by Hugh McMillan
The river is fast after rain
but the sun is hanging out
as if it’s June.
Break open a bottle
of shine while the nymphs
and selkies washed here
waft in pools, stones
glittering in their teeth.
Cast our backpacks
with their breaded fish
and beetroot aside
and dance on the brink:
the peewits will be
amazed at our insouciance.
Spread me your jewels
infuse these grass tips,
warm up this pen,
the summer we write
will be full of poems:
this is what we live for,
this palm of moment,
reaching out to squeeze
like a fruit, holy lemon you.
Hugh McMillan is a Scottish poet. In 2017 he was writer in residence at the Harvard Summer School. He currently curates #plagueopoems, poems filmed from lockdown. https://pestilencepoems.blogspot.com/ In 2020 he was chosen by the Scottish Poetry Library as one of 4 ‘Poetry Champions’ for Scotland. His website is at https://www.hughmcmillanwriter.co.uk/
by Martha Landman
after Tea in the Bedsitter by Harold Gilman, 1916
Too much blue, too much scent trapped
in this room. Give me ocean, give me sky.
Give me Somerset, let me board in Kent.
A blue bus will do or the wings of a butterfly.
Today on the train even the ocean was ink.
But here, in this room, in this melancholy,
we women fade in blue as if a painter
got stuck in cyan. We’re not meant to cry,
we’re not meant to defy. We’ve no way to elope.
Give me a blue horse, save me from eternity.
Take me to Spain, rush along Canal Bridge,
I’ll sleep on the roadside, seek white days,
a blazing sun, crimson and rose, the coolness
of marble floor. Give me what you want,
give me anything but blue.
Martha Landman writes in Adelaide, South Australia where she is a member of the Friendly Street Poets. Her work has appeared online and in anthologies in the US, UK, Australia and South Africa. Her chapbook, Between Us, was published by Ginninderra Press, Adelaide, in 2019.
by Ashley Sapp
You point out the northern parula’s trill
to me as we cut through the water,
birthed in the sunlight: the rising song
with the final sharp note. The yellow warbler
not yet tentative of us. This is the harmony
I will remember when I am gone –
certain, I am, as I watch colors flick through,
a discovery of movement. Speak to me of birds,
and I will commit their voices to memory
because you loved them. We brush hands
as we pass, pathways carved in our fluid wake –
fringed, temporary. Our reflections stir
beneath, broken. Do not grieve. My body is caught
alive, but there are hawk feathers in the water.
Your children will sprout wings from their spines,
a tribute to invincible youth. What we find here
will become home in the oaks. You point to me and
the trill is quiet. The final note, a question.
Ashley Sapp (she/her) resides in Columbia, South Carolina, with her dog, Barkley. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of South Carolina in 2010, and her work has previously appeared in Indie Chick, Variant Lit, Emerge Literary Journal, Common Ground Review, and elsewhere. Ashley has written two poetry collections: Wild Becomes You and Silence Is A Ballad. She can be found on Twitter @ashthesapp and Instagram @ashsappley.
by Jos Glencross
For my brother
Brothers plant trees and names
found as ancient seeds sprout
pimpled bark and stretch-marked thighs.
Make needles burst red berries, of
full bellies and empty wombs.
Growing pains of trees and T
and trees of pains growing.
Wombs empty and bellies full
of berries - red - burst. Needles make
thighs marked, stretch and bark,
pimpled. Sprout seeds:
ancient as found names.
And trees plant brothers.
Jos Glencross is a queer writer, raised on the suburban streets of Meanjin (Brisbane). They love to play with words and believe in embracing mediocrity and flourishing despite it. Jos aspires to adopt several dozen cats throughout her lifetime. You can find them on Instagram @jd.glenx
by Les Wicks
Never raised your voice
there by the river, whispered
It wasn’t politics, couldn’t be love.
When there’s a head like yours
anything outside it is drear & sloth.
Your chords were unpicked by forensic psychiatrists
& the company stopped paying royalties.
I said that happens…
when no one understands, no one buys.
He said I’d have made
a good agent or warder if I only exercised
my innate fuckugliness better.
You were a beautiful man.
Les Wicks has been published across 32 countries in 15 languages. His 14th book of poetry is Belief (Flying Islands, 2019). He can be found at leswicks.tripod.com/lw.htm.
by Clare Roche
She arrives pink and screaming into
a town that sits snug where the earth
meets its end where
alpine ridges sparkle white in summer and
flightless birds screech their outrage at
probable extinction while albatrosses stretch
like long white clouds across iron skies.
I take her wrapped still pink still screaming out into
the southern gales that whip the sea
to egg white foam where
glossy seals surf beside black rubbered teens and
tree sized kelp clings to the shells of hulls
that wash unbidden to shore
while I watch the snow fall like grains of sand
upon the beach and I walk and walk
breathing in her smell, alone with fear and joy.
Clare Roche lives in Inner West Sydney on Wangal and Gadigal land. Her poetry has been published in Dwell Time (UK), Leopardskins and Lime (Berlin), Uppagus (US) and HOOT (US forthcoming). Her creative non-fiction was short-listed for the Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Writing (2020).
by Benjamin Dodds
No one sees
me draw it from
my pocket, hide
it in a hand, raise and place
the secret weight inside my
mouth to tongue its imperfect
sphere. No one knows
I taste whispered grit
and dust from yesterday’s
island all over the lopsided marble
found and freed from white
holiday sand. No one hears
it roll and clack against the backs
of my teeth though I dare them
as I sip unlimited premium
cocktails and bend
cruise talk around it.
No one is here
on the salt-greased
deck when I spit
its glass globe from
my lips to rest between
ridges of hollowed palm
from the steady giant
a day from nearest land
-scrap. No one sees
the parabola that can’t be
ungraphed as it pierces
night time Pacific
as it falls
for how long?
Benjamin Dodds is a Sydney-based poet. His work has appeared in journals, anthologies and newspapers, and been broadcast on ABC RN. He is a poetry reader for Overland. Benjamin is the author of Airplane Baby Banana Blanket (Recent Work Press, 2020) and Regulator (Puncher & Wattmann Poetry, 2014).
by Jane Frank
When I first saw your spaceship far off, heading for home …
Today you are going fishing--
you wear a bucket hat
your practical hands preparing hooks and lures
lines and bait
in feathery courtyard shade
seal dog at your feet
I remember our first meeting
light through blinds striping my face
your reassuring message
transmitted in monochrome
through dark salt waves
You will sit on the old wooden pier today
or on rocks around the point
out of sight
silver haze past the horizon
moving in your eyes
the liquid almost-silence a fuel you inhale
oblivious to time
six months later you lay in a cave of flowers--
ventura purple lisianthus
and sunflowers — the midwives
remarking that you felt no pain
no need to break the calm
early morning hours with crying
You’ll throw the catch back--
the summer whiting or yellow brim—
laugh at the thought of the fish
you caught swimming into a second life
just as you’ve swum
back home to me
pulling to me on calm thermals.
A land of crescents:
dogs and waves and salt-
The wind is loud but it’s quiet inside my head
now the hard words are leaving,
the last ones
rattling like clinkers in a glass jar.
I want to learn
a new language of crossover,
the way these bodies write on the sea,
letting the elements
in balance with the brightly coloured kites
dipping gently in the sky,
of low tide where there is no one to disappoint,
only small reliable waves –
three even rows of them –
the island a washed-up rag
on the horizon,
the crabs dancing near my feet.
Jane Frank’s latest chapbook is WIDE RIVER (Calanthe Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared most recently in Antipodes, Burrow, Other Terrain, Backstory, Takahe, Not Very Quiet, The Bengaluru Review, Meridian (APWT/Drunken Boat, 2020) and Grieve vol 8 (Hunter Writers Centre, 2020). Her unpublished manuscript Wolf Moon was shortlisted for the Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize in 2020 and she was joint winner of the Queensland Poetry Festival Philip Bacon Ekphrasis Award in 2019. Jane teaches in creative writing at Griffith University. Read more of her work at https://www.facebook.com/JaneFrankPoet/ and https://janefrankpoetry.wordpress.com/
by Michael J. Leach and Rachel Rayner
A summer smog clouds
warm air, enshrouding landmarks.
Fog lights brighten streets.
Particles are so dark
they redden the Sun’s precise glare
on cracked concrete paths
walked by breathers of smoke
blown in from the bush,
from the disintegrating
leaves and the combusting bark.
of hot colours roar, feeding
on families and homes
that spark and collapse into
a void, scorched with loss.
Winged seeds rise
from within flaming gum trees
to fly through thick air
and soon land on damp soils
where life grows, greening, skyward.
Michael J. Leach is an emerging poet and academic at Monash University School of Rural Health. Michael’s poems have appeared in Cordite, Rabbit, Meniscus, Haiku Journal, Jalmurra, Plumwood Mountain, and elsewhere, including his chapbook Chronicity (Melbourne Poets Union, 2020). He lives on unceded Dja Dja Wurrung country in Bendigo, Victoria.
Rachel Rayner is a science communicator who has shared a love of science and language with audiences all over the world, presenting science poetry at the South African National Arts Festival and the Australian Science Communicators Conference. Rachel has had her own and co-authored poems published in various online journals.
by Melanie Hobbs
grey houses huddle together in winding loops
scant bottlebrush trees wave feebly in the light breeze
providing no relief from the glare of the February sun
on the too-white pavement.
inside the place a dusty Christmas tree looms over the body.
male. seventies. full head of hair.
his blue checked shirt unbuttoned, no doubt by the ambos
now consoling his wife,
exposing a blood-spattered hairy chest and throat.
no wound though.
most likely some sort of aneurysm.
poison also a possibility.
Melanie Hobbs is a writer of Malaysian-Indian descent. She lives in Perth, Western Australia, with her husband, two-year-old daughter and dog, along with another baby on the way. Melanie worked as a high school English teacher for ten years and is currently a full-time parent.