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

Valentine’s Poetry by Akhila Ek : Lemme Melt Into You

A cradle of uncertainties
are stretching out it’s limbs
to enwrap my futile heart
Embrace me
No..not enough..
Just squeeze me
Lemme melt into you
until there is no space between
this moment and the ensuing

In you
the heart perceives
it’s euphony of love
In you
the poetry finds
it’s crowning asylum
In you
the drizzle rain unfurls
and undresses its ego

You let me float in the waves,
curl up with a book and
follow by crazy beats
You ensured my own space
Now take my breath with you
Press yourself on my wilderness
Make me aware of the worth of my soul
Rhyming with the beats lemme melt into you
like a free falling never ending rain!

Akhila is from Trivandrum, India and is the founder and sole contributor of wordsandnotion.com and qualitynotion.com. By profession she is a software Quality and Quantitative data analyst. She is a self motivated life long learner who believes in signs from the universe. When it comes to writing, she feels like “flying across the space between words and whipping up whimsical waves of notion to discern the quantum code of her soul.” She is the author of “Know them, One answer to many questions” (a General Knowledge book) and “I Had a Crush – The 17 Kinks” (A free e-book of 17 short stories). Her poetries have been published at various literary magazines like Indian PeriodicaliwriteherPuzha etc. She is bleeding out all the intoxicated imperfections of her soul through her blog and twitter handle @wordsandnotion.

Photo from Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash.com

3 new Valentine’s Day poems by Lynne Schmidt : When I Say I Want You to Love Me, Rush, & Awaiting Further Instruction

When I Say I Want You to Love Me


what I mean is –                                                                                      I want you be reckless.


I want you to throw rocks through windows of abandoned buildings,
and make love on the shattered glass
just so we have a story of how these scars covered our bodies.


I want us to spend months creating a garden,
only to rip it the heads from the flowers
uproot tomatoes and leave them to rot
and start over because we got bored.


I want you to buy me every flavor of cotton candy
because you weren’t sure that I’d like it,
but knew I’d like one.


I want you to dance with me
on top of a mountain top
in the middle of a wildfire
until smoke fills our lungs
with no guarantee the firefighters
will be able to save us.


I want to swim out so far,
my arms grow tired and sink under the waves.
And I want you beside me.


I want you to dye my hair
a different color every week of the year
until we have created a palate
with every color ever known.


I want you to sit in the audience 
mouthing the words to all my poems
the way you’d sing along to the radio.


I want a road trip with no destination,
just a hand on the wheel, and your hand in mine.


I want coffee dates that change with the season,
and you to always remember my order.


I want you to say yes to every idea I’ve ever had,                                to be first in line for the roller coaster,
hands in the air, hair free flowing in the wind. 


When I say I want you to love me,
I want you to make the entire universe revolve around me.


Which means —


I do not want you to be gentle with my heart.
I want you to make it burst.

Rush

He tells me as the bleach bleeds out of my hair
as the roots become more exposed by the hour,
that I am gorgeous.


When he pulls me into him,
I feel his heartbeat hammer against my face.


He tells me later,
he wanted to kiss me.


He says, we can wait we can wait we can wait,
and for the first time
I do not rush.

Awaiting Further Instruction


He tells me he is a blank page
waiting for me to scribble on,
he asks me what I want next.


I want to say,
my the inside of my thighs,
my hips, my collarbone…


Want to peel off my skin
and offer it as an instruction
manual that reads everywhere, everything.

His chuckle is an electric cord
and I am water,
begging him to touch me.

Lynne Schmidt is the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, and mental health professional with a focus in trauma and healing. She is the winner of the 2020 New Women’s Voices Contest and author of the chapbooks, Dead Dog Poems (forthcoming from Finishing Line Press), Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press) which was listed as one of the 17 Best Breakup Books to Read in 2020, and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West), which was featured on The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed for PTSD Awareness Week. Her work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor’s Choice Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively. Lynne was a five time 2019 and 2020 Best of the Net Nominee, and an honorable mention for the Charles Bukowski and Doug Draime Poetry Awards. In 2012 she started the project, AbortionChat, which aims to lessen the stigma around abortion. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.

feature photo by Shaira Dela Pena by Unsplash.com

2 new love poems by Neel Trivedi : Then Aroused, Now Devoted & Casket to Universe

THEN AROUSED, NOW DEVOTED


All dreams lie shackled in my fist
When nestled up in your arms
on a cot of supple grass blades


Goosebumps of exultation
being my sole attire
Serene under a luminous blanket
Stars apprenticed by your eyes


Paying no heed to the absence of breasts
For inside the wall that hung them
lies your most intoxicating & attractive organ your heart

Casket to Universe

A body that’s been breathing for 30+ years is only now infused with life
with your acknowledgement


My heart that was just an ash of a wing is a vibrant bird again
with your head nestled against it

Once the waterfalls that overflowed from the eyes are now priceless pearls
when brushed against your fingers


I steal a glance of your coruscating eyes & see myself more limpid
than in any mirror

Locutions like “love” & “romance”
are innominate to my soul


All I perceive…
Is that you complete me
Without you, I am a casket
With you, I am a universe

Neel Trivedi is a writer, editor and artist and in the advertising business in Dallas, TX. He was a Pushcart Nominee for 2020 and has been published in several online magazines as well as several print anthologies. He can be reached on Twitter @Neelt2001.

Visual Poetry by Maggs Vibo : the Year of the Ox

Maggs Vibo (she/her) experiments with glitch films and folklore imagery in the fringes of the art
world. In 2020, her cinepoems debuted with Army at the Arts at the Virtual Fringe Festival and
her visual art showed at the Poem Atlas exhibition ‘Escapisms.’ Her latest poetry is available in
the anthology Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020 (January 2021). She has
forthcoming and published war poetry in Afterwords (Spring, 2021), ‘My teeth don’t chew on
shrapnel’: an anthology of poetry by military veterans (Oxford Brookes University, 2020), and
O-Dark-Thirty, 5.3 Anthology (Spring, 2017), 4.2 (Winter, 2016); and 4.3 (Spring, 2016). She
tweets @maggsvibo and her website is poemythology.com.