Artwork by Jane Burn
Issue 2 edited by Julie Pellowe & Louise Larchbourne
A Mystic Vine
Fools fall in love
because there is no other way
to go about it.
All the bending and twisting and angling
that must occur is a fool’s errand at best.
In a decade or two
they will each wonder
who was the greater fool
to end up in this ridiculous state.
But they will have been fooled again.
Love is not static. Love is not refined.
Love is a mystic vine,
bending, twisting, angling,
redefining itself every long day,
ensnaring even old fools
because love is willing to live
in the absurd even
if it lives just a little.
By Richard King Perkins II
After a Dogwalk
Mortality this middling morning. Why?
In parkway mud, eight paw-prints and the lug-
soles of our boots. Suburban hieroglyphs
some future culture could decipher by
the facts. Or divination. Might just shrug
its shoulders, file us with the other ifs.
I daydream words you say to frame our dog-
walks, save our lives: “We are so lightly here,
as Leonard Cohen says. Relax. Your fear?
Just bacon sizzling; drain and eat it. Fog
is lifting. Coffee’s kicking in. Let’s let
our spirits rise straight through the golden light
that rubs its fur against the windows. Night
is not the only time for love, my pet.”
By Thomas Zimmerman
At Hogues Point Road, Maine
I walked perfect night down a sandy Hogues Point road,
caught between snoring and lovers at midnight call,
waiting for the fish to wake. I felt heat of stars and
sand’s softened abrasives, the mad interplay of
elements thrusting at moccasin thickness, keen eyes.
Ahead, the moon pushed light’s blade through trees’
perfection, leaves scattered delight, a late moth began
a struggle towards infinity’s far edges. I drank my warm
beer, remembering a starfish caught just hours before
on a burst of rocks, its five fingers seeking sweet solace,
and momentary salvation for my senses. I knew I had
no enemies, I had no hate. I moved out, into, alone
with the grace of stars, these emery wheels of sand,
the sudden recall of what is rough and ready may be
the smoothest of all.
By Tom Sheehan
It was kill
or be killed.
Patti was playing
on the floor,
but then the rain
came and Uncle Al
was eating salt
from his own hand.
It wasn’t common,
and they posted
the death notice on
in the town square.
Yes, that’s my
Uncle, I said,
and put my head down
hard on the desk.
said it was an
accident. The floor
had mice living
The funeral was
like a whisper
to a dead God.
I forgot his name
after several years
had passed, but
Patti never did.
By Katarina Boudreaux
Landscape with Crows and Ravens
A murder’s what it’s called, the night-black flock
that Scarlet barks at mornings. Smartest birds:
so ominous but wise. I’m bagging turds,
the dogwalk maven of my neighbors’ block,
though not as sage as Odin, god who gave
an eye for wisdom, got two ravens for
his throne. I trot with Percy, black as ore
and kin to Cerberus, nine times more slave
than I to intuition, midnight laws.
If only I could be so wise. I want
to grow night-black with knowing, keen to meet
my long-dead parents on some howling street,
some honking crag, to ask them why they haunt.
I trust they will interpret croaks and caws.
By Thomas Zimmerman
corn bowed before
wind, bent to
broken in night cries
broken again and
again until even
roots dug deep
in hidden waters
fail and we are broken
where cracks splinter
hands and dirt caked
nails, broken in blood
and teeth, our voices
spit chalk powder
of angry breath, eardrums
ruptured, eyes torn
out, streets ripped
and broken, our legs
worn away, bodies
lost, broken in star
light, our mouths
nothing but red
gashes on the broken
face of the last full moon.
By Steve Klepetar
Write what you will.
It is easy to tell
that you have
time to waste,
but that you waste it
When a humming bird
writes the last line,
the sun will rise less high
and wind will be more chill.
Out of every creatures’
voice the chorus;
By Emily Pittman Newberry
No going back
She’s made of a million white-fingered sleights of hand,
light-touch lies like slight dust traces. Look,
an example: a small metal cage, inside,
banked-up, shredded pages of The Guardian,
a scum-ringed bowl, no food, no animal.
He’s hiding, she’s insisting to her school friend,
with a blistering of shame.
Like bonfire toffee resisting the hammer,
her childhood lies are solid until they smash:
see her thumb’s blood dripping on lino. She claims,
I cut it on the sideboard’s edge. But no.
She tested out the long, serrated knife,
found it a fraction delicious, dangerous, deep,
then sore and wet and red.
With age, her lies are rusted rods through concrete.
To pick apart the false and true would need
the demolition gang, the wrecker’s ball,
to smash away her children, jobs, her partners;
render teenage fads and projects rubble;
rase her pram, crush toys and bottles;
get right back to the pain in her mother’s eyes.
By Louise Ordish (Published on the Poetry School’s Campus blog)
Name your poison
These malevolent Buddhas are behind your eyes;
the world slants awkward through their steady gaze.
Days are dust motes. You watch them float.
The lies you hear, the horrific truths?
It’s those demons swimming in your ear canals.
You can’t stop the metronome of strokes.
I know there’s a knife in your back;
one of them’s collecting butterflies.
Cunning lepidopterist – he knows how small
wings cut; his hollow laugh bleeds you dry.
They weren’t named quickly so take it slow.
Allow them one Last Supper of your thinnest skin.
Let your fat frogs lie back and bloat.
You’ve fed these metaphors too long.
Explode the myths, just tell it straight;
their deaths are on the tip of your tongue.
By Catherine Ayres
So many rules. Do’s and don’ts.
A good memory, keen wits. Vital.
A slip-up would get you slapped –
or standing naked in the dorm for days.
Rules bound the mind.
Locked it in a box,
so that curiosity, self-expression could not
escape. Even after release the thought
of getting it wrong would bring palpitations.
It took a long time to find backbone,
to find our self-worth.
It kept one on edge. Being a victim
became appropriate, expected.
By Miki Byrne
Beyond the Throes
……………..of Jealous Sires
Night blindsides the stars—
conceals itself inside their shadows.
Why do sires hate their children?
Even broken flowers yield milk.
Ugly lights breach shuttered
wombs where mothers kiss.
Drying rain chills the bones—
…………………….ice seems cold.
There are too many people—
………………….. no grass, no trees.
The foal stands firm, then suckles;
freed from a trilogy of shallow
breaths, fickle limbs, and wild-
eyed stallions who paw their own
reflections, then nuzzle the farrier
clapping them in irons. Beyond
the throes of jealous sires
are hallowed valleys and clover
fields in tall yellow, where fox
pups and loosed ponies frolic—
……………not a hobblestone in sight.
By Kevin Heaton (First published in Rose & Thorn Journal: Spring, 2012)
We all looked the same. Identical haircuts
bowl-shaped on our heads, warded off nits.
From the assembly stage we were a pebble beach,
random coloured, rounded but placed in rows.
Same drab uniform. Two pairs of knickers
worn one over the other. Reason never given.
The inner pair washed daily, a ritualistic dunking,
boxed in by routine; same dull food eaten,
same staff feared, hated. Same dream of home.
Of leaving. Lessons force-fed to us.
Church on Sunday. Catholics segregated.
Off to another church down the road.
We wrote our silently penned letters (censored).
Lived as a unit of automatons.
Isolated, afraid, alone.
By Miki Byrne