Editor: Susan Jane Sims
Poems by David Prior, Isobel Davis, Moira Andrew, Sandeep Kumar Mishra, Di Coffey, Martin Foroz, Patrick Wright, Mark Isherwood and Mike Lee.
For this Spring edition I had a lot of poems to choose from on every aspect of life and death, including many uplifting Spring poems. I could not resist putting one in, a sequence of three haiku. Other than that I looked for fresh and original poems with an an individual voice.
Please scroll beyond the poems for my feedback.
Three Haiku for Spring
The frozen earth cracks.
The white flag of the snowdrop,
Bluebells paint the land,
Become the colour of spring.
Earth disguised as sky.
Listen! Sounds of spring:
Buds burst open to the light,
A soft percussion.
David Prior (UK)
I can be
A very unreasonable person,
To reason with,
at the bottom of the ocean.
so far sunk
sometimes I could no longer point to the surface,
Than my solar plexus.
But you see
When I found you,
Settled to the sea bed,
All at once
That you might have other lives
On dry land.
And began filling your shoes
And whale bones,
Until I had you believing
You could breathe here.
That the salt,
Your soft bits.
Wouldn’t eat away your smile.
If I were as pure
As the fine silt
That sits about me,
I imagine I should pull a red toggle,
Of some sort.
And watch you rise,
Like a full moon,
Far beyond the surface
of my emotions.
But I was hoping
That we might
Become a Portuguese,
And pass the time
If we were one thing
All the while
To be inseparable.
I was hoping
You’d still be
Who bears the ballast of my heart.
Isobel Davis (UK)
I Painted an Ocean
But always forgot the shore
There were no ships
When I took a close look
It was my isolation
Sailing like the sea waves
I stand alone for centuries
To add the people,
In my voyage
Still, singular I stand
When I try to talk,
It becomes silent monologue outward
The reply comes from the resounding inside,
So I like surreal, something sick
So is all my work
If someone makes my portrait
It shall be something sad, sub-standard
But surely scintillating
Sandeep Kumar Mishra (India)
Poems and songs
They say Poems are songs
without the holes …
I fill the gaps, singing
in my sleep, quite forgetting
I can’t sing for toffee.
In my head, I’m Piaf,
Ella, a morning blackbird
welcoming the sun –
after all, I know the words
to every jazz standard.
So I sing in dreamtime,
darn holes with my poems,
stitch seams in carefully-
chosen phrases, letting
no daylight in, just jazz
mostly in Bb, always in tune
Moira Andrew (UK)
I lower the bucket,
feed out its rope –
feel caterpillar hairs
slide through my fingers.
My sister, five years old,
claps her hands
as the bucket hits water.
Too heavy to haul,
I turn the winding handle
till the bucket rocks into view,
spilling its watery offering.
We cup our hands,
dip in, slurp.
As always, it’s
like tasting icicles.
The water’s contaminated
by human waste from
the farm further up the hill
says the man from the water board.
The stuff of nightmares:
a sister paralysed by polio;
parents who will never
Di Coffey (UK)
Modern life is full of ‘IF’
Clauses within clauses
Life starts with an ‘if’
Finishes with another ‘if’
It reminds me of Kipling’s ‘IF’
the poem beginning with an ‘if’
“If you can hold your head…”
Ending with a line on ‘WHEN’
“And so hold on when there is
nothing in you”, but I say
If the poet is in you
you can make a better world
with no conditional ‘IF’
Martin Foroz (Oman)
It started with the word glaucoma, a tunnel,
a card game, a question on the queen of diamonds
and the jack of hearts.
It ended with a smudge of grey through glass,
and mother winding her way down your path,
the uncut grass, her legs through the fence;
a bouquet, freesias I think, handed back.
Me in the car, I wasn’t meant to see you. You,
your hair white, frizzed, albino-like. Like you,
partial sight, as mother’s coat eclipsed you,
in your bungalow, a crypt,
once home of karaoke, endless toast and jam.
I tried to convince you the queen of diamonds
could be confused for the jack of hearts. I lied;
and in your eyes I saw you see right through me,
white lies beyond my years.
Forsaken by Christ, your box of psalms
were no longer read; they festered in your dresser.
I too, in time, left you in your rocking chair,
the vestibule. By your side a wireless, dead-eyed,
distant, limbs thin, slumped with static and fuzz.
Only in dreams came the transmissions:
your brain, demented through lead in your pipes,
the hum of pylons above.
Then the amnesia-white of your walls, the traces
in those spaces you’d vacated. All false teeth
and playing cards, divvied up by uncles and aunts,
and by mother too. She kept a box of morbid
She talked of grandpa, only later, dragging
you from room to room.
Patrick Wright (UK)
The Dream of your Eyes
the dream of your eyes
that lands when you glance
eye lash wings
open and close as we discourse
am I the warming sun?
your head turns
and the fall of your hair
rustles beyond hearin
If you were mine?
Would I still notice?
Would the cascade of you still drown me?
Mark Isherwood (UK)
The Chill-out Chair
Sitting, nay – lying almost horizontal on the laid-back,
go-to-sleep chair, up-staring into the model of the universe
outshining itself above my new skyline I swallow,
tongue-check my full set of uppers and downers
for plaque and respond to the obligatory, mellow
rhetoric flowing from the goggled-up guy, somewhere
out of sight to the rear of my declining right ear:
“Weather’s better. Going anywhere nice this year?”
I shake my head and the antiseptic scrubbed-up shadow
appears suddenly overhead, “Open wider please.”
In tandem; the sterile mirror and the ouchy-pointy
scraper-thing follow their scheduled route around my
fragile molars, premolars, canines and incisors; jointly
they explore every nook and cranny, pothole, cavity
and secret grotto I hope I’ll never ever have to see.
Five-point-five fraught minutes later:
the secret tapping
tooth-count stops, the sterile shadow rises, declares,
“No problems there, today! Rinse and spit please!”
Battling against the clutches of the alluring Lazarus-chair,
I thank him for his gentleness, wobble-wash the residual
mouth-rubble and splutter it all away into the bleach-white bowl.
“Six months?” I ask.
His smile nods.
Mike Lee UK)
Among the Moonfish
Jellies, moons, man-o-war, polkadot the sand’s carpet.
Stranded by sea, jellies line the beach,
a sort of purgatory, part night terror.
Moons recur, among fish and spindrift:
pack-a-mac, umbrella, poking a squid till it shoots
its ink, a dark cloud; tip on each bell, a purple heart.
This, the start of feeling afraid: saucers
like sci-fi, or footage of piled genocide.
Organs too are like this: water-filled, strange.
A wash of polyps, the sea spreads them evenly.
Crystalline, trees electrified by lightning
reanimate, nightly, as the tide moves invisibly.
Omens, moments like these: the sun needles
through cloud, takes a biopsy; a glitter of razor shells
readying themselves for theatre.
Surgeons are seabirds: they scan, clear the carnage,
go about their business, before stingers
unfurl, return, like shadows on an X-ray.
Three Haiku for Spring – It is pretty hard to write a fresh sounding Spring poem, however I was impressed with the seasonal offerings that came in and found it hard to choose. This one made it as I felt the imagery was filled with both light and sound.
Saline – Breakups are common place and so if one is to catch my eye it needs to have something unusual or quirky about it and this one does not take itself too seriously.
I painted an ocean – This is a sad yet revealing poem that reaches beneath the surface of what might motivate an artist to depict the world in a particular way.
Poems and Songs – Many of have a fantasy world where we can do something we cannot do in everyday life. This is a beautiful piece exploring just that with subtle humour.
Tasting Icicles – I began this assuming this was to be a lovely childhood memory and then the darkness set in. A beautifully evocative poem with a twist.
Conditionals – I included this one for its faith in poetry making a difference in this world.
Bungalow – A difficult subject explored .very honestly. Vivid concrete detail of lives changed utterly by the onset of dementia.
The Dream of Your Eyes – a great romantic poem of unrequited love. And an age old question: Is something only beautiful when your are longing for it or willl it ratin its beauty when its yours?
The Chill -out Chair – Definitely not what I expected. The title conjures up a massage chair but this one was fun and I thought to include as it describes a ritual most of us hate and yet appreciate and it does it with humour. Why do dentists always ask you questions when your mouth is wide open and you can’t possibly answer.
Among the Moonfish – the sea became a theme for me in this edition, or at least the sea as metaphor. In this last I was thinking inevitably of Mark’s hospital experience and chose this poem of exposure, treatment and return of disease.