London Grip New Poetry Winter 2018/9

*

This issue of London Grip features new poems by:

* Maggie Freeman *Mary Franklin *Marisa Cappetta *Helen Burke *James Norcliffe
*Claire Crowther * Keith Nunes *Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon*Hatty Calbus *Tess Jolly
* Stuart Handysides *Abegail Morley * Carla Scarano *Stuart Pickford * Brian Docherty
* Bethany W Pope * Arthur Russell *Nicholas Lyon Gresson * Robert Nisbet * Malcolm Carson
* John-Christopher Johnson * Peter Daltrey *Edmund Prestwich * Noel Williams * Charles D Tarlton
* Katherine Gallagher *Angela France *Rodney Wood *Ricky Garni *Thomas Calder
*
Frances Lombardi-Grahl *Angela Kirby *Thomas Ovans *R G Jodah *Utsav Kaushik

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 Winter 2018-9

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

Many years ago I saw a cartoon in which a Sunday School teacher is explaining the Christmas story.
I know it’s incredible, she tells them, but in those days there really were three wise men. Previous
generations may have had legitimate doubts about the sagacity and competence of their leaders;
but is it unfair to think that this Christmas finds the English-speaking world unusually afflicted by
displays of ignorance, inconsistency and indiscretion from its political class?

Most of the poets in this issue of LG New Poetry have ignored the political and chosen to write
about the personal – but the availability (or otherwise) of a trio of sages does provide a cue for
this year’s Christmas poem from your editor…

THREE? WISE?

Let’s just agree that we were men,
inconstant in our numbers.  Some
of us were more persistent
as the paths got steeper.
Was that wisdom?
Those who sighed or cursed
and went back home would not have said so.

The star?  The moving one?
Myself, I didn’t see it.
But most of us met those who had
and caught their certainty
that out beyond the setting sun,
where old days always fold away,
another kind of light was waiting.

The stable?  Cave?  The cattle trough?
All I’m sure we saw was this:
a child honoured by the parents;
a man who could believe his wife was raised
above the common place of women.
Traditions need such twists.  That’s how we found
three could intertwine as one.   And no,
our chosen gifts were not too lavish.

Michael Bartholomew-Biggs
London Grip poetry editor
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Maggie Freeman: Measuring Now

Choose an instant. Eleven a.m.
on a slow train through the suburbs, say.
You’re still panting from running to catch it.
You’re happy you won’t be late
for meeting Beatrice on her way back
from Brazil. Your seat is hard.
Opposite you a girl munches a sausage roll
catching her crumbs in a white paper bag
crunched under her chin. Her dark hair
falls about her solemn face. Beyond the window
snakes a street. An old woman
stares in a charity shop window.
A child scoots. A dpd delivery driver
slams a door. A police car
blue flashing light, emergency.

Another instant. It’s late.
You are walking home. Beatrice
is beside you. Your finger feels hot
in the gold circle of the ring she has given you.
The gold was mined in Quebec
it was her grandfather’s ring.
You fumble your key in your jacket pocket.
Under the streetlight the pink cherry blossom
has turned grey. You pause, look up
say, when I was a child living in the city
I thought the stars a myth, like angels.
She says: somewhere out there
far beyond the light pollution
lies the Andromeda Galaxy. I’ve read
it’s so far off that our now, our this instant
expands there relative to us
to last two million years. You say:
our ordinary now on Earth
is as complicated as I can take.
Monday tomorrow: I’ll put the bins out.

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Mary Franklin: The woman in number four

Moonlight flows into the room
as the woman in the flat above
plays Clair de Lune. 

We never know what time
or what day she will play –
she has no schedule.

Fingering keys she seems
oblivious to the spooling
full moon, as mysterious

as she.  Could it be the ghost
of Debussy stands behind her,
one hand on her shoulder?

Each time we hear her play
our breathing slows 
our thoughts grow calm

never more than tonight
in the soothing moonlight.

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***

Marisa Cappetta: My mother weighs the rain

She captures boneless muscles
of water in containers translucent

and marked on the side in millimeters.
She takes the temperature of the sun

and frowns when levels drop in the buckets.
Charts humidity and mist with the precision

of a nurse and says to the kitchen sink and bath
Tell me the grey-water story

and then rehabilitates the run off in the cistern.
Rain is a stroke victim 

it falls on one side of the town.
She gives a meteorologist The Talk.

If a lock-in patient can walk again
so can clouds.

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***

Helen Burke: Only child

The only child wonders
What it must be like to hate
Sharing a bedroom. To hit
Someone just to see if they still
Love you. To know that the battle
You fight is known to them
But only when you are almost spent
Will they help you, and that’s as it
Should be.
The only child hums in the dark
Looks around to see who isn’t listening.
Plays piano, imagines another pair of hands
Helping the tune along.
He names the sister Charlotte and the
Brother Dominic. His own name , Harry,
Unchanged.
In another country everyone has someone
But the only child plays snap alone.

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***

James Norcliffe: Rage

After the roaring stopped, the gasping stopped,
And then the coughing, and the hiccoughing.
They all stopped. And then there was silence.

He rubbed at his wet face and smeared his cheeks.
He opened his eyes. He looked about him in that silence.
The room was empty. He had driven them away: 

his soft mama, his papa, his confused grandparents,
his little brother in his carrycot. All were gone.
As was the red sofa, the easy chair, the electric piano.

The table and the dining chairs. The painting on the wall
of the distant mountain. The low table scattered with
his books and the cabinet where he kept his toys. All gone.

The curtains had disappeared and the sun was low
in the west. The light crept across the carpet.
It was leaving him, inching towards the window. 


James Norcliffe: The Knife

This is the knife we bought from Ikea
last trip. Beautifully designed. Swedish.

The black handle sits snugly in your hand
as if made for it, and the stainless blade

tapers elegantly to its point like a well-
crafted argument. I keep it very sharp,

so don’t feel along the edge. Also from
Ikea we bought a sharpener: a three-

chambered, colour-coded set of emery
wheels that hone the blade to a razor.

I cut a lettuce at the stem for my lunch 
and the bitter milk starts in small globules.

When I wipe the milk-stained blade 
on my jeans I feel like a street fighter.

I carry the head to the kitchen and lay
it beside red tomatoes and bell peppers.

See how the knife slices through them: colour 
opening to colour and colour and colour.

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***

Claire Crowther: Creature    

The shock is seeing the creature you made
in clothes.
If she was flesh sliced, scarring my thigh,
healed over,
I’d be confident she was mine.

But that woman 
in a cabled sweater, crossing 
the car park, 
bags filled, holding a phone with her chin, 
opening 
a steel door with her remote while chatting, 

I made her?

From supermarket to shelter, sleet beats 
on her 
and wheel splash disfigures her feet, rain’s 
dirty rinse
slaps her from corrupt tarmac but 
won’t wipe her out.

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Keith Nunes: Watching him

Watch his cheekbones being chipped
Down to the size
Of when he began
The salting of peppered head-of-hair 
How his gait bows and his clothes
Drop in hangered vertical fall 

Out crawls the unfettered regret
The sucked-in mouth 
In need of subtitles
Telling her
They could have both done better

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Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon: Creative Accounting

He doesn’t know, he mustn’t know.
She opens it one day, feeling low
as she waits in the bank. Blinded
by tears that flow because of him.
A simple form – a small deposit, 
the minimum required, says the cashier,
who offers her a tissue.  Back at home
she feels like a thief, filching the housekeeping,
paid from his wages. The next time he hits her
she decides it’s compensation. And, each time
he raises his voice, his hand – bruises her skin, her soul, 
her secret grows. Interest accrues confidence inside
and soon she’ll bolt one door     and open another.
 

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***

Hatty Calbus: Over-Eligible Men

After we were both grandly led on by the genius,
we managed more solidarity than rivalry for a while.
She, moving onto other men, had a brief beau
who turned up once in a beige jumper.
In spite of herself, in spite of everything, 
she found she was thinking,
Sean would never wear a beige jumper.
And over the years, whichever men I met,
however much I liked them, sooner or later
a small voice always pointed out,
Sean would never wear a beige jumper.
Until one night in the group of mainly women, 
a few men and one beautiful man.
His azuline eyes, his warmed brown skin,
his cheekbones made the world a better place.
Had he ever looked better than he was doing that night? 
And though three ladies sat with him on the sofa
the azuline eyes were gazing at me.
Had anyone ever looked better? 
Could he have looked any better 
in what he was wearing, which was a beige jumper?


Hatty Calbus: Western Nature

He was not the sort of Australian
who writes poetry.
London was a loud succession of pubs
where he got drunk and left
with a loud succession of women,
also Australian, none of them poets.
The usual tall, strong, tanned, 
he found a job in the outdoors,
tending communal gardens.
In the tame gardens, 
there was no beer, no sex 
but there were leaf-blowers.
He could grasp the roaring engine, 
point its great nozzle, blast his maleness
out into dead leaves.

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***

Tess Jolly: Breakfast at the Origami Cafe

Blown like leaves through the open door
regulars settle to the ambient music.
Waitresses bring coffee, pastries, 
hot chocolate frothing with cream
and a mother tenderly bends her daughter 
at the waist, demonstrates folding a crane. 
Her husband invites her to crease along
the dotted line of his spine, butterfly-print 
one tattooed side of his back to the other. 
In her practised fingers he’s transformed 
to an intricate bloom, a keepsake she places
in the box she’s made from her body. 
Scars speckle the exterior, her navel is pressed 
into the lid like a rose in hand-made paper. 
An elderly man sipping peppermint tea 
watches her work then slowly gathers 
his skin into the snapping mouth of a fox. 
Businessmen put away their phones,
collapse to a shining fleet of airplanes. 
Soon turtles, stars, dragons, hats decorate 
vacant tables while outside the wind 
flays trees, warps lamp-posts, drags bins 
into different places. Nobody notices 
that the girl sitting alone by the window
has vanished. She must have folded herself 
smaller and smaller until there was 
nowhere left to go: a song repeating to fade.


Tess Jolly: Possible Causes

Julie’s Dad walked into the sea
when she was seven and didn’t come back 
so Julie waits all night on the dream-shore 
for the speck she thinks might still 
appear on the horizon. In the morning 
she angrily splatters her breakfast 
with the condiments he forbade 
and counts between every mouthful.

Lucy’s mother scolded from an early age
how fat you look when you stand like that
how difficult can it be to hold your tummy in 
and how many slices of that cake 
have you eaten exactly? When Lucy 
developed breasts she was compared 
to her younger brother and shamed 
by adult eyes – why couldn’t she be that lean?

Harvey finds his mother sobbing 
every time he visits. He’s seen her cry 
so often he’s developed a phobia of water 
and swallowed enough laxatives to squeeze 
his body like a sponge: he wants to be dry,
to be desiccate, the sediment left
when a pool evaporates and never, 
ever run the risk of overflowing. 

One leg curled around the other, arms 
folded to make yourself very small,
you apologise again for not having a reason.

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***

Stuart Handysides: Beachy Head

Almost an embarrassment to admit coming here
(the sympathetic look – you drew back, well done)
even though I park at Birling Gap.
I stumble over shingle
slip on chalk worn smooth
like mountains on a giant relief map
observing recent rock falls
from the sheer creamy heights.

The tide is out – green weed-strewn rock
segues into brown, with perching gulls
before a tumbling café-au-lait sea
meets a thin turquoise line
that hits a grey horizon.

Above me grass and gorse,
parsimonious soil against shifting cloud
no tumbling human form.

Untroubled chat in the tea room
people come here not just for the last time
not only the condemned man
eats a hearty breakfast.

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Abegail Morley: In between lessons

If I could, I would pull your forearms from the sink,
unpink the water, unsputter the hot tap’s lick,
somehow bend back time so it’s twelve-thirty and we’ve
just come out of English and it’s lunch and someone
says they’ve got a car and we all pile in 
driving to The Prince of Wales and Simon Cox,
who is all you love, doesn’t yet exist. And in our great
non-existence, I haven’t fallen in love with Andrew Crook,
lived life from a van, hand-to-mouth on a cliff top I could 
have fallen from because my eighteen-year-old body 
carried the dull ache of a strung-up rabbit. I know
I will find the bloody sheen of your wrists in a bathroom
at the end of this poem ? I just wish in between these lines
a bit of your life lived, if only for a moment.


Abegail Morley: Grief: Stage 5

I give my wrist because it is the thinnest thing I own,
because sometimes, most times, bones are all we can give.
Sometimes, in circumstances like these, hallucinations
are so clear I swear it is today, or maybe yesterday they happened
in full colour. Piccadilly’s lights are still on full blast, the whole
of Blackpool’s illuminations firing bright behind my eyes. 

Today you say that’s not it, tell me not to mourn my past 
and live in the present. I wade through it knee-deep, 
travel in slow motion. I call back to you
to tell me where to tread, how hard, how soft, but still
my feet rot in the wrong soil, fibrous. In my wilderness
I occasionally look up, as if afraid of sunlight.


Abegail Morley: Fire ants

And they don’t die, they just keep spooling
like breath and even when the path is swept free 
of soil they still pool in damp patches. You instruct me 
to stamp on them, and not to think so much,
but I watch the rivulets pour, their rapid-cool bodies
like endless traffic serpentining cracks, bridging gaps
in the earth until next door’s dog starts howling as it never
has before and I know that something terrible
has happened over the fence. People are dropping
glasses, cutlery, running across the lawn, and paper plates
fall soundlessly, as if to blend in with the grass and sky 
that have waited quietly all day and remain unsurprised 
when the woman, next door, does what she did. 

And earlier when we were clearing the patio, you hosed 
me down as a joke, and the water spewed over the wisteria
and the woman next door shouted because they had
tablecloths laid out and a little awning, and you showed
me scribbles in your notebook, mocked “her next door”,
ran your fingers across a smeared page of words,
said, Things can be lost for ever. Then shrugged
as if it didn’t really matter. We are playing that game
you do with a hose, when each spurt of water held back
by the thumb is a word you’d like to say, or a curse,
and you’re aiming at next door’s fence, covering and 
uncovering the hose with your thumb and I’m laughing
because it sounds like Morse Code, and I am laughing
because I am deciphering its meaning and you’re falling
backwards into the magnolia bush, as if in slow motion,
and the hose is unfurling into a magnificent plume
and the woman next door is shouting.
 
But all we want to do is sort out the ants. Last year a trail
of them made their way inside the house, ran around the
edges of the carpet right past the TV, so today we’re here,

sentries at our posts, kettle in my hand, brush in yours.
And I am still holding it, when everyone next door has
dropped everything they are holding, and they’re running
to the patio doors and something is happening, and then
there is shrieking, and you’re poking me in the ribs
and I let the kettle fall, don’t hear it crash on the patio,
don’t feel the lick of boiling water on my legs, don’t
know they can run that fast to the front door, to
next door. When I hold her I know she’s already dead,
and I watch an ant crawl across my shoulder, down
my arm, and I hang on to her because she once told me,
just after we moved in,
that she’d rather die alone, and now a whole colony 
of relatives are picking their way through the doors
and I can’t keep them back.

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Carla Scarano: Ants
 
One summer, after digging deep in the rear garden
to pave it,
ants climbed up our French window
poking into the living room.
Did we turn their lives upside down?

At first they proceeded in scattered grouping
then ordered queues.
We sealed the French window with silicon,
washed the floor with bleach,
sprayed vinegar and water,
added essential oils, lemon juice, baking soda,
as prescribed.
They came back every night,
every day, a relentless army of black things,
silent invaders,
reclaiming our space.
They reached the kitchen in due time,
found their way to the shelves and cupboards,
biscuit boxes, sugar jar, flour bags;
the tiniest food remains, crumbs
or juicy drops attracted hundreds.
Growing in confidence
they settled under the floor boards.

We gave up,
bought a bottle of ant killer powder –
fast and effective
lasting up to three months –
sprinkled it around their paths.

They disappeared in a day, of course,
their insignificant bodies dissolving under our feet. 

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Stuart Pickford: How to Make a Parachute
  
Picture the path down to the river;
the effort’s not his own, free-falling
through umbrellas of thistledown that toy
 
with ideas of ease. A finch opens
a wing, says pick a card, any card
but sun’s translating the Norse for Nidd
 
into shining waters. The thread of the run
loops Horse-Shoe Field where he imagines
the abandoned zoo, the baby elephant
 
showering its head under Yorkshire skies,
zebras behind their own bars. He jogs
the waterfront with its streamers of silk
 
at the weir, past the Claro laundry,
where rows of war-time women
in monochrome sewed star parachutes
 
that held up flares to examine the night.
A patch of apple trees seems tacked
to a wedge of crumbly castle ruins
 
stitched into a panel of viaduct pillars—
as—just then—a train sails across the sky
and the day bursts into its full canopy.

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***

Brian Docherty: On A Clear Day
(After Maureen Gallace, Sandy Road, 2003)

This is not a road, it is a destination.
Nobody knows, not even us or the IRS,
how we got here, what we did to get here.

Is this an endless highway, or a coda to 
the Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion?
You tell me & if I believe you, I’ll marry you. 

Oh, you’re not . . . not what? I don’t care if you’re
Other, Whatever, we are all Resident Aliens here, 
why do you think the houses here lie at odd angles? 

Did you notice a white picket fence anywhere?
Don’t be shy, you’ll get to know us all real soon,
appreciate our quirks, learn Love Thy Neighbour. 

Oh, we used up all those Bibles years ago,
and any other reading material we could find,
it’s all good, all goes into our daily exchanges.

We talk with each other all the time, on the porch,
in the Supermarket, after dinner, we have a radio
station, but we have no TV or radio out here.

Oh sure, laptops, tablet, they’re not illegal,
neither are most other things you can persuade
to work, and someone might have spares.

If you join us, bring some stuff we might need,
or haven’t seen in a while, be ready to barter, 
and learn to love having folks round for meals.

So, are we friends forever? I truly hope so,
these mountains behind you are 40 miles away,
first snowfall might be sooner than you think.  


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***

Bethany W Pope: Date Night Part 1: The Best Parents

Last night, we were eating aubergines, 
sautéed with chilis and ground pork. 
It's a famous dish, in Nanchang, and Matthew
is becoming adept with his chopsticks.
The waitress brought another kettle 
of hot water, for our health, and her haircut,
age and manner must have reminded him
of his mother. He said, 'I just thought about 
when Emma and Darren announced that they
were having Seb. They bought my parents
that card. The one with the ducks on it. 
It had that cheesy line about how
the best parents are rewarded by being
promoted to grandparents. I think
about that card all the time.’ I feel 
a colic-twist in my intestines
every time this subject comes up. I asked him,
again, if he's sure he doesn't mind. 
There was chili smoke burning up my eyes.
Matthew shook his head, removed a slice 
of pepper from my plate with delicate
precision. He said, 'No. It's your body,
your mind, and I'd rather have the real you
than hypothetical children, but
I am seriously considering 
buying a copy of that card my sister got
and mailing it to your parents.’ For a dish
prepared with so many spices, the aubergines
are surprisingly sweet. I said, to Matthew,
'Good luck finding one of those in China.’
The sauce left in the bowl, after the meal 
was greasy, spicy; floating with a few ghost seeds.


Bethany W Pope: Date Night, Part 2: In the Eye

The second-tallest Ferris Wheel in the world
is right here in Nanchang. To get there,
you have to travel for an hour via
underground (so new that it still smells 
of fresh-poured plastic) and then walk past
two miles of construction sites. They built
it far-out, by the naked red edge
of the green-watered river to make room
for the ripples of expansion. The city
is growing, swelling like the porous trunk
of a tree. Soon, the round eye of the wheel
will be the centre, not the edge. We walked
through the permanent funfair, dodging
children who darted past, then doubled back
to stare at my skin and laugh at Matthew's
great blonde shrub of a beard. Matthew asked me
what we should do to buy the tickets.
I had never been here before, either. 
I did what comes naturally, to me, 
in such circumstances. I stood back
and watched. I followed the motions of the crowd
as they moved from ticket booth (hidden,
discreetly, behind a screen) to the entrance
of the ride which gaped behind a cage
of metal detectors on the other side
of the park. I watched the customers.
I noted what they said, and what they showed
the security guards who stood on the platform,
armed, but smiling as they filed past. Matthew
told me, when we were in the air, after
a smooth transition, that he couldn't manage
what I do. He’d just try to blunder through
from the beginning. I pointed out
that his method would take twice as long,
more with the language barrier. As we climbed,
as I resisted the urge to risk 
his propensity for motion sickness
by rocking the gondola, Matthew said,
'You do that a lot, you know. You watch
what everyone around you is doing
and then you monkey after them. You can't
blend in. You never manage it. But you get
whatever it is that you're after.’ He looked 
away from me, then, as he does whenever
he's about to ask me something important.
The blue lights of the city danced on his face,
pooled in the heavy sockets of his eyes,
'Is it because you grew up with your father?’
I slid off of the bench, rested my chin 
on the metal where my ass had been
and watched the moon flicker in the river.
'When the rules change every day, it's dangerous
not to pause and read the weather.’ There was
about a foot and a half of blind space
between the seats and the floor, room enough
to drag Matthew down with me and sway
our carriage without being caught. A ride
on the second highest Ferris Wheel 
in the world lasts the better part of an hour.
I am prone to taking advantage of silence.

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***

Arthur Russell: Hulk Tee-Shirt
 
I had that happen with an old girlfriend,
at a party we both wound up at, in the doorway to the kitchen
in this person’s house we neither of us knew very well,
where I went in for a cheek kiss, and her lips half pivoted,
and we met corner lip to corner lip.  I think lips have fingerprints,
 
and the other person’s lips are lip readers, like fingerprint readers,
so, when two lips touch, one reads the other,
inner elevator doors slide open, and libraries shoot the gap;
a leaning on a light-switch kiss. We would have to move 
 
even if it was only a few feet towards the bathroom,
because another kiss was coming, and that one
involved our hands on the back of each other’s heads,
ear touching, nose breathing, time travel, a knee
 
becoming wedged between thighs amid the silly framed photos
that some people insist on mounting the whole length of their hallways, 
why? because they’ve seen this overstuffed style of decoration in some
English country-house magazine but they don’t have a country house, so,
 
I was staring at a kid in a red and blue striped jersey decorated
with an embroidered canoe, and after that, we went back to the party
and didn’t hang out.  Five whole days, I didn’t want anything:
food, sex, argument, money, sleep, nothing, from one kiss
 
in the hallway of a Sackett Street apartment,
in the brownstone of people I barely knew. 
I didn’t want to see her, but I left the tee shirt I’d been wearing --
black, with a picture of The Hulk lunging forward behind a fist --
 
hanging on the doorknob of my bedroom, charged 
with the calmness of waters smoothed by a big boat passing,
and nothing more was needed until the waves broke back,
and even though I’d left it hanging there for weeks,
 
I did finally wash it; but I wouldn’t wear it anymore,
so, it kept sinking further down
into the stack of tee shirts in my tee-shirt drawer,
until it reached the bottom.


Arthur Russell: Faces
 
He was the brother to whom it fell
to sell his parents’ house, travelling down
to Charlottesville all those years, to visit
both, then one of them, then just the house.
 
In the room where he’d read books as a child,
other than the oxygen tank beside the recliner
that replaced the wing chair he had loved,
little had changed: dried hydrangeas,
brocade drapes, an oil painting of
a clipper ship lunging through the sea.
 
There were secret faces in the abstract pattern
of the wallpaper.  He’d recognized them
first at seven, like the moon behind
a scrim of trees, and after pretending
to ignore them, peeked again, and saw
a whole tribe of faces around the room,
with crayon jaws and heavy eyes,
most obscured, in part, by drapes or chairs;
 
but the one above the radiator,
like an Easter Island moai, was chief
of the faces, the one with whom he’d parlayed
and made peace, and acknowledged, as men do,
nodding subtly when he passed through the room;
the one who held his gaze to dam his tears
when his parents fought; held him to account
when he lied or acted mean to girls;
 
and understood him well enough to help
him draft, as he turned 18, the articles
by which he left home for the world.

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***

Nicholas Lyon Gresson: Departure 

What have we left behind?
The pathway steps to the letterbox
the rubbish bins crammed with Xmas debris
those discarded books in the shed.

By the wall a red flower pot cracked by time
that roof drip by the gardenia we skirt
the jammed window in the bathroom
the hostile nail heads in the deck.
 
No Ferrari sitting idle in the garage
but the broom is there.

And from the trees to the deck
the birds will dive in flight
their birdbath waiting for the next rain. 

We have left our valley in a quiet time
anecdotes hold warmth for a while
the neighbours will miss us or not
and the tide will wash in and out across the mangrove flats.

A new year begins
cloud shadows loiter 
bold promises will wait a while
old laughter leans on the skies
and tireless bees will find the next flower.
	

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***

Robert Nisbet: Private Crabtree’s Shed
 
The summer we were two and three years old,
the Nazi force surrendered, the cataclysm ended.
And so many local boys returned. They’d been
bombed, torpedoed, shot at, spat on, shat on,
and we knew little of that. At eight and nine,
we had Palace Cinema heroes, cleft-chinned men
with dialogue of Jerry, chaps, old man, good show,
while our Pembrokeshire barber, Normandy hero,
gossiped at length about the local football club.
The boy from two doors up had twice survived
Atlantic convoys. We knew him as Don’s brother.
 
So that was the war, postwar, in Merlin’s Lane.
But as we ferried to the woods in small boy ranks
we passed and derided Mrs. Crabtree’s shed,
tumbling into bramble and growth and disrepair.
We didn’t realise till adulthood, didn’t connect
the facts of the widow and the unfinished shed.
The rest of the house was neat, and Mrs. Crabtree
went to whist and the W.I., but she left the shed
as it was, shaped now by rain and hedgelife’s order.
 
By the time an inheriting nephew pulled it down,
the shed had become our icon, the embedded frame
of Private Crabtree’s pre-war plans of home
memorialised by the mass of moss and honeysuckle,   
and the ash tree growing and splitting wide the roof.
 

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***

Malcolm Carson: Edgar and his chronicler

Who are you who places me 
in such odd circumstance,
in times incongruous to mine,
allows me to speak in language
I couldn’t know? And then you dare
to fancy how I might feel 
in time’s disjuncture,
let alone when family turns upon itself.
Still, I’ll not spin round on chance
of catching you spying behind
the transept column, or playing
wildfowler on Solway’s flats,
for then would my adventures cease,
and I’d be folded back 
into the pages of a play,
my story just that of a grieving son,
a brother wronged, who, 
though still victorious, 
is just another in 
a dramatis personae. Much better 
to let you do as you will, 
though the time may come 
when I’ll chide you 
for too much liberty.
So, be careful how you tread, 
whoever you are. 

The Edgar of this and the other poems in my sequence is, of course, the much-maligned half-brother 
of Edmund in King Lear. In this case he questions the person who has been following him from his first 
appearance bait digging on Cleethorpes beach to most recently expressing his disdain for the political 
class. He ranges through time and place, so I never can be sure where he might appear.

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***

John-Christopher Johnson: Involved

I held a chisel when Michelangelo
prevaricated for one moment. Dipped
a quill in ink guiding Shakespeare's hand
whilst he was suffering from shingles.
I inadvertently smudged a cloudscape
in one of Turner's paintings due
to my own clumsiness. I stupidly fiddled
with a violin as Mozart frowned made me feel
like a pariah- something expelled and forgotten.
I completed the last sentence
of Tolstoy's War and Peace'; a lapse
in concentration, he stumbled for words.
I stared at Alexander Fleming from head to toe
as he spluttered over a bacillus –
his expression contained a greenish hue.
Einstein thought I was crazy when
I stated E= mc2 was baby arithmetic.
I disagreed with Galileo (on purpose)
emphasizing that the sun rotated round the earth. 
Suggested to Charles Darwin apes
were descended from trilobites. His jaws
clenched like a man being electrocuted.
Leonardo da Vinci almost spat at me
when I said 'The Last Supper'
would look better painted in acrylics.
I advised Isaac Newton to think again.
Joked with Michael  Faraday about
how each of us was living in the dark.
I fenced with Goethe stabbing Faust
in the heart until both of them bled
crimson tears of despair. I held a sponge
to  Christ's lips as his final gasps echoed
in the hills and fields surrounding Jerusalem.   


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***

Peter Daltrey: Saints

Your saints remember you
Your palatial heart
And all those rooms you never used
Where no music thrived
Where the soft wing brush of melody died

Your saints remember you
All the trees that lined your parade
Tended by your fallow hands
Felled by clowns
All the false comedic thrills that brought them down

Your saints remember you
Your Picasso sense of dress
The colour-field of your studio walls
The broken threads
The landscape contours of your much abused bed

Your saints remember you
The wine and wafers
The kneeling at roadside dives and dens
The bright gold leaf
The precious veneer on your self portrait of love and grief

Your saints remember you
The clock face that always lied
The timed delay of your dishonesty
Rooms of dust
The years it took to erode my trust

Your saints remember you
All that bonhomie
Your Riviera flight and spin
Your deceitful dance
The way you cocked your head at circumstance

Your saints remember you
The wealth and the disease
The contracts you signed in haste
The black and the blue
Never forget: Your saints remember you

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***

Edmund Prestwich: Gethsemane
After “Christ in Gethsemane”, in the Tres Riches Heures du duc de Berry, painted 1412 - 1416

Light and sudden as a dream, he stands
in blue-grey night, under thronging stars.
For all the halo round his head
his face is dark with sorrow, looking down	
with infinite compassion. Men
sprawl round his feet armoured like the dead
at Agincourt. Torches burn in their hands 
forgotten on the ground, their eyes 
are all shut tight. These men	
have come to take and kill him if they can;
yet there’s no violence in the lovely scene:	
a night of stars, a hill, dim sleepers;
and him, his halo brightening like dawn;	
as if the dead could dream their redeemer.

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***

Noel Williams: The cave

Only when I cracked the paracetamol
in two, to press a fragment of relief
against your crumbling lip
did I discover something like forgiveness.
Like a child with Scarlet Fever,
the curtains all but shut
I brushed the web of hair from your forehead.
Looking up you wanted to discover
any familiar thing in me to thank.
Instead you found fear, a shadow of what-was
flickering like the vanguard of what-might-come.
Touching the wax of your forehead
put gentle horror in my fingertips. Some stranger
lives in you, like a creature who has never
shown herself, now crouching in the cave
bewildered by herself.


Noel Williams: Lifeblood

Once a West Indian brickie picked me up
on the Madingley Road in a rusted Austin A35.
Hold the door shut, lad, it sometimes flies open.
and don’t mind the glimpse of road
between your feet. I’ll buy a mat to cover that
first chance I get. He was between jobs
since the problem with his heart
but life goes on and surely you mustn’t grumble.

When I told him where I headed
in young despair to see my life’s love,
flouting the college, absurdly given up to
that December night, he detoured
thirty miles to bring me close. 
His life once depended from a woman
like dew on a thread of web. Even her pain
he’d cherished, trying to draw it
from her veins to his while she’d lived.

When he dropped me on the ring road
and I watched the single tail light
rattle into dawn, at once I lost his name,
running through the hinterland of woods
to wake my lover, to wake the day.

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***

Charles D Tarlton: Ekphrastic Tanka Prose on, The Bridge by Egon Schiele



















1913, oil on canvas, 89.7 x 90.5 cm., private collection.

.                                                                         1

Human reason, in one sphere of its cognition, is called upon to consider questions, which it 
cannot decline, as they are presented by its own nature, but which it cannot answer, as they 
transcend every faculty of the mind.   – Immanuel Kant

She was so beautiful; how could he not love her? She sat across the table, looking 
down into her tea, and said nothing.  He was afraid to talk, but the moment called for 
him to say something. “I love you,” he said, suddenly, but she knew no English.  He 
reached across the table and took hold of her hand. “No! no!  Yo no puedo. Soy 
casado,” she said.

they put up a bridge
where the river ran between
the Mexican town
of Ojinaga and Presidio
Texas. People come and go

on the Mexican
side they speak Spanish quickly
on the Texas side
there’s the hint of a drawl
a little bit of y’all

but that’s what a bridge
does, create the illusion
of synthesis
we cross over and come back
a river runs between us

.                                                                            2

This I say is the present moment; this is the first day of the summer holidays. This is part of 
the emerging monster to whom we are attached.   - Virginia Woolf

If they were alive, and they were all agreed they were, why wasn’t that enough, why
did they have to push and probe, asking all the time what being alive meant?  No one
remembers coming into the world, but they do remember when the others did, when
children were born, for example.  No one knows nothing of dying, but they have all
seen others die, seen the erasure in that. All we know for sure is that we are here
now, we know the moment of being here.  Remember the old man who always
dreamed about running, but had no legs?

the answer to
the question of life might be
found on the other
side.  But first we have to cross
over; but then who would we tell?

bridges in the mind
lead you to something better
but  you climb into
the beams and trusses and find
so much is unsupported

we are all hoping
for a bridge, for the road not
to end in mid air
were you never, sometimes, most
of the time, or always fair?

.                                                                        3

The very thing that makes you rich makes me poor...  — Ry Cooder
 
The young Egon Schiele erased the houses and boulevards that could actually be seen
on the opposite shore and replaced them with this row of stark telegraph poles
leading into the barren hills.  He made this a bridge to nowhere in particular, and
then added the prow of an antique fluvial barge just coming into view in the muddy
river. This is the old wooden bridge the locals nicknamed Kecskemebad, the “goat-
legged” bridge  that joined Belváros, the touristic “old town” section of Györ, and
Révfalut, a more fashionable district. But this is just the ghost of that actual bridge, a
bridge long since destroyed, a bridge no one crosses any more. 
 
when a bridge comes down
then the distant shore marches
away, familiar
landmarks lose their consequence
we turn back nonchalantly

then we lust to cross
whatever river stands between
us and the distant
shore, the trees all bedazzled
we imagine golden trees
 
it’s in the essence
of a bridge that it connects
separated things
but, still, you can only ever 
be in one place at a time

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***

Katherine Gallagher: Sky-dancer

a clear lolly moon
keeping counsel
over our road

she sashays slowly 
focusing the sky
tide-maker 

heavenly waltzer
serene
in the moment

with no pirouettes
tango
no cake-walk 

she’s an old face
at home
in her skin 

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***

Angela France: Blind

I would see in the dark if I could
  channel stone-light through my feet
   granite’s smoky glow 
          the changing shades of sandstone
  but the roads and carparks weep
                      fake rainbows to block pores
       and baffle sound
The trees know there is still light
they can draw through vein and branch
           which strengthens roots to crack
		and lift paving slabs
 they talk in stone-words under earth
      to whisper of breath and survival
and they know 
                     we can’t see in the dark

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***

Rodney Wood: Francis And Mary Ipisbhe
And the last rites were essential in a time of religion in which the fear of hell and the 
purgatory were huge. People had to be collected and thrown into mass graves; ditches, 
that were filled to the top with dead bodies. www.deathblack.wordpress.com

a rescue boat sparkling on the horizon / then something went wrong
an august afternoon / the dinghy leaves Tripoli / a rescue boat sparkling on the horizon
an august afternoon / the dinghy leaves Tripoli / then something went wrong

then I no longer feel her arms round my neck / she loses herself in the lunatic sea
her braids copper over my shoulders / then I no longer feel her arms round my neck
her braids copper over my shoulders / she loses herself in the lunatic sea

a cathedral of migrants lost since 2013 / only 1 in 10 rancid bodies make the sun
where are the poems that survive past pain / a cathedral of migrants lost since 2013
where are the poems that survive past pain / only 1 in 10 rancid bodies make the sun

the government doesn’t identify the bodies / the DA is only interested in the traffickers
Francis needs to wake Mary with a cup of tea / the government doesn’t identify the bodies
Francis needs to wake Mary with a cup of tea / the DA is only interested In the traffickers

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/03/migrant-love-story-voyage-sicily-ended-in-tragedy-drowned-grave

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***

Ricky Garni: The Pounding Resumé

BOOM BOOM BOOM goes the music to that TV show.
And the hefty detective, a real boozer, gives chase
to the small-time mafioso with the rug. 

The rug is upon his head. The detective does not fail
to mention that as he pounds him in a ceremonious fashion
not once, nor twice, but thrice with his bruisèd fists and in 
a way devoid of affection, situated in front of the old deli

Which they tore down, what, over twenty years ago
I reckon. My, but their pastrami was to die for. Their
egg creams – a little taste of heaven. Forgive me for this aside: 

I am a sentimental old fool and I miss this melody of sweetness.
Permit me to digress and hold onto a deli gone by, if only 
for a moment – and then, please, let the pounding resume.

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***

Thomas Calder: Stature

The small policeman is always alert.
Making use of his stature
To outsmart the taller ones.
“Something for everyone”
He is known to say, of an evening
At after work drinks.
Only,
The words come from too far down
To reach anyone.
They mistake him
For a sad man.
Must be,
At a height like that.
But
They are half the man
He is,
And he is at least twice
The half man, he appears.
He picks up the laughs
That fall on the ground,
And tries again.

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***

Frances Lombardi-Grahl: Where Are the Grownups Now?

Not him with the spiked yellow hair and nose ring
who automatically discounts my movie ticket
rather than ask for my ID.

Or that new doctor
who writes me a prescription
without having touched my body,
assuming (though correctly) that I’m only here for the pills.

When my dental hygienist tells me
she picks the bubble gum flavor
each time she has a cleaning,
I feel that the era of grownups has come to an end.

What has become of those stately, bespectacled figures
who we used to look up to with awe?
The less they said, the more we believed they knew,
grownups who wore their roles from head to toe
and never mistook us for equals.

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***

Angela Kirby: Ten Things I Knew When I Was Young

Jesus , Our Lady and my Guardian Angel loved me.
Mr Churchill and the Home Guard would save me. 
My four brothers might not come home 
My friends Amos and Enoch drowned in the mill pool
Cuts between finger and thumb can cause lockjaw.
Standing by open manholes could give me typhoid.
Bilberries will make the best Summer Pudding.
Horlicks at bedtime cures Night Starvation.
If I prayed hard enough the bombs might miss me.
Denis Owen the fisherman was absolutely perfect.

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***

Thomas Ovans:  Leaving Europe

I don’t know why I took the middle lane but when I did so I got caught behind a lorry at a red light and that
was when they started putting  cones across the road I'd planned to take and then I had to make a U-turn, find
another way of getting  out of  Paris – which meant  escaping from this grubby arrondissement and its bleak
grey  streets which kept on ending up in car parks till I met two English girls with DPhils earned in Sussex and 
got directions from them while I let my phone ring unreplied-to in my brief case.

My problem now was that I had been hired as an assassin and, since my plans had all been changed, I’d
have to  catch my victim/client at his hotel near the ferry port and in  the middle of his  farewell party;
but I rapidly  decided I  would stab  him through the window  curtains from the balcony  and afterwards
escape by simply walking calmly through the room -- a harmless stranger among guests – which I’d surely
get away with since no one ever really knows who’ll turn up at a leaving do.  Well, do they?


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***

R G Jodah: The Army Song
(or Reassurance and Comfort)

It's a ploy of pure genius, none thought this could happen.
Now listen to the cheers, from the Army of Gammon.
Aroused, they are chanting: "Be silent, deniers!"
On their march from the provinces, boroughs and shires.
From the counties, the hundreds, the ridings, the coasts,
from the Fens to the Levels – a Bellicose Host.

Their full forms dilating, their wide eyes a-glisten,
their small, swollen hearts and round, burning bosoms.
All choler and colour, indignant, demanding,
they've grown most impatient, they're lumbering, chuntering:
"Right there, it's so close, it's almost in reach,
it's our crowning achievement. Lads 'unto the breach'!''

It's a ploy
of rare genius,
none thought it could happen,
but listen
to the cheers
from the Army of Gammon.

Good Old Master Minford, our craftsman of choice,
he can make what we need, a strong platform.  Rejoice!
With those red, white and blue prints, their dot-dotted lines,
who is there who won't wonder at this, so sublime?
So we work day and night, though our sinews may burst,
we'll be finished by Christmas – (end of March at the worst).

We shall stockpile and pile stock, amass, heap, collect
us a canned cornucopia, we hoard, stack, erect.
Every one shall be processed, tinned, brined or sealed,
durable, buildable, cured or congealed:
that we might come together to molehill a mountain,
to out ben Ben Nevis.  A Stairway to Heaven

's a ploy,
one of genius,
none thought it could happen,
come listen
to the cheers
from the Army of Gammon.

Hike the pot-noodle foothills, the scree of sardines,
past the slabs of fish-fingers, the bollards of Brie,
up the arête of spaghetti, the grated cheese fields,
to that big wall of Walls with its flash frozen meals.
You may merkel a hamper if you find you are famished,
by the buttress of butter, have an M&S sandwich.
Fulfilled, don't remain, pick a route, choose a line
find a spur in the crowds, shouting, "climb Gammon, climb!"

It's a ploy,
one of genius,
none thought it could happen,
just listen
to the cheers
from the Army of Gammon.

It's our elevated access, this exalted peak.
See us rise, how we'll thrive, with our hi-tech techniques.
take the upside, no downsides, just make the ascent,
blaze a trail, all may follow, our noble intent!
Yet the question persists, can you answer it true,
are you willing or wanting? – 'Does this country need you?'

Right then, gird up your loins, you be lions my lambs,
belay not delay, scale the Summit of Spam!
There at last, d'you see it?  Yes you do!  Make it known,
it's the bright sunlit uplands, where the unicorns roam.
What a ploy, what a genius, none thought it would happen,
now listen to the cheers - Cheers!  Cheers! - from the Army of Gammon.

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***

Utsav Kaushik: Paper rolling

I feel perplexed, bewildered, flabbergasted, ironically,
When the quotidian Express is delivered without Prime;
No concerns regarding getting things done on time.
Well, what time is it?
Eight o’clock already, look what the Chef did,
He’s sliced onions before now, though we’re yet away
And I have no intention of eating without the paper
Carrying all the spices that my mind needs to digest the whole day
As well as those essential calories that happen to burn while reading “2+2”.
In the meantime, Mattis and Pompeo would add virgin oil to my salad.
O phew! The Smell, unsavoury, obnoxious, disgusting like crude oil.
O hell no! Not from a chary Sheikh living in the deserts, a Mussulman. No Sir!
Our Chef doesn’t like my doing business with such people. To tell you frankly,
I can’t even afford the Chef’s company. But the doctor says:
To remove the friction out of your living, bear a smiling face
And do not refuse the Chef if he sprinkles a little strategy on to your plate.
We can’t muddle through this kinship you know! But we need to stay in the town
And then there’s our community. What face do you think we could make
By refusing to dine in his restaurant; definitely a Chinese or Russian made.
So much for friendship, so much for onions. They bring tears to my eyes,
So does the “Masala” and this Indian rupee note rolling out of my pocket.
Somebody catch it! My notes are rolling away, fallen by mischance out of my pocket
Flown by the strong wind of the table fan standing next to me.  These little commitments,
To customer-oriented services; a drop of sweat rolling down my forehead.
In anticipation, smiling like a full-blown devil, the Chef said: U.S made.    


Notes
This poem refers to The Indian Express newspaper the Amazon Prime delivery company,
the US Defence Secretary James Mattis and the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“2+2” refers to a meeting between ministers from different countries
Masala bonds are issued outside India but denominated in Rupees, not the local currency.

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Helen Burke has written poetry for 45 years, widley published all her three main collections with Valley Press and with www.krazyphils.co.uk. She writes children’s books, is a visual artist and hosts a poetry and music radio show for East Leeds fm radio

Hatty Calbus has had poems in “the usual poetry magazines” and also in The Morning Star and The Tablet.  She lives in West London and also does some writing for the Church press.

Thomas Calder is a young creative from Australia, with a career in songwriting under the moniker “Daggy Man” and a background in film-making.

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 Takah?, 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.

Malcolm Carson was born in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire. He moved to Belfast withhis family before returning to Lincolnshire, becoming an auctioneer and then a farm labourer. He studied English at Nottingham University, and then taught in colleges and universities. He now lives in Carlisle, Cumbria. He has had three full collections published by Shoestring Press: Breccia (2006), Rangi Changi and other poems (2011), and Route Choice (2016), as well as a pamphlet, Cleethorpes Comes to Paris (2014). A fourth collection is due out in 2019

Claire Crowther has published four pamphlets and three poetry collections with Shearsman. The first, Stretch of Closures, was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh Prize. Her latest collection is On Narrowness. She is co-editor of Long Poem Magazine

Peter Daltrey was born in Bow, but now live in Wiltshire. He has been writing all his life. He is a musician and songwriter.  He won fourth prize in the Eileen Berry Poetry Awards at the Winchester Poetry Festival and first prize in an over-eighteen section of a national poetry competition run by Oxfam with over eight hundred entries. He has had several poems and prose pieces published in the little magazines.

Brian Docherty lives in East sussex as part of a growing community of writers,  artists and musicians. He has published six books, most recently In My Dreams, Again    (Penniless Press, 2017) and Only in St. Leonards:A Year on the Marina (Special Sorts Press, 2017).

Angela France’s publications include ‘Occupation’ (2009), ‘Lessons in Mallemaroking’ (2011) and ‘Hide’ (2013). Her latest collection, The Hill came out in July 2017 with Nine Arches Press. Angela teaches creative writing at the University of Gloucestershire and in various community settings. She runs a reading series in Cheltenham, ‘Buzzwords’.

Mary Franklin has had poetry published in numerous print and online magazines and anthologies including Ink Sweat and Tears, Iota, London Grip, Message in a Bottle, The Open Mouse and Three Drops from a Cauldron.  Born in Canada, her adult life has been divided between London, Birmingham, Calgary and Vancouver, where she currently lives.

Maggie Freeman’s poems have been published in Stand and Acumen. Her historical novel Daughter of the Sea  is due to be republished by Sapere Books this November. She lives in East London.

Katherine Gallagher is an Australian-born North London poet. Her 6 th full collection, Acres of Light. (Arc Publications, 2016) follows her Carnival Edge: New & Selected Poems (Arc, 2010). Candlestick Press recently commissioned a Christmas Lights poem for their 2018 Christmas publication.www.katherine-gallagher.com

Ricky Garni grew up in Florida and Maine, was educated at Exeter and Duke, and has lived off and on in the Triangle since 1977. Over the years he has worked as a teacher, wine merchant, studio musician, composer and graphic designer. He began writing poetry in 1978, and has produced over forty volumes of prose and poetry since 1995. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize on seven occasions.

Nicholas Lyon Gresson QSM was born in 1939 in Christchurch, New Zealand, into one of New Zealand’s foremost legal families. He has produced four books of poetry, A Life In Poetry 2011, Walking With Time 2013, A Gathering 2015, The Writing Point 2018, all published by Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne. As well, he has recently completed a large auto-ethnographic saga, On Family Ground traversing the lives of five generations of the Gresson family in Ireland and New Zealand—and notably the four Supreme Court Judges in his family. His QSM awarded in 1999 by Queen Elizabeth II was for his work with the police against illegal drugs and his community work in mental health.

Stuart Handysides’ poems have appeared in PresenceLondon Grip New Poetry, Pennine Platform and South. He has run the Ware Poets competition for several years.

Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. She graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in 2017. She believes everyone’s voices counts

R.G. Jodah lives in London, enjoying metropolitan anonymity. Most recently: The Lampeter Review, Typishly, Dream Catcher, Southlight, LightenUp Online, London Grip. jodah@3rdrock.co.uk

John-Christopher Johnson’s poems have appeared in Agenda, The North, Orbis, Other Poetry, The Interpreter’s House, Iota, and shortly in ‘ The Journal’ and many other poetry magazines over the years. He is also writing a novel at the moment which he is about a third way through.

Tess Jolly has been widely published in UK magazines and commended or placed in several competitions, including the Mslexia Women’s Poetry Competition and the Stanza Poetry Competition. She has won the Hamish Canham Prize and the Anne Born Prize, both run by the Poetry Society, and has published two pamphlets: Touchpapers with Eyewear and Thus the Blue Hour Comes with Indigo Dreams.

Utsav Kaushik’s voice is deep set in the grey shades of North India. His poetry boldly speaks for those voices that have been silenced,. His poems have been published in London Grip, The Paragon Journal, The Anapest, Indian Review, Hawaii Review, Ashvamegh, The Literary Flight, Ink Sweat & Tears, Indian Ruminations, Linden Avenue Literary, etc.

Angela Kirby was born in rural Lancashire, has also lived in France and spend time in Spain and the USA.  She now lives in London.  Her widely published poems have been translated into Romanian and won several prizes and commendations including BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year twice. Her 5th collection comes out in 2019

Frances Lombardi-Grahl is a member of the Red Wheelbarrow Poets in Rutherford, New Jersey.  She has published in several Red Wheelbarrow anthologies, as well as in the publications Lips, The Paterson Review, and Italian Americana.

Abegail Morley’s most recent collection is The Skin Diary (Nine Arches). Her debut was shortlisted for the Forward Prize. She was “One of the Five British Poets to Watch in 2017” (Huffington Post), edits The Poetry Shed and is co-editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press.

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet whose work has been published in roughly equal measures in Britain and the USA, in the latter case quite regularly in San Pedro River Review, Red River Review and Panoply, which made him one of its Featured Poets in their Fall 2017 issue.

James Norcliffe has published nine collections of poetry including Shadow Play 2013 and Dark Days at the Oxygen Café 2016. Recent work has appeared in Acumen, Landfall, SpillwayThe Cincinnati Review, Salamander, and Flash Fiction International (Norton, 2015) . In 2010 he took part in the XX International Poetry Festival in Medellin, Colombia and in 2011 the Trois Rivieres International Poetry Festival in Quebec.  He was a guest poet at the Crypt, St Mary’s Islington, in 2017.

Keith Nunes lives in tiny Pahiatua, New Zealand. He won the 2017 Flash Frontier Short Fiction Writing Award and has been published around the globe. His Foto-Poetry has appeared in many literary journals and his book of poetry/short fiction, “catching a ride on a paradox”, is out there.

Thomas Ovans is Irish and came to London in the mid 1990s.  He has been a serious reader of poetry for many years and is now a regular reviewer for London Grip. He sometimes publishes poems of his own.

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.

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘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 has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016.

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.

Arthur Russell lives in Nutley, New Jersey.  His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Wilderness House Literary Review, American Journal of Poetry, Yellow Chair Review, Red Wheelbarrow #9, #10 and #11 and many other publications.

Carla Scarano D’Antonio obtained her MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. She self-published a poetry pamphlet, A Winding Road, 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/

Charles D. Tarlton is a retired university professor who has been writing poetry since 2006.  A collection of his ekphrastic prosimetra, Touching Fire, will appear from Kyso Flash Books in 2019.

Noel Williams is the author of Out of Breath (Cinnamon, 2014) and Point Me at the Stars (Indigo Dreams, 2017). He’s published quite widely. He’s co-editor of Antiphon (antiphon.org.uk), Associate Editor for Orbis (www.orbisjournal.com), reviewer for The North and Envoi and an occasional writing mentor.  Blog: https://noelwilliams.wordpress.com

Rodney Wood published his first pamphlet, Dante Called You Beatrice (Red Ceiling Press), last year. He has been widely published in magazines and anthologies. He jointly runs an open mic at The Lightbox in Woking.