Lipstick Sunset by David L O’Nan (Poetry)

Lipstick Sunset
The acoustics of the guns pop
Against the Ivy and the prayers.
A breath frozen emotionless
Stinging to the skyline.

We love like mannequins
Staring at the sunset
And we watch the red rouge jetline
Across the domineering solar shivers.

We are the weeping fools
All of our memories clutched –
In the lines of our held hands.
All the knots in our bruising –
Begins to bleed the hurt away
As we sleep and wish away –
The hurt from past demons
The lingering spit of revitalized demons.

Beautiful and madly, babe
We fell madly into the flowers
The itching, biting blades of grass
The apples begin to fall
The white clouds are imprisoned
Sing the song of release
To the freedom of night

The guns don’t even phase us anymore

Reyna Elenita by Karlo Sevilla

Our little Maleeha raises both arms,
pirouettes and a bejeweled crown
springs up from the orbit outlined by her fingers,
which rises and shrinks until it settles upon her tiny head.
She slows to a standstill,
then extends her arms overhead, palms together.
She parts and gently lowers her straightened arms
and a halo of iridescent hues cascades.


For our quarantined Flores de Mayo, our little queen is crowned
and aureoled by a rainbow for her unmanned arch
right in our living room.

Karlo Sevilla of Quezon City, Philippines is the author of the full-length poetry collection
“Metro Manila Mammal” (Some Publishing, 2018). Twice nominated for the Best of the Net,
Karlo’s poems appear in Philippines Graphic, Small Orange, Black Bough Poetry, Eclectica,
Matter, and others

photo by Ethan Schut

Poetry Feature for Linda M. Crate from the Anthologies

holding onto dreams

I remember
being bullied as a child
for everything:
being shy, my weight,
the color of my eyes,
my laugh, my refusal to
drink underage,
my clothes, my sensitivity—
anything perceived as weakness
was a weapon they’d use
against me,
it wasn’t until my uncle
took his own life
I realized that i didn’t want to die
just wanted the pain inside
of me to wither away like a flower before winter;
and I feel so guilty for being so lost
inside my own pain
that I didn’t realize he had struggles
of his own—
but he told me to chase my dreams
relentlessly and never let them go,
and so, I am here holding onto this anthem;
hoping one day I can make him proud.

check on the strong ones

I never want anyone to feel
so lonely, so empty, so useless,
unwanted or unnecessary as I did;
and so, I am the friend that will always
be there no matter how bad
it is for my own mental health—
the friend that will always make you
laugh and help when she can, the one who
will never tell you her struggles,
the one who says she’s fine when
she’s really not;
you all need to remember to check
in on your strong friends
because sometimes even our knees buckle
sometimes we cannot tell you the well rehearsed
lie that we are fine
sometimes our bones are heavy and our hearts
become stone leading us to the bottoms of oceans—
sometimes we need help lifting ourselves out of the waters
of our fevered minds, sometimes we need someone
brave enough to face mountains that are not theirs to face,
someone who will listen instead of waiting to speak

For as Long as I Remain

when i think of home
i imagine house
of my parents,
they live in a place with
an ageless face
whose beauty sighs in clouds
and blue skies and trees tall as
skyscrapers;
it is in the fields and forests i spent
a lot of time growing up—
the loner no one understood
unraveled herself in thick puffs of white clouds,
endless blue skies,
choruses of rambling creeks and babbling brooks,
in fields of orange wild lilies growing by the side
of the road,
in the wings of butterflies and crows;
there is peace to be found in the heart of this place
so i focus on those memories when i can
because not every memory is potatoes and gravy
some are heavy stones i try to chisel away—
but in nature i found pieces of me
that music and books couldn’t give,
and a peace that will cleanse me for as
long as i remain.


You’re Always There

when i remember home
it is inevitable
that i remember you
i wish sometimes
the rain could wash away
past memories,
but you are in my recollection;
in my bones
haunting me over and over—
when will it ever be
enough for you?
you hunger for something
that was never yours,
and i told you no;
but you tried to take it anyway—
then at college,
when i was finally loosening my petals,
beginning to feel safe
you found me;
“i bet you don’t remember me”, you grinned
all i could do was stare like a doe
caught in the headlights
of a vehicle
gutted by a ruthless hunter
hungry for blood
no matter the cost—
why couldn’t you leave me alone?
the forced kisses i insisted
you didn’t take,
the attempted rape;
now when someone tells me
i have a pretty smile it’s a trigger
and you are shooting over me
over and over again
until all i want to do is crawl
into the bones of a past self so you
cannot torment the current me—
it never works,
you’re always there.

This Place Isn’t Mine

i miss living in the town i grew up in, home cooked meals and dusty dirt roads; a village
of trees and stalks of corn taller than me—there were always adventures to be had in the
woods, always secrets the wind would tell me; i would always uncover some new
mythology of my name and bones—i miss being able to wake up to a sunrise and see a
sunset clearly, where the hustle of city life wasn’t so predominant; a place where i didn’t
feel threatened simply by existing—i miss the moments spent in tranquil nature, listening
to crowsong and dancing beneath the moon; visits to the beach or standing in the creek,
hearing the psalms of trees—i don’t like this place of endless sidewalks, buildings, and
the omnipresent arrival and departure of vehicles; i like the music of the country better: the mooing cows, the cawing crow, the songbirds, the barking dogs, and singing crickets;
everything is better than the constant beeping and whirring of people focused on being
somewhere other than where they are—i just want to wrap myself up until i can be
husked and boiled away from this place and come out shimmering, new, beautiful, and
reformed.

i understand why

found a puzzle piece
of me
you all tried to keep
hidden from me
all these
moons,
and i understand why;
the dark feminine says respect me
or perish
so the lot of you’d be dead
for all the disrespect you’ve always
dished me—
but I’ve stepped into
my power and magic,
and i feel more secure about
myself than i ever have;
it is easy to make an insecure girl
bend to your whim and will
and make her doubt herself until she
succumbs and obeys—
but i am no longer that little girl
who is terrified,
i have become the terror that will haunt
you in your nightmares;
i will not apologize because you should’ve
apologized for not accepting me as i was.


the girl that loved you died

my heart was a wilted flower,
and you plucked the petals;
let me bleed for a love you refused
to reciprocate because you were
taken with your fantasies of me
rather than who i really was—
had a lust that killed me,
but i rose from the ashes of your chaos
on these mighty flaming wings;
a phoenix whose tears may heal but her
fires burn
immortal of the flame
ancient daughter of the moon—
i am a warrior
always have been,
my rebellious nature and sharp tongue
have gotten me into trouble;
but i refuse to be
tamed—
wild as a forest fire and hurricane
you will never find anything but ruin should you
stand in the way of me and my dreams,
and so i recommend you stay far away from
my kingdom;
because the girl that loved you
died
and the dark feminine stands in her place
this dark phoenix will be your end

they say i’m aggressive

i am always told i am aggressive,
but why can’t a woman be fierce?
why should i apologize for the fact that
i won’t be taken advantage of?
got a sharp wit and a sharp tongue,
and whilst i can be flowers and compassion
i am also raging storms and lightening strikes;

a magic that no one understands
i am hecate’s daughter—

everyone misunderstands me
as they do my friends the crows and ravens,
but that makes me no less a queen;

i was born at night
the darkness doesn’t scare me
because i know how to survive the darkness

sometimes it is the light that is more terrifying
because you never know if it is a false dream
or a betrayer who is a fallen devil singing
the songs of an angel—

but i am a spooky queen
you shouldn’t cross me
because i dance with all the rage and wrath
of the witches, you burned in my family
eons ago,
and i am a woman you cannot burn;
a phoenix whose flaming wings and talons

can rip you to ruin.

there’ll be a rematch

i was lost in a dark limbo
hurt to think of love or you or anything

wanted to close my eyes,
thought of how pretty it would be
to observe the creek from
beneath the water;

i was suffering a deep depression
that almost swallowed me whole
except my family and friends refused to give up
on me no matter how sad or angry i was—

you claimed you loved me,
but love isn’t supposed to be an ache
that rips you apart until you feel like
a broken sunset
tripping over clouds until your light
fizzles into night;

i lost our child and your love and all respect
for myself because i thought you cheating on me
made me less beautiful and i saw an ogre
every time i looked into the mirror—

but, darling, you were the monster;
you woke the monster in me, too—

one day there will be
a rematch,
you’ll lose.


longer than i remember

i may be strange and unusual,
but i am in the land of the living;
full of so many worlds and characters
it could take centuries to unravel
them all from every universe of me—

people get lonely being alone,
not me;
i am actually addicted to it

silence is much preferable
to small talk—

and with all these ideas, i have,
i’m never truly alone;
even when no one is here
the words keep me company

no one seems to understand that—

they tell me i need someone,
but i have always had to lean on myself
for strength because no one has
ever been there for me;

so why do i need another person?

they say ultra-independence
is a sign of trauma,
but i already know because i’ve been
suffering with pstd and trust issues
longer than i can remember.

Linda M. Crate’s works have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is the author of six poetry chapbooks, the latest of which is: the samurai (Yellow Arrow Publishing, October 2020). She’s also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, June 2018). Recently she has published three full-length poetry collections Vampire Daughter (Dark Gatekeeper Gaming, February 2020), The Sweetest Blood (Cyberwit, February 2020), and Mythology of My Bones (Cyberwit, August 2020).

From Linda:
The themes of my latest chapbook center around rebirth, reincarnation, and learning from the past. It speaks upon how events from past lives can still impact us today, and sometimes looking and learning from the past can actually make us stronger. It is about overcoming emotional trauma and embracing the inner warrior and fighting for a better future.

Follow Linda on twitter @thysilverdoe
Check out her latest poetry chapbook “The Samurai”

Featured Poetry of Raine Geoghegan

Her Names are Many

Look, there she goes.                                                                           Dressed in her finery for a Gypsy Rommer.

Black leather boots, long purple dress gold around her neck and a feather in her hat,

She’ll mingle with the guests, drink wine until she’s skimmished.

She’ll hitch her skirts up. Dance like the young ones.

Just before she leaves she’ll give order and sing a song

that nobody knows but everyone loves and then she’ll disappear into the shadows

into the dust that rolls along the empty streets and never settles.

Rommer – wedding; Skimmished – drunk.


Dark is the Forest

Dark is the forest and deep, In times gone past it’s where we’d sleep. Under the oaks or the Hawthorn tree, drop our covels, our minds roam free.


Dark is the forest and deep, for dukkering, our malts will keep, a small gold ring tied with string, around their wrist or in their fist.


Dark is the forest and deep, where foxgloves grow and deer do leap, our plans are spun and boar will run. We take our time, we ‘ave some fun.

Dark is the forest and deep, we pass by patrins for those who seek, to keep in touch with folk that are dear and pass on news of birth and fear

.Dark is the forest and deep.

The title is taken from a poem No 131 – Poems 1916 by Edward Thomas.

Romani words (jib) Covels – belongings; Dukkering – fortune telling; Patrins – signs left along the way, can be leaves or string.

Then the Day Came…

I remember your body lying in the darkened room,
the smell of stale air and socks.
How you had become ghostlike,
silent, creeping about the house.
I missed the boy in you, the joy in you.
In the afternoon you’d come downstairs,
go into the office where the computer sat.
You moved your fingers on the keyboard
at the speed of light as you played game after game,
not stopping to eat or drink.
There were two sides of you.
The quiet one, soft voice, sad face,
eyes filled with longing.
The other, set like stone, words forming sharp arrows,
wounding me, wounding you.
Then the day came,
when I felt the weight of all that you were holding onto,
and I wondered if you could hold on any longer.
On that day I kissed your forehead
as you lay in bed, the voice of Michael Jackson
on the radio singing Billie Jean.
A sharp memory of you aged five dancing,
shouting ‘OOW.’
When I returned home late that night
and saw you in the kitchen, you were making scrambled eggs.
You were dressed, you were calm,
your eyes looking straight at me
and you said. ‘Hi Mum, how did the workshop go?’

Raine Geoghegan is a poet, prose writer, playwright and storyteller living in the Malvern Hills. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and Best of the Net. Her work has been published in print and online in many countries and some of her work appears in a documentary film, ‘Stories of the Hop Yards. Her two pamphlets are published by Hedgehog Poetry Press. She is of Romani, Irish and Welsh ancestry. Her first full collection will be published in Marsh 2022 with Salmon Poetry Press.

About Raine Geoghegan & her writing process, influences, and where to find her work

My latest book, ‘they lit fires: lenti hatch o yog’ is a collection of monologues, haibuns, prose
poems and songs. Debjani Chatterjee writes: ‘Each piece is a vignette that tells a story of a
disappearing Romany way of life. Raine Geoghegan has captured fleeting moments and
expressed them in a language that rings sharp and true.’ This endorsement stresses the fact
that we Romany people are fiercely holding onto to our culture, our traditions and history. I
bring members of my family to life by giving them a voice in the form of monologues or
songs. I like to think that the reader will be transported into the world of the Romany and that
they learn something in the process. I hope the reader is informed and discovers aspects of
the Romany culture when reading this book.
After having my first book published, ‘Apple Water: Povel Panni’ and being humbled by its
success and popularity, it sold like hot cakes, I was keen to write something a little different
although still keeping close to the Romany theme. Mark Davidson, my publisher at
Hedgehog Poetry Press liked the idea that I presented so I began bringing together work I had
already finished as well as writing new pieces. My ancestors are larger than life and I was
inspired by their strengths. I knew that I wanted to continue writing about them. A few things
happened while I was drawing on certain characters in my family. I would read the
monologues aloud as I wrote them. Once a bell rang when I was reading a monologue based
on my granny. There was only my husband and I sitting in the kitchen, the bell was on a table
in the hallway. It rang loud and clear and I had a shiver down my spine. I like to think it was
my granny letting me know that she liked what I was doing.
I wrote on and off as a child and as an adult but I never became serious about it until I started
my Masters degree in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. Since I graduated I
have not stopped writing and my work is constantly embracing new ideas and forms. I like
the monologue as a form, it resonates with the part of me that loves to perform. Having
worked as an actor for many years it comes as no surprise. I also write plays and am working
on new material which has a certain theatrical element to it.
There are a number of writers and poets that I am drawn to. I’ll start with Vasko Popa who
for me is one of the finest poets ever. His work is mainly imagistic and it literally comes alive
on the page. I am inspired by his depth of imagination as was Ted Hughes who wrote the
forward for Popa’s Collected Poems, Hughes is another poet that I love. Dylan Thomas is a
poet that I return to time and time again mainly for his musicality and the use of language and
story. I am from the Welsh valleys so feel akin to his sentiments. I adore Seamus Heaney,
who doesn’t? I like to read his poetry when I am stuck. It helps me to re-focus. Now for the
women. W. S. Merwin must be mentioned. Sappho is a poet that never fails to enlighten me.
Her words hang in the air and I love reading them aloud. Ann Michaels writes so eloquently
and touches my soul. I heard her read at Ledbury Poetry Festival around five years ago and
loved listening to her as her Canadian accent seemed to enrich her poetry. Sujata Bhat was
also reading and I fell in love with her poetry too. She uses such vivid imagery and her work
is a mythology in itself. Louise Gluck is fantastic and I will never tire of her. Papusza, a
Romany poet walks with me but sadly there are only a small amount of poems that have been
translated into English. Songs of the Roma is electrifying. Others are Ruth Padel, her book,
‘The Mara Crossing’ is brilliant, Chase Twichell, Mimi Khalvati and many more. I’d also
like to mention the publishers who are introducing us to some very fine poets these days such
as Nine Arches, Seren, Salmon Poetry Press, and of course Hedgehog Poetry Press.
I like to draw and paint a little. I love the freedom of sketching and there have been a number
of times when this has inspired a poem. I love Nature and am often inspired by big skies, the
Malvern Hills, the running water which is freely available from the wells. My acting
experience and my love of reading plays has inspired me in relation to writing monologues
and filmic poems.
My writing process is a mixture of things. I always have a notepad by my bed as I am often
inclined to get ideas late at night or early morning. I jot them down and then later in the
afternoon I work on them. I also hear voices, not in terms of me going mad but a gentle voice
encouraging me to write about a specific person. I love it when this happens as it takes me
right into the heart of a certain character. I write longhand first then I move onto the computer
and play around with the form. There are times when I decide to write about a certain event
or topic and I will go onto research it and just be with it for a while. I try not to force ideas. I
also try not to rush. I like to take my time and to also give events or happenings space. I’ve
not written about the Pandemic, I haven’t wanted to. Maybe in the future when it has settled I
might but in my mind it’s too raw, I can’t really process it yet.
I have to say that my Romany family have influenced my Romany poems, especially my
granny, mother, great grandparents, grandfather and also my Welsh family who are gadje
(non Romany). Other influences are the Welsh Valleys, the Malvern Hills and Herefordshire
where my family used to pick hops.
The most rewarding part of the writing process is reading it aloud once it’s all fallen into
place, that sense of completion and new life. The most frustrating part is when I just can’t
pull the words and images that I know are lying just inside my brain. I then leave it and let it
compost and usually when I return to it those words and images are there. I do still have a
few poems that have not been so fortunate. They still sit in a folder somewhere not seeing the
light.
My creativity has not been adversely affected by the happenings of this year, instead I have
been busy writing, performing, teaching. It’s been a wild year. I’ve had offers of work and a
large number of my poems have been published. I worked with a New York Theatre Producer
on a script for a musical. My play was performed live on Zoom and was streamed all over the
world. However, I have had illness and my emotions have been all over the place. I feel that
my creative output has helped me to deal with these aspects. I have picked up on the
collective fear but I have tried my best to live each day in a mindful way and to give thanks
for all that I have.
Website – rainegeoghegan.co.uk
Twitter – RaineGeoghegan5
Apple Water: Povel Panni & they lit fires: lenti hatch o yog are both published by Hedgehog
Poetry Press and are available from my website. Many of my videos and readings are
available online, just google my name. Raine Geoghegan, BA Hons, MA, Dip RWTA – I am a member of The Society of Authors & Lapidus.

Saint Sara-Kali In the Shrine at Saintes Maries de la Mer by Raine Geoghegan

Saint Sara-Kali In the Shrine at Saintes Maries de la Mer

milling in the doorway

                        we wait for a glimpse of you

shuffling our feet, craning our necks

                       we wait, but then

over heads, between raised arms, hands clenching lit tapers

                        your face, marble black,

a slant of sunlight falling into your eyes,

                        bringing you to life.

Sainte Maries de la Mer (Gypsy festival)

photo by Chris Thomson