Three Poems

Beaver’s Pick
Jenny Hockey


Photo Credit: stupidmommy/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Waking Up in Someone Else’s House

7.15, not too bad
and bright North Sea light
edging through the shutters.

The floor will be cold, I know—
not the floor but a granite hearth
under my side of the bed.

Nose into socks and tread right round
to the door. All the lights still on. Heating
not yet. But sun tumbles down the stairs

and a city discovers the shape of today.

Into the kitchen, a crunch of crumbs
and ease the curtains back, set Remy
scrabbling in his cage.

An odour of something
under the floorboards, here and there—
a kindred rodent at peace

Find a clean cup.

 

Unreliable Witness

I know that I cried—
I was your child,
but whether the nurse
took hold of my hand
or I took hold of hers
I forget.

I know she called me at 3 am

when the four-lane road
to the Humber Bridge
was mine.

Did she say you were poorly?
I know she lied, your pillowed face
already wax,

your forehead
skimmed by my lips
in the end.

 

Cambridge, June 1969

Elder thickened daily in the yard,
putting pressure on the windows.
It needed hacking back.

I was elbow deep, awash
in tiny bibs and socks,
cold feet on the quarry tiles.

Elder thickened nightly in the yard
muffling the strains of May Ball bands
a thousand miles away.

I was swagging nappies
on my shoulder, losing pegs
among the weeds.

pencilJenny Hockey‘s poems range from the sad to the surreal to the celebratory. A retired anthropologist, she takes an oblique view of the ups and downs of everyday lives. In 2013 she received a New Poets Award from New Writing North, Newcastle, UK and, after magazine and anthology publications from 1985 onwards, Oversteps Books published her debut collection, Going to Bed with the Moon, in 2019. Twitter: @JHockey20 Email: j.hockey[at]sheffield.ac.uk

Decades as Seasons

Poetry
DJ Tyrer


Photo Credit: Jesús GR/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

The decades seem like seasons to me.
The ‘Eighties a winter of contentment:
Dark and dreary with rain and snow
Yet warm with love and comfort.
The ‘Nineties a long, hot summer of the soul:
Bright and hot with sunbaked ground
And a drought of security and comfort.
But the next decade is a blur:
Maybe autumn is the metaphor
Decline and a haze of mist and falling leaves.
Now I might be in the spring:
Is this a period of rejuvenation
Or is the year about to come to an end
As the seasons finally die with me?

pencilDJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing, and has been published in issues of Amulet, California Quarterly, Carillon, The Dawntreader, Haiku Journal, The Pen, and Tigershark, and online at Atlas Poetica, Bindweed, Poetry Pacific, and Scarlet Leaf Review, as well as releasing several chapbooks, including the critically acclaimed Our Story. The echapbook One Vision is available from Tigershark Publishing’s website. SuperTrump and A Wuhan Whodunnit are available to download from the Atlantean Publishing website. Email: djtyrer[at]hotmail.co.uk

Two Poems

Poetry
Liam Tait


Photo Credit: Eelco/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

washing dishes

I was washing the dishes.
I scrubbed, lathered, rinsed.

My hands grabbed each plate in turn, then felt them all over—abrasively, I’d scrape the sponge. When the grime didn’t come off, I’d put it to the side and let it soak.

Once, I was washing this blue plate, blue like turquoise, like the ocean,
blue like the color green—only you couldn’t tell, it was so dirty.

So I scraped it with the sponge—and the dirt came right off—so I poured soap onto the sponge.
And I lathered, and cleaned, and lathered, and the soap had filled the sink, as soap does,

but I saw something I had never seen before—not the bubbles, each isolated and unique,
but the borders between them, the connections, white lace, pouring out—

I saw that these white lines created everything,
that while my two-dimensional perception could do nothing to perceive the entirety, the bubbles, at least,

had never been there.

 

lace and soapshine

We have arrived—a motionless journey.

Soap bubbles float among the bathwater. Yeah, we are individuals created individually in the smithies, tanneries, foundries and canneries—in the segments of our lives.

We relate like soapshine bubbles, so greasy and bordered, and we change only in size, not shape. Out of touch, we can see nothing but white lace: where are you?

Of course we clutch at loved ones. One segmentation we can’t let go: lovers. But love requires privilege, yeah commitment means we don’t leave unless we leave forever.

Happy, pleased, to have a partner. We are individuals, soap bubbles on bathwater.
How lucky that one has chosen us and not another, how lucky are they to be chosen?

Soapshine clinging through white lace.

We have arrived—a motionless journey.

White lace—soapshine bubbles—floats over and above the bathwater. Yeah, we appear individuals, created from intersections—segmentations from li[v/n]es of interaction.

We exist in relation, like the white lace of lather, we’d rather always be changing size and shape—intermingling. Pain comes, joy comes—we keep track of love through lace.

Love is a lace. Lovers come, lovers go—a lover left is not a love ended. Yeah, not unconditional, but commitment is to the lace, not the bubble. When you leave forever we will miss you.

Happy, pleased, to have partners. The lace is strong—relations lead to more relations—stops and starts in sex, friendship, love, if those are places to stop and start. Segmentations, intersections:

we are lace. We are
soapshine clinging through white lace.

pencilLiam Tait is a writer and acrobat from Michigan. When he is not upside down, he is writing; he does not recommend writing while upside down. Email: lhtait[at]gmail.com

Three Poems

Poetry
W. Joseph O’Connell


Photo Credit: Ken Lund/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Incision

I deny myself
the pleasure
that comes from her…
things she did for me

swimming every morning,
cutting myself at night
therapy is happening,
in softness of heart

thought occurs to me…
try to find the help I need,
because I know
it is the knot in my stomach
and the scars
that need healing

 

There is No Reason Why

I feel like screaming
not knowing who I am
stopped being myself
even before I went to Iraq

today was hard
a doctor asked me to describe what I remember about the explosion that killed four soldiers
I think about that night all the time,
a nightmare I have lived with for more than ten years
struggling to stay in control of my emotions
numbing myself with alcohol and pills

nighttime, my usual walk through the neighborhood
realizing I was having a suicidal ideation
I didn’t consciously start having that thought,
it occurred to me by surprise

next day,
out of bed before the sun rises
then all day at work
the dread of going back to the house
the scenario I wanted to avoid
an all or nothing kind of life

every setback is a catastrophe
I am exhausted
when I get home,
I take a painkiller and lay down to sleep
awakening fourteen hours later
thank God, it is Saturday

 

Head Trip

Early morning, Sunday under the Florida sun
reflecting on the weekend
heading back home for Texas
first time I didn’t drink in a while
it takes all day to cross the sunshine state

I stop in Pensacola for fried-chicken dinner
then the long haul through the pinewood South,
bridges over green lakes and swampland
bugs splattering against the windshield keep me awake
something in me seems to ask myself, why am I trying so hard?

crazy, moving forward,
volunteering for every conflict that came along
twenty years in the service
anything can be justified to keep myself grounded
feeling everything and nothing at the same time

marriage was the first casualty of war
now the house is empty, and the miles traveled are lonesome
all that is left is an idea that I am destined to be alone
the road at night remains my best friend
as always, it lets me pretend I’m still the hero

pencilW. Joseph O’Connell is a writer living in Texas.  After serving combat tours in Iraq in 2007 and 2011, he was retired from the Army in 2020 for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He has published two novels, render, and dd 214. Twitter: @wjosephoconnell Email: bill_oconnell1968[at]yahoo.com

Souvenir

Poetry
Jenny Hockey


Photo Credit: solarnu/Flickr (CC-by-nd)

I found a Chinese baby’s shoe
with a bell to warn off mice

that’s smaller by far
than any shoe I’ve worn

and holds only the ghost
of my fat-toed child’s first pair,

one lost on a roadside verge,
one kept.

pencilJenny Hockey‘s poems range from the sad to the surreal to the celebratory. A retired anthropologist, she takes an oblique view of the ups and downs of everyday lives. In 2013 she received a New Poets Award from New Writing North, Newcastle, UK and, after magazine and anthology publications from 1985 onwards, Oversteps Books published her debut collection, Going to Bed with the Moon in 2019. Twitter: @JHockey20 Email: j.hockey[at]sheffield.ac.uk

Five Poems

Poetry
Mandy Haggith


Photo Credit: ccdoh1/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Foxglove

Lynn’s brush
is delivering a foxglove,
a vixen
birthing a cub,
lick by lick,
onto the paper.

Hush settles.

Lynn’s brush
is smoothing the surface
until the foxglove
is perfectly reflected
in the still pool
of the page.

 

Tree fern (Dicksonia antarctica)
for David Sandum

Is it you I hear, here in fernshade,
showing me how the stump has grown
from scales, each fanned and fallen year
etched so we won’t forget?

We won’t forget. I come and go
with my weakening grief. You reach out
from a hockey-stick trunk, unfurl
a fiddler’s joie-de-vivre, let work drop away.

Drop away below. Here, light
is caught, sequestered, treasured,
shared in silver-backed shadows.

I hear your voice (‘Better get on’),
see how we shall carry on,
follow the guiding arrow of a frond.

 

Matsukaze

Monday
an onshore breeze
discussed in whispers
by twisted pines

Tuesday
missing my mother
hush say the pines
we understand

Wednesday
listened to the pines
dancing with wind all night
not sleeping at all

Thursday
I perfect the art
of pining
under quiet pines

 

Home

Robin in the rowan
casts snippets of gossip,
a crystal commentary
on this blue morning.

Hoar melts on rushes.
Frogs and newts splash in the pond
as if they haven’t heard
the forecast of frost.

Great tits and blackbirds flutter
the way people walked the marches,
boundary checking,
territory testing.

Badger, jaunty wood-snuffler,
you turn your head
and your bright black-button eyes
seem unafraid of me.

All of this
makes me feel
welcome.

 

January

The days are short, nights long.
Sun drops from below cloud.
Low-angled light

shafts
through
skeleton
trees,
all
still
resting.

Already the tide
has reached its nadir,
lapping, lapping at the rocks of the year.

pencilMandy Haggith lives in Assynt, Scotland, and teaches Literature and Creative Writing at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Her books include four poetry collections, most recently Why the Sky is Far Away (Red Squirrel Press 2019), a tree poetry anthology, a non-fiction book about paper and five novels. Email: hag[at]mandyhaggith.net

A Wall Of Pictures

Broker’s Pick
Madeleine Claire


Photo Credit: Tim Crowe/Flickr (CC-by)

A wall of pictures
was the reminder of a life built
throughout many years.
In the pretty, white frames
was the pretty family
on holidays,
at weddings,
at parties,
kids’ faces pressed against the glass,
a chronological display of their diaper days
to rosy, freckled cheeks beaming with lost teeth
to moodier, reluctant expressions in photos where
their parents forced them to smile for the camera,
to detach from their phones
for just one minute.

A wall of pictures
served as proof and passage
into the classification as “perfect, suburban family.”
It was a trophy mounted for all to see,
screaming, “Look at how happy we are!”
as guests could admire adoring wedding photos
and adorable baby pictures
and lament
the days when their children
still lived at home,
ruefully eyeing the Lego
splattered around the carpet,
or the sink full of greasy, cold water
from last night’s dishes
that had driven them crazy when their own children
had made a similar mess in the house
but now wished to see again.

But a wall of pictures
could not show that the mother
woke up to a cold bed,
the pillow next to her
still plump from the absence of a husband’s body.
A wall of pictures could not show
the nights he had been spending
at a friend’s,
or the looks of sadness and hatred
that they passed when they did see each other,
unlike the wedding pictures organised on the wall,
where their eyes overflowed with
the promise of spending a life together.
A wall of pictures could not show
the slow, pained steps the mother took
as she crawled into the kitchen for coffee
after another sleepless night,
nor the letter that lay waiting on the mat of the front door,
asking for a divorce.

pencil

Madeleine Claire is a young writer from Calgary, Canada. When not writing or reading, she can be found in the mountains getting inspiration for her next piece or simply climbing trees, and occasionally getting stuck in them, too! Email: madeleinee.claire[at]gmail.com

“Every meal begins with your hands”

Poetry
Simon Perchik


Photo Credit: Jonas Tana/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Every meal begins with your hands
dry and around your forehead
squeezes into its hiding place

—in such a darkness both shoulders
slump forward till they hear
the tablecloth pulled closer

fed air and a shirt collar
left open, waiting to lie down
where a plate should be —it’s the sound

your fingers make when drop by drop
a makeshift lake is pieced together
from a missing vase —wherever you eat

it’s night, still wet, bending over
and hand to hand breathe in the smoke
from a chair no longer there

—you eat from a chimney, reach up
with your eyes covered by a bedsheet
still warm from roses and ash.

pencil

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Reflection in a Glass Eye published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2020. For more information including free e-books and his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website. To view one of his interviews please follow this link. Email: simon[at]hamptons.com

a brief history of my pubic hair

Poetry
Ann Pedone


Photo Credit: Steve/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

I.

I wanted him to want me more than
his ex I wanted him to keep fucking me maybe even
marry me so I ignored the voices of Gloria Stein
em and Judith Butler in my head and I
did it agreed to be waxed shaved smoothed
plucked and aloe
veraed I spread eagled myself on a table in a strip mall wax
ing center and opened my legs spread my legs held my legs
high behind my head and opened, when asked to, like a butter
fly

I told him it looked liked a drowned rat or a twelve
year old girl I told him I felt like a porn star at least from the
waist down but every month I called in my appoint
ment every month requested the one waxer who made me
feel a bit less uncomfort
able 18 appointments over 18 months until he
left me

my friends scolded me called me a stooge for the patri
archy questioned my feminist loyalties and asked me
how after twelve years of French post-structural post
colonial post-modern critical theory in grad school I could have
done such a thing I felt humiliated duped be
littled like I had succumbed to some
thing that I had vowed to
fight against

II.

six months later in a hotel room some
where on the mid-Peninsula my new boy friend my current
boyfriend asked me if I had ever seen the Courbet painting L’Origine
du monde

full-on center lies a woman stretched out on white
sheets naked mid-thigh to breasts legs open revealing a thing so
weirdly dark so lush and thick almost
irrational in its openness almost
obscene in its mystery so wild with possi
bility that you can’t take your eyes off
of it
right then and there I decided to
let it grow

over the following months I watched it monitored
its progress like a baby’s first steps washed and
dried it after every shower bought pairs of see
through panties so he could see the newly
sprouted hairs peeking through but I was nervous
what was he going to think would he
hate it ask me to shave it off leave me for some
one else

surprisingly it came in curlier than I
remembered looked blonde almost
in the sun light shimmered
like gold dust in the shower
and now it dances
when he is
on top of me
blooms when our bodies meet
is shy when he falls
asleep retains the
deep cypress scent of his skin
alive insatiate
a dark amber dark in the full
watery gathering that is my body

pencil

Ann Pedone is an independent scholar and writer who graduated from Bard College with a degree in English Literature. She has a Master’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature from UC Berkeley. Ann is the author of the chapbook The Bird Happened. More recently her work has recently appeared in Ornery Quarterly, Riggwelter, Main Street Rag, Poet head, and Cathexis Northwest, and The Wax Paper, among others. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Email: ann.pedone[at]gmail.com

Two Poems

Poetry
James Croal Jackson


Photo Credit: brx0/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Decade Dead

I exist in a perpetual state of thirst
and cold. I think I live in winter
and I don’t even like Christmas.

And I don’t like Christ, the dead
man left hanging. Were he to have
magic, that would be a good time.

And his rich Daddy. Abandonment
issues, for sure. My dad wasn’t
rich and he only abandoned me

when he was dead. Then was
the void of the voice. All
appliances in the house breaking.

My mother and I don’t know
shit about plumbing. Dad patched
pipes while I cast Raise on my

fallen Final Fantasy fellows.
It’s been ten years and there is
still everything to learn. That’s

ten years more of everything
I haven’t learned.

 

Red Lobster

The host stares blank pages at us,
mumbles in the vicinity of lobsters
in that overcrowded blue tank.

The waitress sings the menu,
points to CrabFest (overtures /
variations)—we are here,

always, for Cheddar Bay Biscuits,
the perpetual stream birthed in wire
baskets that make our intestines scream

minutes after paying
the check.

It is July 6th and fireworks explode
over trees
and, of course, we think them gunshots

because we are in a public parking lot,
our bodies full of grease that could drop
any minute in this America,

two-thousand-nineteen.

pencil

James Croal Jackson (he/him/his) is a Filipino-American poet. He has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and recent poems in Sampsonia Way, San Antonio Review, and Pacifica. He edits The Mantle Poetry and works in film production in Pittsburgh, PA. Email: jamescroaljackson[at]gmail.com