Poetry: No and No by Norb Aikin

This is the noise that keeps me awake,
the tie-dyed sentiments flung
from dirt that can’t be un-dug,
and this is me saying no
to a wish that “no” isn’t an answer to.
The curl, pulled straight.
The antidote, failed.

Nothing good can come of this
and that’s why I’m here.

This is the lookalike and this is the duplicate
and I am the difference
that goes unnoticed
until it’s too late.
There’s something, and nothing,
and something from nothing,
but I walk on the outline of the void-
I won’t fall in from the push;
my recoil does all the work for me.

Let’s not and say we did
before we have to pretend,
or at least until we get caught.

This is the noise that keeps me awake
and this is the escape I can’t seem to make
when I least expect it
but that’s what I’m doing now
and no one’s gonna tell me otherwise
even if they wanted to.
Like a joke not worth explaining
to people who don’t understand laughter,
I can’t help myself from myself.

Norb Aikin has been published by Eliezer Tristan Publishing and uses his time wisely on Twitter (@Fivesixer). His first poetry collection, 100, has been positively reviewed widely and his second, Mutants, recently was released for Kindles with a paperback coming. It’s a slim follow-up to 100 and features some older material along with his current WIP. Look for the full release of Also Mutants in the Spring of 2020.

Poetry/Short Story: Cash Card by Mark Anthony Smith

CASH CARD 

 

Alex Maxwell leaves his house on Morrill Street at 12.20pm. He always does, like
clock-work, for the 2 pm shift at the aerosol factory. It’s a comfortable job and they
have a laugh. He’s worked his way up over four years and gets left alone by The
Management now.
He crosses the busy road. Alex doesn’t see the Police sign asking witnesses to come
forward with details about a car accident last month. Not many do come forward.
But that’s a different story altogether.
He walks towards the betting shop and steps around a bundle on the path. He
doesn’t take much notice. The shops have their wheelie bins out for collections. It’s
Monday. He shoulders the betting shop glass door open as be rummages through his
jacket pocket. His cash card isn’t there. “Damn!” Alex panics. He checks the time on
his mobile phone. It’s 12.32 pm on Monday 20 th January 2020. Where did he last have
his card?
He last had it yesterday as he withdrew some money out at the bank. He questions
the odds of his card still being in the cash machine or of being handed into the bank.
‘Someone will have pocketed it.’ There’s no chance of it being found. He’ll have to
cancel it at the bank. He leaves the betting shop. He still has plenty of time to pop in
at the branch. Alex worries about his balance as he dashes. He had barely registered
the body he stepped around to avoid. From the corner of his eye, it could have
passed for bin bags, perhaps. He dashes past the homeless man sitting outside the
convenience store. There’s a queue in the bank.
Alex is fidgeting in line. There’s only ever one cashier serving. The older lady is
telling her life story as she’s being seen to. A child in a pram, before Alex, starts
crying. He doesn’t make eye contact with the child’s Mother. He feels an anger
growing in his chest as the older customer rambles.
Another staff member makes her way to the pedestal by the door. Alex goes over.
He doesn’t acknowledge her name badge. “I need to cancel my card,” he fumbles.
“Your name?” Alex tells the staff member his name, “Mr. Alex Maxwell,” he states.
Nadia replies, “Just one minute, please.” She heads out the back. Alex is sure his card
is missing. People aren’t as honest as they used to be. Nadia checks his date of birth
and address. “You’re a Pisces,” she smiles. Then she hands him the card. “Someone
handed it in yesterday afternoon.”
Alex is relieved. He notices how bright the sun is for an afternoon in January. He is
heading for the bus. The child is still crying. He goes over to the pram and drops to
his knees. “Can I give him one of these?” He shows the Mother a small cake from his packed lunch. She smiles and nods. Alex unwraps the bun and the little boy stops
crying. There’s plenty of time to catch the bus.

 

Mark Anthony Smith was born in Hull. His writings have appeared in Spelk, Nymphs, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, Pink Plastic House and Eerie River. Hearts of the matter is available on Amazon.
Facebook: Mark Anthony Smith – Author
Twitter: MarkAnthonySm16

Poetry: Failed Hypothesis by David Ralph Lewis

We triple checked the results.
Today, with it’s heavy skies,
is an impossibility. We are

between ourselves, stuck in
the gaps between electrons
without any observation,
that nebulous space
of possibility, despair
and hope merging together
to create endless static.

The charts are incoherent
the data now unreadable.
We halted the experiment
early, filled up beakers
with tears and released
chemical compounds into
the fragile atmosphere,
just to see what would happen.

All textbooks are now runes
from a lost civilisation
too poorly studied for
comprehension. Under this
fractal tree, I breathe
and try, unsuccessfully
to forget all I know.

David Ralph Lewis is a poet and short story writer based in Bristol, UK, When not writing, he enjoys dancing badly at gigs, attempting to grow vegetables and taking photos. His debut chapbook, Our Voices in the Chaos was released by Selcouth Station in October 2019. He understands a very small amount of what is going on in the world. You can follow him at www.davidralphlewis.co.uk

About Leonard’s Inspiration to Lennon Stravato from Avalanches in Poetry Writings & Art Inspired by Leonard Cohen

I remember the moment as if it happened today. I remember it as if it was the moment which precedes every moment. At 10 years old I rode my bicycle to the South Huntington Library, in Long Island, New York. This library of the neighboring town had a superior selection, compared to our local Harborfields Public library. I walked in, found the poetry section, pulled a book off the shelf, and opened up to a random page. The book was “Selected Poems 1955-1968” and the author was Leonard Cohen, a “singer” whose music I had heard countless times, along with that of Bob Dylan, as a passenger in my father’s car. It was on page 233 that my life changed. It was a simple poem, entitled “A Person Who Eats Meat.” I read: “A person who eats meat wants to get his teeth into something. A person who does not eat meat, wants to get his teeth into something else.” The deep 10 year old that I thought I was, paused for a moment, reflected, found it fascinating. I returned to the final lines: “If these thoughts interest you, even for a moment, you are lost.” The cosmos had gently slapped me in the face, and it used Leonard Cohen’s hand. The message was very simple: dig deeper, little boy. When the cosmos speaks that clearly to you, only a fool would ignore it. I, who aspire not to be a fool, had no choice but to comply. I have not stopped digging.

In the nearly three decades since that time I not only hung on Leonard’s every word, but I also delved deep into world religions, theology, existentialism, and my own, at times rather tumultuous, life. His early work, which often contained suggestive and darker allusions, reflected his era, and was well suited to my teens and early 20s. His later work, which I have enjoyed as something of an adult, spoke to the ages. Leonard masterfully used the voice of God, and man in ecstasy and terror, in the face of the divine. He balanced delicately and piercingly the interplay between the sacred and the mundane, the holy and the demonic, the essential and the existential, meaning and meaninglessness. His lyrics: “a million candles burning for the love that never came,” “behold the gates of mercy, in arbitrary space, and none of us deserving, the cruelty or the grace,” “He wants to write a love song, an anthem of forgiving, a manual for living with defeat” are eternal and timeless descriptions of the human condition. They have also become the core themes of my own interior landscape. It is no wonder that as Leonard described poetry as “the constitution of the inner country” that his work has had such an enduring impact on me personally, and my writing, which attempts to communicate in what I called, in a poem published in the Bards Annual 2019 Anthology, “the inner dialect.”

For many years, writing has been a passion of mine. In early 2019 I penned a screenplay which has just completed production. I also previously published dense political articles for The Hill newspaper in Washington, D.C., though I no longer standby those opinions. It wasn’t until 2018, however, two years after Leonard’s passing, that I began to find my own poetic voice. Sitting on my patio, I lamented that I might not hear a new Leonard Cohen song ever again, I wrote the following, as one of my first poems, entitled “The Master”

Because his death was something, my heart could not withstand,
I asked the master for a final poem, and offered up my hand
I said “for many years, I’ve been a student of the word,

And if you speak to me, I’ll help your voice be heard”

Then the master softly spoke “did you think those words were mine to tell?

You must know that I procured them, from deep within that great communal well.

And there, young man, you may go fishing, but if anything retrieved,

I’m afraid you’ve got that burden, from which I’ve been relieved.”
And then the master did retreat, back into that great abyss

From which all beings spring, and into which we are dismissed.

Yet in departing, he did leave a final remnant, a tiny piece of dust

As if to say, that’s all a man can give, the beauty’s not from us

So, I sat there for a moment, and then found some fresh new pages,

Knowing that is all a pilgrim has, when he goes to meet the ages

And dutifully I will wait here, with that paper and my pen

And my little promise, that when the spirit speaks, I’ll transcribe all I can

___________

Midway through 2019, in response to a text message in which a friend mistakenly thought Bob Dylan had passed away, I went into a deep reflection about the loss of Cohen and the inevitable loss of Dylan. Early that day I dwelled for a period of time on Cohen’s suggestion that there are both a divine and a human will in each of us, and between the two exists the religious enterprise. I penned the following:

If the prophets all go home,

with no heir to hold their torch

may the oceans be reduced to foam

and we build museums with remorse

For if the will that burns in each of us

is not the one we choose to serve

to life itself we have become treasonous

And we get the hollowness we deserve

I heard Dylan and Cohen speak and sing

the voice of god was in their tunes

but the bells of freedom that did ring

belong to each and every moon

And while the spirit still blows where it will

and we cannot command it as our own

it may yet select our hearts to fill

and in our art make temporary home

And that is why I sit here with my pen and pad

Knee-deep in that finest meditation

indifferent to claims that I’ve gone mad

or that poetry is an unsuitable vocation

I never bought that brand of sanity

where culture was confused with marketplace

products are preferred above humanity

and unlived dreams are commonplace

But if that will which burns in each of us

becomes the only one we serve

self-doubt shall not bind the holy impetus

and that torch’s flame will be preserved

_______________________________

Finally, in response to my own lines above, I decided it was time to dedicate myself to poetry. In a poem that is in part the inverse of Cohen’s famous hymn “Hallelujah,” where unlike David, I do not please the Lord, and with allusions to “If It Be Your Will” and “Joan of Arc,” I wrote, what at the time of this writing, is my most recent poem.

I once reached into the ether

for sublime words that I could share

But each one did fall beneath her

to whom my best would not compare

She said: you are drenched in varnish

but all my people have no glare

Hear me, for I birthed the prophets

and you, young man, are not their heir

Well, I trembled at this trumpet

it shook me to my soul

but I was not made to crumble

and instead I raised my goal

So, I gathered all my kindling

then I trekked up old Mount Sinai

and said, if you be so willing

have this fire as our alibi

She said earth is temporary

just as those who seek its favor

they that seemed extraordinary

were forsaken like that savior

I said I know the truthsayers

and though unfit to walk their path

Indeed, I’ve come for this affair

as all, but you, to me is wrath

She said then join me in this fire

but know that varnish won’t survive

there is no room for false attire

if you wish in Truth to be alive

I pledged myself to love, not pride

to live and die in just your name

So here, right now, I’ll climb inside

I won’t resist this perfect flame

From Lennon Stravato

For anyone interested in my writing, I am currently working on my first book of poetry, which I hope to have ready by Spring 2020. I can be found in attendance and occasionally as a feature at the many great poetry events in Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. Also please feel free to find me on Facebook.

Poetry by Amanda McLeod : Ophelia, Drowned & Broken

Ophelia, Drowned

in madness and sorrow

turn from the depths, child,

and bathe your face in sweet light

let the current be your baptism

instead of your death

emerge clean, shining

know this darkness is not forever

beyond shadow, there is always light

for one does not exist without the other

give the river your sadness

but not your soul

your beauty is needed here

your joy brings joy to others

an ending means a new beginning

but not this kind of end

there is more for you here

than what one man could take away

let another you come forth

stronger

reforged

glistening

make the water your mirror

what do you see

when you search for yourself there?

 

BROKEN

 

Broken

Brother night, take me—-

Let me feel the coolness

Of your hands on my fevered skin

Sweet darkness—-

Drop your midnight veil

The harsh light of the sun

Burns my eyes Sears my lungs Scalds my heart

Pour on me the countless raindrops

That become the flood

Let darkmoon silence

Hum in my ears a mute ritual

Float me womblike in

Comfortable ebony air

My lacquered bones holding

No weight

Glass splinters

Prickle my stomach

Pierce my skin

I pull them out one by one

Careful not to spill my own blood; watch

The glitter spread on towels

Mind my step

Crushed hearts are sharp when

Only stars light the way

Each shard wet with the broken promise

Of an empty vessel

Amanda McLeod is an Australian creative. Her fiction and poetry can be found in Semicolon Lit, Ghost Parachute, Crepe & Penn, and other places. She is also the Managing Editor at Animal Heart Press. When she’s not playing with words, she’s usually looking for wild quiet places or good coffee. Find her on Twitter @AmandaMWrites or on her website amandamcleodwrites.com