Pulsar Poetry Webzine
       Pulsar Poetry Webzine

Published Poems

September 2018 (88 editions in total)

 

36th edition as a webzine, see below.

 

Poets listed in surname alphabetical order.

 

* * *

 

Poem Index

 

Family Photograph: August 1914 - Ceinwen Haydon

 

The Youth I Saw - Lynne Munn

 

Portway - David Pike

 

Happenstance - Ian C. Smith

 

Long and Flat - Roger Singer

 

Folly - Tim Taylor

 

Beautiful People - Tim Taylor

 

Splash or Zen in America - Ron Yazinski

 

*

 

Family Photograph: August 1914

 

Sunshine hazes August skies

they stand stock still,

six before the curtained camera.

The photographer says, Hold it.

 

Bang. Flash.

 

My family’s eyes caught in the frame,

their ears and noses, cheeks and smiles.

Their hair waves,

outside the cottage in St. Clears.

 

Esther stands glum faced,

forced to wear boots too large,

her big sister’s cast-offs pinched

and pressed her toe joints to blisters.

 

Her mind flew,

head tilted back to watch flocking geese

high against the mountain-side.

Her father, says, Esther, cariad bach,

Concentrate .

 

Esther. I see you.

Now a folded, creased image

on an old, folded, creased card

 

ringlets long enough to sit upon.

White apron, starched and pinafored

around your Sunday chapel frock.

Your mouth a straight line, defiant,

and your eyes, its-not-fair-grim.

Your irises and pupils sepia-rinsed

as if to emphasise the point.

 

That day, you had a dozen years

and a life to come. Yet duty stalled you

soon, yoked you to womanhood.

When Maggie died you were bound

to fill her ill-fitting, grown-up’s shoes.

 

Ceinwen Haydon

Clara Vale, Tyne and Wear

 

*

 

The Youth I Saw

 

Walking on the downs,

I saw your ghost lightly come

Out of shadow, where a blackthorn

Cuts into the sun.

 

I knew it was a ghost

For it made no dent,

Pressed no scent

From the wild thyme it trod upon.

 

Where were you when I saw him?

Sitting proud, swivelling round,

Executive’s smile stretched wide

To hide the hollow left behind.

 

The youth I saw.

Slender, transparent,

Would three times fit

Into your bland, middle-aged corpulence.

 

Lynne Munn

London, NW6

 

*

 

Portway

 

“Breath the nice air,”

he said, leaning across

the adjustable chair

and shoving a flexible mask

over my nose and mouth.

I started to gag

biting down hard

on a rubber bung

he’d previously shoved

between my teeth

and tongue.

 

Slowly the lights

went out

and a weird dream about Telstar

zoomed in and out

together with a soundtrack;

keyboard music blasted out,

then a creaking, grinding sound

entered my brain.

It creaked, stopped

and creaked again

followed by a sudden

snap. . .

 

And through a haze of fog

a voice was heard.

“wake up,” it said

“there’s a good lad,”

as consciousness returned

with a blood-filled mouth.

 

I made a hasty retreat

with parent in-tow

dripping gore along the pavement

on the way home.

 

David Pike

Swindon, Wiltshire

 

*

 

Happenstance

 

Haphazard, we borrow time, no planning ahead. Teeth touch, birdsong bittersweet under a wan sun. Distant city towers shimmer towards a future, our cars coupled at the end of another rutted track. Mishaps could frighten her off, my dread.

 

We swoon, sequestered in a grassy glade before the trail bike in trees beyond this bower. Then a bang.  Silence detonated. A machine-gunner taken out by a mortar. Her alarm shakes me but I must offer aid.

 

A slim boy immobilised by shock, a broken wrist. I show how to support it, walk him home to his happy family secluded close by, unlike us. Her emergence, blouse buttoned, surprises him as I haul his bent bike past our interrupted tryst.

 

If he lives that boy is middle-aged, not so slim. Does his wrist ache, catching his heart off-guard, remind him of us, faceless now, ghostlike, consequences of risk it takes years to understand, the rush he felt, energy pulsating under him?

 

Ian C. Smith,

Sale, Vic, 3850, Australia

 

*

 

Long and Flat

 

The back surface of roads

the lost brother of travel

the flats where crossroads

connect unevenly in chaos

a point of standing

stranded out of position

 

rest areas,

concrete tables

chained garbage cans

a sterile living room

absent of comfort.

 

cars park

lovers confess secrets

while drinking warm beer

 

there’s a casual theft of beliefs

and unsung anthems

voices of forgiveness

rise in vertical lines

 

the heart of the desert

is a cold hand.

 

Roger Singer

Mashpee, MA, USA

 

*

 

Folly

 

This is the place.

The gentle mound beside the reservoir,

the wall of ivy-eaten stone

that separates nothing from no one,

the tower on which no soldier ever stood.

Once, there were dragons here;

with my plastic sword I stormed the castle,

saving princesses from evil kings.

 

I was a fool to think

these walls would sing to me

the magic of that distant time.

There is no place for chivalry

among the condoms and the empty cans.

I trudge back from the silent stones,

stubbing my toes

upon the bones of dragons.

 

Tim Taylor

Holmfirth, West Yorkshire

 

*

 

Beautiful People

 

Like fighter planes

you carry in your measured lines

some subtle code that transcends mere geometry.

Whoever made you knew that power is beauty

and beauty power.

What witless scribe created us,

the great unblessed, to cast ourselves

as gifts about your feet? Graciously

you wear our hearts like jewels for a while

but later, with a yawn, release them and speed on

like fighter planes

that strut so prettily across the sky

committing exquisite murder.

 

Tim Taylor

 

*

 

Splash, or Zen in America

 

Sitting on a bench, my puppy at my feet,

I’m watching a teenage boy

Across the small pond from me, fishing

Next to the No Fishing sign.

With his headset on, he’s unaware of us and the alligator

Measuring him from the middle of the water.

 

His eyes fixed on his bobber,

He drifts in reverie,

When suddenly an osprey screeches out of the sky

And splashes into the water not more than ten feet from him

Before curling away over his head with its prize in its talons.

 

At which the boy never lifts his head.

The former teacher in me would like to ask him what he’s listening to,

What’s so engrossing he ignored this insight into the nature of things.

 

But whether it’s an angry rapper’s brag about slapping his favorite bitch,

Or Beethoven’s Ninth,

I’d tell him it can’t compare to what he just missed.

 

But as I stand up,

I realize my meddling days are over.

All I have left is cleaning up after my dog and going home.

 

Ron Yazinski

Winter Garden, Florida, USA

 

* * *

 

Return to Home Page

 

June 2018 (87 editions in total)

 

35th edition as a webzine, see below.

 

Poets listed in surname alphabetical order.

 

* * *

 

Poem Index

 

Cross Examination – Frank De Canio

 

And they are – Ken Cumberlidge

 

Inviolate – Michael Jennings

 

Through Train – Michael Jennings

 

Fourth base – Sean Lause

 

Leftover leaves – Sean Lause

 

Catechism – Cliff J. Middleton

 

At Sea Palling – the late Tim Noble

 

Between and Beyond – David Pike

 

Bird – Julie Sampson

 

Clothes Maketh – Fiona Sinclair

 

The Lament of Planets – Meg Smith

 

The Moon’s Responsibility – Sunita Thind

 

*

 

Cross Examination  

 

“I want you to keep your hands

behind your head,” she shouted.

“I’m gonna start pulling you out.”

Her ominous tone resonating

from a megaphone

could have come from a policewoman

poised to take in a perp.

This didn’t sit too well with me.

But I was lying down, in no position

to resist her imposition,

with all of its carnal undertones.

But pulling me from the cellular probes

of the Pet Scan inferred she was less

an officer of the law than a lifeguard 

drawing me out of the engulfing waves

of radiation, where I could have drowned,

onto safe and solid ground. Or perhaps

they were waves from the watery womb

of positron emissions, where she played midwife.

Thus, she freed me from my foetal position,

tied to the umbilicus of the circular tomb,

in preparation for a second birth.

 

Frank De Canio

Union City, NJ, USA

 

*

 

And they are

Damn, I love it here in Summer

– here being slightly more (or less,
depending on which way you've come)
than halfway round this river-hugging
strip of nearly-not-quite-park,

location of my favourite bench,
the old one with the rusty frame:
shy on slats, big on graffiti…
fag butts… beer cans… Rizla packs.

There are newer, tidier perches
– plenty of them – every twenty
yards or so along the water's
crooked, city-skirting curl

but they're all either too much in the
sun / too shady / too far from the
path / too close / too something else.
Goldilocks, that's me:

resting up my temperamental,
needs-an-operation-but-the
way-things-are-I'll-die-before-it
ever-fucking-happens knee

and watching willows on the far bank
doing their shampoo advert thing.
You know: the slo-mo lolling head-toss,
'cos they're worth it.  And they are.

Dog in tow, of course – just out of
sight right now, but she'll be somewhere
hereabouts, swum otter-sleek,
contented, self-contained:

nosing round the bins, most likely,
checking out the lamp-post bloggers,
blithely unconcerned that she's been
dead these seven months.

 

Ken Cumberlidge

Norwich

 

*

 

Inviolate

 

Outside the doors you pause and look around

and seeing me, put away your phone.

I try to offer help but you shake your head,

pale, unsteady, you manage on your own.

 

Tests, monitors, scans, invasive probes,

exploring hands.  Ha!  No matter how exact,

no man or instrument could ever delve

as deep as you.  “Let’s go,” you say, your mystery intact.

 

Michael Jennings

Keyworth, Nottinghamshire

 

*

 

Through Train

 

The brown boughs

breathe their blossom once again.

White clouds torn from Winter

are put to flight by flapping crows.

 

Words!  How capture that?

No paint, no photograph,

no pipe or rippling keys will do,

and the memory fades.

 

Nothing captures life –

each moment’s born and gone:

forget the scrapbook of the brain,

it’s impossible to lay a finger on.

 

We’re on a through train,

the world goes by

no getting off, no returning,

leaving all behind.

 

Michael Jennings

 

*

 

Fourth base

  

Our diamond was gold and soft as rosin,
good for sliding,
yet for every run we made we nearly died.

 

For our diamond had a single flaw,
a fourth base no one ever touched,
but each had to pass on his way to glory.

 

I loved the sure, straight lines,
the sweet smell of my pitcher’s glove,
the sound of crickets written through the grass.

 

The rules we knew by heart,
but when you passed that fourth base,
you crossed yourself twice or you died.

 

A perfect line, invisible but there,
to St. Gerard’s fire escape, where
Mary Croix hanged herself in mystery.

 

That was fourth base.

 

Still I return here, late at night,
when moonlight wounds my heart to memory,
cross myself, forgive that metal skeleton,
then walk the bases, one by one,
those high and hopeful errands we once ran
that seemed to forever promise home.

 

Sean Lause

Bluffton, Ohio, USA

 

*

  

Leftover leaves

 

The winter pulls back in fear and wonder,
unveiling green, and busy wings,
but the leftover leaves are lost and homeless,
and scuttle about like crabs.

 

How many winters have I left?
I can count behind but not ahead.
Leftover leaves scrape their empty questions.
What hand unblessed can save them from the void?

 

Now I let them creep close, closer,
daring to be near.
Let the wind invoke them into flight,
seeking an origin in empty air.

 

At night the wind, the bone-aching wind,
returns.  Candlelight bends like a praying nun.
The leftover leaves whirl hopeless through the dark,
and I must learn the wind has many wings.

 

Sean Lause

 

*

 

Catechism

 

I will not conform.

Like a wild pig

I will filthy your clean washing,

root in the garbage dumps

and write all my letters by hand.

 

I will phlegm in the face of “reason”

like a miner who refuses

the pit-head baths.

 

I will read books on the Pope’s forbidden list

and admire below the belt paintings

- with associated activities.

 

I will ignore non-communication and disinformation.

I will ask officials questions about emotional intelligence.

I will tell professional politicians they have sat too long

for the good of democracy, and to find honest work.

 

I will use expletives when I pray.

I will pillory all entrenched acquiescence...

in the sure and certain knowledge I may fail.

 

Cliff J. Middleton

Bad Grund, Harz, Germany

 

*

 

At Sea Palling

 

At Sea Palling, the sea's a land

swallower; takes choppy moon

bites out of eastern England;

wills down the crumbs of coast

with draughts of bitter waves.

 

Small and serious we played

hide and seek there in spiky grass,

on the dusty strand; saved

all Norfolk a hundred times

from famine, fear and flood

 

with Dinky excavators, spades

and trucks. We built strong dykes in

dunes until boys and toy blades

were clogged with grit. Bundled

home to wash away the noise

 

of air, sea and machines; then filled

with tea, toast and buns, we lay

awake, ear to ear, quiet and still,

while warring warriors of waves

fought all night for our caravan.

 

From Kings Lynn to Lowestoft,

a berserk invasion from the north

whips white horses to the soft

cliffs each year; in 'fifty three, made sea

fields above the bleak contour of surf.

 

So, at Sea Palling, father built steel

groynes to slow the long-shore drift.

They're still there now, like keels

of raiding boats with rusty strakes:

boys' nightmares in the barrow dunes.

 

Perhaps we thought he'd stand

as in the photo: always Canute-like,

engineer against the enemies of tides.

But now, half-concealed, feet on shifting sand,

each day's a nightmare from which he seeks to hide.

 

The late Tim Noble

Leigh-on-Sea

 

*

 

Between and Beyond

 

If you close your eyes

you can’t see it, or anything

come to that,

but have no doubt

it’s still there

a few yards awry,

a blur on the periphery

a flickering blanch

of the human eye,

something you discern,

loitering, pervading

and are anxious to deny

 

. . . there it reclines,

an uninvited guest,

always close at hand

whispering, chattering

moving things around,

speaking an archaic language

you partially understand

and have no desire to hear

 

a voice, a tinnitus noise

nestling in your ear

in the small hours,

cold and unclear

persistent -

ever present, near,

there but not there

hanging around, fixated

on the living

though not living itself

 

roaming the land.

 

David Pike

Swindon, Wiltshire

 

*

 

Bird

Your grass is too long
you say slamming the car door,
why don’t you cut it?
Your garden’s
a real mess.


 
I look at your bedraggled hair
wanting to tug it hard
then the wren skips
from under the trellis
into the universe of grass
and in my head, it sings.

 

Julie Sampson

Taunton, Somerset

 

*

 

Clothes Maketh  

 

I fell for your cashmere overcoat first. 

It promised middle class mores, 

corroborated by your opening coffee shop door,  

helping off my coat, pulling out chair. 

Divested, revealed effort made with 

black ‘slacks’ and grey crew neck sweater, 

After previous odd jobbers, my out breath 

at ‘engineer’ a proper profession. 

Your narrative honed of course over many such meet ups 

but me always hooked by a good story,  

sat savouring my cappuccino and your boy’s own adventures. 

So, did not notice the carefully redacted personal details.  

  

Later I learned the coat was charity shop treasure, 

purchased as a defence against British winters. 

Years working in Australia, Saudi, Malaysia 

your body’s thermostat had default set to 40 degrees … 

But by Spring as we peeled off layers  

I found the coat leant you this air of respectability, 

your past’s un-expurgated version 

colourful as a Grayson Perry tapestry 

that made for nodding acceptance  

of my own Hogarthian history.  

 

And something about my prodigal wardrobe 

awakened your slumbering dandy, 

Crombies, dapper with a hint of dodgy,  

replaced the great coat’s propriety, 

augmented by mirrored shades, gangster shoes,  

primary v necks, all revealing your true colours. 

Yet at times you still don overcoat responsibility,  

insisting I cut up credit cards and ‘save up’ for treats, 

whilst Crombied you play the gentlemen crook in B and Q…

 

Fiona Sinclair

Faversham, Kent

 

*

 

The lament of planets

 

It's all the philosophers,

imploring

"whither goest thou,

strangers in wandering?"

They follow a place, a path,

sure, and in degrees,

but cannot offer solace,

or destiny.

Only light,

unwavering light.

 

Meg Smith

Lowell, MA, USA

 

*

 

The Moon’s Responsibility

 

Her face is a burnished massacre.

A diaphanous smile.

Glittering in enormity.

Grazing on the cult below.

Worshippers are her responsibility.

Eyes, shimmering transmitters.

Tin foil is her light,

Apparition, virgin

Wax and wane.

Exhausted of her responsibility.

Hearing unintelligible homo sapien squawks below.

Scouring an indigo sea with illuminated wisdom.

Marble heavy, exhausted of myths.

Cerberus licks her with inflamed tongue.

Radiation white.

Sunless clouds, bloom magenta.

Ignited by nightingale and lullaby.

She is calcium and religion.

Plummeting to the stars.

Sucking nourishment from oceanic pearls.

Scratching away Lucifer.

Glittering and digesting angels.

Engorging herself on their sparkling souls.

It is her responsibility.

 

Sunita Thind

Chellasto, Derby

 

Return to Home Page

 

* * *

 

Poem Index

 

March 2018 (86 editions in total)

 

34th edition as a webzine, see below.

 

Poets listed in surname alphabetical order.

 

* * *

 

Poem Index

 

Everything - Marc Carver

 

After the Damage was Permanent - Michael H. Brownstein

 

Listening - Holly Day

 

Staying Alive - Milton P. Ehrlich

 

Apprehensions - E A M Harris

 

Removal of Edges - David Pike

 

Wasted - Ian C. Smith

 

*

 

Everything

 

Welcome

to the cleverest idiot who ever lived

I am clever

because I know what you want

and an idiot because I give it to you

so come on

tell me what you want

and I will tell you

what you really want

altogether 

everything

 

Marc Carver

Basingstoke, Hampshire

 

*

 

After the Damage was Permanent

 

Dirty grey-white scuttles of gush,

Early small piles of pollen,

Reptilians in dry cleaner suits.

 

Yesterday fire burst free from the breasts of two robins,

A rush of red sparkled across the feathers of a lone cardinal

And a beetle took its first tentative steps across concrete.

 

Today a rainbow of sun reached

Above the coyote howls

Melting into a mix of mask and mist.

 

These are the last days of the season,

The drinking water no longer clear,

Blood waters gathering near the outhouse, near the rotten leftovers.

 

Michael H. Brownstein

 

*

 

Listening

 

In the shadows of derelict trains, four bloody fingertips tumble into a pile
disordered as books balanced on the head of a sad librarian. The donor,
arms around God, will remind you of these fingertips on the day you meet her
on your first sunrise as a fresh body in the morgue
on that day you believe you will be able to go anywhere

 

because of the few memorable good deeds
you’ve performed, your repeated acts
of contrition.
 
When you get tired of carrying her fingers in your pocket
pretending that you were the one who severed them from her hand in some bizarre
rite of manhood, you will have to find a new place to hide them
perhaps in the folds of a stranger’s sofa, a dentist’s lobby, stuffed
in the cavity of a patient during open heart surgery, in the bottom
of the kitchen trash.

 

Holly Day

Minneapolis, USA

 

*

 

Staying Alive

Creeping toward my ninth decade

like a mercenary commando,

I watch my friends fall by the wayside—

victims of myriad diseases—dementia,

alcohol abuse, and black dog depression.

My nails keep growing like the forest

in my nose and ears—but my body shrinks,

and I can’t scamper up hills as fast as before.

All my elderly friends worry more about how

they die than the reality of leaving this world.

My vision blurs as I recall teaching my old friend

how to drive his newly acquired 47’Studebaker.

I can hear another friend joke about discovering

the perfect diet—the side effects of leukaemia.

He claims he’s ready to die since he did everything

he wanted to do—rode down the Colorado rapids

and saw all the birds on the Galapagos Islands.

I don’t care to travel anywhere or see anything—

just want to sit back and listen to Dvorak’s Largo,

played on the English horn, embracing the love of my life

until I can no longer wipe my own ass.

 

Milton P. Ehrlich

Leonia, NJ, USA

 

*

 

Apprehensions

 

I wakes in t’dark o’ early; takes

its time, in winter, does the dawn.

Premonitions pack the shadders

with tails to heads and white, just like

them tinned sardines – prefers the big

fish I does: more body, less sneak.

Them’s not nightmares, I knows the difference.

 

From outside I hears the milk-float

drone. It hoovers up portents, motorwards,

then stops at doorsteps ‘n’ coughs ‘em out.

Mine’s hidden by kinky front path

so bad spirits can’t find my door.

 

I gets up; tells me nerves ‘get gone’.

Th’stairs is steep, take ‘em wi’ care!

I stands on t’most bottom tread.

Black omens fill the hall ‘twixt me

and front door. I hears their forecasts,

so dark and dingy, facing futurewards.

 

I tiptoes round the carpet’s edge,

reaches door, gets milk, shuts door.

 

Today is rain – forewarns sorrow.

Yesterday were sunshine – forewarns fear.

 

E A M Harris

Bridgwater, Somerset

 

*

 

Removal of Edges

 

It was more

of a gentle hiss,

a murmur

a hint of tinnitus

as breakers bit

the expansive shore,

rolled back

to rally forth

and hurl a churning mass

of kelp and sand

again, and again

with irresistible force.

 

The distant thrum

boom and hiss

although constant

advances and desists

with the pull of tides,

dragging, lagging,

blasting all

with spume laced

sand -

to drift space, reason,

time and place

beyond the reach

of torpid man.

 

The here and now

is like a grain of tide-worn land,

a minor blip in the vast expanse

that exists, unmarked

in memory

of how we stood, thought

became nought,

and used to be.

 

David Pike

Swindon, Wiltshire

 

*

 

Wasted

 

Fetched up in this wasteland east of civilisation

I walk to the Neighbourhood House where wraiths sidle,

hands pocketed, past tattered plastic, masked

by black or grey hoodies, anonymity’s uniform.

A woman notices me standing under a missing sign.

Is she curious about back stories, or just lonely?

 

Another lost soul, she might speculate about me.

I put her off, see myself as pre-loved,

charity rubbish left out that vanishes like hope.

Tracking back to my rooms I wish we could backtrack

but senses slip time’s warp to ghastly youth,

shards of shriven memory pieced together.

 

What might these denizens of disaster think of me

in happier times awash with family, friends,

sweet life success seen through a social filter,

wonder what catastrophe corresponds with their exile?

Do these streets’ slum-stark reflection of times past

afford glimpsed clues to our shared perdition? 

 

Ian C Smith

Sale, Victoria, Australia

 

Click:  Return to Home Page

 

* * *

 

December 2017 (85 editions in total)

 

33rd edition as a webzine, see below.

 

Poets listed in surname alphabetical order.

 

* * *

 

Poem Index

 

Delirium - Robert Beveridge

 

The Mechanic - Daniel David

 

Phoney Baloney - Michael Jennings

 

Thirst - Gopal Lahiri

 

The Artist - Lynne Munn

 

The Scent of Buddleia - Lynne Munn

 

Eileen, in. . .  David Pike

 

1970s Psychiatric Ward - Belinda Rimmer

 

Blades - Belinda Rimmer

 

Lenses - Ron Yazinski

 

*

 

Delirium

(For Catherynne Valente)

 

It's been so long my feet

know nothing but wander,

sojourn, hump. The road sometimes

 

gravel, sometimes, salt,

one stretch, I swear,

crushed horn,

or perhaps ivory. My destination—

 

was there ever one? If so,

long forgotten. I could find

the source, were I to turn back

 

and follow the trail of prints

in blood, but why? I go on.

I know naught else.

 

Robert Beveridge

Strongsville, OH, USA

 

*

 

The Mechanic   

                                                                                             

Evidently, I was meant to select this particular Monday

to take the car in, alignment, oil change, tires, brakes,

an almost palpable expectation. The mechanic just lost his father.

At the body shop, he unbent fenders, re-attached bumpers,

unaccustomed with death’s bedlam, more comfortable with certainty,

machines, making metal whole again. A big guy with a big truck,

emotion suddenly betrayed him, eyes fragile, voice crumpled,

the rude bewilderment of grief. I admitted I’d been through it,

dead father, dead mother, eulogy for an uncle, blunt, undeniable

body, ghastly funeral to-do list, the stark confrontation with

our dilemma. I offered a few scrawny thoughts. Did he notice?

I could easily weep for him. Usually two stoic men, we couldn’t

ignore the lapse of compassion, a momentary pact between us.

 

Daniel David

Berlin Heights, OH, USA

 

*

 

Phoney Baloney

 

Sometimes I phoned,

sometimes I wandered round to have a cuppa.

And when I phoned a posh bloke spoke:

when I called round it was his over-anxious brother.

 

I went away.

When I came back I phoned once more –

a different person spoke.

I wandered round.  No longer were things as before.

 

A wise man lived there now.

Within himself he’d made those brothers fit.

He didn’t rate himself too high,

nor underrate himself one bit.

 

Michael Jennings

Keyworth, Nottinghamshire

 

*

 

Thirst

 

Heavy rain all day, greenish black puddles, the pavement

Littered with broken glass chips, plastic packets, bottles

Shelters hardly make a difference;

Between tenement dwellers and street people

Someone is waiting.

 

Window shades pulled down, shutters closed in shops

In the narrow lane.

Not many faces, only a few, singing silence,

The sound of footsteps fade away.

Sometimes you cry, sometimes not.

 

Spilling over trash bin, stray dogs have a field day,

Graffiti marked damp walls.

On the other side, the sidewalk is

Slathered with silt sludge, cow-dung.

 

In absence of sun, only a murky grey sky stays,

Streetlights are on, a few of them require a fuse check.

From nowhere, long dim shadows lengthen, 

Dried riverbeds go live, swelling tides

Take nothing with you.

 

Padlocked shacks, windowless tin boxes,

excrement on the road. The homeless,

Naked, slum children are there on the road,

Waiting for the clouds to drain the last drop of rain.

 

Thirst quenched.

 

Gopal Lahiri

Mumbai, India

 

*

 

The Artist

 

His palette knife weighted with vermillion,

Spreads sunset on a leaden, wintry sky,

Sinuous swirls ochre

And skeins of wild geese fly.

 

Thick strokes of burnt sienna and noble trees,

bereft of leaves, rise from the frozen earth,

Bony branches crossed in prayer

For vanquished spring again to stir.

 

All the land lies desolate and drear

Under winter’s harsh, relentless tread,

But colour riots in an artist’s hands,

And poetry ferments in his doomed head.

 

Lynne Munn

London

 

*

 

The Scent of Buddleia

 

Ladybird, ladybird, crawling so slow up and down

The sealed window of this air conditioned, office tomb,

How did such a lovely bug as you,

With lustrous orange wings, black-spotted,

And exquisitely folded, get trapped inside

When all of sultry summer swoons outside.

 

Even here, in the city, are signs of its stay,

However temporary that may be,

Orderly squares with close cropped grass,

And uniform flowerbeds, under firm control

Of professional gardeners, peeved to see

Random weeds, shooting up unrestrainedly,

Riotously, and far too closely,

Between the joins of bordering paving stones.

 

In a matchbox at lunch time I’ll carry you to the river,

To an abandoned building not far from the Tower,

And there release you on to a scented bough

Of purple-blossomed buddleia, burgeoning,

Running wild in a long untended, tangled garden.

Later, back in the air conditioned office tomb,

The lingering, heady scent of buddleia on my hands,

Will, I fear, disturb and distract all the afternoon.

 

Lynn Munn

 

*

 

Eileen, in. . .

 

“. . . and then

in front of everyone

she called me

a fat slag,

all over social media.

It was like a bloody great

sordid poster

and I’ll get the bitch

for this,

dissing me,

the scrawny cow

calling me things

out loud,

when I’m not fat

either.

I can see her now

in my mind

with her rolling baccy

and a stonking great behind

perched on a plastic sofa,

in a beer stained lounge

dissing everyone on media

who’s better than her;

because it’s jealousy

you see,

she doesn’t like me

for some reason

or other,

now that I’m seeing her ex

on alternate days

between someone who used to be

a friend of a friend

and a cousin of her mother.”

 

David Pike

Swindon, Wiltshire

 

*

 

1970s Psychiatric Ward

 

Foggy with cigarette smoke,

lines of high backed chairs.

Doughy faces,

half-dead eyes,

pill-rolling fingers.

Clunk, clunk of ECT machine.

Full throttled laughter.

 

Daytime nurses

in thin nylon uniforms

play Scrabble,

argue against voices.

 

At night cockroaches crawl

over ash-soaked carpets.

 

Hit squads at the flick of a switch

to hold down eruptions of madness –

devils emerge from Largactil infused sleep.

 

Dawn is worse.

Light picks out rows of tablets

and ward books full of names

that never roll off the tongue

but smudge the page like blood

on freshly laundered linen.

 

Behind the hospital

old shackles and dungeons

once housed the 'insane' –

Penny Row : penny a view. 

 

Belinda Rimmer

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

 

*

 

Blades

 

After her husband left

for work her thoughts turned

to long curved blades.

 

Only if she flipped the knives

a certain way could she let them stay

in the drawer,

covered with a tea towel,

seeing in each one

a flash of what she might do.

 

Her son knew nothing of her fear,

how she imagined

her hand slipping to pierce

his little heart

under chubby white skin,

smug with newness.

 

He came home wrapped

in a yellow blanket

to match his jaundiced skin;

not an easy baby.

 

To soothe him she played

Paul Simon records

in the front room

far away from those sharp edges.

 

When his curls fell into knots

she didn't untangle them –

too afraid one small hurt

could lead to another.

 

She scratched his name

into the wooden window frame,

a talisman. Still those knives

haunted her, day and night,

an unvoiced shadow.

 

Belinda Rimmer

 

*

 

Lenses 

 

In a fifty-year-old photograph

Of my grandmother’s 75 birthday party,

I see my parents and aunts and uncles, all with drinks in hand, all smiling;

 

Like embroidery around the fringes,

Are my brothers and cousins, including two no one remembers.

In total, there are almost seventy-five of us.

 

But I’m focusing on my own myopic eyes,

College-aged, arrogantly confused, romantic;

Standing in the back row,

Staring through the camera, as if at my future self;

Convinced some great truth lies in the next Dylan album,

Or in rereading Chuang-Tzu;

That with enough discipline and study,

I’d find wisdom, and with it, a peaceful heart.

 

And I wonder if I had seen these ancient eyes

Staring back at me then,

How things would have changed,

Knowing that even if understanding exists,

I’d grow too old to care.

 

Ron Yazinski

Winter Garden, Florida, USA

 

Return to Home Page

 

September 2017 (84 editions in total)

 

32nd edition as a webzine, see below.

 

Poets listed in surname alphabetical order.

 

* * *

 

Poem Index

 

Forward Retreat - Caroline Am Bergris

 

Summer Sun - Purabi Bhattacharya

 

Sons - Daniel Galvin

 

Digging - Daniel Galvin

 

At Sixteen, My Neighbourhood - John Grey

 

Pause for Tales - E A M Harris

 

A Suet Pudding - Lynne Munn

 

Errant Daughter - Lynne Munn

 

Still Thinking - David Pike

 

*

 

Forward Retreat 

 

I'm going for a retreat inside my head

from where I need a retreat

here the curtains rebound, lightbulbs switch on twice

and the backdoor key disappears after each use.

The quiet of apartfrom

is visited by the whiff of stillwith.

Magazines and papers

work to take me away

from door knocks, torch checks, and no hangers.

Let me think about wine and fashion,

not tea and incontinence.

Let me be my educated self,

rocked by raw eloquence,

rash civility,

rude style.

 

Caroline Am Bergris

Northolt, London

 

*

 

Summer Sun

 

When I walked out that day in the summer sun, I had not ever seen

     the pallid with pain.

It was a necromantic day, a day full of signs

                            strange.

Mad rush, chaotic street

screaming words

aperitif enough for the bystanders,

         hungry.

There was space between the hospital beds

and

         there was waiting,

for men to become

bodies;

filed,

and fed to woodpiles.

 

Purabi Bhattacharya

Gujarat, India

 

*

 

Sons

 

we got to talking about fights with our old men

stories about soft-as-shit young fellas who didn’t want to work

featuring mothers that deserved better

and fathers hard as bone

 

It was all face offs in blustery paddocks and shit-smothered bull pins

curses wetting chins with spit

no one around for miles to be shocked

no woman pleading for peace

 

one of the Fathers threw stones at his son

until the son cracked him onto the hoof-bitten turf

then sprinted the half-mile home

heart a ragged gasp in his throat

muscles on fire with power and fear

 

then one Dad, in pure spite, caught his son in one hand

and an electric fence in the other

so the current jolted through him, shocking them both

we had a good laugh at that

 

the characters were all the same

everyone hard-done by

everyone presumably forgiven in the end

 

we all forgave our fathers to each other

numb on wine in the stifling city

 

Dad probably forgave me to himself

in the months he walked the half-mile alone

 

Daniel Galvin

Galway, Ireland

 

*

 

Digging

For the Kinsale gang

 

if we scatter across the world

into loneliness, money, delirium

stranger kinds of love

 

with the friendships we placed on pause

ticking away from our minds

leaking out our hearts

 

then find each other later

lifed beyond all recognition

and nothing at all like the children

doing a sun-faded dance in our memory

 

could we take

our strangers’ hands and voices

and go digging for laughter again?

 

Daniel Galvin

 

*

 

At Sixteen, My Neighbourhood

 

All morning, the woman

moves about the house,

still in her bathrobe.

Her husband left at sunrise

 

for his job in the foundry.

I sit on my stoop across the street.

She comes to the window

from time to time,

 

looks out for the mailman

for some reason I don't understand.

I'm indifferent to letters.

She seems to live for them.

 

Maybe a secret lover writes.

She still has most of her looks

and there's a shape inside

there somewhere.

 

It can't be family.

Nobody's that anxious

to share in old grudges.

And she's certainly not

 

holding out for more bills.

I figure that she's at that age

where she has everything

she ever wanted

 

and she just plain

misses wanting it.

She waves to me

like she's admitting

 

to this clandestine affair

with her mysterious correspondent.

I wave back.

See. I knew I was right.

 

John Grey

Johnston, RI, USA

 

*

 

Pause for Tales

 

The bus-stop wait in acid wind

drove us into the treasury

where old yarns lie shelved

in boxes painted anecdotally.

 

Long words in long memorials,

our tales stalked the aisles,

took stock of our common stock, found

at each corner a rotating quibble.

 

You stipple your experience

with stencils of actual.

Can we agree – approximate

better suits your pique –

 

facts abrade our sepia scenes

in mixed recalls,

are they mine? are they yours? Please respray

each time we meet.

 

E A M Harris

Bridgwater, Somerset

 

*

 

A Suet Pudding

 

Wrapped in a cloth and tied with string,

The suet-pudding all morning has been simmering

In a black, iron pan lodged against the fire.

When Ma lifts it out, steam rises in a cloud

To her harassed face and lustrous hair, smoothly bound.

 

She puts it on a plate, unties the string,

Then gingerly peels away the hot cloth, revealing

The pudding, round, naked and glistening

Like a sun-bathed, newly whitewashed wall.

We children are now slavering.

 

When sliced, the inside is a golden honeycomb

Bees might envy, made even more toothsome

Topped with a dollop of gooey, shiny syrup, melting

Seeping into each tiny hollow with succulent sweetness.

Silence now reigns, except for sporadic purrs of happiness.

 

Looking back, and dwelling on the of-times strife,

And sometimes calm of this roller-coaster life.

I find it strange with so much beauty and ugliness to see,

Why a simple, syrup-soaked suet pudding

Should so long linger in the memory.

 

Lynne Munn

London, NW6

 

*

 

Errant Daughter

 

Often I saw you lean

from your bedroom window,

To touch with wandering hands

Laburnum blossoms, swaying

Like lanterns in the wind.

Now I hear it wail

Outside your empty room.

Where, where have you gone?

In which dark night

Did you shape this wound?

 

Whose hand will sever

The swelling bud,

Make void the oldest bond.

Oh! who will hear you

When you cry aloud?

 

Now branches, leaf bereft,

Stretch to a desolate sky

While winter covers with its shroud

Laburnum blossoms, rotting,

Rotting in the ground.

 

Lynne Munn

 

*

 

Still Thinking

 

2.55 a.m.

awake, again;

bathed in weak

bedside light,

too tired to read

too wired to

sleep,

just thinking,

always thinking

redrafting, tweaking

 

with a notebook,

pencil,

pen.

 

David Pike

Swindon, Wiltshire

 

 

Link: Return to Home Page

 

*

 

June 2017 (83 Editions in Total)

 

31st Edition as a webzine, see below.

 

Poets listed in no particular order.

 

* * *

 

 

Poem Index

 

Love at First Sight - Stephen Philip Druce

 

The Murmur of the Goose Machine - Stephen Philip Druce

 

Supermarket Love Song - Michael Jennings

 

Classmates - Michael Estabrook

 

Glittering Fragments - Lynne Munn

 

Wild Wood of Youth - Lynne Munn

 

General Selection - David Pike

 

Tynemouth Priory - Phil Powrie

 

Freudian Slips - Fiona Sinclair

 

*

 

Love at First Sight

 

He fell in love

with a lady he’d seen

standing in a shop window.

 

He didn’t drool over

the usual body parts that

many men do - he appreciated

the more understated qualities

of her female form.

 

She had tastiest pair of

ankles he’d ever seen - like

unclimbed mountains so pure

she would never have allowed

an expedition of rookie climbers

with inadequate equipment to

stomp all over her tender gristle

bone - leaving their rubbish around

her feet, disrespecting her newly tanned

ankle surface, her leggy cloaks of smooth

golden flesh.

 

The sight of her nostrils drove him

berserk. He ripped his shirt off and chewed

the pavement until the police arrived.

He told the officer he was fine and that

it was the irresistible sight of her mystical

nasal hair and snot that had prompted such

an uncharacteristic display of unbridled passion.

 

He fell on his knees and thanked the lord

when he saw the aesthetic wonderment of her

bright red fingernails painted without any smudges -

“Picasso who?” he said.

 

He walked into the shop to declare his love

for her and realised she was a plastic window dress model.

 

Stephen Philip Druce

Shrewsbury

 

*

 

The Murmur of the Goose Machine

 

Behind the shuttered rapture

the raconteur pours a diamond sun.

 

Did you hear the murmur

of the goose machine?

 

As you slunk astride rackety

fruit stall - gorged on shrieked

spleen to its riotous belly,

 

did you clamour to such book flesh,

as trumpeting foxes leapt from

dead chapters on paper horses?

 

did you warn the night fox

of the snapped twig?

 

For the storm preacher, did you

run with drumming hounds upon

drunken daisies splashed in carnival wine?

 

Or did you turn and face

the dust in the cruel wind?

 

Stephen Philip Druce

 

*

 

Supermarket Love Song

 

You’ve passed your prime, it’s true dear Pearl,

your figure has a certain dumpling look,

but still I won’t abandon you, no matter what.

 

Your hands have veins, that’s nothing much,

and your catwalk dreams are gone,

but, Pearl, you’re human when all is said and done.

 

I shun the check-out next to yours

because, I’ll tell you this –

it’s a self-serving monster, that’s what it is.

 

I love you Pearl, you look me in the eye;

sometimes you’re ill and take time off:

you’re human through and through, and that’s enough.

 

Michael Jennings

Keyworth, Nottinghamshire

 

*

 

Classmates

 

Not sure why he likes having us around, he’s

a successful academic, photographer, singer,

a Renaissance man, a perfectionist

with a million interests and friends.

We don’t bring anything special

to the party except

for being high school classmates

from 50 years back. Perhaps that’s

the attraction we remind him

of innocence and hope before getting caught

in life’s undertow

of divorce and disease, duty and drama.

 

Michael Estabrook

Acton, Massachusetts, USA

 

*

 

Glittering Fragments

 

Old companion, twin reveller in youth’s riotous ferment,

By chance we meet after a long lapse of years,

In a car-congested, city street, and for a while

Chat about wives, children, and coping with retirement.

 

We talk and smile, though inwardly awash with pity,

Each for the other, when comparing how we were,

Wild with aspiration, heady with dreams,

And the certainty of their ultimate reality.

 

Cruel to disinter them from where they now lie,

In the measureless burial-ground of shattered hopes.

So neither from you nor I, let escape one word

About being young, ardent, and in our heyday.

 

Tacitly, only on the surface do we choose

To skate, and deeper forbear to probe,

Fearful, by mischance, to unearth the glittering fragments

Of those fragile baubles, life determined to bulldoze.

 

Lynne Munn

London, NW6

 

*

 

Wild Wood of Youth

 

Wild wood of youth that sheltered

Squirrel, mole and badger,

Torn apart by bulldozer,

Beaten down by tractor.

 

On its grave, players now disport their girth

Nimbly on tomb of celandine, of willow herb,

Shrilling love-fifteen, fifteen love,

Into the silence left by chaffinch, left by dove.

 

Where owl outstared the moon,

And with his haunting cry

Made lovers blood run cool,

Now tea-cups rattle in the afternoon.

 

Lynne Munn

 

*

 

General Selection

 

Don’t jig me

about,

or give me any

of your edicts,

you know,

the stuff you

continually spout

about this and

that,

claiming things will

happen

and that predicted change

will come about –

 

because you’re a

would-be politician

of the orange, red,

blue,

attempting to amaze

and proposition,

until the counting

is over,

and the truth

comes through.

 

David Pike

Swindon, Wiltshire

 

*

 

Tynemouth Priory

In all those years I never once went
into Tynemouth Priory.
I knew I should;
quite frankly, I was never monk material.

But, Father, bless me, for I have sinned.
I did walk along the pier behind the ruins,
pointed like an accusing finger
at the land of the Vikings.

I designed longboats.
I drank God Lager from the skulls of my enemies.
I dreamt of fair-braided maidens called Inga

or Gudren.


Phil Powrie

Portsmouth, Hampshire

 

*

Freudian Slips

 

Occasionally, as you hang wall paper OCD smooth,

eyeball laptop screen to see which odds will blink first,

back pain strain with electric saw to fell light thieving trees,

previous women’s names slip out and slap me.

And I begin to realise that despite your initial Bryan Adam’s

declaration, which I accepted like winning a major prize,

you have always mistaken depth for difference.

The biker blonde exciting lust, the little girl lost invoking a

shinning knight, the younger stunner turning your head…

So I bet initially you said that to all us girls.

 

As living together brings you round

from my first entrance Ker-pow!

that temporarily knocked out memories of exs,

I now compare with nail quick smart my USP worth

against the model, the teacher, the nurse,

scab pick my ranking amongst them.

Behind I think, the name that slips out most

from your subconscious like a photo hidden in a wallet.

The sweet one, who never went off with a better offer,

who brought you trout as a treat for tea,

who fell for you long after the flash cash had dried up.

 

But middle aged disappointments are soon shrugged off.

And I catch your knife glint irritation as your own name

frequently competes with that of my gay BF

with whom you share a first consonant and vowel.

Our friendship’s alchemy creating 20 years

‘things just happen to us’ laughter,

with no past’s distance between us, rather the 500 miles

to Manchester, shrunk by Facebook, texts, Skype.

 

Fiona Sinclair

Faversham, Kent

 

Return to Home Page

 

* * *

 

March 2017 (82 Editions in Total)

 

30th Edition as a webzine, see below.

 

Poets listed in alphabetical surname order

 

* * *

 

Poem Index

 

She is Sci-Fi - Stephen Philip Druce

 

It - Robert Dunsdon

 

Hunting and Gathering - Jennie Owen

 

Grimshaw - David Pike

 

Key West Cemetery - Ron Yazinski

 

*

 

She Is Sci-Fi

 

She stripped off her

retro boots - ripped up

her non-descript Sunday suits,

 

trashed her ugly

dresses - burnt

 

the dark cuttings from

her tresses - now short

dyed ocean blue -

 

in futuristic design she

put on some devil horns and

a wrought iron spine of

prickly thorns -

 

square shades and

silver-glittered roller blades,

 

giant collar and shoulder fakes,

face paint and wings of snakes -

open jawed,

 

she flew with higher birds, and

with her sabre sword she carved out

the words in the sky -

 

I am sci-fi.

 

Stephen Philip Druce

Shrewsbury

 

*

 

It

 

Sometimes it was too much on me,

sometimes so tenuously there it seemed it might dissolve,

but I always thought to frame it:

 

to paint it in its shyness with caution

and in its pomp freely, forgetting the art and getting it down

with freshness damp on its face.

 

I thought to understand it, to hang on its every word and worry it;

extemporising hymns, cajoling and persuading it

to reveal more than perhaps was reasonable -

 

and I’ll not desert it;

only regret a complacency

carried far beyond an allowance for youth.

 

It is the whisper in a drift of nettles,

the light off a weather-cock animating a town;

 

it is the kick or benediction taken off a breeze

that is accusative and kind, admonishing and promising the Earth -

 

that over time is fading; over the drip of a thousand compromises thinning

to little more than an idea.

 

Robert Dunsdon

Abingdon, Oxfordshire

 

*

 

Hunting and Gathering

 

The hovering black knot

aligning dawn blush,

beats tension.  Poised to fall

so quickly out of view,

beneath the dot-dash

of moon and jet fuel.

 

Grim and bloody beaked,

I know what you catch

in those grisly talons. 

Crushing  tiny heart-flutters,

leaving a lingering absence

punched into the ozone.

 

Idling a weave along the path

I gather your feathers

from under damp hedgerows.

Finding them curved like boats

floating on mirrored skies.

 

Jennie Owen

Mawdesley, Lancashire

 

*

 

Grimshaw

 

The Grim Reaper

stood at the foot

of my bed

in the early hours,

a time when minutes

are devoured

by comatose heads,

as nocturnal creatures

flit unseen

in the shadow land

between night

and dreams.

 

The grim burglar

jabbed the duvet

with a white finger

and said

“now my friend,”

but in a foreign language,

which I took exception to.

He was no friend

of mine.  I hadn’t

met him before,

nor would wish to.

 

He sighed and reiterated

“now my friend,”

in a strange dialect,

which at the time

I couldn’t comprehend.

 

The Reaper stood

swaying there, standing tall

and all-in-all

appeared the worse for wear,

possibly pissed

and a tad underfed

with clothing that left a lot

to be desired,

clad in a rag-and-bone shroud

that had almost

expired.

 

He remained standing,

glaring around

holding a black metal scythe

which he swung about his head

impressively

as bones clicked randomly

like yellow castanets,

and he mumbled for effect

“now my friend.”

 

I gestured

with a show of hands,

and said “I don’t understand,

what you’re about,

perhaps you could come back

another day,

with someone who speaks English

to interpret what you say?”

 

With that he folded the scythe shut

and with a disgusted grunt

stomped out, muttering

an indecipherable spell

which was hard to comprehend

but as far as I can tell

encompassed chickens

and music

or something similar,

and sounded a bit

like

 

“clucking bell.”

 

David Pike

Swindon, Wiltshire

 

*

 

Key West Cemetery

 

Key West is a good place to consider death;

Christened “Cajo Hueste,” or “Bone Island,”

By the Conquistadores,

It was littered with the remains of Indian forefathers,

Rowed to this spot closest to the setting sun,

Where there was enough fresh water

To supply their next voyage;

 

Now in the Key West Cemetery,

Amid the sounds of bicycle bells and crowing roosters,

Surrounded by bunkers built to keep the newly departed secure,

Until the next big blow washes them out to sea,

I shade my eyes from the glaring sun

With the headstone of “Captain Bob,”

A local sailor and luminary,

Whose marker is topped by a sailboat, tacking into the wind,

Its epitaph reading, “The Adventure continues.”

 

Perhaps, for him, it does,

As it did for the natives before him.

But I’m more like the countless, stranded roosters that scuff this island,

Mazing their way through grave sites,

Strutting as if they’re treading on hot coals,

Scratching the dust and crowing about it.

       

Ron Yazinski,

Winter Garden, Florida , USA

 

Link: Return to Home Page

 

* * *

 

December 2016 (81 Editions in Total)

 

29th edition as a webzine, see below.

 

Poets listed in alphabetical surname order, below

 

* * *

 

Poem Index

 

Ode to Olga - Gregory Santo Arena

 

Fading Pleasure - Gary Beck

 

At Arm's Length - Will Daunt

 

Gulls at Night - Will Daunt

 

Coshton Avenue, 1977 - Daniel David

 

Leaf Blower - Daniel David

 

The Promises in My Garden - Holly Day

 

Letter Not Sent - Michael Jennings

 

The Final Shift - Lynne Munn

 

Gun-Site Kent - Lynne Munn

 

On the High Plains - David Pike

 

Somewhere Among These Things is Part of What We Mean - John Timothy Robinson

 

Other Man's Junk - Ian C. Smith

 

*

 

Ode To Olga

 

 I love you Olga.

To Russia with internet love.

Most beautiful Olga.

Actually I had written it in Italian,

Bellissima Olga.

I do love you, I think, in a fashion...

You said you loved me and wanted to come

And live with me in Italy.

No new messages.

 

Gregory Santo Arena

Bergamo, Italy

 

*

 

Fading Pleasure

 

Culture lovers

are a minority

without rights,

privileges,

just desire

for the arts.

Beethoven is alien

to most humans,

so is Picasso,

T.S. Eliot,

an endless list

of creators

appreciated by fewer

and fewer,

as the Information Age

encourages the spread

of the common denominator.

 

Gary Beck

New York, NY, USA

 

*

 

At Arm’s Length

   

Move back: the building’s been alarmed.

Its doors are closing like a quilt

held close to foil intruder’s arms

and curled around the warmth of day

and dark as some abrupt dead end.

 

Shut down: some daylight risks a last

caress, a tender brush with matt

and gloss that ventures over blind

and vinyl, closing up and close

as breath - or fingers in the dark.

 

Let go: the grey custodian

takes care to set the other dials

to sleep and isolation. Stairs

lead nowhere, coldly, lie alone,

repelling every dark advance.

 

Will Daunt

Ormskirk

 

*

 

Gulls at Night

  

Awake is sleeping fast while still awake

in this vacated harbour town of squalls

where thousands stir if several curse the night

and gulls dispute the wrecks of cod and spud.

 

A dream’s no dream and nightmares lap and lurk

around the idle swing bridge, under lamps,

when brittle sirens break the patterned din

of seabirds marking out their blind terrains.

 

Some loneliness is more when by the sea

against the smoke house, through the undead crowd

or in the withered souvenirs of how

a few may graft where those that fly, hold sway.

 

Will Daunt

 

*

 

Coshocton Avenue, 1977                                                                             

 

In 1977, Jim Teeter played the drums on those pulsing, summer

afternoons when all was loud heat, blunt asphalt, concrete, a few

houses down, on the edge of Coshocton Avenue, thumping on his

little porch, shaking his mother’s house by the shoulders so hard

it might bounce off the foundations. He’d open the window and set

the stereo speakers on the sill, behind his ears, pounding to all

the usual bands, roaring snare, symbols, bass, each blow clashing

with whining tires, bad mufflers, a tumultuous, rhythmic din

of rubber and metal, rubber and metal, each engine a battle, again

and again. I had no guitar, no beat, nothing to whack or wallop;

didn’t know where to stand, whether to slouch or shuffle; wouldn’t

know the band; wasn’t paying attention; after all, I was just now

hearing the tempo of Bach, of Chopin for the first time; I had no

intention of contributing to the clamor. Jim didn’t know his dad;

there was a battered silence on the subject; his drumsticks hammered

at this circumstance. And I had a small, throbbing crush on his mom

after she passed the window in a black bra, but she was always

a mother getting ready for work. My dad and she, thunderously

alone, drifted precariously on the edge of the same street;

however, I was certainly no matchmaker, not in all this racket.

 

Daniel David

Berlin Heights, OH, USA

 

*

 

Leaf Blower                                                                                                  

 

When we were gassing up the tractor, greasing the bailer,

setting twine, Grandpa remarked – and my memory is vivid

as he rarely offered any sort of conversation – and how his

nostalgia was exceptionally earnest that day – an old man

peering into the past, divulging to a young man peering

too far into the future – he said simply, with no elaboration,

that he missed plowing with his team. I guessed,

 

without the clatter of machinery, he heard the sloughing

of earth across steel, the huffing of horses’ breath, the

slight jangle of harness, the easy slap of leather on broad

flanks – their strength gauged in the reins – a soft, rhythmic

thumping of hooves on sod, a lowing of trees in the woods

and the squirrels’ barking there – overhead, the piqued cry

of a hawk evading crows’ beaks, and if you listened acutely,

a popping of buds, the palpable clamor of the sun igniting dew.

 

I recall this past as the wind, up to now, has been timid

in its task. Leaves are loitering at the fence, snagged among

lilies, iris, hibiscus, an aimless carousel whirling around

the birch tree. I know, eventually, the wind will pick up

and using the rake, in the scratching, I might better admire

a singular moment – my mind might wander. However,

I am impatient. The leaf blower, a deafening bluster,

dispatches these vagrants with its artificial tempest.

 

Daniel David

 

*

 

The Promises in My Garden

 

The moth selects the leaf carefully from the others

following some algorithm or philosophy only she knows

lays her eggs on the ribbed, green surface in patterns that seem

either profound or random, depending on the decipherer.

There could be messages for her unborn offspring in the discarded casings

they will soon burst from, perhaps a forwarding address so her children can find her

a map to a treasure of honeysuckle vines and wide, green backyards

religious texts that have been passed from one generation to another.

 

In turn, the leaf reacts in dismay to having the eggs deposited on its surface

begins layering cellular material around the encased larvae, like an oyster or a clam

trying to protect itself from an irritating grain of sand

by creating a pearl, leaving the moth’s original message all but obliterated

by a jungle of thick, green spikes jutting out of the leaf

its formerly flat surface curled and distressed. But perhaps this, too

is part of the moth’s message, the transformation of her words

into a Braille illuminated by the agony of a weed.

 

Holly Day

Minneapolis MN

 

*

 

Letter Not Sent

 

This is not the letter I planned to write –

your problems with next door’s dog,

my trip to Nottingham to buy a shirt,

were surrogates for deeper thought.

 

Thought not deep enough, even now,

that still reflecting on what I could have put,

only a cloudy yearning vagueness

is the result.

 

Elopement?   Well not that for sure,

nor that I am sick with love,

or I wish to take you in my arms

and yet those things contain some truth.

 

It is as if there needs to be

a higher category of close rapport

that leaves the outer world unharmed

and us in an eternal, depthless bond.

 

Michael Jennings

Keyworth, Nottinghamshire

 

*

 

The Final Shift

 

Hang your docker’s hook

For the last time behind the door,

No more faltering through icy dawns

To the fog-bound river, swept by a wind

That cuts like a sabre.

 

No more huddling in crowded pen

Straining to hear your name,

Ravaged and worn your once fine frame,

Younger men are called out now.

 

Sit at home, take your rest,

Wonder sometimes what happened to the beat

Of you, where did it go?

Wrung out drop by drop, bitter drop,

In the dark holds of countless ships,

What have you to show for all of it?

 

Lynne Munn

London, NW6

 

*

 

Gun-Site Kent

 

Night so black, night without stars,

Except the fiery stars of bursting shells

Stalking a singer-seater, enemy plane.

Pinned like a butterfly collector’s item

In the searchlight’s brilliant silver bars,

Until suddenly plummeting out of them

As an eye-searing pennant of flame.

 

I pray the pilot was not young,

Eager and quick, warm and good.

Pray he was ironical and grey,

Weary of flight and fight.

Uncaring if his blood

Pumps into tremulous age,

Or waters the earth this night.

 

Lynne Munn

 

Editor’s note: I hope the above poet won’t mind me noting she mentioned, in correspondence, that during the war she served in the army, on a gun-site on the Kent coast.

 

*

 

On the High Plains

 

A herd of steel

shopping trolleys

gallop and graunch

on castor wheels,

sliding, objecting

on a carpark hill,

squealing obscenities

jostling around

wrangling the angles,

juddering ever down

the ASDA prairie,

 

towards a plastic

corral.

 

David Pike

Swindon, Wiltshire

 

*

 

Somewhere Among These Things is Part of What We Mean

Winter. A country road at night beneath clear sky, stars.
The moon crouches tight in a tree-limb's pocket.
Windows over snow-sloped fields
glow in the softer glow
among icy glitter all around.
And the sound,
that almost soundless sound
of deer hooves
up these blue-emblazoned, steepness of hills;
river horns . . . a distant train.
Somewhere among these things is part of what we mean.

 

John Timothy Robinson

 

*

 

One Man’s Junk

  

Referring to my barn-cum-office on auction day

the agent whispers, Have you anything of value there?

after he directs a slovenly man to where

what I cherish waits, inky hours flanked by books.

Only to me, I reply, my intended rueful tone

somehow sounding rather pitiful, a groan,

the creak of an old boat slipping its moorings.

Strangers, smirking locals, peer into nooks,

taking selfies before coloured glass, yakking on phones.

The agent has seen my collected belongings;

my boys’ blue-tacked art, loosened now, framed prints,

among them, a $10 flea-market Raymond Wintz,

sentimental scene typical of both artist and me.

He knows, shrewd witness to clients’ collected longing.

 

Ian C Smith

Sale, Australia

 

Link: Return to Home Page

 

* * *

 

September 2016 (80 Editions in Total)

 

28th edition as a webzine, see below.

 

 

Poets listed in alphabetical order, below

 

* * *

 

Poem Index

 

Brief Encounter - Frank De Canio

 

Brother wreck - Dominic James

 

Umbra - Kim Malinowski

 

On Occasion - David Pike

 

Clothed in Memories - Fiona Sinclair

 

Human Aposematism - Fiona Sinclair

 

Water Rights - Ron Yazinski

 

*

 

Brief Encounter 

 

If you had scorned my overtures

of friendship and, with scathing yawn,

dismissed my amatory lures,

I would have stoically since drawn

the curtain on the show’s sole act.

But exiting before the play

concluded made me rue my tact

at walking flippantly away.

Aside from grades of happiness 

ensuing as the dividends

of many dramas that progress 

as such, I won’t know how mine ends.

I rail thus on an empty stage

where want of closure is my wage.

 

Frank De Canio

Union City, NJ, USA

 

*

 

Brother wreck

 

No foothold on this black, unlucky spur,
with icy hands he clings as best he can
to naked rock despite the mighty waves’
increase in shock and pace to drag him down,
his bitter sobs and high despair soon lost
in night’s relentless surge.
                                        The sea rides high.
The lifeboats of his entourage, old friends
and kin, inevitably pull away;
he knows that at this station he must drown
but daren’t abandon barren purchase.
In endless shows of lightning crashes
he composes epigrams for comfort:
let them remember one held true, drawn-in
he did not sink, it was the waters rising.

 

Dominic James

Chalford, Gloucestershire

 

*

 

Umbra

 

My shadow deepens the carved

name and dates,

grooves lovingly traced.

I’ve laid a picnic blanket

over the neatly trimmed grass,

saving a clump of buttercups

near the stone.

There are mimosas to toast

our anniversary.

I am eating a rhubarb jelly sandwich,

wearing a peach colored day dress.

The cedar stands beside us,

its branches protecting, blossoms faded.

A couple sits near,

placing irises by dirt.

I see your face

gasping at the foot of your bed.

The wind ruffles the cedar,

the blanket,

your limp hair would blow in the breeze,

my palm touches the grass and buttercups.

I would like to uproot you,

my shadow obscuring your name,

and then you wouldn’t be dead.

 

Kim Malinowski

Laurel, Maryland, USA

 

*

 

On Occasion

 

“During winter

the wind blows

so hard

you have to lean forward

at a slant,

to address the gale,

or be blown

afar

by the squall -

and fall away,”

 

said distractedly

during a brief interlude,

passing the time of

day;

 

another Cornish anecdote

from a local resident

to a summer migrant

who was there by arrangement

for a temporary stay.

 

David Pike

Swindon, Wiltshire

 

*

 

Clothed in Memories

 

He recalls favourite garments with

same transcendental gaze into past

as remembering Norton, Ducati, Triumph.

At 17, a Here be Dragons trip north of Watford gap

to course in Manchester. Only land mark that registered,

clothes market under railway arches

colourful as St Pepper album cover,

where he found herringbone Oxford bags,

with flares, high waist, indigo dandy twist.

And on a rainbow rail of afghan coats

one cobalt suede with white coney trim.

 

Was it just you so foppish?

but all his mates took inspiration from favourite front men:

hunting down in indie boutiques, Hendrix hussar Jackets,

Bowie spangled stacks, Jagger velvet flares,

Accessorized by hair so long your Granddad

Thought he was a girl from the back.

But no girly squeamishness in face of a ruck,

rather platform boots ideal for crotch crippling,

shared tips for getting blood out of a shirt,

becoming as adapt with needle and thread as a spanner.

 

Now Marc Bolan, Rod Stewart, Bryan Ferry

are replaced by memory slipping lead singers

who come and go like office temps.

And young men whose warrior avatars fantasy fight

whilst they online skim shop Matalan for polo shirts,

for whom under the bonnet is unfathomable as

brain surgery so leave cars at Kwikfit,

killing time in Burtons buying another pair of jeans,

lunch time dash into Next to grab they’ll do brown lace ups;

every garment forgettable as a drunken one night stand.

 

Fiona Sinclair

Houghton, near Faversham, Kent

 

*

 

Human Aposematism

 

Historically tattoos meant armed forces, Hells Angels, ex-cons;

anchors and daggers branding service men non officer material,

diabolic coat of arms making bikers indelible members for life,

love-hate on knuckles warning no rehabilitating these prison hands.

Some toughness skin deep though; ‘Mother’ embedded in heart,

‘Emma’ entwined in rose, kids’ names enlacing armband.

Many woman get clit tingle at twisted designs grown on Pop-eye muscles

proof bearers can handle pain; so other blokes watch their words…

 

*

 

Water Rites

 

Here in the Bible Belt, folks

Talk of Jesus as a loving grandfather

Who lives in the nursing home down the road,

Who forgives anything they do,

As long as they put up with his funky smell once a week.

 

Soon it’ll be time to divvy up his estate,

And buy that new Chevy pick-up with the gun rack

They have their hearts set on.

Then they’ll drive to Daytona, park on the beach,

And watch the sun rise over the warm Atlantic.

 

Which, with my Catholic upbringing, is blatantly silly,

Because a worthwhile god doesn’t give you things,

He just leads you down to the pier at Newton Park,

To look at yourself in fouled Lake Apopka.

 

Ron Yazinski

Winter Garden, Florida, USA

 

Link:  Return to Home Page

*

 

June 2016 Edition (79 Editions in Total)

 

27th Edition as a Webzine, see below

 

Poets listed in alphabetical order, below

 

* * *

 

 

Poem Index

 

Owl - Richard Dinges, Jr

 

Cold Deceit - E A M Harris

 

Moving - David Pike

 

A Small Town In The South - Sam Silva

 

View from an attic window - Ian C Smith

 

Release - Tim Taylor

 

*

 

Owl

 

We have become

friends, this owl and I,

each evening after

darkness prevails

and trees become

shadows against

a pale divide

between sky and

where I stand, this

sound no question,

an echo from

a question asked

long ago by someone

I once knew.

 

Richard Dinges, Jr

Walton, NE, USA

 

*

 

 

Cold Deceipt

 

‘Tweren’t no rain

when I put yon out.

 

The air were thick, like,

and the clouds way high,

but I c’ld stitch a shipful 

o’ sailors’ britches

from them blue patches.

 

There were a breeze

when yon and I stepped out,

friendly, like, after the vandal gale.

 

No frost. I checked th’ forecast;

I knows yon’s fear o’ cold.

I turns, the dale’s whited,

cheating, behind my back.

 

Like that hoss

at th’ New Year races;

look away and he’s lost.

 

I blinked is all,

not one second,

and yon limped off.

 

E A M Harris

Bridgwater, Somerset

 

*

 

Moving

 

Down in a cellar

something stirred,

something that shouldn’t

be there

but was there

anyway –

to linger and lurk

unseen

with an ugly smirk

across its face

in a place where

darkness dug a trench

and light paled

to something less,

dust fell as velvet

snow

in a recurrent

dream

upon something that

was there

moving, persisting,

existing

 

but shouldn’t have

been.

 

David Pike

Swindon, Wiltshire

 

*

 

A Small Town In The South

 

A simplicity of sleeping things

under cold rain and wet earth

...and that dazzle

of blue jazz

on the computer stereo

 

giving light and sound to images

where the mind mingles

...one half on the screen

...the other...on the yard outside

 

and with its own interior voices

...the lingering voices of the others

...more strange and frightening

than nature

or dead brick.

 

Sam Silva

Fayetteville, N.C.

USA

 

*

 

View from an attic window

 

Fields of frost below, early days of writing,

shucking the duvet on runny nose mornings

to fill pages instead of slouching off to work

quickened me, my dream world manifested.

I didn’t know about nearby Adlestrop station,

had never heard of Edward Thomas’s poem.

 

Rain on wind protested at the window

of my attic I probably called a garret,

ruffled rooks high above sheltering horses.

A gas heater on castors by my side

like a metallic seeing-eye dog-cum-desk,

collected a pattern of Olympic coffee rings.

 

I backpacked on after winter toting an archive,

crisscrossing latitude and longitude’s grid,

an urge to arrest smell, sight, sound,

a selfish kind of love like a secret luring me.

Now at ground level I feed a wood stove,

outside, attendant currawongs, different crows.

 

I squeeze into my navy pea-jacket

worn those years gone, heavy with silence,

the spare button in its silken pocket

to finger-fiddle, conjure past voices,

a high window, a view, a fierce fever,

breath steaming through the strainer of memory.   

 

Ian C Smith

Sale, Victoria, Australia

 

*

 

Release

 

You question me with patient tenderness.

“I’m fine”, I lie: my leaden undertones

reveal what language struggles to express.      

This sullen murk that seeps into my bones:

I have no name for it, nor has it shape

or substance.   Stagnant, undefined, it sits

in hidden pools from which there’s no escape.

It is my prisoner, as I am its.   

But do not cease to ask: for you, each day

I try once more to picture it in words.

If I could make it concrete, find some way

to form it in the semblance of a bird

and, through the gift of wings, to set it free

then it would lift its cold embrace from me.

 

Tim Taylor

Meltham, West Yorkshire

 

Link: Return to Home Page

 

* * *

 

March 2016 Edition (78 Editions in Total)

 

26th Edition as a Webzine, see below.

 

Poets listed in alphabetical order, below

 

* * *

 

Poem Index

 

With Fire For Eyes, A Mouth Full Of Grubs - Holly Day

 

Dream Ephemera - Mark A. Murphy

 

Appearance of . . .  David Pike

 

Autumn Reverie - Jane Stuart

 

Faults - A K Whitehead

 

Return and Release - John Zedolik

 

*

 

With Fire For Eyes, A Mouth Full Of Grubs

 

in my living room is a woman

dirt under her chipped nails

 

pouring out of her very skin,

like tentacles underwater

 

of sick sea serpents

in my kitchen is a man

 

criss-crossed with old scars and new bruises

dangling by a hook

 

ever since I bought that cursed locked storage chest

from that guy with the sinister laugh and the bad facial hair

 

at the boarded-up second-hand store

things just haven’t been the same around here

 

Holly Day

Minneapolis MN, USA

 

*

 

Dream Ephemera

 

In the first and in the fading light,

whilst the wind yawns at the gable ends

and the impudent traffic below

ebbs and flows, I dream of your return

from the dead, as if your death

was only temporary and absurd.

 

Almost strange to hear you whisper,

‘I love you.’ High above the town

and the pavements of loss,

locked in the garret, I hardly concern

myself with the affairs of men

preferring instead the low notes

 

of your whispering across space and time

to fill my head with other longings.

As the mist beneath begins to lift

we must insist on laughter.

All will become clear soon after –

in the moonlight we dream as one.

 

Mark A. Murphy

Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

 

*

 

Appearance of . . .

 

. . . a stereotypical

young bloke

in a hooded coat

hood up;

by default

a dodgy sort,

nothing more.

 

It’s a kind of uniform

purchased

to conform with

others of a same

age,

just a phase

at a moment in time,

not something emblazoned

deep within

when born.

 

Just a temporary

uniform.

 

David Pike

Swindon, Wiltshire

 

*

 

Autumn Reverie

 

When summer came, the world was autumn-green,

with dark leaves floating on the bristling grass.

Earth filled with sunrise, wind blew through the trees,

and shadows dark as moments, dark as glass,

filled every meadow, every star-filled night

and days that keep the glow of midnight’s moon.

This world was made of love and silver light

and swept across the hills, across the dunes,

and reached time’s cold beginning, on the shore

where ocean water waits for warming sun-

There is no window and there was no door,

when night was early, day had just begun,

and moments made of madness-love’s fair flight

over the wave, in autumn’s cold moonlight.

 

Jane Stuart

Greenup, KY, USA

 

*

 

Faults

 

You are to me as some would see Lastrade

to Sherlock Holmes, who incurred the latter’s

scorn as one who was stubborn to select

the right clues to indite a wrong suspect,

or make the right suspect blighted with wrong

clues.

 

            My faults were plain, but your somersaults

invented other ones that better fit

your own philosophy and special needs,

that turn the truth into a parody

of what could be perception - - just the blood

of selfishness that masquerades a wish

into the place of some reality.

 

Let not invention be the galleon

that sails my ego to the rock of lies.

 

A K Whitehead

Pontefract, West Yorkshire

 

*

 

Return and Release

                                             

Venice is sinking outside of sight

while the man extends his arms.

 

His hands must contain bread, for scores

of pigeons alight, which, he may hope,

 

will lift him from the city drowning

in the lagoon that will claim every Chiesa

 

pressing centuries into the submerged earth,

a long-delayed return, at least to the salt and sea,

 

and, I imagine, an acceptable occurrence, a substitute,

for the dead emperors of the eastern Rome,

             

who—brazen steeds and sundry booty sunk—

 would likely let the man and birds alone.

 

John Zedolik

Pennsylvania, USA

 

Link: Return to Home Page

 

Video, (below), of Talis Kimberley performing her original song, The Orchard,

'live' at a Pulsar Poetry Evening at the Goddard Arms, Clyffe Pypard.

 

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