Reading and Writing – a poem by Anne Whitehouse

Reading and Writing

cento after Virginia Woolf

Their boat tossed on the waves,
and when he looked up,
it was not to see anything,
but to pin a thought more exactly.
Then his eyes flew back again
and he plunged into his reading,
tossing over page after page.

From her hand, ice cold, held deep in the sea,
there spurted up a fountain of joy,
and the drops fell here and there
on the dark, slumbering shapes
of an unrealized world turning in darkness,
catching here and there, a spark of light.

Let it come, if it will come—
the jar on the nerves, the thing
before it has been made anything.

Her thought expanded like a leaf in water
standing on its end with gold-sprinkled waters
flowing in and about it—
a little island rocked round by waters.
She gazed over the sea, at the island.
The leaf looked small and distant.
It was losing its sharpness.
Dabbling her fingers in the water,
she murmured dreamily, half asleep.

A row of rocks showed brown and green
through the water, and on a higher rock,
a wave broke, spurting up a column of drops
which fell down in a shower,
and they listened to the slap and patter,
the hushing and hissing sounds
of the waves rolling and gamboling
and slapping the rocks like wild creatures
who had tossed and tumbled
and sported like this forever.

Frail and blue, the leaf-shape
stood on end on a plate of gold
like the vapor of something
that had burnt itself away.

Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower (Dos Madres Press, 2016), and a novel, Fall Love. Recent honors include 2017 Adelaide Literary Award, 2016 Songs of Eretz Poetry Prize, 2016 Common Good Books’, 2016 RhymeOn!, and 2016 Fitzgerald Museum Poetry Prizes

Ipseity – a poem by Sanjeev Sethi

Ipseity

Construing the geniality
of waitstaff
as barometer of self-worth
is akin to grumbling
at a lagniappe.
There is reflection
during refection.
Let me-moments drive you
indoors. If intimacy is
negotiation there is need
for self-examination.
Bogarting shadows
fiscal success
as love of God
consumes the broken.
Generalities apart,
make your mixtape.
Embrace it.

Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry. His poems are in venues around the world:   A Restricted View From Under The Hedge, Pantry Ink, Bonnie’s Crew, Morphrog 16, Mad Swirl, The Penwood Review, Faith Hope & Fiction, Communion Arts Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.

the unwritten – a poem by Kenneth West

the unwritten

a monk sits alone in a cellar
on the sixth floor of a castle.
it is the end of the world,
and he writes by the light
of a fish’s phosphorescent scales.
what will he tell of the world
which has just ended? his back
aches beneath the weight
of the undescribed. so much will be
unsaid in the treasured annals
of the dead, but still he says
what must be said. he writes
of flowers and their evanescent splendor,
the pale pink of petals in spring light.
the ballpoint glides from edge to edge
of the crumpled paper as he tells
of the moon in its fluid phases,
of cake with thick whipped frosting,
people passing each other on their commute
through crumbling streets, and he muses
in wonder at how so much sustained the wreckage,
looking out the broken window, a shard of glass falling
far below. he still feels camaraderie
with everything visible, all across the mangled landscape.

 

Kenneth West is a writer from Monroe, Louisiana. He can be found on Twitter @gildedchalice

Ekadanta – a poem by Ashley Naftule

Ekadanta

All I can see in my prayers
………..is broken tusks
and gods riding on the back of mice.
Their outstretched hands hold out
vermillion candies and sharp tridents

dripping poppy red.

The sky above me is gray and dense,
the skin of an elephant
stretched across the heavens.

My Lord writes his name
………….on my tongue
…………with the tip of a peacock’s feather.
He carves his face
……….. on my heart
……….. with a broken tusk.
And I—
I write my name
……………………..on smoke and fire
……………………..so he can breathe it in.
Hold me in your mouth,
…………..so everything you say
…………..is colored by me.
Let us speak only in harmonies, Ekadanta—
…………………………………………………………………………..everything under your skin
…………………………………………………………………………..will dance for us.

 

Ashley Naftule is a writer and performer from Phoenix, AZ. He’s been published in Vice, Phoenix New Times, Ghost City Press, The Hard Times, Rinky Dink Press, Under The Radar, Four Chambers Press, and The Occulum. He’s a resident playwright and Associate Artistic Director at Space55 theatre.

Kite’s Well at Nymet Tracey – a poem by Julie Sampson

Kite’s Well
at Nymet Tracey

 

No more,
once a common sight
the Red-Kite hovering
over this remnant of the sacred wood,
a site whose lanes sink west toward
Devon’s Stonehenge with its bevy of sister sites,
then lead to Denbrook, blot
on mid Devon’s landscape,
where at the rooted foot of this gnarled oak a spring trickles
from under the road
then, a stream, makes its way away
from under the road beneath red earth into an edging copse.

Often now the well is a hive of forked sticks and dowsing rods.
Rod-swivelling, the diviners, like me on this anticipating page
are eager to decipher that displacement of time and space
whose yet unfathomed silences withhold from sight these ghosts
of our long-shadowed past, who regularly passed along the green-laned ways –
though seemingly left no trace before dispersing under earth
the shifting ashes of their bones, glinting shards of flints.

This place is as much stranger to me as are those of our family blood
that handful of centuries before
whose names stipple our long-lost tree –
a retreating ancestral line that
like others unfolded life-journeys within the bounds of the encircling parish.

We may not inherit a specific trait as we trawl along our own genetic-line,
yet some vestige, a hidden genomic chunk, is likely still to live in us,
flecks of our story surface from the deepest well of pedigree.
The absence at the black-hole of well’s hollow is container of sacred presence,
we’re drawn to this site of rited wilderness
as much as those once at its heart
are now love fractured to bone.

My literal visit here is simple.
I want to make a journey with other dowsers to Nymetland’s heart.
We look for rest. Solace.
Wish to listen to wisdom, the will-of-the-land,
– in the prevailing wind she catches her breath.
Where water-pepper nudges willow-herb
air’s spiced with meadow-sweets’ heady scent by the hedge,
there’s tree-speak beneath ancient oak’s laden crown,
a frisson of leaves as they dip into well’s marginal zone.

Like you, I want to believe in innocence.
But on the far bank
red hips and haws splash across day’s sunlit sky
reminding us of the solitary site’s sacral significance.
Folk-tale says Druids once
dwelt in Dumnonians’ deep-groves –
those blood-curdling caterwauls
of head-chopping head-hunter Celts’
once ritual violations.

Is it Her who haunts this grove?
Those of us who still cling to the myth of tender Dryad,
wood spirit, guardian of the Nymet-Woods
must get to know our other abandoned selves,
must have courage to look above at those
who stare back, hold us in their rapacious hawk-like gaze.
Shatter us out of the ease of our complicit complacency.

 

(Author’s note: See ‘The Sacred Groves in Devon’ in Roger Deakin’s Wildwood for an account of Devon’s woodhenge near the village of Bow, which he compares to Stonehenge. The ancient well at Nymet-Tracey is near that site. Traditionally named Puddock’s Well, I have taken the liberty of re-christening it as Kite’s Well.)

In recent years Julie Sampson‘s poetry has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Shearsman, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Journal, Amaryllis PoetryThe Algebra of Owls, Molly Bloom, The Poetry Shed, The Lake, Amethyst Review, Poetry Space and Pulsar. Shearsman published her edition of Mary Lady Chudleigh; Selected Poems, in 2009 and a full collection, Tessitura, in 2014. A non-fiction manuscript was short-listed for The Impress Prize, in 2015 and a pamphlet, It Was When It Was When It Was, was published by Dempsey and Windle, March 2018.