*

This issue of London Grip features new poems by:

*Brian Docherty *Tracey Peterson *Bruce Christianson *Caroline Am Bergris *Jonathan Taylor *Caroline Natzler *Mary Franklin *Gareth Culshaw * Abdulrahman M Abu-yaman *Brian Johnstone *Jane Henderson *Maggie Freeman * Rosa Walling-Wefelmeyer *Oliver Comins *Teoti Jardine
*Mary Michaels *Gary Beck *Racker Donnelly *Anthony Wilson *John Freeman *Bethany W Pope *Emma Lee *Fiona Sinclair

Copyright of all poems remains with the contributors

A printer-friendly version of this issue can be found at LG New Poetry Summer 2016

London Grip New Poetry appears early in March, June, September & December

Please send submissions of no more than three poems to poetry@londongrip.co.uk,
Please include poems in the message body or a single attachment and add a  2-3 line biography

We prefer to get submissions in the following windows:
December-January, March-April, June-July and September-October
i.e. avoiding the months when we are busy compiling a new issue

navajoEditorial

Edward Curtis’s fading yet atmospheric photograph entitled ‘The Vanishing Race – Navaho’ seems to justify the cliché about pictures and thousands of words. However a Mary Franklin poem appearing in this issue does succeed in communicating something extra about the image.  Oddly enough, some of the other pieces which follow are about words being misused or misunderstood and causing miscommunication.  We will not pursue this mild contradiction any further, but simply let the poems speak for themselves…

Michael Bartholomew-Biggs

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

Back to poet list… Forward to first poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Brian Docherty: More
[From our love]
I want neither
the sweetness of honey
                                   nor the sting of bees (Sappho)

at this stage in our life,
but something else,
something more, and 
                                 to be surprised again.

We are not children
but not senile yet
although that might
                                happen, if not soon,

then on a grey day
that stays greyed out,
for one or both of us
                                and no workarounds

to reset us or our
lives, no way to recover
whatever is deleted,
                               or simply forgotten

but until then, I want 
every good thing we
can offer each other
                             while we are still viable,

nearing end of life
status but not obsolete,
our memory still active
                            and not overwritten.

If love is our engine
and our energy,
I want more
                            of the only life we have.

.
Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

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

***

Brian Docherty: The Goddess In The Garden
I tell you;
                in time to come
someone will remember us   (Sappho)

Even if this 
                   garden is ruined
and this country no longer exists

I am here;
                 you are here
whoever put us here is gone

I do not
              recall their names
their tribe, even their language

but their prayers
                 linger on, echo
through my stony heart

and I hope
                  through your heart
and keeps you waiting too

waiting for what?
                   not worship
or sacrifice, we had enough of that

but I wish
                 friend, that someone
will always remember us

and treat us
                  with respect
until we live again.

Brian Docherty lives in East Sussex, and has published four books, most recently Independence Day (Penniless Press, 2015).
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

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

***

Tracey Peterson: Sign Five Hundred and Seventy
  
She writes
what she sees in memory,
how she feels.
 
Propped up in bed at day’s end,
reading,
wearing sexy glasses,
she pauses,
feels the cool wind
touch her bare arms and shoulders,
reach her face.
Remembers
they both liked
a wide open window,
the fresh cool night air
to kiss their sleep,
and rain.
 
Tonight
there’s no rain
just the wind,
wind enough to stir memory.
 
She leaves the window open.
 

.
Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Tracey Peterson: In The Wake of Wreckage
  
This house is empty.
The bedrooms are upstairs.
See.
All the while knowing
something about himself.
 
And on a haiku of loneliness
hummingbird is flying.
He wants to keep her
but there’s no point in trying.
It was different.
 
Even love
is having a hard time
with this one.
 
All the while knowing
something about yourself.
All the while knowing something 
about yourself.
 
And come to think of it
whose life can be explained
in ten tidy bullet points on a page?
 

Tracey Peterson is a New Zealand writer and lover of poetry, having read, written and performed it from a young age and in her adult years taught it to children from 5 to 16 years. A graduate of Canterbury University, she studied English, Linguistics, Education and Speech-language Therapy and recently graduated from the Hagley Writer’s Institute in Christchurch NZ with distinction.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

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

***

Bruce Christianson: Spring Clean

love is clearing out her bedroom
the radio is on – the window open
it's all going pretty well 
until she finds the letters 

love sits surrounded by confetti 
holding half a scissored wedding
photograph that shows her
looking young & happy 

love rights the toppled shredder 
basket – tucks the snap behind
her mirror & heads down
stairs to fetch the hoover

Bruce Christianson is a mathematician from New Zealand who has taught in Hertfordshire for the best part of thirty years. He quite often sees love’s red Lexus parked opposite the recycling centre.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Caroline Am Bergris : The Hug

Away from the ash of British winterlight
in the Valencian sun,
she saw what she had only dully known –
Death,
slowly dressing her husband.

She shrieked into the mountain peace
louder than she had been
in the years of his violence,
could not stop
despite the punishable folly of tears.

And yet he clamped his arms around her,
compressed her face against his ribs 
– the only hug in thirty-five years.

They collapsed onto a bench,
sobbing, 
then he went inside.
Afterwards they talked of dinner,
of peaches, plums and pomegranates,
and it was not mentioned.

Caroline Am Bergris studied philosophy, sociology, anthropology and theology at undergraduate and postgraduate level. She became a musician, teacher, stand-up comedian and mediator. After suffering domestic abuse and an accident which left her disabled, she now writes poetry. She is being mentored by Cinnamon Press towards publishing her first full collection.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Jonathan Taylor: Cassandra

At job interviews no-one believed her predictions
of where she saw herself five years hence. 

At the altar her fiancé disbelieved her vows
and soon sought comfort with another. 

She tried crystal-ball-telling on the pier
but was exposed (wrongly) as a fraud. 

She tried signing on but the job centre
didn’t believe she was actively seeking work. 

There is no incapacity benefit for a prophet
who’s been cursed so she turned to tricks

but all her Agamemnons refused to pay upfront
because they didn’t believe her promises. 

Now she’s begging, but everyone hurries by 
terrified of the fall of Troy reflected in her eyes. 

Jonathan Taylor‘s books include the novels Melissa (Salt, 2015) and Entertaining Strangers (Salt, 2012), and the poetry collection Musicolepsy (Shoestring, 2013). He is Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. His website is www.jonathanptaylor.co.uk
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Caroline Natzler: Close

For this to be it – 

under arches emblazoned
with painted crosses and palm fronds 

a dusty trench leading to a blank
grey earth end

a droop of disappointment 
 
then to realize –

as the woman with keen glasses and swirling hair
tells of the marble plaque
the bull god of light with his spike-rayed halo
stumbled on nearby, now vanished, 

hinting at a cult temple buried
beneath the church – 
cannot be excavated 
the site too fragile
the sea roaring close, eroding 

to realize with a surge of the spirit
what is behind the dead earth wall
may always be secret 

to touch on
the long celebration of mystery.

Caroline Natzler’s collections are Design Fault (Flambard Press 2001), Smart Dust (Grenadine Press 2009), and two smaller ones, Fold (Hearing Eye 2014) and Only (Grenadine Press 2015). Caroline teaches creative writing at the City Lit and runs some free-lance writing workshops.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem

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

***

Mary Franklin: The Vanishing Race – Navaho
After the 1907 photograph by Edward S. Curtis

A saucer-topped mesa visible,
distant, as across the flat terrain
they ride away from their lands.

Five on horseback, one behind
the other like smokestacks,
a sixth on the left.  It’s hard to tell
male or female;  no dust rises
as they journey at dusk, heads bowed,  
their woven clothes in tatters, 
their tribal strength in shreds. 

Shadow catchers the Indians named
frontier photographers who stole
souls from them with their images.

Mary Franklin has had poems published in print and online in Iota, The Open Mouse, Ink Sweat and Tears, London Grip, Message in a Bottle, The Stare’s Nest, Three Drops from a Cauldron and various anthologies, including Ragged Raven and Three Drops Press. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Gareth Culshaw: Chomolungma

In the Rongbuk glacier, a shoal of tents is stranded
as if washed up by a forgotten sea;

Sherpas, gap toothed, conker brown with
calluses that stretch across their palms
like the Himalayas themselves.
This is their only way of living.
A heave and a squat, grimace and sweat.
Carrying other people's loads.

The clanking of pots could be mistaken
for rattling bone joints.
But what do people care when their boots
are sent back to the homes
sitting like a pair of lungs on their porch?

Their icy sweat candle-waxes the streets
and roads. You feel the unbalanced
steps of where their feet have been before. 

Gareth Culshaw resides in N Wales. He has been published in various magazines across the UK and USA. He hopes to achieve something with the pen.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Abdulrahman M Abu-yaman : Visiting Europe In My Native Attire

On 
Visiting Britain in my 
Babba-riga local clothing, the Mayor
Of Liverpool inquired what type of turban
I was putting on, to which I replied:
"This Ronni tied to my head was crafted
Out of the last wool from an extinct species.
Two turbans were made out of it. One
Is apparently wrapped on my head,
And the other, I heard is among the
Nominees fighting for the honour to be
Crowned by the Emir of Kano."

On 
Visiting Barcelona, wearing
My Agbada native attire, Señorita
Margarita asked what kind of fabric
I had on, to which I responded:
"It came from a rare hybrid cotton that
No longer exists. Two of its souvenirs
Still live on though. One is obviously
Hanging on my body and the other,
Rumour has it that its been shortlisted
For selection, to be worn by the new
Oba of Lagos on his coronation."

On 
Visiting Sicily with my domestic 
Wrapper loosely tied to my waist,
Don Fibonacci questioned what type
Of apparel it was, to which I answered:
"It originated from a textile, last and only
Of its kind. Two wrappers were 
Woven out of it. One has clearly found a 
Home around my waist, and the other,
Gossips circulate that the Lòló of
Arochuckwu has gotten hold of it."


Notes
Babba-riga: a native loose and spacious garment, which is usually heavily embroided, from the northern part of Nigeria.
Ronni: the Hausa nomenclature for turban
Kano: a major city in northern Nigeria
Agbada: traditional wide gown similar to the Babba-riga in fashion and prevalent in the westerners in Nigeria.
Oba: title to the paramount ruler of Lagos city
Lòló: could be translated to a queen in Igbo land (pronounced as "Lorlor")
Arochuckwu: a major town in Abia, eastern Nigeria

Abdulrahman M Abu-yaman is a Nigerian poet who loves to write Ghazals (with ‘Rajab’ as his signature pen name) and other forms of poetry. He studied Economics at IBB University, Lapai, Niger State of Nigeria. A follower of British premier league (Chelsea FC), and an amateur fashion designer (for now), his poems have appeared in Kalahari Reviews, Elsielsy blog and are forthcoming in Sentinel Literary Quarterly as well as Black Boy Review.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Brian Johnstone: Foley Romance
Foley artists match live sound effects with the action of the picture. 
The technique are named for Jack Foley, a sound editor at Universal Studios.
             					film-sound.org

All they have left are these two cigarettes,
one last kiss that you plant on the back 
of your hand. It’s then that the credits roll.

But they’ve made it this far, over gravel
you tramped in a tray, fallen leaves
scrunched up in your palm, to a table 

for two in a roadhouse. Voices subdued, 
they talk in the glow of a candle. It’s a strip
of old tape you set burning that gutters, 

as cellophane crumpled and squeezed
is all their log fire. Meal done, they’re out
on the balcony now. You flip up a Zippo

close to the mic, get the almost inaudible 
purr of the flame, your intake of breath
their inhale. Crickets you keep in a box

are there for them too. They won’t stop
as they lay down their smokes, lids heavy,
lean in. Lips on your hand say much more.


.
Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Brian Johnstone: Arc

Falling from the plane
a broken belt
no parachute (less weight)

the flying ace can recognise
in engine noise
direction

something
way beyond belief
that might yet save his bacon

the Sopwith Camel 
locked into manoeuvre 
such that he

lands on the kite 
directly at the bottom of its loop
grabs wildly at a strut

equally unlikely finds a hold
regains the cockpit
makes a perfect landing

and lighting up a Woodbine
elicits from the crowd
Some trick!

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grahame_Donald


Brian Johnstone’s work has appeared throughout Scotland, in the UK, North America and Europe. He has published six collections, most recently Dry Stone Work (Arc, 2014) and his work appears on The Poetry Archive website.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Jane Henderson: Unprimed

He likes the unprimed side of the canvas,
where paint bites and bleeds.

This is his arena 
under the bare light bulb,
the war-zone floor,
the wall a palette,
his countenance blurred
in the pitted glass.

A flick through Muybridge
finds men tussling:
a glut of buttocks,
Heraclean backs and calves
he can wield to mercury
with a lick of sable.

Three in the morning,
fizzing on Soho neon,
the brutality of fact*
high on his agenda.
He summons the bull ring, 
the primeval earth of it,
the ectoplasmic scream
ejaculating from the tunnel.

He outlines a platform
in Lamp Black,
a circular dais
beneath a bayonet bulb.
Arrows point to where
the pair will writhe
in raw amalgam.

The combat begins.


* Francis Bacon’s own phrase
.
Jane Henderson is a gardener and sculptor. She lives in Suffolk.

.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Maggie Freeman: Three objects

This brick is clay slapped in a thin rectangle 
baked and laid among six thousand others
to build this wall that has basked 
in the sun of five hundred summers 
grown green with damp in the downpours 
of each autumn, to freeze in frosts 
that pierced and swelled its fabric
and crack! look, I can put my finger in.
Look, look, it is summer again and I stand 
with the seed heads of the long grass 
brushing my bare legs and listen to the song 
of skylarks soaring above the wall, and set 
my hand on this brick and feel the sun heat
of it, beyond eight human lifetimes old

This stone piles up with others heaped 
against the dawn sky – Norham Castle
its blue shadow cast by the unrisen sun
falling toward the riverful of yellow light
that the cows lap up, just the one of them distinct
red and white, lapping without stopping
these two hundred years in a calm 
that Turner swept on the canvas
that serenity of the single moment
he caught in oils, so that now 
standing in this gallery among strangers
I still feel peace

This poem is black ink printed on paper
such as you might see scrunched up
bowled by a high wind along a tarmac street
on a cloud-swept day. You run after it 
stoop to catch it, smooth it flat 
with the palm of your hand; in the weak light 
decipher my words that are no longer
what I wrote, but what your mood
your thoughts and memories dictate. 
I toss it to you.


Maggie Freeman’s poems have been published In Stand and The Rialto. Her collection Singing for Mr Bear was published in 2014 by Littoral Press. She also writes historical novels.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Rosa Walling-Wefelmeyer: the writer comes across a hedgehog at midnight 
                                                   or the hedgehog comes across a writer

little wolf in grandma’s bonnet and dress
sways at an easy pace across pavement space,
a two-step beat for four tiny feet –

but then, under sudden lamplight,
splits at a stroke, turning into

two dancers, each looking to lead:
the first is keen to effect a pause 

to worm for well-earned sustenance; 
the other, unsure, tightens its grip, 

quickens the trot, heading from spotlight 
to
        scuttle… snuffle…    
     
language falls away like 
          lace, the weight of human significance
                  breaks in mud, in darkness



Rosa Walling-Wefelmeyer lives in the North East of England. Her work has appeared in, amongst other things, The American Aesthetic and The Journal and can be found at rosawallingwefelmeyer.wordpress.com.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Oliver Comins: Fishing

A woman has borrowed arms and legs.
She walks on a tightrope in front of
the watching crowd.  They stand back,
as instructed, do not wish to become
a bigger part of what is happening.

Her mouth opens to breathe or scream.
There isn’t time to discover which
before the rope dissolves into a flight
of rainforest kingfishers, swooping
down into the traffic, its liquid ooze.


Oliver Comins lives and works in West London. Recent work in South Bank Poetry, The Emma Press Anthology of Age, IS&T, Axon and London Grip. Two pamphlets published by Templar Poetry in 2015 Yes to everything and Staying in touch
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Teoti Jardine: At the beach on Sunday morning

A greyed tree trunk looks inviting, 
I sit and lean against its broken branch.

I wonder where are you?

I hear the waves from South America
celebrating their arrival,

I sit and celebrate my wondering.


Teoti Jardine lives in Otuatahi New Zealand with his dog Amie who takes him walking every day.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Mary Michaels: Lifeboat Station, Early Evening

From the gangway high above the water
looking back towards the shore
the long beach is empty 

but for two teenage boys 
sprawled, lobbing pebbles at a disused wooden pallet 
that they must have set on fire

Jagged and transparent, blue and orange flames
travel the slats and cross-struts of the frame
like the hands of a swift, experienced masseur

the waves, by comparison, seem sluggish, over-weighted

One boy glances up, conscious of my gaze
defensive, expecting a shout or some objection

but there isn’t any danger, nobody’s been harmed 
there’s no-one else around 

Simply a nailed-together wooden structure burned
and a patch of shingle blackened.


Mary Michaels has lived most of her life in London. Her work has appeared in a wide range of magazines and her collection The Shape of the Rock was selected for the ‘Alternative Next Generation’ list. Her most recent poetry pamphlet is Caret Mark, (Hearing Eye). A prose collection, Squint, appeared in 2011 from The Other Press following her earlier My Life in Films. She is also widely known for her reviews and articles on contemporary poets.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Gary Beck: Historical Enactment

A mourning dove
sits on my terrace
crying piteously
for me to feed him.
But every time
I put out seed
the pigeons land,
chase him away,
no matter how much
I put out.
If I sit out
he flies away,
preferring to go hungry
than risk becoming a house dove.


Gary Beck spent most of his life as a theatre director. He has 11 published chapbooks, 9 published poetry collections, 4 more accepted for publication. He has 3 novels and 1 accepted for publication. 2 short story collections and 1 accepted for publication. He lives in NYC.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Racker Donnelly: Poor Brecht
After Vom Armen BB  by Bertholt Brecht  [1927]

I, Bertolt Brecht, came out of the dark.
Brought to this city, in mother’s womb I lay.
The coldness of those woods has left a mark
that will be on me to my dying day.

Here in the city I was ever keen
to savour every stupefying drug:
newspapers, booze, narcotics, nicotine.
Indolent and cynical and smug.

Sociable I sniff about society,
relish the stench of creatures in a zoo,
doff my hat: escutcheon of propriety,
coolly admit I tang a little too.

Mornings in a pair of rocking chairs,
I place two women, smile at them and quip,
Ladies, place your trust in polar bears
sooner than with yours truly take a trip.

Evenings when my good old cronies call,
they roll in grunting HELLO, SQUIRE and then
plonk their feet on my table top and drawl,
THINGS ARE BOUND TO LOOK UP.  I don’t ask when.

In the small grey hours when pine trees piss
and birds, their hangers-on, bewail and cheep,
I stub my fag and drain my glass and, after this,
tossing and turning, snatch a few hours’ sleep.

Our houses jolt. Our skin is soft as satin.
A ragtime band, our every pleasure’s frantic.
We erect coffin boxes in Manhattan,
and antennas to appease the wild Atlantic.

Nothing will last (said Brecht) but the cutting wind.
Consumption makes consumptive: the biter, bit.
The party’s over.  After us (he grinned),
nothing that matters to us will matter a shit.

In earthquakes and the coming devastation,
I hope to keep my cigarette a-glow.
I, inmate of a tarmac conurbation,
brought from cold woods in my mother long ago. 


Racker Donnelly writes: I've always been interested in Brecht's plays and character. I wrote this "travestation" 
of Vom Armen BB years ago and revised it recently for performance. It's called a travestation because that's my
term for my "pruned and pellucid" versions of works by Chaucer, Burns, Joyce and from the Irish that I perform 
on the folk circuit.  Although this one's pretty accurate, it isn't a scholarly translation; I just wanted the ballad 
to feel at home in English.


An Irish poet and playwright, Racker Donnelly often features at folk and literary festivals. A UK Slam Champion Poet and author of a sequel to James Joyce’s Ulysses, his website is www.rackerdonnelly.com and he has posted over a thousand of his Rackerhymes on Facebook.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Anthony Wilson: Slow Weather

Each of us differently afraid
of what the other might not say,

there is no telling, this January afternoon,
what will become of us pulling

at products our eyes taste
before we do. The day, illuminated

and indifferent, is like any other, a little sad,
perhaps, the drizzle with something of Madrid

in it, or Milan, but unique as our nostrils,
and open as they to the uneasy

and unseen air we push through,
the procession of our dutiful trolleys somehow

grand and illustrious, filled with exciting cheeses.
Looking for reasons to part before greeting,

alert as collies at dipping time, 
there is nothing which cannot be subsumed 

into courtly anecdote or gossip
about those we avoid in public,

that very sense of the public governing
this exchange of nods nobody

sees but us. Wishing
each other well via news of unnamed colleagues,

we are released back to ourselves,
all choice open before us

from donuts to joint-pain remedies
our decisions invisible as charity.


Anthony Wilson is editor of Lifesaving Poems (Bloodaxe, 2015), based on his blog of the same name. His other books include Riddance (Worple Press, 2012) and a memoir of cancer, Love for Now (Impress Books, 2012). He blogs at www.anthonywilsonpoetry.com
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

 John Freeman: The Mug In The Common Room
 
When I need tea I go to the common room
and there’s a couple who are often in there.
He’s always pleased to see me and he talks,
and I talk back, ask him polite questions
and, when prompted, reminisce.  He’s amazed
at the famous speaker I invited here –
it comes up because we’ve discussed his books.
I try to draw her into conversation
and get one-word answers.  She might be appalled
to think she gives this impression, but the more
I talk with her friend and the happier
he seems, the more disapproving she looks. 

It may be just my imagination.

Or the picture she’s getting of who I am
from my stories of old times and my jokes.
 
My appearance.  

		   Dammit, my very essence
must be obnoxious to her, the more so
the more I make a prat of myself. But how
can I stop when the young man is pleased
to have an older ally in this place?

If they both had the same attitude
I’d know what to do. I would clear out fast,
or put more coins in the honesty box
and press the buttons for another tea.

As it is I drink the one I’ve bought, there,
instead of taking it back to my office,
and remember uneasily afterwards
that I left the cardboard mug, not quite empty,
for someone else to tut and clear away.

.
Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

John Freeman: Friend of Truth

He hasn’t been on speaking terms with the truth 
for years, she’d say, pleased with her wit, and that
was as good a fair-weather sign as a fir cone. 
Not that we used cones, nor seaweed. He would peer
at the hooded wall-thermometer in the yard
where sun never disturbed its accuracy, 
call out the highs and lows the mercury 
had pushed the thin black markers to, and pull them
back to the tops of the two silver columns 
with the heavy horse-shoe magnet, red and grey, 
its ends made concave to fit round the thin 
glass of the tubes. Beside him bottled milk
would be pushing creamy ice cylinders
up through burst tinfoil caps, or trying not to
separate into blue and white by skulking
in water in a yellow plastic bucket. 

He was on counting terms with truth all right, 
seventy degrees Fahrenheit in the shade, 
down to fifty-nine in the night, or sixty. 
She scorned his promise to hoover the books
when he retired, and the implication she saw 
in his sharing spoons to save washing up. 
He must have said that once, and she preserved it, 
adding, as if he ever did the washing up. 
She was furious when he remembered
their courtship differently from her true text:
liar! You’re not recording this, are you? 

He made excursions into dead-pan humour,
pretending to read news from the paper
that started off believable: an increase 
in accidents to trains passing our house
when the bedroom curtains were taken down. 
That was the sort of offering that would call 
her remark down from its case in the corner
like a fiddle or a concertina.
She’d play it as if she’d just invented it, 
and we’d perform Being A Family


John Freeman’s collections include White Wings: New and Selected Prose Poems (Contraband Books), A Suite for Summer (Worple), and The Light Is Of Love, I Think: New and Selected Poems (Stride). He taught for many years at Cardiff University.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Bethany W Pope: The Language of Flowers

My mother lied, saying yellow roses 
were her favourite flower because jonquils were
out of season when she married in June
and she didn't want my father to know
that not everything about their wedding
was perfect. My father was in love with
the idea of perfection. He hated
everything that did not fit. A June-baby,
out-of-season, inappropriately
sexed, I could never be perfect. I loved
roots more than blossoms, and soil more than scent.
When I was twelve, I woke in the orphanage.
In early spring the garden-plots bled white-
and-orange daffodils, so flawlessly
formed that it hurt me to look at them. I
couldn't ever look away. Crouching down
between fleshy green stalks and the icy
stone wall of Suliman Cottage, I breathed
the scent of stem-sap, cedar, cow manure,
remembering the feel of my mother’s hands,
how she’d stroke my hair when she was in pain
and we’d lie there together in the breath-
moist dark. I found out today that jonquils
and daffodils are both members of the
Narcissus family; emblems of dangerous
self-absorption. My father cares nothing
for either of them. My mother convinced
herself that yellow roses are what she
wanted all along. The bright bell-mouths of
daffodils peal echoes through the folded flesh
of my brain. I see them and remember
that cold stone wall, and the terror behind it.
I feel my nails scraping a nest of white roots.
 

Bethany W Pope is an award-winning author. She has published several collections of poetry: A Radiance (Cultured Llama, 2012) Crown of Thorns (Oneiros Books, 2013), The Gospel of Flies (Writing Knights Press 2014), and Undisturbed Circles (Lapwing, 2014). Her collection The Rag and Boneyard, was published this month by Indigo Dreams and her chapbook Among The White Roots will be released by Three Drops Press next autumn. Her first novel, Masque, shall be published by Seren in 2016.
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Emma Lee: Technician meets Soul

He coils over the upright piano,
flat fingers hitting the right notes
at the right speed: technically perfect.

His girlfriend is rosebud lipstick,
glossy victory curls,
a perfect 1950s hourglass.

He practises first, last and any time between,
sounding a note and checking pitch
before singing, technically exact.

The spotlight loves her. She has perfect 
pitch. Sings anything: classical, country,
pop, as if from a breaking heart and aching soul.

He’s teetotal, refuses to smoke,
avoids spicy foods. Can tell you
how long he’s practiced to the minute.

She’s all smiles, loves a drink, late nights,
an occasional smoke, grabs food on the go.
Admits she sometimes tires of singing solo
and he’s a perfect backing vocalist.


Emma Lee‘s most recent collection is Ghosts in the Desert (Indigo Dreams, 2015). She was co-editor of Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge (Five Leaves, 2015). She reviews for London Grip, Sabotage Reviews, The Journal and The High Window Journal and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com
.

Back to poet list… Forward to next poem
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

***

Fiona Sinclair: Staying Alive
 
Occasional exploration in wardrobe			
for casual jacket or formal two piece
disturbs the once white now ghost-grey suit
like a memory at the back of the mind.
 
He caught disco fever in his 30s:	
dance classes to learn the moves,
Burtons to buy the Travolta suit,
Saturday nights hitting Canterbury’s own Studio 54,
bumping, pointing, strutting into early hours.
 
Easing into his 60s in chinos and crew neck,
he takes night classes in local history
but still a glitter-ball glint in his eye
when Freudian hand-slips dial from radio 4 to 2.
and as Bee Gees sound sashays out,
his toes twitch inside Clarks’ slip-ons .


Fiona Sinclair’s first full collection Ladies who Lunch was published in 2015 by Lapwing Press, Belfast. She is the editor of the on-line poetry magazine Message in a Bottle.
.

Back to poet list…