One Poem by Jan Harris

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Opening the bell jar

after Ennui, Walter Sickert, c. 1913

Sometimes, in a Sunday afternoon’s silence,
happiness enters Henry and Marie’s parlour,
whooper swans flying over Windermere,
their cries so wild the sky could not contain them.

Henry lifts a decanter from the mantelpiece,
unstoppers memories of wood smoke
through the open window of a modest room,
their moonlit bodies tentative as April snow.

On a chest of drawers, hummingbirds in a bell jar.
A memento of their honeymoon. Exotic wisps
of unspent lives. Marie places them in the sun
and watches rainbows appear in their wings.

 

Jan Harris’s poems have appeared in various literary journals including Acumen, Envoi, Snakeskin, and The French Literary Review, and in several anthologies, including For the Silent, (Indigo Dreams Publishing). Her first collection, Mute Swans on the Cam, is due for publication in summer 2020.

One Poem by Trevor Conway

The Question

Because of all my rivery ways,
days with swollen bellies
like fresh croissants,
you’ve had to wait.

Your Mediterranean mood,
your microscope humour,
have played their poison in my grizzly veins,
and I’m sorry this has come so late.

Because everyone bends to the crook
of a question mark,
we ask others and ourselves
what each of us craves.

Me, I’m just wondering how many
global mugs I’ll carry to you,
still unsure if I’ll ever know
how a father should behave.

Because of your misty understanding
that, sometimes, I’m cold
like a lamb buried in a field,
I think we’ll shoulder many drafts.

Marriage is for the old,
and our pages are yellow with yolk.
We have dusty, librarian years ahead
to spear our blubbery craft.

Because, however,
we need to remember,
I’ve laboured these words for you to consider
today and to the scraps of your life.

I’ve called you babe,
Baby Blue,
bambino.
Now, can I call you my wife?

 

Trevor Conway writes mainly poems, stories and songs. He also cuts his own hair, though maybe with less success. Subjects he typically writes about include nature, sport, society, creativity and interesting moments. His first collection of poems, Evidence of Freewheeling, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2015, while his second, Breeding Monsters, was self-published via Amazon in 2018. The poem included here is taken from an unpublished collection he wrote as a marriage proposal, of which only two copies exist. Website: trevorconway.weebly.com

One Poem by Raquel Morris

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Housewife

Feeling defeated,
my energy depleted
love’s degradation,
the division occurs.
Division of self,
division of us,
decisions of worth,
so many dreams
unfulfilled.
I’m overly needed,
but not wanted,
or recognized.
I’m needing
to be loved
and listened to,
to speak,
to share my soul
so I know my thoughts
are heard
and cherished.
To dance on life’s stage
in perfect time.
I felt the rhythm
of the Universe
in my prime,
but somehow lost tune
now I’m invisible.
Married and alone,
surrounded by silence
in my home.

 

Raquel Morris has a Master’s in Social Work (MSW), is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and writer who has a life long love of poetry. Writing is her passion, she enjoys expressing her experience as a Native American, woman of color, mother, social worker, activist, and mystic. She is an emerging writer and has been published in Nine Muses Poetry.

Two Poems by Clive Donovan

The  Waiting  Room

The doctor says we called you in
To check your liver, blood, cholesterol.
Perhaps your thyroid got flagged up?
Are you listless? Are you tired?
Computer’s down so can’t be sure,
But how about Viagra do you need some?
Well last time I checked it was o.k.
How about you take that white coat off and let me try?

I’m afraid my fuddled mind has got a mite enflamed
Looking at the pictures in Glamour Magazine.
The panels of the waiting room are tacked-up full
With illness suggestions you could contract.
I flick the chalky pages some more.
I can feel those sticky collective germs on my skin.
Please call my name and make it soon.
These walls are closing in.


Moth

There is a moth lives in my house.
I meet it in the stairwell sometimes;
Medium/small/black, not the most attractive
As it lumbers about the air
Like an oaf, out of element, clambering and clumsy.
It doesn’t dodge from me like a fly would
Or a mosquito, which I’d kill if I could
{Not being a buddhist}, so I let this little bugger
Of a triangle survive and live and trust
It doesn’t try with grubs
To inject my afghani rugs and curtains
And sincerely wants to settle down and squat a while
And hibernate because I have actually
Started to berate sister moth when we meet
And after all that bobbing dodge and weave and curtsey
Just ain’t safe for either of us,
What with the wobbly banisters.

 

Clive Donovan devotes himself full-time to poetry and has been published in a wide variety of magazines including The Journal, Agenda, Acumen, Poetry Salzburg Review, Prole, Stand and The Transnational. He lives in the creative atmosphere of Totnes in Devon, U.K. often walking along the River Dart for inspiration. He is hoping to entice a publisher to print a first collection.

One Poem by Kate Young

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

When Apathy Comes Calling

Undercover, uninvited
I slip beneath doors,
silent as odourless gas,
drawn to a couple, remote.

She is wallpaper,
her outline just a pattern
on the periphery of time
as if made of chalk,

a single puff
and she will be erased
as particles of dust
in a smother of inertia.

He is solid,
a bulk of spongy flesh
she no longer cares to caress,
preferring instead to lean on wood.

Eyes wide,
she stares at a mundane
wall of beige
collapsed at the waist, folded.

Eyes closed,
he takes a long drag
on dregs of days,
the swill of gin, the swallow.

Edging in
I roll up my sleeves,
ready for battle,
the usual spatter of silence.

 

Kate Young lives in Kent with her husband and has been passionate about poetry and literature since childhood. Over the last few years she has returned to writing and has had success with poems published in webzines in Britain and internationally. She particularly enjoys responding to Ekphrastic challenges. Kate is presently editing her work and setting up her website.

One Poem by Lorraine Carey

City

I caught snowflakes on my lashes,
blinked away a heavy memory,
speed walked those city streets for heat
to thaw out my feet
and surrender
to my caffeine craving.

In panda eyed oblivion, the kind barista
whispered my mascara had ran,
as I eye balled the counter
for my reflection, my pocket for a tissue.
With retrospection in Toronto
I wasn’t worthy a second glance,
the isolation of anonymity,
a monster of its own.

 

Lorraine Carey’s poetry and art are widely published in journals and anthologies including Poetry Ireland Review, Orbis, The Honest Ulsterman, Prole, Smithereens and on Poethead. Shortlisted in several competitions, she has contributed poetry to many anthologies. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her debut collection is From Doll House Windows (Revival Press).

One Poem by Martha Landman

Written in response to this month's Special Challenge.

What Those in the Photos on the Walls See

No-one sees what Mary holds in her arms in the dining room where days blend with oak table and sideboard and a white mantelpiece displays family trinkets from distant holidays. She stares at the painting above her as if saying where will my help come from? Mary’s bored as a brick in a wall her children out of sight and earshot in a household that reflects all-is-well. Mary’s much younger than her husband who sits in his favourite unwind-chair enjoying a lordly cigar after work and whiskey from a tall glass tumbler as he asks what she’s been up to while he laboured at the stock exchange. He doesn’t tell her about lunch with Ellie McBride at Hornet’s Nest — which Mary avoids when she and Ernest O’Neill have after-tennis drinks and her boys are at soccer club — on Sundays they all go to the same church.

 

Martha Landman is a South Australian poet and a previous contributor to Nine Muses.

One Poem by Felix Purat

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

A Glass Half-Empty

The glass is half-empty, the cigar half-smoked
Less than 50% renders Bamiyan Buddha as a replica
Why must we think otherwise of Lebe & Liebe?

A couples’ percentage pre-Princip depreciates;
Ennui gushes from the hidden vortex
The painter Sickert hears but never sees

The female sees only half the portrait
Gazing longingly into a featureless face, an NPC;
Already the blank slate future emerges

With its greenhouse of wilted, drooping roses
The male’s cigar won’t be the last savored narcotic
The rose blight won’t rest until love has decayed

And dysfunction runs rampant in the brigand’s greasy hands
Sewing terror into every national fabric; but always,
Always out of reach of spidery ennui’s domain.

 

Felix hails from Berkeley, CA but lives in the Czech Republic and travels frequently. In addition to four micro-chapbooks (all published by the Origami Poems Project), Felix has been published in numerous outlets and magazines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His poems have also been translated into Slovak. His webpage is: beyondnorcal.wordpress.com

One Poem by Kitty Donnelly

Giving Evidence

I’ll remember the cheap clock always,
ticking off the letters of the law;

the leaf-shaped stain on the chair,
the probe of the sergeant’s voice.

I hid my face like a child or a dog,
ears listening regardless.

Then the tape’s click: your broad hand
shivering above the statement.

It had rained when we came out –
the Derwent black and nearing flood-mark.

You said he’ll be free ‘till he dies. The bastard.
I swallowed, turning my eyes to the wind,

needing the bad man’s heart
to be weighed against the feather –

for somewhere to be safe, or sacred.

 

Kitty Donnelly’s work has previously been published in Acumen, Mslexia, Quadrant, The New Welsh Review and many other magazines and journals. In 2019, she received a Creative Future Award and was Highly Commended in the McLellan Poetry Prize. Her first collection is due from Indigo Dreams Press in 2020.

One Poem by Melanie Branton

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Gloss

Glassy eyed, they co-exist
in their glossy magnolia cell,
with the chill elegance of a marble
mantel, where the fire has gone out.
Light glints off the patent leather
girdling her thickened waist,
her decanter firmly stoppered,
her sweet viscous sherry
nearly drunk up. The toffee apple
patina of the furniture reflects
a marriage that has had the sharp edges
sucked off by habit. Small creatures
with feathers are trapped
beneath a heavy dome. She stares
at a faded portrait of him in black and white.
The past flaunts its décolletage,
its bare shoulders. The present
is muffled in a thick brown suit.
Fire and water are on the table
in front of them, but colourless
and terrible, shining with a purity
that tastes of nothing,
the greatest of these is water.

 

Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist from North Somerset. Her published collections are Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017).