Tedium

My hand misses the glass the way a tongue does a tooth,
returning again and again to vacancy. It wants purpose

beyond tapping, the glamour of the louche, the toast,
the weighted pause. And there are days that I think

shot-worthy, events slipping from my grasp, very like
a glass, crashing. And the smarminess that seems to

emanate from my refusal, no matter how diffidently
I make it, little miss holier-than-thou sipping tea,

everyone needing to be that much louder to fill
the gap, to make it clear I’m not the boss of them.

And the slow slog of it all, the way a day is only a day,
and another to follow, and one to follow that,

in a tedium of accretion, and should I falter, having to
begin again at zero (my God!). And everyone so proud

of me, as if I’d discovered an element, extra-terrestrials,
a way to reel more than just myself back from extinction.

Devon Balwit

 

Devon Balwit teaches and writes in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of four chapbooks. Her individual poems can be found in places such as The Ekphrastic Review, Poets Reading the News, Autumn Sky Daily, Concis, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Front Porch and more.

© 2017

The camel and the straw

When there’s nothing left to say you eat
knock back the red wine you ordered
begin the cigars I hate.

My mouth is full with all that you said
and I’m too damned polite to do the napkin thing
spit out the one line I can’t swallow.

So I smile
no teeth
while inside I pack up and leave you.

J V Birch

 

J V Birch lives in Adelaide, South Australia. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, journals and magazines across Australia, the UK, Canada and the US. She has two collections – Smashed glass at midnight and What the water & moon gave me (both published by Ginninderra Press). She is working on her third.

© 2017

on not asking daddy

because he’d say
………don’t you know? don’t you know?
………child child how can you grow!

well I grew, grew taller than most
and my head wobbled, wobbled on its thin stem
and when my father pronounced the root source
of a German word, its Latin derivation
……….don’t you know? don’t you know?
I looked down at his feet
and saw the soil-clogged knots of roots
the gaping holes in the ground
and my gut began its life-long habit
of twinge and cringe that’s triggered by a certain
tone the masculine intones
……….don’t you know? don’t you know?
so when you and I enter new country
you stride ahead charting the vista, Mount This
Mount That, announce the names of plants
hardenbergia lomandra eucryphyia
names are good
you say
……….don’t you know? don’t you know?
I hang back in the silence of the scrub
to watch a mysterious white-throated bird,
savour its tentative fossicking
names are good, yes yes I’m sure
but flowers still flower for me, can you believe it!
and birds appear.

Nicola Bowery

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

© 2017

Solid

after Bruegel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

It took me two days to see the legs, I kept
looking and not finding them. This gave me a thrill –
the world getting on with life, no one
standing still to fete and grieve
a narcissist who wanted too much sun.
I had forgotten it was one of those myths
the big boys have well and truly picked over;
Jack Gilbert going for a glass half full
and forgetting the fall entirely.
When I remembered Auden and Williams
I didn’t want to write my poem anymore,
I put it away, though I now think
there’s still something to say. I see joy:
we all at the centre of our own lives,
a dignified lot for the ploughman, the shepherd,
the washerwoman. And I bet the big boys reached
between their shoulder blades to check
their wax was solid. They praise the lack
of limelight in the frame but I hear
in their words it unnerves them. For most,
life is a landscape we navigate;
it is rare to sit for a portrait.

Lisa Brockwell

 

Lisa Brockwell lives on a rural property near Byron Bay, New South Wales, with her husband and young son. She was runner-up in the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize in 2015. Her first collection, Earth Girls (Pitt Street Poetry 2016), was commended in the Anne Elder Award. www.lisabrockwell.com

 

© 2017

Luckily

The bread knife is large and it’s heavy,
listening to a podcast mention Woody
Allen and Mia Farrow and another
open letter, I am attempting to cut
the cumbersome loaf of sourdough for toast
when I slip and slice my ring finger.
Look, I have almost cut it off. How would I
wear my wedding ring, then? Luckily,
it didn’t happen. Much blood, et cetera.

Lisa Brockwell

 

Lisa Brockwell lives on a rural property near Byron Bay, New South Wales, with her husband and young son. She was runner-up in the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize in 2015. Her first collection, Earth Girls (Pitt Street Poetry 2016), was commended in the Anne Elder Award.  www.lisabrockwell.com

© 2017

The pretend life

If I lived in the Oak Shadows
trailer park, I’d want to my trailer
to be the color of a 7Up bottle, I’d
want to be beautiful and young. I’d
want to be beloved by someone who
couldn’t live without me. I’d be
tragic, a little dead around the eyes.
I’d live in the space before everything
begins. I’d be no one you know,
a shadow on the concrete, a flash
of color you might see as you drove
by me on your way to somewhere else.

Michelle Brooks

 

Michelle Brooks has published a collection of poetry, Make Yourself Small (Backwaters Press), and a novella, Dead Girl, Live Boy (Storylandia Press). She has spent much of her adult life in Detroit, Michigan, USA, her favorite city.

© 2017

What’s left of us

We framed you within the guidelines;
combustible, rigid container. No metal.

Your face now made up like pantomime,
wig hair and gaping mouth closed by lever.

Everything that came before has gone,
wetted itself into a dissolve, absent ashes.

My memory hangs like an idle picture book

echoing creaks of another life,
one where we had our conclusion.

Samantha-Jayne Burns

 

Samantha-Jayne Burns is a poet and lyricist currently residing in London, UK. She is currently studying her MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths University and has been published online in various poetry journals.

© 2017

Reader, I buried him

He’s festering under the fig tree,
the editor who said
that because I used the pronoun ‘she’
the poem should be warmer,
as if ‘she’ can only mean ‘mum’
and then the nicer, cuddly sort,
festooned with beige crochet,
endlessly clutching tea.
I snuck up upon him,
with a shovel I named ‘She’.
And it’s true, you know!
After hitting him from behind
the shovel was quite warm
with my sweat and his thin blood.
And now he is composing no
offensive missives,
and composting rather well.
And the figs, the gentle figs,
well they taste fucking sweet.

PS Cottier

 

PS Cottier gets up. PS Cottier feeds the budgie. PS Cottier writes. PS Cottier blogs at pscottier.com. PS Cottier sleeps. Do all this, and you too can be Perfectly Serene Cottier.

 © 2017

How to make depression worse

in ten easy conversational gambits, with commentary from a Real Depressed Person in brackets

Come on, pull up your socks! (As if socks are well connected synapses)

We all feel down from time to time (But what if the time is ten years?)

You’ve got to see the glass as half full (Merlot, Methadone or Meths?)

There are those worse off than you (I know that. I’m depressed, not Donald Trump)

Buy yourself something nice! (They were out of nice brains at Brains ‘R Us)

Why don’t you take up a hobby? (Like patronising depressed people, perhaps?)

You’ve got to learn to laugh at yourself! (That’s why I carved a smiley mouth on my wrist)

Just get out in the fresh air and enjoy yourself! (Yeah, I’ll put on my magic sport socks)

Why don’t you just have a good lie down? (You do make death seem strangely attractive)

Every cloud has a silver lining (Every cliché breaks an angel’s harp)

PS Cottier

 

PS Cottier gets up. PS Cottier feeds the budgie. PS Cottier writes. PS Cottier blogs at pscottier.com. PS Cottier sleeps. Do all this, and you too can be Perfectly Serene Cottier.

© 2017

Stepping over, stepping around

It sounds like a children’s game
played with an energy of rope.
Stepping over, stepping around
I saw someone playing it.
She was wearing a pink skirt
and played it at the station.
A man sprawled, pungent as durian,
at the top of the steepish steps.
Delicately, she stepped around;
a wily politician adept
at avoiding a sticky question.
Longer legs allowed the next commuter,
the one in in the suit, to step over the man.
For a moment he was an equation,
the cool guy in the suit,
and the collapsed man the vinculum
dividing the rear leg from the front.
No need for our dapper stepper
to interrupt his smartphone chatter.

And some of us step over and around
by using him for clever poems —
grounding them in a certain reality —
restrained muggers of another’s pain.

PS Cottier

PS Cottier gets up. PS Cottier feeds the budgie. PS Cottier writes. PS Cottier blogs at pscottier.com. PS Cottier sleeps. Do all this, and you too can be Perfectly Serene Cottier.

© 2017

Ode

with a feminist nod to ‘Fern Hill’

Oh I sang like the sea
When I was young and supple
And innocent with lust

Thus was my season
Spring, in its tulips, in its cups
All butter yellow atop the freshest green

Spring. The golden sap
Ran sugar-fine and pleasure tasted
Heady, pulsing where the skin
Touched air, spectacular desire

The way it was so long ago
When love was green and golden,
Easy in the windfall light

Here on the other side, Indian Summer
Deep red and bittersweet
Ripening to rot. Was that the all of it?

What now at sixty-five
As mercy edges further south
Every leaf and seedpod
……Rattling its bones

Star Coulbrooke

 

Star Coulbrooke, Poet Laureate of Logan City, Utah, is co-founder and coordinator of Helicon West, a bi-monthly open readings/featured readers series, and Poetry at Three, a long-standing local poetry writing group. Her poems are published widely in lit mags and anthologies. Her 2011 chapbook, Walking the Bear, is available online (through Digital Stacks in the University of Utah Marriott Library). Her newest poetry collection is Thin Spines of Memory. Star is director of the Utah State University Writing Center.

© 2017

through all

her fast walk
military organization
and bossy manner …
leaves my drifting
dreamy self in tatters

*

through all
the comings and goings
of my siblings …
my mother and father
seated at the table

*

teachers
marshall the children
across the pedestrian crossing …
but the children keep
their own untidy thoughts

Anne Curran

 

Anne Curran lives in Hamilton New Zealand. She writes Japanese short form poetry when time and inspiration allows. She loves the idea of a writing space that provides for women’s creativity to prosper in print. Thank you to editors, fellow writers and mentors for their encouragement.

© 2017

 

Fish and Fowl

After Bruce Goold’s Flying Fish, 1994Manly Art Gallery

.

You choose the same meeting place
over and over and I wonder

what prompts you to become a regular.
Is it the view? It doesn’t take much
imagination to see the choppy waves

below as an alpine rendezvous
but you’ll have to show initiative

if you want our love to live.
Granted, you are a handsome brute
with beautiful bulging eyes

and a body, sleek as a torpedo.
Variety spices my life

but a cool palette, somewhat pallid
apart from dashes of red, is scary
considering thoughts of bloodshed.

We’re open to attack from below
and above. I don’t want to end up

on someone’s dinner plate, and no matter
how clever your aerial manoeuvres
one day you could leave me up in the air.

Jan Dean

 

Jan Dean’s writing credits include Meanjin, Southerly, Newcastle Poetry Prize anthologies and The Australian newspaper. Her pocketbook Paint Peels, Graffiti Sings (Flying Islands 2014) is in English and Mandarin, and With One Brush (IP 2007) was short-listed for the Mary Gilmore Award. Formerly she taught visual arts.

© 2017

Perimenopause as sweat lodge

I am a blushing bride
of transmutation, dewy-skinned
for a new reason

blanketed by the same layer
of lush, laden air
my lover fended me off from

when my palm relished
her intermittently luscious biosphere
I am a hothouse orchid

trembling on its stem
catch me ever
paying for a sauna again

Tricia Dearborn

From the sequence ‘The change: some notes from the field’.

Tricia Dearborn’s poetry has been widely published in literary journals and is represented in major anthologies including Contemporary Australian Poetry and Australian Poetry since 1788. She is on the editorial board of Plumwood Mountain, and was guest poetry editor for the February 2016 issue. Her most recent collection is The Ringing World.

© 2017

Myth Making

Some things – it’s as if we might have made them up.
Like the night we camped on a hill in Donegal, above
the sea and under a clear sky, watching the Perseids
smear sudden streaks of brilliance across our holiday

and it was like eternity or timelessness or time
or something; our two young daughters, awake
after midnight and watching with us. They both
remember too – I’ve asked. Even after twenty years,
light is still seared across their retinas; the night when …

Moyra Donaldson

 

Moyra Donaldson is a poet and creative writing facilitator living in Northern Ireland. She has published six collections of poetry, most recently Selected Poems (Liberties Press 2012) and The Goose Tree (Liberties Press 2014).

© 2017

My Mother’s Coat

I don’t remember her wearing it,
there’s not even a photograph.
I don’t know how she afforded it
on her teacher’s salary and my father
a booking office clerk for the railways
who brought his wages home
in a brown envelope on a Friday night.
It was a film star’s item of clothing,
with its mink collar —

at least that’s how I remember it,
hanging in the wardrobe,
smelling of mothballs, heavy as a quilt
when I’d secretly take it from its hanger
and slip my adolescent self into it,
feeling the silk lining against arms and legs,
folding it around my body, caressing
the tight unyielding curls,
black and shiny, almost alien, something
unnatural seeping through the glamour,
a darkness felt in the heart; a repellent attraction.
I wondered what sort of animal had a coat like that.

In the days after the funeral, my sister-in-law
threw it out with all the other stuff
or I’d have kept it.
It takes the pelts of thirty lambs
to make one Persian Lamb coat.
They must be under three days old,
ideally foetal,
so as to have that deep blackness,
those close curls that are the most desirable.

Moyra Donaldson

 

Moyra Donaldson is a poet and creative writing facilitator living in Northern Ireland. She has published six collections of poetry, most recently Selected Poems (Liberties Press 2012) and The Goose Tree (Liberties Press 2014).

© 2017

Bulbs Never Disappoint

Last year, in memory of something
or in anticipation of something

(both being loss), I planted
one hundred daffodil bulbs,

buried them one at a time
in the newly turned earth.

Now they are February’s yellow
budding of absurd, enduring hope.

Moyra Donaldson

 

Moyra Donaldson is a poet and creative writing facilitator living in Northern Ireland. She has published six collections of poetry, most recently Selected Poems (Liberties Press 2012) and The Goose Tree (Liberties Press 2014).

© 2017

The Other Side of the River

There’s a pram by the river.
…  .A white-haired man in a navy parka
steps from the crouching wattle,
…  .tosses in a line. Moorhens scuff
their feet along the meniscus,
…  .a coterie of rowboats nudge
against each other. The river blinds
…  .like a shattered bottle,
the old man leans into the pram.
…  .Moorhens paddle their reflections,
a bell rubs the edge of his line.
…  .It’s a very quiet baby.

Susan Fealy

 

Susan Fealy is a Melbourne-based poet, reviewer and clinical psychologist. Her poetry has been published widely in Australian journals and anthologies and some have also appeared in the United States, India and Sweden. Her first collection, Flute of Milk (UWAP), won the 2017 Wesley Michel Wright Prize.

© 2017

at least I still remember

there was never
any doubt of love
in my childhood
dahlias grown by dad
vibrant in mum’s vases

~

Empire Day:
my father in the garden
lighting fireworks
while I watched, enthralled
behind the kitchen window

~

bias binding
one of those dread items
clever mother
wielded when teaching
her dull daughter to sew

~

Grandma
crocheted most beautifully
round the edges
of our linen hankies …
all gone now, every one

~

too late to know
it was always you
from the start …
still, I can cherish
those Elvis recollections

Amelia Fielden

 

Amelia Fielden is an Australian poet and translator of Japanese Literature. She has published seven collections of original tanka poetry in English and fifteen books of translated Japanese tanka.

© 2017

Stand Tall

Let their words pass through –
They don’t define you.
Your strength lies in
The strands of courage,
Hope and compassion
You forged to pull
Yourself together
And make you who you are.
You are amazingly strong.
Stand proud. Stand tall.

Maryanne Frederick

This poem was inspired by the sculpture Voyager by Linda Brunker, located in Laytown, County Meath, Ireland.

 

Writing mostly on her laptop from her home in Phoenix, Arizona, Maryanne Frederick would gladly trade it for a comfortable boulder near a forest mountain stream. Her publishing credits include The Human Touch Journal, Spillwords Press, Iowa Farmer Today, and The Gila River Review. www.maryannefrederick.com

© 2017