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June 2022 (103 editions in total)
51st edition as a webzine, see below.
Poets listed in surname alphabetical order.
For earlier (March) poems, see below.
* * *
Not Enough, poem by Holly Day.
The Bird Man, poem by Holly Day
Another Ending, poem by Richard Dinges, Jr.
History Repeats, poem by Dan Grote.
Memory, poem by Michael Jennings.
Joyriding, poem by J L M Morton.
The Strand, poem by David Pike.
A Vast Perhaps, poem by Gordon Scapens.
Gospels, poem by Ian C Smith.
Mourning Dove Cooing, poems by Soran M.H.
Every Other Man, poem by John Tustin.
We meet for coffee as we have for so many years
this old friend of mine, we don’t meet as much as we used to
when we both had small children and had nothing to do with our days
except change diapers and garden and gaze longingly out the window
out at the rest of the world. There are words we’ve learned to avoid using
around each other, because some words make my friend think
of the daughter she lost so many years ago, and some of her words
make me remember the dreams I had for myself when we’d first met.
I need more people who are as careful with me as she is.
There was a time when every conversation we had
led to her crying over details of seeing her daughter in a coffin
the memorial gardens that kept springing up all over her yard
the one she dug out and planted at her church
always ended with her holding my hand and squeezing it so tight
so unbelievably tight. I don’t even remember the things I told her
I wanted, I know I told her I wanted a lot.
Here we are, two old ladies having coffee
at the same spot we’ve met at for so many years
hiding out from our husbands and the noise in our lives
picking up our conversations right where we left off
the last time we spoke.
The Bird Man
There was once an old man in my neighbourhood that was always being followed
by flocks of birds, he stuffed his pockets with birdseed every morning
left a trail of seeds wherever he went, he looked like an angel with those great wings
always settling around him, almost on him, just inches from being truly domesticated.
He was tanned and gaunt and had a long, white beard, seemed almost biblical
in his disdain for weather-appropriate clothing and sensible footwear.
Someone said he had cancer, and that’s why he was so thin,
he had decided to spend the little time he had left
feeding and talking to birds, but someone else said
he lived on birdseed and sunshine and orange juice,
and that’s where he got his energy from
he hardly ever needed to sleep.
I used to see him every morning a little after sunrise, when I was riding my bike to school
he’d smile and raise his hand a little as if required to acknowledge me
and I’d raise one or two fingers in response as I hurried to make it to class on time
until the day he didn’t show up, and didn’t show up the next day, either,
and someone said he’d been found on the beach, covered in seagulls
it was such a gruesome way for such a gentle man to go, they said, but I think
they were just taking him up into the air with them, one little piece at a time
because that was all they could carry, since they were, after all, just birds.
Dead trees sprout birds
from shattered tips
of barkless limbs,
fingers clenched against
a steady wind
that sweeps dry leaves
and dust into
a scattered cloud
that echoes a sky
stretched too tight
devoid of anything
green to filter
my sense of longing
for summer now gone.
Richard Dinges, Jr.
Walton, NE, USA
Alone in this cell, middle of the night,
memories drift like messages in bottles,
waiting on wishes we’re taught to call
prayers, pleas for help offered to The Dark.
The years fall away with no answers.
Life is just dying to believe in something,
waiting on an echo, and answer from The Void.
Just how long will this silent treatment last?
And do us both a favour: just save the
whole “faith is belief in things not seen” line
for amateurs, the ones not yet beaten
down, not yet jaded, those naïve and unscarred.
The failures of my worldly father have done
much to prepare me for the abandonment and
shortcomings of a Heavenly One who has
given me the will to fail quite freely,
No hard Feelings. You see, I think
I finally understand.
Chicago, Illinois, USA
In conversations memory let me down –
the books I’d read, things said to me.
Sometimes a prompt would bring them back
and sometimes not, but every word, or frown,
or smile, the flicker of an eye, or crack
of thunder, had changed my life to some degree.
I’ve forgotten almost all of them – my memory is me.
Keyworth, Nottingham shire
Swaddled in the consolation of soft foam
at the economy carwash, the sputter
of a Volkswagen Beetle catches my ear
and I’m back at Little Haven, summers ago
picking lobsters from the fishmonger’s tank,
their blue bodies like small cars articulated,
brake cable antennae, the spoilers of their tails.
How we agonised over preparing each twitching carapace:
freeze to unconsciousness and stab in the cross
or boil to death in cold blood.
After the killing, we feasted with animal hands,
wine glasses smeared with aioli. We
clinked and sucked at claws, inhaled the sea
salt steam, flicked the embers
of cracked shells off our fingers. Our mouths thick
with meat and adventure. Oh, how we ate
and all just for kicks – at ease with our indignities.
As the air drier comes at the windscreen head-on,
how I feel it – my hunger. The hunger of not feeding for years.
J L M Morton
the pair of them
him bent over, hunched
inspecting the ground,
making no sound
towing a small brown dog
alive, but resembling
a stuffed toy, at heel
as if on wheels.
Their clothes are dated
but that doesn’t matter
you could say faded
jaded, not smart
and lacking appeal to anyone
other than themselves,
in the bustling seaside town
of bright summer apparel
and seasonal vim and vigour,
they ghost around
unnoticed by most
as people kaleidoscope
in and out of focus
with endless chatter;
they are together,
their mottled skin resembling
breathing the air
walking the strand.
From DP’s book of poems, The Strand, © 2012
A Vast Perhaps
Stand on the beach,
salt riding on the wind,
and look the incoming sea
straight in the face.
Let its moving tongue
explain the loneliness
of perpetual travelling
in search of a role.
Understand how anger
can swallow the land,
how its passion smothers
what it gets close to.
Spot the aggression
it tries hard to conceal
lurking under the surface,
and its desperation to be
just considered a friend
to all who meet with it.
Here is a reminder
there are traces of all of us
and our place in the world.
Treat the sea’s edge
as a new knowledge of reality.
I know even as they slam their car doors,
man in suit, close-shaved, with a fat briefcase,
woman dressed as if from a tale of yore,
a support player, obedient, chaste.
I know when he shall switch to the action,
wait while he witters on about weather,
spurn the concept of angels’ great feathers.
My bedevilment cues his spiel’s traction.
She asks if reading is an interest.
I preach reverence of sacred authors
absent from the pantheon of their blessed,
pity this alchemised adult daughter.
They bestow bumf with condescension,
wider reading my means of ascension.
Ian C Smith
Mourning Dove Cooing
The Mourning Dove has flown away
from the misfortune of the seasons
I saw one today
on her flight to exile
as if she is the one
landing every morning
on the window of a broken heart
and sadly crooned her rhyme
Every Other Man
I am every other man;
Neither repulsive nor pleasing to the eye,
I am in debt but I have a place to sleep.
I would be content to live a small life
If I could have just a few around me,
Living their own lives as big as they can.
I am every other man:
Shedding the skin of anger
With the skin of acceptance now shining.
No longer waiting for the angels to descend
And perch outside my window
But waiting for something more certain
And certainly more sinister.
I am every other man:
Accepting love wherever I can
And not needing to wash more than one fork,
One spoon, one glass, one knife, one plate
Night after night after night.
I am every other man:
Ground down by the boot
Meant to trample most of us.
Writing words for myself,
Sticking them in my coat pocket.
Whispering words to myself
Into my coat sleeves.
Crying tears into a dish that sits outside
A window she never opens.
I am every other man:
Trying, yes, but also waiting.
Waiting the way an insect waits
In the struggle of the spider web;
Fighting because it must
But resigned to the probable conclusion.
The sinking fangs painful
Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
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March 2022 (102 editions in total)
50th edition as a webzine, see below.
Poets listed in surname alphabetical order
* * *
Dry Spell, poem by Frank De Canio.
New Road, poem by Robert O. Harris, Jnr.
Like Finding New Oceans, poem by George Cassidy Payne.
A Dream of Leaving, poem by Robert Pfeiffer.
Rush Hour, poem by David Pike.
Going To A Christmas Church, poem by Anthony Wade.
The devil sends visions of a windfall
harvest so that the season’s crops seem pale
amidst lustre. Later he’ll rescind all
His promised gleanings and send us a bale
of hay to gainsay the abundant yield
we’d hoped for. Friends conspire with our dreams
of celebrating on a teeming field
until, despite hope, the sterile earth seems
worse than before. Though planning for the fruits
of our labor, we’re left with wasted seed.
More harsh than flooded plains are withered roots
that mock ambition’s enterprising need.
And what were once just fallow strips of land
appear as desolate as desert sand.
Frank De Canio
Union City, NJ, USA
When you told me about the new road
and the coyotes with their
homeless look of horror and confusion,
the furrow in your brow
was so new and deep
like the new road displacing your friends-
I had to stop and avert your eyes
for my own fear’s sake,
realizing your loss.
Robert O. Harris, Jr
Cedar Hill, Texas, USA
Like Finding New Oceans
as a trumpet vine grabs
onto every available surface,
on arbors, fences, telephone poles,
and trees, you wrapped your tendrils
into my yellow throat and made the world
feel closer than it ever has. Unmediated
by the veil of what we think we know,
I kissed you. Together we became unfamiliar.
George Cassidy Payne
Rochester, NY, USA
A Dream of Leaving
I only ever dreamed of leaving.
My cul-de-sac’d childhood in Rockwood
was lovely, if only for a year or two
before we packed up and moved on, again.
We were always going, it seemed –
Sao Paulo, Tokyo, yo-yo-ing back and forth
between the States and the whole world.
But Rockwood seemed like ever after.
Our house was first on the right when the road
bubbled out like a cherry from its stem.
From our front porch, I could see the tracks
where each night, a freighter lumbered
around a hillside, the cone of headlight
vanishing along the dark track to somewhere.
And beyond that, the sound of the road –
cars rushing at all hours, the on-ramp to I-95 –
Philly, New York, Boston – towering
smoke-shrouded cities from the movies.
From the furious pedals of my dirt bike,
I would look up on bright, clear days,
trying to stretch the depth of the sky.
I remember once, a jet flew overhead
low enough to see the individual ovals,
and behind each, a human on their way –
the aisle seats full, peanuts and sodas,
over patchwork fields, broad oceans,
banking into the magic of distant time zones.
And if I hopped the back fence my dad built,
past cattails and dwarf pampas into the woods
there was a creek I waded into up to my knees.
The water would flow east, towards the sunrise
that had already disappeared forever.
I’d stand there with my jeans pulled up
for what seemed like hours, listening
to the great cacophony of bugs and birds,
of cars and planes and trains, of children
screaming their way through games they invented.
The water would slide around my legs,
over smooth stones and, soon as seen, gone.
Once, alone, in late August, at dusk,
standing in the creek, the sound of geese
somewhere beyond the canopy of trees
I felt something and looked down –
a small leaf had floated on the current
into my calf, and before I could ignore it,
I saw a leaf-eating beetle in the center.
It was almost as though I was in the way.
So after a moment’s hesitation, I bent down
and lifted the little craft to eye level.
The beetle ticked his legs at me, clear as day,
so I smiled, and set him back on the water.
And now, all these years later, I can still feel
the cool water on my legs, the slick stones
underfoot, the dusk air thick and humid,
can hear my mother calling me back home
from the window in the kitchen, can sense
an understanding moving in like fog –
there may be nowhere better to get to,
but you can always go there, just in case.
Decatur, Georgia, USA
Clouds of grey
steering the sloth
down Botley Road,
with fear of stalling,
past stationary cars,
hoping the thing would last
before checking out
and falling apart.
The 175cc tin machine,
by its very ugliness
and attempt at functionality
endeared itself to me
by its very basic need
to break down readily,
It was always in need
of something new
a clutch or throttle cable
usually, in the middle of
nowhere, or blocking a queue
of vehicles behind me;
on a two-wheeled liability.
Going To A Christmas Church
individuals and families collecting
in a larger community congregating
in a old place of sanctuary
anciently imbued with sanctity,
ritual again promising a firm future,
solace sought from inconstant tides,
an ancient cave of smells and sounds,
shoes and boots squeaking on stone,
damp woollen coats shedding
their warm animal smell,
shuffles and coughs slowly rippling
from those who have never
mastered silence and stillness,
the breathy communal voicing of hymns,
known songs of reverence
as comforting as childhood’s rhymes,
ears ringing with the pealing
of mighty unseen bells calling
the constant communicant,
accompanied by the seasonal attendee,
a needed coming together even
with socially prescribed distancing,
a comfort unfound in a video link.
Co. Cork, Ireland
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