London Grip New Poetry – Spring 2019

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This issue of London Grip New Poetry features:

* Angela Kirby *Kerrin P Sharpe *Jim C Wilson *Miki Byrne *Lisa Reily *Nancy Mattson
* Joan Byrne *Rosemary Norman *M E Muir *Melanie Branton * Stuart Pickford
*Amelia Hickman *Mark Carson *Wendy Klein *D S Maolalai *Jakky Bankong-Obi *Antony Johae
*Tristan Moss * Norbert Hirschhorn * Jock Stein * Keith Nunes * Thomas Tyrrell *Teoti Jardine
* Jeri Onitskansky * E A M Harris * Christopher Georgiou *Stephen Bone *Pamela Job
*Bruce Barnes *Josh Ekroy *Ian C Smith

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 Spring 2019

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

SUBMISSIONS: please send up to THREE poems plus a brief bio to poetry@londongrip.co.uk
Poems should be in a SINGLE Word attachment or else included in the message body
Our submission windows are: December-January, March-April, June-July & September-October

Editor’s notes

We have put the EU flag at our masthead for a second time as we prepare this posting of new poetry for the first of March 2019 when we may be on the verge of Brexit. Or not. Either way, this issue includes a couple of poems which touch upon the matter which has dominated British politics for around three years.

But is it fanciful to think that quite a few of the other poems display an undercurrent of anxiety caused by (even if not explicitly attributed to) Brexit?  Probably it is fanciful – not least because many of our contributors come from outside the British Isles and may well have other matters which concern them. Furthermore the richness of the human spirit is such that we are rarely so obsessed with any one thing that we cannot divert ourselves by dwelling on something else.

Poetry gives us a lens through which to look at all aspects of this complex world – and it also provides the blank sheet of paper which, like a photographic plate, allows us to record what we see, while adjusting the framing, the focus and the depth of field. This stream-of-consciousness, off-the-cuff  metaphor has rather taken your editor by surprise. But it is nonetheless rather apt because it chimes with an interestingly varied group of camera poems which await the reader towards the end of this issue.

Michael Bartholomew-Biggs
London Grip poetry editor
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Angela Kirby: A Present from Wales

Our first holiday, we took the train to Holyhead, then
the little train. Did I dream the woman falling through that
half open window, her blood across the pane? Don’t look,
my mother said, and turned my face away into her lap.

New luggage hung over us in brown nets, above sepia
photographs of Morecambe, Rhyll, Llandudno, Colwyn Bay.
We swung along the coast on single track, the long dreamed
of sea a silver edge to our horizon, unbearably far away.

In sheltered harbourage, the evening lay calm, dinghies
and fishing boats adrift at slack tide anchorage, slap slap
amongst the gulls, a black line of bladderwrack strung out
along the shore marked tomorrow’s limit to my bravery.

That night the dying light fell through the blue check curtains
of my room, set pinpoints of light on the wall’s well charted
geography. I launched myself on a waterway of dreams,
impatient for landfall on the brink of morning.

Outside the sea sucked in its breath, then sighing breathed
again and whispering, threw itself against the land. I dipped
my hand in clear water and woke to find the day at my feet,
the sun swimming free between the white flecked shoals

of my sky high hopes and the neat starfish in mirror pools.
The week unwrapped itself before us, spilling shells, winkles,
shrimps, a lucky dip of pebbles, into our waiting pails.
I have some here on my window sill, A Present from Wales.

And still in dreams I see the woman fall, and still the blood
streams down across the glass, across the rubble and my brother’s
back where the long wounds crawl. Along the bay, seaweed
lies red upon the sand. It is not easy to throw souvenirs away.

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Kerrin P Sharpe: she falls like no-one's there

a sudden rickety step
          turns her heel
she crashes against
          a brick wall

as sudden as crows
          a curate appears
his cassock
          a novena of buttons

his biretta
          dark as a church porch
his Latin litany
          free falling
calling the old saints

and before
          the sirens
gush of gulls
          clots of rain

and before
          the undertaker lights
four angel candles
          in his South Street window

or dusts
          that willow casket
the curate
          anoints her

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Jim C Wilson: The Gospel Truth

I went to a cathedral, the other day,
to hear a requiem. How was I to know
there would be a collection? Someone 
put the velvet bag, smelling of old hymns,
into my hands and I, staring at stone,
passed it on to stranger. Should I 
have offered up some bits of silver, 
if only for appearance? I was still 
in doubt when the verger threw open 
a side door and let the cold
December wind enter the building
and my heart. But then I only
entered in to hear a requiem,
among the flickering candles.

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Miki Byrne: Before

I brush your lapels.
You stand in your dark suit.
The one you only wear 
for two occasions and duty 
sits on your shoulder. 
A clean shirt, a hardly-seen tie 
and money for the collection plate 
ready in a pocket. 
You will stand, silent, respectful. 
Keep your back straight, 
shoulders back.
Won’t allow a tear 
and will whisper The Lord’s Prayer 
with them all. 
You know the ritual, even gain 
something from it. 
I hope it is cathartic and that 
saying goodbye eases your heart.
In the depths of your quiet dignity, 
only I know you are in pain.


Miki Byrne: Man in the Entry

My neighbour: rheumy eyed, shabby, 
dustily fragrant.
Dips into my bin.
Takes paper rubbish and twists it 
through chain-link that edges 
the back entry.
Pushes each piece half-way 
to hang through the fence
like a blossoming bow tie. 
I stand intrigued, as print, cardboard, 
colour and ink grow like abstract art. 
He adds, adjusts, covers metres.
Pushes and twists with grubby 
arthritic fingers.
I think of dementia, frailties, as I watch 
the creation of this urban installation. 
Eye to a knot hole, I am uncomfortable 
in my voyeurism.
He picks and places, tears and stuffs,
obsessed and silent.
I am concerned about the cold, his age.
Wonder if I should call somebody.

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Lisa Reily: a quiet neighbour

we are disappearing;
even the leftover soap we take to spare the world
our waste,
the last trace of us erased.
sometimes we both don’t sleep on our last night,
as if we are moving for the first time,
excited holidaymakers;
but we are used to leaving, shifting,
only to start up, to make home, again.
there is something clean in carrying the same two bags, 
finding our way around a town,
the cheapest groceries, where to get a haircut;
how to say good morning in a foreign tongue,
to eat and drink a village, adopt new tastes, 
and learn to love them.
we cannot find our home—we thought we would— 
the yin and yang of staying; 
a quiet neighbour becomes a building site, 
restaurant music in May, the blare of a nightclub in August, 
the stray dog we love turns into a pack that howls, 
keeps us awake at night. 
and so we begin a new cycle of love and annoyance, 
knowing we’ll never have to settle
for any of it.

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Nancy Mattson: Woman as island

Creatures of erosion have kneaded these stones 
into loaves flat enough for her to pierce
with a hand drill, string them together
on old rope to make a wreath
for the door she’s painted with tar

Her children are spirals of reclaimed wire
their feet stuck in pebble beds
their scarves knitted with Chorda filum
bootlaces of dead men
dried by salt and wind

She feeds herself on mackerel 
smoked in a blackened hut
over shavings of scrub oak and pine
waits for the March ferry to arrive


Nancy Mattson: A wife’s lament

My bread never rises
although I knead it with fists 
and the heels of my hands
until it is round as a stone

My dishes are never clean
although I wash them 
with my underwear
and rinse them in cold water

My clothes never fit me
although I steal them 
from the overstuffed boudoir
of my husband’s mistress

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Joan Byrne: Hyacinth blues

I dismissed the children
snapped-shut the laptop 
switched off the news
silenced my lover 
and listened 

to the hyacinth 

its blueness unsheathing 
from a pot on my table

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Rosemary Norman: Striped

The artist’s t-shirt is striped
with the stripe of a child
playing on a beach or a sailor
drowning. It’s high visibility,

striped, dresses the child
to ward off the future,
drowning and high visibility
hazard. Or, something subtler,

seen to warn of the future
stripes get the blame for
hazard or something. Subtler
than good and evil, more’s

the blame on artists’ stripes
for all the doubt forbidden
in good-and-evil wars
of absolute stripe. You flags

of no doubt, forbidding
light, even, its play on colour,
your absolute over-stripe
stripes flags on artists’ t-shirts.


Rosemary Norman: Blasphemy

is the name I heard
given in conversation  –
by a Catholic
believer but no matter –
to the 1980 shooting
of Archbishop Oscar Romero
serving mass (whereas
36 years on, Fr Jacques Hamel
is “beheaded” –  clumsy job
compare Becket,
1170, disembrained).

And I want the word
rethought for the sake
of all of us to include
driving without due care, also
the dropping of gum
in the street –
who knows what angel
might find its foot adhere
at every step
to pavements cracked already,
that now  resist mending?

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M E Muir: Transformation

There's a new piazza outside South Ken tube
where the guy in a khaki hat plays sad guitar  
over the blots of bird-grey gum that stick on her tired shoes	
and carry her depression into the high arcade
as she smoothes grey hair with tentative mottled hands.

On the anarchic staircase 
she finds the comfort of a wooden handrail
fights down that crowd-dark warzone
No Entry – Rightside – Leftside – 
tries to locate her magic Freedom Pass.  	

At the automated barriers, her pockets shout stress
till the wide gate for problem seniors opens at last 
and shaky elbows push through the roundabout of crowds
the kids in line with high-viz teachers 
losing it for the dinosaurs.

But hang on tight and make the final stretch
down eight more pockmarked steps to platform one
where sudden startling daylight 
sun-scattered blitz bounces its brilliance 
over high signage to call her 
past the yellow-banded sand bins
and plane trees lined with singing golden leaves.

Her buddleia opens purple on the high brick wall
and guides her so she finds her seat
under the soaring sycamore
where she will spend her afternoon
 tranformed to the beauty she always wears
in the sunshine at the end of platform one  	
on South Kensington Underground station.

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Melanie Branton: Daylight Saving

My clock is still on British Summertime,
one of many things I can’t be arsed to change, ticked off
ahead of me into a future 
where my train is already pulling out,
dawn already broken,
while I’m lying here in the dark.

I have put myself back,
turned my hands widdershins,
pointed in the direction of the past,
forged myself a lump of dead time to eke out the day,
pulled the night down, like a shutter,
at five o’clock.

In six months, I’ll catch my clock up,
follow its luminous green fingers out of this hole,
rise again, chivvied by its tick-tock harping
on a spring I can’t see. Until then,
I’ll remind myself I always have
less than it says.

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Stuart Pickford: Thomas Lux, I’m Dying

I mount them on nice paper
and print your name, Lux,
like the soap flakes of childhood.
From a blue box, I could sprinkle
winter onto the lake of the twin tub.
 
I wanted to copy your Refrigerator,
1957, those maraschino cherries
still beside a sulky chicken
but when they grew erotic,
strippers at a church social…
 
Instead, I print for the class
the one about the mower man
who’d mow snow, who mowed
the baseball and chucked it back
as coleslaw. I liked that.
 
Strange it should come to me
today that mowing a quarter-acre
to dust would be the last poem
I photocopy for my class
for the hell of it. After years,
 
the filing cabinets are stuffed.
Alphabetical order ran out
years ago. On my exercise books—
still unmarked—sits a plant
with crinkly ginger hair.
 
Hibernating, I tell my class.
Silence. Repeat till funny,
I tell them. Lovely plumage,
I tell myself. And so the poem
is written. Spider Plant 2018

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Amelia Hickman: Sonata

He walks the woods
arms wave, music
runs in his mind’s ear
thunderstorms
still his soul
muss es sein?

Dissonance here
after, sublime 
consonance of melody
delicate triplets
fate resigns him
to silence
es muss sein.

Eyes defiant,
wild silver hair
ich muss sein

all that is left is the
moon.

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Mark Carson: Bach’s Clavichord  

Bach curls up,
hunches over the little keyboard,
thick thumbs
pressing into the pitch,
hearing not notes played
but notes conceived;
feeling the shape
of each key signature
in the shifting sequence
of his crabbing hand.

The room is cosy, firelit,
curtains heavy in the storm,
but soon he’ll rise,
cross to the church
climb to the loft
and when the leaky bellows
wheezes into life,
endure the howling wolf-notes
grind his teeth,
his aching teeth,
in flat-infested keys.

Grant me the temperament
he cries demented
to his tone-deaf god,
but god is humming along,
shifts into a remote minor
without a comma’s glitch
and twists the devil’s tune
by tonal transubstantiation,
foul temper’d tinnitus
in faustian compact.

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Wendy Klein: airbnb
Al Haouz

the mechanical owl
by the clothes rack
a child’s toy
but vigilant
the broken locks
on the bathroom doors
the bangles by the basin
the hesitant moan in the pipes
in the same key 
as a discarded lover
calling out her name
which makes her turn
off the tap
the better to hear 
before she realises
each time
that he’s elsewhere
that his voice 
comes from deep
inside the plumbing
in some other city
some other life
some other airbnb

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D S Maolalai: All the space you've got.

its a pretty small apartment
and even then
there are fewer parts
I use.  the sofa
is pure ornament
or else 
reserved for parties
and, of the two chairs at my table,
why do I only ever sit
at one?  I come in after work
and straight away
it's either that or my bed. 
everywhere else
is just a place to drop my coat
and pile up the things 
that I just put down for a moment.
last time I sat there
I think I had a girl on my knees. 
or maybe it was when Jack came by. 
he tends to take the chair I like
and I feel strange sitting on the bed
when friends are over. 
we were going through
his thesis, I think?
and I was pointing out mistakes. only language,
obviously.
I don't know anything about architecture.
but I can spot a clumsy phrase
(dear editor, let me know if this is wrong).
anyway
point is
it's not hard 
to be better at writing 
than an architect
but it's difficult 
to use all the space you've got
the way you are supposed to. still
I sit where I sit
and enjoy my evenings.  this chair catches the radio just right
and you can see from here to the window.
not much of a view, 
of course.
just bare yard out there 
but again
things like that
are only problems
for architects.

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Jakky Bankong-Obi: Muse

Let me be your muse,
So you can practice 
The mastery of your artistry
On my heart.
Like Rumi wrote poems
And Akbar wove his carpets
I want to be the art 
You devote a lifetime to

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Antony Johae: At Byblos Bank 
(from Lines on Lebanon) 

After parking, glass confronts us,
my wife, my daughter and I.
It fills a space – the entrance.
A part could be window
another – door. I look for a crack
that might show an opening,
put out my palm to push
and the glass slides open.

My wife swipes the dispenser.
No number comes out.
She swipes again – the same.
A guard fingers downwards 
– this dispenser’s not a cell phone game – 
presses on the button 
and a slip slides out.

Waiting stools look like boxes in a row,
some padded, others glass-topped.
Wife and daughter sit.
I make to be between them.
They laugh, for this is no seat
but a square glass table-top.

Byblos seems so ancient,
first words formed by Phoenicians
letters incised with stylus
foundation for further enterprise.
This bank’s constructed to surprise
doesn’t have a human touch
symmetry, scale, sense – all out of the window
or could it be the door?

I feel my number’s up
I can be dispensed with.
Plato’s table may be a chair
or vice versa.
I might as well be standing on my head,
everything’s up in the air.

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Tristan Moss: Doxa
 
Crawling
on the rectangular plane,
seeming to believe transparency 
must give way, a wasp does not stray
across the four-inch plastic frame, 
to where an open window waits.


Tristan Moss: Choice

We’re like those crows 
on the fallow field 
taking flight just after 
the cracking of a gun –
all but one reacting
for no point at all.

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Norbert Hirschhorn: One Thousand And One Nights

Go on your way and be comforted,
	Child of the Faithful.
He who has moulded the world in His hands
Holds it and us in His hands forever.
What He has written cannot be altered,
What He has not written, never shall be.
So go on your way and be comforted,
	Child of the Faithful.*

Misery without dying, the toll we pay 
to live, the obols we store. 
What more to say?
Go on your way and be comforted.

Inside each brain, a singular universe:
Cornell boxes filled with bric-a-brac 
[ace of spades, anemones, desiccated butterflies] by
He who has moulded the world in His hands.

So little time, how dare we waste?
But waste is what we do best
just to stay alive; our lives mere toys –
He holds them and us in His hands forever.

Who is this ‘He’ and by what right
to give and take a plangent world
to waste then withdraw as if
What he has written cannot be altered?

It seems so. Everything we do
contingent on every instant passing.
Free will? To grind your teeth!
What he has not written, never shall be.

When someone shuts my final hours,
when my neural circuits go down,
I’ll be a black mirror known to none.
So, go on your way, and be comforted,
	Child of the Faithful.

*From The Arabian Nights. An Anthology – edited by Wen-Chin Ouyang.  
New York: Everyman’s Library, Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.

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Jock Stein: Postmarked
Psalm 15

Innocently she smiles, placing
two envelopes in my hand. 
She will walk down the road,
busy with bills and brochures,

her daily postal business.
I am just opening metaphors
for holy man and hypocrite,
worried that they use one typeface.

Two letters in the same post,
one for me, one for my shadow,
speaking of money, promises,
gossip, neighbours, friends.

Soon I shall walk down the road,
hoping my holy smile reaches
two corners of my mouth,
and holds my face together.

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Keith Nunes: Swimming with the lukewarm

When living in a pool of tepid invariables
Death is abstract
Hunger
Suffering
Remain in print
Are at – yes – arm’s length
Whisked away on turning pages

Flesh is soft
Milky
                          Arteries are hardening 

Words are whimsical
Serious only when there’s a hint of broken rules
Relating to dog walks
And dessert 

One is well dressed when dying
The grave is sculpted

Scandal is buried too
Unearthed only by drunken uncles
And sullen teenagers

There is no spectrum
No opposite ends

All swim at the shallow end
Where the water is warm

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Thomas Tyrrell: Breaking Up With The Bookshelves

My last ex-girlfriend’s books were maddening,
     A skew-whiff row of paperbacks
     Propped up like drunks. My fingers itched
To re-arrange them every time I went.
     Before that, something casual,
     Five set texts and a snow-globe: not
A love that lasted. Then I met Francesca
     Whose three IKEA Billy shelves
     Were crammed with classic fantasy
And science-fiction novels – everything
     A passionate reader could desire.
     Perceiving my admiring looks,
Francesca introduced me to her loves
     And let me share them. Thus I spent
     My wilder nights and lazy mornings,
And to this day, though many years have passed
     Since I was exiled and shut out
     From that particular paradise,
A bright dustcover on a library shelf,
     Like dancing or tomato plants,
     Will bring her instantly to mind,
Filling me with the old half-welcome ache
     I feel for any well-told tale
     That doesn’t have a happy end.

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Teoti Jardine: Day Three Of My Writing Regime 

Day three, here I am with my Scribble Book, and pen in hand. 

     You’re anaesthetised. Vital signs displayed on O.R. monitors. 

It does feel like a gift to have the time and space to do this. 

     Scalpels, clamps, here’s the cancer, there is the vertebrae. 

The Presbyterian work ethic niggles, ‘Shouldn’t you be doing… ‘

     Yes, vital signs all good. Who chose this music? Good thing he can’t hear it. 

I’ve done this before.   Arthur gave me Bertrand Russell’s On Being Lazy. 
                                                                                                I’ll find that place again. 

     Most of the malignant tissue gone. Now to secure these three, 
                                                                                                no four, vertebrae. 

This is my time and it’s not shirking. It’s fucking hard work, and I love it. 

     Okay Evan old son, our job is done. The rest is up to Oncology and you. 

And knowing you my friend you’ll do it well. 

And I’ll keep writing something every day. 



Teoti Jardine: There Is A Time 

There is a time to do 
and once its done is when I Know 
that was its time. 

I wouldn’t mind knowing that
a little sooner in order 
to prepare. 

Would preparation take the 
satisfaction off that affirmation? 
I’ll never know 

for I am not a planner. 
I do and once it’s done, its time’s its time
even if it isn’t. 

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Jeri Onitskansky: Nets

Some kids are scooping up 
kittens in fishing nets
near the old fort and others 
are out on the pier 
lowering their nets into the sea
and up on the mountain 
we watch hippy kids 
capturing a twin-spot fritillary  
while I wave my own net 
through the air, catching 
some precious things but mainly 
the day slips through
as hard as I try with all my
senses living it furiously, 
still it passes and what remains 
are the few things I’ve caught 
which is never the same 
as the day itself.

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E A M Harris: The Wanderer Returns

This is my road, my way home,
pearly gold in the early sun.

In the early sun I approach the places
where rich people live in fine houses;

houses growing among the sleek, plump-cattled meadows.
The verges where we rode our portly ponies

– ponies polished and coutured – still possess
wild flowers and golden grass whose scents

– a world of perfume – I never tried
to name and, those days, took for granted.

I took for granted the gates of good wood
and firm fences, tended, nurtured, painted.

Painted each season by home-dwelling men,
like the farmer in our village who spent

his money on a fine house; spent
his golden winters trimming hedges.

But some, like me, rub the perfume
on their shoulders, inhale
richness from the soil to their lungs’ brim,
then jet it with them round the world.

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Christopher Georgiou: Ghosts

The way that I remember that last day
In Rome with you is that it rained.  
And that your hair was wet. And that
we clung together by the Spanish Steps,
and wept whilst smiling tourists posed 
for photographs.
 
We and our love have gone, moved on
to separate lives and other places.
But still I feel that somewhere in the 
background of somebody’s photo memories,
we and our love live on,
caught totally absorbed
in permanent embrace.
Anonymous as ghosts.

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Stephen Bone: Jane Avril

When the hourglass was held up
to be the ideal, she went against
the grain. Cane thin and flexible,
she'd whip herself into a frenzy,
as if Saint Vitus had devised her dance,
then melt to a languid ripple.

Nicknamed La Melinite
in the halls, away from them: reserved,
soft voiced. The wounds of her past
kept hidden, until glimpsed by Lautrec,
seeping through her deadpan face.

Jane Avril (1868-1943) was a dancer at the Moulin Rouge


Stephen Bone: Cleo de Merode

The world flocked to see her, wanted
living proof the vision captured by Nadar

was made of flesh and blood. Women envied
the heavy fall of hair, Meissen white skin,

copied every trend she set, soaked up rumours
of a liaison with the Belgian king.

A mortal goddess, mind like a ringing till,
she cashed in, lived the high life in Biarritz

until age tracked her her down, dyed her grey,
brought her finally to Pere Lachaise

to share her mother's tomb, where across
pink granite, looks and youth returned,

she holds to perfection, her stone-still pose.

Cleo de Merode (1875-1966) was a dancer and model of the Belle Epoque

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Pamela Job: My Father’s Hand in Mine

I meet you nowadays in a sepia snap stuck down
on a page. You’re at army training camp. Your hands 
have strayed from your side, or from your khaki lap - 

and your touch reaches me from that rough age 
where men hid from one another - but you were bold
it’s there to see, your hands rest casually

on a fellow’s shoulders, one row down;
and in another photo, you’re an officer in France,
yours the swagger-stick arm linked through another’s;

and you both smile, though one behind you frowns.
This was later in the war, you’d already fought
Johnny Foreigner in the cul de guerre of Salonika -

where, once, maybe, it got too much - the flies, 
the stench, the sun - your fingers slipped 
on the trigger of your gun. You shot a bullet 

through your foot. I found the record of all that filed 
in a never-opened box at Kew. Nineteen sixteen, you’re
in line to be wounded at Arras, the Second Battle; 

I’ve seen caves there, beneath the Mairie where I looked 
for your face, for your hand waving at me, in the flicker-film 
of troops on limestone screens; I have searched for you. 

And now I wear your ring, its diamond eye winks back
on my same-sized finger; and my hand is held in its net 
of skin, freckled as a trout’s, just as I remember yours. 

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Bruce Barnes: Cameras 1918
(for Frederick William Ralph)  

The War had taken the edge off his vision;  
snapshots forbidden, the handy Kodak tempted 
from the depths of his kit bag, but the thought 
of time in the slammer worked like a lens cap. 
He couldn’t see for looking.                           

On Snettisham Beach, there’s light and space,   
and his quirkiness is back:  the family are bottoms up
cockling, no time for upright faces to engage. 
 Annie keeps a dignity of sorts crouching beneath, 
 a straw boater, as her team of canvas hats burrow.  

There’s plenty in the Brownie for a second shot,  
but the mudflats give a dull squidgy foreground;
he rewinds to cumbersome  glass plates, 
a sense of occasion back then, with marooned 
villagers gathering themselves for a postcard view,   

or those pictures of the Sandringham Estate,
its gardens and the House, with saloon, dining room
and the Queen’s Boudoir, their excess posted
through letterboxes.  He recalls a royal group, 
the protocol of how they were to be arrayed.

A splatter catches the lens,
smearing the viewfinder where a friend’s  face,
staring eyed, is lost to mud.  He shakes his head,
eyes meeting the glare of tidal pools; that light   
slips the camera catch, erasing the shot he minded.  
 

The Victorian/Edwardian Ralph family, father and two sons, were all photographers based in Norfolk.
Both the father and oldest son were known as Frederick, and the father was responsible for many Royal
portraits including those in the National Portrait Gallery collection.  The family photo referred to in the
poem does not however contain any regal personages!



Bruce Barnes:  ‘Indian Summer
‘ – such weather was more pronounced in the lands formerly occupied 
by the American Indians’   Brewer’s Phrase and fable 

Robbed of their season, but still they gloat 
at the drift of leaves, crunching them bonelike 
underfoot, crumbling the reds and browns 
into a shouting vivid history.  Late autumn goes on,  
the telltale light tensing like a bow strung
with vapour trails, and with clouds that struggle 
to know themselves. One of the group, weather smelling
and streaked with warpaint, presses his face
against the day’s glass, says: ‘We must take it back’.         

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Josh Ekroy: another decision is needed

and it will utterly invalidate the previous one
so those who yearned to fly to the moon will
accept the reversal of the previous decision 
with humility or fade far away and utterly forsake 
their lunar ambitions and their wildest fantasies
will stand naked and forlorn in the unforgiving light 
of day and so they will disband smiling ruefully
as they go about their earthbound business
sadly shaking their heads at their own folly
and our space crew who have done nothing
but squabble among themselves about the best
way to power our fragile little rocket to the moon
will suddenly forget their differences and fall
on one another's necks and on their knees 
will supplicate the moon for forgiveness 
which will be graciously granted in full
and a new era of harmony and prosperity 
shall come and we shall be at ease
with ourselves once more although perhaps 
there may still be one or two who come from 
the planet xarg who must be put on a space 
vehicle back to their home taking their poison
with them and moreover there may be some
with the fatal effects still in their brains 
but let us not be anxious on that account 
for we will have developed an earth-serum 
with which these xarq-poisoned ones 
can be injected and which will course through 
their veins returning them to their right minds 
as it neutralises their toxins and extrudes
the vicious effluents that have infected them 

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Ian C Smith: Out of the Asylum

Wearing oddments of clothing like cries for help at this mingling of the sexes, medicated, made-up, hair 
slicked, awkward in groups or standing alone, ghosts trying to attend to courtesies forgotten aided by valiant 
staff, these forsaken souls’ efforts highlighted their plight.  I say ‘their’, can’t bear ‘our’.

One’s legs were amputated after sliding off his bike on a bend.  His painkillers become addiction, we were now 
round the bend, his description of asylum life.  No dance for him other than the one he led me on wheeling
 around the snooker table at speed, smashing balls into pockets, furious.

Football, a loved skill of battered boyhood before desperate sadness stuck me fast, might have boosted self-
esteem, so few lining up for the recreational match, lethargic legs like drunken sailors’, so much space, players 
spaced out, you could say, the retention of an oh so black humour a survival tactic.

Stardom stymied by the organising staff member, the only one in full playing kit, charity spent, and medication’s
effect on fitness, that dance convinced me, at twenty-three, life was redeemable from the pathos of The Tennessee 
Waltz’s maudlin strains at midnight when we all shuffled back to the wards.   

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Contributors’ biographical notes

Jakky Bankong-Obi is a Media Consultant with several years of experience in Human Resources, Publishing and Development. Jakky lives in Abuja, Nigeria, where she enjoys going on long walks, doing yoga and dabbling in Nature Photography.

Bruce Barnes, formerly of Finsbury Park N4, but now escaped to Bradford, West Yorkshire, has recently had poems in the Yorkshire magazine Strix and Pennine Platform. The pamphlet Israel-Palestine  was published by the Otley Word Feast Press in 2016, and a collaboration with the artist Jun Shirasu, (an interpretation of the poems of the Japanese socialist poet, Kosuke Shirasu 1905-1943), Out of his struggles was published by the  Utistugu Press in 2016.

Stephen Bone‘s work has appeared in various magazines in the U.K. and U.S. A first collection, In The Cinema ( Playdead Press 2014) was followed by a pamphlet, Plainsong, ( Indigo Dreams 2018).

Melanie Branton took up writing poetry in her forties, while caring for elderly parents. She now teaches part-time at an FE college in Somerset and works part-time as a spoken word artist. She has published two collections, Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017) and her work has appeared in journals including Bare FictionThe Frogmore Papers and Atrium.

Joan Byrne was longlisted for Indigo Dream’s First Pamphlet competition, 2018; and won third prize in South Bank Poetry’s competition, judged by Mimi Khalvati, 2017. She was Poetry Shed’s Featured Poet, 2016 and was nominated by StepAway Magazine for the Pushcart Prize, 2014. Additionally she has been published by The NorthNew River Press, Eye Flash PoetryObsessed With Pipework, Orbis, Early Works Press and Ink Sweat & Tears. She performs regularly with Rye Poets, a trio of poets.

Miki Byrne has had two poetry collections and a pamphlet published, plus over 500 poems included in poetry magazines/anthologies. She was a finalist for Gloucestershire’s Poet Laureate and a nominee for the Pushcart Prize. She has read on TV and on Radio many times. She also ran a poetry writing group at The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury. Miki is disabled and now lives near Tewkesbury. Gloucestershire.UK.

Mark Carson built an innovative clavichord in the 1970s, the only keyboard instrument with finger-tip control of pitch.  He’s been intrigued by the conundrum of musical temperament ever since.  His pamphlet Hove-to is a State of Mind is available from Wayleave Press.

Josh Ekroy’s collection, Ways To Build A Roadblock is published by Nine Arches Press.

E. A. M. Harris has been writing for some years and several of her poems and flash stories have appeared in print and online magazines and anthologies. She blogs at http://eamharris.com/and tweets as E A M Harris @Eah1E.

 Amelia Hickman is a New Zealander currently living in London. She has a background in music, classics and literature. She is a mother of two small children and writes in the evenings, once the house is quiet.

Norbert Hirschhorn is an international public health physician, an American settled in the  UK, and proud to follow in the tradition of physician-poets. He has published five collections of poetry. See www.bertzpoet.com.

Teoti Jardine is Maori, Irish and Scottish. His tribal affiliations: Waitaha, Kati Mamoe, Kai Tahu. He attended the Hagley Writers School in 2011. His poetry has been published in the Christchurch Press, London Grip, Te Karaka, Ora Nui, Catalyst, JAAM and Aotearotica Vol 3. He has had short stories in Flash Frontier and was guest Editor for Pasifika Issue Flash Frontier March 2018. He and his dog Amie live in Riverton on the beautiful southern coast of New Zealand.

Pamela Job’s most recent awards are Second Prize in the Magma Poetry Competition 2017/18 and First prize in the Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Competition, 2018, where she also had two poems longlisted.  Previously she has twice been winner of the Suffolk Crabbe Memorial Poetry Prize. Her poems appear in several publications including The Interpreter’s House, South Bank Poetry, and Acumen. She has been involved in a four year poetry project connected with the Wilfred Owen House in Northern France, for which she co-produced two anthologies of new poetry. A poem from one of these anthologies, ‘The Parcel’, forms part of a cantata by Tom Randle to be given its first performance at Snape Maltings in April

Antony Johae is a retired academic and divides his time between Lebanon and the UK. In 2015, he came out with Poems of the East. Poetry Salzburg will publish his After-Images: Homage to Éric Rohmer in 2019. Lines on Lebanon is in progress.

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

US-born Wendy Klein has three published collections:  Cuba in the Blood (2009) and Anything in Turquoise (2013) from Cinnamon Press and Mood Indigo’(2017) from Oversteps Books.  She is working on a pamphlet about her great-grandfather, a Confederate soldier in the US Civil War, a painfully slow process, given intensive grand-parenting.

D S Maolalai is a poet from Ireland who has been writing and publishing poetry for almost 10 years. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press, and he has a second collection forthcoming from Turas Press in 2019. He has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize.

Nancy Mattson’s fourth full collection is Vision on Platform 2 (Shoestring 2018). Previous collections are Finns and Amazons (2012), Writing with Mercury (2006) and Maria Breaks Her Silence (1989). She moved from the Canadian prairies to London in 1990 and co-organises Poetry in the Crypt at St Mary Islington.

Tristan Moss lives in York with his partner and two young children. He has recently had poems published in The Poetry Shed, Antiphon, Snakeskin, AmaryllisLighten Up Online, Open Mouse, Picaroon Poetry and Algebra of Owls.

M E Muir is a Scot living in London, former teacher and business consultant, who has always written poetry but only recently begun to join workshops and have some published.

Rosemary Norman was born in London and has worked mainly as a librarian. Shoestring Press published her third collection, For example, in 2016. With video artist Stuart Pound, she makes films with poems as image, soundtrack and sometimes both. See them on Vimeo https://vimeo.com/user22959458

Keith Nunes lives in tiny Pahiatua, New Zealand. He won the 2017 Flash Frontier Short Fiction Writing Award, has had poetry, haiku and short fiction published around the globe while his Foto-Poetry digital images and Asemic Poetry has appeared in a number of literary journals.

Jeri Onitskansky’s poems have appeared in a number of publications including Ambit, Long Poem Magazine, Magma, PN Review, The Rialto and The Poetry Review.  She won first prize in the 2012 Ledbury competition, second prize in the 2012 Barnet Open Poetry Competition and was commended in the 2009 Geoffrey Dearmer, the 2013 Stanza and the 2017 Poetry on the Lake competitions.  Her pamphlet Call them Juneberries was an IOTA shot winner and was published by Templar Poetry in 2015.  Her pamphlet manuscript A Lone Poem was commended in the 2018 Magma Pamphlet Competition.

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

Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry and stories have been published in several journals, such as Panoply, Amaryllis, Riggwelter, River Teeth Journal (Beautiful Things), and Magma.Lisa is currently a full-time budget traveller. You can find out more at lisareily.wordpress.com

Kerrin Sharpe has published four collections of poetry (all with Victoria University Press). 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) and Poetry (USA).

Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in, Amsterdam Quarterly, Australian Poetry Journal, Critical Survey, Live Encounters, Poetry New Zealand, Southerly, & Two-Thirds North.  His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide).  He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island, Tasmania.

Jock Stein is a piper and preacher from East Lothian. He brings to his poetry experience of the Sheffield steel industry, life in East Africa, directing a conference centre, a sabbatical in Hungary, andthe politics of Scotland today. He writes poetry in many styles, serious and quirky, convenes Tyne and Esk Writers and chairs the Scottish Church Theology Society. Currently he is engaged in researchat Glasgow University on the Psalms.

Thomas Tyrrell has a PhD in English Literature from Cardiff University. He is a two-time winner of the Terry Hetherington poetry award, and his writing has appeared in Spectral Realms, Picaroon, Wales Arts Review, isacoustic, Lonesome October, The Road Less Travelled, Three Drops From A Cauldron and Words for the Wild.

Jim C Wilson lives in East Lothian. His writing has been widely published for over 35 years. His most recent poetry collection is Come Close And Listen (Greenwich Exchange). He was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow for six years and has taught his Poetry in Practice classes at Edinburgh University since 1994. More information at: www.jimcwilson.com