Two Poems by Susan Gray

SUSAN GRAY

The Dopamine Fiend

The dopamine fiend loses her buzz
Her prefrontal cortex to derail
In a tunnel of absolute
To silence
Contemplate the present
To strip
Avoidance anesthesia
To expose
Chugging vacuum void
No pithy exchange to expend
Nothing flashes, none to speak
Synaptic siding
Not to join at the golden spike
His words lost steam
She uncoupled hers
To climb
Over the influence
To love
Is not to be high

Kiss
It was only because the sunlight took a longer path
That the morning air scattered the violet and blue
That the windshear billowed the altocumulus
Or the distant rain cascaded in fallstreaks
It was only the drawing of Cupid’s Bow
The pressing of vermillion
Deglutition’s organ playing sweetly
In the oral vestibule
Souls bonded through free-range chemicals
It was only because together, we had discovered death

Susan Gray is a graduate of Emporia State University currently working as a high school journalism teacher. She has published articles in newspapers and magazines.

Two Poems by Natasha Chari

NATASHA CHARI

When She Came

He may have changed and
I am not sure that I
Remember him as he really was.
I have not set eyes on him
Since one Autumn long ago.
I do not remember when.

He was beautiful though
And fixed – I thought.
We built a house with a fence around
A section of levelled lawn;
I wanted his body and craved his soul.
And then she came

And long-lost objects sprung
From unfamiliar places;
They clanged, for hours, with clarity
Then fell about….laughing
Mocking with mischief,
Our transience, our difference,
That became too quickly,
Indifference.

Jessica

And You, Jessica,
How does it feel now
To be your Father’s daughter?
Daughter of that most tragic
And celebrated Jew!
Did you think your prospects sweeter –
That with a gentile’s pact
Your past would be expunged;
With a gentle kiss
Your girlhood pain undone?

And Jessica, did you take part in the pleasure,
When they were reconciled
With their souvenirs,

And when they took your father’s life?

Is your son Lorenzo’s
Or Abraham’s?

Here,
The Tragedy
Begins.

Natasha Chari is a GP in North London. She divides her time equally between clinical work, research and free lance writing.

Payer le Café – poem by Lee Nash

LEE NASH

Payer le café

I took a lover the colour of coffee,
a red wine stain on his neck,
who gathered girolles in the forest,
butchered boar, brought home fresh black bass
and drank Ricard with grenadine and ice.

Reeled in I was, as he could cook
a mushroom omelette to perfection,
would never leave a lightbulb on,
replaced the lids of felt-tip pens and taught me
words I didn’t know: déboussolé,

which means de-compassed, lost, the needle
flitting nervously to find its north.
Rebellious, I rejected this lodestone,
repelled the animal magnetism
(in search of my lodestar),

because it’s the little things that
drive you mad. The way he’d inch his chair
in my direction: I would smile
(still looking for affection) yet inwardly
cringe and shout – give me some bloody space!

Heavy, but he got the message,
packed the suitcase not so long unpacked,
took his parfum de dimanche and comb,
searched the wardrobe for his short-sleeve shirts,
and left. Je vais te payer le café.

Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editorial designer for a UK publisher. Her poems have appeared in magazines and e-zines in the UK, the US and France including The French Literary Review, The Lake, Inksweatandtears and Silver Birch Press.

Three Poems by Tom Pescatore

Climbing

I.
A short
rainbow sprinkled
madness

run from
the drone
of hallucination

spy the mountaineer
in high wool socks,
shibuya boots lined
in red, heavy pack,
red bandanna,
leaning forward
peers over edge
one foot raised to peak,

“it’s in your head,
this vision.”

II.
a falling pebble
clacks on cliff side
drops 7000 feet

where it lands
where it came from

there’s no difference

life is life.

III.
thoughts
gouge out
circles in your
mind

indifferent glances
toward the ground

there are rocks
in your gut
emitting light

As a Dog Barks

The Hunt
by Dexter Gordon?

usually don’t guess
right but

that’s what’s playing:

July 4th 2014

8:53 am

my phone turns itself
off during that night,
never the day

day looks like rain, but
it’s not raining

I shit, shower

head doesn’t hurt any longer.

I should get a beer, I says,
I’m a writer, it would make sense.

I don’t. I hear children playing outside,

I left my window cracked, the gray
sky leaks inside, now
everything is gray

this doesn’t feel like independence

a strange metallic sound outside,
car, sounds off,

these guys (Filipino & Mexican
guys) are always out working on
their cars, I don’t know enough
to know what they’re doing,

I missed out on that part of manhood.

I’ve held a pen,
typed instead.

Sun peeks through clouds off-screen

it’s all starting to look different

it’s July 4th, 9:38am

I’m typing poems as a dog barks.

Postulate

I cont-
inue t-
o cha-
se afte-
r things
that run
away,

blindly, I am
feeling and m-
easuring, groping
and assuring
myself of right
choices, wrong
roads,

I look back
and years have
gone–knowing
there is something
chasing me too–
grim and black–
seething–

I am gambling on it
never catching up,

I know I’ll lose that bet,
but I’ve forgotten
how to stop running
forward–I’ve forgotten
which way my life’s
supposed to lead–
so I just go

tethered to shadows
maybe, maybe to
a lingering dream,

as long as I don-
‘t stop to think about
it, I should be fine.

Tom Pescatore grew up outside Philadelphia dreaming of the endless road ahead, carrying the idea of the fabled West in his heart. He maintains a poetry blog: amagicalmistake.blogspot.com. His work has been published in literary magazines both nationally and internationally but he’d rather have them carved on the Walt Whitman bridge or on the sidewalks of Philadelphia’s old Skid Row.

Prognosis – a poem by Laura Solomon

LAURA SOLOMON

Prognosis

Ten years, they say, give or take a few.
Well, what’s a few years between friends
Or between me and the Big Guy – you know What’s His Name.

Fickle – if I were God I’d judge me.
Who do you think you are, ignoring me for years then knocking at my door in your hour of need?

I’d find me wanting, needy, self-indulgent, wallowing in self-pity in the face of illness,
Rather than Hey, embracing life, living for the moment, staying healthy, staying well,
Eating right and exercising every day.

I know your brain’s being eaten away, but please just try and stay positive.

Life is short, art is long.
Here it is, my insignificant attempt at living forever,
My long shot at immortality.

The arrow flies from the bow, but bent,
Falling far short of the mark.

Hark, the dogs are barking
I walk down poetry’s street,
Wearing my glad rags, my corduroy gown,
How enterprising.

Mostly, the townspeople just ignore me,
Sometimes they throw crusts of bread, or rocks –
A tough hide, that’s what you need in this game.

How to tackle life’s mysterious twists.
How to respond when events go wrong –
The parachute fails,
The chooks won’t lay,
The house catches fire and is razed to the ground.

How to respond in the here and now.
Can you hear me now?

Everybody takes a one way ticket
From the cradle to the grave.

Imagine living backwards,
Rising from the grave like a zombie,
Shaking off the worms,
Fattening out of your elderly thinness,
Hitting middle aged spread,
Back, back to the birth of your twins,
Back further to your first marriage,
Then – a growth spurt in reverse –
Sudden shrinkage,
From the teenage years,
Regressing through boyhood, with its bullying and its taunts –
To infancy, your toddling years,
The experimentation with colours and shapes,
Then to your teething,
All those hours spent gnawing on rusks
Till the fangs break through.

Then inside your mother’s walls
Into the womb, nestled in there like a bean,
All sustenance delivered through the umbilical cord.

Circular – at the end, return to the start,
The seven ages in reverse,
Ten years they say, give or take a few –
Do the pearly gates await – or eternal flames;
Who do I think I am – Ozymandias?

If you take the time to read this,
I still live.

Laura Solomon’s books include Black Light, Nothing Lasting, Alternative Medicine, An Imitation of Life, Instant Messages, The Theory of Networks, Operating Systems, Hilary and David, In Vitro and The Shingle Bar Taniwha and Other Stories. She has won prizes in Bridport, Edwin Morgan, Ware Poets, Willesden Herald, Mere Literary Festival, and Essex Poetry Festival competitions. She was short-listed for the 2009 Virginia Prize and the 2014 International Rubery Award and won the 2009 Proverse Prize. She has had work accepted in the Edinburgh Review and Wasafiri (UK), Takahe and Landfall (NZ). She has judged the Sentinel Quarterly Short Story Competition.

Internal Cold – To Allen. Poem by Yuan Changming

YUAN CHANGMING

Internal Cold: To Allen

While the summer sun is shining
Through the whole universe, it fails
To penetrate your yellowish skin to
Dispel the harsh winter within your
Body. Yes, just as Dr Zhuo Tongnian says

Ever since you caught a cold at the age
Of eight, the coldness has occupied
Your inner being, especially your spine
Where it has frozen the balanced flow of
Your qi and blood, thus making your disks bulge
Or herniate. That’s why you must raise the sun

Above the horizon; raise it high, Son, higher with
Each persistent try against your inner sky
To soften all the coldness within your base chakra
To make the whole winter melt completely until all
Your meridians become soft, warm, resilient

Yuan Changming, 8-time Pushcart nominee and author of 5 chapbooks (including Kinship [2015] and The Origin of Letters [2015]), began to learn English at 19 and published monographs on translation before moving to Canada. Currently editing Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan in Vancouver, Changming has since mid-2005 had poetry appearing in 1059 literary publications across 36 countries, including Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, London Magazine and Threepenny Review.

Two Poems by Eleni Cay

ELENI CAY

Thymus serpyllum

Some years ago, we did not know
how to act on love.

Blinded, we succumbed
to the promise of an American Happy End.

Over the years, the deep red of creeping thyme
grew over quartz bedrocks.

Now we just carry on what others have started.

After a quick rise, the rock is broken-hearted.

Lovers in autumn

The scent of cherry blossoms still lingers
on the muddy pavement.

We may never see each other again
or you may become my best friend.

We may pretend that brings less pain.
Either way- losing colour is not the end.

All autumn trees know that.

Eleni Cay’s first collection, ”A butterfly’s shivering in the digital age” was published in 2013, after she won a national poetry competition in her native country Slovakia. The collection is currently being translated into French and German. Her English language poems featured in MK Calling in 2013 and 2015, appeared in anthologies and have also been recreated as poetryfilms and dancepoems, repeatedly selected as the ‘best poetry videos on the web’.

Rutilo’s Lament – a poem by Craig Kurtz

CRAIG KURTZ

Rutilio’s Lament

“ I’ll no more whoring:
This fencing ’twixt a pair of sheets, more wears one
Than all the exercise in the world besides.”
— John Fletcher & Philip Massinger, The Custom of the Country.

Once I wanted all the maids
to be an infinite repast;
now I crave a hebetude
of sober rest, and a saint’s fast.

Ah, the stockings and the skirts
and panties underneath — such mirth;
the bouncing loins, bemoistured so,
and what this all to me was worth.
The lusty lips, the fragrant sighs,
the ululations, moans and jerks;
such bewitchments I relished,
the thirsting for such fireworks.
Coquettish eyes, how they beguiled
my wanton pressures, atomized;
such exploding modesties
I did ravish, hypnotized.
But now, my testicles are dimmed
and my hamstrings do parlous ache;
my neck is cricked, my back undone
for too much nonny-nonny’s sake.
Fie, these wenches wear me out,
I need a surgeon for my tongue;
one more trollop and I swear
my ardor trumped, my manhood hung.
Perhaps my love’s an opium
that witches hollow for surfeit;
how I wish a bed was made
for only peace; nay, sleep — ’tis better yet.
My flesh is dulled, my lust curdled
and all desire requests a rest;
if only wine would be water
and books might be my next conquest.
Give me crossword puzzles, please,
instead of corsets and brassieres;
another minute’s coitus
will certes shorten me by years.
I’ll exchange nights riotous
for anything vapid and staid;
no more whoring, have mercy,
and show you love me with first aid.

Once I wanted all the maids
for an uncompromising jest;
now I crave a quiet life
with one fair dame, who would’ve guessed?

Craig Kurtz has vexed the intelligentsia since the 1981 release of The Philosophic Collage. Although recent work appears in The Madras Mag Anthology of Contemporary Writing, The Same, Sheepshead Review and Tower Poetry, many others would just as soon string him up. He resides, uneasily, at Twin Oaks Intentional Community.

Two Poems by Abigail George

ABIGAIL GEORGE

The Brides of Climate Change

I think of mountains and of dogs.
The veins branching out in both.
I think of indigenous trees.
How they grow in codes or not at all.
Swiftly in heat or not at all in cold.
Then I think of you. How I call you
Loss, humiliation, (you are static).
Ongoing electricity. I do not want
To remember the mess you left
Behind. I want to forget Johannesburg.
I sleep under my desk writing
In a journal always trying to reach
You but never getting that far.

I think of the fresh air of mountains.
I think of the breath of dogs on the hunt.
I think of the verdigris on trees.
I think of losing a beloved and a death.
A death in the family from cancer.
A woman I hardly knew but was family.
I think of her in her sleep while I walked in streets.
Knowing that she was dying losing
Her knee-length hair that felt like silk
While I became better sane.
Does she remember any of these things?
Washed by strange hands.
Intent is my middle name.

I see rhinos and dodos. The infirm.
In my imagination. Nothing can put
Them back together again.
Nothing can bring them the elderly
Back to life again. I think of the poachers.
I think of extinction. In the same way
Some parts of me are extinct.
The parts that did not receive
Electroshock therapy treatment.
In the same way that I have experienced loss
The world around me is experiencing
Climate change. I can tell you now
That humanity is an endangered species.

Little shark teeth marks

There is an Easter shine on your face
A chocolate hollow Easter egg.
Your fingers are warm, brown and sticky
Your smile breaks my heart
Because I do not have a child of my own
People are always sharing their children
With me.

I will be thirty-six this year.
No university degree and no children.
Only infertility knocking at the door
Like paranoia. You bloom on the patio.
I hope people do not do to you
What they have done to me in the past
Scholar of trivia.

Your love terrifies me like the
Napkins, the butterflied lamb
On the dining room table. The wine
Is my enemy. You are my talking lampshade.
Bright like the countryside.
You will inherit what I have inherited.
Journals. The sea.

Abigail George is a feminist and a South African poet and writer. She contributed to a symposium in Finland for a year (Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine). She is the recipient of two writing grants from the National Arts Council, Johannesburg, one from the Centre for the Book, Cape Town and ECPACC (Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council), East London, South Africa. Winter in Johannesburg, a collection of short stories, is her latest book and is available as an electronic version on Amazon.

Two Poems by Dominic James

Dominic James
The Follower

He limps along on no blanched foot,
no dab of pitch to mar his looks
nor feverish rapacity,
no pimp, plays more the cool, card sharp

dealing out the negatives
from the bottom of his pack:
a bag of nails for everyone.
The copy of a man well-met

who first appears, to men in war,
a follower. A character
sometimes seen around the fire
he passes by, familiar

barely noticed at first sight -
or greets each man in his own tongue,
easy with the right inflection,
as though he took them all for fools

but men must parlay, as a rule
nights are long when fears enclose
the spine engrafted on to sleep.
He seldom is the first to speak.

Between the hiss and glow of fires
considered then, more than a spy
more one of their own company,
a stranger from on down the line.

Beside this timeless flickering
he casts about the counsel flames’
barbed shadows in the smoky air
of orange, in the bloody cold

has leave to pass without a word,
taken for another soldier
duty bound, left undisturbed
and proved no man to talk to.

Wednesday’s Child

The same lawn toys are still outside
for downstairs boy is now too ill;
the paper’s peeled away in strips,
the kettle: broken weeks ago.
Isolation is a bag of tricks
now Tallulah’s come, since when
my time is hers, and love
unwinds in increments.

At my sill, blue-painted poles
stand on guard in the gardens,
bounded by silent houses.
Season by season, they seem
to swell, press even harder-in.

No easy path this time of year,
on the empties weeds grow over.
The lift’s carriage doors run-to;
its ageing pulleys grind to start
iron gates slide shut, shut fast.

My fingers on the chair arm drum,
I am waiting on my final cue
and at the crucial moment, flag.
The stage was set months ago.

My heart hooked on the last
high note of Miles’s gallows horn,
time drags on his dying blast -
the wait has been too long.
A weary patience plays me out.

©2016 – Dominic James
‘The Follower’ and ‘Wednesday’s Child’ were commended and highly commended respectively in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2015) judged by Oz Hardwick.