5 Poems by Ankh Spice : That which can be made visible, Hold the river, Feeding the koi, Act like you were never for sale, & Hathor’s gift

*From the Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020*

All of the poems that follow first appeared in their original, unedited forms on the WombwellRainbow blog. Thank you to Paul Brookes for curating with such care, and the artists (Mary Frances Ness, James Knight, and Sue Harpham) who provided images for the month-long ekphrastic challenge which inspired them

That which can be made visible *

Sun’s first sleep-breath
sweets the dropped shoulder

of Te Puia o Whakaari, her bones
in early mistlight all grace

and delicate pickings, gulled
clavicles of a hard dancer, stilled

Coiled tension is resting. It is hard
to recognise a haunting

in the rose-gilt of a sunrise. Do you know
her name, when you recognised it

did you forget to exhale? Release
your living now to cloud

the pane we do not see – deep
scratches creep across this vision.

The guardians are always here to remind you –
this light, it may change any moment.

*(In memory of those lost in the eruption of Whakaari on 9 December 2019. One translation
of the te reo Māori name of this volcano forms the title of this poem)

Hold the river

You told me you haven’t been outside in 57 days
and tonight the river is a dropped ribbon, limp and lost
and the sharp stones of the trail as I begin to run
become the sound of something chewing. The faster
we go, the faster we’re eaten. You are moving,
in the lines of your confinement, so slowly now
you’ve become a painting in my head – static –
existing never to be touched. And in the guilty, lucky air
down here we’re starting up the engines
and on my knees in the soft mud I can hear the first plane
for months, idling beyond the water. I’d wish
you were here, but the wind is whipping up cold,
and the coming dark is frantic
with sudden birds, woken startled
from their neat new nests along the runway.

Feeding the koi

You save the crusts from the good brown loaf,
not truly stale, but tired. On your early walk

through the city gardens, there is a patient round mirror
to crumble them into, and in it an unfamiliar creature,

folded and loose in his aspect. He watches you from the water.
You have never met his eyes, although you sense they are kind.

This morning, autumn has nodded last orders at the trees
and the ember of the squalling sun catches

a plume at his throat, and his blur blushes bright — young
with reborn flame. In the dry world the wind arrives

to spread the blaze outwards in ripples
from the man standing, the man lying, with his hands full

of burning bread, and when the fish surface
their mouths make round holes in his body.

In one tiny circle after another the fire
goes out. Cool water — O O O —

welling dark and smooth
from the gut. It was always the truth.

What feeds on us that steals our fire.
What we feed to remember what we are.

Act like you were never for sale

On those days we were flutter and varnish. Time blown
on the tradewinds — toys for the updraft, downdraft, too hard

and brittle-bright for any landing but the spurt and gasp
of applause. And on those days we painted the unspeakable

feelings, the ones that never made it
into the script, on hot ripe faces with palmed-

palm-sugar and unguent-of-anthers, and on those days
those same faces slipslid their gaudied eyes and touched their cheeks

together intimately, brief and baked electric with proper unsaids, and on and on
arced those spat-out days when the electric that moved us

moved us wet with big colour in that little pond of footlights
all thrashing pick me from the swirl of young eels, him so slender, her good

bright needle-teeth, and on those days company meant
only that we played together well, that even the most badly bitten didn’t drop

a word or miss a step, or when they did the faces they’d loved-by-painting bled
laughter tainted kindly, and not yet like they smelled a life dripping away

into the water or as if they’d finally bumped against the glass, seen the strings
of our dangling tags, and some of that last part

is a lie. But who doesn’t want to lie just as pretty
as something made to end up in a prettier box, for now

sticky with the ghosts of fertile anthers, and so we bite
into recall again and again, this cake now invisible on the pink plastic

saucer so sweet, so sweet and fallen to bits
in the grass. And these days we know the magic

poured out of that flimsy doll’s teapot’s more real
than you’ve been in your life. Don’t ever act

like it didn’t — like it doesn’t —
make you sick.

Hathor’s gift

Last night you called me from the bottom of a well
and I pictured the signal between us as a rope ladder
woven from a bunch of old strings attached. A bit frayed,
this connection, and this wry analogy, but both holding together
just enough for you to see the ladder a little bit more clearly
than you were seeing the rope. And I don’t care if we’ve not spoken
since before the world cracked its lid, I’m just grateful
I still look like some kind of stick when the alligators
find the ass. Often it’s hard to respect the tree in someone who’s fallen
in an indifferent swamp, over and over, they think
that makes you soft wood. But it was you who told me Hathor
kicked out the crocodile god even though she was
at least partly a cow. I bet they underestimated just how fierce
a prey animal waxes when her herd is in the dark
and feeling the closing teeth. I bet they underestimated her
even after she teamed up with the sun itself
and gored the darkness threatening her loved ones on the tips
of her kind, soft horns. Stabbed it until it was striped
with secondhand light, then drowned it
in her milk of most inhuman kindness.

Ankh Spice is a queer-identified, sea-obsessed poet from Aotearoa (New Zealand). Almost 100 of his
poems have been published internationally, online and in printed anthologies, over the last 18
months. He’s been incredibly grateful and a bit astounded to have four poems nominated for the
Pushcart Prize, and two for Best of the Net. His poem ‘New Cloth’ was selected as a winner of the
World View 2020 competition run by the Poetry Archive, and he’s really delighted that the video
recording of him reading this work now appears in the archive in perpetuity, along with readings
from other winners from all over the globe. He’s also very proud that audio recordings of his work
are held in the first wave of Iambapoet, an audio archive of poets reading their own work, created
and curated by Mark Antony Owen.
It’s been a very busy year — Ankh accepted roles as a Poetry Contributing Editor for Barren
Magazine, and as co-editor at Ice Floe Press. He was also a guest reader/editor on EIC Matthew M.C.
Smith’s team for Black Bough Poetry’s Amazon best-seller, ‘Deep Time’ — two volumes of poetry
from hundreds of poets inspired by Robert Macfarlane’s ‘Underland’, and was part of the early
editing team for ‘Black Dogs, Black Tales’, a horror anthology produced in Aotearoa by EIC T Wood,
to raise money for a local mental health charity. He’s also found time to edit innumerable stories for
popular dark-fantasy author C.M. Scandreth (aka his incredibly talented author spouse, Caitlin Spice)
for the NoSleep Podcast, and is grateful to have appeared (in virtual guise) as headline poet at two
sold-out sessions of Cheltenham Poetry Festival.
At the time of writing this, Ankh is also working on several collections of his own poems. One of
these is a collection of his shorter ekphrastic and vividly imagistic work and photography — Ankh
calls these ‘gift poems’ as most of them are uploaded to social media rather than being held for
traditional publication — that’s been picked up by a small indie press as a two-volume deal for print.
Further details will be released in early 2021. He’s also working on a very short volume of poems for
Hedgehog Press’s ‘Stickleback’ series. His larger collection, which was picked up by an independent
press earlier in 2020, but which he withdrew when behaviour damaging to the poetry community by
person/s working for that press was uncovered, is being reworked for re-submission elsewhere. He
very much hopes that 2021 will be the year for this book to make its way into the world.
Ankh’s poetry explores a wide range of themes close to his heart – environmental/climate change,
mental health, identity, queerness, body politics, mythology, natural science, spirituality, ‘the
persistent briefness of being human’, the landscape and environs of Aotearoa and of course, the
ocean. His poetic lens, which often employs strong derealisation and very flexible language that
purposely opens up multiple interpretations, has been described as oracular, reverent, and
visionary, and his poetry has been most often compared to G.M Hopkins and Dylan Thomas. Ankh’s
favourite recent compliment about his work is that it feels like walking a tightrope over the abyss
between two worlds — being forced to look down into the dark but with an awareness that balance
is possible, and that there’s a new place on the other side, beckoning us on. Ankh’s favourite recent
compliment about himself is that he’s a walking Mary Ruefle poem. (With great thanks to Sarah-Jane
Crowson and Julia Beach).
If he’s not out running the coast of Te Whanganui-a-Tara sporting alarming neon and sparkly cat
ears, you’ll find him and his work at:
Twitter: @SeaGoatScreamsPoetry
Facebook: @AnkhSpiceSeaGoatScreamsPoetry
Linktree: https://linktr.ee/SeaGoatScreamsPoetry
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-448322296
Iambapoet: https://www.iambapoet.com/ankh-spice
Poetry Archive: https://poetryarchive.org/poem/wordview-2020-new-cloth/

Feature photo by Ankh Spice

Re-post:Poetry by Neel Trivedi from Fevers of the Mind Press Anthologies

Why the Hate?

I ask a stranger how s/he was born?

From a mother’s womb they say.

Just like I once was.

So why the hate?

I ask a baby what religion is.

To the best of my ability to decipher baby talk,

s/he appears not to know.

Just like when I was a baby,

blissfully unaware of grown-up talk.

So why the hate?

I ask a stranger how s/he communicates?

With a tongue just like mine, they say.

The birthplace of every language, I think.

So why the hate?

I once spilled paint on my arm.

A palette of various colors made habitats on my skin

before leaving during my next shower.

Yet my heart, personality & identity

remained the same throughout.

So why the hate?

I try to form a collective hypothesis of my conversations:

We’re all born the same way & die someday.

Skin color & religion prove to be highly incompetent

to help a heartbeat, lungs breathe & brain cells grow.

So why the hate?

Beauty: A New Definition

For generations the wise ones have said

That beauty is in the eye of the beholder

But time passes, generations evolve

Some simple, some a lot bolder

Some proverbs die

Some new are born

Left to all to choose

Which are progress, which are scorn

Perhaps a similar time has come

To give beauty a new definition

Leaving the beholder out & say

beauty is in the heart of the pious one!

Beyond the Obvious

How the naive think

What abuse means

Perhaps some blue bruises

And a shattered spleen

Such evidence & signs

Are no doubt a fear

But is there no value

Of an isolated tear?

Everyone sees the obvious

Without a look inside

Curse this bloody flesh that makes

The wounded heart hide!

The Invisible Aura

Step into the vortex of my soul

To decode the language

I often speak to myself

Every night when I peel off my mirage

That the sea of gazes around me

surmises to be nonchalance

This is my universe where:

Depression is not a mere mood swing

It’s an actual chemical imbalance

My facial expressions are not always

Gateways to the feelings of my heart

Sometimes they are merely decor

My silence is not a symbol

Of any kind of equanimity

Listen to the aura who’s decibels

Don’t roar like a lion

But squeal like a mouse

Observe the aura that’s the

shy one in the corner

Acknowledge the unfelt emotions

For you may not feel them

But just a moment of your cognizance

Could determine their fate for eons

Soul Whisperer

I come with no ostentation

No glory or cavalcade

For I creep upon this junction

Not to arouse a racket

But to dismember the status quo

I make no proclamations to be

Your knight in shining armor

Or to dry your tears

But to bequeath equity of them

To feast on the salt with thee

I come not to sheath your malformations

But to stand in their gallery

And be a zealot for ages

Of what my heart senses to be

Not wounds but victors of endurance

Think not of me as a paladin

In a quaint fable

But a commoner just to proclaim :

I once bore what you did

 

And hearken the language of your soul

That others have stained as an enigma!

 

The Midas Scratch

 

Lay your fingers on the canvas of my flesh

And scratch till what you carve

Becomes the cynosure attire of my body

Never to be removed

Till the mind in its entirety

Is severed from the bones

Take no heed of any provisional brood

Or waterfalls of blood

For the blemishes will eventually mitigate

But the fable your fingers nurture with love

Will give me an immortal prevalence

To any and all around me!

Playing Along 

After Leonard Cohen’s “Waiting for the Miracle”

When the heart drowns in total despair

I soothe it by telling tall tales

Of an intoxication known as hope

A miracle is coming, says the heart

The mind just plays along

I dance in the name off faith

Even when my feet are numb

Lest I reveal the inner abyss

A miracle is coming, says the soul

The body just plays along

Stay in the slaughterhouse

So, my wounds can blend in

Lie in the rain so tears seem small

A miracle is coming, say the tears

The eyes just play along

So far not a sign

Not even a mere shadow

Or the calm before the storm

A miracle is coming, I say

The miracle just plays along

Neel photo(c) Neel Trivedi

Neel Trivedi is a freelance journalist & in the advertising business in Dallas, TX. He writes poetry & fiction. His work has been featured in Rhythm & Bones Magazine, Drabblez Magazine, Paragraph Planet, Dodging The Rain, Mojave Heart Review, Elephants Never, Chronos Anthology, Rising From The Ashes Anthology and Purpose Magazine. As well as Dailywisdomwords.com  He can be reached on Twitter @Neelt2001   

NEW! The Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020 available in Deluxe Edition, Kindle/ebook, and Split Editions Volumes 1 & 2 on Amazon. An interview with musician Austin Lucas included in Deluxe & Volume 1

The Fevers of the Mind Press has a huge collective of poets, writers, interviews, recommendations & more in the new book https://amzn.to/3sjgWnz (Deluxe edition) https://amzn.to/35EJ8Yl (Volume 1) https://amzn.to/2LyiedF (Volume 2)

Volume 1 includes contributions from myself (David L O’Nan), HilLesha O’Nan, Rob Z photography, Ankh Spice, Catrice Greer, the Poetry Question & Chris Margolin, Jenna Faccenda, Ethan Jacob O’Nan, Icefloe Press, Robert Frede Kenter, Moira J Saucer Darren Demarree, Abdulmueed Balogun, Bradley Galimore, Anisha Kaul, Foy Timms, David Ralph Lewis, Paul Brookes, Sidney Mansueto, Lawrence Moore, Karen Mooney, Jenny Mitchell, Makund Gnanadesikan, James Lilley, Richard Waring, Vern Fein, Ediney Santana, Rachael Ikins, Samantha Terrell, Al Matheson, Ceinwed C E Haydon, Will Schmit, Dai Fry, Barney Ashton-Bullock, M.S. Evans, Megha Sood, Jane Rosenberg LaForge, Matthew M C Smith, Lucy Whitehead & Merril Smith as well as an interview with Americana/Indie/Punk musician Austin Lucas

Volume 2 includes contributions from myself (David L O’Nan) HilLesha O’Nan, Rob Z Photography, Troy Jackson, Book Reviews for Hokis, David Hanlon, Susan Richardson & Norb Aikin, Karlo Sevilla, Steve Denehan, A.R. Salandy, Steve Wheeler, Sher Ting, December Lace, Ken Tomaro, Kushal Poddar, Tan Tzy Jiun, Amy Barnes, Jason DeKoff, Raine Geoghegan, Jim Young, Tim Heerdink, Damien Donnelly, Kristin Garth, Mela Blust, Jackie Chou, Rickey Rivers Jr, David Hay, Kari Flickinger, John Ogunlade, Z.D. Dicks, Julie Stevens, Gayle Sheridan, Wil Davis, Samantha Merz, Iona Murphy, Gerald Jatzek, KC Bailey, Samuel Strathman, Mike Whiting, Peter Hague, E Samples, Ann Hultberg, Jane Dougherty, Michael Igoe, Maxine Rose Munro, John Everex, Lacresha Hall, Kelly Marie McDonough, Gabe Louis, Linda M Crate

Deluxe Edition is over 300 pages and includes all of the Poets, writers, interviews, musicians, photography & more.

Poetry by Arun Kapur

1)
Yo ♥
You know something.
It’s gonna be alright, ya know?
The crooks at the top, try to bring us down.
What they don’t realise is that we are power.
The richest who get everything they desire , even they can’t escape a dance with the reaper.
2)
Codebreaker like a enigma, but even this one will be tough to break.
Words they spew of support, a ”true” love, one they fake.
Darkest of times with their own true reveal.
Allow that love and light in, it will be the answer in our heal
3)
Calling. They are calling.
The system shutting me down.
My smile always there despite a frown.
Silent setting amongst crowded scenes.
Sometimes I’ll try anything survival by any means.
Setting sail swiftly, yearning just to be heard.
The world keeps you trapped like a caged bird.
Some vibes appear true, but shelter their fake, some of us seek attention for false sake.
A hand I put, out for one to reach.
Take me away from this land of poison and leech.
4)If the angels try to take me, I shall let them set me free.
If my time here is up, I will sip my last cup.
If echos tell me no just stay, I will hand you my love to stay protected each day.
Don’t cry for me when I leave this place, as I know gave my all to finish the race.
Art, Photos, Poetry (c)Arun Kapur
Twitter: @Arunkapur47
@lighthousemedia
Arun’s book available on Amazon (UK) The Blindside Memoirs by [Kapur, Arun]