Two poems by Gary Beck

Nostalgia

Dissatisfied people
unhappy with poor choices,
lost opportunities,
aimlessly drifting,
often return
to place of birth,
sentimentally sad
they don’t find answers
why things went wrong.

 

 

Portrait V

Hedge fund operator
travels to his mega-yacht
in his limousine,
tinted windows shutting out
frightened faces of the jobless
worried about their next meal,
while he coos to his trophy wife
about the next billion.

 

 
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theatre. He has 11 published chapbooks. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways (Winter Goose Publishing). Perceptions, Displays, Fault Lines and Tremors, Conditioned Response (Nazar Look).

 

 

The End of Eating Everything – poem by Neil Ellman

The End of Eating Everything
 (Wangechi Mutu, animated video)
 
I am an omnivore
having eaten everything
all manner of animal, vegetable
mineral and machine
every element on the periodic table
cleaned down to their bones
and they to their subatomic souls
each planet in its turn
the stars and galaxies
dark matter and black holes
words too, and memories—
there is nothing left to eat
and I hunger for the past
when the universe could provide
sustenance enough for everyone
but I am now alone
with an empty belly
and nothing to appease.

 

 

Neil Ellman, is a poet from New Jersey.  Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize and twice for Best of the Net, he has published 1,200 poems in print and online journals, anthologies and chapbooks throughout the world.

Two Poems by J D DeHart

Ram’s Children

He lives on in the antlers
of the youth.
They remember his name
and tell stories about his
days in the office.
But not his days in the wild,
never his prancing and sharp
hooves, blunted by age
and child care.
They have photos of him
in his suit, but none in the field.

 

Elephant

Tries to put a ring on
but it does not work
Tries to move with grace
but tables are snapped
and legs are broken
Tries to blend in
but rises, bulbous, above
the crowd
Tries to hide the tusks,
the large ears, the trunk,
but it’s all there, observed.

 

 

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  He has recently been nominated for Best of the Net, and his chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available on Amazon.  DeHart also likes to feature the work of other poets on his blogs, one of which is spinrockreader.blogspot.com.

Untitled – by Simon Perchik

Untitled

*
Rubbed smooth from grave to grave
what this rock carries inside helps lift it
to see through – the dress, black

then silence then the shoulders
she was buried in, growing wild
the way every mountain bit by bit

waves goodbye as if its belly
is always empty, needs to be warmed
pulled closer, sleeves and all.
*
It has nothing to do with the banjo –this chair
aches for wheels that will rust, wobble
the way riverbeds grow into something else

–where there was a mouth, there’s now wet dirt
and with a single gulp the Earth is drained
by a compass that points to where it’s from

and you are eased room to room
as an endless sob drying in your throat
–you sing along till side by side

each wheel becomes that afternoon
that folded one hand over the other
as if for the last time
*
As if these gravestones were once a forest
between each there’s still the breeze
from wood and leaves and winter

though under your fingertips the initials
warm, are already stretching out
the way a beginner tree wants to be lit
*
then at its highest even in the cold
grows a small stone that will ripen
and stay red for the arrow

carved around two rivers and the heart
brought closer, smelling from the caress
that is not a blouse or its ashes.
*
Though the bed died during the night
this sheet is reaching for flowers
still warm from the last time they saw daylight
as one more hole in the Earth

–it’s for them you heat the room
with wood each morning heavier
breathing in the way you fill your arms
with sores no longer holding on

–this bed was left to die in the open
as the space between two pillows
that grieves with the ancient scent
cooling your lips among the ashes.
*
A spotless avalanche, minutes old
already bathed the way this rope
begins as rain then ponds

then oceans slowly covered with masts
from hard tall ships –you dead
still cling to the rocks and what’s left

when mourners leave too close to each other
–you stretch out though your arms
are now the endless undergrowth

half tied to shadows, half your slow descent
as if the sky was never enough, comes by
weaker and weaker till your breath

becomes weightless –say it! What you hear
is one stone telling the others who it loves
what it began so late in the afternoon.

 
Simon Perchik’s poetry has appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker and elsewhere.

Water Memory – poem by Jackie Gorman

Water Memory

The bottom untouched by sunlight,
heart shrinking down
as though the future isn’t real.
Nothing to hold on to.
Musty smell of the lake,
fish and forgotten hooks.
Boats on the horizon,
just the water before thought.
My hook snagged
in the want of this world.
A silent urge to be like water,
flowing yet strong enough to hold a ship.
I draw a fish in my notebook.

 

 
Jackie Gorman is from the midlands of Ireland. She has been published in Wordlegs, Headspace, Elephant Journal, Poetry Ireland Review and the Irish Times. She has been long-listed for the Erbaccae Poetry Prize, the Allingham Poetry Prize and the Dermot Healy International Poetry Award.In 2015, she was a prize winner in the Golden Pen Poetry Competition and was also highly commended in the Goldsmith International Poetry Competition and the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Awards. . Her work has appeared in the following anthologies ; “Ring Around The Moon”, edited by Noel Monahan, “Respond”, edited by Alan McMonagle and “Out the Clara Road”, edited by Rita Ann Higgins.

Three poems by Peter Rawlings

Post-mortem

Afterwards we looked out over the freight yards
at the rolling stock rusting,
clumps of ragwort the sole fling of softness
across the acres.
It was no place to go,
brick sheds the only hint of living
and the mesh of rails leading inwards
to more rails and points
and sleepers in long perspective
like a puzzle with no way out.

We forget nothing, they say,
and our day had been forced into remembrance
as we cleared out after a death,
and our lingering was the interim
before the new order.

The sorting:
belongings classified,
dispersed to another life
or death by skip.
To see the triteness of the drawers,
the files time-warped,
the in-between of the laundry basket,
the nullness of clothes poised in rows
made us feel like soulless apparatchiks.
Here was a life lived out,
and the tangle of stopped watches in a box
came upon us as an ugly trick.

History is an invention
and here it was on the spot
amongst the heaps,
a life made-up of bits and pieces
and closer to truth than usual.

The yards could not work up
their guttural sing-song of waggon shunts.
There was neither forwards nor backwards,
colonies of pallets unmoved for years
and a routine of nothing,

and it was the same elsewhere,
in cities, in suburbs,
in every mill town scattered like pepper
across the map.

 

Seeking Water
i.m. MJH

The sirens howled in the hot Bradford night
to burst its blackness; from Daisy Hill
we could see dots of bright pollen
they had scattered across the city.
Valleys of estates were lit up by noise.

He had driven south that evening
through Pateley Bridge, Otley, Bingley,
ley onto ley as if following someone else’s mind
into old sounds and sights
loosed by the mile.

He said the final hours had been spent
burning stubble after the yield.
The fields became a battleground
ridden by wind and flame,
their stalks shrivelled to dust,
all minute life charred and gone,
and a new landscape.
The earth spread before the landmen,
their torches doused, smoke still drifting,
and stores to nourish a long winter.

Beyond the wall where the hazel grows
he had found untouched
pliant rods perfect for working.
He knew enough to cut a cunning fork
and tune it to his uses,
to trace a way from deadened land
to new centres, clear waters.

 
Two Here

On top of the hill two dwellings
one occupant in each at this hour
separated.
There is not another house in sight
and no one expected.

No two can fill the same space.
She and I might as well be
iron and soil, an angle and a curve, stone and silk.
I watch a raven and a deer
eye each other in one field,
immiscibles opposite.

We have laid down our coordinates
walking back and forth, up and down,
inscribing maps more secure
than our houses,
our watches likewise synchronised
into entry, exit.

Only a small circle to draw around
and that would be it
joined

under the thickening dusk
as if nature has decided.

 

 
Peter Rawlings: His work has appeared in many journals including Agenda, Edinburgh Review, London Magazine, The North, Oxford Poetry, Stand, Warwick Review. A collection, The Humdrum Club, appeared recently from Poetry Salzburg. He lives and works in the South Pennines.

Getting to Yes at All Costs – poem by Scott Thomas Outlar

Getting to Yes at All Costs

My vices lead to balance
and paradise –
without them I would be
holier than thou
on a mountain peak
caught up with myself in silent Zen.

My vices are a grounding rod
here on earth –
each sip of red wine
is a perfect reminder
of the blood
that flows through my living veins.

My virtues could be
the death of me –
trying to appease them
leaves me hollow and empty;
I cannot give
more than I have,
lest I shrivel
and shrink away
into the lonely abyss
of sainthood gone awry.

My virtues are a forced smile
on cracked desert sand –
with each blistered laugh
I lose
a little part
of what makes me human.
The dry dirt
in my mouth
dehydrates asphyxiation
down my throat.

I must have my vices
to quell the thirst –
drinking deep
and long
of this world,
I become attuned
to the vibrations of mortal flesh
where I am saved
in the pure anarchy of reason.

My virtues drive me
further away
from humanity –
into solitude and depression,
into an overload of empathy,
into compassion beyond the pale.
I cannot survive
with an open heart
that bleeds, bleeds, bleeds,
hurts, hurts, hurts
all day, all night, forever.

My vices keep me calm
and steady –
always focused on success, tapped in
to the goal, on the ready
for whatever circumstances may arise.

My vices are the Tao River –
I ride them in peace;
I flow, I flux, I catch the tide,
I surf the wave
to the shoreline
and sleep there in sublime surrender,
understanding in dreams
the dichotic nature
of my animal/angel dualism.

My virtues are the false hope
of heaven
and the ancient fear
of hell –
wrapped up in illusions
and whispered falsehoods
of mythological delusion.

My vices are the Godhead
of present moment awareness –
the absolution of Now,
the evolution of time’s theory,
the progression of expansive space,
the constant high that never ceases.

My virtues are a lie,
a fakery,
a mask…the cowardice
of a yawning grave.

My vices are the dust
and ash –
the truth in all its horror,
the existential madness,
the awesomeness, the joyousness,
the suffering, the sorrow, the final acceptance,
the Great Yes to it All.

 
Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry and fiction can be found. His chapbook ‘Songs of a Dissident’ was released in January 2016 through Transcendent Zero Press. His works have appeared recently in Yellow Chair Review, Dissident Voice, Section 8 Magazine, and Tuck Magazine.

 

 

Gallery – poem by Ralph Keats

Gallery

After the waiter removes the plates
she sits back smiling,
fingers fondling the wine glass stem.
She has done this before.
When it comes, the bill will
undo me.

Somewhere on the Northern Line
those delinquent thighs
give the game away
When our eyes meet, the glass cage
shatters and out springs the drooling beast.
Mercifully Belsize Park
saves her.

Give me that mandrake moment
God of random deeds;
when tongues, lips, eyes and fingers
bring us trembling to the edge
and we hover, bone-stripped,
over the drop; give me courage
to let go.

Until then I’ll keep a shotgun close
and when beauty comes uninvited
to disembowel me or sips a latte
over a laptop and says without
even looking:
‘Not for you. Not for you’ –
I’ll give it both barrels.

 

 

Ralph Keats: After a lifetime in UK further and higher education as lecturer and senior manager, he took up the pen and guitar when put out to grass. He writes songs and poetry – short stories too, though held back there by laziness. He lives in the concrete and grass glory that is Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire.

Is this Me, The Country? – poem by Ananya S Guha

Is This Me, The Country?

I take the turn into a country
I don’t understand,
I understand history though
and how through corridors of time
people found breathing space. I take this turn
and learn bit by bit history.

Invaders came, they rested, breathed its fire,
its lust and its homes covered by ornate palaces.
There were love stories as well,
dynastic rulers, fratricide and battles.
I can hear those gunshots and while travelling
by train once in Haldighat, the battle field splashed
with blood, mine, yours, of a country.

History, the word shakes contours of being.
The word turns around
and asks:

Is this me,  the country?

 

Ananya S Guha is from Shillong in North Eastern India. He has been writing and publishing poetry for the last thirty years. His poems have been published in various magazines and journals both online and print, in India and overseas. He holds a doctoral degree on the novels of William Golding.

Two poems by Colin Honnor

Osirion

Lamenting Isis and Nepenthys
bringing the peacock’s feather:
breathe life into the nostrils of the unborn
breathe life into the mouth of the god
so that he will live again composed of dust and silt
silt in his eyes and mouth, the rinsed spirit
sealed into black kohl eyes; you whisper from
the seamless corner in the seamless linens and tars.
I was your husband in the glass temple
splinters and scarabs pulled from my body flower run
this sanctuary of word sealed into the words on the glyph cartouche.
I stand in the tableaux of this forest of columns
at Karnak by the dry well of my marriage.
I am married to the god, broken, scattered,
I have spent my life reclaiming, gathering,
I am the peacock’s feather to cool your brow
although I reassemble these broken pieces
like Hellenic pottery picked from the rubbish heaps
the black and gold fragments of then become now.
I am there to shine my torch on the glyph,
decipher the meaning of these creatures.
Married, I knew his fragility, the turban of his wound
unwound itself in the anguished cries,
shattered the millenial silence of the tomb
in the Valley of the Kings’ violated sanctuary.
I recite these words prayed by the pilgrims
on the road to Abydos from Thebes’ sacred well,
I speak these strange words in a language none know
to an audience who hides its veneration
moved by scents of Egypt, rippling palm leaves, Nubian voices, the absent God.

 

A Valediction

This is a scrap ripped from the gallery of earth,
whine of those seekers after their breath,
there’s a mute balcony where these faces press
in Kamaraderie of their unknowningness.
This picture hangs in the gallery of blood
touches the shoulder with its Fruendliche schneid;
these are the million windows of the air
through which you know the nothing that is there:
There is a tree trunk with a few sparse leaves
where two squaddies clutch and curse the stinking breeze
as they drown through their torn ribs and windpipes
staunched by a piece torn from news inked by the breath of type.
This is a place where the troops go to die
among these pretty scorpions of the sky
stinging themselves to a death ripped from morning
with its tongue torn out forbids its mourning.
Whereafter this gong of great reverberation’s echoes fade
deafened you where you crouch in endless blue
with this fogged on glass dish tensed in, now
lifts from  pools of the daylight these catches of tears.
Camouflaged with their wounds’ paybooks, their broached wine
life cuts the hawser mooring them to their destination.
Where is this white clown-eyed cross-carrier coming
to quarter and peel their lives, pith and pulp spitting?

 
Colin Honnor: After University (Wales, and Leeds, where he edited the internationally acclaimed journal Poetry and Audience)  he has worked in publishing, the OU and the law. He is a literary scholar and a translator of modern European poetry, and also runs a fine arts press in the Cotswolds.