London Grip New Poetry – Autumn 2018

*

This issue of London Grip features new poems by:

* Joan Michelson *Joe Balaz *Fiona Sinclair*Arlene Antoinette *Janet Hatherley
*Valentina Colonna * Milton P Ehrlich *Pamela Job *Emma Lee *David Lockyer * Brian Docherty
*Mark Young * Chris Palmer *Bruce Christianson * Marilyn Ricci * Nicholas McGaughey
* R G Jodah *Myra Schneider * Stephen Oliver * Caroline Natzler * Murray Bodo * D S Maolalai
*Christopher Hopkins * Sonia Jarema * Kate Noakes * Stuart Pickford *Marisa Cappetta
*Kim Whysall-Hammond *J S Watts *Deborah Tyler-Bennett *Ian Heffernan
*
Rosemary Norman *Vernon Fowler

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 Autumn 2018

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

Please send submissions (up to three poems plus a brief bio) to poetry@londongrip.co.uk
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

Editor’s notes

So why the header picture?   Perhaps it is because this issue contains a clutch of poems about funerals and the sadness and sense of unreality surrounding a recent death.  After all those mixed and heightened emotions have settled, a churchyard remains a calm memorial of our human mortality and connectedness across the generations.  And – as some of the other poems that follow remind us – there is always time for one more conversation with the departed.

But the image is also our response to the death, within the last three months, of two important Irish poets – Matthew Sweeney and Michael McCarthy.

Matthew Sweeney’s considerable reputation rests on a career spanning well over thirty-five years in which he won many awards and published more than a dozen collections. Michael McCarthy is perhaps a little less well-known – possibly because he came to poetry quite late in life and pursued his craft alongside his work as a parish priest.  Nevertheless his first two collections both won important awards. Several of his poems have appeared in London Grip New Poetry – the last one being in this year’s Summer issue.

It is some consolation to learn that both poets had recently completed new collections. Michael McCarthy’s The Bright Room is due from Smith Doorstop and Matthew Sweeney’s My Life as a Painter is forthcoming from Bloodaxe.

Michael Bartholomew-Biggs
London Grip poetry editor
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Joan Michelson: Consultant
Aleppo, 2016

Everyday I am working in Aleppo by video-link.
While I am driving to the clinic, while I am eating my lunch, while I am watching my children through the big window. A one year child has a cluster bomb in his head. What did he deserve? He did not deserve. I see the very close picture my team sends by my screen. I read the vital signs. I check his peepuls. I tell my team you must make the very hard decision. Myself I am split man. I question always. How to reconcile video you see on your cell phone with how beautiful around me. How lucky I am feeling myself. Everyday I drive my children to school. Everyday I see my children and the greenish grass.

Joan Michelson: Syrian Father
Aleppo, 2016

The lights of Aleppo have been taken away by the warplanes. The beautiful thing now is the sky. No one destroyed the sky. Now we can see all the stars. I start teach my daughter English. The first word that she knows, ‘star’. I ask, ‘Where’s star?’ She says, I mean she points, she doesn’t pronounce, she points with her finger. Together my daughter and I, we see the stars. This is beautiful tears to my eyes.

These news reportage poems draw both on print and BBC radio reports

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***

Joe Balaz: Da Usual Aspects

Round dem up
and bring dem in foa questioning

one by one
to sit in wun chair

undah wun single swinging lightbulb
hanging from da ceiling above.

Let da interrogation

be longah den da opening 
of wun bad gallery show

dat dey forced da public to view

even dough plenty people 
wuz bored senseless

aftah seeing da first few pieces.

Dese traditional art members 
of wun modern day “Salon”

are closed-minded and smug 

acting like wun bunch  
of snobbish blowhards

pushing dere weight around. 

Make da buggahs explain

as to why adah artists
being creative in new and innovative forms
 
should be considered secondary to dem.

Get right up in dere faces
and let dem know

dat originality
is definitely not exclusive

wit watevah dey predictably tink.

Da usual aspects
are corporately criminal

wit da same old tame old

intent on feeding da status quo
and  keeping everyting reserved

by being stunted in one place.

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***

Fiona Sinclair: First solo selfie since …

Their ker-pow meeting at a newspaper jolly,
teenage snogging all the way home at the back of the coach.
Left indifferent relationships for this
best mates marriage that no kids diluted.
For years their Facebook feed was the pair of them
grinning from inside their primrose Morris Minor,
beaming with raised champagne flutes at a ‘do’,
chuckling selfies on a day trip,
all in the frowning face of his leukaemia.

Not a funeral rather a celebration of his life.
Her rakish hat, Dire Straits soundtrack,
his two fingers photo on order of service, set the tone.
Life- long mates got up to recount
with voices that cracked occasionally,
his antics in smoke, scotch, swearing newsrooms,
that had the audience guffawing.

At the wake, ‘vodie’ in hand,
she is a even more life and soul than usual,
but the polish of her eyes is dulled,
yet sees off our condolences with
Listen we had a blast for 20 years.
What more could I ask for?
Weeks later a few snaps of Southampton sightseeing
are posted on Facebook, then the profile pic,
two of them in cahoots, is taken down,
replaced by her first attempt at a Solo selfie,
slightly out of focus.

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***

Arlene Antoinette: Covered By Angel Wings
 
He lies still and silent,
my eyes almost missing
the rise and fall of his chest.
 
I say his name.
There’s no response,
maybe a struggle of willpower
as he attempts to open his eyes.
 
In his dreams
he’s a young man of twenty-five
on the back of a
NSU Quickly motorcycle,
riding up hills and down
the Jamaican coastline.

He opens his eyes,
disappointed by the change in scenery,
saddened by his lack of movement.
 
I smile that fake
everything’s going to be okay,
kind of smile. The smile that the dying
quickly become familiar with as it’s glued
to the face of every visitor, nurse and doctor.
It’s an unintended beacon, warning that the end is near,
telling you to make your calling and election sure with the Lord.

He mutters incoherently. His mind lags behind his lips.
I ease closer to him and wait for more.
More never comes. He closes his eyes.
There will be no sweet goodbye today.

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***

Janet Hatherley: Old enough for a funeral

The hearse cuts in
with a coffin, winks 
in the sun.  Dad?
We’re driven slow, 
smooth as scissors

Mum, me, Sam; wordless.  
Caroline and Michael 
not there –
considered too young 
at nine and five.

Uncle Arthur 
and cousin Ralph
in the second car,
down from Glasgow
for today.

I don't know what to expect.
We sit in rows, loose
as undone stitches
while outside,
the day continues.

I hear two things:
a sob
from Uncle Arthur and
a hum from the curtains
as they close.

The coffin is not there.

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***

Valentina Colonna: Untitled
Translated by Pawel Sakowski

Do not bring flowers to my funeral.
Memories detest the darkness.
When you turn, the roses
you cut for me
take the color of the shadow
and blind they cover the ossuary for the poor, 
in the corner full of sacks with no space
to nail anything to the wall.
 
There is no more room in the grave
where my dress descends at dusk.
I sewed mine in advance
and its tail dusts the floor with lace,
in case a halo should stay
or the wall loses saltiness.
 
Do not bring flowers to my grave.
 
I have collected many
on my train today.
This is the time.
It was enough to pass
although my feet were bound with roots.

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***

Milton P Ehrlich: Sitting In My Brother’s Back Yard Without My Brother

Even though he isn’t here, he’s here.
I can see him sitting next to me—
a Cessna Skycatcher soars overhead.
We listen to a gaggle of crackles 
fly across the golf course beyond
his treasured weeping cherry tree.
He offers me a fig, explaining, the fig
Is actually a flower, and we eat the seeds.
He reminds me to savor his harvest
of Meyer lemons drooping before us.
He asks me to water his rose bushes
since he can’t maneuver the hose
as well as he used to from his wheel chair. 
I suck on a bittersweet Meyer lemon.

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***

Pamela Job: The Pit

The countryside ends here now, look.
Someone dug down in rich soil, ran it 
through his fingers and smelt money
as the tilth fell back. He recognised 
its colour and soon stripped off 
earth’s grass coat and lifted up the years.

And here I am, before the great brick takeover,
out with my father for a Sunday walk. 
We stand at the edge of time, looking down
into a gravel pit; a man, a horse, a wheel barrow. 
I didn’t know another landscape lay beneath 
familiar fields and hedges and high larksong.

We should have talked, you and I - you could 
have told me what you knew of trenches 
and the changing texture of mud, marching through,
how blasts turned trees upside down yet birds
sang on, and how you cried about the horses -  
I would have done, too. But we just looked.

We walked home and the evening light switched on  
its halos, turning tops of grasses (before their fall)
into something holy, and impossible to speak about.

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***

Emma Lee: There's more than one kind of death
Diary 1917

Can I be completely honest with you?
Completely honest and you won't judge?
I've no one to talk to and if I don't
it just bottles up and I get scared.
I've been told I'm lucky. Bone tired,
headaches from eye strain, fingers too calloused
to prick, but I need the money. Lucky?
Bert's making that high pitched whistle again
but I can't go to him, I'm behind on this hem.
I can't do much for him, anyway.
Just hold his hand, remind him I'm his wife.
At least in name. I changed the dressings, 
watched wounds heal, but you can't bandage 
a nightmare. Every night he curls in a ball,
rocks himself. Can't hear me. I used to try but
I could see it wasn't getting through. I thought
it would ease but it's as if he's clinging on.
He's married it. I'm just a loose thread.
I can't go to him. I have to finish this dress.
Special day tomorrow, rush wedding so her
man can go back to war. I want to tell her to pray
he doesn't come back. It'll be better than what
I have. How can I help if he won't talk?
I know I haven't snatched twenty minutes shut eye
leaning against a wall of mud that I'm going
to climb over to a hail of metal and grenades.
Then Arthur'll... and I'll be splashed with guts,
but I'll have to keep going, and, and the sky'll go out.

I'll come round in a hospital bed. I know that's what
happened to him. I know I'm going to have to change
the sheets again. But I've got to finish this dress first.
'Until death do us part'. Then I'll bathe him,
wash the sheets, feed him, help him dress
and maybe, just maybe, when he's got his suit on,
I might just see the man I'd married.

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***

David Lockyer: White Feather Sonnet

You who handed a white feather
To the never returned objector
Wasted in the great war
His conscience crushed by your jibe.
He joined but not to fight, pacifism still at his side.
No order, no threat, no drill
Could train his shame to shoot to kill
So they made him stretcher bearer.
Rescuing the twitching and the mutilated
Became his lot in a war he hated.
Did you stumble to the grubby shell smashed hole
Where your ignorant white shrapnel killed him? Bravo!
Did you hold his hand while his life bled dry?
Did you say, "I'm sorry... I didn't know?"

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Brian Docherty: Sleepers
Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.
(Ephesians, 5:14)

I’m past caring who might scan this signal.
Whoever you are, whatever you want to do,
do it soon. I’m not superstitious, just tired.
My computer fell asleep 340 days ago.

It kept precise time for six years before that,
shortly after almost everyone failed to wake up.
In seven years, not one Copy that or Roger that
I’ve walked or cycled every place I can reach.

All except me out for the count, not the animals
or birds, you can guess what happened next.
I collected ordnance, knives, swords, sports gear.
I’ve become quite proficient with most of it.

Raid, search, loot, shoot, just like an outtake
from The Walking Dead or Z Nation, except 
that hasn’t happened yet. If folks wake up, 
am I the new Murphy or lunch? I’m vegan now.

I wait, count, wait, count again, catnap.
Do I talk to myself, do I want company,
am I the caretaker, waiting for the owners
to show up & say - what would they say?

Perhaps everyone will awaken, transformed
& beautiful, this planet will enjoy a new life,
all our mistakes forgiven, the damage undone,
all I have to do is believe to make this so.

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Mark Young: home aclone

I have dismantled the cloning machine. So much 
promised, so little gained. So many copies of me 
out there I have lost count & lost control. 
                                                                        I think 
it was the me emerging as a sumo wrestler 
who broke the meter some years ago — although 
it could have been that other time when I came 
out as an androgyne & it couldn't decide if none 
or one or two copies had been delivered. 
                                                                         & much 
of the proliferation derives from the night 
the junkie me nodded off & left the machine 
to spit out so many copies it eventually depleted
the toner & invisible mes continued to disappear 
through until morning. 
                                         Two things in retrospect. 
I should never have built in the ability to produce 
alternative identities nor should I have let those 
altered copies make copies of themselves. It 
accelerated the chromosome decay, grew the
damage exponentially. George H.W. Bush's 
Parkinson's is particularly pronounced but he 
is old. Robin Williams' came much sooner. Britney 
Spears' is still to show. 
                                        I have learnt my lesson far 
too late; now I am in clear & present danger (note 
to myselves: good title for a novel). Each day 
the threats increase. So obvious that the newer 
ones don't like me; & if you knew me like / they 
know me you'd know that that's not like me at all.

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Chris Palmer: 13 February 2017
.
………so he tells me it’s not linked to the PMO. How can it not be linked to the PMO? If we have a measure of success then it’s been successful. Yeah. Personally, I like KPIs; KPAs have a lot of issues. I think we need both. A few KPAs to give a bit of wriggle room. Scope and de-scope I say. Programme as opposed to project management. At some point it’s going to hit a brick wall. It’s a primary dependency; just like all the IT we need lean and agile methods, especially in the change process, otherwise you don’t know where your end point is. You know, we need to do ABC, in that order. We’d be saying ‘effectively we’ll fund you to the tune of x and assess yearly’. I mean, they pulled the pin after a hundred million because there was no endpoint. If you have some core threats, you can reassess and readjust after the first year. I don’t think it’s an endpoint, I just think we need to add to the asset list. Do you want to have a look at the Act? No, I’ll be right thanks. We need to map all this out. Shall we use a whiteboard? Yeah, let’s use that. We need more content, like the executables. I’ll send you the link. We need to talk to someone with deep business and technical knowledge, who has deep visibility of the overarching issues, showing case-concepts, information architecture and business architecture. Because it’s a data model, it records the name of the process we’re in. This is great; it’s very important to talk about it. We don’t want to re-invent the wheel, but we need to do a gap analysis to find out which wheels we do need to re-invent. We need agile scrum materials, and scrum training. And we need to find out how architecture influences requirements-gathering. Then we’ll be kicking goals. I heard they’re using data warehouses and they did a proof-of-concept. From an incubation point of view, I think it would be good to be involved. I mean, you can taskforce some of them, but we need a level playing field. Yeah, definitely. It worked downstairs and everyone was pretty stoked. They’ll be working with network architects, designing an end-user compute. Hmm. Well. You gotta do wotcha gotta do.

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Bruce Christianson: Fairy Tale Ending

the off-white witch is stopped & searched
no way this is random she thinks
as the contents of her handbag are spread
before the prurient gaze of the law

what’s with the toad? it’s for my personal use
why did you stop me? a young man’s heart
was stolen & you fit the description

it happened long ago & in a far off  land
but we never close a case unless it’s solved
the older less senior policeman rolls his eyes
but the inspector oblivious waves her on

safe out of sight she gives the toad a lick
& turns it back into her lover’s beating heart

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Marilyn Ricci: Freddie Goes To Tesco’s

Pauses, for effect, on aisle five:
hand on hip, chin down, eyes up,
then glides like quicksilver to ‘Rice’.

Don’t stop me now. I need Basmati
for a dream dinner party – Gandhi,
HRH, Prince and, of course, Galileo.

Is it real life? Maybe it’s fantasy but 
nothing seems to matter except
finding the rice, getting the tagine right.

And there it is: long and slender-grained,
sending shivers down my spine,
all five hundred grammes are mine.

I punch the air, sashay out the door,
but never having been poor, forget to pay. 

Didn’t mean to steal or run away. 
Mama Mia! They will not let me go.

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Nicholas McGaughey: Golden Balls

His curtain goes up late on
an avenue of empty houses –
the dawn show comedown:
the crowd have places to go.

So rich in hours, our Lord
is poor in weeks, with
so much not to do, done, like
landed gentry. There are

phone sprints to cold spiels,
letters, red as murder
clamouring on the doormat. Fridges gape,
like cats at the windows.

Broken and fixed, his holidays
are always. All-Knowing 
what not doing, his Lady straddled 
a striker to time-share the kids. Today 

he contemplates the stones of love,
with the weight of a band of gold,
as he buses along a valley
to a shop, that’s never closed.

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R G Jodah: Under Section 32 of the Salmon Act, 1986.

You're nicked, he says.
Just like that.  I've barely shook
the water from me boots;
rod's still out, a waggling
and a waving in the breeze.

Come along quietly, he says.
I'm trying to put me tackle away,
fumbling flies, flashin' licences,
while all the while his hand's
starting to feel like a flippin' hook.

No, no, no, sonny boy, he says,
I'm struggling to explain myself;
tell him I'm not "handling a salmon
in suspicious circumstances",
I pulled it out right there, fair and square.

Now you look here my lad, he says,
I may be just a city copper,
who knows nothing of the wild 
ways of anadromous fish and such,
but this river you've been fishing

is the bloody Serpentine.
And it ain't had a sniff of sea
since nigh on 1830, but even back then
the Great Stinking Thames
was nowhere near as full of it as you.

R G Jodah: Upon These Shores

"We have no room," Paul said,
his voice is always the first raised.
"You know this to be true, 
and I am not alone in saying so.

But now, as certain as the sunrise,
here they are, brazen, upon our shore;
in expectation of a welcome, uninvited,
I ask you, tell us, what are we to do?

Look, see there, some of them are children
and is it so unreasonable of us to wonder,
on this morning, where their parents are
and why they do not take better care of them?

We know not where they come from.
What if our water can not slake their thirst,
or worse, that our food should prove a poison?
Then what matter our intentions?

Remember too, we do not speak their language,
know their customs, their traditions.
Their gods are not as our gods,
so we risk causing offence twice over.

But above all this, we have no room.
Should we evict our mothers, or our father's 
fathers, to make a place for them among us?
Surely anyone can see, our cemeteries are full."

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***

Myra Schneider: Room

A place that keeps belongings safe,
that shelters you from the outside, its shove, push and unclean air,
its gusts of ear-splitting music, those pale packs of exhausted rush-hour faces, 

the tousled man on the train 
who pulls worn shoes from his bag, changes into a pair, clacks
his heels for a half a minute, then drifts through the carriage pleading for money;

a place to sit with a cup of tea
savouring thoughts and feelings, once a place you longed 
to escape from – that chill dining room where the friction between your parents

erupted at mealtimes in words 
that infected every mouthful, tangled with the beech trees 
outside and hammered so hard on your head you were terrified it would break; 

a place to shrug off the past if it slips
out of the filing cabinet and weave your life with colour: elephants 
silvering a cushion, a purple bedspread, a place to jot ideas which suddenly spiral.

But what of those without a room, 
not even a cupboard, a bed, a shelf to call their own– that man 
on the train, his ludicrous dance, his unwashed body, his hopeless life in his bag?

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Stephen Oliver: Impress
‘and always that special slouch
as if leaning toward another, better, planet,’
	Refugees—Adam Zagajewski

They speak in the language of a landscape
that has vanished, before them and behind them.
They know the words carry an unfamiliar
echo in this land though, insistently, the song 
stays familiar, much in the way some valued thing 
lost will always remain familiar, the guarded 
ruin of memory, familial; the sand drifts that buried 
the village, the orchard auctioned off to investors
and chopped down; those remnants held over
from the olive press of sunsets still entraps them.
But this is the new land, and they must forget
in order to rebuild, to believe once again, even 
if remembering is only the impress of fingertips on 
a clay tablet. What is it then makes us distrust
the laughter in the voice? Big or small, recollection 
is an ornamental dagger encrusted with precious 
stones placed on display, always within view,
though never within reach, a ritual object laid out
in its glass cabinet, ghostly, yet intensely still.

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***

Caroline Natzler: Present

This, the brain harmonising
signals from our roving senses
all firing at different speeds

into one pearl instant

we waver through billows
into the sun as it rises slant through mist
on dulling fireflies

the hinge of one moment
and chances that become stone still.
                        

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Murray Bodo: At the Piano, 2011, Stockholm

Out of the silence the image
Tranströmer at the piano
the right hand silent in his lap

He receives the Nobel Prize his
left hand lifting from the right hand
which protects a troubled heart that

piano music composes
He plays with the silent hand that
imagines playing the keyboard

The silence sings what the right hand
used to write – words and notes now one
Poems become left-handed song

My scissoring eyes cut out this
self-portrait whose far piano
notes play his obituary

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***

D S Maolalai: Jazz piano
Liston just goes about his business. Works methodically. Clay will dance and talk, 
throw a few until he's wiped out. Don Draper, Mad Men.

look at this now:
a jazz combo playing
that's two thirds white;
drummer on the brushes
fat and pale
as uncooked pizza dough
and a guy in a ballcap
playing what'd pass for bass
in a rock band
with just the one black guy
looking proper
old jazz,
smoking between songs
like he's angry at his cigarette
and playing piano
like he's electrocuting spiders

and still
he's steady enough
to let the drummer
have his fills
and let the bassist
do what he can
and watch the people at the bar
drink our gin and tonics
the way we have all night;
white drunks
smoking on the breaks between songs

smoking like we're happy
and acting like drinking gin
or whiskey
makes us stylish 
jazz types
in old movies
listening to a good piano
held back by drums and bass,
music like something
we lost the opportunity for
because white people 
who drink in jazz bars now
are people who have always had things.

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***

Christopher Hopkins: There’s a fist where the heart should be

The grain in the shape of a bay, 
I remember,
searching for a flicker in the static flesh,
the human way 
of finding patterns. Seeing a face. 
How these snow feathers slip into the sea 
of our wombing storm

but the body doesn’t keep its secrets.

We watch a little death in the marble swell,
holding hands,
black & white,

your tears deepen the blue roll in lily creases.
It takes two to check it;
the failing echo of an unborn heart. 
 
Above our embrace,
my quiet thanks in nods 
to the sorry said.

I don’t cry here, it’s not my time.
I have an ocean of love for you
but there is no shelter on the ocean,
there is no shelter from this.

You will say
your body haunts you,

it haunts us both.

The tiniest muscle gave out
and broke us.

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***

Sonia Jarema: Fists
 
The dead-looking wood of the hedgerow
            has broken out into buds like fists;
 
one has opened like a baby’s hand
            that can’t stop turning in the light.
 
The ferns make seahorses as they unfurl,
            knots running down their sides until
 
the whole frond opens. Kyle strides through
            the gardens, holding a phone,
 
earphones plugged in and his hood up
            like a monk’s cowl. He glances sideways
 
at the flower beds and leans as though
            someone were tugging on him at each step.
 
The acer has dropped yellow needled fists
            into my sandwich tin while the leaves,
 
too soft to whisper, wave. Against
            his beautiful brown face, white wires wind down
 
and slip inside his tightly buttoned coat.
            He‘s perfectly encased and it’s hard to know
 
            if he wants to be reached or to be alone.

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***

Kate Noakes: Distractions in the city
 
Too early, yet magnolia and quince
are opening. A blackbird
in the street-corner cherry sings, sings.
 
I pass and listen, spend an hour
browsing second-hand books
repass, listen again.
 
A girl almost twists her foot
stepping off the pavement. I share
her pain with a grimace.
 
‘Ouch’, I say, but over her
headphones, she can’t hear me
or the blackbird.
 
                        *
 
The office square cherries
are weeks from flowering
yet one, tucked by the tower
is pink on its bare stems.
 
I nearly turn my ankle
as I look. No-one notices.
 
A blackbird sings, sings,
its notes echoing from glass
and steel. One bird painlessly
fills the evening sky.

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***

Stuart Pickford: Dad’s Voice 
  
After, I find I’ve driven to Gargrave,
fall in with you again like the day
we stepped out of the copse into sunlight,
trying to find the site on the map.
There were no pillars, baths or even
mosaics, just a couple of fields touched
with daisies. Today, similar. The trees
mute and bare. I catch your voice
telling me how the summer heat
dries out the soil. From the air—
if we could see it—villas and cemetery
would rise again. The outer walls
would be complete and you and I
could stroll down a Roman Street.

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***

Marisa Cappetta: How to Grow a Father-Figure

Let’s say a botanist offers me a cutting
of a prized specimen.
There’s more to the matter than striking 
the propagule and hoping he’ll survive.

The biggest fear is one of us will die
before I have the chance to propagate
him in green glass which generates
a healthy set of roots.

Once the hair-like filaments appear
I transplant him in my garden.
Every day I tell him not to fail me
and encourage him with humus.

A backlash of dreams surprises me.
I wander the forest in search of 
his face in the bark of a tree
and branches that scrape the sky.

Marisa Cappetta: Triptych
After works in Gautier’s Dream by Robert and Shana Parkeharrison
https://www.parkeharrison.com/bodies-of-work/gautier-s-dream
.
The rain assayer   ("The Weather Spy")
He views his apparatus through the open weave of muslin, vision cross hatched
 by weft and warp. Precipitation collects in six test tubes tied together with string.
Birds draw samples of water with pipettes clasped in their claws. They saturate
his shirt. He assesses the hand of rain. 

The wind analyst   ("Aria")
She lashes feathers to her fingers and holds them up in the prevailing breeze. Her
lab assistant is a carp. It notes speed, direction and humidity and makes notes on
the open window. She tosses a sparrow into the lee of the wind. The carp notes
action and reaction until the bird becomes smoke. 

The fog researcher   ("Gautier's Dream")
She is insomnious because her colleague dreams of her. She sees him from
behind a sheer curtain of mist. Sprawled on the table, his head sunk on his arm
apparatus untended. The florence flask cold now in its iron stage, the bunsen
burns low. She gathers the resultant fog in armfuls. It overflows and escapes the
evaporation dish. 

Notes
The hand mentioned in the last line of ‘The rain assayer’ is a textile term 
referring to the ‘hand’ or feel of fabric.  

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***

Kim Whysall-Hammond: Capture
 
We have captured the stones in their circles
first with maps and sketches
now with our many photographs.
They would otherwise move
dance in moonlight’s shadows,
shuffle away to the devils lair,
creep up on a King or a witch.
 
We have opened the barrow graves to sunlight
pinned them to history with interpretive notices
collected the many bones within.
Lurking on ridges, smothered with grass,
besieged by fields and fences,
children now play in dark chambers
where once ancestors dreamed.
  
Do the stones protest at their confinement?
Do barrow wights still lurk after dark?
Have we chased away the Gods-smith?
Do we care?

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***

J.S.Watts : Photo

A photo. 
You and yours back when
we were, though now
we are.
My heart instinctively 
flexes its wings
and flutters,
remembering how it used to fly.
It was soaring then
but you roosted elsewhere.
Still do.
Memory of the wind’s soft lift
still makes my heart sing.

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***

Deborah Tyler-Bennett: Notes to Christine Keeler

The past was newsprint black and white …
shading glasses and sheath dresses …
a man carried from a notable address
under virgin sheets.  
The papers?  All blame,
your fault, chiefly, too young,
too sexy, having curves
to lead public men astray, your public man
led from public duty and his public wife,
her glittering sacrifices sported like a diamond choker.

Oddly, documents stay confidential till it’s all too late –
Just as you were dying we learned your public man had form,
had done it all before, his Nazi spy looking more knowing than you,
perhaps she’d had form, too.
                                      Obituaries?  You for posterity
naked on a statement chair 
                                     about to call the other girl involved a ‘hussy’.
Online posterity?  Chair shot contrasted to sagging twilight,
hardly any of that straddled girl left, man long gone,
reformed, so carried out with better ceremony than your Doctor friend
under the virgin sheet.
If believing in reincarnation, I’d wish you better luck next time,
If this is all there is, at least the chair-picture’s iconic,
that girl … eyes hinting a subtext I hope she bloody knew.

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***

Ian Heffernan: After The Late Shift

Somewhere around Farringdon it happened,
Or Barbican perhaps: the train eased
To a reluctant stop, I closed my eyes and felt
Time tilt slightly in my mind, saw…

An off-duty prostitute slip astride
A seated man; a nude demi-vierge
Crouching at a table, telephone in hand;
Three fingers tracing circlets on a sweatless back;
An almost-open dressing gown; the yeast
Beneath a pair of cumbrous breasts.

This last crossfaded to a tracking shot:
A column of retreating eremites who know
Their lives have been misspent for them by others,
That death escorts them through the world,
And that their futures are no wider
Than the wingspan of a wren.

Another crossfade brought the slowing flow
Of light down roadless valleys; tall grass at dusk
Which holds the sounds of play a little longer;
Small whisperings of snow in unlit squares.

That night I could not dream.

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***

Rosemary Norman: Ulysses
(after Tennyson)

Penelope was old
when I got back.

Why would she expect me
to sit on my arse

for lack of enemies
to be one step ahead of?

She has the boy. Good
for Ithaca. Safe pair of hands.

It could go wrong.
I could end up drunk

and cursing on a park bench
but that’s better than this.

Argos? There won’t be another
dog like him and he’s dead.

Rosemary Norman: At The Scene

Somebody’s in there. For now
it’s all he has to go on –

him thrumming by in traffic
and on the verge a car

on fire. He pulls over, damages
his right hand with a last

and finally successful blow to
her window, uses his left

to operate the door and frees
Ann, 73. She still drives

she says. Yes, she was scared.
As for the young man

there’s fact and nothing but –
the perfect stranger

such a tale insists on. He was
bandaged at the scene

(one of the fire crew took him
aside after they’d done).

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***

Vernon Fowler: In Case of Fire
(Grenfell IV)

In case of fire
Consult your bank balance.
If you are rich, escape.
If you are poor, die.
Assemble in the corridor
And inhale the smoke.
If you have a child
Clasp it to your bosom.
Lie down in an orderly manner
And await your end.
Do not return to the building
Except as a ghost.
Think of the cladding,
Fire-resistant but not fireproof.
Think of the money that was saved.
Think of the council.
If you have a mobile phone
Call your parents and tell them you love them.
Let them hear your last words.
There are two kinds of fire extinguisher:
One for wood and fabric,
One for electrical fires.
They are both useless.
Call the fire brigade,
They will sift through your ashes.
Call the police,
They will identify you.
Call on the Name of God,
He will be merciful
And take you from this hell.
Follow instructions
From an authorised person.
Follow them to your grave.
As it says in the Bible
“The poor, ye always have with you.”
That is, until the holocaust
And then they are gone.
When there is a drill
Pretend it is real.
When it is real
Pretend it is a drill.
Do not shout, for it is undignified
And no one will hear you
And your voice will be lost
In the flames of the inquiry.

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Notes on contributors
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Arlene Antoinette is a West Indian poet who feels compelled to write about life, death and all things in between. You may find additional poetry by her @ The Open Mouse, Your Daily Poem and Amaryllis Poetry.

Joe Balaz writes in Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai’i Creole English) and in American English. He edited Ho’omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature. Some of his recent Pidgin writing has appeared in Unlikely Stories Mark V, Otoliths, Tuck Magazine, and The Lake, among others. Balaz is an avid supporter of Hawaiian Islands Pidgin writing in the expanding context of World Literature. He presently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

Murray Bodo is a Franciscan Priest. A poet and the author of many books, including Francis: The Journey and the Dream, he divides his time between Assisi, Italy and Cincinnati, Ohio, leading pilgrimages, witnessing in the inner city, and writing. In 2016 Tau Publishing released his spiritual autobiography, Gathering Shards: A Franciscan Life. His latest book is A Far Country Near: Poems New and Selected (Tau Publishing, 2018).

Marisa Cappetta‘s first collection How to tour the world on a flying fox was published by Steele Roberts in 2016. In 2013 Marisa received a mentorship from the New Zealand Society of Authors, with mentor James Norcliffe. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Hagley Writers’ Institute and is the winner of the Hagley Writers’ Institute Margaret Mahy prize. She has been published in Takahe, The Press, International Literary Quarterly, Enamel, Shot Glass Journal, Snorkel, Blackmail Press, Turbine, Landfall, as well as several anthologies. She has had two poem posters made by Phantom Bill Stickers.

Bruce Christianson is a mathematician from New Zealand. After moving 12,000 miles to Hertfordshire, he taught there for over thirty years before escaping. His case remains unsolved

Valentina Colonna is an Italian poetess and piano composer. She was born in Turin in 1990 in a family of musicians. She published poetry books Dimenticato suono (Manni, 2010) and La cadenza sospesa (Aragno, 2015).

Brian Docherty lives in East Sussex as part of a growing community of writers, artists, and musicians. He has published 6 books, most recently In My Dreams, Again (Penniless Press) and Only In St. Leonards: A Year on the Marina (Special sorts Press).

Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D. is an 87-year old psychologist who has published many poems in periodicals such as The Toronto Quarterly, Wisconsin Review, Mobius, The Chiron Review, Samsara, Blue Collar Review, Allegro Poetry, Review, Naugatauk River Review, Taj Mahal Review, Poetica Magazine, Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times.

Janet Hatherley is a London teacher. Her poems have been published in several magazines, including Artemis, Ink Sweat & Tears, Obsessed With Pipework, South Bank Poetry, The Cannon’s Mouth and she has work forthcoming in Under the Radar. She has won third prize and been commended in the Barnet poetry competitions, 2015/16.

Ian Heffernan was born just outside London, where he still lives. He graduated from UCL and SOAS. He works with the homeless.

Christopher Hopkins was born in Neath, South Wales and currently resides in Canterbury, Kent. He has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and a nomination for an IPPY award for his debut chapbook Take Your Journeys Home. His second chapbook The Last Time We Saw Strangers was released in June. Both books are published by Clare Songbirds Publishing House, New York. Christopher has been widely published, including The Morning Star, Riggwelter Press, Indianapolis Review, Mojave River Review, Ink Sweat & Tears.

Sonia Jarema was born in Luton to Ukrainian parents and now lives in Enfield. Her poems have appeared in South Bank Poetry, South, Envoi, The North, The Interpreter’s House and Stand.

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.

R.G. Jodah lives in London, enjoying metropolitan anonymity. His poetry has appeared most recently in The Lampeter Review, Typishly, Dream Catcher, Southlight and LightenUp Online.

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

David Lockyer, a retired teacher, was born in 1946 and grew up in Hertfordshire. As well as a great deal of other writing, he has written, either alone or collaboratively, ten successful musicals. Lyrics have always been a part of his poetry output. He says that he tends to write very quickly and edit much later, if at all, as he enjoys the immediacy of next, next, next… whether it be poetry, theatre or story. He has published two books of poetry: CATamorphosis and CATmospherics whilst a third, CATtitudes, is completed.

Nicholas McGaughey is an actor and voice over artist. He recently performed his one man show at Llandeilo Lit Fest. He has poems forthcoming in Poetry Scotland, The Lampeter Review, 3 Elements Review, Voices Israel, An Outbreak of Peace Anthology and Skylight 47.

Joan Michelson‘s recent poetry collections: The Family Kitchen, stories from three generations, The Finishing Line Press, KY 2018; Landing Stage, refugee and immigrant stories, SPM Publications, 2017, London

D S Maolalai recently returned to Ireland after four years away, now spending his days working dispatch for a medical supply company and his nights drinking wine. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Caroline Natzler‘s poetry publications are Design Fault (Flambard Press 2001), Smart Dust (Grenadine Press 2009), Fold (Hearing Eye 2014) and Only (Grenadine Press 2105). She teaches creative writing at the City Lit in London and also runs private workshops.

Kate Noakes’ seventh collection, The Filthy Quiet, is forthcoming from Parthian in Spring 2019. Her website, www.boomslangpoetry.blogspot.com, is archived by the National Library of Wales. She lives in London

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 https://vimeo.com/user22959458

Stephen Oliver is an Australasian poet/voice artist and author of 19 volumes of poetry. Poems translated into German, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian. Represented in: Writing To The Wire Anthology, edited by Dan Disney and Kit Kelen, University of Western Australia Publishing 2016; and, Manifesto: A Political Anthology, edited by Emma Neale and Philip Temple, Otago University Press, 2017. His new poetry collection is titled: Luxembourg, Greywacke Press, Canberra, 2018. greywackepress@gmail.com

Chris Palmer‘s poetry has been published in Australian Poetry Journal, The Brasilia Review, Shot Glass Journal, Meanjin, Quadrant, and The Weekend Australian, among others. His first collection, Afterlives, was published by Ginninderra Press in 2016. He lives in Canberra, Australia.

Stuart Pickford is the recipient of an Eric Gregory award. His first collection, The Basics, was published by Redbeck Press (2002) and shortlisted for the Forward Best First Collection prize. His second collection, Swimming with Jellyfish (2016), was published by smith/doorstop. Stuart lives in Harrogate and teaches in a local comprehensive school.

Marilyn Ricci is a poet, playwright and editor. Her poetry has been published in a wide range of small press magazines and her pamphlet, Rebuilding a Number 39, was published by HappenStance Press. Her first full collection, Night Rider, is out now from SoundsWrite Press.

Myra Schneider’s recent collections include The Door to Colour (Enitharmon 2014)) and the pamphlet Persephone in Finsbury Park, (Second Light Publications (2016). Other publications include books about personal writing. She is consultant to the Second Light Network. Ward Wood is publishing her new collection, Lifting the Sky, this autumn.

Fiona Sinclair is the editor of the on line ;poetry magazine Message in a Bottle. Her seventh collection Slow Burner will be published in August by Smokestack.  She lives in a village in Kent.

Deborah Tyler-Bennett is author of seven books of poems, and three books of stories. She reviews for Under the Radar and elsewhere. Her current book of poems is Mr Bowlly Regrets (King’s England, 2017). She regularly performs her work.

J.S.Watts is a British poet and novelist. Her published books include: Cats and Other Myths, Years Ago You Coloured Me, The Submerged Sea and Songs of Steelyard Sue (poetry), plus two novels, A Darker Moon and Witchlight. See www.jswatts.co.uk for further details.

Kim Whysall-Hammond is a native Londoner who now lives in the country. She is an ex-astronomer and is fascinated by science, the sky and the ancient past. Kim’s poetry has been published by Ink, Sweat and Tears, Three drops from the Cauldron,Your One Phone Call, Amaryllis, Peacock Journal, and Star*Line and shares poems at https://thecheesesellerswife.wordpress.com/ .

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.

Vernon Fowler was born into a working class family in Maidstone in 1958 and has written poetry on and off all his life (but has only ever had one or two published here and there so is most grateful for this opportunity to see something in print).  He studied French and Spanish at school and currently works as a translator of Chinese.

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