Friday, 30 December 2016

A poem by Tom Sastry

Before entering 2017


Try to see clearly what it is you love.
Whatever you love, be honest.
If it is your family, more than the world
do not be ashamed.
If it is your cat
or the smother of the morning bed
or a certain goal scored at Wembley in the 1970s
have no regrets.
Be proud of your love.
Bring it to mind. Bring it to the front
ahead of all other concerns.
It is hard to do but not impossible.
Hold it, as literally as you can, in your hands.
It is touching you. Touch it back.
Say goodbye.
You need to get it out of the country.
You need to preserve it.
Write it, draw it, pickle it, cure it
freeze it, hide it, bury it,
put it in a bottle,
tell it to a friend,
carry it in the hollow sole of an old shoe
to wherever it will be safe.

And when hope has bolted
into the deepest cave of your belly
hiding from all the temporary things,
the memory of your love will have a form
and you can summon it -

when its lightness feels like an insult,
when you need it most.






Tom Sastry is a poet and spoken word artist living in Bristol. He has been widely published in print and online. In 2015 six of his poems were selected from tens of thousands for inclusion in the anthology The best of 52. He was chosen by Carol Ann Duffy as one of the 2016 Laureate’s Choice poets and his debut pamphlet Complicity was published by Smith/Doorstop in October 2016.

Monday, 26 December 2016

A poem by Alicia Hoffman

Every Day I Discover Something


A carpenter ant curling the lip of the dog’s dish.
A cutworm moth clinging to the kitchen towel.

Just yesterday, corn tassels grew like unicorn horn
from what we had hastily planted in infertile soil.

There is a man that lives on the corner who speaks
no English beyond Good Morning, How Are You?

Every day I discover him near the garage of his house
trying to tune an ancient radio, unrig a washer, dryer,

fridge. A junk collector, he drives the city on Thursdays,
crams treasures into a rusted-out van. The fact I speak

no Spanish shames me. I smile and nod and wave.
Walk away. I am aging. At night I slather creams

on the creases of my face. I measure appropriate intakes
of sugar, salt. Every day I discover more ants. Unsure

of where they are coming from I take the small hose
of the vacuum and suck them up. If I’m killing them

or giving them a wild ride they can climb out of
I do not know. Too many hold on to God. Only He

gives us what we can handle, the church ladies say. Days
I feel I am saved from some mysterious being coming

to squash me like a bug under a boot I don’t say a prayer.
I see the crabgrass grow and the clover speckle the lawn

like small stars. Most of us are strong enough untested.
By day, I weed out the dandelions. By night, they rise.








Originally from Pennsylvania, Alicia Hoffman now lives, writes, and teaches in Rochester, New York. Her poems have appeared recently in Radar, Redactions: Poetry and Poetics, A-Minor Magazine, Word Riot, Hermeneutic Chaos, The Inflectionist Review, and elsewhere. Her second collection , Railroad Phoenix, is coming out early 2017.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

A poem by Justin Hilliard

the production that is my life


the curtain rises
ENTER wailing child
carried to the next room
by DOC in scrubs
and circumcised

act 1
child grows and is closely watched by
MOTHER who goes back to work in the
factory when he turns 4 and FATHER
who stayed in the factory to pay for
a growing newborn and a high
maintenance wife
churches come and go,
but nothing really sticks with him, nor
does anything noteworthy happen for the
next twelve years until he
gets laid by SUZZIE who
never knew what she wanted
and only has
4 lines of dialogue
child graduates and goes to college
mostly for the solitude of his dorm

act 2
characters dance on and off the stage, but too few
stay until the curtain call
child tries to maintain his grades, but
he drinks and smokes
until life moves along in the
blur he’d been looking for
enter the love of his life SASHA or was it MONICA?
settle on GIRLFRIEND
who moves into his dorm
where their grades can plummet
together
child’s FRIENDS are numerous and mostly the same
coked up party kids and ne’er do wells
he’d ran with his entire life
child smokes a pack and a half a day,
but girlfriend wants him to stop

act 3
during the intermission you missed
child drop out of college after
graduating to two packs a day and losing
his girlfriend
he found a job at the factory
on a recommendation.
he grew old fast and did
nothing noteworthy
child signed up for mature dating
and found someone as lonely as him
named WINNIE, the name lingered in
his throat like the booze
he quit years ago
child retires from the factory
with hardened blisters as his
sole severance

the curtain falls
the show is over








Justin Hilliard reads and writes along the beaches of his native sunshine state, where he also edits his literary journal, The Chaotic Review

Monday, 19 December 2016

A poem by C.J. Miles

Something Not About a Damselfly


There is a sky, I'm told, above
Everything: drunk, dizzy,
Screaming, I gave you rivers,
I gave you cancer, what more?
Why are you always calling to me?
I am always calling to you.
I've spent the last eight hours flirting
With the walls between us.
Living alone, what a dumb way
To be, so I am giving up on being
Good at anything that isn’t you.
There is a sky, I’m told, above
Everything, and today you are
That sky, a scratched record
That keeps skipping: hip thigh,
Hip, thigh, your funny bone,
A laugh track to everything
That makes your spine blush.
Imagine if dragonflies breathed
Fire, imagine the sun stopped
Paying rent. Watch me forget
Everything that came before you.
Watch the sky, always above
Everything, gripping what we know
To be the ends of tomorrow.








C.J. Miles lives in Iowa with his wife. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Forage, Eunoia Review, and Algebra of Owls. Follow him on Twitter at @cjmilespoet.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

2 poems by Maurice Devitt

Mrs Mourinho’s Weekly Shop


She plans with liquid precision,
her hand-written list a fragment
of cursive joy and every week
she tailors the formation.

When she learned that attack
was the best form of defence,
she front-loaded with red meat
and carbs, added extra sugar,

leaving the fruit and veg to sweep
up at the back. When she thinks
the going is likely to be soft
she will pick a team of cereals

and pulses, enough roughage
to facilitate a passing game.
Is comfortable in Tesco’s
but when playing away

in Lidl or Aldi, she expects
a more continental form
of open shopping, parks
the bus and believes every item

to be ripe for substitution.
She was one of the first to spot
the potential of kale, scouted it
in a small speciality shop

on the other side of town
and completed a swap that included
the young, sprouting broccoli.
Happy at first with its

performance, particularly
when partnered with potato,
latterly she found it
too green and had fallen back

on two experienced heads,
cauliflower and cabbage,
old-fashioned but reliable.
As the shopping window

closes, she has been tipped off
about a young, versatile
foreign star, but is worried that
quinoa may just be a flash in the pan.



-----
Previously published on 2nd February 2016

Raft of the Medusa

After Gericault

The sea swells and the boat bares its teeth,
stands tall, pushes into the crowded waves,

His skin becomes porous as he clutches
loose handles of air, weight drains

and his arms are like ribbons flapping,
his face flattened by the wind.

He feels himself swallow the storm,
gulp it down until it rages inside and out,

eyes rolling in concert with the sea. No time
to consider the sacrifices made to get here,

no time to scan for the cropped shape
of Lampedusa, for now he must scramble

with the flotsam of death, swaddle his son
against seething eyes and treacherous hands,

count every breath, forget the words
for panic and fear, because today

may never spell tomorrow, and hope
is impossible to calibrate, when every hour

seems to sneak in extra minutes and the men,
who survived last month, are found

smothered in an English lay-by.


About Maurice Devitt


A graduate of the MA in Poetry Studies at Mater Dei, he is the recent winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition 2015. He has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, the Listowel Writers’ Week Collection Competition and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. He has had poems published in various journals in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia and is a founder member and chairperson of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

Monday, 12 December 2016

A poem by Luke Schamer

You Must Squirrel


A lone squirrel sat on the roof’s edge
and nipped at fall leaves, trying
to contain a leaf with only
one front leg.

Maybe she was deformed, or lost
the other front leg in an accident,
maybe a switchblade left open
in the woods she called home.

Suddenly she was not alone
but instead encircled by other
squirrels, just like her.

Except the others had all
four legs.

The other squirrels obviously
came to assist Lost Leg’s feeding.

But rapidly the family of squirrels
—most likely Lost Leg’s own—
bit harshly at her body and neck
as Lost Leg opened her jaw
in pain as she attempted
to clamber away.

At school, she sucks in her
stomach that presses too hard
against a soft heart,
wishing to be invisible.





Luke Schamer teaches English at a juvenile detention center in Dayton, Ohio. He has had writing published by Star 82 Review, Matchbook Literary Magazine, Eunoia Review, and Maudlin House, among others. In addition, Luke is a produced screenwriter for three films: Drop of a Cane (comedy, 2017), Before Flame (drama, 2016) and Fire, Rain, Wind, and Snow: A Story of the Prairie (documentary, 2016).

Thursday, 8 December 2016

A poem by Pippa Little

My Other Body 


might be wildly unafraid of oceans
and how it feels to be rubbed in lard, with strong lungs
and hot sting of piss against icy thighs

might be a stunt double famous for soaring dives
or mother of dozens, climbing a mountain of babes;
maybe an inmate, pacing my six by eight cage,

nearly humanoid but for a fuzzy orange hide:
somewhere, my other body has pleasured a hundred lovers
bloomed like the queen of the night
and goes with me always, on the insides of my eyes








Pippa Little is Scots and now lives in Northumberland. She is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newcastle University. Her latest collection, Twist, is forthcoming from Arc and a pamphlet of Mexican poems, Our Lady of Iguanas, published by Black Light Engine Room Press, came out this spring.

Monday, 5 December 2016

A poem by Louise Robertson

My Brother's Biological Father Asks for Forgiveness


When my brother
Facetimes me Sunday
at 4:30 pm,
with the tablet half-pointed
to the ceiling so I can
just see his chin
and a bottle bobs into
view like he’s showing it to me
on purpose,
I start walking. Phone
held away from my head, I get
out of the house. I go
over the grass yard and falling-apart
driveway, head toward the bike trail
by the creek. This is a year
with cicada. They shiver and the sunlight
sieves through the leaves of ash trees
marked with red exes and the ash trees
soon-to-be thus marked.
My brother
confesses what
his biological father told him
when he tracked them down.
They tried to abort him. Why’d
you do that? I don’t say.
We know where we come from.
The creek folds its own water.
Our lives are supposed
to be filled with shame,
start to finish. Let me
illustrate: 20 to 40 pounds heavier
and I’m sorry. Two whiskey bottles
down and my brother is
sorry. Get born at
the wrong time: Sorry, sorry.
My brother's biological
father is dying, is dead,
has to pull off that coat,
had to get
out his secret truth
to the one he did it to.
My brother
made the sign
of the cross and
ate the sin and let his
biological father go.
We know where we come from.









Louise Robertson has completed the following checklist in no particular order: Journal publications (Crack the Spine, Red Eft Review, Gyroscope, and others). Poetry event organizer. College (Oberlin). MFA (George Mason University). Awards (Mary Roberts Rhinehart, Columbus Arts Festival, and others). Slam teams (Rustbelt, NPS, and others). Full-length book (The Naming Of, Brick Cave, 2015). Has trouble sleeping. Tries to be nice. Likes biking and swimming. Hates running. Does it anyway. Loves her two kids.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

A poem by David Henson

This Time, Swords


A giant sword rises through the floor,
skewers the sofa,
pokes through the ceiling.
She turns the page.

A blade crashes
through the window, slides
behind her neck.
She tilts the book out of the shadow,

then lifts her feet
as another sword nicks at her heels.

She fights to stay awake
as a half-dozen more
criss-cross around her.

The land line sounds.
When she picks up, a pin
juts out of the mouthpiece
between her open lips.

Applause crackles in her ear.
She hangs up then twists
and limbos to bed --
tomorrow's another day.





David Henson and his wife live in Peoria, IL. His poetry has appeared in two chapbooks as well as various journals including Ascent, Lullwater Review, Pikestaff Forum, and 7x20.

Monday, 28 November 2016

A poem by Christopher Iacono

Earth, Waving

Inspired by Bridget Riley's Fall (1963)

A rumble outside the window
trickles into your ears
like shooting drops of rain.
A waving floor shifts your feet,
bends your legs.
Then the first picture frame
slides down the wall,
the second one
collapses on the mantle
before crawling over the edge,
broken glass streaking
into your veins,
cracks growing like ivy
against the wall,
sheet-rock powder
sprinkling on the carpet.
Hundreds of crashes
pummel the wet sand
of your skin, rivers of noise
overflow in your skull, linger
until you yank the door open,
run from the threatened shore.
When the flood recedes,
you gaze into the last shards
of glass intact in the mirror
before the sight of the damage
sends the final tremor.






Christopher Iacono lives with his wife and son in Massachusetts. He has been published in Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry, Dirty Chai, Pidgeonholes, among others. You can learn more about him at cuckoobirds.org or find him on Twitter (@ciacono1973) or Instagram (@ciacono761).

Thursday, 24 November 2016

A poem by Colin Crewdson

Sprites


Prompts, night flares:
      
Last night you were blond,
      
bobbed.  You had a small sharp nose.
You left for Paris.

Before:
       
You walked like a farmer,
       
solid, mistrustful,
your mind on the technicalities of minutes. 

In the darkest night of grief
you carried off the last light, a thief
softly unbodying herself.
 

And then:
               
You leant over
               
created a bridge over the years
       
        with whisps of golden hair.
Should I feel grateful?

Photogenesis:
                
neurones briefly flash,
                 
noctilucent,
                 
as your torch beam
swings by in the dark, randomly. 






Colin Crewdson lives in Devon where he works as an osteopath, after a career in other european and middle-eastern countries. He's been published in Ink Sweat & Tears, The High Window, The Open Mouse and The Journal.

Monday, 21 November 2016

A poem by Julia D. McGuinness

Not Muriel


Low sun through the windows
gilds dust in a bone-weary lounge.
A rasp cuts the air; specks whirl.
That's my sister! It's Muriel!
A stranger spears her finger
at me, pins me not Muriel

with a rigid stare, shadowed
in sockets dark with old grievance;
Her stiff hand needles my sleeve.
What's happened with the house?
I flinch, like a Muriel clamped
and mantled to fix the family.

Stumped, I scan bodies slumped
in Care and see Mum asleep,
mouth open, in a tan chair:
upright; plastic; urine-resistant.
I crouch low, whisper by her face
the name she gave me once.





Julia D. McGuinness lives in Cheshire where she writes, counsels and runs writing workshops for creativity and wellbeing. Her poems have been published in anthologies and online appearances include Clear Poetry, Nutshells and Nuggets, Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Her collection Chester City Walls, was published by Poetry Space in 2015. She belongs to Lapidus, the network of therapeutic writing practitioners, and the Mid Cheshire Stanza BLAZE.
Visit her at www.creativeconnectionscheshire.co.uk

Monday, 14 November 2016

A poem by Hilary Hares


Illusion

Braque expands upon a collaboration between himself and Picasso  (Céret, 1911)


Come, let me be your guide, I know the cypher to its depths.
   We call it Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on a Mantelpiece.

Pull the bottle from the cork, drink from its geometries,
   attune your ear to subtle notes of ochre and grey.  

Now, abstract your gaze.  See how the images surface and dive,
   overlap, distil.

What?  What’s that you say?  You see no clarinet, no mantleshelf,
    no bottled rum?






Hilary Hares has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Winchester in 2010 and an MA in poetry from Manchester Metropolitan University. Her work has appeared in the following:
Anthologies: Lines Underwater 2013, Inspired by my Museum 2014, Hampshire Writers’ Society Anthology of the Best of 2011-2014
Competitions: Grey Hen Poetry Competition 2016 (shortlist), Christchurch Writers Competition 2013 (First Prize for Poetry), The Plough Prize 2011 (longlist)
Collaborations: Elemental Dialogues (www.elementaldialogues.wordpress.com), Writing Hampshire (www3.hants.gov.uk/writing-hampshire).
Magazines: Antiphon, Bare Fiction, First Time, South, Obsessed with Pipework, Orbis, The Interpreter’s House, The New Writer

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A poem by Elizabeth Gibson

As the darkness fell


Red spots, ink stains on your back became a
flowing stream; fear in my mouth, my legs, as I
ran upstairs the way I would always run after my
big brother but there was no man to hold me,
hold us, when the darkness fell.

You sat in the office with Mr Jump, holding his
soft green body, bandy legs dangling. You knew
something was wrong but you were serene. Emily
bounced about and then came to cuddle you, eight
condescending to six as the darkness fell.

If I thought you would be like saintly invalids
in books I was gladly wrong. You taunted your
sister, black spots beneath your eyes, as she
scratched her head furiously and screamed at you
and all seemed okay as the darkness fell.

Trawling through the zoo with a buggy – mine?
No, it was your cousin who slept, oblivious
to the treat that I had dragged myself out to
bestow upon her. The giraffes didn’t impress you
either, as the darkness fell.

You turned seven and we celebrated in the garden,
your long legs making waves in the grass and Emily
rocked her chair and told you not to rock yours
and the bad meat made her sick but you were
spared, thank God, as the darkness fell.

You went back to school and did well but you
were never like them; never loud, clever, fast.
But you survived, your summer hat perched over
your new curls and my psoriasis erupted and
I didn’t give a damn as the darkness fell.

When the thunder crashed you listened, rapt, while
Emily stood trembling. We watched all night and
she seemed okay, I couldn’t be sure but separating
you would be wrong and taking you from what you
loved would be a sin as the darkness fell.

You couldn’t eat a thing, you said, you cried when
I tried to make you, you were sick and sick and sick
and the doctor looked at me and shook his head and
I knew that was it. How I longed to feed you from a
banquet of the gods as the darkness fell.

The white of the bed, the sheets, as we stand looking
at Emily who will give her cells for you, who is smiley
as ever, cheeks full of colour and you are white and
thin and I know this is our last chance and I love you,
I love you as the darkness falls.

Today, my darling, you will get new marrow and get
better; you will run wild, two little girls keeping up
with one another how it was meant to be. Tomorrow
all will be well so I will say goodnight and hold
you tight as the darkness falls.






Elizabeth Gibson is a Masters student at the University of Manchester and a Digital Reporter for Manchester Literature Festival. She is a member of Writing Squad 8 and has work published or forthcoming in The Cadaverine, London Journal of Fiction, Far Off Places, Myths of the Near Future, The Mancunion, Octavius, Severine and Ink, Sweat and Tears. She tweets at @Grizonne and blogs at http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.co.uk.

Monday, 7 November 2016

A poem by Jo Waterworth

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.

(with thanks to New Scientist)






Jo Waterworth lives in Somerset, is a member of Wells Fountain poets and has performed with Strange Sisters. She has won prizes and been published online and in print, most recently in I am Not a Silent Poet, Hedgerow, Gnarled Oak, Obsessed with Pipework, Poetry Space showcases and prizewinners anthology. Her pamphlet My Father Speaks in Poetry Too is available from Poetry Space. Currently studying at Bath Spa University, she blogs at https://jowaterworth23.wordpress.com and https://jowaterworthwriter.wordpress.com

Thursday, 27 October 2016

A poem by Helen Kay

Floaters


She swims into herself,
to see the tadpoles darting.

They tease her scarred attention
to the lie of space before her.

Tail whip to free fall. Blink.
Pupils close in to catch them

in a vitreous underworld
of flaking retinal spawn.

Experts gaze in crystal balls,
and predict the changes

of moons she cannot reach.
She foresees latex fingers

fishing out crescent larvae
before eyes spew out toads.





Helen is a dyslexia tutor and proud owner of five hens who inspired her debut pamphlet, A Poultry Lovers' Guide to Poetry published by Indigo Dreams in 2015.

Monday, 24 October 2016

A poem by Catherine Ayres

Single-breasted


Always the echo of what’s left,
a heart’s empty warehouse
the swim of abandoned light.
We fall through afternoons,
find ourselves face down and framed
in bottom drawers, holding hands
with bastards in a tomb of bras.
The saints have lost patience;
they grant us single magpies,
blow-dry halos, dreams of bad sex.
Night skins us. We drink the street lights’
wallow, lie quivering in an absence of backs.
Try our false dawns for size:
blink through a veil of clean sheets,
suck your finger, spit dust.






Catherine Ayres lives and works in Northumberland. Her poems have appeared in a number of print and online magazines, including Mslexia and The Moth. In 2015 she came third in the Hippocrates Poetry Prize. She has a pamphlet published by Black Light Engine Room and a collection – Amazon – to be published by Indigo Dreams Publishing later this year.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

A poem by Sarah L. Dixon

Woodland Burial


Feed nature
let scattered plaques of fat
be a platter
for fatter cats
and Natterjacks

my duodenum
would feed them
for the longest season

Feed nature
An evil force ignores
an enormous dormouse
to gnaw my jaw ajar

Feed nature
Weasels deem it feasible
That feet’ll be
a reasonable neat meat treat

Therapy failed to save her
Now starving strays savour
The flavour of her navel





Sarah L Dixon tours as The Quiet Compere. She has been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, The Lake and Clear Poetry among others. Sarah’s inspiration comes from being by water and adventures with her five-year old, Frank. She is still attempting to write better poetry than Frank did aged 4! http://thequietcompere.co.uk/

Monday, 17 October 2016

A poem by Emily R. Frankenberg

A Chronology


My grandmother referenced dates in cats:
“Oh, that was in the time of Pixie the First,”
or “Those were the days of Mittens,”
elevating them to the status of dynasties
or perhaps of Old Testament prophets.
The interregnums were brief and generally
relatable in dogs, or in apartments, or in hamsters.
Thus, a bird flew into my mother’s birthday cake
sometime at the height of the reign of Teddy,
and I was born in the decline of Pixie the Second.
I miss this way of classifying dolls and Halloweens,
kitchens abuzz and yards of fireflies illuminating dusks:
the things that chafe against the measure of a day.
I miss the angle of her lilt bent toward a village in the rain
across the jagged wound of ocean intervening.
I wrote her phrases in a notebook in a print now obsolete
in the era of Snowy and my recurring C’s in penmanship.
Some would have said it was Scotch-Irish dialectology,
but for me it was her voice, and when I try to hear it now,
it comes back staticky and odd. I heard her clearly once,
not knowing it would be for the last time,
in the overlapping reign of Tinkerbell and Mittens.






Emily R. Frankenberg was born in New Jersey and graduated from the University of Delaware in 2004 with degrees in Spanish and English Language and Literature. In 2006, she moved to Seville, Spain, where she continues to live. She writes in both Spanish and English and has been published in the United States, Spain and Colombia.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

A poem by Caty Lee

Who would like to nominate the white blood cell count
For the Zelda Fitzgerald emotional maturity award?

Some skid-free mats,
Misrepresentation by wheel chairs,
A hospital elevator in non-repair.
Sort of reductionist, but

the thin scope down my throat loves my
California-poppy esophagus
denoting acceptance
of scandal by strategic eye contact.

It’s never sunny anywhere except the muscles
Of Mesa, Arizona. Lesions large enough to be seen by the naked eye,
And my platelet count clicks into
Chromosome avalanches in the spinal
tapping irony from the sidewalks of Eastern Standard Time.

The fruitful doubts that emerge when eyeing my CT scan,
Subliminal messages from some German electronic band,
Some cancer of the gut I’ve been meaning to get beyond.







Caty Lee likes third-person biographical information, clementines, the mind-body problem, and synthesizing with literary texts. As far as she understands it, honest writing is about tending to the sore back and the philosophical leanings at the time of deliberation. It isn’t about conforming to a self-sponsored concept of what a reader wants to see. She is an English major at St. Bonaventure University and hopes to embark on an MFA program after completing a bachelor’s degree.

Monday, 10 October 2016

A poem by Linda Leedy Schneider

I Can’t Forget


    the lilac bushes or the secret space
in the center of their circle,
sheltered from the sun.

I can’t forget   
    the sound of bees gathering nectar
from lavender trumpets,
or jazz drifting from an open window.

I can’t forget
    the lingering taste of buckwheat pancakes
and syrup from the sap of our maple tree.

I can’t forget
    the feel of my first grade books
or the joy of reading them over and over.

I can’t forget
    my hideaway protected by heart-shaped leaves,
or the boy, visitor next door, who intruded.

I can’t forget
    the music, the scent of lilacs,
my books, his hands,

or his grandmother who said I lied.



Previously published in Peninsula Poets







Linda Leedy Schneider, poetry and writing mentor and psychotherapist in private practice, was awarded the 2012 Contemporary American Poetry Prize by Chicago Poetry. She has written six collections of poetry including Some Days: Poetry of a Psychotherapist (Plain View Press) and has edited two collections of poetry written by poets whom she has mentored: Mentor’s Bouquet (Finishing Line Press) and Poems From 84th Street (Pudding House Publications 2010).

Thursday, 6 October 2016

A poem by Elena Croitoru

Changes


Two countries ago, mother
spread like the horizon. Immutable.

She is now crayoned in sepia ink.
The borders have shrunk her.
Must not go back,
for she is thinner every time.
A sliver of feeling leaves me.

Her skin is heavy, full of lines assembled into a map
of wrongs and rights.
Her heart is a violin filled with water,
no longer echoing.

She must be looking at the bones of a memory
past the bedroom eaten by black threads.
She must be sliding her fingers
on the umber desk, like I used to.

I did not tell her the stars took me in.
I used to climb up there
when it got too loud.

If she were to see it too
the cold forever, disguised in trembling light,
the cemetery of young thoughts,
her life would fall into mine and
we would fold the world into what
it was supposed to be.





Elena Croitoru is based in London and is working on poetry, short stories and novels. She is currently studying for the Diploma in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Slink Chunk Press, Foliate Oak, The Front Porch Review and other magazines. One of her stories has been selected as an Editors' Choice in Bewildering Stories' Fourth Quarterly Review of 2015. She also works as a software developer.

Monday, 3 October 2016

A poem by Jane Burn

YOUR TRUE LOVES ARE THE END OF THINGS


Rest, they say. The vanquished heart
                                              is a peaceful heart,
no more need for questing. The victory
                                   is soft, soft
as the invisible fall of a wasted eyelash, but definite
as railtracks. You can pass into legend, now. I have
a file for you, between
                        this and that,
            him and her,
   them and it.
            Daedaleum,
                       flicka-flicka-flicka-flicka -
I got you stuck in this moment, just as I come
in a room and your head goes up
                                    goes up-goes-up-goes-up.
The colour of your iris is immaterial.
                                             Flicka-flicka-flicka-flicka.
Smile a little. Who ever knew what you
were thinking anyhow? I made another crock of shit,
that’s all. My zoetrope love, pushing back your chair,
                                half rising-half rising-half rising.
                        tilt-tilt-tilt-tilt your neck
            and smile, look away. You,
pretending not to see me, pretending
            not to see you. You, looking out the window,
                        at an empty glass – you fold your arms and
                                it hurts my heart.
                                        You and me, we wear our scars
like lacework across the skin of tripe. We ought
to be snatches of light, escaping their gyre-ing gaps.
                                   Flicka-flicka-flicka-flicka-
                       flicka-flicka-flicka-
           flicka-flicka-                        
flick.




Jane Burn is a writer and illustrator based in the North East of England. Her poems have been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, from The Rialto, Iota Poetry, Obsessed With Pipework, The Interpreter's House, the Black Light Engine Room Literary Review, Kind of a Hurricane Press, Beautiful Dragons and the Emma Press. She is also the founder of the online poetry site, The Fat Damsel https://thefatdamsel.wordpress.com/

Thursday, 29 September 2016

A poem by Sam Loveless

After the Swings


Leaving the seat,
                          You left an impression,
                          however brief.

Try to remember
                          trying to forget.

The chemicals 
                          cleanse your mind,
                          not your history.

You can be accepted. 
                          Choose your apologies
or                       change your future.

                          Swinging happy.
                          Swinging melancholy.

Not forgetting
                          how high we swung.
                          Where you landed.






Sam Loveless is a Swindon-based poet and railway worker. He began writing poetry at Swansea University and now comperes the open mic night for Poetry Swindon. He also produces ‘Rhythm & Rhyme’ a radio show on Swindon 105.5 dedicated to literature and related arts.

Monday, 26 September 2016

A poem by Ben Banyard

Something in Common


So you meet
open up
and sometimes there’s enough

to make you laugh and sing
look at each other
beyond physical nights
feel that there might be hooks
sliding bloodlessly under flesh
to keep you together
even when you’re lying awake back to back
with a foot of cool air between you

That’s your hot beating heart
the always-fire glowing at home
with a half-life which will continue to react
long after you’ve both slipped into memory






Ben Banyard lives and writes in Portishead, near Bristol. His debut pamphlet, Communing,
was published by Indigo Dreams in February 2016 and his poems have appeared in The
Interpreter’s House, Prole, Popshot, RAUM and Lunar Poetry, amongst others. He blogs at

Ben edits Clear Poetry, an online journal publishing accessible writing by newcomers and old

Monday, 19 September 2016

A poem by Nicholas Antoniak

An Icy Road


As if in the pursuit
of troubled eyes that follow down narrow hallways
you stopped and spoke quite plainly
too plainly, in fact
about the way a car slides out
under thick, December, ice

For we,
who prefer to live beneath shrouds
and behind thick doorways,
would rather think
that the car remained oblivious
to the ice, the road and the spin.






Nicholas Antoniak, is an 18 year old emerging Australian writer. He writes both creative fiction, opinion pieces, poetry and anything else creative. He has been included in the 2015 Lane Cove short story anthology. In July he will commence a bachelor of arts majoring in philosophy and sociology and hopes one day to become an author.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

A poem by Sarah Satterlee

When I Lost the House


Flurry of coins on hardwood,
haphazard, flat hailstones,

she stands above them shaking
the ceramic cow,

they shimmer and skate
in loops, each swooning mirror.

Is it enough? she asks,
moon-eyed.

I wrap each photograph
in paper,

each dish,
each half-burnt candlestick,

I line them up in boxes
like offerings to the dead.






Sarah Satterlee is a graduate of Rhode Island College, where she was the recipient of the 2007 Jean Garrigue Award for her collection of poems. Her work has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Wilderness House Review and Chronique. She lives in Rhode Island with her daughter, where she works as a nurse.

Monday, 12 September 2016

A poem by Katie Munnik

Grey


The week of our sister’s wedding, we painted the basement stairs.
Grey, not industrial, not cosy either.
Practical like nickels or skate blades,
work socks, sidewalks, pigeon grey.
We started at the top
but after a step or two,
reconsidered.
The stairs were too steep for the two of us,
daughters still at home,
jostled for space, trying to keep our balance,
worrying about falling or dropping the brush.
So we lowered ourselves, stretched
reaching toes down past the wet paint,
elbows and knees extended as far as they would go
to start again at the bottom.

I hoped our little brother would stay where he was.
Outside hunting for ladybugs, likely,
behind the garden shed.
We should have laid newspaper at the top of the stairs
to warn him
or told our mother
or made a sign.

Instead, we decided we only needed an escape route ourselves.
The basement window might work,
with a stool and a shove or two,
if we could manage to pop the bars from their brackets
the way Dad showed us, the day he installed the smoke detector.
We hatched a better plan.
We would paint every second step, then long-leg it back upstairs,
drink lemonade in the sun, catch ladybugs ourselves,
work on our perfect bridesmaids tans
until the paint dried.

It was a good plan, twenty-one years ago Thursday.
Maybe someday, I am very sure
we’ll go back down and paint the rest.




About Katie Munnik
I am a Canadian writer living in Cardiff, UK. My prose, poetry and creative non-fiction work has appeared in several magazines and anthologies, in newspapers across Canada and on CBC radio. I recently completed fiction mentorship through the Humber School for Writers in Toronto, Canada.
@messy_table

Thursday, 8 September 2016

A poem by Anas Hassan

Pheidippides


blast thresholds through Friday evening hail
blench in the cryotherapy chamber’s last chance saloon
wake fretting at a 3 a.m. derailment on the racing line
deplete energy with a novice's fierce dance routine
flail in the slipstream of a too speedy skort
snatch Jelly Babies from high-fiving kids at Shadwell
get overtaken by a toilet at the Tower
bite frantically at a sachet of factory-fresh fruits
fight the Naseby raging inside you
clasp your battle souvenir like a venerated relic
jostle through the makeshift Renkioi
shuffle down the stairs like your great-grandfather
peel dank kit off your weeping nipples
shovel calories like you've just escaped Leningrad
start again like a trader after a market crash








Anas Hassan lives in London. He is a strategy consultant and keen runner, and speaks French, German and Arabic. He studied history and international relations at Cambridge University. His poetry has recently been published in Ink, Sweat & Tears and The Interpreter’s House magazines.

Monday, 5 September 2016

A poem by Lindsey Talbott

'Worn'


Sea blue dress
breathing water
gulls call
and fingers tauten in the sand

Buried at the back of the wardrobe
still breathing faintly
she touches the unreachable blue
and curls in on herself like a shell

Letting go
she catches a glimpse
in the mirror
and turns to look herself in the face

Sunlight running through air
weeping

Familiar red-brown hair
the first tints of winter as
ice creaks and shifts
in a far-off land

cut and coiled
in a shoe box under her bed

Her body knows
and leaves the sea blue
hanging





'Lindsey writes poems sitting under trees on occasional small time islands in the flow of her life as a talking therapist, co- steward of a small woodland project, in the dance and her spiritual practice. She is drawn to the dance of bodies and in the natural world, more than the dance of words – and she writes and reads poetry and prose along the way, as she has from childhood. Poems in particular are a form of process overflow – she talks in poems when there is no-one around to share with.'

Thursday, 1 September 2016

A poem by Vanessa Gebbie

To a Welsh tunneller killed in France in 1916, whose body still lies 40 ft below ground


Did you prefer your garden wild,
all edges softened, scented? Did grasses
seed for you
in the evening light, and
Spanish daisies dance
                                   down the old brick step?

Did shallots wait in untidy rows, with
chives and parsley frills and leeks, and
on your two apple trees, did russets grow?
Was all stone mellow,
none bright, and in the ivy
were dunnocks nesting year on year,
and robins too, wood pigeons in the ash?

And everywhere was light, everywhere
the kindest shadow,
and when it rained
at night
did you stand at your open window,
                       the sweet air on your skin,
and listen
to the small sounds,
                                as though

you could hear the whole world, greening?





This poem is previously published, in Vanessa's collection 'Memorandum, poems for the fallen' (Cultured Llama, 2016).




Vanessa Gebbie is author of seven books including the novel ‘The Coward’s Tale’ (Bloomsbury 2011), two collections of short fiction ‘Words from a Glass Bubble’ and ‘Storm Warning’ (Salt), and two poetry publications ‘The Half-life of Fathers’ (Pighog) and ‘Memorandum, poems for the fallen’ (Cultured Llama). Her work has won both the Troubadour International and the Sussex poetry prizes. Twelve poems from Memorandum will form part of an exhibition for Hurstpierpoint Festival in September 2016, and will be illustrated in stained glass, photography and sculpture. www.vanessagebbie.com

Monday, 29 August 2016

A poem by Edward O'Dwyer

My Best Friend Sammy


My best friend Sammy is a stubborn bastard
about everything. When we were eight,
I’ll always remember it, he took a shot
and it went over the jumper. It was post,
nowhere near a goal. No fucking way,
Sammy started screaming. It was in.
And crazy eyes on him. When he gets
the crazy eyes on him he isn’t messing.
He fell out with me over it, took his ball
and went home, not a word. Days passed
and turned into two weeks and enough
was enough. I called over to his house
after school and I said, Okay, Sammy,
it was in. That was that. Minutes later
and we were out kicking the ball again,
playing a game of Pole. Stubborn cunt,
I said to Sammy as he was heading in
and he laughed. They beat the absolute shit
out of him, the fucking scumbags. Sammy
could be his own worst enemy sometimes.
That was just a plain fact. I know him.
I know he could have stayed down but
wouldn’t. They kept putting him down
and he kept getting back to his feet
and laughing and calling them pansies
and then daring them to try it again,
his big fat eyes bulging out of his head.
They took their turns having their kicks
and digs. Then they took one of the eyes
out of him. They stabbed him, piercing
a lung. They’d have been looking for a fag.
That’s how it goes. You’re probably
fucked if you give it, fucked if you don’t.
They’re not asking. It’s not about the fag.
Gizz a fag ‘ill yuh, they say, and the best
thing you can do is peg it, but Sammy
wouldn’t ever do that, the stubborn fuck
that he is. Gizz a fag ‘ill yuh, they say,
and their hoods up, a scrawny shower,
tracksuit bottoms tucked into white socks.
G’wan will uh, iss ony wan fag like.
I really need Sammy to wake up.
He’s my best friend and I need him.
The same day it happened I shifted Jenny.
I want to tell Sammy all about it,
the fucking magic of it, her tongue
in my mouth, mine in hers and my hands
all over the juicy denim arse of her.
Finally did it. Sammy has been listening
to me going on and on about Jenny
for must be over four years now and never
doing nothing about it. Shifted the face
off her but it doesn’t feel real now.
How can it if I can’t tell my best friend?
Jesus Christ, wake up, wake fucking up.
Sammy has to be the first to know, I owe
him it. You stubborn cunt, Sammy.
It was post, Sammy, when we were eight.
Post. Now wake up and scream at me.
Open up your crazy eye, tell me it was in.






Edward O'Dwyer, from Limerick, Ireland, has poetry published in magazines and anthologies throughout the world, such as The Forward Book of Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, The Manchester Review, A Hudson View Poetry Digest, The Houston Literary Review, among others. His debut collection, The Rain on Cruise's Street (2014), is published by Salmon Poetry, from which the follow-up is due early 2017. He is an editor for Revival Press, a community publishing house in Limerick. His work has been nominated for Forward, Pushcart, and Best of the Web prizes.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

A poem by Prerna Bakshi

Be an unruly woman


Be an unruly woman. Be that woman who laughs aloud at people who tell her that she shouldn’t laugh aloud in public. Laugh aloud and show those sharp teeth that are meant to bite and chew. Chew off people’s unsolicited advice telling you what to do. How to conduct yourself. How to smile. How much or little to smile. Smile enough so it starts to hurt your jaw. Enough so it grows flowers in your neighbor’s yard. Enough so a rainbow appears in the sky. But, not too much either. When interacting with men you do not know, don’t smile too much, they say. They might think you’re immoral.

Be ‘immoral’.

Chew off these pieces of advice. Chew it all off. Feast on it. Enough so your loud burp, after the grand feast, kills their appetite. Their appetite for giving unasked-for advice. Be that woman who laughs her heart out and aloud.

Be an unruly woman.




(First published in The Ofi Press, Mexico)


Prerna Bakshi is a writer, poet and activist. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of the recently released book, Burnt Rotis, With Love, which was long-listed for the 2015 Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UK. Her work has been published widely, most recently in The Ofi Press, The Harpoon Review, TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism and Peril magazine: Asian-Australian Arts & Culture, as well as anthologized in several collections. More here - http://prernabakshi.strikingly.com/

Monday, 22 August 2016

A poem by Thomas O'Connell

An Unfinished Book


Starting to worry
Because the phones know too much
They trouble my sleep

I feel the heat arriving
The sound of flutes in canyons

Where we found comfort

Days spent inside caves
Meditating with the stones
The buzz of ghost bees

No other death will move me
In the shape of every tree
                                       
                               An unfinished book




Thomas O’Connell is a librarian living on the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon, NY, where he happens to be the 2015-2016 poet laureate. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in Elm Leaves Journal, Caketrain, Jellyfish Review, Otoliths, and The Los Angeles Review, as well as other print and online journals.


Monday, 15 August 2016

A poem by Will Badger

Ode to an Olive Waistcoat

for E. Passannanti

‘Waistcoat’
her mother called you,
a puffy vest,
one she’d once worn
before you became her daughter’s
(on permanent loan)
at sixteen:
for her mom you meant
some things last
while others are
fit for the fire

But does to last mean
merely to persist,
or to find
function in the fire:
a phoenix’s
rise over run?

For me
you symbolise survival:
clothes that crept
to the bottom of the closet
when other articles
went out,
wore out.
You waited –
until she wore you again

All I want
is to hide here
and hold her
as you do
and for her mom
to see
sometimes
things that don’t last
are only lost

and can be found.





Will Badger holds an MFA in Fiction from NC State University and an MSt in English Literature from Pembroke College, Oxford. He is currently pursuing a DPhil at Pembroke as the Browning Senior Scholar in English, exploring representations of witchcraft in Shakespeare.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Nominations for 'Best of the Net' Anthology 2016

This week the excellent poetry site 'Three Drops from a Cauldron' announced its six poems nominated for the 'Best of the Net' anthology. Seeing the brilliant poems submitted by this site has inspired me to put together our own nominations for this anthology.

Below are the six nominated poems that were published on the Amaryllis site between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. Please take a look at the poems and feel free to comment on and share your favourites.

It has been a great year for Amaryllis and we published over 50 poets during this period. I look forward to seeing what the next year will bring.

I wish the six nominees the best of luck, it has been a real pleasure reading and publishing these fantastic poems.

Thanks,
Stephen Daniels
Editor of Amaryllis


You measured my depression in pheasants by Richie McCaffery

Under the Elm Tree by Claire Walker

Raft of the Medusa by Maurice Devitt

Coroner's Court by Mark Russell

Teaching on a Gun-FriendlyCampus: A Brief Guide* by Leila K. Norako

The Ravens of Japan by Ryan Warren