May 30 2018
This issue of London Grip features new poems by:
* Robert Etty *Mark Young *Rodney Wood *Peter Daniels *Jill Harris *Derek Adams
* Marion McCready *Robert Nisbet *Emma Neale *Pamela Job * Tim Love *Susannah Hart
* Ian C Smith *Gareth Culshaw * Dan Bennett * Anne Ballard * E Wen Wong *Phil Wood *
Lynne Hjelmgaard * Elizabeth Smither * Owen Gallagher * Norton Hodges
*Tom Sommerville * Rosemary Norman * Stephen Bone * Emma Lee *Jane Henderson
*Edmund Prestwich *Eric Nicholson * Michael McCarthy *Teoti Jardine *Jack Crow
Copyright of all poems remains with the contributors
Biographical notes on contributors can be found here
A printer-friendly version of London Grip New Poetry can be found at LG New Poetry Summer 2018
London Grip New Poetry appears early in March, June, September & December
Please send submissions (up to three poems plus a brief bio) to firstname.lastname@example.org
Poems should be either in one Word attachment or included in the message body
Our preferred submission windows are: December-January, March-April,
June-July and September-October
This edition of London Grip New Poetry appears almost a full year after the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire. This was such a public and shocking event that many of us hoped and believed it would mark a step change for the better in the current climate of unequally-applied austerity and inadequately-regulated outsourcing of public services. Jack Crow’s long poem “the burning room”, which we publish in this issue, can be seen as a cry of pain and frustration that there is still little evidence of such a change actually taking place. (There have, of course, been many other similar protests – for instance in the anthology Poems for Grenfell Tower from Onslaught Press and in Ruth Valentine’s chapbook A Grenfell Alphabet.)
To highlight one particular contribution is not of course to detract from the other fine poems in this issue. These include whimsically affectionate character sketches from Robert Etty and Jill Harris, reminiscent narratives by Elizabeth Smither and Michael McCarthy, intriguingly enigmatic items from Rodney Wood and Peter Daniels and a clutch of poems (Tom Sommerville, Rosemary Norman, Stephen Bone & Emma Lee) which explore what discarded clothing might say about its former wearers. With all this – and more – on offer we are sure our readers will find plenty to enjoy.
London Grip poetry editor
Forward to first poem
Robert Etty: The Sun Shines On Miss Mikkelsen Miss Mikkelsen (whose single prospective Mister suddenly recalled a distant commitment) holds queues up practically every day. Shoppers who know come back ten minutes later to give her time to mis-slot a wrong card, or talk herself through what she wrote on the list that she didn’t bring in case she lost it. She enunciates in foul languages at drivers pulled up at traffic lights and jabs at the shape the day’s taken so far with her adjustable walking stick. If you live here you don’t bat an eyelid, but tend to believe at least one of the stories most locals can spin a version of, of her undercover translation role as a Trans World Airways air hostess, of chaperoning a princess’s daughter, PA-ing an elderly country-rock star and finally abandoning everything for a caravan and Marmite and eggs. Sun’s on the town’s red tiles this morning. The church peregrines are scouting for chick-food. Miss Mikkelsen’s baseball-capped and sockless, in Adidas pants to fit someone else, heading for the Post Office. The next thing to do (but opinions will differ) is praise whatever it is you praise for the marvellous chance to see her en route, and even, for some, to queue behind her and wait as she fumbles two £2 coins from inside a mitten she needn’t be wearing and drops one that rolls underneath the pen rack.
Mark Young: The mathematician, when single, is transformed into a retrospective meteorologist He gets the washing off the line noting, as always, the numbers of it. Five business shirts, two T-shirts, five pairs of socks & six pairs of underpants. There seems no balance to it; but then the meteorologist kicks in. Last Saturday was wet, so he / washed on Sunday & wore, while washing, T-shirt, jeans (which get washed at irregular intervals & so do not appear in this catalogue) & underpants. He went barefoot. Monday was hot, so off with the business shirt on getting home. That takes care of the irregularities. The remainder of the week was business as usual. It is too soon to tell what the weather was like today.
Rodney Wood: Military Sketching And Map Reading sandwiches over Westminster Bridge / and I pass tourists dressed as birds of prey I walk with a briefcase containing books / sandwiches over Westminster Bridge I walk with a briefcase containing books / and I pass tourists dressed as birds of prey looking at the moon's reflection / twisted by the grey persuasive Thames I think of Wordsworth leaning over the railings / looking at the moon's reflection I think of Wordsworth leaning over the railings / twisted by the grey persuasive Thames I hide in an alcove of the old GLC building / a guard moves me along with a whip wind attacks with knives and hatpins / I hide in an alcove of the old GLC building wind attacks with knives and hatpins / a guard moves me along with a whip who just want to keep their head down / who want to rest after another disastrous day I walk on in the company of those / who just want to keep their head down I walk on in the company of those / who want to rest after another disastrous day showing strong arms outstretched / for those who died in the Spanish Civil War we end up in Jubilee Garden by the monument / showing strong arms outstretched we end up in Jubilee Garden by the monument / for those who died in the Spanish Civil War still I worry about war / its prey / I want to cry / to tear my face and hair I have no way to set the world aright / still I worry about war / its prey I have no way to set the world aright / I want to cry / to tear my face and hair italicised lines from Night In The Pavilion By The River, Tu Fu
Peter Daniels: The New Chapel The good fight politely scrambles to a mahogany seat in the new octagonal chapel; the gas lamps by the windows are not a success, the heat has cracked the panes. The enemy has entered us for combat; hardened with inward and outward armour we sit in our varnished cabinets, each facing the minister, ready for wrong and right. The born preacher is trying out a new tone of voice, but his throat needs clearing. He grinds his teeth at the unconvinced saint, the one in the way of the Lord; his mouth is full of the pulpit's corners. But other times his face could be seen to turn the sourest wine to the most cordially welcome beverage of righteousness. The great adversary turns the other buttock, and we sing our judgement to the gallery. The low but mighty in convincement take up a mystic vengeance on sin; we begin the long mornings of flattening prayer, the evenings of rising for praise, for the power that shall have settled forever the works of the unsatisfactory.
Jill Harris: Nativity In memory of Joy Morgan A dropped stitch has appeared in Joseph’s beard. The shepherds wobble on their Velcro dots. The sheep is oversized, the donkey, rabbit-like, stands by a fox head bowed, as if bewildered by the faces peering into the hay-lined cardboard box. The faces light up, one by one, like sensors on a drive, or stars in a dusk sky, breaking into smiles. Age may have lodged them in this nursing home, this wintry afternoon, but their time-travelling souls have always known the order of events: The journey over miles to find a refuge in a cattle barn. The angels, clambering through the sky, dispensing grace. The dazzled shepherds, traipsing across fields to find the newborn in his milky den, the baby Jesus, focus of all eyes – everyone adored a baby, even then. The wise men came much later. Here they stand majestic, boldly clutching knitted gifts: a purple box, a bag, a plate of gold. Our eyes are drawn to this nativity. The knitted people in their box of hay light up the room. Their maker stands and smiles, accepting praise as eighty years ago she would endure a birthday cake, or Sunday school class prize. She did not know it was her final gift – not just the knitting but acknowledging her own part in the scene, then letting go – the months of stitching to remind us how a greater maker always visits us in wrappings we provide translating cardboard hay and wool into light and colours like a jewel, who asks us to stand up, be seen and when we least expect it, slip away.
Derek Adams: Like Icarus After all that wobbling, grazed knees and elbows, do you remember that feeling? Suddenly everything felt right and you took off down the road, not looking back.
Derek Adams: A Black Hole Where Once There Was the Sun Abstract Composition (Portrait of Lee Miller) by Roland Penrose (England, 1946) A heart imploding under its own weight, orbited by disjointed limbs. Cries from distant battlefields echo in my head. Images trapped in a viewfinder the shutter can't release. The act of capturing light now just floods darkness in it travels along my veins those lines of gravity that stop the dead moon of my being from floating off into the vacuum surrounding me.
Marion McCready: March Snow for Sorley & Andrew The road is foreign - the ground hidden, walls have grown white heads; snow bodies not children play on the swings. In the car park, cars are ghostly forms hunched next to each other like armadillos. A boy in yellow and a boy in blue, each of them armed with a shovel. They do a snow dance on the driveway - scooping up the soft inches and flinging them into the garden. The snow itself follows its own choreography - fluttering through the air like a kaleidoscope of cabbage white butterflies, oblivious to the coming rain.
Robert Nisbet: The Hardy Annuals In the clumps and ridges where I usually look, the daffodil buds are pushing. Many days are cold and rainy, but so many of us will say, in a quiet drone, that it’s not the cold we mind, it’s the damp (just as we’ll tell you, in July, it’s not the heat we mind so much, it’s the humidity). The one Syrian family will be introduced and everyone will smile and like them, but later, in a back bar’s corner (as with the Japanese students in the College and the Filipino nurses), several will say, That’s fine, but we’re a small island. In April, the showers can give way to the sunset’s unexpected radiance. Summer will bring hot sport, turf and trophies. Media. Tears. We’ll say, it’s character, commitment. We’ll praise the will to win. Some days, on Broad Haven’s beach, the air, the sun and the stillness will coincide in such a summer rightness that we are left breathless by the good of it. There will be exam results, and grades and shrieks and hugs, before the descent again to winter and the abuse of referees. But we will know that a few times there will be one of those days when the cold, the crispness and a winter sun cohere in the truly crystalline.
Emma Neale: A Room that Held the Sea (A ‘2-tina’) Over cocktails, perhaps, or card games, or at book-club in the shared day-room in the small port town retirement home, although on a street with no view of the sea,
a woman told my grandfather of the day she walked into the room where her mother wept and rocked, as if on a deck on a wind-lashed sea, half-crazed with disbelief, barely aware she was in her own living-room. Living-room itself sounded almost crass, as its corners seeped with a red-blind sea despair's deep tide staining mouth and mind so its curse fixed the image of that room for good, for worse, in the young girl's memory. Through it she could never again truly see this spring-kindled world; five words nailed up their own dank room, they rang bitter-clear: 'It should have been you.' Her mother forgivably at sea; yet cruel — unforgivably. Kinder to have denied entry to that plunging room where she tried to drag back from shock's current, treacherous as a rip at sea; back from the news that sucked all light from the room. One young daughter drowned while swimming in an easy summer's sea. The other stood, hair still tangle-damp, limbs glittered with tawny sand, a dozen rooms in the wish-castle of self slammed shut: turned dust-patinaed ghost embassy. Even at 93, once-translator, ex-diplomat's widow, her smile a tern's quick tilt in the sky's vast room, she swore her life story was, 'My sister died. My mother wished it was me.' Eyes grey as wake on winter seas; family love a lost Atlantis: anoxic as cold marbled rooms, undersea.
Pamela Job: Dear Ocean Dear Ocean, do you remember that girl – she was a girl, she was so much younger than I ever was, in that summer moment when the world was blue as the Virgin’s robe. And gold as her tears. Dear Ocean, bring back the girl, foot-free, dressed in shells with ravens nesting in her hair. Dear Ocean, you could have taken her then in the light that made everything blind-eyed in the heat that warmed her thoughts until they fell stunned on the sand – you could have taken her, but you washed her feet instead, blistered, hard-soled from running over rocks. The ravens have flown, now I am ready, dear Ocean.
Tim Love: Dark Matter We know it's there because it slows us down. Everything clings. It's a missing term in an old equation, or undiscovered regrets. Call it love if it helps. Don't bother removing the metaphors - it'll only become one big metaphor. Instead, remember how da Vinci bought caged birds just to release them. In the British Library I research like a crow eating roadkill, becoming roadkill before I can free words from silence. There's a recipe book about roadkill isn't there? Don't go. You know how bad my memory is. My past will disappear with you. I'll try to move my temple stone by numbered stone, but when one man's left, there's no belief, just a symbol that people can't let go of. You understand, don't you. Surely we can work this out. Ok, let's eat first.
Susannah Hart: Becoming Boy, you have been leaving for some time now, slipping out of primary colours into grey and shade. Yes, you’ve been changing, stretching from the small and the specific upwards and away. You are graduating to generalities. Through the front door’s frosted glass you’re unrecognisable and your mother looks too low for your face when she answers the bell, your key forgotten again. You’re impossible, impossible to hold back, implausibly agile for one so clumsy, so deft at departures. She has tried to pin you into photographs and school magazines but you wriggle out of them, casting only a slight reflection. Boy, there’s a word for what you’re becoming and your mother is afraid to speak it out loud.
Ian C Smith: Boomerang Days Under gums, I faced south, he faced north, a cotton bud sky, zephyr cool. We kicked the football back and forth, prelude to his trip to school. Water pooled around a pump, cows watched from steaming yards, his bag I’d shouldered crowned a stump, cut lunch, drink bottle, football cards. I heard a distant tractor start, no bus sound yet, due half-past. Odour of grass wrenching the heart, our kick-to-kick time passed too fast. We heard the bus’s engine sigh, driver’s horn-tap, starting to slow. Kookaburras chorused way up high, cacophony’s echo, sun still low. Parting ways I touched his hair as he skipped aboard sparked by sport. I bounced his ball home past our mare, days everlasting, so I thought.
Gareth Culshaw: I Had Stayed A Couple Of Nights I left today. The cottage pie had settled in me like the evening sun on a sea. I didn’t know who to look at and kept my eyes away. My rucksack was heavier than when I got here. The dog sniffed eagerly for the outside but my hand hadn’t reached for the handle. I stood for a moment like it was the day when I did leave When the umbilical was cut by a tongue. It was for the best back then. But today I stand knowing the next step will start to create a shadow. When something dark falls away from you and follows you everywhere. I’m not sure I want it trailing behind me anymore.
Dan Bennett: R's Story She wakes from the afternoon, into amnesia's logic. A thin light, from some distant window, her eyelids beating movement into the quiet. And each step is a stealthy trip into what she no longer knows. A radio offers to return her to the ordinary but any dream has more sense than this cold awakening as she teeters in the space between words and their things. The strangeness of a home without family amazes her, the feel of woodgrain beneath her touch, that precise colour of grey paint. A mirror faces her with level accuracy the deadpan response of an old friend. Those seconds will remain as the past resumes its dialogue like a glass breaking in the night, like a dream told in passing like the neighbour yesterday who brought news of death with him and she had so much sadness that she wanted to cross the street.
Dan Bennett: Booksellers In those days, I learned to read the look in booksellers' eyes: daring, forbidding but desperate for me, really. In their expressions I saw the gaze of dolorous taxi drivers, protecting knowledge like a rare rooftop bird, the women fronting clip joints in Old Compton St. I'll be honest: I never knew what a clip joint was, but people said to avoid them, how they put a price on lust and loneliness monetised the pitiable. The booksellers, too, priced me up as I pinged their bells, smelling desperation in my browsing, the amateur theatre of my enquiries. Their eyelids sliced away at me: I'll show him death on credit, I'll show him gunslinger I'll show him hunger, I'll show him a la recherche de temps perdu. They knew what I tried to prove, but where else could I go and who else did they have? We faced off divided by our patient temporality, our permanently arrested escapes.
Anne Ballard: A Long Drive in January Pewter and lead today’s colours: puddles bulge, oily, sluggish as mercury. Sky lours, crushes the land, exhaust fumes foul drenched air. No dawn today. Car headlamps, brightest things in the world. Street lights and signs cast long reflections of colours that screech down soaked asphalt. Slanting rain, splattered by gusts of wind; metronome beat of windscreen wipers front and rear. Hooded figures stoop into the face of the rain. I drive in a tunnel of light through no man’s land, alone to the edge of the world.
E Wen Wong: A Moment in the Castle You walk into emptiness. Across the surface, puddles form in the dips in concrete. The smell of old leaves resonates through the air they are rusting, well past autumn. Ahead, a castle, one you believe to be abandoned. It appears dark and gloomy like the stickmen trees which stand before it, a signal to tell you that you are unwelcome. I am a soul bound in the smallest crevice of the castle, the one surrounded by ominous fragmented clouds. It is abandoned, the peaks piercing through the skin of the sky. Statues line the entrance: the markers which precede the pathway towards my soul. The grass, a dull green, malnourished, yet a spark against the castle’s black and white theme. I am embodied by darkness. I am darkness. The shadows hide deep within the castle, beckoning for anyone to enter, to sweep beyond my exterior.
Phil Wood: Bubble Her leg stretches above the foam, slowly turning the hot water tap with her toes. It is performance. A ballet in mirrors, a moist adagio for solitude. She opens her book and reads.
Lynne Hjelmgaard: It was the day they put the clocks back (Torbay Station) Time was away and somewhere else. - Louis MacNiece Minutes were not wasted with you dear Poet, who called himself a Welshman and a Jew – whose elder charm and youthful spirit rose in the excitement of the rush. We drank our builder’s tea at the platform café busy speaking of our past lives when the waitress removed the clock… In the train back to London we sat shoulder to shoulder, poem to poem. The girl in the seat across the aisle watched us intently, her gaze and smile lingered longer on yours. I hardly knew you, yet had pangs of jealousy and still in grief for my own lost spouse, later wrote: give me him young or give me him old, is he writing me now as I write of him?
Elizabeth Smither: The man who wanted to stroke my hair The St Kilda tram. Bright summer air. Breeze through the window gap, stirring all manner of motes, tendrils of hair lifting their traces on my neck. Fine hairs of a different sort, underneath. Antennae not needed for action on a tram. A hand touches my shoulder, gently. A confidant’s hand, a psychiatrist or alternative therapist: The Role of Hair just accepted as a learnèd paper. ‘May I stroke your hair?’ the whisper in my ear. NO, came the answer before I considered it then odd thoughts, like running nits (not that I had those, even at school). Then How many times?’ and ‘Where would you begin?’ Obviously from the crown; the hand would settle and then begin its slide. My hair was thick, golden (my aunts all had it, with a natural wave as it descended, almost a Marcel, no salon needed). The tram stopped. I looked ahead. The man got off, the breeze caressed crown and neck all the way home.
Elizabeth Smither: The girl with the dog made of cigarettes Making a tower of leaning cards turning cigarette packets into a dog a girl in a velvet jacket and pleated skirt carries in the street. Above her head hangs her mother’s handbag. The Pall Mall dog looks up and down the street. Air flows through its body, the gap-spaced teeth, nonetheless it guards the girl who holds it sometimes by a rear leg, sometimes its torso like a clutch purse. An accessory for the well- dressed girl shopping with her mother. On a shop counter the cigarette dog sneaks a rest as if smoke from old cigarettes and stubbed-out butts escapes through its slits. Smoking helps you relax and gives the hands something other than a fumble. The little girl who wears red boots to match the cigarette packets knows to hold something is halfway to confidence. ‘A dog!’ someone exclaims as she thrusts its muzzle forward. ‘How cute, how darling. But don’t start smoking yet.’ Toy dogs made of cigarette packets were popular in the heavy-smoking decades of the 1940s and 1950s
Check out ‘cigarette packet dog’ on google
Owen Gallagher: Where Trees Didn’t Leaf South Side Sawmills, Glasgow Sawdust fell when passers-by shook their heads, dossers scooped it up to skin with tobacco, birds dived, and soared with curly shavings. Hardwood and softwood trunks, from Borneo to Brazil, shipped to the sawmills, were laid out like handmade cigars and left to season in yards for cladding, clothes pegs and coffins. Workers debated the origins of trees by smell and touch, feared fingers sawn off, backs snapped. I swept up sacks of sawdust, heaved them onto trucks to line the nation’s pet cages, and for barmen and school janitors to scatter over vomit. The old hands told stories of gangsters driven here by rivals at night, reduced to slices of meat sold from a dodgy butcher’s van. I eased my nerves with Bounty bars longing for the whining and grinding of saws to cease as I stepped between creaking log piles dreading the scream: ‘Timber!’
Norton Hodges: I Remember BHS It was a cut above Woolworths but cheaper than Marks. Now I walk down the High Street and BHS is boarded up so that the pillaged inside is invisible. People worked here. Shoppers looked for the Winceyette and the Crimplene they couldn’t find elsewhere. The men’s department tried hard to be trendy. In the café, lunchtime diners enjoyed fish and chips or shepherd’s pie with a nice cup of tea. It was part of a safe and regular life. Except that behind the scenes money moved into pockets and certain people got richer, bought yachts, financed their children’s schooling and their wine cellars, Behind the façade of the façade there were puppet masters, there was shadow play, and the ordinary people they saw as units, as ants, as footfall, as bodies per square metre, had to go elsewhere for their sleeveless pullovers and warm vests, shunted out of the everyday, they were suddenly aware of a wider world, a world that was bottomless, unfathomable, without locality, stolen by hucksters through sleight of hand, while the abandoned shops now, if only we could see inside, would be echoing, cavernous, empty except for some ripped packaging and the bones of dead coat hangers.
Tom Sommerville: Clearing Out My clothes hang meekly on the wardrobe rail and form a bunch of snaps of what I was: the striped ties of my formal days of toil; the flowered number, like a long lost cause from when black hair cascaded down my neck; the suits now kept for funerals and weddings; some antique shirts would better deck a case in a museum. All need shredding. What do they tell me now about my life, these dumb participants? They seem a thin memento of an average of grief, a mean of happiness; of mediocre sin. My wife is startled as I think, out loud, That flasher’s raincoat might do me for a shroud.
Rosemary Norman: Dimensions Variable Put it on. Off the hook your shoulders hold it square and the sleeves grow complex and co-operative, no mere dangle but full of potential. Let it have a wearer or at least the semblance of one. Let it not slump into those shapes that give a mortal look to logs or bin-bags. Otherwise let it hang up on its hook, all symmetry and rectitude.
Stephen Bone: Glove It lay in the pub's doorway, an elegant, boneless hand. Palm upwards in a gesture of supplication, fingers reaching out, useless on its own. Or perhaps an iron fist, now rid of its velvet glove. Enough is enough. The gauntlet thrown down.
Emma Lee: These were someone's shoes After a photograph, photographer unknown Red shoes evoke dance but these are strapless stilettos, left on a railway sleeper as if their wearer, a cross between Victoria Page and Cinderella, had danced off with impatience after the train had failed to show, long after the audience of commuters had left an empty station as a stage and silence as a score. Not that silence would have mattered, a dancer carries music: an echo of rehearsal, an earworm from the earlier party, the rhythm of an expected train, to which aching, shoe-pinched feet were compelled to respond, forcing their wearer to place her shoes here and move off, gliding along the rails, tapping over sleepers to avoid splinters, journeying home as the shoes stay, empty and evocative and red.
Jane Henderson: gone when I come in from work there is a note on the kitchen table in your hand. I perceive the word ‘gone’; small word in lower case. you’re good at gone/it is familiar. why bother even to write it when we both know it like a dog nudging our sides. I wonder how cold the night will be with me in the bed alone. you will be moving past green fields, probably too quickly to see where they are divided. the lines blur. and I’m here at the curtain with the same view. you didn’t take your watch and it pips on the hour. the clocks have moved on and you think you’ll have more light. here in the house there’s gloom but still I find a fish scale on the tiled floor and can’t dispose of it when it adheres to my hand. driving on the carriageway you’ll cover more distance in spite of the slant rain. probably you won’t wear your glasses and you’ll neglect to indicate. at some point you might find what I wrote but it won’t hit home.
Michael McCarthy: Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil Whenever mud was found on the stairs, or a handle Knocked off of a cup. Or the gate of the haggard Not closed and the cows getting into the spuds. Or the hen house door left open all night for the fox. How in-the-name-a-God did the horse get into the loft? Who was it drove the wrong sow into the farrowing pin? Who ate a hole out of the bottom of the Christmas cake Before it was cut? Come now, tell the truth and shame the devil. * He bought them out of half-a-crown Peter Brien gave him. I saw the bulge in his pocket where he hung his coat. My hand brushed against it by accident, I heard a rustle. I was trying to find out what it was when a toffee fell out. I was trying to put it back when it slipped into my mouth. It tasted like honey from the combs my uncle found In the cornfield, where the scythe had cut off the top. I tried another to see if it tasted the same, and it did. So I tried one more, and then one more after that. It wasn’t stealing. I gave some to my other brother To see what he made of them. He said they were nice. So I couldn’t have been stealing, and I didn’t tell a lie. I examined my tongue in the looking glass and there was No sign of a black spot. I told the truth and shamed the devil. But my brother said the only devil I shamed was myself.
Edmund Prestwich: Dante In The Garden “These wretches, who were never alive”, Dante, Inferno III Frost on the grass, shrill birds, another jet climbing slowly through dawn-pink cloud. I imagined the man whose book I’d been reading in a scarlet gown sitting under our leafless pear. Four more months till April covered it with flowers and children spread soft toys on a warm rug. His face was hollow, bone pushing out through the skin. I tried to speak but he looked through me. Maybe all he saw, even now, was the hell he couldn’t leave or I imagine, my mind shying from the damned souls crawling out of the earth, labouring through blind tunnels, pushing the maimed on trolleys, praying to see the stars again, to stand up, blinded by light, as if this cold fenced garden were paradise. Perhaps to him I was one of those he’d seen by the first river; the dead who were never alive, chasing a blank banner, despised by heaven and hell.
Eric Nicholson: The Judge's Skin I enjoyed the feel of hot sun when moisture would evaporate and leave tangy salt behind. Scant hair stood to attention in cool breezes, rain ran in rivulets downwards. I thought he was comfortable in me. I'd keep sin out and enemies at bay. I was a part of him, a living organ. I always accommodated his deathly sentences, I had no say when I stretched around yellow teeth. As I cushioned his snapping jaws I crawled. When I was sliced away from him I fell on the floor in slack strips. Someone collected my flayed bits and carried them across the room. They saw fit to shape me into a chair. They told his son to sit on me. Not under. I did all I could to accommodate his weight. I felt a heaviness I'd not felt before.
Teoti Jardine: I Hear the Crying as I look around my writing room. This is my Grandfather’s oak roll top desk with its high curved back chair we children spun on. On the desk sits photographs of my Mum and Dad. He holds the reins of his horse beneath its chin, a look of respect and admiration upon his face. The horse standing securely in its strength looks past him towards the camera where in sepia tones this moment is captured. My Mother in a Photographers Studio wears a dress that gives her eyes a twinkle, letting the whole world know she shyly knows she’s beautiful. Above the desk a painting commissioned by the Community. A farewell gift when Dad sold the farm and we moved down South. It shows the Stable, the Shearers Quarters, the peaks of the mountain range. This view Mum saw as she waved goodbye to Dad, to us kids off to the school bus My ever growing collection of books line the walls and above them are more photographs, posters, artworks and Aboriginal paintings. A photograph of the Pandora II a research vessel I’d sailed on up the Davis Strait past ice bergs where we looked South to see the Northern Lights playing. The front cover of the Kumara Vine shows the dead Humpback Whale washed up on Pareora beach with my poem honouring it. Every room in my house displays memories made manifest. They have become my Korowai, my Cloak that wraps itself around me and allows me to hear the crying. The crying of the dead, the dying, the starving, the refugees. The mountains, the rivers, the land and seas lend their voices too. My korowai allows me to hear, and turn towards the crying.
Jack Crow: Extracts from “the burning room” For the first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire turn back to the flats turn back to the fire turn back to the nightmare there climb the burning stairs to where the moon and stars are near climb the sky to the 23rd floor to the door of those about to die go in wait in the blazing heat in the blazing grief sit with those about to lose their lives those soon to die in pain in pain in pain and fear right now and here take me back to the tower take me back to the fire take me back to my neighbour take me to your room your living room your burning room... with books and a blazer a sofa and a freezer take me to the window where you look down to the ground and at the impossible drop below and you scream to the earth below so soft so cool like ice cream as every way away from here like stairs or lifts or sheets tied together or anything that hope can bring is burnt away till now there is nothing now but suffering this is where you burn where your skin blister where you cough and choke let me sit with you my sister as the smoke rise and the slow fire close us down let me stay beside you as you burn… and those feet that in ancient times walked on England's mountains green and that holy lamb of God that was in England's pastures seen be here and now please be here and now it's love it’s love it's only ever love that can face death that can transform the face of death as every breath defends our right to love as every grain of every bone that stands for love is made of love love as real as wood as fierce as steel as binding as our ligaments let me sit with you my sister as you die let me stay beside you past the pain let me stay till at last from your burning bones your soul can emerge at last can turn to a bird can fly away and at the window now i count you out the people of the tower my sisters, brothers, cousins, each and every one I count you out into the night the silent night and in the morning the smoking tower is joining earth and sky and in the morning on the streets around the have’s who have and go on having are joining the have nots who have not and the door between the rich and poor is just a bit ajar and all of us who saw the fire that came to claim our neighbours will remember and in the morning and as we sort through the wreckage looking for the cause as we gather the facts the answer is simple it's tax tax is a river it flows from the mountains it flows down the slopes where the rich grow it flows through the fertile valleys below it flows down to the dry and desert plains to water there the hope of all the people there so if your money from your ancient family or made by your own amazing industry by your individual brilliance or just by the sweat of your brow is too precious to share with the poor of here and now then maybe today if not everyday i will rise like a corpse i will say it is better that you had never been born... take me back to the flats take me back to the fire take me back every night to the tower on fire take me back to the flats take me back to the fire take me back every night to the tower on fire to watch again the souls of those who lose their lives go to the skies go again to heaven or the stars or all the places where the dead they go watch them go like birds and weep and sob and let light shine on them may the fire of the poor in the burning tower change the world for ever and in the morning we wait for the morning when in spring the birds will come back to the flats and will bring rain and song and green
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Derek Adams is a professional photographer. Originally from London, he now lives in Suffolk. He has an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths and his poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the UK and abroad including Rialto, Magma, Smiths Knoll and London Grip. He has a collection Everyday Objects, Chance Remarks (Littoral, 2005) and pamphlets Postcards to Olympus and unconcerned but not indifferent: the life of Man Ray.
Anne Ballard lives in Edinburgh. Her poems have appeared in Acumen, Magma, The Interpreter’s House and elsewhere. She won first prize in the Poetry on the Lake Competition 2015. Her pamphlet Family Division was published by in 2015.
Dan Bennett was born in Shropshire and lives and works in London. His poems have been published in numerous places, including Atrium, Eyeflash, Prole, and Under The Radar. His chapbook Arboreal Days is published by Red Ceilings Press.
Stephen Bone‘s work has appeared in magazines in the U.K. and U.S. and in various anthologies.First collection, In The Cinema ( Playdead Press ) 2014 and Plainsong ( Indigo Dreams Publishing ) 2018.
Jack Crow has spent a lot of years trying to find a “voice”. Maybe three years ago he found a voice and now it doesn’t seem to want to shut up. Among many things Jack works as a van driver to make money.
Gareth Culshaw lives in Wales. His first collection is published by futurecycle. he hopes to achieve something special with the pen
Peter Daniels has two poetry collections, Counting Eggs (Mulfran Press, 2012) and A Season in Eden (Gatehouse Press, 2016). His translations of Vladislav Khodasevich from Russian appeared from Angel Classics in 2013.
Robert Etty’s latest collection, Passing the Story Down the Line (Shoestring Press), was reviewed in London Grip in 2017.
Owen Gallagher was born of Irish parents in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. He now lives in London and was a Primary Teacher in Southall. His previous publications are: Sat Guru Snowman, Peterloo Poets, Tea with the Taliban, Smokestack Books, and A Good Enough Love, Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2015, which was nominated for the T.S.Eliot award.
Jill Harris lives and works in Bristol, and has been scribbling from an early age.
Susannah Hart is a London-based poet who is on the board of Magma and is the co-editor of Magma 70 on the theme of Europe. She also works as a brand consultant. Her poetry has been widely published in magazines and online, and her first collection Out of True is due to be published by Live Canon later this year.
Jane Henderson is a gardener and sculptor. She is a member of Suffolk Poetry Society.
Lynne Hjelmgaard‘s third collection A Boat Called Annalise was published with Seren in 2016. She is working on a new mss called A Second Whisper
Norton Hodges is a poet, translator and editor. His poems have been widely published in the UK. His recent collection Bare Bone (the High Window Press, 2018) represents 20 years work. He lives in Lincoln.
Teoti Jardine is of Maori, Irish and Scottish descent. His tribal affiliations are Waitaha, Kati Mamoe and Kai Tahu. He completed the Hagley Writers Course 2011 and has had poetry published in The Press, London Grip, JAAM, Ora Nui, Te Karaka, Aotearotica, and short stories with Flash Frontier. He was guest editor for the Pasifika Issue of Flash Frontier March 2018. He lives with his dog Amie in a lovely old house in Linwood, Chirstchurch.
Pamela Job has been writing poetry for 10 years and has helped run Poetry Wivenhoe, a live poetry event, for most of that time. She has won various awards, the Crabbe Memorial Prize twice and, most recently, second prize in the Magma magazine competition. She is published in magazines and anthologies and is involved in a four year Project inspired by the Wilfred Owen Memorial in northern France. She finds poets and poetry very exciting.
Emma Lee‘s most recent collection is Ghosts in the Desert (IDP, 2015), she co-edited Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge (Five Leaves, 2015), reviews for The High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip and Sabotage Reviews and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com
Tim Love lives in Cambridge, UK. His poetry and prose have appeared in Stand, Rialto, Magma, Short Fiction, New Walk, etc. He blogs at http://litrefs.blogspot.com/
Michael Mc Carthy is an Irish born poet living in Yorkshire. A winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Award, his most recent book The Healing Station, was chosen by Hilary Mantel as her Guardian Book of the year. A new collection, The Bright Room and Other Poems, is due from The Poetry Business in October 2018.
Marion McCready lives in Dunoon, Argyll. She is the author of two poetry collections – Tree Language (Eyewear Publishing, 2014) and Madame Ecosse (2017).
Emma Neale lives in Dunedin and is the current editor of Landfall. Her fifth poetry collection, Tender Machines, was long-listed in the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, and her most recent novel, Billy Bird, is long-listed in the International Dublin Literary Awards.
Eric Nicholson is retired and lives in the NE of England. He is published online and by Sydney Samizdat Press, Sydney, Australia, and also has a manuscript about Blake & Buddhism awaiting a publisher. He blogs at https://ericleo.wordpress.com
Robert Nisbet is a Pembrokeshire poet who doesn’t see himself as unduly competitive, but who has recently won the Prole Pamphlet Competition. His winning collection, Robeson, Fitzgerald and Other Heroes is published by Prolebooks.
Rosemary Norman was born in London and has worked mainly as a librarian. Shoestring Press published her 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
Edmund Prestwich has published two collections, Through the Window with Rockingham Press and Their Mountain Mother with Hearing Eye. He grew up in South Africa, but finished his education in England and has spent his working life teaching English at the Manchester Grammar School.
Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in, Antipodes, Australian Book Review, Australian Poetry Journal, Critical Survey, Prole, The Stony Thursday Book, & Two-Thirds North. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island, Tasmania.
Elizabeth Smither’s latest collection of poetry, Night Horse was published by Auckland University Press in 2016.
Tom Sommerville lives in Edinburgh where, before retirement, he taught English and Scottish Literature. Writing poems is his attempt to record things in his life that seem to be worth saving often, but not always, employing the discipline of established verse forms. Attendance at a university poetry writing course encourages regular production which might otherwise fall victim to procrastination.
E Wen Wong is fifteen years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. She began writing poetry and prose from a young age and, since then, has had her work featured in Printable Reality, Rattle and Brief Anthologies, among others. She is also on the committee of the New Zealand Poetry Society.
Phil Wood works in a statistics office. He enjoys working with numbers and words. His writing can be found in various publications, including: Allegro, The Open Mouse, Nutshells and Nuggets, London Grip, Ink Sweat and Tears.
Rodney Wood lives in Farnborough, is retired and runs monthly music/poetry nights in Aldershot. He has recently been published in Magma, Amaryllis, Morphrog and Envoi. Last year he published a pamphlet, Dante Called You Beatrice, which The Journal described as “simple artistry: a remarkable achievement”.
Mark Young is the author of over forty books, primarily text poetry but also including speculative fiction, vispo, & art history. His work has been widely anthologized, & his essays & poetry translated into a number of languages. His most recent books are random salamanders, a Wanton Text Production, & Circus economies, from Gradient books of Finland.
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