Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Mine by Holly Magill

Fifteen tubes of pastel, tooth-rot happiness
tumbled from pink palms to the counter in Spar.
The older girl smirked, counted
my 10p pieces like a slow handclap.

Home, I’d unpeel each packet, scoff and crunch,
mouth all fizzy. But hoard the pale purples
– the sweetest, the prettiest – 
in a sandwich bag, back of the wardrobe.
I could be a mean girl too, didn’t want to share.

He never knew about them, nor did she,
or the people they worked with, or the neighbours,
or teachers, or the dinner ladies, or the girls
who weren’t my best friends, or the girls I wished were.

*

Now I am taller, a bit, and remain a mean girl
– not the sweetest, not the prettiest – 
and no one can make me, no one can force.

Some never stop trying, tell me how much
they want this sharing. I know

how hungry they are – jaws spasm to bite down
on any shred screeing off flimsy partition walls,
mouths wet for pavement-scrapings.
Half-chewed half-truths
– not the sweetest, not the prettiest –

just glitter-grit candy sun
to baste a new conservatory much nicer than next door’s.

*

Curtains pulled against glare,
I turn up Madonna’s Immaculate Collection,
groove with wooden spoons, let the wardrobe spill:

too-high shoes, perfume, scarves, satin knickers,
your all-time favourite Thornton’s chocolate bars.
The carpet tides with colours and kitsch

– these the sweetest, these the prettiest.

This is beauty. This confection is only mine.

---

Holly Magill’s poetry has appeared in numerous magazines, including The Interpreter’s House, Bare Fiction, and Under The Radar, and anthologies –Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches Press) and #MeToo: A Women’s Poetry Anthology (Fair Acre Press). She won first prize in the 2019 Cannon Poets ‘sonnet or Not’ competition. She co-edits Atrium – www.atriumpoetry.com. Her debut pamphlet, The Becoming of Lady FlambĂ©, is available from Indigo Dreams Publishing. Twitter: @HollyannePoet 

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Ohio Gothic by Corinne Engber

A fox lives under your house
in the burbs where he isn’t welcome.
He finds a way into the crawlspace
Behind your closet because he used to live there too.
Your town sits between interstates 71 and 675,
a tapestry of burgs speckled with gas stations,
Episcopalian churches, dirty public pools.
You know every single person in this Walmart,
and everyone pretends to be somewhere else,
like France or their girlfriend’s couch in New York.
You fist fight your third grade bully
next to the dumpsters outside the mall.
You haven’t seen him in eight years.
Everyone’s lawn is covered in straw
but their grass still grows in yellow,
and the corn is a foot deeper than the lake.
Summer in Ohio feels like summer on Mars,
dusty and thick, the sun a watery marble in the clouds.
It always threatens to rain a day or two before it does.
Your beer cans pile up. Your books are limp,
everyone is moving through honey. You sleep on the hood
of your car or in a cocoon of sweat—
caught in this brick of a season, this pastoral foundation.
The woods always get thicker before the ledge over the creek.

---

Corinne Engber is the young adult writer at Jewish Boston and recently completed her MA in Publishing and Writing at Emerson College. She also served as the head poetry editor for Brainchild Magazine based out of Kent State University. She lives in Boston with her partner and their cat.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

City of Swifts by Penny Blackburn


The city of swifts, where we walked
crook-footed over cobbled mosaics,
eyed flickering geckos on sun-flecked walls;
lay silent under the crisp cotton sheet
side by side in the heat, untouching;
swam in shallow water as the sun
made tortoise-backed patterns
on the shifting sea bed.

We were so thoroughly
unprepared
for what came next.

---

Penny Blackburn lives in the North East of England and writes poetry and short fiction. Her publications include pieces online in Bangor Literary Journal, Atrium and Ink, Sweat & Tears and in print with Paper Swans Press, Reader’s Digest and Maytree Press.
She is on Twitter and Facebook as @penbee8 and on Instagram as penny.blackburn.5.


Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Driftwood by Stewart Carswell

Driftwood was washed ashore
shortly after the break-up:
rope, lobster pots,
some wood from a frame,

all scattered along the shoreline.
Months later,
the waves returned a plank
on the morning high tide
intact, immaculate.
In white letters on blue
was painted a name
I’d begun to forget,
a name that should not resurface:

Isabella
white letters on blue
like the crest of a wave
at the moment of breaking.

---

Stewart Carswell is from the Forest of Dean and currently lives in Cambridgeshire, where he helps to organise the Fen Speak open mic night. His poems have been published in Envoi, Ink Sweat & Tears, Algebra of Owls, and The Fenland Reed. His debut pamphlet is Knots and branches (Eyewear, 2016).

x

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Sisters by Penny Blackburn

We wore silk kimonos, twined roses in our hair,
danced barefoot at dawn on the dewdamp grass
as the river's morning mist haunted the garden.
Porcelain dolls, mimics of ourselves,
watched us take tea in thimble cups
glowing blue beauty, like our veins, against the light.

Our teacups now are squat and brown,
thick hands too clumsy for fragile things.
Cardigan-layered against mild winds,
we worry about flooding from the river.
There is ache and throb in our danceless legs
and no-one now sees beauty in our veins.

Come Sister, as the light fades from our sky,
let us dress in silk kimonos,
twist vivid roses in our pewter hair.

---

Penny Blackburn lives in the North East of England and writes poetry and short fiction. Her publications include pieces online in Bangor Literary Journal, Atrium and Ink, Sweat & Tears and in print with Paper Swans Press, Reader’s Digest and Maytree Press.
She is on Twitter and Facebook as @penbee8 and on Instagram as penny.blackburn.5.


x

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

One Drop by Tiffany Shaw-Diaz


At some point,
in the lifespan of my soul,

I want to know what it’s like
to be one drop of rain.

To fall from the sky and splash
into a flower,

and then linger
in its luxurious core.

Perhaps I could then,
ever so slowly,

like the beginning of a rollercoaster,
dive from petal to ground,

and then nestle myself deeper,
deeper, deeper,

into the warmth
of an inviting earth,

simply to rest forever
in her arms. 

---

Tiffany Shaw-Diaz is a Pushcart Prize and Dwarf Stars Award nominee who also works as a professional visual artist. Her poetry has been featured in Modern Haiku, The Heron's Nest, Bones, NHK World Haiku Masters, The Mainichi, and dozens of other publications. Her first chapbook, says the rose, was published by Yavanika Press in 2019.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

On the Eve of Homecoming by Stapleton Nash


I can’t get away today, he said.
I knew. I’d expected it. I bore no grudge.
And yet I felt a great sink into the mire of reality—
If it can still be called that.
This was my last chance to be young and stupid,
To fuck my life up, as I have been urged.
Now I will go home and begin cooking,
And reading novels, and filing paperwork.

Is it stupid, though?
I left home on an airplane and my heart broke with the parting.
Now I am returning home to that which I ached for,
And my heart is breaking again.
Forget home. Let’s disappear into Mustang.
Surely it can be done. Surely life need not be over
And I need not succumb to the life I always wanted
Before this.

I can see myself now, married to a man who laughs,
Raising my arms to the sky above the mountain plain.
My arms strong with scything, my eyes
Clear with desert sky. The sky’s wife.
A man said to me once, I’ll never settle in love—
The sky’s my wife. But it seems to me
A wife is either something to have, or something to be.
The sky is too large for any man to puncture her,
Any man in his body or his airplane.
As I look up into the sky in Mustang it seems to me
That there is no such thing as a husband at all.

I met a man from Croydon here.
He bared his soul to me
And I gave him my purple down jacket.
I won’t be needing it where I am going.
Why are we so obsessed with what is love and what isn’t?
Whether or not we are in love, or simply infatuated?
Every twinkle in the eye, every jump in the chest,
Even if it’s only for a few days—
Let it be love. Let it be love.

---

Though born and raised on Vancouver Island, Staptleton Nash studied in Montreal, and then moved to Taipei, where she works as an English teacher. Her poems have been published in The Mark, NewMag, Amethyst Review, Teen Belle, Lunate Fiction, Nymphs, and Castabout Lit. She can be reached at stapletonknash@gmail.com and on Twitter @NashStapleton.

Mine by Holly Magill

Fifteen tubes of pastel, tooth-rot happiness tumbled from pink palms to the counter in Spar. The older girl smirked, counted my 10p p...