Thursday, 31 January 2019

A Poem by Louise Wilford

The being between

Sip my too-hot coffee, fingers shielded by its cardboard sleeve;
balance my tablet on top of the half-open bag on my lap;
listen to the ghost of voices murmuring elsewhere,
rattle and creak of a whiny railbus.

It’s in the being between,
space flanked by here and there,
that thoughts seep up like bubbles in hot mud,
through the stones of my heart, through the steam in my head.

Fume of air, scooped up by the train’s mad transit, thrown back
against the glass;  someone in front stands up, stretches,
wrestles the trembling window shut. A child cries,
somewhere behind. A screen lights up:

Next stop: Wombwell.  Where you live.
Nowhere place, no one’s destination, none alight;
less than a town, not quite a village; weird name on a sign;
the warm, wet place we begin - the source of the water that winds us up.

And I’m not standing up. I’m still watching my tablet screen
flicker and fade without my finger’s  pressure, listening -
distracted by the grumble and clatter of wheel on rail;
wondering what waits at home, what wild

whitewater words he’ll throw at me tonight.
And the train doesn’t stop; the name on the sign
flutters in my chest, a bird’s scrabbling claws, half-unfurled
wings, flapping and bent out of shape. The coffee I’m holding is cold.

It’s in the being between, the space flanked by you and him,
that thoughts leak like blood from a badly-dressed wound,
as I set the coffee cup on the quivering floor
and gather up my last few things.

Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford has had around 100 poems and short stories published in magazines including Acumen, OWP, Orbis, Iota, Dreamcatcher, Tears In The Fence, Popshots, Pushing Out The Boat, The Stinging Fly, The Frogmore Papers and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions.  She is currently writing a children's fantasy novel.

Monday, 28 January 2019

A Poem by Ceinwen Haydon


Swimming in the baths, eyes wide, we smiled
over our children’s heads, you two girls. Me, one of each.
Chlorine kept us clean, no rules broken.

On the beach, a storm brews,
breezes speckle goose-bumps on our skin,
waves ripple in, barely stop in time
to keep us dry. A crab pincer-nips
your child. Her screams shake us back.

Next week we’ll sail alone, on badass breakers,
out from Druridge Bay, where strong currents surge
to sandbanks and shores well known for ship wrecks.

Ceinwen lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been published in web magazines and print anthologies. These include Fiction on the Web, Literally Stories, Alliterati, Stepaway, Poets Speak (whilst they still can), Three Drops from the Cauldron, Snakeskin, Obsessed with Pipework, The Linnet’s Wing, Blue Nib, Picaroon, Amaryllis, Algebra of Owls, Write to be Counted, The Lake, Ink, Sweat and Tears and Riggwelter with work coming up in Prole, Poetry Shed, The Curlew and Atrium. She graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in December 2017.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

A Poem by Michael Gessner

chattering.  They’ve been up all night,
dancing ‘til dawn.  They could be heard
down the hallways, even the walls shook.
Later they gathered around to plan
their next outing.  Who knows where?
Even tho’ they are their shadows
flitting on walls, they are
all about the future.
I don’t want them to leave.

 Michael Gessner has authored 11 books of poetry and prose. From the most recent, (Selected Poems, FutureCycle Press, 2016,) The Poetry Foundation chose several for its online archives (2017). His latest publications include those in The American Journal of Poetry (forthcoming Jan., 2019,) Innisfree Poetry JournalThe Kenyon ReviewNew Oxford Review, and North American Review, (finalist for 2016 James Hearst Prize). His reviews appear regularly, and he is a voting member of the National Book Critics Circle.

Monday, 21 January 2019

A Poem by Susan Elliott

El Hotel Fantasma

Our guide said they were making condos
out of the closed-down hotel, overgrown
with dried beach grass, shadowy white
columns flanking the vacant lobby.
Maybe a golf course nearby. A virgin beach,
he called it. Honeymooners in our group waded
into shallow water, took photos of themselves
with outstretched arms. I sat at the abandoned
beachside bar on a stool risen from the sand, shards
of iridescent shell, sharp coral making the bar front.
Behind the counter, stainless steel mixers were silent,
clean. I wished for a piña colada and remembered
that pineapple juice hurts my stomach.
I wished for a cuba libre instead and wiped
the dirt from my eyes. I wanted to relax,
like a newlywed should, carefree and waxed
clean for the week. I held my disposable camera
too tight, thinking of the warnings of our guide,
that local children might pilfer our buggies and steal
our sunglasses and money so quickly and silently
that we wouldn’t notice until they’d slinked away
behind a palm tree. Like phantoms, I thought.
I checked my finger again for my
wedding band and it was still there.

Susan Elliott is the author of the chapbook The Singing is My Favorite Part (Etched Press, 2015). Her poetry has appeared in the Best American Poetry blog, Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry, Reunion: The Dallas Review, and Broad River Review, among others. Susan received her PhD in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Southern Mississippi, where she won the Joan Johnson Award for Poetry in 2014.   

Thursday, 17 January 2019

A Poem by Sarah Lao

Crossing Fields

We left with June still undressing in my mouth
like a wound, ripe as a
summer plum in harvest, exit
sharper than the limit of a switchblade.
School’s out, and there’s nothing
I want more than
      to forget.
Sure we’re driving through the countryside,
your hand stitched to mine, the pedal of the red
Cadillac rasping over the wind.
Look at the fields. You said.
And I
looked. It was nothing special—a
typical prairie ecosystem.
Coyote feeding on jackrabbit feeding
on grass feeding on sun.
Copied straight from Barron’s Biology.
But you shook your head. Look closer.
So maybe
you wanted to point out the clean
pair of sneakers left on the roadside. Give me
the chance to pick up some free knockoffs.
Still we already passed it and—
No. You said. Easing off
the pedal and unlocking the doors.
Touch the ground. What is it made of?
It was dusty, of course and hard to
breathe outside. The sun was out,
but I couldn’t     see anything.
everything was black.
There was a fire. I said. And
the fields burned.
Yes. You said.
But look again. What’s left?
A hint of green, scattered in the
dark, the first shoots of grass.

In September, we came home.

Sarah Lao is a sophomore at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. She currently edits for Evolutions Magazine and reads for Polyphony Lit, and her work has been published or is forthcoming in Sooth Swarm Journal, Eunoia Review, and the Inflectionist Review. 

Monday, 14 January 2019

A Poem by Katarina Boudreaux

Revelation Sings Sweetly

There are friends,
and then there
are friends who
will sing while feeding 
your baby sweet potatoes
with a neon spoon
cross legged on
a dirty, uneven floor
in a kitchen full of flies
while you stem the tide
of disaster with scrap
wood and old glue.

Katarina Boudreaux is a New Orleans author, musician, dancer, and teacher. Her first novel “Platform Dwellers” is available from Owl Hollow Press. She has two collections of poetry -- “Alexithymia” from Finishing Line Press and “Anatomy Lessons” from Flutter Press.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

A Poem by Holly Magill

The Bobblers are Coming

Initial sightings coincide with the first frost – spotted
on seafront dog-walkers, cyclists muffled against the raw.

An old woman at the front of the bus, shrunken head
nodding under one bigger than a snoozing Bagpuss.

Then suddenly they’re everywhere – a woollen pandemic,
spread from high-end boutiques and market stalls alike;

indiscriminate to age, race, gender, faith –
from old boys in the bookies to girls in Gap puffers.

In the corner shop, at the school-gates,
at the urinals in Wetherspoons.

Some say they shouldn’t be part of society –
the rise of the hoodie all over again.

Under her tasselled standard lamp, your Nan clicks
patient needles over Coronation Street.

Soon you could be joining the ranks.

Holly Magill’s poetry has appeared in numerous magazines, including The Interpreter’s House and Bare Fiction, and anthologies –Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches Press) and #MeToo: A Women’s Poetry Anthology (Fair Acre Press). She co-edits Atrium – Her debut pamphlet, The Becoming of Lady Flambé, is available from Indigo Dreams Publishing:

Monday, 7 January 2019

A Poem by Maurice Devitt

A False Dawn

You open the curtains when the day
is still half asleep, the eye
of a bleary sun just clearing the horizon
and the trees, so verdant in your dreams,
all dressed in black.
The street begins to well up with colour,
remembers precisely how it was left
last night, while taking care
to add an extra scratch to the paintwork
of the car outside number twelve,
knowing that it will never
have to explain how it got there.  

Winner of the 2015 Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition, he has been runner-up or shortlisted in Listowel, Cuirt, Patrick Kavanagh, Interpreter’s House and Cork Literary Review. A poet of international breadth, he has had poems published in the UK, US, India, Romania, Australia and Mexico, and has also been a featured poet at the Berryman Conference in Minneapolis and the Poets in Transylvania Festival.  He is the curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site, a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group and has just published his debut poetry collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

A Poem by Sharon Phillips

* The following poem deals with the subject of miscarriages. *


She scrolls
screen after screen,
checks her body 

time and again for signs
this baby will be safer
than her last,

the scan’s moonscape 
by an empty sac.

to be done
to stop that loss,
little to prevent another, 

but she scrolls
through the screens
and performs her ritual.

Nausea. Sore breasts. 
No bleeding yet.
All's well.
Sharon is retired and lives on the Isle of Portland, in Dorset. Recent publication credits include Ink, Sweat and Tears, Algebra of Owls, The High Window and Snakeskin; poems are forthcoming in Eye Flash and Bonnie’s Crew.