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CONTENTS

Letter From The Editor

Dear Readers,

This Volume of the Magazine has surprised me at every turn, not only did our first round of submissions for the Volume yield an entire magazine's worth of material causing us to jump straight into Volume 6 subs the following month(!!!), but Volume 5 has been built exclusively using poetry and just 3 beautiful photographs.

By its very nature Spare Parts Literary is the beautiful sum of its parts, and the submissions we receive dictate the entire shape and feel of each Volume. Like the treasures brought in on a wave, an unexpected bounty, a collection of found things, each with its own private history, journey, meaning... yet somehow, held all together in the same cupped hands, they belong - each worn soft by their travels, each lost and now found, each wanting for a home.

With the sudden rise of the use of AI programs, the lit community are facing a bizarre threat to the sanctity and integrity of our craft. It strikes me as such a crazy situation - something I would delightedly read in a little SciFi pub and remark to friends "wow wouldn't that be nuts?" In fact I am tempted to open subs up in the summer to exclusively Anti-AI submissions (what d'you think? Let me know if you'd be up for something like this on our twitter page).

Humanity is on full display in Volume 5, the works in this collection explore our flesh, our souls and our spirits. Each writer challenges the ineffable, fully human experience of being, of living and hurting, loving, connecting, losing, listening, processing and seeking our place.

Spare Parts Literary is and always will be a place for these kinds of expression, for human to human contact, a safe place for the spirit.

So, it is with great gratitude and joy that I welcome you to read the beautiful, bruising & curative Spare Parts Lit Volume 5.

Oak Ayling

Oak Ayling

(Editor in Chief)

Vol 5.

PORTRAIT OF AN ALTER EGO

BY VIKKI C.

It is easy accepting you in a cracked mirror

and almost surreal how your features are not distorted

when an artist looks at themself, this is an everyday image

a face supposedly split by a fracture, which only beautifies.

 

I wouldn't trust the mirror or the light but

without calling on clichés of broken things,

life's portrait is most real when askew and tainted.

It must be from that time our expectations collided.

 

You often carried stones in your pocket and I made good attempts

at sinking my troubles in that Richmond river,

letting the trains run late in my head so I could blame the season for my languor,

your side of the bed darkens, even as amber translates my pale mourning body into pseudo-lilies.

 

Even when I think sadness has left and satori possibly exists, you sling a heavy object to remind us about the dynamics. Habitual damage before sitting like a deathwish at that illegal bistro, savouring overpriced oysters with Pinot Noir.

 

The mirror's bronze paisley frame keeps it together but weaknesses are showing.

When the faultline deepens and your torso is split open, you'd find no heart left. And I would not be surprised. But we'd call it artistry or something abstract and move on to the next wall. Wishing for a slight break. An almost feeling. The image of a raven.

21ST CENTURY PANACEA

History sleeps in half lit corners

the wells of my sad mascaraed eyes turning to the Cornish coast

the decaying orchard that swallows old light

homes we occupied as wildlings

cities that harbour the colours of morning afters

with laughter and promises in our bellies

the graffitied walls we denied vandalising with a Plath poem

 

the obsession of summer and your cologne

the affair, the marriage, the babies

the romance of decline, destruction, bad debts, gaslighting

the dose of pills to erase the trauma

the ones we take in excess for all the worlds we were not born into

we don't count years anymore, just wars that come through the window

chain your limbs to insomnia, relive that impact, of metal on flesh

 

(or your warm body perhaps, when things were good)

 

the divorce, the therapy, the isolation regardless of lockdown,

the hospital screens, the horizon – flatlining,

the ending, the aftermath – the poetry

when I am long gone, tell them I was an outcast and a bibliophile

who read and wrote many things,

but true revolution, the history of a woman – is not born in books.

VIKKI C.-.jpg

Vikki C. is a British-born writer and poet from London whose work features vivid imagery inspired by existentialism, science, nature and surrealism. Her poetry appears (or is forthcoming) in both print anthologies and online journals. These include Black Bough Poetry, Kobayaashi Studios, Acropolis Journal, Loft Books, Literary Revelations and Ice Floe Press.

 

In December 2022, Vikki released her debut chapbook 'The Art of Glass Houses' - a collection of aesthetic poetry and prose on intersecting themes of life, existentialism and art.

 

Whilst London is home, Vikki has also lived and worked in cities across Asia, attributing her artistic perspectives to such cross-cultural influences. She is an avid pianist and musician who composes with a focus on "cinematic style" accompaniments for spoken poetry and prose. Her voice and poetry have been featured in various spoken word and audio collaborations. Twitter

CAMERA GLARE

By Osahon Oka

The distant image of Christ

is a blood clot in the cornea

of the wounded. You can't

see his feet drip down from your crooked

neck, swinging to time, measuring

& measuring the mean & median,

the revolution of a door around its beam.

You can't hear his voice fall soft & palmed

on the head of the body fading beside him,

nameless. You're named in camera

glare, in the remorseless

scar of faces peeling off the cheap picnic

trip. & everyone is falling over to see

you, to take a part of you into themselves,

sacrament. But the saviour hangs

lower than a flag at half mast, knees

sagged with the weightlessness

of pain. You can't hear his ribs

creak like drowned ships rising

into wave & tow, pale as

peeled flesh & bone, grinding

through the straits, beached whales.

You don't hear your mother gently

pat where you first existed as

hope & how everything has flattened

into a silted stream. Christ

breathes, a rasp of wings returning

to roost & from among those removing

their eyes back to their clenched

fists, you dance leafless as a tree

in winter, shrieking curtains ripping

away, photographs in puzzle pieces.

Your head rests on the soft

shoulder of moonlight; aureole.

GNOSTIC

What if you're expunged from grace;

gnostic gospel & all the worlds written

inside you blacked out like state secrets,

Whatever you're growing towards

pulled from the earth's soft mouth,

harvested like organs & you're a lie

of existence, fiction? What if the wind

rubs callused palms against your epitaph

& you're made faint, unclogging

a sinking scream, lowering yourself

into rusty glow of harmattan but

your body is tactile, its heft shifting

the Earth's crust, the earth fueling

itself with absence, each shift of matter

cranking the engine room, motioning

the planet towards collision? Darling,

which millennium is buried

in your absence?

GROWING WITHOUT MOVEMENT

We are space, opened scab,

a wormhole filled with intent.

We do not know why but as mass

we determine. We decide.

Therefore we say progress, motion,

development. It is the thought

that counts, the idea, the wish

for things greater than where can I be?

or not. That is the question, isn't it?

That stills your heart, makes the world

tremble before your eyelids.

& It cracks, the seams running

with liquid mirror. Everything pools

at your feet & mostly, you go

without movement. We grow.

We amass, expand, deflate,

contract into tiny holes,

seeking for universes that will take

only us, only our names on

the blackboard, on the echo

of waterfalls & ancient caves.

Osahon Oka is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated poet. He is the winner of the Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest June, 2017 and a winner of the Visual Verse Autumn Writing Prize 2022. His poems has appeared or forthcoming on TaAdesa, WildPine, Icefloe Press, Crowstep and elsewhere. He lives and works in Benin City, Nigeria. Twitter

BOREAL TWILIGHT

BY MARTIN BREUL

Bronze undergrowth clings
to birch bark stems
like a congregation of acolytes
enveloping the marble shimmering columns
reflecting heavenly light in prayer.
In the clearing, a single rooted spike keeps apart
his frosted needles shiver with envy,
while the murky water whispers
crooked words to the outcast.

CURRENTS

Clouds are memories sublimating

then falling. Dropping into language

word by word, streaming in sentences

through a letter ocean congregating in

 

personal tales, holding out until

grammar is lost dispersion

syllables emulsify

and             become

 

shapeless; legible still

only through

foam patterns

                  forming           vortices

 

on top of the sea

         like the network

of calloused rifts carved into a palm

                       by age

 

unable to    find        words

for      what

            is

                         etched in skin

Breul_author photo.JPG

Martin Breul lives and writes in Montréal. His works of poetry and flash fiction have appeared in print and online with Acta Victoriana, Wet Grain, Variety Pack, Speculative Books, and others. He was nominated for BOTN 2023 and was awarded the Mona Elaine Adilman Prize for his eco-poetry by McGill University in 2021. Twitter

TOO WARM TO BE LUCID, TOO COLD TO BE DELIRIOUS

BY SAVHANHA SMALL Nguyen

We're about six degrees short of a fever dream,

of people perforating under streetlights

those everyday spotlights

 

warm your way into my heart

we need an excuse to justify

pleas of alimony

subject to subterfuge

help me to testify.

You're fucking ruthless.

I'll lose myself to you

my own self sacrificial lamb

feel you like a dying fire

desperation

thirst for first

 

I'm scared.

Hold my hand and help yourself,

I'm all yours.

 

Call me a nihilist, I only believe in myself.

 

This world rests on a bed of nails,

unsubstantiated claims of moralism.

 

Do-gooders, we all know better.

So do better

Do better than yourself.

I call that, progression.

 

To get anywhere, you have to surpass yourself.

That's the difference, see:

Between going nowhere and somewhere -

 

Take a step forward and drag that heap of blood, skin, and cells along for the ride.

You get lighter,

what with all the shit you leave behind.

Savhanha author photo.jpg

Savhanha Small Nguyen is an upcoming poet and writer from Birmingham, UK; her interests are poetry, people, and the sheer magnitude of storytelling through word games and the manipulation of language. Savhanha is currently experimenting with a range of artistic forms, attempting to redefine what it means to ‘perform’. In line with her cultural heritage, Savhanha is trying to reconnect with her Jamaican and Vietnamese lineage through her work whilst navigating the disconnect that these cultures have with her identity. As a poet, Savhanha explores trauma, memories, and moments of grief and joy that mark momentous occasions in her life. Twitter

ARITHMETIC WORD PROBLEM:
ON TURNING
FIFTY

By Bob King

We’re creeping up on 120 billion
people who have ever lived, with
about 15% of those, alive now. We
think that’s a lot, but if each of us
is a grain of sand, that’s only enough
sand to fill a swimming pool that’s
44 feet long & 22 feet wide & 4.5
feet deep. Yeah, I did the math.
I did the math because we’re always
thinking that if we can measure it,
we can give it meaning. Mass &
volume & time. Carbon & helium &
hydrogen & nitrogen & silica & oxygen.
And yet, we’d never call ourselves sand.
Instead, we tend to think we’re the shell
stuck in that sand, the shell that’s half-
in-half-out, emerging not retreating,
pearlescent & brilliantly painted by
nature & standing like a monument—
like a tree, as much visible as invisible,
waiting for a sunrise beachcomber
as the waves ebb on that island that
we can’t get back to soon enough.
That beach we think about as we
caress the hollows & points of our
trophy shells that now sit in the
crystal bowl in the living room.
Collecting dust. Those shells aren’t
toys but are daydreams & memories.
Sorry to tell you, but we’re not that
heirloom shell, either. We’re never
the lettered olive, lightning whelk,
or banded tulip we think we are.
We’re not even the cascading mix
of sand & surf who offered up that
gorgeous husk. We’re only the sand’s
dust, motes spinning through this
weird universe on our round rock
that for all purposes shouldn’t
even exist. Fluke explosion. Rock
among other rocks. Orb circling
other orbs at incomprehensible
miles per hour. Poof. Proof of
something-anything is all we
ask for…. Alright fine. All right,
how about this? How about the fact
that our rock is the only one with
wine. And art. And poetry. And
running & lush gardens & warm
rain & black basalt cobblestone streets
& tiramisu & hugs & a wife’s electric
laughter & daughters laugh-crying
into each other’s shoulders. And
love. God, there’s just so much
& so little at the same time. And so,
I think about all the people who
didn’t get to fifty, the tinkling tide
pulling them back to the depths
far too soon. I think of all those
grains of sand & beaches I’ve
dipped my toes into & shells I’ve
passed by or picked up or connected
with or caught a lustrous glint of
as another breathtaking sunrise
greeted me. Gosh, any day we see
the sunrise is a good day. And I’m
grateful. I’m just so terribly grateful.

THE BIRDS KNOW WHY

The birds know why my wife sleep-talk-
mumbled when I got into bed an hour
after her, & apparently only the birds
know why. The birds don’t know why
the English call their women birds, but
apparently Mary the Virgin was called
a
burde with a U & an E & as the spelling
changed, it stuck & the birds know
why. Or perhaps they’re jailbirds,
caged & singing, as when we
do bird,
slang for
doing time, & only the birds
know why & it’s not too different
from Americans &
chicks & yeah yeah,
can you dig it, you jazz saxophonist,
you Charlie Parker migrating your
notes all over Manhattan where &
when even the birds on the wires were
calling out our names like counted crows
& entertained & improvised & no longer
empty-staffed empty-noted sheet music.
Longing is both the cause & effect of
belonging.
My wife whose rump is sandstone
& flax / whose rump is the back of a swan
& the spring / my wife with the sex
of an iris / a mine and a platypus

& call enough women birds & soon
enough, you become the migrator,
you become the lonely traveler,
as lonely as a traveler in the American
West in a Cormac McCarthy novel,
which isn’t too different from loneliness
in a Hopper painting, which isn’t too
different from the French & their love
of alienation & existentialism, which isn’t
too different from both the myth itself
& the destruction of the myth of 
the American Dream, family unit,
masculinity or loneliness itself in
Willy’s death in
Death of a Salesman or
disintegration in a Sam Shepard play.
Like a Northern Cardinal sitting alone
in a berry-barren crabapple tree during
mid-December’s first snowstorm. Do
the birds know why there’s burnt toast
& corn husks all over the stage? Are
those same birds picky about the hybrid
crops they eat, particularly in the loneliness
of the season’s first snowstorm? Why some
birds can understand each other’s
separate language, while others can’t.
I’d love to speak French or Hindi, but
I’m a sadly single-tooled westerner.
Why some birds build & use multipart
tools & Homo sapiens can’t until our
5th birthday. Why migration, why brood
parasites or infanticide. Pebble exchange
& nests from fishing line & cigarette
butts. Why with that brain as big as
a grain of rice they can recognize human
faces, grasp self, act like Machiavelli,
display their façade memory like humans
& like humans give taxonomy to species’
feces, roll with monogamy or promiscuity
or corkscrew-shaped genitalia, & sort
those elaborate New Guinean jungle
courtship rituals, dressed in their most
glitzy & bedazzled Broadway costumes.

My wife whose hair is a brush fire
whose thoughts are summer lightning

my wife knows why Australian hawks
track brush fires & have even been known
to fly with lit sticks to drop & arson another
patch of scrub, shrubbery, undergrowth.
The birds know why. The birds know.
They know why curiosity—my wife’s
most noble characteristic.
My wife with
eyes that are forests forever under the axe
my wife with eyes that are the equal
of water and air and earth and fire.

And the Bowerbird asks, Are the blue
decorations enough for you? Are my
cognitive abilities capable enough,
to the point where you’d mate
with me? You do know you’re the
architect of my neural networks &
artistic creations, beauty evolved from
your perception of beauty, my survival
always mostly a matter of mostly your
aesthetics. Mini delicious flying dinosaurs,
I think I’d rather fight 1 10-foot chicken
than 100 1-foot white domesticated fowl
beside the red wheelbarrow glazed
with rainwater. Orioles & Cardinals
& Blue Jays & Sesame Street’s giant
anthropomorphic bird who frequently
misunderstands the why of the why,
& it’s not an albatross if you go to
therapy to learn to see things differently,
which is one of the main differences
between adult & juvenile feather
patterns. The fact is, the birds know
why if/when I have trouble sleeping,
if/why my brain’s on fire & need to
reset my hair on fire, all I have to do
is press my bare chest, my birdcage,
my ribcage to the back of my wife’s
ribcage, beats synchronizing like
jazz, like the release of something
terrible, just by naming it, just by
saying it & singing it & maybe even
loving it & the birds know why.

+ Inspired by The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think by Jennifer Ackerman (2020), The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman (2015), “Free Union” by Andre Breton (1921), “Round Here” by Counting Crows (1993), “Ornithology” by Charlie Parker, The Road & The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy (2006 & 2022), Nighthawks by Edward Hopper (1942), Death of Salesman by Arthur Miller (1949), Buried Child & True West by Sam Shepard (1978 & 1980), & “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams (1923).

WHEN INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE A TIME TRAVELLER

In part because you’re sipping espresso
or wine inside a deconsecrated church
with original frescos 6 hours ahead
of where you usually rest your head
& you pop onto a news website & see
there’s been another shooting targeting
the already-marginalized but you’ve not
been even a little marginalized because
of how you look, even if you don’t
ciao ciao
like the rest of the patrons & because
of your too pink complexion & short
black trench coat you keep getting
confused for an Englishman & yes
the leather store proprietor confirms
that that’s better than being American
because they are so stuck in the Wild
West past thinking they’re battling to take
the land-culture from the indigenous
kapow
kapow
& isn’t it nice to roam the streets &
not feel like your rights or lives are about
to be—
didn’t you all already fight that
battle? Why do you keep looking for more? 

Bob King lives just outside Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife whose thoughts are summer lightning. He teaches at Kent State University at Stark. His recent poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Viridian Door, Ink Sweat & Tears, Alien Buddha Gets Rejected Anthology, Bullshit Lit, The Red Ogre Review, Unlikely Stories Mark V, The Dillydoun Review, Emergence Literary Journal, Narrative Magazine, Muleskinner, & Allium: a Journal of Poetry & Prose. Twitter

THREE PHOTOGRAPHS

BY ANDY PERRIN

photo1 Andy Perrin.jpeg

COLD

By Andy Perrin

Cold is absence

 

                                    emptiness

 

a void

 

                        an echoed crack in the night air

 

Cold removes

 

                                    comfort and ease

 

a pain

 

                        a piece of news that buckles the knees

 

Cold envelops

 

                                    in negation

 

an embrace

 

                        reached out for but ignored too long

 

Cold lingers

 

                                    steadfast

 

a sorrow

 

                        until the day the red-winged blackbird returns

JUNE'S AIR

June’s              air                   soft                  and                      lightly                      scented

drawn            from              the                 lungs              then             spoiled

wretched                winds                   were                   all                   that                    were

           left           to            inhale              the      news           unimaginable           shattering

all        that                has               ever           been            known           forever              lost

Andy Perrin.jpg

Andy Perrin is a writer/photographer/cyclist/teacher from southern Rhode Island. Andy often explores the roads and trails near his home on one of his bikes. On occasion, while he is out exploring, he is moved to stop to take a photo of some inspirational thing. On the best days, the thoughts of the things photographed turn into words and the subjects of his writing.

 

Twitter

Instagram

STATEWIDE LOCKDOWN, DAY THIRTY

By Ace BogGess

The lowdown humdrum,

the blah, the meh

like I spent my life

visiting graves

of minor celebrities.

 

Talking heads are bored at home,

their ringtones matching

the drone of their voices on live TV.

 

Spring rabbits grid the yard,

adorable devourers.

 

I watch a long truck back up,

turn around in the cul-de-sac,

its squealing brakes

a scream that needed voiced.

"BUT WHAT WOULD THE NEIGHBORS THINK?"

question asked by Mary Carroll-Hackett

Loneliest celebration we have witnessed,

the party has gone on too long:

rock music booming, we hear none of it,

see no dancing, cars in the drive.

 

Where are the cocktail shakers,

where naked revelers

cannonballing into the empty pool?

 

We wait for fireworks

so we might phone the police.

 

Should officers arrive

they’d be drawn in by that sad, silent festival,

their nights ruined, paperwork in disarray.

 

How does one write a report

on nothing when it happens?

 

The middle-aged man

smokes a cigarette—bland & normal—

while he paces on the patio,

then goes inside to choose his darkness.

We hope he dreams a single rousing scene.

Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, including Escape Envy (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2021), I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, and The Prisoners. His writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Notre Dame Review, Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble. His seventh collection, Tell Us How to Live, is forthcoming in 2024 from Fernwood Press. Twitter.

A SONG OF BROKEN BONES

By David Harrison HorTon

The gown is made of a velvet

that darkens when sweat

rolls down her back,

as it is now.

 

The lemmings wish they were lemurs,

but do not have the vocabulary

to make the request,

so the grievance goes unfiled.

 

The weather has been recorded.

There has been weather.

 

The silver in the drawers

of our canister days

needs to be removed,

polished and hidden beneath the oak.

A SONG OF A SHOT FROM DOWNTOWN

The islands have been harried.

There is no need

of a fortress

now.

 

A dying man says he can taste

the junipers in his gin.

It does not matter

what color the walls were.

 

If you prefer the left, I will go to the right.

If you prefer the right, I will go to the left.

 

A man is lighting fires

in a drought,

waiting for a warmth

that must be stolen.

David Harrison Horton is a Beijing-based writer, artist, editor and curator. He is author of Maze Poems (Arteidolia) and the chapbooks Pete Hoffman Days (Pinball) and BeiHai (Nanjing Poetry). He edits the poetry zine SAGINAW. davidharrisonhorton.com

Twitter

UNTITLED

By MaT BlunT

Screaming into sadness he heads down the same avenue as before.

Knocking at the door

Medication, mediation, meditation once more.

Yet this time he owns the wheel

Knows how to steer and navigate.

He's stronger than before.

So he lets it take it's course

But sure , this time , he's sure

That the sadness will ease

The legs of jelly and arms of spaghetti will cease.

What people think, he's not sure

But does he care , is he at peace?

He tells himself no- liar!

But yes a survivor.

52 plenty to do.

So this may end not where he wanted it to be

But this time he's in charge

Watch this space.

Mat Blunt began writing in April 22, so it’s still a learning curve. He work in education, has 5 boys , a grandson and the most amazing wife.

"Spare Parts Lit chose to publish me and that gave me the courage to pop stuff on Instagram and also facebook, plus read out my words at open mic events." Twitter

I'M SURE IT'S BEEN DONE BEFORE

By ElizabeTh Gibson

I’m sure it’s been done before,

the rainbow quilt an oily ocean in the dark,

rumpled, froth of sheets shyly showing their face,

lone abandoned coat hanger tossed as a ship,

fat seal of purple rugby shirt, waiting for me

to slip it on as I read, and the yellow light

of squat turquoise lamp, way across the room,

how is it the only source of light here,

or of heat – apart from, I suppose, me?

 

I’m sure it’s been done before,

but I have no choice but to set down this love,

somehow, a painting of a painting of an ocean,

never again exactly like tonight, but I can try.

Bare feet, abandoned jeans, flip flops for the wood

floors outside, but in here, all is soft,

my cuboid of heart-chamber awash

with salty, messy ownership, the glory

and disbelief of it, that a home can be created

 

or can shake down into itself without you noticing,

until you sit in the right place, way across the room

from your lamp, mighty bed, adult bed.

EVERY NIGHT NOW THE WOODS ARE GONE

I call it a fox bark, though pinpointing

or forcing language on it is wrong.

Every two or three in the morning:

cock-crow, nails on blackboard,

a scream from a 2000s videogame,

sandpaper on a joint, walrus out at sea,

bone fragments of a forest ground to dust.

You will know when you hear it,

 

like you will know the smell of death.

Almost more bird than walking animal

yet it comes from a throat of fur,

rings of constricting muscle, warm belly,

sparks flashing in mammal eyes,

sound of acceptance: you can’t fly away.

Asking, like a dog, gamble of begging,

declaring you are still here, stripped

 

of your green cover. It is the night

being opened with scissors, jagged

and clean, brick hitting another brick,

red-orange dust staining tar-black road.

When we do catch a flutter of fox,

it is so barely-there, it makes sense

they are equipped with this volume,

miles of mourning, of witness, of proof.

Elizabeth Gibson is a queer, neurodivergent poet and performer in Manchester. She has been the recipient of a New North Poets Prize at the Northern Writers' Awards, and a Developing Your Creative Practice grant from Arts Council England. She edits Foxglove Journal, and her poetry has appeared in Atrium, Confingo, Lighthouse, Magma, Popshot, Queerlings, and Under the Radar. 

Twitter and Instragram

elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.com 

MORNING, NEW YEAR'S DAY

By Bill Verble

The glass slips and shatters

in the sink, slicing my hand 

still in a missed grip,

drops forming red suns.

 

We leave ourselves stunned

when we carry on in two worlds.

Even dreams can draw blood.

 

Shards glisten making blades

brightened in the light

of the young year.

 

We enter the ritual of renewal 

gathering what’s broken,

carrying what’s incomplete.  

WINTERING

Drape shrinking days in gray

fading color under 

 

a seamless dome. Wash us

not in waves but endless

 

drizzle with stinging chill

until the skin numbs.

 

Slow our pace to a plod

soaking through to the blood

 

suspending living in

reptilian stillness.

 

Bless us in frozen baptism

until light bleeds through

 

and our blood quickens.

The frosted shell cracks

 

but the pieces I will grasp

to keep my cloistered peace.

 

Oh icy darkness

do not cede again

 

to the sun-sprung spring.

I do not want to go.

MY GLOBAL POSITION

1.

 

I need to find my global position

I need a system to guide me

A system to reveal my destination

A system to show where I am in a chaotic world

A system for why I am

A system to take me to the corner office

A system to unveil its wisdom

 

2.

 

A global positioning system, GPS

GPS promises a pathway

GPS commands me to Turn Right on Vine

GPS leads me back when I don’t turn right 

GPS knows I’m imperfect and lost

GPS tells me in a soft voice when I’ve arrived

I hope GPS is pleased with me

 

3.

 

My global positioning system, my GPS

My GPS is unseen in the sky

My GPS leads all but I’m the only blue dot

My GPS warns of difficulty ahead, but I see nothing

My GPS shows several ways, but I don’t know the best

My GPS takes me through a strange side of town

My GPS doesn’t know Sam’s Bakery burned down

My GPS is failing me

 

4.

 

The system can’t stop this jam and I’m stuck

The system doesn’t tell you how steep this hill is

The system won’t tell you it’s just past the old cemetery

The system won’t point you to the Crab Nebula

The system won’t take you from temptation at the drive-thru

The system won’t lead you to the bread aisle

The system sent a man hurtling off a broken bridge

The system lured a family to freeze in back road snow

The system won’t lead you to a better system

The system is a war weapon

 

5. 

 

Why won’t GPS take me back to Granny’s kitchen?

When will GPS pull me from my dark days?

Can GPS go to where the stars fill the night?

The system has no answers to tell me 

when to step back from my children

when to cradle my father

when to overturn tables

when to hold hands with strangers

when to give alms

when to go back to the wilds

 

What happens to my blue dot when I have no more destinations?

Who positions the system?

 

GPS, speak to me, speak to me, speak to me

I hold you in my hand, speak to me

Bill Verble began writing poetry about five years ago as a remedy for a persistent creative itch and a desire to package as much meaning into as few words as possible. He’s inspired by his father, who was a poet-in-residence for a school system. His work has appeared in the The Poeming Pigeon and Okay Donkey. Bill lives in Lexington, Kentucky in the U.S. with his family. You can find him online on Twitter.

ABOUT LOVE

By Yuu Ikeda

Whenever she is sitting

at abyss of loneliness,

its silhouette appears

like blaze of a candle

that sways in the coldest night.

 

She reaches toward the warmth.

She craves the evidence that

she is alive.

 

Its fragility is like a flower

that only she knows.

Its intensity is like a puddle

that reflects only her.

SWEET NIGHT

Powdery snow is falling,

as if an angel is making dessert.

Sweet whispers are chocolate and cream.

Holy kisses are softness of sponge cakes.

And powdery snow is sugar

to decorate and complete dessert.

Yuu Ikeda (she/they) is a Japan based poet. She loves writing, reading novels, western art, and sugary coffee.

She writes poetry on her website. poetryandcoffeedays.wordpress.com/

Her latest poetry collection “A Knife She Holds” was published from Newcomer Press.

Follow her on Twitter and Instagram

SALLY ANN BAND

By Henry Hudson

At the corner of O’Connell Bridge

Abide with Me rose soft and low

As a band began to play anew

Hearing, my father took my childhood hand

“Come, there is something I must do.”

 

We walked the length of Dublin’s longest street

I knew the story well, Belfast 1940

When the British Army spurned my father’s crippled hand

His one-way ticket left him bereft

A Catholic in a Loyalist land

 

Salvation came from an army of that name

They freely gave him bed and board

Unquestioning of which god he cared about

And in the morning, a sterling pound

To take a Samaritan train back south

 

We paused when we came band-side

Then my father emptied his pockets

Surrendering every note and sou

To pay yet again a sacred debt

That forever would fall due

 

Six decades on Abide with Me

Still soothes my childhood soul

Hymn-embalmed by that Sally Ann band

And the silent fall of grateful coins

From my father’s crippled hand

Henry Hudson was born in Dublin.   He worked for many years in the Pigeon House power station in Dublin Port and then studied at the Samuel Beckett Centre in TCD as a mature student.   He is a former winner of the RTE PJ O’Connor Radio Drama Award, The Heinrich Boll Award for Literature, The Listowel Writers Week Playwrights Award and The Best Play Award at the Cork Arts Festival.   He has written collections of poetry and short stories, stage, and radio plays.   His novels Pulditch and Poor Lamb, Poor Lamb are available on Kindle Books.

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