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Ben Banyard

Exit Planet Dust

She looked up, all those nights
from her bedroom window,
marked out paths in the sky
where they’d flee.

Only the brightest stars
showed themselves in the city’s glare,
but they signposted
light years of travel.

Mum would have their bags
packed, a neat row in the hall.
There’d be another row,
the soft slap of fist on bone

and then they’d be off
without even closing the front door,
fast at first, stars smearing to white lines,
not one backward glance.

 

Ben Banyard lives in Portishead, near Bristol, UK. He’s the author of a pamphlet, Communing (Indigo Dreams, 2016) and a full collection, We Are All Lucky (Indigo Dreams, 2018). He blogs and posts mixtapes at https://benbanyard.wordpress.com and tweets @bbanyard.

 

Image: Waiting at Well Lane – ©David Coldwell.

Craig Dobson

Extinct

Now it’s gone, of course,
there’s much lamenting.
The talk is all of better things
we knew when it was here –
the crisp, sure crash of winter surf,
dog foxes barking in the night,
a wife’s girlish laugh again,
the delicate ruining of rain.

The worst of us have precious relics:
thimbles of ground bone, some parchment skin,
a fur laid gentle for its cure, coupling rites
at the last known nest site.

The old man kept one once.
Storm-broke, it lay by his fire for weeks.
Unfree, and maimed at that, he told us
all the same it changed his life.
He’d return from a fishing trip
empty-handed to find the objects
of his house buoyed in a light
he hadn’t known since youth.
Woke with the view of a town
he’d read of once but never seen,
a thousand miles away in the morning.
Flames sang, the old boy claimed,
when he laid the creature by.
A chorus of rooks and owls answered
its mewls, as did the winds themselves,
and his own sighs in winter silence.
But when he came to tell us the new weight
of stone, the boon of shells echoing a song,
the delicate absolution of cliff-born flowers
one late spring afternoon… we let him be.

Slunk back to the shame we’ve protected
ever since, heedless of the cost.
Now it has the run of things. From field edge
to shore, there’s not a gorse thicket or rotten bole,
not a broken wall or crevice anywhere
it doesn’t use to breed all season long.
A colony of remorse.

Foreigners we encourage.
Come in their disbelief to gawp
at the ancient culling sites,
they leave laden, easing us for a while.

In winter, there’s fewer –
only the desperate or deranged,
hounded by a need to chart
their sadness constantly.

The old man’s cottage is a shrine.
They stand there in ordinary light,
numinous at the loss while outside,
wheeling through the beggared sky,
gulls cry constantly, sounding
every gutter of the heart.

 

Craig’s had poems published in The London Magazine, The North, The Rialto, Agenda, Stand, New Welsh Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Under the Radar, Orbis, Butcher’s Dog, The Interpreter’s House, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Frogmore Papers, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Message in a Bottle, Magma and Prole. He’s got work forthcoming in Acumen, Antiphon, Neon and Lighten Up Online.

 

Laura Potts

Photographs

Their eyes I remember globes glass
in a camera, their past like an estuary light
in the dark. Sparks from the stars
are chiming here, chandeliers
from streetlamps in the park
mapping their own boulevard,
the night hours long and in love,
their life in their arms. Nightjars
on the lid of the pool, still bright:
the ghosts of a past
where there is always a light.

Away from then they are thirty years,
mother wit a candle in her eyes. Here
for the sleeper with his old wise light
the sun kicks spangles, coins bright
as the yesterday full in his smile.
The past, meanwhile,
a lukewarm light on their lips
at the edge of their sleep, something lit
by a childhood ballroom. I remember the moon,
a candles worth of film hung on its spool,
when we sat in that park, the garden asleep,

the stars that fizzed in the deep hot dark
still holding their breath for you.

 

Laura Potts, twice-recipient of the Foyle Young Poets Award, became one of the BBC’s New Voices last year. She was also listed in The Oxford Brookes Poetry Prize and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Laura’s first BBC radio drama aired at Christmas and she received a commendation from The Poetry Society in 2018. You can follow her on Twitter @thelauratheory_.

William Doreski

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.

 

Anthony Watts

The Gift

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

and collapsed
in glassy
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.

 

Thomas Zimmerman

Nocturne

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 ThreadPulp Poets Press, and Nice Cage. Tom’s website: https://thomaszimmerman.wordpress.com/

 

John Grey

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.
So relax.
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.