New poem – and a new contributor – Fish by Deborah Arnander


When you were eleven
you loved fishing.

When you were forty
you went out
and bought yourself the best
rods and lures
your hard-earned money could buy.
You even bought
a special fishing hat.
You sat on the bank
in your nylon chair
The trees dripped honeydew
onto thick water.
And there were dragonflies.
They made you think of your first kiss.

Then suddenly
a small vibration
singing on the line
and something tugging –
Your fingers fumble at the reel
you bite your lip:
a little silver perch
with orange fins
rips twisting up into the air.

Your heart goes down

You weren't expecting fish.

• Deborah Arnander is a literary translator, working from French to English. She's lived in Bangkok, Paris, San Francisco and Seville; now has two young children and lives in Norwich. She has just completed a diploma in creative writing at the University of East Anglia.

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One prose poem and one vignette by Geoff Mills

This poem was not intended for publication

This poem is not intended for publication
and is to be found post-humously among my effects
when the scholars and publishers scavenge through
the biography-shaping artefacts of my life.

It has been carefully concealed
so as to be conveniently found,
a remarkable discovery that will reveal
the visionary depths of my self awareness,
the agonized sense of my own genius.
It will shock and excite the scholars
for its frankness, unashamed
self celebration and its revelation of a
naked ambition hitherto unsuspected.

It will affirm the poet's reputation
not only because he had known for years
what it had taken the literary establishment
a while to suspect, but because its status
as a private piece reveals the extent of his modesty,
self effacement and sensitivity to public opinion.  

And some knowing bastard from a respected
literary periodical will shatter the reverent tone
and say “this poem is not a poem, for it reads exactly like prose”.
And though I  concur, his objection will seem
churlish, insensitive and ill-timed
for I, the genius, will be lying
defenceless in my coffin.

Quite dead.

– – – – – – – – –

The Silence

At noon he shuts the stifling heat, roaring television
and detached voices behind him and plunges into
blackness. The warm plastic glow of domesticity
recedes as he thrusts forward and senses the chill
blast of winter slap his cheeks.The high childish shrieks
and deep mannish moans fade, only to mesh
with the whistling wind that assaults quivering grass
and trembling branches with malicious violence.  
Suddenly he feels that weight of feeling he both fears
and craves. The illusion of company and warmth
that his home creates seeps away and an icy wave of
ringing solitude washes over him.

Suddenly he isn't just alone, he is always alone, but
desolate.  It is that numb desperate aching pain
that he is familiar with and yet privately cherishes.
It is his own unique pain that no other will
experience – a sparkling razor thread that sears his
whole being and gives life a piercing edge.

He sits between two bushes beside the river, weighed
down by a stomach that churns slowly with
emotion made dense and solid by time. He imagines
that if he should jump into this liquid blackness
he would plummet straight to the bottom. He would
have to sit on the river bed – black inky water
all around him – and wait for the eerie echoes in his
swollen mind to swallow him up for good

He listens. The roar of silence rings in his ears.
Nothing. Just nothing.

Should he have the powers that at times he feels he
possesses he could sit on the river and it would
carry him through the country side, through the
cities, over the estuary and into the sea. He could
roam the country untouched and unseen – unshackled by
a mind diseased by sadness and a stomach
made concrete by anxiety, anger, tears, longing.

He perches still and still no-one knows. More his own
time than ever – yet more than ever detached,
disassociated, severed – on the fringes of time.
Still silence reigns, darkness rules. And still nothing.
Eerie deafening nothing.

He dislodges and trails his way home. This has never
happened. No one will ever know. He leaves
a section of himself there forever – perching on the
edge, in the cold, by the liquid blackness –
betrayed by that part of him that decided to go
home… back to the stifling warmth, roaring television
…a world of cheap yellow glow and hollow
uncomprehending voices.

• Geoff Mills says “I studied English at University and have had poetry and prose published. I am a fat man.”

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Dragon Fly – a new haibun by Ray Rasmussen

Dragon Fly

Three days of steady rain pummeling the cabin's roof. This morning it has slowed to a soft hiss. The break comes in late afternoon, the wind gentling, spots of sun breaking though, clouds turning white, the surface mirroring the sky.

A gray heron rests on the red canoe. As I approach, it lifts off, wings tapping paired ripples.

My paddle dips & rises in a steady rhythm, stirs reflections of cloud and mountain. Water drips off, becomes lake again.

the surface
red dragon fly

• by Ray Rasmussen

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Robbed by Chris Major

There is a constant
procession of cars.
Mourners bring flowers
and teddy bears,
football shirts and photos
to personalise each plot.
Simple crosses show
the many young
taken prematurely,
when Heaven
smash 'n' grabbed,
left shattered glass
marking a party night,
a birthday,
A 50,
A 30,
There is a constant
procession of cars.

• Christopher Major is a regular contributor to Ink Sweat & Tears

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New haibun by Ray Rasmussen

My Very Own Beat Scene

The dimly lit basement room is full of poet wannabes, them dressed in second-hand scruff, me in coat and tie, just having delivered a lecture to a class of MBA students.

First thought, what am I doing here? Answer: I am needed here to provide balance for without me the entire room might tilt, might slide off the edge of the Earth.

Most readings are a kind of rant-rap-the military invasion of Iraq, the plight of indigenous peoples, the sins of the opposite sex [which was about being dumped].

My turn. I read a piece about the plight of my daughter suffering mental distress and drug addiction. I choke up, tears fall, telling me that I've bottled up my feelings. It seems to go over quite well with this “I'm cool because I live on the fringe of society and have a reservoir of disdain for anything normal” group, perhaps because I've mentioned the crystal meth word.

But, I don't feel particularly good about the piece – my critical voice warns that it's a bit smarmy, that the haiku are too contrived, that I shouldn't be writing about my daughter's plight. Oh, well. It's what I can do and that voice is always present, always trying to take the fun and emotional release out of writing. Regardless, I admit that when done reading a piece, however inept, I float between a bloated ego state and the mellowness of a mild depression helped along with a tote of raw red wine.

I did think that at least my haibun aka rant was REAL, whereas many of the overlong rants that I heard from some of the readers dealt with things imagined, with things not lived.

I remember being 20-years old, a member of a Berkeley, California mob ranting against the war in Vietnam. That was REAL because we were going to be drafted and forced to fight a non-declared war that we didn't believe in.

Home from the reading, the two cats that I live with appear when I enter the kitchen. They gaze skyward, as if praying to a cat god in the ceiling, their heart-felt mewing easily falling into the REAL rant form. I'd like to think that they were acknowledging me for my poetry reading feat, but I know that they are simply looking toward the cupboard where the cat treats are safely stored. Overwhelmed by their entreaties, I extend my hand, the desired treats in my palm. You see I have mellowed and made peace with the fat-cats of the world, indeed …

though small,
I am the cat god
of abundance

• Ray Rasmussen lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His haiku, haiga, haibun and articles have been accepted for publication in Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Contemporary Haibun, Simply Haiku, Heron's Nest, Road Runner, Bottle Rockets, Contemporary Haibun Online, Haigaonline, Tinywords, Haiku Harvest, the World Haiku Review and other venues. He is the technical editor and designer of the Contemporary Haibun Online website. His web site designs are currently used by Simply Haiku and Roadrunner online journals. In a previous life, Ray thinks he may have been a university professor. Presently he enjoys the writing, photography and wilderness hiking. (There is a link to his website on our Links section.)

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The Foxhole Manifesto by Jeffrey McDaniel

Time for another example of multimedia/e-poetry – this time The Foxhole Manifesto by the US poet Jeffrey McDaniel. The running time is just over 4 minutes and the animation is by Nick Fox-Greig.

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Three poems by Dave Migman

the rock
is gone
the ground
clean under.
the wait
is long
the clock
sweeps slowly
around our faces.

– – – – – – – – –

Homage to Mountain
sickle back mountain white bone
red flesh parting snaggletooth holly
and olive hair
shallow roots fasten eroding boulders
in silence across your stone brow
solitude amongst the smell of thyme
and the fox who leaves
the fragrance of his passing
cavern worn eyes
blinded by the turning millennia
mountain face to god-home
of ancients. Scar turned flesh storm tasted
winds have smothered, rains eroded
your cataracts hold fast
no longer does it feel
fire throb through cavernous
arteries reach deep under
rooted bastion of his face
god-home rock brow
I walk your bitten profile
my feet are sure.

– – – – – – – – –

The touch of a∑

Last night the tent
and I moaned
in sweet dream
forgotten faces
while she snored
beside me.
I awoke
shifting uncomfortably
shamed for a moment
by the memory
of the dream.
• Dave Migman is a stone carver from Scotland. His work has been published in numerous poetry zines in the UK and his short stories appear sporadically on-line.

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