Issue 18 September 2018

Editor's Comments

Welcome to Issue 18 of Allegro Poetry Magazine which this time is a general issue. There are excellent poems crammed into this edition. I received a large number of high quality submissions this time and had to make some difficult decisions. I hope you enjoy reading the result.

Sally Long



Poems



The Lost War

A storm vexes the beach.
Sand pelts my skin,
rain bullets drop from puddles of sky,

every cloud a possibility of war.
Fresh winds clamour the hills,
the surf rolling into truths.

We vanish softly on foot,
linger in the settling darkness and shiver.
Bereft, the Gods weep.        

The dead are like upended houses
growing out from the sands,
the unknown grey tides.

Dusk drifts into rain
on a yellowed window pane.
Blood-lit,

they open their mouths.

Natalie Crick




Visiting the Dead

When her only son told Ada
a month before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor
that he was getting married,
she’d exclaimed, “Oh, how lovely! Muriel?”

“No, Ruth,” Hermie corrected.
It became a family joke,
lore having it Ada’s face fell harder
than Venetian blinds collapsing.

“I was just surprised,” Ada always
smiled amid the general laughter,
but everybody knew,
sweet-tempered as Ada was,
she and Ruth quarreled like spitting cats,
but then, Ruth quarreled with everybody.

Now at Hermie’s graveside,
three quarters of a century later
on the tenth anniversary of his death,
his daughter Sheila whispers,
“Dad, Grandma Ada was right.
You should have married Muriel.”

Charles Rammelkamp




Red Squirrel

A shiver
in the branches of the copper
beech – bare still, spring’s shimmer
not yet budded – and now you leap, skitter

along
the wall and down
the wooden gatepost, then bound,
ears pert, tail long, across the March-damp ground

to clamber
up the viburnum
on which the peanut feeder
hangs: robins, coal tits and finches scatter.

Crouched
upon a branch,
front paws to mouth, round-haunched,
tail fluffed and crimped across your back, you munch

on peanuts
ferociously, as
I, confined, watch through the glass
of the window. Your obsidian eyes meet my gaze.

Marian Christie 





Horrible misrule and tragicall mischief*

For one so faithful she
cannot believe a miracle
would send me home.

Some jealousy, some
hateful worm crawling up
her neck; she knew my babies

never lasted longer than a day,
so when her darling son
caught fever, she said it was my

doing. She fashioned a poppet,
she signed the dark man’s book.
Women scrabbling to earn a coin

or two from witch hunts, waiting
for spirits to show their faces,
whipping up a spite-froth

in the marshes of stale
disapproval. But when her
charges unstuck, slid from me,

it wasn’t disappointment I felt
at my back on the walk home.
It wasn’t the sting of anger.

It was a trembling.

*Title is from an astrological forecast for Britain, 1645 (during the English Civil War, and - most importantly for this poem - the height of the Matthew Hopkins witch hunts).

Kate Garrett





a poppy
shaken off elsewhere in the worl​d​
has blossomed
by my door step –

I know, you aren’t here to stay

Lavana Kray





Premature

It was way before his time,
fifteen weeks, to be exact,
but who can tell anyone
when to start?

Impatient imp
tried to kick his way out,
so much strength
for someone so small.

Life is always a gift,
but before its time
it’s a worry.

Undeveloped
lungs too weak
to breathe
or cry.

Here too soon,
no one was prepared,
not even him.

Fists smaller
than a thumbnail,
frail taut arms
slender enough to slip
dad’s wedding band
to his shoulder.

All of a pound
and a half
and twelve
inches long,

but here he is,
ready or not.

Eric Chiles 





Notting Hill Carnival 2017
  
That carnival day
hip hop calypso dub reggae
pounding through crowds
of colour crazy dances, laughter,
the carnal lilt of perfume
spicing the air all
chaotic noisy hedonism.
Into this giddy atmosphere
a different air
gate crashed the party,
requests to wear the colour green
quiet prayers, release of white doves
marked a different mood
a profound disconnect.
3pm that bank holiday Monday
the music stopped, procession paused
60 seconds silence for 80
                                         dead
something
from the ashes something
                                         ragged and inspired.

Julie Mullen 





Reading The New Yorker

Cartoons first, then the poems. 
Then a piece about a man who
went through John Updike’s trash 
every week for years. 
It was unwanted, he reasoned, 
so he collected a bevy of paper 
and cast off drafts, perhaps
thinking that someday it could be significant.
Or at least worth something.
No one stopped him, if you trust his side,
so he imagined he had a blessing
to sift through refuse for a chance 
at a letter or ledger, notes on a photo. 
I heard Updike wrote only
and always with publication in mind,
which might suggest he was inclined
to revise even his garbage,
knowing someone would come.
And who are we to scoff?
Our own waste makes
an archive of the ordinary, a record 
of our shabbiest moments. Enough 
to fill an article or a cartoon, 
even the elegant remnant 
of some rumpled poem.

Mike Bove





Leaving Home

They sneak off with all they can carry. In the early mist
the sun's a bloodstain soaked in cold water,
sparkling the drops on the washing line -
one flick and they're gone, revealing
what loneliness hides - the beauty of the morning,
the hollow cheeks that make-up can't disguise.

Not all horizons shrink to windowsills,
nor do all meanings cling to words like nomads
around a fire, sharing deliberately vague prophecies.
They peel the sad scab of the moon
from the sky, not expecting all that blood.
Disagreements keep them warm, so do songs.

A bottle passed around cures so much bitterness,
awakens memories to flee from at dawn,
leaving promises far behind. They scuff the grey ashes
before going off in all directions. A desert's not as vast
as people think. They follow the same old paths
unless they're looking for a place to die.

Some meet up again over the years, around new fires.
Others return alone, unrecognisable, guiltily pacing up
and down the streets of their childhood,
wondering why only hardware stores and barbers
haven't changed, why the roundabout's a crossroad,
and why everyone they knew has gone.

Tim Love





Finch
No wonder she’s unhappy She wants
back to the nest above the lattice
but I am there in the white painted corner
below the owl and a fringe of catkins
She has a song for I’ll be back and sings
to the eggs she knows are listening
I am explaining myself to the notebook
about patience and long separations
She waits only till the eggs can’t stand it
Allan Peterson






Child with Black Mirror
 “Only where there are graves are there resurrections”   F. Nietzsche

How could a river fail
to find its way back
to the sea? How could it not
return to be reburied? Reborn?
And you do likewise?

The river Meuse murmurs
muttering to no one near.
At least not those who might hear
its swollen sadness, the spirit
of its single-minded
patriarchal contempt.  Rising
it accepts the uncounted
dead, wrapping their silence
with thirstless thanks.
They ride past
careful of sunlight,
mired in landscape.
Conveniently deaf
to its siren call.

Day returns to probe
the dark corners
until it no longer yellows
and green slows, hardens and clots
where the shells have hollowed out 
the dead earth. Black Spring holds back
its sightless blossoms. What trees remain
lean naked, old men without canes.
As if the weight of your stare
could topple them.
All or none.  They wait
and weigh the possibilities.
The river waits to escape
its battlements, to wander free
to die to find its way again
to accept what may fall its way
to exhume the lost nameless ones.

Richard Weaver





A Wit

He made a living out of being clever,
Contradicting others when they spoke,
And he was always quick with some slick joke
On this or that Quixote’s failed endeavor.

Those like him will be with us forever,
Distracting Meisters in their master strokes,
Giving earnest artists playful pokes.
Admitting grander heights than his, though? Never.

But every sneaky joker someday dies.
And we may rue the brutal hours we
Were trapped in that trite devil’s spell,

The days we suffered his sly taunts and lies,
The ways we chafed with chill civility.
Hence we have known some of his endless hell.

William Ruleman





A Reading

Silence.
No questions.
Questioners but no questions.
Silence.

The silence is awkward.
The non-questions are awkward.
The room is awkward.
The room tilts backward awkwardly.

The room spills its awkward load of non-questions
on the lectern.
The silence is a door.
The lectern is the knob on the door of silence.

He folds the silence in half.
Then in half again.
Then in half again.
Then he puts the door of silence into the inside

pocket of his jacket.
The room tilts to the angle gravity loves.
He slides across the stage.
He opens the door and falls into his pocket.

J.R. Solonche





Apology to the Reader

I admit it. I have not written a good poem,
and I apologize. There is no excuse.
It should have been good but it wasn’t.
I wrote it the first thing this morning, before
breakfast. That was a mistake. I have never
written a good poem on an empty stomach.
I shouldn’t have tried. Also, I had to use
an unfamiliar pen. My favorite fine felt-tipped
pen ran out of ink last week and I forgot
to buy a refill, so I had to use a cheap Bic.
The heft was wrong and it kept slipping
out of my hand. Another thing you should
know. I couldn’t find the yellow legal pad
I always write good poems on, so I wrote
it on whatever was at hand, one of my
daughter’s extra sixth grade composition
books. Even Robert Frost couldn’t have
written anything decent on that paper.
Anyway, I’m sorry that I have not written
a good poem. I’ll make it up to you. I’ll write
two tomorrow. After breakfast.  I promise.

J.R. Solonche





Still New
She wraps herself in a red robe
Slips into the shower.
Her voice follows the music from the radio.
When the door opens, we meet halfway
The robe crumpled beneath our eager feet.

Korey Wallace







Seasonal

That year we worked apples. The orchards,
in their valley, fuzzed with mists. Lullabied 
by late bees, the trees also laboured
at laying down next year’s buds.
We spent all August picking.

We packed on trestle tables, wounded

by decades of autumns. They wobbled
for England. Sun speared through holes in our shed
and blinded us when the door opened.
We spent September squinting.

Brown boxes were for Dr Strogmuir’s Pink:

in rosy layers – tangy, scented, crisp –
and cardboard cartons held the Perfumed Pippin.
Across the dusty floor our boots scraped and kicked.
We spent October sneezing.

Into bags went Sweet Jade and Honey Russet,

Auntie’s Favourite, Moonbeam Early, Sun Bite.
In slack times we sloped trestles and apple-raced,
laying play bets. Crab Mellows were the fastest.
We spent November laughing.

You raised the final boxes; stacked the old van.

Your hair, bleached silver by the season,
glittered crystals of casual rain.
You waved. I waited. You didn’t return.
I spent December weeping
.

E A M Harris





Lisa walking her dog

Lisa, they say;
and that dog of hers is a darling
with those philosophical eyes
and wry countenance -
like Stalin contemplating
a purge.

Robert Dunsdon





Returning To Your First Love

It’s really simple, returning to your first love:
once you find the door  (not that many),
open it (it’s always unlocked), and walk in.
Sure, it will be scary; traveling back in time
often is—but once you inhale the fragrance
of her dad’s cherry-flavored pipe tobacco;
once you see the sepia-toned photographs
of her murdered grandparents atop the piano;
once you see her at the piano, sixty years
will vanish with your breath; and once
you hear Leucona’s Malagueña pouring from
her fingers you will be engulfed once again
with love—not just for her, but for music,
for pipe tobacco, for the world,
despite its unspeakable horrors,
despite the cruelty of not being allowed to remain.

Fred White




On looking at Christopher Williams’ ‘Study for Ceridwen’ 1909

crooked woman
dark heart ripples
source of poesie

mountain  tarn  rock 
her eviscerate dress
melds with tangled flesh

her cauldron seethes
she gathers simples
wisdom churns

three sparrows take turns / lifting sea-gull’s / fallen feather / in their beaks 
its heft / perturbs their balance

young fox on roadside
paw transfixed mid-stride
tractor flails russet wheat

as weak as whispers / in a genocide / the feather / triple their length

iron in a glowing fire
white grain of pure wheat
captivated  twice born

loud boom from kitchen
fledgling blackbird hits window
his corpse a feast for magpies

a spillage
a coracle
a leathern bag

adolescent robin
navigates precarious stems
finds ripe grass seeds

pastoral poet
avoids ‘massacre’
prefers to rhyme on ‘hare’

three drops
give wisdom
excess gives death

two shrews
skitter from barberry shelter
to ash-tree haven

fox scat
fresh
on the turf
Helen May Williams 





Largesse

An owl
heavy with moon
swoops
dusting the earth
with feather tips

She rises glowing
carrying
the breadth of the world
between her wings

Hélène Demetriades





Miniature

In the beginning, they bought me things
with pedals. Things to move me from my spot.
When all I wanted was a world in miniature
that was mine, that I could hold at once
in two small hands. You see, a book could
take me further than a bike; could take me
miles in seconds without fear of reprimand.

Henceforth, they bought me things with pages.
Things to move me all at once to empathetic
tears; to envy and to love; to anger and to fear.

And in this world of miniature I travelled
through the pages; held my breath on top
of man-made mountains built with words. 
Perished in the loneliness of every final page.
Then, breathed myself alive with each new spine
cracked open like a new born dragon sent to
set the world in miniature within my hands afire.

Amy Louise Wyatt





The Box of Tools

Today I found a box of the tools
from your love making; cards of pins
and other things, tight woven spools-
a treasure chest of hidden sins.

Pandora, you wore a veil to hide your face,
used sharp edged scissors to cut heart strings;
wrapped love letters to Harold longingly in lace
and wore a thimble that was your wedding ring.

A china cup where once black tea leaves
danced like Eastern symbols you never dared to read;
where others’ hearts were sown onto sleeves
you’d sown yours shut so it wouldn’t bleed;
and as the sun made love to the moon
you lay as a spinster in your sleeping room.

Amy Louise Wyatt





Walkin’     

Up the hill, past the disused church
circular green windows, and ivy,
then the flood-lit car-park
behind the railway station.

Walking with imaginary legs.

A city: its spires, bibliothèques, avenues …
They’re comments, models in my mind.
I’ll take you there, take you back
before it’s dark, before it’s too late
for someone to follow me.

Come along. Let’s go, before the rain:
we could stop at a small hotel,
on the outskirts, across the boulevard,
where, one by one, the lamps are lit. 

William Park





List of things you left behind:

1 pair of pants
1 photograph album
1 pillow
Notes on Samuel Beckett
15 hair clips (left in the bathroom)
A ukulele
1 individual sock
A CD
Notes on George Orwell 
1 blouse
A sickening feeling
1 blanket
DVD of ‘Love Actually’
A chequered internet history
1 packet of tissues
5 condoms
10 glasses wipes
Lines of poor verse I wrote for you
An attachment to the tube station where you live
1 deck of playing cards (8 of hearts bent in the corner)
Half drunk glass of water
Train tickets
Rosaries from your “Buddhist phase
Letters
The way your friends look at me
The way your parents look at me
The way I look at myself in the mirror. Naked. I touch my reflection and he reaches back out to me. But what can he do? 
A can of hairspray (lid missing)

Samuel Smithson





august flood -
a sprawling meadow
reflects the stars

Goran Gatalica





El Paso

Border towns weave cultures together-
braiding the American locks into something
beautiful.

Straddling loosens language. Syllables run
off the tongue, they dance with intermingling
vowels and kiss the cheeks of bilingual children.
Words are fluid- they gush down the throat floating in
the belly, tracing the silhouettes of mirth.

Mosaic homes scatter like ripped tissue paper, the dirt
feels velvety under heavy blues overhead. They call it monsoon
season- when really it’s the summer letting down its guard, summer
shedding a tear.

This is the turquoise beads and the vibrant paint. The liveliness
of color that slices into glances across.
 Church missions. Rich vistas. Mañana vibrations. Beautiful zeal.

Borders are broadened by context. Less of a fence, more of a funnel.
A blending of brilliant existence.

Paige Stetson



Contributors

Mike Bove was born and raised in Portland, Maine. He lives there still with his family, and he teaches in the English Department at Southern Maine Community College. His poems have appeared recently in Rattle and The Cafe Review. His first book, Big Little City, is forthcoming in the fall of 2018 from Moon Pie Press.

Eric Chiles is an adjunct professor of Journalism and English at a number of colleges and universities in eastern Pennsylvania and was a prize-winning  print journalist for more than 30 years.  His poetry appears in Allegro, American Journal of Poetry, Chiron Review, Gravel, Plainsongs, Poetry Porch, Rattle, Snakeskin, Tar River Poetry, Third Wednesday, Word Fountain, The West Texas Literary Review and other journals. 

Marian Christie was born in Zimbabwe but now lives in northeast Scotland, where she has a large and unruly garden that attracts a variety of wildlife. Her delight in patterns of all forms finds its expression in mathematics, astronomy and crochet as well as in reading and writing poetry. 

Natalie Crick (UK) has poetry published in Bare Fiction, Crannog, The Moth, Interpreters House, Allegro, Poetry Salzburg Review and elsewhere. She is studying for an MA in Writing Poetry at Newcastle University, currently taught by Tara Bergin and Jacob Polley. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice. 

Hélène Demetriades studied English at Leeds University, went to drama school and worked as an actor.  Later she trained as a transpersonal psychotherapist.  She has recently started to write poetry.  She has had poems published in Reach Poetry, Sarasvati and Dawntreader magazines, (Indigo Dreams Publishing), online in Clear Poetry, Ink, Sweat and Tears and Eunoia Review.  She is soon to be published in Anima magazine. She lives in South Devon with her family.

Robert Dunsdon, who lives in Abingdon, was first published in Ambit, since when his work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies.

Kate Garrett's
recent pamphlets include You've never seen a doomsday like it (Indigo Dreams, 2017), and she is widely published in online and print journals. She was born in Ohio, but moved to the UK in 1999, where she lives in Sheffield with her husband, five children, and the cat.

Goran Gatalica was born in Virovitica, Croatia, in 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.

E A M Harris has been writing both prose and poetry for several years. Her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies, online and in print.

Lavana Kray is from Iasi – Romania. She has won several awards, including the status of Master Haiga Artist, from the World Haiku Association. Her work has been published in many print and online journals. She was chosen for Haiku Euro Top 100, 2017. Currently she is the editor for Cattails collected works of the United haiku and Tanka Society. This is her blog: http://photohaikuforyou.blogspot.ro

Tim Love’s publications are a poetry pamphlet Moving Parts (HappenStance) and a story collection By all means (Nine Arches Press). He lives in Cambridge, UK. His poetry and prose have appeared in Stand, Rialto, Magma, Short Fiction, New Walk, etc. He blogs at http://litrefs.blogspot.com/

Julie Mullen lives in Hertfordshire, England, she is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing with the Open University. She spent her working life in a library and now enjoys volunteering, singing and yoga. She writes mainly for pleasure on any subject but would love to get something published.

William Park was born in West London; he began publishing poetry in the late 1970s, receiving a Gregory award in 1990. Surfacing published by Spike was reviewed in Ambit, Critical Survey, London Magazine, The North. Park has a Master’s and PGCE; he is Creative Writing Editor for Asylum.

Allan Peterson’s recent books are: Other Than They Seem, winner of the Snowbound Chapbook Prize from Tupelo Press; Precarious, 42 Miles Press, a finalist for The Lascaux Prize; Fragile Acts, McSweeney's Poetry Series, a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle and Oregon Book Awards. His New & Selected Poems, “This Luminous,” is forthcoming in late 2018 from Panhandler Books.

Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, where he lives and Reviews Editor for Adirondack Review. His most recent books include American Zeitgeist (Apprentice House) and a chapbook, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts ( Main Street Rag Press). 

William Ruleman lives in east Tennessee, where he writes, paints, and translates poetry and sometimes prose. His most recent books include Munich Poems (Cedar Springs Books), From Rage to Hope (White Violet Books), and his English version of Stefan Zweig’s unfinished novel Clarissa (Ariadne Press), all published in 2016.

Samuel Smithson is a poet and a playwright. He graduated from the Brunel University in 2018 with a degree in Theatre and Creative Writing. He currently studies at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. His play ‘We’re All Dead,’ was performed at the Brunel University in January 2018.

J.R. Solonche is author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions), Won’t Be Long (Deerbrook Editions), Heart’s Content (chapbook from Five Oaks Press), Invisible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by Five Oaks Press), The Black Birch (Kelsay Books), I, Emily Dickinson & Other Found Poems (Deerbrook Editions), In Short Order(Kelsay Books), 110 Poems (forthcoming from Deerbrook Editions), and coauthor of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). He lives in the Hudson Valley.

Paige Stetson lives in El Paso, Texas and is 17 years old. She is the creative writing editor of Perception Magazine and her work has been published in Body Without Organs Literary Journal and Moon Magazine. When not writing, she can be found playing the violin or petting her dogs.

Korey Wallace lives and works in the blue-collar town of Sioux City, Iowa. He believes poetry is the single thing that has kept him functionally sane.
Richard Weaver lives in Baltimore where he volunteers at the Maryland Book Bank, and acts as the Archivist-at-large for a Jesuit College. He is the author of The Stars Undone (Duende Press).
Fred White's poems have appeared in Rattle, South Carolina Review, Euphony, The Cape Rock, Analog Science Fiction, Event Horizon, etc., and is forthcoming in Spry. He lives near Sacramento, CA.

Helen May Williams formerly taught at the Warwick University and has written extensively on twentieth-century poetry. She runs the Poetry Society’s Carmarthen-based Stanza. Her chapbook, The Princess of Vix, is published by Three Drops Press. Her book of mainly haiku, Catstrawe, will be published by Cinnamon Press in Spring 2019.

Amy Louise Wyatt is a lecturer, poet and artist from Bangor, County Down.  She is the editor of The Bangor Literary Journal. She has work published in a range of established journals and magazines including The Blue Nib, FourxFour, Lagan Online and CAP Poetry Anthology. Amy has read at festivals throughout Ireland. She was a finalist in The National Funeral Services Poetry Competition 2016; The Aspects Poetry Slam 2017 and was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2018.  Amy is currently working on her first collection of poems.