Sonnet B² – by Drew Pisarra

 

B is for brains and beat-up bifocals,
black and blue elbows and bad overbites,
brooding brown eyes and biceps like baseballs.
B is da bomb! So where were you last night?
Blah-bitty-blah-blah. I’ve heard that before –
the best laid bullshit this side of Beijing:
Keep blaming that buddy from Baltimore,
and I’ll bash in your Buick. Stop babbling.
You beat ‘round the bush. You’ve burnt every bridge.
You’re bruising and blighting beyond beyond.
Now bye-bye be-yotch I bitterly bid.
The billionth botch-up will break any bond.
The best was basically what came before.
Bygones are bygones. Go bless the back door.

 

 

 

For the last two years, Drew Pisarra has been writing sonnets inspired by a Venezuelan philosophy professor who dumped him, and by the meaning hidden behind certain numbers as well as letters used to represent numbers in algebraic equations. 

 

Jump – by Jasmine Shahbandi

 

If your elevator breaks free and drops,
Jump.
Jump up and down.
Your chances are 50-50.

Don’t try to outrun a car,
but if one takes you by surprise,
Jump.
Your odds are better
if you’re thrown to one side
and not run over.

If you are lost in snow, very cold,
and a Saint Bernard delivers a keg of brandy,
Don’t touch it.
Alcohol opens the blood vessels,
siphons off heat.
Hold on to the dog instead. Dogs are warm.

Soak your lettuce in bleach,
for twenty minutes to half an hour.
Don’t weaken your eyes by wearing glasses.
Don’t worry about living to a great age.
Great age breeds all kinds of foolishness.
Get a seat over the wing,
and don’t wear synthetics when flying.
If your plane catches fire
you want to be wearing cotton or wool.

Before the internet,
I had my father,
preparing me for life in short instructions.

 

 

Jasmine Shahbandi is a visual artist whose poems appear in Nowhere But Here, and Sea Above. She lives in California where she champions lost causes and errs on the side of optimism.

Religion of the Species – by Giles Turnbull

 

Frog knows He’s green
and has a tongue sticky for lies,
enigmatically glamorous
with feet that all have kissed.

Squirrel looks up to the sky
from tree trunk home,
Yggdrasil etched into the inside wall;
listens to the gospels
from the birds.

Worm believes He can be halved beyond the atom
without fading away
reincarnation and regeneration
can explosively grow another tail.

Bee knows She is female
intensely sweet
with nectar
of death overcoming.

Spidergod knows there are many unbelievers
six quadrillion at last count,
pity every single soul
bless their cotton socks
their 48 kneecaps
and their hairy legs.

Baby hamster prays
to Mother Supreme
asking that She won’t eat her children
when they’ve had enough
of listening to her stories.

 

 

 

Giles L. Turnbull is a blind poet. Originally from Harrogate, he
studied chemistry at Swansea University and has lived in south Wales ever since, apart from two years in London and a 5-year sojourn
Stateside. His debut pamphlet Dressing Up is published by Cinnamon Press. More info here.

 

Anne Caldwell – Guest Editor for November/December

We are really pleased that the Editor’s Choice Poem for November/December will be chosen by Anne Caldwell.

 

Anne grew up in the north-west of England and has been a keen reader all her life. Her poetry has been published in a range of anthologies (in the UK and internationally) as well as in many British magazines including Writing Women, The North, Poetry Wales and Quattrocento. She finished an MA in poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2007, and performs all over the UK. She won an award to attend the Wired Writing Programme at The Banff Centre in Canada in 2008 and published a pamphlet called Slug Language with Happenstance. She lectured in creative writing at The University of Bolton, and also worked for NAWE, The National Association for Writers in Education (www.nawe.co.uk) as their Programme Director. She is currently undertaking a PhD in prose poetry. Her latest book Painting the Spiral Staircase was published by Cinnamon Press in Spring 2016. In 2017, she was shortlisted for the Rialto pamphlet competition for a collection of prose poems, some of which have been anthologised in three collections in Australia.

Many of her poems explore the tensions between the domestic and the wild, the down to earth and the dark recesses of the imagination. Talking to The Dead leaves me with the sense of touch – skin to skin – and the image of a woman not drowning but transmuting, into something rich and strange‘ – Amanda Dalton.

 

The Hardness of Geometry – by Dave Kavanagh

 

Painting the brilliance of sky. My core touching the softness of elder bark in a frantic, static shock world of arc bright white. The wind up here is sharp and pungent, redolent of hops and burnt grain and diesel fumes. My tongue craves surf and salt and the tang of marsh and mud. My nose the clean stink of razor fish and clams. Mouth tasting in anticipation, chowder and pan fried mackerel.

I am blinded by reflections, glass bouncing a million tiny suns in a billion shattered directions. Men sitting on lunchtime pales and struts. Rivet herders, city fellows that sing songs of Philadelphia streets and fast cars, scarlet molls and gangster rappers. Nothing here of sheep on green banks or black and white wisps chasing whistles and fleece back to cirrus framed barns or the silence of my land.

The lemon blue of the dollar clashes with the hardness of geometry, uprights blinding sight of rivers and lakes. The world seen through a matrix of welders art and rivet guns and bolts as wide as Mary’s waist.

Men up here walk on the edge of nothing, whistling suicide as they ride girders through swaths and slashes of turquoise sky.

The metal road heaves and all I feel beneath my feet is the song of deck boards. And a prayer whispering home, calling exiles back to the quietness of a lovers arms.

 

 

Dave Kavanagh lives and writes in a small fishing village in North County Dublin. His work includes poetry, prose & short fiction. Dave has had work published online and his poetry has recently been included in ‘Poetry Soup’ (International Poetry Foundation) and ‘Indelible Poets’.

When our son became a vegan – by Richard Weaver

 

When our son became a vegan

we misunderstood, I’m sorry to say.
The wife and I believed he’d come to be
a vegetable, perhaps broccoli, if the color
of his hair was a sign. Still he was civil,
civil for a vegetal son who moved outside
and took to sleeping in our raised garden bed.
You wouldn’t believe how happy he was
when it rained. I have to admit
he stuck to it like he’d stuck to nothing before.
He took to self-composting.
The neighbors were appalled of course.
Their “normal” children lived in mud,
or existed on diets of raw fish smoothies,
or powdered drugs which they snorted,
rubbed on their bodies like SPF 100,
or somehow vaped. And the wife and I
were thought the odd ones? We’re not sure how,
we only know when, but our son
made us proud parents. Grandparents actually.
We don’t ask. Not sure he would tell.
But the raised bed is now a broccoli forest.
As urban farmers we understand there’s always
some killing needs to be done around a farm.
But eating our own kin, even with a cheese sauce
is hard to wraparound your head.

 

 

The author resides in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor where he volunteers with the Maryland Book Bank, acts as the Archivist-at-large for a Jesuit college, and is a seasonal snowflake counter (unofficially). Recent acceptances: Hamilton Stone Review, The Cape Rock, Conjunctions, Kestrel, Drunk Monkeys, Sequestrum, & Spank the Carp.

Editorial – Book Round-up

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This month we have been mostly reading Seal Wife by Kitty Coles (Indigo Dreams Press). This book is full of bones and skin, owls, maggots, skulls and flesh. A slightly surreal invitation to inhabit the body of the poet. Most of the poems are addressed to someone directly…maybe a lover, a husband, a child, and you get a sense of eavesdropping on something very intimate. The language is rich, the images from myths and folk tales unsettling, and the overall effect is  captivating. It certainly made a huge impression on me and I can see why it won the Indigo Dreams pamphlet competition. For a taste of her style, Kitty’s poem Anosmia was our Editor’s Choice poem in August this year, and her debut book should be considered for your Christmas list.

melanie-branton-150x150I immediately fell in love with Melanie Branton’s poems when we published Intermediate Polish, and more recently her poem Castles prompted a slew of positive feedback from readers. So I bought the book, My Cloth-Eared Heart from Oversteps Books. Melanie describes herself as a performance poet, but I have to say that as someone who has never seen her perform I believe these poems work equally well on the page. What strikes me most is the inventive use of metaphor and the very cleverness of the writing – it really stimulates the mind as well as the emotions and I’m delighted the book lived up to its promise.