He said all men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone. [from Suzanne by Leonard Cohen]
A sparkling crown arcs our horizon at night. By day, we skim the ripples and swells of a liquid desert. We sail back and forth across the Sea of G all the time. We risk being swallowed by it every day, and I usually love that.
Eashoa said he’d meet us on the far shore after he’d calmed the crowd and had some time alone. But on the boat, none of us slept and the ocean roiled more than usual. It was like how I felt earlier that day.
We’d led hundreds of beginners into the desert to hear him. They sat rapt until dusk. Then they were thirsty, feint, and I felt their eyes on us like we’d know what to do. He prayed, and I found that frustrating considering the danger of being mobbed. Then it turned out there were people with food in the crowd. Actually, a lot of food. Everyone ate and felt abuzz about the future. So the trouble in my mind was no trouble at all.
And then we sailed out ahead of him with the sea like a cat taking our boat in her cold teeth like a mouse; shaking it; then spitting it out to watch it spin. I felt the thrill. But then things got serious, and I figured we’d die this time. So then he walked right out to us as a ghost and said, “What’s the problem?” He said, “It’s me. Let’s talk about the day. Come on out.” Then the sea went friendly. He stood there waiting, sure I could walk on water. I felt like I should.
So next thing I knew I was near the exit door to this life and felt like I was ten mountains above the Earth in my mind’s eye. I saw myself below, flailing in the water and gulping for breath. I saw my life with clarity I’ve never had, my decisions winding and curving through years like a signature I’d been signing all my life. I leaned toward the possibility of continued time. I grasped at it, and the water slipped through my hands. I thought, ‘This is what it’s like to be dying – to be out here alone.’ But then I saw his hand reaching out. I took it and he walked me back to the boat like I just needed a little support.
So far my initiation has gone like this: I went looking for my soul in the countryside one afternoon and stumbled into a sinkhole. The cave had its way with me. It synced my inner clock with the slow drip of evolution. After ten years I recognized myself as the apparition of a human, but in more ways like a cockroach. That was how I found the heart of hearts below my feet, laying down like Shiva while I stood on top with my mouth open.
Once I recognized I’d never find my way out of the cavern, Suzanne brought the crystal and led me up inside the mountain into the tower overlooking the coast. She said the sea aches to be walked on. We prayed, and she left me to my work.
So then I was thinking, my subtle-body has already been taken apart in the cave. The quartz has been inserted in my belly. The Earth lights up my insides. I must be able to walk on the sea. I must be able to break out in miracles like a Magnolia tree, and leave the ground covered in magenta.
My wisdom is water. His body the wiser sinks in abandon.
At the start of my career I earned a B.A. in English and worked as a journalist, freelancer and public relations writer. I studied French literature and traveled in France. Later my personal experience with dreams led me to pursue an M.A. in counseling psychology and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. I’m currently a Jungian psychotherapist with a specialization in dreams and a private practice in Minneapolis. I write fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry. I hold an award for excellence in writing from the Associated Press, and my writing has appeared in Sky Island Journal and Ink Drinkers Poetry: A Quarterly Chronicle. My blog can be accessed at https://dancingonmoonlight.com. I can be found on Twitter at @DrCarrieSword.
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.
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.
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,
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Bio: Barney Ashton-Bullock, is the poet/librettist in the ‘Andy Bell is Torsten’ music-theatre-poetry collective and he narrates his own verse on the Downes Braide Association albums. He is the founder of Soho Poetry Nights. He has poetry published, or pending publication, in a wide range of cult poetry journals**, in the ‘Avalanches In Poetry’ tribute anthology to Leonard Cohen, in the Dreich pamphlet ‘Famous’, in the Pilot Press ‘Queer Anthology Of Healing’ and in the ‘Soho Nights’ anthologies published by The Society Club Press who also published his first collection ‘Schema/Stasis’ in 2017. His latest poetry pamphlet ‘Café Kaput!’ was published by Broken Sleep Books in 2020. (**the Wellington Street Review, the New River Press Yearbook, SPAMzine, Re-Side Magazine, -algia Press, Scab Mag, Pink Plastic House Journal, Lucky Pierre Zine, Poetry Bus, Neuro Logical Magazine and the Babel Tower Notice Board)
Bio: Sadie (@saccharinequeen) Sadie Maskery lives in Scotland by the sea with her family. Her writing will be found in various publications both online and in print, and she can be found on Twitter as @saccharinequeen where she describes herself, optimistically, as “functioning adequately “.
*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 (MaryFrances Ness, James Knight, and Sue Harpham) who provided images for the month-long ekphrastic challenge which inspired them
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.
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/