,

The ticket master hollers on the slippery platform like a conquering magistrate,

On the seats are the wailing techniques of children,

The ashen grin of the teenage mother with carefully painted nails,

The whistle cuts up all that can be won,

The bawdy vocals between those going home and those just starting,

Bodies mount like wreckage loot, dew breathes on pockets of flesh,

Cases and gadgets hold heavy heads, jumping gasps from the horn,

Bright judging eyes, scattered breakfasts, warm stenches,

A mass of concrete ahead, silent and hungrily waiting,

Clumsy snorts of businessmen, sniffing the seedy flotsam, muffled delays charge out,

The squeal and hiss of breaks, the chit-chat snores,

Tics, grunts, wheezes of whispers, sharp screams and enveloping yawns,

All this in all days.

 

 

                                                                          

 


R.M. Francis is a poet living in Leeds. He grew up in Stourbridge in The Black Country and Studied English Literature at Portsmouth University. He is 27, works in Banking and doesn't like it. He plays music with a group called A Free Soul Poetic, enjoys well made suits, alcohol and tobacco. His work expresses urban dystopia, modern folk tales and the swamps of the mundane. He is inspired by Whitman, Rimbaud, TS Eliot and Blake. He has had work published in Inclement, Fire, United Press, Forward Press, Decanto and Burning Houses

Shakespeare on Zimbabwe Elections 2008

 

Two political parties, both unlike in dignity,

In fair Zimbabwe, where we lay our scene,

From differing political ideologies, break into new elections,

Where civilians’ blood makes militants’ hands unclean

From forth the fatal manifestos of these two political parties

A nation of brutalised people cast their vote

Whole villages cruelly burnt down

Do with their pens cast their votes

The fearful campaign of their power hungry leaders

And the continuance bickering of the politicians,

Which but the casting of their vote would not remove,

Is now the two year traffic of the Government of National Unity.

 

 

                                                   

 

Hasani Hasani is  a Zimbabwean currently living in London, United Kingdom. He fled Zimbabwe after his political activities with the opposition MDC T party in which he is an active member. Hasani used to recite his poetry at rallies and this made hima target by the supporters of the ZANU PF party headed by the dictator Robert Mugabe. He was arrested several times for his political persuasion and detained by the partisan police. The following poems are some of the poems He used to recite at their meetings and rallies in their quest to liberate Zimbabwe from pseudo-democrats in ZANU PF.

Leaves in December


 
Leaves, a few stragglers in
December, just before Christmas,
some nailed down crabby
to ground frost,
some crackled by the bite
of nasty wind tones.
 
Some saved from the matchstick
that failed to light.
Some saved from the rake
by a forgetful gardener.
 
For these few freedom dancers
left to struggle with the bitterness:
wind dancers
wind dancers
move your frigid
bodies shaking like icicles 
hovering but a jiffy in sky,
kind of sympathetic to the seasons,
reluctant to permanently go,
rustic, not much time more to play.


 

 
Hookers on Archer Avenue


 
Late evening, early morning,
I search the night for whores,
young, bloody with desire.
Night streets are silent streets
except for hookers and their Johns.
One wants the dart of groins
the other green eyes in dollar
sacred treasures-
snatch the wallet, a consecrated craft.
Both hit the streets quickly
satisfy needs quickly.
 
I’m an old buck now rich with memories
more than movement, still talk, take porn shots,
with a peeking eye, snoop around
department store corners,
and dumpy old alleyways.
My hair is gray, my teeth eroding,
thoughts toward prayer
A.M. Catholic Mass,
then off in early morning
to the mailbox, a lethargic walk,
I pick up my social security check-
comforts my needs.
 
Evening settles into bed time
with a western romance novel,
ambushes, excitement,
old transgressions stretch
and relax.
 
No desires, homage
to the day, to the night.


Michael Lee Johnson is a poet and freelance writer and small business own of custom imprinted promotional products and apparel:  www.promoman.us, from Itasca, Illinois.  He is heavily influenced by:  Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Irving Layton, Leonard Cohen, and Allen Ginsberg.  His new poetry chapbook with pictures, titled From Which Place the Morning Rises, and his new photo version of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom are available at: http://stores.lulu.com/promomanusa. The original version of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom, can be found at: http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=0-595-46091-7.  New Chapbook:  Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems, by Michael Lee Johnson:  http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/challenge-of-night-and-day-and-chicago-poems-%28night%29/12443733.  He also has 2 previous chapbooks available at: http://stores.lulu.com/poetryboy.

Michael has been published in over 23 countries. He is also editor/publisher of four poetry sites, all open for submission, which can be found at his Web site: http://poetryman.mysite.com.  All of his books are now available on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=michael+lee+johnson.  Borders:  http://www.borders.com.au/book/lost-american-from-exile-to-freedom/1566571/.

Now on You-Tube:  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ih5WJrjqQ18, 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMmyjFKJ5fQ.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWkXcR35_Os

 

E-mail: promomanusa@gmail.com.   Audio Mp3 poems available; open to interviews.

 

Follow Michael Lee Johnson On:

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/poetrymanusa

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/poetrymanusa

MySpace.com:  http://www.myspace.com/469391029

 

The Sand Dunes at Maspalomas

 

are lionesses

lazing in the sun.

 

Human shapes are crossing the ridges of their backbones.

 

Later

they will stretch to their feet,

break down into particles,

shift with the wind,

reassemble

 

reassemble relentlessly

as the sea

unfolds at their feet.

 

 



The Unobserved

 

A hill in the Borders thick with forest,

a curving ridge

like a porcupine’s spine.

Who legislates for this land?

Man is as absent as God, though hands

played their part in shaping the scene.

Are mine the only human eyes

to glide across this forest floor?

Wildflowers, tree stumps and pine needles,

the delicate sustained spiral brushstroke

on a snail shell, invisible

from the windows of airliners that hurtle like comets

five miles higher.

Do housing estates still sink their roots through the earth?

Does suburbia really exist?

I picture a body under canvas

lost for years beneath dripping branches.

 

Imagination vaults the horizon line

lands to the north, in Glasgow perhaps

with a clang on the Millennium Bridge

where a man who stares to the south

is finding an image is forming

of someone surrounded by forest.

He shakes his head and plugs his thoughts

back into the city’s circuit.



 

Facing the Background

 

A loved one’s familiar phrase

escaping over my tongue

stops mid-air, mid-sentence,

staring back as surprised as I am.

Or I note a trait in speech emerging

as recognisable as a hat, placed

at a distinctive angle.

 

I do not live in the past,

but the past lives increasingly in me.

 

Landscapes are varnished with meaning.

High above the stone houses

stitching together the valley sides,

a simple green-painted bench

is wrapped about with the silk of my grandmother’s thoughts.

A crumbling dry stone wall

bears the imprint of my father’s sports car.

 

Occasionally, I rise and walk to the window

in a haze of inaction,

numbed by the knowledge of what happened here:

a story, with little controversy,

of a straightforward Pennine family.

A story that penetrates my body

like an x-ray – I turn away,

avert my gaze from the pulsing hills

which deceive us all with their silence.



 

Immunity

 

Through the door, head full of sparks

lifting from the afterglow of the day’s events.

 

“Sit down” spoken softly,

spectacles lowered to the table.

 

Then five small words.

I staggered under their weight,

brain blank,

mouth leaking irrelevant, puerile questions

about procedure.

 

In the pub

we drank four pints in unbreakable silence,

comfortable in our cocoons,

staring at patches of discolouration

on the walls.

I don’t recall the landlady’s crass remark

– something about a funeral –

but I do recall the filthy word I used

when she was safely out of earshot.

 

I drove to work the following morning,

allowing the car to drift through corners,

unconcerned by its course.

In the office, the telephone leapt to life,

News Editor muttering her instructions

like an incantation, a curse.

I replaced the receiver

retching laughter.

She called again later, the deadline was near.

I hadn’t moved.

(It was agreed I should take a week off.)

 

Careless, I walked

through crumbling streets.

Nothing mattered now –

a stranger’s glance, a leaned-on car horn,

the wind creeping through the gaps in my clothing.

Immunised against world,

my cramping stomach convulsed

and my hands shook.







Patchwork

 

I am Ambrosine

and Samuel.

Equally I’m Emily

and her William Henry.

I am Lydia and Jonathan,

Thomas and Sophia.

 

I am woollen weaver,

clothier and joiner,

cloth miller and farmer.

 

I am Pennine hillsides –

flanks of resting beasts,

backbones brushed by pushing cloud,

wires waving in the wind,

strung over land on totem poles.

I am Tinker’s Monument,

I am Scapegoat Hill.

 

Yet also

I’m the lilting land of Beauvoir vale,

I’m Wymondham and Elgar’s Malvern,

places that I’ve never known.

 

A surname fires an identity,

but I will die as much Dyson,

Clarke and Kenworthy.

I am Battye and Haigh,

Farrand and Treherne.

 

Together, these shards shore up

the fragmented man:

 

I am Ambrosine

and Samuel.

 

 

A Departure

 

The lawn is overgrown,

grass sprouts like unruly hair,

the flowerbed bare

where a patient trowel turned the soil

gently, neatly.

 

Intermittently,

white sticks

like little gravestones

mark the spot where come spring

green shoots will rise out of earth

from inert bulbs buried there.

 

Scraps of shrubs.

 

And there

perching precariously on spiked stilts

petals of vermillion velvet.

 

Paint peeling from eaves

recovering from sunburn of summer,

drawn blinds

and something emerging through the doorway

between two men.

 

I remove my cap.

 

Blackbirds lift from a tree, sound

an ironic round of applause.

 

                                                    

James Kilner lives with his wife and two young sons in a small house clinging to the side of a windy hill that overlooks the city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the surrounding countryside and the distant North Sea. He is a poet and freelance journalist. His PhD thesis, 'Hearing the Horizons Endure: Silences in the Poetry of Ted Hughes', was completed in 2009 and can be viewed in the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds. His own poetry has appeared in Message in a Bottle, The New Writer, Aesthetica, Words-Myth and other publications.



How to change your identity using only a hat and a pen

 

Choose from found objects and adverbs

Acorn Lightly Somewhat Rhubarb

turn your hatbill backwards and tag

 

the toilet stall door 10SNE1

cover your face with your hat & practice You lookin’ at me?

draw new eyebrows somewhere above

 

the last ones you drew ink in a mustache this time

as well write inside your hatband

Kansas City Giant Slalom Champ 1993

 

and sign your name lefthanded that’ll fool ‘em

otherwise be otherwise in all things be

otherwise there are a whole bag of trick names

 

to choose from Newcomer Newbegin Freshman

Morningstar find a new voice at Karaoke Night

use it as your cell phone voice

 

swap cell phones with the person beside you

on the bus it’s better they don’t know leave

your hat behind if you feel guilty hang out behind

 

the backstop at Little League games yelling no batta

no batta bury your feet in the sand at the beach

and wait for a dog to pee on you for the tide to come in

 

for the tidal need to pee to rise up inside you but this time

pee as someone else draw new fingerprints on each finger

beg for spare change on the corner if you still have your hat

 

otherwise sell your pen otherwise sell your clothes

otherwise sell whatever service you have to offer

take all the money you’ve made and invest it in a new drink

 

a new intoxicant blot out all memory of you but first

take out that pen you didn’t sell it did you? and write

on the back of a cocktail napkin a big mother X

 

and above that write You are here or

My name is or Directions home and put it in your pocket

if you still have one.

 

                                                         



 

 

Gordon Lang teaches high school English in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, and dabbles in plays, short fiction, and verse.  Some know him as the host of the monthly Poets in the Attic poetry readings; his wife knows him as the stable boy who feeds her horses and fetches things for her when she’s fallen and she can’t get up.  Last spring Marlon Fitzwater honored him for his work in journalism.  Lang has been featured hither and yon around the state, he’s a frequent guest on the Writers in the Round radio show, and he was published in the 2008 and 2010 editions of The Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire.  Finally, he has a slick little book of his own to hawk, No Match for a Scarecrow.

 
 Autumn in New England

 

All European settlers here, it seems,

are driven by the urge to lie in the sun

and tan themselves. Elm leaves

are no exception.

Late in March, though not too late

for the sun to have some warmth,

they drift to the ground and lie there,

 like folk at Bondi,

turning a delicate brown

(superior to the oak and maple

whose leaves burn different shades of red)

whilst waiting for melanoma,

hypothermia or exposure

to carry them off

and so make room for others.

 

 

 

Author’s note: The New England in this poem is Australia’s New England, not America’s.

 

Joe Massingham was born in the UK but has lived the second half of his life in Australia. Major employment has been as a Navy officer, university student from first degree to PhD, tutor, lecturer and Master of Wright College, University of New England, NSW. He has run his own writing and editing business but retired early because of cancer and heart problems and now spends time waiting to see medical practitioners, writing poetry and prose and smelling the roses.His writing covers a wide range but he has a particular interest in migrants’ experiences and views, especially relating to resettlement in Australia.He has had work published in Australia, Eire, India, NZ, UK, and USA.

 With Each New Moon


            after René Char
 
A crescent hangs above mountains tinged with late-evening sun.
A bright wing counters the despair of those who leave their dwellings
to become panhandlers on streets filled with cars whose drivers
inhabit a private music.  Its reed-blade stems insufficiency.  For those who depart, nomadic, the desert sands equal waves of wind 
beneath swaybacked horses.  Worn saddlebags tear fur.
The night darkens and groans with hunger’s iconic animals—
lion, hyena, jackal.   Yet, for the refugee, each new moon signals 
what can be felt but not believed: that every beginning 
mirrors the largesse of a sun turning its face upon countries 
of forced emigration.  Of water running underground in its hidden labyrinth from spring to spring with the lightness of fire, and the 
Terrible children laughing their way up from many floors below.



Bluebells

                    Fairy thimbles, 
hare bells: up close the humility 
of Lilliputians ravishes the mind.
 
           To call fairies 
to a convention on Skomer Island,
the bluebells would be rung.  This despite 
witches hiding inside hedge rows half-breached 
on Scottish fields.  
 
                    Dead Man’s bells,
if the one caught lavender-handed 
receives a sign from relatives 
who wish to parse his will.  Brother 
and sister estranged, sister and sister
no longer able to talk on the phone,
nor lean like lilies into one another.
 
          Hare-bells. 
Oceanside, one wave clamors to shore
and, caught by the dunes, crumples into perfect 
tubules, curved and recurved, spiked 
like Rumpelstiltskin’s shoes.  
 
                   Constancy might mean 
one thing to a husband, another to a wife.  
Like gratitude with its stock photos 
and feng shui décor.  Must humility 
always vie with pleasure?  Pleasure
be so strongly scented?
 
          Bluebells: the folk sign 
for death, of which the fairies, 
ever-reticent, say little.  Across the stream
a small warrior loads his cannon. 
Steadies his stencil-thin tripod, listens.
 
                  Fires across 
Gulliver’s carapace stuffed with organ meats,
tongue—all the fine delights of Britain 
engorged, lodged in the mountainous 
stomach, stuffed with blood pudding.


Sinking through the Matroyshka Doll

Outside the hammers hammer,
beyond the fence.  The Cherry’s
in bloom now.  Its blossoms 
fill the sky.  A light petal snow begins
as I sidle up to Mother—
 
ask her why she didn’t ask. 
Her perfectly impassive face.
I ask again, feel the next smaller doll
shoulder the burden, shrug. 
 
Outside the hammers,
inside the nudge.  I go inward 
towards the mermaid stuck inside.
What is it about  Mother’s painted face, 
her bright eyes, like a bird’s?
 
Ah, but you know too much, the next smaller
doll chimes in. Aha, you did not ask
the right question,
 another says, 
as all six of them take the shape
 
of my morning pain, pulling strings of muscle,
bulging wood shells into my discs.
The dance begins in earnest,
its rhythm of anapests.
The girl who shoplifts suggests a reason. 
 
The young maid who is afraid 
of closed-in places puts up a fierce facade.  
Oh, but we are too many, 
they say, to humor the silence.
 
I feather the vacuum that holds my hair 
in place. But what if she didn’t cotton
to strangers?  The dolls reassemble
on the shelf, soften their stock expressions.
Are her woolen leggings pulled up tight to her groin? 
 
What if she didn’t fall prey
to the teacher who wanted to pry
the second doll—that adolescent—away
from my body?  What if she did?


Judith Skillman is the author of twelve collections of poetry, including The Never (Dream Horse Press, 2010) and The White Cypress (Cervena Barva Press, 2011).  Her poetry and translations have appeared in Poetry, FIELD, The Iowa Review, Northwest Review, The Midwest Quarterly, and elsewhere.   A former editor of Fine Madness, Skillman has taught at University of Phoenix, City University, and Richard Hugo House.  Skillman’s The Phoenix: New and Selected Poems 2006 – 2012 is forthcoming from Grace Notes Press.  www.judithskillman.com <http://www.judithskillman.com> 


Moth

 

In the pheromone filled night,

feathered antennae dust the moon’s

nectar heavy pool of black perfume.

Moth mouse fur and tympanal ears,

drum the air for scent,

each instinctive insect thought

folds the air under pollen powdered wings,

and a toe gently taps the petals invite.

This moth like an emperor in ermine,

floats majestic around his walled garden where,

visible only to the ultra violet eye,

sweet misted midnight veils

plume and drift and rise.

This is the inner insect psyche,

where the tips of probing tongues uncurl,

uproot and quiver drown, in sugar scented worlds.

 

 

 

Stolen moment 

We sat at the side of the lake,

held in a bowl of birdsong,

the trees green summer veined light,

drowned in the afternoon borders.

 

A blackbird overhead

spread its slate black wings,

like an open bible in the hands of God.

Beneath its passing shadow the grass shivered,

and in the still lake’s heat,

Carp gulped for a breath,

suffocating in their slow liquid lines.

 

Down at the water’s edge,

squawking children peppered their mother’s stolen moment,

with open beaked calls they brought her back to earth,

sun kissed and lost, her head floating in the drifts of pollen,

delicate, weightless, golden


Moon shot

 

Inside their metal box,

Little Star and the plastic cosmonaut

fell to earth at a steel blistering speed.

All communications were cut:

One cosmonaut whimpered and whined,

the other smiled with the rictus grin it was moulded in.

As the heat of re-entry set fire to the capsule’s surface,

ceramic temperatures arced on a moon shot graph,

and for one brief dazzling moment,

the night sky curved in upon itself,

alive to the bends in equations.

 

Mark Stopforth is currently Head of Art in a school in Gloucestershire and as an artist has exhibited at The Royal West of England Academy, Bristol. As a poet V Stopworth has been published with Leeds University Press, Sentinel Magazine and Writer’s Forum, winning Fleeting Magazines “short writing of the year 2010”

 





Living Memories

 


I find that these coastal towns appear

To harbour a sense of timelessness.

Remaining as efficient as the reminiscence,

Like those consistent tides that wash upon the shores,

Giving the sense that you’ve just stepped back in time

And returned to your childhood,

 

Where colours look fatigued in their constancy

With that jaded look of a postcard that remains pristine

Amongst the boarded up windows of dereliction-

Soon to be renovated by demolition.

 

While the aural landscape sets itself before you from a distance,

And you find yourself roaming amongst those spirits.

Walking amongst ghosts very much alive,

Haunted by the time and place

That has since passed.

Never yearning to leave

Such living memories.

 


Anthony Ward is an AutoCAD operative from the North of England and has been writing in his spare time for a number of years. He finds himself extremely contemplative about the world around him which often invokes him to have to set his thoughts to rest.




The Thracians Attack Lightning


Whenever lightning strikes
near their rustic homes,
the Thracians shoot arrows
up at the thunderclouds
and utter threats and curses
at each lightning bolt.




A Virgin’s Thighbone


During the medieval period
to insure that a castle
remained impregnable,
a virgin’s thighbone
was mixed into the mortar
to protect it from ever falling
into an enemy’s hands.


The Delirious Festivals at Canopus


Canopus, a coastal town in the western Nile delta,
contained the sanctuary of Sarapis, the sun god,
whose cures were so powerful that devotees slept
in the sanctuary to heal themselves of various illnesses.
The delirious festivals for Sarapis at Canopus
were famous for their ecstatic intensity.
Festival-goers traveled by boat down the canal form Alexandria
to watch the naked flute girls dance with such licentiousness
and abandon that the crowds were excited into a frenzy.
The local people, sympathetic to the sexual excesses
brought about by the festival’s sacred delirium, created little gazebos
along the canal suitably located for quick assignations,
where the festival-goers might indulge with strangers
in what ever tempestuous acts they were moved to
by the wild dancing and the intoxicating music of the festival.




Bill Wolak 
is a poet who has just published his third book of poetry entitled Archeology of Light.  Recently he has been selected to be a featured reader at the 2011 Kritya International Poetry Festival in Nagpur, India.


                             Akhmatova

 

Like Kandinsky’s hieroglyphic vision

of horse sticks and ravens,

the acmeist lens captures you

as the modernist looking east.

 

Too, the Turkic Christ

pinioned against the bars

of the Dialectic’s consummation

who refuses exile’s quiet snow

to suffer with the whisperers,

 

your words the shaman’s liturgy

raising Pushkin’s ghost

and the untongued dead

who gather at the Fountain House

to ride the road to Kitezh.

 



Go

 

(For ‘Chelle)

 

That morning,

Thursday at 8:40,

 

I watched the breeze

slap the trees around

 

near the old people’s home

next to our school,

 

their branches arching

like prisoners on the rack.

 

Voices receded

but were not extinguished.

 

Traffic noises spilled

into our blue ears.

 

The megaphone voice strafed our nervous systems

as we held hands in crocodiles:

 

You had better be silent right this instant.

Mr Woodhead! Send that girl to my office NOW!

 

And then (oh no…not again!)

the kuuurr-lap of vomit on concrete

 

as my sister

puked her tea and toast.

 

Her classmates scattered

as Miss Wolf went for sand,

 

though her hair-pulling,

squint-eyed flailing,

 

chain-saw voice

and chair-throwing

 

were the causes

of this prolific regurgitation.

 

What could I do?

I could not move.

 

I despised

and sympathised

 

with your anguished face

faced down red balloon

 

bobbing over your deed

and hunched shoulders.

 

And what can I bloody do now

with you so far away?

 

Yes-think-what can I bloody do

really?

 

You hung out high and dry in Highgate

strung out on a diagnosis and prognosis,

 

vomiting once again

because you don’t like popping anti-emetics,

 

the dream kite

crash landing

 

somewhere between Gatwick

and Auckland.

 

No, I can move this time.

I can come on the train,

 

wind down the Fens to London,

stare out the horizon’s eye-liner,

 

gulp a sugared latte at Victoria

behind Loaded,

 

give myself time

to brace myself

 

as train times

echo through the station

 

for your wig

and cheekbones

 

and then go go go

to be with you.



  


Throwing the shot

 

Your effort is circumscribed

by a circle of 2.135 metres diameter-

power concentrated and under control.

 

The 7.257 kg shot is cold, smooth and blue

and is cradled in your right hand’s fingers

with your thumb in supporting role.

 

You hide the shot

like an awkward secret

in your neck’s nape

 

and bend your torso horizontally

as if in supplication

of whatever gods of success there might be.

 

Your right leg’s quadriceps

contract the initial acceleration

and your left leg stabs backwards into air,

 

your right foot skimming the concrete,

your left foot tonguing for the stop board

and you staying low like a man under fire.

 

Now your hips whip to the front

as you unscrew yourself

fighting to keep your elbow high.

 

Your lumbar muscles’ momentum drives

through the pectorals, then the deltoids

and down the triceps to the hand

 

that angrily flails and snaps its beak

behind the steel ball

to gain those extra centimetres,

 

and as the shot ascends through its arc,

you are left to reverse your feet,

hop to stay in the circle

 

and enjoy the catharsis

of having given yourself all

in one unthinking moment

to reaching for the sky.

 




Sensuch

 

A snow-lagged line forces the departure’s delay

and so at the end of the wind-worried platform

a group finds a waiting room and prepares to stay

until an announcement. Outside, daylight has gone;

inside, red graffiti mockingly states that all good

things sometimes come to those who wait...and wait..and wait...

while the strip light flitters and stutters overhead

and a pinched-faced straggler gently squeezes in late.

 

Above, a coffin sky gathers more clouds and snow

around this small cross-section of society:

parents with children who moan they just want to go,

adolescents clutching mobiles who sulkily

glare at their soaking trainers, smart professionals

who fold their newspapers and search their briefcases,

an aged couple bowed as if making confession

and tourists with timetables and bemused faces.

 

But staring out of the window into this night

of kaleidoscopic visions made visible

by desire, a pilgrim divines a fragile light

that beyond the horizon is detectable,

but is coming slowly closer and more distinct:

a place to which the whole of existence is linked

though she can barely recall it, but whence she came

and will return to when she hears them call her name.

 

 


 

                                                                                

 

 

To pay the mortgage, Peter Wynton teaches English, but still finds time to study for a PhD in the philosophy of religion, write and publish poetry and reviews, and most importantly, to raise two children.