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Ruth Taaffe

Bottled

Past midnight. Paros, Greece. July
the sweetest month
to be alive, eighteen.
A dust-quiet street, a breather
from the dancing night

when a wavering man with white hair
came by us two
sitting as we were
on a bakery step closed
in between loaves and fishing
secretly for compliments
or catches with each other

he turned
unfocused to us
closer than breath
and said

“If you bottled what you have
between you now
and sold it as perfume
you’d make a fortune.”

I still remember your eyes
your name. Brown hands huge
slender, holding mine.
I keep this night bottled
and breathe it in from time to time.

Ruth Taaffe is from Manchester, UK and currently lives in Singapore where she is the Head of English at an International School. Ruth is an MA student of Creative Writing with Lancaster University and some of her poems have been published in the online journal Creative Writing Ink as well as in print in Acumen.

Bethany W Pope

The Visitation

Over a decade later, I returned.
We drove past the run-down McDonald’s, through
the solitary crossroad (with one dangling,
unreliable streetlight) next to
City Hall and the peeling antiques shop
where I used to steal comics. My husband
cranked up the radio when we passed
the field where I saw the songbirds bound up,
flattened by twine in square hay bales. I
remembered the feel of their dead feathers.
I had entered that old familiar state, that
dangerous (necessary) cold I wore
when I was desperate. I drove without
the GPS. I’ll always know my way
home. On campus, past the white clapboard church
Where children spat chewed fragments of the Host
onto the dusty floor while I prayed
and dug my nails into my palms until
they bled, past the office where my social
worker lurked, hunched behind her plywood desk,
and the defunct high-school where I left behind
a tooth. I parked the rental in front
of the cottage where I spent my first year.
The windows were dark (not blind) and there
were dead leaves and a rusted tricycle
husking the porch. No one lived there anymore,
except my ghost. I could still smell the bright
residue of blood and bleach; the scent
of my loss. I could feel Fallon’s breath,
hot and sweet on my neck, and the cold line
of her razorblade shiv tracing the veins
in my throat. My husband said, ‘You don’t have
to do this.’ He said, ‘You’ve made it. I’m proud
of you. You know you can rest.’ I walked
around the high stone walls, the decayed
camellias, until I found the window
whose bars I could never seem to pry
away and break. I’d brought a copy
of the book I wrote and I held it
so that the cover showed, ‘You can take
the picture now. I’m ready.’ There was a click.
Then we climbed into the car again
(a rental, without memory) and drove.

Ceinwen Haydon

Piazza Di Santa Marta

I share my outside table,
my glass of wine,
with dust-winged moths
drawn toward guttering candles –
the bar’s front window
catches my flat image,
framed by floral, twisted iron.

I glimpse my facsimile.
Bleached features, leeched of hope.
My lime-green dress drapes insults
over creased flesh and creaking bones.

Then, tectonic plates shift time.
My old lover happens by
with sightless eyes. His silver cane
taps apart curtained memories

My dizzied pulse quickens,
fancy flares again. Invisible, I gaze,
through billowed smoke,
see once more the twilit windowpane.
I am caught. Reflected, smudged –
a fey impression of my younger self.

Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon
Ceinwen 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 has an MA in Creative Writing [Newcastle 2017]. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

@CeinwenHaydon

Hongri Yuan

Strings of The Light of Dawn

When I plucked strings of the light of dawn
A golden lightning burned a huge city
The undulating hills in distance twinkled the ruby smile
Vaguely there came acoustic resonance of the bell
from the center vault of heaven
Who have seen that the palace was towering outside the sky
The gods smiled with stately grace and raised their glass
And a large ship approached from another galaxy
They came from a huge platinum city
Their ships were much faster than the speed of light
Ever visited the earth billions of years ago
They brought new technology
To make the steel have a wonderful spiritualism
Their eyes can perspect the heaven and the world
Heart is as bright as the sun
And body is as transparent as diamond

黎明之光的琴弦

当我弹拨这黎明之光的琴弦
一道金色闪电燃烧了一座巨城
远方起伏的群山闪烁红宝石的笑容
天穹的中央隐隐传来钟磬的和鸣
谁看见那天外的金殿巍巍
诸神庄严含笑
举杯庆贺
天女洒下了漫天的曼陀罗花
而一艘巨轮正在另一个星系驶来
他们来自一座白金巨城
他们的飞船比光速更快
亿万年前曾访问地球
他们带来了新的科技
让钢铁拥有奇妙的灵性
他们的眼睛可透视天地
心灵光灿如太阳
而身体透明如钻石

Hongri Yuan, born in China in 1962, is a poet and philosopher interested particularly in creation. Representative works include Platinum City, The City of Gold, Golden Paradise , Gold Sun and Golden Giant. His poetry has been published in the UK, USA ,India ,New Zealand, Canada and Nigeria.

Matt Duggan

Vision

Eye plates diluted for a world we couldn’t see
we see clearly the crooked roots when older;
never see blue oceans and sky in blood orange;

turning a second eye from what should never be
we’ll help the lungs of earth begin to falter –
eye plates diluted for a world we couldn’t see;

If our children are beaten and bleed
we shall help with the flow of a blood culture;
never see blue oceans and sky in blood orange;

Our planet a smog of beauty and black streams
though our sight could never be altered,
eye plates diluted for a world we couldn’t see.

designed our living quarters with plastic trees
we gazed from neon into high voltage;
never see blue oceans and sky in blood orange.

Built division into our mapped psyche
placed us like experiments in storage –
eye plates dilated for a world we couldn’t see;
never see blue ocean and sky in blood orange.

Matt was born in Bristol. 1971, and lives in Newport, Wales his poems have been included in various journals such as The Potomac Review, The Oxford Magazine, The Journal, Marble Poetry Magazine, Confluence, The Poetry Village, The Dawntreader, Osiris Poetry Journal, The High Window, in 2015 Matt won the erbacce prize for poetry with his first full collection “Dystopia 38.10” and in 2016 won the Into the Void Poetry Prize with his poem “Elegy for Magdalene”, his second full collection “Woodworm” is now available and published by Hedgehog Poetry Press, Matt also was one of the winners of the Naji Naaman Literary Prize 2019, and in 2020 his new collection “The Kingdom” will be published by Maytree Press in April/May.

Brett Evans

Now Gwynus Decorates His Cell Wall Red
Pwllheli, 1963

The door slammed its explosion,
a naked bulb hung like a conviction.
Comfort was sought in graffitied walls –
initials of Saunders Lewis
scribbled from ’36 he liked to think.
Despite an evening in such company,
come morning those walls began
to nudge and jostle, graze and bruise.
And Owain fought back
as Owains do; beat bare walls
‘til raw knuckles birthed dragons
on a Wales that had never boasted
such confined spaces.

 

Brett Evans, lives, writes, and drinks in his native North Wales. He is co-founder and co-editor of poetry and prose journal Prole. Brett’s two poetry pamphlets, The Devil’s Tattoo (2015) and Sloth and the Art of Self-deprecation (2018) are published by Indigo Dreams.

Victoria Pickup

Little did I know

There was a someone out there
the North to my South
and he spoke with a Mancunian accent.

That when he was growing his lungs
in an incubator, with no one to visit him
I hadn’t come into existence yet.

I watched the rise and fall of his tiny chest
from the ether.

When at last I came screaming into this world,
he would be building sandcastles under Blackpool lights
and placing his toys in a box for the third time.

That when I was revising for my GCSEs
He was sitting his A levels, both bowed
before Post It note shutters on cupboard doors.

We’d have the very same desk lamp from Argos,
our funnel of light.

That we’d lose our virginities simultaneously
sharing in pain and heartbreak, balancing
the giddy skip of infatuation on a see-saw –

it’s base set in the Midlands,
somewhere around Loughborough.

That I didn’t know what real love was.

 

Victoria Pickup is a previous winner of the Ernest Frost Prize and Café Writers competition. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies, magazines and online, most recently Nine Muses, Peeking Cat, Runcible Spoon and Reach Poetry. In 2018, Victoria co-founded the Inkpot Writer’s Group in Hampshire.

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