Three Poems by Andi Talbot

Poetry
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Close Your Eyes by Ida Saudkova, model Czech pop singer Ilona Csakova

 

Eyes of a Stranger

It’s funny

how you find yourself

reflecting in someone’s eyes

for the very first time

not knowing what their impact will be

not knowing the comfort they will bring

not knowing

that here

and now

before you

is the mirror

in which you’ll grow old.

 

Sunset

Her eyes

painted

a shade of dusk

I’m yet to witness

 

I long

for my lips

to find

the constellations

hidden on her skin

 

I wrap

falling stars

behind her ears

brushing the night sky

to sleep.

 

A Decade On

Years before

I walked these streets

with an empty heart

and veins filled with the blood of youth

but here I find myself again

in more ways than one,

it would seem,

youth fading

heart now a little less empty

as I try to find my way

through a city

I swear

I am only seeing for the very first time.

 

About the Author:

Andi Talbot is a writer and performance poet from County Durham. Andi has poetry published in various literary journals including Vamp Cat, Bonnie’s Crew, Grindstone Literary Magazine and Paper and Ink Zine. He has headlined poetry nights around the North East of England including Stanza and Black Light Engine Room and this year he performed at Poetry Jam in Durham. His first pamphlet, Burn Before Reading, was published with Analog Submission Press (2019). Andi is a poetry editor and submission reader for Periwinkle Literary Magazine.

Instagram: andichrist19

Tender Places by Helen Anderson

Poetry
Loving cup

Loving Cup by Amy McCartney,

She possesses no vocabulary for this pain she feels.

It’s “not an ache”, “not a throb” – “more of a strain”, she feels.

 

“Certainly not psychosomatic.” She rubs at imperceptible

ulcers on her shin, like a baked-on stain. It feels

 

like she’s losing whatever “it” might have been.

Yet taking tablets goes against her grain. She feels

 

things were best when things were left unsaid –

lips stiff and chins up. No bones about the disdain she feels

 

for this limp modern language of disease. No sense –

no relief for you, daughter – in urging her to explain how she feels.

 

 

About the Author:

Helen Victoria Anderson lives near Redcar and has an MA in Creative Writing from Teesside University. Her chapbook ‘Way Out’ is published by Black Light Engine Room Press and she is the author of ‘Piece by Piece: Remembering Georgina: A Mother’s Memoir’. Winner of the InkTears Flash Fiction Contest 2015 and the People Not Borders Short Story Competition 2017, Helen is a bereaved parent, a widow, and a firm believer in the therapeutic power of words.

Three Poems by Peg Robarchek

Poetry

 

 

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Shadows by Ida Saudková, ca 1997

Rental Property

I want to paint that wall purple,

watch how the sun

changes it throughout the day

here in this ragged light.

 

Learn whether it leaves the room

melancholy in late afternoon,

wakes it to tenderness

in a pink dawn.

 

See if the dark color

hides cracks

that do not even belong

to me.

 

Eavesdropping on 10-B

Their voices

leak through the plaster,

too soft to decipher, sibilants

melting into vowels, muffled strands

of an old song, the cadence of a rising moan.

 

Sometimes the old crow

beats its wings

into emeralds,

hammers its beak

into a flute,

ceases to caw,

trills, and we believe

our throats

are rubies.

 

About the Author:

Peg Robarchek is a novelist, journalist, podcaster and poet living in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her poetry has been published in various journals, including Naugatuck River Review, Rust + Moth, Prime Number and Iodine. 

No, I Don’t Want to Remember by Joy Manné

Poetry
Vlastovka

Free to Fly by Victoria Holt, 2017

 

No, I don’t want to remember that last walk in the forest near the village where you were born. You so wanted to take me to that tree again, where you and your little brother played, that tree with the low branch that overhangs the stream, that low branch your legs were too short to sit astride—then.

I don’t want to remember our first walk into those woodlands. You helped me up into the tree and we sat on that branch, you behind me, your legs now long enough to straddle the smooth branch, and mine long enough too. We sat, me leaning against you, leaning against you, while you told me how you used to sit there with your little brother and how much you loved him, your little brother who died so young. Below us, the stream chuckled and chortled over stones, and dragonflies hunted—and we were hypnotised into what we believed was love.

‘Let me take you to my sacred tree again,’ you said, all those years later, ‘where I played as a boy with my brother, where we fell in love.

‘Remember,’ you said—

No, I don’t want to remember how you said it, as if you loved me, as if you wanted to go back to when we were young—

‘Remember–.’

No, I don’t want to remember.

‘Remember,’ you said, your voice now rough and the branch we sat astride slippery in the spray, and below us the stream was in full flood and had become a torrent because there had been storms as never before.

 

I did remember. I couldn’t help myself. It was all so banal, the beginning when, as if hypnotised, we believed we were in love and made love, and married and made children, got them schooled, into jobs, and had no time for each other.

So banal, the slow dehypnotization: the descent of love, the ascent of endurance.

‘Remember,’ you said

No, I don’t want to remember how the children left home, and we had time, we had time—we had to fill time.

When people have to fill time, they go to the pub, garden, or draw, take courses, walk in the country, travel—Oh, I don’t want to remember how much time we didn’t know how to fill, and how you filled yours by looking into my drawers when I was out, reading my diary, discovered my bunnies and my vibrator. And I filled mine, that time you left your phone behind and I discovered that the number you most regularly phoned was the brothel, and I went wild and phoned my sister and shouted, and she said, ‘In a small village, everyone knows who goes to the brothel and when.’ My sister knew because she was friends with Emily, the sex-worker.

I didn’t ask my sister when Emily told her.

Why didn’t my own sister tell me, her own sister?

Why didn’t my own sister tell me?

She told me why.

I don’t want to remember her answer. So banal.

 

Remember,’ you said, all those years later, ‘Let me take you to my sacred tree again where I played as a boy with my brother,’ and we went, you and I, unspoken our wish to be hypnotised there once again into at least what we believed was love.

And as we walked through the forest, I remembered how we’d sat in that tree—then, straddling the smooth branch, my legs over yours, kissing and agreeing to marriage. Of course, I remember.

But this time you let me find my own way onto that branch and the hypnotism did not happen again. I tried, my back against your chest, leaning against you, once depending on your strength—now feeling nothing, unwilling to remember what I once felt.

No, I don’t want to remember how I moved away, further down the branch. I moved away and, now sitting side-ways on the branch, now once again with legs on each side of the trunk, I turned to face you.

We sat, a foot or two apart, not touching, not talking, all forest sounds drowned in the thundering of the stream turned to torrent.

Then, almost smiling, and as if about to perform a prank, you slid around the slippery branch, as if you intended to hang onto it, upside down, your feet entwined so as not to fall. As if to entertain me you slid, in such slow motion, slid around the slippery branch, your eyes latched onto mine, breathing out and saying, ‘My brother died here. I pushed him.’

And then you were upside down.

And then you untwined your feet.

what I felt as you did that, as if it were both happening and not happening at the same time. You slid the way a redwood falls in a forest, in slow motion. You slid, released the branch, let yourself drop into the torrent. You untwined your feet and got carried away to the sea.

No I don’t want to remember how I sat, fossilised, astride the tree trunk, just sat there through the late afternoon, through the moonless night, through till dawn, through until midday when a pair of teenagers—so like us when we first met, another you-and-me—when those teenagers found me and helped me down and as if hypnotised I let them, and let them lead me to their car and drive me to a police station, and then the police drove me to this hospital, but I never ever spoke or told what happened.

 

About the Author:

Joy Manné’s work appears online and in print i.a. in The Write Launch, TheDiagram, Chicago Literati, the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2019, Offshoots. She won the Geneva Writers Group prize for Non-Fiction in 2017 and was one of three finalists in the Arkansas International 2017 Emerging Writer’s Prize in Fiction. She lives in Switzerland and on Tenerife.

Nursing Home by John Grey

Poetry

 

Bridging hands

Bridging Hands by Amy McCartney, 2019

Bodily and spiritually

he has sustained

for over

ninety years

his separation

from the chair

he sits in

the bed he lies on

the nurse who pats his head

changes his sheets –

he has maintained

his independent being –

it’s his to keep

even though it’s no longer needed.

 

 

 

About the Author:

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in

That, Dalhousie Review and North Dakota Quarterly with work

upcoming in Qwerty, Chronogram and failbetter.

Two Poems by Susan Darlington

Poetry

 

Zeny

Women  by Victoria Holt, 2017 (woodcut)

 

TIGER LILIES

 

She moves the vase out of direct sunlight

and onto a hand-me-down wooden table

that’s greyly filmed in spider-webbed dust,

the slender necks of the flowers craning

towards the hopeful blue rectangle of sky.

 

He said he’d bought her tiger lilies

because they reminded him of her sunset hair.

But by the time the last of the faded petals falls

and the water has turned stagnant green

she knows that she won’t see him again.

 

 

 

 

HER (PART II)

 

It’s just a parlour game

we play on rainy afternoons,

 

razoring lines down our arms

until red criss-crosses white.

 

She always wins.

She always regrets it.

 

Rubbing India ink into scars

that transforms her flesh

 

into a field of rabbits,

foxes and brooding crows

 

that undulate when she flexes

and releases her biceps:

 

a menagerie that slowly fades

until the next time we play.

 

About the Author:

Susan Darlington is a freelance arts journalist and poet. Her debut collection, Under The Devil’s Moon, is available now through Penniless Press Publications.

 

 

Three Poems by Batnadiv HaKarmi

Poetry
Pritelkyne

Friends by Victoria Holt, 2016

 

 

Marsupials

If only we were kangaroos. Expelled from the womb

to hop in a pouch

and hide in its dense darkness.

 

There we would listen to the shush-shush heartbeat

of a distant mother

until the sun breaks through.

 

Vespers (Sapphic stanzas)

There is no such thing as unconditional

love, my father says, so I do not believe

in it either, quailing under anger like

bricks about to plummet.

 

Eyes closed, turn your face to the water beating

over your back,  counting vertebra, coating

skin, warm lapping tongue making your boundaries

suddenly glisten.

 

Last light fading. Listen to birds sing down day,

croon the bruised sky better, as late rays finger

windows, and dusty residue is lit in

startling glory.

 

Finds of the Day 

Let me declare the gatherings of the day:

Sunlight pouring through the curtains; pink cap

on an ink bottle; walking down cracked gray

paths; daisies in bloom; bitter coffee; scraps

 

of memory: fried zucchini flowers,

Roman artichokes shaped like roses.

The waiting peace of the in-between hours

not-morning, not-noon, when the orange tree glows.

 

Phone arguments about money and halls

stale guilt; and what can’t be undone. Troubled

buzz. Hints of loss. Empty park, shadowed walls,

a swarm of ants with wings like soap bubbles.

 

My footfall beats, How do you make a poem?

Always, everywhere, they happen on their own.

 

 

About the Author:

Batnadiv HaKarmi is an American-born writer and painter living in Jerusalem. A graduate of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar Ilan University, her work has been published in Poet Lore, Ilanot Review, Poetry International, MomEgg Review and Partial Answers. She is the recipient of the Andrea Moria Prize for Poetry, and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction.