Category Archives: Poems

How to translate

IRENE THALDEN

She was invisible

opinions left to the roadside

eyes on the fritz

she danced

to the tunes she was taught

side-step this way side-step back

sure, she eventually waltzed like a pro

though quick whirl-a-round turns

left her dizzy.

What the hell

she was dancing, wasn’t she?

 

It turns out

dancing isn’t her forte

now she’s into the shuffle

into the one step

music once loud in her ears

veiled background

finally eyes wide open

she regrets not burying

her head in the sand

when she had the chance.

 

Instead she’s left with mayhem

here there everywhere

her opinions getting louder

escaping unedited

look at what’s going on

she asks what world is this

I’m dying to leave

can’t translate now

into what she assumed

past tensed

all those years of expectation

proven wrong

even if she danced backwards

there’s no looking back

and those words never voiced

relinquish the way

things are supposed to be

I’m ready to leave she says

you take care of it

you dance.

The Lazy Gondolier

WILLIAM C BLOME

 

Rumour has it you’ve cast your lot

with one lazy gondolier, a melodious jerk

who barcarolles with the very best of them,

but isn’t worth a crap when it comes

to finding treasure in the Lido’s squooshy turf

at daytime’s lowest tide. Oh, he can expertly

steady his boat into wasp-waisted slips

and rough-sea piers, but give your guy a shovel —

even show him exactly where to dig or scoop —

and damned if he’ll ever turn over one ducat,

much less something feminine and personal

like a corroded or encrusted bracelet. Moreover,

everybody sees he never breaks a sweat,

never pants like a strung-out greyhound

from genuine exertion, which is why I rush

to call him lazy. But now confide in me,

pretty-pretty please: is he the selfsame way

when he’s practically all by himself? (You know,

when he’s with no one except the likes of you?)

Geography

VINCEN GREGORY Y. YU

Tonight, my lover promised we would go places:
edge of the sun or rim of a lunar crater,
circle the burst of stars in our patch of sky,
hitch a ride on a spinning asteroid
and feel how space invades the distance
straddling two electric bodies.

Here was our house, next to Moscow
and the frost that permeates its empty squares.
Every morning, we woke to bells ringing
from the onion domes of St. Basil’s,
sounds we imagined mailed to our window
by melting snow, the hurtling wind.

My lover believed in all things real and imagined,
and I, the rest that hover in between.

In the place where they sell coffins,
I first saw her, looking from beneath the glass
reflecting the whites of her eyes, her body
a lazy shadow supine in its polished casing.
I took her, there and then, on a trip around the globe,
painting portraits of ruins and walls, hillside
trees, a field of wildflower, mountains.
She devoured the sights, the moving pictures,
down to the final shred of celluloid.

Stop—Touch this acre of soft earth.
Here was the place for the invention of promise:
bend of the harsh ray of light
and spark of the first gleam of life.
Notice how everything collapses to its core,
how nothing seems able to withstand
the pull of gravity. This is also a place
for broken things, and for things to be broken.
Shards of glass collect on the bleeding feet,
wounds refusing to close with every washing.
Here was where we landed last night:
not in Zurich or Oslo, balmy Barcelona,
the lofty heights of Denver or swampy New Orleans,
but a house of stone and fog, both solid and wisp,
like whispers inhabiting the space between our mouths.
Here, our words are nothing but air.

Shapes

VINCEN GREGORY Y. YU

The lemon tree makes a curious shape
in the way it bends to the sky: stooped,
slight dent along the delicate stem,
as if praying to heaven or asking

what shape the rain takes as it plummets
in a raging storm. To be old and still bear
fruit—yellow, flock of children navigating
an empty museum at daytime; sour,

the aftertaste of troubled marriages—
is quite enviable. It means the capacity
to create is still intact, like looking
beyond the window and asking the glass

what shape the moon takes at midnight,
hoping to imitate its spectral glow, the curve
where darkness meets the light.
This morning, the lemon tree travelled

one inch farther from its mound of earth,
but also, nearer to when it shall finally stop
trying to outgrow the rest of the garden—
the nonstop pendulum of bamboo stalks,

the roses blossoming in summer—
and learn to let go of the one perfect fruit
hanging from the one perfect branch,
the shape of sadness trapped in the bubble

of tears, when a father’s face has turned
away after his daughter’s wedding.
Tonight, the lemon tree stands content
with the geometry of its place—the triangle

of leaves moist with dewdrops, the parallel
branches bearing weight of the future fruit,
the shape of the unborn seed in its watery
womb, where even strangers tend to its needs,

and an old man’s need to see circles and squares
take the form of boisterous grandchildren,
like saplings breaking through the soil
for the first time.

After Larry Ypil.

Vincen Gregory Yu obtained his Doctor of Medicine from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital in 2016. His poems have appeared internationally in Pedestal Magazine, Stone Telling, Bacopa Literary Review, Popshot Magazine, and Diverse Voices Quarterly. He is also a theater reviewer for Philippine Daily Inquirer, and was a fellow for Fiction in the 56th Silliman University National Writers Workshop, the longest-running creative writing workshop in Asia.

Lethal theory

NOEL WILLIAMS

 

The IDF in Nablus walk through walls

eviscerating living rooms, inverting geometry.

Where streets prickle with barricades

walls become the easy street, mapped

by laser, admitted by C4.

 

Terror strides through bricks,

tramples floors, metastasises

house to house, performing its laparotomy

under the civil skin.

 

Our home is theoretical, a thoroughfare

for RPGs, bedroom Ops Centre for an hour.

For our wellbeing, mother and child trussed

under the camo of convenience.

 

That’s not mud on the carpet.

 

“Lethal theory” by Noel Williams won first prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2017) judged by Oz Hardwick

  

Noel Williams publishes internationally in magazines such as Envoi, San Pedro River Review, Wasafiri, Iota, The North and The Rialto. He’s won several prizes, with four nominations for the Forward Prize and one for the Pushcart. He was the first Poet in Residence at Sheffield’s Bank Street Arts Centre, where he’s also exhibited several times. He’s co-editor of Antiphon magazine (antiphon.org.uk), Reviews Editor for Orbis (www.orbisjournal.com), a mentor for other writers and Professor Emeritus at Sheffield Hallam University. His first collection was Out of Breath in 2014. A pamphlet, Point Me at the Stars, is due in 2018. Website: http://noelwilliams.wordpress.com

In transit

GRETA ROSS

 

with a trunkful of history inside you  

readied for the always questions of why

and what and how while the guard sits

like a checkpoint at the locked gate

to the hard-fenced field of words

 

as you struggle to blacken

the blanks on the dotted line,

fearing the shadow behind his

“where you from?” smile and touch

while his mates eye gender and dress

 

and judge your way of saying “I”

as if origin lies in the curve of face

or faults of the tongue and eye

before opening a hand, an ear or heart

or instead some knuckle-fisted rant,

 

yet you unlock the skin you hide in

to lay yourself out for their vetting

with the always hope of maybe

just maybe this time

your feet will root in another place

 

 

“In transit” by Greta Ross won second price in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2017) judged by Oz Hardwick.

 

A retired doctor, Greta has been writing poems as long as she can remember. Born in Australia, she now lives in England and is a member of the Canterbury writing group SaveAs. Greta has published a first collection ‘Facts of Life’ as well as poems online and in anthologies. Her poems incline towards the political, but she tries to avoid being judgmental. She is married, and both she and her husband continue to enjoy exploring different cultures. Perhaps if science enables humans to live to 150 she might succeed in getting through all the still unread books on her bookshelf.

 

 

 

 

Vanitas

after ‘The Penitent Magdalen’ by Georges de La Tour

GABRIEL GRIFFIN

Nothing like a skull
to keep you company
on a night with no
clients; wolves
howling in the wind,
the window slammed
tight to stop the flame
from dancing
and nothing left
of Him
but your thoughts
like all the years
dropping with the wax
thick and wrinkled.

“Vanitas” by Gabriel Griffin won third prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2017) judged by Oz Hardwick.

Gabriel Griffin lives on Isola St Giulio, Lake Orta, Italy (isolasangiulio.it ). From 2001 she organises Poetry on the Lake events and competition www.poetryonthelake.org. Her poems have often been prized and published in journals & anthologies: Temenos Academy Review, Orbis, Scintilla, Aesthetica, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, et al.(poetgabrielgriffin.com). Author of Along the old way: a pilgrimage from Orta to Varallo in the company of Samuel Butler (Wyvern Works 2010); St Giulio’s Isle, (Wyvern Works 2015), L’uomo verde nel Cusio (Le Rive 2001), Videomanual (Hoepli 1980). Her novel The Monastery of the Nine Doors won 2nd in Yeovil this year (2017).

The Softening

DIANE COOK

How my lover became less elemental is hard to say.
The day the fire melted from his bones and the sweat
on his brow turned to sugar, fell beyond calendars.
I noticed it when we stopped talking of dragons
and the sex on TV made him cry.
I would hold on to him, hold him by the shoulders, narrower now,
hold him by the hand in case he thought
he would whirl away like a bewildered leaf.

And in nightmares spent fumbling off the sheets
to the crêpey curl of his moaning,
I loved him more,
folding him twice at first, then later three times to me
in remembrance of how it used to be.

On evenings of fierce moonlight
he was calm, when the garden reflected
his similar insubstantial shadow.
All was the same then.
Even the trees looked familiar.

“The Softening” by Diane Cook was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2017) judged by Oz Hardwick

Diane Cook is a poet, playwright, short story writer and a founding member of Congleton Writers’ Forum, a Cheshire-based group which has just celebrated 25 years of productive writing. She has gained awards for plays, short stories and poetry, including First Prize in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015. As well as co-writing and editing a poetic narrative Slaughter by the Water based on the true story of the Congleton Cannibal, she has also directed her own psychological drama Splinter; and her tragi-comedy We Would Have Noticed The Moon has been filmed as a black box TV play was screened in 2016.

Frozen Ringtone

MARIA ISAKOVA BENNETT

Only one thing fills me now

         the lit screen

                        that tells me you thought of me. I try to fix things –

                                                             everything goes wrong.

                                                             I close the door, drive north

                                                             open Spotify and listen to Hozier.

Lithium operates us in slow.

            This is what you know

                        and this is what you don’t:

                                                            in the light of which

                                                            I make a wish

                                                            I see your face

I love you.

            Shhh …some things you can’t say

                        even if they make you better.

                                                           This is the language of love:

                                                           touch and no words

                                                           out of our mouths.

I won’t speak because

             this is the language of love.

                          Can you stop loving me for a moment and speak to me?

                                                           I need you to stay away from me.

                                                           No. I need you to stay with me.

                                                           Steady me. Stay.

I love the scent of you.

            I won’t shake when I spend my last kiss.

                          I will wait one whole season –

                                                         I will try to wait too

                                                         and when the time is right

                                                         I’ll be with you and I won’t speak

because someone blessed us.

 

“Frozen Ringtone” by Maria Isakova Bennett was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2017) judged by Oz Hardwick.

Swinger

KATHLEEN STRAFFORD 

His flat nose pressed against his face, 

he slumps wearing his Sunday-go-to-meeting

tie      fed up   with yowsam bows   

he dreams to own his own 

bootlegging gig     kickin’ it up with some doodah.     

But for now he’s a tap dancer

He feels like nine foot tall when he’s five foot five

                 all the hepcats dig his jive

or they wouldn’t

                     let him in this speakeasy

                         this den of flapper

                                    flora-dora dizzy

                                            hoochie-coochers

Little does he know the dame             

                             with a silly name & crimson hair

            will lace her fingers      

                             into his     grooving

                             a sweet

                             boogie woogie beat

swaying with a swing

                    swinging with a sway      

 Later in the alley-way

                   he will find himself

                                 doing just            that.

 

“Swinger” by Kathleen Strafford was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2017) judged by Oz Hardwick.