Down by Andrew Shields

A city on a hill
waited at the end of a day spent
on trains. Switzerland and Alpine tunnels
led to Milan and a run through the station
to my connection. Northern Italy was a Little Egret
at the edge of a stream (still there
on my return), then down the coast to Ancona
and another train, into the mountains:
Spoleto. A taxi headed up and over
the hill the city’s built on, took me to
the convent I’d be staying in. House Martins
were nesting under the church’s eaves. My room
was at the top, with a view of the aqueduct (an attraction
for tourists and suicides). I fell
on the stones of the bathroom floor,
bruising my knee and shoulder, then kept
falling, down through the floors of the convent,
into the ground, past all the city’s strata.
There were the cathedral builders, and those who lay
street on street; there were the Romans
who built the ten brick arches of the aqueduct,
standing there so silently. Down I fell
to the Etruscans, where I caught myself
and looked up with them at the augury
of the evening Swifts, sickles cutting the sky.
The oracle’s words to his people were clear: no one
would understand them, the streets would lie
as silent as the arches, the cathedral would survive
its builders, and just like them I would get up
an hour after dusk to hunt mosquitoes
I could only hear.

Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His book "Thomas Hardy Listens to Louis Armstrong" is being published by Eyewear in July, 2015.

Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His book “Thomas Hardy
Listens to Louis Armstrong” is being published by Eyewear in July, 2015.

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Wandawoowoo Clickety-Clack by Kenneth Pobo

While taking the train to Seattle
from New York she reads Middlemarch,

meets Lottie from Altoona,
also going to Seattle.  They’re both
in their early thirties, haven’t got
husbands or kids.
At forty Lottie married a bird salesman,
Henry.  Wandawoowoo watched her turn
into a birthday card.  Marriage
often gets in the way.  Wandawoowoo
had sworn off love, felt she did better
single.

The train chugs ahead.  Destinations differ.
People lose each other at the depot.

Kenneth Pobo has a new book forthcoming from Blue Light Press called Bend of Quiet.  His work has appeared in: Orbis, Mudfish, Hawaii Review, New Welsh Review, and elsewhere.

Too Eggish by A.J. Huffman

Life is not food,
you cannot order it
& expect to receive
appropriate sustenance.
Rather, it is cracked
& screaming,
dripping into pans
of impossibility.  Heat
turns it to rubber.
(Ain’t that the rub?)
Homogenization is a thing
of the past.  Organic
is the future, baby,
& we are choking
on our young.

A.J. Huffman has published eleven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her new poetry collection, Another Blood Jet, is now available from Eldritch Press.  She has two more poetry collections forthcoming: A Few Bullets Short of Home, from mgv2>publishing and Degeneration, from Pink Girl Ink.  She is a Three-Time Pushcart Prize nominee, and has published over 2100 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. www.kindofahurricanepress.com

A.J. Huffman has published eleven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her new poetry collection, Another Blood Jet, is now available from Eldritch Press. She has two more poetry collections forthcoming: A Few Bullets Short of Home, from mgv2>publishing and Degeneration, from Pink Girl Ink. She is a Three-Time Pushcart Prize nominee, and has published over 2100 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. http://www.kindofahurricanepress.com

Higher Learning by Neil Fulwood

What we excelled at was further
from the curriculum
than our longest-range
jaunts outside the school gates
 
or rather over the rickety bit of fence
at the far end of the playing field.
We were teenage Steve McQueens,
the boulevard our razor-wire border
 
and no-one needed a motorbike
when you could leg it down rat-runs
or twitchels and emerge breathless
and grinning in a dimension
 
devoid of prefects and teachers.
This was our education:
which shopkeepers would sell us
lukewarm cans of lager,
 
which bus route would get us
to the city centre faster,
how to develop a radar for coppers
or make like a chameleon
 
on spotting a parent. This
set us up for adulthood: made us
proficient at dodging meetings
and throwing sickies, taught us
 
that the fabrication of diary entries
was a piece of cake
after the years of practice
perfecting our mothers’ signature
 
on a note covering a two-day absence.
Neil Fulwood is the author of film studies book 'The Films of Sam Peckinpah'. His poetry has been featured in The Morning Star, The Stare's Nest, Butcher's Dog, Monkey Kettle, Nib Magazine and Ink Sweat & Tears. He divides his time between the pub and cinema, and somehow manages to hold down a day job.

Neil Fulwood is the author of film studies book ‘The Films of Sam Peckinpah’. His poetry has been featured in The Morning Star, The Stare’s Nest, Butcher’s Dog, Monkey Kettle, Nib Magazine and Ink Sweat & Tears. He divides his time between the pub and cinema, and somehow manages to hold down a day job.

A Ten Question Interview With The Artist…Petra Creffield

Why do you write?

For me writing has always been a form of catharsis, a way in which to deal with my emotions and internal demons. Once I bring these emotions into words, lines and rhymes they suddenly make a clearer sense and allow me a distance from them. I also write to try and create something beautiful out of the darkest places.
 
What books do you read?
I recently was given a kindle which has been amazing and means not having to carry big books around, it has also meant I have been reading authors I would not normally have read because they have a free download. I have been reading some great short stories and poetry, the novel I recently enjoyed the most was called (perhaps ironically) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
 
What inspires you?
People, love, pain, anger, passion and lust. The human drama in me and the people round me.
 
How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?
I never really knew and still don’t really think of myself as a writer, it is just something I have always done. Since I was teenager I have been writing poems but because I always wanted them to rhyme I thought it made what I wrote cheesy and amateur, not serious poetry. I felt like somebody that was doodling while all around me were master painters. 
I still find it hard to take my work seriously and push myself to be ambitious in terms of publishing etc although I did self-publish 120 copies of my first volume of poetry ‘To All The Men I Loved Before’ in 2004 all but 5 I managed to sell or give away. 
For me attending the Brighton Poetry Society for the first time in 2004 changed everything about what I wrote and how I wrote, I wanted to be on the stage, I wanted to bring my voice to my words. I started getting up at any open mic I could find and started writing rythyem and beat and pace into my poems, sometimes rants, sometimes naked in my self-exposure I was always scared, yet totally exhillerated as I stepped off the stage.
I still perform regularly and recently co-wrote and performed my first ever comedy sketch and I was so very proud, it is such a good feeling to make people laugh 🙂 I have made a decision this year to write more fiction and develop characters other than myself, although the odd poems here and there about my angst inevitably pops out…usually around 3am!
 
How Do you deal with rejection?
Well it’s tough, I remember reading on a stage in a pub with everyone talking over me and someone shouting out ‘boring!’ in the middle of my poem. Yea, it makes you want to crawl away and hide under the duvet and never bother anyone with your silly words again, but at the end of the day I will still be writing and what I write I want to read out loud and to share. So really, there is no choice but to carry on and say fuck you to anyone that gets you down about it.
 
Who are some writers you admire?
This is a list that could be very very long but the ones coming into my mind now are: Sylvia Plath, Charles Bukowski, Stephen King, Irving Welsh, Paulo Coelho (who I met!) Virginia Andrews, John Bradshaw, John Cooper-Clark, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg.
 
Is writing the only artistic medium you do?
I have been a photographer for 26 years and most of the time I think of myself as a photographer, sometimes I have asked myself if I should make my mind up between writing and photography but I can never choose. I realised I need both mediums to make sense of myself and the world around me.
 
What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?
Have more confidence! get up and shout it out, you may as well!!
 
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read a lot and give yourself room to write, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
 
What is your writing process?
It varies, sometimes I just get a couple of lines in my head, I write them down and then it’s like following a road, the lines keep coming and and don’t know where they are going to take me but I do know when I reached the destination. 
I attend a bi-weekly writers group and for each session we choose two random words from a book. I find having this framework really helpful, the words give me a starting point and bring out poems in me that would have never existed without them. (I’ll attach some examples to this email) For me writers groups have always been a valuable support and inspiration.  
My writing process though always begins with me giving myself the space to write, no music, no interruptions, just me and a pen and paper for the next hour or however long I feel I need, then pick up the pen and see what comes out.
 
Petra Creffield is a writer, photographer and teacher born in Leeds and currently living in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. She has written poetry since her teens and for the last 10 years has regularly performed her works at open mics, festivals and events in Brighton, Chatham and most recently in Holmfirth. Her work has also been published in 'In Betwween Hangovers'  'Insight Magazine' and 'Ars Interpres International Arts Review Magazine'. In 2006 she self-published her first volume of poetry entitled 'To All The Men I Have Loved Before' and is planning this year to publish an updated version of the same title and also to write her first children's story book.

Petra Creffield is a writer, photographer and teacher born in Leeds and currently living in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. She has written poetry since her teens and for the last 10 years has regularly performed her works at open mics, festivals and events in Brighton, Chatham and most recently in Holmfirth. Her work has also been published in ‘In Betwween Hangovers’ ‘Insight Magazine’ and ‘Ars Interpres International Arts Review Magazine’. In 2006 she self-published her first volume of poetry entitled ‘To All The Men I Have Loved Before’ and is planning this year to publish an updated version of the same title and also to write her first children’s story book.

Ghost In The Machine by Sally Evans

It was a saying caught up by likelihood,
a philosophy and a religion. It expressed
the way many thought of mind and body,
and though it went out of academic fashion
so that you simply behaved in certain ways:
full hearts were extravagant actions,
commitment was energy etcetera,
it’s still the commonsense solution
as is too clear when someone dies.
The machine’s there but it doesn’t work
without the ghost, which has made its exit
and will never return, even if, as many posit,
it just goes somewhere else, & sulking quietly,
may yet come scarily, eerily out of its closet

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).

In A Nutshell by Scott Thomas Outlar

The whole world
is upside down
inside out
topsy-turvy
off the rails
off the tracks
off the edge
over the abyss
in a ditch
cuckoo crazy
shotgun to the head
brains on the wall
ripped apart
torn asunder
twisted, contorted
dilapidated, disconfigured
decomposed, decadent
distraught, stressed out
broken hearted
bottomed out
bottles up
down the drain
last refrain
last trip around the sun
cycling out
going blind
organs failing
body flailing
lungs collapsed
torture chamber
signing off
sayonara
saying goodbye
hit the floor
with a thud
with a whimper

Scott Thomas Outlar survived both the fire and the flood - now he dances in celebration while waiting on the next round of chaos to commence.  Otherwise, he keeps things fairly chill, spending the days flowing and fluxing with the tide of the Tao River, laughing at life's existential problems, and writing prose-fusion poetry dedicated to the Phoenix Generation.  His work has appeared recently in venues such as Section 8 Magazine, Dead Snakes, The Chaffey Review, Corner Club Press, Black Mirror Magazine, Dissident Voice, and The Kitchen Poet.  Scott's first attempt at a blog is 17Numa.wordpress.com.

Scott Thomas Outlar survived both the fire and the flood – now he dances in celebration while waiting on the next round of chaos to commence. Otherwise, he keeps things fairly chill, spending the days flowing and fluxing with the tide of the Tao River, laughing at life’s existential problems, and writing prose-fusion poetry dedicated to the Phoenix Generation. His work has appeared recently in venues such as Section 8 Magazine, Dead Snakes, The Chaffey Review, Corner Club Press, Black Mirror Magazine, Dissident Voice, and The Kitchen Poet. Scott’s first attempt at a blog is 17Numa.wordpress.com.

Pastrama by Angela Readman

The afternoon I saw your wife, I left my purse in a taxi. The driver waited outside, pouring sugar onto his hand. He strolled over the cobbles to feed the horses outside the distillery. I could hear nothing but nuzzles, rolling breath in his palm as I opened the disused stable door and left the lock hanging on the bolt.

   The woman was stored alongside a strong man’s barometer, kissing booth architrave, and a candy floss sign. I couldn’t lift my eyes off her, your wife. This taxidermy of years of your life, the carnival of your youth. I knew you were a manager, toured the world. I didn’t know the show continued after she died.

  The baby lay in her arms, small as the stuffed monkey clashing tin cymbals in the window of a toy store. The pair were covered in down, whiskers all over their faces feathered in dust. Their hands had not preserved well, their fingers made me recall being loaned your leather gloves, so big for my hands, still warm from yours, brushing snow off my shoulders as we stepped into my cottage that first time, so politely, stamping clods off our shoes.

   We are all so close to being gorillas, I thought.  Pressing my hand to cold glass case built around your wife, I pictured an ice hotel hosting a convention called LOVE. Here, people would scroll paper tickets, perch on the balls of their feet to see love on display. This is what a woman who loves a man looks like the billboard would say. People would pay to see it, yes, even me, woman after woman in polished glass cases. The feeling in my stomach was cloaked by velvet, the way you look at me kept closing the curtain around it. I couldn’t see myself inside the case, looking out I could barely see you.

Angela Readman's poems have been published in journals including The Rialto, Ambit, Magma, and Popshot. They have won The Mslexia Competition, The Charles Causley, and The Essex Poetry Prize. She also writes stories, her collection Don't Try This at Home won a saboteur award, and The Rubery Book Award in 2015.

Angela Readman’s poems have been published in journals including The Rialto, Ambit, Magma, and Popshot. They have won The Mslexia Competition, The Charles Causley, and The Essex Poetry Prize. She also writes stories, her collection Don’t Try This at Home won a saboteur award, and The Rubery Book Award in 2015.

A Ten Question Interview With The Artist…Alan Catlin

Why do you write?

To live is to write, to write is to live. Everything else is just filler.

What books do you read?

I read around 300 books or so a year. Roughly half fiction, half poetry with a few non-fiction books; roughly ten per cent thrown in for variety. I actually keep a list of what I read, have read, extending back a number of years so when I pick a number like that it isn’t arbitrary.

Specifically, I like literary fiction but I am a sucker for noir. I can be seduced by a twisted mystery. Character is important and good writing. I don’t mind a plot, though it isn’t essential. Most experimental prose writing feels like medicine to me now so I don’t feel obligated to read something just because it is supposed to be innovative and good for my mind and body. Same goes for poetry, though I am a more eclectic reader of poetry than prose. A really good idea, well executed, is as important as a strong sense of language. I detest phony intellectuals, exclusionary cliques and arty academics. You know who you are.

What inspires you?

Most recently, I was inspired by an Art Exhibit called Extreme Art ,which featured non-traditional objects as the medium for creating art. Non- traditional items would include, among other things: garden hoses, twist ties, blood samples, crack bags, pills, statues of Elvis and so on. That set me off for three and half years.

If you don’t learn from the world around you, you might as well be dead. One of the joys of reading is discovering new ideas and new approaches and a unique way of viewing a subject. When I was working in a bar and commuting by bus to and from work there, I used to have all the free material I could ever w ant in this lifetime or the next. I kind of miss the religious zealots handing out pamphlets and asking leading questions like ,”Where do you think you are going to be when you die.” My usual replies often caused consternation. Their world view did not incorporate the 55 Bus from Albany to Schenectady as “hell on wheels” and my most likely destination to death. Especially if it was a Friday during the warmer months. I was accused of being, among other things: Satan, one of his minions or worse. Ah, the good old days.

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

I cannot remember ever wanting to be anything else though for awhile I imagined being a professional athlete but that necessary growth spurt never came.

How Do you deal with rejection?

I weep copiously. Actually, I usually don’t let it bother me and move on to more important things. Constructive criticism is good. Nasty stuff you can ignore. The really ignorant stuff, you write many letter to the editor about and, hopefully, never succumb to the temptation to mail them. I used to say with pride: I have been rejected by everyone. But the Internet changed all that to …just about everyone.

Who are some writers you admire?

I used to worship at the feet of James Joyce but that leads to some really bad places for a writer as there is only one Joyce and that’s the way it should be. Imitation may be the highest form of flattery but it is death to a developing writer finding his own voice. There are so many writers I admire the list would be different every time I made one. I don’t think anyone who came of age in the 60’s, as I did, can ignore the influence of Bob Dylan. Allen Ginsburg howling certainly made a huge impression. I can’t ignore Bukowski, though, I think people read him for all the wrong reasons and he has spawned a whole generation of writers who, regrettably, have read no one else. Sylvia Plath also falls into the wrong reason category. I much admired Ted Hughes at one time, though after Sylvia offed herself it became clear, she was the superior poet. I have like a thousand poetry books in the room I am typing this in and I could just start listing names and still leave out hundreds of poets. I like Alan Shapiro, Transtromer, Carruth, Berryman, Lowell, Michael Casey, Cid Corman, small press oldies but goodies like John Bennett, Winans on and on…

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

I have no other artistic talent at all. I used to fool with collages but my efforts are mostly lame.

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

Pay attention to those grammar lessons and learn the basics. And most of all, take Latin this time.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read all you can and learn from what you read. Pay attention. Write all the time even if what you write is no good. Learn from your mistakes. And most of all be persistent, no matter how discouraged you get: if you give up, you never get anywhere.

What is your writing process?

If it can be said that I have a process at all, it would be to have some sort of idea in mind when you start. I don’t need prompts but I often write to them. Prompts could be a title, a news story, a piece of Art, a great play in a baseball game, watching a symphony with the sound turned off, creating dialogue to a particularly bad movie, whatever works. Start at the beginning, that is once you have the opening phrasing, go with it wherever it takes you. A good start, though, is essential as everything that follows should be part of an organic whole . You might be surprised at the result of free association, within a vague structure of an idea, title, image, resolving itself so the author learns from the creation what the piece is all about and where it is going. One editor says your poems always read as if you were free associating something. Well, that’s because all of them are free associations. That doesn’t mean they end up exactly the way they were written down first time through.( yes, I do write poems in long hand but not prose. I’m not completely crazy) Revising is not cheating, it is essential. A typical poem goes through three versions. Maybe four. Though some many more. All poems are not created equally, though the process is virtually the same for each.

Alan Catlin is a widely published poet in the US of A and elsewhere.  His most recent book is “Books of the Dead: a memoir with poetry” about the deaths of his parents.  He is a retired professional barman and the editor of the online poetry zine  misfitmagazine.net.

Alan Catlin is a widely published poet in the US of A and elsewhere. His most recent book is “Books of the Dead: a memoir with poetry” about the deaths of his parents. He is a retired professional barman and the editor of the online poetry zine misfitmagazine.net.

I Will Never Understand The Alarm Clocks Of Better Living by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Always trying to move beyond yourself,
that is a lot of pressure.

With each word, each book,
each action…

No one else seems to feel
that pressure.

I will never understand the alarm clocks
of better living.

Waking up
before the sun.

Sitting in traffic
for 30 years or more
to get to a job
you hate

to afford
a family you hate
even more

the same way
spawning salmon
struggle upstream
against all odds

just to
die.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan presently resides in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with an acute case of cabin fever after another long Canadian winter.  He dreams of warm places and warmer women.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan presently resides in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with an acute case of cabin fever after another long Canadian winter. He dreams of warm places and warmer women.