One Poem by Rebecca Clifford

Driving In

a feral spots me exiting the house
               vacates the property at the speed of sound
she’s hunting mice this soft day
lawn needs mowing – always when it rains
poplar, a yellow torch scraping clouds
dogwood and spirea flame, glow, a lit fuse
               along the rail fence

truck grrrowls over three-quarter crush and run,
coughs displeasure at moving
we’re sluggish, we two

on the verge, bushes slouch
gravid with pendulous moist berries
satin caped grackles
  heckle our progress along the rutted road

gravel turns to tar and chip turns to tarmacadam
changes from two to four lanes, a median
               kilometres from thirty screech to one-twenty
wetness whispers off auto tires
               trucks with airbrakes and UltraCountry 109
bully past

                              no one signals lane changes

 

Rebecca Clifford has published works in Tower Poetry Anthologies, Tamaracks Anthology of Canadian Poetry, The Banister, The Rural Route, and similar publications. In 2017 and 2018 she won the Haldimand Country Poetry Contests. Rebecca writes for amusement, pleasure, sport, and general sanity. She lives in rural Ontario, Canada.

One Poem by Diane Jackman

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

final curtain

down
this
ribbed and
stony track
through concertina
folded flames and pitch-black skirts, tint
of my mortal sin
alone I
step to
my
end

 

Diane Jackman’s poetry has appeared in magazines and anthologies; winner of Liverpool, Deddington, Café Writers’ Norfolk Prize, librettist for “Pinocchio” (Kings’ Singers/LSO), author of seven published children’s books and many stories. Her passions are Anglo-Saxon literature and medieval rabbit warrens.

One Poem by Richard Leach

Another Babel Poem

In fact
the builders
of the tower
to heaven
reached it.
They got there.
They came to
heaven’s floor
and cut a hole
in it and climbed
up through and
looked around.
When they came
back down they
babbled because
they had no words
for the music
they had heard.

 

Richard Leach is a poet and visual artist in Stamford, Connecticut. His sacred poetry has been set to music by many composers and is widely published and sung. He posts secular poetry online and collects it in self-published books, available at lulu.com/rleach

One Poem by Paul Waring

Terminal

Today neat rows of plastic anthuriums
lack empathy. And birdsong breezing
sweet notes from nearby oaks
does little to lighten dread.

I’ve seen this consultant enough to know
news is not good. A split-second sense;
his staged welcome, self-conscious as
an audition.

Mr Bell, left fist clenched to quell
a cough, delivers his script with practised
compassion. My only words: that bad?
Within three months?

Deafening tick-tocks count time—
time to shake hands with the present
and its past; time to let go of the future.
Now every sleep, a rehearsal for death.

 

Paul Waring is a retired clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and was a singer/songwriter in Liverpool bands. A 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee, Paul has had poems published in Prole, The High Window, Atrium, Algebra of Owls, Amaryllis, Clear Poetry, Strix, Marble Poetry, Lampeter Review and others. https://waringwords.wordpress.com

One Poem by Alun Robert

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Déjà Vécu

I have been here before
Not too sure when, but
       living beyond the curve
       en route to somewhere
Or nowhere knowing
What’s round the bend, while
Beyond the horizon
Every single happening
       reverberates off key, yet
Each smell, each noise
All recognisable
       when the blade cuts to the quick
       and it does.

The hurt, scars, the pain
The aroma, from
       a pungent stench of abject failure
Self inflicted, as
The visible bouquet of success
       is the precursor
       the leading indicator
Of failure to come, when
Sparks of sheet lightning scratch
The crevices, the cracks
Driving each downfall
       known to mankind, or not
Lighting the ways ahead:
       the long way round and
       circuitous short cuts.

Fallacies, the deceit
Abject lies of simple truths
Camouflaged to the psyche
As the devil of forked tongue
       with malice stuck in the throat
Faux weeps for his flock
       who will return, for they do.

As I make the same mistakes
Time and time again
No matter how many occasions
       I am faced
       with the very same situation.

When will I ever learn?

 

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.

One Poem by Chris Fox

Role Play

Tonight, I’m the world’s foremost lepidopterist.
You enter through the window and force me, at gunpoint,
to swallow the eggs of the dreaded Novalis Blue:
once warmed, you remind me, they’ll hatch,
larva devouring the host
from the inside-out,
replacing flesh with moonlight.
Already I feel caterpillars ripple along my bones,
diligent fingertips
translating me into Maeterlink stanzas.
Vertebrae, mushroom-pale, unbutton one by one,
my final breaths turn azure.
I am a poem in French now, metamorphosis complete.
You’ve changed into your Composer’s costume,
white wig luminous with moths.
You sit down and set my words to music,
set what’s left of me to you.

 

Chris Fox is a poet and horror film critic based out of Greensboro, NC. His work has appeared in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Treehouse Magazine, Wavelength, and many other journals. His poetry zine “Time Travel Love Poems” will retroactively self-publish last year.

One Poem by Viv Parks

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Journey

Why do I fear to tread forward,
follow that track.
Will I reach the end then
long to turn back.

Will I find enlightenment,
put an end to my quest,
or simply find more questions
to put me to the test.

My constant search for answers
is sapping all my strength.
I wish to end my journey
lay down my head to rest.

 

Living in the South of England, Viv Parks enjoys writing poetry. She especially likes writing from prompts for competitions and challenges.

One Poem by Peter Tse

From Hong Kong

Baba sighed, he loathed long haul flights,
His dry hands pulled his worn jacket tight.

He never got used to leaving his Hong Kong mountainside
For chop suey, pork chow mein and curry sauce on the side please.

Turbulence and air resistance made him nauseous,
Forces he didn’t understand. He questioned how people

Conquered the skies, could see distant galaxies, kept this metal tube up in the air,
But couldn’t accept that some people look different.

His plane crossed time zones, long forgotten war zones,
Tripped over the shifted scars that carve up brothers from sisters.

He looked out the window, and couldn’t see any borders,
No lines like on maps, no races etched on mountainsides.

 

Peter is a 24-year-old English teacher in Wembley; born in London to a Hong Kong father and a Malaysian mother. The realities of teaching compete ferociously with the time he would like to spend writing poetry.

One Poem by Rennie Halstead

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

At the Fushimi Inari Shrine

I pass the foxes standing guard,
the stone path winds
through the Torii gates,
a vermilion forest,
draws me up the hill.
There at Inari’s shrine,
promising plenty,
you stand, pure white kimono
as if you had stepped out of Edo,
out of Japan’s long, long past.

Your groom, handsome, young,
in his black hakama,
serious, happy,
awaits the priest and the ceremony,
your families so formally dressed.

And I, a paper samurai
so casual in jeans,
unfitted for such a bride,
intruding on the moment
long to be included,
forever now a tourist,
lost, cut off, outside.

 

Rennie has been writing poetry for years, but usually publishes work on his blog at https://ello.co/bigren

Two Poems by Nick Toczek

Tryst

Outside, endlessly, weather waits for us,
    hangs out, high, breathing,
        turns like a sleeper tugging stubborn sheets,
            rolls its urgent bulk impatiently.

Under arching branches
    grass-blades yearn for the weight of us
        as do silences for our footsteps
            and sunlit walls, nervously, for our shadows.

Indoors, a dull passion perfumes the stairwell,
    contact lingers on the landing,
        aching rooms shimmer
            with anticipation.

Enduring absence is a torment
    which folds inward like beaching waves
        asking, always asking whether
            we will ever come.


Spanish Sunbed Ennui

Gulls glide smoothly
computing nothing.
Silent as cursors, they slide
across their wide  blue screen.

Dozens of diligent bees
ceaselessly inspect and collect
from outstretched feeding fingers
of lavender, luscious, lilac and inviting.

Beside us, and beside itself with hearsay
the spa pool circulates its rushed rash
of rash rumours, burbling a constant
conspiratorial bursting babble of bubbles.

A sparrow lands on the lawn
with a frantic butterfly in its beak.
Here it repeatedly drops it, picks it up again
playing, as a cat might with a dying mouse.

The lifeguard shifts listlessly.
He’s bored because no one is drowning.
A dead wasp floats at the edge of the pool.
Surely he should’ve saved it. Like us, he’d nothing else to do.

Waiters collect filled ashtrays and a scattered litter
of coffee cups, wrappers, paper plates, plastic glasses.
But no one comes to collect us. The sun climbs down the sky.
Disappointed, we gather our detritus of possessions, and go.

Silent as a page, the emptied pool flattens.
Flapping pigeons, grey as aircraft, fly in.
Landing poolside, they glance around, drink and leave.
Staff straighten seats and sunbeds. Then all stills, like a selfie.

 

Nick Toczek is a full-time writer and performer from Bradford, Yorkshire. He has published more than forty books, mostly of poetry. As a writer-in-schools he’s worked throughout the UK and worldwide visiting more than three dozen countries. For more information on his work, check out his website: http://www.nicktoczek.com.