Change – for National Poetry Day: David Van-Cauter, D. R. James, Clarissa Aykroyd





Mirror Lake

Ten years ago, Yosemite, in Spring,
we took the “easy” route to Mirror Lake,
you still fit enough to clamber over rocky paths for miles
until our lack of water finally defeated us
at the tiny bridge.

We ambled back another way, along a river
piled high with boulders as big as trucks.

It’s Autumn now, and I retrace
as midges swarm around my face.
At every turn, I think I see you up ahead:
the path is winding differently.
Any moment now…

I find the bridge – it leads nowhere, poised like a painting,
and the sign for Mirror Lake points only to a dry plateau,
its water seasonal.

I stand within its circle,
breathe the panorama, such dry air.
You’ve gone, and now I can’t recall
if we ever came here at all.

The ground reflects our footprints:
I try to follow, but I’m blocked by rocks –
dead-end memories I’ve closed.
Were we here, or were we only passing through?

Mirror Lake consumes us in its folds,
as if I’m the one who died and you’re alive,
walking backwards to seek out this place
ten years from now, remembering how
life suddenly dried up, absorbing us.



David Van-Cauter is a personal tutor and editor from Hitchin, Herts.In 2017 he was runner-up in the Bradford on Avon festival competition and highly commended in the Bare Fiction competition. He was shortlisted for a previous IS&T Cafe Writers Commission.



Airport Relativity

First person and present tense
must strike you as odd—
how I could both greet and

record your emergence from
this crowd of funneled souls,
recount details that never occurred,

at least not regarding your
arriving at 4:10, then 5:25,
and here I am, still, at 8:30, but

none of that matters, had or has
to happen, since I write whether
true or not as I wait, first see then

don’t see your distinctive stride,
your hazel gaze in seventeen other
rushing women before your

breakthrough just now and all those
other times with your amazed smile
and into my open lines.


D. R. James has taught college writing, literature, and peace-making for 33 years and lives outside Saugatuck, Michigan. Poems and prose appear in various journals and anthologies, and his most recent of seven poetry collections is If god were gentle.



Note: first published in IthacaLit (Fall 2018)






for Joseph Brandis

Brandis, shoemaker, on Queen Victoria Street,
brushing bomb-site bushes with his fingertips.
Purple buddleia. Burning bush.
Years ago, the Sunday when flames flowered
and the City burned all night. Darkness and fire
and St Paul’s pulsing with every strike.

Brandis strokes the Roman stones
at Huggin Hill. He eyes the wounded ground,
the cellars, the city’s broken guts.
And at the touch of his gentle hands,
Brandis feels something, something stirring.

Brandis brings the Walthamstow soil,
gathers rich, bloody, complex mud
from the Thames. His river-garden grows.
He sees roses and climbing vines
binding up the wounds. Flowers that burn nothing.
Only flames of colour, in the light.



Clarissa Aykroyd grew up in Victoria, Canada and now lives in London, England. Her work has appeared in publications including The Island ReviewLighthouse, The Missing Slate and Strange Horizons, among others. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and is the author of a blog about poetry and poets, The Stone and the Star Twitter: @stoneandthestar


With thanks to the London Parks & Gardens Trust, Cleary Garden and The Poetry School

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