Editor Picks -6 months of The Blue Nib….

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    The Issue No. the poem was published in is in brackets after the title

    FP indicates that the poem was by the featured poet in issue

     

    Continuous fall of deep in(1)

    Charles Carr

     

    If I could
    put it to words
    it would be
    the heavy breath
    of light
    that touches through
    new leaves
    on a row of trees
    between where we sit
    and the sun finally peaks
    over a mountain
    and speaks us
    into a single shadow
    of all the places
    neither of us could reach
    without the other

     

     

     

    Turn off the lights on your way out (2)

    Naomi Tate Maghen

     

    my little sister never ages,
    she’ll always be a scribble
    of a square house,
    two windows, a door
    and a flowered garden path

     

    i keep my distance
    so that my thunderstorm
    doesn’t rattle her windows

     

    though she invites me in~
    she didn’t study biology,
    doesn’t understand how
    her naive stems
    depend on photosynthesis

     

    how does one mother
    birth a snake plant
    and five years later
    a patch of grass?

     

     

     

     

     

    Where are you now (3)

    D.L. Hume

    ,

    I gaze up the hill,

    across the river,

    where a low sun

    drapes the shore

    in the final shroud of day.

    And ask, where are you now?

    I check my watch.

    It ticks and turns.

    A machine above your head

    Shows no time remaining.

    You are always late.

    Where the fuck are you now?

    I held your still warm hand,

    stroked your mohawk arm,

    anointed your forehead

    and whispered in your ear,

    I’ll catch you on the other side

    So tell me where are you now?

    I breathe the empty dark.

    The glow of a late night joint.

    An empty bottle.

    Slainte mhath.

    And I wonder

    Where are you now?

    I step out for a piss.

    As you would have done.

    A shooting star passes,

    I tell no one.

    There is no one to tell.

    At least now old mate, dear friend,

    I know where you are now.

     

     

     

     

    Poetry’s Not Dead (3 FP)

    Luiz Canha Machado

     

    I’ve seen it on the underpass

    In a winter’s dealer night,

    Knifed by moribund moonbeams,

    The spray on the fuliginous wall

    Proclaiming poetry’s not dead.

    I wonder if they know what that means

    At the end of the inner tracks,

    Where the heart synapses fade away,

    At the bottom of the soul pit

    Where the nameless feeling rests inert.

     

    I’ve seen it on the underpass,

    I’ve seen it on stone, wood and flesh;

    I’ve seen it in a warrior’s glare,

    I’ve seen it in a woman’s flare,

    Poetry’s not dead.

    I wonder if they know what that means

    For those hurt by the undoing of life,

    For the failed strategies of heaven,

    For the runaway lips on whoring street,

    For the bruised knuckles of the spirit.

     

    I’ve seen it on the underpass,

    I’ve seen it on the roaring sky,

    Poetry’s not dead.

    I wonder if they know what that means

    To the moon’s desires as a whole,

    To the wonders of humanity below,

    To the smoke that rises unstructured,

    To the shape of dreams floating above,

    Feeding the common hope,

    Untying the hanging rope.

     

     

     

    End of Year (4FP)

    Anne McMaster

     

    From here, you can see the fabric of the year

    scuffed raw and worn thin

    around a grey horizon’s fine and unforgiving rim.

    Today the sun is light and empty; nothing more.

    Sudden gusts of desolate, bitter wind

    busy themselves along the weakening edges of the moment

    delving in – seeking to loosen – then to pry

    all that holds them from the remnants of the day.

    The desiccated husks of time

    are borne up – gossamer-thin, translucent –

    rising loose in tattered fragments

    towards an abandoned sky.

     

     

    The Winter Room (4)

    By Mary Chydiriotis

    .

    Here we speak the same language

    as marble ruins peer down at me

    spying honeysuckle lazy in the captive sun

    goats bleating under shady cypress

    yiayia waits for me in the village Bytina

    I’ve heard that name my whole life

    Greek tourists escaping the relentless heat of their cities

    spend summers there high amongst fir trees and pines

    once a tightly wrapped baby in pink

    now brazen with feminist zeal

    I’m a stranger in this place

     

    I’m a stranger in this place

    she’s snappy that I’m late

    ‘argises’ she says in the winter room

    snug with bedding and icons to keep us safe

    fire burning and mulled wine

    always hunched over            always in mourning black

    homemade bread and fetta untouched on the table

    We honour my mother            the missing link

     

    We honour my mother            the missing link

    meltemi winds have now long passed

    yiayia prays daily for her daughter’s return

    her own fading memories in frames

    it’s my mother’s voice she waits for now

    she asks ‘pote tha erthi’ when will she come?

    soon I say unconvincingly

    then wait for her phone call

     

    We wait for her phone call

    three women divided by place and time

    yiayia speaks her prayers down the line

    the same question over and over

    pote tha erthis’ when will you come?

    the same answer over and over

    ‘tha ertho tha ertho’ I’ll come I’ll come

    later lying awake I smell wafting pine

    hear the bell clang as the goat moves against the silence

    We speak the same language still

    I’m a stranger in this place

     

     

    In the Psychiatrist’s Rooms waiting with my Son (5FP)

    Therese Kieran

    I think I might shrink, shrink to the size of a pea, roll off this chair
    onto threadbare carpet where someone is bound to crush me to a pulp.
    I’m halfway there – mashed, beaten, squeezed but wonder,
    how does she do it?
    How does she listen to swing and moody blues?
    You’d feel like giving them a shake
    but they’re already all shook up
    and this isn’t rock ’n’ roll –
    and now this too hot room is filling with a balloon,
    swelling up, puffing out, pinning us to walls,
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….and its too thin skin is about to
    burst.

     

    Jacob Swam The River (5)

    by Ken Dronsfield

    .

    Motley dressed

    with holy socks

    matching shoes

    gray thinning hair

    lives by the bridge

    last ate on Sunday

    fought in Vietnam

    hides in plain sight

    raucous lost dreams

    fire and icy breath

    in spite, death calls

    peace finally found

    a cold November day

    socks, shoes unlaced

    placed upon the bank

    his war finally ends,

    Jacob swam the river.

     

     

    The Oak Tree

    by Kirsty A Niven (6)

     

    The tree still stands, your very own monument.
    A well intended memorial yet incomplete,
    the absence of the tree house conspicuous.

    Its clawed arms lie upwards and empty,
    questioning a deaf and clouded sky
    and cloaking itself in leaves to overcompensate.

    A magpie nests where we used to clamber,
    hoarding its glittering treasures,
    attempting to fill the void within itself.

    I swear for a moment, I can see you
    hanging by the tips of your scraped fingers,
    a budding smirk on your earthy face –

    but it’s gone just as quick,
    the magpie’s beady eye meeting my gaze as if to say,
    there’s some things you can’t replace.

     

     

    the beauty of cranes (6)

    by Dana St Mary

     

    their long necks arched or rigid
    sometimes knee’d in waters frigid
    or knuckled up to pounce
    with angry muscle
    ounce per ounce
    earth or rock or muck gripped in their digits

    swiftly grabbing at their prey
    the feeding takes the meat of day
    a gullet never filled
    still eyeing what can
    not be killed
    scooping up their load
    as if in play

    tendons taut along the neck
    attentive to the smallest speck
    and naught can miss the gaze
    staring steely straight
    for days and days
    striking with a splash
    or tiny peck

    i thrill to see the majesty of cranes
    hunting on the skyline of the dawn
    their neck lines can be easy drawn
    rarely seen upon a lawn
    here and then quite gone but,
    magnificence remains

    my heart sings out the beauty
    and the worth,
    of mighty cranes
    alone (or not)
    digging in a chosen spot
    building every building
    here on Earth.

     

     

    A Letter to the Friend Living in Borderline Abuse (6)

    by Cathy Donelan

    .

    You say we cannot be seen on your wedding day

    for the charade, might crack

    carefully labelled lies will crumble

    .

    like shards of the mirror he put a fist through

    while people sat downstairs,

    that night you got on his nerves and I saw the flipside,

    .

    instead of taking your daughter and walking,

    told the sparkling social media illusion

    what a doting father he is,

    .

    knitting him tight to feigned delusion,

    through the ornamental, lace thread-work

    you’ll hang with your veil down your back.

     

     

     

    Speckless (7FP)

    Linda Mc Kenna

     

    was what she aimed for. Speckless floors and
    windows but especially sheets, plunged

    again and again into water hot as she could
    make it, soap and scrub, knuckles raw,

    twisting out the dead watery weight of them,
    stinging in arms and shoulders; then again

    through the wringer. Then watched like a
    hawk for the shadow, the sniff of rain.

    The inelegant dash to rescue them from
    the deluge. Then in off the line to dance

    them into narrow folds. Edge to edge, face
    to face, hands almost but not quite touching,

    chaste  and white and clean smelling.
    Something formal, a word you have read

    but don’t quite understand,  gavotte or pavane.
    Then the disinterring of the  ironing cloths,

    grey blankets laid on the table, old linen
    smooth and scorched. The good day’s work

    of piles of speckless sheets growing and growing
    at the uncovered end of the scrubbed table.

     

     

     

    Fowl Play (7)

    by Susan Wallace

    It’s a far slog down the slow road
    through the fen. White in the sun, around the wide horizon
    the limestone towers of churches fasten earth to heaven.
    I brake almost too late
    and miss the swan by inches.

    Stone still, neck arched, and burly back
    so wide a crone could ride; in pose heraldic,
    staring to the North, feathers unruffled by the slowing traffic,
    it has alighted here as seal and sigil
    to see our wishes granted.

    And so, arriving at the creek,
    we haul out such a catch of crabs, line
    after line until our buckets seethe. The day stays fine.
    Despite foretellings of wild weather, we see
    no rain blow from the West, but wavering

    flights of ducks crossing the sky –
    arrowed like drunken sergeant’s stripes –
    abandoning us to Winter. And, on the far side,
    a cormorant drapes black wings to dry,
    stately head turned imperious to the East.

    How might we keep in mind –
    heading for home, burdens rebooting –
    this something rare that lies beyond our choosing,
    appearing from otherwhere as poems do,
    and startling us with signs and wonders?

      

     

    Avowed (8)

    by Bekah Steimel

     

    Some promises are like beds
    to be made and unmade in a single day
    to climb in and out of
    others are world records
    just waiting to be broken
    this is neither
    this is a vow as honest as a mirror
    as certain as death
    I will love you imperfectly
    I will love you and fail you
    I will love you and fumble your heart
    but I will never break it
    or this promise
    as certain as the only thing that will divide us.

     

     

     

     

    TALKING WITH A RACIST ABOUT GARDENING (9)

    Barry Fentiman Hall

    I knew it was coming by
    By the roll of the shoulders
    The self righteous chest, puffed
    Fat and sour as a bean
    From his garden
    He is spitting his truths
    Like bad seeds
    From rotten fruit
    Suddenly I realise
    I am shouting
    A scarecrow
    Waking the birds
    From their blissfully ignorant
    Perch on the fence
    Only to settle
    In the silence after
    As though nothing had happened
    The way that birds do
    There’s still 8 hours to go
    Changing the subject
    I pour water on
    Scorched summer earth
    His apple red uncle’s face
    Was still laughing
    About the murder
    When the talk turned
    To the lettuces
    That were coming up
    In the planters I had made
    Till we went about our duties
    Filling the in trays
    Of people who wish
    Us good morning
    And do not know
    That behind their back
    The jolly gardener they greet
    Calls some of them nigger

    .

     

     

    Jazz (9)

    Joan McNerney

     .

    the kitchen sits

    in fruit soup…

    steamed apricot

    mango shadow

     

    down thru spinning

    smoke into hot light

    blink beat

     

    body ends dangle

    lead eye skin cement

    high on tongue

     

    night pasted among

    buildings Styrofoam clouds

    moon hung beneath billboard

     

    rolling pass wet

    rocked streets

    soul tramp

    diamond panhandlers watch

    paper birds slices of

    the daily news drift in air

     

    comes cool ether

    whispers up door

    climbing dusty corridor

     

    tree windows lapping lisp

    door slams again noise again

    then none void nothing syncopates

    noise again door slams tree bare frozen

     

    caught in the image of 7 candles

    within 7 candles flames of air

    7 light bulbs growing out of each other

    7 silver circles coined from 7 silver rings

     

    clear as blazing sheets

    of glass yet

    vague as dust

    an ice cube on wood table

    in front of crushed velvet

    melt

    poured

    peeled

     

    when this sky now boiling with

    stars is strapped black

    in pinched air thru sucked mind

    swimming pass spaced time

    will be one silent

    note up.

     

    don’t call me boy (10)

    Tom Hade

     .

    pretty boy girly boy

    born in a pink blanket boy

    face too round boy

    never be a man boy

    i’ll never look how i see

    my skin is a prison

    soft lips

    perky tits

    why can’t i breathe

    when my chest is full

    of slurred words

    poison and spit and

    grit

    crunching of your jaw bones

    learn to sleep alone

    they can’t love you

    can’t blame them

    already a corpse in life

    girl blood

    and a bloated soul

    old name

    on a shiney new

    gravestone

    pretty boy girly boy

    sugar sweet cunt boy

    melt in your mouth candy boy

    crush between your teeth boy

    spit me out into the dirt

    when im no longer of use

    a quick fuck

    ass up

    face down eyes closed

    don’t you fucking look at him

    boy

    see is

    believing

    and if you let the monsters in

    they will chew at your heart

    it’s easier

    to forget

    don’t let him touch you in your dreams

    urgent tears silent screams

    bury him

    hands and sharp nails and drawn teeth

    under lock and key they can’t hurt you

    they can’t hurt

    they can’t hurt me

    what i don’t remember can’t hurt me

    he

    hurt

    me

    pretty boy girly boy

    eyes wet with tears boy

    weepy boy scaredy boy

    don’t forget what mammy told you, boy

    world’s too wide

    to walk your own stride

    please be simple

    be standard

    be safe

    dry your eyes, boy

    it’ll all be over soon

    boy

     

     

     

    Moon Mother (10FP)

    Geraldine O’Kane

    If they ask, “looking past you,
    to the moon gearing itself for
    the night ahead; showering in
    the setting rays of the sun
    just behind your head.”

    Not looking at the vintage handbag
    tethered to your neck by a friend
    its handle short, leaving it to rest
    on your full-bodied chest as a giant necklace.
    Nor the blue blanket with the white stars
    adorning your knee, already beaded with rain,
    another kindness.

    I am staring past the pink rain sheet
    and the coffee-to-go mug in your good steering hand.
    I am boring right into your centre,
    to the place your courage lives,
    cupping my hands for scraps, for I know You.

    I have helped unstick your wheelchair
    from disability unfriendly places.
    Have listened to your creativity wiggle
    its way beyond your paraphernalia.
    I have witnessed you arriving and departing
    in a flurry of unabashed inconvenience.

    I have never asked your name
    or anyone else’s, in case my enquiry
    be misconstrued as a hand of friendship,
    that is the length of my courage.
    I will say, “I was looking at the grace of the moon.”

     

     

    Advice 

    Beth Kilkenny. (10)

     

    People you don’t know will stop you in the street

    and tell you things you didn’t ask to hear.

    “Maybe he’s cold? He should be wearing a hat”

    People you don’t know will look at you in the street

    and give you sympathetic looks,

    “Perhaps he’s hungry – I’d give him an extra bottle.”

    and consoling smiles

    “ Are you getting any sleep, love, you look tired.”

    And you will look at them, (timidly,

    through glassy eyes, made weak

    through tears, and love, and uncertainty)

    you will look at them, the people on the street,

    that you don’t know, and wonder why,

    they can’t keep

    their goddam

    opinions

    to themselves.

     

     

    Legs Eleven (10)

    Lorraine Carey

    She brought you to bingo
    to slice through numbers
    with a black marker
    on Monday nights
    to keep you sober
    and from the vodka
    slumber.

    For company,
    for your own safety,
    to keep you out
    of the kitchen drawer
    and the cold, blue bathroom
    that didn’t have a key.

    You collected the bottles
    maintained your nails and
    highlights, everything else
    on a landslide, slid away
    and your only break
    from those four yellow walls

    was into a big book
    and two fat ladies.
    The wolf whistles pierced
    pensioner concentration
    in the musty parish hall.
    Kelly’s Eye, key of the door,
    and all the others.
    The call lodged in throats
    waited to rise and shout,
    the black slashes
    marked a full house.

    A sneaky trip for mouthwash,
    then back to front seat denial
    and another bag search.
    The yellow walls heard
    the coughs to muffle the breaking seal,
    the broken spiral of a new litre
    to where it all went wrong.

    .

    Connemara (11)

    Ezra Maloney 

     

    There is something ancient in the air
    this brutal landscape
    flat as the back of your hand.
    Your hair stands straight as beach grass
    Standing in fields lousy with peat
    as in the distance you can still hear
    the beating of drums
    The call to action of connaughtmen
    Whose footsteps this ground remembers.

    The wind rises and the sea spits
    Over the beaches stiff with salt and history
    From carraroe to clifden –
    Connemara remembers her native tongue
    A language that will not be vanquished.
    (Beatha theanga i a labhairt.)

    On a winter’s day you observe the land –
    Where beauty meets terror along the edge of a coast
    Where walls built by long-dead hands still stand
    Where seaweed glistens on lonely beaches
    You turn
    facing this land
    And know it as your own.

     

     

    THIS HAPPENS WHEN THE EXPERIENCES ARE MISTAKEN FOR ONES TRUE DESTINATION

    Vincent Zepp (11)

     

    i was wearing my denim jacket
    with a

    reproduction of van goghs
    self portrait

    on the back

    on my way to the library

    i walked past this woman
    who saw the portrait

    i heard her say

    thats incredible

    so i paused to let her have a
    further look

    thats incredible
    it

    looks exactly like kirk douglas

    honey all the gods drink

     

    The Shoulder (12)

    Derek Coyle

      

    Let us think of Kafka

    in the arms of Milena Jesenská.

    He, who had already

    coughed up blood while swimming

    in the Civilian Swimming School

    where he often chose to spend

    his leisure hours. Anything to escape

    the drudgery of the Asbestos Factory,

    the tyranny of his father, the law,

    and business, business, business.

    He loved and feared

    her living fire. He stands

    and kisses her left shoulder

    as she draws back her blouse.

    Milena Jesenská, the firebrand,

    who was to die years later, in Ravensbrück.

    Let us picture them together,

    the weight of her almost

    uncovered breast upon him.

    Since he has come to love her

    he has discovered his love

    for the world, a world in which

    he has lately come across her left shoulder.

    He kisses it,

    the way a man

    might kiss the head of his new-born child.

     

     

    French trees by the roundabout (13)

     Bridget Khursheed

     

     the wind outside is like the sound

    of a small town where the planted

    pavement hornbeams are kicked and scuffed

    and gulls far from the harbour

     

    cry at cars just passing lit with the last sun

    beyond the supermarket, a field of cabbages

    smells out the bright hoardings advertising

    somewhere else

     

    in the glass no plastic bags on

    the figure disappearing through the televisions

    reflected vehicles yielding amiably

    headlights all blown like water

     

    those trees that are always somewhere else

    that’s the wind tonight

    a very slight pollarded suggestion

    of a fertile place to end

     

     

     

    Enduring Utopia (13 FP)

    Attracta Fahy

     

    They have usurped my womb,

    my sun, ravaged my mind

    with privation –

     

    now they want my body.

    I am slave, at the mercy

    of food, a weapon, it rapes

     

    me with their need.

    They think I am frail, bring plates

    with teeth, wild animals attack me.

     

    I cannot tell you, as you come

    towards me with your large

    platter of nourishment, I am

     

    terrified it will eat me,

    that blood in its contents

    will soak my bones, trigger

     

    primitive instinct. My stomach

    refuses to digest your utopia,

    where the witch’s light is quenched.

     

    My gut has a voice too,

    she becomes a wild animal, bloated

    with feeling, fat with lies, seeks

     

    revenge for the killing.

    She eats not just your food, your

    plate, your power, she swallows my smile.

     

    I’ve built a wall of starvation.

    No one enters, not even me.

     

     

    Reasons for Admission 1889 (14)

    Glen Wilson

     

    You will find yourself stretched here,

    we deal with all kinds, a cornucopia of humanity.

     

    This first ward on your left houses some of our less

    troublesome patients, Dissolute Habits,

     

    Feebleness of IntellectBusiness Nerves.

    Indeed John here used to quite a successful banker,

     

    No John he hasn’t come to see you,

    Harmless really though wouldn’t go to him for a loan eh!

     

    These ladies are all in for time of Life, menstrual

    deranged, the usual Hysteria and ‘Women Trouble.’

     

    Here are a few of our more recent cases, that one

    there fell from a horse in a war, very close to a medal I’m told.

     

    Ah these chaps came to us because of acute political excitement,

    You must remember they seem normal but underneath…

     

    Well that’s a different matter, don’t be taken in.

    No I think you’ll find its God Bless the Queen

     

    I wish we could ship them back to Ireland,

    Anyway , Oh I would keep a bit more distance

     

    from this next lot, Excessive Sexual abuse

    and Deranged Masturbation. Yes you learn

     

    to block the sounds out, just don’t enter the cells

    alone, we can ill afford another replacement.

     

    What was your last post? Oh…well I see,

    You’ll get used to this, I’ll show you to your quarters.

     

     

    this sudden vista is a last sunset

    Alfred Booth

     

    a tin cup, silver-lined photographs
    key rings young and old
    which occasionally clank
    along with a few wind chimes
    a gold frame flirting within emptiness
    postcards signed with love from here
    and there, memorabilia, things lost
    now found again, an alarm clock
    here time is silent, woven bracelets
    a cow bell, its silent prayer
    a pair of wedding rings, a dog’s leash
    and collar, a few weathered stuffed
    animals, a carved wolf’s head
    souvenirs, like the tomb
    of the unknown soldier
    nailed to a pine tree, sparse branches
    looming over naked bark
    this strange collection humbles its host
    planted as a century’s solitary landmark
    between unknowable compass points
    where tears no longer fall, here
    five thousand feet in the mountains
    this inhospitable corner
    the wind’s howl keeps these souvenirs
    no one can explain why
    and I, the latest wanderer
    empty my own pockets
    searching for a treasure
    you left me nothing to share
    but the loneliness of this place

     

     

    Polly

    Anne Walsh Donnelly (13)

     

    Mam ran away

    after Dad gave her two black eyes

    and made her nose bleed.

    She fell into the river.

     

    Dad put Polly

    into an empty coal bag

    after the funeral.

    Put it in his van.

     

    Me and Mam

    used to give Polly stale bread

    soaked in warm milk

    every morning.

     

    Dad said,

    he was going to throw Polly

    into the river,

    ‘cos she had mange.

     

    He scrunched his beer can,

    threw it in the fire,

    then fell like a sack of rotten apples

    into his chair.

     

    Snored so loudly, the glasses

    on Mam’s dresser shook.

    I snuck out the front door,

    crawled into the back of his van.

     

    It smelt of cigarettes

    and green diesel.

    Polly scratched

    the inside of the coal bag.

     

    I cut it open with Mam’s bread knife.

    Out she jumped.

    I gave her one last cuddle

    and whispered, “run away.”

     

     

     

    Watching You Dream (14)

    Steve Klepetar

    You’re asleep in the blue chair, and I
    am watching you dream. Today your
    hair is made of glass. It shines
    in window light, splashing your shoulders,
    streaming down your back.
    You must be flying in humid air
    as sun struggles through breaking clouds.
    High up the world looks wet and green.
    You sail the currents, rising with heat,
    then dipping into cooler troughs.
    Your eyes become mirrors, your hands
    a fluttering pair of nets.
    I watch your mouth as it seems to sing,
    chewing the lyrics of an old tune
    we crooned on a train
    shooting out towards mountains in the west.
    We were young and blessed with peace.
    I watch you sleep, and my face
    transforms to lead. I would follow if I could,
    sailing my weight along the track.
    Soft leaves had not yet turned,
    or drifted toward earth. All night we rode.
    In the morning our eyes were dazed and full of snow.

     

     

     

    Within The Dance (14)

    Polly Richardson (Munnelly)

     

    Oh to have one more dance in autumn fields dripping gold,

    spiraling letters pirouette over protruding spine

    as if winters first snow blanketing

    cardboard house covering fallen dreams.

     

    I danced with the devil

    only to hang in fields – slowly scorch;

    surrounded by cawing crows and beady eyes

    cocking heads pondering first murderous peck

    within frenzied flocks.

     

    And I calmly inhale – splutter, toeing damp soil,

    twisting brown leather straps of this notebook, poised,

    under whooshing starlings

    as last swallow swoops farewell home silencing

    distant prancing hooves,

    Oh to dance amongst the fields.

     

     

     

    It’s all Relative (15FP)

    Kate Ennals

    His hair is diarrhoea from the arse of a gull
    That he blow dries into corn doll drills
    In his hamster cheeks he stores cake
    Dolly mixtures swimming in soft poached egg
    He has the look of Abe, a whiff of Dave, the feel
    Of Hades. He wanks with divine precision
    In an obsequious manner

    He wears Ralph Lauren in bed, Paul Smith in the kitchen

    His aniseed eye reeks a lofty derision

    “Of what rhyme you now?” he sits back with a sigh
    “Of you, my dear,” I say in reply.

     

     

    There Comes the Day (15)

    Liz Balise

     

    There comes the day

    when the leaves plummet

    at the slightest breeze

    giving up of their own accord

     

    bleeding victory of the trees

    who lumber on

    in winter’s eyes–

     

    I now can see

    where the robins built a nest

    in last year’s spring

     

     

    Sutra (15)

    Miriam Sagan

    I see the name of the boy who jumped

    into Taos gorge

    and did not float

    on air

    but fell

     

    written in black on a slip

    of white paper

    folded on the altar

     

    and a bowl of ash

    to contain

    incense stick burning

    to ash

     

    and also I saw

    what I thought

    about all this.

     

     

     

     

    Two hats (16)

    for Nora, my beloved daughter

    Jeremy Nathan Marks

     

    God, who walked the field’s edge
    was mistaken by the people
    for a troublemaker

    He wore one red hat
    and one black hat
    that really were the same hat
    but the workers to his right
    and the workers to his left
    didn’t know there was a difference

    So the God laughed
    and the workers argued
    and my daughter asked daddy
    why do they fight
    when there are muddy puddles
    as many as there are drops of rain in the sky

    ‘I have a good idea,’ she says
    piling several hats onto her head

    Leading me to the yard
    I am made to stand and face her
    ‘See, you can see both hats’
    so how could anyone fight?

    Why(?) is a statement not a question
    and answers are just further questions

    Like that God in two hats
    the God, a God or just God
    a trickster leaving stories of teething,
    first words, night terrors and potties
    told in a tangled vernacular so mischievous
    the storyteller is a face framed by
    curling blond locks.

     

     

    Rooms We Cannot Die In (16)

    Jim Bourey

     

    “We have all been in rooms

    We cannot die in, and they are odd places, and sad.”

    James Dickey

     

    She didn’t want to reveal her secrets,

    and they were many, but I wished them

    out of her. Dark rooms (though some were light)

    became brief stops on a frantic journey,

    where time was a demon

     

    as fierce as our need. And the shape

    of my world was distorted,

    bent at odd angles, as we tried

    to make things mesh into normalcy.

     

    Caustic lies

    followed one upon

    another easily.

    I basked in their heat,

    amazed at my creative

    skills. It all fell

    apart, as these things must.

    It was a sad day

    and joyous too.

     

     

     

    Vocabulary (17)

    Dr Sanjib Kumar Baishya

    We live in an age
    Imprisoned
    Or liberated
    By vocabulary.
    Vocabulary defines us.

     

    Destination (17)

    Dr Sanjib Kumar Baishya

    Lost in some unknown thought
    I reached an unnamed spot.
    The spot renamed me
    And the thought
    Abandoned my mind.

     

     

     

    Gijón, Asturias, a haiku sequence (17)

     Maeve O’Sullivan

     

    orientation stroll…

    the first sound

    a seagull’s cry

     

    ***

     

    beneath the café’s din

    of TV and chatter –

    his song

     

    ***

     

    the peacock shakes

    his bridal feathers –

    city park cage

     

    ***

     

    hilly headland

    its giant sculpture

    amplifying the sea

     

    ***

     

    artist’s former home      its triple-locked steel door

     

    ***

     

     

     

     

     

    Colosseo (18 FP)

    Graham Allen

    “Rome is no more than Jerusalem.” P. B. Shelley (1819)

    When I can I go to the Arch of Constantine,
    where we spilled out on 9.11.,
    and I think of what I could have said,
    responsible there for saying something,
    if I only knew what we all know now.
    But the words of Shelley’s photocopied notes
    stuck in my throat and I could not say,
    repeating him, how civilization
    and all created beauties rest, like foam,
    on an ocean of horror and violence.

    Outside the Coliseum on that day
    we could feel the monster of history stirring,
    though the rumoured word “collapsed” insured
    they would level insult to the ground,
    go on pretending their permanence
    and re-born right to the power he so despised.

    And I think now, as I did then,
    of the absence of modern, Imperial ruins,
    as I watch a tiny, metallic bird
    fly through a window and cut across the moon.

     

    SOME ENCHANTED EVENING (18)

    Chris Hardy

    I’d hear him before
    he came round a corner,
    hands in pockets.
    On mountain paths
    he called the dogs
    with another note.

    I learnt how
    to use my lips,
    and the thinner tone
    made by making a reed
    from the tongue’s tip
    against the mouth’s roof.

    Driving fast
    so our dust
    could not catch up
    we piped show-tunes
    to accompany the engine’s
    drone and silence.

    *

    In the final place
    he apologised,
    said he wanted
    to go back home.
    The nurse wheeled him out,
    washed and tidy,

    told him he must try
    to move and sip.
    So with two of us
    holding on
    he leaned round the ward
    once more

    then lay back down,
    eyes closed,
    legs, hands
    and lips together,
    folding away,
    clean as a whistle.

     

     

     

     

     

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