Issue 3 – theme and provocation

Our guest editor, Lisa Brockwell, has selected an image and text provocation to stimulate your writing.

We will accept submissions via Submittable 1–31 July 2018.

See Submissions for more information.

Image credit: Grace Cossington Smith Interior with wardrobe mirror 1955. Oil on canvas on paperboard 91.4 x 73.7 cm board; 103 x 85 x 5.6 cm frame. Art Gallery of New South Wales. Purchased 1967 © Estate of Grace Cossington Smith. Photo: AGNSW.

No More Silent Waiting

A Review of Autonomy edited by Kathy D’Arcy
(New Binary Press 2018)

Book cover: Autonomy edited by Kathy D'ArcyAutonomy edited by Kathy D’Arcy forces us to sit up and listen to a chorus of voices which have been silenced for too long. The pieces in this collection are brutal, tender, sorrowful, harrowing, beautiful and sometimes bizarrely humorous. Most importantly, they give those of us (fortunate enough to determine what happens with our bodies), a range of  perspectives on the horrible reality for women who have been denied the fundamental right to  ‘bodily autonomy’:

if a woman does not have the right to decide what happens to her own body … her very personhood is undermined. (Anna Fured)

Continue reading “No More Silent Waiting”

Issue 2 is live

Hello to everyone following Not Very Quiet. We sincerely apologise for the avalanche of 66 poems than have now arrived in your inbox.

It’s safe to follow our blog again. The next issue will be published in September – we’ll let you know a few days before so you can unfollow us.

We hope you enjoy Issue 2.

She is definitely on her way …

by Anita Patel, Guest Editor Issue 2

The poems in this issue of Not Very Quiet have moved, startled and delighted me, and they leave me in no doubt that (in the resounding words of Arundathi Roy) we will lay siege to empire and pave the way for another world …

She is definitely on her way … I can hear her breathing …

To create a journal of women’s poetry seems like a daring venture but the breathtaking  response to Not Very Quiet is testament to the fact that this space has long been needed. We have had over 300 poems submitted from all corners of the globe including many from our own region. It was a daunting task to select sixty six poems from that field but I am so excited by NVQ Issue 2.

The poems in this journal confront us with terrible realities and comfort us with common experiences. They offer us tiny moments of beauty, quirky notions and gentle reflections.

Each and every poem in this issue, and indeed many of the poems that were submitted but not selected, tells a story that is different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.  Each and every poem in this journal is made more powerful by being part of a collective of stories.

To all of the poets – your profound generosity and open heartedness reminds us that women, at their very best, will always share the stage with their sisters and that poetry is not an individual competitive art form but part of a conversation which transcends place, time and culture. Thank you for building a diverse and vibrant community of worldwide poets through our journal. We can only benefit from sharing our stories with each other and inviting more women to add their words to the sum of all our words.

I have had a fabulous ride as guest editor of Not Very Quiet Issue 2 and I thank three extraordinary women for this experience – Moya Pacey and Sandra Renew, the founders and editors of Not Very Quiet journal, and Tikka Wilson, the Production Manager, who is truly a superwoman. I salute all of you.

Women’s voices – circling the globe 2018

by Moya Pacey and Sandra Renew, Founding Editors

Welcome to Issue 2 of Not Very Quiet: a twice yearly journal for women’s poetry.

Drawing on the text of Arundhathi Roy and an image of the goddess Kali, Anita Patel, the guest editor of this issue, created a prompt and an image that elicited a fantastic response of over 300 poems from women poets around the world. Issue 2 features the work of local poets in Canberra and the region, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia, reaching out across the Tasman to New Zealand – arcing across the Pacific to Fiji, the Phillipines, on to the Middle East, Europe and the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, USA, Canada, South America.

This is a fine array of women’s voices speaking out to the now of the world in 2018. The poems voice women’s personal, political and social concerns in very interesting and often surprising ways, using a diversity of forms.

We are tremendously proud of NVQ journal. We hope you enjoy reading the poems featured in this issue. We congratulate the successful poets and thank all submitters for their contributions.

It’s also very gratifying to us that we are featuring some poets who contributed to Issue 1. In Not Very Quiet we are creating a community of world-wide women poets. We also welcome new poets to this issue – diversity and inclusivity are very important to us and we believe that this issue is very successful in this regard.

We received a couple of excellent poems that exceeded our guidelines for length and, after much discussion, the editors decided to relax our policy on line length for this issue and subsequent issues.

Thanks again to all the poets who submitted and to Anita Patel, our inaugural Guest Editor.

Also a huge thank you and acknowledgement to Tikka Wilson who is our Production Manager, an indispensable member of the NVQ Editorial Panel. Without Tikka’s expertise and consummate professionalism, experience and generous donation of time the NVQ journal would not exist.

Issue 3 will be launching midway through the year with Lisa Brockwell as Guest Editor. She will provide an image and a theme/provocation closer to the time. Look out for our submission timetable.

Comme des garcons

– tribute to Rei Kawakubo

Comme des garçons,
On va décider pour nous-mêmes.
We can take the decisions for ourselves,
And just like the boys, we’ll wear the pants – on va porter les pantalons.
We’ll make the rules this time and we’ll forge a new path
We find our power in love; our strength comes from within.
We’ll march, we’ll fight, we’ll keep it equal and in-between
We’ll bring back the black in new shades of wrath.
And we’ll wear any other colours we like.
We won’t be silenced in the meetings any longer.
We’ll breach the gender gaps with bonds, getting stronger.
We’ll throw stereotypes out the window with one cue.
And when the time is right, comme seulement des femmes,
We’ll carry the children, like only women do.

Akka Ballenger Constantin

 

Akka Ballenger Constantin is a dreamer with a camera and a pen. Her work is never unilateral, words and images complete each other most often. Her work has been published by the online magazines Jalmurra, be:longing and Woroni. Recently, she found her feet in live performances at the Noted Festival, Alliance Française, Ainslie and Gorman Art Centre and the Multicultural Festival. She also blogs at Planet Akka.

© 2018

Eating my Ghost Ration

I.

I am myself. That is not enough.

Clogged, columnar we chuff
work-ward, penned by chain link
that curls where squatters

have swung a leg over. Smoke
rises from each house, postcard
faux, as it sits in the crosshairs

of a distant missile. A father bends
to whisper in his child’s ear.
I hunger for the pat of his hand.

II.

I die with variety.

Where will I be when it comes?
If home alone, I’ll hide my face
in my dog’s flank. If together,

the family will huddle. I’ll take
a last look at the living, then won’t be.
If at work—how sad—the mall

unworthy. There, I’ll hurry to the roof
and die circled by tree crowns.
I hope the flare too decisive for elegy.

(Quotes in italic from Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Jailer’)

Devon Balwit

 

Devon Balwit lies awake most night fretting. Writing poetry comes as a relief.

© 2018

Ekkentros

A circular clay sculpture
found in Cyprus depicts

a bronze age sacrifice—

bulls in pens
docile and waiting for death

an enthroned figure
presiding over the ritual

standing figures
wearing the heads of bulls
hands joined in mutual purpose

while reverent spectators sit
obediently with straight spines.

But there is something imperfect
about this sacred circle;

one profane figure, excluded,
is immortalized in the act of
trying to climb the wall

participation so important
the artist had to recreate
the anguish of being outside.

Toni La Ree Bennett

 

Toni La Ree Bennett’s verbal and visual work has appeared in Gold Man Review, Gravel, Poemmemoirstory, Puerto del Sol, Hawaii Pacific Review, december, and Memoir among other publications. She is also a photographer and lives with a flock of feisty finches. Her photography can be seen on her website.

© 2018

Forgive

I wish, planet, I could summon
a polemic to save you
as you ratchet up the hours
like an overtired child
and your parents, your caretakers
meaning ourselves
lose our cool again and again
all of us overheating
including you
and so we are shamed into blather
how you the planet
make it all too hard for us to love you
prickly heat between your relic tree-trunk thighs
thistles in your armpit valleys
not forgetting all the drones and missiles
fizzing round our heads like besotted bees.
Sure, not your own initiative
but always blame the child
when the child becomes impossible.
Remember, that’s you.
Forgive us. You have to save yourself.

Nicola Bowery

 

Nicola Bowery’s most recent poetry collection is married to this ground (Walleah Press 2014). Her two previous collections are Goatfish (Bunda Press 2007) and Bloodwood (Bunda Press 1996). She lives in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands.

© 2018

It’s later than you think

There is the reflection of a rainbow
in the Rent to Own window, and puddles
have formed in the holes dotting the parking
lot, the water streaked with rainbows made
of gasoline, and I try to remember what I need
for tomorrow’s work party as I roam the Dollar
General. I grab a bag of pretzels and think,
This is my dinner and all the while, other lives
play out around me. A teenager tells her friend,
I can’t believe Halloween is tomorrow, and I don’t
know what I’m going to be. I wasn’t anything last
year.
A man asks his wife, Do you think the rain
has stopped?
She doesn’t look at him, only
says, I sure fucking hope so. It’s depressing.

After loading my basket with paper plates
adorned with skulls and witches, I get in line,
looking down while the young couple in front of me
buys a pregnancy test and a bag of Cheetos,
the woman counting out change from a tiny
purse embossed with stars. The cashier, a middle-aged
woman with Bitch tattooed on her neck asks me
if I found what I needed. I nod and say yes, thinking
does anyone? The cashier leans close, warns me
that a man has been following me around the aisles
and asks if I want security to walk me out. I thank her,
saying I’ll make a run for it, as I gather up my bags.
The rain has started again. I glance back, relieved
no one is following me, noticing the sign festooned
over the door, Spooky Savings Inside, as if I wouldn’t know.

Michelle Brooks

 

Michelle Brooks has published a collection of poetry, Make Yourself Small (Backwaters Press), and a novella, Dead Girl, Live Boy (Storylandia Press). A native Texan, she has spent much of her adult life in Detroit.

© 2018

The Feminist

At the party
when I said
I was a feminist

All the men
left the room
clutching their cans of beer.

They returned
and huddled
in another corner.

I continued
debating
on safer things

The terrorist threat
Social justice
the refugee crisis.

The men returned
offering me glasses
of wine

And an
opportunity
to dance.

Denise Burton

 

After growing up in Sydney and living in such diverse places as London and Billinudgel, Denise has now spent a little over two decades happily settled in Canberra. She says: ‘I write as a way of recording events in life that I feel warrant expression. The themes of my poetry reflect life experiences such as raising children, travelling, family, family history and social justice.’ Canberra’s active poetry scene has given her the opportunity to get involved in poetry groups and performances at Festivals and Functions in Canberra and the region.

© 2018

 

Bones

That built me up
workers atop scaffolding
fast strokes for the lips
brown smudge eyes. No matter
how many times mother put on
my face, I washed it off. Again
to the river. Duwamish bath
by the bodies. A ferry carcass. Green
River women. Boeing airfield,
and me dripping stank rain
up hill, drug river up to that same kitchen
window where my father slit
his wrists to stain our sink.

I scrub blood with my hair,
eyeshadow, lipstick,
a mother’s ego like a kiss
cleans each vein
green of river mud.

Brooke Callen

 

Brooke Callen lives in Seattle, Washington.  She has a degree in English from the University of Oregon and earned her MFA in Creative Writing through Pacific Lutheran University.  She is an avid sports fan, and can often be found cheering on her beloved Oregon Ducks, Seattle Sounders, Mariners, and Seahawks. Her greatest joy is spending time with her family.

© 2018

Malthus

Swigging from her over-sized sea-blue water flask, she never
noticed the fish that slid into her. She mistook its dance for the
quickening and stocked up on Clear Blue pregnancy tests.
Squatting over the red bucket she emptied herself, threw the
sticks in and stirred the jetsam with a wooden spoon. After three
minutes she fished them out patting each along the edge of the
fringed beach towel. A fin, a gill, a cold rimmed eye. She
arranged the small windows, piecing together the cerulean lines.
Sometimes, results can be consequence.

Monica Carroll

 

Monica Carroll is an experimental writer and poet. She is the Creative and Cultural Fellow for the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research. Her creative and academic work has been widely awarded and anthologised within Australia and abroad. Her research interests include phenomenology, artists’ books and space. She recently published Isolator (2017) with Recent Work Press.

© 2018

In one hundred days

an old man
scrawls his name
and smiles

the earth
travels two hundred and fifty-seven million kilometres
three hundred billion stars go dark

a tiny cluster of cells
evolves into a fifteen-kilo baby polar bear
one hundred and thirty-seven cubic kilometres of antarctic ice-caps melt

a royal empress tree
stretches four and a half metres higher
two thousand four hundred animal species die out

my sons grow two centimetres taller
almost one million children perish from hunger
an eight-year-old American girl is killed by a US airstrike

an old man scrawls his name
seventy-nine times
and smiles

Anne Casey

 

Irish-Australian, Anne Casey is a literary editor and poet published internationally in newspapers, magazines, journals and books. She wrote where the lost things go (Salmon Poetry 2017), won the Glen Phillips Novice Writer Award and was shortlisted for Cúirt International Poetry Prize, Eyewear Books Prize and Bedford International Writing Competition.

© 2018

SWEAT / SHOP

‘A commodity’s market success depends on the erasure of the marks of production, any trace of indexicality, the grime of the factory … and most of all, the exploitation of the worker. Instead, the commodity presents the market with a seductive sheen, as it competes to be desired.’

Laura Mulvey, Fetishism and Curiosity

 

 

We are bound, she and I, by inevitable threads;
by the incessant warp of economy,
by the indifferent weft of fate,
the thread spins, the world turns

In the harbourside wharf, converted to a mall,
I lose my bearings; all at sea
in the swill of choice, there’s no thing I want
the clothes, not cheap enough for how cheap they look

Yet the maker, neck bowed, over machines,
in slums, in cities,
distant enough from my own; I’m not supposed to care
she’s the calamity of my convenience,
the labour for my leisure
The maker, stitching edges of silk together
isn’t making her ends meet, isn’t making a living,
and who makes the maker’s clothes?

Drowning in the seaside mall,
Buyer beware: fabric may fade,
No refund for change of mind,
belly-up in the flotsam of consumerism,
The jetsam of infinite need for variety,
I find nothing that fits; it’s a first-world catastrophe
that belies her sweat on my sweater,
her blood, scrubbed from the needle

I am the middle-class signifier of economic growth,
I am the consuming woman
Working hard to make a buying, buying hard to work a living
I am patriarchy’s perfect accessory
I would not know her face, but
my hands, touching the trace of her hands
upon the dress I slip over my skin
is our unacknowledged handshake

Signed off by corpulent men
in sleek offices
behind closed doors: Board Members Only
We never approved the agenda

We’ve never met, yet together, we are bound
The thread spins, the world turns,
I, the consuming woman,
She, the woman consumed

 

Melissa Coffey

 

Melissa Coffey is a Melbourne-based writer and poet, engaging strongly with themes of the Feminine. Her memoir story ‘Motherlines’, awarded Highly Commended, was published in Australian anthology Stew and Sinkers (Stringybark Stories 2013) and her creative essay ‘Body Com/Positions’ features in Etchings ‘Visual Eyes’ (Ilura Press #12). Melissa has twice been a Featured Performer for Mother Tongue (Melbourne).

© 2018

Mining time

We find it, glabrous as a pearl,
in the convenient mines of the past.
We work it out with shovel,
with energetic pick, even with forks
and fingers.  Time curls, an embryo,
which we transport to the present,
wrapped in silk, or boxed in velvet.
We have squandered too much time,
and need these transported years,
brought in light backpacks forward.
If we take too much time
the walls of now will collapse,
so we must be selective.
No aeons, only decades,
the occasional century,
as if we were playing cricket,
and were useful at the crease.
Whether there is time enough
to keep things going on,
is something we shall know
only if we mine more time.
There is no convenient canary
to warn of tomorrow’s loss.
We string the pearls, cross
our work-worn fingers,
and wonder if our days will dim.

PS Cottier

 

PS Cottier likes staffies, Scotch and speculative poetry, one of which can sometimes be sampled at pscottier.com.

© 2018

A Bomb

A bomb
hitting the cold concrete
of a deserted square
at midnight
is envious of moonlight
which even when falling
on the cold concrete
of a deserted square falls
as if on a field
of flowers at midnight.

MTC Cronin

 

MTC Cronin has published twenty books (poetry, prose poems and essays). Recent collections include in possession of loss (Shearsman Books, 2014) and The Law of Poetry (Puncher & Wattmann, 2015), the latter of which was written over two decades.

© 2018

In Paris, my eyes made me Chinese

A woman with a worn-out smile
pushed her trolley in a spree,
in the busy street of Paris; cars kissed
the mouth of another, there were no spaces.
Pause, her trolley screeched; she turned to me, saying,
‘how long has it been
since a Filipino got lost in the rue?’

She knew.

A white man in a down jacket greeted me in the corner
of the Louvre, hands inside his pockets.
‘Ni hao’,
said he
repeatedly
then walked away,
a smirk. My chest boiled. I was
not Chinese,
but I understood
what he said.

My thin, moony eyes
should not be blamed for the mistake

he knew not he just made.

Caris Cruz

 

Caris Cruz is a Filipino writer and illustrator. Her poems were published in the crowdfunded feminist anthology 1001, along with other online platforms.

© 2018

three tanka

she asks me
which t shirt I prefer
swirls or stripes …
I admire her
lightness of being

~

when I pass him
on the mall escalator
I return his bright smile …
a warm spring breeze
teases my hair into distemper

~

the pretty pink ballerina
has a melt down
on the music box …
too sweet a trinket
for a tomboy such as me

Anne Louise Curran

 

Anne Curran is a Hamiltonian. She loves to write and read when the mood strikes. She has written Japanese short verse forms for some years. She lived in Japan for two years so feels an affinity somehow. She also writes free verse. She likes the idea of improving her writing with age.

© 2018

Black Dream Bird

It was yesterday
that I was a crow
with horse hair in my beak
and my nest half built
and my black feathers
shining through the early mist
of belonging to the world
of knowing how to balance
on the air of the world
and my shadow
the same colour as myself.

Even when the farmer
tied my body lifeless
to the wire in warning
and my bones poked out
still I flapped in the wind
and raised my wings
to the call of the air
my beak hinged open
in constant caw.

Moyra Donaldson

 

Moyra Donaldson is a poet and creative writing facilitator living and working in Northern Ireland. She has published six collections of poetry and a new collection, Holding to Air is forthcoming (Doire Press 2019). She is currently working on a collaborative project, Blood Horses, with visual artist Paddy Lennon.

© 2018

Deeds of War and Peace

There are testaments, faith
in trenches, the misplaced ordinary.

What beyond Owen
needs to be said of that

alien encounter, the green
demise of mouths and masks

as if stubborn gallantry
and common fear could build

a masculinity. My mother’s parents
lost a brother, each.

Their names are preserved
in generations. Church women

wrote verse. A story
broke with earth, desolation

of things spent, a species
pride. He too dug-in –

a person of Country paid
like all the men

at six shillings a day.
While he served, his children

were removed. Ten years later
there was a massacre on Country.

Anne Elvey

 

Anne Elvey is author of Kin (Five Islands Press 2014), This Flesh That You Know (Leaf Press 2015) and White on White (Cordite Books 2018), and co-author of Intatto-Intact (La Vita Felice 2017). She is managing editor of Plumwood Mountain: An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics.

© 2018

Two ravens sijo

Two ravens this past three weeks are companions, their own and mine.
I meet them in the front yard. I go out back. They’re in the tree.
On the fence, they dip and caw. It is language I believe.

Anne Elvey

 

Anne Elvey is author of Kin (Five Islands Press 2014), This Flesh That You Know (Leaf Press 2015) and White on White (Cordite Books 2018), and co-author of Intatto-Intact (La Vita Felice 2017). She is managing editor of Plumwood Mountain: An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics.

© 2018

 

Geese Pond, 1985, and a Photo of my Daughter

In the summer, when the wind chimes shiver,
the light over the hills is like a beacon going
south. It can’t be going south for the winter,
not yet, for the geese are still here.
My daughter is feeding the geese at the pond,
laughing, smiling, talking to them as if they could talk back.
And sometimes they do.

I wish I had a camera so I could take a picture of
her feeding the geese, so she could look back upon
it when she is twenty or thirty and smile.
Or better yet, I wish I had a canvas and
paints so I could draw my daughter,

a still portrait that has come to life before my very eyes.
I write about geese in poems, I write about the long
grass around the banks and my daughter’s jeans
pushed up tenaciously around her ankles so she
can walk into the water a little ways,
her hair in her face as she gives a piece of

herself to the geese, and the small, shallow pond.

Apryl Fox

 

Apryl Fox has been published previously in Strange Horizons, Offcourse Magazine, Dark Animus, Snow Monkey, Whistling Shade, and many others. She was recently published in Three Line Poetry and currently resides in Michigan.

© 2018

If there’s loss here, I’ll never find it

Nor can I know
when the fruit dove or the leech
first found themselves in rainforest time

or when the pink leaves of this red cedar
stretched through the canopy
fifty metres above, limiting light

but not birdsong and the air
cooling my skin under the tips
of ferns nestled up the trunks.

Over the relic of hot rock
on Dorrigo Mountain, water falls
from the sky, sudden as found bliss.

Kathryn Fry

 

Kathryn Fry has poems in various anthologies, including Australian Love PoemsA Slow Combusting HymnWatermark and the Newcastle Poetry Prize anthologies of 2014 and 2016.

© 2018

White

after Rosemary Laing’s photograph: flight research #5 1999

We see you above the path of birds, above
the mountain range bordering a sapphire sky.

We see you above the lace of cloud, your arms
in immaculate white above the cumulus of your skirt.

And when it happens, we women of the world
will band together and bend to break your fall.

Kathryn Fry

 

Kathryn Fry has poems in various anthologies, including Australian Love PoemsA Slow Combusting HymnWatermark and the Newcastle Poetry Prize anthologies of 2014 and 2016.

© 2018

Her Last Post

Aunt Ellen says that you would be annoyed
that the celebrant is a man.
Even in death.

Family must sit at the front
which seems unfair, considering.
Grandma was a communist.

And a unionist and a pacifist
and a self-taught, spied on, activist leftist.
A Feminist.

The officiant dictates to the front row
stand (angry) as you leave.
Even in death.

Penny Gleeson

 

Penny Gleeson lives in Melbourne suburbia with her partner, cat and generations of books and plants. She is a PhD student and sometimes lecturer.

© 2018

Flying

They say
if man were made to fly,
he’d have been born with wings.

They forget
the summer child astride a bike,
who pumps her legs to lift off crest of railroad incline
where silver tracks criss-cut road
to soar down asphalt,
wind-whipped hair snarling rough
open mouth to feel the tongue, the cheeks, the lips shrivel
parched of slimy spit
taste unlucky gnats.

The brave bird knows
To lift her arms,
remove her grip from handlebars,
search for weightless speed,
defy the gravity
that chains her mother to the ground.

Mary Ellen Greenwood

 

Mary Ellen Greenwood is a writing instructor at Utah State University in Logan, Utah.

© 2018

Dalit

A woman lies asleep upon the path.
So still.
The concrete holds her like a bier.
Hair dressed neatly.
Faded sari rests
over tired bones and leathered skin.

Scraps of chatter.
Shadows glide and cast
fleeting nonchalance across this drear
concrete patch,
immaculately swept,
where nearby rupees flick and vendors grin.

Thousands, millions
hurry though each vast
metropolis where lost ones disappear
into subways,
where the damp has pressed
its hand on swags and human hopes are thin.

One day she’ll join the others noiselessly.
She could be anyone.
Perhaps she’s me.

Hazel Hall

 

Hazel Hall is a Canberra Poet. She has published haiku, tanka and free verse in a number of Australian and overseas journals and anthologies. Her latest collection is Eggshell Sky (2017). Hazel was a featured writer on the NaHaiWriMo website in 2017 and will feature on Australian Haiku Society Website and Colorado Boulevard in 2018.

© 2018

Peafowl

My four-year-old self scoring into the sheeny black
layer to reveal the whole pea feather rainbow shell
from the crayon tin; the metrics of fibres colouring-in
the spacings, which would only iridesce if I could crouch,
tilt head, retreat, move in – a courtship of angles
between Kali and Krishna; a lens shift on the coppery gods.

Erin Halliday

 

Erin Halliday lives in Northern Ireland. Her pamphlet Chrysalis (Templar 2012) was followed by her first collection Pharmakon (Templar 2015). An Arts Council award has recently enabled her to complete the manuscript for her second collection. She is the 2016 Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary awardee.

© 2018

Delinquency

Student Conference Day:
classes cancelled. Freshmen,
we were rabbits with quivering noses
sprung free from our cages.

We were the smart girls. Straight
A’s. Evenings filled with algebra.
Always first to raise our hands.

By afternoon, upperclassmen gone,
no narcs patrolling the parking lots.
We kicked off our shoes and plopped
onto the lawn in front of the office.

We were the shy girls. Invisible
in hallways. Untutored in flirting.
Doomed to miss all proms.

‘Hi, girls!’ The principal, smiling,
oblivious to our casually crossed hands,
to the odd pile in our midst
(two erasers, a stick of gum, a comb).

We were the good girls. Never
whispering in the back row. Never
passing notes or ditching class.

‘Hi, girls!’ The vice-principal, waving.
But our band director, usually unflappable,
back-tracked, loomed over us, frowned.
‘You girls playing poker?’

Patricia L. Hamilton

 

A native Californian, Patricia L. Hamilton is a professor of English in Jackson, Tennessee. She won the Rash Award for Poetry in 2015 and 2017. Her debut volume of poetry is The Distance to Nightfall (Main Street Rag 2014). She has received 3 Pushcart nominations.

© 2018

Eating the Reef

Solomon Islands, Uepi

Adrift, pursuing phantoms of lost habitats
we pursue wilderness until it is no more.

I am eating the reef.
At first, it is sweet and expansive –

like meditation, or the rush of oxygen
after holding the breath.

Ocean so blue it is sky and sea at once –
cobalt blues gas the coppers

of midnight snapper,
following courses electric

of bluefin trevally and barracuda;
we submerge and are joyfully lost.

Powder fire of faecal matter
scatters down like talcum

as fish accelerate
and weave the ocean’s current

that silts glorious accretions
of sucker-mouthed worms and corals.

I hang trawler nets of grief and avarice
and fill them with fish.

Quartets of seniors float
in the channel’s shallows like plastic

bottles eddying the pier.
Masks full, they stand and crunch coral –

the newly buoyant flail.
Deeper out, I float

the surfaces of black tip reef sharks
and wish for blood,

or for the lips of giant clams
to swallow us whole.

Kristin Hannaford

 

Kristin Hannaford is a Queensland writer and poet who often writes about the natural world. She has had four collections of poetry published, the latest is Curio (Walleah Press 2014). Her poems and short fiction are published in a range of Australian and International literary journals.

© 2018

Gethsemane

I imagine you are kneeling, the shape of you –
knees white and thighs pressed wide on hoary earth,
in supplication as you quietly dismantle
betrayal into phonemes, as if by shaking them apart
they will offer something more than sadness.
I see you hold the goblet, empty
and wait for it to fill. Tonight
there is no more wine than sadness,
dumb dreams and inevitable grief housed
in the greens of an olive garden. Oil lamps
wink out like deceptive stars that misguide men,
as you quicken and remember that gardens are treacherous places.

Written in response to Ian Fairweather’s art work, ‘Gethsemane’.

Kristin Hannaford

 

Kristin Hannaford is a Queensland writer and poet who often writes about the natural world. She has had four collections of poetry published, the latest is Curio (Walleah Press 2014). Her poems and short fiction are published in a range of Australian and International literary journals.

© 2018

Icarus

If I should be the sun
I hope you would be Icarus

fire stomach
plasma veins
magnetic waves
crackle
roar

extremes

 

your wings were coated in mud
gritty and camouflaged
unassuming
soaring

above the grass
above the breathing sea
above the tamaracks

You got too close.

If I should be the sun

you almost held the flame

easily spooked
afraid the forest fire would consume you
turn the tamaracks to ash

 

you were afraid
you turned around

 

But if I should be the sun
I hope I singed your wings

so that with each flap from tree to tree
the wind feels different
the air damper
thick and thirsty
missing

 

somewhere in-between the earth and the stars
you will realize
you miss the warmth

the way my rays felt on your skin

 

If I should be the sun
I hope you would be Icarus

Maggie Harless

 

Maggie Harless is an education student at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where she resides with her roommate and twenty-three plants. Some of her work is forthcoming with Toe Good Poetry.

© 2018

Jesus puts up a Facebook page

‘Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel
to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich
person to enter the kingdom of God.’
(Matt.19:24)

 

Nothing fancy, cover photo
lambs gamboling in field.
First post
a lovely affirmation.
Got Gabriel
to take a head shot
for profile pic.

By ten o’clock he’d been trolled
by multitudes
disgusted
with picture of Semitic man.
By noon the page went viral
governments shaken
by audacity. Religious leaders
calling press conferences
to disclaim.

The clock’s guillotine arm
slices hate and vitriol
into trackable segments.
Five thirty news leads
with Jesus takes down page
as Stock Market soars.

Michelle Hartman

 

Michelle Hartman’s new book is The Lost Journal of My Second Trip to Purgatory (Old Seventy Creek Press 2018). Lost Journal is the first entirely poetic look at child abuse and its effect on adulthood. Her other books, Disenchanted and Disgruntled and Irony and Irreverence from Lamar University Press, are available on Amazon. She is the editor for the online journal, Red River Review and holds a BS in Political Science-Pre Law from Texas Wesleyan University and a Certificate in Paralegal Studies from Tarrant County Community College.

© 2018

Captain Longstocking

someone
gave permission
to winter
and it’s hard
to see
the baby rain
through the thick
green film
on the windows
of Villa Villekulla

in the pastel tub
Tommy takes
a borrowed set
of clippers
to my matted
red locks
while Annika sits
in the corner
giving herself
purple goose
pimples

I force
the butt
of my cigarette
down the teeth
of the drain
and say
for no one
listening

I think
he’ll be here

today

Laura Hoffman

 

Laura Hoffman is a United States Marine Corps veteran and senior at The University of North Florida. Hoffman’s most recent work appears in Clear Poetry, The Bangalore Review, Penultimate Peanut, Bop Dead City, The Gyroscope Review, Typishly, Poetry Circle, Flypaper Magazine and Cease Cows.

© 2018

Send my roots rain

‘Send My Roots Rain’ – Adrienne Rich

In the middle of thoughts of how
You talk with your eyes and sometimes
Stand too close, come fantasies of being
Together after a decade of fallowness and
Heartache –
I remember glasses of wine and
That you did not look away but smiled at
Being caught in the act of
Looking.

Cheryl R. Hopson

 

Dr Cheryl R. Hopson is an assistant professor of African American Studies in the Department of Diversity and Community Studies at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. She is an essayist and poet.

© 2018

Sinny and the circus

Sinny ran away from the race the other day
to join the circus: I followed, naturally enough.

Since Sin never cared for pleasing folks,
we were assigned very different roles:

Sinny wore a top hat and handled the chain;
I became the woman of all acts and trades.

While I clowned and crammed into a miniature car
Sinny cracked her whip to get bodies through the door.

Up they rolled, gasping and laughing at our feats
for by then we were both drawn to the trapeze.

Like a cat Sinny swung and made her exit that way:
from bar to net and through the flap of the tent.

The magician I assisted left by his own trapdoor
leaving me standing and holding the sword.

But in the circus, no worries, there’s always someone
to plunge a point into in good wholesome fun.

Kathryn Hummel

 

Kathryn Hummel is the author of Poems from Here (Walleah Press 2014), The Bangalore Set (Kena 2015), The Body That Holds (Little Windows Press 2017), splashback (Stale Objects dePress 2017) and the forthcoming Lamentville (Math Paper Press). Uncollected, her digital media/poetry, non-fiction, fiction and scholarly research has been published/performed/presented worldwide. Her website includes links to recordings of her work.

© 2018

Winter

A woman writes a line in the snow
and leaves. Nothing else is new
in that quiet field.
Large snowflakes seal in her words,
an envelope closing.
Next summer, she won’t remember
what she had written, or why.
In the wake of retreating steps, silence
keeps the truth whole.

Romana Iorga

 

Romana Iorga is a Romanian-American writer living in Lausanne, Switzerland. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Quarterly Review, Radical Society, Crab Creek Review, and others. Currently, she spends her days mingling with words, dogs, and children, not necessarily in that order.

© 2018

The Postman never knocks twice

Death is knocking on the door
and I
have a date
in a black wagon
which doesn’t know for years
if it’s day or night.
Let in this solitary confinement
your shirt
melt down the snow in my country.
The weather is really cold
and it’s been years since my corpse
has sunk
in your body’s snow.

My mother is still waiting …
She doesn’t know
the postman never knocks twice

Shokoofeh Jabbari

 

Shokoofeh Jabbari was born in Shiraz, Iran and grew up in Yazd city. She has degrees in graphics, film direction and dramatic literature from university of Tarbiat Modares. In 2011, she was named one of the best ten poets by Jaleh Esfahani Foundation (London). She has made two short films: Bell (2013) and The Food Is Prepared (2014). Her poetry has been published in various magazines including: Straylight, Literati Quarterly, A Narrow Fellow & Artifact Nouveau (San Joaquin Delta College). She is a member of Paradise Ocean Artistic Team managed by Seyed Morteza Hamidzadeh.

© 2018

The Accession

Split the skull and watch the awe
fully formed and ruling over more
than his lustful heart thought it had
devoured
That oracle.
That prophet.
female form and born of nothing more
than the mother of every other chaos
to come after
That storm.
That body.
A warrior
built by the hands of her own blood
in the mind of a god feared above
every other anonymous verse
forgotten to an impossible world
I hear the laughter of her hammer
ringing deep and drawn into the dawn again
I sense the beat of all her bruised and broken
bones beneath these ancient streets

We walk along their battle scars.

pock marked paths buried and dark
lighting the sea beneath my soul, my feet
where I see and sprint to stand and swim
in the power of all her passion previous and
presently alive in the fire of the eyes of she
who holds my heart
in her hands.
I hear
the rising of her words
in the rhythm of your own
stories tucking themselves
between the covers of a shared history
etched across this bare body
staring back at me from the mirror
a doubled down sigh of reflection
searing itself on repeat
awareness
we stand at the forge of our future
a gathering storm
subverting the spaces history
has stitched upon our skin
this out loud
ripping threads off our lipstick red
restless surging beneath the chains
of yesterday’s careful
conditioning.

We are one
But we inhabit all
Who have gone before us.

Kendall Kirkwood

 

Kendall Kirkwood is a feminist / poet / photographer / woman. She likes to use words to build bridges, mostly between the past and our present experiences. Though sometimes her bridges end up building their own direction. Unexpected ambiguous adventures. She is fine with this too.

© 2018

Blade Runner 2049

Still, now, here, a woman can never be in a bar the way
A man can be in a bar
A man in a bar blends in
Its varnish is part of him
Eyes skip over him
But stop at each woman not born
To this
(No woman is born to this)
This ease, this place, this church
Of ease
And if only she could burst through
Those swinging doors
Those white shuttered saloon doors
Like Elvis in Viva Las Vegas
And the smoke
Envelop her as if she belongs
And the desultory conversations
Struck are not male after male
After male trying his luck
If a woman could be in a bar
Alone the way a man
Can be in a bar alone?

Wes Lee

 

Wes Lee lives in New Zealand. Her latest poetry collection Body, Remember was launched in London (Eyewear Publishing 2017). She has won a number of awards for her writing including The BNZ Katherine Mansfield Literary Award and, most recently, as a contributor to Remembering Oluwale, winner of The Saboteur Awards Best Anthology 2017.

© 2018

Duende

Did you watch the fire
undertake my daughter
ember by ember
never remembering the
dance I did around it to save her from
everything that burns?

Christina Lengyel

 

Christina Lengyel is a writer of fiction and poetry. With a focus on language and consciousness, she has come to accept that often very little happens in her happenings. She completed her MFA at the University of Baltimore and spends her time teaching college composition, practicing yoga, and hanging out with her husband, children, and friends.

© 2018

Long Live L.A.

They come to the desert to empty themselves
of those painful dreams that
Linger –
That press themselves into the base of their skulls
leaving an indentation that will never be reversed.
So in the Mojave they tether them to Joshua trees
and move on to their final destination.
They move themselves into freshly built palaces
where they pay by the floor.
They hang gilded mirrors to display reflections
they can’t bear to confront.
They just don’t look the same with concave hearts.
They remember a time they would say,
‘Look at what I’ve made!’
But craft has abandoned them as well,
so it’s just, ‘Look what I’ve bought!’
A phrase with most certain comfort
because the precious city
at the base of culture
and the end of the civilized world
bought us all.
Once we filled ourselves with pesky dreams and packed our bags
in search of freedom’s open arms.
Now little girls sent to the cutting room floor
with some cocaine and a bit role.
I want to be an actress, but right now I am
and I’m beginning to think I
Almost no one here can express satisfaction
without seeming just a little foolish.
But it will be something
when the procession of luxury class vehicles passes
Hollywood Forever
on their way to the funeral somewhere else.

Christina Lengyel

 

Christina Lengyel is a writer of fiction and poetry. With a focus on language and consciousness, she has come to accept that often very little happens in her happenings. She completed her MFA at the University of Baltimore and spends her time teaching college composition, practicing yoga, and hanging out with her husband, children, and friends.

© 2018

Mary Anning discovers the plesiosaur, 1824

These objects you dig around seem
as normal to you as breathing –
snake-stones, devil’s fingers and verteberries.
They are everywhere in the limestone and shale
on the coast of Lyme Regis. You sell
curiosities, medicinal and mystical.

Then, one day, a storm reveals
something different.
And you step back.

This animal is breathtaking.

How did God imagine this monster?
A neck tall as a mast,
with arms and legs that could be oars.
A ship of a creature.

And who could have believed that
God’s days were so very long?

Mary, no one wanted to believe,
let alone have you enter the wood-panelled halls
trodden by men, and only men
while you held the remnants
of the Jurassic
between your pick and fingers.

 

Note: In 2010, Mary Anning was recognised by the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge as one of the 10 most influential women scientists in British history.

 

Rosanna Licari

Rosanna Licari is an Australian writer and poet. She is the poetry editor of online literary journal StylusLit.

© 2018

Bodhi of a poem

The good mother, when her belly swells,
listens to the moon.

From their granite beds
they can smell her intention,
so she digs secret nests at night,
and squats in violet shadows
to give birth.

The good mother holds her offspring
like a snowflake, tests its mettle
in the palm of one hand. A single drop,
yet to them it’s more unsettling than a flood
or avalanche. They know how gravity works.
They know that even the littlest drip
can wriggle into nicks, splinter boulders,
invoke dust.

The good mother doesn’t differentiate
between snow and stone,
she doesn’t need to pick at the stitch
between gravel and its undoing.
The innovation of such a woman is muscular.
It has the guts to abseil expectations,
the nerve to carve a landscape
out of nothing but possibility.

The good mother dries her thighs.
They have forged a blade as sharp as any metaphor.
She knows they will cut her creation along its bias
and examine its entrails,
convinced they can predict what used to exist
between the words and silence.

Sometimes they patch it with catgut
before they cover it with a sheet.

 

(Bodhi means awakening or enlightenment)

Victoria McGrath

 

Victoria McGrath has been widely published in journals and anthologies in Australia and the US, including Best Australian Poems 2014 and 2015, and was shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize in 2013. She lives in Yass, New South Wales, and is currently finalising her first manuscript.

© 2018

Death for Beginners

Ten thousand fold is only a measure of the
army’s size, not of everyone in it. There are
sixty-two men who would not mind dying.
Another seventy who are simply willing. They
have all drunk tea at one time, though only half
prefer lemon cake to walnut.
Many are waiting for women to come back.
Dreaming vividly in the meantime of nicely
laid out tables and pressed laundry sitting
on their feet when they wake in the morning.
Instead a truck in the driveway, waiting.

Now they are here, they are reluctant. Though
at the time the contract was drawn up, dying
seemed like the ultimate form of control.
They heard voices from the tree line. They
felt hands on the shields they gripped
gripping them back. Their feet raced
backwards down the hill they were racing
up, their minds pin wheeling away.

Vivienne Mohan

 

Vivienne Mohan is a nineteen-year-old Queensland poet. She began writing in 2016 and in that same year was the runner-up of the Thomas Shapcott Poetry Competition for an unpublished first manuscript.

© 2018

Here the birds have learned

A forest with leopards in wheelchairs
and eagles that
with their sharp claws
on trees
they draw hearts.

Here the birds have learned
to stand in the air,
and worms become snakes without any cocoon,
and I am the god of this forest!

Arezu Montazer

 

Arezu Montazer was born in Isfahan, Iran. She studies software at Islamic Azad University of Najaf Abad. She is also a painter working in pastel and watercolor. She is a member of the Paradise Ocean Artistic Team managed by Seyed Morteza Hamidzadeh.

© 2018

What a time to be alive!

What a time to be alive.

The north has got detention and the sun state wants a mine
Inaction’s only easy if you live above the line

Oh, what a time to be alive.

Why bother IRL when you can url, or say farewell with brb?
We’re clever; crossing see-through wires; *sticker* *gif* sincerity

But wat a time 2 b alive!!

If you’ve a keyboard, you can conquer; from a screen, ideas breed
In an age when TERFs are weeds, not lawns – and MRAs can read

Oh, what a time to be alive …!

Though they say sexism’s over speaking up still isn’t free
I’ve either 99 conundrums – or, the bitch, they’d say, is me…

Well, what a time to be alive.

We’re spinning diamond hamster wheels; to ‘catch up’ means ‘pin down’
Everyone’s a yassss queen though not one could buy a crown

But what a time to be alive!

Well, unless you’re a reef.

… What a time to be alive?

A world where needles, lasers, razors form us willing junkies’ crack;
Where there’s hazing for the white men and there’s tasering for black

Yes, what a time to be alive.

Because a living ad for Gilead just makes my ovaries’ day
As does a world where ‘Homo-’s less a sapien, more a gay

But hey, we’re still alive!

What a time to be alive.

Rosalind Moran

 

Rosalind Moran is a Canberra author. One of her poems, ‘Bartending’, was published in the first issue of Not Very Quiet. She has also written for a variety of anthologies, websites, and journals, and has spoken at the National Young Writers’ Festival and Noted Festival.

© 2018

Prayer to Kali

Kali,
teach me
how to resist
those who have wiped history,
and remade the past
in their vision,
reshaped it into something
easier for them to swallow.

Teach me,
Goddess,
so I can take those
who erased my history
and erase them from the future.

Show me,
how to lay siege
to their towers
and glass ceilings,

how to tear down
their empires
brick by brick,
until only ruins remain.

Show me,
Goddess,
and I will dance
in the wreck
among corpses,
victorious.

Brianna J Muir

 

Brianna J Muir is a young writer from Canberra, Australia. When she’s not working towards her archaeology degree, she writes, and sometimes it’s poetry. Her work has been published most notably by Seizure, Woroni, and in Navigating the Maze (Adonis Designs Press 2016).

© 2018

The Night Shift

In the 24-hour diner that
decays on the corner of Ridge and Bloor

and keeps 12 frozen bags of onion soup,
where I work four dead night-shifts, an aging

man parks himself in my section and asks
again if I have got a boyfriend and

I serve him

bottomless and endless hopeless decaf
while he sits and looks up at me until

one night I ask him why he wears his gold
ring and he says that she left him 12 years

ago and took all of their kids for some
richer bastard in Oakville which he thought

was fucked up,

look, he had fed them, clothed them, never hit
them, but she had pleaded that she felt no

love, love, who gives a damn, you stay when you’re
married, you don’t get space from vows, women

for Christ’s sake, you’ll know better, your boyfriend,
you’ll know, you’re on my side, sweetie, when do

you work next?

Sheila Mulrooney

 

Sheila Mulrooney currently lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she works as a freelance writer while completing her Master’s in medieval literature. Her poetry and fiction can be found in various literary journals (most recently, Typishly).

© 2018

Jobs I would never apply for

Despite career aspirations and a hefty mortgage
Commercial and Strategy Manager, Transfield Services;
despite the promise of tropical climes, the general ring of the title
Executive General Manager, Southern Pacific, Wilson Security;

and because of a personal loathing for the word compliance,
its association here with that harsh sounding branch,
Assistant Secretary, Immigration Compliance Branch,
Department of Immigration and Border Protection;

and given the documented trauma and abuse, especially
of children; a belief that the buck stops with me
Assistant Secretary, Offshore Operations Branch,
Department of Immigration and Border Protection;

but if there are jobs going in Transparency Services,
Benevolent Security
or the Welcome Division,
Department of Resettlement on Australian Soil
please send the position descriptions a s a p.

K A Nelson

 

K A Nelson is a prize-winning poet who has been published in Australian PoetryBest Australian Poems 2015Mascara Literary ReviewWesterly online : Crossings (2017) and The Canberra Times. She is currently writing a memoir with poetry at the University of Canberra as part of a Masters by Research program.

© 2018

Sleeping with Paul Kelly in the desert

Camp dogs chase my 4 x4 by day, rutting donkeys hee-haw through the night, the photocopier’s playing up, internet is down, the NBN can’t send a man this week and my boss in Alice Springs wants a ten-pager on the pros and cons of working in a desert settlement by closing time today. Fuck him! I’m listening to Paul Kelly singing, thinking I’m a difficult woman allright, a difficult woman, with a broken down … Actually, I have head lice. And it’s my birthday. Christ!

The arrival of the mail plane is the only thing that undercuts my funk. Mum sends packet curries, Noni sends love in a card with chocolate, friends supplement slim pickings at the store with jellybeans and jaffas, but Margy sends a cardboard cylinder. Inside, a scroll. It’s very long. It’s a black and white poster of my hero. The card says Paul’s featured at the National Portrait Gallery at the mo. It’s life size. He’s all wrapped up in the shape of a man, cut off at the knees but that pleases me. He can’t run …

Placed face down, kept there on the tiled floor with books and cushions, he’s flattened with tenderness. When he’s straightened out I lay him on my double bed, lie down beside him, take a selfie. When the internet’s working I’ll send it south, to Margy, with a caption, ‘Sleeping with Paul Kelly in the desert’.

Lights out. Paul’s beside me head to thigh. You’ll never guess my last thought as sleep seeps sweetly into dreaming … his lips pressed to mine playing them like a harmonica …

Randwick bells are ringing, he’s the answer to my prayer, we meet in the middle of the air/He holds me swaying to Marvin Gaye, I’m his rolling queen all night long, he’s the cake and candle on my birthday, I’ve fallen for his song/Heaven’s broken loose! I’m in no coma, I’ve lost my shit, my chimney’s smokin’, angels shoot north, south, east and west/The dog is having his day, he’s a sick dog licking at his spew, I call his name/He wakes me speaking dreams at dawn, ‘You’re 39, you’re beautiful and all mine’ …

Well, that’s a lie! I wake with all my clothes on, empty bottle on the chair, no one else is here, except the poster boy himself. On the bedside clock, it’s 3am. It was nothing but a dream. How I wish Paul would bring me black coffee from the kitchen and we could start up again. One mitigating factor: I’ll never wake up alone in my bed again, while I’ve got this paper imitation of the real thing next to me.

I’d give you all of Sydney Harbour to have that dream again.

 

(Note: Celebrating Paul Kelly, iconic Australian singer/songwriter.  Lyrics (italicised lines) are from his Greatest Hits – Songs from the South album or his memoir, How to Make Gravy.)

K A Nelson

 

K A Nelson is a prize-winning poet who has been published in Australian PoetryBest Australian Poems 2015Mascara Literary Review, Westerly online : Crossings (2017) and The Canberra Times. She is currently writing a memoir with poetry at the University of Canberra as part of a Masters by Research program.

© 2018

orderly queue

we have forgotten history, world war two
footage of allied skeletal soldiers in rags
marching single-file, the brutal beatings, shouts
− or jewish citizens smuggled out of ghettos
escape long lines in concentration camps
taken to the sea, find asylum, settle, raise a family

six hundred thousand rohingya form a ragged queue on the skyline
cross the border, villages burn behind them, smoke clouds the sky
blood soaks the grass, they overflow tents on muddy ground

deals made with brutal regimes, a costly border force
stop the boats, those asylum seekers who did not drown
‘jumped the queue’ at sea, held hostage as deterrent
detained for years, kept prisoners in png
immigration minister’s propaganda − ‘had basically their own
personal butlers and cleaning maids up there’

hands on heads, men on manus form orderly queue, march to transit buses
pet dogs beaten to death or thrown from the bus window
refugees who fear violent locals with machetes, are arrested, handcuffed
some dragged kicking, beaten with long metal poles, forcibly moved
to a construction site, their futures undefined

jenni nixon

 

jenni nixon is a Sydney poet and political performer. Her publications include café boogie (Interactive Press 2004), Agenda! (Picaro Press 2009) and swimming underground (Ginninderra Press 2015). Her anthologised poetry is included in Spineless Wonders, Southerly, Overland, First Refuge, Writing to the Wire, Just off Message.

© 2018

Bargain Angels

I bought a pair of discount angels made from yellow plastic
one man one woman wings cost extra so I forked out a little
more and took them home to begin their new life of
watching out for me. They tell me they are many and I am
one so I tell them they can share the spare room and eat
with me at the table and I’m not at all surprised when the
council pays me a visit and says angels anywhere in the
house are against the rules for short stay rentals.
Six inches high, muscular and compelling, I went to take
another look make sure they were there – the door
was crying on its hinges yellow plastic glinting in the trees
like sunshine and the angels gone

I shouldn’t have paid extra for the wings.

Christine Paice

 

Christine Paice is a poet and writer. She has published two poetry collections, Mad Oaks and Staring at the Aral Sea (Ginninderra Press 2003 and 2008), and a children’s book, The Great Rock Whale (Hachette Australia 2009 ). She was winner of the Josephine Ulrick Award for poetry in 2009 with The Ministry of Going In. Her poem, ‘The Quality of Light’, was shortlisted for the Blake Poetry Prize 2013. Christine’s debut adult fiction novel, The Word Ghost, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2014.

© 2018

I Am A Stranger

I turn up stony faced like the creek
my suitcase open all the clothes falling
the cattle do not know what to make of this
they ask what country I am from
what place has allowed me to walk
with everything spilling like this?
They smell the eternal solitude of dry land.
My ancestors from the Hungarian hills
made seeded bread in the sun.
Here there is no ice there is no frost
my clothes spin endlessly over the paddocks.
I breathe the twisted gums of this new blue world
while my mother dreams of me.

Christine Paice

 

Christine Paice is a poet and writer. She has published two poetry collections, Mad Oaks and Staring at the Aral Sea (Ginninderra Press 2003 and 2008), and a children’s book, The Great Rock Whale (Hachette Australia 2009 ). She was winner of the Josephine Ulrick Award for poetry in 2009 with The Ministry of Going In. Her poem, ‘The Quality of Light’, was shortlisted for the Blake Poetry Prize 2013. Christine’s debut adult fiction novel, The Word Ghost, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2014.

© 2018

Wool, Cotton, Silk

The Nobel Prize for Literature, awarded to
100 males and 14 females between 1901
and 2017, left Sy to scrutinise the names
of authors on her bookshelves and reading
lists. Overwhelmingly males saw published
their discoveries, insights, outlook, pleas
for understanding, tropes on either side

of the river write where the notion of merit
still resides in the eyes of the dominant
dweller. The fabric of theme and time has
Sy suggest that the cotton, silk and wool
of history and the arts could acknowledge
gender equality, may recognise the thread
of civility in cloths society weaves.

Joyce Parkes

 

Joyce Parkes is published in Overland, Westerly, LinQ, foam:e, Cordite, Meanjin, Axon, Creatrix, and in numerous other literary magazines, journals and anthologies in Australia and nine other countries.

© 2018

Juche

‘I wasn’t dreaming of freedom…. I didn’t even know what it meant to be free.’ –Yeonmi Park, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom

 

Perhaps it was Titanic or Pretty Woman,
when words like love entered my lexicon.
Blame my father for selling cigarettes
during droughts, during unending famine,
not starvation-bodies, floating carrion for export.

I blame you, Incorruptible, for abducting me
at birth, eavesdropping on my thoughts
as though they were your own.

I buried him on a mountain without tears,
for a whisper can be heard by the birds and the mice.

My mother, stronger than any songbun

—even yours, Commander—

was raped in my stead by our conspirators
who freed us into China and prostitution.
Does it matter if we crossed three mountains or none?
Only the stars were with us as we fled, the stars
and a broken compass through a cold desert.

Does it matter if I prefer suicide to repatriation?
Although forbidden, I own
strange though it is to be master of myself.

Dear Leader, I understand juche better than you.

 

(Juche is the official political ideology of North Korea; in part, the ideal of ‘self-reliance’. Songbun is the North Korean caste system.)

Paula Persoleo

 

Paula Persoleo is a 2011 graduate of Stony Brook’s MFA program in Southampton, New York. Recent work that has been published includes ‘New Speedway Boogie’ in Philadelphia Stories (2017) and ‘Then She Was Forever’ in Into the Void (2018). She is an adjunct at the University of Delaware and lives in Delaware with her husband.

© 2018

After Charlottesville

Two hundred gathered in the park.
Small Midwest towns like ours
birthed crowds of strangers who shook hands,
wandered with signs and candles.
We were leaderless, except for ourselves.

A Ukrainian man made a speech
about immigrants. A small dark woman,
well-spoken and determined,
stood on a picnic table,
reminding us why we were here.

We walked together on sun-strewn paths,
the waning light dappling the ground,
snaked around the community center
and onto the road, where a few
honked their horns for our signs:
Hate has no place here. Black lives matter.
Kindness is everything.

We tried to think of what to sing.
Give peace a chance. This little light of mine.
Children in bright colors walked with their fathers.
Mothers wheeled strollers into the dusk.
As twilight descended, we returned
to where we’d begun. We made a circle,
holding hands, still not knowing exactly
what to do under a darkening sky.

Donna Pucciani

 

Donna Pucciani, a Chicago-based writer, has published poetry worldwide in such diverse journals as Iota, Acumen, Gradiva, Shi Chao Poetry, Poetry Salzburg, nebulab, the Pedestal, and Passagers. Her seventh and most recent book of poems is Edges (Purple Flag Press 2016).

© 2018

Her heart seeks

after Emily Dickinson

Her heart seeks
Concord—first—
Then—just scope to speak—
Her words an assay into
Sovereign space

Next—licence of agency—
Then—leeway from constraint—
And finally—the absence
Of erase

Michele Seminara

 

Michele Seminara is a poet and editor from Sydney. Her first poetry collection, Engraft, was published by Island Press (2016), and a collaborative chapbook, Scar to Scar, (written with Robbie Coburn) was published by PressPress (2016). Her latest publication is HUSH (Blank Rune Press 2017). Michele is the managing editor of online creative arts journal Verity La.

© 2018

In the Future, they Ate from Plates of Finest Porcelain

Of the earth, they are the wretched;
deserving of trough and bog and binding
of sub- and -altern and under-
to break; beneathing and belowing
of less and lessen and less and lessening
of lowering
to gag, to grab, to grope, to goad, to grate.
held in living
and let to dying.
Today, they are in death and of death and deadening and dying.
polluters, they pollute and are polluting and are pollution.
they are it; it-s of a worthless worth unworthily present
in time.
But then
in wait
made human; this dignity in having been
of a people, lost
in antique.
no longer ruining
they were of ruins and rhymes and roads and riddles
and were ruined.
For Tomorrow, they lived and loved and were loving and were lively
they did and they didn’t
they were and they were not
they moved and breathed
and they thought
and they needed.

in past – in having passed – a present is given;
that in future, they ate, they did eat, they had eaten
in future, they ate from plates, and
in the future
they ate from plates
of finest porcelain.

This title comes from the Larissa Sansour film (2015) and photo exhibition (2017) of the same name.

Abeir Soukieh

 

Abeir Soukieh is a Lebanese-Australian poet who was born and raised in Canberra. Her work can be found in Cordite Poetry Review and be:longing magazine.

© 2018

Fair Condition

curl your hair up nice
smell like aerosol
pretend you are a virgin
instead of used
not gently
in good condition
but discounted
pages are dog eared
marked
folded
water damaged
spine is split from bending
holding the front to back
like a handy-down book from good will
sorted by color
names written and crossed out
inside the corner
put it under a wobbling table
next to the toilet to thumb through
wedge a door open
never on the coffee table

Chelsea Stone

 

Chelsea Stone is a third-year law student and a striving poet. She has done most of her laughing and crying in Southern California. She says: ‘I write mostly of my anxieties, loves, life experiences, and (when the mood strikes) nature. I am trying to live and write in the gray area between logic and creativity.’

© 2018

Midnight Lexicon

She wakes in the night, the word
zest in her mind. It moves
to her tongue through a thick blur
of sleep, hisses and frets,
will not be dislodged.

Are you back? she mutters,
life’s so dull without you.
I’ve signed no petitions; abandoned
the tango; stayed mute
when incensed.

She fears she’ll lose it again
it might disappear,
might sink in the cache
of midnight promise that turns
to dust in morning light.

She could sit up
and search for a pen,
write it down, make sure
it stays. Zest
she says clearly, its life

on her tongue,
grated and fragrant,
citrus tinged,
zest she whispers
and tastes its return.

Gillian Telford

 

Gillian Telford is a New South Wales poet with work widely published in anthologies and journals, and twice short-listed for the Newcastle Poetry Prize. She has two published collections: Moments of Perfect Poise (Ginninderra Press 2008) and An Indrawn Breath (Picaro Press 2015).

© 2018

Shame

You could never say
the age of Shame
and be certain

She works so hard

on heels
She brings in
cupcakes, spun
sugar-high

Her brow
quite unsurprised
in the full-length hallway mirror

Who can measure the vastness
of Her wardrobe;
the dimensions
of Her dressing room;
or count the gilded
products crammed on ensuite shelves?

Before sleek apparel, there’s neat
corrections;
blotch-mute-powder / sweat-seals / tug-machines
chemicals / bleach / metal-sear discipline

with all that help, it takes
Shame ages
to erase creases
from skin, wrinkles off
dresses, fissures through
Her mind

mostly She misses
the events for which?

no matter

She says it’s nice
to still
be invited

(shame)

Helen Thurloe

 

Helen Thurloe is a Sydney writer. Her poems have won national awards, and appear in several anthologies. Her first novel, Promising Azra, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2016, and shortlisted in the 2017 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

© 2018

War palette

Syria I

In memory of Bassel Safadi, born 1981, executed 2015.
Declared dead 2017.

 

Bassel Safadi
floats democracy’s banner
flicks livestream worldwide
portraying arrests and spatters
hoping we tend the painted

his clothes shrunk
round his hunger, men crammed
to the walls
regime jailers’ strikes
release seeping dyes

for her visit
he borrows a jail mate’s
brightest t-shirt
brushing up to wear
last moments in her gaze

 

Syria II

pounding ochre
clouds, eye and cheekbone shading
colour runnels
distant Damascus canvas
we lend only the easel

soft faces
a patch of spring fighters lying
woven together
heads nestling on bellies
restoring their fabric

 

Mira Walker

Mira Walker is a Canberra poet. Her published poems include ‘sanctuary at pine island’ Not Very Quiet Issue 1 (2017); ’Famine Inside’ Flood, Fire and Drought (Ginninderra Press 2015); and ‘Waterlilies’ Pour Me a Poem (Watson Poets 2015). She belongs to the School of Music Poets. She coordinates smiths poem workshop.

© 2018

Aeneas escaping Troy

Aeneas escaping Troy

The plane is loading fast, passengers stowing their bags and
taking their seats, and the cockpit door is open. He can see down
the aisle and through the window to where lights break on the
runway and, further away, the fire and the reason they are
moving fast, travelling light, preparing for flight. The captain
turns to eye up his passengers, and the crew members go
through the motions, and then they are airborne, looking
through the portholes at what they have just escaped, walls of
fire, and behind that, only black.

Aeneas deserting Dido

The way she walks ahead of him, her buttocks swelling and
flattening with each step. His hands know their muscle, and the
turn to softness when she straddles him—the thought of it still
shakes him, even after all these months. She is so—he scratches
for the right word, he has forgotten so much since going into
exile—though ‘exile’, that’s a word that for ten years and more
has been on the tip of his tongue—so capable, he thinks. His Dido.
Always on top of her game. He trails behind, watching the
movement of her hips, choreographing tonight’s encounter,
knowing that this can’t last, won’t last, that he has something
burnt about him, something that won’t heal, that the fire is
following him. He cannot stay.

Aeneas finding Rome

He called it ‘finding’ though it had never been mislaid. But when
he lifted his ancient father from the boat, and lifted his small son
from the boat, and stood with them between the sea and the
unfamiliar hills, he realised that he at least had been found. He
gathered wood, and set a fire: this was no time for niceties. What
happened next has been expunged from the story. The blood, the
burning. But it’s over now, and he is here, still bearing the dead
weight of all he left behind, still waking at night in breathless
panic. They are all there, Aeneas and his father and his son, alive
again each morning, forgetting Troy and the journey and what
they did to claim this land, forgetting their lost lives, the bones
they could not gather, the graves they never filled.

Jen Webb

 

Jen Webb is a poet who works at the University of Canberra, and has been published by journals and anthologies in Australia, Canada, the USA, UK and China. She is the author of several poetry chapbooks and, with Paul Hetherington, of Watching the World: Impressions of Canberra (Blemish Books 2015).

© 2018

On the picket line

Eggs swimming in gruel. A smear of bruised avocado. You chow
down cheerfully. I slip my meal, bite by bite, to the dogs. Only the
cucumber (cold; quiet; elegantly sliced) seems palatable. Shake
your head at me, if you will. The world has turned sour and I can
no longer bear its taste, no longer hold it in my gut. If you can’t
eat you can’t fight
, you say, lifting a spoon to my lips. Nice try,
buddy. But too late. I have already left the battlefield.

Jen Webb

 

Jen Webb is a poet who works at the University of Canberra, and has been published by journals and anthologies in Australia, Canada, the USA, UK and China. She is the author of several poetry chapbooks and, with Paul Hetherington, of Watching the World: Impressions of Canberra (Blemish Books 2015).

© 2018

Wind Chimes

They ting-tonged
all through the day and restless night
so we took them down
when I was there.

Next time I arrived,
she left them in their day-time place
and I took them down
at night to sleep.

When she was gone
the family
prepared the house for sale.
The wind chimes were still there –

so were her roses
her ginger jars
her tiny figurines;
so were the shed tools
frayed fishing gear
of our long-ago dad.

We filled a skip with memories
but could not pull down the chimes.
The buyer loved them.
They still ring all day and night.
My mother would have liked that.

Irene Wilkie

 

Irene Wilkie has published two poetry collections with Ginninderra Press (2005, 2013), Love and Galactic Spiders and Extravagance (Highly Commended in ACT Writing and Publishing Awards 2014.) The latter was republished as a paperback and e-book in 2017 in eight other outlets. Her third book is almost complete. Her work has been published in Award Winning Australian Writers, Going Down Swinging, Australian Poetry Journal, and many others.

© 2018

Enough

Coffee waylays
the time
and the mind
and the grapple
between the rattle
and the dapple
of sun-stretched fingers
pushing this carriage’s cauldron;

we share this time

this space

this morning’s race;

somewhere —
had you considered
falling short
reaching into the well
of lofty regret and
catching your ragged stare

for yesterday’s drubbing
fuels tomorrow’s acquiescence
but today

today

that rural red horizon
that limit-you-not skyline
promises and delivers

enough

Jo Wilson-Ridley

 

Jo Wilson-Ridley has been published in five bells, fourW20, fourW22, fourW23, fourW24, fourW26, fourW27, Feast of Poetry a shortlisted finalist for Ekphrasis Poetry Competition 2016 and on a postcard with the Ekphrasis Poetry Competition 2015. Jo has been a New South Wales State Finalist in the Australian Poetry Slam in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015 but is still picking up the best poetry lines from cheering on her sons at Junior AFL. Jo lives with her family in Queanbeyan, New South Wales.

© 2018

Husband

You photographed me standing with our tour guide
in Christchurch. A big, imposing man who knew someone
we knew back home. The group was there, Cathedral Square,
the sun on-high behind you, angled well for maximizing
captures. That man had put his arm around my back and he was
holding hard. The sun kept shining blithely and you called to us,
Say cheese. His force was unapparent and I didn’t think to resist.
Let’s take another few, you said, Keep smiling, and I did.
Although the wave beneath my tongue was pushing up
Hey Sweetie treats from lunchtime on the bus.
— You likely don’t recall those shots, so long ago and far away;
you’ve taken thousands since. But what if we would look at me
and see the bile in my smile, that crooked Christchurch moment,
my compliance.

Elana Wolff

 

Elana Wolff is a Toronto-based writer, editor, translator, and designer and facilitator of social art courses. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Canadian and international publications and have garnered awards. Her most recent collection of poems is Everything Reminds You of Something Else (Guernica Editions 2017).

© 2018

Anemospilia

The wooden idol was the first to burn – the xoanon.
Seismic shocks made oil lamps overturn.
Instantly the timber shelves caught fire,
as did the garments of the hierophants.
Three of those trapped in the blaze
had already been sacrificed.
One priest made a bid to flee,
clutching a jug of human blood,
but both were crushed by the debris
the earthquake had dislodged from Juktas.
Blood collected from the youth
trussed like a sacrificial beast
had been intended to appease
the wrath of gods that threatened Crete.

Since then, how many innocents have died,
worldwide, in the name of causes misidentified?

Anemospilia – Cave of Winds –
disclosed its secrets recently.
In the shrine were found charred bone,
earthenware and slabs of stone;
the feet of the god-effigy, intact,
like pots fired in a kiln, because
such wooden Bronze Age idols
stood on feet of clay.

 

The earthquake that struck parts of Crete in the first part of the 17th century BCE destroyed Minoan palaces and the shrine at Anemospilia on Mt Juktas, preserving evidence of human sacrifice that had probably been performed in a bid to avert the disaster.

Jena Woodhouse

 

Recent residencies and retreats include Anam Cara (Ireland) and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig (Ireland); The Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (Greece) and the British School at Knossos (Crete, Greece) – all in 2017. A current interest and focus is Bronze Age women and their lives, and an ongoing interest involves the possibility of an interface where archaeology meets poetry and contemporary life.

© 2018