Christopher Nicol

Mountain Bothy

With harsh wind whistling in our ears,
cheeks pinched red and numb with cold,
we soldier slowly through land untamed
– great pioneers in a strange new world.
Heavy boots crunching over brilliant white,
we crest the hill and our eyes alight –
between snowy slopes our palace awaits
like the finish line of a marathon race

Packs are piled high against rough, stone walls,
and firewood is fetched from trees the wind has felled.
Sodden socks hang from old fishing line,
as candles hiss and flare in the darkening dell.
An acoustic guitar sings a past lover’s name
while our shadows dance to the roaring flames.
The whisky cork pops, like a toy cap gun,
as our spirits soar and our bellies burn.

Sleeping sacks unfurl, like flags of proud nations,
laid upon benches as bedding fit for kings –
with rumbling snores and slumbering hearth
we pass the night and await what day may bring.
While outside these rough, stone walls,
under the stars that shine so bold
between snowy slopes, through land untamed,
our palace stands amongst nature unchained.

This mountain bothy – our mountain home.

Copyright © Christopher Nicol 2015

Christopher Nicol is a creative writing student from Ayrshire, Scotland

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A.J. Huffman

The Dead Chicken on the Side of the Road
 
must have lost
its mind when it tried to cross
the four lanes that were under construction
and far too congested
to ever have been considered
safe for avian hitchhikers.
As I passed the broken
carcass, I wondered if it was
a motorcycle or a Zen Buddhist
on a scooter.  Maybe the chicken was time
travelling, trying to map out an extended lifeline
that strangely resembled a map
to Mars, which caused it a manic moment
of panic or blind
faith in which it hesitated too long,
turned itself into a peristaltic chainsaw
that would echo through a Ford
and a future that had already passed
as a perpetual cosmic joke.

Copyright © A J Huffman 2015

A.J. Huffman has published eleven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her new poetry collection, Another Blood Jet, is now available from Eldritch Press.  She has three more poetry collections forthcoming: A Few Bullets Short of Home from mgv2>publishing, Degeneration from Pink Girl Ink, and A Bizarre Burning of Bees from Transcendent Zero Press.  She is a Multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, and has published over 2200 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. www.kindofahurricanepress.com

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Nick Ascroft

Sleeptalk Fight

The vocal apparatus kicks like a sleep-spasm –
a thigh muscle settling into the autopilot.
Windows, rhumbaing in the wind,
the rainstorm tick of the old gas-pipe,
nothing whispers to the hairs of the inner ear,
nothing irritates a sleeping voice to half-wake

but a counterpart – now, spasming
these half-human frequencies.
It monologues overloud at nothing.
It lacks its gists, just
a memory of talking left in a milky snail’s slick
on the articulators: larynx, pharynx, palate,
tongue, teeth, lips.

Nothing irritates like a voice:
nothing is as inconsiderate as talking.
The reply is half right,
half-asleep. Voices know only how to respond.
Only voices can accuse, can cause of other voices;
voices are the only pronouncers of silence.
The argument teeters, stumbles,

totters into slumber.

Copyright © Nick Ascroft 2015

Nick Ascroft is a New Zealand poet who has published two collections through Victoria University Press, and has appeared recently in the anthology Essential New Zealand Poems.

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Byron Beynon

Curlews

I watch them working the estuary
probing the mud with curved detectors,
intense with silence
they have waited until now
for the tide to leave,
urgent and fresh
the unknown thoughts within
investigate the intimate
in a mourning of wind,
coaxing in the winter light
a communal menu on this sure line,
they will return to these ingredients,
unbroken habits
that come once more
inside the day’s echo.

Copyright © Byron Beynon 2015

Byron Beynon lives in Wales. His latest collection is The Echoing Coastline (Agenda Editions).

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John McIntosh

Looking Away

When I think about childhood, all that family
Palaver seems a grim parade of fights
And tears, with dumb rage bubbling below
Like lava.

Then her, sickening and dying;
And him, drinking and sighing.
Some memories come always dark and cold.

But some glow bright and warm. This rain, for instance,
Beating on the window, zooms me down a lens,
Back to weekend afternoons in winter:
Red coal fire, round the telly, ‘something good’ on,
Plates of butter-dripping toast.
And outside, ranks of raindrops suddenly
Flinging themselves against the glass,
Then running down to die in

sullen

zigzag

tears.

So den-like, close and covert felt that space
Where we five, secret sharers, sat
Arranged around the nylon carpet swirls,

Grateful and quiet, while outside mad winds moaned
And clouds like grey destroyers steamed across the sky.

And somehow even then we knew that holding
Things too tight could make them disappear.
Don’t stare too straight at them or dare to say
Out loud that, ‘ This is just the way things are’.
Our bones knew happiness a deer that spooked,
And fragile peace a snowflake, born and gone.

Remember how the Seven Sisters, dotted
On the infinite black ceiling of our skies,
Would fade if we reached up to grab and
Roughly pin them down with eyes.
That smudge of shimmered silver only crept
Onstage and stayed,
When we remembered … we remembered how
Things worked, and let our gaze, all sparkling
With love and constellations, slide away.

Copyright © John McIntosh 2015

I’m a 55 year old father of two daughters, working as an English teacher in a leafy suburb of  Glasgow. Had a couple of things published in The Glad Rag, in-house artzine for the Glad Cafe in Shawlands, and online for National Collective during the referendum campaign.

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Gary Beck

Route

We rush from day to day
in sickness and health
to work, play, war, death,
and do not enjoy the journey,
too intent on arrivals
to savor the pleasures of the road,
leaving us poorer
when we finally arrive
at final destinations.

Copyright © Gary Beck 2015

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks, 6 published poetry collections and 5 poetry collections accepted for publication. He currently lives in New York City

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Stuart A. Paterson

FROM HERE TO KIRKGUNZEON

The clock says 8.15 but nature disagrees
& seems convinced we’re in the Pleistocene,
the Eocene or, at the very least,
Kirkgunzeon. From Sandyhills the road,
the rolling fields, the clustered humps of trees,
the very age itself is swathed in seas of
grey we half expect to see occasionally
parted by long necks of sauropods,
stirred into swirls of milky depths
by half-glimpsed, gargantuan flocks
defying belief, quantum physics, death,
borders blurring into more than fog.

By Beeswing it’s lifting, cows are cows
again, rhamphorynchus no more than
tattered, droukit crows, cottages blinked
into Monday morning normalcy, car
headlights visible, the road a road,
no need to fear the haar-happed elder gods.

It’s half past 8, Dumfries waits
at the bottom of the Long Wood, sad,
slumped, wishing for mist, the past,
something bigger & more real than this.

Copyright © Stuart A. Paterson 2015

Stuart A. Paterson, born 1966, has been a past recipient of an Eric Gregory Award & SAC writer’s bursaries. Returning to Scotland in 2013 after 14 years of working in social care in England, he received a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship from the Scottish Book Trust in 2014. ‘From Here To Kirkgunzeon’ will be included in ‘Border Lines’, a collection of Galloway poems to be published by IDP later in 2015. He’s just been appointed the Scots Language Society’s Virtual Poet-in-Residence.

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