Janice D. Soderling

 

 

A Very Small Kingdom

 

Once there was a queen

who reigned alone over a very small

kingdom,

three children, a sack of potatoes waiting to be

peeled,

a sack of smelly garbage waiting to be carried

out,

a broom, useless for sweeping and even more

useless for flying around on (yes, she

had tried)

and the aforementioned three children

waiting,

waiting apprehensively,

to see what this dotty queen would come up

with next,

and also for their supper.

She had also a nervous tic, a chipped teacup,

and some small change (never enough).

And the King? Where was the King? you ask.

Also the queen would love

to know.

Perhaps he was off fighting a war. Kings love

to fight wars.

They love it so much that if there are no wars

in the immediate vicinity,

they’ll ride off looking for one.

Or perhaps there was no king. Perhaps the so-

called King was only a Frog prince who

metamorphosed back to his true self

after climbing out of the dank

swamp where he’d croaked smutty

drinking songs with his frog buddies

before climbing into the pale queen’s bed

where the climate was far too cold and

far too dry for normal Frogs or Kings.

No wonder he went off looking for a war.

Whatever.

He was gone and the queen reigned alone.

It was a lonely life, but what to do?

Oh, much to do. A queen’s work is never

done.

First she had to go to the office and make

money to buy food.

Then she had to go to the supermarket and be

insulted by rude check-out girls when

she dug in her handbag for small change

(never enough).

Then she had to wait at the bus stop weighed

down with heavy bags.

Then she had to stand during a forty minute

ride because who would give up their seat

to a baleful-looking queen with a nervous tic.

Then she had to walk five blocks through rain,

snow, sleet, you name it, like she was a

freaking postman instead a queen,

but now we are getting off the

track.

Recap.

First she had to make the money.

Second she had to buy the food,

Third she had to carry it home

(tons and tons over the years).

Then she had to scrape it, slice it, dice it, fry it,

boil it, broil it, salt it, pepper it, mash it, splash it,

put it on the table,

and issue her queenly commands:

Eat your supper.

Sit still.

Sit with your chair on all four legs.

Don’t talk with food in your mouth.

Be glad you have food on your plate.

Eat your supper.

The moral of this story is:

Even in very small kingdoms, there is

always much to do.


 

Janice D. Soderling is a previous contributor to Ink, Sweat & Tears. Her poetry has appeared in many UK magazines including Magma Poetry, Orbis, Anon, Acumen, Horizon Review, Antiphon, New Walk, Other Poetry, Sein und Werden.

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Oliver Comins

 

 

 

Background Noise in the Aquarium

Along the carriage a range of headsets and earplugs
with bright wires, each one connected to some piece
of electronic equipment hidden beneath
the supra-epidermal layers of these creatures
who are also travelling into town at this time.

A closed loop within might be full of harmony –
anthems, perhaps, of a favourite artist or band.
Or something faintly experimental recommended
by a friend, whose tastes are more inclusive
than their own – but surprisingly accessible.

These fish can be quite gregarious in their own way,
speaking to one another over huge distances
about things which did or might or shouldn’t occur.
They use a blur of tense and place which makes them feel
at home and alone and almost completely fulfilled.

The rest of us hear one side only of these accounts,
end up being variously tantalised, bored or subdued
by events whose locations are always somewhere else.
Places we might have visited at the wrong time
or streets in suburbs we’ve only ever heard about.

Out here, we enjoy the noise of living traffic, the option
of passing the time of day with someone we can see.
Or just drifting through those intermittent silences
that are inevitably lost on the more intensely connected
of our shoal, their shimmering fins and faraway eyes.

As outsiders, we may be detached and uninitiated,
but we are joined to one another by sharing the same air.
Arriving at our destination we hear the name announced,
step lightly into a crowd whose speech is almost touch,
whose words are nearly kisses landing on our cheeks.

 

 

 

 

Oliver Comins lives and works in West London.  Early work collected in a Mandeville Press pamphlet and Anvil New Poets Two.  Poems are being published this year in Ink Sweat & Tears, Meniscus and The Echo Room plus The Emma Press Anthology of Fatherhood and Choclit from Happenstance.

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Max Reagan

 

 

 

Ink

There was always the urge to continue the writing, to add to the seemingly endless plot of my fictionalized existence. To slit my cerebral wrists and spill the ink onto the page relieved the daily stress of the physical reality. To write became a beautiful distraction. Not even the drugs could transplant me into a garden of thought such as what the ink does to me. I have to consume words and burn them into thoughts and write write write, everyday, I have to drink the ink so I can later regurgitate my own biological, single celled words and wipe them up with paper.
But of course my urge inevitably becomes satisfied, and I will not have to write for about a week at the most, and after a week of wading through a hazy dream state the words come back, they grow like mold in the aqueous membranes of my subconscious and I have to dig them out with a pencil and paint the words on the paper.
Burning the hours of the clock away with a match, smoking a pipe of tobacco and cannabis at my escritoire, facing my typewriter like an opponent. I thrust my fingers like daggers at the keys in hopes of breaking them or bashing my fingernails inward and puncturing a vein of ink until the paper is marked. I need to paint upon the canvas, I need to add color to the plot. I procure the mellow dream drugs.
There is an obscure, hedonistic outlook in the core of the pill that is dissolving in my stomach, and the pleasure flows like a river through my tangled being. I chase the pill with a cut diamond glass filled with deep blue ink. The words bleed down my throat and settle in my blatter like water on sun drenched sod. Beautiful thoughts fizz to the scalp of my hairs and bounce around in my skull. I smile at the euphonious breeze that seeps around the trees like water and tides through the windows and into the house, where it walks around like a ghost. The words materialize before me like a prism of ink and float around the room in vague teasing motions, finally directing its attention to me and the typewriter.
A brief sensation of an old memory washes over me, and the memory digresses into a dream, and the dream a sentence, and I reach for the keys and crash upon them like waves of an ocean filled with thick, dark ink, and the keys tap in obligated accommodation to my raconteur fingers, and the words spill like water and ice and then the cut glass is dropped and the diamond glass shatters and cuts my fingers and I bleed and bleed and bleed the black ink, the mainline to my fiction is punctured and I spill my mind onto the paper and I can feel the pain leave me as I burden the paper with my pain and my wonder and my ink.
The wind rushes into the house and arouses me like a physical being, and I stand up alarmed, the chair falls at my feet, and I rush to the window and scream out into the dewy night, the frogs croak back in raspy burps, the air is warm yet it cannot be trusted. I feel the memory swell like a bruise in my head, it grows and pulses with a life, it frenzies with plot, and I remember that the memory is in fact a dream, I vomit the last of the words out into the moist grass below, a rabbit skitters and dashes away, smeared in ink.
Stomach satisfied, I grab the pile of words inked on the crumpled, yellowing paper and toss them like pigeons out the window.

 

 

 

Short fiction writer Max Reagan has written over fifty short stories and has been published in several literary magazines. He is a college student from Los Angeles, California. His theme revolves around poetic prose of the surrealist nature.

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Thomas Piekarski

 

 

 

Shizm

The dogged savant having satisfied his appetence
for metathesis, set his mind on those endemic
conflations usually subordinated. Tyrannicide
or apotheosis? He couldn’t decide. The endless
tautologies, and lack of training on modern
phonological principals thwarted new paradigms.
When he talked he was prone to excessive syllepsis.

Hail the chimera, its great golden mane and venomous
serpent tail morphological, major miracle, ontology
onto itself. No recidivism would dare try scare the
chimera, lest under duress it recoil into a zygote.

The savant’s repressive hebetude held him back.
At times admonitions weighed heavily on him. Life
shrunk to a series of ekphrasises in periphrastic flux.
But with morals intact he remained inscrutable.

Aphasia only furthered his recalcitrance
as he was always aiming to abrogate helots.
He had no ambition to try to ameliorate every single
flibbertigibbet on the planet, every ninnyhammer
and dangling metonym. Like a moth chewing its way
out of a cocoon, he recused excessive indolence. Then
exercising prudent judgement, he let tiny lemmings
navigate their odd philologies through sun’s schism.

 

 

 

 

Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry and interviews have appeared in Nimrod, Portland Review, Kestrel, Cream City Review, Poetry Salzburg, Boston Poetry Magazine, Gertrude, The Bacon Review, and many others.  He has published a travel guide, Best Choices In Northern California, and Time Lines, a book of poems. He lives in Marina, California.

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Eileen Carney Hulme

 

 
Sarajevo to Dubrovnik

Unintentionally we captured
a rainbow, the sky half dark
and the sun full of energy, mischievous
in an affectionate way. Perhaps
we had too many coffees or
the narrow roads and mountain
passes had raised our heartbeats
but here we are like go-betweens
carrying love letters or breathless
sighs from country to country
and this rainbow sneaking in
hitching a lift with no word
to the wind.

 

 

 

Eileen Carney Hulme has two collections published and a third due in 2015. Widely published in magazines, she also had a poem set to music and performed at the Cork Choral Festival and has two poems transcribed on to wall space in an art gallery. This is her website.

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Simon Lewis

 

 

 

Doubt

He dreams of a church under water
where green light ripples along the walls,
the altar speckled with fish.
Behind him the cavernous dark,
the crouching men, teeth bared,
the spear flung, now poised in mid-air.

He is the breath and he is the wound.
He has doubted and believed,
his brother’s voice worn thin over time:
“Thomas, why you of all men?”
Because we ran in the hills, he thinks,
because we played in the dust.

He prays for deliverance
from the Indian sun,
borne by the tide of his blood
away beneath a perfect sky
and all his works seem to him now
to be like the waves of the sea.

 

 

 

Simon Lewis has been writing poetry for about 15 years, although most of his efforts have never seen the light of day. He has however had poems published in Acumen, Orbis, Iron, Friction Magazine and Still. There is hope yet.

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Jodi Cleghorn

 

 

 

Olives

The symbolism was as mashed as my nerve: the table set with a chipped and stained antipasto bowl filled with pimento olives drowning in oily marinade. It looked like you were making an effort. This time I didn’t care.

The sweat leached from my back and armpits, sucked at my t-shirt even though it was a cool March afternoon, a pretend taste of sub-tropical autumn before the city melted in a final hurrah to summer.

‘You know Ally Lewis’s son went to a kinesiologist,’ you said, settling yourself opposite me, the olives between us. ‘Had his body temperature tweaked half a degree. You should do that. You’d be more comfortable.’

I knew you meant you would be more comfortable. I’d never worked out why you found sweat so offensive.

I’m fine most of the time, I wanted to say. It’s only you who does this to me.

But my tongue languished unresponsive in my mouth. I swore I felt it swell to fill the emptiness left by the unsaid words.

You read my t-shirt with brows sewn together. Anything you didn’t understand you automatically labelled rubbish and I’d got the feeling in the last few years you’d slipped me into that category too. And somehow I minded.

Your quizzical expression gave way to mild exasperation and in turn became mild disgust. You were infinite layers of wilting dissatisfaction. Being with you was like choking on insulation fibers.

I took an olive to occupy my nervous hands before you launched a monologue on the psychology of restless fingers. Rolled it between my fingers for a moment, an unintentional mimicry of you with grapes, before popping it into my mouth and chewing carefully.

‘You eat olives. That’s new.’

I hated olives but kept an impassive face. It gave tangible form to the sourness in my mouth and I wish I’d just left without saying good-bye.

‘Why not go to Sydney?’ you asked. ‘You love Sydney.’

Loved. When I was ten and the highlight was an Opera House snow dome and a Harbour Bridge ruler. Exotic souvenirs from travelling grandparents. Something shiny for show and tell on the first day of term.

‘We have friends and family there,’ you said.

We? Aunty Sue and Uncle Vic were hardly family. My friends who moved to Sydney had moved again. You didn’t know anyone else there. Ever. Besides, I wasn’t travelling for us. For you.

‘You’re going so far away!’

You said it as though I’d got hold of an atlas and ruler, worked out the furthest place from here and decided on that as my destination. Maybe you were right to think that.

This time I didn’t care what you thought. Or if you were right.

‘I just don’t understand. Why Morocco?’

Food. History. Architecture. Culture. Adventure.

Things you would never understand. Though you would’ve hit Google if I’d let you know yesterday what I was planning. I’d have spent this afternoon listening to you, the armchair expert on Morocco, tell me all about my destination. That’s how you worked. You who have never ventured beyond the state you were born in.

‘You can’t stomach chilli. It gives you the trots. Remember the time…’

And I tuned out. I imagined being there: the veiled women, the bearded men, the dusty marketplace, the smell of spiced meat cooking, the call to prayer, the bray of goats and camels, the hand of Fatima on the doors. I imagined myself in a dozen other places too. I imagined being so far away from you I could breathe. I saw the umbilical cord still lashed around my neck snap as the plane rose above the tarmac.

You see, I’m not like you, I wanted so badly to say. I’m not afraid to be alone.

‘Are you going to just sit there and say nothing? Tear your old Mum’s heart out and not even say sorry?’

What’s the point of talking? You haven’t listened to me once in twenty-five years and I don’t expect you to start now. The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, you used to say, parroting Dr Phil.

I relish this moment, to be your anomaly.

‘I raised you better than this.’

You raised me to believe actions speak louder than words, though you always just talked louder, at me. Like now.

So I stood and pushed the bowl of olives toward you. The squeal of the wire door igniting the pyre of your disappointments.

 

 

Jodi Cleghorn (@jodicleghorn) is an Australia author, editor, small press owner and occasional poet with a penchant for the dark vein of humanity. She can be found at 1000 Pieces of Blue Sky jodicleghorn.wordpress.com

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