Smoke – by Renata Connors

 

Take a deep breath and watch her –
the witch of old leaves
burning
in the allotments –
how she sticks out her grey gnarly fingers
that wrap around you
and throw you back
to the land of campfires and songs

and there you are –
your dreamy purple orchid self
sitting on a half rotten log,
uncomfortable as hell,
your face burning and your back freezing,
your feet sore from walking.

Yet all you feel
(because you’re seventeen)
is that your badly tuned guitar and the unpredictable universe
sing in harmony,

pure beauty.
You’ll sleep under the sky tonight,
the wolves will stay away,
and tomorrow when you get home
your clothes will smell of
smoke.

 

 
Renata Connors is a poet and songwriter based in Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear. Her poems were published in webzines Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Fat Damsel, Rat’s Ass Review and in the Kind of a Hurricane Press journal Napalm and Novocaine. She has performed her poetry and songs at many different venues around the North East.

Memory is held by water – by Jackie Biggs

 

They sit on the wall of the old town bridge,
                that place of endless departures,
below the high castle walls.

Usually men, mostly at night,
                they are silent, unseen.
This one is young.

His white face looks down between
                black boots as his legs dangle.
He will enter me soon, or walk away.

When he slips in I will hold him close
                but I will not interfere
as he sinks into my depths

I will feel him among my green weeds
                and in my vortices
carry him in undercurrents

with migrating salmon
                over the silt and mud of my bed
to the sea and out on the full tide,

as all the other lads before him
                over countless centuries.
I never know why they choose me.

Maybe because I am dark and very cold
                there is certainty in my currents and eddies,
no chance for a change of mind.

Bitter as brine
                I am always here,
yet I flow forever, east to west,

tidal, so they are sure
                I will carry their cargo out,
take all their weight.

 

 

 

 

Jackie Biggs has had poetry published in many magazines and anthologies, both in print and online. Her first poetry collection, The Spaces in Between, was published in September 2015 by Pinewood Press (Swansea). She is a member of the four-woman poetry performance group, The Rockhoppers. Some of her poetry appears on her blog: http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk Twitter: @JackieNews

Guest Editor Sept/October – Clare Shaw

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The Editor’s Choice poem for September/October will be chosen by Clare Shaw.

She has three poetry collections from Bloodaxe: Straight Ahead (2006), Head On (2012) and Flood (2018).

She’s a regular tutor with a range of literary organisations – including the Poetry School, the Wordsworth Trust and the Arvon Foundation – delivering creative writing courses, workshops and mentoring sessions in a variety of different settings, with individuals at all levels of ability, confidence and experience. She works with the Royal Literary Fund and the Writing Project, supporting the development of writing skills in academic settings and workplaces. She is also involved in a range of innovative projects with artists and practitioners in other disciplines, including psychology, visual arts and music, and is also a mental health educator. All her work is underpinned by a deep faith in language: words have the power to harm and help us, and powerful language can transform us as individuals, communities and societies.

Coin – by Susan Castillo Street

 

I saw a coin in the water
and thought it might be a goldfish
or a lost spangle of sun
or a wish made by lovers
or a gambler rolling the dice.

 

 

 

Susan Castillo Street is an international woman of mystery. She has published three collections of poems, The Candlewoman’s Trade (2003), Abiding Chemistry,  (2015), and Constellations (2016), as well as in several leading journals and anthologies. She is owned by two cats, Dan and Eric.

Reggie has a Stroke – by Ron Salisbury

 

Three weeks after, he was incredibly horny, something
he hadn’t really thought about for the past fifteen years,
being preoccupied with the agenda of growing old. Arriving
quite suddenly after three bourbons and just before
the Late Show, now, everything made him horny,
the neighbor across the court, eggs—their round whiteness—
palm trees, the photo of his third ex-wife leaning against
a metal rail, Grand Canyon 2001 written on the back.
It was something like a catching-up, a burst runners get
when they finally spot the finish line.

 

 

 

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.

Brynich Aqueduct – by Gareth Writer-Davies

 

the keystone
is the strength of any arch

the trick
of transporting one reach of water over another

the perch and roach
and others of the shallow trench

unaware of their suspension
continue

to feed and scrap
and even procreate (fifty feet up)

as if bricks and limestone
are sediment

and the drop to the river
a water-fall

the art
of snugging one stone against another

is the adaptation of habitat
by thought

an arch carved by a chisel
is still nature

 

 

 

 

Gareth Writer-Davies. Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2014 and 2017) and the Erbacce Prize (2014), commended in the Prole Laureate Competition (2015) and Prole Laureate winner in 2017. His pamphlet “Bodies”, was published in 2015  by Indigo Dreams and the pamphlet “Cry Baby” came out 2017. His first collection “The Lover’s Pinch” (Arenig Press) was published June, 2018.

Lady Godiva – by Kathleen Strafford

           Ode to Peeping Tom
                          I peep through corkscrew chinks in doorways
The summer moon has drawn his curtains
                             declaring all shutters and windows shut
                                                the wind is preparing a speech
                                                                 the trumpeters a fanfare
She didn’t choose the plucky pony with a spring in its step
                  instead the hot proud palfrey for his smooth ambling
See how she strokes his ears
                  pats his hind quarters enamoured with his shape
Notice how she bows her face in prayer
                               pushing her ringlets against round breasts
              swings her thigh
                      slips her Venus mound
                                 straddles velvet birds of paradise
                                     how fine threads of fur mingle
I don’t know if I’ve ever loved a fragrance
                                             half as much as her smell at midday

As her stud trots through fields of heather, the sun dressing her in lace
                                                                 purple brushing her fringe
I imagine the dance of the seven veils
                                        & how quickly John        lost his head

 

 

 

Kathleen Strafford has been published in magazines & online:  Interpreter’s House, Butcher’s Dog, Fat Damsel, Ink Sweat and Tears, Panoply, and various anthologies. Her Own Language published by Dempsey and Windle