The Collected April 2020 Ekphrastic Challenge (includes audio) Featuring the art of Jane Cornwell, and poets Ali Jones, Susan Richardson, Samantha Terrell, Dai Fry, Jay Gandhi, Megha Sood and Paul Brookes

The Ekphrastic Challenge April 2020 Front cover by Jane Cornwell

 

 

 

 

Here is the whole adventure:

April 1st

1

Treasure Hunters

“Arise, cry out in the night…Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street.” – Lamentations 2:19

Oppressor and oppressed,
Hunter and hunted,
May appear unalike. Indeed, they are.
But surface appearances
Are harder to distinguish
In dark of night,
When vibrant colors of
Royalty and wealth
Fade into commoners’ blues and greys,
Leveling the rich and poor, adult and child,
The sick and the well.
And all are finally forced to admit
The only treasure worth seeking
Is the future.

-st

Dreamscape.

After dark, your real self rises,
slips on midnight’s cloak.
This self can do everything
the daytime you is afraid of.

One night, full moon
riding a galleon sky,
maps a star path,
to show another you.

You mount a milk white charger,
gallop out across galaxies,
plunge and land, hoof-sure
on cool waiting sand.

There another you waits,
crouched and secretive,
mining something small
and furtive,a treasure, hidden.

You turn to face yourself,
here is courage, you had it all along,
there beyond far flung light, you stand –
reassembled, like grains of sand.

-Ali Jones

Tattooing the Sky

She rides into the falling darkness,
tattooing the sky with her fierce voice,
spreading a song of courage
that grows out of her bones,
takes root in the cadence of her heart.
She is a mother cradling you
in the warmth of the moon,
a sister who holds your hand
until you no longer feel afraid,
a friend who makes you laugh
with your whole body.
She belongs to the stars,
carries the fire of them in her belly.
When fear is a rampage that travels
in the hands of a virus over the earth,
she is the music that unites us,
the poetry that reminds us we are brave.

-Susan Richardson

Horse race

=======================

Gallop, my friend, gallop.
Those stars are waiting;
they beam & invite to a world
where light is currency. The
heaven is around the corner.
Jump over the stone walls,
trek through the rocky Alps.
Gallop, my friend, gallop.
Don’t stop to assist anyone.
No free rides, no empathy.
Water break is a luxury and
rest is a waste of time.
Gallop, my friend, gallop.
Every wound is a tattoo;
it shall re-iterate your tale
of pride and valour.
Yes, we will eat but only
after crossing the rivers &
swimming the oceans.
Trust me, you will not die.
You won’t die of exertion
& even if you do, you will
be a martyr; not a coward.
Gallop, my friend, gallop.

-Jay Gandhi

In A Grain Of Sand

flowerless worlds warm
under her sandals.
Some snick between
her toes rasp

her soft skin with their roll,
as they orbit her ridges

Among

the world’s she sees suddenly
two galaxies,
one white, one black.
Nestle in a bowl of planets

and then a snort

behind makes her turn
a rearing white mare
and its angry rider
shouts at her

stop disturbing worlds
with your feet, put down
The two galaxies.

And suddenly a flower is heaven.

She walks in a desert
where every grain of sand
is a world,
Her worlds are a desert.

Her turning worlds make
the horses ground so unsafe
the rider is thrown.

Her planets fill his mouth
and he drowns.

-Paul Brookes

 

April 2nd

20

Adolescence

One day, Jack and Jill walked out,
footsteps leading them, way from the town.
They trod through the mist beneath glimmering trees –
quiet watchers wreathed in verdant lichen gowns.

They walked velvet path, past beckoning swamps,
and warnings ignored, as tracks twist far away.
They wandered far into fairy tale lands,
where a spell kept them moving and they could never stay.

And all the while, the trees were listening –
to new beings travelling, the girl and the boy,
to the not quite grown ups, the people in between-
not old enough for choices, but just too old for toys.

The wise trees watched and the trees leaned in
wth their pooling woodland eyes and secret woodland ears,
and whispered sweet nothings, and sang spell melodies,
through dancing new spring leaves, and in rolling sap tears.

So little Jack and little Jill walked along the tracks,
Feet taking them beneath trees, never turning back.
Still, they wander on to the horizon’s gleam –
slipping the distance, through a nightmare’s crack.

-Ali Jones

Trees Hold Hands

above us, as we do below
and walk a hollow gate

a greenway without green

a tunnel, a way back
into a different womb.

Mam watches us as we get smaller,
and smaller, further and further away

as if we cannot and will not return.

She forgets the trees also hold hands
beneath us, so we walk through

a circle, a wreath of hands dancing in a ring.
So what appears lost will return again,

to green, a wreath is also a gift of flowers.

– Paul Brookes

In Dark Shadows

Empty,
Silhouettes Of life
Wait calmly In their steadfast way,
Where not even sun’s ray
Can reach the dark floor
As moss creeps quietly
Beneath all those stalwart trees
Beyond woods’ door.
And birds have hushed their calls,
As winter demands its annual stall Of energy.
Creeping things too,
Though they still creep,
Do so, more deeply.
But, the shadowed forest is full!
In dens and nests,
Red foxes and colorful fowl sleep.
For dormancy, though dim, is not death.

-st

Fallen Into Dusk

Gradients of time twist
and alter the colors of childhood,
memory disappearing into the marrow
of barren branches,
fading into fingers that pluck away color
and leave behind only shades of gray.

I try to keep one hand pressed firmly
into the memory of your touch,
how you soothed my sadness
and my bruises,
but the path to you has fallen into dusk,
the papery shards of my heart reduced to ash.

It is perpetual winter in my mind,
a landscape stripped bare to show the ache
that lurks beneath every budding flower.
It seems this is where I have always lived,
inside these pallid pages of clarity,
where the pain of missing you
lodges into my bones with familiar force.

-Susan Richardson

Generation

The trees have crossed
their branches to keep
me in the shade—
I prepare for my journey.
The branches once had leaves,
juicy fruits & beaming flowers;
all have withered in anxiety.
Come Fall, come spring,
the roots penetrate into every
corner of the earth and suck
every ounce of nutrition
and after all that these trees
have done for me,
all I will say is that they have
only done their duty.

-Jay Gandhi

April 3rd

19

Inhale

Can you remember when you held god,
close to your chest, and inhaled?
the animal warmth, butterfly heart,
the quiet still body, faking death,
fluttering a gentle warning in the chalice
of your palm.

Bring the bread up to your lips – here is the
body here is the blood.
We all do the same if we are left alone when
we can’t survive without another.
Sound alarm, if nobody comes, assume
a predator prowls – so mimic our end.

We knew we should never have touched the
hare, leveret beached in a quiet field,
mother flown far into the long grass, where
she waited with eyes like flaming torches,
helpless to intervene, as we passed the small
body, breathing in the enchantment.

When the church clock rang, the spell was
broken, wonderland now the back field again.
You placed the leveret back to earth, to root
into dash and scamper, box clever.
You took the breath of god with you,
clinging to your jacket like a hint of the hereafter.

-Ali Jones

Midwinter Is

all back to core and root,
scrapes off summer’s fat and muscle,
whitens the bones without leaves,
gust polishes dry skulls into mirrors,
bones into icy water,
a hollowed cavity
scratched out.

MidSummer is warm fur, throb
of our little hearts together
tickle of twitching hairs
as I hold close
my pet who snuggles then struggles
to leap out of my arms,
a wilderness in its rabbit eyes.

Midwinter is a teenage lad, on
his haunches – dead rabbit head hill,
in one hand, penknife cold in other,
catches the blade on the bone
and scrapes away the fur,
gouges out orbital cavities,
back to the bowls,
excavates the hollows,
oozes cherry red blood.

Midwinter is midsummer.
Midsummer is midwinter.
Every year these memories
overlay one another

as reminders.

-Paul Brookes

Comfort Haiku

as I comfort you,
your soft strength is evident.
you comfort me too.

-st

While you Can

Love fiercely while you can.
Hold him to your heart
and breathe in the scent of rain
lingering on the soft petals of his fur.

Speak gently while you can.
Wrap him in the silence of your eyes,
whispering into his fragile ears
that he is safe in your embrace.

Be patient while you can.
Understand that we all feel afraid,
staring out into a world that can crumble89i89
at the touch of things we cannot see.

Be kind while you can.
Make sure he knows you love him,
and when he is ready,
set him free.

-Susan Richardson

Sissy

Folks at school
tease me incessantly.
My colour is dull,
weight is double
and height is half —
enough fodder
for many days.
Every day when I
return home
my mother kisses
my forehead
and I feel
that I should live
for one more day.

-Jay Gandhi

April 4th

18

Persephone

Sometimes it takes a blast from above to wake
us up.
a crack of energy smacking the air, electricity,
ripe and dangerous.

Sometimes it takes a storm to clear the decks,
the pitch and glitter,
to roll us dangerously from tide to time,
nearly capsizing, but righting just in time.

Sometimes it takes a long night of the blackest depths,
to take us far underground,
where there are no promises
of return words fade away.

Sometimes it takes a near apocalypse
to make you seen the lone tree,
reaching for tomorrow,
always striving on, as clouds break to full sun.

-Ali Jones

My Flame

flickers cold shadows over your skin,
dances into your curves as a cloud
passes over a valley its shadow dips
towards a swerve of water,

the dark copse darkened by the sip
the sup of clear water that beckons
my tongue taste its brightnesses
that is the perfume in your curves.

-Paul Brookes

Feathers

(for Sarah)

After my mother died,
feathers seemed to tumble
from the sky,
small patches of light piercing
through the grip of a tempest,
appearing in the most unlikely places.

The first one I found on the white shag rug
that covered my bedroom floor,
dark as ink with red
running through it like veins,
as I danced alone to Earth Wind and Fire,
my mother’s favorite band.

Another, bushy and plentiful,
spotted like the tail of a calico cat,
I found nestled on the seat next to me
in an empty movie theater.

Marking a page in my most treasured book,
one my mother had given me as a gift,
I discovered a feather so delicate,
it could only have come from a dove.

For years I kept every feather I found,
on car seats and park benches,
in coat pockets and buried in coin purses.
I believed each feather was a message,
my mother reaching out
from wherever people go when they die.

I didn’t know Sarah then.

We met decades later,
when grief colored
every inch of her landscape,
strength and sorrow inseparable.

The morning her mother died,
a feather appeared,
breathless like a petal,
in the middle of my kitchen floor.

-Susan Richardson

Empathy

Horizon is grey except
a patch of white—
Dark skies have
disowned this chunk.

This odd man travels
tirelessly with clouds
to align itself over
a stripped barren tree.

All other trees in
the vicinity are green.

-Jay Gandhi

withering

Faced with the eye of the storm,
I find my roots are too deep to run.
I wither as I wait.
“This too shall pass.”

-st

April 5th

18

Persephone

Sometimes it takes a blast from above to wake
us up.
a crack of energy smacking the air, electricity,
ripe and dangerous.

Sometimes it takes a storm to clear the decks,
the pitch and glitter,
to roll us dangerously from tide to time,
nearly capsizing, but righting just in time.

Sometimes it takes a long night of the blackest depths,
to take us far underground,
where there are no promises
of return words fade away.

Sometimes it takes a near apocalypse
to make you seen the lone tree,
reaching for tomorrow,
always striving on, as clouds break to full sun.

-Ali Jones

My Flame

flickers cold shadows over your skin,
dances into your curves as a cloud
passes over a valley its shadow dips
towards a swerve of water,

the dark copse darkened by the sip
the sup of clear water that beckons
my tongue taste its brightnesses
that is the perfume in your curves.

-Paul Brookes

Feathers

(for Sarah)

After my mother died,
feathers seemed to tumble
from the sky,
small patches of light piercing
through the grip of a tempest,
appearing in the most unlikely places.

The first one I found on the white shag rug
that covered my bedroom floor,
dark as ink with red
running through it like veins,
as I danced alone to Earth Wind and Fire,
my mother’s favorite band.

Another, bushy and plentiful,
spotted like the tail of a calico cat,
I found nestled on the seat next to me
in an empty movie theater.

Marking a page in my most treasured book,
one my mother had given me as a gift,
I discovered a feather so delicate,
it could only have come from a dove.

For years I kept every feather I found,
on car seats and park benches,
in coat pockets and buried in coin purses.
I believed each feather was a message,
my mother reaching out
from wherever people go when they die.

I didn’t know Sarah then.

We met decades later,
when grief colored
every inch of her landscape,
strength and sorrow inseparable.

The morning her mother died,
a feather appeared,
breathless like a petal,
in the middle of my kitchen floor.

-Susan Richardson

Empathy

Horizon is grey except
a patch of white—
Dark skies have
disowned this chunk.

This odd man travels
tirelessly with clouds
to align itself over
a stripped barren tree.

All other trees in
the vicinity are green.

-Jay Gandhi

withering

Faced with the eye of the storm,
I find my roots are too deep to run.
I wither as I wait.
“This too shall pass.”

-st

April 5th

17

The Lucky Hook

I always remember when we’d gather to watch,
the plug-hole whirlpool, vortex or portal to a magic kingdom.
We were convinced that we’d fly into another world,
where we could talk to animals, and trees might well
scoop us up in leafy arms and take us for a ride.

At the fair that autumn I fished a yolk yellow duck,
from a bare bulbed pool, taken in by the caller’s cry,
To try my luck, to win a prize from the lofty shelf, behind.
some were always out of reach – the house always wins.

I was happy with the plastic consolation, a dinosaur,
My mother part embarrassed and more indignant, when,
the brash faced man asked if I would rather have another –
A ‘little girl’s prize’ he called it – but I knew the dinosaur

was meant to come with me. I played with it in the bath,
washing off the glitter and tilt, and cling of apples, cinder toffee,
candy floss caught in my hair, and gobbled like a cloud –
held in the hands, yet already going away over the hills.

My dinosaur was slippery as a secret, and didn’t last long enough,
not even for a name.It danced in waves of Matey, as when,
I was extracted and the plug pulled, it followed the whirlpool steps, choreographed to swim into an underwater world of walking trees.

I should have begged my Dad to mine the garden,lift the manhole cover,
pry the archeology of what we wash away, – rubbish and treasure can be the same things, just wearing different clothing. But I didn’t – I cried into my empty palm,keening, while my monster friend swam free at last.

-Ali Jones

Destinations

Companions of the deep,
Where do you roam?
You look the same Awake, and asleep.
Do you ever fear
You’ll pass it by
— Your destination–
In your slumber?
Or, do you have one?
The whole sea,
And each other
Are your home.


-st

Free Death

The bubbles in aquarium
continually judge
themselves and trudge
before they pop.

In the deep seas they swim
and raft along the tides,
celebrate life
before they pop.

-Jay Gandhi

Majesty of Silence

We sink beneath the waves
where sound dies
and is reborn in a majesty of silence.
I watch my voice float
so softly
from the tip of my tongue,
quietly leave the confines of my body,
longing to break the surface.
It is easy here in the water,
to turn away from pain,
to feel weightless and beautiful,
to forget.
We swim together,
faces eager to reach the secrets
waiting for us
in the cradle of solitude below,
feet pointed to the sky
in a tranquil gesture of farewell.

-Susan Richardson

The Cost Is Prohibitive

to refreeze the poles,
bury carbon dioxide beneath the oceans,

to save our fellow animals extinction,
the death of insects.

We have to watch the pennies
to manage this extinction event.

The cost will be too high.
We could bankrupt ourselves
to save the earth.

Is it worth becoming paupers
to save this planet?

Count the pennies in your purse.
Count the lives in your hands.

-Paul Brookes

April 6th

16

In Praise of a Pet

Little one, my first friend. I named you for a story, the 1950s volume,
my mother brought out like a surprise every
Christmas – Belinda, my rabbit.
all nose twitch and whiskers,
and power kicks when least expected.

Sometimes you would romp the garden,
tunnelling in the flowerbeds, excavating borders,
looking for an escape route, like that other story rabbit.
You always put up a fight
when we cornered you, guilty among the radishes.

One morning you left a surprise.
It was clear you had been to the ball,
no longer a stay at home, minding the hutch,
tending the run in envy
while your wilder cousins danced out by the full moon’s gaze.

Your prince wore a red fur coat and a special smile,
and I like to think there was a wild kiss chase,
where like Rhiannon, you didn’t stop –
not until he asked nicely.
There was no glass slipper, just ears

as a memento, placed beneath my favourite apple tree,
A lucky paw, unlucky for you,
dropped under the mulberry like a charm.
Little one, I never replaced you,
but I keep your power – always unexpected.

-Ali Jones

Flora and Fauna

Held captive
As
You gaze,
I wonder
How long
This will last.
Your friends, and my own
Rest silently
Nearby In some lush meadow,
Where, surely,
Soon I’ll join my ancestors In the earth,
To spring forth
Again; feed your young, Or dress a table.
When all is lost, loss offers new gains.

-st

I promise

to shower you with daisies,
keep you fat on petals and love.
I promise to hold you
close to my heart when you feel afraid,
whisper soothing words
into your ears,
stroke them gently.
I promise to share my secrets,
to lavish you with affection,
even the parts of you that are worn.
Especially the parts of you that are worn.
I promise to lock sadness in a box,
hide it on a high shelf so you never
have to see how much life hurts.
I promise to open the gate,
release you into a field
of sunflowers,
and remind you every day
that you are home.

-Susan Richardson

Honey Bunny (children’s poem)
=========================
The bunny scrambles with a rose,
hassles towards the valley and goes
to meet his lover waiting from long.
She’s jittery, livid and headstrong.
On reaching bunny bows on knees
and offers piece of cottage cheese.
Declining food she turns her back
and bunny gets anxiety attack!
Next up he gives her sugar ball.
and tiny effort hits the wall.
Then finally he gives the rose.
The happy lady jumps on toes.
She kisses bunny on his lip—
He smiles; all went as per the script!

-Jay Gandhi

Escaped

I am caged, cooped up, kept in.
He pokes freshly pulled grass
and leaves through the thin wire.

I am bigger than this prison
he cleans occasionally
whilst I hop about the garden,

Explore escape routes, test fences
and garden walls for weaknesses, before
I am grabbed, cuddled and imprisoned again.

One morning he will find the door hanging
by one hinge after I have busted out.
One morning he will cry because I am free.

-Paul Brookes

 

April 7th

15

Forest Fire

When the sun burns too brightly and everything is rinsed dry,
The sparks spreads like gossip around an urban school gate.
Trees have lost their speech, stand silent witnesses to all.
Everything is going out, not in a two by two procession,
But in a rip of tooth and claw, flashing beneath a flame’s roar.
Everything is dwindled to ash, and rising isn’t a promise.
We do not always come back to the places we need to be,
The wheat grows thinner and the salmon do not leap.
Pain rises gently with the dawn, inviting, before it blinds, again.

– Ali Jones

Ever Upward

“As the deer pants for the water, so pants my soul for You, O God.” –Ps. 42:1

Remember when running with the deer
Was sufficient?
When carefree
Innocence
Was not frowned upon?
When fleeing a fire to safety

Seemed a success?
Now, it’s not enough.
Once the world caught fire, it became
Inadequate to simply run.
Neither is it,
To stay

Staring helplessly
Into its flames, watching
Our global future go up in smoke,
Filling the air and our lungs With all-consuming dread.
But the spirit, too, is a flame,
an ever-changing,
constantly-lapping, bespoke

Force, striving upward
Against gravity.
Away from fear, yes.
But towards?
Towards also:
Towards health;
Towards clarity;
Towards restoration;
Towards the well-spring of life itself.

-st

A Salamander’s Wool

Asbestos lobs my dad in the fire
to see him survive the scientific method.

Flames burn up all his oxygen,
fat slips off him. There is no rotted

log for him to escape consequences,
a miraculous lizard scarper from hollow and heat,

a life born from flicker and burn,
misconstrued into myth and legend.

Salamander’s Wool inside his lungs
left in his ashes a whiter remains.

-Paul Brookes

Monsters

I always thought that burning
would be the worst way to die,
scorched and consumed
by mother nature’s rageful side.
In my dreams, rage is spattered in red
and monsters are made of flames,
throats of fire that swallow heartbeats
and pull the skin from trees
with voracious tongues.

Some nights I wake up screaming,
flames engulfing the stars and blossoms
that decorate my wrists.
Some nights I survive the fire,
marvel in the new breath of flowers
that rise from the ashen earth,
wake up feeling resurrected,
weightless and laughing.
Some nights, I don’t sleep at all.

-Susan Richardson

Amazon

The antelopes are parched and pines are scorched;
The mother Zebra cries and canines howl,
tiny insects are dead and homes are burnt.
but all they want to know, who started the fire.

-Jay Gandhi

April 8th

14

Spring Step

When I first learnt about Goddesses,
I was impressed – especially with Flora
who could seed flowers
as she stepped.

I liked how Boticelli saw her,
wearing a living gown,
holding her gaze.
I was never so sure about the festivals,

Hunting goats and hare,
the sacrifice of white female beasts,
The blood on the earth
of the clean white temple.

I think Flora would prefer
a religion of the green thumb,
where worship goes into the garden
wielding a trowel.

Where each small action
becomes a prayer.
Sometime I think I see her watching me
through the knots

in the trunk of the silver birch,
always reaching out to me,
in moments when sky fills my head –
urging me to bloom.

-Ali Jones

Where Feet Trod

Lead on.
Take my body
Wherever I must go.
Through pleasant,
Flowered-fields, and
Rocky trails also.
Why we walk there,
Those difficult paths,
I’ve never understood.
But I must admit,
The feet tread only,
Where the mind instructs.

-st

Path Of Seeds (Vacana)

O, Lady of the breath,
selfish and in control,

you decide the path of seeds
you carry and drop in my grove.

Landscape architect place
an acorn here, a Daisy here,
chestnut over there. No negotiation.

Blow my intricate clocks into half spheres,
my Sycamore immigrants spin
through your gusts.

Shoot moss into these worn mortared walls.
Broadcast grass between these carefully
laid pavements.

With you I have no choice
you deliver into me
whatever you hold.

I welcome your unexpected gifts.

-Paul Brookes

Feet & petals (a poem for Corona warriors)

Those eyes have missed a lot of smiles
and feet have run a lot of miles.
In hospitals they’re on their game,
they have a mighty beast to tame.
their noses bleed because of mask
and pumping hope is major task.

But they will have a warrior story.
Those feet will stride away in glory.

-Jay Gandhi

Frolic

I have never frolicked barefoot
through fields of flowers,
breathing in the sweet caress of petals,
delicate against my heels and toes.
Mine was a beach dwelling family,
addicted to waves,
being pulled under and vanishing.
As a child I ventured in slowly,
afraid of the ocean’s vast arms,
shells that seemed to have teeth,
the sting of jelly fish.
I preferred playing in the sand,
where I could bury my feet,
feel the grains solid and smooth
between my toes.
I think I would have liked the touch
of flowers, fragrant and gentle,
the safe mantle of trees
sheltering me from the sun.
Maybe there is still a field
waiting for me to frolic over its petals,
willing to welcome my old and tired feet.

-Susan Richardson

April 9th

13

Anchor

It has been noted in the village,
that she only ever goes to church,
when nobody else is there.

It has been said that she does not
require a congregation, prefers
to air her petitions to stone in secret.

We have watched her sliding by
on that old fashioned bicycle,
chain purring like an elderly cat.

She smiles, but does not stop,
not for anyone. Once I caught
her coming out of the church,

manoeuvring the great North door,
that rides beneath the constellations,
as love spins the universe round.

She did not leave immediately,
but processed from yew to yew,
wishing them well, enquiring their health.

At the time I thought it strange,
but now I understand – nature moves
on what priests hold in their hands.

-Ali Jones

Religious Figures

Shadows of figures
Move in and out
Around the churchyard
At ease,
Carrying only their burdens,
Or their joys,
Taking for granted
The vastness of the space,
Regardless of its
Actual dimensions.
Its openness reveals the
True weight that ails
Mortals comes from within,
Not without.
The sun that shines, or rain
That falls, appears to be brought,
Not bought,
Nor borne of environment.
Sometimes the churchyard
Is more freeing
Than the church.

-st

Our Unicorn Spire

rises from the head
of a wild, untameable animal
with frozen strength and agility.

As a schoolboy I placed
paper over a stone in the walls
built to hold this force,

asked to rub with coloured pencils,
or chalk to get the complex
lines and changes I was more

distracted open mouthed at the horn spire.
We entered the beast at Easter,
Harvest and Christmas.

Sometimes its insides were full
of flowers and fruits, or holly
and candles. Mam said “Unicorns

don’t exist'”, and showed me pictures
of Narwhal and Rhinoceros. The village
church was more magical than those.

My unicorn was frozen
into stone and villagers hollowed
it out to make a church.

I still remember the teacher
asking me why I hadn’t finished
my stone rubbing. I stayed stum,

afraid of being called “silly”
or “he’s in his own world, again”.
It was wonderful having my school

next to a petrified creature.
When we studied fossils,
I wanted to point to the church.

I wanted to rub my hands over its flanks,
Imagined it breathing, knew graveyard walls
could not imprison it forever.

-Paul Brookes

No Rolling Credits

Beneath these massive marvels,
the bodies of those masons
are buried— without coffins.

The architects took the cake.
Queens plundered the fame.
From the woman

who placed first brick
to the man who applied

final stroke of brush:
all are dusted. Names

have been forgotten.

we never memorised
in first place

-Jay Gandhi

Relic

Vapid shadows of strangers
glide past her as if she is a ghost,
a relic fallen into mist,
but those who are quiet hold
the darkest secrets.
She sits in the eye of the sun,
stone bleached mouth
ready to unburden memories
from her fading façade.
She has comforted sinners,
pulled blood into her chalky marrow,
cajoled pennies from the arthritic fingers
of old women and men.
She has been a shelter and a jail,
inviting in the weary to steal their resolve,
locking doors and hiding keys.
She is the bitter crone that lives
in the pocket of a mother’s frock,
the lion hiding under a kind tongue.
Do not be fooled by the worn skin of her teeth.

-Susan Richardson

April 10th

12

Petrichor

Forests feel no fear,
the miles go on,
so many behind us.

Fear not, you are
who you are,
until you forget
where your shadow falls.

Jump into the lower branches,
open your arms wide,
to gather in the trees,

when the moon goes out
you will know the way,
your hands will give you,

a second chance, don’t be afraid
to empty yourself of sound,
try to be alive for longer.

Failing is fine, the best part
of the heartwood is where
you are going, with dead friends,
passing through like falling mist,

tune out, tap in.

-Ali Jones

The Language of Trees

Confession #1:

I’m no good at drawing, but I
Always thought I was pretty good at trees.
Don’t tell them.
They might whisper it
To one another through their
Underground fungal tendrils,
The ones the scientists call “mycorrhizal networks.”
Then, I would be embarrassed by my muse.

Confession #2:

It’s silly, but I think I understand the trees.
And, on bad days,
If I could get deep enough into the woods,
I’m sure they would embrace me, envelop me
In their stillness and strength,
Maybe even mistake me for one of their own
Instead of the imposter that I am.

Confession #3:

If the trees could see me
For who I am,
I have a feeling
They would keep me anyway.
It’s the way of trees–
To listen first,
Then speak up
For their neighbors in need.

Confession #4:

It turns out I don’t yet know
The language of my muse.
But they know mine.
It’s a skill, to know as we are known.

-st

Let Me Pass Through

city walls that bind all your threads together,
walk through this wood,
let your cityself take same walk,
see buildings as lone trees,
homeless hostel is an oak,
butchers, a willow that bends
down over the stream
where jammed traffic swims.

A dead bird breathes,
animated by flies,
is a man in the corner who sings
the blues to passers.

That fall of a leaf
a tickertape homecoming parade.
Your pavement footfall
echoes in my forest.

-Paul Brookes

Fog Rolling In

The neighborhood of my first steps,
first crushes
first kiss,
was a place my Mom called, “The Hill”.

It was a neighborhood born into sunshine,
cul-de-sacs trodden over by barefoot kids
who played outside almost every day,
walked home from school
unhurried,
unafraid.

On the handful of rainy days
that fed our thirsty streets,
Mom picked me up from school
in her powdery grey fiat,
rain turning the windscreen into an ocean.

I remember her happy on these drives,
meandering up roads so steep,
we could feel the car swaying in the storm.
We sang along
to the soundtrack of Evita,
accompanied by the beat of the rain.
She was always Che.

As we traversed the battered spiral of streets,
arriving at the final climb
to our shrouded suburban kingdom,
she would smile as big as the sun,
take a long deep breath and squeeze my knee,
“Do you see,”
she’d say,
“the fog is rolling in.”

=Susan Richardson

Just Anther Relationship

Day #10 Jay Gandhi

-Jay Gandhi

April 11th

11

Lament

They were always barefoot,
the shoes they had were shared.
They went to church on Sundays,
to show the Duke they cared.

The father rose so early,
two haddocks on his plate.
Set against the time and tide,
‘til he met a watery fate.

They sailed out far to save a boat,
that struck upon the rocks;
floating fast above the foam,
where screaming seabirds flocked.

The turning tide was not their friend,
upon that fateful day;
the swirling currents sucked them down,
forever drowned to stay.

In gansys, mittens, oilskins,
lost deep within the waves,
with selkie sisters fathomed deep,
within a watery grave.

The sea, the sea, the sea our friend,
she brings us endless joys.
The sea, the sea, our enemy,
that she smashes boats like toys.

-Ali Jones

When the Sails Were Still Up

The American experiment
We learned about in school sailed straight
And true, with sails full of the winds of change.

The ocean was large, yet
Our nation was somehow larger.
With Manifest Destiny we claimed her.

But that was only the beginning of the journey.
The real claiming
Was in the taming Of our hearts,

To deserve her rich peoples
From all the world’s corners.
When we were her sailors,
We didn’t always steer right, but the sails were,

Indeed, still up.
We made corrections to our errors.
Now, sails down,
We watch helplessly

As she blows listlessly,
The victim of plutocratic pirates
Fighting over the helm, discussing her direction.

Whichever course is set,
presumes to dock her
at the same sad, destination.

-st

Age is only a number

When the Captain looks in the glass
river he sees another father’s face.
Another father who wishes only to hold
his son again, to say he is sorry he cannot
save him from the water that empties
life out of his lungs at twelve years of age.
The Captain is Second Mate again on the clipper Cornwallis
homeward bound for Liverpool,
is ashore at Bounty’s Pitcairn with his Captain for provisions,
Sees his ship come close in , then too close in
wreck upon rocks so the island folk and crew
run to the shore to rescue what they can,
A twelve year old boy, an island son swims out
to save what he can against
relentless crash and work of waves smash
all wood to smithereens, drag him under
And over and under until the wrecked ship’s wood hits him hard
maelstrom buries him at sea, and his mam wails
and wails and father needs to throw himself
into the waves to find his child, as river Captain now
knows every bank and curve of this Fitzroy river that has taken
his twelve year old son and the Captain sobs
for that other father, for both sons,
for the broken ship is his heart.
-Paul Brookes

Talisman

The sun falls like a talisman
pushing her sails toward the edges
of an autumn afternoon.
She is blind to what lurks beneath,
what may be waiting
on the watery path ahead,
but she glides onward,
tall and proud.
She never makes a sound.

-Susan Richardson

Vasco da Gama

I drift towards the foreign shore
and may not get the food to eat.
A place where hungry lions roar
and sands refuse to kiss my feet.
I will pluck the fruits from tree;
find waters to quench my thirst,
roam like a wanderer, remain free
create a house; survive cloudburst.

-Jay Gandhi

April 12th

10

The Silver Darlings (After the Wick disaster 1848)

Was that what we called them?
As they slipped between our hands,
from gutting table to salter
to packer to barrel, clogs in time.
We never minded the rising red,
the stink that told you of home.

From what I remember, the day was ordinary,
August heat, and a fleet sea sortie.
set south, on the Lammas tide,
out beyond the bay to the horizon,
a night fall, nets shot – waiting.
Everyone breathed with the wind.

Some did read the signs in the sky –
turned before the angry clouds
chased them back to shore,
For the last time. In the growling gale.
columns of air, walls of water,
before they knew it they were on the rocks.

We watched, spectators sewn together
in hope, willing them back in on wings
and moonlight. One by one, briny gauntlet
ran,wood kissing wood in awkward embrace.
The maths worked out like this, thirty seven gone,
equals sixty three fatherless children,
seventeen widows.
Nobody sails the lammas tide

for fear and superstition.
What have we learnt?
That a small keel will not favour a strong swell,
that fore and aft you must do more, always.
Ninety four over thirty was enough for our small town,
Black Saturday is still a thing.
There is no memorial though,
the sea always made a pact,
to keep hold of the dead.

= Ali Jones

Adornments

Variants of blue fish
Uniformly line the dresser runner
My sister bought for us in
East Africa, some years ago now.
They keep order
All day and night,
A neat school
Side-by-side-by-side,
An ornament to the dresser,
That decorates our bedroom,
Storing ornaments for the body.
But what decorates our souls?
We need loaves along with our fishes,
Humility along with our pride,
Chaos along with the order of
Fish swimming on white linen.

-st

Kill It My Sister

screams at the fish flap
gasp for air on Flamborough’s

Summer warmed stone quay
where moments before
we lobbed our line
into an income of waves.

Smash its brains out. Its what
You’re supposed to do.
You’re scared.

As the fish eyes memorise my face.
You do it then. I say.

and recall our glee.
Caught one! she shouts.

You do it. I say,
as the fish struggles for air.

I caught it, Its your turn,

I remember when we got the reel
talked of bringing a fish
home for tea, for mam and dad.

I throw the fish back.

Coward, she says.

-Paul Brookes

Fish in the Hand

Slippery landlord

doesn’t wear a mask,
thinks the pandemic
can’t touch his fat wallet.
He demands we let him in,
thinks the law is on his side.
Ask Mr. Mayor,
we shout.
Ask Mr. Policeman.
Ask the family next door
whose matriarch died.
See that barricade on the door?
That’s for you Mr. Fish in the Hand.
You aren’t coming inside.

-Susan Richardson

MONOSTICH

Tuna looks brighter in water than on plate

-Jay Gandhi

April 13th

9

Ascension

Descent is never easy.
Sometimes, it’s a
Slow-motion sensation.
Though the ground is drawing near, and
That familiar sinking feeling settles in,
It’s not welcome.
Descent becomes denial.
“Keep looking up!”
We tell ourselves and each other.
But all the searching skyward can’t deny gravity its pull.
The mind is forced to
Meet the body in a downward lull.
Until,
Earth finally doesn’t
Feel so low, again.
And the heart remembers ascension
Was never about rising,
But transformation.

-st

You Meet

eternity in a shopping queue
if you don’t keep your distance.

Eternity in the hand,
or in the change in it.

Eternity in the unthinking
person who brushes past,

their eye on the goal
of an item missed.

Despite your precautions.
your gloves and mask.

Don’t steer your plane into clouds.
Many hide a mountainside.

-Paul Brookes

Stream of Consciousness from a Moonless Sky

The stars are falling from the sky, tiny fires that extinguish on impact. They have lost their way and forgotten the shape of the earth. Where does darkness hide in a world that sits in the palm of a storm? The moon breaks into pieces, a million small blades that are eager to pluck the light from my eyes. I am a constellation with no center, no wings to scoop up the wind. I try to fly, but the roots of despair are heavy and tether me. I am a moonless sky, plummeting into the sun, terrified my secrets will be discovered.

-Susan Richardson

Emotional Currency

All feelings levitate towards the sky
and every signal joins their hands to soar.
The qualitative nouns have welcome Visa;
there is a barter system of emotions.
Do buy the sadness from me but only
if you contribute courage. I don’t
have enmity in stock; check if compassion
would do. They want to search if there is water
on Mars. I’m worried whether there is love.
For transporting water needs a lot of cash—
Expensive! but sharing love is as simple as
tagging a person and sending message
into the cloud. My emotional rainbow is ready—
Begin and send unwritten postcards to me in space.

-Jay Gandhi

April 14th

8

The Blue Mosque

Handsome, yet scarred,
wearing earth quake’s marks,
it still stands, with missing parts – proud.

It is translation, prayer to tile,
then back again, inscribed
into fine art beneath a trained eye.

The guide will tell you of the best examples,
of Kufic and Thuluth scripts,
housed in arabesque and geometric patterns.

But all you will feel is the presence
of the gathering, in the cauldron space,
the knees that touch the earth.

Bow your head, and pray,
even though you don’t usually.
Like a handsome stranger, this place

does something to you,
beneath lofty domes,
Mithra’s wheel still turns.

-Ali Jones

Creative Spaces

Before our babies were born
And we walked through
Sun-drenched fields,
And damp woodland trails,
When time was free,

I was always searching.
You were always finding me.
You often stopped to make sure
I followed,
Reminded me to
Keep my gaze upward.

When, once, we visited a
Roman Villa, we searched together
Gazing underfoot instead,
to glimpse the past.
It was there, of course, on ancient,
handcrafted mosaic-tiled floors,

Reminding the world,
with all that’s already been done,
There’s not much progress yet in store.
But we’re still drawn to new places,
and old; and to
Creative expressions like artwork, and babies.

Now, in our children’s faces,
I search their eyes for understanding of
The importance of where to fix their gazes.

-st

Flowers Tossed on Waves

She races into the shallow end,
clinging to the sides of the pool
to keep herself afloat.
Gentle currents bathe liquid tiles,
sky and sea converging,
melting like petals over tiny hands.
She laughs as the water glides
over her delicate wrists,
smoothing out starfish
and flowers tossed on waves.
She stays in the pool for hours,
shivering,
holding on to the edges so tightly,
her finger tips bleed,
exploring the deep end with her eyes
until the moon takes over for the sun.
Reluctantly, she climbs the steps
into her mother’s waiting arms,
and sits quietly
while her fingers are bandaged.
She eats sloppy joes with her brother,
tells him that mermaids are real,
falls asleep and dreams of flowers,
floating like stars on water.

-Susan Richardson

Healed

I gave away my late Mom’s blue sari
which remained untouched for
several years. She had worn it
for my Master’s Graduation.
I did not take pictures that day.

-Jay Gandhi

Aniseed

Cold on small feet,
ran over it, stood on it,
played on it. No contemplation.

Kitchen floor cover taken for granted.
Screwed face up at the aniseed smell.
Told my friend her sweets smelled

like lino so didn’t want one.
When it was too hot it was good
to lie on and trace the cool blue petals.

Then mam would tell you to stop
lying on the kitchen floor. Go out
and play while she made tea.

-Paul Brookes

April 15th

7

(Spaniel)

I want to be your friend.
I don’t even know you, but I know I like two legs.
two legs like to play, to fetch and catch,
to jump and snatch.

I want to be your friend.
I nose your hand with questions.
Two legs run and chase,
two legs throw sticks into space?

I want to be your friend.
My plunging strain is a sign of fun,
of energy balled in muscle and fur.
Two legs take me for a run?

I want to be your friend,
Even as you slip away,
Eyes locked to the floor,
My fractious bark means only, stay.

-Ali Jones

A Dog Called What

What?
A dog called what?
What was it called?
Yes, it was.
It was called what?
What?
That’s its name.

My first fun with words
because John, a friend
in Junior school whose dad
was a farmer of endless
golden wheat, had a dog called “What”.

-Paul Brookes

Potential

Pushing my way
Out front
Has never made
Me comfortable.
Sure, I don’t mind
Sharing a bit of my head.
But mostly
I want to hide
In my paper bag
Behind you,
Put you in the
Limelight
In my stead.

-st

Rapscallion

there is always a naughty one
rapscallion
rule breaker
lives for treats
looks at you with big sweet eyes
gets away with everything
pulls her sister into shenanigans
gallops into joy at full speed
wonders what fool says no
to a good romp and a bone
lives for play
for love
for a warm snuggle under the covers
at the end of the day

-Susan Richardson

Breakdown

Your eyes are pivot points
on the way towards your soul.

You lie but eyes don’t follow
the narrative.

The tears will ebb for a while
but they will smash the dam of
“I’m so powerful.”

in this flood
first calamity will be ego.

Illusions and delusions
will follow—
Hoarding will vanish

and all that will remain
is gratitude

-Jay Gandhi

April 16th

6

Hush Hush

When I was really small, we used to walk along a disused track,
still called the railway line. It wasn’t one of Beeching’s cuts,
but an old quarry service route, stone blasted, raining fossils,
in a red Marlestone fog. Nature had taken it back, of course.

I can remember, running far from my Mother’s grasping cries,
under charged boundaries, trying them with fingers and tongue –
waiting for the jolt, wanting to feel the danger, reminding me
to always remain anchored to the earth – a sapling still tentative.

One day, racing to the horizon, I found the old signal box.
door long gone, paint peeling, just the hint of memory.
A small banked hearth and singing kettle, a neat brushed uniform.
I didn’t see it a first, yet somehow I knew to bow my head.

There in the corner, a wheel of twigs and fur, garnished
With a twist of orange twine. We locked eyes and I knew
it was her space, retreating, never breaking contact, as if
caught in the spell of shell and yolk. She lifted over my head,

to show me a clutch of pale blue hopes. I walked back to my
Mother, not knowing whether to share surprise or keep silent.
Instead I called for sticklebacks resting a small blue bucket,
to slide slipstream again later. I always kept her secret safe.

-Ali Jones

This Egg Asks

his dad to take the egg cup
from him in the dark garden.
Joins his Good Egg disciples.

Later his disciple Bad Egg
Judas licks him
and he is arrested.

Soldiers break him,
His yolk bleeds.
Nailed to a cross

the egg gets wet
in a storm.
Taken down, wrapped,

he is placed in a box,
discovered to be empty,
the wrapper discarded.

Disciples go on an egg hunt.
Later learn he has risen
to the mouth of his dad.

-Paul Brookes

First day @ Job

Today the chick’s
shell has cracked.

It rubs its eyes
while it struggles
to get up on
its feet.

It will learn fast
to run fast; run
zigzag, cut lanes
& fly.

The world
is a beautiful
place—
full of scavengers.

-Jay Gandhi

The Forgotten One

The one that came first
has flown the coop.
She was prettier than you,
smarter,
had feathers made of gold.
The one who came second
died in a storm
that lasted thirty years.
He was kinder than you,
gentler,
had feathers as delicate as petals.
Now it’s just you here,
sullen and plain,
feathers tattered like rags
and an egg that will never hatch.

-Susan Richardson

Anatomy of a Chicken

Red jungle-fowl descendant,
Gallus gallus,
Numbering 23.7 billion,
These are the real dominators Of the globe.
Perhaps it’s no wonder,
In Greece
They taught valor. But today,
This mighty omnivore
Is reduced to
General Tso’s and Tikki Masala.
The aggressor, become victim.
So, what’s a chicken made of?
Surely not fear,
But resignation.

-st

April 17th

5

The Fae Harvest

I never knew how babies grew,
until one night, my grandmother led me out
under the weight of dawn and a lifting sky.

On the mountains shoulders, light cast
out, looking for a new beginning,
And there they were. The conditions have to
Be just right. The moon lining up to sew the pattern,
With Venus, and the other planetary lamps
Measuring shadow and shade.

The old made young again, rising like seedlings
in the dab grey dew, while spiders sung their webs
and the fairy host turned straight on until morning.

Old Mr Begg from the house on the end,
Old Mrs Sutherland, from the garret on the ginnel.
Same face, bodies shrunken, pushing up
in purple heather. A blackbird belled a warning
And my grandmother and I were away to our beds,

But I didn’t sleep again that night, as the sun
pulled up the shutters and roused the animals
from paw twitching dreams to daytime clamour.

I never asked how my grandmother knew.
We never spoke of it again, and I can only think
that she made a pact, to lie amongst the heather
when her time came, to give herself over to them.

-Ali Jones

Unbreakable

In her dreams,
the seasons bleed together.
Birth into burning into silence.

She is a blossom
taking her first sip of air,

a flower
opening itself
to a sky filled with flames,

a petal,
wilting, floating,
falling into a final embrace.

Her heart is weightless here,
soundless and unbreakable.
She reaches through a cloud of fire,
touches the center of the sun.

She feels no pain.

-Susan Richardson

Summer of 1995

My bro & I played Cricket at home.
We broke the “Ajanta” Wall clock.
Petrified of our Dad, we ran to the fields
and sat by the pond in a hope that the frogs
would pop up and that Dad’s anger would
vapourise.

Sun would set late and evenings
were all about lemonades.
We would climb the trees without
a plan of how to get down! On
certain days while taking rest in farms,
we would fall asleep.

Mom would come into the fields
screaming my name in search of me.

And today, father has lost his sting,
mother has lost her hearing & my wife
goes in search our kids to the farms.

-Jay Gandhi

Latency

The best
The future has to offer
Serenely rests
On the mountain, or in some valley
Already preparing to solve crimes,
Write stories, cure diseases; tiny bodies, home to giant minds.

As dew on mountain grasses waits
To evaporate in the morning sun,
Transforms to return to earth as rain,
These, too, shall arise
With a transfer of latent energy
To meet the world’s expectancy.

-st

The One Hand

of the hillside holds curled up bairns.
Some nestle into its palm dream a sunrise
or a sunset whilst the cold lake awaits

their splash and play in the bath of their days .
For some it is the evening of their lives
and will not see another sun. Shepherds

gathering stock from these moors
will find their white bones under ferns
as they take their sheep to be sheared
down paths only the animals know.

These are the lost and unremembered bairns.

-Paul Brookes

April 18th

4

Shape Shifters

Carve wind, carve rain,
Come storm, begin again.
Come winter, come spring,
Come goddess from within.
Come fire in the head,
Come worshipping the dead.
Come footprint and beast,
Come battle and feast.
Come blood and ride,
Come pipe call and red tide.
Come quiet, come calm,
Come atmosphere to disarm.
Come spirit and ghost,
Come frightening the most.
Come secret and be
Come to all that I see.
Come mountain and mother,
Come stand like no other.

-Ali Jones

The Blue Hawk

Stream and hill follow my contours.
This beak is a high jut of rock.
I command the veer of rivers.

My black wing tips
are the storm’s edges.
My gyre makes the gust.
My white feathers, clouds.

Rain is the pelt of water
off my pinions and claws.
One of my eyes is the sun.
The other eye is the moon.

Gravity is my fall.
Death, my talons.
Sharp edge of ice,
my beak makes orphans.

The unwary, unwatchful,
unaware and weak
are morsels for my young
that turn in the world of my eye.

II.

I pass

the dead

to my wife

in

flight.

Two rocks

bridged

by red sinew.

-Paul Brookes

We Are the Badlands

An absence of foliage
In vast canyons
Gives way to something more,
The opportunity to evoke
Emotion from its expanse.
Variegated cutaways of
Ancient earth
Rise and fall
The same way my body
Shudders at your embrace.
What great equalizer
Cuts through earth and
Our bodies, but Time?
And we are all, merely,
Nature laid bare,
Shrouded only
By the eyes of God.

-st

Little things

All that tectonic plates
do is vibrate a little
and crush a civilisation.

All the notions that we
rule every corner of earth,
bury inside the fissures
caused by the earthquake.

Geologists get down
to the business and confirm
that the soul is the epicentre.

-Jay Gandhi

The Sound of Falling

Lost in the tangle of twilight’s thread,
she tucks into the edges
of a rock face,
finds the music of solitude,
blooms into a single note that reaches
into the core of the earth.
The roots of her sorrow
plunge deeply
into the heart of the mountain,
where darkness bleeds like ink
from her veins.
She inhales deeply,
tastes the shadowy tones of silence,
gets heady with longing.
Somewhere in the distance,
a friend calls her name,
pleading.
His voice fades like a ghost into the granite.
She exhales and falls gracefully
into a melody only she and the rocks can hear.

=Susan Richardson

April 19th

3

The Secret Keepers

You would not believe
the things we have seen,
done here under a moon’s
full bone-white eye.

The man who wanted to win
came and looked at the stars
and measured our bodies
with his cold blue gaze.

We moved, a millimetre here,
a fraction there, so he never
quite got it right. We knew
his intentions weren’t exactly

as honourable as he told us
they were. There is no fooling us,
we who have stood here so long
that we have forgotten what we are for.

It doesn’t matter though, we shift and pitch
and always find a new role to play.
Sometimes we hold space for promises
and goodbyes, though we prefer other things.

It is true that we can’t be counted
at least not in human ways. We like
to tease and trick, because what else
are stones supposed to do with everything?

If we just hold on, we will become harder
and more distant, impossible to decipher.
This way is better for our kind, to keep
things going – understanding was never
part of the great diviner’s plan you know.

-Ali Jones

Sadness is a positive emotion
=====================

I want to drill holes
in the concrete ground,
thrust my feet inside
and stand in calmness.

Yes, I am lonely & alone.
My companion who promised
that she will face
every storm with me has left
before the first storm has began.

Near the railings of the ground
there are sunflowers
which sparkle in the sunshine.

Hope is trying hard to find me:
my feet are grounded.

-Jay Gandhi

Neolithic Era

Did the Neolithic
Gaze upon the dandelions?
Or, did they graze upon them instead?
And, what was the significance of their stones?

We tread upon dandelions,
And cover the earth in concrete,
Whilst searching the past for answers
To questions the present readily provides.

If only we would gaze upon the fields,
Bask in the sun,
Call our current existence to the task
Of plodding, yes, but lightly.

-Samantha Terrell

“For there is no man without fault, no man without a burden, no man sufficient to himself, no man wise enough to himself but we must bear together, comfort together, help together, teach and admonish together.” -T. ‘A Kempis

A Garden of Time

Flowers creep out from beneath the frost,
bloom through the chaos of battle fields
and the unrelenting wreckage of disease.
They weave themselves into the landscape,
spread fragrance over the backs of relics.
Some stand tall, with faces open to the sun,
others sit quietly, whispering on top of the soil,
strewn like stars over the expanse of seasons.
They are given as gestures of love and regret,
placed on graves and coveted at weddings.
I chose to have them inked into my skin,
petals sprinkled across my feet and ankles,
vines and blossoms winding up my arms,
spilling gracefully over my shoulders,
a garden of time that turns something ugly
into something permanent and beautiful.

-Susan Richardson

The Rung Down

ring of blue rocks eroded,
schtum inner circle,
gong orchestra gone

stand tuneless rock
dumbfound broken
notes drummed out

gust between clefts
spit spat rain flits
cracks, shatters clack

back into unheard
till heard by inspired
knock on rock echoes

Megalithic lithophones
ring of blue stones decoded
orchestra clangs elsewhere.

Yearly lion’s teeth clocks
gust blows into seed float
above and around, inbetween

stood standing memory site,
soundscape escaped
now found traced source
of sea carried sound

-Paul Brookes

Neolithic Flowers

Eternity’s span
this arch of stars,
counts time beyond
ten finger tips.

Into wicker’s rest.
Fill this grave
with a crush
of wild flowers.

Mixed meadows
delicate pastels
and fine perfumes,
grace your memory.

Unbearable grief
and beauty speak
under the voice.

Why must our ways
always be run,
through a curtain
of dying flowers
and falling tears.

© Dai Fry 20th February 2020.

April 20th

2

Revisiting

If we could go back, would you come too?
Here, let me take your hand and let’s slip
out of the car. It is probably a Ford Cortina,
or something similar, never a Ghia though.

Do you have your anorak? Yes, even though
It is summer, you will need it, if you want to follow.
And what about those shoes, are they grippy enough
to let you travel over the stream like a wee sprite
Bounding from rock to rock? Come. Isn’t it amazing?

How things are done here? No joins are needed
Because the whole is much stronger than the parts,
balanced in equilibrium, the story travels on past
that solitary elder, that must be bird strewn.
Trees don’t really grow here, and now I come to think

It is odd to try to claim any part of the earth as our own.
I always like the architecture of stone balanced on stone,
holding up like magic. But now I think of something else,
an attempt to announce our presence in a landscape
which barely notices that anything so small is here.

-Ali Jones

Stone Tears

This dry stone wall, a broken mountain.

-Dai Fry

False Barriers

Rock walls fitted together
Follow the slope of the land,
Aged bones
Leaning into one another,
A study of the past,
A barrier to the present.
Come, break down walls with me.
That we may run through
Unfettered fields, into the future.

-st

My Stone

The bones of earth are its stones.
decaying in their own slow time.
All my dead dears are marked by stones.
An Indian guru once gifted my dad black stones
he carried till his skin showed more of his bones.
My mam, sister and nanna are marked by stones,
Yorkshire stone in a graveyard of stones.
Speaking in one of her final breaths
My nanna told me where her breath
must be buried, the placement of stones.
My mam died on a day buffeted by gusts
and now I see the dead in every sweet gust.

=Paul Brookes

Chosen by Time and the Sky

I haven’t been sleeping,
stuck in the affliction of toss and turn,
thoughts tethered to the moon
and far away places.
I press my cheek to the window pane,
close my eyes
and imagine something beautiful
just beyond the glass.
A landscape with open hands,
offering itself as a canvas to the seasons,
succumbing to a palette of colors
chosen by time and the sky.
I see the rich reds and golds of Autumn
stretching to the edges of sound,
where everything falls into darkness.
I watch the colors transform
with strokes of charcoal and silver,
taste the first snowflakes on my tongue,
breathe in the scent of the soil as it freezes.
The winter in my mind
settles on barren branches,
and I remember my own emptiness,
my own silence.
I open my eyes to a scarred
window screen,
peer down at the filthy sidewalk
waiting with gaping jaws
to swallow my fantasy,
and remind myself,
it won’t be this way forever.
One day I will stand next to him,
reach out to touch the smooth grass,
take in the rolling fields with all my senses,
and know I am finally home.

-Susan Richardson

Episode

All that I can see
are parched trees
& yellow grasses.

They remind me
of the shooting pain
that follows mania.

Family confiscates
my phone & laptop—
no social life.

Pills pin me
down to my bed.
Waistline increases.

In retrospect I know,
this too did pass.

But then, at that
instance—

All that I can see
are parched trees
& yellow grasses.

-Jay Gandhi

April 21st

21 twitter size

Faux Castle

Look at my glazed ruin
glass light, dry storm.
Rainbow’s home.

Anger sustains
though element gouged,
flag-wind, see my pride.

Faux castle, your ravens fly.
Plague’s sustenance,
last in the line.
Prepared for legend’s time.

Bone brittle, I crumble
brick powder, wormed wood.
Held in charms of
viral salts, corrosive winds.

My house is a closed mind
beyond the mildew line,
but at last it slowly opens
to lick and lash of stormy seas.

-Dai Fry

The Ruin

is a mask as you can see daylight
through the holes for your eyes,

Put the ruin on your face
when out in public
to avoid other folk being infected.

The ruin is reusable as it is washable
and there is plenty of room
for ventilation. Some ruins

are grander than others. Disposable
ruins pollute the oceans of good sense.

Use your ruin with due care and attention
to the needs of visitors. Don’t let them

get too close or you will lose your heritage.
Your voice may be muffled.

Paul Brookes

Adumbration

Queen Anne’s Lace
And black crows frame
My mental imagery,
Succumbing to the Rule of Thirds.
Until, there’s only room to run off the page.
But white cobwebs will remain

In the corner, and darkness will always flee
From the recesses
Of my mind,
As birds in flight,
Not unlike a militaristic
Rule of Thirds for deployment.

-st

The Violence of Sound

Parcels of darkness take to the sky,
storm warnings that strip the skin
from men’s bones and swallow
the blood of entire generations.
Heavy wings blacken the sun,
pulling fire into relentless beaks
that release screeches of doom.
The violence of sound scars agony
into stone, shatters windows that
slice into the marrow of families,
leaving their whispers scorched
and crumbling in the ruins of time.

-Susan Richardson

Duty is a Heavy Burden

It looks like a ruin,
But the spirit of the old king
Hung out for a long time,
If you can pardon the pun.

Now it is a skeleton
Of stone and beams,
Tower tops crumbled,
Though the foundations remain.

To be sovereign in to wear
The landscape like a cloak,
To adorn your body with
The hopes and desires

Of all the people and hear
Their cries with open ears.
They say it got too much for him,
The constant jibber jabbering,

So he took things with his own hands,
Literally. One day they found him,
Swinging in the great all, above
A gilded table, a king’s fit feast.

Afterwards, nobody else wanted
To take on the role, said it was
A poisoned chalice – power can
Sometimes go either way, as we know.

-Ali Jones

Freedom Returns

Now the caged birds are free
to sing & sway in the air.
The kind king has returned,
the fort has been seized—
the flag has been hoisted.

-Jay Gandhi

April 22nd

22 Twitter size

Sail Away

Sundown sails twirl,
at ballerina’s bow
the day dance ends.
Wake nudge turn home,
evening shadow calls.

Twilight shroud, sun
slides mouse quiet,
into dusk’s dim bowl.
A little death…it slows.

Under manta’s shadow,
thoughts leave the isles
and cold water corals.
Even solitude must end.

And coarse hands yearn
for warm water, soap
and a fish supper.
Sailor songs by the fire.

– © Dai Fry 21st March 2020.

Conveyances

I got your message.
It wasn’t tucked in a bottle, sealed
In the traditional way with cork and wax,
Set to sea
On the off chance of
Someday being found.

It was somehow more direct,
And yet, more subtle, written
In the sunshine
Reflections
On the vast waters
Of your soul.

It’s frustrating, at first,
When information’s not delivered
Where and how we’ve sought so long.
Sometimes though, it’s more important
To receive what’s freely given
Than fulfill the cliche’s of expectation.

-st

I Decide

whether sun on the horizon
rises or falls.

whether gust fills my sail
or empties it.

whether the signs
are a warning or a delight.

whether my rudder
is into or with the waves.

I trust in these hands, eyes,
strength to make it happen.

I make the day and night.

-Paul Brookes

Blink

I started making lists,
searching the horizon
and waiting for sunset
to pull me gently under.
I never believed in this
race against time or the
infinite nature of the sun.
Every moment is lost
before you can hold it
in the palm of your hand.
Every breath is a blade
when sorrow takes root,
and the heavy texture of
darkness weaves itself
into the blink of an eye.

-Susan Richardson

Evenings by the bay

Fishing in the deep sea
produce endorphins in me.

There is a rush
and then

there is a calm.

-Jay Gandhi

April 23rd

23 Twitter size

Generations

When you walk in the woods, it’s always best
to see everything, set your body to rewind,
in case you miss something. If you stay too long,
you might realise you are nowhere, the footprints
you deposit mean little to the tree’s arching body,
where nothing is off limits; is this what freedom is?

Held by four directions, form painted with earth
and held in its birth suit, the bone stag sees you,
every mark, every design, and trees reveal secrets
before we know them, the faceless year disappears,
like a once trusted friend, stealing away,
stuffing ideas into deep dark pockets.

When the sun wakes, you are older,
and count on things more, there is a new mother,
three flowers to the wind, and black skeleton branches
touch out for acceptance. The struck tree
sees years come and go like lightning,
the bone trumpet sounds the winter’s stretching
drum skin, and strips the body raw.

The stag waits in the thicket, knowing the ways
of wordless stories, dreaming to break ice again.

-Ali Jones

DARK HART

A red deer proud
on Colmers hill.
It was Cernunnos,
Wild Lord, ‘Horned One’

Bellowed hoar breath.
Intoxicated, the wild hunt
passed along oblivions way.
Far from reach of minds,
beneath dark forest web.

Shaman’s antler horn,
wild oaken branches.
Futures to foretell,
fairy cattle to milk and
wisdom myths to seek.

Deeper thickening forests.
In the hart of darkness,
a small truth lurks,
a flickering flame.
Far from habitations reach.

– © Dai Fry 22nd April 2020.

The Stag

You sculpt the ash tree of the world,
nibble its bark and branches.
One of the four gusts that prune clouds,
while another beast gnaws
at the roots of the world.

Every hart has a crown of antlers
that moves beneath the canopy of the world.
true bone fed by blood
in the outer velvet hot to the touch.

You are The Dead One,
The Unconscious One,
Thunder in the Ear,
or Thriving Slumber.
gust in the mind.

-Paul Brookes

Between Chaos and Silence

Today is not the day
to trespass into the dawn,
to leave your boot prints
ragged on the tall grass.

Today is not the day
to muscle your way in,
to bring the brutality
of your hands into the
serenity of the morning.

Today is not the day
to speak with your teeth,
to shred the delicate webs
that protect the boundary
between chaos and silence.

Today is the day
to lower your voice,
put down your weapons
and honor the delicate
moments of being alive.

-Susan Richardson

Safari

The density of the horns
on my head symbolises
my maturity —
my experiences of survival.

After running for life
from the chasing tiger,
there is always
some time to pose.

Lifting the chin up slightly,
pouting a little, creating
the aura of Godfather
there is always some time
to live the swag.

Grass is always better
on the other side of the jungle;

so are the number of lions.

-Jay Gandhi

Keeper of the Fields

Deep brown beast of
Folklore and modernity,
Your rubs frequently stole
The bark from small trees
Where we walked, religiously,
Each evening at sunset.
Routine and territory
Remind all creatures of
Our space, keep us
Properly in our place.

-st

A Frozen moment

The cobwebs of desire
intermeshed with hope
as it floats on the gentle petals
of the dandelion floating away to yonder
Sometimes silence takes the form
around us,
appears suddenly like a moose in a grassland
leaving footprints on the warm grass of the meadow
a supple reminder of its presence
Making its way silently to the gushing stream
sustenance as he knows it
taking the sip from the rushing stream
precariously;
aware and alive
a crowned head with antlers:
an intricate puzzle for beauty and survival
A startling presence in nature
a throbbing desire for an artist,
if only he could steal a moment
and freeze it in time.

–Megha Sood

April 24th

24 twitter size rannoch moor

Broken Heart Stone

The drovers road
ran through this moor,
stone people in their days.

Between times,raiders from
the west
just walked the beef away.

Railways came to check the lie,
on mattresses of wood and roots.
Took sleep on earth and ash.

Sheep in heavy jumpers
came aboard the train,
in a festive holiday mood
bound once, Firth of Moray.

When glaciers departed
the land breathed a relief
like proven bread raised
on bubbles of yeast.

At black woods edge
on Rannock Moor
the heart stone
marked the way,
glacial erratic.

Near there I saw a heron
take a rest from flight.

A heart is mended
in a dream this Isles way.

– © Dai Fry 23rd April 2020

Old Whistler

He has stalked the pool,
Statuesque for many years,
Wading with tattered wings
Through the shallows.

Once, a human took aim
And fired a shot, his wing
Bears the evidence, of a
Perfect O, that sings

When he dives into the wind.
Sometimes scars bring strength,
And the creatures down below
Still can’t hear him coming

-Ali Jones

The Sinking Sun

I am not a tree,
barren branches that stretch
through the sunset,
thirsty for morsels of light.
A tangle of veins
pressing into the sky
to keep night from falling.

I have no bloodline to the sun,
no call to warmth.
As the night chill falls at my feet
and the path in front of me
loses its texture,
the ache is wiped from my eyes.

I am free to wander
In the delight of my other senses.
The world comes alive
in the smell of satiated earth,
in the sound of rain tapping
a gentle rhythm against the sidewalk,
and the touch of my husband’s fingers
brushing the tears from my cheek.

With every sunset I collapse,
relief filling my breath
as I untether myself
from the rough touch of the day.
I find comfort in the darkness,
respite from the pain.
I am emancipated
in the sinking of the sun.
I am not a tree.

-Susan Richardson

Live On, Sweet Mother

In your serenity,
You offer more than
We proud humans can grasp,
Despite our categorizing,
Classifying, labeling.
Help us know our smallness
Before you, eventually, call us
To take us home.


-st

Change

Every day it’s the same scorching sun,
same moon, same trees & same birds.
The beach is same, same is the sand,
the waters are same, same are the tides.
I suffer same pain from heartbreaks.
Process of processing sadness hasn’t
changed. The excitement of a new
relationship and anxiety of whether
I will hold it together are still the same.
My mother loves me unconditionally,
my father cares about me, my brother
empathises with me — my support
system is the same. The time taken
by earth to rotate & revolve are same.
Springs & falls are cyclic. Rains, winter
and summer are cyclic. When a child
is born, the heart begins to beat.
Same is the heart which stops at death.
The cycle of life and death is cyclic.

-Jay Gandhi

Silence

Focus intently in the dusk.
You know what is to come,
but will not say it.

In your hall of mists
you know the secret knowledge
that moves beneath the waters.

Everyday you stab at that fact,
lift its writhe and wrestle
into the colours of day.

Swallow it whole, then raise
your vast wings and float
over moorland a white silence.

-Paul Brookes

Was is that thing that walks?

What is that thing that walks?
I can’t walk
Neither can I
But I can sway
You can sway?
I can’t sway
I can sway
But I can’t walk
I can’t shit either
Like that thing
It can shit as well?
It can also eat
It can shit and eat
And walk?
And you, you can sway?
Well, I can’t sway
By myself
It’s the wind that makes me sway
Oh well, that’s alright then
But I can grow
So can I
But you grow so slowly
Imperceptibly so
Well how do you grow then?
Up
I grow up
From the smallest of things
To the biggest of things
It’s just not fair
And that thing that walks
It can fly
Come on please
Stop with this
It can fly?
I shouldn’t have asked
But you always ask
Do I?
And then you forget
And ask again
I do?
You asked when I grew near you
And when the algae grew on you
And when the bug crawled over you
And when the fish swam round you
And then
When that thing walked past me?
Yes, the bird
I’m afraid so
You’re very kind
To repeat it all for me
Each time
You’re welcome old friend.

-The Fishpie Sky April 2020

 

April 25th

26 for Twitter size

Expecting

She has read, read and read—
exhausted all the resources.

After 9 months of prenatal
Yoga and eating bland food
all she hopes for are enough
strong contractions.

Don’t lift heavy things
Don’t eat spicy foods
No late nights. Sleep
on time. No alcohol

there are days when she feels
that all this drama should just come
to a standstill — all at once.

Just get it over & done.

-Jay Gandhi

The Dance

When I met my niece,
she was the smallest
baby I had ever seen.
Her tiny hands, bunched into fists,
punched the air
in protest of an ache in her belly
that wouldn’t let up.
I remember taking her in my arms,
smoothing her delicate fingers
singing softly into her ear,
but still she cried.
I stroked her head
and walked quietly
to the laundry room,
turned the dryer on full blast.
It was the middle of July,
a heatwave
seeping through the windows.
For hours I paced,
rocking back and forth,
a slow dance
to the rumbling hum
of my father’s old dryer,
as the heat and the sound
soothed away her tears.
Long after her cries
had quieted
and she had fallen asleep,
body folded in relief
against my heart,
I continued our dance,
my breath keeping time with hers.

-Susan Richardson

Possibilities

Enrapture me
With your sweet,
Tender power,
Empathizing with my exhaustion.
Respect my fear of ineptitude.
Draw me outside myself,
That we may know
Our mutual innocence.

-st

Loved and Lost

Oh little one, I wish you’d stayed,
But they told me, it wasn’t your time.
I hold you, so small and delicate,
Swathed in white, and all I can see
Are the sunsets and moonrises
Your eyes will never take in.
Before you go, I make tiny prints
Of your feet, that will never tread
On any path. They are a reminder
That not all journeys are easy.

-Ali Jones

Synaesthesia

Dizzy these summer airs,
I flew where ever I would.
Sun-rays, rain’s drop
the sharp breezing edge.

I was monarch, king sought
seeker of milkweed.
Last of ten generations,
long lived for your gestation.

And when I died
we had flown a thousand leagues
gathering dream-song,
canticles of praise.

So enjoy the warmth
of love’s milky days.
Gather your wings
mica rich, waxy bright.
For this chrysalis will fly.

-© Dai Fry 24th April 2020.

Found.

Simplest difference between
ripple, wave, swell,

word, sentence, poem,
tongue, lip, thigh,

love, sex, work,
blemish, wound, sore,

siblings, children, death
is the time between each crest.

There are times when there are
ripples on waves on swell.

-Paul Brookes

 

April 26th

25 brand new

Progeny

I was not meant for motherhood,
not with these sharp edges
and a predilection for sadness.
I am a cog in a genetic footprint
that left a web of darkness
behind my eyes,
planted seeds of cancer in the
delicate bodies of my mother
and my brother.
I am the progeny of rage,
of battles with the bottle and carbohydrates.
There is a cruel streak
that runs through the caverns of my veins,
racing against the frenzied connections
that dictate the rhythm of my heart.
I was not meant for motherhood.
My touch is not one that nurtures,
my voice not one that soothes.

-Susan Richardson

Bridge Of Sighs

I am heart fire,
the blue flame.
Hold my mirror
in your other hand.
See reflections,
look for shadows.
There are no others here.

I please my buddha soul,
always now, forever.
I squeeze my other finger
I feel no pain.

And when I form,
it will be
to open my eyes,
world wide and bright.

I see all my lives now,
stretching back far
as a shuffled deck.

An ancient game.
There are no others.
Only me, only now.

I am a clean soul,
not yet writ.
Pink, no trace
of any original sin.

I seek a passing time
to hold against my brow.
To age my wounds
against the wounds of others.

Only too soon
will I be human again.

– ©️ Dai Fry April 25th 2020.

Childhood Amnesia

She paints emotion on the skin of the tender,
And its elder.
Tucked between pale folds,
Where life dwells

In touch and scent,
And calmness.
All newborns know this.
Why must we forget?

-st

Dyad

Nobody told me it would be ok,
All I’d heard were horror stories,
Of selves subsumed beneath
Mountains on laundry and mess.

Nobody told me it would be ok
To want to hold you all the time,
That your cries would not jangle
Nerves, that I would ask, what

Is it that you are trying to say?
Nobody told me how much I’d
Miss the small bundled body
As you stretch a decade, onwards.

-Ali Jones

Fingerprint

Zen garden raked
curved plough crests
ceiling design

Tiny lamb’s hooves gain purchase
in grooves, gust worn cracks
on a high rocky mountainside,

little fingers like stones caught
in the raked valleys of a Zen garden,

a tiny baby grasps Mam’s finger edge.

Soft skin, hard mountains drip milk
when pressed by lips.

-Paul Brookes

Platinum

All the clean waters join
Ganges — clear & pristine.
People worship the river
for its pureness. Only
other thing untainted
is a child suckling—
milk full with nutrients,
antibodies, reverence
and unconditional love.

-Jay Gandhi

 

April 27th

27 Twitter size

Trusting the Musician

Sometimes I wish I were
More than a solitary note
Played intermittently
By whatever musician or animal
Happens by.

Wouldn’t it be nice
To be able to hear the
Whole melodic symphony
Of nature, ourselves included.
But thus, I tempt eternity.

This must be faith,
To know there is
More than we can know,
To trust the music we collectively make
Will continue to grow.

-st

Play it Again

There’s a busker on the corner
Of the main shopping street,
Saxophone held shining forth,
Empty case at her feet.

She plays each day, whatever weather
It’s voice is old deep south,
So animated, living the music,
With the reed held to her mouth.

I do not know her name, or where,
She goes home to every day,
But the sun’s glint on the saxophone,
And her skills always make me stay.

-Ali Jones

🎵 Frank Says 🎵

Jazz, it’s fly/so high.
Languid slow, cool blow.
Hep cats
seek:
familiar faces,
guitar phrases,
smoked out places.

Discordance melds,
rhythm flows,
drums staccato,
receptive souls,
cool cats say go-go.

Grab the heat.
Buddy beat
in hot jazz suite.
Up hard, so
tight against it.

Bruise that tune
till tender sweet.
Notes stack up, as
sharps sit flat.

Booze fuelled
schmoozers grind
dig the groove…
It’s smokin’.

Hear them lick
their blue note way
Stanley fingers, hazy
zingers… bass blurs.

Fights for heat
in solo space.
Imbibing tattered applause.

Inside you
sound builds
thumps your chest,
bass hard.
So go figure, as
piano tonk Chick
hits those keys.

You gotta move.

Trumpet picks its
Miles high
sharp notes
spit
wet spray.
These
droplets spark,
a spotlight’s path.

Jazzing tales
heads burn,
float neural highways,
horizon’s byways.
Time to split?

No this cat stays.

– ©️ Dai Fry revised 24th April 2020.

A Caged Bride

A caged white cold Bride
night bright Barnsley
writes on windows and walls.
Her peace graffitied
under an ebony moon
down narrow
Dow passage.

A saxophone practices
a hint of hashish
and
three lit blood torches in your eyes.

-Paul Brookes

Soundtrack

The movie business has shut down,
aspiring starlets and boys
with chiseled chins
are holed up in box car apartments,
faces pressed against the glass,
wondering when it will be safe
to breathe again.

The streets of Hollywood,
usually filled with dreamers,
wide eyed and desperate to be seen,
have dropped into death watch quiet.
The sidewalks are patrolled
by men in towels,
armed with sticks and plastic cups,
losing their minds
under the rolling eye of the virus
and an unexpected heatwave.

I walk the dogs,
but never leave my block,
smile at the rare person
who passes
on the other side of the street,
now a million miles away,
forget they can’t see beneath my mask.

Just across the road,
a saxophone player practices
on a rooftop deck,
her smooth and mournful notes
a soundtrack to this new life,
a connection through
the social distance.

-Susan Richardson

The lady on the Saxophone

Before getting onto the stage
she rubs her palms with vigour
and places them onto her eyes—
there is energy.

After playing her last tune,
she joins her palms, does
a Namaste and hums the
Urdu prayer in her mind.

Driving back home, she
contemplates over the
mistakes she made today.

Yellow Submarine is the
first song in her playlist.

-Jay Gandhi

 

April 28th

28 Twitter

Rendering Ourselves Relevant

There’s not a single one of us
Who hasn’t seen, nor heard,
Nor tasted
The fear
Mankind ingested

At the Tree of Knowledge.
Sure, we gained the world.
But we lost
The visionary existence
Assuredness proffers–

One of unicorns, and
World peace, the flavor
Of sunbeams,
And creation made new each day,
Unbridled by impossibility.

Instead, ours has become
The collective burden
Of rendering ourselves relevant,
Rather than
Extinct.

-st

Our Spired Unicorn

is a place of worship.
A moveable feast beast.

Offer it fruits and flowers
at harvest, Easter and Christmas.

Baptise bairns, get married,
celebrate the dead in its presence.

Pray before its hooves and flanks,
comb its hair, feed it oats.

Don’t try to ride it, or steal its horn.
It is sacred and full of light.

Go where it goes, a disciple.
Some may say you believe in a myth.

Your faith keeps it alive. You
know it as a companion, a friend.

Though it has a life of its own.
Is nothing but itself.

Behind our eyes we are all
mythical beasts to others.

-Paul Brookes

In your Dreams

When you have pushed out
Into sleep, and dreams mingle
Behind your eyes, try to remember
Your name. You can always trust
The shining silver unicorn, who waits
Where waves kiss the shoreline
Back into something else.
You can always ride and never fall,
Just hold tight to the gleaming mane,
And whisper your desires in her ear.
She will take you where you need to be
Though it may not be what you hoped for.

-Ali Jones

Rhinoceros

From Mesopotamia
where I was carved,
to Indus-Ganga Plain.

Mystic go your dreams.

White body purple head
and eyes of pierced blue.

My skin was white
my brother’s black.
My horn was red
its tip as black
as star-night can
hold it to.

And if you can catch me
under a silver moon
try/dare to kill me,
then drink from my horn.

In health and potent vigour
rue the day that you
murdered your dreams
and mine.

©️ Dai Fry 27th April 2020

The Whole Sky in Your Eyes

She is a soft rain falling like petals from the sun. Stars on the water that never burn too brightly. She is the horizon you can always reach. A soft stone that warms your hands. She is a pool of light that heals your wounds. Clouds that never ache or turn to shadows. She is the whole sky in your eyes. An ocean that keeps you afloat and never tries to swallow you. She is the earth feeding the roots of your heart. The flower that blooms from your throat. She is the perfect word on the tip of your tongue. The ink that falls effortlessly from your pen. She is a gentle hand that rocks you to sleep. A dream you never want to wake from.

-Susan Richardson

Fatigue

I walk in at 3 a.m. and drive out at 7 a.m.
Every second of rest is golden.
I kiss the foreheads of my sleeping
kids and rush towards the hospital.
Luckily, my car has enough fuel.
As I wear my PPE kit and get ready
to tackle another Covid 19 patient,
I pray for a miracle — some medicine,
some vaccine, some antibody.
Prayer has become a desperation.
I refocus — check the batteries
of Temperature Gun. A white horse
with a horn on its head has swum
millions of kilometres across Pacific.
I can actually see it. Yesterday,
Gandhi visited me during lunchtime.

-Jay Gandhi

 

April 29th

29

Finishing is as Meaningful as the Project Itself

No matter where he goes, it always looks like Yorkshire,
pedal to the metal whenever he can. He comes everywhere
with me. I keep moving, am ghosted by news of milk bottles,
collected late, cricket odds, snow painted over moors.

The endless game of eye spy, that nobody could win, because
the answer was only visible sometimes – grandma’s false teeth.
In the garden, fingering the soil, feather light, never weary.
When I write this, he is long gone, playing mandolin for hours,

making the violin jealous in her velvet home. The needle
always points north, geese skein a morning song, and the way
on is lined with sherbet and barely sugar, Pontefract cakes,
corporation pop. The pull of a homing beacon, the case of

the long way, coming back to the beginning; around each
tarmacked day, a vapour trail, firedogs, a sentence of dusty
boot prints, books, where things are written down. Follow
the words until you arrive home. Put the wood in the hole.

-Ali Jones

Lost In Arcadia

Of Arcadian steel,
this hard moorland. A
bleak back country
kind of beauty,
where I might escape
the weight of empty voices.

Jostled and devoured
by a sense of common learning.
Snapped memories piled up,
made the life I recognised
to be my own.

Competing with skylark’s hook
and silent thrum of insects feet,
a brook that bears me on.
Roads, small as rivers meander.
I traverse the tarmac flow.

I believe I thought this place
and fashioned its being.
As if it could mend me
and patch my canvas
with a sky blue peace.

In my pack, notebook
pen and chewing pencils,
attest to my sadness.
So I sleep and dream
until breakfast time, at
night’s end.

– ©️ Dai Fry 28th April 2020.

Unreasonable Pursuits

There’s too much
Ground to cover.
I wish it weren’t true.
My brain and my body ache, and
There’s still so much to do.

Hitch a ride, or
Take a shortcut
If you can find a way.
But, as for me, the summit
Will have to wait for another day.

-st

On A Road

a wick young lad meets Devil.
Wise with old tales

he goads Devil.
Before I do owt for thee

I want tha soul. Devil gobsmacked
replies I have no soul

of my own. Only souls of others.
Then gi me those, answers

lad and I’ll do whatever tha hankers for .
Devil hands him a mobile.

This phone contains all my souls.
There is a woman who
would have your tongue. I ask
you visit her and take hers.

God didn’t sleep with me.
He chose that cow Mary.
Devil put you on to me,
Young un’. Tells you I need
your tongue and you need
to take mine.

I offer you hunger,
wrinkles, short life
and disease, and me
as an ugly bitch.
Except
on Saturdays when
I look like a model
and you have eternal life,
youth and health.
Manage your expectations.

Young chuff replies To me you’re beautiful
for six days. Only a monster
on Saturdays when you’re a serpent
from waist down. Accept this mobile.
It contains all Devil’s souls.

And young man returns
to Devil with her stories.
Accept the Sibyl’s tongue.
he says and Devil scowls
at this young buck’s cleverness.

Paul Brookes

Finding the way Home

I dreamt last night
that the world had fractured
into puzzle pieces,
landscapes that once stretched for miles,
broken into lives divided.
Fragments lay strewn across the sky,
smooth and rounded edges
tossed on the wind and turned
upside down,
searching for each other,
longing to find a place to fit.
My father was there,
telling me I was the only one
who could unite the scattered pieces.
“But, I am blind”,
I told him.
“You don’t need eyes to help the lost
find their way home”,
he said.
He kissed me on the cheek,
then broke into petals
that floated away on a breeze.

-Susan Richardson

Himalayan Hike

The hip generation smokes cocaine
& indulges in unsafe sex in the dark
corners of the secluded caves;
No restrictions. No rules. Get
drunk, get high and make merry.
The soil is plagued by adultery.

Some avalanches are such that even
the dead bodies cannot be traced.

-Jay Gandhi

 

30th April

30

Liaisons

In summer time, head to the cemetery,
out around nine o’clock, where birches drip the days
and you’re freshly plucked and razored
into what you think is your best self.

You’re meeting friends, supposed to be going
out with a boy, some years older than you
and you don’t know his last name, but covet
his leather gloves and biker jacket, para boots

with stories to tell. Your friends have sticky palms
and cider on their breath, the ground is flecked
with rollies; it’s August and you are still young,
until September comes and moves everyone on.

You kiss the boy on the cheek, maybe take it a little further,
fingers in zippers and the soft sounds of birds,
a gnat swarm suddenly veils you, a graveyard bride,
or a gothic pop-song caricature of yourself.

Later, you lie on the earth and play dead.
Imagine what it would be like to spill into the soil,
while others tell themselves that everything will be ok.
Night rises, fix up your lipstick, kiss the boy

on the cheek again, say thank you,
because that’s what your mother taught you;
that manners are as important,
as the way that you live.

-Ali Jones

The Cobweb’s Breath

Cobweb’s breath dew sticky,
comes over the shoulder
from the back. Hairs
rise from their quiver.
Were I to touch your stone,
would we be holding hands… again?

There is a transparency here
where your roots spike
through the sorrow of long grass.
Under church eyes and iron fencing,
Where we take our visiting hour.

I sometimes wish you
had been burnt in
the gas hot fires.
Then I could have
held you up to the winds.

You may have embraced
cliff-skies and turbulent spirals.
Tree hung dappled brooks
and fresh water meadows.
Casting off your glooms
as you once tossed your hair,
in a shower of grey dust.

But I like this garden
with a parlour’s quiet,
wild flowers abandoned
to this overgrown place.

Where we nearly hold hands
sipping our tea from a flask.

-©️ Dai Fry 29th April 2020.

Tiger Lily

He was playful at the end,
surprising me with treats
when I appeared at his door,
sneaking pieces of chocolate
from his wife’s private stash,
sharing the spoils.
He ate whipped cream without a spoon,
slept in his favorite suede shoes,
told me he wished he could fly away.

He will never be entombed.

He will be given back to the earth,
mingle with the roots of trees,
become the soil that cultivates life.
He will be branches that touch the sky,
leaves rustled by a gentle wind.
He will be a field of sunflowers
that greet the day,
rolling hills that stretch
to the edge of night.
He will be a tiger lily that blooms bright
for just one day,
reminding me to breathe,
to treasure what is beautiful,
what is fleeting.

-Susan Richardson

Moksha

Today the spirits are partying
while the corpses are dancing
in their graves.

They have done it!
They’ve broken the loop
of birth & death.

All these souls are free of regrets
for they can’t repair anything now.

The loads of setting things right
in the next life have drowned.

The manipulative manual
is in tatters.

Having broken all the shackles,
having won the ultimate battle,

there is one thing that’s
irking them now:

Why didn’t we live like this
in the very first place?

-Jay Gandhi

Writing My Epitaph

My ghosts already haunt me.
Ghosts of poor choices and
Things I shouldn’t have said;
Ghosts which sneak up around my grave, and
Show me those deeply-buried,
Long-loathed parts of me
That haven’t fully decayed.
The rotting, fleshy bits hanging in
Their grotesque way,
Reminding me they wait for me
To address their presence, pick them apart and
Bury them again so they may properly deteriorate
Into fertile earth for healthy new growth.

When they come haunting,
My ghosts make a compelling case.
They are translucent, persistent things,
Not unlike the memories they dredge up to share with me.
Sometimes, they nearly convince me I’m already dead.
But why is my headstone blank?
My ghosts don’t understand, but as
They walk me through graveyards,
Instead, I see orchards of opportunity
Ripe to harvest in good deeds for
My future epitaph.


-st

Our Blue Mary (A List Poem)

A caged bride
A dog called what
A salamander’s wool
Age is only a number
Aniseed
Blue Hawk
Escaped
Fingerprint
Found
I decide
In a grain of sand
Kill it my sister
Let me pass through
Midwinter is
My flame
My stone
On the road
Our spired unicorn
Our Unicorn spire
Path of seeds
Silence
Soundtrack
The cost is prohibitive
The one hand
The ruin
The Rung down
The Stag
This egg asks
Trees hold hands
You Meet

=Paul Brookes

Bios and links

-Jane Cornwell

likes drawing and painting children, animals, landscapes and food. She specialises in watercolour, mixed media, coloured pencil, lino cut and print, textile design. Jane can help you out with adobe indesign for your layout needs, photoshop and adobe illustrator. She graduated with a ba(hons) design from Glasgow School of art, age 20.

She has exhibited with the rsw at the national gallery of scotland, SSA, Knock Castle Gallery, Glasgow Group, Paisley Art Institute, MacMillan Exhibition at Bonhams, Edinburgh, The House For An Art Lover, Pittenweem Arts Festival, Compass Gallery, The Revive Show, East Linton Art Exhibition and Strathkelvin Annual Art Exhibition.

-Susan Richardson

is an award winning, internationally published poet. She is the author of “Things My Mother Left Behind”, coming from Potter’s Grove Press in 2020, and also writes the blog, “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”. You can find her on Twitter @floweringink, listen to her on YouTube, and read more of her work on her website.

Here is my updated 2018 interview of her: https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2020/04/08/wombwell-rainbow-interviews-susan-richardson/

-Ali Jones

is a teacher, and writer with work published in a variety of places, from Poetry Ireland Review, Proletarian Poetry and The Interpreter’s House, to The Green Parent Magazine and The Guardian. She has a particular interest in the role of nature in literature, and is a champion of contemporary poetry in the secondary school classroom.

Here is my 2019 interview of her: https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2019/12/28/wombwell-rainbow-interviews-ali-jones/

-Jay Gandhi

is a Software Engineer by qualification, an accountant by profession, a budding Guitarist & a Yoga Sadhak at heart and a poet by his soul. Poetry intrigues him because it’s an art in which a simple yet profound skill of placing words next to each other can create something so touching and literally sweep him of the floor. He is 32-year-old Indian and stays in Mumbai. His works have appeared in the following places:
An ebook named “Pav-bhaji @ Achija” available in the Kindle format at Amazon.in The poem “Salsa; a self discovery” published in an anthology motivated by Late Sir APJ Abdul Kalam. The poem “High Caloried love” selected for an upcoming book “Once upon a meal” The poem “Strawberry Lip Balm” selected in the anthology “Talking to the poets” Four poems published in a bilingual anthology “Persian Sugar in English Tea” Vol.1 Two poems published in the anthology “Poets on the Run” compiled by RC James.

His poems have made it to the PoeTree blog and front pages of PoetryCircle.com & OpenArtsForum.com. In free time, he likes to walk for long distances.

Here is my 2018 interview with him: https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2018/09/23/wombwell-rainbow-interviews-jay-Gandhi/

-Samantha Terrell

is an American poet whose work emphasizes emotional integrity and social justice. She is the author of several eBooks including, Learning from Pompeii, Coffee for Neanderthals, Disgracing Lady Justice and others, available on smashwords.com and its affiliates.Chapbook: Ebola (West Chester University Poetry Center, 2014)

Website: poetrybysamantha.weebly.com
Twitter: @honestypoetry

Here is my 2020 interview of her:

https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2020/04/08/wombwell-rainbow-interviews-samantha-terrell/

-Dai-Fry

is an x social worker and a present poet. Image is all but flow is good too. So many interesting things… Published in Black bough Poetry, Re-Side, The Hellebore, The Pangolin Review. He will not stop.

Twitter @thnargg

Web. seekingthedarklight.co.uk

Audio/Visual. @IntPoetryCircle #InternationalPoetryCircle Twitter
#TopTweetTuesday

-Paul Brookes

is a shop asst. Lives in a cat house full of teddy bears. His chapbooks include The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press, 2017), A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Port Of Souls (Alien Buddha Press, 2018), Please Take Change (Cyberwit.net, 2018), Stubborn Sod, with Marcel Herms (artist) (Alien Buddha Press, 2019), As Folk Over Yonder ( Afterworld Books, 2019). Forthcoming Khoshhali with Hiva Moazed (artist), Our Ghost’s Holiday (Final book of threesome “A Pagan’s Year”) . He is a contributing writer of Literati Magazine and Editor of Wombwell Rainbow Interviews.

 

Here is what the writers have to say about their experience

A fantastic and thought provoking challenge that forces the pen onto the page, in the best way possible.

 

Ali Jones

Brilliant collaborative effort showcasing the work of both the poets and their muse–the individual pieces by our talented featured artist.

Samantha Terrell

My experience with Paul’s Ekphrastic Challenge has been wonderful. It has taught me a lot about myself as a writer, shown me that I am capable of more than I thought. It has been amazing learning from the other participants, and fascinating to see how each of us responded in such diverse ways to Jane’s beautiful paintings. I am so glad that Paul asked me to be a part of it.

Susan Richardson

I look at the painting for some time and something always strikes my mind. Sometimes it is metaphoric, sometimes some past experiences and sometimes the colors paint a tale. But I always pick up the first feeling that I get on looking at the painting. Ideally, I should allow the painting to speak to me as much as it can. But I feel whispers are good enough for me. First thoughts stir me. I write the poem, revise it, edit it all at one go. This process again is questionable but it works for me. The painting helps in anchoring the thoughts. When I write without the prompt, my mind runs in the free jungle. The painting helps me in channelizing my thoughts. The overall experience has made me a patient poet if not a better one.

Jay Gandhi

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