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.

One Poem by Ronnie Goodyer

The Huntsman Wants to Kill

The golfer wants a hole in one
The cricketer to score a ton
The sprinter to be number one
The huntsman wants to kill

The footballer to win the league
The cyclist to avoid fatigue
But the huntsman wants none of these
The huntsman wants to kill

Ignore the child-on-pony pose
For cameras at country shows
Beneath the pomp and pompous clothes
The huntsman wants to kill

Called from the Field, the vilest trade
Is carried out by those with spades
Their presence proves this grim charade
The huntsman wants to kill

The hounds are seen to run in packs
On busy roads and railway tracks
There’s no ‘trail’ here – it’s just a fact
The huntsman wants to kill

To flush a fox and watch it run
Is their idea of perfect fun
Content when violent death has come
The huntsman’s had his kill

We’d educate him if we could
No sport should ever call for blood
Enforce the ban, so that, for good –
The huntsman cannot kill

 

Ronnie Goodyer is widely published with 6 solo collectionsHe was on the BBC Judging Panel for their Off By Heart poetry competition (BBC2) and is Poet-in-Residence for animal welfare charity League Against Cruel Sports. Ronnie founded award-winning Indigo Dreams which he runs with partner Dawn and they were the first joint winners of the Ted Slade Award for Services to Poetry. They live with rescue collie Mist, in an ex-forester’s house in the southwest.

This poem is from the forthcoming anthology For The Silent, an Indigo Dreams Publishing/League Against Cruel Sports collaboration which will contain poems which celebrate the natural world, condemn the cruelty of blood sports and speak out for the silent creatures in our countryside. Funds raised from the sale of this book will help the League in its work. It will be launched on 2 May 2019.

Details and tickets for anthology launch: https://www.cheltplayhouse.org.uk/whats-on/

Buy For The Silent here https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/for-the-silent/4594451393

Twitter:@Poet4theSilent

One Poem by Viv Parks

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Image

I am a beast of bygone years
My image upon the walls
hidden deep within a cave
protected from sun wind and rain

Painted in shades of my spilt blood
My flesh would have fed you
my skin kept you warm
Now you too are gone and
only my image lives on

 

Viv Parks lives in southern England and enjoys writing poetry in her retirement. Loves to respond to the monthly challenges of Nine Muses Poetry. Is thrilled that one of her poems, One Hundred Years, written in response to the Centennial Cenotaph Parade has been accepted as the opening poem of an anthology with The Hedgehog Poetry Press.

One Poem by John Newton Webb

This and that

The sun is shining
on the Wimborne Road
but we don’t linger on the ancient bridge or
notice the horses, or the hill;
we’re talking physics or music
or punning mathematicians into films
Bonnie and Klein
Riemann Holiday
Night of the Living Dedekind
and we needn’t talk about anything
else today but we both know
he’s died and I sort of think
that’s important so with teenage
awkwardness, I
force out, “Where do you think he is now?”
and you say, “I don’t want to think about it,”
so we don’t speak about it
Too Hot to Mandlebrot
Towering InFermat
V for Venndetta
and we walk back to your house
and watch half a dozen ‘Yes, Minister’s
which feels better.
Or, it doesn’t.

 

John Newton Webb has worked as an actor, playwright and director. He currently lives in Northern Japan where he pastors a small church. He has had poetry published in various magazines. You can read about his writing at: johnnewtonwebb.blogspot.com

One Poem by Kate Young

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Spanish Masterpiece

You look so sad, defeated,
rendered speechless, limbs static,
glassy eye captured mid-blink,
leathered hide slathered
thick, immovable as undulating wall
slip-sliding on into cavernous shade.

Your image oozes empowerment,
bulky shape, head-horned, savagery
spurting from red oxide veins
sticky as congealed blood
soaked into creator’s hand
pulsing with energy.

You exist as positive spirit,
a finger dancing
paint dabbing
twig bristling
moss sponging masterpiece
concealed on Spanish ochre stone

while Neanderthal Man,
gatherer of berries and Art
is absorbed into Palaeolithic soil.
You bison, with your charcoal lines
are preserved in time
as natural as the contoured cave.

 

Kate Young lives in Kent and is passionate about poetry and literature. After retiring, she has returned to writing and has had success with poems published in magazines internationally and in Great Britain. She is presently editing her work and writing new material, particularly in response to ekphrastic challenges.