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Bruach Mhor

George Now

Older, only slightly wiser, less clever.
Lets the duller plants go to seed.
Knows his corvids, knows his orchid names,
some important technicalities.
Nods to fellow villagers, moves on.

No church: the buzzard hill is a chapel
to this strictly-two-pint man.
Friendship has a small crew: all matter.
Hates talk shows. Reads about pods of whales,
falls asleep to downloads of their calls.

 

Bruach Mhor lives by a loch in the Hebrides. He is transitioning into a seal.
His poems have most recently appeared in The Lake, Plumwood Mountain, Emerald (Monstrous Regiment Publishing, Edinburgh).

 

Pauline Rowe

Late strings

I
hear –
hear
the
notes
of Beethoven’s late string quartet,
no 12 — encounter you once more in the
smokey sunlight, your tender hands moving
along my shoulder, more artist than
musician, that early Autumn moment in
a narrow bed, in your college-
room, composed. You
held in the notes
of this recording
the beginning –
all crackles then
sweet strings.
Words
matter much less as
we get older, as colours
lift themselves into the shallow
shadows of our minds. I imagine you
as you became, not that glamorous young boy
smiling – with the world calling, but a sadder, shyer
man. Love sealed and promised. Your joy disguised
by fatherly concerns, curiosity channelled into honest
pursuits, the making of small comforts, the work that
builds a home, muscle, momentum, feeling the cool
applause of winter rain on your face as you cycled for
hours alone, your mind on music-making and death,
bones, labour, heart, sweat, excellence in your good
children, pain, conversations with experts, some
quick forgetting of old long-lost abandoned
eccentricities, distant rituals of family,
odd friends gone, how you had to
improve, keep on and prove
worth, prove
yourself
over
and
o
v
e
r.
Beethoven, guiding light
for sorrow, for older reflection, for suffering, for suffering remembered and hidden in anxious age. In
stark black and white I drown in music, hold sound to my skin, rejoice that I knew you. Remember.

 

Pauline Rowe has  a doctorate in Creative Writing from the University of Liverpool.  She has two collections as well as being published in magazines and anthologies including Coast to Coast to Coast, Morphrog, The Reader, Smoke, The Rialto , Envoi, Orbis etc.,She is working on her third collection and a book about American poet, Frank Bidart.

Geraldine O’Kane

Stalked

i
‘Why don’t you like me?’
were the first words that wobbled
from your wide mouth with thinned lips.
Backed up by what I imagined at the time
were wanton tears. I have come to think of them
as a manufactured leaking of the eyes.
That first encounter was a small grief,
shocking but contained.

ii
Coffee requests came in quick abundance
enough to spike my anxiety to kick-in levels
stalling any one-to-one cravings, you harboured.

iii
Monitoring of my social media
ended in some ‘Tom and Jerry’ mayhem
with you demanding exactly which one
of the many events I clicked yes to
might I actually attend, you were exhausted
trying to work me out, was I threading you along?

iv
Instead you arrived at my event,
down turned eyes and shy smiles
offering soft laments to your miscarried babies.
The following time you read some easy just for laughs poems.
Culminating in a series of sexualised ditties
recited with your eyes directly on me.

vi
Next no reading at all but gifts
a candle, a poem, and a scarf,
knitted after a coffee shop epiphany –
to revive a six-year-old project
a way of recognising strong women
in your life. Was I in your life?

vii
Finally, the ransom, a demand to meet!
“This fooling around has gone on long enough.”
No white flag detected; you retreat –
‘blundering counsellors should not
have encouraged you to pursue people.’

viii
When your excuse didn’t smudge the edges
of my clipped reply, an attack –
your dogged pursuit an act of Christian charity,
someone must bring the loners into the light.

ix.
My first attempt at erasure:
outing you on social media
like a find the lady trick
poof you disappeared from view.

x
Two years on, it’s DVD night;
I choose ‘Enduring Love’ presumed a love story.
Saw nothing wrong when one man turned up
at the other man’s door after the briefest of encounters.
Then to his office, his usual café,
even his beloved book shop provided no sanctuary.
Uninvited, unannounced with wonton tears.
Suddenly the shadow of your words imbibes
the heat from my bones, I feel the weight of you
in my chest, expulsion had been too easy.

 

Geraldine O’Kane is a poet and mental health advocate. Her work has been published widely, recently Arlen House, Eyewear, FourXFour, Flare Magazine, and shortlisted for the Glebe House and Melita Hume poetry prizes. She edits of Panning for Poems. Her first collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in June 2020.

 

Gareth Culshaw

The Sky

When the cauliflowers have left the sky
leaving us with mushroom grey,
the birds sing songs we knew when young.

Last night the moon was someplace else,
and I felt I was in a bucket looking
up at the world outside of it.

Sometimes dogs leave paw prints of snow
on the skies face. The frost tickles each one,
and they shine all night long.

When it’s going to be hot the next day
someone paints the horizon with pink lipstick.
And heat lingers in the stones of our house.

If I leave the bedroom window open the sky
falls into our throats, and bats fly around
our brains until we wake and see butterflies.

 

Gareth lives in Wales. He had his first collection out in 2018 by Futurecycle called The Miner. In 2020, his second collection, called Shadows of Tryfan is released. He is currently on an MFA at Manchester Met. His biggest poetry fans are his two dogs, Jasper & Lana.

 

Edward Lee

This
for A

Into your loneliness
we place our voices,
hoping our words
might comfort your wounded heart.

We do not mean
to remind you
of all you have lost
by extolling the manifold virtues
of your husband
now gone, but we are foolish
in the face of grief,
never knowing whether
to share our own
or simply listen to yours.

In truth, we know, without knowing,
there is nothing we can do,
nothing better, nothing worse;
grief spreads its wings
and only flies
when it is ready to fly,

and it will fly,
it will spread itself
across the sky,
becoming a gentler being in your world,
lighter and more forgiving.

It will, it will.
This much I know.
This much, at least,
I can give you.

 

Edward Lee’s poetry, short stories, non-fiction and photography have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen and Smiths Knoll.  His debut poetry collection “Playing Poohsticks On Ha’Penny Bridge” was published in 2010. He is currently working towards a second collection.
He also makes musical noise under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Lewis Milne, Orson Carroll, Blinded Architect, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy.
His blog/website can be found at https://edwardmlee.wordpress.com

Jack e Lorts

Ephram Pratt Is Informed of Melodic Words

Celebratory as a
sparrow swallowing ink

scratched from the pen
of a silver poet

moving through
dying trees at dusk,

he finds fellow-travelers
wooing the spiders

and salamanders
inching their way

through the ether,
climbing trees of dust

and singing in
silent voices

heard only because
of the melodic

words tendered by
licentious artisans

practicing their arts
and showing their wares

in total abandon
of the virtue of invisibility.

 

Ephram Pratt Seeks an Invisible Door in the Sky

Frigid and living
in a bubble,

the voices he hears
are in shades of gray,

glossing over
his inconsolable

turgid nerve ending,
growing out of

belated seeds and bulbs,
gone before

his illusory targets
are taken from

the invisible door
he sees in the sky.

Build on the passing
dreams he

sketches in the air,
the ones he howls

and cries aloud for,
draining the emotions

from the illusory odor
he remembers so fondly.

 

Ephram Pratt Explores Imaginary Creatures

Spells assumed by
frozen bell jars,

taken in token silence
from sagely decorated

vibrations of cold fingers,
worn and radicalized

by too soft cream
delicacies.

Forge his hands and feet,
forward like

licorice awnings
veiled in silence,

by training wheels
hidden under

the soft fur of
an organdy intellect,

sewn into the backdrop
by a virgin seamstress

locked in combat
with dreams of

fairies and elves,
gnomes and brownies,

framed in secret
by wallowing urchins.

 

Jack e Lorts, a retired educator, lives in a small town in eastern Oregon. His “Ephram Pratt” poems appear widely online. Author of three other chapbooks, his collection “The Love Songs of Ephram Pratt” has appeared recently from Uttered Chaos Press.

Thomas McColl

Superheroine

They’d worked for years on the same floor,
but Ruth, the superheroine department head,
seemed to take no notice
of Mark, the mild-mannered clerk,
in his drab grey suit.

Mark, though, had always noticed Ruth,
and no-one knew
that Mark was a daring superheroine too,
who gained the power of femininity
by dressing up like Ruth
while alone in his flat.

Whenever he was Ruth,
it felt, to Mark,
as if he could rule the world –
but that was just in his private world.

Mark knew full well
that if a fellow clerk caught sight
of the way he dressed himself each night,
the fabric of every dress he owned
would change, in an instant, to kryptonite
to sap his power and shatter his dreams,

and the stares he’d get the following morning
would have the strength to burn like laser beams.

 

Thomas McColl has had poems published in magazines such as Envoi, Iota, Prole and London Grip. A collection, Being With Me Will Help You Learn, was published in 2016 by Listen Softly London Press, and his work is showcased in Co-incidental 4, published by Black Light Engine Room Press.