The Autumn 2021 issue of London Grip New Poetry features:
*Jim C Wilson *P W Bridgman * Sue Wallace-Shaddad *Kurt Luchs
*Phil Dunkerley *Kevin Cahill *Mark Mansfield *Martin Bennett
*Tim Kiely * Owen Gallagher * Sally Michaelson *Kathy Pimlott
*Barry Smith *Gillie Robic * Jackson *Flourish Joshua
*Robert Beveridge *Loukia Borrell *Robert Etty * Anthony Wilson
*Wendy Klein *Hibah Shabkhez *Julia Duke *James Piatt
* Chris Armstrong *Rosemary Norman *Kate Noakes *Ross Wilson
*Briege Duffaud *Hilary Hares *D A Prince *Jane Simpson
*Mark Young *Elizabeth Smither
Copyright of all poems remains with the contributors.
Biographical notes on contributors can be found here
London Grip New Poetry appears early in March, June, September & December
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LG New Poetry Autumn 2021
SUBMISSIONS: please send up to THREE poems plus a brief bio to firstname.lastname@example.org
Poems should be in a SINGLE Word attachment or else included in the message body
Submission windows are: December-January, March-April, June-July & September-October
There is a lot of water running through this issue. Even though we start with a nice glass of red wine provided by Jim C Wilson, the supply soon dries up for P W Bridgman’s protagonist. By about half way through this selection the rain has started for Jackson and Flourish Joshua only to become “incessant” for Anthony Wilson and “biblical” for Wendy Klein. Ultimately of course floods are unavoidable – as in our header picture which accompanies Rosemary Norman’s poem about a waterlogged Paris in 1910.
It has become one of our distinguishing editorial aims to make LGNP contributions talk to one another in the same way that they might do in a single author collection. In this issue, besides the running water theme, we have poem groups that riff on popular music, meditate on motor cars and look askance at the work of other poets. We hope readers will spot other, subtler, hooks which link the poems together.
We rather missed a trick when we published our summer issue because we failed even to mention – let alone celebrate – the fact that it marked ten full years of London Grip New Poetry in its present form (although we had already been featuring poetry ever since the magazine was founded in 2007). We thank all contributors and readers for sustaining their interest and support. The present editor makes no rash promises about doing another ten years! But our immediate intention is to soldier on…
London Grip poetry editor
Forward to first poet
Jim C Wilson: Claret A deep red secret in dark green glass. Cork sliding out. The liquid waits; it breathes. Time to savour then trickle and flow. A drip like blood runs down the label. Tip of tongue touching; mouth filling. French earth, French sun; the round red taste of years. Hot vineyards stretch through this grey night of drizzle. And I have four more glasses to travel, four more glasses of revelation.
P W Bridgman: Badly Burned Mathematician Declines Prestigious Fermat Prize There were merciless vicissitudes & no wine in his cup. There were flies. There were 18th C. prints of modest women bathing under cloudless skies. There were sharp left turns, & abrupt right ones, in his moods. There were unfilled prescriptions & hieroglyphic notes in his wallet & a card with the number for the mental health clinic. (If only he’d call it.) There were handwritten villanelles in his desk drawer, yellowing dissertation chapter drafts & a commendation from the dean. There were scattered proofs & calculations, a half-written cinquain. There was no wine in his cup. There was a locked door. There was romance trapped inside him, Wordsworthian & pure. There was nowhere, beyond his verse, that he could channel it. There was somewhere, someone—illumin’d under cloudless skies— who would see past his disfigured face & hands, the clutter, the flies & the pizza boxes. Someone who’d recognize that his love for caesurae, rational numbers & Schrödinger his cat could never fill his cup. Meanwhile, simultaneously alive and dead, he thought—perhaps irrationally?—sod the bloody Fermat. The first line and rhyme scheme owe a debt of inspiration to Sean O’Brien’s “There Were”.
That poem appeared in the Autumn 2017 issue of Poetry Salzburg Review at page 8.
Sue Wallace-Shaddad: In the Zone Gloria likes to dress in flounces posing as if floozy is her middle name. She conducts each workshop with flair, frightens others with her shade of hair, preening its purple with yellow tints, embrace inspiration, her bywords. Daphne tends to cower, cringe in the corner. Easily overlooked, she avoids eye contact, hopes to be forgotten, hides when they read round the circle. Her poetry is thoughtful, seems to indicate subterranean depths. Vincent always volunteers views, voice dominant — his shouting makes others wince. He has a high opinion of himself as consummate master of rhyme and metre, so brandishes yet another sonnet to declaim before long-suffering peers. Carlita is rather clever. Coño! she swears, her Cuban heritage colouring her speech. She may even offer to dance salsa after knocking back her favourite mojitos — it will take a trip to the bar to bring on a final creative boost. Vincent fancies Gloria, may make a move, unaware Gloria harbours designs on Daphne, her quiet demeanour a perfect foil, spur to her flamboyance. Carlita finds the whole group a scream, determines never to meet them again.
Kurt Luchs: Another Minor Poet after “A Minor Poet” by Jorge Luis Borges The song I hope to sing is one where the words march into the whiteness of the page like Captain Robert Falcon Scott trudging toward the South Pole, fated to arrive five weeks after Amundsen, that damned Norwegian upstart, and even worse, doomed to die on the return journey, braving the vast Antarctic icebox again at forty below. There is no shame in being the second man to reach the Pole or walk on the Moon (who was that again?), no dishonor in being the first forgotten, snow-blind, descending into darkness by means of the light. The sweet amnesia of snow and cold is no less merciful than that of the poem never written, never published, or perhaps, published and quickly lost among so many others. Though we appear to be hurtling away from each other we are all on the same journey, unknowingly following imaginary, invisible longitudinal lines that must meet in the long night at the wrong end of Earth.
Phil Dunkerley: Burning at Both Ends After C. P. Cavafy (1863 - 1933) — ‘Candles’ Only the now moment is real, the one here, bright morning sun in this quiet, familiar room, these words I realise. The rest is fuzzed by memory or hope - the photo I took of us yesterday among the colours of autumn, or my diary showing that someone expects to see me this afternoon. Cavafy said the future is a row of bright-burning candles, the past a gloomy line of cold wax, gone. I don’t see it that way. I’d say the future is less certain and the past not dead - some of it survives inside my head. For me life is more a film, a movie, and the current frame is now. Oh, at some point, my film will flap and run off the reel. Someone will have to come to sort it out, put it back in the can. That’s fine. After all, I don’t know how it began, and remember so little of the time when I was young. The now frame comes and goes. For how long? Ah, no-one ever knows.
Kevin Cahill: The Doctrine of the Trinity If God was Maud Gonne, and I was Willie, I would flirt with Her in the rotund phaeton of a Lanchester 38. Rock back and forth in the green mackerel-falls of our libidoes. That is, until she’d bury her head in the black-winged, haughty headgear of her chutzpah, and run to the Continent. Then I would grow young enough to stagger into the fog of a second childhood: ripping the fabric of my jeans at the knees, professing my love for Her daughter, and should she too say No then there would always be George: her non-divine, earthy chemise effacing You with steam.
Mark Mansfield: “Stay” The lighthouse beacon sweeps out past the rocks and ragged coastline thick with fog and mist. From where the dunes slant down, a shape appears in a beeline to where our cottage was. I cut my engine, switching off my beams. In the moonlight, I see who’s drawing near: those bangs tossed back in rhythm as she hits that loping stride with hands tucked in her jeans. As the surf recedes, I hear her singing, softly lilting “Oh, won’t you stay?” the way she did. I glimpse myself just waiting on the pier. The breakers crash, then hush—and both are gone. Mark Mansfield: The Box December 19th, 1948: “I’ll Dance at Your Wedding” lingered on the dial. Climbed to number two on Your Hit Parade. Elegance was not yet out of style. Selling the house, I came across a box from your wedding stacked among the attic dreck. Those pillbox hats and bumper bangs!—poor fox, glass eyes staring from someone’s pearl-drenched neck. Through a broken window, suddenly a crow flew, perching on your box as though its due. From its black shape, an old flame’s voice arose: listen—and then like mist, “I do.” “I do.”
Martin Bennett: Ella In Lockdown, Rome, 2021 ‘Flyin Home’: If only…Concatenation of Johnson’s Brexit plus Covid-19, that double whammy, borders have been blocked. Up inside seventh-floor Roman attic this remoaner remains, locked down; between Ciampino and Gatwick former freedom of movement is invalid, ‘Yes, we can’ substituted by a further ‘Thou Shalt Not.’ Except now and then joy turns absolute. In defiance of all things static, Lionel Hampton via vibraphone beats recent decrees into a cocked hat; Ella merges standard lyric with scat – space and time, like words, gracefully elastic.
Tim Kiely: Pantoum for Eartha Kitt and Nat ‘King’ Cole in St. Louis Blues You know that it was never sung like this. You know the movies tell it wrong, but still, a lie this skillful casts a kind of bliss, like every fine idea. You know it will. You know the movies tell it wrong, but still you want a world where voices harmonise like every fine idea. You know it will get torn to scraps outside, hearing no sighs. You want a world where voices harmonise. This isn’t it. You see the love on show get torn to scraps outside, hearing no sighs, and so, you sing it softly. Even though this isn’t it, you see the love on show. A lie this skillful casts a kind of bliss. And so, you sing it softly, even though you know that it was never sung like this. Tim Keily: Self Portrait as Superhero It starts with the mask – knowing how it feels as it catches your breath in hot clouds around your mouth. The first thing to make sure of is that it sits well. You don’t want to be mistaken for a cyclist, or an EDL guy. Those bars of red in the home-stitched cloth need to set off the resolve in your eyes just right. When the morning train pulls in what looks back out from the windows is a panel from your old ‘KarmaZero’ comics. Or even more than that. This is less imitation than secret identity. This costume is now a news dispatch from Earth 7B. That moment, you feel a new flowering in the hands that were fumbling the ties behind your ears just moments before. Your muscles tease with the shivers of what could be released if you leapt the turnstile. Your jacket stirs in the wind from the platform. Like a cape.
Owen Gallagher: Boy in a Cape You have to imagine the boss in the workplace, the way he talks and wags his finger at this worker who daren’t speak back. You have to imagine this worker at home the way he talks and wags his finger at his son whose bottom-lip trembles. Then imagine the boy crying as his mum tells him a story of a bad man at his daddy’s workplace and how the next morning the boy, without breakfast, slips into his Superboy clothes and tails his dad to his workplace, stands in front of the boss, mouth set, hands on hips, fists of steel. Owen Gallagher: God’s Own A scene from a cowboy film: a drifter staggers from the bar to the dance floor, taps on a shoulder, one insult lassoes another, a head-butt, a knee-jerk; handbags, stilettos, tables and chairs used as never before. The bar’s shutter drops its eyelid. The cashier’s door clicks like a purse. The bouncers wade in, going at it as if they were on piece-rate. Scores are stretchered off whilst the band plays, ‘When Irish Eyes are Smiling’ and some, like us, linger, desperate for a lumber, a snog in a close. Most stagger out. They wake to ‘How wis yir nicht’? ‘Ach, it wis awe richt.’ And there was my brother, the bouncer, a legend, who almost single-handedly cleared the floor and could have put both Tyson and Ali on the ropes. When he’s on his knees at home, praying with us, his knuckles white to the bone, I wonder if he’s at a ringside, calling God out for a round on their own. Owen Gallagher: She is in my Thoughts and Hands As the hooter blew and the women took their break, she stayed behind to help me catch up, fill crates for the lorries to deliver – Irn Bru, Scotland’s other national drink. I could hardly see her hands move as she plucked the bottles from the conveyor belt, and filled the wooden crates while humming ‘Lovely Leitrim’. After her funeral as the mourners were served soup by the women in our family, I stepped in to help, recalling her hands, how she’d stepped in for me, and shaped my world. Mother and son. Even in death we are not parted. Our thoughts and hands are ladles for love.
Sally Michaelson: Working Women Women with elbows grazed from leaning on sills envy their daughters catching the first El to rows of Singers in light- filled hangars where wages are docked if they look at the clock– they race head to head until the foreman calls time, after a pickle, a pie they dance the Lindy Hop or tell saucy jokes until they cry laughing, punctuate the afternoon with love songs in languages until Angelina’s high treble strikes the top of the hour a Sicilian bride is jilted and the work day ended.
Kathy Pimlott: Return to the Terminus Too often now I sway into the night, that cosy winter dark between tea and the turning out of pubs and cinemas, a late traveller fogging a rattling bus. See me on the upper deck with the dogs and other coughers, taken up with smoking in that sophisticated way, dragon-nostrils. I shouldn’t keep going back, am already yellow beyond scrubbing. These comfortable excursions just won’t do while all the while life howls for attention. Last year a clever man I knew a bit, courted a death he didn’t believe in. Visiting, face it, out of a desire to be blessed, by happenstance, I was invited into the scan, into the intimacy of his scarred insides, to witness a death sentence, 90% sure, but, ah, that golden 10. First question: can I still have a drink? He died, swollen, in a hard clutch. And now this other man, mine, heads that way too. But anyhow, look, here comes the whipsmart clippie machine grazing her hip, its crank and buttons primed for pernickity fares. Only she commands the bell: one for stop, two sharp dings for go. If I don’t tell you, how will you ever know about that bronco ride of side benches, the fear of slipping right off the bus as the driver speeds, skips stops, reckless on corners, to the end of his shift? It’s late, so join me, grip the pole, lean out into those bright, melancholy lights.
Barry Smith: Broken Glass Kristallnacht, Berlin, 9-10th November, 1938. Perhaps they do not smile, these passers-by on their morning stroll down Friedrichstrasse, the smartly-dressed couple, hatted, gloved, he in semi-shaded profile gazing on his companion’s illuminated cheek, her hand raised, making some observation about the weather or the business of the day, unaware of the shattered store windows. Slivered reflections cobwebbed jagged-edged fractured image sharded peephole silvered shiny icicled rippling circling light stuttering like meshed wire triangulated heaped broken glass Perhaps they do not smile, these passers-by on their morning stroll down Friedrichstrasse, the executive in snap-brimmed homburg, knotted-tweed overcoat and gleaming brogues, looking straight ahead, bisecting the crowd of cloth-capped workmen, pebbles on the shore, briefcase swinging, a pendulum at his side, indifferent to the crunching glass underfoot.
Gillie Robic: leatherjackets she hurries home along the night park disturbed by indefinable sounds the creaks the whisperings she knows them by the pricking of her thumbs the other side of the road they emerge from the shadow of the abandoned gasometer grinning sucking testosterone off each other mouthing the usual commentaries on bodies and intentions they come across all swagger and jerkin she keeps walking they thrust and canter catch her up surround her start the laying on of hands her eyes spin from hazel to witchery a bubble of rage forms in her gut e x p a n d s to her subcutaneous edge she runs – leaps – soars into the sky – looks down on the stunned faces watching her departure as they recede her body fills with laughter
Jackson: In Shanghai February 2019 Outside my hotel, around the corner from the neon mirage of the central shopping street, a woman squats in the roadway, a metre from the gutter in the cold rain, pants down by her bag-lady bag Behind her a spray of ochre diarrhoea bleeds across wet black tarmac She tries to wipe, adding bits of tissue to the filth Her spread broad arse is a rash of red sores I can’t help her My own gut is unsettled from random travel food My socks are soaked, my feet chilled It’s my first night in Shanghai whose name means “On Sea” It’s all one, tonight, the neon, the concrete, the rain, my Subway dinner, bun, salad, luck, fate, can’t find what I want tonight I nod to the front desk’s tawdry gloss, punch the single lift to 6, navigate passages smelling of yesterday’s noodles, return to my cramped room
Flourish Joshua: Peugeot 504 this traffic slanders my jaded spine as i edit this poem in this Peugeot 504. i smell the arrival of rain sifting through this dusty pane beside me, too. i pick up my phone again, but this woman beside me, juddering crying babies with a running nose, steals a golden line off my brain: *oga, abeg, help me hol this pikin. oh, a new yorker-worthy line, flushed off my head like aborted fetus. noise. breeze. driver. the smell of naira. whisky smell of these passengers—who may or may not be missing a bath. deafening lorry honks. smell of fuel. scorching road asphalt. fela’s zombie. these distractions are peeling off so many lines i’m trying to build. lines worthy of the nobel prize. i am amidst sad people, bookmarking me like a favorite tab. strange how these distractions [stealing my lines], completes this poem. *Nigerian pidgin.
Robert Beveridge: Divine Mercy “There's a second when both are red, but never when both are green.”—Chris Stroffolino Can you handle it is what I ask you. Can you get in behind the wheel of a two- door 1974 Gremlin and just take off for as long as a full tank of gas will get you with nothing but the clothes on your back and whatever change lies among the discarded fast-food wrappers on the passenger- side floor? Can you do that? That's what I want to know. Or will you instead pull over when the needle hits the post beside the E? What then? Would it be easier to just get out and walk, or perhaps hitch a ride, leave the keys in the ignition so some other poor bastard can get the last twenty miles out of it, pick up the two quarters you missed under the backseat mats? That's all.
Loukia Borrell: New Dirt They show up in their Sunday best. Flowing skirts, pressed chinos Hair combed back, ties straight. Father’s Day at the cemetery and the children of dead men are here, forming semi-circles and linking arms, bowing heads and pointing to the yellow blooms on day lilies. He’d love them, they whisper. But they don’t cry and they don’t stick around. Too hot. Oh, they see you. Feel sorry for you, too, as they head on home. A sideways glance your way and knowing smiles. He’s new here. Poor guy, musta just lost his dad, just days or weeks, ya think? Yeah, by the looks of the grave. New dirt. I’ve slowed down from tending a grave near him. He is on his knees smoothing out the dirt clods with his palms. He’s empty inside and out. Doesn’t even have a headstone or a blade of grass growing through the earth. “This just happened?” I ask. “Yes, my son.” You gulp down your pain, trying to bury it, like you did him, before dropping your body and soul into a chair so low, I tell myself it will be a miracle if you ever get back up.
Robert Etty: Since April Sue felt off-colour in Lanzarote, but most things are off-colour here, she smiled. After the holiday nothing changed, and, to cut a short story shorter still, appointments were made and decisions taken. Hospital was miles from home, between the edge of a northern city and bluebell woods in leaf. ‘How convenient,’ her husband said, pointing, trying to make light of something that wasn’t. ‘I bet you’ll sneak out and start coppicing.’ She’d been a woman of silent opinions, a watcher from the side, and the funeral was a quiet occasion: family and neighbours, a few survivors from where she’d worked, some wildlife group volunteers. Elgar, turned low. The celebrant spoke as if he’d known her, sunshine burned through a stained-glass window, an elderly man had to step outside, and her grandson (12 yesterday) stole the show by praising her rhubarb and raspberry pie. The funeral card contained Sue’s last message, saying she hoped she would leave no mark except memories for those she’d shared love with. And none of the cards had been left anywhere when the cleaner hoovered round afterwards. Robert Etty: Two Cuckoos Fly Over The Local Co-Op The second flies westerly after the first above the neotraditional tower in level flight at a moderate speed at ten past nine in a pure blue sky. The car park’s only a quarter full, with no cars moving in these few moments, which means the cuckoo’s call in the quiet sounds almost and briefly like the voice of a vigilant toddler fluting Co-op, Co-op, Co-op, Co-op, as if to remind distracted shoppers that force of habit has sat-navved them here. And in each bird-breath it becomes Cuc-koo, confirmed (and confounding expectations) by seeing that the cuckoos aren’t doves or pigeons or hawks on fledgling-reconnaissance flights, but they might have been, in how one bird can resemble another, and supermarkets are much alike, except for own brands and store signs the regulars don’t raise their eyes to.
Anthony Wilson: Now and Not Yet We are in Tesco in Yeovil waiting for a funeral. These dried pink and rubber things are scrambled eggs, salmon and a bagel. In Cascais our taxi driver described Paula Rego as a very strange woman. The gallery was the best coffee of the trip. When I told you I did not care you hated my music I lied. I’ve been doing it my whole life. From Christmas madness to one violin in an empty kitchen we go on crying because we go on loving you. Anthony Wilson: Found: Rain Part of the rain has now fallen, the rest now to fall. You can fall a long way in sunlight. You can fall a long way in the rain. Praise the rain it brings more rain. I saw, for the first time, Walter Scott speaking of the incessant rain. The rain is speaking quietly, you can sleep now. Praise the rain it brings more rain. I drove home seen-through by the glitter of the summer day by rain and quietness seen-through by the moon. It has rained.
Wendy Klein: 21st Century Lament The absence of the pole star The absence of biblical rain of some kind of ark the right patriarch to steer it: a diligent itemiser prepared to collect specimens two by two, who will not fail to remember the unicorn, will navigate without instruments. The absence of the phone box with broken glass A splash of piss eating away at the print of a racing form, some punter’s dropped in the corner The absence of the cyclist, run down by a woman texting on her mobile phone The absence of voices rattling on and on about something mistakenly called compassion to ears that have shut down, The absence of the unicorn (again) and the virgin and the golden chain she used to keep him nestled close and of virginity itself, becoming an anachronism like unicorns, like astronomers and maybe even the stars themselves – how easy it is to forget them – pinpoints of white on a worn velvet backdrop. The absence of the need to remember of memory, The silence of absence; the absence of absence the void.
Hibah Shabkhez: Jeopardy Inside, With a flick of my wrist With one precise yet careless twist I set water coursing through steel Pipes, make it come running Up to do my bidding; And I forget That I need it to live. Outside, The sluggish river smiles, And plots its cold revenge.
Julia Duke: Reflections on Weather Dependency I As rain clouds gather, sunlight glints on the water under inky skies. Threatening to rain, the dark clouds vacillate like weak-willed parents. A wild day today, wind whipping the trees, rain drops spattering the glass. II Droplets of water tremble on fine cobweb threads, shining in the gloom. Dry and pale, parched soil yearns for daily watering, to make flowers thrive. A single raindrop glistens on a lupin leaf like a shining pearl. III Rain falls steadily, darkening the soil, dripping from glossy, wet leaves. Fresh from my shower, I see the dripping trees and share their joy, renewed. Small, muddy puddles are morphed into mirrors of summer’s bright sunshine.
James Piatt: Neglected Things An old rutted road filled with puddles and memories from the recent rains, crosses a meadow where an abandoned Ford truck can be seen in the middle among tall weeds. It no longer is able to run, tires gone, body and engine oxidized, windows broken, upholstery ripped to shreds, by time, animals, and seasons. It is a nostalgic fading piece of seasons passed. I don’t think anyone ever bothered to see why it had stopped, or corroded into a pale rust patina of neglect, it reminded me of the poor old homeless man that died in among the bins and debris in that alley a long time ago, I don’t think anyone bothered to see why he died either.
Chris Armstrong: Innocence The London mist wets the docks and the decks of my first ship on the day that I join; I am alone at the rail: there are barges, a tug of loneliness in my chest. This sea, the sea in the docks, is dirty brown rainbow oily, scummed with ship droppings, a lone plank of timber floating like a lost surfboard - I think of the sun on Gower waves. I left home young and immediately uncompanioned by strangers, was lost to all they knew, drowning in the isolation of my new-learned bewilderment wondering if I shall ever know the pleasure of girls' bodies as their talk suggest they do. Loaded, this ship is as empty as my soul
Rosemary Norman: 1910 As the steps up from Paris pavements to doorways grew fewer and were submerged, and street lamps fell in love with their own ornate reflections in the rising water, while in the Gare D’Orsay the arched glass roof and chandeliers did likewise, citizens too – crowding three or four to a window to converse with those who boated along between shopfronts or trod wooden walkways, hats firmly on – knew they had never been more photogenic and were not confused by the flood’s beauty, which may be because rain that had fallen for weeks came up now, steadily from below, giving them usable time to see nobody drowned. Rosemary Norman: Dance Anyone who can hear, Q says, must join hands and dance round in a ring, impossible not to. Bond slips the tin whistle into an inside pocket. Confident as he is that the device is no more than fairies in disguise offer to third brothers, it will do to mark him out, him being no pusher of pens that do not double as cameras or guns. He never did play a note of music but the tin whistle promises plenty, not even the stiffest lips or fingers can resist it. As a gang of slick- suited thugs bent on ridding the world of itself groups for a last act, Bond has them reduced in minutes to puddles of unidentifiable liquid on the floor with his rendition of The Ashplant.
Kate Noakes: 'The Breathing of Statues' - Rilke With gratitude to Dannie Abse for the quote from Rilke,
which he mentions in his memoir, "The Presence" Listen - surprising and strange is this music. An informer in a car park. A nuisance caller. Heavy and deep-throated is the song of marble. Unlikely under its weight, the triumphant chant of Samothrace echoes through a Louvre unvisited. Wood creaks a tune of splitting timber. A ship on rocks floundering. So the requiem of a reclining Buddha pierces a closed temple's air shaking the leaves of banyan and bodhi. And bronze birds, perched by Tracey on lintels and bus stops across Sydney's empty centre, chorus in chinks and chimes something uplifting and summery by a Vaughan Williams. Listen - surprising and strange is this breathing.
Ross Wilson: Admission Wheeled down a corridor with a mask over nose and mouth and finger snared by a sats probe and ECG leads like tentacles attached to sticky dots sending signals to a screen translating what’s going on in the body you’ve been driving around for fifty years like a car you thought had decades left to run. Now unsure you look up at what you can see of faces looking down through PPE and feel yourself whisked from trolley to bed on a flat board and are re-assured by the mask-muffled words of staff in goggles like bulging eyes. Giant insects work as a team, assembling equipment, turning this body that’s broken down with you strapped in it trapped behind a windscreen dimming like a living room light turning down down down out.
Briege Duffaud: Coming round These dreams still teasing at the ragged fringes of my mind … Am I alive? You sure? How can I know? These dreams … You would lie to me, to lie would be your role in that other place, the place without certainty of flesh and blood, that place of terrors where I’ve been. You say I’m back but how can I ever now be sure? These dreams … I was immortal once, invincible. Old Pliny knew, and said that now the ground will always shake below my feet. Behind every bush, a shadow.
Hilary Hares: What the neighbours did in lockdown While they shack up with friends, an ill-assorted troop of half-hearts ambles in to fabricate a small extension. The house pins its hopes to a scaffold of new bones and lorries trundle up the Close like tumbrils. Within a week a pall of brick-dust overwhelms the air and every note the angle grinder sings begins to grate. Ladders lead everywhere and nowhere. Rooms sacrifice their walls and spill their guts into skip after skip. The garden sinks beneath a Jenga of mis-matched planks. Stagnant buckets breed a plague of tiny flies. When autumn settles in, a pile of sodden cardboard smoulders for days on a despondent bonfire. At night a circus of cement-mixers turns cartwheels in my dreams and all the disconnected drainpipes dance.
D A Prince: Gallery view We take a break, leaving on our screens a patchwork of emptied rooms, nothing and no one blocking bookshelves, prints or pictures, just lonely backdrop plants, leaves drooping. Distant unmuted sounds are life elsewhere with kettles, plumbing, argument — a door shut or slammed, or voices choir-ed like childhood rituals, the way a house absorbs all separate diaries into itself. The ghosts of rooms exhale. Where there’s been too much making of a living they stretch and claim this luxury, a snatch of white walls; vacant possession, giving nothing away. D A Prince: Let there be light And here it is, remaking drilled seedlings in techno blues and reds, stretching out day beyond sunset. Ultra-violet hisses the electric flood, grooming young leaves to stay up later, re-playing creation’s story. Smart language instructs the teenage crop, driving it to market from fields senseless before this new genesis; secret, programmed for profit. The new manager surveys his screen and sees that it is good.
Jane Simpson: Seams in the letter Like a forensic scientist like an amateur linguist like a teenager with a crush Like an English language teacher like a lexicographer like an expectant catechumen Like an expert decoder like a deep water diver like a seamstress unpicking I read my surgeon’s letter.
Mark Young: axolotl Even if it was as the specialists suggest, that in certain intensities of light the interplay of particular patterns might strobe & cause him to black out, he would rather pass up the surgery than pass up the opportunity to see the salamanders come down to the world's edge & drink up the blood of the setting sun.
Elizabeth Smither: The moon that harms animals It’s going to harm animals, this moon rising so full and huge at dusk over this little bald hill at the edge of a field of stubble. Stalks and black earth, already gleaned and dark as the darkest desire which will come on the animals tonight. And here, in proof, is the ragdoll cat carried draped over a child’s arm or worn around the neck of another, sore and torn, hardly bearing to be held because of the savage bites she bears for venturing, unstoppable, through the cat door and yielding herself, in fealty, to the moon.
Chris Armstrong had three careers, working as a merchant seaman, a farmhand on the farm where he still lives, and as an information scientist before retiring to become a poet and writer. He has one collection of poem in print, Mostly Welsh (Y Lolfa, 2019). Although initially entirely focussed on poetry, his writing has branched into short stories and his first full length work of fiction, The Dark Trilogy will be published at the end of the year. A collection of short stories is in preparation. He has published in Storgy, Agenda and London Grip New Poetry. He lives in a cottage in the mid-Wales mountains.
Martin Bennett lives in Rome where he teaches and contributes occasional articles to ‘Wanted in Rome.’ He was 2015 Winner of the John Dryden translation prize
Robert Beveridge (he/him) makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Throats to the Sky, FEED, and Sublunary Review, among others.
Loukia Borrell is the American-born daughter of Greek-Cypriot immigrants. She is a former journalist who began writing poetry in her 50s, as a way to cope with her father’s death. She has poems in West Texas Literary Review, Neuro Logical, 2 Meter Review, Dreich Magazine and elsewhere. You can find her being artfully annoying on Twitter @LoukiaBorrell
Canadian writer P.W. Bridgman’s fourth book—his second selection of poetry, entitled Idiolect—was published by Ekstasis Editions in 2021, as was his second selection of short fiction, The Four-Faced Liar. A new work, tentatively entitled Bird in the Hand, 1961: A Novella in Verse, is nearing completion. To learn more about Bridgman (a regular reviewer of poetry titles for London Grip), you may visit his website at www.pwbridgman.ca.
Kevin Cahill is a poet from Cork. His work has appeared in several publications, including Oxford Poetry, The Lonely Crowd, London Magazine, Magma, Southword, Wild Court, Dreich, and The Pre-Raphaelite Society Review
Briege Duffaud is an Irish poet and fiction writer who has contributed to several English and European magazines, most recently Acumen, The Spectator, French Literary Review, The Frogmore Papers. She lives in South-West London.
Julia Duke is a nature writer and poet whose writing is informed by her love of landscape, her fellow humans and quirky ideas. She has contributed to magazines and anthologies, including Fifth Elephant (Newtown Poets), London Grip, Indigo Dreams magazine, The Dawntreader and Suffolk Poetry Society’s magazine Twelve Rivers
Phil Dunkerley lives in South Lincolnshire where he runs the Stamford Poetry Stanza and a local U3A Poetry Group. He takes part in open mic and other sessions whenever he gets the chance. A number of his poems have sneaked in past busy editors into their magazines, webzines and anthologies – London Grip, Magma, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review, Ink, Sweat and Tears, and Poems for Peace, among others. He reviews for Orbis and has translated poems from both Spanish and Portuguese.
Robert Etty lives in Lincolnshire. His most recent collection, Planes Flying Over, was published by Shoestring Press in 2020.
Owen Gallagher was born of Irish parents in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. He now lives in London. His previous publications are:Sat Guru Snowman (Peterloo Poets), Tea with the Taliban (Smokestack Books), A Good Enough Love (Salmon Poetry, Ireland) which was nominated for the T.S. Eliot award and Clydebuilt. (Smokestack Books). The Sikh Snowman an illustrated children’s picture book was published in November 2020 by Culture Matters. Rabble Day, a play, will be premiered in Ireland in 2022
Hilary Hares’ poems appear widely online and in print. She has also won or been placed in a number of competitions. Her collection, A Butterfly Lands on the Moon supports Winchester Muse and a new pamphlet, Red Queen, is available from Marble Poetry. Website: www.hilaryhares.com
Jackson was born in Cumbria England and is currently based in Australia and new Zealand. Her four collections include A Coat of Ashes (Recent Work Press 2019), based on her PhD and The emptied bridge (Mulla Mulla Press). The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry includes her work. thepoetjackson.com
Flourish Joshua is a poet from Nigeria, a NaiWA poetry scholar and second runner-up of the 7th Ngozi Agbo Prize for Essay. He’s @fjspeaks on Twitter and Instagram.
Tim Kiely is a criminal barrister and poet based in London. His work has appeared in Lunar Poetry, South Bank Poetry, Under the Radar and Magma. His debut pamphlet, Hymn to the Smoke’ is published by Indigo Dreams.
Wendy Klein is a survivor of the first Oxford University (Kellogg College), undergraduate diploma in creative writing. Published widely in the US and the UK, she has 3 collections: two from Cinnamon Press and one Mood Indigo from Oversteps books, plus a selected, Out of the Blue (2019, Oversteps Books). Her pamphlet, Let Battle Commence (Dempsey & Windle 2020), based on her great-grandfather’s letters while serving as a Confederate Soldier, is also available as a film: https://youtu.be/L2JlbpAdUcU
Kurt Luchs (kurtluchs.com) has poems published or forthcoming in Antiphon, La Piccioletta Barca, and Plume Poetry Journal. He won the 2019 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest, and has written humor for the New Yorker, the Onion and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. His books include a humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny), and a poetry chapbook, One of These Things Is Not Like the Other. His first full-length poetry collection, Falling in the Direction of Up, was recently issued by Sagging Meniscus Press. He lives in Portage, Michigan
Mark Mansfield is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, Strangers Like You and Soul Barker, and one chapbook, Notes from the Isle of Exiled Imaginary Playmates. His new collection, Greygolden is scheduled for release this fall. (All collections noted are published by Chester River Press.) His poems have appeared in Anthropocene, Bayou, Fourteen Hills, The High Window, Iota, The Journal, London Grip, Magma, Obsessed with Pipework, Salt Hill Journal, Sarasvati, Staple, Star*Line, Visitant, and elsewhere. He has been a Pushcart Prize nominee. A former musician and paralegal, he currently lives in upstate New York
Sally Michaelson is a retired conference interpreter in Brussels. Her poems have been published in The High Window, The Lake, IS&T; Algebra of Owls, Squawk Back, The Bangor Literary Journal, The Seventh Quarry, Lighthouse, and Hevria. A collection The Boycott is forthcoming the The High Widow Press
Kate Noakes is a PhD student at the University of Reading researching contemporary British and American poetry. Her most recent collection is The Filthy Quiet (Parthian, 2019). She lives in London where she acts as a trustee to writer development organisation, Spread the Word.
Rosemary Norman lives in London and has worked mainly as a librarian. One poem, Lullaby, is much anthologised and her third collection, For Example, was published by Shoestring Press in 2016. Since 1995 she has collaborated with video artist Stuart Pound and their work can be seen on Vimeo
James Piatt was nominated for a Best of Web award and three times for Pushcart awards. He has had four collections of poetry, The Silent Pond,(2012), Ancient Rhythms,”(2014), Light (2016), and Solace between the Lines, (2019), over 1,530 poems, fi five novels, 7 essays, and 35 short stories, published worldwide. His fifth poetry book is scheduled for release this year. He earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, and his doctorate from BYU.
Kathy Pimlott is London-based, Nottingham-born. She has two pamphlets with The Emma Press, Goose Fair Night and Elastic Glue, and a first collection due in spring 2022 with Verve Poetry Press.
D A Prince lives in Leicestershire and London. Her second full-length collection (Common Ground, HappenStance, 2014) won the East Midlands Book Award 2015. A pamphlet, Bookmarks, also from HappenStance, was published in 2018.
Gillie Robic was born in India and lives in London. Her poems have appeared in the UK and the US. Her collections, Swimming Through Marble and Lightfalls, were published by Live Canon in 2016 and 2019
Hibah Shabkhez is a writer of the half-yo literary tradition, an erratic language-learning enthusiast, and a happily eccentric blogger from Lahore, Pakistan. Her work has previously appeared in Zin Daily, Litbreak, Broadkill, Rising Phoenix, Big City Lit, Constellate, Harpy Hybrid, and a number of other literary magazines. Studying life, languages, and literature from a comparative perspective across linguistic and cultural boundaries holds a particular fascination for her. Linktree: https://linktr.ee/HibahShabkhez
Jane Simpson is a poet, historian and writer of liturgy based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her poems have most recently appeared in London Grip, Otoliths, Poetry New Zealand, takah? and Meniscus. Her collections, A world without maps (2016) and Tuning Wordsworth’s Piano (2019), were published by Interactive Press. Her latest book is The Farewelling of a Home: a liturgy. Her website is, www.poiema.co.nz
Barry Smith is the director of South Downs Poetry Festival and co-ordinator of the Chichester arts festival. Well-published in journals, his collection, Performance Rites, is forthcoming later this year with Waterloo Press. Barry is editor of Poetry & All That Jazz and works as a performance poet with jazz/roots musicians.
A new collection by Elizabeth Smither, My American chair, will be published by Auckland University Press in 2022.
Sue Wallace-Shaddad’s short collection A City Waking Up was published by Dempsey and Windle (October 2020). Shortlisted recently for the Plough Poetry Prize, she has poems published by Artemis, London Grip, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Fenland Poetry Journal and Brittle Star among others. Sue has an MA in Writing Poetry (Newcastle University/Poetry School, London). She writes poetry reviews and is Secretary of Suffolk Poetry Society. Website
Anthony Wilson’s most recent books are The Afterlife (Worple Press, 2019) and Deck Shoes, a collection of essays (Impress Books, 2019). In 2015 he published Lifesaving Poems (Bloodaxe Books), after his blog of the same name: www.anthonywilsonpoetry.com
Jim C Wilson’s writing has been widely published for 40 years. His latest poetry collection is Come Close and Listen (Greenwich Exchange). Jim lives in East Lothian. More information at www.jimcwilson.com
Ross Wilson writes “My poems have appeared in Wild Court, The Dark Horse, Edinburgh Review and various other publications. My first full collection, Line Drawing, was shortlisted for the 2019 Saltire Poetry Book of the Year. I work full-time as an Auxiliary Nurse in ICU”
Recent work by Mark Young has appeared in Marsh Hawk Review, Synchronized Chaos, & e·ratio, among other places. His most recent books are 1750 words, from SOd Press, sorties, from sandy press, & The Toast, from Luna Bisonte Prods.