Peter Eustace translates Arnaldo Ederle

After John Donne

Thy firmnes draws my circle just
And makes me end, where I begunne.

History turns and these points also turn
one to the other measuring the distance
of the pearl fixing the mute chant
of constancy.

And if, behind the shapes so drawn,
squares, meadows and rivers chase each other
in the evening, in the dewy morning
or when the lights come on;

and if the world, the moons and the comets
follow point to point the round circle
and seek each other slowly, eternally
in the cold mirror,

at my beginning my end fixes
your firmness, inside the exact circle.

*Author Arnaldo Ederle, poet, critic and translator, was born and lives in Verona. More than ten books of poetry have won major prizes in Italy, as well as selected essays and translations including Lorca and John Clare into Italian.

*Translator Peter Eustace born in Birmingham, studied in Oxford and settled in Verona, Italy, working as a translator. Has three books of poems (two in bilingual editions)and contributes to many UK magazines.

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Some ekphrasis from Padrika Tarrant

After Lartigue
A voiceless yelping,
the air like translucent tar
dog thrown in the pond.
That sudden splash, like
the great wide world's end, the lungs
burning, astounded.
Muzzle in the air
that is green and damp as rot,
and dusk is dropping.

*Padrika Tarrant was born in 1974. Emerging blinking from an honours degree in sculpture, she found herself unhealthily fixated with scissors and the animator Jan Svankmajer. She won an Arts Council Escalator award in 2005. The Knife Drawer is her second full-length book; Broken Things was published by Salt in 2007. Padrika quite likes sushi, although she tends to pick the fish out. She hates the smell of money.

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Janette Ayachi's 'Sea-Rattle'


The sound of the sea reaches our tenement
tides curve their tails around towering
chasing pipework in circles, staining
with rims of salt, seeping in to rot the
The mice make boats out of bone china
stream towards sewers licking their
the light in our room radiates, challenges
signals ghost ships, throbs like a endomorphic
I hear the hammering of planks in the
the gutteral pull of the seas sweeping
two  by two in minature diptychs the neighbours
abandoning hope and lifes nexus of
for the bounty of blue, starlight and the promised
I bolt my doors as the paint starts to
the volgaraties of emulsion steer me away from
a flock of gulls crash their beaks against
and the sound keeps replaying like a foreboding
the sea rattles then roars, furniture soon
to the ceiling, like a spell water funnels up the
lights sizzle then burn out, moons flag on the
I start to wonder how long before everything is
the fumes are quick, eyes adjust to the
lungs inflate and learn to speak, I hold my
listen to their oscillations and swim towards the

*Janette Ayachi has a MSc in Creative Writing and her poetry has been widely published, her last publication was in New Writing Scotland 29.  Red Squirrel will publish her pamphlet A Choir of Ghosts this year, and her first full book collection in January.

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Cynthia Ruth Lewis's 'Squares'

Not really, no—
things weren't going too smoothly,
I remember telling you this morning
in the laundry room, the words sticking
in my throat like lint in a trap, as I folded
and re-folded a rag into perfect squares,
as if I could change the shape of things,
as if I could take the clothes from the dryer,
fold and pile them into the basket,
my troubles washed away with the detergent
and bleach, fresh and clean
I told you everything—the motel, the razors,
the call from the doctor at three in the morning.
The long, long drive to collect my brother and
his belongings, stowing my fear in the rear of
the empty U-Haul to make room for the map
plastered between my husband and I, guiding
us towards that apartment, those wrists.
Upon arrival, I find he looks the same, only
paler; a shade of life lighter, but I sidestepped
the matter, avoiding the purpose, speaking of
anything but the reason we were there:
the weather, reruns on t.v., his old knee injury
from a bike race gone too far. Here we are now,
loading boxes, gutting the place which now
blinked wide like an eye to see us off on the
long trek back, no room even to glance at the map;
now creased into careless halves, stashed in the
door of the rental van, relying on memory alone,
and, once home, parking the U-Haul sideways and
taking up three spaces, as it would not fit within
one tiny, tiny lot
Now, scrubbing the grape juice spots off the counter
for the umpteenth time, lowering the volume on
the ever-blaring t.v., and re-bandaging his damaged
wrists while trying to find myself somewhere
between the laundry and the dishes and the crying—
he's got his life back, what about mine? With my
husband urging continually in my ear:  “You've
got to tell him; he's your brother”…
Right now, my blood's as thin as water.

*Cynthia Ruth Lewis currently lives in Sacramento, Ca.  Her work has appeared in Nerve Cowboy, Canopic Jar, My Favorite Bullet, and others.

Squares has previously appeared in Underground Voices

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Peter Daniels reviews 'Modern Love' by Max Wallis

Max Wallis Modern Love Flipped Eye (Flap pamphlet series no.5) £4.00

This sequence takes a year of finding love and losing it; moving from “All the days to tread till I meet you…” to “Allow yourself this one day / hungover from love”. This is young love, gay love, Facebook love, but pretty universal in the way it works. The poems mostly address “you”, which is sometimes the lover and sometimes the self; but the couple’s first encounter is third person – “Once, / I / met him / under a / vowel filled nightmare” which is structurally necessary to get the reader onto the right sexuality. The importance of pronouns is part of the youthful experience, too: “The words I’m no longer afraid of, / ‘I’, ‘us’, ‘we’.” The poet’s fling with someone else is described significantly with a switch from self-address to a third-person “they” as if it wasn’t quite him, then back again to “Wake in the morning and weigh your heart” for the morning after.

There are some poems that don’t quite work, especially “Hiroshima Vow Towers” which makes the grand connections of public and personal disaster in a kind of overblown haiku style that takes a page and a half, including unnecessary explanation about Hiroshima. The following poem, “I Walk The City At Night To Find You” shows this up with an entirely convincing case of just being and experiencing, and putting it into words. The poems handle the tricky interface of sex and words well, especially through sound-texture combining with the images the words create: “You stir, grab and hold me into the nook, / the slotted jig, the saw of your neck; puck the air with your mouth”. “When A Thief Kisses You, Count Your Teeth” is a great exercise in the lover’s imperative, moving the physicality from “Undo my belt, wrench it until the loops split. Curl it. / Slide down skin-clung trousers” to “Gouge my eyes and add them / to the necklace you wear. Take it all. Everything. Now.”

I must be nearly three times the poet’s age, but that part of young gay love (or any love) hasn’t changed a lot. The social circumstances of being gay have altered, and the internet has developed the social opportunities, but while “Modern love is not told on paper”, the book Modern Love is nevertheless very much on paper (nice production), telling of how “Facebook has updated / but we are still in this state.” Young people still have their experience to live, and they write their poems about it.

…..reviewed by by Peter Daniels

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A Haibun from Stephen W Leslie

Coloring Book – A Japanese Haibun

After a year of preparation I was finally going to be seeing my first counseling client.  There was a knock on the door and she entered….and immediately my heart fell.  She was eleven years old and I had never had any classes on counseling children.   I was dumbfounded, but….. I was also a dad….. so I improvised and found a grief coloring book for her to work on.  She began to talk about her mom who had died in her mid 40’s of cancer as she colored.   Her mother had been put in the hospital nine months ago.  She had not been allowed to visit her.  Her father was afraid it would upset her to see her mother in that condition and her father did not like unpleasant emotions.
As she colored she began to cry and feeling overwhelmed I cried as well.  For some reason this made her feel better…..I seemed to model for her that it is ok to cry.  Her face still wet with tears she smiled at me after the first session and seemed to feel better.  She began to come on a regular basis and talked more about her anger, at her dad, at the cancer and at God.   Eventually with her emotions unleashed they began to spill out at home.  Her father called and canceled all her appointments.
Pictures colored
Black and red…spilling outside lines
Blotted with wet marks

*Stephen W. Leslie has been writing haiku and haibun poetry for nearly twelve years.  For thirty eight years he has practiced daily meditation and haiku poetry was a natural outcome of his heightened sensitivity. His haiku poetry has been published both in Japan and in the United States.  About ten years ago he began experimenting with writing haibun poems, four of which have been published by Contemporary Haibun Online.  He is the winner of the 2011 silver medal in haiku poetry from Kusamakura International Poetry Competition (Japan).

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Fiona Sinclair reviews Maria C McCarthy's 'Strange Fruits'

Maria C. McCarthy, Strange Fruits, Cultured Llama Publishing, 2011.

Maria McCarthy’s new collection Strange Fruits is dedicated to her best friend who died of cancer.  It is published in aid of Macmillan cancer support. Dedications to her friend Karen frame the contents. The prose poem at the end of the collection, illustrating a day out for the two friends with its comfortable rituals of charity shops and lunch will resonate with anyone who is familiar with the casual intimacy of deep friendship.  

Many of the poems would seem to celebrate cosy domestic life. For example the closeness of a snow bound couple:

You and I are propped up in bed
checking emails on wireless internet,

However as the collection progresses, such security is seen as illusory as we are reminded that cruel events afflict every life.  Thus the poem 'Ghost writer' recalls a friend for whom cancer stole the plums from your voice; in the eponymous 'Strange Fruits' a rural scene is marred by:

Stella cans, a Co-operative bakery wrapper
with orange sticker, reduced to 40p.

The most affecting poem is 'Slipping down' a touching  vignette skilfully using character and dialogue to recount a painful visit to a parent with Alzheimer’s now in a residential home whose mind struggles with:

the half- formed thought refusing to set
like jelly made with too much water,

This reminder of the harsh realities of life is delivered in some very fine imagery. The idea of comparing an Alzheimer victim’s cognitive struggle to liquid jelly is arresting and absolutely spot on.

Many poems wistfully hark back to the poet's youth. Being roughly the same age I enjoyed the recollections about tank top and platforms.  McCarthy uses the device of clothing throughout the collection to evoke memory. This symbol will I think speak specifically to women. The idea first appears in the poem 'I dream of a shop filled with all the clothes I've ever worn'.  The poem examines the idea that clothes are the outward manifestation of the different people we become over time, and how with time we shed these different selves like skins. Consequently the older poet finds that the once cherished lumberjack’s shirt, no more fits than the red jeans I wore with it… Similarly in a poem devoted to the narrator’s daughter, clothes chart the girl’s growth , culminating in her becoming a mother herself.   This is a particularly skillful poem making exemplary use of 'show not tell’, the daughter’s development is described exclusively in terms of her clothing, starting with school gabardine and ending with now an over- sized coat wrapped around mother and unborn child.

McCarthy keenly observes the minute particulars of life in this collection; she is particularly good at transforming the mundane details of everyday day life into something remarkable.  In the poem 'Missed you on the day it rained' the   narrator develops an unrequited relationship with a decorator she regards daily from her window.  'After the fire at Matalan' charts not only the fire but the aftermath where arresting imagery transmutes a burnt out store into

the carcass of this giant industrial bird,

its carved bones bared like a half-carved turkey.

…reviewed by Fiona Sinclair

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