One Poem by Anna Schoenbach

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Primordia

In whose heartbeat did you see me?
Your mother’s, or your own?

Or was it not “beat,” but “blood”
spilled in the moment
when you first knew “pain”
and saw red drip from your scraped knees?

I saw the first sparks of sentience
in your charcoal and pigment dust
as you drew me on the wall.

We stared at each other, eye to eye,
in your first steps, your first breaths,
blinking at the light and clothed in amnion,

And I approved your transformation
from idea into human.

 

Previously published in the poem anthology “Primal Elements,” by OWS Ink, Anna Schoenbach is a writer, editor, and poet who hopes that she can capture even just a little bit of the awesome power of the natural (and spiritual) world in her writing.

One Poem by Felix Purat

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Grandaddy Auroch

Lines the walls of hidden caves
Tempestuous in paleolithic ink:
Hungry, the cro magnons slice
The painting on the wall –
At some point a steak must
Flop off and onto an innovated flame

Bulls bow in deference as
Matadors contemplate
Their imminent goring
Red stains the dusts of Castille
Pigments decorate subterranean Altamira
Blood dates to the beginning of time.

 

Felix hails from Berkeley, CA but lives and travels abroad wherever possible. In addition to three 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.

One Poem by Stuart McClure

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Fade-Out

What do you see in me, what questions rise
when the cave mouth is un-stoppered?

I am slathered on this accidental rock
like raw meat on a butcher’s block,

the soft sad-eyed bulk of me delineated
by a blackened fire stick.

What will you do when I fade-out,
when the rock-crust lets go its grip?

Don’t re-store me with tender bristles,
touching me here and there

until I have stepped into time,
a forgery in a gift shop.

 

Stuart McClure has been writing for several years, particularly inspired by Dartmoor and the South Devon Coast. He is a member of two writing groups: Moor Poets and Two River. They both provide stimulus and critical feedback.

Two Poems by John Krumberger

Election Day, November 2016

Three days after we buried her
the weather abruptly changed,
and I failed to wear the proper shoes
for rain freezing into snow.
How I wanted to say the worst is over now
– the nursing home, the feeding tube,
her bruised arms and legs,
the thrush in her mouth done with and gone –
but the cold front would have contradicted me:
first a constant drip from roofs
and trees rivering the gutters,
then the sneer of ice with its ugly grin
on puddles lit by street lamps,
finally the drifts seeping into my wingtips,
never to be the same again.
Once the feet are cold, the body follows.
Shivering I recalled my James Joyce:
the snow general falling over
the dazed, mutinous country.


A Dream in Black and White

Hiking up an alpine ridge
dressed in his brown suede coat –
no boots or crampons,
no ice ax or glasses for snow blindness
though the sheen is brilliant white –
you think of the house on Franklin,
an ordinary summer evening;
the garden hose hiss a serpent;
you, your brother in bathing suits
laughing, receiving the spray,
cold surprise in the milky almost dark,
a boy’s way of being hugged, and now
past tree line you know you’ll not descend again
still you climb easily, almost running,
as if growing lighter here,
almost as if floating on air.

 

John Krumberger has previously published a volume of poems entitled THE LANGUAGE OF RAIN AND WIND (Backwaters Press in 2008), and a chapbook, IN A JAR SOMEWHERE through Black Dirt Press in 1999. His latest volume collection BECAUSE AUTUMN was published by Main Street Rag Press in 2016. He works as a psychologist in private practice in St. Paul MN and lives with his wife in Minneapolis.

One Poem by Simon Leonard

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Greater Kindness

The tour guide tugs on a jaded sleeve.
One eye on the group behind, she powers
through her explanation. Climatic conditions meant . . .
life expectancy . . . risk from other migrant groups . . .
bones hollowed to blow . . . spray painting . . .
thoughts drifting to the next cigarette.
How did they make the light to paint? Her reply
diffuses in uncertainty: something about animal fat.

Wax walls drip
their liquid glow of lard.
Hands crowd around; measure
those left behind;
add their own anonymous print
(we, too, were here).
Testing each crevice from bulge,
rust from meat, they stroke
your thick blood pelt,
trace the black shag
of your underbelly,
redraft those bulbous shoulders
perched on matchstick legs,
their fingers wrapped in skin.

Staring back across millennia,
a cartoon yellow eye understands
the death wished on it
with deepest sympathy.

Outside the guide checks her messages.
Hugging her breast with one crossed arm,
she watches two last wreathes unravel
before stalking across the grass —

A half-hunted bird
strains against the impossible
burden of its weight.
Beating the ground with broken wings,
it watches death approach sideways;
frank, animal,
the shape of a woman,
close enough now to recognise herself
in its eye.

 

A poet and intermittent writer of short fiction, Simon spends most of his time teaching English in a Secondary School in Cologne, although he would like to escape back home to Spain. He has had work published in EnvoiOrbis and Ink Sweat & Tears, and been shortlisted in various short fiction competitions.

One Poem by Angela Porter

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Art or Dying?

But, wiser with years I now see it coming back –
Into shell and skull, limestone or calcium.
Telling the old person falling asleep in a chair
That the young were once too strong.

My thumb seems to run across the surface.
Where the detritus is pastel surrender.
It is almost gruesome, and yet not quite.
Perhaps I moved my eyes quickly with colour.

Imprints of impossible repeats, drags lace.
Did I dare to look up and stare in horror?
I skipped the awful and the real it showed.
Then I notice new things standing, challenging.

Art forwards energy in vigour, the real vanishes.
As a heart once healthy beating, one day is sad.

 

She wrote this poem from her experience of painting. The picture is textural, and Angela’s creative works (poetry, music and art and craft) include textural works such as her “String Trio” composed in 1996 (British Music Library).

One Poem by James Hvezda

Canoe Trip

pile out of the minivan
shoes scraping on gravel
the zip of excited mosquitoes
mist on the river
and the grip of the morning air

later
planted on the floor of the canoe
feet jutting out
back leaning on the middle rung
drifting with the dip and trickle of the paddles
studying the river rocks listless in their underwater tomb
the sun streaming into their green and yellow world
the water up against the canoe
an opaque ripple
arguing along the gunnels and discharged in our wake

look to the side
see the roots probing the air above the water
a slow decent
thick bush
proud white birch and aspen
the collapsing river banks and tilting trees
leaning in to listen

stroke…
stroke…
stroke…

watching my father’s eyes in the stern
reading the brow
scanning the eddies and tongues
little fist in my chest

anything could make me jump

 

James Hvezda lives in Hamilton, Canada. He enjoys spending time in and writing about nature.

One Poem by Martha Landman

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Through Altamira’s Window into the Past

The forest is restless
for the wisent’s cloven hooves
summer winds are eager
to rustle its shaggy coat
whip its short-brush tail

A world awaits the bulls’
roar in mating season
the snorts and grunts of herds
grazing in valleys and on plains

the broad muscular beast
in charcoal and ochre —
chiaroscuro
rendered in rock contours
cave painters preserved
what hunters erased

Through Altamira’s window
we run backwards
into the Magdalenian wisent’s eyes
the pain of being stuck on a wall

 

Martha Landman writes in Adelaide, South Australia where she is a member of the Friendly Street Poets. Her work has appeared online and in print in UK, US and Australia.

Three Poems by Roddy Williams

Found poem

I am a lost poem.

If you find me
look after me, I beg you
as if I were one of your own
that you wrote late on an October night
after a fight with someone with whom
you were in lust
and several glasses of wine.

Keep me somewhere safe on your person
to the point of almost forgetting my existence
and then
take me out and read me only
when all your tides are at their lowest ebb
somewhere between Hammersmith and midnight.

Maybe you could add a line or two, a stanza,
finish me off, nail me down,
then
leave me on a pew inside the church
or in a phonebox.

Somewhere no one goes.


Ask The Family

Robert Robinson was a small warm-tongued wizard
conjuring up families with the strangest names
onto the screen – they were always clever people
and he stole their knowledge from them like a brain thief.

We were Williamses and were never conjured up,
besides, my dad would have hit Robert Robinson
if he tried to trick us all and steal what we knew
as we never had a great deal to begin with,

not like the Blink-Otters of Weston-Super-Mare
or the Manta-Wray family from Milton Keynes.
Youngest child Manta-Wray would be at least my age.
He must spend his time wondering where the facts went.

Robinson even stole the fact of the fact theft.
That’s why Britain’s full of empty-headed families.


The last coaster

She lives in a train.
The track stretches fifty years between now and then.
We lay a sleeper every day.
She travels back a lot
in her seat by the window
watching the trees dissolve around the edges
my father welding rhubarb to the root.

I am here in the waiting room with the fresh rails.
It’s not my journey to make.
I hear the whistling of steam
but it’s the kettle for her tea.

I place the mug on the one remaining coaster
and follow her gaze out
to where the trees have grabbed most of the sky.
The rhubarb has been dead
since before the Joneses
got the coasters that we had to get
just to keep up.

 

Originally from North Wales, Roddy Williams now lives in London. His poetry has appeared in  ‘The North’, ‘The Frogmore Papers’, ‘Magma’, ‘The Rialto’, ‘Envoi’, ‘Stand’ and other magazines and anthologies. He is also a keen surrealist photographer, printmaker and painter.

One Poem by Simon Whittle

untitled

he danced in front of me
i didn’t want his skin to touch my skin
his air to brush my neck
i simply wanted his fingers to paint the world
the strike of his laughter to carry me safe

 

Simon Whittle lives with his husband in Canada. If he’s not painting, then he’s writing stories. He runs a blog via WordPress with his best friend sharing happy, amusing, and sad anecdotes and poetry.