Tuesday 30 April 2024

Two Poems by Dr. Sambhu R



“Ours, too, a transitional species,

chimerical, passing…”—Jane Hirshfield

The zinnias and pansies in our garden
wake as if from a nocturnal fever,
petals sequinned with sudorific excess
and leaves in sticky amplectic poses;
the thermometer of sunlight comes slanting in;
a barbet conjures worms out of a tree hollow.
You stand under the bulbous canopy
of gooseberries, cupping the soft swell of flesh
beneath the waistline, and inspect the stretch marks
on their pale green, almost pellucid skin gleaming
as if to ask What is the tensile strength of love?
My nails are lined with dirt
from pressing a marigold seedling
into the moist soil. It is astonishing how
the earth resolves in an instant the conundrum—
home or graveyard? —with the same yielding gesture.
Four swallowtails dance a cotillion
around the hem of your floral frock.
Priapic mushrooms scrunch under my feet
like lizard shells. I have visions in which
I am an ichthyosaur navigating
a calm sea aglow with dinoflagellates.
Tapping the conch-like projections on my ear
you would say, Cochlea is Latin for seashell.
If there is no part of us that is not
borrowed from those who came before us,
are we really us? Your canines draw
the bitter juice out of a gooseberry.
At this stage, our baby can already sample tastes.
Sweet is not always good or bitter bad.
We do not want you, dear, to take an obscene pride
in your human name, hands, hunger, skin, heart.
When you founder and sink to the bottom
of your delusions, may gills open around your neck
and elliptical wings carry you over yourself.




Father’s Shaving Razor


Even after my father died,

his double-edged razor

remained on the window sill,

mottled with sunlight in a chiaroscuro

of remembrance and cunning neglect.


I took it up one evening

when its silent presence

had almost turned it into a monument

and ran a filial finger

over its chrome-plated, micro-engraved handle.


It smelled faintly of Old Spice

and somewhere there was a whiff of cigarette smoke.

Between the brackets was the blade

with little acid burns of rust near the edges,

and a fine drizzle of grey stubble—


more like bread mold—

from when my father

shaved for the last time,

fell into my palm as I took

the protective mechanism apart.


It is said that hair and nail

continue to grow

for some time after you are dead;

perhaps that is the only afterlife there is—

the redemptive grace of keratin.


The razor still rests

on the window sill—

cold, immobile—

holding its sharpness in reserve

for the day my beard will finally come off.

Dr. Sambhu R is a bilingual poet from Kerala. He is employed as Assistant Professor of English at N.S.S. College, Pandalam. His poems in English have appeared in Wild Court, Bombay Literary Journal, Muse India, Borderless Journal, Setu and Shot Glass Journal, among others.


Three Poems by Damon Hubbs


Broken Crown


Dead as a doornail pushing up daisies

oh whence the wichity-

wichity of Bachman’s warbler,

and how I became the giant jewel beetle (Julodimorpha bakewelli)

fucking a beer bottle on the side of the road

thinking it the most beautiful

shiny brown elytra covered in dimples,

how I dried up in the sun

like a fossil sucked from stones


oh whence the earth

in perfect mimicry of our glut

like the knight and armoured snail

melting away into slime.


Melting, away into slime like the glaciers.

Engineering undone —frissons and fissures

slide, slag heap, and I watch the iceberg’s

gray margin wobble in the Amundsen Sea

like a pyramid hemorrhaging a grand gallery—

genera, families, orders. O slippage

there is nothing left to fetch. I am orphaned

to lice and wreckage. I am penned

with skin lesions. I am mined

for the sickstore


culled to feed

in sleep masks

with a roar like a grenade tipped harpoon.


With a roar like a grenade tipped harpoon

Romeo and Juliet fight

daybreak and the plastic moon;

a lark or nightingale, songbirds

trapped on gum-covered lime sticks,

flyway slaughter is our house making.

In mine I collect plastic,

I host plastic. It rises like sonar

sarcoma. My son, made of plastic.

My daughter drunk on plastic.

Our tabernacle hinged with star bolt

bio-solids. On Sundays

we stunt the growth of earthworms

and watch budburst scream in the streetlights.


I am budburst screaming in the streetlights.

I am the insect

trapped in clouds of Deccan volcanism.

I am deposited—

my broken crown

tumbling down vascular mazes

dead as a doornail pushing up daisies.


microplastics DUPLEX


I twitten the trab of tiny hedges  

between blood, brains, lungs & beyond. 


Green deserts beyond the blood, betwixt

furrows of your gut I harrow plastic teeth. 


On hands & knees in your furrowing gut 

I’m carried like a cloud of plastic weather.  


Clouds of plastic weather lodged organ pink

in the ocean’s circular current. 


In the ocean’s circular current 

my home is a state of permanent flood.


Flooded with feedstocks of lymphoma,

fenceline communities are neurotoxic.


Unfenced like a teaspoon of toxic dark dust,

I twitten the trab of tiny hedges.


fledgling DUPLEX


The Westfjords weren’t yellowed with lice and   

feeding tubes. My wife was fluttering pregnant.  


         My wife was fluttering pregnant, and Planet 

         Earth greeted us at the hotel buffet.


The voice of planet earth greeted us

with turtle eggs rotting in flood water. 


         You turtled your way through tectonic plates 

         blockchained in glacial rivers and mantle plumes.


Attenborough’s voice is a glacial river

jabbly with canaries and hammers.


         Your first kick was a jabbly hammer

         or a cascade of wild salmon, and us


like pufflings cascading wildly off a cliff,    

a fledgling fear emerging from our mouths.

Damon Hubbs writes poems about Thulsa Doom, Italo disco & girls who cry at airports. He's the author of three chapbooks (most recently Charm of Difference, from Back Room Poetry). Recent work appears/is forthcoming in A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Red Ogre Review, Broken Antler, Dreich, Voidspace, Riggwelter Press, & elsewhere. twitter @damon_hubbs



Encounter - Poem by Czeslaw Milosz - Translated from English into Italian by Andrea Sirotti & Bruce Hunter


Un incontro


Attraversavamo all’alba campi ghiacciati su un carro.

Un’ala rossa si levò nel buio.


E all’improvviso una lepre corse sulla strada.

Uno di noi la indicò con la mano.


È stato molto tempo fa. Oggi nessuno dei due è vivo,

Né la lepre, né l’uomo che fece quel gesto.


O amore mio, dove sono, dove stanno andando?

Il lampo di una mano, una striscia di movimento, un fruscio di ciottoli.

Lo chiedo non per pena, ma per meraviglia.




Traduzione dall’inglese di Andrea Sirotti e Bruce Hunter




By Czeslaw Milosz from Bells in Winter. Translated from Polish by the author and Lillian Vallee.

We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.

A red wing rose in the darkness.


And suddenly a hare ran across the road.

One of us pointed to it with his hand.


That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,

Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.


O my love, where are they, where are they going

The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.

I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.



Czeslaw Milosz

Bruce Hunter is writer of poetry, essays and stories published internationally. Galestro is his 10th book. His novel In the Bear’s House, translated as Nella Casa dell’orso will be published 2025.

Galestro is the term given to the schist or gritty soil in Tuscany that give Chianti wines their unique flavour.

Galestro by Bruce Hunter, the title poem for his latest  bilingual collection translated by Andrea Sirotti, and published in 2023 by iQdB  edizoni, Lecce, Italy.


Andrea Sirotti is a teacher, writer and translator from Florence, Italy. His revised and expanded translation of Emily Dickinson’s “My Letter to the World” was just published by Interno Poesia.


Two Poems by Hazel Durham




Sometimes a dream is as vivid as a sunlit day,

sometimes it’s as soft as cashmere.

I hear the blackbird’s haunting tune,

the town of Cashel slumber in its cocoon,

angels gossiping on street corners,

devils dancing in the alleys.


I stand on top of the hill as ash trees rustle.

I hear children’s laughter, a referee’s whistle,

all the bustle of the town.

The Rock of Cashel embracing me like a familiar old friend.

As I draw in breath,

light rain begins to fall as I taste its silky moisture.


All around I see the past, present and future,

the colourless pitter patter of raindrops, like the sound of chatter,

echoing from the great rock,

over the fields, streets and rooftops,

out into the vast universe,

my heart flies higher than the treetops.



At first sight


The first time I saw you

in the Seven Oaks in Carlow.

I noticed your hair, like a fresh fall of snow,

the changing skies in your eyes,

like a wind howling across the fields.


Over tea, you talked about your farm,

you were now like a tree replanted in cold concrete.

But I also heard the thrush sing from the conifers,

your eyes were moist talking about the loss

of your fields and cattle mooing for their feed.


Afterwards, we stood outside,

and you bent your face towards mine,

and it was moonlit, my heart did a flit.

And then you held my hand

through the glistening streets of Carlow town,

down through your past, the cornfields swaying. 




Hazel Durham has been published in Setu / Impspired / Drawn to the Light and she won The Inaugural Borris Focus Centre / Borris House Festival of Writing and Ideas/ Carlow County Library competition in 2019. Hazel used to work in the horseracing industry for a number of years.

One Poem by Thompson Emate


Away from the Light 

In the ambience of the night,
Longing for the coming in of light,
Searching for the lost
Not seen comes with a cost.

Groping from room to room,
It’s an arduous task in stygian gloom,
A synergy of shadows,
It’s inky dark at the windows.

Light comes to my eyes,
Aiding me to break through the ice,
Though the missing has gone far from me,
I’m resolute to sojourn on the turbulent sea.

I hear a voice,
It says that hope is an undying choice,
Even though mystery runs with time,
Tenacity will tunnel the clime.

Thompson Emate spends his leisure time on creative writing, particularly poetry and prose. He has a deep love for nature and the arts. His poems can be seen in Poetry Potion, Poetry Soup, Visual Verse, Written Tales magazine, Writer Space Africa and ScribesMICRO. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

One Poem by Lynda Tavakoli



For Gaza


You may think you have silenced us,

but the voices of our forefathers

still sing along the sheared streets

of your destruction.


You may think you have orphaned us,

but every soul owns its paradise

and every loss still breathes

in those who are left behind.


You may think you have famished us,

but our stripped bones will one day

permeate the soil, nurturing the promise

of new beginnings.


You may think you have demolished us,

but even the crush of what remains

can learn to be again its own foundation

and a country reborn.


You may think you have buried us,

but we will ghost your consciousness

in the small hours of your sleeping,

haunting all of your imaginings.


You may think you have broken us,

but we are stronger than you know.

Stronger because of you.

Stronger, despite you.

Lynda Tavakoli lives in County Down, Northern Ireland, where she facilitates an adult creative writing class and is a tutor for the Seamus Heaney Award for schools.

A poet, novelist and freelance journalist, Lynda’s writings have been published in the UK, Ireland, the US and the Middle East, with Farsi and Spanish translations. She has been winner of both poetry and short story prizes in Listowel, The Westival International Poetry Prize and runner- up in The Blackwater International Poetry Competition and Roscommon Poetry Competition.

Her poems have also appeared in The Irish Times, New Irish Writing. Lynda’s debut poetry collection, ‘The Boiling Point for Jam’ is published by Arlen House and includes these three poems about the different aspects of war.



Saturday 27 April 2024

Three Poems by Jan Coulter


Our Demise


Night stars rend the

moon in two,

with ragged

sword of experience.


Her edges raw and

sharp are bleeding

a sad melody; a

refrain I have known.


Yet her beauty sings

through, her light,

barely dimmed by

her sorrow, which leaks


from wounds, of

rape and plunder, of our

land, for profit, for greed;

for our demise.

Poignant Silence


There is a deep pain, within a

desolate hollow, where a

heart once lived,


before it was given away,

without words to describe,

either presence or absence.


Words such as void,

Cavernous, bare.

Emptiness sticks to the senses.


Smell of rose turned to musk.

Taste neither sweet nor savoury, but

acrid, caustic, burning.


Hear the echo of

poignant silence as it

throbs inside,


aching chest walls, where

ribs expand and contract,

against a vast vacancy . . .


Perhaps, my heart will be returned,

to my time weary soul.

Perhaps, I shall befriend this quiet,


Perhaps, there is peace within this silence.


Buildings tall, bombed and burning,

flames like daggers,

stab the walls, lick her wounds,

yet, she bleeds.


Below this agony, shoe deep in ash,

a solitary child swings,

on a red and yellow swing set, oblivious

to the destruction, the desolate, the damned.


Plumes of smoke, black as ink,

exhale in deadly coughs, into

the sky, the day, the death toll, the dark; and

a red and yellow swing set.

Jan Coulter is a poet living in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, Canada. Writing from the heart, Jan weaves landscape into words, with a considered approach to detail. She is a retired cabinet maker and chair seat caner, having made fine furniture in The Arts and Crafts tradition for over 30 years.

One Poem by Victor Kennedy


Ode on intimations of morality


I went for a ride on my Sportster this afternoon

I dont ride it much these days

I filled it up twice this summer

But it was a sunny August Sunday


I dont have a vigneta so I stay off the highway

But the back roads are better anyway

Less crowded

And I dont feel the need to go fast anymore

Well, sometimes…


I used to ride with friends

I enjoyed having a passenger to share the ride

But these days its just me


I like the way the engine purrs

Growls sometimes

I never felt a need for straight pipes, to share it

With everybody within a mile


The click of the gears when I shift

The green of the trees, the blue of the sky

The wind


Fifty years ago

I had the same feeling

Riding my BSA

Halfway across the world


It was more a social event then

I wasnt as cautious

I remember doing my first wheelie

And sneaking into the house after midnight

To find my mother waiting up

Cross because I was bleeding on the carpet


I fell off a few times in those days

I had a photo somewhere of Marlene

Sitting on the grass at Bluffers Park

Laughing beside my Honda 350

Shed fallen off

Just as she was getting the hang of it


And then Lori and I lying on the road

in the middle of the intersection at Eglinton and McCowan

Beside my CB750

Where wed hit some loose gravel in the middle of a left turn

Cars coming the other way

Honking but not stopping


Or the time I flew off the highway in upstate New York

I was so tired after a long drive from Toronto

I forgot to put the kickstand up after stopping at the border crossing

It grounded in a sweeping left curve

and my RD400 and I went over the edge into the Saint Lawrence River

A Good Samaritan with a rope stopped and pulled me out

while half a dozen drivers stopped to gawk


Now Im careful

as I ride along, remembering,

thinking, its not the same now,

I feel guilty about climate change

and me just joyriding

a bike doesnt burn much gas

but still…


Victor Kennedy was born in Scotland, grew up in Canada, and currently lives in Slovenia. A semi-retired Professor of English Literature, he spends his time writing poetry, walking his dog, and trying to play classical guitar.


Three Poems by Steve Klepetar

Changing So many women turned into trees  or reeds or weeping stones. There was a man bent over a pond  who became a flower. Another died  b...