Bradford Middleton

TONIGHT THE WORDS COME TO SAVE ME

Another night closing in on midnight and

This time around I just got out of work and

Wine and smoke and a blessed day off tomorrow

Mean tonight i can sit back, enjoy this time

And get back to the words

Which i’m convinced have come to save me.

The wine, cheap and always nasty, soothes

Me tonight as i feel the stress of this life

Just falling away leaving me ready to face

Yet another new day when, again, with no

Work and no life tasks to do i can just wake

And get back on the crazy words of this life.

—————————— 

BIOGRAPHY

Bradford Middleton lives in Brighton on England’s south-coast.  He was born in London in the long hot summer of 1971 and began writing poetry aged 35 when he landed in Brighton not knowing anyone and with no money.  He’s recently been battling with a second draft of a new novel he began at the start of 2020 and hopes that someone somewhere will get to read it soon.  Follow him on Facebook @bradfordmiddleton1 if you like.

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Laura Zucca-Scott

Grandpa Raimondo

(from my father’s memories)

My Grandpa Raimondo

always dressed nicely with

a freshly pressed shirt and dress pants

He smelled of mint aftershave and sunshine

He picked me up every Saturday

to go for a walk and I grabbed

my red pedal car ready to go

the moment I heard his booming voice

at the front door talking with my dad

He told me endless stories

as we went down the avenues

the tall oak trees shading us

from the spring sun

We left flowers at the statue

that remembered the many soldiers                                                                                 

who died in the wars,

some long forgotten

My Grandpa said,

When I will be gone

you will remember

not with sadness

but with love and joy

On our way back

I was always tired

From riding so far

He just smiled and

changed his grip on his cane

and with it he pushed me

all the way back home

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John Tussin

Held

The wind picks off and spins the tremulous leaf,

carelessly guided,

decided,

down to the river.

The river rages at the leaf,

the leaf lands in the foam and

 the gurgle

and the sticks

and the other leaves

and damns the damn river up

at last.

It would take death

to unclog it.

The river raged in brilliance,

noise and insanity for

centuries,

and the wind delivered

the garbage of nature’s years;

turned the roar to a yelp,

to a trickle,

to a closed spigot.

It would take death

to unclog it.

The wind is an unloving god,

the leaves obeying dogs,

the river a downed animal

baying in pain,

plotting in vain.

Held. 

The river is still and silent,

rising, receding

on some whim.

The leaf molders

in its crumpled stagnancy.

The wind breathes on,

petulant,

arrogant,

holding the scent of flowers,

the winged insects, the birds,

the surely dying

in midflight.

The river is chilled,

cowed by the wind’s dominance

as winter descends

and it carries the snow

and magnifies the sun

and brings the carnage

of ice, of white,

of nothingness.

Everything is held.

It would take death

to release it.

John Tustin has appeared in many disparate literary journals in the last dozen years and his published poetry can be found at fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry.

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Nancy Scott-McBride

OVER AND OUT

Better than we,

our phones know 

communications between us are down.

We punch in numbers and are

sent straight to voice-mail.

We’re on the road and don’t pick up,

or we’re in the shower and cannot hear.

Machines receive our calls/cries

and record our sad/mad messages.

Our ears/hearts are not in service

at this troubled time,

or have been temporarily

disconnected.

Love In The Time Of Covid

She had gone quickly.

She didn’t suffer.

Well, not for long anyway.

The symptoms gave way to death

in a few short weeks.

She was all he had,

his whole life.

They met when he got back from

Vietnam and they never had kids,

so he’s bereft, to put it mildly.

But how do you comfort him

in today’s world? Whisper words

of condolence through a mask?

Put your arms around him virtually?

It sucks, but there it is.

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Jeanette Cheezum

1950 

She traced the sole of her shoe on cardboard that had supported the back of a legal pad.

This would get her by for a week or longer . . . if it didn’t rain or snow.

Classmates had invited her to sit with them, and her allowance of $1.00 would help her buy lunch and pretend she wasn’t poor.

Good grades earned her movie money once a month. Saturday matinees we’re the best, with cartoons, news, a serial show and the main attraction.

When she graduated everyone was proud . . . no one in the family had accomplished that. Now when she returns home, she peeks in her walk-in closet to make sure no one stole her thirty pairs of shoes.

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John Grey

VIRGINIA ROSE

Nothing is ever quite still.

The red round hips 

of the Virginia rose dangle below

the neck, toothed leaflets

are held in place by thick June heat.

Not even a bee buzzing close

can upset their Queen’s guard staunchness.

But, behind beauty’s wall,

the merest thread of light is grasped, 

cached in carbohydrate molecules

synthesized from CO2 and water,

converted to energy 

to fuel all that goes into 

this very same stillness.

So, kneel down,

put bud to nostrils,

sniff the activity.

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Fabrice Poussin

Made for a King

Tall he raced for the last aisle

glad he had a quest to fulfill

little ones waiting at home

in a car, a van, under

the Golden Gate.

He glowed with the pleasure of the poor

at the back of the steel skeleton

his eyes like a hawk’s on the hunta

soon to dive for the plethora of pleasures

so simple. 

Smiling he handed the wad of 

Monopoly currency onto the rolling mat

she too smiled thinking of the abyss

in the borrowed apron boasting a well-known

logo.

Accomplices in the game of survival

they knew the night would be cold outside

the rain not to stop for another decade

tears to pour again upon their sacred

castle.

But for a moment in a pressing queue

apologies were not needed 

strangers on both sides of misery

they were one melted over the iron border

to tomorrow.  

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James Croal Jackson

Room Filled with Music

the winged violin soaring through air

all petal & leaf & major key this song

will fit somewhere why not with us 

swallow it will fill the body your heart

the pulsating bass in our bedroom

jockeying deep cuts our eardrums

rhythmically rimmed as in whispering

to the other falling asleep is how good

your resounding warmth

James Croal Jackson (he/him) is a Filipino-American poet. He has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and poems in DASH, Capsule Stories, and Ghost City Review. He edits The Mantle Poetry (themantlepoetry.com). Currently, he works in film production in Pittsburgh, PA. (jimjakk.com)

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Nancy Scott-McBride 

A  CHANGE OF HEART

It was late summer.

I was in the yard with some friends,

playing a game kids don’t play anymore.

Mother and G’ma were driving out of town to get

tomatoes for canning, and asked if I wanted to go.

No, I said.

But as the car pulled out of the drive,

grief and anger at being left behind rose up in me,

and I took off after them,

bare feet pounding hot pavement,

hair, tears and snot streaming.

I do want to go, I kept hollering.

When the car finally stopped,

G’ma opened her door and let me crawl in,

saying I’d made a public spectacle of myself.

Mother warned me to never do that again,

then they didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day.

I had ruined their little lark to the country,

ruined their afternoon.

I had ruined the game I’d been playing,

ruined the fun.

I had ruined everything, and no one

would ever like me again.

 

Love In The Time Of Covid

She had gone quickly.

She didn’t suffer.

Well, not for long anyway.

The symptoms gave way to death

in a few short weeks.

She was all he had,

his whole life.

They met when he got back from

Vietnam and they never had kids,

so he’s bereft, to put it mildly.

But how do you comfort him

in today’s world? Whisper words

of condolence through a mask?

Put your arms around him virtually?

It sucks, but there it is.

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Laura Zucca-Scott

Virus

(inspired by an Italian woman’s plea) 

An elderly woman cries,

Her voice a lament,

She just says,

Please, please, love each other

Take care of each other

I love you all

 

This is how she is saying goodbye

to her husband who died alone in a hospital bed

Now she is at home wearing a mask

her words live in my mind

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