Three Drops from a Cauldron Samhain 2018
Edited by Kate Garrett Writing selected by Kate Garrett with Loma Sylvana Jones, Amy Kinsman, Holly Magill, Grant Tarbard, and Claire Walker Poems, stories, and art copyright © 2018 Individual authors and artists Issue copyright © 2018 Kate Garrett
Cover image is ‘Halloween at the Abbey’ by Claire Loader Image copyright © 2018 Claire Loader
Three Drops from a Cauldron Samhain / 30th October 2018 Saw Ain, Lamb Bleat
The Pictish Book of the Dead
An t-seanais / the whisper
The Long Flight Home
And Then Enoch Left To Walk With God
The Vampire in Autumn
Screams in Stone
Water of Fire
The Owl and The Rose
Misty Dawn ~ Glastonbury Abbey
In the witch’s pantry
Eyes on Palms
Raven Feather Spell
Ready for Samhain
Through the Haar
Halloween at the Abbey
The Standing Stone
A Harvest for Ghosts
A Good Recipe
The Lost Puca
All Souls in Italy
Soldier Ghosts #1
Soldier Ghosts #2
The Ballad of Asmodeus
The Sounds Of Infinity
Never Slam a Door
Previous Publication Credits
Saw Ain, Lamb Bleat There is a veil that hangs from rings of mythos. It thins (efface and dilate) and then thickens (pucker tight) again once the passengers have made it through. But blood will open it like steel rods inserted one by one and the right blood (so the myth goes) once split it nose to navel, (all the glory of) what gnaws from beyond the grave spilt out from behind it. The flood swallowed an entire generation, and left the (rust) aftertaste of corpse maggots on the tongues of all this (sandgrain, skystar) world of worlds.
Mari Deweese 8
Hallowed Night On this New Yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Eve I make ready for visitors, wash the linen tablecloth, light candles inside carved pumpkins, set a basket of green apples from the gnarled tree that stands in front of the house. Thick creamy milk from Chase Hill jerseys is poured into mugs, wedges of homemade bread slathered with butter, Hot tea, minty and black, a measure of whiskey for dad. This night, a gathering. I wait with anticipation under orange streaked sky. It's almost time, almost ready. Wait for the air to stir. Welcome the old ones this Hallowed Eve Old spirit James Ball (1731), the sidhe and nature spirits, ancestors who travel through rivers of blood, and others who follow the stars tonight to join this gathering much like a renewal of vows
Her Wedding She wanted a Celtic wedding. She made invitations, picked flowers from her garden, hung them to dry; the date and place printed onto recycled paper, delivered as scrolls entwined in hand-made ribbon and dried flowers. Writing her blessing, she drew inspiration from the elements, a circle of family and friends enfolded a spiral centrepiece, with candles for elemental fire. Each guest lit and placed them onto the floor, those for deceased or absent kin positioned centre – the sphere grew outwards. Clay from her garden became a symbol of earth, her nephew played the flute to represent wind, and she went to an old pagan well to draw water. They wrote and exchanged their own vows; each guest gave a blessing, recited a reading, or read a poem. Others sang songs or played music -folk, seanós, and modern. Their children played piano, danced into the night, and afterwards described it as ‘our wedding.’ It was Halloween; she had picked autumn flowers for the tables, lavender, hydrangea and willow, lovingly placed them in pottery vases. She wore an ivory dress that day, slim and sensual, twisted her hair high, at the back, crowned by flowers, strands fell to the front, and with light in her eyes everything felt perfect. Witch-like she moved through the floor, invoking good spells in this her moment. She had told her friend she was uncertain if it was forever – this was to honour what was. The priest sitting in the circle gave his blessing. After, they read from the pamphlet, the commitment they wrote together, intending to respect each other’s need. Finally, before the dancing commenced, they lit the unity candle, she read her poem, and for some crazy reason – they quenched the light. Later, when he left, she went to the attic, took the unity candle from the box where her heirlooms were kept, lit it once more, this time she watched it burn.
Womanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Work Instead of making hand-warmers, scarves, booties for babies, while they bitched in Polish and Punjabi about their mothers, sisters, aunties. She knitted tiny body parts in caramel cashmere, sewed them up, stuffed them well, stitched on wool, for hair. She mixed glass into the kapok, before she fastened up the seams, placed a curse into the little head, to weave nightmares into dreams. She sewed on eyes of black glass beads, silk lips in cherry red, into one ear, she spat her name, remember me, she said. She took her motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heirloom pins, long and slim and sharp, drove them hard into the body, destinations on a map. Remembered, then, her agony, what had brought about each bruise, every insult, slap and put-down, on her memory, tattooed. Somewhere, across a continent, a life was halted with the pain. She took her scissors, ripped the stitches, pulled them out. Started again.
Gill Lambert 11
Bucolic Confession : I fell asleep by the fire last night It was cold and now my socks have small craters burnt into the toes. Confession: I did not feed the goat before I shut the barn door and went inside to read. Confession: I often prod you to see if you are still stiff with cold. When the temperature shifts I worry that your skin will slough off. Confession: I don’t bother with the walk to town most weeks instead I eat the pickled onions and drink warm water in which I've dropped egg whites. Confession: I cross my fingers as the whites cloud in my glass and wish for your child to leap into my womb. Confession: The egg whites always reveal our barrenness. Confession: I baked the following items into a cake: the left lens from your spectacles, a molar that I can’t remember if it fell from your mouth or mine, your wedding band, a quail’s egg, apple seeds. Confession: The cake was large but I ate every last bit. I swallowed the egg whole. Confession: After the wake I peeled an apple in one long strip and threw it over my shoulder. When I turned to see the initial of the man I would marry next, the peel was gone.
Confession: I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t throw it over my shoulder. I tucked it under your head. I broke one of the church windows and held a shard of glass under your nose to see if there was any breath left in you. There was not.
Erin Emily Ann Vance
Tina M Edwards
The Witch I was buried face down so I wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t return black earth pushed into my mouth and used my tongue as a blanket worms slept in the crease of my eyelids and the maze of my ears knotweed roots bound my arms chunks of my skin were carried off by beetles moles clawed at my muscles a badger burrowed into my stomach rabbits gnawed on my bones and my heart the only soft remaining part grew upwards through my spine and became a rosebush all thorn and no bloom
The Pictish Book of the Dead Then you meet the bird-headed men two of them as red as the stones of home. They bar your way beaktip to beaktip and something stabbed between. Exchanging gifts? Dividing up some spoil? You canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t tell: they have no expression known to you. And as for what that morsel is at the ends of their long tapered bills itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s scuffed and worn as the stones of home but you think you know it. Heart. Human. Your own.
An t-seanais / the whisper Is mo dhuin' as fhad' a-mach an dàimh mo dhuin' as fhaisg' an dàimh gu dearbh, nuair a tha damh-féidh droma air astar dlùth-dhàimh, gu leòr mar a chluinn e am fathann saighd' ann an cluais aige, teannachadh an cian bàis nas dhlùth fiù 's dathan fighte ri chéile, taobh ri taobh, a h-aon leth ri an té eile, anns an dreas' as ghaolach air an gruagach àlainn agamsa anns mo ghàirdeanan airson bu cheart cho math leam a thog mo gràbhailt's màilleach as a chaidir ann an dlùth-ghabhail mhór an t-saoghal, an cruinne-cé gu léir air los gum innseadh mi am meud mo ghaol tro falt dorcha coltach ri a' sgàil-roinn na h-oidhche, air a dhealaich ann an seanais air Oidhche Shamhna seo, an t-snàthad d' an t-suil a bhith a h-uile bliadhna seachad throimhpe air a' chrìoch ùine an t-suil leis an do ghabh am Foghar cuimse air an cridhe Samhraidh le craobhan lom a dhuilleach a' fhleist a saighead.
My most distant relative is indeed my next of kin when the wild stag on the distant ridge is close enough to hear me whisper in its ear the rumour of an arrow, collapsing the remoteness of death, closer even than colours woven together side by side one right next to the other, in a much-loved dress my beautiful long haired maiden wears in my arms, for I would find it so right to take off my helmet and chain mail, and take in a great close embrace the whole world round, the entire earth, so that I could tell her the size of my love, whispered through a parting in her dark hair, like night's dark partition, this All Hallowsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Eve, the needle whose eye all years pass through at the end of time, the eye with which Autumn takes aim at the heart of Summer with trees stripped of leaves to fletch his arrow.
The Long Flight Home What do birds dream of? Maybe rocky places high above clouds, or silver threads the cleave to the earth. Their bones are full of light, wheeling, sky held, or perching, on a silent crag, waiting for movement, ebbing upwards to the precipitate air. Death is only ever a moment away, a spinning of fibres poised to release, an energy thrumming, where buzzards call you back to the wild skies, and herons wait to fly you home on brittle wings. The rocks know the songs that trees hold, like breeze-driven harps, brimming up through fluid increments, deeper, wise, dreaming, brewing, until you are still and strong as a bone woman, stepping out from the crag, listening for offering songs. Sweet wine on the earth, a gently lowered casket, tear in a copper vessel held high to the moon, and blessed to say, go well, go well, go well.
Safe Peel back skin, count rib bones And nerve endings. Melt the metal edge Of your boundaries. You are here; Ignore the winter and the Wolves. Take off your fingernails, elbows Kneecaps, teeth. I am here. No one else can See. Let me care for you, watch Over you. Fill my hands with what pains You; they are soft and ready. File off your calluses. Breathe. You are Hurting. Hurt Freely. Take stock and ask For what you need, be it water, a Bed or a hundred stitches. You fear The howling but it can carry for miles. The door is boarded, the shutters Sealed. Bleed So you may heal. Unpick your muscle fibres. Reknit them. I want to see and Touch and you smell sweet/salt/ Bitter. I need to taste. I take bile and Phlegm. Lick fat. Tear sinew. Thank you For sharing.
And Then Enoch Left To Walk With God There are some pieces of art Which do not exist in A vacuum. Since I was a child I heard rumors About the Angel of Music But learned it was just a ploy To help men fuck whoever They want on their days off. Sometimes a man in a porn Film seems so sad, He seems to really want Who he’s filming with But everyone knows that A film is only Art. Something changed when I was seventeen. I began to feel October differently. Summer was just here like the God who is only Somewhere else. A man sits in a theater, Playing his saxophone while Boris Karloff plays Ardeth Bay chanting, “Ankh-es-en-Amon,” Into the Cairo night. There are ten years between Ardeth Bay’s resurrection In 1922 and the events 22
Of the first Mummy film, Ten years of his eyes watching Enoch, who left to walk with God Leaving Jack Kerouac crying While his Monster’s Bride screamed at the sight Of his Jazzed-out-stitched-back-together-liver. Together they visited Golgotha, Humming a melody From Don Juan Triumphant, A gothic recasting of the Virgin And St. John, Two people who can say They reflect, “I Am who I Am.” They sat and drank, remembering How Enkidu once played the same Melodies on an organ, a performance Described as, “Long since Past ephemeral,” By some unknown witch as she Sat out at night, starring In thought towards the Lighthouse And out towards the strange Blue and green ocean.
The Vampire in Autumn I love the autumn for its decay— all that ripe fruit ready to be sucked. So soft it’s past its best. Plums fall from their stones like parting lovers, open a gash in their sides like a mouth when they plosh onto the wet grass. Autumn strawberries are clots of blood fallen from year’s fatal wound. Leaves assume redness and curl up to die. Autumn rains make lawns juicy, a tender bed for me to lie on, loving the seductive smell of loam, squashy underfoot, earth’s sweet yielding decay.
Bone Mother Bone-broth a rolling simmer on her black iron stove. It is said the witch loves children (boiled, braised or fried), that it is not wise to enter her forest without a guide. There are those who seek her out, of course; the desperate, power-crazed, mad. Stupid boys who fail to listen to their mothers, nannas, sisters, wives. Set their heads above their hearts. Of course she doesn’t eat them all, every child who doesn’t know that brave is just another word for stupid. Most she chases off, with deft manoeuvres in her mortar, menacing her pestle like a club. But persistent ones, eh, into the pot they go. Their bones boiled clean and used for scrying, planted as a border for her hovel’s scratching ground. Eye-sockets gilded and candles fixed where loose tongues once wagged, to light a path for future visitors. A fence of bones, and heads on spikes. A door too high to knock upon. Perhaps a cunning woman will approach, take in the scene. She will come prepared, know which word to speak to bring the hut to kneel. Address the witch as Babushka - dare to question. Perhaps she will be asked to stay for supper, be served the thickened soup with black bread and brown beer. Perhaps they will talk as they eat, perhaps not. Cunning women know not to overstay their welcome. She will thank the Baba Yaga for her kindness, take her leave; her belly full of wisdom, knowledge, truth. Or perhaps, by the condensed remains of lives, fertilized. It is said the witch loves children, that it is not wise to enter her forest without a guide.
Charley Reay 25
No Contest Kit turned quickly on hearing a crash and found the pumpkin staring at him. It was wearing the face he’d just carved, but the expression was somewhat altered, and it was not alone. It seemed every pumpkin in the patch had arrived at his door. “How in the Devil’s name...” ‘in the devil’s name...’ echoed back. The door of his Last-a-Lifetime Shed had been ripped off its hinges. Kit automatically reached for one of his tools from the bench behind him. Instead of the sturdy wooden handle, his hand touched something wet and grainy. He shuddered. Looking down he saw his hand covered in the cold innards and seeds, the open womb of a pumpkin, but it smelled like blood. Hastily he wiped his hand on his apron. Gathering in lurid sunset light he saw pumpkin faces. He recognised every single one, faces he’d carved, going back years. Competition after competition won. This shed was his trophy house for countless certificates and rosettes, Best Fiery Face, five Bronze and Silver Pumpkin Medallions, The Golden Grin Award and the prestigious Old Glow. What at first was a hobby, had become an obsession, the obsession an addiction and the addiction, a curse. He had to win and he’d sacrifice anything. He’d put his very soul into growing the best, and attaining the top prize. He tolerated no rivals. “Remember me?” The voice, mellow and dark, somehow familiar, chilled him, transfixed him. He turned. “Jim?” It couldn’t be. “Hello, Kit. I see you’ve not changed a bit.” Kit squinted to focus in the diminishing light of late afternoon. It was indeed his former friend and one time arch rival Jim – only his head was a pumpkin, the very same pumpkin Kit had stolen, the award winning Golden Grin, now crowned with a halo of grim light. 26
“Did I make a good mulch, Kit?” The pumpkin eyes scanned the trophies. God knows how many Kit had cheated him out of before the confrontation that final, fateful Hallows’ Eve. “Looks like you did fairly well out of your bargain with Beelzebub. Hope it was worth it.” It was dark now except for glinting eyes that flickered all around. Jim turned and in declamatory tone addressed the lights. “Pumpkindred,” he said “Members of the Patch, behold our tormentor! Kit Karver.” A clamour of voices chorused, high and low, remonstrating, hissing, jeering. And Kit realised, in that moment, where his tools had gone. They were in the hands of those he’d fed, cared for, nurtured, killed and mutilated over decades. Medium saws, fine tooth saws, razor-edged scoops, small, medium and large carving loops for peeling rind, double sided sculpting tools, pokers, wheels and sharp, heavy duty drills, hole and circle punchers. Kit was a professional. He knew their use too well. “In the Devil’s name, Kit?” Kit opened his mouth but found his voice would make no sound but a high squeak. “Very well, pumpkins, let’s to work!” His vocal chords were the first thing they cut.
Oonah V Joslin
Screams in Stone
The Labyrinth Gathered under storm sky, wrapped in rainbowed wool, a random tapestry of dowsers, dreamers, believers, bearing souped pumpkin and cauldrons of mulled wine. Moon obscured on Samhain Eve, labyrinth lit by jarred candles, still flickering despite the stubbornly falling rain, precisely laid grass spiral blurred in mired wake. Determined seekers, reluctant to forgo ritual, in human chain snaked along sodden path, dripping heads dropping like berries on wet brambles. Eyes fixed on red boots ahead gingerly placed in puddled stride, each step braced against fall, question sanity, smile inside, how crazed were we this Hallows Eve, meditating on squelched mud. Slipping, drudging, cold boring bones, wet to shivered skin, amusement fled to impatience, Labyrinth never ending, until one by one, reached circleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s centre, face to fire.
Warmed by flames, fed by scribbled lists of yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s regrets, watch sparked flare as wishes float high in Samhain sky, while bedraggled fellowship celebrate with blood wine.
Rejuvenation Spell You may only need to travel as far as the nearest churchyard to find a yew tree, as they are long-term residents of many cemeteries. Little grows under the dark evergreen, with its needle-like leaves and brown, scaly bark. But beware, every part of the tree is poisonous, apart from the flesh of its berries and even these encase a deadly seed. scythe moon we die as we begin to live If you dig beneath the tree’s canopy, not too far from the trunk, you will hit the root system. Use your fingers to clear away earth from the net of tough, membranous tendrils. You will soon find them, trapped in this web, the roots grown through their eyes so they cannot see back to the land of the living. The dead have fed the yew. In time, the centre of the trunk will decay and a new tree will sprout from within the hollow. silvered in the moon’s eclipse* this new dawn
*First two lines from the witches in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth 31
Water of Fire October comes and the Queen of Clubs turns up on your doorstep. Your husband says he spotted the King hanging round but didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t invite him in. You bite your lip. The salamander under his side of the bed has already turned full circle. Lilith is waiting. You share a brew bask in her glow snack on sunflower seeds and talk of courage passion power
while your cat (black of course) purrs around her feet.
The Owl and The Rose You come from a family revered and despised, it’s said, in equal measure— history etched in myth, legend and folklore. We hear tales of prophecy, wisdom, witchcraft, healing potions like the one made from burned ash of your eggs to improve eyesight. And how you came to use peripheral vision to master business in dark spaces; killers’ eyes with magic inner light, a gift for not giving away intent. Forced to be nocturnal— a punishment, according to Odo of Cheriton, metered out by other birds for plundering prize beauty of the rose.
Brimstone Sitting in a dark wood, spring-time, with a single lamp to bring them out. Bats and owls, alert as wings teem from cocoons, hear each and every split. The moths stretch out one leg, two legs till six emerge, they pump fluids to bloat sulphur wings, dunked in tea dregs, spread their saw-toothed antennae to hunt, launch into moonlight with one last shrug. Deadcat bodies skim the orchard in want, they feast on fool’s nectar, tongue-tubes dripping with apple blossoms’ scent. Insects crawl over shoulders and lobes, tangle their dusty scales into hair, fairy by comparison to human limbs. The lamp’s half circle smells of fear as brimstones flit between night blooms, ghostly in this otherwise darkest hour.
All Fall In the wake of summerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s anger, Fall, calmest of the brothers, clothed in brown, would put the world to sleep, in the time of fruits, of plucking, all flowers fall, shall rise again, corn and grain, leaf and grape, in the shearing and the sheaves, Persephone fades from Demeter, becomes the yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dark half, eve of all the saints, all saints, all souls, feast of apples and the dead.
Misty Dawn ~ Glastonbury Abbey
Tina M Edwards
Wendy Schmidt 38
Baba Yaga Well she gets a year older Every time sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s asked a question So we asked her what she asked for When she was much younger and she told us "only answers" She's wall eyed in the way That only those who swallow foundations Cement and ceilings can be She doesn't cry But her sleep dust is cemented into laughter lines Her pestle and mortar carries the morning Carries the cure She gives the gift of misgiving And strides chicken legged, heart hell and home All from the safety of trapped lonely in her bed She would never have left her reflection behind But where she casts a shadow Eager actors clamour for the part Begging for the limelight That only lightâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s absence can grant Her flyaway hair Came back to her after a summers migration And never let her forget the time She once tried to tame it with cobwebs It falls out with her more often than she pulls it out Only for it to grow again, stubborn in tangles of Gordian knots Her directions due north and that last turning Misplaced Pepper spiced, wounds salted slightly Her seasons are winter, sage and distaste Each bitter berry of evergreen holly And mistletoe kisses, slew from her mouth 39
Like curse words that she serves up just so She holds seances, down by the seashore The souls that she sells have been drowned I'm sure Said she’s going to buy an orphanage if she ever let enough mothers come to term Says she’s gonna chew up the bones of those Who've come to terms with grieving Says she'll grind them into bricks for yet more broken homes Her sour milk teeth filings curdle in an iron mouth Her smile is not rusted by miscarriages But polished bright to inappropriate times Her smile is not the end but is the beginning of A string of bad luck that’s got you twisted tangled tortuously tied into too many bad plans She's not found you yet but she's still searching And she'll find you soon, be sure of that
In the witch’s pantry Exquisite elderberry it said. It wasn’t. Enchanting saucepan it said. It didn’t. But the kitten-dragon did what it said on the tin. It purred fire.
Sarah L Dixon
Late Blight A whey-faced moon rose last night. The shadow it cast across the orchard survived the dawn and marks the beginning of the annual harvest. In the gap between the apple trees to the east and the corn fields to the west, she wakes. Sun caresses her back. Gnarled fingers close around a handful of soil. Within her fist it crumbles, not quite moist enough to stain her calloused hands. Once she preferred gloves, now she craves skin to earth contact. For decades she amended this soil. Egg shells, leaves, fermented grape skins, and bones. Grasping the handle of her broom, she struggles to her feet. Joints creak, the forced rest a burden. Pumpkins twine in every direction, weaving through monkshood, foxglove and wormwood. Vines scurry along the collapsing timbers that once formed planters, burrow under an ancient split-rail fence and drape across the hydrangea on the other side. They creep up the stone wall, balance along the top and tumble beneath tall cornstalks on the other side. Amber trumpets herald the birth of winter squash. They are doomed latecomers, their siblings already plump and ready to carve. She thinks to lift an orange beauty off the ground onto a timber. More sun, less risk of rot. Her grasping hands fail to connect and she’s distracted by the orchard. Her long skirts seek to brush the path where she traverses the garden. Again this year, the apples got away from her. She folds her apron into a trug, a cradle for the fallen fruit. Pecked and wormy, they’re good for applesauce. Preserves for the lean winter months. The sun dims. A cloud or her aging sight? A dog, small and dark, barks, and circles. “Shoo,” she scolds. “Can’t you see I’m busy? No time for play.” Stupid animal. She’s surprised she keeps it around. Farm dogs need to earn their keep and otherwise stay out of the way. Morning glory winds through the garden. It binds and chokes. She reaches for it. Her aching hands come away empty. 42
The weight of the years in her bones. Deep breath. She bends, presses palms to earth and pushes the pain back into the soil. Lips curved into a scythe of a smile. There is much to do. Reward follows hard work. She plunges arms into yielding earth, grasps thick, fleshy bindweed roots and yanks. The narrow white tubes cringe and resist. She wraps them around wrist and forearm. Soon her arms are thick and heavy with roots. She shakes with cold. It never used to be this hard. Did it? Her eyelids droop. The high-pitched barking continues. Pressure builds in her head. She pivots to face the animal, lifts her arms and gestures sharply in its direction. “Be gone,” she shouts. Shriveled plant debris rains over its curly black coat. A high-pitched whine. The beast flees. The pressure in her head eases. Hands on hips she turns north toward the blueberry field, a blur of distant red. It’s been autumn for a long time. Beyond the stone wall, headstones in the family plot sag and dip. She tilts her head right and rubs her eyes. Far above an enormous bird passes, trailing white smoke. She staggers back a step, steadies herself with the broom and steps toward the stone wall. Icy wind swirls around her. A flock of crows flap and descend into the gap. They perch on laden apple branches, the wall, and the timbers. One balances atop a ghost-white pumpkin, its claws curled around the stem. The birds are silent. All cock their heads left. Their obsidian eyes glitter. She glares, and reaches for her broom. The largest crow ruffles its feathers and shrieks. The sound reverberates, skips along her bones and pools in her heart. They’ve come to steal her garden. Her howl undulates. As one, the birds snap their beaks and hop forward. 43
She searches for the dog, thinks to call its name, but can’t remember it. Brandishing the broom with two hands, she backs away from the birds. They waddle after her. Sunflowers edge her garden, glowing in shades of maroon, yellow and cream. Seed heads bend the stalks, nodding in the wind. I planted them for you, she thinks at the crows, not daring to speak lest they snatch her breath in their wicked beaks, suck it in and fly away. She’d never find her way back. Her hip bumps a rusted gate. She stumbles, clutches at the rail to steady herself. It burns. Whispers swirl around her feet, calling. Mother. Grandmother. She opens her mouth to greet them, invite them into her garden. Bring a shawl. It’s chilly in the autumn air. The voices are tiny. Her children. The broom falls. Tendrils of memory squirm in. She sinks to the earth. A taint coats the inside of her nostrils. Sweet and rotten it drips down the back of her throat. Wrinkled hands covering her face, she gags. Please, no. Her family won’t survive without the harvest. Black slime oozes between her fingers and drips onto the ground. It slithers and bubbles and spreads through the garden. The harvest blackens, shrivels and dies. The crows gather in the dripping skeleton of an apple tree. Silent, wings spread, rocking. The children’s voices grow louder. They beg and cry for food.
Frost coats the dark remains of her garden. The blood moon rises. Her time is done for another year. She wails for the children, but their voices fade. Without the harvest they are gone. Again. Long nails curl out from shrunken fingers and score the earth as she sinks back to oblivion for another year.
Eyes on Palms A pair of hands speak, they do not wave. Cool white porcelain has painted lifelines that cast spells on petrified bees. Here is a stark humâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; one by one flight is calcified. They are not alone. Unlatching the circle the pattern is unpicked. Stitches fly far from the hive. On these hands are two embroidered eyes. Vacantly they search for a beeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heart. Fingers stretch like branches towards light. These bees, poised for doing, are imprisoned, with gold dust on each limb. All my fingers, all my thumbs, are clay.
Roshanak for mein kleiner geist i wear wings woven of butterflies / eros / of birds / they bring me flowers in their mouths / aros / travel the river jordan to the dead sea / hard with salt / tears / sidpa bardo / i used to lock myself in my room / rock and pray for canaan / is what was promised / ate the keys of chalybeate springs from spa / davidic covenant / a tree with spear branches / slays the smoke / thorn and brambles / electrocuted hair / emerald green / i lie on the surgical table / she said you have a shadow / in the shape of a cornflower / goddess of the grotto / she blew the wind of a panpipe down my back / and i writhed like a snake / my life is a vehicle / holy and a holly hut / aodh / the ten virgins / it didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t matter that half forgot the oil / for she who is stuck and buried / earth tombs / in a brook / pishon then hiddekel / arrowing and the cutting of the sky / finally ishidoro / japanese lantern made of stone / abaissement du niveau mental / iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m on a bridge without handrails / silent steps from satirical stars / mute / wide mouths in the ground like volcanoes / white / bread-ash / and the cool aftermath of nirvana /
Grandmother Dreams Do not forget old silver-head, a paper white woman in a soft red bed. Do not forget the owl in your eye, or the moths that seep from your mouth as you sigh, Do not forget the tall pine trees, who whisper their stories and sing with the bees, Do not forget the reindeer tracks, print inside print to show the way back to the hearthside, mapped along a red thread, the coming, the present, those already dead. Be girl seed, moon mother, bleached white stone, spinner, wise one, then singing bone.
Raven Feather Spell
Ready for Samhain Loveday and I are ready. It is three years since Joel passed, and I have been a widow for too long. Surely this year he will come. In the months after his passing, Loveday fed me like I was her child, not her mother. Our roles were reversed, and she was my strength. She brushed my hair and carried water to my room, bathed me and sang to me. Throughout that first winter she tended me, and when Beltane came she finally roused me with her dancing and flowers. I was restless all through that first summer. I worked beside her as she planted the crops and watered the land. I showed her how to feed them and harvest them, and how to sing to the moon when it rose full over the mountains. She grew from a girl into a young woman, but as the equinox approached, I knew she wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t ready. At harvest time I showed her how to weave corn stalks into figurines to celebrate the blessings of the year. They portrayed a mother and daughter, hand in hand, and I hung them from the door to invite their blessings on us. Joel didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t come at Samhain. I was sad but relieved; I needed longer with the girl. That winter we planned our work for the following months, and at Beltane we celebrated the spring. As the long days of the summer spread out before us, I watched her blossom into womanhood, and at Samhain my corn dollies showed two women under a spreading apple tree. I wove my prayers for Lovedayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s future into them. Our larders were full and we fed well. Loveday had learned how to trade at the market to provide us with flour and salt pork to last us through the lean months. She led me into the frosty fields to sing to the moon, and we watched shooting stars light the crisp winter night. As Beltane arrived this year, I watched her weave a garland of apple and cherry blossom into a crown. She joined the other young women in the village to dance a rainbow of coloured ribbons around the maypole, and I saw the young men watching her. In June she walked 51
across the field, hand in hand with Farmer Carling’s oldest son. They watched the moon rise together. This Samhain she will be ready. We have turnips and swedes in abundance, and every morning I send her to water the pumpkin field. The new fruits are bursting over the land, covering the earth with orange globes. Joel will admire his daughter’s efforts when he comes. Loveday is impatient. “Will he be proud of me?” she asks. I pat her hand to reassure her. She is still so young, but at last she is ready for him to come. When the harvest is in, we will make the corn dollies together. The corn lovers, hand in hand, will hang on the door. We will carve the fattest pumpkins to light the way to the door, and a candle in a jar will hang from the porch. While she sleeps, I will weave a lover’s knot from the corn and place it beneath my pillow. This will be the year that Joel visits, and she will be ready to let me go.
Awake Did you hear that? I say to no one there and wonder what in this place would need to settle; Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m waiting another week to turn on the heating. I freeze, still and silent enough to hear my hair grow and know it is not lost heat, feeling its way through dark pipes: this could be more than a house knocking lonely back.
Halloween My face: fat, uncertain, without the cheeky grin of our wedding pics, in the front-room mirror its ironic golden frame against a background of disordered furnishings, you there too, sitting behind me, reading your Dylan bio, his music playing: the good stuff and the later bad, though you told me even then he’d still some great songs give-or-take the mess of ‘born-again’. And that was then. Last night I found a small sharp knife pulled it through white flesh round and round in spiral, apple end-to-end. Shut my eyes, threw the peel behind me, to form your initial. Looked in the mirror. Nobody there.
Passing Over Last March, your soul, slid away, passed through veils, beyond my world. You were lost to me all spring, and summer too, but soon for moments, that will change. Remember, in November mists descend and bonfire-smoke streams human eyes. In love, in faith, in blindness, I will ride, tack up my grey Welsh mare to follow you. I will see your smile, hear your songs again when Samhain breaks the hold imposed by solid things. Bless sacred times, between times, when then and now might chime together, free me from abandonment, relieve the grief of my internment, held imprisoned in the present.
Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon
Through the Haar
Halloween at the Abbey
The Standing Stone I saw you standing there, a sight, a silhouette that gleamed as barrow-wight concealed, that thief of mortal souls, had seemed to see me standing there. And tall, you stood before me there with that off-the-shoulder, lunar glow, off cut, off cast, a queer stone’s throw, your cloak of gloaming’s shades was pulled around you there. The old ones cut you there, I see where they incised a line of Ogham script and standing still, not prone, you’re very much alone and solitary here. No! both of us are here, and moving, you appear, when I approach with hand outstretched to touch, quite motionless, how strange to feel you, standing here. Long ages now cast out and here I am to witness comb and crescent shapes, and Z-rod deeply etched, where Northern Lights beyond Dunecht, recall I paid a visit here.
Ian Colville 58
Calaveras I heard them dancing long before I saw them what a merry clattering since they had no shoes nor much clothing which you do not need when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a skeleton occasional scarf some had hats an apron all were brightly coloured which is a good idea when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re bony white have you seen such shiny teeth ever in your life cakes and wine and music too which one played from a harp two danced surrounded by the others of course I was not seen all they had was empty orbits black inside their skulls which gave the game away as I could see straight through them no singing as you might expect but syncopated chattering of teeth and joints in complex time which I found hard to count there was a risk I thought to ask to join the party but there was a sort of invitation perhaps permission I think I heard
in your own time you as well yes you can come and join the dance Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sure thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what they meant although I heard no words while they just went on dancing.
MacCabre Here you are old friend, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been a decade but you appear in late October with your black hat and bloodied, quick blade, again the look I know; leaping murder from your eyes, purple glazed frogs in the storm darting from stone to stone in rising pond water. I wonder are you here to harm or have you spawned as an omen dark fiend? Everything is a craving and pulled from swirling cloud, the rhyme of your existence is, that time is the first and last known healer paving suffering far into the ground. When the wind rises All Hallows has her say and leaves are splashes of golden swill following the dirty grey Liffey into the bay. Her arms take the bitter pill to creation. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve done the decade on my knees MacCabre, to reach the rising sun, so when your knives are shredding hope, letters in the breeze, I pray your will, soon to end and my torment, ease.
Lycanthrope I wasn’t very good at my psych rotation. I couldn’t keep up with the manic or slow down enough for the depressed. I spent those six weeks, achey and perplexed. One girl told me how she’d gotten her scars. She’d taken a bottle of coke - one of those old fashioned ones - and broken it. Then she took the slab of thick glass and sliced across her arms and legs in crisscrosses. When that pain did nothing to alleviate her pain, she took the bottle’s sharp edge and put it inside herself. At this point in the story, I placed my notebook on the table and excused myself, to go throw up. When I returned, she was smiling. I’d give her what she wanted: the pulse throbbing in my neck, my face pale as paper, chin quivering. She knew I would cry on the way home. This, I thought, is not for me. But, I was dutiful and so sat back down, pen in hand. Sometimes, she said, I feel like a werewolf. Well, actually, I think I am a werewolf, the spawn of a wolf and a woman and at night I want to devour the girl I am during the day. Even I could figure out what happened to her. That night, I stopped at a park on the way home and went for a long walk. It was late autumn, the light gloamy, eerie, the wolves everywhere.
Mary R Finnegan 62
please leave (detail from a larger artwork called Ouija)
A Harvest for Ghosts
A Good Recipe We adored Hilde’s bakes, but it was her bonbons we craved. The colour of her lips, these perfectly round, fondant baubles were magic. One person would exclaim lemon-meringue, another swear sticky-toffee pudding, while the third said cinnamon – while sharing the same titbit. When we asked how this could be, Hilde’d smile and duck her head behind tiny, tiny hands and ruby red nails. City folks wanted her complicated concoctions -- towering tiers of sponge containing mounds of piped icing or cream. Our tastes were simpler: punchy jam tarts, gooey banana breads, spiced carrot cakes. We wondered what the outsiders made of the trademark treats that always topped her bakes. Walking the forest path to her cabin, we’d find her in the kitchen, stained apron over her slight frame, flour in her long dark hair, remnants of the current creation on her ruby lips. With flawless, pale skin, she looked impossibly young; elderly women whispered she’d always been young. She wore slippers -- bright green silk with gold-leaf embroidery. So tiny and pointed they could’ve fit an elf. We never asked the recipe. We knew our bakes wouldn’t compare. Just as our mothers knew and our mothers’ mothers knew. Hilde never wanted money from us. Instead, she’d ask us to visit sick friends, call elderly relatives, read to children. We’d do this, then feel compelled to do more: donate to charities, run foodbanks, organise protests. At night, we’d drift off to visions of the comfort we’d brought, the sweet taste of goodness in our mouths. We’d wake wanting more. Dubbing her treats Hilde’s Do-Goods, she’d smile, look towards the hill where the ogre occupied his white house, and nod with satisfaction. Eventually we noticed she was shrinking. Not the hunched stoop of age, but actually becoming smaller. We’d find her standing on a stool to reach the counter. Noticed her head was level with the cooker. When she became the size of a cat, we asked. She told us not to worry, but we did. One day we found only her shoes. Distraught, we trudged home. Storms came, clouds like black sheep descended, dulling colours, tastes, 65
sounds. We stayed indoors. Heard dark rumours. Wondered who’d save us. We fell into a sleep where tiny emerald shoes filled our dreams. Upon waking, we rushed outdoors, became disoriented in the murk. When green pixie pantofle appeared, parting the fog, we cheered. They led us to the cabin. There we divvied up her baking things, searched for recipes, discovered instead a grindstone, the wheel stained a curious shade of ruby red. We left it behind, the slippers resting alongside. Then we mixed, measured and mused. Our bakes didn’t look or taste like Hilde’s, but we remembered the kindness of cake, how to spread good cheer. And we discovered, in that moment when we turned our backs, whether for a blink or a sleep, when we looked again, a bonbon sat atop our bakes. And we knew the recipe was good.
Grandmother clock We stripped the range rebuilt with something smaller; discarded the jars of blue crystal, batteries for the servantsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; bells that no servant had answered since the War; replaced the cracked sinks the bath that leaked, the lead-lined tank in the roof; plumbed in a washing-machine in the corner of the scullery where the copper had sat above its grate; and peeled off all the green arsenical paper from the walls of what was going to be the childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bedrooms. Even the grandmother clock, guilty of not winding any more, was taken away, its hole in the wall bricked up and plastered over. So, when our daughter asked us where was left for the ghosts to live we both laughed, and distracted her with the sundial and the small pond in the garden. Though we wonder now what we should have told her.
The Lost Puca ‘Maybe down the road,’ she said, but this stretch has loneliness to it with the rusted railway cars on a gray-clouded morning as oaks go bare at season’s change. Though time and the river and the mountains are the real heroes, the sorrow-thing in life brings me back. Once on a solitary mountain on November Day among old ruins, the Puca, spirit of the he-goat spoke in a strong human voice of all that would befall us until the next November Day. The Puca will not speak to me.
All Souls in Italy In Italy this is a greater day Than All Saints that occurs just hours before For the ordinary dead are loved more Despite their sins that lie concealed in clay It is as if the people turn away From glorifying martyrs in their gore To pray for common soldiers lost in war Or relatives that sickness stole away So in the cemetery they gather Dressed all in black clothes with candles burning But taking ceremony no further Than a solemn list of names reciting And whispered pleas to a heavenly father For sweet forgiveness and darkness lighting.
Soldier Ghosts #1
Jude Cowan Montague 70
Soldier Ghosts #2
Jude Cowan Montague
The Ballad of Asmodeus It shot down from the sky like an avian missile-head, oh how it laid as the corpse of Icarus would have With wings clipped by limitations its collision carved craters onto the earth, But its fall was born in the prayers for fire it rose out from a canyon of ashes, With glaring red eyes, piercing like the horns that curled behind elvish ears In its sights, it molded the bedrock into a throne and turned the forest life rabid Foaming at the mouth, yet subservient by the mind to a demon king with a tainted crown of poison dart thorns It waved one slight of hand and a swarm of locusts consumed the crops of nearby plots It waved another slight of hand and a drought of water dried the fields into deserts It crafted apocalypse in its wake and from its fallout: a kingdom of rubble
The Sounds Of Infinity October moon rises Beneath Scorpioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gaze A leaf-strewn painting Appears below Astride the autumnal canvas Of the mountainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s peak Where the spirits of past days And ancestral times Gather for Hop-Tu-Naa And as the Sounds of Infinity They sing for eternity
Wolves She lifts the box, draws out a coal-black strand of silk, threads the needle, plunges it through tight-stretched fabric. Outside the cottage wolves are gathering. She hears the softest pad of paws, the snuffle of their snouts around the keyhole, along the gaps in window frames. She sees their breath, clouding up the panes. In the needle goes and out again, smoothly down from tallow light to where her hidden fingers turn the point and stab it up again. Sharp, sharp. It slips between the warp and weft as easily as whetted knives slide between the shoulder blades. Heads lifted to the cloud-shawled moon, the wolfhounds pause, begin to howl. Hush, hush, the woman says; she softy sings familiar tunes: a hymn, a harvest song, a lullaby. Across the fat-grained fields a distant train rattles over rails; she listens for its plaintive whistle as it rounds the forest’s edge, disappears towards the sleeping town. Later the man will stride across the fields, knowing his moonlit way from railroad stop to cottage, expecting open doors and no resistance. He skirts the graveyard; his unnamed child slumbers in the earth, the son he never knew nor cared about. Too late he’ll see the shadow’s shift, the sudden transformation into wolf, the dripping snarl and yellowed teeth. Too late he’ll see the lolling tongue, the scarlet flash of throat. Too late he’ll hear the warning growl and catch her laugh as she ties off her thread, selects a strand of gold.
Never Slam a Door Mrs. Weatherby had the kind of patience often described as “saintly” by her neighbors. She handled the endless parade of muddy boots over freshly mopped floors with quiet dignity. Broken toys, bloody noses, and missing homework were just as serenely dealt with. There was just one thing Mrs. Weatherby couldn’t tolerate. Slamming doors. Unfortunately for her, Mrs. Weatherby was the mother of three boys – and young boys slam doors as naturally as they breathe. Doors are left open, whenever and where ever possible. But, if a door must be shut, it must be slammed with as much force as possible. Mrs. Weatherby’s youngest son, Jacob, was the best door slammer in the family. He often slammed doors with such gusto that windows rattled and his mother’s precious collection of porcelain animals wobbled on their shelf. It was a summer day – which are, without a doubt, the worst for door slamming. Mrs. Weatherby’s oldest child, Randall, was up to three slams by noon. Greg, the middle-born, was holding steady at five. Jacob, door slammer extraordinaire, had already hit nine. “Please don’t slam the doors,” Mrs. Weatherby told her boys when they ran inside to grab juice boxes. Jacob and Greg immediately insisted that it wouldn’t happen again. Their promises didn’t even come close to being convincing. The fridge door slammed shut as they ran back out. “Sorry, Mom,” her oldest and, dare she say, most sensible said before following his brothers. Later that afternoon, Mrs. Weatherby sat in her favorite chair in the living room, enjoying a good book when… SLAM. Jacob had done it again. A porcelain cow teetered unsteadily and then fell on its side with a clink. Its tail broke off. Even a mother with the patience of a saint eventually snaps. 75
“Jacob Isaiah Weatherby! You get in here right now, young man!” He poked his head into the room but came no closer. His brothers could be heard whispering loudly in the next room. Mrs. Weatherby pointed at a sofa across the room. Jacob obediently, though reluctantly, plodded over and sat on it. He stared at his knees. Seeing the twin spots of color blossoming on her son’s face, Mrs. Weatherby did her best to school herself. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and counted to ten. Trying to reason with the boy wouldn’t do a damned bit of good – of that she was certain. What does a six-year-old care about wear and tear? Nothing. Breaking the figurine she’d spent fifty bucks and two weeks watching on eBay? Guilt is no way to punish a child. So, how exactly was she supposed to get through to them? What would my mother have done? “Boys,” Mrs. Weatherby called, “come in here, please.” Randall and Greg took their places beside Jacob. “I guess you get pretty tired of hearing me ask you not to slam doors, huh?” Mrs. Weatherby said. Jacob, ever full of cheek, nodded. The others waited. “Do you know why I ask you not to slam doors?” When Jacob opened his mouth to reply, Randall jabbed him in the ribs with an elbow. He shook his head. “Well,” Mrs. Weatherby said, hoping a bit of her mother’s medicine would work on the boys. It had worked on her. “It’s so you don’t upset the ghosts.” The boys leaned forward, all attention. “Ghosts?” Greg asked. Mrs. Weatherby nodded. “Mhm. Ghosts.” Wide-eyed, the boys waited for her to continue. “If a ghost is passing through your house,” she told them, “and you accidentally slam a door on him, he’ll haunt you for the rest of your life.” The living room filled with boyish gasps. 76
“Really?” “Really.” Being the eldest, Randall was the most dubious of the three. Even he stared in open-mouthed fascination. Greg looked positively horrified. That ought to do the trick, Mrs. Weatherby thought as she sent the boys on their ways. The look of curiosity on Jacob’s face should have been a warning. Jacob Weatherby was not known for his patience. When he became ruffled, Jacob’s wife just called him grumpy, kissed his cheek, and fixed whatever problem their children had created. Their boys, six and eight, were almost always the reason for Jacob Weatherby’s bad temper. He loved his children but the endless parade of muddy boots over freshly mopped floors, broken toys, bloody noses, and missing homework would test the patience of a saint – and Jacob most certainly did not have the kind of patience that could be described as “saintly”. Off all the things that irritated Jacob Weatherby, slamming doors was the worst. Unfortunately for him, he had two sons – and young boys slam doors as naturally as they breathe. It was a rainy autumn day – which are, it could be argued, the worst for door slamming. Jacob winced as his youngest son ran into the house, slamming the front door behind him as he ran through the house, dripping water everywhere. Jacob’s fingers tightened on the newspaper he held. “Aren’t you going to say something about that?” Glancing at the hazy figure of a man sitting on the sofa across the room, Jacob smoothed the newspaper. The ghost, who had been haunting Jacob since he was six-years-old, was the other cause of his short temper. “Didn’t do me any good, did it?” Jacob replied. He shook off the paper and went back to the news headlines. The ghost just shrugged and crossed his translucent legs.
Wondra Vanian 77
Cuspid Carrion the last drop dries in simoon veins a breath away from dust and scatter he tries to remember the purloined continuances exsanguinated cattle foraged and dragooned names coalesce like vapour intangible and legion cuspid carrion longevity of mayflies can the anti-oxygenated love caress with nails that corpses make ensnare without killing devour without burying distinguish past one choice cut he tries to remember the fist of a voivode enshadowed bastilles moon-cut sister-wives subviral spouses long-ashed light spills near effulgent and damning coherent in intent as his lucidity is not an opposing attraction he tries to remember the london lass epistolic stabilizer centrepiece to temporary downfall 78
cardiac duress mina mina
tepid tepes wilfully steps into the day dust to dust in a red cuticle rising
Unmarried Mothers When the weather changed and everyone was sick of eating marrow bursting at the seams with the insipidness of sausagemeat, we begged a few spares from the heap. These outcasts we adopted. With a grimy knife we carved diamonds for eyes, and a skewwhiff grimace of pointy teeth â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the more grotesque, the better. We wrapped our goblin babies in a threadbare towel or thrown-out cardigan and bundled them into our dollies prams. Lindy's Mum pulled up the eiderdown and peeped in, expecting a blue-eyed plastic girl. Our pumpkin faces smirked in tandem until the Harvest Festival was overripe and the marrow babies shrivelled with a dirty nappy smell. We had our fill of motherhood; we tipped them out on Lindy's compost heap, swaddling clothes and all.
Artists A writer and photographer, Claire Loader was born in New Zealand and spent several years in China before moving to County Galway, Ireland. Recently published in CrannĂłg, Dodging the Rain and Pendora, she spends her days seeking enchantment in ruins. You can find her work here: www.allthefallingstones.com Tina Huckle is an amateur photographer and published writer & poet (writing as Tina M Edwards). Her coastal photography has won competitions by Seasalt Clothing & Quba Sails. She has also been featured in Riggwelter Press and pre-selected by the RWA for their 2015 Open Exhibition. Wendy Schmidt has been writing short stories, essays and poetry for the last ten years. Pieces have been published in Verse Wisconsin, Chicago Literati, City Lake Poets, Literary Hatchet, Moon Magazine, Rebelle Society and a number of other poetry and fiction anthologies. You can read one of her stories, The Curse Now Lifted, in the award winning Anthology, Shifts. Carrie Weis Nell Wilson studied English at St Andrews, graduating in 2011. She was runner up in the Jane Martin Prize in 2016, and has had poems published with Measure, The Moth, Mezzo Cammin, Acumen, and has a poem forthcoming with Sidekick Booksâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; anthology Battalion. She currently lives in Lincolnshire. Jude Cowan Montague worked for Reuters Television Archive for ten years. Her album The Leidenfrost Effect (Folkwit Records 2015) reimagines quirky stories from the Reuters Life! feed. She produces 'The News Agents' on Resonance 104.4 FM and writes for The Quietus. She is an occasional creative writing tutor for the Oxford University Continuing Education Department. Her most recent book is The Originals (Hesterglock Press, 2017).
Writers Mari Deweese lives outside of Memphis, and dreams of a place with an actual autumn. When she is not busy with that and other similarly useless pursuits, she is probably writing, thinking about writing, or cleaning the kitchen. Elaine Reardon is a poet, herbalist, and educator. Her chapbook,The Heart is a Nursery For Hope, published in 2016 by Flutter Press won top honors. Most recently Elaine’s poetry has been published by Crossways Journal, MA Poet of the Moment, http://nichts.co.uk, Automatic Pilot, and UCLA Journal. She most recently was heard reading at the Brattleboro Literary Festival, Great Falls Spoken Word Festival, and the Garlic & Arts Festival. Elaine lives tucked into the forest in Western Massachusetts and maintains a blog at elainereardon.wordpress.com Attracta Fahy’s background is Nursing/Social Care. She works in private practice as a Psychotherapist. She lives in Co.Galway and has three children. She completed her MA in Writing NUIG in 2017 and participates in Over The Edge poetry workshops. Her poems have been published in Banshee, Poetry Ireland Review, Poethead, and several other magazines, ezines and journals. Gill Lambert is a poet and teacher from Yorkshire. She is widely published online and in print and her pamphlet 'Uninvited Guests' was published last year by Indigo Dreams. She mostly teaches creative writing and English but also runs knitting workshops. Erin Emily Ann Vance’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Contemporary Verse 2 and filling station. Erin was a 2017 recipient of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize and a 2018 Finalist for the Alberta Magazine Awards in Fiction. She will complete her MA in Creative Writing in August 2018 and begin a MA in Irish Folklore and Ethnology at University College Dublin in 2019. Erin debut novel. Advice for Amateur Beekeepers and Taxidermists will be published by Stonehouse Publishing in 2019. Bayveen O'Connell loves autumn as it starts to get cold enough to necessitate wearing a cape again. Her poems and flash have featured in 83
Molotov Cocktail, Lonesome October Lit, Underground Writers, Selene Quarterly, Tales from the Forest, The Cabinet of Heed and others. Judith Taylor was born and brought up in Perthshire. She studied English and Mediaeval History at St Andrews University and spent the early part of her career as a librarian. She now lives in Aberdeen, where she works in IT and is one of the organisers of the monthly 'Poetry at Books and Beans' events in City Centre bookshop / coffee-shop Books and Beans. Her poetry has appeared widely in magazines and her first full-length collection, 'Not in Nightingale Country', was published by Red Squirrel Press in 2017. Peter Clive lives on the southside of Glasgow, Scotland with his wife and three children. He is a scientist working in the renewable energy sector. As well as poetry, he enjoys composing music for piano and spending time in the Isle of Lewis. Ali Jones is a teacher, music lover, and mother of three. Her writing has been published in a variety of places, from Proletarian Poetry and The Interpreterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s House, to The Green Parent Magazine and The Guardian, Her poetry pamphlets Heartwood and Omega are forthcoming with Indigo Dreams Press. Accountant by day, poet by night: Maz Hedgehog is like Batman but pretentious. Her work is mostly inspired by her mother's storytelling and fantasy novels borrowed from local libraries. Maz has been published in online magazines like Ruru Reads, headlined nights including That's What She Said and A Lovely Word and will soon publish her first poetry collection as part of the Superbia chapbook series. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Patreon @MazHedgehog Thursday Simpson is a multimedia artist and a co-founding editor at OUT/CAST, a journal for queer & Midwestern writers. Her first chapbook, Three Gothic Stories, is published with Moonchaps. She composes soundtracks for her writing and maintains a prog, analog synth based aesthetic. She believes in Feline Satan and garlic and onions. Ask her to do an impression of King Diamond or Kevin Steen and she will probably smile. Her Twitter is @JeanBava and her full publication history can be found at www.thursdaysimpson.com 84
Angela Topping is the author of eight full collections and four chapbooks of poetry, and a former Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s library. Her work has won prizes and been included on over 80 anthologies. She has loved Faerie stories since she learned to read at three years old. Charley Reay is a Northumberland based writer from the Lincolnshire Fens. Her poems are published by Ink, Sweat & Tears, Prole and Smeuse among others. She also performs on the North East spoken word scene. You can find her on Twitter @charleyreay Born in N. Ireland, Oonah V Joslin retired from teaching twelve years ago. She writes mostly poetry and micro-fiction and won three MicroHorror prizes. She is an editor at The Linnet’s Wings magazine. Her chapbook, Three Pounds of Cells is available on Amazon and she was invited by the National Trust to read her poem from that book, Almost on Brantwood Jetty on board the Gondola Steamship at Coniston in 2016. You can follow Oonah at Parallel Oonahverse and on Facebook. Jacqueline Knight has lived in Spain for 28 years. She is a writer, mother of 4, committed activist for environmental protection, gender equality and voting rights and Deputy Mayor of her small village. She has had poems published in various anthologies and online journals and in her poetry blog. Financial Times-awarded “Haiku Poet in the City”, Northern Irish writer Marion Clarke is a keen exponent of short form poetry and her haiku, haibun and senryu appear regularly in international journals and on Japanese TV show Haiku Masters. A selection of her work was showcased in the first two national haiku anthologies from Ireland, Bamboo Dreams (Doghouse) and Between the Leaves (Arlen House) and her freeform poetry was long-listed in the Desmond O’Grady Competition 2013 and Seamus Heaney Awards 2015. Marion's location near the scenic Carlingford Lough inspires much of her artwork and several illustrations have been used in online poetry journals. Spangle McQueen is a happy grandma and hopeful poet living in Sheffield. She is proud and grateful to have work accepted and/or published by Three Drops Press; Picaroon; Lonesome October Lit; Bonnie's Crew; Burning House Press; Dwell Collective Zine; Strix; Awkward Mermaid; I am not a Silent Poet; The Writers' Café; Foxglove Journal and Sad Girl Review. 85
Paul Waring is a retired clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and sang in several Liverpool bands. A 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee, his poems have appeared in a range of print journals, anthologies and e-zines including Three Drops From A Cauldron, Bonnie’s Crew Anthology, Prole, Atrium, Algebra of Owls, Amaryllis, Riggwelter, Clear Poetry, High Window, Ofi Press, Marble Poetry and others. https://waringwords.wordpress.com Sue Spiers’s poems have been included in previous Samhain and Beltane issues with Three Drops from a Cauldron, and with Picaroon Poetry in January 2019. Thank you, Kate. Other magazines include Acumen, Dream Catcher, Orbis, South and Under The Radar. Sue’s poems have been included in Paper Swans Press anthologies Best of British, and coming soon, Pocket Poetry series for Cricket. Sue is SIG Sec for British Mensa poetry and treasurer with the Winchester Poetry Festival and can be followed on Twitter @spiropoetry. Jacqui Rowe has had four pamphlets published, and a full collection, Blink, from V Press. She has read her own commissioned poems on Radio 4's Poetry Please. Co-editor of the award-winning press Flarestack Poets, she is also a tutor for the Poetry School. In 2013-2014 she was Writer in Residence at Birmingham's Barber Institute of Fine Arts, where she established and continues to deliver the creative writing programme. Sam Grudgings is a poet perpetually on the edge of collapse. He yells stories about recovery, loss, 50 ft monsters, cities made of teeth & haunted people cos it's cheaper than therapy and less physically taxing than porno. He has done festivals, played punk shows, & has supported Dizraeli, Button Poetry's Sabrina Benaim & Rudy Francisco as well as many others. He is always talking about mental health at the most inopportune moments. Sam can be found at most poetry nights in Bristol & co-produces Cult spoken-word night Milk Poetry. Sarah L Dixon is based in Linthwaite and tours as The Quiet Compere. She has been most recently published in Confluence and Marble. Her first book, ‘The sky is cracked’, was released by Half Moon Press in November 2017 and her book ‘Adding wax patterns to Wednesday’ is due out with Three Drops Press in late 2018. Sarah’s inspiration comes from being close to water and adventures with her son, Frank (8). 86
KT Wagner writes speculative fiction in the garden of her British Columbia home. She enjoys day-dreaming and is a collector of strange plants, weird trivia and obscure tomes. KT graduated from Simon Fraser University’s Writers Studio in 2015 and attended Futurescapes in 2018. Her short stories are published in Daily Science Fiction and several anthologies and she’s currently working on two scifi horror novels. KT can be found online at www.northernlightsgothic.com and @KT_Wagner Penny Sharman is a poet, artist, therapist and photographer. Born at the winter Solstice she has Fire and Earth in her blood and bones. Penny has been published in many magazines and anthologies. She loves wild open spaces and tries to dance as much as possible. Annie Blake is an Australian writer and divergent thinker. She started school as an EAL student and was raised and, continues to live in a multicultural and industrial location in the West of Melbourne. Her research aims to exfoliate branches of psychoanalysis and metaphysics. She is currently focusing on in medias res and arthouse writing. She enjoys exploring symbology and the surreal and phantasmagorical nature of dreams. She is a member of the C G Jung Society of Melbourne and Existentialist Society in Melbourne. You can visit her on annieblakethegatherer.blogspot.com.au and https://www.facebook.co m/profile.php?id=100009445206990. Maia Cornish is a British writer who was born in Cornwall. In true Celtic fashion, she has travelled extensively and has visited every continent (apart from Antarctica -yet). Her travels have inspired her writing, and her short stories, poems and Flash Fiction have been published in print and online in UK and USA. Zoe Mitchell is a writer living and working on the South Coast. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester and is currently studying for a creative PhD on witches and women’s poetry. Her work has featured in a number of magazines including The Rialto, The London Magazine and The Moth. She was recently announced as the winner of the Indigo-First Collection Competition 2018 and her poetry collection is forthcoming from Indigo Dreams Publishing. www.writingbyzoe.com Twitter: @writingbyzoe 87
Ruth Aylett lives in Edinburgh where she teaches and researches university-level computing. She was joint author with Beth McDonough of the pamphlet Handfast, published in 2016. One of four authors of the online epic Granite University, she performed with Sarah the Poetic Robot at the 2012 Edinburgh Free Fringe. She has been published by The North, Prole, Antiphon, Interpreter’s House, New Writing Scotland, South Bank Poetry, Envoi, Bloodaxe Books, Red Squirrel Press, Doire Press and others. See www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/writing.html for more. Ceinwen E Cariad 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. Ian Colville was born in Aberdeenshire, but lives in Bedfordshire, where he's a regular at local group Ouse Muse. Ian has had over 60 poems published in curated magazines and anthologies, such as: Poetry Scotland Open Mouse; The Poetic Bond; Prole, Poetry and Prose; Orbis Quarterly Literary Magazine; and The Quarterday Review. Ian's writing tends towards irreverence, on all manner of topics driven by inveterate reading, for which he prefers the society of 'dead poets'. Nevertheless, Ian has a wide collection of contemporary books and pamphlets. When he's not writing, Ian is usually to be found reading. Once upon a time, Richard Westcott was a doctor. Although cobwebs now hang from his stethoscope, his poetry often remembers his past life, helping to inspire (if that’s the right word) his pamphlet There they live much longer, published by Indigo Dreams. He’s worked on several books with photographer Chris Chapman, including the highly acclaimed (now sold-out) The Three Hares, A Curiosity Worth Regarding. As for skeletons, well he’s spent quite a lot of time with them… Orla Fay is the editor of Boyne Berries since issue 16. Recently her work has appeared in Honest Ulsterman, Crannóg, Skylight 47, Quarryman, Cyphers and is forthcoming in Poetry Ireland Review. Her poem "North" has been long listed in the OTE New Writer of the Year Competition, 2018. She has just completed the MA in Digital Arts and Humanities at UCC for which she made http://digitalagepoetry.com. She blogs at http://orlafay.blogspot.ie 88
Mary R. Finnegan is a writer and nurse living in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Dead Housekeeping, PILGRIM: A Journal of Catholic Experience, Catholic Digest, The Schuylkill Valley Journal, Medical Literary Messenger, WHYY Speakeasy, and The American Journal of Nursing. Sherry Morris is from a small Missouri town, but now lives in the Scottish Highlands where she pets cows, converses with horses, watches clouds and scribbles stories. Her first published short story was about her Peace Corps experience in Ukraine and appears in A Small Key Opens Big Doors. Her short stories, flash fiction and monologues have won prizes, placed on shortlists and been performed in London and Scotland. Other published work can be found on her website www.uksherka.com or follow her @Uksherka. Tim Dwyer’s chapbook is Smithy of Our Longings: Poems from the Irish Diaspora (Lapwing Publications, 2015). His poems have appeared in Cyphers, Orbis, Southword, and The Stinging Fly, among other journals. Born in Brooklyn, parents from Galway, currently in Connecticut, he will be living in Bangor in the north of Ireland in 2019. He is a previous contributor to Three Drops from a Cauldron. 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 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 J.B. Stone is an neurodiverse writer from Brooklyn, now residing in Buffalo. Stone is the author of the Micro Chapbook A Place Between Expired Dreams And Renewed Nightmares (Ghost City Press 2018). He also has work featured and/or forthcoming in Occulum, Awkward Mermaid Lit Mag,BlazeVOX, Riggwelter Press, Breadcrumbs Magazine, Crack the Spine, among several others. He is also the recent winner of the 2018 Academy of Heart & Mind Summer Poetry Competition. You can check out more of his work at jaredbenjaminstone.com and/or follow him on twitter @JB_StoneTruth. 89
Nico Solheim-Davidson is a poet, cat lover, and possibly a Viking reincarnated, from the coast of Yorkshire, who is constantly on a quest for chip spice and the perfect selfie. He also spends his free time arguing with Lancastrians about the War of the Roses. Angi Holden is a retired lecturer and freelance writer, whose work includes prize winning adult & childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s poetry, short stories & flash fictions, published in online and print anthologies. She brings a wide range of personal experience to her writing, alongside a passion for lifelong learning. Her pamphlet Spools of Thread, published in 2018, won the inaugural Mother's Milk Pamphlet Prize. Wondra Vanian is an American who lives in the United Kingdom with her husband and an army of fur babies. After earning her degree in English Language & Literature, she left her job working for The Man to pursue a career in writing and to concentrate of finding happiness while living with chronic illness. A writer first, Wondra is also an avid gamer, photographer, cinephile, and blogger. She has music in her blood, sleeps with the lights on, and has been known to dance naked in the moonlight. Ashley Bullen-Cutting is a writer concerned with Weird, Eco, Gothic and Queer. He likes painting his nails and the chaotic dreams that reading Lovecraft before bed produce. His work has been published in Isacoustic, Riggwelter and Lonesome October Lit. @abullencutting Sue Kindon lives and writes in The Pyrenees, where she co-runs Valier Illustrated Books. Her first pamphlet, She who pays the piper, is available from Three Drops Press.
Previous Publication Credits ‘Hallowed Night’ by Elaine Reardon was previously published in Black Poppy Review. ‘Rejuvenation Spell’ by Marion Clarke was runner-up in the Scryptic – Magazine of Dark Arts Halloween Competition 2017. ‘Late Blight’ by K.T. Wagner was first published in Fantasia Divinity Magazine’s Autumn’s Harvest anthology (February 2018). ‘The Standing Stone’ by Ian Colville was previously published in Reflections, issue 88. ‘All Souls in Italy’ by David Subacchi was first published in his collection Not Really a Stranger (Cestrian Press, May 2016).