(El Convento de Santa Clara, Zafra)
Outside, people rustle and mutter
an order for biscuits through the mesh
and solid silence. Her fingers count
the Corazones de Obispo,
stroking their almond-encrusted shells.
A hatch revolves. The hearts have gone.
Matthew Stewart works in the Spanish wine trade and lives between West Sussex and Extremadura. His first full collection,The Knives of Villalejo (Eyewear Publishing, 2017), was preceded by two pamphlets with HappenStance Press. He blogs at Rogue Strands
blue hand on the grass
like pieces of lion in the jaws
of a hungry savannah god
relentless eating slow.
blue hand on the grass,
it stalked the moonlight red
and bled the night
it pissed itself
into translucent yellow dawns.
blue hand in the jaws
of a hungry god
relentless eating slow,
it roared murderous demarcations
in obscure intent and
we watch it disappear
we watch it
fade from the world.
not knowing why
something in us
grieves its passing.
J.C. Mari is a Floridian who ekes out his living in occupations unrelated to poesy or the arts. He is occasionally published here and there. Like everyone else he does his best to achieve/maintain some degree of functionality.
Let me dig in your jeans pocket for gas money.
Close in on me when I run.
Unstart the dark trek away from you. Undirty my feet.
Be my delete button: I press you, undocument me.
Give up for me. Don’t give in to me.
Play that song that talks about home.
Turn it up so it’s all I hear.
Let me dig in your jeans pocket for my hair pin.
Pin my hair back. Leave wispy tendrils.
Tell me what I want to hear. Then remind me that’s a lie.
Truth me. Put your language in my mouth.
Tell me hard things. Make me believe them.
Do that thing that makes me laugh. Yes, that. And that.
Michelle McMillan-Holifield is assistant editor for Edify Fiction and recently completed a writer’s residency at Wild Acres in North Carolina. Her work has been included in or is forthcoming in Boxcar Poetry Review, Jabberwock Review, Sky Island Journal, Stirring, The Collagist, Toasted Cheese, Whale Road Review and Windhover among others. She hopes you one day find her poetry tacked to a tree somewhere in the Alaskan Wild.
You want to repay the favour
in one of the only ways possible
and I’m in need of love.
Your fingertips, cold and tentative
raise gooseflesh over my chest
as you gently rub.
The balm melts to liquid on my skin
and you watch, noting my reaction
to each touch.
I see your lips steadily twist
into a smile when there is no more
left to spread.
My flesh is raw as a prime cut
seasoned with camphor. Its scent
clings to our skin,
ready for the tasting. Later I will
smell its earthy tang while you
lather it off your hands.
You redo my dress, carefully, carefully,
so the oils don’t stain. We resume our
roles. No one has seen.
Natalie Scott is a Teesside-based poet and educator with a PhD in Creative Writing. She has collections published by Indigo Dreams, Bradshaw Books and Mudfog, as well as many appearances in literary journals including Ambit, Agenda and Orbis. Her collection Berth – Voices of the Titanic was awarded runner-up for the Cork Literary Review Manuscript Competition, 2011. Her latest project Rare Birds – Voices of Holloway Prison was awarded funding from the Arts Council of England.
Since June 2016 we have published 466 poems on Algebra of Owls, written by 316 different poets. That is a wide spread, caused mainly by the fact that we have a strict policy of reviewing all of our submissions objectively, which has for the most part involved blind reading by the co-editors.
It is also partly influenced by the fact that some poets, once published by a journal, do not re-submit to it – which is obviously outside of our control. However, many would attest that an acceptance of a poem by us is no guarantee that future submissions will not be rejected because in the end, it is all just down to the poems. Nor do repeated rejections mean that an acceptance won’t suddenly be forthcoming. I have sometimes heard it said that once you have had a poem accepted by a journal, the likelihood of having another accepted by them increases. While there is some sense to this (because on some level an acceptance may demonstrate that the editors like your style of poetry) our experience is that this maxim does not hold that true. With us it’s always down to which specific poems have been submitted on the day.
Some journals have a policy of needing to limit people to certain elapse of time between submissions, to avoid any impression of a cliquey stable of regular contributors. We have never had to do that, and are happy for people to send us a submission every month if they wish.
I have quickly totted up some of the numbers and:
Poets with a single poem here – 201
Poets with two poems here – 91
Poets with three poems here – 14
Poets with four poems here – 9
Poets with five poems here – 1
In case you were wondering, the person with five poems published in AoO is Kathleen Strafford.
Somewhere I can hear a lark
a desultory bee out late in heather
mistaking the warmth of the sun for summer,
unaware the hour’s about to slip
febrile mornings flare then gutter
darkness close over our heads.
Like bumble bees that cannot fly
oaks can’t grow on this high ground
but no one’s told them.
Piles Copse digs in on its steep slope
looping roots around heaped rocks
its leaves rust flags against a dusk that seeps
from cemeteries of peat.
If I could
pour this honey light
store it in jars on cellar shelves
I’d dip my fingers in its gleam
until my skin grows green with moss
my tongue bleeds sap.
Dartmoor has three areas of high-altitude ancient oak woodland – Black-a-tor Copse, Piles Copse and Wistman’s Wood – where conditions are so harsh, it’s theoretically impossible for those trees to have grown there.
Deborah Harvey lives in Bristol. Her three poetry collections, Communion (2011), Map Reading for Beginners (2014), and Breadcrumbs (2016), are published by Indigo Dreams, while her historical novel, Dart, appeared under their Tamar Books imprint in 2013. Her fourth collection, The Shadow Factory, will be published in 2019. Deborah runs The Leaping Word poetry consultancy with Colin Brown (formerly of Poetry Can). Her poems have been widely published and broadcast on Radio 4’s Poetry Please.
no silence, baby/a sure attack/ imagine a desire to repent/love is quite spare/ointment over and over/out, cohesive earmark/divine dissent/plateau of another antique philosophy/common somber track/a person with loose bowels/encased in austerity/dear memory/quarter marks on my new floor/it’s quite a colourful place, no comparison/love comes included/my dolorous and somber pupil/tantalizing bandit, to you I venture/private and docile/I will desire an avenue of flowers/a language of polite imagination/some can, some cannot/you are my dear corpse/you nourish me/I am partial to you/no banquets or convivial silences/no decades consigned to others/ecstasy does not quantify time passing/we will not depart this private episode/no longer the last messy paragraph of us/but a quiet, temperate day
Jane Burn’s poems have featured in magazines such as The Rialto, Under The Radar, Butcher’s Dog, Iota Poetry and many more, as well as anthologies from Emma Press, Beautiful Dragons, Emergency Poet and Seren. Her pamphlets include Fat Around the Middle, published by Talking Pen and Tongues of Fire published by BLER Press. Her first collection, nothing more to it than bubbles is published by Indigo Dreams.
As her weightlifter’s arms heft
with a jerk, she braves a sunburst of pain
in her shoulder stretch,
in her forearms brace, in her right leg lurch as
she takes the racked stance,
hands gripped tight, thighs tensed
she snatches, strains up with elbows
holds the weight
of the sea over her head
and sets it down again.
Was it then or
later she learned that the sea crazed her?
For pleasure she sidles in
with a resistant push, her head dives
into cool waves and in this conspiracy
she swims. In the silence underwater
her mind listens for fish and
the shipwreck tilting away from the current.
With her is the pressure
of a clean jerk and lift,
a sports arena created
from sand, ropes, canvas
gathered from the broken ship,
a skeleton assigned as referee while
she hoists barbells made of hazel sand scooped
from under the sea. Steadily,
she competes in gasps with the tide
increases the pain she lifts
and sets it down again. Was it then or
later she learned that the sea crazed her.
Jane R Rogers has been writing poetry for seven years. Jane is a member of the Greenwich Poetry Workshop and was a member of the Magma Poetry magazine team where she co-edited Magma 65. Jane’s poems have appeared in Atrium, Prole, Ink Sweat & Tears, Long Exposure Magazine, Obsessed with Pipework, in Greenwich Poetry Workshop’s anthologies and in the Tate Gallery Website poetry anthology 2012. Jane lives in London but misses the West Country.
Take a deep breath and watch her –
the witch of old leaves
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,
You’ll sleep under the sky tonight,
the wolves will stay away,
and tomorrow when you get home
your clothes will smell of
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.