4 poems from Fevers of the Mind Poets of 2020 by Moira J Saucer

Bearing Witness

I wonder why live in pain, then
know I stay alive to speak of
neglect, earth and man unhinged.

Be warned. I bear witness.
The storms are coming.
They will keep coming

The splendid Monarch butterfly
—and her host the bright milkweed plant—
will be harried by man’s assaults.

The bee poisoned in its
sacred act to pollinate will disappear—
and man and beast starve and perish.

Be warned. I bear witness.
The waters are swelling.
They will keep swelling.

The once abundant shining fish,
glorious food, dying in toxic seas
or strangled, trapped in plastic.

The thirsty earth, its droughts and flames
Grifting black ash, consuming towns,
and homes, scourging lives, histories.

Be warned. I bear witness.
The squalls are rising.
They will keep rising.

I have seen nature unbound.
The furious winds are bearing down.
Wake up, will you—with me, now?

Be warned. I bear witness.
The storms are coming.
They will keep coming.


An Atlantic Cold Front Grips the Peninsula

The water’s summer sheen has turned
dull as unwashed glass,
waves cresting only to flatten
against the seawall,
overburdened by wind.

The man who walks the shore each morning,
a reddened sailor schooled in the coast’s whims,
gives in,
benches himself near the wall.

From a house on our block
my mother cries,
“God nothing more. Give me no more.”
And no one comes running to find her,
the way some surround a sea turtle,
its flippers rigid,
stuck in the rock’s crevices.


A Lifetime
for David Scott

You with your bright grin, the way you
read Yeats’ “The Second Coming.
The way you chewed your pencil,
while writing a poem. My heart in flames.
Your wild, wiry corkscrew
curls spiraling on your forehead.
Your I-don’t-care camouflage pants,
crumpled shirts and tees, scuffed shoes.
Girls were wild for you.

Hitch-hikers cross country– on a
road trip–you proposed in Texas.
I refused, not saying it was the drinking.
They raised me not to tell the truth.
You wanted a child, but mother
warned me of a life of struggle.
Her crying mother, drunk father.
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
The fire, my rushing blood: we were life.

I went to grad school, studied hard.
You went to Seattle, milked cows.
I dreamed of you among forests,
the roaring winds, the shaking trees.
You wrote — I ignored your letters.
I can’t find you now.
The fire burned incandescent.
Our blood as one, once but not forever.
It was still a life of struggle.

Origins, at Sixty-Five

It began as sand in my shoe, this love,
an irritant—hard, gritty, abrasive,
inconvenient, a demand. I shook the
grain out into my hand, ancient yet bright,
polished and buffed by the seas. I witnessed
creation, the universe expanding,
heard your promise – “I am always with you”
I put my full weight down now, held up by
love which you spread before me, heavy and
soft, undulating dunes of sand, a fine
carpet, brightest hues, prismatic glitter.
The violet dawn, spears of an awakened sun.

Moira J Saucer @MJSEyesOpened is a disabled poet and visual artist living in the Alabama
Wiregrass. She is the Managing Editor of Ice Floe Press, and holds an MFA from the
University of Arkansas, (Fayetteville) Creative Writing Program and an MA in English from
the University of Delaware. Moira worked for nearly two decades as a p.r./communications
executive and professional writer editor. Her poems have been published by Burning House
Press, Visual Verse, Mookychick, Fly on the Wall Poetry Press, Failure Bailer, Ice Floe
Press, and others. Her debut collection, tentatively titled The Hungry Heart, is forthcoming
in 2021 from Ice Floe Press

3 new poems by Charlotte Oliver “Nobody Knew” “As Perseus” & “You May Write Me Down in History”

Nobody Knew

Nobody knew that deep within her
there lived a tiny bird.

She felt its wing against her sternum
the tips of its thrumming feathers
on the dull xylophone of her ribs.

Sometimes the fluttering was so fast
she felt as if it was trying to escape
the protection of its bony cage
and she wondered what would happen if it burst out –
where would it fly to and
how would it survive?

The gentle rhythm of pedaling her bike through an – orange Autumn day
seemed to calm it
and it fell asleep entirely when
she rocked her babies close
or listened to his snores in the velvet silence
of the night.

As Perseus

Time passes and my careful choice of tools
(pen, inclination, mood)
is cast aside
replaced by bare hands,
fingernails grow filthy
clawing through layers of life
to deep memories
dead skin cell chrysalids, paper-thin, unused.
Some I smile to view,
others even now are pink raw-nerved, best left until
time has scarred skin over double-thick.
My experience
a stretched wide ribbon
of textures, smells and sounds,
now framed and gallery-hung,
I pass by like a visitor,
stand and stare, find details
I’ve never seen before.
I force my gaze through taut surface into frozen moments of happiness and pain,
a surgeon opening my own heart,
and am surprised by how much more I can stand
and how strong I feel to shape them afresh with scoured words
barbed wire tears help me
to better feel the soft warmth of
gentle-pillowed peace.

You May Write Me Down in History

(first line from Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise)

You may write me down in history
and my averageness
will strike a discordant note/clang in the harmony
of greatness
like a stone in a sieve of sunset lentils,
or the grit in a glowing sea of pearls
without which
they would not be there at all.

You may write me down in history,
a brown crumb of Christmas pudding
in a pile of shiny coins,
immortalised for keeping the house quite clean,
feeding others adequately,
being satisfactory,
no prize specimen,
rarely picked
but necessary
so others can shine brighter.

Perhaps if you write me down in history
others destined for the middle
will be glad to see that their lives
have precedents,
connections
and are necessary colours for the spectrum.
They can be satisfied
and not have to chase
a dream.

Wolfpack Contributor: Charlotte Oliver

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Charlotte Oliver

Bio: Charlotte Oliver is a writer who lives in Scarborough, Yorkshire. She was the commissioned poet for BBC Radio York’s Make a Difference campaign and her work have been published widely. She has poems upcoming in Cape Magazine’s Bitches Get Stuff Done, Green Teeth’s Yorkshire Anthology, Black Bough’s Winter edition and Ice Floe’s Pandemic Love Anthology.
She tweets at @charlotteolivr

2 poems by Maxine Rose Munro in Fevers of the Mind Poets of 2020 “Some Things Cannot Be Mended” & “The Last Strawberry”

Some things cannot be mended

Down at the bottom of the garden something moves.
I peer, intent; face brushes cold glass so close
I’m looking, and there! seen by the movement
not the still – two deer.

My face hard against window pane, breath short,
longing, fogging up around nose and open mouth.
The deer, though, are contained, content; until
I’m seen! and bolt! white tails bob.

Later investigations reveal a little some sort of pine tree
that yesterday was Christmas come early
dressed up in frost, one I have adored so much
these last few years,

has been stripped bare; it is beauty broken.
And even as I plan protective fencing, I know
some things cannot be mended.
My heart thumps too hard.


The last strawberry

Mid-November in the northern hemisphere
and a strawberry holds on, ready to snatch colour
out of a sky that sulks and skulks, grey glowering over
such a small, so nearly red, surface.

Bitter winds push it. A swaying, juicy pendulum,
inaccessible to slugs, its neighbour above stillborn,
brown, and quite, quite dead.
And the plant it sprung from holds on also.

Leaves green where others have wrinkled to beige,
it fights to give everything to a fruit out of season,
putting it all into a gamble that might
just have been played too late.

Bio: Maxine Rose Munro is a Shetlander adrift on the outskirts of Glasgow. She writes in both English and her native Shetlandic Scots, and is widely published in the UK and beyond, both
in print and online, including in Acumen; Ink, Sweat and Tears; and Southlight. Find her here
http://www.maxinerosemunro.com

photo by Allec Gomes (unsplash)

3 poems from M.S. Evans from Fevers of the Mind Press Anthology

Cicadas Said Kaddish

I tried to give The Universe a nudge,
packed a few boxes.
Just things we could do without:
tchotchkes, reference books.

I needed to prepare for something.

Now boxes with no destination
line the hall, reminds me of
late summer in Chillicothe,

packing up Suzanne’s life:
her cherrywood pipe, the glass eye
of a man she’d wanted,
a pistol, and love of books.
I herded together
stray tarot cards; a psychic’s closure.

Cicadas said Kaddish with mermaid sisters,
beautiful creatures from LA,
beached in a second-floor apartment
alongside cardboard shells.
All of us out of our element.

I padded the painted urn,
crumpled newspaper, back page sex ads
(to make her laugh).
An outer layer of t-shirts;
¼ of her ashes formed the
nucleus of my bag.

Still, I return seashells to The Pacific,
smooth stones from her pocket.

What comes next?
Her altar will be the last thing I pack.

Cedar Park, Seattle

How can you be nostalgic for a dirt hill
and cruel boys,
but they were the only boys I knew.
Twilight, hunting rats in an empty lot.

Before Mr. Coffey lost his house
to a Starbucks exec.

Red Cedars, hemlocks,
kept watch, with nodding heads.
Dark green, the color of
patience.

Only the boys were allowed to sled
down Sunrise Hill.
I didn’t want to, but
felt I should.

Sometimes people on horseback rode by;
enough to make me wonder
about time.

At the top of the hill,
The Tootsie Roll Lady gave
just one a day,
if you asked nicely.

Pops Jones let me roller skate
on his driveway. Said,
girls can go to college now.
I didn’t want to, but
wish I had.

The old apple trees still grow there,
but I can’t pick ‘em.
I had assumed their pale fruit
my birthright.

After a Wedding

The welders moved in unison,
leaving behind the pier.

Wordless and smudged
they approached me.

Searching stained pockets, on beds
of pink and black palms,
they revealed gold rings.

A journeyman knows to cherish.

Bio: M.S. Evans is a visual artist and Pushcart nominated poet living in Butte, Montana. Her work has appeared in Black Bough Poetry, Ice Floe Press, Versification, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Green Ink Poetry, among others.

Twitter: @SeaNettleInk Instagram: @seanettleart

photo by Karsten Winegeart (unsplash)

5 featured Poems by Kerry Darbishire

Living on Dreams

Beyond the sitting boulder he stoops
aching into the storm-flushed beck,
picking out bits of quartz for luck –
giants’ teeth sheered in battle.


She hears the dogs scratting in the yard,
boot scrape at the kitchen door – Sam
wrapped in a scarf of moss and bracken
rubbing and whistling into cracked hands
his face the colour of Eden valley stone.


Over steaming porridge, dogs tangled
at his feet breathing like dragons,
he bursts to tell her how, in one night
turf pocketed all the hazel nuts,
how buzzards above hedges of mist cried

like feral cats, how rowans dripped
blood beads to a handful of fieldfare,
how ash and haws have risen like Birnam Wood –
outnumbered gorse, how he’ll set to in Spring
fix gutters, mend wall gaps.


In learned silence she takes his jacket,
shakes out the creased year,
smell of swollen river, spoor, seeds, thorns,
and hangs it back on the door
pockets full.

Without Thinking

I’m not thinking
about walking along the book-lined hall,
holding the warm bakelite handle,
opening the door to her bedroom
aged in Lily of the Valley.


Not thinking about taking seven steps
across dark-glossed boards to draw back curtains,
gaze at herons statued to the river, nuthatches
nesting in a box grown high
and mossed in the apple tree

and a stoat scurrying his route across the lawn
that is no longer there, the jay returning
frost after frost to a bare table, giddy dogs racing
through the remains of a gate lost in woods
where I wanted picnics and games to last.


And through the slower notes
playing out this evening’s sunlight
that will settle a while in the same oak branches,
burn the same stretch of water to gold
before the clear press of a dancing moon,

I’m trying not to sink below cold ground
where snowdrops are nudging towards the surface,
towards the sound of a mother
calling children in from a winter garden
and without thinking, turning round.

Old Photo

Where the fold breaks your face from head to chin
sea swells to a rocky shore below Connemara.
A pink skirt drips thrift and shells listening
to skylarks above a deep porch
where you stand arms wide as a sail
hugging me in to search
for tobacco-thick jumpers, letters unsent, tea cold
and staining the kitchen table.


This is not just a photograph
my father’s smile, me running to the swing
of big bones honed by the bay, his eyes
wise as harvest moons pitched in waves –
summers rolling out rolling back
on the mantelpiece – filling a gap.

Wasted

He’d signed in pencil on the inside sleeve
in a stained book I rescued from a damp box.
Origins of Some Naval Terms
an account of ranks, uniforms,
pay and punishment at sea.


I sunk my nose into pale amber pages
everything beginning with T,
tonnage, touch-and-go, to try
and he did but never quite managed
to heave to in Mum’s new world

after hauling in the drowned
off Crete night after greedy night.
Cast onto civvy street, he drifted –
scraped along on West End bit-parts
and snifters in dreary afternoons.


I was Dad’s favourite during his hopeful visits home.
Curled into his loose jumper
smelling of lanolin and Navy Cut,
I held his warm salt-cracked hands
and ate his perfectly fried eggs.

One Saturday evening he took me for a treat;
happy with chips and Vimto on the bench
outside the Golden Rule, I waited and waited
until he emerged – pitched against the glass door skin-wrecked,
strange hands on the wet street.

Notes in Lemon Juice

We didn’t say I love you then out loud
inside the turkey shed opposite the hotel.
Too scared to tell
we sneaked under the stone arch
and crawled along the inky tunnel
scraping our hands and knees
to reach the straw-filled hovel, dragging candles,
paper stolen from Dad’s desk, and lemon juice.
The book said how to write the thoughts
that gathered and smouldered in our pillows
the winter through – feelings we couldn’t make visible.
We learned to stroke out letters blind and shaking
one by one. Outside slate roofs flamed,
that July when rain forgot to rain.

Bio February 2021
Kerry Darbishire lives on a Cumbrian fellside. Since her mentorship with poet in residence Judy Brown at the Wordsworth Trust in 2013, her poems have appeared in poetry magazines and anthologies including Artemis, Obsessed with Pipework,
Birmingham Journal, The Dawntreader, Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat & Tears, Mslexia, Fanfare, Ver Poets, Ware Poets, Forward, The Alchemy Spoon, Finished Creatures, The Unpredicted Spring. She has won and been highly commended in competitions including: Aurora Writing East Midlands, Canterbury, Plough Prize, Settle, The Grey Hen, Mslexia, The Charles Causley, Norman Nicholson Society,
Borderlines, Folklore. Kerry has two collections: A Lift of Wings and Distance Sweet on my Tongue published by Indigo Dreams and the story of her mother, ‘Kay’s Ark’ published in 2016 by Handstand Press. She is a member of the Brewery Poets, Dove Cottage and Write on the Farm. Her new and third collection jointly won the
Hedgehog Press Full Fat Collection prize, and will be published in 2022.

Notes on above poems:
1. Living on Dreams – Published in own collection: Distance Sweet on my Tongue. Indigo Dreams.
2. Without Thinking – Published in own collection: Distance Sweet on my Tongue. Indigo Dreams.
3. Old Photo – Published in own collection: Distance Sweet on my Tongue. Indigo Dreams Publishing.
4. Wasted – Published in own collection: A Lift of Wings. Indigo Dreams Publishing.
5. Notes in Lemon Juice – Published in own collection: Distance Sweet on my Tongue. Indigo Dreams.


Twitter: @kerrydarbishire

featured photo by Jack B (Unsplash)