*

This issue of London Grip features new poems by:

*Murray Bodo *Ian House *Louise Warren *David Cooke *Benjamin Smith *Kerrin P Sharpe
*Stephen Claughton *Martyn Crucefix *Sue Rose *Carol DeVaughn *Stephen Oliver *Merryn Williams
*Sarah Glaz *Brian Docherty * Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya *Graham Burchell *Nancy Mattson
*John Snelling  *Vaughan Rapatahana *Kate Foley *Martin Burke *Robert Nisbet *Fiona Sinclair
*David Flynn *Rowland Bagnall  *Gordon Meade *Alan Price  *Michael Bartholomew-Biggs

Copyright of all poems remains with the contributors

A printer-friendly version of London Grip New Poetry can be found at LG new poetry Winter 2013-4

heaney books

Please send submissions for the future issues to poetry@londongrip.co.uk, enclosing no more than three poems and including a brief, 2-3 line, biography

Editor’s Introduction

Our heading picture for this quarter’s posting is a reminder of the late and much-missed Seamus Heaney. Appropriately, themes of remembrance and reflections on mortality feature quite strongly in this issue, beginning with Murray Bodo’s delicate memorial to Seamus Heaney and Herbert Lomas. But there is also a leavening of lighter touch material in a selection of winter poetry that is both varied and generous – so generous in fact that (in contrast to the previous, relatively picture-rich, issue) there has been no room for illustrations to accompany the poems. Indeed, the editorial office was kept so busy simply with the tasks of choosing the best words and then putting them in the right order that there seemed to be no time even to search for complementary images.

As London Grip New Poetry enters its third year we’d like to remind our readers once more that our parent site London Grip contains much more than poetry.  It regularly features articles on art and theatre as well as book reviews (still mainly poetry but an increasing amount of prose). In between my three-monthly email alerts about new poetry postings, readers can be kept in touch with other material on the site by becoming a Facebook friend or Twitter follower of London Grip. If these technologies do not appeal, it is also possible to become a “subscriber” and to receive a weekly email notice of the latest additions the London Grip website. To be registered as a subscriber simply send me a request at poetry@londongrip.co.uk – there is of course no charge!

Michael Bartholomew-Biggs

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

Back to poet list… Forward to first poem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

Murray Bodo: A Late Reading of “A Kite for Aibhin”

i.m. Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013

I’d hoped for years to hear you
Read, but always missed – too late
Or wrong day or time – which led

To a correspondence, books
I’d send – a stamped envelope
Enclosed – for your signature. 

And then wheeling the poet
Herbert Lomas to Snape where
We found you at last reading

At “The Maltings” in a pool
Of light, floating your poems
Out into the crowded hall 

And we a far shore from you,
Crippled like those at Siloe
And no one to lower us

To where you laid soft, laving
Anahorish syllables
On waves that almost reached us.

Then hearing we couldn’t walk
To you, you sent Human Chain,
Songs that remain now you’re gone

And Lomas, too, here where your
Voice rises from the page to
Its pitch, then pauses, and stops:

The pull of a kite stared at
Until string breaks and – separate, elate –
The kite takes off, itself alone, a windfall.

 

Murray Bodo is a Franciscan Friar. A member of the Franciscan Academy, he divides his time between Assisi, Italy and Cincinnati, Ohio, leading pilgrimages and writing. His latest book of poems, Something Like Jasmine, with accompanying CD of the author reading his poems, was released by Tau Publishing in 2012.

.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Ian House: Flight

Amy Johnson, aviatrix, 1903-41

In puttees, helmet, khaki shorts she strides,
holding a packet of sandwiches, a Thermos of tea:
‘Johnnie’, surrounded by a buzz of chums.

Struts creak and strain: the plywood frame’s aloft.
Press barons puff like zephyrs and she’s on her way
from Maida Vale to Constantinople and Queensland.

She settles to the bliss of solo hours.

Amy, the nation’s girl next door,
is where we want to be,
above and beyond herself, 
running away from the whole shebang.

 

Before retirement, Ian House taught in England, Philadelphia and Moscow. His first collection was Cutting the Quick (Two Rivers Press). His second collection, Nothing’s Lost (also Two Rivers Press), is to be published in April 2014. He lives in Reading.

.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
***

Louise Warren: Achilles’ Heel

I had forgotten what it was to jump out of myself
into a room emptied out of objects, of belongings,

to feel the air underneath the soles of my feet, 
a child flying out of my adult shoes

into a game.
The room was bare and cloudless 

I jumped 
I jumped

a sharp snap
and a wing tore open in my heel.

It flared, I flew, and landed
shocked as a pilot bailing out of a perfect sky.

.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
***

Louise Warren: Bat House

Sometime, almost dark, the field sliding up into the trees,
we held up our hands, each with our own sensor.
It was like holding up a glass to the side of the night,
waiting to catch the ticks and squeaks,
the bats flying out of the boarded up house.

Earlier that day, some kids had tried to get through.
Pushing down the nettles, but the wires were tightly
wound around the house, glimmering now in the draining light, 
the light like dead ashes and the dark filling up the woods.
It was then that we heard him

the old man shuffling from room to room, the creak
of his foot on the stair. A clock somewhere, 
the squeak of a door. He muttered under his breath,
and we caught the odd word, bang, like that, a rough laugh,
I felt my hand shake, mostly it was a low hiss. 

I dropped my sensor onto the grass. 
The black was filling up the forest, someone cried out, 
look! bats, as something flicked through the air, 
then another, quick as a thought, an electric impulse moving
along the wires which wound around the house, that flicked out
as if they'd snapped.

 

Louise Warren won the Cinnamon Press First Collection Prize and her book A Child’s Last Picture Book of the Zoo was published in 2012. She has also been widely published in magazines and anthologies including Agenda, Envoi, Fuselit, Genius Floored Poetry Anthology, The Interpreters House, The New Writer, Orbis, Obsessed with Pipework, Poetry Wales, The Rialto, Seam and Stand. In 2013 her poems were highly commended for both the Ver and Yeovil Poetry Prize.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

David Cooke: The Home

Purpose-built for what remains
of final days – their unaccountable
tariff of good, bad, indifferent –
it lies at the end of a block drive, 
power hosed and sealed against 
the encroachment of weeds.

With its institutional facade
of Mock Tudor beams
criss-crossed and dependable,
it looms up to greet us 
with unflappable cheeriness,
its brickwork proof

against the years’ attrition.
It’s there I see you still, resolute
and cranky, your good humour
seeping away, a clouded ichor,
as nonetheless, falteringly,
you raise yourself from a chair.

Gripping a frame that gives
you backbone, you take small 
steps along the corridor, 
unaware, as you concentrate, 
of the bed bound frailty of others 
whose doors are always ajar.

Returning to your own, 
you see through the window 
horses in a paddock,
but then catch, excitedly, a glint 
of foxes which we, too, make out
just before they vanish.

 

David Cooke’s poems and reviews have appeared in Agenda, Ambit, The Bow Wow Shop, The Critical Quarterly, The Irish Press, The London Magazine, Magma, The North, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Reader, The SHOp and Stand. His current collection is Work Horses published by Ward Wood in 2012

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Benjamin Smith:Wet Grass

You raced across the fields
Imitating your favourite horse from the stables,
Your perfume trailing behind you.
I remember it was called: Wet Grass.
It soaked me to the bone, it
Drenches my memories.

In the morning you used to wake me up,
Tugging at my hair and then pretending to be asleep.
Your shivering shoulders always betrayed you.

You said to me: We’ll be together forever,
And I believed you.
I guess you weren’t lying;
I still see you in my dreams sometimes,
In fields of wet grass, your skirt gliding, your
Legs galloping like wild stallions.

You are always running away from me,
Pelting to the distance, smiling -
You always look happy in that moment.

 

Benjamin Smith is 28 years old and grew up in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. He has spent the past three years travelilng around Latin America and is currently living in Mexico where he is working on a number of poems that draw on the influences of travel. This is his first published poem.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
***

Kerrin P Sharpe: how to shoot an arrow for a horse

in the long-legged darkness
richard grows the vertebrae
of a crossbow arrow

two shadows in the tower  
turn hooves to bone

out on bosworth field richard
demonstrates the archer’s paradox

there is no scientific record 
of this parthian shot
no equine remains

today under the curvature
of a leicester carpark

richard’s ribcage rides the symmetry
of an english war horse

 

Kerrin P. Sharpe’s first collection Three Day in a Wishing Well was published by Victoria University Press in 2012. Recently a selection of her poetry appeared in Oxford Poets 13 by Carcanet Press and also in Blackbox Manifold. She is also well represented in various other publications including Best New Zealand Poems.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Stephen Claughton: Brass-rubbing

Rather than raise from the tomb
some long-dead knight or his lady,
I practised at home
with our northern, vernacular brass.

I’d slot a pre-decimal penny
under a quarto sheet,
then take a pencil to shade it
and hatch the image out.

Like a photo, the print developed
in front of my eyes,
heads a monarch, tails Britannia.
Not ones for the album, these:

the activity was the point,
the fact all you needed to do
was scribble across the page,
while the picture drew itself.

Over and over again,
the magic worked every time,
as if by rubbing coins
I’d revealed a hidden talent.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Stephen Claughton: An Ice-age Flute

It’s the wing bone of a vulture,
marked off, notched and drilled
to make it into a flute.
What looks merely improvised
was precisely crafted, we’re told,
the finger-holes carefully spaced
on the pentatonic scale.

Forty millennia back,
someone from proto-Ulm
fashioned this instrument
to play Palaeolithic tunes;
somebody broke it too.

The music it made is lost
like the meaning of
the amulets they carved
and the animals they drew,
before hunting them to extinction
over the mammoth steppe.

Now it’s mounted behind glass
as if entombed in ice.
My hands itch to feel the holes
indented in the shaft
like those on a whistle I played.
It’s in our DNA;
I’m sure I could bring it to life.

 

Stephen Claughton read English at Oxford and worked for 34 years as a civil servant in London. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Interpreter’s House, Iota, Other Poetry and The Warwick Review. He has twice been nominated for the Forward Best Single Poem Prize.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Martyn Crucefix: House sold

We tramp up the garden
over sodden slippy grass
to three silver birches that mark the boundary

and someone might see us
bringing fork and spade
and this black bin liner to the foot of the trees

where we eye mossy cushions
and gravitate to this
barely visible mound where you point and speak—

somebody might see us
as I slice open the earth
complicated by roots but in this precise spot

the spade slides in well
as if re-opening a hole
and someone might watch as you crouch and scrape

your fingers stained dark
as you rake the soil
and I thrust in the fork—someone might catch us

now both on our knees
like archaeologists
unearthing an object the size of a sweet jar

but maroon in colour
and punctured by my fork
and you take it and wrap in the black bin liner

then stand to wait
as I shovel the soil
into the scar of the hole that moss will soon cover—

and somebody might gaze
on our little cortege
headed back to the house your mother warmed

and dressed all those years
now she’s a little mixed
with its beloved soil and each step confirms

possession is temporary
even a place of rest
you wait beside the car you begin to let go

 

Martyn Crucefix’s most recent collection, Hurt, was published by Enitharmon. His translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies (Enitharmon 2006) was shortlisted for the 2007 Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation. His translation of Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus was published in 2012.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Sue Rose: Memorial

I will not care about the firing, 
the mastery of materials, when I’m grit 
and grilled bone, a snow of particles 
in a ceramic body, each pot 
perched like a squat bird on the rungs 
of a white ladder, a spreading estate. 
Mourning is the stuff of their making—
they were born to hold death.

The vessel for my remains 
will be those who carry part of me 
in their histories. They will scatter 
the ash of my absence over their hearts 
as the world dies and hear me ticking 
in their veins. They will be my memorial.

 

Sue Rose is a literary translator working on a children’s fantasy series billed as the French Harry Potter. Her debut collection, From the Dark Room, was published by Cinnamon (2011). A chapbook, Heart Archives, is due out from Hercules Editions in late 2013 and a second collection, The Cost of Keys, will be published in November 2014.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Carol DeVaughn: Cup and Saucer

It’s because the cup 
was made for the saucer
that the move for both                             
from the hermetic cupboard                             
to the gregarious flowerbed
is a viable option
even in a walled garden	
filled with broken china
long since buried.
The possibility of resurrection                                                                  
remains open to the sky
and to the obliging earth giving way
to the loving molecules of sun
and rain and their progeny.

 

Carol DeVaughn, American-born, has been living and working in London since 1970. Retired from full-time teaching, she is now preparing her first full collection. Her poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies and she has won several prizes, including a Bridport in 2012.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Stephen Oliver: Comb

The razed city with its grids, blocks,
rectangles, edges worn as molars, as if to
say, ‘I am archaeology, seek me
out millennia hence; I am no longer a city
in a hurry—I am privation.

                                              My bronze gates 
torn from city walls; all the hubbub 
of the market place you will find here—come
sift through my ashes, you will discover 
a brooch celebrating the joy & sorrow of one life.
Here you will find some turquoise comb,
that knew the tresses of a maiden from this
portico, overlooking an enclosed
garden, her hair red-gold as those helmets
that entered the orchard, and found 
her felled there, under the sun’s blade.’

 

Stephen Oliver is the author of 17 volumes of poetry. He has travelled extensively and signed on with the radio ship The Voice of Peace broadcasting in the Mediterranean out of Jaffa, Israel. He has free-lanced in Australia/New Zealand as a newsreader, radio producer, columnist, and much else. He has lived in Australia for the last two decades but is now spending an extended sojourn in NewZealand. His new volume, Intercolonial a long narrative poem published by John Denny of Puriri Press, dennyjhs@xtra.co.nz  (2013) is as much about Australia as it is New Zealand.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Merryn Williams: Isaac

I cannot find him on the 1901 census.

More than one Isaac Rosenberg is there.
And all are dead, and all but him forgotten.
I can’t retrieve their stories, knowing only
that they’re reduced to dust, or the odd fragment
of bone, in English cemeteries, filth of France.

If I am to get inside his head, it’s useless
to go round the tower blocks in modern Whitechapel
High Street. There’s a plaque for him, but he’d be baffled.
Go instead into the labyrinth of your own head
and hear the dark doors quietly close behind you.

Isaac in khaki, with his brother,
stares out of the ancient photograph
taken at the especial request of their mother,
who tried hard enough, God knows, to keep them out of it.

Isaac, who wasn’t happy about killing,
but, none the less, consented to become a war poet,
immersed himself in that new and strange phenomenon
and knew it was driving him mad, and his time was limited.

Returning, he heard the larks,
and, less poetically, lice feasted on
the soft flesh under his battledress.
He wrote about both experiences
before Abraham killed him.

 

Merryn Williams is a committee member of the Wilfred Owen Association, now preparing for the centenary of World War 1. She is the author of Wilfred Owen (Seren) and editor of The Georgians 1900-31 (Shoestring) and In the Spirit of Wilfred Owen (Wilfred Owen Association).

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Sarah Glaz: Mathematical Modelling

Mathematical modelling may be viewed 
As an organizing principle
That enables us to handle
A vast array of information

As an organizing principle
We could use the color spectrum
A vast array of information
Would become a rainbow in the sky

We could use the color spectrum
And the scaling notes spanning an octave
Would become a rainbow in the sky
Shining through the melody of rain

And the scaling notes spanning an octave
And letters gleaned from ancient alphabets
Shining through the melody of rain
Nature translated into words

And letters gleaned from ancient alphabets
That enable us to handle
Nature translated into words
May be viewed as mathematical modelling

 

Sarah Glaz’s poetry has appeared in Ibis Review, Convergence, The Mathematical Monthly, The Ghazal Page, Recursive Angel, The Humanistic Mathematics Journal, Talking Writing and other periodicals. She is professor of mathematics at the University of Connecticut, and serves as associate editor for Journal of Mathematics and the Arts.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Brian Docherty: Arrangements

Uncle Donald made punctuality an art form.
He never turned up at the theatre late, 
was never refused his seat in a concert
because the pianist had sat down on time,
never turned up at the airport four hours
early, and then missed the plane because 
the clock in the bar had deceived him. 

He kept a fob watch in his waistcoat pocket, 
a wristwatch, a weather eye on shop clocks,
public clocks, and the local park’s floral clock. 
When he was given a mobile phone for Xmas,
he was delighted to find it too told the time,
but kept his other watches wound up & handy.

Like everything else in his life, his funeral
was a masterpiece of planning & timing.
He allowed for delays in setting off,
traffic jams, road works, breakdowns,
civil war, and riot; three of his options, 
then a Special Branch operation in Wood Green, 
happened on his way to the crematorium.

He assumed that other people, their relatives, 
the undertakers, the vicar, priest or rabbi 
seeing them off, would take similar care
with their arrangements; circumstances 
even he couldn’t foresee - as his sister put it 
over sherry & sandwiches - conspired to ensure 
his service was carried out while he was stuck
on the North Circular. His coffin shouldered 
its way into the next slot on the conveyer belt,
and Uncle Donald shared a Humanist funeral.

 

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

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya: Loitering around

finally to loiter aimlessly – 
as was written in an old book, do you remember? – 
a private airplane flew
from point A to point B.
A steamer went down the river, with a VIP passenger on board,
and his long-awaited guest.

Smoke belches from the chimney, a siren buzzes.
Two decks, a wheel house, passenger seats and cabins.
The steamer moves with a constant velocity
down the river for seven days 
and seven hours to its destination.
In point A, as well as in point B
waiting for them are families, work, police, justice…

The captain is a passenger’s friend and possibly under his command.
He comes down for dinner wearing full uniform
raises a glass of champagne to his guests;
the pilot, of course, is not here for their dinner
but a flight attendant brings them champagne.

In three days and a half hour
half way from point A to point B
the passenger puts a gun to the captain’s head 
demanding to turn back to point A.
The captain smiles to him
and gives orders.

After three and a half days, four hours – 
find the velocity of the river or air’s flow –
they see from their ship on the soil of point A
police ambulance firefighters journalists…

– What do we do? the captain asks.
– Turn, the passenger orders.
From point A there was fired a torpedo.
– Course to point B! the captain swears 
despite the presence of a lady.

– We, the passenger says –
until they drop a depth charge on us 
until they totally get us – 
we will wander around there and back
measuring depth 
under the keel of the plane, the fin of the ship
studying velocity of flow.

 

Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya was born in Simferopol, Crimea, former USSR. She is a graduate of the Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology and the Moscow State Humanitarian University. In 2011 she received a Doctoral degree of the University of New South Wales, for a dissertation on contemporary Russian experimental poetry. She has seven published books of prose, poetry and translations. As an artist she has participated in a number of exhibitions on arts and sciences, including Bridges conferences in 2012 and 2013.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
***

Graham Burchell: Christmas On The Hudson

translated from ‘Navidad en el Hudson’ by F.G. Lorca

That grey sponge!
That sailor with his throat recently cut.
That great river.
That breeze of dark limits.
That edge, love, that edge.
Four sailors were struggling with the world,
with the world of edges that all eyes see,
the world you cannot cross without horses.
They were one, a hundred, a thousand sailors
struggling with the high-speed world 
unaware that the world
was alone in the sky.

The world alone in the lonely sky.
These are the hills of hammers and the triumph of thick grass.
These are swarming anthills and coins in mud.
The world alone in the lonely sky
and the air at the exits of all the suburbs.

The worm sang of the terror of the wheel
and the slashed sailor
sang to the bear of water that would hug his body
and all sang alleluia,
alleluia. Desert Sky.
It's the same, the same! Alleluia.

I spent all night on the scaffolding of the suburbs
leaving my blood on the bones of the projects,
helping to gather the sailor’s torn sails,
and I am empty-handed in the murmur of the river’s mouth .
It doesn’t matter that every minute
a new child shakes his sprigs of veins 
or that the newborn Viper, let loose under the branches,
calms the bloodlust of voyeurs
What matters is this : void. The world alone. The river’s mouth.
Not dawn. Inert fable.
Only this: the river’s mouth.
Oh my grey sponge!
Oh my neck recently ripped!
Oh my great river!
Oh my breeze of limits that are not mine!
Oh edge of my love! Oh wounding edge!

 

Graham Burchell was born in Canterbury and now lives in Dawlish, Devon. He has lived in a host of places in between including Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Tenerife, Mexico, France, Chile and the USA. He has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. His latest collection The Chongololo Club was published by Pindrop Press in 2012. He has won, been placed or short-listed in a number of competitions, and has been published in many magazines. He was the 2012 Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
***

Nancy Mattson: Widow, Marooned

I woke this morning stretching, drew the sun-bleached 
curtains that had covered up the sky, rubbed my eyes:
there was no prairie where the prairie used to stretch 
beyond the fences that enclosed our herds of cattle
when we branded them, releasing them to graze 
unplanted grasses all the hot dry summer long.

Where has the prairie gone?

Our dependable creek is drowned in a lake, no 
it’s a sea that came from nowhere overnight:
never in any memory of mine 
or any prairie tales our elders told
has water ever spread around this house
marooning anyone. The power’s out

but the radio tells me all the rivers 
from the Rockies to my heart, I mean 
the heart of this continent, have overrun 
my eyes, I mean their banks, and flooded plains 
that floods have never covered over until now. 

Some unknown fury’s sucking up the oceans                   
turning cheek against prevailing westerlies
and filling up the devil’s cunning funnels
as he laughs and pours out 
forty days and nights of rain
in a single day and night. 

Why is that helicopter circling my roof?

Oh give me back the drought I want 
a multitude of desiccating angels 
to swoop down from the mountains
on a herd of shiny hoovers
to suck the prairies empty I am thirsty 
for the dustbowl of my youth.

 

Nancy Mattson moved from the Canadian prairies to London in 1990. She has published three full-length poetry collections, most recently Finns and Amazons (Arrowhead Press, 2012). This poem began in Kate Foley’s workshop in Wivenhoe, Essex, just after the unusual Alberta floods in June 2013

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

John Snelling: Drought

Eight months – no rain.
Earth cracked, streams dry,
baked mud where rivers were.
The sun-bleached land
is desiccated, dying.
Sky, blue and cloudless,
nothing disturbs the dust.
Nowhere for us.

A tear falls.
It is not enough.

 

John Snelling has been writing poetry since the 1960s. In 1976, he won first prize in the City of Westminster Arts Council’s poetry competition. After this, success in competitions eluded him until, in 2013, he gained a Judge’s Special Commendation in The Poetry Box competition for dark and horror poetry.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Vaughan Rapatahana: canine rain

the rain
      struts past
my window
like a petulant dog.

shakes itself ragged
while       pissing on 
the  spindly  plants
hiding on the ledge.

it reeks
of rotten meat
putrefying 
after   s o m e  errant
down
    pour

   &
there are other ineluctable
stray aromas
malingering on its breath,
residue of a previous
                  scurry.

when I pussyfoot outside
it’s lurking still,
fangs slobbering behind
nimbus snout;
ready to snap 
any incursion;

rabid
eyes a tempest
squalling for a fight.

 

Vaughan Rapatahana is a Kiwi (Te Atiawa is his iwi or tribe) who is a long-term resident of Hong Kong, with a home also in Pampanga, Philippines. He is published widely in a variety of genre.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Kate Foley: Going Home

Faces in the tram, wearing a used up
five o’clock pallor, fidgeting the beads
of their journey further on its string.

Doors hiss sideways. A hint
of chill canal water, rain,

then thick as garbage soup, a smell
that suddenly tips tired faces backward,
like the rapid ring of water round a flung pebble.

Stronger. Yellower. Closer.
He’s leaning on my pole, this stranger,
who’s peed his pants with liver salts, booze
and lye, his face a broken collection
of darkened parts.

Quickly I duck under his rancid armpit,
- please don’t let him speak! – though he’s trapped
in my nose hairs,
on the skin of my soul, where a little blood marks
our connective tissue tearing away
too fast.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Kate Foley: A Dead language

(Alice Guerrero, the last northern Pomo speaker, died aged 90)

Walking in an aftermath of trees,
through concrete, bright as lilac
but smelling of baked mineral,
remembering, yesterday was the last
day somebody spoke in Pomo.

But perhaps water in Pomo,
or hold my hand
or even let me go
was too hard for the nurses;
maybe she used English.

Water, meaning little stream, 
bright as a deer's eye,
is not the same as English water
from the tap,
and hold my hand,
if it means give me the courage
of my tribulations for the journey
is simply the clothing of a deep look. 

Let me go —
this to her ancestors,
waiting to bury
their exiled syllables
with the significant weight 
of her speech.

 

Kate Foley’s 5th full collection One Window North was published by Shoestring Press in 2012. She lives, writes and leads workshops between Amsterdam and Suffolk.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Martin Burke: A Shadowed Cadence

Where the sea comes in
Where the land waits and welcomes it
Where a young girl does cartwheels and cat’s tumble

What is the future but this moment continued?
What is the horizon but a shifting fiction?
What is a fiction’s worth?

And the tide comes and goes and the cartwheels go on
As if innocence holds a place in the world
That cannot be easily displaced.
                                 *
All day his shadow upon me and words with his cadence
As if there was no other to be spoken
But there is

The snail’s silver path across the wall
The garden tidy and close cropped like a shield-wall
The door leading into the garden beyond

Beyond – old words rattle in my head
But are accurate to the moment as are
The window-boxes of geraniums

The cat stretches lazily beneath 
                           *
But nothing exempts me from duty
Not the cool of morning in which I sit outdoors
Nor the temptation to sit and do nothing

Nothing exempts – not the fibres burrowing in my bones
Nor the difficulty of a beginning or the persistence needed
When the line won’t yield up what it knows

And displacement comes in an off-hand remark 
And I’m back at the beach
Where she cartwheels towards the water-line

Unhindered by the fictions or the facts.
                               *
What shifts?
What holds?
What does both to its own advantage?

Waterline 
Shifting and holding
Bettering me to face the facts and fictions of the day.

 

Martin Burke is an Irish born poet & playwright living in Belgium from where he has published sixteen books of his work in the UK, USA, Ireland, and Belgium

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Robert Nisbet: Circles

Cloud 
                                         Dissipating

as the beach’s sand and shingle are lit
by the rays of an afternoon sun.

The girl, her shoulders turned slightly in on herself,
walks slowly to the shore. She might almost be keening.

Then the lurcher, a golden brindled animal
brought down to the beach by an older woman,
first on the lead then loosed,
describes around them
its wild wide circles,
whole furlongs of brown sand,
racing, dancing. 

An hour’s gone before the woman clips it back on lead,
and the girl, her shoulders lifted a little now, walks 
more briskly, stopping once to pocket a pebble or a shell, 
back up the shingle, to the car park and the village.

 

Robert Nisbet has had just over 100 short stories published, most recently in his collection Downtrain (Parthian, 2004), with work featured in a forthcoming Library of Wales anthology of the Welsh short story 1900-2010. He also has nearly 100 poems published, with some of them in his pamphlet Merlin’s Lane (Prolebooks, 2011)

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Fiona Sinclair: Curiosity

Driven by the Iago voice in your head
you let yourself into his Google account
rifle through inbox, trash, spam…
until you find an email that scorches your fingers.

Brandishing his billet doux like lipstick on a collar,
your  “Can’t you see how I feel?”
is met with a bewildered child’s gaze 
“But the words mean nothing”.
So he talks you round with “the only woman for me”…
but his good night email becomes “Blah, blah, blah”
that is skim-read then trashed.

Compelled by friends choric  “But he lied”
you unlock his phone with fumbling fingers.
One contact blazes like a red neon sign 
pointing to a website that punches you in the face.

You send his belongings packing to the shed,
but his email, “everyone’s got a past”
gets his foot back in the door of your life.
Still, watching TV, teaching grammar, buying clothes, 
you self- harm by envisaging:
his Vauxhall joining other cars in a dark lay-by;
NSA stilettos tripping up to his flat;
him meeting a broadminded couple for coffee….

 

Fiona Sinclair is an ex-English teacher. Her third collection Wonderland was published by Indigo Dreams Press in May 2013. She is the editor of the on-line poetry magazine Message in a Bottle .

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

David Flynn: Blur

I was walking down the amusement street.
Night, neon red yellow white flash stripes.
When she. Thousands moved, but she.
Stood upright. Blur short red-head.
So I walked up to her and said.
Then she said. Cold arctic wastes
blowing snow over an ice plain.
But I invited. And much to my surprise.
She blurred with me. 

To the bar. To the booth.
Where she placed her purse beside her.
Trim little body. Aging face high cheek bones.
Indian? French? Red tousled short hair.
Dyed? Fading. So, 
she said. 
My name is, I said. My name is, she said.
Who are you? I will start. Because
to know a woman takes a million years
of talk that is not directly on what
she is but that stays outside her skin
and gradually. Gradually. Sinks within.
Who are you? she asked. I am a man.

Rifle type. 

Language legs crossed.
Red wine red. 
I have to go, she said. Reaching 
inside. Her purse. 
Here
is my business card.

I was interested.

Couldn't be eager. No one is eager.
Couldn't wait. No one waits.
Friday night. Because.
Saturday was TOO important.

Broke up. Back. 
Broke up. Back.
Blur.

 

David Flynn’s jobs have included newspaper reporter, magazine editor, and teacher. His literary publications total more than 130 worldwide. He is married and has one daughter

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Rowland Bagnall: Wittgenstein

I find teaching in a school
Distasteful, where the minds
Are all so hopeless. Please, burn 
My work and notebooks
And give my greetings to
Your little boy; I have not 
Heard anything new 
For a very long time,
And I have not been
Sounding like myself.

Yours, Wittgenstein.

 

Rowland Bagnall is a 21 year old student of English Literature. He is the third of five children. His work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in The Lake, The English Chicago Review, Miracle, and Message in a Bottle

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Gordon Meade: Moth

Moth loves flame but knows 
she cannot fly too close to it. 

Moth also likes expensive clothes 
but knows the only way she is going 
to own a fur coat is by taking 

chunks out of it with her mouth. 
Moth doesn't mind being the black sheep 
of the family. Let Butterfly get 

all the plaudits. Moth has always 
known she is the more mysterious.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Gordon Meade: Salmon

Salmon knows all that is
entailed in going home. He knows
how hard the journey can be;
how many leaps and bumps
there are along the way.

Salmon also knows what it is
that awaits him on his return. At the end,
no bunting, no marching band,
just a slow, lingering death; just that
and the procreation of the species.

 

Gordon Meade is a Scottish poet now living in London. His seventh collection of poems, Sounds of the Real World, was published in September 2013 by Cultured Llama Publishing.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Alan Price: Their Words Are Here For You To Take

Mournful tone of a trumpet. Jewelled phrasing of piano.
Purple brown smoke miles away from duet.
Clouds regrouping into more smoked clouds.
Pretending to be ominous, as they pattern like a tornado.
Tiny insect police helicopter flying into a clearing.
Lights come on. Deflecting all these sunset entered rooms.
Houses, flats, hotels prepare themselves for evening.
Traffic begins to flow quicker. A road tinted by destinations. 
Trumpet binds piano to ruminate downwards into night.
This twilight of droning music and passing moments.
A playful sense of a day’s completeness. 
I could die, just now. Fulfilled. Content.
Who else can ever receive this properly? 
Really see or hear what these things couldn’t express?
Their words are here for you to take.

 

Alan Price is a North London based poet. His work has appeared in many magazines. A debut poetry collection Outfoxing Hyenas was published by Indigo Dreams in 2012.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Michael Bartholomew-Biggs: Famous last sounds

“A Constable Calls” by Seamus Heaney 1939-2013

His clock's stopped.  Ours still
stalk us with their tick, tick, tick -
like policemen's bikes.
.
.

Back to poet list…

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.