Lines Curved and Straight – by Amlanjyoti Goswami

(for Maryam Mirzakhani)

 

The shortest distance between two points
Is a space of un-freedom.
A straight line is not reality. It is boredom made
Mathematic.

Ask any lover what it takes. Ask a free bird if he ever walks straight.
The route is usually jagged, curved, crisscrossing, zig zag,
Drawn in beautiful geodesic parabolas
Lines that (sometimes) meet each other, like people, and then again depart,
Birds or planes, made after birds,
In mid- early or late- flight.

Ask mother how long it takes to reach her son
Living in the next room.
Ask two warring co-workers, next to each other in the cubicle,
What invisible fields of light, heat, current, intersect
Before they look eye to eye.
Ask two politicians, if they ever see their roads meet as a right angle.

Yet, we persist, in fooling ourselves, in maps,
In the troubled spots of the heart, in prayer
And music, as if the best way to get anywhere
Was instant.
It is the spirit of our times.
While patience and wonder come with quest.

But how then, do they (really) curve?
What goes on, before the lines turn straight, or do they?
Why does the solitary morning walker go back and forth, and take strange turns?
If you drew a line of his path, your eye would draw fifteen million circles of the sun
And beyond,
Before you knew how his synapses lapse
And what is truly beautiful –

Picasso’s cubes, the lonely points of Seurat
Or Maryam’s flying doodles.

 

 

 

 

Amlanjyoti Goswami’s poems have appeared in publications in India, Nepal, the UK, Hong Kong, South Africa, Kenya and the USA, including the anthologies Forty under Forty: An Anthology of Post-Globalisation Poetry (Poetrywala, 2016) and A Change of Climate (Manchester Metropolitan University, Environmental Justice Foundation and University of Edinburgh, 2017). He grew up in Guwahati, Assam and lives in Delhi.

I Know the Girls Talk – by Jude Cowan Montague

 

I Know the Girls Talk

but they’ve gone,
like Gloria and Teresa,
and the wild flowers we stuffed in our suitcase.
We went right through the refuge in sandals.

We camped by the Big Bend.
There was dancing across from the graveyard.
Soon there was just me and the little one,
standing in the rain with the long horns.

We can sleep in the car,’ you said.
‘Buy our shoes in a certain month,
grow our hair long.’
I hoped my step-dad would come and find us,
But he stayed back in the mountain.

We had a flat and couldn’t get a tire.
Our bucket banged on the side.
We really looked like Okies.

August and then the last part of October,
it rained all the time.
People can get pretty mean on the road.
I never was so tired of rain in my life.

I set my alarm clock.
When we pass over
the state line you’ll wake me
and stop, and I’m going to get out
and kiss that sign.

 

 

 

Jude Cowan Montague worked for Reuters Television Archive for ten years. Her album ‘The Leidenfrost Effect’ (Folkwit Records 2015) reimagines quirky stories from the Reuters Life! feed. She produces ‘The News Agents’ on Resonance 104.4 FM. Her most recent book is ‘The Originals’ (Hesterglock Press, 2017).

At the Interview – by Ed Aust

 

I wore a stove pipe hat
and set my beard ablaze.

“Please have a seat
on that spike in the corner.”
“I’d rather stand,” I said,
but plopped down anyway.

“What can you offer us?” they asked.
I clawed out my eyes and
passed them around.

I spoke of my diverse skills
and pulled an egg from my mouth
while farting Shakespeare.

They wanted me to speak of
my greatest weakness.
“I am afraid of dying
and leaving behind a trail
of fading graffiti.”

A key player asked of my
most prized achievement.
“I once slept all​ ​night
on a frozen park bench.”

I spoke in rhyme
and slapped my face repeatedly.
“Did you know that when you speak
saliva bubbles from the corners of your lips?”
“Yes,” I said. “It’s what makes me
the sultry lover that I am.”

“Have you ever thrown acid
in the face of a competitor?”
“No,” I said, “But I once drowned my soul
to meet a deadline.”

“Are you willing to travel?”
“If I can bring my own mule.”

“Why did you leave your last position?”
“They insisted I jump naked
out of a cake.
I did, however, eat the cake.
I enjoyed it very much.”

“What makes you think you can do this job?”
“I had cancer once
and relished every minute.”

They asked me to remove my clothes.
I removed my skin as well.
Later I learned
it’s what got me the job.

 

 

Ed Aust writes poems by moonlight. He lives in Oakland, California, and makes a living by taming websites and photographing events. ​He’s sort of religious. ​His poems have been published in Avocet, Coal City Review, California Quarterly, and the Bay Guardian.

The Strange Wistfulness of Old Book Shops – by Carl Nelson

 

Old bookshops sell a wish for the world to stop –
for the dead to go on living,
for heroes to remain so,
and the girls ever lovely.

There’s the bouquet of old cardboard, paper, glue and ink
stacked and staggered on the desk in the dim light.
Squeezing narrow aisles are the wisdom of lives
filed by narrow notions,
the helter-skelter, hodge-podge of ideas in retreat.

Old bookshops make me pensive
of neglecting my elders
with their dour, dusty commentary
shouting my ignorance.

Youthful passions, now at rest
in their retirement, emeritus,
use a cane now to get
from one brittle page to the next.

The forewords believe in predestination.
The contents shake a dry husk,
and the glossary’s passe.

Faded customers discuss castoff loyalties,
whose glittering silhouettes
waltz in memories
towards the bestseller lists.

Wistfulness coughs up its phlegm
with each chime of the register.

 

 

 

Carl Nelson lives in a small town on the Ohio River and runs a Poetry Series which meets monthly at the Serenity Coffee House in Vienna, WV.  Every day he works on poems and mosies about with his dog Tater Tot, thinking up something practical he’s accomplished to tell the wife. 

Until the Next Time – by Patrick Deeley

 

i.m. Robert May, died July 1st, 1916

 

‘God might…’ he wrote, by way of ending his letter
from the trenches, but any thought he held
of saying more to his friend, your grandfather,
stopped, the shell upsetting everything
in his vicinity, the pages blown free by the blast,
and with them his ‘Thanks for the razor,
it is a good one’; his ‘Sorry to hear about Tony,
such things will happen’ – war or death
not otherwise referenced; his ‘I have said all until
the next time’ left hanging as he is tossed
into the air, a few drops of his blood splashed against
the floating white space he must have looked
hard at for a moment before deciding
to settle on the beginning of a hope or a blessing.

 

 

 

 

Patrick Deeley is a former primary school teacher and principal. His poems have been widely published and translated. Groundswell: New and Selected is the latest of his six collections with Dedalus Press. His memoir, The Hurley Maker’s Son, appeared recently from Transworld.

Making the most – by Julian Dobson

 

I feel these four walls closing in, she says
in this town where shuttered pizza shops
jostle with boarded pubs. You can still get
a quick tan here, mind you, as North Sea wind
scuffs the slates from roofs, as squat hills
behind the main street slump towards the sea.

I have my memories, though, she says,
her grasshopper legs braced against a frame,
aye, that’s what matters. All those memories
blowing like crisp packets dancing down gutters
growing like lichen crusting yellow stone
stuck like chewing gum on library floors.

Count your blessings, that’s the thing, she says
count till you lose track of numbers, count
blessings like pigeons roosting under bridges
blessings like starlings whistling from wires.
Count them as you’d count slippery churchyard steps,
as you’d count odd socks, teaspoons, missing friends.

 

 

 

Julian Dobson lives in Sheffield, England, home of the famous Henderson’s Relish. His poems have appeared in publications including Magma, Under the Radar, and Acumen, and on a bus in Guernsey. More of his work is at 52poemsinayear.wordpress.com

1958 Chevrolet Impala – by Ken Meisel

 

The teen girl’s dressed in a circle skirt
and a tight-fitting blouse. Rouged lips.

She’s on the front lawn, twirling
in a 30 inch hula hoop; it’s around her waist.

Her boyfriend is standing at the front
door of his father’s new 58’ Impala.

It’s a Cashmere Blue. The front grill, wide-
mouthed and glaring, the dual head lamps

vigilant, attentive. The deep, sculptured
braided back end, contorted in, with three

small taillights like multiple blinking eyes
beneath a wave-like dip, and into a fin.

On the radio: Carl Perkin’s, Blue Suede Shoes.
It’s September, and school’s begun.

The late summer trees express lush color.
Some leaves, like incidental derivations

of the color palette, burn into red, orange.
A small dog barks at the turn up of noise.

A cat in the bush squats low, circumspect.
It can feel in its hair something ambiguous.

Her father, the judge, looks pensively
from his half-drawn shades, suspicious.

Her mother, in the kitchen, cuts open
a watermelon with their sharpest knife.

Carelessly cuts her index finger pink-red.
Curses softly, like killing commie flies.

The United States explodes an Atomic
bomb, in a missile, in the South Pacific.

 

 

 

 

Ken Meisel is a poet and psychotherapist, a Pushcart Prize nominee and has been published in over 100 national magazines. Recent work is in Rattle, Midwestern Gothic, Muddy River Poetry Review, Firefly and Concho River Review. His most recent book is The Drunken Sweetheart at My Door (FutureCycle Press: 2015).

sometimes it’s winter in the middle of summer – by Bethany Rivers

 

sometimes friends / sunglasses / slapped on lotion / sand stinging summer /
it’s not time / for hibernation / curling in on yourself like a hedgehog of
winter trying to keep ice outside / a tsunami of grief frozen in middle /
in deep centre of your landscape / where no-one can see the missing the /
sometimes it’s not time / curling in sometimes / where no-one can see in
deep centre of your landscape / sometimes slapped on lotion stinging summer /
sometimes hibernation missing / summer missing / like a hedgehog of winter /
a tsunami of grief frozen / it’s not time / no-one can see / keep ice out / friends
              in deep centre / landscape friends in deep

 

 

 

Bethany Rivers’ pamphlet, Off the wall, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2016. She mentors writers and teaches creative writing. She loves the accumulating poetry books on her shelves, reading by the fire with a cat in her lap, and running poetry inspiration/healing days.

Antony Dunn – Guest Editor for January/February

Our Editor’s Choice poem for January/February will be selected by Antony Dunn.

Antony Dunn © Sara Teresa - April 2016 (2) - small BW

Antony Dunn lives in Leeds. Winner of the Newdigate Prize and an Eric Gregory Award, he has published four collections of poems, Pilots and NavigatorsFlying FishBugs and, most recently, Take This One to Bed (Valley Press, October 2016).

He edited and introduced Ex Libris, a posthumous collection of poems by David Hughes (Valley Press, 2015).

Antony is a regular tutor for The Poetry School and the Arvon Foundation. He has worked on a number of translation projects with poets from Holland, Hungary, China and Israel, and was Poet in Residence at the University of York for 2006 and at the Ilkley Literature Festival in 2010.

He is Artistic Director of Bridlington Poetry Festival, and no relation to Joan Hunter.

www.antonydunn.org

No Turning Back – by Jane Salmons

 

Green Lanes groaned in the July heat
cars choked on each other’s fumes
rows of fermenting fruit and veg sweated

it out on street stalls, between the buzz
of flies and tetchy wasps. I carried
you from the taxi in gleaming white

over the cracked tiles, into the cool
hallway of your new home. That night
I couldn’t sleep. I sat instead on the futon edge

watched your tiny limbs twitch in your cot
and listened to the soft chirp of your breath.
Getting up for a glass of water, I pulled on

the kitchen light. A dozen startled cockroaches
like a band of dark knights, scuttled into corners,
chitinous armour chinking spite. I bolted

to the bedroom, lifted the corner of the bed
and saw, under the dark warmth of the mattress,
a monstrous mass of squirming black.

 

 

 

Jane Salmons is a teacher living and working in the Black Country. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing and has been previously published in Snakeskin, I am not a Silent Poet and Creative Writing Ink. In her precious free time, she also enjoys creating hand-made photomontage and is to have artwork and poetry published together in Ink, Sweat and Tears in the near future.