Reggie Tries Meditation – by Ron Salisbury

 

It couldn’t hurt, his therapist says fingering her pearls
and noting in her spiral-bound, Reggie circling awareness
once a week for four years like a dog his water bowl
with a bug in it, and she unable to stop composing
her grocery list, his voice a drone spiraling and spiraling
her office ceiling, his voice a whiny dog tied to a brick
outside, a leaf blower down the block each week
for an hour. Dharma, says Reggie. Time’s up, she says.

 

 

 

 

Ron Salisbury has taught poetry for the past forty years. Since moving back to San Diego nine years ago, Ron has taught classes and workshops in poetry for San Diego Writers, Ink and the Encinitas Library. He graduated from San Diego State University with a Master in Fine Arts, Poetry in 2016. His book, Miss Desert Inn was the winner of the 2015 Main Street Rag Poetry Prize and was published in the fall of 2015. He has been widely published in journals and his manuscripts have been finalists in many manuscript contests.

Sparks and Paper – by Winston Plowes

 

Barging through the dawn chorus
you shuffled in –
Left no footprints
but pinned your hate
to the gatepost
near the shed with no door.

Bits of you fell off along the gravel path
as your head spun on your shoulders,
but the house had heard you coming
and locked the front door.

Words still got in though,
and it was as if a new language
had just germinated in your throat
watered by yesterday’s scorn.

And you’d slept in the shadows
of the old goods yard
between the rails,
amongst dead fireworks.
Black rockets from the school
hitting your body still smoking.

 

 

 

Winston Plowes shares his floating home in Calderdale UK with his 18-year-old cat, Sausage. He teaches creative writing in schools and to local groups while she dreams of Mouseland. His latest collection Tales from the Tachograph was published jointly with Gaia Holmes in 2018 by Calder Valley Poetry. www.winstonplowes.co.uk

An Algonquin Woman Saves Herself – by Mary R. Finnegan

 

Sometimes, a fishhook
and a bit of flesh
are all you need
to save your baby
and yourself.

Take the knife,
slice off a piece of thigh
and with that meaty part
of your own body:
Bait the hook.

Savor
the sweet taste of the fish,
the cool,
arctic flavor of this lake trout
that saves you.

Everything may be frozen,
encased in the ice
that killed your tribesmen.
Your son may grow cruel.
But for now:

You survive.
You need only
a knife, a hook,
madness enough
to sliver your own flesh.

 

 

Mary R. Finnegan is a writer and nurse living in Philadelphia. Her poetry and essays have been published or are forthcoming in Dead Housekeeping, HEAL, Medical Literary Messenger, Catholic Digest, Three Drops from a Cauldron, and The American Journal of Nursing.

The Function of Emotions – by Olivia Tuck

 

To draw blood. To press razor tracks
against your shaking wrists.

To destroy parties.

To finger-paint bruises
across friendships as you cling.

To make sunsets hurt.

To beat up the walls, and the doors,
and the windows,
and the sky.

To turn the dialling tone
into the revving of a chainsaw.

To slice off the top of your skull,
and scoop your pumpkin innards out
until you’re all ribs, and living for digits
on the backs of chocolate bars.
To then swivel you
like you’re an owl’s neck
and get you fat again.

To brew hate.
To pour hate.
To serve hate.

To keep you awake at night.
To give the shadows gargoyle faces.

To blag you a ride in a police car.

To break both your parents’ hearts
with one stone.
To demonstrate failure
to your little sisters.

To leave you with no grace to fall from.

 

 

 

Olivia Tuck has had poems and prose published in literary journals and webzines including The Interpreter’s House, Lighthouse, Amaryllis and Three Drops from a Cauldron. Her work also featured in Please Hear What I’m Not Saying, a charity poetry anthology on the subject of mental health, and she has been Highly Commended and shortlisted in one or two short story competitions. She is due to start at Bath Spa University this autumn, to study for a BA in Creative Writing. Find her on Twitter: @livtuckwrites

Beck – by Andy Armitage

 

Running down from the hills
breathless with laughter,
finding a way out of the bone
chambers, bearing that skein of light
into the valley.
Not looking back.
What have you to do with endings –
brimming with that music?
It’s a sacred thing makes
a fire of moonlight.
In your petty path the sky trembles,
the stones shrink,
as you hold fast
to each brilliant corner.
The journey is the length
and breadth of you.

 

 

Andy Armitage is a poet and editor from Leeds. He has a PhD in English and has published poetry in the UK (Acumen, Dream Catcher, Strix, Riggwelter, The High Window) and in New Zealand where he lived for 10 years (Poetry NZ, New Zealand Listener, Turbine, Blackmail Press, JAAM).

In 2017, he won 1st place in the Leeds Museums Poetry Competition and in 2018 was Highly Commended in the York Mix/York Literature Festival Poetry Competition. His first pamphlet Letters to a First Love from the Future was published by Half Moon Books in July 2018. His website is: www.andyarmitage.com

Winners! July/August Readers’ and Editor’s Choice Poems

Delighted to announce that the winner of the July/August poll for the Readers’ Choice Award is the indefatigable Carole Bromley. A mug of happiness will be on its way to her shortly.

Afterwards – by Carole Bromley

The Editor’s Choice Poem is:

The Box – by Stuart Pickford

selected by Keith Hutson who said:

I felt privileged to be asked to judge this competition, thinking Twenty poems? That can’t be too difficult. How wrong I was. Each of the poems I read seemed markedly different from the others, not only in terms of subject-matter, but also style and treatment.

As co-editor of Poetry Salzburg Review, I read thousands of poems each year. What do I look for, what initial quality, to prompt me to give the poem a second and third reading? Well, I have to say, I do have a liking for poems that tend to say look at that, rather than look at me. I feel contemporary poetry is in danger of becoming somewhat swamped with introspection.

I prefer poems that use words with respectful economy, poems that are lyrical, not too long, have no truck with preamble, and possess a lightness of touch. Good writing is supposed to cleanse the windows of perception, isn’t it? So I like poems that make me look closer at a particular thing, with splendid imagery, but also with the feeling they are transcending their images and reaching out to me. I also like poems that celebrate, particularly when such celebration is charged with depth.

The above goes some way to explaining why I picked The Box as my winner. I like the amount of detail packed into each sort couplet. There is also a briskness combined with gentleness in these lines, and the narrative unfolds like the box to reveal the moving and heartfelt metaphor the poem expresses so deftly. I felt fed, fulfilled, by this poem, and the final couplet is terrific. Congratulations to the writer.”

Succoth – by Sally Michaelson

 

It is beyond me, building this hut
according to the rules

Three walls, twenty cubits high
a roof of branches

to make clear to houses
of brick and stone

that they too are just a hut
in the scheme of things

I should have called a rabbi
with a squad of helpers

eager for points in heaven,
but I needed you

your Arab skin encountering mine,
its fragility.

 

 

 

Sally Michaelson is a conference interpreter in Brussels and her poems have been published in Lighthouse and Ink, Sweat and Tears.

Dancing Days – by Linda Menzies

 

Dad twirls the glass stem, swirling ruby Fitou
saved from his recent wine-run to France.
Reflective in middle age, tabled with adult children
and bib-encased grandchildren, death is a distant thought.
He views the plundered cake’s spent candles.

Clearing his throat, he pronounces:
‘I want to quit this life at 92,
Shot on the dance floor by a jealous husband.’
He twinkles at his new wife, who offers coffee,
hiding her smile from the laughing table.

Now 90, he remembers a cheerful drumbeat
at the Plaza and the Palais de Danse,
where stiff-haired girls with spun-sugar petticoats
were eyed up by boys. Flushed with the boldness
of condoms deep in their wallets, the lads smirked.

Pulled from memories, Dad observes the view:
the pearl grey sky of a douce winter afternoon
drapes his city’s beckoning sounds and light.
Thoughtfully, he revises his exit date,
Upwards, to ninety eight.

The Problem with Tattoos – by Jessica Martinez

 
I feel them pulsing in the dark
when you are inside me—run my palms over jeweled eyes,
          caress their god-like jaws.

You told me what each pharaoh represented:
The left one is wisdom, the middle is faith,
          the last is strength.

I trace my thumb along your rib cage,
explore your chest—tenderly touch the top
          of their crowns.

You said it was a twenty-seven-hour process,
but worth the hurt. I think about you
          wanting me longer

than thirty minutes in this motel,
a ruined oasis—our sweat inked into the sheets.
          I love to kiss each divine face

as we dress. You leave and never say where
            or who you go back to.

 

 

Jessica Martinez is a Retention Specialist and writing tutor at San Jacinto College, and co-founder of the women’s online literary journal, CEO. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming with Digital Papercut, Sediments Literary-Arts Journal, Strata, Inquietudes Literary Journal, and Story|Houston. She will be attending Texas State University in August 2018 to pursue her MFA in Fiction.