I go to great pains to mask the agony. But the struggle is there.
It’s the invisible enemy.
— Richard Diebenkorn
He made this image
(carved it and smoothed it over)
expressing it by marks
in his mind; wordly and unseen
as quickly written over, stretched into full words
and the marks only at first suggested
in his ear she’d whispered — “bird”
(but he wasn’t listening, did not hear)
and he flapped his wetted wings
The painted image is just that,
the thing painted, not some standing in.
An adequate description
would have to trace infinitesimal specifics
of length, width, and thickness,
pick a shade of color from the chart,
note granularity and sheen,
locate it with calipers on the canvas
alongside similar patterns not the same,
and on and on the never finished, never ending
and then to have just that repeated
because it’s nothing else.
When the painted image told a story
we could capture that
in words and sentences because
well, narrative is narrative;
but when the painted thing’s unrecognizable
what we call a splotch or blob,
oh, it’s tempting to define it
by his exertions painting it.
Charles Tarlton is retired from university teaching and has been writing tanka prose (and poetry more generally) full time since 2006. His wife, Ann Knickerbocker, (http://artistinanaframe.blogspot.com) is an abstract painter and they and work in Northampton, Mass.
Then, your quiet scrubbing shoulders
as bats fly past outside like broken plates.
I unpeel fish spines, scrape away the skin
and sticky flakes. Our lists are done,
the kitchen’s clean, but the cloying scent
of supper fills the air. Beneath the hiss
of steam, the kettle’s rattle, potatoes claw
inside the cupboards, cheese furs over
and lost scales still glint along the surfaces
in certain lights.
Charlotte Eichler lives in West Yorkshire and has been published in various magazines, including The Rialto, Agenda and The Interpreter’s House. She was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2014. Twitter: @CLEichler
All I Could Steal
I traced the line of you:
Said my goodbyes
despite the gale,
imagined your head, bobbing with
as my heart grabbed at imaginary
that trailed helplessly
through the moss-
felt the tome of the sea
as it lashed its pages
against my carbine.
I thought that I might cry then,
in the salt wind
and so broke the seal on a bottle of
to drown the lump
in my throat.
Drunk, I stumbled home through
and felt spite
stirring in the spine
of my tongue-
I taunted all the ghosts, and sang
‘When the big ship sails on the alley-
Nick Power has recently had perfect-bound book Small Town Chase published by erbacce-press, and is in the process of writing a new collection. He has had poems published at M58, erbacce-press, The Camel Saloon, Boscome Revolution and Jarg Magazine.
He has worked with actors such as Maxine Peake and John Simm, and recorded their readings of poems from Small Town Chase. They are available to listen to here: https://soundcloud.com/nickpowerpoetry
for Ben Detenber
Somebody’s wrong on the Internet, and everyone else
is grabbing a mouse to be sure to get in on the clicks.
Some guy in Johannesburg already knocked down his Coke and destroyed
his keyboard, but luckily not his computer. He looks at
his screen, and all he can do is stare at untruth while the phone’s
ringing the tech-support number. And now he’s on hold:
music he’s always despised is worming its wily way
into his brain. Can you hear it? He doesn’t have
an icicle’s chance in a Richtersveld summer. He’s lost to the music
that somebody else in Geneva can hear and ignore.
Natalie’s reading the page, and she’s changing her mind even though
her English has never improved as much as she’d like.
Maybe she wouldn’t be falling for lies she was reading in French.
From her apartment, she has a good view of the lake
except that this morning the fog is so thick she can barely see
the building going up on the other side of the street.
Her coffee is ready; she carries her cup to the window to think,
watching the shivering people below as they wait
for buses to take them to work, where they’ll turn on their screens and discover
that somebody on the Internet is wrong.
Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His first full-length collection, Thomas Hardy Listens to Louis Armstrong, is being published by Eyewear in June 2015. Twitter: @ShieldsAndrew Blog: http://andrewjshields.blogspot.comRead More
On the Train to Stafford (OMG)
While the Leicestershire countryside
ambled by the window
(Oh my god!)
its lush green hues and rolling hills
sparkling in the sun’s glow
(Oh my god – no!)
beneath old church spires reaching
up into an azure sky
(Oh. My. GO-OD! You’re kidding?)
that soared above thatched roofs of quaint
villages that passed on by
(OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!)
I thought about the peace and quiet
that made these journeys such
(No! No! No! OH-MY GO-OD!)
a pleasant memory of my youth
before the advent of touch
(EEIIUUW!!! Oh my-god)
screens and mobile phones on trains
to distract from scenic country lanes
Omigod! Omigod! Oh my god!
George Fripley writes poetry and fiction. He also blogs on whatever comes to mind. He has had a dozen poems published both in the UK and Australia and has also published a collection of poems entitled Silence… available though Amazon.co.uk. He blogs at www.anothergrumpycommuter.wordpress.comRead More
A field has sprung up on the first floor landing
where a bull cranes his large-boned head
towards her, disbudded horns nudging the wool,
sunlight tinkering through the grasses.
She tries to coax him, wheedle him down
with fresh greens. But now
he holds her with his black stare …
head lowered, blood beating, thunder
about to bellow through the walls
as the clock hand shudders … her life
a cardboard box of limits, of scales,
tape measures and set squares;
so when the bull-browed god strolled in –
bull god of rain and fecundating power,
of exuberant storm winds – she saw
only bovine; then stricken
in his glare, she’s held there.
Linda Rose Parkes was born in Jersey, Channel Island, and studied literature at U.E.A. Poet and lyricist, her third collection Familiars was published by Hearing Eye in November, 2014.
The East Wing
My footsteps echo across the marble floor
as I follow the tak tak of the caretaker’s stick.
Above, the last of the evening light burns
in the cupola and I can just make out
the glass cases that jut from every wall.
We pass an iron cage of stuffed ducklings
who follow their mother across a Perspex sheet.
I peer inside but the caretaker grabs my elbow
and I trail in his wake of drivel and pricking steps
till we reach a pale statue at the end of the hall.
The caretaker turns and looks me in the eye
his voice is dry as breadcrumbs, thin as a draught:
‘Do you remember your promise not to touch?’
I nod and he presses a button at the base of the plinth.
A glow spreads over the statue and it starts to revolve.
Her eyelids flicker open – forget-me-not blue
her breasts are pale lilies and her dress
is the soft cascade of a beech hedge fresh with leaf.
She holds out her hand – I look round at the caretaker
he shakes his head and grasps his cane with a shiver
but she just smiles and I reach forward, it’s like
slipping a hand into a summer river.
Something creaks behind me, slams shut:
the caretaker has drawn a knife from a classroom desk.
He advances, tilting it slowly from side to side,
I cast about me, wrench a torch from the wall
cleave the air, wave it across his path
drive him backwards, down the street of cages.
I trap him in a corner but he slips
out of a window.
I stare into the night,
scan the dim outlines of stump and boulder.
At last, I fasten the casement, feel the weight
of a clutch of keys that dangle at my belt,
smell the scent of lilies at my side.
Rowan Middleton’s work has appeared in journals such as Acumen, The London Magazine and THE SHOp. He currently teaches Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire.