Issue: Issue 7 24th July 2017

Poetry 5

Wonder-Worker of Kara-Su-Bazar

by Brandon Marlon


Against the backdrop of white mountains

sheltering the town from the north wind,

the humble thaumaturge wraps his turban

clockwise around his head as he murmurs

matinal prayers in Hebrew, an aubade to the divine,

facing southwest toward his hometown, Jerusalem,

stroking tufts of his flowing white beard, swaying with fervor.


He only longs for peace, quiet, study,

yet his repute as a saint affords him no rest:

Krymchak Jews, Karaites, and gentiles alike

patiently queue to implore him for aid,

for relief from woes, for blessings for better fortune,

at all hours of the day, else in the dead of night

when the desperate in crises can no longer cope

and are confident they won’t be turned away.


Under a nacreous moon Rabbi Medini seeks respite

and fresh air by the riverbanks of the Biyuk Karasu,

traipsing past red-roofed houses, mosque minarets,

and Bactrian camel-drawn wagons whose passengers

gesture in his direction with reverence and deference,

overawed by a presence rarefied and righteous.


When finally he repatriated to his homeland,

locals bereft and remorseful speculated

of the wonder-worker’s own strife,

inquiring from whom he sought solace

when beset by troubles, curious of his unseen

means of enduring endemic hardships straining

the faith of even the godliest in our midst.



Americana Revival

by Ash Slade


Chisel black night cold as tarnished steel.

dandelion fuzz committed to wind

mingles with dirt.

Summer thunder boom
broken clay becomes chocolate milk
drencher residue.
Homespun tapestry
quiet streets
rust dented road signs.
Music blaring in cars going up/down country roads like highways.
Lawn mowers reve up buzzing
gasoline smell
non-stop going ’round
front back.
Refills pile up
cold ones
each one better than before
gotta keep cool.
Ice Cream Truck eases ’round bend
same old song again n’ again
years well spent when we were young
setting in distant sun.


Winter Snow

by Ash Slade


snow falling on the ground from above, only to be washed away.
downpour brews overhead, releasing its hose on white mountains.
blessed nature isn’t wasted, when it’s rightfully enjoyed.



by Ash Slade

gazes out window
arms folded like pillows,
cushioned chin

pools of sobriety staring back
rough furrows above eagle eyes.
spell out deep-seeded makeup
stainlessness eraser.

sight, like lasers
beams into blank stretch like bees swarming,
notions fade in out
this flat out examiner,
unconvinced vision resister,
observer, glances his way—

young boy flustered
beat down, dead-end town
shadow looms behind
is it what’s foreign that frightens him,
past experiences–
awareness like daggers steady
pierces target perception
sight blackened night can’t expand
limitations laid out like building blocks

confinements based on
tangled web mentality
rooted in reflections of
clear indecision.



the first week’s telescope pointed at getting back on track

by Alfred Booth


pulling out memories
I squeeze the sticky past from
pieces of my life
& with a flamenco jazz
guitarist dancing in my ears
fill another cluttered page



in a surprise kaleidoscope of
unexpectedness, the sky races
after promises of this & that
chimneys add puffs of warm
I am the watcher


timid shadows
as I circle
the block
winter light
warms nothing
my mindful pace
my smile


an uncurtained window
frames one chair always
the bare room is backlit
walls pale yellow and gray
a room of desolation

in my home
shelves nestle memorabilia for my fingertips
space enough for another pair of shoes
a dear friend
a few tattered books
a world of lifelines



I need your grounding force
to lift suitcases & groceries
to reach up & touch sunlight
to remove a simple tee-shirt
strong arms
to hug me when I’m too weak
too stubborn to ask for help
to tug me back
from this solitary orbit



long before morning
the mirror spots
a residue of turbulence
to be diffused
in silence

a timid prayer
for whoever wishes to answer



grateful for thick fog
a gift to unwrap
one knotted bow at a time
a moment’s respite
from this ugly beast
whose iridescent skull
teaches me to fear


you saved me from being colorless

by Alfred Booth

the stunned night air carries
the starkness of their bark
whimpering cries
inconsolable howls
of loneliness

hours later
bars close
and men soused with drink
revive the same raucous cries
swearing and screaming
for reasons they can’t name
as they piss yet again
against the brick walls
closing in on their life

on this same night
few find rest
I will sleep



Alfred Booth is an American professional pianist who lives in France. He 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. He has studied extensively harpsichord and the cello. Currently he has an 82-poem volume journaling a recent dance with cancer and a 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:







Poetry 4

Between The Lines

by Shane James

I’ve chosen you
that I may open what binds your thoughts
and read your mind
Oh Henry
What are you saying
Is Walden’s depth the fountain-head
of life
My eyes grow weary
as the soft candle light casts shadows of truth and doubt
warring silhouettes
animate the walls around me
I keep you
As you kept Homer’s Iliad
You are as the author of my life
As the blind reader feels the braille
I do not see your words
I feel them
I turn the pages of your experiences
and they now are mine
The silence of our encounters
through the stillness of the night
I’m as the drunkard
fighting to stay between the lines
your words they sober me
I’m nodding Mr. Thoreau
In agreement and in slumber
You will speak me to sleep
as many authors have done
I am sleeping
The book rests on my chest
like a church’s roof
covering my heart
The words I read initiate my dreams
Inhaling the sweetest smelling blossoms
as the roar of a majestic waterfall pours over the smoothness
of river stones
My skin is of bark
as my limbs effortlessly support and sustain
life’s creatures
I taste the mineral rich soil and feel
the surge of maple sweet watered springs flowing
through my veins
My eyes belong to a hawk
soaring and gliding over snow-capped peaks
I am all seasons
Every book is another world
another’s mind I must explore
Tomorrow night it’s Melville
Ahab’s knocking at the doors.


Shane Thomas James is a poetical yogi, writing his time. Shane has studied Philosophy and English at the University of Akron, and is currently studying English at Arizona State University..


Fowl Play

by Susan Wallace

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

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

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

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

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


Dropping in

by Susan Wallace

Like rain on the wide water, we change
nothing here. We stare at the dog-faced seals
and they stare back; they from their sandbank,
we from the boat. And that’s the sum of it.
Even the crabs hauled from the creek are sidestepped
and return, crouching, Kung Fu clawed,
to sidle under seamless mud. And still
the siling rain, like an endless hoard of coins
tossed, to stipple the tidal surface of the creek.

No. It is we who are changed, our pace lulled
to the suck and pull of the slow tide, muddied
to the thigh, paddling here at creek’s end,
zipped up dry, cagoul-cowled and wimpled;
dimpled with almost laughter by the rain.




Susan Wallace is an author and academic. She enjoyed writing poetry in her scandalous youth and, after becoming distracted by other things, eventually found her way back to it. She has had her work published in a number of journals and anthologies






The Fog

.by Jake Aller

The Fog
The Fog
The Fog

Rolls in and in
And on forever
Till the ends of time

Past where once stood proud San-San
Now there is nothing

But bones rolling in
Forever and ever
Rotting in the blue sunlight

Turning in the yellow clouds
Filling the air
With the stench

The fear
The feel
Of a people forever dead

Merging with the fog
Filling the air

The fog rolls in and in
Laughing as the Sun

Sinks into the purple coated sky
Above the encrusted sky of time




Slime Patrol to the Dish room

by Jake Aller

Note: I washed dishes in college

Slime Patrol to the dish room please
Rant the loudspeaker with a demented static
Hell no, we chanted in vain

Nowhere to go
Nowhere to escape
The ever-present smell
Of putrid rotting, sweaty effervescent slime
That’s right


Is that all that there is?




Ruled by slime Kings who run Slime Machines?
Hell No, we won’t go we chanted in vain
And we hook ourselves up
And entered the machine


For we are all nothing but slime molds
In the gross wheels of America’s grease pit


Blue Blues

by Jake Aller

I went over to the River
Just to catch me a view
I said I went over to the Damn River
Just to catch me a god damn fine view

I walked over to that bridge, built for two
I walked over to that bridge, built for two
Only problem was that there was only one of me

I asked the old man River
I said Old Man River
What does it all mean?

He said with an evil grin
It don’t mean a thing
Unless you can do the Go-Go swing

The Old Man River boogied out of sight
Leaving me alone to pick up the pieces
What does it mean
If you ain’t got that Go-Go swing?




Poetry 3

Tides and the Teenagers

by Vicky

She watched the tide,
its lifetimes of flux
and the sullen teenagers that
assembled there at bedtime
like a surf of weary waves,
crashing in one-word answers
sounded on sighs.

They heeded beliefs
dark as the river, sooty black
as the bottom of a junkies spoon.
Freezing their tits off for the thrill
till heads down, like the sparse
spartina grasses;  silhouettes,
in the cotton-white moonshine.

When sky broke they woke
weighted, just as the sun
that drew up the mist;
pregnant with the future.



Speaking and Screaming Burials

by Sudeep Adhikari

Sometimes you go below the matrix. Deeply buried,

you are there with all your original absurds, and the air

smells more of dread than despair.


A deadpan monochrome of silence, paints the

graffiti of your unheard screams. Screams, which keep

dying on their own vomit of loneliness,

guilt and ancient fires.


The scaly arthropods with wings of oak keep chasing

you, keep throwing stones. You desperately cling

behind the nothing trees.


There is no waking up to light, unless we have slept

dreary nights that stretch like life. But we just don’t know

how to talk to oneself. Do we?



Sudeep Adhikari is a structural engineer/Lecturer  from Kathmandu, Nepal.   His poetry has appeared in more than eighty magazines, online/print on different parts of the world. His recent publications were with  Beatnik Cowboys, Zombie Logic Review, The Bees Are Dead, Silver Birch Press and Eunoia Review.
He digs beat poetry, punk rock, hip-hop, science and good beer.




digitalis in song

by Robin Rich


do you know the quick way to anywhere
anywhere that promises me that words
will heal and care and out of tears
make for me some internal haven worlds

inject an ink laced you through my eyes
infection can cure as inoculation
have far removed this mask a disguise
mere heartbeat or blink from passion

hand to screen and cold touch only silhouettes
the flesh trying to hard to break a wall
built on a logic model that collects
to file and organise . leaves a sore

imposed in sips . imprint in bits on waves
that system crash in default routines.
protecting cores from worms that deceive
organic simplicity of survival needs

these virtual roads and digital pathways
digitalis the amour paralysis.


not so lighthouse 

by Robin Rich

a gentle roll of buoyancy hurries a vessel
away from me
the tendency of wanting to be fixed
a terra permanencyfights the rolling water legs pushing
the leagues
of seas of beasts out of sight of coasts
and cliffstowers built ever higher send the horizon
further round
until in a song made from waves and shingle
I am found

lifted storm maddening swirl where new age
dinosaurs ….. soar



clutching foundations of banded beacon towers






Robin Rich.

50 plus of the British Isles.In a marriage and from a marriage . Some mid-century holiday romance and DNA knows the rest.





Silent Tears

by Alicia Hernandez

As I lay my head down on my pillow.        Just silence and darkness with a slow rumble of the A/C turning on and off. I try to close my eyes and rest but I can’t.

As my mind wanders and drifts to our argument from earlier. My eyes stare into the darkness. Trying not to breakdown outloud.

With your back to me and a huge emptiness in between us of all the space we never let gather; that’s haunting our bed. I feel alone and empty inside. Even though my love, my king, my best friend is lying just a short distance away from me. But right now it’s like I’m nothing to Him. A complete stranger just lying next to me.

Then my heart gets heavy like a stack of bricks crushing me.                          My eyes begin to water and it begins. Silent tears falling down my face. I can’t control the brokenness inside of me.

Silent tears, Silent tears.                          Please go away? Each tear keeps burning my face like it’s on fire.       As my nose starts to get runny and my eyes puffy.

Silent tears, Silent tears the only comfort and pain I have at the moment. But then it quickly turns into quicksand. An emptiness begins to linger and never disappears.

With every hot tear is a slow burning piercing through my heart. A warm reminder of every stabbing word shattering my heart to pieces.

Every piece of my heart is as fragile and delicate as glass. Yet words spewed out at me in frustration, misunderstanding, and anger I could never imagine saying to you.

Anger is like a boiling volcano that releases dangerous lava. Only the lava are the words that were chosen in that flighting moment. With that lava comes permanent scars you can never heal.

I start to pray inside and ask God to comfort me and take it away. This is the worst feeling. Another sleepless night, my sleep won’t return until the pain subsides and hides till later.

Silent tears, Silent tears.                        Please go away?                                       Each tear keeps burning down my face like it’s on fire.                                  As my nose gets runny and my eyes puffy.

Silent tears, Silent tears the only comfort and pain I have at the moment. But then it quickly turns to quicksand. An emptiness begins to linger and never disappears.



Alicia Hernandez. I was born and raised in San Diego, CA in the southeast neighborhood. I had the privilege to attend The Preuss School UCSD a college prepatory charter school. This is where I began writing poems, christian songs, and quotes. English was all ways my favorite class in high school. I write to express my emotions and life experiences. Writing has all ways been my outlet for my thoughts and heart my love affair with words and paper takes me to another world of imagination and freedom.





Poetry 2

End of reason

by Allison Grayhurst

I hear the echo of instability slide

through the corridors like a plague

that just missed. I hear the song and flip

like a flock of tiny birds, upside down,

bellies flat against the sky.

I feel soiled by layers of complexity,

needing to feel again protection,

the stroke of a cool summer on my lips,

needing a puppy left at my door.

I know the sun will rise on my twisted frame.

I know a red petal thrown into a pale blue sky.

I know more than a parched mouth,

more than brick painted over

or prison bars dipped in rainbow hues.

I know of tongues basted in trembling glory,

my purpose –

core, settled and pure.



Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 1075 poems published in over 425 international journals. She has sixteen published books of poetry, seven collections and nine chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay;





Lies Heavy

by Mellisa Mulvihill

Life slips and slinks
around death
with busy-ness buzzing
plugged in feeding parched souls
with rechargeable hope
distracting from the inability to ever avoid
that which comes

It explains with powerless memes,
photo shopped prettiness, desperate prayer,
delusional certainties flirting
with absurdity and uselessness
all things happen for a reason

It generates lists
high powered telescopes gazing on worlds unreachable,

And still life cowers
in the shadow of the disguises of Death
eternal in its coming
endless in name
vulgarly intrusive in its thundering

Life dropped
its lies heavy
at my feet
where it thudded
like a suitcase
a stranger packed for me
achingly hollow
but weighted down
with useless detritus
gathered by
who never really knew me at all

Death’s call is roiling



Melissa 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.




One Last Bark

by Steven Langhorst


Sometimes I miss my dogs paws
With just cause
In running dreams
Relived scenes
As they slept amongst the stars
Yipped at the full moon in backyards
On trails at daybreak
First light behind the night makes
The instincts sharp
I long for one last bark



That’s how we communicate

by Casey Haldaine 

There’s a raincoat
in each of my backpacks,
all my stories
start with the splash
of a memory.

Just roll
with the kind downpour,
to the tapping sound
of the hood of my mind
as I converse
with a wrong dial
about all the foolish blunder.

Sour chronicles expose
a taste for the world,
for wine,
for each covered up outline
of a ravishing disaster.

A sanctuary
of ceramic owls,
deposits of the night,
taunting the stillness
flying above.
Marking the forest,
the benches, the frames,
counting slipped disks
of a spineless

Stolen from their display,
wild hoots chase
the painted barking.


Assessing the patient’s sins through inconclusive bruises

by Casey Haldaine

A divine intervention
dragged gullible bodies
across the dusty
floor.A broken compact,
eyeliner marks,
razors and crayons
scattered all around,
opiated.Salty caramel kisses
in your anesthetic coffee,
spinning carnival letters,
some Soviet tragedies.And the aftermath is obvious:intravenous, estrogen promises
and a fast rolling gurney,
out of control
towards the inevitable
car crash..

The invisible blue

by Casey Haldaine

The fishes
don’t whisper to me

They sleep in silence
at the bottom of conscience
and wait
for the reckoning
to come.

Cold blooded waves
grinding teeth,
conspire against the odds,
pealing pale skin;

mainsail for an engine,
a vessel for a purpose.

Followed by paper boats
leaving thoughts
and acryl marks
as they float

the invisible


Drowning always finds a way 

by Casey Haldaine

Drowning always finds its way
into our bloodstreams.

Seventeen types of rain,
tapping on a humble roof.

The rivers named
after childhood memories.

Here’s a bit of orange juice,
just to dip the tongue.

The Old River of Prague
washes my folly away.

The steam came with fuel,
engines calling each stop.

Mist of the morning
washing faces,

and the water
slowly gathers.


Give a pulse

by Casey Haldaine

The shade of light
is set by your presence.

The rain plays drums
on a flickering lamp,
my boots are splashing
to a rhythm.

The drops on the road
and the running engines,
the moons and distant stars,
in each puddle.

give a pulse
to a faceless street.



Casey Haldaine is a regular chap from Slovakia, currently living in Wales. Daytime worker/night-time writer, mostly inspired by music and nature. 








The Poetry of Linda McKenna, Featured Poet

Linda McKenna is originally from County Dublin but has lived in County Down for more than twenty years. She has had poems published in A New UlsterSkylight 47, Panning for Poems  and Lagan Online.












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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Witness Statements


They rise up in copperplate the long dead,
With an elegance and sinuous grace they
Lacked in life. Ragged lines straightened,
crooked columns shuffled together,
lower case shoulders, upper case pikes.

They emerge as if from the same hand,
identically stately, invisible margins exactly
the same width, as if some ancient, holy scribe,
his writing box and quill under his arm, had cast
some magical spell over the land.

But of course it is the hand that is inherited.
Passed down from darned and patched tutor,
clergymen with no livings, to these junior officers,
shaking out their cramping fingers, careful not to
blot the pages of  life and death.

The witnesses process neatly across the page,
released from byre and shed, brushed and
combed for the day.  Neatly laid out incomprehensible
actions; travelling ten miles to borrow sacks,
lounging against neighbours’s walls at midnight.

And squeezed small between the marching lines
of traitors and curves of  smoke, some women,
who are reminded of what an oath is and to be sure
to repeat exactly what they heard the men saying.


Ismene (Aside)


This is where I am buried, a footnote.
Small printed quibble briefly dragging

your eye to the bottom of the page,
intruding on the principal action,

a what if, on the other hand or some
lesser view hanging dismissable

over the page where you, my always
spotlit sister are centred, weaving

golden circles of verse with the skill
other girls loop ribbons, twist wool.

The lines flowing on from each other
in a chorus we have to follow to the end

then go back and read again, then go back
and say out loud, the words individual pieces

of bright glass dropping onto the stage,
glowing where they fall, singing in your head,

on the street, in your  house so you repeat
them as prayers, as vows, as ritual.

Behind the curtain I am sweeping up the dust
wondering how will we live now ?




For a whole summer my father worked
somewhere between a crying shame and

a mortal sin. Riding off every morning
to join the other hobnailed pillagers stripping

and ripping out huge plaster ceiling roses
bordered with ivy and vines, chipping

away at deep cornices and elegant picture
rails, carting off loads of woodworm pitted

mahogany newel posts, sweeping up acres
of chandelier glass and oil lamp pendants.

In the evenings he conjured for us fabulous
tales of spoiled and rotting opulence; brocade

curtains hanging in ribbons, Persian carpets
mildewed and stinking, stained glass bleeding

into skips. Some things he couldn’t help but
rescue; stilts, an improbable rusty sword,

a doll’s house with real wallpaper and
best of all, thick rolls of draughtsman’s paper

where I drew the family trees of ancient
European royalty, Ferdinand, Isabella,

and their not yet doomed daughters.




The Words I Might Have Spoken

By Dave Kavanagh


In the past week a poet died. She was a smart, sharp,  and beautiful person who loved with passion and argued with venom. She had the ability to lift you up and equally to level you with an acid bitter tongue and wit. When she died I was on her wrong side, she had decided I was not on her team, that was my failing and not hers. I will not have an opportunity to right that wrong and I am deeply saddened by that. All I can do now is try to ensure I never again experience the regret of loosing a friend that could have been saved.


I have spent the week wondering what could have been said or done to prevent the loss of this poet, what words could have been spoken or written that would have stayed her mind and kept her with us. Poets are wonderful people who suck the world and all of its wonder, anguish, mirth and pain into themselves. They are deep thinkers and their thoughts can at times become a weight that is hard to carry. It was this weight added to negative life experience that led to the death of my onetime friend.


What would I have said if I had have known the pain she was feeling. What words would make my friend see how valuable she was, how could I have helped her with the pain she carried inside. I have spent a week thinking about this, researching the facts and statistics and all the time it seems that I was trying to communicate a simple message. I wanted to say. Please don’t go, Please stay with us for another day, a week, a year. The fact is I never said these things, I missed the signs, I thought she was strong.


The following piece is inspired by a message from It is, I think, the only thing I found on suicide prevention that had real power. These are the words I could have said.


My Dear Friend

If you are feeling suicidal now, please stop long enough to read this. It will only take about five minutes. I do not want to talk you out of your bad feelings. I am not a therapist or other mental health professional – only someone who knows what it is like to be in pain.

I don’t know why you feel as you do but I promise I will listen and try to understand. If it were possible, I would prefer to be there with you at this moment, to sit with you and talk, face to face and heart to heart. But since that is not possible, we will have to make do with this.

I have known a lot of people who have wanted to kill themselves, so I have some small idea of what you might be feeling. I know that you might not be up to reading a long book, so I am going to keep this short. While we are together here for the next five minutes, I have five simple, practical things I would like to share with you. I won’t argue with you about whether you should kill yourself. But I assume that if you are thinking about it, you feel pretty bad.

Well, you’re still reading, and that’s very good. I’d like to ask you to stay with me for the rest of this page. I hope it means that you’re at least a tiny bit unsure, somewhere deep inside, about whether or not you really will end your life. Often people feel that, even in the deepest darkness of despair. Being unsure about dying is okay and normal. The fact that you are still alive at this minute means you are still a little bit unsure. It means that even while you want to die, at the same time some part of you still wants to live. So let’s hang on to that, and keep going for a few more minutes.

Start by considering this statement:

Suicide is not chosen; it happens
when pain exceeds
resources for coping with pain.

That’s all it’s about. You are not a bad person, or crazy, or weak, or flawed, because you feel suicidal. It doesn’t even mean that you really want to die – it only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. If I start piling weights on your shoulders, you will eventually collapse if I add enough weights… no matter how much you want to remain standing. Willpower has nothing to do with it. Of course you would cheer yourself up, if you could.

Don’t accept it if someone tells you, “That’s not enough to be suicidal about.” There are many kinds of pain that may lead to suicide. Whether or not the pain is bearable may differ from person to person. What might be bearable to someone else, may not be bearable to you. The point at which the pain becomes unbearable depends on what kinds of coping resources you have. Individuals vary greatly in their capacity to withstand pain.

When pain exceeds pain-coping resources, suicidal feelings are the result. Suicide is neither wrong nor right; it is not a defect of character; it is morally neutral. It is simply an imbalance of pain versus coping resources.

You can survive suicidal feelings if you do either of two things: (1) find a way to reduce your pain, or (2) find a way to increase your coping resources. Both are possible.

Now I want to share with you five things to think about…

1 You need to hear that people do get through this — even people who feel as badly as you are feeling now. Statistically, there is a very good chance that you are going to live. I hope that this information gives you some sense of hope.
2 Give yourself some distance. Say to yourself, “I will wait 24 hours before I do anything.” Or a week. Remember that feelings and actions are two different things – just because you feel like killing yourself, doesn’t mean that you have to actually do it right this minute. Put some distance between your suicidal feelings and suicidal action. Even if it’s just 24 hours. You have already done it for 5 minutes, just by reading this page. You can do it for another 5 minutes by continuing to read this page. Keep going, and realize that while you still feel suicidal, you are not, at this moment, acting on it. That is very encouraging to me, and I hope it is to you.
3 People often turn to suicide because they are seeking relief from pain. Remember that relief is a feeling. And you have to be alive to feel it. You will not feel the relief you so desperately seek, if you are dead.
4 Some people will react badly to your suicidal feelings, either because they are frightened, or angry; they may actually increase your pain instead of helping you, despite their intentions, by saying or doing thoughtless things. You have to understand that their bad reactions are about their fears, not about you.But there are people out there who can be with you in this horrible time, and will not judge you, or argue with you, or send you to a hospital, or try to talk you out of how badly you feel. They will simply care for you. Find one of them. Now. Use your 24 hours, or your week, and tell someone what’s going on with you. It is okay to ask for help. Try:

  • Send an anonymous e-mail to The Samaritans
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY:1-800-799-4TTY)
  • (In Australia, call Lifeline Australia at telephone: 13 11 14
  • Teenagers, call Covenant House NineLine, 1-800-999-9999
  • Look in the front of your phone book for a crisis line
  • Call a psychotherapist
  • Carefully choose a friend or a minister or rabbi, someone who is likely to listen

But don’t give yourself the additional burden of trying to deal with this alone. Just talking about how you got to where you are, releases an awful lot of the pressure, and it might be just the additional coping resource you need to regain your balance.

5 Suicidal feelings are, in and of themselves, traumatic. After they subside, you need to continue caring for yourself. Therapy is a really good idea. So are the various self-help groups available both in your community and on the Internet.

Well, it’s been a few minutes and you’re still with me. I’m really glad.

Since you have made it this far, you deserve a reward. I think you should reward yourself by giving yourself a gift. The gift you will give yourself is a coping resource. Remember, back up near the top of the page, I said that the idea is to make sure you have more coping resources than you have pain. So let’s give you another coping resource, or two, or ten…! until they outnumber your sources of pain.

Now, while this page may have given you some small relief, the best coping resource we can give you is another human being to talk with. If you find someone who wants to listen, and tell them how you are feeling and how you got to this point, you will have increased your coping resources by one. Hopefully the first person you choose won’t be the last. There are a lot of people out there who really want to hear from you. It’s time to start looking around for one of them.

Now: I’d like you to call someone.

These words are too late for my friend but many others fall under the weight they carry and many consider suicide, I know now that I am at least somewhat prepared if I ever face this prospect again.

Dave Kavanagh.

Escaping the dead hand of writer’s block 4 Yet More Writers’ Prompts – Colour Your Life

By Shirley Bell


This is another exercise I tried with the group at my recent creative writers meeting. The focus I had for this was free writing using unusual vocabularies.

I am bemused by Farrow and Ball paint names, they are luscious and quite mental. I am fascinated by how these names are created and there is an interesting article on this here, colour & design surgery…how are paint colour names chosen? Karen Haller colour & design consultancy

In the article Lynne Stainthorpe, Director Big Idea, says the process is:-

“Whether brain storming as an individual or in a group, start with the actual colour sample and brain-storm a list of words, from a basic description to more creative options. Inspiration comes from:

  • Describe the colour e.g. Lemon or Purple
  • Add more definition to the description – this could be functional or emotional e.g. Dark or Precious
  • Capture the mood the colour creates e.g. Sunny or Fresh
  • Explore connotations from nature – flowers, oceans, winds, deserts, animals etc. can be evocative e.g. Blossom, Aegean, Mistral, Sahara, Elephant etc.
  • Explore associations with places – from holiday destinations to international cities that could have allure e.g. Tuscany or Tokyo
  • Explore appeal to the taste buds – from food and drink to spices e.g. Coffee, Sorbet or Vanilla
  • Or perhaps appeal to the sense of touch – from natural materials to fabrics e.g. Driftwood or Satin
  • Create a personality or event e.g. Babe or Celebration
  • Evoke the interplay of colour and light e.g. Shimmer or Glow

The brainstorming continues until a combination of words is achieved that fit both the colour and the brand – with a positive and enticing name!”

Here you have a flexible technique you can apply to poetry writing in general to generate ideas.

In the workshop we used the Farrow and Ball palette: –

All White; Wimborne White; Pointing; James White; Clunch; Shaded White; White Tie; New White; Matchstick; String; Savage Ground; Cord;Tallow;Ringwold Ground; House White;Farrow’s Cream;Cream;Cat’s Paw; Dimity;Joa’s White; Archive;Oxford Stone;London Stone; Smoked Trout;Slipper Satin;Lime White;Off-White;Old White; Light Gray; Mouse’s Back;Wevet; Strong White;Ammonite;Cornforth White; Purbeck Stone;Mole’s Breath;Stony Ground; Fawn;Bone;French Gray;Hardwick White;Lamp Room Gray;Blackened;Dimpse;Pavilion Gray;Mizzle;Blue Gray; Pigeon;Skimming Stone; Elephant’s Breath;Dove Tale;Charleston Gray;London Clay;Brinjal;Great White;Middleton Pink;Cinder Rose;Pink Ground; Setting Plaster;Dead Salmon;Calamine;Nancy’s Blushes;Radicchio;Red Earth;Picture Gallery Red;Incarnadine;Rectory Red;Eating Room Red;Book Room Red;Terre D’Egypte;Charlotte’s Locks; Blazer;Pale Hound;Dayroom Yellow;Yellowcake;Citron;Yellow Ground;Babouche;Hound Lemon;Hay;Dorset Cream;Sudbury Yellow;Print Room Yellow;India Yellow; Tunsgate Green; Green Ground; Cooking Apple Green;Ball Green;Olive;Studio Green;Churlish Green;Breakfast Room Green;Calke Green;Castle Gray;Card Room Green;Green Smoke;Vert De Terre;Lichen;Teresa’s Green;Dix Blue;Chappell Green;Arsenic;Cabbage White;Pavilion Blue;Pale Powder;Green Blue;Oval Room Blue;Stone Blue;Borrowed Light;Skylight;Light Blue;Parma Gray; Lulworth Blue;Cook’s Blue;Blue Ground;St Giles Blue;Pitch Blue;Drawing Room Blue;Stiffkey Blue;Hague Blue;Calluna;Brassica;Pelt;Manor House Gray;Plummett;Down Pipe; Mahogany; Tanner’s Brown; Railings;Black Blue;Off-Black;Pitch Black

This was combined with the topic of life events, growing up, etc. beginning with when or as, so When I was born I was, When I was a child I was, As I grew older I was, then adding in events, birth of siblings, secondary school, graduating, marriage, having children and other momentous occasions.

There are word combinations that turned out to be totally inspiring and we had some great work as a result. I only have my own here, so I will have to impose this on you. It was literally a few minutes of free writing but we all had something to continue working with:-

When I was born I was the colour of a Mouse’s Back

my little hands curled into paws

my mouth was a screech of Radicchio.

My life was a beige Clunch

of Pigeon blankets around me

and the garden was a Churlish Green.

I knew I was on Savage Ground,

my childhood a desert of Elephant’s Breath,

my pelt of Tallow.

My parents’ love was Lulworth Blue,

but towards each other

they were the green of Arsenic,

hatred in the air like Yellowcake.

At school it was Bookroom Red,

I could relax there in the Red Earth, the Cinder Rose.

but in the end, I was Blackened.

There are two things at work in this exercise, and both can both generate and improve poetry. One is unusual words with their associations, and the other is list making and the power of naming.

There are all sorts of specialist names for colours which you could use. At the writers’ group, Laura had studied archaeology and as a result she knew names for the tiny differences in the colour ochre and what these meant for identifying a geological era. The ochres are earth pigments including yellow ochre, red ochre, purple ochre, brown ochre sienna, and umber, burnt sienna and burnt umber.

Artists’ colour charts include many ochres, umbers, siennas, burnt umber and burnt sienna as well as another treasure trove of names, with loads online i.e.

but here are a few –

Lemon Yellow, Winsor Yellow, Aureolin, Winsor Orange, Winsor Red Perm, Aliz Crimson, Perm Rose, Winsor Violet Diox, French Ultramarine, Winsor Blue GS, Prussian Blue, Cerulean Blue, Viridian Perm, Sap Green, Olive Green, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Indigo, Paynes Grey, Ivory Black and Chinese White.

The colour of crystals and gemstones also came up and were used in pieces. There is a list here

And a list poem here


Blue topaz
White topaz
Citrine topaz
Smokey topaz
Opal dendrite
Moon stone
Tiger’s eye

N Sep 2013

(There will be more to come on list poems as prompts in a future article)

So again, if you are stuck, this is an easy “poetry generator” of your own, and there may be strands in there you can pick up, for example I rather liked the few lines below!

When I was born I was the colour of a Mouse’s Back

my little hands curled into paws

my mouth was a screech of Radicchio.


Memorising poetry

By Shirley Bell


Memorising poetry is becoming a lost art, I think, but one that is underrated. It is often referred to as learning by heart, and this is very apt because to remember well there has to be an emotional hit.

I still remember long chunks of poetry I learned for exams, along with Milton and Shakespearean speeches. My poor children frequently used to get “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is 
To have a thankless child!” when they annoyed me. it was more useful than “Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves”  at any rate.

Previous generations had to remember great tranches of famous poems as part of their schooldays and the elderly will talk of how they still remember them and often draw comfort and inspiration from them. We may despise the dum-te-dum rhythms of some of these, but the simple act of memorising a poem which intrigues or moves us means we are never alone if we are stuck somewhere with no company and nothing to read. It is also supposed to be a protection from dementia! -who knows, we can hope.

As writers, the more involved with poetry we are, the more it enables us to write our own work. Reading good contemporary poetry (alongside the poetry that has stood the test of time of course) fills our minds with a kind of background music. When we come to express our own ideas, there is therefore a scaffolding in place that will help to improve our own musicality and power of expression. If we have memorised poetry, this inherent advantage is internalised.

I am not suggesting plagiarism or creating derivative work. But I do think a mind full of powerful and affecting work can only be a positive influence.

So, I have browsed the web and found some favourites.

They are short and easy to recall. However, there is also a lot to think about contained within them, or a very strong picture to see in your mind’s eye. If nothing else they will help if you are going insane with boredom if traffic jams, waiting rooms and other situations when you are just hanging around going crazy.

Poppies in October

Even the sun-clouds this morning cannot manage such skirts.

Nor the woman in the ambulance

Whose red heart blooms through her coat so astoundingly –


A gift, a love gift

Utterly unasked for

By a sky


Palely and flamily

Igniting its carbon monoxides, by eyes

Dulled to a halt under bowlers.


Oh my God, what am I

That these late mouths should cry open

In a forest of frosts, in a dawn of cornflowers.


Sylvia Plath 1932 – 1963


I know
Not these my hands
And yet I think there was
A woman like me once had hands
Like these.

Adelaide Crapsey 1878 – 1914

(Adelaide Crapsey devised an elegant form she called the cinquain. It appears to be free verse, but the first line has one beat, the second two beats, the third has three beats and the fourth four and then line five is back to one beat again.  So there is a progression and then a retreat).


This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos Williams 1883 – 1963


They Flee from Me

They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle tame and meek
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range
Busily seeking with a continual change.

Thanked be fortune, it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small;
And therewithal sweetly did me kiss,
And softly said, “Dear heart, how like you this?”

It was no dream, I lay broad waking.
But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness
And she also to use newfangleness.
But since that I so kindly am served,
I would fain know what she hath deserved.

Thomas Wyatt 1503 –1542

(said to have written poetry to Anne Boleyn)
I Stood Upon a High Place

I stood upon a high place,
And saw, below, many devils
Running, leaping,
and carousing in sin.
One looked up, grinning,
And said, “Comrade! Brother!”

Stephen Crane 1871 – 1900)


Go To The Limits Of Your Longing


God speaks to each of us as he makes us,

Then walks with us silently out of the night.


These are words we dimly hear:


You, sent out beyond your recall,

Go to the limits of your longing.


Embody me.


Flare up like flame

And make big shadows I can move in.


Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.

Just keep going. No feeling is final.

Don’t let yourself lose me.


Nearby is the country they call life.

You will know it by its seriousness.


Give me your hand.


-Rainer Maria Rilke 1875 – 1926

translation by Joanna Macy + Anita Barrows


[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you


here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart


i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)


  1. e. cummings 1894-1962