Victoria Pickup

Irretrievable

The beach is a vast realm of endless losses.
Things dropped by carefree people holding hands
are clawed into the fist of a wave, fizzing and frothing
as trailing footsteps dissolve into soupy sand,
the dust of pebbles held in a long-dead hand.
Something that matters is taken and
redistributed to some unreachable land.

On the ferry, back pressed against hard metal bolts,
the rusted cold paint peels onto shoulder pads,
fingers trace the heirloom wedding ring, reconfirm
the presence of a heavy watch chain which
from here could so easily fall into the infinite and
terrifying depths, to spend an eternity amongst
electric fish with dead eyes and sharp teeth.

L’appel du Vide, The Call of the Void, beckons
With a bony finger, pointing at the futility of resisting
The urge to jump. The pull, the draw, the thrill
Keeps me clear of the scalene cliffs, wire-strung bridges,
Shining buildings scraping the skies and mirroring the sun;
Blinded and flailing, the suck of gravity is hard
Nobody can bring you back once you’ve gone.

I dropped my daughter’s tooth down the sink when she
was seven. As she cried to the omniscient toothfairy,
I unscrewed the pipes, each one a perfect slimy O,
Confirming my fears that a piece of her was forever gone,
In the belly of a drifting whale-shark, or worse,
Her pale milkiness slowly eroding in the sewer dirt.


The Truth

Will you forgive me, I wonder,
For showing you the ugly parts
Of my soul.

Will you look back and feel tricked
That I waited until rings were on fingers
And babies had been born
Before I turned myself inside out
And dumped those gnarly entrails
On the table before you,
To untie and de-knot
and spend the nights
Rubbing them between your fingers
Like a fine gold necklace
Found in a long-forgotten pocket.


Bio

Victoria Pickup has written two collections of poetry and is a previous winner of the Café Writers competition, with her poem about a Bosnian chicken. Victoria lives in Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Garry Meek

Grimm

Through woods at twilight, night creatures stir.
An owl’s head hits your gut like a monster, flying
Under the tree top canopy.
Fox stalks through the bushes.
If I was felled & dying, what it would do?
Getting to town and seeing a dog walker feels like finding an axe cutter in Grimm…
If you’ve been affected by any issues in this episode of Countryfile, then howl at the Moon. Will do about as much good as phoning. In the long run…
In the dark.


Bio

Garry Meek is a 41 year old writer who enjoys writing music, plays and comedy. He has received plaudits for his writing and creativity. He enjoys bringing musicality into his poetry, where every word and phrase is picked with clarity and precision. He likes poems that are short so as to stay in the memory and be savoured like little gems. Above all, he wants his poetry to be enjoyed.

Ananya S Guha

This Way A Burning

This way a burning
a turning of fingers
a winter’s bite
this way a turning, burning
a tuning of the warmth
a dash of rain
and even summers will not melt
in the winter’s frost
a hum, a drumbeat
this way taking a turn
towards burnt shadows
a whisper of the wind
memoirs cast doubt
they are but a repository
of all that is given.


Bio

Ananya S Guha lives in Shillong in North East India. He has been writing and publishing his poems for over thirty one years.

Ndaba Sibanda

In The Heart Of Glory And Gladness

Have you ever had the pleasure of observing
the behavior of the wild—the elephants—
in their natural habitat? A lumbering spectacle!

Have you ever had a desire to hang out with guys
like the turtle? Chatting with him, taking him to lunch–
perhaps, feeding and cleaning him. That would be great!

Perhaps dear turtle would start to open up a bit. Thanks
for the wonderful meal and bath. Please, please protect me
from predators. My hatching grounds need to be secure.

Picture yourself in the core of the grassland, in the majesty
of the Victoria Falls, wow!– graced by the presence of the big 5:
the rhino, elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo; hands dirty & caring!


Bio

Ndaba Sibanda is the author of Love O’clockThe Dead Must Be SobbingFootball of Fools and Of the Saliva and the Tongue. His work is featured in The New Shoots Anthology, The Van Gogh Anthology edited by Catfish McDaris and Dr. Marc Pietrzykowski, Eternal Snow, A Worldwide Anthology of One Hundred Poetic Intersections with Himalayan Poet Yuyutsu RD Sharma scheduled for publication in Spring/Summer 2017 by Nirala Press and Seeing Beyond the Surface Volume II. Some of Ndaba`s works are found or forthcoming in  Page & SpineWinning Writers,Peeking Cat Poetry, Piker Press and Pangolin.

Javed Latoo

We are often lost

We are often lost,
in the thickness

of thin things,
in the weed

of our thoughts. We often 
tread through life

like ants tread on an elephant:
close to the skin, lost

in the wrinkles; but 
completely oblivious,

of the whole elephant, 
of the big picture.


Bio

Javed Latoo is a senior medical practitioner and a medical editor based in the UK. In his spare time, Dr Latoo writes poetry as a hobby. His poems have been published in literary journals and magazines ( both print and online) as well as in anthologies. His poetry collections include Gushing Fountain: A Collection of Poems by Javed Latoo ( 2019). Dr Latoo likes to use poetry to explore the philosophy of life, neuroscience and Kashmir. He likes to write in the language of common people, about their ordinary thoughts and their ordinary insights. He manages a UK literary journal “The Beautiful Space- A Journal of Mind, Art and Poetry.”

Paul Sladky

The Day John Lennon Died

We spent the afternoon making love
on Flannery O’Connor’s bed,
ambling through the spring-fed pond
in the upstairs history of the world,
the crutches leaning on the bookcase
in the shadows of the green and purple hat,
and both of us wearing all our clothes

Somehow we managed to steer clear
of that forbidden providence,
except the brief moment I passed my shoe 
to you across the table 
and our thumbs paused, 
touching, 
as if to understand the thirty years
we would not let ourselves transcend

John Lennon might have written in a song,
had he lived,
for Flannery, 
had she,
that speed can trip a cautious pony,
that water feels fast but rises slow,
that the gatekeeper, even if you lose the key,
will still grant entry to the willing

And Flannery, for John, might have written 
a cathedral for squandered love 
where on your knees 
you can lose yourself on the river
in order to find yourself,
no matter how fast the water’s rising,
in the mystery of another mind

Imagine 
John and Flannery,
not Yoko, 
standing naked on that cover 
holding hands, 
watching 
as our uncloaked bodies
rise from the shadows of 
the green and purple hat 
to converge


Bio

I have graduate degrees in linguistics and creative writing from the University of Texas at Austin and have been a Working Scholar at Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. I published one story in Beloit Fiction Journal, and, after life’s uncooperative interventions, am now just setting out to publish my work.

Ada Pelonia

chosen

you ask,
why can’t people love me,
like me for who i am,
understand me the way
i do to others,
listen to what i say,
support me for the very least,
see my relevance,
& appreciate me?

someone says,
come,
i’m here,
i’ll listen to what you have
buried in your heart /or
in your mind/
i’ll embrace you,
see past your flaws or
the names they’ve plastered
on your body,
just go near &
feel my warmth

you,
despite the need,
regardless of how much
you want it,
answer,
“no, not you”


Bio

Ada Pelonia is a writer from the Philippines. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Royal Rose Magazine, The Brown Orient, Pulp Poets Press, and elsewhere. You may check some of her works on adapelonia.weebly.com or her Twitter @_adawrites.  

Beth McCallum

cutting

you slice onions in the kitchen

shoulder up against another girl’s

you laugh through wet eyes

when i enter the room, you turn

and fill me in.

the knife glides through the papery shell

claps off the cutting board

lifts, squirts down again, breaks apart the vegetable.

my eyes are dry

my laugh contained

my shoulders lonely

i watch her watch you and i watch you watch me

“pass me the potatoes”

“sure,” i say. when i turn to get them

she slips a word into your ear

a word i’ll never hear

but you bite your lip and bow your

crazy little brown-haired head

your ears flare red.

i tumble the potatoes across the cutting board

say something i think sounds funny

she doesn’t crack a smile

you fake a laugh

when i sigh and leave the room

hoping you’ll watch me go, like always

you don’t.

your eyes are on her hands

your knife cuts again

your shoulders graze hers


Bio

Beth McCallum is a Scottish writer, book blogger and candle maker. She is currently seeking representation for her debut novel, a sci-fi dystopian thriller. In her free time, she drinks tea, walks her dog and competitively plays board games.

James Croal Jackson

Airport Protest in a Crumbling America

We march through the airport in cold winds chanting
aluminum fists in the air and when we come home

the Fireball bottle is empty. The chimney is covered
in dust and Johnny has pneumonia for the second time

this year, lungs filled with water but no one else
breathes easily, just tuning into television fills a room

with coughs and silence. We had wings for a minute
but the planes have resumed their spots in the air far

away from the things that hurt. Just gazing down on
wide landscapes of gray plains and small churches

crumbling from the steeples.


Disney

cartoons were a kind of Bible
inside the music a gala
of fleeting buzzing bells

I’m distracted
in my present
situation

looking at the world
from the periphery of wine
glasses stashes of
amusements

laughing
gutted fabrics worn
I swore I said

I’d wait for you
I’m sorry I’m

ten years too late
for the wedding
I euthanized

lips I sipped
from goblets
the weight

on the tray
I could not
carry


Bio

James Croal Jackson (he/him) has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and poems in Jenny, *82 Review, and Reservoir. He edits The Mantle (themantlepoetry.com). Currently, he works in the film industry in Pittsburgh, PA. (jimjakk.com)

James Roberts

Cigarette

Lift leaf
with fingertip.
Fill, roll, lick.

Then flick, click
teeth and flint
grit.

Flame bobs, quivers
steadies
sits.

Both held, one desires
the other
touch it.

So in turn, paper singes
For a second first.
Then burns.

Spark, crackle
paper crisped.

Purse lips
pull deep
and the long exhale.

You’re held,
grounded.
For that moment.


Bus Ride in December

Red dot needles.
Outlines
of masts
on moortops.

Rolls of orange
pinprick glints
that stop
and leave clear space.

Before the barren rise
night’s dark
devours the hill line,
the details.

Aside of streetlamps
and the blinked
warning lights,
only the horizon

above urban glow,
which tricks life aviary
into belief that it is day,
offers navigation.

I don’t need it, though.
as the bus coasts.
I’m not knee deep in mud
compass handed

but sat silently
relaxed, nib scratching.
The driver knows
where to go.


Bio

James Roberts is a poet from Bradford. He’s spent the last two years working on longer writing projects about Catalonia and events in the Calais border zone, but also enjoys writing short, simple pieces. As well as Peeking Cat he has previously been published in Anti Heroin Chic and Route 57.