Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe it’s the near-apocalyptic world we are living in, the raging pandemic, the creep of global warming. Maybe it’s simply the depth, beauty and nuance of this startling poem. Whatever the reason, voters chose Jayant Kashyap’s ‘Twas a long summer of thin air as the Ink Sweat & Tears Pick of the Month for May 2021.

Jayant is the author of Survival (Clare Songbirds, 2019) and Unaccomplished Cities (Ghost City Press, 2020). His other ekphrastic poems can be found in The Ekphrastic Review, Visual Verse, and elsewhere.  Website: https://giantketchup.wordpress.com

 

’Twas a long summer of thin air by Jayant Kashyap

after Vera Iliatova’s ‘Cruel Month’ (2010)

Of a drier Sahara. Of the sun living late
into the nights; waking before dawn. Of
cattledeaths and heatstrokes. Of brown
cities in a gas chamber. Of distant, trailing
hawkcalls. The green leaves wilted and
yellowed without water, trees paler than
most autumns. The mileaway forest
nothing more than the sound of matches
striking before fire. Of silent roofs. Of
lesser friendly-visits and evening strolls.
Of hiked up refrigerator sales. Children
visiting more icecream parlours than
classes at school. ’Twas a summer when
one afternoon I was brown bamboo sticks.
I was salted chips. ’Twas a cruel summer
of starved deaths. Of dead lakes. Of
ORS’s and electrolyte imbalances. ’Twas
a lazy summer of wasted time. A long
summer of a sixty-day July.

 

Voters comments included:

I think it’s the best one – assured, effective lineation, plays with registers of archaic language vs. contemporary issues &c.

Really liked this piece… world is full of chaos still manages to show its beauty, like summer. Summer is devastating for various reasons but is still soothing in other ways

The description and observation are outstanding. The poem in itself is a work of art

Brilliantly surreal yet vivid imagery. I felt like I was there.

Because Jayant’s poetry is a perfect blend of every millennial’s emotions and his kind of poetry is very precious just like fine wine which you cherish and enjoy !

This poem shows reality of how global warming is devastating and we are doing nothing great to save our planet and this hit me hard and made me vote for Twas a long summer of thin air.

I don’t understand poetry much…..but something is else about Jayant’s poetry…..as if feelings of heart is directly touched…….I am not saying other poems are poor……all are good

Have been reading his pieces for quite a while now and I’m totally in love with his works.

This poem had the best imagery, the best evocation of emotion, from the batch.

Keep it up bro✌️Nice creation❤️ Fantastic work

“Beautiful beautiful! as always😊, I like the concept and the idea behind the poem

Felt like own voice

Beautiful and moving poem

I have been reading his work for quiet a long time and i really like how he captures the tiniest details and give them words.

Perfectly encompasses the longing for the bare minimum, which may be in excess for many… Never more true than now, when the world is witnessing a millenial pandemic. Kudos!

Freaking fantastic poem

Because this is a mesmerizing piece of writing written by a young and enthusiastic poet.

Because I loved the way he wrote about nature.

Felt the real essence of summer

Something different was there

They say that your greatest work defines you as an artist but with this guy, he’s just putting out great work again and again. The astounding picture that his words painted in my mind were absolutely vibrant. Such depth and nuance that i just love it.

This poem is a perfect balance of white and black; all the imperfections are self balanced by its charm.

 

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THE REST OF THE MAY 2021 PICK OF THE MONTH SHORTLIST

Détente by Maurice Devitt

When I arrived home, the cat was already packing,
said she had had enough – if not in so many words –
stole a last glance at her coat in the bedroom mirror
and left. Not as much as a purr for a week, though
we noticed on Whatsapp she had been taken in
by a family on the next road, who put up a photo,
thinking that someone might claim her.
We said nothing, although some of the neighbours
drew our attention to the post. A good likeness alright,
we acknowledged, but not our Mitzie, hoping
that the absence of any desperation on our part
would blow her cover. Then, this morning, the gift
of a squiggling mouse dropped through the cat-flap,
a fitting first foray in what could be a delicate process.

A past winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland and Poems for Patience competitions, Maurice Devitt published his debut collection, Growing Up in Colour, with Doire Press in 2018. His poems have been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net prizes and he is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site.

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grey pennant by Chloe Elliot
[as taken from Dulux Paint]

speaks easy. vomits up love, that pigeon wing cootie catcher. how easy – run of garlic like a spat-out oyster on bruschetta. I snap the necks of all the men in my life and they fizz. fluster out like the sprinklers turning on. cement hardens underwater if undisturbed but I spill onto the caulking until the bath leaks. this grey fracturing. these double corniche ceilings sad without restraint. build an aqueduct with volcanic ash. tip it in loose and it all blows away. blow up love, that clamshell grey pennant. dull coin of fortune, always landing tails, all decisions (life, love, career) made as a marker of this. always the wrong one, but, hey, you committed. it’d be embarrassing not to go ahead now. make a life like this. make it highly pozzolanic. swap the weeks of all the moons. buy razor blade packets. sweep lime powder off the edges of the sink.

Chloe Elliott is based in Durham. She is the Gold winner of the 2020 Creative Future Writers’ Award, has poetry in Bad Betty’s ‘Survival’ Anthology, Birmingham Literary Journal and work forthcoming with Bedtime Stories for the End of the World.

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I Keep Dreaming of my Scarab Pendant by Maggie Mackay

You know me by my tooth enamel.

I am skull, death in gold and malachite,
cinnebared by rising suns, blood’s zest.

I am woman of silence and feathers,
moaning at the king’s touch,
screaming to the gods at my sons’ births.

My heart flutters for want of my old nurse,
my siblings. They loved me for my squint.
I am woman of dance and flirtations.

You don’t know what I forsook.

Maggie Mackay’s pamphlet The Heart of the Run, 2018 is published by Picaroon Poetry and her full collection A West Coast Psalter, Kelsay Books, is available now. In 2020 she was awarded a place in the Poetry Archive’s WordView permanent collection. She reviews poetry pamphlets at https://sphinxreview.co.uk (Happenstance Press) . Twitter:@Bonniedreamer

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Moon mother by Sarah Mnatzaganian

The moon has my mother’s face
and the smile she gave when I swam
into her arms one February night.

She speaks my name cheerfully
down the phone. No hint of the time
passed since we last spoke.

I will try not to count the days
since my kids called. Imagine them walking
towards me. Bright, bright.

My mother the moon will not always
be here. She will turn her face slowly away,
profile changing, features softening.

She will deny the halo around her head
and refuse to believe her light is enough
to travel safely by.

Even moonlight makes shadows.
What else can it do?  Love cannot reach
all the things it needs to touch.

Sarah Mnatzaganian is an Anglo-Armenian poet.  Her debut pamphlet will be published by Against the Grain Press in Spring 2022.  She has had poems published in The Rialto, The North, Magma, Pennine Platform, London Grip, Atrium, 14 Magazine, Fenland Reed, and numerous anthologies.

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Watching the Dead by Jared Sagar

It’s how you remember him most.
Under the lampshade with no sound,
cobalt slip-ons angled by the chair,
hands white as plugs
(he’d always question the purpose of winter).

It’s how you remember him most.

Paints in a fossil box
where no sound is like a new colour.
His speciality was drawing birds,
always birds, reimagined for the eyes,
each work a swirly miracle,

lines and curves seemed to come and go,
he would mouth angles, scribble daylight,
erase (in your opinion) the perfect blossom,
he would do this with emphasis and speed.

You used to wrestle in the back room,
lose yourself in the dark dwellings of his belly;
he’d bury your voice in his coil-sprung fat
then retract to gnaw at your skin,
kiss your tangled delicate face.

He looks foreign to you yet beautiful,
he is newly trimmed and retains
a certain majesty,
he wears a moth-gold pin with his smart-dark suit
and he smells of vanilla. No licorice.

You feel guilty somehow for being afraid
so you try not to breathe too much.
Loud silences. Your stomach moans about hunger.

And colour! Your brain aches to see colours that lie within life,
colours full of birds,
the still-near.

Jared Sagar is a writer living in Norwich, United Kingdom with his partner Clare and hamster Gertie. His previous publications have been in The Honest Ulsterman and The American Journal of Poetry.

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