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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.

 

Cameron Morse

Daylight Saving Time

We lose an hour in the ocean blue of early morning,
an hour we might have spent sitting together
at the varnished butcher’s block of the kitchen table,
eating scrambled eggs with hemp seeds.
Cutting an avocado
in half, you might have offered me the seedless, hassle-free
hemisphere and kept the trouble for yourself.
I might have urged
you to drink your water because you are always forgetting.
In our lost hour, we might have cuddled on the sofa
in my study, watching the first half of a movie.

Instead, you dream of losing me again.
You are in your dream when the clocks change.
You are in your dream when the sparrows awaken
in the dark heart of the yew.
The hour is not lost to them
for they know only the lightening sky. In the pallor,
I tell you not to cry. An hour cannot be lost,
not one minute of it, and I will not die so soon.

 

Description of a Typical Day for My Continuing Disability Report

If government is muted and muffled
    People are cool and refreshed.
    If government investigates and intrudes,
    People are worn down and hopeless.
        —Lao Tze

On a typical day, I wake up with cancer,
spoon coconut oil onto polymer.
Its iceberg of healthy natural fat pirouettes
above the spreading puddle.

If my cancer cells require glucose, I give them
ketones. I beat ketones into my eggs.
On a typical day I drink six cups of coffee,
pouring them out of my thermos, little
by little, into stoneware. I reserve
the morning of a typical day for psalms

of blastoma, the songs of my cells, an uncontrollable
division of angels on the head of a pin, the tip
of a needle. I fill Moleskine after Moleskine
with the concrete details of a typical day,
its dishes hot out of the washing machine,
the smell of laundry in the nostril
of the exhaust fan, a rusty spade left out in the rain.

 

Ketogenic Diet

In the end, I eat nothing.
I starve myself to kill my cancer.
Closing my eyes, I listen for the cheep
of baby sparrows, eager,
insisting on new life. I could sit here
for a thousand years and never see
beyond this moment, this sweet breeze
of heaven, sunlight glancing
among the amputated branches.

In the meantime, I live by faith,
faith in the ketones I lick off my fork
and spatula, faith in the omelet
it takes two hours to slurp and swallow.

I infuse spoonfuls of olive oil into my blood.
The omelet that floats atop my plate
like a pontoon boat in the healthy natural fat
its eggs cannot absorb is my rescue.

At Chinatown Food Market,
I throw up the yellow shell, clumps
of mushroom, the leafy slime of spinach.
I retch and up comes the coconut
oil you blend into my coffee. Dumpster flies
flurry on the loading dock.

 

In support of World Cancer Day, we are honoured to publish three poems from Cameron Morse from his yet unpublished collection, Sinophile.

Sinophile is a collection of poems on the subject of Cameron’s glioblastoma (GBM) diagnosis, the most aggressive and malignant form of brain cancer. Cameron is now in his fourth year on a 14.6 median life expectancy. As such, Sinophile deals with chemo, radiation, blood draws, medications, diets, a dire prognosis and the life of a cancer patient.

 

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