This issue of London Grip features new poems by:
*Bethany W Pope *Maggie Butt *Ruth Bidgood *Helen Kay *Keith Nunes *Robert Ford
*Deborah Tyler-Bennett *Stuart Pickford *Sue Burge *Kerrin P Sharpe *Pam Thompson
*Jean Atkin *Bruce Christianson *Jan Hutchison *Phil Kirby *Stuart Henson *Ben Banyard
*Gareth Culshaw *Barry Smith *Mary Franklin *Laura McKee *Carla Scarano D’Antonio
*Merryn Williams *Richie McCaffery *D A Prince *Lynne Wycherley *Leona Gom *Jane Frank
*Philomena Johnson *Steve Komarnyckyj *Stuart Handysides *Norbert Hirschhorn
Copyright of all poems remains with the contributors
A printer-friendly version of London Grip New Poetry can be found at LG new poetry Winter 2017-8
London Grip New Poetry appears early in March, June, September & December
Please send submissions to email@example.com, 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
There is a good chance that this selection of new poetry will be the 1000th posting on London Grip since Patricia Morris founded the magazine in 2007. Ensuring that we hit this target exactly is beyond the poetry editor’s pay grade; but it can safely be said that we will be within a fraction of one per cent of that milestone.
Readers with a head for figures will have reckoned that this represents a commendable average of around 100 postings a year – mostly reviews of art, books, dance and theatre (interspersed with the occasional opinion piece or personal reminiscence). These postings represent the excellent work of at least fifty volunteer contributors to whom we are hugely grateful.
This issue of London Grip New Poetry is the thirtieth since the present format was adopted in 2011
(although London Grip has been publishing new poetry since 2007). A rough estimate suggests that
we must have featured work by at least 300 poets – some of whom have appeared many times.
Enormous thanks are due to all of them. All past editions of LGNP are still on the website, as are the pre-2011 selections (filed under ‘poetry-archive’).
All of the above represents a small additional cause for celebration alongside the much more significant event commemorated at this time of year. We wish all our readers a happy and peaceful Christmas.
Bethany W Pope: The Dog in the Garden The landlord never suspected the bones he found beneath the cobbles. Skeletons, complete and every piece accounted for, laid out in neat rows below the fenced-in beergarden. Once, there was a cathedral set on the hill beside his thatch-roofed pub. The nuns were known for tending to lepers, but the Revolution saw to that. All he sought was renovation; new tiles, some patio furniture, a pavilion with a poured foundation to shelter guests. What he found was resurrection. The dead will not lie still forever. They bloom up like white shoots, nurtured by the bright blades of shovels or the sharp claws of dogs. These ghosts had fingers that disease had sucked to spikes which reminded him of Christmas; the tongue-polished spurs of a candy cane. One very tall figure had the hips of a child, and legs which trailed like a plant grown spindly, shut off in the dark. Very soon, his pub was overrun with historians. Luckily, they drank a lot. At night he lay (very still) in his bed and dreamed of the tips of white crocuses, the first shoots of Hyacinth, tendrils which shore themselves against fragments, ruins. His brindled dog (friend to man) twitched his legs in sleep, darting between a hoard of strangers with missing noses who sought to stroke him, offering love.
Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as ‘poetry as salvation’…..’This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.’ Bethany was born in North Carolina. She has lived in five countries and six American states. She lived in a South Carolina orphanage between the ages of twelve and fifteen. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Trinity, St David’s and a PhD from Aberystwyth University. She has won many literary awards. Her poetry collections include: A Radiance (Cultured Llama, 2012), Crown of Thorns, (Oneiros Books, 2013), The Gospel of Flies (Writing Knights Press 2014), Undisturbed Circles (Lapwing, 2014) , The Rag and Boneyard (Indigo Dreams 2016), and Silage (Indigo Dreams, 2017). Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016.
Maggie Butt: Halloween Ghost Walk, Canterbury His tone is factual: of types there is your monk, nun or lady; of ladies there are blue, grey, white and red; of smells there is cigar smoke, lily-of-the-valley and sulphur, other signs are disembodied voices, or drops in temperature. Headless or faceless ghosts were not beheaded but apparitions fade with time, like batteries. There are toilet ghosts and bedside ghosts, who brush your hair or wrap cold fingers round your throat. The latest burial in the graveyard becomes the watcher of the dead. Most spirits are not malevolent. Most exorcisms do not work. We smirk and avoid catching his penetrating gaze, seeking out sceptics one-sidedly from under his peaked cap. But at 3am, wide awake in heart-beat dark I draw the duvet over my head, not to see, hear or smell, not to feel a drop in temperature, not to have my hair brushed by a nun who smells of sulphur.
Maggie Butt is a London poet, whose fifth poetry collection, Degrees of Twilight, was published by The London Magazine. Maggie is an ex journalist and BBC TV producer, now Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Middlesex University, and Royal Literary Fund Fellow in Kent. http://www.maggiebutt.co.uk
Ruth Bidgood: One Light Night. Where and when forgotten. Seen from a shore, black buildings climb on a starless sky. In one – the tallest – shines the only light. What most clearly I recall is how that mattered, how much I cared that it should shine – but the why is lost. For years the memory is gone. Then suddenly some chance, some random sighting, something heard, read, can wake it – and with it what I felt, still calling out of the baffling past, still dark as that distant night, still strong as its only light.
Ruth Bidgood was born in South Wales, and returned in middle life, to rural mid-Wales, which became her home and inspired much of her work. Her most recent collection is Land-Music/ Black Mountains (Cinnamon Press), a two-ended book with an essay by Matthew Jarvis, who has written a book about her poetry in the Writers of Wales series (UWP).
Helen Kay: Petrarch Names the Dark Ages He’s up each night translating Cicero I saw the line of light below his door. It’s true that words became his sweetest loves and in them hides the golden age of Rome. He pulled a blanket over centuries and then pronounced them Dark, a rotting corpse of literature and art. He hid his own desire in shadows too by pinning his heart on wedded beauty . I think he craved the pain so he could write. He is happier with a laureate than Laura and tidies his loss into patterns of rhyme. I am packing food for our ride to Padua I translate our trip to bread and horses as mother did for us before she died. I hear that the plague is spreading black years behind, black years ahead. Only his words preserve the light.
Helen Kay is sometimes known as the chicken poet because of her debut pamphlet A Poultry Lover’s Guide To Poetry (Indigo Dreams, 2015). She has had poems published in magazines including IS&T, Rialto and Orbis. she was a runner up in the High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature in 2016 and was shortlisted for the 2017 Paper Swans pamphlet prize
Keith Nunes: Rowley’s maelstrom of epiphanies Rowley stands up abruptly clicks into ram-rod straight he rhythmically displays the fine art of tying up his long cinnamon hair initially he speaks in tones of the kereru and then rising to a point launches into the string quartet of tui outside the radio-waves of rain are profiled by the mango street light ‘I’ve decided humans are simply vehicles for a cluster of one-liners’ swallows his 10th cup of coffee ‘of course one line is more than enough for some lives’ he scans for detail in his Van Gogh forgery hanging on the charcoal wall as he scratches at his lime-green onesy which sags a little at the bum the chihuahua’s head is buried in the trifle on the chaotic dining table his face stippled with fresh cream and custard Rowley’s invention for measuring the weight of air (with and without the sunlight component) will be launched tonight ‘I plan on exploding some myths about the disturbing motivation of wind so please bring your iPhone’ one more cup of coffee for the road and we climb inside the cyclonic mouth of the night fame and fortune just three city blocks away
Keith Nunes lives beside Lake Rotoma where the two of them undertake a great deal of reflecting. He’s had works published around the globe, has placed in competitions and been a Pushcart Prize nominee. His book of poetry/short fiction, catching a ride on a paradox, is sold by the lunatic fringe.
Robert Ford: Number 44 Some river or other was always waiting to push its wet fists through your house, to scrape the paper from the walls and leave their trout-coloured flesh bloodied. Its waters would rise up, and enter by the back door without ever knocking, vault the stairs and scour its channel, leaving almost nothing be, except the drill-square rows of Kilner jars filled with dried pulses frowning down tersely from safe above the plimsoll line, their shelf right-angling two walls of your kitchen. We’d lie on the sofa, facing, bemused, just our souls touching, beneath your paintings of famous horses winning races, and lift our cups from the floor as the waters ebbed, searching for an ocean to fill up.
Robert Ford lives on the east coast of Scotland. His poetry has appeared in both print and online publications in the UK and US, including Antiphon, The Lake, Butcher’s Dog and San Pedro River Review. More of his work can be found at https://wezzlehead.wordpress.com/
Deborah Tyler-Bennett: Boy Acrobat and Footman Inspired by William Powell-Frith’s Derby Day, 1858 The Boy’s tongue tastes Fuller’s Earth, tastes chalk dust drying his Pa’s palms when preparing to negotiate a rope above streets never echoing enough applause.
That liveried Footman doesn’t glance their way, absorbed in theatrics of his own: chinking meat-knives; salad-servers; lobster-cutters; tongs. ‘See him today, Britannia’s Great Boy Marvel!’ Pa’s patter grinds far off, then cold-cut menace: ‘Show ‘em, Lad!’ But coral claws, for demolition, thrall, then there’s the pie’s crisped ramparts, speculation (juices thick within) bubbling. ‘See him, alive, Britain’s Wonder Boy,’ gypsy kids smirk at gaujo pantaloons, know bread- rolls can vanish, as carriage-folk get served. The Footman glances up. An acrobat is hissing: ‘Look live, Son, shake yer self!’ His Lad still courts the pie, yet jellied-walls elude. Night’s living quarters – servitude packed into a picnic hamper. The Footman’s dream accompanies Britannia’s Marvel down black-crust alleys – Waking sounds of breaking hearts … of lobster, cracking …
Deborah Tyler-Bennett is author of seven poetry collections, and three volumes of linked short fictions. Her current collections (both King’s England, 2017) are Mr Bowlly Regrets, poems, and Brand New Beat, short fictions set in the 1960s. She regularly performs her work, and takes workshops and classes in creative writing.
Stuart Pickford: Elephant Orchids Downstairs, the butler’s understudy is cutting his toenails with a vegetable-sink knife as if peeling a parsnip. He gathers his parings in a pile like the hoard of ivory beside the fourth Earl of Harewood in a portrait by Joshua Reynolds. The understudy raises a sash, chucks his horned slivers to all ten corners of the Archery Border, lush with weeping bottlebrush. Overnight, elephant orchids push out their trunks, wrinkled and blinking. Their tusks catch the moon. When the Dowager Duchess cuts an armful for the music room, they stampede to the ornamental lake, dig into the mud.
Stuart Pickford works as a teacher in a comprehensive school in Harrogate. His latest book is Swimming with Jellyfish published last year by smith/doorstop.
Sue Burge: Peckover House – Curiosities In the Morning Room, the Cabinet of Curiosities begins with a round brass tin of Jonathan’s hair, two sea-urchin skeletons, a Roman silvered glass phial in a cardboard box, a letter in copperplate from the vicar, a Venetian latticino swizzle stick, a diary with handwriting like ant footprints. A long-gone July - the gardener’s boy flicks the pots to see if they ring dry, scrubs the bark of the Himalayan birch into uncanny whiteness, uses the privy, painted Prussian blue to repel flies, checks the three three-hundred year old orange trees; maybe he sees the artist on the croquet lawn, painting a doll’s house mirrorworld, maybe Marmie the cat, most beautiful and loving, prowling and pawing the grass or Damson, dusty black with tragic eyes and bony back meowing near the little graves of her ancestors. There could be the smell of pigeon pie, the wooden slap of Scotch Hands shaping butter pats, And those men on stilts, harvesting sedge, willow, reeds, turf from the marshes here in the beforetimes, their ploughed faces, spatuline hands scored with reed-burn, do their footfalls still shiver below the rosebeds? But for now it is still July, bees spill from the hives amidst foreign plants, displayed like Rembrandts. Alexandrina’s butler serves tea, scatters arsenic and strychnine from his silver tray for the foraging birds.
Sue Burge: Bryce I learn this quilt will contain a hundred thousand unknown names all forty-two of my facial muscles try not to cry as I stitch the memory of the day you showed me your arms bejewelled with sarcoma, how I felt the stutter of your dancing heartbeat. I re-imagine you flying home to die in the Australian sun while we mourned among the cold grey bricks of Rotherhithe. Then the others too were claimed, one by one, long and slow and cruel as purgatory. I honour your name in thread the colour of sunlight, whispering all the news of all the years you never knew me.
Sue Burge is a freelance film studies and creative writing lecturer based in Norfolk. Her poems have appeared in many publications including Mslexia, Orbis, Brittle Star, The Lampeter Review, The North, Stride and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Sue was longlisted in both the 2016 National Poetry Competition and the Fish Poetry Prize and has been longlisted for the Live Canon Debut Collection Competition. Last year she received an Arts Council grant to write poetry which celebrated Paris’s cinematic legacy.
Kerrin P Sharpe: from his world call centre while J works to reconnect our voices we hear frantic dancing part-Celtic part genetic from his world call centre though he is sorry for our troubles he makes no provision for daylight saving his handset recovers your number in Norwich while he follows my New Zealand listing on his screen we hear him scramble to change the settings and rearrange the slots just for a minute our conversation outmanoeuvres clouds mountain ranges oceans where it is day where it is night yet when we raise our glasses we are cut off and J's voice now thin as wire is so much louder
Kerrin P Sharpe has published three collections of poetry (all with Victoria University Press): three days in a wishing well (2012); there’s a medical name for this (2014); and rabbit rabbit (2015). Her fourth collection, louder, has just been completed and is in the final editing stages. Kerrin has also had her poems published in a wide range of journals both in New Zealand and overseas including Oxford Poets 13 (Carcanet Press UK).
Pam Thompson: The Walk - Relleu, Late Spring If only this bag my daughter bought me as a present from Thailand, with its blue sequinned spirals, its frieze of golden elephants, had been bigger, I would have brought back that turquoise car, the colour of a favourite lost sweater, and the old woman walking slowly up the hill on two sticks. I might have included those clouds, barely clouds at all, more like sun-etchings, and the terracotta house, the campanile. I would have brought back a white snail, a handful of swifts, the cactus with yellow flowers which thrives in this dry weather, the mountain which yesterday afternoon was partially lost in mist. It’s likely I’d have included the cockerel whose crow commands the valley, that line of washing, the Moorish balcony, wild olives, an orange orchard, the clock chime, and placed them on a table in the shade next to the pine cones I’d put there already.
Pam Thompson is based in Leicester. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from De Montfort University and is one of the organisers of Word!, the longest running spoken-word, open-mic night in the Midlands which takes place at the Y Theatre. Her second collection, Strange Fashion, is forthcoming from Pindrop Press at the end of the year
Jean Atkin: Six stories The Story of the Door Each time it closes, the door makes other worlds imaginable. When it opens, through you go without thinking. . The Story of the Coat . The coat recalls its owner’s arms . and spine. On the hook . it languishes. The Story of the Flame Wavering, and must be watched. Draws moths, like people. Double-edged, like a sword. . The Story of the Deer . When the deer run through the wood . they leave tracks. When they are seen, . they are last seen leaping – The Story of the Stone Dog Under a blanket of snow the dog is unmoved, loyal in crises. Stroke his ears and strain your own to hear him. . The Story of The Cup . Holder of all things. . Curved to fit the palm. . Like a heart, warm, easy to break.
Jean Atkin: Saturday night in the north channelling off-kilter grace of young giraffes . the girls are on stacked heels & on the town legs bare & long & orange they dash on water under streetlights, in tiny dresses . shrunk to bums by midnight’s rain they totter hip to giggle & each has raised surreal wet arms to hold . a carrier bag as puffball on her head sheltering each hair & eyelash they trot towards the clubs, shiny, decapitated architects of carnival
Jean Atkin has published Not Lost Since Last Time (Oversteps Books) also pamphlets and a novel. Her recent work appears in Magma, Agenda, Ambit, Poetry Salzburg, The North, Earthlines and The Moth. She has held many residencies in both England and Scotland, and works as a poet on education and community projects. www.jeanatkin.com @wordsparks
Bruce Christianson: Girls' Night Out temperance is on the lash she sits beside the fountain toes dabbling in the water & watches prudence climb the ornamental lion temperance pretends the water is champagne drinks some from her shoe & wishes she hadn't prudence astride the statue leans at an alarming angle as she tries to fit her head into the lion’s mouth you know says temperance it’s important to celebrate our disasters just as much as we do our triumphs yeah chaz does that bollocks constantly replies prudence sounding hollow. temperance looks round carefully but chastity is nowhere to be seen
Bruce Christianson is a New Zealand mathematician who has spent the last thirty years teaching in Hertfordshire. Sometimes he and Chastity hold hands under the table at the all night café.
Jan Hutchison: Flight on a Wednesday Afternoon But Grandmother had vanished – mid-thought, mid-dash. Gone her brisk voice gone the map folded like a duster over her arm. So Grandfather looked up and down the stairs and on the landing with its mistakes and hasty judgements. Then he napped on her winged chair that at night would eavesdrop on conversations of migrating birds. Finally, Grandfather came across her as she stood at her looking-glass. She was fumbling at the back of her dress with a pearl button that wouldn't quite settle in its hole. She who from the start of his wanderings knew his hands would come back to where they were most wanted.
Jan Hutchison lives in Christchurch, N.Z. Her 4th poetry collection is A Kind of Hunger and was published by Steele Roberts, Wellington in August, 2017. Jan is curious about many things, including the secret lives of trees.
Phil Kirby: The Bird Man It’s not the boy in Sunday best – fresh white shirt and khaki shorts – posed beside a trophy-laden table on some unremembered afternoon; nor his grandfather, never a man given to displays of anything extreme – emotion, wealth when he had it – though the cups and rosettes somehow contradict that version of the past. It’s more the aviary-shed, the preep and chitter of a hundred birds; how entering meant breathing in its scent of millet grain and husk, the dry and dusty feathered air which parched the throat; and how the coloured ringlets’ numbered code, the strange and chalk-white cuttlefish and pristine boxes just for shows, seemed like the secrets of a breeder’s art. And everywhere the weightless moult of yellows, greens; of greys and cobalt blue… And then it’s something else: not just the questions of where it all went, who had the birds and when it all stopped – that nurturing from egg to ‘First Prize’ winner – but the grandmother taken too early; the empty shed; the garden falling silent.
Phil Kirby spent most of his working life as an English teacher. His collection, Watermarks (Arrowhead) is now officially ‘sold out’ but the last remaining copies are available by contact through www.waldeanpress.co.uk/page7.html. Hopefully, a second collection is coming soon.
Stuart Henson: The Shed Step in it’s a tardis: vortex of smells distilled a century – of pre-war timber, earth-floor, and the gold decay of sawdust, linseed, two-stroke oil. Is this what happens, then? All falls in place as you’re sucked down through boards and beams, the sun’s migraine toward some backward ebb of space by webs of rope-slack, amber panes that seem to stain long afternoons left there alone, lost to make sense of time’s great centrifuge, its huge mistake. Now while you shrink to half your size bemused by beetle-sift, hammocks of flies you marvel at the fat bench vice haunched like a Buddha on its height – that and the square-tanked Velocette you scramble on and don scuffed gauntlets, goggles, Biggles-eyed, throat-rev the throttle, ease the brake… Behind, dry wallflowers and trellises, tall shadows reaching to embrace… Kick down my canny lad. Accelerate. Back to the future and its great escape.
Stuart Henson‘s Feast of Fools was reviewed by D A Prince in London Grip. The Way You Know It is due from Shoestring in 2018.
Ben Banyard: Extension The garage is gone, making way for this mound of rubble and mud. A metre-deep trench frowns from the ground, expecting a gush of concrete. I throw a coin in for luck, greet the builder with his white with two. He’ll spend three months here; blockwork, timbers, eating my biscuits. On top of this he will build new segments of our lives, places to work, write, play, to wash days from ourselves. We bury our hearts in the foundation, sealing in this morning’s rainfall, a stiff westerly breeze from the estuary, all that we are now and ever will be.
Ben Banyard lives and writes in Portishead, near Bristol. His debut pamphlet, Communing, was published by Indigo Dreams in February 2016, and a full collection, We Are All Lucky, is due out from the same press in 2018. Ben blogs at https://benbanyard.wordpress.com.
Gareth Culshaw: Perps The perps were our line the joint between bricks, that buttering of two faces, softening the wall. Making us believe things were not as hard as they seemed. Flemish Bond, English Bond, Stretcher Bond, some bricks halved, others in wait like a waiting foot. The weight of it all, building before us. Those years when time is of no height. And walls had no point, other than something to clamber over. We ignored the perps, seeing them as a weakness. A scoop with a trowel, tap with the butt end, dink with the edge, not realising that for every brick we laid corners came into our lives, and shadows and shadows, and shadows.
Gareth Culshaw lives in Wales. He hopes one day to achieve something special with the pen. He has been published in various places across the UK and USA.
Barry Smith: Home Front When we cleared my grandmother’s belongings, I was taken for one last look, blinking through the dust that smeared the worn surfaces where she lived out her final widowed years in a blurry grey haze of Woodbine smoke, sixty a day curling over the gold taffeta bedspread and walnut commode, crumpled plaid blanket draped over her knees vainly counteracting the chill that crept through her tight, rattling lungs and thinning blood. There was nothing we wanted to take home from that dour room which had choked her days. Upstairs, I was startled by the blackened bronze equine statuettes, hooves rearing high over sturdy youths struggling with the reins of fire-cast beasts from a classical age. And on the dresser, astride a dark horse, clothed in khaki and leather, gun in belt, gleaming boots plunged into firm-flanked stirrups, my grandfather gazed steadfastly ahead. As children we used to wonder about the one-armed man who heaved bags of sugar in the corner-shop where we clutched hot coins for humbugs; it was the war, some whispered, the one before the last which brought the broken men home: my grandfather was one of those. Wounded at Passchandaele, crawling to cut the coiled barbed wire, given a glass-eyed semblance of sight, Walter never settled but strung a loop in the kitchen and stepped into space.
Barry Smith is director of Chichester Poetry and co-ordinator of the Festival of Chichester. He presents the Poetry & Jazz Café each summer as part of the festival as well as running Open Mic Poetry each month. His work has appeared online, on youtube and in magazines, including Acumen, Stony Thursday Book and London Grip. He was runner up in a BBC Proms Poetry competition. Barry is editor of Poetry & All That Jazz magazine. Recent readings include the South Downs Poetry Festival. http://www.chichesterpoetry.simplesite.com
Mary Franklin: Red Chairs 20th anniversary – April 6, 2012 We watch from our flat window above the high street in Sarajevo as officials lay out in rows more than 12,000 red chairs, one for every Sarajevan killed by Bosnian Serb forces during the four-year siege. My husband’s eyes wander to the bureau and the photo of our young daughter, then return to stare at one of the small chairs where he has placed flowers and a teddy bear.
Mary Franklin’s poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Ink Sweat and Tears, London Grip, Message in a Bottle, The Open Mouse and Three Drops from a Cauldron, as well as in several anthologies by Three Drops Press. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Laura McKee: this is my face before my parents were born finding itself waiting without any idea of the time in stone signs over entrances to Catford boys Catford girls in waters of the River Quaggy the River Cray in my great aunt's hare lip short lived life that stayed in nanny Maude's eyes my eyes have not yet decided which way to look have not been confused by dominance and wandered into the fleck greens of hazel my nose is not shaped by a fight between button and Roman has no scent memory Je Reviens Old Spice Ambre Solaire doesn't know how to find the way home by following itself my ears never hear the cries of mum and dad's arrivals or recognise my own first cry in a shock of black hair in a sharp intake of breath I hear twice again when they leave me
Laura McKee‘s poems have appeared in various journals including The Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House, The Rialto, anthologies including Mildly Erotic Verse (Emma Press), on a bus in Guernsey, in the library for refugees at the Calais ‘Jungle’, and one will soon appear on a friend’s patio, only when it rains.
Carla Scarano D'Antonio: Volcano Crickets fill the lap of night, walls sweat the heat of day. On the balcony she mumbles, words bubble up from inside boiling phrases she couldn’t say to her late husband (the bastard who squandered on his tart) and to her daughter (the bitch who calls me crazy hag). She rubs her head with trembling hands, squints into darkness below: the shadow of the other man who came last night – every night – begs her to join him; but it’s too late, he’s back in America now. The city sinks into torrid August. Sounds brood within, murmurs beneath closed lips. She is a sealed volcano.
Carla Scarano D’Antonio obtained her MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and is working on a PhD on Margaret Atwood at the university of Reading. She and Keith Lander won the first prize of the Dryden Translation Competition 2016 with translations of Eugenio Montale’s poems. http://www.carlascaranod.co.uk/
Merryn Williams: The Silent Treatment Silence is powerful, remember that. Clamp teeth, keep lips tight locked, do not retort. Meet each and all assaults with perfect silence. They’ll come, the loud-mouthed and impertinent like Egypt’s seven plagues, but let them rant, keep mum, stay dumb, ignore the verbal violence. God knows, I said too much when I was young, and half a waste of breath, so bite your tongue until their din subsides. The rest is silence.
Merryn Williams: The Death Zone It’s not like going down but going up; the oxygen runs thinly, near the top. And now it’s hard to lift your feet. You go with difficulty, through the deepest snow. Above the shale, that strip of sky is beckoning; at length, you touch the peak, and then there’s nothing.
Merryn Williams was the founding editor of The Interpreter’s House. Her latest collection is Letter To My Rival (2014) and she edited Poems For Jeremy Corbyn (2015), both from Shoestring.
Richie McCaffery: Dead letter You’ve been trying to contact me again – I hear the letter box flap but when I get to the door all I find are a few brown leaves blown in. It must be hard trying to write and speak all over again but this time without eyes or hands, a mouth or ears, with only the wind in the street and fallen leaves to make do.
Richie McCaffery grew up in Warkworth, Northumberland and now divides his time between Ghent, Belgium and Scotland. He is the author of two poetry pamphlets as well as a book-length collection entitled Cairn from Nine Arches Press (2014). His third pamphlet collection is due out in October 2017, from Red Squirrel Press.
D A Prince: Spoiler He dies in the end, of course he does; dead, all the debt, all those dread deeds paid off, that coin tucked in his mouth, done for, over. And did you expect it different? – a deus ex machina dropping down delivering death a taste of its own, a defeat, just for him? He dies: enough, end of. No dodging, no What-if? no Dare-he? Dropped over the edge at last. The late. Isn’t that what we all do: die?
D A Prince: The Shipping Forecast The backing track to leaving home whatever the sky says or the weather, playing its salt notes along Midlands roads, telling the time in its own measure better than any clock. Gales in Cromarty, Forth drum at the traffic lights: you up the volume, catching Dogger, Fisher as the lights turn green. Foot down, across the M1, hearing Humber veering northerly. On time: the road ahead as empty as a winter sea. Swing past the hospital as Dover, Wight prepare for thundery showers. Blue lights at A&E and at the roundabout Biscay’s becoming rough - the roundabout, landmark, and where you, as ever, remind yourself Sole isn’t where you thought, till here’s a parking spot, the journey over, the General Synopsis, 0500 hours, losing its identity. The day’s map drawn for them, for us; landlocked, a key code and ID opens the gate, as forecast, as routine.
D A Prince lives in Leicestershire and London. She has two full-lengths collections with HappenStance Press, the second of which – Common Ground, 2014 – won the East Midlands Book Award 2015.
Lynne Wycherley: extracts from The Testimony of the Trees In 2016, scientists uncovered relentless damage to trees from mobile phone-masts’ pulsing microwaves
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27552133. Added to other risks, how it speaks to our times. The Strangers Bleak, aloof, they needled among us. Grey lightning-streaks through the living. Phone masts, cell-towers, WiMax. Verticals, a cold-edged gleam. . Marching steel-steel-steel Cadres on rooftops, microwaves pulsing through stucco, bone: nano-hailstones. The strangers. Ghosts to feed the screen-addicted ghosts. . Marching steel... We are hallowmas-in-summer, rust-tinged leaves strange, someone says, there’s been no drought, tap-tap-text data-fix while daylight dips unseen trailing saris, Indian dyes in gloriam Dei. The Fire Jugglers Touch-screens, weevil-bloom. Channels, channels, consumers consumed. Here come the corporate fire-jugglers. Bored with tobacco? Beat this! Microwaves, millimetre waves. Delicate risks to body, skin. . Not content with 1 in 3 cancer? . Boost your chances with the latest upgrade! 24:7, a toxic tisane, smart-homes drilled by smart-chips. . All-wireless, hurry! Strip away the vines, the safe connections: fibre to screen. Strip away clematis, honeysuckle, clean. Electro-blight. Creeping headaches, hollow nights; Jenny Fry. Bury the warnings; spike the sky. . Hurry! Make way. Expunge the ‘not-spots’, the oases. Eden-dots sanctum sanctorum. World-smoke.
Jenny Fry was a child badly affected by WiFi; she eventually took her own life For more details see https://vimeo.com/131798243
Lynne Wycherley’s Listening to Light: new & selected poems was published by Shoestring Press (2014).. Based in Devon, she also writes on wireless health issues for The Ecologist
Leona Gom: Light "Pix it or it didn’t happen": a modern mantra for an age that has no time for time, believes the unrecorded life is not worth living, believes experience is only real if posted publicly, a new ontology dependent not on obsolete I-think-and-therefore-am but I-am-seen-and-therefore-am, a generation educated to believe that it is quantum, photons that are waves until observed, only then becoming particles, reflecting light, visible, real. But it is a dangerous world, the quantum one, always a new understanding one subatomic charm away, one new double-slit experiment to see light in a different light, and suddenly we are neither wave nor particle nor both at once, but something so unformed, so absent of weight, so insubstantial that neutrino particles pass through us by the billions every second as though we are nothing but empty space.
Leona Gom is a Canadian writer from the west coast. She has published 14 books of poetry and fiction and won awards in both genres. Five of her novels have been translated into other languages.
Jane Frank: If I Hadn’t If I hadn’t worked in a bookshop I wouldn’t have been wearing the Jack Kerouac shirt at the hotel tennis courts and the man in dark glasses wouldn’t have asked me a question that led to a love affair where I became suspicious of the beauty of camellias and learnt that there would be no reward for learning to cook moussaka but that pain grows poems and gold doesn’t float. I’ve sometimes wished since that I’d worked in a petrol station.
Jane Frank: Not Being with Hemingway We pretend not to look for you in Bar Marsella. It does not cross our minds you must have sat here Where we do, or at the table next, where an old Man is curled like a shell, a dog heaped at his feet. When we strolled the hot and knotted streets From the London Bar, we did not listen for your tired Steps or look for your reflection in the faded mirror Of the gantry as we walked in, and we did not make It obvious that we were peeling back our own layers, Dreaming ourselves as expats, shaking off the soil Of home like characters you would write, or necklacing Ourselves in dust and cobwebs like chandeliers That only dimly flicker. You wouldn’t notice us smile At the dissolving labels on the absinthe and carajillo bottles That may not have changed in the 78 years that we Haven’t counted. We make only a brief mental note that It is a winter night in Spain, that we are in the company Of locals, maybe poets. Each time the door opens we only Glance nonchalantly across. We don’t expect. The film Crew laughing at the bar don’t really dampen Our chances of not seeing you at all.
Jane Frank’s chapbook Milky Way of Words was published with Ginninderra Press in 2016. Her work has appeared in Australian Poetry Journal, Antiphon, Takahe, Poetry Salzburg Review and elsewhere. She lectures in Humanities at Griffith University in south east Queensland, Australia.
Philomena Johnson : The Day You Died I found a dead sparrow striped sun and shadow by the slatted garden seat – your granddaughter her seven years packed tight in the spring of her spine, cartwheeled past daffodils and pansies – danced joy deep into her bones and the gardener, trailing winter's daphne, wheeled his barrow across the carefully tended lawn.
Philomena Johnson completed her studies at The Hagley Writers’ Institute in 2017 and continues to work on her first poetry collection. She has previously had poems exhibited in On Islands Eramboo in Sydney, Australia and will be published online in The Quick Brown Dog in November 2017. She lives in Christchurch, NewZealand.
Steve Komarnyckyj: Yorkshire Scarecrows Sacking heads with marker penned faces, Tilly Hats or baseball caps, the scarecrows Face acres of oilseed rape or wheat, Waves of gold or saffron or green surf Breaking or sighing at their feet. They do not give an inch, However the wind stampedes The nearby trees in a fir plantation, Or makes the zither of telegraph wires sing Or a magpie paddle the sky backwards, Across the Gordian knot of A roads around Leeds. The scarecrows bear the weight Of Yorkshire's skies uncomplainingly. They know a scarecrow never dies. They swivel on the roof of the Pennines Grinning above peat and Lancashire, Yearning to join hands and dance Over the Irish Sea and Moher To plant both feet firmly in the air, And geolocate their straw hearts Lost like ours in the middle of nowhere.
Steve Komarnyckyj is a poet and PEN award winning literary translator whose work has featured in Index on Censorship, The Guardian and Modern Poetry in Translation. He runs Kalyna Language Press with his partner Susie in between looking after five cats and a dog.
Stuart Handysides: Welcome Before you come to call I release the multi-point lock on the front door so just a twist of my wrist will let you in. Not for you to be kept waiting, to hear keys fumbled, the clicks of a mortice, screwed withdrawal of dog bolts, the rattle of a chain. Not for me to peer through the spyhole at a bulbous nose and receding chin.
Stuart Handysides: Winter Season of fallen gloves trodden into tarmac, picking up damp and dirt, lucky ones cosying fence posts, garnishing garden walls, placed by optimists, who picture careful owners retracing steps in torchlight, and pouncing with delight (as if they would have have lost them)
Stuart Handysides’ poems have appeared in Presence, London Grip New Poetry, Pennine Platform and South. He has run the Ware Poets competition for several years.
Norbert Hirschhorn: London Winter Blues Long walk in the night Sirens howl in two-pitch vibrato + a little child
cannot stop crying Dirty-diesel buses growl past honking to get me
out of the way Someone behind me keeps coughing Home again
Cold night air sent out to shop at the 24-hour mini-market for milk
Pakistani night shift workers sleepy-eyed scan my stuff don't help
pack I smile what else Rainy night not much going on at home walk to local mall to suss out
the bookshop Closed at 7pm But the cinema is thriving bang-bang-
shoot-em-up movies + lots lots of places to e at + eat: Nandos
Rossopomodoro Shikumen Wagamama Yo! Sushi Yoo Moo
Yoghurt + at the cinema all the popcorn/candy/supersize soda pop to
last a long long bang-bang-shoot-em-up My wife says s he wishes
she'd never got married to anyone On BBC website black cloud icons every day for the next five +
counting In Hawaii sunny 68°F + the surf is up Midnight here a dirty
mist descending 1°C even birds are coughing My winter bronchitis
has returned + I was escorted from a British Library reading room
when people complained Hardly better in the morning Worse When I grew up in WWII the pea-
soupers so t hick you couldn’t see your hands People walked with
canes tapping the pavement If you followed the tail lights of an
intrepid vehicle you could end up in the driver’s garage I survived air
raids buzz bombs ambulance klaxons bunkers all-clears smoke +
fire It continues dark + cold + drizzly Outside the supermarket the young
homeless man with a scraggly beard sits on a bit of newspaper barely
out of the rain under the overhang whingeing for money to be put
into a wrinkled styrofoam cup On a piece of cardboard is the sentence
neatly drawn by magic marker reading Please help I’m hungry What
a time to be indifferent I am indifferent Dark + overcast out Cold A few desultory flakes land + die Snow
goddamyou man up Then I think of Aleppo But it doesn't help A
stone in my shoe False dawn walk in my local park I watch various breeds of dogs
running free + various breeds of humans throwing balls from their 'dog
ball throwing stick’ Jack Russell terriers are best out in an instant +
caught on one bounce A pair of l ong-nosed cadaverous dogs on a
single l eash saunter by muzzles grey dark coats they make me
shiver Whippets I ask Yes + aren't they beauties Well ya sure + I give
them wide berth Lap dogs Pekes + Pugs looking like yes here comes
the cliché like their elderly women owners The women walk slowly
chatting in a neighbourly fashion the dogs chatting in their own
neighbourly fashion nose to backside Come here often Snow drops + a single crocus returning like Persephone sticking a toe
outside even if the sky is cold + grey + still dark at 6:30 am I distrust
spring a deceitful lover demanding I be joyful promising beauty
immortality It's winter I trust when things are honestly dead Cough
Cough The crocuses don't care they just do their thing Middle of the night ruminations Up in a clear sky hangs Jupiter
watchman of the night zircon bright Spica in Virgo accompanying him
over these past few months On these last days of February the
morning sky is scandalously blue mocking me for still thinking dark
grey thoughts Never mind life is
Norbert Hirschhorn is a public health physician, commended by President Bill Clinton as an “American Health Hero.” He lives in London. He has published four collections, the most recent, To Sing Away the Darkest Days. Poems Re-imagined from Yiddish Folksongs (Holland Park Press, London, 2013). His poems have appeared in numerous US/UK publications, several as prize-winning. See his website, www.bertzpoet.com.