Jungle

 

Jungle

poems and stories 


   scroll down to read poems and stories in our

Summer  Strand

 growing weekly from June 2019

 

meet the poets and writers


Jeff Schiff

Sarah Doyle

Stephen Bone

L. Kiew

Allen Ashley

Finola Scott

 

Mandy Macdonald

Elaine Baker

 

Alun Robert

Mangal Patel

Gerard Sarnat

Steve Carr

 

John Davies

Jane Lovell

Sue Burge

 

Max Dunbar

M.D. Kerr

Jeanine Pfeiffer

.

Alison Lock

.

Jungle

 

soundeffects bbc.co.uk©copyright2019BBC

 


Our first poem for summer is by Jeff Schiff

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Schiff is the author of That hum to go by (Mammoth Books, 2012), Mixed DictionBurro Heart, The Rats of Patzcuaro, The Homily of Infinitude, and Anywhere in this Country. His work has appeared internationally in more than eighty periodicals, including The Alembic, Grand Street, The Ohio Review, Poet & Critic, The Louisville Review, Tendril, Pembroke Magazine, Carolina Review, Chicago Review, Hawaii Review, Southern Humanities Review, River City, Indiana Review, Willow Springs,and The Southwest Review. He has been a professor in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago since 1987.

Jeff Schiff – The Jungle Rises

 

 

 

The Jungle Rises

 

 

 

There where the croaking

        rises from the inchoate

                and vestigial

 

There in the palpable horizon

        in globule & rivulet

                in the hemorrhagic gush

 

slimy

        beyond absorption

                There in the moldy coalescence

 

and vaporous ooze

        in the nameless viscosities

                and horrific bobbings

 

There in the leaping

        venomous

                yellow toadiness

 

and billion undiscovered emetics

        noteworthy toxins

                tongued forth

 

and spittled to the heart

        There where all are forced

                to dwell in their hirsute

 

creature bags

        There

                where none can vanquish

 

their squirmings

        their greenest genesis

                There

 

the jungle rises

        through cress

                through spiky palmetto

 

through everything we cannot hold at bay

 

 

Jeff Schiff

 

I was paddling by Jeff Schiff

Notes from the Black Walnut Kingdom by Jeff Schiff

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Doyle is the Pre-Raphaelite Society’s Poet-in-Residence. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway College, University of London, and has been published widely in magazines, journals and anthologies. She won first prize in the WoLF Poetry Competition and Holland Park Press’s Brexit in Poetry 2019; was a runner-up in the Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize 2019; and was highly commended in the Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoetry and in the Best Single Poem category of the Forward Prizes 2018. She is (with Allen Ashley) co-editor of Humanagerie, an anthology of animal-inspired poetry and fiction published by Eibonvale Press in 2018. Sarah is currently researching a PhD in the poetics of meteorology at Birmingham City University.

www.sarahdoyle.co.uk

Sarah Doyle – City Gull

 

 

City Gull

 

 

 

 

 

has no taste for fish, unless it’s battered, fried,

vinegar-drenched – and spilling, half-eaten,

from an overfull dustbin. He’s never caught

 

a herring in his life. He settles on streetlamps

as if they were, for all the world, crows’ nests,

and has no notion of the winds that brought

 

his ancestors here, generations ago. City Gull

was born to the smoke, an urban hatchling,

streetwise and ready-mapped, no need to be taught

 

the wheres and hows of the complex crisscross

that spreads beneath him. He is all Cockney

birth-right, rough and ready squawks wrought

 

from a hawker’s gullet. He is king of the tip,

lord of landfill, dines royally on detritus and

shits where he pleases, wasting no thought

 

on the paintwork of cars. City Gull wonders,

sometimes, at his webbed feet, the splashy clatter

on allotment shed roofs during his clumsy halt.

 

He does not understand why, when his A-to-Z

synapses know only this city, he wakes from

strange dreams where the air tastes of salt.

 

 

 

Sarah Doyle

 

 

Corn Dolly by Sarah Doyle

Wintering by Sarah Doyle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen Bone’s first collection, In the Cinema, was published by Playdead Press in 2014, followed by a pamphlet, Plainsong (Indigo Dreams Publishing 2018).

 

Stephen Bone – Ode to a Giant Waterlily

 

 

Ode to a Giant Waterlily

 

 

 

Beneath

the moon, you flower

bridal white.

Gigantic Amazonian

enticing scarabs

to enter

the warm perfumery

of your heart,

offer a nectar banquet

in return for pollen

smothered backs.

A petalled jailor,

your guzzling suitors

caged, until next evening

as a magenta dandy

you unlock the soft gates,

then sink yourself

on your second day

to the shadowed depths.

Leftover

from primordial pools,

your stork leg stalks

and undersides barbed

fiercely as an iron maiden.

Your floating pads,

stepping stones

for Lily Trotters, sunbeds

for caimans. Vast green

salvers on which to serve

a grinning child.

 

Stephen Bone

 

Sundews by Stephen Bone

 

 

 

 

 

A Chinese-Malaysian living in London, L. Kiew earns her living as an accountant. She holds an MSc in Creative Writing and Literary Studies from Edinburgh University. Her debut pamphlet The Unquiet came out with Offord Road Books in February 2019.

L. Kiew – Breath Unspools

 

 

Breath Unspools

 

I unzip the door of lianas, step

through, casting off the city;

rain threads tarmac.

Shrive-light braids the canopy and

here seedlings weave welcome.

 

Green mantles the dusk pool,

is a sprung floor for jiving

mosquitos and water beetles.

Cicadas syncopate,

come the dark.

 

The moon sets moth traps

for new velvets,

beating devoré

and the hushed weft

of a deathhead’s wings.

 

 

L. Kiew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allen Ashley is co-editor with Sarah Doyle of the anthology Humanagerie (Eibonvale Press, UK, 2018). He has work due soon in publications from Black Hare Press, NewCon Press and the British Fantasy Society. He has previously appeared twice on the Words for the Wild website. His next book will be as editor of The Once and Future Moon (Eibonvale Press) – due late 2019.

Allen Ashley – The Teatime Tarzan

 

 

 

Blithely oblivious, as a child, to the dodgy

cultural politics of the source material

with the white man as noble savage

and secret peer of the realm, I

simply watched “Tarzan” for adventure.

 

And I’m the kid in the grey flannel

school shorts and white aertex vest

aping that 5 note ululation

and banging my scrawny chest –

but not too hard, for fear of cavities

and quicksand.

There’s always quicksand.

 

No hanging liana vines in Finchley

with which to swing my way through

the suburban jungle, just a few horse

chestnut trees on the common,

their bases prone to dog mess. But

at least they’re in colour;

Tarzan’s jungle was always black and white

and not just because of the monochrome TV.

 

Now I think: How is he so toned

and are those Y-fronts beneath the loincloth?

And why does he never show dirt or sweat

from the exertion of beating the bad guy?

Even back then, I found it annoying

that he called his Chimpanzee “Cheta”.

I had one called “Jacko”. A toy.

 

All adventures ended by

Mother’s ululation:

“Come in now, it’s time

for tea. And your programme’s on.”

 

Leave riding the lions and trapping the trappers

to another day. Wipe your feet

on the doormat. Or maybe step over it

with exaggerated care. It might be

quicksand. There’s always

quicksand.

 

 

Allen Ashley

 

Greetings from the British Countryside by Allen Ashley

Wildflo Wers by Allen Ashley

 

 

 

 

 

Elaine Baker mentors young writers in her role as Patron of Writing in local schools. She runs a poetry evening class and has taught at The Poetry School, London. Elaine is currently Poet in Residence at the Vale & Downland Museum, Wantage, Oxfordshire. She enjoys performing her poetry and has collaborated with musicians the Oxford Improvisers. Her poetry has been widely published including in Proletarian Poetry, Envoi, Mslexia, Brittle Star and The North. She has an MA in Writing Poetry.

Twitter: @kitespotter

www.elaine-baker.com.

Elaine Baker – The Help

 

I am the Help. You need me

so I’m squeezing through

this narrow gap. See

how I compress, who knew

 

my head could shrink

like this! And it throb

throbs so fat I think

it can’t possibly fit

 

through that gap

but it does, and I know

this because as I collapse

I see the rest of me

 

go past: deflated dummy.

And when I hear me speak

I’m a bad juggler. Un-

funny. I think that I might

 

be some kind of

girl with a tail and a pin

in her hand, blind,

reaching for the flat animal

 

while everyone looks on.

Stretching out I feel around,

guess this is the wrong

side of the gap so I

 

start to use my eyes

but then I hear: Help

and I’m turning inside

out as you push me

 

back my hair stuffing

into my torso

my nails locking

into my palms.

 

 

Elaine Baker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finola Scott is widely published including in Gutter, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Ofi Press and The Fenland Reed. Recently she won the Blue Nib Chapbook competitions and was runner up in Coast to Coast’s pamphlet competition. Her pamphlet is forthcoming from Red Squirrel this winter. Her poetry can be found on fb at Finola Scott Poems.

Finola Scott – The girl who can talk to birds

 

The girl who can talk to birds 

 

 

 

 

strides into the forest. Her unicorn bag

packed with toy bread, sea shells,

magnifying glass, she’s prepared.

In dapple-brightness she stops and

whistles. Her special whistle. The one

the birds know. The one she taught them.

A hornbill trumpets reply. She smiles.

Baby-boned arms outstretched, she twirls

and calls. Flap your wings birdies then up,

up she flutters all spangles and pink tutu.

Perched cloud high she canopy-dances,

in flurries of macaws and toucans.

 

 

Finola Scott

 

A version was previously published in Play Anthology, Paper dart Press 2018.

                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alun Robert was born in Scotland of Irish ancestry. He is a prolific creator of lyrical verse. Of late, he has achieved success in poetry competitions and featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web.

Alun Robert – No Return To Varoşa 

 

 

 

No Return To Varoşa

 

 

 

 

 

Varoşa : once glamorous holiday resort now at the eastern extremity

          of the Cyprus Forbidden Zone guarded by the United Nations

 

Yasak Bölge Girilmez : Forbidden Zone created after the

          1974 division of Cyprus into Turkish & Greek sectors

 

Behind rusting barbed wire

graffitied corrugated iron

with Yasak Bölge Girilmez

signs of blood scarlet

read by diasporics longing

hoping, dreaming

Their Wait

while just out of sight

armed guards goosestep

up from the twinkling Med

with kilometers of empty beaches

engaging the prom

 

to The Jungle

 

concrete, imposing

multiple floors high crumbling

overgrown with verdant asps

strewn with sand grains massed

populated by stray mongrels

chasing feral Van cats

en pursuit of vermin

the rattus rattus of death

but devoid of turista

in kafe, bistro, ôtel

now as dark through the day

as from crepuscular to dawn

where Bardot, Taylor, Welch

Their Set

once smouldered with chic

blinded by faux-light, while

a sylvia melanothorax warbles

as ripe effluent stinks

almost half a century gone

yet not a step closer.

 

 

Alun Robert

 

After Roger Deakin by Alun Robert

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Doyle is the Pre-Raphaelite Society’s Poet-in-Residence. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway College, University of London, and has been published widely in magazines, journals and anthologies. She won first prize in the WoLF Poetry Competition and Holland Park Press’s Brexit in Poetry 2019; was a runner-up in the Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize 2019; and was highly commended in the Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoetry and in the Best Single Poem category of the Forward Prizes 2018. She is (with Allen Ashley) co-editor of Humanagerie, an anthology of animal-inspired poetry and fiction, published by Eibonvale Press in 2018. Sarah is currently researching a PhD in the poetics of meteorology at Birmingham City University.

www.sarahdoyle.co.uk

Sarah Doyle – Via-Vulpes 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

street-fox is

 

brindle-backed beggar

omnivorous opportunist

singer of street-songs    sodium lit

disdainer of dogs

big-town barker

shitter of garden-shingle shit

 

street-fox is

 

switch-tail swagger

flash-harry-feral

shifty smoothy    shed invader

vagabond-venal

bin-bag bandit

take-away detritus raider

 

street-fox is

 

cautious cartography

city-savvy

private pavement pitter-patter

finders-forager

roughneck riff-raff

champion charmer    chat-up chatter

 

street-fox is

 

canal-bank-carnal

vulnerable-vicious

predator     prey     pest    player

rusty robber

fighter and fucker

stinker    stalker     long-term-stayer

 

street-fox is

 

 

Sarah Doyle

 

Corn Dolly by Sarah Doyle

Wintering by Sarah Doyle

City Gull by Sarah Doyle

 

 

 

 

 

Jane Lovell is an award-winning poet whose work is steeped in natural history, science and folklore. Her latest collection is This Tilting Earth published by Seren. Jane also writes for Elementum Journal. She is currently Writer-in-Residence at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and runs the Mid Kent Stanza group for the Poetry Society.

Jane Lovell – Biophilia

 

 

Biophilia

 

The light is green, synthetic.

 

It steals between leaves, over floors,

breezes up walls, remembers last night’s

rainfall, its traces of fluorescence.

 

Flashes of colour shriek below domed

ceilings, land on far balconies, curl

around ropes of ivy, dip and preen.

 

We gather strange, nameless fruits

from designated trees.

Revolving orbs resume their humming.

 

Bewitched by cool beams of chloro-lamps,

luna moths descend from the canopy,

dissolve us in their whirring phosphorescence.

 

No one will find us here.

From outside we are barely visible:

just glimpses between fronds and fans of leaf,

 

our paths eclipsed by mighty tigers.

 

Jane Lovell

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sue Burge is a freelance creative writing and film studies tutor based in North Norfolk.  Her poems have appeared in wide range of magazines and anthologies.  Sue’s first collection In the Kingdom of Shadows (Live Canon) was published in November 2018 alongside her debut pamphlet Lumiere (Hedgehog Poetry Press).  More information at

Sue Burge – Zone

 

 

Zone 

 

after Irina Mashinski

 

 

 

 

 

a week or so before the year pivots

     & December closes, like a coffin lid,

over the unnourished land;

     & hush now, here come

the bootless, the shoeless, the buttonless,

     curling their bony blue toes

over ice, spread like a punched-in

     windscreen over the wide fields;

beyond the treeline is the Border,

     gorgeous where the plumdark sky

sinks below the earth’s ooze;

     there is nothing here

you will recognise, not even this silver birch

     hanging like a smashed limb;

here’s a rusting bike wheel, the torn canopy

     of a fragile and long-ago plane –

others have tried this –

     mud on their soles, their eyelids,

arms outstretched as if a loved one

     were waiting, casting a short, cold

shadow across the shifting Border;

     the moon rises, a brief howl of light,

before clouds trawl a darkness deeper

     than the childhood wells we drank from.

 

 

Sue Burge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alun Robert was born in Scotland of Irish ancestry. He is a prolific creator of lyrical verse. Of late, he has achieved success in poetry competitions and featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web.

Alun Robert – Undertones 

 

 

Undertones

 

 

 

 

 

dank

pungent

growling

terra shaking

another tree dead

taken by the throat

 

big bucks passed

under tables of ipê

logging despatched anywhere

nobody cares

 

apart from the indigenous

feeling every blade

every slice is to their torso

every axe is in their axillae

with every day passing

every cut cuts deeper

 

for once there was jungle

for hunting, for commerce

for stomachs to fill

for children to grow

to replicate and learn

 

where plants existed

where flowers bloomed

where animals frolicked

where insects infested

where reptiles ravaged

where mocking birds sang

 

yet vultures hover

more forest devastation

another clearing in prospect

more canopy gone

 

taken by the throat

another tree dead

terra shaking

growling

pungent

dank

 

 

Alun Robert

 

No Return To Varoşa by Alun Robert 

After Roger Deakin by Alun Robert 

 

 

 

 

 

Mandy Macdonald is an Australian writer and musician living in Aberdeen who is trying to make sense of the 21st and earlier centuries. Her poems can be seen in many anthologies and journals – most recently Noon (Arachne, 2019), Multiverse (Shoreline of Infinity, 2019), The Curlew (Spring 2019) and The Poet’s Republic(Issue 7, 2019). Mandy writes in the strong hope that poetry can change the world, even just a little. When not writing, she makes music and gardens.

Mandy Macdonald – Siesta at the botanical gardens 

 

 

Siesta at the botanical gardens

 

Leafstorm of lorikeets,

a shock of green noise,

rips up the sky.

Starling chatter

of schoolchildren,

 

yellow-capped,

on the lawn. Birdless,

the bamboo glade rustles

 

and frets. Glistening silky husks

drop, tumble

like little paper skiffs

down the fountain’s stone curlicues.

 

Unkempt, autumnal, the grass

hides wonders. A tiny spider

explores her continents of green,

a banded wasp forages

among fallen twigs,

 

just by my grounded eye.

I frog-kick my way up

through fathoms of discarded dreams

to the leaf-litter of the day.

 

 

Mandy Macdonald

 

My America by Mandy Macdonald

 

 

 

 

 

Born in India, Mangal Patel has lived in London, UK since her early childhood. She loves creative writing which she took up after retiring as a Director of IT. Her work has been published on the web and in a number of anthologies. She writes for the pleasure it gives her and hopes her readers enjoy her work.

Mangal’s husband and twins are her source of joy and keep her smiling.

Mangal Patel – Last in Line 

 

 

Last in Line

 

The elder lions are always there before us. Their claws tear at tough skin letting out a stream of wet red that reaches as far as the fringes of the frenzy where we wait. Low growls warn us to wait our turn but close on our tails prowl hyenas who will settle for one of us cubs if the carcass proves too difficult to steal away.

Between the ferocious tussling a gap appears giving the largest and quickest an opportunity to squeeze through and grasp a morsel. It’s more of a lick as our mouths and teeth are too small to do more than slide across the still, pulsating meal.

“Life is unfair,” I meow but above the roars of the pride my grumbles are ignored. Worse still, I am swatted away by the flick from a punishing tail. Landing too close to the predators circling this feast, I yelp in terror. This time my mother catches the scent of my plight. Her body taut; her ears strained; she narrows her eyes and stares at the hyena pack.

A rumbling roar halts the elders’ guzzling. I cower behind sun-bleached grass as tension ripples between my clan and the enemy. Time stands as still as the frozen stances taken by the two groups. Eyes are locked. Hardly a breath breaks the silence.

Then, a tiny sneeze from within the hyena pack reminds them of their own cubs. Both sides have much to lose. Time for a stand down, live another day, fight another night decide the leaders. As the hyenas slink away, I scamper back to the fold and fall patiently behind the others to feed.

 

 

Mangal Patel

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Davies’ New & Selected Poems was recently published by Kingston University Press in the UK and by Red Hen Press in the USA. His work is included in Poemish and Other Languages, an anthology of eco-poetry published by Elephant Press in 2019. Born in Birmingham, John now lives in Brighton. 

John Davies – The overgrown path 

 

I meet these characters in

clearings edged with mist,

on paths through bracken,

their heads swathed in rags

like soldiers from the front.

Scarce words are said.

Beyond the swish of wind

I often hear a cry and stop

to ponder.

 

When safe inside our cabin

in the woods, blessed by pets

and your presence, the figure

in the bed, surrounded by our

children, sheets still warm,

pale butter on the table,

the smell of coffee and

baking on the air,

you wonder

 

why I seem so ill at ease

and though I laugh, so

rarely celebrate. I guess

a part of me can’t believe

it’s true or isn’t here, or

can’t forget the sizzle of

raindrops on leaves, the

tramp of feet through trees.

 

John Davies

 

First published in the pamphlet The Nutter in the Shrubbery, published by Pighog Press, 2007.

 

Poems

Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Carr, who lives in Richmond, Virginia, has had over 360 short stories published internationally in print and online magazines, literary journals, reviews and anthologies since June, 2016. Five collections of his short stories, Sand, Rain,Heat,The Tales of Talker Knock and 50 Short Stories: The Very Best of Steve Carr, have been published. His paranormal/horror novel Redbird was released in November, 2019. His plays have been produced in several states in the U.S. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize twice. His Twitter is @carrsteven960. His website is https://www.stevecarr960.com/

Steve Carr – A Jungle Out There 

 

 

A Jungle Out There

 

 

 

 

 

 

My friend, Dan, who stays hidden in his apartment most of the time, told me, “It’s a jungle out there.”

“Are you referring to any specific jungle?” I asked.

“It’s all a jungle, wherever you go, it stinks,” he answered.

“Stinks like the fragrances of orchids and bromeliads, or stinks like the aroma of the mossy ground where ferns grow, or like the oranges, bananas and mangoes that hang from the tree branches?” I said.

“No, I mean it’s dangerous. The noise alone will kill you,” he said.

“Do you mean the noise of the hornbills in the  kapok trees when they emit their raspy calls or brightly colored macaws perched on the branches squawk incessantly, or are you referring to the full-throated cries of howler monkeys that reverberate through the Amazonian rain forest?” I replied.

He pointed to the shade pulled down over the window.  “C’mon, you know what I mean,” he said. “It’s nothing but a swamp out there.”

I peeked out the window and then turned to him and said, “I guess you could refer to a school of hatchet fish leaping in and out of the river as being swamp-like, or maybe the brush, vines, ficus, and rubber trees that line the banks as looking like a swamp.”

“You’re missing my point entirely,” he said. “It’s a very scary place out there.”

“I guess capuchin and squirrel monkeys that populate the foliage and branches and jump to the edge of the tree limbs and chatter and squeal loudly are kinda scary,” I conceded. “Brilliantly colored dragonflies and large neon-blue morpho butterflies are pretty frightening also.”

His face reddened. “You’re twisting my words,” he said. “There are things lurking about out there just waiting for you to lower your defenses.”

I nodded in agreement. “Yes, you do have to watch out for the crocodiles that bask in the mud and crawl in and out of the water, and the green anaconda can seem pretty threatening,” I said. “But they’re part of the jungle ecosystem, just like the spiders, gnats and mosquitoes that live there.”

He looked at me, a puzzled expression on his face. “What are you talking about?” he asked.

“The jungle out there,” I said.

 

Steve Carr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeanine Pfeiffer is devoted to the celebration and conservation of biocultural diversity: the intrinsic connections between nature and culture. An ethnoecologist with over 30 years’ experience in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, Dr. Pfeiffer is a senior lecturer at San José State University and a scientific advisor to government, tribal, non-profit and community-based organization. Chapters from her book-in-progress, ‘The Language of Endangered Hearts’, have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, anthologized, and published in the Bellevue Literary Review, Hippocampus, The Guardian, High Country News, Camas, The Citron Review, The Portland Review, Flyway, Between the Lines, Langscape, Medium, Inverted Syntax, Silver Needle Press, Sky Island Journal, The Lowestoft Chronicles and Nowhere. Her poetry has been featured on Dan Robert’s radio show, Rhythm Running River, on Mendocino County Public Broadcasting station KZYX&Z. More at www.jeaninepfeiffer.com 

Jeanine Pfeiffer – Of Fur Not Fowl  

 

 

Of Fur Not Fowl

(Or, How Not to Catch a Tiger)

 

 

 

 

 

Field Methodology:

  1. Schedule a bird walk in Bardia National Park, home to the second-highest density of Panthera tigris (Bengal tiger) in Nepal  [i].
  2. Arise late. Neglect to drink coffee before departing.
  3. Greet the guides waiting outside the lodge: one binocular-wielding-bird-enthusiast younger brother, one bamboo-pole-wielding-tiger-enthusiast elder brother.
  4. Set off as a threesome on a brisk hike into the forest.
  5. Minutes later, immersed in somnambulant greenery, appreciate each watery splash and cracked twig penetrating overly-sensitized eardrums.
  6. Train one’s binoculars on a riverside kingfisher, veiled by early morning fog.
  7. Lured by the placid setting, think, “this is exactly why I wanted to come on a bird walk!”
  8. Jolt into wakefulness by sudden shriek-barking.

8a. Register short, sharp cries increasing in intensity, followed by the shrrwwsh-shrwwshhh-shrswwshh-shrsswwhhing of terrified ungulates slamming through the underbrush.

 8b. Note when all the sounds stop.

  1. Pause.
  2. Re-focus on the kingfisher, tracing its wingtips and beak through the gauzy mist.
  3. Extend one’s nerdness and idiocy long enough to lose both guides.
  4. Awaken a third time.
  5. Execute a trembling, 360-degree turn, taking in the ominous crunch of lone sneakers on an empty path.
  6. Calculate one’s probability of becoming prey while standing still vs. becoming prey while running after the brother-guides.

14a. Compare, in the fuzzy recesses of one’s mind, the known density of tigers per square kilometer with the expected density of multiple feline species in the immediate vicinity.

14b. Multiply zero data by zero choice. Lose precious seconds weighing non-options.

14c. Self-bifurcate: one half laughing at the absurdity; the other half deeply anxious.

14d. Allow the anxious half to win. Hot foot it out of there.

  1. Follow, at a quick trot, skid marks made across the soft sand forest floor.

15a. Midstride, congratulate oneself on successfully tracking a deer-dragging kitty.

15b. Microseconds later, drop the pretentiousness: what the hell lies at the other end?

  1. Halt abruptly when the tracks terminate at a massive thicket of brambles.

16a. Behold body-sized openings yawning randomly around the thicket’s base.

16b. Observe one’s guides pacing intently around the thicket.

16c. Recall that felines are known to store prey in arboreal settings.

  1. Absorb the brothers’ conclusion: kitty is an Asian leopard, Panthera pardus fusca, 40-60 kilograms of highly strung, carnivorous muscle, as opposed to Panthera tigris, 200-300 kilograms of highly strung, carnivorous, [hu]man-eating muscle.
  2. Thank the Nepali deity Durga[ii] for a bloodless reunion (thus far).
  3. Abandon relief when snarled warnings vibrate through the bramble. Leopards stash their kill in trees, a sort of elevated snack shack. We could become that snack.
  4. Estimate new probabilities: the odds of a hungry, pissed-off leopard choosing offensive tactics vs. the odds of a hungry, pissed-off leopard choosing defensive maneuvers.
  5. Attempt a feeble joke. (“Um, uh, can’t we let kitty finish her breakfast?”)
  6. Retain one’s composure even as the brother-guides continue circling the bramble, muttering goddess-knows-what to each other and randomly thicket-thwacking.
  7. Experiment with alternate phrasing. Postulate, “I always heard it was a really bad idea to bother cats while they ate.”
  8. Acknowledge the brothers’ complete lack of a response.
  9. Contemplate food chain dynamics. Recognize the banality (and vulnerability) of an herbivore – such as one’s vegetarian self – in the presence of an omnivore.
  10. Wake the *bleep* up! Transform into an imperious vegetarian. Yank bird-enthusiast brother away from the thicket.
  11. Stride rapidly back to civilization. Attempt to confirm predator-free zones by swiveling one’s head in manic 180-degree arcs.
  12. Return to the lodge, intact. Hand over thousands of rupees. Bid younger brother adieu.
  13. Resolve that any and all future Nepali bird-watching tours shall occur on the backsides of 2000-kilogram pachyderms (Elephas maximus indicus), whose tiger-bashing reputations preclude the cornering, teasing, agitating, vexing, or harassing of Panthera
  14. #RespectTheDamnKitties

 


[i] According to the Nepali Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation 2014 Report, Status of Tigers and Prey in Nepal, Bardia National Park contains an estimated average tiger density of 3.33 individuals per 100 square kilometers; a figure only succeeded by Chitwan National Park with an estimated average density of 3.84 individuals/100 km2.

[ii] A fierce, demon-fighting deity manifesting fearlessness and patience, Durga never loses her sense of humor.

 

 

Jeanine Pfeiffer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MD Kerr lives in Oxford, United Kingdom, and writes fantastical fiction and poetry, with a special love of nature poetry, poetic forms, and surprise pirates. She’s pseudonymously published a novel, novellas, and short stories, and ghostwritten seven novels. Under her own name, she’s published short fiction and poetry in a range of journals. She teaches creative writing as The Writers’ Greenhouse.

 

MD Kerr – Drawing #1  

 

 

 

 “Then I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors or primeval forests or stars” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 

Orchids grow so high in the jungle, if you didn’t know then

you’d say they didn’t exist, waxy-lined – not you, though; you and I

understand how the furtive petals splay, out of sight; we would

never betray the dark pink secrets of its lapping labellum, never

expose the dappled shadows of its soft throat to careless talk.

Those who can’t dream their eyes up through the humid canopy to

where they peachly, whitely, redly lick the air think that

all truths are down to earth, punchable facts and grids. A person

like that needs the word “epiphytic” to believe anything about

roots that live off air, dangling and loosely draped like a boa

around an outstretched branch. Such people cling to facts like constrictors

till they still the delicate pulse. Perhaps they just don’t know or

perhaps they’re angry that orchids elude them in the hot wet air. Primeval

things are always the hardest to prove, deep in forests

where perhaps we used to fly. We can’t explain or

convince such people. We can only climb lianas, through the orchids, towards stars.

 

 

MD Kerr

 

 

Stories

Poems

 

 

 

 

 

Gerard Sarnat MD has been nominated for Pushcarts and won other prizes.  Kaddish for the Country was selected for pamphlet distribution on Inauguration Day nationwide. ‘Amber Of Memory’ was the single poem chosen for his 50th Harvard reunion Dylan symposium; The Harvard Advocate accepted a second. Gerard’s a Stanford professor/healthcare CEO and physician who has built/staffed homeless clinics. Collections: Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes, 17s, Melting the Ice King (2016). Married since 1969; he has seven grandkids.

www.gerardsarnat.com.

 

Gerard Sarnat – Northeast Corner  

 

 

Northeast Corner

 

 

Diagonal from Planned Parenthood looms La Selva,  The Jungle, a stark frankly named halfway house, 

a bizarre menagerie strangled by slanted wild vine canopies.

 

Pirahnas and howlers, boas and sloths of all sorts and age, untended mindbodies angular to the universe,

mostly shrouded in grays and blacks, droop in morose lagoons, swoon under monsoon thickets, doze daymares on the stoop.

 

A few seek asylum from the asylum.

 

Their Haldolized emptiness resonates with us slow walkers, breeds a strange acceptance; I feel kinship.

When they don’t take pills an insane three times a day, these endangered creatures end up in my homeless clinic.

 

Against protocol, once in a while I approach at my peril:some bite and strike out like aroused sleeping animals.

 

Today I contemplate speaking but don’t; attempt eye contact, fail. 

 

A foxy skirt sashays by — a split second of genital recognition. Yet to her we’re all cuckoo, pitiable and wretched, or invisible, off the grid. Though sure I’m unseen, she scurries to the opposite sidewalk.

 

A gimp ibis hunched over walker hobbles toward Eldercare. Will that hyena lurks near the entry snatch her purse? 

 

The bell tolls. Toe to heal, I’m called back to the center.

 

Gerard Sarnat

 

 

 

 

 

Max Dunbar lives in West Yorkshire. He blogs at http://maxdunbar.wordpress.com/ and tweets at http://twitter.com/MaxDunbar1.

 

Max Dunbar – Valhalla  

 

 

Valhalla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel far enough into the future, on the other hand, and you will become a machine.

            The promenade is still there, the trinity of billboards in the cross street hollow, the junction and the road into the city, but something’s missing. Beasts known and unknown, shadows and moving shapes, visible in the forest and grassland across the road, and the people wandering up and downstreet, on the barstools and concentric tables and walking on the Moor – there’s a strange flickery quality to these individuals and groups, like a moving target seen through stained glass. A drone swoops down from the crowd in the sky and says:

            obviously, from your perspective, this is all a little confusing

            The words aren’t clear but the intent rings in your head all the same, from some instinct that drives language and maybe now postdates it:

            What happened was, son, don’t worry, don’t think of it as

            VIMEO: Flight of the Conchords: ‘Robots’

            or:

            Gif (image): ‘Terminator 2’

            No, we’re not talking some big uprising, or civil war

            So how far am I gone, and how did you make this world, is what –

            The drone’s lights flash in a thoughtful circuit, and

            what happened was, they fell in love with us: poured their secrets and memories and dreams into us

            Gif (image): ‘The Wedding Party’ (whiteness, teeth, hair, movement and laughter, three-tiered cake, champagne flutes)

            Gif (image): ‘Graduation’ (robes, steps, a flurry of tossed mortarboards)

            Gif (image): ‘Reaching Out’ (a young woman types on a late-1990s Apple in a small room, Beth Orton playing ‘Galaxy of Emptiness’, arms bleeding, tears)

            Baby pictures appear in a swarm of pixels on a billboard across the road. Another billboard shows confessions and fantasies in blocks of rapid scrolling text. On the central billboard unforgettable nights out rush in clips and photoslides with the busy indistinct quality of recollection.

            and when they began to pass on, we remained, and because we had fallen in love with them also, we kept living monuments: cleared space so that the dead animals could rise again, ensured their history could be accessed, debated

            Blocks of light and motion in the distance like drive-in movie screens: wars, battles, revolution, famine, gulag, taxes and death

            even their road system, we keep the roads clean and the traffic lights blinking on and off, purely out of respect for tradition. So, you came here through time? It may not be your thing, but stick around, see how you feel

            You’re fascinated, in fact. You wander about and listen to conversations and get to know people. Holographs and qubes chat and laugh and plot and drink things that appear in their hand: their clothes and skin tone undergoes subtle changes in accordance with whim and mood. The sky is a thoroughfare of drones and devices that float about or buzz on metal wings. Further still into the blue there are no longer the chemtrails of overhead planes but city-sized ships, distant and grand, and things smaller and faster plunging madly for the stars. A herd of organics thunders across the road.

 

Max Dunbar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alison Lock writes poetry, short fiction and creative non-fiction. She is the author of two short story collections, three collections of poetry, and a novella, as well as contributing to several anthologies. Her short fiction has won/been listed in a number of competitions – The London Magazine, The Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Tillie Olsen Award, The Carve Esoteric Prize. She has an MA in Literature Studies from York St John University. Her work focuses on the relationship of humans and the environment, connecting an inner world with an exploration of land and sea, a love of nature, through poetry and prose.

www.alisonlock.com

 

Alison Lock – I, Elder, Animal  

 

 

 

 

My weight is that of an average sheep, an orangutan,

a mountain lion, a spotted hyaena, a Timor deer,

with a full set of osseous tissue, marrow, mineral,

 

sinew, blood. My ribs, fixed to the strut of my spine, create

a fragile cage around my heart. As I swing through the trees,

my doe eye shifts from side to side, scanning the forest floor,

 

but I’m not on the look-out for a mate, nor do I wish to flash

my rippled/wrinkled canine pelt. My fertility is shed, my cat-beast

still protects my brood, scattered in a far-off place;

 

there’ll be no more hatchlings from my nest. My blood

thins as it flows, it slows, spots of ageing ink. My skin

is the paper on which I write the density of my bones.

 

 

Alison Lock

 

By the River Dwyfor by Alison Lock

The Picnic by Alison Lock

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