Marc Janssen

 

 

 

Postcard from the Spring

The place I write from
Is small and quiet
Minor key.

It is a world of infinite beauty
Copious possibility
Mute exuberance.

It is not me, but part of me,
The words appear unhappy
Crying for joy.

I want to illustrate a world
Dominated by time
Underscored by love.

I don’t write the way I used to
I don’t see you in the same way
The stars have changed.

I write as someone living in the general
Lost in the specifics
Making up the details.

I write of you all the time
But it’s really me
Really you.

 

 

Marc Janssen coordinates the Salem Poetry Project and Salem Poetry Festival. He is a 2020 Oregon Poet Laureate nominee and his poetry is scattered around the world in places like Penumbra, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast and The Ottawa Arts Journal.

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Dan Dorman

 

 

Dan Dorman teaches creative writing at the Cleveland Institute of Art and circulates library books. His writing can be found at jubilat, Word for/Word and Jet Fuel Review. Connect with him @dormanpoet and dormanpoetry.com.

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Edmund Prestwich

 

 

 

Winter Weathers

Rain, persistent rain, and the last leaves falling.
Voices twittered feebly. What anxious shadows
blue tits seemed then, fluttering through the bare trees’
foodbanks of branches.

How I wished a luminous green bee-eater,
lilac-breasted roller or scarlet macaw could
burst upon us, glittering tropic feathers
calling the sun out.

Wrong, so wrong: dim light, and the silhouetted
birds among black twigs with their agile turnings,
pecking stabs and faint as if distant fluting,
had their own beauty.

Now the clouds have gone. As a blue transparence
bathes the green-streaked bark, and a blue tit’s beret
flashes living sapphire, our street’s wet houses
glow and are holy.

 

 

Edmund Prestwich lives in Manchester. He has published two collections, Through the Window and Their Mountain Mother. You can link to his website and blog at http://edmundprestwich.co.uk/ and for his Amazon page click here.

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Isabelle Thompson

 

 

 

The Romance Languages

My mother is learning French in stumbling
little phrases. Bonjour, Julien. Bonsoir.

Who is Julien? Merci, Julien.
Salut, Julien.
Bonne nuit. I imagine

a man dressed all in blue, drinking a glass
of Badoit. ~Bonjour~, Julien, she says.

My father, in the living room, watches
WW2 films in the darkness, oblivious

to Julien the Frenchman watching his wife
over the rim of high-end sparkling water.

Au revoir, Julien, says my mother.
Les femmes sont toutes les mêmes! cries Julien,

and melts into his glass, where the bubbles
bop and bump against each other, trying

to express everything they feel, like germs
of life connecting and expanding.

My mother goes and makes two cups of tea,
carries them to my father in the lounge

and switches on the lamp. They sit together,
not speaking, fluent in each other’s thoughts.

 

 

Isabelle Thompson is a recent graduate of Bath Spa University’s MA in Creative Writing. She has had poetry published previously in Ink, Sweat & Tears and The Lake. Her reviews appear in Sphinx.

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Ken Evans

 

 

 

The Passenger

Via        hand to hand
and hand to mouth,
they pass a line
invisible.

Via        blast of air, puff of smoke,
handshake, warm embrace,
the tourist shares a secret,
without telling us.

Via        soft-soled tread in airport
lounge, ferry port, border post,
rail, motorway or bus,
the passenger touches our heart.

ring-a-ring-a roses,
pockets full of white masks
atishoo, atishoo,
we all hide our faces
to all fall-down.

Via        child, mother, sister, brother,
incubus, friend or father,
the traveller rings our chests
with the tightest kiss.

Via         all we know and trust
in laughter, song or hiccough,
the guest learns our etiquette,
always homeless, moving on.

Via         FEDEX, registered post, touchpad,
keyboard, phone, licked envelope,
the wanderer talks in tongues
we can’t know till late, so late.

ring-a-ring-a roses,
pockets full of white masks
atishoo, atishoo,
we all hide our faces
to all fall-down.

 

 

Ken Evans published his first collection, called True Forensics , last October, and a pamphlet called The Opposite of Defeat in 2016. He has won the Kent & Sussex Competition 2018, Battered Moons and the Leeds Peace Prize.

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Isabelle Kenyon

 

 

 

Yeah that place is a dump

Tastes like poverty:
wide roads,
no one with fuel to ride them.
Casinos and bingo-
coins like wishbones,
dream of swimming in them.

Even here,
shiny leaflets and theatre lights,
the floor cries dust balls,
DIY people for whom ripped clothes are not a choice, for whom
grim North is an inhalation.

The shame of it,
takeaways and silence.
A slogan-slapped bus heralded by the wilted
cardboard common people.

I’m getting out of here you know
words like a disco ball, glitter tongue dreaming.

 

 

Isabelle Kenyon is the northern author of 5 poetry chapbooks –recently Indigo Dreams Growing Pains. She is the editor of Fly on the Wall Press. Her short story The Town Talks has just been published with Wild Pressed Books.

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Congratulations to Beth Booth whose poem ‘To the Occupier’ is the Pick of the Month for April 2020

There are a myriad of reasons as to why voters chose ‘To the Occupier’ by Beth Booth as the IS&T Pick of the Month for April 2020 which is a tribute to the many layers in this fine poem. Some found it haunting, melancholy, rich with emotion, some identified with the otherness about it or felt it ‘[evoked] a feeling very pertinent to the current situation’ and a few found it spoke to their own experiences of renting and moving, the impermanence of it all. Where voters agreed was on how beautiful the poem is!

Beth lives in Liverpool via Cumbria and is an MFA student at the Manchester Writing School. She won the Miriam Allott poetry prize in 2016, and has poems published or forthcoming in The Moth, Lighthouse, and Orbis.

 

To the Occupier

I have been leaving ghosts in every house
for six years, which makes six houses –
seven if you count my temporary tenancy
in your affection. Nine houses if you count
the ones I lived in where I had no right to do so.
Arguably eleven houses. Arguably twelve
(they have taken a toll on my ability to count.)
It’s the arguing that’s the problem, though,
isn’t it – if houses are arguable then
how are they homes, how are they anything
other than a cunning place to haunt?
Shrugging off my ghosts like a lizard
done with its skin and its skilful wholeness.
I am ghostliest of all, the spook that
bites the hand that feeds, the ghoul
that has taken up residency somewhere
between the years, waiting for you to move
out, waiting for you to move on, waiting
for the next move to be a checkmate.
I am always checking, lately. Checking
out of this hotel of tendons. Leaving
ghosts on the patio to tenderly haunt you
when I am too far gone to do it myself.

 

 

Other voters’ comments included:-

This poem makes me want to read it aloud. The way the words connect with each other through shared vowel sounds. The sussuration of some and the round openness of others. The entire poem feels like a room I want to sit in and examine the details of every corner. Which fits it very well, I suppose. Delicate and fleeting at times, but full-bodied at others – just like the speaker’s experiences.

Beth Booth’s poem is powerful, vulnerable, and surprising in its language. It has something to say and does so in a voice that is exciting and new. Would be a deserved winner in a great list! 

I feel like I personally understand and relate, and it is beautifully written. 

I love how the author manages to capture both numbing isolation and intense emotions in one poem, incredibly moving 

Beautiful and haunting 

Moody! 

The phrasing really grabs your attention. 

It employs a very striking extended metaphor and clever transformation of images in the last two lines (“move out/move on/move to be a checkmate/checking/check out”) which stuck in my mind in a way I didn’t experience with the other poems. I can very much empathise as someone who has also spent six years in six different houses and felt the same ghostlike feeling when moving in or out. 

I think this poem is beautiful. It speaks to me of feeling unsettled, both in the body and in the world. It gives me shivers when I read it. 

So vivid and really resonates 

On so many levels, this poem speaks of haunting. Of the separation of the person into fractals of themselves, their relationships, their timelines, their viewpoints. It is therefore universal and yet intimate, a glimpse into the otherness of self. I love this poem, even though (especially because) it haunts me. 

It’s the strangest 

This beautiful poem stayed in my mind long after I read it. The poet captured the feelings wonderfully well. 

I love the use of vocabulary and mood 

Speaks to my experience of leaving parts of myself in the spaces where I was traumatised or healed 

It flows so beautifully and gives me chills 

wonderfully captures the pathos of the tragic situation 

For me it was this one or The Farmer’s Prayer – both touched me on an emotional rather than intellectual level, the way a poem can, sometimes. For me, To the Occupier was more personally relatable, though. 

I really liked the melancholy reflections it inspired on life’s passage, its events and memories, and what we leave behind…

As a renter, I like the way it subtly criticises how people are forced to move from place to place. 

This transitory existence moving from house to house when you rent is a common experience for many young people, and this captures something of this perfectly.

 

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