Monday, 30 June 2014

Overtaken

with excitement, a bachelorette took a photo 
of herself toasting her impending wedding. 

Earlier, she probably called her five-year-old,
promised him she would see him soon,
because that's what mommies do.

Either way, she jumped in a car 
with her best friend to celebrate 
her bachelorette party, then posted 
a selfie of them eager to arrive.

A few minutes later, her lungs
were overtaken by the asthma
of truck fumes, her excitement 
restricted by the gasping of air.

Her best friend attempted to overtake 
the truck so she could breathe again,
but failed to see an oncoming vehicle,
so the two cars overtook each other.

Three hours later, the bride-to-be
was overtaken by her injuries 
before her fiancé could get there
to say, "Goodbye.  I love you."

Overtaken by grief and shock,
her family and friends turned 
to each other, while her son 
asked when she would be back,
when he could see her again.
Mommy wouldn't leave him.
She loved him too much
to do that.

©Kristina England


 Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Her writing is published or forthcoming at Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Gargoyle, New Verse News, Poetry24, and other magazines.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Sunday Review

David Subacchi started our week off with a poem about Gerry Conlon which was a good thing for me because I knew very little about the case and had to look it up. This sort of event is entering my thinking in a subtitle of  "A Poetry 24 moment" I love the opening of the poem contrasting "news" and things that actually matter.
In between news of the European Union
And the World Cup latest scores
They reported your death
For those of us of a certain age the words "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition" bring to mind some gloriously funny moments. Now these have been added to by Neil Fullwood's "Nobody Expects the Poetry Inquisition" This a very funny poem and very well written. In particular I like the, dare I say, Pythonesque:
Tomas has published several pamphlets,
including the Alhambra Award-winning
Confess, You Heretic Bastard.
Sue Norton's poem "Zombie Boy" was Wednesday's poem and is suitably macabre given what it's about. I like how it doesn't judge the tattooed person but also doesn't praise them, just says what is. The final stanza very skilfully points out some of the irony involved, however. That is a good poet.
White bones on black highlight
the sleek, toned bodies of dancers
too young to worry
that bounding into their midst
comesmemento mori. 
 E R Olsen's poem "Haram" showed how a poem that has brevity does not always lack power. Some of the power of this poem comes from the mind of the reader as the images in the poem provoke a reaction. You get the feeling of how it must feel right from the beginning

I did not want to come here

Wherever here is

My town was like a cocoon

We the caterpillars
 Sue Norton's poem  "Branched Off "about stagnation in parts of England was Friday's poem. The insights it makes apply to a lot of this world that is getting left behind as politicians go for the tunnel vision of economic growth being the only prize.
We shunt past a derelict factory.

Grey clouds are moving

faster than we can.
 I hope you all have good weeks and keep sending in submissions. We have passed the middle of Winter in New Zealand and are looking forward to Spring. If we do not get washed out to sea by the rain.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Branched Off



 Engineering works.
We slow to a dawdle,
our intercity train
branched off ,
abruptly god-forsaken.

We shunt past a derelict factory.
Grey clouds are moving
faster than we can.
Only weeds travel on this
wartime airfield; its runways
slowly slipping under grass.
Water stagnates in ditches;
even the river
can hardly be bothered
to shift to the sea.

A man in a signal box
pulls wooden levers.
He changes the points
but it makes no difference,
we have plenty of time
to observe the speed
limit. 10 mph.
We wonder why they don’t electrify
lines like these
as we stop,

think of Adlestrop,
watch
sunlight
on a rusting signal
somewhere in  Lincolnshire.


© Sue Norton

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Haram


I did not want to come here

Wherever here is



My town was like a cocoon

We the caterpillars



Swinging in every breeze

At the tree tops



I thought of flying one day

Just pushing off



Then they shook all of us down

Burned the branches



I could be squashed on the ground

Under booted feet



So I must be still as stone

And may never fly

©E R Olsen
E R Olsen writes poetry and practices law in Nevada, where he and his wife raised their four children. His poems have appeared in several U.S. journals and magazines, most recently in the Naugatuck River Review.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

'Zombie Boy'

Zombie Boy’s inky black.
Tattoos sinew his limbs,  
his shaved skull pictures
his brain imagining itself
inside out. His body-art’s

famous: unshrouded, his
skeleton struts the catwalk;
Vanitas poses for the Fashion Shoot,
danse macabre animates a video.
His skull face grins, gruesomely.

White bones on black highlight
the sleek, toned bodies of dancers
too young to worry
that bounding into their midst
comes memento mori.


©Sue Norton














Sue lives and writes in York

Monday, 23 June 2014

Nobody Expects the Poetry Inquisition

            Paxman called for an “inquisition”
            in which “poets [would be] called
            to account for their poetry” …
                                    - The Guardian, 2 June 2014
Entries are now being accepted
for the Auto-da-Fé Open Poetry Competition.
This year’s adjudicator: Tomas de Torquemada.
Tomas has published several pamphlets,
including the Alhambra Award-winning
Confess, You Heretic Bastard. He takes
a keen interest in contemporary arts
and has personally put many free thinkers to death.
Rules of the competition: poems may be
on any subject, but special consideration
is given to religious themes. (The organisers
of the Auto-da-Fé Open Poetry Competition
accept no liability for midnight visits
from the Inquisition.) Poems should not be longer
than 40 lines. Poets should be able to withstand
at least as many lashes. Contrary to the usual rules,
poems should be clearly marked with the poet’s
name, address and details of immediate family.
First prize: you get to keep your life. Second
prize: only one limb removed during torture.
Third prize: a comfy chair after your day on the rack.
Entry fee: three pounds of flesh per poem.

© Neil Fullwood


Neil Fulwood was born in 1972, the son of a truck driver, the grandson of a miner. Nobody can figure out where the whole poetry thing came from. His interests include reading, movies, and visiting inns and taverns of architectural interest. It still amazes Neil how many people confuse this with pub-crawling.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Gerry Conlon

In between news of the European Union
And the World Cup latest scores
They reported your death
At the age of sixty
Mentioning in passing
The fifteen years
You spent in custody
For something that you didn’t do.

A brief clip of your release was shown
Prison thin and long haired
Denim clad, shaking with emotion
With someone in the crowd shouting
Something incomprehensible
It sounded like a groan of pain
Then they showed Tony Blair
Apologising for what you went through

Then you again in later life
Heavier now with shorter hair
But still emotional
Saying it wasn’t easy
That you still woke up sweating
There was some mention of other problems
And that you tried to help others
Who had suffered injustice

At law school when you stood trial
We argued about your case
In dreary seminar rooms
Feelings were high and divided
I recall the arguments spilled out
Into eating areas and coffee bars
Causing us to miss lectures

After we graduated
And got on with our lives
It was easy to forget all this
But for you even after release
The scraping of keys in locks
Remained in your memory
Unlike the tinkle
Of university crockery
Being cleared away.

© David Subacchi

David Subacchi was born in Wales of Italian roots. He is a well known poet especially in Wales and the North West of England. His English language collections ‘First Cut’ (2012) and ‘Hiding in Shadows’ (2014) have both been published by Cestrian Press.

Sunday Review

In a world becoming more and more tense Martha Landman in her poem "Culling the World" reminded us of the outcome of this sort of situation and how wasteful of young life we continue to be. There's some good insights in the poem and I like the admission of wishing the noisy motorcyclist harm which we have probably all done without thinking about it further.
How many in the great world wars,
Korea, Gallipoli and Afghanistan
How many teenagers on our roads,
family members at each other’s hands...
Kristina England's poem "Empty Nest" puts the horror of what one person has done up against the experience of all parents and acknowledges that the end result is the same. A very moving comparison.
to soar away from her into life,
knowing they will each fall
at their own given time.
A new contributor Melanie Barbato's poem "Deep Meditation" gave us all a look at an issue that we do not face in our normal western influenced lives which is the sort of thing that Poetry24 is very good at. The narrator tells us what their head says but makes the point that stranger things do happen.  
He's dead as dead from what I saw
 And by the terms we make
 And yet I know
 A fish can live
 Inside a frozen lake 
Darrell Petska gave us "Headlines We Could Live With" which is a wish list of things that need fixing. It is a worthy list and I do like how the last two items show that there's still some humour around.
Mars Rover Captures Elvis Image on Rock Face
Doom and Gloom Poets Turn to Love Lyrics
Due to a scheduling error, there was no Friday poem so we had a Saturday entry instead and it was the solemn despair of Joshua Baumgarten's "Musket to Machine Gun". There's not much else to say beyond what Joshua says:
Americans executing Americans
a birth right of violence.
Our mountain of murder beginning to
pile higher than the standards
We hold the rest of the world up to.
Have a good week people and keep on submitting your wonderful poems. It is always a great privilege to read them in our inbox.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Musket to Machine Gun

The family members never forget
We the public viewing
from a comfortable cable television distance
We tend to
over time.

For us little league games go into extra innings
Friday night services continue to be buoyant sing alongs
Trips to the mall are family nights out filled with pizza and pepsi
Strolls down main street are slow and steady, secure.
Though shadows now seem to linger longer and longer
as if we were all being followed by ghosts.

And over time
Front page news ink bleeds as the headlines become faded.
Cotton in the ears of the old grey and newbie politicos
deafens them to all the anguished cries.
Soundbites like shark bites leave gouged out holes in
Our deepest moral codes.

The bodies the graves the unwarranted dead
Americans executing Americans
a birth right of violence.
Our mountain of murder beginning to
pile higher than the standards
We hold the rest of the world up to.

Sympathies to all those who survived and are left to forever rewind.

A moment of silence has become
Way too short a life span to
Even begin to contemplate
This musket to machine gun catastrophe.

But eventually
we all
must.

Oregon shooting
© Joshua Baumgarten

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Headlines We Could Live With

 Re-outfitted U.S. Drones Bring Humanitarian Relief
 Nations Changing Habits: Carbon Emissions Plunge
 Historic Middle East Accord—Peace At Last!
 Global Corporations Helping Fight Disease
 Grass Roots Coalitions Winning Against Poverty
 World's Richest Launch Learning Networks for Kids
 DMZ Gone, Korean Unity Talks Underway
 Immigration Reform Paying Dividends 
 Endangered Rhinos Latest Species on Comeback
 Doomsday Clock Shelved: Artifact of Bygone Era
Mars Rover Captures Elvis Image on Rock Face
Doom and Gloom Poets Turn to Love Lyrics

©Darrell Petska

Darrell  is a Wisconsin writer whose work appears in a variety of online and print publications.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

'Deep Meditation'

I know
An Englishman was lost
Three days
Inside the Lucknow labyrinth
I know
A diamond thief hid for
Three weeks in a
Golkonda mine
But can there be
A subtle-mattered mind
Cached in a bloodless
Brain or in a stiffened spine?
I went to med school
And I studied law
He's dead as dead from what I saw
And by the terms we make
And yet I know
A fish can live
Inside a frozen lake
The holy man
Not wanting to be found
He may have shrunk
And held his breath
And sunk down to the ground
Of a chromaffin cell
Just waiting to resurface
When all that's wrong is well

Melanie Barbato is a doctoral candidate in Indology and Religious Studies at LMU Munich, Germany.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Empty Nest

In Japan, a mother jumps to her death
after pushing her three children
off the same condo balcony.
I read the story on Sunday morning,
birds chirping outside my window,
a nest woven into my porch.
The mother teaches her chicks to fly, 
to soar away from her into life,
knowing they will each fall
at their own given time.

© Kristina England


Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Her writing is published or forthcoming at Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Gargoyle, New Verse News, Poetry24, and other magazines.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Culling the World

It’s 4.32 am and a motorbike

throttles the neighbourhood awake

A sound so ferocious at first I

feared he was going to kill

himself and soon wished he would



Lying awake on this drizzly winter morning

I find no need to conspire global depopulation —

we’re fast culling the world:



49 troops killed in Ukraine plane

239 passengers in missing Malaysia Flight  

111 killed by rebels in Sudan’s Darfur —

200 000 since the conflict started in 2003 —

1 033 000 violent deaths in Iraq’s war

Untold numbers died in Africa’s genocides

7 killed in Anand road mishap in India

41 plus more in a train crash

How many in the great world wars,

Korea, Gallipoli and Afghanistan

How many teenagers on our roads,

family members at each other’s hands,

victims of home invasions and rape



Add to it the airborne ebola virus, the AIDS

virus, deadly viruses behind SARS and MERS,

mine accidents, tooth decay, gluttony and life



And in that slumber, while drifting back to sleep I

wonder: Were there any grand plans for Eden’s garden?


© Martha Landman

  Martha Landman writes in North Queensland, Australia. Her latest work has appeared in egg poetry, Beakful and Jellyfish Whispers.





Sunday, 15 June 2014

Sunday Review

Apologies in advance for the fact that this week's review will be a brief one. My internet has gone down  and I am wrestling with my provider, fruitlessly it seems, for the restoration of my connection which, it has been established, has fallen foul of a crossed line. I will spare you the whole sorry tale. Let's just say that the performance of this company has been less than inspiring. Let us say, also, that the fault seems unlikely to be fixed any time soon.

So, we began this week with 25 Years after Tiananmen, Sue Norton's comment on the anniversary of events at Tiananmen Square. The news report that accompanied this piece speaks, not without justification, perhaps, of 'a conspiracy of silence'. However, before we get too smug and self-congratulatory, it may behove us to consider the proliferation on Facebook and the like of cutesy kittens and dog stories while, in the real world, in the name of god knows what children are fighting and dying and young girls, because they ate poor and vulnerable ate being raped and hanged from trees.

On Tuesday, Kristina England 'Till Death' gave us the terrible yet the hauntingly tender story of the suicide pact made between two elderly brothers.  Speaking for myself, I can easily see why they might have made such a pact. What a tragedy it is, though, that we are living in a world where, more and more, the elderly  and the vulnerable are seen as an expense and a burden instead of the repository of wisdom and stories that they have it within themselves to be.

Wednesday's poem  was 'A reflection on all our yesterdays'  by Alan Johnson. It is a powerful piece which, for me, exposes the thick sugar crust of hypocrisy which formed over the media's cover of the anniversary of D Day. Addressing the dead of two bloody wars, Alan Johnson comments. 'You must weep at all this treachery'. The clinching lines, however, are these:
           You sleep whilst we now
           cower under dictators, as they strip our wealth and
           toil – and still: They act as if you died to save us all.

Another powerful voice was raised on Thursday in the form of 'For how long shall we burn' by Sutapa Chaurdhuri. For commentary, I go to one of our readers who signed herself in as 'Mari'.
'Crisp clear writing that holds back no punches. All for daring to choose a life. Your lines are exquisite but the imagery of the following hit deep within - as they should do:

For how long shall the trees bend down
Laden with mutilated corpses

Beautifully done! Achingly sad.' Thank you, Mari. I hope you don't object to my quoting you.

Finally, at the end of the week, we were back with Sue Norton whose 'They called him Peter' told a 'love story' with a difference, the heart-stopping tale of Margaret and Peter the dolphin. All in all, another excellent week here at Poetry24. We thank all our contributors. Please keep sending in those submissions. 
Abigail Wyatt

Friday, 13 June 2014

They Called Him Peter

They called him Peter. She
lived with him for six months,
day and night. Speech was
a struggle for him, especially
her name, Margaret; he found
‘M’ really difficult to vocalise,
but he practised hard. At last, he
managed to say, ‘Hello, Margaret,’
heaving and bubbling with relief.
Clearly, they had created a unique
bond, were learning possibilities
for deeper communication, but then
interest dwindled, funding was cut,
the experiment terminated and Peter,

separated from Margaret, was moved
to a smaller tank with little sunlight
and no more interaction. So he did
what dolphins do when life becomes
unbearable; he breathed and sank,

an inter-species communication
needing no interpretation when
he didn’t take the next breath.



©Sue Norton














The dolphin who loved me

Sue lives and writes in York