Give My Love To Eileen by James Diaz

What was past
was really past
really happening so you could feel it
not above
but so low
for certain

thanks for the time
you bailed me out
with your new tattoo
3 am
rain in your coffee
my hands on your ass

Can’t find the car
So I love to lose
and your scars sweat all over me
dead beat cafe’s
sad
with wet hair
and winter stockings
licked you right up to the bruise
where you spread my name
close to your life line

Heart is where it’s at
though it wont look for you in a rain storm
casualty misfit
Hemingway halfway house for men
and girls under 26 who don’t mind sharing a bed
and hot chocolate fingertips
sawing through the cob webs
I wrote you a song 4 years ago
but I sold my guitar so I could get high one last time
and drive off the freeway
and hand you the keys
(last minute I looked in your eyes)
and walked out into the field
towards New Jersey
the red moon sunk behind tins of fire
Newark greyhound bus station
When Sartre said “ Go there “
we really did.

James Diaz

James Diaz lives in New York. You can find more of his writings, if you are so inclined, in Cheap Pop Lit, Ditch, Pismire, Collective Exile, and The Idiom.

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Shanty by Paul Sherman

In the brown-stained bar of the oak-beamed Cornish pub,
a singer of shanties, an aging salt, sings out his sea songs.
His face is as old as coral but his eyes are bright aquamarine
and he captivates us landlubbers with his every sung stanza.
Way haul away, we’ll haul away Joe.

Gnarled and grizzled, grey and frizzled, a living legend of the sea,
he holds his right hand to his face and weaves his ocean spell.
In his voice you hear the sea’s low gravelly roar
and in his fathomless eyes, you see the briny deep itself.
Go down you blood red roses, go down.

His tough and corrugated brows resemble sea grasses hugging the shore,
whilst his calloused hands are as eroded as the coastline.
The movement of his left hand is like a fish startled by a predator
as he punctuates his stories with short staccato stabs.
Take a turn around the capstan, heave away.

The scent of his oil skins carries the aroma of rum and tar and fish.
Stand near and hear his stertorous wheeze, like the wind on deck,
the result of pulling on his briar pipe and inhaling smoke for an age.
Sway his nautical swagger a step or two and feel the deck move beneath your feet.
Around Cape Horn where the stiff winds do blow.

He ran away from home, not yet a man, when just fifteen
and sailed his life away, from Portsmouth, on a barque heading for the East Indies.
This mariner has pulled many a rope in his time, long haul, short haul,
and barked out his shanties to the rhythm of the call.
Just tell me old ship mates, I’m taking a trip mates.

People with pints listen, entranced.  They experience the salt-flecked spray.
Through him they live the ocean wave and read the stars.
Nicotine stained walls bear silent witness to the folk tales that unfold
as they move to the grey-green ever-shifting floor of surf and sea.
Leave her Johnny, leave her.
For the voyage is o’er and the winds they do blow
So it’s time for us to leave her.

Paul Sherman

Paul is a teacher, author and director of Youth Drama. He has had short stories and poems published in magazines and online. He has also written plays which have been performed in various locations in the UK, including ‘the Arsehole at the End of the Universe’ at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Ten Question Interview With The Artist… Susan Evans

Why do you write?

Essentially, I write because I have something to say! Honouring the oral traditions of story-telling, I write for performance. I have to say that having something to say, doesn’t necessarily predict how a poem will come together ‒ artist, Paul Klee, suggested `taking a line for a walk’ sometimes my poems write themselves ‒ they take me for a walk! Ernest Hemmingway said: `Write hard and clear about what hurts’ I also write to relinquish difficult feelings ‒ a cathartic experience. Sometimes I write `to taste life twice’ ‒ Anais Nin. To record life… (I can get a bit twitchy if I don’t write; it’s a kind of affliction, also…)

What books do you read?

For relaxation, I mostly love biographies and contemporary poetry ‒ conversational, controversial, confessional, satirical, gritty realism! (Yes, I know, I said relaxation!)

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

I think I took writing for granted as something I just did ‒ as a small child, growing up in North East London in the ‘70s, our mother would walk us everywhere (no car; the bus a luxury) I’d look up at signs on shops and buildings; reading them aloud, as we traversed the concrete jungle. I just seem to have an innate love of words. I was regularly teased for having `swallowed a dictionary’ (I used to take the dictionary into the bath to learn new words!). I was set poetry homework from school and continued the pursuit, unprompted; recording myself reading ‒ the plan was to perform ‒ encouraged by playing lead in school plays; winning prizes. While studying performance at university, in my twenties, Dub Poet, Linton Kwesi Johnson came to perform for us; I thought `yeah man’  and boldly performed my own poetry during a mock assessment ‒ following which, my lecturer declared: `Susan does not need to reinterpret a text; she is her text’ that was a defining moment! Also learning that writing (as well as performance) is in my lineage ‒ my great grandfather, Harry White, was Foreign Correspondent for the Cambodian Embassy in London. Still, it would be another fifteen years before I opened my old, inherited, brown suitcase; bursting with writing for publication, and that’s another story!

What inspires you?

Real life inspires me ‒ the human condition: love, loss…adversity – the Suffragette Movement, for example. I’m pleased that `Suffragette’ an inspiring film, has been made; honouring the women, while continuing the campaign for Women’s Equality! `Inequalities’ inspires me. And the arts; particularly music ‒ our family’s eclectic, collection, inspired a life-long, love of lyricism. I felt very happy when Poet, David Mark Williams, reviewed my poetry as possessing `skilful word music’. I think growing up with such exposure has had an influence. I get very excited when I see/hear words in art ‒ from skilful performance poetry to street graffiti to contemporary theatre and conceptual art exhibitions. At art school, I made an off-the wall film installation, involving `alphabet spaghetti’ exhibited professionally (only available on VHS!). I hope to make more visual art in the future. Travel ‒ experiencing other cultures inspires me. My poetry is broadly inspired by relationships with people, places and politics…

How do you deal with rejection?

I think I’m quite grown-up about it! Is it just me who sometimes feels secretly relieved?  Poet, Paul Valery said: `A poem is never finished, only abandoned’ sometimes, I relish the opportunity to re-work a poem, having concluded that I may have abandoned prematurely (hopefully, I don’t submit these too often!) I also hold in mind that many editors are writers too; so also experience rejection ‒ so far mine have been infrequent and kindly. I tend to submit a selection of pieces in one hit; law of averages usually means they’ll be at least one acceptance in the bundle; always softens a blow. And with so many interesting, independent magazines/ezines with their own niche ‒ sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right fit, so I re-submit.

Who are some writers you admire?

Some writers I admire; who have stayed with me throughout my life, are: John Agard, Maya Angelou, Samuel Beckett, Alan Bennett, John Berger, Enid Blyton, Charles Bukowski, Kate Bush, John Cooper Clarke, Jarvis Cocker, Leonard Cohen, Wendy Cope, Ivor Cutler, Roald Dahl, Carol Ann Duffy, Ian Dury, Bob Dylan, Federico Garcia Lorca, Allen Ginsberg, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemmingway, Gil Scott Heron, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Rudyard Kipling, Hanif Kureshi, Phillip Larkin, Stewart Lee, Mike Leigh, Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell, Anais Nin, Harold Pinter, Sylvia Plath, Willy Russell, William Shakespeare, Nina Simone, Nigel Slater, Susan Sontag, Oscar Wilde, Muriel Spark, Meera Syal, Jeanette Winterson, Virginia Woolf, Irvin Yalom, William Butler Yeats and many more! (Including lots of new and emerging writers and lyricists; I’ll save for another interview!)

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

No, I trained in theatre and visual arts, as a performance artist, where my performance poetry emerged during the `In-yer-face’ 90s, under the poetry stage name: `Sue the Poet’ (together with some wacky video art! No Social Media!) I was a professional actress for a while, a theatre maker and artistic director. I also trained as a teacher; facilitating arts and wellbeing in mental health & social care, full-time, for over fifteen years; further training as a freelance arts therapist (drama). I’m very creative ‒ making a sandwich can be a work of art!

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

People you love have died prematurely ‒ it is okay to be sad and angry. You will `rise’. You will help to transform lives. Keep making art (your way). Trust your instincts. Believe in yourself. Be kind to yourself. Choose your battles. Keep it legal. Accept that coffee with Lindsay Kemp.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

A few notes from a performance angle; no doubt elementary for some: when drafting a poem, read your work `aloud’ – the best way to `hear’ if your poem sounds right is to `hear’ it. Tighten work by editing and re-editing; let it breathe and return to it. Practise before a reading/performance (note your running order, your timings, mark your pages – be organised!). Read and go hear other poets and show some love by not conversing throughout people’s sets or leaving immediately after your own; if you can help it. Be authentic: `To Thine Own Self Be True’. Believe in yourself!

What is your writing process?

My writing process is very organic; I’m not one for prompts and prescriptions, though appreciate that works for some. I just need time and space. I write in beautifully covered, chunky notebooks; plain paper (no lines, no margins ‒ can you hear the `rebel poet’ coming out!?) I mostly write in the evenings, black coffee and music while scribbling; complete silence for editing. I type final drafts and tweak on laptop (sometimes spellbound into the small hours). I’ve smaller notepads scattered around for `spontaneous’ thoughts (still manage to end up with a bunch of poems written on backs of receipts and envelopes…sometimes the urgency is too great for order!). I pour thoughts/feelings onto page; uncensored, later `playing’ with words and structure and leave for a few days or more; maybe work on something else before returning to drafts with fresh eyes and repeat…I do lots of thinking and writing in my head, while in the bath tub. Weekends, I sometimes write on Brighton beach or at a favourite cafe, where I’ve no inclination to `eavesdrop’ on other people’s private conversations, for inspiration (a pastime for some writers)., I’ve enough dialogue going on in my own head!  A `colourful’ life; I’ve never experienced writer’s block when `creative’ writing – it would be a bloody break quite frankly!  (Not to say I don’t ever write rubbish poems; however much inspired!) Finally, I record myself reciting new poem(s) and play back. Once relatively happy, I learn and perform/road test new material; further tweaking after gigs; depending on how it felt live. I’m also a member of Brighton Stanza Poets, an informal writers’ workshop, affiliated to the Poetry Society and attend when able, for a bit of social, offline sharing, with other writers who care about the craft.

Susan Evans Performance Poet Photo by Andrew King 2015

Susan Evans is a Performance Poet from North East London, living in Brighton. Susan’s performed at various, live literature events across the UK ‒ straddling stage and page, her poetry appears/ is forthcoming in: the Fat Damsel, (Take Ten, Issue 3) Ink, Sweat & Tears, I am not a silent poet, the Jawline Review, Lighten-up online, Militant Thistles, Message in a Bottle, Nutshells and Nuggets, Poetry Space, (Winter showcase, 2014) Prole (Issues 14 & 15) Proletarian Poetry, Snakeskin,The Stare’s Nest, The Yellow Chair Review, Writing Magazine (April, 2015) Your One Phone Call. Anthologies: Brighton Stanza Poets, 2013 (Bramley Press) Slim Volumes: No Love Lost and Wherever You Roam (Pankhearst) and Spotlights, 2015 (Paragram). You can find her here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Susan-Evans-Performance-poet/485340264922817

On the Day My Father Died, I Forgot to Say ‘I Love You’ by Amber Decker

There is always something predatory
thrashing in the dark, the rattlesnake
in its flimsy cage, bodies
of white mice lost
in its boneless coil.
Outside, the rain gathers
like men in gray robes;
the river swells like a corpse,
and the moon is a knife
cutting apart the clouds.
I listen to you put your son to bed
in the next room, hear you say goodnight
the way that fathers do
not often enough.
A moment of silence, and I wonder
if you lean down to kiss his forehead
or fuss with the blankets like you do
when we lay down side by side,
and you clutch me
like something bulletproof,
so close that your heartbeat
feels like an army of black horses
thundering down my spine.
What I want to say is
I love you.
What I actually say is
This is fine.
What I know is
there are too many wolves
in short, black dresses
howling outside this locked door,
and there are too many
loaded guns that fill the night
with their treacherous music.
Someday, my memory
will be an abandoned lifeboat
that was never strong enough
to save one blessed thing.
Clouds empty, rivers fill.
Fatherless daughters
want to seem fearless,
even after they’ve drowned.

AmberDecker_photo

Amber Decker is a thirty-something poet and musician from West Virginia. She is a lover of comic books, horror culture, good wine, tattoos, and rock and roll. Her latest collection of poems, The Girl Who Left You, is available from California’s notorious Six Ft. Swells Press.

Your Model Is Currently In A Private Show by Ben Newell

$30
one weekend

$60
the
next

this can’t continue

this has
to
stop

this
getting drunk
and
chatting with cam models

lavishing
them with tips—

show me your tits

show me your
ass

show
me your pussy

whoever invented this
was/is
an evil genius

and if I’m not careful
it’s
going to be
me
on that screen

giving
myself an enema
for
the rent I squandered

while playing
for
the other
team

Ben Newell

Ben Newell is a fortysomething library clerk in Jackson, Mississippi. His poems have appeared in Carcinogenic Poetry, LUMMOX, My Favorite Bullet, Nerve Cowboy, Pink Litter, Yellow Mama, and other underground publications.

Lighthouse Shadow by Howie Good

The train conductor paced the platform, taking hurried puffs on a cigarette, while angels hovered over the only country not on any map. Whenever an angel swooped down, the landscape turned a sludgy gray, a color euphemistically referred to as Lighthouse Shadow. Sitting blinking in a seat by the window, I felt as if someone else’s faulty heart had been transplanted in my chest. I was that anxious for the train to resume moving. My face must have betrayed what I was thinking: Every day 200,000 people – more or less – die. Some heard distinct words; others, only a high squeal. Still others experienced sudden difficulty in finding their way around. As the train pulled out, I took a last look back. Mothers and children, men and beasts, hung from the branches of trees where a roaring wind had blown them.

Howie Good

Howie Good is the recipient of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry for his collection “Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements”.

Flunking Physics by Jay Passer

with a full head of hair
and athletic ability
I fell in with ecstatic animals
dragged around the track by the scalp.

caught up in various schemes
I lifted stockpots rather than trophies
specialist in Benedict and bisque
quarks and multiverse pending.

now gray and receding
derelict to chemical predilection
damn, I sure as hell will miss
evoking the vengeance of black holes.

Jay Passer 2

Jay Passer’s work has appeared online and in print since 1988. He lives and works in San Francisco, the city of his birth. His latest chap, Flower Omelette, co-authored with Misti Rainwater-Lites, is available from Lulu.

Sunday Evening by Tom Montag

The slip-knot
tightens.

Another week
gone to nothing.

All the promise
comes to darkness.

All of hope,
to emptiness.

Tom Montag head shot

Tom Montag is most recently the author of In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013. In 2015 he was the featured poet at Atticus Review (April) and Contemporary American Voices (August), with other poems at Hamilton Stone Review, The Homestead Review, Little Patuxent Review, Mud Season Review, Poetry Quarterly, Provo Canyon Review, Third Wednesday, and elsewhere.

 

Celebration by Sally Evans

Your ninety-third, your ninety-fourth birthday —
we’re losing count. The big Double-0
isn’t far from sight, but you
don’t keep so many anniversaries.
Every month has its birth and death,
too much has happened in your life.
You now start remembering early
treasures, but not the dated kind.
The lie of the land where you grew,
the bustling excitement of cities,
when in youth you bought fashionable clothes,
when you went to parties
and stood in corners, learning
to lend your words to blank faces,
to dance, to be confident.
Nothing stands out as special now,
so many firsts and feats,
boat trips, train rides and arrivals,
friends, partners parted,
and so many relatives
you’ve lost count of great-grandchildren.
O to reach ninety-five years
and outlive the dates of things,
to wake up every morning on an anniversary,
on the promise of your memories
as you travel away from them.
Congratulations. Keep on surviving.
You are the oldest in our family
and I don’t want to take your place.

smaller sally

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).

Just Another Pearl Diver by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

The dishes
never stopped
coming

and my fingers
would wrinkle and tear
from the dishwater

being emerged
in the scum
and scrubbing for
so long

each evening

so that
when I got back
to my room
I would put gloves on
in summer
to hold everything
together

and lay in the dark
listening to the neighbours
beat each other
to a pulp.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.