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

Thursday, 11 August 2016

A poem by Amy Schreibman Walter

Continental Shifts

On a plane above Amsterdam, bodies tilt
towards land. A stranger in the seat next to me
spoons chocolate from a disposable cup, asks
if I like to cook. I might be domestically inclined.
Thinking of how I want to be making you dinner,
I am instead eating small salami sandwiches with my fingers,
I am instead sipping tomato juice from a plastic cup. I have
flown over the continent this week, flown in the dark over
metropolises all lit up. In these places, I don’t ever cook,
I eat with my hands, I drink local specialities. I want to cook
dinner for you in a kitchen I don’t have, want to shuffle
crockery out of cupboards, warm up soup on some stainless
steel hob. I am falling for you. The captain
says we should prepare for landing. Out the window
there is only the night sky, tinged with little lights.






Amy Schreibman Walter is an American writer living in London. Her poems have appeared in magazines on both sides of the Atlantic, and her new chapbook, ‘Houdini’s Wife and Other Women,’ was published by Dancing Girl Press this spring.

Monday, 8 August 2016

A poem by Sarah Carey

Identity Theft


My husband worries someone is trying to steal “our” identity.
There was in fact a letter from the IRS

about a fraudulent tax return. Nothing came of it—
we paid our thousands to the government—

but the worry-seeds took root. We sleep
less well at night, fight panic on days

the mail is late, as if it might not come,
as if someone had absconded with our packages,

our bills, and oh yes, what few personal cards
there might be from a relative or friend.

Suddenly encryption isn’t good enough.
We decide to put a hold on things. Our credit,

for example. Records vanish into the shredder.
Extra anti-virus downloads occupy our desktop.

Soon we’re locked so tight, a thief
would have a time breaking the firewall.

We race to the deep web, looking over
our shoulders. My husband’s hands are everywhere,

his prints on my keys. Then there’s the cloud,
where our trove of photos has become a heaven

we visit to remember faces, to remind ourselves
how our parents looked, how we looked

when we were young, unconcerned with betrayal,
uncompromised. We stay safe, our drives restored,

no worries to eschew. It’s simple:
If my husband’s life is taken, I’ll vanish, too.





Sarah Carey is a graduate of the Florida State University creative writing program. Her work has appeared in Rattle, The Carolina Quarterly, Portland Review and elsewhere. Her poetry chapbook, The Heart Contracts, is pending publication from Finishing Line Press.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

A poem by Anita Olivia Koester

Heartworms and Handguns


What should one put on a mantle– horses with their legs
artfully broken off, oversized pawns, snapshots

that feel faked– while the flames lick upwards,
I look at the lines on my palms, consider burning them.

When we saw this house/mansion/monstrosity
I said– if we can’t be happy here, we’ll never be happy.

Yet here– I feel stuffed as a prized parakeet,
my body behind so many panes of glass.

In the background on the T.V– Grey’s Anatomy,
self-medication they call entertainment, I watch

the dewy-skinned doctors and their how could you
eyebrows, that not again in their knotted lips,

though all day in the ER, bodies stumble in,
all those organs crawling with heartworms,

distemper, mouths drooling with rabies,
so many hearts burst open today, so many

attempts to sew her legs back on to her body.

These are the years my body fills with sand,
my hair thins, nerves twitch, ears ring,

it’s almost comforting when the spiders come,
massive, long-legged Louise-Bourgeois style

laying their eggs in my uterus, my aortas,
any place swept clean of love.

Without love marriage is like a disease,
it eats away at your sanity till your standing

stark naked in the closet tasting his handgun
wondering if it’s loaded, if the safety is on,

if this is what it is like to sleep in a war zone,
grow so comfortable with the sound of gunfire

that your ashamed at how much you crave it,
how much easier it would be if the gas leaked

and the house caught on fire, collapsed dramatically
like in a soap opera, and when you woke up

all you could hear was your heart beating.



"Heartworms and Handguns" was first published in Marco Polo, a chapbook published by Hermeneutic Chaos Press.



Anita Olivia Koester is a poet and photographer. Her chapbook, Marco Polo, is published by Hermeneutic Chaos Press. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Vinyl, Tahoma Literary Review, Clarion, Unsplendid, HEArt, and elsewhere. In 2015, Shot Glass Journal nominated her for a Pushcart Prize and she won the First Night Evanston Poetry Contest. Her writing has been supported by Vermont Studio Center, Art Farm, and Sundress Academy for the Arts. When not traveling, she lives in Chicago with her books and her Australian Shepherd. Visit her at anitaoliviakoester.com

Monday, 1 August 2016

2 poems by Chella Courington

Lynette’s War


Cousin Lynette says she’s tired from cleaning
East Main houses of rich bitches. They don’t even shit
like us, got toilet seats that float to the bowl,
never make a sound, & she hands me the baby
over the front seat. Days off Merry Maids
we like to drive her ’97 Trans Am to Gulf Shores—
kd lang over eight speakers.
I’m tired too, tired of being the babysitter.
Leah, grabbing my earrings, covers me in crumbs.
She bites off the heads of animal crackers.
Only eats heads.

Don’t know why I hang with her.
She’s like the girl who cut my hair at Cinderella’s
saying I had the ugliest strands she’d ever seen.
I kept going back for more till Lynette blurted
you don’t need to pay for that kind of shit.
And Lynette says outright
she’s sexy & I’m not. We both know it.
Junior high she called me a mutant. Boobs
like raisins on a fifteen-year old’s wrong.
Mama took me to the doctor & he shook his head.

At least Lynette is a good mother.
When the kid has fever, Lynette won’t go
to work. I’d rather lose my job
than leave a sick baby at daycare.
Guess that’s why I hang with her.
She might call me names, but let somebody else do it,
she’d scratch their eyes out. At the Sonic,
some boy from Crossville leaned in the window,
drop the fat chick & let’s go driving.
She clawed his left cheek & screeched away,
tray still on the car, cokes & fries flying.
Son of a bitch thinks he can dump on you and have
a good time with me. Stupid bastard.

I thought Lynette would always be the one to leave.
Good looking. Smart. She never let anybody
walk on her, or me, though she did
what Cochran girls do after getting their
driver’s license. She got knocked up.
Wouldn’t tell a soul who the father was.
We all thought it was Sonny Cruz.
He went to Iraq in August & emailed Lynette every day.
Like they were junk, she’d hit delete.
He started writing letters she stacked on her dresser—
unopened. Keeping in touch with soldiers
is talking to the dead. Sonny could come back,
I say. Lots of boys make it. Lynette turns away
he might, but he won’t be the Sonny I knew.

After homecoming she carries his letters out to the grill.
They catch on the third match.
Every last word.




Previously published in PBW (DVD Journal 2015)



Chella Courington is a writer and teacher. With a Ph.D. in American and British Literature and an MFA in Poetry, she is the author of four poetry and three flash fiction chapbooks. Her poetry and stories appear in numerous anthologies and journals including SmokeLong Quarterly, Nano Fiction, The Los Angeles Review, and The Collagist. Her recent novella, The Somewhat Sad Tale of the Pitcher and the Crow, is available at Amazon. Reared in the Appalachian South, she now lives in Santa Barbara, CA, with another writer and two cats.



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Previously published poem (22/03/2016)

Jeopardy


My father built biceps working for US Steel
smelting iron in heat that humbled men.

Now I could break his arm
over my knee, brittle as kindling. 

My father used to let me walk up his body
balancing my hands on his fingertips

till I flew from his shoulders. They began to sag
after my mother passed. Rising at night, no moon out,

she collapsed in the dark and never woke
as once my father fell when a clot in his head

tossed him down. He speaks of my mother
rubbing his back with eucalyptus oil and saves hair

from her brush, strands he wraps in kleenex.
At night with his whiskey, facing Jeopardy, my father

drifts off to Kargasok.
In the Russian mountains women live to be 105.

So do their men, eating dried cod with mushroom tea,
making love last forever.


Motif 2: Chance. Ed. Marianne Worthington. Summer 2010.