Horses race letter coloured
across the nearby sunset
over the longitude of the beach
stretching over the moon swayed red
underneath their hoofs
and the other side of the pier in the distance.
Clutching the wind like fingertips
over the nostrils
before the soft rain blusters
then strokes their manes
expelling a shock of mist
their heart quickening in error
speaking the language of the sea
dagger driven into a grandstand finish
of their footprints laid out behind them
reduced to ghosts in seconds
barnacled in emotion
spread fragnant like dissolved butterflies.
by Andy N
The Turning Leaves
The autumnal leaves are turning:
gold, amber, bistre,
cinnamon, and ochre.
The autumnal leaves are turning.
by Kevin Cowdall
Smooth Whiskey (originally published by Cephalopress)
The days are long in a life of slow motion. Waking up takes too long, despite the violent assaults of the alarm clock, unchained by a snooze button----like me—worn down to the circuitry.
Get up late, again. Take a whore bath in the bathroom sink. Wash what needs it and get out the door. Shower’d be nice…really nice. Maybe tomorrow. Probably not, again.
Office clocks--harbingers of death to my soul--lament the dying of the fire, within. Telephone rings perforate the recirculated air of lungs and mouths like a symphony of electric crickets, tuning-up beneath the hepatic glow of fluorescent suns outside my cubicle’s walls.
Driving home in the same car, down the same roads, in the same rancid clothes that need more than just a good airing out, stuck in this bad track mix, playing on a loop, I need a drink. There’s a bottle at home. Whiskey, I think--a gift for my 50th. It goes down, rough, but smooth, after a glass or two or three.
Smooth is good in a life of no motion.
by David A. Estringel
A pink jacket only shows
the destruction of humanity
through one morning move
trains became cages
camps became morgues;
no laughing to be had
crisp skin fumigated the air,
tattooed arms dangle
through the gates of hell
when all was said and done
he was so rubbish he shot himself
but not before taking the lives of innocents
not before showing the world what we were capable of
by Jennifer Fytelson O’Brien
I had planned my leap, fish like
zooming upward from the bottom of
the deep tub, spa pretender.
Picaninnies, formally family members
ran screaming five vowels worth.
Clap, clap, clap. Yes five.
My women treat me abominably,
short shorts challenged as always.
Labels are embarrassingly somehow necessary.
The water soaked a Frank Zappa poster
that could be quite valuable.
There are whole books on his.
Inspired, my wife has begun collecting Viking horns.
Goes missing for weeks at a time
with much younger virile men
name of Philodemus and Red.
by Colin James
A Dark Place
I feel the devastation lurking in the shadows like a thief.
I hear its restless growling, prowling at the edges of my dreams.
Like the Dutch boy with his finger in the leak
I hold back the sea, a sea of grief.
He must have felt the water burning cold on his skin
At night must have heard the grumbling
restless rumble of the North Sea,
He knew its power, irresistible as fate
Sensed that under the deep water, sea monsters hide in wait.
Sometimes my defences spring a leak,
Water spills from my eyes, pain soaks through my brain,
A hard stone hurts in my chest.
I’m drowning, not waving, in a dark place.
on most days i
just want to crawl back
to bed, never come out
become a turtle covered
by my hard shell
nothing appeals to me
not even food, just coffee
coffee more coffee
to keep awake
another hermit crab
who carries its home
sickened by shorelines
poisoned by oceans
after all those storms
climbing through menacing
i must keep going can’t quit
but would rather slither off
into some dark cave like
the spotted salamander
by Joan McNerney
The spavined apartment hides
all its anility beneath the sheath
Here the black hole you burnt on the couch
with your forgetfulness bares its soulful springs.
There a phantom patch of dampness
returns to its secrets between the ribs of the wall.
Tonight, mom, we should drink to the nocturnes,
into the halo of oblivion and imagine
those husbands and those fathers who could
have joined us.
Ha, years turned into an apartment instead.
the journey through hell
on the page
until the ink
begins to burn
it’s like reading
about the rebel
about Holden’s life
or old J.D. himself
for whom human faces
were withered flowers
but live your own life
and the glamour
I met a homeless guy
down by the river
with a copy of Catcher
in an old backpack
we chatted awhile...
I’ll bet every hobo in America
owns a copy
creased and folded
fat with dogeared pages
greasy with the despair
of the seeker
by Brian Rihlmann
I could tell you of the hard hail of sixpences
on this speckly jumper with its barbed wire holes
and the elbow gash from knowing’s use
where the mousing cat snoozles in,
or the sudden whack to the face
the first-time words stub into you from love’s slammed door,
a teenage death before experience cures.
But there’s a black cockatoo on a drawn branch
one eye primed ready to launch if I move,
a jerky breeze would be the dissolution of me.
I could sing you of the soft rime of an artichoke’s glory
wrapping the curate’s tonsure in unexpected daze,
where below the unspeaking tongue of my leathers
the cut down stalk shouts out with new emphasis
biding a season in just two steps away.
How love has no redemption date or return to sender
no use by in a business envelope without address,
the withdrawal notice pinned within these vestments.
That wind and wing have the measure of the duty in us all
taking the hat with loosed sun glasses,
the stuffing falls through the stake goes over
pantalooned chickens fossick the seeds of my charge here.
And way down, in the remnant of a once cyan sweater
pushy prickly leaves will weave their rise again.
by James Walton
Biographies of the poets
Andy N is a writer, poet, podcaster and ambient musician from Manchester, UK. He is the author of three full length poetry collections, the most recent been Birth of Autumn and also is the creator / host of the Podcast series Spoken Label, Reading in Bed and Comics Unity.
Kevin Cowdall was born in Liverpool, England. He has had over 200 poems published in magazines, journals and anthologies in the UK and Ireland, and across Europe, Australia, India, Canada, and the USA, and broadcast on BBC Radio. Having previously released three collections, his 2016 retrospective collection, ‘Assorted Bric-a-brac’ (bringing together the best from previous collections with a selection of more recent poems), has had excellent reviews and is available in paperback and as an e-book on Amazon. Kevin’s novella, ‘Paper Gods and Iron Men’, is also available in paperback on Amazon and as an e-book from the Kindle Store and Smashwords.
David A. Estringel is a poet and writer of fiction, creative non-fiction, & essays. His work has been accepted and/or published by Specter Magazine, Literary Juice, Foliate Oak Magazine, Terror House Magazine, Expat Press, 50 Haikus, littledeathlit, Down in the DirtMagazine, Route 7 Review, Setu Bilingual Journal, Paper Trains Literary Journal, The Elixir Magazine, Soft Cartel, Harbinger Asylum, Briars Lit, Open Arts Forum, Cajun Mutt Press, Former People Journal, The Ugly Writers, Writ in Dust, Cephalopress, Twist in Time, Merak Magazine, Salt Water Soul, Cherry House Press, Subterranean Blue Poetry, Printed Words, Sunflower Sutras, Tulip Tree Publishing, Salt Ink, PPP Ezine, Digging through the Fat, Haiku Journal, Foxhole Magazine, The Basil O’Flaherty, Three Line Poetry, Agony Opera, Siren’s Call Ezine, Alien Buddha Press, Synchronized Chaos, Pantheon of Poesy, The @baffled Haiku Daily, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, The Blue Nib, Fishbowl Press, Horror Sleaze Trash, Rigorous Magazine, Corvus Review, Spillwords.com, Proletaria Journal, Cherry Magazine, Bleached Butterfly, Poetry Pea (Haiku Pea), Sub Rosa Zine, TL;DR Press, Spit Poet Zine, Arthut, ICOE Press, Logos, Poetizer, Channillo, and The Good Men Project. He is currently a Contributing Editor (fiction) at Red Fez, an editor/writer/Artist in Residence at The Elixir Magazine, fiction reader at riverSedge, Poetry Editor at Fishbowl Press, Artist in Residence at Cajun Mutt Press, and columnist at Channillo. David’s first book of poetry and prose Indelible Fingerprints was published by Alien Buddha Press April 2019. David can be found on Twitter (@The_Booky_Man) and his website at http://davidaestringel.com.
Jennifer Fytelson O’Brien is a freelance writer currently based in Los Angeles who is known for her insightful poetry. With over a decade of poetry writing, Jennifer has a unique voice that shines through her collection and speaks to her readers. Jennifer has an MA in Creative Writing from The Lincoln University. Jennifer’s work has appeared in numerous outlets such as The Blue Nib, The Borgen Project and Canada’s oldest literary magazine, The Mitre. She currently writes for the number one TV site, Screen Rant. Jennifer also enjoys keeping up to date with her personal blog, ALettertoWrite.com and encourages you to visit! When Jennifer is not writing she enjoys traveling, going to the beach, and playing with her dog.
Colin James Colin James has a book of poems, Resisting Probability, from
Sagging Meniscus Press. He lives in Massachusetts.
Mal Leicester is Emeritus Professor of adult education, University of Nottingham. She has published many academic books and papers, several collections of children’s stories and a handful of poems. She is interested in the philosophy of language and Wittgenstein’s work influenced her PhD. At present Mal is working on Jane’s Journey, a memoir of her daughter’s remarkable life and death and she lives with her husband, Roger Twelvetrees, and their dogs in Hough on the Hill, Lincolnshire. A member of the Hub Writers’ Group, Sleaford Lincs, she enjoys their monthly challenge of writing tasks often outside her comfort zone.
Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days. Four Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Review Journals, and numerous Kind of A Hurricane Press Publications have accepted her work. Her latest title, The Muse In Miniature, is available on Amazon and she has four Best of the Net nominations.
Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost Animals, Understanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and now ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’ (Alien Buddha Press)Author Page – amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet Twitter- https://twitter.com/Kushalpoe
Brian Rihlmann was born in NJ, and currently lives in Reno, NV. He writes mostly semi autobiographical, confessional free verse. Folk poetry…for folks. He has been published in The Rye Whiskey Review, Cajun Mutt Press, Alien Buddha Zine, Synchronized Chaos, Madness Muse Press and The American Journal Of Poetry.
James Walton was a librarian, a farm labourer, and mostly a public sector union official. He is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers. He has been shortlisted for the ACU National Literature Prize, the MPU International Prize, The William Wantling Prize, the James Tate Prize, and is a winner of the Raw Art Review Chapbook Competition. His poetry collections include The Leviathan’s Apprentice 2015, Walking Through Fences 2018, and Unstill Mosaic 2019.