What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? — It’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies. Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Jack Fell Down
My first husband broke his neck
I had a bottle of Jack
Just after he fell down the stairs
Then they asked me for a eulogy.
I said, “Well, he wrote three novels
And he never published a thing
He didn’t trust me for a minute
But thank you for calling.”
My daughter wept, and I made her laugh
She hadn’t spoken to him for years
I said, “Well, isn’t that just typical?
Gone in the blink of an eye!”
They asked me for a eulogy
And I suggested Jack Kerouac
He never really did look back.
You’ll be brushing out a brood mare’s tail While the sun is ascending And I’ll just be getting home with my reel to reel There’s no comprehending — Joni Mitchell, Coyote
You’re Not Mine
A coyote does not hide in sunshine
Behind mirrors and angles
Biding his time
But like a coyote you are self-contained
And you lope and you saunter
And you play your game
You appear to be wanted
You follow the crowd
You remember me slightly
But then not at all.
I dress you to play
At a cattleman’s ball
I watch you smile
And I watch them fall
No regrets coyote
It always ends this way
With a sideways glance
As you’re walking away
I never believe
A thing that you say
I’m living with the dead anyway.
I thank you for breaking
My heart one more time
I like your dance
And I like your style
I see it coming
For a desert mile
And I open the gate
And goodbye again
I’ll see you again
Every once in a while.
Bio: Elizabeth Cusack is a recovering actress. Ever since playing Rhoda Penmark in “The Bad Seed” as a child, deservedly, she has endeavoured to keep up her end of the bargain. Elizabeth has been blessed with the best of teachers over the years, mostly from the school of hard knocks. She has championed and performed in fringe theatre in America. Elizabeth edits her favourite poet while not otherwise inspired by her muse to write.
The sagacious poetess “Helen Laycock” needs no introduction. She has shown varied phizzogs in her writings, all influential to make the readers submerge deeply in them.
In this book, the poetess has filled her certain set of poetries in a cell, and each cell is followed by a quote.
The poetess in this book has expressed different feelings and has stated different circumstances through nature using personifications, metaphors, and similes.
It is always said, “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.” Some poetries describing beauties of others unfurl the magnificent beauty lying in the eyes of the poetess, showing a few glimpses seen by the beautiful eyes of this poetess from one of the poetries “Dragonfly” below:
when you alight
on the fence,
your oiled magic”
“wings silver-strutted veils”
The poetess has created some poetries as frames, each inserting a picture of death, some pictures are of tragic death that can strike the hearts of sensible readers to bloody tears, one such tragic death can be seen in her poetry “Wisdom,” in one of the frames, the death in the picture is a ravenous vampire standing on the threshold, this picturization is in her poetry “Wolf.”
Quoting below a few stanzas from the poetry “Wisdom”:
“Once white under
a bright moon,
ghost of dusk,
the love-faced barn owl,
will soon be a husk,
its flight forever silent,
its round light shuttered,
You fired, you goon.”
The poetess is the light in the darkness in some of her poems. This can be cited from the following stanza from her poetry “Virus” in which she acted as a pearl diver by taking out positive aspects from all the negativities of the world:
“Two still worlds
as nature unfurls
on the peopleless stage.
Softly, it heals,
waiting for the creep
of gentle feet
and the whisper
of heartfelt promises
now we understand.”
Apart from acting as a pearl diver, she has also acted as a live painter by painting beautiful poetries based on her keen observations. Showing below one of the live paintings “Pinked” drawn by the poetess:
“In the shimmer of sunset on rippling lakes
a flamboyance of flamingos
are blushing lilies.”
The poetess in some of her poetries has also worked as a boatwoman by propelling personifications in her rivery-poetries. The words of the poetess Gabriela Marie Milton “A banquet of candles floods the streets” from her poetry “Professions” in her book “Woman: Splendor and Sorrow: Love Poems and Poetic Prose” fits to be used as a metaphor for the beauty of these rivery poetries.
Quoting below a few stanzas from a few rivery poetries:
“The light begins to slumber,
and the rosy windows kindle,
and the water strokes the barge
with soothing calm.”
“Gulping its way down the valley
of her slanted palm,
a tawny brush sweeps and drags,
sags between finger and thumb,
for inspection and settlement.”
“Little glinting messengers,
“Wind breathes fragile waves
into saffron dunes”
However, the poetess has also swelled a few rivery poetries with pride by hoisting the flag of the glorious victory. This swelling is influential to motivate the readers to remain optimistic proving that the poetess is a light in the darkness. Showing the swelling in the following stanza from the poetry “Focus”:
“Grey armour succumbs,
curls into a shot pellet,
rolls into the treasure trove”
The poetess has also worked as an intimacy director in her poetries “Tomorrow’s Bonfire” and “Moon Eyes.”
The poetry “Tomorrow’s Bonfire” shows physical intimacy. Her direction to her words is influential enough to make the readers visualize as if they are watching an erotic movie, showing the teaser of this erotic movie below:
“She bends her neck and gazes through the dark.
Her curling tongue begins its careful sweep,
maps contours, sampling the bond.
The slippery mass, inert, lies in a pool,
as limp as his discarded sodden shirt.”
The poetry “Moon Eyes” depicts emotional intimacy, quoting the following words glittering with emotional intimacy:
“we were together,
in our eyes
like lucky pennies
in the darkness”
The poetess has also worked as a tailor by beautifully sewing the metaphors and similes in her poetries like a sequin on a cloth. Showing a few sequins below:
“blanch wintry night”
“frail as moon-thrown lemon-barley light”
breaks a hole
in the chalky sky,
they are lit
falling like chiffon festoons”
wrap up in overlapped, buttonless macs,
peering over their collars like spies.
Some are the discarded gloves of thieves,
balled-up leather in untidy pairs.
They drape: grey, collapsed umbrellas
broken by the windy commute
and flung onto pegs.”
The poetess, on the one hand, has urged her readers to embrace the beauty of nature and interact with nature in a few poetries and has also paid tribute to nature in her poetry “Earth Mother” while on the other hand has shown nature’s inhospitable attitude in the poetry “Pines” which is commendable.
This is a mesmerizing book for those wise poetic souls who are nature lovers and have beautiful hearts with a good sensibility as well as sensitivity.
Bios (Helen Laycock and Spriha Kant):
Poetess and storyteller, Helen Laycock’s writing encompasses poetry, microfiction, flash fiction, short stories, plays, and children’s novels.
Former recipient of the David St. John Thomas Award, and nominee for the Dai Fry Award, Helen Laycock has been a competition judge and a lead writer at Visual Verse. Her poetry has been incorporated into a U.S. art exhibition and her collection Frame was featured as Book of the Month by the East Ridge Review in 2022.
Most recent publications are in Sun-Tipped Pillars of Our Heart and Afterfeather, both published by Black Bough.
Her poetry appears online and in numerous writing magazines and anthologies such as Popshot, The Caterpillar, Writing Magazine, Poems for Grenfell (Onslaught), Full Moon and Foxglove (Three Drops Press), Silver Lining (Baer Books Press) and From One Line (Kobayaashi Studios).
Imminent publications are The Storms Journal, Issue Two and Hidden in Childhood (Literary Revelations)
Current poetry collections available are Frame, Breathe and 13(poems written in just thirteen words); she is also in the process of compiling several more themed collections.
Laycock’s flash fiction has featured in several editions of The Best of CafeLit. Pieces also appear in the Cabinet of Heed, Reflex Fiction, The Beach Hut, the Ekphrastic Review, Serious Flash Fiction, Paragraph Planet, An Earthless Melting Pot (Quinn) and Lucent Dreaming – whose inaugural flash competition she won. She was longlisted in Mslexia’s 2019 flash fiction competition and her work has several times appeared in the Flash Flood as part of National Flash Fiction Day.
She is currently compiling a second volume of microfiction, Ink Spills, to complement Wind Blown, a collection which came about because of the Twitter #vss365 challenge.
She has also written several short story collections as a result of competition success.
These fall distinctly into one or other of the categories, Dark or Light…
Formerly a teacher and a writer of educational text, Helen’s children’s fiction is suitable for readers of 8+ The stories are mainly mysteries, but a bit of humour has crept in, too, with a new book about to make an appearance shortly. You can find out more on her children’s website.
Spriha’s poetry “The Seashell” was published online at Imaginary Land Stories.
The poetries of Spriha have been published in four anthologies, including, “Sing, Do The Birds of Spring”, “A Whisper Of Your Love”, “Hard Rain Poetry: Forever Dylan”, and “Bare Bones Writing Issue 1: Fevers of the mind”.
Spriha has done five book reviews, including, “The Keeper of Aeons” by Matthew MC Smith, “Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow” by Jeff Flesch, “Washed Away: A Collection of Fragments” by Shiksha Dheda, “Spaces” by Clive Gresswell, and “Silence From the Shadows” by Stuart Matthews.
Spriha has collaborated on the poetry “The Doorsteps Series” with David L O’ Nan.
Spriha has been a part of the events celebrating the launches of the books “Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow” by Jeff Flesch and “As FolkTaleTeller.”
Spriha has been featured in interviews, including, “Quick-9 Interview” on feversofthemind.com and “#BrokenAsides with Spriha Kant” on thebrokenspine.co.uk.
Spriha has been featured in “Creative Achievements in 2022” on thewombwellrainbow.com.
I watched from the sides
tucked under countless souls
every shade of flesh
dimpled and sinewy
bent beauty in these tortured limbs
begging to be forgiven
pushing to the front line
as not to be overlooked
My lover and I tight knot
step over torn and broken wings
masses of angels swarm like hornets
try to decode dark and light
try to recall what Jesus said
what did he say?
something like thirst
is in the spring of life?
no no - as we are pulled apart in divine separation
To the thirsty I will give
from the spring of the water of life
as I stood on the side
parched and burning
and watched my lover flutter away
with glowing wings
Billy Joel bellows
through the speakers
sausage and peppers
the world is back
as if war and disease never happened
pigeons swoop in
while the homeless still beg
crackheads still lurk
undercut by all the laughter
the short heavyset man
kisses his baby girl a bit too much
a gawky teen lurched over a garbage pale
vomits his kabob
the blonde stringy haired girl
strung out in the last stall
gets hauled out
in an ambulance
after the EMS blasted her nostrils
Still the Ferris wheel keeps moving
within this matrix
Billy Joel still reverberates
among cackling passers by
not one stops
a milk white hand dangles over the stretcher
whirlwinds of people breathing
as the girl hovers
suspended over her dead self
Remember When We Had No Money
We cashed in all our change
for diapers and formula
scoured the car for loose coins
every cent a fiber of survival
every hand me down a gift
items always given to us
to use with kid gloves
and carefully pass on to the next poor soul
we thought we’d never climb out of
with babies on our backs
bills snapping at our Achilles
money dripped in
like an IV
We were on pins and needles
for that IRS check
laughed all the way to the bank
cuz it was pre-spent
Those moments of grit
tested every muscle reflex
certificate awarded to us
for our rogue-ass survival tactic
You and I
we were the circus clowns back then
on the brink of a fire so intense
we didn’t realize we would have burned
the entire lot of us
to smoldering cinders
had we slipped
We look back
cuz we on the peak now
say it was nothing
never that bad
We just shimmied
out of that freak show
yet still the clowns
Because right now - at this very moment
there is some poor sap
inhaling the very dread
I escaped from
that chosen victim’s sadness
fills every cavity
from loin to breast
That pinned heart engulfed in woeful mist
Bio: Donna Dallas studied creative writing and philosophy at NYU’s Gallatin School and was lucky enough to write under William Packard, founder of the New York Quarterly. She has appeared in a plethora of journals, most recently The Opiate, Beatnik Cowboy, SpillWords and Phantom Kangaroo. Donna serves on the editorial team of Red Fez and New York Quarterly.
The jazz hand of the signal
mesmerizes the railway road.
Here desires to be There.
A blue becomes my face.
My tired car punctures the time.
A hiss bleeds out in the air.
I am tired everyday. I am the everyday.
The last roll of the toilet paper
holds the tale of my life, and
the anecdotes of a pandemic sleep syndrome.
I call my friend died last month's first Sunday.
He whispers, "Hear the local train pass.
It plays the wind like God.
The music is God."
An author and a father, Kushal Poddar, works as a journalist. He authored eight books and has been translated into eleven languages across the globe.
Find and follow him at amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet
You can wind my key and make me speak;
make me reveal what I meant at the time.
For I am a clockwork poem – poised for the telling –
a creature in resonance with the envy of weapons.
I am armoured with precision and subtle pledges;
angled with a soft heart, made good with bone.
I sleep one-eyed, behind the shards of palings –
and the billboard clouds of enormous fences.
I will return to my position via the autotomy of time;
discarding whole decades in an easy process.
The key that winds – unlocks the door
and the truth of the poem steps out of its frame.
You will shoulder me proudly – as a trusted stranger,
stumbling with the duty of accepted pursuance;
matching my steps through the space between ages
and settling for adventure in place of doubt.
I will guide you beyond the scope of your peers;
past all experiments and beneath all pretensions.
I will take you to the truth I found in mansions,
and in all the crevices of the passing years.
Your eyes have the energy of the coiling spring –
your mind is the key that turns again.
Turn it to trigger these clockwork poems
and prepare for the dichotomy of a cog’s embrace.
Comfort Poem at SeaTo the memory of Hart Crane. 1899-1932
It cannot be death without a poem –
something to wrap my agony inside before I sleep;
before I rest beneath this vertical tide
that falls away so steep.
Write the words across my sheets –
the billowing pages of unfurled letters
are the only wrappings I can take;
the only sails that will carry me forth,
beyond the chains of a snagging wake.
Can you not just see I want to sleep?
Let the weight of words
carry me down
The Old Skills of Applied Austerity
We live our lives like fugitives in the rough and tumble –
a chanting of souls who fear no evil.
As bathers, without soap or water.
When we are all strewn across the post-apocalyptic chaos,
we, the eternal peasants, will be a revelation to behold.
Accustomed to pain and the simple devotions,
we will teach you all –
you surprised and manicured people.
We will teach you the skills you will need for coping
in the face of a sudden and universal malevolence –
in the jaws of an abyss you refused to revoke.
We live our lives like fugitives in the rough and tumble –
stand aside and we will guide you home.
Purchase Peter's book below:
Bio: Peter Hague has written most of his life and always returned to it, like it was some sort of duty - a way of explaining the world - or testing it. His five books of poetry, including 'Summer With The Gods', 'Louder Prayers' and 'The Momentary Clock' all display a landmark development of his talent - one defined in a period of re-invention which began to take place around 2016. Also available are 'Gain of Function', which is a collection produced during the febrile atmosphere of the pandemic, and 'Hope in the Heart of Hatred': a 'bridge' between his earlier work and the work he is doing now. A number of other books are in production, encompassing both his exciting current work and a revival of his early output, stretching back to the nineteen-seventies. He has finally decided to concentrate his remaining years on a quest to become a voice in poetry. Throughout the preceding decades Peter Hague was a creative director at a number of design and advertising agencies before going freelance. He has also been known as a digital artist, going by the art name of 'e-brink'. There is an e-brink web site displaying many of his creations. Website: https: //www.peterhague.com Twitter: @PeterHague