*

This issue of London Grip features new poems by:

* Margarita Serafimova *Nod Ghosh *James Aitchison *Jim C Wilson *Andrew James *George Tardios
* Leni Dipple *Beth McDonough *Sally Long *Caroline Natzler * Kevin Casey *Murray Bodo
* Edward Lee * Antony Johae * Sanjeev Sethi *Chris Beckett * Angela Kirby * Kevin Cahill
* Keith Hutson  * Chris Hardy *Michael Lee Johnson * Rosemary Norman * Peter Branson
* Geraldine Gould *Angela Laxton *Kathryn Southworth * Matt Duggan *Ashley Griffiths

Copyright of all poems remains with the contributors

A printer-friendly version of London Grip New Poetry can be found at LG New Poetry Summer 2017

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

Please send submissions to poetry@londongrip.co.uk, enclosing no more than three poems and a brief, 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

Editorial

When this issue is launched there will be about a week to go before the result of GE17 is declared. We cannot at the moment know – but we may well strongly suspect/hope/fear – what will be the orientation of the Houses of Parliament after June 8. Under these circumstances, our featured image (which might be no more than an amusing illustration for Chris Beckett’s reminiscent poem about his childhood) can be viewed as some species of omen regarding the political future of the (still just) United Kingdom.

The approach of an election seems not to have prompted many of our contributors to offer poems about British politics – although several submissions have been concerned with the current Republican President of the United States.  About four years ago we indulged in some editorial reflections about the relative lack of political poetry in these pages.  Since then the situation has not changed very much.  But this issue demonstrates once again that what our contributors do do – and do very well – is to observe human emotions and interactions both at the personal level and at the scale of international issues like climate change and humanitarian crises. Sadly, the themes and rhetoric of  today’s ill-tempered domestic politics seem not to be the stuff of which poetry is made..

Michael Bartholomew-Biggs

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

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Margarita Serafimova: Three poems

12 December 2016
I was in a spell.
I was seated in the courtroom, watching the faces, 
the court was sitting, 
for a long moment silence had descended.
The light was yellow, we all were deposited as if in amber. 
The eternal, the great theatre.

10 December 2016
I was abreast with your fear, a winter horse, 
we were pulling your sleigh. 
The harder I pulled, the swifter he galloped beside me, 
on flew your sleigh. 
His mane was touching my shoulder, blown by the wind made by my strength.  
It was chilling.

19 December 2016
Our parting was approaching with swift, firm steps, 
a woman with high hips.
Nothing could be done.  

Margarita Serafimova has published one book of poetry, Animals and Other Gods, in Bulgarian (Sofia University Press, 2016). Her second book, Demons and World, also in Bulgarian, is forthcoming in April 2017 (Black Flamingo Publishing, Sofia). Her poems in English have appeared in Outsider Poetry, Heavy Athletics, Anti-Heroin Chic, the Peacock Journal, Noble / Gas Quarterly, with others forthcoming in The Voices Project, Obra/ Artifact and The Stockholm Review of Literature. Margarita is a human rights lawyer.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargaritaISerafimova/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

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Nod Ghosh: The Lake

he intends to drive
into the lake's
watery depths

nocturnal creatures
and the desolation of
fallen leaves 
his only company

he waits

he has considered
pools of petroleum
and the oiliness
of blood

a threat to fish
that will surround his
sinking station wagon

he has thought of the rush
of water into lungs
the hush of tyres
into mud

the anxiety
of water fowl

who expect
fallen branches
or the flick of a rat's tail

and will see instead
metal slip through liquid
and the dark light
of his face

Nod Ghosh was born in the U.K. and now lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. Nod’s work features in various New Zealand and international publications. Nod is an associate editor for Flash Frontier, an Adventure in Short Fiction. Further details:http://www.nodghosh.com/about/

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James Aitchison: Our First Suicides
'Often, very often, Sylvia and I would talk at length about our first suicides 
[…] We talked death and this was life for us’. 
Anne Sexton: ‘The Bar Fly Ought to Sing’ in No Evil Star
 
Thrilled by the rhythms of each other’s voice
reading poems in Lowell’s seminar,
Anne and Sylvia drove to the Boston Ritz,
drank martinis
and gossiped suicidal rhapsodies.
 
They didn’t say ‘attempts at suicide’:
they spoke as agents of the living dead.
Each new poem would be posthumous.
 
Anne looked in the bathroom mirror: her lips were worms.
She looked again: she was a rat.
She sat in her parked car. She had nowhere to go.
She coupled a snaking hosepipe to the exhaust,
looked in the driving mirror and mouthed goodbye.
 
Young Esther was an American fantasist.
This was England: unholy matrimony,
insufferable single parenthood.
Sylvia knelt down in the English way
and turned the little brass knob.
The escaping sigh was barely audible.
 

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James Aitchison: Duchy
Edward Kennedy ‘Duke’ Ellington: 1899-1974
 
Green’s Playhouse, Glasgow
was a northern outpost on his farewell tour.
 
Ellington and the elders in his band –
Hodges, Bigard, Williams, Carney, Brown –
came from cotton fields to the Cotton Club
where white folk danced to a black composer’s tunes.
 
I entered his duchy to hear the Duke hold court.
 
The players on the Playhouse stage that night
looked older than the men in the photographs.
On the road for more than thirty years
they had grown white-haired, arthritic, venerable.
 
‘Solitude’, ‘Take the A Train’, ‘Caravan’ –
the big band played symphonic black-man blues.
 
Ellington rose from his piano stool.
Centre-stage, a silent soloist
in rhythm with the double bass and drums,
he bounced invisible tennis balls –
one, two, one-two-three-four –
and lobbed them over the invisible net
to detonate among the audience.
 
His farewell tour
was a world-wide caravan of one-night stands.
The A Train halted at Woodlands Cemetery.
 
I’m deaf but the cortex is intact:
I hear the ghost train on its farewell tour.
  

James Aitchison was born in 1938 in Stirlingshire and educated in Glasgow. He has published six collections of poems, the most recent being The Gates of Light (Mica Press, 2016)

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Jim C Wilson: Autumn Leaves 
(Les Feuilles Mortes)

I wallowed in the sweep of falling strings
and lush satin tones of Nat King Cole.
He sang of leaves of red and gold,
the sunburned hands I used to hold –
and how, my darling, days grew long.
In slid the brass, honeyed and lulling.
The leaves drifted past, as they usually do,
and I was  softly seduced – yet again.
Loss was so sweet, heartbreak so smooth.

But last night I heard a saxophonist play:
he gripped that song and twisted every bar;
he stripped the trees to their bare black branches
and blew the oncoming winds of winter.
His discord bit like acid in my gut;
each note was a 3 a.m. emptiness.
And when I lost the tune, I fully knew
the essence of the song, its agony.

Jim C Wilson‘s writing has been widely published for some 35 years. He has had five collections of poetry published and his poems have been featured in over 30 anthologies. He has been a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Edinburgh and Napier University. He has taught his Poetry in Practice classes at Edinburgh University since 1994. Jim lives in Gullane, East Lothian.

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Andrew James: days

       i
shortest day 
of the year —
corners 
and surfaces 
in the house
remain 
dark 
all day
long

       ii
on the desk
your diary
pages flapping
in the breeze —
yesterday tomorrow 
last-week today

       iii
the days getting longer ?
evening sun 
lingers
in rooms now vacant — 
the weight
of lifelong 
load-bearing walls
echoing
in the stillness

Andrew James lives and works as an editor in London

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George Tardios: Nyasi - Grass

After rains
When wind shivers
Grass taller than my head undulates like snakes
Waves invitingly to travellers
To step into its boomslang-greenness

Be wary.
To step into high grass is to be enveloped
In itching seeds	
Trip over roots
Become soaked after rain
If near a village to be covered in fleas.

Grass can become an enemy
Camouflage predators
Around African huts it is cleared well-away
Hard red earth is a firebreak
Revealing reptiles.

And yet soft temptation drags us in.
Food for our donkeys
Comfortable, we think.
Until covered in grass seeds
Knocked stupid from stumbles
Faced with thickets
We begin to hack.

George Tardios was first Director of Totleigh Barton, the Arvon Foundation’s first residential creative writing centre in Devon. He has had poems in various PEN/Arts Council anthologies, and The London Magazine.

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Leni Dipple: Cross-dressed Dandy
(taraxacum officinale)

this squat growth inside
the strawberry bed solicits …
i’ve no nostalgia for sweet
but hunger for bitter 
to cleanse the blood, the liver

if i were polite
(wrong season)
i would write of ‘pursed lips’ PC
inside petticoats of green
but the season is rude
calls for an other politic
an other poétique

so i pick you
fat beauteous bulbous bud
….  you inviting bum

‘passez dans le poêle'’ in butter
you’re taken in better!

The dandelion (pissenlit) is a great tonic, a real restorative of our whole system as we come out of winter. The leaves should be gathered before they flower, but the bud can be eaten. My neighbour Pepette told me her diabetic father derived great benefit from the leaves eaten as a salad, or ‘passez dans le poêle’, added to an omelette.

Leni Dipple is mainly a gardener and sometimes a poet. She has lived in SW France since 2002 restoring herself and her home. Her ‘garden in movement’ (see Gilles Clement) is ongoing and she has been hosting wwoofers since 2007, (see wwoof.fr). Priapus Press published a chapbook Switchback Angels in 1994 and a full-length collection Between Rivers was published by Oldcastle Books in 2014

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Beth McDonough: Smashing pumpkins

Go on. Advertise yourselves, splay
akimbo by aging onions’ 
bent-neck lines. Spread
your gold, stick stamens out – be
big, be blatant, be by far
this bed’s brightest, most bawdy stars.

But, pumpkins – you are
mind-fucks.
Flagrant fertility? Easy lays?
All myth. Your open
free-love invitation doesn’t happen.
Passing insects                    pass – yes pass
tempted by more subtle stuff.

I brush past, dispense 
my quiet I.V.F.

Beth McDonough trained in Silversmithing at GSA, completing her M.Litt at Dundee University . Writer in Residence at Dundee Contemporary Arts 2014-16, her poetry appears in Agenda, Causeway, Antiphon and elsewhere and her reviews in DURA. Handfast , her pamphlet with Ruth Aylett (Mother’s Milk, May 2016) charts family experiences – Aylett’s of dementia and McDonough’s of autism.

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Sally Long: Terminus

The next station is Arctic Ocean,
(orbiting satellites observe the earth,
see the big picture, send data
plotting melting ice, expanding seas)
Mind the gap between the ice floes.

The next station is Monteverde
(Cloud Forest, where the golden toad
once burrowed in tree roots,
before emerging to spawn one last time)
Other species are ready to depart.

The next station is Great Barrier Reef,
(where poisoned from within,
stressed coral expels brown algae,
becoming a pale skeleton)
Stand clear of the UV rays.

The next station is Apocalypse,
 (where this world terminates.)
All change.

Sally Long is a PhD student at Exeter University. She has had poems published in magazines including Agenda, Ink, Sweat and Tears, London Grip, Poetry Salzburg Review and Snakeskin amongst others. Sally edits Allegro Poetry Magazine.

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Caroline Natzler: Creation

Rows of small pyramids, ice white
sparkling with sun and wind

pool after pool of water
moving in from the sea, each a gentle wash of colour

an early tender pink
a rippled yellow, the first hue an infant reaches for

a babbling green, and beneath the surface
strange patches like ancient fish, footprints

pools draining into fields of star pile pyramids

with black buckets left tipped at a neat angle
to match the dazzling diagonals

the long creation of men and boys
skin ravaged by the work of the salt pans.

Caroline Natzler‘s poetry collections are Design Fault (Flambard Press 2001), Smart Dust (Grenadine Press 2009), Fold (Hearing Eye 2014) and Only (Grenadine Press 2015). Caroline teaches creative writing at the City Lit.

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Kevin Casey: Snowstorm: For an Infant Son 

The headlights make a million threads 
      of the falling snow, and the wind is a loom 

that weaves them into a white cocoon 
      surrounding my car, and at every curve 

and downhill slope, I feel my rear wheels hold 
      their breath as they lose contact with the road.

But it’s the thought of you, at home and wrapped 
      in your own cocoon of robin’s egg flannel,

grown and driving through the weather of the world
      that I worry over, and not myself.

In you, there is no immortality,
      only a shift in that burden of care,

and with each mile into the blinding white
      I grow less significant,
            and my hands relax upon the wheel.

Kevin Casey is the author of And Waking… (Bottom Dog Press, 2016), and American Lotus (Glass Lyre Press, 2018), winner of the 2017 Kithara Prize. His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Rust+Moth, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Pretty Owl Poetry, and Cleaver. For more, visit andwaking.com.

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Murray Bodo: The Young Boy and the River
Let him think I am more than I am and I will be so 
Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea                         
 
There where lost trout would haunt
my hands after shivering back to
the river I’d snatched them from,
is a good place for dreaming
myself into a courage that
won’t let losing fights shake me.
 
I still keep idle fly rods
standing in the corner of
the metal shed where I write.
They’re not fashioned of bamboo
but I imagine them so,
to be the true fisherman
I am not, except here on
the page where poems happen.
 
The fly rods, still trembling
from a Cutthroat Trout’s escape,
are in the dream their conjury
drew from memory. 
There I’m fishing a real
river inside a made-up
boyhood, brave like
the old man in Hemingway’s
story of loss and courage.
 
I wait for brave words to strike,
try to equal their power.

Murray Bodo is a Franciscan priest who resides at Pleasant Street Friary in inner-city Cincinnati, Ohio. He spends two months of the year in Rome and Assisi as a staff member of “Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs.” His latest book is a spiritual autobiography, Gathering Shards: A Franciscan Life, and he is presently working on new and selected poems entitled Far Country Near.

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Edward Lee: Summer Play

My daughter's high laughter
outside my closed window
takes me from my desk,
the words I wanted to arrange
in an order that sings
on the stubbornly tuneless page,
no longer so important
when measured against 
lost summer days.

Edward Lee‘s poetry, short stories, non-fiction and photography have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and American, including The Stinging Fly, Acumen and Smiths Knoll. His debut poetry collection Playing Poohsticks On Ha’Penny Bridge was published in 2010. He is currently working towards a second collection.

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Antony Johae: Among the Pumps
(an extract from Lines on Lebanon)
							
It was Eid al-Fitr and everyone was out;
from portraits slung on central lampposts 
Nasrallah looked down on Beirut’s airport road,
on cars bumper-to-bumper with pipe works in the way,
their heavy hooting seeming celebratory 
as walkers passed hazardously between them.
On the makeshift sidewalk old men fingering clicking beads
sat on chairs rickety with age; children scampered 
inches from the choked road or rode merrily on fair horses;
and in near alleys women, some in hijab, chatted
or lugged their wares home to sleepy husbands.
Out of the din, lusty youths laughed loudly at unheard jokes,
eyed flirting girls casually across safe space
while men mingled and drifted into conversation,
drank coffee to the dregs, pulled on pungent cigarettes
and ruminated on Nasrallah’s exhortations.

We pulled in for fuel, my daughter and I,
to a couple of pumps, one not working,
with festive music blazing
from somewhere at the station rear. 
We waited in the oil-caked forecourt
as the music beat out, 
the Premium went in, 
and the clock went up,
the young man in soiled shirt
talking to my daughter through the car window.

Then came an unexpected vision
– through the mouldy pumps she made her way
like a queen passing among filthy paupers – 
sleek-haired 
pearl ear-ringed 
eyes underwater dark 
coral-lovely lips
face fine-figured
neck cloth-covered 
close-contoured to hips
slim-waisted to bare ankles
to straps of open silver shoes
– all caught in casual display 
as she cat-walked through the station.

Eid al-Fitr – Muslim holiday; hijab, – headscarf

Antony Johae divides his time between Lebanon and the UK. In 2015 he published Poems of the East. A new collection Lines on Lebanon is in preparation.

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Sanjeev Sethi: By the Way

Your eyelash in my daybook requires no anatomizing
as your look-in is a day old. A lustrum ago when spotted
eavesdropping or snooping for slips in my wallet or wardrobe
you came at me with: what do u know what love is? I had no idea,
still don’t. Silence seals it as I pucker my lips and blow you away. 

Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three well-received books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). His poems are in venues around the world: 3:AM Magazine, Bindwind Magazine, Novelmasters, Morphrog 14, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Tower Journal, Peacock Journal, One Sentence Poems, Boston Accent Lit, The Bond Street Review, Rasputin, Red Fez, Poetry Pacific, Transnational Literature, Otoliths, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.

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Chris Beckett: Three slaves of Sodom go to the Mercato
for Robel Hailu

A trinity of cursed boys
two short, one tall, their hair in corkscrews 
so the air must feel it 

sit in Tomoco’s 
sipping three small lions of coffee 
from Harar

before they sally out again
freely but together, like a small fleet of lake-dhows 
into the deep souks of the Mercato

where all admire the width 
of their smiles, how warmly their boat-fingers praise 
a cotton or the fish-buckle of a belt 

and one stallholder, whom they call Gashay!
(meaning My Shield! to express affection for the sort of older man 
who plays an uncle figure lightly, but with seriousness) 

out-spreads his sails 
as you would too – how we thirst for tolerance, a little keg of 
colour to nurture the flame!

shouting 

                 welcome, citizens! 
             my brave-chinned zegas! 

and everything his stall possesses 
of traditional shirts and shawls, and cheerful prices 
gets up on its feet and sings

gebre sodomawi: common pejorative, slave of Sodom
Mercato: the vast open market in the centre of Addis Ababa
zega (citizen): what many gay Ethiopians call each other

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dad
British
a kindly
like
people
clocking
eye
his huge
white tents
bazaar’s
over the
rising
canvas
painted
Big Ben
behind it
and above all this
a raffled flight to London but not starting here
a bobby by the Mini standing with his truncheon and his hat
a tent in front of which a Mini, blue
a rack of MiniSkirts and PinStripe Suits
Rolos ToffeeCups Boleros Munchies Smarties FruitGums Caramacs
one look from these eyes says it all  
Moody Talk Dolly Talk Groovy Talk  
Max Factor’s poster saying
St Michael’s underpants
tea and scones under a raspberry parasol
HP Sauce
Christmas puddings

Chris Beckett: Big Ben in an Ethiopian field

Chris Beckett grew up in Ethiopia in later years of Haile Selassie. His collection, Ethiopia Boy, was published by Carcanet/Oxford Poets in 2013 and his translations of Ethiopian poets have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation, Poetry Review and PN Review. He was short-listed last year for the Ted Hughes Award

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Angela Kirby:  The Thing

OK, so he likes to try out these places
and always has to be first to discover 
them, but I’ll never forgive him for what 
he did in the last one, lounging back in 
his chair as if he owned the joint, that 
new place in Camden Road on the RH 
corner of whats-it street, which is meant 
to be so cool, while me, I just can’t see it, 
they all seem the same-old, same-old, 
with square slate plates, and those poncy 
menus which I can’t read because the 
bloody lights are virtually non existent
while all the staff look about sixteen and 
worse, they say ‘good choice’ whatever 
we order, God, it pisses me off, but when 
he picked up this thing between fingers 
and thumb, threw it on my plate, then
snarled and swore at the smarmy waiters, 
that did it. I said ‘Sod you, Dusty’, got to
my feet, buggered off, didn’t look back.

London based Angela Krby gives readings all round the UK, Europe and the USA. Her four collections are published by Shoestring Press and a fifth is underway.

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Kevin Cahill: Nudesan abode of naked beggars, is the land of Ireland”
  – Hermann von Pückler-Muskau, Ireland, 1828
 
An almost nude gang whittled to scanties 
prop themselves up on a bed of trash
shouting and begging: Long life to your Lord, they say,
when his carriage passes, or Long life to your Lordship,
when his window traverses
their pancake-like profiles. Their little skin
procured by his chosen peering, puckering-u 
like crickets for his silken insides, and vaunting
their rear-ends for him like spatchcocks.
O what pleases your Honour, they say
when they lean like grasses: the same tramps
we watch after midnight 
.
for a quid a minute.

Kevin Cahill is a poet from Cork City, Ireland. A graduate of University College, Cork, he has worked over the years for The European Commission, Cork Institute of Technology, and as a reiki practitioner. He has been writing poetry for about 10 years and has been published in journals in Ireland, the UK, and the US, including Berkeley Poetry Review, The Manchester Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The London Magazine, Agenda, Magma, The SHOp, The Edinburgh Review, gorse, The Glasgow Review of Books, The Oxonian Review and presently with The Stinging Fly. He is presently seeking a publisher for his first book of poems.

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Keith Hutson: Memory Man
i.m. Herbert Fernandez 1813-1898

We all recalled his glory days, before
grey whiskers: Ask me anything! Facts filled
Hull Hippodrome, staccato-sharp and sure – 
no doubt about the data he revealed;
his mind as rich as any bank – robust
beyond belief. But why, in later life, when
age ate his reserves and he stood at a loss,
did no one treasure Herbert less, or blame
him playing to our faith instead of trust?
Why weren’t his nightly clangers billed, at best,
as laughable: what makes ovation last?
Let’s call it love, and hope, when we become
befuddled by our audience, uncertain,
our performance isn’t mocked, but smiled upon.

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Keith Hutson: Crowd Control
i.m. The Bryn Pugh Sponge Dancers c.1855

A soft act to follow? Nothing did – 
they always went on last, the buffer spot,
when people put their coats on, filtered out
with half an eye on them: Our job, Bryn said,
was to prevent a crush, a bottleneck 
of bodies heading home. We weren’t much good,
see? Some saw that straight away and got
the early tram. Still, I suppose a few would

hang on till the end, hoping for more than
mattresses three women sank into, sprang from.
There is more, though: Bryn married all of them,
you could say on a triple-rebound, then
wrote a memoir, Ups And Downs, confessing two
had been his daughters, and the other knew.

Keith Hutson has been widely-published in journals. This year Smith Doorstop are to publish his second pamphlet, Troupers. On Feb 9 he read with Carol Ann Duffy, at her invitation, at the Royal Society of Literature’s TS Eliot Memorial event at the British Library. He is now on the editorial board of Poetry Salzburg. His poetry is soon to be featured on BBC Radio 3.

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Chris Hardy : School Portrait

Now her Dad’s inside they say
she’ll go from bad to worse.
She smiles and says Hello.
When you smile back
she’s caught your courtesy 
hanging out
and hooks you with a sneer.

Her boots are fat,
she pushes her black jacket 
up around her neck,
chews under her crop,
opens her mouth
to spit or ask,
Why doesn’t Santa Claus
have any kids? Because
he only comes once a year, 
down a chimney.

At nights she hunts with others
similar, her Mum’s got
a bad heart,
propped on the sofa,
TV and drinks,
any odd one out
can expect a hammering.

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Chris Hardy: Probate

A dozen picture frames neatly stacked,
sharpened pencils and an ivory knife,
folded squares of lace,
small cups with scenes
of eighteenth century Oxford and
a print of a park near Arundel
that no one wants.

In the shed a box of new door fittings
and on the top a ‘Georgian style’
brass letter-flap, still wrapped,
ready to be fitted in a slot
cut in the freshly painted door,
through which letters 
from the future will fall.

Chris Hardy has lived in Asia and Africa and now lives in London. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies, and websites in the UK and elsewhere, including Poetry Review, the Rialto, Interpreter’s House, the North and London Grip. They have won prizes in the National Poetry Society’s and other competitions. His fourth collection will be published in 2017. He is also a member of LiTTLe MACHiNe (little-machine.com) performing settings of famous poems at literary events around the UK and abroad. They are currently working with Roger McGough and have made a new album with him.

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Michael Lee Johnson: Mount Pleasant Cemetery 
Toronto, Canada

Gravediggers uprooting caskets
with sharp, steel shovels –
each slicing step downward
through nerve-rooted earth
copper pennies jingle in change
pouches dangling by their sides.
 
They chat casually of Jesus,
His painless resurrection
from the sealed tomb,
money-changers being chased
away from God’s holy temple.
 

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He is a Canadian and USA citizen. Today he is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois. He has been published in more than 935 small press magazines in 33 countries, and he edits 10 poetry sites. Author’s website http://poetryman.mysite.com/.

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Rosemary Norman: Companions

Six weeks later, after the cast was off,
the wrist that had been broken, mended now
went to a funeral.

There was a walk between the graves
of others, ancient trees and first blossom
under a quiet sky.

There was him in a dark car, talk of
him, music he loved. Afterwards food, drink,
embraces, laughter.

To its companion the misshapen wrist
was a weeping stranger you’d want to comfort
but unsure of its temper.

Shoestring Press published Rosemary Norman’s third collection, For example, in 2016. With video artist Stuart Pound, she makes films with poems as image, soundtrack and sometimes both. See them on Vimeo.

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Peter Branson: Seeing the Solstice in
Midwinter, 2016/17    i.m. Derek Bolton

Poems everywhere – no time to shape them all, 
not birds and bees, dark stuff, more sinewy 
than sunlight through high trees – the city where, 
on dire estates, lined up like coffin boards, 
abandoned dominoes, shop fronts expire 
in rows. To make life bearable, most seize 
the day,  junk food, cheap booze, back-burner ‘Ye 
are many – they …’ still simmering away.
I search bright eyes, young Jack-the-lads, their girls, 
unstoppable, alive, mothers with kids, 
long queues to board entitlement slow train, 
third class, their pennies dropped, old blokes who’ve seen 
it all ignoring bollocks. They contrive,  
pretend tab ends concealed behind clenched fists.

Back from the city, coppice gate to ride, 
I muse on life ill spent, more fortune than 
design, the early evening of this year’s 
midnight, a breviary to wasted time. 
This sky’s the brushwork of a fallen star, 
red shifted might-have-beens, a running sore 
despondent with hindsight – and portents too, 
the wounded herald, battles, wrongs to right.  
Big picture bleared, betrayed by those supposed 
to fight their corner on Damascus Road, 
dismayed, they’re bloody-minded, foxes out 
to beat the hunting ban, apostasy,
side with the enemy, M-way to self-
destruct, vote Brexit, sound the final Trump. 

Peter Branson has been published in Britain, US, Canada, Ireland, Australasia and South Africa: Acumen, Ambit, Agenda, Envoi, London Magazine, North, Prole, Warwick Review, Iota, Butcher’s Dog, Frogmore Papers, Interpreter’s House, SOUTH, Crannog, THE SHOp & Causeway. His selected poems came out 2013, his latest collection, Hawk Rising, in 2016

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Geraldine Gould: Atlantic

Some giant had the name first,
hailed from Greece, down Santorini way, 
was tricked into holding up the sky, they say,
by an even bigger-muscled guy. Fearless, 
they clashed for just a bunch of apples.

Books took on the name, mountainous worlds
mapped out beyond the pillars, before 
a river so vast it encompassed everything, 
separating east from west.
Did someone guess what was to come?

Ah, new world, old world,
now we get it. The river has poured 
into a pond, the boats are clanking 
with remembered chains. No more 
heroes across this ocean, just tinkling 
tones, and crazy talk of walls and fencing, 
tricks from a new guy with orange hair.
He is standing on waves of fear. Dappled
fruits swell, preparing to fall, or burst. 

Geraldine Gould ‘s professional life in education as teacher, lecturer and manager of integrated services for children and families spanned forty years. She is currently a humanist celebrant and lives thirty miles south of Edinburgh in the Scottish Borders.

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Angela Laxton: Oradour

A summer day in pastoral France
seemed like any other.
Lunchtime over, the afternoon began,
clearing dishes, back to work and school,
until an unfamiliar sound destroyed the peace.

At first unsuspecting,
grumbling, obeying
the order to assemble.
Then a growing sense of fear,
those guns are real.
Worry now at separation,
Men stay!
Women, children, Move!
Four o’clock, the explosion.
scatters death in all directions,
followed by brutal and efficient
eradicating fire.
The noise. The smell.

In the church,
a woman jumped to safety from a window,
some young men were able to play dead.
A few hid away in their houses.
The lucky ones in Limoges
returned at the end of the day.

No tickets here, this view is free,
there is a silence of respect,
imagination left to make the leap,
a sense of shared identity.
Why here?  This could be you and you.

Browned blackness,
smouldered bricks,
starkly edge the roadways.
twisted tramlines, trailing wires,
cafes, shops and homes
ruins in their uniformity.
Common metal artefacts,
stand out against the damaged walls,
wrecks of cars, cookers, pram wheels.

At the end, an empty shell
site of screams and suffocating horror
no longer a place of sanctuary.

A summer day in pastoral France,
seemed like any other.
Picnic first, drive on, arrive,
park and cross the road to look.

Disturbed in the shadows underneath a tree
a brown striped snake slithers into darkness.


On 10 June 1944, the village of Oradour-sur-Glane was destroyed, when 642 of its inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by the Nazi SS https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oradour-sur-Glane_massacre

Angela Laxton was born in East Anglia but has lived in London for most of her life. She was a teacher and eventually principal of a school for children with physical disabilities.

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Kathryn Southworth: Skipping the page
 
The Castle of Adventure – once known by heart –
and the illustrated page near the beginning
that I had to turn with eyes closed –
the intruder lunging at a boy as he fled downstairs –
too dark altogether for a girl of eight,
even though I knew it wasn’t real.
 
.     An old man in Australia on tv, weeping
.     as he remembered how they told the craven lie
.     his parents were both dead;

.          the child in the Syrian ambulance,
.          blank-eyed, alone,
.          his entire family wiped out
.          by one side or another;

.               the woman’s face the acid melted
.               when her boyfriend couldn’t stand rejection;

.                    the Azizi girl narrating her abduction,
.                    traded, raped, trying to hang herself,
.                    or open up an artery and bleed to death.
 
It’s harder now to turn the page.

Kathryn Southworth is a retired academic living in London. She has published reviews and poems in a number of anthologies and magazines including South, South Bank Poetry and Artemis.

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Matt Duggan: Metal 

We are selling the metal that kills
so we can afford the spoons that feed our children; 
then killing them with the metal that we’ve just sold
feeding them with the blood on the spoons from happy meals.  

We place them in the hands of our enemy –
how far into this storm must we walk before we feel the cold? –
preferring the shine of falling eggshells in metal 
where breath with flesh is applied – prescribed to only gain 
from the metals of subtraction. 

The daylight would be our undoing 
eyes were transfixed by computer generated handshakes – 
division of the heart is the lie of man’s inked ruin  
where only smoke rings travel along carpets like tiny drunken mice.  
 
We are selling the metal that kills
so we can afford the spoons that feed our children.

Matt Duggan was winner of the erbacce prize in 2015 and winner of the Into the Void Poetry Prize in 2016. His poems have appeared in The Journal, Prole, Ink, Sweat, and Tears, The Dawntreader. He has a new chapbook out with Hunting Raven Press called Metropolis. see http://www.huntingraven.com

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Ashley Griffiths: The Outlaw and the Ghost

Building skyscrapers on sand bars
Shadows of yesterday
Racing away down the central reservation
There goes the outlaw
Dressed eternally in a superman cape
With sunglasses to hide the tears
That won't come
Out of order yet another time, he sighs
So, how do you say goodbye to a ghost?

Drawing lines in the dust
As the sun fails to rise
The outlaw still searches for a dream 
To ride off into 
One last look
The road is calling
But the outlaw is still haunted by 
The age old conundrum
How do you say goodbye to a ghost?

The vultures circle
As the outlaw plans his escape
To replace the shadow 
He left in his place long ago
Drawing lines in the dust
All that is left
Is a smile
As the realisation takes hold
So, this is how you say goodbye to a ghost

Ashley Griffiths is originally from Leamington Spa in the UK, but these days can usually be found wandering around Asia in search of new adventures. He has been writing poetry for a long time and after years of procrastination, he has finally decided to put his poetry out into the world.

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