In Cambridge


Soft lemon fudge in the rain back in time,
one small umbrella with two huddled tight.
Streets grey and gothic
frowned up at our crime.

Bridge dripping softly with tendrils of slime
led us to harbour, we followed the light
to soft lemon fudge
in the rain back in time.

Slippery cobbles accosted our climb,
skies blue and rainy gave little respite
while streets grey and gothic
frowned up at our crime.

Across sodden grass, a delicate chime
led us ahead like the call of a kite
to soft lemon fudge
in the rain back in time.

Chocolate and toffee and ginger and lime:
wet fingers brushed as we sucked in the sight
while streets grey and gothic
frowned up at our crime.

Seven years later, continue the mime:
pass me a piece, a sweet-sour bite
of soft lemon fudge
in the rain back in time.

Streets grey and gothic
still frown at our crime.

Elizabeth Gibson

First published in Picaroon Poetry, January 2017



Bosque

The leaves have fallen -
a verdant map traced
under the shadows of
the branches. The world
of the queen. The butterfly
begins its migration. Monarch
dethroned. A kingdom
of bark left to the reptiles,
the spiders, the beetles
with their obsidian shells.

Ray Ball



The Journey

Getting here you have to go back on yourself.
Each winding turn coasts old boundaries;
Jigsaws along the flat drained, reclaimed lands
Threading through past associations, sightlines:
Distant spires, the windmills, village stocks, all slow tractors
Lengthening the journey, pushing us against time.
The Norse-forged hamlets thin out. Detached dwellings;
Home produce left beside the honesty box,

Then one last clearance along the flat, sea-level stretch -
The village edge pulling up fast – then
The last turn, where, since childhood, the black-clothed
Edwardian mannequins stand, watchful,
Outside the antique shop, where past lives are
Dusted off. Resold. This curious past.

Peter Burrows

First published in The North, Summer 2016

surrender


sand, hills and slopes carved by the wind,
the emptiness of landscape, where only nomads and camels pass,
lone footsteps disappearing in a windstorm.
the hard whip and sting of sand against their skin,
sweltering heat that throbs their hearts,
blinds them, burns their hides.
exotic music, coloured swathes and foreign insects on the wind,
dangerous beasts that lurk underfoot.
yellow heat, orange-yolk sun, the smoke and stink of fire
and flesh; a small goat, carried with care into the desert,
only to be eaten.

Lisa Reily



The Street Cleaners

In the morning streets of Centro Merida, the sweepers
are already out and busy, palm frond brooms at work -

swish-swish, swish-swish -- this long-standing, historic
human work. Off the sidewalks fly cigarette butts,

gum wrappers, clear plastic wraps of bakery sweets,
furtive crumpled balls of paper tissue dropped by

a young woman whose date failed to show again,
a Styrofoam coffee cup discarded by the tourist who

couldn't distinguish ORGANICA from its counterpart.
Swish-swish, swish-swish sing the brooms; off the sidewalk

flies the trash, swept into a small mound, awaiting the one
with the wheeled bin and with the spade to scoop the heap

into the rolling bin. Bend and scoop, bend and scoop,
push the bin onward into morning. Down the street swish

the sweepers, swish-swish, bend and scoop, the grating
of the trash bin wheels at their heels, pushing them on.

Glen Sorestad



Traveler Sees Stars

Coming to a city is like leaving all the others.
Boston, San Francisco, these are a springboard
To dive into these new places deep.

The sense is its own but the proportion is San Diego's.
The people in the bars drink New Orleans out of my system.
The women are not Londoners. The shops are not New York.

Everybody lives here, not yesterday, not in Vienna.
Their roles are this place's roles.
Romans need not apply.

The task for me is simple… to know what I do not know.
Around the corner is not Tokyo, is not Providence.
I ask directions. I'm given newness.

Late at night, I dine in a restaurant,
Eat so local that the best of Paris can compete.
The stars are out, the same stars everywhere.

Staring at the sky is like old home week.

John Grey