One Poem by Stephen Kingsnorth

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

First Position

A cello scroll has set the frame,
another angle for reprise,
from Boer end to second war –
jazzed silhouette, art deco style.
Is art reworked, improved upon,
revisionism found at home,
or stand alone, another age,
themed fashion geist from other zeit?

For both the box, but peg here blurred,
crisp focus on the dancing girl,
though eye returns to shadow squirl,
a serif twirl for ballet steps.
The top hat, half-cut by a line –
what does he say to shoes and frills,
how exercise performing speech –
then eyes and tongues behind the scenes?

One turn to stretch, flat sharp the gut,
between, the screws that hold the swirl,
whose is the instrument that’s played,
who pulls, conducts, those strings on stage?
Unseen, beneath, a fingerboard,
the neck, an upper bout, tailpiece,
but will rib melody be played –
or will the prance find reprieve?

 

Stephen Kingsnorth, retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had 140 pieces accepted by on-line poetry sites, including Nine Muses Poetry; and Gold Dust, The Seventh Quarry, The Dawntreader, Foxtrot Uniform, A New Ulster Poetry Magazines, anthologies ‘Pain & Renewal’ &‘Identity’https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/

One Poem by Maria S Picone

Summer Paradise

The water, jagged glass underneath us
like the obsidian of an arrowhead,
made our ride a rollercoaster.
The boat’s noise, like a heatsink working
to cool an angry processor, eliminated
speech. Torn away from my cares,
a summer songbird, I closed my eyes.
Gripping the seat’s edges, sticky and
artificial, wondering if I could fall.

I could fly, jostled like the cargo
of a careening plane, tasting sweet
taffy and other verdant luxuries,
uncoupled from neuroses        responsibilities
as we slowed back into the embrace
of mangrove-lined shores, dolphins played
in our artificial waves.

 

Maria S. Picone has an MFA from Goddard College. She’s interested in adoptee issues, exile, belonging, and identity. Her poetry and translations appear in Homestead Review, the Able Muse, and Route 7 Review. Her Twitter is @mspicone, and her website is mariaspicone.com.

One Poem by Anna Forbes

What Will Survive

A slow reckoning of washed-out mornings
when even the miracle of a white tom
winding itself three times round its gatepost
couldn’t lift us clear.

Sunk beneath the weather
we made our daily visits to the hill
where only months ago the lights had stretched
clear as new stars, all across the horizon.

But for all the shuttered impossibilities of the city
many of its smallest details are picked out in gold
and somewhere around the centre
the pelicans are still waiting for us to find them;

strange and snowy-feathered
sleeping under the sanctuary of their own wings.

 

Anna Forbes studied English at the University of Cambridge before transferring to King’s College London, where she received a degree in Comparative Literature. Her poetry has been published in a range of magazines including Ink Sweat and Tears and Poetry Scotland, and has recently been shortlisted for the Jane Martin prize.

One Poem by Amy Nocton

Lightning from Summer’s Twilight 

I long for the forgotten fireflies
of years ago, when younger hands snatched
lightning from summer’s

twilight.
Wonder could be cupped
in palms aglow with a beetle’s

bioluminescence.
Our parents spied,
from nearby or through a window.

What dreams
might they have held for us
as we peered

at skin illuminated
by tiny lights? How many times
did they,

like us, revise
the narratives they carried
through life?

Yesterday, I was given
to know that at dusk
our river would hold

innumerable
living stars in the hazy blue
of nightfall.

I intended to see for myself
if this were true. But then dark
descended,

and all I could do was wonder,
how do you mourn,
after hope?

 

Amy Nocton lives in Storrs, Connecticut with her family. She teaches Spanish at E.O. Smith High School and English composition for non-native speakers at UCONN. She has been previously published in Poetry Ireland Review, Down in the Dirt Magazine, Inti: Revista de literatura hispánica and The Bookends Review.

One Poem by Edward Alport

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Next Time Round

Long step after long step,
A long and stony path.
Stony, and as steep as stairs
And somewhere, between Now and There,
My sense of wonder disappeared.

Now it’s water gushing through a mill,
Wheels churning down the road,
Paper pushing pen across the ink,
And a cold rhythm of season after season.
Even Spring has lost its passion.

Wake up! I need the cockerel
Farting a fanfare in my ear.
I need the stolid, pious indignation
Of pigs denied their morning feed.
I need the ginger sprouting from its rhizome
And the mosquito slapped against my screen.

 

Edward is a lecturer and writer, mostly on business and politics. He often posts twittaku (double haiku in 140 characters) on Twitter, plus the occasional political limerick.

One Poem by Felix Purat

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Menagerie Falls

Those who walk past
Menagerie Falls
Where the red mill creaks
And the wet birds cheep
Where the black wolf slinks
And the lanky lynx drinks
And a whole new Noah’s arc
Of species tumble forth
From the cascade of froth
Alpine or Apennine
Urban vs. pristine
Charcoal and gangrene
Merge and mate
Mammalian memes
Fluctuate online
They flash past my green eyes
Shade after shade
Convincing the hotties
Under Sagittarius
Who seek to pull arrows
Unveil gastric juices
From punctured stomachs
Strolling to the bathroom
As Tom Ze fills the room
With triassictropicalia
So goes the flow of the polyglots
May their languages flow strong.

 

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

Two Poems by Annie Stenzel

My meals are mostly solo nowadays

and thus breakfast this morning
was a bowl of rue, topped
with slices of remorse.

At lunch, went to the buffet
table, chose a slab of pain
served open-faced. Sometimes

I assemble a side salad
from the many varieties of contrition—
green-leafed, frisée, bitter.

If I want a snack to punctuate
the afternoon, I’ll pick a globe
of bleak from the tree that groans outside.

And for dinner, a simple plate of guilt,
drizzled with a stream of sadness, thin
and steady, straight from the infinite source.


Watercolor words

To talk about the tinges wrought by ripples
moving over rocks of sundry sizes at the bottom
of a creek that races through a summer’s day—
language stalls on the tongue but the eyes are wild

with their desire to speak of these unlikely hues: five separate
shades of green impressed on flickers of dark grey
then passed to brown where the sun seeps
down as the current stirs the water.

No doubt there is an ideal palette for the portrait
of a stream whose bed is filled with colors coaxed
by light out of rocks and water. Oh, box of paints!
if only you held ability, rather than mere potential.

 

Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but currently lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay. Her book-length collection is The First Home Air After Absence (Big Table Publishing). Her poems appear in many print and online journals in the U.S. and the U.K., including Chestnut Review, Gargoyle, SWWIM, The Ekphrastic Review, The Lake, and Unlost. For more, visit anniestenzel[dot]com.

One Poem by Jordan Trethewey

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Juxtapose

Let deer drink
while birds hide behind
a tumbling, liquid aviary.

This is where The Plan
deviates from geometrical
left-brain patterns.

Nature doesn’t shout,
LOOK AT ME —
claim industriousness.

It’s conciliatory,
co-exists,
adapts to remain

pieces in a puzzle —
all in it
together.

 

Jordan Trethewey is a writer and editor living in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. His frightening book of verse, Spirits for Sale, is available on Amazon from Pskis Porch Publishing. Some of his work found a home here, and in other publications such as Burning House Press, Visual Verse, Claifragile, CarpeArte Journal, Fishbowl Press, The Blue Nib, Red Fez, Spillwords and Fudoki Magazine. Jordan is also an editor at https://www.redfez.net/, and https://openartsforum.com/. His poetry has been translated in Vietnamese and Farsi. To see more of his work go to:  https://jordantretheweywriter.wordpress.com.

One Poem by Alun Robert

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Spring 1913 Premonition of the Blue Rider

Winter snowmelt descending at pace
driving wheels of rustic mills, the roar
like a Kamchatka geyser is music in my life

after surviving the trauma of raptors
en pursuit of our fragile souls
from fall through to spring
in aerial attrition, the battle played out

with the pungent taste of death
the disembowelled bodies of the weak
all being is flaming agony, lost

high above the water, I recall
while preening my blue regalia
to contemplate our fragile future
in migration back, back to the Baltic

on our historic route north
to rediscover our breeding grounds
in temperate Nordic climes, the peace

hence we recharge our reservoirs
of fodder and water
for our long journey from the Bewitched Mill
in genetic repatriation

over high snow-capped mountains
across the plains of Europe
on through the Somme, then past Flanders

yet I have a premonition
most horrible and shattering
that some time in the future, or closer
raptor red blood will infiltrate our route

when all being becomes flaming agony
watched by a murder of crow
carking from dead trees, ready to swoop

on life and its meaning
through the destiny of this blue rider
and the fate of our flock
from the waters of enchantment.

 

Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical verse. Of late, he has achieved success in poetry competitions and featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web. He particularly enjoys ekphrastic challenges. In 2019, he was a Featured Writer of the Federation of Writers Scotland.

One Poem by Judith Wozniak

Intensive Care

Found poem: quotes from critical care

What has blindsided us
is the speed.
On the imaging system,
speckled whiteness,
akin to powdered glass.

The creeping, pricking fear.
It is here, on the screen,
and spreading
in my hospital,
in my city.

We are all worried
for our young families,
our elderly parents.
We will carry this disease
home to loved ones.

The usual grumbles
and disagreements
set aside.
Soon we will bury
our colleagues.

 

Judith Wozniak spent her working life as a GP and has just completed an MA in Writing Poetry at the Poetry School. She has had poems published in Reach, Poetry24, Sideways, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Hippocrates Prize Anthology 2019 and the NHS Poetry Anthology ‘These are the Hands’ 2020.