Lost and Found
About six months ago I was re-reading one of my favourite poems - Elizabeth Bishop's 'One Art'. Every time I read this poem I find something new that I hadn't noticed before. That is one of the marks of a great poem. I wondered how other poets would treat the subject of 'lost' and it's antonym 'found' hence the theme for this issue. I hope you enjoy this submission from the hundreds that were submitted.
Years have passed since you left,
Yet here I am,
Once again blessed
With the rise of the snowdrops.
They appear overnight
Silently offering beauty, peace, tranquillity,
A white blanket covering the land-
A sea of delicate bright petals.
The weight lifts off my shoulders,
Replaced with a sense of familiarity
A distant voice whistles around me
‘Look at the Snowdrops’.
Love Song III
I never understood
how that line from the Song of Solomon --
his left hand is under my head,
and his right hand doth embrace me --
could actually work logistically
until last night,
when somehow we fit together
better than we had before.
I think I fell asleep
as your right hand traced its line
again and again around the back of my skull,
around my jaw’s left side,
and the feeling of it was like cascading light,
like thousands of white stars falling.
I’d like to believe it means something,
the pale blue egg I found on the sidewalk
wreathed with brown speckles circling
the widest end. I dreamed up meanings
for such a smallness. Miracle, a breakthrough,
a letting go. But finding it, here, misplaced,
from a weave of twig and leaf, seems an odd
misfortune, bringing to mind unborn truths.
A secret drawer in my grandfather’s desk
that I dared not open, but did. And the glass eye
at the vintage store wedged in its leather case
that I had no need for but placed in my pocket,
the weight of it growing over the years
out of proportion to its meager size.
I stoop to inspect the untouched egg.
A life curls within the delicate shell, dreaming
the colors of fire like Salvador Dali as he turned
in the womb gathering memories of orange, red
and blue. Oval lingers, like that, like a mystery,
that gives shape to the shape of my mouth: O.
There is an ache of August
There is an ache of August,
That lies inside the sun creased
Pages of a book, I left on the lawn,
It seeps between the tiles of
The outdoor swimming pool.
And before I have the
Chance to escape,
It finds me- Sitting.
Hands outstretched, watching
The last days of summer
Drip through my fingers,
For I cannot hold them.
It finds me lying in the waves,
Overly aware that I am made
Of water- Not knowing where
I end and where the ocean begins.
For the taste of my sorrow
Is the same as the salt
That flows through my hair.
It finds me burying the body
In sunbaked leaves, leaving
It to decompose- And to be
Washed away by the rain
That seeps into the dirt.
It finds me but I am quiet
About it. I rearrange my
Room without a sound and I
Go for long walks by myself
Without a sound and I get rid
Of clothes too small without a
I let it consume me, but
Confine it to my chest, cage it
Behind my teeth. Holding still
And silent- Waiting for this
Feeling to pass.
Think theatre gown and how it
feels on route to ‘Imaging’
where now is who you are
and former selves are
shed along with street clothes.
Read the walls in waiting rooms,
poster after poster of
points on a pain scale,
a gallery of mysteries:
Learn More About Dementia;
Think imagery of
everything we can’t see:
its oracle of ghost clouds.
Think inkblot hippocampus,
moth wing cerebellum
and whatever lies within -
a thinker’s thoughts,
thinking gone astray, like yesterday
somewhere in silver grey.
did not wear her scarlet coat
for it was the first fine day of the year.
The sky was a little tent of blue
dotted with dancing clouds of silver-sails.
She wanted to be a bit wild, so before
the railway station, five and nine ready in pocket,
she strolled along the prom
by the light and laughing sea.
She drank the air, sun, the imagined accolades.
She'd been earnest in her writing -
plot, beats, three-act structure.
It was the definition of fiction, she said,
for the good ended happily and when published,
perhaps even Lady W. would be a fan.
The Worthing ticket office was packed.
Her heart began beating thick and quick.
She checked she had it for the umpteenth time
and boarded the carriage.
At least, she had something sensational
to read on the train
and no little darling had been lost.
From her third class seat, she heard the whistle,
marking her departure.
She was to become important.
On the platform, a porter rushed to the signalman
and watched with gaze the dull amaze.
"It's a baby. Found where?"
Owning The Wave
She shares the wave
holds it, knows the song
they weave through:
the lick of salt on their tongues,
scherzos of moments edging waves
that curl over and over,
a rondo of sharing.
Call it love, this desire to hold,
sealing days in a glide of hours
the tremendous wave held
within a miraculous sweep
dissolving together, melded
into the face of the wave.
Spoons split between sisters,
six in each drawer. Of yours,
one has been lost to a brown sofa,
one left in a field after a picnic,
one taken to school for the Christmas party,
labelled with my name.
The last three we found to stir our sugarless tea,
two of these have gone now,
as if we laid them in your caskets,
though we didn’t, did we?
I feel the final spoon is somewhere,
but where, where?
In the drawer of the front hall
table a jumble of rubber bands
pens receipts pennies paperclips
and old keys, a dozen or more
of them. Keys to padlocks,
keys to bike locks, what looked
like front or back door keys,
but when we tried them, they were
not for our house. Some day they
might be needed, we had thought,
but that day never came, until,
at last, we found their best use—
to open the doors of letting go.
James H. Schneider
The answer has to be in one of these
books on my bookshelf. I probably left it
on the rocks in Corsica, back then
when holiday snaps were kept on Kodak
cameras. I didn’t get the answer
in the sermon I attended Sunday,
although the preacher did get pretty close.
I left the room when it got too real.
The answer I’m looking for is not too real.
I heard the answer is another question.
I’ve heard the end of it, I think,
on the radio... on the radio
it’s mostly adverts, news and people talking
but sometimes in the silence between things,
if you close your eyes, if you hold your breath,
the answer might cut through the static
(and its wings are buzzing, and you buzz too)
but it only ever stays for a short while.
for Julian Stannard
You were there – remember? – the evening Fleur
mislaid her glasses, when something in the walls,
the new carpet tiles, the air-con, something
stifled her voice. A coughing fit,
she couldn't read her poems.
So you stepped in, half apologetically
and, switching the scene to Genoa, you revelled
in the mercato orientale,
relished the Via Antonio Burlando,
your personal ‘via dolorosa’.
You squeezed the words through gritted teeth,
signed us all up to your severed life,
its luxuries and limitations.
You see-sawed, swayed, knees bent,
swilling each syllable on cigarette breath
and gum, tasting its zest on your tongue –
you were revving like the hollow rasp
of a red Lambretta,
Fleur’s spectacles still clasped in your hand.
We were very sorry to hear of your tragic loss,
the child who, had he lived, might have shone a light
in this dark world where strangers briefly cross
each other’s paths, thinking only of their own delight.
We were saddened to learn of the untimely death
of your teenage prodigy, buried by the scrum,
awkward, ungainly, running short of breath,
till all his fragile nerves and wits grew numb.
We remember that bold young man of twenty-seven
ready to make his mark among his peers
as scholar and idealist: now only bright heaven
knows how he might have lived his golden years.
And in this time of mourning you must also grieve
for a lost father and a devoted spouse,
a cousin, a benevolent uncle; and then leave
space in your heart for the rest of your noble house.
Now in these sad days of your ageing you recall
the scions of your distant and sacred kin,
wondering how many more still remain to fall
as time insists you must shed another skin.
For each of these dead was just a previous you,
killed by the fear of confronting the unseen:
each photograph, each letter is a clue
to what you were and what you might have been.
But these are not family. It is those who merit
your kindness and your capacity for giving,
the many you saved and cared for, who will inherit
your love, your joy in the simple act of living.
Trimming the Wistaria
If I hadn’t spent time
trimming the wistaria
that February morning,
I wouldn’t have swept up
the withered whips,
nor would I have spotted
the silvery gleam
next to the green bin
and brought you joy –
the earring, one of a pair
gave you for Christmas
and which you feared
you’d never see again.
And to Adam he said...
"Cursed be the ground because of you"
How different everything must look.
How wonderful the taste of each new food.
The smell and color of each flower.
How exotic and mysterious each sunset,
How joyful each dawn.
Deucalion, how I wish I were you.
To have the luxury of making proud children.
The freedom of firsts without entanglements.
You have the world,
While I have lost everything.
Sassafras Cinnamon Honey Tea
Her hands are gnarled with arthritis
and slightly tremble at times.
Placing the roots in the boiling water,
she adds a cinnamon stick.
“The aroma is almost as good as the tea.”
She is making the tea especially for me
because this is how she shows her love.
Removing the boiling liquid from the stove,
she uses a coffee filter to strain
the deep dark liquid into the pitcher.
Immediately she adds three honey stick dollops.
An almost smile turns the edges of her mouth.
This is my departed mother’s mother.
She does not hug or kiss.
Farm life has worn her down.
The tea is the best she has to offer.
For me, it is more than enough.
R. Gerry Fabian
Beyond the final stanza
Who will read our books when we are dead?
We’ve worked for years to get them off the shelf,
ridiculously grateful when they're bought and read
by anybody other than ourself.
A poet friend fell ill and though he was no older
than I am, lost his fight and, sadly, died this week.
He published widely, kept a competition folder
and recently enjoyed a winning streak.
This news was sad, but left me wondering why
I was taken by surprise to lose a friend
when it's so obvious that even poets die.
If only I could contact him, I'd send
a carefully crafted message to imply
that his best poetry might well survive his end.
Vetch in the Spring
Love comes back like vetch in the Spring
You knew it was there, but it’s still a surprise
The flower is lovely, but wildly unwise.
Love comes back like vetch in the Spring
You keep pulling it out but you’re never free
You think it’s gone, but it won’t ever be.
It just comes back like vetch in the Spring
Love’s just a thing.
Those famous bards of yesterday
In modern mags would have no say;
Their famous quotes would hold no sway
Especially if they dare gainsay
The modern esoteric.
Rise up, ye bards, and once more strew
The rhymes and rhythms that we knew
Dismiss the free and prosy stew
That litters mags and journals too
With puffery hysteric.
We had the last remnants
Of the old religion to
Pick through – scraps
Of bone and gristle;
The meat is still hidden to
Most, I fear they shall
Never taste it, or recognise
That nourishment can still
Come, suckling on the
Hard hopes abandoned
With the last meal.
The Good Man
Anniversaries were the hardest;1 his birthday, Valentine’s Day, but the worst was Christmas, he loved Christmas; made puddings, salted hams, ordered elaborate centrepieces for the table. The first year his children each took a tradition2 to carry on; one made the cake, smothered it in frosted peaks, another the puddings with enough brandy in the brandy butter to blow your head off just as he liked it, another ordered meat, learnt how to fillet salmon3 and they all decorated the tree. On the day, they sang Fairy Tale of New York at the tops of their voices, toasted him with Guinness and whisky and tried to forget that he’d left them provided with everything – except himself.
1 a calendar of enemies;
waiting in ambush
2 cradling small fires
3 carefully attempting to remove
the bones from their throats
Simon Alderwick's poetry has appeared in Magma, Ink Sweat & Tears, Frogmore Papers, Berlin Lit, Anthropocene, Dreich, and elsewhere. His debut pamphlet ways to say we're not alone is forthcoming with Broken Sleep Books in February 2024.
Stephen Boyce is the author of three poetry collections, Desire Lines (Arrowhead 2010), The Sisyphus Dog (Worple 2014) and The Blue Tree (Indigo Dreams 2019). He is co-founder of Winchester Poetry Festival and lives in north Dorset. stephenboycepoetry.com
Esther Brazil is an American-born poet and Anglican priest, and has lived in the UK for nearly two decades. She is the overall winner of the 2020 Cuddesdon Creative Writing Competition, and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2020 and 2022 and longlisted for the Fish Prize in 2021.
Janet Dean was Highly Commended in the Bridport Prize 2022, and won second prize in the Yeovil Poetry Competition 2021. She was commended in the Poetry Society Stanza Competition, and her poem Callin’ is featured in the Northern Poetry Library’s Poem of the North. She is widely published in anthologies and magazines in print and online.
R. Gerry Fabian is a published poet and novelist. He has published four books of his published poems, Parallels, Coming Out Of The Atlantic, Electronic Forecasts and Wildflower Women as well as his poetry baseball book, Ball On The Mound.
Sandra Fees has been published in The Comstock Review, Moon City Review, The Shore, Nimrod, and Crab Creek Review, among others. Author of two chapbooks, The Temporary Vase of Hands and Moving, Being Moved, she lives in southeastern Pennsylvania and is a past poet laureate of Berks County.
Jeff Gallagher’s poems feature in Rialto, Acumen, The High Window and The Journal among others. He has had numerous plays published and performed nationwide. He was the winner of the Carr Webber Prize 2021. For many years he taught English and Latin. He also appeared (briefly) in an Oscar-winning movie.
Katherine Gallagher is an Australian North London poet living here for many years. Her most recent collections are Acres of Light (Arc Publications, 2016) and Carnival Edge: New & Selected Poems, 2010) also published by Arc.
Robin Helweg-Larsen, Anglo-Danish by birth but raised in the Bahamas, has been published in the Alabama Literary Review, Allegro, Ambit, Amsterdam Quarterly and other international journals. The Series Editor for Sampson Low's 'Potcake Chapbooks - Form in Formless Times', he blogs at http://formalverse.com from his hometown of Governor's Harbour
Marc Janssen has been writing poems since around 1980. Some people would say that was a long time but not a dinosaur. Early decrepitude has not slowed him down much; his verse can be found scattered around the world in places like Pinyon, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast and Poetry Salzburg also in his book November Reconsidered. Janssen coordinates the Salem Poetry Project- a weekly reading, the occasionally occurring Salem Poetry Festival, and was a nominee for Oregon Poet Laureate. For more information visit, marcjanssenpoet.com.
Aisha Lama is a recent graduate, and keen poet. Her poems mainly tackle climate and social anxiety, and she loves exploring eco and ekphrastic poetry. She is currently working on her first collection of poems that explore these themes, and has high aspirations for future publication.
Thomas Larner works as an archivist in Bedfordshire. He has been published in the Crank, Littoral and Canon Poetry Magazines, and the online journal Poetry Cove and was highly commended in the Coverstory 2022 Poetry Competition. His favourite poets are R.S. Thomas, Edward Thomas, Christopher Smart, and Lawrence Raab.
Paul McDonald taught at the University of Wolverhampton for twenty five years, where he ran the Creative Writing Programme before taking early retirement in 2019. He is the author of 20 books to date, which includes fiction, poetry and scholarship. His most recent poetry collection is 60 Poems (Greenwich Exchange Press, 2023)
Alwyn Marriage's fifteen books include poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Her latest poetry collections are Pandora's pandemic and Possibly a pomegranate. Formerly philosophy lecturer and CEO of two international literacy and literature agencies, she's Managing Editor of Oversteps Books. She gives readings all over Britain, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. www.marriages.me.uk/alwyn
Bob Nimmo, although living in New Zealand, has had poetry published in magazines throughout UK, Asia and the Caribbean, including the Inclement, Fire,
The California Quarterly, Aspire and the SN Review. He has authored three poetry collections, has a lyrical presence on Twitter, Instagram and has his own blog.
Ilse Pedler's first collection Auscultation was published by Seren in June 2021. She works part time as a veterinary surgeon in Kendal. www.ilsepedler.com
Emily Roys is a 17 year old student in Limerick, Ireland. She has been using poetry to write about her life and her experiences since she was 11. She is previously published in two journals of poetry and prose The Storms and Paper Lanterns as well as multiple online magazines.
James H. Schneider has published poems in various online and print journals, including Verse Wisconsin, Abraxas #49, Third Wednesday, Amsterdam Quarterly, Mobius magazine, and Cafe Review. A poem of his was read on Maine Public Radio’s “Poems from Here” series. He lives in Brunswick, Maine, with his wife.
Jill Vance is a poet and interdisciplinary artist. Her work has appeared in Truth Serum Press, Pure Slush, Dirigible Balloon, Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis, Full House Literary, Forge Zine, The Alchemy Spoon, Celestite Poetry, Overtly Lit and Green Ink Poetry.
Mantz Yorke – a scientist by training – lives in Manchester, England. His poems have been published internationally. His collections ‘Voyager’ and ‘Dark Matters’ are published by Dempsey and Windle.