1956 saw my birth
and the devil’s rope gain ground.

I have yet learnt to fly
or succeed
where the movie star failed
to jump the wire
by motorcycle
in the Great Escape movie.

I did not leave a country by force only umbilically in a Chelsea hospital.

You left your motherland that year,
as I left my own,
and we returned together decades later to rust in old blood.

the scent of colour
in every crime scene
becoming chimera
Alan Summers
Ekphrastic haibun inspired by:
‘1956’ by Magdolna Ban
1988, oil on canvas,
Bridgeman Art Library, Private Collection
devil’s rope:
One company (in Wales U.K.) has made, and sold, in excess of one million rolls of barbed wire a.k.a. devil’s rope – enough to go 5 times around the world.

Out of Sync

I was never really into boy bands. I mean, sure, I belted the lyrics to every Backstreet Boys song that came on the radio. And, okay, I had an N*SYNC poster on my bedroom wall. And I might have dreamt about running off to Hawaii with Taylor Hanson and those long, luxurious locks of perfect blond hair… But I swear, I was never really into boy bands.

climate change
the ice shifts
in my water glass


Elizabeth Alford

Out of Sync

High Time

It’s like the blurred vignette on a doctored photograph. It’s like a doubled-sided headache without the ache, just an overwhelming sense of disconnect. Yet connections are made nonetheless. Answers to secrets of the universe reverberate in your veins, jumpstarting your brain, but damn! It’s like your body is running on empty.

By the way, the gas light came on and I need the car tomorrow. Here’s a twenty. Oh, and can you pick up like five of those fully-loaded burritos from that place up the street? Extra onions. Grab a bunch of those little packets of hot sauce too. Thanks.

like stale bread
and morning breath
the taste of a sneeze

Elizabeth Alford

High Time


early morning –
Low Cost flight
Tel Aviv to Sofia

I check in the hotel and walk
and walk and walk

I approach the house of my birth
and ring the bell

A rented car
we drive south east –
the Rhodopy mountain

winding road
our destination

a tiny village in the mountain

red roofs
smoking chimneys –
the forest

A rented house – a week in Levochevo.
Steep steps.
A woman opens the door, lights the fire.

Easter Sunday
I stroll in Levochevo –
narrow winding alleys

An old man approaches and stares at me.
“Please remind me, who were you?
my head forgets so many things!”
“I’m a tourist at Valkanov’s house”
“Ahhh! The Valkanov’s house, big house!”
“Yes, it’s a family reunion, we’re four generations in Valkavov’s!
“From which part of the country are you
“I’m from Sofia”
“Ahhh! Sofia! You don’t give a damn about us in Levochevo! You don’t care! The old die, the young leave! Just look around!”

I look around

“A house for sale”
cracking walls
a new drainpipe

“A house for sale”

broken window panes no door
“Yes”, I say, “I looked around”

“All the best!” he says’
“Thank you, and all the best to you too”

a friendly old but strong handshake

Freddy Ben-Arroyo