The Writers’ Cafe Magazine – ISSUE 13 “Elements”


elements (1)

Flood
by Paul Waring

Semi-dark by noon, the promised
storm had begun to steal light
as our labrador panted unease—
wide-eyed, ears pinned back,
tail pulled tight for protection.

We heeded forecasters’ advice—
gathered in gardens objects with
potential to fly: washing on lines,
childrens’ toys, cushions, delicately
placed pots. 

Widow-black clouds massed
before lightning flashed hairline
fractures. Then drum-heavy thunder
cracked open sky; sent a million
shards, tension-released, to drench

open-mouthed oak and sycamore
leaves in seconds; a bullying
deluge that swamped drains,
bounced up from empty streets,
stone kissed clean as new statues.

That night the river’s swollen belly
spilled into tide that surged along
town streets. We watched it seep
inside neighbours’ homes, helpless
to stop its ugly flood into ours.

……………………………………………………………..*****

It’s Easier To Add Than Subtract
by Paul Waring

The mirror reveals evidence—
another layer applied overnight.

Sleep digested elements: excess
fat, carbs and booze churned 

into insulation to expand space
between soft tissue, skin and bone.

Each New Year and spring
the promises to tone up, trim down

lose some cladding, get buffed—
ready for beach inspection.

………………………………………………………..*****

A Pack Of Lies
by Paul Waring

Everyone carries white ones
for emergencies; hankies to cover
out-of-the-blue issues: excuses,
reasons not to, mind-slipped birthdays,
anniversaries. And few can resist
open-goal opportunities to embellish
a rumour or twist what really happened.

Lying is an elephant-in-the-room
trait next to no-one owns up to. Like
not so silent farts, the air is thick
with them. Parents tell whoppers:
the bogeyman, tooth fairy and Santa Claus.
Mine convinced me I was found
beneath a gooseberry bush.

Some become addicted; crave
the taste like booze, fuse elements
of fact and fiction; chef-up fibs
without flinching, dine out on deceit.
Others are simply strangers to the truth—
not that I fall into that category—
but don’t feel obliged to believe me.

………………………………………………………*****

Thunder Storm, Midsummer’s Day
By J.A. Sutherland

On and on, all day long, on the radio,
on Facebook and twitter –
even my mother was wittering on
about the heatwave all day – while
in our Northern City the sky was grey.
Sure, the sun came out for High Tea,
if just to suck the mist in from the sea.
The dampness sat around the summit as
the last high rays teased through the clouds,
and dark wet spots appeared upon
the pavement like early-warning signs
or Rorschach blobs on a chest X-ray.

In the short time it took to pick up
a fish supper and a bottle of wine
the rain-smell turned from petrichor
to a full-blown salt ‘n’ sauce downpour:
birds went silent, fish were jumpin’ high
and as for cats and dogs: who can say!
The Scots have more words for rain
than Eskimos for snow – so they claim –
so why does this daggling pelsh
catch us all so unawares, scudding down
like stair-rods stottering off the tarmacadam?

We are not used to vertical precipitation.
Umbrellas of Edinburgh are as trivial
and short-lived as the Ark was post-diluvial,
but on this still, windless, ventrically-static
day, the Standard Lifers on their way home
from their daily sentence suddenly panic,
pulling their dull grey jackets over their heads,
trying to tiptoe through the separate raindrops
as if their pinstriped suits could fool the fall,
or blinkered eyeletted brogues dodge the sump.

“It’s pure peltin’ doon” some might say,
or “pashing, right enough,” but either way
the reported heatwave from London Town
hasn’t made it to this Inspiring Capital
that lives, for eleven months of the year,
off money and, one month, from a Festival
that creams off cash from those who pour
not rain but life-blood into performing
to people unconcerned with global warming.
But I digress: on the hottest day of the year
(by which I mean in London, not here)
since 1976 (that is, since ‘records’ began)
faced with a peculiar weather phenomenon
we feel a little bit cheated, not over-heated.

This should have been the longest day
when hippies sit beneath an elder tree
and await the King of the Faeries.
Instead, the rarest of meteorological
occurrences (for us) is happening.
For all my adopted Scottishness,
I realise this is one weather-type I miss
from my former southern land
(although my name is Sutherland.)
Locals are having to explain to children
this strange, new energy, as if we’re in
some frightful, inexplicable apocalypse.

Dear children, it is as simple as this:
in Scotland, we are born pessimists.
When asked, “And how are you today?”
we answer, “Och, nae bad,” emphasising
the negative as a neutral base-line –
god forbid we utter, “Oh: I’m fine!”
It’s not that we favour mediocrity,
or have nothing to be thankful for,
but if your starting-point is the dank,
dark soil, no matter how you look at it
when the ground is drenched and drookit
the only thing it’s left to give is growth.

Unless, like me, when the storm is over
the strong smell of the sea reminds us – if this
pleural dreich continues – the oceans will cover
the land with far more than Scotch mist:
prophets or profiteers, bankers or poets
will all be levelled as water and washed away.
Whatever the weather, or words to describe it,
Scots will always draw upon the darkness,
like Presbyterians pre-occupied with guilt,
or Catholics trapped in original sin.
No sooner we’re done with the longest day,
it’s true to say, the nights are fair drawing in.

…………………………………………………………….*****

Walking on the Water
A Sequence of poems based on Antony Gormley’s installation, 6 Times
by J. A. Sutherland

……1. Humility (Figure I – HORIZON)

……Summer

……The Tarmac softened
……I sank deep into the ground
……Head-and-shoulders proud
 

…..Autumn

……Leaves patted my head
……Stroked my pate until it shone
……With condescension

…..Winter

……Under a white sheet
……Sealed in a stone-cold pavement
……Regal: rusted gold

 ……Spring

…….Sap seeped up my back
…….A child looked me in the eye
…….My shadow shortened

………………………………………………………………*****

In Tallgrass
by Jayne Marek

Indian grass above my head—childhood
memory of freedom in the prairie
remnants in small-town Illinois—when we
children, just finished with school in June, hid

amid the soft yet prickly expanses
of undeveloped land on a hilltop.
We crouched and crawled, sunlight warming our scalps,
and our socks gathered fragments of dry grass.

We could not know how little time remained
for these open spaces, for the rabbits
and orioles, here where streets disappeared
in the sweet, heady aroma of dust
rising in endless summer afternoons—
doomed like the insects singing on our arms.

…………………………………………………………….*****

Moon and Sun
by Jayne Marek

Cut from glossy white paper
a curve of fish gill shines,
this scallop along the edge
of the sea forms itself,
gathering a rainbow
to throw ahead of its path.

When it sinks,
the bereft shore
simmers into disappearance,
ripples, losing themselves in dusk,
close their eyes too.

………………………………………………………….*****

Is There More Summer
by Jayne Marek

Could there be more summer than there is?
Those dying asters and gerberas
might have their heads lifted again
by the winds of passerine wings, arriving
in refreshed plumage, even their grays
and browns vibrant. Could come honeybees
zinging among cherry and plum petals
and the blossoms of all the apples,
for we want everything at the same time,
beans and fat new peas and squash climbing
together in late August light—
impossibly. For, like an escaped kite,
the end of summer flies from the open
hand that reaches to take but now can
only wave farewell, herding the birds
along, pulling up broken poppy-pods
from the garden dried thin or gone slack.
More summer?—the false hopes, the tricks
of swelling and growing lead to this
urgent effort toward autumn: that there is.

……………………………………………………………*****

Rendezvous with Nyx
by Virginia Bach Folger

Fly into the night sky
weave in and among the constellations,
trace a finger over Orion’s belt, nestle
in the scoop of the Drinking Gourd

Float into the shimmer
of clouds backlit by the moon.
Rest your spine along
horizon’s smudged black line.

Wait in this undiluted dark,
where creation reveals her,
the goddess of night,
wrapped in veils of shadow.

She paints the sky with darkness,
trails stars behind her chariot.
Zeus quakes in fear of her beauty,
watches in awe of her power.

……………………………………………………*****

A Few Amazing Stars
by Hannah Stone

At dusk, they align in a diagonal,
Venus, Mercury, Mars, burning craters in the greenish sky.
It is so cold the night holds its breath.

Firelight dapples the room.
A chaotic cradling of sea and sky
bursts from the turned pages:

Conrad’s captain sees a multitude of flashes
on the starboard beam and a few amazing stars dropped,
dim and fitful, above an immense waste of broken seas.

When the typhoon is over,
I look out at the night.
My bright planets are tangled

in the trees’ rigging.
Above them, the tail-lights of a descending aeroplane
wink at their waiting.

……………………………………………………..*****

Granite City
by Hannah Stone

Greedy for granite,
we dig the biggest holes in Europe
in Aberdeenshire quarries,

where it glowers like thunderclouds.
Slabbed in the kitchen, it is flecked with gems,
its dignity smeared with food debris.

But build with it,
see how it sparkles in sudden sunlight,
how the whole city lays down its sobriety,

and throws a party, with a million fairy lights.
Drink the bar dry
before the haar turns them off again.

…………………………………………………………*****

For Jacob
by Tom Langlands

On forest edge
to night’s dark silence
a unicorn is born
porcelain white
first misty breath
spiralling
round icy tusk
to blow a moon
float it high
climbing ladders
to Jacob’s sky

Lift your head
from Earth’s hard pillow
go live the dream
free your angels
trapped in myths
imagination
soaring unrestricted
needs no steps
to heaven’s gate
fly, go fly
in Jacob’s sky

……………………………………………………*****

Elements 
by Megha Sood

1. Fire
You cleanse
as you burn
the sins to ashes
the purification
and sanctification
ritual,
we are following
through ages.

We are touched by you
you scald and burn us
as a reminder
to the raging presence
ready to devour
our pity existence

You can turn
the existence of
a mighty
forest to
fistful of ashes or
can mark the journey
of two kindred spirits
touched by the
glow of your flames

You are within us and
and you encompass
us with your ever glowing
warmth
fuels our desire
keeps the life sprouting
consumes the dark

Fire, a reminder of the
raging desire for love
or of a women’s scorn.

2.Water
Cleanse your soul
wash away all your pain
dust off all your sorrows
breaks the hurtful chain

Take a dip in your beautiful memories
scrub the pain and hurt away
pop the bubbles of pain and anxiety
meet a new you every day

Water Oh! Holy water
you come in so many forms
you have no color, taste or form

Yet every time my pains get soaked
you slowly wash it off
and fills every crevice
with a beauty which glows

Floating away in your deep embrace
takes my pain light years away
the sweet calmness and stillness of you
makes me ponder what makes you, you

You are inside and around me
you are deep and divine
you shape the rocks around you
and molds the life you pass through

You shape a mother’s womb
gives it warmth and protection
to the life being formed
a life’s companion

Water Oh! holy water
you define us

though Shapeless and tasteless
still, a mere reason for our existence.

3. Earth
A mother
where we come from
to whom we return
you nurture us
protect us in the
harsh of the conditions
and feed us in the womb

With your groves, plains, and garden
the lush green arms
encompassing the mountains
and the river
quenches our thirst
keeps our vigor

Those changing seasons
a beauty undefined
each one is a
the carrier of the life,
so generous and benign

You are a symbol
of crops and fertility
those rivers and stream
and gushing waterfalls
proves your agility

Donning the lava
burned metal so pure
your wrath can
rise new mountains
can shake us to core

You are the Gaia
formed from the
primordial gel
you lie somewhere
between the
heaven and hell

Oh! Mother nature
no one can surpass your
generosity;
you nurture and keep
us in your cradle
while we humans
are sucking and corrupting
you with all our monstrosity.

4. Air
As we Inhale you
and exhale
the pain out
with every heaving chest
you make your
existence feels aloud

Without you,
we are gasping, choking
and our existence
fades away into oblivion

Without you we just a pile
of muscle
and bone
you make us all human

When you move gently
and grazes a lovers cheek
the poetry flows
out of a poet’s lips
and that’s how
a lover speaks

You enrage
and brings the wrath
to us
the cyclone and the tornadoes
stirs every iota of life in us

You are a harbinger
of that sweet
aroma
the nature hides
you are only sign
that within us a soul resides.

You work in tandem with water
to carry our love through
Air, my sweet air
what would we do
without you?

5. Sky
The spaces between us
and spaces within us
we are breathing each other
the boundless sky
where we let our dreams fly
face to face
within the hatchery of stars
it carries the fire
earth and water
and we feel
divine within us

The spaces between us
and spaces within us
the ten doors
our soul
makes the exit from
and becomes one
with the divine

The spaces between us
and spaces within us
boundless as our dreams
bright and spangled with
our hopes
you surround us
and encompass us

We are within you
and you are
within us.

6. Elements
My soul without the love
an empty poem
Stripped of its beauty
with metaphors
but nothing to compare with.

My mind
with it’s tangled thoughts
ricochet between the doubts and the certainty
almost sure of the day
when nothing will begin and everything will end
a journey towards Oblivion.

My skin
devoid of the healing touch and showered with the wet empty kisses
you plant every day on my cheeks
it bears marks of time
sensitive to even the pain
when the time shrugs its shoulder
and the moment end
and my skin still waiting
for that healing touch
fervently to suppress that pain.

My love
a dream too real
conjured out of thin air
like the magic potion
will heal everything
and that magic elixir
will resurrect me from my darkness
of bone and Ash
my love enough to be real
to be felt with my fingertips
and too surreal
so I can feel the pain
when it leaves my body
gently as it glides
to live in the dimension
separate than mine.

My truth
a reality too hard to gulp down
your empty throat.
when the reality cuts the dreams
with its serrated ends
and stripped off all its frivolity
it stands here naked
stripped
staring and gazing at you
with its bloodshot eyes
when you feel shameful
to hold it’s gaze.

So when the pain sits deep inside my
barren womb
like the dead lilies
knotted and tangled together
like the pain of the stillborn
where time eats time
you try to define
my mind,
my soul,
my skin,
my love,
my truth,
/my elements/
pulling and molding it together
to give it a shape and a form
and you realize
how wrong you were all along

…………………………………………………………..*****

Come Rain Or Shine The Show Must Go On
by Gene Groves

Nothing’s as miserable as a wet tent.
I look for a thumbnail of blue.
None, rain, more rain.
Grass squelchy as a rotting cucumber
we pick our way from the wagons to the Big Top.
Madame Souvain’s performing poodles
are carried like crowns on velvet cushions
to the circus ring. No dainty paws wet, no mud
no flies on them either.
Zandra the Serpent Summoner
won’t let anyone touch her darlings, her scaly beauties
says we upset them.
She’s smothered in scarlet satin
Styx, her oldest, trailed around her like a feather boa
his head lolling on her shoulder.
Snakes don’t mind the rain, just slips off them.

I walk by the ropes, see water make the canvas dip.
Later we’ll feel that weight. It’s no picnic pulling down
and packing away a sodden tent.
Our act has no animals.
We have skill.
Born with it, passed down.
I’m an elemental,
air, the cool swoop of it strokes my skin
soft as the sable brush for my make up.
The crowds love the beasts
but we make them gasp.
Tonight, our audience will be steaming,
damp sweat mingling with the stench of lions,
but all I’ll savour in the spotlight
is the whiff of infinity
as every bone in my body screams fly! fly!………………….88

……………………………………………………..*****


Bardsey Island [Ynys Enlli]

by Gene Groves

Fluorescent orange, pelican life-jackets
nudge our chins
as we spill into an inflatable boat,
head for the Highlander. Her engines thrum,
fumes overlay the spray and I breathe uneasily,
watch the wake fishtail behind as we slew to harbour.
Atlantic seals slip through the shallows
to rocks,
keen at the world’s edge.

Sheep cough as we tread over old bones
of 20,000 pilgrims, formerly saints.
There’s chat of cranio-sacral therapy,
chakras, magnetic fields, meridians,
and lapsed Catholics eye Christ on the cross
the Latin text on sorrow,
talk of the Tenebrae,
going into the shadows with Jesus.

On the mountain a ruction of guillemots startle
and two grey stones
become plump chicks
unwind their legs, run for cover.
We see the twining of tides in the sound
cross-currents between Mynydd Enlli
and Braich y Pwll.
They say no one swims these two miles of quietly seething sea.
Enlli translates as isle of eddies, tides
makes sense of our search for meaning.

……………………………………………………..*****

Amber Lagoon
by Susannah Violette

my arms turn the amber of assam
my legs darker still, steeped
at one with the rubber bodies of fish
and slick jellied stones
that change their appearance with the light

they bellow ´Odin!´ maybe his one eye
sees their devotion
props up their muscles in the cold
they deluge themselves in like storms
thundering one after the other
and the lagoon surprises itself with matching fervour

cringing, my costume dappled like the day
I say nothing and slip in like ice on ice
speechless like a woman might be these days
silent and still doing, I stroke the water
like a goddess even, silent and still doing
I stroke the water

………………………………………………….*****

The Night-Song of the Fish
by Susannah Violette

In the deep water
moonlight speckles, drifts down

particles are breathed in
through fanned gills
acknowledged in the muscles
that bend and flex in response

the water rushes by, a whisper of melody
our bodies play and sway
this way, that

the stars fall upon our scales

our unsung story shines
from our open mouthed chorus
soars towards the tumbling surface
towards the hymn of night wings

the hum and drum of waters soft soul
ever changing, ever the same
Silently we sing through fin
through skin

open mouthed

……………………………………………………..*****

Chestnut
by Susannah Violette

have you noticed the half open umbrella
newborn, leaves of the chestnut?
they hang down like bats with their leafy wings cocked just so

my baby falls asleep satiated
her hands make the same shape
tipees of soft pink flesh, soft as down-turned lilies
forgotten in her sleepiness

ready to spread open when she wakes

I slide my finger into the socket of her palm
the heart of the leaf, centre of the flower
the tipi’s fire

she unconsciously grips it

a stick to burn, a first wand
to wave and command

her face flickers in a small flame of a smile
I rock her gently
her quiet breathing whispers of her future self

a spirit spire
moving heavenward
like a twist of smoke

……………………………………………………………..*****

Straw-Bed
by Susannah Violette

I felt the softness of straw for the first time
it laid me down as nature´s perfect bed
It smelt of summer and the kink of fire

I am a woman with horns
my lips are blackened and I carry an axe
my tough boots sink well in
and come out hollow

where my feet were naked
I painted vines upon them in henna
it does itch to feel them growing
I scratch them with a dagger

I dig in hoof-like toes for balance
unlaced my leather clothes, my linen
I pant rhythmic smoke like a demon

the straw beds me, a yellow lover
opens me out like a squash blooming
like a blunt sword it pokes my chest
and blindly, my thighs

did I mention my bow? Its crescent laid beside me
I am like an Amazon waiting for the moons blade
to slice my breast

I prepare with patchouli and mascara
silver studs me all over and I
fan myself with turkey feathers

…………………………………………………………..*****

Speaking in Tongues
by Susannah Violette

sometimes, when

you sleep, you speak in tongues

I listen with my ears wide
and I know

tender places still intrigue you

I’m outside you
on the other side of our bed-island
my own duvet about me
throttling my body
grown fat on babies
but thin on love

shall I transcribe it?
Like an imprint of

my hand on your skin, shall I?

each word slurred
imagine! You could be drunk!

now I wish for wine
rich with the autumn fall
to redden my lips like a bite

…………..a fire in this bed is burning

Shall I transcribe it?

type it exactly as it is
with hammer fingers
on the ribbon of my phone
I might lie…

I am too round
too soft
too milky
too tired

the flames when it burns
are a forest, they are lava
they are the heart of a volcano

the bed, a boat in a firestorm
is indifferent
and heat is a turncoat
willing to lend rage or passion
it’s bright burning.

but here,
I have not written the truth down!

I described, paraphrased
so much is subjective

your voice is lost
in the mish-mash patterns
the myriad creases
the sentinel baby in our midst
demanding milk

I forget what you said

after all

maybe it was that you love me
only
in an unknown language

……………………………………………………*****

Glass Faeiries
by Stephen Shirres

Kirsty screams at the bright morning sun; a bottle of wine in one hand and a bouquet in the other. This is her anger and she will enjoy it with plenty of wine. The metal bangs against her teeth. She hurls the flowers into Hazel’s door way, twists off the cap and drinks. The rich, red, bitter liquid overwhelms her. She half coughs, half vomits the wine over the abandoned flowers. Stamping them into the rough pavement makes them perfect, broken. She’ll stick a photo on Facebook alongside the words “three years and over,” tagging Hazel.

Hazel sits with her back against her bedroom wall, her knees against her chest and listens to the post rush hour quiet shatter. In her mirrored wardrobe door, her tear-stained face looks back in silence. The words are within her but she can’t say them. She needs someone to say it for her. How Kirsty needs a mother, not a lover, someone who will come running whenever she is in trouble. Hazel won’t save Kirsty again. She promises herself she won’t. Not after the names and accusations. Hazel peeks through the windows and her tears. Only thin streams of red remain.

Kirsty needs more fuel. The only place open is Glass Faeries, Hazel’s favourite place. Faux French prints of alcohol wallpaper any blank space while little glass models of faeries fill the tables. Too posh for optics and brand name drinks. Kirsty hates it, always has, always will.

Inside a TV babbles out a daytime chat show. The only person watching is the barmaid, Hazel’s stupid friend Barbara, as plastic as a Barbie. “Oh, hi Kirsty. What can I get you?”

“Anything cheap?”

“Vladmir Vodka?” The Barbie doll selects a bottle with a stereotypical Russian cartoon face on the label.

“It is vodka isn’t it?” Kirsty’s sarcasm floods the bar.

Barmaid Barbie picks a measure, too small in Kirsty’s opinion, and delicately fills it with the clear liquid.

“I’d rather have the bottle.”

Barbie stops. “Would you like a bottle of mixer to go with your vodka?”

“No, I want the bottle of vodka and a bloody straw.”

Now she is being judged. Barbie looks as if she was about to take the bottle away. Kirsty can grab it first. She reaches across to prove she can. Barbie steps back. “That’ll be -”

“Take what you need.” Kirsty throws the contents of her pockets onto the bar. Scrunched notes float down between banging and bouncing coins. Barbie picks out three fivers and smoothes out the cringles. The back-and-forth clap of the stockroom doors announces her departure. The faint sound of mobile phone buttons echo over her footsteps.

Kirsty only cares for her vodka, a tasteless slug except for the after burn. The label’s face leers, enjoying her body without permission. She used to catch Hazel with the same look on her face and she liked it. Kirsty pours another drink and toasts the bottles of alcohol behind the bar. The burn returns, better the second time.

The contents of every bottle whirlpools. Faster and faster, the liquid bubbles. Kirsty’s bottle stays calm. Lids rupture. Some pop like champagne. Others burst their lids into rings of jagged teeth. From each one, a faerie appears. The same colour as their alcohol. They stretch before taking flight, swooping and swishing around Kirsty. A trail of giggles. Brushes of air against her face. She tries to keep all of them in sight. Her smile full of glee and happiness. True happiness, anger evaporating.

“Follow us,” they sing. “Follow us.” The faerie at the far end of the line dives into Kirsty’s bottle of vodka. Rest of them follow. The last one reaches out to Kirsty. Fingers, soft and thin as silk, pull Kirsty into the bottle of clear alcohol.

………………………………………………………….*****

Making Space
by Mark Blayney

You bought me a telescope,
gun metal cold.
Ever-optimistic, it scanned
for awe, the eye
ready for jewels as you leaned in.

I could see nothing
until you helped me. The blur
through the silver O became the moon.
Better than going there
this was real travel, skimming
ridges, mountains, blue hollows
and imagining seas, depths, clay.

My face half-cooled,
returned to Earth with silver spots
dancing above a raised head.
Like it? I nodded. Where shall we go
next? I looked at voids.
Jupiter. This took twiddling,
frowning, the occasional hmm.

It wasn’t as good, but it was there.
We may need a better telescope
one day. Some years later
you heard from the radio’s luminous green
a talk about multiple universes.
Imagine, you told me,
every time someone makes a decision

the universe splits in two
and a new world is created.
This comes back to me now
as we excavate the shed.
Tripod greened, metal flaking,
eyepiece cloudy. And I look up
to a quiet, extinguished universe.

………………………………………………………*****

Salacia
by Charley Reay

She sighs, retreats from shore

rain patter hollow on exposed sand.
Away from shore, in haphazard pools, life relaxes.
Seagulls wheel above, feathers ruffled by wind,
rain patter; caw to head back to shore.
She sighs at the antics of gulls
(the coast’s fools), at rain patter, at iron grey skies.

…………………………………………………………*****

The Spirits that Live in my Shepherd’s Crook
by Charley Reay

The ram whose horn was carved into the hook at the crown
Stubborn and wild, steadfast and cowed.
The farmer who’d wielded it, hiked across the highlands tending his flock.
Gentle and proud, threadbare and sound.
My grandfather, who stole the stick as a souvenir.
Forthright and outgoing, strict and all-knowing.
Heather and whiskey, rough-spun and savagery: Scots,
from the wood of the handle, from the grass to the stock,
to the bones of the object.

……………………………………………………………*****

 

The Wind Song
by Mark Connors

Unlike trees leafing up in spring, the wind
is always saying something. In autumn
it reminds us what it can take away:
leaves, birds, how it can fell a silver birch

with a whip of its tail, a garden fence,
which, when downed, speaks volumes of its owner;
a mirror to our loss and apathy.
It will nick roof tiles, let water seep in.

Sometimes, we think it carries voices
but it brings its own ghosts. They will sing,
echo in coves, whisper through marram grass,
recite their own sad shipping forecast.

It can morph into a beast with one eye,
wind up the seas and oceans
like an unpleasant uncle, say stuff
it can’t take back, things we can’t forgive.

……………………………………………………………..*****

Some Elements of Love
by Connie Ramsay Bott

She had fire in her eyes.
He was drawn to her
like a stray cat
seeking out the warmest place
to snuggle up.
His eyes were watery blue,
cool and calm, but fathomless.
She was afraid she would
be lost in them.

Still, you can’t help who you love.

Hearts merged.
There was smoke –
there was steam –
a sputtering transformation
for them both.
You’d think they would have seen
that their union was doomed.
Before long they gathered themselves up
and went their separate ways,
for a time more than slightly diminished.

Should we have tried to warn them?
Would they have listened if we had?
There is no point denying love.
It’s elemental.

……………………………………………………….*****

Water
by Connie Ramsay Bott

Once they realised it was a precious commodity

they began to appreciate it.
They carried it around in plastic bottles,
water fetched up from geysers and springs,
optional bubbles to remind them of the sparkling source.

They’d squirt it in their mouths
on the treadmill at the gym
while they watched the news on tiny screens
and sweated the virtuous sweat of physical labour.

They bought coffee flavoured water
at the coffee shop
in logoed cardboard cups
that they carried down the street in one hand
(mobile or laptop bag in the other.)

The beans grew in Africa
in the roasting sun,
were picked by women
who didn’t know coffee shops,

didn’t need treadmills
to make them sweat.

…………………………………………………………*****

Poem from a Burning Building
by Connie Ramsay Bott

Trust a poet to still be trying
to find the right words at a time like this.
Smoke fills his nostrils, stings tears to his eyes
and he keeps on writing
even as the heat scorches his paper
leaving edges curled and worried.
He’s waited all his life for a subject strong as this.
This Is It – poet burned alive, to sterile ash,
and the perfect poem exists for as long as it takes
the flames to devour it.

………………………………………………………*****

Smoke
Steve May

I gave up smoking when my father died.
Filled my lungs to burn the knots
of grief. Eight days in chains of smoke;
enough to know this was a final end.

Minutes and hours and days to fill
with silent sighs and stifled tears
and smoke to kill the space inside.

Do you want a fag? one said and then
another and another in chain reaction.
Sick of smoke; condemned to smoke.
Hard to breathe, but harder still to leave

that room of silent sighs and stifled tears,
in the house that life had left.
That room bereft, wreathed with smoke.

My father had a massive stroke.
A steady smoker all his life.
I gave up smoking when my father died.

…………………………………………………….*****

Races in Ballyferriter
by Pegi Deitz Shea

skies occluded
say forecasters
forever correct
weather stops
nothing
in Ireland

clouds shredded
by mountains
shed vapors
in sheets

on raucous fans
rocks and sands
and horses
thunder past
followed soon
by sunlight

……………………………………………………………*****

Plea
by Gill McEvoy

Help me, love, my mind is full of rain.
A storm of puddles lines the road
in weather only fit for frog and snail.

Jags of water on the windscreen’s pane
(like love that fractured long ago).
I can’t think straight, my mind is full of rain.

The fields are sodden silver, like the trail
love leaves behind when finally it dies,
in weather only fit for frog and snail.

Regret and penitence are all I have to show
in weather only fit for frog or snail.
I’m driving home just staring out at rain.

Forgive me everything, my dearest, please. I know
I bring you nothing but the rain’s adagio,
yet take me back. I know how much I’ve failed.
Accept contrition, manifest as rain.

…………………………………………………………………*****

Sadhbh’s Spell
by Michael Beirne

The moon is in Al Han ‘Ah,
And Spica is shimmering above;
Tomorrow will be Freyja’s day —
The good Goddess of love.

I’ve carved love’s rune from apple wood
And placed it where I lie,
And Venus will move towards my world
Ere dawn ascends the sky.

Yes! Tomorrow may be the day —
I have heard the prophets say,
When love comes your way,
You’ll know it:
Your stars and planets are aligned,
Your senses seem to feel sublime;
The seed of love is ripe to find
And grow it.

Three days she wore her rune,
And when Gemini and the moon shone
Down on the grove,
She gave it to a river wave.
Six times did she whisper a love refrain,
Till telepathy took them together.

Not out of the mystic he came;
But out of the ordinary weather.
And she led him to a land,
Of which it is said:

“There is a distant place –
Where they sow tears,
And reap pleasure.

………………………………………………………………..******

Water
Corren Hampson

I am looking for a way without passion,
where flowers speak for themselves,
and there is nothing one should do.

The way would be low: the way of water,
which doesn’t know SHOULD, WOULD,
………………………………..BAD, GOOD.

I want an easy way, where effort earns no respect
and lizards lie on warm rocks.-
A winding way, where mind meanders after dragonflies.
And mud is acceptable.

It is the way of blind old women,
and of babies too young to see
fine lines and corners.

And when religion has worn us
to a sharp edge, and we have won
gold metals for all our pain,
may we fall in drops of rain
off the limbs of trees,
into streams and puddles,
joining the mud, the rocks, the breeze.

………………………………………………………….*****

Elements of You
by Lizzie Jarvis

The sound that sounds like the
one your chair
used to make
in the room upstairs

The buttons on my duvet cover
still done up at the side
because you don’t like
the buttons at your feet

I cut off all my hair because I can
because you’re not here
I haven’t shaved my legs
because you’re not here

I don’t feel high or low
or womanly
or brilliant
because you’re not here

There’s a sort of resignation
in my breathing in and out
because
you’re not here

………………………………………………..*****

Reflection
by Jackie Biggs

Earth of light
sky of earth
(from Dancing the Siguiriya, by Federico Garcia Lorca)

The sky is on the beach,
all the blue heavens are there at our feet. 

Still and silent on a winter-weathered strand,
earth and space have contrived to meet. 

The entire sky is shining on the sand,
there before us, spread in front of our feet. 

The world is upside down,
someone turned it all around. 

Someone turned it all around,
the world is upside down. 

There before us, just in front of our feet,
the entire blue sky is shining on the sand. 

Earth and space have contrived to meet,
still and silent on the winter weathered strand, 

all the blue heavens are there at our feet.
The sky is on the beach.

 

Previously appeared on Jackie’s blog

………………………………………………..*****

The Hummingbird In The Storm
Karen Vail

A hummingbird clings to the branch,
He’s smaller than a single leaf,
The rain pours down in blinding sheets,
The little bird keeps holding fast.

His feathers turn from green to black.
He doesn’t flinch nor sway nor droop,
But throws his sodden feathers up
and out to shed the pelting drops.

He lifts his head up to the sky
As if to say the world is big.
The world replies with thund’ring voice,
I am. I am. I am. I am.

The little bird enjoins the world,
Can I survive? I am so small.
The whipping winds fling back these words,
Just try. Just try. Just try. Just try.

…………………………………………………………*****

Birth of Starman 
by Angela Kennedy

There is an old place inside here. 

I don’t realise that I know It well until ancient ancestors emerge from
its Shadows. They make me want to lick you.
Clean you up.
Stimulate life and mark you as my own.
I am caught in your almond gaze
Possessed by a beautiful gravity that connects us like a planet and it’s moon.
I don’t recognise you as I expected to
Yet in this moment I glimpse the timelessness of stardust.
I know this space we occupy and it is glorious.

…………………………………………………………*****

Meeting Mr Armitage
by P. A. Livsey  

I
You sat on the front row
at a Poets & Players pleasantry
I tapped you on the shoulder –
asked you to sign my book – of yours –
penned as you traversed the Pennine Way –
a twenty-first century troubadour

I’d trudged it myself in 2010 from south
to north – was it you I met on the way –
I was six miles into my trek –
you were near journey’s end

I’d descended from Kinder’s summit
breaching that membrane of weather
towards the flint factory at Mill Hill –

was it you – would you remember –
we’d met before on that blustery moor
that condemned us to slug’s progress
through a cascading curtain – the kind
you see in the distance – and know –
you don’t want to go there – even in
so-called water-proofs  – was it you –

half-hidden in your hood as rain threaded
along the Mill Hill way – I nodded
and wandered – would you continue –
the terrain was not for the fool-hardy

II
A Sogi Trimmer Man

…………………..he Strutted along a
……………………..wInd-swept
………………………..Moor
………………………cOnversing
.……………..the peNnine
………………………wAy
…………two hundRed & fifty six
…………………………Miles
…………..of paths Intentions
…..walker’s selecTions
……………….,,,,,not Aimless but
………………with a Goal
………. not to surrEnder

……………………………………………………………..*****

Don’t Slip And Fall
by Jim Bates

It was late February and sunny, with a temperature about fifteen degrees, as good a day as you could ask for to be outside. “I’m going for my walk,” I told Eve, “I’ll be back in half an hour.”

“Don’t slip and fall,” my wife called back.

She was in the kitchen stirring a pot of chicken noodle soup. It smelled good enough to keep me inside. Almost. I’m a little compulsive on some things and my late morning walk in the winter is one of them. “I’ll be careful.”

“It just snowed, you know. You usually fall at least two or three times a year and haven’t yet, so you’re due. Watch yourself.”

Snowfall had been intermittent this winter, so walking had been fairly easy. I opened the door to a blast of cold air, “I will,” I said, stepping outside. “Besides, it’s only a dusting,” I added, shutting the door quickly before she could caution me again. Hell, I was sixty-five and certainly old enough to know what I was doing.

Well, sort of. First off, it was more than a dusting, closer to an inch, so I made myself walk cautiously as I started out. Even so, I’d slipped once or twice by the time I’d reached the end of the driveway. At least I hadn’t fallen. Man, I really did need to be careful. I turned right and made my way down our quiet street, snow crunching underfoot, glad for my warm jacket, insulated boots, heavy mittens and wool cap. My wife’s words echoed like a bad mantra in my head, ‘Don’t slip and fall. Don’t slip and fall.’ It was hugely irritating, made even more so by the fact she was right, I usually did slip and fall two or three times a year. So I took it as a challenge. No slipping and falling. Not today.

Except I did.

I was rounding the corner at the end of the block, thinking about not slipping, when I stepped on clean patch of snow. Underneath there must have been a smooth sheet of ice because all of a sudden my feet shot out from under me and I fell backwards, completely air born. For a moment I hung suspended in space. I should have used that time to prepare myself to cushion my backside when I hit the ground, but didn’t. What I thought, as I reached the top of the arc and began plummeting toward earth, was this: Damn it. She was right again.

I smacked my head hard on the pavement. I wasn’t knocked out but, instead, ended up laying slightly stunned on the snowy street. A neighbor saw the whole thing and called Eve who drove over to get me. Then she hurried me to the clinic to get me checked out before taking me home.

She got me situated on the couch with a steaming bowl of her chicken noodle soup before sitting next to me. “I’m glad the doctor told us you’re going to be all right, Rick.” She said, gently touching my head. “But, I worry about you so much. I understand that you like your winter walks, I just don’t want you to hurt yourself.” She paused, then added, “I just wish you’d be more careful and maybe stay inside when the weather’s bad.” She gave me a quick, wifely kiss on the forehead. It felt wonderful.

I savored the soup thinking that of course her words made sense. We’d been married for forty-two years, and one thing I knew for a certainty was that everything my wife did or said made sense. I should have known that fact by now but apparently was too mule-headed to accept it.

I’m sure there was resignation all over my voice when I said, “Yeah, I know what you’re saying, Eve. I’ll think about it.” I finished my soup, then closed my eyes, suddenly very tired. I knew what she was saying, but, still, it didn’t change the fact that some habits were hard to change. My winter walk, apparently, was one of them.

Eve took the empty bowl and stood up. She patted my arm affectionately and said, “You do that. In the meantime, I’ll go wash this out. You rest. We’ll have some more later for dinner. Okay?” She went into the kitchen after tucking a thick quilt around my legs to keep me warm.

I awoke an hour later and looked out the window. Snow was falling steadily and the afternoon light was fading from the sky. I watched the flurries swirl as the wind picked up. My guess was that the temperature was getting colder and I wondered if maybe I should skip my walk tomorrow. Like Eve had said, I usually fell two or three times a year. Today’s fall was my first and simple math told me that I was due for one or two more. Next time could I get seriously hurt. Tomorrow I should stay inside, take it easy and baby that bump on my head. A wise man would do that, right? Well, no one ever accused me of being wise. Just ask Eve.

I watched the snow some more and the more I did the more enticing it looked. The cold air would be invigorating and it’d be nice to be outside in it. Besides, I had to make up for missing most of my walk today. Sounded good to me. Decision made. I’d go for my walk. But there was one thing for sure; tomorrow when I was out walking, I really would be careful. For most people, it was just a little thing, but for me it wasn’t. After all these years, with Eve being right all those times, all I wanted was to prove to her that I could do it. Tomorrow I’d make sure to not slip and fall.

Just like I’d tried to do today.

…………………………………………………..*****

Elements
by Alexander Hamilton

I heard it coming a mile off, a while off.
And now it’s right above me, the sound of the sea,
the sound of the sea in the sky.
It sounds like the sea, the sibilant sea,
as it slides and sighs over sand.
But it’s the wind in the trees, in the tops of the trees,
whispering the secrets of time.
It sounds like the sea, the sucking sea,
as it sieves through the shingled shore.
But it’s the sound of the drops
of the trillions of drops
of rain on the tops of the leaves.
And I laugh out loud, as hard to a trunk
I watch as the weather comes down.
And I am as small as a grain of sand,
as a single stone on the shore,
and as small as a leaf on a tree
And I know, I know,
that all of them
are in me.

…………………………………………………..*****

Love Song to the Sea
by Maggie Mackay

There’s a sepia photo of me
balancing on rocks
with arms outstretched
and so the sea unhinges me,
the way waves push and pull,
sway my waist, seaweed-furl my heels.
There’s a photo of me
legs mermaid curled
on the edge where sand meets surf,
my sunshine costume never wet.
Sea, you are made for boats,
the Talisman, the Waverley,
my Dad rowing us on the swell,
for glisten and aquamarine,
for McTaggart’s canvas,
for pirate-swashing tales.
Your dangers are too real.

 

……………………………………………………..*****

Tormenta
by Rosemary McLeish

Thunder bangs like a red wine headache;
sheet lightning blasts and blinds
like the sun shrieking through the shutters
the morning after a heavy night.
Here in Majorca God’s not an old man
moving his furniture around in the sky,
he’s a Glaswegian drunkard on a binge.

Dry river beds, gasping in the heat,
the imagination of water so far
from their dreams they don’t remember
what thirst feels like, tremble as
the drunkard in the sky opens his britches
and pisses a torrent of pints of heavy
down their parched gullets, loses control
of his innards, spews out the remains
of a gargantuan curry and chips.

……………………………………………………..*****

Water our Mother
by Rosemary McLeish

Pestilence and drought are nothing to her.
They do not accomplish her purpose.
Heedless, man continues to rape her world.

She goes to the goddess of the moon:
Help me. They have destroyed my daughter.

Artemis falls into darkness; grief splits her.
Averting her face, she folds
the burkah of black night around her.

Tides don’t ebb. Rivers no longer
flow to the sea. Cataracts of rain fall.

Tempests whip the waves into mountains.
Lakes overflow, rivers break their banks.
Villages, towns, cities, are swept away.

Vegetation rots. Earth turns to salty sludge.

Demeter waits.

Kore does not return. No meadows left
for her to play in, pick flowers in.
The birds, her friends, all flown.

Demeter’s rage breaks its boundaries.
Her tears no longer flow to the sea.
Wrath boils up, moulten, from her very core.

Mountains crumble. Earth splits,
shakes, every speck, every particle quaking,
fragmenting, ending, dying.

Artemis watches from behind her veil.
Walls of water engulf the ruins.

………………………………………………………..*****

Will of Steel
by Rosemary McLeish

I keep thinking
at the end of this terrible time
that I’m smashed to pieces
ground to a powder
scoured out.
I keep thinking
it’s the iron in my soul
that’s smashed to smithereens.

But something
seems to get me up.
An urge to write a poem,
two pears seen through a bottle
half full of red wine,
a memory of a jewellery box,
red velvet in polished steel.
Something
notices the sunset,
takes comfort from
my husband’s need to comfort me.

I’ve lost my faith, my hope,
most of my charity,
and I’m all cried out.
But my will of steel,
it seems,
rejects the pills, discards the carving knife,
and coldly bends its back
to pushing the rock up the hill
of another day.

………………………………………………………*****

Volcanic
by Julian Bishop

and so I decided to fight fire with fire
to be dragonish, for my breath to clabber
the air, my fingers struck into matches,
claws extended into pitchfork fire
drawn for a white-hot lightning strike,
to raise prayers for a holy combustion,
to survive on other creatures’ oxygen

so I ditched the slow brook of excuses,
dispensed with the culverts of lies
for the liquid lava of the self, an eruption
of magma brewing at my core for years
to be a Phoenix soaring from the darkest
of ash; I will conflagrate your expectations
of rain, you will not see me for the dust.

…………………………………………………………….*****

Storm Temptation.
by Miki Byrne

The sky spoke last night.
Bellowed great yells
into my dreams.
Shook the building and me.
Moaned soft and low as it
laced the house with rain,
straight as silver bars
and danced every leaf
under their pounding.
Lightning forked and sizzled.
Sent primal ozone tang
to my nose.
In the rumbling I heard an invitation:
Come out. See my sky-dance.
Watch the blue-lit picture show.
Sing your song to the sky-gods.
I listened, yearned,
Leaned out of the open window
till my hair was wet and rain
dripped from my chin.
Knew if I had left,
I might never have come back.

……………………………………………………………………….*****

Quarry
by Miki Byrne

Deep underground,
metal jaws bite deep.
Tear earth’s muscle
as caramel coloured stone
is cut.
Prised from earth’s ribs.
Quarrymen
cut scars upon the hillside.
Open wounds testament
to how mankind lays waste
to verdant terrain.
Panders to demand.
Yet, in quiet oblivion,
a short distance away.
Stolid sheep potter,
unheeding.
Contentedly munch upon
a green blanket
that covers the wold like sleep.
Disguises steps and galleries
that cavern the hill beneath.

………………………………………………………………….*****

Water
by Mki Byrne

Cool velvet.
Mountain stream.
Slips through
my fingers.
Chilled further
by the breeze
that dries.
Makes water
invisible.
Gone with no trace.
Only cold left,
to remind
of its presence
and the taste
of winter cold
on my tongue.

…………………………………………………………………….*****

River  Rising
by Miki Byrne

River creeps, tumbles, rages.
Works up a frenzy of force.
Sucks bones of buildings bare.
Tears out roots of lives.
Hurls possessions with the abandon
of a party drunk who cares nought
for destruction.
Water spreads like infection
through a town where tears
add to its increase and a woman
screams at nature.
Falls howling to her knees in turgid water.
Sullen skies deposit misery
in rain-fuelled surges, the foetid rise
of drains.
Homes are consumed, sliced away
from foundations, slurped down
into wet maws of sunken roads.
Dragged in the violent sweep
of muscular currents.
Pumps roar, sandbag lines snake
into futile barricades.
Red boats stutter through the flood
as life attempts to progress.
Yellow clad men ease a disabled boy
over his bedroom windowsill.

…………………………………………………………………………….*****

Allotment
by Miki Byrne

This urban Eden, is tended by those
who don’t mind muck.
Who dig, sow, mulch and compost.
Coax food from generous earth.
In summer, courgettes doze and swell
under prickly-leafed fans.
Beans tendril, peas climb and pigeons
coo their hearts out in the sun.
Dinner-plate crops are rain-plumped,
inched up by suns nourishing draw.
Everything eases slowly skyward.
Tomatoes green to red, plums and apples
blush, potatoes swell.
Sheds sit crammed with canes, tools,
trays and pots and stink of creosote
and petrol.
Water-butts stand sentry under jury-rigged
gutters.
Guide precious water to fat bellied butts.
Marauding birds hurl and scoop,
Laden trees rustle.
In this fulsome green world,
there’s a return to earth, independence.
The way things used to be.

…………………………………………………………………………..*****

Windbreak
by Renata Connors
 

When I think of us today
I feel like poplars,
A crowd of rueful countenance
I have no hands, no palms
to hold electricity
which comes in chunky yellow dots
scattered everywhere. 

I know my place,
and something I can hold. 

There is a bicycle rattling in the distance,
there is a road,
and the asphalt melting heat,
there is the silver wind
coming to make or break us
and my gloomy vertical lines
are waiting to be crossed.

………………………………………………………………………..*****

Leaving Only…
by Lorraine Caputo

The sky & lake & jungle hills
…………..drape like seamless
………………………..ebon velvet

A strong breeze pushes
…………..waves ashore
……………………….their caps snowy in the
…………………………………indigo lightning
The rhythmic wash counterpoints
……………cicada song

Toads leap along the pebbled beach
……………& into patios…….. their tongues
………………………..flicking at night nymphs

Suddenly…….. a cloud burst
……………pelts rain against tin
………………………..roofs ……..against almond
…………………………………….leaves
The storm ebbs & flows
…………..& ebbs

& just a quickly
………..it ends
Leaving only the wash
…………..of the waves
……………………….& the song

……………………………………………………………..******

Translucence
by Lorraine Caputo

On this jet-black midnight
………….beneath thunder
……………………….& quartz lightning
A lilting tune played
……………on a wooden flute
………………………..wends through these
………………………………………cobbled streets

Later the mica silence
…………..is shattered
………………………..by the rain
Cascading upon the
………….tin roof &
……………………..rivuletting down to
……………………………………the garden

………………………………………………………………….*****

Awaiting El Niño
by Lorraine Caputo

Sunny weekends
…………..the sea warming
……………………….turtles in
high-tide wash

I venture into
……………..the green-water cove
…………………………..surrendering

II.
Cold rain, dark night
……………just-past full moon
…………………………smothered by
thick clouds
thick mist, gossamer
……………curtains draping
…………………………this road
I must traverse

…………..homeward

…………………………for now

(I have arrived
………….I am home)

Stepping assuredly, yet
……………carefully through this
………………………….blindness, occasionally
stumbling

………………………………………..a cragged stone
……………………………………………a hole in this

…………………road

Feeling my way

………………..homeward

III.
& for days the mist falls
………….not the sparse garúa
………………………but misted rain
soaking deep for hours

……………dawn to sunset
…………………………twilight to sunrise

midnight

…………..for days
……………………….& for nights

IV.
Returned sun sears
…………….the sea still leaden
…………………..come morn

perhaps to clear
…………….deep teal
………………………….deep purple

rough—cold
……………solidness

not inviting me

now
……………….the nights

V.
Steady wash of
…………..strong sea
……………………….beneath ebony sky

Stars faint
……………in the mists
………………………….clinging to the night
not yet clear

not yet…

VI.
Walking
……………stumbling
………………………….down

a path less travelled

I rest my eyes
……………upon those Seven
…………………Sisters, Seven
……………Maidens, Seven
Virgins looming

on the horizon

…………..on my way

………………………..homeward

VII.
Later the clouds
……gather, obscuring
…………………visage

VIII.
This afternoon
…………..I watch clouds dampen
…………………..hot sun

& I long for a
…………..shattering storm
…………………………rumbled thunder
reaching deep, making me
…………….feel

Alive

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

A Visitor Arrived one Stormy Afternoon
by Lorraine Caputo

That day clouded, capes
……..of grey velvet swirling ‘round
…………….hilltops, ‘round mountains,
……….their fog settling lower &
lower into valley folds

Thunder snapped crisply,
……….tumbling down streets, across the
abandoned plazas.

Rain shuddered with hail
……..& streamed between cobblestones
…………..”& bricks, & streamed down
………roofs patched with lichens & moss,
into empty patios.

Yellow flash arced o’er
…….this house, visiting my paned
windows, then my door.

& soon, too soon that
……thunder banged through my tiny
……………room. Its clean ozone
…….seeped into my eyes, ears, nose
& swelled, vibrating my face.

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

Spirit Suiteo
Une Autre Étude
by Lorraine Caputo

Another storm blows through this Sunday afternoon.

They had said it would be a dry summer. The drought would continue. But for so many weeks now, since my return, it has been sudden storms swirling clouds, aguaceros, foundation-shaking thunder. Lightening splits the sky into so many fragments, egg-shell fragile.

I stand on the porch, open to the sky, pelted by bits of leaf torn from trees swaying, twirling, bending. A limb shoots across the air, striking the roof with a shatter.

Still I look skyward, watching those clouds swirl quickly. Foaming, a storm-angered sea.

& ay, how I desire the thunder so strong, rippling deep within me.

But it is silent. Except for the swirl of clouds, the sway of trees, the clatter of limbs. Silent, except The torrential rains streaming down roof shingles into gutters, eddying to downspouts, rushing, rushing into the abyss.

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

Children of the Ashes
by Mary Bone

Children of the ashes
Reaching up, touching coal.
Black wings fly overhead
Picking bones,
Heads roll.
We were in the land of blood,
Vultures knew our battle cry.

Stars in Our Eyes

With stars in our eyes
Adventure was calling us
A thousand twinkles

Splashes of Color

Splashes of color
As we stood by the window
Nature had a blast

………………………………………………………………………………..*****

Autumn Rain
by Diana Devlin

Suzanne Strang was the bane of my life all through secondary school. If she wasn’t telling tales about me, she was scribbling on my work or tripping me up in the lunch queue. Any time I got into trouble, guaranteed she was involved in some way. Once, she even left Miss Conway a note, supposedly from Yours Truly, confessing to being the one who drew the big hairy backside on her blackboard and signed it Miss Bumway. She got me suspended for that one. No, the day I left McLaren High couldn’t come soon enough. I’d be shot of her for good and I couldn’t wait to see the back of her and get on with my life.

In the days leading up to that Friday, I’d relived the worst memories of school and Suzanne Strang over and over again. The old anger, loneliness and humiliation welled up in me, leaving me feeling as if I was slowly losing my grip on reality, on everything I’d achieved since leaving the Strang era behind. My husband commented on how detached I seemed and kept asking if I was alright. I’d stare at him, almost not recognizing the man I’d been married to for fifteen years, and nod blankly.

There were only the two of us gathered under the late Autumn drizzle that Friday and neither of us spoke as the coffin was lowered into the ground. As the first sodden clump of soil hit the wood, I realised that it wasn’t anger I felt, not even a sense of closure or relief, as my old tormentor was finally seen off. The legacy of Suzanne Strang was guilt. She’d planted the seeds of that particular gift all those years ago. Made sure it would go on giving.

No one came from the children’s home to pay their respects. No friends, no colleagues. Just Miss Conway and I. Under the relentless rain, one Friday in Autumn.

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

Elemental
by Alwyn Marriage

Water first,
burst of creativity
born of chaos
swirling in impenetrable dark

impossible to contemplate
that anyone could pass through sea
as dry as bone, then turn to witness
an enemy’s destruction in the water

led by a man,
like Adam made from dust
(as opposed to Eve
who came from human stock),

who later learned,
in special circumstances,
to strike a rock,
and let the water flow

but didn’t realise
that water never could extinguish
the fire that burns deep in the centre of it all
or even, on occasion, keeps a bunch of briars alight.

…………………………………………………………………………..*****

Earth to Fire
by Alwyn Marriage

As I was worked and moulded on the wheel
the potter’s hands discovered a fault, a flaw
that no true artist could possibly ignore,

so gathered me up, to smash and squeeze,
pummel and buffet me back into the shape
and substance of my primal clay,

then hurl me, blind and deaf, to turn again,
curving a firm hand round me as I spun
into the form that I was meant to be.

Base earth forgotten, dizziness now passed,
I enter the fire to be transformed
into something new, unknown and beautiful.

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

Produce of the Earth
by Alwyn Marriage

I loved you at the crematorium
as the flowers on your wicker coffin
were committed with your body
and our tears into the flames.

I loved you when you dug
vegetables from the garden, washed
away the dirt and cooked them for
your hungry family.

I loved you when you leant across
the fence to share your knowledge
and the surplus from another harvest
with our neighbour.

But most of all I loved you when
after hours of digging, you stretched towards
the sun then bent again and dipped your fingers
back into the soil to plant another seed.

Through your life and death I learnt
to trust the goodness of the earth,
the cycles of the year, your daily care
and the fruits of all your labour.

………………………………………………………………………………..*****

Queasy
by Simon Williams

Frostbitten morning
At the bus queue
Clouds of breath
Intermingle intimately
In the public toilets
The slightly queasy comfort
Of a seat still warm
From a stranger

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

Bully
by Simon Williams

The sky is scowling in
Through my rain spotted window
Like an overweight bully
In a dirty grey jumper
Daring me to come outside

……………………………………………………………………………*****

I Really Don’t Mind The Rain
by Simon Williams

I really don’t mind the rain
The sound of a thunderous downpour
When you’re tucked up in bed
Making the world under the quilt
Even more comforting
Or Its rattling against the kitchen window
Sounding as though nature
Is giving my washing up a round of applause
I like how puddles become playgrounds
For small children in wellingtons
And how afterwards when the sun comes out
Even the greyest urban landscape
Has a certain shine about it
And the garden smells intensely of green
So I really don’t mind the rain
(but I’d rather have sunshine)

………………………………………………………………………*****

The Tail-End of a Hurricane
by Gill Lambert

Some days all you write is shite.
Everything anyone’s written
is better – and ‘Angus’
is battering at your door.

You’re drinking whisky
‘cos there ain’t no wine.
If that sounds like a line
from a country song, good.
It’s meant to.

The wind’s whipping up
but the words won’t come,
if they do they’re bull.
It feels like now is the time to quit,

cos all you’ve written today is shit.
But the storm will pass,
there’ll be wine again,
you’ll pick up your pen
and write.

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

Going Home
by Pat Edwards

The space between them is growing shorter,
like their bones.
Out of sync, they suck and blow on air
in disturbed rhythms.

Their time on earth is measured
in board games and sing-songs,
distorted memories of warmer, longer summers
breaking through like balm.

He dreams of cars he liked to fix,
of troop ships on grey water,
the day his son was born.

She thinks about the dances,
all the giggling with the girls,
the one time he strayed with Lil
and nearly broke them.

There’s meat and veg, a stodgy pud for tea,
more nonsense before they’re put to sleep
in single beds, in separate rooms.

The space between them is growing shorter,
and soon it will be ash and void.

………………………………………………………………………..*****

Line Squall, Liverpool
by Mantz Yorke

 A raw roaring hooligan hurling
snatched hats into the whirling air, booting
bottles and cans along the gutter, and slashing
the Mersey’s cushions into spray – a wild whooping
west of a wind bucking
gusts rumbustiously up the street, battering
breath from my body and flinging
stinging sand into streaming eyes.
The wise are in shops and offices,
safe from sniping tiles:
I edge against this bruiser’s battering
towards the corner where I can cling on tight
and await the impending break
from turbulent, thunderous grey
to a calmer, clearer sky.

……………………………………………………………………….*****

Farewell
by Rona Fitzgerald

Glencoe winds caress
our cheeks, refresh
……………….driving tired eyes.

Busy streams sing
of love, loss
……………………of renewal.

She carries him gently
scatters this unquiet spirit
…………………………in mellifluous water.

Ashes settle on sandy soil
…….some nestle in drops of light
…………….carrying his essence home.

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

From Caitlin
by Laura Potts

After you, my lighthouse hope, who made a bonfire of my eyes,
the city streets grew old, and I like a lamp candled pale in the cold
coal night, who saw your spotlight glow and fail
here in the crag-black winter of Wales; I who brought to your door
the Irish moors, and London’s charm, and the wheeling, laughing
shorebirds of Laugharne, and made town bars our drama’s stage,
and aged a decade when you played away with local girls
and corner whores; I whose garden full of fruit, folding infants
in our bed, bled hot tears at two a.m. when morning
didn’t bring you home again; I, with the red slits of my eyes,
who saw in evening’s cups of light your hunchbacked-bent-bowed
head, a celestial star, when your words rolled far across miles,
and your eyes in the windowlight took the crack from my smile,
like a movie played in a firefly night; and I, once the lover
whose name you carved into stone, find the winter’s old cold
teeth now blunt in those first frost flakes of November, the annual
month I remember your bones, still gold, in that American bed.

Dead ten years. And still I doubt when, within those great Welsh wells and walls
they ring your passing bell, Dylan, did I ever really know you at all.


Biographies

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

Stephen Shirres: A charity fundraiser by day, chair of West Lothian Writers in the evening and a writer late into the night (often very late into the night!), Stephen Shirres is a writer of short stories and flash fiction. His tales go to the many worlds of the far future, urban fantasy and gothic romance.

Mark Blayney won the Somerset Maugham Award for Two kinds of silence. He’s a Hay Festival Writer at Work, has been longlisted for the National Poetry Competition and recently won a Wales Media Award for his journalism. http://www.markblayney.weebly.com

Jayne Marek has two recent books, In and Out of Rough Water (2017) and The Tree Surgeon Dreams of Bowling (2018), plus an artist chapbook Why Horses? Red Mare 13 (2017).  Her poems appear in Amsterdam QuarterlyThe Lake,  Bangor Literary Journal, The Cortland Review, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Notre Dame Review, Raven Chronicles, and elsewhere.  She has received two Pushcart Prize nominations for poetry.

Paul Waring is a retired clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and was a singer/songwriter in Liverpool bands. Paul’s poems have been widely published in places such as Prole, Atrium, Algebra of Owls, High Window, Amaryllis, Clear Poetry and Ofi Presshttps://waringwords.wordpress.com

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

Steve May: With a modestly checkered career — from Coventry to Leeds to Wigan to Sunderland  — as a drama teacher, youth theatre director,  performing arts leader and acupuncturist, Steve May now sticks needles into places, things and people in his poems.

Mark Connors is a poet, novelist and writing tutor from Leeds, with a pamphlet (OWF Press, 2015), a full length collection (Stairwell Books, 2017) and two novels to his name (Armley Press 2016, 2018).

Charley Reay is a Northumberland based writer from the Lincolnshire Fens.  Her poems are published by Ink, Sweat & Tears, Prole and Three Drops Press among others.  She also performs on the North East spoken word scene.
You can find her on Twitter @charleyreay

Virginia Bach Folger lives in an 1885 Victorian house in Schenectady, New York, USA.  She has worked as a gas station attendant, paralegal, claims adjuster and corporate learning and development manager.   Her recent work is published in Constellations:A Journal of Poetry and Fiction, The Fourth River, Lumina, Eclectica, The Writers’ Cafe.

Tom Langlands is a retired architect and a freelance, award-winning, photo journalist and writer based in SW Scotland. He has a particular interest in nature and wildlife. His photography and writing has appeared in numerous publications in the UK and abroad. 

Connie Ramsay Bott dabbles in poetry and prose from her Warwickshire home. Her novel, Girl Without Skin, was published last year, and she hopes one day to have a poetry collection published. She teaches creative writing to adults.

Michael Beirne: I am from Ireland and I write some poetry that has arisen in my mind due to my having heard old stories being told around old kitchen fires many years ago.  It was the tradition then in Ireland for people to visit (ramble to) neighbours’ houses during the long nights after Halloween (Samhain); there, gathered in front of an open fire of turf and wood many strange stories were told.

Gill McEvoy Winner of the 2015 Michael Marks Award for “The First Telling” (Happenstance Press, 2014) Hawthornden Fellowship 2012. Member of The Company of Poets, Devon.

Coreen Hampson lives in Grants Pass, OR. She is a gardener, musician, and poet. New poems have recently appeared ( or are forthcoming) in Amethyst Review, Illinois Valley News, Isacoustic, Pulsar, and Turtle Island Quarterly. Her first book of poetry, Growing Smaller, has recently been accepted by Flowstone Press.

Lizzie Jarvis has been writing down her thoughts as poems and lyrics for thirty years. She lives in east London with her two children.

Rona Fitzgerald has poems in UK, Scottish, Irish and US publications both in print and online. Originally from Dublin, she now lives in Glasgow. Most recent publications are Poems for Grenfell Tower, Onslaught Press 2018, and #Me Too, Fair Acre Press, 2018.

Alwyn Marriage’s 10 books include poetry, fiction and non-fiction. She’s widely represented in magazines, anthologies and on-line and gives readings internationally. Formerly a philosophy lecturer, Director of 2 international NGOs and a Rockefeller Scholar, she’s currently Managing Editor of Oversteps Books and research fellow at Surrey University. www.marriages.me.uk/alwyn

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.

Maggie Mackay is a jazz and whisky loving MA graduate of Manchester Metropolitan University. She has a fascination with family history which informs much of her work online and in print. picaroonpoetry.wordpress.com

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’.

Karen Vail, a retired English teacher, lives with her husband in Flemington, New Jersey.  She earned a masters degree from Rutgers University.  Karen has had her poetry published in a variety of print and online journals including Poetry Breakfast, Workers Write, and River Poets Journal.

Jackie Biggs first collection, The Spaces in Between, was published in 2015. She has had poetry published in many magazines and anthologies, both in print and online. She nominated for a Pushcart Award (2017/18). Blog: http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk Twitter: @JackieNews

P A Livsey’s writing is a mixture of raw, playful and surreal about life’s generalities. Poems and short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies, including Poetry School Campus, Erbacce Press and Best of Manchester’s Poets vol 2 & 3.

Susannah Violette is an artist, silversmith and poet living in the ‘endless forest’ in Germany with her husband and two daughters.

Laura Potts, twice-recipient of the Foyle Young Poets Award, became one of the BBC’s New Voices in 2017. She was also listed in The Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize, nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received a commendation from The Poetry Society in 2018.

Gill Lambert is a poet and teacher from Yorkshire. She has been published widely and her pamphlet ‘Uninvited Guests ‘ came out in 2017 with Indigo Dreams Publishing.

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.

Megha Sood lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. She is also a contributing author at GoDogGO Cafe, Candles Online, Whisper and the Roar and Poets Corner.Her works have been featured in GoDogGoCafe, Whisper and the Roar, Duane Poetree, Visual Verse, Poets Corner, Modern poetry, Spillwords, Indian periodicals Literary heist, Poethead, and coming up in Modern Literature and many more. She recently won the 1st prize in NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Mental Health Poetry contest. She blogs at https://meghasworldsite.wordpress.com/.

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.

Jim Bates is retired after working many years as a course developer and sales and technical trainer for a large manufacturing company. In addition to CafeLit, The Writers’ Cafe Magazine , A Million Ways and Paragraph Planet, his stories can be found on his website: www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com

Alexander Hamilton is a mixed media artist, theatrical property maker, and accidental farmer. He has had a number of poems in Forward Poetry Anthologies, several Ezines and even a podcast. He writes children’s stories for grownups because no one else does. One day he will get them out of their drawer and do something with them!

Mary Bone has been writing poetry and short stories since the age of twelve. Mary completed her Bachelor of General Studies in 2006 at S..O.S.U., in Durant, Oklahoma. Many of her poems and short stories have been published in magazines, journals and newspapers. Her poetry has recently been accepted at The Homestead Review, The Oklahoma Today Magazine, and the fall issue of The Writing Disorder. Mary has written two books of poetry.

Julian Bishop is a former television journalist living in North London whose poems have been published in various anthologies (most recently Lumen and Shorthand) and magazines including the new publication Phenotype. He won this year’s Lamb Festival Poetry Prize and has had poem displayed by the Museum of London for its Fatberg exhibition.

Simon Williams has been writing (with varying degrees of success) since being exposed to The Mersey Poets at an impressionable age.

Miki Byrne has had three poetry collections published and had work included in over 170 poetry magazines and anthologies. She has read on Radio and TV. Miki is disabled and lives near Tewkesbury. Gloucestershire.UK.

Renata Connors is a poet and songwriter based in Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear. Her poems were published in webzines, e.g. ‘Ink, Sweat and Tears’, ‘The Fat Damsel’, Rat’s Ass Review, Riggwelter. She likes learning and teaching languages.

Angela Kennedy is a psychologist and healthcare leader with an interest in attachment, adversity and the role of creativity in healing.

Diana Devlin is a Scottish-Italian poet living in Dumbarton. She has worked as a translator, lexicographer/editor and teacher but now writes full time. Her work has appeared online and in print at home and abroad.

Pegi Deitz Shea is the author of more than 450 poems, articles, and essays for adult readers, as well as books for young readers. She teaches in the Creative Writing Program of the University of Connecticut.

Hannah Stone has two collections, Lodestone (2016) and Missing Miles (2017). She convenes the poets and composers forum for Leeds Lieder festival and comperes the monthly Wordspace spoken word event. The premiere of her first major collaboration with a composer (see penthos.uk) was in October 2018.

 

 

 


7 thoughts on “The Writers’ Cafe Magazine – ISSUE 13 “Elements”

  1. Congratulations on another superb issue, Marie! More great poems and stories…you do a fantastic job, and they are a pleasure to read. Also, thank you so much for including my stories, it really means a lot to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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