Issue: Issue 11


The poetry of Vincent Zepp – a different take

Vincent Zepp – Arriving at the time in history (including literary history) when I did. I was blessed to have such a rich tradition of poetry, art, music, and culture to available to me.  This continues to allow my poetry to flourish in a rich loam of influences.  The work I believe is representative of the best thoughts and intuitions of my generation of writers whose challenge is to move forward with the gifts given to us from previous generation of artists. From Ferlinghetti who opened my eyes to Pound and Eliot through the various significant literary and art movements of the 20th century.  Then there was the haiku master Basho who showed us frogs leaping into the pond of our mind. John Berryman said our poetry should be something no one else could do.  I’ve tried to focus on that idea.

 

 

 

BEFORE I GO TO WORK TO WRITE ABOUT FASHION WEEK

 

i only slept with the fan on once

by accident

and maybe four hours more the rest of the season

never leching for the frottage of air conditioning

 

the liz claiborne slacks i got

at goodwill i only wore

when summer began bruxing

then back to black denim

 

along with past summers of cleavage

there was a cartography of legs

 

it’s the first day of autumn

I got up early enough that i only saw one

jogger and a poo bagger walking her dogs

by the time I got to walnut street

where no one was humping the pilate balls

at the fitness center

 

fall is the best season in Pittsburgh

then spring

emerging from the albumin of ice and snow

with gifts from the magi’s catalogue

 

speaking of which when I think of fall

i remember the waiter at akbars in amsterdam

who told me

I’ve seen a lot of people order the

chicken fall

but you are the only one who ever finished it

 

 

VON NEUMANS CATASTROPHE OF INFINITE REGRESS

 

prince takamatsu hirohitos brother
who

lobbied for peace
during world war II
said

to be beaten until
you can no longer
stand

is

stupidity

so i

lay down my arms
and

throw up my hands

where one cannot live
there

one should pass by

you are reported as missing in

action

in inuit

the word for making love
is

to make laughter together

you

are giving comfort and
aid to

the enemy

we do not have to take
sides

on order to take action

when ones friends
hate each other

how
can there be peace in

the world

that

excludes poets
because as wycherly explains

poets like whores are only

hated by each other

 

(and

somewhere in
japan

this morning
a man is

collapsing

from

karoshi)

its what the i ching
calls

the taming power of the small

but none of this is what i mean

im talking about
like

lucien sartie
and

christian david

and

you

are giving me spiritual zygodactylism

i met this irish singer
mark dignam

who wrote a song

about leaving anchorage
in

which he sings

you got to win me too

and you

madame roulin
didnt even try

at work one day

i was dialing the phone
number for

william blake

a message came on

the number is not in service
at this
time

 

my heart has beaten 1,851,645,017 times
along with
360,038,693 breaths

in her email
kajaani writes

maybe we’ll meet

on the exotic island of rnauritius
maybe go to a diner in alphabet city
see me in a park in rome
or

go skiing to the island of santa claus

lamas say life is
like

an illusion

my tea bag tag
said

something like

he hid his feelings
so

well

he lost them

 

 

 

THIS HAPPENS WHEN THE EXPERIENCES ARE MISTAKEN FOR ONES TRUE DESTINATION

 

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

 

 

 

 


A life in poetry – by Vincent Zepp

AND SO FORTH

 

I’ve had this thing called a creative urge as long as I can recall.  I was too poor for piano lessons and my art work was never hung up at school.  As a senior in Ligonier High School poetry, the poem, the poet was what was part of English class.  Senior year was British literature.  It didn’t resonate with me, but I was a good student and I did my assignments and got good grades.

That year there was a student teacher attached to our English teacher.  He was a good guy, close to our age and part of the culture we were all immersed in.  In an attempt to spark our minds he would bring in poems that he felt might serve as flint.  He brought in lyrics from the Beatles and others.  One day he brought in a poem by a guy named Ferlinghetti that began: in a surrealist year of sandwichmen.  I read it, understood it and enjoyed it.  I thought,  if this is poetry I can do that

Ferlinghetti opened my many eyes to poetry, not the friable texts of English classes but something alive.   Without a conscious effort I took the first steps on the road not taken – before I even knew Frost. Before I would read Lao Tzu , who said the journey of a thousand li begins with the first step.

The life of a poet, I found out,  was not appreciated or rewarded.  There was a constant pressure to choose between poetry and pragmatism.  No one was impressed that I could write a poem – only that I could get a job.

But from a phrase from the saintly Jack Kerouac, I was on the road – physically, mentally and spiritually. To be a good poet my teachers in college would say you had to do your homework. You had to grip down and begin to awaken as Doc Williams wrote.

I flew the Ferlinghetti nest because it was time to go.  I was well fed and well kept by him but it was time to fly.  Around that time John Berryman jumped off the bridge and killed himself.  Reading about that incident led me to read his work. I read everything he wrote.  The one thing about him was that I couldn’t lapse into imitating him, which often happens with novice poets.  One day I was reading an interview with him.  At one point he said – the important thing is that your work be something no one else could do.  Read that again.  That became the litmus test against which I judged my poems and everyone else’s,  continuing to today.

I became voracious to live up to that idea.  Growing up we were told  -choose your friends,  don’t let your friends choose you.  In doing so I ran into a book called Haiku Ancient and Modern by Asataro Miyamori.  The best book on haiku ever. It’s still in print.   Asataro took a grandfatherly approach to haiku.  But what a grandfather to have.  What a beautiful thing haiku is.  It introduced me to Basho.  I never hesitate to say the best poet ever. His frog leaping in the pond in my mind still. The whole cosmos in a few words.  The 17 syllable thing is only relevant in Japanese. He got to the quantum level before the physicists. The flash in the mind, pure without cleverness.

When I first read the poem In a Station of the Metro I thought – there’s a guy who knows how to write a short poem – a great piece of comedic irony.  Ezra Pound was one of the creators of modernism.  His name today still in some circles raises the hackles.  But no one can consider themselves a truly worthy poet without having read the Cantos. It’s the Mount Everest of modernism, and stands along Picasso’s work of that period as one of the monuments of modernism.   Modernism is not a movement but the moment we find ourselves in no longer wandering like a lonely cloud.  Caught in the cacophony and crapulence with nowhere to go but forward.  Pound taught  – make it new.  When the moment of poetry arrives, no longer welded to the past constrictions or contemporary conventions.  Not unlike Basho’s call for freshness of expression. Pound also introduced the west to Asian literature with his translation of the Jade Mountain poets, like the lovely Li Po.  It was Pound’s vanity that caused the curse upon him – leaving that wrenching line in the Pisan Cantos- pull down thy vanity.  Another grandfather to me.

If I didn’t mention Allen Ginsberg there’d be a big hole in the page.  One of my personal favorite accomplishments was being able to produce a reading for him.  I always learned something from him when I would read his poems.  Learning the mantric realities of the word, the role of the poet in the world, similar to Pound’s idea of poets as persons of action in history.  Allen was a gentle soul and I wish he was still around.  I miss my friend Dennis Brutus every day.

I know up till now I haven’t mentioned any women but not through omission.  Gertrude Stein and Pound couldn’t be in the same room together, but they both birthed modernism.  Denise Levertov planted the seeds of organic poetry.  I had a sweet tooth for Leslie Scalapino.

These were and are still the friends I’ve chosen.  But there were so many more like Vincent Van Gogh and Salvador Dali, John Coltrane and Miles Davis, John Lennon and Keith Richards.

I loved Janis Joplin and am heartbroken even now. How could I not love Billie Holiday.

Poets are part of that larger family of artists and I’ve been blessed to be invited to join all of them as friends at the big feast – movable as it is.

 

 

Vincent Zepp – Arriving at the time in history (including literary history) when I did I was blessed to have such a rich tradition of poetry, art, music, and culture to available to me.  This continues to allow my poetry to flourish in a rich loam of influences.  The work I believe is representative of the best thoughts and intuitions of my generation of writers whose challenge is to move forward with the gifts given to us from previous generation of artists. From Ferlinghetti, who opened my eyes, to Pound and Eliot,  through the various significant literary and art movements of the 20th century.  Then there was the haiku master Basho who showed us frogs leaping into the pond of our mind. John Berryman said our poetry should be something no one else could do.  I’ve tried to focus on that idea.

 


Poems by Ezra Maloney and Tamara Miles

Ezra Maloney is writer and student based in Dublin, Ireland. He has been published in a variety of student publications and newspapers and is currently working on his first poetry collection.

 

 

Connemara

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.

 

 

June

Sadness silenced me
like a glove over my mouth.
Caught by surprise
it pierced my heart
Red
like a child’s balloon,
with pin-fingered hands.

Often
I wake
Torn from sleep by some dark thing
or another
and lie
Watching hope sail like lost balloons
across the darkened sky.

 

 

 

Tamara Miles teaches college English and Humanities. Her poetry has appeared in Fall Lines; Pantheon; O’Bheal Five Words, Tishman Review; Animal; Obra/Artifact; Rush; Apricity; Snapdragon; Crosswinds Poetry Journal; Whatever Our Souls, Cenacle, and Oyster River Pages. A 2016 contributor at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and a resident at Rivendell Writers Colony in August, 2017. She has an audio poetry journal/radio show at SpiritPlantsRadio.com called “Where the Most Light Falls.”

 

 

Sweetgum Ball

 

Spiny hotel with vacancies, pits,

ant caverns, acne scars,

 

jester’s hat, crown

of thorns,

 

hard sponge in my closed palm,

 

punchy like the massager I bought

for my feet at the health food store,

which I loaned to my yoga

instructor (she never gave it back).

 

It leaves imprints on my fingers

that could be used in forensics,

 

and with that thought an urge to get

in the pond, lie down, face first,

 

be discovered all mossy, poetically

dead, a ghost who haunts

the sweet gum tree.

 

Spiked hair. It rolls, tumbles,

pinball, prize – hides a tiny green

parasite —

 

instrument of torture,

pointed ball and chain, swinging,

swinging,

 

a world in an eyeball, globe,

 

a crucifixion grape.

 

 

Pond Host

 

Bullfrog, your skin like a Spanish olive,

your blotchy body hid in swaying grass,

sunny throat that bellows blasts of the blues

between a threat and an invitation,

 

so kind to introduce me to the pond

at ten a.m. for yoga on the grass.

 

I haven’t known too many better hours,

or less demanding, simpler times of bliss,

out here in my peaceful meditation.

 

When at your shore I roll my red mat out,

seat myself to gaze ahead at green depths,

into woods beyond, where a buck protests

my interference with his lovemaking,

 

I go green myself, I go dark and deep,

crave only a silent moth as my witness,

will myself to seek nothing but thunder.

 

The companion voices in your chorus

are masters of acoustics in the night

and will wrestle you down for a female —

 

others among you, I’m told, are silent,

strategic types who wait rather than fight.

 

Oh, bullfrog, what we do for the mating,

the certain grasp, so brief after the wait,

 

or for the ballistic lunge and tongue strike

that signifies a different, dark hunger.

 

 

 

Emboldened

 

It ought to invite awe,

a snowy owl, a-flight,

prey proudly carried through

pines in winter’s cold hours,

when even mental boughs

are glittered with fine frost.

Behold her in reverse,

her feathers still glowing.

 

Think of nothing else save

the true sound she questions

out at night to remote

half-believers who may,

or may not, hear even

if they listen, proving

more deaf than dumb to this

language of tree-roosters.

 

Try, in vain, to follow

close her swift, retreating

wings, immortal as we

are, coming through dusky

woods, our fingers clutching

tightly to us a love

docile, surrendered, but

still breathing on its own.

 

 

 

 


Poems by Dave Kavanagh

Dave was born and still lives in Loughshinny, a tiny farming and fishing village in the coastal North Co. Dublin. He has been writing since he could hold a pen in his fist. His work has seen recent publication in a number of anthologies as well as online at sites such as madswirl.com and Medium.

Dave was the originator of The Blue Nib and now plays second fiddle to the more experienced poet Shirley Bell who has taken the editor’s chair since Issue Three,  allowing Dave to develop other initiatives to encourage the writing and reading of new poetry.

 

Dave is married with two wonderful kids and splits his time between Ireland and Betancuria on the island of Fuerteventura. He is currently working on a novel and a first collection of poetry.

 

 

Westerlies

 

My skin is no match

For your wild winds.

 

Eaten to my moon pie crescent,

waiting to be regurgitated.

 

In fourteen gnawed slices of

silent night.

And the eve of an

English bank holiday

Weekend

Sounds like a door slamming.

 

 

Calving Caesar

 

All day the boy watched through the rusted bars,

Eyes large with tiredness.

Counting the labouring steps of the Charolais heifer.

She paced and circled, lay, then stood again to pace

before finally settling.

She had no sleep in her, no head lowered to the

deep straw pillow, no soft lowing.

She heaved and groaned her maiden song of birthing

At twilight his father came, speaking words of herding,

Cush, he said, and cush, again,

like wind whispers, smothering him with soft blankets of sound.

His breath drifting like clouds above the peak of Kilimanjaro.

Voice, like stones rumbling along the shore of Sophocles Aegean.

The calf came, for all his waiting, in a rush.

Shocking, in a gush of blood,

all tumbling limbs and afterbirth,

landing together.

The heifer knew, and licked with certainty.

A bull calf, large topaz eyes, skull wet, with tight folds

of amniotic curls.

They stepped across the Rubicon together and

something broke within him, the string of aprons unravelled.

The boy had won the right of christening

and named the new-born bull Caesar.

 

 

No Moses

 

An unshod breeze tosses her cotton candy hair

at the billow of brown mountain.

High above, the herd gather on a dim blue horizon.

All called to earth by the broken people-

who, on dirty toes, follow dust roads,

receding into threads of desert silver.

One by one the woolpack break free,

breathing in the malted feast of newly born.

Daring to traverse the open plain where indigo meets palomino.

Rushing-  in unseen streams over the dry expanse

where scars of deep etched rippled seas dance,

on arid valleys and parched summits

A man, that understands the pain of loss, watches.

They group and split, drifting into nations,

learning hate and love and the spite of brotherhood.

He is no Moses, no diviner of the filthy fingernailed beggar.

His hands draw blue electric lines in sky.

Here- he cries as they gather. But they will not linger,

will not fall.

False prophets of a dewless dawn.

 

 

 

Beauty is a Small Tragedy

 

The morning is wet, a song thrush, freshly fledged

trails a twisted wing with all the broken symmetry

of a waxing moon.

She moves, head nodding, mustard beak busy with the

business of squirming things,

bobbing, she traverses the barracks lawn.

She is plump, full breasted, her young plumage still dark

and iridescent,

amber brown eyes, glistening.

Her song ensnared in a gay yellow trumpet,

still untuned for music.

She feeds, oblivious to the casual cruelty of seasons,

August is rich but Winter is coming.

 

 

An Elder Cat

 

Something moves between the variegated sedge and

the mimosa hedges.

A minor tiger stalking the long evening shadow

of a hoopoe bird.

Uneven, tufted ears and milk white eyes

arthritic spine,

frozen flat, she moves, in age stilted motion

the steps remembered,

but not the music of the dance of death.

Prowling the border

Between opposing worlds of wild and cossetted,

she growls.

Hunting the damp shallow humus for

bugs and insects.

The crested bird, a stride too far

and a stretch to high.

Dusk is no loss to irides,

when daylight is a pearlescent shade forgotten.

 

 

 

Empty Nest Syndrome

 

Touch the pillow,

feel the still warm hollow

where his head lay. Inhale.

Catch the water colour stain

of the red mug inverted on the silver draining board,

blink through a soapy tear,

reflect on the vacancy in shimmering green.

Search for the totemic signs of his passing.

A Pringles tin poking a flat cartoon face

from the white swing bin,

a crushed cigarette butt in the fireplace.

Cobwebs on the slatted blinds carry the vibrations

of yesterday’s conversation, laughter,

like raindrops on glass when he spoke.

Choke on the words you left unsaid,

Affection, uncommunicated or misunderstood.

Dust on your brittle, stilted tongue.

You should have told him how your chest swells with fullness

when you share the burgeoning crop

of his still awkward adulthood.

Your penance, to face the emptiness of leaving

and prayers offered for absolution in December.

 

 

 

Tourette’s

 

Mr Petrie speaks to the traders,

the dawn raiders of money markets,

the hedge fund managers and

commodity brokers.

The poetry of numbers

soothe his speeding mind.

Eloquently, he places his morning bets, from a cave

five thousand miles away.

At his cleft feet, a blue merle dog wags a waiting tail.

The charts and tables of digital commerce

dance in green neon on his velvet screen.

The screams abate,

his twitching tongue tied, by the flow of indices.

Later he will walk the roughly rutted roads

in an old coat that flaps and folds like murdering crows,

his mind uncinched, eyes wide –

terrified of living.

 

 

 


Book Review, From Doll House Windows by Lorraine Carey

From Doll House Windows, Revival Press, Limerick, Ireland, 2017, ISBN  978-0-9957333-5-0. £10/$15/€12

 

From Doll House Windows is Lorraine Carey’s first collection. Lorraine’s poetry appeared in Issue 10 and I was very pleased to have the chance to read more of her work in this book.

I enjoyed this collection very much. Lorraine Carey has a great ear for language, and her descriptions are succinct and powerful.

She deals in intimacy; miscarriage in 11 weeks, 5 days  where for her “Hope was chipped away” while in the opposite bed  six feet away was the searing sight of “the brunette’s elation with her bump.” And in Doll parts on the Shore, the lost child haunts her in the shape of a broken doll with “A white head and glassy eyes/of aquamarine.” Then we meet childbirth, in Your Late Present, “I opened/ like a slow flower on your birthday”, so there is beauty amongst the “frenetic…spasms….squeezing her out”, and the painful adjectives.

There is much pain in this book. Her childhood in the cold and tiny house that gives the title poem From Doll House Windows”  where, for now, her unborn sister is in “the safety of her amniotic sac”. How rapidly that sister changes into “a giant doll/with a grimace, in place of that beaming smile” in At Your Wake. it is interesting to see the precision of internal rhyme, which is one of the features of many of her poems, and the stark description of “your green skin”, “your coldness”, the “few little treats/Two purple  Quality Streets..” popped into the coffin.  She relates how her sister is depersonalised in Funeral Rights, with a “stuffy sermon could’ve been for anyone, anybody,” her age mistaken for thirty four not thirty three.

As well as these sensitive  observations, we also see her family and  her domestic life. Her daughter, Elise, loves to paint but also in Birdwatching  is  engrossed in her bird book and “gentle cooing.” The poet following gran “like a little chick” in Collecting Eggs, memories of sleigh rides and Christmas, of swallow nests hosed down, licking the cake spoon… but the nostalgia always has bite. Old age brings dementia in Walking Nowhere, the terrible “melting back into a whelk,……convinced he’s a boy again.” What can be done but to observe and record these horrors?

This is also fine landscape poetry, rooted in her harsh scenery, and her observations as an artist inform all of this work. in A Rail Trail she observes “Distorted trees like upturned/umbrellas crowd dry fields.” She evokes Kinnagoe Bay, with its “rocks….dressed in velveteen moss”.  She records her travels, too, with Ipsos Beach, Boston Common, the view of an undamaged North Tower, World Trade Centre  above “New York’s scuffle”; always dark times in the distance, future and past, like her homeland in Whirling in the Grey.

There is only one very small criticism. There is such a joy in the internal rhymes and alliterations that they can perhaps come too much to the forefront , as in Christmas Firs, where the virtuosity of “Crackling logs spat sap from a fire/banked up with coal and peat./Intense heat pinched pine needles loose,/falling daily as they fragranced the room,/shocked our sockless feet….” is almost too rich?

 


Breaking News! Michael Blackburn is judging the Chapbook Contest 2017

 

 

Michael Blackburn (born 1954) is a British poet.
From 1976 to 1978 Blackburn was an editor on Poetry & Audience, the poetry magazine produced by The School of English at the University of Leeds. Together with the American poet, Michael Coffey, he edited a special translations issue.
During the early-to-mid-1980s he was an editor on Stand Magazine, Newcastle Upon Tyne.
In 1985 he founded the poetry press, Jackson’s Arm, and in 1986 co-organised the readings at the Morden Tower in Newcastle with the poet Brendan Cleary, including the first Poetry Marathon in the northeast.
In 1987 he set up a small literary magazine, Harry’s Hand, which ran for four issues from London.
In 1988 he became Lincolnshire’s first Literature Animateur (Literature Development Worker), a post he held until 1993. During that period he also established Sunk Island Publishing, which issued Sunk Island Review, an irregular paperback of new poetry, fiction, reviews and translations plus occasional novels and other titles (Radio Activity by John Murray, Hallowed Ground by Robert Edric, etc.).
In 1995 he was a Writer in Residence on the Internet, courtesy of Arts Council/Channel, based at Artimedia in Batley, Yorkshire, and produced the hypertext project, The Last of Harry.
In 1988 he became a Fellow of the RSA.
From 2005–2008 he was the Royal Literary Fund fellow at the University of Lincoln where he now teaches English Literature and Creative Writing.

 


 


New poet, Dermot Christophers

Flavour

 

A cake the shape of a corpse

In the Summer heat rotting through

Its sugar fumes and eggs gone off by –

Had it been three months?

The cancer that riddled her bones and played organ failure in her like a bold child?

I lick the end of the bowl

The batter sticks to my teeth greedily

I cannot get enough of it

As the cake rises in the oven

Her body will be lowered to the ground

The only difference is air

 

I wonder if lemon was even her favourite flavour?

 

 

 

How to cope with insomnia

 

  1. Find the place

They’ll tell you stories of washed up hands

And fingernails that smell of your grandmothers soup

Don’t waste time investing in such dark illusions

This is the hour of no man’s land

Where you need to realise the quantity of your space and breath

Is far more important than the quality

The way you can roam for hours on end

Like a gerbil in a wheel

You need to uncover your hidden motors

And learn how to feel

When the hours stretch down to tree roots

And your beating heart is the branches, the trunk,

And the reason you move, as if there were a reason at all

 

  1. Forget your reasons

You may have heard tales of sad men wandering

Down the same laneway, approaching the same gateway,

But it doesn’t matter if he opens the gate

And witnesses his soul gone off past midnight

It does not matter how you got here or where you’re going

All that matters is that you are here

Train contentment into your wilting branches

Feed your mind, not on clarity,

But on the food you need

Learn to be alone with the questions

Embrace them like old lovers

And contort their reaching hands to latch onto your vapour like frame

 

  1. Try your best not to go insane

Build a shrine around your sanity

And recall the person you were during the day

Repeat your name, out loud, to the mirror,

To the blank stare of your computer monitor

And feel the buzzing of your sleep hungry mind

The white noise that is both your time and place

Here is where you build your sanctuary

And allow the split to take place

Accept that your mind may no longer match your face

Accept that this is all part of the night time game

Where you run in circles until the moment of your rebirth

Calls you to the bed that belongs to a much younger you

 

  1. Allow yourself to be renewed

Forget everything but how you digest the hours

In the small gulps of your replayed memories and outdated fantasies

Recall the one who knows you best

And try to keep your heart steady, breath steady,

Make use of this lottery of time

Nothing counts here, nobody keeps score

Allow yourself to fall deep into your subconscious

Where the men run with scissors

And the children’s laughter becomes the rhythm to a song you know so well but cannot place

Don’t try to categorise or rationalise

 

  1. Be grateful you are alive

Even as the night spins rollercoasters

And you want to scream with frustration

This is the fate that has been gift wrapped to you

Untie the ribbon

This is the moment of your awakening

They will tell you you are a tragedy

And have you make lists of all the people who have died at sea

Remember you are that old oak tree

That has been here for longer than we can possibly know

You are not being beaten down

Your branches will continue to grow

 

  1. Let your story unfold

From the grip, from the barrier, from the control,

Dance the hours away with a smile

You are not shipwrecked at sea

You are not drowning or drowned

 

You are a survivor

 

 

 

Stagnant Night

 

i.

 

I have the face of a tortured woman

One you wouldn’t want to meet

The face of a brute, tight skinned, red

lined savage unlikable and

Stripped of sincerity

 

I gained my reputation in how I failed to raise my children

Brought these stalks in and refused to tend to them

These weeds of mine hide out in dirty railroad lines

And I can’t stop shivering

 

What they take from me is my hate

I am left cold and at home in my cold

No one wishes to look long at me

All they see when they see me is:

 

A wisp of grey air

A cigarette smoke burning,

Burning I hide,

Burning I lie,

Burning I try to heal these children of mine

Who bear my haunted lips and haunted eyes and I feel ashamed

as I feel them die

 

ii.

Borne of a white tempered rage

That hovers in the air

Turning me insane:

 

Turning me to the dark,

turning me to the bottom of a bottle,

turning me bewildered until I find myself on my empty street with my empty self, with the dark light, and a ground littered with butts of cigarettes, that I smoke and smoke so feverishly, hoping and praying that they’ll work, that they’ll be the magic that will fix me,

cure me, burn red hot logic into my wiring, instead on this street

I sing my mad woman’s song as the night lingers on,

failing to move on, failing to carry what I need carried, leaving me open eyed and smoking and exhaling and and and…

 

Nobody looks at me

 

Not even the alleyway judges me

 

Nobody has a thing to say about me

 

iii.

The children play by the railway lines

Starving and homeless they leap from track to track avoiding

the shuttling trains

They don’t come to find me but I know they’re there

 

The moon shines down on my alleyway tonight

Brightening the tips of my untouched body

I have stopped shivering from the cold

 

My tortured woman face melts into the crevices of my skin

It is mine to own

 

To own alone.

 

 

 

Dermot is a 22 year old aspiring poet. He recently published his first collection of poems entitled “Lipstick Lies” a mix of fictional, personal, and philosophical poems, accompanied with illustrations by the  artist Meadhbh Sheridan. He writes short fiction and incorporating this storytelling aspect in his poetry is something that interests him greatly.

 


Josh Crayton – Bzzzz

Melinda moves and breathes for her husband Frank,

And favors cappuccinos in the morning and midday naps on Friday afternoons,

While sleeping Melinda is whisked away by a willowing woman with faint limbs

She transports Melinda over islands of mountanious terrain, sparkling green hills, crystal clear water and oceans of apples and apricots,

She whispers in Melinda’s ear; “I’d like to be a bee.”

Bzzz Bzzz Bzzz Bzzz

Melinda flickering in and out of consciousness hears a swarm of bees.

Bzz Bzzz Bzzz

 

 


 


About The Editorial Process

This is just a bit of information about how I approach editing the magazine. Sorry to be so OCD but it will save a lot of grief.

 

First a word about selection.  I am very sorry that I cannot make individual comments on poems that  I feel are not right for the magazine. These often include really interesting poems, so  please don’t be discouraged from submitting again.  If you read the poems that do appear you will get an idea of what, in my opinion, makes a good poem.  As a quick summary, I dislike over-abstraction and  a lack of immediacy,  and I am looking for a more pared down, less adjectival, vocabulary.  Often a poem only needs your editing to be a contender.
I am getting lots of submissions! If you have not heard anything, your poetry and/or feature is still being considered for the next issue. If your work has been accepted but has not appeared in this issue, it will be published in the following issue.
Please let us have a valid e-mail address (so I can let you know what is happening to your work). I have to have an actual name, as I cannot include you without that, an author biography, and ideally an author photograph.
I do reserve the right to correct spelling and punctuation unless the “mistakes” are intentional.
If your poetry has an unusual layout it often cannot be reproduced correctly in WordPress, which is notoriously flaky about this . There are two options here. One is for me to upload the layout as you want it, but as an image of the text, not the text itself. The other is to let it default to a conventional layout.  It’s helpful if you let me know what your prefer, but I will contact you about this if it is an issue.
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6 poems – 1

Lyn Byrne is a Communications Specialist.  She has worked as a print and broadcast Journalist and has contributed to various fiction and non-fiction publications including The Bohemyth, HCE Review, The Irish Times, Women’s Way, deafhear.ie and Anglers Digest.  She studied Creative Writing in the historic eighteenth century Carlow College.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girl Interrupted at her Music

(After Johannes Vermeer)

 

 

His fine diving digits grasp at my manuscript,

Odd prisms tap lightly on leger lines.

 

Cymbals clash with raspy notes through the closed door,

My bird rattles in her wooden crate.

 

Lion heads nod on my way away from his short shallow breaths,

Mine boomerang in my bonnet.

 

The sheets tighten in my hands as I wait for the door to open,

Blue silk slips between my knees.

 

Noises dwindle and my stare returns to a half filled glass of warm wine

fading away from the colour of my cherry coat.

 

Cupid remains still behind an oiled canvass,

His grip loosens and his wrists fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He is a Canadian and USA citizen. Today he is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, Illinois. He has been published in more than 930 small press magazines in 33 different countries or republics, and he edits 11 poetry sites.  Author’s website http://poetryman.mysite.com/. Michael is the author of The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom (136 page book) ISBN:  978-0-595-46091-5, several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems. He also has over 134 poetry videos on YouTube as of 2015: https://www.youtube.com/user/poetrymanusa/videos Michael Lee Johnson, Itasca, IL nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015 and 2 Best of the Net poetry nominations 2016 and 2017. Visit his Facebook Poetry Group and join https://www.facebook.com/groups/807679459328998/  He is also the editor/publisher of anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1530456762  A second poetry anthology, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses, Editor Michael Lee Johnson, is now available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1545352089

 

 

Alexandra David-Neel*

 

 

She edits her life from a room made dark

against a desert dropping summer sun.

A daring travelling Parisian adventurer

ultimate princess turning toad with age-

snow drops of white in her hair, tiny fingers

thumb joints osteoarthritis

corrects proofs at 100, pours whiskey,

pours over what she wrote

scribbles notes directed to the future,

applies for a new passport.

With this mount of macular degeneration, 

near, monster of writers’ approach.

She wears no spectacles.

Her mind teeters between Himalayas,

distant Gobi Desert, but subjectively warm.

Running reason through her head for living,

yet dancing with the youthful word of Cinderella,

she plunges deeper near death into Tibetan mysticism,

trekking across snow covered mountains to Lhasa, Tibet.

Nighttime rest, sleepy face, peeking out that window crack

into the nest, those quiet villages below

tasting that reality beyond all her years’

vastness of dreams.

 *(24 October 1868 – 8 September 1969), was a Belgian–French explorer, spiritualistBuddhist, anarchist and writer. She is most known for her 1924 visit to Lhasa, Tibet when it was forbidden to foreigners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Klepetar lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including three in 2016.Recent collections include Family Reunion, A Landscape in Hell, and How Fascism Comes to America.

 

 

 

 

Look Away

 

Look away from sunset and you will see

the sun nestling in the womb of night.

Look away and the magician’s hand

slows down.

Look away and you will know which cup

hides the little ball.

When you wake, the world appears

to flow and blur.

Borders merge and disappear.

Your third eye opens slowly and sees

a mermaid beneath the waves,

an angel tangled in the curtains in your room.

A door thumps in the wind.

Open it and you understand the language

of birds.

Last night you ate a dragon’s heart,

and now the stones have eyes, pine trees

smile with the mystery of roots.

You dress slowly in the cold,

enjoying the chill along your naked back.

Your shoes feel leaden and strange;

every step brings sensation and surprise.

You have learned to look away, and now

your eyes grasp wonders hidden in the heart of the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack Morris is a writer, musician & poet from South Dublin. His first poetry collection is due for publication in  late 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

Red Light Baby

 

To window shop

at murky monde,

a silhouette

of beauty knocks

her hair a shade

of filthy blonde

her pride to hide

behind her locks

& young boys peep

in leering must

the constant creep

of teenage lust

and scarlet winds

blow fat and true

a long way down

the avenue

 

 

 

 

 

Claire O’Moore, is an Irish poet. Her poetry is steeped with Celtic symbolism and Religious icons. Claire’s dabble with poetry began at sixteen years of age and continues to bloom. Claire’s main goal is to rake through her work and get it out there for the world to see. A gentle sensuality threads tentatively as a coarse, cognitive psyche dominates the plain of most poems. Seditious citing’s are marked by her pen as she glowers at the base energies of contempt and anger. Listen to the words harbored at the cusp of her soul and silently be whisked into a mind of repetitive solemnity.

 

 

 

 

 

Pot Belly Hymn

 

Your residue circling my stomach like a child paddling to the cap of my bellybutton.

Toying with the lead of the drainer, which stoops down to the tiny zygote of conception.

This anchoring bead, honorably, tied to witty, willed ancestry.

A gallery of faces pinned to my insides,

An exhibition auctioning the goods of the Saints.

Price metering the god-sent wig of popularity.

Tipping off the head of the auctioneer, we see the rolled ringlets darned to a bed of infertility.

Pouches of white cotton over-taking God’s seat.

“£5,000”, breaks from the wig’s coffin

“A pittance I know”.

Poachers’ eyes doubled over a hurdle of skin.

Minced acerbity as they jump to reach the nest of souls.

 

 

 

Anna Frances is an eighteen year old writer from Northern Ireland. Her short story, “A Lough as big as the sea”, was published in The Penny Dreadful magazine in August. Her poetry has aso featured in Abridged magazine, and she has also contributed to 101 words online. At the end of September, her poem “Underground” will feature in The Open Mouse online. She also has links to theatre and is currently working on her first play.

 

 

 

 

 

Michelangelo

For Michael Reid 

 

They pretend to slap their wrists,

it is not enough.

It is not enough for the cruelty in this ragged,

boneless structure. Where he resides, him

The dragging of music along the hopeless,

the flowers twisting in his mind, the garden

weeds grow and sing.

He hides in goo; white as plaster,

a face to efface all faceless cruelty.

God’s punishment, or his love.

I am Raphael’s eye

Copying the baby’s wobbling lip,

I am that  little being that

squirms and writhes like a cherub towards

divinity. Nicks in the skin,

healing over, like a martyr’s thumb:

pale and magnificent.

tendons crawl up and out of

me, kissing the wave of blood

Can you see it?

It is too far from this place, beyond white

steel or an Icarus stub

Dripping, dripping like a pain

that can only be a child’s.

Hands, feathers in skin work about

the rash on the stone. It cooing and

oozing, sighing like an old woman’s chest;

Mathematics in chunks,

breakaway, breakaway in love, genius —

Making the God’s wriggle in the skies.

New Apollo, light in the

underworld of this prince:

sculpting some crack in the

universe. A black hole of dust and

pen ink, breaking hell in two.

You —

Sistine blue

wax over a labyrinth,

word after word after blurbs bled from

moons —

The clear cut edge of the world snags and catches

on you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


6 poems – 2

Mark G. Pennington was born 1985 and lives and writes in Kendal, UK.  He has poems in TL;DR and Poetry Super Highway and is set to appear in Poetry Pacific, The Oddville Press, Scarlet Leaf Review and Futures Trading. Previous to this, publications are under the name J. Rose including a first book in 2012, titled Lithium Clockwork. He is also currently writing poems for a collaborative project on David Herrod’s waters of Cumbria.

 

Electric Ladyfish

 

Awash with pills and booze,

heartbreak trombone flutters the radio,

the jazz initiative colours blue,

an absent cigarette and

easel dust gathers like raincoats at an ATM machine.

Love is an answer,

a green telephone shakes

and the world keeps on turning,

stuffed inside a broadsheet uniform.

 

The train plays its last exodus,

hearts hooked to an excess of ampere

tinker within the dentist’s waiting room.

Monochromatic seizures come and

the destination stuck like locusts

in aeroplane mode.

 

 

 

 

James D. Casey IV is a published author of three volumes of poetry: “Metaphorically Esoteric,” “Dark Days Inside the Light While Drunk on Wine,” and “Tin Foil Hats & Hadacol Coins.” His books are available for purchase through his Amazon Author Profile. Mr. Casey’s writings have been published in print and online several times at places like Triadæ MagazinePink LitterIn Between HangoversIndiana Voice JournalPoetry BreakfastBeatnik CowboyDissident VoiceScarlet Leaf ReviewHorror Sleaze TrashZombie Logic ReviewWhispersYour One Phone CallI am not a Silent PoetTuck MagazineOutlaw PoetryPoeTreeStory MirrorStanzaic StylingsSpillwords PressThe Micropoets SocietyLeaves of InkPoetry Life & Times, and Realistic Poetry International just to name a handful. Also, Poetry Super Highway have his website Big Skull Poetry listed in their online poet archives.

 

 

 

 

 

My Only Wish

 

Listening to the rain
Thinking back
To how it made you
Happy
I remember your face
Smiling

Gloomy days
Spent laughing
Talking about galaxies
Parallel dimensions
Insane gods
Our favorite books
How there can be
So many of each
And how they all rule
Our lives
In the strangest of ways
Ways we may never
Understand

In the evening
You’d dance around
While cooking supper
Drinking dark beer
Smoking herb
And those fucking menthols
While eating zoomers
And singing
At the top of your lungs
Without a care in the world

If I’d only knew
You were sick
What you were thinking
How scared you were
Knowing something
Wasn’t right
Ignoring it
Just trying to
Live happy
Much like I do now

My only wish
Is that we had more time
Because the pain
It doesn’t fade
It only gets a little
Easier to handle
I know
That’s selfish
But I’d still wish it
Just to see your face
A few more times
And say the things
I didn’t get to

I think about what I would say
What I would do different
If it would even matter
Because we all die anyway
Even the best of us
Which you were
Teaching me things
Like how to live free
And die with dignity
With all flaws included
Owning them
Like golden medals

 

 

 

 

 

Dennis Moriarty – I am 54 years old and live in South Wales UK. I am married with five children and six grandchildren. I run a contract cleaning company with my wife. I love to read, write poetry, walk in the hills of Wales and delight in the Welsh language.

 

 

 

 

 

Drunk

 

Moon smeared across windscreens
An orgy of cars

And the damp warm climax of
Warm summer rain.

Headlights tasting the over ripe flesh
Of the night’s dark fruits

And he, a casual heap at the side
Of the road,

An impromptu spillage, empty as
A rabbit.

His eyes wide open to receive
The rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Mulvihill writes poetry and creative non-fiction and is a self-identified dystopian junkie. She was recently published in the June 2017 issue of Poet’s Haven’s, Strange Land. She lives in Ohio with her husband, two sons, and labradoodle, Luna(tic). She detests writing in third person about herself more than having to eat beets AND really bad pizza.

 

 

 

 

 

Inside Out Pain

 

I sink in the slippery callousness
the lack of urgency
the smell of dry air and cleaning products

doors numbered
like jail cells
faceless

when the cold handle caresses my hand
the wooden door
creaks it’s complaint

escorting me where
everyone goes
eventually

the hospital room dark
with moans
quiet with adults

numb with acceptance
steeped in assurances
faking wisdom

while I choke back
nausea
hatred of inside out pain

that requires surgery
medication
interventions

paralyzed with the
ridiculous notions of
dinner

errands and dust
on the shelves
waiting at home

while I grow up
here and silently
beg for you

to not leave me
yet
because I don’t know
how to fold the towels

and I cannot
find myself
without you.

 

 

 

 

D L Hume lives off grid in the south of Tasmania. As well as poetry he contributes to the critique of ceramic art and has many years teaching and travelling. Many of his papers and other works can be found at https://www.davidlhume.com

 

 

Front Bar Waiting

 

He cranked

open the heavy door.

The hinges announced

his entry

as the light

from the small

round window

scanned

the almost empty room.

He planted himself

on a lead heavy stall.

The type made heavy

so drunks can’t

lift them over their head.

He ordered a beer.

As it settled

so he did,

propping his bag

against the trough

that once caught butts.

Being unable

to close his ears

he tuned in.

      And your next question

      for two hundred thousand dollars…

Inane quiz show.

Corporate puppet.

Gullible fodder.

      Coming up in tonights news…

…is absolutely nothing.

He thought to himself,

realising how long

it had been

since he’d watched

commercial TV,

and turning his attention

to the other end of bar.

      You got me into fucking trouble

      You fucker…

He refocused

      In what year did…

He shifted again

      You fucking told my wife.

      Said I’m always in here

      You old cunt…

1968,

he mumbled.

      Correct answer.

      Now playing for

      two hundred and fifty

      thousand dollars…

He surveyed

the top shelf.

      You got me into fucking trouble.

      “I know where you’ve fucking been

      you old fucker.” She said.

He recognised

some unusual labels

and some familiar

      How would that change your life

      What would you spend it on?

He watched diners

through the whole

in the wall.

Chicken schnitzel,

always chips

and untouched salad.

      What the fucks it got to do with you,

      you old cunt.

He swallowed

the last of his beer.

The reflection from the door

swung onto him.

He swung his bag

onto his back.

His lift was here.

      Henry fucking IV

He said,

leaving his stall.

She knitted

a quizzical brow.

He gestured behind him.

      Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars…

 

 

 

 Ash Slade considers himself to be a mysterious person. Poetry has been his passion since 12 years old in 7th grade. A poem can take minutes or days to write, each one is important. Ash lives in Connecticut in a small New England town. Hobbies included collecting notebooks and poetry books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Untitled 8/15/2017

Cloudy, rain, no rain. Tall giants, dark green leaves
old shed faded red lantern in window years unused.

If you listen, it speaks to you, only you refuse to hear.

Weeds in yard wild, tangled too distracted,
blocks out rivaling specs. Sharply vigilant

don’t just walk away passin’em by.

Old deck splinter worn, stained in
fragmented photo reel.

It all changes, spans go by, still not adjusting
flow is not in the cards dealt.

Pick yourself up, dust off, gather your bearings
don’t pass over, not bought or sold.

Step in ‘n catch it, lock it in like a mason jar
contains fireflies lighting the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Issue 11, news and reviews

I have a very exciting announcement about our Chapbook Contest, which is going to be judged by Michael Blackburn, the well respected poet whose stellar career is described in the post in this issue. I have known Michael for many years since I was a Literature Consultant for Lincolnshire and Humberside Arts, and the judging is definitely in safe hands.
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This issue  showcases another fine selection of poetry, and I am delighted to welcome some feature writers too.
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 There is a good mix of styles and subjects here.  Vincent Zepp’s  poems are a breath of fresh air, and I like the fact that he responds to Ferlinghetti, Pound, Eliot, Basho, and Berryman. It is so good to have 20th century modernism referenced, the forms  are interesting and engaging, and I love the tone. His feature, And so forth,  enlarges on  his approach, and Josh Clayton also looks at Modernism and the routes modern poetry may follow.
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More traditionally, I have included a feature by Claire Arrand, Special Collections Librarian at the University of Lincoln, UK, who  explains the ethos behind such collections ( special pleading here, as my work is archived there). However, I feel it is of  general interest to get an idea of how work is preserved in University libraries around the country. In my own case, my material includes magazines and pamphlets which pre-date the internet, so they  would be lost forever if the archive did not exist.
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I have an excellent set of showcased work of individual poets. I’m sorry that I can’t mention them all but we have yet another fine Irish poet; I enjoyed Neil Slevin’s subtle use of rhyme in Sewing the Sea, and his Food for Thought is sharply pictured.  He also relates a poignant story in A Mermaid’s Song.  Ruth Ennis has  three acerbic poems, Bad Eyesight  with its sharp observation despite the title, her clever use of rhyme in Response to Feedback,  and Tusk Tusk Tusk, which is a description  of a chilly relationship.  Les Wicks’ Speculative Friction  is also sharp, but he also has some beautifully atmospheric poems with a rueful tone in The Walls About Samadhi and Christmas & the  Bicycle. I have also included our own Dave Kavanagh’s poetry, which is beautifully observed with first-rate descriptions.
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I have two sections for some choice individual poems, including (ekphrastic)  Girl Interrupted at her Music (After Johann’s  Vermeer), by Lyn Byrne for, as you know if you have read  my features, I  enjoy one form described by another.  I love the immediacy and sense of place of Front Bar Waiting,  by D L Hume, the  pathos of Dennis Moriarty’s Drunk,  and the nightmarish atmosphere in Revenant by Zebra Black, and there are  several other intriguing works.
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This week’s review features From Doll House Windows by Lorraine Carey, an excellent poet featured in the last issue. Send your books, pamphlets, chapbooks to The Blue Nib if you would like your work to be reviewed. Email submissions@thebluenib.com for the address to send them to.
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My Radio 4 reading is available now as a podcast, Boston Calling , hosted by charismatic poet, Benjamin  Zephaniah –

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Ian McMillan suggested me to the Made in Manchester team as a local poet, and I can be heard reading my poem Eastern Europeans, to make up part of the soundscape the programme created to illustrate the post-Brexit world of a mixed community. Like all these media things, metaphorically blink and you’ll miss it.

 


Neil Slevin – another fine Irish poet

Sewing the Sea

 

Fishing for water,

sewing the sea,

you sit at ease

on a swept, beaten quay,

passing no heed

to time, tide nor

in the distance, me.

 

Shimmering

is your joy,

the sun speckle

bobbing your face

and settling like stardust

in your golden hair embrace.

 

You are at labour, lost

in your working world,

another day’s laissez-faire,

your legs sway with the freedom

of the water’s flow; and where

splashes freckle day’s outlook,

 

life’s all moderate to fair

because you’re free

to stitch your ties,

ones that will exert

their own force,

not now, later,

in due course.

 

And so, unmoved

you return to your post,

fishing for water,

sewing the sea, almost.

 

 

 

 

A Mermaid’s Song



Today I went home searching

for waters deep enough

to drown my problems,

but then I thought of you.

As a child I heard your story

spoken of but never told,

how you grew unhappy,

feared you’d be taken away,

how you couldn’t bear the shame,

you refused to.

 

Now, I imagine you

slip out and edge your way

along shadows of fading light

through the estate,

hoping no hand will block your path,

no mouth will draw you back.

I follow you,

sense your relief

mottled by despair,

and advance into

the darkness you own.

I prowl behind you at a distance

safe enough to know

you won’t hear my footsteps

over your heartbeat

and the voices in your head

that pound against their prison walls,

shrieking for release.

 

You tramp for miles

yet finish in full view

of the home you’ve forgotten.

You stop, turn your back

on invisible, unwanted hands,

unheard, drowned-out voices

and shatter the water’s veil.

 

The sea accepts you

the way life never will,

wraps you with open arms,

and for a moment you sing,

a mermaid in her ocean,

your handful of notes bubble,

burst as they brace the air.

Then your song ends.

 

I listen to the silence

until strange men arrive

to fish the deep waters,

as if they’d always known

where to find you.

 

But I won’t wait for the boy

who thinks you’re still at home

hiding somewhere from him.

The one who’ll always love

the woman who wanders

up and down the hallway,

from room to room,

as if the house conceals

all of her life’s answers

and they are just sitting

at the back of a press,

waiting to be found.

 

The son who will always remember

the last words you spoke to him

and know they were goodbye.

 

 

 

Food for Thought

 

What’s eating you? they ask

when I push food around my plate.

 

Nothing, I say rawly,

not stealing a moment to hesitate.

 

I lie to them but not myself

(no, not to me, I see my fate),

 

I know what’s eating me.

Eating is, all too figuratively.

 

I eat myself bite by bite, bone

by bone – body, brain and soul.

 

Why? Because I can

and I can’t stop me.

 

Why should I stop; this is a

game in which I can win, lose

 

and see me, raise me, fold?

I’ll have to, in the end, but

 

not for me. I live divided into

selves. None of us are whole.

 

I hate my body,

know that he hates me.

 

Like a loveless marriage, we’re

stuck together, indefinitely.

 

Not because we want, need to,

must, but because we have

 

to be. I’ll eat away at him

while he eats away at me.

 

 

 

Neil Slevin MA, BSc is a writer from Co. Leitrim, Ireland, whose poetry has been published by various Irish publications, and international journals such as Scarlet Leaf Review and Artificium: The Journal. His flash fiction appeared in The Incubator. Neil co-edits Dodging The Rain.

https://twitter.com/neil_slevin


Poetry for posterity: Lincolnshire poetry at the University of Lincoln

 

Since 2014 Special Collections within the University of Lincoln Great Central Warehouse Library have been actively collecting material from Lincolnshire poets on the recommendations of Michael Blackburn, a poet himself and Senior Lecturer in the School of English and Journalism at the university. This has been (I hope) a very fruitful and pleasurable experience to all concerned, certainly from the point of view of the university. The aim is to capture current poetry, which can be used by the students, staff and members of the public, by poets who were born in or currently live in Lincolnshire, as endorsed by Michael. The collection will be searchable via https://specialcollections.library.lincoln.ac.uk/ when this becomes live later this year.

 

Poetry has been collected by David Lightfoot, Kathryn Daszkiewicz, Paul Sutherland, Peter Hyde, Rennie Parker, Robert Etty, Rory Waterman and Sam Gardiner. The kindness of Sam’s widow Eileen will ensure future readers and scholars have full access to his work. Each individual poet has his own large, acid free box or boxes and as new poetry is published it will be added to the collection. Copies of some of the poetry are available in some public libraries throughout Lincolnshire but this aims to be comprehensive within the constraints of the selection policy. The collection contains titles such as:

Bell, S. (2013) Behind the glass. Swineshead: Redplantpress.

Daszkiewicz, K. (2015) In the dangerous cloakroom. Beeston: Shoestring Press.

Etty, R. (2013) A hook in the milk shed. Beeston: Shoestring Press.

Gardiner, S. (2000) Protestant windows. Belfast: Lagan Press.

Ryde, P. (1989) Last lesson. In: Anne Lewis-Smith and Nicola Morland (eds.) Envoi summer anthology 1989. Newport: Envoi Poets.

Lightfoot, D. (2004) The Pentecost partnerships: a new selection. Harpford: Pikestaff Press.

Parker, R. (2014) Candleshoe. Beeston: Shoestring Press.

Sutherland, P. A. W. (2014) A Sufi novice in Shaykh Effendi’s realm. Dream Catcher Books.

Waterman, R. (ed.) (2015) Something happens, sometimes here: contemporary Lincolnshire poetry. Nottingham; Five Leaves.

 

Apart from collecting hard copies of the poetry, usually generously supplied by the poets, in 2016 we completed a project to record the poets reading their own poetry involving a third year Audio Production student, Mark Mullen. Poetry readings were recorded at two places at the university, in Exchequer Gate (editing out the sound of the cathedral bells) and sometimes in the poet’s home. As you can imagine this was a wonderful opportunity to experience the poetry as intended by the poet and very enlightening. Alongside reading the poems the poets also supplied background information about themselves, poets who had influenced their work and fascinating detail about the poems selected. This project was offered to the students as a piece of course work but Mark edited the recordings in his own time, as there was far more than he needed for his studies. A recording was also done of a selection of Maureen Sutton’s work. Copies of the recordings were obviously given to the poets. Without Mark’s help these recordings would not have been possible.

 

The university library has also been used as a venue for the poets’ new publications, which has been held in the evenings and open to the public and university community. During the last 3 years launches for Paul Sutherland’s New and Selected Poems, Shirley Bell’s Dark is a Way and Light is a Place and Rob Etty’s Down the Line have been enjoyed by all who attended. The first was to celebrate the launch of ‘Something Happens, Sometimes Here’ edited by Rory Waterman and featuring poetry by Alison Brackenbury, Robert Etty, Joel Stickley, Kathryn Daszkiewicz, Rory Waterman, William Bedford, David Cooke, Clare Best, Michael Blackburn, Sam Gardiner, Joel Strickland, Sam Gardiner and Rennie Parker. Poems were read by Kathryn, Robert, Joel, Michael, Rennie and Rory and greatly appreciated by the audience.

 

The next one will take place on Wednesday 25th October at 6pm for a 6.30pm start featuring Kathryn Daszkiewicz’s A Book of Follies. and Rory Waterman’s Sarajevo Roses. All are welcome, please contact carrand@lincoln.ac.uk for further details.

 

To try and encourage the enjoyment of poetry on campus there is also a ‘Poetry for Pleasure’ group, which meets monthly to read poetry. Not academic, purely as a means of sharing favourite and new poetry. As this has to take place in our lunch hour, for logistical reasons, it is only for university staff and students but it is hoped that this might be available for the public in a future library expansion.

 

The poetry collection is currently housed in the Zibby Garnett Library on the first floor of the library, alongside other rare or fragile items that are kept separate from the main university collection. All items within Special Collections are for reference only and it is best to book a slot, as a member of staff has to be present. Due to the nature of the items the room is locked for security. Unlike the contents of most of the university library Special Collections (such as local history material) are not superseded by later editions and must be kept safe for future readers. Hence the title of this piece Lincolnshire ‘Poetry for posterity’.

 

If you would like to look at any of the poetry in the collection please contact Claire Arrand, email address above.

Claire Arrand is Special Collections Librarian, University of Lincoln and Lincoln Cathedral.

 

 

 

 


The poetry of Les Wicks

The Walls About Samadhi

 

Freshly broken out from that shiny plane

I sink in a Delhi floral negligence.

Our cotton skins trap air like patient fishers

this place is on fire. We are calm, well-fed.

 

There are manners & lines,

bottled water passing spilt lives.

A terrible smile from beggary at the traffic lights,

we all look away as instructed. Avoid pain.

 

When we were both teenagers Robert started sitar lessons &

I thought I would fly. The rain fell instead on our dumb suburb.

A bulging passport now passes for knowledge

the stamps are proof I am not lost.

 

Take me away is my prayer for this day. 30 years ago a 16 year old

Jadav planted seeds on a 550 hectare desolate sandbar in Assam, he shames me

as elephants, tigers, rhinos now roam his daily tended forest sanctuary.

His people invented numbers & the light. I bend

 

with the inevitability of ants,

carry this small sack of thinking to the readings…

those hopeless carts of reputation.

Monkeys raid the city park rubbish,

 

they are the teachers, the excuse

on this mound of shopping. So polite –

we flee, embrace & falter

before the blinding glare of consequence.

 

 

Christmas & the Bicycle

 

An underrated tribe wishes you well.

The intricacies will curdle in the brain

so just scoop, this

record breaking summer but we’ve been there before.

On the intersection of Mi Mi St our bikes are immobilised

by a flowering gum. We wave to each other.

By Forest Rd the cars are howling like dogs

but it’s a kind of ritual, everyone

understands & ignores it…

less dire than other weapons

we elude mortality for today.

 

Global warmhearted, people have marked everything

but the courts won’t sit till February. Forgiveness

is beyond the budget so a pair of sweat absorbent socks

& a slip of mind is giftwrapped.

 

I have no problems with boats,

Jasmine does, after all, water ski.

 

 

Speculative Friction

 

Booking your holiday

3 dimensional online all included

puffer fish & chips… everything with alien egg.

We live in the future, science fictionalised.

 

You can speak into a microphone

& electricity will make you amplified in selfness.

We are rich in buttons & switches but

words are chucked in history.

 

Robots riot about democracy, all my friends

age against the machine. Tumble through wormholes

to worlds where birds rule (but have never been toilet trained).

Their pet humans scrape guano & prostrate.

 

Another planet has aquatic gas intelligence

but explorers only saw bubbles.

So much flatulence,

it’s almost like home.

 

Kepler-22 dresses like our lump, takes

to the sunshine, falls

within scientific parameters of life.

But does it have pools? Beaches? Bars?

 

The universe is a nail in the boffin –

so tiny, it sits on a finger

& spinning beyond the edge of our glass

spreads our heads like dynamite.

 

An atom will take us past galaxies.

We can travel in a blink. All around there’s the

teatowels of black holes, embroidered suns

& Cern is picking at the threads.

 

No doubt the future will arrive.

Gravity leaks into the 4th dimension,

our spaceships are already there,

hovering in the curl.

 

Back home in the dawn of now

I bend like the tiger lily

towards any slutty sunshine,

restless high on the sunlounge of promises.

 

 

How to cope with insomnia

 

  1. Find the place

They’ll tell you stories of washed up hands

And fingernails that smell of your grandmothers soup

Don’t waste time investing in such dark illusions

This is the hour of no man’s land

Where you need to realise the quantity of your space and breath

Is far more important than the quality

The way you can roam for hours on end

Like a gerbil in a wheel

You need to uncover your hidden motors

And learn how to feel

When the hours stretch down to tree roots

And your beating heart is the branches, the trunk,

And the reason you move, as if there were a reason at all

 

  1. Forget your reasons

You may have heard tales of sad men wandering

Down the same laneway, approaching the same gateway,

But it doesn’t matter if he opens the gate

And witnesses his soul gone off past midnight

It does not matter how you got here or where you’re going

All that matters is that you are here

Train contentment into your wilting branches

Feed your mind, not on clarity,

But on the food you need

Learn to be alone with the questions

Embrace them like old lovers

And contort their reaching hands to latch onto your vapour like frame

 

  1. Try your best not to go insane

Build a shrine around your sanity

And recall the person you were during the day

Repeat your name, out loud, to the mirror,

To the blank stare of your computer monitor

And feel the buzzing of your sleep hungry mind

The white noise that is both your time and place

Here is where you build your sanctuary

And allow the split to take place

Accept that your mind may no longer match your face

Accept that this is all part of the night time game

Where you run in circles until the moment of your rebirth

Calls you to the bed that belongs to a much younger you

 

  1. Allow yourself to be renewed

Forget everything but how you digest the hours

In the small gulps of your replayed memories and outdated fantasies

Recall the one who knows you best

And try to keep your heart steady, breath steady,

Make use of this lottery of time

Nothing counts here, nobody keeps score

Allow yourself to fall deep into your subconscious

Where the men run with scissors

And the children’s laughter becomes the rhythm to a song you know so well but cannot place

Don’t try to categorise or rationalise

 

  1. Be grateful you are alive

Even as the night spins rollercoasters

And you want to scream with frustration

This is the fate that has been gift wrapped to you

Untie the ribbon

This is the moment of your awakening

They will tell you you are a tragedy

And have you make lists of all the people who have died at sea

Remember you are that old oak tree

That has been here for longer than we can possibly know

You are not being beaten down

Your branches will continue to grow

 

  1. Let your story unfold

From the grip, from the barrier, from the control,

Dance the hours away with a smile

You are not shipwrecked at sea

You are not drowning or drowned

 

You are a survivor

 

 

 

Stagnant Night

 

i.

 

I have the face of a tortured woman

One you wouldn’t want to meet

The face of a brute, tight skinned, red

lined savage unlikable and

Stripped of sincerity

 

I gained my reputation in how I failed to raise my children

Brought these stalks in and refused to tend to them

These weeds of mine hide out in dirty railroad lines

And I can’t stop shivering

 

What they take from me is my hate

I am left cold and at home in my cold

No one wishes to look long at me

All they see when they see me is:

 

A wisp of grey air

A cigarette smoke burning,

Burning I hide,

Burning I lie,

Burning I try to heal these children of mine

Who bear my haunted lips and haunted eyes and I feel ashamed

as I feel them die

 

ii.

Borne of a white tempered rage

That hovers in the air

Turning me insane:

 

Turning me to the dark,

turning me to the bottom of a bottle,

turning me bewildered until I find myself on my empty street with my empty self, with the dark light, and a ground littered with butts of cigarettes, that I smoke and smoke so feverishly, hoping and praying that they’ll work, that they’ll be the magic that will fix me,

cure me, burn red hot logic into my wiring, instead on this street

I sing my mad woman’s song as the night lingers on,

failing to move on, failing to carry what I need carried, leaving me open eyed and smoking and exhaling and and and…

 

Nobody looks at me

 

Not even the alleyway judges me

 

Nobody has a thing to say about me

 

iii.

The children play by the railway lines

Starving and homeless they leap from track to track avoiding

the shuttling trains

They don’t come to find me but I know they’re there

 

The moon shines down on my alleyway tonight

Brightening the tips of my untouched body

I have stopped shivering from the cold

 

My tortured woman face melts into the crevices of my skin

It is mine to own

 

To own alone.

 

 

Les Wicks has toured widely and seen publication in over 350 different magazines, anthologies & newspapers across 28 countries in 13 languages. His 13th book of poetry is Getting By    Not Fitting In (Island, 2016).

http://leswicks.tripod.com/lw.htm


The poetry of Ruth Ennis

Bad Eyesight

 

My friends were miniature and talkative

We used to save worlds and run investigations

Whenever my mother asked where they lived

I couldn’t explain the concept of imagination

 

Those whom demanded respect when they spoke

Talked down to me with a blank smile and a vacant stare

They asked about my hobby but would not laugh at my joke

When I realised if I didn’t ask about them, they didn’t care

 

I used to see the souls of objects bursting from their skin

I would squint my eyes, to dim out the surrounding light

And witness blurry outlines; things externalising what was within

This little view I held was revealed to be my bad eyesight

 

Some children try to escape the world of propriety, but instead

Grow up to accept, spreading the word; “Peter Pan is, in fact, dead”

 

 

 

Response to Feedback

 

“It’s formless and pretty wordy”, you noted.

Fair and honest, as irrational

I responded to your criticism.

After the nine months I have doted

Upon you, it is inconceivable

That, not through the medium of film,

 

Prose, song or poem, I haven’t divulged

The cliché, sweet, long and painful tightness

You pierce my chest with ev’ry single day.

So, in perfected form and pace, I mulled

Over this, the piece I name for you, less

Than you ever deserve. I wish I lay

 

Beside you when you awake, or rather,

When I wake and you watch my unfocused

Eyes search for you, instinctively longing

To see the mountains in your iris or

The sweet surprise, your lips I’ve boasted

To be the best I’ve known, the dawning

 

Sun interrupting our rare time alone,

But I don’t condemn it, as it’s the sign

Of another uninterrupted day

With you. You kiss my skin to reach the bone

That you shake inside me, remind me mine,

mine alone, are your hands. This is to say

 

I respectfully appreciate your

feedback, but also, my desire for

A life with you has no rhyme, rhythm or

Reason.

 

 

 

 

Tusk Tusk Tusk

 

When elephants hold hands they can’t hold legs. That’s just silly.

They have big heavy rocks for toes and tall wide trees for knees.

Their knees are kind of immovable.

That’s a sort of irony, isn’t it?

 

So elephants hold hands with their trunks.

They are small and slender and nice and sweet.

They wrap around and around and around until they headbutt each other, but no no,

they need to be careful they don’t pierce anything with the sharp bones.

 

Your hands are the tusks. Cold and immobile.

I can wrap myself around them, and around and around and around.

But they stay the same. Indifferent. Quiet.

But they’re what the hunter wants. So I’ll destroy the trunk to feel the bones.

 

 

 

I am a Bachelor of Arts student in University College Dublin, having studied English with Drama. I write mainly for theatre and short film, although I have a passion for prose. Poetry is a new venture for me; a field I hope to expand in by learning from others. Themes I cover include children’s literature, personal development, retrospection, regret, human and animal rights.

 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ruth-ennis-360260147/


Out of Control – Out of Definition – Writers of a New Era – J. Crayton

I have a strong affection for modernism. It is a deviation from the Victorian standards of high morality and the strict rules, regulations, and religiosity of the early English settlers. Toward the 19th century we find stories written out of the native tongues of the sons of early immigrants, for the indigenous were already here. What was taboo becomes an exploration of the human sensorial palette, an acknowledgement of the hedonism and the pleasure seeker in us all. Modernism was born out of the urge to experience something different and Americans in particular started to hear from people of many different backgrounds, colors, and political parties. I would venture as far to say that following World War II many of the soldiers, having visited far away lands, brought the memory of the far east back to America. Those men, having fallen in love with the art and language of the far east began to revel in those customs on American soil and we find an insatiable interest in eastern philosophy. Let us take for example “The Dharma Bums” by Jack Kerouac, a novel about a young man traveling through life looking for transcendence from the dandyism of America.  One distinct element of post modernism is the entrance of the voice of men and women, marginalized, and widely read. There are many elements to identify modern literature, and I have included a few that I feel make post modern literature a dynamic force of social and political change.

Writing Out of Definition

Does being a black American male limit maintain or define my experience? The character flowing out of the pen could be of any race nationality or creed. They could be of any sexual orientation, said or unsaid. When I write out of definition I become the character in the story , I lose my heritage, I lose my class, and age. I lose my culture and all the limitations and essentials contained within the parameters of the social construct. Read Langston Hughes, Let America Be America Again.

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

Out of definition the writer is free to be who ever he wishes to be.

Writing out of Form

I attempted to write a villanelle. I wanted to convey a message and I couldn’t figure out the best way to convey the message through the limitations of the villanelle poetic form.  The villanelle form would be a fixed 18 line poem consisting of 5 tercets and a quatrain. Take for instance a draft of Bzzz, a poem I tried to fit into a villanelle.

A1 She whispers in Melinda’s ear “I’d like to be a bee.”

B Flickering in and out of consciousness Melinda hears a swarm of bees

A2 Bzz, door rings

A Franklin, frankfurter, I had the oddest dream

B You can catch more fly’s with vinegar than honey

A1 She whispers in Melinda’s ear “I’d like to be a bee.”

A Bees die by self mutilation

B Satisfaction in sugar preserves, self preservation

A2 Bzz, door rings

A I sat at a desk for eight hours at 8

B Synthesizing sound; you can catch more fly’s with tea

A1 She whispers in Melinda’s ear “Id like to be a bee”.

A Synthesizing symbols, stringing scenes of sequential realities

B Flying, billowing clouds, bathing in rose petals,

A2 Bzz, door rings

A Synthesizing words, worlds of make believe

B Bathing in rose petals, supersonic flights past tall blades of grass

A1 She whispers in Melinda’d ear “I’d like to be a bee”.

A2 Bzz, door rings

The poet who writes in the form can sometimes play with the words. It could be that line A1 reads a particularly different way, in tercet 3, than line A1 reads in tercet 1. The most annoyed and inspired poet will play with form if one has to produce a villanelle. The poet who doesn’t follow the form will have an easier time authoring a poem, of several volumes.

Out of Structure

There are many writing workshops where veterans, teachers, writers will say the structure of a short story, memoir, or narrative should be A, B, C. The writing is not like building a machine, although it can be. There isn’t a structure upon which to hang a plot.  I remember reading books as a young adult and being excited about the books that would let the reader choose an outcome that would lead to a different ending. Would you choose differently each time to see what the different choices lead to?

Out of Linearity

One of the closest examples of this is the script of Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. It follows a couple who have no memory of each other dating again. The relationship begins again after the two meet for the first time after dating each other for several years. Linearity follows a leads to c and one can give a concrete step formula of how he got to c. Is any of this really true? Are those concrete examples the way the reader got to c. The idea that the past is the mother of the future is unreal. Let us suppose we ask an engineer how he came up with a formula for the creation of a machine. He may say the idea of the finished product came first and then he started to create the formula that would become the machine.

Out of Control

Writing out of control requires no judgement of the author as a writer or the story or poem and message begging to flow through the pen. The subject matter could be anything. Many out of control writers, write books that are listed as banned books. Sometimes they become exiles of their native countries. Sometimes the message will be associated with a sense of urgency almost as if the books illuminating the passages find you and beg you to take them with you. Events will occur in such a way that ignites the process and triggers the knowledge one has to write the story.

 

 

Josh is an American writer. He is a graduate of Western Washington University and a graduate student of Argosy University where he studies counseling. He uses alternative methods of healing with his clients and purports a great massage can do in one hour what two hours of great counseling can do. He lives with his two best friends, in Atlanta Ga.