David He

 

*

the winter sun

warms her bedclothes –

open window

*

rustling leaves

in the bare forest …

unwanted girl

*

snowflakes…

ducklings quack

about the lake

*

a crow’s feather

turned over by the wind

night glow

*

twilight settles

on the frozen river

her departing call

 

 

David He has been working as an advanced English teacher for 35 years in a high school. So far he has had twenty short English stories published in anthologies. In recent years he has had haiku published in magazines like Acorn, The Heron’s Nest, Presence, Rocket bottles, Frogpond, A One Hundred Gouges, Shamrock, First Literary Review-East , Modern Haiku,Frozen Butterfly and some international magazines. He has also had tanka published in Tanka of America,Skylark, Ribbones and Cattails.

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Gareth Writer-Davies

 

 

A Horse Galloping Through Brecon Museum

 

before the capture

of silver upon glass

 

it was a lucky guess

by the artist

 

to paint the correct gait

of a horse

 

the life-size portrait

of the Marquess of Bute’s

 

stud stallion

an arrested study of proportion

 

action

the feisty hero of the track

 

ready to leap

from the wall

 

intuition

a better wager than the photographic plate

 

that stable in its nitrate

repeats and does not create

 

 

Gareth Writer-Davies; Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Erbacce Prize (2014) Commended in the Prole Laureate Competition, the Welsh Poetry Competition (2015) He is the Prole Laureate for 2017 and Highly Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition. His pamphlet Bodies was published in 2015  by Indigo Dreams and Cry Baby, in 2017. https://www.facebook.com/gareth.writerdavies http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/gareth-writer-davies/4587920255

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Diarmuid Fitzgerald

 

*

upturned boat
wind whipped sand
wipes it clean

*

from the train window
concrete, more concrete …
finally cherry blossoms

*

windy day —
cleaning the mountain of litter
ripple in the ferns

*

wild garlic
its smell lingers
among unidentified grass

*

warmth of the sun
on my skin —
first midgets of spring

*
clouds break —
a sun-wheel
now the beat of wings

 

 

Diarmuid Fitzgerald was born in Ireland in 1977 where he lives. His first collection of haiku Thames Way was published in 2015 by Alba Publishing. He has finished a second collection in manuscript form called A Thousand Sparks. https://deewriter.com. https://www.facebook.com/fitzwriter/

 

 

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R. E Hengsterman

 

 

Him

I’ve been many things over the course of my life, some good, and some bad. I’ve said things I shouldn’t have said. Told lies I shouldn’t have told and pretended to be someone I wasn’t when I was unsure of who I was. But there’s one thing I could never be, and that was him.

I’ve tried, in various ways to be him, to be better than him, to run from him. The truth is, I’m a coward. So, I do as cowards do and hide within myself, but with help. For me, it’s the bottle. But for others, it’s the vein or the pipe or the pill. To each his own I suppose.

Today, as with most days, the smell of whiskey reaches my nose long before I raise the glass to my lips. The woody aroma, the mouth-coating warmth, and the familiar, deliberate kick. I know it won’t be long before my lucid and rational thoughts become compromised and the burden of him retreats; even for the briefest moment of time.

Drinking is how I survive him; transforming myself from average man to inebriated, stumbling, confused, semi-conscious arrangement of human flesh. I’m aware of the paradox; seeking escape from the infiniteness of him by pouring my soul into the finite space of a whiskey bottle. And whether on purpose or through my flawed interpretation, the idea of him has made me feel something less than human. What made him so special? He could have been many things. In fact, he could have been anything. It was of little importance what he did; only that he did it better.

I’ve given it considerable thought and have determined the flaws in my existence lay deep in my cerebellum, well-hidden within the sulci of my brain; a severed neuron; an under-developed section of gray matter; a slow growing tumor; or a fault in my genetic code.

The whiskey is not ideal. Not by any means. It’s sloppy. Some days it leads me down a path of endless vomiting, and I curse him. Some days I hemorrhage tissue from my esophagus, evident by the spattering of blood in the sink. Some days my insides corkscrew themselves into knots, and I pass out from the pain.
My relentless obsessing over him leads me to drink more and more; hoping to forget him. I have felt such a burden; of being part of him, but in no capacity, resembling him.

I suffer; as I have always known I could never measure up to him, and over time fell, helpless into the deep chasm of despair. My mind grows clumsy as the toxic substances; the metabolites of the whiskey; the ammonia, and the manganese reach toxic levels in my liver. I live this way; bloated, stumbling, ruddy-faced, and alone. The memory of him, I believe, fades the slightest bit. I scream his name in the dark with a tongue thick as cotton. I sound as if were a boxer; that would have impressed him, to become punch drunk one-to-many times by fist and not by the bottle.

I have come to the point in my life I’ve forgotten almost everything I have known. Except for the idea of him. And this, even though I have tried to forget, has never left me.
I tip the bottle back, again and again, a good measure, a wasteful measure, spilling. A sliver of sunlight parts the darkness, and in the mirror, I see with perfect clarity, after all this time, that I am him. That he is me and I will never be able to escape him.

 

R. E Hengsterman is a Pushcart-nominated writer, film photographer and flawed human who deconstructs the human experience through images and words. He writes under the Carolina blue sky. You can see more of his work at www. ReHengsterman.com and find him on Twitter at @rehengsterman

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Nathanael O’Reilly

 

 

Return Flight

 

Tired sunburned passengers

flying home from vacations

 

puzzle over Sudoku and crosswords

doze against strangers’ shoulders

 

read thrillers and airline magazines

grudgingly answer email on laptops

 

watch Game of Thrones on iPads

draw pictures of Harry Potter characters

 

pray that the big guy doesn’t recline

snack on mini pretzels

 

sip coffee and orange juice

retract elbows, shoulders and feet

 

to evade the drinks cart

and wide-hipped passengers

 

charging down the aisle

doze off with nodding heads

 

startle themselves awake with snorts

escort kids to the toilets

 

curse the airline for lack of legroom

and exorbitant alcohol prices

 

scroll through photos on phones

searching for elusive images

 

capturing the happiest, most exciting

and beautiful moments

 

editing the decent and deleting the crap

like revisionist historians

 

 

 

Nathanael O’Reilly is an Australian residing in Texas. His books include Preparations for Departure, Distance, Cult, Suburban Exile and Symptoms of Homesickness. His poetry has been published in journals and anthologies from nine countries, including Antipodes, Cordite, Glasgow Review of Books, Mascara, Postcolonial Text, Tincture and Verity La.

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Julie Irigaray

 

 

Drunken Roses

The curtains’ psychedelic pattern
is the only touch of sunshine
in this flat.

Beyond them, two artificial moons
radiate tumours
in the cemented garden

and the city’s carrot bricks
are prison walls
pinching the sky.

Inside, heads drooping,
hunchback roses
recover from a hangover.

This title evokes a still life
or a Baudelaire poem
but lacks his genius.

 

 

 

Julie Irigaray has been published in Southword, Shearsman, Mslexia, and Tears in the Fence. She won third prize in the 2017 Winchester Writers’ Festival Competition and was shortlisted for The Yeovil Prize 2017 and The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2016.

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Konstandinos Mahoney reviews ‘Sunshine at the end of the world’ by Chris Hardy

 

 

Sunshine at the end of the world, Chris Hardy’s fine fourth collection, has time hanging over the forty nine assembled poems like the sword of Damocles; but rather than casting a shadow, Hardy’s awareness of the impermanence and fragility of things permeates his work and gives it meaning – through acknowledging the finite, he illuminates the pathos of transience; at the end of Hardy’s world is the liberating light of the Greek islands, not the opaque gloom of Hades.

‘Pulse,’ the first poem in the collection begins at the beginning with a newborn baby, /all there is for you is your/immortal, unopened second/.  From there the poems move backwards and forwards through time and memory, Europe and Asia, human and animal, mining the depth and excavating the span of a life well lived and observed. ‘Deadelus’ looks afresh at the myth through the three classic partitions of time; It is good/ to live in the moment, but what if the moment/ is no good?//Then you must live/in the dark/cluttered labyrinth/of your past,/or the empty balcony/high on a mountain/that you call the future/…. /after all that is what Icarus did -/dive off/into his future./ In, ‘The dustmen laugh at last year’s diary,’  the paradox of non-linear time, reminiscent of Eliot’s Four Quartets, is simply but profoundly explored, /Birds sing before dawn/I was dead before I was born.

There is no superfluous ornamentation in these poems, couplets, tercets, short, clipped lines, Doric not Corinthian, rarely spilling over to a second page. Imagery is fresh, original, arresting, never there just for show, always an integral part of what the poem is saying; the title poem, for example, describes a graveyard where the dead are buried, standing up, /cold, mud-clamped sentries/knee deep in the water table/. The second verse describes a burial at sea, with white flowers sprinkled on the surface looking from below like stars – a fearless and beautiful imagining of one’s own final ritual of departure. In ‘On schedule,’ Hardy uses a deserted airport at night as a metaphor of the heavenly gates, a portal to the other side, Saint Peter as checker of souls replaced by a custom’s officer who waves him on to the other side – a memorable and haunting poem for frequent flyers.

The poems, even the very short ones, are often structured around a narrative, a memory, an event, and it is Hardy’s skill that these poems, though brief and sparse, pack a powerful emotional punch; in, ‘Going for a walk.’, a poem of only sixty words, the pain and guilt of not hastening to a mother’s death bed is conveyed with maximum impact.

Hardy is expert at ending a poem, an elusive skill, for example in ‘Auspices’ and ‘Thread’, and the moving, ‘Catch it up,’ where the poet concludes by telling a child that if he ever catches a little bird in his hands, /the frightened heart/beating beneath your fingers/will make you/let it go, an ending as moving as it is beautiful and true, encapsulating the tender humanity that runs through this poignant collection.

Hardy, a philhellene, brings the crystal light and myth of Greece to many of the poems.  Among the Greek poems is ‘Borderline,’ a vivid evocation of a hillside nunnery; as Edward Lear painted striking watercolour scenes of Ottoman Greece, so Hardy conjures Greece in verse, an atmospheric description of an Orthodox nunnery in its mountain setting above the sea. The poem centres on a minor incident – a tourist being hushed by a nun protective of her sisters’ need for silence; but just as the poem seems to be over, the poet glances down at, /the narrow sea far below/where refugees drown, trying to reach the shore/ – a scene reminiscent of Breughel’s, ‘The Fall of Icarus,’ and Auden’s  ekphrastic poem, a tragedy, a drowning happening at a distance without anyone noticing; in Hardy’s poem, imagined survivors vanish into the ‘dark green, scented forest.’

Hardy’s tender and affecting collection feels like an elegy, a beautiful and accepting celebration of what was, what is and what is to be – a poet writing at the peak of his powers, ‘Sunshine at the end of the world,’ is a highly readable collection of humanity, compassion and wisdom.

 

Sunshine at the end of the world by Chris Hardy is published by Indigo Dreams.  Order your copy here: http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/chris-hardy/4593968553

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