Waterford Nightclub – by Clifton Redmond

 

On Saturday night she’ll surrender,
offer herself to the ritual of scant skirt,
face paint and long boots, bulbs
of mascara dripping from her lids.
The pandemonium of The Temple,
its constant purge of drum and bass.

Raised above them, the messiah
of the glass box, preaching his trance
gospel to a scagged out congregation,
all cocktails, glow sticks, stamps on the backs of hands.
She’ll be kissing ecstasy, tasting Apollo,
searching for The Tribe of Levi,

flying in the face of strobe light angels.
Twenty yokes down she’s repenting
behind an alabaster Ford Escort at the back
of a car park in Ballybricken.
Later on when she comes down,
she’ll realise that God is not a DJ,

 find Jesus in her tears in the taxi home.

 

 

 

 

Clifton Redmond lives in Carlow, Ireland. He is a member of the Carlow Writer’s Co-operative and has had work published in Orbis, Antiphon, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Silver Apples and various other journals in Ireland, Britain and America. In 2015 he was long listed for the Over The Edge Poetry Contest and Shortlisted for the Fermoy International Poetry Prize. This year he was chosen to take part in W.I.S.P.A. (Welsh, Irish Spoken Word Alliance).

Sonnet 917-589-9XXX – by Drew Pisarra

 

u texted me on xmas 2 wish me
merry I texted u later 2 wish
u back rashly I sexted u happy
come NEW YEAR!! admittedly hornyish
my resolve now gone slack not looking not
not looking ears pealed 4 a ping & ping
me u did 10 minutes later we’re hot
& heavy in my hall & you’re doing
that thing you do those things you do we do
every time we get together but
it/s been quite awhile so the old felt new
well not quite new & frankly not quite hot
until you fell asleep & snored & snored
& held me in your arms as I grew bored

 

 

 

 

Drew Pisarra worked in the digital sphere on behalf of such TV shows as Mad Men, Rectify and Breaking Bad. His work has been produced off-Broadway and appeared in Poydras Review, Thin Air, and St. Petersburg Review, among other publications. His collection of short stories, Publick Spanking, was published by Future Tense eons ago.

 

Winners! May Poems of the Month

The poll has closed and the winning READERS’ CHOICE POEM for May (without needing any support from anyone else) is The man in the farmhouse – by Claire Walker. Many congratulations to Claire who will be getting a prize mug in due course.

The EDITOR’S CHOICE POEM was selected by Patrick Lodge. He had this to say.

“It was a joy to select the Editor’s Choice for May from poems embracing a quirky diversity of subject, structures, perspectives and ambitions. Some hard-edged and gentle; some hurting, some rollicking and downright funny, some epistolary or ekphrastic – they all clamoured to be chosen. Reading and re-reading (often in sleepless moments in the quiet rural night) produced a shortlist where poems kept emerging to demand more attention, to stake their claim. They argued on the basis of their sheer craft – often hidden by easy lyricism and rhythm. They made their case by their unsettling, enigmatic narratives, by taking the reader into a world where nothing, though familiar, quite clicked, by their emotional strength in the face of often gnomic challenge. So From Caitlin impressed with its lyrical lament for the ten year dead Dylan Thomas. So too did The man in the farmhouse with its simple, stripped back narrative under which ran undercurrents of potentially dangerous feelings in a world where the dividing line between human and animal seems wavy. Chairwoman also attracted with its sensitive depiction and its subversion of expectation.

In the end though, one poem drew me back repeatedly to its world – so the Editor’s Choice for May is The perennial problem by Alice Tomlinson. I liked the way the poet wrote deftly – almost lightly – about a highly pressured state that remains deliciously ambivalent – who or what is the “you”? The poem has an undercurrent of tension – a sense of dislocation, of everything being out of kilter, of everyone else knowing a secret that you don’t – which is unnerving. There is a sense of holding on which is supported by the measured stanza structure reflecting a desperate attempt at control. The language is carefully chosen – “crone” could not be bettered – wise woman or malicious witch or maybe both? The ability to create an atmosphere – a palpable sense of place – through smell, seeing, hearing is well done – not least because these senses which normally help order and understand the world do the opposite here. I liked too the resolution that is not a resolution with the powerful image of order temporarily restored by the head pressed on the windowpane. An excellent poem indeed.”

On the Day of the Dead – by Sergio Ortiz

 

On the day of the dead, Pablo put on his pants
one mummified foot at a time. It wasn’t
his fault, rain was the true culprit. Clouds
followed his feet for years, poured whenever
he tried to cut bread in the City of Glass.
His soles cracked, sprouting roots.

Julia entertained on her balcony,
levitating intimate secrets. People on 42nd Street
attributed her faculties to a Santero visiting
her family on the day she was born.
She stood tall and elegant like the mountains
to the south of Black Island, Pablo’s home.
Her face had traces of unforgettable pain.

They married. Julia, carried down the aisle
by two old lovers, found the last bottle of rum
hidden in the trash before the wedding.
She bled life into a gutter, no one recited her verses.
No one knew she was Ambassador to the Island of Poetry.

Pablo was one mummified foot at a time
closer to banging pots and starvation. Medicine denied,
orders from the dictator.

They are gone but I keep their marriage vows
to read out loud on The Day of the Dead.

 

 

Sergio A. Ortiz is a two-time Pushcart nominee, a four-time Best of the Web nominee, and 2016 Best of the Net nominee. Second place in the 2016 Ramón Ataz annual poetry competition, sponsored by Alaire Publishing House. He is currently working on his first full-length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.

Washed Up – by Chris Taylor

 

Along the waterfront, playthings of the rich
bob frivolous among reflections of million dollar hideaways.
Caribbean Explorer. Sunset Dream. Grateful Not Greedy.

Two blocks over, cast up on the steps of Central Library
[insert verb] piles of cardboard, canvas, human flesh –
cast-offs of Reagan and Bush, Abolitionism and the Chicago School.

Robyn asks me for a dollar.
Green eyes flash, red hair glows.
“I’m getting low right now. Food Stamp Card
is empty until the fourth.”
That’s a week away.

She rambles through her life story:
Oklahoma, two kids, three beautiful grandkids.
Teacher, Elementary School Head –
until four years ago when
her brain froze one side of her face.

Everything here is like eggshells.
Everything one slip from destitution,
one stroke from endless demise.
Everything here has someone’s name on it.
This street, this park, plaza, school, dining terrace –
fragile monuments to frail ego,
petrified of their own mortality.

Everything here is fragile.

I am fragile here.
I feel I would crack
if held too tight.

 

 

 

Chris Taylor lives in Yorkshire and is unofficial poet of The New Story. His poems, which are often blunt and heart-felt, channel a more beautiful future. Part political, part spiritual, his work avoids polemic while refusing to duck the issues of our age. Chris splits his time between writing and working as a life-coach, facilitator and mentor for people and organisations that are building a better world amongst the ruins of late-stage global capitalism.

It was when it was when it was – by Julie Sampson

 

Was it when we picked up pebbles under Cheldon bridge
watching stones skip
skim thrice
over water’s swash on the Little Dart?

When it was all three dogs,
Bob, Rex and Scot leap up from sleep
follow me along
criss-crossing lanes
to maunder in the reverie of woods and beside our river,
where when we stop on the rim of French Hill a barking trio echoes
from rill of wood-rill along
to underwater-rill.

It was when,
was it when I stand under ripening fruit late dusk in the orchard,
it’s almost dark and Sirius out, count three stars on Orion’s belt, how
Milky-Way shimmers lily-white
in our almost total zone of black?

When it was, it was time to go,
it was when it was time to let you go.
It was when, was it when?
It was when it was.

 

 

Julie Sampson’s poetry has been widely published and placed in several competitions. She edited Mary Lady Chudleigh; Selected Poems (Shearsman Books, 2009). A full collection, Tessitura, was published by Shearsman in 2014 and a non-fiction manuscript, was short-listed for The Impress Prize in 2015. Website here.

Glass Delusions – by Louise Warren

 

Later it all became clear to her,
how she had accidentally, as a child, swallowed a glass piano.
Therefore began to carry herself sideways, up and down the stairs,
the terror that she might fall, shatter or crack,
forever be holding her cracked shattered self.

Why a piano I wanted to ask?
Why not? Her voice shivered against the window,
the world is strange and alchemical, I was born into a furnace
then settled into a fragile transparency.
To possess such a thing, seen yet unseen, how else to make sense of it?

So she slept in straw, wore white, opaque, colourless, to deaden
or reflect the light, like snow, she was quiet in her movements,
avoided being touched, there was a vacancy in her gaze
when she looked out, yet within she felt unsettled,
constantly accommodating this otherness, a crescendo waiting to implode.

 

 

Louise Warren’s first collection A Child’s Last Picture Book of the Zoo won the Cinnamon First Collection Prize in 2012. In the scullery with John Keats was also published by Cinnamon in 2016. Her poems have appeared widely – Ambit, New Welsh Review, The Rialto, Poetry Wales and Stand. She was a winner in the Troubadour International Poetry Prize (2013 and 2015).

The Wolf, On Being Assembled – by Sheila Hamilton

You cut out a torso, a head,
and four legs, front, hind.
My beginnings.
You sand them, you join them,
you prime, you paint.

Then it’s a matter of fabrics and hair.
A soft undercoat.
Thick coarse guard-hairs
to protect against wind and blizzard.
Claws for grip.
A tail.
I begin to look wolf-like,
not totally at home in your studio.

Having worked all day on me,
bringing this wolf-ness to the fore,
wolf-ness, wildness,
it is no surprise that you dream about me,
tangled dreams of bracken and darkness.

In the morning, you fit me with strings, struts
that enable two poses:
all-fours, for chasing down or escaping,
and upright, for surprising people on doorsteps
You give me teeth.

 

 

 

Sheila Hamilton is a widely published poet. A new collection is forthcoming in 2017 from Green Bottle Press. She lives in the North West of England between Chester and Liverpool and is a reviewer as well as a poet.