Magic Bus

What about the invisible wheelchair?
she asked. Who drives it? Where do its wheels rest?
Nowhere, child. Sit still. There are things you must
pretend not to see. Is anything there
now? No. So hush, child, hush. We do not point
at wooden legs or laugh at injured words—
not out loud. We behave. She wants to stir
this bus like soup, she says. She likes that faint
anarchic tang of people you can’t see.
Yes, he says, patient as a lollipop
and twice as sticky, of course. Now please, smile
at him. Remember, he spots your bruised knees
and imperfect mouth. Now ring for the stop,
then ask for the knife. Hop off, hop off, child.

Mark J. Mitchell’s latest novel The Magic War just appeared from Loose Leaves Publishing. He studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver and George Hitchcock. His work has appeared in the several anthologies and hundreds of periodicals. Three of his chapbooks—Three VisitorsLent, 1999, and Artifacts and Relics—and the novel Knight Prisoner are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He lives with his wife Joan Juster and makes a living pointing out pretty things in San Francisco.

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A Woodland Walk

Towering cathedral trees stalk gospel clouds as they wish away their leaves and brace themselves, stiff for the approaching winter. Breath mist freezing in the crisp vital air with every step squelching splatting disturbed mud paths to nowhere and everywhere, depending on if you can find it. The shower of death-bound desperate leaves litters the path but death means goodness and growth and new life for the forest, and the ground hungrily consumes swallowing every treat from above as I watch and wonder and consider dancing down this tree-lined avenue of natural feast and splendour. The forest echoes with bubbling wild noise full of exuberant life – it is life and happiness and calm but also exciting, fast, bursting and breathing. A living thing to walk through and to be in in in. I’m in it. Walking in the lungs of the world, surrounded and submerged by an all-consuming wilderness that is home to everything your soul should and does desire. It is a human escape into humanity’s history and awe, brimming with a vital energy that is a far cry from neon signs and concrete bleakness. I’m breathing it in patient gasps of vital woody air. The forest represents and is otherness, home distant desperate dreams of walking free of every social convention ever thought up that came to pass and came to control – you can’t control nature.

Step after step deeper into blissful green brown solitude serenaded by hidden birds, winged angels of the woods who watch your every move like feathered vigilantes flocking through the hidden cracks of light between branches and deep damp leaves sodden and brown, soon to be fallen. If you’re away from roads and civilisation the first thing you notice is the noise. Loud yet peaceful and pleasant. Subconsciously it soothes and eases your mind – a tremendous chorus of wind-rustled foliage accompanied by sweet singing birds crackling crowing chirping creaking crying screaming wanderlust fervour. The birds and the animals in the undergrowth, creeping and crawling and living a life of natural adventures and survival. Then strange holy moments of wild silence put everything on alert, it becomes clear that you are strolling alive and free, the freedom of every pulsing step you take apparent and abundant beneath the lofty trees majestic. A woodland walk of tiny waves but some sort of indescribable epic holy significance for your soul.

Bobby Gant is a writer and poet from Yorkshire. His work has been published by The Cadaverine, New Nature Magazine, Decanto, Eunoia Review, Word Riot, Young Academic, and London Progressive Journal, as well as in various university magazines and journals.

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Safety First in My Toyota Corolla

There have to be at least ten other white Corollas lined up in the mall parking lot. Doesn’t matter. Something in my body responds to the curve of its fins, even though fins on cars are about watching Saturday Night Fever. My eyes move over its rear end, its round curves end in a license plate. Fit like a gym workout. My car and I are imprinted on each other. I am her duckling who sails over the water in the morning and comes back in the evening; I cross a bridge twice a day and return to her, can find my car without making its parking lights flash. In the distance, I recognize a square sticker on the window shield and a string of bottle caps that hang on a thin wire over the dashboard, a souvenir from another time; she senses my foot on the gas, how close to the wheel I sit, what it takes to start over. My car’s name is Johnetta. She holds my memories inside her trunk. Johnetta says we are going for a ride. I feel safe until he crawls out from the trunk, plops next to me and grins.

Lenore Weiss is an MFA candidate at San Francisco State University, where she is also a teaching assistant. Winner of the Clark-Gross Award and the Robert Browning Dramatic Monologue Contest, her poetry has been published in many journals. Books include Cutting Down the Last Tree on Easter Island (West End Press, 2012), Two Places (Kelsay Books, 2014) and The Golem (Hadassa Word Press, 2017). Her blog resides at http://www.lenoreweiss.com.

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The Walkway

Half-paved, half-overgrown,
the walkway disappears.
The courtyard drips; a rain
from forty years ago
still shocks; the same sky lours.
Is there nothing new,
nothing to lift the mind
from grey flood and concrete?
The body needs must bend,
the gambler has to fold;
fifty years and fate
will bow the strongest neck.
And I have come back
in the mind’s eye at least
to what I know of old –
a glimmer in the rust;
voices of dead friends,
their stories never told,
who walked out into
an evening without end
– how young they were, how few
their likes today; a bar
of music, passing, gone;
Syd Barrett or John Clare
on their long walk home,
one to his mother’s garden,
the other an asylum.
And what remained undimmed
toward the end, what word
or snatch of song redeemed
the solitary years?
It seems however far
we look, however deep
inside or out, a wind
no stronger than a whisper
scatters what little truths
we’ve fastened on, and hope
takes refuge in the past.
But what to do when past
itself’s in disarray,
when the long falling out
accelerates, the brain
besieged from within
and life’s an endless loan
we borrow from ourselves
to loan ourselves again?
Here the Atlantic drips
from broken spouts, begins
its long journey back,
and coltsfoot among cracks
disperses in the gloom
ten thousand years of growth.
All sound, all mute. Perhaps
the energy of love
still radiates somewhere
not in waves, but drops:
youngsters on a path,
wildflowers by a grave,
birdsong rinsing air,
and our words too, an echo
of a time before words
when a silent hunger
was the only truth to follow.

Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, November Wedding and Beverly Downs. His work can be found on http://tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com.

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Beads

A damp stone hidden by the kiss of vegetation
waited to scrape my knee and duly did;
I parted ferns to catch
the final digit of a date cut with a flourish
two centuries ago; the old courtyard
sloping toward the lake like a giant
stretched out for a long, earned sleep.

A storm breaks where you are, as it does daily:
behind your desk, rained on by a riot
of rights and questions, I wish the timeless
calm of that carved 2, a swan,
and that your mind will unfurl slowly
like a fern, its underside lined
as with a string of pearls, a prayer of beads.

Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, November Wedding and Beverly Downs. His work can be found on http://tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com.

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Nothing is Lost

(for Enda Whyte)

Lost again in this business of forgetting
I recall old people walking,
their firm steps, as if by rote
like your mother, straight-backed, clear-eyed,
doing the loop, returning to a house cold
to the touch of memory, the hearth gone,
the air warmed by foreign pipes,
her need suddenly a child’s, immediate, pure, incomprehensible
to those she reared, her rings so many shiny toys.

I imagine the ghost weight of your arms reaching out
to break a fall that hasn’t happened
and the long, one-sided leave-taking that shadows
ours to come; and a sense of forced readiness,
a tremor in the mind like the breaking
of language as it drifts further away
from its core. I craved silence once,
now it seems inevitable as night,
something whirrs like moth-wings in my brain,

the panic of release becoming worse
the more deadweight the burden;
then I remember that ship I saw
merging with the distance, passengers’ pale faces
shrunk beyond the fact of their still existing.
Perhaps we all sail into that vast calm
in the end; nothing is lost
because we never owned it in the first place; either side, sleep,
at the edge of sleep, a spark.

Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, November Wedding and Beverly Downs. His work can be found on http://tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com.

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Trio

The floors you knew are crumbling: Nissen huts
freaks now like huge greened-over cloches
or trellises for rampant breeching weed.
No odds of brass glint under sudden sunslant;
polythene on briars, tarry crows
measure the muted passing of a sound
marooned in the dark dooms of its memory

and we in turn abandoned to the constant
cold that sang then in our unwilling knuckles,
Christmas strangely, comfortingly bleak –
people gone to eat in one-day rooms
with walls subdued, the fire damp and smoky.
The empty square promised us New Year
ready to be written on. No more:

we never cared which way the wind was blowing
or where cold came from. It was all the same;
what was, was what was happening, that simple;
no doorway to a hidden place, no need,
no longing we could recognise as other
that a kind of mental itch long days would cure.
Words and music then were no evasion.

The nearer a place, the less inclined to visit.
So with the past, it seems; those railway coats
my closed eyes hint at already once removed,
broad-suited men who gruffly smelt of valve-oil
and stabbed out Woodbines in pre-carol chorus,
what world did they inhabit: was it gone
before their eyes, or did they ride that flux

in rough, deep, uneven silent nights?
I see their fingers awkward on the valves,
at home there, too; the rest is sound past hearing,
discomforting, a baton passed, a sense
of weight that never leaves, however free
or rhythmic-gracefully the body glides
or stops, exulting, wonderfully breathless.

No one can measure the crumbling of a house
or of the people in it; how their thoughts
slip a notch to worry, then to fear,
from irritability to futile rage;
rising damp, a thousand minor faults
dead citizens of a forgotten state;
whatever page the book falls open at

whispers the end of empire. Outside, children
made up games, were caught in strawberry nets
or split ripe pears with careless windward casts;
other walls hold them now, worldwise scattered,
one at least at any time in light
but none of them enlightened, except perhaps
by constant dark encroaching on the edge.

And always now, when I hear a brass band march
I tense my body against recollection
while the bass section brings us down to where
we are today; and wait for the change of key
that brings the trio, falsity and hope,
resolution, journey’s end and triumph
before the drop to sullied innocence.

Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, November Wedding and Beverly Downs. His work can be found on http://tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com.

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