Robert Ford – 4 poems

Inside-out

 

The next day, I found you wearing my t-shirt inside-out – no doubt

the way you would’ve found it, the way you would’ve found me.

 

The statement was unclear. You needed no extra armour,

wouldn’t dream of owning me, of leashing me like a dog.

 

Its fabric stretched and slouched across you in ways I couldn’t

have ever dared imagine. Yet you wouldn’t utter a single word

 

to me that wasn’t measured out by the ounce. And you wouldn’t

meet my gaze for more than a heartbeat, as if its weight –

 

or its curiosity – might propel you over some unanticipated abyss.

But you felt it too, the intoxication, the fear lining your guts,

 

understood the unspeakable power we now possessed,

to reshape the whole, ridiculous world around us at will.

 

🍃

 

 

Growing advice for young rhubarb

 

Stir again every year with the moon still shrugging off Aquarius.

Punch through the dormant shell of the earth,

then immediately unbunch your clusters of tiny yellow fists.

Jazz hands.

Ignore the daily, icy plunge into darkness;

the fear;

the loneliness;

the space, neat rows and unfair support offered to those around you.

Save your sourness for blushing stems,

your bitterness for parachute leaves.

Go green.

Accept that you may well be neglected, unharvested, forgotten, abandoned,

yet allowed – perversely –

to thrive decades later in gardens where the house has become

no more than a shell,

a memory, even.

Fuck it.

Go berserk.

Remember you will always be enough.

 

🍃

 

 

Eaten up and spat out

 

Surely you were left amongst us by accident –

hovering above everything, button-eyed with

extra-terrestrial style, moving casually in and out

of dimensions we guessed were there but couldn’t

believe in? We worshipped you – at least until that

older kid with his monotone, jackbooted worldview,

synapses all raging with learned behaviour,

made a bloodied, breath-taking tableau of you

and your Post Office bicycle at the bus stop.

 

And we all stood by, ovine, mute, ruminating

inward thanks, because it was you and not us.

I watched your new face with its crushed ring of

fallen-angel curls, livid eyes alarmed with a sudden,

animal understanding. At nights – even now –

I scour the star-cold skies, desperately hoping

they returned to take you back, realising you were

wasted upon us. And I wonder – more importantly

– why it took them so damn long to realise.

 

🍃

 

 

Empty

 

All this energy burned up, this time elapsed,

and still everything we tried to fill lies empty.

Numbed eyes ask the other how this can be.

 

A wall of stars has slipped on their coats and

left the stage for another dawn, another silence.

A bottle sits embarrassed, naked on the table,

 

waiting to be beached elsewhere, message unread.

The bed has heard yet another of those stories

it will choose to ignore the sorrier details of later.

 

And you, me. The delusion of us. Never more

distant than when side by side, fighting for the

same air. Whispering, we walk on cartoon tiptoes

 

around the dereliction of ourselves, desperate

to avoid stirring up the forgotten ghosts as we

stumble around, wondering where the exits are.

 

🍃

 

 

Robert Ford’s poetry has appeared in print and online publications in the UK, US and elsewhere, including The Interpreter’s HouseBrittle StarButcher’s Dog and San Pedro River Review. More of his work can be found at https://wezzlehead.wordpress.com/

Glen Donaldson – fiction

Would the Real Maxine Miller Please Wake Up?

Around the age of fifteen, Maxine Miller had taken a long hard look around her and said, “Nope, not for me.” The entitled private school girl with the perfectly pressed uniform and a liking for colorful hair bands began to carry herself from that time forward like some imagined liquid tub of gold. In the process she became remarkably good at fantasizing.

The arid world of grammar lessons and Algebra II were like being on a planet with very little gravity for young Maxine. The endless classroom days stretched before her like a prairie road into a horizon she couldn’t be bothered to walk. Her thoughts would drift and soar amongst the clouds even as the school bell sounded around her. Maxine Miller was the daydreamer who never got her work done but wasn’t lit or Gucci enough, as the cool kids said, for that to be seen as a positive trait.

 But come the night, the drabness of her days would be burned away and the carousel of her deliberately fantasizing thoughts brought to a halting stop by the oblivion of sleep. In a house she shared with parents who were always on the phone, night’s rest was when her subconscious would go into swirling, beautiful freefall and create her imagination’s true magnum opus.

 At these times freckle-faced Maxine Miller, she of the tight smile and blue-rimmed glasses, would transform into adored best-selling author Caprice Crawford. The dream, repeated night after night, was always the same. A woman from the publishing company appeared and would announce that Ms Crawford, whose reputation positively rippled around the world as one of the genuine superstars of the modern literati, was finally about to make an appearance. The orchestra would start to play and on cue all conversation amongst the champagne-sipping guests ceased. All eyes would be directed towards the top of the stairs. Stunning and uber intelligent, Caprice Crawford, with her delicate chin and piercing eyes of green, would begin her slow and graceful descent, sliding her left white-gloved hand along the dark, lacquered staircase banister as she went.

The star-struck crowd knows that soon she will be among them and that maybe this literary god made flesh might have coffee and cake and talk with them. Some of the assembled make a mental note to try to say something meaningful that would make captivating Caprice notice them and think they are interesting. “What does it matter if she doesn’t remember our name a minute later?” a few ask themselves rhetorically. “Perhaps some part of us will remain in her mind? Perhaps even some piece of ourselves will find its way into her next book?” Oh the joy! Oh the splendor! Oh the anticipation!

And oh the heartache when pigtails and braces fifteen year old Maxine Miller awakens the next morning only to have to confront the stark reality that Caprice Crawford is not real and is most certainly not her. The gateway between Maxine’s worlds of fantasy and reality has been abruptly sealed shut. The door was locked. To that otherworldly realm, it always had been, and, unbeknownst to her now and for reasons too involved to untangle, always would be.

Somehow sensing this, Maxine does what she did most mornings when emerging from the twilight of the dream half-remembered. She laughed. Heartily. Musically. And in spite of herself. It was like yoga for her overworked, let-down synapses; a handy sanity-saving act of clear thinking. She had done it many times before. It felt familiar. Restoring balance quickly was her survival mechanism kicking in. It was very Maxine. It was not at all like the over-successful, puffed up la-de-da Caprice Crawford Maxine had invented. And the true beauty and magically helpful insight of that was something the awkward teenage would grow to love and appreciate in the fullness of time.

 

🍃

 

 

Glen Donaldson wishes people had a brightness setting and longs to elevate small talk to medium talk.

He has had work published by Jotters United, Positive Words Magazine, GhostStory.com, Tiny Owl Publishing, 101 Fiction, Tokyo Voice Column, Ipswich Life Magazine, Australian Writers Center, Lend Me Your Literacy, Into the Void Magazine, Fictuary, Octavius Magazine, Ether Books, The Binnacle, DesiWriters, The Flash Fiction Press,Cadillac Cicatrix, 81 Words, Wattpad and QWeekend magazine.

 

He is forthcoming in The Bombay Review and Horror After Dark.

Jayanta Bhaumik – 1 poem

In a good house

It is a house better than my kind
on its wall a calendar
maybe only stonewalling now

near its doorstep a taxi
quite weird a moony vehicle
driving to where you
always pose an absentee

meanwhile, there was a curtain
made up of addiction
tattooed in fishes and dreams
then across the maze a road turning over
around lands that have amorphous mothers
whose cute kids are made
only of waxes and silvery furs

but if the road lastly reaches,
it drowns to the dot of the deep
in the last
denim
dot
of the world

it is a free house, freer than mind.

 

🍃

 

 

Jayanta Bhaumik is from Kolkata, India, basically from the field of Metaphysics (a Research Member of American Federation of Astrologers Inc.). He spends a period in Singapore and other south-east Asian countries every year for his professional assignments. His works can be found in the recent or upcoming isues of Poetry Superhighway, Zombie Logic Review, Merak Magazine, Pangolin Review, Pif Magazine, Better Than Starbucks, PPP Ezine, Vita Brevis Journal, Poppy Road Review, Mad Swirl, Cajun Mutt Poetry Journal, Academy of the Heart and Mind, Everything in Aspic, Scarlet Leaf Review.

John Tynan – 2 poems

SUDDEN AS A POUNCE

 

Sudden as a pounce, I was assailed

A notion I would see a white cat

Why?

Does it matter?

Thoughts need no reason

Cats can be black, too

Prescience is fickle

Dogs don’t count.

 

🍃

 

 

PAIN

 

Pain is the futile stoking as the fire in your heart flickers out

Memory is the dimming experience of a worn out consciousness

Courage is the sense to forgive defeat by fear

Truth is accepting the need to lie to yourself

Faith is the blessing bestowed on the unquestioning

Conditional is the holy scripture shackling the brethren

Weakness is being held hostage by a

need

Freedom is never needing to be loved.

 

🍃

 

 

John Tynan

James Croal Jackson – 3 poems

How We Talk About Settling

 

Wet from the mansion still

writhing beneath us. Red

gold halls and long tongue

 

-like carpets. I could not

say what I wanted to say

except get me out of here.

 

But we were young, yesterday,

sipping free whiskey

in the aftermath of

 

condolences. Burnt

our throats going

down.

 

🍃

 

 

The Similarities

 

between you both are more Picasso

Pollack than Leibovitz     however

much I disengage    the Oculus will never

be Pennsylvania    though I have advanced

technology in my pocket    (I still have

the broken faces we captured)  I seek

the thin thread between real   what

I wish to be real   where I want to go

if time ever bends into black hole

I’ll head back home to Ohio and give

a hug to everyone    I somehow love

as an alarm    or Chekhov’s gun

telling   you are the people I still love

in the future you will reassemble into

magazine collage   and still resemble

the hummus-stained server in 2012

 

🍃

 

Office (August)

 

is this how you spend your days? laundry

filthy as furniture.

the room cold between two

worlds. I am awash in

transition: upbringing /

nirvana

give me a place to call home

I am stuck in the wedge

of

wanting nothing

but your long arms around

the circumference of

my body. here is

the ticking clock

a timepiece

countenance

allowing sea change

along the equator

indecision

east of my brain sees desire in

a sleeping blanket. I am trying

to wrap my mind around

the absence

of the life it

leaves.

 

🍃

 

James Croal Jackson (he/him) has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and poems in Pacifica, Reservoir, and Rattle. He edits The Mantle (themantlepoetry.com). Currently, he works in the film industry in Pittsburgh, PA. (jimjakk.com)