*

The Autumn 2012 issue of London Grip New Poetry features poems by:

*Charles Lauder Jr *Jane Kirwan *Mike Barlow *Rehan Qayoom *Matthew Stewart *Thomas Roberts
*Pippa Little *David R Morgan *Murray Bodo *James Norcliffe  *Janet Simon *Peter Branson
*Wendy French *Robert Nisbet *Elizabeth Smither *Teoti Jardine *Amado Storni *Angela Kirby

Copyright of all poems remains with the contributors

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

Editorial 

Properly speaking, the cover image for this issue relates to Pippa Little’s poem Buster Keaton Risks His Life Again.  But it might also represent  my own feelings a year or so ago when (thanks to Patricia Morris) the duties of a poetry editor were about to descend on me.  Happily I have survived …

… and can reflect on “my” first postings of London Grip New Poetry.   What, for instance, have I learned about my own poetic preferences while reading  some fine and varied submissions?  Is there now an LG house-style?

What can be expected of a poem randomly selected from London Grip in 2011/12 (apart from the roughly 10% likelihood it was written by a poet from New Zealand)?  We may take it for granted that any sample poem will be well-crafted, and display energy, rhythm and inventiveness in its language; but aside from this there is perhaps a 50-50 chance it will have a narrative element and/or some degree of structure – even if this only means a fairly regular stanza pattern.  It’s also highly probable that the poet will be “present”  – maybe not as the centre of attention, but as a flesh-and-blood observer expressing compassion, understanding or possibly anger.  That being said, however, a typical London Grip poem is more likely to be understated  than overwrought; and if it shocks it will be as a sharp-edged word-knife between the ribs and not as a stream of outrage over the reader’s head.

Readers may now care to amuse themselves looking for exceptions to these rough guidelines gleaned from a not-very-scientific analysis.  But maybe it will be better just to set out to enjoy the poems…

Please send submissions for the next issue (December 2012) to poetry@londongrip.co.uk, enclosing no more than three poems and including a brief, 2-3 line, biography.  Previous issues of London Grip New Poetry can still be found on the London Grip site, under the category ‘poetry-archve’.

Michael Bartholomew-Biggs

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

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***

Charles Lauder Jr : Night Bus 

 

Night buses gather in Trafalgar like drunks
red-faced   bleary-eyed   prop up lamp-posts
swap stories   then with a sigh and a slash
heave away   all the aches and pains of a teeter
around the corner   as if on the verge
of falling over   pass among barflies and film buffs
fresh from marathons   concert-goers adrift
                                                                    like hashish smoke.
Pockmarked tarmac shakes the skull
a blind stumble where neon fears to tread
the underpass   streets of brick wall and barbed wire
guided through by quiet steady humming
that blocks out the shouting   knife fights
to the next oasis of light where a few gather
asleep on their feet from waiting tables
                                                                  walking the wards.
Conversations thick in the throat are slippery
in the ear. There are songs of wild mountain thyme
a tussle on the steps   on the next corner someone
is waving   wanting directions to Victoria
tags along to Leyton talking nonstop about the girl
he met the week before. Last stop: the chippie
				            if it’s still open
then stretched out against a back lane curb
                                                                            head empty and dark.

Charles Lauder Jr is an American poet currently living in Leicestershire. His poetry has been published in British, Irish, and American journals, including Stand, Agenda, Orbis, Envoi, The SHOp, California Quarterly, and Texas Observer. His pamphlet, Bleeds, was published earlier this year by Crystal Clear Creators.

 

 

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***

Jane Kirwan : Tram Number 20 
  
She’s lost to the world, blanking out turrets, domes, 
misses the tap on her shoulder. 
The tram’s full. Trees below the castle 
– leaves of buttercup and crimson –
pretend it's autumn, though nearly the end of the year.
A sharper tap on her shoulder.
He’s large, rough – a man you’d look away from – 
scruffy, even for Prague. 
The face of someone settled outdoors, 
busking at a fairground, palming coins for a Ghost Train, 
or in a black cape scything the top field. 
He has no appeal; a question of luck
or pay-up. She stays looking away, doesn’t check his ID. 
She knows who he is. He takes her ticket, squints, 
nods at the time shrugs. 
So it will come, out of the blue and seedy. No view.

 

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***

Jane Kirwan : Taking Care 
  
The music’s too loud
a CD of Brahms          that he claims will stir her
                                     he knows he can’t

has put bulbs she needed to plant in a bowl 
on the bedside table

                                     he forgets what they are 
– gold, the shape of his nail as he strokes 
their velvet protection –      

he should stop sitting there 
so idle              move them out of the light

buds break through 
where they ought not

                                     fat ones slit 
their papery cases
tense skin striped with purple       stained 
with yellow crusts

                                    he presses replay 
moistens her lips
picks scabs from the edges of her mouth
gently

 

Jane Kirwan has had two poetry collections, Stealing The Eiffel Tower, 1997 and The Man Who Sold Mirrors, 2003 and a prose-poetry collaboration, Second Exile, with Ales Machacek, 2011, published by Rockingham Press. She is working with Wendy French on a poetry/anecdote/fact collection in response to the threats to the NHS.

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***

Mike Barlow : Black Sauce 
  
The phone rings while I’m on with the sauce,
the crucial moment – how much mustard?            
I’m at it again, attributing malice
to the inanimate (the gate that shuts hard
on my hand, the beam that’ll drop
two centimetres as I duck). Each curse
spits and boils in its black soup.

But it could be good news or a friend
so I swallow my cook’s bile and lift
the receiver in an oil-smeared hand
to hear your distress, the involuntary sniff
of a body in its habit of pain, a mind
aware of losing itself and wanting to tell
what it knows before its gone.

White sauce, black soup, what the hell.
I crook the phone and carry on, grate
a gouge in my thumb, cry over the onion,
throw in enough chilli from the jar
to juggle all five vowels on the palate.
My appetite’s lost and my throat
makes dough with the words I’m looking for.

 

Mike Barlow won the National Poetry Competition in 2006. His third collection, Charmed Lives, is published by Smith/Doorstop.

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***

Rehan Qayoom : Post-dinner Item 
After Parveen Shakir 
  
Already we were among the prisoners of your locks
But today we want to kiss your hands as well
For today you have adorned the dinner-table
With such a delightful variety of delicacies
That we are all perplexed
About where to start 
It's amazing that in spite of being occupied 
By your so-demanding social duties
You remained kitchen-bound for so long
Surrounded by foolish cooks and unruly servants
All this much!
And such appetising food
Seems a miracle to us
On top of which is the astounding fact 
That you must be so tired
Yet you're so jocund
Lady so-and-so's feast was nothing in comparison with this

Thanks
Thank You so much for all this gratitude
Now, what shall I present to you
Tea, coffee or the poet?
 

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***

Rehan Qayoom : To a Friend 
After Parveen Shakir 
  
Girl! These moments are clouds 
You let them pass and they're gone 
Soak up their moist touch 
Don't waste a single drop 
Drench yourself for as long as 
Your inner earth remains thirsty 
Listen to me, learn from me
Downpours don't remember their way back 
The summer brightness you go out to dry your hair in 
Cannot read the road signs!

 

Rehan Qayoom is a poet and author of English and Urdu. He has appeared in numerous magazines, and anthologies and performed his work across the world. He lives in London surrounded by books

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***

 Matthew Stewart : The Club Player 
“Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn, 
Furnish’d and burnish’d by Aldershot sun…” 
   
Always the latest cars out front,
dabbed-at sweat and slopped-on perfume,
token handshakes over the net
by the spotless pre-war clubhouse
with its wall-to-wall honour boards
and lists of double-barrelled names.
  
Nobody puts a face to them.
The floodlights cool and midges swarm,
time to stand his last round of drinks.
He moved here for the short commute
and he’s leaving for 5K more.
A doppelganger town awaits.

 

Matthew Stewart works in the Spanish wine trade and lives between Extremadura, Spain, and West Sussex, England. Happenstance Press published his pamphlet collection, Inventing Truth, in April 2011, and he blogs at http://roguestrands.blogspot.com

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***

Thomas Roberts : Cycle Race
   

We leaned into its apex as the curve 
propelled us and we braced 
to accelerate.  A blur of bay  

windows reached out to touch hedges’ 
leafless bristles of brush. 
We flowed.  Words performed 

somersaults as clips of the crowd’s cheers 
missed our ears, to pass 
in the slipstream.  I glanced 

behind and right: like popcorn 
on heat a kaleidoscope of vests 
bobbed on their pedals. I just 

didn’t see his veering arc closening;
my muscles pump-primed from the sprint, 
putty.

I just didn’t see him, to decelerate.

 

Thomas Roberts is a poet and songwriter based in London where he also works as a lawyer. He is originally from County Antrim in Northern Ireland.

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***

Pippa Little : Buster Keaton Risks His Life Again 
 

 

This is your house
wafer-thin,
all-American,
nondescript –
anyone could live here, 

anyone whose life drags on, fathered
by scars,
a grown man who never smiles
 

 

I could have been happy here
I could have been unmarked
I could have been grateful. 
 

 

You do not rehearse: your life
less to you than the next cigarette.
Step, count, listen.
The camera’s rolling.

In that last second before the stunt
you wonder if your calculations were correct:
that high window right over you
black as leather, rectangular as a hangman’s drop
might save your neck, or not -
the trick is
to step out into the abyss
as if you could fly :
 

 

and through I will go 
from the next world 
back into this. 

 

In ‘Steamboat Bill Jr’, 1927, Buster Keaton stood on a precisely-calculated spot while the frontage of a house fell on him leaving him unscathed, due to the window space.

Pippa Little is Scots, born in Tanzania, raised in Scotland and now lives in Northumberland. She has received many awards and prizes and her work has appeared in Magma, Poetry Review, Orbis, and many other journals and anthologies. The Spar Box, (Vane Women 2006) was a PBS Pamphlet Choice, and her other books are  Foray (Biscuit Press 2009) and The Snow Globe (Red Squirrel 2011). Overwintering will be published by Oxford Poets/Carcanet in  October 2012.

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***

David R Morgan : Methuselah 
  
Soon most die, embracing and alone – losing nothing.
  
But this ancient man is tired. Those insurance men 
who sold him life with policies are long dead. 
He paid them out, he gathers interest now, 
and scrawls his memoirs in his retro Apple Mac.
 
There were women. Their bones fill his grey bed. 
He thinks he has them yet, like ghosts whose breath 
is soft as his. All his snows have melted their seas
in the same sun each year. He does not sleep.
   
He learned what there was to learn, left doubts room, 
even reached this uninhabitable present: 
what were limits to him? But I'm his descendant. 
I'll pay my own way, thanks. One day I'll bury him.
   
You should have expectations when you die ...
 
                                                        gaining everything.

 

David R Morgan has been an arts worker, literature officer, festival organiser and writer-in-residence for education authorities, Littlehay Prison and Fairfield Psychiatric Hospital.  He has had two plays screened on ITV and his poems have been widely published.  His latest collections are Beneath The Dreaming Tree (Poetry Space Ltd 2011) and Lightbulbs In The Sea (Knives, Forks & Spoons Press 2011).  He has also written many books for children.

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***

Murray Bodo : Hagar 
Genesis 16 
  
Light so dry it could kill
Anyone who stays outside

Light heavy as hot curses 
Nothing to do but crawl

Into the shade and pour well-
Water over her body

Lift the sun’s heavy burden
From bent scorched shoulders

Close her eyes surrender to
Imaginary mountains 

Heat waves are cool breezes
The hot sand cold lake water

And she is somewhere other
Where an Angel speaks to her

Sends her back to the duel
Between Sarai and her 

And the birth of Ishmael
Who grows up wild and cruel

She prays to God the Other
The one she saw seeing her

By the fountain of water
For her Ishmael, the other

What will become of her son
Will he be replaced, undone

 

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***

Murray Bodo : Anointing Don Aldo Brunacci 
  
You’re sitting up waiting for
the anointing, telling me

War horses pound through the walls
menacing hooves above you

Knights rear back in their saddles
their swords slice the stagnant air

Some say it’s the morphine which
can’t be true in 1209 you say

Bocce balls bang hard outside
hooves thrash in a mad frenzy

You scream mutely as in dreams
bracing yourself for the kill

And no one hears or answers
though the fresco teems with life

For hours the hooves delay
pounding your head to pieces

You wonder why you see knights
not Nazis and Fascists in

Assisi in war time or
Jews you hid from the evil

I answer, “They’re now in your 
soul’s peace where there are no walls”

I minister healing oil
hooves drop, slide off your forehead

Your eyes close, you dream good dreams

 

Don Aldo Brunacci, famed priest of Assisi who helped hide Jewish refugees during the second World War, died February 2, 2007. He was inducted among “The Righteous of Israel” for his heroic efforts.

Murray Bodo is a Franciscan Priest who resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. The author of 27 books, including the best selling, Francis: The Journey and the Dream, his poems, stories and articles have appeared in magazines and literary journals. His latest book of poems, Something Like Jasmine, with accompanying CD of Fr. Murray reading selected poems, was released by Tau Publishing in 2012

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***

James Norcliffe : Forgiveness at Ramadan’s End 
For Nukila 
  
When she returns to the world 
she wishes me well and asks
for my forgiveness, but I am 
puzzled as to what I can forgive.

She does not offer a catalogue  
of wrongs or any one specific sin
and I understand it is a blanket 
she wants of soft wool and ritual.

There is a cold breeze off the river 
and a shudder in the grass that I see
all but hides a brave grey rabbit staring 
at us, one eye bright with forgiveness.

So I point out that the commodity 
she desires can be found there, but 
she tells me that the rabbit had eyes 
only for me and besides it has gone;

it is my hand she needs to shake 
and when I give her what she 
wants she seems happy enough, 
though I am troubled wondering 

what it was that the rabbit knew. 
So I hurry back to the grassy bank,  
but the rabbit might never have
been and when I turn again I find 

myself alone once more by a stone 
too cold to sit on and nothing else 
to do but return to my room 
watch candidates on television smiling 

with love, with knowledge, 
with forgiveness.
 

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                  ***

James Norcliffe : my alien vegetable

my alien vegetable
has three small buttons
each is marked press 
  
my alien vegetable
completely eschews the earth
preferring the atmosphere
preferring to chew doggedly 
at the very air with small cogged teeth

there are fine capillary hairs
caressing my alien vegetable
they are spectral and spectrum
they glow like ghostly rainbows

my alien vegetable
disdains auto-erotica
nevertheless has
three small buttons
each marked bliss 
  
my alien vegetable has no need 
at all of a life-support system
although it does exult
in the flat-lining electronic
music of the spheres

my alien vegetable
has three small buttons
each is marked peace 
  
like the buttons marked press 
it is a small alien joke
whereas the buttons marked bliss 
are an aptitude test 
nobody has yet passed

my alien vegetable
which does not suck at the sun
follow the stars nor leave
anything to chance

has three small buttons
each is marked once

 

my alien vegetable is a riddle poem, after the Anglo Saxon tradition. The solution can be found below the poet’s biography.

James Norcliffe is an award-winning New Zealand poet, editor and writer of fantasy novels for young people. The most recent of his six collections of poetry are Along Blueskin Road, 2005, Canterbury University Press, and Villon in Millerton, 2008, Auckland University Press. Two new collections are due in 2012: Shadow Play, a finalist for the Proverse International Writing Prize, will be published by Proverse in November, and Packing a Bag for Mars, a collection for younger readers will be published by Clerestory Press.  His work has appeared in many journals including Verse, Gargoyle, Harvard Review, The Literary Review, Poetry International & The Rialto.  He was a guest poet at the XX International Poetry Festival in Medellin, Colombia in 2010 and at the Trois Rivieres International Festival in Quebec in 2011. He is currently Children’s Writer in Residence at the Otago University College of Education

The correct answer to the my alien vegetable riddle is a suicide bomb.

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***

Peter Branson : Farmers’ Market
 

What draws them here to swarm, first Saturday
each month, come cold or warm? Not home-spun cakes
and ale in truth, venison pasty, cheese,
preserves, jewellery, craft stalls, garden plants.
Hemmed in old barns and tents like words in books,
strong bloods and dolly birds of yesteryear
trump card each other, grandkids, holidays,
‘Can’t shakes it off’s, problems with waterworks.
It’s upstairs-Downton Abbey, therapy,
time warped and whiled; small sheep beyond the ha
ha, wilderness and lake snapped up, returned,
cling-wrapped, like chestnut pate, marrow jam,
to terrace, semi, bungalow or flat,
lawn picture-postcard, framed with flowers to match.

 

 

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***

Peter Branson : Gobby


Tag you got lumbered with first day; real name
I’ve no recall. You hardly ever spoke;
gestures with single words attached made do,
but symbols raised you up, 11plus and all.
Bolted, thin as an unstrung bow, all eyes,
you stooped to suit, With Tonka hands and feet,
stilt arms and legs like loose-strung bags of  bones,
pure pantomime, it never worked. I joined
your scourging, swallowed pride; when things died down,
played faithless Peter by your side,
                                                        for you,
pie crust of permanent surprise baked on
your doughy face, were indispensible.
A natural, you’d spy a nesting hole
at thirty yards. With birds, somehow you knew.
Outside your territory you’d point which patch
the garden warbler’s nest would be, spot where
the barn owl should appear and she’d be there,
pale as a ghost, gilded and quartering.
You taught me how to crouch low down against
the sun, spot fertile shapes in silhouette.
Unlike most kids, you never took the eggs;
your pockets bulged with pellets, feathers, skulls.

 

Peter Branson’s poetry has been widely published in journals and he has won the Grace Dieu and the Envoi International poetry competitions. His first collection, The Accidental Tourist, was published in May 2008 and his latest one has been accepted for publication by Salmon Press

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***

Wendy French : Terence
  
Terence wanted to be a bird
his therapist once accused him of being a magpie. 
He wasn’t a magpie, didn’t covet anything
that belonged to anyone else. 
Just wanted what was his. And sleep.
He dreamed of being a kestrel, hovering.
At school a teacher had once shouted Cuckoo,
sent him to the back of the line.
He vowed one day people would see 
how it was never his fault. 
Now was his chance to grow wings, a beak.
Circle round the back of the stage. 
He’d watched the kites feeding at Tregaron,
observed how they knew the exact moment to dive,
swoop for their prey and then with a flourish spread wings,
reach up extravagant against a sky.
 

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***

Wendy French : As It Is 
  
She tells me that stars hiss and planets whisper, 
that's when you know where to get out.
There won't be any darkness left and the hunter 
will guide your way. There are no white dragons
or midnight swans and the rain will crackle 
as the taxi draws to a halt.
Looking out 
over the cold vicarage lawn to where graveyards have held 
the dead for hundreds of years, I don't question this,
but now, glancing back over my shoulder, 
there’s a six year-old child who had no idea 
what she was on about.

 

Wendy French lives in London and facilitates writing in healthcare and educational settings. She has two full collections of poetry; the latest surely you know this, was published in 2009 by tall-lighthouse press. (The title is a fragment from Sappho.) Wendy won 1st prize in the NHS section of the Hippocrates  Poetry & Medicine prize in 2010 and was awarded 2nd prize in 2011.  She is currently working with Jane Kirwan on a collection about the NHS.

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***

Robert Nisbet : Underlings 
Sublunary (adj.): Situated beneath the moon; hence, of or pertaining to this world, terrestrial, earthly. 
  
The moon’s light is shed generously
some August nights, some white quiet
winter’s evenings. It is not much seen
in committee rooms, reception rooms
or engine rooms, but those underlings,
such as walk dogs at night,
who sometimes leave the pub a little early,
walk round the block, look at the cast and colour 
of a back garden, its stubs and pots and stems;
those who look sometimes from study bedrooms,
from top floor flats, alone such evenings,
to read or think – they,
looking from the window, will know how
the gardens, streets, back yards
are stilled by the moonlight’s unreservedness, 
its grace.

 

Robert Nisbet lives in Haverfordwest, West Wales. He teaches English literature classes for Swansea University and creative writing classes for University of Wales Trinity Saint David, as well as being concerned with local history and sports journalism. His chapbook Merlin’s Lane appeared from Prolebooks last year.

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***

Elizabeth Smither : Old lemon tree 	

The lemons in shops are smooth and gleam
as if they’ve been handed down from the moon
a light yellow with no blemishes.

This old tree which receives its moonlight
sparsely through taller spreading trees
has fruit that should hide under leaves

old clasped hands trying to hold a ball
and press it tight for exercise
each year another layer of flaws

skin so rough no one could suspect
the strange clear sweetness within
when halves are impaled on the lemon squeezer.

 

Elizabeth Smither has published 17 collections of poetry as well as novels and short stories. Her most recent publication is a writer’s journal: The commonplace book; a writer’s journey through quotations (Auckland University Press, 2011). A new collection of poems, The blue coat, will be published in early 2013.

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***

Teoti Jardine : The Time Has Come 
  
the wind is blowing timely echoes
gardeners try to rake them in
the watering cans are filled with sand
rainbows weave a blackbirds wing

oranges ring lemons
no bells to toll in old St Clements

no dawn chorus greets the day
the sun now rises in the west
there’s puzzle in the eyes of mind
pasts have hitched-hiked home to rest

oranges ring lemons
no bells to toll in old St Clements

owls no longer screech or hoot
nights stories left untold
locusts line the pillows 
devouring dreams as they unfold

oranges ring lemons
no bells to toll in old St Clements

rhymes have turned the other cheek
words have joined the fray
cliché cannot see for looking
reason shrugs and walks away

oranges ring lemons
no bells to toll in old St Clements

the buzzard tides are ebbing 
they leave no traces on the strand
the time to come is left unsaid
the hour glass has no sand

oranges ring lemons
no bells to toll in old St Clements

 

Teoti  Jardine, was born in Queenstown New Zealand, of Maori, Irish and Scottish descent .  His Maori tribal affiliations are Waitaha, Kati Mamoe and Kai Tahu.  He has been writing poetry off and on most of his life and has had poems published in Te Panui Runaka, the Burwood Hospital News Letter and the Christchurch Press Poetry section.

 
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***

 Amado Storni : Si Tu Estuvieras Aquí                          Amado Storni : If you were here
                                                                                          English versión by GW and MBB                                                                                                                                                           

SI tu estuvieras aquí                                                           If you were here
el mundo giraría más deprisa que mi soledad                  the spinning world would overtake my loneliness
y el Amor no sería un pájaro sin alas                                and Love would cease to be a wingless bird
al que tengo que enseñar a volar todos los días.             I’d have to teach to fly again each day.

Si tu estuvieras aquí                                                           If you were here
mis sueños que son tuyos dormirían a tu lado                  my dreams of you would sleep beside you;
y el deseo no sería una ventana enladrillada                    desire would cease to be a bricked-up window
con vistas a los besos que te debo.                                   overlooking kisses I still owe you.

Mis futuros no serían pasados imperfectos                      My futures would not be unfinished pasts
y mis labios, adúlteros de ausencias,                                and my lips, unfaithful through your absence,
aprenderían a decir “te necesito”.                                     would learn to say “I need you”once again.

De no haberte conocido,                                                    If I’d not met you,
¿qué parte de mi alma se habría quedado estéril,            how fruitless would my life have been
estéril para siempre?                                                         how barren might my soul have stayed?

 

Amado Storni (a pseudonym adopted 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). He has also won prizes for poems and short stories. For more information see http://amadostorni.blogspot.com/.

GW is a professional translator working in New York; MBB edits London Grip New Poetry

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***

 Angela Kirby : How It Is 
 i.m. Sam Alexander MC, 1982-2011 
  
Trestles slid away, folded 
and put aside, candles snuffed,
the singing stops, the music    
dies, mourners drift off
and regroup by the gate.

Dear God, there seems 
little now to show for it all -
nothing but a rolled-up flag, 
a scatter of wreaths, a bugle call, 
this shock of fresh-dug earth.

 

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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***

Janet Simon : New River - Hackney 
  
The canal is a grey god, cut and straight,
A fake tributary with arcades of east space
To stroll through by concrete horizons.
This thick viaduct is an old misnomer.
It stops at the reservoir with boats
Lazy over it and tea at the last café.
Taking its path I try to remember
What has been dismembered, the traffic
Once flowing, warehouses and cranes.
Blackberries sweet as the end of summer
Still stain my fingers purple and bloody.
New bushes invade and the stream carries flotsam
As time hurtles past the Downs of London
And slime covers its ersatz waters.

 

 

 

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***

Janet Simon : Losing Weight 
  
She leaves the house with its solid stuff
turning off her taps, feeling for keys,
her purse, her pass, her legs, her facts
which she knows are there, but she's still not sure
if she'll see them again, once the door is shut.
Just one more check to see if she's missed
a tie that binds. A frantic pull 
at an inside pleat where a license is stored,
one last assurance that she has substance.

The gate is closed. The sky is up.
The wind begins. It blows her away
down the street. She hovers an inch or two
over the surface of paving and leaves
along a corridor leading her on,
lighter, away from her things.
A comb and mobile drop from her bag.
Maps and money fall out of her pocket
and what she knows she must leave behind
rings its last alarm, a final flicker
fluttering the heart, before it all flies
like a swarm of swallows from England.

Paper and plastic, leather and metal,
memories, batteries, circuitry, chips
dissolve into clouds that carry away
the panic that made her clutch
at the rubbish that weighed her down.

 

Janet Simon is a native Londoner. A previous runner up in the National Poetry Competition, she has two published collections; Victoria Park  and Asylum.

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