One Poem by Andrew Howdle

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Portents

Hail, to the Kalends of Janus,
When the world opens once again
To the smooth and glissading year.

Peace and goodwill to all that set
Dark wars behind them and turn as
Heralds towards the forward light.

Night sparkles, saffron fizzles, sun
Flares on golden, temple roofs as
The day fills with scintillant talk.

There is no need for a flamen
To attend, for all who live must
Serve order and life’s double god.

*      *      *

But all is not well by the Nones
This year, for airwaves are strident
With the morning calls of blackbirds.

The sub-song of winter and its
Chattering bushes has thawed too
Early into amorous cries.

Already, the crocus has thrust
Its phallus and opened the earth’s
Doors with a sharp, amber warning.

The forests are aflame, drones buzz
Out of season, and gateways spring
Open to greet two-faced Chaos.

 

Andrew Howdle is a retired teacher and educational consultant. He lives in Leeds, England. His poems have appeared in Ekphrastic Review, Impossible Archetype, Singapore Unbound, and Lovejets (2019), an anthology of poems for Walt Whitman.

Two Poems by Lorette C Luzajic

Requiem for a Dream

Vienna, in winter. It will swallow you, Amadeus, and your darkest and most sublime notes will be lodged in its throat. You left nothing, and everything, behind. The mist of limestone will float in the faded light, dust mote ghosts dissolving into morning. The keening of ladies will wane, too, but the emphatic triumph of those who envied you will turn bitter. They will weep for your waltzes like women. There is a river somewhere in the story. Your pristine clarinets, your aching violins, still whisper from her deep.


Witness

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”  C.S. Lewis

I know what was done to you, I know how hard it is to find your way with these zigzag scars. We were all skewered, scattered, skinned alive, and the worst of it was yours. There are no witnesses that remain, no guardians of that lineage outside of our story. When you flounder, spaceless, faceless in the vineyards and all those orchards of rotted apples and pears, I am standing there like a pylon ghost, marking the ways in which you were erased, the ways you were taken down. None of the letters I wrote on our behalf made a difference to those who had their own version of events, but I was there. I know. I know how you were small and defenseless and just wanted to show her the buried treasure you excavated by trowel and brush. I know how you were born and blamed, because you were made in his image. I know how you wanted to forgive what she could not resolve or keep.

 

Lorette C. Luzajic is an artist and writer in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of four independently published poetry books, including Aspartame and The Lords of George Street. Her poems have also appeared in hundreds of print and online journals, recently Wild Word, Heart of Flesh, L.A. Cultural Weekly, KYSO Flash, and Indelible. Her artwork and poetry have both appeared in numerous anthologies like Unsheathed (Kingly Street Press, ed. Betsy Mars) and Group of Seven Reimagined (Heritage Books, ed. Karen Schauber). Lorette has been nominated twice each for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. She is the editor of The Ekphrastic Review, an online journal devoted entirely to writing inspired by art. Visit her at www.mixedupmedia.ca.

One Poem by Kate Young

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Forbidden Love

Eyes in the back of my head
I am condemned to stare out
at a world without you,
the separate, the conjoined,

forbidden to stroke your glorious face
or tease your tousled hair,
my breath easing over your chest
tracing veins to a constrained heart.

I long to break free of this cast
to explore the chill of moulded skin,
my whispered words melting rules
in a fever, prejudice thawing.

I sense a subtle shift of atom, grain,
attitudes carved on marble plinth
crumbling like archaic parchment,
a whisper of change escaping.

Nearby a butterfly flirts in air,
patterns matching wind-shift,
its dance, a flutter of colour
in a world confined to black and white.

Too cool it basks on stone or rock,
adjusts, spreads its paper-lace wings
and absorbs the warmth in its form,
content in its evolution.

 

Kate Young lives in Kent with her husband and has been passionate about poetry and literature since childhood. Over the last few years she has returned to writing and has had success with poems published in webzines in Britain and internationally. She particularly enjoys responding to Ekphrastic challenges. Kate is presently editing her work and setting up her website.

Two Poems by Dave Lewis

River Wye Weekend

You came in a beat up old blue Landie
with tales of sleeping giants on your lips.
It was your first night in the cottage
when the Wye was skipping over stones,
dividing the spiked water milfoil
with sacred Pumlumon Fawr sunk into the sunset.

We watched a heron draggle
in and out of the water crowfoot beds,
trusted we’d see muntjac or wild boar tomorrow.
Look, there’s a kingfisher, jewelled above the otter’s holt
and later a dipper, teeter-totter,
near the yellow-cress.

Watching frogs collared by ripples
we wish for a grass snake or polecat.
Skipping past horse-tail and great willowherb
you trace the sand martins with your miniature fingertips
while I collect peppery chives from the bedrock
and turn my once carefree soul to my stomach.


Pills

It’s not like I want to be one of the selective six million.
It’s not like I had a choice, you tell me
over sedate teacups in the second-hand bookshop.
Your serotonin eyes yo-yo to a full moon
and your blood tattoos become visible, like a Dylan print
about trains or an old map maker’s stained parchment,
as the long sleeves ride up on your pretty flower dress
to expose you to this desiccated world like a tide rushing out.
Then you calmly tell me that you used to see
so many, very different versions of the sky,
where devils and dragons threw fire at the stars
but now all you see is a fog and a glue and a misty grin,
washed out by those asparagus-coloured pills
and a small light, less ordinary and constant
and sometimes you wish for the monsters to return
so you’ll know you’re alive one more time
but you’re afraid of the doorbell and the pavement
and those people who walk down the street,
‘cos they might see you for what you really are.

 

Dave Lewis is a poet and photographer who also runs the International Welsh Poetry Competition, the Writers of Wales database, Wales Trails and book publishing company Publish & Print. He has been published all over the world in various magazines and websites. For more details visit Dave’s website: www.david-lewis.co.uk

One Poem by Randal A Burd, Jr.

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

What Will Stay?

Unyielding ancient Roman gods stare out
With sightless eyes on futures never seen
The cold, dead stone contrasting with the green
Of life renewed and thriving all about.

Their likenesses, once known, are now obscure,
As will be those who we now cast in bronze.
Our kings and queens, our bishops, knights, and pawns,
Torn down by those who’ll find our thoughts impure.

What will it matter, when we’ve gone away?
We primitive and unenlightened lot
Who’ve squandered time and grace so dearly bought,
What dear to us will fade, and what will stay?

They’ll view us with a condescending air,
Interpreting what wasn’t ever there.

 

Randal A. Burd, Jr. is a married father of two and an educator who works with the disadvantaged in rural Missouri. He holds a master’s degree in English Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Missouri. Randal is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Sparks of Calliope magazine. His latest collection of poems, Memoirs of a Witness Tree, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in Summer 2020.

One Poem by Martha Landman

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

In the year 2020

Janus looks back and sees:
a woman swats a fly against a kitchen window
a cricket ball abandoned in an empty field
teenagers’ clothes on a bedroom floor
youths demand climate change action
mothers give birth on the roadside
a woodpecker drums against a tree
harvests reaped, cherries planted.

Janus sees other things too:
terrorists, refugees and evacuees
volcanoes, floods and tornadoes
a thick rainbow after a storm
doors close, windows open
towns and forests ablaze
astronomers count stars
presidents impeached
a world at war
and on it goes.

Janus’ other head
looks forward
heaves a sigh
sees it all
over again.

 

Martha Landman lives in Adelaide, South Australia and has published widely. She has previously contributed to Nine Muses Poetry.

One Poem by Martha Landman

Dear John

I wasn’t a romantic
the way you wanted me to be.

I enjoyed the desert nights, cold stars
our backward race away from an elephant herd
wild beasts on the African plains
every fight a red pin on a travel map
in Sri Lanka we watched cricket and blockbusters all night.

The cold had suddenly crept in from the south.
It was a day to stay inside and clean the shelves
— memories in every corner
how you loved those girls in front of my eyes
whispered sweetness in their ears.

Dreaming of Greek goddesses and writhing snakes
I woke up one day to a stranger in my bed
his body bleak and unsalty
the king-size bed suddenly too small
clouds visible through half-drawn curtains
the rain fell softly against the window
when I stepped away, sailboats in the distance.

I haven’t thought of you for a while
today my walk was more in tune
the birds flew higher, their wings flapped calmer
there was a platypus at the bridge
the smell of Jasmine softened the air.

 

Martha Landman writes in Adelaide, Australia. Her work has appeared online and in print in US, UK, Australia and South Africa.

One Poem by Edward Alport

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Gate of the Year

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
‘Show me your wares that I may decide whether to stay or buy your wares and go on.’
And he replied,
‘Whether you buy my wares or stay behind is nothing to me,
But few will stay behind to keep you company.’
So I went on.
For a while his wares brought terrors to my mind,
The greater fear was being left behind.

 

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.

Two Poems by Jim Brosnan

Moments Snatched Before Midnight

Only after
the moments
have disappeared
do I lament
the passing of time—
the evening
we parked
near the lake
where oaks hugged
the winter sunset
and the moon’s
shafts reflected
in an inky emptiness
on the icy banks
where we studied
half crusted boulders
brushstroked in glitter
before gazing across
moonlit fields of snow,
to savor the serenity
of a Minnesota sky
while the night
remained mute.


In a Notebook about Stars

I prefer to travel
at night when
darkness smothers
Midwestern towns
at the edge
of interstate,
creates an asphalt
sanctuary where
I can whisper
under a Buck Moon,
gaze at Venus,
Saturn and Mercury
since quiet afternoons
don’t often reveal secrets
nor provide the setting
where I can meditate
on the meaning of time
for a few hours
before I begin to wonder
where I might find you.

 

Jim Brosnan’s publishing credits include Nameless Roads (Moon Pie Press, 2019), four chapbooks of poetry and over 500 poems most recently appearing in the Aurorean, Crossways (Ireland), Eunoia Review (Singapore), Nine Muses Poetry (Wales), Scarlet Leaf Review (Canada), Strand (India), and Voices of the Poppies Anthology (UK).

One Poem by Eric Nicholson

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Two Faced

Janus was a two-faced god
who liked to play the fool.
He faced both ways at once
and never lost his cool.

He’d turn his head so he could see
but now and then he’d shed a tear –
and sometimes laugh and spread alarm –
which face was sad was never clear.

He’d sometimes smile and sometimes cry
but when you tried to look and see
he’d change his faces tit for tat
then cut a caper with great glee.

 

Eric Nicholson lives in the NE of England. He is a retired art teacher and sometimes writes about art. He has a number of poems online and blogs at: https://erikleo.wordpress.com