Two Poems by John Grey

The Fog

The fog resists my attempt
to grab a fistful of its grayness.
For in the game of fog,
nothing is ever caught.

It moves ahead of me at slow speed,
a seamless canter,
then slips sideways,
as though a breeze shifted course,
and desperate regathering
was needed to keep the fog whole.

After that,
its fear seems to disappear a little.
Fog stalls
even as I draw close.
Birds fly in and out.
It moistens the tips of leaves.

But then, as I step forward,
it slips back into the game,
teases by completely surrounding me.
My grasp embraces all of it
but my reach has nothing to show.

Then slowly it dies in the heat and light.
At the jetty’s edge,
I’m chief mourner,
a fitting funeral
for one I never knew.


In the Flood

You never know with water.
The ocean’s not enough for it.
It has to spread across the land,
courtesy of torrential rains,
hurricane winds.
Even the rivers can get out of control
like three-year-olds.
The banks don’t hold.
Barriers can only do so much.

Houses connect to the land.
The sight of so much water
throws them.
First, it floats away the welcome mat.
Then it moves into the first floor,
rises toward the second.
People can only scramble up
to their rooftops
and watch cars washed away,
trees uprooted, streets flooded,
animals drowned, crops destroyed.

Someone says that nature’s
angry about something,
when it’s really indifferent
about everything.
The clouds aren’t rabid.
The air’s not crazed.
They just react to circumstances.

So these forces aren’t erratic after all.
They’re as logical as atoms making molecules.
Our angsts, our disturbances,
our tensions, our fear of change –
that’s the true storm.

Eventually, the sun comes out.
The water recedes.
Time to inspect the damage.
Yourself is a good place to start.

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and failbetter.

One Poem by Kristopher William Locke

Shatter Ball

There will always be a version
of you, that fits me like a glove
Bracing for the why-oh-you turn, for the
long con / prison shank / the shatter ball

My playful political calculus—
our poetic populist policy—yr cheeky centrist drift
Poking holes in the bow of a once buoyant
boy-meets-girl relation ship

Calling the port authority!
Sirens full on! Full lung! Flung into the eye
of the magnetic majority—a precious power vacuum
A sweltering bewildering caused by the bloom
of yr wild moon

I know nothing of this urgent
you speak of; I know nothing of this insurgence
you reek of; my aim is true like Elvis
my love is loyal like Jesus
the rest is on Us
nothing is foe free

There will always be a version
of you, that knits me like a glove
Sadly, you cannot compare notes
with a ghost

 

Kristopher William Locke is a poet born, raised and situated in the Canadian prairies with experience in various mediums including radio, print, web and stage. Readers are invited to join him on the peaks and valleys that exist within, and despite, the flat prairie landscape of his homeland.

One Poem by Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

Attachment Disorder Breached at Last

Need sees her seek food and water, where she can.
Ravenous beyond any prospect of satisfaction
each small nourishment reminds her strung nerves
of starvation   staved away for impermanent now.
Hunger does not demand a surfeit    merely
a sufficiency   unachievable in a cruel family.

Shallow tubers suck weak resources    harvest
residues from thin and arid soil. Ravenous aches gnaw
deep underground, trick her near-defeated self to think,
this is all there ever is, or evermore can be, for me.

She’s primed to make one bad choice after another
and her adult life

remains unfed
until this Spring    her rhizomes extend and split,
take risks, branch out to let light in.

 

Rhizomes – a continuously growing horizontal underground stem which puts out lateral shoots.

Ceinwen lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. She has an MA in Creative Writing [Newcastle 2017]. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

One Poem by J L Smith

Low Tide

Salt filled air,
heavy with humidity,
holding it all together,
like a water heater blanket.

My composure firm,
as long as the seagulls’ cries
don’t remind me of tears,
dead starfish,
how one decision could have such a fatal cost,
how a lifeless jellyfish could foretell
a future of one who stayed too long
in the wrong place.

I stand in silence
waiting for you
and the high tide
to sweep it all away.

 

JL Smith lives in Odenton, MD. She has published over 80 individual works of poetry, nonfiction and fiction in various literary magazines and journals. Her latest publication is a cookbook, Cooking with the Smiths. Read more about her at jlsmithwrites.com or follow her on Twitter @jennifersmithak.

One Poem by Felix Purat

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Old School Abstraction

Siblinghood strolls through some museum
venerating the pre-dysfunction age

When abstractions were the norm
and brothers and sisters were friends

Inseparable, Siamese and worthy
of vengeance

 

Felix hails from Berkeley, CA but lives in the Czech Republic and travels frequently. 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. His webpage is: beyondnorcal.wordpress.com

One Poem by David Hanlon

A Body Is Another Home

Is a sun, effaced.
Is a shipwreck on a sea bed. Is

wildflower-spread hands wound:
motor-spun fire fists.

Is open road legs razored: dead
end, cobbled lanes.

River-flow core weighted: crisis-
cut, granite block.

Sky-stretched lungs fractured shut:
Venus flytraps on defence.

Is that scythe-sharp brain slur:
that evening murk.

My body is a home
is the bulldozed aftermath

of another home.

 

David Hanlon is from Cardiff, Wales, and currently living in Bristol, England. He is a recently qualified counsellor/therapist. You can find his work online in Dirty Paws Poetry Review, Into The Void, Barren Magazine, Boston Accent Lit, Riggwelter Press and forthcoming in Homology Lit and Drunk Monkeys.

One Poem by Anna Schoenbach

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

As One Joined

I hold your hand
I hold your heart
I squeeze it rhythmically
beating, beating
your blood my blood
flowing through our veins

If I am to save you
I must become one
cease to be me
your hand, mine
my heart, yours
your mind my mind your soul my soul

No
I will not

split apart the two
unclasp the fingers
open heart and mind
let me be me
let you be you

Your heart stops without me
as I let go
of you
at last

 

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.

Two Poems by Chrissy Banks

Finn

I’m stopped
             by your lovely wild face
             looking out from a poster
             fixed to a gate

hey Finn
             there you are

I imagine you dancing
some Festival field
             your whisky-brown hair
             doing its own fling

the poster says
             you wear an ear-stretcher

hey Finn
             I wish I had seen you
             without the word Missing
             printed across your chest


Sea Change

The sea was home as much as our island ground.
We dived with the dolphins and flew into air
with the winged stingray. Were we children or fish?
Our mothers laughed and searched for our fins.

How could there ever be too much water?
Or not enough coral? When we turned in our hands
a spiky, familiar branch, we couldn’t have guessed
how the reef would be ravaged.

Wooden stumps are what’s left of the groyne,
splintered heads just above water. The boardwalk
is lost. We’ve witnessed the ocean hurl itself
against houses and burst through rooms.

Even the stars are on walkabout, constellations
that pointed the way to fishermen, now part
of a ruined map. The sea has become a fickle god.
Licks us clean, spits us out or swallows us down.

 

Chrissy Banks’ poems have been published widely in magazines, online journals and anthologies, including Agenda, Orbis, the North, the Rialto, the Lake, Antiphon, And Other Poems and Ink, Sweat & Tears. Her first pamphlet was Watching the Home Movies. A full collection, Days of Fire and Flood, was published by Original Plus in 2005. Chrissy won second prize in the inaugural Wordsworth Trust Single Poem Competition in 2017. Her new collection The Uninvited will be published by Indigo Dreams later this year.

One Poem by Judith Steele

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Siblings

My sisters know me too well,
as I know them.
Our knowledge is skewed
by past events and emotions,
kinks of family customs
and memory’s cartoons.

In knowing too much
we don’t know enough.
Our friends have better knowledge
of our wholes, being unentwined
in childhood’s positions and parts.

Yet when I hear my father or mother
in one sister or another, I’m returned
to family characteristics, random
twists of genetic inheritance.

My heart responds
to the past in the present,
for better or for worse.

 

Judith Steele is Australian. Her poetry or prose has most recently appeared in the print journal Gobshite Quarterly, (U.S.A.), and websites Nine Muses Poetry and New Verse News. https://newversenews.blogspot.com/

One Poem by Samuel Swauger

Breakfast Poem

Why do you wake up so late in the morning,
only when rush-hour traffic has split the doves’
chatter to industrial screeching, and all I can
turn to is the rhythm of your heart?

I wish we could talk over scrambled eggs and
hazelnut coffee, when the road is tongue-tied,
and the grass out back is awash in orange under
the sunrise.

Just a half-hour meal would feel like days, we’d
talk about your beautiful dreams and what to do
with ourselves on hot Saturday nights when
comforters don’t.

For once the sky wouldn’t be so melancholy,
like when the clouds come low and smother
us, soaking up our aspirations for a pretty day
in pastel fog.

When it’s chilly, my pillows are cold as marble
countertops. The bedside lamp radiates a
mellow glow, but the fog chokes it out and I
move by your siren song.

Your voice is crisp and sweet. When the birds
are gone I think of how you said my surname
that first time. Oh, I don’t remember who I was
before we met.

 

Samuel Swauger is an author and poet from Baltimore, Maryland. His website is samuelswauger.com and his Twitter is @samuelswauger.