Shelby Stephenson

 

 

 

Meditation on Your Bare Feet

In the fruit-apple
crimp of glamour
and fizzing pressures
I found your feet,
your painted nails,
So Much Fawn,
a rose-colored soul,
flagrance of motions,
though you were
miles away;
the image of a small rose
on the nape of your neck
I loved especially,
out of generations measuring
the center of our first meeting,
the coming months we
drove to the ocean
and walked along the beach.
You wore your sandals
because you did not
want me to see your feet.

Instinct returns our
histories to shoulders.
Memory’s bone
lays ground
for cut-down cherry trees
in orchards thousands
of years before
you and I were born,
your bloom our dance
as we move round and round like
the fingers of little babies.
We do not rush
as we begin again,
spooning heartbeats and
tickles from your hair.

I drift, letting pleasure sink
into your fingers,
pressing my arms,
for you are strong,
your profile inviting me
right down to your
sweetest bone.

That first time we met
you were grounded
at the college
for tossing a snowball
down the hall.
Where we courted in the parlor,
our conversation, I mean,
must have sounded
low like moles
giving themselves to whatever
weather could make them.
I loved the fine hairs around your neck,
where your shoulders,
broad as the Missouri,
shaped your turning
face and your whisper
of a voice, a Grace
promise rose out of
half a century
inside our hearts

and now climbs a trellis
outside our pulses
to reduce the burdens,
replacing them with
tunics of beauty, things of joy.

 

 

Shelby Stephenson, poet laureate, North Carolina, 2015-2018; recent book, Slavery and Freedom on Paul’s Hill.

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Attracta Fahy

 

 

 

Dinner in the Fields

I remember you
arriving to the fields
when we saved the hay,
bringing the sweet taste of dinners,
encased in Tupperware,
sitting sheltered under haycocks,
in the warm sun.

We rested our young bodies
from sweating our work,
tasted the bright tang of cut grass,
drinking sugared tea
from Miwadi bottles,
our dinner in the fields.

After,
we waited again
for you to come
in the evening.
Buttermilk our snack
between your arrivals.
Longing for tea,
we quenched our dusty mouths.
Finally, the sunset took us home,
before another long day,
bodies stretched in the light,
making hay.

 

 

Attracta Fahy earned her MA in Writing NUIG in 2017. Her poems have been published in many magazines at home and abroad. She was the October winner in Irish Times; New Irish Writing 2019, was nominated for Pushcart 2018, Best of the Web 2019, shortlisted for 2018 Over The Edge New Writer of The Year, and long listed in 2019, shortlisted for Allingham Poetry Prize 2019. Her first collection will be published in March 2020.

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Elizabeth Kemball

 

 

 

Pied Piper

Your voice echoes through my body
rumbling into veins and curves.

Turns me into wood; stiff and tied to
your tongue – your lungs – your vibrating throat –

every hum is a drum beating me into your shadow,
copying every movement, imitating each inch of your skin.

When you speak,
I hear you sing.

You could walk into the raging sea, bob under it
and next you would be me- flailing to stay close.

I know you from a single note – a grunt – a blunt retort –
each sentiment (be love or insult) moves me closer to you.

I will follow you until my flesh crumples and folds,
and falls from my crumbling bones.

 

 

Elizabeth Kemball is a writer and illustrator whose work has featured in journals including  Black Bough and Iceberg Tales. She is an Editor and Designer for Re-Side magazine and is currently being mentored by Mari Ellis Dunning. Twitter @lizziekemball Instagram @e.kemball

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Matt Duggan

 

 

 

Firewood

They tell us that we are grown from the same soil
our hands will all bleed in the right place
a hidden resonance behind wry smiles
placed inside dormitories and suitcases.

If we are from the same soil and root
why is one hand much older than the other?

Our blood the colour of firewood
we drink from the same water
never sipping from the same cup;

share words from the Lord’s prayer
told that we stem from one another
which one will withdraw the blade?
before others replace the pyre;

Count the fallen stumps of brothers
tell us that we are grown from the same soil,
our hands will all bleed in the right place.

 

 

Matt  Duggan was born in Bristol 1971 and now lives in Newport, Wales with his partner Kelly, his poems have appeared in many journals such as Potomac Review, Foxtrot Uniform, Dodging the Rain, Here Comes Everyone, Osiris Poetry Journal, The Blue Nib, The Poetry Village, The Journal, The Dawntreader,  The High Window, Marble, Polarity In 2019 Matt was one of the winners of the Naji Naaman Literary Prize (Honours for Complete Works) and his second full collection “Woodworm” (Hedgehog Poetry Press) was published in July 2019, he has a new small collection of twenty five poems called “The Kingdom” (Maytree Press) coming out in April (2020).

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John McKeown

 

 

 

Open Love Letter

I’m ready for love now,
now that I’m falling apart,
now that it’s hard to find
a centre where resistance can collect.

I’m ready for love now,
now that the handful who loved me have gone;
more ready than I’ve ever been,
as I clutch at this, now that, passing impossibility.

 

 

John McKeown is a freelance arts journalist, a former theatre critic for the Irish Daily Mail and Irish Independent. As a poet he’s the author of Night Walk (Salmon Press 2011), Sea of Leaves (Waterloo Press, 2009) and Looking Toward Inis Oirr (South Tipperary Arts 2003). As an erotic writer he’s the author of Faustina and The Barbarians (A Hotter State 2013) Vampire Abbey, Battle for Vampire Abbey (Xcite Books 2013) and Aphrodisia (2014).

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Rebecca Shamash

 

 

 

Magpie Lawn

There they are
the two magpie brothers
strutting their message
across the lawn.

Inside
she watched
from the high wide window
halfway up the stairs.
Halfway.
Standing on the stairs.
Watching as the magpies spread
their lonely black white message
across the pretty garden.

Trying to get both birds
in sight at once.
One his familiar
one hers.
Both blank black white.
But they are one of each
not two for joy.

 

 

After working in film and academic research Rebecca Shamash trained as a psychotherapist with a special interest in the therapeutic use of creative writing. She has work most recently published in Stand Magazine and shown as an animation on London Underground.

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