When they tell you you’ve
had a nervous breakdown
you become like an astronaut
you find yourself drifting,
pleading for someone to provide you
with the right equipment.
In the right space
you can deploy like the Eagle
confronting the “magnificent desolation” resolutely.
To be able to sink your feet into the
lunatic surface will be a revelation
tip-toeing through craters formed
long before you were born.
If you run low on fuel
at least you will have finally seen
what those wounds look like
up close and personal and like
the dark side of the moon
allow the parts unseen to be
tucked back into the envelope
of your universe.
every exploration takes time
Living in a Big Top
I was raised as a spectator. Taught to look with eyes wide open
and a mouth shut closed, a spectre haunting their escapades.
They came in droves in summer. A caravan of exotic animals.
Their foreign tongues licked at my ears and swallowed up my voice.
They pitched camp in every room, our house became a big top. Clowns with
their magic potions created smoke screens, intoxicating the crowd.
And my parents mastered the tightrope, walking between the tension points of
addiction and their children.
We were the objects that they juggled, like little balls kept in continuous
motion, for entertainment and display. Once the performance was over, we were tucked away.
Looking back, I can see, the format of these spectacles, the circle of that stage,
developed me into the ringmaster I am today. Away from the side lines,
at the centre of my life, I know how to interact with its various acts
creating a seamless performance.
I am no longer silent.
(TAK Erzinger is an American/Swiss poet and artist with a Colombian background. Her poetry and personal essays have been featured in Mojave He[art] Review, Cirrus Poetry Review, The Beautiful Space Journal, The Curlew, The Rising Phoenix Review, I-70 Review, The Avocet, The Woolf Magazine and more. Her debut poetry collection entitled, “Found: Between the Trees” (Grey Borders Books 2019) is currently available at http://www.greybordersbooks.jigsy.com/TAK-Erzinger. She lives in a Swiss valley with her husband and cats.)
Point of the Mind
closing in on the sand
cool green shrubs stand on a hill
not yet lending shade
wave upon wave
deep blue water
the edge of the sea has no fixed point
sand darkening in the sun
waves devouring dry beach
sunbathers inch back
retreat the sea's incursion
Given a chance,
he will steal anything.
floor to ceiling
with empty flower vases,
In the dark,
he huddles in a corner,
asking question after question
of each new acquisition.
(Steve Carter is a writer and jazz guitarist. He taught music and English at Berklee College of Music. His first book of poems, Intermodulations, was recently published by Maat Publishing (www.maatpublishing.net). His poetry has appeared in many magazines, including Hanging Loose, Carolina Review, Stand, and Clackamas Literary Review.)
Striking hands have been torn from ticking clocks,
Minutes birth hours and days form into months.
Time stands perfectly still,
As motionless as a stone.
The four walls around me are closing in,
Their smooth edges caressing my elbows,
And their sharp angles nipping my heels.
I have counted every last bump on the ceiling,
With lazy eyes and long breaths.
My breathing is so deep, so shallow, so expansive,
That each inhalation lines my lungs with arctic crystals.
Breaths puff out through visible mist,
And my tongue tastes like winter.
My bed provides some sort of respite from such boredom,
As I melt into the sheets and time disintegrates around me,
Minute hands fondling me under the covers,
Hour hands strewn across the carpet,
And seconds on the sill.
Blazing morns turn into shadowy sunsets without a moment’s notice,
There is no difference here between a dusk or a dawn.
I hope to no God that there will be some sort of end to this,
Some sort of rescue from my dull imprisonment,
But as I lie in wait and bide my time,
No clock will aid me.
The earth moves,
Firmly on the floor.
Rocking the cradle.
Suddenly waking up,
To the unsound alarm.
I see the waters,
Raging high above.
Land and waters,
Kiss each other.
Yet both elements,
In conspiracy killed.
In a curve,
The waters rose.
The terrorized earth,
Beyond the sea,
Land has drifted.
Causing boundary impact,
Shifting visions of globe.
Shouts of fears,
Souls with tears.
Looking back at stillness,
With no forgiveness.
How still you are now,
Broken our hearts are.
I urge you to stop,
With both my palms clasped.
(Dr Maureen Shyamala Rajamoney, born and bred in Penang, resides in Seremban, Malaysia and is currently serving as an English teacher in Chan Wa National Type Secondary School.)
this torture tripwire in my brain -
there’s no warning when it will light up
when the next bombardment will come,
and when an attack commences
it shatters my left hemisphere
starting as a dull clenching
in the hollow of my temple
electric throbs growing in intensity
ballooning to a harrowing pounding
like a screwdriver wedged in my ear
a knife in the gaps of my teeth
a needle piercing my eyeball.
I’m thrashed about like a rag doll
in the merciless onslaught
of a trigeminal nerve turned rogue,
as it swells on me, a mutating beast
writhing eel of errant firing
analgesics cannot mute or dull,
it rears like a basilisk to strike
with a volley of voltaic stabs
and I’m slashed down to my knees
groveling, calling out the names
of all the myriad gods, now gone,
who heard my cries a long time ago.
Three hundred days pain free -
colors and scents slowly begin
to feel pleasant and normal again.
amygdala rests, as I try
to look forward without fear,
without the filters of PTSD
a challenging feat, when carrying
the weight of a vicious fiend
still lodged, though slumbering, in my brain.
(Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is a Sydney based artist, poet, and pianist. She holds a Masters in English and is a member of Sydney’s North Shore Poetry Project and Authora Australis. Her recent works have been published in Red Eft Review, Glass Poetry Journal’s Poets Resist, Eunoia Review, among other journals.)
Blossom and leaf know change and turn,
earth days see constant beginning and end;
hold the spark of eternal fire in hand,
smile at vanishing years,
ignore the tick of the clock,
take the staff and continue to walk
the road, the steep winding stairs.
Peoples scattered like leaves swept by storm.
World fire blazes, death reaps on earth.
Preserve this flame of mysterious birth,
which knows no decay, only lasting desire,
whose agony is lost in blissful devotion.
From a flowering exuberant explosion
incense clouds of sweetness expire.
Time dissolves easily, so full of sun,
drink from the scarlet chalice of this day.
Gently, the linden tree hangs an array
over us: its subtle green filigree veils.
Chimes, in the distance, sound,
hours like fluttering leaves fall to ground
slowly in the counting weighing scales.
Darkish and solemn under bitter air
leaves rustle on the narrow path,
announcing early autumn days.
Sweetly suffused by ripe apples’ scent,
trees stretch their bronze-golden branches.
Wine winds purple chains round walls,
so rich and ripe, so full, this summer's end.
Shining like last bouquets of flowers
embraces summer selves in final love,
whispers goodbye; the cooing of a dove,
the heavy perfume of saved hay,
silage, straw, cabbage and apples,
of pumpkins and grapes;
sustenance for long cold winter days.
Like sweet woodlark’s song,
flows quickly on soft wings
sunshine spreads on undulating hills,
dew-wind unites with winding rills.
Wafts from the sirens’ songs,
oscillate like sounds of sea,
deep subconscious longing,
gives us time to think.
Crickets fiddle in the grass,
a creek runs through rough stones,
the rose glows in the garden,
gorse blooms along the fields.
Far the scream of jackdaws;
then a long and heavy sigh.
As if the mountain takes a breath,
gusts are falling from the high.
Buzzing through the treetops
a swarm of rushing birds
and from the beech slope
short wing beats of a dove.
Shepherd and flock seek rest,
near fields of corn abundance,
and on orchard’s fruited vines
still rests the summer silence.
On sylvan peaceful scene
the sun is shining brightly,
and stripes of light lightly
move along like hands.
The late summer’s sun
rests on bare rock’s face
to grant to moss and ivy
a last warm favour’s grace.
Waiting for the reaping hook,
rich meadows’ golden gift,
soon yet the austere, rough
threshers’ work comes to an end.
Harvest celebrations fade away
around the rich filled barns,
around the farmhouse’s threshing floor
summer night drapes veils galore.
The opulent harvest time
is gone, the green pollen waves
and dust of rye and wheat fields
are blown and flown away.
Scurrying through fences’ laths,
from the stable to the shed
slipped a marten’s fleeting shadow,
swiftly up the birch tree’s trunk.
From deep forests soothing silence,
when the silent star balls glow,
distant the monotone night’s song
of steady falling waterfalls.
Final strokes of nine
peal from a village tower,
whining of a mandolin
over the dreaming hover.
Hay moon’s morn and eve
Mellow are the July nights
when the sunset’s reddish fading
and the early morning lights
dawning blur and blend together.
When summer with red roses
bleeds to death so rapidly,
cawing ravens mourn the dead,
the blackbird has not sung
its last song yet.
Warm rays from the sunset
make distant peaks glow red,
the scream of the wild eagle
sounds over the forest silhouette,
while pale-cold falls the mist
into the closing day.
Under lime trees, under elms,
under thatched roof’s hanging wings
overgrown with moss and weeds,
stretching wide and shielding.
I want to put into a song
what on moonlit village green
I heard the fairies lisping.
What grey stone’s mossy green
inscription said to me.
Fog pictures rise in twilight,
from the dark days ‘past.
I hear faint voices whisp’ring,
sounds of pleasure, lament, anger.
A last farewell, so distant.
Silent night in the deep forest
around the birches’ black white bark;
around the alder’s trunks so dark,
flows the moonlight soft and mild.
(Eduard Schmidt-Zorner is an artist and a translator and writer of poetry, crime novels and short stories. He is writing haibun, tanka, haiku and poetry in four languages: English, French, Spanish and German and holds workshops on Japanese and Chinese style poetry and prose. He is a member of four writer groups in Ireland and lives in County Kerry, Ireland, for more than 25 years and is a proud Irish citizen, born in Germany. He was published in 59 anthologies, literary journals and broadsheets in UK, Ireland, Canada and USA. Writes also under his pen name: Eadbhard McGowan)
THE BEDSIDE BOOK OF NATURAL MAGIC
I need a thought like clean,
I need to dissolve into the whole
rather than solve
a sheet of equations for x.
I don’t want to think about those little
paperbacks that teach
teenagers to hex each other.
The little chills
that can’t help
but fill a moment.
I don’t want to think about how weeds
grow and skin freckles.
Hell is a heck
of a lot less scary
when published in paperback.
It can’t be helped.
The enamel wears thin.
The drain grows
its rusty beard.
Ajax crystals gather
near large underpants.
Singing naked I know
what the most blessed
of hobos knows:
The telephone rings.
The world squirrels
bits of itself away
under our fingernails.
It has to do with renewal
and settling down
to think about a journey
once believed dirty,
once believed endless.
VISITORS FROM BEYOND
I sleep to the sound of waves
defining the shore.
I dream of maintenance snakes need
a thousand holes.
Who is Ruby Stone?
And why is she so smooth
and in my bed?
I have always been open
I used to sleep with the radio on.
The radio waves at night
seemed to rejuvenate
the entire world.
(Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has two new chapbooks: Simpler Times and Staring Down Miracles. His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Conduit, and Cream City Review.)
The Truth About Ageing
sun dapples woods
trillium titillates shady patches
cedar perfumes air
crisp clear calm
we knew we’d have to sell our place
on the lake one day
but somehow never
thought that day would come
our future currency of loss
desire yearning despair
The Truth About Happy
This grey that stares
Lies not, stark skin and bone.
Happy, at this age, comes
with many qualifiers.
I was less stiff when
I got out of bed this morning.
I’m happy about that.
Sara’s cancer is confined
to her gall bladder, lymph
nodes and liver are clear.
That makes me happy.
Only five people from my
high school class are dead
and I’m not one of them.
That’s something to celebrate.
Every now and then my left
ankle doesn’t work, but
that’s only every now and then;
mostly it works and I walk
my little dog Mugsi and
watch her tushie wiggle
down Maple Avenue,
and that makes me happy.
I only allow myself half a
grapefruit in the morning but,
after I eat the sections I’ve
carefully carved from the fruit,
I squeeze the juice into my bowl.
Those sips of fresh grapefruit
juice produce a pleasure beyond
joy. And when my wife, Judy,
takes a moment to pat my arm
when I’m cooking our dinner
or kisses me on the cheek
when I put her plate before her,
the happy I feel makes
saints hit their knees.
Of course, there’s the nitwit in Washington,
the constant lies, hypocrisies that cause
mirrors to blush, the idea that empathy
is a national security risk. Yet with us
humans there’s always the possibility
that kindness will be reborn, that
compassion will make a comeback,
that happy will be happy again.
The Truth About Night
Why is the night so craven?
Everything possible during the day
seems impossible at night. I’m
not referring to the raucous bacchanalia
of night clubs and dance halls,
the blockbusters at movie houses,
or poker nights with the guys.
I’m talking about the sweat-soaked
heart pounding 3 AM maelstrom
when you’re sure you have terminal
cancer, an infection no antibiotic will cure,
and that all your arteries will close at once.
This is when your disgraces, every time
you measured your mouth for your foot size,
reappear in technicolor and surround sound,
when the eyes of the world are focused
solely on you and people with names like
Wolf, Anderson, and Rachel smirk and
intone your sins over and over
on their 24-hour news programs.
You rise from bed, an anvil of shame
on your back, pee, sip some water,
crawl under the covers and wait
for light’s subtle shade, that lambent
curtain of forgiveness called dawn.
(Charlie Brice is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), and An Accident of Blood (2019), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net anthology and twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in over ninety publications.)
The Inlay Work on the Left Side of the Brain
A nest of the woman’s hair
in all directions
like a map of the town.
The poet never stirred
for four days and nights.
A swarm of black flies
quivering up the walls.
Little children with vague
standing over her bed.
linen pale as snow.
(Winston Plowes shares his floating home in Calderdale UK with his seventeen-year-old cat, Sausage. He teaches creative writing in schools, universities and to local groups while she dreams of Mouseland. His latest collection, Tales from the Tachograph was published jointly with Gaia Holmes in 2018 by Calder Valley Poetry. www.winstonplowes.co.uk)
The Beautiful Space-