Issue: Issue 4. 3rd July 2017

How I define Poetry

By Rajnish Mishra


What is Poetry? Well, in my past, in discussions, I’ve never answered this question with certainty or finality. Now is the time and this is the page to do that. As it is difficult and faulty to attempt a one line definition, I’ll try to offer characteristics upon which there may be some sort of agreement. Poetry may have some or many of the characteristics mentioned below.


For a modern reader, and not audience, poetry is a thing on page or screen, i.e. a visual form. Alternately, for an audience, it may be taken as an aural-oral form that is for listening to and reciting. As “history is bunk” (Henry Ford), I will not refer to any book or critic to support me in this crucial venture. As a man cannot be but biased, so I am biased, and I am biased towards the aural-oral treatment of poetry. Therefore, it can be said finally that “poetry is a set of sounds that please by being arranged in a pattern of meanings that conforms to a wide range of available possibilities“. That raises the question of verse versus poetry.

Invoking Coleridge’s differentiation of verse from poetry proper, it can be said that poetry is not just a set of patterned sounds. It is much more. It has beauty or/and concentrated meaning in it and both are important. Beauty is given primacy as a defining characteristic of poetry because mere meaning can be conveyed in prose form too, and some say, in a better way. That does not mean that prose is not beautiful. How can a person who’s read even a page of prose in Bacon, The Bible, Dickens, or, if we follow Shelley’s drift in his “Defense”, Plato, can call prose not beautiful?

Poetic beauty, then, is different from beauty in prose (Remember to forget that there’s poetic prose of James Joyce and prose poetry of the modern poets to disprove that point). Poetic beauty constitutes of sound patterns, rhythm, rhetorical figures, tropes, symbols, images and, even in this postmodern age of no fixed points, diction. A poem may not have all the characteristics mentioned above, but it does or may have many of them.  This blog is about creation and appreciation of poetry, about its theoretical questions: raised, answered and unanswered, and above all, about taking joy in it.

If critical theory has succeeded in convincing me of one thing, it is that: ‘It is impossible to define anything, abstract or concrete, with absolute certainty’. Applied on poetry, my wisdom will be re-phrased in a focused manner as: ‘It is impossible to define poetry with absolute certainty’. Convinced as I am of the infallibility of theoretical wisdom, I dare to look into my own practice in life, and find out that I am not at all theoretical. I never ask, ‘Can I define poetry?’ as I do define it, and I know that I do so.

Instead of defining it through the text in hand and its characteristics, poetry can be defined by its effects on the reader/audience. There’s a risk here as the attempt may end up as another footnote either to the Romantic idea of poetry or to the reader-response kind of analysis. As I know that risk, I’ll try to stay clear of both Scylla and Charybdis (conscious allusion to the redoubtable critic-poet Mr. Eliot).


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.


How does a reader/audience call a piece a poem? How do I call a piece, e.g. the four lines above, poetic? Of course I don’t carry a check list and tick mark characteristics to decide the things. I simply read the lines and vote by the end of the very first line. That will not do in a formal piece of writing. So, let’s see what makes these lines poetic. Does poetry lie in its form? Does it lie in its content? Or is it the appeal of the theme and subject to something in me that makes this piece (subjectively) poetic?


To answer the first question, let’s change the form by the simple act of paraphrasing:


I wonder if I can compare you with a summer’s day, although you are more beautiful, calmer and more soothing to senses. Although strong breezes disturb the calm and peacefulness of the days in that season and the season itself is too short, from the larger perspectives.


I have tried to keep close to the meaning of the verse lines but the result does not sound or feel like poetry. What happened during the transformation? The iambic pentameter lines rhyming in quatrain form were converted into an amorphous prose mass. The play of sounds (e.g. alliteration, assonance and consonance) was altered and watered down. The strategic positioning of key words was lost and there passed a glory from the page. Therefore, poetry has a strong and definite dependence upon form (we’ll not deal with the inconvenient categories of poetic prose and prose-poetry here).


Coleridge had taken another verse to prove a similar point about poetry in his Biographia Literaria. Here’s a very well-known verse that we’ll read to see whether it’s a poem too.


Thirty days hath September,                                                                                           April, June and November;                                                                                             February has twenty eight alone                                                                                All the rest have thirty-one                                                                                   Except in Leap Year, that’s the time                                                                    When February’s Days are twenty-nine


It’s a powerful and useful mnemonic aid and I am very sure that you have heard it. Can it be called a poem? Well, I will never call it a poem. Why? Its content and purpose are not at all in keeping with what we see as poetry, i.e. there are cultural indicators that are unwritten and ingrained up to the sub-conscious level, that make easy and fast decision making possible while differentiating between poetry and non-poetry.  I have been accustomed to, trained in a tradition that does not let me accept the piece above as poetic, although its form is verse. I don’t have to run the paraphrase test here. There’s no need for that as decision making is not at all difficult. Culturally speaking, the content of a piece plays a major role in deciding its type. Now we have reached our third and last question:


Is it the appeal of the theme and subject to something in me that makes this piece (subjectively) poetic? There’s a definite relationship between my liking or disliking a piece and its theme and subject, but that has no relation with its being in verse or prose.


Barring the exemplary exceptions, answering the first two questions will help us decide whether a piece is poetic or not. The process that quickly assesses whether a piece is poetry/poetic or not consists of comparison and/or contrast and placing a new example in relation with the old ones, i.e. assessing the new piece on the touchstone of tradition. Therefore, my expectations from poetry regarding form, content, propriety etc. will decide whether I call something poetry or not, and my expectations will arise from my own past exposure to the poetic tradition.



Handling the rejection slip…Follow the yellow brick road.

By Dave Kavanagh


Rejection slips are not a rejection of your work, they are merely the view of one editor with a limited focus, limited resources and often limited space. Publishers gravitate towards work that appeals to their own taste and it is part of the human condition that tastes vary. A rejection slip is not a condemnation of your work it is rather a vindication of your effort.

You are alive, you are writing and you are submitting. Keep doing it, if one publisher does not like your work there are hundreds more. If you have a burning desire to be published in a particular collection, magazine or to be liked by a particular editor then read what they have previously published. See if you have work that will fit that particular profile. But do not under any circumstances alter work that you have faith in just to please another’s taste. 

The only critic of real importance is yourself, the only rejection slip to fear is the one issued internally, that is the one that kills dreams.

I have stolen these dozen quotes from cyberspace- quotes from authors who you will all have heard of, they speak about how they view the rejection slip. It seems the universal view is that rejection slips are infact just incremental stepping stones on the path to a dream realised. 

“This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.” – Barbara Kingsolver
David Mitchell Quote
“I got a rejection letter from an editor at HarperCollins, who included a report from his professional reader. This report shredded my first-born novel, laughed at my phrasing, twirled my lacy pretensions around and gobbed into the seething mosh pit of my stolen clichés. As I read the report, the world became very quiet and stopped rotating. What poisoned me was the fact that the report’s criticisms were all absolutely true. The sound of my landlady digging in the garden got the world moving again. I slipped the letter into the trash…knowing I’d remember every word.” – David Mitchell
“Rejections slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil – but there is no way around them.” – Isaac Asimov
“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” – Sylvia Plath
“You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.” – Ray Bradbury
“Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.” – Kurt Vonnegut
“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.” – James Lee Burke
“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”  – Neil Gaiman 



“I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, ‘To hell with you.’“ – Saul Bellow
Anita Sheve Quote
“To ward off a feeling of failure, she joked that she could wallpaper her bathroom with rejection slips, which she chose not to see as messages to stop, but rather as tickets to the game.” – Anita Shreve 
JK Rowling Quote“Often, you have to fail as a writer before you write that bestselling novel or ground-breaking memoir. If you’re failing as a writer – which it definitely feels like when you’re struggling to write regularly or can’t seem to earn a living as a freelance writer – maybe you need to take a long-term perspective.” – J.K. Rowling  
“Rejection has value. It teaches us when our work or our skillset is not good enough and must be made better. This is a powerful revelation, like the burning UFO wheel seen by the prophet Ezekiel, or like the McRib sandwich shaped like the Virgin Mary seen by the prophet Steve Jenkins. Rejection refines us. Those who fall prey to its enervating soul-sucking tentacles are doomed. Those who persist past it are survivors. Best ask yourself the question: what kind of writer are you? The kind who survives? Or the kind who gets asphyxiated by the tentacles of woe?” – Chuck Wendig

Escaping the dead hand of writer’s block 1.

By Shirley Bell


I have the dubious claim of having had one of the longest periods ever of writer’s block (although I was still active in art and photography so my creative life was redirected rather than altogether dead).

As a result, I have an interest in methods that can help with escaping the dead hand of writer’s block.

One technique is “Found Poetry” – Wikipedia’s definition is below.


There is a great suspicion about found poetry, that it is a cheap gimmick, too easy, a bit like monkeys, typewriters, and Shakespeare. However, it can also be a successful way of bypassing the parrot on the shoulder, the critic that endlessly tells you your work is no good, you shouldn’t bother, who wants it, who needs it and jibber jabbers on.

I’m not advocating mind altering drugs. Instead, this is a relatively simple way to mine the depths the critic is guarding to discover the new ideas, fresh connections, and the creativity that lurks below.

At its best, found poetry is a covetable combination of art and literature, like the work of Tom Phillips in A Humument , his altered Victorian novel. All you need is a piece of text –  which does not have to have any literary merit. For example, I collect old Readers’ Digest novels to use for new sketchbooks and notebooks, because the covers are often surprisingly attractive under the dustjackets. The contents are generally old thrillers or love stories, but by choosing a sequence of words across the page I often find surprisingly interesting ideas appearing.

I have used this technique successfully in workshops, distributing pulp fiction, pages on fly fishing and other miscellaneous pieces of text.










The harvested words can either be circled, as on the left, or can become  blackout poems developing this idea by obliterating the text, as below in
Chris Lott’s Blackout poem. Source text: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Flickr.or degrading its importance with paint or marker pen, right, A Humument.






Another approach is the use of cut-ups, a technique originating with the French Dadaists in the 1920s and famously expressed in 

How to Make a Dadaist Poem
(method of Tristan Tzara)

To make a Dadaist poem:

  • Take a newspaper.
  • Take a pair of scissors.
  • Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem.
  • Cut out the article.
  • Then cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in a bag.
  • Shake it gently.
  • Then take out the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag.
  • Copy conscientiously.
  • The poem will be like you.
  • And here are you a writer, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar.

–Tristan Tzara


This was elaborated on by William Burroughs:-

Cut-ups are for everyone. Anybody can make cut ups. It is experimental in the sense of being something to do. Right here write now. Not something to talk and argue about. Greek philosophers assumed logically that an object twice as heavy as another object would fall twice as fast. It did not occur to them to push the two objects off the table and see how they fall. Cut the words and see how they fall. The Moderns: An Anthology of New Writing in America (1963)


The technique was also used by David Bowie for his song lyrics as described in a 1975 BBC documentary, Cracked Actor

Where he says it was not always a direct way of writing songs but it was always a method of “igniting imagination”



Refrigerator poetry sets exist, and there are apps for tablets and smart phones which allow you to construct surreal poems by sliding tiles around. I have printed out lists of “refrigerator words” and used them in a workshop. This was effective and produced lots of work, some of it surprising.

Word list

This one is not for purists as it allows you to add your own definite articles, the, a/an; conjunctions forandnorbutoryet, and so; prepositions inundertowardsbefore, offor











Below is a screenshot from  play., which is free to play online.


(Ah, I can see that I have made a “poem” on the left including “the champagne air is brilliant”, I love that). You can send the poem to facebook or email it (to yourself if you want a copy) and the kits are Original, Poet, Love, Mustache, Nature and Geek. It’s funny, easy to use, can come up with some surprises and is a hit for waiting at the dentist etc when you only have a smart phone with you. There are other apps, and the internet is teeming with examples.



So what’s to lose? Instead of chewing a pen you can be defacing (old, worthless) book pages, cutting up text, or moving words around on a fridge or a screen.

In workshops these techniques have been engrossing, often funny, and have surprised people. It is like opening a little door into your subconscious, rummaging, around and dragging things back to function as poems in their own right (sometimes) but always as a source of inspiration.








Writing poetry for little people

by Dave Kavanagh


As writers we all wish to leave a mark, something that will immortalise us, a book perhaps, a collection of poems or stories with our name standing proudly on the cover. What could be better than to say that your work influenced future generations, that your words helped mould the minds of poets and authors to come?

Writing poetry for children is not as straightforward as one might think. They are a discerning and critical audience with a flair for honesty, if they think your poetry is not up to scratch they will tell you. But if you get it right, they will be enthusiastic and appreciative in a way few adults can be.

There are certain rules for writing all forms of poetry and if you specialise in children’s poetry then these rules still hold true. You must have a keen understanding of metre and rhythm, your poetry must be engaging and tell a story. Your characters must be larger than life but still believable.

Many who attempt to write in this genre fail because they try to emulate the great children’s poets, Dr Seuss or Shel Silverstein for example. But they lack the craft and besides, why try to copy when you can be original.



The plus side of being a children’s poet.

The biggest plus of writing for children is freedom, the unlimited opportunity to create. Children have limitless imaginations and as long as you obey the rules and write well they will accept the outrageous, the comic, the impossible, indeed the more outrageous, the funnier and the more ridiculously impossible your poetry the more likely it is that you will find an audience.



Children love rhyme, especially those younger ones who are still learning and experimenting with language. They enjoy the way rhyming words bounce off the tongue, they want to learn, and rhyme allows them to memorise.

If you enjoy writing in rhyme then here is a ready-made audience for you. There are two main formats, rhyming poetry & better still rhyming stories, each has a different set of rules and each has it’s own pitfalls.


Rhyming poetry must be immediately engaging, it must present a scene that children can relate to, catching the school bus, getting dressed, riding a bike, all of these present endless possibilities for writing. You must compose your poem in uncomplicated language. (However, you can and probably should make up words that children will enjoy).

A poem for children must have faultless rhyme with no jars or stalls, small tongues trip easily. If you write a children’s poem you must read it aloud or better still have a child read it aloud, if there is any hesitation, if for a moment the metre fails or a child has to stretch to fit a word in, then you need to edit the work. You must create characters and scenes in a short few lines, so every word must earn its keep. Children will immediately lose interest if you have not done your job properly.


Rhyming Stories: now here is an opportunity to allow your muse to run riot. To tell a story in rhyme, to create characters that children will embrace and that parents or teachers will enjoy reading. All the same rules apply as per writing children’s poetry but in a story, you have the added challenge of a storyline, character development, and a conclusion; a strong ending.

In The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson tells the story of a mouse who though small uses his wit to escape from a fox, an owl and a snake by making up the story of a creature called the Gruffalo to scare the fox, the snake & the owl. However, in the end, his imagined antagonist becomes real and the mouse is faced with his greatest challenge, how to escape the jaws of the Gruffalo. This story illustrates wonderfully how a writer creates an engaging story which children will enjoy hearing and parents will love reading.



The Opening.


A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.
A fox saw the mouse, and the mouse looked good.

“Where are you going to, little brown mouse?
Come and have lunch in my underground house.”

“It’s terribly kind of you, Fox, but no –
I’m going to have lunch with a Gruffalo.”

“A Gruffalo? What’s a Gruffalo?”
“A Gruffalo! Why, didn’t you know?

He has terrible tusks and terrible claws,
And terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.”

“Where are you meeting him?”

“Here, by these rocks,
And his favourite food is roasted fox.”


(NOTE: I have used colour to differentiate between the voices of the three characters, the Narrator, the Fox & the Mouse. In the book these lines appear on different illustrated pages so the child knows who is speaking)


In these first few lines the author introduces the hero, sets up the conflict and demonstrates the mouse’s ability to grow, these are all elements of any story either for adult or child. The difference with writing for children is that you must achieve these elements quickly and it all must appear effortless. Donaldson has also introduced three distinct characters in her opening, the narrator who will tell the story, the mouse who is the protagonist and the fox, the first of the antagonists that the mouse will encounter. Donaldson’s well laid out text allows a reader (a parent or teacher) to use different voices for the three characters and in children’s poetry this is important and adds to the strong storytelling element. So constructing your rhyming story requires strong characters, a good storyline, a protagonist that a child can sympathise with and at least one protagonist who children can visualise clearly and be a little afraid of.  These are all the rules of good storytelling but in a rhyming story you must also incorporate faultless metre that has a definite pattern, these stories must lend themselves to be read aloud and read dramatically.



So if you are now inspired to write children’s poetry there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself.


Firstly, as with all writing, you should read and read and read and then read some more. Read as much and as many differing examples of the genre as you can. Don’t stick to the old favourites but instead get yourself to your local library and see what is being published this year, this month. Publishing trends change, so take your reference and guide from what is being published now not what was published ten or twenty or fifty years ago.


Secondly, find some little friends, take your kids, grandkids, nephews, nieces to the park, watch them but more importantly, listen to them. Pay close attention to how they use language, note what they find funny, scary, sad. If you have already written some poetry then read it to them, watch their reactions and ask for their opinions but beware, children have a talent for brutal honesty.


Finally, when you are ready to write, try to be original. With a child audience, you need to be unique, to place your characters in unfamiliar situations. A knight fighting a dragon is old hat but a dragon with a toothache or a dragon with a sore throat is new and easily imaginable. Do not write in cliche, children will hate it, present interesting, dramatic scenarios, create memorable characters (like the gruffalo) and for younger children, be certain your ending is not just happy but that it resolves all of the conflicts you set up.






Erotica Vs Pornography in poetry.

by Dave Kavanagh


Firstly I want to say that this is a dispassionate discourse and not a judgemental article, it is not an attempt at covert censorship or editorial opinion on the merits of one form of poetry over another. I rather wanted to define and discuss the difference between pornography and erotica and its use in modern poetry.

So firstly let us look at the definitions of the two vying words.




printed or visual material containing the explicit description or

display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual




books, films, pictures etc that

are intended to make you sexually excited. Erotica is a positive way of describing

such things. A more negative word is pornography.

So these dictionary definitions give us a starting place for our conversation.


Pornography, by definition, is explicit, it appeals to the visual sense and is a display or description of the sexual act in an overt fashion. It deals only with sex on a base level and does not deal with the feelings or senses outside of the description of an act.


Erotica, on the other hand, is, some would argue, a more artful approach to a similar subject and is more covert, it is used to excite all of the senses by describing the act of love making on a more subliminal level. Erotica explores, touch, feeling, and all of the senses.


For me Erotica is never a means of realising the pornographic, in fact I would argue that pornography and erotic are diametrically opposed.

Pornography in its intent is a means of denying the power of erotica. It portrays sex as an act only and ignores all other elements of love and even lust.


Pornography is at the fundamental level denying the power of eroticism and insists sex be described viscerally. Erotica on the other hand deals with sex on an intellectual level, exciting the senses and the emotions of the reader.


Let us look at an example of pornographic poetry.

Excerpt from:

When I Looked at Your Cock My Imagination Died

By Ariana Reines

‘When I get on your cock like a bag is like my face is scared but you can see my nails around your cock it goes in like a dirt sack fast is the pussy like a pink crusted with dirt

I bounce there is a sore on my hip like your epilations from behind he throws me off I gaze up and

the shaved cock is fat like a man none of us has hair I just look confused I guess you like it if

my nails are against my clit the bad wax leaves red bumps or when a latina gets ready to take

on the two cocks she knocks on the door in a hard hat and the fat guy shakes his dick at her

but when I fuk you I mean when I really get banged my two tits like greased basketballs

bouncing bouncing bouncing’

Ariana Reines

is the author of The Cow (Alberta Prize, FenceBooks 2006) Coeur de Lion (Mal-O-Mar 2007) and Mercury (FenceBooks 2011) and the translator of My Heart Laid Bare by Charles Baudelaire, for Mal-O-Mar, and The Little Black Book of Grisélidis Réal: Days and Nights of an Anarchist Whore by Jean-Luc Hennig, for Semiotext.


Now let us look at an example of erotic poetry.

Excerpt from:

Boy in a Whalebone Corset

by Saeed Jones

when night throws itself against
the wall, when Nina Simone sings
in the next room without her body
and I’m against the wall, bruised
but out of mine: dream-headed
with my corset still on, stays
slightly less tight, bones against
bones, broken glass on the floor,
dance steps for a waltz
with no partner

Saeed Jones, a 2010 Pushcart Prize Nominee, received his MFA in Creative Writing at Rutgers University–Newark. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in publications like Hayden’s Ferry Review,  storySouth, Jubilat, West Branch, Weave,The Collagist, and Linebreak.  His chapbook, When the Only Light Is Fire, is from Sibling Rivalry Press.  His blog For Southern Boys Who Consider Poetry is dedicated to emerging queer poets of colour.

It is clear to see from these two examples the opposition of Pornography v Erotica. In Reines poem the poet relies heavily on language to convey a scene, she makes little or no effort to convey meaning or emotion and leaves little to the imagination of the reader.


In the second poem Jones shows us a scene that relies heavily on senses, sound (Nina Simone) Feel (Bruised and out of mine) imagination (a waltz with no partner)

Both poets are accomplished and recognised as talents and these examples are both fine representations of opposing styles.

I personally favour the style of Jones but that is not to say that Reines poem is any less relevant. Pornography  has a place, it can be viewed as critical or subversive and it stimulates debate and that is at the heart of what poetry is about.

Poetry 2

Tanka for Butterfly Baby Grand Piano

By Marieta Maglas


A butterfly lands
on a pressed piano key.
Makes the sound be like
a vortex at the wing edge
with a tremolo effect.



Ardus Publications, Sybaritic Press, Prolific Press, Silver Birch PressHerEthics Books, and some others published the poems of Marieta Maglas in anthologies like Tanka Journal and Three Line Poetry #25 also #39 edited by Glenn Lyvers, The Aquillrelle Wall of Poetry edited by Yossi Faybish, A Divine Madness edited by John Patrick Boutilier, Near Kin edited by Marie Lecrivain, ENCHANTED – Love Poems and Abstract Art edited by Gabrielle de la Fair, Intercontinental Anthology edited by Madan Gandhi, and Nancy Drew Anthology edited by Melanie Villines. Her poems have been also published in journals like PoeticdiversityI Am not a Silent Poet, and Our Poetry Corner.



channel 194

By Wanda Morrow Clevenger


we don’t get

HBO & Showtime

since our network

got greedy


instead we get the



ufo channel 194


we didn’t request it

it just comes free

with our no-frills



and they let me keep

my soap channel

but moved it from 4pm

to 11am on 4

and 6pm on 117


I watch it at 6pm now

while we eat supper


the man doesn’t like

anything I watch, calls

all of it stupid

but still doesn’t bother

to get up at 6 pm to eat

in another room



Wanda Morrow Clevenger is a former Carlinville, IL native.  Over 443 pieces of her work appear in 155 print and electronic publications.  Her flash fiction “Roses and Peppermint Candy” won the 2014 Winter Short Story Contest in The Holiday Café.  Her poem “corsage” won the 2014 Black Diamond Award for Excellence of Craft in The Midnight on the Stroll Poetry Contest. Her nonfiction “Big Love” was nominated for 2016 Best of Net by Red Fez literary journal.





By Gaynor Kane


How hard they were to herd, heaving beasts roaming loose,

casually chewing cud and looking at us like mad things.

Delighting in the deliciousness of weed-free grass,

thickened by morning dew and lengthened by a good spell.

Branded with a stubborn streak, they gathered in a gang

and all our shoo shoo shooing and be away with ya nowing

did nothing to make them reconsider. They feasted,

filling all their tummies, trampled, turned lawn to sods.

There is a network in villages like this; under the radar

communications, bouncing your troubles between walls

like white noise. Help arrived before asked for.

Charlie T on a quad, full fired throttle up the drive,

braking hard kicking out a gravel cloud. Behind

wee Tommy T, carried willow twice his height.

They dismounted, approached the cattle, surefooted.

Sent silent signals, tenderly tapping on flank or rump.

Although Tommy was short of years, cows responded

filtered into a line, sauntered in pairs down the drive,

through pillars, up the lane; all done without a word.

Swooped shovels, scooped and hurled the still wet pats,

into the trailer like sliotars. Shook mute apologies,

then were gone. Leaving our dumbfounded laughter

to break the silence, against the rape field backdrop

of our invasion, looking at the trodden, sodden lawn.


Gaynor Kane is a graduate of the Open University with a BA (Hons) Humanities with Literarure. She has had poems published in the Northern Ireland Community Arts Partnership’s anthology ‘Matter‘ and in online journals, such as: AtriumPoetry, The Galway Review and Panning For Poems. Gaynor was recently appointed as a member of the Executive Board for Women Aloud NI. Founded by Jane Talbot, Women Aloud aims to support female writers from and/or living in Northern Ireland.



After the sunset rises the poet

By Ranjnish Mishra


What do poets do in their long weekend?

They take their family out, grocery shopping,

tend to plants, fill water in inverter-battery,

take car for service

(it drains from the monthly fund),

After getting broken bumper, rear, welded

(after having bumped into a pole in reverse, that very day),

play with their little daughters,

(there are two)

and make calls


to friends, uncles and brothers.


Poets are human too,

just like me; just like you.


After the sunset rises the poet.


As the day passes and the night falls,

and sleeps the world, the wife, and daughters.

Then the poet rises,

to do what makes Everyman a poet.




Rajnish Mishra is a poet, writer, translator and blogger born and brought up in Varanasi, India. He is the editor of PPP Ezine, a poetry ezine. He has a blog on poetry, poetics and aesthetic: pleasure: https:/ His poems have been published in several print and online publications..





Fly Fishing

By David Grant


An empty bag
Blown full by the wind
Like a fish fighting against the tide.
Earlier it lay face down on the road
Crusted up on its edges.
But the wind brings the dance
And the bag is aloft.
An apparition;
A battling fish.

Please come home soon.
Im sick of lying dead-flat.
Make wind
And breathe air into
So we may swim.



David Grant is in his own words.

‘A little startled. A little startling’







Poetry 3

The Esoteric Poetry of Physics

By Luiz Canha Machado


I’m leaving soon,

So it’s farewell

To world’s own materiality.

I stole what I could

From my time here.

All I can see now is

Humanism in rags,

The open vein

Bleeding the new theorem.

Organic as I am,

Roughly framed

By space and time,

I lost the battle of endurance.

I lived for something

So intangible

That only a dream

Could dream of it.

You know I’ve always been lost

In the esoteric poetry of physics.


Although they said

I was just a collection

Of Joycean flecks,

I’ve seen the sum

When I was in the asylum

And I refused

To be emptied

Of the narrator’s prism.

I would never sober up,

Have a grip on economics,

Discuss politics,

Learn some maths,

Or quit the search

By understanding statics.

I only knew how to live

For something so ethereal

That only a dream

Could dream of it.

You know I’ve always been lost

In the esoteric poetry of physics.



Luiz Canha Machado was born in Porto, Portugal, in 1971. He started writing poetry at the age of sixteen, drawing inspiration from his own life, the XIX Century Romanticism and the counterculture movements of the XX Century. He first wrote exclusively in his mother tongue but soon began to write in English also. Since then he alternates his poetry in both languages. Yeats, Neruda, Whitman, Ginsberg, Joyce and Kerouac are among his personal favourite poets and writers. Besides poetry and literature, his other passions are music and history. He married his high school sweetheart and continues to write to this day.  He has two books on Amazon, “Misplaced Poems” (2015) and “Chapters of Poetry” (2016). His poem “Utopia” (the original Portuguese version) was selected to be part of Portuguese contemporary poetry anthology “Between Sleep and Dream VII”, published in Lisbon in 2016. You can visit his website on 



Bottle Caps #1 

By Ash Slade


Ridged edges

Popped off

Cold brew.

Refuse of


Barren bottle

Idles inside

Sitting —-

Expecting —-

Degradation to set in.


Degradation to set in.

Expecting —-

Sitting —-

Idles inside

Barren bottle


Refuse of

Cold brew.

Popped off

Ridged edges.



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.



The Winter Room

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



Mary Chydiriotis is a social worker and writer living in Melbourne.

Her poems have been published in journals and anthologies both locally and overseas, including Social Alternatives, Garfield Lake Review, Offset, Short and Twisted, Tincture Journal, The Unprecedented, Professional Amateur and Right Now; Human Rights in Australia.

Mary has worked with migrants and refugees in the community sector for fifteen years.



desert bloom

by Lora Lee


if ever there were
gods or goddesses of desert
of the drylands
of parched earth some call home
they would be surprised to learn
of the miracle of
this Spring deluge
unfurling forth
from deep within
the crusty dermis
of this sublunar territory:
hydrangea and Sodom apple flower,
intermingling their hues
of mauve and lilacs,
as well as the color of sky
blooms of the succulents
popping open
in celebratory dance
in wild fuschia
sunray butter:
a dazzling botanic trance
hollyhocks of magenta,
veils of bougainvellia, too
sweetpea clusters
curling in the trellis
weaving heavy-scented magic
through and through
a private orchard of lemon tree, and apple
olive and pistachio grove
One would not guess
the endless giving
of this desert treasure trove

And I feel like a goddess
of mythology softly spun
like Demeter, or Ceres
ancient Egyptian Renenutet
my hands spread out
in the licks of gentle sun
for as spring pours forth its honey
all through this barren land
I , too reawake
and flush out all the infected,
dust-scratched sand
I welcome in
the waters of abundance,
of love, of light under stars
let new energy wash out
old poisons
my radiance spilling far
Reaching out unto the Universe,
cradling this heart
I cup the buds of blooms,
of nectar
to inseminate my dark
allowing me
to release the past
and seed within me, lit
the atoms
of  new
unfolding bit
by tender



Trembling Hands

By Peter Gate


Innocence within, breeds violence without

For every blush you will reach for the knife

Innocence judges, violence finishes

Wisdom holds no opinions

it treads lightly in a heavy land

but he always remembers

he becomes immune to repetition

and its consequences

Never let my hand go

not without the knowledge


you like the water it doesn’t make you cry

we were friends years ago

but now its forgotten

you built a boat that flies

now I remember


How goes the war or shouldn’t I mention it

No we have made progress on reality

I hand around street corners begging

I lost my job as a general

What do you fear the most?

Children with guns or

Old men with no memory

holding the button



As You Want

By Daniel Wade


Spare me the histrionics. Words like ‘traitor’ and ‘love’

Are too strong for whatever it is we do to each other.


Your Spotify playlist skips on repeat, my half-drowned silence

Splashes in a tumbler: it’s either you or me this time,


Bone-rattle or spitfire tongue, your lip or nipple bitten,

My searing milk between your legs, bunched knickers


Or coiled river, fruit hanging low in the sun-starved grove.

You learn to ignore the pouring glaciers’ plod,


The waves’ rogue gurgle, both pending as the whim of God.

You unzip me, just as you are in the getaway car,


Wanting what I want, and not wanting to surrender first.

Kipling warned against making dreams your master;


Wilde said your punishment would be the sight of dawn

After a night spent in the moon’s full company.


Yes, you want passion; but only according to your taste,

Tailored, cloaked, sealed in medium-rare ferocity.


Yes, you hope for Heathcliff; a man with elemental soil

Drying his heart. But instead, you get me, only me,


And nothing but me, and we’ll take the choicest of liberties

With one another. For my part, I have no offering


For you, bar these limbs and these lines, that you may use

Or discard, forget or sweat over, as you want.






Poetry 5

Retiring the Geisha

By Iris Orpi


How quickly
the seductive heroism
of continuing to choose
the chosen
seems to have forgotten
that there is no sustaining desire
without sacrificing the certainty
that used to be
the one deal breaker.
The path becomes a petri dish
for temptations
and their many names:
the last craved heartbreak,
the unchangeable past
once again coveted,
requiring the arduous
but futile task of finding
old blame long buried
to dig up and use as fuel
to the fire that had once
choked with noxious smoke
all chances of discovering
the kind of pain worth
greeting every morning for.
Where the famed happy ending
is not ten thousand delicate
shivers down your spine from
the same familiar touch,
the nights become
prison walls vandalized
with euphemisms for
the same taboo: I thought
I wanted this, but now
I’m not so sure,
as if the weight of years
curled up in bed with fistfuls
of loneliness and matted hair
and insecurities that itched
to the point of bleeding
had merely been an oversized
pill you only needed take
with a heady chaser
and slept off. As if
there had been other roads
you hadn’t explored
to the very end lugging
that soul-defining luggage
before you arrived
at the conclusion that
the horizon you’d glimpsed
in all of them
is your personal ocean,
and it reflects all your stars.
Home and hearth can sound
hollow like a desert,
and how easy it is to be
fooled that life is small and
resembles walking in circles,
that the mirages bear
the face of your savior
from the oppressive order
you yourself have built,
the permission to flee the
eye of the monogamous moon.
But do you remember
how many times you tried
to throw away everything
you’ve fervently carried
for a dance and a kiss
and a flame-colored dawn?
How they all turned out
to be made of paper that
could not hold your hunger?
How you splintered into pages
of despair, and grew old
from all the spells of fever
that broke against your light.
How the price for possessing you
neither rose nor fell,
but went laterally across
the field littered with those
love stories spread thin
even with the grandiosity
of the telling.

And all your trying led to him.


Why Poets Need to Travel

By Iris Orpi


At 36,000 feet with will
and purpose cruising along
a preordained path
brushing against strangers
and buckled-and-strapped
into flights of fancy toeing
the line between time zones
knowing that familiar faith
is on board but wondering
where, exactly, I reach up
over my head for what’s mine,
for the reminders of when
I handpicked my own life
and the book falls open
on a page where an unfinished
poem sat abandoned, with
a note beside it that shouted,
“It’s going nowhere because
you don’t mean it,” perhaps
a suggestion by fate or muse
that airborne creatures owe
truth no favors except to try
to aim at the direction where
the noisiest, most turbulence-
savvy metaphors are going.

* * *

Here, gravity and light are but
disposable symbols, moments
are not chronological and
the people back home don’t
miss any of us yet.
The sleep-deprived senses are
all window seats to the breath-
takingly beautiful impossible.
Anything goes. We are free
to store physics and feelings
in ziploc bags, reject
personal limitations that
exceed three fluid ounces,
and finally get around to
reverse-engineering the sky.


Watching Ships

By Iris Orpi


You are the poem in my womb
waiting to be answered,
the war in the sky
the burning sunset pays homage to.
My reason runs blind among stars
in devotion to what you left behind
for my beguiled muse to follow,
a peregrine through a wood
chased by refracted light.
You are the crux of knowing:
like the first encounter with pain,
the told secret,
the no turning back.
The scepter of the love
that didn’t see it fit to awaken
and break apart the chrysalis
of innocent touch and conversation
has marked me,
reversed me,
exposed the silt
under my surging rivers
and extracted the diamonds,
the place where once the hypnotic
ease of your nearness grazed my soul
now a dark tattoo shaped like night
that you’d have to love away
the layers before you can see.


The Last Rendezvous

By Iris Orpi


Dealing with loose ends
is autumn’s inconsistent lover

being high on a love affair,
both passionate and imagined,
with giving up shades of green
for reminders of gold,
streets that are littered
with wet love letters and
the feeling that everything
is about to change
and leave us alone

and so the bed of memory
becomes fire and we reach
a little farther than we are
prepared to let go
and try to finish things
the unkempt hair of last night’s
frolic with indecision getting
tangled with every goodbye,
every movement
towards the door

in turns negotiating,
then, lustily revelling
in the recollection
of once being so ignited
then, feigning indifference
as we run our fingers
along the place
where it still feels good
after it has stopped working

and we are dirty again
with moments
we’ve almost forgotten,
almost being the word we use
because it takes too much space
to say our innocence didn’t
get spared by the brutality
we have set the stage for,
because we gave too much

and we hurry to make sense
of the half-hearted healing,
parts of our skin still
covered in spring
and a bitter taste
on the corners of mouths
that find it too soon
to speak, but too late to kiss

reading between the lines
of the falling leaves before
they, too, become casualties
before the first snow
as promised
and we should, somehow,
suddenly measure up
to this demanding, nearly
matrimonial devotion to shadows
and salting the frozen paths

and blaming the tilt of the axis
instead of chemistry failing
for the consummated,
unrequited, broken tether
to the lost summer.


Turning Stones at Low Tide

By Iris Orpi


“Tell me,
what are your intentions?”
the flesh asked solitude,
who was shaped like a friend
but was hollow like a lie,
whose constancy rivals
that of love, and whose
movement is the anthem of
how faith can have exceptions.
It wore the question like
a wavering breath, and took
its time until the act of waiting
for an answer became two
imperfect metaphors for night.
So the flesh pierced
her earlobes, reveling in
the pain, and put them on,
loops of moments that
bend like metal and
bear reminders like stone,
not knowing if she is satisfied.

“Do you think all this
is temporary?”
solitude wrote on her skin,
deep brown like the truth
so powerful it evades foretelling.
The flesh received only
the symbols and not the words,
like prompts of pleasure in
a maze of dream sequences,
not bothering to respond.
It is one thing to acknowledge
loneliness, another thing
to engage it.

They honor each other
best like this, in halves.
Like confessionals, flung
to the wind. It’s the language
of transgressing the cliché
of hunger, that view of sea
from the edge of the pier,
where flesh spreads her desires
like vendettas across
the weathered planks
and solitude leans softly
against the railing,
aligning all things with
their respective shadows.



Iris Orpi is a Filipina writer living in Chicago, IL. She is the author of  the novel The Espresso Effect (2010) and the book of compiled poems Cognac for the Soul (2012). Her work has appeared in dozens of online and print publications all over Asia, North America, and Europe. She was an Honorable Mention for the Contemporary American Poetry Prize, given by Chicago Poetry Press.






Poetry 4

Waste Disposal 

By Naomi Tate Maghen


sometimes your eyes
are a fossilised embryo,
set just before hello

and my palm hesitates
on a heavy wave,
paws the remains of
a kleenex death

sometimes you look
straight at me
and I am a forgotten thought
on a broom that’s collected
too many screams
in a house that barely
holds in the storm

sometimes I’m the
and all your lips can do
is float



By Naomi Tate Maghen



our blooms cling
to the wooden bark,
a tapestry of varicose veins
crawl up the house
as if to say,
you’ve stood still
long enough


I remember when every red
was a thunderclap,
pursuing a bright flash
of recognition
in an unfurling of petals
and the miracle of rain,
after a twinned season
of drought


how every touch
was a thesaurus
of expressions
and both of us,
such willing students


is it possible
that we’ve learned too much?

the drunk vine
has turned a
pepto bismal pink
where it’s trespassed
over the exits


as a reading lamp
spoons me in bed


Sleeping beauty knew the apple was poisoned, but you kissed her anyway

By Naomi Tate Maghen


there’s a bushel in my head~
a black hole
where my clarity
takes her nap

not a cat nap,
waking at the first
creak on the stairs
of your sanity

nor a good night’s sleep
that would stir
at the sound
of your foundation’s

but a heavy log,
carefully manoeuvred
and released
square on my brow

a handful of rohypnol,
washed down with
a single malt

that’s my happy default



Naomi Tate Maghen grew up in London, England, in an orthodox Jewish household. Daughter of an immigrant father from Lybia, she was always very conscious of being an ‘outsider’, which was heightened within her home life by being the only non-believer in the family.  At eighteen, after experiencing many anti-Semitic incidents, Naomi moved to Israel on her own, where she has lived since.

Naomi has always been very creative, she dabbled in poetry from a young age, but her main creative outlet was visual art- painting, drawing, sculpture and photography. In 2015, she completed a Bachelor degree in fine art and education with honours, and in 2016 she taught art to youth at risk. In September of 2016, after undergoing spinal surgery that left her bed-ridden for a number of months, Naomi started focusing on writing.

Today Naomi divides her time between working in her studio on her visual art, and reading and writing poetry.

Naomi has four children and is married for a second time.




By Ann Coberley


When I think of him,
I recall
the faint smell
of sex,

the salty taste
of brine and sweat
on his skin,

the rough feel
of warm sand
on my naked back.

I remember
our deserted cove,
and the abandon
of new love,

and I wonder what images
he has preserved
of me.



By Ann Coberley


He lurks
in the accumulation
of my years,

ready to devour
the best
of what I used to be,

to sew me up
in the skin of someone
I no longer know.

He may ravage
the smooth mask
of youth,

but I will take
what he leaves,
and twist it
into a new shape,

remaking myself
in whatever form
I care to be.



By Ann Coberley


you called me,
the stuff of stars,

ageless as the universe,
ancient as the illusion
of love,

as a moonbeam,
a shimmering vapor,
dancing in the stillness
of midnight.

And I believed you,
falling in love
with myself,

as dew in sunlight,

as ash in the wind.


At Ease

By Ann Coberley


These days
I am more content
than happy,

a woman who simmers
rather than boils,

more careful
to preserve the heat,
less willing
to lose everything
in a cloud of steam.

is a thing of encores,
of rhythms and rituals,

and I find myself ready
to embrace the comforts
of continuance.



Ann Coberley in her own words: My name is Ann Coberley. I live in West Texas with my husband and dogs. I teach anthropology at a local college. My graduate degrees are from Hunter College and The City University of NY Graduate Center. I have a grown son and three grandchildren. I practice both yoga and meditation. I play the piano and I love to read. My passion is writing poetry.





Poetry 1

Where I come from

by Malkeet Kuar



Where I come From

There’s no group I belong to,

No caste no sect no race.


And one step short of losing a gender.

But that is not possible.


I have been carrying this bleeding burden for too long,

For past thirty-seven seven years or so.


I have been doing it with such a panache

and the uterus and I are synonymous now.


There’s no country I come from

No known city or town.


I come from within a box of baked bricks I call home.


A box echoing the clashing pans

And as I step out I bump into shoulders all around-


Frozen and stiff


When you return to the place with mauled twigs you call home,

You know you come from a place that could be anywhere.


But it’s neither here nor there

Yet one step short of nowhere



Malkeet Kaur works as a teacher in a public school in Mumbai. She writes verses to express her deepest feelings. Many of her poems are published in online journals and anthologies.






By Michael A Griffith


My hands are dirty from what I have just done

Things happen so fast, before I can think


I am a good person

People tell me that

My mother raised me to be good

But I still get dirty hands

Did my mother

It feels like my hands are gloved in dirt

and they might never be clean again

I think



Michael Griffith began writing poetry as a way to heal his mind and spirit as his body recovered from a life-changing injury. His writing has appeared in online and print outlets such as Teaching For Success, Lehigh Valley Woman’s Journal, Twilight Times, Dual Coast Poetry, Haiku Journal, Three Line Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, Indiana Voice Journal, and Ripen the Page. He teaches and resides in central NJ….



after your last words

By Alfred Booth


I rushed back, every corner a finish line

neither instinct, survival, nor love

gave me wings enough

your fifth floor rooms

were empty, save the comforter

sixty-four blue patchwork squares

with orange flowers

under which we slept each night

in the abandon of these last months

did I remember how many days

I wept, curled

in the warmth of our memories

it did not matter

I did not run to the lake

where I carefully folded my clothes on the dock

hoping this hunger had weaken my body

I could not sink, following my heart



on a southbound train

By Alfred Booth


& too soon things we write resemble poetic trees sprouting deep roots into a new ever-changeable society say #hallelujah say grace my friends

(over one-forty limit delete?/save?)

yeah you too Sam heres the daily #riddle where goes the flow of her orange flowered gown? down the twin river confluent in Lyon drowned in sunlight filtered by white noise of smog-misted clouds spoiling the mornings #eclipse its happening the same day as spring #solstice

you pagan dont u mean #equinox?

dont shoot the pianist Sam OK? Websters says two words one and same



Alfred Booth is an American professional pianist who lives in France, Alfred Booth folds origami; its patience often inspires poetry. When he not at the piano learning new arcane repertoire to stretch his horizons, he teaches would-be amateur musicians to put enough bread on the table. In the 90s he studied extensively the harpsichord and his millennial project had him able to play Bach on the cello; this latter duo waits for his retirement years. Currently he has an 82-poem volume journaling a recent dance with cancer and an 34-poem chapbook of ghazals looking for a homes in the professional world of rhyme. A large handful of his poetry can be found in the e-zines Dead Snakes, I am not a silent poet and Spring Fling. He keeps an online portfolio at:




By Daginne Aignend


I’m not a devout person

False justification, in the name of religion,

is commonplace nowadays

Problem is that the so-called ‘true’ religious

always think that their own religion

is the ‘truth’


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not

against one’s belief, it can be

a guidance in life

To stay and walk on the straight and narrow

Personally, I like to believe in the goodness

of people though human behavior

often has disappointed me


You won’t find me in a church

or some other sanctuary

I must admit, I admire the artistry

of some of the relics

But to kneel down in prayer would

be an act of hypocrisy

Although, since I know you are

seriously ill my beloved friend,

I almost tempted to invoke

to some God and pray for your healing



Daginne Aignend is a pseudonym for the Dutch poetess and photographic artist Inge Wesdijk. She likes hard rock music and fantasy books. She is a vegetarian and spends a lot of time with her animals. Daginne posted some of her poems on her Facebook page and on her fun project website, she’s also the co-editor of Degenerate Literature, a poetry, flash fiction, and arts E-zine

She has been published in several Poetry Review Magazines, in the bilingual anthology (English/Farsi), ‘Where Are You From?’ and in the Contemporary Poet’s Group anthology ‘Dandelion in a Vase of Roses’





Featured Poet. Anne McMaster

About Anne

Anne McMaster is a poet and professional playwright who lives on an old farm in rural mid-Ulster. She was a finalist in the FSNI Poetry Competition in 2015 and shortlisted for the 2016 Bangor Poetry Competition. Her work has been published in 19,751 Words: an Anthology, in Paper Plane Pilots, The Honest Ulsterman and in The Poetry Marathon Anthology (2014 and 2016).

A theatre director and former lecturer in both English Literature and Performing Arts, Anne now runs a theatre company which specialises in original devised work. She is happiest writing or out in the garden with her cats trying not to kill plants.






End of Year


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.





No living bird, this,

but the shadowed fragment of a slate-like song

caught deep within a slight, half-span of honeyed wood.

One side carved in rolling curves, red hieroglyphs marking their ebb and flow –

the other, a broad straight edge,

pressed smoothly warm into my father’s palm.

Stepping through my soft-edged memory, now, he moves –

bright-eyed, muscled, smiling, round the corner of the byre –

a jagged memory of that small, lost bird

borne carefully in his large, cupped hands

as he carries his gopen-ful of sound.

He touches the wood gently with a shining metal arc

bright and cool as a sickle-sharp winter moon

And the rasping cry of a corncrake leaps between his fingers, sharpening our air.

Can you hear it? His eyes meet mine and his smile is sweet. Can you hear it?

This rough call echoed once around the fields

as men, long-ago, scythed grass then forked the hay;

as horses, straining with each fragrant load

hauled sweet summer harvest to the shed

as hedges rippled slowly in a lush kaleidoscope of green

and a lonely dog barked in the yard.

I hold this slip of wood and think of fields cropped warm and stubble-bare;

tilly lamps hissing in a clean, cool room

as men greet the woman of the house and lay their caps aside,

chairs pulled in to a table heavy with food and bread and tea.

Small children – my father and his sister – quiet as shadows as voices flow

a bisom and a patient cat standing silent at the door;

behind the house, the flint-like echo of a corncrake in the empty field.

Then my father’s smile, so soft and clear in his aged, sun-browned face

as he gently offers the singing wood for me to try

to give the corncrake voice again.

Can you hear it?



A Question of Grief


How is it that I carry grief so well, you want to know?

Do I draw it up, like water,

fine drops spilling loose before me in careful, holy palms?

Or do I clutch, perhaps, at something yet unformed;

pull it close in to my hollow chest

where grief beats out a slow low echo

from a stone-weary heart?

Do I heft it, in bulk, across my shoulder

letting it bow me low with steps that drive me down?

Or do I carry it now in some more nebulous form –

a thin, fine layer cracked just beneath the skin?

Pain refracted within me,

muscle-deep, to my very core?



River Song


Ice had formed when they found her.

No thickened, opaque crust

but a delicate rime along the river’s edge.

Moving gently in the bitter water

tendrils of long dark hair marked the paleness from her skin

and stone shadows filled her cheeks with shade.

“Come with me,” she seemed to sing to those who found her, lonely, there.

“The biting water is nothing to the coldness of the world.”



This Page


No boundaries mark this open page.

Yet on the broad-horizoned land,

fields, mended hedges, broken walls

mark exactly where I may not go.


A page – this page – is open to the sky.


Times past, on snowy winter days

three small girls

slid, shrieking, down a frosted hill.

Boundaries were a whispered dare

a looming thrill.

Only a final curve – a tipping point

moments before disaster –

drove us deep into the snow

not pinioned on leafless briars

behind the cold barbed wire.


We raced through crop-filled summer fields

picked raspberries and blackberries,

sweetening our lips and nights

tasting summer and autumn on our tongue.


Later we found ourselves

drawn to the edge of things

moving towards the boundaries of the day.


Keep the book. Open the page.

This page – this page – is open to the sky.