not an unsalvageable wreck
where claws scrabble silent and blind

learning should fit as cosy
as a favourite pair of old shoes
that think nothing of walking on water

a bobbing cork
sensitive to nibble and chance
dipping to where things are

delightfully accidental on streets
where grass leaves spontaneous paint on feet
and conversation with a chance-upon in a bar
flows instinctively true

those more than knowing
where the nearest internet café is
in a strange town and safe accommodation
well away from the poorest quarter

too far in cold directions wintering in books
i’m guilty of failing my passions
(though passions are where i play)
and could wish i’d been dropped on my head
as a child or had someone clobber me
from a height with the King James Bible
or more definitive yet an entire set
of Encyclopaedia Britannica

if time’s kind
i’ll coast to comic in-between

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The first of a few ‘Poems from Portugal’ 2016

by John Smallshaw

An owl hoots,
a warning?
I head East into the thieves market,
lucky horseshoes for sale and without fail they are in good supply.
Make no mistake
as they take no prisoners here.
Passing through the untied shoelace of cobblestoned lanes
I spy the woman through a postage stamp window, barred as if franked by the mailman, she plays patience and always with two cards missing, an unwinnable task, but she’s old and if old becomes a memory then she becomes one too.
An ocean, (if red is the ocean) of slanted tiles stretch beyond my imagination into an expanding horizon, I
smell coffee and sit local to the river watching the elegance of Portuguese pigeons, it’s dreamlike in its quality.
This morning,
the earthquake shook me awake even though that was centuries ago and still the owl hoots.
Earlier outside the church of Santo Estaveo
I am bound to its steps by my own chains,
this will change as the sun which works by its own memory rises above the fishing boats.
So easy to be here and to fall into the trap
So easy to tap dance my way through the one eyed shadows that wink over the bay,
in the distance, a tram, a man and his day stay longer than this moment in time.
To close the eyes
clues and sighs
It’s a splendid life
and though full of lies at incredibly cheap prices the thieves market is the place to be wary.
Each shadow now stronger as the day becomes longer and the hours get shorter.
I have sought solace in this place and found peace from within,
is yet to find me.

Old Firs – A Poem by Danny Earl Simmons

Poetry Breakfast

Old Firs

I often eat lunch in Awbrey Park beside four crowded fir trees
leaning this way and that, as if not on speaking terms. These trees

are tall and weathered with brindled bark and the same wrinkled
scowls that line the hallways of old-folks homes. They’ve earned

the right to appear irritated by the fat gray squirrel fidgeting
along the arborvitae hedge. I imagine them wincing, remembering

all those generations of squirrels before him. I imagine them pursing
their lips, wondering how many more they will live to see. A crow flaps

from within their prickly branches; the wind blows. We five shiver
together as I stand, unstiffen, remind myself that they are only old firs.

About the Poet:
Danny Earl Simmons is an Oregonian and a proud graduate of Corvallis High School. He is a friend of the Linn-Benton Community College Poetry Club and currently serves on its…

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Fir Green

Veronica Aldous


Fir Green

The woods are holding the owls deep in their clefts
Their voices hollow out the dark blue void
Eyes shut, you are speaking to me, your warm hand
Enfolding the day’s essence,a  dark chocolate voice
Resonates in my heartwood
I hear it at night narrating some oaken verse
As though a man came out of the greenwood
And offered me a  mossy seat on a fallen tree
To tell me folk stories of golden maids
And violet charms that fall at midnight
A thread of silver seeps into a bird’s call
Bidding the forest to keep its secret.

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Friday Foto Talk: Shoot in Any Weather

MJF Images

A blustery cold winter morning at Joshua Tree National Park, California gave me the opportunity to shoot something I’ve always loved to see: spindrift in bright sunlight.

Occasionally I see someone post on Facebook or mention elsewhere that they are anxious for the weather to cooperate so that they can get out with their cameras.  They’ll say they are inside playing in Photoshop because the weather is keeping them from shooting, or that they’re looking forward to getting out when the weather finally improves this weekend.

The message for this post is very simple.  Quit making excuses and get out there!  Short of hurricanes, tornados, and other dangerous situations, there is really no weather that you can’t handle with clothing and gear.  Check out my series on winter photography for tips on how to protect yourself and your gear.

It’s springtime now in the northern hemisphere, and that means quickly changing…

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they got up in the dark
those early salt-cured men
to gouge another shovelful
pyramid the clay one day their fellow
incrementing an ordained hollow
brothers left would fill in
and mark with upright and horizontal

the ordinary fished and tilled
harvested wildflower honey
learning from the hive diligence
and the unimportance of individual
while the literate sat where the light was
and delved quilled illuminated visions

all came together at dusk
to chant pray eat in quiet
sweat of the hour dried by cool reflection
most content with dreams
scooping doubt from the heart
a few examining purpose and place
among the stars when flint-faced night
quarried again submission

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Distant drums

Bart Wolffe


The force of it, irresistible, urgent, pulling

From within where I had forgotten my heart once pounded.

It is only the night sound of drums,

Down there in the valley and the voices bursting with exclamation.

It could be any language but it speaks of dancing fires

That make the deep shadows torture themselves

As they circle and rise and fall

Stamping the earth, imprints of before the missionary hymnals

Replaced the sweat, coming to me from below the surface,

And yet I know this is only schoolboys on the playing field

Raising a war cry to their team in the safety of floodlights,

Not the thudding assegai, not the African dust

Nor am I able to be drawn into that forbidding darkness

That once made my neck hairs stand like a warrior army

Ready for battle, nor will I go back but I cannot forget.

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How to get lost

Bart Wolffe


My feet will lead my eyes. Beyond the human boundaries

The forest awaits. Not just the careful step meandering

Over fallen trunk that hides its jewels beneath the moss

But hands might learn again to find the fungi and the fern

And contact this wordless world of wonderment.

This is a map, multi-dimensional in colour and shape,

Its edges articulate as each scalloped leaf of the holly

Beaten out of green metal, a badge worn through every season.

Now is the beginning of the budding, small nubs swell

And squirrels nibble at them for sustenance.

The beech is pointing arrow heads from each spiked twig.

Sometimes, you might encounter a new inhabitant

That spins a yarn between the hawthorn’s angles

Dangling on the wind, a shivered thing,

Or some small louse, miniscule passenger of the forest floor

Whispering six small sticks as it scurries from a…

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Two for Tuesday: Close-up Signs of Spring

MJF Images

Orange globe mallow in bloom. Orange globe mallow in bloom.

Yesterday was the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere.  So in celebration here’s a Two for Tuesday post.  It’s where I post two photos that are related to each other in some way.

This pair shows a couple closely related signs of Spring.   During a splendid hike through a desert canyon recently, the season was springing forth in typical desert fashion.  Spring rarely bowls you over in the desert.  But the closer you look the more you see.  It’s why both of these are close-up shots.

The hummingbird surprised me at first when he buzzed by my head, looking straight at me hovering a couple feet away before zooming off to perch on his branch.  I wondered why he was there at first, but then walkiaround I found a spring with some flowers blooming.  In fact the further up the little draw I walked the more like…

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I hear the church bells ringing
And the birds take flight into the cold spring skies
And of all the things that I wish to do
I want to know what it is like to soar with you
Through the mundane things of this world

Because masturbation is not love
Pornography is not love
Equality is not love

Love is free from our imagination
As free as the rain that falls from the heavens
Mountains valleys oceans alleys
She can not be rented nor invented nor paused

So forget about yesterday and tell me about now
What brings you pure joy

Copyright © Nomzi Kumalo, 2016.

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