John Grey is watching the salmon run


So many fish are clearing the dams this year.
Thanks to the heavy rainfall of course
but maybe the urge for the spawning places
is riper than weariness and gravity.
Look out the window, Christine…
those silver bodies, one after the other.
Enough for fishermen, enough for bears,
enough for the embrace of watching.
And to think it's their own death
that's calling out to them.
What you and I limp toward,
they make for with such speed.
And it's the sheer numbers
that convince us this will be a good year.
Who hurts when there's salmon running?
Against the current, the good hearts soar.

* John Grey is an Australian born poet, US resident since late seventies. Works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in Slant, Briar Cliff Review and Albatross with work upcoming in Poetry East, Cape Rock and REAL.

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Jane Monson's negative theology

Via Negativa

My mother was not Christ, but she was spat at. My father was not Christ, but he didn’t always know this. The two of them met in a garden, but they were not Adam and Eve. And when my mother became pregnant, this was considered a miracle, and when pregnant again, this was nothing short of Blake’s sunflower vision. But we are none of these things. When my mother had an epileptic attack, she looked like a monster. Of course, she was not possessed, but as children we didn’t always know this. What she was, was spat at. Someone we didn’t know, who was more needle than skin, more threadbare than whole, turned his mouth to her as she fitted on the pavement; emptied his tongue, and told her to get up. Beside her, flowers shook their heads behind a newly built wall. She’d made the bricks bleed on her way down, and narrowly missed the plaque that named them the city’s best roses.

*Dr Jane Monson works as a writer and teacher in Cambridge, London and abroad. She was short-listed for an Eric Gregory, commended by the Writers' Centre Norwich, and is editor of The Anthology of Contemporary British Prose Poetry.  Her first collection Speaking Without Tongues is forthcoming from Cinnamon Press.

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Larry Kimmel writes an elegy

October Elegy

After the burial she walked with me,
Where tall trees, standing in a clear
Sunlight, cast strict shadows across
The drive – a woman just past fifty,
Elegant and gracious, lovely to see.

“You came all the way from Maine, they say.
You must have been very fond of Kurt,”
Meaning her brother, my uncle by marriage,
               and that was true.

A far hill seemed the reds and golds
Of an old tapestry kicked against
The horizon, while the branches near
At hand were clad in tatters, and one
Old oak in rags of penny-brown.

“You were just a boy when I left home.”

That, too, was true, and true still,
The infatuation a boy once felt
For her – though now as mellow as
A bronze medallion smoothed by the wear
               of a quarter century.

She took my arm, her white-gloved hand
Around my sleeve, and we walked awhile
In silence.  Her step was steady, stately,
Despite the cant of her narrow heels
On the cinder drive.  And leaving the drive
We crossed a quilt of yellow leaves,
Dimly reflected in the branches
Overhead, and I was made
Momentarily giddy by
               the lightness of its color.

And as we joined the others, she let
Go of my arm, saying, “I must
See Joan before I leave,” meaning
My aunt, her sister-in-law, and smiling
A smile of October charm she left me.

All that was eighteen years ago,
And now I am her age then, and now
I do not think that I shall ever
See her again, and that, I allow,
Is as it should be, now as the reds
And golds of old tapestry
Return, once more, to distant hills –
               the same but not the same.

* Larry Kimmel is a US poet of both
haikai and mainline forms. His most recent books are this hunger, tissue-thing and Blue Night & the inadequacy of
long-stemmed roses
. (Modern English Tanka Press).

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An extract from a new poem by Moniza Alvi

3.  Better By Far   

By bus?

Better by far a magic carpet
finely knotted, richer

than blood, broad enough
to keep the family together,

islanded, apart
from every danger,

journeying swiftly
across the unsegmented sky –

not in the cauldron of summer,
but in the fresher feel

of the last of winter,
the lucid mornings,

the greeny tinge
of the evening air,

Nehru to wave them on
and Jinnah to welcome them –

my grandmother, her pots and pans,
her lamp close by,

her parcels of layered clothes,
like mattresses,

Ahmed and Athar jostling for space,
Rahila, Jamila, Shehana,

the ‘little’ sisters,
a conspiracy of three,

with names, like mine
all ending in ‘a’, young girls,

cross-legged, daydreaming,
disentangling hello from goodbye.

Author’s Note: This is an extract from a poem-in-progress ‘At the Time of Partition’ inspired by the story of Athar, my father’s younger brother. He suffered brain damage as a result of a childhood accident. Some years later he was one of the hundreds of thousands who disappeared at the time of the partition of India, never to be found again. My grandmother and her family made the crossing from India to the new country ‘Pakistan’ by bus…

* Moniza Alvi was born in Pakistan and grew up in Hertfordshire. Her poetry collections include The Country at My Shoulder (OUP, 1993) and Europa (Bloodaxe Books, 2008). In 2002 she received a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors. Moniza now lives in Norfolk.


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Catherine Edmunds is watching the developers


the cracks in the memory
of childhood summers
are turning boot polish black

the hill
once a site for a thousand tumbles
through singing grasses
now lies barren:
home to creeping machines
a mound of hopes gone sour

the two men who stand at the top
surveying a map of trivialities
are stuck there forever
held by the ghost of one last white tree

and this is how it should be
for those who would steal
the summer

* Catherine Edmunds is a novelist, poet and artist. She
says her literary style is encapsulated in the title of her poetry
collection wormwood, earth and honey
while her artwork veers between delicate portraiture, exploding dogs
and decomposing toads

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New haiga by Pris Campbell & Geoff Sanderson

* Pris Campbell has published haiga and free verse poetry in numerous journals. The Nature of Attraction, published by Main Street Rag Press, her most recent poetry collection with Scott Owens, will be in print at the end of July. She lives in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Geoff Sanderson has published haiga in several journals and is an accomplished poet/photographer. He is retired RAF and lives in Yorkshire.

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New prose: Ariane Synovitz is on holiday

Les grandes vacances

For a child, two months is an eternity.
An eternity of watching the shape of clouds change: the ground sinks into my back, bugs tickle my arms and the afternoon stretches out. Look, here is a dolphin, here is a dragon. Here is a dog, which turns into a horse, which gallops across the sky.
An eternity of scraping our knees against the cedar tree: our older cousin once climbed to the very top. There must be a way. This branch or that one? We try over again, then forget it, just hang like bats and watch the world upside down.
It’s naptime: an eternity of whispered giggles in the cool shade of the house. Through the cracks of the shutters, the sunrays glow like pixy dust.
An eternity of peach juice running down my chin, eventually washed off by the cold, cold spray of the garden hose. Muddy feet and happy shrieks…
Even the occasional rainy day lasts an eternity. My finger erases the mist of my breath on the window as I follow the unpredictable path of a raindrop. I make a game of guessing which one will reach the ledge first. It will be the winning drop. On the old piano, someone stumbles their way across Chopin's waltzes, mysteriously in tune with the sudden cracks of wood in the chimney and the continuous hush of rain.
When the sun comes back, there is a pile of passed-down plastic boots. Everyone is sure to find a pair that fits. Off we go: an eternity of poking sticks in the rainbow of puddles.
Then, one day, the grown-ups start packing frantically. Suddenly, time speeds up. I’m strapped in the back of the car. The engine is revving. My grandmother is shoving one more box of cookies through the rolled-down window. My mum is checking one last time upstairs for a forgotten sweater. Kisses. Hugs. See you next year. My grandfather is holding his largest white handkerchief. He'll wave good-bye in the distance until the car turns the bend of the road.
On the back seat, I stay quiet, trying to leave the stillness undisturbed. Just yesterday, I thought summer would never end.

* French born, English writing Ariane
who now lives in the Czech Republic.

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