One Poem by Martha Landman

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

chemistry between two figures —

after Figures on a Beach, 1930, by Louis Marcoussis

he sits in a power stance
deep in talk with a laidback colleague
in paisley-patterned dress

on a Breton beach
a day stolen away from the office
a seagull’s caw sounds an alarm

she doesn’t take it seriously
that he assumes adoration
she plays him

dabs a bit more Vanitas Versage
on her suntanned wrists
stretches out like a cat

she sees more significance
in the sun’s sinister black eye
or a hole in the ozone layer

than the numbers and facts
he draws in the sand
knowing the difference

between precision and accuracy
shadow and depth
she puts him through the test

follows his eyes to her lips
she makes him work
holds her point of view

 

Martha Landman writes in South Australia. Her work has appeared online and in anthologies in the US, UK, Australia and South Africa. Her chapbook, Between Us, was published by Ginninderra Press.

One Poem by Juliet Wilson

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Petrified

We are turned to stone by lockdown
everything faded to black and white and muted tones.

We hunch in strange, expectant postures
our minds deranged by lies and rumours.

Somewhere the eclipsed sun rises
or is it falling?

Socially distanced,
we lose our grasp on time.

 

Juliet Wilson is an adult education tutor and conservation volunteer living in Edinburgh. She blogs at http://craftygreenpoet.blogspot.com and sells her handmade jewellery in her Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/CraftyGreenPoet).

Two Poems by Cherry Doyle

Take off your shoes

After a first line by Matthew Sweeney

Take off your shoes, he said, get comfortable.
Take off your coat; the oak of his arms around me.
Take off your glasses, he said, his face out of focus,
I want to see myself in your eyes.
Take off your shirt, he said, join me in my bed,
where our fingers met, electric, in the dark.
Take off your hair – you don’t need that anymore;
he grabbed it like a rabbit’s pelt, held it aloft.
Take off your skin; I let him in to the rush of blood,
he filled my heart and lungs with sawdust.
Take off your flesh; his fingers delved between
the parting muscle, gripped my bones.
Take off your shoes, he said, you’re home.


Icebergs

Toad-brown summer pooled under her eyes,
nearly forty years of pock marks ended
where my fat and clinging hands began.

The chrysanthemums came out,
my mother poured her last glass of morning sun,
left the kitchen scented with fennel and vinegar.

My father hollowed out like beer foam.
Great icebergs came in on walking boots;
split and melted by the back door.

 

Cherry Doyle lives near Cannock Chase in Staffordshire. Her work has appeared in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Southlight, Presence, Femku, and various anthologies. She has been shortlisted for the Plough Prize and the WoLF Competition. Her debut pamphlet, September, was published by Offa’s Press in 2019.

One Poem by Keith Tucker

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Unfolding

And this is how it unfolds
Desperate soul on the beach
Each work-a-day crease
Eased out across the sand

Sharp angles softening
Under a muted sun
A cartography of soul searching
Trying not to be a study in blues.

 

Keith Tucker lives in Oxfordshire and supports people with Learning Disabilities and Autism to use poetry to communicate their needs, desires, and stories. He has recently been published by Words for the Wild.

One Poem by Sammi Cox

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Stuck in His Shape

he was all
angles and straight lines
nothing out of place
each piece of the puzzle
fitting snugly together
to ensure he made
a complete whole

he couldn’t bend
– wouldn’t
would never give
a fraction of an inch
out of choice or
by nature?
I was never sure

until one day
he hit an obstacle
he couldn’t go around
or go over
which was when I realised
he didn’t know the answer
either

 

Sammi Cox lives in the UK and spends her time writing and making things. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in various places online and in print. Her first collection of tiny tales, One Turn of The Wheel, was published by Three Drops Press in 2017. Find her at:  https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/

One Poem by Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

Thank You, Ginny

An impulse call –

Do you fancy walking, today
before the lockdown?

So glad you agreed, let me see your face
even at two metres distance
before memory became the only way
[apart from distortions
by Skype or Zoom cluttered
with stuttered images and phrases].

We tramped across Morpeth Common, talked
whilst sunshine parted bobbled clouds –
dream castles, driven by North Easterlies
across March’s uncertain skies.
Sea-salt breezes stung our cheeks red,
made eyes water, as our trainers sank in mud.

Cold, damp feet were nothing, Ginny,
when I was blessed with happiness
walking side by side, with you.
Chatting of this and that, small talk
underpinned by all our many meanings.

I didn’t want to go, after our circle ended,
yet my heart was stronger
having fallen in distanced step with you

and knowing one day we’d walk again,
arms linked, like we strolled in our not-lost days.

 

(for my daughter)

 

Ceinwen lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry and has been widely published online and in print journals. She is a Pushcart and Forward Prize nominee (2019). She holds an MA in Creative Writing (Newcastle, 2017). She believes everyone’s voice counts.

One Poem by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Borrowed time

We squelch the water
out of the sand in our beach buckets
silica grains twinkle like concealed gems
to me you look like Aladdin
framed against the distant dunes
your arms overflowing
with onyxes and tourmalines.

The afternoon air is tungsten hot
on our two-toned skin
the silt quickly dries into a pale beige
as the sun scorches down on us
like a daric coin in a gold foil sky.

I watch you scoop mud from the furrows
pick granules of quartz
from tiny fosses
the castles we have built are grand
our mini-turrets glow in russet and sepia
we recline around them
pleased with our artistry.

We decorate our ramparts with cerith shells
watch the waves flirt with our bulwarks
inch close and break
into sheets of lace and foam
the water snake into our miniature moats
the colour of milky bronzite.

In this haven by the sea
little do we know
that we live on borrowed time
our innocent ears so oblivious
to the roar of the marauding machines
rumbling in on caterpillar tracks
crushing past the borders
growling for blood
even as we build our castles
laugh and lose ourselves in play.

Before us, the boom of the sea
muffles for now
the splintering of glass and steel.

 

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is an Indian-Australian artist and poet. She is a member of Sydney’s North Shore Poetry Project, and Authora Australis. Her poem, “Mizpah”, was awarded an Honorable Mention in The Glass House Poetry Awards 2020. She has been widely published in both print and online journals and anthologies.

One Poem by Rebecca Patrascu

Dispatch from an Abandoned House

It would be a lie to say only the suitcase is left.
The ground is left, the walls, the holes once windows,
shreds of curtain like surrendered marionettes.
I am left, standing on afterthought scraps of burlap
scattered on a floor that apathy has kept in place.
The century’s ordnance has done its best.

In my left pocket a key that might open the lock,
let out light and a waltz of plumed carnival horses.
In my left pocket a key that would open the lock,
let loose a dying star’s pull, take me in its mouth.
It’s certain. It’s unlikely. It’s detonation’s hymn.

I remember a color that isn’t ash, isn’t soot,
but whoever fastened this clasp is counting ants.
This is a case for a silk trousseau. An instrument,
as my skin wants to be. Box in which is kept chalice,
ox horn comb. Trunk of the improbable.

Not the only thing left. Only the only whole thing.
Rough around the edges as a man’s last breath,
handle smiling past its secrets. One slit,
one click, one turn. Smell of char, marigold.
Perfume of unturned cards. In my pocket, the key.

 

Rebecca Patrascu is the author of the chapbook Before Noon. Her poetry and reviews have appeared in multiple publications. She has an MFA from Pacific University and lives in California, where she works at a public library, studies Welsh, and catches honey bee swarms in the Spring.

One Poem by Dorothy Burrows

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Seven Perspectives on a Rock Bed

1.
On rocks, a woman, a man.
On a slab of granite, he waits, focusing
on the face of a cliff she cannot see for now. She is awake,
pretending to sleep. Her left eye watches him. Her pupil dilates.

2.
The eye of a woman sees
yesterday. She is only half awake. Her left
eye is roaming. It is sinking with the sun from bedrock to ocean.
She conjures a younger man, alive on a midnight beach, dozing, naked.

3.
A man on his high throne
regards a small woman asleep at his feet and
wonders if one day she will snore; will he lie next to her unable
to sleep on sand because of her? Before that, will they have the future?

4.
The head of a cliff faces
the body of a woman who is no longer at rest.
She stretches, kneels, arm towards a man astride a jagged boulder
of granite that has lasted millions of years; she feels her swelling curve.

5.
On a craggy outcrop
a man with broadened shoulders sits absent-mindedly
ignoring a woman; his legs are splayed to balance their discomfort.
Their unhappiness grows greyer, a dull ochre; each month more mottled.

6.
A woman considers the grit of
a man who was once her lover and is now her husband
and father of her unborn child; she wonders why he is staring
so blankly at the headland; why perch on a rock instead of a deck chair?

7.
A man, a woman, on the rocks.
He looks at a woman, who from his angle,
appears to have shrunken her head. She considers his flat stance
as the tide flows, creeping up on two figures, trapped on a grey stone bed.

 

Dorothy Burrows enjoys writing flash fiction, short plays and poetry. This year her poems have  appeared on various e-zines including Words for the Wild, Another North, Nine Muses Poetry and The Ekphrastic Review. She walks regularly in the countryside near her home on the edge of the North Wessex Downs.

Two Poems by John Sweet

[from the time we were young]

august light and
september air

ask de chirico

we have always been in love,
you and i,
but we have always been lost

all clocks stopped

all moments equal
and unfaded

undiminished

and i am tired of being 24
of being 37
of being 52

i am tired of living in
a desert of my own creation

give me someone to
blame for my mistakes and
i will only be the same
as everyone else


cupid, deconstructed

and even here, from a continent away,
i can tell that you’re the sun,
and what the fuck good does it do me?

anger is not a gift, of course,
and pain is not a blessing

memories are untrustworthy at best

they will only slow you down when
the time comes to make your escape

 

John Sweet sends greetings from the rural wastelands of upstate NY. He is a firm believer in writing as catharsis, and in the continuous search for an unattainable and constantly evolving absolute truth. His latest poetry collections include HEATHEN TONGUE (2018 Kendra Steiner Editions) and A FLAG ON FIRE IS A SONG OF HOPE (2019 Scars Publications).