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Christopher Hopkins

The Empty Chapel of Your Eyes

With the dying
of the softest light,
the lamp light calls
to the north stars
as the caged bird
closed up
to the swallow-tailed will,

and somewhere
an hour or two in the light dust west,
colours
are compacting,
like a torch light pressed
hard against the pinkest skin.

The infra sounds
are climbing into bed
with us.
You rest our eyes
in your palm of solace,
as a candlelight vigil.
Skin is translucent
in the colour blue,
(here,
but not here).

The marble light reflection
in the chapel of our eyes,
doesn’t burn as bright
as burnt wings
or the jointed bones
of Orion’s frozen copse,
and like my body
powerless.
All of these heavenly bodies
are without spines,
without warmth.
There is no freedom in the cold,
like a star
in the glare
of the Sun’s accomplice,
that spoiling moon.
My love,
look at me.
Do not think
I do not love you.
It is the stars
that disappointed me,
not you.
It is this universe
that moves apart.
I am by your side.

As I kiss away
your salt traces,
it is then
I am lost in this depth.
Sleeping in the yellow house.

 

Christopher Hopkins is a Welsh poet living in Faversham, Kent. He has received an IPPY and two Pushcart Prize nomination and for his debut chapbook ‘Take Your Journeys Home’. His second chapbook ‘The Last Time We Saw Strangers’ was released in June and has been nominated for another Pushcart for its poem ‘Iodine’ and the chapbook itself nominated for the CLMP Firecracker Award.  Christopher is widely published including poems in The Morning Star, London Grip, Riggwelter Press, Ghost City Review, The Cortland Review, Indianapolis Review, Mojave River Review, Ink Sweat & Tears and Rust + Moth.

http://hopkinspoetry.simpl.com

twitter: @HopkinsPoetry

Dick Jones

Morgan, Mulligan and Me

‘My Funny Valentine’
Art Farmer – trumpet
Gerry Mulligan – baritone sax
Bill Crow – bass
Dave Bailey – drums

There was
it seemed
a chance
after all

a chance
that in spite
of the thick
cat curve of

Morgan’s midnight
hair; the
electric green
surveillance of

those Cleopatra
eyes; the
devastating scorn
of that

elevated lip,
she might
just notice me
for all my looks

laughable un-
photographable.
A neutral party
told me late

one Tuesday
after lunch
and with all of
break before us
(this for the price
of my last
French cigarette)
that you had

a thing
a real thing
a kink for a
saxophone.

Where all
the other girls
had things for
a kiss-curl fall

or a hand
drooped limp
at the wrist
or a hip-switch

twist away from
the microphone
you favoured
the blue smoke

of a saxophone.
So it was tongue
and breath against
bone and sinew

and I knew that
this I could
accommodate
and more.

So when some
other afternoon
(the golden hour
gone grey with rain)

I saw you curled
alone along the
studio window seat
watching the wind

in the trees
along the drive
I slipped
the disc from

its whisky
amber sleeve
laid it like
an offering to

the turntable
lifted on
the stylus and
sat down across

the room
head bowed
hands clasped
in shadow.

Mulligan and
Funny Valentine:
the lemon slice
of Farmer’s

trumpet lead;
the distant bumble
of the baritone
before it lifts

its fuzzy head
and whispers
its sweet and
cruel put-down

praises up until
the two slow
circling voices
wood and wire

ice and water
drop together
wound into
that comic valentine.

And she uncoiled
raising shoulders
lifting hips turning
last her head

until like a
sideways sphinx
she watched cat
still cat steady.

Then she said
Encore and coiled
again but now
away from light

and facing shade
my shade.
She smiled. And
I smiled too.

 

Dick Jones

In 2010 Dick received a Pushcart nomination for his poem Sea of Stars. His first collection, Ancient Lights, is published by Phoenicia Publishing (www.phoeniciapublishing.com/ancient-lights.html). His translation of Blaise Cendrars’ influential epic poem ‘La Prose du Transsiberien…’ was published an illustrated collaborative edition with artist Natalie D’Arbeloff by Old Stile Press (www.oldstilepress.com/osp_book/trans-siberian-prosody-and-little-jeanne-from-france/)in 2014.

 

Gerry Mulligan Quartet – My Funny Valentine

 

 

Gareth Culshaw

The Loner in the Bar

He took hold of the pint glass
with his cash card fingers.

He nodded at the bar girl
like he knew her. She smiled

with fruit machine teeth.
He took out his ciggies,

placed one in his mouth
like he was back standing

in the schoolyard. His eyes
were losing light and needed

changing, but he carried on
into the dark.

He sipped his pint with a mouth
that was opened each morning

by a ring-pull. He came back in,
and saw the bar girl hold empties

with her two fingered hand. He
elbowed his pint, swigged it

with the shock of a man who finds
he has piles on a workday morning.

 

Gareth lives in Wales. He has his first collection out by futurecycle called The Miner.

 

Paul Vaughan

Ping Pong in the Afternoon

I see her on the Northern Line.
Knees clasped tight
she looks through me,
handles of table tennis bats
poking out of her handbag.

Later I hear her.
My office window open,
I type letters
to anonymous businessmen
click click click
and
across the way
she works harder
with slap! of ping pong bat
on middle aged buttocks
that whips my ears
slap slap slap.

I hear the men,
imagine eyes screwed tight, lips twisted
head shoved hard into pillow
ping pong bat rising and falling
slap slap slap on fat pink cheeks.
I click click click.

After work we gather and
she has a gin and tonic.
I talk shop with colleagues
pretending not to watch her
trying not to stare at
handles of table tennis bats
poking out of her handbag.

 

Paul Vaughan lives in Yorkshire with two cats and a wine-rack. His poems have appeared in Agenda, Acumen, Poetry Salzburg, Prole, Frogmore Papers, Obsessed with Pipework, Ink, Sweat & Tears and other places. Chief Editor of Algebra of Owls. Debut pamphlet due out in 2019.

 

Hannah Stone

Easter Hail Stones, Hanlith Moor 

The sky is surly today,
reluctant to twist the veil
and clothe us in its blue lining.

Spring trees are barely clad,
still stretch out their limbs
in dark longing.

After Gordale Scar refuses us
the moors embrace our feet;
saturated soil clogs our boots.

Then, sudden and brutal,
the weather front drops its pretence,
drapes us with white-out.

Hail stones beat and batter
any flesh exposed to its blows.
Visibility shrinks before our gaze.

This cold pierces Gortex layers,
stabs to the bones.
Cheeks redden from its flail.

Then, it is as if a hand
reaches down and lifts the scourge,
switches on the light.

There is a lane, pointing
in roughly the right direction.
On naked elders, birds start to celebrate.

We breathe new life
into stinging fingers,
raise bruised faces to the sun.

 

Hannah Stone has been widely anthologized and published on ezines and in The North, Dreamcatcher and other journals and collaborations. Solo publications include ‘Lodestone’ (Stairwell Books, York, 2016) and ‘Missing Miles’ (Indigo Dreams 2017). She collaborates with poets, composers and broadcasters. In other lives, she is a hillwalker, forager, singer and teacher.
Hannah’s new pamphlet, SŴN Y MORLOI ON PEN-CAER, is due in late spring 2019 from Maytree Press

 

 

 

Alisa Velaj

Seeded Like That, Loveless Altogether

Everything will end where it began.
The deviant northern winds on the leaf’s thorn
stink of nothingness.

I am cold, my Lord,
and wondering why this frost won’t leave the shores.
The zephyr neither will, nor need milden it…

Frigidness still remains its old self –
so seeded in the womb, loveless altogether.

Everything will recommence where it did not end.

The hostage-held souls
will long for the eagles’ freedom –
the single refrain over nights of regret,
where water is conceived of icy cactus ghosts…

Translated from Albanian:
ARBEN P. LATIFI

 

Albanian variant:

ASHTU I NGJIZUR KREJT PA DASHURI

Gjithçka do të ndalet aty ku filloi.
Erërat e marra në gjeth’ të gjembit
kundërmojnë asgjënë.

Kam ftohtë, imzot
dhe s’di pse s’më largohet ky acar prej brinjëve.
Klima detare as do ta zbutë, as nuk duhet.

I ftohti mbet’ sërish ai që ishte –
ashtu i ngjizur krejt pa dashuri.

Gjithçka do të fillojë aty ku nuk mbaroi.

Shpirtrat e lënë peng
do të ndiejnë mall për lirinë e shqiponjave –
i vetmi refren i netëve të pendesës.
uji që ngjizet nëpër vegime kaktusesh…

 

Alisa Velaj was born in the southern port town of Vlora, Albania in 1982. She has been shortlisted for the annual international Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in UK in June 2014. Her works have appeared in more than seventy print and online international magazines, including: FourW twentyfive Anthology (Australia), The Journal (UK), The Dallas Review (USA), The Linnet’s Wings (UK) The Seventh Quarry (UK), Envoi Magazine (UK) etc etc. Her poems will appear soon in “The Curlew Magazine” and “Poetry, Life & Time”. Velaj’s digital chapbook “The Wind Foundations” translated by Ukë Zenel Buçpapaj is published by Zany Zygote Review (USA). Her poems are also translated in Hebrew, Swedish, Romanian, French and Portuguese. Alisa Velaj’s poetry book “With No Sweat At All” (trans by Ukë Zenel Buçpapaj) will be published by Cervena Barva Press in 2019.

Aaron Lembo

Around the Campfire We Talk Poetry

You tell me I put too much stock
on the importance of the line, its break:
as unimportant as the classical books I read.

I take another swig from our bottle:
vegan wine, your favourite tipple…

You say you’re a child of Gaia
I say I am a child of God – I think –
we might decide they’re the same thing.

We both agree on the virtues of using
avocado and coconut oil as lubricant;

we each enjoy growing tight, curlicue
clumps of hair south of our waist.

We each take another hit on the pipe.
You tell me to strip and write a sonnet.

 

Aaron Lembo has had poems published in Magma, Obsessed with Pipework and in many online publications. He was the winning librettist of the 2017 Rosamond Prize and he has obtained an MA Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University. Currently he lives and teaches English in Salamanca, Spain.