As Above So Below Issue 3
WELCOME Thank you everyone who contributed. It’s you that makes the magazine come alive! It’s been an epic journey putting this issue together, for many reasons, and I want to thank everyone for their patience, as well as the beauty of their words. I hope you enjoy this issue, The Heart’s Journey, as much as the previous issues. If you’ve had two poems accepted, there will be one near the start of the collection, and one near the end. If you’ve had three accepted, likewise, and one will be nearer the middle of the collection. I look forward to hearing from many of you again in the future, readers and writers. Happy reading! With much gratitude, Bethany Rivers Editor
Poem Author God Particles James Crews
The quiet beauty of a clean heart Catherine Ayres
Missing Rona Fitzgerald
Close Knit Linda Goulden
talk to me Graham Attenborough
Hush Sarah Mnatzaganian fox face Rachel McDonald Listen, Time Passes Annie Wilson Things I have learned about love Katherine Soutar Moving Pictures Rona Fitzgerald Tune Sanjeev Sethi
9 10 11 12 13 14
On contemplating a journey Linda Goulden
The custodian of connections Stephen Ingram
Heritage Jayne Arnott
Shadows Malcolm Whitehead
Was that rain on my face Hermione Sandall
You asked me why Olivia Brookfield
Father Tree Sarah Mnatzaganian the spaces in between Graham Attenborough Crewel Linda Goulden Night Visit Rona Fitzgerald
21 22 23 24
Living in an empty house Mel McEvoy
Midnight Snow James Crews
God Particles I could almost hear their soft collisions on the cold air today, but when I came in, shed my layers and stood alone by the fire, I felt them float toward me like spores flung far from their source, having crossed miles of oceans and fields unknown to most just to keep my body fixed to its place on the earth. Call them God if you must, these messengers that bring hard evidence of what I once was and where I have beenâ€” filling me with bits of stardust, whaleskin, goosedown from the pillow where Einstein once slept, tucked in his cottage in New Jersey, dreaming of things I know Iâ€™ll never see.
(Previously published in Ruminate Magazine, Issue 29, Autumn 2013)
The quiet beauty of a clean heart It was feral. Filthy. Full of rage. It writhed in its cage like a caught hare. Nights I worshipped men so it would stop. Days spent in limbo while it played dead. There was howling in my head until the year I was alone with hospitals and fear. Then it clung like a child, it sang softly in the dark and I forgave my heart. I brought it swallows, empty skies, cloud shadows, ancient stone. One summer dusk I rinsed it in the moon twenty years of dirt bled through my hands. I put it back as carefully as a jeweller sets a stone. Sometimes Iâ€™m lonely. It understands. We carry on.
Bull Island Sanctuary, Dublin Summer days she’d set out with four of us on the bus. Bag laden with cosies, sandwiches and spare clothes. Infinite blues; sea and sky merging and no frontiers. Bird beat, waders, oystercatchers and zen-like herons. We stood on one leg until we fell, splashed about. Ate our sand filled lunch as mother’s nose twitched. Trudged home across the long bridge trailing damp wool togs and towels. Back to order. My heart’s in those grainy dunes. Keening sea birds summon me.
Close Knit From a needleâ€™s edge you slipped, unhitched. Pattern maker, tugging from the other side, you shape lifeâ€™s texture with a cable stitch.
talk to me about anything to do with fish or overflowing bath tubs about paint and spice racks screwdrivers ego and eggs talk about witches or churches stone circles or stitches cat flaps biscuits I want to hear about lipsticks hair-grips and plagiarised bass-lines space-time-continuums origami oregano and orgasms talk to me about ceilings cupboards and candelabra webbed feet piano tuner vegans about pasta plaster discourse discounts discords dentists even talk about sheep myth monsters and mothballs tell me your thoughts on cushions cuttlefish Edwardian buttons what are your views on custard pebbledash mustard how do you feel about paper poison perspiration yew trees and yogurt tell me how you hurt tell me tell me everything I want to know about fruit-juice mens suits algebra guitar strings or self abuse what about the inner self self consciousness enlightenment and happiness and then there's death extinction the end of life and the world itself I want to know about love about who and what we are let me know let me in tell me
Hush The day has stopped being beautiful because you have told me something I already know, as if I were a child. I donâ€™t want to walk by your side any more so I say to myself, Stop. You donâ€™t have to go on. The island night offers my eyes a scattered hush of stars. A meteor falls like a lonely afterthought. Somewhere far away, the salt marsh birds are talking to each other and it is not for me to say whether they are angry or peaceful. Tomorrow, martins will skim the droughtstunted grass because it will be raining and I will be holding your hand.
fox face up high on hill overlooking sea overlooking you, the evening your brother. his last breath.
red russet and fox caught me in my bones and bedded inside me as you fiercely stood before the future, funerals not yet heart-tied to our tongues. how the sun folded itself softly around the worn-out sky, shuffling down darkness and talking to the soft sea i wanted to breathe for you. but knew our bones could not hold. our combined grief fox shuffled on, threading through fern and turning the light off. the hill barren in its beauty.
Listen, Time Passes Stones shift and chatter with the waves along the bony flank of Chesil Beach, one shimmers like the moon in a clear morning sky, cradled in my palm, cool and smooth as an egg fallen from a prehistoric nest. I long to know the secrets it holds so close, memories stored over aeons, I almost feel its slow heartbeat, hear its ancient song spooling in the distance
Things I have learned about love That there are more kinds of love than there are stars in the great bowl above us than there are glittering lives in the oceans That the love for your child is a most fierce thing and comes with an opening of the heart that is beautiful, terrifying in equal measure That love can change its face, seem concealed or lost in darkness But still somehow endure in a different light as the moon lives on through a moonless night That a new love can be laid gently into a hand you didn't even know you had outstretched
Moving pictures As a child, I loved musicals, tap dancing my way around our kitchen floor as if a portal had opened to a place of ease. Itâ€™s the communal experience I love. The cinema lifting as ET takes off every one of us on the bicycles with them. I remember watching the Magdalenes, at the GFT in Glasgow. Shock, sadness and silence seeped into the cinema. I went to bear witness, this was my country and my kin. At the end I sat and sobbed. Someone I know sat beside me, her tears spilling softly. A young lad of nineteen asked to sit with us, allowing himself to grieve in a safe space. My gran was in the Magdalenes he told us, I never knew what it meant.
Tune The pathway is treacherous. God happens on his own. I donâ€™t have to find Him behind an igloo or inside a grot. In the comfort of my cave I etch plans of profit. Erasures are impossible to access or employ. Scratchiti reads: poetry.
On contemplating a journey There’s gey few verses noo, and little sang. Gin ah gang back (whaur ye’ve no been) wha’ll tell me ah’m gane wrang? Ah’ve a mind tae see the sea and walk the sand, back whaur ma soul was born (but ye’ve no seen), the place a sair he’rt yet micht mend. Ye’re four years deid. Ah’m four years sad. If ah gang back (whaur ye’ve no been), wull ye come wi’ me, ma lad? Lad, ah’ll aye whistle, but wull ye come wi’ me? Ah’ve a mind tae gang (though ye’ve no been). Gin ah gang back, wull ye no chide me? Or must ah bide here, till ah come tae ye?
The custodian of connections My gift to you is a network of connections of time and place Your being There Becomes part of my Here I am there with you And my Here is your Here We are both Here and There And nowhere becomes the Gift that is Everywhere Even in the densest of forests or the loneliest of cities You will know how to find Here
Heritage You blew the hematite placing your hand print beside your daughterâ€™s fingers splayed touching beauty in a shared legacy a moment of connection I put my hand on yours touch the cold rock face smooth clay sharp fissures just as you felt them thousands of years dissolve a moment of connection
Shadows Shadows descend from the roof of the cave. Firelight ascends the rock face, shifting and rippling our living walls. Look! See how our ancestorsâ€™ hands breathe in the flames. Our great grandfather lives on, lives still in the walls of our home. We watch his curious bison watching us as todayâ€™s flames caress our faces. One day other faces will explore our home, will admire our artwork, will study their own hands after gazing at ours. Today you cast only a single shadow. Today there is only one hand to hold. Give me your hand.
Was that rain on my face? Was that rain on my face? Not rain; but here, teetering on a greasy ribbon of path that unfurls round the slope, I have entered a cloud whose droplets cover my face like fine powder. Blindfolding cloud-lumps go bumbling past; and I am content to know and not know, not to know and then know, what fields and what streams lie below. Was that the tail end of a pale muslin wimple, a feather of leaf-mould clinging to the hem? or perhaps a brown habit, brushing the mud with its white tasselled cincture? It flicks round a rowan tree, and vanishes, light as a sigh.
You asked me why You asked me why I didn't go to live, where soft hills crouch at snow-capped mountains' feet, where wine pours from grape to glass under a cerulean sky. Why? - because I would miss the burgeoning of spring, when leaves in the bluebell wood are thickening, and the scent of roses after night rain. Thoughts of leaving you, make tears spill, then flow, but never cool the furnace of my pain. Daily, you walk across my mind: time would change the lineaments of your face I couldn't read it from that distant place. Messages could never fill the empty space between. Laughter and talk are steeped in these walls; they know our triumphs and our fears. It is here my heart has taken root, like a helix of ivy around a tree.
Father Tree A horse-chestnut thrives on a low green mound, its trunk like the sinewy back of my father’s hand thrust into the earth, each finger reaching for Palestine, seeking his mother’s bones. It’s spring, Dad, and all the buds on every bold twig on each gesticulating branch are shining like your Armenian eyes and all the birds are welcome here, whatever language they speak. The tree understands their need to roost The two candles I left burning in the cathedral across the meadow are burning for you and for Mum who sits by your hospital bed, watching you sleep. You’re both still there, giving each other light as I fold my hands and walk away.
the spaces in between in the corner of your eye you keep a familiar speck smoky mote that floats from time to time across your vision a spectre of sorts reminder of tonic no longer needed abandoned like a month that never happened did not distract nor draw you back from the edge
Crewel I swear, by linen, fixed and framed, to use my finest thread, heart bound in strong red gold, to sew the shape of tears. For kiss to cross to your side, my skill must heed the glass, stitching your letters backwards to out-spell time.
Night Visit Weeks after my mother died, I woke at 2.30 am, not in grief but in joy. I felt her sitting on the bed, Iâ€™m grand love, she seemed to say but not with words. A warm glow filled my room. Unexpected. We had journeyed together through her cancer; injections, morphine, Dad alive again, the sacred heart under the bed, agony every night as waited for light and the next dose. Until even the birds kept vigil muting their dawn chorus to soft calls. I shrugged, grateful for rest but not believing it was her, or a ghost. When my Aunt Ca, her beloved sister rang next day to say that Mam sat on her bed told her she was fine.
Living in an empty house Occasionally, we’d catch a glimpse of our mother at a window, waving. Her life hadn’t been lived in for years. Every visit, we’d sit and try to reach her -
our words searched empty rooms.
She lived in a deep labyrinth. There was always somewhere her feet were trying to get to. She’d look up and smile at something familiar, but then couldn’t remember, losing names like her purse. We all soon became lost. A nurse felt the subtle shift, phoned in the early morning, her breathing had quickened, her veins less prominent. My sisters arrived on the next flight, afraid they might have missed the bedside vigil. We tried to keep tight hold of all the things she was. We were coming indoors to our own expectations. when without warning, she looked up walked through our sadness, spoke to each of us and relaxed in the final gathering. We ran to her arms She found her way home without directions travelling light from the garden of forgetting and stood briefly at her window, pleased with what she’d grown. Waving in the rest of our lives.
Midnight Snow Outside in the creek that feeds the lake and never freezes, an otter slaps the water with his paw to feel the current's pulseâ€” Slip in, lie back. Slip in, lie back. He shuts his eyes and obeys, knowing the layers of hair and underfur will warm him while he floats on a faith we wish could carry us. The sound of his splashing fades, but not his joy in being pushed, light as driftwood, back to the mouth of the den I have seen carved out beneath the roots of a fallen fir now packed with snow and lined with leaves that promise his sleep will be deep. Because no dreams wait softly for me, I open the woodstove and strike a match, hold the bloom of the flame to kindling that catches quick as my wish: To be that slick body sliding into the lake that holds the moon, bright portal to glide through without so much as a shiver, no doubt about where I'm going, how to get there.
(Previously published in How Light Leaves, FutureCycle Press, 2016)
BIOGRAPHIES JAMES CREWS is published in Ploughshares, Raleigh Review, Crab Orchard Review and The New Republic and The London Times Literary Supplement. He has a PhD in Writing & Literature from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Author of: The Book of What Stays (Prairie Schooner Prize and Foreword Book of the Year Citation, 2011) and Telling My Father (Cowles Prize, 2017). Also coeditor of several anthologies of poetry, including Healing the Divide: Poems of Kinship and Connection. CATHERINE AYRES is a teacher from Northumberland. ‘Amazon’ was published by Indigo Dreams in 2015. She is currently studying for a creative writing Ph.D. at Northumbria University.
RONA FITZGERALD has poems in UK, Scottish, Irish and US publications, in print and online. Highlights include featured poet in the Stinging Fly 2011, Aiblins: New Scottish Political Poetry 2016, Oxford Poetry XVI.iii Winter 2016-17. Ten poems in Resurrection of a Sunflower, Pski’s Porch 2017. Recent publications are Poems for Grenfell Tower, Onslaught Press 2018 and #Me Too, Fair Acre Press, 2018.
LINDA GOULDEN is a poet of Scots birth now living in Derbyshire. She has recently had her first pamphlet, ‘Speaking parts’, published by Half Moon Books. GRAHAM ATTENBOROUGH grew up in Shrewsbury. During the 1980’s he had a serious drug problem which he has written about in his pamphlet: New Face in Hell (Bare Fiction, 2018). After rehabilitation, Attenborough became a student of History and in 2000 took a post as lecturer in History at the University of Portsmouth. In 2013 he moved back to Shrewsbury to write poetry. He works as a car park attendant and falls in love frequently. SARAH MNATZAGANIAN is an Anglo-Armenian poet. Shortlisted for the Poetry Business pamphlet competition 2016/17, her poems have been published in The North, Fenland Reed, London Grip, Poems in the Waiting Room, Write to 27
be Counted, a human rights anthology and #MeToo: Rallying against sexual assault and harassment- a women’s anthology edited by Deborah Alma. She has studied with Peter and Ann Sansom, Helena Nelson, Cliff Yeats, Michael Symonds Roberts, Frances Levison and Moniza Alvi. RACHEL MCDONALD has been writing poetry since the age of six but has been keeping them to herself until now! She is beginning to shyly send them into the world, like little birds of hope.
ANNIE WILSON started out writing for Holiday Which?, various women's magazines and travel guidebooks. She moved from London to the Welsh Borders 30 years ago. Reading, writing and listening to poetry have lit up her life over the last 10 years. She belongs to a writing group, and has occasionally read at Shrewsbury Poetry.
KATHERINE SOUTAR is an artist and illustrator who specialises in working with narrative, she has a lifelong fascination with words and a love of poetry. She started writing poetry as a way of adding words into some of her images, then continued to write as a way of working with feelings about life and loss that were difficult to express in any other way. She hopes to publish an illustrated book of poetry next year.
SANJEEV SETHI is the author of three books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). He is published in more than 25 countries. Recent credits: The Sunday Tribune Online, The Poetry Village, Picaroon Poetry, Ink Pantry, Bonnie’s Crew, Selcouth Station, Talking Writing, Packingtown Review, Episcopal Café, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.
STEPHEN INGRAM’S work draws on several sources, including the psychology of the unconscious, what is present and that which is liminal. He is drawn to contrasts, such as from the specific to the infinite, which sometimes brings his work a spiritual element, all of which is worked in to the minimum 28
number of words. Very occasionally, Stephen’s work been known to break in to humour.
JAYNE ARNOTT came late to poetry but has always been fascinated by words, their meaning and power. Jayne credits the OU with being midwife to her first poem. Not the easiest of births but the cause of many happy hours of scribbling. Now 75, she lives in Hereford with her partner, she has two sons and is a member of the Herefordshire Stanza.
MALCOLM WHITEHEAD grew up in a working class home in Peckham, (ten minutes from Old Kent Road). There were no books in the house but he was introduced to cockney rhyming slang very young: “You’ve gotta learn to use yer loaf,” said his dad, “otherwise you’ll never get anywhere.” He is very grateful that his father made him join the local library. Since then, reading and writing have given him much joy. HERMIONE SANDALL was a drama teacher and, with her husband, has sailed across the Atlantic, and to many European countries. She is married with two sons.
OLIVIA BROOKFIELD is a retired teacher who taught for thirty-eight years, and now wants to write for self enjoyment. Aware of the pitfalls of remaining seated for too long she keeps fit by going to the gym four times a week. She loves cooking for the family; makes jam prolifically and has been learning French for ten years. She loves travelling with her husband, notebook in hand, and walking in the countryside seeking inspiration.
MEL MCEVOY works in end of life care. Born of Irish parents in Liverpool 1960s. Final year of her MA in Creative Writing at the Open University. Driven to try and capture what it means to face your own death and find meaning. Currently working on a selection of poems set in an NHS Hospital about a dying man. First collection was called 'An Emptied Space’ (2012) Mudfog Press.
BETHANY RIVERS is editor of As Above So Below. Publications: the sea refuses no river from Fly on the Wall Press; Off the wall from Indigo Dreams; Fountain of Creativity: Ways to nourish your writing from Victorina Press. She mentors writers one to one: www.writingyourvoice.org.uk
Spiritual Poetry online magazine. Editor Bethany Rivers