The Guest by Clare Phillips-Barton

The Guest

Teeth exposed,

rivulets of saliva making their way towards her neck.
A ventriloquists’ dummy,
poised in a silent scream.

Joints, and muscles groaning under inhuman manipulation,
and His seductive whisper,
stop fighting me,
stop thinking,
just let it happen.

Tearing, stripping cherished relationships to the bone.
Nourishing from the damage inflicted,
on those closest to her,
His host.

Every joyful memory,
every drop of trust,
all the love, hope and all that kindness.
Devoured in a gluttonous frenzy of pleasure.

Until all that is left is the fractured,
discarded shell of friendship.
And her wrung out body, sobbing,
released from this catatonia to ensnare more prey.

But now a sparkle on the horizon has caught His eye,
Apple sweet, and white on white,
playful and open,
and He wants them too.

• Clare Phillips-Barton is amongst other things a mother of two. Living, writing and bumping into unusual types in the Northamptonshire

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New prose poem by Andrea Porter

Group of Three Magic Stones by Barbara Hepworth 1973 (Kettles Yard Cambridge)

The retired nurse finally found one at seventy on the beach at Wells. It has the silver tongue and flatness of the Aussie pilot’s vowels. He had accepted her virginity in the war without a fuss and had sent her long letters on thin paper. She listens to the stone whisper at midnight as she lies in bed with tea and digestives. He re–tells the correspondence, recounts the end of days. She notes that he wrote a great deal about the Mess.

An old Carmelite nun in Wales uses hers as the surface of all things. A smooth textural stone she found near an estuary as a child. Her father walked with her there, naming the seagulls, the formation of clouds. It is a map that traces her way through memory and back to God. In her hand she travels what was before and what will be again. She knows about the journey, the nature of angles and shadow. During early Mass it warms her body in the chapel. Others recognise a certain change in her.

The florist with grey eyes hides a stone in a kitchen drawer. She thought of wearing it around her neck as a heavy talisman, against the ills that befell her but stones are all history and have no sense of time. She cannot recall where she found it, having stared at her feet for so long in the sure and certain hope of her resurrection as a woman who possesses such a stone. Held up, it reflects her lost child in flight like a photo-booth snap. She raises it to the evening light as she waits for the pasta to cook.

As for me, there may be a fourth. I am searching for the stone that allows itself to be seen as a whole. It will have a pulse so that it would almost throb, like desire. I would place it at the back in case it judders off. Each face and plane that gives it strength but completeness could be suffocating to others and myself, given the type of woman I am. It is wise that the fourth keeps to itself and does not search me out. Three is a powerful number, it is stronger than the corners of a room, seasons, horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Andrea Porter is a member of the poetry performance group Joy of Six
that has performed in Britain and New York. She has been published in a
number of poetry magazines (both paper and online) in the UK , Canada ,
Australia and USA . Her narrative sequence of poems Bubble
was adapted for Radio 4 as a drama by the RSC playwrite Fraser Grace.
She received an Escalator Award from the British Arts Council (East)
and The New Writing Partnership in 2006 to complete a novel. She sleeps
either too little or too much.

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New haiga from CarrieAnn Thunell

Thunell is a regular contributor of haiga to IS&T – she describes
herself as “an ecology and peace activist, backpacker, nature
photographer, artist, poet, and amateur landscape artist/gardener.”

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Two concrete poems by Chris Major

DRAG (haiku)
Syllables used to
show the removal of Jean
Charles De Men

records the after                 math
of teen joyriders                   losing
control, skidding,               and suddenly
turning into a sta               tistic and this
free verse which                 represents a
                  ##             ##
                 ##             ##
                ##             ##

                                                                        ALPHA VEC 1
                                                                       October 17-07

• Christopher Major is a regular contributor to IS&T – and should anyone wonder, the answer is 'yes' we always welcome works that make topical or political references.

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Gwilym Williams sends some snapshots from Venice


The panel of the Ottoman military tent
is blazoned with a ring of crescent moons
and a six-pointed star.
It is roughly patched and battle weary.
It hangs limply on the south wall
overseeing flanked memories in oil:
        Liberi’s Battle of the Dardanelles
        Belloti’s Battle of Albania
        Aliense’s Conquest of Tyre
        Peranda’s Victory at Jaffa.
It faces the throne of Saint Peter –
the stone chair with Koran inscriptions
and arabesque stellar motifs.
Between the protagonists
are found the antique artefacts:
        navigational instruments used in sailing
        travel journals of merchants
        11th century Islamic glassware
        and several ancient carpets.
On a canvas a boy leads a monkey
on a long string.
And a few steps away
is Byron’s misnamed Ponte dei Sospiri.
Pigeons avoid the dense needle defences
of the window ledges
and settle for a night in the beams
In the Doge’s quadrangle the tall figures
of Mars and Neptune stand together
on the wide steps
leading up to the Senate.

• As well as being a regular contributor to IS&T, over the past few weeks Gwilym Williams has been entertaining us in the comments column with a chronicle of what happened when he submitted a spoof poem to an equally bogus US poetry competition.

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New poetry by Elaine Speakman

My favorite place that I have never been…

I've never been to South Africa,
But I know how the sunset arcs
To meet the savana grasses
In the same hues of rust and gold.
I know how the sky is furred
Silver with stars at night
And how the rainbow
Of flowers on the veldt
Perfume the senses.
I know too
How the sharp blue air
Of the early morning
Pierces the heart
And how the song
Of the workers returning
Resonates with your soul
In same way
As the growls of distant lions.
I know all this
From the pictures you have painted for me
With words gently spoken
From my pillow,
Words that tell me
That your real home
Is not here with me.

• Elaine Speakman says… “I am an 'overgrown' (50 something years old) student who has just started on the MA in Creative Writing with Jon Glover at Bolton University. All my life I been both a lover of and a scribbler of poems, but it is only in the last 5 years (since my supposedly mid life crisis) that I have begun to take my own work seriously.”

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Three Sketch Haibun by Linda Papanicolaou


Trailing its long ribbon, a mylar balloon sails from a small park in front of the hospital, giddily dancing over the traffic lights and down the street, morning sun flashes on its lettering.  No one chasing it.  Did it get away too quickly, or did they want the world to know,  'IT'S A BOY!'

cotton clouds
in a baby blue sky–
some white some gray

A family returning from the park, the mother pushing a stroller while the grandmother shepherds with two older children whose feet are dragging.  She begins to sing

'I know an old lady who swallowed a fly….'

By stanza two she's coaxed the children into joining. Initially their phrasing is in a storytelling mode that I know from an old Burl Ives recording, but by stanza four the beat has kicked in. They're all marching down the sidewalk, arms swinging in unison.

I don't want to walk that fast, so I have to concentrate on a counterpoint until they're out of hearing.

tree lined street
rhythms of wind
through the leaves

A raised bed of kitchen herbs fronting a duplex unit near the end of the street. Near the gate is the gardener, wearing a straw hat and T-shirt pulled over his middle-aged paunch.  He's in animated conversation with other visitors so we slide in and look around by ourselves.

Many of the yards on the Garden Tour look as if they've been created by landscape architects for a photo shoot.  Not this one–it's been here long enough for the bees and butterflies to know about it.

green gloves
on a flagstone wall–
the smell of dill

• Linda Papanicolaou is an art historian and art teacher living in the Bay Area of Northern California. Her interest in poetry began when she taught an art lesson that included haiku and discovered that she really had to improve her own writing to be able to teach it. Since then haiku and haiga have become her favorite media of artistic expression. She is the editor of Haigaonline and assistant director of WHChaikumultimedia. Her art and poetry have appeared in Amaze, Autumn Leaves, Contemporary Haibun Online, Fire Pearls, Frog Pond, Geppo, Heron's Nest, Haigaonline, Lynx, Mariposa, Moonset, Nisqually Delta Review, Ribbons, Santa Fe Broadside, Simply Haiku, Soundings, Temps Libres and WHC World Kigo Project and World Haiku Review.

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