The Writers’ Cafe Magazine – ISSUE 6 “The Art of Divination”

Divination

Numerology – Message to the Generals
by E.E. Nobbs

poem 2-FINAL cropped

NOTE: found text from the anthology 15 Canadian Poets x 2 by Gary Geddes (Editor) 1988

…………………………………………………..*****

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor
by Angi Holden

She lines the stones around the rim of her pudding bowl,
fingers crossed that today the last cherry delivers a rich man,
not a poor man, a beggarman, or even worse the dreaded thief.

Fortune favours her; her mother’s fruitful serving promises
a tailor. She will not go short of fine clothes but still she checks:
silk, satin, muslin, rags. She sighs; she will be dressed in satin.

She knows before she counts. If she is to wear satin, she will travel
in style: coach, carriage, wheelbarrow, handcart. She reels off the words
smiling as the carriage bowls towards her along the cherry-stoned drive.

Happily this pattern of fours – this year, next year, sometime, never –
confirms her wedding day will be next year. Enough time for any
self-respecting six year old to prepare her trousseau, pack her jewels.

Her mother sends her daughter out to play, watches through the window
as the small child becomes absorbed in her game, teddies lined up
on the rug. ‘My turn,’ she tells her brother. ‘Girls can be doctors too.’

…………………………………………………..*****

Hocus Pocus
by Diane Cockburn

Afterwards, they will report she burned white hot
and Mary will show as evidence the scorched arm
where she was grasped.
For now there is nowhere to hide from the cold messages.
Mildew pepperspots are falling on our faces, we’re hearing words
we do not want to hear, we’re decoding,
allowing the dead to bubble under our skins;
we’re making sense of coincidence,
with vague memories of lilac gloves and a fondness for Earl Grey
or was it Orange Pekoe, oh and the pale smell of almonds;
Mary croaking ‘yes. That’s Granny Nugent’!
before slumping foam-flecked onto the chenille.
We’re dipping our toes into terror-treacle
and we love it. Consumed by curiosity like cats,
purring fat beside an open grave, with the promise
of something delicious, we take turns to terrify
scratching under the dining table,
Edith hissing into someone’s ear in a voice that’s not her own.
I’m noticing that patch of damp which may be significant in the telling,
our fortunes laid out in lexicon.
Unfortunately for Mary,
the thing that got inside her will not leave her.
Next morning while we’re giggling over toast and tealeaves,
Mary cannot tell us.
She’s wearing lilac gloves,
sipping Orange Pekoe.

…………………………………………………..*****

Nephomancy
by Jenny Hope

Clouds are stacked like letters
not yet opened.

They’ve delivered the day;
pitched tempers to sliver-soothed coatings.

I release them one by one; walk black dogs
with rain-hackled backs,

search out your bent nose, determined jaw,
comb-overs with chieftain’s silvered birds.

………………………………………………….*****

The Water Dowser
by Cheryl Pearson

Running through generations like a river, alongside
the gene for red hair, and the family name: this gift
of summoning the earth’s weather. A humming

in the wrists, is how he describes it. I picture his hands,
like knuckles of ginger, thrumming with bees: tiny harbingers
browsing his tributaries, raising the alarm

in the hand/arm hinge. In the old days, they called it
witching the water; walked their switch of hazel, switch of willow,
waiting for the dip and twitch that meant they’d struck gold,

and clear-running cold would follow. Years ago, a palmist
on a seaside pier winnowed a future from the forks of my hands.
I believed in magic. Now, I stand in a dry field watching

a man draw water like doves from his sleeves.
He tells me, Some people don’t trust this, spits, then grins.
I think of moons. Salt lines in the sand. My blood

…………………………………………………………………………going out,
coming in.
………………………………………………….*****

Gas
by Gareth Writer-Davies

In a letter dated July 9th, 1958
Sylvia
writes

“Ted and I are recovering from a sad and traumatic experience”

I think
here we go again
has there been another rejection or misunderstanding (I am on p.347)

rather there is a sentimental anecdote

a wounded baby bird found fallen from a tree and which they nursed
fed with ground steak, worms and milk

had proved (once recovered) unable to walk and they had put it in a box
then gassed it

“plucky little bit of bird” she writes “I can’t forget it”

which is both touching
and gruesome

Ted
doubtless felt differently about the matter

…………………………………………………..*****

Julia & Fatou
by Ricky Monahan Brown

How do you like it, up here?
………….Father used to love these days, when it looks like nothing’s changed for millennia and the valley could have been carved yesterday and you can see the storms coming for hours. He’d throw me in the car and take me up here pretty regularly after Mum died. I think something about the scale of it helped him. I’m glad you and I can finally see it together.

………….I never talked much about Father, did I? Ah, Father. In his chaotic study. Towers of paper tottering on the desk, piles of files covering every available square foot of floor except for a treacherous gangway leading from the door to his office chair. The walls plastered with graphs dotted with plot points that sine waves picked graceful paths through, and with Mandelbrot sets progressing through infinite iterations.

………….Once, when he forgot to lock the door, I sat in his chair and surveyed his realm, trying to see what he saw in his Kingdom of Empiricism. I turned over a sheaf of papers and recoiled as a mass of tiny, white maggots writhed into view. When I confronted him about the squalor, he wasn’t troubled that I’d trespassed – it was a teaching opportunity. Unexpectedly, he spoke to me with the considered tone he used with the serious young men and women who would come to dinner and discuss closed sets and repelling periodic points.

‘Fatou, have you heard people say, Tidy desk, tidy mind?’
………….I nodded. I was eight years old. Who would possibly have said this to me?
………….‘Never listen to those people. Idiots.’
………….Father explained that tidy-desked people do what’s expected of them. Messy-desked people benefit from the visual background noise. Something about having stuff to subtly process without becoming too distracted. Leaving more room for the weird thoughts to develop.
………….‘Creativity loves chaos, Fatou.’
………….Thereafter, he was more careful about keeping the door locked.
………….It was thirteen years later that he invited me into the study and offered me a seat. There were no piles of papers on the visitors’ chairs.
………….‘Coffee?’
………….A brushed stainless steel coffee maker sat on a side table.
………….‘Yeah. Flat white? You got oat milk?’
………….It was in a neat row on a shelf in the mini-fridge with the semi-skimmed milk and the soy milk and the almond milk and the oat milk. Serious young men and women still came by to discuss their work. But what had happened to Creativity Loves Chaos?
………….‘Ah, you see. I needed the chaos to make the creative leap. Have you ever thought, son, What if you could stop every atom in its position and direction, and comprehend all the actions thus suspended? That there must be a formula for the future?’
………….‘Of course. You took me to see Arcadia when I was twelve.’
………….‘Did I? Good for me! Have you, though? Thought?’
………….‘Yes. But, Free Will.’
………….Father snorted.
………….‘Don’t be ridiculous.’
………….He fussed with milks and frothing jugs and spouts.
………….‘I like to go a few degrees cooler on the steaming. Better texture…. There, how’s that?
………….He seemed to enjoy my appreciative noises. It really was very good.
………….‘So, obviously there’s a formula for the future. But I needed to make the leap. Then I saw it.
………….’Father dipped a coffee biscuit in his doppio, savouring the dramatic pause.
………….‘Small differences in initial conditions – say, due to rounding errors – yield wildly diverging outcomes. What one needs, is a perfect set of initial data. When your mother drove off that day, we’d had cross words. Well, not even that. We weren’t talking. Something stupid.
………….‘But how was I to know? I didn’t have good data. Once I’d figured out the problem, I just needed access to a perfect set of data. And exponentially more processing power. So while I waited for a computer equal to my needs to come along, I worked on changing my mindset. To be able to handle the data with the care and attention it needed. If you knew when the love of your life was likely to crash a red light and be side-swiped by a bus, you’d bestow that good-bye kiss, wouldn’t you?’
………….I winced at the recollection of my mother’s death, but Father barrelled on regardless and directed me to one of the graphs on the wall
………….‘That’s me. You see, the plotting is very rough. With my students, their every activity since birth has been recorded. But that’s not the case for me. If you can remember your twenties, am I right? That bunch of dots there represents the vital moment, but the purple haze of possibilities surrounding it represents a three-year probability. I’d suggest you start being particularly nice to me around next week, for as long as it takes.’
………….He looked across at the opposite wall.
………….‘That’s you. See the difference?’
………….I looked at the graph on the other wall, and saw myself the way Father saw me.
………….‘Pretty, isn’t it?’
………….‘You’re a dick,’ I laughed.
…………..I mean, I could start being nice next week. Right?

‘So that’s where you got that coffee machine?’ you ask me.
………….Yes, and all the graphs and the data.
………….I hope you’ve had a nice day. It is beautiful up here, isn’t it?
………….I hope you’ve had a nice time, altogether. They do say that a person needs different partners for different stages of life. And it’s good that there hasn’t been a long, slow deterioration for you to have to cope with.
………….Ha! I sound like Father now.
………….Hold me, will you? Tell me again what your plans are. I’m feeling very tired. Of course. Today’s the day.
………….You know, I’ve always been scared of death, but now, it’s really interesting. I mean, I don’t want to make too much of a big deal about it. It’s been such a lovely day. It’s so peaceful, with the clouds suspended in the distance.
………….I could stay here.
………….Forever

………………………………………………….*****

First time
By Jean Atkin

In either hand a copper pipe. Warm.
From each a swinging wire. I walk
on green and silver grasses, all
stroked flat by wind
…………………………………………………………..she told me Think
…………………………………………………………..of water

Below me, peat-dark ground.
I think through soil in strata,
granite stains
…………………………………………………………..she told me Walk
…………………………………………………………..slowly

I make everything slow. The colours
falter. A lark’s voice thins to air.
Somewhere is gradual water.

Then a breath like a tide when it turns.
Wires ripple back to cross……. and
cross……. and cross……. and now

by drubbing heartbeats earth
……………………………………………………………..transmits new water
……………………………………………………………..to my hand

…………………………………………………*****

Divination
by Maggie Mackay

The weight of her ghost rests in this key
and I’ve given her name to our third lass, Jessie.
A fistful of iron, it’s our good luck charm,
this wee house, its rose beds, weathering glass.

Let it unlock smiles, bar tears,
welcome song, yoke strangers.
Let it grow love with the breaking of bread,
and I pray it wards off a child’s passing,
keeps whooping cough from the schuil gate,
repels thieves from the cot when night imps mass.

Previously published in the Three Drops from a Cauldron Samhain 2017 special

…………………………………………………..*****

The Letter 
by Charley Reay

Mrs Poole had agreed to be the fortune teller at the school fayre. She had the customary scarf rimmed with jangly gold-coloured coins draped over her head. On the table before her she had placed a paperweight to serve as a crystal ball and had fanned out the tarot deck artfully before it.

The letter was still sealed, she held it on her lap beneath the fringed purple scarf-come-tablecloth and rubbed the paper of the envelope as if for luck. The familiar postmark, the air mail stamps gave her a shiver of anticipation. Her index finger had strayed to the corner of the flap, ready to tear it open like ripping off a plaster when the tent had flapped open, and Mrs Poole held out her hand to have it crossed with silver taking her first 50p of the day.

The readings were all fine until the last, Mrs Poole using her stooge-gathered knowledge of the children to ‘interpret’ the cards they overturned. Still, the day passed slowly, the letter burning a hole in her lap. Still it passed, and at last Mrs Poole looked at her watch and smiled – five minutes to three, one more ‘client’ and she was free to strip the envelope from the letter, and savour the words inside.

The tent flaps parted and Victoria Dodds flounced in. Fifteen years old, mouthy in class, flipped over her cards with a studied lack of care.

The lovers, inverted. The five of cups. Worst of all, the Tower.

Cold sweat pricked on Mrs Poole’s back as she realised the truth, she’d been worrying at the envelope with her right hand as she’d drawn Vicky’s cards with her left. This reading was her own.

Mrs Pool rushed through a mangled explanation of the cards for Vicky’s benefit: A honeymoon with Mr Right in New York, a flood of five bouncing children somewhere in her distant future. Fighting back tears as she practically pushed the girl out of the tent.

Hands shaking, she worked the letter free from the envelope. Instead of the love letter she’d longed for she found, in the strained formality of a third-language partly learned, the news that there would be no more letters coming, and the time and place of the funeral.

…………………………………………………..*****

On The Cards
by Paul Waring

He could see an aura in red and green.
You’re psychic, he said as we entered
the room; flowerless, stone-still.

On a polish-scented aged oak table
he unloaded cargo from a full deck,
tarot-reading hands and eyes fixed

on a mystic storyboard, each symbol
a lens to focus past-present-and-future.
I wanted to believe it was nothing –

the trance-like call and response,
a staged drama of faux images
and voices, but eye-widening

revelations and life detail he
surely wouldn’t know (things
I could share with you but won’t),

convinced me he could see ahead –
and around corners. Don’t ask how
my disbelief came to bend that far.

He was called Derek. I think he was
more than a medium. He became a TV
celebrity; probably always knew.
…………………………………………………..*****

Even though I looked, even though I listened
by Kirsten Luckins

All I could hear was my emptiness
Waiting for me at the head of the stairs.

My shadow thinks he is the bigger man
But I drag him around, a moving nothing,

I push him in front like a plough
Harrowing unpeopled spaces

Where the green cells of thankless plants
Divide in private without permission

Spiralling out of the empty place
From which and to which we are returned

Void – body – void

Where does the heart of the flower lead?
What do we coil the rope around?

Palm hook and elbow crook,
Then take the arm away.

There is the nothing
Your limb has made.

…………………………………………………*****

Psychic Distance
by Irene Cunningham

I’m swimming with the cards, repeating readings from different decks, floating them onto every surface in the house. My chest heaves with the effort, I can hardly breathe. I go outside, lie in the garden, let the sky fall on me. Swords everywhere. I take it I’m the confused woman wearing a crown. I think the clouds want to drown me…or, am I dead already?

Was I sailing inside a coffin? I’m left with the image of being chased by crows. This lucid dreaming lark is going to need better planning. So, waiting for my whole body to wake up, I watch Dez across the road point his hedge-trimmer up at the sky. He fumbles for the off-switch, lays his murderous machine on the bench.

In my fridge, I find a tarot card on the Red Leicester cheese – a host of red devils, flames licking their heels. My phone jangles. It’s bloody Brianna.

………….‘You busy? I’m in trouble.’
‘Really? Anything to do with a fire? And, a devily man?’
………….‘You are phenomenal, Ruby. I kind of accidentally set his cabin in the woods on fire.’
………….‘I told you to get away from him, not try to kill him.’
………….‘I was spooked…things just happened, and now I’m on a train staring at myself in the black of the window in tunnels, wondering where the hell to go.’

I watch the flames leap from my card
‘There will be huge consequences,’ I tell her.I think it’s time to cut her off. I’d hoped to dissuade her from depending on instant knowledge.

………….‘I’m worried about a black dog,’ I say.
………….‘I had enough for a ticket to you, so, wondered, if you fancy a visitor for a few days…’
………….‘You and your fire will stink up the place.’

I gather myself into visitor-mode. Next door’s mountain lion of a cat stands sentinel in the middle of the road, staring at my door – he wants to be a leopard but there isn’t a single spot on his coat. I walk around the house, clear it of loose cards before she arrives, open cupboards, lift books, sift rubbish into a fresh bag. The 7 of Swords, the King and a strange Pope were scattered on top of the wheelie bin outside. As I close the back door someone rattles the letterbox at the front.

………….‘I’m coming ya bugger,’ I yell. ‘That was quick.’

Dez fills the doorway. I’ve never felt anything for him; he was empty, which was why I ignored his existence. It all came to light when I did a reading for his wife, Lizzie. She was almost invisible but he came across as a fungus, like cancer. It was no surprise when she died last month completely riddled with it.

………….‘What can I do for you, Dez?’

His mouth opens and closes, a few times – no sound. Then he turns and points at his house, backs down the step and walks, motioning for me to follow.

………….‘I’m expecting a visitor,’ I say.

I cast a glance down the street for Brianna; no sign of her yet. My phone is in my pocket, and I’ve left the door open.

Dez plods in front of me out of my gate, his long strides graceless and soft, speed us across the street. Suddenly I’m stepping inside his house into cool dark. I’d noticed he’d closed all the curtains since Lizzie’s death. Two lamps glow in corners of the living room but I can hardly see anything until I meet the black dog standing on the coffee table. It stares at me – doesn’t blink or move a hair.

…………‘See that.’ Dez whispers.

I slip sideways, grab the back of a chair.

………….‘He’s an unexpected visitor. I expect you know all about that.’
………….‘Oh. She didn’t tell you.’
…………..‘That she was reviving him? No. I’ve had a strange woman shoving THAT into my arms, making me sign for it.’
………….‘She didn’t know she wouldn’t be here.’
………….‘It’s on the bloody receipt, invoice, the date. She took that irritating bloody yap to get stuffed, came home and…I didn’t know she was listening to your bloody yammerings telling her to kill her bloody self.’
………….‘I had nothing to do with your wife’s problems. She wasn’t suicidal last time I saw her – what did you do?’

He can’t catch his breath. When I see the real height of him like this I feel her shoulder to shoulder with me. His shadow fills the ceiling. He’d brought the chainsaw inside, still plugged into the hall socket.

I wonder if I should just leave in a slow walk but I’d have to push past him to reach the door.

………….‘You crouch over there; I’ve seen the poor saps slipping up the street looking for you…desperate to throw their money away, thinking you have all the answers. YOU KNOW FUCK ALL.’

He’s standing in front of me, legs wide apart, holding the saw like a machine gun in a movie.

………….‘Where’s your magic now, witch? See this?’ He waves the saw, ‘This is the real fucking world, and she’s not here…she took herself out of it.’

He pulls the trigger and the blades buzz. I move behind the dog, putting him between us. Dez takes his eyes off me, lowers the saw, and then Brianna appears behind him, pushes his shoulder so that he spins to face her, the cord wraps around him. She kicks him in the knee and down he goes. The saw rests on the wire, is seems such a slow and inevitable motion that we all freeze until Dez’s body leaps and vibrates as the current pelts through him. Everything stops.

………….‘Come on, move,’ Brianna pulls me towards her. ‘Lucky I saw your hair disappearing in here.’

I step over Dez’s spread legs and can still feel the zing of electricity in the air. When I walk into my own place my head reconfigures itself. I’m me again…and, I think I’ll keep Brianna.
…………………………………………………..*****

The Empress
by Irene Cunningham

Heavy with the necessity of sex
and motherhood, she fills all eyes, delights
the earth, satisfies every wish…even
old goats can realise her presence, feel

bound by carnal respectability.
She trails remnants of silk, chiffon; flounces
soft as petals, scalloped, layered, casting
the possibility of love, cornered.

Her words vibrate. She’s gloved in skin so soft
your heart will tremble. ‘Lie with me, dazzle
my expectations with your upright…ease
yourself to fit – I’m tailored for your needs

for I’m the wearer of man. He must climb
my mountains surf oceans, reap the harvest.’

…………………………………………………..*****

Magic Mirror
by Ali Jones

I saw shadow truths pushed back into the soil,
to treasure the darkness and wait discovery.
I sing a hag chorus of promises, unredeemed;
being nice is not the same as being knowing.

Still, we are sent into the forest to dangle
from the trees, darkness can be a friend
if you let it help you find your way when the fire
goes out. Seek the cauldron rowing over the sky,
like footsteps appearing on the carpet,
beside the bed when you are sleeping;
or a bathtub that grows eyes in her taps
and demands a better view. Wash your clothes

in the river, sweep the wild wind in the yard,
fill up the cooking pot, and share food
with a million year old woman, who walks
out of the nightlands to ask you questions
before you sleep. What are you, really?
Where are you going? Where have you been?

I am the watcher of things coming through,
what lies beneath, behind, what changes.

…………………………………………………..*****

She Shapes Ashes
by Ali Jones

The trick is to create worlds from nothing.
Not a magpie’s chatter, or flying leaves,

the clouds racing on the lake’s surface tension,
or the unexpected notes of honeysuckle,

twined and holding. Smoke coils around
the sticks of her gathering fingers, scripted

in scribbles, too fine to read; a life of memories,
spooled between limits and edges, miles deep

in the shadows of pine forests, or in waterlands
where reed and alder pull close like conspirators

confined in the mist. Everything held is imagined,
and real, the otherworld is only ever a breath away,

standing where shades fall, or water drips from leaves,
in the gaps between each raindrop and the next.

It hides where mice make a home from nothing, and red shoes
stand in the hallway, yet nobody knows who owns them.

Take a walk in the rising gleam, wisp from the lake
to the old rose garden, wearing a shawl

of living threads. Memories are woven in the unfamiliar,
in moths’ glancing wings, in the shivers and movement

of birds. She pulls the ashes together, not illusion,
or play of the light, but myths of origin, remembered.

…………………………………………………..*****

Pilimancy*
by Jennie E. Owen

The squeak of every golden thread
between finger and thumbnail, silk,
satin from the spinning wheel floats.

Sharp jag of pleasure, as one by one.
rough stemmed flowers, white rooted
bloom with black at the tip.  Then

air dance invisible currents to the
floor, to pool slickly in a fruit scented
pelt that breathes with the drafts.

Soft bristle remains, a growing void
upon the crown, around the temples.
Translucent halo glowing gently in a

slant light.  Beauty is transient, this
vanity returns in twisted tufts, wisps of
of white feathers.  Unravelled glory ghosts.

*Using human hair to tell the future

…………………………………………………..*****

Scarpomancy*
by Jennie E. Owen

No light to apple-shine my patent kidney skin,
hidden beneath its wintering of fur and green
my tiny silver buckle, sings no longer.

I twist tongue to eye, with ballet pumps,
beiging roses, slowly devouring one another
in a dark ecstasy of dried sweat and resin.

The other, my twin, curved the wrong way.
He fell scuffed to the back, rolling blindly
in cobwebs.  I miss his rub and squeak.

I know the grass and the earth and concrete,
a cold drizzle spit-running along my stitch,
that soft shuffle, hard rapping, echoing voice.

Today, I dream of her toothsome flesh,
my mouth a red rim, on the stretch of a heel,
her arch slapping gently against my sole.

*Divination using old shoes

………………………………………………….*****

Selenomancy*
by Jennie E. Owen

Jealous of the moon, her
silvery lies and airs.  I
decided to spite the stars, and
make my own cold rock.

Scissors snickered paper.  I
glued on cheese and
crayoned the craters in blue, then
I stapled it to a post.  Still it

could not challenge her cruel glory.
For even when eclipsed, her man
would not visit in the pregnant
glow of my suspended
disbelief.

*Divination using the moon

………………………………………………….*****

Song
by Mark Blayney

a soldier looks at me
hand on breastplate
from a previous century

would you be me
he asks, his quizzical look
wondering who I am

whether I am happy in my armour
my chiselled skin
my plated days

across the hall, his fellow soldier
places the other hand
on an identical breast

…………………………………………………..*****

Plum Tree Rain
by Mike Ferguson

The plum tree is raining again – a light mist falling
from the leaves – so it is difficult to mark these
exam scripts. I have set up and moved to this table
to catch the early evening sun otherwise blocked by
tall conifers when I sit on the usual patio. Aphids
drip too, and there are wet spots where I swipe them
away as well as those finest drops that now mark the
dark wood though not on papers with their answers.
No doubt the writers in their intense over-training
will tell me it is a foreshadowing, a pathetic fallacy
about dampening down or a haze veiling meaning.
This is nonsense, but I can’t explain how it is drizzling
without a cloud in the sky, not like specious coaches
or birds above pissing in laughter at their approaches.

…………………………………………………..*****

Danaë
by Peter Clive

They say the sun is a hole in the sky,
and we are spared the furnace it reveals
only by the whim and contrivance of the gods
who have enclosed us in this dark space.
They have punctured the firmament with stars,
pierced the membrane they wrapped around us,
to remind us of their world beyond the upper air.

We pitch our tent and find its canvass torn:
its tatters dance in desert storms,
and light reveals the defects in its weave
which the stars unpick with their fingers
insistently probing the gauzy fabric of night
until eventually everything unravels and is lost
in the blast of blistering sand.

The moon is gentler. For her we rest
captive in cool shadows at the bottom of a well.
She slides the lid off from time to time
to routinely observe her captives with sad pleasure
through the shifting aperture and interval of her movements,
sliding the lid back over again, perhaps pausing briefly,
peering one last time through a thin crescent of light,
before eclipsing us in darkness.

Man wanders,
and raises his tent in the ruins of a temple.
He cannot tell the shelter and the sky apart in the storm.
He starves and begs surrounded by wealth he cannot understand
destitute among riches he can never receive.
He arms his camp against the night with stories
and trembles and treats the world like firewood
to burn and brandish in fear and anger at the dark.

Working from first principles
I arrive at the inevitable conclusion
that working from first principles is futile,
the last implicit in the first.
There is no freedom in this equation.
Emptiness is all there is.
So I empty myself,
pour out every urge and inclination on the rocks,
like the wine dark sea,
and withdraw forever to perfect vacancy,
consenting to imprisonment by Acrisius
in his impenetrable bronze citadel.

It’s featureless walls are welded to the cliff-top,
and stretch into the clouds, standing sentry
on a vertiginous isle surrounded on all sides by sea
plunging into an unfathomable abyss.
The isle emerges from the deepest trench
the earth’s upheavals can wrench open.
Its roots extend to the earth’s core.
He has built his tower on a volcano,
an obscene chimney that delivers
the earth’s innards up its throat
directly into the heavens through its blasphemous pore
that mimics and mocks the work of the gods,
scorning the strata and debris of a geography of litter
in which Man gropes and despairs,
the soil a shambles, the air thickening with fumes
over a seething sea, the world a ruin,
turmoil from which I am now sequestered,
the memory of life locked up in a chamber
on top of a narrow and precipitous pillar.

But why not let a tyrant’s paranoia
be the demiurge of my thoughts and dreams
and roll up my experiences within the sleeve
of this single slim cylinder of bronze?
We all limit and conceal ourselves
to allow ourselves to seem
the person others imagine we are,
and all substance itself is a veil
with which the gods themselves hide their absence,
only occasionally violating it to cherry-pick
our miniscule miseries for their amusement.
It is only in the deliberate subtlety of fiction,
the massage and manipulation of falsehood,
that their deception is foiled
and the truth can be revealed
by the right combination
of the available lies: it is a trick
the shuffling of lies in stories can reveal
and we are the sleight by which
the god’s hand is concealed.

That’s my story.
Rape, infanticide, cannibalism … all the good stuff.
But it must be told by others:
everything you hear me say is an accident,
an unintentional interruption of my silence,
a spillage from a vessel I try to keep perfectly still
since every moment is as infinite
as the eternity it ends.
Let these moments be perfect
or let them not occur at all.
One cannot survive exposure to divinity.
One endures its scalding intensity
only as long as it takes to know the end of time has come.
If glimpsed in peripheral vision, perhaps,
it assumes a lasting shape, a chimerical terror,
as monstrous myths manoeuvre in and out
of the corner of the eye,

but those who surrender and submit
to the ultimate overthrow of the self
in motherhood,
abandoning their bodies to run the risk
of spouting bull-headed Asterion from their womb,
like Pasiphae, or like Leda,
to win the fate of hatching Helen,
can receive it, can bear witness to divinity,
and it is seen shimmering through half shut eyes
like liquid metal,
as though our tawdry threadbare sky
was transformed to gold, fracturing and flaking,
and descending like liquid autumn
as the god-trodden body is lost
to a god-disgorged seed
as anonymous as the future it makes
forced on it by a god
whose love would be considered promiscuous
were it not perfect.

This knowledge has a price:
this belly is not made of bronze,
and the world is now a desert of brine
on which I am cast adrift,
my progeny attached to my breast,
the son predicted in a prophecy
whose utterance was forbidden,
a promise of flesh in an age of metal.

We pass from one amniosis to the next,
from my inner ocean which birth has delimited
within the world’s horizons, to this other amniosis,
with a moment’s pain to mark the passing
and now he sleeps again,
curled up like a little nut within this bark
beneath the crystal caul of night,
a captive of the stars,
and I have become infinite to him,
and he has become the afterlife to me
and all that came before us.

From the first, ancient lipid membrane,
adhering to some small defect on the surface of a stone
on the slopes of an underwater volcano long ago,
drawn like a curtain to protect and conceal fugitive molecules
dancing in secret, microscopic innovation,
learning how to tirelessly replicate their steps,
winding each other up in their untimely embrace,
coiled around each other in helical intimacy
before being sent in plumes of life billowing out
into the eternal seas from a nursery of hot young rocks,

from that first eruption of living mud
to the confluence of blood in my baby’s veins,
seeping through the pages of history,
cascading from the massacre of ancestors,
the lessons of their failures tumbling through chemical chronicles
bleeding through the gaps between the words
while their remains lie mutilated by the grave’s slow worm-churn,
their blood inundating him, setting the sea
on which he starts his very own ripple with a fingertip
red with fire in my darkening mind
as all these pasts coincide and coalesce in him now,

he is the afterlife.
From that once celebrated antecedent,
whose exploits now unravel in obscurity,
to the most unremarkable organism
that is now no more than a drop of blood
in the ocean of time on which we drift,
he is the afterlife,

and he is mine,
for we are bound together in blood
and as I wade each day through red darkness
I will look back and observe my descendants on the shore
where they have already taken their place, as I take mine,
beyond the banks and shoals of time,
and together we watch the stars shine
at midday in the midst of this eternal mind,

and I will protect him against his father,
and I will wear snakes for hair if I must,
and I will cite my own autochthony
to over-rule all judgements against him,
and his children will only hear lies about me,
and I will become everything I hate to save him,
and I will give him my bones to beat me with,
and I know he is formed from shimmering metal
and not windfall seed, and I will gladly die
if my obscurity will give him life.

…………………………………………………..*****

Earthed
by Barry Fentiman-Hall

For when the lightening hits
I will dance with it
Barefoot on the hill
To the beat of my heart
Hammered and tuned
To the key of spring turned summer
Liminal in the hot dust
Of trees fucking for the planet
I shall fall too bruised to breathe
A soul apple on the bounce
Laughing at the ripples
Of the rain invisible
That conducts me on
To places undreamt of
Before I felt the river
Finding its rhythm beneath my feet

…………………………………………………..*****

Broken Sacramentals
By Janet McCann

A child outside the fold, I did not know
what those things were in his mother’s wooden box.
So he explained them: broken rosaries, a crucifix
with no Jesus, half a scapular, a few beads
that might have come from rosaries,
a couple of blessed medals with their links broken
so no one could wear them anymore.

It was forbidden, he said, to throw them out.
The kids would play with them. They served
as missing charms in Clue, Parcheesi markers,
poker chips, Monopoly hotels. After the game
they were always carefully replaced. Sometimes
alone with the box, I opened it just to look
at the glittery fragments, the tiny treasure.

I touched them warily, half expecting
a little miracle, or maybe part of one:
lost homework found, or hamburgers for dinner.
I thought I’d seen them move. At least twice,
something deep in the box winked at me,
and once in the yard when we were all out there
playing Parcheesi, a bird perched on my arm.

…………………………………………………..*****

Palm Reader
by Joseph S. Pete

A neon sign blinked about a palm reader
who could divine the future, foresee anything and everything.

The skeptic wandered down the wide avenue,
doubtful this was anything more than snake oil salesmanship.

But the distant future seemed hazy, unfocused,
and the occupant of this shabby, clapboard house

claimed to have some concrete answers.
It was a seductive, pursed-lip promise.

The would-be flaneur entered the foyer, the frunchroom.
It was deathly quiet, an abattoir of doilies, hanging decor,

and such, but in the sepulchral stillness a robed woman stirred.
Her words pierced the oh-so-domestic vestibule: “Can I help you?”

…………………………………………………..*****

Astrological Forecast
by Gene Groves

Horoscopes say Mercury is retrograde,
expect electrical faults,
wear and tear in technology.
Nothing will run like clockwork,
new lightbulbs will die.
It is written in the stars,
a worrying alignment.
Keep matches and candles and torches,
close as your pin number.
It will be a difficult day.

…………………………………………………..*****

Poetry As Divination
by Gene Groves

I dowse for words
invisible
……………….layers
…………………………of
……………………………meaning.
…………………….A pendulum
………………………….swings
……………in my mind,
………..swoops
…………….over syllables.
……………………..Crystal shimmers
……………………………over
………………………………..alliteration,
…………………………….assonance,
…………………….half-rhyme,
……………..interprets sendings
reads
………behind
…………………the
……………………..lines,
………………………………telling the tale.

………………………………………………….*****……………………………………………….

My Fortune
By David Rae

Granma’s room is always dark and cool no matter how hot it is outside.  Shaded by aspidistra, ferns, ivy, begonias, she sits in her armchair.  Jaundiced light slips through the tobacco-stained fabric of the sun blinds she keeps pulled low.  The room is silent as if she has not spoken for a hundred years.  My eyes adjust to the dark, and I see the heavy wooden furniture, stained with maybe a century of pipe smoke; grandpa’s long ago pipe smoke, a century of smoking, a century ago, settled on to century-old wood. Embroidered tablecloths, wicker-backed chairs, silverware sitting on the side table; all arranged so she will know if one thing is moved. Not a shell backed comb, not a silver thimble, nor pearl handled opera glass moves without her knowing, without her permission.  Nothing is touched without going back to where it is, to where it belongs. Everything is arranged in its proper place like votive offerings, offerings to a different god completely from one that looks down with flaming heart from the picture hanging on her wall behind her.

How can someone so old be so beautiful? How can someone so beautiful be so terrifying? She sits in her chair, and her long hair flows down over her black gown like a witch.  Do witches have beautiful long silver hair; this one does. This one has long silver hair she brushes a hundred times every night and every morning.

………….“How old are you?” her broken voice breaks the silence.

She knows, but I still answer; nine years, the oldest child; not the favourite, or at least not her favourite, far from it.  Her eyes, well, what does it matter, she can barely see, but yet sees everything.  I breathe in and together with scent of violets and tobacco, inhale anger, her anger. Old and cheated, her husband dead an age ago, long before I was born, she waits for him to come to her, waited for maybe a century. Her true love stolen by death.

………….“He will come, for me.” But he had not come. Her strength keeps her alive; living keeps them apart. Morbid; that was the word my child brain can not voice. Obsessed with death, her death, at night she prays to die, – her prayers not answered.

…………. “Is she about?” Angry, especially angry with Mother; a husband lost and a son stolen. Mother at least half to blame.
Mother is out; I have come to make sure that Granma is alright, to see if she needs anything, maybe tea?

………….“Yes, bring tea.” I scurry to obey.

When I return, she pours two cups of bitter, peaty liquid, no milk, no sugar.  The tea leaves swirl and settle, as the water flows from the teapot.

She hands me a pearl-handled teaspoon, lifting it from its place on the table by her side, between a silver pill box and a studded pin cushion.  I swish the tannin coloured water back and forth and then return the spoon.  It is wiped and cleaned and returned to its proper place.

………….“Drink,” she commands and hands me one of the two white, bone china cups.

The tea tastes of resin; I drink it as quickly as I can, and when I have finished, I place it in her outstretched witch-fingers. The tea leaves drift into fateful patterns.

She places a saucer over the top then turns it upside down. She moves the cup away, twisting it this way and that, muttering to herself.  She frowns.

………….“What can you see?” I ask, putting myself forever in her power. Her witch eyes stare at you. What does she see; does she see birds, or flowers, or hearts? Does she see a sword or a windmill? What do these things mean? What do they tell her; love, success, fortune. In my mind, I imagine the tea leaves settled into a flowing script, writing out the story of my life.

………….“Tell me.” Breathless.

………….“Just as I thought,” the witch says. “Nothing.”

That moment, the light shines through tea-coloured blinds, turns to amber; trapped forever. I am nothing. I will always be nothing. Her words stain like nicotine and do not wash off.

…………………………………………………..*****

Mirror Image
by Mantz Yorke

The parting’s on the wrong side
and the slight skew of the nose
bends the wrong way. I’m not keen
on the self I have to see:

I just hope that when we meet,
in person instead of electronically,
you will see George Clooney

behind the slightly squinty eyes,
thinning hair and pallid skin
the mirror shows me every time
I draw the razor across my face.

…………………………………………………..*****

The Letter
by Mantz Yorke

I’d not expected the letter
calling me back urgently
for further investigation
after the routine chest X-ray
the employer had required.
Shocked, I panic: why?

Had the chemmy-lab’s gauzes
floated asbestos
into the lining of my lungs,
or had the benzene
I’d ignorantly inhaled
converted its potential

into malign reality?
Sleepless nights tossing
in anxiety; a ship rolling,
almost capsizing
in humungous waves, righting
only slowly in the troughs.

More X-rays. Apprehension
swamping concentration,
till the consultant tells me
it’s a trivial abnormality,
probably inherited,
and I’m perfectly OK.

…………………………………………………..*****

At the Hospice Window
by Mantz Yorke

She’s shrunken now, her body too small
for her clothes. Each day she lists the birds
she’s seen at the feeder – always a flutter
of sparrows and tits, occasionally a robin
bossing its territory and blackbirds scuttling
underneath, gleaning the fallen seeds.

Today she was radiant, excited, the lines
on her face less deep. A charm of goldfinches
had been tussling for perches on the mesh,
her book’s photograph made live.  ‘You know
what the birds signify?’ I shook my head.
She smiled.  ‘Resurrection’, she said.

………………………………………………….*****

Crone
by Barbara Ann Whiting

Born a crescent,
waxed to fullness,
I wane, gradually
returning to the form
I was before I was born.

I have been all forms of the goddess:
maiden, mother and crone –
but none of them are really me.
They are mantels which slip away
with age, whilst my essence burns bright:
holding the wisdom of each age within,
encapsulating all of their knowledge
in this form, you’d know as Crone.

Strong maiden years are remembered…
The drum of youth beating its rhythm
through my body and soul,
driving me towards achievements,
soul mates, and sexual awakening.
The desire to be fully grown,
and mistress of my own destiny:
fighting with parents to test
boundaries and solidify
my independence.

The mask of the maiden
slips all too easily away
and I fall into the role of mother…
I remember the pain of childbirth,
an opening up of the gates of life
between the world of the
unborn and the born.
I stand with a foot in each realm
as my body opens up to allow
a new soul to draw breath,
built from my blood and bone,
mitochondrial DNA passed down
through my bloodline,
identifiable for hundreds
of years to come.
Matrilineal – you always know
who gave birth to you-
the father’s seed sown and
joined with me to produce a life.

As crone, the strong maternal years
are replaced by a gentle wisdom,
a knowing that the tides of time
are ever changing, yet remain the same-
like an ocean wave disappearing into the sea
to be reborn elsewhere.
I am waning in preparation
for my rebirth into another
time and space.

In the goddess’ time, it will be done
and I shall return through the vesica-pisces
of my mother, as she opens up
a place between the worlds
from which I can emerge again
as a shining crescent moon
and bloom again to fullness.
…………………………………………………..*****

Blood Moon Magic
by Barbara Ann Whiting

Helena draws the water from the well, under the light of a full moon. It is charged with light and mystery. It slops over her ankles as the pail bangs against her shins.

“It is a blessing,” she thinks.

To her, this means the goddess approves and is sanctifying her steps. The hem of her shift clings about her legs, like an infant pleading with its mother for attention, almost bringing her to her knees; this omen she chooses to ignore.

The cottage is glowing, emitting an eerie, orange light as the candles flicker in drafts which penetrate the wattle and daub. It is alive, dancing in the moonlight to welcome her; she pours the water into a pewter pitcher. The scrying bowl sits concave, like a maiden’s empty belly, lying in the middle of the roughly hewn wooden table.

Reverently, she pours the water into it and it fills with the union of moon and water which she harvested outside. It glitters with potential and now she brings to it her intention. She stirs it widddershins with her forefinger, to open up the portal between worlds. It moves like molten silver at her touch, reflecting the colour of the metal beneath. She waits for it to settle. Then she begins to stare, unblinking, into the abyss of all that might be.

Figures begin to form in its depths, and she sees clearly the object of her desire, standing at the crossroads leading both in to and out of the village. To see the future is one thing, to exert influence over it is entirely another, but she’d waded too far into darkness to turn back now.

With focussed intention she places her finger again into the water and traces a path towards the village, towards her hut; her target becomes decisive, turning to face towards the outskirts of Heretu. She must make ready. The bowl is quickly packed away. The hut is now an ordinary place, with no indication of the magic held within.

She sits motionless awaiting his arrival. She’s waited thousands of years for this moment, yet these ten minutes bring her unbearable agony. The breaking of twigs heralds his arrival. The door opens and he stands before her as she dreamed he would. He is taller and darker than she had imagined with a defined muscular body from hard manual labour. He smells of fresh air and the musky smell of a young man…

When he speaks, it is in a lilting tone. His face is strong and his eyes portray depth and intelligence. The combination is, for a moment, disarming.

“I need shelter for the night,” the dark stranger stated.

Direct, she thought, and decisive.

“You’re welcome to lie by the fire tonight,” she replied, her controlled tone masking the passion within.

That was the night she conceived the child who would bring war and ruin to the land, for a child conjured during a blood moon can only live true to its nature. Had Helena known more about the stars and the signs and the sigils, she would have called forth at another time. The goddess had tried to warn her, wrapping herself around her legs to slow her pace as she moved forward, but mortals

often see only the omens they wish to see. It was thus that the reign of terror began in our Kingdom and only another invocation on a blood moon could end it.

…………………………………………………..*****

A keen and curious Astrologer
by Steve Harrison

To answer a keen and curious astrologer
who wanted my exact time and day of birth
…….I phoned my puzzled mam.

She’s rewarming memories
……………frying up dad’s breakfast
remembers abdicating his next meal
…………….to sister Muriel,
smells the sheep’s liver brazing for his tea.

She waits until it clicks, all fits and declares
…………….“Must have been a Thursday, sometime after three”.
……………………….Hers an ordered universe
of steady circling pots, predicted plates,
………….I could now inform my Astrologer
of my cooked-up birthday time
…………..and day and date.

…………………………………………………..*****

Dance
by Fiona Russell Dodwell

I light a candle for your op
……………………………white, in a glass bowl
the flame and its reflection
curtsy to each other
once
twice
clap hands
and
dance.

…………………………………………………..*****

This is Magic –
by Fiona Russell Dodwell

this rabbit-stare channel to
vastness and warmth
and just rabbit, just me;

this red flood in my chest
sweeping all of us
into great arms, yet just sea;

this hollowness, falling
at night saying Roisin
needs comforting now;

this robin who cocks
my mum’s eye
come away come away bonny lass

……………....don’t know how!

…………………………………………………..*****

Antebellum
by Mike Lee

Rust on the undercarriage from saltwater runs on the beach at Padre Island. Was warned about that by the owner before I arrived. He knew this could be a deal breaker, along with the points issue and the iffy choked up carburetor. But it was a fading black Pontiac GTO, 1965, the year Leann was born. Wouldn’t take much to get the work done on it, and I could live with the rust for a while. This purchase was intended to be for transportation, and I wanted something that looked good for my girlfriend.

Going to my knees, I inspected the rust on the passenger side. I nodded and looked up at the owner. Even though he was in his mid-thirties, he was an old hippie, flecks of gray spotting his beard. They all got old quick.

I pulled up, hands jammed into jeans pockets. “Four-fifty?”

He had asked for six hundred. After some quick bargaining, we settled on 525 dollars. Either the number was random, or this was fate. I had the exact amount, with five bucks to spare.

Five nights of bar tips exchanged hands, and with inspection papers, I drove to South Austin to have my buddy Stak run a check and clean the carb.

Radio worked, but I had my jam box. Played the Dream Syndicate, evoking Leann. When you smile, I don’t know what to do, ‘cause I could lose everything in a minute or two.

………….“I keep hearing the sixties were where it’s at,” gushed the chubby guy in the brown corduroy pants and checkered shirt. He had a bowl haircut, and as grandma would say, he was ten cents of god help us.

He stood at the counter, talking to Steve the Alien, the store owner. The Alien an old hippy, too. He used to have a stall at the flea market at the old slaughterhouse before it was torn down last year. He managed to find a small storefront on East Fifth Street, sharing space with a vintage clothing shop next door.

Leann was in the vintage shop next door. She didn’t think the sixties were all that great but wanted a Lambretta scooter. She loved the GTO and talked about starting a band.

She walked into the record store, in her threadbare black gym shorts and flip-flops. She wore my ribbed tank top and threw over an oversized men’s Arrow shirt that belonged to her dad.

The guy talking with the Alien turned around and gave her a lookover. Asshole. He had the look of cruelty about him.

Leann noticed this and responded by rolling her eyes. The guy went back to talk about the Thirteenth Floor Elevators and asked the Alien if he ever saw them play at the Vulcan Gas Company.

Leann sang along to The Violent Femmes playing from her new tape deck as we drive the winding road toward Mount Bonnell. Stak still has the GTO. Said he would have the car ready tomorrow. Leann picked me up from the junkyard on South Congress.

I looked at the graduation tassel swinging from Leann’s rearview mirror, then at her.

Her mother was the first Mexican-American drum majorette at our high school. This was a big deal—no, it was huge for the time. In Texas, cheerleaders were royal princesses, the dance squad queens, but the majorette was the Empress ruling the high school halls.

This honor was usually won as much by parental social connections as by talent. That year, talent won.

Leann was not her mother. Instead, she was all about guitar and poetry. The expectations for her were a vast expanse that curled at the infinite corners threatening to swallow her whole.

She wanted to embrace the world, knowing it would grip her back tight enough to snap her. She described this as being akin to all the sensations of life experience flowing down her throat like poison to the drowning, to paraphrase Delmore Schwartz.

I stared at her dark brown teardrop eyes and full downturned lips, her raven hair falling over her face. She couldn’t sing well or twirl a baton, but when hunched over her battered red Fender Mustang, plugged into a Vox AC-30, the reverb dialed up to air hanger echoes, every note she strummed could haunt a ghost.

We sit cross-legged on the rock wall sharing a cigarette above Lake Austin, across from the radio and TV towers in West Lake Hills. It is the summer solstice; the night is delayed by a selfish sun. People mill about the roadside park—I recognize a few from high school. They stop by to ask if we had weed, bum smokes and lights. We shrug, got a couple of Shiner Bocks from one of them.

Shortly before the sun made its final descent into the creeping purple, I told Leann about a dream.

………….“I had a dream this morning that I was protecting a turtle from an owl. The bird toyed with me. Every time I turned my back, the owl would swoop down and try to snatch the turtle. Each time I swatted it away.”

………….“Finally, the owl succeeded in grabbing the turtle. I reached up and pulled it away. The owl flew to a perch on a branch above me while I placed the turtle back on the ground. The animal pushed its head from out of its shell, and let me caress it—in gratitude.”

………….“Cool,” Leann said. “I wonder who represents the turtle—and who the owl is.”
…………..“I haven’t figured it out. I should look it up in 1001 Dreams Interpreted.”
…………. “Intense dream.” Leann leaned against me. “Maybe I’m the owl.”
…………. “Or the turtle.” Sometimes Leann snaps my lips when we kiss.

The sun sank to slumber while I thought of driving Leann and me in the GTO.

…………………………………………………..*****

Oracle
by Rona Fitzgerald

For my mother it was the Sacred Heart
his statue illuminating our hall.
What do doctors know about you?

Whether it was wombs or study
success was predicted once Mam
prayed to her divine friend.

She loved tea leaves as well
traced around her white china cup
………………like ants on fresh snow.

She would nod, gesticulate
go quiet, then call for help
her confidence infectious.

She never saw her own illness
confined for months to a small
room, dinner on the landing

propped on cushions, her blue
mohair shawl a duvet, a shroud.
………………………..All statues abandoned.

…………………………………………………..*****

Divining
For Iain and Bridget after a trip to the British Museum
by Jennifer A. McGowan

For Assyria, turn left at the Rosetta Stone,
continue past Sekhmet of the multiple gaze,
who has forgotten her wars but not her taste for blood,
decipher your way past hieroglyphs
where children pose and photograph their reflections,
the lens their cartouche. Beyond reclining lions
who do not care that you creep up behind them,
the Assyrian lamassu smile the same fixed smile
that blessed Mesopotamian plateaux. Inscribed on their flanks
are the names you seek but cannot read. Press your hand
to the protective pane. Close your eyes. Let the words come.

…………………………………………………..*****

Foot-Kenning
by Jennifer A. McGowan

Uncased or wrapped in light leather,
your five toes and sensitive sole tread softly
foot by grassy foot, seeking.

In a different age
you would have been a cunning man,
a finder of lost things, a purveyor of magics.

Instead in stone’s shadow
you heed again the foot-song.
Bending, you discover bright treasure.
…………………………………………………..*****

Cunning Folk
by Jennifer A. McGowan

He
studied the stars to know folks’ fate
collected piss when they took sick
sawed off their legs when he had to

I
gathered and dried plants
was gossip to the village
knew folks for miles around
and could name their great-grandfathers

He
had studied in the city
intoned Latin on the fly
could make a thief confess

I
learned at my mother’s knee
bred squirrels for fur and dogs for hunting rats
(named ‘em all) and spun a smooth thread

We
married. Together we
ushered in a generation of children
flushed others out of should-be maids
set bones and mended fences
After thirty years

He
died and was buried
a good Christian in the church
Three years later

I
was hanged

…………………………………………………..*****

Mapping the next world
by Jennifer A. McGowan

like teenagers sitting around a table with dice,
a dungeon perhaps,
this room you find yourself in ten by ten feet,
corridor leading south.

Then it gets muddy. Muddier.
Stops relying on cardinals, spirals
down, turns left, tunnels, climbs,
you’re not quite sure, till

you’re in another closed space,
larger, more three-dimensional,
not entirely uncomfortable
and behind you a door.

You don’t know
if it’s how you arrived,
or if it matters.

Roll a die.
You find a way through.
………………………………………………….*****

Seer
by Jennifer A. McGowan

Holidays didn’t start for the four of them
till they’d lined up in Gran’s kitchen
to be created. Her eyes didn’t work, so Gran would
send forth her magic fingers, which
would explore, discover, measure. With
bated breath each would wait as Gran rocked
back on her heels, considered, and pronounced
his name. Then everything began.

…………………………………………………..*****

Merkstave
by Kate Garrett

You pocketed Ansuz,
shoulders squared
with your knowing
as my half-elf smile
uncurled itself.

You were desperate
to claim your part
in the unbroken link
to gods, to mead-drunk
genius—your lyrics
spiky with kennings,
frosted by giants.

When the stones
were thrown you
believed they would
be given a voice.
When the marks
landed merkstave
you spoke of the way
things have to be.

My runes were glass
rocks, hard against northern
winters: unseen, wrapped
up with knowledge—
all the while casting, alone
reading their language
letting you pretend.

Merkstave is the word for a rune read “reversed”, or with a darker meaning than the usual one.


Biographies

Peter Clive lives on the southside of Glasgow, Scotland with his wife and three children. He is a scientist in the renewable energy sector. As well as poetry, he enjoys composing music for piano and spending time in the Isle of Lewis.

Kirsten Luckins writes poetry for page and stage. She has toured two solo spoken word shows; the first was nominated for a Saboteur Award, the second accompanied her first full collection with Burning Eye Books. She has had worked published in various magazines including Obsessed With Pipework, The Interpreter’s House and Magma.

Irene Cunningham has had many poems published in literary magazines over the last twenty-odd years. She lounges around Loch Lomond and sometimes blogs at https://irenecunninghamisinsideout.wordpress.com/

Barry Fentiman-Hall is a writer of place. He has been published in anthologies Stories from Songs, City without a head, An Assemblance of Judicious Heretics, and Icon Theatre’s 23 Submarines, and magazines including: Anti-Heroin Chic, PoetryPulse, The Blue Nib and Picaroon. His pamphlet The Unbearable Sheerness of Being is available from Wordsmithery.

Steve Harrison was born in Yorkshire and now lives in Shropshire just off the M54 or in the shadow of The Wrekin on his poetic days. His work has appeared in Emergency Poet collections, Wenlock Festival, The Physic Garden, Pop Shot, Mid-Winter Solstice, The Curlew, Poets’ Republic, Riggwelter and Wetherspoons  News. He regularly performs across the Midlands and won the Ledbury Poetry Festival Slam in 2014.

Mantz Yorke lives in Manchester, England. His poems have appeared in a number of print magazines, anthologies and e-magazines in the UK, Ireland, Israel, Canada, the US, Australia and Hong Kong.

Rona Fitzgerald was born in Dublin and now lives in Glasgow.  Her most recent publications are Aiblins: New Scottish Political Poetry, Oxford Poetry XVI.iii Winter 2016-17. Ten poems in Resurrection of a Sunflower, Pski’s Porch 2017, two poems in Ramingo’s Porch Winter 2017. Forthcoming poems in Dark Bones a Grenfell anthology 2018, #MeToo a woman’s poetry anthology, Fair Acre Press 2018.

Maggie Mackay, a Scot and Manchester Metropolitan University MA Poetry graduate, has work in print and online in publications such as Amaryllis, Algebra of Owls, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Prole, Three Drops Press and Atrium. #MeToo a woman’s poetry anthology, Fair Acre Press 2018.

Jean Atkin has published ‘Not Lost Since Last Time’ (Oversteps Books) also five poetry pamphlets and a novel.  Her recent work appears in Magma, Agenda, Ambit, Poetry Salzburg, The North, Earthlines and The Moth.  She has held residencies in both England and Scotland, and works as a poet in education and community projects.  www.jeanatkin.com  @wordsparks

Joseph S. Pete is an award-winning journalist, an Iraq War veteran, an Indiana University graduate, a book reviewer, a photographer, and a frequent guest on Lakeshore Public Radio in Merrillville who lives in the Chicago metropolitan area. He is a 2017 Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee who was named the poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest, a feat that Geoffrey Chaucer chump never accomplished. His writing and photography have appeared or are forthcoming in more than 100 literary journals, including Dogzplot, Stoneboat, The High Window, Synesthesia Literary Journal, Steep Street Journal, Beautiful Losers, New Pop Lit, The Grief Diaries, Gravel, The Offbeat, Oddball Magazine, The Perch Magazine, Rising Phoenix Review, Chicago Literati, Bull Men’s Fiction, shufPoetry, The Roaring Muse, Prairie Winds, Blue Collar Review, Lumpen, The Rat’s Ass Review, The Tipton Poetry Journal, Euphemism, Jenny Magazine, Vending Machine Press and McSweeney’sInternet Tendency. The last sentence should end with a humorous note like a movie trailer because you’re more likely to remember it that way.

Mike Lee is a writer, labor journalist and photographer based in New York City. His recent fiction is published in Ghost Parachute, Alexandria Quarterly, The Airgonaut and others. He also is a blogger for the photography website Focus on the Story. Website is www.mleephotoart.com.

Gareth Writer-Davies; Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2014 and 2017) and the Erbacce Prize (2014) Commended in the Prole Laureate Competition (2015) and Prole Laureate for 2017. Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition (2015) and Highly Commended in 2017  His pamphlet “Bodies”, was published in 2015  by Indigo Dreams and his next pamphlet “Cry Baby” will come out in November, 2017.

Cheryl Pearson lives and writes in Manchester. Her poems have appeared in publications including The Guardian, Southword, The High Window, Under The Radar, Frontier, and The Interpreter’s House. She won first prize in the High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature 2016, and the Torbay Poetry Competition 2017. She has also twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her first collection, “Oysterlight”, is available now from Amazon/Pindrop Press.

Ali Jones is a teacher, music lover, and mother of three. Her work has appeared in Proletarian Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin Poetry, Atrium, Mother’s Milk Books, Breastfeeding Matters, Green Parent magazine and The Guardian. Her pamphlets Heartwood and Omega are forthcoming with Indigo Dreams Press in 2018.

Janet McCann ’s work has been inludedrnals publishingwork include KANSAS QUARTERLY, PARNASSUS, NIMROD, SOU’WESTER, AMERICA, CHRISTIAN CENTURY, CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE, NEW YORK QUARTERLY, TENDRIL, and others. A 1989 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship winner, she taught at Texas A & M University from 1969-2016, is now Professor Emerita. She has co-edited anthologies with David Craig, ODD ANGLES OF HEAVEN (Shaw, 1994), PLACE OF PASSAGE (Story Line, 2000), and POEMS OF FRANCIS AND CLARE (St. Anthony Messenger, 2004). Most recent poetry collection: THE CRONE AT THE CASINO (Lamar University Press,  2014).

Jennie E. Owen’s writing has won competitions and has been widely published online, in literary journals and anthologies.  She is a University Lecturer of Creative Writing and lives in Mawdesley, Lancashire with her husband and three children.

Paul Waring is a clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and was a singer/songwriter in several Liverpool bands. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and his poems have been published or are forthcoming in Clear Poetry, Prole, Algebra of Owls, Amaryllis, Three Drops from a Cauldron, The Open Mouse, Riggwelter, Rat’s Ass Review, Reach Poetry, Foxglove Journal and many others. His blog is https://waringwords.wordpress.com

Diane Cockburn was born in Northern Ireland. Vane Women Press published her first pamphlet Under Surveillance in 1999. She is now a member of Vane Women, a writers’ collective based in Darlington. Her work appears in a variety of anthologies. Her latest collection Electric Mermaid is published by Arrowhead Press.

Kate Garrett is the managing editor of Three Drops from a Cauldron and Picaroon Poetry, and her own writing is widely published online and in print. She is the author of several pamphlets, most recently You’ve never seen a doomsday like it (Indigo Dreams, 2017), and Losing interest in the sound of petrichor (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2018). Kate grew up in rural southern Ohio, but moved to the UK in 1999, where she still lives in Sheffield with her husband, five children, and a sleepy cat. www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk

Mike Ferguson is a retired English teacher, his poetry published widely in poetry magazines and journals. His most recent poetry collection is the sonnets chapbook ‘Precarious Real’ [Maquette Press, 2016] and he co-authored the education text ‘Writing Workshops’ [Cambridge University Press, 2015]. https://mikeandenglish.wordpress.com/

Fianna (Fiona Russell Dodwell) is from Fife and lives in the Fens. She has had about 60 poems published both in print and in online poetry magazines.

Jenny Hope is a writer, poet and workshop facilitator. She mainly works with children and people living with Dementia.  She lives on top of a hill in one of the highest villages in Worcestershire.

Barbara Ann Whiting is writer of poetry and prose and currently works as a teacher of English; originally from County Durham, she now lives in Hartlepool with her family. Her writing has been included in the anthology, “Clay Path,” produced by the performance poet, Steve Urwin.

E.E. Nobbs lives in P.E.I., Canada. Her collection The Invisible Girl (2013) was published after winning the Doire Press 2nd Annual International Chapbook Contest. Website/blog: https://ellyfromearth.wordpress.com/

Gene Groves lives in Northumberland but is originally from Wales. She had 35 poems in Flambard New Poets 2. Her poetry has appeared in numerousmagazines including New Welsh Review, The Interpreter’s House, Pre-Raphaelite Society Review, Prole, Orbis, Obsessed With Pipework, Weyfarers, and on the Diamond Twig site. She enjoys reading at poetry events and is working on a collection.

Mark Blayney won the Somerset Maugham Award for Two kinds of silence. Third story collection Doppelgangers and poetry Loud music makes you drive faster are published by Parthian.He’s a Hay Festival Writer at Work and longlisted for the National Poetry Competition. markblayney.weebly.com

Ricky Monahan Brown is the host and curator of the Saboteur Award-winning night of live spoken word and musical entertainment, INTERROBANG‽ His fiction and narrative non-fiction has been published in many magazines, journals and newspapers, including 404 Ink and The Dublin Inquirer. He has recently completed the manuscript of his memoir of extreme survival, Stroke: A Love Story.

Jennifer A. McGowan When not hiding in the fifteenth century, Jennifer A. McGowan hits words with spanners until they approximate poetry. She has been published in several countries and many journals, and her latest book, With Paper for Feet, can be had from Arachne Press.

Angi Holden is a freelance writer and creative writing tutor. Her work includes adult & children’s poetry, short stories & flash fictions, published online and in print anthologies and in 2015 she co-edited the National Flash Fiction Day anthology. She brings a wide range of personal experience to her writing, alongside a passion for lifelong learning and was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing by MMUC in 2016. Her pamphlet Spools of Thread, published February 2018, won the inaugural Mother’s Milk Pamphlet Prize.

David Rae lives in Scotland. He loves stories that lurk just below the surface, like deep water. He has most recently had work published in; SPIDER MIRROR, THE FLATBUSH REVIEW, THE HORROR TREE, LOCUST, ROSETTA MALEFICARIUM, SHORT TALE 100 and 50 WORD STORIES.


 


4 thoughts on “The Writers’ Cafe Magazine – ISSUE 6 “The Art of Divination”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s