AS ABOVE SO BELOW ISSUE 6: LIMINAL SPACES Autumn 2020
Photo by Jen Hawkins
Welcome It’s been a tough year for many of us, and we’re still not out of the woods yet, but it’s creative projects like this that helps keep me going. So I hope you too find comfort, inspiration, thought provocation, laughter and poignancy in the poems that follow. It’s been a joy, as ever, to curate this collection of liminality. Thank you to all the contributors and the cover artist, Jen Hawkins. If you’ve had more than one poem accepted, you’ll see that they are spread throughout the collection, in order for the top half of the anthology to reflect the bottom half: as above so below. Whatever happens, may we stay creative, keep writing, keep sharing. Bethany Rivers Editor
CONTENTS Poem Author Remembering the Blade-Shape Put yourself in his place What Matters Most Sunday Upon Sunrise Out of the attic Seattle Morning Hypnagogia Marking Time: Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire Red Umbrella on Inishmoor YVR, Vancouver International Airport According to AOL Letter to Bowers from the Pandemic’s Underbelly Bird Man Dreaming Flight The Secret Place Feline Grove Street Gardens Liminal Beach Meccano Dawn Gustavo’s Rite Not really an odd time Today’s News The No Name Time Caveman Earth Geometry Midnight and Saffron The Hidden Years Memory an Inferno A way out of the labyrinth The Shakuhachi Knows J Beer Bottle Suizen With the Green Man Cambridgeshire Landlady Sister Mary Phillida, anchoress at Walsingham You Don’t Get Everything Back Limen The day after Boxing Day Crossing invisible lines December Limbo Time Dusk Kit-Kat Night In the time of lockdown 3
Robert Okaji Kate Garrett Rachel Stanworth Rowan Middleton Mark Tulin Tim Bosley Susan Zeni Matthew J. Andrews Abigail Elizabeth Ottley SM Jenkin Mackenzie Stapleton Ruth Sabath Rosenthal Stephanie L. Harper Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Tricia Waller Robert Beveridge Rowan Middleton Jenny Robb Rachel Stanworth Ed Ahern Clive Donovan Ruth Aylett Cristina M.R. Norcross Matthew J. Andrews Marian Christie Maggie Mackay Sarah Law Ian C Smith Kate Garrett Robert Okaji John McCullough Robert Okaji Kate Garrett Ian C Smith Sarah Law Maggie Mackay Marian Christie Tim Bosley Cristina M. R. Norcross Ruth Aylett Clive Donovan Rona Fitzgerald Rachel Stanworth Marian Christie
Page 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50
Photograph of malecรณn statue, the stargazer Travelling East Puzzlewood Sunset Alabaster Collision with reality The sound of moving house Waiting at Solstice Persephone Addresses Her Granddaughter Bethel Seward Park Nocturne Dawn Chorus La Ferme dans les Arbres Come With Me magicae nemorensis, magicae urbis Waiting for the Shakuhachi, BIOGRAPHIES
Charles Leggett Paula Bonnell Olivia Brookfield Russell Willis Stephanie L. Harper Rex Sweeny Pat Edwards SM Jenkin Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Matthew J. Andrews Kevin Jones Tim Bosley John Kaprielian Rowan Middleton Rachel Stanworth Kate Garrett Robert Okaji
51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68
Remembering the Blade-Shape How to explain this need to expel with breath the day's unmet storms, absorbing thunder in silk and the grasses unfolding after the foot departs. Fifty percent of the air enters the flute as the other half passes over the edge. My mouth is a blade and I am also that bruised stem seeking light, the shelter within the hollow core.
Robert Okaji (Previously published in The Larger Geometry: poems for peace)
Put yourself in his place On my arm like a raindrop, a zebra spider lands between the hairs and slides down them, leading to his next destination. My children watch as he hops across canyon folds of my skirt, berries and stars scatter before his eight eyes, the changing terrain beneath his leaping. We follow him past wicker and iron, cheering all the way. Careful where we step, guiding. Our voicesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; vibrations blur â&#x20AC;&#x201C; we are temporary gods; angels too big to see.
What Matters Most The depth and measure of this life sometimes requires fictive corrections for certain truths to be heard. You may need to write three words on the rib of a sheep and see what that tells you, or with a sharp needle, prick out the veins of a green leaf to peep through and see what’s there. Alternatively, to help you get your bearings, you could test whether your heart’s generosity is deeper than its well of judgements. Perhaps you need to re-write powerful centrifugal forces holding you back from that still centre you’ve heard about, might even have glimpsed, but know you can’t reach without the span of a narrative arc or a poem’s guiding resonance. You might appreciate one of those stories that flows like a cold mountain stream, making rocky facts glisten in a new way. Facts you learned, facts you thought you had forgotten; stepping stone facts, those you stumble over. But don’t worry about all that. Don’t tax yourself over things like Truth and what qualifies. Perhaps what matters most in life, 7
is how loudly your last breath declares a loverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s koan. Everything else is detail, distraction, or preparation.
Sunday We sat in the snug by the window. The coffee machine frayed the air as we watched people in the street. Our empty cups stood on the table between us. ‘Time to go?’ said Larry, and we stepped outside. The rain had stopped, and all the pavements glistened. We passed the vegetable stall and the discount stores, then turned into St George’s Street, where we saw a rainbow. Its colours glowed above chimney pots and TV aerials, and made the white walls look grubby. I turned to glance at Larry, wrapped in his brown coat and scarf. People tramped past in hats and raincoats. In that crisp moment it seemed clear; such garments concealed a light within.
Upon Sunrise Once sunrise occurs, I shake out the sand, and fold my blanket I escaped another night of darkness and whispers I store my blanket into a travelling sack, slip-on my tongue-less shoes and stretch my legs on flat ground, raising my arms toward the clouds I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know where Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m headed, but have a vague idea that if I read the signs, I will make it to another resting place If I could maintain my strength, avoid the disease that lurks in grains of dusty air and spoiled food, I will safely hide between temporary roots and a false sense of security.
Out of the attic Instead, I brought down a cardboard box bowed on all four sides tired from the effort of containing my memories. In it I found my last school photograph. We stared obediently out at the camera, lined up, mug shot, smiles stamped out of us as if at passport control waiting to cross the border into another country.
Seattle Morning This lake coming out of fog, before the sun breaks through, before beauty flaps her wings into colour, before the world unblurs and words surprise me like sunshine, its faithfulness to separate objects and necessity: the wallet with crisp dollars, the house of bricks, the tick tick tock of time over us/under us, how cars run on gas, health insurance is required, red red apples plunge to sod and mush, before sirens spiral over the wide water, wide city, wide bridges.
Hypnagogia Phantasmagoric sunset lingering long on the horizon, an eternal burning of coals, the amber light reflecting as fractals off ghostly waters. Every breath echoes with thunder. Every wind is an undead voice. See a door, walk through it, navigating with the eyes of your fingertips. Make love to the monster inside, let it smear your body like paint and echo your name in the chasm. Let stardust settle on your still shell. Put the coals in the cavities of your eyes and pray to the waterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reflection as you sink deeper into timeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s shadow.
Matthew J. Andrews
Marking Time: Robin Hoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bay, Yorkshire Between here and the horizon a dolly-blue sea, flatter than forever. The sea-god intrudes his broad rough tongue. The earth is losing her grip. Bladderwrack abounds in brown weedy bands Its scaurs are dressed for spring-time. On the shining strand an ellipsis of stones hints at mysteries too ancient to speak. Under the red clayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s slippage brooding rocks look seaward, watchful as widows. Friskier boulders seem to dance in the shallows waving sea-fern seductive as veils. Out of sandstone, mudstone, sedimentary shale the ocean has hefted this landscape. Bits of porphyry from the land of the Norse remind us how time bears down.
Abigail Elizabeth Ottley
Red Umbrella on Inishmoor I remember the red umbrella that my mother held, while we were walking together on Inishmmor. Our only trip away that summer from her mother’s hearth, crowned with brass-rimmed photos of the dead, while the embers settled about the range. Ashes now, where her sister-in-law fed her husband’s hungry mechanics and drivers, while my mother’s sisters, not ash yet, pecked their beaks about the tea cups and saucers. But for the pair of us wild geese, down to Galway and perching at the hostel, before flying out on the coach to the Ailwee Caves, to the Aran Islands and back to dance along the streets, fuelled by Guinness pie and shared sweeties. Geese or ducks it made no difference, when my mother finally noticed me noticing one summer, the birds of all things, and how it all worked for them. The drake puffing and strutting about the spring reeds at the edge of the waters, fierce enough to push his bird beneath the surface if it helped to get the job done. Hen or dame they both end up near drowned, unless they’re flighty enough. My mother will tell you about the time she stalked ducks with her brother up on the Sliabh Fiadh, and he pushed her face down into the sphagnum moss to get a better shot. It was on the main street that the farmer caught up with us. Him so sure of himself after his chat on the ferry over, sweet aran sweater, grey crew cut parted like a tree, resting at an odd angle against the westerlies. Basking in the sun, in the sure and warm welcome that was surely coming to him, his smile that only showed his bone-bright teeth when he had to ask for the second time, where my mother had got to. She was right beside me... I remember the raw wood, exposed where the flaking white paint had fallen from the side of the fishing boat, that my mother hid behind until after he had finally gone, and the umbrella spinning alone on the wet tarmac in front of me.
YVR, Vancouver International Airport Day bleeds into night. Figures rush by as shadows, one moment the next, .
The thrum of voices drowns your surroundings; your thoughts the only thing louder. Though you wish they’d vanish. You’ve given up straining to hear her voice floating in far-off whispers. You see her face in each new arrival, smell her phantom perfume. The last of the sun’s rays melt the hair of the woman near the terminal and in that half-second, before your mind catches up you think it’s her. The sun hides behind clouds, finally rests its weary head. And you’re left 16
in a grey dullness. Waiting.
According to AOL Dear sister i just sent you an e-mail & according to Aol: “Your Message Has Been Sent!” It’s been 1 month 5 days minus 9 hours since you died & if by some blesséd event you do receive the transmission please please send me a sign somehow not only confirming this but that you actually read it & believe my compassion & forgive the annoyance i conveyed in what turned out to be your final days. It’s now 72 hours since i e-mailed you & Aol just notified me by e-mail that you didn’t receive my message: MAILER-DAEMOM Undelivered
Mail Returned To Sender followed by a scramble of ChArAcTeRS & SyMbOLs — tHe sUBJeCT LiNe oF mY mESsAGe iN thaT jUmbLE — hAD Aol bEEN aBLE tO LoCAtE yOu iN ThE vASt uNiVERSe yOu pRoBaBLy wOuLD hAvE deLeTeD mY e-MAiL uNReAD aNYwAY fOr iN mY heArT oF hEaRTs i BeLiEve yOu ArE gOinG oUT oF yOuR wAY tO aVoiD SeNdiNg mE a SigN oF aNY KiNd & i mUse wHaT wOuLD bE iF yOu sEE i GrAPPLe WitH gRieF & gUiLT NonSTOP
Ruth Sabath Rosenthal
Letter to Bowers from the Pandemic’s Underbelly Dear Audrey: Four days ago, when I first attempted to write to you, I got as far as penciling the date at the top of a blank page before returning to the fevered oblivion of uncertain breath. I’ve since been fortunate enough to have avoided the chaos of a hospital emergency room—having providentially back-doored my way into an out-of-network respiratory clinic, where chest x-rays yielded a pneumonia diagnosis & an ensuing test for the dreaded novel coronavirus came back positive—but not the nightly bane of alternating chills & sweats & not knowing what further cause for alarm the next hour would bring, including but not limited to the question of whether my son, standing outside at ten o’clock at night in a severe thunderstorm with wind gusts of fifty-miles-per-hour, would have enough sense to come indoors before the quarter-sized hail began pelting him… I’ve managed to stay vertical for a full fifteen minutes while eking out these lines, & now, as I begin to fade, I’m feeling a strange combination of triumph & lament: while I’m optimistic about my recovery finally heading in the desired direction & more than relieved not to be adding at least one particular undesirable statistic to my repertoire, I also never imagined I’d live to see the day I’d discover that my beloved Poetry is not so much an actual element of my own blood, as it is an exotic other, a separate life form, however precious, I’ve only known the luxury of cultivating like a juniper bonsai in a relatively oxygen-rich environment. Poetry, it turns out, is not some elixir for a richer life to be procured & casually sipped; rather like a sapling, in all its tender precariousness, it requires our fortitude & right orientation toward the entire living, breathing world (breathing, to my mind, being the operative word) in order to survive—an inclination which, for my foreseeable future, will be predominantly horizontal in nature… In the meantime, I shall count on the selfsame atmosphere that feeds the breath of Poetry to keep you healthy & safe, as I remain your reclined & convalescent friend, Stephanie.
Stephanie L. Harper
Bird Man Dreaming Flight Flitting through twilight like brilliant ghosts they twittered from their early evening perches. The chicken wire sides of your ramshackle aviary extended high and wide high as the sky. Joey was your favourite. He would sit on your wrist while you hooked a calloused finger to caress him. Pretty, pretty Joey. You pursed your bristling, bushy lips bestowing a peck of a kiss. The aviary went first, then our house was other-peopled. Childhood is made precious by such memories: the hush before tea-time, you in your shirt-sleeves, breathing in the roosting, feathered silence. From our high back steps you study the sky, sigh, suck softly on your pipe.
Abigail Elizabeth Ottley
The Secret Place
Just as the world awakens, uncurls, stretches and yawns I tread slowly, silently within shadows of deep velvet green forests, in the company of wild rabbits just a heartbeat and a whisker away. Squinting through subaqueous light is an ancient splintered kissing gate. I squeeze through, my toes tip-tap across the bruised and blistered board walk and enter the sacred, my Elysium. My fingertips leapfrog over hills of peagreen algae which grace the failing fence. I breathe in the sweet purple orchid, the newborn morning, trap golden sunbeams on my tongue which fizz and explode like popping candy. I flow through the proscenium arch of oaks: the air is alive with the clarion call of early rising robins, blackbirds and thrushes.
I dreamed I kissed you. Slow weave of lips and tongue your hands against my temples your body softsolid against me rustle of clothes a static beneath the sound of my veins I awoke to you on my chest, to your lungs' attempt to steal what I am eager to give, dreamed again.
Grove Street Gardens Parakeets swirl through a firmament of green in the old graveyard behind St Cyprians. A young woman hides behind a dappled trunk and watches children dart among the bushes. The traffic noise is soft, like distant waves. Sometimes a siren breaks in, then subsides. Nothing disturbs the stillness of the trees. On every bench lies a grey and ragged man. Every so often one of them gets up slowly and walks to the iron gates without a sound. Soon another arrives to take his place. One lies with his right arm hanging down, his beard grizzled and his skin like marble, dreaming like one of Arthurâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s knights.
Liminal Beach Lone shark-fin rock in shallow surf, guards the empty beach. Colour leeched and sucked by incessant tides, leaves grey sand licked with frothy spittle. Bare-boned hills channel darkening winds that moan, as giant shapes silvered by moon-light, trace slime patterns on sand.
Meccano Dawn ‘Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life’ – Rumi When the world cranks awake and sleep’s consolations splinter, when the sun wearily hauls round the rusty hinge holding night close to dawn, and timid beams lubricate day’s protesting crank-shaft, my soul resists the rude and crunching gear change. Like a swimmer tide-thrown to shingle I submit, pushing a reluctant foot stiffly out from under the duvet, cantilevering it floorwards on a pulley of winces. Then the other. I avoid the barbed–wire twist by hauling on the bedstead, gracelessly winding myself up, cog by cog to vertical. The sun mimics my jagged progress from one polished surface to another, by rubbing up the brightness on scrubby tree tops to get itself going. So much for cloaking gratitude, that shabby thing kicked under a hard chair where it hurts too much to bend and retrieve. The nuts and bolts of my morning concern putting my pants on. Take a reality check Rumi.
Gustavo’s Rite He walked onto the harbour beach at sunset, planting a small net on a pole like a guidon, and setting soiled cloth bags around it. Alone on the beach he began his dance. Mismatched clothes flapping, he swayed, then paced, then crouched to pat the sand into a crescent, then stepped back and back, dug sand by hand, finding black things and tossing them into a jumbled pile . He stepped easily, as if riding waves, moving in erose shapes only he knew. Then he gathered net and bags and left, not glancing back at the cairn of burnt wood and asphalt fragments. All this I watched from a restaurant deck, and had to ask the waiter about him. “Gustavo,” he said, shrugging, “a local character.” I nodded but kept silent, recalling that morning walking another beach, trying to feel profound.
Not really an odd time Not really an odd time to have a funeral the sky darkens as we put our loved ones to bed and a dove above croons its lullaby the rising stink of mothballs mingles with ironic stains of weddings on black jackets while this impudent pigeon in its fashionable gray struts his mating stuff on a stiff limb overlording all on a yew tree with she whom he loves we who are mateless and sob for it while we try to hold dignity in ceremony does this dove truly represent peace with his untroubled repetitious trance-like ventriloquism of his coos seeming so far away? Then bring on a circle of wolves to sing for us the sky darkens over this crucible of tombstones jutting like teeth anguished and decayed it will be time soon for the night creatures the twilight games they play under the moon speck as we walk away, two slip back to fill in the graves.
Todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s News The morning scrambles up the sky, claims grey-pink-orange is the best colour; the morning stumbles down the street looking hung over and harassed; the morning taps on the window and asks if you have any change; the morning skips around the playground painting it with stripes through the railings. The morning ducks and dives through the traffic, glittering; demands you get your arse into gear. The evening jumps out of the afternoon and says â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;boo!â&#x20AC;&#x2122;, caught you not at it; the evening walks in through the windows speaking of hot buttered scones; the evening reflects off the pond and tells the swans to go home; the evening gathers around the sunset placing strategic stars for effect. The evening slides over the hills insinuating it will all end in darkness.
The No Name Time The dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lingering perfume leaves a vapour trail of words and footsteps. The lowering light through the window slows the pulse. Just as you slip between cool, welcoming sheets, the mind becomes liquid. Small droplets of thought, like pearls, leave a dotted line, leading to the door of another world. You sink to the bottom of an ocean dream, exchanging glances with creatures who need no light and conversing with jellyfish. Limbs heavy with sleep, your hands become transparent, unable to touch things, yet still part of this dimension. You become the lead actor in this under-the-sea adventure, until the sun peeks through narrow cracks in the blinds, breaking the spell of night with day.
Cristina M.R. Norcross
Caveman Lustful eyes look longingly at shadows dancing on the walls, aching to live the fantasy of absence on skin, of spectral touch, to lick dew that forms when shapeless fog condenses on stone.
Matthew J. Andrews
Earth Geometry Let us assign the cube to earth. Plato In this Muladhara Lotus is the square region of Prthivi. Purnananda
Solid stacking. Four triangles per plane; six planes. Cube. Immobile.
Beautiful as lightning, a square surrounded by eight shining spears.
Shifting plates on a spinning sphere; magnetized, with a molten core.
My mother, toes dew-sensuous, at dawn among her fuchsias.
Marian Christie (Previously published in The Bridges 2020 Anthology)
Midnight and Saffron
So, from the white framed print her childhood springs. Ink geometry. Some artist’s pencil cuts between midnight blue and saffron light. Two blackhouses stand at right angles, and, fifty paces east, the Hebridean church she holds in her heart, its mouth-music moan, eternal Sunday rest. Machair shell and sand blow south, roll in on tides to the shore. She spots orchids where the corncrake rasps. Plovers sing on the running water’s edge. On the horizon, she keeps company with otter, seal and dolphin, and, through salty wash, gives witness to her parents’ beckoning wave.
Maggie Mackay (Previously commended in The Mothers' Milk Writing Prize)
The Hidden Years You had been banished, yet you never left your Norfolk home; sometimes they would hear things â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a peasant girl pausing at the dawn's lip, Aves fluting through a haze of faith; the old priest in his tattered robe would sometimes glimpse the curve of your gauzy form, your oval eyes, your smile, in an uncertain light. Rustling trees. The starling's flight. Sometimes a stream of gold like a layer of sun-kissed hair rivering over this blue-green world.
Sarah Law (Over four hundred years passed between the destruction of the Marian shrine at Walsingham and its restoration in the early twentieth century.)
Memory an Inferno He logs on to find their once familiar street, properties for sale, recently sold, can’t remember the number. They thought they had survived hard slog days, no more landlords. Clicking, he sees it, yes, there, many small changes, no sign of damage done, the sense of an ending, a hose, the irony of this, coiled on the lawn. She took advantage of the car to shop, leaving him stuck inside instead of at work due to a power shutdown, rain incessant, soaking, silencing, bone-cold. He tried lighting their open fire, had not thought to stockpile firewood under cover, his paltry efforts squibs. Another of many mistakes of youth was his decision to spark up that flimsy fire with two-stroke mower fuel. Yet another was choosing, albeit in panic, the narrowest window pane, a bed his trampoline, to smash through after being unable to open their front door he inadvertently locked, jerking at it ajitter. With his neighbour’s calm help they had controlled the blaze using a hose by the time the brigade arrived, its bell piercing that day’s silence, the neighbour’s door bloodsplattered, black billowing smoke from the oil merging with louring cloud, firemen’s feet sinking into the front yard. Fingering a puckered scar, he thinks of that girl he married, the blaze lighting that dark day of his stupid stunt swept away now, remembers her braking outside their smoking house behind the fire truck, shopping forgotten, car door left ajar, her rush towards him. What have you done? she cried, before he was driven to be stitched up, pain, shock, beginning to set in that freezing, sodden, nothing left to cling to morning. What have you done to my house? Alive in the labyrinthine plot of the past, he tries comparing the prices they paid, sold the house for, with its value now, allowing for life’s inevitable inflation, but the soaring cost proves incalculable.
Ian C Smith
A way out of the labyrinth You’re not here to lose yourself; it’s not that sort of maze. Flowers don’t block out the world – they are a map of knee-high stalks, given direction by blooming heads turned to the late summer sun. Walking these rows, you can pretend time stops; you can lay out the wrongs you haven’t yet put right and cut them open, arrange them in columns like debts and payments on recycled paper. There are quiet gods slowing their breath as you stand still in the lavender and listen to the music of mistakes, learning the chords. The sharp soft paths hum and seal the cuts your own apologies made under your skin. You drift out on purple perfume, scars faded, knowing who you were, who you won’t be again.
The Shakuhachi Knows Silence pours through itself and huddles against the light. Unsure, I exhale and a tongue of air flickers through the openings, bearing questions whose answers I cannot shape into words. Who stands there singing? What is the colour of love or a shadow's weight? When will this begin to end?
Robert Okaji (Previously published in Winnow Magazine)
by John McCullough
J And so it starts, though I cannot. Despite my being unable to say the first words there is a voice doing it, this not-speaking. There are risks. Even now, Marie Curie's notebooks are so radioactive no one can hold them. Likewise, there are phrases that I (whoever this is) am reluctant to approach, to slide from their lead-lined box in case my skin candles to green, words I cannot form without a chance of my teeth falling out. Books can kill you. I know this. I read and read and woke one night with a clawed hand squeezing my brain. I stumbled to the bathroom past three stacks from a library's Renaissance section. I had dissected every text, by which I mean I incised their skins and weighed their organs in my palms, warm kidneys, spleens and lungs, till each went cold and I realized I'd been removing pieces of myself, a little at a time. My throat closed and the sound wouldn't rise. No one could get within a hundred miles. I grasped my mobile and all that fell from my lips were the noises of a failed genetic experiment: the grunts of a boar, an owl's screech as it heard its own limits. I lay curled in an armchair for weeks staring at my hands, my skin so paper-thin I split open at the lightest brush of sound. I became a vessel of many silences: the quiet of a locked room, braided with the nearly-not-there of a tree, a pause in a quarrel, tongue cropped with one flick of a wrist. I had to learn to talk again, practised for hours forming J, a narrow tunnel of breath, just to shape my name. Now I can talk, in the granite of my head I sense cracks that one day might reopen. It makes me listen. I follow the quivering pistils of tulips. The sky withholds its voice and I linger. It is forming a word, not the bellows of thunder but something else trying and trying to begin, almost getting there in this gathering of broken air. 37
Beer Bottle Suizen No rules apply here. I blow into the empty bottle and achieve silence. Tilting it, I adjust my mouth's shape and blow across the glass lip, receiving a flicker of tone in return. Repeat. More of the same. Discarding the vessel, I open another, drink deeply. Become the emptying. Looking for space he fondles shelved books. Tomorrow's folly.
(Previously published in Subterranean Blue)
With the Green Man You’ll see he paints the seasons in shades of carpet moss and lichen. Ivy spell-paths lead us over bark to slip through boughs tapping the sky – leaves are fire, gold, blood today; dead brown mulch underfoot tomorrow. In high summer, ferns’ curling fronds become his face. Stop and look down – to know the common inkcap and the glistening is a gentle bump from curse to cure. To choose between ash or elder is to preserve yourself, or offer your soul to an otherworld hunt. You wonder how she knows the things she shows you: each day she walks into his thousand arms, reads the pattern of his heart.
Cambridgeshire Landlady You travel to exotic places without leaving home. Yesterday, creaseless Americans in pastel shades enquired about bathrooms, hot water’s efficiency. Today, Australians fill your tiny cottage with shoulders, thighs, rucksacks, bold exclamations of delight. Tomorrow? Who knows? Perhaps an elegant moustachioed Spaniard with soulful eyes shall transport you to Barcelona, or the glory of Alhambra. Without a map we had hiked until the day dimmed in mid-afternoon, signs pointing across cold fields through barnyard mud where we lost crooked trails only to find them again leading to blue smoke above a serrated cottage roof line. Ducks streamed under stone bridges past black-faced sheep, glimpses of a distant spire charcoal sketched against the sky. Our breath steaming, jewels of mist adorned our hair. Your fragile tea set warns visitors to take care at the second B&B after we creaked down slender stairs hearing a church bell’s chime, refreshed from the first B&B’s swift exhausted dreams under low beams. Radio murmuring, you ask where our freedom leads, offering more cosy tea, aged hands trembling. You recall your late husband, a joyful journey to Scotland long ago, eyes momentarily distant, traversing those headlong years, their heft, the heart’s map.
Ian C Smith
Sister Mary Phillida, anchoress at Walsingham d. 1985 "If God has achieved anything in this place it is because Sister Mary Phillida has been and is a silent centre of the ongoing miracle." (Fr Hope Patten) i In 1920 she is twenty-four: a Lady, and a pianist, who played to the wealthy at the Wigmore Hall – Beethoven, perhaps some Mendelssohn; she poses, with a folded fan, at Bassano's on Bond Street, her arms bare, throat exposed, her hair up and her face at once sensitive and stubborn in the way young women are. What draws her to Norfolk, to pour her whole life into its pool of silence, only she and God know; and perhaps Hope Patten, receiving her confession – does she hear, even now, the light between the chords the keys unlock? ii Pure silence, pure light – did she find it? Hours falling like old leaves; years sliding like a coast eroding – her hidden life blanched in prayer, deep night, wing-white iii I only saw her once, descending the stairs from the Sue Ryder chalet on Walsingham High Street – her grey habit blended into the flintstone; her eyes were kind, though, and her smile; it was mild high summer. Later I found she had long since left us – light flared through a shiver of birds – I wondered who I'd seen, then, and how I somehow knew.
Sarah Law 41
You Don’t Get Everything Back
I’ve forgotten your voice, in this new reality, can’t fix your timbre; that sharp telling off tone, bright teasing quip, a mother’s calm consolation. However much I conjure catchphrases don’t make a fuss, don’t get so excited and your unique cadence when you joked of me here comes trouble or life never boring with you around it is no more. No digging it out. Your last inward breath has drawn your sound from me.
Maggie Mackay (Previously published in The Writers' Café Magazine)
Limen sliding sun wavers a path across the sea which way does the tide pull? ripples on wet sand slice through your reflection shimmer it back not quite together foam laces your ankles draws you towards the calling waves I want to fold my hands around you cradle you in my cupped palms past sea holly and marram grass to the shelter of the trees abide with you on sweet-scented earth listen a dove is calling
Marian Christie (Previously published in The Amethyst Review)
The day after Boxing Day My parents-in-law, both in their seventies, are like two erratics left behind after the glacier has retreated from our living room. Both are firmly embedded in the soft rock of the sofa, gently leaning on each other having shared the journey of a lifetime. My son and our dog, Ringo, rest, deposited on the rug, the meltwater of crap TV trickling around them. Everywhere there is debris the moraine of abandoned half empty boxes of chocolates, nuts, raisins, empty glasses, shreds of wrapping paper, and needles around the dying tree.
Crossing invisible lines They first met in the dreamtime, an open field of golden honey bales and pine trees bordering the fence. His tweed jacket and pocket kerchief looked odd to her. Her thin sundress looked too modern to him. Their meetings were brief and infrequent. At exactly 3am, her eyes would open and then close, eyelids fluttering until the hum of the ceiling fan mimicked the music of this other space. They sat amongst dry stalks of wheat, asking each other as many questions as possible. If either he awakened or she awakened, the connection between worlds would break, and the field would dissolve. The sudden disappearing felt like looking at the sky through too bright rays of sun. Flashes of white made all tangible things lose their outline, until even the field would fade. Never meeting during the day, sometimes going weeks without a rendezvous, time condensed on these nights. Lovers in an unknown land balance on this thin thread.
Cristina M.R. Norcross
December The month when the dark breeds. At midday the sun clears the tenements just enough to glance a five minute side-light at the white under-wing of a seagull, circling and circling as if it knows this is no time to be earth-bound. The earth clutches at the living with dank insistence, dragging down and down, buries all hope and growth in rotting leaves, neatly heaping chilly skeletons for the darkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reconstruction.
Ruth Aylett (Previously published in Right Hand Pointing)
Limbo Time Should I be graced in that brief space of attention Between my sleep and the mayhem of the day With a short sweet stay in Limbo's haven, So close is it to the realm of Heaven, My mind peels open wide amazed! This wallpaper, this bed, this unRestructured human head; Amnesiac, but lack of panic. No flash-back, no hand to hold, I know I don't know where I live, With whom, or if it is well-told? A holiday! For some, like Proust, a horror-hell – He needs his boost of recollection Just so's he can feel alive. For me, As yet unborn, this is a luscious taste Of death before breakfast – a thin time To stretch and rest and linger in; A womb so rare before the probing Fingers slip inside and enter Bearing my identity and, Most efficiently, Pop on my name and pull me in so That I can be born again: Tagged, labelled and correct And then the day's Babel begins: Old afflictions, adopted sins, Entanglement in elastic strings Of love, duty, calendars And just a wisp of hope that still Another dawn I may be captured By that silky bandit who With sly stiletto cuts a slice of Time from out of Limbo time – Sliding in to rout my thoughts And kidnap memory – A test, a trial, a chance for me To wonder, madly, truly, at How innocent I am.
Dusk In the west of Ireland, sitting in half-light we slowly drift into night. The sun glides gently over the horizon, air shimmers as if faeries have their candles on glow. I love this time of winding down rough edges of rocky hills softened into shadow dancers against an indigo sky. A hush falls on birds, bees and beasts. The cares of the day evaporate. My time, a refuge in teenage years walking in evening light, escaping harsh eyes and censure. Wrapped up, safe from exposure. On the water, waves reflect warm pockets of waning light. I set aside my day face. The ocean stretches to infinity, asks for our stories reminding us to breathe, to rest, to be.
Kit-Kat Night Beyond the curtains a fierce wind drilled through the saturated tree. My newly learned yogi breathing was no competition. On an unfamiliar slippery domed mattress I tossed and twisted from stomach to back, from side to side, then back again. Pillow on. Pillow off. Sleep was a distant dry land, far flung on the high seas of insomnia. A grey bedside lamp kept company. The worldwide web watched me swim through the net and my book was in hiding. 4am is the criminal liminal; too late to stay up, too early to rise. Unwinding the duvet I just lay there, moaning. After some rummaging, what finally steered me towards dawn was an old Kit-Kat hidden in a fluffy dark corner of my bag. A bit squashed, but good enough. With that satisfying thumbnail pierce of the foil, I raised the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s favourite two fingers to the elements, to the blasting radiator, and to all thieves who come in the night.
In the time of lockdown Each morning she kneels on the pavement beside the cathedralâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s locked gate. Her floral skirt is bright against the concrete. Sunbirds glint in jacaranda trees. The air is winter-sharp. There are no passers-by to observe the thin slant of her shadow, her grace in solitude, hands clasped, head bowed, her face hidden by the floppy contours of her hat. On the other side of the gate Christ, nailed to a cross, awaits death and resurrection. The light is unforgiving. It exposes cracks in paving stones, hardens the edges of things, etches beneath Christâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wreath of thorns, His pain. Each morning she is there on the pavement and Christ is there on His cross. The gate between them, locked.
Marian Christie (Previously published in The Amethyst Review)
Photograph of malecón statue, the stargazer whose binoculars have fused with his face The azure thins, bleeds to blood orange cuddling couple in silhouette boundaries blurred of clouds a bird drifting down Allons three cheers for flawless posture peerless votary let fall what thee befuddles what muddles still that starry heaven’s sprawled rune horizon incising your shadow-shawled waist where would-be hands resign assignment and surely should Your lens can only linger on fingers gelled to gemcan raining rice on a languorous lion augur-cocaine awaited and prayed upon weighed on the scales (i have scanned there too friend and found)—it only can hone what there will wend Who chafes to change the azimuth who has a hand so strange range o range us in azure thinned pure to blood-rust orange —Puerto Vallarta, 2006
Charles Leggett (Previously published by: Barnwood Press, Automatic Pilot, isacoustic)
Travelling East I thought of stopping to take a photograph. I would call it "Mist and the ravages of Tent Caterpillars." But the mirror on my 35 was jammed, and this was interstate -- EMERGENCY STOPPING ONLY -just a few trucks and tourists cocooned on the shoulder; so I held the truck to 50 on the grade, watching the yellows and whites converge to blank out objects, distinctions, horizon. It was all one. I entered it on a lizard-tongue of a road. Across the median, three tractor-trailer rigs wormed their way up the concrete. Ahead a punchhole of a sun bit through the murk, and off to the sides small glosses shone where caterpillars made their cotton candy of the trees. I am like them: coming out of the nurturing country into expectations disparate as leaves, I make mouthings of trucks, fog, worms, and bundle the landscape with my states of mind.
Puzzlewood Shadows were rising, so I melted into the wood, and became no more than a wind through leaves, between the scowles and leaning trees. I left the seething world behind, treading on cushions of moss to find Hart's Tongue ferns unfurling near twisted roots of Yew, labyrinthine and mystical. The clamour had gone, transcended by the music of water cascading from stone to stone, the drop of an acorn on soft loam, and the forest breathing. Tree light streamed in. Fingers of sun caught the sheen of a bird's wing, and everything was limned in gold. Fairy motes twirled in the air, as if a new world had begun.
by Russell Willis
Hanging Over the horizon Jagged slash in the fabric of the sky Above, the colour of slate Below, the absence of colour but not quite, rather hints of mountain shapes robbed of texture and tint The slash leaks light From Heaven? (Hell?!) Surely not from Earth Not this light to call it orange is like calling the fruit from Eden an “apple” to speak of it as red reduces life-giving blood to a mere liquid to name it yellow is surely cowardly, as if something that is “yellow” could be awful—as in “filling me with awe” Creation slamming into eyes as waves born in the vastness of the sea breaking upon the shore in times of storm Now God-light slashes through the clouds in sharply defined angles when just before But before the image can be fully grasped, pink no longer a slash, rather, a smudge senses dulled gasps muted to sighs pink hardly the harbinger of chaos much less creation certainly not Hell hardly even pink anymore The slash has healed colour paled Heaven retreating in the face of One more Thursday night.
Alabaster I am a pink rose petal’s pale glow the black ash tamped in furrows between the breaths of the living & the droning of the dead dawn unfurling over sand dunes & seagulls soaring on thermal spirits of iodine salt & shellfish & sometimes scattering in the wind I can’t find where everything else ends
& I begin
Now rising from the morning hush this cloud of me speaks to the red tail hawk perched on a streetlamp & tells her I’m fine because I’m still not sure how to talk about not being fine I am an instar trying to be the clearest version of myself a final lucent skin
so that the glint you find in my eyes as dusk’s last embers bleed into the sea will be the truth of me
Stephanie L. Harper (Previously published in Sixfold magazine)
Collision with reality This isn’t what it seems: a small room, scarcely more than a cubicle, high-ceilinged, glass all round, a standard hospital space. My oldest friend attentive at his wife’s bedside: she’s injured but beaming, vigorous. And beside her a miniature bed containing a miniature person evolving from crimson to pink and reporting the journey in a tongue that lacks consonants. I’ve disparaged parenthood, childbirth, all that – so tempting a stance if you’re unattached and screwed-up. Now every word’s refuted. This isn’t what it seems: a commonplace hospital box. It’s huge, it fills me with awe – an invisible cathedral. Something so big has happened here there’s no architecture to express it. Take off your shoes for this is holy ground.
The sound of moving house In this house we have heard near death experiences, the tip-toeing of medicine into the bodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reservoirs. We have learned the notes and exchanges of birds whose flight has disturbed the air and parted clouds. The crunch of snow, the drone of deluge, the endless worry of sheep has composed a seasonal rural score, soundtrack to our screenplay. Now we are leaving, needle scrapes the vinyl, scratches out a new tune. Strangers coming and going will be hum of engines revving in the lane, clattering doors. Voices will drift into our silent dreams, gatecrash through thin walls, until we settle again to the rhythm of living in town. We will hear lips pull on cigarettes, blow out smoke, the rattle of neighbours like percussion in the yard.
Waiting at Solstice Let the world hold her breath, I can feel her heart beat It is the bass echo of hooves trampling the cold hard ground above the waiting seed Let the world hold her breath, I can hear her sweet lullabyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s caress It is the song of the deer, calling across the sleeping grass above the furtive soil Let the world hold her breath, I can see her fires kindle and burn It is the sight of the running deer, bathing in the sunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gathering light Blessed be the breath that we share Blessed be the word on that breath Blessed be the song unleashed by the word on the breath that we share
Persephone Addresses Her Granddaughter You go walking arm in arm in the honey-suckled dusk. It doesn’t matter where. When he offers you a flower neither purple nor blue but darker than the midnight sky is you stupid fool that you are stretch out your hand to receive it. For a moment it rests on the pink palm of your hand seeming to stir like a tiny creature breathing. You dip your nose and mouth to meet it half drunk on its sultry perfume. In that one moment of weakness — you can call it innocence if you want to — in that one second of trifling weakness you are forever lost to yourself.
Abigail Elizabeth Ottley
Bethel It took months to get there, the journey causing my feet to crack like dropped pottery, the sun warping my skin like an old wineskin. I made myself a bed in the dust, used a weathered stone as my pillow, stared at the sky and watched the brilliant blue gradually burn into darkness. Clouds arrived en masse, leaving the sky devoid of its array of stars. I closed my eyes: For a braided string of lights to fall from heaven like a lifeline I waited For the angelic choir of shuffling feet and straining muscles I waited For burning coals to be buried into my eyes and my ears I waited But no word arrived â&#x20AC;&#x201C; only the sharp slice of stone revealed itself to me
Matthew J. Andrews
Seward Park Sunrise The lake appears snow-covered and the mountain presides, my shoulders draped in mist as the sky burns with three shades of morning. At this hour, the forest is deep shadow. Deeper still there's a fortunate place that captures rain. I am suffused here with a powerful sense of being one animal among many. Coyote, eagle, owl, beaver, hawk. At dawn, the park is generous and wild. You can feel this, too, if you come early, and if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re willing to share. Regardless, the red-winged blackbird trills in the wild-blown rushes. Sunset Secretly, it is an island, a sanctuary for swallows skimming bugs off spears of grass, colossal fir and hemlock, lovers alone at last. Late shadows shift, concealing images of consequence just below the surface of the lake. But she reveals them each evening in the swirling peach and lavender waves if you sit quietly enough. If you just watch slowly enough the night ease into its glittering gown, you will see them, all our ancestors, reflected in one sharp eye of the osprey, in ten-thousand stars of the cold and bustling night.
Nocturne My wife is snoring, something later she will refuse to believe. The dog is snoring. Earlier he was dreaming – his twitching legs and muffled barking the tell tale signs. Although they have both left home, my sons, no doubt, are snoring, tucked up in bed with their snoring girlfriends. Tonight the world is snoring except for me. I could count sheep, of course, but sheep need sleep. Or flick through the TV channels, but where’s the fun in that? I’m fine. I’m in the garden, with a glass of Rioja, Dave Brubeck in the corner and all those celestial bodies jiving the night away.
Dawn Chorus In the predawn blackness silence quilts empty streets darkened houses and trees that stand out ever so slightly against the velour of night. Something imperceptible changes and out of this stillness fluid notes of a veery's song resound and repeat, at once sorrowful and joyous, mourning the night's end while heralding the new day. Next the raucous wrens intrude and soon the sky begins to blush as the full avian symphony fills the air with billowing exultation.
La Ferme dans les Arbres We sped past frozen forests. Branches blurred to fields and houses then timber yards and corrugated barns. The engine grumbled as we drove higher. The Czechs and I grew silent. Slopes of rock emerged from mist; the road swung back and forth. We followed AndrĂŠ, his 2CV a dash of powder blue against the grey. We parked, and carried our bags to the farm. Yorck was feeding sheep, so AndrĂŠ took us round to the kitchen, and wished us all the best. We waited, dizzy from the road. With no electric light, we gazed outside at pines that seeped into the snowlit dusk, and all around, the bulk of mountains, their silent presences.
Come With Me (after Thomas Merton) I enter the room, close the door. Notice a faint but pleasant scent, yesterdayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ylang-ylang and lavender. The house is silent. I sit for a while, one hand gently resting on another. This cocooned time is mine yet Other. A breeze plays through the open window, I hear birds singing outside. Rising, I light a small candle carefully placed on the facing pine chest. The tiny flickering flame draws me back to stillness. Precious ones whom I love or once loved, who are gone or absent, sit with me. Moment by moment this is how it is. Lifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s simplicity pleads for the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attention. Shouted or whispered, the message is always the same: Come with me to the palace of nowhere where all the many things are one.
magicae nemorensis, magicae urbis On the edge of the trees you know mortality, the spidersilk of each day waking. The peace you hope will carry through night to morning is not the perfect stillness others promise â&#x20AC;&#x201C; what keeps us turning is the little space between need and offering. Be content to share dinner with midnight foxes who turn up on a moonlit doorstep. Understand how it feels to be prey as well as hunter. We extend outwards as arms of stars, gathering and growing, foraging food as well as knowledge. When I lived in the city, the foxes found secrets while dodging under parked cars. They forged their traditions between bins, feasts of discarded southern fried scraps. In the village their coats are full, mud-streaked, their knowing unearthed in mulch and moss; but concrete conjuring is a power all its own â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the glint in narrowed eyes telling London tales.
Waiting for the Shakuhachi, I Practice with What I Have The tone feels round on shorter bottles, which more closely resemble my shape. Longnecks pitch lower, while the emptied pinot requires more controlled air flow. My grooved fingers fumble in their search for meaning. I know this silence, but that one requires more study. Cool air stumbles in through the trees. Ah, autumn's return.
Robert Okaji (Previously published in The Zen Space)
BIOGRAPHIES Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had over two hundred fifty stories and poems published so far, and six books. Ed works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of six review editors. twitter.com/bottomstripper www.instagram.com/edwardahern1860/ www.facebook.com/EdAhern73/?ref=bookmarks/
Ruth Aylett teaches and researches computing in Edinburgh. She has published widely in magazines and anthologies - including The North, Prole, Interpreter’s House, Agenda, Envoi, Southbank Poetry, Scotoa Extremis and Umbrellas of Edinburgh. Joint author of Handfast (Mother’s Milk 2016), her first single-author pamphlet, Pretty in Pink (4Word), is due out in 2021. For more see http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/writing.html
Matthew J. Andrews is a private investigator based in Modesto, California. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Sojourners, Red Rock Review, The Dewdrop, Jewish Literary Journal, Amethyst Review, Braided Way Magazine, The North American Anglican, and Spirit Fire Review, among others.
Robert Beveridge (he/him) makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Blood and Thunder, Feral, and Grand Little Things, among others.
Paula Bonnell has a poem nominated for the 2020 Pushcart Prize. Poems appear in APR, The Hudson Review, Rattle, Southern Poetry Review, and in Canada, the U.K., India, Australia, and in four collections: Ciardi Prize book Airs & Voices, Message, and two chapbooks: Before the Alphabet and tales retold. Awards for a sestina from the New England Poetry Club, and Albert Goldbarth’s selection of “Eurydice” for a Poet Lore narrative-poetry publication prize. w: paulabonnell.net @paulabonnell1
Tim Bosley is a fledgling poet from North Shropshire. Despite a rather formal education, he has always taken a philosophical and creative approach to life. A postman for twelve years, now retired, he is known in Market Drayton for his long, brightly-coloured dreadlocks and irreverent sense of humour. Poetry is a recent interest. His poems are intensely personal, sometimes bleak, sometimes humorous, and sometimes both, reflecting the emotional complexities of the human condition.
Olivia Brookfield is still enjoying walks in the countryside, notebook and camera to hand, whilst endeavouring to stay active in body and mind, learning to speak French, and being very grateful for a happy retirement. She is finding it easy to write copious descriptions, but less so to edit her ideas meaningfully. She is an 68
active contributor to her village magazine, which is published monthly, and an avid reader with eclectic tastes.
Marian Christie was born in Zimbabwe and travelled widely before moving to her current home in Kent. When not writing or reading poetry, she looks at the stars, puzzles over the laws of physics, listens to birdsong and crochets gifts for her grandchildren. She blogs at www.marianchristiepoetry.net and can be found on Twitter: https://twitter.com/marian_v_o.
Clive Donovan devotes himself full-time to poetry and has published in a wide variety of magazines including The Journal, Agenda, Acumen, Poetry Salzburg Review, Prole, Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Stand. He lives in the creative atmosphere of Totnes in Devon, U.K. often walking along the River Dart for inspiration. He is hoping to entice a publisher to print a first collection.
Pat Edwards is a writer, reviewer and workshop leader. She hosts Verbatim open mic nights and curates Welshpool Poetry Festival. Pat’s debut pamphlet, Only Blood, was published in 2019 by Yaffle Press. Her next, Kissing in the Dark, has just been released from Indigo Dreams.
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.
Kate Garrett is a writer, editor, and mama of five with witchy ways and an obsession with history and folklore. Her work has been widely published online and in print, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Born in rural southern Ohio, Kate moved to the UK in 1999, where she still lives - currently in an off-duty vicarage on the Welsh border.
Stephanie L. Harper is a recently transplanted Oregonian living in Indianapolis, IN. A Pushcart Prize Nominee and 2019 Judge of the AWP Intro Journals Prize in Poetry, Harper is the author of the chapbooks, This Being Done and The Death’sHead’s Testament. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Slippery Elm literary Journal, The High Window (Featured American Poet), Panoply, Isacoustic*, Riggwelter Press, Dust Poetry, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere.
SM Jenkin , Chatham-born, has been published in numerous anthologies and magazines including Anti-Heroin Chic, Blithe Spirit, Boyne Berries, City Without a Head, Confluence magazine, Dissonance Magazine, The Interpreter's House, the Mermaid and Please Hear What I Am Not Saying. Her debut collection Fire in the Head is available from Wordsmithery. 69
Kevin Jones believes in the power of poetry to promote healing and inspire social change. He is Assistant Professor of Social Work at University of Portland (Oregon, USA) conducting research on the therapeutic effects of poetry writing for youth who have experienced trauma. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Juniper, Two if by Sea, The Ekphrastic Review, Ayaskala, Bamboo Hut, Lilliput Review, and more. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
John Kaprielian: a nature photographer and photo editor by occupation, brings a keen eye for natural history to his poems, which often are triggered by his observations. He studied creative writing at Cornell with the poet A.R. Ammons while getting his degree in Russian Linguistics. His work has been published in The Blue Nib, Minute Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, and other journals. He lives in Putnam County, NY, with his wife, teen son, and assorted pets.
Sarah Law lives in London and is a tutor for the Open University and elsewhere. A published poet, she edits the online journal Amethyst Review for new writing engaging with the sacred.
Charles Leggett: a professional actor based in Seattle, WA, USA. His poetry has been published in the US, the UK (As Above So Below Issue 5, Magma Poetry, The London Reader, Firewords Quarterly, The Poet and Creative Writing Ink), Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Nigeria. Recent publications include Ocotillo Review, The Poet, Communicators League, Galway Review, and Heirlock Magazine; work is forthcoming in Volney Road Review, Eunoia Review, and Poetica Publishing's Mizmor Anthology.
Maggie Mackay loves family history which she winds into poems published in print and online. One of her poems is included in the award-winning #MeToo anthology. Others have been nominated for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem with one commended in the Mothersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Milk Writing Prize. Her pamphlet The Heart of the Run is published by Picaroon Poetry. Her full collection A West Coast Psalter comes out early 2021. She is a reviewer for https://www.sphinxreview.co.uk/.
John McCullough's latest collection of poems, Reckless Paper Birds (Penned in the Margins), won the 2020 Hawthornden prize for literature and was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award. He teaches creative writing at the University of Brighton and lives in Hove with his partner and two cats.
Rowan Middleton teaches English and creative writing at the University of Gloucestershire. He has written articles on teaching English and creative writing, and the poetry of Thomas and Alice Oswald. His pamphlet The Stolen Herd is published by Yew Tree Press. 70
Cristina M. R. Norcross is based in Wisconsin (US). She is the author of 8 poetry collections and was the editor of Blue Heron Review (2013-2020). Her latest book is Beauty in the Broken Places (Kelsay Books, 2019). Her works appear in numerous anthologies and journals. She has led community art and poetry projects, workshops, and has also hosted open mic readings. Cristina is the co-founder of Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day. www.cristinanorcross.com
Robert Okaji is a displaced Texan seeking work in Indiana. He once won a goatcatching contest, but has never received a major literary award. The author of five chapbooks, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art, The High Window, Indianapolis Review, Vox Populi and elsewhere.
Abigail Elizabeth Ottley’s poetry and short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies including The Lake, The Atlanta Review, Blue Nib, Fragmented Voices and Gnashing Teeth. In 2019 a selection of her poetry was translated into Romanian for Pro Saeculum and Banchetal. Abigail is a former English teacher with a lifelong interest in history. She is primary carer to her elderly mother.
Jenny Robb worked in Mental Health services, lives in Liverpool and has been writing poetry seriously since retiring. She has poems online and in print in: The Morning Star; Writing at the Beach Hut; Nightingale and Sparrow; An Insubstantial Universe, Anthology (Yaffle Press); As Above So Below; Bloody Amazing, Anthology (Yaffle/Beautiful Dragons Press); Mookychick (forthcoming); Lockdown Anthology, (forthcoming, Poetry Space); Love, (forthcoming, Fragmented Voices Press), and York Spoken Word Anthology, (forthcoming, Stairwell Books).
Ruth Sabath Rosenthal is a New York City poet, well published in the U.S. and, also, internationally. In October 2006, her poem “on yet another birthday” was nominated for a Pushcart prize. Ruth has authored 6 books: Facing Home, Facing Home and beyond, little, but by no means small, Food: Nature vs Nurture, Gone, but Not Easily Forgotten, and Of My Labor. Ruth’s online sites: https://bigapplepoet.com https://poetrybyruthsabathrosenthal.com https://newyorkcitypoet.com
Ian C Smith’s work has been published in Amsterdam Quarterly, Antipodes, BBC Radio 4 Sounds, cordite, The Dalhousie Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Stony Thursday Book, & Two-Thirds North. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island.
Rachel Stanworth lives in North Shropshire and has only recently begun to write poetry. In the past, however, she has published on the relationship between metaphor, spirituality and end of life care with the Oxford University Press (Recognising Spiritual Needs in People Who are Dying). She is trained in art psychotherapy and interested in the interface between creativity and Ignatian spirituality. 71
Mackenzie Stapleton is a writer and poet from Vancouver, Canada. She enjoys reading and writing fictional stories relating to the supernatural and time travel that broach important yet sensitive topics.
Rex Sweeny is a poet living in Leith. He reads his work at spoken word events in Edinburgh including Shore Poets and The Heretics, gets published here and there and organises Leith Festival’s annual poetry night.
Mark Tulin is a retired therapist from Philadelphia who now lives in California. His books are Magical Yogis, Awkward Grace, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories available at Amazon. Mark has been featured in Amethyst Review, Strands Publishers, Fiction on the Web, Terror House Magazine, Trembling with Fear, Life In The Time, Still Point Journal, The Writing Disorder, New Readers Magazine, among others. Mark’s website, Crow On The Wire.
Tricia Waller has recently had work published in Vamp Cat online magazine and Coin Operated online online Zine She has contributed to the Hertfordshire Heritage My Story festival for the second year and has also been a part of the Hug Hertford Theatre Campaign.
Russell Willis (ethicist and online education entrepreneur), emerged as a poet in 2019, beginning with the publication on January 2 of three poems in The Write Launch. Russell grew up in and around Texas, was vocationally scattered throughout the Southwest and Great Plains for many years, and is now settled in Vermont with his wife, Dawn.
Susan Zeni lived in the East Village, Chinatown, and Harlem for five years, Seattle for ten, and recently returned home to Minneapolis. Publications/honors include: a Lucille Medwick Award for a poem with an humanitarian theme, “Black Angel,” in the New York Quarterly; a Seattle Weekly “Portrait of Ralph and Mary” removed from their downtown hotel by the Seattle Art Museum; “Social Distance” in Poetry in the Time of Coronavirus and “Thin Spun Thread” in Windfall.
COVER ART: Jen Hawkins is an Aromatherapist, lover of words and teacher. She lives in the county of Shropshire, where the natural outstanding beauty inspires her and influences her writing. Her poems have been published in Prole magazine, in Diversifly, and more recently in the anthology Bloody Amazing.
EDITOR: Bethany Rivers
was shortlisted for the Overton Poetry Prize and the Snowdrop Poetry Competition in 2019. Off the wall, from Indigo Dreams (2016). the sea refuses no river, from Fly on the Wall Press (2019). Fountain of Creativity: ways to nourish your writing, from Victorina Press, (2019). She has taught creative writing for 14 years and continues to mentor writers. www.writingyourvoice.org.uk