A Fevers of the Mind Poetry Showcase with HilLesha O’Nan

photo by Danica Stradecke (unsplash)
The Rose Garden

 I was the rose garden
that you left unattended.
 I still bloomed despite the weeds
Wild and free,
 I had to find my way through -
the wilderness

Every now and then, a passerby
would stop to admire my beauty.
It was the thorns that
kept others from getting too close-
even to give me water, I thirsted for.
 I suppose I don't mind wailing for the rain
as I have weathered plenty of life's storms.

The Rose Garden II

My dear,
desolated rose
You can't understand this world -
without pain,
but just know
that not everyone abandoned you.

You often let the thorns stand in your way. I tried
reaching out, but I got so tired of standing there -
hoping that you'd see your beauty.
You always said Father Time waited for no one, but I'm not
going to either. Don't let irony get the best of you.
You were always wild and free
So why are you here

in your rose garden?

lollipop Dream

It was a lollipop dream. There
were monsters in their tiny 
castles made of sand and
rattlesnakes with diamond eyes.
The paper tigers chased playfully
while the bears frolicked in the 
daisy fields. It was a lollipop 
dream. Where the sour hid behind a
        sweet facade.

The Funeral Man

No one knows his real name,
but they called him the Funeral Man.
Tall and slender,
with a dead stare, he'd appear
in dreams out of nowhere, in a hearse.
His skin was 
almost shadow-like 
Was he a shadow of his former self?
He kidnapped unsuspecting victims
and then would disappear,
as fast as he had appeared,
leaving a trail of smokey fog -
that didn't lead anywhere.
Who was this creepy -
strange dream drifter
While those who dreamed of
him didn't know who he was,
it was said that his 
arrival meant trouble
was to come.

Unknown #1

Take me back
to that night
on a cold October
I would have held your hand
I would have listened
I would have loved you
I would have danced
with you under the moonlight
and the blanket of stars
would have kept us warm

The Rotten Apple

She had an ugliness
      about her
yet many
  couldn't see it right away -
like a slowly rotting apple.
Bright and wholesome
  on the surface -
you didn't know what was 
underneath her facade
Until it broke down
and she had wormed her way -
to your core.

Unknown # 2

I drank
the delirium
danced with the moon
 and slept
with the wolves.

Unknown # 3

She stares at her reflection in the mirror
Barely recognizing the woman staring back at her.
    Thinning hair
  Time worn skin
Her beauty has faded gradually over the years
like a faded rose petal
dried and pressed -
in the pages of a book long forgotten.

Her memories are no different
Shattered fragments
  sharp and dull
Scattered like broken glass
She then hears music playing at a distance.

"On a dark desert highway
Cool wind in my hair
Warm small of colitas
Rising up through the air"    

A faint smile crosses her lips
To a memory that croons inside her soul
She sways to the music 
and drifts to a time lost 
Yet, not completely forgotten.

 Young, naive, and in love with love
and a childish notion that time was limitless.

I'll Say Goodbye Tomorrow

I'll say goodbye
to everything I ever owned
 I'll let my fingertips brush
against the books I'll never read.

I will look at the pictures
    and smile
I will burn
   the letters
that will never give you solace
the same solace that I needed
     When I was here
I thought I'd call everyone
but I didn't think anyone cared
      to hear.
My voice one last time.

  I wish that I had all of 
the answers and this one
makes the most sense.

I'll be fine and so will you.

The Drunken Ballerina of the Night

The pine trees swayed
     and danced
Whispering a song
     to the night

 A chorus of animals
      sung along
as I drunkenly walked
deeper into the forst
with the moonlight
   being my only guide.

I swayed
I danced
like a drunk ballerina
Singing my own song
       and the crickets
       chirped along.

Past Parades Fade Through All Your Egos

You marched up and down 
the Kentucky roads in your own narcissistic
parade. You waved the red flags,
but no one seemed to notice as they 
caught up your broken boy charm.
No matter how many times I tried
to save you from drowning in your
thought, I always ended up being
the one to blame. You let your folks
talk about me as I was nothing.
Every time there was a problem,
You'd waltz right to your mom's apron 
strings. My feeling was invalid when I 
tried to turn to you.  You turned the
cards around and I was the crazy one.
I always stood alone whenever I stood up
for myself. You let me drown in despair, 
and the one that ended saving me was myself.

2 new poems/writings by HilLesha O’Nan : “In Patagonia” & “These Walls”

Poem/lyrics by HilLesha O’Nan: “The Preacher’s Wife”

Poetry by HilLesha O’Nan : “Small Town Hearts” “Two Wolves” & “Living with the Mirrors”

Poetry about the Pandemic by Lorna Wood

pink petaled flowers

Second COVID Spring, with Azaleas

A year gone by, another spring. 
Again azaleas appear.
We are still behind our glass walls, 
but now our arms are needle-sore, 
our hearts filled with intoxication.

At first glance, nothing could reflect 
our flight from fear to hope better 
than a bank of azaleas 
gaping at us through our windows,
even more riotous than last spring.

But there is something aggressive 
in these crowded, fuchsia blossoms
growing nearer every year,
something that warns against too much hope.

Their glory draws me, but I stand
helpless before their intrusion,
If they are eyes, what do they see?
If mouths, what are they screaming?

I cannot trust their mad joy now.
Yet later, when they are drooping 
pathetically after a storm, 
I will recall with sadness
how brief their frenzy was. 

Bio: Lorna Wood is a violinist and writer in Auburn, Alabama. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in 2% Milk, Angel Rust (Best of the Net nominee), Coastal Shelf, Escape Wheel (great weather for MEDIA), and Poetry South (Pushcart nominee), among others. She has also published fiction, creative nonfiction, and scholarly essays. Find out more at amazon.com/author/lornawood

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Lorna Wood

Hearing “Hallelujah” at the Women’s March, 2017 by Lorna Wood  (poetry for Leonard Cohen Week)

Poetry by Colin Dardis “So You Want to Earn Some Self-Respect”

the x of y: Dardis, Colin: 9781912477142: Amazon.com: Books

So You Want to Earn Some Self-Respect

As a writer,
you learn
how to handle
Oh, they don’t understand it,
they didn’t get it,
they don’t recognise genius
when it’s posted to them, you say,
and then kid yourself
some more.
I know how to take rejection,
I’ve rejected myself many times,
had to choose between myself
and some better person,
a crowd of better people
and I told myself
they are no better,
in a quieter voice
I admitted
something not as sharp as defeat
but dull acceptance
of what had come
to pass.
Yes, I can take rejection,
I have looked in the mirror
and rejected myself
many a morning
and will do so
for weeks and years to come
and then soon
I will stare at the reflection,
I will stare it out until
it bends,
it morphs,
my hard eyes
mould it into
something resembling
a light,
a ray of energy,
at tiger, I will forge self-respect
out of that reflection
and stamp it all over
that bloody, clear,
mocking, clean mirror.
Then I will exhale
and leave the bathroom,
I’ll go write a poem,
a bunch of poems,
muse on them
for a few days,
and then discover
another poetry journal
to send them to,
then the whole sorry,
character-building process
will begin

Bio: Colin Dardis is a poet, editor and sound artist. His work has been published widely throughout Ireland, the UK and USA, and shortlisted for the Erbacce Prize, Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing, and Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Award, amongst others. Previous collections include Endless Flower (Rancid Idols Productions, 2021) The Dogs of Humanity (Fly on the Wall Press, 2019, shortlisted for Best Poetry Pamphlet, Saboteur Awards 2020), the x of y (Eyewear, 2018), Post-Truth Blues (Locofo Chaps, 2017) and Dōji: A Blunder (Lapwing, 2013).

Interview with musician Frank Watkinson

It was a couple of months ago that I was watching videos on youtube for Leonard Cohen, possibly Chelsea Hotel No. 2 and after the song played another version of the song began to play. It was by a man with an accoustic guitar putting his unique interpretation on the song. I dived deeper watching several of his cover songs while with my wife for a couple of hours. He wasn’t just covering folk songs. He had covers of Neutral Milk Hotel, even Slipknot, Death Cab For Cutie, Wilco, the Lumineers & more. I wondered why isn’t this guy more known. He had to have been in bands when he was younger. He has a youtube channel, just him, his guitar, his stories & the most dynamic find of all. He has wonderful original songs. He comes across very humble. He’s done hundreds of cover songs & originals for years & just loves playing music. He’s not looking for fame and money it seems. He’s doing this out of the love of making music.

https://www.youtube.com/user/LOLhi28/featured is Frank Watkinson’s youtube page. Please check his music out & his covers as well.

small interview with Frank Watkinson:

  1. First, I would like to ask how long you’ve been working on your own songs & how do you decide which songs to cover? Frank: I have been writing songs ever since I picked up a guitar, nothing any good, I still don’t think they are that great now but that’s just me , most of the covers I do are requests, I would try anything if asked ,i still do them now but the list exceeds 1500 , so the chances are getting slimmer for those that request them , I was told I should do a Patreon account and people pay for them ,but that would then seem too much like work and i also can’t cover everything ,I’d get stressed out too much ,it’s also not about the money for me I just like what I do right now.
  2. Do you enjoy writing songs more than covers?  What are some of the songs  you’re most proud of? Frank: I think i like writing my own songs because even if they are vague I know the reason I wrote it , I am not good enough a musician to play a cover exact that is why I simplify them , I have always said don’t let your inability stop you from what you enjoy ,you can only get better,
  3. Who have been your biggest influences, or musically who are some of your favorites? Frank: Basically all the older types like Dylan, James Taylor Ralph McTell , it goes on , I like almost anything acoustic ,but i also like a good song no matter what genre .
  4. Does it take you very long to write a song, and do you enjoy the process or feel hurried to get it done? Frank: Some songs take a few days on and off but they are mostly the ones where I came up with a melody first then try to put words to, others can take as little as 20 minutes for the lyrics as they seem to write themselves , then I just put a basic tune on them , it’s the ones that are started and finished in less than an hour that seem to go down the best.
  5.  I have only began listening to your stuff about a month ago, so I haven’t seen every video.  Whereabouts in the UK do  you live?  I have many great poet contributors to my poetry endeavors. It is refreshing to know it still seems relevant unlike in the U.S. as much the arts, the poetry, the music. Frank:  I live in a town called Huntingdon ,about 12 miles from Cambridge.
  6. Have you played in any bands while younger? Frank:  I have never played in a band and i haver never played live anywhere , I have no desire to either ,I’m not a stage performer I dread the thought , sitting at home with a cat and dog as my audience is one thing ,standing up in front of others is another ball game, I just mess around writing or covering a song post it on you tube and set it free , I also have no desire to record them in a studio despite the requests to, I think I’m a what you see is what you get person.
  7. Do you enjoy poetry or particular writers or authors?  I don’t mind listening to the occasional poem but I’m a terrible reader, I struggle to read a book because my mind wanders and before i know it I’ve forgotten what I’ve just read ,thank God for audio books , I can put on headphones and be in another world.
  8.  How were you encouraged to try out the youtube process, and did you use any other internet avenues prior to youtube? Frank: I put some very old songs on Soundcloud to begin with , then one day just to see how easy it was I posted a song on you tube ,easier than I thought so kept on posting , I certainly didn’t plan on the reaction i seem to be getting, I haven’t pushed myself in any way at all , it was supposed to be a bit of fun with one or two subscribers. 
  9. What have been some of your other hobbies growing up? Frank: I honestly don’t think i had any other hobbies ,I used to work almost every hour i could and the only thing I did in my spare time would have been play the guitar for an hour or two.
  10. Have you done much traveling and where are some of your favorite places you’ve visited? Frank: I have done very little travelling abroad ,a few times to Euro Disney with the family , and a visit to Cyprus to see my daughter ,but I do travel all over the UK I like to go to places then leave the main routes and discover places myself.

Just performing songs my way ,nothing too serious, we can’t all be polished professionals but that shouldn’t be a reason not to sing. if you really want to donate then here is a PayPal link ,i’m quite happy either way . https://paypal.me/pools/c/8uPISeE6aB

A Fevers of the Mind Poetry Showcase for John Grey

wooden house grayscale photo

photo by Chris Grafton (Unsplash)

Trailer Life

Eleven at night.
Four squeezed into the living room
watching a tiny black and white TV.

The fifth is outside,
cigarette in one hand,
beer in the other,
leaning against his pickup.
while he and a neighbor
go at it.

"If I see you near her ever again."

"You'll do what."

"You just think you're tough."

"Why don't you try me."

One gets up to adjust the antenna.
Another says, "Get me a beer while
you're up."
The third's half asleep.
The fourth is snoring.

The fifth stumbles in,
his tongue still cussing
behind him.

Door closed.
Everyone's accounted for.
Outside still hums with anger.
The inside sits on blocks.

Three Kids in an Old House

We found this abandoned house
in thick steamy summer woods,
its outer-walls unpainted and rotting,
the roof overgrown and sunk in parts,
every window shattered,
and the front door swelled out of its frame,
cocked to one side.
It was surely haunted, even at high noon,
for the dark air inside
seemed to have nothing to do
with what we had been breathing outside.

Tentative steps took us through the threshold
into a room containing nothing
but an old upright piano.
I ran my fingers down its keys.
For every ringing note,
there were five dull clunks.
The noise scattered cockroaches.

We summoned enough courage
between the three of us
to investigate the kitchen:
a rusty sink, a square of faded linoleum
where a stove had been,
and a small, empty refrigerator,
surrounded by water stains.

The bedroom was a cave of dust and spiders
and a shed snakeskin,
shaped long and slithery enough for imaginations
to shudder at the withering gaze of absent eyes.

We'd seen enough.
That this was once a family home
never entered our minds.
We figured no one ever lives
in such fearful circumstances.
A naive assumption on our part.

The Young Arsonist

He wanted to set the school aflame
but all he could achieve was 
to set fire to the contents 
of a paper recycling bin.

He felt like a ping-pong ball
being battered back and forth
by two different civilization.
Fire, to his way of thinking,

was a citizen of the world.
His parents called him a problem child.
Their parents reckoned him abnormal.
The cops never mentioned rootlessness,

just a warning for the future.
The flames, the heat,
gave little back to him.
The brief happiness seemed futile.

His father lectured him on being
proud of his ancestry, 
added that they only moved 
to this country 

because he couldn’t make 
a living back home.
The boy had been proud of the fire
but his father was right.

It would never be an ongoing concern.
He still wanted to set the school aflame
but he continued to attend classes.
And learning poured water on everything. 

Many Webs on the Trail

Past the lines of the old stone walls,
between two long standing oaks,
the flutter of nerves stops just short of the flutter of web,
strong in the wind, a spider 
holds captured prey as much with its eyes
as any gossamer.

I brush the gnats from my face
but that’s not what changes the mood to savagery,
why it’s suddenly colder, silent,
from the dark core of my brain to my nervous fingers,
my stuttering feet on the trail down to the marsh.
And what of the pathless thicket?
I’m terrified of what might be lurking there.
Ticks, more spiders, snakes…
I’d be such an easy mark.  
No, nature’s not something to rush.
And these filaments across my path
can’t be torn to shreds with the wave of a hand,

The air is chilled. 
The sky is fishing for a way in
between the treetops.
Everything cast shadows.
Not just the pines, the maples.
But the maze of death that flutters before me.

I somehow sneak my way around this web
only to be confronted by more of the same farther along.
For all I know, this could just be one giant construction
spread throughout the Autumn woods.
Half-erased lives cling to its sticky filigree,
maneuvering for a position. for a freedom
that is no longer possible.
It’s their dying that makes the living visible,
their struggle spun across the path ahead
that pulls me back to where my beating heart is waiting.

I crunch on twigs.
The sound is like the snap of carapace.
Blue-jays screech at my presence.
Don’t they know that I’m the good guy here.

Regarding the Afterlife

Last night, in a close gathering of folks
at my apartment, a writer friend
of mine claimed to have all the facts
regarding the afterlife.
"The soul catches the first plane
out of New York for Tibet," he said.
"But the soul's not traveling
to the high country
to make nice with the Dalai Lama.
Being so bodiless,
it's finally able to cash in on
that latent love of winter sports.
Now it can ski down Everest,
skate across the icy plateau."
'"Is there a God," someone asks.
"No," he replies, "only a slalom course
at over twenty eight thousand feet
where the thinness of the air
doesn't bother man's essence in the slightest."
I ask him what such an eventuality
does for all this "meaning of life" talk.
His response was that "the meaning of life
is bobsledding from the top of the world
down to its very pits
only without a bobsled."
"But what about religion?" somebody asked.
"Religion is a bobsled," he replied.

Death Watch

Emma is certain she will die today.
The mirror reveals a woman almost dead anyhow.
She figures maybe, with the right undertaker,
her face will look more lovely, more serene,
in the coffin than in reflection,

She examines her belly - the perfect target for a knife.
Her mouth opens wide - now there's a well
for dropping many of the pills in the bottle on the table beside her bed.
And look at those white wrists -
the optimum hunting ground for a ra/.or and a steam bath.

Self-destruction, she figures, is the perfect antidote
to what she's seeing in that mirror.
Now which are the mushrooms that dabble in death?
And where's the most likely place in her garden
for a rattlesnake to be coiled and ready to strike?

She’s weary of hearing it from people.
The falsity of so-called lovers cuts
but it doesn't go deep enough.
And her family are no use:
she doesn't measure up
and yet they still refuse to bring her all the way down.

Let them find her lying in her own blood.
Or contorted like an Indian rubber man
with a face a standard shade of blue.

But Emma is also certain that
her certainties are thin as skin.
She'll get through the day, the night,
and the next and the next.
Her death watch requires a lot of patience.
A life is a long, long time.

Bio: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.


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