Let’s start with how it is.
The canal’s too still. You can’t describe the sky
because your eyes won’t lift.
By the air’s bitterness you guess
it’s clear with a sharpened moon.
Your eyes ache. You have no gentleness towards yourself.
You wander the cottage of ghosts and shadows
with a posthumous numbness.
The windchimes, hollow and restless,
catch the breeze and are shrill.
Neither whole nor young, this sickness
has broken your will.
This pain will be marked in the tissues:
a notch, a scar, a twist in the grain
the body remembers. Now rain’s fierce.
The cat’s howling: wet and pitiful.
You promise if you shift
your aching limbs to let him in – feed him, dry him –
you will put pen to page.
So here’s a note to be found in a box in years:
If only to do, to see, to say –
whatever joy I gathered from today
I weathered this night in November
and if you’re reading this, I found the courage.
I caught myself.
(Kitty Donnelly is a nurse and a poet. Her poems have been published in Acumen, The American Journal of Poetry, The Fenland Reed, The Dawntreader, Mslexia and has work due out in Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Granta amonst other publications. kittydonnellypoet.com )
The Thought not taken
Two thoughts emerged on a darkened place,
And sorry I could not think both,
For one was hidden by indecision,
The other, by lack of faith.
And as I stood stalled a while,
Wondering which best to please,
Forebode to bare, to choose I dare,
For this, I’m not at ease,
Then rapt the thought of less despair,
While staring up at vacant air,
Seeking out Divine direction,
Still silence protrudes without deflection.
The thought slipped and slid around my floor,
Teasing me to chase it more,
Laying low, like a prowling cat,
Shadowed, where he often sat.
But even thoughts on a darkened day,
Can glimpse the trodden light,
Brightened with a trim of hope,
A choice we can incite.
There are always two thoughts and often more-
Resting by a darkened door,
Some thumping in the dead of night,
Or early morning sunrise bright,
Offering you some seeds to sow,
Planting thoughts for you to grow,
For the thoughts you see or wish to keep,
Are the ones you grow for you to reap.
I met Despair on a darkened day
I met Despair; again, on a darkened day,
as I stood, irritating my curious thoughts,
alone, turning feelings, contemplating.
Deep thinking in the shallows,
digging up memories, suffocating.
I watched Despair, slinking into my sliding thoughts,
with practised ease,
half invited by circumstance half by opportunity,
and seeing me juggling my thoughts of anguish,
he carefully slinked some more, with ease,
cold, yet ever so welcoming, placing his shadow next to mine,
merging, sub-merging, with cautious courtesy, he waited,
as he waited before.
I felt Despair, calmly settling, comfortably resting,
and not wishing to provoke his calmness,
though disconcerted, I asked if I could perhaps,
pose a curious question for his contemplation?
Despair, giving a curious glance, though hesitant,
whispered to me an invitation to draw his views,
“Share with me your curious thoughts,
for I am curious of your question,
and will answer if I may, with inquisitive resolve.”
With rhetorical resignation, I asked;
“I am seeking release from pain and sorrow,
is death the escape from my tomorrow”?
I have answered that question, many times, before,
though never been asked, least, in an inquisitive way,
but I shall answer your question as you asked,
Death has many avenues, lined with pain filled sorrows,
it is not an escape, though, it will take away your tomorrow,
and all your tomorrows thereafter, it will not take you, just your breath,
For you will walk and laugh in harboured thoughts,
memories, carried heavy by those you loved,
and those who love you still,
you will breathe in the winters wind,
or gentle summers breeze,
you will be seen in the walk of others, like ghostly glimpses,
your last moments will forever haunt,
always carried, lived and relived,
and questions will keep dissolving into numbness,
disintegrating, echoing unanswered,
you will live in the tears of those carrying your pain,
and some may even contemplate their own curious thoughts.
Alas, death is a curious escape,
though not to freedom,
to be paid by many.
(Joe Lynch is poet hindered and enhanced by being Dyslexic. Joe lives and works in Belfast, N Ireland and started submitting his work summer 2018.)
There's No Place Like Home
Words buried in earth
as footings to support
those lost to the past.
I wince at the flat sound and
almost feel his slap myself.
Abandoning is what I do
feel, huddled alone. After.
The others involved refuse
to remember, so the incident
escapes a little more
with every turn around
the sun and if its reality fades
away then what can be
made of the pain
jagged edge a
in the abscence
(Mike L. Nichols is a graduate of Idaho State University and a recipient of the Ford Swetnam Poetry Prize. He lives and writes in Eastern Idaho. Look for his poetry in Scryptic Magazine, Ink&Nebula, Rat’s Ass Review, Plainsongs Magazine, and elsewhere. Find more at mikenicholsauthor.com)
Now, that I’ve seen eight,
nine, I’m sure, will not be as fine
as they write in those tales.
Tales are just tales, I know,
So, they talk to me, I listen,
and nod, then I do what I want.
I’ve seen when I wait long enough
their talks do end and they leave.
Sometimes I look at them, look not listen,
and think of all I’ll do after the talk ends.
Then I wait, and wait some more, and they leave.
I am made to sit in a corner, punished, grounded.
So I wait, and wait, and they leave.
Then I play, alone, in my corner, book in my hand.
I’m safe, punished, and alone, while
they think I’m reading as ordered.
It's difficult to be what you are destined to be,
more difficult to know what you are destined to be,
and then to live, not reaching there, ever.
Nothing comes for free.
The world takes the fee of life.
Sometimes it simply condemns you to live your death
as you know you live, but not your destiny.
No David for that Goliath, the world
not for long, not for ever.
You live compromises, one after the other.
You give some and then, some more.
My sons, they tell me
that a part of my destiny will be fulfilled through them.
I smile and mask my fear.
Just think of the day they know their father, the midget,
the coward, and then, hate him
for not being
what he was destined to be.
(Rajnish Mishra is a poet, writer, translator and blogger born and brought up in Varanasi, India and now in exile from his city. His work originates at the point of intersection between his psyche and his city. He edits PPP Ezine.)
The New Room.
One week on and my boxes
of belongings have been unpacked -
a midnight blue butterfly knife,
a stack of novels,
a handful of vinyls,
a cactus that waits
for water on the windowsill,
some clothes that already need washing
and a photo of my parents
on their wedding
wondrously staring towards the horizon -
yet to be ground down by life and me.
I’m not quite sure if it’s depressing
or invigorating that my life can
be packed away,
or emptied in under five minutes?
But knowing that I’m taking
the time to ponder it
means that one way or another
I must have settled into
this new room now.
(Gwil James Thomas is a novelist, poet and inept musician originally from Bristol, England. He is currently putting together a split poetry chapbook with the poet John D Robinson. He resides in Northern Spain and is part English, part Welsh and part wolf.)
There is bliss
There is bliss in beauty,
in observing the sublime;
bliss in conceding to
the ravages of time.
There is bliss in believing,
in being without doubt;
there is bliss in yielding to
life’s defeats and routs;
There is bliss in seeing
a grandchild smile,
bliss in being oblivious
to nastiness and bile.
There is bliss in repentance,
in penance and peace.
There is bliss in accepting
this is all there is.
(Jeremy Gadd has published over 250 poems in newspapers, periodicals and literary magazines in Australia, the USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Belgium, Germany and India.)
Where I'm From....
I am from nowhere or everywhere.
A seedling sprouting from the earth, pulled towards the sun,
not knowing what I will become.
I am life and death, the transitions from one thing to the next.
Beauty and darkness, fragility and strength,
the softness hidden beneath the steel.
I am me...
still searching for who I am;
not knowing where I am going or who I am meant to be.
I am me for all or none to see.
( Carolyn Licht, PhD, is NY Psychologist in private practice, with specialties in addiction, trauma, anxiety and mood disorders, HIV, and chronic pain. As a prior professional ballet dancer, she emphasizes the mind-body-spirit connection and uses a strength-based therapeutic approach integrating DBT, mindfulness-based interventions, psychodrama, and other “skills-in action” methods.)
What Will Remain
What will remain of me
today or the next coming year,
will it be worth a bird’s feather
The only grief in my bloodroot
is the sad song of nightingales
like a wedding with a mother in a picture frame
In this life I could live
foolishly and lost in problems
with a place in darkness to weep till I die
The tattooist of previous wars
asked me about my homeland
I told him that I was sold to the land of happiness
With a friend who broke my trust,
a woman who died before loving me,
And parents who denied my existence
What will remain of me, not
an expensive pen, but an
unreadable diary of the depths of my soul
Tears of The Sad Stars
The other day;
I wore my
and I poured
As I take
my first sip,
I saw a giant
as if nothing
but a flying
who died in the
my cup was
not filled with
it was filled
(Ahmad Al-Khatat. He was born in Baghdad on May 8th. From Iraq, he came to Canada at the age of 10, the same age when he wrote my very first poem back in the year 2000. He also has been published in several press publications and anthologies all over the world. And he currently studies Political Sciences, at the Concordia University in Montreal. He recently have published his two chapbooks “The Bleeding Heart Poet” and “Love On The War’s Frontline”. With Alien Buddha Press. It is available for sale on Amazon. Most of his new and old poems are also available on his official page Bleeding Heart Poet Copyright on Facebook.)
PTSD # 7
Those are cluster
bombs in the street
I can’t forget the sound
and the screams
and racing down the stairs
and out onto the lawn
I find my childhood
sitting there in shock
reaching for his legs
that aren’t there
and his dying
body grabs me
by the throat
begs me not to
but I can hear
all the other screams
through the fog
and leave him to die
the ultimate betrayal,
but I have to find
all the others.
During my second stint
in the madhouse
I was in a semi-private room
at the hospital
on the sixth floor of
Health Sciences North
with the cardiac ward just
and every evening
the incoming helicopters would shake
the windows as they landed on
the roof above
and a code blue
would go over the hospital
so that I knew someone was dying
right there on the slab
less than thirty feet
while the nurses snowed my roommate
and waited for me
to get better or
charting bowel movements
and fixations as they do
when the sane are still looking
to separate themselves
from the pack.
( Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Word Riot, Anti-Heroin Chic, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, Horror Sleaze Trash, and Your One Phone Call.)
The psychologists have been told to survey my psyche.
They’re trying to see if my mind is a mountain range
full of jagged precipices or a desert, bare boned and dry.
They begin topographically, looking at the contours of my landscape,
the existing features, the surface of my earth.
They need to scale its territory to see if it’s flat like the
soles of my shoe or round like a helium balloon straining to escape
behind the clouds. They’ve been ordered to map out the places unknown.
They want to know if the visible network of roads leads to the eye of
the storm, is there still a buildable base there?
There is a place they will never be able to access.
At night, the sweat hangs around my forehead, a crown of pearls,
my eyes are wide shut and filled with sand and I become your princess again.
I meet you there at the surf’s edge. We chase crabs on the beach and you
teach me about the stars. The only bottles in sight are the ones filled
with messages we launch into the ocean.
In the morning, I taste the salt on my cheeks and they’ll think it’s from tears.
They’ll never be able to reach the outer banks of that place.
I don’t want it to go into their draft.
Certain terrains are required to be left alone.
A call to the trail, away from the trajectory of a therapist’s chair.
An awakening. Slivers of sunlight peek into an unfinished dream.
A call to the living, “Step outside!”
A crash to the bottom now requires a slow crawl back to the top,
a task set at hand, to get moving, start walking.
A call to the wild.
To wander within it with hopes of wandering away from
an invisible illness that’s screaming to escape.
Standing alone above the horizon, patchwork hills roll
into mismatched greens opening my heart to change.
An invitation from the wind, a call to post-illness instead
of post-traumatic, a welcome to post-despair from a friendly sky.
It embraces me like a plush pullover its sunbeams fall
upon my cheeks like golden fingers and dry away my tears.
A march towards a path reaching out to me through generations,
worn down by those seeking penance.
Contrition. Walking into the woods, up through the hills
around the mountains, above the lakes, through the sleepy villages
in hopes of shedding this second skin of singular sadness.
Not a choice, but a scar.
As I pass the lake’s edge I imagine I’m the water
supporting the sailboats, the burden placed upon my back and
the buoyancy of those troubles forced up again and again, like the force
keeping the boats afloat, normalcy slipping between my fingertips.
Yet, here I am amid the trees, marching upon the path to recovery,
learning to let go, to just be in that moment in time,
embracing forgiveness between the rustle of the leaves and the march of my feet.
( TAK Erzinger is an American/Swiss poet and artist. She is also an English teacher who earned a BA in English from Boston University and her English teaching certification from the University of Cambridge. Her poems have been published in various anthologies. Her first poetry collection entitled Water Songs was published by The Origami Poetry Project (USA). Her poems and other writings have been featured by Harness Magazine, Mojave He[art] Review, Hello Switzerland and Wombyin to name a few. At the end of 2016 she suffered a nervous break-down and was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), ever since then nature, writing and art have been accompanying her through the recovery process. Last summer, as part of this process she began walking through Switzerland on the St. Jacob’s Way. She lives in a valley between the Swiss Alps with her husband and two cats.)
The Beautiful Space-