Poetry promotion – Silence and Chopin by Dorota Szumilas

‘SILENCE AND CHOPIN’ BY DOROTA SZUMILAS

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Title: Cisza i Chopin / Silence and Chopin
Author: Dorota Szumilas
Printed: Kraków : Ed. By Miniatura, 2012.
Pages: 96 pages
ISBN: 978-83-7606-460-4
Publisher: http://miniatura1107.republika.pl/poezja1.htm
Contact: miniatura@autograf.pl
Language: Original in Polish by Dorota Szumila. Translated into English by Urszula Sledziewska-Bolinska and Dorota Bogumila-Zegarowska.

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(P18 of ‘Silence and Chopin’ by Dorota Szumilas)

THE WORLD OF MEMORIES

is like a huge sphere
lined with paths
winding in the darkness
a sunray falls on my face
bringing a gentle smile
that’s how it was
you can’t deny it
I remember
to build my identity
I forget
to go further without unnecessary words
I’m always between one
and another
in the reality of dilemmas

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(P20 of ‘Silence and Chopin’ by Dorota Szumilas)

SORROW

Don’t let my soul
be torn by sorrow
let moments tied
with sobs
be gone
let heart’s wail
and soul’s howl
disappear
into oblivion.

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(P24 of ‘Silence and Chopin’ by Dorota Szumilas)

SOMETHING MORE MAYBE+

I’ll write to you
about the joy of
“good words”
Among letters
numbers and all kinds of
symbols…
Something more maybe+
I forgot 100%
Perhaps 1/100 🙂 at recollections
I also cry sometimes
a little
Why?
Because I may not see
the good words
again…

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(P32 of ‘Silence and Chopin’ by Dorota Szumilas)

***

So what are you going to tell me?
That leaves have fallen down from
trees
that the wind is blowing
and it’s raining
that it’s cold…
Tell me more!
Tell me that I’m not really sad
And I’ll tell you
that I’m very happy!

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(P36 of ‘Silence and Chopin’ by Dorota Szumilas)

UNFINISHED

unfinished
despite your efforts and attempts
postponed
until eternity
you can always come back
there is always time…
perhaps it’s best not to put it off
so that you don’t have to start
over again…
it needs contemplation
so that you can move on

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(P48 of ‘Silence and Chopin’ by Dorota Szumilas)

***

She still has sunken eyes
In the absence of love
Happiness is in the other side
of her gaze
As a juxtaposition to the unattainable

She sinks into herself
As a sound fading into the vastness of
the forest

That will bounce off trees echoless
This time…

A few tears of helplessness may fall
And then you won’t even find tears
to cry

And the coming darkness
Will sink into itself for good

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Information about the author:

Dorota Szumilas is a graduate of the Institute of Information Science and Book Studies at the University of Warsaw and the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Warsaw. Her poetry books have been translated into German, Ukranian, Belarusian and her poems have also been translated into English, Russian, Slovak and Pashto. She is a member of the Polish Association of Authors and Siwobrowych Poetów Association in Krakow. Her published poems and literary views appear in: Poetry Today, Kwartalnik Kulturalny (ed. by Andrezej Debowski), Radostowa, Hybryda (artistic and literary writings of the Association of Creative Pol-art in Krakow), Podlaski Tygodnik Kulturalny, Prace Pienińskie, Migotania, sZAFa, Znaj and the Pisarze.pl. Dorota Szumilas is one of the authors of the second and third editions of ‘Contemporary writers of Poland’. She gave speeches at both the Slavic Poetry Festival and World Poetry Day in Warsaw.

Dorota Szumilas’ website is at: http://dorotaszumilas.blogspot.com

Caitlin Woolley – Fiction

HOW TO SURVIVE THE CREEK

Don’t say no when they tell you to follow. Don’t say no when they invite Dan, the new boy with the lazy eye and the sour smell. Encourage him when he seems doubtful because his family might be rich. Threaten him if you have to. Tell him not to go home right after school, even if he promised his mother, even if you promised yours. Don’t laugh when Dan trips over the hole in the wire fence behind the school. Grin from ear to ear when Marcus claps you on the back and then Dan as if either of you played football. The clap makes you feel hollow inside like your bones are brittle as a baby’s, but the thickening treeline tells you it is time to let the silence fall. Don’t make a noise when the fence cuts you. Let the blood soak into a fold in your jeans because you know that if they smell it you will be the lamb. Keep quiet until you’re past the road. Watch Sandy’s ass as you follow her into the woods, but don’t get so distracted you snap twigs. When it is darker and the air is heavier, take the cue from the others and titter at Dan’s nervous joke, laugh differently when Sandy says she doesn’t know which eye to look at when he’s talking. Pretend his “I know, right” is truthful. Listen for the hissing of the creek now, listen for the density of birds’ wings. Listen for the snap of a sandal as Jenny trips over the ground. Look to Marcus when he grabs her by the arm and tells her to be careful. You know that you will always look to Marcus; you know that he knows it too. He is big brawn and blonde and in these woods you feel so thin. Your favorite part of coming here is the silence: immense, crushing, you can’t believe that it doesn’t swallow you. When Sandy lights the pipe and offers it to you, accept it. Feel electric when your fingers touch. Then when everything is stars, gaze up at the graying light and beg it to bleed into you, seep into everything beating and vital. You still have a splinter in your ear from the last time you came here and a loose tooth from the time before. Let your tongue roll over the slick slide of tooth to pay its rightful homage. By the time you reach the deepest part of the woods you will see the creek, a scar in the land, and you will feel like bursting. You’re the only one who has stayed so far. Joe fled the trees last time with a black eye and Alex a broken thumb. But this is your fifth time: be proud of that. You are invited as long as you survive. Sandy and Jenny lean against a tree and pass the pipe back and forth between them. When Marcus strips away his shirt, strip yours. Try to do it in time with him. Then, stare Dan down until he wriggles out of his long sleeves. Veiled threats are what you do now. It makes you useful. Feel contempt for Dan’s thin body and try not to think of it as your own, soft and narrow and so white in the darkness of the forest. Try to comfort Dan when he panics, but not too much. He knows why he is here and why you were the one to invite him. Now, look to Marcus because you both know that is what you do, too; look to him as he swings a broad fist into the air in front of him. The sound of it clapping against Dan’s cheek is thrilling, his yelp a frail sound that dies in the air. Let his weak punch at Marcus delight you. Rock back and forth on your toes. Marcus tosses his fist again and hits Dan squarely in the face, and then a few more times, taking more than his turn. Dan is bloodied and wonderful and Marcus, radiant, with barely a mark. If he moves to hit you, you will let him, you will be ready, you will be leaning in, you will be braced, you will feel something. But then you will see in the ripple of his skin that he isn’t coming for you. Imagine it happening just before it does, to experience it fully, the sound of Sandy’s soft voice in your ears: Marcus’ hulk exploding into Dan, the thud of the two of them as they skid across the earth, red dirt kicking up like voices. Putting up a solid block is how you got to stay and you know it will be the same for Dan. Only it isn’t. What you don’t imagine is the crack of skull as Dan hits the great alder behind him, the soft searching in his eyes before he crumples and his body rolls down into the creek. When the wet sounds stop he will be face down in the water, a red and white stripe in the dark. Marcus stands over the side of the creek, blank-faced, his fist still clenched in red momentum not yet gone. Dan will not get up and the creek flowing around his crown, stained. Marcus and the girls spare only a moment before they bolt from the woods, breaking all the branches. In seconds you are alone there, the only one who would see the boy in the creek move. But you say to yourself that there will be nothing to see because you are always the one who survives. Turn. Look away. If you leave the woods now it will be with your truth discolored. Maybe you are being swallowed after all.

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Caitlin Woolley recently earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. She now lives and works in Seattle.

Frederick Pollack – 5 poems

PERIMETER

The spooks have left the facility
just over the line
in Maryland. Russian weeds
(you can tell by their stealth) and
dust from the Caliphate
are occupying the parking lot.
There was never a sign
to remove, except the generic one
of government. Orange steel prongs
still fiercely guard
the driveway. A picnic table warps.
Driving past, one saw them
there or on benches by the aging brick
at lunchtime: knit sweaters,
skirts. Glasses, pills
no doubt, a stoop;
the young among them
quickly taking on
the ordinary tone. But the true self
pocketed the silenced
pistol, slipped the drive
from the clothes of the sated
sleeping target, was the consummating missile;
while another peered
downhill at the willows
that were and remain out of bounds.

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HOROSCOPE

Notations of nearby torture: walls,
a table no more solid
than what he works on, leeks
like bones beneath a skull;
then after Normandy, small plates of cherries.
In ‘46 in Antibes the latter
give way to sea urchins – unprepossessing,
vulgar, self-possessed. They become brown stars.
Attend great vegetable breasts
and feasts of eel and squid
and the owl (hurt, from the second floor
of the castle, his new studio)
that becomes a model. A photo shows
both sets of eyes. But the oval that perches
on armrests and pecks
at frames is watchful. Like Françoise,
who yields at last, moves in. Her features resist.
Satyrs and fauns and centaurs dance for her,
a helix with a tambourine.
He considers what to give the Communists,
what not. A poet-Stalin. Later, a dove.
(One bull that year may be America.)
The sea calls from an excited yellow.
Her face extends like a horse, becomes
an arm, a cantilever brooding
on pyramids, eggs and spheres.
The fauns with their hyphen eyes play double flutes
from when Antibes was called Antipolis.
Their smile is not inane but terrifying,
without innocence, duplicity, or harm.
Françoise is pregnant. Before they return
(briefly) to Paris, he paints
on 12/25 a carved grey block on grey,
one end incised with a partial stickman,
another with grapes. 12/26
a more dramatically sculpted block
against cold beige, grapes again
but a loud skull. The next day a skull,
weirdly resembling a flashdrive,
with which Picasso finished my first year.

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SHADE OF THE TREES

He was here as a prisoner
in ’44 – ‘46. On the ship
he had sung and acted up
with the rest – a brief furlough
at the enemy’s expense! – but on the train,
crossing the vast green land
with all its cars, he understood
it would win, and accepted that,
dully, like most things. (Not everything;
his family, actually his whole village,
had a fey streak.) The farmer
he was assigned to, immense
and cold, was a familiar figure, his own role
familiar, and soon the farmer said,
“Well, you know one end of a cow
from the other”; and the soldier,
who had learned that much English,
smiled. Nights were hot,
with innumerable loud enormous
bugs, though there was such a wealth
of pesticide! Blacks lived, walked, ate,
made their amusing savage
music at the edge of what he saw.
They occasioned bad dreams,
till he realized that even he
was higher than they. On free
half-days, he wrote halting letters,
and studied moss and trees. Once
the boss and his silent wife
took him to a kind of religious service
in a tent. But the crying
and shrieking, the strange waved salute,
disturbed him, and he was not forced
to return. After the victory,
he was allowed to roam the town.
The graveyard beyond it
seemed old, though the dates
were recent, compared to those in his village.
And many graves (he had learned
some history) were those of traitors …
Beneath that pale moist sky,
he felt how the dead here were
not past but future dead
and there was scarcely enough room for them.

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NOTHING DOING

The Wandering Jew isn’t Jewish
but Buddhist. (Finds the role easier.)
His version of the myth
of his origins is strange, surprisingly
upbeat, but he long since forgot it.
Works these days as a bouncer
at the club that took over
the ground floor of a famous hotel
on Lonely Street. (That hotel, by the way,
was supposed to be a boarding house,
but no one cooperated, cooking
or cleaning. Now the rooms
are empty and, rumor has it,
the kitchen is sealed, breeding God knows what.)
They call him by some Chinese-sounding
syllable or other. A little guy,
but there’s nothing he doesn’t know
about locks, throws, pressure points,
crippling and killing touches. (Watch him
in action, and you’d think the natural state
of whatever sized human body
is bouncing off walls or screaming in pain.)
He prefers, however, to defuse
tensions with laughter, mind-games, and a kind
of instantaneous seduction. Meanwhile he mans
the rope. The club
is amazingly popular
for that part of town. Fulgurous light,
heavy metal. Some people
crawl up in their last blood, limos drop
off others. If you ask him about the show,
he’ll shrug. It’s magic. An interesting sort of
pole-dance. A strip down to X-rays.
Perhaps it isn’t a show
at all but an opium den. In any case
the spotty light results from the waving
tentacles of an ultimate black hole,
both male and female at the heart of being.
He giggles. If you ask him about his wanderings,
he’ll talk and talk but it’s all bullshit.
To the general effect that they were bullshit.

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CARAFE

The colors are muted jungle.

What’s happening is that broad leaves

overlap. Then their points,

tendrils, hesitantly declare

themselves to be the legs

of wide insects, and there are eyes in there,

looking. So that they aren’t being

absorbed by the forest floor. Perhaps

some muddy transcendence is going on,

and they’re becoming crystal.

So that it’s that rarest

(or so we were taught) of tribal things,

an individual sensibility, an artist

in our sense, who made this. Imagine him

or her, half-mad, sardonic-funny.

Actually, the culture behind him

is what and where? Were influences fused?

The rim of the cup rests more than half

the way down. You contemplate all those shared

germs. And Evans-Pritchard’s description

of how the main wife of a chief rinsed

a visitor’s gourd with her piss. Then you see

and feel that it isn’t baked clay

at all, but plastic. A cleverly faked

antiquity? No, a real product!

So that you can finally put to rest

nostalgia for older worlds and “authenticity.”

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Author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both published by Story Line Press.  A collection of shorter poems, A POVERTY OF WORDS, was published in March 2015 by Prolific Press. Another collection, LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT, to be published by Smokestack Books (UK), 2018. Pollack has appeared inHudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), The Fish Anthology (Ireland),Representations, Magma (UK), Bateau, Fulcrum, Chiron Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, etc.  Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, Diagram, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire  Review, Mudlark,etc.  Recent Web publications in Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Camel Saloon, Kalkion, Gap Toothed Madness, Triggerfish. Adjunct professor creative writing George Washington University. Poetics: neither navelgazing mainstream nor academic pseudo-avant-garde.

KJ Hannah Greenberg – 1 poem

ABETTED BY A NEED TO KNOW

Abetted by a need to know such things, about most topics,
While lecturing on grownup sands, near swimming pools,
He failed to appreciate recently powered “fusion’s” ken.

Thereafter, in some studies, acquired rights seemed pablum.
Standard faculties soon became, in literary fashion, steep
Conditions for tenure overrides, signs of eponymous others.

Accordingly, his brood, those would-be Ivy Leaguers,
Heads barely elevated from their books, fazed issues
Entailing aerobics, swooning at movies, lizard lunches.

Time and success changed those brainy boobs;
Such status seekers’ sere impacted vanishing
Sororities of wives, mothers, lovers, confidents.

Consistent with some points of view, they spewed litotes,
Cached acanthus, adorned starboard walls with hummingbirds,
Encouraged computer meltdowns (omnificent, not fried).

Worthy diversions, more than extended weekends, finally
Culled their delvings into tossed notions, salad dressing,
Cashmere memories. Care’s needed researching Komodos.

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KJ Hannah Greenberg gets high on adverbs, mixes more metaphors than a platypus has pockets, and attempts to matchmake words like “balderdash” and “xylophone.” Occasionally, she also creates mawkish prose. Hannah’s poetry books are: A Grand Sociology Lesson (Lit Fest Press, 2017, Forthcoming), Mothers Ought to Utter Only Niceties (Unbound CONTENT, 2016, Forthcoming), Dancing with Hedgehogs, (Fowlpox Press, 2014), The Little Temple of My Sleeping Bag (Dancing Girl Press, 2014), Citrus-Inspired Ceramics (Aldrich Press, 2013), Intelligence’s Vast Bonfires (Lazarus Media, 2012), Supernal Factors (The Camel Saloon Books on Blog, 2012), Fluid & Crystallized (Fowlpox Press, 2012), and A Bank Robber’s Bad Luck with His Ex-Girlfriend (Unbound CONTENT, 2011).

Geoffrey Heptonstall – Fiction

IMAGINED MYSELF

Imagined myself.

 

Imagined myself floating down the well between the spirals of the staircase. Imagined the stairs led nowhere. At the top of the stairs an open sky. You could fly bird-like from the top. Supposed that nobody ever did. Supposed it was not going to be like that. Destiny was to fall down, down, down. And never reaching the bottom of the well. Imagined life as one long fall.

Imagined opening the door I had not seen before. Where there had been no door before now there was, the one I imagined myself opening so that I might see what was happening the other side of the high, windowless wall I passed every day. Everyone passed it every day. It was there with or without a door. Today there was a door. That was because I imagined the door. Supposed it to be locked. Found it was not. Opened the door.

Wondered about not doing all that. Wondered about the world without an unexpected opening. All I saw was a high wall. The wall was one of four walls that formed a tower. Supposed there was a purpose for it, a purpose nobody knew. All those involved had fallen, one by one, from the open top. They flew like birds into oblivion. Supposed that was the purpose of the tower, to enable fools to fly. Supposed myself wise. Imagined myself coming down to earth. That was wise. That was me.

Supposed myself wise enough to open the door, but not to step inside. My eyes could see. I could look. Supposed I held the door ajar while I looked. Imagined the door closing anyway. Stronger than I was. The force of the door was stronger than my will. And the door would never open again. Not for me. There was no door. It was all my imagination. The reality was the spiral staircase that led nowhere.

Knew that nowhere is everywhere. Wherever you look is neither here nor there. Knew that I was going nowhere. Supposed that to be the end. If there were to be an end. Knew there was no end.

‘You’ll know me,’ said the man. He was nobody. He was caught in the spider’s web. Everywhere there were webs. I did not see the web I had broken when I opened the door. Supposed that the door had never been opened until now. What was now? Now was the man trapped by the spiders.

Thought he was crazy. Sensible people are not caught by spiders. There must have been a spider close by, but I saw nothing.

‘I see to this place. I do it all,’ the man said. Stared into space as he spoke.. ‘This place is mine.’

‘The web isn’t yours,’ I said.

‘Everything’s mine,’ he said. Then there was silence.

Imagined the silence lasted for ever. Supposed it would be broken soon.

It is, of course.

‘Yes, I know you.’ His thin face, very pale with skin like parchment stretched across his skull, was imploring me to respond. Supposed he wanted me to remember. Something important to say to him. He was sure of that. Was not sure what it was. If he could bring to mind my name, or in what way he knew me, then very likely he was going to bring back what it was I had to tell him

Knew what it was. Wanted me to tell me what had happened to his life. ‘What?’ A good question. Ignored of course.

‘This place is mine. Got the papers.’

‘No.’

‘Yes.’

‘Yes and no.’ Compromise on that point, or it would be another never ending.

‘I said yes.’ That was true. ‘Of course it’s true. I said it.’

‘I’m afraid…’ Words faded into a line of dots.

‘No, you’re not afraid,’ he said. ‘Fear’s not the word.’

‘It’s a form of words.’

‘They were the wrong words. Say what you mean.’

Meant to say nothing.

‘I’ve no machinery here. No electricity. And no help. I have to do it all. All of it. Had to learn the reason and logic of my way of life. That’s what all my thinking is about. It gives me faith. Do you know that?’

Supposed him to be a man of science. ‘So you’re a man of science, sir.’

‘Do you take me for a fool, young man?’

‘Not sure.’ Trapped in a spider’s web. Only a fool would be caught like that.

‘Did you mean to insult me?’

‘Not sure.’ Supposed he would ignore me now. Imagined climbing the spiral staircase alone in silence at last.

‘Sticks and stones can break my bones. But spiders can inspire me.’ Supposed him not to be there. Supposed him to be a shadow, an echo. Easy to mistake these things for other things. Considered him not. The world of the spider does not resemble our world.

‘The reason and logic of my way of life? There’s none that I can see.’

Supposed he was right. A life of shadows, echoes.

Dark in the stairwell. Spiders move with the light. Imagined myself a spider, moving slowly towards the light of the open sky. Forgot about the man in the web. Was nobody. Not.

Imagined looking back and seeing nothing. Looked back and saw nothing. Imagination and reality the same thing perhaps? Supposed so. Imagined myself flying. Nothing happened.

Woke in the dark. Imagined myself not waking but dreaming. Dreamed I was waking in the dark. Dreamed I was imagining things. Then there was light in the open sky when I looked upwards. Saw shadows. Heard echoes. Knew I was dreaming I was not dreaming.

Imagined life as one gigantic web. Imagined myself as the spider. Wondered about the webs I could weave. Making my way in the dark of the spiral staircase. Thread my way up the well.

Did not see the web he had broken when he opened the door. Did not imagine there was a web. Looked down. Saw nobody there. Only a hint that the thread was broken.

‘Never dreamed I’d be caught.’  Nobody had spoken. Imagined a voice. Imagined a face to match the voice. Saw light somewhere. Spiders move with the light.

Hear much that they cannot see. The world of the spider not our world. Hardly know us except as the vague, menacing presence that unaccountably breaks their delicate webs and their fragile lives.

‘I know you, don’t I?’

Imagined an old man sitting under trees in the park. A cold night the coldest of the season so far. The air was still in the frost. Leaves on the ground, dry and crisp. Crunched underfoot as I walked away. Dreamed I woke again. Thoughts faded into…

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Geoffrey Heptonstall has contributed fiction and poetry to Cerise Press, International Literary Quarterly, Pacific Review, Sunk Island Review and many others. His recent performance work includes the UNESCO City of Stories project, the Festival of Firsts and a play, Groby, for the London fringe.

Stefanie Bennett – 4 poems

THE SEARCH

The moon drags like an old stylus.
Earth sounds cackle,
A dropped sparkler going out.

Dark guests afford my open door.
Blue stockinged Blake.
Kafka in worn slippers…

How many titles have tumbled down
From the shelves!
How many mirrors are left to sack!

At least I can forget about reflections:
Am no longer
Afraid in looking back.

I put the midnight sun out to cool
By winter’s woodpile:
Call forth Phantasm’s cat…

That’s too tall an order! It sits,
In the peach tree,
Tail flicking –, a silver

Mouse-like poet
Pocketed
Within the teeth; the ghoulish

Consternation… a reminder
How fashion’s
Destined for us.

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THE SOFT DOMESTIC ECONOMY

Via the vending maelstrom
Machine
I get a blighted
Portfolio poultice –,
An art-deco
Electric toothbrush –,
Three cut-out
Culinary
Square meals –,
A jump-to-it
“Confederacy
Of confidence”
Madrigal where
Nothing
Is as it seems – and
The usual
Acidic glare from
My bed-sit
Night nurse who
Has…

Madam Blavatsky’s
Eyes.

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PLUME

I have aged by my crying river where the water-weed
Harbours a sodden almanac.
In this hemisphere the rain
Tendrils red
Upon a parched heart; its shape
Abstruse; a dropped star.

Well recounted is the quest of ‘the other’. Pacing out
Endurance Road, Wolf-Song Woman
Wrote her dust epigraphs
On the boots of fishermen,
The silver-forks of Dame Fortune’s
High-fliers in repose.

From Quebec to Armenia. Bombay. Sydney-town,
She unravelled the dialects…
Strung them lowly
To be mystically
Arpeggioed by diverse
Adepts of the ‘mouth-bow’.

And how rich was the sowing of the Spirit Fruit!
Each yield a hoop
Of plenty. Both
Huntress and gatherer, net offerings
Graced the guilded halls
Of  poeticised pogrom.

How many climbed aboard that bronze saddle
She’ll not say.

What loss flash-flooded the verdant oasis? Self
Destruct? Premonition?

To this day the ‘seven living sins’ continue
Their vigil…

Indigo is the tranquil sleep-walker harnessed
To the crying-river;
Vermilion the sickle moon.
Ash, the oration
In any tone. The fable! Colourless:

Pigment it gone…

🍃

A MYSTIC MOMENT

… Thinking about
The ones
I’ve loved before,
Time passed
Slowly:
Parking
Its polyphonic
Pork-pie
Hat
In a field of
Verboten
Stone.

🍃

Stefanie Bennett has published several poetry books and has poems with Illya’s Honey, The Fib Journal, Eskimo Pie, Dead Snakes, The Mind[less] Muse and others. Of mixed ancestry [Irish/Italian/Paugussett-Shawnee] she was born in Queensland, Australia.

Stefanie’s latest poetry title is ‘The Vanishing’ published by Walleah Press and available from Walleah, Amazon and Fishpond Books.

Gareth Culshaw – 4 poems

A HEART SINGING IN TWO

He was on the hawthorn limb
his heart split like an egg into a frying pan
which sung out a sizzling, whistling,
that mixed with the trees swish and sigh.

He was a bird with broken love.
Double opus, dual weight,
as he waited on the hawthorn limb.

Both songs scrambled into the light
bleeping from his vociferous beak.
Whirling into the air, the unknown
trying to make his song unite with another.

🍃

CANAL WORKER

He walks towards me, his eyes dull.
Dense with passive motion.
Manipulated hooves clap the floor
applauding himself for his duty.

Mole hills of straw, leaden with dung
sit randomly along the path.
Children point, adults frown.
He carries his rear end like some backpack.

Rib cage, barrel shaped, full,
fermenting the meals of man.
Teeth ceramic tile thick, nostrils,
two tunnels that twitch, sigh.

His dozy expression lingers in my
own head. Belts, straps, a guide rope
held in the hand of a young lad.
That leads this beast up and down

the canal path. One kick could break
a man, one stamp crush a foot. But still
the lame animal walks towards me.
His hearse lumber carrying the

weight of death, death of his own kind.

🍃

I SAT ON A WINTERED BENCH

I sat on a wintered bench
dreary canal behind, old bucket water.

Canoeists came and played jostling
with tempestuous rapids from the river
down below.

I sat still on the wintered bench
my mind swimming in the river
before a usual friend came to me.

A continuation of the ones I see everywhere
else. All connected in their colour and mould.
I put my ears away and watched his coughing
throat as if he was trying to gurgle something up.

A drowning swimmer coming for air,
disturbed bubble in a spirit level,
an undecided ball in a thermometer;

Each time I see one his song runs through me
throwing out the winds of winter that are stuck.

🍃

DAFFODIL

I saw the yawn of yellow
fading back into the green.
The bulb that is sat in the earth
sucking her back down.

Her yellow features are turning
sighing into themselves.
She has accepted defeat, slides
back to, limps to her death.

I needed her to shine forever,
give me light for many years to come.
But she allowed the bulb to take her
the yawning yellow, now gasping for air.

🍃

Gareth Culshaw

Sayuri Yamada – Fiction

KING MOBY

Once upon a time, there was a king. He was very well respected and admired and loved by his people. His name was King Moby. He didn’t have a surname, because he was so much respected and so much admired and so much loved. It was logical in his kingdom. There was no one else without a surname there.

He was the only one.

He was slender and well-toned and looked youthful all the time.

He was busy every day.

He woke up, or rather his manservant woke him up, at six o’clock in the morning, rain or shine, in summer or in winter. It was always at six o’clock sharp.

His four-poster bed was made of dark-red mahogany. The pole on the right by his head was curved as a snake curled around it from the bottom to the top. The pole on the left by his head had ivy around it from the bottom to the top. The pole on the right by his legs was curved as a rope curled around it from the bottom to the top. The pole on the left by his legs had an eel around it from the bottom to the top. In the centre of the headboard, his initial M was carved and painted with gold powder.

When he first opened his eyes, he yawned once and stretched his arms twice. Then he flipped the golden bedspread down to his waist, revealing his yellow silk pyjama top. He then sat up and yawned once and stretched his arms twice again.

His three butlers (his manservant who had woken him up had something else to do somewhere else after that) brought silver trays with silver snakes around the edges and his initial M in the middle. They were loaded with his breakfast: scrambled eggs, poached eggs, soft-boiled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, fried eggs, sausages, pancakes, toast, strawberries, orange juice, coffee, tea, porridge, kippers, croissants, butter, oranges, grapefruit, apple jam, grapefruit marmalade, cornflakes, milk, cream, omelette, margarita, martini, bloody mary, and pina colada. The king didn’t usually eat everything. But he wanted a variety of choices and he could have it, because he was the king.

Before he started eating, one of the butlers put a snow-white linen bib with M embroidered all over in the same colour, around his neck, just in case he dropped something on his silk pyjamas.

When he had finished breakfast, his barber came to shave his face and trim his hair, which was not really necessary, because his barber was there the day before as well.

Then another manservant came to clean his teeth with a white water pitcher with M, a white wash basin with a small M all over, a bamboo toothbrush (the king didn’t like electric ones or plastic ones) with M on the back of the head, whitening toothpaste with M, and two pink Egyptian cotton hand towels with a small M all over. The manservant asked the king if he would open his mouth if he didn’t mind. The king didn’t mind, so he opened his mouth. The manservant brushed his upper left teeth ten times, brushed his upper front teeth ten times, brushed his upper right teeth ten times, then brushed his lower right teeth ten times, (he used to move to his lower left teeth, but one day the king said it was quicker to move to the lower left teeth from his upper left teeth than to his lower right teeth, and the manservant and others standing by were very much impressed by the king’s efficiency), then brushed his lower front teeth, and then his lower left teeth. The manservant politely asked the king if he would like to spit the water into the white basin. The king did with enthusiasm. It sometimes splashed on to one of the pink Egyptian cotton hand towels under the basin. Then the manservant wiped around the king’s mouth with the other pink Egyptian cotton hand towel.

Now it was time for him to get out of his mahogany four-poster bed. And time for his bath.

A copper bathtub with two ring handles on each side and with M on the front, back, and both sides, which had been brought by two manservants and filled with hot water by another two menservants from jugs, was a little way away from the bed. White steam was rising from the hot water. The windows were blurred with condensation. The king stood still by his four-poster bed. Two manservants approached him and started undressing him. He sometimes lifted his right leg or left leg or right arm or left arm, according to which clothes were being removed. He was an easy person to be undressed. His father, the late king, was grumpy and complained that the manservant pinched his shoulder or scratched his back or was undressing him too slowly. Now the king was stark naked and walked to the copper bath tub with white steam rising and got in. He didn’t hide his nakedness from his menservants, because he had been taking a bath surrounded by people since he was a baby. It was natural thing to do for him.

Another two manservants came with light-green sea-sponges, cakes of yellow soap, nail brushes, shampoo, and conditioner, which all had M engraved on them.

When he was squeaky clean all over his body, he stood in the bath tub with a little cooler water around his thighs. Another two manservants dried him with dark-blue bath towels with a small M all over.

It was time to appear to the public.

He was dressed as a king, a gold crown with lots of precious stones, a red silk cape with fringes of white leopard fur, white-golden jacket and trousers, and a red wide sash. Then his facial expression changed from a nondescript one to a king’s: dignity, authority, sincere, respectable. He then walked out of the bedroom to the balcony that looked down to the town square, followed by an entourage of ten people.

The kingdom’s people had been in the square, patiently waiting. The big square was full of people, but it was rather quiet. They knew they should behave before the king’s appearance, even small children didn’t run around, even babies didn’t wail. Their pink faces were looking up at the grey stone balcony, draped with the kingdom’s flag, a big golden M in the centre of a black background. The air above their heads was thick with anticipation, hope, and joy. They loved their king. They respected their king. They admired their king. And their king was so kind that he appeared to them twice a day, seven days a week, thirty days a month, and three-hundred-and-sixty-five days a year.

The sky was blue today. It was raining heavily yesterday, but their king came to see his people, who went there to see their king.
Finally the double doors at the back of the balcony opened. The king walked through, followed by the entourage.

The people cheered.

The king waved to the right. The people cheered.

The king waved to the left. The people cheered.

The king waved to the front. The people cheered.

The king smiled to the left, the right, and the front. The people smiled.

He had a strong sense of thoroughness.

When the king retreated behind the doors, the people started disperse to go to work, happy, encouraged, inspired, determined to work hard.

With the morning job done, the king changed, or rather his manservants changed, his formal attire to a more informal one: a long red coat over a white shirt with fluffy frills around the neck and the wrists and black trousers.

He then lounged on a silver velvet settee. Four menservants came, pushing a trolley loaded with various bottles of alcohol and varieties of tobacco.
His first choice this morning was a filter-less cigarette from a golden cigarette case. As soon as he put it into his mouth a manservant lighted it with a black lighter with his initial M embossed in the centre. The king inhaled deeply into his lungs. It was so delicious and relaxing after the hard work. He exhaled with a deep sigh and closed his eyes to relish the nicotine dashing around in his lungs.

His manservants, standing around the room in case the king wanted an extra service, sighed as well, only discreetly. They were so devoted to the king that they could feel as the king felt.

His second pick was a full glass of straight bourbon. The amber liquid rippled in his mouth before being swallowed. The fire surged down from his gullet to his stomach. How he loved this sensation.

His third option was a fat cigar.

His fourth selection was a big glass of cognac.

His fifth was a pipe.

His sixth and last one was a huge glass of vodka.

Then he got a little sleepy and yawned hugely. He didn’t have to cover his mouth in private. He walked to his bedroom, in which his four-poster bed had been made already. He climbed in it and dozed without changing his clothes. He was the king so that he had the right to sleep in whatever clothes he was in.

His manservants went away and his maids came. Their uniform was in the same colour as his manservants’: black and white, only they had long skirts instead of trousers.

At exactly twelve o’clock, one of the maids approached the bed and whispered to the king, ‘It’s time for lunch, your majesty.’

He opened his eyes, feeling hungry.

An array of maids came in, pushing trolleys with food and drinks, followed by five musicians.

He ate and drank in bed, while soft music was played.

After the lunch, he went to his office to sign some papers with a golden eagle quill.

Then he walked back to his bedroom, which was all cleaned, and had a quick nap before the afternoon public appearance.

When he woke, he changed from the wrinkled clothes to the formal ones for the people in the square.

It was the same as the one in the morning: the king waved, the people cheered, the king smiled, the people smiled.

Today’s job was done at last. The king retired to his bedroom to sleep off the fatigue.

After dinner also taken, he smoked opium. It was the most relaxing time. He could forget what hard work he had to do every day. Then he slept.
Of course, he sometimes travelled to the countryside or foreign countries when he was needed, and also he sometimes had guests from the countryside or foreign countries. Then his schedule would be different. But that is a different story.

🍃

The small room next to King Moby’s bedroom had a plant, which was in a big bowl of transparent liquid. The thin floating stems `had flowers, which were all different shapes and sizes. The roots underneath had things on the tips as well.

The room was always dim with only two candles lit, day and night. Dark-grey drapery hung all over the walls, no windows.

The room attendant had a dark-grey cloak on. The king’s initial M was embroidered on the back in the same colour, so that it was very hard to distinguish it.

It was not a secret thing going on in the room, although it appeared so. It was just a tradition to be dim and in dark grey.

In the next room, the king was having his breakfast. He ate fried eggs.
In the dim small room, one of the flowers shaped like a stomach started working as if an invisible hand were squeezing it on and off. The flower worked a little harder. Then it worked harder. Another flower with the shape of liver started working as well. The king must have drunk some alcohol. The two flowers worked harder and started emitting dark-grey liquid into the transparent thing, which was getting darker minute my minute.

The room attendant, whose face was covered by the cloak hood, scooped the darker liquid with a big metal slotted spoon over and over again until it was all clear. The dark-grey sticky thing from the bowl was piled in a metal bucket on the floor. It smelt. It smelt bad like something rotten and old and spoilt, but the room attendant was long used to it.

While the king’s teeth and body were being cleaned, the room attendant relaxed a little. A little, because nobody knew if the king would suddenly decide to consume a piece of apple pie or a glass of whiskey in the bathtub. The attendant sat on a wooden chair by the flower bowl and leaned backwards. His eyes were half closed, half open. He was half asleep, half watching the bowl. Any moment the dark-grey thing started coming out, he would wake up fully and scoop it out.

When the cheers from the people in the square had subsided, he sat upright, holding the metal spoon in his hand.

The lung-shaped and liver-shaped flowers started working. The king must have been smoking and drinking. The lung flower puffed out dark-grey smoke-like jelly-like thing. The liver flower oozed dark-grey thing. He scooped it out with the spoon and dumped it into the bucket. Small blobs of goo splashed towards his long cloak. He leapt backwards a little. It narrowly missed his clothes and landed on the metal floor. He moved the bucket by his legs and started scooping the dark-grey thing. The goo on the floor would be gathered up and put into the bucket later. He wouldn’t step on it at any rate, because his shoes were not made of metal. He didn’t want to damage them.

At twelve o’clock, the afternoon room attendant came and he left. The new attendant looked the same in a dark-grey cloak with the hood covering her face. It was just she was a little shorter.

What she did was the same as what he did in the morning: scooping the dark-grey thing from the bowl with the metal slotted spoon and put it into the metal bucket, which was big enough to hold everything for a day. But there was another one by the back wall just in case.

🍃

King Moby was slender and well-toned and looked youthful all the time.

🍃

Sayuri Yamada was born in Japan and came to England in 2003 after searching for a country to live permanently in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and French Polynesia for ten years. She finished studying Creative and Critical Writing in a postgraduate course at the University of Winchester in September, 2011. Her stories have been published in twenty-seven magazines both in the UK and the US. One of them, ‘Killing Me Softly’, is published at Gray Sparrow, which won an award for the Best New Literary Journal of the Year from the Council of Editors of Learned Journal. Another one, ‘A Fat Mermaid’, is published at First Edition, sold at W.H. Smith.