north of oxford poetry

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Diane Sahms and g emil reutter

Two Poems by Mike Cohen

A Final Aubade
There is no adequate narrative for this
or any morning
when an early glint of sunlight
slants between leaves
as clouds mount breathlessly
beneath the great breadth we call blue.
Now that morning has come, the poet assumes
that morning requires an aubade,
missing what sunrise reveals
as he tries to catch it in his flimsy net of lexicon.
Let it come without comment.
Morning is a greater thing
than all the words dedicated to it.
There is no adequate narrative for this
or any morning.  A morning is
simply to be witnessed,
greeted with due silence….
Be quiet and watch it progress
acknowledging there is
no adequate narrative for this.
Yet we cannot help
but help ourselves to these grand pronouncements –
these pretentious aubades –
a profusion of insufficiency
like treatments for what cannot be cured.
It’s far too much and not enough.
There is no adequate narrative
for this or any morning.
Au revoir to you, Aubade…   – not another word.
IMG_0060 (3)
Bovine Mantra
“Moo,” I say to the cow.
She is surprised I can speak Cowish.
She’d assumed I was just another of those
who talk so much, with so little to say.
She’d looked at my boots on the ends
of my two legs, my silly colored clothing
and the hat that conceals my pathetic lack of horns,
and judged me to be capable only
of sub-bovine speech – some low human babble,
profuse and pointless and prattling on
so it could drive a cow over the moon.
This is what cows have come to expect of people.
I want to show her that we humans are not all alike.
And as, face to face, we stand in silence,
a trace of respect seeps into her big brown eyes.
She sees that I too recognize how inept words are
at expressing thought.
There is nothing more for me to say.
I have said my “Moo,”
and allow the resonant syllable
to fade into the beyond.
“Moo…,” the cow’s mantra,
is the consummation of language…
The rest is only cud,
a regurgitation to chew on and on and on.
Hour after hour the cow bears with me,
her jaws at work, her eyes on watch
until, finally satisfied that my understanding is sufficient,
she turns away and lows at the moon.
mike-cohen (1)
Mike Cohen hosts Poetry Aloud and Alive at Philadelphia’s Big Blue Marble Book Store. His articles on sculpture regularly appear in the Schuylkill Valley Journal in which he is a contributing editor. Mike’s wry writing has appeared in the Mad Poets Review, Fox Chase Review, and other journals. His poetic presentations feature humor and drama against a philosophical backdrop. Mike likes to bring poetry and audiences to life in cafes, libraries, book stores and venues including Princeton’s Café Improv, the Pen and Pen Club, the Hedgerow Theatre, Fergie’s Pub, Harlem’s Apollo Theater, and neither least nor last, Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery.  Look for him at  on youtube at mike cohen   and in his book, BETWEEN THE I’S

War of Elements by Akshaya Pawaskar

War of Elements
Who is fighting in this war?
It’s not a war between
countries or continents.
It’s not a war between
armies and insurgents.
It’s between elements.
It’s between humors.
It’s between the air and water
with its stratagems of winds
with its velocities
and pressures,
with its whirls
and whorls in which
we are mere civilians
flying round and
round on a carousel
of the drunk thunderstorms.
It’s a war between
land and the seas
dams and rivers,
nation of trees against
Guerilla of fire,
with the forests breathing out poison
as they burn with centuries of
rage and felling
to clear a land for the new ending
which is as old as the first man
himself digging his grave.
It’s a war between
a glacier and it’s strong mind
to stay solid and its
giving in to melt
to meld into the ocean
usurping the shores,
infiltrating the hinterlands.
It’s between the deserts
and the rain.
Between the seething belly
and the silent mouth
of a mountain.
It is a breakdown in the
face of heat of
boiling earth
of thinning skin of Ozone
of hardening hide of
Carbon dioxide.
Tears of fossil fuels
Tears of earth.
The long and the short of it is,
we are not the collateral damage
that we are not
the helpless slaves,
that we are not
the mute victims.
It’s a war between humankind
and platoons of nature.
It’s a war between
the creator and the creature.
Akshaya Pawaskar is a doctor practicing in India and poetry is her passion. Her poems have been published in Tipton Poetry journal, the punch magazine, Efiction India, Ink drift, The blue nib, North of oxford, Indian rumination, Rock and sling and Awake in the world anthology by Riverfeet press.

This Land is Full of Noises by Robert Nisbet

preseli hills
This Land is Full of Noises
Ours being a small and rural region,
much of our noise will be ripples and shifts,
quirks, half-mutes and ghostly sounds.
Yes, traffic certainly, a few loud racers,
the odd blasting exhaust, but get a mile away
from the small towns and it’s more a grumble.
The jets to America are too high to be heard.
There’s the now-and-again light aircraft drone
and the gliders, lower, hinting at a wind’s rush.
The sheep’s bleat can sometimes reach crescendo
but is often more a token of a stolid self.
The cow’s low is placid, stays short of the mournful.
The coastal winds can rise to a shriek, a pounding,
which can quickly drift on down to stillness
and soon to the sinking hiss of sea on sand.
Two sets of footsteps, trudging a Preseli peak,
just a slight crunching, faintest puffs of breath,
then the one flurry of the spoken …
Just .. well..  just want to say .. sorry ..
Few other sounds, just a slower breathing,
one long sigh, words of a kind ..  ah .. well .. yes ..
and above, just the piping of the buzzard.
a photo robert nisbet col
Robert Nisbet is a poet from rural Wales, about as far West of London as you can go. His work has been published widely in Britain and the USA, including regular appearances in San Pedro River Review and Panoply.  

Perspective by Robbi Nester

sycamore seed
Sometimes in winter, I sit on the red bench
under the sycamore, remembering spring,
the faint green florescence of the earliest leaves,
almost a rumor, then the brash unfolding,
the tree sifting sunlight through its branches,
hoarding its riches in the roots. Though it
cannot be discerned, all trees, crowned
with moonlight, grow toward the brightest stars.
In autumn, the seeds come coptering to the ground
in their hundreds, where they send out cautious roots.
In this cold season, the bench too remembers
that before the shaved planks, sweet smell
of sawdust, it once was a tree, holding sunlight
deep underground, awaiting its next incarnation.
Robbi Nester is an elected member of the Academy of American Poets. She is the author of four books of poetry–a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012) and three collections: A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014), Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017), and Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). She has edited two anthologies of poetry: The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014) and an ekphrastic e-book published as a special issue of Poemeleon Poetry Journal)–Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees–celebrating the photography of Beth Moon. Her poetry, reviews, articles, and essays have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, most recently in Is it Hot in Here, or is it Just me?, an anthology, Pirene’s Fountain’s Culinary Poems, Lady Liberty, Tiferet, and Rhino.

Two Poems by Douglas Cole

fern 2
The Gray Man
He’s in the woods
somewhere down a path off a main trial,
down in the stickers and the ferns
in a cedar grove where he can see out
but no one can see in.
These fallen trees, the hollow rotting ones,
if you touch them you can feel
vibrations of hikers in the distance.
I feel him listening with his hands,
picking up the tremble in his web.
times back then I could drink
and pass out drunk wake up at six
work out smoke a pack of cigarettes
without the kids I’d destroy myself
dying and I didn’t know how to live
in this house relationship swept overboard
helpless in a current taking me along
Douglas Cole has published six collections of poetry and a novella. His work has appeared in several anthologies as well as The Chicago Quarterly Review, The Galway Review, Bitter Oleander, Louisiana Literature and Slipstream. He has been nominated twice for a Pushcart and Best of the Net and received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry. He lives and teaches in Seattle. His website is

Two Poems by Byron Beynon

Crossing the River
The river maps its way
towards the expectant sea,
new channels drawn
by the growth of light
as free birds wander and feed.
Anonymous fishermen knock
at the tide’s rising door,
accompanied by those travel-stained clouds
erased and drawn again
within memory.
Nomadic seasons pausing
to reflect the view of liberated water,
a natural movement
learning the dialect of each
fresh pattern and sharpened line.
A Medusa of red coral
sculptured and hardened
from the dance of seaweed,
part of the undercurrent’s salty legend.
The presence of fading rhythms,
a white requiem washed ashore
blanched by rods of sunlight.
This patient craft by tiny creatures –
antlers of staghorn, a maze of brain,
the polished black, the deep Angel Skin –
in a reverie of sea.

Byron Beynon lives in Swansea, Wales. Collections include The Echoing Coastline (Agenda Editions) and Cuffs (Rack Press). His selected poems appeared in 2018 (Bilingual: English/Romanian – published by Bibliotecha Universalis/Collectiile/ Revistei “Orizont Literar Contemporan”, translations by Dr Monica Manolachi, University of Bucharest)