I am holding two whole shillings of nothing, observing its heaviness, its uselessness.
Not for the first time have I perceived the weightiness of light
and air, for that which does not exist, read the minds of brilliant poets
of salmon leaping disappearing weirs and felt a type of sadness
for that woman who held two shillings, two perfectly preserved apples
of mind’s eye; for I too have clasped concrete blocks of nothingness
and in darkness felt the throat of the rasping actor’s voice.
For I am folklore never proven, the promise of a golden day scratched clear.
What values can we place on unknown treasures? How best to hide
and store our hoard of what we never found nor pillaged?
And I too have sensed forgotten purpose, the endless woman sifting
for her dead-long child, spores floating over scorched ground or an invention
of utter brilliance, never used. And in younger days I experienced loss
of that which does not exist, for a love I never had or never knew, for words
that were never born and never used to describe places I had never been.
For all the times I didn’t know myself for what I was or was to become.
Now I have joined the assembly line of uncertainties, small creations of the adept
universe, conceiving into being. I am the honey bee of my reality,
collector of ideas. I am the keening widow of memories I never had.
So, amongst these lines I will rest somewhere, neither at its beginning
nor completion, but like the salmon languishing in pools of in-between;
not really knowing why or knowing when and not really caring all the same.
Vinny, from Galway, is widely published in poetry journals and anthologies both abroad and at home. Some journals and online sites that have featured his work include Crannog, Ofi Press Magazine, Boyne Berries, Windows 25th edition and Cinnamon Press anthology. He will be the featured writer in American based journal Parhelion later this year. He has been placed or shortlisted in numerous competitions during his short time writing. He is working towards a first collection.
Where have you gone
You screaming wanderer?
For all the summers of my life,
You have briefly brightened the air
With your joyous yelling,
Around the steeple
Between the rooftops
Your dusky sickle darting through the sky
And your never ceasing flight,
An answer to the morning.
Matthew Walsh is a doctor, runner, lover of nature and wild places. Lover of words and music.
Waters in a Broken Pot
My only pot broke on the way to the stream
And smashed smithereens of hope
Seeping crumbled dreams
Through the smokescreen
Of the overwhelming deluge
That came after the thunder.
Wistful memories flared in the dark
Wisps of its smoke rose upwards above the skyline
Crumpling up the surging bodies of the duck pond
Once sopped wet with mosses and ferns.
Hereabouts, it thunders again
And I cannot hide from its claps
Sprinkling beads of gooseflesh
Dazzling on every pores.
In my earshot, cock crew at noon
My fears strained in its echoes.
Spider’s webs weaved in my hearing
Because night fell during the day
Suffused with mists of deep sorrows.
A world staved in my heart
World of seers among the soft-green hills.
Trickle of tears, hot and unsavory
Spluttered on the freckled leaves.
And the birds and their nestlings
Stampeded into the womb of the forest
At the fall of the Iroko.
My only earthenware pot of water
Slipped from my head and crumbled
In my twilight dream, frail and elusive
Its fountain lingering in my mind.
James Onyebụchi Nnaji comes from Ụmụerọ, Isiụzọ Local Government, Enugu State, Nigeria. He studied English in the University of Nigeria at Nsukka, where he also served as the Editor of The Muse: A Journal of English and Literary Studies, Number 39. His writings have appeared in Drumtide Magazine, New York City; USA, Sentinel Nigeria, The Muse, African Crayons Magazine, The Nasiona Magazine, The Curlew Magazine,Wales,UK,Ògèlè: An Anthology of Creative Literature Vol.2 and Sunday Nation. He was 2009 first and second Prize Winner, Pre-Literary Art Festival Poetry Competition, University of Nigeria, Runner-up, The Muse Poetry Prize 2010, First Prize Winner, University of Nigeria Literary Art Festival Poetry Prize 2011 and Emeka Anuforo/University of Nigeria Prize for the Best Literary Artist of the Year. He was 2019 joint third prize winner alongside Noorui Huda, a Pakistani writer, at Poetry Matters Project Literary Prize in Augusta, Georgia, USA. He lives in Enugu, Nigeria.
Letter pieces thrown from board,
I wait until they drop.
Except, not quite, I speak of ready words,
the dictionary pages torn,
then through a hungry shredder fed.
I take the slithers out of their place,
remaining neighbours, never less.
‘Components’ for ‘ingredients’, I scrabble for my word;
the tip of tongue, I know am wrong,
but know the thinking right.
Right notes but in the order wrong
as Eric Morley said,
or was it Morecombe, not Miss World,
with chubby little friend.
Les Dawson on piano, with confidence I play,
yet though the Lord’s Prayer, obvious,
alternative, the service made.
I can think silently, fish gasping for my term,
or float its neighbour, maggot hook,
hope close enough to reel.
I might consume Crabb’s synonyms,
helped glass of ginger wine,
a change of letter, sound almost same,
some journey in my mind.
Stephen Kingsnorth, 67, is retired from ministry in the Methodist Church, living in north Wales. (He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease five years ago, and has been writing poetry for some 9 months)
All For a Song
The radio was playing something country.
Hank Williams, George Jones, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson –
the reception was too crackly to hear.
But the cabbie knew it well enough.
Good-old-boy music was the very core of his being.
At least, he sang along like we were in Nashville
not negotiating a Providence rainstorm.
Of course, I have my own misplaced soundtrack.
It rides those bumpy South Queensland backroads,
drawls its maudlin heartbreak tune from cheap car radios.
No ten-gallon hats. No glittery rhinestones.
Not a honky-tonk woman in sight.
My song comes with its own hard-luck stories.
Plus a few sheep. Some cattle. Drought of course.
Anything the landscape can do to squash a dream.
But there’s no denying that abject misery can be hummable.
It’s been long years in America but I’m still Australian,
rendered low from time to time by homesickness,
even with everybody dead or gone every-which-way,
and dairy-farm-land diced up for development, gated communities,
small towns now cemeteries, bush bulldozed, streams drained,
skies made ordinary, once grassy ground ruled by cement.
But sometimes a song is the remedy for being elsewhere.
In chords, in notes, old times reassert themselves,
family not seen years, friends I’ve lost contact with –
Would I know them? Would they know me?
Does anybody but me remember that cabby?
“The Dying Stockman” and “The Old Bullock Dray” say “Yes.”
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
That, Muse, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming
in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Hawaii Review and the Dunes
The Fallen Tree
The winds had returned by the time
I finally got around to finding the spot
they had all been talking about.
On another day, it could have been one of any
silenced contender littering the muddy ridge.
But when I saw it, I knew. Fallen back
from the top bank onto the sloping field –
appearing as if mid-fall – its weight
taken by the land. Bushels flailing, grasping air,
writhing in the wind, I half-circled
sizing its shapeless mass spread out
like a grounded hot-air balloon.
The nosing dog backed off
as it fanned alive once more.
Then ceased to stillness. Its fluttered feathers fell,
darkened. Had those across the water heard
its leafy collapse, its unseasonal crash?
Bending down to stroke the once sunned,
slipped crown that stood high
and anonymous among the lined crowd,
had I realised before what lives lived
in such an abundance of leaves –
almost stepping on the still-attached acorns
resting at my feet.
Peter Burrows is a librarian in the North West of England. His poems have appeared in The North, The Interpreter’s House, Ink, Sweat and Tears, and most recently in Coast to Coast to Coast, Marble Poetry, The Curlew, Dodging the Rain, Bonnie’s Crew, and shortlisted in the Hedgehog Press Cupid’s Arrow competition.