Confession – a poem by Jay Ramsay

CONFESSION

for Deborah & Diana

1.

An empty room I didn’t realize was there
in the centre of my being

where I am with You.

So many other rooms, a palace of faces
but without this

there’s no well inside,
above and below.

So in my innermost heart and soul
I must say I am that I am

I can surrender,
and I can command

I can say
I love you, I am sorry, please forgive me
to this heart

for creating a reality separate from you.

And so I bow,
and because I can bow
I can command.

2.

I am lying in a river
underneath your hands

on heart, on brow.

The healing is now,
the table floats.

Running glissandi of above and below,
the healing is music in the cells

that we have never heard out loud.

It is birdsong without conversation.

But I am speaking
words I do not recognize
come to my lips
in a rapid whisper—

like pouring sand,
tumbling over each other
precise as cards dealt from a hand.

A language I remember, but do not understand.

So call that language poetry
call it healing
call it speaking in tongues

uttered in the in-between space
of stars and desert centuries;
of earthenware jars broken open

of our secret being within.

Deeper than personality,
devoid of ego
the lips, the tongue moves
like a kiss.

We lie in this little London park
like an oasis
surrounded by swirling traffic
desert sands beneath,

a honest Biblical living.

And now
our way is resurrection,
where the whole of this life is with You.

1 July 2017
the crypt, All Saints,
Uplands, Stroud

Jay Ramsay, who co-founded Angels of Fire in London in 1983 with its Festivals of New Poetry, is the author of 30 + books of poetry, non-fiction, and classic Chinese translation (with Martin Palmer) including Psychic Poetry—a manifesto, The White PoemAlchemy, Crucible of Love–the alchemy of passionate relationships, Tao Te Ching, I Ching—the shamanic oracle of change, Shu Jing—the Book of History, The Poet in You (his correspondence course, since 1990), Kingdom of the Edge—Selected Poems 1980-1998, Out of Time—1998-2008, Places of Truth, Monuments, and Agistri Notebook (both 2014). In 2012 he recorded his poetry-music album, Strange Sun. In addition, he’s edited 6 anthologies of New Poetry—most recently Diamond Cutters—Visionary Poets in America, Britain & Oceania (with Andrew Harvey: www.tayenlane.com), as well as many collections for other poets, also under his own pamphlet imprint Chrysalis Poetry. He’s also poetry editor of Caduceus magazine, working in private practice as a UKCP accredited psychotherapist and healer, and running workshops worldwide (www.jayramsay.co.uk).

 

13. February – a poem by John Gimblett

  1. February

Consumed by a star. Or, at least, by a waxing crescent moon in
the west, over the twm of the mountain. And beside it, nestled
off the curve of it, first Venus a pin-prick of snow whiteness.
Further again, the width of my fifth finger towards the north,
Mars; the fourth planet has a pink tinge. Less than red, it’s
easy to see without the glare from the city. Turning my back
to them, facing me – opposite – in this cloudless night sky

Jupiter is glaring. On its own in the east, a three-star belt
keeping these planets apart, it flickers as if with code above
the trees where sometimes we dash around treading our old
paths. I was once guided towards Plato by Venus; a vision
struck from the dead of night that splashed every cell of me
with an understanding, an insight, into some words of Aristotle.
Sometimes we open up to the immense, the universal. Other

times we are little; simple small children with limited sense.

 

John Gimblett lives in Wales, UK, and is primarily a poet and novelist, whose work has been published widely. He has read at the Hay Festival (‘The Woodstock of the mind’ – Bill Clinton) and elsewhere. His novels are crime/thrillers set mainly in his home city. #NewportNoir @johngimblett

Joke – a story by Mary Breaden

Joke

 

#Blessed: A man and a woman recline in the golden hour. Their eyes are halfway lidded; their irises are cornflowers. She wears cherry. Ripeness is the color of young lust.

.

.

.

A picture is what liars reveal about themselves.

 

×

 

#Found: Once, I saw a girl of a woman who took pictures of her toes pointed towards oddities and distressed curios; all things abandoned by strangers. Her toes were arrowed expressions she thought no one wished to hear.
.

.

.

Silence within the frame—anguish without. An excellent composition may require you to move the body.

.

.

.

She knows that at some point, she will have to photograph her face.

 

×

 

#Missing: If he had the time to think about it, he would have published the one photograph he thought told the entirety of the entire summer trip. Him alone, inebriated by lunch, flying through the air after tripping on cobble stones and the face of painfearwonder and he could not stop himself from laughing when he landed on the prosaically sweet Grecian street.

.

.

.

Not pictured: The whiteheat of domed buildings rising up from the ocean or the thick, impenetrably blue water.

 

×

 

#DarkLight: Her dark eyes know they miss so much.

.

.

.

Her eyes were the ones who could make art from neglect. They were the ones who crouched, or sat, or let themselves naked on down to the floor to look at a crack in the wall where a broken tooth of plaster resembled a dragon.

.

They were the ones who would make darkness encroach upon a photograph until, then, the unknown marvels whispered a spell, touched the air, and the monster emerged.

.

Horrifying lives frame themselves within walls and under beds and beneath freeways and inside of discarded pop cans.

 

×

 

#Sweat: The heat is just a joke. The heat is a test she’s walked out on.

.

.

.

July evening hunger. A chilled bottle. A wine extracted from the caverns of a cooler and the joke of that pleasure, that saunter down the avenue’s wants with a black plastic bag, yes, stuck to the sweaty crook of her arm, but inside the plastic, ice cube bottle blues. She has fallen into the waves, breached cloudy waters, freezing waters, and she emerges clutching treasure.

.

.

.

Ever listening, failing, close.

 

Mary Breaden is an Oregonian native living in Brooklyn. By early morning light, she writes, and during business hours, she works for a social services nonprofit. She and Andrea Janda founded an experimental literary journal, Visitant, in 2016. Mary’s work has been published in Education Week, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Joyland, the Fanzine, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Persistent Visions, The Mondegreen, the Portland State Vanguard, and Portland Book Review. She was selected as an Emerging Writer in the Lamprophonic Reading Series and nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015.

Do You Believe in God? Climate Change? – a poem by James Croal Jackson

Do You Believe in God? Climate Change?

Ancient gods rain fire into
winter’s mythological mitt.
Inhabitants escape from the
tampered breaches to become
apprentices of harmony and
tell of wondrous kings
the bestiary a cephalopod
might preach. Tell me
less of spirit, more of
body. Tell me hunger.
Tell me deserts, dry
open mouths.

 

James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in Hobart, FLAPPERHOUSE, Yes Poetry, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle, a poetry journal. Find him in Columbus, Ohio or at jimjakk.com.

Perfection – a poem by David Chorlton

Perfection

With the Dutch precision of an old master
or the concentration of a tool
with no soul
perfection is possible. It may be
photographic realism
or an edge so sharp
it bleeds. It may be an aria
that flies, or a cadenza straight
from the subconscious fingers of a soloist
whose bow is strung with lightning.
For those who never come close
the consolation lies
in the journey; the lifelong meditation
or daily discipline
on the yoga mat as the limbs
become liquid and flow
through the poses without ever
moving far enough east
to slip through the knot
and leave the body behind.

David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and reflect his affection for the natural world. His newest book publication is Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant.

Dead End – a poem by Eabhan Ní Shuileabháin

Dead End.

 
I’ve started catching myself
Offering my neck to people,
Stretching my throat muscles,
Slightly raising my chin.

They don’t seem to know what I’m doing.

I’m laying my throat bare,
Hoping to feel the touch of a hand
For an instant of grace
Before I give myself up
To the hard closing fingers.

I am offering my throat to any
Who will take it.

I have remembered
What lies at the base of me,
And even though everything has changed,
I know again what I can do—have done—
And I cannot contain this truth.

I will lay it in a small corner of my soul,
Cover it with fear and shame,
Stop searching for God.

It is a pity I have remembered again.
I was closer than I’ve ever been
To finally finding Him.

 

Eabhan Ní Shuileabháin is an Irish poet, born of an American father and Irish mother, who has lived as an outsider all her life in Ireland, Holland, America and Wales. She has had work published in a range of journals in Ireland, Britain, America, Europe and Australia.

Fish – a short story by Mario Petrucci

FISH

The fisherman was utterly lost. The storm that had taken him so by surprise had also thrust him far out to sea. The waters all around him glowed darkly with an immensity of depth; the boat rocked to slow, massive currents. The night had been vast, the dark steep and impenetrable, terrible with swells and the constant terror of capsizing. In salmon robes, dawn had brought calm but also, in every direction, that sharp blue arc of distant horizon. Hours became days. His net and most of his provisions had been washed away in the storm; all that remained to him was a modest keg of fresh water that, fortunately, had been well tied down, a patch of canvas beneath which he could escape the sun’s fiercest rays, and a small square of net with some thread. He fashioned the fragment of net into a rough scoop trailed alongside the boat, hoping to snare some confused fry or perhaps a half-blind, tired old fish.

Not well nourished at the best of times, weakness soon descended upon the poor fisherman. It was the dusk hour, when ocean and sky seem to merge into one continuous translucence. A small silver fish strayed into his makeshift net. He felt gratitude well up in him at this unexpected and unlikely meal. On its side, caught up clumsily in the webbing and half out of the water, the little silver fish gasped gently and held the fisherman meekly in its gaze. The fisherman had often had cause to eat fish raw, and this tiny creature promised brief respite from the swells of hunger that surged through him. And yet, something in this fish seemed almost unnaturally clean and bright. It were as though the crescent of moon had fallen into the sea and cleansed itself of the merest tarnish before yielding itself to him. “I am sorry, little one. How innocent you are in this, my hunger – and yet I must eat.” The fish seemed almost to understand. It swivelled its eye to the skies without anger or judgement. Then, without thinking, free of any sense of the consequences of his action, and as gently as he could, the fisherman let the silver fish go.

The fish swam at once to the depths. He told his tiny school of silver brothers and sisters his strange dream: how a simple net had fooled him; how the huge man in a wooden boat had apologised to him for hunger, only to release him. The small huddle of fish was very still for some time, moving hardly at all and only now and then with the merest flick of a fin in the dimness. Then, one by one, they began to flutter upwards. One by one, over several days, they gently but insistently presented themselves to the fisherman’s feeble net. For a moment, the fisherman doubted his senses; but he knew the sea and its occupants too well to think this was some kind of coincidence or accident. When least expected, there would be a flash and flip of fish at the side of the boat. They gave themselves up softly, without struggle; and he ate with reverence, as though each little soul were the entire ocean, or the last crescent of moon that any woman or man would ever gaze upon. In humility, he accepted the many gifts of their small salt bodies. He ate until restored. The last fish of all was, he felt sure, the very one he had released. The salt of his tears joined the salt of the sea. He felt fresh strength dart silvery through him and, with a kindly breeze now behind him, the current firm beneath, the fisherman was returned to shore.

         copyright Mario Petrucci

Award-winning UK poet, ecologist and PhD physicist Mario Petrucci has held major poetry residencies at the Imperial War Museum and with BBC Radio 3.  Heavy Water: a poem for Chernobyl (Enitharmon, 2004) secured the Daily Telegraph/ Arvon Prize.  Consciousness is his truest subject, and i tulips (Enitharmon, 2010) exemplifies Petrucci’s distinctive combination of innovation and humanity.  www.writingintofreedom.com

 

Holy Land – a poem by Nessa O’Mahoney

Holy Land

For my pilgrim mother

Faith might be easier
if it was simply a matter
of almond blossom,
of blood anemones
spotting the hill-side,
or the diamond blue
of lupins and violets
along the valley
still called Armageddon.

Prayer might come quicker
if the caves stayed unbuilt-upon,
if layer on layer of
begun by Byzantines,
destroyed by Persians,
rebuilt by Crusaders,
destroyed by Muslims,
of twentieth century wars
remained scattered dust
in the Samarian wilderness.

Abraham does his best,
yellow base-ball cap at a tilt
to beacon us on through traders
and treacherous steps,
where nothing is as
the guidebook describes it.

The tears come,
not on, unsurprisingly,
the Via Dolorosa
or the slow sepulchral crawl
past Calvary, the quick shove
through the tomb

but in a quiet place
of vaulted roof,
of white Jerusalem stone,
where a smiling,
West Cork Franciscan
guards the door,
where steps descend
to the cave your namesake
may have been born in,

where the notes soar as we gather
a rag-tag choir at St. Ann’s altar:

oh sacrament most holy
oh sacrament divine

and I join in,
try descant
to my mother’s alto tones,
find harmonies
I’ve practised all my life,
came all these miles
to sing.

 

Nessa O’Mahony is from Dublin. She has published four books of poems. Her most recent publication is Metamorphic: 21st Century Poets Respond to Ovid (Recent Work Press), which she co-edited with Paul Munden. She presents a monthly podcast called The Attic Sessions.

Transformation, a Foxtale – a poem by Tamara Miles

Transformation, a Foxtale

Born a fox. Fox in the hen house.

Foxhound. Foxtrot, a slow, flowing dance.
Three step, feather step, natural turn.

Silver fox. Crazy like a fox. Fox on the run.
Slick like a fox,
quick like a fox, hide in plain sight like a fox.

Whiskey. Tango.

Hunted like a fox, the out of breath
got to get somewhere, got to get under it,
got to go deep fox, when chased for fur or fun.

Fox in flight, chased by dog or horse.

Red fox, brown fox. Quick brown fox jumps. Fox in the night.

_______________________

In Japanese literature, elite and folk,
the fox is often a shape shifter, a symbol of transformation
and duplicity. The rice-god Inari has fox servants
and is said to be a fox himself.

Kitsuni, the outsider.
Myoubo, celestial fox.
Nogitsune, wild fox.

In one of the traditional Japanese stories, a man shoots a fox
with an arrow, wounding it, but is unable to catch it.

On his way home, he sees it running past him with a flaming brand
in its mouth. It sets his house on fire.

In another story, a man saves the life of a vixen who later visits
him, explains that she is only temporarily human and offers herself
as his brief concubine. Sin, he thinks, and says no, whereupon
he hears this song:

The hat thou lovedst,
…………….Reed-wove, tricked out with damask,
……..Ah me, hath blown away…

and the fox is free to become fully human, and she leaves
the man behind.

__________________________

Aesop’s fox, who says he doesn’t want grapes, never did,
after he tried to reach them and couldn’t.

In several illustrations of this scenario, the fox first walks
back and forth admiring the alluring grapes on the vine.

(It is the same with a man who loves a woman only
as long as she loves him and after that begins to call
her names and say he never loved her at all.)

Foxglove (splendid purple flower-bells
with sparkled throats — highly toxic,
also called digitalis.)

All this I offer on the word of a fox.

 

Tamara Miles teaches English and Humanities at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College in South Carolina. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of publications including Fall Lines; Pantheon; Tishman Review; Animal; Obra/Artifact; Rush; Apricity; Snapdragon; Cenacle; RiverSedge; and Oyster River Pages. She was a 2016 contributor at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and a resident at Rivendell Writers Colony in August, 2017. She hosts an audio poetry journal/radio show at SpiritPlantsRadio.com called “Where the Most Light Falls.”