Foreword As above so below, as within so without – everything is interconnected, the microcosm reflects the macrocosm. Welcome to the inaugural issue of As Above So Below. It’s been a great pleasure to work alongside so many wonderful writers including well established ones and brand new emerging ones. Spirituality and transcendence, (topics that are not spoken of very much in everyday life) carry such varied and personal meanings. It’s such a joy to see this anthology being born into the world. Thank you all so much for your valued contributions. Where there are two poems published by a single author, you will find one near the start of the anthology and one near the end, in a true symmetry of formatting, reflecting the name and illustration of this collection. I hope you enjoy reading these beautiful offerings as much as I’ve enjoyed putting this anthology together. The window for submissions for Issue 2 will open on 2nd January, with a view to publishing in time for the equinox on 21st March, 2019. Happy winter solstice everyone! May there always be a light shining for you, especially in your darkest days. Cover design © Hannah Hull, 2018
Poem this thing For longing Waiting for Anna Origin River Stranger and stronger Morning Madhya Rules for Visiting a Cathedral Lighting a Candle in Durham Cathedral Haughmond Abbey Map Home Saturnâ€™s Gift A consummation Tell no-one Evening Mid-winter Mourning Quaker Meeting Tea rooms Presence and Absence. I am Mam Gu sunday with the unitarians Sunrise Swim: Sforonata Inside Out Atelier In the blink of an eye Prayer The first self: daughterhood Vintage Migrant for two days Island of Saints No matter Tangle After driving past Southern Cemetery, Broken egg Cym Bychan How to hold silence In the Garden I Search for You A Daughterâ€™s Vigil Realised Disbelief Tohu Bohu Michaelmas Crocus Mystic Beach 3
Nick Allen Steve Thorp Bert Flitcroft Julia Lock Rhian Davies Susan Taylor Sarah Mnatzaganian Martin White Andrew Rudd Pippa Little Ian Malcolm Parr Rachel McDonald Gill Garrett David Slater David Subacci Richard Biddle Rona Fitzgerald Susan Wood Gordon Yapp Adrian McRobb Jeanne Ellin Russell Allen Ceinwen Haydon Geraint Jones Patrick Lodge Hannah Stone Mike Farren Clara Burghelea Clara Burghelea Clara Burghelea Mike Farren Hannah Stone Patrick Lodge Michelle Diaz Belinda Rimmer Hilary Robinson Sarah Dale Jood Gough Tina Cole Gill McEvoy Victoria Bennett Richard Biddle Paul Waring David Slater Joe Hasler Rosemary McLeish
5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 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
Resting Place Chapel, Northumberland Setting up Ritual from the Dagara People Slow movement Man be my metaphor Five ways of looking at a candle Ascent There is a mystery to life, some say I will write this poem on your skin late night in the universe and Lymm BIOGRAPHIES
Olivia Brookfield Pippa Little Julia McGuiness Martin White Sarah Mnatzaganian Susan Taylor Rhian Davies Julia Lock Bert Flitcroft Steve Thorp Nick Allen
51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62
this thing insubstantial as a mountain solid as mist in Autumn this thing does not flee with the dawn this thing has burned the tongues of a thousand poets and reduced empires to memory it is the leap into the abyss and it is its own soft landing this thing wraps everything up tight this thing is there as I step out each morning into the world and is last seen as sweet night spills it is the breath before diving the kiss before leaving this thing is the catch to our fall the heal to our wound this thing is not God but we had to give some sort of name to describe that which binds us if we would allow it this thing will complete us and afford us hope this thing is you it is we two this thing
Nick Allen (Published in â€˜the necessary lineâ€™ by Half Moon Books)
(After John O’Donohue)
May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling... John O’Donohue …and take stock of the longing that sometimes stalks you and sometimes gives your purpose a body and a word the hope in the provident soul is at one with the hiddenness of everything you really know of yourself and know that this is not yours alone, this lucky spark that guides your way in the dark it is shared in everything and flickers in everyone every human or other than every hill or tree or ocean every song or poem every movement in the grass every hunter, every prey every act of love every shadowed hated ghost.
Waiting for Anna This Moses basket fresh by the bed is waiting, like a promise, like a Truth about to come true. Not for a casting off among the reeds but for a coming home. To open a door, to enter a room, is always to begin again. Already the basket’s empty space, the very air inside it, is sacred. There is nothing more to say. Silence has a voice. Emptiness is eloquent.
Bert Flitcroft (Published in ‘Thought-Apples’ by Offa’s Press)
Origin I am that place upon a stem from where a leaf will shoot, the trough in earth through which, come March, a bloom will push. I am the song that spills at dawn as birds call forth new growth. I am that point upon a page on which your pen first presses, the nub of black on white that shapes your words. I am the source of thought, invisible architect of order. I am the moment of calm before wind starts walking; the last brush of blue before dusk. I am the spark of light that flares on the seeding of life when egg meets sperm. Each night I wait at the edge of darkness for you to open, witness me at last.
River One morning I stumbled upon myself by the river; if I was mourning or celebrating, I canâ€™t be sure; resisting or basking in one downpour or another, desperate to outstretch my arms, desperate to not. I found raindrops weighing down my forehead, turning eyelashes into bluebells. Reassuring or torturing; I felt nothing, I felt everything. When a soft small voice reminded me â€“ life is the only way, life is the only way to feel nothing and everything, to feel tears transform to blossoms, to mourn and celebrate to watch the river.
Stranger and Stronger I am sailing in a boat of light on an ocean as deep as the sky. Shapes are the shape of air around me, drifting as cloud form and formlessness. Breathing, I forget how I breathe, floating as water vapour in heat. What I am becomes nothing to do with anything I predict or perfect. I try to be green, to be as summer leaves with vines of simmering seeds, aware of the movement a moment takes to drop not an anchor but a sail unrolling on forward waves, wing-shaped and beating in time with my heart.
Morning I had a Gretel moment back there until I spotted yellow poplar leaves spattering the path and knew I had seen them before, surprised by their bright circles against the mud on my way through fine rain early this late-August morning. Nearly home, a congregation of trees stand at the head of the valley. They have no book; they are here to breathe, drink light and listen. From time to time, a motherly dove or a dark rook speaks. Wind sends quiet applause through the leaves of oak and ash and the sun bowls light straight down the valley. I would give this morning to those I do not even love, whom I have never met, who are not yet born.
Sarah Mnatzaganian (Previously published in The North, Poems in the Waiting Room, Write to be Counted, & Cammag)
(Inspired by the poem ‘Kintsugi’ by Rebecca Perry)
There is a Sanskrit word to describe the moment before a foot touches the ground, the pause between the lightning flash and the thunder’s roll, the silence as the baton falls still and hands start to clap, an instant fusing two images of Japanese verse, the space between one thought and another, that gap when the world catches its breath and knows itself.
Rules for Visiting a Cathedral Please remember to leave your anxieties in the rack provided: light a candle. Listen to the organ even if it isn’t playing. Make room for something unexpected to speak. Find a seat and sit for a while. The people who came before are here beside you. If you are very quiet you might even hear angels playing their instruments up there on the ceiling. Let your eyes walk through a glass garden – all of these colours are born from one light. Taste the silence. Many varieties are available – take a sip of each one. Take it with you when you go.
Andrew Rudd (Exhibited in Manchester Cathedral, June 2018)
Lighting a Candle in Durham Cathedral Not a prayer but I raise the spill to this wick anyway, having drawn away first a lick of someone elseâ€™s grief: they are generous, these sisters and brothers. The narrow tip spits into life, shoogly first but then asserting shape and length it steadies, settles to a pulsing breath, looks back at me we breathe together. What work it takes, this draw of tallow to a dancing yes of life which all the time I could kill with one sigh. Not a singling-out of one loss among so many but the adding of my word to these indomitable tongues for however long we last.
Haughmond Abbey Where arches curve ghosts pass through sunbeams their promises lie unfulfilled amid sinful ruins. Always come when bees and butterflies let in by the sky while grass holds on longing for your feet. When all else is vacant tell the cloisters your troubles eat the refectoryâ€™s penance confessed to you alone. Eight centuries stone on stone rose and fell. Listen! crows tell this truth as monks passed, passing, glide in sunshine through round arches sandaled toes in holy grass.
Ian Malcolm Parr
Map Home the stories we tell hang between the stars coated in quiet and dirt fallen to splinters like there is no other way to see without eyes only the Soul understands the silky feeling that leaves our names exploding outwards when we feel impossibly soft in our hearts there are many things we hear of in stories (clever crows, lost children, enchanted woods) but we never hear of Soul: are we afraid to write near it? so we fill and then become hollow grief leaning into our chests like old men crowding fire the birds murmur this nightly tend the Soul, the magic in this world of burning blue stroking the sky with their song their feathers made of worn stone embers crack as everything is rearranged shadows thrashing in places skinned, tamed and sewn-up we canâ€™t all talk back to the dark all the ways it is unbuckling change happens in fragments cracking, shattering and rumbling the way planets drag their bodies across the sky inside you these pages are like bones not like flowers the wild is losing her pelt her dreams a restless prayer come out of the shadows be the shape of a thousand bonfires burning on the horizon the story does not begin with a light or end with things in-between it ends with you re-drawing the lines of your life, the maps of a life you could carry the possibility of Home
Rachel McDonald 16
(Saturn, the bringer of Old Age – Holst, The Planet Suite)
She takes scissors to the tags, the labels that defined her, she sheds their girdle like an outgrown skin, spills out into the sun unlaced, ignores the warning signs, crashes headlong through the barriers. She knows she’s got the measure of it now shakes loose long, silvered hair, cradles her slack belly, celebrates the heft of her hips, her womb’s redundancy.
A consummation The longing for love never leaves us. We retain and need the capacity for reinvention as we grow older. But with age comes the realisation of limitation â€“ and if we are lucky, the realisation that we do not need more.
Tell No-one 'I believe in miracles' Lowering her voice to a whisper, Looking around nervously, Anxious to avoid ridicule. 'You mean like Lazarus Rising from the dead?' 'No, nothing like that' Then with a shudder 'When I was a girl in Italy, My leg had been bent For weeks after a fall, I couldn't walk properly, My mother took me Into the mountains To bathe in a holy well And my leg straightened' 'Did you tell anyone?' 'Only my brother the priest' 'What did he say?' He said 'Tell no-one'.
Evening At the riverâ€™s muddied margin against leather-brown silt, something glows, petal-white. A forager, gathering ghost light, I tiptoe like a wader, toward the shine. Mottled butterfly wings, thinner than psalms on bible pages. I bow down in reverence. They are muted, sheer as eyelids. Tenderly, as a philatelist handling their rarest possession, I lift and place them within my notebook bindings, press their fading into blankness, then turn watch the waterâ€™s benevolent violence gradually bruise violet.
Mid-winter Christmas week in a Dublin clinic shrivelled leaves scrunch under tentative feet Silent Night is playing. Over the years ancient potions, herbals fertility rites, melodious prayers inviting miracles from Brigid. Motherâ€™s faith in the sacred heart becomes unbearable. Light is ebbing, tests are done
I can go home.
A consultantâ€™s calm nod, steady eyes, tells all. Walking in tender rain drops brimming tears of light on austere branches. Dusk enfolds me winter takes hold.
Mourning The trees are in deep-freeze All is still as distant sounds recede. Colours merge to shades of monochromeSoft greys and blue-hued greens. The air freezes in the huff of my breathIn my heart there is deep unease. Stay awhile here beside me Tender hands warming my icy face. Seeing single footprints imprinted As your shadow slips through numbed trees. Dripping hoar-frost mists this ancient wood, Frozen water drops from glacial leaves.
Quaker Meeting Our silence focuses the mind, leaving it open to be occupied by thoughts at a deeper level. In our collective silence we often discover that we are all thinking along the same lines and often about the same topic. Could this be the power of the holy spirit working within us? Nothing and everything is being said in the silence.
Tea rooms The tea room invited me across Kayll road with its promise of comfort and cheap food The time slip occurred as I walked through the door taking me back to 1962, with that tinkling bell I sat and stirred my tea in the near empty rooms, crowded with the other ghosts invisibly sipping Even the prices seemed older in this brief encounter The spirit of long dead romance lingered with the stains A badly worn plastic table-cloth spoke of Woodbines and Oxtail soup Type written menu trapped in Perspex kept the time machine firmly anchored in the past, as condensation rains down tears of yesterdayâ€™s windows
Presence and Absence. September night breathes visible white. House clenches. One high window lit. Within narrow walls reaching inwards. Looming ceiling heavy tarry beams keep floor safe hold off walls. Floor boards groan, grooved by endless measuring feet. Back and turn, step by step mark time as clock and calendar donâ€™t. Waterâ€™s slow stone drip might be proper measure here. Cushioned by grey from nowhere that might be what? Heel toe, heel toe, again, again. No-one looks speaks or listens. In constricting space, within dimness nothing changes, something stretches. Not walls, nor floor. Rises or perhaps descends. Moon gazes down, shines down, is drawn down. Room invested with presence that no room could ever hold. Though no door opens the pacer is no longer alone. Looks up into endless dark. High under low ceiling. Tallness crowned with blinding silver face. Eyes strain up impossibly far up. Sphere blazing. Too cold for humanity. Inside narrow walls breath releases, window blacken. House emerges into day empty of presence. Echoes remain. Charred dust, smoke, shadows. Boards un-paced. In silence wood still weeps.
I am I cannot remember myself in one thing I am the all thing I get an inkling whilst I am in a being I am not collected together I am flowing apart my gaps wider I know myself vaguely all around me is me in parts, in pieces dust in constellations universes in atoms I know who I am but I canâ€™t say for my voice is shared amongst trillions I am all in separation but all is me I am everywhere and everything I am not lost for there is nowhere else but me.
*Mam Gu your eye-light dims milky cataracts
lurk in the fog
of your winter brain
your new country has a map without a legend the sparse signs for
or ruined Iron Age Fort after
you only have one chart bleached by sun and rinsed to faded pastels and it is
no use to you now
you are lost and I am too Iâ€™ll have to find my own way
we share some laughter (for no obvious reason) to bind us together one last time in the drink of love
Ceinwen Haydon *Mam Gu â€“ Welsh for grandmother (pronounced Mam Gi)
into the future
sunday with the unitarians a woman broke into a dance down the aisle and love cracked open its yolk sticky as the tears adhering to my eyes she twirled in her own world yet it was an offering like your smile we sang side by side your voice floating over the hand-holding and hugging mine cracking and crashing through it later over omelettes our charged talk fused grew beyond the sum of its parts before the miscarriage of our parting flowed unseen
Sunrise Swim: Sforonata At dawn the pool is bereft, its surface, a mirror, reflecting endless air leaking into space; a balsam breeze through the olive trees - heavy with the spoor of honey-pot herb fields stretching away to the black-pine Mount Aenos is all that disturbs its core. The sun rises through cypress stands, fingers of shade reaching for the poolside but I’m leading the measure, quickly into a metronomic swim, swinging arms keeping the beat until… time stops; three swifts, in line next to me, drop to scoop a beak of water. I’m caught mid-stroke, crooked arm high in the air, head tilted to catch a breath, to catch the lead bird’s sip. An extraordinary, consecrated moment that I nag for insight. Until it dawns on me that if a camera froze that image of pool, swimmer, bird, distilled that perfect instant to a chrism, I would have it as an anointing worthy for this final crossing.
(For the Sisters at the Carmel in Thicket, North Yorkshire)
In my weakness, then am I strong you chant, seven voices yoked together as you sing the words of the daily office. You breathe as one, suspending praise in the chapel. To this doubter, visiting your house of faith, you show how enclosure does not exclude, but embraces, just as the clear night sky holds the moon and sketched stars in its depths, as the damp morning wraps round birdsong, or the field flooded by the river yields fresh grazing to displaced ducks and geese. The old wall encloses new views, and this modern Carmel presents joy, with no constraint. Your boundaries do not rebuff those who approach up the winding driveway; they simply mark where, in this world of mud and stone, your prayers are at home, the psalms sung fresh each generation, transcending time and place. At the entrance, I dip the tip of my finger into the pool of water, and my heart sings: share in my weakness, dear Sisters, for I embrace your strength.
“Cézanne is the father of us all” – attributed to Pablo Picasso or Henri Matisse God lived for you in the surfaces of things, in the flat roundness of the apple or the skull, in the mystery of matter, in the dimensions solidity hints at, in the light from the north, in the grey wash of the walls, in the grain of unvarnished floorboards, in the idea and the actuality of a chair, in the bulk of the holy mountain, rising proud from the plain, leading our eye concurrently to heaven and to earth.
In the blink of an eye Outside the window, the bird's orange beak catches my eye, April's breath still learning to unfurl. I am done waiting for the nimble gait of spring. My bones crack with yearning for green. The bird is calm, has learnt to live in halves, one eye on the sun swollen like a bruise, the other throbbing with flight. Is it the pain of the tired wing, the grief of last year's love or the memory of the new geographies keeping the body trapped in plain sight? When a car passes down the street, the bird quivers, I blink and take a sip of my cold coffee. A reckoning of losses.
Prayer Make room for fresh thoughts, such as guilt is a hairpin to be undone. Look into the things you love, rarely the right ones. Give yourself room to err. Unfurl your winter bones and jump some rope, sweet blood resurges. Call your dead mother, tell her she is a poem. Then call god a thief and a wrecker. Waiting is hunger, its roots curling into the flesh. Tune your ear to its fire.
The first self: daughterhood When the MGM lion roars, memory blisters. The body snaps like a zipper stuck on its slide. Inside the little communist theater, a motherâ€™s hand is taffy love. Blueprinting is one way of the flesh, a warming of the face when fingers know its music. The aliveness of summer unfit to fill the pocket of longing across the world, as I am walking under the Brooklyn Bridge.
Vintage After the vintage, after leaving the living vine, rooted in the ancient soil of this place, and this place alone, after feeling the frostâ€™s sudden slap, after gulping the rains of spring, after absorbing the energy of the young and of the mature sun, after the harvest, the work begins: the labour of decay, the slow process of unbecoming.
Migrant for two days
(from a notice on a door in the Chapel of Thicket Priory)
“Swallows nesting on the back of this door: Do NOT open except in case of fire!” Evolution compels these birds to soar while earthly women’s hearts only aspire to rise heav’nwards; this chapel makes a nest for birds and two-legged transients alike, I’m a migrant for two days, seeking rest (the measured silence gives me wings to fly). Being but human, without retreat I’d burn: a year’s too long to wait for the next dose of solitude and timelessness. We learn by frequent flight, by habit, to stay close: dear Sisters, keep that door ajar for me – you chose enclosure so as to be free.
Island of Saints
(Ynys Enlli, aka Bardsey Island) We bounce across on sunlight slivers from Porth Meudwy to Ynys Enlli, flying over shoals and rips, tide-racing like arrows homing to a martyr’s side. On this island of pilgrims, every step taken is to hear underfoot the crunch of saints’ bones; to lie outstretched on grass is to be measured up for eternity. They’ve been in that business here for ever. Peel the stratified mélange of sanctities, it’s neolithic cremation ash at the base, binding the mortar of all foundations. Celt, Catholic, Pagan - all found themselves here, became solitaries, wrestled with hermeneutics, walked and prayed over God’s square mile, bent low, the wind laying everything easterly. Impossible not to be altered even in a few hours. Everyone sloughs off something - leaves it laid down like sedimentary rock – a deposit of eremitic faith for all who follow to feed on. Homeward on the bright twin-engined sarcophagus, all seem lightened. Yet some have pocketed shells and all will carry ballast from this island, something of the spirit, something for the journey.
No Matter Rest here in the curve of an unborn thought, on the bridge of an unrealised dream. Relax into a bosom of cloud, the breath of a thunderclap. Even in the relentless beat of a child’s defiant spoon, or a baby’s shrill crescendo. For once you have fallen out into a world reborn, seen eyes as stars, thoughts as maybes, words as freeing tools, then you know – feelings take their shape, thoughts take their shape, but the deeper we go, the more we see the dream-screen. Who we thought we were retracts, something fresh extends into unknowing, swallows the quiet blue, learns how to swim.
Tangle My father's old donkey jacket, cement dusted, jaggy edged. I can still picture him in it, collar turned up against the cold, off to the pub for a few pints and a game of darts. As a child, I'd hide inside that jacket, breathe in the smell of cigar. On me, the jacket is still ten sizes too big. I plunge my hands into its pockets, imagine my father's hands pushing up through the lining. Our tangle of fingers and thumbs.
Belinda Rimmer (First published by Picaroon Poetry)
After driving past Southern Cemetery, Chorlton Don’t lie me down in a headstone grid, some bored tourist on Rimini beach. Pack the day with all we’ve been — locked in the Gare du Nord, stranded on that Rajasthan highway, or first-date shy, saying goodnight. Toss me into the sky, high. Shake me over a sunny meadow or into the cool of an autumn wood. Whirl me into the wind and watch me dance. If it’s winter, hurl me down a snowy slope –sledge me fast and reckless, release the mittened child in me.
Broken egg On a sudden dry day
after long rain
green air glows under spring trees so much green
a lightning strike of blue a shard of sky
fallen spoiled paradise
perhaps a blackbird
but now shell empty cups the silent space.
Cym Bychan Travelling east to west from the Borders to the coast we leave cars at the place of the dog walk up a bracken-gold valley crumbling Victorian winding gear our silent companions. Legs of iron stalking tall up the track; silence and birdsong. I turn back to see craggy coast, sparkling waters, and in that moment I am in ancient times again. Standing high up here I fly the centuries and the miles â€“ and grasp the country Iâ€™ve belonged to since Britons first inhabited these lands, a wild free people stalking tall over the hills; silence and birdsong.
How to Hold Silence First let the fan of your fingers open, feel the breath expand until face muscles loosen and silence settles like a quilt with goose feather lining. With eyes closed mark the mass of people passing, you could not know their story even if you looked them in the face and said hello, you would not understand the wet sand weight of the things they are carrying. The spectacular effort it takes to masquerade, to wrestle down fear. Oh, the loneliness of that. Gather thoughts in your hands. as city traffic whistles by, geese rush the air. Hold silence, you will hear a sigh, rain on dry earth.
In the Garden I Search for You (For my mother) Silence, then faint as the ghost swift moths that dip and rise, rise and dip over the evening primrose bed, quick and small as the sparrow searching the pea-pods, insignificant mignonette flooding the air with sudden scent and instantly youâ€™re there.
A Daughter’s Vigil After it all, three small breaths — so quiet, I almost missed your leaving. I watch you travel upwards, weightless, turning cartwheels — why did no-one tell me death felt like this — an unbearable joy? You leap from star to star and then, you are gone — the quiet of the dark; feint night-singing.
Realised Iâ€™m talking about a time when I became dumb. Signed away my voice for ten days; a contract that sealed my lips and, in turn, handed me over to the whims of an introspective ventriloquist. Voiceless, I stepped through the airlock into unknown volumes, an astronaut given to space. Or a deep-sea diver, my head, a bathysphere dropping through depths, into the monstrous electrics of coloured darkness. In this unfamiliar territory, thoughts were whispering gangs, conspiring. Memories, mercurial silverfish vanishing as I opened doors. Words, shells of themselves. Then one solitary night, captured and captivated by this terrifying silence, while gazing at constellations of glow-worms, I found myself, slowly beginning to dissolve.
Disbelief He saw an aura in red and green, said with assurance you’re psychic as I followed along a narrow hall into a sparse room; clock-free, aged oak air, dust suspended in avenues of afternoon sun seeking rest on surface, curtain and carpet. I went at my sister’s behest, against my will, mind clammed-shut. We faced across a centre stage table separated by full deck – tarot card cargo stacked, colour lens tuned, ready to unload focus, reveal pastpresent-and-future. It was still April. A sudden chill, ice-shock hands to numb spine as I observed his call-and-response trance. Another message he was told to tell – this time delivered in eye-widening detail he couldn’t possibly have known.
Tohu Bohu* If you are filled with the love of God, every budding tree, every river in spate will tell you more about God. But how can you be sure that it is God and not your love? It is we, not he, or even she, who think, reflect, shape, and restate.
David Slater *(Hebrew for the formless waste prior to creation)
Michaelmas Crocus Were they blooming At the top tip Of the steeping rise? No. Not daisies. A sure surprise. No daisies, Of instant noise, Swaying, loud, And waves exuberantly. Just little crocuses; All hugging Close to earth In bold humility.
Mystic Beach We emerge from the rainforest onto a deserted beach. A double waterfall cascades over the lip of a sandstone scarp. We wend our way around and over salt-bleached logs, floated down from the clearcut up north. Buoys which could be whales and buoys which could be seals distract us from a family of otters playing fearlessly around a rock by the tideline. A drift of mist turns the mountain view across the straits into a Chinese painting. In the west, where the mountains open out to the sea, the sun slants its beams low over the horizon. We are alone on a deserted beach, five of us, all in our varying states of loss and loneliness. I remember the first time I came to this coast, longing for a soul-mate to share it. With the unseen whales and seals, the barely noticed seagulls flying by on their wave of salt-water chat, this empty landscape is as crowded today as a First Nationsâ€™ print of ancestral faces in waves and clouds. They are all here, the ex-wives, the darling who died, brothers elsewhere, brothers dead; the family we met in the car park, their left-behind pueblo shrines; our companions from other times. This ancient seascape holds us all.
Resting Place One thousand years is time enough, and more, for ivy to creep where brambles twist and ramble, clinging to ancient walls, whose stones were raised by unknown hands: rest is here, peaceful isolation. Silence hangs suspended, thick as a veil, pierced only by the pheasant's crow, or humming low of cattle. Indifferent to the fractal iridescence of strutting peacocks on the grass, those that keep this hallowed ground sleep on, untouched by spit of rain, or blaze of sun: gone to dust, but living still in someone's memory: their weathered gravestones, leaning slightly in the earth, like bookmarks for mortality.
Chapel, Northumberland Dusk and a full moon risen. Candles rinsed by daylight dim now, infused with older knowing And the clock heart swells, steady, clear drops, source-water upon stone. Over the dome curve October wind huffs and puffs to come in. Mother of this place pray for all souls travelling, foot-weary, coming in from the far hills to your floors sleek-skinned as a lake, walls milk-white yet the old dark lapping deeper, and luminous in the doorway the soul already sent, chrysalis scrolling on unseen thread.
Setting up I have pitched this tent for you, knowing your aversion to air-conditioning, crowds, clock-faces, computers. On this open field I have hammered, laboured till hands are sore, guy-ropes tight, canvas taut. I have equipped it with your preferred simplicity: memories stacked as fuel in a corner; sleeping bag quilted with dreams, There is water, a deep cup, food-stuffs, stove and one pan for ingredients. I have studied your preferred habitat, how you loiter in leaves of trees, books, curl through currents under ocean or sky. My door-flaps are wide to starlight, wind-drifts though I know you may not enter that way. Iâ€™m ready to receive you at any time, aware you do not make appointments though may well visit at dawn or twilight. My oil-diffuser sets the atmosphere. I have a shawl to wrap your wisdom. They think I waste my time out here, ignoring the indoorsâ€™ list of chores, I wait, prime lamps, pen ready, have even put on my soft shoes, on the off-chance of a dance.
Ritual from the Dagara People As darkness falls, all come and gather round the blazing pyre to the insistent beat of djembe drum and ancient song, calling spirits of ancestors and Earth. On the limestone ledge by the Celtic sea, all day long they prepare for this ritual, a village home, shrine and fire, a path that leads to a scatter of shallow graves. Azima wo hey azima wo hey His time arrives to leave the fire lit home, walk the dark path to the burial ground, into blackness, met by shadowy figures, shown the open pit where he must lie. He feels the heavy weight of wet black peat enveloping his cold naked skin. His mind then slips away into a dark abyss, a hard oblivion outside of time. Azima wo hey azima wo hey After this measureless void he becomes aware, of chanting far away, primeval forest sounds, wild grunts of rutting boars, he feels drawn through a long dark tunnel back to glimpses of other times, past lives, ancient battles, conflict, blood and war he finds himself talking to an empty dark, random ideas tumbling out. And then Azima wo hey azima wo hey his eyes open wide to a starlit sky tracing the pattern of stars above, a true mirror of and oneness with the grain of limestone far below.
(i.m. Jamie Gardiner 1994-2017)
If you loved me, paint the air with music. Let the notes fall on your face like winter sun. Allow your body to be plucked fingered, bowed and your heart to be kneaded and stretched by warm hands. Open your throat as if to sing but put words away. Listen with me to what I loved and then, when the colours fall like petals into silence, hold the peace as if it were my hand.
Sarah Mnatzaganian (First published in London Grip)
Man be my metaphor She's a skinny girl with softly surrendered hands, pink petal skin, trim finger nails a ballet-pumps-skinny-jeans-new-wedding-band romantic with two tattoos; one delivered on each upturned wrist. Where blood pumps blue through the main streets of her arteries, indigo needled into her tenderness, in Times New Roman, reads Man be my metaphor She says, It's the last line of a poem. I'm not sure lines of poetry can be directly translated.
Susan Taylor (Inspired by a portrait on Humans of New York website)
Five Ways of Looking at a Candle I So it seems Iâ€™ve survived another year; just extra wax to melt onto my cake. II My mind clears, I am still, the flame flickers, we become one, and the Buddha watches. III Shadows twitch across the wall as thunder cracks; thank god fire is immune to power cuts. IV Symbolism canâ€™t cure grief, but while the flame dances I remember your smile. V Between us, a candle is propped up in a wine bottle, but the only thing that lights up the room is you.
Ascent When the curl of silver in the distance is the lake, flashing like a ring on her finger, when the dog-barks and cockcrows, the bell-clangs and childâ€™s cry all carry the notes of her voice, when the flag beats in the wind and I sit in the pencil shadow of its pole, open and breathless from the climb, only then does she invite me to slough off my skin, slide into her own. Up here bees harvest thistle flowers, butterflies blown like petals in the breeze graze wild hibiscus, probe her bright stars. She lets me drink deep, mend my fragmented selves. As I descend the curve of her breast to join the day, I am wrapped in the gift of her cradling.
There is a mystery to life, some say I do not need philosophers or priests to tell me so, for I have climbed and rambled where the walkers go: Cat Bells, Skiddaw, the Dales, the Chase, Red Pike, the grit-stone face of Froggatt Edge. With every climb there is a sense of leaving behind. Not of the grieving kind, for it touches something natural in man to be outdoors and seeking higher ground, to open the gate that leaves the road behind. Rather, it is a finding, a reminding of the grandeur of green and open space, and cloud-cottoned heights that touch steep skies, where the larks and the lapwings weave you into the natural scheme of things. And always there is a looking down. To see a lane meandering along the valley floor, the tiny sheepdog in his yard, the farmhouse you can blot out with your thumb, is to come to see yourself, to know and to enjoy your littleness. I smile when I remember a certain rock to perch on, a spot beneath a tree, a view where, by standing still, we begin to own it and are a part of it. And I think of climbing such a hill or treading such a path, not as a going but a kind of coming home, a threshold crossed, a knowing that such a place, once owned, cannot be lost.
Bert Flitcroft (Published in ‘Thought-Apples’ by Offa’s Press)
I will write this poem on your skin I will write this poem on your smooth skin and in that way will speak to you Then speak to me and tell me what you grieve for tell me your slow and ancient longing is this your voice, or mine? Hold me, speak slowly so I can hear I notice you and so notice everything My friend meditates in your shadow, I shelter in your smooth certainty as the wind whispers I am changed, I am in your place. I came to see you and to hear your song I breathe in, breathe out and enter the conversation and even as I rest here my animal quickness flickers across your slow tree time. Notice me. Do you notice me? Is this your voice or mine. Do you remember? Will you remember me? If your memory holds me, tell them I was here; that I was changed by you.
late night in the universe and Lymm stepping out into the garden of the so-called smallest hours we have danced and we have drunk until now heat rises from our shoulders as if we are being delivered clouds roll back and the great eye of the universe blinks open showing all the unfathomable chaos at its most enormous the firmament reflects the multitude at our stocking feet and we step through the frost quickening on grass crackling from Orion through Taurus to Ursa Minor leaving the paw-warmed path of our elliptic orbit padded from the door to the tree circled by its own abandoned fruit an autumnal galaxy with a derelict sun and scattered decrepit satellites busy at the business of decay to the shaky old fence we lean against as we tip heads back staring starwards staring at our feet that we can scarcely feel alongside us the seventeen-year-old almost woman carrying nothing but the easy joy of youth nothing but future in her eyes we could set to sea on all that promise it is not gravity that drives the churning universe or holds planets in line but love nothing less
Nick Allen (Published in â€˜the necessary lineâ€™ by Half Moon Books)
Nick Allen has recently twice been runner-up in poetry competitions based in Ireland: the Bangor Literary Journal and the Hungry Hill Writers International competition, and was highly commended in the OWF Otley ‘wild’ competition. His first pamphlet, the necessary line, was published by Half Moon Books in October 2017. Steve Thorp is published by Raw Mixture Publishing: Blue Marble, Soul Meditations (2016) and Soul Manifestos and Pieces of Joy (2014) – a collection of short poetic essays. He is author of several poetry pamphlets, currently available in new digital editions, and also edits Unpsychology Magazine. He was recently poet in residence at Oriel y Parc in St Davids, working with the theme of "poetry as transformation". Bert Flitcroft was Staffordshire Poet Laureate 2015-17 during which time he curated ‘The Staffordshire Poetry Collection’, which is now available on-line. He was Poet in Residence at The Southwell Poetry Festival (2015), The Wedgwood Museum in Stoke-on-Trent (2016), at The Brampton Museum in Newcastle under Lyme (2017). His collections include: ThoughtApples from Offa’s Press and Singing Puccini at the Kitchen Sink from Fineleaf. Julia Lock lives in Budapest, Hungary and hails from London. Previously a student of online creative writing courses at the Writers’ Centre, Norwich (now the National Writing Centre) and the Oxford University Continuing Education Department, her work has previously been published in Ink Sweat and Tears. She is working towards her first poetry collection. Rhian Davies lives in Newtown in Mid-Wales and enjoys Celtic folklore, old bookshops, language, and day-dreaming about adopting rescue dogs. Her favourite poets are Mary Oliver and e e cummings Susan Taylor is a life-long poet, with seven collections and a number of pamphlets, as well as work in both anthologies and magazines. Her recent publications are – Temporal Bones, from Oversteps Books and a new pamphlet from Indigo Dreams; The Weather House, cowritten, and also performed as a show, with Simon Williams. Originally a farmer in the Lincolnshire Wolds, Susan enjoys exploring the landscape, with a mind towards its ecology and human history. 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 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. Martin White, after a working life as architect, town planner and professional actor, has in later years been developing his writing skills. Much of his writing is concerned with an exploration of his family roots, and is influenced by his meditation practice. He is a founding member of the Shrewsbury writing group, ‘In the Loop’, and the Green Wood Haiku group. Andrew Rudd lives in Frodsham, Cheshire. His poems have been widely published, and in 2006 he was the Poet Laureate of Cheshire. His collections are, 'One Cloud Away from the Sky' and ‘Nowhere Else but Here’. He has taught poetry at Manchester Metropolitan
University, where his interest in poetry and spirituality led to a PhD on that subject in 2011. He is currently poet in residence at Manchester Cathedral. Pippa Little is Scots and now lives in Northumberland with husband, sons and dog. Overwintering came out in 2012 from Carcanet and Twist in 2017 from Arc. She is working on her third collection and is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newcastle University. Ian Malcolm Parr was born in Bolton Lancashire and educated in Manchester. He worked as an engineer in the Chemical Industry but always writing songs, poems, plays, anything that sought to understand the world he found. His Mother who read and recited poems to him from babyhood and songs his Father sang, maybe wrote some, were early influences augmented later by English Folk Song. 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. Gill Garrett has written nursing and health care textbooks, but in retirement has won local and national awards for her poetry, short stories and creative non-fiction. Two of her plays for voices have been broadcast on local radio. She has been invited to read her work at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, performs with the Cheltenham Poetry Festival Players, hosts “The Writer’s Room” for NHSound and blogs at www.gillgarrett.blogspot.com David Slater leads a monthly poetry group at the Lit & Phil Library in Newcastle upon Tyne. He has an MA in Creative Writing from Northumbria University, and has been published in a number of magazines. He is a trustee of several charities, and worked in the public sector. He lives in Whitley Bay. David Subacchi lives in Wales where he was born of Italian roots. He studied at the University of Liverpool and has four published poetry collections in English and one in Welsh. He has also begun to write in Italian. His poetry has also appeared in many anthologies and on numerous poetry web sites internationally. He is a 2018 ‘Best of the Net Award’ nominee. https://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/davidsubacchi Richard Biddle teaches Creative Writing at Chichester College. His poetry has been published online and in the journals Urthona, Brittle Star and Dream Catcher. It has also appeared in several anthologies. In 2013, his poem ‘Transparency’ won The Big Blake Project’s William Blake Poetry Prize. Rona Fitzgerald has poems in UK, Scottish, Irish and US publications in print and online. From Dublin, she lives in Glasgow. 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 include, The Passage Between, Issue 1 Spring 2018. Poems for Grenfell Tower, Onslaught Press 2018, and #Me Too, Fair Acre Press, 2018. Susan Wood born in Bristol, later moved to the Midlands to become a student. Having a passion for writing, and an interest in poetry for most of her life, the natural world and human interface has been a source of fascination and inspiration for many poems, in addition to the
genuine love of one human being for another. She is a member of the Lichfield Poets, who offer a genuine source of support and inspiration. Gordon Yapp, Printmaker, writer and illustrator - senior member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. A maker of 'Artists-books' on water and bird themes and has designed and illustrated 15 pamphlets for other poets. Illustrations and poems in two publications by Fair Acre Press. Also has had several short pieces published in The Friend Magazine. Adrian McRobb has been writing for 30 years. He is a performance poet who attends open mics (where ever they’ll have him), mostly in Morpeth and Newcastle. He is published in various publications, newspapers, magazines. He is a past holder of the Lowford Trophy and also a founder member of Cramlington Writers Group. Jeanne Ellin is a woman of seventy one with multiple heritages. Happy to have discovered that creativity does not diminish with age or disability. Published in various anthologies and a collection with Peepal Tree Press, Who asks the Caterpillar. Also published a counselling text book Listening Helpfully from Souvenir Press. Currently working on a series of fantasy novellas. Russell Allen is a keen, insightful and prolific writer of poetry and thought pieces. However, objective reality would suggest evidence to the contrary. He performs at spoken word events irregularly enough for people to half remember him. He has come second in two spoken events and has been published once before. He has been described as the poet laureate of the vicissitudinal writer; by nobody at all. But he’s working on it, probably. Ceinwen Haydon lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. She graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in 2017. She believes everyone's voice counts. Geraint Jones lives in the Welsh borders with one - and sometimes two - dogs, having returned to his native land after more than 30 years in Birmingham and London. While he has written poetry sporadically for much of his life, the last three years in Wales have proved the most prolific. He enjoys the rich cultural life of the Marches and especially the riches of its landscape. Dr Patrick Lodge lives in Yorkshire and is from an Irish/Welsh heritage. His work has been published, anthologised and translated in several countries. Patrick has been successful in several international poetry competitions including the 2015 Blackwater International Poetry Competition and the 2018 Gregory O’Donoghue International Competition. Two collections, An Anniversary of Flight, and Shenanigans were published by Valley Press in 2013 and 2016. His third collection is scheduled for publication in 2019. Hannah Stone has published two collections: Lodestone (Stairwell Books, 2016); Missing Miles (Indigo Dreams, 2017). Her work is frequently found online, in print journals and anthologies. She convenes the poets/composers forum for Leeds Lieder, and helps host Wordspace, a spoken word event in Horsforth. She recently collaborated with a composer to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day, which premiered in October 2018 (see Penthos.uk). Spiritually, she sees herself as a post-Christian, sensitive to the numinous. 64
Mike Farren is an academic publishing editor from Shipley. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals and anthologies, including The Interpreter's House, The High Window, Strix and Valley Press's Anthology of Yorkshire Poetry. His pamphlet, ‘Pierrot and his mother’ was published by Templar in 2017 and in 2018 he was a ‘canto’ winner for Poem of the North. He publishes under the Ings Poetry imprint and co-hosts the Rhubarb open mic in Shipley. Clara Burghelea is a recipient of the 2018 Robert Muroff Poetry Award. She is Editor at Large of Village of Crickets and got her MFA in Creative Writing from Adelphi University. Her poems, fiction and translations have been published in Full of Crow Press, Ambit Magazine, HeadStuff, Waxwing and elsewhere. Michelle Diaz has written poetry since the late 90s. She started performing in 1998 at Covent Garden’s Poetry Café. She’s been published by ‘Under the Radar’, ‘Strix’ and several online and print publications. She won 1st prize in the Christabel Hopesmith Competition 2018. Her debut pamphlet ‘The Dancing Boy’ is due out in 2019 with ‘Against the Grain’ Press. She lives in the colourful town of Glastonbury. Without poetry her soul would be incredibly hungry. Belinda Rimmer has worked as a psychiatric nurse, lecturer and creative arts practitioner. Her poems are published in magazines, on-line journals and anthologies. In 2017, she won the Poetry in Motion Competition to turn her poem into a film, since shown internationally. This April, she supported Gill McEvoy at Cheltenham Poetry Festival. In October she gained second place in the Ambit Poetry Competition. A pamphlet is forthcoming with Indigo Dreams. Hilary Robinson lives in Saddleworth and is a retired primary school teacher. She has an MA in poetry from MMU where the highlight of the course was reading alongside Carol Ann Duffy and Liz Lochhead at the Royal Exchange Theatre. Hilary is about to launch a set of 12 poems in the first DragonSpawn joint publication, ‘Some Mothers Do…’ Sarah Dale comes from London and currently lives in Lichfield, Staffordshire. She’s interested in a wide range of subjects, including history, art and science. She has four adult children and works in a museum. She tries to make her writing as concise as possible and enjoys local poetry groups and workshops. Jood Gough was born and lives again in Shropshire. She’s a visual artist – paints, makes prints (usually etchings) and occasional 3D installations. She’s been writing poetry for about two and a half years. Having lived quite an academic life, she’s now a fan of the really real world: the ground under her feet, the skies over her head, and all the fish, fowl and other creatures that exist in and between these two. Tina Cole was commended in the Poetry Space Competition and won third prize in Writing Armistice, organised by the Army Medical Corps. Recent work has featured in Nine Muses, The Poetry Café and a collection in association with Walsall Art Gallery. Other poems in magazines and journals such as, (Mslexia, Aesthetica & Decanto) and one in The Guardian newspaper. She is a member of the group www.borderpoets.org, and organiser of the children’s poetry competition – poetryintenbury.org
Gill McEvoy lives in Devon. She is a Hawthornden Fellow and was the 2015 winner of the Michael Marks award for her pamphlet "The First Telling" (Happenstance Press, 2014) Victoria Bennett is the Founder of the Wild Women Poets and Press (1999). Her poetry has appeared in print, online and even in Minecraft. Winner of the Northern Promise Award and Andrew Waterhouse Award for Poetry, and The Mother’s Milk Writing Award 2017, she has published 4 pamphlets and performed across the UK, from Glastonbury Festival to a Franciscan Convent. She lives in Cumbria and a is home educating Wild Mama to her son, Django. Paul Waring is a retired clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and was a singer/songwriter in Liverpool bands. A 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee, Paul has had poems published in Prole, The High Window, Atrium, Algebra of Owls, Amaryllis, Clear Poetry, Strix, Marble Poetry, Lampeter Review and others. https://waringwords.wordpress.com Joe Hasler is 73 years old and is proud to have a wife, children, and grandchildren too. He moved from outer estate ministry to the Welsh Valleys when he retired. Having been a ‘townie’ all his life he now has to make several rural adjustments. He feels as if he is carrying much he has learned from the urban poor to be among the rural poor. Rosemary McLeish lives in Kent with her husband and two cats now and has become quite active on the poetry scene after not writing or reading poetry for some years. She is an artist as well as a writer of poetry and she always tries to include poems in exhibitions she is in. She wants to encourage people to read poetry and to share her love of it. She is 72 and trying to make up for lost time! Olivia Brookfield is retired and reads prolifically. Her taste in poets is eclectic, from Shakespeare to Housman; Keats to Carol Ann Duffy. She likes to travel with a notebook, aims to be fluent in French, plays the piano badly, but with enjoyment, and now has time to make jam, cook good meals and eat, - a lot! Her love of the countryside is only surpassed by her love for her family and young grandson. Julia D McGuinness lives in Cheshire. She writes, counsels and runs writing workshops. She belongs to Lapidus International, the network of writing for well-being practitioners. Her poems have appeared online at Ink, Sweat and Tears, Clear Poetry, Nutshells and Nuggets, Silver Birch Press among others, commended in poetry competitions with Poetry Space and Wirral Festival of Firsts, and in her collection, Chester City Walls (Poetry Space 2015). Find her at www.creativeconnectionscheshire.co.uk. Bethany Rivers – editor of As Above So Below. Off the wall – published by Indigo Dreams (2016). The sea refuses no river – to be published by Fly on the wall in June 2019. Tell it slant: a writer’s guide – to be published in March 2019 by Victorina Press. Life-long lover of poetry, teaching, and seeing people’s creativity flourish! www.writingyourvoice.org.uk
A poetry magazine of spiritual poetry.