Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Five Poems by Joan Leotta


 

Mike’s Mountains

 

I visited neighbours

Mike and Cheryl the other day.

I brought her, in caregiver mode,

some chocolate.

Brought Mike a photo

I’d taken of sunrise in mountains.

I think I snapped it in France

in the time we all could travel,

before the world was ill.

I knew he’d like it since after all

mountains are wonderful no matter

where they are--upward rising peaks

calming the spirit, giving hope

that we, like them, can rise high,

high enough to knock on at

blue sky heaven’s door.

I told Mike I wasn’t sure

about the location of these mountains.

Confessing my confusion

about the location of these, I said,

“Mike, a West Virginia man like

yourself loves mountains,

no matter where they are. Right.”

He looked at the photo, smiled,  

set it aside and laid down.

His wife pulled a blanket

over his too thin limbs,

then walked me to their door.

 

She whispered that the next day

she’d be taking Mike to hospice

because the doctor told her,

“He has just a few days

more at most. We can care

for him better there.”

When Mike waved good-by,

I think he knew that

like his beloved

mountains he

would be knocking at

heaven’s door.

No wonder when I left,

he was smiling.

 

 

My Neighbor Died Last Night

 

On sunny days 

he’d sit out on the porch

waving at us,

always ready to chat and laugh

until he went inside for supper.

Last night,

rain

thunder

repeating

lightening all

night long extending 

into a dark, damp, dawn.

The day was grey and

then my neighbour’s wife called.

It seems sky’s percussion, flash and sparks

accompanied my neighbour’s march                      

from his porch into the next world.

 

 

Listening to Sunset

 

Crickets in the dune grasses

birds calling out when

they see unguarded food,

parents calling children

to stay close because it will be dark soon,

these are quiet compared to what

will come.

Standing by the ocean,

my toes relaxing in the small, gentle

tickle of tiny waves rolling

in as sun’s pink and

orange and purple crayons roll

over the white clouds,

at last, the sound I’ve been awaiting

comes when sun

dips into the water--a sizzle,

then a sigh like I

make dipping into a warm tub

to relax my muscles

after a hard day of work.

I look around but no one

else looks up, seems to hear it.

I marvel that others only look

but do not listen to the sunset.

 


A haiku about the sun

 

Sun’s Midas touch

transforms grey tide pools

into golden mirrors

 

 

Why I Love the Moon More

 

Yes, I admit it, I love the moon

more than I love the sun,

that ever present steady globe,

round and full always.

Oh, I know that spots

fly across his surface

And occasionally he

disappears in an eclipse

but mostly he is there, all

present for the day.

Moon, however, is more

forthright. She changes,

yes, nightly, not even waiting

for eclipse. We see her different

sides, her varied moods,

each eve we look up.

Her sliver glow is orb like

or crescent thin, full or

loosing light or gaining same.

She is a creature more like me,

changeable--

so, yes, I trust her more.

 



Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. She performs tales featuring food, family, nature, and strong women. Her writings are in Ekphrastic Review, Pinesong, Lothlorien, The Sun, Brass Bell, Verse Visual, anti-heroin chic, Gargoyle, Silver Birch, Ovunquesiamo, Verse Virtual, Poetry in Plain Sight, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Yellow Mama, and others. She’s a 2021 Pushcart nominee,  received Best of Micro Fiction, 2021 (Haunted Waters), nominee for Best of the Net, 2023, and 2022 runner up in Frost Foundation Poetry Competition. Her second chapbook, Feathers on Stone, is coming in late 2022 from Main Street Rag. She is a member of the North Carolina Poetry Society, a member and area representative for North Carolina Writers Network and on the stage side of her work, member of, and as the coastal area representative for NC’s Tar Heel Tellers and coordinates Poetry Workshops/Readings online through her county Arts Council.

Joan Leotta
Author, Story Performer
“Encouraging words through Pen and Performance”

Nominated for Pushcart and Best of Net in 2021

"Feathers on Stone" poetry chapbook available for pre-publication orders now at

https://mainstreetragbookstore.com/product/feathers-on-stone-joan-leotta/

Other Joan Leotta Books

Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, Finishing Line Press (Amazon)

Morning by Morning and Dancing Under the Moon, two free mini-chapbooks are at https://www.origamipoems.com/poets/257-joan-leotta 


Five Poems by Wayne F. Burke

 


Friends

 

My best friends are Doug and Carrie

Hefferman from "King of Queens."

 

I dreamt Doug ran in the Kentucky Derby

without a horse,

and won.

 

(How sad is that--best friends are TV sit-com

characters?

1. Very.

2. Quite.

3. Extremely.)

 

I dreamt I had sex with Carrie

and woke, pregnant.

 

I can't wait to see what

comes out, and

where--

if a boy I will name him

Pyrite.

If a girl

Myst.

 

 

Catholic

 

In school they called me "Wally"

because I looked like Wally Cleaver.

The black kids asked me:

"Wally, have you seen Beaver?"

I gave them the finger, and

they chased me; 

I ran like a gazelle around the

schoolyard each recess period...

I tried out for altar-boy

but got cut from the team

by an acne-scared priest who

smelled like

cloak--

I chose "Daniel" as my

confirmation name:

he who, in the Bible, lived in the

lion's den.

 

 

Play

 

a fly with long pincer arms

and a fur coat on

says "so long" as

it exits

stage left, and

the clowns come on

as the hero, backstage

dies in the arms of the heroine,

heir to fortune's favours

in "Mourning Becomes Electric."

 

 

gabble goop from

goofy gobbler

downstairs--

on her porch,

perched:

gobble-gobble

gabba-

gobba,

popple 

gapple 

cackle-cluckle.

 

 

Cosmology

 

the sky is a river

flowing through the

clouds, which

are rocks

banked along the

river's edge,

but the rocks are

moving too

like everything else,

one big free-for-all

that the earth

is passing through--

the whole thing

balanced on

the shoulders

of someone

with a name

you do not hear

anymore,

like "Valmore"

or "Silvester."

 

 

Advice

 

you will be alright, kid

hang in there

keep the chin up

something will turn up,

don't get your shorts in a knot--

go run a few laps,

say some prayers

ask god to help you

he just might

okay kid?

And keep your pecker up

ha ha

don't turn down nothing

that shows up

don't take any wooden nickels

either

and don't worry

things will turn out

you'll see!

and

hey!

don't forget what I've said!


Wayne F. Burke's poetry has been widely published in print and online (including in LOTHLORIEN POETRY JOURNAL). He is author of eight published poetry collections--most recently BLACK SUMMER, Spartan press, 2021. He lives in the state of Vermont (USA).

 


 

 


Five Poems by Mandy Beattie


 


Raven Signpost

 

Snail-driving through a clutch of tiptoeing chickens, I skirt giant teacups of tar at the old coastguard station — Single track road a ribbon through scrap metal, pylons of trees stacked in cornrows, bodies. A carrot haired man and boy in a raspberry van stop at a passing place; watch seagulls fly in greylag geese symmetry in wave synchronicity above broody aqua-marine, petrol-grey, moss-green. I inch past the chocolate Labrador knee deep in dead daffodils, sea pinks, drowsy dandelions; collar gripped by a woman I know for seeing. We wave in the Highway Code of one car roads. For no reason I turn my head like a right-angle triangle; see a raven the size of an outgrown piglet — a gargoyle sat on a fence post staring into who knows when? I wonder what it’s doing here so out of place and not up West? Is the next S.O.S another type of passing place in June; similar to raven triplets in November? Is this messenger a signal to again gird hearts like nutmeg, walnuts? — This noble nutcracker waits with me and ticking hands against the wall.

 


                               Decoupage of Autumn

                                            In memory of, John Muir

       

                                              In this forest full of ring fingerprints

                           and peacock feather eyes

                                                          watching

                                         you clung fruit bats

                      on antler branches            

                                      under buttermilk sky —

                                                               A Midas-butterfly of leaves

                                    in a lava hoedown

                                                  onto earth’s clavicle, scapula. Each

                               leaf-palm miniature tree of life

                                                        in pepper-pink

                                        plum-magenta

                                                          mustard-mauve

                              coyote-brown. Watching

                                                         cornucopia-confetti float down —

                                  Alone in silence, without baggage

                                                               I pick a leaf-posy

                                  to fossil-frame, press

                                                                burnt-umber

                                                   ruby-russet

                                                                blue-spice

                                                 burnt-sienna in slices

                                                                  of rice paper to dry

                        in a sycamore kiln. Brushstrokes

                                                                 building glue-bricks in an autumn

                             mimic of organdie and lawn

                                                                          

  

 

John Muir — Alone in silence, without baggage

 

 

Leaving The Ark

 

Bubble of light

 

lengthens. Lark-dawn

becomes striated

 

stone as cataract

ebbs. Turnstile between

 

fields under needles

of backlash, whiplash

 

still starch. Snowdrop traffic

un-jams. Arthritic wood

 

ermined in slush

and snow invite

 

nest and chorus. Glass

becomes puddle

 

in allotment of parsley

green. Daffodil splash of

 

sun. Under sky

of spark and tinder, lambs

 

limb stalactites unfold

their chrysalis. Tractor

 

blades become arc

of swan's neck

 

 

Corvid’s Eye of Hag-stone

 

We recognise each other from when I was raven-over-seer but us became invisible, indivisible because we could take no more of seeing fast forward to what un-feelies would invoke, transpire; at tethers-end looking into mirrored balls, shrouded fog. Of seeing veils demist what was and yet to be and now it is again anew, as we mark time. Pinion feathers stilled with bated breath at bewigged tomfoolery, folderol, lollygagging folly as the earth fires, floods, famines, storms and all the ravens arrive to prophesise but still you twiddle thumbs, unloose forked tongues. Make widow’s peaks as oak weeps and owl heads swivel. Then will come three days of night. The eleventh month. The eleventh hour.

 

 

Stroma: A Leaving & Returning

 

The Boy James on the road over

flirts with the Pentland Firth

Escort of orca & humpback

 

whales are half-moons leaping

in white-tipped waves & fidgety

air. The Boy James bumps into

 

black tyres. Thick rope flung

hung loose-hipped round

its mooring bollard. Spilling

 

its embargo-cargo — Class of '61's

daughters & sons onto the quay

An auk's whaup heralds homecoming

 

through isosceles glass teeth

of the scarlet phone box

The black receiver a pendulum

 

in a Nor' Easter — But & ben's windows

the third eye on hiccoughing doors

& scalene cobwebs. Fallen-arches

 

& slate are sheep pens, runs for

hillocks of sharn & guano in

scunnered box-beds. In the tool

 

graveyard outside a window

a mangle sits in sunlight, its black

rust-iron handle a closed parentheses

 

A vintage of wheels of verdigris

& rust: cart, tractor, car; Stainless

Steel taps & soup spoons in whins

 

Buoys are soil-plugged

blood-grapefruits & radishes

sat beside a bleached beached

 

yole. Half-eaten stern folded

accordion pleats. The Boy James

unfurls; casts off in burnt orange

 

sunset, its petted lip a diptych

Harbour porpoises click & whistle

seals beach. On the road back

 

o   Yole — Traditional Stroma fishing vessel






Mandy Beattie frequently loses herself in poetry, books & imaginings. Pen, paper & words without borders are some of her favourite things. She has been published in poetry Journals such as: Lothlorien, Poets Republic, Dreich, Wordpeace, The Haar, Wordgathering, The Clearance Collection, Spilling Cocoa with Martin Amis, Last Stanza, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Visual Verse, Book Week Scotland. Winner of Poets Choice in Marble Poetry Broadsheet. Shortlisted in the Dreich Black Box Poetry Competition. She has a forthcoming poems in, Drawn To The Light, Spoonie Anthology & Journal, The Pen Points North & Crowstep & a short story in the inaugural edition of, Howl. She is soon to be featured poet with Lime Square Poets.

 


Six Pantoum Poems by Gary Bills

 



SLEEPING MANDOLIN


The fretworked ‘O’, the settled dust,

And still, a sleeping mandolin;

Silence waits, as silence must,

For songs of grace or songs of sin.

 

And still, a sleeping mandolin –

Satyrs pause around the ‘O’

For songs of grace or songs of sin;

They’re carved into the sins they know…

 

Satyrs pause around the ‘O’,

Frozen in their attitudes;

They’re carved into the sins they know,

(Indifferent to beatitudes.)

 

Frozen in their attitudes,

The fretworked ‘O’, the settled dust…

Indifferent to beatitudes,

Silence waits, as silence must.

 

 

THE CRIES OF BIRDS


I waste my days beneath the wings of birds,

The cries of birds. Sometimes, I stop and stare;

More often, I’m too busy spouting words

To catch the benedictions of the air –

 

The cries of birds. Sometimes, I stop and stare;

More often I’m too low or self-obsessed

To catch the benedictions of the air,

With more important things to be addressed.

 

More often, I’m too low or self-obsessed

To notice there’s a call, a cry from light;

With more important things to be addressed,

No day is quite enough, before the night,

 

To notice there’s a call, a cry from light;

More often, I’m too busy spouting words –

No day is quite enough before the night;

I waste my days, beneath the wings of birds.



CHANGE AMONG THE STATUES

 

Autumn by the lake – the scent of fires;

Across the bay, wild geese are calling snow,

While flakes of ash are settling with desires;

A season’s ending quickly, and you know.

 

Across the bay, wild geese are calling snow

To cover lichened statues from the spring -

To coronet with ice sweet Flora’s brow;

(Unhappy nymphs, you neither dance nor sing.)

 

To cover lichened statues from the spring,

Stone Boreas will sound his sea-found horn.

(Unhappy nymphs, you neither dance nor sing;

You gape and frown in anguish, old and worn.)

 

Stone Boreas will sound his sea-found horn;

(Ah, feel his note vibrating through our lust..!)

Nymphs gape and frown in anguish, old and worn;



They do not love his season, but they must.



 

ABOVE THE MALVERNS

 

Only the skylark sings itself too high,

Insistent, so the light will take it in,

A present for the yawning August sky,

Which values neither melody nor din.

 

Insistent, so the light will take it in,

The skylark pipes out notes to charm the sun

(Which values neither melody nor din

And slips away when all the clamour’s done.)

 

The skylark pipes out notes to charm the sun,

Above the Malverns, timed against the light -

Which slips away when all the clamour’s done,

And hides beyond the heady ferns of night.

 

Above the Malverns – timed against the light,

Above the Sunday walkers passing by

And far beyond the heady ferns of night,

Only the skylark sings itself too high.

 

 

QUESTS

 

The ships with gilded prows must leave the world

Now autumn’s here; the charters have grown old,

Though leaves are maps and maps are leaves, unfurled,

To show the way to lands of blood and gold.

 

Now autumn’s here, the charters have grown old,

And summer’s chance of conquest fades away,

And those alluring lands of blood and gold

Are whispers from a fresh, impatient day

 

As summer’s chance of conquest fades away –

The things I might have challenged in myself

Are whispers from a fresh, impatient day,

For now all kingdoms sleep upon the shelf.

 

The things I might have conquered in myself

Became the quests I found but feared to start,

For now all kingdoms sleep upon the shelf,

I cannot make an empire of my heart.

 

 

THE ELF KING

 

The boy must ride a fever through the storm

And thinks his father holds him round the waist,

And holds him tight to keep him safe and warm;

But there’s no storm, no horse, no midnight haste.

 

He thinks his father holds him round the waist;

Behind them howls the Elf King in his need;

But there’s no storm, no horse, no midnight haste,

Though Death pursues with preternatural speed.

 

Behind them howls the Elf King in his need,

(The glow of youth and beauty drives him wild…)

Yes, Death pursues with preternatural speed,

To offer all his kingdom for that child -

 

The glow of youth and beauty drives him wild!

The father’s yelling ‘no’ and ‘no’ again;

He offers his own life to save his child,

Then listens to the midnight’s wind and rain.

 

 


Gary Bills was born at Wordsley, near Stourbridge. He took his first degree at Durham University, where he studied English, and he has subsequently worked as a journalist. He is currently the fiction editor for Poetry on the Lake, and he has just completed studying for his MA, at BCU. 

His poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including The Guardian, Magma, HQ and Acumen, and he has had three full collections published, – “The Echo and the Breath” (Peterloo Poets, 2001); “The Ridiculous Nests of the Heart” (bluechrome, 2003); and “Laws for Honey” (erbacce 2020). 

In 2005, he edited “The Review of Contemporary Poetry” for bluechrome. Gary has given professional readings at the Ledbury Poetry Festival, Poetry on the Lake in Italy, and at the Poetry Trend Munich Festival in 2010. 

His work has been translated in to German, Romanian and Italian. A US-based indie publisher, The Little French, published his first novel, “A Letter for Alice” in 2019, and a collection of stories, “Bizarre Fables”, in 2021. These were illustrated by his wife, Heather E. Geddes. His second novel, "Sleep not my Wanton", came out in January 2022.

Five Poems by Joan Leotta

  Mike’s Mountains   I visited  neighbours Mike and Cheryl the other day. I brought her, in caregiver mode, some chocolate. Brou...