Issue: Issue 8 31st July 2017

James Walton. Poet of the week.

James Walton is a Gippsland poet published in newspapers, journals and anthologies. Short listed twice for the ACU National Literature Prize, a double prize winner in the MPU International Poetry Prize, and Specially Commended in The Welsh Poetry Competition – his collection ‘The Leviathan’s Apprentice’ was published in 2015.




Timekeeper’s Vigil


sand holds memory deep

impressions solid or grainy


where bare footed joy

or the heel of empire

is finally stranded

out of time and place

interred the mighty the poor

this final peace

smooth and wet and dry and coarse

soldier crabs push history out

mould their harder treasures

against the corrugated tide weave

toes stumble there

hands juggle salty hope

the bay breathes in and out

scraping fingers rake

over the blackboard of living

to cross wrists with Odysseus

in homespun returns



unsafe by handwritten dawn


where eloping ocean

and sky touch

beneath salt water

sampling light

as blown smoke rings

budding turtles rise



A Wonthaggi Coal Miner’s Daughter Says


see that’s a hog deer print

pointing holding in a slight crouch

going down to the falls

in a hardwood plantation

how can I tell her

that no tracking can save us

there is this little while

of a freedom seen in nesting birds

or that cray sliding away

off a banking crest to deeper clime

standing up holstering her safety on

puts a finger to a lip then mine

hand against my mansplaining chest

says she doesn’t follow to shoot

but likes to know where things are heading







my sagging backside

has found true south

a magnetic polarity

that cannot be denied




or waved away in disbelief

here all facts are self evident

medicine wanders

a nomad’s hessian philosophy




honest as breaking glass

gravity in landscape

drags petals from stalks

allows hover in falling




lingering effervescence

so hungry in passing

arranges this nimble parasol

to shade an eventual rise





Stalag Cassette of Early Onset Blues




It’s the goose hiss at the flap of recall

that’ll get you every time

rummaging the hidden stream through an ice hole

surprising in the catch of a mermaid

umbraged scales pouting reflections

of all your unknown galaxies

over taking double lines from a zipper

forgotten in the hurry of almost again


So many words won’t make it either

crouching in the equation’s pose

along the reedy channel failing to connect

head bobbing in the searching spotlights

the blend in clothes lack a decent maker

stuck in the claggy designs

of ruffling memento story lines

remember cellophane corrodes in the dispenser


Gummies over ruins the first piece

proper stamp hinges are too expensive

how struggling fish wobble for cognition

in a throat choking on lost friends

pondering escape through the crocodile’s tail

laughing out loud trousers on before shoes

the watch tower shooter has had all day to practice

not reckoning the infrangible as the consonants arrive










Poetry 1

Iter Sapientis
by Jack Morris
So, the wise men leave the shore

into the ocean, old and far

as first of wood boats row and heave

blindly t’ward Madagascar


a finer journey, one could say

than Aldrin or Columbus knew

the struggle of primeval hands

now hands of me, and thus, of you


at last, we found first foreign soil

& fast we killed the angry ape

in early egos killing spree

then rowed on south t’ward the cape



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









The five senses of Elie

by Andrew Lawson

His young eyes
the low ebb
of humanity
babies in flames
a thousand

His ears
the rattling of the box car
an older woman’s vision
look look
that fire
it is a furnace
women to the left
men to the right
His nose
fear and feces
skin and bone
cremation and ash
a scent of oblivion
His throat
thick soup
His feet
felt numbness
running on the cold
harsh earth
his hands
formed into a fist
felt rage
Andrew Lawson hails from Connecticut USA he pens song lyrics, poetry, children stories and ghost and an eclectic mishmash



the miss of sisyphus

by Martin McKenna 


i have asked

rich women and men;

do the dead mourn us?


i have asked

the drunk and dosed;

when we are dead,

will we mourn the living?


i have asked

fathers of women,

brides and their sons;

what can the dead see?


in their tired confusion

they rise up, high

in thorned anger; attack,

bleed me cold, but

fail to break

what i know to be

unbreakable truth

only sullied love might touch.


and of you, perfection,

i asked nothing.



from cave hill

by Martin McKenna


i carve you out

of already alive

and lavish landscapes; build silent

lived horizons about you, still do.


i paint the offing of you,

still raise with care

some infant dreams.


write lines, fill books

foaming toward a ceiling;

no wheres and not heres,

form rock crop parts

of this place, hold all and none

as room for this

static sketch of breath.




Marty is an independent Irish poet, born in Tyrone, now living and writing in Belfast. Marty works for the Belfast Trust and has poems published in both online and print journals. He is currently submitting work for publication which will inform his first collection.










Poetry 2

Too Soon

Anne McDonald


I trace the branch that spikes the skyline in my head

Black against the orange burnished clouds

Hitchcock would have painted it in ink

I think therefore I must exist I thought

As light left quietly and wind arrived

To chase grey black clouds across the yellow moon

It may have been her time

But I disagreed with God

It was too soon


She died if that’s what nature calls it, in the summer

But many times before

She died another death and each

A different stroke,

A different set of numbers on a chart

that filled with years with notes and lists

and accumulated fears

And many tears by us, by her, by him

She grew frail and pale

And thin


And in the end she left a shell of what she was

And though we watched

there was no burst of blazing light,

no crowd of angels heralding the new arrival at

the gates of heaven or whatever place

she thought she went at night.

Just her skin and lips turns slowly white.


Metaphysical insurance of

an open window; to let the soul out

Or a draught in, the fanfare,

if there was one, made no sound,

no robin or white feather

on the ground to give the nod or wink

It made me think.


The branch was pointing upwards

towards the moon,

and even though the harvests counted

fifteen crops since the first big stroke,

as autumn fires call straight to heaven

In a  line of curling spears of smoke

The clock will now forever

tock tick the time as being

Too soon,

Too soon.



Anne McDonald is an artist and writer who has been published in Hot Press, Women’s Work 1 & 2, Winner of the Ballina International Poetry competition and the Skerries poetry competition and has had her poetry reviewed on RTE Radio. She is currently determined to finish a novel based on female Irish puglisits in the 1600’s and to finish her second collection of poems.

Anne was born in Co.Meath and has lived in Greece and the US before settling in North county Dublin.





by J.Crayton


Melinda moves and breaths for her husband Frank,

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

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

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

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

Bzzz Bzzz Bzzz Bzzz

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

Bzz Bzzz Bzzz



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




Mother of muses

By Akshaya Pawasker


They say
They have deserted me
How naive of me to believe
They would stay.

That you created them and
would not to be able to do it
Again by snapping fingers.

The applause went to
my head, truly a silent
sermon of this is vain.

I say
The ice weeps when fire
closes in. Fire shrinks and
sputters with frost.

For the cynics, bystanders
it’s an illusion of farewells
more often than hellos.

For me it’s a wait for my children
playing Peek a boo and whatever
Capricious games they play.

Eternal wait of fetuses to be
birthed, thousands gone and
thousands yet to form.

with wings they could be dragons
spitting flames. And I am their
smug mother.

At times proud, at times mortified
Yet a fierce protective mother always.
Waiting listlessly.



Turn them into poems

by Akshaya Pawasker


You can’t save those
Who do not wish
to be saved
So you watch them
Undo themselves
Build destroy rebuild
You are on the outside
They are in a glass case
You give them some gin
You see them gulp
The slow poison
You tell them fib over
A fib till you can’t keep
A count of it.
You kill them pernicious

You are a murdered
And a shaman at once
You are euthanasia
You turn them into
Poetry, breath life
Back, immortalize
The dead.
You who said
One was beyond



Akshaya Pawaskar is a doctor practicing in India and poetry is
her passion. Her poems have been published in Tipton Poetry journal, Writer’s Ezine, Efiction India, Ink drift, The blue nib, Her heart poetry, Awake in the world anthology by Riverfeet press and few anthologies by lost tower publications. She had been chosen as ‘Poet of the week’ on Poetry superhighway and featured writer in Wordweavers poetry contest





Cross On A Hill

by Ash Slade


On top of road near Lakewood
stands an old, tarnished
Takes fresh bent
to discern
if you’re sightless
I don’t place blame
’cause you cannot see.
Fractured it can be made clear
Supreme omnipotence resides there.
I presume you’ve by no means surveyed
as you’ve went along
all that you affirm might be




Poetry 3 By Bekah Steimel

Cancer Lyric B

By Bekah Steimel


I’ve lost you to an infinite geography I cannot map out…a distance I cannot scale. There is no looking glass or telescope strong enough to glimpse you. No compass to start me in the right direction. You are lost to me. Northern stars and lighthouses are no use. Sfumato. Up in smoke. And, now the air is clear. I can see for miles. My five senses no longer register you. You fell or flew off the grid. And, I am firmly planted in a place I no longer wish to be. I ache to track you, close the distance between us. But, you’ve left no breadcrumbs. I cannot pick up your scent. I call out to you. I plead and bargain for you. But, still you stay away. I am widowed and orphaned and abandoned. Please send me directions to you. Give me a flashlight. You asked me once if I would follow you to California, and I told you I’d follow you anywhere. I meant that.



One decadent decade of destruction

by Bekah Steimel


a feast of fool’s gold
painted rocks of poverty
mislabeled as wealth
advertised as freedom
and sold without receipt
but no fortune was found
no emancipation from misery
no return policy to implement
and undo such a reckless purchase
I tossed ten years into the trash
with my own two hands
but those same fingers
pulled me out of the rotting landfill
and into a pile of compost
breaking all garbage down
into fertilizer
to strengthen my garden of renaissance
and feed the world
with my unlikely harvest



A life vicariously lived

by Bekah Seimel


infuriates the dead
forced to watch you waste away
as they rot and crumble
without choice
if you get your kicks
without ever moving your feet
if you simply trace originals
and always paint by number
then this may be the only poem
that I will pollute with your face



From a Distance

by Bekah Steimel


Death is the perfection
we seek
and fear to attain
all sins
forever hidden or forgiven
all secrets
tucked safely into timeless sleep
six feet is an infinite universe
of separation
and we are all beautiful and blurred
from a distance




by Bekah Steimel


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



Bekah Steimel is a 37-year-old writer living in St. Louis, whose poems have been published globally. Her pastimes include flirting, drinking whiskey and making people unconformable. Find her recent work in literary magazines such as Oddball, FIVE:2:ONE and Crab Fat. Visit and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @BekahSteimel.







Poetry 4

why must details be written in invisible ink

by Alfred Booth

my Steinway’s stained ivories sang of elephant’s breath
years later I learned of their photo gallery red extermination
my grief has since been tuned to burnt umber disbelief
mother called my eyes Saint Giles blue, struggling
to overcome the dead salmon of her maiden name
my studio with exotic plants was bathed in India yellow rays
north, east, and south windows framed in Key Lime green
the incarnadine of South American rhythms vibrated wildly
I traveled to places built from almost heavenly bricks
got lost in shaded white mornings and fading grey rivers
and still had a lamp room grey distortion of religion
we buried my sister in rectory red draperies
her eyes had been the color of borrowed light
mother’s wardrobe went from ammonite and periwinkle
to pure black that intensified her Esmerelda eyes
I could not walk in your shoes
by Alfred Booth

yes, the splash of these old tears
shared in private with you
as if we’re still adding ice to whiskey together

20 years ago, I’ve grown old, you see
with the third degree burn of loss
a jealous, nonetheless faithful, companion
though I spoke many nights with your pain

I was not privy to your pillow talk
forced always to imagine
the snap of those explosions beyond grief


how many hours did we spend
pacing angry hospital halls
waiting for reassuring words, before
the final noose, its dire driven success
kidnapped corners of our lives
as unwilling gifts to ignite your ashes
staggering from such ripples
I could not look at the claws of death
that marred your beauty

do you carry huge chunks of us on the quiet paths
you were convinced meandered there?


you were not flawed, not broken
we learned to map out your grief with life
its betrayal, its ugliness
and distilled our beating hearts to light
the depths where you cowered
in our strength
we lost your fight for a zenith of the absolute


the scattering
four months later, a last moment
when all your bearers of life tried not to weep
you wanted festivity lighting the village square
we were valiant actors
in your midsummer epilogue
but I, unarmed for this pitch black
solitude, scrambled
though dire brambles and untended vineyards
the demon sadness
pushing me beyond my barriers
below the farm house high on the hillside
I howled with the misunderstanding of a wolf
and sought his communion with the wind
that played dice with your
dispersed ashes
like your accordion’s twisted melancholy
and let my voice reach out one last time
an anguished song of loss as loud
as the contortion facing your death
as strong as your peaceful eternity
but always
with a lesser grasp than the weave of thorns
that took you from us



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:




evening on brant point

by Dean Schabner

Better a blacknecked goose
takes flight — one, startled —
then another — better
they wrest their nightgray
bodies from the dark marshpool
as the tired sun
sighs out red gold
into the dimming sky.
Better the still air
suddenly fills with
frantic wings, beaks
calling confusion, alarm
across the outstretched bay.
Others answer — hear it —
brants, honking too –
whitecheeked buffleheads pipe in —
all running, splashing up
the black surface,
desperate for flight,
not knowing why —
Better a flowerburst of chaos,
wild honking,
clattering beaks,
reedy voices deep —
calling the marsh,
the upreaching reeds
and tidebared shore
to rise, too —
to take wing,
and for that instant —
Oh, throw yourself open —
an instant, but only just —
before the voices find harmony,
wings — rhythm,
and evening
gently settles
on the bay.



Dean Schabner lives on Jamaica Bay, at the far edge of New York City, with his daughter.







Art into Poetry, Poetry into Art – The Blue Guitar

David Hockney – self portrait with blue guitar


As a poet I have always been interested in how works of art can inspire writing – partly as yet another way of steering around writers’ block. If the words will not come, then looking at paintings that inspire you, interest you, or even alarm you, can be the button you might need to press.

Of course, it works the other way too. Artists can be inspired by poetry, and can produce paintings that reflect that inspiration. Sir John Everett Millais, painted Ophelia over 1851–2, from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act IV, Scene vii when, half crazed, Ophelia drowns herself after Hamlet has murdered her father.

Ophelia 1851-2 Sir John Everett Millais,

There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up;
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element; but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.


In 1888 fellow pre-Raphaelite John William Waterhouse painted his famous Lady of Shallot, inspired by Tennyson’s poem. (Incidentally it is a brilliant painting to study for examples of the use of symbolism in art, see below*)






However, what I want write about today is the peculiar circularity of responses to Picasso’s The Ol

d Guitarist.  The artist David Hockney was impressed by Picasso’s work using the process of  colour et

ching and he went on to develop the technique further in his own work. He created a series of etchings in Blue Guitar: Etchings by David Hockney Who Was Inspired by Wallace Stevens Who Was Inspired by Pablo Picasso Petersburg Ltd; First Edition edition (Oct. 1977) ISBN-13: 978-0902825031


Wallace Stevens, 1879 – 1955, was an American modernist poet. He wrote a very long poem, The Man with the Blue Guitar,  see below, ** probably in homage to The Old Guitarist .

 “They said ‘You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.’

The man replied, ‘Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.’”

This is an entertaining take on how art is life is art. The whole poem is a long meditation on the way life and art intersect. Although, perhaps mischievously, Stevens claimed that his poem was not influenced by a single painting, the poem’s themes and approaches do reflect the painting’s content.

What is fascinating is to see how Hockney’s intense close attention has added extra layers to both Picasso’s painting and to Wallace’s poem. Like a snake biting its own tail, this is a perfect illustration of how art affects life, and how life is encased in art.

The Art Institute Chicago, in  its Exhibition label, The Artist and the Poet, February 1–June 2, 2013, Galleries 124–127, usefully summarises how poetry has often fed into Hockney’s work.:-

“Since the early 1960s, David Hockney has sought ways to meld his modern aesthetic with  style with highly personalized subject matter. He started by inserting fragments of poems into his paintings, as, for example, in We Two Boys Together Clinging (1961),

Hockney, David;
We Two Boys Together Clinging;
Arts Council Collection

which integrates two lines from a Walt Whitman poem of the same title. Fifteen years later, inspired by Wallace Stevens’s “The Man with the Blue Guitar” (1937), with its themes of representation and imaginative transformation, Hockney made 10 drawings in colored inks and crayons. With the aid of master printer Aldo Crommelynck those drawings were converted into 20 mixed intaglio prints using a color-etching process initially developed for Pablo Picasso.

While not a literal illustratio nof Stevens’s poem, the print series The Blue Guitar interprets its themes in visual terms, and most of the images show Hockney’s love of Picasso. The print Old Guitarist juxtaposes the Art Institute’s famous painting of 1903–04 (1926.253) with later Picasso iconography. Other sheets likewise contrast Picasso’s different phases within the same image; throughout the series, Hockney distinguishes the disparate styles by using different colors.


It is perhaps Hockney’s Blue Guitar that has perpetuated the idea that Wallace Stevens was similarly inspired by Picasso’s Old Guitarist. Although Stevens was familiar with modern art and no doubt saw the painting when it was exhibited at the Wadsworth Atheneum in 1934, he insisted that no one picture inspired his famous poem. ”



An online catalogue gives an overview of  Hockney’s inspiring  project.

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*”Waterhouse’s Lady of Shalott of 1888 reveals his careful faithfulness to the setting of the poem. At the close of the day “robed in snowy white” and seated in the boat with her name written on the prow, the Lady loosens the chain that binds her to the island, symbolically freeing herself from her self-imposed imprisonment. (She)  sets out in a trancelike state with a “glassy countenance.” Departing from the poem, Waterhouse has placed a crucifix and three candles in the prow of the boat, by which means he reinforces the funereal tone of her embarkation. She takes with her the tapestry representing her prior life, which she has surrendered for love, and decorated with scenes of the world that she has determined to join. The single leaf that has fallen into her lap poignantly tells her story: her life is over; she is the “fallen leaf,” fallen, dying. For love of Lancelot, she has renounced her life; she is a martyr for love — and a fallen woman”

Pictorial Interpretations of “The Lady of Shalott”: The Lady in her Boat – Elizabeth Nelson


**Wallace Stevens, “The Man with the Blue Guitar” (excerpts)



The man bent over his guitar,

A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.


They said, “You have a blue guitar,

You do not play things as they are.”


The man replied, “Things as they are

Are changed upon the blue guitar.”


And they said then, “But play, you must,

A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,


A tune upon the blue guitar

Of things exactly as they are.”




I cannot bring a world quite round,

Although I patch it as I can.


I sing a hero’s head, large eye

And bearded bronze, but not a man,


Although I patch him as I can

And reach through him almost to man.


If to serenade almost to man

Is to miss, by that, things as they are,


Say it is the serenade

Of a man that plays a blue guitar.




Ah, but to play man number one,

To drive the dagger in his heart,


To lay his brain upon the board

And pick the acrid colors out,


To nail his thought across the door,

Its wings spread wide to rain and snow,


To strike his living hi and ho,

To tick it, tock it, turn it true,


To bang from it a savage blue,

Jangling the metal of the strings




So that’s life, then: things as they are?

It picks its way on the blue guitar.


A million people on one string?

And all their manner in the thing,


And all their manner, right and wrong,

And all their manner, weak and strong?


The feelings crazily, craftily call,

Like a buzzing of flies in autumn air,


And that’s life, then: things as they are,

This buzzing of the blue guitar.




Do not speak to us of the greatness of poetry,

Of the torches wisping in the underground,


Of the structure of vaults upon a point of light.

There are no shadows in our sun,


Day is desire and night is sleep.

There are no shadows anywhere.


The earth, for us, is flat and bare.

There are no shadows. Poetry


Exceeding music must take the place

Of empty heaven and its hymns,


Ourselves in poetry must take their place,

Even in the chattering of your guitar.




A tune beyond us as we are,

Yet nothing changed by the blue guitar;


Ourselves in the tune as if in space,

Yet nothing changed, except the place


Of things as they are and only the place

As you play them, on the blue guitar,


Placed, so, beyond the compass of change,

Perceived in a final atmosphere;


For a moment final, in the way

The thinking of art seems final when


The thinking of god is smoky dew.

The tune is space. The blue guitar


Becomes the place of things as they are,

A composing of senses of the guitar.




It is the sun that shares our works.

The moon shares nothing. It is a sea.


When shall I come to say of the sun,

It is a sea; it shares nothing;


The sun no longer shares our works

And the earth is alive with creeping men,


Mechanical beetles never quite warm?

And shall I then stand in the sun, as now


I stand in the moon, and call it good,

The immaculate, the merciful good,


Detached from us, from things as they are?

Not to be part of the sun? To stand


Remote and call it merciful?

The strings are cold on the blue guitar.




The vivid, florid, turgid sky,

The drenching thunder rolling by,


The morning deluged still by night,

The clouds tumultuously bright


And the feeling heavy in cold chords

Struggling toward impassioned choirs,


Crying among the clouds, enraged

By gold antagonists in air–


I know my lazy, leaden twang

Is like the reason in a storm;


And yet it brings the storm to bear.

I twang it out and leave it there.




And the color, the overcast blue

Of the air, in which the blue guitar


Is a form, described but difficult,

And I am merely a shadow hunched


Above the arrowy, still strings,

The maker of a thing yet to be made;


The color like a thought that grows

Out of a mood, the tragic robe


Of the actor, half his gesture, half

His speech, the dress of his meaning, silk


Sodden with his melancholy words,

The weather of his stage, himself.




Raise reddest columns. Toll a bell

And clap the hollows full of tin.


Throw papers in the streets, the wills

Of the dead, majestic in their seals.


And the beautiful trombones-behold

The approach of him whom none believes,


Whom all believe that all believe,

A pagan in a varnished care.


Roll a drum upon the blue guitar.

Lean from the steeple. Cry aloud,


“Here am I, my adversary, that

Confront you, hoo-ing the slick trombones,


Yet with a petty misery

At heart, a petty misery,


Ever the prelude to your end,

The touch that topples men and rock.”






Is this picture of Picasso’s, this “hoard

Of destructions”, a picture of ourselves,


Now, an image of our society?

Do I sit, deformed, a naked egg,


Catching at Good-bye, harvest moon,

Without seeing the harvest or the moon?


Things as they are have been destroyed.

Have I? Am I a man that is dead


At a table on which the food is cold?

Is my thought a memory, not alive?


Is the spot on the floor, there, wine or blood

And whichever it may be, is it mine?






A few final solutions, like a duet

With the undertaker: a voice in the clouds,


Another on earth, the one a voice

Of ether, the other smelling of drink,


The voice of ether prevailing, the swell

Of the undertaker’s song in the snow


Apostrophizing wreaths, the voice

In the clouds serene and final, next


The grunted breath scene and final,

The imagined and the real, thought


And the truth, Dichtung und Wahrheit, all

Confusion solved, as in a refrain


One keeps on playing year by year,

Concerning the nature of things as they are.






From this I shall evolve a man.

This is his essence: the old fantoche


Hanging his shawl upon the wind,

Like something on the stage, puffed out,


His strutting studied through centuries.

At last, in spite of his manner, his eye


A-cock at the cross-piece on a pole

Supporting heavy cables, slung


Through Oxidia, banal suburb,

One-half of all its installments paid.


Dew-dapper clapper-traps, blazing

From crusty stacks above machines.


Ecce, Oxidia is the seed

Dropped out of this amber-ember pod,


Oxidia is the soot of fire,

Oxidia is Olympia.




How long and late the pheasant sleeps

The employer and employee contend,


Combat, compose their droll affair.

The bubbling sun will bubble up,


Spring sparkle and the cock-bird shriek.

The employer and employee will hear


And continue their affair. The shriek

Will rack the thickets. There is no place,


Here, for the lark fixed in the mind,

In the museum of the sky. The cock


Will claw sleep. Morning is not sun,

It is this posture of the nerves,


As if a blunted player clutched

The nuances of the blue guitar.


It must be this rhapsody or none,

The rhapsody of things as they are.





Throw away the lights, the definitions,

And say of what you see in the dark


That it is this or that it is that,

But do not use the rotted names.


How should you walk in that space and know

Nothing of the madness of space,


Nothing of its jocular procreations?

Throw the lights away. Nothing must stand


Between you and the shapes you take

When the crust of shape has been destroyed.


You as you are? You are yourself.

The blue guitar surprises you.





That generation’s dream, aviled

In the mud, in Monday’s dirty light,


That’s it, the only dream they knew,

Time in its final block, not time


To come, a wrangling of two dreams.

Here is the bread of time to come,


Here is its actual stone. The bread

Will be our bread, the stone will be


Our bed and we shall sleep by night.

We shall forget by day, except


The moments when we choose to play

The imagined pine, the imagined jay.








A Poetry of Lossy Media

By Thomas Jackson Park


Current methods of recording and preserving audio use digital technology. Theoretically, by using digital methods, we can create ideal and permanent records of media. A file I create today could be accessed 1000 years in the future, and if compatibility was in place, it would sound the same.

This is certainly a compelling and exciting capability. To the archivist, it presents the possibility to freeze media in time, so that any further decay is arrested. If all media were archived in 2017, then they would continue indefinitely as they existed in that year, at that time.

That’s all technically very interesting, but it does lack a sense of poetry. What is permanent? Ideas, perhaps, could be, or virtually so. God, some might say, is infinite—to the believer(s). Most things of this world are not permanent. Even durable materials such as stone and metal crumble and rust over periods of time.

Analog cassettes are a more organic and feasible way of storing audio—in a sense, a more humane way.

I recently obtained a portable cassette player, and was then able to play any of several scores of audio cassettes that I had saved from over 20 years ago. What was obvious right away, upon listening, was—not only was I hearing the music that I so enjoyed during my college years, I also was hearing the effects of subsequent years on the music.

I noticed a variety of time- and device- based sounds—there was what we call “tape hiss”- a sustained, upper-range layer of white noise. To my ears, this seemed louder now than when these tapes were recorded—thought it may be the case that I am simply more used to high-fidelity digital recordings that have no lossy sounds of this nature, and so I was more aware of the earlier sounds. There were periodic sounds that were something between metallic and noise sounds. I was not sure what those were—they seemed to have to do with the decay of the tape. There were also thrumming bassy sounds emitted by the cassette player. I was amused to discover that these bassy sounds could be detected on any of a variety of cassette decks, of different ages and conditions.

William Basinski, with his famous “Disintegration Loops”, captured instrumental phrases on reel-to-reel tape in the very process of erosion. Listening to these recordings is both musical, emotional and philosophical, as the process of time is made manifest before our ears.

For the musician, and perhaps archivist—there emerges a challenge. That is to capture, as Basinski did, media in a particular state of decay—to digitize the media at one moment, and therefore to preserve both its original condition, to some degree, and its “present” one. This brings up all kinds of possibilities—one analog cassette, for example, or vinyl record, could be recorded at different times. One recording might represent a particular symphony as retrieved from a particular segment of tape, say, in March of 1995, where a different recording could be made and cataloged at a later time—maybe March of 2005. The archivist (and others) could experience and assess the differences between the two recordings, and note the effects of time on the media.

With that in mind, I began a process of freezing several of my old cassettes in time. I created a 2017 “rip” of over a dozen cassettes. Some of this music was original, by myself, and some works were by other artists. I captured and preserved a mix a friend made for me in 1992-3, and then shared this mix with the friend. We talked about the sonic and nostalgic qualities of the tape, and noted its condition in 2017.

Those of my personal works captured were of interest in that the passage of time had altered the music, making it much more complex than originally was the case. Nearly all of these recordings are available to me as lossless files, with no decay, as I have saved the files from when they were created. Yet, I return to the ripped versions and listen to them instead, with their warm, organic qualities, and attributes added by time, dust, heat and other factors.

People, animals, plants, they all age and pass away, Materials, even the sturdiest, do, as well. Astrophysicists can suggest an approximate time when the Earth itself will disappear into the Sun as it swells into a Red Giant star. It is interesting that we try to create and preserve media that is, technically, “perfect”, or lossless, and does not fade with time. Perhaps a more honest approach would be to record on lossy media, and note and reflect upon the influence the passing years have—if art is a truly a mirror, it cannot truly be permanent.

Escaping the dead hand of writer’s block 5 Writers’ Prompts – Lists

By Shirley Bell.


A list poem is what it says it is – it can be a list of things, people, places, ideas. Repetition of the thing being listed can be effective and rhyming can be useful for emphasis  but it is optional.

It is a form that lends itself to humour, with a strong beat and a sing-song musical rhythm, as well as a rhyme scheme. But although the list poem is a staple for classroom creativity, it does not have to be poetry for children and topics can be secrets, lies, what I hate, with an adult twist.

I have included some interesting and definitely adult poems for inspiration and closed with humour.

So, you can try I am a… I was a… my house is… my secrets are…my sorrows are, in the darkness I…fear is… I hate,  or try questions. The confessional poet, Anne Sexton, with her history of mental illness, who wrote the unsettling list poem below, Anna who was mad,  asks am I, did I,  and gives instructions, take me, give me, write me.

Her Wikepedia entry says “Anne Sexton (November 9, 1928 – October 4, 1974) was an American poet, known for her highly personal, confessional verse. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for her book Live or Die. Themes of her poetry include her long battle against depression and mania, suicidal tendencies, and various intimate details from her private life, including her relationships with her husband and children.”

Anne Sexton is often coupled with Sylvia Plath; both were suicides. I loved Sylvia Plath’s poetry with a passion but reading it when I had tiny children could feel toxic.


Anna who was mad – Anne Sexton

Anna who was mad,
I have a knife in my armpit.
When I stand on tiptoe I tap out messages.
Am I some sort of infection?Did I make you go insane?
Did I make the sounds go sour?
Did I tell you to climb out the window?
Forgive. Forgive.
Say not I did.
Say not.

Speak Mary-words into our pillow.
Take me the gangling twelve-year-old
into your sunken lap.
Whisper like a buttercup.
Eat me. Eat me up like cream pudding.
Take me in.
Take me.

Give me a report on the condition of my soul.
Give me a complete statement of my actions.
Hand me a jack-in-the-pulpit and let me listen in.
Put me in the stirrups and bring a tour group through.
Number my sins on the grocery list and let me buy.
Did I make you go insane?
Did I turn up your earphone and let a siren drive through?
Did I open the door for the mustached psychiatrist
who dragged you out like a gold cart?
Did I make you go insane?
From the grave write me, Anna!You are nothing but ashes
but nevertheless pick up the Parker Pen I gave you.

Write me.



And now to Joseph Brodsky 1940 –  1996 Wikipedia summarises him as “a Russian and American poet and essayist. Born in Leningrad in 1940, Brodsky ran afoul of Soviet authorities and was expelled (“strongly advised” to emigrate) from the Soviet Union in 1972, settling in the United States with the help of W. H. Auden and other supporters. He taught thereafter at Mount Holyoke College, and at universities including Yale, Columbia, Cambridge and Michigan. Brodsky was awarded the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature “for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity”. He was appointed United States Poet Laureate in 1991.”  This is his deceptively simple list poem:-


A list of some observation –  Joseph Brodsky

A list of some observation. In a corner, it’s warm.
A glance leaves an imprint on anything it’s dwelt on.
Water is glass’s most public form.
Man is more frightening than its skeleton.
A nowhere winter evening with wine. A black
porch resists an osier’s stiff assaults.
Fixed on an elbow, the body bulks
like a glacier’s debris, a moraine of sorts.
A millennium hence, they’ll no doubt expose
a fossil bivalve propped behind this gauze
cloth, with the print of lips under the print of fringe,
mumbling “Good night” to a window hinge.


The one that follows is a bite back of critics of slam poetry, spoken word, performance poetry, which is
an uneasy bedfellow to more conventional poetry. I am hoping to get a couple of articles from people in the spoken word world in later issues, but here is Emanuel Xavier’s riotous answer back.

Wikepdia introduces him as”Emanuel Xavier (born May 3, 1971),[1] is an American poet, spoken word artist, novelist, editor, and activist born and raised in New York City, in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn. Of Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian ancestry,[2] he emerged from the neo-Nuyorican spoken word movement to become a successful writer and advocate for gay youth programs and Latino gay literature.[3] Once a street hustler and drug dealer, he has conducted spoken word poetry workshops and produced benefits and events for youth organizations around the United States”.

THE DEATH OF ART  – Emanuel Xavier

“Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.”
-critic Harold Bloom, who first called slam poetry “the death of art”

.I am not a poet.

I want to be rich and buy things for my family.

Besides, I am sort of popular and can honestly say I’ve had a great sex life.


I am not a poet.

Georgia O’ Keefe paintings do absolutely nothing for me.

I do not feel oppressed or depressed and no longer have anything to say about the President.


I am not a poet.

I do not like being called an “activist” because it takes away from those that are out on the streets protesting and fighting for our rights.


I am not a poet.

I eat poultry and

fish and suck way too much dick to be considered a vegetarian.


I am not a poet.

I would most likely give my ass up in prison before trying to save it with poetry .


and I’d like it! Heck, I’d probably be inspired.


I am not a poet.

I may value peace but I will not simply use a pen to unleash my anger.

I would fuck somebody up if I had to.


I am not a poet.

I may have


been abused and had a difficult life but I don’t want pity.

I believe laughter and love heals.


I am not a poet.

I am not dying.

I write a lot about AIDS and how it has affected my life but, despite the rumors, I am not positive.

Believe it or not, weight loss amongst sexually active gay men could still be a choice.


I am not a poet.

I do not get Kerouac or honestly care much for Bukowski.


I am not a poet.

I don’t spend my weekends reading and writing.

I like to go out and party.

I like to have a few cocktails but I do not have a drinking problem regardless of what borough, city or state I may wake up in.


I am not a poet.

I don’t need drugs to open up my imagination.

I’ve been a dealer and had a really bad habit but that was long before I started writing.


I am not a poet.

I can seriously only tolerate about half an hour of spoken word before I start tuning out and thinking about my grocery list or what my cats are up to.


I am not a poet.

I only do poetry events if I know there will be cute guys there and I always carry business cards.


I am not a poet according to the scholars and academics and Harold Bloom.

I only write to masturbate my mind.

After all, fucking yourself is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.


I am not a poet.

I am only trying to get attention and convince myself that poetry can save lives when my words simply and proudly contribute to “the death of art.


“Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah (born 15 April 1958)[1] is a British writer, dub poet and Rastafarian. He was included in The Times list of Britain’s top 50 post-war writers in 2008” – Wikepedia

When I was interviewed by Benjamin Zephaniah, as part of Made in Manchester’s documentary on Brexit  for BBC Radio 4 earlier this month, as a vegan he was offered baked potato (on its own of course) and salad.

He said he did not care for salad.  So, surprised, I asked, like everyone he ever talks to must ask, “then what do you eat” .

And,  as he must always answer, he recited this to me!


Vegan Delight –Benjamin Zephaniah

Ackees, chapatties
Dumplins an nan,
Channa an rotis
Onion uttapam,
Masala dosa
Green callaloo
Bhel an samosa
Corn an aloo.
Yam an cassava
Pepperpot stew,
Rotlo an guava
Rice an tofu,
Puri, paratha
Sesame casserole,
Brown eggless pasta
An brown bread rolls.

Soya milked muesli
Soya bean curd,
Soya sweet sweeties
Soya’s de word,
Soya bean margarine
Soya bean sauce,
What can mek medicine?
Soya of course.

Soya meks yoghurt
Soya ice-cream,
Or soya sorbet
Soya reigns supreme,
Soya sticks liquoriced
Soya salads
Try any soya dish
Soya is bad.

Plantain an tabouli
Cornmeal pudding
Onion bhajee
Wid plenty cumin,
Breadfruit an coconuts
Molasses tea
Dairy free omelettes
Very chilli.
Ginger bread, nut roast
Sorrell, paw paw,
Cocoa an rye toast
I tek dem on tour,
Drinking cool maubi
Meks me feel sweet,
What was dat question now?
What do we eat?