Rachel Belward — I Hope You’re Ok

Poetry

I Hope You’re Ok

The night here is not black, but a washed-out blue.
Awake, he waits.

The city is switching gears.

The froth of blossom.
Bubbles gathering around a plughole as the water runs out of a bathtub.

We longingly press our hands against gasp-clouded glass.
Collectively horrified.
Splintered in so many solitudes.
The smears of breath, lips, cheeks.
All carefully wiped away.

Our handprints are scattered petals, unfurling leaves.
The plumes of a bird in flight.

The sun beats onto abandoned pavements.
The windows of other blocks wink at us.

She types “how to pray properly” into the search bar.
Stares at her own hands.

She is so tired of seeing their faces on screens big and small.
It makes their absence harder to swallow.
Tears saved up, bitter on the tongue.

He’s not sure he can bear yet another so-late-it’s-early awakening.
Another bruise-coloured sunrise witnessed alone.

The air smells so different.

We take our daily walk into the memory fog.
It isn’t always safe here.
But it is where we can regroup.

Shadows move and shrug.
We grasp at them, and long for them, and fear them.

And we wait.


Rachel Belward works for a mental health charity. She lives in London, reads a lot, and documents this on Instagram here.


  • This poem was submitted in response to the first ekphrastic challenge (Melting Away, by Sadaf Sawlath).

Bruce McRae — Actual Event

Poetry

Actual Event

The night the roof blew off.

The night a very angry wind

stormed our homely little town.

The couple in bed, cuddling and warm,

dreaming of billy goats and peppermint,

who were suddenly woken

by a starry vista revealed overhead,

a mighty gust roaring its disapproval,

complaining vociferously,

Betelgeuse looking down on them,

nodding and winking surreptitiously,

as if in on a wicked secret.

And the couple drifting back to sleep,

which I think was unexpected.


Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with over 1,500 poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy (Cawing Crow Press), Like As If (Pski’s Porch) and Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).


Holly Threm Goslin — Divider

Poetry

Divider

 

Palms press against glass,

a tangible divider between

outside and in, danger and safety.

 

Some press lightly, 

(the pressure tentative, but still there)

longing for normalcy

in these upended, unsure circumstances.

  

Others press harder,

vibrating with anxious energy,  

ready to escape the confines

of this unjust and unexpected incarceration.

 

At the center is peace—

around which outstretched hands orbit


Holly Threm Goslin works as a full-time community college instructor. When not grading papers, she binge-watches Netflix, eats Italian cream cake for breakfast, and fosters dogs for local animal shelters. She lives in the southern U.S. with her husband and pets.


  • This poem was submitted in response to the first ekphrastic challenge (Melting Away, by Sadaf Sawlath).

 

Pat Howard — How to Write a Poem

Non-fiction

How to Write a Poem

To write a poem, slough off television, radios, cell phones, excessive media and movies, recorded music – anything that demands your attention without giving you any quid pro quo. Turn yourself from an antenna into a tuning fork, quivering with the life that envelopes this planet.

May be hard. Anything that gives you an impression of a life other than what surrounds you, is a drug. People do not acknowledge this and turn from reality to more obvious hallucinations, never finding life, the source of poetry.

I heard this lesson and heeded it.

If you are addicted to televisions, radio, recorded music, you face a struggle but can rescue yourself.

Prof. Robert Howard of the University of San Francisco tells me, holding up the fingers of one hand, “I have not wasted that many hours in front of a television,” It takes me a few years to take him as a model; now it has been decades since I was a sofa spud.

Let’s say you’re working on withdrawal. You have increasing free time. Spend some reading. There are oceans of world literature – you visit all or become an expert in just one.

I recommend you read poetry that has endured – written before 1950 when the Age of Disapproval, a tide of anti-poetry set in.

Start with the Norton Anthology, it gives you selections of poets from the Old English (Beowulf) through the Americans (T.S. Eliot).  Read prose, too. Much of it may be classified as: Poetry – the ideal combination of sound and sense.

The novels of Honoré de Balzac are poetry because they sound wonderful as well as making sense.

Follow this regime and you will notice bird song outside your windows – the poetry of nature is never dead.  When the bird’s song puts you into a brief ecstasy, know that you – shrived of the media – are ready to write a poem.

A lady friend comes and says, “There’s a new restaurant opening in North Beach. It is called The Stinking Rose and everything they serve, from soup to ice cream will have garlic in it. People are already making reservations. The owners want somebody to write them a poem. The last of the Beat poets, – he has one tooth left in his head – is not coming up with anything.”

A few days later, you’re vacuuming, working on your car, or grooming your horse, free of recorded music – any constructive physical activity can trigger interesting writing. Keep a pen and notebook or an electronic secretary in your pocket.

You feel an ecstasy of inspiration, drop the vacuum cleaner, grab your pen, and write;

Garlic, I love you,

You’re everything I need,

I bow low down before you,

Beloved stinking weed.

 

Should anyone try to steal you,

My heart would fill with greed,

I’d find the bloody thief,

And really make him bleed.

 

Garlic I need you,

My fingers seek your touch,

You’re everything I’ve dreamed of,

Garlic you’re too much.

Hurry a copy of that off to your friend and soon you see it, framed, on the wall of The Stinking Rose as crowds line up outside on the sidewalk to get a table.

The owners invite you and your friend in for dinner on the house.

Keep a collection of your poems. Send them off to magazines – get paid for them – in time you’ll have enough for a book.

Let’s bring poetry back.

The pen is more powerful than the bomb.

END


Patrick Howard and his wife, Nephtha, live happily on the Eastern Shore of Lake Merritt. They are buying a house in Oakland. His work appears in the Galway Review, History Magazine and the Naval League’s Submarine Journal, among others.


John Dorroh — Arthritis

Poetry

Arthritis

The bicycles at the next-door apartment haven’t moved since I was last here six weeks ago, a pile of rusting wheels and chains, metal bones sadly draped across a rack that’s seen its better days. Five bodies riddled with varying degrees of arthritis, useless joints and pedals, hopeless without motivation of some sort, crippled by weather’s cold invitation, tarnished by intentions of making something happen.

Next April, perhaps, when the sun returns and brings new blooms, a portion oil from heaven, an elixir to rejuvenate stiff muscles, aching joints, and bent spines; the bikers will emerge from their cocoons and experience a holy resurrection, liberating souls and breathing life back into bodies and bikes, making the breezeway between yours and theirs a less doleful place.


john-dorrohJohn Dorroh may have taught high school science for a couple of decades. Whether he did is still being discussed. His poetry has appeared in about 65-70 journals, including Dime Show Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Red Dirt Forum, Selcouth Station, and Piker Press. He also writes short fiction and the occasional rant.


We’re publishing Issue 06 weekly, in parts. We’re doing so to keep our readers, and ourselves, interested and occupied. We need to #StaySafe in time of this pandemic, and we can only do this together — by staying inside. (We’re also always open for submissions.)

Cocooned: A Book Review of Russell Jones’ ‘Cocoon’

Book Review

cocoon, russell jones

Cocoon is a grand setup of a place – or, in this case, places – where things begin. It is a collection of recollections from the past, often from childhood through the present, and set in places that are not always the best (“with tracks real as death;” “the streets littered in heads / spiked during the commute”), but Jones knows how to inspire awe.

Most of these are small poems, easy to read, each fitting lightly in a palm, and yet revolving around the world with “the pink river dolphins in peru,” a “lyceum,” a “kintsugi” and other wonderful things. Four of the poems in Cocoon appeared earlier in Jones’ chapbook Dark Matters (Tapsalteerie, 2018) – one of these, “An Official Guide to Surviving the Invasion,” which is also a comic poem among several others (now a characteristic property of Jones poetry), is so correctly timed, now more than ever, that the whole collection becomes timeless in its own manners.


shattered bottles

she

dragged

them

through

those glistening fields

– “cat out the bag”


Touching majorly the notes of philosophy, humour and nostalgia, this new collection filled with a vast range of characters, while bleak, also emanates hope in its very own ways. And so, Cocoon deserves every bit of praise for all it slowly, gradually achieves page by page. It is a collection ready enough “to make a sound in a world of noise.”

Also, read it to say hello to numerous types of birds, animals and other organisms. Say hi!

Cocoon by Russell Jones (Tapsalteerie; £10.00) is out on 15 April. Here!


R Jones HDRussell Jones has published six collections of poetry and edited three poetry anthologies. He is the deputy editor of Scotland’s only sci-fi magazine and was the UK’s first Pet Poet Laureate. Russell also writes books for children, young adults and supposedly-grown-up adults. He has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh and occasionally blogs here.


jayant-kashyapJayant Kashyap is the author of Survival (Clare Songbirds, 2019), and a Pushcart Prize-nominee. Among other achievements, one of his poems was featured in the Healing Words awards ceremony, and several others won places in Young Poets Network’s challenges. He is an amateur photographer, a book reviewer and often a food blogger.


We’re publishing Issue 06 weekly, in parts. We’re doing so to keep our readers, and ourselves, interested and occupied. We need to #StaySafe in time of this pandemic, and we can only do this together — by staying inside. (We’re also always open for submissions.)

Zach Murphy — Sierra to the Extreme!

Fiction

Sierra to the Extreme!

 

Sierra liked to eat ice cream during blizzards. She’d make snow angels and draw funny faces on them.

In the Spring, she liked to bask in the grass for hours and hours, as if the insects were her friends. She’d talk to trees and will rainbows into the sky.

In the Summer, she’d run to the edges of town and party until the morning sun greeted the horizon.

In the Fall, she’d dance through whirlwinds of leaves, watch horror films on rainy nights, and read scary stories in the dark.

When the worst Spring came, the doctors found something growing inside of her body. Sierra thought it looked like a tulip.

When the worst Summer came, Sierra couldn’t spend much time outside, and she could only dream of being in a different place.

When the worst Fall came, Sierra lost all of her hair. She dressed up in a different Halloween costume every single day of the month. And the next month, too.

During that last Winter, Sierra went into the hospital and never came home. The weight of silence was strong enough to shatter mountains.

Every time I see a snowflake, I think of her. Every time a flower blooms, I think of her. Every time the heat swelters, I think of her. Every time a leaf falls, I think of her.

My name is Stella and I miss my twin sister so goddamn much.

 


zach-murphy-edZach Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer who somehow ended up in the often chilly but charming land of St. Paul, Minnesota. His stories have appeared in Peculiars Magazine, Ellipsis Zine, Fat Cat Magazine, Emerge Literary Journal, and the Wayne Literary Review. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly and loves cats and movies.

 


We’re publishing Issue 06 weekly, in parts. We’re doing so to keep our readers, and ourselves, interested and occupied. We need to #StaySafe in time of this pandemic, and we can only do this together — by staying inside. (We’re also always open for submissions.)

Alec Solomita — The Hill

Poetry

The Hill

 

Pinned on an elementary easel,

adrift, befuddled, out of joint,

Yeshua resists a rushing sense of dread

and turns his weighty head toward

his doubles, first to his left, then his right,

where Dismas offers a gentle word,

a hint of hope mingled with gall,

“Your father will remember you,” and the two

look up as one. But while all below is ferment —

pawing horses, dicing soldiers, weeping Marys

— the sky is still, silent, and growing dark.

Yeshua breaks the mute heavens open with

an infant’s howl: Eli Eli lema Sabachthani!

The soldiers glance up, and then, out of pity,

or maybe boredom, a couple swing iron clubs

to fracture the legs of the thieves, ending

their suffering. They turn to Yeshua but he’s gone.

 


alec-solomita

Alec Solomita’s fiction has appeared in the Southwest Review, The Mississippi Review, Southword Journal, and The Drum (audio), among other publications. He was shortlisted by the Bridport Prize and Southword Journal, and named a finalist by the Noctua Review. His poetry has appeared (or is forthcoming) in Anti-Heroin Chic, FourXFour, The Galway Review, Panoplyzine, The Blue Nib, Red Dirt Forum, and elsewhere. His chapbook, “Do Not Forsake Me,” was published in 2017. He lives in Massachusetts, USA. // Twitter


We’ll be publishing Issue 06 in the upcoming weeks in parts. We’re doing so to keep our readers, and ourselves, interested and occupied. We need to #StaySafe in time of this pandemic, and we can only do this together — by staying inside. (We’re also always open for submissions.)