A Green Hallowe’en

Angela Topping

I’ve always loved Hallowe’en. When I was a child, the children took care of it. It was all about playing out, telling spooky stories and trying to scare each other in the early evening dark after tea. I remember one year cadging a turnip from a farmer so we could make a turnip lantern. I regretted it because the thing was so hard to carve and smelled disgusting when we lit a candle in it. The flesh we’d hollowed out was given to my dad for making soup. He always hated turnip, having eaten so much of it as a child.

When my own children were small, we’d bake Hallowe’en biscuits for anyone who came to the door. There was dressing up, stories, maybe apple-bobbing. I didn’t take my children out to knock on doors, but we sometimes had a party. The most we ever bought for it was maybe…

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#folktober Today’s day theme is “The Lincoln Imp”, a mischievous fellow who went to far in Lincoln Cathedral so an angel turned him to stone. Broadening the theme to poetry/short prose/artworks about mischievous fellows. Please include a short third person bio, too.

folktober – Lincoln Inp

lincoln imp

A Lincoln Imp

Tell you why I’m motionless here, grinning
down at you. Satan let us out to play.
Mate and I sat on a church spire twisting
it. Chesterfield never had better days.

Next we blew through that door. Tripped up Bishop.
So serious. In the Angel Choir broke
chairs and tables till angel out a hymn book
told us to stop, so I lobbed stones at bloke

while mate scarpers to Grimsby, where angel
catches him, smacks his arse, turns him to stone
as he did to me. At least mate can waggle
his smacked arse at visitors I’m alone.

Need a bit of fun in this God given
place packed full of all praying and hymning.

-Paul Brookes

PROFILE : Samantha Terrell, Metaphysical Poet, includes video and interview

keeping afloat by samantha terrell

Keeping Afloat” is the new chapbook from internationally published poet, Samantha Terrell. Samantha provides the reader an opportunity to explore the depths of self-awareness, gain social insights, and emerge with renewed purpose and buoyancy. Inspirational! Samantha’s book is available internationally from Amazon.com.

Samantha Terrell

author of Vision, and Other Things We Hide From (Potter’s Grove Press), is an internationally published American poet whose work emphasizes self-awareness as a means to social awareness. Her poetry can be found in publications such as: Anti-Heroin Chic, Dissident Voice, Fevers of the Mind, In Parentheses, Misfit Magazine, Red Weather, Sledgehammer, and many others and has been featured on radio shows and podcasts from Wyoming to Glasgow, and beyond. She writes from her home in upstate New York, where she and her family enjoy kayaking on still waters.
Find her online at: SamanthaTerrell.com.

The Interview

1. How did you decide on the order of the poems in your book?

I tend to agonize quite a bit over the order of my manuscripts because I want the poems to logically flow from one to another. I’m usually working to form an over-arching story or carry the reader along a journey. It takes a lot of tinkering around until a suitable order emerges.

2. How important is form in your poetry?

When it comes to form, I don’t have any formal training in the field of poetry/literature (my college education was in the field of Sociology), so I’ve taught myself by reading and research. But I also like to get inventive with form, and I take a lot of creative liberties.

3. How does nature influence your writing?

Oh, nature! I love spending time outside, and like many poets, probably, I find it to be a great source of inspiration for writing.

4. How does nature inspire you?

I turn to nature to find peace and sort through life’s complexities. I incorporate many themes and metaphors from nature in my work. It’s a constant ever-changing source of inspiration.

5. How does writing from a first person perspective help you compose poetry?

Writing in first-person is a natural way to write, because it’s like speaking. However, I’ve heard writing in first-person can sometimes be frowned upon or overdone in poetry. But I often enjoy reading confessional or first-person poetry, so I don’t shy away from writing it myself.

6. In “Ever Upward” you quote from the psalms. How important is your religion to your poetry?

Although my own Judeo-Christian perspective shapes who I am and what I write, I intend to reach a broader audience than those within my own faith background. I’ve been fortunate to be welcomed into the international poetry community, and I appreciate people of various perspectives and backgrounds. I make efforts not to be overbearing or “preachy” in my own work. That being said, on the occasions that I have written explicitly religious pieces, I have attempted to publish them with an appropriate faith-based lit mag such as LogoSophia.

7. What do you wish the reader to take-away from Keeping Afloat once they have read it?

My hopes for a reader of Keeping Afloat are outlined right there in the title – we all need to keep each other afloat in this world! I like to say that my poetry is meant to inspire self-awareness as a means to social awareness. And, in this case, I hope a reader of Keeping Afloat will enjoy each poem – and the chapbook as a whole (along with Jane Cornwell’s beautiful artwork) – to spur them on both as an individual, and in the community of humanity.

Other Works By Samantha

Silhouettes Samantha Terrell

Samantha Terrell

vision, samantha terrell cover

Sibyl Ruth: Eight Poems from Heine’s ‘Buch der Lieder’

The High Window

heinrich heineheine sig

*****

Heinrich Heine (13 December 1797 – 17 February 1856) was a German poet, writer and literary critic. The eldest of four children, he was born into a Jewish family and, during his childhood, was called ‘Harry’ until after his conversion to Lutheranism in 1825. Heine’s father, Samson Heine (1764–1828), was a textile merchant. His mother Peira (known as ‘Betty’), née van Geldern (1771–1859), was the daughter of a physician.

He is best known outside Germany for his early lyric poetry, which was set to music in the form of lieder (art songs) by composers such as Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert. Heine’s later verse and prose are distinguished by their satirical wit and irony. He is considered a member of the Young Germany movement. His radical political views led to many of his works being banned by German authorities — which, however, only added to his fame…

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#folktober Today’s day theme is “Dorset Ooser”, an old mask with horns no one knows it’s use. Broadening the theme, I will feature any poetry/short prose/artwork about masks. Please include a short third person bio.

folktober – Dorset Ooser

Dorset Ooser

One of only two known photographs of the original Ooser, taken between 1883 and 1891 by J.W. Chaffins and Sons of Yeovil

The masked one

Look at me in the street and you will see a man as ordinary as can be. You see nobody, nothing of any consequence, no reason to trouble yourself about me. Day and night are such strange characters. It’s not just the absence of light, you know. Though it helps, of course.

Glance upon my countenance tonight and you shall see a god who you will worship if you look at him at all. I guarantee you will not look too closely. You fear that I can see into your soul, strike you dead, or dumb and blind. To cast your eyes upon me is by invitation only. Deities choose whom they are seen by. You will know that is not you.

Yet today, did you think twice before you pushed past the middle aged man, dressed in a conservative fashion. Dressed in costume by day. As he changes into another by night.

Which is the mask you ask yourself, and which is not? And well you may.

Oh come, simpleton! You don’t expect me to answer your question, do you?

-©Ailsa Cawley 2021

By way of introduction, one of Odin’s many by-names is Grímnir (the masked one, the hooded one), another is Grímr (mask). As such, he questions the giants, the etins, the Jötnar , interrogating the great unknowables, in quizzing contests for which the wager is the other’s head. An example of this would be Grímnismál.

Grim

Fire on my sword-hand, fire on my shield,
The cold that runs across my mind
Is not enough. Iron-nerves can melt.
Daring to be dead already may dull the fear.

Immense, the etin imitates the sky.
Knowledge comes from nothing, knowing void.
Thought waits on motion, memory on both.
Odin is the stillest thing, stays curious.

“By what name is it known, among the nine worlds:
The fear in every heart? First among the Jotun,
If you have wisdom words can carry.
Speak so you are heard. Spit is Kvasir’s blessing.”

“The fire is afraid of falling away.
The ice fears inertia; Etin-kind, understanding.
The Vanir make a villain out of virtuous thought.
While the Aesir have no fear, but annihilation.

“Men fear leaving the middle-way,
Women fear their words of command.
The elves fear the other will be lost.
The dead fear nothing: doom is assured.

“Now I have named it, next is yours:
Speak out, hooded one, what holds your fear?”
“I will tell you when tomorrow comes –
This dread, like you, lying dead at my feet.”

-Math Jones 2020

Dorset Ooser

I’m a mask. Two holes for eyes where there
are no eyes. Inside these small spaces is a
larger place where a brain would be where
thinking would take place and a tongue to say

what comes to mind, instead I’m emptiness.
When you wear me I don’t have your brain,
tongue, but you are different more or less
from when you don’t wear me, you’re not the same.

I have horns and a moveable jaw. When
you speak through me, I don’t speak. I always
say nothing. You have all the words to bend
to thoughts I never have. These word ways

are a mystery to me. How am I
speaking now? I’m only a mask. So why?

-Paul Brookes

Bios And Links

-Ailsa Cawley

has been writing stories, poems and verses since she was a child. 
It’s not always what is considered poetry by some, as she isn’t a lover of sweet, schmaltzy rhymes! 
She is currently writing her first novel. A psychological thriller with a paranormal element, and she hopes to bring out a poetry collection one day! 
She lives on the Isle of Skye. While some of her poetry is written from personal experience, others are written from her slightly dark and twisted  imagination. 

ANNOUNCEMENT: Wombwell Rainbow Book Reviews will be posted every Monday, beginning with Monday 25th October, “When Flora Sings” by Margaret Royall

Wombwell Book Reviews Schedule

When Flora Sings

Monday 25th October “When Flora Sings” by @RoyallMargaret Margaret Royall,

Monday 1st November “Photovoltaic” by @philonotis Sarah Watkinson,

Monday 8th November “In The Taxidermist’s House” by Marion Oxley,

Monday 16th November “Waldeinsamkeit” by @liamporter92 Liam Porter,

Monday 22nd November “Samara” by @grahammort Graham Mort

Monday  29th November “A Window of Passing Light” by @KerryDarbishire Kerry Darbishire,

Monday  6th December “That’s Not A Fishing Boat, It’s a Giraffe: Responses to Austerity” by  @IMcMillan Ian McMillan,

Monday 13th December   “The Water Engine” by  @SeaGoatScreams Ankh Spice,

Monday 20th December “Traumatropic Heart” by @S_sanDarlington Susan Darlington

Monday 27th December “Subruria” by Mark Antony Owen

#folktober Today’s day theme is “Mordiford Dragon” who was found, brought up by a young girl called Maud. Unfortunately, adult it gained a taste for livestock and human flesh. Broadening the theme I will feature any dragon poetry/short prose/artworks. Please include an updated, short, third person bio.

folktober – Mordiford Dragon

Mordiford dragon

Only extant picture of dragon on Mordiford Church

Guess what I saw this morning?

There was a dragon
in the valley, curled
like a white cat:
each scale a pearl;
each breath a cloud
of soft white silk –
’til the whole valley
was a bowl of milk –
as the sun brightens
with the coming day,
such dragons fade.

-Sarah Connor

The Fire of Joy edited by Clive James (Picador Poetry)

Tears in the Fence

This is presented as an anthology of poems, some 84, arranged chronologically, with extensive commentary, seen as suitable for memorising or reading aloud, in that sense a bit like Ted Hughes’By Heartcollection, although the Hughes is neither chronological nor offers comment on the poems. James variously and perhaps surprisingly eloquently gives about four or five paragraphs to each poem. This struck me as very refreshing. The book was indeed put together just after James’ death in 2019, and it is a most unusual effort. But I think we get out of it not just those often perceptive insights but a curious assortment of pickings from English literature from the metaphysics of the Renaissance on.

There are two forces of fascination, then;- the choice of poems, and of course how memorable they are, along with the commentary. James might be seemed to some as an Aussie philistine, and he…

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#folktober Today’s day theme is “sin eater”. A person agrees to eat a meal that spiritually contains the sins of a person who is dying. Broadening the theme I will feature poetry/short prose/artworks about taking on people’s sins. Please include an updated, short, third person bio.

Day 19 – “Sin Eater”

Sin-eater

Picture from https://www.eatsleepliveherefordshire.co.uk/the-history-of-sin-eaters/

Purge

And if it were, as I had prayed,
I’d come away and taken
just a portion of your suffering,

lodged like a barb between my ribs,
or something sly and leathery,
teeth sunk in my neck;

and there had been somehow just
a moment in the storm where
a dove might fly, might call;

and if it had been like that other time,
the demon face in night, laughing
as it thumped into my heart,

taking me instead – I’d drowned it,
like a pig, with tears,
as stories taught to do –

if it had been so, this second time, then
I think the thing that lodged was
only what could find a home. It

was mine as well. Echo thrown
of anguish. I’ve carried it, from you,
from me, and now…

I must prepare a bath. I
shall not drown it this time.
Rather, let it go cleanly into rain.

-Math Jones 2020

The Sin Eater

I am never hungry, unlike so many. Never do I go without humans around me. I am always clothed. 

Yet, I am looked through and receive instructions on where to go, what to eat. I have certainty of the place I will go after I die. 

Unlike you my path takes me to Hell. Repent I hear you call. Except the sins I carry are with me, staining my soul as we speak. I eat and richly, sometimes. It all depends on how much of a confession meal was called for. The food I’ll eat on your behalf so you can get to Heaven. Because I listened to your sins, that nobody knows but me, I will slip into Hell stained forever with your crimes. You will dance in Heaven while I burn. So this sumptuous meal before me could be of a rich man’s table. Some haunch of venison and sweet meats. Rich fruits and wines. The palates of a gentle lady, today. A chunk of bread and bowl of broth tomorrow. It all tastes the same. 

Don’t raise your eyebrows in disbelief. It all tastes of ashes. For I feel myself slipping away day by day. 

Outside of your home, as inside, nobody speaks to me the living, breathing, sin eating ghost. I wander the streets ignored. No one will turn their head in my direction, offer me a smile, or say hello. 

They seem to think I’m both a blessing and a curse. As such their fear of me is palpable. Head’s turn away from me, eyes dart away. They think I can see inside their soul. That my gaze will strike deep into them. I will somehow know their darkest secrets. Some of them have dark things to tell. Some of which I know already. Nobody talks to me, that’s forbidden. But, I listen, I hear everything. I know exactly what people do when they think nobody is watching. 

So, as I wander the streets a living, breathing, cursed ghost I am shunned. Ignored by the people I may have grown up with, had life been different. But life is something not everyone has. Existence is for those of us without choice. 

I wear a band of metal around my neck so everyone knows who I am. I receive messages under cover of darkness. Go to this person who wants you now. Eat their sins so they may make their journey in peace. 

The so called great and good are among the worst sinners. But while there are those like me, condemned and desperate, they will go to their final rest free of their misdeeds. However big. So they believe. I know to say such things is heresy. It’s not as if I live a life of luxury. No husband will ever be mine, no babe will suckle from my breast. 

And still I have harmed none in my poverty. I simply listen, eat and smile. Digesting darkness and debauchery that is fed up with the meal and yet it touches me not. I know what I do is looked upon with disdain. 

Will I need a sin eater, when my time comes? No. Will their sins qualify me for Hell or Heaven. I no longer believe it is the case that listening and eating coats me in guilt. 

But they shall find out when they pass. My voice would not be heard even if I spoke. 

-©Ailsa Cawley 2021

The Sin Eater

As you die I’ll feast on your “Thou shalt nots.”
My fried chips is your Lust for another.
My boiled egg is your Envy of others lot.
Roast beef is your Thieving from your brother.

This lean bacon is your Pride. So proudful.
These baked beans are your endless Gluttony,
Laziness your job, turnip your Slothful.
Salt and pepper Wrath forever angry.

Thankyou to your family and friends pence
and free meal of bread and ale. The rest dream
I dreamt myself with each mouthful. Have sense
shun me now. Your dead Heaven bound serene.

I’ll heft these inside myself. Pale Hunger
my constant friend for a short while longer.

-Paul Brookes

 

Bios And Links

-Math Jones

is London-born, but is now based in Oxford. He has two books published: Sabrina Bridge, a poetry collection, from Black Pear Press (2017), and The Knotsman, a collection of verse, rhyme, prose and poetic monologue, which tell of the life and times of a C17th cunning-man. Much of his verse comes out of mythology and folklore: encounters with the uncanny and unseen. Also, as words written for Pagan ritual or as praise poems for a multitude of goddesses and gods. He is a trained actor and performs his poems widely.

-Ailsa Cawley

has been writing stories, poems and verses since she was a child. 
It’s not always what is considered poetry by some, as she isn’t a lover of sweet, schmaltzy rhymes! 
She is currently writing her first novel. A psychological thriller with a paranormal element, and she hopes to bring out a poetry collection one day! 
She lives on the Isle of Skye. While some of her poetry is written from personal experience, others are written from her slightly dark and twisted  imagination. 

Roger Elkin: Sam Thorley, his Reckonings 

The High Window

elkin pic

Roger Elkin has won over sixty-two Firsts in (inter)national Competitions, the Sylvia Plath Award for Poems about Women, and the Howard Sergeant Memorial Award for Services to Poetry (1987). His twelve collections include Fixing Things (2011), Marking Time (2013), Chance Meetings (2014), Sheer Poetry (2020) and The Leading Question, which was published in 2021 by The High Window Press. (2021). He was also, during the years 1991-2006, the editor of the long-established poetry magazine, Envoi. Commenting on his work, Don Paterson has said: ‘Roger Elkin’s poems burst with sharply observed and well-chosen detail, and are simply very interesting.’

*****

SAM THORLEY, HIS RECKONINGS

A short story-line is recorded by Edmund Burke, in The Annual Register of World Events, A View of the History, Politicks and Literature of the Year, volume 20, page 184:

‘At Chester Lent Assizes, April 1777, one Samuel Thorley, a butcher’s follower and occasional grave-digger…

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