a writer’s heartbreak – Madhumati Chowdhury

1. Outside the Hands Tonight

There was wet light on the park bench, like runny sunshine
It was evening and I didn’t know what to do with my hands that night
They had spent the few days before at your place, wishing to stay there awhile.

Beside you, waiting patiently as you picked at dead skin
explaining how you can’t squeeze lemons without the sting.
Grazing, not quite touching, as I reach for your windows.
Furiously grabbing in upsurges when you read something reminiscent of the winter of past years, spent remiss.
Ash-flicked smoke passed between fingers—middle and index
Thumbs summoning whirlpools on skin without meaning, storms at the heart of it.
My hands were yours and mine till they were ours and then again each-others.

I walked off after a while because it started to rain again
and the leaves reminded me that seasons change.

 

2. Smoke Trails

Every day you wake
a little further from our bed
And I watch you each night
lying on your side
as my ringlets of smoky thoughts
cover the arch of your back
and vanish traceless
unlike the freckles on your back
I stay up all night
counting
and from between my fingers burns up a world
unsaid.

Every day you wake
a little further from our bed
My trapezing tongue holds your musty taste
but the inept artiste that it is
lets the words slip from my mind
and silence sheepishly grins
another day
another day

Every day you wake
a little further away from our bed
This time I sat reading the lines on your face
while you dismissed my quietude
and I let the watery lights
reflected on the window cast
pockmarked shadows on my arms
and waited and waited
for you to walk away
and take my speech with you.

 

3. Worn-out Weariness

The words on my page are smoking
and they trail me towards a different kind of morning
where the bones in my arm shriek at the thought of writing another line from the miserly stories stored in my memories.
I cry
I laugh
Finally, my world has given up
I see no point in the stopping of lines
The ends are not beginnings and I sigh
Clearly, dew off the cold coffee mug is much more secure in its job than I am.
With my hat full of blessing and a heart that is bellowing like a dragon being whipped eight times a day,
I start to see that I make no sense!

Climbing out my window to sit on the ledge
by the door of the neighbouring house
I see two red boots.
Tiny and soft.
They looked cold, without home.
Could you think how lonely shoes look, without feet in them?

My words are smoking on the paper and I’ve not had any time to think
I put down my sleeves and the dimensions-shift and here I have died in a graveyard of bees.
It is the tornado of slipping time, we sit here in its midst.

 

4. Summer’s Discord

The peeling walls ascend to the sky
as far as the eye can see
it becomes the freedom blue
stand up for flight

Whose misery wrote/sang/painted,
sadness into eternity?

Too late in the day
the sun has made our bed warm again
our bodies move pasts
to straddle the cold of night-time windows

its benevolence hinged on leaving
You too were special

Once, under a sky that wasn’t a wall
a tree that wasn’t butchered in a glass
warmer than whispers
sweating like a cold flask

When i float past you
Step back to let the rudeness take recourse

We gathered sand to lock in the hours
Tore down words for each lost breath
the kitchen had a light, at 7 in the evening
You would not be home yet

I am not here, flesh blood and bone
do not cook meat in glass houses

They can look in
measure your cruelty using history
call you names for trying to eat
trying to live

I miss you,
you are gone

Whose misery called/called/called,
skipped the dial-tone so steady,
to the miracles of automation telling,
“Let go, you are ready”

 

Madhumati Chowdhury is a closet writer with a severe disregard for punctuations and traditional forms (ala e.e. cummings). She also enjoys conducting photoshoots of her cat in the sun and listening to hip-hop and jazz.

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The Feathered Girl – Kristin Garth

Detect a dripping down the bed. Diverge
direction of a head extricated
from her death grip while a demonic dirge
of dissonance escapes her lips. Gape straight
into her open mouth, deluged mattress
from some crimson spout. Look about, find out
is you, bloodletting but aware at last
of your aerial view. A ghost? You doubt
for you would see the remains of your
mortality next to her below on
this spattered bed. Out of reach and over
head floating, dripping crimson, tears, a spawn,
fragmented feathers levitate with fright,
is broken, bleeding but tonight takes flight.

 

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of sixteen books of poetry including Pink Plastic House (Maverick Duck Press), Crow Carriage (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), The Meadow (APEP Publications) and Golden Ticket forthcoming from Roaring Junior Press. She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter: (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com

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Mexican Plainsong – Bill Fay

Jesus drives every Taxi,
And His Angels do the laundry.

While pieces of the
True Cross
Hang on rearview mirrors.

Spanish guitar and blasting brass
Are the cities Cathedral Choir.

Every speed bump Is a Hail Mary.
Every horn honk is Gabriel’s Trumpet.

Lime is the Holy Water,
And tortillas His Wafer.

As the Rosary
Counts the days,
To the Sunday Sacred Familia.

While the blind tourist,
Is still hunting
For their Souls.

 

Bill Fay, retired engineer and poet, holds degrees in Fine Arts, Electrical Engineering, and Business Administration. His work has appeared in Creative Colloquy, Puget Sound Poetry, and The Haiku Society of America, among others. He is currently working on his forth-coming book “Tongueless Bell”. Bill resides with his wife, Nancy and their two cats, Tucker and Annie, on Fox Island in Puget Sound near Seattle.

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Grievous Faults – Martina Reisz Newberry

I request ahead of time
that you be patient with me
and forgive me all my sins;
they are ephemeral but persistent.

I’ve been greedy for small things:
a home, a fan base of readers,
the addicting honey of flattery,
the warmth and perfume of Irish Whiskey
in a snifter–its magnificent dumbing down–
chocolate truffles and potato chips–
Oh! to eat them and not get fat, to stay slothful
and slender as a poppy stem.

I confess an obsession with the imperfections
of my own body. I confess that I never
stop dreaming of such thinness that amounts
to nearly-not-there. I confess my envy
of willowy young beautiful women
and, though I have stopped disliking them,
I know my envy is a dark sin frowned upon
by God, Thor, Jupiter, or Zeus.

I have avoided Pride (which is thought to be the sin
that severs the soul from grace) and Wrath, as both
are ill-fitting and carry too many consequences.
But, for the rest, dear reader, I confess all of them
and ask forgiveness from you instead of the gods.

 

Martina Reisz Newberry’s newest collection, BLUES FOR FRENCH ROAST WITH CHICORY is available from Deerbrook Editions.. She is the author of six books. Her work has been widely published in literary magazines and journals in the U.S. and abroad. She lives in her much-beloved city, Los Angeles, with her husband, Brian Newberry, a Media Creative.

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Storm Ciara – Gareth Culshaw

The letterbox snaps against the door
as a pulled Christmas cracker.
Canopies of trees sweep the sky of cloud.
The moon is somewhere hangs above
the storm that makes gates clunk
as milk bottles on a moving float.
We sit in front of the log burner
watch the flames try to escape
the wind that falls down the chimney.
Recycling tubs keep themselves low
bins try to hide in the dark corners.
Telephone wires appear to be skipping
ropes being used in a boxing club.
The birds hide cling to hedgerows
or lower branches of trees.
Earlier today the sky sheared clouds
filled the roads and pavements with white
chalk. An hour later the rain washed it away.
For a time I didn’t think I was going to get home.
Gazed out of work’s windows with sheep eyes.
Wondered if I should ring my mother
to let her know my voice is alive.

 

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Of the Coming Plague – Kevin Higgins

I ask nothing
but that I be allowed go out and get it.
Better death than suffer
the interminable sobbing of newscasters,
the grimaces of sweating experts,
and politicians’ elongated
gobs, which keep moving
in the hope the blame
will be stapled elsewhere.

I’ll tour the town’s mortuaries
and kiss on the mouth all the corpses
that died of it. Before you ask: yes,
there will be tongues
which I’m told will feel
like cold, stiff slugs.

And if that doesn’t finish me,
I’ll start breaking into hospitals,
quarantined night club toilets,
the offices of eminent plastic surgeons
to lick clean the soap dispensers
which, by then, will be all out of soap
but alive with the world’s germs.

For, Death, what do I know of you,
never having died before?
You’ve had a terrible press,
but could be victim
of the smear campaign.

Perhaps you’re the best thing ever.
Like the first gulp of Champagne;
or all the orgasms I’ve ever had,
and a few I never managed.

 

Kevin Higgins is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published five full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening New Furniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), & Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). Kevin was satirist-in-residence with the alternative literature website The Bogman’s Cannon 2015-16. 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016. Song of Songs 2:0 – New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon in Spring 2017. Kevin is a highly experienced workshop facilitator and several of his students have gone on to achieve publication success. He has facilitated poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and taught Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute for the past fifteen years. Kevin is the Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway International Summer School and also teaches on the NUIG BA Creative Writing Connect programme. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, writer and activist Eamonn McCann, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press magazine, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show. The Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most widely read living poet in Ireland”. Kevin’s most recent poetry collection Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital was published by Salmon Poetry in June; one of the poems from which will feature in A Galway Epiphany, the final instalment of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series of novels. His work has been broadcast on RTE Radio, Lyric FM, and BBC Radio 4.

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Influenza Pandemic 1919 – Beth Brooke

A pale rider came over the hill;
her coldness hung in milky breaths
above the warm earth
of our newly ploughed fields.

She moved among us,
tendrils of her hair snaked around us:
hyphae branching through the
promise of the late spring day.

The dogs did not notice.
They gave no warning growls;
instead they lay quiet by the hearth
and dreamed of rabbits.

In the evening, infected
by a heaviness that dragged
our hearts back down to the
darkest days, we retired early,

the crump of artillery,
pulse of gunfire
pounded our memories.
We lay down and our dreams

were full of pictures:
sons choked in seas of mud or
hung on the wires that were all
the earth could grow.

Those who could
chose not to wake again,
preferring their dreams of the
lost children.

We buried the dead.

With the last clod turned,
the crows startled from scavenging,
rose into the air;

a pale rider up on the hill
turned; spurred her horse away.

We wiped the dirt from our hands

and trudged home.

 

The Cabinet Of Heed Issue 35 Contents Link

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Playground Love – E Samples

when you forgot your composition notebook
on the desk in calculus i knew
it was my chance to talk to you and
did you feel how i slid up next to you
with the smooth synth of our collective souls
and did i notice you blush a little
like a sunrise the morning after
the big game
today during a second period lecture
on the means between extremes
all i could do was stare at your golden haloed hair
and think these uptight philosophers never
experienced the enigmatic electricity
of forbidden love; never fantasized about
kissing their unrequited in the rain
while Chris Cornell strums Sunshower
never navigated teen spirit mysticism
or paper labyrinth confessions
doused in Mazzy Star and Alanis
god, if i could just fade into you
no i bet aristotle never stood in the spotlight
center stage and announced his true crush’s name
over the opening chords of Glycerine
aristotle didn’t daydream about pinning a cheap corsage
to the sheer fabric of an angel
or long to lie in bed all day
sheets tangled to the rhythms of Recovering the Satellites
i picture us cruising the strip to the
piggly wiggly parking lot riding waves
of Lisa Loeb, the latest Cranberries,
and that one Goo Goo Dolls song I heard you
humming before choir
i’m nervous it may be too much but
should i describe the imagined
euphoria of your presence next to me
in a dark theater while Claire Danes tells Leonardo DiCaprio
you kiss by the book
how can i tell you
i want you to take off your adidas jacket
and throw it over us like a blanket
as everyone else exits and the credits roll
a song to keep us warm
how do i explain the vision
of you and i sharing knowing glances,
hushed conversation, and a basket of cheese fries
while Dolores O’Riordan sings
we’ll always be this free

 

E. Samples is from Appalachia and currently lives in Southern Indiana, USA. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Black Bough Poetry, fws: a journal of literature & art, Vamp Cat, The Honest Ulsterman, Twist in Time Mag, and The Stillwater Review. She is on twitter @emilysamples

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Inventory – Patrick Chapman

Substances consumed
on Friday, February 7th, 2020.

Air. Via nostrils. Sometimes by mouth.
Constant intake throughout the day.
Dependency likely. May be cut
with toxic elements.

Six mugs of instant coffee, two
of Earl Grey. Lower dose than usual.

Peanuts (80g). KP. Salt and vinegar.

Salmon, baked. Dressed with lemon slice.

Peas: approximately 60. Not
one of them an actual sphere.

Artificial potato. Milkwhite, frozen.
Contents included chemicals listed
on the box. Did not translate.

Sourdough, ham and vintage cheddar.
Two slices of each, arranged in
a sandwich-type scenario with olive-
based spread and posh mayonnaise.

One bar of crushed nuts: cashews
and a crunchy, binding substance.
Wrapper not recyclable
in this territory.

That’s it for food (as of 20:47:23).

Aspirin (500mg). Advised to dissolve one
in water and gargle the mixture, three times
a day. Have taken it once. Pharmacist said
to swallow rather than spit.
What does she know?

Otrivine spray. 0.1%. Xylometazoline
Hydrochloride. Three times a day
for three days. Apply once in each nostril.

Omeprazole Teva. Oral use. Gastro-
resistant capsules, hard. 20mg, twice
daily. How about weight-loss
and exercise, they said. Am
deaf in the ear into which
that one goes.

Serimel 50mg. One tablet daily.
Better at night. Doesn’t half
whack you. Slight overdose.
Waiting for the wooze.

Mojito-filled chocolates. Forgot
about those. Three with the fish.
Sharp and delicious.

Sildenafil. 50mg. Popped one earlier,
hopeful that someone on this boat
would notice and find it of interest.
So far, nothing doing.

This condition
is expected to persist for quite some time.

 

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