One Poem by Lynn White

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Sitting Squarely

Beach chairs are so uncomfortable.
I was sitting squarely for a while
now I’m squirming around
trying out new positions
without success.
I look down at you with envy
lying there.
“Let’s have a change”,
I say, “you try the chair”.
But there’s no budging you
from your comfort zone
and really,
I don’t blame you.
You were right,
we should have bought two beach mats.

 

Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Find Lynn at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynn-White-Poetry/1603675983213077?fref=ts and https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com

One Poem by John Grey

Still Life

Time’s been nowhere
according to this lake.
It was here back then
and it hasn’t aged a day.

Boots crackle on dry needles.
And no second hand
bothers to nudge forward.
Sun shines
like a knight’s shield,
keeps ongoing hours at bay.

He stands on the bank
in his favorite flannel shirt
and knee-worn Levis.
His wardrobe can be
any year it chooses.

He looks around.
Kids are splashing.
Lovers hold hands on foot.
The ghosts are too much here
to be worthy of that name.

His reflection in the water
is rippling, not wrinkled.
And soft to the touch
without a hint of leather.

Turtles shimmy through the water.
Their ancient shells can’t fool him.
Not with their young legs kicking.
No getting older for these tiny terrapins.
Time hangs around
to make sure that won’t happen.

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline, Willard and Maple and Red Coyote.

One Poem by James Bell

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

the sun shines distantly on angles

less so on crystal pebbles
for this is no beach of sand
except for the sounds of sea and wind

a place for contemplation
unless you have become a grey statue
that has sat there too long

welcome to a crumbled beach of sorrow
where life has changed forever
and the air is sure to blow you away

waves will continue to carve cliffs
over millennia so what you have known
is due to go in time – no sunken treasure

can ever be washed up when your stillness
has disappeared discounting salted tears
that bared nothing as day and night passed

 

James Bell – returned to writing poetry over twenty years ago and has not yet left. He is a regular contributor to Nine Muses’ Special Challenges. His third poetry collection, Here At The End Of The World, is forthcoming from Lapwing Poetry.

Two Poems by Caroline Am Bergris

Credo

On the bus home, before the rush hour,
I glanced at the window through the rain
as a rainbow mountain throbbed into existence,
layered streams of Neopolitan
enveloping church spire, run-down tower blocks, me,
telling me that everything would be all right,
like the inaccurate loveliness of my mother’s hugs.

My soul surged –
I believed in a benevolent God playing with a prism,
in Fate that had taken me into account.
I believed in love that heals
and angels plotting joyfully for me.
I was sure that suffering would end
but my spirit never would,
knew that my grandmother
had my magic box of sweets for me
in Heaven.

Now, even though it has gone,
the embers of faith
warm the garret of my unbelieving,
still.


Rubato 

Feathery arches suspended against cirrus sky:
two flying swans materialise,
soundless seraphs
highlighted with flame and black
plummeting
into my summer stupor:

down, down,
swooshing onto the river
by the paddling willows.
Suddenly all is slow, serene,
as, enfolded,
they float in front of  me,
etching triangular lines on water.

I follow their pure, processional glide
into the distance,
the train of midnight green ripples
trailing a hope that
one day
I too
might calmly
alight.

 

Caroline Am Bergris has won the Over The Edge Poetry Competition and Eyewear’s competition to be included in an anthology of the best new British and Irish poets. She has been published in various journals in Europe and America and is mentally and physically disabled.

One Poem by Stephen Kingsnorth

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Global Village

As heat is draining from the sky,
though latent, preserved where they lie,
blast change approaches, hours trail by:
ancestral birth, race, traits remain,
but nation, faith, known name transpose
as flat horizon lifts, up rolls,
Marcoussis, ville, joined frame and fame.

The beach purveying slabs of meat,
here now a jigsaw, puzzle fit,
mix matrix, bodies, sun and beach.
So gather pieces, catch the eye,
seek out the corners, choose straight lines,
the items making claim from scene,
a knee, a belly, elbow, toe,
swung languid arm to floppy hand.

The rocks, bold blocks that stock the seen,
stack-pack on pebbles, beige to tan,
some burnt sienna, bluff, rough cove,
sum umber buff, skin swarthy tones –
but in those bodies, lying sand,
tell, what is dune, what flesh on land?

For there, the space for what required,
but is that what the seekers found;
as muscles might with mussels join,
so did they know strand, brawn are bound?
Mesh plexus shadows graticule –
are figures numbers? Flesh, our blood!

 

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over 150 pieces published by on-line poetry sites, including Nine Muses Poetry, printed journals and anthologies.  https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/

Two Poems by Vikram Masson

Little Nita in Lockdown

When they announced the lockdown
little Nita’s mother sat dadi maa on the couch
and fitted a silk dupatta over her nose

and draped her brooding mouth.
Dadi maa stared at little Nita through
her rhinestone glasses, her walking stick

astride the fraying settee.
At least her cursing will stop,
little Nita’s mother said. Her father

had breathlessly brought bags of atta
and rice, pounds and pounds of chana
and dal and poured them into six steel bins.

She had never seen him so nervous, never
seen sweat pattern his back and run from his chin.
Then her father sent Asma the housekeeper away.

Who would braid little Nita’s hair after
a coconut oil bath? Bring her steaming
cups of Maggi noodles for lunch?

As the days passed, patience withered.
Doors slammed, shaking tin cups and splattering
tea on the dhurrie. Little Nita cupped her ears

as her father roared at her mother.
She could only pray to Krishna or read her comics.
Go to the balcony, her mother said one day,

and Little Nita saw thousands of people
lumbering down the National Highway,
their possessions in rags and makeshift bags.

Trickles of policemen imposed order with sticks.
What is all this? Why is the sky so blue?
Where are the cars? She wondered about all this

as she breathed in the limpid air, heard the birds
sing their shrill notes on the sill — as she saw langurs
daringly claim the roofs, as they never had before.


Mangoes

Father brought them home from the farmer’s market
on summer Sundays, wrapped in newspaper,
gathered in a cardboard crate. Grandmother, so old,

her face like a walnut shell, uncradled them
as if they were jewels, their skin ripened to golden
yellow. She sliced them into arcs, scraping close

to the pits exposed like bones, and arranged
the slices mandala-like on a stainless-
steel plate. We’d huddle around and finger

the stringy flesh and spoon it free from skin.
Our beautiful aunt, dark as rhubarb jam,
with eyes shaped like the leaves of a lotus,

would say these Mexican Ataulfos couldn’t
compete with the Indian mangoes she loved.
We’d all guffaw as the sweet juice sugared

our lips and cheeks. My brother, always the clown,
would stick a pit in his mouth and make a face.
This was before father’s hands started to quiver.

Before I understood time, disappointment and fate.
Before death kept announcing itself in whispers
to everyone I loved at that table. In the replay,

I always leave out how suffocated I felt
in an extended immigrant family jostling for space
in a creaking walk-up — burning incense,

frying masala fish, smoking bidis in the yard.
Or those aunts and uncles who kept tallies of insults
and slights, who raged with slippers and saucepans

in fights so fearsome I’d run from the house
and tremble in the shed. Why is it that we tint
our memories with childrens’ laughter,

with a grandmother’s feeding hands, with
mangoes spilling from bushels — unbruised
and radiant — when in truth they were often not?

 

Vikram Masson is a lawyer by training who lives near Richmond, Virginia. His work has been featured most recently in the American Journal of Poetry, Glass, The Blue Mountain Review and Prometheus Dreaming.

One Poem by Edward Alport

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Tension

Do we need that extra turn?
The fine tune?
The last twist of the nerves’ strings?

Back here, the tension has its own smell,
A fierce scent,
A razor-strop to make the nerves spin.

So do we need to twist the tuning peg?
Sinews jangle.
Waiting for the cue. The pointe in time.

We live these low-lit, twi-lit, lime-lit worlds,
These gleaming globes
Complete within their fourth wall.

Our gleaming worlds are our shell, our armour
And our carapace,
Our babies and our mothers’ arms.

We let the big world in, from time to time;
Open our doors,
Let them sit in rows outside the open wall.

They should know their place: outside our worlds.
We need no grit
In our oyster to make pearls.

 

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 Jack Powers

A Little Red

Aunt Pauline started painting in her sixties
little watercolors of beach scenes and roses
matted and framed on her kitchen walls.
Her football-coach husband seemed mystified
at her sudden secret life. Each Tuesday
she packed her paints and set off for class
with 80-something, Mitch Kells, the watercolor king
of Englewood, New Jersey. Put a little red,
he’d say, in each painting, and she’d comply.
Each week a new picture was framed and hung
soon covering the dining room, the living room,
even the basement man cave – a little red in each.

At Mitch’s funeral, she put a red ribbon in his casket.
She’s an artist, her husband said. I never knew.


Rejoice in the Cat

Writing about cats will cast me as crazy.
Smart’s paean to God and Jeoffry was a prayer
penned in an asylum cell. All the women
I know say they fear becoming cat ladies. And
Broadway aside (or is it proof?) Eliot’s cat
fetish is a cat box mystery to me. Still,

consider my cat George, every-day named,
servant to no one, sixteen, who shares my birthday,
thinning ragamuffin, begging to be lifted to his bowl.
Now sitting before me on the table licking white paws
then waiting for my scratch under his jaw, his chin,
settling into a soft purr, haunched, fur a little ragged.

He steps back, kneads, licks a paw absently.
I smile, reminded, it’s not just about me.

 

Jack Powers is the author of Everybody’s Vaguely Familiar. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, Poet Lore and elsewhere. He recently retired after teaching special education for 38 years. Visit his website: http://www.jackpowers13.com/poetry/.

One Poem by Martha Landman

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Projections of a Suspicious Mind

after Behind the Scenes, Pierre Dubreuil, 1902

In a half-lit backroom
away from the exit
a man in black Callahan coat
with his back to the door
                hatted head slightly bowed
                hand in pocket
                urinal stance
chats up the ballerina
who makes ready for the stage
or has just performed
and needed to clear her head

on her own
unable to read his face
she’ll have to think straight
talk her way out
he might be the cellist
or the conductor
telling her this was his last show
he might be innocent
someone’s father or husband
her face appears relaxed enough
                but this doesn’t look good

 

Martha Landman writes in South Australia and is a member of the Friendly Street Poets. Her chapbook, Between Us, was published by Ginninderra Press. She has previously contributed to Nine Muses Poetry.

One Poem by Mary Kipps

You, in Photographs

Just as you used to encourage,
I have taken up photography.
These walls are now covered
with my efforts.
And you are there, in every one,
like in a stereogram,
only not so obvious.
Can you find yourself?
No?
There.
Do you see that blue starfish
beside my naked toes?
And the overhang of snowpack
on that mountain crown?
There are your eyes,
shadowed in the knothole
high up in that sycamore tree.
And this close-up
of the Happy Alien orchid?
You always could make me smile.
And here you are
as you were in the end,
the fleeting remnant
of a stellar explosion
I waited an eternity to catch –
a dwarf gone Nova
in the blink of an eye,
such that I almost, very nearly,
didn’t see you.

 

MARY KIPPS enjoys composing in traditional forms as well as in free verse. A former Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies across the US and abroad since 2005. She is also the author of three Kindle short-read eBooks of paranormal satire.