A Short Story of Falling

by Alice Oswald

copyright ©Alice Oswald 2016

It is the story of the falling rain
to turn into a leaf and fall again

it is the secret of a summer shower
to steal the light and hide it in a flower

and every flower a tiny tributary
that from the ground flows green and momentary

is one of water’s wishes and this tale
hangs in a seed-head smaller than my thumbnail

if only I a passerby could pass
as clear as water through a plume of grass

to find the sunlight hidden at the tip
turning to seed a kind of lifting rain drip

then I might know like water how to balance
the weight of hope against the light of patience

water which is so raw so earthy-strong
and lurks in cast-iron tanks and leaks along

drawn under gravity towards my tongue
to cool and fill the pipe-work of this song

which is the story of the falling rain
that rises to the light and falls again


by Jordan Abel

copyright ©2016 Jordan Abel

he heard snatches of comment
going up from the river bank

all them injuns is people first
and besides for this buckskin

why we even shoot at them
and seems like a sign of warm

dead as a horse friendship
and time to pedal their eyes

to lean out and say the truth3
all you injuns is just white keys

from Rings

by Ian Williams

copyright ©Ian Williams 2012

Problem is our armpits and crotches are feathered
with cobwebs. Problem is she leaks soft-boiled eggs
or I package seedless grapes. Problem is her parents
made us wait until that had crossed the width
of my nose. Problem is she has a migraine. Problem is
we did not want children. Problem is we did
not want each other until too late. Problem is I can’t be
late for work in the morning. Problem is this morning
she says she dreamt she was holding a sandwich bag
of crickets. Problem is I am already late and listening
to the weather. Problem is we don’t speak
to the problem. Problem is the school bus
that stops in front of our townhouse just as I’m reversing

the problem is we don’t know who

But we did not want children. But we did
not want a townhouse either. But we got
a townhouse in a field of children with round
dimpled faces. But we did not want girls.
But we saw them in ribbon and crinoline
at church. But we did not want boys. But
we saw them squeezing frogs near the ravine.
But we did not want children. But they knocked
on our door with UNICEF cartons and chocolate
almonds. But we did not buy. But we bought.
But they wore soccer uniforms and ballet leotards
under their winter coats. But they sat in their mother’s
car as she dropped off the Avon. But we were surrounded by

pregnant women who grew round around

Or we could get a Pekingese. Give me children, or else I die.
Or a Siamese cat. Give me children, or else I die. Or we could
redecorate with glass and steel and pointy corners
in the best modern way. Give me children, or else I die. Or else
move to a ch-ching penthouse. Give me children,
or else I die.
Or throw parties and serve canapés. Give me
children, or else I die.
Or travel by train from farther to further
every spring. Give me children, or else I die. Or we could spend
the evenings counting our gold. Give me children, or else
I die.
Or become the cool aunt and uncle. Give me children,
or else I die.
Or sponsor a child or buy a goat. Give me children,
or else I die.
Or buy a hybrid or recycle more or run
a shelter or feed the poor or bike for cancer or knit for preemies

or else give me children or else give me children

Token Resistance

by John Ashbery

copyright ©2007 by John Ashbery

As one turns to one in a dream
smiling like a bell that has just
stopped tolling, hold out a book
and speaks: “All the vulgarity

of time, from the Stone Age
to our present, with its noodle parlors
and token resistance, is as a life
to the life that is given you. Wear it,”

so must one descend from checkered heights
that are our friends, needlessly
rehearsing what we will say
as a common light bathes us,

a common fiction reverberates as we pass
to the celebration. Originally
we weren’t going to leave home. But made bold
somehow by the rain we put our best foot forward.

Now it’s years after that. It
isn’t possible to be young anymore.
Yet the tree treats me like a brute friend;
my own shoes have scarred the walk I’ve taken.


by Don Paterson

copyright ©2015 by Don Paterson

O tell us more about your dad,
or why your second wife went mad,
or how it was you had no choice
but to give those men a voice;
sing that Cornish lullaby
you hush your kids with when they cry,
produce a boiled egg from your pocket,
a flageolet from your jacket,
expand on your idea that rhyme
is dead, or tell us of the time
you dropped your cellphone in the toilet;
a joke, a bird-call – please don’t spoil it,
go on with your brilliant proem!
Anything but read your poem.

Haunted Sonnet

by Hoa Nguyen

copyright ©2016 by Hoa Nguyen

Haunt lonely and find when you lose your shadow
secretive house centipede on the old window

You pronounce Erinyes as “Air-n-ease”
Alecto: the angry     Magaera: the grudging

Tisiphone: the avenger (voice of revenge)
“Women guardians of the natural order”

Think of the morning dream with ghosts
Why draw the widow’s card and wear the gorgeous

Queen of Swords crown        Your job is
to rescue the not-dead woman before she enters

the incinerating garbage chute     wrangle silver
raccoon power     Forever a fought doll

She said, “What do you know about Vietnam?”
Violet energy ingots     Tenuous knowing moment

The Wheelchair

by Michael Longley

copyright ©Michael Longley, 2014

Pushing you in your wheelchair to the sea
I look down at your yellowy bald patch
And recall your double-crown’s tufty hair.

You were the naughtier twin, were you not?
It was I who wept when you were chastised.
where am I pushing you, dear brother, where?

from A Part Song

by Denise Riley

copyright ©Denise Riley, 2016

What is the first duty of a mother to a child?
At least to keep the wretched thing alive – Band
Of fierce cicadas, stop this shrilling.

My daughter lightly leaves our house.
The thought rears up: fix in your mind this
Maybe final glimpse of her. Yes, lightning could.

I make this note of dread, I register it.
Neither my note nor my critique of it
Will save us one iota. I know it. And.

The Laugh

by Don McKay

copyright ©2004 by Don McKay

The inverse of language is like a laughter that seeks to destroy language, a laughter infinitely reverberated.
                              – EMMANUEL LEVINAS

The laugh that ate the snake and
runs through the city dressed in a sneeze, the mischief
done in these sly
passages of time, when the tongue is
severed from the voice and
fed to the weather, when the running
patter of catbirds simply
swallows the agenda, nothing to be held back,
nothing rescued in a catch-phrase or figure, your
house is on fire
and your children are gone.
When evenings pass as unseen
immaculate ships, and folk –
everyone is suddenly folk – rush to their porches
and lift their faces to this
effervescence of air,
                Wishing what?
Just wishing.

from My Dear Double

by Donald Nicholson-Smith, translating from the French by Abdellatif Laâbi

copyright ©English language copyright © Donald Nicholson-Smith, 2016

My double
an old acquaintance
whom I visit with moderation
He is a shameless fellow
who plays on my shyness
and has the knack of profiting
from my distractedness
He is the shadow
who follows or precedes me
aping my walk
He even winkles his way into my dreams
and speaks the language of my demons
Despite our close intimacy
he is still a stranger to me
I neither hate nor love him
for after all
he is my double
the proof by default
of my existence