The Writers’ Cafe Magazine – ISSUE 11 “Into the Trees”

rainforest brightened

Rooted
by Peter J. King


Peter King Trees
………………………………………………………………*****
Night Visitors
by Lesley Quayle

It began in the forest,
in the still and starless,
landscape of a night.
In an absence of light,
in the company of nightmares,
listening for disparate animations,
tattoo of trees, murmur of wings,
mouths moving over skin.
Peering into shadows,
through specks of black,
to blacker washes,
while in the leaf  litter,
blind things crawl
and the hidden husks
of nut and seed
slide with them.
There’s a smell of earth,
a taste of blood and iron,
unhallowed invocations.
Fear sharpens talons,
tusks and tines on nested bones,
on leaves of glass,
on scales of ice.

……………………………………………………………….*****

On A Day Like This
by Maxine Rose Munro

On a day when the sky is the blue of
Hollywood, holidays, your dreams, some
place else, and the clouds are whiter
than the whitest white you could ever
imagine – swirling, moving, Rorschach
blots, and the dark between trees is
a sky at night the gaps poke blue stars
through, and you close your eyes
and listen to the rooks and they bring
you farms, and song birds gardens, and
sheep, as always, their foolish sounds;
on a day like this I listen, hear no sea
and I know I am too far from home.

……………………………………………………………..*****

But On A Day Like This
by Maxine Rose Munro

On a day when the sky is the blue of
bird’s eggs, your eyes, sun bleached
paint and the clouds are stretched as
thin as fraying string – ever untwisting
around a sun that’s a far rhinestone,
and the wind takes you almost to your
knees and there are no trees anywhere
you look, and you close your eyes
and listen to the gulls and they bring
you waves, freedom over sea and life
on cliff edges, and no other birds exist;
on a day like this I listen, hear only sea
and I know where I will always belong.

………………………………………………………………………*****

Am fleistear / The fletcher
by Peter Clive

Caoran, mar fuil air goil, làn dùirn dearg
dòrtadh as na meuran craoibhe-chaorainn
‘na aonar am measg an iùbhrach neo-bhàsmhor,

is duilleagan umhach, donn, soilleir-bhuidhe sa coille eile,
is duilleagan eile clò-bhuailte le dath fala orra,
is eile coltach ri cléiteagan’s iteagan aotrom is beaga:

tha fleistear ann an t-Fhoghar,
a’ lorg a saighead anns an saoghal maoiseach seo,
an ite an earbaill ann gach duilleag a’ tuiteam,
ceangailte air an smeòirn saighde leis.

Tha e a’ stalcaireachd
is a’ dèanamh cuimse air an Dàmhair,
is an guin béire a’ curadh crioch air bliadhna
mar damh-féidh sa lànachd.

Hot clumps of berries, like boiling blood, red fistfuls
spilling from the branches of a rowan tree
alone amidst the immortal yew grove. 

and elsewhere, brazen leaves, brown, bright yellow in the wood,
and others printed with the colour of blood on them,
and other leaves like light little flakes and feathers. 

Autumn is a fletcher,
finding his arrow in this mosaic world,
a tail feather in each leaf that falls
fastened by him to the arrow’s nock.

He is stalking and taking aim at October
and the point’s sting puts and end to a year
like a rutting stag in its prime.

…………………………………………………………………*****

The Magic Money Tree
by Peter Clive

It sways there in the humid breeze:
a leafy palm,
whose shade extends across the beach’s
pristine sand.
Great coconuts stuffed full with cash –
the civil list, the arms contracts,
the tax dodge and the offshore stash –
slowly expand.

They dangle where high on the bough,
the poor can’t reach,
yet drop into the open laps
of high rank peers.
Here corporate donors and their friends
can hide away their dividends
until they work out how to spend
what’s profiteered.

Their Carribean country club
is exclusive.
Resort, tax haven, trading hub,
it’s conducive
to private pacts behind closed doors,
dark money deals, election fraud.
The public good is bought and sold
to make them rich.

Outside the migrant and the poor
throng at the gates.
Hillsborough, Grenfell and Rochdale,
demand their say.
The rich instruct security:
“we do not care about their needs,
and there’s no magic money tree.
Turn them away.”

………………………………………………………………………….*****

Tree
by Peter Clive

If it could walk away it surely would,
but it is bound to clay by ancient roots,
its limbs thrust out in longing and despair,
as if it stretches through the evening air
for stars the seasons shift out of its reach,
and sheds its secret hope with each year’s leaves.
In winter man’s axe takes it for his hearth,
and as its limbs are slowly burned to ash,
the light of all its days at last released,
unravelling in flames what it had knit
into itself each summer day, at least
some other heart tonight is warmed by it.

…………………………………………………………………………….*****

Forest Library
by Susannah Violette

when I call each leaf in the wood
the page of a book

veined blooded arteries of story
wait silently for an eye to pry

to reverently stroke with their
woken blue, green, brown

the bark would surround, binding
patient for fingertips wandering
meandering the clefts and hillocks
a beautiful brail for intelligent touches

I would walk through a library
of oak and ash

I would kneel, hair tumbling

and weep with the willow

slip into the shadow of yew
and rise full of hope with beech

to meet the sun with stories

I would browse, seasonally
feel the changes, bodily

read

…………………………………………………………………………….*****

The Forest
by Susannah Violette

clear
like a pane of glass
there is nothing
and everything to see here

the forest clamours to take over
it hurls twigs and bark
at the human arrangements
the paths, the rows of pine

where branches fall from trunks
like dead wooden babies
leave vulvas to gape and yawn
they become wet in the rain
the rest of the time
dried as forgotten snatches

they need not fear aging here
they will be managed before they silver
before they split and hollow
and people pin flippant doors to them
and then, close themselves in
accidentally
to the powerful pull of ancient sap

this is what I see
spread before me
my body a window to it

the forest
it moves in me like a golem

something has died in the vetch
it smells a bloated purple
and on those spiral tendrils it rises
steaming
fogs the glass

………………………………………………………………………………*****

The Finding
by Susannah Violette

it’s hungry
this search for you

the six footed ones
have their time

feelers wave and waft

my nails dig the loamy mulch

hair falling out
touches me like spiders would

and do

you must be in here
buried like a lost coin

the caterpillars hang
clappers inside invisible bells

wings still as lost to them
as you are to me

did I tell you I brought an apple?
but it is bitter
stings my tongue

I’m thinner than when I began
lightness is pleasing

urine is dark fuming coffee
…….asparagus

I bleed all over the leaves
you are there in my blood

………………………………………………………………………………..*****

Ash
by Susannah Violette

I watched the ash falling

she scalpelled the leaf shapes from the sky

no less than had been done to her

they fell with her elegance

the tree had her body, before the abuse,
and maybe for a short time after

it was tall as she had been
and moved like a dancer as she had done

Laura

her name was there
suggested in the linear bark
in the long limbed branches

the tree was so like her
so beautiful and poised

even losing its leaves
I could see her, losing herself

her black tipped buds beginning
like poison arrows

……………………………………………………………………………………*****

Kinship with Silver Birch
by Susannah Violette

alone with its skin
shedding scales into mulch

she makes the earth slip, the grease of her
she might writhe like a snake
if I turn away

I remember myself, agonised
trapped in translucent wrapping
now shucked off, like autumn leaves
before I was ready, already skeletal
fine and white veined

like her, I shiver at newness

an exhibition to the forest

the unfamiliar ground beneath
Its oil-slick surface
dark where I am light

glistening, newborn

tears sprout like springs
all over me, lonely rivers
fearing the hardened future

weeping for the lost parchment of myself
my life before now

scattered vellum, silver
written in the ink of violet beetles
and their scrattling gait

………………………………………………………………………………*****

Night Watch
by Lorraine Caputo

I.
A cricket hops at my feet
& a younger one
crosses the threshold
as I lock the door,
a white moth fluttering around my hand
in the light’s dim halo,
a toad watching me
walk down the jungle path
& across a bridge

II.
Throughout this night
I watch the clouds
& full moon
sweeping the sky

fractured beams
sheen upon
the forest

III.
Several hours before
a new dawn
I watch those clouds
abscond with the moon
her light transformed
into pulses
growing sharper
into blades & bolts
thunder rumbles
through these mountains

IV.
& then the rain
comes, washing away
dew dripping
from lancet leaves

……………………………………………………………………………….*****

Mangrove
By Lorraine Caputo

In the late afternoon
……………we enter the waterways
………………………..along the Pacific coast of Guatemala
An island in the Río El Naranjo
………….fills with white & grey seagulls
Among them crouch a few brown pelicans
………….with their loose-throated beaks
On the other side of the sandbar
…………..the changing tide froths white
……………………….in the glare of the sun

& back into the estuary
………….cooled by trees whose roots
………………………sprout from limbs
…………………………………..& reach into the depths
……………………………………………….of the green water

We near the village
Children play in the midst
………….of our sputtering launch’s path
Their brown skins shimmer
They wade towards the shore
…………..at our approach
A mother holds an infant in one arm
Her cotton dress clings to legs
We duck beneath a low
…………..wooden footbridge

After many weavings
…………..we enter a broad expanse
There, on an island a large
……………colony of pelicans nests
The smell of sea & fish is strong
& the white waves rise on the other side
………….of that narrow slice of land
……………………….separating us from the sea

Once more into these emerald waterways
………….lacing the coast with their
……………………….shading mangroves
Sunlight dances through the leaves

At a village cleating we make landfall
The black volcanic sand on the bank
…………..sinks beneath our feet

……………………………………………………………………………………..*****
Sonnet Ash
by Julian Bishop

My heart has darkening rings about it
age has carved its name on my bark;
limbs creak, l sway on a stick
it is hard to see the stars in the dark.
But the years fail to stem my ambition
of one day taming the sun – I imagine
a tangle of branches extending a cage
around Earth – like a fish in a coral cave.
Forests would follow, in a mass revolution
of leaves, a green solution to pollution,
with the whole world warming to my plan:
to encase the globe in a protective blanket.
A desperate last gasp to save the planet,
I think we should grasp it while we can.

………………………………………………………………………………….*****

Suicide Note
by Rachel Burns

The wind surges wildly
through the trees like a howl
the sound godless and unworldly.

In the woods diseased trees
knock, knock, knock together.
The sound disturbs a grouse that shrieks

like a child’s wounding.
Why do they question, question, question?
What? When? Why? How?

You watch the river flow down steam
the current faster and faster- the river
doesn’t question, it just does.

The weight of it all.
What must it feel like to fill your pockets
with heavy stones?

Would you touch their smooth hard surface?

What is it like to walk deep into a river?
To feel the water seeping wet
the iciness needling your skin.

The river flows so fast you can hardly stand
as it rises above your legs, coils itself
into a tight knot around your waist,

then up to your chest, your shoulders,
you tip your chin, close your mouth
water gags, suffocates, filling your nose

blinding your eyes, you can’t see
a thing, but you hear thunder, the roar
of the water deafens your ears.

The river has you in its icy grasp,
you can feel pressure building, building
in your lungs, your instinct to fight, fight, fight.

…………………………………………………………………………………………*****

Mooring Under a Willow
by Miki Byrne

A willow droops.
Gazes like Narcissus
at its wind-rippled self.
A teasing breeze
styles leaves and fronds,
curves a swaying fountain
of branches.
A few leave spiral down
to the dreaming river,
where water-songs
and weather-whispers mingle.
This living curtain ushers her in.
Parts by the bows’ push,
for her to tie front and stern
to the willows rough-skinned bole.
To rest the hull above twisted,
coiled roots.
Where small fish curl between,
bright as thrown coins.
She sits on the roof,
sparkily dappled by leaf shadow.
With rustling in her ears
and rising scents of earth
and water.
She is content with solitude.
Runs her fingers over bark.
Revels in peace, fragrance,
her dens seclusion.
A kingfishers darts above her.
Shares her refuge.
Big-city city neon
could never eclipse him.

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

Wishing Tree
by Miki Byrne

Star-freckles upon night’s cheek
glimmer between branches.
Earths breath shivers spring leaves.
Slender stems quiver
like plucked strings.
Night creatures rustle and scurry
through grassy arches,
twig-made palisades
and an owl skims on silent wings
light as a paper dart.
The ancient oak stands like a hero
in moon-silvered light.
Casts a circle of shadow.
Gifts of ribbon and wool
are tied on low branches.
Adorn this tree in wishing-bows
and small paper requests
scrunch into gaps in bark,
the vee of close-grown twigs.
Here and there lockets dangle
and carved initials glow pale in bark.
I ribbon-wrap a slender bough.
Unfurl bright tails
to wave my message of hope.
Retrace steps to city-light shimmer.
Somewhere there,
my hope lies dreaming.

………………………………………………………………………………….*****

Strippers
by Miki Byrne

Leaves must hang weighty upon bough and branch.
As they spill out in ball–gown layers that rustle, shade,
offer cool sanctuary beneath their skirts.
They are held proudly, cling tenaciously and artfully cover
like any debutantes strapless taffeta.
Through storms, wind, heats scorching attack.
As if modesty forbids showing even a glimpse of shoulder.
In autumn though, the moral compass shifts
and in frivolous teasing display, a few here, a few there,
leaves are discarded.
Flung like saucy props, to float delicately.
Land like burlesque feather-fans and boas, litter ground
in a protracted striptease, that offers gradual denuding,
subtle peeps of a branches join, the elegant fork of boughs.
Until deciduous beauties stand in winter-naked majesty.
Bare-to-the-bark stark, they stretch, free of weight,
unencumbered, just as they were born.
Offer a proud ‘Ta da! to those who walk beneath.

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

Hollow
by D.L. Shirey

Trees masked the remains of daylight, the forest floor now darker than the sky. Greens and browns of pine and fir barely colored the cold, gray shadows. It was time to camp, but a distant, interminable howl kept me hiking forward. This was animal sound; a creature’s lament, the last, weak fragments of pain. There was no other noise, not even wind. Nothing but still, feral death.

The sound came from down a dry streambed, the steep shoulders tangled in ivy. My flashlight lit nothing more than a choke of plants, downed branches and no visible path inward. Night had won the day so I hunched off my pack. And as kindling sparked to flame, the moaning stopped. I’m not sure if the campfire startled the beast to silence or if its misery simply ended, but no insect, frog or nightbird uttered a peep thereafter. A strange hush gripped the forest until first light.

Dawn revealed the pathway into the streambed, a trace of trail up and around a fallen tree. I picked my way past roots and snags, down again to packed sand and rounded stones. The dapple of sunrise barely lit this hollow. Long-armed ferns reached down from both sides of the surrounding embankments. Full sunlight was as foreign here as the metal stake pounded into the clearing before me.

Then I heard it again. This time the sound was a brittle, labored breathing; whimpered exhales, slow and thin. It was coming from the base of the stake, yet no animal was there. Not a carcass, no fur or bone, only the cry of what used to be. Like an echoed memory of pain so great that the sound still remained, caught in the teeth of an empty, sprung bear trap.

By the looks of it, the trap had been there for years. A rusted half-circle thrust up from a pile of dry pine needles, its jaws clamped, hinges corroded permanently closed. I unearthed the cable that held the trap to the stake and the wires crumbled like straw under my hand.

As I knelt there, I heard the animal’s death. It was a whispered pant straining for air, ended by a slow, relaxed release of breath. I thought I smelled copper and musk.

There was a sad stretch of silence before the wind picked up and all the sounds of the forest blew in again. I dug a hole in the soft sand and buried the trap, the stake now a marker for a grave. I tied a fallen branch as a crossbar and said a prayer to help the spirit move on.

……………………………………………………………………………*****

Drought
by Mantz Yorke

Week in, week out, no rain has wet the trees:
each gully has become a dried-up burn.
High on the ridge, I’ve a bird’s eye view down.

The radio said many homes had burned down,
so carelessly built in resin-rich trees:
I see smoke rising where the wildfires burn.

I cream-up my skin, not wanting to burn.
Fair-weather clouds that are as soft as down
won’t block sun, rain, or float mist through the trees.

I’m sure, in this drought, more trees will burn down.

……………………………………………………………………………………*****

North Wood, Styal: Remembrance Day
by Mantz Yorke

Still. The air damp after last night’s rain,
and the scuffled leaves smelling of tea.
Mist is lifting into clouds, letting
intermittent sun light up the beeches’
tans, oranges, yellows and greens. I set up
my camera, waiting for a gleam to brighten
the skein of leaves trailing across the river
from a slanting tree’s stark trunk.

A family intrudes, not seeing me lined up
on the bank above. The gumbooted kids
paddle from a tiny beach, laughing
as their spaniel splashes after sticks.
I get my shot moments before a breeze
frees the beech leaves: they fall like poppies
in the Albert Hall, splat on the water
and sweep away on the careening flow.

……………………………………………………………………………….*****

Hawthorns, Wastwater
by Mantz Yorke

About thirty-five degrees – scree’s
natural angle, judging by the map:
you’d believe it steeper, looking up

the exaggerated perspective of the fan
to its origin and vanishing-point,
where the roaring wind is flattening mist
against gullies and splintered crags.

The path winds its impermanent way
around stony convexities,
contouring roughly around the lake.

Here and there, set against the slants
of green, rust and clinkery black,
hawthorns writhe and cringe,
offering up blood-red fruits

as if to propitiate the rain,
their life-span determined
by a random tumbling-down of stones.

………………………………………………………………………………*****

Outback
by Mantz Yorke

In 2006, after being rescued from the outback for the second time in a week, a 50-year-old British man was taken to hospital in Alice Springs, Australia.

Suddenly, the light has gone –
faster than the buzz of the aeroplane
I’d heard, but never saw.
Now my water-bottle’s dry
and my mobile’s battery is dead.

I must have opened a million doors
between the gums, each opening
a further chance to mis-guess
which hint of a track would best
lead me back to the abandoned car.

The sandy path I reached
as the short evening turned to night
is clearly a stream when it rains,
but the water’s now so deep
only the trees can drink.

I’ll scrape the sand to make a bed,
use stones for a pillow, and lie
curled in my hollow
till the stars fade, praying
the rescuers have not yet quit.

………………………………………………………………………*****

Snowfall, Stenner Wood
by Mantz Yorke

From afar, the wood is a soft monochrome
after the snowfall, as if sketched with pencils
ranging from B to 4B. I join a path trodden
by early walkers and their dogs, disappointed
at the lost pristine, but recompensed

by subtle shades that light reflected from the snow
presents to my eye – the sepia, sienna and umber
of white-striped trunks; sorrel heads’ mahogany;
buff reeds standing proud from blue-grey ice,
their brindled featheriness weighed down in arcs;

desiccated nettles’ military grey; a yellow stain
where a dog has lifted its leg against a post
and, alchemically, hints of verdigris on birches’
silver bark. Friedrich’s romantic imagination
saw every hue on a bleak Baltic shore. More dully,

I enjoy the limited range of the wood’s palette,
but cannot stand and stare for long: frozen feet
are prompting a return to the warmth of home.
I can go out another day to find the missing
colours – berries’ purples and rose hips’ reds.

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

Forest Inventory
by Alwyn Marriage

The ground that in the spring
erupted in anemone and bluebell
has faded into grey

where layers of shadows
play hide and seek all day
with odd patches of light.

Under the flit and scuttle
of living things, around tall trunks
that spread their branches wide,

the floor is soft and thick
from endless generations
of repeated fall and decay

over which an interminable
procession of termites is now
carrying food supplies.

Shuffles, snuffles and bright
eyes betray small creatures
pretending they aren’t there

while last year’s floating leaves
still blow dark secrets
round hidden crevices of bark.

And as well as all this buzzing, bursting
fecund life, erupting everywhere,
there are, of course, also trees.

………………………………………………………………………………..*****

Dressmaker
by Maggie Mackay

Mr Foulds, her landlord, loved the woods of Dalry.
Dundeugh, Polmaddy, Clattershaws – their roots underpinned his bones. He rustled.

He spoke of bullfinch, canopy. Broadleaf fluttered and transpiration spilled from his lips.
Folk sought him out, eased by his love of thrush, goldcrest, ash, dunnock.

He championed the beetle in the crevice of a rotted tree, the tree creeper hidden in bark.
The seasons oozed from him in patterns of colour spun from midsummer to midwinter.

Maggie crooked around the kitchen door with his jacket altered to fit his failing limbs.
A pair of brown eyes, his grandson’s, met hers. She stopped a while as usual.

He was a young gardener from some grand house down south, beginning his trade.
The talk was of parkland, not forest, an ice house, pineapple pits. She relaxed.

The men argued the worth of asparagus, the forcing and art of grafting,
Pippin and Hessel, their weights that summer, a lake rising from natural springs.

Next came her favourite, a rose garden of two hundred varieties, then orchids
She sews a new seam, marriage, beyond her father’s holding, beyond Dalry.

……………………………………………………………………………………*****

The Fear of Forests at Night
Nyctohylophobia
by Catherine Graham

It’s not as if you are poisonous, laburnum
or manchineel, still you terrify me at night
when your leaves turn to silver and black

and the moon floats between your branches
as if playing hide and seek with wolves. A hark
back perhaps to my girlhood and Christmas

pantomimes when talking trees with bulging
eyes warned the girl not to go to Grandma’s.
Yet in daylight trees are beautiful like showgirls.

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

Old Locust
by Nancy L. Meyer

rough-barked tree hewed left and right in its growing,
both trunks strong with a u-shaped saddle just big enough
to straddle like a child entranced
by nooks and crannies, back against one trunk which steadies
my head so I can stare up to both crowns just barely budding
out with spring leaves lemon-green against a scudding Ohio
sky that in days long by must have turned black
and blasted winds that tore off a substantial branch on the right side
now jutting jagged and barren not needed as the living tree
goes on above and below, reminding me of my brother
who died and the two of us who remain jotting our grocery lists
and sharing photos of the latest grandchild while missing
phone calls across time zones. I climb carefully, wedging
each foot to get another vantage point surprised at how small
the land looks today whittling my view
through the deciduous grove and dried leaves up the hill
where I once pitched a pup tent in summer when the green was thick
with thunder and mosquitos. How quiet today with only a clear-toned
cardinal and the ground birds who make outsized sounds scrabbling
in the leaves and who scatter as I clamber down sliding and gripping the bark
so I land easily with bent knee and can gaze upon the full height
of this tree. The duff at its root and sheared branches, strewn
cattywompus, contrast with the tight patterns etched in striations bottom to top.
Nothing holds into a singular form, who knows why the original fork,
two trunks reaching each for its own piece of the sky, familiar to me
as every choice I make, tugging always.

……………………………………………………………………………..*****

The Shining Dark
After Jeffrey Levine
by Nancy L. Meyer

Fog fumes through the forest, dropping pomegranate seeds
along the slog to purgatory, that madhouse on the cliff
whose granite steps erode under the trudge of pilgrims
who stumble and stub their way through each unhinged door
and are silenced with the strict wrappings of the sheets.
We all have a message, wound on the leg of the pigeon,
that we hide under the pillow, read only in the belly
of the whale, shifting foot to foot to count each heaving rib
while the sun washboards rags of time.
Tablets crack under the weight of witness, the fruit
a sweet swallow
where we taste the thoughts that haunt us
where we tremble in the arms and reeds
green and gold bend
to the whispers and patience of generations
and the mountain itself quakes in jubilee as we rise.

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

Hearsay
by Penny Sharman

They say the boy left his bicycle by the young sequoia in 1914.
Now it’s a memory of childhood stuck in the rings of a full grown tree.
Now its pedals and chain, wheels and spokes hold onto a living thing.

They say trees are alive and dance, their leaves like paper birds
that shift and whisper as wind passes through the forest.
A forest of music that stirs minds, murmurs to giants that chase
away the Windigo, creatures of darkness.

Trees can talk. They say it’s a mystery of w-waves, a slow-motion
of beliefs. Trees can feel the blade, the cut, the falling down.
They say trees scream and call for help. It’s a chemical reaction,
a symbiotic way to nurse away pain.

They say the trees outside your window may have seen you grow old,
that they know you better than anyone. They say the boy left his
bicycle by the young sequoia in 1914 and how his laughter and
tears are caught in its bark forever.

……………………………………………………………………….*****

Tree Bathing
by Penny Sharman

How I’ve hugged you close to my breast
never able to reach my arms around your girth.

I’ve fallen to my knees to beg you to stay,
to show us the way of height, the canopy,

wisdom of leaf and sap, how I listen
underneath your bark and wonder what’s

behind the madness of the axe that disturbs
your heart and mine, the separation of, the separation of—

……………………………………………………………..*****

Tree Bruising
by Penny Sharman

How each notch hears a sob from the noose
of fallen apples, how grass comforts your thoughts

Whatever clouds do or say we all crack at the end of it all,
crack at parting of lips, crack at the holding of hands.

…………………………………………………………………….*****

Tree Shelter
by Penny Sharman

Are we safe here
um ta thee la
let me hide you
tickle your green flesh
um ta thee la
let me see you
close your eyes
come hum me to you
um ta thee la
let me bring you
to your knees
forgive the forest outside
the displacement

………………………………………………………………………*****

Tree Song
by Penny Sharman

In the Moluccas girls gather
when their blood flows,

girls gather when warm winds
blow their sarongs,

yellow blossom sings
Molucca Molucca.

Molucca brings girls to gather
when their blood sings,

when clove-trees blossom
their scent calls girls to sing,

as blood flows girls sing,
wind blows under sarongs

and yellow blossom calls
to them in the Moluccas.

……………………………………………………………………..*****

Fraxinus Excelsior
by Penny Sharman

All the trees are on fire.
My eyes hit the lingering leaves,
a parade of amber rockets the heart.
A canopy of artillery, bullet brilliance,
fireworks of the forest.

Ash groves are sacred, are in the blood
of the land. Yggdrasil, a mythical giant ash
harboured all life and when seeds fall to soil
wood mice can banquet. Light filters through
spaces between leaves as bluebell, butterflies
and purple orchids dine. Its white bark home
to lichen and moss.

As satellites orbit planets
13,000 `sputniks` have become junk
capturing the earth in a communication bubble.
Viruses explode out of thin air
and Chalaral Fraxinea is virulent,
certain to bring death to our trees.

……………………………………………………………………..*****

The Injured Owl
by Jim Bates

Miigwan Martinson worked as a technician at the Minnesota Raptor Center on the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus. She was gazing out the window talking to her idiot boy friend when she saw a compact car pull up to the curb, skid on some ice and bump to a halt. On the phone, Frankie was going on and on about how sorry he was that he had fooled around with that slut Jasmine, but Miigwan had pretty much tuned him out. She was watching as a skinny old man with a scraggly beard got out and went around to the passenger’s side. He opened the door and took out a bundle. There was a flurry, and she saw a head pop up. The head of a great horned owl.

“Screw you, Frankie,” Miigwan said, “Don’t bother calling again.” She clicked off and stuck the phone in her back pocket just as the guy and the owl came in the front door.

“Hello, welcome to the Raptor Center,” she said walking toward him and smiling her greeting, “I’m Mia. Looks like you’ve got a patient for us.”

“Yeah. Hi. My name’s Greg. Yeah, I found him by the side of the road west of here near Long Lake. I was out for a walk, bird watching, and found him by the edge of the forest. It was snowing so I wrapped him in my parka to keep him warm,” he spoke rapidly and was clearly flustered.

He was also reluctant to let go of the owl. Mia could see that. She also thought it was nice, really, that he felt so attached to the injured bird. Sizing up the situation she said, “He seems very comfortable with you, Greg. Why don’t you hold on to him, and let me make a quick call.”

“Okay, that’s good,” he returned a quick smile, calming down a little.

A moment later Linda Zen picked up and said, “Hi Mia, what’s up?”

“A gentleman just brought in an injured great horned owl.”

“Okay. Bring him back right now. Hurry.”

Mia hung up and said, her voice urgent, “Let’s go, Greg. Follow me.” She led the way through a swinging, double-wide door, down a gleaming hallway and into a brightly lit room.

A short, stocky, no-nonsense woman was waiting. “Let’s see what we’ve got here.” She gently took the bundle from Greg and lay it on a spotless metal table. She gently pealed back the parka and began studying the bird.

While Linda carefully checked over the big owl, Mia turned to Greg, “I’ve got to help out here. Do you want to wait?”

Ignoring the question, he asked, “What do you think is wrong with him? Is he going to be all right?”

Linda paused in her examination and looked up, “I think his wing is damaged. I need to check him out some more.”

“Oh, no,” Greg frowned, clearly upset, “He’s not going to die, is he? Please tell me he’s going to be all right.

The lead surgeon of the Raptor Center cracked an encouraging smile, appreciating the old man’s concern, “Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure he’ll live. He’s banged up, probably hit by a car, but he’s a strong bird. I think he’s going to be fine. He just needs some TLC, and we’ve got that in spades here, don’t we, Mia?”

Mia grinned back but didn’t say anything. She was in the process of ridding her mind of Frankie. The guy was a loser. Why she had bothered wasting the last three months of her life with him, she’d never know. What she did know was that owls were signs of many things: imminent marriage, sudden travel, a guest arriving soon, mental distress and impending death, to name but a few. Mia understood all that. She also knew owls could stand for good fortune and that’s what she was going to go with. Dumping Freddie would be the first step.

Mia had studied birds extensively throughout her young life. Her first name, Miigwan, in fact, meant feather. But birds were more than a hobby to her, they were a calling. She was an Ojibwa from the White Earth Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota. She was nineteen years old. She was in her second year of college, majoring in Wildlife Biology at the University of Minnesota. She had a good job at the Raptor Center and worked with good people, Linda Zen being one of the best. Every day she learned something new. One day she hoped to be doing , something meaningful with her life, like what Linda was doing, working on an injured bird and performing one of the many steps required in bringing that bird along the road to recovery.

She even got to meet decent people like the old guy who brought the owl in.

“If it’s alright with you both,” Greg interrupted her thoughts, “I’d like to wait around for a while.”

Mia smiled at him, “That’s great. I’ll take you back to the waiting area.”

Linda spoke up, “Hurry back, Mia. I’m going to need you.” She gazed lovingly at the large raptor, the biggest owl in North America, “This looks like a two person job.”

“I’ll just be a minute.”

Mia got Greg settled and was on her way back to surgery when her phone buzzed. She took it out of her pocket and glanced at the screen. It was a message from Frankie. She grimaced and shook her head. She went to contacts and deleted him. She was done with the guy. Then she hurried off to help out Linda. The owl was going to live and she was going to be able to help with the first stage of its recovery. It was looking like it was going to be a really good day. In fact, a great day, especially now that she had an injured bird to take care of.

…………………………………………………………………….*****

I Walked into the Trees
by Geraldine Ward

I walked into the trees,
my heart a lonely forest of misgiving.
Into my own personal wilderness of pain and thankfulness.
A spiritual journey of healing and life lessons,
taught by mandrakes, wood pigeons and fireflies.
These prophet trees exemplify wisdom and history.
From the ancient weeping willow tree,
they seek universal balance and harmony,
through pain, tradition and creativity.
Together whispering harmoniously,
calling to pull myself together,
return the freedom and resistance fighter
I truly am.
After meeting with the trees, they are like a council of male elders,
exercising both shrewd judgement and condescension,
the willow weeps a muted wail.
In between slugs, snails, and beasts of burden
continue with my initiation.
I crawl up every gnarled branch set before me like witches caves.

When I finally appear, refreshed from my walk,
I know that I am ready to take on the world and that trees can both walk and talk.

………………………………………………………………*****

The Treehouse and Crazy Mary
by Mark Hudson

Doug said back in the sixties,
he was on a TV show as a kid,
called the Tree House, where
they’d show preschoolers
Playing with sand, climbing trees,
and they had a four foot replica
Of trees and they’d show the kids
climbing it and duplicate it
on film so it looked like they
were climbing a tall tree.
It was right next to the Bozo show,
and they’d be so jealous of the kids
who got to go on the Bozo show.
Then there was the story of crazy
Mary. Two little girls went home
From school to eat lunch at home,
and when they got home, crazy
Mary was inside the house cooking
lunch for them. She cooked lunch
for them and they ate it. As soon
as the parents found out, that’s
when people started locking their
doors in my hometown. But nowadays,
In my hometown, you’re very lucky
if your house hasn’t been broken into.
Or your tree house, perhaps. Although,
Bozo the Clown and crazy Mary
Probably had a lot in common…

………………………………………………………..*****

Bonsai
by Lisa Reily

Two women twisted together in an overgrown garden,
turning and turning over one another, tangled
in roots and words. Hard green stems like leather bind them:
the pungent smell of yellow weed flowers
and sticky seeds of grass cling to their unshaven legs.
Smiles attached to their faces, with fistfuls of cash,
they spend their love until it runs dry;
then suffocate in the loss.

The strawberries in her mother’s garden are white and hard;
those that are ripe are swiftly eaten
without thought for anyone else.

A daughter tied tight with wire, coiled relentlessly round and around,
to stop herself from growing, from breathing,
from living;
her crumpled heart thumps fiercely inside her, to leave, to change;
but she cannot.
She is a shrunken version of the self she once was, the self
she was meant to become; the golden-haired child
snipped and carefully potted.
Starved of love and food, she is in control;
but the wire squeezes her
smaller yet.

White-blonde hair on a tiny, bent body,
swamped with rings and chains of gold; a huge, gilded mirror
in which to find herself. Her mother
calls frantically each day in a frenzied to-and-fro of who called who;
who loves the most, cares the most.
Who should suffer the blame
for a lifetime of hunger. Gorging on food
that cannot be swallowed;
words that can never nourish her.

She breathes, craves her own garden; breathes,
the morning dew on the leaves of a lemon tree;
breathes,
to grow and flourish, to feed an acre of plants with water
and to feed herself,
all the life and love and words she never got when she was little.
But an acre is not enough.

It is just a dream among other dreams
that will never bear fruit.
Her wasted heart and mind held in a cycle of repetition; mother
and daughter
stuck
in the monotony
of the same conversation.

………………………………………………………………………….*****

In Ashlyn Woods
By Clare Crossman

Take some recycled corrugated iron,
lichened covered, from decades of use.
Some wooden planks to build a wall
and some French windows that were
never fitted. Use tacks to cobble them
together. Remember an Edward Hopper
painting of the East Coast where storms
have weathered all the homestead beams.

Close to the trees and the wind’s book,
in the early sun children can swing
on long ropes or laze in hammocks
hung between each trunk.
Under the awning make an open fire
for heat, light, a kettles’ smoke and rattle.
Surround the circle of the hearth
with second hand armchairs.

This is a parallel world, an ancient geography,
hay bales and hazel branches frame it,
in a grain of somewhere other.
Later bees will come and lying
in the long grass you’ll leave your shape,
beside the pond, on the small island,
where you drew breath,
among the berries, bird song
and the sky reaching of white nettles,
where the woods led you.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,*****

Hillside Trees
by Ed Ahern

There are just a few days for hillside trees,
before the dust-mottled green of summer
and the brown-black boles of winter,
when each tree’s shade
shimmers through fresh spring rain
and proclaims itself unique;
and again when thick summer sap
thins enough to bare the pale jades,
brief intervals when their voices are heard,
not in Grand Forest chorus, but in haunting arias
that end perfectly and too soon.

………………………………………………………………*****

Fungus
by Alexander Hamilton

Henry walked the dog to where his wife had said that a strange outcrop of fungi had appeared. She had commented on a spicy aroma in the area and wondered if it was the fungi. It seemed unlikely but in the great outdoors who knew? He spotted the fungi just where his wife had said, sprinkled over the needle litter under some Spruce trees.

There were several hundred, each no bigger than the head of a drawing pin, spread about under the trees in clumps, looking just like an aerial photograph of a series of settlements.

Henry was not immediately aware of a spicy smell and looked about to see what else might have been the cause. He picked a tuft of the tiny toadstools, and cupping his hands, sniffed deeply. All he could smell was the usual earthy smell of toadstools and mushrooms.

The dog tugged at the lead wanting to carry on and brushing his hands against his jeans he let the dog pull him down the track.

Over the next few days Henry kept an eye on the fungi, watching to see what their next stage might be. Molly his wife had been unable to smell the spicy odour again and had dismissed the toadstools from her mind. Every time Henry passed them he stopped and gathered a few to smell, until one day they weren’t there, every toadstool had disappeared. Henry scuffed the needles with his foot expecting to see decaying fungi but there was no trace of them at all.

Henry began to feel breathless coming back up the hill with the dog and commented to Molly that he really must be out of condition to be so breathless after so little effort. She eventually persuaded him to see Doctor Johnson, but after a thorough check up, the Doctor could find nothing wrong but ordered an X-ray of his chest just to be sure.

Doctor Johnson phoned him to tell him the X-ray results were in and he would like him to come to the surgery for a consultation. It was with some trepidation that Henry arrived for his appointment, his breathing had worsened and just climbing the stairs to bed had become an effort. His Doctor told him to sit in front of the lightbox while he clipped the pictures onto the frame. Henry was pleased that his Doctor still used old technology; he always found looking at a small computer screen more confusing than helpful.

‘Well now Henry, what you have is something that is causing a shadow in both lungs see, there and there, with no particular definition. Now I’ve shown these to my colleagues and we are all agreed that it’s not a cancer, which will be a huge relief to you and your wife, however we do think you should go for an MRI scan to give us a clearer picture of what it might be, and because of the rapid onset of this condition I have arranged for you go directly to the hospital from here. If that’s alright?’

Henry could only gulp and nod.

‘Good then my secretary will phone your wife and perhaps she can meet you there. I’ve arranged for an ambulance, which,’ here he leaned sideways to look out of the window, ‘is waiting at the door.’ He walked to the door with Henry, and shaking his hand wished him a safe trip, and remarking to the driver to ‘take it easy.’

Henry was relieved to be put into a wheelchair upon arrival at the hospital. He was not so pleased when having changed into a set of scrubs he was left sitting in a small alcove, he felt very much like an NHS cliché, patient abandoned in wheelchair and forgotten about. At last it was his turn; he found the clanking and thudding of the machine very disconcerting and wondered whyever it needed to be so noisy. ‘All finished,’ said a smiley nurse, ‘the results will be sent to your consultant in a few days.’

Molly met him in the waiting room and helped him change, and back in the wheelchair she pushed him out to the car. As they drove home she said, ‘I have been thinking about your problem and wondered if inhaling something like ‘Coopers Balsam’ would help open up your chest a bit, it works with heavy colds.’

‘I think that’s worth a try, I can be doing it whilst waiting for the results.’ So that evening Henry sat with a towel over his head breathing the scented steam of

‘Coopers Balsam’, he wasn’t sure if it made a big difference but felt that there had been some easing of his chest.

That night Molly slept in the spare bedroom to avoid as she said, disturbing Henry, though in truth it was because Henry disturbed her. In the morning when she went into check on him she found him dead in the bed with the bedclothes all tangled from his struggles. She could see that there was nothing she could do, so phoned Doctor Johnson with the news. He said he would come straightaway and would phone the undertakers for her. The Doctor was unable to discover the cause and said that the autopsy would give him a better idea of what had led to Henry’s death.

Doctor Johnson decided to attend the post-mortem, it had been a strange puzzling case and he would be pleased to get to the bottom of it. The Pathologist was very thorough, and found nothing outwardly untoward; it wasn’t until he excised the lungs that he became excited. First he sniffed them and invited Doctor Johnson to do so too. They both agreed that there was a slight scent to the lungs, very like ‘Coopers Balsam’ thought the Pathologist, but the Doctor couldn’t think why; he had not prescribed anything like that.

With considerable anticipation the Pathologist cut open a lung and stepped back with a cry of surprise. Doctor Johnson leaned in and was just as amazed. The lung was completely full of small fungi, and the odour of ‘Coopers Balsam’ was very strong. The other lung was cut open and the same thing found. He and the Pathologist were completely dumbfounded, there was no point in Googling this symptom, there would be nothing in the medical literature. It had happened so fast, Henry had been alright at the hospital and for this to have come on so quickly meant that another agency was involved.

Doctor Johnson phoned Molly to find out if he had done anything different the day before. As she explained about using a steam inhaler he realised that it was the warm moist air being inhaled that had prompted a growth spurt. The conditions created were ideal for the toadstools; dark, warm moist spaces were just the thing. The Pathologist was taking lots of photographs and talking about looking at ways of preserving the lungs, and planning a series of lectures he thought he might call ‘Tales of ‘Oh My Goodness!’. His official conclusion for the Coroner was Fungicide.

………………………………………………………*****

Wid
by Charlie Gracie

When Bob Hendry was a boy, Saint John’s Wid was filled with ash and birch.
His faither and him, they caught deer on straw-tied butcher hooks,
hung a hook on a birch branch, for a beast to grab and strand on,
its back legs tip-toing, dribbled with blood, on the soft moss.

After the war they scraped the deciduous life away,
filled the airy space with larch and spruce, a sparse dark death of a wood.

And now, the open wound of harvest
nothing but the stubble of trunks

Time.

For a new planting.

………………………………………………………………………………..*****

Vermillion
by Leela Soma

Leaves fall down, blown away in the autumnal blitz
Gold strewn paths crunch and crackle underfoot
A single vermillion leaf like a teardrop stands proud
Defiant, blood red, life courses through its veins.
The widow looks askance; the blood red leaf sends a shiver
An awakening of the day as her sindoor on her forehead is wiped away
The bindi, the dot, the point at which creation begins, negated forever
The jangle of broken glass as bangles are crushed, ornaments discarded
The white sari envelopes her shroud-like, a colourless palette
A life of the walking dead bereft of feelings, love or emotion.
Vermillion turned to ash, grey, unassuming as the leaden skies.
The blood red leaf trodden under the walker’s brisk steps
A lifeless mess of veins traces its lineage etched on the path
Submerged, in the brown heap of dead leaves.

……………………………………………………………………..*****

The Kibble Palace
by Leela Soma

Glasgow’s Botanics, a green scene with flowers bright in summer
A Victorian concept cherished and restored in the West End
In my homesick mind I made the glass structure my own.
Inside, the banana tree with its broad fronds, stood erect,
the tiny fruits in bunches, hung together, a dark green, in tight clusters.
The warmth was a welcome respite from the cold, damp and grey outside.
Transported to my sub-tropical home, I savoured, nay, devoured the surroundings.
A home from home, my skin warmed in that heat, the familiar plants of areca,
turmeric, and whole palm trees huddled in the bright space
Well cared for, nurtured, protected from the harsh winter outside.
These tropical plants transported me, to the brown mother earth of India.

‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’ -The whole earth is a family

…………………………………………………………………………*****

Terza Rima: Sequoia Redwoods 
by Shari LeKane-Yentumi 

Ascending from forest to skyscraper heights
where the rapping of woodpecker tapping its sting
drains the sap from the canopy’s dizzying sights;

age told in straight lines and concentric rings,
changes imposed and still bending with nature,
organic geometry squatted by wings;

humid and lush, yet improved by firm stature,
in summertime heat, pushing up and so strong;
having more than survived two millennia, glaciers,

and fires consuming the West Coast in throngs;
Babylon towers through a planet of seasons
and reason for legal protection from wrongs;

harm to their lives is an act of  pure treason –
gargantuan monuments of yester-year –
and proof that their stake is not only just pleasing,

but truly a lifesaving gift to endear;
a rarity now, but then, will they endure?

…………………………………………………………………………*****

Clotty Tree
by Susan Castillo

Ribbons,
Scarves ripple in
Soft incantations round
my Clotty Tree, spin love charms, make
magic.

………………………………………………………………………….*****

Drawing Scenery Using Pencils
by Johanna Boal

With my pencil, I will draw a tree
and if I like it, draw another, then another
till I have got a forest on the floor of a valley.

I will keep all the tonal characteristics;
light will change, shadows shifting, weather conditions.
An ageing tree will be my viewpoint.

Branches snarled, make for an easy climb
as my feet and hands feel the patterns and textures
bark, bird’s nests, leaves, broken shells and new growth.

Trees enjoyable decorative qualities, their role in describing form,
and just for boldness I will put a river in – curving
in line and movement of those twisted branches.

………………………………………………………………………*****

Demeter’s Veil
by Bethany Rivers

The bath has been removed
to make room for a walk-in wet room –
the long red eye heater gone
and so too the three door mirrored
cabinet which multiplied and split to infinity.

The old pair of poplar trees has been taken
too, the sun now sets over housing estates
with only one tree left. I think
it could be ash, though there are no
keys left hanging.

The TV blares from dusk to dawn to noon,
no breaks for films or documentaries
quizzes or cartoons –
the shopping channel’s stolen her soul.

The sun misses the poplars’ long finger
shadows elongating side by side,
sharp flat edges of house roofs offer
no mystery or relief from what’s to come.

………………………………………………………………………….*****

Biographical detail
by Alison Lock

Only the tenderest gaze.……………… can know

the meaning ………………of the rings……………… the marks

…………..of each season ………………….your hardships

recorded within…………………… a cylinder of bark

……….a circle ……………..distilled …………………….into grain

scars ………………………….new shoots ……………….the years

you didn’t make it ………………..full circle

…………..we’ll never know ………………………………the secrets

held in your sap ……………………now left

…………………… to seep ……………………..into earth.

………………………………………………………………..*****

See the Ravens Smile
by Alison Lock

There is a pool of light created from the droplets of rain
that forms a mirror on the woodland floor reflecting
the leaf-fringed sky – not a ripple is kept for its own pleasure,
nor wrinkle when its soft silt mouth is rilled in the breeze.

Gazing in awe at the light filtering through the scant gaps
in the darkest heart of the forest, it will sometimes falter,
but with grace it will face the leafy tops with upturned lips,
inhale at the sight of the perfect silhouette of the ravens

whose black tail-coats trail as they spread their long-fingered
wings to carry their fables to their doubting young.

…………………………………………………………………………*****

The Last Clogger in Clun
by Jean Atkin

Jim Lunn on his motorbike first thing, still loving
its rattled roar, splits
the morning, raises the quick birds out of the hedges.

Jim with his blue eyes wide over the white road down
to the Onny
a river’s wind that bends a five mile forest

of alder in two lean lines. The thirsty trees, their feet
in water, paddling the banks,
running their roots in water, swimming their seeds

down Onny to Teme. He parks the sidecar
in grass, on a cant
and unstacks tools – Jim at forty, before the war.

In a sloping field he breathes the raw of orange billets
cut with the grain. He nods
to Gaffer with his eye for an alder, settling

In the kind trees free of knot and straight of pole.
Jim on the one end
of the cross-cut saw, cutting blocks with a mate

sweat in the eyes, the alder turning
white to rust.
Jim rives his clog blocks in the brightening air –

11 inches for the men, 9 inches for the women
7 inches for the lads,
5 inches for the kids. And from upstream, change coming.

………………………………………………………………………*****

Black Prayer-Flag
by Prerana Kumar

I ran into
The forests two streets
Away
When it happened

Spoke to the ripe vines
Nestled Under the solitary Banyan
Split- lipped
Said it looked like My mother’s heart Slept – dreamless under the red prayer flags Drooping from branches
One – fallen where a limb
hacked away, sat twisted

We have both lost
Life, it whispered
I woke, sweat-drenched – We have both
Lost
The wind carried
Ash warnings and the smell
Of embers
Run
, it whispered

I left as the red flags
Danced and turned black –
Mr. D’Costa’s imported matches
and
Carelessness rose
As a Black Swirling Pillar
I looked back –
Said it looked
Like my father’s
Hands

My family did not understand
Why I kept the fallen prayer-flag
In my pocket
Did not understand
Why I wept for the Banyan
Every time
I left The house

We both wanted
Survival and
The people we lived with
Never heard
Us

……………………………………………………………………….*****

birch bark circle
by Lillo Way

seven times I washed against grit
against pumice with my seven bark-
strip sisters I can’t remember if you
ever knew my sisters

seven months swept us singing
singed by shells surging with tides
a minute in a minute out I’m probably
exaggerating by seven or so seconds

my sisters slipped from our trunk
white sheath ivory chemise divided
into two and each of those two into two
and two again except for me I stayed one
do you know what I mean when I say one

I was tossed up to seven stars
fell to the shore where you found me
sisterless sevenless seamless round of bark
seven eyes cut into my skin don’t worry
they don’t hurt anymore

you stacked seven books on the white shelf
and set me stranded still singing
beside them please underline stranded

………………………………………………………………………*****

The Orange X
by Michelle Deines

A tall maple
stood at the foot of my childhood driveway.
Guarded all comings and goings,
watched over bicycles, cars,
black cats, brown dogs,
and held its arms high all year,
green hands open to the sky
until the season changed
and they closed,
drooped into gold and brown from the frost.

There was an X
sprayed in orange paint
on the bark of the tree.
A big X, rounding with the trunk,
just low enough for me to touch.

It had been decided
that the tree was to be cut down.
Many trees had already been cut down
and that maple grew too close—
it could topple, damage the roof,
think of all those leaves to rake.
My father had sprayed the X
to mark the point of incision.

While the other trees were cut down
and the land was cleared,
my father left the maple.
While he laid the foundation,
raised the walls, shingled the roof,
the tree remained, marked
for the axe.

My father never cut it.
And when that tree returned to life in spring,
it was greener than every other,
when it shaded us in summer
the shade was cooler.
The leaves that fell in autumn
were the best piles to jump into—
because what would there be
if the tree was gone?Nothing
except a broad stump
that my sister might stand on,
might count the rings of the wood and ask
Daddy, Daddy, why did you cut it down?

……………………………………………………………………….*****

Family
by Rob Walton

Her mother was proper hungover. She herself was proper hungover.  so it went a bit wrong. and it went a bit right.  something about a basket and some bread.  Well, she looked but the breadbin was empty. There were some Doritos and some just a bit out-of-date humus. and a 250ml bottle of ouzo that had been in the cupboard for thirty years. Or so her mother told her that one time she wasn’t hungover. She wore the red Mario kart hoodie and instantly regretted it. She tied it around the tallest tree thinking she’d get it on the way back.

whoever heard of roadworks in a forest. But roadworks there were. she followed the diversion and in the distance thought she saw a wolf spinning one of those stop-go signs. She went in and out of the trees and stopped a few times and finished the Doritos and the humus. She had a little conversation with herself about whether the packaging was biodegradable and for ease told herself it was.  so she nestled it and the basket in some leaves and had a little wee in it. She knew that accelerated the composting process so must be a good idea.

She thought about opening the ouzo but had it in her mind that it was for sharing so kept a hold of it and walked and walked.

The caravan was once in a clearing but was now in a messing an overgrowing a scratching and a right little shitheap. She got a bit of a surprise when she saw the door handle was covered in fur. no, to tell the truth, she wasn’t surprised at all. she nodded and went in and sniffed and sniffed again. Her grandma had clearly been at the drink and once the ouzo was over she would have to take control and get them all sorted out on that front.

How you doing she asked and I mustn’t crumble was the answer as it always was. This was followed by the not three bad routine and something about it’s the hope that keeps you going or does it kill you. She was sounding a bit rough so red offered her a drink of the ouzo as a little tonic and she hesitated before saying yes. That hesitation was when red really knew there was a rabbit off.  that and seeing her grandma’s leg poking out of the little showershitter room.

She poured a third of the ouzo into the wolf then swung the bottle smartly against his chops and gave him a right good telling off.  she went over and gave her grandma a third of the bottle, then untied her and gave her a proper bollocking. She finished the bottle herself, had the smallest of sicks and wished she’d bought the Campari as well.

The three of them had a group hug, only they’d never call it that. They agreed things would be different from now on and they’d each look out for the others. They ruffled some hair and fur and went their separate and wrong or right ways.

…………………………………………………………………….*****

Nymphoma
by Tessa Foley

My buttons talk to the girl in the Earth, she is smiling
With her stuffed otter startled and
Locked in glass case with berries and twigs.

Lonely in the forest with a cur, Maybelle gives a truck
A money for its run and come and come she does
Ball bare feet on the hotty soil,

I heard her when she sat and wrote a letter, allowed it to
Be a ‘ Doo- Dear Ron Ron’, and gone was he next,
Her text as blister blue, who do you suppose she is?

Sat, pretending to be comfy on wet bark that passes
For a bough, cow clumsy but facewise benign and shining,
And in the off moments, pre-raphaelite graceful,

She’s got reality dirt on her clear, coned nails and unfurls
Posing pictures, there are clicks and she swears
At her hair, skull cooking under fronds of misunderstood wig,

All belief that this summer fruit is winter in the park at the top of Tea Pie,
And some cry because she might never stumble again,
Some were men, some were boys as they found her mud tracks.

But she’s back, flickering in amongst the beeches, pages,
I think I catch her eye from time to climbing, feet on sideways
On a midget tree and me, she sees me.

…………………………………………………………………..*****

Black Pigeon, Whiter Noise
by Tessa Foley

He took the toys down from the trees – the ones the older boys had tossed by the strings,
He took advantage of the ladder that the neighbours left singly slouching on the garden fence
And climbed higher than himself to stop his mother going mad,

She’d only notice empty hands when they came home and out of his sleeves, she might even cry,
She’d been doing that at him since he was three, he never knew why scabby knees were worth so many tears
That weren’t his own, he didn’t know it was because she thought she’d failed his father,

He’ll never quite be disappointed because he died in an accident’s arms with the wailing in his ears,
He’ll always be one note of essence in every corner of the house he left them with one or two assets inside,
Doesn’t pare down the worries of his wife or bring any heat to this mother’s pulse,

She misses him, yes but her lightbulbs take longer to change since he was sluiced from her elderly days,
She finds that a bother, she’s cross with a world that would leave her heart beating when no one is there
To fit her new catflap, the old one sticks and poor ‘Mr Whiskers’ sometimes gets cold,

He sits in the tree, watching birds, with green gums and he runs if a toy is thrown into his space,
By its strings, though he’s keen to return and bat at the threads till someone’s takes notice and welcomes him home,
He’s okay alone, but he’s stalking tomorrow which, there is hope, will bring something more.
…………………………………………………………………..*****

In the Hoh
by Rosemary McLeish

I’m sitting under a giant
on dry dead moss
as if in a vast
comfortable chair,
with a bird going phweeee
somewhere behind me,
a buzz-saw of a bird,
a tree-felling bird;
and a grunting,
could it be bear or elk,
or a large grumpy
photographer finding
his backpack too heavy,
his shoes too tight?

A hoary old tree
that takes me to
the same old story:
fat, misshapen,
wearing the gory
mishaps of its life
for all to see.
Moss colonises
broken branches,
lichen droops,
wrinkles, lines, warts
distress its bark,
a cancer or two
add their bulk.

I am becalmed
in an ocean of trees,
young, old,
tall, bent,
skewered by lightning,
blown down in storms,
smashed to red cedar chips.
They remind me
of a vast and various
rush-hour crowd,
hurrying, eyes down,
over Waterloo Bridge,
but here in the Hoh,
with every wound a blessing,
every frailty shared,
the forest folds in on itself,
both the photograph
and the photographer.

The sun comes out,
spotlights the giant
in its glory of golden green,
host to hundreds –
whole lineages of plants
growing on its branches,
mosquitoes feeding sumptuously,
birds’ nests giving
sanctuary to chickadees,
chickadees singing
in the hanging gardens of Hoh.

……………………………………………………………….*****

Blossom Trees Dreaming
by Rosemary McLeish

Mum’s magnolia sheds half its petals
onto a flower-bed. Bedding plants
pop up pale blue and purple heads
from a pink and white pond,
water lilies in a painting by Monet.

The dogwoods’ heraldic flowers,
green, cream, white, dotted so delicately
amongst the sparse leaves, turn the trees
into dancers in a ballet full of space
and froth, swaying gently in the breeze.

The triumphal arbutus shows off its
pale flowers as if to say: “You thought I
was magnificent, with my red trunk and
contorted branches, my dark green leaves
adding some colour to a winter’s day,
but hey, look at these babies!”.

Streets and streets of ornamental cherries
join branches in glittering arches
so pink and dense you can’t see the sky;
and the fruit trees, in orchard gardens, white
and peachily frilly, the limes with their
drooping yellow flowerets like miniature
bunches of grapes, and all the variety
of exotic trees, put on their Sunday best as I
drive through the blue-skied mornings.

Although all this is as true as me sitting here
in this old armchair at the end of the day,
tomorrow I will walk down the nearest
“No Exit” street to the sea to feast my eyes
on the wild dark waves and the wild dark pines,
on the rocks and the herons,
the otters, the seals, the eagles –

and the blossom trees will be yesterday’s dream,
forgotten like party dresses discarded on the beach.

…………………………………………………………………*****

Dystopia
by John Scottie Collins

The Wimba tree had protected Morag from the heavy overnight rain. She awoke, in the dappled sunlight that filtered through its wide leaves and as she listened to the shrieking of macaws and parakeets in the green canopy above her, she felt lonely and dispirited. She had entered the forest, the previous night, to escape the militia patrol which had been pursuing her and although she had succeeded, she knew that the soldiers couldn’t be far away. Her younger brother Andy had fallen into their hands two day’s earlier and would by now be a prisoner at their base in Kirkcudbright. She needed, somehow, to help him escape. It was imperative that they rejoin their comrades; the Peoples’ Front rebels, to continue the fight against the brutal regime of the Provisional Government, but at eighteen, and having left school only a few months before, she was filled with doubt about her ability to help her brother. How could she reach Kirkcudbright through twenty miles of thick, trackless rainforest? How would she penetrate the militia base, guarded by well armed and experienced soldiers?

Morag was roused from her reverie by the sound of movement in the undergrowth at her feet. As she watched, a twitching, bewhiskered snout emerged from the leaf-litter, followed by a short body covered in soft chestnut-brown fur. The creature was no more than four inches long, and it showed no fear of her as it investigated the laces of her boots. Morag recognised the little rodent, it was a bank vole. She had never encountered one before, but she was a wildlife enthusiast, and had seen several old photographs of these charming creatures. They had once been common in Southern Scotland, but rapidly rising temperatures over the past eighty years, had destroyed much of the native broadleaf woodland, which was the species natural habitat. After the coup of 2108, the Provisional Government, which was composed of military officers, bankers and industrialists, had made swingeing cuts in public expenditure, to finance tax breaks for its wealthy supporters.This had put an end to conservation schemes designed to preserve endangered wildlife. Morag realised that the harmless little creature could be among the last of its kind in this part of Scotland.

A century ago Galloway had been a wildlife haven but the climate-change catastrophe had taken its toll on native species. The only mammals that seemed to thrive in the rainforest were rats. The sight of the little vole doggedly trying to survive in this hostile environment filled Morag with hope. It brought back memories of the days before the coup; before her parents had disappeared in an early Provisional Government purge of liberals.  Life had been so much better then. Ordinary people had been able to openly express their views, elect governments of their choice and dismiss politicians who failed to live up to their promises. The efforts of the small animal reminded Morag of a story her father had told her when she was a child; the legend of Bruce and the spider.

Robert Bruce was a fourteenth-century king of Scotland which, at the time, was under English rule. He wanted to liberate his country and fought many battles to achieve this, but he was continually defeated. After the sixth defeat, he fled the battlefield and hid in a cave on a remote island. He was in despair and was contemplating abandoning his dream of Scottish independence. However, in the cave, he saw a spider hanging from a thin thread. Every time it tried to reach its web it fell to the ground. It tried again and again and each time it failed, but it didn’t give up. At last, it succeeded and Bruce learned the lesson. He recovered his lost courage, gathered his army again, and finally defeated his enemies.

The bank vole was Morag’s spider. If this vulnerable creature could survive in a hostile environment, so could she and the things she believed in. She still had no idea how to affect her brother’s escape but the doubts in her ability to achieve this had vanished and her confidence had returned. She rose with renewed vigour and began the long journey through the trees to Kirkcudbright, Andy, and the Peoples’ Front freedom fighters.

…………………………………………………………………..*****

Dead Wood
by Pat Edwards

To come upon a great fallen tree is always upsetting;
I imagine like finding a grey dusty elephant
hunted for its ivory, laid low, in the wrong plane.

I’m sure this one would have fought the rising gusts of storm,
until a weak point somewhere in its flaying arms and core
gave way with awful creaking cries.

Now still and long, no longer tall and reaching,
its upended jagged bowels make inkblot shape
against the far horizon sky

which I frame in my lens, capture and hold dear.
There is beauty in the blackened spreading imprint,
a kind of conservation as tree slowly decays to earth.

…………………………………………………………..*****

How to Climb a Tree
by Paul Waring

Shin up cat-like. Seek out sycamore,
beech or oak — any big-boned bugger
with trunk to hug.

Watch squirrels do the job. The trick?
A sharp-fingered grip and well-sprung
heels. Shimmy up floor by floor —

climb, rest, climb, rest. Swing. Let
the inner monkey loose. Pop your head
through leafy roof. Take it all in.

Make yourself at home. Squat —
stuff what they think. Be ridiculous.
Refuse to come down.

………………………………………………………….*****

Fools in Love
by J.A. Sutherland

Two lovers in a misty coppice
……sat among the stubbly stumps
of the Hazel’s trunk and kissed,
…….illuminated darkly by
the waning harvest moon.
…….All afternoon they’d cut
and trimmed the wood,
…….confident that a seemingly
sacrilegious act
…….would do no harm,
since Hazels have been attacked
…….in this way for some four
…………thousand suns whose
……warming rays could then bring
bluebell, primrose, campion
……to the copse’s springtime bed.
Their day’s work done,
……they kissed again, but did all this
in ignorance of that tree’s
……ancient wisdom. The sap
was seeping down into
……the thirsty earth, the tide flowed
further out, and the moon
……drifted deeper into shadow –
shameful of the lovers’ foolish ways.

……………………………………………………………………..*****

Tumbling my fingers
for Odet
by J.A. Sutherland

We sat beside the Hazel
……bush for hours – days –
talking, talking, taking, ’til
……there was nothing to say.
At first our conversation
…….twisted in and out like
a Bach 2-part invention,
……then wove together as a basket.
Your language, although not
…….your mother tongue was nut-full
of wisdom, inspiration, love;
…….a beautiful philosophy
…………nutritious as a Hazel seed,
…….while my emotion blurted
out incontinent my need
……to share my story with you.
You held the talking-stick;
……I patiently cupped my ear
with my hand like a shell.
……After, we sat silent, still.
You searched for the expression
……‘twiddling your thumbs.’
How I longed to hold you
……in that silence; to tumble my fingers
with yours, my story left untold.

………………………………………………………..*****

A View From Carsick Hill
by Linda Goulden

A once green city, twined about the curving banks of rivers, grows
until green spaces are confined to hollows in a grid of railway lines.
Cobbles and yellow walls come interlined with brick and tarmacadam
and curves are city-simplified to lines laid down in concrete
to protect the motor from pedestrians as traffic filters into lanes.

A city, any city, cathedral quartered, virtuous at heart, may find
that greed prefers a virtual reality. Where hungry vessels undermine,
then deep roots break and branches wither. A frail canopy remains.
A city which remembers coal, steam, furnaces, may yet forget
how fumy lungs struggled to breathe. The city cuts its own airline.

Hearts fail, confined to hollows in a grid of highway lines.
The wheezing city claims its sacrifice of trees. A mercenary
army marches through the avenues and lanes. The city
covers up its ears, however, many women sing of leaves,
however, many green men shake their beards.

…………………………………………………………..*****

The Waiting Station
by Aditya Shankar

The half-burnt cigarette waits for the stranger
at the public waiting station. It craves for your

lips, your kiss, much like a half-burnt face. The one
who lighted you up, left. Your love, unfinished and

broken. Ashes, embers, and waiting. Tell me, isn’t smoke
your black tears, levitating against pain? A tanned hand

with bangles of rain, waiting to jingle on your estranged
lover’s skin? When I find you, smoke is a sign language

that beckons me. I lick your butt and fill your wounds.
I have seen you in full bloom above the factories, the

speeding driveways. An alien with sky high tentacles,
a Godzilla out of the magic lamp of industrialization,

ready to gobble up the city. We do not run away.
When we swallow you, a tree of sorrow grows within.

Within its deep forest, we remember you like a poem
of paradoxes. You record trail marks as wheels kissing

the soil. Fear of death, the act of kissing a stranger’s
grave. We kiss your half-burnt lips, sweeter for poison.

You open your lips, the third eye of humanity, of voye-
urism. Shiva dances on those flames, a gutted lover.

Lord Shiva, a principle deity of Hinduism.

…………………………………………………….*****

Into the Trees
by Will Harris

He’d go to the woods, among the carrier bags and the beer cans and the mud, whenever it happened. The shouting, the slamming doors – it was too much, too loud. He’d go down the stairs one step at a time, leave as quietly as he could and visit the trees that bordered the motorway.

It wasn’t the house-shaking, godly clap of every door that chilled him, but the stillness of the silence afterwards, the tangible shuddering of the air. If Dylan escaped before his parents stopped, he could cope. He could let his parents’ arguing slip behind him. When he reached the trees it was almost like, with his final step, he was snuffing out the last ember of the row himself.

He stopped them once: appearing halfway behind the living room door, not as tall as the door handle, red-cheeked and eyes thick with tears.

“I – don’t – like – it,” he clucked, sobbing. His parents stared at him, stunned; their anger, so magnanimous a few seconds before, was shamed in the presence of innocence.

“I’m sorry little man,” Dad said to him, crouching and smoothing tears away with his thumb. “Let’s get you back to bed.”

Mum watched on, left clutching a shred of rage; she wished she could’ve comforted Dylan first.

Dad put Dylan into bed, lifted the duvet to his chin, spoke softly and stroked his head until he stopped shaking. In the morning, Mum apologised to Dylan too.

♦♦♦

The playschool teacher seemed genuinely sympathetic.

“Dylan’s quite quiet most of the time, but he still plays with the other children,” her eyes dropped from Mum and Dad’s to a spot on the floor, like she regretfully watched something fall there. “But then he does something like today. What’s he like at home?”

“A happy lad,” Mum said with some self-assurance.

“Yeah,” said Dad. “He’s always happy talking to his cars.”

Of course Dylan was always happy talking to his cars. His cars could drive into the vast hidden caves beneath his bed; they could move unseen through the canyons made between rumpled bedsheets; they could abandon the floor and roll up walls and table legs. Dylan’s voice would narrate the adventure: he’d describe the terrain, state the destination; the driver and co-driver would share with each other the wonder of all they could see. He’d get lost in his own voice, run away with it; run away from the silence.

Other people’s voices were more complicated. He liked it when other kids spoke to him, told him stories, asked him things. When adults spoke to him he could feel uneasy, but not distressed. The problem with other kids’ voices in particular was they could be so much more unpredictable. “So what exactly happened?” asked Mum.

When Dylan had been playing with his friends that morning, he quite enjoyed the dog impressions at first.

“Wwwoof,” said Tom.

Dylan’s face brightened. “Wwwwoof,” he ventured.

“Woof woof,” Tom said.

“Wwwoof woof,” Dylan replied.

Alfie joined in: “Wwoof! Woof!”

“Wifwif!” squeaked Chloe.

“WOOF WOOF!”

Dylan was losing control of this.

“WOFWOFWOF!”

He covered his ears.

“WOOFWOF!”

Spoke to himself louder and louder.

“WOOF!”

”WIIIIIF!!WIIIIIIIIF!!!”

Screeching, shouting – everyone was screeching or shouting.

“WIIIIIIIIIIIF!”

He ran at Alfie with a wooden brick in his hand, “STOPSTOPSTOPSTOP!” and struck Alfie’s face. He got three in before the teacher intervened.

After telling the story, she continued.

“Is Dylan aggressive at home?”

“Never,” Mum and Dad said, in chorus.

“Well, sometimes kids just go through phases like this. We’ll keep an eye on him and see how he gets on.”

♦♦♦

Three days later, another argument. Dylan’s behaviour was brought up. It was Dad’s fault, Mum shouted.

“I think we all know where he gets it from,” he replied.

‘It’s my fault,’ Dylan thought, sitting on his bed, head between his knees. ‘I’ve made them argue again.’ He never meant to hurt Alfie, it just got too noisy and he got afraid. He always worried that it was him who made them argue, and now he knew it. It was his fault.

He slowly took his hands from his ears, lifted his head. In the corner, where he parked his cars, he collected three favourites. In his hot palms they felt cold, but familiar. Safe, like a totem. He put them in the front pocket of his hoodie.

Flat-footed, he padded from his bedroom to the stairs. The arguing through the wall got louder – “YOU don’t spend time with him!” – and Dylan felt heat rush to the sides of his head. He wanted to curl up again. Shaking, he continued down the stairs to the front door. The bristles of the doormat pierced his socks, but he pulled the door handle down with both hands and left without closing it.

The air felt cool on his skin compared to the space-heater stuffiness of the house, and though the slabs felt wet on Dylan’s feet, it was just the cold. He felt along the outside wall. A door slammed now; a smack and the sound of a bowl spinning on its rim. Mum raised her voice again.

He crossed the concrete yard and knocked the latch off the gate. Tightrope-walking along the edge of the damp dirt path he followed the cut to the woods. Mum and Dad were really roaring now; he could still hear them when he reached the ashen spot where teenagers or whoever had made a fire. Normally, Dylan escaped his parents at this spot – the distance, the trees and the rush of the motorway drowned them out – but he could still hear them. The traffic shushed beyond the trees, like never-ebbing waves.

Dylan put his hands into his front pocket and clutched his cars. “Let’s – let’s go on an adventure,” he whispered to them. His voice steadied him, and he described the scene as he toddled through the trees, down the embankment, to the hole in the fence, to the motorway.

…………………………………………………………………..*****

Lake of the Pregnant Woman
by Mark Blayney

They rise like trees, these rocks from the sea.
Stacks on which, if you look closely, eagles perch.

Watching them swoop – for what, fish?
Travelling makes you realise how little you know,

a pleasurable feeling, reminding
of gulls on Cardiff Bay, beadily eyeing

candy floss, chips. They cling on black railings,
claws pulling paint from steel,

and inch along to the unsuspecting.
Then pow, a scatter of chipped chip,

howl of toddler, consoling mum
less sure of herself as she ducks from a wing.

Rail-holding this boat now, its drunken yaw
hypnotic, I smell that chip packet,

realise it’s engine oil. There she is, a voice says
as the rocks line up. Can you see her head, her belly?

We spot nothing, then as in those multicoloured headache
pictures that used to be all the rage, she appears.

We stare in respectful silence – this was the point
of our three-hour trip, three more to return.

As we’re wondering what to say, the line-up,
as careful as a constellation, goes out of phase.

Over there is China. If we stray – the captain waves a hand –
the Navy will appear. He doesn’t say whose.

Tips the wheel, makes for the unmarked space. The boat
chugs. Dares to go a little further, a little further.

……………………………………………………………*****

All the Better
by Finola Scott

Och I’m not scared
those woods don’t bother me.
Briar and bramble,
sharp resin and rose.

Dark & deep, folk said,
Stay on the path.
Well I didn’t and I’m safe
here with Granny. She’s
asleep – must have a cold.
Her snoring’s something awful.
Rough rumbles shake the house.

I’ll wait until she wakes,
just coorie in my new cloak.
Red, not like Mummy’s cheeks
but dark as my blood when I cut
deep

Dark & deep folks said.
But the trees chat to me, Come in
and play. They clack
their branches, wave green flags

Wolves some say.
Silly nonsense.
I wish they’d stop
telling me stories.

Previously published by Three Drops from a Cauldron

……………………………………………………………………………….*****

going to ground
by Mandy Macdonald

when i die
if you do not want to lose me,
you must dig me into the root-mat
of a colony of quaking aspen
already tens of thousands of years old
i will wait for you there

or slip me in
close under an ancient spruce, or
a bird’s-eye maple,
and i will become a violin
for you, in time
……………………………………………………………..*****

Totem Pole
by Nicky Phillips

sun on his back
back to the wood
wood to be carved
carved in the sun

s-c-u-l-p-t-o-r

story to tell
tell me your life
life on a tree
tree trunk story

n-a-r-r-a-t-o-r

tree with strong lines
lines being true
true family
family tree

a-n-c-e-s-t-o-r-s

future hope dawns
dawn of new life
life moving round
round the future

i-n-h-e-r-i-t-o-r-s

shame to be known
known too are debts
debts to be paid
paying off shame

t-r-a-i-t-o-r-s

 


Biographies

Peter J. King (b. Boston, Lincolnshire) teaches philosophy at Pembroke College, Oxford.  His poetry, including translations from German and modern Greek, has been published widely in journals.  His latest collections are “Adding Colours to the Chameleon” (2016, Wisdom’s Bottom Press) and “All What Larkin” (2017, Albion Beatnik Press).  He runs the “In the Pink” series of poetry readings at Pembroke College.  https://wisdomsbottompress.wordpress.com/

Lesley Quayle is a widely published, prize-winning poet and a folk/blues singer.  Her most recent pamphlet, Black Bicyclewas published in May of this year by 4Word Press. (see www.4Word.org.uk)

Maxine Rose Munro is a Shetlander adrift on the outskirts of Glasgow. Her work has appeared in Nothwords Now; The Eildon Tree; and Pushing Out the Boat among others. Find her here facebook.com/maxinerosemunro

Mandy Macdonald lives in Aberdeen. Her poems have appeared in Songs for the Unsung (Grey Hen, 2017), The Winter Solstice Anthology (2017), and in numerous other places in print and online, including Causeway/Cabhsair (2018, forthcoming),The Writers’ Café, and Coast to Coast  to Coast. She has recently been commended in the 2018 Vernal Equinox competition of the Federation of Writers (Scotland) and the 2018 Grey Hen competition. When not writing, she makes music.

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.

Susannah Violette is an artist, silversmith, musician and poet. She lives in the ´endless forests´ of Germany with her husband and two daughters. Nature brings its blood to her work. The animals within us and outside of us fascinate her.

Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer whose works appear in over 100 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa; 11 chapbooks of poetry – including Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014) and Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2017); and 18 anthologies. She has done over 200 literary readings, from Alaska to the Patagonia. For the several decades, she has been traveling through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.

Julian Bishop “I’m a London-based writer and started writing poetry after discovering Alice Oswald. For me, she takes writing about nature to an entirely new dimension and I’m keen to experiment within form and imagery as she does so brilliantly.”

Rachel Burns has poetry published recently in Marble Poetry, Fenland Reed, Head Stuff, Lonesome October, South Bank Poetry, Smeuse, Toasted Cheese and A Restricted View From Under The Hedge. Poems anthologised in #MeToo, Poems for Grenfell Tower and Please Hear What I’m Not Saying.

Miki Byrne has had three collections published and hundreds of individual poems.She has read on radio and on TV, run a writing group and performed her work in many places. She is disabled and lives in Gloucestershire.

D.L. Shirey lives in Portland, Oregon, writing fiction, by and large, unless it’s small. He has been caught flashing at Café Aphra, 365 Tomorrows, ZeroFlash, Fewer Than 500 and others listed at www.dlshirey.com.

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.

Alwyn Marriage‘s ten books include poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and her work is widely represented in magazines, anthologies and on-line. Formerly a university philosophy lecturer, chief executive of two international literature and literacy NGOs and Editor of a journal, she is now Managing Editor of Oversteps Books and research fellow at Surrey University. www.marriages.me.uk/alwyn.

Maggie Mackay has a fascination for family history which informs much of her work online and in printincluding a poem in the #MeToo anthology and one commended in the Mothers’ Milk Prize,2017.  Her poems have been nominated for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem in 2017 and 2018 and for the Pushcart Prize last year. Her first pamphlet ‘The Heart of the Run’ will be published later this year by Picaroon.

Catherine Graham lives in Newcastle on Tyne. She is published by Indigo Dreams Publishing. Catherine’s awards include the Jo Cox Poetry Prize.

Nancy L. Meyer Lives in the San Francisco Bay Area surrounded by redwoods, live oaks and skyscrapers.. Recent journal publications include Passager, Snapdragon, Caesura, The Sand Hill Review, The Centrifugal Eye, Colorado Review, Tupelo Quarterly. Among eight anthologies are Open Hands, Tupelo Pressand Kneel Downe’s Stolen Indie. Forthcoming in Wising Up.

Penny Sharman is a published poet and has an MA in creative writing from Edge Hill University. She has been writing for over 15 years and is an artist, photographer and therapist. She loves wild open spaces and loves to dance.

Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He had over two hundred poems and stories published so far, and three books. Ed works the other side of writing at Bewildering stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of five review editors.

Charlie Gracie’s first poetry collection, Good Morning, was published in 2010 by diehard, who will publish his second in early 2019. His first novel, To Live With What You Are, will be published by Postbox Press (Red Squirrel) in November 2018. His work has appeared in a range of journals and anthologies and been shortlisted for a number of literary prizes. Originally from Baillieston, Glasgow, Charlie now lives near Stirling.

Jim Bates is retired after working many years as a course developer and sales and technical trainer for a large manufacturing company. Since 2010 he has seriously been writing haiku, poetry, short and long fiction. In addition to CafeLit and The Writers’ Cafe Magazine, his stories can be found posted on his website: www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com

Geraldine Ward is an author and mother from Kent. Her publications include poetry in ‘I am not a silent poet,’ ‘The Blue Nib’ and ‘Bonnie’s Crew’. She plays piano and is learning the ukulele.

Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry and short stories have been published in several journals, such as Panoply, Magma Poetry, DNA Magazine and Foxglove Journal. You can find out more about Lisa atlisareily.wordpress.com

Leela Soma was born in Madras, India and now lives in Glasgow. Her poems have been published in a number of anthologies including The Grind, New Voices, Visual Verse, Steel Bellows( USA) Bangalore Review( India) and Gutter magazine.Author of ‘Twice Born’, ‘Bombay Baby’ and ‘Boxed In.’Poetry collections: ‘From Madras to Milngavie’  and  ‘Tartan & Turmeric.’Available on Amazon and Kindle.

Shari LeKane-Yentumi “I consider myself a modern formalist, addressing contemporary issues in poetic verse with a stylized language.  I currently live in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, and have published a book of poetry, Fall Tenderly.  My poems have been published in 11 countries worldwide.”

Susan Castillo has published three collections of poems, The Candlewoman’s Trade (2003), Abiding Chemistry,  (2015), and Constellations (2016. Her poetry has appeared in Southern Quarterly, Prole, The High Window, Ink Sweat & Tears, Messages in a Bottle, The Missing Slate, Clear Poetry, Prole, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Foliate Oak, The Lake, Algebra of Owls,The Yellow Chair Review, Poetry Shed, and other journals and anthologies.

Alexander Hamilton is a Property Maker, Mixed Media Artist and Accidental Farmer. Having spent his working life in the Theatre, he still needs to create. When not working at his bench, he writes poetry, some of which have been accepted by Forward Poetry, and short stories for children aimed at adults.

Johanna Boal lives in East Yorkshire and works in libraries. In her spare time, she loves to read and write. She is a published poet.

Bethany Rivers pamphlet, ‘Off the wall’, published by Indigo Dreams, (2016).  Previously
published by Envoi, Bare Fiction, Cinnamon Press, Riggwelter, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Ofi Press, High Window, Laldy and The Lampeter Review.  She mentors the writing of poetry, stories, memoir and children’s fiction.

Alison Lock is the author of three poetry collections, two short story collections, and a fantasy novella. Her latest collection of poetry is Revealing Odour of Earth(2017)  published by Calder Valley Poetry.

Jean Atkin has published ‘Not Lost Since Last Time’ (Oversteps Books), five poetry pamphlets and a children’s novel.   Her poetry has been commissioned for Radio 4, and featured on ‘Best Scottish Poets’ by the Scottish Poetry Library.  Her recent work appears in The Interpreter’s House, Magma, Lighthouse, Agenda, Ambit and Poetry Salzburg.  She works as a poet in education and community.

Lillo Way’s chapbook, “Dubious Moon,” is the winner of the Hudson Valley Writers Center’s Slapering Hol Chapbook Contest 2017, published in March 2018. She was twice a 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee. Her poems have appeared in Poet Lore, New Orleans Review, Tampa Review, Tar River Poetry, Madison Review, Poetry East, The American Journal of Poetry, among others.

Michelle Deines is an award-winning writer who works in multiple genres, including poetry, non-fiction, and drama.  Her plays have been performed in Vancouver and Calgary, and her poetry has been published in several magazines, including The Malahat ReviewContemporary Verse 2, and briarpatch.  Michelle teaches at theatre and writing at Capilano University in North Vancouver, Canada.  michelledeines.com

Rob Walton is from Scunthorpe.  His poems, short stories and flash fictions have appeared in various anthologies and magazines.  In 2018 some will be published by Popshot, the Emma Press, Atrium, Bloomsbury, Arachne, Paper Swans and Verve.

Tessa Foley is a writer originally hailing from Flitwick, a tiny town in Bedfordshire. She works at the University of Portsmouth where she previously gained her Masters Degree in Creative Writing. Published by magazines including Agenda, Antiphon, Dying Dahlia, Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review and Star & Crescent and recognised in the Verve Poetry Competition, Bristol Poetry Prize, Poetry Rivals Competition and long-listed in the 2015 National Poetry Competition, she also won the Live Canon International Poetry Competition in 2013, judged by Glyn Maxwell.

Rosemary McLeish is an outsider artist who has been writing poems for about 20 years now. Some of them find themselves becoming works of art and some have been published in anthologies and magazines. She lives in Kent and is currently writing a book of memoir, ‘Not Doing The Ironing’.

John Scottie Collins was born and brought up in Scotland. He writes short fiction and has been published in print journals and online magazines. He is a retired social worker and now lives on the Wirral, near Liverpool in England, after travelling in Spain and Portugal for several years.

Pat Edwards is a writer, teacher and performer from Mid Wales. She has been published more recently in Prole, The Curlew, Ink Sweat and Tears, Magma (due this summer) and Deborah Alma’s #Me Too Anthology. Pat runs Verbatim poetry open mic nights and curates Welshpool Poetry Festival.

Paul Waring is a semi-retired clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and was a singer/songwriter in Liverpool bands. His poems have been widely published in print journals, anthologies and online magazines. Paul’s blog is https://waringwords.wordpress.com

J. A. Sutherland is a writer and performer based in Edinburgh, widely published in pamphlets and online, producing work in a variety of forms, and on a blog, throughtheturretwindow@blogspot.com

Linda Goulden lives in close sight of trees and water, in an edgeland within reach of two large cities. Her poems have appeared in magazines, on line, in anthologies and among the trees of Grinlow Woods and Dove Stone Reserve.

Aditya Shankar is an Indian poet, flash fiction author, and translator. His poems, fiction, and translations have been published widely. Books: After Seeing (2006), Party Poopers (2014), XXL (Dhauli Books, 2018). He lives in Bangalore, India.

Will Harris is a writer and journalist, dividing his time between fiction and non-fiction. His topics of interest include mental health, gender politics and social justice. He lives in Salford, Greater Manchester.

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

Mark Hudson is an American poet and writer, who has 50% ancestry from England, thus the name Hudson. He has had poems published online, in books, and internationally. In England in particular, he used to publish sci-fi poems in the English sci-fi newsletter “The Handshake,” which since has gone out of business. From there, he discovered Atlantean publishing U.K. and it’s sister publication, Tigershark Magazine U.K. where through both he has had some luck publishing.

Prerana Kumar is a final year English student at Durham University. Her poetry revolves around love, loss and a healthy dose of nyctophilia.

Clare Crossman lives outside Cambridge with her husband. She has published three collections of Poetry with Shoestring Press Nottingham. The most recent The Blue Hour was launched in January 2018. She is currently making a film: Waterlight about the chalk stream which runs through the village where she lives.

Finola Scott is published in The Ofi Press, Obsessed with Pipework, And other Poems and  Clear Poetry among other places. Mentored by Liz Lochhead on Scotland’s Clydebuilt Scheme, she recently read at The Edinburgh Book Festival.

Nicky Phillips has recent poems in The Curlew, SOUTH, Picaroon and Snakeskin. In 2017 she had poems nominated for the Best Single Poem category in the Forward Prizes and for Best of the Net.  Her first collection, Jam in Aisle 3, was published by Dempsey & Windle in 2018.


 


13 thoughts on “The Writers’ Cafe Magazine – ISSUE 11 “Into the Trees”

  1. Hello Marie. What a wonderful issue! I’m especially impressed by how moving and well written many of the poems are. I feel I will be returning to them often. I’m also excited that you choose to include my story, “The Injured Owl,” with all of the other fine stories. Seriously, I feel honored to be in the company so many amazing writers. Congratulations on this issue and here’s to success in issue #12.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Hollow | DL Shirey

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