Hunting for the Aurora

by David Atkinson


A coronal mass ejection
caused me to wake my son
at a quarter past midnight,
on a school night,
and wrap up him carefully,
to shut out the cold,
to keep an cosmic appointment
with electrons, plasma, and protons
that had travelled a hundred million miles
to meet us.

At Magheracross
we huddled for an hour,
hats pulled down, coats zipped up,
squinting at the horizon
for green, and red, and blue
arcs and curtains spiralling to the pole.
The groundswell of a distant
Atlantic storm, searching for a shore,
slammed on the cliff below,
and we saw nothing.

Then we stopped
looking north,
and looked up,
and I gave him Orion,
and he gave me the Plough,
and I gave him Jupiter,
gifts that had travelled more than
one hundred million miles.

His last words
before he fell asleep,
“If it was easy to find
it wouldn’t be so special”.

The Woman Made of Flowers

by Robert de Born


Did they weave a woman? A wife for him, winding
thin stems on a sturdy stone table,
muttering magic, make… legs?
make midriff, make arms
from lily stalks, lain awkwardly
down to draw dainty cuffs
from the tepals, to string the stamina into
fragile fingertips, flowering in Catholic

white…

did they whittle sweet william down
to be the pale pinkish pads under toenails,
deadhead red dianthus, neck
carnations for her nipples, craft
eyes from impossible pale poppies…

red roses for her cheeks, dark tulips for her hair…

Did they weave a wife, a woman for him, whispering
incantations in late answer to his prayer?

He thought they had;

bound her in a bed,
picked her petals to pieces, pared,
plucked out new colours, drew calendars…
loamy soil for the roses

and wire

enclosures.

And then Autumn.

He stood stock still to see

the teasels and the nettles
the yarrow and the campion
the burnets and the knapweed
that spilled themselves sunwards,

as she walked away
like a shadow from sunlight.

Did they weave a woman from the flowers?

No.

I wait,
with my cards, the magician, the fool,
less real than a dandelion’s bristles,
bewitched by wild orchids,
and the thorn

and the thistle.

An Aftertaste of Aniseed

by Robert de Born


An aftertaste of aniseed
and witch hazels has haunted me
with mastika astringency
from April through to February;
it feeds on me, it needles me,
it bleeds in through my memory,
it steals through my identity
(and whispers of the end of me)

since I was sat one afternoon
with a coffee and Laforgue’s pierrots
and, by the windowsill, a rose
picked in February, displayed in June,
and the rice-paper figures of his rhymes grotesque
as the shapelier ligaments of the spine’s burlesque
in a tabletop jig on a lined writing desk
rewrote all my poems and changed my address
when I saw, opposite, by the corrugated door
of a closed Sri Lankan restaurant
a woman who was stood there for
twenty minutes – maybe more -
waiting for a lover or confidante

with the beauty of a reliquary
her eyes and lips remain in me
as bittersweet as aniseed
the mouth pinched by astringency
in clustered lilac memory

And I was waiting for the poem
which shakes me like a marionette
to write itself in an alphabet
as strange to me as the mysticality
of the poem of her arms
and the psalms of her regret

my poem was a forgery
her date was an absentee
and as we both left separately
an aftertaste of aniseed
and witch-hazel inhaled me
and held us in some memory

of April’s lives and February’s

Lullaby, and Goodnight, Go to Sleep Little Baby

by Bonnie Roberts

(In the Holocaust, classical music was often played as people marched to their deaths in the gas ovens. The symphony was usually made up of fine Jewish musicians from the camps. The musicians who refused to play were murdered.)


Love, the tall mirror
we use
to see our little selves
all big and pretty.

The brute prison guard
we hire
to bring others in line,
to keep them locked up,
or away.

Love, the brass knuckle
that splits our lips when we tell the truth,
the unsanitary needle to thread cat-gut
for stitching lies together.

Love, the shiny ring that cuts off circulation.

The greatest lie ever told.

We are happy when she loses her right eye.
We are happy when it’s the other guy.
Just as long as it’s the other guy.

Love is the sweet, false Sunday croon
that eats windpipes
like cancer.

Love, the chocolate-chocolate cake,
fat with marshmallow poison.

Love is the hammer to the back of the head,
the love tap you never see coming.

The dime store towel to wipe up the mess.

Love, the head-shot coyote
who meant no one harm.
His brains hang out, spell L-O-V-E.

A nicer word for self-aggrandizement,
self-liking, self-licking.

Love, the obese who weep for the starving.

Hitler loves us all.
Hitler loves all the little children of the world.
Hitler did what love will do.

Love, the gas oven.

Today’s ashes rise
on a Brahms lullaby.

RWANDA

by Yomi Habib


Blood!Blood!Flows like rivers,
human beings slaughtered like chicken,
Dead coffins keep dancing on the street
They killed our mothers and and raped our girls giving them bastards;
Rwanda is where the clock of the sun was turned upside down,
smoking killers at gunpoint stole our diamonds,
the devil in their mind killed our tomorow,
They made us look like ants
In their cowardly act, they cleansed the Hutu’s,
they broke our backs and brainwashed our soul
where the bones cannot rise again
Ten million dead in genocide
where the bones cannot rise again
Unbreakable is our name and love is the chain the binds us together
Goodbye to the shores of the smelling refugees,
hunger was our brother and rags were our clothes,
sorry was not in their dictionary
and so the war ended in a stage of absurd,
but the secret of our tears cannot be forgotten,
that our heroism is the language that cannot be sold.

In Honour of General Obasanjo

by Yomi Habib


I have fought so many wars in a cloud of blood
Where soldiers refuse to dance on weapons
And rejecting to attack the souls on grounds of genocide
of which I saved the earth,
As hunger and the cries of motherhood save the walking corpses,
The wars have made me drive through the turbulent famished road,
Yet I have escaped the horrors of my brothers
In the nemesis of secession and ethnic cleasing,
Kill them all and make them lick their wounds
As the silence of breaking up stares at my face,
And I cannot behold the scandals of war memories
of those who survive the rivers of death
And the gods are crying in the graves of a brave men
who stopped the bloodshed of innocent ones
As I became a messiah in the hand of terrors.