*

This issue of London Grip features new poems by:

*Sally Long *Kerrin P. Sharpe *Pippa Little *Maria Taylor *Tamar Yoseloff *Fiona Moore
*Amado Storni *Bruce Christianson *Emma Lee *Alan Dunnett *David Cooke *Brian Docherty
*George Jardine *F.M. Brown *Roy Marshall *Andrew Shields *Angela Kirby *Anna Mioduchowska
*Phil Kirby *Robert Etty *Chris Jackson *Thomas Ovans

Copyright of all poems remains with the contributors

A printer-friendly version of London Grip New Poetry can be obtained at LG new poetry Summer 2012

Editor’s Introduction

Birds swoop, flutter and perch among the poems in London Grip’s summer selection. Some are dark and ominous as the crows in Van Gogh’s fatal cornfield; but there are also colourful parakeets and a loquacious goldfinch.

Once we start to look, we can see how different kinds of  birds relate to the emotions that poetry explores.  Soaring eagles stir admiration and wonder; yet a carrion-eating vulture at close quarters arouses disgust.  A dawn chorus can bring  hope ; a nightingale’s song offers a sense of calm and peace.  Brightly-coloured natural mimics like mynahs or macaws provoke delight and laughter.  Even the most innocent of small birds can give a small pang of fear by bursting from a hedgerow as we enjoy a country walk.   And, like uncontrolled emotions, birds can cause full-blown panic if they stray indoors and beat confined, domestic space with urgent wings.

Several of the poems in this issue of LG New Poetry could be classed as visiting migrants.  We have contributions from poets originating from or based in Canada, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the USA.  Our first foreign-language poem is by the Spanish poet Amado Storni; and it appears alongside a specially-composed English version.  Readers might like to respond to this – or to any other feature of London Grip poetry – by using a comment facility which follows the last poem in this posting.

I am grateful to all contributors for sending me so much enjoyable and challenging work.  And I am grateful too for the interesting email discussions that sometimes follow from my comments or suggestions about some aspect of a poem.  On a more personal note, I’d also like to take this opportunity of thanking the many readers who sent me good wishes for recovery from the broken leg I sustained through being run over by an example of the native British and ubiquitous white van; I am pleased to report that I am making good progress.

Please send submissions for the next issue (September 2012) to poetry@londongrip.co.uk, enclosing no more than three poems and including a brief, 2-3 line, biography

Michael Bartholomew-Biggs

http://mikeb-b.blogspot.com/

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*

Kerrin P. Sharpe

Shaking hands with Vincent

vincent feeds the golden mouth
of his canvas

he palm prints the wind
here a drawbridge

raises the mind
of a small horse

he paints a weathervane
as the moon's elbow

the hands of sowers
their memories of seed

a private collection
of drying fish

the potato eaters
are sleep walkers

their bullock cart
a bible of mauve earth

in the cornfield
vincent's hands are crows

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*

Kerrin P. Sharpe

Reading the Church

My mother the lay sister
translates the voices of relics
from a hammock of ribs
high in the church.

She wakes the accordion pleats
of statues. She meets
the creator of halos
the milliner, laid out in stone.

Here lambs the blood and bone
of Limbo, only imagine
the font. Here wing voices
of guardian angels

iron sheets of lead and glass
from the life of Christ.
Here the weft and warp threads
of unanswered prayers

knit the bones of the Holy Child
and his tiny sanctuary slippers.
Here my mother keeps
the hours of the Virgin

until the great cage
of the Angelus
settles around her.


Kerrin P. Sharpe
is a teacher of creative writing. She has recently been published in Best NZ Poems 08, 09 and 10, and The Best of Best NZ Poems. Her first collection will be published soon.

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***

Pippa Little

Black Middens Bastle

Crows flap the cold towards us
coming in low on undertakers’ coat-tails.
Snow smells of tin soured by mountain water
and blood’s black glaze on a dropped-too-soon’s
sodden tangle that never got warm,
picked blue in the ditch to innocent bone
by February’s end, forgotten.

Years since we came to church.
Sins and secrets, long-winded as the river
on its stony course, do their disappear, dissolve
in us,
attend their own purpose.

Black Middens is a sixteenth century fortified farmhouse on the Anglo-Scottish borders

Pippa Little is Scots, born in Tanzania, raised in Scotland and now lives in Northumberland. Recipient of an Eric Gregory Award, The Andrew Waterhouse Prize, The Biscuit International Poetry Prize and The Norman MacCaig Centenary Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in many anthologies, text journals and online. Her collections include Foray (Biscuit Press, 2009), The Snow Globe (Red Squirrel, 2011) and Overwinteringwhich is due from Oxford Poets/Carcanet in October 2012.

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***

Maria Taylor

My Uncle’s Creed

I heard my uncle’s low-slung notes
before I saw him, a feral litany of bass
pulsing through the grey paving slabs
of Kentish Town. Since he’d given up
on a son and wedlock, it seemed that God
had marked him for a book of psalms.

His eyes scraped across his set face
to look inside the mirror of my own ,
but he’d refused to speak, since I married
an englezo , so he passed, contriving to groan
Jesus Christ, the saints and the Holy Spirit
aided by a gargle of communion wine.

He headed towards his wifeless maisonette,
liturgies thrumming with the shoddiness
of all mankind, each vowel pouring like lava
with God slurred in a burning Kyrie Eleison.


Maria Taylor
is a poet and reviewer of Cypriot origin. Her poetry has appeared in publications including, The North, Staple, The Guardian and others. Her debut collection Melanchrini is out with Nine Arches Press in July 2012.

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***

Tamar Yoseloff

Iron Urns

A park, rus in urbe, a place to rest
in peace, with roses, weeping willow: 

but we can’t contain the dead,
they’re roused from sleep to sour the air,
rusting every crack and crevice, a breath
that smuts the back of necks; they’re reduced
to ash, the lug of bone made light
as laughter shivering the trees. 

We bear the weight of stones and slabs,
heaving marble garlands, plaques proclaiming
great works and deeds. They can’t release
their grip, their names chiselled
into benches where we sit. They thrust
themselves upon us, insist we don’t forget.

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***

Tamar Yoseloff

Sacred to the memory

Not even stone can hold us, words
erased in poison air. We speak without words,
with our eyes, our works, and etch
our shapes in memory;  frail lace etched
in the brain. In poison air we speak
with angels, scrolls and glyphs. We speak
in memory, its frail lace, honour
what has turned to dust ; we honour
stone. Even stone will turn to dust
where all around us is erased, and dust
remembers nothing,  no eyes, no shapes.
We hold on to words: how we shaped
our lives, our works (they vanish into air),
how we etched memory in the air.

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***

Tamar Yoseloff

Whitechapel

The trees imprison me, rigid wardens.
I match them in my stillness, my stiff
resolve. The marrow of the dead
seeps into their roots, they carry omens
in their leaves. I cannot leave 

as long as they are watching.
They smuggle night inside their trunks
and in daylight, crowd the glass with shadows.
They reflect their frozen sky in me,
my sightless eye, my hardened cheek. 

The bars caress my face, a grid of days.
The world is square, like the map
that shows us where we are: I am here.
You are somewhere else.


Tamar Yoseloff’s
fourth collection, The City with Horns, was published by Salt in 2011 (a London Grip review by Chris Beckett appears at http://londongrip.co.uk/2011/11/poery-review-winter-2011-yoseloff/). She has recently published the poem Desire Paths, a limited edition with woodcuts by Linda Karshan printed by the Galerie Hein Elferink (Netherlands). The poem above is from the pamphlet Formerly, with photographs by Vici MacDonald, to be published in June 2012 by Hercules Press.

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Fiona Moore

Limehouse

 Is it you following me, or I you –
      sensing rather than seeing,
you who look so tall around each corner –
and is our life slipping away
      a shadow on water?

      How can we find each other
as we pass through these night streets, this gap-toothed square
      its portico risen from grime,
down narrow-lit alleys, the same maze but changed
      that we never walked together?

      The house looms
known in the dark, suspended over the river.
      Waves lap sunken piles.
I open the door, but like a cupboard, it’s full
      of a long-gone winter – 

blankets, dry driftwood, coats.  I start pulling them out
      but are you still there,
      can we find our way?
Drowning in wool, in the old sound of the river
      I wake, and wonder:  

is it you following me, or I you
and is our life slipping away
      a shadow on water?

Fiona Moore lives in Greenwich, London, and has had poems in various magazines, last year including Poetry London and The Rialto. She has a blog at http://displacement-poetry.blogspot.com. She has a pamphlet forthcoming from HappenStance

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***

Alan Dunnett

On Reputation

Scarred as the Martian cliffscape,
blind as the Cyclops deceived,
frail as a Chinese lantern,

you graciously accept invitations
and enter breath-held rooms
with modest charisma.

The rounds of delicate applause
must have been for you but that summer
has turned to winter.

I take your cold hands in mine
and look into your eyes
and see what you can see.

You speak again of supper
with the Archduke and a party on the water
and the odour of the gods.

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***

Alan Dunnett

Politics or The Way Of The World

All arguments stop here, you imagine,
although they have at last closed the border.
No more crossings.  Their dogs will talk to us.

Naturally, there will be some seepage.  Air
is large.  How can they keep everyone in?
By night, I work on the accounts.  One coin,

then another.  I hear them fall like sleet
with a consistency of stone.  Money
brings happiness if only I balance

the books.  We could get out tonight except
they would then follow or even now, yes,
be waiting for us... I promised but secrets

unbind themselves at last.  Definition
is a movable feast under each sun.

Alan Dunnett is the MA Screen Course Leader at Drama Centre London, Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. His poem-film ‘Let In’ has recently been selected for several international festivals including Cyprus, Nuremburg and Kenya. Poems will soon be appearing in The Robin Hood Book and Other Poetry

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Brian Docherty

Refugee status

The sky flashes pink/green/pink/grey
through the larch trees lattice; occupying
the plain below us, is a town my parents
cannot name. Nana would if she could speak,;
she knows the place, its local delicacies,
the local dances, what rogues the traders are,
which edge of the border jigsaw we fit on.
Every day we have learned the same lesson
about strokes, wheelchairs, and old women.
My sister died in these woods two days ago.

This town has a large square, a town hall,
a campanile, no church that we can see.
There will be banks, pawnbrokers, phones,
fax, perhaps a bribeable clerk or official
who will let us board a bus or train quietly.
This morning Mama found our lost heirlooms
in Nana’s soiled underclothes. Two weeks ago
selling these things could have flown us out.
Now we shall have to take our chances here.
First we have to steer Nana down this slope.

Uncle Paul would not have gotten this far;
he sought sanctuary in the Hospice opposite
the unmarked building where he was grilled
by men in matching leather coats, beaten &
broken, dumped in an alley, pissed on by dogs,
left as crow meat for professing his faith in public.
The ten-year-old robbers who took his shoes
& wallet shouted this news up to our window.
We packed one bag each before the Offical Visit.
Now we will see how far our faith takes us.

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Brian Docherty

Arc

Canadians can outtalk Texans on size;
moose will win that argument every time,
big hat no cattle gets you sent to Calgary.
Flying to San Francisco from London
seemed to happen mostly in Canadian
airspace, hour after hour overflying
the sort of Arctic waste the Mounties
always got their man in; there really
was no hiding place, or at least none
unclaimed by wolves or hibernating bears.

The pilot pointed out salient features
as if we might need to remember these
if the plane crashed and we survived.
Places I had heard of materialised,
arranged carelessly on either side of
the 49th parallel’s ideological construct;
Mt. Hozomeen, Desolation, Terror,
proved suitably awesome & desolate
but Jack Kerouac danced into my dream
waving his wine jug shouting Go! Go!

I had looked forward to seeing Denver,
keen to match Dynasty’s credits to reality,
as the plane cruised over the Rockies,
but our world is a multi-dimensional book,
& now, following the Earth’s curvature,
I was flying west into a new morning,
the arc over Iceland, Greenland, Canada
shadows the Viking route to Vinland
where everything seemed possible,
and still does to travellers heading West.

Brian Docherty lives in north London and is a member of Word for Word Writers Group.
He has 3 books; Armchair Theatre (Hearing Eye, 1999), Desk with a View (Hearing Eye, 2008) and
Woke up this Morning (due from Smokestack Books, Oct 2012).

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***

Sally Long

King Raven

Come on then.

First, at dawn
lambs’ hearts, liver, quails.
Each day I tend them,
warder, doctor,
counsellor.

Gwylum, Munin, Baldrick
scurrying with clipped wings,
Branwen, Gundulf.
I watch over them
my time shackled by theirs.

All through the day
there’s talk of severed heads
and tales of those who fled the Tower
but Hugine, Erin, Merlin
you will never leave.

Then at dusk,
away from feral cat and fox,
safe behind bars
Thor steals my words
and tosses them back.

Come on then.

This poem uses actual names of ravens in the Tower of London. (Ravens are excellent mimics).

Sally Long is a teacher and postgraduate Creative Writing student at the universities of Newcastle and East London. Her poems have been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears and South.

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Amado Storni

Y yo tan solo                                                                              What my loneliness is like

Sincero como los niños y los borrachos,                                       As earnest as a child or drunkard,
travieso como la musa de los artistas,                                         tantalising as an artist’s muse,
inútil como la flor del coleccionista,                                             flat and sterile as pressed flowers,
extraño como los besos en los despachos.                                  out of place as kisses in an office.

Absurdo como las balas y las banderas,                                      Absurd as banners vindicating bullets,
insulso como los labios hechos de mármol,                                 bland as parted lips in marble,
herido como las hojas que caen del árbol,                                   blighted as the autumn’s cast-off leaves,
errante como el aroma de Primavera.                                           elusive as the scents of spring.

Distante como la voz de los dictadores,                                       Muffled as mouthed edicts from dictators,
perdido como un “te quiero” en un telegrama,                            incongruous as love you in a telegram,
confuso como la muerte frente al espejo.                                    confused as Death reflected in a mirror.

Inquieto como un alérgico entre las flores,                                  Edgy as my allergies near flower beds,
vacío como un diario sin crucigrama...                                         empty as my daily paper with no crossword ….
Y yo siempre tan solo y tu siempre tan lejos.                               and desolate as I am always while you stay away.

 (English version by GW and MBB)

Amado Storni (a pseudonym in honour of the Argentinan poet Alfonsina Storni) was born in Madrid. He has published four poetry collections, most recently Post no Passes (Net Vision Publishing, 2008). For more information see http://amadostorni.blogspot.com/
GW is a professional translator living and working in New York; MBB edits London Grip new Poetry

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Emma Lee

Photo, Cotswolds circa 1935

His wife has the most sunlight and the darkest look.
One arm hidden could be fingering a dagger
in the folds of her black dress.

She's all angles, wiry hair pulled from her face.
Her husband's lover fusses over a collie,
shoulders and arms rounded, her features soft,
her light tweeds better suited to country living,
the bag on her lap big enough to cover her heart.

The friend is the only one smiling, projecting
the relaxed image of being in good company.
The husband/photographer controls the view,
choosing what he wants us to see.

Emma Lee’s collection Yellow Torchlight and the Blues was published by Original Plus. She blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com and regularly reviews for The Journal and Sphinx.

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Bruce Christianson

The Show Must Go On

death stands in the wings
the maiden, in the spotlight
catches his eye and winks
(offstage they were an item
for a while but kept it quiet)

this time when she collapses
it's for real, her heart has stopped
death steps forward, right on cue
as the children scream delighted
he's behind you

Bruce Christianson is from Whangarei, in New Zealand. After training as a mathematician he has spent twenty-five years teaching in Hertfordshire. Death knows where he is.

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David Cooke

Nevsky Prospekt

Having survived the impoverished years
with a patience that comes from impeccable
breeding, Nevsky Prospekt makes its way
like the grand narrative of history –

from Moscow Station where we arrived,
bleary eyed on the night-train and felt how air
was chiller, to the state rooms of the Hermitage
which later we duly admired.

The slightly crumbling neo-classical
facades were the pastel shades of icing, pale blues
and greens, while the yellow, an ocean of paint
picked up as a cheap job lot,

is said to create the illusion of warmth
in the depths of winter’s depression.
There were amputees on the pavement,
their stumps bound tightly in parcel tape,

and bored touts like jesters
in brightly coloured boiler-suits.
Loud hailers that crackled all day long
were promoting city tours

and not proclaiming some new invasion.
Beneath its theatrical drapes a shopping mall
was being scrubbed for the future,
the age of the oligarch and the business lunch.

David Cooke won a Gregory Award in 1977 and published Brueghel’s Dancers in 1984, but then stopped writing for twenty years. His retrospective collection, In the Distance, was published in 2011 by Night Publishing. A new collection, Work Horses, will appear in 2012 from Ward Wood Publishing.

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George Jardine

How To Make A Summer Radio With Discarded Objects

take a butter box and an old fire grate
some loops of rainbows to reel in the songs
that are gathering  just over there
listen to the secrets that stayed whispering
never thinking they would be broadcast
to all the listeners tuning in already
blue and white gingham to cover the lid
where the speakers are waiting to send out
sounds and a couple of standards from the
broken fence to secure the radio as the
earth is still shaking and stretch number eight
wire up past the clouds to receive the announcements
that jostle in the air waves then lie back and listen
to your own real radio ears smiling what skill

George/ Teoti Jardine, was born in Queenstown, of Maori, Irish and Scottish descent and has been writing poetry off and on most of his life. He has had poems published in Te Panui Runaka, the Burwood Hospital News Letter and the Christchurch Press Poetry section.

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***

F.M. Brown

Spring harvesting

I usually don't mind this time of year
But I ask you - call this spring?
I’d tell you what I call it
Only it's not fit for ladies
They say we need the rain
Well I bloody don't for one mate

That's for sure
When I'm out all weathers
And sod all to show for it
What with all them blooming flowers.
You tell me what's gone to seed in April
I'll tell you what

Nothing

Well nothing bar them bloody dandelion clocks
I says to my missus, I says
Them as is always going on about
Living in the country
Should try it for a while
How would they manage

Foraging for puff balls?
That's what I'd like to know
Too much damned puff and not enough balls
That's what I say
That always makes my missus laugh
Well these days if you can't laugh
What can you do?

Nothing
That's what

Anyway so back we are
With them itty-bitty seeds
And a family to feed
Well usually I just get on with it
But when it comes to picking at wet fluff
There I draw the line

And another thing
With the heads so full of water
As soon as I get on the job
The whole damn thing keels over
And dumps me in the grass
Apart from soaking me through something awful
It makes me look ridiculous

I've seen them peeping
From behind their nets
And laughing
They think it's a great lark
Well it's not, madam
It's a bloody goldfinch
Just trying to make a living.

F.M. Brown was born in Yorkshire but came south to Bedfordshire and subsequently began writing poetry – some of which has been published in Other Poetry, Interpreter’s House and London Grip

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Roy Marshall

Myths of London’s Parakeets

1966

Jimi Hendrix pushes up the sash;
a breeding pair skims his halo of curls,
screeches over Montagu square, settles
in a plane tree.

Jimi, who has just dropped a tab,
smiles at their psychedelic escape.

                ****

1950

In Shepperton for ‘The African Queen’,
Humphrey Bogart, cigarette glued
to his lip, is feeding ring-necks
apple from a knife.

Bogie calls to Lauren and they leave:
The door is open to the sky behind them.

	****

1857

John Samuels, a Hampstead lawyer,
gifts two birds to his ailing daughter.
She adores them for their rosy beaks,
their emerald-green plumage.

In a week he takes the cage to the heath,
throws birds to the air, his tears streaming.

Roy Marshall is based in Leicester and has only recently begun to send work to magazines. He has had work accepted by The Rialto, Magma, Staple, Smiths Knoll, The Shop and elsewhere. His pamphlet Gopagilla will is published by Crystal Clear Creators in 2012.

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Andrew Shields

Waltz

A tickle in the throat announces flu.
Three days, too long to try to fight it off.
Thirty days to pay off all the bills.
Three hundred to be born, and more to die.
The idle moments are the ones that count.

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Andrew Shields

Transplant

A blackbird sings at high noon
in the hospital park.
She'll be going home soon
with her brand-new heart.

Someone died, and someone's saved
for a few more years.
The silent blackbird flies away
from once and future tears.

Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland, and teaches in the English Department at the University of Basel. His poems and translations have been published worldwide. His most recent book publication is A Matter of Wonder (Karger, 2011), a collection of science essays by Gottfried Schatz, translated from the German.

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Angela Kirby

Waiting for Muhommed

How loud those small birds sing.
The coffee’s cold, croissants
and sugared rolls lie untouched
on a white plate. From my balcony
I watch cruisers, ferries, yachts,
come and go between small fleets
of fishing boats, hear you saying
Oh, for Christ's sake, these things
run their course, but you’re the past,
way back in Barcelona, while Spain
is just a long blue stain of hills
across Bab el-Zakat. 

                                  How quickly
they’ve gone, these last six months,
how smoothly, sailor, you’ve faded
into the sea-mist. I take your
lucky dollars from their chain, toss
them down into the courtyard
where they splash and glitter
among euros, cents and dirhams
in the fountain’s mosaic bowl.

In just five minutes, Muhommed
and his rusting cab will be here.
He’ll bow, smile, fling open its boot,
its battered door, ask And where to
now, Madame? as if I really knew.

Angela Kirby was born in Lancashire and now lives in London. Her poems are widely published and have won a handful of prizes. She was the BBC’s Wildlife Poet of the Year in 1996 and 2001. Her two collections, Mr Irresistible and Dirty Work, are published by Shoestring Press.

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Anna Mioduchowska

Even When Light Failed

Mirrors have a heart of stone.
The harsh/tender eyes of the thirteen year old
dig into every reflective surface lying in wait
along a path strewn with enough obstacles
to challenge a champion, and sure enough,
they unearth nothing but doubt.
Is my hair straight enough, my neckline
low enough, my lips enough, my shoes, my bag?

I steal into the panes Pamela leaves behind,
search for traces of what she cannot perceive,
even with her 20/20 vision.
But mirrors are harder than stone.
Meticulously treacherous, they wipe every face
from memory as soon as it turns.

Stone would take pity, safeguard the image,
embellish, stand by in this world and the next.
If Pamela’s frowns, secretive smiles were chiselled
in granite, she could wander among them
and even when light failed, touch the arch of her nose,
curve of the lip, know herself to be daughter
of the sun god, queen of all Egypt:

a lion with a woman’s face one day, bearded
conqueror the next.

A girl feeding sunflowers
to a hungry nuthatch, pink barrette in her hair
in place of the sacred serpent, the cell phone
her key of life.

Anna Mioduchowska’s poems, translations, stories, essays and book reviews have appeared in numerous literary journals, anthologies, newspapers, on buses, and have been aired on the radio. An author of two poetry collections, In-Between Season, and Some Flowers Do Well in Flowerpots, she was born in Poland and lives in Edmonton, Canada

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***

Phil Kirby

Ammonite

They trudge the shingle beach again,
each giving step resounding down
through depths of sea-smoothed stones,

and push towards the farther end
to search amongst a cliff’s collapse
for traces of an ancient world.

Their brightly-chequered travel rug
asserts a garish square of now
onto the gently curving strand,

its muted palette of the past -
all ferrous brown and creamy flint,
or blue-grey lias, fossil-flecked –

and there they sit, absorbed by waves,
allowing time to pass until
the daughter finds an ammonite,

her little fingers following
its corrugated swirling lines
as if to draw the solid ghost

of life that lived so long ago
that putting numbers to the years
is meaningless for her. She knows

no more than here and now, but sees
how much the fossil’s shape is like
an ear, and holds it to her own.

 

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***

Phil Kirby

The Name

‘There’s nothing left,’ a local said.
The platform’s gone, the station house
converted to a private home –
adventure playground for the kids,
a bench beside the Evenlode.

Across the tracks a nettled yard
that’s full of disused vehicles,
flat-tyred or burned-out, rusting through
the quiet hours while nothing comes
or goes but cars over the bridge

which saunter up the hill towards
a bigger town and never turn
along the narrow road that leads
to Adlestrop, its sloping lanes
of honeyed walls and early blooms,

its tiny multi-purpose shop
closed-up for lunch, its silent church
which gazes blankly over fields,
these empty fields of Gloucestershire –
all stilled, as in a daydream pause.

Where buses loiter once a day
a shelter - neatly kept, like new -
displays the station’s cast iron sign
as if announcing: where you stand
is something more than just a name.

Originally from Chingford, Phil Kirby currently lives and works in Gloucestershire. He has run Waldean Press, been an East Midlands Arts ‘New Voice’ and bursary recipient, has had several pamphlets published and his first full collection,Watermarks from Arrowhead Press, came out in 2009. More at his website: www.waldeanpress.co.uk. He can also be followed on Twitter: @pkk31

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***

Robert Etty

On A Green Lane In The Afternoon

The green lane alongside Pickering’s Wood
in the patchy shadows of half-past four
with grass stalks wagging slightly and sissing
and Clump Hill Farm brown and grey on its rise
is a place not to let the past dog your heels
or be in two minds about being unsure
but to feel the air at your unbuttoned neck
and look at rose hips, and blue flies on leaves.

I was walking there and it was September.
Buzzards were circling ellipses of sky,
swallows swerved in and out of spaces,
slavering cows’ dewlaps wobbled and swung
and September was as it usually was.
Sunlight lit on the shape of a fox,
gingerish at the foot of the hedge
that was leading me round a bend in the lane.

The fox didn’t see me or hear me or smell me,
but stared as I closed in on where it sat
across the field at something or anything.
Then it stood slowly, yawned, showed me its rump
and began to pick its steps through the grass.
The grass was warm, the puddles crazed,
sun and what breeze there was in our faces
and neither of us saw reason to hurry,

but the hawthorn hedge suddenly rattled
and snapped and a wood pigeon clattered
out of the foliage, shakily steadied
and launched overhead in a clapping arc.
As it flew across, the fox cowered and peered
and its gaze fell from pigeon to me.
Then the nettles it slipped into closed behind
and gnats brought news of the following day.

Robert Etty was born in Lincolnshire, where he still lives. His poems have appeared in a range of magazines and his most recent collection is The Horncastle Executioner, published by Nunny Books of Grimsby.

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***

Chris Jackson

The Spider

On hearing Dusapin’s String Quartet No. 6 (‘Hapax’)

I am, of course, a spider:
      my obstinacy, a viola;
my gossamer back-and-forthing,
      woven ruminations
of a violin. Watch me,
      busy always to continue
a spider’s life. All things
      love the little kingdom
they inherit. This is home,
      intricate with fetched
fidget, this scratchy bow-flight
      is a busy cello urging
me to tracery,
      all tossed about in
winds of orchestra.
      And did you hear that bar
when everything united,
       when an abseil’s pause
swung, magnified
       by a coalescence in the score?
It was as if the sun
       saw our swaying,
and hurried to republish
      the mystery
of me.

Chris Jackson lives in Hackney and works as a journalist. Over the last few years, his poems have appeared in many magazines and sites including Ambit, Equinox, The Interpreter’s House and Ink, Sweat & Tears. He reads regularly at London venues. An e-chapbook The Monkey Fragment is forthcoming from Silkworms Ink.

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***

Thomas Ovans

All of me

From words made famous by Gerald Marks & Seymour Simons

Once I was all heart with eyes
on you.  That left no part of me
I'll never want to lose to you.
Was I to go "My left arm’s all
that I can part with"? No! So you can
use me how you want to!  Take
the part I’ll never use without you;
part your wanton lips and cry
"Go on! Go on! That was so good!"

Eyes see; eyes want - that was why
you took me on.  Arms use; arms lose;
lips go "goodbye dear" - that was how
you left me.  All your "I’m so good
to you" was cant.  You never took
my wants to heart.  You never took me
to see Can-Can - not with all
the good parts.  I was left with out-takes:
I'll go with them to the can.

Thomas Ovans has worked for many years as a technical writer and editor. He has recently extended his output to include literary articles and reviews – not to mention poetry which has appeared in London Grip and Smiths Knoll

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