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.

‘Easter Sunday Before Mass’ by Frances Holland

Forgive me, Mother,
For I have sinned
Against tradition.

It is one year exactly since
I last asked this forgiveness,
In my head,

But I have still never confessed
To eating the backs out of
my Easter Eggs

Before Easter Sunday rolled around. 

24th March 2021

About the Author

Frances Holland is a writer from Northumberland. Her work has been published in Litro, Mslexia, Mookychick, and Poetry Salzburg Review, among others. She teaches English and Media at a local school, where she is also Writer-in-Residence.

‘Materia Medica’ by Bernadette McAloon

Unnoticed all summer at the back of the border
cohosh, bugbane, snakeroot, late bloomer:
a grandmother’s essence in a plume of cimicifuga.

She speaks of puerperal mania, uterine disorder 
a bald indifference to those who love her best
of the arms that would encage her, hatred
of corsetry, an insatiable desire to wander.

*

My othered grandmother is cut from the root 
of wild indigo. The essence of baptisia confusa
she’s mottled, besotted, impossible to follow.

She feels separated, can’t fit the pieces
of herself together, hears her limbs call out
to one another; suggestive of tubercular
taint, delirium tremens, death by septic fever.

About the Author

Bernadette McAloon is the recipient of a Basil Bunting Award and the Flambard Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in various magazines and anthologies including, Butcher’s Dog Magazine, Mslexia Magazine, The Rialto, and Land of Three Rivers anthology (Bloodaxe). Her debut pamphlet A Queen of Rare Mutations is published by Blueprint Poetry Press.

Two Poems by Claire Walker

Prelude

Consider this egg, 
how unlikely its survival.
Set here, in a well of brittle twigs,
balanced in the crook of a tree’s elbow. 

Left in trust, necessity,
this blue speckled tenderness
latchkeyed for slow hours,
the mother flies elsewhere. 

How delicate its thriving. 
Here, high in this exposed bowl,
precarious to an open sky,
ready for the hatch.

As the shell begins its slow crack,
a hairline fracture widens.
A gradual nudge-away of shell,
life’s empty-beaked start. 

A Little Flame Left

He walks a slow walk in front of the cars.
Long coat buttoned against winter air,
he leads the procession through iron gates.

He doesn’t wear the black leather gloves, 
but holds them, 
as if taking empty hands in his. 

As he stops, turns, 
bows his head to my father’s coffin,
he tips his hat as though he knew him all his life.

And afterwards, 
he brings the lilies,
cradles them close to his chest like a swaddled child.

He offers them over, sets them at our feet.
As he stands, a smudge of pollen clings to his breast pocket.
A little flame left, fixed over his heart. 

About the Author

Claire Walker’s poetry has been published in journals and magazines including Poetry Wales, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Marble, and Ink Sweat and Tears. Her most recent solo publication is Collision (Against the Grain Poetry Press, 2019). Her pamphlet Somewhere Between Rose and Black (V. Press, 2017) was shortlisted for Best Poetry Pamphlet in the 2018 Saboteur Awards. Claire is co-editor of Atrium poetry webzine.

Two Poems by Paul Stephenson

I can be happily

engrossed in some
          have my head stuck in
looking out at the
          noticing the new

admiring the curve of
          fixed on the way a
lost in the latest
          and oblivious to

I can be enjoying a quiet
          browsing the latest
choosing between
          or flicking through

taking in all the
          catching up on my
touching base with 
          planning an overdue

I can be peering over at
          preparing a small
getting ready for
          in the queue

looking forward to a
          when suddenly I
out of nowhere
          picture you

reCAPTCHA 

A year next week
and today I’m being 

asked to confirm 
my humanity.

Select all squares
with motorcycles.

Select all squares
with traffic lights.

I am not a bot
and nor were you. 

About the Author

Paul Stephenson has published three pamphlets: Those People (Smith/Doorstop, 2015), The Days that Followed Paris (HappenStance, 2016) and Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press, 2017). He holds an MA in Creative Writing from the Manchester Writing School. He co-curates the Poetry in Aldeburgh festival and currently lives between Cambridge and Brussels.

A Peruvian Autumn

I Keep Hosted in my Memory

Elí Urbina

I keep hosted in my memory
the placid image of the body of love.
Light must come again,
but now, in reality, only the rain
drapes the avenue as black birdseed.

Look at the slow descent of
meat’s thorn into the secret wound.
The brothel, its greed, absorbs my burnt-out soul,
my hope, thirsting of feeling,
for an instant, the deaf crackle.

In the gloom the prostitute dances 
with the sinuosity of a broad flare.
Already the longing gathers around in the mirror,
the shadow of my hand lengthens.

As strong as the pleasure burns
always her face inside me ignites.

From The Abyss of Men (2020)
Transl. into English: Sofía Leibovich

a view of an island city through a window
Photo by Leo Arslan

Opening an Old Fayad Jamís Notebook on Friday Afternoon

Julio Barco

In the winter of the summer I describe my eyes, I
the labyrinthine animal that still dreams
          opening the notebooks
between the divided rooms the score of life.

Old lovers buy
           dry bread in the cellars.

This poem starts here.
Foolish way of repeating the body;

This is the poem
Nothing but a shaky line that is
dream verse.

As the city sinks into depression
I separate signs and petals.

I am the one who watches over your name.
I am the one who observes
                                from your window the neighborhood
barely illuminated by the sunset poles.
The most beautiful youngsters are thrown
                                    of the Electric Towers.
The most beautiful young
               are launched from the Electric Towers?

My long hair is now a fucking form of
              walk against the wind.

Sailor of pampas, land, asphalt, poultry.
Girls commit suicide in their rooms
Yesterday everything was excessively sad
Everything will repeat itself or bifurcate the same
It doesn’t matter: I started another poem and came back
the same:

1. Inert object shakily disposed
                     on the table.
2. Street closed as destruction and desire.
3. Movement of machines & bodies.
4. This poem will begin when everything explodes.
5.Our bodies collapse.
6. We organize a concert in a body predisposed to joy
to correct this. Good.

                                 We will walk again.
I am the same one who drew
                  centuries ago in your womb
                                  A brilliant labyrinth of a thousand Sunflowers.
We repeat ourselves in the constellations.
                                  My fruit flavor intoxicated your hair.

***

A piece of jazz hissing through your body.
Everything changes and sprouts and multiplies.

The poems we repeat now are emptiness
Nothingness – a lilac flower.
Something mystically recognisable
when we are absence
looking behind the windows?
The beatniks have died
And Gary Snyder walks
The lonely mountains.
I walk the night.
You send your poems to other countries.
Reading the poem
leads to an understanding of its nature.
Nothing personal.
My poetic voice mutated in the neighborhoods
where we prepare lentils
And we boiled our sorrows
My poetic self is born
Sad blue lilac full of clouds
That the celery did not diminish
And so we love each other
Ambulances roam the city
Between Oscillations and Digital Semblance
In fornice
Of the silenced bodies
in the only concert that we give
At the time
in the only possible movement.
The Concert of our open green clear eyes
To the absolute mystery
To the burned factories and to the land
Did the young people jump from the Electric Tower today?
And we are And we run
And it’s cold in this damn city
That is my poetic art: our savage
Hungry,
the wind shaking your face.
Vague. Way.
I’m listening. I observe.
I am all this crazy movie where
Verb is beauty and lucidity a body
Looking for another.
I look for you.
This way of mine to flee is to pronounce your
Name.
The clarity of a dinner
well prepared.
Sometimes rooms or verses
Sometimes Stefan Joyce or Li Po
While we were cutting a tomato
Cool as the diagonal that
runs through my body when I touch yours.
When in yours I go back to mine
I recognize myself as a void between multiplication and clay.
When I hiss your name
In the mist of hearts.
This is my time.
Oh streets, I’m so sorry to come back
To live everything again
The poem will be a frozen room
The poem will be two bodies
The poem will be some dark images that I
I gently release between
The Axials of Terror and Glory.
The poem will be a path through the fire.
The poem will be a star.
The poem will be a way of feeling abstracted: a state in the crowd.
The poem will be the image of a man looking at the glass from a window.
The poem will be my hand looking for yours.
The poem is an angel about my loneliness.
The poem is a lost shoe.
The poem is your body
The poem is your mouth.
The poem is my destiny
Party in unrest.
Saturday without you.
We disappeared in the restless dawn
That you smashed in a can
of beer.
The body of the poem silently longed for
when we were two crazy teenagers
Seeking to satisfy our abysses
Oh Lima take me away from Minor Silt
Of the stars multiplied in my Phallus
Relatively common sentimental conversation
Facing the Centuries
Repeating the maze of the body
Labyrinth that I silently observed inside myself
Within others,
Within the total Other that is the Orb
And my mind opening between the cracks
Of the days / Smoke from the streets black prayer of the tuna
We will always long for the same poem
That perfectly leads us to ourselves
Labyrinth within Our Music
Music that croaked within our circumference
And I have rewritten our life:
Saturday or Friday night landscape
Looking for love on the long hard streets and
All the asphalt was the lost crevice of your face
We woke up looking for a ceviche in Puente Piedra
I still make love to you as the year closes with
Some rum in the room
10 lucas is all I have in my bank account
And I walk alone &
The poem
               it’s a mind game within our intensity
The poem
               It is the safe conduct to our temporality
The poem
                  is the concert of our honesty
The poem
                  it’s the concert of our decade
The poem
                  it’s your body, Antonio, Mara, streets, Miguel,
Ovid, Malaga, Omar, Agamemnon
The poem
                 between roses and glasses clothes and perspiration
From the fire of colours falling on
Your belly: wildfire, beauty, landscape, poem, theorem
Of chaos, fire, bodies that I deliciously
I became my alchemy. Eyelids
From the crazy city where I dance or play dreaming
This bouquet of wet roses that ended
Being my voice and my body, passion that is chaos
In mind awake where I slide
To know your eyes: what is
The Literary Work? What are your methods
In the garúa of faces and symbols
In the semen of infinities, what is reality? Ah, damn summer, you bastard
In the boredom of bitter girls
And I decided it embroidered on my hair a long
Grimace, a long beat of bitter flowers.
The speed of my rhythm. And here we start
This new notebook to protect my eyes
Of the folly of a world that is more deplorable every day.
And behind were the bodies that I silently loved
And behind, my house and the light from the windows, and the
Terrible affection that nobody knew how to give. And here,
In the showcase of loneliness, among the gardens of boredom,
I repeat your body virulently, I long
I rise, kiss, lunge, dream, I light up your voice
Intensely the voracity of our bodies.
And despair gave me this world that I
I turned on with the clarity of my mind. And now I do not bathe and I walk alone,
Disturbed between streets and hermit smiles.
And poetry was something that we tirelessly repeated:
Streets, bodies, pieces of a ballad that I placed in your eyes,
Insomnia, verses by Borges or Gelman, a ballad
De Manzanero while he was looking for the ideal epigraph
To simply show my intensity.
Chasing the writing was the verse itself.
The verse itself mutates into the plurality of I’s.
Perfection is not enough for me, I do not want the absolute.
Abstract thinking as an aphorism translated from English
To French, To Spanish
That simply reveals the chaos of a polished mind
As Kavafis thought
As I knocked on your door and you opened a quiet page
By M. Proust. I think we have nothing else left.
Except buying old editions of Verástegui
Find a volume of Eminescu to use his verses
As an epigraph
Walk, Walk, Breathe, Burn
Live it, inhabit it like a strange fire that haunts it.
Sing it, cry it, we inhabited the verse like a summer
Open with shorts and fear of going out on the streets
That was the saddest month.
I only want my little room where I dream verses
Or streets or landscapes that are necessarily another matter.
Another matter to describe the course of your mind
Inside silently sad computers.
And my sadness is miles of verses
That one day I will dream for you while
I miss you between the rooftops and loneliness, loneliness
And cats opening black garbage bags
Black tears of my still raging loneliness
Turned into a little hymn landing on the wings
Of the Lepidoptera. And it’s true, I’m depressed
Or sad or with a thousand rebellious sunflowers inside my eyelids
And my eyelids are all my crazy mind full of I’s
That, as Julio Herrera points out in metric verse,
It is the shuddering Me before the mud of the dough.
The Shocked Epoch tenderly overwhelming your sex.
And you shine so brilliantly.
Oh party, Lima is my crude city and my country
Lima is a luminous melody growing happily
and my crude way of walking and watching and scratching my music
Two young men haunted by hatred searching
A small room to love each other.
And yes, I am a boy and I love you, and I will shut up when you
Naked and I undress and we are this country
Open, shattered, cracked like your lips.
And that’s why I wrote this poem and started another
Within the same axial axis of your mouth.
Not this one, pick and choose in thickness
Of meaning the most. And what difference does it make to have
Been the fire if today we are but two
Silent truths. So far from love I speak
So far from faded feelings
That I reject my voice from another year, my loneliness
Now written between papers and cutlery
And this need to walk or stroll quietly
By rooms. I stared at a fly
That flew above volume two of the Work
Complete by Neruda. And I opened that little book of Fayad, the Cuban, Jamís. Days of getting bored and immediately writing the seizure
And convulsion is thousands of streets or pains. And all my power
It is to fix my eyes on you now that you are sobbing between
Your memories: streets, houses, shattered country, April
It’s the most stupid month, you know, you have to work
To pay for the receipts, electricity, streets, songs
And I also remember that we slept in the eye
Of a newly pregnant mother.

fashion photography of woman hands on chin with glitter makeup
Photo by 3Motional Studio

Face

Walter Velasquez

Seeing the glow of your beauty
What does your beauty contemplate
Accompanied by your nature
And freshness

It is your face that amazes me
Quiet and distracted
Leaving my eyes blind
And my body turned off

Frankly I don’t know if this will be art
Oh no if it’s art, oh I don’t know if it’s art
But I can’t deny what it is
Brighter than ever
Have been seen
Oh blazing, oh blazing

About the Authors

Elí Urbina (b. Chimbote, Perú, 1989) is licensed in Letters and has a Master’s degree in University Teaching and Pedagogic Research. He has published the poetry collections: “La sal de las hienas” – The salt of the hyenas (Plectro Editores, 2017) and “El abismo del hombre”- The abyss of men (Buenos Aires Poetry, 2020). His poetry has been translated into Greek, Serbian, Macedonian, French, Italian and English. He is the founder and director of the poetry magazine Santa Rabia.

Julio César Barco Avalos (b. Lima, 1991) is the author of the books Me da pena que la gente grow (Arteidea Editores, 2012), Breathe (La Chimba Editores-2018-Writers Guild Award), Vastísima Architecture (Editora Huachumera-2019-Huauco de Oro Award), Arder (grammar of the dandelions) (Editorial Higuerilla-2019), The music of my head Vol. 7 (Language Peru -Editors) In 2019, he presented Semen (music for young lovers) (Language Peru – Editors). He is the founder and director of the TAJO group. In 2020 he published four books during lockdown: Des(c)ierto (Metaliteratura, Argentina 2020), the re-edition of Semen (Metaliteratura, 2020) and two volumes in Colombia: Operating System (SO, 2020) and Copy, cut, paste, load (Obra Abierta, Colombia, 2020). He is currently Editor of Literalgia and Lima Gris and Manager of the Poético Río Hablador Cultural Project (which develops poetry projects in El Agustino) and directs the website Lenguajeperu.pe, which is a new national blog of Peruvian and Latin American poetry and art. He obtained an honorable mention in the XI Young Poet of Peru contest (2020) with the poetry book Semilla Cósmica.

Walter Alexis Velasquez Mendoza is 24 years old. He is a journalism student at the Antonio Ruiz de Montoya University. He has been involved in literary activity since he was twenty years old, where he made his first poetic presentation at the Oral Poetry Slam, at the Reporteros Infiltra2 collective. He has participated in national anthologies such as “El Dolor de la Tinta” (Editorial El Verso Azul); “El Mar No Cesa” (Editorial Ángeles del Papel); “Al Lado del Camino” (Marginal Editions), among others. His writing has appeared in both national and international magazines. Previously, he worked in the Federation of Journalists of Peru, in the Diario La Verdad Municipal and the literary magazine Buensalvaje. He is currently an editor and reporter for the digital portal La Cuarta Noticias.

Buttons by Clive Donovan

 
Like someone else's mother's button box
not quite the same
and these lingering threads
and grime are they not just
a little repulsive?
Not meaningful
their stories missing
such as my favourite
big blue button off Sandra's coat
that never got sewn back on
and where is the real bone
and abalone
mother-of-pearl
and early bakelite
and look at this disgusting
cloth-covered nub
off a suspender belt
my God the things some folks keep!
And this absurd picture of Scottie dogs
disgracing a toffee tin
our classy shortbread box- lid portrayed
a Gainsborough velvet boy
I remember days of her
sorting through possessions
as she prepared to enter
her final home from home
she sifted slow with crabbed fingers
that never more would stitch
and preoccupied with beds and chairs
I let her say farewell and ditch them all
with many ornaments
rattling to the landfill bin
and I regret that now
and forever since
catching myself at frowsty stalls
and charity shops
purveying bric-à-brac
hovering over other people's
lost small fortunes
of family collections
but it's never quite the same.

About the Author

Clive Donovan devotes himself full-time to poetry and has published in a wide variety of magazines including Agenda, Fenland Poetry Journal, Neon Lit. Journal, Prole, Sentinel Lit. Quarterly and Stand.  His debut collection will be published by Leaf by Leaf in November 2021.