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Matthew Walsh

Swift

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.

James Onyebuchi Nnaji

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.

Stephen Kingsnorth

Scrabble

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)

Chris Hardy

House Hunting

What happened to Mrs B
who lived in Beaufort street?
Offered us a place
and didn’t take it back
when she first saw us,
out at heel, one case,
baby in a basket.
She kept faith
and handed us the key.

Then we wronged her,
ran away, erased
from the directory when
we turned the corner
in a hired van,
all four of us in front,
watching out for cops
while waiting to cross
at the junction
on Wandsworth road.

Beds, books, pots, guitars
packed in the back,
pulled up outside a terrace
with a purple door,
bare wires in the hall,
a roof of cracked
Welsh slate.

*

When you asked,
Do you want to die in this house?
that was unexpected
as we were driving north
on the A3 at the time
and my answer,
I’m going to live for ever,
didn’t help.

We’ve been here too long,
so we search down backstreets
in south coast suburbs,
anywhere the sea suddenly opens
its unforgiving horizon
and reassuring breath.

But if we‘d moved ten times
since nineteen eighty
we’d still be on the A3,
wondering what to do
with the time we think
we have left.

Chris Hardy has been widely published. He is a member of  LiTTLe MACHiNe, described by Carol-Anne Duffy as The most brilliant poetry band in the world. His collection, ‘Sunshine at the end of the world’ was published by Indigo Dreams.

A guitarist and poet Chris Hardy hits the right note, never a false note, (Roger McGough).

John Grey

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
Review.

 

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