Poetry – Issue 6.1

Buffalo Nickels

By Donald Illich

Buffalos lived on nickels because kangaroos
kept jumping off, sloths slid from their faces,
bald eagles tore the metal with claws.
They were content to graze in our pockets
among the valleys’ lint bushes, tissue trees,

mercifully taken out and spent quickly
when we needed more meat for the newspaper.
Once they purchased a whole sandwich
or a bottle of soda pop. Herds stampeded
across cash registers. Pennies trembled,

dollars acknowledged their silver majesty.
In the Depression people asked each other
if they could spare a dime, two beasts
on the loose, clanking against tin cans,
horns helping solve their dilemmas.

President Jefferson shot all of them,
dragged the animals to Monticello on the back,
served them on his dining room table,
declaring their independence gone.
They’re making comebacks in coffee cups.

We gather their bodies in white bowls.
We pour their lives into clicking machines,
determine how much time we’ve wasted
to see them feed George Washington,
lower gigantic heads for Abe Lincoln’s hand.

Small Bird Poem

by Gillian Prew

blossom-breast and a song.

Her fatigue.
A lost note.

She is. She is.

Love and berry-fruits on her tongue.
She rises her wept eye/
__________the sun. The sun.

The Bittern’s Chant

by Helen Kidd

Dip, dip and nib the inky black of shallows’ silt,
stalk and pause, stalk and turn my tall eye
to your silver ripple threads that eel their eddies
through the reeds.
__________________My needle bill takes aim…snap, clack,
grapples you into the thin wind, out from
your spilling world into mine, all air and space
ruffling my russet fishing cloak.
__________________Minnow crowds,
souped and sucked at, glide into my gullet, down
into my downy, damp belly bag.

Oh, all you little fishes, praise ye the Bird;
that you be uplifted, translated, spirited air-
upwards into the great bullrush sky, the sedge-
sibilant heavens.
__________________And step wade, lift, step
wade, plaff the pulpy and palpable glugs and
puddles. Here dusk glimmer’s best, under dark eves
of mist-rising screens.
__________________Full fed then, I steeple
through stems and raise my plainchant, my fine
baritone, my boom, my song bell, my boom, my
throat drum, my boom that paints this night’s
echo chambers. Bellying, my voice bowl darkens.
Bitterly bitterning with lonely woe, my gullet psalms
roll through waterlands, and genuflecting rushes.

Coyote’s Bone

by James Brush

There’s a cracked old deer bone
in a small field by the stream.
It’s been there for years
and every few months or so,
it moves a few feet. Maybe
a season goes by and it’s buried
in the grass and wildflowers, but
when autumn comes again,
the bone resurfaces like driftwood
from an ocean turning brown.
I wonder what coyote picks it up
only to spit it out a few steps later.
After the bleached taste
of years and sun-dried blood
on brittle bone, does he go
to the stream to drink away
the taste or let it linger, a reminder
of all the songs he still can sing?

Invisibility is as natural as it is to be above or below sound*

by Jean Atkin

The morning moon is halved
& silent.
The Dwyfor runs
& will be tides.

An oak leaf,
then a beech leaf
falls, without a sound
that I can catch.

The woods have many paths
that peter out.
What don’t
I see?

As if invisible, a deer
has stepped exactly
through the yew tree roots
before me.

* From R. S. Thomas ‘That, there…’

At ‘Floral World’

by Jenny Donnison

a lone flamingo beside a tainted pool
still but for faint tremors
of her slender leg

head beneath wing
pale coral feathers unreal
sculpted from soft stone

close to
naked to our gaze

she stretches her neck
pinprick eyes unsee us as she preens
at pains to oil each pink quill

blank to where
______________she is

Poet Biographies:

Donald Illich has published in Iowa Review, Passages North, Nimrod, and other journals.  He lives in Maryland.

Born Stirling, Scotland in 1966, Gillian Prew studied Philosophy at the University of Glasgow from 1984 to 1988. Her fifth publication, Three Colours Grief, has just been released by erbacce-press. She has been twice short-listed for the erbacce-prize and twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. You can find her online at http://gprew.wordpress.com/

Helen Kidd: poet, editor, critic, academic, has taught Creative Writing and English for many years, and run projects in hospices and prisons, amongst others. She is co-editor of the Virago Book of Love Poetry, and. her second collection, Blue Weather, won the Cork Manuscript Prize. She still teaches in Finland every spring.

James Brush lives in Austin, TX where he teaches high school English. He’s the author of Birds Nobody Loves, A Place Without a Postcard, and numerous scraps of paper around his house. You can find him at coyotemercury.com. He also edits the online literary journal Gnarled Oak.

Jean Atkin lives in Shropshire. Her first collection Not Lost Since Last Time is published by Oversteps Books. Her recent work has been published in magazines including Under the Radar, Envoi, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The North, Earthlines, The Moth, Dark Mountain, and also commissioned by and performed on Radio 4. She has held residencies and worked on education and community projects in both Scotland and England.  Her poems have won various prizes.  www.jeanatkin.com

Jenny Donnison completed an MA in English Literature and Creative Writing at Sheffield University (2012). Her poems have appeared in Now Then, Route 57, The Sheffield Anthology and elsewhere. She is currently studying for a PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing at Sheffield University.