Jo Dingle

 

 

 

Noticing how

The snow has changed us, softened our faces, a glint in our eyes.  We perceive other differently; perhaps because of the way we drove more slowly, appreciating the need to take more care on the corners, or use the gears instead of the brakes. I stand at the reception desk enjoying this quality of ‘something more’, a brighter admiration for our mutual presence, a playful yet unspoken acknowledgement of the journeys effort mixed with thrill. It infuses our exchange, making us more novel to the other, somehow bolder. We animate each other while you search for my appointment. The day is extra ordinary and the nurse sees me early, drawing red blood as more snow starts to fall outside the window. She is guiding a trainee, talking about what is needed and I rest in the calm perfect efficiency of the moment. It too has the feeling of falling snow. I thank you as I leave, imagining you at the end of your day taking care on the corners on your journey home.

 

 

 

 

Jo Dingle lives and works in Norfolk. Her poems have appeared in The Interpreters House, Obsessed with pipework and Ink Sweat and Tears.

 

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Sonam Chhoki

 

 

 

spring notes
 

first thaw
dwarf rhododendrons
colour the slope

 

 *
spring offering
the path to the shrine
covered in primulas

 

 *

the sky’s scarlet rim
as if someone ordered it
lights up the pines
 

 *
gun metal sky
the Plough
faintly luminous

 
 

Sonam Chhoki finds the Japanese short form poetry resonates with her Tibetan Buddhist upbringing.  She is inspired by her father, Sonam Gyamtsho, the architect of Bhutan’s non-monastic modern education and by her mother, Chhoden Jangmu, who taught her: “Being a girl doesn’t mean you can’t do anything.” She is the principal editor and co-editor of haibun for the United Haiku and Tanka Society journal, cattails.

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Simon Williams

 

 

 

Bone Chemistry

Mr Dishman broke his wrist
playing squash or chess or somesuch,
but didn’t let it stop him with equations:
acid-base, displacements, the Haber process.

He learnt to write on the blackboard with his left,
a strange non-cursive script with crisp ascenders,
the round-backed Є of the Bauhaus,
while (Ca3(PO4)2) continued to precipitate.

When the bone mended; radius or ulna
– why didn’t we ask? – he would sometimes write
with alternating hands; scripts with the right hand,
sinister subscripts with the other.

 

 

 

 

Simon Williams has eight published collections, his latest being a co-authored pamphlet with Susan Taylor, The Weather House www.indigodreams.co.uk/williams-taylor/4594076848, published in 2017 by Indigo Dreams which is also touring as a performance show. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet.

 
 

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Joel Martyr

 

 

 

Grapes
 
When I talk to you about making love
I am talking about how two people reach toward
each other — within the limits of what their bodies
will allow — and attempt to withstand the forces
that would pull them apart from one another
satisfied in the immediate — true satisfaction
takes patience; it is the reason going to heaven
makes sense (or seems to), we approach death
physically, though what we seek is spiritual.
But right now, we are only talking about making love,
which is like reading about making wine — it means
that even if we were ‘making wine’, we still would not be
drinking wine. Though if we were, the grapes fermenting
and becoming an intoxicant would be miracle enough.

 

Joel Martyr studied at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. His work has previously been published in The Explicator and on his website Fork’s Pass Poetry. He currently lives with his wife in Bristol, United Kingdom, where he teaches high school English.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Christopher Hopkins

 

Salting the skin

The sea becomes the colour of whale skin & chalk.
Hanging on a day,
abandoned by the chalk light.

A worm moon
left its portrait
under the drifting ebb,
sketched in ridges by the salt-water whirls
and the endless boxing sands.

I am looking out, with the land behind me.
Where the oil works shimmers in its nightly crown
like every swallowed light of the ocean
speared to ground.
The compact black of the sea in front of me.
A black hole of quiet gravity.

I am the only light on the ocean.

Then a false phare beam
breaks the hill brow to my side,
a car’s light
stranding me as the whale
sunk in the sour-dunes of dreaming.

Every tear,
salting the skin to crack,
under stresses,
under duress of my hidden moons,
my own careless forces of gravity.
Like the face of the tracer moon
I see my light
to be hung
on the broken starry.

 

 

Christopher Hopkins grew up in Neath, South Wales during the 1970’s surrounded by a landscape of machines and mountains. Christopher currently resides in the Canterbury area. His debut chapbook Take Your Journeys Home (Clare Songbirds Publishing House) has been nominated for the IPPY book award for poetry and two Pushcart Prize nominations. His second chapbook The Last Time We Saw Strangers is due out in Spring 2018. His work has been published in multiple publications including The Morning Star, Backlash Press and The Paragon Journal.

 

 

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Gale Acuff

 

Temptation

I brought an apple to my teacher at
Sunday School, Miss Hooker. I kept it in
my jacket pocket until after class
so none of the other kids could see me
give it to her after the lesson. It
weighed me down a little on one side, my
left side, where I stowed it, close to my heart,
or closer, at least than my right pocket
and there’s not much room in it, anyway,
what with my penknife and chewing gum and
a napkin left over from Burger King
and a couple of acorns, big ones, with
little caps on them, hope they don’t fall off,
and a key that I found that fits a door
and whoever lost it, I hope he’s got
a spare. Or she. And twenty-seven cents
in mostly pennies. It’s a big apple
to make me favor my left side against
a pretty hefty sum in my right, and
red, and red’s a color that looks heavy
to me, and a stem so thick you could write
with it, almost, and even two leaves big
enough to cover Adam and Eve
down there where you’re not supposed to see them
until you’remarried, I guess, maybe
old enough to look at people naked,
whatever age that is–16 maybe.
I’m just 9 so I have, let’s see, seven
more years to see what a woman looks like
underneath unless I find out through some
sin, though I admit I’ve checked the World Book
Encyclopedia but those pictures
are of the insides of people, women and
men, and I don’t care to see into things
so true. If I had Superman’s X-ray
vision I might use it to look through walls
or clothes but only once or twice to see
if it’s working. Any more and I’ve sinned
and I don’t want to go to Hell, even
if I get to wait ’til after I die.
It wasn’t easy, walking up to her,
Miss Hooker I mean, with my present, and
not just because I could get it barely
out of my pocket, it was so big and
felt even bigger, as if it had grown
inside me, maybe like a baby if
that’s where they come from, inside a woman
I mean, not a pocket. And I dropped it
almost, but caught at it with both hands. Whew.
Miss Hooker had her back turned, erasing
the board. I stood behind her, cleared my throat,
and must have surprised her because she whirled
to me and cried Oh! I held it to her
with both hands and said, Miss Hooker, I brought
you this apple and I hope you like it.
Why thank you, Gale, she squealed. That was too kind.
When she took it from me, with her left hand,
which is, as we know, the one nearest our
heart, some of her fingertips touched mine, or
some of them, and I can tell you which ones,
she held it toward the light in the east
window and said, I don’t think I’ve ever
seen a finer specimen. No, I said,
it’s an apple. She laughed and her laughter
made it sound as though there was no such thing
as sin, at least in our little classroom,
or that if there was we’d still have no fear.
And when I pulled the knife from my pocket
and offered to cut her a slice of it
she said, No, I’ll just eat it as it is,
and brushed it against her chests a few strokes
and then bit right into it as if I
didn’t want a piece myself, and wasn’t
hungry, and didn’t want to share the pain.

 

 

 

 

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, McNeese Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Adirondack Review, Weber: The Contemporary West, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Orbis, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).  Gale has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

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Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

 

 

 

Circular Saw

 

We sat down at a table shaped like a heart. It reflected our mutual wish that we rekindle our love, which was as worn out as a Ford Fairlane abandoned on a New York City curb. The tables nearby were shaped like kidneys, gall bladders, livers, etc. There was a table made of coral shaped like a brain. The seats were as spongy as used lungs.

The people sitting at these tables looked uncomfortable. They were all couples hoping for better lives, but few of them believed that this café would serve them. The waitresses were missing most of their teeth, like those at the diner on Colfax in west Denver, near the prison and the cheap hotels and the neon encased building that buys plasma.

One of the lodgings was the Big Bunny Motel. It had been the Bugs Bunny Motel, but Warner Brothers had sued them. The owners hired someone to change the sign as cheaply as possible.

There were a lot of police calls to the Big Bunny Motel, and all the motels in its vicinity. I brought my child there to raise her when she was very small. I wanted her life to be remarkable in its capacity for redemption. In both Islam and Christianity, one must be reborn, a messy affair at best.

Smoke from the California wildfires is choking me, making my eyes run with copious tears. My daughter says: It is only pollution that brings out emotion in you.

I say, You’re right—that’s the way I was raised. And I have no interest in opening my heart—that would be too big a chore. First, I’d have to go to Home Depot and slice myself open with a Black & Decker circular saw.  It’s too late for me to open my heart—it’s not like quitting smoking, or something else that’s easy and fun.

 

 

 

 

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over thirteen-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for numerous prizes, and was awarded the 2017 Booranga Writers Centre Prize (Australia) for Fiction. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver.

 

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