Monday, 30 January 2017

A poem by A.J. Huffman

The Sensation of Light

is like the soft petting of a hand
intent on delivering pleasure to skin
starving for warmth. This subtle
silken movement designed to generate
the slightest friction becomes a kiss
that could shatter glass. The explosion
that follows is a slow-motion montage
of erotic misery, not that it matters.
The falling, not the remaining,
pieces are the point.

A.J. Huffman has published thirteen full-length poetry collections, thirteen solo poetry chapbooks and one joint poetry chapbook through various small presses. Her most recent releases, The Pyre On Which Tomorrow Burns (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink), A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press), and Familiar Illusions (Flutter Press) are now available from their respective publishers. She is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2600 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, The Bookends Review, Bone Orchard, Corvus Review, EgoPHobia, and Kritya. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

2 poems by Paul Tristram

Top Hat Lane’s Furthest Lamppost

They found him dangling
by a knotted, old, dirty cravat
she had given him, with smiles
and kisses, five Christmases before.
Swaying slightly anticlockwise
above a puddle of piss the shape of Wales.
A jackdaw squawking the alarm
from just above his right shoulder.
As Milkmen churn their early hours
and the petrichor steamed off his Crombie coat.
He had climbed an invisible yet mental
and emotional makeshift ladder
up and into the waiting room next door.
Those tattooed hands
which had once fought battles
and lovingly cradled babies
now hung limply by his side.
They found a broken crucifix
inside his waistcoat pocket
next to a folded police station bail form
and a lock of woven Celtic red hair.
He was cut down by the Butcher
and laid in the gutter by the side of the road.
Until the horses had eaten their oat breakfast
and the Undertaker a signature to spare.

First published 23/05/2016

No More Punches

She’s the oldest
homeless person in town.
Scuppers down
in one of the old
disused shunt
railway wagons
close to the edge
of the industrial estate.
Spends most of the day
in the private doorway
next to Mothercare.
She has the only case
of Tourette’s
I’ve ever heard
not involving swear words.
Instead she spontaneously
“No More Punches!”
everybody calls her Judy
and the youngsters
have fun baiting her
with their cruel gameplay.
And it’s hard to approach her,
what with the extreme smell
and the verbal outbursts.
But the few that do,
I watch intently.
For although
I’m more spiritual
than religious.
It’s the closest thing
I’ve witnessed to Heaven.

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet.

Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press)  ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ and a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope. You can also read his poems and stories here!

Monday, 23 January 2017

2 poems by Abegail Morley

Lifting the Lid

We aren’t supposed to meet in life. It’s so wet,
pavements have lost their grip, a stretch of salted path
carves its way between us. When we do touch

it’s like a sudden call from a darkened room,
an ungloved hand plunged into ice, a shrapnel wound.
And so we meet in this scrubbed city, shed our skins

in doorways where bygone women scoured steps
till their knuckles bled, hands buckled like old machinery.
They’re archived too, shelved by age, arranged by date.

We clutter the stacks, feel his hands hover over us –
wonder if he’ll pause, single us out, lift lid, spill
contents that babble in lost tongues. But he doesn’t. 

Boxed in 

I’m the girl trapped in the box, stomach
an empty honeycomb,
gold drained,
dull lustre,
tinny when touched
by a raised hand.

My sentence noosed, half-said,
latches to lips,
a parasite with arrhythmic heart.
I recite a shopping list
of incidentals:
a quarter pound of cherries

(I can almost taste their sweetness, but not quite).

The Skin Diary from Nine Arches Press is Abegail Morley’s fourth collection. Her debut, How to Pour Madness into a Teacup was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection. Snow Child and Eva and George are published by Pindrop Press, The Memory of Water is an Indigo Dreams pamphlet. She is co-founder of EKPHRASIS commissioning poets to respond to, and perform at exhibitions including The Royal Academy and The British Library. She was Canterbury Poet of the Year 2015 and blogs at The Poetry Shed

Monday, 16 January 2017

A poem by Patricia Walsh

Razor Wire

You cut yourself on a path to freedom
gouging a desire, a nature discerning
through a glass brightly, a revelation sure.

Beautiful creatures cut you to the quick
the dead carve memorabilia on your able skin,
powdered initiatives sucking dryness bare.

Cat bell on my wrist, no impending danger
necessitates the sound of a caged cat's wiles.
An antichrist's calling, a damned's response.

Climbing over illicit walls, wires to be cut
could you walk for miles and miles and miles
after various incisions, bleeding from tenacity.

You make your escape, ragged though it is.
Paths to freedom wet from endurance
immaterial, for the last time, now defunct.

Relationship status, disappeared
once over the edge, you are gone for dust,
hitting the ground stumbling, speaking mania.

An open coffin eats at your speed
at which your escape is found wanting
flourishing in headstones, a triumph remembered.

No funeral can cull you, no burial discern
a cartoon existence suiting you fine
a remembrance of a kind, a suture redeemed.

Patricia Walsh was born in Burn Fort in 1976. Previously she has published a collection of poetry, titled Continuity Errors, in 2010, and has since been published in a number of journals across Ireland, the UK, and the US.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

A poem by Ann Leahy

Cellulite Bandits

for (but not about) my sisters   

We are the cellulite bandits.
We threaten with a flash of thigh.
From editors of Tabloids, we enquire
‘Why stick to breasts if you like wobbly bits?’

We strut on beaches wearing scarlet
thongs, urging other bathers not to hide -
‘Admit it, dimples do look cute on thighs.’
We are the cellulite bandits.

Coffee, clotted cream, chocolate with red wine –
we publish diets that are good for it,
campaign for stipple, champion wood chip
and threaten with a flash of thigh.

We raid department stores, mount pickets
over sales of firming gel. ‘CHOOSE CELLULITE.’
our placards say, ‘THIGH-DIMPLE PRIDE.’
We are the cellulite bandits.

On Rubens’ birthday, we arrange for picnics
at pool sides – dress optional. Guests vie
to win the titles ‘Lumpiest’, ‘Ms Jellified.’
We are the cellulite bandits.
We threaten with a flash of thigh.

(This poem was previously published in the collection 'The Woman who Lived her Life Backwards' Arlen, 2008)

Ann Leahy’s first collection, ‘The Woman who Lived her Life Backwards,’ (Arlen House, 2008) won the Patrick Kavanagh Award. Individual poems have also won or been placed in national competitions in Ireland and the U.K. (such the Gerard Manley Hopkins, The New Writer, the Poetry on the Wall, Clogh Writers,’ and others) and she has twice had poems commended in the British National Poetry Competition. She was also shortlisted for a Hennessy award. Her poems have been published widely in journals and anthologies. She grew up in Co. Tipperary and lives in Dublin.

Monday, 9 January 2017

A poem by Jeffrey Heath

Wedding Rings You’ve Lost Along the Way


The first
                   (not your real mother's
but she took you to raise)
sleeps like ashes in a box,
etching smoothed to a sigh
over years of turning it 'round
holding the stone in her palm
through every Sunday service.


Your husband's,
                    cut away in a sterile room
from a swollen, bloodless finger,
a day after you disclosed the affair.
Stray fist against the stone walls of
a home in a storm, slowly melted,
never realizing what was broken,
No way to save it, they said;
now he wears it as a groove,
bone raised around empty space.


Then it was your own
stolen by a whisper of current,
surfacing from the Gulf waters.
You renewed your vows there:
a beach outside Pensacola,
salt in your hair & a sting on your lips.
Eighteen years, give or take a separation.
Hands naked,
                                  joined together
remarried to an ocean.

Jeffrey Heath formerly lived as a cat stalking the shores of South Florida. He currently lives in Memphis, TN where he works for a non-profit. His work has appeared online and in print in PSH, Eunoia Review, Synesthesia Literary Journal, The Syzygy Poetry Journal, and as a Goodreads monthly feature among others.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

A poem by Stuart Bartholomew


At swingball speed, the wren
arcs towards the square
of light. The spittoon clang
of beak on glass chills;

the bird hitting laminate
is the soft touch of a brush.

Will small birds ever
forgive us for erecting
invisible walls across
banks of open sky?

Will we ever forgive them
for being able to fly?

Stuart Bartholomew runs a large bookshop in the centre of Birmingham. He is a founding member of Birmingham’s new Poetry Society Stanza Group, and was recently asked by Writing West Midlands to judge this year’s Birmingham Laureate contest. He is Co-director and Lead Programmer of Verve: A new Birmingham Festival of Poetry and Spoken Word which is scheduled for 16-19 February 2017. Sometimes, he writes poetry.

Monday, 2 January 2017

A poem by Frances Sackett


The stars have kept their places
but youth has vanished, taking
all its haunting love songs.

We push age away but catch it
looming: faces of parents,
dead or alive, freeze the future.

But we are still in love.
The ‘other half’ - that hated phrase -
speaks to Death, asking how

the widowed one will gain their independence,
when independence is a childish whim
and only leaves one bond to form another.

And Death replies dispassionately:
The poison plant, the treacherous cliff,
fidelity is death in one another’s arms.

About Frances Sackett
I have written and published poetry for many years. Poems have appeared in numerous UK magazines and anthologies and I have a poetry collection called 'The Hand Glass' from Seren. I also write short stories and travel pieces.