north of oxford poetry

3 Poems by Byron Beynon

table
.
Corner of a Room
.
Can a room
preserve a memory?
The key is hidden,
but the curtain is drawn
back to allow the eyes
to settle on other lights.
Chairs, a table simply laid,
canvases at rest,
quietly the corner emerges
from darkness.
Summoned by the act of patience,
it is there in the mind’s uncharted
corridors where life goes on.
.
The Bead Chain
.
A barefooted adult and child
linked together in life.
They stare at each other.
Do they read
each others thoughts?
Are they the same?
They stand in a rich space,
but the silent guitar
has been banished
to a corner.
There is no music here,
only two apprehensive minds
contemplating the translation of their lives.
.
An Open Collar
.
I think of Keats wearing an open collar
fashionably turned down,
the black ribbon
round a bare neck,
his fresh, shy nerves
tapping against a window-pane
in a room of quiet intensity
and free movement.
In the early hours of an October morning
he sealed a letter,
dispatched a sonnet
to a breakfast table,
the anticipation conceived.
Seeing the compass of words
he gathered from experience,
moods captured from natural objects,
the heavily marked book
an exorcism for disappointments,
the murmurs rightly used.
.
Byron Beynon 2014
Byron Beynon lives in Swansea, Wales. His work has appeared in several publications including North of Oxford, London Magazine, Chiron Review, The Lampeter Review, Poetry Wales, Poetry Salzburg and human rights anthology In Protest (University of London and Keats House Poets).  Collections include Cuffs (Rack Press) and the Echoing Coastline (Agenda Editions)
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2 poems by Elizabeth Jane Timms

cemetery
.
New Year 1800 (on reading George Eliot)
.
New Year’s Eve came to the churchyard, opened the little wooden gate.
Not a single name could be read here – only the old stone path bore
The faint traces of faithful boots, hymns bearing the drops of candle wax.
The graves were covered in deep snow, lives fast asleep in the last century.
Only the black of the church tower stood against the sky,
But in the tower burned a little light,
The drunken bell ringers were ringing in the New Year by the light
Of a dying lantern. Pulling the old threadbare ropes in their silken breeches
And black shoes in which they had danced a quadrille only an hour earlier.
The silent landscape sparkled with snow and the New Year
Staggered in the church door, its coat dripping in the doorway.
Having made its way struggling over the fields,
Hobbling up the old stone path.
And the bell ringers carried on ringing, with their tankards of ale and port
Before falling asleep into deep slumber,
The robes still in their hands,
The empty tankards at their side.
And in the distant night, came the strains of a violin.
.
On the Book
.
The heavy lid of the book opened, the leather cover
Like a great mahogany door – and I went inside.
Into the book’s vellum world,
Amidst yellowed pages, to find characters asleep
Within their folds, to rub their eyes at my approach.
But in the dark of the oak paneled library, one lamp
Burned low upon a single desk.
The key had been turned in the great lock,
And the books were alone with themselves.
Then all the covers of the books opened like leather doors,
The characters rushed out from the paper –
Glad to leave the prisons of their old pages.
Emerged from the streets of written words,
And dangled their legs over the edge of the shelves.
Nodding ladies, children playing with hoops,
Old sailors, gentlemen in hackney caps with gold topped canes.
The bride on the top shelf waiting for her bridegroom,
But she had to await her fate until the bookmark moved.
One widow sobbed on a book rest and remembered those she had loved.
The world of characters had come alive until the key turned,
And they had to rush back into the books.
.
elizabeth 2
Elizabeth Jane Timms is a historian, freelance writer and poet, based in Oxford. She writes for an academic journal on royalty as well as for magazines, journals and the web.
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2 Poems by Patrick Theron Erickson

snail
.
A Late Dinner
.
In a calculated
late-night imitation of a snail
in a slow crawl across pavement
.
a smile smears
across your face
smears your pancake makeup
.
or is it a sneer
your mouth
a snarl of flesh
.
your tongue
trailing behind after
 .
licking the mucous
from your lips
.
the butter
the parsley
the garlic
last night’s escargot
.
your demented dinner guest’s
aftertaste
.
sucking out
the convoluted snail shells
with your convex tongue
one by one?
.
Tax Season
.
Ensconced
at the dining room table
.
my spreadsheets
before me
.
like the sliding glass doors
I’m easily sidetracked
.
I’ve slipped
into a rut
.
The trees from which
the spreadsheets come
are substantive
with their profusion of leaves
.
their sea of leaves
like any sea
stirred by the wind
wave upon wave
.
I must confess
I’m at sea myself
.
in a small craft
with no small craft warning
 .
And more than my taxes
are in arrears.
.
pat
Patrick Theron Erickson, a resident of Garland, Texas, a Tree City, just south of Duck Creek, is a retired parish pastor put out to pasture himself. His work has appeared in Grey Sparrow Journal, Cobalt Review, and Burningword Literary Journal, among other publications, and more recently in Ginosko Literary Journal, Former People, The Main Street Rag, and Tipton Poetry Journal.

Uncle by Michael A. Griffith

metal
.
Uncle 
.
Arms tired, hands
like useless crane shovels
legs strong but stiff as
tree trunks. Your shoulders

.

have held others up, as
the cane you’d just as soon leave
at the Elks’ hall after bingo
supports you now.

.

Now you sit fiddling with
glasses three years too old,
eyes awash, blinking, reading about a man
who you voted for but wouldn’t now.

.

Now a car passes, its music thump-
ing like the metal press at the foundry where
you gave your best years,
your best blood.

.

Blood in your hanky, your
coughing, your dreams. You
tell no one. It is your job now to hide
such things, to protect

.

your family, your friends, the
few who are still here, who
still might worry, might wonder.
Tired, how tired too soon.

.

Too soon to go to bed, Jeopardy
isn’t half-over yet, and your son might
yet call. But you start to doze after the first
lightning round, the first can, the first

.

star appears low on the horizon.
Cloudy later on, a drizzle falls,
your son doesn’t call. You wake, neck
sore, chest heavy. Sluggish, down

.

the hall you get into bed, then lie
there, staring into the dark, sounds
of the bingo games and metal press
ringing through your head.
.
New
Michael A. Griffith began writing poetry as he recovered from a disability-causing injury. His poems, essays, and articles have appeared in many print and online publications and anthologies. He resides and teaches near Princeton, NJ.
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Temple of Jupiter by Jeffrey Cyphers Wright

sibyl 2
.
Hello, Sybil. Old fortune teller.
Dusk in its blue taxi
weeps at your endless agony.
Poetry should be grief, not grievances.
I come to hear your prophecy—
how the world is shrinking
like your cage of immortality.
.
Show me how to convert the useless.
The graceless and wasteful.
The northern half of a southern laugh.
Reveal to us how to yearn so purely
we turn into hollow light.
“Please ask for assistance.”
Let me chew on your fat dreams.
.
jcwportrait_May_13+
Jeffrey Cyphers Wright is a publisher, critic, eco-activist, and artist.He is best known as a poet and the author of 15 books of verse, including most recently Blue Lyre from Dos Madres Press. He has an MFA in Poetry from Brooklyn College where he studied with Allen Ginsberg and also taught. Recent poetry is included in New American Writing, 2017. For many years, Wright ran Cover Magazine, The Underground National. Currently, Wright stages events showcasing artists and writers at KGB Lit Bar and La MaMa ETC in NYC, in conjunction with his art and poetry journal, Live Mag! He regularly contributes to American Book Review. Wright is a Kathy Acker Award recipient for 2018.
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2 Poems by Louis Gallo

elpenor1

Marc Chagall The Soul of Elpenor (L’ame d’Elpenor)

.
Getting Wasted With Elpenor
.
Pretty bored last night so I decided
to descend to the underworld
hoping to meet the great Achilles
or Agamemnon or, you know, one
of them, even that mad Ajax would do.
Instead I ran into Elpenor sulking
on a lonely, miasmal crossroad.
Seems no one had buried him yet—
remember he’s the dopey kid
who got drunk atop Circe’s roof
and fell off and broke his neck
(one or two lines in The Odyssey).
He’d talk to anybody who drank
the blood, begging, pleading for burial
so his soul could cease its wandering.
Well, I wasn’t much help
so back up on a roof (Circe’s again?),
we wound up getting cheap drunk
on Gallo wine–
and once more Elpenor slid off
to still another death, another
broken neck.  He looked so sad
as he peered at me from the ground
though I had already explained
that I lacked the power to salvage
either his body or soul.  I sang
from my vantage–Ray Charles’
rendition of “Born to Lose,”
never quite deciding who ranks
as the greater losers:
hopeless, broken blokes like Elpenor
or those of us who can’t restore them.
.

Dream

I tried to tell her she did not smell
like mosquito repellant
but I could tell by her frown
and the way she flicked her hair
that she didn’t believe me.
She kept sniffing at her arms
in a kind of minor horror.
I took her hand and tried to
pull her into the house
but she resisted:  “How can I
come in when I smell like poison?”
she whimpered.
“Smell me,” she demanded,
“all over,” as she proceeded
to remove her clothing.
What a dilemma.
If I told her she smelled
like champagne or the attar
of roses, she would accuse
me of lying;
if I told her she did indeed
smell like mosquito repellant
she would go berserk–
for this was one clean woman.
In the end I offered to rub her down
with denatured alcohol
(which smells horrible)
to remove every trace of repellant.
She liked the idea
and followed me into the house,
the screen door banging behind us.
I smeared the wretched alcohol
all over her flesh and rubbed it in.
Then I carried her to the tub
and washed it off with Ivory.
Now I’m boiling water for
sassafras tea as she lies back
on the sofa, smiling, purified,
ablated, redeemed.
And I tell you, I’m smiling too.
.
Louis Gallo
Louis Gallo’s work has appeared or will shortly appear in Wide Awake in the Pelican State (LSU anthology), Southern Literary Review, Fiction Fix, Glimmer Train, Hollins Critic,, Rattle, Southern Quarterly, Litro, New Orleans Review, Xavier Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Texas Review, Baltimore Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ledge, storySouth,  Houston Literary Review, Tampa Review, Raving Dove, The Journal (Ohio), Greensboro Review,and many others.  Chapbooks include The Truth Change, The Abomination of Fascination, Status Updates and The Ten Most Important Questions. He is the founding editor of the now defunct journals, The Barataria Review and Books:  A New Orleans Review.  He teaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.
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The Greeting by John D. Robinson

vet
.
The Greeting
.
Outside the city railway
station, he greeted the
incoming and outgoing
travellers with a strange
barrage of hostile
noises and sounds of
anger, no intelligible
words and his
presence loomed
large in filthy army-
clothing, long unkempt
beard and hair, shoes
falling away from
his feet, he moved
slowly as people,
without time to spare,
moved quickly by
ignoring him, maybe
glancing back,
grinning
and even if he were
spewing intelligible
words, the reaction
would be the same, I
smoked a cigarette and
watched him and his
determination to
interact, to provoke a
response, to
communicate in vain
to a world rushing-by
and not giving a
fuck about his
anguished cries or
what they meant
they had more
important things on
their minds, like
getting to work
on time.
.

 

John D Robinson

John D Robinson is a UK poet: his latest publications are ‘The Pursuit Of Shadows’ (Analog Submission Press 2018) ‘Hitting Home’ (Iron Lung Press 2018)