‘Experience’ by Gareth Culshaw 

There was a time inside a lettuce leaf 
I found the crinkles enjoyable to walk. 

I traipsed songs lost in headphones 
found trees upside down in winter. 

Heard birds in the yawn of a cat 
and caught a train for a bus for a hike. 

It led me to this, a place of rock and stone. 
Nothingness sits outside a window 

until you leave the vehicle and walk. 
Things appear in the nostril before 

your hands have left the crust. 
Your soup stays on the lips, cola burps 

a crow, and crisps wear away fence posts. 
But each walk brings you closer, closer 

to the life you live inside. The life you live 
before you found this place in the crunch 

of a carrot one salad afternoon. 
Watching a sun biscuit-dunk into a mountain 

wait for the warmth to leave you behind 
then see your fingerprints smudged 

on the moon, the end of your nose.

Meet the Poet!

Gareth Culshaw lives in North Wales. He has 4 poetry collections, most recent by Hendon Press called Memory Tree. He is a winner of Backlash Best Book Award 2022. 

‘Climate’ by Mike Doherty

That yellowing mould of surrender

Like soft vows

Subsides on the kerb as a light wind makes the leaves

Skittish

With those most recently released from the bough

Falling through shafts of sunlight and forming, casually

A duvet against the stone, against the cold of a coming night

This heat has made the trees distress and shrug off their ornaments

Those leaves

Fluttering dependents in need of drink and so they are

Expendable. It is the rule of law. 

Long grass warped into dry and brittle threads

Susceptible to fire. All these indicators of change

Gather here in plain sight to form a queue of warning signs

Do Not Proceed. One Way Only. Danger of Death

Another turning point goes blind to history

All the common sights forgot and nothing left

But burning twigs

Meet the Poet!

Mike Doherty says: “I have always tried to express myself. School reports exhort you to “try harder”. Poetry is the only medium I have found to reach into the corners of my soul and shed some light. It’s never easy and often not terribly good. But, I love it.”

‘Canals of the Back Streets’ by Martin Potter

Glints in the city sun and
Town-breeze ripples rainbow
Touches in the oily film
Running behind and under-street
Brick-sided trough canals
Floated industry wall-screened
But inconspicuous door-gaps
Disguise steps down to the tight
Towpaths that shelve over
The patient loitering waters
Down-flow interrupted  
Waiting on sleeper levers
To be wrenched hinge-swing
Circulation rebooted
Veins in need of dredging
Drear-grime to dark heart’s blood

Meet the Poet!

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 ReviewEborakonInk Sweat & TearsThe Poetry Village, and other journals. His pamphlet In the Particular was published by Eyewear in December, 2017. 

‘Leaves’ by James Mulhern

That fall day we raked leaves from behind the shed.
Smell of earth and wet decay rose in the cold air.
We could see our breath.

Worms and beetles scattered through a fence.
I saw dirt and thought we had finished.
“Not yet,” you said.

The gray sky grew darker and the wind chilled.
When your flashlight showed not a speck of leaf,
you said, “We’re done.”

Today I look at the wet leaves below.
I kneel and clear your grave.
Again, I smell the earth and feel the biting cold.

The damp leaves shimmer like tears, not many,
that drop on the yellowed grass.
“We’re done,” I hear you say.

I say a prayer, cross myself, and rise.
I see my breath and imagine I see yours.
I should leave, I think, but not yet.

Meet the Poet!

James Mulhern’s writing has appeared in literary journals over one hundred and seventy-five times, and has been recognised with many awards. In 2015, Mr. Mulhern was granted a writing fellowship to Oxford University. That same year, a story was longlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Two of his novels were Finalists for the United Kingdom’s Wishing Shelf Book Awards. His novel, Give Them Unquiet Dreams, is a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2019. He was shortlisted for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2021 for his poetry.

‘Conversing with Stars’ by Katarina Xóchitl Vargas

Dad died in the spring
    in the brown reclining chair, 
        without morphine, 

         before sunrise, 
    as elliptical galaxies 
retired to cosmic caves,

like whales into deep sea.

Yesterday, I learned 
     that space recycles stars—
          That when one burns out, 

           it splashes out sparks 
     of elements, that birth new stars,
traveling in clusters, like fish.

Maybe, if I look long enough

into May’s night sky, 
    I might catch a glimpse
        of Dad, swimming in space, 

       25 million light-years away:
   his giant fins causing constellations 
to sparkle, with each sweep. 

I empty my heart to Ursa Major tonight. 

For, every cell in me, 
    wants the trio of time, 
         dementia and distance

         to return Dad to me, 
    so that we may contemplate 
the minutia of our ebbing existence, 

and the edge of the universe,

and what’s beyond, 
    and what’s beyond the beyond,
        as we once did

when I was thirteen.

(April 21, 2022) 

Meet the Poet!

Katarina Xóchitl Vargas (she/her) is an emerging Xicana poet, originally from Mexico. After her family moved to the U.S, she began composing poems to process alienation. A dual citizen of the U.S and Mexico, today she writes resistance poetry and lives on occupied Tsenacommacah territory where she is working on her first chapbook. Xóchitl is the first-place recipient of the inaugural Mulberry Literary Fresh Voices Award. Her poems first appeared in Somos en escritoThe Latino Literary Online Magazine, Cloud Women’s Quarterly JournalThe Acentos Review, Penumbra and Barrio Panther. Follow her on Instagram @Cantos_de_Xochitl

Translation Tuesday – Poets in Prague!

We love bringing you our Autumn translation segments. We have something a little different for you today! Last week saw Crick in Prague for a week of exploring, good food, and (of course!) poetry, with a reading especially organised in the Czech Republic’s bustling capital. Despite that busy schedule, Nera and Crick found time to sit down in one of the city’s cafés to discuss translation, and to share Crick’s own poems in Czech!

Enjoy!

Two Poems by Lorraine Caputo

THEY WILL LOOSEN THEIR GRASP

As the days pass, those roses – one 
white, another red – slowly unfold their petals
from bud to full blossom, growing wider 
with each night, their scents swelling beneath
the stars, in the moon’s light …but
one day, their petals will loosen their 
grasp & begin to carpet this table.

RENASCENCE

On that distant mountain
fire snakes down its slopes
acrid smoke drifts ‘cross miles

wrapping around words we
weave in a blue house
drinking wine & feasting

on this birth day eve

Meet the Poet!

Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 300 journals on six continents, and 20 collections of poetry – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Caribbean Interludes (Origami Poems Project, 2022). She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. Her writing has been honoured by the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada (2011) and nominated for the Best of the Net. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. Follow her travels at: http://www.facebook.com/lorrainecaputo.wanderer or https://latinamericawanderer.wordpress.com.

‘Kaliadne’ by Eva Maria Spekhorst

ME 

Perfectly clean white tunics. 
Short naps on moss in woods. 
Echoes in empty temples. 
Newly polished arrows. 
Looking out at a full moon. 
Letting your feet dangle while sitting on a high cliff. 
Feeling the cold wind on your face. 
Holding a person’s hand you love dearly.
Discovering old and crumpled scrolls. 
Making art on hot summer days. 
Dancing at midnight. 
The sounds of the sea.  Pastel coloured skies. Foggy mountainsides.

Hello, my name is Kaliadne, and this is my story. 

ILLIAS

As I sat there, legs crossed, I could only hear the sound of waves hitting sand and my own breath. 

I used to go there often. It calmed me. I could finally let go of everything and watch the sun slowly descend behind the horizon. 

I go there still. It gives me hope. Hope, that there is more out there. More to be discovered, more to be learned, more to be known. 

“Kaliadne, dinner’s ready!”

Maybe I’ll disappear behind the horizon, too.

ALASTRAIA

She was like colourful clouds stretching across the Mediterranean sky. Never staying in one place, never taking in a form for more than a short moment, shifting into a deep coloured drizzle raining down on the ground. 

She was the wittiest person I knew. 
She was the fairest person I knew. 
She was the bravest person I knew. 

I hugged her one last time before she sailed off to Delphi. 

I couldn’t bring myself to say the three words. 

I still regret it. 

I love you, 

sister. 

SHE’S LEAVING HOME

It was a cloudy day. Silver glitter fell down from my fingers, landing on the frost-strewn ground. The mist swirled around me, making me shiver. 

My bag was slung across my shoulders, its weight the weight of leaving my hometown. 

It was for the better. 

I was going to be a priestess!

Yet the morning air stung at my throat. 

As I looked back towards the hill, I saw the shadows of what my life used to be.

I saw my mother, waving at me from afar, my father, resting his hand on her shoulder, and my little brother, who didn’t have the chance to meet his bigger sister yet. 

I saw six figures in white linen clothes floating in the distance and I turned around.

EPHESUS

The sunlight blinded me. 

My feet were tired and scarred, but my mind was buzzing with excitement. 

The mountains around me hummed with adventure. 

The wind swirled around me, dipping me into the summer heat and the smell of fresh bread. 

I beamed as I looked up into the crystal blue sky, a tiny ray of sunshine wreathing itself across my fingers. 

There, up in the distance, I saw a majestic temple shimmer. 

This was the place I’d soon call home, 

but for now, 

rest.

CALM MORNINGS BY THE RIVERSIDE

I looked up into the illuminating light. 

I could feel its warmth making its way through my veins, setting me on fire. 

I took in the beautiful scenery. The misty forest all around me, the river flowing relentlessly, beckoning the beginning of a new day. 

Breathe in, breathe out. My legs carried me towards the hurtling water. It was luring me in. Talking to me, hushing me. I wanted to be nearer. The cold gripped my hand and wanted to take me with it, but the warmth kept tugging at me, making me resist the water’s urge to carry me away. 

“Kaliadne,” a soft voice spoke “come back to sleep.”

Isn’t it all about balance anyway?

KALIPSO

Her hair was flowing around her as she stared into the distance.
Freckles visible on her face, she finally smiled at me. Her auburn eyes shone brightly with happiness and pride. 
Oh, how peaceful she looked. 
Peaceful with no one but herself. 

She was the definition of “carefree”.
She was the definition of “soulmate”.
She was the definition of “naive”.

That carefreeness I always admired was taking over her life. Somehow, very slowly, the word “care” dissolved. The only thing she was left with was her freedom. 

Did she ever care about me? 

I didn’t care.

THE FOREST

Water droplets on grass. 
Twigs, turning and twisting, forming a pathway through the woods. 
The shadows of trees and bushes, dancing with the sunlight. 

The wind making leaves flow through the air, landing softly on a patch of moss, dissolving into green colors. 
Tiny huffs of air turning to silver smoke. 
Feet hitting the ground. 
Adrenaline pumping through your veins. 
Your head spinning. 

You’re falling, my brave one. 
Do you know why?

ARTEMIS

She was like first fallen snow in winter. 
She was like forest rivers, flowing calmly at dawn.
She was like the moon in the sky, guiding nature. 

She was recklessness, yet she kept her cool. 
She was wildness, yet she struck with precision. 
She was loyalty, yet she stood alone. 

She was as bright as the day and as mysterious as the night. 

She was Artemis.

APOLLO

He was like the sound of birds singing in the morning. 
He was like ancient texts written on stones. 
He was like the sun, lighting up people’s lives. 

He was foresight, yet relied on the past. 
He was poetry, yet didn’t need words to speak. 
He was intuition, yet trusted his plans. 

He was music, filling people’s hearts with joy. 

He was Apollo. 

OUT AT SEE

It was getting colder by every passing second.
I took out the blanket Kalipso gave me and went to sit near the edge of the boat. 
It was a calm night. The moon was out, giving the water a silver coat. 
“Hopefully she’ll protect me on my journey,” I whispered to myself as I wrapped myself in warmth and the familiar smell of home. 

The waves chose a steady rhythm, racking the boat so softly it was lulling me to sleep. 
I didn’t feel like the clumsy little girl from Troia anymore. I felt like a different person.
My sisters called me a “mature, serious and confident leader”. I didn’t feel like that either. 

Maybe, I would reach that kalokagathia someday. 

But now, it was just “me”, and that was enough.

DELOS

The first thing I noticed as I stepped out of my boat was the overwhelming smell of fresh watermelons. It was surprising to say the least. The coast was full of people, brimming in their extravagant clothes, bargaining, chit-chatting, and in the worst cases, fighting drunkenly. I was nervous. I’ve never liked it to be around this many people. The sun was now up in the sky again, shining majestically, giving everything a nice warm tone. I grabbed some of my golden drachmas as I went to stand in line for the famous watermelons. An old lady sat on a stool nearby, smiling at me in an almost crooked way. 

“Came from afar, haven’t you?” Despite her thick accent I understood and nodded reluctantly as I gave her my money. I tried to leave as fast as possible, still feeling her eyes boring into me from behind. 

I certainly did enjoy my watermelon that morning.

LIKE A DREAM

She was like dandelion puffs flowing through the air. 
You could never touch them while they were flying, only observe and admire them from afar. 
She was like snow melting in your hands by the fireplace, cozy and tranquil, safe from the outside storm. 

She was the epitome of intelligence, fierce yet understanding. 
She was the epitome of wisdom, all-knowing yet still learning. 
She was the epitome of calmness, sending you into slumbers with a smile. 

She was just like a dream. 
Are you still asleep? 

BRAURON

I sat on the grass, back against a tree, and closed my eyes. Serenity.

I breathed in the smell of figs and pines, the grass and the trees, the sea breeze that was gently blowing the hair out of my face. I was alone and for the first time in my life, I enjoyed it. I was thankful for it. This place calmed me in a way no place has ever done. I could forget my worries, my fears, myself. 

I could just be. 

Exist. Imagine myself as the light sea breeze, flying across the magical mountains overflowing with colorrs of orange and green. 
I could become one with the trees around me, their ancient spirit binding me forever. 

For now, I could enjoy being nobody. 
For now, I could be free. 

UP THERE IN THE SKY

As I lay there, unmoving, on the cold ground in the middle of the woods, I counted stars.

It didn’t matter to me if they were big or small, alone or in a constellation. Each and every one of them was beautiful and unique in their own way, taking in a position in the night sky. 

If I reached out my hand far enough, would a star fall down on me? 

Or would it stay put with the others, awaiting the right moment?

Then I realized. I didn’t need a star. I already had one. It was rooted deep inside of me, guiding me my whole life, lightening it up. 
Maybe, just maybe, I could be one of them someday. Maybe, I am one of them. And maybe we all are, even if we are too blind to see it.

Trust the star inside of you. It will show you the right path.

Meet the Author!

Eva Maria Spekhorst, 18, is a student at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg, Germany. She is studying Middle Eastern archeology and Mathematics. She writes poetry and prose, in addition to illustrating. She has illustrated her upcoming novel “Drachental”. She can speak 28 modern languages and 20 extinct ancient languages.

‘Lover>Girlfriend’ by Frances Mulholland

I rifled through your overnight bag,
The one you’d been so proud to leave,
Pride of place, in his en suite.

Cheap everyday unguents,
Paraffin and lanolin,
Those things would not pollute my skin.

Relics of a birthday gift 
From a wealthy colleague, sister, friend,
Now sampled by the woman driving your man round the bend.

Blonde Kirby grips (he prefers Brunettes),
Your shampoo, at least, is cruelty-free,
Shame the same can’t be said for me.

I replace the bag, shake my head.
I return to your man, return to your bed. 

Meet the Poet!

Frances Mulholland lives and writes in Northumberland. Her debut chapbook, Indifferent Desserts, was published in July 2022 by Bottlecap Press. When not writing, she can be found spending too much money on gig tickets and baking cakes.

Slovakian Spring – Part 2

Dear Readers,

We’re not certain how, but our second instalment of Slovakian Poetry from our Spring season has disappeared into the aether – which is a pity, as these poets are well worth the read! (You can still see Part 1 & Part 3 under Translations, so make sure to check those out whilst you’re here.)

Today we are publishing Part 2 afresh, and hope it brightens your Tuesday – we know it has done so for us! What a gorgeous way to kick off our Autumn Season of the magazine!

Enjoy!

people / clays / permafrost’ by Ola Glustik

I was seven when my neighbour / father 
of four children decided to leave / at his home 
in the living room / and then the other / in the barn a shot 
in twelve other / a rope in an apple tree 

it was always minus twenty outside / beaten,
barren land /an economic crisis
and at home at the table the presence / a tea 
spoon you can’t bend 

We / the children of this street had the courage 
to play only in the cemetery / to prepare 
a grave space / to serve a simple 
ceremony / the end 

We remained silent for a long time / To this day 
we don’t speak /since childhood, we’ve had our mouths full 
of dirt and stones

Translated by Natalie Nera

The Inextricable Blade’ by Erik Markovič

The salt of the earth, unbroken 
I can vouch for forgiveness in the woods, in the lakes
in the shells of oysters, and in the womb of a lightsaber.

I am without the earth; I have not grown roots
with my hands in your hair, with my tongue
in your mouth, not on the Moon, I only fly
and pity the wide and clear field beneath me
Your field, that is neither tasteless nor flavoured with spices,
unbroken by my grace, untainted with my blood.

You cannot separate your arms from your body, and stretch them towards me,
although you would love to fly after me, like your soul, whose dove
I caught under my shirt when the body gave up.
And from her into the earth it flew until it got rotten during the flight and turned into black fertile soil.

From the breast of your burnt hills, you speak of your desire silently
high up in the trees, Seeds in whose name the branch does not sprout out, 
for only above your head, unmoving, it grows wild in brambles.  

Translated by Natalie Nera; from the collection ‘Ikoncikosť. Prestupovanie Slnka’

Weight of the Balance’ by Erik Ondrejička

Weight of the balance
in quiet dance of leaves
in a body of ash

in orbital curves
of a path in rough sketch
that’s vanished in a flash

Decodes delicacy
so it may be pure
with hardly a word said

and from lead creates
like an alchemist
ever newly lead

Translated by John Minahane

sulphur’ by Martina Straková

touches our sun-tanned bodies
in the spots
where shingles
impress their shape we go barefoot
to make us feel again
that we’re still living
that nothing of this is sham
haptically
we sink our roots at the most trusty points
where salt means pulp
and water is dim and cold

Translated by John Minahane

Meet the Poets!

Ola Glustik (b. 1987, Slovakia) is a poet, publicist and media specialist. Currently working on the manuscript of the third poetry collection called Body and (con)text. Part of manuscript was awarded in prestigious czechoslovak competition Básne SK/CZ 2021. Ola is going to participate in the Spring Edition of the Visegrad Literary Residency Program in 2022 in Bratislava.

Her second book Atlas of biological women (2017) was awarded with the premium prize by the Slovak Literary Fund and with The M. Rúfus premium prize. This book was published partly in Czech (in anthology Být knihou a v rukou se ti otevřít, Nakl. P. Mervart, 2019) and in Romanian (Atlasul femeilor biologice, frACTalia, 2020, transl.: Mircea Dan Duta). She debuted with the collection of poems called Placed into trees (2014).

Her poems and publicistic texts were published online and in magazines in Slovakia (Rozum, Fraktál, Glosolália, Knižná revue), in the Czech Republic (Ravt, Revue Weles, Cadena Magica, Poli5), in Romania, Peru and Serbia. They were also read in Slovak national radio and published in numerous anthologies.

She is one of the founding members of the Bratislava author’s club BRAK, which is an incubator for the young writers in the Slovak capital city. In 2019 worked as a secretary of the Slovak PEN Centre.

She worked as a journalist in the regional newspaper and in the economic daily newspaper. Nowadays she is working as a media specialist for two big construction and industrial companies.

Erik Markovič (1972) – poet, philosopher and songwriter. He has published a set of 7 collections of poetry: Ikonickosť. Prestupovanie Slnka. (LN Studňa, 2014), from philosophy Po-postmoderný princíp palintropickosti 1 (LN Well, 2017). Through his writing and work, he seeks to identify post-postmodern aesthetic principles. From 2018 to 2021, he was the president of AOSS, The Association of Authors’ Organisations in Slovakia.

Erik Ondrejička was born on May 1, 1964 in the Old Town of Bratislava, where he still lives and works. He is a graduate of Bratislava’s Technical University, Department of Geodesy and Cartography. He has been writing poetry for more than three decades, however, he made his publication debut in 2004, with the collection On the Inner Side of the Eyelids. Five of his eight books have been awarded literary prizes (Eyes and Rhymes, On the Inner Side of the, Eyelids, (e)Pigrams, Say Just a Word) and Happygrams. Eyes and Rhymes, the revised version of On the Inner Side of the Eyelids, the bibliophilic collection IM PULZ – Waiting of Substance, AB80, Happygrams and Abecedári received honourable mention in the competition for the Most Beautiful Book of Slovakia in 2010-2019. Abecedári was also awarded the Bronze Medal at the Creativity International Awards (USA) and in the national competition for Best Children´s Book of Summer 2015 and Most Beautiful Children´s Book of Summer 2015. Erik Ondrejička is a member of the Slovak PEN Centre and the Club of Independent Writers. More information at https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Ondreji%C4%8Dka

Martina Straková (Slovakia) studied cultural sciences and graduated from the Faculty of Arts at the Comenius University in Bratislava. She received scholarships at leading German universities and her PhD title in Philosophy. For her poetry debut Postcards from Invisible Places (Pohľadnice z neviditeľných miest, 2019) she received the Bridges of Struga Award for the best poetry debut in 2019 awarded annually under the auspices of the UNESCO by the world’s renowned poetry festival, the Struga Poetry Evenings Festival in North Macedonia. Since 2013, she has been co-organizing the International Poetry Festival Ars Poetica, where she holds a free creative writing workshop Bring Your Poem offered to the wide public as a regular part of the festival program. She is dedicated to writing poetry, fairy tales for children, painting and artistic translation from/to German and English language. She lives and works in Bratislava. www.martistrak.sk 

Video-poem “I’m Sheltering from a Storm”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmVM8f4DKCE 

The poem sulphur comes from the poetry collection Martina Straková: Postcards from Invisible Places, Ars Poetica Publishing House, Bratislava, 2019, translated into English by John Minahane.