The Undertow Review

It's really the struggle, the argument with oneself, that interests...
― Robert Dessaix.






Robert Joe Stout

The Clerical Supervisors Eat Lunch on the Lawn  


Bathroom cleansers,

                              funerals,

pin-on lace

                 cadence

the spooning of cottage cheese

and packaged tuna treats.

They nod my presence

past a redwood       

shedding bits of bark and browning foliage

on the lawn surrounding

them with green.

I carry their whispers

up the courthouse steps

into offices where young clerk-typists

lean on cluttered desks

and dream

of children,

                 waterfalls

and the smell of new-mown weeds.



Real de Arriba, Mexico

A gash of asphalt hacked into a ridge

pocked by slag-strewn openings

of long ago abandoned mines cut

through cornfields’ rustling green.

Peligro!—Danger!—warned a bent

sign pocked with bullet holes.

The bus lurched through gouged

out ruts where rains had washed

out half the curve and swerved uphill

towards swirling clouds, then huffed,

geared down and pushed through brush,

the crest surmounted. Look! The town!

Twin avenues of pink and blue veered

around a gray stone church beyond

a “V” of crumbling masonry—what once

had been a mill that processed gold.

In corners purpled by the shifting breeze

black-shawled women nodded, hands

twitching like hurt birds. Their whispers

brought the shadows of old miners through

the haze of progress onto rusted earth.



At the Neighborhood Restaurant


My wife reaches for my hand.

Pain... I hear her voice repeat            

in cadence with a voice behind me.

Half-turning I see a girl I used to party with

stiffen in the cook's embrace.

I'm getting my life back together...

she seems to be saying. The side of her face,

from the corner of her eye to the lump beneath her jaw,

is a ruptured purplish-black. I block her out

and listen as my wife describes what treatments for cancer

are doing to her mother's eyes.

A diesel outside gears

to a stop. Haven't slept for days... the girl

I used to party with says through my wife's pinched lips.

I nod. Voices from other times

that I've hung out here surround me

with other fears. My wife

squeezes my fingers. Through the window

        neon stripes our clenched hands

with pulsating red. The diesel revs its engine

and the girl I used to party with

murmurs she'll somehow endure it. Or is it

my wife who says it? I start to reply

but a voice intercedes: It tells me it dreamed

that angry mice

ate her toes to the bones

last night. So much pain..! someone cries. I clench many hands.

The diesel grinds through a green light.




Richard Miller

Threads of Cigarette Smoke

Because we spurned the water of life,

our mutual thirst rallied against us

with greater ferocity than we thought it capable of.

In such an atmosphere, uninvited guests

are known to thrive. On the alternate side

of the alternating current, the latest trends


were coming to a head. I careened

into a realization - I hadn't ever "thought" before.

What I had believed to be thinking

was actually a sinking into the present moment,

drowning in particulars and concrete imagery.

So I bought a new suit of clothes.


I declared myself a vigilante

of the imagination. Consciousness,

startled by such a development this early

in its pupal stage, shifted in its chrysalis

and folded back into sleep.

Spirit folded as well, but on another level.


I glimpsed you as you moved

from pageant to pageant, askew,

the prospect of the infinite glinting

in your eyes, and this spectacle,

combined with the blushing breeze

trembling in the shadow lit landscape,


revealed a different view of myself

and the space I've come to occupy.

I would put it into words if I were able,

but I only have this set of shapeless sensations

at my disposal. I never did comprehend

their relation to the ensuing downward spiral,


nor why, in such a context,

a downward spiral would ensue.

Darkness moves in ways that none of us

can fully grasp, seeping through the pores

of the vast project to which we've committed

ourselves. This is part of the appeal, I guess.


The thrill of conjecture.

As it stands, however, I remain pinioned

to the fringes of that undertaking, drowsing

in the musky dusk, drifting

like a paper boat along the surface

of a muddy stream.



Forehead Lines

I.

We venerate the older miracles.

The smoldering sense of having

been mislead spreads like breath

on a windowpane. New damages

drain the sky each night,

and each day, we wake up the same

people as before. Within

the battered core of everything

we've envisioned, a revision arises,

one whose power is exercised

in the form of a cancelled stamp,

and so its existence clamps down on us,

pinning us where we are

on the far side of memory.


II.

Inevitably, a new kind of failing

thrusts its heels into the ground.

The seals, which formerly kept

the seers from running rampant

with their revelations, have finally

broken. As the unspoken ambassador

of these token truths, I've taken up

the task of masking their development

in strips of ticker tape. No matter

how you shape the scene, smog

is always present - an unpleasant

reminder of our all-too-human frailty.

Words, you mustn't fail me now.

Even if your meanings do.



The First Line

Cold cluster of syllables,

taken from the jasmine tinted sky.

A new darkness lies over the street

intending to swallow it whole.


It's apparent that I spend

too much time wallowing.

Lately, I've become quite proficient at it,

which isn't a good sign.


The bond between this thought

and its expression dissolves,

and a volatile scenario results.

Too much tumult in my temper,


too much to remember

but not enough to savor.

I ought to pay a visit to flavor country

for a sampling of cancer.


But this isn't an answer, it's an avoidance.

Tonight there's coitus in the clouds.

A heavy rain is coming

and it's likely to crush me.




Ifran Merchant

The Jellyfish


Waiting on an unlovely stretch of the shore, the jellyfish

has surrendered its own will to the will of the ocean.

The ocean is far away now, but the jellyfish trusts it shall

return, and who am I to argue with a jellyfish.


The jellyfish can live on the land and in the sea, and I

have not yet perfected either art. Perhaps its secret is in

the way it exchanges one existence for another, the life

of a fish and the life of a jelly, without seeking to belong

to either world. Water becomes air, air becomes water

the jellyfish knows, and in this knowledge alone lies still.


The jellyfish on the sand is not trying to go anywhere.

Its will is the will of the ocean. The immense power

received in such an alignment is what makes the jellyfish

curiously frightening, gives it its sting.



Carousel


O anxious International Arrivals

clustered around the baggage carousel,

watch hopefully the thick black rubber veils

which still reveal nothing! Another soul


waiting to cross the Styx, I’ll take my place.

The grumble begins. The belt shudders, drags out,

baiting the ringside crowd, a zippered case.

Soon hands reach like needles drawn to magnets


for similar luggage, browns and blues and blacks.

A lone bright red suitcase goes sailing past.

The procession meanders on to its climax

of things checked in as fragile or outsized:


an over packed valise with strapped on wheels,

held together by parcel string and tape;

a Baluchi carpet-bag jingling its bells;

an umbrella; a cardboard poster-tube;


a folding-chair; some other assorted junk

all labelled with the airline’s barcode tag;

then last of all, a Louis Vuitton trunk

goes to the lady with the matching handbag.


The crowd thins, as a windfall, down to me

and that red suitcase, left on the conveyor.

It isn’t mine. I take it on my trolley,

stroll through Customs, with nothing to declare.



Mezzaluna


The wind wrestled the city; the insufflation

down closes, knife-cold, snaking through the haar.

That night she was returning from the shops

along the cobbled crescent. The bags she held

suddenly weightless, her arms began to float,

puppet-stringed. She smiled, tiptoed her feet.

Like a leaf whirled up a vortex, she was propelled

on past the moon, to the Pleiades, where she stopped.

Her body, loved by the god, changed to a star,

can still be traced amongst the constellations.




Drew McNaughton

Kyberpoetica

Learn to plug the gap,

Turn off the synapse,

Get the brain to stop whirring.

 

It’s inspiration I’m feeling.

It’s as if I’m suspended from the ceiling

Looking down on the minute processes

Of life.

The breathing of my wife

As she’s sleeping,

Not for me right now that state of being,

I’m wide awake,

The mind is an amazing thing,

Even though you may want to control

It’s beyond that control.

 

Κyβεrpοετica.

 

Steer me on the right course,

Let me find the right feeling within

And without.

Take me to new lands and new modes

Of living.

Islands of habitation within

A great sea of energy;

Waves never stopping, sometimes calming,

but always potential waiting to be stirred

Up.

I can see those waves extending

Into the known universe.

The nearest stars touch my face,

Caress my retina and free my senses.

They are bright beacons, lighthouses,

In an ever shifting and surging ocean.

 

Retina to occipital lobe,

Occipital lobe to frontal lobe,

Frontal to parietal to temporal

To limbic, hippocampus, hypothalamus,

Reticular formation and Vagus.

Slow down, slow down, slow down.

Calm yourself, you’re only human.

You have to live in this body you know,

You have to live on this earth you know,

You know so well.

 

Take the Κyβεrpοετica, treasure it,

Make it an electronic extension of

The body.

Corpus magnum.

Corpus.

From end to end the blue flame runs,

From the centre to the extremities.

Cardiac plexus. Home.

Begin to move now, move to another place

Where once was bad is now good,

Where once was sadness is now joy,

Where there is respite in an ever

Changing World.

 

Soon we will wonder why we ever

lost the innocence of childhood.

There will come a natural progression

To an innocent state once more,

Where we feel an extension

And oneness with all nature:

Animals, trees, plants, rocks and

Water

Water flowing like the blood of the Earth

Through deep veins and rock-hewn arteries,

Miles below the surface at great heat

And never seeing the light of day.




Miriam Gamble

Winter Sunday


Beyond the patio the light drains slowly

from the afternoon’s biblical instruction,

the twins fiercely hurling swears

from their gateway as you passed.


Your grandmother may be upstairs

harbouring a soft tang of disinfectant,

or she may be in the cemetery

that is somewhere close by the church on the hill.


Either way she is cold as the animals

whiskering with frost in the beds

and you shut her from your mind

as forcibly as from that mind you banish Jesus.


You watch The Chronicles of Narnia

and you wait for your dinner

to the radiator’s warm gurgle and click.

Outside, the roses pass singly into the dark.



Vroom


You! Something like a shrew as a shrew is depicted

in anatomically incorrect paintings of the past,

but froggish on your high elastic toes.

In the body long and low,

stealing from the thick grass under the perimeter hedge

by the side of the road: a miniature local doghead,

all out of proportion. Your nose twisting to the point

of a corkscrew; your big, Dumbo-defying ears.

The look to you of a century’s weary wisdom.

Mouse mage, reality’s upended cage –

by speed both killed and rendered possible.

The kind of thing we could only purloin at 40 mph

from the cache of a deserted winter’s night.



Incident Report


He’s walking like he’s legged

with blades of scissors –

one sticky hinge at the navel.

Into the road, then out again,

into the road, then out.


The big boom of the radio,

if his ears could smell,

would be raw gas, odourless.

In my – veering – in my sky

blue walnut shell, I pass.


When they come, will the cops

find any person matching up

to my description? If I drove

right into him, would two

bodies collide? All the journey


I’m tortured by the notion

that he must, must have been killed,

stalking crazy in the road like that.

But nothing makes the news

and no-one follows up my call.








Scherezade Siobhan 

log #1


the tree we anchor turns into a kurdish folksong. 
valleys of coral snakes & ochre moons swelling into holy bread - 

earth kneaded into domes & dunes - 
its water glimmering with the prayer of gravity.

do the rivers dream of dilaudid?
does the child know of the distance 
between the voice & the body ?

once on a phone call, i performed an abstraction of ropes.
our third invention. our memory knotted into black braids.

it is said that girls are taught to apologize
for every path they can or can’t take. 

the mountain comes unconditioned 
of its gender. the dust with its tiny mouth

will swallow each oval of velocity.
will touch everything. will hold nothing.

a girl is told she is nothing. she hums
into the soft dark - just wait,

till i come back 
& eat you bare.

till your heart cries blue.

till your bones are fear 



log #3


in this rain, we are no longer condensed, scrupled 
to a gray temperature. in the balcony, the zaffre ceramic

is nursing a new aloe sapling. beyond the pleas of feet, 
it is the ripple that at first keeps me seeded 

then hauls me through the gestures of
a wind somersaulting in nocturnal  aeronautics

while on the phone, the soldier & i share 
a long, perfumed cup of oolong 

& each slivers the cashew
of the other’s eyelid

with bourbon-breathed sighs
in the mirror, my body flourishes

in my mother’s copper-n-cream jamdani
that smells of mothballs, attar & black sheep

the ghostsari unfolds in mappings of other lives
flickers as if a light snaking through a closed door

from under it, his voice spills over, cranberry 
sherbet wetting freshly bleached linen -

woman of silver bullet nails, i want 
to taunt the hibernating rattlesnakes

of your romany hair. i want to beat 
its medusa ropes against the bodhran 

of my weathered chest. i want. i want.
i want to meet you like continents 

drifting back to each other after 
the water has returned them to their endless blindness



speak, woman


the other woman is a pergola of cicatrices / as green as new grapevine / the other woman is a cirrus-haired nocturne / a map inked by factory smoke & spiderwebs / is the hand of jeweled verbena / is a mermaid with ribs stacked like quarter-moons/ hunted/ from the warmed mercury of the arabian sea / the other woman is a bathtub full of vintage rum / & purple candlewax / a language carved from smuggled leather / the other woman has eyelids like knife handles / has a tongue that curls around the duende of his red root / as a muscle-memory tourniquet / the other woman leaves here talon-trails / on the chipped alabaster urn of his spine / in an excavation of hieroglyphs / unearthed on a boy pharaoh’s ivory-gold grave /the other woman laughs / in an echo of basilica bells / the other woman laughs / in an anthology of wolfsongs / the other woman climbs into my bed / a mythology of mirrors / the mouth salted raw between her thighs / opening / like the sharpest venus flytrap / the other woman is i / is the eye / is endless




Lauren Pope

Memories of Baja


Bienvenidos

Yesterday came like answers on the back of flashcards –

in my pocket, a stick figure drawn on a napkin

with coconut breasts titled ‘ándale Lorena’;


my tongue rolling

against the roof of my mouth

stops the margarita brain freeze;


there are

brothers with ridiculous names

and darkness –

sweating bodies, dancing bodies

bodies like puzzle parts;


a toilet bowl, a saddle blanket

and señor cockroach outstripping my brain.



Hitchhiking

Mexican tortilla is similar to a Spanish omelet, only bigger –

a sponge of egg whites to rest my head on.


If I stand by the cactus, waving my thumb

I will wilt. This is certain.


Charles and Darwin are outside with a car.

Who the heck are Charles and Darwin?



Road Trip

Peanut butter pretzels are a triumph;

I like the way they crunch in my head,

the way they drown out Darwin's endless chatter

about ATV's

I like the way the land looks starved

tonguing the ocean,

always on the verge of drought.



4th of July

We trade fireworks for lobster on the beach.

Later, we burn the car’s Thorium engine

and dance like children

arms swirling towards the sky.

Charlie’s tongue leaves a snail trail

from my neck to my sternum –

it’s radioactive, he tells me, meaning the fire

but I’m still too invincible to care.



You Imagine A Night In Martinique


You say, ‘Look sun-kissed,

look as though you spent the day

reaping the fields,’


because –

how did you put it –

‘bedroom games are fashionable,

and you do not want to be alternative?’


You take me –

first in your hands,

then in your mouth,

fashioning me into Josephine

à la Créole –

my expression

as mindless as a doll’s.


‘Work harder,’ you rasp,

‘the sugarcane will sour

unless you cut it,’

your tongue circling my ear

like a buzzard

perfecting its descent.



Botanic Gardens


I held my breath,

wondering if

the Kadapul flower

would flirt

with evening –


stretch open

in one long

smoky

post-coital

yawn.


We listened

to the curator

describe flowers

as passing clouds;

mother passed

us water –


Stay hydrated,

we may be here a while

as if we would wilt

without 8oz a day.


In the space

of her whisper

the blossom opened,

raised its head

towards death.


A churlish tongue

blinked

within folds

of fanned pearl,

a spray of pollen

perfumed the air,


someone sneezed,

a deviant cackle

trailed from sight,


leaving

in its wake,

a pile

of crumpled silk.





GS Smith

CIVIC PLANNING CLINIC


heavily-laden

eyelids

opened on


books

throwing themselves


through

windows, flapping

dead-tree wings


in sepia-shard

suicides


of Times New Roman barbs,

tall

tales


and

groundless

theories, they all land


in fragmented traffic lights.


The librarian’s face flushes red then green.



water


satisfies the need

for clean,


with a finger

rubbed


against

the slime feel


from the rim

of the bed side

cup


as you

rinse

off


the kisses of

you

last night




Claire Lucille Trévien

The Most Comprehensive Picture

For the Clipperton gang

This world does not behave like billiard balls.

        We are noisy images

harnessed into cooking rotas.

        Our windows shift everyday

from cliffs to sea, to an upturned boat

        with shower facilities.

Steadily, we record our ghost towns,

        buildings conjured from conversations,

streets swimming in wine.

        Some days, the tide runs strongly,

others, we hear three pieces of music

        at the same time,

a sea both too flat and too sharp.

        Approach with caution. Eat it

drenched with colour speckling


(First published in Astéronymes, Penned in the Margins 2016- reprinted with permission from the author)



Carillon

[That when we] I never thought [fizzed down these streets,]
[a twist in our gurgles,] we’d be ghosting [laughter chasing our feet]
[That the bar we were] the shuffle of weight [locked into, curtains]
[pinned to hide our boozing] dragged out of sight, [bodies from pigs.]

[That we pollinated] and the bar is burning [from seat to seat,]
[with our scraps of cash,] up with art, [That we chased]
[the right fold] assaulted by flowers [in the rock]
[to get rid of the] the specials framed [tongues we didn’t need.]

[‘Shit’, you’d say] by notes [when our neighbours]
[looked shocked] ... [‘wrong language’]

That I’m racing home,
the streets not [quite] dark enough
with an energy that’s not [quite] mine.




Brandon Marlon

Sideshow Downtime


Idle adjuncts sneer from the selvage

of grander spectacles at amused mobs,

a glut of pampered voluptuaries

overdosing on maize, sucrose, and molasses

while ogling at the presently staged array

of idiocies and oddities on offer:

ragamuffins of questionable provenance,

preternaturally tensile contortionists,

the congenitally defective, hideous ogresses

and steroidal strongmen, enflamed jugglers,

manic clowns with inane antics, ludic dyads

engaged in raillery, potboiler routines all around. 


Off-duty hours breed resentment not merely

at their contumely but at paltry wages,

meager benefits, limited opportunities

for advancement or professional development.

The tuxedoed sword-swallower, after all, aspires

to exchange his flame-retardant habiliments

for a pediatrician's attire, while the aging midget

still yearns to transcend his habitus to learn the oboe. 


Children's smiles suffice for the nonce,

miring veteran players in type-casted roles,

and ten minutes from now they'll appear

in their turn brimful of gusto

before salted popcorn aficionados

and discerning connoisseurs of the freakish,

dutifully delighting in time-honored fashion.



The Graphic Novelist


He toils defiantly, undeterred by criticasters

who label him an unrepentant man-child

at the vanguard of an infantilized generation

collectively mired in interminable nonage,

carefree and inured to the silent threat of time.


As graphomaniac and artist, he painstakingly

sketches and stencils mental imagery

until pads enliven with storylines

and characters generated preternaturally

from a combination of memory, rum,

amphetamines, and sleep deprivation.


He glances around, momentarily affronted

by the spavined condition of his leased loft

now irradiated through the pierced aperture

by the dawning amber glow catching him

red-eyed, disoriented, and stubbly.


For breakfast he sops brownies in black java

and carries on limning his newest hero,

a mysterious eidolon, ethereal and vulpine,

whose principle is the talion and whose

modus operandi takes no prisoners,

particularly when it comes to his arch-nemesis,

the underworld's supercilious demoness.


In just under six months' time,

when pens fall flat and inkwells run dry,

he will reluctantly bathe and groom

then meticulously prepare his handicraft

for submission, anonymously or pseudonymously,

steeling himself for the publishers' critiques

and casual but god-awful suggestions, then,

goaded by guilt, phone his neglected mother.  



The Academic's Confession


I'm only admitting this to you because you asked,

it's almost midnight, and that was damn good merlot.


Of course we're frauds; there's no denying it.

We spend all our days engaging in futile chatter

and immaterial inquiries ("research"), poseurs

trafficking in concepts untethered from relevance,

pedlars in abstractions and overly subtle distinctions,

nonsense mongers fixated on the trivial, animated by the petty,

captious quibblers sharpening critical barbs,

staging tensions, qualifying to death, reveling

at regurgitations in unregenerate echo chambers,

hailing logorrheic lunatics ("theorists") as gods,

purloining lingo from more consequential disciplines,

reflexively elongating words to appear more learned,

interrogating everything while believing in nothing,

motivated by the adolescent impulse to flout norms

even though our devious nihilism only hastens us into

murky clouds of thought to choke on our own noxious smoke.


Truth be told, entire departments the world over

consist of little more than pompous impostors

and their pretentious acolytes

hopelessly lost in a mist of their own making.


At best, I can only aspire to the rank of epigone or poetaster;

only six colleagues and my mother read my work, albeit grudgingly.

At one time I yearned to contribute usefully to society,

but navel-gazing proved a more lucrative sinecure.

And don't get me started on tenure, the greatest fellatio I ever had

since that fetching grad student whose theses were also persuasive.

The day they superannuate me to make room for some

four-eyed geek sniffing around for my corner office

is the day I bid adieu to the greatest gig I could have ever contrived.


Come morning, you must forget everything I said or else

I'll quash your grant applications, fail you on your candidacy exams,

and slander you throughout the field. Clout's a bitch, ain't it?




Glen Armstrong

The Afterlife


It can’t be as simple

as stupid people say it is


or as vindictive

as cruel people say.


Those who need to talk

about it most


seem completely unhinged.

They knock on my door


and then act as if

every sun-brushed corner


of existence is theirs.

They act as if I knocked


on their door,

as if they alone can offer


shelter and hot cocoa

until a black and white


squad car arrives

to take our statements.


They don’t seem to know

that their pamphlets are hideous


and don’t seem to share

my concerns about dying


or learning this world

well enough to craft


ink and paper into little

squares so intricate,


full of such lively dreams,

that anyone would be happy


to spend eternity lost

within those boxes.



The Bedside Book of Avant-Jazz


1.


City street on a handkerchief.


               Maybe an eerie green button.

               That false promise of legs

                         and pineapple.


               Otherworldly perfume.


               Candle wax

                         softened and secrets

               revealed.


               Ceiling fans

                          that slowly twist the flame.


Sun Ra at the electric piano

               wearing our solar system

               as a crown,


               excavating

               music’s future artifacts.


               The notes go backwards and forward.


2.


Handkerchief in the street.


               After-hour wanderers.


Day becoming more remote

              with each


              note:

              low-riders and scraping.


3.


Lois Lane drags

her All-American alien boy

onto the dance floor

as the Glenn Miller Orchestra

plays “Moonlight Serenade,”


but what of the melodies

         kryptonite plays?


What music spins

         in Lex Luther’s head?


                   Genius deferred

         detained

denuded


excluded chunks of green and blue

         sewage and space

        -aged outrage


uncontainable.


4.


Freedom now.

No future.


Blood.

On an alligator shoe.


Blue Monday.

Blue millennia.


Is just as bad.

Just as badass.


And beautiful.

Though scarred.



John Challis

The Third men


I follow dead men to the picture house.

The once-plush velvet chairs now occupied

by private eyes, shamed by malpractice,

by South Pacific veterans, deserters still in

shore leave whites, and life insurance investigators

forced out by legislation. They’re here to watch

their films noir. They light electric cigarettes.


But this afternoon their attitudes,

their dubious morality that no amount

of drink restrained, their incorrigible silence

troubles the modern audience who have

come here to escape with their sodas

and their popcorn from the ethical impasse

of their intellectually unrequited lives.


And although there’s half a century

and the Atlantic separating us, I can’t help

but identify with these outcast pessimists,

doomed in every future, unacknowledged

poets who have forced open the manhole

to the sewers to investigate the darkness

where their shadows roam without indemnity.



Discourse on Noir


The diner smells of black and white, of gasoline

and smoke: detectives, salesmen, veterans,

woman-haters. Men. Marie reads to read and dreams

of reading the contours of the highway’s page,

indents in tar, potholes in words, where the key

has been struck a little too hard and the letter

has burst through the paper; a bullet through the heart.

But Marie, there’s no hope of leaving here, unless,

that is, you believe in noir, and any minute

a man might walk straight in from a bus ride west

to sweep you with his dead-eye stare, and like all

good men according to the rule of 1940s film,

convince you of your worth, lend muscle to your idea:

slay your husband, the nameless chef, and take you

far away from here. A woman’s work is murder.

And say it plays out like you’ve read it, you

and he holed up in a motel beyond the county line,

the red O of its neon sign on the blink to shed

a little shadow on your otherwise success,

as an engine cuts in the parking lot, its door

shut with just a hint of pessimistic fatalism,

and a figure appears in silhouette, grown backlit

from some desert moon at the room’s blind,

room: triple six. Is this your considered present?

Or rather, is it his? His past, come from east to west,

to collect what he by rights never should have owned

or never even knew he did, his life, your kiss of death.



The Eleven Percent


I know that eighty-nine percent of Wilder’s

Double Indemnity unfolds in a flashback,

that Walter Neff is only given eleven percent

to sort affairs, and think towards the present.

What ratio of my life is spent in recollection?

I’ve cooked the books since childhood


to calculate the times I’ve prised the lid

from the old Roses tin, or started the red-book

conversation: this my life laid out in stanzas,

flashbacks to my other selves through steam

from ovens, kettles, plumes of breath

in gardens, fields, and smoke, pre-ban, in pubs.


Like Neff, I leave my typed confession

to know I’m done with before, with the ghost.

Stay for the lock-in, drink out your liver,

commune with the ages through empties,

I’ll slip out the back-way, unnoticed. From here

on it’s me and only me, and my percentage.






Sade Andria Zabala

FOR ALL THE GIRLS WITH MESSY HEARTS


Let’s be honest here –

I am not the girl men fall in love with.
I am the girl that men want to fuck.
I am a conquest. A prize. A show.

I could count on five hundred fingers
the number of people that have professed,
“I like you. You’re different. You’re an interesting girl.”
Apparently I’m not fascinating enough for you
to want to hold for more than a one-night stand.

Once
as I finished swimming a sea of blankets
and got left stranded on the shore,
I asked myself:

What’s wrong with me?
What am I doing?
Am I not good enough for anybody?

And right before I could drown again,
the sun woke up and said,

“You are.

You are enough.
Forget the men whose hands have groped your hips
in search for answers to questions
you’ve never even heard of.
Do not settle for people who do not appreciate you,
who do not know how lucky they are.
Remember it is a privilege to be loved by you,
or even just
to be touched by you, and
the warmth of another body does not define your worth.

These men –
they think that they can own you
with their drunken stares and roughened arms, but
I have circled the earth
a thousand times
to feed the light flowing inside your skin.
Do not waste it by illuminating those who
can not even be bothered
to learn your last name.”


So that night when
the moon tried once more to pin me down,
I told him:

I am made of sunlight, crashing waves, and fireworks.
You think you can tame me
and cool my flesh?
I am the girl who plays with matches,
and trust me I play it well.
Lord knows I’ve walked through villages leaving
a pile of destruction in my wake.

My heart is a bushfire
and the next time you try to control me,
darling, make no mistake –

I will burst out and ravage you in flames.

I’ll
burn
you
to
the
ground.

(This isn’t a test.) 



9 WONDERS OF THE WORLD


I. Twenty-three years ago a cosmic collision
gave birth to a child of the stars and
somehow after siren songs we discovered
the wonder of your body next to mine.


II. We undress 
as your lips play snakes and ladders
down my chest, and this is a miracle.
I breathe summer into you,
and this is a miracle.
You stay despite the fog,
and this is a miracle.
You leave and I wait, and I wait,
and THAT is a fucking miracle.


III. You come home to me for fifty-five days.
Every time you open the door
my heart goes

Doo da-do,
Do do-do da-do,
Do do-do da-do-do!


IV. When I had you I had the sunlight on my fingertips.

We drew portraits in the sky
and spat in the face of anyone
who told us we couldn’t be gods.


V. You pull the moon and I feel it sink
its teeth until my body cracks.

I am a firecracker banging against the cage of your ribs.
You fill me with such light they see
the sunset bleeding out of me.


VI. I put daydreams in your eyes and 
in turn you show me seawater and nebulae.

Your skin, it tastes like the edge of a galaxy.
The earth, it spins for you, my love.


VII. My mind is springtime for all seasons;
your room, a bed of roses blue.
We time-travel and three months seem like a year.
We were on the precipice of something great.


VIII. You cascade down my back like waterfalls.
You look at me and I am all 
shivers, and want, and yes, yes, yes.


IX. You leave. There is no darkness.


There is music and I am dancing
to the ring of your laughter in 
another lifetime. Can you hear it yet?


I am okay.


'tell me every terrible thing you ever did and let me love you anyway'




Iona Lee

Become The Rain


When I’m sad I’m going to die,

or I’m worried about bombs

and things bigger than myself,

when the strobe lights and the late nights

get too loud

and I have lost myself

I get in the shower.


I’m too tall

for every bath I’ve stretched out in.

Too much made of elbows

and pink, bare skin that I don’t like

to look at.

But I can let the steam soak my mind free

from all that grit and glitter,

all the flirting and flittering,

all the fast pace, heavy bass

“I’m so off my face” neon nights,

and all that city smoke.


I can let the sticky whiskey kisses

and all those pointless conversations

in kitchens

wash off.


Burn off bad decisions

with the strong-smelling perfumes

and potions.


The best water

can be found in secret pools.

Not like that big, brash ocean

that waltzes with the world,

spitting tantrums

and swallowing sailors.


I’m too small

for every sea I’ve stretched out in.

Too much made of bones that break

and breathing.


But I can let the tide lead

and carry me, like I’m blossom

on a breeze.


I am lighter

in the rhythm of the waves

and its consoling to know

that my crying, may,

one day,

become the rain

that I use to start again.


No, the best water

can be found in those secret pools

in Scotland.

Framed by untrodden tanglewood,

warm light and witchcraft.

Those pools where insects fly

just above the surface,

carrying the sun on their backs.


Here, the water hurries

over warm stones, or sits

quiet and content.

Its cold when you jump in,

knocks all the train journeys

and television from you.


Here, it is all green and golden

and I am the perfect size.



It Was Summer Outside


But,

we were in bed.

Fully dressed.

You still had your shoes on,

all lazy and stoned and laughing.

We were listening to an audio tape

and laughing.


That day was fresh,

like sheets,

and new and we were too

and we were so excited.


We were women

and women were

cocaine, jazz,

perspective.


We were the new craze.


And there was so much

still to find out,

out of my mind on love

for that room

and that moment

and that you.


You were sat up,

talking about feminism.

Slurring on your slow words.


I always liked your face,

so bright

and full of mischief.


Small and blonde

and your eyes so blue

and you

were electric.


The audio tape was talking

about pubic hair,

“do you shave down there?”

that sort of thing, but,

we had decided

that we didn’t fucking care.


It was a revelation,

to talk about sex

and women’s rights

and broken boys

and … wanking


Imagine!


It was summer outside,

and we were going to change the world.

It was summer outside

and we were cocaine,

and you were electric,

and I was a feminist

and your eyes were blue

and hey, look, mine are too

and you

were laughing.


We were going to move in together

and live like this always.

Bohemian,

all cheese-cloth and opinions.

Sexy to be strident

you said.


Manu Chao on the radio

I’d be dancing in a dressing gown.

A waterfall of tangled hair

down my back

I’d be beautiful.


You’d be smoking on the sofa.


It wasn’t Paris,

but we’d pretend it was.

We’d drink whiskey

with revolutionaries,

make friends with the old men in pubs

who had stories to tell.

We’d find new ways to get in trouble,

play records,

play dress up,

fuck up,

fuck pretty people

and go on walks on Sundays,

when I wasn’t working in the bookshop

or working on this writing thing.


‘Cos we were young women,

and that was so exciting.


Please Excuse Me


Please excuse me

for I am not myself, you see.


You should see the real me.

She is cool-legged and cruel

and drinks too much coffee

outside bars in market squares, where

sunshine rests in empty mugs

and music plays.


Oh, you should see the real me.


See her when she’s sitting there,

she does not curl fern fingers

round elbows, or wrap up in herself.

Rather she unfolds, as ivy does.


Fingertips tapping the table

searching for cigarettes,

she lets careless words trip down her tongue

to be caught and, like butterflies,

pinned to paper.


The real me is a muse,

a moon,

both painter and painted,

wild-haired, wide-eyed

and tainted.

She smiles and smokes and sings

celestially.


She leaves an impression, a bruise

like ink. Like footsteps in the snow

I think,

both cold and delicate.

Yet,

Not melting, more

moving on.


So no, not white as snow.

Not innocent, more

blood-red lips and opal eyes.

More precious,

and more endless.


The better me is thinner,

and will grab your waist and whisper,

and then suddenly,

a stranger.

Moved on by the fish-hook moon

that guides her tide.

I magpie, a stealer of shine

but she’s not one for sorrow,

just a borrower of light.


So, please excuse me,

for I am not myself, you see?


You should see the real me,

she is lighter and more rhythmic.

But,

I am pinned in place

by meat, and pain

and good intentions.


There are lies laced in to the lines around my eyes

and they are less like kaleidoscopes.


So, she is the better me.

Not so much human-shaped, more siren.

Not so much flesh, more air.

Not so much care, more

moving on through memory

as a wicked woman,

with brilliant mind and filthy mouth

that you think of fondly

from time to time.


So, please excuse me,

for I am not myself, you see?


Not quite the self I’d like to be.




Colin Dodds

Wrestling the Everywhere Angel


You, who I don’t command,

can’t outsmart, won’t outlast

Stern parent, disobedient child,

enemy and enemy of my enemy


Dream so strong I must

work myself into a real frenzy

just to call it strange


Space and time are intertwined

and isn’t always very kind


The consolidated father of obstacles,

for reasons inadequately or too-exhaustively explained,

disapproves, and so has removed much of the control

to which I feel entitled from my hands


And so each day promises

a death as uncertain as life itself


You, who I meet at the boundary of fortune and my will,

where unreliable ones warn of a perverse, subtle communication,

where the rules fade to rumors,


Where new rooms and strange abilities abound,

never a surprise so much as something mildly forgotten

and instantaneously recalled,

like reality, like the Kingdom of Heaven


Enough to Live


I went into the tunnel of drunk

exploring a wound

because the wound

was the only thing that gleamed.


I think I hear things no one says,

they are really saying phone numbers

and yeah and really.


In the air, I hear: “I didn’t want to drink,

but to descend on an amber rope of whiskey

into the cavern of my own heart and shout

until I was torn apart by the echo.”


But it was probably just a sprained complaint

that things are not like they used to be

or that people are not as they seem.

Phone numbers, really—questioning and emphatic.

Floor to ceiling—ghosts floating through ghosts.


I needed an answer so badly

that it was there more than anything.

Where equilibrium is impossible.

Right there.


Gleaming like a wound.

Just past the ditch and rampart of oblivion.

I ran to it, singing the revelation of it:


I may hate life

just enough

to live.



A Fractured Rapture


Maybe when a part of me dies,

it goes to heaven.


Tonight, that part, which fought every inch,

fought every moment, fought every fantasy

and fought every fact,


is at rest so blissfully.

The rest of me has only a bar before

and a breeze behind.


Every new sensation

only makes me happier.


Telling the bartender thank you,

that’s all these songs are.






Siegfried Baber

Rhapsody

The mime in the courtyard in a silver suit
and streaky mask of mercury
attracts birds with an outstretched arm.
Pigeons, mostly, and doves.
Crows swagger between doorways
like a flick-knife gang
and in the gloom above the Guildhall
the seagulls go swimming in wide circles,
imitating the leaves in the drains.
This morning's city is a dirty dishcloth,
cars, scaffolding, bookshop, butchers,
and in a café on Bristol Road
a folded napkin is all we need to correct 
the shaky table. From here
we follow the rush – the supermarket 
near Windsor Bridge, all the comprehensives
in the district swelling up 
with time-bomb teenagers, and pensioners 
by the parish-load, day-trippers 
dressed in shades of Sahara, 
making the most of what's owed them:
a bus pass from the government 
and tea and cake every Monday 
at St Michael's Without on Green Street.
And what's left forms a river 
slipping away beyond the roads, homes, 
the apartments and office blocks.
It passes under the motorway in silence,
smoke and rain, becomes 
something entirely new, and entirely the same.


London Road West

There's a crocodile behind glass,
snappers open nice and wide.
Next to that, something's skull.
Across the street a billboard advertises
counselling for weight-loss
or people looking to kick the habit.
You point to a rocking-chair 
in the back corner of the shop, 
and then a large vintage sign of a 
white hand, pointing. Yesterday someone 
painted the postboxes pink as 
a protest against spectacular diseases. 
Behind our reflection two men 
dump a sofa on the pavement 
outside the funeral directors. Lights jump 
from green to red. Above us,
Pluto's dirty head is the portrait 
of a man pulled from a burning building,
or the prospector from Klondike 
who held his dynamite a second 
too long. Boxes of yellow 
comics and match-day programmes 
are going for a song. You run 
your thumb along the tea-stained 
crinkles of a King James Bible
as if examining the neck on a lizard.
The cover is blue, leather, creased.
Each page is thin, delicate 
as onion skin, and filled with 
verses of see-through scripture. 
Today we leave empty-handed, push 
our bikes through the park in the rain –
the pedals and cranks, the gears,
the greasy rosary of the chain. 



Grevel Lindop

DUDDON


Am I alive, you ask me and yourself

gazing into the water the face the underbelly.

Am I aware: plaque of white froth

revolving under the bridge, flat and articulate

lace, plate of rowan blossom, every

petal of its huge flowerhead pearled foam.


Air swallows water in vast invisible

drafts where mist boils up from rocks,

a cross-section of rainbow haunts the air

where I seethe, veined and glassy, leaf-dark, viscous

boiling like jelly, green-white a molten

jade fractious to its depth with bubbles.


After rain roads turn

to rivers, paths are becks,

all of them feeding a fury.

Light clears to the raucous chime of a pheasant.

The wren finds its slit in the wall.

At twilight owls toss hoots like weightless

streams of blue glass bubbles

from one limb


of the forest to another. Timeless I hurl myself

into the stone, the one

who gathered me whom I carved

slid over pierced broke myself against, a gendering

ancient and shattered beyond what flesh conceives.



BERT JANSCH


Funny how death arrives. So quiet sometimes

like an echo that’s taken years to reach us,

or light from a star already burned away.

Finding you died four years ago, Bert Jansch, I feel it

mostly here in my hands. For it was they –


fingers, wrists, thumbs – pressing, picking,

stretching the string that little bit to get the bend of the note –

that knew you best, when I sat on St Ives

harbour, age seventeen, playing ‘Needle of Death’

or tried at home to sort out the blizzard of notes


in ‘The Waggoner’. I haven’t touched a guitar

for thirty years. But still find one in my hands

occasionally in dreams, and myself still

moulding the music, as if out of cloud or play-dough.

That’s from you, Bert. The hand I write with now


would be differently-muscled, just slightly,

had your music not been there. My left fingertips

softer, less spatulate. Now you’re gone,

and knowing it, I become different too.

I’m an onion (we all are); and one of my layers is you.



ARIL


Dare you

taste it?

Exquisite

the scarlet:

candied, waxy

as lipstick,

as cherry.


Carefully, carefully

peel back the pink skin –

gluey, glutinous,

smearing pink jelly.

Try

to pry

stone from cup.


The needled tree shivers.

The red cup is sweet,

you have been told.

It sticks to your thumb.

Taste the fruit, taste it –

a reluctant faint sweetness.

Taste it, taste it.

You have been told.


Note: The fruit of the yew is not a berry but an aril. Only the hard seed at its centre is poisonous.



CIGAR


It would have, unrolled, a small book’s

surface area. My first was a gift

from the man at the next table

of the pavement café at the Hotel Inglaterra.

He worked, he said,


at the Partagás factory, where they read

the newspaper aloud all morning,

and in the afternoon novels and poetry

while, adept as conjurers’,

the workers’ hands rip, stuff and wrap. More words

went into it than I shall ever draw out.


The tobacco-god is a bird with scarlet plumage

and mother-of-pearl eyes. His four

attendants are the green

spirit of the fresh leaf, the brown of the dried,

the red spirit of fire and the blue of smoke.


The red visits only for flaring instants;

is fickle, demands nurture. The green

is memory and imagination. The blue

is a girl dressed in feathers: lapis, lavender, sky.

When she kisses


her tongue is sharp as seabrine, chocolate, chilli.

She says the word tabaco is Carib,

from a language whose last speaker

has been dead four hundred years. But the brown


lives in my hand this moment, brittle

and crisp as a chrysalis. Filtered

through his crushed spirals,

molecular poems thread themselves

into my genes, become part of the air I breathe,

the words I speak. Both of us end in ash.



PERSEPHONE


Apple-red, streaked and speckled apple-gold:

poma granata , ‘the grained apple’, fruit

that’s mined and faceted with grains of ruby.


Garnet, your favourite stone: Latin granatum,

from the pomegranate, whose seed it much resembles.

So the names coil round upon themselves.


Like a small bomb: grenade, Spanish granada,

a pomegranate. The fuse, the flower, has gone:

at the serrated neck a brown dry powder.


All Hallows’ Eve tonight. I watch you slice

through the red ventricles, crushing out pink juice

to eat with chicken in the early dark.


Your knife blade bleared the colour of a winter

sunset, you discard the leathery membranes.

Feed me a few seeds from dripping fingers.





Rebecca Perry
Flowers, Love etc

Many times I’ve become lost
and snapped out of it next to a rose bush
and bins in someone’s front garden 
or by a four-way crossing, car horns
and my mouth is full of boring questions.
Many times I’ve become lost
and found myself helpless as a snow globe
on a mantelpiece in unforgiving sun.

When I kiss someone new my mouth 
hosts the ghost mouths of old loves.
A TV static mouth, a cigarette mouth, 
a mouth full of piano air and its own ghosts.
And when I touch someone new my hands
are full of grass from all the countries
I’ve visited alone.

If you look hard enough at any flower
it can resemble some part of the human body.
All living things are busy imitating each other
and while my tongue attempts shadows 
of a poppy petal and my belly button is a rosebud
I’ve become lost again on my lookout for a
lost soul who also doesn’t believe in souls.


A Most Satisfactory Dreamlife

But what love could be prior to it?   
What is prior? 
What is love? 
My questions were not original.   
Nor did I answer them. 
- The Glass Essay, Anne Carson

Night drips its silver tap.
At 4am I wake, silent and brilliantly lit.
The bare blue trees.

My face in the bathroom mirror 
is all the ways I hope I am not myself
and discover I am, over and over again.

World as a kind of half-finished sentence. 
World as a black night in January.   

A thousand questions hit my eyes from the inside.   

The man who left first,
his name was Adam.
I hardly remember myself then, or my body.
Our mortal boundaries 
grew visible around us like lines on a map.   
Such necessity grinds itself out. 

Love as eyes, stars, inside, outside, actual weather. 
Love as the bars of time, which broke.   

I stood on the edge of the conversation, 
snow covered us both.   
I felt as if the sky was torn off my life.   
It made me merciless. 

World as I am surrounded by the idiocy of men.
World as why all this beating of wings?   
World as this melon is grainy. Not a good melon. 

In the silent kitchen
I tap a pomegranate free from its skin 
with a spoon.
Jewel, spaceship, abundance.

Desolation as watching the year repeat its days.   
Desolation as scooping up blue and green lozenges 
of April heat a year ago in another country.

A great icicle has formed 
on the railing of my balcony.
It seems to me like a perfect metaphor for heartbreak.
I am cold and without clothes in the orange light
of the railway line creeping behind my house. 
I am not a melodramatic person.

It would be sweet 
to have a friend to tell things to at night.  
Stored up secrets have etched themselves
inside the ice. 

Last week a woman was crying beside me on the bus;
I willed my body to generate heat for her.
This felt like a common reaction. 
I tried to wear my own absence of heartbreak lightly.

World as girls are cruelest to themselves.   
World as my knees are cold inside my clothes.   
World as a blue hole at the top of the sky. 

I have a photograph taped to my fridge 
of my grandmother.
In the hospital, distinctions tended 
to flatten and coalesce.   
Biscuits, curtains, closed windows, buzzing light.

Sickness as dreamtails and angry liquids.
Sickness as I am interested in anger.
 
I boil a kettle and carry it to the bath.
The tap gushes out.
I am avoiding my own eyes in the mirror.
It has always seemed unwise to contemplate your face
in the short time following waking.

Promise as the stunning moment one’s lover comes in 
and says I do not love you anymore.   
Promise as my heartbeat travelling through the bathwater.

I like to believe that something of the heart of a woman   
who lies on her back in the ground
is trembling through the water.

Love as the smell of limes and roses blowing in the window.   
The water escapes into the air –
this low, slow collusion. 

A Most Satisfactory Dreamlife is indebted to Anne Carson’s The Glass Essay from
which many of its lines, words and phrases have been taken.

Windows
(for Alex)

She is opening tab after tab on her laptop screen 
so the one with his name in it gets smaller and smaller,
squeezed down by little pieces of the internet
until he is just three letters in the corner, 
a peep of light, the last Tetris block before death.

He said that if her arms had grown really long 
for whatever reason he’d have carried them down the street 
like a train. He said she reminded him
of a statue in Rome that had him in raptures.
He had a photo of it framed.

What’s the use of trying to be pretty and dreaming 
of ridiculous dresses when love is just an apple 
being eaten from the inside?
And now she’s tearing up a post-it note and making it rain 
bright pink into the bin. Is this what heartbreak feels like –
like rain falling through your head?

All she wants is to see the collection of walking sticks 
From Tutankhamun’s tomb. To be in Egypt on the deck of a boat 
in a cold pool, completely alone, and fine with it.

In the bath, she rolls over and over.
She stands behind the glass balcony door surveying 
the windows of the highrise opposite, the lives behind them. 
The lights extinguish one by one, to a gallery of frames 
with the paintings stolen, and a walled-in quiet.


(these poems are re-published with permission from the author-  selected from Rebecca's first full collection Beauty/Beauty Bloodaxe, 2015).







Abby Mckenzie

Give Yourself A Slap


Larkin said it was mum and dad

Beauvoir said it was men

Miller blamed unrealistic aspirations

Hemingway whined about war

Salinger said it was society

Everybody blames someone else

Just accept it’s you.




You are the Arsehole


Poetry is full of hate and sadness

You shouldn't read it.

It’s written by narcissists

With too much shit to say.









Bob Beagrie

Predation


Between mouthfuls of beetroot and carrot salad

she tells me how she takes each day as it comes,

and how this time last year she was at The Tate,

standing beside the suspended shark preserved

in a tank of formaldehyde, the piece that’s titled:


The Physical Impossibility of Death

In The Mind of Someone Living


by Damien Hirst (who she’s not overly keen on

to begin with), when she got the call on her phone

from the hospital; and how she thought, at first

it was about her Aunt, who she knew was poorly,

but was swallowed up in one leviathan gulp

when they told her it was her son laid upon

the table and they couldn't wait to operate.




Such Is Life, Then it’s Not


After the morning’s rain

no one expected miracles


nor imminent Armageddon,

most were pegging hopes

on a sunny Bank Holiday


so it caused more than a casual

double-take when Sam

spontaneously combusted


in the corner of Centre Square

beside the library


leaving

a patch of scorched pavement

and a singed tatter of coat

coiled in the gutter


and a sulphur smell that clawed

at the back of the throat


as shock rippled out

from the spot in waves

from where she’d stood

just a moment ago –


crying

had she been arguing on her phone

her hand shaking with rage

lips drawn into a snarl

at the unfairness of it all


had she been laughing at a joke

she heard or she had just recalled

from last night’s staff party

to celebrate The Queen’s Award?


What happened

before the flash?


Meifen Jeung posed for a photo

by the fountain, smiling at Ling

who squatted to catch a low angle


neither noticed anything

suspicious


Mildred in the bus stop

expecting number 17

said she heard a sound

like a zipper, a lift door closing

saw a flash reflected in Perspex

felt the palm of a wind pat her back


The mayor, plant potting

a small housing estate

on the green belt

spotted nothing untoward

from his window of the Town Hall


No one filmed it -

The cctv cut out -


though rumour

said it was the return

of the fugitive gods

to mark a turning

among men

toward

the end of time


“this destitute time!”

“this destitute time!”


Others spoke of a suicide bomb

But here? But Sam?

This wasn't Syria or Afghanistan


But our enemies are everywhere:

Enemies within!

“We could hijack this tragedy

for our very own agenda?”


They circled, at a distance,

the black spot of absence

made mindful of their presence


by a quick police cordon -

yellow tape marking

the edge of this new abyss


drawing mortals to it

like moths to the glow

of a window at midnight


public gawpers and reporters

congregated, nibbling

on sweet speculation


INSENSITIVE HEADLINES


that swallowed

the sunny bank holiday


swallowed the sound

night’s sleep


Sam, in her absence

became a sign

that things just

weren't quite right


She wasn't the first


She won’t be the last


But imagine

freed from attachment

to the photographic self

spreading Valkyrie wings

to drift into the light.




Anna Crowe

From the Musical Instrument Museum, Berlin

(especially a violin made by Jakob Stainer in 1654)


A build-up of heat all week, and now

darkness accumulates above the Tiergarten.


A sprinkler flings, whirls, and flings its plume

over the dry lawns while, in my headphones,

Sol Babitz plays, on this very violin

in the display-case, the presto

from Bach's sonata in G minor.

Sol, Jakob, and Johann Sebastian

are playing an orchard:


bird's eye maple, pear, and walnut

rise and ramify in twigs of light;

arpeggios glitter with prefigured rain

and in the garden, thunder prowls

through patterns of lindenbloom and leaves;

between the rainbow chords, those triple

or quadruple stops, I hear the grass grow

while wind bows the branches, and birds

dive for cover like black notes on the stave.

A man comes running out to tug the hose

inside. Sprinkler and violin die

as rain spots the stones then drums

fortissimo on the glass roof.




Butterflies
            … – no, more blue than that:

like tatters of the Morpho butterfly.

                           Elizabeth Bishop: 'Under the Window. Ouro Prêto'



My grandfather, a hard-up rating, brought


this daubed and lurid souvenir of Rio


home from the war: done with childish brio,


a Sugar Loaf on dark horizon caught


in crusted paint on glass. It seems the war


has got into the sunset, for red bleeds


all over the bay, so each wave wears


a stained feather, while palm trees lean and feed


on tainted dreams of Eldorado. Stare


at sky and ocean: where have you seen a blue


like this? Think azure silk; think angels' wings:


great Morphos that once fanned the tropic air


lie pressed in petalled rows; sad residue


of beauty among dregs of family things.





Brent Terry

black is the new black

(from Monochrome Attic)


This loss of light—of appetite: long

gone the taste for blood, for blood

orange, for juices roaring red diatribes

down chin. With blacktooth eyes

I gnaw the din of bone-dead jitters,

locked in this box by a jailor who shares

my name. The trees have garnered

a gallows glow, here in woods

where once we hung our new skeletons

out to dry. You are still the throb,

racing the crimson capillaries of Earth’s

insatiable curve, while in my blackout

glasses, I am the sound of footsteps

receding: tiny echo

that beats in Zero’s hollow heart.



After the Burning Bush, the First Firefly of Summer


I'm in no hurry, what with lightning-bug text messages,

wobbly bricks in the Willimantic sidewalk, spilling moon

or glass or fragrant You-Know-Who at a party.

God be in my head, the fence ablaze; your name

doesn’t matter.  The years I begged to dig holes

as a way of working through you.  I am proud

to share my candy corn with other kids like me. 

One should have the appropriate head: orange lilies,

my co-star cast against type this time, and dangerous:

the cold, cold syllables like ripples on black water. 

And then I sprang from the yellow taxi, the driver

with the checkered past fuming with a light

corrosive breath, a half-molten microwave beef

and bean burrito in the coagulated Connecticut heat. 

There is also a dark district where one may

do whatever she tells me, and don’t ask questions. 

Behind the barn, behind the gingerbread yurt, sex,

and the city schematically conveyed. Tender ones! 

You jam love on pawnshop Stratocasters. 

I’ll mock you until I’ve had enough, like a drunk

sergeant singing in bed.   Not sin, but satisfaction

at first light.  I would want a copy of that photograph! 

Is this happening?  Or is it a mirage of parachutes

and pretty sex, precise as brushstrokes after a six-pack. 

A pomegranate. A red, red pickup truck.  People say

I’m killing myself falling into my own aortal puddle,

but they can’t see You-Know-Who and me, the volcanic

sunset, the red night clouds.  One of us dreams of water,

one of us wears pajamas made of fire.




Astrid Alben

Fragmentary Egyptian Papyrus

P.Berolinensis 21196


…she is/(you are?) there '(then/thereupon)... Say:… ‘Tomorrow’.

She will say: ‘Where?’… Say: … (Poet will say) ‘Where is …?


(Say): ‘Tomorrow… immobile like (…/the) astronaut about to break

through the atmosphere’… (Say): ‘… ‘heavenly…’ (She will say):


‘this (has?) four tassels… a red border,’ He will say, ‘… has it been

wrapped... ’ (He will say): ‘(‘How?)… did you receive/inherit?'


Say: 'In a panic. She will say (you are): '…breaking up

in the mesosphere, fine like linen on the washing line.’



Five Obstructions


I don’t know where to begin. Poet visited all the places

I visited. Listed all the books I read by 2.42 am.


Sleep won’t come. The hours are mountains.

Mountain hours don’t grieve. Hindemith taught me that.


All my life I didn’t know what to do. Now I don’t know

what to do runs across the page as we run together


pink orange violet the Alps sea urchins x-rays crampons

touch don’t touch the world stops and starts with fireflies.



Customs


I am told to raise both arms. I raise both arms.

Not a single cell the same as seven years ago.


If every single cell renews itself why would it still be

stand still please— still be me?


Certainties, white lies, a bottle of shampoo.

I stand naked like a Neolithic jar.


Anxious jealousies, boarding pass:

the examined life is short-lived tyranny.



Is it a seed or is it a tiny spider?

Poet discovers a seed dangling from a hair caught

between the top of page 48/49 in James Schuyler’s


Collected Poems. Either that or it is a shrivelled spider

“naked beside a black polluted stream.”


Poet was reading ‘A Grave’ which starts

“While we who wished to help stood helplessly by.”


Today I have faith in the invisible

in the fragility of time and in multiple division.




Helen Calcutt

Black Country

 

Her shoulders lifted men from their sleep,

boys from their borderlands.


Neither human nor loving creatures

their hands bled an oblique path


for her to burn through,

to bury her skies – part her thighs


and let the soot-rained wet

slip like oil rings over feverish grass.


It was their constant confession.

What they loved was cancer, what they dragged


they hated and loved as their mothers,

the doctrine of the stoop


labouring under her big wheel

their torches were moon heads


their glow-tongues

her worm heads. At dawn

the sky divided


her return brought the sky-chain ringing

people singing in droves

dragging her blowtorch godhead.


Were she to have stood /

on her hind legs

the sky would have dipped forward.


Were the sky to have dipped

she would have clambered between stars

to cradle the cycle of their star-work.


But being Black, and of the Country


she ploughed low. Lifted the belly of her coal

to her back, and with the weight

of it

sank.


When men came away

            they dropped to their knees and prayed.



July 14th

for Conception


The moon is a high engine

the slow migrant dust, black night

drags its slow migrant workers.


Two strikes of the match

ignite the screaming sky,

loose trees flare, hang between this world

and my bed –


our mouths are steering upwards.

We are only partially aware

of how deeply


this place rocks

how dry the dust, black night


how luminous our river.


Our hands move their smiles

over each other’s landscapes –


Where is our guide?

The moon turns our eyes in her glass


she is envious of our wheel,

its almost silent turn,


our blind sale gasping and rolling

through ligatures of dark.


We know who we are – the moon

hangs a shell, our lamp


and is afraid. She knows our faces

are only the beginning.




You Who

Thomas Piekarski


You know how things get when hope springs external

to the expired parking meter moaning like a trombone

once the mongrel packs have curled in alleyways

and dozed off. You know what it is to be

cut in half by a fruit fly while standing

in a vacant bocce ball court, that sly fly

using you as an experiment. Your unique

perspective on the Gettysburg Address liberating

because you once emigrated to Treasure Island

and peered over Gauguin’s shoulder while

he painted Tahitian women in shades of tanzanite

and Sunday morning. You drive precisely

as directed, down a one way boulevard,

abiding traffic signals. You find the math

compelling, checkbook meticulously balanced.

Whistling sweetly, you enlist Morpheus

by working overtime in the museum of dreams.

In your rational mind you automatically luminesce

wherever a meteor makes an impact.

You manage to squeeze the most from pollens,

frog ponds, Alpine peaks and fabulous canyons.

You maintain solid state construction despite

rank commercialism and bouts of hives.

Your inner driver the intuitive wisdom behind

the wheel of vision that steers as well as

plants you, while it roves and shimmies along

an amorphous, endless and roundabout track.



The Emperor of Monterey


If I were an emperor why would I rule? Over what domain

and for whose purpose? Would my ego confirm who I am?

Or would I merely be storm surge in eternity’s wake?  And

which of the erstwhile anointed rulers would I emulate?

 

Emperor Norton? who proclaimed supremacy over all of

San Francisco. This despite the fact he was a fruitcake,

swaggering down the streets with his admiral’s hat,

rapier fixed to his side and babbling incoherently

at flummoxed pedestrians. Maybe Kennedy? who sacked

the modern Camelot when he admitted to Jackie that

he had made it with Marilyn. Perhaps Jesus? king of Jews,

nailed to a cross and crying out, inquiring why his God

had forsaken him. Saddam Hussein? hanged, his women,

blood oil and grand palaces swirling down the drain of

history. Napoleon? conqueror of a continent, his gut

bloated, alone on a sweaty island, in agony, dying from

rat poisoning. Beethoven? deaf,  in conflict with himself,

conducting the Ninth Symphony, completely delirious.

Or Louis? who bankrupted a country to build the most

opulent Versailles, fulfilling big fantasies, but in the end

losing consciousness by way of an unforgiving guillotine.

 

Descartes appropriately declared “I think therefore I am.”

My corollary is that anything I think is assuredly real.

If I dreamt I was Napoleon’s aide-de-camp when he brushed

the pope aside and crowned himself, this is just as factual

as the rising sun that decimated the Japanese at Hiroshima.

Considering such undeniable realities, one must be sensible,

consider what it is to be be a true emperor, claim territory,

and develop some parameters, parameters to be met

without the larceny that follows popular assent like fog.

 

The first parameter set must be within context of the fact

that time and space and place don’t coexist. Never have and

never will. And it’s folly to think that credentials, much less

accomplishment have any significance in the celestial rubric.

For anything gained is immediately lost except in the rear view

mirror of an unfortunate, misinformed audience. Harbor seals

that vie for supremacy atop a rubber buoy, seals that dip

and leap around the buoy, darting at the one seated atop it,

trying to knock it off while faint, colored warning lights 

blink at the harbor’s brink, will only trade places in accordance

to what consequences their fates demand. So any supremacy

mustn’t be taken as something akin to permanent domination.

 

If I were to simply declare myself emperor of Monterey, who

would have the authority to disprove it? What mad clashing

of sabers, blare of harrowing sirens, boos, tossing of eggs

or jeers could demote me with a crown of sharpest thorns?

 

And who would be necessary to enlist in defense of my claim?

Keats need to be summoned, nightingale on his shoulder,

to ferry me like Charon across some imagined river Styx?

Would father Hopkins high up there in heaven volunteer

to visit my soul with the windhover in tow? Would Frost,

less obnoxious than usual, grant me passage over the road

less traveled? Would Eliot dress me up as Prufrock, blindfold

me, twirl me around then send me ambling without assistance

of a seeing eye dog down a crowded Alvarado Street?

Would Ovid alive as a fertile ovary act as a guide through

an uncharted galaxy in search of Homer’s nebulous grave?

Would Steinbeck and Jeffers, raised like Lazarus from

the dead, declare me their heir before the screeching mob?

 

Dylan said the answer is blowing in the wind. I buy that.

But if so, whose wind, and toward what unknown portal?

 

The lasting impression that is stamped in the sand on

the beach where a bonfire glows and teenagers roast delicious

marshmallows, that shall be the latent legacy of the foremost

unsubstantiated emperor of Monterey, as he defines himself

with every word uttered, every step taken, each thought

released as long as there is identifiable ground to be gained.










Tishani Doshi

Undertow


I.


I hold my husband in plastic bags.

He’s whispering like a soft, worn thing,

Drop me here, drop me gently.


Everything is terribly light — incense,

ash, the thinness of his voice falling

into waves, disappearing.


II.


The sea picks up my life,

empties it across itself.

I see it spilling over, dissolving.

Here are the forgotten parts —

A pink night sky, broken bangles,

a fisherman walking away from the light.


There you are, held up with wind and sails.

If you would turn, you would hear me say,

Come back, my arms ache from all the carrying.

Underneath, you’re lost in a place

where everything is scraped together

and nothing is thrown back.


You sink. Colours dissolve.

You move hair from your forehead,

salt from your eyes. You’re left with greys —

calling out to me, bubbles

instead of words. It is a silent death: 

one I feel before it happens.




III.


Was there a child then? The child I could not have?

With hair that shakes and shines as though a sun

were gleaming under her roots. I want to stroke her.


Lean over and touch her. Come here, let me hold you.

I want only daughters — a thick rope of black 

around her neck. She calls; the beginning of your name.


If I were really a mother, I would do it quick

and painless, out of love. Take the hair —

twist, yank, drop; tilt her over like a bag of sand.


It would be done then. There would be less

to clean up. She will never be like me.

The death of her child will kill her.


IV.


If you must collect pictures, take them

when I’m looking away. Here’s a beach again —

the nets spread on the sand drying,

A fish in the corner slapping its tail.


Nothing matters then,

We’ll meet when we’re warm and dry.

Take this picture — my shoulders, the bone,

the shine, the criss-cross of white straps.



V.


I’m eight-years-old, running into the sea.

Run in, my mother says, Go on then naked girl.

Nobody cares, nobody’s watching.


The sea pulls me in around the ankles,

grabs the sand from underneath, shows me

a glimpse of my life, what it will be like later.


It was all calm once, long ago, a teardrop

between apartment buildings. But here in my life;

Hiss hiss. This one is no good.


This one doesn't love you.

This one doesn't know what you need.

Leave, let go, stop.


The frothy fingers at my throat,

the voice pouring into me,

a terrace of vanishing blue.


You will leave this one.

You will leave this place.

For a while you will know nothing.


Love in Carlisle


Girls were crying yesterday in their ball gowns;

holding each other up like poles of wilted beanstalks.

I wanted to carry them into the streets.

To the unused railroad track in the middle of town,

unwrap the past and lay before them

a fragile girl I once knew, walking towards love

in a thin, determined way. That she should live here too —

in this town of carefully-guarded houses

and old ladies in rocking chairs 

in fake pearls and printed button-down dresses.


Girls are crying in their ball gowns and boys

are holding them up and taking them to the streets,

to warehouses or backs of deserted pick-up trucks.

A troubadour waits on a wooden porch

for the faultless girl, to speak her name,

undress her, give noise to her that is new and violent.

The old ladies form a line and hold photographs

against their faces where the skin used to be unbroken.

They step out from their dresses and kick off their shoes,

cross over the barren tracks in their solitary dance.


The Opening up of the Sun

First there was the sun
then the opening up of the sun
then the sun screaming
then September

My brother is losing his mind
We watch him
We wear name-tags on our chests
He cannot read but we must do something
to make him recognise us

We revive everything he has ever loved

My father comes home and watches Tom and Jerry cartoons
My mother lies in bed singing nursery rhymes
She strokes his forehead and says my poor poor baby
My sister and I build entire Fisher-Price villages

We take him back to the cottage
We get there by train
We ask   Do you want to go?
Do you want?
We watch him sit on the wall   vacant
facing the cottage
sun streaming into his back

The opening up of the sun involves
skimming   splinters   stretching   satiation

For weeks he walks around looking for his comb
Comb has been dead for years now

At the swimming pool he jumps in and out  in and out
In the bath he soaps himself
squeezes the sponge between his toes
between his legs like he’s been taught to do

He was born in August
A Sunday in August

Scream: utter piercing cry

He was a child who never cried
Now they say he’s depressed
He spends days in the room
breaking up villages and sobbing
We build them back again and sob with him

It is September
My brother is going to die
He falls through the gap in our family laughing

He stitches up the seams in the sun
He takes September
like his pink plastic comb
and rests it on his chest
while underneath his damaged heart
Stills and starts  stills and starts



April Salzano

Therapeutic Support Staff


Recon mission: listening outside

a closed door. The new TSS

asks my son questions in monotone.

He answers intermittently. She sighs

outwardly in

frustration. The angel has left,

the therapist she is attempting to replace.

They always go on

to bigger better things, countries

as far as Australia, grad school, jobs

with benefits, their own

children. Elsewhere. My son

never seems to notice an absence,

just a new name to learn, a new face

to touch. New Girl isn't smiling. I can

tell from my sniper’s position in the hall.

Audible anger. Hers. But he is losing

patience with her

lack of. I do not know how

I know this but I do. I tune in,

and what I hear: silence. I am

listening like my life depends on hearing

                            nothing.


Where do you


see yourself in 20 years? (Writing

prompt for first graders). The teacher,

blonde, mid-twenties, blonde,

provided some suggestion for props

for corresponding photo.

For girls: dresses, high heels, baby dolls.

For boys: dress shirts, ties, briefcases.

The teacher’s ignorance incited

a rightful rage in my kitchen where I vowed

to send my son in drag, holding a baby

to his breast. I pinned the note to the fridge

as a reminder. The exaggerated curls

of the font, probably comic sans, perfectly

articulated her gender-encoded message.

Who needs correct grammar (or punctuation)

and equal rights when you have a baby

and high heels to contend with?




Moniza Alvi

Little God, What News?


From Little God, What News?


After the nightmare, little god

(three times I was immersed in it –

slept and woke and slept and woke

and slept again) here you are,


but further off and quivering


like the high leaves on a tall tree.

Could you have threaded into it

that silver, hopeful strand:

‘This isn't really happening’?


The dread of being ill-prepared.

The horror of inspection.

                                              Little god,

like me, in fact, you don’t give up –

beak-like you tear

at the ligaments of the dream.





Little god, your sun sleeps

beneath the eyelid of the day.


Intent on waking it

the twin dogs

of the past and future

rush in from the heathland,

can’t stop leaping up.


No one can restrain them –

their enthusiasm, their ferocity.


Little god, a wordless word

could raise the eyelid of the day.





A frog squirms at the side of the field,

a dusty frog with a red gash on its back.

I daren’t put it out of its misery.


Little god, the surprise of its blood!


I thought there were so many colours -
and now I'm convinced
there are only two.


Red is for life and boldness,

everything else is grey.





A deep-sea swirl held in glass,

curling plants smooth as eels

and masses of tiny bubble specks.


What use are you to me, little god

submerged in the water-weed? A fin

moving through pale cool green.





Little god, in the frostfire of an iris

in the gunshot of a pupil

in an eye behind an eye

a miniature world is spinning.


What news from it?

What makes it turn and turn again

far far away?

An unexpected thing

like memory with its thirst for detail.


(three of these poems were published in Critical Muslim)



David Cooke

BEFORE THE STORM


At no age at all you've started to feel

how a life gets mired in memories,

the way each backward glance

is like a noose that tightens.

 

Across flat versts of muddled terrain

your distant city glimmers –

reduced to a few bright rooms

where you were first indulged

 

and then became accomplished.

Working through grammars

and the language of flowers,

your music opened

 

at some tricksome bagatelle.

Each week the house would echo

to the rites of the samovar,

the clack of heels on a floor...

 

But in this straggling barracks town

which you must now endure,

accepting the slavishness

of the overlooked, the weary,

 

you hear at night the cries of wolves

through birches, can sense

their luminous eyes,

their restless, circling hunger.


ONTOLOGY

On Cleethorpes beach the tide is out,
where gulls dispute their stretch
of puddled sand: a paradigm to taunt me
as they snatch what gain they can,
their broken cries a colloquy

that's tough and unforgiving,

while against each blast that freights them

I hug my collar closer. Optimism –

It's like a string of toytown lights,

painted bulbs that vie
with the elements' big effects.



Allison Grayhurst

Madness like Medicine


I have waited for you

in the hours before the bursting dawn,

smelt your metamorphosis in the

open refrigerator, while you slept,

knowing nothing of your own power,

blistering, erecting through the sheets -

flesh crying out, laying over a door that will not open,

a door that gleams like a set of false teeth, with an

unattainable aura - gleaming Venus with plump

breasts and a lustful smile or Zeus with his absolute

authority, dominating your backside, your frontside, even

the interior plane of your strangling moods. You,

I have poured everything down the sink for, not eating and not

pale, but waiting - at peace with my jealousy and my

impatience. Will you hand me your slumber of

self-defeat and bitterness? I am not a dove.

I have slaughtered millions. I have waited.

Are you spreading, gathering, ready to be stripped? Still

sleeping, my lover, tight in your exile? Still brilliant,

but only in dreams? It is time for a shower - to claim your nakedness.

We have no use for memories. We are lavish and

you are bare and brave and you do not believe it,

but you are ever so strong, at the moment just

before perishing, exposing

your warm, undeniable

seed.


Changing skins


Months behind my eyes

splicing nerves, bonds, virtues

that have kept me solid.

As I look, my desires are dilating,

taking more in, red with abandonment

and wanting to germinate but not here,

not beneath this sheet, but in the breeze,

to grow special, purer than a weed, expand,

not interacting with the elements but part of

them, geometrical, saving space, knowing passion like

a labour - confined to a pattern, somehow

boundless. Joy. I stand a virgin in your honeymoon.

I am made up of sunsets and dreamy afterglows. I am

putting this on, demanding as intoxication, kneeling in this

costume, assuming I am dependable, but

I am not. I should close these shutters, marry a

soft genuine smile. I should care more. So much

that is done is done, fatal, heavy as a hanging. If I could

dig behind my sockets and make a window, I would. I would

walk away, but lust is water, and more than lust

is worth every star.



Bram E Gieben (Texture)



Only as insecure as the eras that I've lived through,

Never achieved, my dreams are out of shape and out of focus,

Found you in those dreams and then tethered you selfishly,

Looking at parallel realities which emerged from

The death dreams of the successful. Less artefact

More anomaly. Inversely-charged mote of temporal flow

Adrift but detached in the time stream.

Disappointment exists in the faces and expressions

Of those who used to be your cheerleaders,

Youth passed by frantically like the weaving paths

Of staggering drunks collapsed in the sub-zero.

Nothing about this place inspires parabolic curves

Of escape velocity, can't even write in a straight line.

Past the point of no return policy, financially backed

For loss optimization not adjustment...


(frankly, the wilted flowers and turned earth

muddle your graveside like handprints in bruised flesh,

the stubs and spills I leave behind are empty gestures,

breathless, restless as a phone call unanswered in the grey light

of an unsecured symmetry... I was licking my wounds)


CALL THE CLONE FACTORY, this model's dysfunction

Cannot be cured with yearly doses of psilocybin

(not my fault you were so quick to sell out)

Psychological forces and certainties collapse like

Demolished tenements, poverty in the abstract,

Fatal construction: “We have built a prison-box

based upon internal kaleidoscopes for disappointment!

A panopticon for failed seekers! Gut busted

Rusted hulks in a graveyard for interstellar cruise-liners!

Mysterious action at a distance!”


I'll relinquish my obscurity for no-one,

Content to decomplexify my own structure,

Face melter, suicide strategy by inches,

Plugging the gaps: “Throw yourself down on the mattress

in roach motel architecture, bitter and scabbed.”

You have reached the midden heap where

Desolation and ideal process come to rot.

This is the place where strays go to become abandoned;

Where orphans dictate the weight of abuse to be

Measured out in the parental guidance of good fortune.

This is a crucifix of your own description;

A refreshing carbonated beverage brewed from your bones.

This is as close to home as you will ever get;

Wedged in a narrow alley between an ideal past you imagined

And a future which nobody deserves.


Spirit of the age of collapse, a psychic vampire

Feeding on vacuum souls of equal emptiness.

“No-one gets away clean.”

And when the hordes come knocking

There will be no escape vehicle waiting.

“Pare it down to essentials;

Question your right to breathe freely, are you

Just another obstacle for those more worthy?”

And if you see it differently, please tell me

How you figure, the pressure of your trigger finger

Traps me in indecision, scared to make the incision

Because “The first cut is the bleakest,”

and I'm sure you already got there.


“There is no wave because there is no future.”

Everything can be bought and sold back to you,

Regurgitated like a bird's first meal.

It's the twenty-first century,

It's fucking dangerous to feel.





Samantha Walton

Winter Code


Once you switched on your winter code

I called electricity beauty

the swabbed mystery of the connection

between your body & the gross

understatement of your environment

made us cooperative at last

against the best judgement of science &

art. Flowering in winter, just once at nightfall

as the cold snapped my filament & style

I passed my life, trunk, soma, memory

over to a collective hush, acquired tics still

discharging down neurons to be bathed in

the living body of the collective earth

harmonic seed bed fed on jelly

& black earth turned. We haven't attained

light or transparency, just the competance to flower

bedded in error I wear my winter weeds, ears & organs

sprouting madly from dumb plans & unwritten nature.


BONEWORK


Granite swept

steeple lights pierce

a collagen-silted sky,

the badly drawn pencil line

before dusk

in a softly thrumming now.

There's no easy way to explain

how architecture withstands

cannon and shot thumped

into grass

and leather, civil war renegade

short change disinterred

by football, swollen geographies

splintered from parish to parish.

Distempered beacon:

shipwreck strategy is

the tidal symmetry of

the boneworks ablaze.

Atmosphere: bone dust,

glue, the breath of housebox

balance sheet neat

and stretching to the sea.

Gig lamps catch

the pig's bladder stitch,

lampblack strips between each

fret of gas light.

Strobe beacon, time ball,

the beep of stocks and stones

under the scolded

boots of the Poor Law

press the kissed field.

Lit air, hum ash lagoon.

Neither sunk nor swept

but blade-thumbed

government parcels paced-out

with the beaten bone and ear from the

inside glueing.



Will Stone

THE SINGER


Her voice is

black ice forming

and when the note is held

she is slender, a wind-heaved poplar,

a dark vase with one pale flower

about to drop its last petal

on the blue lips of the dead.

Her body is the corollary

no one dares touch.

She is all the time left to us,

suddenly declaring itself at once.

Her voice is candlelight

feeling over brickwork

in the deepest wells,

she is the one to follow,

drawing us out like poison

from the last deep excavation.


A BRUSSELS PARK AT WINTER’S END


After the drawn out winter, the sun

ordered people back into the park.

For them the swans languidly applied

make up to the plain pond.

A few on benches opened books.

They had an armed guard of dreams.

The peacock tossed its tasselled head

and a child overcome with the smoke

of its birth careered into the mesh.

A few climbers appeared

on the summit of a certain happiness.

Two donkeys in an enclosure

stood side by side, so still, Balthazar…

the eyes dark wells where the moon

will later stoop to drink its fill.

Eyes that vainly record the human,

dark slates on whose surface every

atrocity is chalked up, every joy.

Watch the little ones leap the low fence

and run through the blown litter of doves,

maypole dancing their curiosity

around the burbling aviary,

educated by each explosion.



Stephen Watt

Coma


The woods secreted clues.

Golden clusters of seasoned leaves

swayed like Shakespearean pages

from the chartreuse branches

of dense trees; medallic decorations

carpeting the entombed weeds.

Her midnight walks were new.

A raw mourning had convoked

since he died; bereavement

was in vogue and occupied

the mind like a demonic night-shift.

Wild-flowers appeared crucified

under the bewitching, lightship moon.

Hunting hounds habitude

led them to babbling gullies,

jabbering calumnies like the follies

of their youth. The truth hid

inside the bell mouth of the wood.

Tossed cautions of cheyne stoking wind

waltzed with star-shaped driblets

falling from thunderclouds.

Helicopter light hiccuped erratically

like religious vows in the name of God

then enshrouded in doubt,

the search party was called off.


Cinema Redundancy


Doyenne of the picture house chattels, the cleaning lady

nestled into adopted kinship, bereft of a crumbing castle

where the fountain-heads of a thousand relationships

had inaugurated; greenhorn pupils to tried and tested.

Evangelical signage detonated bulbs, clanking goblets

of illuminated glass fruit. Beheaded skulls

exposed the bloodroot of circuit boards, metallic wires.

Crowds absorbed the seductive fires.

In thick, congesting smoke, she drifted upon rafts of chronicles

into wistful head-notes. The year-long pong of popcorn

lodged in her throat, and the sultry, viscous of used condoms

forsaken in the back rows of neglected raincoats.

She beamed at the time she moonlit as a counsellor:

A pretty young thing left behind, assembling mascara

in a dinky, compact mirror, whose veritable tears

were as black and white and beautiful as any actor.

Rain shaped seaweed from her hair.

Reception’s jukebox wheezed as silver tongues

of millionaires melted, squeezed into rock n’ roll purée.

Elvis was digested by an ageless eternity.

Lunatic hoses ran amok, snakes lashing in pagan frenzy.

Swarms seethed in the aftershock, absorbing official liturgy

about failed smoke alarm batteries and overheated movie reels

while the cleaning lady vacuumed the black char of her thumb,

still raw from the heat of the lighter’s wheel.



Caleb Beissert

The Cats in Lorca’s Garden

Huerta de San Vicente, Granada, 2013


Grand sweeping park,

high apartments rise

and enclose pomegranate trees,

beer cans, benches, flies,

and cats

sleeping in the bushes,

empty waste bins,

and ledges of a home

where a family

never can return,

a fountain

with a wedge of swans,

pear trees and weeping lilacs,

stale roads built up

around,

their constant ocean wind.


Lines Written in Wax


In the dark,

the unrest of the trees.

 

Misconceived violins sing through rain

while dogs bite patrolmen in defense,

and the roots intertwine with my heart.


All the leaves

disconnect with the wind.


Rare Moon


No one wants the machines any more—

they’re writing music scores in rust.




Wilna Panagos

Red


1. the long version


step 1: memorize: red = subversion

step 2: do these exercises:


red = revolution

red = happiness

red = love

red shoes for Tom Waits

red square for Malevich

Roxanne's dress

the inside of a plum [not the outside, the outside is plum]

Macbeth's hands


addendum: powder:

cadmium paprika cinnabar quinacridone li hing sindoor


step 3: now believe:


red = melancholy

red = nostalgia [or grief, because it burns]


imagine: red sunflowers

think of a red planet [I remember]

red chocolate or red coffee

a powdery red elephant wandering soundlessly through the night

red neon signage for water

a red road with a white dashed line in the middle

a Pushkin poem about red snow

red spring leaves

oh, but you get those, Ficus ingens, Bridelia micrantha


then imagine an unspeakable rainstorm washing all the red away

leaving everything clean and grey

rushing down a torrid river

staining the river mouth red where it kisses the sea

smearing red around the ocean's lips with this abandonment


addendum: liquid:

blood tattoo ink

addendum: vapour:

the breath of love desire a prostitute's porch light


and then this love abates

laying down a thick red sediment over the knees of the ocean floor

red shipwrecks

red red crayfish

red sole and manta rays

red humps of lost treasure,

leaving the telephone booths postboxes hearts

grey and bereft


addendum: solid:

brecciated jasper carnelian corundum a gibbous moon a werewolf's teeth


addendum: other:

tongue after eating a raspberry popsicle

Amelie's kitchen

flags feathers junk sails stigmata

all the red things not named here but that you thought of when reading this

all the red things not named here that you didn't think of when reading this

the one last red thing hidden underneath the rubble in the aftermath of the rainstorm


location unknown

addendum: plastic:

it's forever


2. the short version

red and beautiful

then

not red



Emily Pettit

THE SKELETON OF OUR OBLIGATIONS


A request that feels like an ambush. 

You name it. You hope to know it

and know how to stop it. One day. 

Today a complicated conversation

regarding literal and figurative bears. 

You name these years The Bears. 

Sometimes you change the name. 

Sometimes what is hard is that you 

don’t. You are looking for an expression 

of peace. An expression of space. 

An expression of goodwill. Of grace.

Find more learning. In this hallway 

there are nine doors. One that leads 

to nowhere. A region of knowledge. 

The precinct, the province, the area, 

the line. A line of bears. A bear behind 

each door. A turn of the mind. Another 

turn of the mind. Take a tone. Make a 

tone. I’m all alone. Another thing I have 

said. So many have said. You are the lion 

part and the cage part, but know you are 

really the lion part.



DREAM WATER


You lifted me by the door by the deck.

It lingers in my back. Your back.

You express a reaction to the action. 

Every once in awhile a reaction

that compliments the action. 

A unique location, this memory. 

The science of sharing belongs

to a certain kind of sharpness of mind. 

Or sometimes it does. I want to refine 

what I said. What I say. You’re back.

But the deck is gone. Gone with 

the water that once was there. 

What can I do? Take me to the signs 

and symbols section. Let me live there 

for a little while. In the water.  

I don’t like it when water is in the way.

I like it when water is the way. 



FAMILIAR QUALITIES WE ADMIRE


To be praiseworthy and principled.  

To be kind and caring. To be perfectly

daring. What if you could sense a magnetic 

field? An electrical field? Some animals can. 

To recognize magic as magic. It’s time-

sensitive. Your sensory input of stimuli 

tells you one thing and your basis of 

knowledge tells you another. It is good 

that some astronauts love David Bowie. 

I am eating a biscuit very slowly. Drinking 

the old water. It’s over a billion years old. 

The recognition training a broken photograph. 

Cool, smart, and nice are commonly used ways 

to describe someone likable. Seems simple 

listed like that. Enormous language! Enormous 

music! Please make me a summer storm. 

Change becomes a chance. Draw a circle. Draw 

a line. Draw another line. Draw a triangle. 

I said to do these things. Do these things. 

Now explain how to do these things. 







Simon Rogghe

DRUNKEN GOLDFISH WALTZ BLUES

(For Zarina Zabrisky)


Drunken twilight, city lights turn into goldfish.

Eternity has fallen from the sky and dies

As a black beetle on the sunken pavement.


The boulevards have swallowed up the destination

And I drift past endless windows lit like billboards

In which laughter advertises anti-solitude.


Never-ending rooms where people stand on ceilings,

Grinding out the same refrain in different keys

And drinking reassurance in a different color.


I butt my head against the concrete sky

And cry for help, but no one seems to notice,

And I wonder how they know which way is up.


I stumble every time I try to face in their direction,

My feet refuse to grip their common ground, so I go down

And hug the chandelier to keep up the appearance.


Invisible, I float from room to room,

Deciphering encrypted meaning

In the smiles, the winks, the fluttering of lashes,


[But see their heads filled up with bumblebees,

Their veins pulsing like horny octopi,

Their stomachs tense as frantic wildebeest.]


Forever doubting when the water started rising

And never sure if I will drown with my next breath,

I track the years to look up days when things were normal.


I trace the steps inside my head and see the sun

Nodding approval as I skip with both feet on the grass

Where leaves and petals don’t betray their colors.


Never a day of solitude went by in this green wonderland

Where rabbit holes could lead to treasures and where

Freedom let you take its hand to dive into adventures.  


The dive was hard. The green spilled out as seaweed.

When frazzled stars had settled on the bottom of my eyes,

Freedom lay motionless inside a pile of debris.


Black bug eternity had always rested on the pavement.

The water had been surging since the day I didn’t look.

People had been glued to ceilings since I started breathing.


Goldfish, goldfish. You’re my kin. Waltz me into infinity

Along your boulevards that only know how to descend.

Find me those who speak my language and resuscitate my dreams.




Richie MacCaffery

Maze

 

My father went out to hunt a beast nearly extinct,

a vintage Triumph Bonneville, his boyhood dream.

 

He took it up the street twice, then chained it down

like a chrome Minotaur in an asbestos roofed garage.

 

I could show you it if you want - it’s easy to get to.

The maze it resides in is all in my father’s head.











Andrew F Giles

Munich


‘To this day sometimes I dream about her, arriving fresh from Germany in full gaiety’

Letter from Jessica Mitford to Debo Devonshire, 1960s


 She attuned herself to the clockwork of traffic

on Ludwigstraße, thrilled that each car

could conceal him & his steadfast

entourage.


Days Unity spent in her room

with toxic glues & paints, sticking armed

birthday warriors in tiny howdahs

on elephants – his card,


the hard work placating her. The midnight

bent of her mission comes to us in

these archived, or lost, images -


Hannibal, sitting wolfishly astride


a misshapen beast in the foreground,

swearing blind farewells to the Alps -

the prow of a craft

schlepping strange sciences across


the oceans - a brain of flint or metal,

a brand-new machine that will read

the degenerate code of the past.


There are the distant souls of her sisters too,

whispering a fanciful boo at her reflection


trapped in the glass of the Osteria Bavaria.

But the mirror is always full of heady days

of amateurish zeal, of whoops of praise -


of our slavishly immutable love of change.


February 1935 - their first Osteria tea

& while this particular shard has lost its place,  


Unity sits apart with tears in her eyes as,

for a moment, time seems blissfully

unchallenged, bright in his uniform.




Agnes Marton

Wakewalker, Naked


'Nothing exposed, it is just flesh,'

that's what I heard, outstripped,

the Wakewalker,

by men, staring

from behind their Morning Star

on a beige Tuesday, was it November?

I kept nibbling with

the sugarcubes on the saucer,

grasping the cup for fear of breakage,

slurping bitterness for heat.



Come to think of it, nakedness

reminds me of the lion park.

Everyone wanted the rare, white goddess.

The tamer called her The Empire of Closed Eyes.

We were taught to stroke only her back,

keep fear away when playing.

Some visitors came loud,

but went suddenly, silent.

Some crept hidden, left bitten,

told later tales of heroic fights.

I felt I was The One, tingling

like with palms on the spine of the Pine King.

Lions don't purr, she was just smiling,

then yawned, 'Haaaaaahhhhhhhh… You should go now,

learn how to touch the human skin;

how to wear yours,

without shame, wide awake.'





Pippa Little

Kindness Enough

 

Persians love all things sour and bitter

best of all bergamot’s green rind

and cut scent of rain

that pricks my eyes with tears.

 

We only have

my fine bone cup’s spiderlings of light,

your horn spoon, freckled with thistledown -

and shared grains of an unseen coast,

whisper of perfidious winds.

 

Longer than old-womanhood

and the moon’s recede/return, apogee/perigee,

longer than all desire our journey:

the brew is hot now, perfect,

let there be kindness enough and time

until the end of it.



How The Honey Changes

 

Snowdrops and crocus work into a first dark dew,

then blackthorns’ fume, plum and sycamore’s

spoonfuls swell and glow so that slow, winding

and intense, all  brood upon the spell, and early year’s

my stranger’s introduction:

 

summer’s for servants, then,

bramble, clover  and last days’ drowse

brew  miasma  of limpid ambers

and bruises  bloodwarm,  

haunting finale:

 

lightning infuses at the window,

stormy autumn transforms and deepens

these sad kaleidoscopes.

Somewhere out of the rain

my queens are sleeping.





Rob A Mackenzie

Chanson


If tomorrow the cigarette you would have smoked

in February’s doorway lies in the packet

unused, and if the morning rush becomes casual,

without a pitched plate, without laughter afterwards,

and if our neighbours stop scraping their bread-knife

down the body of your Ford Fiesta for a crime

you may not have committed, at least let me hear

you sing that outré French number you learned

from Piaf herself, or so your story goes, the one

that casts you as a waitress in a low-life bar

in Paris, where I mark time below the stairs

among empty bottles, my nerves frayed by

your vintage Irn Bru’s frisson in the flute,

which stirs my tongue to chant against the cold.









Rhian Edwards

Hitched


Violent tiredness has stripped

our mouths down to this skeletal

talk and grimacing silence.


Tongues once swaggered

with muscles of mirth, now flap

at the table, starved of all rapture.


In a bootless attempt to replenish

Lost joys, you pluck from the napkin

a tale for the telling.


With a flurry of arm wags and plasticine

face, you spill all the beans

for a flicker of awe.


I dispatch a dim smile and spy

on the gossips, as the swelling dead air

rots the menu between us.



Back to Bed


You rip off the blankets

to stop me losing the day.

I dream in epics, you see.

Sometimes you think I won’t wake

and might adventure without you.


I’m a drawer fully open

now something has to be touched.

You list my bits that you prize,

drop a kiss to the belly.

What a waste of good fawning

when the flattered is sleep-swooned!

Instead it’s the chill of your spit

and the wind you’ve let in that shudder

me back to the room

and this ordinary morning –

all thumping in sunshine,

I wish I could bin.


I abandon your bed for the bathroom

and the griffin-clawed tub

which squats under the window,

cupping the punctured clouds of your lather.

I pussy-foot into the tepid,

the yellowed porcelain squeaks as I slide,

wheel the hot tap with my toe,

veil my face in damp flannels

and in the snug of the soap-swamp,

perfect my vanishing act.



No Place


Painted roses and ivy scratch

a tangled stairway up the wall,

twist an arch around a false

front door, perfunctory and sealed.

The windows are criss-crossed

clown eyes, paneless frames

shedding black silence.


Unhook the face of the house,

peel it open like a page,

every room surrenders itself,

perfectly furnished for no one.

A tall lamp mourns an unused

armchair, a hat stand presides

in the corner like a winter tree.


My hand is the ghost and god

of this home. Fingers drift –

intent for the solid, skate over

the hexagonal table, the velvet

dining room chairs, roll back

the eyelid of the bureau,

pinch open famished drawers.


Fingers scramble through a hatch

into a mock mahogany bedroom –

where the wardrobe is cluttered

with air and a mirror has forgotten

how to watch. The hand pauses –

shrinks from a familiar bed

where a spider closes into a fist. 


('No Place' and 'Back to Bed' were first published in Clueless Dogs, Seren Press 2012)

Edition Seven:
Hard Slabs and a Few Conifers











Robert Joe Stout is a journalist who has worked as a magazine editor, newspaper reporter, copy editor and contributing editor. The author of Hidden Dangers, Mexico on the Brink of Disaster; Why Immigrants Come to America; and The Blood of the Serpent: Mexican Lives plus the novels Where Gringos Don't Belong; Running Out the Hurt; and Miss Sally, he has published nonfiction widely in magazines, journals, and newspapers. His short fiction has appeared in literary and trade magazines and his poetry includes the books Monkey Screams and A Perfect Throw. He lives in Oaxaca, Mexico.


































































Richard Miller is an aspiring avant-garde poet residing in the wilds of southern Pennsylvania. He is a member of Paper Plane Pilots, an international writers' collective, and has previously published a chapbook entitled "Separate Instances of Loneliness." He enjoys climbing trees, standing on street corners waiting for no one, and making life very uncomfortable for his friends and family.











































































































Irfan Merchant grew up in Ayr, and has lived in Edinburgh and London. His poetry has been published in diverse places, including various poetry magazines such as New Writing Scotland, The Herald and The Scotsman; and several anthologies such as Wish I Was Here: a Scottish multicultural anthology and Out Of Bounds: British Black and Asian Poets.



























































Drew McNaughton is a musician and poet who was born in Concord, Massachusetts and has greatly admired the writing of Emerson and Thoreau for many years. At an early age he also found that he was particularly drawn to the poetry of W. B. Yeats which has continued to be a major influence. Now living in Scotland he has recently been listening to Gaelic musicians and singers such as Julie Fowlis and Karen Matheson and also began to play the clarsach (celtic harp). Inspired by the natural surroundings of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh and the Enlightenment era poetry of Erasmus Darwin his poetic influences went off on a classical tangent in which the Muses play a major role. Conversations and guidance from notable poetical authorities, Tessa Ransford and Ronald Black, helped to encourage the creation of his spoken word and musical work, Kyberpoetica.




























































Miriam Gamble is from Belfast, but now lives in Edinburgh. Her collections are The Squirrels Are Dead (2010), which won a Somerset Maugham Award in 2011, and Pirate Music (2014), both published by Bloodaxe. She is currently a lecturer on the Creative Writing programme at Edinburgh University.



















































Edition Six: Still in Miami












Scherezade Siobhan is a Jungian scarab moonlighting as a clinical psychologist. She splits her time between Bombay and Seattle, and sometimes London. Her writing has been translated into multiple languages as well as featured in various digital and physical spaces and can be found in literary magazines, anthologies, international galleries, rehab centers and in the bios of okcupid users. Her digital collection of poems "Bone Tongue" was published by Thought Catalog Books and her full length poetry book "Father, Husband" was recently released by Salopress UK. She is the creator and curator of an online project collecting art, conversations and directing action towards gendered violence and mental health among women, called "The Mira Project".  She can be found squeeing about militant bunnies on twitter/IG/facebook : @zaharaesque







































































Lauren Pope is pursuing a Creative Writing PhD at the University of Edinburgh. Her writing has appeared in numerous journals and online publications including the Edinburgh Review and Etchings. She is a recipient of a Greenberg Poetry Fellowship, an Orkney Writers’ Bursary, the Grierson Verse Prize, and was shortlisted for this year’s Jupiter Artland Inspired To Write competition.



























































































































GS Smith is a writer and event producer based in Edinburgh, where he has run the popular event series CAESURA since 2012. He works with text in various media, from egg-filled installations in abandoned vaults to noisy pseudo-lectures on abnormal psychology to poetry.  His visual poetry and short stories, have been published in various magazines including 3:AM Magazine; Otoliths, The Treacle Well, SCREE, Pushing Out the Boat, Neon Highway, Brittle Star, Decanto and HOAX Magazine.









































Claire Lucille Trévien is a poet and academic. She was born in Pont l'Abbé, France in 1985 and graduated with a PhD from the University of Warwick in 2012 on 'Revolutionary Prints as Spectacle' and has been published in a number of scholarly journals and poetry anthologies. 
Trévien's first pamphlet Low-Tide Lottery, was published by Salt in 2011. It was followed by the publication of her first collection The Shipwrecked House in 2013 by Penned in the Margins. This collection was voted the reader's choice and longlisted in the Guardian First Book Award. 
She was on the Huffington Post's list of 5 British Poets to Watch in 2014 and the Poetry School's first digital Poet-in-Residence.

Her second collection of poetry, Astéronymes, was published by Penned in the Margins in 2016.



















Brandon Marlon is a Jewish-Israeli writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and has been published in more than 85 publications in Canada, U.S.A., England, Ireland, Spain, Greece, Romania, Israel, India, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, and Trinidad. www.brandonmarlon.com







































































































Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and is the author of three chapbooks titled: Set List (Bitchin Kitsch,) In Stone and The Most Awkward Silence of All (both Cruel Garters Press.) His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Conduit and Cloudbank.


























































































































John Challis was born in London, but now lives and works in the North East. He is a recipient of a Northern Writers’ Award and a Pushcart Prize - and also holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Newcastle University. His poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Butcher’s Dog; Clinic, Magma, Poetry London, The Rialto, and has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. His debut play The Next Train To Depart premiered in Hexham in 2014. 





























































Edition Five: Empyrean Pleasures













Sade Andria Zabala is a surfer and writer that currently writing for 'berlin-artparasites'. She is from the Philippines living sometimes in Denmark, and is the author of two poetry books - WAR SONGS and Coffee and Cigarettes.




































































































































Iona Lee is a poet and art student from Edinburgh currently studying at Leith School of Art.  When she grows up she wants to be a polymath, but until then she performs poetry, makes film poems and drinks a lot of cider.


































































































































































































































































Colin Dodds is the author of Another Broken Wizard, WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job, which Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” His writing has appeared in more than two hundred publications, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Poet and songwriter David Berman (Silver Jews, Actual Air) said of Dodds’ work: “These are very good poems. For moments I could even feel the old feelings when I read them.” Colin’s book-length poem That Happy Captive was a finalist in the 2015 Trio House Press Louise Bogan Award as well as the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award. And his screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. See more of his work at www.thecolindodds.com





































































Siefried Baber was born in Barnstaple, Devon in 1989. Since graduating from Bath Spa University with a degree in Creative Writing, he lives and works in the city as a freelance writer, and as a barman in Bath’s finest pub, The Star Inn.  Siegfried’s poetry has featured in a variety of publications including Under The RadarThe Interpreter’s HouseButcher’s Dog Magazine, online with The Compass Magazine, And Other Poems and Ink, Sweat & Tears, and as part of the Bath Literature Festival. His debut pamphlet When Love Came To The Cartoon Kid is published by Telltale Press.




























































Grevel Lindop was born in Liverpool and now lives in Manchester, where he works as a freelance writer. His prose books include The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey; A Literary Guide to the Lake District (a Lakeland Book of the Year, and now in its 3rd edition); Travels on the Dance Floor (a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week and shortlisted for Best Travel Book 2009); and Charles Williams: The Third Inkling. Carcanet Press has published seven books of his poems, including Selected Poems (2000), Playing With Fire (2006), and Luna Park (2015). You can read his blog at www.grevel.co.uk













































































































































Rebecca Perry's pamphlet, little armoured, was published by Seren in 2012. 'Beauty/Beauty', her first full collection, published by Bloodaxe in January 2015, is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize for Best First Collection and the T S Eliot Prize. Her work can be found at The Quietus and B O D Y. She co‐edits the online journal Poems In Which.















































































































































Edition Four: Dressed to Kill













Abby Mckenzie was born in Edinburgh and currently lives in London. She holds an MA in Art History from the University of St Andrews (2014) and is currently completing an MA in Art Business at The Sotheby’s Institute of Art. She originally trained as a classical ballet dancer, and has worked in a variety of artistic sectors including theatre; film and visual art. With an emotional brutality and raw sensibility her work often depicts an exploration of vanity within creativity and introspection. 















Bob Beagrie is a poet, playwright and senior lecturer in creative writing at Teesside University. He has performed at numerous festivals and venues nationally and internationally, including The Royal Festival Hall – South Bank Centre, Theatre Royal Newcastle, Crossing Borders Festival – Amsterdam, Kiasma Museum of Modern Art – Helsinki, Down By The Laiturri Festival – Turku, The Haganum Festival – Den Haag, The Dylan Thomas Centre – Swansea, The Poet's Café – Silvers, Portugal and The Poetry Café London. He has received commissions from Arts Council England, The Hydrogen Jukebox Cabaret of The Spoken Word, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council and Hartlepool Borough Council, The Laing Gallery Newcastle and Helsinki Refugee Centre. As well as collaborating with musicians he has also worked closely with visual artists on public artworks and with theatre company Three Over Eden. He has published in many anthologies and is the author of 'Glass Characters' published by Red Squirrel Press.




























































































































Anna Crowe lives in St Andrews with her husband, the writer Julian Crowe and their children, though she spent some time living in Fance. She is poet and translator of Catalan and Mexican poetry, co-founder and former Artistic Director, and an Honorary President of Scotland's International Poetry Festival: StAnza. She is the author of two full collections from Peterloo press, and three Mariscat collections, of which Figure in a Landscape won the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award and was a Poetry Book Society Choice. She was a runner-up in the National Poetry Competition, and twice won first prize in the Peterloo Open Poetry Competition. She has also translated, for Arc, an anthology of work by Six Catalan Poets, and her latest book of translations, Peatlands (Arc 2014), features the work of the eminent Mexican poet and academic, Pedro Serrano. In 2005 the Society of Authors awarded her a Travelling Scholarship. Her marvellous translations of the Catalan poet Joan Margarit, Tugs in the Fog (Bloodaxe 2006), was a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation. Together they translated over 140 poems by RS Thomas, published by Proa as No hi ha treva per a les fúries in Catalan and English.







































Brent Terry is a Professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University and author of two collections of poetry. His poems and essays have appeared in 5 a.m., Pebble Lake Review, Hunger Mountain, Rain Taxi, and many other publications. He holds an MFA from Bennington College and is former poet laureate of Minneapolis' Linden Hills.















































Astrid Alben’s most recent collection Ai! Ai! Pianissimo, was published by Arc Publications in 2011. Alben has been described as “a new and original voice in English poetry, serious and uncompromising” (Times Literary Supplement). Her poems, essays, translations and reviews are widely published in journals, magazines, newspapers and anthologies, and her poetry is translated into several languages, including Romanian, Slovenian and Chinese. Alben is the editor of three art/science anthologies: Findings on Ice (2007), Findings on Elasticity (2010) and Findings on Light (2015), published by Lars Müller Publications. Her next collection, Plainspeak, an alter-ego-thinker-out-louder book, will be ready in about a year. Alben is a Royal Society of Arts Fellow and Wellcome Trust Fellow. 


To hear her poems visit: www.astridalben.com









































Helen Calcutt is an English poet and choreographer. Described as ‘radical’ ‘uncompromising’ ‘much like Emily Dickinson, surprising and new’ her poetry marks the presence of a ‘compelling new literary voice’ (Perdika Press 2013). Her work has received global publication featuring in journals such as Equinox (Aude, France) The London Magazine (UK), The Salzburg Review (Austria) Poetry Scotland, and The New Yorker (U.S.A.) She has worked with institutions as diverse as Poetry By Heart, Poetry International and the National Trust.

Calcutt is the author of ‘Sudden rainfall’ her first collection of poetry, published by experimental English publishing house.  She is currently working on her second full-length collection titled ‘Siren'. She is also the founder of radical new interdisciplinary project “écriture corporelle” a 'Bodily Writing', which explores the lines of dialogue between dance (potential poetics) and poetry (choreography of the page). It is currently the only project of its kind happening in the UK.




































































Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry and interviews have appeared in Nimrod,Portland Review, Kestrel, Cream City Review, Poetry Salzburg, Boston Poetry Magazine, The Journal, Gertrude, The Bacon Review,and many others.  He has published a travel guide, Best Choices In Northern California, and Time Lines, a book of poems. He lives in Marina, California.



























































































Edition Three: 
Dreaming in Phosphene












Tishani Doshi is a widely acclaimed poet, dancer and writer from India. She graduated with a BA and an MA from Universities in the United States. Then after working in the fashion magazine industry in London for a while, she decided to return to India where she met with leading choreographer Chandralekha, and spiralled into a prestigious dance career.


Her first book of poetry, Countries of the Body (2006), won a Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Her second collection of poems, Everything Begins Elsewhere (2013) was published in three different countries simultaneously. Her first novel, The Pleasure Seekers (2010), was shortlisted for the Hindu Best Fiction Award and has been translated into several languages. Her honors and awards include an Eric Gregory Award and an All-India Poetry Prize. Her most recent collection Fountainville: New Stories from the Mabinogion was published last year.


She features at festivals and events around Europe for part of the year, and spends the rest a hermit writing poems and prose on the beach in Tamil Nadu.

























































































































































 

April Salzano was recently nominated for two Pushcart prizes, she teaches college writing in Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband and two sons. She is currently working on a poetry collection and a memoir on raising a child with autism. Her work has appeared in journals such as Convergence, Ascent Aspirations, The Camel Saloon, Centrifugal Eye, Deadsnakes, Visceral Uterus, Salome, Poetry Quarterly, Writing Tomorrow and Rattle. She is also co-editor at Kind of a Hurricane Press. 

www.kindofahurricanepress.com






































Moniza Alvi was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and came to England whens she was a few months old. She grew up in Hertfordshire and studied at the Universities of York and London. She has received a Cholmondeley Award for her poetry, and is the author of many Bloodaxe collections. Her latest books are At the Time of Partition (2013) a Poetry Book Society Choice and shortlisted for the T. S.Eliot Prize.   Her versions of the French poet Jules Supervielle as a book-length poem Homesick for the Earth, was published in 2011. Europa (2008) was also shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and Split World: Poems 1990-2005 (2008) includes poems from her five previous collections; The Country at My Shoulder (1993) shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot and Whitbread poetry prizes, A Bowl of Warm Air (1996), Carrying My Wife (2000) a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, Souls (2002) and How the Stone Found Its Voice (2005). She currently lives in Norfolk and tutors  the Poetry School.
































































David Cooke won an Gregory Award and published his first collection, Brueghel’s Dancers in the 80’s. His retrospective collection, In the Distance, was published in 2011 by Night Publishing and a collection of more recent pieces, Work Horses, has recently been published by Ward Wood Publishing. His poems, translations and reviews have appeared widely in journals including Agenda; Ambit, The Bow Wow Shop, The Critical Quarterly, The Irish Press, The London Magazine, Magma, The North, Orbis, Other Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Reader, The SHOp and Stand.  His new collection, A Murmuration, will be published by Two Rivers Press in 2015



































Allison Grayhurst is a full member of the League of Canadian Poets. She has over 375 poems published in more than 190 international journals and anthologies such as the Blue Fifth Review; South Florida Arts Journal, The Brooklyn Voice, The Milo Review, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Dalhousie Review, The New Quarterly, Wascana Review, Poetry Nottingham International, The Cape Rock, Journal of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry, The Toronto Quarterly and the Boston Poetry Magazine.

Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers in 1995. Since then she has published ten other books of poetry and four collections with Edge Unlimited Publishing. Prior to the publication of Somewhere Falling she had a poetry book published, Common Dream, and four chapbooks published by The Plowman. Her poetry chapbook The River is Blind was published by Ottawa publisher above/ground press December 2012. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay.






























Bram E Gieben (Texture) is a Glasgow-based writer, journalist, emcee and musician. In 2013 he was named one of Canongates’s Future 40- the list comprised of the 40 best storytellers in Scotland. He is an acclaimed Slam poet, having won the National Slam in 2006 (team prize, first place for Scotland), and the most recent Big Word Slam in Edinburgh (solo prize, first place). He helped set up the label Black Lantern Music, but also produces his own minimal electronic music- making loop-based hip-hop with dubstep, electro, and lo-fi influences under the name Texture- playing gigs such the Kelburn Music Festival’s Viewpoint Sessions and the Wickerman Festival. He also hold a Masters in Creative Writing from Glasgow University and writes for The Skinny.










































Edition Two: Hebrew After Midnight












Samantha Walton has lived in Edinburgh and London, and has a PhD in psychology, law and selfhood in inter-war women’s writing. In 2013 she joined the school of Arts as senior lecturer at Teesside University. Her poetry publications include tristanundisolde (2010) City Breaks Weekend Songs (2011) the duplicate book (2012) and she organises the event series Syndicate that boasts a raw experimental mix of poetry, music and technology collaborations.




















































© emmamountcastle

Will Stone is a poet and translator living in Suffolk who feels that it is mostly the Scots and the Irish that understand his poetry. He has an MA in Literary Translation from the University of East Anglia and has published translations of poets such as Charles Baudelaire; August Stramm, Egon Schiele and the Belgian symbolists, Georges Rodenbach and Emile Verhaeren. His first poetry collection Glaciation, published by Salt (2008) won the international Glen Dimplex Award for poetry. His second Salt published collection Drawing in Ash (2011) won the 3am magazine poetry book of the year award. 

































Stephen Watt is the author of Spit (2012) and is a poet/performer from Glasgow. After three years on the spoken word scene, Stephen has successfully secured the Hughie Healy Memorial Trophy and the Federation of Writers (Scotland) Vernal Equinox first prize during 2013, following his Poetry Rivals Slam win in Peterborough in 2011.



















































Caleb Beissert is a poet, translator and freelance writer born in Washington D.C and raised in North Carolina. He has a BA in English from WCU and his first book of translations Beautiful: Poems of Federico García Lorca & Pablo Neruda, was published by New Native Press in 2013. His work has appeared in International Poetry ReviewTar River PoetryAsheville Poetry ReviewPisgah Review,FlycatcherRed Earth ReviewHeadwaters Creative Arts Magazine, and The Citron Review. In 2013 he received a grant from the Arts and Science Council in North Carolina to teach poetry to primary school students in inner-city schools where he now serves on the board of advisor's to the literary non-profit organization MadHat, Inc. and produces the monthly reading Altamont Poetry Series.





















Wilna Panagos is a writer (published in New Contrast Literary Journal; Gone Lawn, Otoliths, Museum Life, Prick of the Spindle, Medusa's Laugh Press) and illustrator (biology mostly). She has written and illustrated a few children's books and is currently working on her first novel.  She is convinced that reality isn't fit for human consumption and should be avoided at all cost. She believes in orange and pigeons: has an imaginary dog and lives in Pretoria, South Africa.


































































Emily Pettit is the author of Goat in the Snow (Birds LLC, 2012) and three chapbooks: Because You Can Have This Idea About Being Afraid Of Something (Dikembe Press, 2013), How (Octopus Books), and What Happened to Limbo (Pilot Books). She is an editor for Factory Hollow Press, jubilat, and notnostrums. She teaches at Flying Object and Elms College.





















































Edition One: Issue of the Beast












Simon Rogghe found a home in the Bay Area where he writes poetry with the help of his spirit animal, a Siberian tiger, his belated twin brother and a sacred prostitute who frequents his dreams and saves him from the drudgery of grad school. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in 3:AM Magazine,Tree Killer InkFiction 365Gone Lawn and other publications.

















































Richie MacCaffery (b.1986) lives in Stirling, Scotland and is a PhD student at the University of Glasgow, researching the Scottish poetry of World War Two. He has published two poetry pamphlet collections, Spinning Plates (HappenStance Press, 2012) and Ballast Flint (Cromarty Arts Trust, 2013).














Andrew F Giles  has work in Ambit, Magma, Equinox, Gutter etc, & edits online literary arts & culture journal NLP. He is currently researching poet Leopoldo María Panero at the University of Bristol.












































Agnes Marton is a Hungarian-born poet. She has been working in publishing since 1991.


She participates in exhibitions and art projects: 'Opposition' (USA), 'Flow' (Switzerland), 'So What' (New Zealand), 'Stone Project' (USA), 'Arts et Jardin' (France), 'Windows for Burns Night' (UK), 'Dharmic Angels' (UK), 'European Sculpture: Methods, Materials, Poetry' (Sweden), 'Appeal 2012' (South Africa), 'Wool Symposium' (Spain).


She is widely published in journals and anthologies across America and the U.K.





















Pippa Little lives in Northumberland. Her collection, Overwintering, published by Carcanet Press, was shortlisted for the 2013 Seamus Heaney Prize.









































© gerrycambridge


Rob A. Mackenzie was born and brought up in Glasgow and lives in Leith. His latest collection, The Good News, was published by Salt in April 2013. His reviews have appeared in Poetry Review, New Welsh Review, Magma and Sphinx and his poems in numerous publications. He blogs at Surroundings 

(robmack.blogspot.co.uk) and is book reviews editor of Magma Poetry magazine.
















Rhian Edwards' first collection Clueless Dogs (Seren Press) was winner of Wales Book of the Year 2013 and the Roland Mathias Prize for Poetry 2013 and shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2012

www.serenbooks.com