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fathers and what must be said




NOW, while it is darkest, JUMP

off the gray carousel.

The horses are still,

and their wrinkled keeper dozes

in his cane bottomed chair.


This is the hour graves gape,

and sleepers twist in their chains.

There is no moon, but the stars

cast their wan messages of light

like bottles drifting over cold fathoms.


All the people and places you never touched

open their pale morning faces for you.

You reach out, but you are so slow

night sucks you back like an empty phrase

from a long distance telephone call.


But tonight I am restless. As you pass

I feel the brush of bony fingers on my wrist.



Bradley R Strahan







          From the Heart with Grace 


          Wind, who yearns to be savored,

          offers me three cups overflowing

          with eternity, daemon of insight.

          The opportune encounter enraptures quintessential

          distress, ruffles estranged quietude,

          kindles a jeud'esprit, glücklic heReise,

          propels the fervent fragrance

          of heliotrope, hyacinth and honeysuckle.

          The tremulous hibiscus taunts me to warm climates,

          reminds me I remain a thistle, resilient,

          rooted in Mediterranean Celtic fringe.


          Do you remember a language older

          than time, when a shiver down my mother's

          spine was worth a thousand words

          and the melancholy in my father's eyes,

          reflecting Lake Geneva, was indecipherable?

          There unbeknownst to me

          in a world inhabited by swans,

          I too swim in concentric circles

          to find the resonance of my core

          and discover that in dreaming

          lies the healing of earth. In dreaming

          we travel to a place where all is forgiven.

          In dreaming is the Divine created.


          And the great Oneness whispers ex-voto,

          I am centaur by any other name,

          I am griffin by any other name,

          I am mermaid by any other name,

          my raison d'être insubstantial, chameleon,

          excavated like a talisman from wreckage,

          resplendent fresco catapulted

          beyond whimsical metamorphic frontiers.



          Hélène Cardona








Wood-smoking warm
early autumn days,
the dampness of the leaves
and me,
trying to light the fire
giving up
and dousing it with petrol,
more than once I singed my hands.

That time I stuck the chainsaw in the tree
me, and Dad,
he had to pull the tree down with the tractor,
we laughed,
there was such a crack
as it fell.

Wood-smoking warm
early autumn days,
lazily collecting the wood
coughing as the wind turned,
smoke choked eyes,
sitting on the woodpile
tea from the thermos,
all of this
these small things

Laughing at the jokes
my father told,
the love,
the warmth of the fire against my face,
sitting in the back of the tractor,


bumping home,
this soft love
is where I begin.

Wood-smoking warm
early autumn days,
quiet times spent with my father,

These gentle times
these small things,



Si Philbrook



I only want to say goodbye again

and call you back to the bus.


Wishing you had not scrambled up

its stairs like a Spring chicken

to show me your heart was still in it.


If only other words had been

our last goodbye before

the street below consumed you.


I rubbed my breath from the window.

You opened a black umbrella across an ashen face

denying the rain its final kiss.


Fighting the wind along the city quay,

walking to your end and for always

away from me.



Alan Halford



when my father

walked out of the house

and into his head

we could hear the door slam shut


we did not see him again

but there would be

the occasional note

reminding us that people

who take long holidays

cannot be trusted


the colours changed

a clear blue made its way onto the walls

and our toenails acquired

a distinctly green undertone


we got to see birds in a different way

although we forgot their names

we collected the snails that touched us most

and piled them up on the kitchen table

we straightened our shoulders

and discovered our necks


then we were told to climb the mountain

that had appeared next to our house

and so we did one tuesday morning

as we got higher the wind peeled off our clothes

and our skins learned a new language

they became rather fluent

back home we got rid of the books

and sat on a rug listening

to the world knocking patiently on our door



Saskia Stehouwer

Lies my Father told


He kept a diary

Who would have thought it

Of a tough old guy like him

It reflected his strength, his wit and his gentle irony

It was several journals actually

Entries in the latter years of his life

Although the pages were dated

I could tell from living at home

That there were periods of time

Unaccounted for

I read them after he died



Trepidatious as to what I’d find

In death

As in life

I found he was a bigger man than his frame

Never writing a bad word

About one of  “his boys”



Jim Hart


for my father


I want to memorize this

our time together – what we did

without her there to tell me

You wouldn’t want this life

you’re not cut out for it – and me

the child holding the reins of an unruly horse

as you took off its shoe and examined its foot

before putting the new one in place

for riding far away – from the dirt I had pulled carrots

shaped like mandrakes – or had stolen sour apples

that fell beneath the huge tree where yellow and green

caterpillars hung like earrings in the twilight – or sugar

I’d taken from the box in the pantry when she wasn’t looking.

It was a fortune of smuggled goods

with which to win them over

to keep them still and nudging me for more

while you attended to their hooves.


She still tells me what to do

miraculously knows if I’ve lost something

she has given me – as I should only like

what she had – and I don’t care – I take these

things – and wait for prescience to cover me

like a blanket – she misses you – and wants to die.

You are in every dream she has – they fill her up

to being young – and upon waking she reaches backwards

to you – left only with the bed half empty.

I’m dying to be honest

and sit her down to listen finally to me

to see me as I truly am – it’s almost hopeless

and I cannot bear her cursing in three languages

for all the good it does her – it sends me into silence.

I’ve chartered the stars to find the constellation

of forgiveness – its open milky light inviting me forward

to resurrection – to love – to the familiar made over

against the odds of time and space.

I’ve memorized this, now, the young girl, her long hair

slipping from the braids – the mandrake carrot in her open

hand, the unruly horse tamed and looking at her

with trusting eyes and her blacksmith father

whispering in Russian,

Hold him – hold him tight.



Anne Elezabeth Pluto



When you come to me

One long, lone day

You’re going to take your stand

You’ll want to declare yourself

You’ll need to make me see


As I see you now

Taking shape before me

I know when you become

The man you will be

You will see me for the man I am


No more icon

No more standard

Now equal


Equally bewildered

By this spinning, multi-colored life

Equally willing to grab on

And take what comes


When you come to me then

My son

I will be ready



Michael H Clay

Food from the Grave


The knock on the door brought death,

and you brought your shovel

to dig into the eight by four,

for the misfortune who’d passed,

not just buried in mud and clay,

but also the sweat from your brow.


I see the modern machines

doing the same work in a fraction.

But it doesn’t ever stop,

for just one moment,

to say a prayer

for the soul of the departed

and whisper a quiet word of thanks,

that his family was fed that week.



Marie O’Halloran



You scamper through my dream

like the white rabbit, a little man

wrapped in towels and scarves,

a look of frantic purpose about you,

scurrying like a lost toddler –

but you don’t see me. You are old,

very old, and must get across

this crowded mall before it’s too late.

I must deliver a lecture soon,

so clearly I’m important. For a moment

I believe this nonsense, hesitate

to go after you, then do so at a sprint.

Wait. I know who you are.


But you’re quick and I can’t catch you.

Surely you’re blind but right now

you don’t seem so, twisting past legs

and shopping bags like some crazed lizard,

ever on the edge of collapse

but never quite falling. Just once a slip

but you’re up again, dodging, and I’m afraid,

and then we’re through revolving doors

into some cavernous hotel foyer

slick with polished tile, gleaming

with wealth and opulence, and you’re

still running, arms waving, a little boy.

Help me, help me! You call, but nobody comes or turns.

I’m desperate to catch you

before you plunge headlong and fall,

before that old gasping breathlessness,

before that final panic. Wait, please wait!


I’ve almost reached you when you go down,

no purchase possible any more,

and I’m hurtling across the floor,

sliding, sliding towards you, holding you.

Do you recognise us, Dad,

do you see who we are?


But the terror wakes me, and still I don’t know.


Harry Owen

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