Issue 35


From Chris Rivers’ apocalyptic cover to Andy Armitage’s sweet poem of young love, Among Schoolchildren, each page of Dream Catcher 35 reveals something special.  Tony Lucas and Terence Dooley remind us of moments of joy. Elaine Baker and Oz Hardwick take us towards Brexit and Trump, and to Tessa Harmse’s bitter story of lies and deception, Stupid Love.  Several of our poets meditate on the nature of poetry, Phil Connolly on the nature of bulllying, Jacqueline Haskell and Maggie Nicholls on the nature of rape.  Barbara Cumbers on loss, Nathan Fidler on death, until we close with hope: David J. Costello, Clint Wastling and Philip Dunkerley – on love.
There are short stories from Holly Sykes, Jonathan Young, Nick Cooke, Ruth Hardym Tessa Harmse and Thomas Dixon as well as poems from many more authors.  Reviews of books by Colin Speakman, Pamela Scobie and David Cooke.

Brexit Means Breakfast

Brexit means breakfast: an understandable
parapraxis, a need for nutrition in a world
starved of sense, swallowing soundbites,
spin and cliché, where a stitch in time

just saves seven now, maybe nothing at all
by Christmas, where the bird in the hand is endangered
and the bush is dry sticks, though climate change
is fake news. When one door closes,

another closes, then another and another,
until all we can hear is slamming doors
that drown the screams and missiles, as actions
lie louder than words, each one served

with a pinch of salt of the earth, a taste
of milk and honey, beer and skittles,
jam today, that can never hide
the rank meat stench of a dog’s breakfast.

Oz Hardwick

…the isle is full of noises…

Under the sun a lazy, lapping sea,
surf sighing over beautiful bleached bones.
Above the sheltering coves
palm fronds fluttering,
the wafting scent of frangipani.

On the beach, half-buried,
cases of vintage wine, boxes of fine cigars
and a grand piano or two;
the breezes teasing melodies
from tinkling keys and vibrating strings.

By a tattered tent, still intact,
a Bible and a Shakespeare rustling
along with crinkled, fading guide books,
manuals, anthologies.

And everywhere, half-hidden
by the whispering sand,
shards of shellac, cracked vinyl,
compact discs in tottering piles of eight.

All around, from the skies, from the sea,
interweaving the gulls’ drifting cries,
gentle voices; old and young,
royal and plummy, soothing, lordly,
casting a spell
by the sleepy lagoon.

Blowing in the wind, on the wings of a dove,
ghostly strains and snatches
of Bach, Beethoven, Debussy …
Callas, McColl, Cash …
Bessie, Billie, Ella, Louis … sounds
and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.

Alice Harrison

Had the Atlantic Monthly

Had the Atlantic Monthly
not turned down her first four
would Emily have left us
a thousand poems more?

Would she have been requited,
not merely one who yearned
if published once instead of merely
opened and returned?

Or was it the humility
that galvanized her pen,
the self-absorbed serenity,
the dearth of doting men?

No matter. Unbelovèd kings
and unsung presidents,
like genius, carve their names on
enduring monuments,

but they tax slaves and nations.
She worked alone for hours,
bothering no one, and erected
even taller towers.

I hope she’s been enjoying
from her celestial station
the well-deserved fruits of
delayed gratification.

James B Nicola


They think that he raped me,
Well, let them.

Let them not know the weight of him, or the rub of down on skin,
the swim of his seed,

the sight of our cygnets circling the mere, close to shore…

One night, not long after the birth,
Moon rises,
Moon, a jealous fitful Moon,
a long-night’s Moon, blue and frosted on the water.
And this Moon, this covetous Moon, She takes Swan and holds him cruelly in Her pull

What will you give me for your Swan, Leda? says Moon, winking slyly on the horizon
Anything, Moon, says Leda, I will give you anything
Will you give me your brood, Leda? says Moon, full of Her own devising

Leda slides her body, a doll against the bank, reflecting alabaster
on the dark mouth of the lake, hair rooted
in the earth, boot-black and shining

Will you not take me, Moon? she pleads. Me

Your swanlings, Leda, whispers Moon, voice salting air,
lighting on the wings of moths and nesting nightjars

Leda thinks of her Swan, the river-reed scent of his beak, himself, hard and fast,
his heart beating beating wild inside her

I will, says Leda, eyes closed, counting silver at her betrayal,
I will

So Moon lifts the brood from the mere and returns Swan, trussed and tumbling, dead
and bloodied, through the air to Leda,
for She is a treacherous Moon, a silver mercurial perfidious two-faced Moon who
on Her promises…

And some say that when it snows they still see Leda, Leda naked by the lake, reaching
out her tongue for the downy flakes that fall upon and comfort her,
pale arms held out into the night like wings,
toes stretching, webbed and slippery over river glass,
as though already she is on the water

Jacqueline P Haskell