Tradition – by Vivien Jones

 

Every fourth courgette is spiralised,
I read in The Guardian.

Meanwhile I take down my china bowls,
my bendy spatulas, my bi-numeral scales,
my unlabelled jars of this and that,

my flours of many kinds (the thrill
of a light loaf with rye flour
and sour dough, a recent triumph)

my thumb and finger rub soft butter
through silky flour, patiently,
motes hang in the sunlight.

Grams and kilos would have flummoxed them,
but I am my mother, my grandmother too,
a conduit for simple knowledge,

the temperature, the place on the shelf,
length of cooking, the way to test the rise,
what seems like wisdom is merely repetition.

Today I have a visitor, an observer,
my daughter-in-law, who spiralises courgettes.

 

 

 

Vivien Jones – Her first poetry collection was About Time, Too (2010). In that year she also won the Poetry London Prize. Her second poetry collection was Short of Breath (2014). She is one of three editors of ‘Southlight’, a literary journal in south-west Scotland. She also writes plays.

Pressed – by Sarah Clayville

 

I’ve scraped the last remnants of a crispy dinner
from the pan and crushed the crumbs like snow between my fingers.

I’ve blown out the candles, kneeling too closely
and letting the wax dangerously coat the tips of my eyelashes.

I’ve pressed my head against the empty dining table
in a prayer that this will be the last of our disastrous last suppers.

I’ve mouthed a promise to myself, like CPR exhaled,
that I will stop trying to resuscitate our broken and tangled sweetness.

I’ve flung the dishes against the wall and knelt among
the collage of broken shards to remind myself how much he hurts.

I’ve forced myself to hold steady against the front door
and draw the chain across the lock, in case I lose my nerve, to keep him out.

 

 

 

 

Sarah Clayville is a high school writing teacher and freelance editor. Her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have been published in such journals as The Threepenny Review, StoryChord, Central PA Magazine, and Mothers Always Write. Find more of her writing at SarahSaysWrite.com.

Career limiting – by Stephen Daniels

 

My boss likes to hug me, which is awkward
because I don’t want to hug him.

He hides behind his agitator grin
and his salary smile.

I would like to take his nothing bonus
and spit it into his eyes.

Watch his frown fade into disgust
and laugh at his now squeezing release.

When we meet I can smell his dis-honesty,
rich as piss. It reeks of receipts.

His false words take time to settle
and I can’t hold it all in. But I have to.

My chair wobbles and the shape of him bends
like the magic trick when you shake a pen.

I squint my eyes
and it looks like he is smiling.

I open them wide and he is too bright.
I close them and he disappears.

I take my mug and throw it from the window.
I take him and throw him from the window.

I take his fucking receipts and throw them from the window.
I close the window and throw myself through it.

 

 

 

 

Stephen Daniels is the editor of Amaryllis Poetry. His poetry has been published in numerous magazines and websites. His debut pamphlet ‘Tell Mistakes I Love Them’ was published in 2017 by V. Press. Find out more at www.stephenkirkdaniels.com

Heavenly Mountain Road – by Cameron Morse

 

We can so easily … find that we are trapped, as in a dream
and die there, without ever waking up – Rainer Maria Rilke

 

In a factory park on the outskirts
of Yantai, I used to walk around talking
to God: Father, who art in heaven.

And you, my earthly father, I used to
walk along Heavenly Mountain Road
with you, talking to the charcoal sky,

the windbreaks, the dark winter
tide. Like Rilke, I used to fear
I wasn’t really living, and on the night

of my first seizure, I knew I had to die
to bring you back, but I weary of waiting:
If you aren’t coming, I will take

your place at the kitchen counter, pick
paper jackets off your cloves of garlic.
I will slice onion under running

water and scoop out the seeds of baked
spaghetti squash. I will feed
your family in your stead.

I will feed your godforsaken children.

 

 

 

Cameron Morse taught and studied in China. Diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2014, he is currently a third-year MFA candidate at UMKC and lives with his wife, Lili, and newborn son Theodore Ian in Blue Springs, Missouri. His first collection Fall Risk is published by Glass Lyre Press.

Oberon – by Noel Williams

 

No belt will take the holes, so he has string.
He’s loose, unravelling in the shoplight
against an arch of Gucchi,
pink stomach folds squinting where his button snapped.
Taxis jeer. The bus’s guppy door
won’t take him. He edges shoppers from the bench,
stirring with plastic soles the sludge of wrappers
where pigeons flatter him for crumbs.
Adjusting his crown from Burger King
and rictus grin he shoos them into order,
commands their bobs and curtseys
before they wing it into the silver sky
searching the breadcrumb trail.
And as they fly he wipes at greasespots
on the ripped strip of a Polaroid
bent in the pocket of his heart.

 

 

 

Noel Williams edits Antiphon (antiphon.org.uk), is Associate Editor for Orbis (www.orbisjournal.com) and occasionally mentors fellow writers. His poems have been published widely, won a few prizes, and he reviews for several magazines. His first collection was Out of Breath (Cinnamon Press, 2014). A pamphlet, Point Me at the Stars will appear in 2018.

Occasion for a sonnet – by Maureen Curran

 

I caught you disposing of a dead bird –
remembered you once buried a stray cat
we’d made a pet of, before I got home –
so many useful little censorships.

I don’t believe I have surrendered nor
set back sixty years of feminism
if I admit, in this poem, right now,
that I fell for you all over again.

I could have written about fate or God
whatever unseen forces plot our course.
How we don’t get to glimpse very often
what it is that eases our way, shields us.

But let’s call it love, identify how
we shelter one another day to day.

 

 

 

Maureen Curran is from Donegal, Ireland. Her poems have appeared in Boyne Berries, Crannóg, Envoi, Poetry Bus, Revival, the Stony Thursday Book, Skylight 47, online at Honest Ulsterman, Lake Poetry, Southword, Spontaneity, and Word Bohemia. She blogs with her group here and tweets @maureenwcurran

 

Winners! November/December Readers’ and Editor’s Choice Poems

The winner of the November/December poll for the Readers’ Choice Award is:

Religion of the Species – by Giles Turnbull

…and a coveted prize mug will soon be on its way to Giles.

The Editor’s Choice Poem is:

Sound Bank – by Marilyn Longstaff

selected by Anne Caldwell who said:

“It was a delight to be asked to read the poetry of Algebra of Owls for this issue. The work was wide ranging and inventive. I would like to commend ‘Casting Call’ for its gentle, self-depreciating humour and ‘Leaving Russia’ for the inventiveness of the image of ‘storing promises’ in kneecaps, and its dignity of tone. 

I choseSound Bank’ as the Editor’s choice. I particularly enjoyed the sensory nature and pathos of this poem. It was unusual and original to read a piece of work that focused on sound rather than sight. The attention to detail in this piece was very clear, as well as the emotional impact of losing hearing. It was a poem that quietly grew on me the more I read it. It wasn’t trying too hard, but the choice of language and form felt right, and the writing was not over-worked. A pleasure to read. “