The Writers’ Cafe Magazine – ISSUE 14 “Frost and Dew”

spider web

Stone Unhinged
by Peter J. King
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…………………………………………………………..*****
Spring Frost in Churchill, Oxfordshire

by Peter J. King

Sunlight thickens on the tower
that stands outside my window;
I can almost feel the limestone soaking up
the heat, like toast absorbing butter.

But on the village green that’s shadowed
by the church, the grass is white
with morning frost, and dogs and walkers
leave their trails of darkened prints.

A sudden squall of hail, and then again
the sun. Behind the tower, watery but clear,
a rainbow links the hills to either side.
Jackdaws rise together, scatter,
sliding down the icy air and up again,
out of the shadow, into warmer heights.

I shiver slightly, reaching for a log
to place upon the waning fire, and
think about the Earth’s slow, teasing orbit.

……………………………………………………………………….*****

Frosty Sequel
by Peter J. King

Now, having paused, I must be quick.
I give my whip the lightest flick;
My little horse sets off with pluck,
But goes nowhere — the wheels both stick.

I try again, but still no luck,
The bearings are completely stuck;
They froze while I was sitting here
And poetising — what a schmuck!

The countryside is cold and drear,
The village is ten miles from here,
And as I think I said before
There isn’t any farmhouse near.

Those bloody woods are such a bore;
I can’t think what I stopped here for.
I’ve learnt my lesson, that’s for sure.
I’ve learnt my lesson, that’s for sure.

……………………………………………………………………*****

Winter Fields
by Peter J. King

The frosted fields, pale eau de nil,
are glistening, not gloss but silk,
and where the shrubs and trees were bare
and leafless, now their twigs and branches
shine pure white.

………………………………..The sheep look up,
their fleece not yet full grown,
for shearing happened late this year,
and winter’s come too soon.

The sky that lends the frost its
tungsten tint is not one shade of blue
but passes smoothly from a rich
cerulean to robin’s egg to milk
directly from the teat, unpasteurised.

…………………………………………………………………*****

Bedewed
by Peter J. King

………………………………………..like the morning
………………………………………………………………..sun
…………………………………..that draws the dew up
…………………………………………forming mist
………………………………………………upon the meadow

……………when we meet
……………………………….you
………………….draw up my dissolving thoughts
……..and fog my poor
……………………….bewildered mind

…………………………………………………………………………*****

Sloe Blue
by Pippa Little

Luminous globes
bla, azul, blau
insufficient
as smalt, mazarine or indigo
for the cold marine
severity
of your shining bitterness

you burn in the thorns
calling to the incoming dark
with your own
absolute rebuttal
of  thaw:

when you are forged in hard white frost
I will take you then, handle
your starless firmaments
with stinging fingers

……………………………………………………………………………*****

Icing the Green Wine
by Miki Byrne

Young thrashed wheat grains,
fly up.
Flash in sunlight like
sparkling beetles and fall back.
Passed as clean, ovate bodies
pour into large echoing vats.
Are watered and mixed to a yeasty,
fragrant mash.
Then fermentation begins.
Conversion, an ancient alchemy,
passed through generations.
A recipe from long ago.
Seven layers of charcoal
filter the brew.
Seven of fine river sand gathers
all that floats and spoils.
Clean, the liquid runs clear as tears
or icicles that drip after sharp freeze.
Casked in oak, stored outside,
through winter storm and chill,
flowers of ice grow.
Lid the liquid in crystalline growth
that sparks with light in winter sun.
Then, this home-grown frost
is skimmed and gathered,
day after day.
Discarded time and again
till the residue lies thick and green,
a substance from a fairytale.
Perhaps a spell-casting potion,
or an ogres late-night sup.
When ready, drink judiciously.
Cold fire will sting the tongue.
set belly and heart,
to glorious simmering warmth.

 

…………………………………………………………………………….*****

Winter’s Teeth
by Paul Waring

This first of many mornings I’ll stand
stare from kitchen window
tea in hand and watch you
dew-eyed, stretch limbs across lawn
as day squints open to light. 

Mist still sleeps on car windscreens
along crammed-margin streets to the station
as chill creeps close to whisper, steals
inside my coat as I approach the corner.

Later, kissed by afternoon sun lips—
earth-damp breath scent-marking territory,
hints of what’s in store: wind-whipped storms
leaves lashed from trees, carpeted parks
and streets

flushed clear in time to lay frost-starched
sheets; hunched shivers, tight-folded arms
stamp-stamping feet—
first bite from winter-sharp teeth.

……………………………………………………………………………..*****

Death And Resurrection
by Paul Waring

Familiar first signs: colour-sapped unwanted
harvest, leaves fleeced from limb-tired trees—
left to litter gardens, parks, suburban streets

as light is sacrificed, slow-snuffed behind
summer sun’s back and bird flock comings
and goings congest late-September skies.

We inhale dew-steeped air, earth infused
notes, slow-choked roots inside musty graves
while winter waits to strip bare its canvas—

seal damp into skin and bone, paint frost
over lifeless landscape, barren as unrequited love—
dead until spring’s first breath resurrection.

……………………………………………………………….*****

An Early Winter
by Hannah Brockley

Sooner than expected, it flittered and fell –
As did I; the alpha, single snowflake.
Politely pirouetting, I could not yet tell
How severely its descent would make the earthquake.
My bones cold, defiantly reluctant to melt –
But you, an indelible icicle, clasped with a firm grip.
Solid and stoic, you made your love felt,
But time ticked towards the inevitable slip.
It gracefully greeted the grateful ground,
Sicking firmly to the point at which it cascaded,
But as sure as the echo that follows each sound,
At the first sign of warmth, it melted, faded.
I’m left alone now with only your faint frost
Glittering in the darkness of the love that I lost.

…………………………………………………………………*****

A Cold Heart
by Martin Webb

A delicate crusting of frost embraces the leaves of a dying bush. I’m thankful to be studying it from inside this sterile white room, although my heart feels as cold as the harsh wind bending the ice-glazed branches. I want to stare at that frost all day long, but I can’t. I drag my eyes away, back to the reality inside the warm building, back to a reality that I so desperately wish to escape.

I give him some water to drink. He can’t speak to say thank you but there are indications that he’s grateful, and I smile. I look into his eyes which were so large and full of life not too long ago, but are now dull and unseeing. A thin coating of dew decorates his lashes, resting lightly yet slicing unbearably into my soul. My beautiful boy, once so very full of joy and enthusiasm, rests his head on my lap. I stroke his hair and whisper soothingly. I have no idea whether he hears me or not.

He can’t know that these are his last moments with me, that very soon it will all be over. I have this knowledge though and it’s hard, so hard to live with that decision. But it’s for the best, the whole family agrees. He’s in pain and not one of us can bear to see him that way, to watch him suffering as we go about our menial lives. My eyes mist over again, yet again, for the hundredth time today.

He jerks as the needle pricks, and I try to comfort him. I hope he can’t hear me sobbing, can’t sense my despair and sorrow. He was always so good at looking after me whenever I was ill, and I know I’m not repaying that kindness very well. The minutes pass. I’m still stroking his

head when he looks up at me one last time. He gives a brief and barely discernible wag of his tail, and then lies still.

I kiss him goodbye, my beautiful boy, goodbye. I thank him for enriching my life, even though our time together seemed too brief. I turn to look outside again, hiding my shame, hoping to lose my thoughts in that frost-coated bush. But I can’t see it anymore. I can’t see anything. I feel the dew grow heavy on my own lashes as I draw my coat around me and head out into the bitter winter afternoon.

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

Chill
by Pat Edwards

 She was afraid to breathe it in
for fear her pipes might burst.

She pulled her scarf around
her throat, to keep out cold.

She swallowed secret gulps,
blinked out slow motion tears.

He spoke his hard ice words,
froze her fast with each look.

She used her coat as a shield,
fended off each chilling barb.

She moved in constant zig zags
to be sure she’d not be struck.

He kept up his wintry attack,
stream of frosty malice until

she caught his cold infection,
blew her nose, coughed him up.

………………………………………………………………………………*****

Cooling Down
by Linda Menzies

It will be different this winter, when frost
glazes pavements and powders roof tiles.
You won’t be here to exclaim with me
as we scrape the car, our breathing hazy.

You left after the hottest of summers,
when dew on roses released perfumes
at our open window. Heat rose fast and high,
flooding senses, consuming us as we slumped,
enervated after dawn lovemaking.

We waned, just as the sun receded,
Allowing in darker nights, leaf fall and airiness.
Your bags, briskly buckled, crouched a night
in the hall, where our coats once hung.
I felt the first threat of frost in the night air
as you closed my door for the final time.

………………………………………………………………………….*****

Snow
by Susannah Violette

of frozen shores;

cold vacuity, I breathe an arctic breath
offer colour from my cheeks

 

the stems of my arteries

make icicles

 

of the knots in my fingers;

tied tight in their heat
over one another, tangled flames
clumsy with apology

I have been foolish

 

holding you;
legs wrapped around
the drift of your hip

now,
our moon spills an acrid light
it pools on my belly
melted snow

…………………………………………………………………………*****

Autumn
by Susannah Violette

branches round the moon like arms
their grip intense

rot seeps through
pearly teeth of rain

 nip nip goes the frost

rose hips pucker red lips
but the sky, full of sulk

turns its bitter cheek

they whisper –

smell the old sweet scent of us
the dry, inner itch of summer

………………………………………………………….*****

Fire in the Mist
by Susannah Violette

heavenward leaches its gold,
pale, paler still
it falls as courage, tense as a seed is

survive this shuck into cold light
there will be blossom again

see how your fist opens when I reach for you?

like that

see how the knuckles turn from white to rosy pink?

the fires burn cooler now, imagine the pine
its scent, its tar
how it ignites
even sick, the oil of the pine is bitumen
even in the rain and the long unclear mist
it burns

…………………………………………………………………*****

Droplet
by Susanna Violette

until I was a river
I broke every rule there was
I blanched breath
with hot burning

lay on rocks, naked and effervescent

threw myself from cliffs
in a need to spill myself
out of the confines of being
bones and fibre, a twist of spirit

blood

I sang to the moon
on proudly spiked shoes of frost
stilled by the cold

I buckled at the knee
and the waist

warmed

slipped bit by bit
into a wasteland
an endless luminous blank

I reached onwards and upwards
it was all there was

Icarus shared his winged self
spread wide his desire
crouched beneath feathers
I will turn into a jewel

fall, gilded by planets
mixed with stardust
light blessed and rainbowed
orange drawn into me
a strong-as-iron
fast flowing

dart

…………………………………………………………….*****

Anne Neville at the Oriel Window
Barnard Castle
November 1474
by Edwin Stockdale

Down the river cliff I see the Tees in spate, the stony bed
made barren by peaty water. I stare over at the North
Pennines, the fells of dark earth struck by the first frosts.
In that cold, half the linnets have gone. How many of
them might have been mothers, nesting in thickets of
whin?

………………………………………………………………..*****

Twilight
by Simon Williams

Jack Frost’s been making
The cemetery angels sparkle
Like the glittery emo vampires
From the Twilight films

……………………………………………………………………*****

Spring
by Simon Williams

“Must be spring “
He said
Laying a warm hand
Upon her thigh
“Sap’s rising”
“We’ll have none of that nonsense”
She replied
Frostily

……………………………………………………………..******

Cathedral Road
by Mark Blayney

Snow, cats cautious. In a hotel window
limbs curl, patient. In their eyes a white glow.

The houses are tall, old Edwardian gentlemen.
Today their elegance is enhanced

by blue cuffs and collars, sheepskins
that accentuate their stoop. They stand

huddled for company and compare
notebooks beneath their coloured porches.

Our visits are brief, we ghost salesmen who
inhabit a slice of building for the night.

Cash on arrival, light left on as we go to the pub,
fish and woodsmoke come back in with us.

We are silhouettes on the glass and as the illumination
switches off, our faces fade to translucent.

We like ale, or whisky. Do not talk to us over breakfast;
we sit at side tables with their single chair and napkin.

Somehow it’s vulgar to stay more than one day.
The transactions are not secret, but you do not see them.

I didn’t last in the job long; I was insufficiently discreet.
I parked my car directly outside. I got chatty.

Leaving, I donated an Egypt guide in the bookrack, where tired
and dog-eared thrillers lean on each other for support.

Someone found the book before I left; was the mistake.
It opened on the chapter on sacred cats, how their souls return,

their wisdom accruing down the centuries. That day
I made an extra sale. The landlord was as surprised

as the eyebrows of the houses. The white marzipanned lips
were as comical as chill. As the new ghost slipped

upstairs, the book fell from his hand and charred
unnoticed by the fire. The engine started slowly. I drove.

…………………………………………………………………..*****

Glacier
by Peter Clive

They found our bodies, perfectly preserved,
despite the ten millennia since our death.

The ice hid them all those centuries
within a cold and dark declivity.
You fell and could not leave, and so I stayed
to be by you forever. We died that day.

We’ve been paralysed with speed ever since.
The world thawed and with it fluid haste
has iterated life beyond love’s slower pace.
Quicksilver skin eludes caress like melt-water.
Love slowly retreats like declining ramparts of ice.

Though ancient aches are numbed by births
through which our fugitive souls cascade,
I still yearn for our once secret, silent dark,
our joint grave’s cold, eternal embrace.

…………………………………………………………………*****

Lux Aeterna
by Peter Clive

i Aether

A pale light shines through the threadbare world,
a cold luminous presence over which the world rests like gauze,
a milky white light that lingers in the mist
and comes to rest in the dew drops that are threaded,
like pearls,
on a spider’s web on a cold morning,
before it is wrecked by the ruinous chance
of a passing child’s exuberance.

It is a light denied.
We sense it with our eyes shut,
half asleep,
and it shyly recedes when we awaken
before we can notice it.

Does it illuminate our dreams?
Is it a residue of refraction that escapes explanation?
Certainly, no microscope finds it. It registers on no instrument.
It sits behind the light our eyes can see.
It blows through us in ghostly gusts,
leaves no imprint where we lay out film to make a record,
is not embroiled in our retinas, eludes the traps we lay for it,
slips through the net and avoids the snare of sense.

I must disaggregate myself entirely to lure it into my grasp.
I sink my cold, brine-filled lungs to the bottom of the sea.
I cast my eyes among the worn shingle orbs upon the shore.
I stack my weary bones where fences need mended,
let the wind spin my hair into bog-cotton,
let my breath escape into the clouds,

before it becomes truly crystal clear to me,
and I feel the light
and wander in stunned silence,
vanishing into the infinite mist of my trance,
a mist that brings me only the most distant and diffuse light,
drops light that adheres to anything recognisable to the ground like a stone,
and transmits only pure light free from the vulgarity of objects,
and I see beyond the dull diurnal description of things,
find them tedious, these rude intrusions that interrupt my ecstasy,
tripping me up with their misplaced urgency,
their insistence padding out our daily barter and trade,
dyes that stain our fingers as we thumb and rub
and try out the fabric of the world in the marketplace
with words drained of any colour
that can catch this infinite paleness
which confounds our trials and reckoning
with its ungovernable billowing,
always taken out of reach by gusts
from unseasonal siroccos.

ii The Moon 

she is well known, meticulously described, thoroughly documented:
she shines with a reflected light; men have walked upon her;
she is an inert stone slung upon an orbit apples might share;
and so on.
But to my infinitely dispersed self she seems to shine
with another light that is not caught in that net of words,
a light that reveals this earth is just as cratered and lifeless
when seen beyond the scope of human sight, from our orbit
in the stark and barren brightness of the void, and all our follies,
our fret and fuss, our boasts and monuments, our footprints on the Moon
are ageless dust to which we have no real claim,
and the hopes and fears of those that made them mean nothing.

With every effort possible we try to trap the light: every stem of every quaver
and minim, every stroke of every pen committed by artist, poet or composer
every strut of logical scaffold with which our arguments are supported,
even every strip of lead in the stained glass windows of St Denis,
where the light blasted holes in the walls of old Romanesque Europe, every rib
of every vaulted space where thoughts dwell and find their compass
in the leisurely speculations of men pacing in dedication to knowledge,
is a bar in a cage we think we make to contain the light,
and we justify the trespass we attempt upon it with a promise
of a lantern in which the light peers through the bailing wire,
cradled in this Pharos with which we hope to show the way ahead,

as though we were lost,
as though we could ever be found,
as though we are anything more than passing eddies twisting in the ancient dust,

until eventually we discover that in fact the cage contains, not it, but us,
once we are released at last from the prison we make for ourselves,
and finally walk into the light.

……………………………………………………………….*****

The Ridgeline
by Peter Clive

I make my ascent
through the mountain’s teeth,
through impossibilities of fatigue,
through delusions of my own endurance.

From time to time
my eyes rise to the ridgeline,
before falling again
to more immediate obstacles and urgencies.

Bare birch and stalwart pines surround me
standing against the winter’s brief noon,
wrapped in peeling strips of silver,
or clad in coarse filaments of grey-green lichen.

A sunless summer brought me
diffuse undifferentiated light
in this place, the sky flooded
with featureless white cloud,
which came down as hollow mist
and made leaves wet and bright
like a tribute of silver
offered upon a host of palms
held up without expectation
to the empty sky.
An applause of rain fell down
and soaked into the earth
over the ten thousand days
of my accumulated summers.

Now the trees support
a mute lead grey sky
barrelling over black rocks
and blacker waters.

I know
the colour does not drain from the world,
I know
this greyness I see is my weakening eyes
letting the vivid world slip.

My retinas are like
dry old boards,
warped and twisted.
Colour is fading paint,
blistered and flaking,
onto which my eyes can no longer grip,
bleached palettes
depleted of colour,
stripped bare
by the world’s long
slow sliding light.

Sometimes,
in a clearing,
inadvertently reached as I grope
in aimless pioneering desperation,
escaping for a moment the thicket and the mire
I find the remains of a camp fire,
sometimes cold and ancient,
sometimes retaining lingering vestiges of recent heat.

I consider this isolated evidence of others:
this stone circle
gathered round cold damp dead charcoal
where our paths towards the ridgeline lie crossed.
I feel the enduring terror of our mutual solitude.
I cannot undo the monotonous panic I feel
cannot unpick this knot of past and future paths
cannot acquaint myself with the strangers
who meet in me in mock intimacy
contemplating the mysteries of this place
knowing they offer no enlightenment.

There is no epiphany,
only tedium.
The trees are stiff dark ribs,
a grating
against the sky’s distant solsticial pallor
gleaming
beyond the congregated shadows,
within the bars
of this cage containing me
from which
there is no escape
in my ceaseless ascent,

yet I know there are gaols
whose bars are things one is supposed
to see beyond
to where we find
and seize our freedom
in places to which no constraints can extend,
playing tin tunes upon the bars
that carry beyond them.

Each step in this forest falls
both in the cage
and beyond it,
and I work my way to the ridgeline
through the filtered mist
of the splintered sky’s grey interstices,
where every step is a promise and a betrayal.

The lies I tell myself to keep going
oscillate between paradise and apocalypse.
I make my way
though accidental accuracies
and well-meaning mistakes,
but the truth is,
I cannot recall the origin or purpose of this ascent.
Certainty has given way to conjecture,
memory to imagination.
I have released my past,
and all my possible fugitive futures
have gone cloud-climbing, delirious,
out of reach in the mountainous skies.
away from this blasted and birdless place.

Perhaps my journey began in an abandoned encampment
not dissimilar to the ones I encounter on my path.
I don’t remember.

I know that no answer will be found
there on the ridgeline,
only the prospect of another summit,
as yet unseen,
and everything I can win
will be overthrown or forgotten.
I wonder if anything ever can be left,
what victories are possible,
once one reaches the ridgeline
and moves on.

Perhaps a solemn birch will stand, someday,
looming out of the unfathomable mist
at some other soul
in the place I must briefly pause
before I continue out of sight
beyond the ridgeline
in pursuit of what I can’t yet know,
in whatever new shape and form is required.

But trees fall,
and eventually, even the ridge itself will shrug and subside
as the earth turns and the subterranean ache of ages
disturbs its endless slumber once more.

Victory is relative. There are only varying degrees of defeat.

All achievements are meaningless in the end,
whatever finishing lines we cross are all erased,
and whatever we did to cross them,
whatever price we paid,
is, in the final analysis,
indistinguishable from madness.
We rely on a transformation we cannot comprehend
to save us from annihilation,
and beforehand
it is impossible
to tell the difference between them.

……………………………………………………………………….*****

Freeze
by Rachel Collinge

I remember brutal frosty beauty tearing at my lungs and ripping
the breath from me. I remember you falling and laughing in the
mud slip slide slippery sloppy with upturned dirt. I remember
the grind of my hip once we all reached the last mile, the
added seasoning of salt–and–pepper pain to a day with
bright shards of gold in the fields and sky. I remember
because it was so rarely just the four of us since we
grew older, since we moved away from the house
and each other – a drift as certain and slow as
the sea and just as hard to swim against. I
remember throwing sand on the heath. I
remember smoky peat smell and the
crumbs of grass cracking underfoot.
I remember cramming together to
look at someone’s phone, to look
at that tiny sliver of display, and
I caught a photo – or someone
did. Who did? I don’t recall
who took it. Who was
missing from that
frame we were
all in.

………………………………………………………………………*****

Winter-long
by Lynn Valentine

She held his hand when the first frosts came.
‘Careful, don’t slip’, such a clean hand
worn white with work and the scrape of the years.

His hands were muffled up in his mittens
but through the wool he could feel her heat,
her fingers a dance, a waltz, cornering cold.

And now he holds his son’s hand as winter howls,
the boy, ready for a rescue in his Paw Patrol gloves.
Both father and child hoping for a spin of the sun.

………………………………………………………………………..*****

Ice Horses
by Rebecca Gethin

Kelpies are sketched in snow
across the arc of the hills
that rise like a fin above the plains.
Frozen in mid gallop,
their backs curving like a bow,
heels a fling behind, necks
pointing into the winds
the herd moves between rivers
and lochs. For now, they are outlined
by cold but even when they thaw
into vapour of sweat and breath,
they won’t stand while nails
are hammered into their feet,
nor bend their heads to a bridle.

…………………………………………………………………*****

Ambulant
by Maggie Mackay

This autumn is my healing time.
As crimson and gold smile in bursts
and we drown in the sky’s blue,
the pain is gone.
I’ll scatter leaves in peeling woods,
quaff sweet cider shed brew;
when time falls back, an hour of space
to contemplate the New Year,
my new blue suede shoes.
Come, Jack Frost and Snow Queen.
I’m ready. I’m ice steady.

…………………………………………………………………….*****

The Westminster
by Kersten Christianson

In the Pit we drink
Molson as if July
when the raucous
toss poker chips
& share a joint
across a rickety table

in the hide & seek shade
above the back alley.
But it’s winter, rime
gathers in corners,
51 below zero.
A girl careens,

spins with her pint
in the tin-foiled
dance room of twinkle
lights to Elton John.
Hold me closer, Tony
Danza.

…………………………………………………………………..*****

 

Brotherly Love
by Jim Bates

We were walking home at sunset from the neighborhood rink, skates swings from the blades of our hockey sticks. Little Eddie was eight years old, younger than me by three years and smaller by a head and a half. He was revved up after the game since it was the first time he’d gotten to play with ‘The Big Kids,’ as he called us, so he was excited and talking a mile a minute while I ignored him, thinking about Christmas coming up in two days and wondering if our parents would call.

The temperature was near zero and we were getting cold, so I did something I never should have done. I had us take a short cut across the big pond that formed one edge of the boundary to the trailer park where our grandparent’s double wide was parked. The ice had recently formed, but I figured it’d save us ten minutes, so why not take a chance, being as cold as we were.

Cold but thirsty. We were eating handfuls of snow as we shuffled along, and I was watching a dozen or so crows flocking to roost in dead tree on the shoreline a hundred yards away, when suddenly the ice made a sickening sound and started to crack. I immediately thought of Eddie. If we broke through he’d be toast. He wasn’t the strongest swimmer in the world.

I put my hand out, “Stop.” I commanded, and for once my brother obeyed me. I was about to say, “Don’t move,” when suddenly the ice gave way and we plunged into the frigid water, sticks and skates flying. Eddie held onto me while I grabbed for the edge, but the ice kept breaking away until I lost my hold and slipped off, pulled under by the combined weight of our waterlogged clothes. We sank down, down, Little Eddie clinging to me in terror, bubbles streaming from his mouth. I thought for sure we were done for when miraculously my feet hit the mucky bottom.

The water was so muddy all I could see was opaque light from the hole above, but I figured we had a chance. I held Little Eddie tight, squatted down and then extended my legs fast like two pistons, shooting us upward. We broke through the surface, coughing and gasping. I tried to tread water, but my boots were so heavy I soon became exhausted. Worse, I started to lose my grip on Little Eddie, so I tightened my hold on him and slung my other arm over the edge of the hole, but the ice broke and we started to sink again. Panicking, I kicked my legs as hard as I could to stay afloat, breaking through more ice before I finally found some solid enough to support us. I hung on for dear life completely spent with no idea what to do next.

It was then I heard Little Eddie whimpering. He had turned his cold, wet face into my neck for warmth or comfort or both. He was even more terrified than I was. His raw fear jump started my will to save him. With a sudden surge of energy I didn’t know I had, I kicked and

pushed and shoved with all my remaining strength until I was able to lever my nearly frozen brother up out of the water and clear of the hole. He lay panting and coughing while I hung onto the edge, fighting a losing battle with the unrelenting cold.

Slowly, Little Eddie began to revive until he was able to roll over and look at me, ice crystals forming on his wet clothes. “Rick, are you all right?”

“I’m freezing to death,” I told him, my teeth chattering. “You need to get help.”

“Won’t we get into trouble?”

These days, when we talk about that night, my brother’s statement always makes us laugh. Back then, though, our situation was too dire to be even remotely funny. I swore, “God damn it, Eddie, run and get help. Now. Fast.”

He scrambled to his feet, and even though his clothes were beginning to freeze solid like icy boards, he ran like I’d never seen him run before.

I’ll never forget waiting for him. Night had fallen completely and the temperature had become dangerously cold. My body had lost all feeling. My waterlogged boots and clothes threatened to drag me back under water at any moment. I passed into and out of consciousness as hypothermia took over. I wondered if I’d ever see my little brother again. With our parents both in prison for years to come, he was the closest family I had. Grandpa and Grandma did their best, but it wasn’t the same without Mom and Dad. Little Eddie…Well, he was my brother. We were family. We needed each other.

I finally passed out for good. I was slowly freezing to death when I thought I heard a voice. Was it my imagination? Probably. Then, I heard it again. What was going on? I forced my frozen eyelids open and saw Little Eddie. He’d returned with a neighbor who had called the police. But my little brother hadn’t waited safely off to the side like a prudent person would have done. Courageously, he had edged back onto the ice and laid himself out prone, extending his hand to me, “Here, Rick. Grab on.” Through the fog of my near unconsciousness, I followed his instruction. I reached for my brother and felt him grasp my hand.” I’ve got you,” he said. “Hold on.” And I did.

Behind him the neighbor was yelling at him to get away from the hole, but my brother ignored him. I couldn’t move or respond, but it didn’t matter. Little Eddie held my hand, whispered words of encouragement and stayed with me until help arrived. That’s what counted. Me and him, brothers to the end, safe and together. It was the best Christmas present I ever received.

………………………………………………………………………*****

Seeker
by Bethany Rivers

the self that’s dying in this
dusty wilderness of no-love

like a cloud that’s forgotten
how to rain

my feet are sore
from disconnection

I come to the stems & roots
of the yellow rose

just by the back door
in the garden

frost at its feet
slivers of sun glance

from its thorns
drops of petals & leaves

it looks like gorse in winter
but blooms yellow

in summer, exhales
the scent of honey

I want to know what
the roses know

………………………………………………………….*****

Trying to Listen
by Bethany Rivers

you tell me that below the surface
I’m a river waiting to burst
eager to reach the sea

you say I’m the sky
you breathe when the dark
gets too much

you say grass has hidden
its green under
the silver frost of night

you say a river still remembers
blue even when a quilted sky
breaks open

………………………………………………………………*****

Persephone Only Sleeps
by Bethany Rivers

when all the leaves have fallen
piles swept from underfoot

branches & twigs play moon ball
through the long night

your worry lines deepen wondering
how to survive another winter

your summer spark bedded down now
afraid it will go out

by the window in front of the long mirror
we share a candle in a jar

orange & cinnamon scents encompass
the holding of hands

together we breathe in the mould
the leaf stems the trampled mud on the rug

we let the season cold creep in
seeds have decided their underground spot

naked to frost patterned leaves & moon slivers
you & I surrender to the beauty of separation

………………………………………………………………..*****

if she were a country
Bethany Rivers

…………..she would be rural
not one of those office high heel types
clattering between lunch hours & hair appointments
not one of those suburban housewives who
vacuums cooks gets the kids to school
not a mountain guide or anything dangerous
nor is she a high flying exec zooming from
country to country with a tight black
briefcase & even tighter black leather
suitcase with the essentials packed just so

No! – she is tree-time she knows how to
breathe in slow to savour the freshness
of lichen air she is the frost
on the grass first thing in the morning
she is easy to melt under a warm touch

…………………………………………………………………….*****

to cup that day
by Bethany Rivers

that day we forgot our gloves
fingers turning red
you bending notebooks into bags

that day the robin sat on the shoulder
of the statue outside the library of stone sunshine
its tiny breath defrosted Darwin’s thought

that day the acacia sung with crimson
back-lit amongst long shadows
shedding green knowledge

that day you remembered to stop
rushing between appointments
to honour the hunger for love

you turned me toward winter skies
that day of cerulean blue
rowan berries ablaze

you upturned my palm
a leaf faltered mid-flight
crinkled a kiss upon my life-line

…………………………………………………………………..*****

All Dewy-Eyed
by Pauline May

Old Ellen tucks her meal for one
Safely into her invalid trolley
As she struggles out of the stiff shop door
That resists her wheels and stubborn body.

The new autumn chill smacks hard
Against her time-served face,
And the frost starts its sharp stabbing
Making her breath ache.

“You alright, love?” the cashier had asked
Seeing her face, streaked with tear-lines.
“Oh, I’m not crying! It’s the cold, you see.
I just get these watery eyes.”

Her husband’s love had quickly grown colder
Than the cubes in their fridge’s icebox
And his fist and his tongue had hit harder
Than unstoppable glacier rocks.

Aged eighteen, she’d walked with Alan
Through frost-laced autumn park trees.
She’d felt sure of his love and their future
As he’d kicked the iced golden leaves.

And her smile and her laugh had glistened,
“You’re my prince!” had been her love-line.
“What you crying for then?” he’d replied.
“Oh Alan, I’m not really crying,
It’s just, I’m all dewy-eyed.”

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

Cold Frames and Doors
by Pauline May

Their window frames a picture of hail
As singing ice-darts drill the glass.
Their concrete drive is a drumskin
As sky-stones bounce back sky-bourne,
Parallel pelting bones of snow.

As they stand together, hailstorm watching,
Pictures of past wintery blasts
Fill the aging couple’s minds;

She’s rushing now, short skirted schoolgirl,
Every hailstone Cupid’s wow,
Running to sweet bus-shelter meeting
Where their fingers pulled to bodies’ thrill
As angry mad ice-hard confetti rapped
And wrapped them in delight’s hot swill.

And back in the present
The grains of last grit-rain
Now more slowly slice the numb night air.
They stand as one, gaze at their garden,
Their winter garden’s dead extreme.

They stare at stars frozen solid,
Deep inside the wild wind’s hair.
They see those tears frozen diamond,
Clinging to the tattered weeds
And knowing longing freezes into awful knowledge,
They watch the melting marbles
From behind their brittle door.

……………………………………………………………………..*****

Seen
by Alexander Hamilton

The twinkle of the first rays
as they glance off a diamante web.
All be-dewed, all a sparkle
All the day’s eyes have opened
with no sound of a blink.
Wings unfurled with the day,
catalogue fresh, a Small Copper
hesitates on a Dandelion.
The slide and glide
of a Buzzard at the top of it’s gyre.
cuts loops in the air.
A Heron leaps to the sky
with silent swipes at the air.
The mute blue heavens
are hosting a cloud rally.
All have come, easing in.
A Toad, one leg raised
as though the next action forgot
blinks and sways and stops.
A puddle leaks to the next,
lifting and drifting pine needles.
A sentinel Docken gently claps
an errant vaguery of wind.
A Demoiselle, jewelled and lacquered
glints and is gone.
A belly down tabby glides on secret wheels
towards an unheeding bird.
Shiny black, slithy slug,
oozes away with relentless slowness.
A Dor beetle, pompously ponderous

…………………………………………………………………………*****

The Ice Hag
January

by Alexander Hamilton

Shrieking with glee, the Ice Hag
Rides in on the tails of the North Wind
She rips and roars, screaming her arrival
Clouds sailing majestically past
Are torn and shredded, flung to all corners
The stately procession turns to a despairing rout
At last breathless, she settles in to what she does best
Her long bony fingers poking into every crack
Picking at doors, prying at windows
Insinuating themselves into every crevice
Breathing her icy breath under and around
Infiltrating the very safest of places
Toads who thought themselves secure
Killed by a cold not planned for
Where she passes plants shrivel
Birds hide and quiver, voles shuffle deeper
Dried grasses, sere and withered, rattle restlessly
The silent death of cold slithers and coils
Cracks and swells butt and bucket
Pipes split, their surprise yet to come
Naked, gaunt branches reach and shake as she passes
Skeletal fingers tearing at cloud remnants
Ice crystals blink and glitter, crusting bush and rush
A spectral chime, imagined, not real, rings on the frozen air
A cold white moon lights crisped borders
Extra logs are put on the fire
And curtains
Drawn.

………………………………………………………… …………*****

Snowflake
by Jo Howard

I am pretty, crystalline, unique
I am here to freeze your bones and fuck up your infrastructure
I will lay my perfect dendrite frame upon your skin
Others will come; a swirling storm of hexiform beauty
Make no mistake; we have come for you.

A snow day
The schools are closed; the children thrilled
You are working from home and yet you cannot work
You have to find gloves and hats, boots and scarves
Have to dry them on sagging radiators
Traipse through the drifts to ill-stocked shops and home
To forge from our pristine forms a crude, carrot-nosed likeness of yourself

It’s sticking
Red weather warning
Avoid unnecessary travel
The cheery traffic reporter
Did you hear the note of fear?

Kids in sleds on flat city streets
Laughing. Larking. Let them. This can’t last. Can it?
You should have bought that multipack of beans
Stocked up on longlife milk.
For we will coat your world in a sugar frosting
So sweet it makes you scream for salt
The trains grind to a halt
A thick layer clogs the cogs
The whirring stops
In blanketed cars, engines turn over and go back to sleep

Through the blue shadows we come
And still we come, and still
Soft and caressing
We freeze hard, delivering death
The weak ones
You should have clasped them lionhearted to your bosom
But no, you let them freeze

We have come to shame you
To expose your petty constructs
You haven’t enough grit
You are cloying, coagulating
Your very blood becomes viscous
Frozen: Pretty, crystalline, unique

…………………………………………………………………….*****

Inside Winter
by Ron Lavalette

The snow is only a paper snow today, only a
story of snow outside the window, and the snowdrifts
I pass in the hallway are only paper snowdrifts.

This morning there’s imaginary sunlight.
I bask in it in bed from nine til noon, a new man
in a new year under the same old imaginary sun.

The sky today is a painted sky
and the imaginary sun is only pinned to it
the way a child pins a paper dragon to a bedroom wall.

Outside, I can see the air in motion. I watch it
through the window, remembering the snow
is only paper, blowing away, forgetting to bite.

…………………………………………………………………….*****

Stormfront: Bookstore Café
by Ron Lavalette

It seems like half the town comes in
for coffee between noon and two,
most of them hooded and mittened
against the cold, some of them
—despite their best efforts—
appear nearly frostbitten, their
movement toward the café tables slow,
their utterances clipped, their eyes
still frozen into a sub-zero squint.

He peers at them intently
from his corner table, observes
them so carefully that, mesmerized,
he almost ceases to exist.

Suddenly, a snow squall breaks out
over by the periodicals. Small drifts
build up around the travel guides,
ice forms on the cookbooks.

……………………………………………………………*****

The Tulips are Doomed
by Pam Kress-Dunn

The tulips are doomed,
sitting ducks in tonight’s late frost,
two feet tall and naked. Red as
my mother’s Revlon lipstick, they opened
shamelessly all day in the sun, but close tight now
at twilight, succulent triangles cupping
their deep black centers.
Clustered unaware under the moonless night sky
clear of any warming cloud, they stand
mute, bunched and rooted,
undefended as the air plunges to chill.
In the morning, their petals are puckered,
and beginning to fail.
One severed bloom I found yesterday
floats in a cup of mild water
inside the house –
beheaded, but warm, and perfect.

…………………………………………………………………..*****

Winter Windows
by Pam Kress-Dunn

Morning’s lemon sun draws me
to the glass, until some frozen presence
makes me step away, a draft like a warning breath
from the east-facing kitchen window. A gnawing
numbness grips my hand, and my body becomes
a glass of jagged ice cubes, colliding underwater.
The sun has folded back under the clouds, visible
only to travelers on airplanes. They look down
to find the farm fields gone, a length
of cotton batting between the sky and the ground.

I stand in the kitchen, robe buttoned to the top,
assessing the night’s flow of snow to the grassy ground.
Red roofs, green roofs, orange terracotta roofs
surrender their color to white. Kids on snow day
come out to test their sleds down our hill,
until the flakes sifting their shoulders
turn to hard-nailed fingers. Rain shifts
briefly to sleet, throwing dice against the eaves,
knocking to come in.

This is a day to bake bread, roll pie crusts, fashion
cookies to eat before they cool. Everyone
is at work but me. I go back ten years to that day
on the sixth floor, asking my boss if the man I saw
standing by the hall windows every day was all right,
his outward-turned face unreadable.
Oh, him, she laughed. He just loves to be outside.
A hunter, maybe, a catcher of catfish, laboring away
in a windowless office, taking an imaginary breath
of fresh air at the sealed glass.

One day at those windows, I saw eighteen vultures
making a kettle, stirring in circles on the August breeze;
scalloped wingtips combing the invisible air, gesturing
to the rest of their tribe from miles away.
The man was there. You can’t tell me they’re not
having fun, he said, the blue of the sky in his eyes.
Later that year, the leaves gone, the sky lowering,
he stood behind me, watching the first snowflakes
bloom. I didn’t know he was there until we both turned
to go back to our work. Queen Anne’s Lace, I said,
and his face softened again. We sighed in unison,
in tune with the unheard wind
outside, gathering cold bouquets.

…………………………………………………………………………..*****

Shuffling Homeward
by Mantz Yorke

A dull October day. Rain

begins to fall from clouds
grey as the shadows
that give substance to our being.
Here the freshly-fallen leaves –
yellow, red and orange – hush
the feet of mourners leaving
the dead: the dying
fires of autumn linger
over the graves,
scattering ashes in the guttering
light of late afternoon.

The dampness of decay
rises as we shuffle homeward
through the leaves – past ebullience
turned dank and mouldering,
awaiting the cleanliness of frost.
Soon clocks will be turned back,
evenings draw in quicker
than ever we expect:
shall we be prepared?
Have we candles to light
the journey we will one day make
down this same pathway?

………………………………………………………………………………*****

Ice Giants
by Ann Cuthbert

Ice Giants bar
the gates, branch

patterns onto wood,
breathe hoar, fern-like

onto locks, frost
heads of rusty bolts.

Rime needles flower,
rims edge of petal.

Spicules scintillate,
scatter light in all directions.

Atmospheric icing
invades our chests,

loads hearts like branches,
coffins us in frozen snow.

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

Ode to Dusk
by Abigail Barnett

Finality
…………in the mouth,
a hiss of mystery,
an exhale,
…………a summons.

With Dusk,
you approach
………..and run away
all at once.

Dusk squints
and you
turn purple and metallic and
…………………..reach up
…………………..as Dusk drops
………..down
a vial of sunset.

Pop the cork
………….and lift the glass—
it smells of lavender,
………….quilts,
………….dead grass and
……………………………….promises.

Dusk turns to go,
…………winks
…………past the mountains,
and leaves you with the
………….itch

……………………..to
blink the night
………..behind your eyelids
or follow him into
the sequined city.

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

Cracked Seeds
by Caroline Johnstone

Your branches broken, vicious winds
scattered your strength
to the end of the road.

Skeleton, what’s left of you,
is still beautiful; you are soft
in your skin and bones.

Translucent dew on soft
spider’s webs holds smooth
segments dormant.

Frost cracks seeds open;
possibilities of new life
when you surrender to change.

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

Time Between
by Gail Grycel

It was as if the Fall leaves hadn’t had time
to parade themselves around New England.
The usual flamboyancy faltered and fizzled
under the affliction of some silent foreboding.
They nosedived. Perhaps with fragile glances
across their veins, they cast themselves
through cavalier warm breezes
into November, then December.

But the cold bite came in time for the light’s
return. Time’s edge chilled with frostbite.
Every naked branch lowered
under the cutting freeze
spitting snow, ice, sleet.

Like the leaves,
once the dark pushed past its mark,
in rushed the glow—
hibernating daydreams
softening the crust,
slowly breaking free.

Even snow is too timid to assert itself
into the year end’s shiver,
and the nostalgia of warmer winters past
haunts like a Dicken’s ghoul—

who am I?
gasping for the burning coal’s flicker
through the woodstove’s glass front,
heaving against the bitter frost
of what needs to cycle,
release,
clear.

……………………………………………………………………….*****

Down and Down
by Judy Swann

From Pistoia before dawn one winter morning
we headed for L’Aquila, where the sun was still
half below ground, and looking down from Gran Sasso
with God’s-eye-view we saw only cloud.

Cloud, white as meringue, deceptive, not as dense
as it seemed. We lurched in that Fiat like a settler
ship on the Beaufort Sea, the frost-choked air
cutting visibility down to a few stiff fingers of breath.

And down and down we inched along the narrow
ridges, playing off the snooker-sided pavement
opening the doors and feeling the road with our feet,
struggling with premonitions of accident

metal wreckage, dented guardrails, graveled tracks
until finally we reach the dew-kissed valley.

……………………………………………………………………*****

Winters
by Megha Rani

This unhinged cystic pain of sobbing winter
a pain too dark and surreal to be absorbed by the autumn
and it spills over
smears the ashen face of the shifty-eyed moon
this surreal point of solitude
blurring the edges
that boundary
between the days and the nights

when the days get mercifully devoured by the
obsidian dark elongated
nights and its talons
picking at the scabs
of the tepid souls
of you and me
you know the winters have arrived

I look outside my window
everything has been stripped naked
preened to the bone
those vultures of silences
picking at the eye of my songbird
darkness swirling in the black of my eye
they are blinded by the darkness

shadows are dissolving slowly
these winters are damp
frosty like the muted death
peeling off like that scaly
walls of my bedroom
like the broken promises
chipped off at the edges
a thin pellicle dissolving in acid.

…………………………………………………………………………*****

Anamoly
by Megha Rani

A limp soiled body
dragged from the depth of the river
a warm body,
like the palms of a young child
strong like the ash cinder block
lips pale with a tinge of dark blue
death has its own color
a shade unseen,
the mouth which blew the kisses
where the lilies were once born
now a cold barren land
everything is frozen around me
except for the river
which now flows calmly
devoured him a minute ago
I wept like the willow tree
still yet frozen
on the banks of that river
grief morphs itself in various ways
I can’t still tell you the shape of the death
or where the crack is
the point where the soul left the body
a remnant of pain
my body feels like the scorched earth
by the unforgiving yellow summer sun
still yet frozen
on a cold winter morning

……………………………………………………………………………..*****

Scotch Mist
by Bethany Garry

the river in the dark
and the rotting leaves

the water cold, deep and dark
on my lashes,
in my shoes

the water old, quick and clear
between the blink of my eyes,
frost on the home window

I breathe an ocean
hanging in the still of air
waiting to settle with dawn

This was all once a woman’s weeping,
tell your daughters when they swim in snowmelt
the crashing waves have been something else
tell your mother the rain is reborn
one day it will be a northern glacier

the rain in the dark
and the rotting leaves

the water under the bridge
and the pull of the river

…………………………………………………………………*****

Ice Out
by Ed Ahern

Winter lets go of the river
with parting waves of snow
and growling goodbyes
as jumbled slabs of ice,
piled shore to shore,
grind stream-grass into confetti
and toted boles of trees
drift on gelid voyages
into flotsam diaspora.

…………………………………………………………………………….*****

Arthritis
by Gareth Culshaw

Her legs have gone. They have seized up,
and she balances as a seagull in high wind
on a beach groyne. The knees have been
frosting for years, holding back the words she
should have said.

Her hair silver in the glow of sun. Words
caught by frost and frozen. Then they crack
and fall to the floor. The coldness clamps
her down.

The steps shortened until she needs wheels
to get her through the minutes and hours.
Until her shadow is framed by metal,
and then hung on a wall, frozen.

…………………………………………………………………*****

Preparedness
by Mark Connors

You recall a neighbour, a newly single mum, a perpetual blur in her dressing gown, how she dealt with brutal frosts, twenty minutes prior to school run, tooled up with a kettle, freshly boiled. Not a fan of de-icer or your Santa-gloved scraper, you opted for the red vase your ex-wife left behind. You only bought flowers when you had something to say sorry for and it would not occur to you to brighten up the kitchen now she’s gone. When the ice comes, you put it to good use, fill it with lukewarm water. You mansplained the risks of kettles to your friend next door: the likelihood of shattered windscreens, or skin grafts should she slip on garden path. But she’s governed by experience, as you are. You both know when things work, when things don’t. The red vase didn’t make it to the house with your new partner. These days, you use the same technique but it takes a little longer with a pint glass. Her vase is far too big for this task. You fill it with flowers when you have nothing to say sorry for. You wonder if your neighbour has moved on.

……………………………………………………………………..*****

Different Climes
by Gary Beck

Freezing weather
grips the city
in artic talons,
forcing the homeless
to find warm refuge,
go to a shelter,
or perish on the streets.
Unlike hurricane,
other natural disaster
this is not considered
emergency,
so the doors of survival
are not thrust open
to the abandoned,
while the prosperous
are snug and comfy,
untroubled by the cold.

………………………………………………………………….*****

Sculpture Gardens
by John Scottie Collins

They walked through the ornate cast iron gates together. It was a sunny February afternoon which, to start with, had been unseasonably warm, but as the day progressed the temperature fell and droplets of moisture formed on the grass giving it a silver sheen.

‘Remind me what this place is called, Andrew.’

‘The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Sculpture Garden.’

‘Jesus, that’s a mouthful. I’ve ofter wondered where you sneak off to when you leave the office early. How often do you come here?’

‘Most days, weather permitting.’

‘Don’t you find it a bit lonely?’

‘No, I love the tranquility, particularly at this time of year, when there are hardly any tourists about, it soothes me. The gardens are beautiful and, believe it or not, I like modern sculpture. Some of it touches me deeply.’

The gardens certainly were spectacular, even in winter; manicured lawns, weed free borders, impeccably trimmed hedges and an array of trees and shrubs, many of them coniferous. As Doug looked around his spirits rose. He liked neatness and order.

‘Which is your favourite exhibit?’

‘The Henry Moore, “Reclining Figure”.’

‘The one that looks like a fat woman with a hole where her belly button should be?’

Andrew smiled. ‘That’s the one.’

The sculpture was burnished gold in the sunlight. As they approached it they spontaneously reached out to touch the dew dampened bronze. Their hands briefly met and Doug’s heart rate quickened.

‘What’s the attraction?’

‘I suppose she represents my ideal of womanhood. The archetypal earth mother; nurturing, full of emotional and spiritual understanding.’

‘Is your wife like that?’

Andrew sighed. ‘No, Helen’s nothing like that. She’s very practical.’

‘Do you have kids?’

‘No, that’s not on Helen’s agenda. She’s committed to her work, she’s a civil engineer. Her job takes her all over the world. We’ve become like ships that pass in the night. She’s in Hong Kong at the moment.’ Andrew looked solemn.

‘Pity, you’d make a lovely dad.’

‘Would you like to have kids?’

‘Oh yes, but circumstances don’t really permit.’

‘Why on earth not?’

‘For starters, I’m not interested in women, in a romantic way.’

‘Oh, I hadn’t realised, but there are ways of getting around that; adoption, surrogacy.’

‘Also, I look after my dad. When mum died suddenly, he was already in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. He couldn’t manage on his own and I’m an only child. Nothing like a demented father to keep suitors at bay.’

Their eyes met. Andrew held Doug’s gaze for a moment, then looked away. ‘You’re a decent man. The right guy’ll come along, someone who’ll appreciate your qualities and won’t see your father as an obstacle.’

A blush spread across Doug’s cheeks. ‘I’m afraid I’ve missed the boat. I’m not getting any younger.’

‘Welcome to the club. What do you think of the sculptures?’

‘This Barbara Hepworth piece; I don’t get it. What’s it called?’

‘I think it’s “Conversations With Magic Stones”.’ 

‘I’m not keen on this modern stuff to be honest. I prefer something a bit more classical.’

‘Like the statues in Princes Street Gardens?’

‘Exactly. My favourite is the one of Sir Walter Scott. The statue under the Monument.’

‘Isn’t it a bit staid?’

‘I think it really captures his spirit. There’s a solidity about it that conveys integrity, loyalty, wisdom. Qualities I admire.’

‘I’ve never thought of him in that way.’

‘He was a fascinating man. An eminent lawyer, like you.’

‘I’m hardly “eminent,” lawyers are two a penny in Edinburgh these days.’

‘He was the toast of Scottish society, and built himself a grand country house near Melrose. He called it “Abbotsford”.’

‘After the pub in Rose Street?’ They both laughed.

‘It was the other way round, as you well know. When I was in my teens I was enthralled by his stories. “Waverley,” “Ivanhoe” and “Rob Roy.” I thought they were the greatest books ever written. Full of romance and derring do, but I eventually realised that the real world’s nothing like that.’

‘Why don’t we take a look at the statue before it gets too late. I’d love to hear more about the good Sir Walter.’

They alighted from the bus at the east end of Princes Street, crossed the busy road and entered the Gardens. The sun had set and the late afternoon had grown cold. Doug noticed that the dew on the grass had turned to frost. This routine transformation seemed magical to him today. Ice crunched under their feet as they approached the Scott Monument.

‘D’you know Doug, in some ways the floodlighting improves the appearance of the statue. It gives the marble texture. To be frank I think it looks pretty nondescript in daylight.’

‘I suppose you’re right. It’s not just the statue, but Scott as a man that I admire. He lost all of his money in a banking crisis in 1825 but, rather than declaring himself bankrupt, which would have been the easy option in some ways, he cleared his debts through his writing. It took the rest of his life, but he persevered. In the process, he became the most famous novelist of his day.’

‘It’s turned chilly. Let’s find somewhere to have a dram, to warm us up.’

‘Why not? We could go to The Abbotsford. It’s just over the road. You can put me right about Barbara Hepworth. I can only stay for one though, I’ve got to get home to give my dad his tea.’

‘Perhaps I could come with you. I’d like to meet your father.’

‘He’d love that. He seldom sees anyone but me.’

As they walked across the frozen lawn towards the gate, Andrew put his hand, companionably on Doug’s shoulder. Despite the cold, Doug could sense a hint of spring in the air.

…………………………………………………………………….*****

Snowed In
by Peter Nolan

On the second night of the snow Dempsey and Andy walked to the pub. They passed the race field under the warm yellow glow of street lamps, snowflakes silently falling through haloes to the shrouded ground. Sounds became whispers and the village looked like it was packed ready for a move. The familiar shapes of buildings, cars, hills, milestones, trees; covered with thick white blankets, ready for leaving at a moment’s notice.

“This is brilliant!” Dempsey shouted out as they walked. “I’m having more of this.”

Dempsey was now taller than Andy and growing into his handsome adult features.

“It is. They say we might be snowed in.” Andy replied.

“I heard that too. Fucking brilliant. No school! Fucking brilliant! This calls for a celebration. Come on!”

Dempsey slowed to remove his jacket and threw it to the ground. He started dancing under the lights, removing his woollen jumper. Lifting his face to the sky he unbuttoned his shirt, taking that off too.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

“Celebrating! Come on!”

“No fucking way.” Andy began picking up Dempsey’s clothes. As he is stooped for his friend’s jacket a boot whizzed by his head, then another. Then a sock, then another, then trousers and then underpants; all cast off into the white air. Andy laughed at the madness of his friend. Dempsey, now naked, running and skipping through the snow, kicking it up into softly exploding waves of white.

“Free! We’re free!”

“Come on man it’s fucking freezing out here!”

“Free I tell ya! Can you hear me Laytown?”

There is no one to hear or to see him. No cars passing, nobody out walking on a night like tonight. Only Dempsey running through the snow, delighted and naked, celebrating and freezing.

“Jesus! I’m freezing my rocks off! Here throw me my trousers.”

He dressed quickly. Andy holds him steady when he’s putting on his socks and boots.

“Right! Now let’s get a beer!” he announces and they resume their walk to the bar. The snow continues to fall.

Snow falls over the sea, the long beach, the rivers, the fields, the houses and the roads and does not stop. The roads to the towns between the two rivers made impassable with drifts. The narrow country roads linking them to work or school or shopping defeated by the silent, white embrace of snowfall. Then the water pipes freeze and the little villages are without water. Then the electricity is cut off by the unlikely weight of snow and suddenly their families are cooking with little gas burners and lighting fires and brightening their homes with candles.

There is a tiny, fresh water stream that ends at the beach between the viewing platform and Victoria Terrace. Each day they go with plastic containers to collect water and bring it home.

Dempsey calls to their door and Andy answers.

“Come on out I have a great idea.”

“OK.”

“Bring Gary along too.”

“OK. Gary!”

“Wha?”

“We’re going out. You coming?”

“OK.”

“You two wrap up warm! Don’t be late!”

“OK Mum”

“OK Mum”

They put on coats and scarves and hats and gloves and the trio walk towards Highfield. They slide along the icy umbilical laneway connecting Beach Park and Highfield as Dempsey explains his idea.

“We climb up onto the railway bridge over the road and throw snowballs down onto the cars as they go under scaring the bejesus out of them.”

“But the roads are blocked.”

“Dad says that local cars are using the roads. The drifts are biggest nearer to Drogheda. Thanks be to fuck. We might never have to go to school again.”

Youth has no time for second thoughts. They do not weigh up his plan carefully in their minds, balancing action and consequence. They simply agree that it answered a call for adventure. They walk through the darkened village towards the little railway bridge; walk up to the station, then onto the tracks until they reach the little metal fence. They bend over it to look down on the road.

These nights have been the darkest they have ever lived through. The clouds above are black and fat with snow, blocking the moon and stars. There are no street lights now. Sometimes they see a weak candle light from a window. On top of the bridge the snow is thick and untouched. They prepare snowballs in anticipation for their first victim. They wait. And wait.

“Here’s one!”

“Quick! Get ready!”

The car is driving from the village and they fire at it as it goes under the bridge. They all hit it and love hearing the padded thumps of the soft snowy impacts. The car drives on through the night unharmed. They wait for another victim. And wait.

“Here’s one!”

The car is coming from Julianstown. It will be emerging from under the bridge this time. They throw and watch their snowballs explode onto the roof of the car and feel the joy in their hearts. It quickly turns to fear when the car stops, the driver leaps out, running back towards them.

“Fuck!”

“Run!”

They run as fast as they can. Andy is nearly over the river before he realises he is alone. The other two are far behind him, running towards in the other direction to the station-house. He turns and runs to catch up. He runs faster than he ever has, hearing the shuffling run of an adult panting up the hill from the gate of the station. He runs to catch up with his friend and his brother.

He reaches the platform on the station house side and runs by the paint worn wooden building. He runs by the flower pots made from inside-out car tyres, running all the way to the end of the platform. He is alone. He can just about see the shadow of a man reaching the opposite platform.

“Andy!”

He wheels around towards the ditch. He sees nothing.

“Andy! Down here!”

They are down in the ditch. To get to them he needs to throw himself over or through or under a thick hedge of blackberry bushes.

“How?”

“Just fucking jump!”

He leaps, hoping he’ll land safely. His thick coat protects him from the thorns and his landing is surprisingly soft onto long grass covered with thick snow. He searches through the darkness for Dempsey and Gary.

“Here.”

He hears them whisper and barely sees them lying flat at the bottom of the bushes. He crawls towards them and they all go quiet as they hear the footsteps getting nearer and nearer. This is it. If they are found they’ll be beaten.

“Hush! Andy! Hush!”

His breath is wheezing. It is whistling clear through the night. He will be heard and they’ll be discovered. He draws a long breath in through his mouth and then pushes his face into the bend of his elbow, biting the thick, wet fabric of his coat. He holds his breath to silence the wheeze. He hears the footsteps pacing the platform above them, searching for them. Andy bites harder into his coat, suffocating himself to stay safe, his heartbeat thumping throughout his body. The footsteps stop.

“Fuckers.”

He hears the man turn and walk away. They looked at each other; signalling silence and patience. They wait. The sounds of the steps grow distant and Andy can finally suck air into his lungs. They wait. Then they stand, unable to see over the hedge to the platform.

“Let’s go this way. Out the back and by the dump and it’ll look like we’re coming from Seafield if he catches us.” Gary said.

“OK but let’s stick to the beach until Highfield.”  Dempsey added.

They walk warily through the white grass, cross the road under the sleeping giant iron bridge until they reach the river. They are silent and watchful until they reach the sandy banks of the river. They turn left at the sea to begin their walk on the dark beach. Surrounded by the bitter wind and monolithic murmuring of the freezing sea they finally feel safe.

“That was…” said Gary

“Shit?” said Dempsey

“Yeh…shit” they agreed.

More snow fell that night and the children of the village woke to see a world wiped clean and new. Some stretched in their beds and turned back into their own warmth under their covers. Another day of freedom awaited and they had no idea where it might lead them. Others leaped to windows, drawing back curtains, delighting in the new snow fall that protected their world a little longer.

With limited entertainment in the small village it was inevitable that groups, who would never normally spend time together, comingled for the sake of variety. Like prisoners they began to value small changes in routine.  On this morning the group included teenagers who were about to leave for college or had been accepted into the guards, teenagers who had finished their intermediate exams in the summer, and teenagers who were still children. No one was a stranger, they knew each other to see, knew where each other lived and knew each other’s parents.

This group of sixteen or so had flocked together randomly at the Highfield and Beach Park laneway. It was lunchtime and they had thrown more snowballs, whizzed down more ice slides, fallen hard and risked their necks more often in the past week than they ever would again. They all wanted to do something new.

“St Patrick’s Well?” Ger, at seventeen an elder of the group, suggested. He was part of a trio that included John and Andrew, who naturally assumed the mantle of leadership. This made sense to the rest of the group, not that it was democratic, but they all knew that Ger, John and Andrew were sound and capable. They were always friendly even to those younger than them and so were trusted.

“A walk?” asked Andrew.

“We could go as far as the castle.” suggested John.

The word ‘Castle’ was transmitted throughout the group, eyes brightened with the promise of a new adventure.

“A fuckin” castle! Brilliant!” said Andy. He and Gary were still newcomers to the village and it was the first time he’d heard about a castle. He was also chuffed to have the same name as one of the elders and assumed this gave him some importance within the group. It didn’t.

The early afternoon sun shone from a clear blue sky onto the white village below.

“If we’re going to the castle we need to leave now to be back before dark.” observed Andrew.

“You’re right there. Let’s head.” said Ger.

They set off through Highfield, walking or sliding down the slope to cross over the road to reach the beach.

“It looks like an alien planet.” said John.

Instead of sand and seaweed the beach was white and the sea iced as it shallowed to the touch of the shore. The pale low sun blinding them they walked towards The Nanny river. The wind from the sea was cold and they stayed close to each other, silently trudging through the snow, passing The Racefield, Victoria Terrace, the fresh water stream and onwards to pass the viewing stand that overlooked a coastline that stretched from Ireland’s Eye to The Mountains of Mourne.

They turned right at the estuary and walked upriver to the footbridge. The wind wailed behind them but they were now protected from its chill. Scarves were lowered from faces and words could finally be spoken.

“Where the fuck are we going?”

“No idea. I was following you.”

“Someone mentioned a castle.”

“A castle?”

They crossed the wooden footbridge, feeling it vibrate as they trenched, turning right towards the old red brick schoolhouse perched on the river bank. The bending river and the tree lined road further protected them from the wind and some removed hats to rub itchy scalps. They stayed tightly bunched mainly because the younger ones were nervous of being left behind and lost.

Under a long canopy of trees arching over the narrow country road, some of them mentioned that it was getting darker as they walked. By the time they emerged to the open road, flanked by fields to the left and the river to the right, flakes of snow were falling from the iron sky. It was a short walk along the road to the woods and the fabled St Patrick’s Well.

“Why’s it called St Patrick’s Well, Ger?”

“No idea.”

When they reached the boundary wall of the woods just at the bend in the road the snow was falling heavily upon them as they entered the meagre cover of the winter trees. They followed the older boys in a single file along an animal track towards the river. It was the first time many of them had visited this place and most had never heard of it before.

“Dad says he banned salmon from The Nanny.”

“Who?”

“Who’d you think? Patrick you tool!”

“Did he? Why?”

“No idea.”

Their group stood around the little grey stone arch replete with brittle icicles, from which a sparkling stream of water emerged briefly before it was lost to sight in the thick undergrowth on its final journey to the river.

“It’s not much is it?”

“This is not the real well. That’s back up beside the school house.”

“Fuck off. Really?”

“No this is the real well lads.” John said and they all believed him.

“Why’d Patrick ban the salmon John?”

“Did he?”

“According to Dempsey’s Dad he did.”

“Oh I didn’t know that. I wonder why he’d ban salmon.”

“It’s bullshit anyway. I caught one last year with Dad.” Magill said.

“Fuck off. Really?”

“We’d better head to the castle or we won’t make it back before dark.” Ger reminded them.

They returned to the narrow road and walked up the hill. The tree branches arched over their heads in a vain effort to shelter them from the snow. Soon their troop reached the top of the hill and a choice of roads. The view was dominated by a wide, long field of white sloping upwards from all sides to a mound. John, Ger and Andrew discussed which road to take.

The younger ones paid little or no attention until they heard that the castle might be off the agenda.

Andrew suggested walking to Mosney, cutting through it somehow and coming out at the back gate to take the back road home. Ger was considering it but John was emphatically against it.

“Look, it’s getting darker and the snow is still falling. We need to be turning for home in an hour and we’ll miss the castle”

The younger ones agreed with John and protested that the castle was the only reason they came along in the first place.

“Besides we’ll be killed if we’re not home before it gets dark.”

They agreed to walk to the rock in the field and then to the castle and then home. The snow continued as they all jumped over the hedge into the pristine white field. No animal foot had stepped upon the new snowfall. No birds were in the dark grey sky. They made for the rock standing tall atop the wide mound. It was twice as tall as any of them and, at its base it took five of them stretching to link their hands around it.

“What is it?”

“What’s it for?”

“Did it fall from the sky?”

“Don’t be so thick!”

John told them it was the tomb of Cuchulainn’s charioteer, Laogh. Their town was named after him, Laogh Town became Laytown. Officially his tomb is on the other side of the river but most of them would never know that and be none the poorer for it. For them this stone on this mound marked his burial. Each of them would remember responding to the urge to run and dance around the standing rock as the snow fell heavily from a darkening sky, whooping tribal chants they’d just invented. They each patted the stone goodbye as they left on the final part of their journey to the castle.

It was a short walk up through the field to the entrance of the castle. Its gate was unwelcoming and dark but they were encouraged by the older trio who calmly walked through it as if they were the rightful owners. The path was gravel and their footsteps crunched loudly as they walked. It was getting darker and the snow was falling heavier. The castle was on an exposed hill overlooking the river and the sudden wind found and chilled them.

In the courtyard the dark grey castle loomed before them. It was not a ruin as some had expected. It had glass windows and one of them noticed that the front door had a bell-button just like her house. Its little orange light clearly visible in the growing darkness. John, Andrew and Ger led them around the side and here they could see a single light in a ground floor window.

“Someone’s there!”

“They’ll call the police!”

“We’re trespassing! We’ll be in trouble!”

They stood looking at the light for a few moments half expecting a door to open and dogs to be unleashed upon them and shotguns to be brandished. But nothing happened.

John looked up at the sky and shivered in the wind.

“This is a blizzard. We should get home quickly. Let’s cut across the grounds!” He led the way despite protests from Andrew and Ger. He ignored them and told everyone to stay close. He pointed across the grounds to the fields beyond and explained that by walking this way they’d be home maybe an hour sooner. They marched off through the grounds of the castle.

But the wind was cutting and slashed them with snow flurries each step of the way. The sky was now filled with black clouds and they couldn’t see far ahead. If words needed to be exchanged they were shouted.

“Keep together!”

“Hold onto Elayne!”

They huddled together, shoulders gently touching, reassuring at each step. They had no idea where they were. Looking around all they would see would be snow barrelling towards them and wide empty white fields. They trudged through the snow up to their knees. Each step sapping their energy. Their warm clothes were designed for wet Irish winters, their shoes were normal everyday shoes that they’d wear to school or the shops. But they didn’t know that and because they never stopped moving they never felt the cold. Their faces remained warm tucked under jacket collars or scarves, their exhaled breath mingling with the cold white wind as they walked through the whiteness.

No one spoke or made jokes or observation. As a group they needed to get home and they bit into the journey and delighted when they reached the road along the river because then they knew they’d be home soon, changed into warm, dry clothes and sitting beside a fire waiting for their suppers. Within two days the thaw came to release the villages back to the wider world.

………………………………………………………………..****

Strategy vii: Take a walk with Laura Mvula
by Alice Willitts

when my noon shadow……… ………..is longer than the tree……. ……..that scaffolds the
frost blades……………….. yes ……………………but hold me first….. …..gilded
squint of a woman…………. …..and………..leg blind

how glorious, this light in us, we are a wonder

December composts days
……..to let us fall
……..to be litter
in the briefest armful……….. and shelters us…….. …………..sharpest in the light

………………………………………………………………………………*****

Strategy iv: Freezing
by Alice Willitts

That first harsh frost does the work
of grief ………….as glittering tripwires hold
each….. dead
leaf…………….. let me hear you
…………………..the chink chink

of the anxious blackbird……………… calling on the work of winter
where berries and cases and leaves…………………..go down
as it was intended
……………..as they so expected to
………………………………as they so absolutely knew

and watch the sunline move certainly………. down the garden
yellow leaves ripple………. towards me…………….. until the pleaching
rays inch into my dark blue... line
……………………………..and thaw all that I cannot

……………..to be bare and raw to the mourning
………………………………………..and drop hot tears in the standing dawn

…………………………………………………………………….*****

Strategy x: Eyes On Us All
by Alice Willitts

On the dipped still
of every leaf
water droplets hang
perfect eyes to the sky-hedges

only bird breath calls
the still air
muffled like snow days…………… heartbeats dig
……………………………………………………scattering dirt
……………………………………………………and still the still
……………………………………………………silver droplets
……………………………………………………eye us all
……………………………………………………bird, gardener, planet

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

After Kiruna
by Maya Horton

Beyond the monochrome, colour sets in. Dark-ashen-grey-green Picea.
Red-hued textured bark: Pinus sylvestris.
Betula pendula, skin like variegated lunar craters.
Lemon-yellow Xanthoria blisters. Larix as faux-deadwood.

The sky, too, is almost blue.

The steel-road bisects the forest. Connects Europe. One hundred
wagons of coal a day. This is not wildness:
the metre-deep snowpack is your drinking water. That dam
is your power. And the dark pines,
sunflecked with jewels, are tomorrow’s timber. Incidental squirrels
leap from bough to close-knit bough. Life finds a way to survive.
These hills – that shape the horizon, scatter sunlight off heavy frozen
water molecules in the upper atmosphere – are spoils.
Spoils from the largest iron ore mine in the world. An ageing bomber
flies low over the train. Returning to base.

One day there’ll be a spaceport here.

This is not an office-worker’s idle fantasy.
Not Odin riding Sleipnir through the wildwood. Of snarling wolves,
romantically poised, tracking lone reindeer through the snow.
There are well-defined paths for adventurers to follow.

Mineworkers throw scraps of fried chicken to ravens.

They used to do it for good luck,
but nobody believes that anymore.

…………………………………………………………………….*****

Cooling off
by Hannah Stone

The relationship grew frosty.
I took my hurt for a walk.
The sun was a bleach-mark
in a faded January sky.

Ice glazed the path.
Beneath it, thaw-water trickled
down the hillside. Snow
patched the hollows in the track.

I asked my hurt could it heal,
and when my boot cracked the ice,
water seeped in, and I knew
we’d failed the stress test.

………………………………………………………………………*****

Grace
by Kirsteen Bell

The wind is coming from the east, so fast and cold that when I put my hand to the door to unlock it I feel a breath of ice through the keyhole. Outside I pause a moment, conscious that something is missing. The sudden frost is silent.

There is a burn on the embankment that always – even at the height of a hot dry summer week – has a faint trickle dripping down its rough steps of crushed and broken stone. It is held in a deep V of earth that makes climbing its small but steep terraces feel like gorge-walking to a 3 year old. At this moment though, it is still. The water has been suspended on its passage from the higher plateaus of moor to the sea-loch below, its clarity now opaque, its movement slowed into tendrils and waves of long white hair, rarely glimpsed; its relentless force held in a moment of grace.

There is however still a flow. Just as water finds a flow-path of least resistance, so too does the air; so too must life. Water. Air. The things that sustain us. Our limbs and lungs, our hearts and minds, are on average almost three-quarters water. Our bodies are therefore governed by the same forces that direct the flow in rivers and rivulets down the side of mountains, through the ditches dug through fields, in the sap that is pushed from the root of a tree to its crown, and in the blood of our veins.

The ditches dug on the croft prevent the water from pooling and washing across the surface of the land, taking soil, trees, crops, walls, or roads with it. There is another much older ditch that runs down another steep bank, along what could be the remains of an older wall, just solid lumps and humps of moss and long grass now. The ditch itself is mostly overgrown, dammed here and there by thick fallen birch logs. But, dammed or frozen, the flow of the water cannot be stopped. With enough energy behind it the water will ignore the path of least resistance and push forwards, onwards, but always to the same destination, down to the lowest point where it will pause a while more.

The loch is still this morning, the air bright. A shrunken grey heron sits hunched on a rock at the edge of the shore, facing the approaching glow of another day. Hovering above the water are soft white ripples of air, a concertinaed breath held in the cold morning. To us, who move so fast, it appears motionless, a whisper of white echoed on the glassy surface; but the loch’s wavering breath is lifting towards the sky.

………………………………………………………………………….*****

High Humidity
bt Alwyn Marriage

wet and white, mist wraps around
an all but disappearing world

insinuates itself between
the needles of the pine

spreads darker shadows on the lawn
leaves smears along the footpath

and pokes its interfering nose in crevices
where insects try to warm themselves on stone

then bounds towards us with its lolling tongue
slavering our faces, welcoming us home.

………………………………………………………………………*****

Tussling with a cloud
by Alwyn Marriage

No, it’s not all sky-blue inspiration,
though occasionally one might arrive
dramatically, fully-formed, a gift,
through a rift in our normal experience.

Avoidance is impossible as the darkness
deepens and swirls seductively around me:
here it comes again, oh yes, it’s perfect;
but then, oh no: not yet, not yet.

It hovers over and around me, mist obliterating
vision, except for promising hints of colour
at perception’s edge and the potential
to travel where I’ve never been before.

Can I enter it? Will it hold me up?
Do I trust where it will take me?
If I struggle on, will I be rewarded
with form and shape, a clarity of sky?

To begin with it’s no bigger than
a man’s hand – or perhaps a woman’s,
and it’s impossible to predict a clear
creation or the possibility of rain.

Even when clouds burst, and with relief
shed their abundant burden, we still know
that there’s no guarantee of blessings
growing and flourishing down below.

For a moment sunlight is a possibility
as everything seems to be coming right;
but then something as slight
as a puff of wind tears at the shape

and I’m back where I started, where thoughts
gather into promise, then dissipate. Darkness
accumulates and any hope of a perfect
poem emerging fades back into the cloud.

…………………………………………………………………………*****

Evening Mist
by Alwyn Marriage

two elongated shadows walk beside us
listening attentively as our footsteps crunch
and wondering why the valley down below
is drowning in a film of silent froth.

A blossoming of moon milk cumulus
floats up and blooms against infinities
of metal blue, spiked in the darkest patches
with sharp star pricks of light.

The orange ball that rose from the horizon
is paler now, breath held in awe-struck stillness
before its generosity
spills a flood of white.


Biographies

Simon Williams has eight published collections, his latest being a co-authored pamphlet with Susan Taylor, The Weather House www.indigodreams.co.uk/williams-taylor/4594076848, published in 2017 by Indigo Dreams. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet.

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.

Rachel Collinge is a storytelling word nerd living in Gateshead. Obsessed with maths, books and bagels, you’ll often find her performing spoken word in venues across the North East.

Edwin Stockdale has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham with Distinction.  Two of his pamphlets have been published by Red Squirrel Press: Aventurine (2014) and The Glower of the Sun (2018).  Currently, he is researching a PhD in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University.

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/

Linda Menzies lives in Fife.  Her work has appeared in a number of magazines, e-zines and anthologies including New Writing Dundee, Shortbread, Green Queen, East Lothian Life, Contour and The Fat Damsel. She’s won prizes for both poetry and short stories. Publications: Epiphanies (poetry, 2009) and Into the Light (poetry/ short stories 2014).

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

Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, Alaskan. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon, she lives in Sitka, Alaska. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing (University of Alaska Anchorage).  Kersten has authored two books of poetry:  What Caught Raven’s Eye (Petroglyph Press, 2018) and Something Yet to Be Named (Aldrich Press, 2017).  She is also the poetry editor of the quarterly journal, Alaska Women Speak.  www.kerstenchristianson.com

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

Bethany Rivers’ ekphrastic pamphlet, Off the wall, was published by Indigo Dreams.  She has been widely published by: Bare Fiction, Envoi, Cinnamon Press, The Lake, The High Window, amongst others.  She is editor of As Above So Below and mentors writers of novels & poetry: www.writingyourvoice.org.uk

Bethany Garry is a Scottish writer living in London. Her poetry has previously been published in Octavius, Vast Sky and RAUM Poetry.

Megha Rani ” I live in Jersey City, New Jersey. I’m also a contributing author at GoDogGO Cafe, Candles Online, FVR Publishing, Whisper and the Roar and Poets Corner. My works have been featured in Dime Show review, Modern Literature, Five 2 One, Oddball Magazine,KOAN ( Paragon Press), Pangolin review, Fourth and Sycamore, Visual Verse, Vita Brevis, Poets Corner, Modern poetry, Literary heist, Little Rose Magazine, The Quiet Corner, Writer’s Cafe Magazine, and coming up in Piker Press, The Stray Branch and many more.”

Pauline May has worn a few hats in her life; child protection hat, drama in education hat and teacher hat, but always her poetry and story writing hats. She is new to submitting her work to magazines, but in 2015 had a poem commended in YorkMix Literature Festival Poetry Competition. She enjoys attending spoken word events across the north east. She lives in Sunderland with her husband, son and non-hat-wearing cat.

Judy Swann has a book forthcoming from Aldrich Press. She lives and loves in gorgeous Ithaca, NY. where she works in the energy efficiency sector.

Gail Grycel travels solo, geared for backpacking, with several pairs of dancing shoes. Her writing responds to inner and outer landscapes, and has been included in Vermont’s PoemCity, and Anthology of Women’s Voices by These Fragile Lilacs press.

Abigail Barnett is a senior Psychology major at Corban University in Salem, Oregon. She loves all forms of art and the ways they reflect the wonder of creation and humanity. You might find her in an Oregon coffee shop drinking espresso and pretending to be a hipster.

Caroline Johnstone lives in Ayrshire but dares people to be happier all around the world. A storyteller poet, she’s been published in the US, UK and Ireland. She’s sits on the Scottish Poetry Library’s Poets Advisory Group, is the social media manager for the Federation of Writer’s (Scotland) and is an active member and supporter of Women Aloud NI, Scottish Pen and the Association of Scottish Artists for Peace.

Martin Webb While running his own copywriting agency, Martin was headhunted as an editor for DC Comics, later securing a deal with Penthouse magazine to script a 4-page serial over 12 issues. In 2013 Martin began travelling the world and writing about his experiences, both in blogs and for adventure magazines. Martin currently writes flash fiction, is completing work on his second novel, and occasionally tends to his humorous (or so he hopes) ranting blog.

Peter Nolan’s poetry and short stories have been published in Boyne Berries, The Sentinel Quarterly, The Haiku Journal, A New Ulster, Streetcake Magazine and Short Stories for Kids. He has written a novel, two collections of short stories and is currently writing a third collection, more poems and songs. He is father to Luke, and husband to Grace

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

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.

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.

Kirsteen Bell is a poet, writer, and copywriter. She is currently studying Literature with the University of the Highlands and Islands. She lives and works on a croft in Lochaber.

Lynn Valentine is a dog-walker and sometimes writer living on the Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands. Her work has appeared on the Scottish Poetry Library blog, the Federation of Writers Scotland anthology and the Scottish Book Trust’s website among others. She is a previous winner of the Glasgow Women’s Library ‘Dragon’s Pen’ award and has been placed in competitions.  In 2018 she read at StAnza as part of the ‘My Time’ project.

Gareth Witers-Davis His pamphlet “Bodies”, was published in 2015  by Indigo Dreams and the pamphlet “Cry Baby” came out in November, 2017. His collection “The Lover’s Pinch” is due in 2018.

Gareth Culshaw lives in Wales. He has his first collection out by futurecycle. He hopes to achieve something special with the pen.

Mark Connors is an award-winning writer from Leeds, UK. His poetry has appeared in many anthologies, alongside acclaimed poets such as Simon Armitage, Andrew Motion, Antony Dunn and Kate Fox. He’s also had over 100 poems published in a variety of magazines and literary journals both in the UK and overseas, including Envoi, Prole, The Interpreter’s House, Dream Catcher and a number of Indigo Dreams imprints.

Pippa Little is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newcastle University. Her first collection Overwintering (from which the poem ‘Solstice’ is taken) was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre prize; her second, Twist, was shortlisted for The Saltire Society’s Poetry 2017 Book of the Year Award.

Hannah Stone’s collections Lodestone and Missing Miles were published in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Her third collection will be one of the inaugural pamphlets with Maytree Press in May 2019. She convenes the poets/composers forum for Leeds Lieder festival.

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions, Fault Lines, Tremors, Perturbations, Rude Awakenings and The Remission of Order (Winter Goose Publishing). Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Virtual Living (Thurston Howl Publications). Blossoms of Decay, Expectations and Blunt Force (Wordcatcher Publishing). His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing), Call to Valor and Crumbling Ramparts (Gnome on Pigs Productions). Sudden Conflicts (Lillicat Publishers). Acts of Defiance, Flare Up and Pirate Spring will be published by Wordcatcher Publishing. His short story collections include, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories (Winter Goose Publishing). Dogs Don’t Send Flowers and other stories (Wordcatcher Publishing). The Republic of Dreams and other essays will be published by Gnome on Pigs Productions. Feast or Famine & other plays will be published by Wordcatcher Publishing. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He lives in New York City

Rebecca Gethin had two pamphlets published in 2017: A Sprig of Rowan and All the Time in the World. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow. In 2018 she jointly won the Coast to Coast Pamphlet competition and has a writing residency at Brisons Veor coming  up.   www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.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.

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, Strix, High Window, Amaryllis, Clear Poetry and Ofi Presshttps://waringwords.wordpress.com

Ann Cuthbert is a member of Tees Women Poets with whom she enjoys performing her poems for live audiences. Her work has been published in, among others, Amaryllis, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Writers’ Café and Three Drops from a Cauldron.

Pam Kress-Dunn (MFA University of Nebraska) of Dubuque, Iowa, USA, has published poetry in literary and medical journals, staged some plays, and written hundreds of personal essays, many disguised as newspaper columns. She blogs at SiegeOfWords.com.

Ron Lavalette lives in Vermont. His debut chapbook, Fallen Away, will be published in September by Finishing Line Press.  His work has appeared extensively in journals, reviews, and anthologies ranging alphabetically from Able Muse and the Anthology of New England Poets through the World Haiku Review and Your One Phone Call. A reasonable sample of his published work can be viewed at EGGS OVER TOKYO: eggsovertokyo.blogspot.ie

Jo Howard is a poet, singer, storyteller and scriptwriter, based in Manchester, where she runs popular spoken word night, Verbose with her friend Zena Barrie. Jo’s work is inspired by her life experiences, growing up in Lancashire and living now in Manchester. Expect laughter, tears and a lot of heart!

Alexander Hamilton is a mixed-media artist, formerly a Theatrical Property Maker. A published poet and an accidental farmer as a consequence of buying a hill farm because it had a barn he could use as a workshop.

Alice Willitts is an emerging poet with an MA Distinction in Creative Writing Poetry from UEA (2017/18). She writes speculative nature poetry of the Anthropocene entwining personal and environmental losses. Most recently she was shortlisted (with her creative partner) for the Ivan Jurtiz Prize in experimental poetics (Kings College London, 2018). She is also writing for the Speculative Futures Collective (UEA), creating the ‘speculative nature writing of 2080’, due to be published in summer 2019 by Boilerhouse Press. Twitter: @WillittsAlice @cwpoetics Personal website: anotherkindofhappiness.wordpress.com Collaboration website: cathenkawillitts.wixsite.com/cwpoetics

 


18 thoughts on “The Writers’ Cafe Magazine – ISSUE 14 “Frost and Dew”

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