Tuesday, 29 December 2015

2 poems by Richard Skinner

Black Water Side


Your mind is a house full of people running through rooms
looking for keys. Doors slam, but far away,
so softly you’re not even sure you heard it. Turn
the door knob and step into the freezing landscape.
Notice the weeping willow bending over the beck.
The black water now runs red.

Your life is here, made up of minutes, hours, naps,
errands, routine. The little things have to be enough.
The valley is reduced to the side of a fell and cloud coming in.
The sheep are cragfast, the deer keep falling down.
You’ve nowhere else to go and you’re sure of it now—
this is the wrong mountain.




Richard’s poems have appeared in numerous publications including Faber’s First Pressings and The Interpreter’s House and have been longlisted for the National Poetry Competition. His debut collection, the light user scheme, was published by Smokestack in 2013. His new pamphlet is Terrace (Smokestack, 2015). He is also the editor of two poetry anthologies: #1PoetryAnthology (Vanguard Editions, 2014) and The Ecchoing Green: Poems Inspired by William Blake (The Big Blake Project, 2015). He is Director of the Fiction Programme at Faber Academy. He also runs Vanguard Readings and its publishing arm Vanguard Editions.


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Previously published poem (8/12/2013)


Sonar


A man sweeps a field
armed with a metal detector,
the plate aching to find
the sternum bone or shield
of some Saxon lord and protector.

My radar reaches three feet
and searches for the band
dropped somewhere long ago
after losing all the heat
and the half-life of your hand.

The eyes of a submariner
lock on the ghostly green ring
as the sonar scans the immensity,
his finger presses on the monitor
and ricochets into the ocean, one long single ping. 


Richard Skinner has published three novels, all with Faber & Faber. His poetry collection, the light user scheme, is published by Smokestack.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

A poem by Mike Pringle



Mike loves words and has been writing them down for ever, with a number of books under his name. But he also loves pictures and has been creating them for even longer, with even more books under his name.

Although not often inspired to poetic forms, in recent times Mike’s appreciation of poetry has grown to the extent of his producing images made of text, some which definitely fall under the broadest definition of the term.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A poem by Roger Desy

natural



— their population browsing overpowers the buds and bark
of hibernating saplings — they do of course cause damage

— however never the destruction of their environment


no matter how bitter the winter — never the roots of grass —



the fields erupt again in spring — the incidental damage
decays to nutrients that germinate renewal into new growth


— injuries grow their scars and heal — as latent second buds
under the tips of spurs nipped off to satisfy survival

fill in the space filled out to full leaf in the sun — nothing



is missing — nothing taken — and though their own survival at times
forecasts starvation — satiety even in famine is given back

into the nakedness of the humility it came from — it’s rare


almost unnatural — to find even debris of their remains in woods



— more than unnatural that the ground they trespassed — grazed
to its exhaustion — blow stubble of spent furrows into windy dust


(natural was first printed in Poetry Salzburg Review, Spring 2014)


About Roger Desy
I write lyrics, often sonnets, trying to give an old form new room, perhaps a new freedom. 

I taught literature and creative writing and edited technical manuals.  But I’ve remained grounded in lyric poetry. Samples are in Cider Press Review, Kenyon Review, Mid-American Review, Poet Lore, South Carolina Review, and other journals.

I like to think that observing nature in the throes of its phenomena preserves not only nature and the observations but saves us as well.


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A poem by Richie McCaffery

You measured my depression in pheasants


I know exactly what you did now –
you measured my depression in pheasants
by thinking that taking me from England
to Belgium, all would be better.


You were a realist, you knew pheasants
exist here too, but are much rarer,
only seen on train-tracks in early morning
and usually dead, whereas at home,


in England, every glance out the window
reveals a foppish pheasant cock.
You were lovingly mistaken in thinking
you could control my depression this way


for I do not measure it in pheasants,
I do not know what I measure it by.



Richie McCaffery (b.1986) recently completed a Carnegie Trust funded PhD on the Scottish poets of World War Two, at the University of Glasgow. He now lives in Ostend, Belgium. He is the author of Spinning Plates (2012), the 2014 Callum Macdonald Memorial Pamphlet Award runner-up, Ballast Flint and the book-length collection Cairn from Nine Arches Press, 2014. Another pamphlet, provisionally entitled Arris, is forthcoming in 2017. He is also the editor of Finishing the Picture: The Collected Poems of Ian Abbot (Kennedy and Boyd, 2015). 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

A poem by Kate Garrett

I loved you once in silence


Dressed in charity shop velvet,
the girl steadies her hands,

places her right palm beneath
her ribs to guide the notes

up the escape hatch of her throat.
The sounds are her confession –

her teacher says that art
is the control of raw expression.

She stands in this grey church,
and releases the song. Six months ago

she was seventeen; how could she know
about lies and love? You’re gifted, they say,

deaf to her double bluff. Her smile
distracts them, while she remembers

last month, and a door slammed
in the face of the boy who sent her clich├ęs,

by the man who said he loved her,
but she should never tell.


*‘I Loved You Once in Silence’ refers to a song from the musical Camelot, concerning the love affair between Guinevere and Lancelot. It was also first published in Kate's pamphlet "The names of things unseen", as part of the six-poets-in-one collection Caboodle from Prolebooks (2015).

Kate Garrett writes poetry and flash fiction, and edits other people's - she is a senior editor for the independent writers collective Pankhearst, and the founding editor of Three Drops Press / Three Drops from a Cauldron. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her latest pamphlet, The Density of Salt, is forthcoming in 2016 from Indigo Dreams Publishing. She lives in Sheffield with her husband, a cat, and three clever trolls who call her "mum".

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

A poem by Hilda Sheehan

WONDER


Take DADA, a living wage
stored behind OUR Tescos
lost in lost of ready meals
and saved plastic. Save

the children, enter drastic
boats tied by borders
and wonder WONDER
the empty gardens

and imaginary wealthy
culprits. Can you cry for
the ecstatic arrival of colour
or turn into TINS of sardines?


Hilda Sheehan’s debut collection is, The Night my Sister Went to Hollywood (Cultured Llama Press, 2013). She has also published a stunning chapbook of prose poems, Frances and Martine (Dancing Girl, 2014). ‘Joyously funny whilst simultaneously discussing disability, animal rights, racism, size, the menopause, love, female relationships and other issues … comic writing with bite’ – David Caddy, Tears in the Fence.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

A poem by Jill Sharp

A Brief History of Flies


Once they were small and silent, elite
airborne divisions of geometers; their mission –
to square the circle of a dining-room light-shade
in tireless pursuit of the perfect right-angle.
If they mutinied to an occasional
hypotenuse, causing spasmodic scuffles
beneath the bulb, they were always
back to their corners. Alighting,
they’d patrol at a respectful distance
and wait until you’d left the table
before taking their turn on your plate.

Now they’re all wideboys with ASBOs
banging round the kitchen like marbles,
torsos by Rambo, wing-design nicked
from the jump-jet. Why wait
for grub to be plated up
when you can dive-bomb the pot?
The leader squats on the worktop
rubbing his legs at the thought
of an almighty carve-up; a media chef
with his fuck-off wrist action
sharpening the knife.



First published in Orange Coast Review 2015 and in Jill Sharp’s pamphlet Ye gods, published by Indigo Dreams.

Jill Sharp lives in Swindon where she runs writing workshops at the Richard Jefferies Museum. Her poems have appeared most recently in Envoi, Orange Coast Review, The Interpreter’s House and Mslexia, online at Ink, Sweat & Tears and Nutshells and Nuggets and in anthologies including Fanfare, The Other Side of Sleep and The Book of Love and Loss.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

A poem by Iris Anne Lewis

Dunwich


I am the sea,
that pounds on the cliffs,
that grinds up the rock,
that eats at the land.

I am the land,
that pastures the sheep,
that nurtures the grain,
that succours the town.

I am the town,
that barters the goods,
that hauls in the boats,
that founded the church.

I am the church
that cares for the soul,
that offers up prayers,
that rings out the bell.

I am the bell,
that tolls for the dead,
that chimes from the deep,
that calls from the sea.

I am the sea,
that pounds on the cliffs,
that grinds up the rock,
that eats at the land.




Iris Anne Lewis is a writer of poetry and short fiction. Originally from Wales she now lives in Gloucestershire. She has been published in the magazines Domestic CherryGraffiti  and Scribble as well as in the anthologies Kissing Frankenstein and An Eclectic Mix Volume 3. She has been invited to read her work at the Cheltenham Literary Festival in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
She composes most of her work while out walking with her faithful walking companion, Hector. Sometimes she even writes it down.  Please find her on Twitter (@IrisAnneLewis) and say hello.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

A poem by Mark Farley

Hugs are more important than potatoes


I made a group 
on Facebook 
called 'Hugs 
                   are more important than potatoes'
And it was long ago

First posts were puns 
on nature
How appealing, said 
   the common tater
No need to waffle on

Then came a wave 
of pictures
a heart-shaped potato 
  a tuber-hugging kitten
    a lonely unhugged spud

After two years of silence
    while potatoes and hugs
   returned to the world 
  in which they wait
 when not needed

Those less-important potatoes
And those more-important 
                                          hugs
Received a hefty dose
                                    of spam

I logged on
to attack said spam
 To hunt it down with knife
 and spade
Spam deserves its fate

And it was then I noticed
that Facebook shortens names
According to the group's title:
   Hugs are more important 
   than pot

Should I change 
the group name?
   Should I rearrange 
      the text to make
         a safer shortening?

Or should I just look
 and smile
  and maybe laugh
   or giggle
And move on with my life



Mark Farley is a freelance writer, web developer and occasional moustache-grower. He was raised in Zimbabwe where he survived two dog maulings, a swarm of killer bees, and being run over by a horse. Now he lives with a trio of invisible robotic cats in Swindon, UK. Please find him on Twitter (@mumbletoes) or Facebook (
https://www.facebook.com/mumbletoes) and say hello -- he'd love to hear from you, especially if you enjoyed the poem! You can read more of his work on http://mumbletoes.blogspot.co.uk/

Monday, 12 January 2015

A poem by Susie Campbell


Wyvern

            (for Mary Anning,  fossil hunter, 1799-1847)

My brother digs up
the dragon's skull.
It looks at me with flinty promise -
Find me under the blue cliff.
I kiss its gnarly head, dig
for its stony soul.
Pa's not long dead
but I turn over his teeth
and bones
beneath my apron
of bleached leather.

I was named for a ghost,
her winding sheet my christening robe.
Grew up with snake-stones,
Devil's fingers,
taught by ribs of black marl
to stiffen my spine.
When lightning struck,
my neighbours
cooked
in their pliant flesh -
I stood clear as quartz.
My body is agate
and my heart resin.

They throw rocks at me,
unforgiving
as the tide shrinks
from God's stone meadow.
I clad myself in bruises,
grow dragon claws.
It takes five men and a horse
to lift me from the beach. As I rise
I tear holes
through their tales of creation.
Me. That little whore
with a pebble in her breast
a box of sharp tools
and no hope of heaven.



Wyvern first appeared in 2014 in THE BITTERS, Susie Campbell's first pamphlet published by Dancing Girl Press in its series of chapbooks.


Susie Campbell (http://susiecampbellwrites.wordpress.com) has just completed an MSt in Creative Writing at Oxford University where she was the inaugural winner of the F.H.Pasby prize. Her poems have appeared in Domestic Cherry, Shearsman, Envoi and a number of other journals.