Between The Music And The Sun by Andrew Hughes (Literary Alchemy Press)

Tears in the Fence

     I reached out to Andrew Hughes, who is my former student, while I was reading his short fiction collection Between the Music and the Sun and had a quick conversation with him about what he was doing in these stories, half of which are set in Nashville, Tennessee and half of which are set in Phoenix, Arizona. He told me that part of the project was to capture the new American South and desert Southwest and how the working class lives within it, which intrigues me of course. Like every other American, I was raised on a literary diet rich in the works of Southern authors, but only to a certain point in time. My Southern reading includes Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O’Connor, and William Faulkner, and so my understanding of that region is limited to images that have become stereotypes. My knowledge of the desert Southwest is even more…

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#AlzheimersAwarenessMonth #WorldAlzheimersMonth. The theme for World Alzheimer’s Month in 2021 is ‘Know dementia, know Alzheimer’s’. Have you created poetry/artworks/photos/short articles about Alzheimer’s. I will feature all work submitted. Please join and add to the words of Spangle McQueen, Diane Ross, and me in raiding awareness of this disease. My late grandad suffered it, and my stepmam is in a home with a severe version. I will be adding two pieces of mine

The theme for World Alzheimer’s Month in 2021 is ‘Know dementia, know Alzheimer’s’.

Alzheimers poster

Swan Lake Memories

There were seven swans
on the lake that day.
One, head down, tail up,
feeding in the mud
while we, your hand slipped
into mine, laughed
at the thought that it was mooning
us. Cygnets,
grey-brown balls of fluff,
resting on their mother’s back.
A first-time kiss and other thoughts
of future broods.

Sitting in this comfy chair
I see, in not quite real-life,
the white birds, now what are they?
A thing inside is nagging me
and, clear as day, I see a girl
giggling at an upturned bird,
and hear the sounds
and smell the Spring.
She looks a little like
the woman who looks after me,
makes drinks
and gives me pills to take.

She comes in with a mug of tea
and I gesture wordlessly
towards the screen and she
says Swans. I sigh, of course,
I should have known.
They’re important! I reply
and a small smile flits across her face.
Yes, they are and she looks sad
but another word is better;
melon?, melony?
It shows the birds are flying now,
I don’t know where, oh
those white birds, what are they?

-Tim Fellows December 31st 2019

Mancunian Insomnia 

when you bond

with the alien

that invaded your beloved’s body

become more maternal

than you could be with your

daughters

who seek comfort in the

luxury of expensive puddings

nocturnal snacks

when you fret

that he’ll feel abandoned

alone

this cocooned clone

that stole the eyes

and ate the mind

of the one

whose name we still use

to delude ourselves

when you

trace circles

round the still sturdy heart

hoping for a glimmer

of recognition

-Spangle McQueen (First published by Burning House Press https://burninghousepress.com/2018/05/25/mancunian-insomnia-by-spangle-mcqueen/

What do I Do Now?

She looked up at me innocently, her soft blue eyes with their flecks of grey widening like a small child’s. She looked so mystified and innocent that I could hardly bear it.

‘One, two, three, seventeen, twenty-four, five.. Why am I counting?’ Sometimes she was aware she had just been acting strangely, almost like someone else commenting upon the antics of a stranger.

As the disease progressed my Mother changed mood frequently, sliding in and out of tune with her ‘self’ just like one of those old fashioned radios that require fine tuning to locate the correct frequency.

Shades of the woman I knew so well were still in evidence but now a new persona was emerging. If I felt frightened by her diagnosis I cannot imagine the extent of her terror.

‘Oh it is so nice to see you!’ Betty would say every now and again when her illness gave her a well earned rest. On really good days she would say my name and that felt like winning the lottery.

I first noticed that something was very wrong when she would repeat what she had just said about twenty times over the phone. I didn’t immediately understand this was an early sign of dementia. I naively assumed that memory loss was a natural sign of old age since she was in her eighties.

Over time she stopped doing things she enjoyed. She downed her needles decisively one day, announcing that knitting gave her a headache. She did the same with watching TV and listening to the radio. We later discovered she had had TIAs during these activities but believed they had caused her to feel unwell and decided that ceasing them would protect her from illness. An increasing lack of mental and physical stimulation only exacerbated the problem and a downward spiral ensued.

You learn a lot about your own strengths and weaknesses when you care for someone with Alzheimer’s full time. Sometimes I wouldn’t manage to shower until midday. It reminded me of how life was when our children were small.. the copious cold cups of tea, barely eaten meals and lack of sleep.

The responsibility was daunting and I can honestly say looking after my Mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The experience was extremely challenging and stressful but also very humbling.

When someone you love descends into this often frightening and isolating journey it rips your world apart. The sufferer may be completely unintelligible, seem bewildered and frustrated but then out of the blue appear totally present, saying something reassuring and familiar.

My life was saved by music and poetry. By chance I discovered that the repetition of melody and rhyme possessed magical properties. Betty couldn’t remember what she had said five minutes previously but if you read the first line of a familiar poem she could recite the rest!

Poetry saved my sanity and brought me closer to my mom, who always loved it and could still recite many poems she had always loved.. and this revealed to me the miracle of poetry.

-Diane Rossi

The Unresolveables (An Heroic Crown Sonnet)

1. Sat At Tideline With
Sat at tideline with all my belongings.
Longings in belongings. No you can’t. Don’t
Wave waxing pulls my stuff, drags it. Slipping.
It can’t have it. I won’t give in. I won’t

Ripple recedes as it pulls away from me.
Then it rises, swoops like bloody murder.
Sucks at my frames, pictures of family.
Don’t remember what I’ve lost. I suffer

from losing nothing. People tell me what
I’ve lost. I’m none the wiser. I need my bag.
They steal my bag. Then help me find it. That’s
why I carry it with me. My keys they rag.

They lift up stuff, say It’s here. Discovered
My photos, my ornaments, all gathered.

2. All Gathered

My photos, my ornaments, all gathered
into me beside a sea that steals, hoards.
I painted three cat pictures. I’m mithered,
I can’t recall their names. Lose the cord.

Hoppy had only three legs. Long haired love.
In life you collect things for a reason,
then forget the reason. Heaven’s above.
I need to write stuff down. Where’s my pen gone?

My pen is in my bag. Someone’s stolen
my bag. “Let me help you look.” Says carer.
In my pile of valuables, well hidden.
What do I need my pen for? Waves closer.

We are steadfast and keen in preserving
against receding waves that keep pulling.

3. Against

against receding waves that keep pulling.
Everyday is new to me. Folk tell
me something new everyday. I’m mulling
over I belong here, here is not hell.

I have a husband who makes the tea, there
behind the counter. Folk confuse me when
they say so sorry but they need to share,
my husband is dead. They don’t make sense.

Show photos of me with a strange cute man.
I nod sweetly. Hold hands. They’re clearly mad.
Steven, my husband, bring us tea, kind and
sensitive. He goes along with their sad

news. Waves pull all value I have hoarded
all away from me, memories tethered.

4. All Away

All away from me, memories tethered
by fragility. Lacks strength of spider’s
web, or ship’s anchor rope. Stranger blethered
I have two sons. One no longer with us.

Competitive. Aspired. One capricious.
Dead. Blue and white rope he used. My son, Brave.
Bravest he ever was. Wouldn’t let us
hug him. Let me put my hands on his brave

shoulders. Then he pushed away. As if to
say I’m strong enough to stand on my own.
Isn’t that brave? You know he had blue
and white rope round his neck. He was known

as brilliant yachtsman. Memories slipped
by my frantic grasp to prevent their drift.

5. Frantic Grasp

By my frantic grasp to prevent their drift
I try to keep all safe. I have sons. O,
how wonderful! These are them, are they? Sift
through the photos. They’re cute.
You have to go?

Please hold my hand just a little longer.
Thankyou. I won beauty contests. Youthful.
I sold microwaves to throngs as youngster.
Managed teams, won prizes. Being truthful.

Do you like my hat? It’s a summer one.
Please stay a bit longer. Don’t like it here.
No, really. I don’t. Lonely when you’ve gone.
Go then. See if I care. Don’t leave me dear.

Someone visited me? Photos. My minds
into forgottenness. They are reminders.

6. They Are

into forgottenness. They are reminders.
Photos remember what is forgotten.
Who are these people? I wake from slumber
to strangers smiling back at me. Fiction.

They mean nothing to me. Why are they framed,
and in my room? These clothes aren’t mine. Someone’s
swapped them! Mine had sewn cotton labels, named.
I’m sure they did. In here they are all cons.

Come into my room in waves, steal what can.
I know what they’re about. Won’t fool me blind.
What do you mean what am I doing? Man,
this is my room. It isn’t? Please help me find

my room. At seas edge I can feel waves lift.
How did I find myself here, a spindrift?

7. I Find Myself

How did I find myself here, a spindrift?
Not enough tea in this. It’s just water.
Sugar. Can you put more sugar in it?
What’s your name? Thankyou. That tastes much better.

I need the loo. Can you help me? Always
somebody screams in here. You like my hat?.
I need the loo. Where you going? Away?
O, I know her she’s nice. Yes, love. Toilet.

She’s screaming again. I’m going to lie
down on my bed, love. Will you stay with me?
My clothes no longer fit. They need to buy
me more, that aren’t so tight. I like pretty.

Carried coal in on his back. My father.
Water’s edge or earth’s end? Which is kinder?

8. Edge or Earth’s

“Water’s edge or earth’s end? Which is kinder?
What do words mean? Getting more like pictures.
What are they showing me? What is this for?
A pen. What do you do with it? Mixtures

of tiny lines. That’s pretty.” Because she
can’t write, but enjoys the sounds I’m making
these verses up for her. I read so she
can listen, recording what she’s saying.

I have to report how she interacts
with other people in here. Make sure she
takes her medication else, she’ll fall back
and her condition worsen more quickly.

Sentences she says really get to me:
“Only strangers now, who say they know me.”

9. Only Strangers Now

“Only strangers now, who say they know me.”
She says. I don’t want to add to her words,
only take away some if she lets me.
Her talk blooms with allusion, mystery.

Her son says she has books by Rod Mckuen,
“Listen to the Warm” , Russian Yevgeny
Yevtushenko, “Selected Poems”. When
I mention names, she has no memory.

She sings “The sun has got his hat on. Hip,
hip, hooray. The sun has got his hat on.”
One hand on top of her summer hat lifts
it in time so it flops to the rhythm.

Other times gentleness is hers, and yours
“Hold my hand, take me down long corridors.”

10. Hold My Hand, Take Me

“Hold my hand, take me down long corridors.”
All patients are locked in permanently.
Each has their own en-suite room and their doors
only open to their key cards. Toiletries

are extra fees we access from accounts
set up by their loved ones. Sometimes we ask
for relatives to bring in more clothes. Counts
If we can email, text or phone with facts.

Loved ones updated with latest virus
news, how can visit after negative
test result. Before, windows clean glass
to see them through. We think/act positive.

She waits for them while we show we care.
“They have photos. It looks like me, Nowhere”

11. Nowhere

“They have photos. It looks like me, Nowhere”
We try to make it somehow like a home
from home. An opportunity to share
their past lives. Their fresh animated tone

the event is in the here and now for
them. It is never them for us. We use
first names all the time. Hold it in great store
as a family. Our wordsmith we’ll choose

to call Pam taps her shoulders when she talks
of her dad who would carry packed sackfuls
of coal on his back. Pam when she slow walks
with you steadies herself against her falls.

Always walk pace of slowest ones. She roars:
“I can recall. How did I reach these shores?”

12. These Shores

“I can recall. How did I reach these shores?”
Pam was transferred from an emergency
care place, after neighbour saw her outdoors
pacing her front garden. Community

welfare came out with police to remove
her, as a danger to herself and others.
Her late husband had already been moved
into a respite place to recover.

She had not been taking the drugs prescribed,
so rapid decline inevitable.
Back on regular medication, slide
to a lower plateau less possible.

We can slow the process, not stop decline.
“Did I come to this place with things of mine?”

13. I Come to

“Did I come to this place with things of mine?”
Powered attorneys brought Pam’s belongings,
her husband having died in the meantime.
Soon, all will be unbelongings.

Belonging only in the heads of those
who knew her. She will leave her words, art:
sketches she made of her three cats of whose
names: Hoppy and Missy, she knew by heart.

It is sad to talk of someone living
as if they have already passed away.
Some relatives are shocked to find filling
body of one they knew is a strangers gaze.

Professional, you can’t help get close: her rhyme:
“Is that wave for mine? Is it now my time?”

14. Wave For

“Is that wave for mine? Is it now my time?”
Pam talks of ocean as taker away
of value she’s gathered on the shoreline.
Unaware others are with her each day.

A strange time for all, when keen avoidance
of others has been the key to our health.
We have felt loss sharply, hugs and street dance,
a dosey do, a time outside ourselves.

Locked in Pam is a stranger to all this,
perhaps she has noted the extra cleaning,
masks so she can’t see our smiling faces.
Her world smaller, stranger each new morning.

I’ll leave the final words to her: she sings
“Sat at tideline with all my belongings.”

15. The Unresolvables

Sat at tideline with all my belongings.
My photos, my ornaments, all gathered
against receding waves that keep pulling
all away from me, memories tethered

by my frantic grasp to prevent their drift
into forgottenness. They are reminders.
How did I find myself here, a spindrift?
Water’s edge or earth’s end? Which is kinder?

Only strangers now, who say they know me.
Hold my hand, take me down long corridors.
They have photos. It looks like me, Nowhere
I can recall. How did I reach these shores?

Did I come to this place with things of mine?
Is that wave for mine? Is it now my time?

-Paul Brookes (First published in Fevers of the Mind https://feversofthemind.com/2021/05/17/the-unresolveables-an-heroic-crown-sonnet-sequence-by-paul-brookes/

The Day My Grandad Disappeared 

A knock at our front door. A Doctor has brought Grandad home. Grandad has gone into a Doctors believing he has an appointment.

Grandad goes for a paper, for the footie pages. As he does everyday, dressed immaculately, jacket, waistcoat, tie, black shoes shining.

Nana and he arrive a couple of days ago to help Dad again in caring for Mam, who is fighting Breast Cancer. Always a quiet man. Keeps himself to himself. Even when I am a child and we go to see the latest James Bond he says very little. He talks footie but I am not into that. He does Littlewoods Pools and Spot the Ball.

He comes in from sorting at the Post Office, walks through the lounge door, bangs the door with one hand as his other hand grabs his nose and laughs. He is good, we laugh too.

Grandad is very late. Grandad left three hours ago. Nana wants to call local hospitals fearing he has been knocked down. Dad drives around the village, pops into the newsagents. Grandad has not bought his paper.

My grandad suffers illnesses. Among my late Nanas belongings I discover a note he has written.

Ellesmere Port.    Pneumonia May     1942 Dec 1942

When I had been in the army a year my health began to deteriate  I had Pneumonia twice in six months The last time I almost lost my life They sent for my wife and sat with me alnight  When I was twenty two I had mumps in hospital again I was never rid of styes in my eyes having to go in hospital again as Both my eyes closed. Had pains in my Back although I didn’t go in hospital I was put on light duties for a fortnight When I was on leave I saw my own doctor who gave me injection in my Back I have a disabled Badge in my car and  am under hospital care as an outpatient for my stomach another specialist for my chest.

The note appears to have been written sometime later, perhaps as evidence for a new doctor.

In a 1993 poetry anthology ‘Rats For Love:The Book’ my poem ‘Bait’ describes the banter between Nana and Grandad. It describes how she felt about his forgetfulness before he was diagnosed:

Married forty years to the same man. Ate with her mouth open. Talked with her mouth full. Masticated his forgetfulness through two romantic lovers between the pages. Cut with some bloodless cold steel then tongued from cheek to cheek morsels of his past with her: Who lost his false teeth … … Ieft his pipe on the bin lid outside … kept new clothes unwrapped for years … did not like driving in the dark … ? She levered chewed events from good teeth, pushed them down to the acid below through shredding walls to feed blood and bile that formed into words goading him to grab the bait. And when he did she hauled him in to be filleted, iced and sold to others as good quality food to be eaten.

The title is a play on words that is not made obvious in the poem. My Nana is born in Sunderland and the North East dialect word for food is ‘bait.’

Especially after Mam dies of Cancer, Grandad gradually forgets how to care for himself. Nana looks after him until it gets too much for her too.

 Nana buys packs of incontinence pants as Grandad loses control of his bowels. She puts new ones on, bins the old. Grandad does not help, as on one of many occasions he gets into bed, soils himself, takes off the pants while in bed, and throws them on the bedroom floor soiled side down.

A large man Nana has to bath him, then try to get him out of the bath when he will not move.

He has spells in local care homes, gradually stays longer and longer. A respite for Nana.

Nana ensures he has what she calls ‘decent’ clothes in his suitcase, each piece of clothing painstakingly labelled with his name. When he returns home she is forever phoning the homes about someone elses clothes in the returned suitcase. On one occasion, Grandad walks five miles from Care home to Nana’s.

Last time I see Grandad my wife and I treat both him and Nana to a Sunday pub lunch at Knox Arms. A  stone built pub about two miles from Nanas.

Nana dresses Grandad immaculately, razor sharp trouser creases, spotless shirt, waistcoat, matching tie  Throughout, our visit Grandad never speaks. We order a Taxi to the pub. At the Knox, Nana tucks a paper napkin into Grandad’s shirt, and when it arrives cuts his roast dinner up for him. Nana talks throughout about daily problems with Grandads incontinence pads and staff in the homes, the uselessness of Social Services. On the walk home I notice Grandads waistcoat and shirt gravy stained and ribbons of carrot cling to the underside of his lip.

I search his eyes for recognition of who I am, from the time I say hello to the time I say goodbye to him sat in his favourite chair at Nanas. My Grandad has disappeared..

-Paul Brookes

#cancerawarenessmonth Have you created your own poetry/artworks/photos about cancer? I will feature all work submitted. My mother died of cancer in 1997 so shall be including my own, too. Please join and add to the words of Diane Rossi, Matthew M.C. Smith, Z.D. Dicks, Tim Fellows and myself.

#cancerawarenessmonth

cancer september

Ring the Bell

There’s this tradition,
to signify the end of treatment,
to mark the new you,
to ring in the new year:
to ring the bell,
Ring the all-clear.

“It’s not for me”, I say.
“There’s others in this day unit
who may never get a chance,
and as much as they might be happy
that the man with the headphones
has finished his chemotherapy,
The ringing may just break their hearts,
as mine would if I heard that sound.”

But I live in fear that if I ring it,
if I do a little speech
and take some photos,
that the cancer will come back.
Then I’ll have done this to myself:
gloating that I had it beaten,
when it was still skulking in the dark,
a wounded tiger, regaining its strength.

-Jamie Woods (commended in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine 2021)
www.jamiewoods77.com

Tm Fellows Cancer poem

-Tim Fellows

Lost Frequency by Matthew C.

-Matthew M. C. Smith (First published in Heroin_Chic_Mag Feb 21 edition: http://heroinchic.weebly.com/blog/poetry-by-matthew-m-c-smith )

marooned by z d dicks

-Z. D. Dicks

Thank You ‘Love’

I watched my daughter walk down the aisle to marry her Italian boyfriend. There was a time when I seriously doubted if I would be present for such an important event or even live to see any of my three children become adults.

In 2004 my children were young teenagers and life was busy. I was teaching English in Italy, which was exhausting, poorly paid and frustrating but I loved it. Everything in my life appeared to be going well and in fact I felt extremely healthy and content.

I was saying goodbye to a class of Italian adult students of English on 29th July 2004 as it was the last lesson before the summer recess. I was mildly worried about the lump I had just discovered that morning after showering. I assumed it was a cyst as it was quite hard. Its discovery was an accident and a total shock. I am ashamed to say I never checked my breasts previously for lumps. I do now.

A week later a mammogram showed very clearly there was a tumour and a biopsy confirmed that it was cancerous. I was also told firmly that there was no time to waste. I was in the operating theatre before the month was out because at the rate the tumour was growing it was reckoned any later would be too late..

When I noticed my daughter’s radiant expression as she said ‘I do’ I remembered how I desperately ‘prayed’ to be present on future wedding days (should any of the children decide to get married.)

I felt so totally calm and present as I watched her smile and then found myself recalling the ‘third person’ moment, when as I sat in bewilderment in the surgeon’s office, I left my body behind. The moment I was told I had breast cancer it felt like the surgeon was talking to someone else. I almost looked over my shoulder in fact.

On the way home as the shock subsided my mind started to question.. ’What have I done to deserve this?’ I felt punished; Had I eaten the wrong things? I should have exercised more. Had I been exposed to radiation? Was it stress? I’d had quite a lot of that over the years for one reason or another. The pointless questions just went on on and on.

Then a sense of inner peace overwhelmed me and I felt my heart open, as if a ray of light had entered it from a place unseen. This sounds bizarre I know but this experience gave me the strength to face the fear.

I decided to place my fate in unseen but trusted hands. If my time was up I would accept it as bravely as I could. I wasn’t afraid of death as I have always believed that nothing and no one ever truly ‘dies’ but just takes another form. 

Death is part of life. There is surely much more to the mysterious workings of the universe than our limited human brains could ever comprehend. I wasn’t afraid for myself but for those I loved.

So I unburdened my worries for them in an internally expressed plea to the force which is responsible for the endless cycle of birth and death. I have never given it a name when I have addressed it as such. ‘Love’ will do for want of a better word. I asked as humbly as I could manage for help. It went something like this, as I recall:

“I place myself in Your hands. If You feel I serve no further purpose here upon this earth, then I will gladly go, but I would really love the opportunity to accompany my children as they navigate their journey into adulthood. I love them with all my heart and soul. My husband is my true love, my once in a lifetime soul mate. I have so much love still to give, not only to my family but to the world. I want to make a difference in whatever way I possibly can. I would be grateful for the chance to live still, to be of use but if I am no longer needed here, if my work is done then I accept I have to leave for a journey I must make alone.”

I know this may seem really strange to some but it’s just the way I am and I was prepared to accept whatever would happen.

I did my best not to let the children see how hard the effects of the subsequent chemotherapy was upon my body. My gums bled even after gentle brushing and my scalp was so sensitive after the second round of chemo that I couldn’t physically stand the sensation of hair on my head. When it started to shed upon my pillow in clumps I asked my hairdresser to shave it all off and wore a fetching little cap.

I have so many people to thank and I do so with every fibre of my being on a daily basis but I am especially grateful, to ‘Love.’
In those days chemo was a lot more severe than it is now and I thought I wouldn’t be able to continue once cycle 5 came around. 

But after six months of intense therapy and six weeks of radiotherapy I began to slowly get my energy back. My body had been so blasted that most days I could barely eat or walk. I lost a huge amount of weight and had to use a stick at first to help me walk in the early weeks. Five years of taking Tamoxifen followed and yearly mammograms and post cancer check ups, for which I am hugely grateful.

My husband and children were courageous throughout but I know they suffered deep down. I was determined not to add to their stress or whinge when I was in pain as I didn’t want them to worry. I had been given this chance to fight so I made friends with my juicer, maintained my sense of humour (which has always got me through most things) and lived each day with a sense of positivity and gratitude.

I still live in this spirit. Never a day goes by when I don’t say a silent ‘thank you’ for this gift we call life. I have been blessed to witness my two daughters and son grow into beautiful, intelligent, open hearted young adults. They each have a social conscience and great sense of humour. I am incredibly proud of their academic achievements but much more of who they are as people.

When my daughter beamed at me as she walked back down the aisle as a married woman my heart leapt up inside my chest – so very near to the breast that I miraculously did not lose. I had been granted my deepest wish. I was a Mother of The Bride and present at my own daughter’s wedding.

I have so many people to thank and I do so with every fibre of my being on a daily basis but I am especially grateful, to ‘Love.’

-Diane Rossi (https://ko-fi.com/post/Thank-You-Love-J3J05GGFL)

To Watch Athletics With My Mam

sit on her soft bed, rest an arm
on a spare pillow. Mam’s pillows
stack behind her as we watch a
tv placed where her dress mirror stood.

Once she cried as her hair fell out.
She cried as she gained each pound weight
because she takes the chemicals
to stop her dying, stop the spread.

Together we watch lithe bodies,
sharp muscle tone dash for the end.

Once she was ‘petite’, now Mam’s fat

jowls, bingo wings slop on the bed.

Chemotherapy means she does
not like reflective surfaces.
All house mirrors have been removed.

Her home is spotless, a show home.
Every day we polish, scrub,
vacuum, she wants it welcoming.

She nods off half way through the
100 metres, I soft clap
the winner as she would have done.

She looks forward to Oakwell match,
a new fan of Barnsley FC.

She will sit in her hired wheelchair
yell and clap at their confidence,
vitality, their will to win.

I never go as I don’t like
football, regret my selfishness
and time not enjoying her life.

I remember good times, and smile
at her laughter, gleam in her eyes
when she sees another winner
dash over the race finish line.

Note: Mum died of cancer in 1997

-Paul Brookes

Bios and links

-Z. D. Dicks

is a Gloucestershire Poet Laureate and widely published in respected journals.

-Jamie Woods

is a writer from South Wales, and has had short stories published in Evergreen ReviewThe First Line and Smoke.

He has an MA in Creative Writing from Cardiff University. He previously attended Swansea University, where he read the NME and Melody Maker, and then at the Open University, where he studied Literature.

He has been known to obsessively collect records, books, and random pieces of plastic tat priceless sentimental limited edition items.

#September11#911Anniversary #NeverForget911 Anybody got any poetry/artworks that you have created yourself about this event? Please join Cheryl Moskowitz and myself in marking this day. I will feature all contributions on my blog today.

#September11#911Anniversary #NeverForget911

cheryl moskowitz shed

photo credit: Russell Hodgson

That Day

I was outside
painting the walls green
when the planes hit.
First one and then the other
Little planes? I asked the radio
I thought of Dastardly and Muttley who were always
flying into buildings
cursing their luck
and flying off again.
I hoped against hope
for minimum destruction.
The walls of my shed
so newly built
and now, the green paint not even dry.
We all scanned the skies for airplanes that day
feeling ourselves to be the target–
even my shed began to feel like a skyscraper.
– Cheryl Moskowitz

beams of light

To Commemorate

death when
the two towers fell
shine two beams of light
into the dark

our tiny bones break against panes
of glass
thousands of us in the beams
of light

a gram of fat, fuel for 120 miles
migration
lost in man-made light

-Paul Brookes

Bios And Links

-Cheryl Moskowitz

is a US-born writer and poet living in London. She works in a shed in her garden. www.cherylmoskowitz.com

“Unexpected Mergers” Takes You To The Strange Worlds of Poetry and Painting!

Poemedicine

How grateful I am to receive this ekphrastic collaboration, titled “Unexpected Mergers” published by Pski’s Porch, NY. It took me to the strange worlds of the poet/writer/editor, Jordan Trethewey and the artist Marcel Herms! I should admit that I didn’t come around this work cold, as I had already been familiar with their wonderful ekphrastic works through exploring in “Open Arts Forum”. Hard to say which work was my favorite among 40 different works of art and poetry. As I pass through the poems, each one stands alone and at the same time they go well with the pictures. Congratulations to both of them and hope to see more of such great works. So far my favorite poem/picture has been “I need a private world/ free from every living thing” but I am sure, my favorite will change from one to another when I read the book over and…

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Review of ‘Under A Mind’s Staircase’ by Robin McNamara

Nigel Kent - Poet

The debut pamphlet, Under a Mind’s Staircase, by Robin McNamara (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2021)  is another reminder – if we needed one – of Hedgehog Poetry Editor, Mark Davidson’s impressive eye for talent. Though widely published in magazines and anthologies, this is McNamara’s first collection and readers new to his work will immediately recognise its quality.

I begin this review, however, with some trepidation, more than usual. As always, there is my concern to do justice to the fabulous poetry, but today I feel more than that, for his fine poem, Autopsy of a Writer, provides a stark reminder to the reviewer of his (or her) responsibilities. Using the visceral image of a dissection, McNamara shows the reader how much poetry is part of a poet’s identity and purpose. An Editor’s rejection is portrayed as an act of butchery: ‘You reached in/ And pulled out/ My beating heart’ and…

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Rich Soos and Cholla Needles Press Interview by John Brantingham

Tears in the Fence

Just outside Joshua Tree National Park is the city of Joshua Tree, which has drawn artists and writers to itself forming a community of creative people in the Mojave Desert. Within this community is Rich Soos and Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, which have created a space for these folks to share their creativity. He publishes a monthly literary magazine and hosts readings to celebrate each new issue. He also makes sure Cholla Needles is involved with other local events including the Big Read put on each year by the Arts Connection of San Bernardino County.In 2021 the Big Read featured the U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo.

What I find particularly fascinating however, is Cholla Needles’ publishing project. Soos publishes a wide range of work, but his series of books of poets who are also visual artists is stunning. These are often about forty pages and include full color…

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#WSPD #WSPD2021 #WorldSuicidePreventionDay2021 #WorldSuicidePreventionDay Have you written about #CreatingHopethroughAction ? Please join Catherine Mellencamp, Amy Raeburn, Maggs Vibo and me in promoting this day. I will feature your poetry/flash fiction/artworks. ” ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ is a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and aims to inspire confidence and light in all of us; that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling. Preventing suicide is often possible and you are a key player in its prevention. Through action, you can make a difference to someone in their darkest moments – as a member of society, as a child, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague or as a neighbour. We can all play a role in supporting those experiencing a suicidal crisis or those bereaved by suicide.” From IASP website.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2021

WSPD suicideCreating-Hope-Through-Action suicideBe-the-Light suicidebefore you go cathetine mellen suicide prevention
A Love Letter to Me – A VISPO by Maggs Vibo

a love letter to me by maggs vibo suicide prevention

First published by IceFloe

a love letter to me by maggs vibo suicide prevention

First published by IceFloe

Black Rabbit

-Black Rabbit by Amy Raeburn

WSPD samaritans 1WSPD samaritans 2WSPD samaritans 3WSPD samaritans 4

Bios And Links

-Amy Raeburn

is originally from north-east Scotland and studied English at the University of Aberdeen. Amy’s poetry has appeared in publications including Cencrastus, Three Drops from a Cauldron, The Poetry Shed, Re-side and Southlight. Amy works and lives in Cheshire in the UK and is a member of the Blaze Poetry Society Stanza in Mid-Cheshire.

On Sabbatical: The First Week

Wendy Pratt Writing

I’m not really sure who I’m writing this for. People like me, I guess, who find it useful to see other people’s writing practices. I’ve just finished my first week of a writing sabbatical paid for with a small bursary from the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. It is making so much difference to my work and my self esteem as a writer.

Right now, I genuinely feel like I am living the life that I want to live. Despite having to do some work in the afternoons, I have stuck to my original plan and I am in a good routine. Currently my day looks a little like this:

6.10 alarm goes off

6.20 at my desk ready to work while watching the sun come up from my office window

7.15 dog walk down the village and out into the countryside

8.00 coffee on, sort out my husband’s medications…

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