The dark opens
like a bird or a refrain,
makes loud the forest.
They speak in calls and whistles
who come to the unfamiliar dark:
The death apart from speech.
They gather the meaning
not with tooth or voice or claw,
but with a savage wonder.
The light is small and subtle
that moves in the branching dark
like finch or aspen leaf.
Patricia Nelson is a retired environmental attorney who has worked for many years with the “Activist” group of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her most recent book is Spokes of Dream or Bird (Poetic Matrix Press).
All afternoon we drive
past No Hawking signs beside
orange sellers in full sun, dust
coiling round their toes, unsheltered
by the bony branches of the trees.
There are only oranges to sell,
the fruits clinging to each other,
an outbreak of harvest moons,
the tiny navel hanging from each apex
an ungrown twin. No-one can buy
such an overflow of oranges,
although we try, squeezing
the last taste of a dry season
into our mouths. All afternoon,
I pass you segments, the juice gluing
your hands to the steering wheel.
I lick at the sap
dripping from my lip,
let you spit pips into my open hand.
Fiona Cartwright is a conservation biologist, poet and mother of two young daughters who lives near London, but wanders elsewhere as much as possible. Her poetry has previously appeared in various publications, including Mslexia, Butcher’s Dog, Envoi. Under the Radar and Ink, Sweat & Tears.
so its like this, she
leans out with skirts and canvas shoes
street art should be ephemeral
what matters is time
and how much is left to climb
since then flustered, hallucinating, glowing at the meet
those autos look like ghosts
out at midnight to cop hugs and randoms
knifed wheels spin another sweater out
its all cool
to taste charcoal
she crept across with those gaunts
pretty for her age, aged for her youth
gold light soul so
hearts trying to beat the same
but off key, off kilter, atonal, atoning, gabbering rain
Ryan Kelley is a consumer-survivor of schizophrenia and associated issues. He was born the year they invented intersectionality and is in love with the moon when it’s waning anorexic.
I am unable to explain my inadequacies
to your nearly five year old stamping foot.
How you have grown too heavy for my weak hip.
You were too heavy in my womb, your growing body
creating a weak spot in mine.
A hinge that crumples under the weight of you.
I cannot carry you home.
Zoë is a Poet and Mum from Dukinfield. She has an MA in Poetry from Bath Spa University. Her work has appeared in Magma, Atrium, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Picaroon and The Black Light Engine Room amongst others.
five domes rise
calyxes in a Red Square sky
echoes of the cedar cone
open into petals
tops curling down
soft as a bottom lip
a pout, silken, promises
and I want to
pick one to send to you
but know it would never survive
Tristan Moss lives in York with his partner and two young children. He has recently had poems published in The Poetry Shed, Antiphon, Snakeskin, Amaryllis, Lighten Up Online, Open Mouse, Picaroon Poetry and Algebra of Owls.
The Editor’s Choice poem for November/December will be selected by Ian Harker.
Ian’s debut collection Rules of Survival was published by Templar Poetry in 2017. Most recently he’s been poet in residence at the Henry Moore Institute and runner-up in the BBC Proms Poetry Competition. He’s co-editor of Strix magazine, which was shortlisted for a 2018 Saboteur Award.
When they took Mum to hospital
her face was yellow, belly swollen
tight as a bloody drum, dad said
on the phone. It was mid-April
and I watched the laburnum’s
grey-green leaves being ruffled
by the wind. Just for a few tests,
he said. I sat on the sofa, dopey
with tramadol; the last daffodils
had shrivelled brown; blackbirds
fussed around ivy so overgrown
the fence tilted under its weight.
Don’t go worrying. Women wearing
white salwar kamiz carried bowls
of curry and rice from house to house.
He said she knows you can’t come.
Sharon retired from her career in education in 2015 and started learning to write poems. Her work has most recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in The High Window, Amaryllis, Three Drops from a Cauldron and Words for the Wild