Carol Louise Moon

My Cameo Pin

            “White against a ruddy cliff
you stand, chalcedony on sard.”
THE CAMEO, Edna St. Vincent Millay

White against a ruddy cliff you stand
on a rock in the surf of the bay.  Time
has engraved this image of you.

A cameo pin sticks in a groove of my
heart.  Black is the ribbon which binds
up my throat—       Mother,

my friend, my medallion of life:  your
profile looks away. Though you are gone,
I see you still in chalcedony and sard.


Bio

Carol Louise is a Northern California poet published in many regional poetry journals including Sacramento Voices, and also in Ohio and Missouri. She is an editor, and poetry judge for several state poetry societies. She has been published in several Peeking Cat anthologies. When not composing poetry Carol Louise is busy doing standardized patient acting for several local universities.

Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

 
Iris

She always fed the birds,
her one commitment after Fred died.
When she started to forget –

her son appeared from far away.

He couldn’t leave her alone
and took her back to his remote place,
inland from Aberdeen

When her house was cleared
the half-full tub of fat balls
balanced on her bible.
The van, piled high,
wobbled off down the back lane.
followed by a magpie.

 
Vanda

The woman sat at the back of the train. You couldn’t miss her, a hefty lass with a black jersey bodysuit patterned all over with white swirls and skulls, and a black leather jacket. Her hair was short and blue, a spiky bed-head style. She was about thirty and had a soft, inward smile. Her mobile riffed like a harmonica, different tunes for different callers, honkytonk and blues. The messages kept coming through. Later, I learnt her name was Vanda.

            I got off at Hexham to change trains and Vanda did too. I waited on the platform; she went out, through the exit, to the car park. Ten minutes later she was back; she was accompanied by an older woman in sunglasses. The new woman was petite and neatly dressed in a trouser suit, standard M&S or Next, I’d guess. She steered three small children and a pushchair in front of her. The children called her ‘granny’. The two adults talked with their heads close together, intense and connected. The children closed around Vanda, six hands stroked her and tugged at her body. The boy must have been seven or eight years old and the two girls possibly five and two. Their upturned faces cracked with smiles and their voices zithered with excitement. Vanda nodded towards the older woman in agreement, some private pact, then the children kissed her goodbye,

            ‘See you later Granny,’ said the boy. ‘Have a nice day.’

The granny retreated, her shoulders hunched. Vanda sat down with the children on a three-seater bench and they all talked at once. Their words zinged around in the sunshine,

            ‘I’ve missed you, mum.’

            ‘I’ve missed you too.’

            ‘And me too, mum?’

            ‘Yes, you too.’

The little one climbed onto Vanda’s lap, stuck her thumb firmly in between her chocolate smeared lips and curled her body into her mother’s breasts. She half closed her eyes and her tiny body relaxed.

            Before the next train arrived, the boy got onto more serious stuff about school and his new teacher, Miss Jennings. He repeated what Miss Jennings had said during the last week, the first week back after the summer holidays, the things she needed to know. I couldn’t catch it all, but I could see he was mad keen to share it all. I wondered why she didn’t know already. His eyes shone as he talked and stared up into her face.

            When the train came in, the boy herded his sisters aboard; he ensured their safety as an adult would. It looked as if he’d been doing that stuff for some time. His mum managed the empty pushchair. The group chattered on during the journey to Carlisle, every so often the lad would take one of his sisters to the toilet.

            I had a long, productive day in Carlisle and in the early evening I returned to the station. Vanda and her family were there too. The children clutched Pound Stretcher bags full of plastic toys, their chins were streaked with dried tomato ketchup and sheened with grease. This morning’s energy had faded. The boy shrugged off his sisters when they grabbed his arms, the girls were worrity and unsettled. The biggest change was in Vanda; she seemed to be at a distance from them, as if she had already put them to bed for the night. She wasn’t tetchy with them, but she was on automatic pilot.  One her third visit to the toilet with the kids, our eyes met. I smiled. She smiled back, almost, and raised an eyebrow. The moment passed.

            The train arrived at Hexham station. Time to change. Vanda and her brood heaved themselves off the train, assisted by the ticket collector. They were met by an old-ish man.

            ‘Grandad, Grandad,’ the children said.

The tired little troupe shuffled off out of the station, back to the car park. I sat there and waited for my connection. I hoped that I was wrong. I hoped that they’d all gone home together. After twenty minutes my mood picked up; yes, I had been wrong. But, no. As the train approached Vanda returned, her wild clothes and blue hair a foil for her empty eyes, her face set in a rigid mask. On the train, I avoided eye contact, although I wanted to hug her. I realised she knew I’d clocked it all. She needed her privacy. She travelled on towards Newcastle, her phone was quiet, and she returned to the life that kept her away from her boy and two girls. They would be safe in Hexham, probably loved, yet still starving for the smell of her, of Vanda.


Bio

Ceinwen lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. She graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in 2017. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

Kersten Christianson

Minus Tide

Beneath the full moon
of a flashlight’s beam:
starfish hatchery.

Tiny five-armed stars
bed among sea grass,
the rocking cradle

of tidal current.
The expanse of beach
mirrors the black sky

and we, raingear-garbed
marvel at low tide
creatures, the moment,
of being alive.


Bio

Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, Alaskan. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon, she lives in Sitka, Alaska. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing (University of Alaska Anchorage). Kersten has authored two books of poetry: What Caught Raven’s Eye (Petroglyph Press, 2018) and Something Yet to Be Named (Aldrich Press, 2017). She is also the poetry editor of the quarterly journal, Alaska Women Speak.

Kayleigh Campbell

Christmas Dinner

She exhales cigarette smoke,
immediately full of regret
that she didn’t keep it a while longer,
as he spits venom at her,
his eyes dressed for a fight.
She watches the glimmer of lights
in the steamed up window,
from the tree in the kitchen,
unopened presents underneath;
he doesn’t want to talk anymore.
Her head hurts from the whole bottle,
all she can smell is burning.

 
Just friends

A ghost of what used to be
is haunting his head and his sheets.
The smell clings to his pillow,
the creases speak of an absent body.
An unparalleled tenderness,
here only yesterday.

 
Test Tube

We kept the cord;
the shrivelled, blackness.
It’s on the new IKEA bookcase.
Skin,
smaller than a ten pence piece.
For nine months we said we wouldn’t,
rolled our eyes, turned our noses.
But your flesh is golden.


Bio

Kayleigh Campbell is a creative writing PhD student at The University of Huddersfield. She is an editorial assistant at Stand Magazine and has been published both in print and online, including Eye Flash Poetry, Indigo Dreams Publishing and Riggwelter Press. She is a mum to her nine-month old daughter, Eliza.

Kenneth Pobo

An Accident

Raylene met Skip in high school,
thought he was cool, despite a rumor
that he had killed his cousin Lena. Oh well,
surely it was an accident. He wouldn’t turn

violent, would he? They married
when she was 20, he 21. It’s been crummy,
she thinks, but fears
it’s probably worse alone—

like her Aunt Flynn who sees the Virgin
in her mashed potatoes and prays
to meet someone as she spoons on gravy.

 
Skip Drives

Driving is the one time
when I’m free. I’m not married
on a road, no one’s son,
no one’s employee. I know
side roads from Joplin to Kansas City,
more fun than highways. Towns

pop up like prairie dogs.
On a great day I find a diner
with great burgers or shakes–
when I die maybe I’ll be
a perfectly made French fry.

I might be buried in my car
if gravediggers widen the hole.
My wife carps that I’m nuts. I don’t
disagree. About this.

She’s happiest indoors, staying
In our parlor which she decorates
with thrift shop dolls. I’m stared at
in a doll zoo. I go out

to my 2007 Chevy Cobalt SS,
an angel that knows
where good eats are,
what tunes to blast forever.

 
Long Sleep

Raylene believes that all of her cats
will go to Heaven. Skip says no,

they just go and that’s that. She
says cockroaches don’t go to Heaven—
why would God want them crawling up
gold streets, living in tidy mansions?
Skip says cockroaches might get
a better place than most people—
who are mean, lazy, and arrogant.
Raylene says that Skip is mean,
lazy, and arrogant. He says yes,
but I don’t care about Heaven—
it sounds like a kid’s game
where only the athletes get picked.

Raylene holds their cat Huzzah
and says he will be going to Heaven
even if Skip won’t be there. Huzzah
cries to eat. Fed, he takes a long sleep,
heaven in be a an chair.

 
Bio

Kenneth Pobo has a book of prose poems forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House called The Antlantis Hit Parade. Yavanika Press just published a 15-poem chapbook of his haiku and tanka called Threads. His work has appeared in: Brittle Star, Amsterdam Review, Hawaii Review, and elsewhere.

John Grey

Cross This Field

Yes, I’ve loved many women,
crossed many fields,
mourned entire families of the dead,
and broken lots of toothpicks
that did duty after meals.

I’ve been integral to places
or merely an observer, watching,
waiting, in love, out of love,
crossing fields because the breeze,
the fluttering grass, seemed like
the quickest route to peace.

And these eyes have shed buckets
for the victims of the pile-up on 295,
ones known to me, mother and father,
daughter and two sons, flesh burned,
car crumpled, bones snapped like toothpicks.

I’ve learned to feel without the use
of any fingers, loved people,
even the dead, been through times
when all the wanting in the world
couldn’t make a Lazarus out of
one begotten soul and there’s
been days when nothing bothered
me more than the bits of food
between my teeth.

I keep loving even when
there’s no one to love.
I’m always on the lookout for those fields.
There’s not a one that I don’t stop for.
Some even smooth my way with tombstones,
crosses like toothpicks, broken then repaired.


Bio

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Harpur Palate and Columbia Review with work upcoming in the Roanoke Review, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.

Charles Rammelkamp

The Lady with the Dog


“…the most complicated and difficult part of their journey was just beginning.”


Single ladies of a certain age –
Cass and Anne and Sandy and Liz,
widows, divorcees, spinsters all –
stroll around our neighborhood,
their pooches on leashes,
as if lifelines in hand,
babytalking to their dogs as they go.

Once Sandy told me she hopes
Rosalind outlives her, though it’s unlikely,
given the lifespan of pets,
and the other day Anne came sobbing
up onto my front porch,
heartbroken that Hannah had just died –
sudden unexpected heart failure.
(In fact, I’d seen them on the street
only the other day, healthy animals both,
Hannah pulling Anne along
as if she were a sled driver, arm outstretched,
nearly yanked from its socket.)
I remembered my cats’ demise
twenty years ago,
how accelerated and inevitable it seemed,
death sped up like the final reel of a film.

But when Cass’s Benny died,
it only took her three weeks
to replace him with Elmo
from the animal rescue shelter,
and now she seems happy again,
tugged along the sidewalk
as if to her destiny,
a plastic poop bag around her wrist.


Bio

Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is available from Main Street Rag Publishing. Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, has just been published by FutureCycle Press.

William Doreski

Photo Shoot

Fresh architectural eruptions
spangle the city and tease you
for photographs gaudy enough
to render their planes of color
as two-dimensional artworks
museums could hang on their walls.
You’ve shown at MOMA and Met,
but these postmodern expressions
daunt your pragmatic technique.

As your guide, I should warn you
that the low green enameled structure
contains the dullest bureaucrats,
whose sighs lack romantic sorrow;
while the tall reflective thing clad
in violet plate glass braces
a sheaf of antennae broadcasting
music raucous enough to cloud
whatever image you snap.

Why not catch the winter sun
washing that marble, tomb-like
bus station wheezing diesel fumes?
What of that stainless-steel façade
reflected by the icebound river?
You might depict people burdened
with the weight of Christmas shopping
emerging from a mall embossed
with faux-Aztec and Mayan motifs.

I’m sorry I suggested this trip,
but you said you wanted to plump
your portfolio for the new year,
when grant applications are due.
The restored Museum of Science
glows like a topaz crystal.
Stand over here and notice
how angular the slab-sides look,
how desperate to please the eye.

The camera isn’t really an eye,
though, and isn’t readily pleased.
The city looks defeated by
architecture it can’t absorb.
The new buildings look uneasy
as dentures in a sore old mouth;
but with your grand aesthetic
and years of struggle you know
how to coax your subject to smile.

 
Bio:

William Doreski’s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall (2019).

Scott Thomas Outlar

Student Section

Let the birds take my pen –
they have more to say now than I.

Let them sing about the storms they brave
and each turning of the season.

Let the sky swallow my tongue –
it has seen more than my eyes ever will.

Let it speak about the wars it has resided over
and the ages of peace where all seemed calm.

Let the wind hold my breath –
it has traveled distances I can hardly fathom.

Let it blow with the breeze to islands unexplored
and fill tired lungs with new gasps of expansion.

Let the gods steal my heart –
they know the power of love much greater.

Let them weep and howl, let them scream and dance
and teach of a truth that never wanders astray.


Salvaged Thorns

I found this hat in the fast lane
smashed and stained by a thousand tires

all it takes is one safe rain
to wash away the years

and you can wear it as a crown

I found this heart in the gutter
stitches torn from violent weather

if I sew its threads to golden shine
and sing for you

I hope you’ll treat it better
than I long did my own

I found this orange in the garden
sweetest sugar of the season

liquid sunshine still craves a storm
to kiss deep roots in winter

those eyes speak tales of feasting


Slow Dissolve

You can’t teach new notes to a finished song
years taste hollow like another melted toffee
one scoop of sugar to spike your coffee
it’s enough to brave a storm without eyes

You can’t come clean living in a vacuum
dust piled high atop unread books
sacrifice your pawns but save the rooks
they know best how to move straight ahead

You can’t grease palms with a crown of thorns
masks save face on well-worn hands
planting stored seeds using makeshift plans
it’s enough to soothe the fields through winter


Bio
Scott Thomas Outlar lives and writes in the suburbs outside of Atlanta, Georgia. He hosts the site 17Numa.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, live events, and books can be found. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. His latest book, Abstract Visions of Light, was released in 2018 through Alien Buddha Press.