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.’



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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#folktober Today’s day theme is “Queen of Elfthame” in the folklore belief of Lowland Scotland and Northern England, designates the elfin queen of Faerie, mentioned in Scottish witch trials. The Queen’s husband is “Christsonday”. Broadening the theme I will feature Faerie, not Fairy

Folktober – 17 “Queen of Elfthame”

Katherine Cameron Thomas the Rhymer

From Thomas the Rhymer (retold by Mary MacGregor, 1908), “Under the Eildon tree Thomas met the lady”, illustration by Katherine Cameron

The Queen of Elfthame.

They believe me deluded or evil, yet I know what I saw. Who I saw. Look at them, at all of you who think I made a tale up to walk away from trouble.

Do they think me so stupid as to think that I should live after the words I spoke, and another committed to paper? I am learned in the herbs and you would come to me with your ailments, for your babies arriving, your people departing this would. Book learning, I have no knowledge of. I weigh by eye, measure in pinches and other means.

When you were taught as I was taught, you learn quickly and well. A scholar is not something applied to me, but I’m not a stupid person either.

You, yes you. Why try and pretend you weren’t there? Aye I was the one who came away scarred. Forgetting my learning for a short while. The pain was too great to leave my bed, and yet….

When you have learned at the hand of her, when the gaze has been upon you, that place gets in your very blood. Bleeding a person makes no difference either. She is deeper in me than anything in my lifetime.

I have glanced upon her, vaguely. To look into her eyes can mean your end. How I wish I had done that anyway. Surely it would have been a better end than this?

They keep saying name this one, Alison. Point that one out. Which person told you to do something. Have you met the De’il Alison?

Of course I have you fools. I’ve met him. I’ve danced and made merry. At her behest I learned the herbs to heal. He is not the Grand one you fools are afraid of. It’s a woman I tell you. The Queen of Elfthame is who you should fear. Christsonday is your feared one, yet he has not the power, unless she gives him the right to it.

I Alison, have told you several times and further you torture me. Gasps surpressed when you saw the ribs under my shift, misshapen at her order. A reminder of her power. Yet, still you fear a dancing man. A marionette.


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. 

#folktober Today’s day theme is “Peg Powler” who feasts on the humans she lures into the River Tees. Broadening the theme I will feature your poetry/short prose/artworks about any mythical figures that lure others to their death.

Peg Powler

peg powler

Photo from Wikipedia

The Siren

Some say don’t look at her. But I’ve been here for three nights and she’s done me no harm. Nor will she. Wrong, all of them, I tell you. 

Tomorrow I go back to sea and I won’t be able to see the maiden for a while. I know she can’t come aboard, that’d be bad luck. Wouldn’t it? 

I’m away three weeks. That’s a long while for a body to not see what he’s become used to. 

I was on the shoreline the other night. And there she was. Watching. A light coming from I don’t know where but it’s a reflection of whatever it is she stands on. Except I can’t see what it is. 

Well, I’ll be honest I’m not exactly looking too closely. But it’s got to be a lamp. Like it’s not nothing she floats upon. Even if it looks like it. 

I’m not as afraid as my shipmates, my uncle, father, brothers. If I told them I was seeing a beautiful woman they’d think the devil was in me. Or that a siren was in me. From what they say these sirens are ugly, with octopus tendrils for hair and dead eyes. 

That’s not my maid at all. She’s beautiful. Perfect. Don’t tell my wife, she’ll only say my heads been turned again, by a bit of pretty. I’m doing nowt wrong, am I? Watching. She’s putting herself on show, when nobody’s there. 

At least, I was the only one who seemed to see her after we fished the other week. 

To bed. I sigh, leaving her perfect form and those eyes of amber behind and I hear her calling me to her. I do. As strongly as you would call me from danger. 

The morning dawns rough, but not too rough to sail. Not too rough to feed our families. 

Skies are dark and foreboding. The rest of them living in their old fears. Scared of shadows. Scared of nothing. 

I know as the waves crash that we’ll be fine. I hear it, the singing, and see her eyes as she beckons me towards her. I am so close that I can only go. The last words I hear as I dive towards her are that it’s my fault that we die today. 

I am willing. 

-Aisla Crawley

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. 

Contemporary Dutch Poetry: A Quiet Storm

The High Window



Grand Larcenies, Translations and Imitations of Ten Dutch Poets, edited and translated by P.C. Evans. Carcanet Press. £14.99. ISBN: 978-1800171329

Rinkeldekinkel, an anthology of Dutch Poetry, edited by Rob Schouten. Milkweed Editions. £11.75 (via ISBN: ‎ 978-1571315335

                                     grand larcenies     rinkel

In a Different Light, Fourteen Contemporarary Dutch-language Poets, edited by Rob Schouten and Robert Mnhinnick. Seren. ISBN: 1-854113135

100 Dutch-Language Poems, From the Medieval Period to the Present Day, selected and translated by Paul Vincent and John Irons. £14. Holland Park press. ISBN: 978-1907320491

                                    in a different light      dutch language poems


Although, worldwide, Dutch is the third most widely spoken Germanic language with some twenty million speakers in nearby Holland and Belgium, it is unlikely that most…

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#folktober Today’s day theme is “Cerne Abbas”. A chalk giant. Broadening the theme, I will feature any of your poems/short prose/artworks about giants and/or ancient chalk markings in hills. Please include a short updated third person bio.

Day Fifteen – Cerne Abbas

Cerne abbas giant-2001-cropped

The Ballad of the White Horse of Uffington

On Chalking Day we gather round
Our White Horse on the hill- o.
We’ve brought our hammers and our chalk
Packed in buckets fit to spill-o.

Each seven years we scour our Horse,
We whiten up his shape- o.
His arching neck, his comet-tail,
Legs striding to escape-o.

He breaks the spell that ties him here
Beside the ancient track-o,
Then gallops free across the sky,
The sunrise on his back-o.

To Weland’s Smithy off he flies
To see the metal mage-o,
Where magic’s forged and iron’s wrought
And flames twist in a rage-o.

The Smith will shoe him, light and strong
Then he’ll be on his way-o.
He’ll gallop free across the sky
Till sunset ends the day-o.

We’ve scoured our Horse and made him new
We’ve smashed the chalk and spread -o
We’re tired but happy and we know
He’ll guard us in our beds-o.

He is our Horse upon our hill,
To keep him, our endeavour.
Since ancient times he’s shone for us.
He’ll stay with us forever.

-Ann Cuthbert


The White Horse of Kilburn

Not calved in chalk hillside
like its southern cousins
by which it was inspired,
but sandstone. An illusion,
though not as you’d think.
Motorists on the A1 were not fooled,
nor passengers in trains to Scotland
and the North. It could have stayed
a grey stallion or beige mare,
but instead must be covered
with limestone from the distant Wolds
from where you can see it
on clear days. The work of a local
businessman and a schoolmaster,
did they imagine how hard
it would be to whitewash or paint,
that it would have to be hidden
in wartime, masked from German bombers?

We walk to its head
not to admire it, but rather the view
from the bench at the top of
the steps, strangely not spoilt
by power station chimneys.
In summer we may
pick bilberries along the way.
There are always gliders,
once a display of birds of prey,
and very often people we know.

-Peter J Donnelly

A Cerne Abbas Giant

Once fully clothed, a cape over my left
arm whose hand carried a head by its hair,
a knobbly cudgel in my right I heft.
Soon my carried head and cape is not there.

And someone carves an erect appendage.
First a stubby thing then made to include
my belly button. I reflect this age.
My chalk refreshed regularly. A prude

I can’t be. Once they hid, tried to get rid
of this added bit. Now all is brightened.
I’m cared for, watched over, weathered, In spit
and shine, folk climb me, perhaps enlightened.

I’m what you make of me, you fetch yourself,
and all you’ve been through, your wealth.

-Paul Brookes

Bios And Links

-Ann Cuthbert

writes and performs, usually with the TWP (Tees Women Poets) Collective. Her work has been widely published both online and in print, most recently in The Alchemy Spoon, Dreich anthologies, Amethyst Review and Green Ink Poetry. She was also recently Highly Commended in the 2021 YorkMix Poems for Children competition. Her chapbook Watching a Heron with Davey is published by Black Light Engine Room Press. She tweets @Ann CUTHBERT5.

-Peter J Donnelly

lives in York where he works as a hospital secretary. He has been published in various magazines and anthologies. He recently came second in the Ripon Poetry Festival competition.

Wombwell Rainbow Book Interview: Lost Reflections by David L O’Nan (Part Six)

lost reflections cover David L ONan Image by by HilLesha O’Nan, David’s wife while she was visiting West Virginia. -(he/him) David L O’Nan is a writer/founder of Fevers of the Mind Poetry & Art. He has several self-published books and curator of 5 Anthologies. His work can be found on .   You can see his work on Anti-Heroin Chic, Icefloe Press, Cajun Mutt Press, Royal Rose Mag, Dark Marrow, Ghost City Review, Nymphs Publishing, Spillwords, Punk Noir Mag and more.  And has been a Best of the Net Nominee in 2019. More poems from “Lost Reflections” SPOILING Another heartbeat bandit Dripping in the filth of lies Love doesn’t sprout in the grip of the flowers There are no truths in a blind man’s masquerade You can’t put a bow of bandages over the scars And call everything alright When you can smell the spoiling Save your sobbing for the jailor’s sleeve REDEMPTION STARS A two-faced Ophidian Swirls in for an attack To grab the soul To sip at the poison That blisters in the afterglow Leading a manifestation Of dancing spirits Piercing in our throats Now let the moonlight Evaporate all the decay Take in a deep breath of redemption stars HYPOTHERMIA DRAGNET How? I’m here in a choke of wind There are laughs in the murder We are born to escape With the heat of our blood And the chipping of our frozen bones Stuck here in A mass of tundra Eats at our defective skin We dreamt of London And now this Needles replace my entirety We were handed the chilling grip of death HUG OF MUD You, in particular You, a leaf Lonely stuck to the hug of mud You, inherited the obsession You, like a needle kiss A mouth of wooden breaks and splinters Drink in the poisons And watch words become traps of stars in the sky They beg like the streets for a dedication EXECUTION RACE A carving at my equilibrium Spilling tea leaves that you cannot read Mossy tears collapsing on diaries and coffee cups Roses are just petals, not fully whole The trigger mercy, succumbed to the Whirlwinds that flow through the halls of this rotunda An old man is sitting in sticky toxic Absinthe fumes His clothing is pungent, and his hair quite messy He forgot that miracles can quickly fade His clear confident mind is now an optic severance He dreams like ghosts, fun house mirror faces Caught up too early in life with the local sharks That chewed on his strings for money, gold prizes That chewed away his knowledge, his flame brain Now they swallow his dignity They’ve eaten away at his complete being They are the last of the execution race OBJECT I Am not your object From your goldmine to roadkill All I needed is to drink A purity, a breath A vision, a touch Undressed from the evils that shake within My chills, goosebumps Where is my ocean to Heaven? Unlock me from this den of animals 40 STRAIGHT DAYS Lingering as an idler Dreams in artwork Cold mountaintop disguises A fool in the pale Sunless day silence Watching ceilings swirl in paisley The electrical air sticks to my tongue 40 straight days as a train wreck My tears scream, The poison doesn’t BRAVERY AND THE GRIP Regress, little flower Not picked during the beauty Watched you fade to distortion Can you fight the distress? Constantly battling bravery Even these sidewalks freckle To the burn of the sun Your petals of crisp and pale rotating In the wind, it takes ATROPHY Silence In antiquated minds Only a buzzing Grown from the ripe to the mold Still swinging from that broken branch Losing my grip Muscles to atrophy A fantasy lies in the fall Life in the well Seeing portals Angels and savages Apocalyptic folly WASHED IN Washed in, a push Breathing in and out A cacophony of ills A bleeding of truth A once solid foundation When crumbling secrets Descent of beauty Across a valley of flowers The pillaging of purity ensues Shatter the moon, your mirror MY GIRL In dark woods, phantom distortions Flash flood bastards leave mirages Took away all the freedoms You, the aggressor You took away the soul You took away the skin I’m only bone Yet, I’m still vengeful and full of daggers for teeth You, will soon be reduced to dust And I will be a cold stare phantom You will be an emotional splinter No longer overbearing me Sir, you should’ve never taken my girl REDBIRDS ON THE BRIDGE I have felt the murder to my skin from The burning coils of the sun Watching the redbirds line up on the folding oxidized bridge I feel the last exhalation of Summer steam Images of our ghosts onto the aqueduct We wait for the comfort of a deluge from a fervent cloud FLIPS TO DEATH I watch the cars Flip like they are rodeo bulls I am seething In a dream state, daring The brain is fueled with static I need to drive My eyes are electric cobwebs Matching my pulsating veins Wake me Before I taste the glass In a kiss of death, disconnect Breathing in flames Metal shards blurring A CRIMSON GRASS Scars through the Sol In the skies she sits An anomalous twitch Bleeding over the grass Clouds grown to stone Leaves you desolate Your dynasty now in ruins All you have is a meadow To breathe your dust upon From a comedy to a broken bullet Such a capricious downfall PUSHING CURRENTS After the first push You blamed the burn of the fires In your vacancy forest of thought The loss of control Between temporary loves and hates After the 2nd push, I learned you are just tidal waves When the storm is trying to form In the gut of the clouds SHELTER To teach an ego that is superficial Is asking for rebellion Love is equal as thoughts are to bullets So, why do you feel a need to hold the hands of redundancy Crept in like an alley cat and took shelter in your conscience Because they are just like you Created by you SLUMBERS In my slumbers I feel them lurking They are not of love They live vicariously in the pain We feel claustrophobia As we rest alone on a cold ground We can’t hide From the death of love Nor can we feel the silence that follows A dancing, lightning bolt rip away the sky MUSEUM While you were dusting off old suits Wartime cologne stale and putrid You laid me in a broken body like I was your prized fossil I was displayed like a museum through a cage WINTER PIPES I’m here as a broken faucet Crackling pipe noises Emits into the rusty surroundings The last days of vivacity The mirror breaks in Wintery reflections A GREAT FIRE The graffiti covered the old home Where our past ghosts still wander In a dream I thought of a great fire The memories to vanish As we thought Let it burn away Keep the fire burning The wars vanquished Quiet, peace and the evil defeated

Wombwell Rainbow Book Interview: “Keeping Afloat” by Samantha Terrell

keeping afloat by samantha terrell

-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:

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.

Wombwell Rainbow Book Interview: Lost Reflections by David L O’Nan (Part Five)

lost reflections cover David L ONan Image by by HilLesha O’Nan, David’s wife while she was visiting West Virginia. -(he/him) David L O’Nan is a writer/founder of Fevers of the Mind Poetry & Art. He has several self-published books and curator of 5 Anthologies. His work can be found on .   You can see his work on Anti-Heroin Chic, Icefloe Press, Cajun Mutt Press, Royal Rose Mag, Dark Marrow, Ghost City Review, Nymphs Publishing, Spillwords, Punk Noir Mag and more.  And has been a Best of the Net Nominee in 2019. Interview Continued: What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?” A: Probably, do the opposite of how I did it. Haha!  Research.  Read more than you may even want to.  Develop your own voice, but you can you still be influenced off others voices.  I was only in college for a couple of months.  So, I would say if you feel to become a well known writer then college credentials at least look fancy when others are reading your work. However, life is the biggest influence in writing.   Workshops can help structurally and develop your imagery. However, once again I’ve never done a workshop. I would say send as much poetry or other writing out to small presses, work your way to bigger presses, don’t fall for scams. Don’t send all your money out to get published.  I made the mistake of self publishing about 15 plus years of work before anyone has heard of who you are.  If I could go back 20 years I would send stuff out sooner, and then work towards getting my own books.  But overall you’re never too Old to be a writer. Just make sure you’re content with your decision.   That is my biggest fight.   Also, we all get rejected (I have RSD) so it hits hard for me, but keep trying, keep sending, ignore the snobs that try And dictate your style.  Adjust when  you feel you need to.  And please, don’t be extreme just to be extreme.  Don’t write if you’re full of hate.   That writing looks best in the flames. More poems from “Lost Reflections”: DIZZY The head is dizzy And so are the flowers Any melting mind is stuck in the lips of the sunlight’s rays I am incomplete until death Robotic like the mechanical planet That we’ve been served until then Purgatory in swirling cartoon hearts & beestings LOVE IN MILDEW My love lain in pagan piles of mildewed clothing Bitten by the venom of a narcotic seclusion Soon we become aware that moths don’t scream The beauty that butterflies mirror She, as shoes and asbestos hair, unnatural grin Cannot mimic Mary, although she does birth miracles BAR STOOL KITES After hours of drinking and talking to Natalie Asking her about her boyfriend’s inadequacies He trips over the bar stools, a rush of berserk enters his blood I could be a kite in flight A virus putting tiny holes in Goliath’s trees My grey eyed clouds melting liquid hot breath, in misty death In my heart trapped chest Burn away now magnified Davids Little ant infestations Will the trunk fall to the Lakes? A Lake of Dead Horses Frozen stables tilted by the Power of Storm EARTHQUAKES ON THE LAST DAY Beginning our first new morning on the day after the old Sun died, We formed ulcers into the ground Around all The crusts and bumps The Earth shook and we tried to run like toes weaved into molasses Holy Ghost Street Lamps begin to bend Into the arms of craters LEFT TO RUIN I was just a messenger in a lifeless cantankerous ocean Laying lonely in a bottle Addressed to no one in particular Then you found me Pretending I was always yours I became your prized shelf décor Sealed with a kiss And left to ruin In rust SEARING LAUGHTER While a violent star spun wild into your tacit heart You cradled together your cold defective ossein bones Asleep was the city to your silent, demure cry for help Film oxidizing skylines Potions drunk by the dark Felicity erased Searing laughter heard in the echoes AS EVERYTHING Just as everything, as humans Born into a path, a clarity, a shine We become oil crusts inside, a used car, as time peels We sour into secrecy, awaiting judgment To be destroyed or salvaged, as everything GOSSIP PILLOWS I built these nefarious clouds to be gossip-driven Chatter pillows Some are quiet, to only report notes Some are loud and abrasive, And often clash with each other over differing opinions Fickle clouds PSYCHICS I used to talk to psychics hiding in their webs I used to fall for foolery, drug store jewelry False promises, women who found laughter in flaws Tricks by the summons, False prophets who promised kindness Not any rights, let you dream of what is to be Only to bring the cutting rain NORFOLK & MISERY Feeling a Eulogy Norfolk, Mid-December Poor and in agony As they thought of Christmas creeping I believe they called it a misery The depressive feel of the amaranth A wound of thoughts Remember all those lights, laughter Sabotaged by the snow Hungry for the Spring By the Chesapeake Bay THE BITE It was the scent that first intrigued Howls across the dark woods soon followed A lame sheep we all have become When the wolves are tip-toeing in for the kill There isn’t any need to be the beast, when we are that easy So, just hide behind a stump Watch as teeth become us in the bite SHATTER CRIES They were willed to fight The stained to the wall Phantom fingerprints 70 year old teardrops Have become tiny dry souls That are now lost in the sight The reminiscence of all the shatter cries And the maniacal laughter, infinite In a clear, we bathe in the light of the Milky Way MAJESTIC RUINS There are apple temptations From tree to tree A battle cry from a bible scene And you start to slither in your seat Whispering confessions of malice To a New Age Priest, a hangover cupid Your dream is love And he dreams silent Until a pin drops Majestic Ruins SUNSET BELLS Be the ringing bell Pendulums striking sepia tin cans Rattling my eardrums Our opulent possessions Scatter across this Earthquake Plunging into dusty sunsets Covers the innocence of our new moon Bells ringing My voice will be singing While scared and shivering A lifeless lonely song THE APPARITION I swam in your arms, hoping your hug was eternal I’m leaping in Your brooks seem refreshing, but fire bounces in your eyeballs The apparition, I am lifeless looking up at the hope of the bridges I’m a miniscule invisible dot, no one knows of me PAPER WING ANGELS Oh, My Lord What can I do with these paper wings? Angels vaporizing in front of me My eyes blind to the burning clouds Dark orange skyline Cannot move Weaved into the sins I am inside an old painting The artist that drank away breath When muscles failed to soar SPECTACLE We watched her descent into a spectacle The bratty pouts and kicks against the waters of a coastal lagoon She believed we were a blemish Inhibiting her Aphrodite ideal What an allusion she became Some act of Adonia Like a valiant triumph We saw the impact As the saline filters to water INTO THE DESERT A 1 A.M. journey Into the desert Coyotes gathering Pushing and clawing away at my protective spirits The night is an endless black hole of anxiety, of deep fear And you really never left your bedroom, your jar A haunting of eyes, laughs My medicine is light MINNESOTA WINTER So, you image yourself a Clydesdale Strong and free Narcosis breakdown in the flattening of a Minnesota Winter Takes you by the skin, and leaves you the dinner of a blizzard Stay away from your dreams of escapes with Dorothy Parker And realize your strength is in the clear TINY SUIT Looking sharp Not a Rat Staring into the sun Entertainer Blind paper crown rejections As the giants smash through the flowers Without a care A liar’s bravado See yourself in that mirror Roll those damn dice No power You are a cigarette butt In a tiny suit Hypocrites that drink sewage as truth

#folktober Today’s day theme is “Blackthorn”, full of magic and healing, dark crone of the woods. Broadening it out, I will feature poetry/short prose/artwork about magical trees and plants.

Day Thirteen -Blackthorn

Closeup_of blackthorn aka sloe aka_prunus_spinosa_sweden

-Close up of Blackthorn aka sloe fruit from Wikipedia


St Euphrasia of the cheerful mind/ carried heavy stones/ from one place to another/to subdue/ temptation/ I lift heavy pots/ plant bulbs up for winter/push in violas as top layer/ Violas/ heart’s delight/ tickle-my-fancy/ come-and-cuddle-me/Cool weather thrivers/ hardy flowers with faces/frost survivors/bounce back/ stay alive/ bloom again/Three-faces-in-a-hood/ the magic number/ eases heart’s heaviness.

-Ann Cuthbert

in a blackthorn winter by kerry darbishire

-Kerry Darbishire

I, Blackthorn

My leaves in autumn yellow, winter fall
leave me a stark twisted black skeleton.
I dwell on woodland edge as thicket wall
hedgerow. Hawthorn, Elder companions.

My barkskin rough, scaly, bright orange flood
under my dark grey surface, thickets dark,
dense, thorny, sapwood light yellow, heartwood
brown. Thorns long and sharp if pricked, turn septic. Mark

musk-scented small, delicate, white flowers
oval petalled cluster into a star
shape early spring. Blossoms, thin, rounder
tooth edged white, with red-tipped threads. Globular

small blue-black or deep purplish, round lip glossed
summer berries ripen after first frost.

-Paul Brookes

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: John Guzowlski

-John Guzlowski’s

poems and personal essays about his parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany appear in his memoir Echoes of Tattered Tongues. He is also the author of the Hank and Marvin mysteries and a columnist for the Dziennik Zwiazkowy, the oldest Polish newspaper in America. His most recent books of poems are Mad Monk Ikkyu and True Confessions.

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

A bunch of different things, over the space of about 35 years.

First was a poem. “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer. I first read it in 3rd grade and fell in love with it. I memorized it and recited it and recited it and recited it. I think that idea of Kilmer saying that nothing he wrote could be as beautiful as really grabbed me. And the way he described the tree with the nest of robins in its hair. All of that lit me up. I could see it and it was so clear and so beautiful and so smart. I spent the next two years writing poems, all of them following Kilmer’s model. I loved that poem.

Then there was the Beat writer Jack Kerouac, who I first read when I was like 18. Kilmer froze me into a particular kind of formed, formal poem. Kerouac freed me with his idea of “spontaneous bop prosody.” Here he was telling me not to think when I wrote, not to rhyme when I wrote, not to follow Kilmer or anybody else when I wrote. He was telling me to just listen to whatever the hell was inside of me and spill it out on the page, spin it out on the page. And I did. I started writing poems and prose poems that began in one place and ended someplace else that I would never ever have been able to predict, all shaped in language that was inventing me at the same time I was inventing it. I was Beat for about 7 years.

The third inspiration? My parents. I was in grad school and one day I was sitting down at a desk grading a paper or writing a paper and I thought about my parents. I had moved away from them about 6 years earlier, left them and all their troubles, all their PTSD. They had both been in concentration camps in Nazi Germany, and I wanted to get away from all that “camp shit,” as my mom called it. And I did get away from it. I never thought about it, never let it bug me, and then one day I was sitting at a desk and I thought about my parents, and I wrote a poem about what had happened to them in the war. And then I wrote another and another another and another. And here I am 40 years later still writing about them and their war, and how all that war has affected me.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

The teacher who introduced me to “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer? I don’t remember but I do remember the poet who was the most profound influence on me and my writing. That was Paul Carroll. He was a Beat poet who taught creative writing at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He really introduced me to poetry – both as something you read and as something you live. He taught me that a poet spends his life writing. It doesn’t matter if he gets published. It just absolutely matters that he writes and writes. He also taught me that all poets were brothers and sisters, a family whose purpose here on earth was holy. As poets, we were here to show people what truth and beauty and wisdom and holiness really were.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

When I discovered poetry, I discovered poets, and I read poetry and loved poetry and poets. The older poets? My brothers and sisters. Whitman and Dickinson, Shakespeare and Wordsworth, TS Eliot and Pound, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath, Milosz and Szymborska. They were family. They were my older brothers and sisters teaching me how to play with words and make them sing.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I’m retired now and have been for 15 years so my routine is pretty much devoted to writing. I sit down at my desk around 10 in the morning after breakfast and exercise, and I write for a couple hours. After lunch, I put in another 3-4 hours. But that’s not all. As a writer, your brain is always turning, putting words here and there. When I’m not sitting at a desk, I’m looking at clouds or thinking about some image or hearing a voice that says something and asks me to take it down. It happens when I’m awake and it happens when I’m asleep. I’m always hearing things. And here’s the important thing, I always try to write them down because I know that if you let even a minute go by without writing that inspired word down, you will surely forget it.

5. What motivates you to write?

One of the things that has motivated me for the last 40 years is the story of my parents. I write about them all the time. I’ve written 5 books about them. I think it’s important to have their story and the stories of other concentration camp survivors told. But that’s not my only motivation for writing about them. Writing about them keeps them with me. My dad died in 1997, my mom died in 2006. They’ve been gone a long time, but still when I write about them and when I read my poems about them at a reading, they are with me.

That’s a strong motivation. Another thing that motivates me to write is that writing is a pleasure. It’s fun to see where words take me. I write a word down and often I won’t know where it’s going but I let it lead the way. Every word in a line opens me up, shows me something I wasn’t expecting. That’s fun.

6. What is your work ethic?

Three words: Always be writing.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

They are in every line, every stanza. I can show you a recent poem of mine like “Why Do We Age,” and I can point to a line that was inspired by Whitman and a word that came to me because somewhere there’s a similar word in Dickinson.

And more importantly perhaps, they are in the way I see the world, see other people, see the troubles that face us and the solutions to those troubles. These writers I’ve mentioned taught me how to look at the world with curiosity and hope.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

I don’t think we have enough time for me to tell you all the poets that are writing today that I admire. There are hundreds.

Why so many? I think part of it is the internet and social media. There’s a world of writers around me and they are writing every day and I’m seeing them every day and loving what they say.

I remember back in the early 1980s. I was the editor of a poetry journal called Karamu. I had magazine exchanges with a number of other poetry journals. I would send Karamu to the editors of those journals, and every couple of days I would get a journal back. I would read the poems in the journal, and then when I was finished another journal would show up in my mailbox and I would read that.

There was a steady stream of poems coming in for me to read.

That stream has become a flood. I read dozen and dozens of poems every day now in online journals. Terrific poems. Outstanding poems.

I really think we are in probably the greatest period of poetry in the history of this country. So many great poets, writing and publishing and sharing their work online.

9. Why do you write?

It’s fun. It’s inspiring. It’s important. It’s loving.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

I wrote a poem about a dozen years ago answering that very question. I had been invited to speak to Mary Ann Miller’s creative writing class at Western Kentucky University. Here’s a poem I wrote to that class:

Advice to Mary Ellen Miller’s Poetry Writing Class

First, listen carefully to the advice of older poets, like me.
Some of what they say will be the most important thing
you’ll hear about poetry. Some of what they say
will be useless. How can you tell the difference?
You can’t right now, but you will in five or ten years.

Second, find someone who believes in your poetry,
a wife, a lover, a friend, and believe what they say
about your poetry, the good and the bad both,
and keep writing, writing all the time, writing emails,
letters, notes on the backs of books, term papers
about Dostoevsky and the rise of realism, write jokes
about mules that speak only French and teachers
that wear red ties and white wide-brimmed hats,
and writing like this, you’ll find you’re writing poems,
all the time, every day, everywhere you’re writing poems.

Third, write a poem every day, and if you can’t write one
everyday write one every other day, and if you can’t do that
write one every third day, and if you can’t do that
write one when the muse hits you – when two words
explode in your head, appear from out of nowhere.
Whatever you’re doing when that explosion hits,
stop, and write down the sound of that explosion
because if you wait ‘til later it’s lost–absolutely.

Fourth, find a muse. I’m not kidding. Mine is a mother
of two who died in the snow outside of Stalingrad,
shot in the forehead by a German foot soldier
from a little town in Bavaria. She comes to me
when I’m busy grading papers or talking with friends
and she begs me to remember her children, all the children.

What will this muse do for you? Ask her, she’ll tell you.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I have too many.

In the last 3 years, I’ve published 2 more books of poems and 3 novels.

The two books of poems True Confessions: 1965 to Now and Mad Monk Ikkyu. The former is a series of autobiographical poems about my life from 1965 when I was a 17 year old Beat/hippie to my life now when I’m a 70 year old guy writing about what old guys write about: Aging, family, dying, the summers that seem to end too soon, the beautiful trees that are never as beautiful as the poems we write about them.

The Ikkyu book is about a real-life Buddhist monk in 16th century Japan. He was known as the mad monk. He was a Buddhist with a wicked sense of humor. This book deals with a journey I imagine him taking from the ocean to a temple in the mountains. What I like about Ikkyu is that he’s silly sometimes and smart sometimes and the world can’t seem to decide which is which.

I’m also working on a series of noir mystery novels featuring two Chicago detectives who are working my old neighborhood in Chicago. The first three books have been published and received terrific reviews in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Right now I’m working on the fifth novel in the series. What I like about the books is that they allow me the chance to take what I’ve learned about poetry and apply it to fiction. One of the reviewers in fact mentioned that what he liked about these mysteries is the “lyrical anxiety” my writing expresses. That made me happy.

Other projects? Don’t ask. I’ve got a million of them!