3 poems from Emma Lee

photo from unsplash

all previously published in The Blue Nib

Understanding Ghosts
(i.m. GWJ 22/10/1954 – 09/09/14)

Hold your head up; you’ve got a pretty face
Yours: reddened by alcohol in your belly.
You’ve just jolted me from my memory 
of a novelist telling me I shouldn’t hide trace
of a published poem just because the period
was for stories. He thought evil lacked lustre, 
wanted to look at the person who saw ogres,
even if told in the form of a ballad.

I thought he could see my ghosts, the crippling 
self-doubt. His gruff impatience was saved
for those who were lazy, unimpeded. 
He knew some writers needed nurturing.
I’m weighed with the loss of a talent
you will not stain by your ugly intent.



The Colours of a Panther

"I saw a black panther," a voice on the radio. 
A so-called expert repeats it. I change stations. 
What other colour would a panther be?
Harborough's countryside is hedged green fields.
The shadows merge into significance.
The radio is now off. I wanted the throb 
of a cello undercut with yearning, not commercial pop.
Cats are adaptable and secretive,
content in their own company and a patch of sun.
Easy to let my imagination run with the suggestion.
I pull into town, run errands, until I'm caught.
It should be a simple decision: a pizza.
There's your favourite, but I want my choice
if only I knew what that was. A man, who doesn't
look like you, stares. I'm his way. I grab,
stumble to the checkout and pay, slump into my car,
hands, clumsy with keys, paw at the wheel.
Black is never just black. I don't remember 
my drive home, only that I was alone.
I discover the pizza I snatched wasn't 
your favourite as I put it in the oven.
There's a shadow where you used to stand.
A smear like silky fur on my cheek.
My heart feels as if it's been clawed.
Maybe panthers don't just come in black.

A smudge of cinders

My teacher looked at me as if breezeblock
wasn't a word she knew. 
I had pushed my sock down. 
It was itching the scabs on my leg.
A breezeblock had fallen 
from the stack in the yard.
I splashed cold water on my scraped skin.
My mother said to leave it.
My teacher asked if I'd seen a doctor.
I frowned. We weren't to bother him.
My teacher held her pendant 
and ran it back and forth along its chain. 
I wanted to wet a paper towel 
and dab it to cool the cuts,
but I'd been taught not 
to interrupt an adult's thinking.
I pushed the other sock down so it matched.
My teacher seemed to have forgotten me.
I crossed my fingers that she wouldn't 
speak to my mother.
I was supposed to keep my cuts hidden
by pulling my socks up.

Poem: Tracing a Love Song by Emma Lee




2 poems from Sadie Maskery influenced by Bob Dylan Series

Bob Dylan Hand Drawn Drawing Portrait, Caricature Vector. Illustration vector illustration
From Doddis (c) on Dreamtime

One more cup of coffee

Like dust, smoke, the song of a lark,
the touch of your hand,
that point where gravity defies
a body's desire to float and you are pulled down
to the ocean floor...
That point, high above the horizon,
which determines a landing back on safe green ground  
or eternal flight...
Gravity is so gently made, 
more a plea than command, come back to me, come back -
and here we stand, at that same point 
talking all done and a decision to be made -
do we fall, fly or drift apart? come back to me, 
come back.


mr jones


      it startles me, 
the way our bodies
         know how to     fit      together
when conversation (hi! you look well)
has always been   so  /  awkward  /
i suppose chat 
         (still gigging?)     is irrelevant 
when our lives 
           are forever
                 on different paths
                                just this
one crossroads involving
        legs            and             hair 
(remember when
   you had hair      i met you at
the party you said
                                 do you play guitar?
 have you read Tarantula?)
     now we are both 
a little                ragged and you       recede 
       and  shhhhh    my   memory)  and
tongues 
intertwined
    i never knew
        how simple this could 
be         no need for
                       interests in common
                            (i have never read
                                   poetry my god why          
                                       would i ?)
when the 
essential         thing 
                       is
                       the weight 
       of             love
           never to be mentioned
just 
weather and
     how
          sadness smells
like dust on a highway 
               (something   ah
something is happening 
here but we don't 
               we can't know 
    what it is)


A book review of “Push” by Sadie Maskery

Poetry Re-Post for Leonard Cohen Week: To the End of Love by Sadie Maskery

3 poems from “Push” by Sadie Maskery “Lost Child” “Rearrangement” & “Once we were”

Pandemic Poetry Showcase by John Dorsey

water ripple with maple leaves

photo by Mitchell McCleary (unsplash)

Hanging by a Thread

after almost 2 years of winter
the clocks have stopped
seasonal depression no longer passes
with the falling leaves
a squeaky wheel on a grocery cart
where we quickly get what we need
& rush home to safety 
provides little comfort

where an ugly christmas sweater
from a dead aunt
feels like a treasure

the only thing 
that hasn’t completely 
come apart.

The Order of Things Now

this isn’t a fireside chat
the war of the worlds on the radio
when the end comes 
we will be invisible
the hands we touched as children
will be kept in perfect working order
& put away in a hall closet 
stuffed with memories
a teddy bear
a rumpled bed
paper scattered around 
our messy hearts
their work left undone
next to a flower pot

invading every room.  

March, 2020

we joked about it then
today we are what we don’t do
& thank god that david bowie 
doesn’t have to be here for this
because dancing in a paper mask 
just seems silly
while listening 
to a song from 1974

we wonder about our children
how they will express everything 
they have to hold in
we wonder will their love 
become a silent dance
behind a closed bathroom door?

The Death Toll is Great Cinema

you can hear a pin drop
everyone is afraid 
to walk into the theater

in 1918
they had charlie chaplin 
in baggy pants 
to help them through 
the spanish flu 

this is different
this is musical chairs
without the music.


Bio: John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw's Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Poetry, 2017),Your Daughter's Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019), Which Way to the River: Selected Poems 2016-2020 (OAC Books, 2020), Afterlife Karaoke (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2021) and Sundown at the Redneck Carnival, (Spartan Press, 2022).. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and the Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Prize. He was the winner of the 2019 Terri Award given out at the Poetry Rendezvous. He may be reached at archerevans@yahoo.com.