One Poem by Jan Harris

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Untitled poem circa 2108

after Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May, John William Waterhouse, 1908

Did ye gather rosebuds, for they no longer bloom,
nor any flowers?
               And we would not wish to see them in a bowl,
but in a garden, breathe their lovely scent, and in a mirror
see their colours in our cheeks and lips, as in your own.

But we are pale and withered as our world, where only trees and rushes,
sedges, grasses grow,
their pollen carried by the wind.
                                                          We know not the velvet bee,
who dipped her head in petal cups to sip sweet nectar there,
or butterflies that settled like a leaf and then away,
or those ye said were pests;
                                           come, pester we!

And if, by nature’s miracle, a damask rose still grows
where soil persists, we will not cut her stems like ye,
but press our hands around them
till thorns dig deep in flesh, like stings.


Continue reading “One Poem by Jan Harris”

One Poem by Luanne Castle

Tuesday Afternoon at Magpie’s Grill

Flickering afternoon light slatted and parsed.
At 3PM, the booths empty except for me
and my notebook.
Would I notice if not for my companion,
my need to recognize and remember?
Without a record, will I hear the ice crashing
into the sink, the Dodger talk at the bar
at the end of the room under the Miller Lite
neon confident and beckoning?
My mother used to say about me,
In one ear and out the other, as if the words
flowed through me without stopping,
without truly entering me, leaving little
effect, as if I had no memory
of all the little parental transgressions.
Why am I not under the sycamore I spot
through the blinds in this Tuesday sunshine
listening to the very song with the shady tree?
What have I done with my life? When
I should have written a poem, I didn’t.
When I did, I didn’t get it quite right.
How can a poem do so many things:
wishing for the shade and thirsty for a beer,
feeling an urge to move my pen and noting
the tiny feet and brush of cuticle,
the solitary fly on my bare arm, while
imagining the chattering of the birds that swoop
from sycamore to jacaranda as if the parking lot
and dumpsters and broken bottles don’t exist.
No matter what I notice,
no matter what I record, I will never
capture the ease of wind-filled wings,
tail feathers a translucent backlit fan,
as my hollow bones jettison the detritus
to fly upward against the source.


Luanne Castle’s Kin Types (Finishing Line Press), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award. Her first poetry collection, Doll God, winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, was published by Aldrich Press. She studied at the University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University. Her writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, Verse Daily, Lunch Ticket, Grist, River Teeth, and other journals.

One Poem by Martha Landman

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Gather Up Roses

I’ll be your thorn, you my rose
we’ll track green valleys
move the hands of time
through a new century

there’ll be trucks of roses —
white on our wedding day
bouquets pink as peace
crimson at the grave

tears like dew on grass blades
or mist over the sea
may brim in your eyes
at times of sorrow

years later we may look back
through life’s windows
down dappled paths
of petals turned to dust

our past and present still alive
in the scent of a rose


Martha Landman writes in Adelaide, South Australia. More of her work can be read in the Caught in the Net-series on The Poetry Kit

One Poem by Viv Parks

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.


One hundred years plus ten
I was a young maiden then
holding roses in my hands
My head held high with pride
eyes barely meeting yours

Your eyes took in my likeness
Your skill with a brush
with perspective and colour
captured my mood
Now I’ll live on for hundreds more


Viv Parks lives in Southern England and loves writing poetry. She particularly enjoys the monthly Special Challenges.

Three Poems by Bruce McRae

Pluto, Or Bust

The edge of the edge of the edge . . .

After Pluto, then what?
More nothing. Ruin engaged
with the absolutes of nothingness.
Dark bodies of the void.
Tumbling ice. Imaginary fragments.
A ballet of rubble.

The first astronaut to Pluto said
what what what.
He saw the star was a sun
and said what.
He scanned Charon, muttering what.
He surveyed the starscape, longing
for home in the primordial whatness.

Pluto, which was, but now isn’t, a planet.
Like the tenth planet. Like Planet X.
Like a rogue planet discovered by accident.
By the Hardy Boys.
By wistful intuition.

Pluto, last stop on the Interstellar Express.
A buggy blot on a lens or a mirror.
A snowball thrown by a once-playful god,
a god grown vindictive and angry
among the excesses of pure abandon.

Astronomically Speaking

The Big Bang was simply a drawer
being slowly pulled open.
Space didn’t expand, the rooms got smaller.
Quasars are actually restaurants on fire.
Galaxies, we’ve discovered, are really
bathroom lights left on all night long.
What you think of as vast distances
are an optical illusion, the vacuous void
in fact a church hall for hire.
Those aren’t planets you’re seeing either,
they’re Christmas baubles,
the sun a cigarette end
glowing in an overfilled ashtray.
A friend says the stars are sticks burning,
but I have to disagree:
stars are pimples on the cheeks of God.
As for how the cosmos ends,
think of an adolescent sulk,
an initial enthusiasm petering out
like a fad or ardour.

Faraway Suns

“And at night I love to listen to the stars. It is like
five hundred million little bells.”
                    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

More stars than toads or moths or damselflies.
More stars than knots or wedding rings or roses.

From under my pillow I can hear the stars reflect
upon the hideous triumphs of function and form.
They influence my moods and fads in furniture.
The tears of the stars are what water our vegetable gardens.

Black stars. Furnaces of indigo. Of indefinite colour.
Stars that creak in the wind. That create weather.
Fallen stars I collect like acorns or raspberries.
Aloof stars, haughty and remaining at a distance.
Copper stars on silver wires, suspended from the impossible.
Flowers of wordless fragrances gathered at the river’s bend.
Little explosions taking forever to divulge their secrets
to the sleepy child, the fox, the worm, the hare.

A star-quelled night in a curious village.
I’m awake and listening to stories of epic proportions.
Tales of gods and animals, of eternal love and despair.
Saints wailing on a lush sward in Capricorn.
Souls in Aquarius singing an epoch-long mal aria.
Faraway suns, their arms burdened with purple planets.
Bright wells serving the will of the people, the strangest people,
who are very like us, and very much different,
who wish upon stars, studying their bones, and who wonder –
outlandish questions for which no answers exist.
Countless sums beyond number.


Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with well over a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets’ (Silenced Press), ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If’ (Pski’s Porch), ‘Hearsay’ (The Poet’s Haven).

One Poem by Edward Alport

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Bowl

Fat faced peony!
How was such luxuriance
So miniaturised?

How was such divine
Absurdity compressed down
To a Brussels sprout?

Rosebuds are so mean,
Lean and squinty, hiding the
Decadence inside.

Peonies explode
Into not just lush, but dense,
Fleshly profusion.

Peonies that I
Can cup in my hand: a bowl
Of flesh and velvet.

I could stare and stare,
Touching her throat; stroking the
Velvet to my cheek.


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 Rennie Halstead

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Gather Ye Rosebuds

It’s not the roses I offer you
though sweetly scented, sensual,
in shades of pink, a lover’s hue,
a message that I will not tell.

It’s not the bowl of silver bright
cupped in my hands, over full,
shining with reflected light
making hair and dress seem dull.

I am the gift of love to wake
you from your lonely sleep.
I am the gift, the prize to take,
to cherish, love and always keep.
I am the gift, don’t throw me away,
a faded rose of yesterday.


Rennie has been writing since he was eleven. He writes poetry and flash fiction. You can find his poetry on his ello site at:

One Poem by Martha Landman

On the Farm in Africa with Father

She arrives in a dust storm, six years
from her last visit. Eight decades
bend him over but he ambles
all over the farm — firm on his land.

Recalcitrant rain abandons dry earth
vegetable crops saved by boreholes.
At 11 pm he drives to switch off the pumps.
His wife anguishes behind the security fence.

Father and daughter crawl at 2 kph in his battered ute
hands clench the steering wheel in stubborn grip.
Cataract eyes search their way through nut trees,
at the meter he gets out to read the water’s pressure.

Bewildered struggle to find his way back
into the car, blinded by headlights,
a ghost peeping around the bonnet
he shrugs off his embarrassment like dust.

At first light he will rise again —
letting the dogs out for a morning pee.
All day he’ll watch the ominous clouds
longing for her next visit.


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

One Poem by Robinson Terry

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

My Gaze

I looked not at the artist
But past him,
Past his ornamental rugs on his glossy wooden floors
Toward the door,
Toward home.
He saw me gathering rosebuds
And told me he needed,
Absolutely had to,
It was utterly imperative
That he paint me.
I said no,
I’m just getting these for my mother.
She’s ill,
And the sight of these always cheers her up.
I will pay you.
How much?
How much do you want?
Let me go home and talk with her.
I’ll meet you here again at this time tomorrow
With an answer.
When we met next,
He immediately handed me five times
What she told me to ask for.
I looked up at him,
Smiled and nodded,
And put the money in my purse.
A wordless transaction.
Now I stand on a small stage holding a
Brass or silver or other metal vase,
With this wealthy man painting me.
He gave me the dress and
He fashioned my hair and
He rearranged the dress,
And he told me to stand straighter more than once.
I do not tell him
How anxious I feel,
How strange and uncomfortable this is,
How my arms and fingers are growing weary,
I think not of these things.
I look past them,
And think only of
How much this money will help my mother.


Robinson Terry lives and works in NE Iowa. He enjoys pausing hikes for beautiful views and stopping on the bridge to watch the river. He’s been published in 50-Word Stories and Flash Fiction Press.

One Poem by Jane Lovell

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

If you had arrived yesterday

If you had arrived yesterday, these roses
would be perfect; the tulips on the sill
were not yet picked, and the girl that caught
your eye was not turning and turning
in the hallway, its crocus light adrift
on her dress, her skin.
How do I explain to you the waiting,
the sorrow, the dreaming of you?

In the garden, I hear linnets questioning
the evening, its late sun slanting in,
and contemplate your absence, the dread
that you will not return again.
Oh, such pale light the maythorn brings,
its sweet scent so bewildering.


Jane Lovell has been widely published in journals and anthologies. She won the Flambard Prize in 2015 and has been shortlisted for several awards including the Basil Bunting Prize, the Robert Graves Prize and Periplum Book Award. Her pamphlets have been published by Against the Grain Press, Night River Wood and Coast to Coast to Coast. Jane also writes for Elementum Journal.