Nod Ghosh

 

 

 

 

Blood Displaces Water

Paola opens stitches on the cuff of her wrist. An efficient seamstress, she works on fine silver scars. She cuts with precision, but there’s danger in her strokes. She leans over the basin. A feather of pink spirals the water.

The collagen of her arm releases red drips, reluctant at first, then unhindered. She cuts again, and the swirls deepen to cerise. She is is fading, cold and alone. A lizard skitters across the cracked ceiling.

Soon her blood is depleted and scarce. The one-two one-two beat of her heart is strong, but her body fades with each breath. Her flesh is white; glassy folds of skin transmit the flickering candlelight.

Paola hesitates, remembers her lover’s oaths. The knife slips into a tangle of structures in her forearm. Water-in-eyes. Betrayal and lies. His lips. His promises against another’s. The beat of drums, and his sideways glances, imagined or real.

The basin is a red-red mirror. Paola’s unloved features break into concentric wheels. Drips fall. Leather-taut weals on alabastrine skin, where hesitant cuts have failed.

The fourth cut is deeper and releases a splash of crimson. The shadow of a clot writhes like a memory. The level in the basin rises, as blood displaces water.

 

 

 

Nod Ghosh‘s work features in various New Zealand and international publications. Nod is an associate editor for Flash Frontier, an Adventure in Short Fiction. Further details: http://www.nodghosh.com/about/

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Sally Michaelson

 

 

 

Good Night

Mum liked quiet children,
silent bodies,
no vomiting, no wheezing

I knew how to breathe through
an upset stomach
but asthma came at night

uninvited, a whistle-blower
in my lungs telling my throat
to snap shut.

To avoid being kept awake
by my racket
she fed me ‘ephredine’:

instead of being short of breath
I woke drenched in sweat
to see her ghost looming

 

 

Sally Michaelson is a full time conference interpreter in Brussels and mum to a son and daughter. She writes poetry in her spare time and has been published in Lighthouse

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Charles Tarlton

 

 

 

TIME, GENTLEMEN, TIME

CARMODY: We ought not take too long describing the winds or the leaves that
                          dance along them. Ah.
BLIGHT: What the older man knows. That’s my objective. 

Then you tell the truth,
when you shift your focus onto
things that bubble up
from below, stark underneath,
you can’t stop them coming up.

His mouth hangs widely
open, his truths unable
to form themselves
into solid things, they flutter
on the stale wind of his breath.

When time is spent,
and once spent not to be found
again. All the things
I did but can’t remember, how
love slides away like a dream.

 

 

 

 

Charles Tarlton is a retired professor living and writing poetry in Northampton, MA with his wife, Ann Knickerbocker, an abstract painter.

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Peter Burrows

 

 

 

Pavement

Legs running, legs running to the far end
Of the street, echoing stampede of feet
After feet. Down again, up again, gather,
Disperse. My sister comes over first.
Others follow. A bike wheel skids up.
The rider eying me like a dull pet,
Speeds off. One asks her my name. They drift off.
The pavement’s smooth warmth comforts my bare legs.
Planted within the benign reach of home
I return to scraping stones and squishing ants,
Occasionally, looking up at distant
Goings on – the shifting shapes and huddles

Rearranging and changing sides of the street.
Venturing like a coach up and down
The touchline at outcomes he cannot change,
Suddenly I’m pulled along with the crowd
Not knowing what we’re running to or from
Or why we’re now standing about. Other times,
The sun high and beating. Tops off. Water fights.
Droplets evaporate before our eyes
Off the gecko-hopping hot surface. The road
Sticky like black flapjack. A little plaything,
My brother pushes me fast on my new bike,
Too fast – I win the race – but fly over

Handle bars onto my face. Mouth, blood-filled.
Wailing. Days later my top teeth blacken,
And I’m taken to have them pulled out.
Returning with a nod, but back to the side lines
Where I watch some girl from another street
Draw a crowd telling tales that are pored over,
Uncertainly. Where does my brother go
Beyond the streets we only pass hand in hand
Or by car? Is it the same vague places from where
Those older boys come to stand on the edge
Of our street unnerving him? As it grows
Dark our numbers drop with each call home.

I wonder if I put one foot in front
Of the other balancing on this kerb,
Following the edge out as it curves along
All the other streets, looping in and out
Could I – without falling off – travel the world,
Until I returned again to meet myself,
And this curious crowd, centred around
This patch where we watch and play, play and learn?
And then I spot I’m not the smallest anymore.
Distracted – it flies by me: the dull scuffed
Wayward bounce of the half-flat ball wobbling
Down out of our street, and I chase after it.

 

 

 

 

Peter Burrows lives in the North West. He has worked in public and university libraries, and is currently a librarian in Greater Manchester. His poems have appeared in The North, The Interpreter’s House, The Cannon’s Mouth and South.

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Tom Wiggins

 

 

 

I’m at a party somewhere in Brazil

not the sit down one or the dancing one but the one where you’re stood up and the waiters come round and serve you little things on trays so you feel like some sort of posh giant when you eat them and it’s all very civilised and I find myself in a group of people with good hair and tailored suits who know which way round their business cards will be when they take them out of their inside pockets and they’re talking about scuba diving and one of them starts talking about a dive he did off the coast of Wherever and everyone nods like they all did the same dive the same mind-blowing dive and they keep nodding and they all nod so much that I think all of their heads are going to fall off and when the man finishes I crack my best joke and say why do scuba divers always fall into the water backwards and when I tell them the punchline a woman near to us laughs at the very moment she takes a sip of her wine and the spray goes everywhere and I mean everywhere all up the wall on some curtains a vase a passing waiter and on most of the people in the group and they look down at their suits then up at the woman then down at their suits and up at the woman and they’re shooting these black scowls at her as they dry their faces with their handkerchiefs before turning back but I can’t turn back because I’ve just recognised her and all I can do is smile because the woman responsible for giving most of my group a Prosecco shower is Elizabeth Bishop and she’s just laughed at one of my jokes and now they’re scowling at me as I’m smiling at her and they’re expecting my little comedy act to continue because they’re holding me at least 40% responsible for what just happened which I know will be reflected in the dry cleaning bill but I can’t do anything when Elizabeth Bishop has just laughed at one of my jokes and I feel myself melting like I’m stood above one of her flames and she’s captured all the gravity and I’ve forgotten language altogether because I’m looking at Elizabeth Bishop and Elizabeth Bishop is looking at me and I want to thank her not just for laughing at that silly joke but for everything so I half walk half float towards her and as I do so I remember the moose that stood in front of her bus wouldn’t it be funny if I asked about the moose but I tell myself not to even mention the moose she probably gets asked about it all the time you don’t want to look like an idiot in front of Elizabeth Bishop but in trying not to think moose everything becomes moose but do not under any circumstances ask about the moose

 

 

Tom Wiggins is a 31 year-old stonemason from Gloucester.

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Charlotte Appleby

 

 

Mr. Wrong

Can’t wear the red velvet skirt I love
the hem won’t cover bruised knees,
can’t talk—shouldn’t talk—to family
don’t need them asking me again
‘why don’t you just leave?’

If the roast isn’t on the table at five
o’clock sharp, then he’ll finish work,
cheeks flared and shout ‘bastard woman!’
I’ll apologise, clasp at his shirt, eyes-closed.

Look—the forgotten laundry pile has grown
added unfamiliar lingerie with a torn crotch.
Silently, he retreats to the office
slamming the door until it splinters.
Relief washes over me.

I slide to the floor, the sounds start
he’s watching videos—the groans, moans
of other women, the blonde one with big tits
the one he likes, the one who inspired him

to offer me an enhancement
like an upgrade of my phone;
he wants a better model.
I pushed away loved ones
to try to make this home.

 

 

 

 

 

Charlotte Appleby is a student at Gloucester University and works part-time as a Play Worker. She has written articles for online magazines such as Greener Gloucestershire and Business Buzz. She has published work in Compass: New Writing IV (2015) and Reflections: New Writing V (2016)

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Katerina Neocleous

 

 

Gargoyles

When their hearts and bodies ached,
they imagined beings able
to transcend toil only love
made tolerable; and the hurt
embryonic wings unfurling
from sore shoulders reluctantly,
like new Horse Chestnut leaves.

More cloister bat than angel,
these dumb creatures
summoned in torment
can’t offer hope or salvation,
but they’ll sit with you all day
though you refuse their succour:
until you’re less lonely than them.

 

 

 

 

Katerina Neocleous is a full time mother and home educator. She has had poems published in various poetry magazines, most recently in Obsessed With Pipework and Clear Poetry. She is based in North West England.

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