Raymond Miller

Wigwam

These miniatures we reproduced from saliva,
blood and juice once served to bind us as a glue,
called a truce on warring troops and propped us up
until the group had borne enough. Then bairns
were insubordinate or simply grown too tall for us;
their skins sloughed while ours merely sagged
and dropped. Now those we foster and adopt,
the cuckoo crop, are practising the precipice,
the clock ticks off our wedding list. It’s this readiness
to share the nest that makes you so extraordinary –
and yes, of course, I’m up again for forgery.

Copyright © Raymond Miller 2018

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Ray Whitaker

THE DIPLOMAT

Leaning on the ship’s rail
Water below rushing by
Deep sea Mediterranean blue waves moving past behind
Deep human thoughts going forward

A person is not their work identity
A person is the being inhabiting the body
What one does, or did
Is not what one is, or has been.

He spoke to me, as if to the waves below
“I saw a pod of dolphins go by,” he remarked…
He was tall, dressed impeccably, dapper, elegant
Reading sorrow in him, I thought….

What to say in return … as if to put a voice to it
Circumstances are sometimes just too full to discuss any of it
Water below rushing by like the thinking process
Deep mediterranean blue waves going their way into time.

Like looking in the mirror, wishing for different
“Let it go, let it wash away into the sea” I responded
Perhaps it didn’t matter that I didn’t know his ‘it’
White knuckled on the rail, he looked at me.

Holding the dry rail, holding his angry orange attachments
Another pod of dolphins appeared portside
As if to confirm the suggestion made. We watched them
Swimming freely, leaping in and out of the blue vastness.

Some of us are skilled in the art of being human,
Some of us are not
He looked in my eyes, shook my hand,
And walked away down the deck.

Copyright © Ray Whitaker 2018

Ray Whitaker has been writing poetry since he was seventeen. Ray lives in North Carolina, USA, and has recently published two full length poetry books, and is about to publish another. He does readings around the state, and is a member of three North Carolina poetry organizations.

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Louise Wilford

Examining

The essays I’m marking are all about that war:
they’ve read the books, while sitting in the malls,
and watched the grainy battles playing out
inside their skulls, from seats safe in the stalls.

They’ve visualised the flinch from mortar shells
as officers composed their poems and minds,
shuddering at the memories woken up,
the leaking corpses propping up the walls.

They’ve read the novels written later on,
could almost hear the guns and – mind’s eye sparked –
were shocked by firing squads and suicides.
They’ve heard poor Tommy Atkins and the way the Colonel drawls.

But they could not be there. The life that saw
these horrors clings to crumpled chaps
in wheelchairs – but for them too it’s long gone,
though present still in dreams perhaps.

War now is somewhere else – not bugle calls
but voices culling air with dusty scythes
in far off lands. It burns in deserts, hills,
or smashes up the edges of our lives.

There are, as yet, no tests to cast false chills
on struggling minds as each new tower falls.

Copyright © Louise Wilford, 2018

Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford  is an English teacher and examiner.  She has had around 50 poems and short stories published in magazines including Popshots, Pushing Out The Boat and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. She is currently writing a children’s fantasy novel.

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Joe Balaz

FALSE DIAMONDS

Da would be prophets are proselytizing
and false diamonds are everywheah

capturing da holy sunlight
dats streaming down from da clouds.

Da priest-slash monk-slash pastor
looks at his disingenuous gems

while he lights some incense
and sniffs it up his nose

exhaling it all moments latah
into wun great cloud of smoke

dat floats above
wun big empty room full of mirrors.

Seeing is deceiving
and believing is wun mattah of choice

in watevah hazy image
dat is reflected back at you.

It’s wun quandary no doubt
to wondah about da mission

dat wants to lead you like wun lamb

to glorious fields
of jade grass and golden olive trees.

Da skeptic inside
is beginning to stop and tink

dat he could gain wun fading soul
and yet lose da tangible world

by wasting away on da altar
of someone else’s dream.

All da while
da  counterfeit moment is glittering

and shining in da palms
of outstretched hands

offering before you
preliminary enticements

to da promise of unseen riches
in some kind of aftahlife.

Da sellers in sacred robes
are banking

dat you’ll fund
dere middle man setup

raddah den keeping da cash
foa yourself

and simply living virtuously
from day to day.

Copyright

Joe Balaz writes in Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai’i Creole English) and in American English. He edited Ho’omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature.  Some of his recent Pidgin writing has appeared in Unlikely Stories Mark V, Otoliths, Tuck Magazine, and The Lake, among others.  Balaz is an avid supporter of Hawaiian Islands Pidgin writing in the expanding context of World Literature.  He presently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

 

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J M Brown

Just passing through
The Benarty hills were covered with snow,
the sky was blue and the air crisp and clean,
No green sulphur fug, choking the life out of the inhabitants,
No men gathering at the shops
spitting their lungs onto the pavement.
No glowing bings sliding down to the roadside.

Only the older folks can remember.
A life filled with friends and family.
The legacy of good feelings,
happy memories, music, stories and the drollest of humour,
so wry, that few could understand,
but laughed along with sparkling eyes
and wheezing good nature anyway.

 
Copyright © J.M Brown 2018

Born in Glencraig Fife at the end of the 2nd World War,  After many years of drifting and working, James returned to Scotland. Once retired he began to write things. Some have been published as poems and articles and with the help of Citadel playwrights performed on stage by professionals. Still married with three children and four grandchildren.

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Hattie Atkins

The House Held Up By The Breeze

In the kitchen of the old house she perches,
hides her hands under her thighs so she won’t feel the cracks.
‘We could burn down the house, if we must’, she thinks,
but there is little to be gained from destruction,
and nothing to be plucked from ashes.

Like a peach will not ripen in the shade,
a person will not prosper in the shadows.
She thinks, ‘before a storm is the calm and after it the calm again’,
but the rain shows no sign of stopping here,
in the house held up by the breeze.

—————–

 

Copyright © Hattie Atkins 2018

Hattie Atkins is an 18 year old prospective undergraduate student of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, currently living in Manchester.

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Mary Franklin: Two poems

Unsettled

It was like swimming backstroke,
grey clouds ahead, relentless rain
behind.  In short, she was stuck.

Deep dark voices in her head said
stick the deed in the ego stockpot,
let it simmer along with carrots

of conscience, onions of blame.
There’s nothing to be gained
by tormenting yourself.

Just observe it and leave it
until the choppy waves
in your mind settle –

then let it go.

*
*
The Pool – Apache
(After the 1906 photograph by Edward S. Curtis)

The hush of sycamores in the heart
of the forest is ruffled by wing beats
of a hawk and chatter of chipmunks.

He stands in a breechcloth, bare-chested
and barefoot at the pool’s edge.
A warrior, a hunter.

The stones he stands on are thou.
The trees and sedge behind him are thou.
The water and the trout are thou.

All natural objects have souls –
his reflection in the pool
echoes in unison.

How could he know
the white man’s coming
would put the it in everything.

Copyright © Mary Franklin 2018

Mary Franklin’s poems have appeared in numerous publications including Ink Sweat and Tears, London Grip, Message in a Bottle, The Open Mouse and Three Drops from a Cauldron.  She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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