Moonshine and Matches Syncopated in smooth M-o-l-a-s-s-e-s Rhythms; a smoulder, a crack, A flicker that dances with the Intensity of evergreen sap on A rainy, September Sunday. Which is not at all blazing But still it somehow roars with Turpentine toxicity, tickling The pine-addled fancy of Lazy haze and cabin dreams.
Consumed in stillness, Hidden beneath a Kindled soul.
An Open Letter To Mr Charles Dickens, Because He Let Me Down by Linda Cosgriff
It was the best of first lines, it was the worst of first lines.
It started well but, Chuck, it was a paragraph in before
you had your first period. What the Dickens were you thinking?
[Don’t roll your eyes, Reader; it had to be said, and now it’s out of the way.]
Charlie, Charlie, Charlie: stop dragging it out.
You name the year so many times, I think you may have lost your head a little.
But wait! A Mysterious Stranger; A Smelly Coach; A Misty Night.
A page-and-a-half of a minor character’s censure of his boss – miles away,
I might add, from anyone with the capacity to give him the kicking
he so clearly deserves. Boz, it’s bleak.
We reach the hotel. Swell. Things look up: A Gorgeous Girl joins the cast
(blonde, naturally), but is immediately rendered insensible.
Reprehensible, Charles. This reader wants to like her
but she’s quickly catatonic and it’s clear her liaison with the Stranger
is strictly platonic.
I’m sorry: our mutual friend has now been formally introduced as Mr Lorry. I want no truck with him. He’s brown; he’s dull;
he has no business being in one of your novels. Habitually brilliant,
you have mislaid your talent here. You appear to have chuzzled
your wits, Chip. I’m smarting.
And so to Chapter Five: French proles guzzle wine-stroke-mud from the gutter.
No good will come of it (the aforementioned and mentioned and mentioned
Year refers). The writing is definitely on the wall; the peasants whine for blood.
It’s seedy, CD; a tale not too pretty and – so far – not at all witty.
There’s no mystery, you see, except for one: why did you write it?
Here’s a curiosity: Charles Darnay has your name and initials.
You could have shopped around a bit. If he’s anything like you,
however, I bet he gets the girl.
And so it’s hard times for Sydney Second-Best Carton;
frustration for this reader: I wanted a twist. He should have boxed clever.
Chaz, I picked up your book with great expectations
but you left me with a dreadful impression.
Perhaps I’ll watch the film instead.
It would be a far, far better thing to do.
He snared in words whole decades of a land, The manners, morals, customs of a time; His foot-worn city paved with contraband, Its cunning commerce and its ways of crime; Each book contained a vision caught with ease, A tiny world-scape in a rounded glass Replete with London fog and weathered trees, The shadows furtive in its lights of gas. Just weigh each hefty volume in your palm And feel the world within; old London Town In festive snow, with Ebenezer’s dreams; Or bloody Paris in its time of harm; The pits of joyless toil, unloved, unknown; The hulks of sorrow looming down the Thames.
‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’, published by Fly on The Wall Poetry, is a stunning and unique collection of poems about mental illness.
book is divided into sections, the idea being that the sections grow
with positivity, and that by the end of the book, you will be able to
see the light at the end of the tunnel. The sections are untitled,
and the reader is invited to name them.
I wasn’t sure how I would react to this collection. How would it make me feel? Would I enjoy it reading it? Mental illness can be a difficult subject, and as this collection shows, it affects us all in different ways. The poems cover a wide range of topics including; depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide.
If I had read the poems individually, and at different times, the collection may not have had such an impact on me. But brought together and presented this way, I found the anthology powerful, inspirational and at times quite emotional. I can guarantee that there will be at least one poem included in this collection which every single reader can relate to.
a strong and beautiful book. Thoughtfully and courageously edited by
Isabelle Kenyon. The more I read, the more I appreciated the poets
who contributed their words, emotions and bravery.
opening poem ‘Battle’ by Bethany Gordon, highlights the unwanted
struggle, and is a poignant introduction for this collection ‘Mental
illness / is a battle I never agreed to fight.’
There are so many outstanding poems, to mention only a few seems to do an injustice to the others which I can’t fit into a single review. I enjoyed the strong imagery which runs throughout the anthology, and I found Angela Topping’s poem ‘Deferment’, about bereavement and personal belongings, particularly effective. ‘Grief is a cruel handbag – / its catch snaps shut like jaws.’ The poem makes us question how we deal with grief, and if we opened that bag what we might find. ‘…It cannot be thrown away. / Best hide it in the bottom of the wardrobe / an unexploded bomb.’
Rot’ by Andrew Barnes describes the onset and ongoing fight with
depression. ‘She throws her arm around my shoulder, / pins me down
until action weeps from me, / creeps back in the morning to stop me
rising. // Depression is a friendly face, / she takes her time with
me, / lets me shuffle on.’
the Shelf’ by Jacqueline Pemberton is about escaping unhealthy
thoughts and relationships. Emphasising finding inner courage and
strength. ‘And I knew he’d got it wrong, / He was the damaged
one / Made small with spite, / He wasn’t worth the fight.’
Some of these poems, by their very nature and subject, are a challenging read. However, you will also find some that they are inspirational, courageous and many have important messages about mental illness and societies’ reaction to it.
Square with White ‘F’ in the Middle’ by Jade Moore is one of my
favourites from this collection and details the impact and addiction
to social media. The language used is direct and unapologetic,
powerful and effective. The poem cleverly recognises our love hate
relationship with social media, our desire to belong and our fear of
failure. ‘There’s a button with the whole world on its face /
and I click it and wonder if I’ve stopped the human race.’
glad I read this collection. It was thought-provoking and inspiring.
Proceeds from the sale of ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’ go to UK Mental Health Charity Mind.
In deep sleep
a sudden rush
of golden light
in one fell swoop
I was in
Go in one
of body’s husk
So much got lost
your laughter on the phone
your sturdy feet
on the path around the lake
the mischief in your eyes
to the last millennium
between the wars
you were a laughing girl
"WHERE IS SHE?"
I ask the persimmon tree You've harvested all
my fruit What else
do you want?
I ask the dead leaves
on the garden path
"Where did she go?" Listen
under your feet dry
as bones long past
fall colors empty vessels
for the wind
I ask the mountain
"Where is my mother?" Here, says the rock Here, says the scrub oak
Here, says the cloud
shrouding the peak
with one fell swoop
Wake up you fool
She's right behind you
pulling your wings down
lifting your head to the sky
Your mother is
In the dream I see
a bloody show?
like the two you had
You are a lake
I'm trying to
The path goes boggy
the reeds threaten
to pull me in
You are breaking up
into pieces of a child's
a child's lost
loop or perhaps
you are the sap of
Our mother tree
Our body of blood
Our body of water
Our body of laughter
Our body of roots
I could tell you
the Women's March
when in fell swoops
in loops of language
Ruth Lowinsky is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Berkeley,
CA, and the Poetry and Fiction Editor of Psychological
Perspectives, which is published by the Los Angeles Jung
“Madelyn Dunham, Passing On” won first prize in the Obama
Millennium Contest. She has also won the Blue Light Poetry Chapbook
Contest. Her work has been widely published and has appeared, or is
forthcoming in Argestes, Backwards City Review, Barely South Review,
Blue Lake Review, Bogg, Cadillac Cicatrix, California Quarterly, The
Cape Rock, Caveat Lector, The Chaffin Journal, Circle Show, Compass
Rose, Comstock Review, Crack the Spine, Darkling, decomP, Diverse
Voices Quarterly, Dogwood Review, Drunk Monkeys, Earth’s Daughters,
Eclipse, ellipsis…literature and art, Emprise Review, Euphony,
Evening Street Review, Fourth River, Freshwater, Front Porch, G.W.
Review, Ginosko, Ibbetson Street Press, Into the Teeth of the Wind,
Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, Juked, Left Curve, Lindenwood
Review, Mantis, Meridian Anthology Of Contemporary Poetry, Minetta
Review, Monkeybicycle, Nassau Review, Origins Journal, The Penmen
Review, The Pinch, Poem, Prick of the Spindle, poetrymagazine.com,
Quiddity, Qwerty, Rattle, Reed Magazine, Runes, Sanskrit, Schuylkill
Valley Journal Of The Arts, Serving House Journal, Shark Reef, Ship
of Fools, Sierra Nevada Review, SLAB, Sliver of Stone, Soundings
East, South Dakota Review, Southern Humanities Review, The Spoon
River Poetry Review, Stand, Stickman Review, The Texas Review,
Tiger’s Eye Journal, Tightrope, Verdad, Visions International,
Weber Studies, Westview, Whistling Shade, West Trestle Review, Wild
Violet, Willow Review, and in the anthologies Child of My Child,
When the Muse Calls, and The Book of Now. Her fourth
poetry collection is called The Faust Woman Poems.
A blue-winged thought navigated round my fingertip, then cast its anchor at the foot of the lethargic quill that in my hand had stood for hours so transfixed.
The ink that in stagnant wells had congealed began to ripple with Osirian zeal irrigating with words my yawning sheets.
With aquamarine, azure, and Egyptian blue my consonants and vowels were imbued, genetic hues.
I’ve never wanted to be a politician, a social worker, or a shrink, a saviour in the miraculous sense, a superwoman, a clairvoyant, or Merlin. But my students keep on asking me: How can we make the future a better thing? So with my propensity to philosophize, I answer: start with foetuses, how they are impregnated, because the semen of love is the foundation of a healthy citizen. Annul social contracts that have infested marriages, then build a mother who is devoid of prejudice. She does not only suckle babies white fluids. Her every pore exudes her beliefs and feelings, to be imbibed by her infants.
Make religion an affair of the heart, the inner light within. Erase it from documents. Stop segregating school-pupils each according to inherited creeds, to abolish sectarianism.
When hunger and pestilence stalk continents, why spend trillions on ships to navigate galaxies! Why enthuse the public with enmities against potential adversaries, the Aliens, as if civil and international wars are not enough distraction.
They claim they have abolished racism, discrimination at work, of gender, of skin. I suggest they start with the family and establishments, the nuclei of favouritism.
Prune and preen your media missions, your visual images, the sounds which kill from a distance, make it a tool of pacification and not of perennial division.
Your steps recede into the uncharted leas, I hearken to the retreating echoes in a state of disbelief. How dare you leave? The man who looked death in the eye has disappeared.
You thought I use hyperbole in speech but wait till you view with the second sight granted to the deceased my grief water every vein that steaks your grave until new blood seeps into your dissolving heart, my tears.
Wait till you see your eyes bloom into fleur-de-lis to float on the surface of every word I out-breathe, endowing the shields of my words with heraldic miens.
Apart from Sir Sean Connery, the sage and the antiquarian Nicholas Cage what would be your perfect catch? The Roger Moore of The Persuaders, or the Kevin Costner of Dances With Wolves? A Scottish, Sinclairean, or wolf-dancing match!
Apart from Auden’s Funeral Blues and the bards’ of the Yorkshire moors, with what type of verse do you converse? With Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, or with Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol ? The hyperbolic, stoical, or penitent strain!
Apart from the wall-breaking Pink Floyd’s and the sensuous sinuousness of Depeche Modem to what type of music are you attuned? To the Arthurian leitmotifs of erudite Era, or the expansive vistas of Massive Attack? A psychedelic, erotic, or transfiguring bent!
Dr. Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Since 1996, she has been lecturing in Syria. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Grey Sparrow Journal, the Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Blotter, Mad Swirl, Leaves of Ink, Down in the Dirt, WestWard Quarterly, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Crossways 4, A New Ulster, The Moon Magazine, the Mojave River Review, The Opiate, Always Dodging the Rain, Coldnoon, and Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine.
(The cover photo shows one of Kevin Morris’s clocks with him in the background, close to a window).
The Writer’s Pen
You accuse me of hiding in my ivory tower. I answer that I have no power, Other than my pen Which, when It scratches, Sometimes catches The truth of the matter,
That is the opening of the title poem and it is a perfect introduction to the collection. Kevin casts a sharp eye at the modern world while drawing heavily on the rhyming style of previous centuries; that opening poem continues,
The wise well Know that those who go Down that path Oft produce great art.
When I say that Kevin casts a sharp eye over the world in which we live, mine and Kevin’s paths crossed a long time ago. We were students at Swansea University at the same time. I was sighted and he was, and still is, blind. I remember seeing him and his guide dog at the Junior Common Room bar, though never thought to go speak to him … and now here we are and I too have lost my sight, so it is a delight to be a blind person reviewing a blind person’s poetry, utilising our sharp eyes!
In the wood’s dark heart, The breeze Whispers in the trees Words that I cannot comprehend. May God send Me peace And this breeze Never cease.
Kevin’s poems, frequently a single stanza or two, hark back to the days when poets celebrated the countryside and revelled in the sights, sounds and scents of the great outdoors. Blind people do not, contrary to many people’s assumptions, have superpower senses; but we learn to pay more attention to the ones we encounter or whose absence we notice. The poem, Wisteria, exemplifies this for me:
Wandering around Hampton Court In late May, a thought, Prompted by Wisteria hanging on a wall. A few purple flowers, their scent Already spent And ready to fall, Did to me call.
There are myriad examples of how the world sounds, from a bird singing in a tree (Autumn Bird) the sounds of clocks (The Hands Are Almost at Half-Past, and This Ticking Clock Calms), all of which are one after another, ending with the hum of a fridge.
The fridge’s hum And the clock’s tick tock For the most part run Unnoticed, as background Sound Until they One day Stop.
This collection of succinct poems can metaphorically lift the blindfold from a reader’s eyes and point out the things that maybe had stopped being noticed because of the domineering sense of sight. It is an accessible and delightful read.
i remember when i told my mother i was molested as a child
she started to cry
it would be years until i realized she was crying because it happened to her as well, as a child
that made me wonder if deep down she wanted the cycle to continue
i never bought this bullshit that parents want their children to have better lives than them
it goes against every fibre of human psychology i have ever learned
i’m not asking for a medal for getting into my forties and not having any children
i’m simply saying perhaps i should get a better tax credit for ending a cycle of abuse
if the woman would have been white
and here’s another story of a black woman missing for over twenty years
none of the white television anchors are willing to say the truth
if the woman would have been white, the family would have had some sense of closure by now
the anchors want you to believe hope still exists
no wonder i stopped watching the evening news
a few miles downstream
i once went swimming at midnight in the river
i was alone and i desperately wanted to die
just my luck, i was able to get a few miles downstream just by floating
i went under and stopped holding my breath
apparently, the journey is not over yet
although, i do help clean the river each year
i’ll always blame the litter for not allowing me to go deeper and finish this life off
the last sucker on this planet
my best friend blames me for her cancer
i cry at night sometimes when i think how unable i am to help
but then again
i refuse to be the last sucker on this planet
the days of needing to dance naked on the freeway are drawing to a close
even the losers get to have a damn convention
happiness in slavery
it always catches me off guard when i see a beautiful black woman with a white guy wearing a confederate flag t-shirt
i’m guessing two more clueless souls that bought the lies about state’s rights
or perhaps they believe they found happiness in slavery
or considering the size difference between the two
i’m guessing the racist likes being dominated by the nubian queen
J.J. Campbell (1976 – ?) is currently trapped in suburbia, plotting his revenge. He’s been widely published over the years, most recently at Record Magazine, The Dope Fiend Daily, Horror Sleaze Trash, Synchronized Chaos, and Chiron Review. His most recent chapbook, the taste of blood on christmas morning, was published by Analog Submission Press. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (http://evildelights.blogspot.com)
The poet laureate didn’t wear a helmet
though she knew she should
but she had to admit: she was vain
She liked the way her long grey-blonde curls
flew out behind her
and she liked the way it felt,
though she recognized that as trite
While she was distracted
by words cascading in her head
she crashed into a garbage truck
flew over the handlebars
and her delicate skull impacted
the unyielding steel
She went unconscious
woke up to see a man hovering above her
concern on his handsome face
This must be the man of my dreams, she thought
and this time, wasn’t in good enough shape
to recognize it as a cliché
Metaphors broke apart
and senselessly recombined
The swinging elegance of her brain
devolved into literary machinery
She’d always taken the road less travelled and had always profited from it but now dazed and confused in a hospital bed surrounded by local admirers middle-aged women whose faces seemed distorted almost alien she wished she had worn a helmet
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over fourteen-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for numerous prizes, and was awarded the 2017 Booranga Writers’ Centre (Australia) Prize for Fiction. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver, Colorado, USA.