Wales, 1953 by William Doreski

Collier. Smokestack. Sheep. Coal
heap brooding. Man with a pie hat—
Ben James in his numb black coat—
turns his back. Not on the sheep,

the coal, the conveyor creaking
up the slope of the heap but
on us, who sympathize
with this grainy scene and wish

to preserve it, film and pocket it
forever. How long is forever?
Only children ask that, and we
with our simple gestures display

no adorable childlike features—
only a smut of gray tones
sufficient to place us in Wales
in nineteen-fifty-three, Korea

boiling over and Ike glooming
in the White House, and coal
still the favorite pollutant
of a world impenitent of war.

William Doreski's work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis (AA Press, 2013

William Doreski’s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis (AA Press, 2013

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One Witch, One Bitch, One Which . . . By Joseph Lisowski

Tricks of the tongue
Are never treats—
Lies of omission
Or direct

Invisible spheres of words
Orbit even
The most random
Thoughts

Like the Plague
Not knowing
Whether you caught it
Or not.

It has been alleged that Joseph Lisowski has has many aliases and has lived in many countries, none of which he has acknowledged.  It is rumored that he has been last seen in Richmond, Virginia.

It has been alleged that Joseph Lisowski has has many aliases and has lived in many countries, none of which he has acknowledged. It is rumored that he has been last seen in Richmond, Virginia.

McGonnigle Hates Crows by Des Dillon

On the hot harbour wall a thousand crows
sweat and croon shoulder to shoulder under
a wilting sun like sailors home from the sea,
staggering on heavy land legs to the Anchor.
The crows know it’s safer here than the woods;
far far from the sport of McGonnigle’s gun.
And here the cunt comes now angry as fuck
like one hawthorn stick’s a match for a murder.

They lure him away down to the turning tide,
swinging his stick in the quicksand banks,
flapping off when the sea pours over his boots.
Inside the frill of seaweed crisping in the sun
clicking sand-flies calculate, one by one,
the days he’ll burn in hell for the man that he’s become.

Des Dillon is an internationally acclaimed award-winning writer. He was born in Coatbridge and studied English Literature at Strathclyde University before becoming a teacher. He was Writer-in-Residence at Castlemilk from 1998-2000. He is a poet, short story writer, novelist, dramatist, broadcaster, screen writer, and scriptwriter for TV, stage and radio. His books have been published in the USA, India, Russia, Sweden, in Catalan, French and Spanish. His poetry has been anthologised internationally. His latest award was The Lion and Unicorn prize for the best of Irish and British literature in the Russian Language (2007).

Des Dillon is an internationally acclaimed award-winning writer. He was born in Coatbridge and studied English Literature at Strathclyde University before becoming a teacher. He was Writer-in-Residence at Castlemilk from 1998-2000. He is a poet, short story writer, novelist, dramatist, broadcaster, screen writer, and scriptwriter for TV, stage and radio. His books have been published in the USA, India, Russia, Sweden, in Catalan, French and Spanish. His poetry has been anthologised internationally. His latest award was The Lion and Unicorn prize for the best of Irish and British literature in the Russian Language (2007).

An Off-Note Whistle by Richard King Perkins II

Every mistake is another chance
and the only histories
that need remembering
are those that were never written.

The music that is drifting somewhere
between teeth and lips is similar
to a song that is lost or never begun;
a microscopic dirigible
floating above the harsh pull
of storm clouds,
the spread of the resplendent sun;
held gently in a casual jet stream,
a simple destination,
the air profound.

With a song that wills itself to become,
great care must be given—
a diadem captured,
the delicate hydrogen of inversion,
a reversal of nearly everything—
the sinking, reductive, first carnation
of second-hand light

Listen to the undertone
with abandoned self and intricate means.
As it becomes more than symbolic,
a thing peculiar or unusual, taut and honed,
expressing all that’s possible,
closing dawn in some forgotten horizon.

The quiet fire subsides.
The simple framework condenses further
and the earth shrinks into anonymity,
thinking down fragility into my grasp.
The blue sky seems so far away
but nothing considered is ever really lost—
the heart is a hideous jailer
leaping outward.

Richard King Perkins II is an advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart nominee, a Best of the Net nominee and recent finalist in The Rash Awards, Sharkpack Alchemy, Writer’s Digest and Bacopa Literary Review poetry contests.

Richard King Perkins II is an advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart nominee, a Best of the Net nominee and recent finalist in The Rash Awards, Sharkpack Alchemy, Writer’s Digest and Bacopa Literary Review poetry contests.

A Ten Question Interview With The Artist…Sally Evans.

Why do you write?

I can’t imagine life without writing, though most people seem to manage it. But you have to think as well as write. You have to have something for other people if you are going to publish. It’s probably because I read fiction that I write so many long poems and to themes. I used to write novels to make sense of the world and now I write poems for the same reason. I’m not very interested in polishing up poems, I’m interested in saying things. I like my poems to sound right, though.

What books do you read?

I am quite an old lady and I have read solidly for 50 years. I primarily read novels, always did. Joyce, Proust, Nabokov and the more poetic novels of the 60s and 70s, like Jean Rhys, Mittelholzer, Reynolds Price and Iris Murdoch. I don’t like the way contemporary fiction is going – too much crime writing, too much detailed history. Hilary Mantel is not for me. Martin Amis and Antonia Byatt are my best heavyweights.

What inspires you?

Things that frighten me, things that I don’t understand. The natural world, mountains and rivers. Scotland. Some people and the things they do –  I’ve written on Thomas Bewick, William Burrell,  Robert Thompson (“The Mouseman”) and others. I don’t have particularly feminine interests.  Poetry inspires me – English and Gaelic, Greek and Latin, and the lives of particular poets. I am currently inspired by the North of England – the real north, Cumbria, Northumberland and Durham, where my family’s return to our old house at Kirkby Lonsdale has brought me a whole wealth of outsider insights – my past now visible from my Scottish home.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?

I was a total bookaholic from the start, spending my pocket money on books in Dressers in Darlington. I was offered a Saturday bookselling job there but my mother wouldn’t let me do it. My father was learned but antifeminist. So it was a long time till I realised I actually could be a writer, as opposed to wanting to. I was writing anyway. I sent novels to the London publishers and got them back. I sent poems to the London magazines and got them back. I went to a writing class with Harry Sutherland, a Tyneside novelist, and got a story on the radio. It came slowly and gradually, but I was writing from the word go.

How do you deal with rejection?

Rejection of poems – I tend to stay away from the types of publication that will reject me. It’s been temporarily harder in the last couple of years. Too many mags are going for the “competition poems” or the “best poems” and forgetting about culture. I think that will pass, because few of these “best” poems are the least bit memorable.

Sometimes people reject you as a writer, they will never respect you. Cliques by education, the class factor, gender. Colophon snobbery. Prejudice from the past, going back a long way. I find Facebook is useful in that it lets you know who your enemies are. I just think, I’m nearly always as good a writer as them – really good writers don’t need to be defensive or unfriendly

Who are some writers you admire?

I admire Scottish, Scots and Gaelic writers who are true to their culture, as against the mega culture. James Kelman, Janet Paisley, A L Kennedy, Sheena Blackhall, Rody Gorman, Angus Peter Campbell and Robert Alan Jamieson. People in London will not have heard of all of these writers. American writing, though I can’t always get my head round it. Pascale Petit. Les Murray. Aidan Andrew Dun.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

I cook and I garden. These are both necessary art forms, like writing. I have the ability to draw, but never practised or learnt the skills. I am a good critic of photographs but I never take my own – I cadge them or occasionally pay professional friends to use theirs.

What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?

Learn to drive (I did, eventually) Get some dress sense (I did, eventually) Go ahead and tell everyone you write stories and poems (I kept it a secret for far too long) Get a job, you can write as well (I actually did this)

Stop trying to be ordinary (advice from an early boyfriend, who turned out to be gay)

Do you have any advice for other writers?

However good you are or you think you are, be friendly. Help another writer and they will always remember you. Give away lots of copies of your books. Who are you kidding if you think you are in this to make money? There will be times when it is appropriate to sell them but nothing makes you look so mean, or so inexperienced, as does trying to make your brother or your best friend buy one. Dish ’em out, or say you have a “friends’ price” which is conveniently lower than the printed price. Not in the top league? Didn’t get picked up by Cape, Faber, Bloodaxe or Carcanet? Welcome to the real world, where there are a whole lot of happy and worthwhile poets out and about doing their own thing.

What is your writing process?

Bursts and dearths. When I am on a project I will write till I drop, stay up all night etc. If I am away or busy I always want to write. I have notebooks of all descriptions everywhere. I have found a lot of them in auction lots of books, unused diaries, account books, anything. I just open the nearest one and scrawl in any page, they are a complete jumble. I can compose straight into the computer these days too. At other times I’ll be editing issues of Poetry Scotland with other people’s poems. Oh and I read the things I have written again and again. And again.

Sally Evans lives in Scotland and has Welsh connections. She has had several books of poems published including Poetic Adventures in Scotland (2014) and the Bees (2008).

Sally Evans lives in Scotland and has Welsh connections. She has had several books of poems published including Poetic Adventures in Scotland (2014) and the Bees (2008).

Chest Of Drawers by Grant Tarbard

This body is a chest of drawers, at
The centre is a Mason jar of hearts,
A stripped carcass that feathers into oak.
The top drawer is a mind tangled with
Scattered socks and disorganised forks. This
Drawer is where the birth of ideas
Poach in a field where light bulbs grow on the
Vine of loose threads and forgotten tissues.
In the shirt drawer are memories, when
The drawer is open they fly away
As paper aeroplanes scattering the
Seed of my scent and the disorder of
Thought. This body is a hand-me-down song
That whistles into knicker elastic.

Grant Tarbard is the editor of The Screech Owl
and co-founder of Resurgant Press.
His first collection Yellow Wolf is out now from WK Press.

 

Empties by Ron Lavalette

I had to rescue my older brother once.
He called me after two years of no contact,

begged me to drive to his house, ask his wife
for the spare car keys, meet him downtown

in a bar’s parking lot.  He said he might be
passed out in the back seat.  I told him

I didn’t remember what his car looked like
but he hung up on me before I could ask.

Sure enough: passed out in the back seat
and not a single syllable of thanks.  It still

ticks me off, almost half a century later.
And I have this younger brother, keeps

looking in those same old bottles, looking
for something I know he’ll never find.

My older brother is his older brother, too;
everything I’ve ever seen, he’s seen.

You’d think he’d get the message.  No.

   Ron. Lavalette is primarily a poet living in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, land of the fur-bearing lake trout and the bilingual stop sign. He has been widely published, both online and in print.  A reasonable sample of his published work can be found at EGGS OVER TOKYO.  Ron. blogs at: SCRAMBLED, NOT FRIED .


Ron. Lavalette is primarily a poet living in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, land of the fur-bearing lake trout and the bilingual stop sign. He has been widely published, both online and in print. A reasonable sample of his published work can be found at EGGS OVER TOKYO. Ron. blogs at: SCRAMBLED, NOT FRIED .

Smokestack by Bryn Fortey

Blues records rarely bothered chart
compilers in the UK, but in 1964
“Smokestack Lightnin’” by Howlin’
Wolf hovered around the lower end
of the top fifty for around five weeks.

Wolfman’s voice
Dark
Powerful
An indestructible force
Big man
Big sound
A record to play over and over
Wolfman don’t take no crap

Tall chimney
Crematorium blues
Floating swirling wisps of grey
Lost heart
Flowers and flames
Last goodbyes

Smokestack now
Dark and sinister
Newly imagined
Changed perception

A life in tears
A life in ashes

Goodbye
Goodbye

A veteran of the writing game for more years than he cares to remember, Bryn Fortey edited the well received (at the time) OUTLAW, a post-Beat poetry magazine from the 70s and at the same time had short stories in FONTANA anthologies, among others. After a while away from the literary scene he recently returned with both fiction and poetry acceptances. In 2014 The Alchemy Press published his debut collection MERRY-GO-ROUND, combining short stories and poetry in one book.

A veteran of the writing game for more years than he cares to remember, Bryn Fortey edited the well received (at the time) OUTLAW,
a post-Beat poetry magazine from the 70s and at the same time had short stories in FONTANA anthologies, among others. After a
while away from the literary scene he recently returned with both fiction and poetry acceptances. In 2014 The Alchemy Press published
his debut collection MERRY-GO-ROUND, combining short stories and poetry in one book.

A Ten Question Interview With The Artist…Bryn Fortey.

Why do you write?

I have always had an interest in words on paper. At school I could never tell a verb from an adjective but always got good marks in English because of my compositions. So a long-standing relationship is a given. As to why do I write now, well I was encouraged back after a period of non-writing following a family tragedy, and I am so glad I succumbed to both the encouragement and the temptation. Writing has become very important in these, my latter years. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it has helped me come to terms with my losses, but it does give me a reason to get up in the mornings. Suffice to say that I would be a sadder and more lost soul without it.

What books do you read?

I enjoy a good biography, auto or otherwise, especially of people from the music industry. Recently enjoyed were those of Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed and Shirley Bassey. My fiction tastes are wide and varied with science fiction and horror genres always represented, along with a reasonable helping of mainstream or literary offerings. An era of perpetual interest is that covered by the Beats, both work by the writers themselves and books about them. Poetry I prefer to read in small doses. I could not take in a full volume in one sitting. Poetry is to dip into and then to consider.

What inspires you?

I don’t have an easy answer to this one because it varies according to my mood. I guess good writing in others is always inspirational, not because it pushes me to emulate – I know where my bar is set – but because talent is always appreciated. Sometimes music can do the trick, but there are moments when I prefer silence. A sunrise, sunsets, stars in a clear night sky: these, and similar scenic beauty, are things I can most certainly enjoy, but I would hesitate to claim inspiration from. Once I might have suggested the love of a good (or bad) woman. Maybe now I get most inspiration from memories.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?

This was partly answered in the ‘why do you write?’ question. From my very first conscious involvement with books I always accepted a personal conviction that I would one day be instrumental in putting words on paper. As a child I filled untold numbers of exercise books with never ending sagas; the longest running one, which never did finish, concerned Germany winning WW2 and a guerrilla force operating from bases in the Welsh hills and mountains. I do so regret my teenage-self consigning all those improbable adventures to the rubbish bin. So, in answer to the question, even though there have been occasional periods when I haven’t written, I have always wanted to.

How do you deal with rejection?

Whatever I am currently writing is going to be the most superb thing I have ever come up with. When it is finished I start to think it might not be the best thing since sliced bread. Once submitted, it has become total rubbish and has no chance. This, I guess, is my inbuilt defence mechanism. When something is rejected it is virtually expected and an acceptance comes as a pleasant surprise. Mind you, a rejection doesn’t stop me sending the piece out again, though I might cast a critical eye over it first. It is worth remembering, of course, that whether a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, it is only that particular editor’s opinion. There are others who would offer a reverse decision.

Who are some writers you admire?

How much time have you got? Alright, I’ll just try to pick out a selection. Jack Kerouac, Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Palahniuk, William S Burroughs, Norman Spinrad, Richard Matheson, J.G. Ballard, Paul Finch, Christopher Priest. The short stories of Raymond Carver, Cordwainer Smith and Anna Taborska. Poetry by Charles Bukowski, Andrew Darlington, A.D. Winans, Henry Denander, Clive James, Bruce Hodder and Dave Church. The plays of William Shakespeare and the lyrics of Leonard Cohen and Lorenz Hart. Well that is some, and I am already bringing to mind names not mentioned. So quickly moving on…

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

The simple answer is yes, writing is my only artistic medium, but life is never completely straight forward and simple. Some years ago I used to meet up with two friends who had previously played semi-professionally on the South Wales jazz and night club circuit. After coffee, wine and chat, I would sit back and listen while they ran through a few numbers on keyboard and bass guitar. Then one day I picked up a side drum, cymbal and brushes, going cheap in a sale. My friends showed extreme patience and I gradually got into the swing of things. By the time it all ended, with the unfortunate illness and then death of the bass guitarist, my brushwork had become a thing of intricate beauty – well in my fantasy based musicality anyway, in reality I might have been approaching a low level of competence. Either way it was great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it while it lasted.

What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?

Listen, boy, you are never going to write a best seller, so just enjoy what you do at the level you do it. And if I can extend the advice to the more personal: learn the drums properly and join a band. Don’t get married, even though you will miss out on a glorious girl and magical family moments, because the heartbreak of losing a son and watching your wife slowly disintegrate because of it is to be avoided if at all possible. But if you can’t, then make the most of the family still with you and win what little battles you can while ignoring the rest.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Go write true romance for women’s magazines. You hear? I’ll keep away from your markets, and you keep away from mine. Comprehend, amigo? What’s that? You want me to be serious? What makes you think I’m not! Okay, keep your editorial hat on. My advice is: enjoy it. You might meet lots of interesting people at conventions or readings but the actual nuts and bolts of being a writer is a lonely business. It’s just you and a blank screen or piece of paper, and you need to put words in an order that best suits your purpose. If you are not getting some sort of relief or satisfaction from doing it, press delete and get down the pub.

What is your working process?

Put bluntly, I haven’t got one. Being the most un-prolific of writers, there has never been the slightest possibility of earning a living from it, so professionalism has never been a requirement. There are not many days, though there are some, when I don’t do at least a little writing. Sometimes the words flow, sometimes they don’t. There is no set time of day. There are occasions when I’ll spend hours trying to decide between two words, then end up using one I’d discarded the day before. I don’t wait for the muse to call or the spirit to move me; when I have a project on the go I will work at it, but not to any pre-set plan. Deadlines scare me to hell and back.

A veteran of the writing game for more years than he cares to remember, Bryn Fortey edited the well received (at the time) OUTLAW, a post-Beat poetry magazine from the 70s and at the same time had short stories in FONTANA anthologies, among others. After a while away from the literary scene he recently returned with both fiction and poetry acceptances. In 2014 The Alchemy Press published his debut collection MERRY-GO-ROUND, combining short stories and poetry in one book.

A veteran of the writing game for more years than he cares to remember, Bryn Fortey edited the well received (at the time) OUTLAW,
a post-Beat poetry magazine from the 70s and at the same time had short stories in FONTANA anthologies, among others. After a
while away from the literary scene he recently returned with both fiction and poetry acceptances. In 2014 The Alchemy Press published
his debut collection MERRY-GO-ROUND, combining short stories and poetry in one book.

Pobrecito by John Grochalski

lena tells me that she doesn’t
think of herself as american

her parents are from ecuador
and she’s bilingual
so she has that pleasure

still, i joke with her that she’s more
red white and blue then i am
with her massive cell phone and her slang

i tell lena that i’d leave america
in a heartbeat if i could

the truth is i’ve never tried

i’m too lazy and incompetent to be an exile
and by mid-february of every year
i’m dusting off the baseball hats
and talking pitch counts and on base percentages

i think how nice it must be for lena
to slip into and out of another dialect
when the mood fits

to go almost incognito on these streets

like a typical yank, i don’t know a second language
yet i feel so often misunderstood in my own

i don’t know the cost
of talking in tongues here in america

but everywhere i travel
i wander around thinking that i live there

i stroll old cities lost in my thoughts of another life
hang around cafes listening to the music of a language
that i do not know

until the lust turns into something similar to hate
then i know it’s time to leave

i have to settle for the fact
that i no longer know my way around
the city of my birth

i get lost on streets that used to tell my story so succinctly
and i feel happy that this has happened

happy that i can no longer call somewhere home

in dark times i look forward
to the day when i’m no longer
son brother friend lover to anyone

just a stranger belonging to nowhere

a time of dust and calm
a blackness that i can really feel

or maybe just the sensation of drifting
further and further away from everyone

until their friendship and love
feel like specks of dust

cat litter flicked off the couch

their conversation the essence
of a language that i used to know
but can no longer decipher

without the help of a rosetta stone.

John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out, Glass City, In The Year of Everything Dying, Starting with the Last Name Grochalski, and the novel, The Librarian. Grochalski lives in Brooklyn, where he constantly worries about the high cost of everything.