Thursday, 16 November 2017

A poem by Olivia Tuck

Things Only Borderlines Know


That whatever you are, you need to destroy it.

That going for your cookie-dough skin with a razor stings
more than acting against it with fiercer tools, but
it doesn’t matter: abandonment is what truly cuts.

That driving a dear weather-beaten psychiatrist
to earlier-than-planned retirement is easier than it sounds.

That you might see a rainbow when you wake up
at dusk; wonder if God won’t flood the Earth again. Of course,
by three a.m. you could be up to your neck in ocean; playing
Charybdis, hauling angry sailors down with you.

That when you end up in casualty of a Saturday night,
nobody will materialise with cards or Tesco carnations.
(However, if you’re a tad more experienced, at least
you’ll have learnt where to find a phone signal,
about the range of gourmet packed sandwiches on offer,
which nurse will smooth your hair, and which will scrawl
across your chart in biro blood: Manipulative.)

That other People Like You are the only sweet friends who know
how to defend the jagged splinters of a child-
woman. We are the covalent bonds in a fucked-up diamond:
dazzlingly inseparable as we carry on falling.

That you can love others without loving yourself.
That you want to be loved as much as you can feel.

Solar flares. Wild nights. Broken bottles. Hailstorms. Hollow,
chocolate girl for Easter; eyes dead, smile warped.

It burns to come close enough to breathe
your smoke. That as much as you can feel is too much
to ask, but perhaps you could settle for the love of someone
who would tattoo their initials over Ribena-dark scars, feed you
Turkish Delight promises, with steadfastness that echoes
through space and leaves marks that heal, and do not
ruin. A moon you can keep on a string round your wrist,
to linger. Although…face it. You are the satellite.

That shadows gain weight when you are alone. No power
supply. You reach out to touch what it means to be ash.

That if you try to leave, they’ve got thread. Water. Charcoal.
When you hear your screams, you want to disappear, yet
you keep this secret safe. In case you change your mind.









Olivia lives in Wiltshire with her parents, her sisters, her Cocker Spaniel – and her issues! She won her first writing competition when she was six and hasn’t stopped scribbling since, creating short fiction and poetry. She was a 2014 ‘Wicked’ Young Writers’ Award finalist, has had pieces published in Three Drops from a Cauldron and on Amaryllis, and has recently had a story shortlisted for the 2017 Hysteria Writing Competition. Olivia was thrilled to be a guest poet at this year's Swindon Poetry Festival, and she owes everything to her friends at Poetry Swindon and the Richard Jefferies Museum.

Monday, 13 November 2017

A poem by M. Stone

Renewal (Shadorma Poem)


I shed men—
a delicate act
like peeling
sunburned flesh
to reveal raw pink layers
unsullied by want.









M. Stone is a bookworm, birdwatcher, and stargazer who writes fiction and poetry while living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her poetry will appear in the September 2017 issue of SOFTBLOW. She can be reached at writermstone.wordpress.com.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

A poem by Paul Waring

On Bedsits


three flights up
threadbare arthritic stairs
in damp stale air
a vase-less jumble
of nicotined furniture
sepia-tinted peeling walls
and clogged lungs of carpet

ill-fitting dentures
of sash windows rattle
as shivering lips of curtain
beg warmth from
a one-bar electric fire
that eats fifty pence pieces.

cracked elbows of pvc sofa
sprout corn-coloured foam,
tangerine acrylic of seats
singed and stained by careless
ciggies and TV dinners.

on a stripped bed a sagging
mattress reads like a dna history
of real and imagined sex.

'Tomorrow's World' on a grainy
black and white TV peddles
dreams of futures
in a language we've yet to learn.








Paul Waring, a retired clinical psychologist lives in Wirral, UK. He once designed menswear and, in the 1980's, was a singer/songwriter in several Liverpool bands. His work has been published in Reach Poetry and will feature in forthcoming issues of Eunoia Review and Northampton Poetry Review. https://waringwords.wordpress.com

Monday, 6 November 2017

A poem by Jude Cowan Montague

The Salt Escape


'Where are you going?' I shouted.
‘You know you can’t find him again!’
She walked out onto the sodium flats
where sour ghosts scour the plain.

I followed her onto the ground
where she’d slipped herself inside a crack.
I wrapped my emotion around and around
and buried my eyes down her back.

The snow-lace wind whipped to shivers
our flesh through the forest of fur.
I dreamed death was wading the rivers.
I knew he was looking for her.

I had forgotten my orders.
Nothing was left but the night
We shook from the thunder of runaway horses
shuddering into the light.








Jude Cowan Montague is an artist and broadcaster who produces the hybrid creative journalist show 'The News Agents' for Resonance FM. She worked as an archivist for ten years on the Reuters television archive and has created work in response to that experience. Her most recent book is 'The Originals' on Hesterglock Press.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

3 poems by Gareth Writer-Davies

Goats


go on
and on eating, anything

devouring
loaves of bread, baskets of fish, the washing upon the line

there is much in nature
abstruse
and wonderful

but by God, the goat's hunger
is
unreasonable

as if
punished for theological blunder
the goat
must eat and eat, the long buffet of salvation (un-tiring)

stamping
his cloven-hoof (MORE, MORE, MORE)







Gareth Writer-Davies; Commended in the Prole Laureate Competition, the Welsh Poetry Competition and Commended in the Sherborne Open Poetry Competition (2015)

Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Erbacce Prize (2014)

His pamphlet "Bodies", was published in 2015 by Indigo Dreams and his next pamphlet "Cry Baby" will come out in 2017.

He is the Prole Laureate for 2017. 



------
First published 22/09/16

It Was a Big Decision to Paint the Cupboards


I like white
but imagine what it would be like, to paint the cupboards yellow.

It would have to be a subtle shade (not daffodil or lemon)
something, Austro-Hungarian perhaps, as you see in Vienna or Budapest.

This will be a departure, catholic even, for my room is modest
and having taken the walls back, to lath and plaster, colour (seems) unnecessary.

Maybe a tone (like the sun on a snowy day) could be painted on the cupboards.
A yellow which goes with white.




-----

This poem was first published on Amaryllis 24/11/2015

IOIO


the tafarn is cosy
warm-ish to
the English who pass through

hogiau bitch
the ffwclyd
shit Seisnig

but Iolo is friendly
and happy
to chinwag with anyone

a pint of Red Dragon
in his hand
the overt vowels of Welsh

playing upon his lips
the bi-fold
brand of economics

the reason he is sat
here watching
the English beat themselves

but that is how it is
the two tongues
in the one thirsty throat

the twofold
melody
of the mouth

the grating chord of one
country hard
up against another                                     



Previously published in The Journal #46


Monday, 30 October 2017

A poem by Joanna Nissel


Nocturne from the Respiratory Ward


Though it doesn’t feel like night with the lights still on low, I keep my eyes closed and earplugs in. As the cylinders of red foam expand in my ears, the sounds of the ward sink into quietness. The fan’s undulating whir reduces to a vibrating insect as its cool air helps allay fever. If my fever comes back, the sweats start, the sheets stick, and I won’t sleep. The doctors said sleeping is important. The bed is bent upright to help me breathe; all the beds are like this, facing one another so we spend all day avoiding each other’s stares. With my eyes closed and my earplugs in, I try to pretend that nobody is watching me. But machines beep, slippers slap, and nurses’ voices creep through. A ventilator whooshes loudly beside me. I open my eyes. A new girl is wheeled in, her body heavy with pipes and tubes. I turn over. Find sleep. Some time later I open my eyes to the half-light and through the earplugs’ red foam I realise a weak voice has been calling out, “Help me”. I don’t know for how long.







Joanna Nissel begins Bath Spa University’s MA in Creative Writing in September, having just graduated from the undergraduate degree where she won the Les Arnold Prize for the most outstanding second year student. Joanna was first published in Irisi magazine in March 2017. She lives near Brighton and interned with Tears in the Fence magazine. Her poems tend to lean towards themes of grief, family, and religion, with occasional lilts towards the environmental.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

A poem by Gale Acuff

Watch


At my father's gravesite I remember
a joke he once told me, about a man
almost deaf but too proud to admit it.
It was poor then but I'm listening now

and laughing, even though I don't recall
how to tell it. And there's no one else here
but us. If you tell a joke to the dead
and they don't respond, is it a bum one?
If you tell it right but they don't react
is it no longer funny? No, they're just

out of earshot. He buys a hearing aid
and is glad that it works well. A friend
asks him, What kind is it? And the man looks
at his watch and replies, It's 10:30.
It's funny as Hell now, and I mouth it
like kind words at my father's funeral.
And I laugh, as I should've laughed back when
he told it to me, ten years ago, as
I sat on the porch steps, crying for my
divorce and unemployment. What he meant

I'm still trying to figure--Life's funny,
perhaps. Don't take things so seriously:
look at me, I'm dying--you don't see me
all broken up. The closest I come to

the present again is through memory
--I shut my eyes and there it is again,
the present updated, a second chance
to say the right thing. It will last as long
as I want to live in the past, forget
that it isn't real. It was, but it's dead,
and it's risen, and it cannot remain

but must dwell in another place, if it is
a place. Heaven. The bosom of God. At
the feet of the Christ. The hymns of angels.
I don't know, but I'm sure of one thing: love
is all I know and all I need to know

--but then, he'd have a joke for that, too, so
perhaps it's laughter and not so much love.
I open my eyes and the water flows.
I love you, Father--I'm sorry I was

a shitty son. What the hell, a voice says.
I ain't gone yet, so mind me in future.









About Gale Acuff

I have had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Desca nt, Poem, Adirondack Review, Coe Review, Worcester Review, Mary land Poetry Review, Arkansas Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, South Dakota Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals. I have authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).

Monday, 23 October 2017

A poem by Deirdre Fagan

The kindness of strangers


When I think of the tenderness of airplane travel
I almost cry

Seated in rows, often six across, among strangers

there is so much courtesy in the passing of a cup
civility in abandoning a seat so another can relieve himself

There is beauty in the every day action of not reclining a seat

In the handling of another's trash

And then there is this. This other thing.
There.
On the news.

And we cannot close our eyes to sleep among the strangers
and we cannot close our eyes

and yet we still do

We sleep soundly 10,000 feet in the air







Deirdre Fagan is a widow, wife, and mother of two who has published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in Connotation Press, Corvus Review, Ink Sweat& Tears, Mothers Always Write, Words Apart, and Yellow Chair Review, among others. She teaches literature and writing at Ferris State University where she is also the Coordinator of Creative Writing. Meet her at deirdrefagan.com

Thursday, 19 October 2017

A poem by Ashley Farley

Solstice


The summer has ended,
Peppermint men with alstormeric bouquets
And lavendar women hiding it under their arms,
leaving the scented breeze as their ransom note.
the tiny hairs creeping from the crease
of their underarms (that their mothers never told
them to shave) reeling back in the summer
never forget the face
Wandering through empty
creeks rocks and stones
the souls against the padding
under worn feet. Prayer for a flood
That Noah never knew,
to watch the veins slowly fill
Within the creek
stream through, overflowing to drown
out the sound of autumn’s shrill
winter’s chill. But still smelling lavender
and peppermint: that september holding on as
The sun dragging itself across
the floor, leaving a blood-stained path against the sky.







Ashley Farley is a senior in The College at Brockport pursuing her B.S. in English Literature. She is an active member of Phi Sigma Sigma, and several other communities on campus. Ashley has been passionate about writing for most of her life, her first published piece of writing being from when she was 11 years old. She has had work published in Poppy Road Review and forthcoming in Calamus Journal. She plans to continue her passion in all things English, and hopes to one day live on the beach and write children’s books.

Monday, 16 October 2017

2 poems by Melanie Branton

Tales of the Unexpected


"It will happen when you least expect it” -
that’s what people have been telling me since I was sixteen.
I lie in bed at night thinking about all the times and places
when I wouldn’t expect it to happen.

Maybe it will happen on a train journey?
When the ticket inspector asks “Single?”
he won’t just be asking about my travel documentation.

Maybe it will happen at Asda?
When the man on the checkout says,
“Would you like any help with your packing?”
it will be obvious exactly whose slot
he wants me to put my green tokens into.

Maybe it will happen at work?
Although hopefully not at my current work,
because that would incur a maximum seven-year prison sentence
and I’d be barred from teaching for life.

Maybe it will happen in the middle of the night:
a burglar will break in and our eyes will meet
through the hole in his balaclava and
We’ll Just Know?

Maybe it will happen when I’m on the toilet:
the Man from Atlantis will swim his way up
past the U bend and surprise me
from below, or someone will ooze his way in
in aerosol form through my shower head, like frigging Zeus.

Maybe it will happen at my funeral -
there’ll be an unexpectedly enterprising necrophiliac
in the congregation (also vindicating
that other staggeringly unhelpful piece of advice:
“It’s never too late – it’s not a race, you know.”)

But, then again, maybe where I’ve gone wrong is in
imagining all these “unexpected” scenarios,
so now I’m expecting them,

which is why it hasn’t happened yet.







Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist and poet from North Somerset. She has had poems published in journals including Algebra of Owls, Amaryllis, The Interpreter's House and Prole, and has a collection from Oversteps Books due out in late 2017


-------
First published 28/07/16

Unrequited


Loving you is ridiculous
like ardently supporting
the football team
of a small town in Argentina
where I’ve never been
and don’t know anyone
and I don’t even speak Spanish

but still I wear their colours
and pore over their match reports
and call them ‘Our boys’
cheering on their goals on the radio
or what I infer to be their goals
seeing as I don’t even understand the commentary
and don’t even like football

Loving you is ridiculous
like following a stranger in the supermarket
because I want to be a gumshoe
but only know how to be
a childish approximation of one
watching them through holes
cut out of a newspaper
making notes about what they put in their trolley
deducing dark secrets
from their preference of Shredded Wheat
to Crunchy Nut Cornflakes
and their ominously inexplicable purchase
of that fifth bottle of sauce

Loving you is ridiculous
like suddenly performing a sex act
on the person in front of me
in the dole queue
because he or she happens to be there
and everyone else seems to have someone
and it’s Tuesday
so why not?

And on good days
I get aroused by
parallel possibilities.
Tonight, I haven’t got a headache
‘cos I’m in the subjunctive mood!
‘Should you love me,…’
‘Had you kissed me,…’
‘Were you to touch me down there,….’

And on really good days
I feel purified by you
as by a non-evangelical God
from someone else’s religion
knowing I’m not of your flock
and can never fall within the ambit
of your miracles
but worshipping you, anyway,
without self interest
feeling blessed
that such intelligence
such intensity
such beauty
exists somewhere in the universe
though I will never be touched by it

And on bad days
the fact that you have a girlfriend
seems an act of deliberate spite
something you’ve been carefully planning
for the past ten years
just to piss me off

And writing poetry about you is ridiculous
I’m like a woman with no legs
knitting herself a pair of socks
so she can vicariously experience
what it’s like to have feet

But still I do



Thursday, 12 October 2017

3 poems by Grant Tarbard

Then Raise the Scarlet Standard High


I'll peel away my skin and be a Trotskyist,
under all the lax brawn I am red meat.

I'll make you proud, Trotsky, I'll decry cereal
and toothpaste, I'll bemoan the bourgeois bakery

making phallic loaves, leading proles by the nose.
I'll steal baskets at the checkout, dumping the contents

into a communal pile, making a vermillion bonfire
out of blue cheese and Highgrove biscuits, now £4.95.

I'll be a pirate of the high streets, raising the scarlet
skull and crossbones high, shoplifting red knickers

and strawberries, sneering from over the pages
of Lessons of October. I'll degrade old ladies in vulgar hats,

kicking their canes out from under them,
spilling their vegetables onto the pavement,

stealing their apples, appropriating them for the cause.
I'll throw bricks through windows with lewd poems attached

and shatter the bourgeois notions of decency.
No fear shall taint our gullet of laughter,

tangled in a tongue of manifestos,
burping through the national anthem. 










Grant Tarbard is an editorial assistant for Three Drops From A Cauldron and a reviewer. His new collection Rosary of Ghosts (Indigo Dreams) was released in 2017.





---
First published on 29/12/2016

The Process of Becoming Smaller


When the days go timid as a blind mouse
my goose flesh will sag like a rice pudding.

Eyebrows of a thousand motions,
as alive as a galvanised corpse.

The reanimated quiver of a left eye,
adjoining muscles contort into an ox jaw grimace.

A morel nose designed to shatter,
fighting the solid shade of it's being.

The cadaverous contraction of a smile
is in the process of becoming smaller,

callous as a rosary
beneath a bistro of greasy hair.





---
First published on 15/12/2015


Winter Garden


The lover, wrapped up in a snug blanket, 
a cocoon she'll prize apart when paper 
cut sheaths of a late dawn break over the 
mechanical tick of the horizon.

Her tangle of eyes, compressed tight into 
the sofa cushion, ignore the chalky 
pigmented powder of a diffracting 
winter, loyal to an image of the 

past. I worry about floating, how long 
do I sit here? I dangle on a string 
of ears listening to your chest rise and 
fall as if its attached to a ballon.

I ignore all sounds but whispers of ghosts, 
thrushes singing in their winter garden.



Monday, 9 October 2017

A poem by Brendon Booth-Jones

For Ami

Thrust close your smile
that we know you, terrible joy.
                   ––Denise Levertov
 
heaving open that ancient door to the vast windswept night
snuffs the candle flame
leaving a thin grey plume quickly dissolving into murky silence

to understand the inner workings of the humming bird
dissect the silken tapestry of its breast
with a twinkling steel blade

to capture the lurching witchcraft of a dream
take a screenshot of your brain
in the full flight of sleep

now to capture authenticity,
I whisper thunderously through a loudspeaker
in the silvery glow of the moonlit woods
halting the critter-rustle under bush,
dispersing bat and owl into unreachable shadow










Brendon Booth-Jones grew up in South Africa, and currently lives in Vietnam. His poetry has appeared in Botsotso. His prose and photography have appeared in Zigzag.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

2 poems by Arlene Grizzle

The Elderly Man & His Nurse


She glides in;
unseen angel wings
adorn her.
His grimace curls into a smile,
when he sees her.
Heaven has
released one of its own to him
for these few hours.

She whispers to him
in Spanish.
He doesn’t understand,
but still, he laughs.
She laughs.
Two foreign languages
bridging the gap
with smiles.

She calls him 'papi.'
He takes it as respect,
she uses it for endearment.
She wipes his nose with a Kleenex,
he responds by kissing her hands--
an unequal exchange of
affection.

The hours completed,
she waves as she leaves.
His smile is erased again,
until tomorrow
when she returns.
His earthbound
Angel.










Arlene Grizzle is a novice poet who enjoys writing poetry and song lyrics. She holds a bachelor's degree in sociology and spent many years working with the developmentally disabled community.




-----
First published 29/05/17



Birthday Loss


I didn't know him well, but
Ben was a close friend of my
parents. Born on the island
of Barbados, he lived most of
his life in England before moving
to the U.S with his family.

Ben was a quiet man who wore a
sheepish grin that hinted of
scandalous things that ought to
be kept secret. I always smiled
when I saw him, my own thoughts
filling in those unrevealed tales.

My parents often told me of those
Sunday afternoon domino games at Ben’s
house where Bajans warred against
Jamaicans while sharing platefuls
of codfish fritters and fried plantains.
Ben was always the victor, a feather in
the cap of the Bajans as the Jamaicans
went home with full bellies and happy
hearts.

Ben died on my birthday. He laid
frozen and silent in a hospital
bed unable to say goodbye to his family
and friends. As his life faded away
I was driving to the beach searching
for answers and a new start.

I cry not for what he meant to me,
but for what he meant to others. I
weep not for my loss but for theirs.
We are but vapor that ascends upwards
mingling with the air until we are no
longer a singularity, but part of the whole.
Ben, may you climb ever upwards
no more alone, but part of completeness.



Monday, 2 October 2017

A poem by Jinny Fisher


The Art of Staying Dry                                           


You don't take an umbrella to a music festival. As the first drops fall, I remember that people argue about whether it is better to run fast or to walk.

The science says
it all depends on
                  the type of rain,
                                     the angle of impact,
                                                             the distance to cover,
                                                                                        and the width of the body
travelling the storm.

The rain is large, it is vertical, the beer tent is a ten-minute walk away, and I am not thin.

I shelter under an oak tree festooned 
with wishes in balloons. 
A few fat drops
splash from 
the leaves
into
my
eyes.

I would be able 
to dodge them—
if I could just
predict
their when,
their where.









Jinny Fisher lives in Somerset and is a member of Taunton’s Juncture 25 and Wells Fountain Poets. Magazine appearances include The Interpreter’s House, Under the Radar, Domestic Cherry, The Broadsheet, Tears in the Fence, and Prole. Online appearances include The Poetry Shed, Strange Poetry, Clear Poetry, and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She has been three times shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and Commended in Battered Moons and Fire River competitions. In 2016, she gained 2nd Prize in The Interpreter’s House Competition. She likes to push around The Poetry Pram, preferably at hard rock festivals.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

A poem by Olivia J. Young

Jail Bait


I’m not, actually, none of us are. But some of us look like it, but not me. But they, the customers will say it about the girls whose thighs have the pipe cleaner silhouette of late-middle school-youth. Their bodies are long, and narrow, and they drop from the pole to the stage like wind-sliced power lines. Their hips are as high, and unspread as the pitch of their voices. We talk about it in the dressing room. How during lap dances, the men lean in close and say, you look just like my niece.













Olivia J. Young was born and raised in Rochester, New York, where she studies psychology, sociology, and English at SUNY Brockport. She loves animals and is convinced that she has too many jobs, and not enough cats. Olivia writes short fiction and poetry in addition to painting, and whatever else she can get into, including experimenting with Bizarro fiction. She has kept her writing to herself for most of her life, but her poetry did appear in the most recent issue of Jigsaw Literary Magazine. She lives with her dog, Mittens, her cat, Pepper, and her boyfriend, Matt in Rochester.

Monday, 25 September 2017

A poem by Ellen Kathleen Smith

His Chest Pains Pain My Chest


How my bones are not his I cannot be sure.
How my actual teeth are not his teeth,
how my heart is not his heart baffles me.
That I am nothing without him and yet

eventually, inevitably,
his heart will cease to beat, his tears will cease
to fall, his joy will cease to be, and still
he says all is very well, very well.

We disconnect and I start digging for
anything that will make me closer to
the fatherland, my home, the only one
who’s always been, before I ever was.

He is in the future. I am only
following in his timeline, his footsteps,
his heartbeats, his handclaps, his wisdom, his
only daughter. I am his only one.

He is in the future. I am only
following along his timeline, his footsteps,
his heartbeats, his handclaps, his wisdom,
his only daughter, I am his only.










Ellen Kathleen Smith is a writer, artist, and art teacher living in Washington State with her
husband and chickens. She is a former (US) National Poetry Slam competitor and has facilitated
numerous creative writing workshops in her community. Her hobbies include bike packing,
stargazing, weaving, and starting new hobbies. Find her online at www.ellenksmith.com.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

A poem by Judi Sutherland

Stuck


You say up front, it’s not PC, but still,
you’re going to tell it anyway, because we
are listening and, what the heck, it’s Friday.

So; this joke’s an opportunist in a lift
that’s stuck. Implied are cipher women
getting knocked about, knocked out,

knocked up, but they’re not real,
just women-in-a-joke, and they don’t feel
a steel wall slam into their cheek,

the fumbling of a beery, bristly bloke
who’s rucking up their skirts, and then
the shame, the hurt. They don’t react;

they’re disbelief, suspended between floors,
and just how rapey is it? As we fall
towards the punchline, down the shaft,

I just can’t answer back; in this tight spot
I sense that lurch and drop. I’m pressed against
these sliding doors that closed and will not open.







Judi Sutherland lives in Barnard Castle, County Durham. Her poems have appeared in a number of magazines including a Black Light Engine Room chapbook "Dark Matter VI".

Monday, 18 September 2017

A poem by Stella Wulf

Sovereign Tea


When the clock struck three, cosies limbered, 
caddy lids chattered, teapots hummed 
to the kettles' anthem. 
Tannin ruled the brave.
Tea was togetherness, tittle-tattle, 
the chink of china, the rattle of spoon on tray, 
and nothing was finer than a biscuit 
with the beverage of the day.

Nutty cookies sprawled from their strait-jackets, 
hobnobbed in barrels and tins. Garibaldis 
mingled with McVities, Chocolate Fingers 
rubbed along with Gingernuts. Wafer Thins,
Jammy Dodgers, Bourbons, Custard Creams,
a melange of eclectic confection, 
with dreams to be laid, displayed, selected,
nibbled with affection. 

Then came the rise in popularity 
of a freeze-dried granularity. 
The pot called the kettle black, 
cracks began to show. Discontent
stirred in pot bellies as kettles hissed, 
rumbled, poured scorn on Oolong, 
Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchong. 
‘We’ve put up with you for far too long,'
the teapots grumbled.
‘Echinacea, Rooibos, Chamomile,
we don’t want your sort settling here, 
infusing our great British feeling, 
give us back our Assam,
give us back Darjeeling!’

The toffs ignored the brouhaha,
looked the other way declaring, 
'let them eat cake! The order of the day
is coffee and a bake!’
They called for ristretto with danish, 
denied the benefits of teapots, 
fobbing them off with sweepings 
in flimflam bags, designed for mugs.
It left a bitter taste.
The baristi topped up the rich roasts, 
pulled shots, spun frothy concoctions
in nifty jugs, dredged with favours,
served with hollow wafers.








Stella Wulf lives in France where she spends most of her life up to her oxsters in muck and dust, restoring a ruin. She has an MA in Creative Writing and her work has been widely published both in print and online magazines and journals. These include, Obsessed With Pipework, The High Window, Raum, Prole, Ink Sweat & Tears, and many others. Her poems have also been included in several anthologies including, The Very Best of 52, three drops from a cauldron, and the Clear Poetry Anthology. She is also an artist and her work can be seen on her website: stellawulf.com

Thursday, 14 September 2017

A poem by Paul Vaughan

Heat


Heat’s peeling off the walls,
thick as the smudged scarlet lip gloss
concealing tiny cracks she traces
with fingertip across her mouth.

Curtains hang dead as her dank hair.
Nothing stirs in darkness
but the cold flicker of Abbott and Costello on silent screen.

Flare of a lighter flutters her face.
She sucks hard on her cigarette,
stares at the red stain on filter tip.
Crimsoned butts pile out of the ashtray
on the glass of the coffee table
and the colour of blood
pools by her feet
on her dress
on the glint of the knife.









Paul Vaughan lives in Yorkshire. His poems have appeared in Agenda, Prole, Poetry Salzburg, Frogmore Papers, Obsessed with Pipework and Dream Catcher, among other places. He is also an editor of the e-zine Algebra of Owls.

Monday, 11 September 2017

A poem by William Harper

Chiswick Rain


Chiswick Rain on my window
    At night
    The sound
    That is all
    Sweet dreams
    And a kiss
    *

    The patter of water
    At night
    The sound
    That is all
    Sweet dreams
    And a kiss
    *
   
    A love unfolds
    Slow
    Like the trees
    When they grow
    The sound
    That is all
    Sweet days
    And a kiss
    *
   
    The fizz of your thinking
    At night
    The sound
    That is all
    Sweet dreams
    And a kiss
    *

    Chiswick Rain
    The sound
    That is all
    And a kiss








William Harper is a writer from Maryhill, Glasgow, living in London. He has published short stories in the Galway Review and swimmers club.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

A poem by R. A. Allen

Fine Dine


While trying to decide
between the scallops Veronique
and the roasted rack of lamb
he notices that a nearby
two-top accommodates
a fashionable couple, and
from its angle of repose
atop her waxed-leather
miniskirt, a satin napkin
embarks on a furtive escape, slipping
like the subduction of tectonic plates
like the silence of Death Valley
like a nitro-burning funny car
like The Marriage of Figaro
like the second law of thermodynamics
like a hallucination born of too much dining alone.







R. A. Allen's poetry has appeared in the New York Quarterly, The Hollins Critic, Night Train, RHINO Poetry, Word Riot, Amuse-Bouche, The Recusant, and elsewhere. He has one Pushcart nomination for poetry and one Best of the Web nomination for fiction. He lives in Memphis, where he waits for that other shoe. More at http://poets.nyq.org/poet/raallen

Monday, 4 September 2017

A poem by Quinn Christensen

drapeable


he can pick her up.
it doesn’t bother me that he does. but i am jealous

of the way that he can drape her across the arm of the sofa.

i am jealous of the way her arms fall -
elbow thinner than arm, wrist thinner than elbow, click click clicking like perfectly timed gears all the way down.

i am jealous of her bones (not bones) for being a chain of pearls,
an ivory necklace

that would look stunning on her own porcelain collarbones, and no one else’s.

there is something about the way she moves
that makes her seem like she belongs somewhere, that makes her seem

like she’s flying
something ethereal that i can’t quite put my finger on.

so yes, i suppose i am jealous
because lord knows i always wanted to be a fairy.

there is something about the way she moves that reminds me of my best friend

see, my best friend used to be the most drapeable person i knew,
and she isn’t so pretty anymore.
but she also isn’t dying.

so i wonder what it says about her
that she is so pretty.

and i wonder what it says about me that i am so jealous
of the way that he can drape her across the arm of the sofa.










Quinn Christensen is an avid reader​, cat lover, and high school student. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and spends her free time writing, revising, and spending time with her muses.



Thursday, 31 August 2017

A poem by Julie Hogg

Ticklish


It’s funny, malaising emulsion
trying to stick around a handle

and it’s not the paint, acclimate
situation or anyone’s fault, it’s

an awkward guest wearing her
black gold mourning ring as an

aubade, solvent and silica for so
long, paler, carried out on paper,

disparate simple chromatography
ternary after ternary after ternary,

a discrete colloid city in the dark,
a little vocabulary abraded apart,

disparate simple chromatography
ternary after ternary after ternary

fluorescein, malachite, rhodamine.










Julie Hogg is a Poet from Teesside with work published in many literary journals and anthologies, most recently, ‘Writing Motherhood,’ from Seren. Her debut collection, ‘Majuba Road,’ is available from Vane Women Press.

Monday, 28 August 2017

A poem by Jenni Gribble


The Getaway Gal


The getaway gal grew up wanting money, 
ever-changing her formal attire, 
her bath products.

Dancing for him now, in fact, her society is
quick, convenient, English-speaking--
Relax and enjoy, King Antonio.

Her full routine over-cleanses, gently hydrating 
the tradition of a thousand years.

When spotlights flood her little theater, 
the Mexican market, 
her cream pamper skin,
she will massage away her makeup 
and buy a trailer,

careful always to personalize her wifi meals.

And do-gooders will beat the ground, 
bone on bone, 

Kids will run down booster stops, 
and 
floozies will fly.

Fly, floozy, fly.









Jenni Gribble’s poems have been published in several print and online publications, including Anima and the Kentucky State Poetry Society’s journal, Pegasus.  When she is not teaching English or writing poetry, she likes to run long distances.  She currently lives in Salado, Texas.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

A poem by Julia Webb

gone


my halphead’s gone
I cannot fly him away my love
to the placid where he was borne
o fly my pretty pretty
he overnighted else the moon
fall from the tainted sun
opening out his day-shone eyes
my halphead my one of light
now in the only only mind
perhaps be back a little long
late of the day overs
he be blind sore love
he be weather-fingered
delighting in the pale
of the after after
my halphead’s gone
I looky later in lane bags
all down-up-down the road-bys
he jiggered straight out
with a nodular and a blithe
my halphead’s in his coat
all pample city over there
awaying his delicate home










Julia Webb is a graduate of The University of East Anglia's poetry MA. In 2011 she won The Poetry Society's Stanza competition. She is a poetry editor for Lighthouse. Her first collection Bird Sisters was published in 2016 by Nine Arches Press. She is working on her second collection. She lives in Norwich where she teaches creative writing.

Monday, 21 August 2017

A poem by David Hanlon

TV in the background


He tries to speak up—
once,
but he is TV in the background,
channel switched constantly
by inattentive children,
looking hard
for nothing,
but still they tap thumbs:
click, rapid, rickety,
with bubble-gum enthusiasm.

They clutch the remote control tightly,
much tighter than they notice,
tighter than anyone notices.

What’s on the screen doesn’t matter—

tearjerker, comedy, game show, reality;

any one is worthy of back-up atmosphere,
momentary focus to fill a silence
or two. Then switch.

Switch. Switch. Switch. Static.
Switch.











David Hanlon is from Cardiff in Wales. He has a degree in Film studies and is currently embarking on a course to further his studies in training to become a Counsellor. He believes his experience of reflective journal writing for his Counselling course has influenced his recent poetic endeavour in which his writing incorporates the personal and emotional. He also writes humorous poems and flash fiction and over the past year has begun to perform his work at local open mic nights. He is passionate about modes of personal expression and also enjoys the intricate rhyming involved in wordplay.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

2 poems by Charlotte Barnes

Observations from inside a coffee shop

#10
They swap snapshots of once-removed offspring,
Beaming: ‘Look what my child made!’ Newborns,
Grandmothers still finding their feet with holding babies
But not changing nappies, they pass Polaroids around
Like they are local currency. Helen, recently bereaved,
Never conceived and now she excuses herself, takes
Their orders for tea and asks who fancies a scone.
‘I can manage,’ she says. ‘My treat, dears, I’ll pay.’
Helen is learning how to live life on her own.

#11
The table is merely a prop that prevents them from pawing
At each other in public. Their pubic bones have crushed
Into each other so frequently that for one, the other feels
Like home – and to be so far apart makes them feel alone,
But public decency frowns upon public displays of lust
In coffee shops, and so they stop at intertwined fingers.
Their stares linger, and she says: ‘We’ll put people off
Their cups of tea.’ He laughs, tells her that she’s wrong –
I swallow the urge to lean over and tell her that she’s right.











Charlotte Barnes is a Worcester (UK) based writer and poet who is currently working towards her Doctorate degree in Creative Writing and English Literature. While Charlotte’s academic endeavours have seen much of her focus rest on writing prose, she is now working to nurture her poetry alongside this, both on the page and on the stage, in her efforts towards performance poetry. Charlotte’s general interests are tea-drinking, cake-eating, and book-reading.

Monday, 14 August 2017

A poem by Maria Stadnicka

Mozart in Nairobi


The citizenship lessons, on Wednesdays afternoon,
end at three o’clock
with a Mozart concerto, live broadcast
from our detention centre.

The outer heavy traffic,
the rain washing the roof tops across Nairobi
penetrate the walls –
a sharp, urgent, high-pitched cry.

The ants come to light, across the border,
through a crack in the wood.
Perfect day for unattended prayers.









Maria Stadnicka is a writer, freelance journalist and lecturer. She worked as a radio and TV broadcaster, presenter and editor in chief for Radio North-East, TV Europa Nova and Radio Hit and was a member of the literary group Club 8, Romania. She is member of Stroud Writers Group since 2011.

Website www.mariastadnicka.com

Thursday, 10 August 2017

A poem by Michelle Reale

Buona Domenica


My small fingers broke the box-shaped dirt, revealing delicate, thread-like roots.  My father knelt beside me.  I pressed the orange marigold roots into the dirt he’d prepared. He  blessed himself then touched my forehead. It left a smudge that I was proud of.  Clouds moved across the sun while my father continued to dig. I had moved on, not far from him.  I chalked the sidewalks, drawing arterial roots to somewhere I didn’t yet know existed.   My father said I had cartography in my blood. When he held the crushed leaves of a marigold under my nose, I knew that somehow, we had breached arbitrary frontiers.  Smells like pepper, no?  He brushed the dirt from his knees and held his hand out to me.  We smelled the garlic hitting the oil from my mother at the stove, inside. The wind carried more than sound.  My father told me how roots were so fragile, can break so easily. It took me years to understand. I read the future in the lines carved into the back of his sun-browned skin.  We held a willing suspension of belief as long as we could.  Basked in the kind of radiance that came from speaking out of turn, in the immediacy of a moment sharp as cut glass.  It was the only language we knew.







Michelle Reale is an Associate Professor at Arcadia University. She holds an MFA in poetry and is the author of five collections and the forthcoming The Marie Curie Sequence from Dancing Girl Press. She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

A poem by Tanya Simone Simpson

Things We Don't Talk About


cracking with cold
you, broken and beautiful
i remember the nights when i read you out loud

you, firing memories as missiles
dripping with honesty
these questions will never be still

you, lying awake in my arms
flickering eyelashes slicing my chest
your secrets, my sevens, our laundry and losses

blood-let and branded
you, chasing absolution at 4am
and me, drowning in my wishing well









Tanya Simone Simpson is a writer and photographer living in Edinburgh with a tall man, a small cat and an albino axolotl with a double-barrel surname. Fuelled by coffee and an obsessive nature, Tanya has been writing poetry, fiction and autobiographical over-share since forever. More words and pictures can be found at TanyaSimoneSimpson.com

Thursday, 3 August 2017

3 poems by Kitty Coles

Snow Fell


grimly, unstoppably. I watched it fall,
imagining February '63,
the great freeze of that winter,
whiteness, whiteness, and filth
where whiteness soiled and churned to slush.

This was a dream, and in the dream
I thought the words 'snow fell'
would open my great novel,
in which I fictionalised my dream experience
as the biographer of Sylvia Plath,
living through winter, writing about her
in other winters, writing, wintering.

I watched the snowfall from a leaded window.
The house was very tall.
Pedestrians appeared the size of fieldmice.
There was a postbox
and they struggled to it,
wearing red scarves that bloomed
like hothouse flowers.
Everything else was monochrome, ice-hard.

There was a demon living in the house,
wearing a woman's shape,
a cardigan. I'd thought she was
my friend, till she confided
that she'd killed Sylvia Plath,
and smiled at me,
saying she shared
this revelation with me
so I'd include it in my upcoming book
and cause shockwaves
across the writing world.







Kitty lives in Surrey and works as a senior adviser for a charity supporting disabled people. Her poems have appeared in magazines including Mslexia, Iota, Obsessed With Pipework, The Interpreter's House, The Frogmore Papers and Envoi. She is one of the two winners of the Indigo Dreams 2016 Pamphlet Prize and her debut pamphlet, Seal Wife, will be published in August 2017.



------
First published on 02/02/2017

The Pain


Drops from on high, sudden as an inkblot,
seeps its Rorschach fingers through clear water.

It stirs and churns, dark birds against pale sky.
Its bills come into play, its eager claws.

It creeps my bones like insects, like an army.
It colonises, takes up residence.

It spreads its roots, weighs anchor, builds a nest,
flooding the limbs like lava or like blood.

I wear it like a coat. It wraps me tight
and blankets me in dark for days and days.

Like ivy, it winds me with creeping arms.
It feeds itself on me, grows sleek and fat,

a kraken-squid breaking the ocean's surface,
claiming my territory as its own.






Kitty lives in Lightwater, Surrey, and works as an adviser for a charity supporting disabled people. She has been writing since she was a child and her poetry has appeared in magazines including Mslexia, Iota, Obsessed With Pipework, The Interpreter's House, Frogmore Papers and Ink Sweat and Tears.

--------
First published 21/07/2016

Homunculus


You were the best of all my progeny,
chip of my soul, a sprite of fire and air.
I watched you grow, I taught you how to be,
believed you pure as the breath I made you with,
blood of my blood, eyes wet with my own tears,
gave you my hair and nails, dear voodoo imp.

It was from love for you I turned you loose.
You bayed for freedom and I set you free
to scuttle like a leaf down night-time streets.
I feared the wind would blow you in the river,
feet stomp you flat, a starved cat gulp you down,
but set my fears aside to please you, heart-mouse.

Now you're full grown, o how you disappoint me!
You're dirty faced and pick up dirty habits.
Your words are scraped from gutters, dregs of bottles.
You strut like a cock on a muckheap, crow and cackle.
You're red of wattle, feet scabby as a pigeon's,
rat-toothed and greedy, muncher of old peelings.

Your clothes are heavy with ribbons, tawdry sequins,
you seize in your magpie fists and scarper with.
Your nails grow long and click like a dog's
as you beetle up walls, through windows,
in search of gewgaws. The sound of them scares
decent people indoors, closing their curtains.
O ram of many horns, o mucky baby,
o bull-bellied roarer, o my nasty pet!


Monday, 31 July 2017

A poem by Mat Riches

Person Buried Up To Their Neck In A Forest


In here no one hears trees falling, or do they?
I have listened, but lost interest and the will;
being too caught up in the rushes of blood in my ears
and in the high noises of forest animals.

I no longer have it in me to even sweat,
or can no longer be really sure it’s me.
It could be moisture, or the leeching of water tables.
What’s left of my clothes barely offers up heat.

I have had to learn to be comfortable
pissing myself, like an old hand deep-sea diver.
It’s all I have left to feel now, and manages to just
remind me I am at least for now still alive.

I’d always doubted the industry of ants,
of stag beetles or the sheer point of centipedes.
I suspect that in the real long run I will become theirs,
and accept now I have no choice but to believe.

How did it get to this, to be this in the dark?
I’ve got a lungful of air left here, you may as well ask.











Mat Riches lives in Beckenham, Kent, but will always have Norfolk in his heart. He is a father to Florence and a husband to Rachael, and by day he is a mild-mannered researcher in the TV industry.
He has previously been published in And Other Poems, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Obsessed With Pipework and Snakeskin Press. He is about yea high.
Blog: https://matriches76.wordpress.com
Twitter: @matriches

Sunday, 30 July 2017

2 poems by Louisa Campbell

Empty


Stephen’s in the office throwing chairs out
of the window.
He stops to send me messages.

There’s soup on my keyboard, he says.

I say, ‘Maybe you should finish your soup
before you start throwing chairs out
of the window.’

How do you know
I have been throwing chairs out of the window?


‘Because you are Stephen.’

I am tired; the chairs are heavy.

‘Perhaps, if you took the people out first?’

But what would be the point in that?







First published in Amaryllis, Louisa Campbell now has a pamphlet, The Happy Bus, forthcoming with Picaroon. She has realized that life is silly, but important, and is pleased about that.

------
First published by 17/11/2016

Feral You


Oh no, no, no do not forgive,
but grab on tight to all your grief.
Don’t take your fury by the arm
and frogmarch it into the street:
It will survive on scraps of thoughts
and memories left out for it

and sometimes scrawny, sometimes sleek,
at night time it will stand and screech as
bold as brawn, outside your gate,
when you're grown up,
when it's too late.





Saturday, 29 July 2017

A poem by Órla Fay

Crossing


Each time I cross the bridge
I meet myself there with a bicycle,
twenty three summers ago in the dawn light.
Had we even slept at all that night?
We stayed up late smoking cigarettes
listening to the radio, enchanted
by blackbird singing in the dead of night
as the barely dark darkness left.
All of us in that one little room
where everything happened.
How big it seems now

How final that we can never be there again
and yet how alive it is in memory,
more vibrant and real for its weight
in realisation . Nobody could have told me
then that years later I would be standing
outside as I now am, looking in on myself.
But there was one night when I was fifteen
with my ears recently pierced – I’d taken
a stud out to clean and fainted trying to put
it back in place. Coming to I swore I’d seen a ghost,
an apparition or a reflection in the window glass.










Órla Fay is the editor of Boyne Berries Magazine and the secretary of Boyne Writers Group. Recently her work has appeared in The Ogham Stone, A New Ulster, The Honest Ulsterman and is forthcoming in The Rose Magazine. Órla had poems long listed in The Fish Poetry Prize 2017 and The Anthony Cronin International Poetry Award 2017. She recorded her poem Lau Tzu at the Door for Lagan Online's Poetry Day Ireland Mix Tape 2017. She is currently editing a special issue of Boyne Berries that will commemorate the centenary of the death of the County Meath poet Francis Ledwidge. Órla keeps a blog at http://orlafay.blogspot.ie/

Friday, 28 July 2017

A poem by Sarah James

I’ve stopped writing poetry because…


my children have eaten all the pens,
the mouse won’t click right,
my smart screen has frozen,
and the keyboard ‘e’  keeeeeps sticking;

because the days are too short,
while the nights not long enough, no-
where near in fact to the time
needed for recharging digital mind,
digital hands, handmade soul;

because in the small hours when I can’t sleep
instead of quiet space, however dark, however black,
there are tweets, instagrams, more tweets –
sunsets and memes of peace
next to the red of another shooting,
an unprovoked attack, or, on a good twenty-four,
a queue of racial/sexist/homophobic gobsmacks;

because the sounds from my tongue, fingers, heart
have no more weight now than thin air,
melt faster than a mouthful of snow,
buzz less than the fans’ spinning, the globe’s electric hum
growing louder, louder, #louder –
all other noise drops softer
than forgotten leaves on blinded sky-lights,
than the dead flies that line star-dust-shuttered windows,
than glass fragments cracking beneath my feet;

because something inside me snap-
ped like an old phone box where
the receiver’s a dangling handle   left hanging,
wires tangled,
                        pulled loose,
                                                hissing white noise –
whispers of meaning
                                    as ungraspable
as torn tissue in the wind;

because this is it –
nothing more to see or hear here,
just breathe…

because breathing through pain and thought,
words line themselves without me;

because…sometimes, there’s no reason.







Sarah James is a poet, fiction writer, journalist, and editor – fitting words around life, life around words as best she can! Her latest books are: ‘plenty-fish’ (Nine Arches Press, shortlisted in International Rubery Book Awards 2016) ‘Lampshades & Glass Rivers’ (Overton Poetry Prize 2015 winner) and a novella, ‘Kaleidoscope’. Her website is at: www.sarah-james.co.uk.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

A poem by Samantha Pearse

Mythology


Foundling,
Found in my Mothers womb,
Surprise!
The shame, Nan said
Head and cup of tea in hand at the kitchen table.

Found on the shores of the East End,
How to this rough shore?
Who are these people, Foreigners?
I do not know their ways,
They teach me

with beatings sneers, taunts,
Cheers when my accent matches.
And my Nan again mourning
Where has your lovely voice gone?

Stolen Nan, they
have taken my voice
replaced it with the Caw, cor blimey
Of the East End crow.
By day silent ghost.
Chimera.
At night I (dr/sc)ream.









Samantha Pearse’s poetry has been described as “an intelligent woman’s performance poetry” by Roger Turner and she has been praised for her “quick wit and deft lines” by Anna Saunders, director of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. She writes comedy, spoken word and poetry and has performed at Cheltenham Poetry Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Ledbury Poetry Salon, Buzzwords, the Hereford Stanza. She was runner up at Cheltenham Literature Festival Poetry Slam and is EDF Energy’s Women’s Network Poet in Residence. Her work has been used in several collaborations including one with composer Gemma Storr as part of Out of Place 2017.