Silent Forest – by Rachael Ikins

Prelude:
I’ve had the rending grief,
chopped-off hair, bloody scratches.
Nausea, insomnia. Yes.
I have visited that forest.
This one is silent.

1.
Grief is a young woman on her horse. Shadowing me through trees. No matter how fast I snap my head around, I cannot see her.

Yoked to Summer, garden weeds, pests, harvest, I plod through July.
Huzzah each blossom—bud to husk. My heart isn’t in it.
I flinch beneath sun’s
relentless brilliance.

I want Autumn, leaf piles to hush highway’s yawn as it stretches and pops, Monday mornings.
Leave me alone
in the woods
to listen for those muffled hoofbeats.

I want cold and snow, a trail to follow early evenings.
When I can sneak out of the house, into birdless quiet.

Snow, so I can find those footprints,
See her profile, shout some soundless plea. “Go away!”
See

her turn her head.
She says, “I haven’t
forgotten you.”

2.
My kettle screams,
the dogs bark at squirrels.
Rush-hour streams the highway. Grief is a shadow,
a girl, her horse,
following
me.

Copyright Rachael Ikins. 2019. Read more by Rachael here

Rachael Ikins is a powerhouse of creativity as well as Associate Editor at Clare Songbirds Publishing House in Auburn NY https://www.claresongbirdspub.com/shop/featured-authors/rachael-ikins/2018 Ikins is an Independent Book Award winner (poetry), 2013, 2018 CNY Book Award nominee, 2016, 2018 Pushcart nominee

Www.writerraebeth.wordpress.com 

https://m.facebook.com/RachaelIkinsPoetryandBooks/

@poetreeinmoshun on Instagram
@writerraebeth on Tumblr
@nestl493 on Twitter

Somebody – by HLR

Stumbling out of the pub last night we heard the helicopter before we saw it. “Air ambulance,” he said. “Trouble in someone’s home tonight,” I replied.

Then, first thing this morning, the news:
A few doors down from the house where I grew up.
Mass brawl turned into knife fight.
3 men stabbed.
2 in hospital.
1 dead.

The street where I learned to ride a bike,
where I used to play football
with the other neighbourhood kids,
where I used to climb the trees,
where I had my first kiss
is now a crime scene.

Murder inquiry. Police cordons. Forensic tents.
The street that held so many innocent
childhood memories now runs red
with the blood of three young men.

Immediately, panic. “Please God, let it not be somebody I know.” Panic, panic, panic, thinking of the people I know who live around there who would likely be involved in such a thing. There are many names running through my mind, too many. But no confirmed names. So we all keep praying: please please please don’t be someone I know.

Text to my brother: are you alive???

The rumour mill starts up. Gossip. Nosy neighbours. Twatter. Somebody who knows someone who knows someone that was or was not there or was nearby or heard something or spoke to a copper or knows a guy that knows another guy who heard something somewhere from somebody.

Text from my brother: yah just seen the news. way too close to home man

The story changes every 2 minutes. “Foreigners.” “Domestic incident.” “Polish.” “GMG.” “Drug dispute.” “Blacks.” Whole human lives and a world of misery reduced to a word or two. Still we wait for names and pray to a God that clearly isn’t here.

Text from B: Very sad. house has been taped off back garden has blood everywhere waiting for the forensic people to come out let you know if I find out anything

Text from J: Fukin terrible mate. Streets aint safe anywhere anymore. Waitin on names to come out hopefully not anyone we know

Text from M: omg do we know them? jesus this horrendous !!! RIP.

Text from D: Just heard on radio, bloody hell. It wasn’t outside the pub was it? x

Text from S: ive herd 10 diffrent stories! better not be anyone we fukin kno xxx

Text from F: Sad news about our street. What is wrong with the world 😥 Hope you’re keeping well babe, must meet soon, it’s been aaages! ❤

Then, news from a reliable source. “Not from round here.” “No one we know.” “Not one of ours.” Relief. Sick relief. Cruel relief. Shameful relief. Inappropriate relief. Insensitive relief. Somebody died last night but not someone we know. Thank you, God. Shameful relief, but relief nonetheless.

Then, anger. Somebody died last night. What the fuck are we going to do about this? How do we stop this? Where are the police? Where is Sadiq Khan? What on earth are politicians doing about this? When are judges going to start giving hard sentences? When are prisons going to become less like hotels and more like hell? How many more people have to die before something changes? When will this stop?

I fear that knife crime in London
will only cease to be a problem
once everybody has been
stabbed to death.

The heavens have opened over north London.
The rain has come to wash the blood away.
Another day, another slain by a blade.
The forecast for tomorrow: more of the same.

HLR is a 20-something writer of creative non-fiction, mainly short prose and poetry. She writes about challenging subjects such as mental illness, addiction, suicide and grief with an injection of sardonic British droll—a style acquired through years of mental angst and too much time spent in the pub. Perpetually on the verge of either a breakdown or a breakthrough (sometimes both) HLR was born and raised in north London, and is yet to escape. A list of previous publications can be found here.

Find more of HLR’s fabulous and powerful writing here on her webpage and with the writing collective Hijacked Amygdala  here

Shift – A Wise Woman Writes

Churned in chronic cloud

Wafted away

To tenebrous fray

I’m wrecked

Face down

Among ash anointed dirt

Abysmally amassing

Illness

Sadness

Death

So lonely

Don’t tell me

About reasons

Or better places

In this house

Where words are weapons

And welts wail long after

The belts been cinched

This is chaos

And I’m lost

Waiting for a day

When I’ll write pretty things

Now sweet singing is stifled

But for mournful melancholy

Seeping from my chest

Compressed

By weight

Of souls

I’ve collected

Disconnected

Rejected

Infected

Ready

For disintegration

To begin

Go ahead

Shift

See the original here https://wisewoman2016.wordpress.com/2019/04/19/shift/?fbclid=IwAR3i8B0mzf1WuFZo4-lkI471LVTmc6fRW5XQPItZ9PhmoRBgoNXrC02wC1E

The Body by Melita White

 

The body wants to move
wants to reinhabit itself
it wants to play
To bend arc writhe and double with grace and ease
The body lets go
It also gets tired
and stiff and it aches
The body takes up more space than the other bodies do
It is majestic and has presence
Full of symbolism and reference
it represents fundamental truths
cruel ironies and distortions
The body is encumbered
Yet extends beyond boundaries
The body is boundless Continue reading

Neither you and neither me – Candice Daquin

 

Behind closed doors I am a different animal

I eat my food protectively and with great bites

I play dress-up and pretend

I am a typical only child used to a secret life

sometimes it is lonely and sad and often after

socializing I long to rid myself of the feeling of being

filled up with too many people and too many words

the reason I have few lines on my face is

I don’t speak for hours often gallivanting in my head

stories and themes and wonders

whilst outwardly impassive and calm.

When I was younger I loved to

wear fancy dress and make up stories and climb trees

when it became the time to give those things up

I did never find a suitable replacement

if I had my way I would dance and blow up balloons

eat cake and make love and little else

a hedonist with a conscience, one friend said

you care so much and then you wish you did not

people have always remarked upon how

well together I am, with my matching colors and my greese-proof make-up that doesn’t run when I scream

but it is absolutely a mask, clowns buy in bulk

one becoming a little threadbare as I

get out of practice and grow older

my hands resemble a milk maids and the times I have howled

show in the corners of my yawning mouth like apostrophes of regret

in the past I’d just have plaited

ribbons in my hair and worn a torn chemise

all the world would have said; Adorable!

But now, damn it, I want to be liked for who I am

not that miracle of long hair obscuring

layers and layers hiding, the girl beneath

who never did like how she looked

too masculine, too strong jawed, too high forehead

as I age I see the thin-lipped hydra smile of my dad more pronounced

vanity whispers; Botox and Rejuvaderm can solve that

yet I hesitate

something unbrushed and feral in my blood saying

don’t give up being wild and seeking the rheumatic lore

thinking in my mind of all my family, how

like short-lived butterflies they bloomed young and grew old fast

in things of skin and bone

but their spirits were always wild

like they continued to roam

and I love that

it’s the one thing about my legacy I am proud

when it is quiet and I am sorrowful and piteous

I think of my grandmother stomping in her big heavy boots

lines around her mouth from dragging on her fags

taking the dog for his seven mile walk

up into the heath we clambered

her giving me tips on avoiding a receding hairline (well coconut oil didn’t fix that)

whilst I longed to sneak off for a cigarette myself

we’re a nest of night tokers until we become unwell

or if there had been a lover, a little bit of slap and tickle

I was always unrestrained and apt to be naughty

she was exactly the same that I knew

we all possess a fierce loyalty to the idea of love

even if it disappoints

you might say

we’re a cracked family of romantics

ransoming reality for a second bite of cake

I smoke in my dreams

and I kiss you with closed eyes

I don’t want to be 34 or 73

even as we all shrivel and decrease

I long to find that diving pool again and

swim underwater long enough

when I emerge I am neither you

and neither me

 

A soft closing of words – Candice Louisa Daquin

 

When you are younger, everything is a challenge

I will not let them break me / I will fight back / I will survive!

as you get older you see

or you hear

or maybe it’s just a sense

in the air

or a turning of

light

changing

clenching your heart

sorrow wells up

a pool from nowhere

upon which you see

no reflection

only the insubstantial flickering

of someone

trying to survive

skate even

on cracking surface

too thin for the weight of

all those doubts

shadows without names

time piled high

playing broken records

and though you skate fast

and nimbly

there is numbness in your effort

as if you wish to finally be

caught

submerged

ice leaching your hot discontent

with page turned days

and ironed nights

into a drowning

of all the pain captured and glazed

within your center

where no-one looks

because adults are not

children with sticky hands out

being picked up and comforted

they are supposed to be

warriors

haven’t you read the literature?

didn’t you attend therapy for

a number of years where

it was reiterated perpetually

between biscuit breaks and tepid coffee in plastic cups

like a long string of words

thisandthatthisandthat

not meaningful enough

for a necklace

about how we are the masters

of our fate

it is up to us to fight

the temptation to slit our

fucking throats

and watch as the deepest

red bled

on snowy white

surface

a contrast we ache for

in nights howl

just when the fangs of doubt

seethes loudest and

the pain of being truly

alone is not

comforted by

bouquets of self talk and

P.O.S.I.T.I.V.I.T.Y.

looking thin and translucent

in candle light

only reminder of

times broken hearts thought

they could be well and whole

just as plug is pulled

the doll wound down

we sag and droop

remembering the sore rub

of innocence and how

we believed then in futures

unstrung and awaiting

not yet familiar with

sore eyes from so many tears

even as we say

do not cry again you foolish person

oh how I hate the weakness of

someone who weeps even as they

should have known

(you fool! You fool!)

oh how they should have

known

we all

fall

down

only some of us

wish to

pick

ourselves

up

the rest may not and it isn’t

your place to judge us

if we’d rather

tear at our flesh

or hammer the senseless walls

of our former trust

until bruises bloom like

underwater flowers

and knives can cut

some of the pain from

proffered wrists though

water tinged with scarlet

is no welcome

as I stand not wishing to

continue this charade

of being invested in life

or its many fascinations

you see

or you would

if you had ever

meant half or quarter

of the lies tasting so good now

they are settled and dark on my

closed eyes

for when you shut yourself

in a box and the magician taps

one two three

it is then opened and you are

not revealed

for you have

crossed over

maybe where those who cannot

perform magic themselves

must go

to escape the erasure of

each day spent hoping

pain will give up her lament

no she does not

quit so easily then

it is ours to turn the volume

down as we sink

beneath weeds and lily pad

to distant place where before it all

churned a terrible hurt

there was the reprieve of

knowing nothing of life’s scythe

and our simple steps made in earnest

before it was clear

there is no strength in survival

beyond what we endure

it is surely about

the language of loss

and if for some

it takes them

with it

then so

it may

be

the end

with

a soft

closing of

words

don’t forget

to buy

flowers

Euphemism ~ Candice Daquin

My grandmother used to say

If you give it away too easily

People will not value it

If it’s too easy it won’t have worth

And I realize

All the time I thought truth

Could be a beautiful thing

I was just making it easier

To be taken for granted and hurt

But I don’t play games

So if you’d only like me when I put on an act

And play hard to get

Then I’ll probably be alone forever

Because I’m not going to do that

Just so you fall for someone who

Isn’t me

That impressive mirage you conjure

Part from your own want

Part from my tease and need

For acceptance

You don’t know yet

I’ve an entire suitcase of rejections

Dolls with turned faces who declared

You’re a disappointment

I keep them in my attic and try not to talk about how

Their approbation flayed me more skillfully than

A pack of wolves set to hunt

I think there is not much difference

Between murder and neglect

Still

When it’s a balmy moon and we’re listening to the radio

If I hear a song for the girl I was

Before her face was pushed and held down

In her own regret

Your need and my tokenism

Are like wet matches

Able to dry out and catch

Given enough longing

Though it’s nothing more than spectacle

And borrowed words

Reveling in the saturate

Of one unfocused moment

Lapsing in her chair

Red toes, black eyes

Spilt hair, tied back bosom

The angularity of pain

Sift of life straining for

One last memory

Dancing in your arms

As you whisper things we’ll never do and maybe

I believe

Before sunrise

Every damn one of them

They stain my skin

With their heavy pits

As you take me into you and gasp

Underwater music sounds

Like a bird released from its cage

Will linger

Before flying away

And you

Place the empty containers of your words

Perfume bottles for the dreamer

Touch the door with trembling fingers

Wanting to make it last

Knowing it has already fled

And the besting of wings

Join children’s laughter

Playing by busted sprinkler

Water catching sunlight

Reminding you of grief

And her intoxicating print

Heavy in your chest