Infants Sacrificed to Sun-Gods
You look as if your secrets
are having second thoughts. Pale
as a case of flu, the autumn sky
unlimbers its lack of focus
and attaches itself to your breast.
Meanwhile the football scores add up
to terrible sums I can’t cover
with my failing retirement account.
We should combine our intellects
and pay off the small politicians
that den all winter in the woods.
We should refuse to gratify
the gestures adolescence imposed
when the last halos descended.
Why shouldn’t the pink horizon
last all day, basting us in plunder?
Yesterday browsing the local
cafeteria, you found the bones
of infants sacrificed to sun-gods
whose rule has never ruled you.
Your complaints to the management
went unheeded, and police
couldn’t distinguish those bones
from those of dogs or badgers.
Now everything looks and tastes
different: sour and too thick
to swallow. I can’t help you
because those were just chicken bones,
not the bones of little humans
expended to compliment power
greater than the pink and pearl of sky
and almost as well-imagined.
William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His new poetry collection is A Black River, A Dark Fall.
Bearing its gift, the wave comes riding
the iron horse of the sea. It has travelled many miles
to deliver this tightly-rolled secret,
which only now – on the lip of the shore –
it reveals – as it heaves into view
a wall-high testimony –
a map made of foam –
but before you can fathom its meaning, the wave
has swallowed it whole
fragments on the sand.
Anthony Watts has been writing ‘seriously’ for over 40 years. He has won prizes and had poems published in magazines and anthologies. His latest collection is The Shell-Gatherer: http://www.overstepsbooks.com/cat/the-shell-gatherer/ . His main interests are poetry, music and walking.
The dark outside has made the windows mirrors.
Slight chill curls around my legs, a shark
that visits when I fret. The hope that keeps
me bundled tight is knotted twice but fraying.
All my friends self-medicate. I do
the same: strong coffee in the morning, stronger
beer and sometimes scotch at night. My wife
has got a shoe that squeaks. I hear it now,
and now the clicking of a leash’s metal
lobster-claw. We walk. The moon’s no help:
it only makes the dogs go loco. Now where
drifts to nowhere. Whine of tires on
the nearby interstate crescendos, ebbs,
then rolls and darkens like the ocean’s moan.
Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits The Big Windows Review https://thebigwindowsreview.wordpress.com at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. His poems have appeared recently in Rasputin: A Poetry Thread, Pulp Poets Press, and Nice Cage. Tom’s website: https://thomaszimmerman.wordpress.com/.
The Road Between
I’m headed west across a Plains state
and to my right is the same as to my left.
Outside is warm and bright
and I’m thinking to myself,
that if those silos held missiles instead of grain
then the entire East Coast could be in danger
but that’s another story.
This is about being in my five-year-old Camry,
with the air-conditioner and the radio on,
a station playing their “Bob Seger marathon”
as if these cornfields are stuck back in the 70’s.
I should be anxious to be elsewhere but I’m not.
Rule number one of travel is
that wherever you are, your journey owns it.
Take your surrounds for what they are
and what you’re not.
My wife is sleeping.
Why shouldn’t she.
Flat straight roads are like taking a pill
when your hands aren’t on the wheel.
The map sits on her knee like a blanket.
No use asking you how far are we from Des Moines.
Of course, I do have company,
other than her snores, and that old time rock and roll.
There’s poles and wires
interspersed with perching crows and grackles.
And not forgetting farmers nudging tractors
up and down and across the land.
The beauty of the Midwest.
is that it’s not beautiful.
The senses are as likely to be staggered
as Bob Seger is to be the future of music.
It’s like a book with lots of words
but not much in the way of illustration.
Funny but those are the kind of books I like.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Harpur Palate and Columbia Review with work upcoming in the Roanoke Review, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.
Image: Land Ocean – David Coldwell.
Don’t Break the Tea Circle
The room sweeps from front porch to back lawn.
The Chinese carpet grips billowing seats
guarded by gold brocade cushions; curtains
swagger at the windows. We stand, them and us,
a circle round a coffee table.
I arrange a smile, ‘Her end was peaceful.’ My smile
repeats in great-aunt’s lips, her eyes
spy on the carpet, ‘So thoughtful to come this way.
Do have some tea,’
passing the Doulton and silver jug. My feet
are killing; she could say ‘… a seat.’ We go on standing;
even the bump. ‘You could’ve phoned.’ Cousin with bump.
I drink. She sighs. An old quarrel wearies
round the chairs, but cushions and flounces are battlements.
No rest for the past.
Loose covers beckon, my skirt would blend,
but sitting is an armoured declaration. I stand.
There’s refuge in tradition: the weather glossed
with traffic jams and roads. We compare routes.
I sneak a glance at the cushionless grandfather chair.
I think, ‘Don’t go there. Let your feet,
from all the standing, hurt.’
E. A. M. Harris has been writing for some years and several of her poems and flash stories have appeared in print and online magazines and anthologies.
She blogs at http://eamharris.com/ and tweets as E A M Harris @Eah1E.
Dad in Jarrow, 1936
Ower lives scurry down th’ drain,
waa thin shadows run up aa waal.
Night an’ day’s just aa change o’ name.
Now can ye hear th’ bairns bawl?
An’ wi aal knaa that hunga kills.
Granny kneels an’ prays, hor voice shrill,
aa’ve nevva had aa God ti thank.
Lads an’ lasses in sodden claes
livin’ wi’ th’ smell that is rank,
an’ it clings through these hope-less days:
waa deed, an’ nae one’s had tha fill.
Hope Street Jarrow, 1953
I am in the street.
Mrs Storey’s not below.
Mrs Thompson’s door
sun running up the stairs
with some errant child,
I run to our house.
Sweat hangs in me hair,
underpants rammed in my arse,
shit running down my six-year-olds legs.
The man with tattoos
springs down the street,
lamp post light running after him.
Tom was born in Jarrow and now lives further up the Tyne at Blaydon. He has had a varied career from his first job in a Jarrow shipyard Time-Office; to a song writing contract and writing the BBCTV musical documentary Kelly, with Alan Price. He has had a great deal of work produced by the Customs House, South Shields, a venue he regards as home, with six full-length stage plays, including I Left My Heart in Roker Park which has been produced four times. Tom’s musicals include: The Dolly Mixtures, Geordie, Tom & Catherine, Dan Dare, The Machine Gunners (all but Geordie written with John Miles). In 2016 he was a runner-up in the Journal Culture Awards, in the Writer of the Year category, for Geordie-The Musical, produced by the Customs House in 2015 and reprised in October 2017 at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle. 2016 also saw his eighth poetry collection Spelk published and subsequently re-printed by Red Squirrel Press. Of late his poetry has appeared in a number of UK magazines and in the anthology Land of Three Rivers-The Poetry of North-East England. He is currently Writer-in-Residence at the Word, South Shields
Subcutaneous jabs by prongs
of past: one can’t negate slights
of history. Hating isn’t a hobby.
In a redoubt I culled my reality.
I found womb in words. In
haphazardness my heaven. In
bedgasm I juked blockades
for salutation by sunbeams.
Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). He has been published in more than 25 countries. Some credits: Arfur, Ink Pantry, Morphrog 16, London Grip, Poydras Review, Litbreak, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.