Friday, 30 April 2021

Four Poems by Judith Skillman

 



Paragon

            in memory, Beth Bentley, October 7, 1921 – February 11, 2021

 

Cleopatra of

Padelford, mentor

whose quiet laughter

held us all in thrall.

Didn’t a shortish

priest flirt with her

on a bus in Rome?

Did she not lunch on

the Brontë sisters,

consider Hazel

Hall’s work in the fine

finesse of critique?

Where does the moon go

in daytime? And she

whose autumn leaves we

turned in our fingers

might disdain this

poem written only

to afford a hat,

a spell, a peach. Now

let us take up again

these hidden articles.

Let’s find no rule to

forbid the dream of

what it is we’re

meant to do, even

in the face of life

more certain than death’s

sentence. Whether she’d

like the metaphor

remains suspect. We

recall her dark eyed

invitation to

re-enter the world

of the packet boat 

in a dirge of birds

stunned by sunlight.

 

 

Somnambulism

 

I came to the dream

of blue orange juice,

the floor with no urinals.

I came to

on a single Ambien,

walked across the yard

in a strappy chemise,

clotted grasses

wet on bare feet.

A tightrope of that

dead mime’s

one night stands

stretched like a rat’s tail.

Made my way

through the maze

of an English garden,

found the garage door

unlocked, climbed

the single staircase

to the kitchen

thinking to make coffee.


 

October’s Mole

 

At it again, undoing the earth,

throwing cakes of dirt

up into light and rain,

shovelling through Hades.

 

Swimming the crawl stroke,

tunnelling for the sake

of mystery into avenues

fragrant with worm-flesh

 

and feathered roots.

Infiltrating the myths,

ragged-toothed as an old woman

I called grandmother,

 

her hair half gone,

her voice a whisper.

At it like an intimate,

How masculine,

 

this rodent, no shovel,

no gloves, naked

except for the grey fur.

In no hurry to remedy

 

wrongs, instead moving

forward, carving out

territory for the sake

of a secret wish. 

 

 

The Quotidian

 

The only news the news.

Listen to the chimes tell

their famous secrets.

I promise to be your vault

if you tell me, your arm

at an angle, how a bone heals

stronger than its break.

When dinner’s over,

our hunger sated

by faux bourbon sauce

over chicken

and broccoli noodled

with ricotta and garlic,

outside in the dark

some thing will walk beneath

an umbrella—flashlight, dog,

no person—dog and light

circling one another

like bicycle pedals.




Judith Skillman is a resident of Newcastle, Washington and a dual citizen of US and Canada. Her work has appeared in Cimarron Review, Poetry, Shenandoah, The Southern Review, Zyzzyva, and other journals. She is the recipient of awards from Academy of American Poets and Artist Trust. Her collection A Landscaped Garden for the Addict is forthcoming from Shanti Arts. Visit www.judithskillman.com

 

 

 

One Poem by Susan Tepper with Art by Digby Beaumont


Art work by Digby Beaumont


CUP

 

When you left I smashed

seven out of eight.

Who wants to remember

seven would remain empty.

The kitchen mess of ceramic

finally swept; still

pieces appeared:

behind the toaster

where your image

in silver scowled.

Spring, I should’ve realized

when baby poison ivy

weak

pushed through the stone wall.

 




Susan Tepper is a twenty year writer and the author of nine published books of fiction and poetry.  Her most recent are a poetry chap CONFESS (Cervena Barva Press, 2020) and a funky road novel WHAT DRIVES MEN (Wilderness House Press, 2019). Currently, she’s in pre-production of an Off-Broadway Play she wrote and titled ‘The Crooked Heart’ based on artist Jackson Pollock in his later years. www.susantepper.com




Digby Beaumont is a self-taught artist whose work has appeared in a number of online journals. Much of his work is with portrait and figure painting. He is also a widely-published writer. His short fiction has appeared in numerous print and online journals and anthologies, including The Best Small Fictions. For a showcase of Digby’s work: https://digbybeaumont.com/ .

 


Four Poems by Afiah Obenewaa



Palm wine Junction




Pain creeps in like a warthog

spreading distaste all around in a quickening quagmire

reducing men to tottering feebles

as it prowls the street with intent.



It lurks behind barricaded windows

sniffing for an entry into darkened rooms

sparing neither friend nor foe.

Pain slithers along guttered alleys

shiny after sprinkles of rainfall

on cemented floors.




Pain keeps coming

sullen, like an unwelcome guest,

gliding from house to house

leaving behind a sickening odor in fenced dwellings

here in Palm Wine Junction

set far from the main road.



Far in the distance

A woman’s pained voice reverberates

across slim-greased walls.

Another child dead in the night

The third in a row.

Malaria.




Rivers
 

Hughes’ rivers transits, cleanses and clenches.

My rivers clasps and etches in memory.

It moistens in watery ripples,

the beginning from the end.

That is my river.

It flows along memory banks,

hiding within the depths, treasures traded on love shores.

My river muffles echoes of sworn allegiances

whispered from the soul of desire.



My river wears a mask

concealing from public gaze

Defiance. Desire. Passion. Urge.

Memories must be preserved

not exposed to public ridicule

in a fit of raging doubt

lest it be mislabeled.

Rivers.

Rivers Preserve.




Ochokobila


They say I must wake up early to fetch your bathing water.

They even added that I make sure it is not biting cold.

I must even stay to carry away your water pot after bathing.

All this I did and more.

I licked the water off your back.

I smeared scented shea butter across your scarred ridges.

I ensured the leathery wrinkled folds around your groin glistened with moisture

I worshipped your manhood

where I offered scented worship.



I was told to quench your sexual desires

And not pay attention to how my own body works.

I exceeded their expectations

Every night I sprawled across your urine-soaked straw mat

Eagerly awaiting your empty thrusts

and feigning moans to match your assertions of masculinity.

All this I did

All these I sacrificed.



Now they accuse me of your death

Tomorrow I must prove my innocence before the Council of Elders

My mothers say I hasten the process

So, we can bury you next market day

And I will be off to serve my sentence with the river goddess.



I am not the first

I won’t be the last.



I wear a knowing smile

I know how exactly you died

My incantations were well-aimed.




Wednesday
 

And so other Wednesdays bear tales of gaiety.

I remember the Wednesday Odarley gave birth

I remember it like yesterday.

Laughter was served in paper plates

We all drank

Oh! I forgot!

We giggled incessantly deep into the night.



My own Wednesday comes in mournful clothes,

dragging solemn-faced-black-cloaked ministers home.

Their monotonic messages of hope

all I need to soothe the scourge of pain.



Sleep sleeps on my Wednesdays

Long before dawn my eyes peer the darkness

And I have to drag half-asleep-slowly-snoring baby

all the torturous way to Special Clinic.



Wednesdays at Korlebu

are a sight to behold.

Varying degrees of feverish heat

are measured out in exact kilos without scales.

All these are doled out by humans in white overalls.



Come see my Wednesdays.

Come help me price my prized oil-bean.

So, the highest bidder wins the auction

and Wednesday appointments are cancelled.





Afiah Obenewaa, is a Ghanaian writer living and working in Ghana-West Africa. Some of her poems are published in online journals like The Mamba, ActiveMuse and PoetrySoup. Her works normally focus on minority groups like women and children.


 

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

“The Alexander Quartet” Four Haiku by John Maxwell O'Brien

 

The Alexander Quartet by John Maxwell O’Brien

 

A Father’s Shadow


Is cast deep and wide

We amble…under it…long

After…he…has…died




Philip II and his son Alexander the Great drawn by Doug Jamieson



A Mother’s Shadow


Even in the womb

Enveloped by love…and fear

From birth…to…our…tomb




Olympias and her son Alexander the Great drawn by Doug Jamieson



Greatness


We…see…something …great

In our own…early on…but

Few…meet…such…a…fate




 Alexander astride the untameable Bucephalas drawn by Doug Jamieson



Hero


Earth’s end…I must meet

Hero’s quest…while…the…world

Lay there…at…his…feet




A silver tetradrachm minted during Alexander the Great’s lifetime and owned by Dorothy O’Brien, the author’s commander-in-chief.




John Maxwell O’Brien is an emeritus professor of history (Queens College, CUNY) who has written scores of articles on the ancient and medieval worlds. His best-selling scholarly biography, Alexander the Great: The Invisible Enemy (Routledge), has been translated into Greek and Italian, and is currently being translated into Arabic. His celebrated novel, Aloysius the Great (Propertius Press), features a history professor who is writing a biography of the Macedonian conqueror. Professor O’Brien and his daughter Christine O’Brien are currently collaborating on an illustrated lyrical biography of Alexander the Great.

 

One Poem by Gene Barry

 



Contriting

 

The horse sailed into town,

saddle polished, silent whip cracking

and without clip-clopping rode quietly

into the arena of a family entertaining life.

 

Saddle bags of disbelief were dissemination

and crept into love pumps that bleated

bewilderment stuffed in grief. Murmurs

of helplessness galloped into each other.

 

No notch on the rider’s gun handle

for that purposeful void that’s left to linger,

no note of explanation for the kidnapping;

just grief and time to work it out.

 

Did he stroke his minion lovingly

before they carefully double saddled,

his pillion lapping the choicelessness

and speaking in a different tongue?

 

Did they both plead and beg and bargain,

spray contrition over each other’s pain,

leave gifts all coated in memories waiting

to be slowly and lovingly unwrapped?


Gene Barry - Irish Poet, Art Therapist, Counsellor, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist.

One Poem by Daniel J. Flore III



THEY LIVE ON MEMORY LANE


it’s
11:10 am
and
whoever lives there
must be at work

the aftermath
of rush hour
is like invisible tumble weeds
through
the roads

the house
reminds me of neighbourhoods
of my past
before I became poor

the rose bushes sway a little in the breeze
like they were inviting me in for a lemonade

I stare at the house like I belong there and it hurts that I don’t

memory lane is
a dangerous place to visit




Daniel J. Flore III’s poems have appeared in many publications. He is the author of 4 books of poetry from GenZ Publishing.






Three Poems by Amrita Valan

 




Blue Blood   

 

I hate the term emerging poet

At times

I wonder if I should carry the shell

Remains of pupa

Pleading for respect.

 

I have not travelled the world

You may think I am ignorant.

 

I wish to show you one day

How I collapse in the

Dirt, breadcrumbs of sloppy

Children’s dinner

On which red ants feast.

 

I fall to sleep dreaming

Of writing.

 

I am on a magic bicycle that

Can carry all of us safely 

across the workaday world

To subtle dimensions

That only a poet

Feels in her veins.

 

I reach into my heart

For fresh blood

But readers want

Blue, deoxygenated dreams

Famished empty streams.

 

The daily fights

Cobwebs on

My soul,

Scrubbing on broken knees

That I leave behind.

 


The Leer

 

I fear sympathy

But your

Misplaced empathy

 

Murders my soul.

 

What am I supposed to

Feel?

Gratitude?

Loyalty?

 

It boils down to inferiority

Condescension

And charity.

 

I want to

Meet my equal

 

I don’t want

That full bodied

Dazzling smile

 

That cheers.

 

It reeks of

 

Sly intimacy

 

A leer.

 

You are going to

Sort me out.

 

No.

I am not

Your wardrobe.

 

I will not be

Colour coordinated

 

And shelved seasonally.

 


It Girl, for Real.

 

I am the dark

I am the light

I give up.

I still

Got some fight.

 

I have the right.

To know my rights.

 

Don’t Judge

Don’t fudge

The issues

Smudge my

Cheap mascara in

Your expensive

Scented tissues.

 

I am not here 

To scale

Your social ladder

Your reference points

Make me sadder.

 

No soul

Should be

Smothered.

 

I am It.

I got grit.

 

The real thing.

This bird will fly

Her mangled wings.

 



Amrita Valan is a writer based in Bangalore, India and has a master’s degree in English literature.

Her poems and short stories have been published in more than a dozen anthologies and online journals such as Café Lit, Café Dissensus, ImpSpired, Spillwords, The Crossroads, Oddball Magazine, Shot Glass Journal, Poetry and Places, Wink, Modern Literature, Portland Metrozine, The Indian Periodical, The Writers Club and Potato Soup Journal and most recently Short Story Town. She is also awaiting publication in a few more anthologies and online literary zines. 

 

Five Poems by Ivan Peledov

 



Off 

 

Forests don’t speak volumes, but the trees 

can't stop mumbling, and each of their words

is good for a wastebasket. Each of their gestures,

a torture for geese and humans.

We bought half the Moon

just to hide from them.

 

 

How many arms do you need 

to carry your share of the stars? 

Winged dogs are poor guards

of the rifts in the void. 

Winged frogs don't even exist.

 

 

Some pretty beasts lure tourists 

into the guts of the sky. 

Evergreens smother climbing prophets. 

They hardly know the future anyway.

How much paper do you need

to map all the clouds?



Unravelling

 

When you cease being a word, you are just

a memory of a dancing shadow,

and the universe is roaring in every 

public restroom if you care to pay attention.

There is a five-legged sun asleep on the roof.

Fish bloom in the fields, air is cheap.

Vacant benches tremendously enjoy it,

contemplating the other side of the skyline,

and the psalms of crumbling walls decimate

the ranks of celestial dwellers.



Monsters around the Corner

 

Cottonwood trees watch the geese 

taking a nap on the wing.

Music is a mistake.

Wine is a humanized 

replica of water. It's time 

to choose the shape of euphoria:

Apple or pear?



A Quilt for a Cow

 

Sun people eat rails and ties.

Moon people caper on highways.

It's cold. It takes time to check 

all the doors and windows of the air.

Butterflies sleep in the snow.

Foxes leave their tails 

in the gaps between discarded lullabies.



Still

 

Amid the smell of grass pissed over by coyotes,

gullies replete with insect spirits,

plants miming menorahs,

sounds of animals that doubted my existence,

I was a rusty road sign that couldn’t read itself.






Ivan Peledov lives in Colorado. His poems have been recently published in Eunoia Review, Artifact Nouveau, Ponder Savant, and Fevers of the Mind.

 

One Superb Poem by Antonia Alexandra Klimenko

Beautiful Lies                                Don't be a stranger ! you said Just come as you are if I'm still around th...