Two Poems by Susan Castillo

Bloom Where You Are Planted

I made a garden by the sea,
northern Portugal.  Roses bloomed for me, 
shielded by stone walls 
from blasts of silver wind.  

I made a garden up on Skye.
Crofter’s cottage. They’ll say a woman
came from the mist. She planted two giant trees.  
Sequoias. I was never one to think small.

I made a city garden by a black heath 
where plague victims were interred.
Cascades of yellow roses. 
Blood and bone are good for soil.

I made a garden in the Sussex countryside, 
cloaked the house in roses. Grew grapevines.
Filled it with children’s laughter,  
learned to live with darkness.

I made a London garden.  
Weeded out old sadness, threw out decay. 
Planted bold bursts of flowers,
draped walls in blooms and scent. 

Bloom where you are planted    
My mother used to say.

Braiding

In a distant Southern parlour.  
I comb Grandmother’s straight black hair.
People always said she might have Indian blood
Where did all these wrinkles come from

For goodness sake, I answer.   
You’re eighty!  It’s okay to have a few.

Now the light streams through the window
in the Sussex countryside.  My granddaughter
combs my hair.  It used to be 
dark gold, now is white. 

My granddaughter pats my shoulder.
You’re beautiful, she says.

About the Author

Susan Castillo Street is Harriet Beecher Stowe Professor Emerita, King’s College London.  She has published four collections of poems, The Candlewoman’s Trade, (2003), Abiding Chemistry,  (2015), The Gun-Runner’s Daughter, (2018) and Cloak (2020), as well as several scholarly books. She lived in Portugal for 25 years, and is now based in London and in the Sussex countryside, where she owns a vineyard.

Four Haiku by Tohm Bakelas

suburban new jersey blues

sad eyes in my head— 
rhododendron petals fall 
as robins sing songs 

broken shadow

lost wandering confused streets— 
the sun forgot to 
shine on me today

unavoidable outcomes

when everything fails, 
pain settles in like grey smoke 
in the nighttime sky  

i remember

i watch a small child’s balloon 
float towards white clouds— 
i watch a dream die  

About the Author

Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, zines, and online publications. He has published 13 chapbooks. He runs Between Shadows Press.

‘Pink Flamingo’ by Özge Lena

I was grounded
by my father he

made me stand 
on my one foot

like the shame pink
flamingo I saw 

that night by the
salt lake glistening

like a paraph on a
paper of sprinkled 

diamonds at the time
my mother died but

I was kissing you and 
the flamingo was so pink

the lake bleached your
lips lust pink when  

it was too late to call the 
ambulance my mother’s 

eyes poison pink lying
on the rust pink kitchen 

linoleum I knelt down 
whispering flamingo 

flamingo flamingo
realizing if I repeat 

a word more than ten 
times it would sound like 

coming from another time of 
another planet of scar pink

like the word mother
like the word mother

About the Author

Özge Lena (she/her) is an Istanbul-based writer/poet and an English language teacher who has a published novella titled Otopsi (The Autopsy). Her poems appeared in Green Ink Poetry, Fahmidan Journal, One Art Poetry Journal, Seiren Quarterly, Off Menu Press, and elsewhere. Her poetry was shortlisted for the Ralph Angel Poetry Prize 2021, judged by Mary Ruefle.

‘Returning to the Shack in the Wood’ by Helen Kay

I draw a screwdriver from my handbag. 
Four screws, sunk to their necks,
pin the tarred door to its splintered frame.

We gave up padlocks last year: 
too many lost keys, and metal hearts, 
worn openly, tempt straying hands. 

The tin roof has new chapters of rust.
We dread chewed wires, mothy towels, 
the selves we left, now mould-spotted.  

The Philips glances off worn grooves,
but finally the timber grinds its hinge hips;
lost air sucks up the green light of oaks. 

A glissando of duct tape releases boxes;
we uncurl the tent’s skins and peg out
our drey amidst a hug of oaks.  

About the Author

Helen’s work has appeared in various magazines. In 2021 she was a finalist for the Brotherton Prize. She curates dyslexiapoetry.co.uk . Her pamphlet, This Lexia & Other Languages (v. press) was published in 2020. She has a sidekick hen puppet diva called Nigella.

‘Fog Warning’ by Liz Young

It is dangerous to attempt to retrieve anything from fog/ the name of your sister’s dog/ the right door/ evaporates/ will not heed when you call/ no recall in dense///

fog/// go slow/// put your hazards on/ let others know you are dealing with fog to maintain the correct distance/ but if or when/ then/ keep expectations low/ strangers will flash articulation/ synaptic claps blind/ your dim road/ path/ trail// footprints// track/// go back/// iron out the one sentence you have/ fix it straight/ repeat/ write it down for posterity

do not imagine/think/ fog will last/// forever//// the current forecast anticipates one hour before dissipation// it may feel like several days/// ablur in brume /// singing each verse of a theme tune to perfection//astonished that a mist though familiar settles in a room you have entered///expectant as hunger that your hand will find what you came for//or was that yesterday// or before

when fog shifts your lost words will return/ migrating kittiwakes drop your syllables/ wayward eggs/ into the right nest too late for your unfathomed tongue// left unsaid 

when your fog lifts 

there may be rainbows

About the Author

Liz Young is a non-fiction writer living in Sunderland, North-East England. She has a background in illustrated book publishing and is a former co-editor of Kindred Spirit magazine. Her poems have appeared in Magma, South Bank Poetry, 14 and The Alchemy Spoon.

Emily Cooke – ‘I’d like the lightness’

of grasshoppers,
of soda water with lemon,
or tumbleweed,
or cooking magazines, the ones
I leaf through to take in
brightly lit pictures
of things I will never make

I’d like the lightness 
of the sort of digital clock
you get free in the Readers Digest,
that         flickers with regret after
barely     weeks in-situ
but carries on ticking 
nonetheless

I’d like the lightness
of you as you watch             and immediately forget 
the news,
it’s gone 
and it’s just time to take the pink pill
and then the green one
according to the note
on the microwave

About the Author

Emily Cooke is a Boltonian poet who has spent most of the last year in bed. Luckily this left plenty of time for writing and she has just started to send her work out into the wider world. Find her on instagram @emily_c_cooke

tropical house by Martin Potter

tepid lapping a concrete lip
the koi concealed until they rise
ripple the water’s viscous skin

where you could sit on the smooth ledge
or a piously provided bench
back from the basin’s retaining wall

lily pad leather patches the pool
while heavy foliage arched above
screens off the structure of glass sky

you first learned a banana leaf
caught in the humid comfort heat
the minah birds’ voices drift

across from nextdoor climate zone
it’s an iron-girded universe

About the Author

Martin Potter (https://martinpotterpoet.home.blog) is a British-Colombian poet and academic, based in Manchester, and his poems have appeared in AcumenThe French Literary ReviewEborakonScintillaInk Sweat & TearsThe Poetry Village, andother journals. His pamphlet In the Particular was published by Eyewear in December, 2017. 

The Purple Love Affair by Helen Openshaw

The violet hue of purple dreams
in a tiny wedding bouquet is
held against an equally tiny waist 
with a promise.

And later, violets given for anniversaries
remind them of the breath held,
cloudless day.
Later still Parma violet sweets
in paper bags from the corner shop
make a different gift.

Found in pockets and bedside tables – 
a smiling sorry to comfort and soothe
the path taken together.

About the Author

Helen Openshaw is a Drama and English teacher from Cumbria. She enjoys writing poetry and plays, and inspiring her students to write. Helen has had a short monologue commissioned by Knock and Nash productions. Recently published poetry work has appeared in Secret Chords by Folklore publishing and Green Ink Poetry magazine.

That Movie Moment by Emma Lee

That moment when your hero’s eyes lock with hers, 
the woman who’s his one true love, 
the audience catch up and root for love to win.

That moment you realise you’re in a black dress
so you merge with the shadows as the light shifts
and you’re to let go and allow him to be with her.

That moment when the floor tilts, focus shifts
like a fog wrapped itself between you and the world
and blood starts to drain from your heart.

That moment you want to snatch the spotlight back,
but you bow your head. No one watches you concede,
slide towards the exit and slip out to embrace the dark.

About the Author

Emma Lee’s publications include “The Significance of a Dress” (Arachne, 2020) and “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, 2015), is Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib, reviews for magazines and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com. FB: https://www.facebook.com/EmmaLee1. Twitter @Emma_Lee1.

Wildcat Scratch by Gerry Stewart

‘Touch not the cat 
without the glove.’

My scowl should warn you,
I’m not your typical tabby.
Brows knitted, 
blunt is my nature. 
Even alone,
I am a glaring of cat.

Exposed in the twilight
far from cairn or den,
my hackles rise
at your approach.

Do not seek me out.
Though I once purred,
my voice has muted
to only spit and sting.

You can try and tame me,
only I will walk away
unscathed.

About the Author

Gerry Stewart is a poet, creative writing tutor and editor based in Finland. Her poetry collection Post-Holiday Blues was published by Flambard Press, UK. Totems is to be published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in 2021. Her writing blog can be found at http://thistlewren.blogspot.fi/ and @grimalkingerry on Twitter.