Tuesday 31 August 2021

Two Wonderful Poems by Michael J. Leach


Melbourne Street Art Septet, Circa 2021



disproportionately large grass

-hopper camouflaged

by greenery



fetching feminine face


in three shades of blue



monochrome masculine mug


with red irises and red pupils



one                                                     eno

light                                               thgil

heart                                                traeh

cradled                                         deldarc

by the limbs                         sbmil eht yb          

of a leafless tree            eert sselfael a fo

frozen in midwinter retniwdim ni nezorf



spherical green monster

baring pronounced




the capital word


written on a ribbon

draped round

red roses





of realist art

sprayed on a street sign:

viral mutations are real

The Hearts of Matters


A golden shovel whereby the final word of each line is from U2’s song ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’, which appeared on their album ‘War’ (1983)


Sunday 15 August 2021


Conflicts continue in all manner of fields & trenches.

Peoples the world over have dug


down deep to find the titanium will within—

the will to keep going/speaking/hoping that one day our

world’s officials will all recognise     words     spoken from the broken hearts

of the populace and


give heart to all the fathers & mothers

give heart to all the children

give heart to all the brothers

give heart to all the sisters

give heart to all those whose lives have been torn


Michael J. Leach (@m_jleach) is an Australian academic and poet. Michael’s poems reside in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Plumwood Mountain, NatureVolve, Cordite, Meniscus, Rabbit, The Blue Nib, the Medical Journal of Australia, the Antarctic Poetry Exhibition, and elsewhere. His poetry has been anthologised in One Surviving Poem (In Case of Emergency Press, 2019), No News: 90 Poets Reflect on a Unique BBC Broadcast (Recent Work Press, 2020), Still You: Poems of Illness and Healing (Wolf Ridge Press, 2020), and The 2021 Hippocrates Prize Anthology (The Hippocrates Press, 2021). Michael’s first book is Chronicity (Melbourne Poets Union, 2020). He lives on unceded Dja Dja Wurrung Country and acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land.   

Rachmaninov's Sonata - Short Story by Sherzod Artikov




Nilufar was overjoyed. Finally, sitting in front of the piano she was able to play the sonata of her favourite composer without a score and without making a mistake anywhere. This situation was extremely exciting news for her. Because she had not been able to do it for weeks, and no matter how hard she tried, her efforts were in vain. In the end, her relentless and hard work paid off, lo and behold.

Now she can easily perform Rachmaninov’s famous “re-minor” sonata in a long-waited first concert program without a score. According to this sonata, she no longer needs a score. Thinking of this, she was extremely happy and excited. Sometimes she would go to her red piano, sometimes she would stare at the picture of composers hanging on the walls of the room and she would walk back and forth. She even wanted to dance on tiptoe like a ballerina. But she was ashamed and changed her  mind. If her twins had been there, no doubt she would have embraced them, kissed their faces, and shared her joy with them. Unfortunately, they are in a football boarding school. They arrive on the weekend. She regretted it. She wanted to share her joy with someone while she was preparing dinner. She could not contain it. That’s probably why she often glanced at the black telephone set on the shelf in the hallway. After a while she came to the phone. She picked up it and dialed the required numbers. Then the connection was restored and a familiar voice was heard from the receiver.

“I’m in a meeting.”

“Are you coming home early today? “ she said, overjoyed, not caring that her husband is at the meeting.

“What's up? “ her husband asked in surprise.

“Everything is good,”  she continued, trying to calm him dawn. “ If you come, I will tell you. A wonderful event happened.”

“Okay, I will come.”

Her husband’s voice stopped ringing. She assumed the connection was lost. Although she was a little upset by that situation and put the phone back on in frustration, she remembered her success again and was in a good mood. She smiled contentedly as she looked in the hanging mirror in the hallway.

Nothing and no one could hurt her at the moment. Because she had achieved a huge success for herself. To that day, she could only perform Beethoven’s sonata dedicated to Eliza, Brahms’ waltzes, and two or three of Chopin’s small nocturnes without score. But they were short musical compositions that any amateur pianist could perform. They did not require extra training or talent. Rachmaninov’s sonata, on the other hand, was longer in length and more complex in structure, and if the attention to these two elements was neglected, it would confuse the performer and force her to make a mistake. Even when performed with a score.

“What’s the matter?” her husband said.

He had fulfilled his promise and returned early from work. Nilufar saw him and applauded with joy. She imagined that on the day of the concert she would come in the same way - beautifully dressed and with a bouquet in her hands. And she was overjoyed to think that this dream would soon come true. With such thoughts, she gently took her husband's hand and walked towards the room where the piano was standing. She entered the room and pushed the brown chair there close to the piano. She asked her husband to sit on it. Her husband, who didn't understand anything, sat helplessly in the chair. She stopped in front of the piano.

“I will play Rachmaninov’s "re-minor" sonata without score,” she said, sitting in a chair. “Listen carefully!”

 She pointed her index finger at her husband like a child, her cheeks flushed with excitement. Then she put her finger in front of her nose and jokingly said "tss" to her husband. Then she began to play the sonata without a score. The mystery of music, which for centuries has shaken the human heart, comforted her and made her happy, embodied her pure love and painful hatred, spread quietly throughout the room with the help of the piano. This time the melody embodied the memories of the past in the human heart. The sonata always reminded her of  her childhood. When she was a student at the conservatory, when she was included in her personal program in various competitions, whenever and wherever she performed, she remembered her childhood. It was the same a while ago and yesterday. It is the same now. She would move her long and slender fingers over the black and white keys and play it flat. And sweet memories of a distant carefree and happy childhood came to mind one after another. Wrapping a white handkerchief around her mother's forehead and baking hot bread in the oven, her heart sank for a moment as a prelude to memories. As a child, her mother always baked bread in the oven on Sundays. She was carrying a basket that was bigger than she was, and she couldn't move anywhere near it. After the loaves were toasted and swelled, her mother would cut them up and throw them in the basket. And she would spread them out to make the bread cool faster. In the meantime, she would put the dwarf's milk-soaked poignants in the pocket of her jacket, both warmly and secretly. After that, she would suffocate the poignants in the water of the stream flowing through the streets and enjoy eating the cakes leaning on the apricot tree. When the sonata reached halfway, the memory of her childhood came to life even more vividly. Lo and behold, she is tapping on the rotten wire in the street and returning the numbers. She's small, like a squirrel. Her hair is blonde. Even then, everyone called her "blonde". She was counting numbers non-stop, and her comrades were hiding in different places at this time. After a while, she was looking for them everywhere. "Berkinmachoq,"*  she sighed, her hands, which were constantly moving on the keys, suddenly weaken.

On summer days, she would not come from the street, ignoring the cherries hung by her father on her ears, and waving her hair, which was braided like willow twigs by her mother. She was much more playful. If it snows in the winter, it would be a holiday for her. She would make a  Father Christmas with the kids in the middle of the street or play snowballs with endless fun. Until evening, she would lead the sledge her father had brought.

Not long after, she went to an uncle's pot, where he was selling nisholda*  at the beginning of the street. As a child, during the months of Ramadan, that uncle would always fill her cup with nisholda . By the time she got home, she was licking the top of the nisholda with her finger. She would have a dirty doll in her arms and shoes with water on her feet. “It would have been so sweet the nisholda,” she said casually. Then she recalled the days when she would go into every house with the children on the streets on the evenings of the holy month and sing the song of Ramadan.

We have come to your home saying Ramadan,

May God give you a son in your cradle...

They would sing that song. Here, she remembered. The song was long. Unfortunately, she only remembers the beginning. That's how it would start. They would say it together with the children. Boys and girls sang Ramadan songs in unison, spreading a long table -cloth in their hands. On the doorstep of every home... Screaming... Neighbors sometimes gave money, sometimes sweets, fruits, and the table-cloth was soon filled with what they had given. Then, sitting on a rock at the beginning of the street, the children would evenly distribute the items gathered at it. She often got apple and chocolate chip cookies. The coins were taken by boys.

Tears welled up in her eyes as the sonata was ending. She realized that she was a child left behind and that she missed her dead parents so much. It hasn’t been long since her parents died. In fact, what taught her to memorize the sonata was not her ability, but her childhood nostalgia. She thought so. She had been performing this sonata a lot lately and with passion because she missed her childhood. This was also the reason why she decided to give a concert as a freelance artist. Probably, Sergei Rachmaninov also missed his childhood in the United States during his years in exile. This is why he has performed this sonata many times on tours in American cities and has received applause. He deserved recognition. She looked at her husband questioningly after playing the sonata. There was a question in her eyes. The question was not "Did I perform well ?!"  but  the question was "Did you remember your childhood, too?". She also wanted to tell him about her first concert next week at the city’s House of Culture. Her husband was ignoring her. There was no interest in his eyes. Either the sonata reminded him of his memories, or his head was occupied with anxious thoughts.

“ I play the sonata without a score,” she said with an open face because her husband didn't speak. “ I wanted to tell you that. I also wanted to say that next week will be my first concert. In the House of Culture. “

Hearing her words, her husband stood up like a man in dispair . He came to her, scratching his forehead and loosening his tie.

"I hate that habit," he said, pressing the piano keys once or twice as if for amusement. “You always bother me for trivial things. Here it is today. Because of this work, I will not be able to attend the presentation of our new product tonight. I'm missing such an event, unfortunately.!”

Nilufar sighed and bit her lips hard. She whispered as “I wish they were bleeding”, she didn't  want to let go of her lips between her teeth. Then she laughed sarcastically in her head and closed the piano indifferently. Her hands and bloodshot lips trembled. Her husband shook his head when he saw that she was silent and walked towards the door.

"By the way," he said walking out the door. “I have to go in the morning. There will be a wedding at our general manager’s house. So iron my grey suit. It has been on the shelf for a long time without being worn. It may be wrinkled.”

Involuntarily, Nilufar looked at her husband sadly. There was no trace of the joy that filled her heart. She did not want to get up, she could not move them at all, as if a stone were tied to her legs.

"I'll iron it until you're done eating," she said in a broken voice.

So she closed her ears tightly. With that she tried not to hear the sounds ringing in her ears. But it was useless. The happy, spotless, and carefree voices of herself and the children, which had remained under her ear as a child, did not go away.

      We have come to your home saying Ramadan,

     May God give you a son in your cradle...



*Berkinmachoq - is a game that children hide and a child has to look for them.

*Nisholda-  is a sweet that made in the month of Ramadan


2020, Jule

Sherzod Artikov

Translated into English by Nigora Mukhammad

Sherzod Artikov was born in 1985 in the city of Marghilan of Uzbekistan. He graduated from  Fergana Polytechnic institute in 2005. He was one of the winners of the national literary contest “ My Pearl Region “ in the direction of prose in 2019. In 2020, his first authorship book “ The Autumn's Symphony “  was published in Uzbekistan by publishing house “Yangi Asr Avlodi” . In 2021, his works were published in the anthology books called “ World Writers “ in Bangladesh,  “Asia  sings" and “ Mediterranean Waves “ in Egypt in English language.  In 2021, he participated in “ International Writers Congress “ which was organized in Argentina ,  the international literature conference under the name “ Mundial insurgencialcultural “ dedicated to Federica Garcia Lorca's work , “ International Poetry Festival “ in Tunisia,  “ International Poetry  Carnival “ in Singapore.  This year he’s awarded “ Global Peace Ambassador “ by Iqra Foundation,  “ International Peace Ambassador “ by World Literary Forum for Peace and Human Rights,  “ Certificate of friendship “ and other certifications by “Cardenal" in Mexico.  Currently,  he is the literary consultant  of the cultural website of Pakistan “ Sindh courier “, the representative and delegate in Uzbekistan of the literature magazine of Mexico called “ Revista Cardenal “ and the literature and art magazine of Chile named “ Casa Bukowski “.


Three Poems by Raul G. Moldez




he goes out of the house,

catching hermit crabs


at the back of a makeshift toilet

by the shore. Putting them,


one by one, inside an empty

Milkmaid can. He can hear them


moving. Keep on crawling.

Perhaps looking for a way


out. But each time they take steps

upward, they fall back. Fighting


for freedom or seeking for justice

is not easy. It may even cost life.


At noon, he would start crushing

their shells using stones as anvil


and hammer, killing all of them.

The crushed meat is collected


in a coconut shell. Used as bait

in the hook. And as the sun turns itself


into lemon in the west, he would cast

his fishing line into the waters.





is a line

linking years. And

in between, these

minor lines exist:


A line that brings

power to the house.


A line that carries

water to the sink.


A line that gives

breaking news.


A line that allows you

to hear your sweetheart


from afar.

Lines that help


fortune tellers

predict the future.


Lines that are written

on the forehead by time.





contains details not made public

by those who do not know

the meaning of guilt. Truth hurts.


That’s why they bury it in the bundles

of documents tied with red ribbon.

And kept in the stockroom for decades.


But truth cannot be hidden, according

to the most sacred among the books.

Freedom is its new synonym.


The hands of justice and the arms

of law are long. Enough to dig out

dungeons where truths are buried alive


by lovers of deceits and deceptions. 

In the meantime, they celebrate.

Red Wine. Whisky. Double Black.


But to everything there is a season.

The minority bloc is not sleeping.

Working until wee hours. Seeking


for the most striking of evidences.

True to all is true to some. And

no matter what, truth is always true.

Raul G. Moldez writes from Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. Author of two collections of poetry, A Day in a Poet’s Life and Other Poems and Mga Taho Gikan sa Akong Uniberso, his works have appeared in Philippines Free Press, Philippines Graphic, Philippine Panorama, Sunday Times Magazine, Crowns and Oranges, Kinaadman Journal, Bisaya, Sunstar Weekend, Homelife, Ani Literary Journal, Bituon, Dagmay, Tinubdan, Red River Review, and Sentinel Literary Quarterly, among other publications.

Monday 30 August 2021

Five Sublime Poems by Marianne Szlyk


Once at the Dead Creek


Opaque waters hid tiny fish,

those I’d once counted on

to trace edges of crumpled rock,

spaces between, to flow over

greige sand on the creek bed.


Sulphur from last night’s fireworks

rose above clouded waters’ bustle.

Last night’s noise still thudded through

the park without birds or bugs,

without chirps that fill the swamp.


By the creek, vines and willows

kept their distance.  Grasses

matted and shrank from

lifeless water.  Dry flowers floated past.

One bumblebee fumbled over faded leaves.


Paler than those above, one branch

broke through the blank water’s surface.

The snapping turtle glanced up,

beady eyes intent on the green world

beyond the sand-colored creek.


Birdwatching on Friday


In Lent, when I’m supposed to be
fasting and praying, I see the bird
with the iridescent head and dark,
glassy eye, hop from branch
to branch to ground.

I bite into the bologna sandwich
on Wonder white with canary-colored
mustard.  The bird pauses on the ivy
in weak March sun, without fear
of our cat who used to gaze out
clicking at fat robins, at strutting crows.

This bird is not a crow.  That bird
would be heavy, like the layer
of incense that settles
in the now-empty church.
This bird takes off, past the ghosts
of feral cats who wait
for fat robins, strutting crows.

When We Walked Nowhere


Used to plants, we could not read stones.

Instead, we kept to the highway,

watching for snakes, imagining

we could walk past the mountains,


on the other side of these mirages.

There after rain, stones and snakes hid

beneath plush leaves and vast flowers.

It was January here.  It was May there.


Winter sun inched above our trek

but still made us thirsty,

a mile from downtown’s one store

that sold pop, not soda, not tonic.


I imagined I’d never see green again.

All around us fossils hid in rocks:

cycads, moss, fern fronds,

the grandparents of our plants.


Above the Inland Sea


Caterpillar clings to a thin stem,

walks upside down despite

breezes that trouble the creek.


Daddy long legs hides in the groove

of a rock the color of earth

the color of last year’s leaves.


Thinner than even the thinnest

pine needle, the spider’s leg disappears.

Snakes slither through the underbrush.


Pinecone balances on wood

just like the rock does on a boulder

as it overlooks the ghost of the inland sea.


I Imagine the Inland Sea


Not to listen to the sounds of others writing,

I imagine the inland sea

teeming with life, flooding the plains.

I imagine walking there.


I imagine the inland sea

before there were humans, before there were trees.

I imagine walking there

before there were mountains, before there were fossils.


Before there were humans, before there were trees,

I dip my hand into the warm, shallow sea.

Before there were mountains, before there were fossils,

I pick my way through mud and stones.


I dip my hand into the warm, shallow sea

so as not to listen to the sound of others writing.

I pick my way through mud and stones

teeming with life, flooding the plains.

Profile Photo by Matthew Bailey

Marianne Szlyk is a professor of English and Reading at Montgomery College. Her poems have appeared in of/with, MacQueen's Quinterly, Setu, Verse-Virtual, Sequoyah Cherokee River Journal, Bourgeon, Muddy River Poetry Review, Writing in a Woman's Voice, and the Loch Raven Review as well as a few anthologies such as The Forgotten River. Poems are forthcoming in the Sligo Review and the Beltway Poetry Quarterly. Her books On the Other Side of the Window and Poetry en Plein Air are available from Amazon.  She has also led workshops where poets write tributes to both survivors of COVID-19 and those whom we have lost.


One Poem by Lisa Reynolds


Miskwaa Ziibi River


Early morning, you sit beside me

on a boulder overlooking a riverbed;

folds of your black and white plaid open.


Through mist, ghosts of Aboriginal

women and children appear.

They move silently, retracing steps

to escape battles in Buckhorn.


Tall ferns fan outcrops while mature maple offer

pathways towards the mouth of Little Bald Lake.


We remain motionless until they are gone.


Sunlight spills through clouds, sparkling ripples.


A blue jay caws in the distance.


You drape your arm over my shoulder and whisper,

look to your left.


Elegant legs of deer emerge.


Mesmerized, we wait.

Lisa Reynolds is a Canadian writer of poetry and short stories. Her works are published internationally in anthologies, literary journals, and magazines. She lives in a waterfront community east of Toronto, Ontario.

One Poem by Susan Tepper



Poor little Haiti

born in the wrong place

a womb somersault

entering feet first

Emerging from the sea

at that precise time—

another and

it could have have been lustrous

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

Three Poems by Joan McNerney





Slides under door jambs,

pouring through windows,

painting my room black.


This evening was spent

watching old movies.

Song-and-dance actors

looping through gay,

improbable plots.


All my plates are put away,

cups hanging on hooks.

The towel is still moist.


I blow out cinnamon candles,

wafting the air with spice.

Listening now to heat

sputtering and dogs

barking at winds.


Winter pummels skeletal

trees as the moon’s big

yellow eye haunts shadows.


Autumn Notes

Four sparkling maples

sashay in autumn winds.

dressed in yellow lace.


Half moon hiding in old

oak tree on top of hillside.


Children kicking up leaves

shouting while jumping

over mounds of foliage. 


Bright leaves gleaming

in sunshine tumbling

through an Alice blue sky.


Carpets of red yellow brown

foliage unfurls before us.


Walking through trails of trees

becoming spellbound by

leafy giants towering over us.


Morning light reveals

silhouettes of branches

against a dove grey sky.


Grab your coat and scarf.

Where are your gloves and hat?


Hurry, pick gardens of bright

vegetables. Time to cook

big pots of soup, yeasty breads.


Dancing in joyous circles

ragtag russet leaves glow

under the noon day sun.


See them spin rustle-bustle

within a ring of singsong.


Listen to their shuffle

saying they will return soon

dressed in bright green.


Arctic Flurries 


Winds toss foliage in air.

Birds bend against frost

their wings catching the

last sunlight.


In cosmic dance snowflakes

light up evening.


galaxies circling abandoned gardens.


We hunch our shoulders with winter.

Our shadows are long now.



Joan McNerney’s poetry is found in many literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days.  Four Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Journals, and numerous Poets' Espresso Reviews have accepted her work.  She has four Best of the Net nominations.  Her latest titles are The Muse in Miniature and Love Poems for Michael both available on Amazon.com and Cyberwit.net

Six Poems by R. W. Stephens

  Like Extended Haiku       Tango music muted , o pen window    Fading summer light s hadows   C hair on the porch   An empty glass       ...