One Poem by Kari A Flickinger

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The End of the World as the End of Tranquility

It hardly matters
when we wander by—our skulls heavy
in our carven heads.

Our platitudes drip
from our standards like life
has from the limbs of a cove of clover

that has been
trampled in a lane.

The bold whim of the bumble
bee or the silent skulking
dandelion—well

but toothed—are inconsequential
as they

tear themselves apart or
are rended—drunk on sheaves
of lettered phrases

at the plundered well—the space between
open eyes—that

overall scheme
hardly matters as we thread
through countryside.

Our hands so soft in their holding.

The world so big and known.

 

Kari A. Flickinger was a 2019 nominee for the Rhysling Award, and a finalist in the IHLR 2018 Photo Finish. Her poetry was published in Written Here, Riddled with Arrows, Door-Is-A-Jar, BHP, and Mojave Heart Review among others. She is an alumna of UC Berkeley. Find her: kariflickinger.com @kariflickinger.

One Poem by Eamonn Shanahan

After the Treatment

The morning has dressed itself and brushed its teeth
the juice is done, the eggs are boiling on the hob
the boys are hard at homework, frowning over
pencils, capital k’s, geography
their mother attends to her feeding peg.

For months we have lived under a lead ceiling
our love shuffling around in slippers, afraid
of everything, the telephone, nature.
Our happiness is haunted by its loss
the world trembles with time and stares back
like an ocean when the season is over.

I slide a CD into the player, Midnight Walker
Davy Spillane on uillean pipes, and the room
suddenly swells with the drone and the chanter
our garden, the big trees behind, the sky.

 

Eamonn Shanahan is teacher, translator and writer, currently living in Croatia, where it’s cheap enough to raise a family without being tethered to a full-time job. He has had poems published in Magma, Brixton Poets, and the anthology ‘the art of love’ (londonart.co.uk). He writes poetry and fiction (and occasional cultural journalism).

One Poem by Rennie Halstead

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Bethnal Green 1890

They laughed at me when I planted my back yard,
an apple tree, a patch of turf from home
carried in a willow basket,
wet with moss, a living memory,
rich wet clay bursting with grass,
white campion, ribwort, yarrow,
bringing the country here,
brightening these forbidding slums,
dark graveyard terraces,
sterile, noisy, crowded,
bustling with poverty,
teeming with a different life.

I longed for the cottage in Kent,
the rolling Downs, the meadows,
latticed hop gardens, cherry,
apple and pear blossom softly pink
stretching east and west across the Downs.

He never understood, my town boy,
had never tasted milk fresh from the cow,
butter glistening from the churn,
fresh water sparkling from the well,
eggs still warm from the nest,
apples crisp from the trees.

I left the day my mother died,
leaving me her cottage,
gathered my children,
walked out of the city
shook the dust off my shoes,
rode wagons and carts,
taking a week to reach my home,
find my life again.

He came once, to try my country life,
couldn’t settle,
deafened by birdsong,
he left for the grime he called home.

 

Rennie has been writing since he was eleven. He writes poetry, flash fiction and short stories. You can find his poetry on his ello site at: https://ello.co/bigren

Two Poems by John Grey

S-Shaped

Snakes hiss and sometimes they rattle.
They don’t sing. And none have spoken
since the Garden of Eden.

Their very presence is ominous,
for us, not for them. The word “serpent” is like
an angry snake on the tongue.

They are s-shaped in a world where
nothing is. Except for the mouths of those
who speak the word “serpent” and get away with it.


Karaoke Night

Sure I’d rather it was Van the Man up here
and not me.
Or Rod the Mod.
Or whoever else recorded this song.
But this is a Karaoke bar.
The stars don’t perform here.
Only the rankest of amateurs.

I request number 175,
“Have I Told You Lately That I Love You.”
Knees tremble.
Jaw clamps tight.
Brow sweats.
Can barely hold the mike in my hand.
I just hope you realize
that the bum notes
don’t represent bum feelings.
And when the melody
gets away from me,
just remember,
there’s more to a man
than the sweetness of his voice.

And, besides,
I have told you lately that I love you.
So consider yourself warned.

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and Roanoke Review.

One Poem by Angela Porter

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Grass of Albrecht

Sage army boats cross.
Dust toned in religious house,
White Campions rise!
Did Durer, as a painter
Or person mean this?

Or was he wrapped in heaven
Of botanicals,
Thinking mute coloured shade days.
Even as he passed
Into Switzerland, not stirred
From shining beauty?

The Heartsease has assurance,
Penny leaves, earth bound.
They find space, a way round things –
Floral artistry?

It seems that his heart opens
As a book or case,
Struggles with hostility.
My days are nothing like this.

 

Angela has a booklet of poetry published with Reach Poetry (Indigo Dreams Publishing) and a painting retained at Holland House in Pershore, Worcestershire. She would be interested to meet Imaginary Artists through LinkedIn (with or formerly with Society of Art of Imagination connections).

One Poem by Susan Surette

Beneath City Streets

Hurried feet
scratch against granite stairs
from underground tunnels
into life’s swirl

Legions of shoes
smack the surface
while descending into warmer depths
jumbled conversations ease
burdened shoulders

Metal gates open
bodies push through
joining the masses
with a sense of urgency
on their destination
into the tide of humanity
competing with stale air

A sudden whoosh
of expectant air,
doors slide open
expelling bodies;
others shuffle forward
consolidating themselves
in space
unwilling to accommodate

Multitudes spread
along stained concrete
in low yellow light
past tacky billboards
grimy walls
tasteless decor

 

Susan Surette is an avid traveler, bibliophile, grandmother, hand drummer, yogi and poet with work published in The Avocet, Westward Quarterly, The Voices Project, Nine Muses Poetry and The Curlew. She recently founded the Not Yet Dead Poets Society in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

One Poem by James Bell

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

turf wars

an island in isolation its plants a pact
that stick together when there’s nowhere else to go

there is little among such unnatural arrangements
though substantial in all its variety

a season where daises bloom in spite
of everything – would travel if they could

beyond their own turf – nobody can be
an island – or is it noman the native

species now become extinct due to
lack of space in nothing much at war

with itself in an endless entirety – expresses
a state in the region of zero and beyond

this is prehistoric forest in a microscopic
world where insects and plants exist in harmony

about to be turned over or dried up in a pile
that will coalesce into another larger world

 

James Bell – is a Scottish writer who now lives in France where he contributes photography and non-fiction to an English language journal. He has two previous collections of poetry published and continues to write and have work appear internationally, some about to appear in several languages. He is a regular contributor to Nine Muses Poetry.

One Poem by Monty Jones

Our Story

We might escape from history, flee
down the hill, through a stand of willows,
into the fog on the Volga, and come
to a bargeman who for what little we have
will carry us away from whatever town that was,

where commissars and captains worked
their way through the rickety trains,
upending the horse carts, others
trailing behind them with the lists
of the enemy, running now to several volumes.

We might be caught, escape again,
and be caught again, and come so close to
the indifference of the machine guns
that we will learn an indifference of our own,
watching the man we stood beside being led away.

All we know is that as the story comes to a close
we are by all the inevitable miracles
still alive, for it is our story.

“Knight Without Armour,” 1937

 

Monty Jones is a writer in Austin, Texas. His book of poems Cracks in the Earth was published in 2018 by Cat Shadow Press of Austin.

One Poem by Gareth Writer-Davies

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Flora

Sugar Loaf Mountain, Abergavenny

it’s only within thirty feet of the summit
that the mountain starts

until then
a shorn hill shaped like a volcano (the stone far too young for that to be true)

in the crevices of the rocks
is the flora
that the sheep can’t reach

rue-leaved saxifrage, procumbent pearlwort
roseroot, green spleenwort and brittle bladder-fern

which are alpine (if not artic)
miniatures
astray from fauna and time

as if the gwyll
had cast a spell and hid a garden amongst the cracks

though this isn’t that type of poem
it’s just
that science has so many unspeakable facts

most plants
are actually quite dull
it’s the finding of them in unexpected places, that sets the mind racing

 

gwyll: supernatural Old Woman of the Mountain; other definitions also.

Gareth Writer-Davies is from Brecon, Wales. Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2014 and 2017). Commended in the Prole Laureate Competition (2015). Prole Laureate for 2017. Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition (2015). Highly Commended in 2017. His first collection “The Lover’s Pinch” (Arenig Press) was published June, 2018.

One Poem by Michael Estabrook

Curiosity

After half a century,
through the miracle of social media,
you found your first girlfriend –
you were the love of her life she told you.

Then there was Ron
your best college buddy
who’s found Jesus
wondering why you haven’t.

And now you’re curious
what happened to Marie
the sexy blonde you worked with
at the ice cream stand.

Seriously? How many times
do you have to be taught
the same lesson:
leave the past where it is.

 

Michael Estabrook small press poet since the 1980s striving always for greater clarity and concision rendering language more succinct and precise more accessible and appealing a Sisyphean adventure for sure. Retired now writing more and working more outside just noticed two Cooper’s hawks staked out in the yard or rather above it which explains the nerve-wracked chipmunks. The Poet’s Curse, A Miscellany is a recent collection (The Poetry Box, 2019).