CHRISTOPHER BARNES – 5 POEMS

The Dance
 
…lilac Nehru jacket,
ploughman’s amble,
gadabout eye-flicker
-       you doorstep…
    
     *
 
…pare sweet breads
into morsels,
deform, hand out.
Tump with cauliflower…
 
     *
 
…retreats into a dive, yells.
“Something titanic, icy,
flush and gin.”  The barman…
 
     *
 
…we’d never waltz on shingle,
ripple-drenched feet,
as vinyl purred…
 

 
 
Horizontal Vision
 
…barrows to-and-froed.
Hagglers impressed, lurking.
I corner nosegay oils,
you earmark…
 
     *
 
…tilt steamer
on disengaged hob
10-15 minutes.  Baste…
 
     *
 
…check-up.  Paramedic eurekas
-       something woefully awry –
deduces tip-off…
 
     *
 
…metro expired at Wallsend,
bus green-lighted
an hour to cloud-gather,
you’d never essentially…
 

 
 
 
 
Earth
 
…peachy-keen upbeat guitar
seesawed your hips.  Taffrail clover,
dribble…
 
     *
 
…rattle all footloose.  Chip walnuts.
Grease loaf tin…
 
     *
 
…ventured into Bronx Flea Market,
bisected dummy
cornered into a pin-stripe…
 
     *
 
…lick-and-promise miasma
Overhauled drained instincts.
Only traffic faded…
 

 
 
 
Fixations
 
…in rag-order
knee-highs yodelled,
single-filing my alley.
No cur whined…
 
     *
 
…kibble, tooling rutty blade
of mincer.  Dissolve ½ oz…
 
     *
 
…Pegasus’ foals vamoosed,
so the knight…
 
     *
 
…we quick-timed hours.
An invisible…
 

 
 


 
Not Quite June
 
…gabby-guts rooks
air-cleared your nickname.
Evening shade diffracted urgency…
 
     *
 
…groundwork panade.  Turn out
as for béchamel, stargaze an hour…
 
     *
 
…wolfed my quill.”
“What shall I do?”
“Take advantage of a crayon…”
 
     *
 
…rule-breaking headaches spared,
though we blethered all…
 

 
 
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MARK ANTHONY PEARCE – 2 POEMS

SEATON 
 
As we walk across 
Seaton Beach 
My Grandfather 
Asks me of my prospects 
‘I’m 75’ 
He said 
‘Soon I’ll be fucking dead’ 
He seems to think life will work out for me 
But for a brief moment 
We are lost 
Eventually we find my mother 
And grumpy Grandma 
Before eating fish and chips 
My eyes looking up towards the sun 
 
Bristol, August 2006 


GULAG 

Where he worked 
He lived 
And did not like 
To be reminded 
That he did 
He was always reliable 
But found others far from it 
He cursed them 
Under his breath 
As the days rolled by 
With cigarettes and coffee 
To try and ease the strain 
Sometimes it rained 
Sometimes it was windy 
And jobs would not be done 
He sat in his chair 
Made phone calls 
Annoyed 
Often cynical 
He would nonetheless 
Face his humiliation 
With a rare bravery 
One day 
One of his sons 
Wrote on a piece of paper 
‘GULAG’ 
And stuck it on the wall 
Of his office 
He snarled 
At his sons sense of humour 
Because by Christ 
It felt like one 

Colchester, April 2007 






Mark Anthony Pearce lives and works as a Receptionist in Bristol, England. His poetry has been published in University of Essex Poetry Journal, BS Poetry Magazine and online, Inefável, Coronaverses, Winamop, Horror Sleaze Trash, Duane’s PoeTree & Piker Press. Mark’s writing has also featured in ‘Anne Bean: Self Etc’ (Live Art Development Agency and Intellect Books, Autumn 2018) 






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Gaby Bedetti – 2 POEMS

Motion

You speed through

the Minotaur’s labyrinth

hoping to avoid the monster.

The motor responds.

You have another

someplace to go.

You look into the wind,

a lop-eared hound

head out the window.

Complicit,

the GPS tracks your

departures and arrivals.

In your sonic life,

you are the hip hero pointing

toward the next adventure,

the lover with the ball
of thread to navigate

​the labyrinth.

~

Her Final Email

 

Days you stayed in bed.

Migraines. Texas heat

and medications

made you sweat. And then

another week had slipped away,

unlike your chores and wishes.

 

At your desk, a compost heap

of essays. You even began grading

and then Shadow would sigh

to say it was past feeding time

and you abandoned them. You called

him the best dog in the present world.

 

One son announced he was moving back

so you removed the sewing machine

from his room. You then grew angry

with your husband for leaving.

The other son mentioned downsizing

and you heard nursing home.

 

Your grandchildren were delightful.

In your final email, you acknowledged

you were lucky, but only so far.

And soon after, the fatal dose.

We could have reunited,

here in Kentucky or there in Texas.

 

We could have remembered,

and renewed, our luck.

 

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CAROL CASEY – 2 POEMS

Navigating the Ocean

I crave you like oxygen sometimes,
as if I couldn’t breathe without you and
this terrifies me, makes me want to
push you away, prove something,
find the key that unlocks this tether, set
you free, to go away but come back, choose
as if there was a choice,
as if I could become amphibious, grow
some gills, maybe a tail to navigate
the oceans of the loss of setting you free and not
drown; or possibly build a raft, to float above,
but not so far that I’ll miss your hand reaching
up out of the water to come aboard, in case
I can save you, as humans rarely do;
or maybe there will be a sunset and a night
when the ocean grows moon and stars
while a gentle current transports me to
somewhere my love for you is not so full
of need, will be refined of dross, capable
of anything.

The phone is ringing.
Maybe it’s you.

 

~

Spoiler Alert

There’s no escaping the constant whirs,
hums, chugs and buzzes of summer,
like birdsong, in variety and nuance,
but less conversation, more dictation,
as if to an old fashioned stenographer-
get this down, condense the languorous
signals of summer to shorthand,

We shorten grass, shrink hedges,
embarrass pieces of wood with hammers,
(to drown out the woodpeckers)
interrupt the lifespan of recalcitrant
weeds, till them under, nip and tuck.
Each hum, buzz, whir, chug
a jigsaw piece of putting nature

in her place, a pissing upon,
a tiny fist raised in defiance of ice-
storms, blizzards, microbes, death.
We oil and tighten, plug in and refuel
until the entropy of it catches up
in the end while the birds have
their say during the intermission.

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John Anthony Fingleton – Moorlands

Moorlands

A soft wind blew across the moor,
And the heather danced in tune,
Some grouse flew up to test the air,

Then snuck back, into its sweet perfume.
A sparrow hawk circled low,
In anticipation of its prey,
Then attracted by some other thing;
It quickly flew away.

A beauty haunts this desolate place,
With its contours shaped by ice,
Where beasts can still roam wild and free –
A small touch of paradise.
Bracken on the moor-edge slopes,
Mixed flora in the glens,
All produce their radiant colours,
Without the help or seed of men.

The walkers-path is overgrown,
Not many came this year,
The changes in the weather,
Have brought many summer storms to Clare.
There are some patches now of topsoil,
I hadn’t noticed at first glance,
Just a small sign – like so many others –
That we are on our final chance.

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Julia Gerhardt – The Invisible Stranger

The Invisible Stranger

I love lying,

in my own bed,

with my hands

stretched above my head

and my fingers barely touch one another—

as if they are unfamiliar,

as if they are unknown to the rest of me.

And now it’s not just a touch, but a graze,

an affectionate line drawn onto one finger

by the other.

I wait.

The line ends

and becomes a hook,

an unwillingness to part;

a stage to go through,

a grief.

I don’t want to let go

of the unfamiliar hand,

lying next to mine

The invisible stranger,

I hope to see again.

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Alexus Erin – MAKING SANDWICHES

Making Sandwiches

Me & my brain are making sandwiches for the first time in years
& I remember
I like sourdough. I wonder
whose hands made the bread & if this cooking,

this creation, is a kind of holiness. My brain laughs.
We’re having a sleepover on a school night
& I wonder
whose mother authorized it

By the grace of God
I am with my brain
& by the grace of God,
this brain’s a scrappy one

Which is to say, she is still sprinting: I’m impressed-
she did a lot of math this month. I joke that
she looks like she’s here
to eff the party up.

Brain tells Body (my body’s here too)
The first rule
of any effective love practice
is to synthesize its thoughtwork

with its bodywork: “Classic
substance-presence query, honeybee,” she sighs
& I know
that sigh was for me

I tell them, “First rule
of the big city
is to mind ya own damn business.” My body sets up
a cot at the foot of my bed

Gingerly removes her stockings, that they won’t rip
& I know
mishandling must be a violence
in which the body keeps score. She, of all people,

must be keeping score- I could stand
to learn a thing or two from this inclination
of tenderness, alone
My mouth, every morning,

famously reaching,
rooting ‘round any regional iteration of the daylight
To inhale a verbose evidence
& then exhale, like

my photosynthesis must be scheduled
to kick in any day now
As though this were the only thing
I knew how to do

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Douglas Collura – Her Third Date After a Twenty-Five Year Marriage

Her Third Date After a Twenty-Five Year Marriage

 

 

She says, “Look. The rain’s harder now.”

I say, “Yes, but the theater’s close.”

She thumbs a path across

her melting glass.

 

Her daughter in third-year law.

Her granddaughter a swan.

When did I say I believed

in anyone’s tomorrow?

 

Her cupped hands; lines

connect, curve, cross,

predict nothing. She stares

into the passing moment.

 

“I never thought I’d be this person,”

she says, “never this alone.

I’m afraid sometimes, though

it’s nice not to be second guessed.”

 

My bedroom a chaos of shadows.

She’s unsure what comes next.

Then her legs clamp my hips,

and her mouth finds my neck.

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HOLLY DAY – BLUE CAR

Blue Car

The car appeared outside the house, as if by magic

dropped from the sky into a pile of snow, tire tracks obliterated by fresh snow.

A sleeping bag blocked the back window completely, candy wrappers

could be seen on the front seat.

After a couple of days, my neighbor came over and asked me if it was my car

if I wouldn’t mind moving it so that her nephew could park there. I told her

how the car had just appeared in that spot, and that I didn’t think anyone

had come back for it since its arrival, although

I thought I saw a couple of people sitting in the front seat very late the night before

hands frantically moving in the dim overhead light

but it may have been a dream.

A week or so later, a tow truck came and got the car, probably called by my neighbor

the one who came over or perhaps a different one entirely

the spot where the car had been parked was black and green with oil and antifreeze

dirty snow and a couple of smashed beer cans. I watched the car get pulled

backwards down the street, waited for a door to fling open angrily

in the car or in a neighboring house, but no one came out after the car

no one chased the truck frantically down the street.

 

 

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