Jeane, The Headstone Huntress, reminded me of my one visit to the Drawing Room of Europe, St. Mark's Square in Venice. What fixed it in my then 12-year-old brain were not the pigeons, Campanile, or the gilt facade of the Doges' Palace, but (as it was a leaden-skied, sweltering day) the almost frozen, freshest, most lusciously refreshing, long, cold glass of on-the-spot-crushed lemon juice I have ever tasted to this day. Astonishing how our senses decide to store certain experiences, but dump millions upon millions of others. The cafe with the crusher was through an opening on the side of the square opposite The Campanile, and its shade was so welcome before we tackled the Palace and sampled The Bridge of Sighs where two American lady tourists were captivated by my explanation of the myth that its title derives from the final sighs of prisoners being led to their execution – adults taking seriously a schoolboy: just imagine!
*C.J. Heyworth has a front-row seat in one of the World's greatest theatres of life, Blackpool in Lancashire. His main interest is how and why memory works. In July he becomes a State Pensioner, though he is still 18 in his head.
Stories about his drunk college buddy, who once scaled an impossible geological structure when the rest of the party was looking in the other direction, don’t linger on his tongue. “How’d you get up there? We only looked away for a minute.” “I don’t remember.” Ninth graders of course think this is funny. We chuckle when he tells us about cleavage, the tendency of rock to break along planes of weaknesses. On the first day of class, he projects on the pull-down screen a Peanuts cartoon of Linus squatting, staring as he too squats, stares at Glenda’s chest. Once out of habit I shifted my eyes ahead when scooting my chair forward in another class, my gaze tunneling down the corridor between Glenda’s breasts as she, sitting across from me, was in the throes of the same motion. Preston, her boyfriend, later whispered to me, “I saw what you did.” Yet this man, our teacher, is less timid with his gaze; picture Charles Schulz drawing dotted lines connecting eyes to breasts, as Linus’s eyes are connected to perhaps a football. An observant comic would follow the lines from girl to girl to girl, always skipping the girl in the back row as Family Circus’s Billy might hopscotch the neighbor’s lawnmower. Weeks later the dotted lines rest on my blank homework, and this same teacher speaks words to me, words like brother, college, science. I am only being lazy, rebellious. Sure, I can identify metamorphic rocks no sweat, but why? Already a budding writer, I am more interested in feeling the rough foliations of the human soul. I direct him to the girl in the back row, who struggles daily to scale the crags of the syllabus. “Forget about her,” he says. “She’s a lost cause.”
unsure: gneiss or schist or slate?
child’s breasts weeping milk
*Danny Pelletier's haibun has appeared in Ink Sweat & Tears, Contemporary Haibun Online and The Raleigh Review. He lives with his wife and two children in central NY, where he teaches writing. This summer, he'll be teaching a workshop on haibun at Hartwick College's Pine Lake Environmental Campus.
An earlier version of Cleavage appeared in Contemporary Haibun Online
The yarrow, the bulrush, the burdock
the long-stemmed wheatgrass, a single iris
leaning like one of the paparazzi
for an exclusive front page shot
line the path either side of a girl running
as though she might be dreaming she escapes
the applause of a crowd round the centre court
at Wimbledon or tiers of calculating eyes
intent on catwalks in Paris or Milan
or the fans held back by bodyguards
from the red carpet at an Oscar ceremony.
Ten years from now those long legs will turn heads
on the Nevsky Prospekt, in Harrods’
or the lobby of the George V hotel.
But now she runs because supper has been called
or to see a new litter of kittens
in a shoebox or Pappa has come home
from the city with jokes, chocolate,
some gloves Mama tries not to look pleased about
or a silly hat for her that she’ll pull faces under
and no thought for the future except that it’s a word
that belongs in school and a boring grammar lesson.
born 1948, lives in Slovakia. Used to earn his living as an English
language learning projects consultant. Now annoys his wife and does a
bit of this and that to contribute to the household expenses. Writes
feuilletons for PN Review, the Bow-wow Shop and other poetry magazines. Would like Hugo Williams's spot on the TLS. His website www.jamessutherland-smith.co.uk contains examples of his poetry and the very grumpy weblog of somebody who feels undervalued. Photograph by *Shamil Khairov, Senior lecturer in Slavonic Languages at Glasgow University, taken in Northern Russia.
Punctured gasps of bog cotton in the marsh by the stream
only he knew the way through. He liked his knowledge.
He had the gardeners dowse selected plants on the hour,
every hour, calibrating which were the last to droop.
He admired cacti for their instinct, their endurance,
liked the sweat of his greenhouse, the heat forced to its limit.
He logged what could survive, beyond the open mouths
of orchids. He knew all their Latin names.
As a boy, he’d snipped the heads off lilies, now
he wanted beauty, found comfort in the red wounds of roses.
One task he retained; no one was allowed to shoo the birds
from the lawn. He hung his catapult from a hook.
His blooms won prizes. His soil, rich. Bone meal rich.
*Katrina Naomi's first full collection The Girl with the Cactus Handshake was shortlisted for the 2010 London New Poetry Award. In 2009-10 she was the first writer-in-residence at the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth. Katrina's originally from Margate and lives in south London.
'Pinochet's Garden' is from The Girl with the Cactus Handshake (Templar Poetry 2009)
Your face like a kitten, small in the morning,
where two commas mark a smile
broad enough to section the heart of a lamb
and turn a pressed coin of copper the likeness of aurum.
Was it a fool’s morning, that set me bright on my way
my ventricles burning hot beneath woolfleece
my pennies spinning first into silver
before your shine sliced these fine red segments through with yellow?
*Poem by Helen Pletts whose two collections, Bottle bank and For the chiding dove, are both published by YWO/Legend Press (supported by The Arts Council) and available on Amazon. ‘Bottle bank’ was longlisted for The Bridport Poetry Prize 2006, under Helen’s maiden name of Bannister. You are welcome to visit www.stem-of-quietly-disarrayed-fertility.com.
*Image by Romit Berger who says “I am a graphic designer and artist, living in Prague for the past
ten years. In 2008 I joined a writing group – English is not my native
language but I graduated from an international school, so it is a part
of my life ever since. I feel that the dual process of finding words to
describe mind images and illustrating written words, opens a new
exciting dimension of creativity for me. My work can be seen on www.romitcom.com“
I was for a moment called out of my ghost life
by your text message on my mobile,
I was sitting at the table watching TV
looking at a remote control there by my hand…
they were four really, the remote controls,
the old one for the TV
to still switch it on and off ( and me too ),
one for the satellite, one for the DVDs
and the one for the new digital box,
then, just a bit smaller, there was my mobile,
( so they all together looked five ),
same rectangular shape, sparking off
these glimmers of digital, remote life,
like many of us remote-in-control,
numbers, figures, gestures, voices, bodies,
or just tangled and unfurling memories of them,
pushing buttons, digitizing,
in the air, in the absorbing air
that it happened
it switched us on one day
as it will switch us off.
*Davide Trame says “I am an Italian teacher of English living in Venice-Italy.
My poems have appeared in journals around the world, I think five hundred or
worst, the potassium flashes;
electric questions crackle;
numbered doubts on tickets, in chest-press black,
Progress Papers for this pilgrim to solve before the bell;
the invigilator’s foot-steps will stop.
It’s the shutting out, short-circuiting news,
the haunt of a child, a worm in his eye,
this hollow-pot-bellied bone china boy
There’s the shutting out closer to home;
the lark on the road, legs broken,
he needed a truck, but his wings reached up;
it’s letters and numbers; my hanging head,
my dread; the grey, the red painted black.
It’s the pushing it back
to before, then behind,
the mad scramble, to panic-fill gaps
And, all night,
all night, there’s a regular twist of a chalk-rock back,
heavying bone, scalding marrow, calves,
calves, and joints red-wired.
It’s the shutting it out;
the need to shove SHOUT out,
to wake up my world,
but I can’t.
There are chains,
spies still alive
*Pippa Chapman has attended Helen Ivory’s class in Norwich for two years and Moniza Alvi’s workshops for a year. During the long search for her hidden family history she started to use poetry to express and cope with emotion. She found her imagination in Helen’s handbag one morning at Dragon Hall.