Three Poems by Byron Beynon

The Wild Pony

The wild pony’s silhouette
ponders its way back up the mountain
as a raw-anointed sky
settles once more
with the evening hours.
This harsh winter’s
slope on a planet evolving
towards a particular summit,
grace and shade
blessed by the starlight
appearing with the armoured wind.
Each step comes
with a sense of discovery,
a memory of home and a possibility
that the drift of understanding
appears closer to the crystalline
eye of healing.


Arenig, Sunset

An evening imbued
with the silence of time.
The virile sky
conserves a patient vision
with thoughts that search
through galleries of pre-history.
The prayer that is yet to come,
awaiting a reckoning,
the unseen figure who stands
to one side,
shadows that summon up memory
persuading the senses
to return here once again.


Refugee Jazz

She has already left
the country of her birth,
crossed into another
searching for that rare
seam of freedom heard
through the rhythm of language.
Surviving under a blue
glaze of sky she attends
signature classes without
a visa or borders.
Measuring tenderness and re-winning
understanding by expressing
a coherent phrase
about being human.
Her melody of time
recorded in a mind
where compositions are learnt
by striving towards
a horizon cleansed
by a universal beat.

 

Byron Beynon lives in Swansea. His work has appeared in several publications including Agenda, Planet, Poetry Wales, London Magazine, Crannog and North of Oxford. He co-ordinated the Wales’ section of the anthology Fifty Strong (Heinemann). Collections include Cuffs (Rack Press) and The Echoing Coastline (Agenda Editions). Selected Poems is forthcoming in 2018.

One Poem by James Bell

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles, Paris and many other places

i.

I know this room
how it can be a room inside a room
one I have known since youth
would hide amongst its bright colours
lock its door against a world
full of delights and disappointments
not knowing the experience isn’t unique
become calm within the neat simplicity
the bare planks of the floor
I still sometimes imagine as a journey
each a path to yet another destination
like Vincent’s own perpetual walk
from Arles on the road to Carcassonne

ii.

I went inside this room again in Paris
so real I could have touched it
though only in two dimensions
ached to lie on the comfortable bed
noticed too how others crowded about
saw the room I guessed with similar thoughts
desires they too had held for years
had come along like me and now observed
Vincent’s textures and shapes resolve
his and others’ turmoils into new perspectives

iii.

each view of this room now
contains nostalgia and the multiple
interiors I filled it with
never just a chair or a window
some portraits on a wall with
pathways off to other interiors
and where these people went
where they have yet to go or
have already gone – I have never
looked outside that partly open window
preferred always to remain inside
for this is the rooms intent
to measure our limits against exterior ambitions

 

James Bell is Scottish and now lives in France. He has written and published poetry for twenty years. At present he is at work on his first short story collection.

Two Poems by Derek Brown

The Very First Days of February

The chequerboard is elevated
There is a heavenly displacement
Where I sit inside this bar
The people talk of nothing
But masquerades of circumstance
But are essentially oblivious
And know not to be thankful
A crucial aimlessness lingers
Like alcohol on the breaths
Of the cryptically broken-hearted
As they nurture each other’s grief
Like a messiah his tender garden
The dog beside me whines
Perhaps it knows
What I do not know
And do not wish to know?
But not everything is a graveyard
Or a cemetery insight
I sit here and recall the snow
The very first days of February
Did not completely turn to nights.


The Senile Woman in the Corner

In these blue surroundings that melt
Like the snows that vanished with March,
The senile woman in the corner
Sings a sweet and incomprehensible song,
The not completely unwelcome visitors
Consult the phantoms of each other,
The ones with nothing left to haunt
But the voids that are left by absence,
In a space where nothing is recorded
But the sad and shapeless voice
Of a god who has forgotten our memory,
It recalls only its incontrovertible shadow
Masked by crude festivities designed
To replicate the mystery
That these ignorant eyes call light.
Continue reading “Two Poems by Derek Brown”

One Poem by Jim Bennett

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Jim’s room in London 1972

I wondered why Van Gogh painted a picture
of the chair in his bedroom at Arles
and flowers almost fragrant with paint
although his room was not as empty as mine

what furniture  I have is tired and old
a sideboard leans against the wall
one end propped up by telephone directories
bed a jumble of sheets and a ragged quilt

he must have wanted to record his place
so painted a picture when it was quiet and empty
unchanging and bright once he had captured it
light    shade and colour of the day

I have a postcard of it pinned to the wall
Vincent’s room from a day in 1888
showing forever the shadows of the moment
he had seen before it leapt towards night

at night though it is different     the bed empty
he must have stood   looked out of the window
like I do and like me saw the reflection of a stranger
who looks vaguely like the painting of a madman
Continue reading “One Poem by Jim Bennett”

Three Poems by Simon Fletcher

Autumn in the Quarry

Among the stifled green of late September wild carrots are no more than dried-up nets, umbrellas of seed and fragrant herbs no more than smudges in the grass, the marjoram a rattle of dust. The deep maroon of dog- wood stands alone, the swart and shining fruit, like elderberries, tempting on the branch. The leaf’s pale scarlet underside’s a stained glass sunrise framed by ribs of fresh-cut stone. ‘Chack! Chack!’ The constant call of smart jackdaws who’ve lived among these rocks since who knows when and thrive despite the falcon’s yearly cull. Bright harebells, knapweed, yarrow, clover are in flower; rowan berries vie with rose hips for redness; speckled woods are still about. This field was full of orchids not so long ago but now is breathless, hushed and waits the autumn’s chill and long decline. ‘Chack! Chack!’


Walking Man

Through the shadows of the woods
he notes the brambles’ early fruit,
young ash trees spearing everywhere.
His steps become more conscious now,
his heart is slowing to the pace
of ancient tracks when this was what
we did, the daily forage round.

He senses every breath of wind,
becomes more like himself again,
more Mesolithic one might say,
and hears the faintest notes of birds,
remembers as he goes along
the sites of hazel, crab and sloe,
accepts the wild fruit from the branch.


A Yorkshire Garden

For Rosa

The limestone bird bath stands coolly detached,
invites the sparrows to evening ablutions;
a nearby blackbird sings.

The roses cast carnelian light across the damp
stone slabs. Soft pink folds of geraniums
pillow the yard.

Lavender in neat lines enchants the passers-by
with whispers of Provence, the sleepy south,
and quiet pleasures.

Honeysuckle draws in moths, dipping down
the gathering gloom while bats flit through
the heavily-scented air.

Then a chamber orchestra of owls begins;
disturbing serenades, chilling fugues,
no easy cottage sleep.

 

Simon Fletcher’s widely published and is currently a ‘Poet on Loan’ in West Midland Libraries (ACE-funded). He runs monthly live literature events in Wolverhampton and Ironbridge, Telford. He also tutors for the WEA. Author of 4 poetry collections, his most recent, Close to Home, was published by Headland in 2015. http://www.simonfletcher.net

Two Poems by Michael H Brownstein

Singing in the Mesh

Poems sprinkle out from the spice canister
High yellow vowels, sand-scarred S’s,
Antigua blue cocktail beaches, Montserrat
Black rivers of ash, small consonants
And heavy wet K’s and clicks and slides.

Continue reading “Two Poems by Michael H Brownstein”

One Poem by Rosamund McCullain

No Damn Cat

Can I have a moment of your time?
Inventing connections in the particle accelerator,
Searching for the Higgs-Boson, a tiny spark
Of conversation, a little more action, the collective effects
Of a deceased discourse, diseased discourse,
Skivers versus strivers, we stand in line to be
Maligned, re-aligned, reassigned and who
Gets the black triangle, isosceles or equilateral, it’s all
The same to me, your collateral damage, visibly
Invisible, packaged up and risible,
New box, same old label.

And there he stands, rattling cans and sabres, gets his photo
In the papers, screeching to the perverted,
Attempting dialogue with the ideologues, the proscenium arch
His Achilles heel, but you know what?
At least he stands there to be counted,
Outside yet another discount store,
The same but cheaper, less is the new more.
Is that really what you want for your children?
A boarded-up High Street? Think
It’s not your business? Take a walk
Down my street sometime, in my shoes, and rest assured

That sooner or later they’ll come for you.
Continue reading “One Poem by Rosamund McCullain”

One Poem by Edward Alport

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Gorilla and The Miss

What a guy he was,
That Darwin, eh? Who’s to say
He might have it wrong
All this time. Ask me,
Will I evolve into that?
I beg leave to doubt.

 

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 David Lohrey

Commotion

Hope is faster than light,
its speed behind measure.
It’s alive, today, but what about
tomorrow? Easy come, easy . . .
I need something to build up
my courage.

One advantage is sleep, an endurance
test: a locomotive or a pillow. We
learn to calculate the commotion.
Suck the straw, hang out, hit the hay.
Who’s to say? One cedes territory, one
establishes boundaries, one signs along
the dotted line. Some choose Southern exposure.

Gross indecencies stare us down. Our
calm is our rebellion. It’s the last frontier.
Benumbed, confounded, lost in space. We
escape confinement like water, searching, but
what of our aversion to chaos? Our taste for the
tranquil? Must we be held in contempt for despising
aggression, our preference for the impassive?

It’s massive: jest. Or condescension. We cultivate
superiority; we celebrate death: theirs, hers, his.
Inoculation. Innocence. Quest. It’s a matter of
combining ingredients, the right balance, justice.
Too much won’t do. There’s much too much parsley.
One less grain of sand. The handyman’s muscles are too big.
The phone keeps ringing. Where’s the drain?

There’s anguish in repetition. I prefer hilarity.
The monks won’t go. Offer them a martini.
Thelonious learned to tread lightly as one should.
Deer in the headlights, grizzly bear, a flamingo: there.
Notoriety ruins everything. Ask the Princess.
I like to stay in bed. Back to basics. Sunny-side up.
He refuses to remove his boxing gloves; he grunts
and the world stands still. Resistance begins with rest.


Menus

You’ve had Indian food, sure,
but have you tried chicken chettinad?
How about raan?
Or goat kadhai?
How about an enlarged prostate
or a prolonged bladder infection?
Are you passing blood?

These days, death is not a metaphor.
Like the Royal Delhi, my clinic’s offerings
can be described as an attempt
at encyclopedic deliciousness
from across the universe. It’s
a dive all right, a real cop-and-fireman
watering hole without the jokes.

Dishes are half price at lunchtime on
weekdays. Try the MRI; 10% off if
you schedule the EKG on the same day. My
doctor recommends the CAT scan with ultra-
sound imaging. He demands that I
try something out of the ordinary. The
nuclear stress test looks interesting.

The smell of masala spices that wafts
from the plate can’t be beat. A regal set of dishes
can be found in the dosa gallery section
of the hospital. If you crave heat, order the
‘very spicy’ version with direct intravenous
injections; no anesthetic. You’ll feel a jolt.
When the thallium begins to flow
you won’t be disappointed. I promise.

What about dessert?
It all depends on how long
you have to live. I wouldn’t recommend
ice cream. The strawberries look
divine. You can have two. Maybe you’d like
a cup of tea: brown, barley-flavored, and
lukewarm in a small Dixie cup? No sweetener.
Call the nurse when you start to feel pain.
Continue reading “Two Poems by David Lohrey”

One Poem by Alun Robert

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Thaumaturgy

Yes     that is what I had said.
You heard me right.
You can look astonished.
Explode orgasmic.
Shriek holler.
Put your head in my face.

What did you expect?
Do you understand body language?
Did you read my eyes?
Have you seen my folded arms?

But that is how it is.
In essence reality.
Still plenty of questions.
A great deal unanswered.
A plethora of pondering.

Do not join the dots.
Do not project linearly.
The future will be different.
More of a random walk.

For I meant what I said.
My diction is clear.
My intentions honourable.
Do not blight me with bile.
The miracle is but mine.
Open your mind     and heart.

 

Born in Scotland of Irish lineage, Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical verse achieving success in poetry competitions. He has featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web. His influences extend from Burns to Shakespeare, Kipling to Betjeman, Dennis to Mazzoli.