Issue 21 June 2019

The Garden

Editor's Comments

Get out your deckchair, sit in the sun and enjoy reading these poems. Our poets have warmed to this month's theme and I hope you appreciate their gardening endeavours!

Sally Long



Last April we sat in your conservatory
every Thursday, from 2 till 4.
We’d talk of your past,
of the heat.  I’d make us tea.
You were the still point in my restless week.

When your rhubarb came you
insisted I picked it.  You taught
me to pull it, soft, so it yielded,
and watched, from the window,
as I severed the leaves
straight into the compost heap.

The last time I left you, my arms were
full of stalks – you told me to take the lot,
every last one.

And now, the rhubarb I planted in memory of you
is shooting, lurid and strong.
I will pull, cut, roll in sugar,
mix flour, butter, oats,
cook, pour cream,
and eat.

Miranda Day

The Garden
Open Gardens, Crickhowell

a panache of roses
is the type of exuberance I like in a garden

the fat
buds that rupture along the stem in clusters

stealing the light
from the humped ground dwellers (lesser columbine)

who pad out the scene with tiresome gestures of seasonality

my garden
is an extended plot of beautiful intrigue, technical vigour

where the leading man
leads you to the arbour, where anything might happen, beneath the swag

of petals   
the odour of orange-scented blossom, the soft cushion of morning

amongst the sudden red of leaves, the urgent snow falling

that thorns are tragic, flowers comedic
and a garden

is nature
in a costume, thrown onto a stage and told to play herself (only better)

Gareth Writer-Davies

At the Window

Oil painting by Richard Edward Miller
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Encaved in the chill of the museum,
I forget time. Can’t tell the hour
or season in the programmed winter
dusk. Entering this gallery, I catch
light pouring in the open window, 
smell the garden’s invitation
to step outside.

A woman already stands at the sill.
Sheathed in a meadow of silk,
she leans into the breeze,
closes her eyes. I can feel the sun
on her face just as she must feel
the artist’s gaze. She steels
herself to stay with her guests
in the parlor. Like me, she must
wait for spring.

Alarie Tennille 

First Night in the Garden

All that first day
a brilliance danced

greenly on the leaves.
In the warm confusion

of colors on flowers
he didn’t notice

that eventually he had to squint
to go on with his naming.

But when the sun
began to dip over the rim

of what he hadn’t named yet
the horizon, he grew afraid.

Then when he was plunged
into absolute darkness,

he closed his eyes in despair
never dreaming of dawn.

Sarah Brown Weitzman

Composing the Garden

The woman who lived here before us had everything
trained – the espalier apple, the trellised
wild dog-rose.  Ox-eye daisies and lank pampas grass
she pinched into their own plots.  Weeds
were not permitted, and shrubs went shaven-headed. 
She read where her tulips would come.  She
counted them.  Yet, despite her strict upkeep, the grass
grew constantly back – and, as she wearied,
her tidying mood slipped and slipped
until her hands gave a final flutter of helplessness. 
If, since then, our neglect’s let wildness run,
we still wonder what she would make of this plum tree
whose harvest strips the branches down,
or this stop-gap furze gone spiking out of bounds. 
Maybe she’d approve what’s won – thrush, blackbird,
wood pigeons cooing the sun, even the grey
squirrel that visits on autumn evenings and reminds us
of the woman herself, in spirit restored,
sowing sidelong glances among leaves and windfalls. 

Patrick Deeley

Cradle Falls

From Ephesus I travelled east
and in ten days reached Persepolis,
joined ambassadors from many lands
lining up along the blue-glazed steps,
all bearing tribute for the perfumed king
who dined within. He continued to feast
while we lay face down on the marble floor
of the throne room, our different gifts
of gems and silks spilling out in front of us.
Not until we saw the glint of his sceptre
did we dare approach with our tribute.
I saw the gardens he had fashioned
in desert sand-- fig and olive trees, date palms,
mulberry bushes  of many colours, streams
of sunlit water moving up-hill, falling in swathes
from terraces, bathing flowers and shrubs.
By his grace, were made oases of green shade,
and if obeisance is the price of miracles, so be it.
But that jealous Macedonian cur, later
misnamed Great, used his destructive
force, and in a fever of war and hate,
burned the city of wonder to the ground.
Michael G. Casey

Ghiberti’s Eve

The hands of God and His angels raise her
from darkness, the still form of Adam,
the deep, secret pool of that body.
Eve shivers, flickers like forked lightning.
Fingers, long and molten, do not lose
their grip, drawing her into the cool air
of the garden. But where is Paradise,
now that she is left cold and quivering,
touched only by the new sun as Adam sleeps?
The shadow of the serpent undulates
and fruit glows so softly overhead.
Mist clears. The dew of morning vanishes.
She will not be grateful, born of need,
and not for her own quiet good.

Dan MacIsaac

Japanese Tea Garden

So many Buddhas!

I wander through
cherry trees

spilling pale blossoms
into green ponds,

feel your hand
enter mine.

M.S. Rooney

Wales in October

Nothing but wind and sky, the dark mountains 
of Snowdonia, sporadic bursts of rain that gust

across our windshield. In the wild air over
a drop-off next to the road a bird hangs suspended, 

immobilized in the headwind, gray wings 
pulsing like a steady heartbeat. It’s ten a.m.

and we’re adrift in Britain, the day too blustery 
and raw for our planned garden visit, so we follow 

this coastal highway and our well-thumbed guidebook
toward Gwynned’s Penrhyn Castle, expecting

its ponderous gloom will match the skies. And we reach 
the battlements and lofty keep as the sun slices 

through the clouds only for seconds, just long enough 
to set ablaze vines dense with scarlet leaves scaling 

the stone walls, rippling in a gale. Purple and white 
cyclamens tremble in the grass beneath hemlocks 

and sequoias. Come for the shelter, we stay
for the grounds, suspended in awe by the savage wind 

whipping our hair, churning the ashen-plumed grasses, 
the untamed heartbeat of a garden finding us after all.

Carol Grametbauer

The Gate

Too much still in your garden
to shut the gate on, to walk off
with a dull shrug of defeat
through residual light
and all that it has promised.

Never too late for the heart to open
like a gift delayed
or a thornbush blossoming
that you thought was dead
but were painfully mistaken

so stay where you are
with your gate thrown wide
and bend to the task
of preparing new ground
for hope to discover.

John Mole

another rainbow -
in my mother's garden
wisteria in bloom

Goran Gatalica

Blackberry Smoke

Blackberries plump the hedges,
beeches curving across the trail.
A dried milkweed pod caught
in the underbrush shifts shape,
mist closing in.
I heard your voice yesterday so clearly,
I turned around.

Dusk hushes the hills,
thrush hiding in the hedgerows
swallowing her song.
Doves applaud the air.
Nights like this – coffee filmed with chill
while you strummed the guitar, hummed
as the moon echoed its light
into mounting shadows.

KB Ballentine

November Wind

November wind speaks to windows,
to trees as leaves drift by in handfuls,

caressing porch furniture, filling
rocking chairs, sneaking under

pillows. They make a painted carpet
for the yard, then give up to decay.

My rake longs for me to hold it.
The empty wheelbarrow feels

abandoned, wishes to fill and roll.
A season’s change has charted

my jobs since childhood—
planting, weeding, watering, mowing,

harvesting, raking, burning—labor
still a blessing at sixty-six. Sore

hands, back and knees beg for
a hot tub. Little pains whisper

you ain’t dead yet, as our sun
and planet swirl the Milky Way.

World ends when the heart stops,
brain cells ordained to silence

in death’s monastery. Just pour
a glass of wine tonight and sleep,

if you can shush your brain,
let the wind be a mantra, pray

for those who, over time, have no
simple tasks to shape their souls.

Bill Brown

Jerusalem Artichokes

I dig holes fifteen centimetres deep
in well-turned earth, and try to teach my son
the heady scent of well-turned compost heap —
it does not work; he has not long turned one.

He toddles off to dig some other patch
a little close to the asparagus,
meanwhile my daughter laughs, running to catch
our poor old chooks — it seems superfluous

to tell her she should not. The artichokes
wait by the fence; I walk over to them,
say to the air, "These are not artichokes,
nor were they ever from Jerusalem"

I turn, laugh at my daughter as she stands
in well-turned earth, a chicken in her hands.

John Newson

Below the Mountain

A rat scuttles across the garden,
fat and tailless, it heads into the chicken coop,
rolling so much as running.

At church a lady talks of her work in an addiction clinic;
the Reverend speaks of God upon the mountain.

A partridge limps along the fence line, spasms
with each fall of her left leg.

I try to conclude if I am the convulsing boy
at the foot of the mountain or the father
begging for the life of his son;
we are each one or the other.

A blackbird thumps into the window
leaving a greasy wing-print.

There is another hole to be dug;
the climb will have to wait
or God descend.

John Newson


A white Cabbage butterfly
licks around the broccoli stalks
whose crowns are ripe enough to cut.

We've waited all this wet summer
for fresh broccoli. Root rot stunted
tomatoes and egg plant, strangled the beets.

We fertilized and planted and weeded,
hoping for a bounty as bright and full as seed
packet photos on sticks marking each row.

But the calendar has grown unreliable.
We waited until May to put in the tomatoes
and expected June and July sun to plump them.

Then came clouds and rain, the garden
so soggy it was hard to walk between
the rows where algae fuzzied the dirt green.

Even the pests got bogged down. We didn't
dust the plants with diatomaceous earth
because worms hadn't laced the leaves.

The butterfly's white wings flicking
the bulbous green heads raise an alarm.
But it's just one, the first we've seen.

Washing a cut head flushes out
a green worm. The knife uncovers
more. The butterflies were hungry, too.

Eric Chiles

A Nine-month Haze 

My hair was growing back 
when we moved in
on a short-term tenancy.
The bare shrubs outside promised little.

I stood on wet grass in need of a cut
early in the year
and watched the plants move time forward.
Birds sang the truth of it.

It could only be a dream of life after months of fear and nausea,
but half-way down was an apple tree
as solid as an old recipe.
We hung a swing from one of its branches.

Then there was snow in April.
I'd survived for my small son
who pressed his mittens to the ground
and tried to taste white stars that fell among the blossom.

I planted sweet-pea
and love-in-a-mist in the lean-to,
as a wholly-miraculous, shouldn't-have-been-this-easy
seed grew in me.

Butterflies angled their haphazard trajectory
and for them all past seasons didn't exist,
as if there were no such thing as withering and frost
and they flew with the first bees that ever buzzed.

My mind slowed with scent and heat
and the successful sweet-peas hung their twisting blowsy blooms.
I began to dare to believe my life was not knitted
from misfortune.

Kitchen herbs in pots by the back door.
The coriander bolted so I collected the seeds
and with wonder I let the not-full-stops
roll round my palm.

Tree leaves turned gold as proof of change,
the second baby came, the tenancy was up,
I was back in the midst of life
and the spell of the garden was broken.
It's work for a season was done.

Claire Temple

Deus ex Machina

Not dreaming, but the strange simplicity
of that chairlift rising slowly up the hillside
one Mediterranean morning in September,
carrying you – ludicrously like a god –
mere feet above the tiny gardens whose
crops, in bunched and ripe abundance, lay
under both the cloudless sky and gliding
immortal you going by on your way
up the slope to the rocky top from which
bare outcrop, far above those offerings,
you looked down upon the little lives
that tiny island held, and the wee blue sea
that held it, small, beneath a deep blue sky,
and your great blue eye that held it all.

Craig Dobson

"Oh, Mother"

It’s pushing up through the grass.
It’s going to come out, mother,
everything you did.
Our lovely garden will soon be infested with
all those secrets stuffed into shoe boxes,
shoved in the ground, 
covered with dirt so they wouldn’t be found.
I buried them for you under a mid-summer sky.
Sweat dripping down my stomach, my thighs,
knees sinking into the soil,
face red, round and shining.
Behind me sat summer’s fallen prey;
stinking wreaths in a three letter chain,
the petals rotting in filial shame,
begging that I keep mum about days long gone.
But you’re not here now,
no more time to hold my tongue.
I’m going to drag it all out, mother,
and watch it burn in the high noon sun.

George Lacey

The House on the Olonetskaya 
They said, here was the gate….

With closed eyes, I stood with hand stretched out
And opened the gate that was there once
In my aged imagination.
And let it lead me down the old path
As it was before.
Where Grandmother’s garden still bloomed
Although my feet walked over the weeds in the kingdom of the forgotten.
This was the room, what shall become of these corners,
Where the clock stood and the samovar steamed.
I tiptoe here, so as not to wake the years that are resting in peace.
In that dark corner, where the shadow of the piano loomed
Like a mountain of waiting music, for the touch of my young hand.
In that garden, they had taken tea and discussed Lermontov over cards,
The poet had read aloud on an eternal evening.
Coming to you, is like rocking my childhood in a cradle
Peering down upon it, with an adult face.
We could come to stand here like a clump of old birches
At the bank of the river we had loved.
So let us lock the door of the dacha, even though it is now
So fragile that it could come apart at our fingers.

Elizabeth Jane Timms

Blue Slippers
A woman wound in white cloths crouches by a wall.  She makes
no shadow; yellow heat hums.  Beads fastened in her hair smell
of lemon.  Her nails are crimson scimitars slicing the mortar
which crumbles at her touch like burnt paper.  Clearing a space,
miraculous as a tulip, she slides through.  Beads from her hair catch
in the mortar where they will germinate; trees will shade the wall.
The wrapped and lemon-scented woman follows a path lined with black
and crimson tulips winding through woods into fog.  A dog cries;
branches fall onto pillows of fog.  The woman is cold; damp soaks
into her bones, turning them to agate.

It is still and cool in the lemon grove when yellow sand rages from the
west, flinging ashes against the wall.  Women ringed with children,
and scholars with dusty fingers, gather here for tea.  Seated on striped
blankets they drink iced black souchong from agate cups while ragged
dark birds nag like brass bells in the curmudgeonly wind.  A boy
in blue slippers laced with silver bangles chinks up and down the grove,
waving white cloths at the black birds.  They brandish their wings
like scimitars, open and close mouths red and silken as petals. 
Fragments of conversation catch in his hair like blown feathers;
if he gathers enough he will understand the mystery of rest.

I shake sand from my blanket, fold it around me against a gritty fog;
the stripes shimmer like noon on the dunes.  Severed tulip heads litter
the ground.  A bell ringing, ringing its brassy tongue, ringing in time
with my steps, pushes me on.  Mist muffles like the woolen hoods
thrown over the heads of those abducted on their way home from market,
 laden with tea and lemons.  The bell fades, my steps beat
forward, stones slice my soles.  The path is slick, blood on agate. 
Fog-borne sand seeps through ears, eyes, into my skull where it curls
and breaks, falls away, coating walls and ceiling with shards of blue,
silver comets, dawn vibrating over the yellow sand.  On my feet
water falling, tiny bells, the footfalls of lizards come to drink. 
I hear fish finning translucent green water.  The black birds are preening
their wings onto the white cloths.

Charity Everitt

Derek Jarman’s Garden, Dungeness

For Keith Collins

The garden looks much as it did last year –
tussocks and ruffles in a harmony of greens;
circles of erected flint and ground-down brick;
the decaying lapstrake with its peeling paint.

A few eschscholzia, luminously pink, outglow
valerian and the more prolific orange; fennel,
heads already dead, sways by the front door;
horned poppies project their priapic pods.

You pull up weeds, attuned to impermanence –
longshore drift widening the gap between garden
and the sea, giving rogue plants an opportunity
to sneak in from the rougher ground inland;

the comet, once brighter than the stars, curving
from an unruly sun to the infinite beyond;
the tightening constriction of terminal disease;
vision narrowing to blue, and finally to black.

Lapstrake: a clinker-built boat.

‘Unruly sun’ is a reference to John Donne’s The Sun Rising whose words are affixed to a wall of Prospect Cottage, Jarman’s property on Dungeness.

‘Blue’ acknowledges Derek Jarman’s film made in 1993, not long before he died.

Mantz Yorke

bananas in india

a wooden frame holds the picture of a garden,
a painting we will only see for four days;
heat covers the banana tree,
fluorescent leaves in the sunlight,
small green bananas turning to gold

across the wire mesh, a mango tree,
green mangoes the size of a child’s palm,
tears of jade hanging together,
and beside a pretty frangipani,
its yellow sun flowers
sweet with milky vanilla

below our balcony, three goats
step about in the damp earth,
the crunch of green as they eat non-stop;
a small white kid jumps along the fence,
then rests beside its mother

we sip masala tea, eat peanut chikki,
watch our host water her pot plants,
her chillis on show at the front door;
while across the street,
bananas rot in the back of trucks
and broken glass
edges stone garden walls

Lisa Reily


KB Ballentine’s fifth collection, Almost Everything, Almost Nothing, was published in 2017 by Middle Creek Publishing. Published in Crab Orchard Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, among others, her work also appears in anthologies including In Plein Air (2017) and Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace (2017). Learn more at

Bill Brown is the author of eleven poetry collections. New work appears or is forthcoming in Tar River, Atlanta Review, Potomac Review, Worcester Review, Evening Street Review, Louisville Review, Southern Poetry Review, among others. The Cairns, New and Selected Poems is out from 3: A Taos Press.

Sarah Brown Weitzman, a past National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Poetry and Pushcart Prize nominee, is widely published in hundreds of journals and anthologies including New Ohio Review, North American Review, The Bellingham Review, Rattle, Mid-American Review, Poet Lore, Miramar, Spillway and elsewhere.  Her latest chapbook, AMOROTICA, is forthcoming from Darkhouse Press.

Michael G. Casey has published four novels, a book of non-fiction and an award-winning chapbook of short stories. A poetry collection, Broken Circle, which includes several prize-winning poems, is due out in April (Salmon Press). Six of his plays have been performed by the Umbrella Theatre company, one, by invitation, in the Henrik Ibsen Museum, Oslo.

Eric Chiles is an adjunct professor of English and Journalism at a number of colleges in eastern Pennsylvania. His poetry has appeared in Chiron Review, Gravel, Rattle, San Pedro River Review, Snakeskin, Tar River Poetry, Third Wednesday, and elsewhere. His chapbook, Caught in between is available from Desert Willow Press.

Miranda Day studied English at Oxford University and now lives on the edge of Dartmoor. She has worked as a karaoke bar hostess, journalist and English teacher.  Her work has appeared in publications including Acumen, The Frogmore Papers and Mslexia

Patrick Deeley is from Loughrea, County Galway.  Groundswell: New and Selected Poems, is the latest of his six collections with Dedalus Press.  His critically acclaimed, best-selling memoir, The Hurley Maker's Son, published by Transworld, was shortlisted for Non-fiction in the 2016 Irish Book Awards.

Craig Dobson's had poems published in Acumen, Agenda, Antiphon, Butcher’s Dog, Crannóg, Crossways, The Frogmore Papers, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, The London Magazine, Magma, Neon, New Welsh Review, The North, Orbis, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Prole, Skylight 47, Snakeskin, Stand, The Poetry Village, The Rialto,  Under The Radar and Wells Street Journal.

Charity Everitt was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, and has come home after education and other adventures in the Midwest. She is now happily retired following a career in technical writing and engineering software design and development. 

Goran Gatalica was born in Virovitica, Croatia, 1982. He was awarded both physics and chemistry degrees from the University of Zagreb, and proceeded directly to a PhD program after graduation. He has published poetry, haiku, and prose in literary magazines, journals, and anthologies.  He is a member of the Croatian Writers’ Association.

Carol Grametbauer
is the author of two chapbooks: Homeplace, (Main Street Rag, 2018) and Now & Then (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in journals including Appalachian HeritageAppalachian JournalConnecticut River ReviewPine Mountain Sand & Gravel, and The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and in a number of anthologies.

George Lacey is a poet from London currently living and working in Japan. They are a graduate of English and Creative Writing (BA) from Brunel University London. They enjoy writing about queer identity, mental illness, and wrestling. 

Dan MacIsaac writes from Vancouver Island. His poetry has appeared in many journals, including Magma, Agenda, Standand The Interpreter’s House. Brick Books published his collection, Cries from the Ark, in September 2017.

John Mole's most recent collections are Gestures and Counterpoints (Shoestring Press) and A Different Key (New Walk Editions ).Recipient of The Gregory and Cholmondeley Awards, and The Signal Award for his poetry for children, he lives in Hertfordshire and is president of Ver Poets.

John Newson has a wide variety of interests, ranging from architecture to zoology, and a corresponding inability to focus on any single task. He lives in Wiltshire with his wife and two children. John has work published with Anima PoetryAvatar Review, Rotary Dial, The Lyric, The Moth and others.

Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry has been published in several journals, such as Amaryllis, London Grip, Panoplyzine, Magma Poetry and Sentinel Literary Quarterly magazine. You can find out more about Lisa at

M.S. Rooney
lives in Sonoma, California with poet Dan Noreen. Her work appears in journals, including Leaping Clear, Panoply and Sky Island Journal and anthologies, including American Society: What Poets See, edited by David Chorlton and Robert S. Kingand Ice Cream Poems, edited by Patricia Fargnoli. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Claire Temple has had poems published in Fabric and The Delinquent magazines as well as appearing in the anthology Poets In The Afternoon. She has read at various venues, but most often at the Poetry Cafe in London.

Alarie Tennille
 (Kansas City) was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, with a genius older brother destined for NASA, a ghost, and a yard full of cats. She graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. Alarie hopes you’ll visit her at

Elizabeth Jane Timms is a historian, writer, historical consultant and poet, based near London, UK. She is a member of Oxford University Poetry Society. Her poetry has appeared in various literary journals and poetry magazines, including The Oxonian Review, Coldnoon: International Journal of Travelling Cultures, North of Oxford Journal, Nine Muses Poetry and elsewhere. 

Gareth Writer-Davies was shortlisted in the Bridport Prize (2014 and 2017) Erbacce Prize (2014). Commended Prole Laureate Competition (2015) and Prole Laureate (2017)
Commended Welsh Poetry Competition (2015) Highly Commended (2017). His pamphlet Bodies (2015)  Indigo Dreams and the pamphlet Cry Baby (2017) His first collection The Lover's Pinch (Arenig Press) (2018) Hawthornden Fellow (2019).

Mantz Yorke lives in Manchester, England. His poems have appeared in a number of print magazines, anthologies and e-magazines in the UK, Ireland, Israel, Canada, the US, Australia and Hong Kong.