Currently living in The Czech Republic Philip O’Neil has worked as a journalist, editor, photographer, news producer and presenter in several countries around the globe. His first novel, Mental Shrapnel, is due out in June 2019.
This battered virtue cloaked
in the downing sun of its own unease
and so outspoken
yet all I ask of you is why
during these calls you persist
in the suffering
and ask, through these outbursts
by the pint of wine
how can I explore the depairanto
of languages spoken as one
oh hearer of tangle tongues.
I left you because I counted the numbers
of voices pending to the mood and needs
cribbed behind the mercy of their call.
By your term of less held beliefs there is a home
all silent walls call you to bed.
and the town crier is by all shores’
following the iguana in a canyon
escaping a slither of snakes.
I know you rang to buy me back and head
towards with this spring of ask but no, I
will not go into your suffocating ways
I will rush to the city of volcanic ash.
You can read my swamp hand plain
out of symbols.
Back to the slimy commando
lift of muscle and bone.
Soul sleeplost beauty abandoned
waiting for the chorus of harpies
to laugh at our separating bodies
just like galley proofs and slaves
hollow heads exploding with the
cupcake girl-gangs worried about their
figures of eight and pieces of wombs
designed for just the two.
I am now between serpents audacious
but lanquid after swallowed
deciding between both
which fille-perdue I fall for.
Maybe it’s the time for the news
to entrail them in their moon and black
so it’s time for the jeopardy
blasting on our roof with Requiem
Half forgotten it’s time to feast
I’m between two serpents in the garden
Languid with easy snatches
Am I asking for the snake or its kill?
Like a galley slave chained to his bench
I fight wars not my own
And that includes yours.
Sweat it out sister
she’s already half forgotten
slashing in other towns.
The sun burns a hole through
the sparrow-drab sky
filters through the melting barcode
of skewed greasy blinds .
I gave up on the night
when the pale yellow lights
of rush hour beaters
started sliding across the ceiling
and the sound of faulty plumbing
after a stuttering piss
to a repetitive soundtrack stung
with the hypochondria of sleep lack
that starts in the liver
and works its way up
to the skull.
Shadowboxing with Peter Pan
would be more useful
as running the same dalliance
with you, the past.
Eyes half open, feel
like a plate of glass
splintered by a speeding truck.
BARBED WIRE TONGUE
I have no fear
of your barbed-wire tongue
the way you played
when we were young.
Now you call
when you’re alone
so far apart like bone and stone
you make me shy, you make me whole
we can’t reprise our loving roles.
Buttressed by another’s kiss
I close my eyes and think your bliss
You were sharp, your lips were thin
I can’t believe I’ll ever win.
You’re a magnet with changing poles
You attract and then repel
I want to think, no let’s scratch that
You live alone
So far apart like stone and bone.
The guilt sits hard
He loitered by the Devil’s Brook
and the old waterwheel in the park
of the island covered in leaves
watching topless children, painted, playing
to guitars and flutes
under the giant limes
when he noticed the spring yellow
and red torch-heads
of tulips and the same two-tone
peeling paint of the benches
where pensioners dozed at impossible angles
and in the distance from the lock he heard
the plaintive wails of barges
cocooning the whole city with his age.
Nick, I’m crying and
I’m in love again - I think.
I couldn’t get through to you
last night. You’re sleeping beside me,
It’s a little awkward with him.
It’s like we’re in callipers
that stops me talking.
Now, I’m moving in my bed
like a pylon and you clatter
next to me like a fire escape.
Nick, I’m crying and I
can’t tell you I’m in love
with a painkiller and I’m shaking
like a musical valentine. Nick,
I’ll bleed through my eyes
again tomorrow. I just needed
to tell you tonight that
I was right and I wanted to stroke your
hair. I know I’m me and I’m emotional.
I know I like blue curtains,
red sheets and kitsch dogs
and phoning you in the
middle of the night. But Nick I’m crying
and I want to steady your hand
just in case you cry one time. I want to buy
silk pants and Stranger Music and the soundtrack
to ‘One from the Heart’.
I’m tearing away
from five ugly days of pain.
I’m doing the jigsaw of images
that shatters the night from her box
shark-eyed candy on moonshine trees
candelabra ardour overcrowd the countrymen
cadence of a mispent time.
Where shadowlands turn to home fronts
I’m the echo of an age
that cannot bear its millenial diagnosis
I’m also Peter Pan just
a condiment on a demented family table
The couple across play Russian roulette
Over the sick jaw of dreamscapes
every correctly laid piece earns the player a shot
the closer he gets to seeing his shared win.
The closer he gets to Pollocking his brains out
against the dry-stone wall
held together by blood-ejaculate
Am I still in the slipstream of your box?
Eira Needham is a retired teacher from Birmingham UK. Her poetry has been published in print and online. Some of her recent publications are in Poetry Pacific, Nine Muses Poetry and Poppy Road Review. She has also been Featured Writer in WestWard Quarterly and came first in Inter Board Poetry Contest, August 2017.
The Braeburn Tree
Mother-like it stoops to watch Sheba’s endless
sleep, drapes its blush pashmina over her in spring.
Its trunk inclines across the slender path to bask in
solar warmth; branches grasp us as we grapple to pass.
After harvest, we shovel it out, abandon windfalls
to compost the ground, around the gaping cavity.
Repositioned by the wishing well, we pamper it, hope
sap will course through veins again and the chasm left
will not be needed very soon. In February’s gloom, we wait
for the man trapped in traffic, carrying a mercy-potion.
It takes seconds. Max is swallowed by the void as soil
shrouds him. We replant nearby bulbs, in memoriam.
I first saw Max in a dream-chase, the tabby scurrying
from Sheba’s shady grave. Now Max rests beside her.
Seedtime rays and drizzle foster apple blossoms to unfurl
today; narcissi gently waver where heads once bowed.
They met in dunes behind the bay;
seduced by warmth she cast away
her scant bikini top to bare
her virgin skin. Long fingers played
on tender breasts; as beach grass swayed
she bathed in his caress. She'll wear
a gown today when tests uncover
melanoma from her lover.
Impounded, Maggie waits.
Too old to race at five,
undeserving of her sentence.
The pack surrounds us,
nostrils vetting pheromones.
They separate her, contain
the rest behind a gate;
Deep chest and long-legged
elegance capable of high speed
in three strides,
large eyes outlined, kohl-like
she stands statuesque, as if
on a mural in Pharaoh’s temple
Tiny scars from food fights,
fleck her face,
tattoos hide inside ears.
Lying overlong on stone floors
has worn bald patches
on muscle-bound flanks.
Muzzled, the retired runner walks
close without tugging, then lingers
beside me while I stroke.
Glimpses of My Mother
By chance I catch a glimpse of her,
salt and pepper waves kissing
cyan ripples about her neck.
A thousand Lepidoptera tickle
anticipation, until she whirls
around revealing an unfamiliar smile.
As I exhale they burst out
of my ribcage in a rush, transporting
all desires to an obscure realm.
One gatekeeper flutters back
then settles on my lifeline.
Gary Priest writes short fiction and poetry. He has over thirty publications online and in print including Daily Science Fiction, The Eunoia Review and Literary Orphans. He lives in the UK at the end of a dead-end road, which may explain everything.
This Morning’s Sun
This morning’s sun reminds me of your old love letters.
Creased across the middle by thin black clouds.
Yellow, with an undertone of self doubt.
Wanting to explode,
yet intimidated by all that white space.
Unable to capture the warmth of earlier days.
This morning’s sun seems ignored by everyone but me.
Earbuds dislocating them from thoughts
of the failing star above their heads.
Safe in their soundtracks,
as I think of everything evaporating into dust,
adding tracks to my armageddon playlist.
This morning's sun casts barely any shadows.
Which forces me into painting my own.
Using green eyes, red lips and black hair
to create an undercoat.
While various eighties indie bands
deepen the hue of my manufactured gloom.
This morning’s sun will soon enough sink.
Its uncelebrated February light spent
across an uncaring hemisphere.
by the starfucking antics of another slutty moon.
Throwing sloppy silver kisses at everything.