Friday 24 April 2009

Working Life by Howard Good

My mouth flooded with blood
once I reached the age of reason.
Peacocks I never saw
shrieked at night in the trees.
I set my alarm for six.
In the morning my life was
right where I had left it.
I muttered to myself.
She grabbed a steno pad
and started making notes.
Women in face masks
stood at long tables
sorting pieces of the wreckage.

Howie Good, New York, USA

Monday 20 April 2009

First by Bonnie McClellan

In the first sleep I dream the teapot,

The worm turns.
Female swallows preen their dun shifts
whispering excitedly in-nested.
Apple blossoms blow a narrow stream
of incandescent, undawned light
through the fractured hairline of some internal expansion that,
open eyes, scrutinizing this darkness,
pursuing, never find.

........I turn.

In the second sleep I dream the tea that fills it,
The crisped black leaf of a scorpion in the bed:
With foehn breath through pursed lips
I shift it the mattress’ length.
Chased down by these airy blows it settles
in the foothills of the laundry.


I drink coffee.
Birds are getting on with their day.
Someone left the sun
burning all night over the Pacific;
restless, it begins its second twelve-hour shift.
Apple blossoms have burnt out,
The whole day rests
for the resoldering of the filaments
So they will glow again at dusk.

Bonnie McClellan, Italy

Friday 17 April 2009

Walking in Glencanisp by Colin Will

Snowblind from the apple blossom’s garden glare
I turn, as I have so often, to wilder walks.

This strata’s as ancient as the world itself,
and the carpet’s starred with tormentil and violet.

Past the belt of planted Sitka spruce
the sky is mixed and busy, sun and shade.

Given choices, I’ll sometimes be a follower, on paths,
and sometimes take a lead through trackless ground.

The route ascends heathery heughs and drops down dips
where tiny streams drain gurgling slopes.

In the palm of the landscape’s hand, waters flow together
to top up a fortunate lochan, reflecting blue.

Birds sing, whether or not a person hears,
and the scents that I enjoy were made for others.

Placing foot before foot, the rhythm of walking
looses the mind to play, imagine, freewheel.

This is no journey with a definite end,
but a simple way of being in the now.

Colin Will, Scotland, UK

Monday 13 April 2009

apprenticeship by Kelly Shepherd

climb to the top
of the highest mountain you can see
tap where the shoulder would be
on every stone, stump,
every stunted tundra tree
roughly the size of a man

stay there, keep trying
until a weathered face turns towards you:
one of the boulders or small evergreens
will not be what it seems
and your questions will be answered

you will never come in from the cold
and the rain again
and your face will be dry, sunburnt,
chapped by the wind,
your clothing will fall away,
will be replaced by leaves, bark, skins, furs
you will move around less and less
requiring less food and drinking rainwater instead
over the years
you will start to resemble a stone
or a human-sized stump or tree

all that you will have learned
and all that you will have left behind
will become a poem, a song
barely distinguishable
from the songs of wind in the mountain pines
and there you will sit,
your face to the East
your mind in the sky
with the tops of the trees,
and under the ground with their roots...

someday, when you are old
and still enough
to be mistaken for a mossy stone
or a stunted tree
you might feel a tap on your shoulder

Kelly Shepherd, South Korea

Friday 10 April 2009

Family Tree by Mather Schneider

Me and Josie go to Agua Caliente park
and look at a giant mesquite tree
four times bigger than I’ve ever seen
sprawling with great old growth grotesquely gothic arms
spidering out like a nightmare.
It’s so big it would have died long ago
fallen from its own weight
and rotted into the ground
if people hadn’t built a support system
of ropes and chains and rubber hoses and hammocks
and crutches to hold up the biggest
most cumbersome branches.
There’s something obscene about it,
like a man grown so fat
he can’t get out of bed.
Josie tries to imagine something like this happening
in Mexico where she was born.
The American fondness for animals and trees
is a strange sentimental concept to her.
And I think, Why this tree
when so many thousands of other old growth mesquites
were slaughtered seventy five years ago
so people could move in and eventually
yearn for the past?
Me and Josie both wonder if it wouldn’t be better
to let it die
but we are not sure,
and so we just stand there looking at it
eating bananas.

Mather Schneider, Arizona, USA

Monday 6 April 2009

Chiffchaff by Carol Thistlethwaite

6th April 2008 Withnell Fold

Even though snow is marbling the trees,
these chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff-chiffs are heard,
winding their spells through leafless worlds.
The steadiness of the chiff-chaff beat,
reassuring me that this flaky white
is no more than peeling old paint,
dead skin brushing off
as the season pulls on a new linen coat.
charm from a distant land,
flamboyantly bowing its tail through the trees,
casting its hope with its hop-flick-hops,
dispelling the snow as it steadily goes,
calling each leaf to stir in each bud,
unwavering herald that Earth really does
now tilt towards a North African sun.

Carol Thistlethwaite, Lancashire, UK

Friday 3 April 2009

presence presents by Shirla White

now is the only tense

when you send a word my way,

each one a petal
drifting from a wishflower
held by someone
as distant as your flaws, echoing

she loves me

with the flicker of a firefly's eyes.

Shirla White, Saskatchewan, Canada