May 29 2022
The Summer 2022 issue of London Grip New Poetry features:
*Charlotte Gann *Sally Festing *Pam Job *Mary Mulholland *Neil Leadbeater
*Stephen Claughton *Brian Docherty *Mary Franklin *John Grey
*Jane Simpson *Bob Cooper *Phil Connolly *Paul Stephenson
*Elizabeth Smither *Gareth Writer-Davies *Stuart Henson *Rosemary Norman
*Alison Campbell *Rod Whitworth *Stuart Handysides *Joan Michelson
*Arthur Russell *Marty McKenna *Mark McDonnell *Stuart Pickford
*Judith Wozniak *Jacob Goldstein *Peter Daniels *George Freek
*Frederick Pollack * Bruce Morton * Sally Michaelson *Shikhandin
*Kathryn Southworth *Kathleen McPhilemy *John Mole *Ceinwen Haydon
*John Bartlett *Morelle Smith *Martin Bennett *Phil Dunkerley *Ian Heffernan
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
A printer-friendly version of this issue can be found at
LG New Poetry Summer 2022
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
Our header picture is one of many blue and yellow images that have been used since February 24th to signal compassion and support for the Ukrainian people enduring Russia’s ruthless and unjustifiable invasion. The photograph particularly relates to John Bartlett’s poem Sunflowers need full sunshine but it could also accompany all the poems for Ukraine that appear in the final pages of this selection. Many invasion-themed poems have been submitted over the last six weeks or so. The earliest offerings were, very understandably, heartfelt cries of outrage and blame; but over time, as Ukrainian resistance and stubborn Russian cruelties have continued, the poetic approaches have become more oblique and it has mainly been from these later, less direct submissions that we have made our eventual choices.
This is not a single-themed issue, however. Readers will find poems on a range of subjects reflecting the puzzles, delights, challenges and absurdities of everyday life. Our contributors have once again given us some remarkable material and enabled us to assemble groups of poems that echo and respond to one another. In particular these include a few poems about past conflicts which remind us that there is nothing new about the fighting taking place in Ukraine. Until this spring, however, we might have dared to believe that such conduct was becoming obsolete.
London Grip poetry editor
Forward to first poet
Charlotte Gann: Calling Time So I’d sit at my desk waiting and hoping and trembling before someone would say it – maybe me – ‘A quick drink after work’ – and we’d go night after night, pint after pint after pint. We’d smoke sixty cigarettes, drink drink after drink starting at six when seven thirty seemed another, safe country but suddenly was upon us, then long gone and it’s more like half nine and our table a landscape of pint glasses and overflowing ashtrays after trip upon trip to the cigarette machine in the hallway and turn after turn to the bar for another round, another tray of toppling filled glasses and laughter and it still only Tuesday, say, and then the bar staff flashing the lights on and off and it must be after eleven and they’re calling a warning and stacking chairs at the other end of the narrow room and we’re the only table left and still we stay drinking and shouting until they call ‘Time’ and yank the noisy chain grille down over the bar and padlock it and turn the lights off and we grope our way blindly foghorning back up the stairs and even then not out into the night, contrite, rushing for last tubes but into the hotel bar for residents only where the drinks are even more expensive and we’re just we two now usually and order ‘A night cap’ then ‘One for the road’ lighting cold fags and slumping on that black-leather slidey sofa in this pot-planted environment with piano muzac playing softly and it’s hard now to keep my spirits up with you falling silent beside me so near and far away.
Sally Festing: False Judgement It is a shock when people ask Do you want a concessionary ticket instead of seeing my young girl’s heart.
Pam Job: Mexla Mexla! We played the game at all your birthdays - your game, your rules. It had everything to do with bubblewrap and that spontaneous laughter, the kind we crave, around good food, old friends; and a sometimes desperate return to childhood. We’d sipped sweet wine from thin Bohemian glasses, scooped up the last of the Pavlova, oozing cream and strawberries and handed round the bubblewrap. We’d blown out your birthday candles, now we waited for the game, a time for bad jokes and shared memories . . . Today, the scent of summers past lingers in your house, your roses need dead-heading and it’s your birthday; but you’re not here to remind us how to play, to tell us when we’ve won and are allowed to pop a bubble until all that’s left are plastic holes to catch your breath.
Mary Mulholland: Peepholes From mental arithmetic I’d race to handstand with my friends, boys whistling, tunics falling over our heads, but today they were silent, standing, staring by the fence. So I stared too. It was as if he’d left his skin behind. He had no lips, no brows, half-shut peepholes for eyes and his neck was red spaghetti. I wanted to ask if it hurt in the bath, how he dried himself. Jean offered me a ham roll from her lunchbox. I shook my head, then the bell, and everyone ran laughing, shouting to class. But the peepholes had pinioned my feet. In the end I cartwheeled into history, as the teacher was saying, a casualty of war, then we went back to the Dark Ages and I tried to blot him from my mind. But over years when life turned upside down, he'd peep in. Decades later, as I stood with a crowd staring at the world's top night-view from Mount Inasa, all of us shooting cameras at what was once a gentle fishing town, destroyed by the Fat Man, and I thought of when instead of handstands in that sour-milk breaktime we stared at Peepholes. In the museum I found a photo by Shomei Tomatsu. The same spaghetti neck, hairless face, and eyes showing the pain of what we're given to bear. I wondered what photos our hearts might show, and whose was that angel shadow imprinted on the walls of Urakami cathedral, wings intact.
Neil Leadbeater: Ivor Not one for conversation, I drove him to St. Mary de Lode to see the stained glass window and watched him stand in silence as if trying to look through a glass darkly afraid of what he might find. Everything set him on edge: an enemy crouching behind a column the sound of a door closing, someone’s cough and its loud acoustic, a dropped hymnal that made him jump right out of his mind. Note:In 2000, a stained glass window was installed in St. Mary de Lode Church, Gloucester
and dedicated to the memory of the English poet and composer, Ivor Gurney (1890-1937).
Stephen Claughton: Zhen Zhilong after Hokusai Zhen Zhilong points his mighty piece, a broad-barrelled musket at least as big as himself, into the sky at forty-five degrees. Together they fill the frame. We can’t see what he’s aiming at, but if it’s the ocean monster that’s there on the opposite page, he’s not going to hit it like that. Such a braggadocious weapon asks to be undercut by an unworthy target – a songbird perhaps, or trickster perched mockingly on the end. Zhen’s attitude looks wrong. He’s holding the firearm as an archer might, half-kneeling with his front foot against a rock to brace himself while drawing back the bow. If its weight doesn’t topple him, the recoil surely will. You have to ask yourself if Zhen has done this before.
Brian Docherty: Trophy (after Paulo Uccello, Saint George and the Dragon, 1470) I did not ask this man to come here. Nor did I ask him to kill my dragon. He did not understand that it was my dragon, not his prey or trophy. And I do not care what the Church thinks, or what mission they gave him. She was beautiful as well as useful, keeping my domain safe from wolves and bandits, something this George has no interest in doing. He will, he says, take her head as his trophy, and proof he did his knightly duty, and to claim his reward. He was not pleased when I told him that I will not be part of that reward. ‘The Prince-Bishop promised’, he snuffled. ‘Oh, did he indeed; remind his Grace what happened last time he laid siege to my House. I do not dispute the authority of the Church, but I am sovereign in these lands, and I will not answer to any man, lance or not.’ ‘Besides’, I told him, ‘if I ever have need of a man, it will not be such as you; leave before dark.’
Mary Franklin: Fingers Crossed Two pictures in this waiting room: snow-capped peaks of The Three Sisters and swathes of undulating prairie grass. The massive Rocky Mountains loom but it’s the light-green prairie grass my eyes return to that soothes me. An elderly Asian couple sit nearby. Silent as shadows neither look my way yet he never stops holding her hand. The receptionist calls my name. The doctor will see you now. I nod, sigh, breathe deeply. Out the window a dull grey sky, the loud harsh cry of a magpie.
John Grey: The Jump Cure Giving oneself to the river, you convinced herself, was like going to the doctor or the dentist. “Don’t jump!” cried the voice in the background. “It’s not worth it!” But it sounded more like, “You’re next.” And it was coming from the current below. You kept your appointment with a plunge from the bridge. Then some fool pulled you out. He was suffering too. But his prescription was to save somebody.
Jane Simpson: Bombshell Outside the Cathedral, without our masks I nonchalantly say I’m more than halfway through my course of radiation treatment wait for the silence count the seconds to detonation their logical response So you’ve had cancer When was your surgery Three months back I never knew Now I’m more than halfway through my course of radiotherapy. said casually a conversation opener with acquaintances and friends less threatening than a socially distanced diagnosis more acceptable than declaring I have cancer.
Bob Cooper: Two Room Visits in a Twelve-Hour Shift I help her stand, look out the window. From the 4th floor we see so much: sky, church spires, the road beyond trees. Strong hands, Andréa, like my daughter. Despite my name-badge she calls me that as if I’m a Care Worker she knew who worked here when she arrived. See how I’ve come up in the world, she says each time we stare down on autumn, its sunlit colours, bright patterns, that belong to us both from elsewhere match her loose-fitting blouse. I lower her back to her chair, then we repeat what we said yesterday, Have you taken your pills? What pills? she says. Your pills, I repeat, looking at the row of three on a saucer with the half-full teacup she’ll sip from as she swallows them before I take the tray away. In the afternoon I knock gently, reclose the door quietly, hear soft snores, before I stroke her hand to wake her, lift her, Strong hands …we stand at the window. See how I’ve come up in the world she repeats while we stare down, then, when I’ve adjusted cushions, I help her sit. She frowns, My pills. Where are my pills? I smile, say, Maybe you took them after breakfast… … Ah, yes, Andréa, maybe I did.
Phil Connolly : Some Insist the clinically diagnosed belong on it, and no one else. Some claim a place for all; the issue is relative height. Think hierarchies, they say, like handicaps in golf, and friends come to mind… Arthur, with his only if it’s Vogel, chia and sunflower seeded, all hard edges trimmed and hot enough to melt the butter attitude to toast. And Charlie can’t abide dead glasses cluttering a table where he’s drinking with his mates. Before the first has time to multiply he’s on his feet to whip it to the bar and while he’s at it tour the lounge and herd in all the rest. And Martin has to read two books at once. Only when he’s read an author’s output in its chronological entirety can he embark, chronologically, on the next. And if you think you’re the one to persuade him to stay, then clamp your pliers’ jaws on Gordon’s finger nails and, one by one, rive them out. If nine’s his stipulated time, nine’s the time he’ll go. All I did was empathize, then openly declare this room and its twenty-four seats – wartime officers’ mess for two whole squadrons – mean and small and, later on our Air Museum tour, the Chapel miserly with eighteen chairs. Annie tells me don’t be daft. There’s ample space to bring in more. And anyway, how do I know these things? Have you been counting? The spectrum, I mean.
Paul Stephenson: Storage King Mid-morning, I ring Storage King. I say, Is that Carol? and she says, No, this is Jade, how can I help you? I say, I was thinking of increasing the size of my space, of upgrading. The thing is… and I hear myself telling Jade the ins and outs of my predicament, me confiding: I’ve tried to condense two small units and cram everything in but now it’s all squeezed up and if I open the door, what with the mattress, I can’t get in. I ask Jade if she can give me a price on a bigger unit, one to move about in. You’re in luck, she says, we’ve a deal on a one hundred-and-fifty square foot – and it works out quite a bit cheaper than a one hundred metre unit and a fifty separate. Sounds great, I say, because there’s some other crates at my Mum’s down the passage and also in the box room, and back of the garage. I say, It’s not all mine, it belongs to… and he… thanks, that’s great, I’ll ring you back, bye.
Elizabeth Smither: The vacuum cleaner robot It sends a message to you from Switzerland: ‘I’m stuck’. It’s bumped against the curtain and tangled in its hem. It mentions ‘curtain’ in the report as if waiting instruction. ‘What do I do now, Master? Back off?’ Now it cannot reach the docking station in which after each excursion it settles like a nest. You’re away for a week. There’s no instruction you can send it. Hibernate or Use your initiative. Bite the hem. You find it swathed like an Easter statue in purple folds and feigning sleep.
Gareth Writer-Davies: Foolscap i.m Eric XIV of Sweden being a great admirer of magic the King had made, an enchanted cap either to keep his head warm or for mysticism it didn't matter greatly; he was the King after all. Surprisingly, his subjects loved him for it and if the weather was stormy, they would say that the King was thinking hard or trying a new spell. They liked to be entertained, which is like being told what to do, but with more jokes and maybe a sing-song. I wake and give my head a shake, bells are ringing. Good old Eric; he could probably get away with anything. I glance at my folio; there is the fool in his cap grinning.
Stuart Henson:The Mad Ambulist of Kentish Town Flat-cap, a paper bag, a covid mask: that sudden unsettling sense of déjà-vu. You’ve seen this man before who’s striding past, power-walking, pacing with intent, almost escaping down the station’s length. He’s counting steps and measuring the length of platforms 2 and 3, head up, intent on leaving what’s behind him in the past, oblivious to our time-slipped point-of-view, in his cap, with his bag and covid mask.
Rosemary Norman: Legs Word had it he could vault the counter of his corner shop into the street in seconds and that his leg was taken off by a ship’s doctor, surely drunk. The leg of wood, rigid like the handle of a broom varnished over, had pain in it as if the nerves recalled a tree’s grief at such ill-use. Phantom pain is common and difficult to treat. The limb not lost, reflected in its place to come and go, can give relief, easing a lifelong ache like his in the serviceable tree.
Alison Campbell: School counsellor And I look up as she opens the door. How will it be today, after a week’s break? Will she talk, or just stroke slow grooves in the sand tray, think what to say about school. Did she shout again, fling books on the floor with breath- taking force to shatter the maths class silence? She fidgets on the plastic chair, stickily aware of the silence between us. Outside the room, feet run past the door. I catch her eye. We smile, we can breathe again. She talks about her form tutor and breaks down into tears. What is it about this too-fast pace of school that makes her feel stupid – a slow learner, words bombarding her so she can’t follow? Slow down! She wants to shout, but they enforce silence. No one-to-one time anymore with Miss, like primary school. Perhaps after all, counselling is the doorway to self-knowledge, I think, and break out in a half smile. We can breathe easy in this room. The sun filters in – a breath of air comes from the window. Now, I say, slowing my words, Tell me about your half-term break, And I really want to hear. Please don’t go silent on me. She talks of the mum yelling, a brother door- slamming. Almost a relief to come back to school. Mum said I should find someone like me at school. Someone as mad! This twelve-year-old is breathing fire into her day now – feelings no longer door- jammed. She grabs a pen, scribbles Fuck you! Slows down, draws a giant skull in metallic red – silently. This Fuck you! is a first. I smile. An hour’s passed. We break off. See you next week – first thing! She breaks a Twix bar, downs the lot, nods, exits. Against school rules. I don’t mind either. Now silence envelops the room. I sit back, breathing in the linger of chocolate. What was said hangs here in slow- motion – a life suspended till next time. I’ll lock the door when I leave. In the break we’ll hold on, breathe, reflect on school. Next week, with slowed silent steps, we’ll open another door.
Rod Whitworth: Mr Knowles Nine, in the sun, belly-down between cowpats and buttercups, watching council houses growing across the clough, dreams held by the swing of the sledge driving piles; I noticed the thump at the top of the swept arc, and was astonished. But you knew, showed me how to count the distance to the storm, see the slip-catch held before the ‘snick’, the shunting bounce before the ‘bang’. You taught me nature has its laws: how each effect follows from a cause.
Stuart Handysides: Write me five hundred words Let me know what you thought let me know that you read what I thought you might like what I hoped might stimulate talk of ideas, of the world as it seems, as it was or maybe might be. Don’t crib from the web I want it from you not the rant of some blogger opinion miller who frames a fine phrase and ghost-writes or grandstands himself. Just tell me you opened it that something engaged you at least made you think, I’ll read that one day, when I have time.
Joan Michelson: Teacher Bilal Yemen, 2021 The girls’ teacher is a blind boy nine years old from the class on the floor below. He’s teaching his best two subjects: the Koran and natural science. He taps his stick near the hole made in the upper floor by a late night hit. The girls call, ‘A hole. Watch out.’ He taps until he finds the edge, steps back, and taps to start the class. Above the gunshots and explosions, well-aware that they could die in an hour or a minute, he speaks the lesson which the girls recite after him in loud chorus. He may be small but he’s composed and looks the part in a blue shirt that fits well and is button down. He’s proud to be chosen, proud of his vocation. His waving wand in his command, he smiles and does not slacken.
Arthur Russell: A Grievance Why didn’t you tell me about Amy Clampitt, Jay? There wasn’t time. Why didn’t you tell me about ‘there’s no time?’ There were more important things. Oh, fertheloveagod, Jay, what could be more important than Amy Clampitt and the lack of time? Arthur, Arthur, you get this way sometimes, and I hardly know what to say. She’s beautiful, Jay. Her poems are the most tangible things ever made from words. Frankly, I wasn’t that into her. Did you ever see a piece of jewelry in a shop and your mind wandered back to imagine its manufacture and forward to the look on the face of the person you’d give it to, then circled back to how you’d get the money to buy it? this little sapphire, held by low, scuffed prongs that seemed to be much more. I’ve seen such things, Arthur, yes. Many, and not just in Amy Clampitt. I’ve seen them from a table in an outdoor café when a parade of striking workers holding banners with violent red lettering came up the boulevard as my waiter in a black vest and long white apron brought me espresso and a sugar cube, and an ambulance carrying my fear roared through to the hospital of the present. Of course, I have seen such things. I don’t mean to argue, Jay, but you should’ve told me. Arthur, there was no possible way to tell you such things. Remember who you were at the time, and how little we knew each another. I was just your teacher. We both had other things on our minds. I was away from Martha for semesters on end. Then you should have shown me, Jay. You should have taken me to the confluence of the Ohio and the Wabash Rivers. Really? There were so many confluences you could have shown me. I did my best, and I’m not making excuses, but you’re being too hard on me, Arthur, and it’s not the first time. Remember when you got to Syracuse and wrote to me how the program sucked, and Phil Booth sucked, and Hayden Carruth sucked, and asked how I could have recommended it? Now you literally call me back from the dead to complain that I didn’t tell you about Amy Clampitt or the swift passage of time. What am I to make of that? I’m sorry, Jay. It may sound strange, but I was so excited about Amy Clampitt, and you were the first one I thought to tell. And I do respect the fact that you’re dead. I get angry that you died a dementia-related death. You think you’re angry? Listen, Arthur, I believe in you, and I’ve always appreciated your talent and your drive. But Phil Booth is dead, Hayden Carruth is dead, Amy Clampitt is dead, Tom Lux is dead, Jane Cooper is dead, Jack Gilbert is dead. Not to mention Chidiock Tichborne and Robert Herrick, and he wrote gather ye rose buds while ye may. I’m dead. All these people you loved in this weird way of yours, are dead. And you’re alive, man.
Marty McKenna: Untitled you could say i’m glad i brought you together today, round a good wood fire and stew and coffee and apple pie. and words with aunts and an uncle, one missing. and it does feel nice in my silent wicker coffin. a room to myself, my first night off; i’m resting finally from the rain, the wind, the cold february evening. you go home and i hope you drink, for that’s what i would do, sip silent grapes; wait for someone to speak to me, hold all my gone words, most dear.
Mark McDonnell: Icon After the requiem mass I think: If we meet again, how will we not hate her for her happiness in heaven without us? But I say nothing, sensing that the dead carry out deft manoeuvres in our heads. We children had to toss our grief quickly onto her coffin, where it would lie in wait for its own resurrection. The next day, my mother re-appeared – face frozen-serene – looking down from the wall above the television.
Stuart Pickford: Running with the Dead I run through the valley and the valley runs through me. Beyond the lane with the alpacas and monkey puzzle tree, twice it levels out, then goes again. I lean forward, thrust out my chin and somehow I’m thinking of you, Joyce. You’ve ditched your duffle coat and scarf for something bright to match your smile. You’re chugging like an old loco, Bugger this—meet you—the Green Hut— a cuppa. It’s a false summit, I know, but press on. A week after you’d retired, you couldn’t hold a knife and fork. Soon after, at your request, we left the church to Forever Young. The gradient loads on the weight, rips my breath but I hum in my head, May you build a ladder to the stars, climb on every rung and when I top-out, my pace quickens; lifting my head, I’m caught by the sun.
Judith Wozniak: Between Times My shadow is missing in panes of sunlight along the corridor, the lady mopping the floor doesn’t stop for a chat as I slip by, the automatic doors fail to open for me — I try again. Overtaken by two lads walking too close, swinging their rucksacks, I follow in their wake to the lift and find I am in the flat. You are at the window looking out over the halted traffic, the blue lights still flashing. Mendelssohn’s violin concerto full volume drowned out the noise. I’m not back. You glance at your watch — it’s too soon to worry.
Jacob Goldstein: For Henrietta Is it memory or re-spun family tales keeping you here? So much life has passed; birthday cakes, diplomas. Once we played on the driveway; sticky dark asphalt nipped at my pink bare feet. Blackest ribbon snake, glided through untamed grass, like a dream so quick, so close, so wild. Owl glasses magnified the bluest eyes beaming pride. Hologram materialized presence of light and smoke. Thin in form, appeared translucent like gauze with scents of melting wax, baby powder, and sweat. Once I saw you clear and solid from my car seat, floating above. I called your name. Our parents’ gasps, like a quick gust of wind shot through the silence, disappearing as fast as you. We visited the green hilled park, stones lined up like jagged teeth. Your name ancient characters, numbers without meaning. I balance a smooth white stone on top, walking toward the path, holding father’s soft warm hand, turning back like Lot’s wife, but nothing was there.
Peter Daniels: East Bedfont Strange to me that I hadn’t noticed the date, the eve of the fifth anniversary of my mother’s death, the day I chose to go to the village where she was born to look around at where her ashes at last will be deposited like an archive in a hall of memories: none of them my memories, but now belonging to me. Here’s the village, now a straggling suburb out on the edge of it all before the airport, but nice – you don’t notice warehouses and logistics parks: my gran would be at home. But she’s not here, her ashes left in Birmingham, where she lived with us. I was asked my worst influence: ‘My grandmother, she spoiled me.’ I was to replace her son, killed in the war, and her husband, my grandfather – already long dead, buried at that dead time I love, the lowest end of winter not yet spring. In the rich alluvial Thames Valley soil, the water table’s high, the digging fills with water, and a coffin splashes into it. My mother told me how her mother shuddered at that moment, a fear seemingly deeper than mourning, fear of what’s not nice for a burial. I took my own photo of the church I’ve known from photos – Saxon in origin, altered and added to over a thousand years, quirky behind enormous topiary peacocks. This villagey suburban niceness always where I was brought up to be, and yet I’ve never been here till my mother was dead. I still try to be nice. I’ve stopped on the way to something unrespectable the other side of the airport, on a day that happens to be the day before it comes to five years since my mother’s death, and her ashes still in their unceremonious cardboard box in the stiff grey paper bag in a corner of the bedroom, waiting for the soil.
George Freek: In The Darkness (After Li Po) Time falls like ashes. The moon is a boat drifting through eternity. In my mirror I see a non-entity, but if I were someone else, I don’t know who I’d be. When crickets lie in the grass, listening to the wind blow, do they hear a language only God can know? I don’t think so. My wife was here, she’s now dead. An owl hoots in the dark. Is he lonely or unfed? Life is a mystery. I finish my wine, and return to my bed, avoiding the darkness, as it passes over my head.
Frederick Pollack: The Cosmopolitan Emails An outside table near the dock. The boat heads back to my hotel at four. Smell of street-food, nothing I can eat, and of the mudflats and the muddy street. I walked to the monument, a cross, to the 1980 massacre (there isn’t one for the killings ten years later). The other names attend that of the priest who was also killed, an American. His countrymen, I gather, funded the dozen evangelical churches, they alone brightly painted, with cosmic ads. Otherwise it’s shops where bony men fix rusted fragmentary things, and women in multicolored, tribally-coded skirts, completely impassive, sew and cook. Soldiers look like their sons, whom the uniform lent another race. They aren’t, however, numerous here between massacres. I drink, from the bottle, a lukewarm bottled coke and gaze at the fields that climb, impossibly high, the sides of the volcano. A moment ago, two kids – he ten, his sister eight, that much I got – leaned on my table. He wanted to know where I was from, then what town, though I doubt he knew the name. I asked if he was in school (remembered “escuela”), then what his madre and padre did; I almost asked if they were still alive. Nothing. But I had the sense he was thinking intently. Her look seemed one of universal awe, which might turn at once to panic or shut down. He wanted a sip of my coke. I ordered two from the waiter, who tried to refuse; I insisted. And open them! The kids ran off upon receipt, but from the end of the block the boy cried, “See you later!” “We are the world,” I replied.
Bruce Morton: The Boat So, there he and she together sit, silent, each Alone, contemplating through their window The boat that years ago brought them here, Its disrepair, wondering if it can be salvaged, Or should be sold, or given up to a first-taker, Or just set adrift, a pyre to set afire, faux funeral. They despair the boat has so long languished, years Out of the water now since their last row, left overturned, Better to protect it, they say, from the daily elements— Weather, use, abuse, disuse. Its paint, faded, peels brittle As oakum seams bulge, revealing cracks in the hull. Oarlocks, Empty, have accrued a dull, gray patina. The oars long gone.
Sally Michaelson: East And West A man and woman are having sex against the bay window of a third-floor apartment A man smoking at the window in the apartment opposite wonders why they don’t notice him watching – between them guards, dogs, a wall, a wire – Sally Michaelson: Otto Weidt’s Workshop Otto’s workers are happy not to see the boar bristles they glue to rosewood handles used for the upkeep of coarse army uniforms when they should be the natural accoutrement for Berliners’ fine cashmere coats – Otto’s workers operating wire twisters and noisy machinery are happy not to hear the cacophony of bombs falling nor the screech of the cattle train wheels Note: Otto Weidt owned a broom and brush factory. He employed thirty predominantly
deaf and blind Jewish employees and protected them as best he could from deportation
to concentration camps by bribing Gestapo, forging papers and hiding his workers.
Shikhandin: Faith the dog waiting by the door, forever after the coffin’s been lowered smile-flit on a child’s face watching the train slip past the platform’s embrace a seed docile in its shallow grave, the soil turning to dust between road and traffic a house of worship on a mountain peak, with wind whipped backs and feet slippery on ice that destitute human hoisting the flag and singing the anthem with pride that debt-ridden place you call home – that brick and glass cave you believe you own the taproot you always wanted to grow, moist like the eyes of that dog by your door
Kathryn Southworth: A place of safety We were driving to the terminal when a message came up on the screen – sailing delayed, don’t come yet – damn, we’re already early. Then everything slowed and stopped, anxiety, then anguish, on the face of the driver to the left – perhaps he hadn’t heard delay was no bad thing. Then it was bad. ETA moved on and on, red dots on the sat screen thickened, every lane stopped, and for sure the boat was gone, long gone. Then it was worse, virtual routes exploded, everything shunted off the motorway in the same directionless direction, piled onto a roundabout with endless spokes like a virus round which nothing had moved in three hours, water gone, bladders bursting, sirens butting desperately through the eye of a needle. When a gap comes, take it, any road better than here, the fear amid abandoned journeys of the growing dark, of no way back, of no room anywhere on this eve of the bank holiday escape, of distant friends trying to find you sanctuary, haven, rescue, the bright hotel lights, noise of the bar, succour of beer, wine, risotto, and – backdrop to holidaying families – tv shots of Kabul… children by the airport gate ending their journeys in a sewage ditch – the desperate sanctuary of a transport plane beyond them.
Kathleen McPhilemy: While we wait Rain, not snow, is falling; ruts in the side field are tracks only of a tractor. The swampy ditch at the far fence is where the donkey foundered, but it was only a donkey and the wire that threads the wonky posts rustily together isn’t new. There are rabbits in the grass and pigeons, though a cruel wind has torn down trees, changed the landscape, but even that was only the wind. A plane turns above us heavily, effortfully, but it carries no bombs, is not at war.
John Mole: March 2022 Fingers freeze on the keyboard as snow falls in deserted streets. History stares at a blank screen as the future waits to be written. Today is a turmoil of courage and fear as cities prepare for tomorrow. Families welcome the dispossessed as they open their arms to strangers. Futility blazons its shameless plan as it falls from above on a child while the rest is not silence but anger as stained snow lies in the streets.
Ceinwen Haydon: Fealty He had to stay and fight, so he calmly said. For moments, she hated him, jealous of his fierce love of homeland – an interloper, inside their marriage bed. Their baby son needed his father, had just learnt dada, first words from his pretty lips. Fast asleep in her arms, on a packed train (the last one out), he dribbled on her sweat-stained blouse. His Teddy Bear clutched tight against his gently rattling chest. Packing hurriedly, she’d grabbed a photo of a former lover. Deep down she knew he also would have chosen country over exile. Even unto death. Exhausted, she wept. One day, her son might choose this, too.
John Bartlett: sunflowers need full sunshine (for Ukraine)
when missiles cracked open the ribs of sleeping Kyiv children carried their colouring books down into basements sunlight was betrayed when bedrooms exploded unexpectedly like party balloons, then sunlight was betrayed when blood stained the snow around Santa Sophia wisdom was betrayed when trains filled with fleeing families, carrying cats and dogs sunlight was betrayed in Lviv cathedral when men in bomber jackets and beanies bore Christ Crucified underground reverently as if newly dead to wait out the resurrection only then do we command you, the invading soldiers, ‘place these sunflower seeds in your pockets so flowers will bloom when you die and are buried in our soil’
Morelle Smith: Where I Live (March 14, 2022) These days are loud as wooden cartwheels over cobbles, over rutted rough ground, they thud and thump their way across the landscape of the day. In calm moments memories blister the rockpool surface of recall: The Maidan Memorial in Kyiv, autumnal stillness in Ostroh, the wide blue sky, the flat plain, and sunlight catches on a distant dome, golden as a rooster’s comb on fire. Bonfire scents of burning leaves, the ragged clumps of mistletoe hanging from trees. Perhaps these loud noises are the sounds of past colliding with the present, banging and thudding through the landscape of the day. Usually, where I live is very quiet, but today’s strong wind booms and crashes through the forest and an open gate somewhere bangs and pauses, slams again. I hear an urgent sound above me and look up – two geese are flying fast and sounding the alarm, two blades severing the silk of sky. No, nothing much happens here, Just the thud and thump and crack of passing time.
Martin Bennett: Last Bar Open, Odessa, 2022 On the video-jukebox John and Yoko’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’ finds no takers; instead clips from ‘The Roof Concert’, John resurrected and full flow, filling the tense yet vibrant air with ‘Get back, back to where you once belonged.’ Locals on the floor below soon singing along in Anglo- Ukranian-and/or-Russian; quaffing beer, whisky, vodka from bottles which tomorrow may serve for Molotov cocktails, encores in swab and petrol: ‘Get back to where you once belonged…’ Martin Bennett: History Report, Spring Term 2022 ‘As enthusiastic as he’s misguided, C-minus-minus. Like Pope once said, A little learning is a dangerous thing.’ Isolated in his dacha, student X for homework mutilates quiet text, between the lines sets hospitals burning, down the margin scribbles ‘Nyet, nyet,’ and rewrites fact in erroneous red.
Phil Dunkerley: Vladiburg The Neva, broad and bright in sunlight, the Fort, dark with its portraits of death, the colonnaded Hermitage, its purloined treasure, the people, European, seemingly content. Macho-man, ubiquitous as the air. The cheerful boats full of hard currencies, the children smiling and waving from the bridges, the tourist-shop dolls – clones inside each other, the rehabilitated churches full of placebos. Him, like a strong signal on every mobile. The selfies taken with accidental backgrounds, the squat apartments in drab suburbs, the alien cryptic Cyrillic graffiti on walls, the swift-flowing river, carrying history away. And him, written inside every mind.
Ian Heffernan: A Dance on the Edge of Civilisation Let me say first that this is a dance On the edge of civilisation Among ruined apartment blocks Whose acrid gullets hold The stub of a missile Or the stubs of life. * I see a female soldier carrying The burden of her courage The way a bird carries The burden of its flight. * I help an elderly woman Drag her fragility Up a muddy slope. Her face confesses grief The way a gun confesses its bullet. * The way a gun confesses its bullet, The way a wounded animal Confesses its death. * I hear a child’s incantations, Plain as the sound of bells at dawn. * A broken remark, here and there. The shadow of a gesture. * I know the unwisdom That is in language. I know the echo, not the voice. * I have seen the murdered Rise up and embrace their death. Time ticks in my blood. Forgetting is a skill I’ll unlearn. * Why do I meet myself in sleep? * I don’t want to be a slave To exile and carry it in my voice. * I’d like to say That where a wall collapses A door will rise. But I don’t know if that’s true. * As I ran through the darkness A drunken chain link fence, Low-set and black, almost tripped me. At the edge of the forest I found a place to hide. * On nights like this when dogs lie awake And dials waver and fall still, The hunted are cautious, the hunters too. * Signals – their broken dialogue. * Here missiles nose the skyline After dark, here history Is stifled by the past. * Outside: three brand new mopeds Piled against a wall, someone Squinting at a roadblock, A fox scored into its own shadow. Inside: the contorted ceiling, Two frozen gloves, a frozen brassiere. * Everything is capable of life If given long enough: A chair, a stove, a drawing pin. But not these bodies here. * Absurdity runs rings around us. * Tell me about the time you woke In a windowless bar at nightfall. And the challenge to fight in the cellar. Tell me about the bleakness of names. * I reached a makeshift hut At a fork in the road Where one road rises. Inside I found a girl. Restless and unique, she wore A blue-grey dress without a coat. When I offered a cigarette Her fingers shivered into life. * She said, ‘I resign my name Or, at least, its clarity.’ I said, ‘You’ve hidden yourself In yourself.’ Later, I watched the play of light On the lower road, and thought of how We’re cornered by what we know. * Birches, path, village, bus terminus. * The crippled historian with the water jug Tells us that war is the conspiracy Of ignorance and wisdom. And, later, that history itself is a rat’s nest Of illusions, or an empty bottle Kicked around a square. * I owe you neither death nor life.
John Bartlett is the author of eight books -fiction, non-fiction and poetry. In 2019 his first Chapbook The Arms of Men was published and Songs of the Godforsaken in June 2020. Awake at 3am, his full collection, was released by Ginninderra Press. He was the winner of the 2020 Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize and Highly Commended in the 2021 Mundaring Poetry Competition. He reviews and podcasts at beyondtheestuary.com Twitter: @beyond_estuary
Martin Bennett lives in Rome where he teaches, translates and proofreads, and also contributes occasional articles to Wanted in Rome. He was 2015 winner of the John Dryden translation prize.is the author of eight books -fiction, non-fiction and poetry. In 2019 his first Chapbook The Arms of Men was published and Songs of the Godforsaken in June 2020. Awake at 3am, his full collection, was released by Ginninderra Press. He was the winner of the 2020 Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize and Highly Commended in the 2021 Mundaring Poetry Competition. He reviews and podcasts at beyondtheestuary.com Twitter: @beyond_estuary
Alison Campbell, from Aberdeen, now lives in London. She has poems in various publications including Artemis, Alchemy Spoon, The Poetry Village, Indigo Dreams, London Grip, Green Ink, Quince and Pennine Platform. She was shortlisted in the Cinnamon Press pamphlet competition 2021. Twitter: Alison Campbell @alisonhaspoems
Stephen Claughton’s poems have appeared widely in print and online. He has published two pamphlets, The War with Hannibal (Poetry Salzburg, 2019) and The 3-D Clock (Dempsey & Windle, 2020). He reviews for London Grip and The High Window. Links to his reviews, poems and pamphlets can be found at www.stephenclaughton.com
Phil Connolly is married and lives near York. He taught for many years in North Africa & the Middle East. He was shortlisted in the Wordsworth Trust Competition and has been published in anthologies and magazines including Dream Catcher, London Grip, Stand, The High Window,& The North.
Bob Cooper worked in Education for many years. He’s had 7 pamphlets published – six of them winning competitions. He’s also had two full length collections published; the latest, Everyone Turns, with Pindrop in 2017 – see: http://www.pindroppress.com/books/Everyone%20Turns.html He’s retired and now lives on the Wirral
Peter Daniels obtained a Creative Writing PhD at Goldsmiths with his third poetry collection, My Tin Watermelon (Salt, 2019). He has translated Vladislav Khodasevich from Russian (Angel Classics, 2013), and wrote the obscene Ballad of Captain Rigby (Personal Pronoun, 2013). www.peterdaniels.org.uk
Brian Docherty lives in East Sussex, where he is the Beach Bard of St. Leonards. He has published 8 collections, most recently Blue to the Edge: for Rosemary, in Remembrance (2020) and The View From the Villa Delirium (2021).
Phil Dunkerley lives in Bourne, Lincolnshire where he runs a local poetry group. He takes part in open-mic readings and other activities whenever he gets the chance. A fair number of his poems have made their way into magazines, webzines and anthologies – London Grip, Magma, Poetry Salzburg Review, Acumen and IS&T, among others. He reviews for Orbis and has translated poems into English from both Spanish and Portuguese.
Sally Festing’s work has won prizes and featured in 40 different prestigious magazines. (see sallyfesting.info) She’s negotiating a publisher for what will be a seventh ‘poetry’, a pamphlet called Hanging On.
Mary Franklin’s poems have been published in numerous print and online journals including Ink Sweat and Tears, Iota, London Grip, Nine Muses Poetry, The Stare’s Nest and Three Drops from a Cauldron. Her tanka have appeared in journals in Australia, Canada, UK and USA. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia
George Freek is a poet/playwright living in Illinois. His plays are published by Playscripts and Off The Wall Plays. His poems are published in numerous journals and reviews. His poem “Written At Blue Lake” was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Charlotte Gann is an editor from Sussex. She has two books from HappenStance: Noir (2016) and The Girl Who Cried (2020). Her pamphlet, The Long Woman (Pighog), was shortlisted for the 2012 Michael Marks Award. At the moment she’s exploring developing a project called The Understory Conversation: https://theunderstoryconversation.com.
Jacob Goldstein is a student at University of Florida, Gainesville, and just completed his first poetry course. He has never submitted a poem or been published before.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, Leaves On Pages, Memory Outside The Head and Guest Of Myself are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.
Stuart Handysides is a former general practitioner and medical editor. His poems and short stories have appeared in anthologies as well as various magazines, and been shortlisted in several competitions. He has organised the Ware Poets competition for several years
Ceinwen 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 believes everyone’s voice counts
Ian Heffernan was born just outside London, where he still lives. He studied at UCL and SOAS and works with the homeless. His poetry has been published recently in The High Window, The Raintown Review, Morphrog, London Grip, Acumen, Ink Sweat & Tears, South Bank Poetry and elsewhere.
Stuart Henson’s Beautiful Monsters is due later this year. He is editor of Bold Heart, Shoestring Press’s tribute to John Gohorry, published in May. stuarthenson.co.uk
Pam Job writes poetry all the time since she started 12 years ago. Last year she won the Grey Hen Competition, was Highly Commended in Ver Poets and the Welsh Poetry competitions and Commended in Teignmouth and the Crabbe Memorial competitions. She feels encouraged by this to continue.
Neil Leadbeater is an author, essayist, poet and critic living in Edinburgh, Scotland. His work has been published widely in anthologies and journals both at home and abroad. His publications include Librettos for the Black Madonna (White Adder Press, 2011); The Worcester Fragments (Original Plus, 2013); The Loveliest Vein of Our Lives (Poetry Space, 2014); The Fragility of Moths (editura pim, Ia?i, Romania, 2014); Sleeve Notes (editura pim, Ia?i, Romania,, 2016); Penn Fields (Littoral Press, 2019); Reading Between the Lines (Littoral Press, 2020) and an e-book, Grease-banding The Apple Trees (Rafaelli Editore, Rimini, Italy, 2015). His work has been translated into French, Dutch, Nepali, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish.
After a long career in industry which took him to live and work in Barcelona, Miami and Cambridge, England, Mark McDonnell retrained as a psychotherapist and began to give more time to his writing. He has been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears and Rialto
Marty McKenna is an independent Irish poet, born in Tyrone, now living and writing in Belfast. Marty has poems published in both online and print journals. He is currently submitting work for publication which will inform his second chapbook gently, but a dream October 2022. Marty is a neurodivergent poet.
Kathleen McPhilemy grew up in Belfast but now lives in Oxford. She has published three books of poetry. Her poems appear widely in magazines in print and online. She is currently hosting a monthly poetry podcast magazine, Poetry Worth Hearing available on anchor.fm and Google.
Sally Michaelson is a retired conference interpreter in Brussels. Her poems have been published in The High Window, London Grip, The Lake, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Lighthouse,The Jewish Literary Journal, The Bangor Literary Journal, Algebra of Owls, Squawk Back, Lilith, The Seventh Quarry, The New Londoner, Hevria, Amethyst and Dreich. Her debut collection The Boycott was published by The High Window in 2021
An American, long settled in England, Joan Michelson has published two collections and several chapbooks. For details joanmichelsonpoet.com
John Mole lives in St Albans. He has been a teacher, reviewer and broadcaster and for many years ran The Mandeville Press with Peter Scupham. He has received the Gregory and Cholmondeley Awards, and the Signal Award for his poetry for children. His most recent collection is Thin Air (Shoestring Press,2021 )
Bruce Morton now splits his time between Arizona and Montana. He was formerly a librarian.
Mary Mulholland’s poems have been published in many magazine, such as, AMBIT, Perverse, MIROnline, and in several anthologies. She was recently highly commended in AMBIT’s 2021 Competition, shortlisted in Live Canon, 2021, and twice placed in Sentinel. Her collaborative pamphlet (with Simon Maddrell and Vasiliki Albedo), All About Our Mothers is published by Nine Pens and her forthcoming pamphlet, What the Sheep Taught Me will be published by Live Canon.
Rosemary Norman lives in London and has worked mainly as a librarian. One poem, Lullaby, is much anthologised and her fourth collection, Solace, is due from Shoestring Press later this year. Since 1995 she has collaborated with video artist Stuart Pound and their work can be seen on Vimeo
Stuart Pickford lives in Harrogate, England, and teaches in a local comprehensive school. He is married with three children. His second collection, Swimming with Jellyfish, was published by smith/doorstop.
Frederick Pollack is author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure and Happiness, both Story Line Press; the former to be reissued 2022 by Red Hen Press. Two collections of shorter poems, A Poverty Of Words, (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape With Mutant (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). He has appeared in Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Magma (UK), Bateau, Fulcrum, Chiron Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, etc. Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire Review, Mudlark, Rat’s Ass Review, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, London Grip (2020), etc.
Arthur Russell is the co-leader of the Red Wheelbarrow Poets of Rutherford, New Jersey. His poem, “Jaime,” won second place in the 2021 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, and his poem “Unencumbered” was runner up for Brooklyn Poets Poem of the Year for 2021.
Shikhandin is the pen name of an Indian author. She writes for both adults and children. Her books include, Impetuous Women (Penguin-RandomHouse-India), After Grief – Poems (Red River, India), Immoderate Men (Speaking Tiger, India), Vibhuti Cat (Duckbill-Penguin India) among others. Her stories and poems have been published worldwide, and she has received awards and recognition in India and abroad.
Jane Simpson is a poet, historian and writer of liturgy based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her poems have most recently appeared in Hamilton Stone Review, 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 and her website, www.poiema.co.nz
Morelle Smith has lived and worked in the Balkans and currently lives in Scotland. Her latest book, The Buoyancy of the Craft, is a biographical novel about the Swiss writer and traveller Annemarie Schwarzenbach (diehard, 2021). She blogs occasionally at rivertrain.blogspot.co.uk
Elizabeth Smither’s new collection of poems, My American Chair will be published later this year by Auckland University Press and MadHat (USA).
Kathryn Southworth is a retired academic who recently moved from London to Stroud in Gloucestershire to be a riparian (stream dweller). She has published a collection with Indigo Dreams, two pamphlets with Dempsey and Windle and her latest work is A Pure Bead, a pamphlet with Paekakariki Press on the death of Virginia Woolf
Paul Stephenson has published three pamphlets: Those People (Smith/Doorstop), The Days that Followed Paris (HappenStance) and Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press). He co-edited Magma issue 70 on ‘Europe’. He co-curates Poetry in Aldeburgh and lives between Cambridge and Brussels. He interviews poets at paulstep.com. Instagram: paulstep456 / Twitter: @stephenson_pj
Born in Ashton-under-Lyne in 1943, Rod Whitworth has done a number of jobs including teaching maths (for 33 years) and conducting traffic censuses (the job that kept him on the streets). He now lives in the Garden City (aka Oldham) and is still tyrannised by commas.
Judith Wozniak has an MA in Writing Poetry. Her poems have appeared in London Grip The Alchemy Spoon, South, Sideways, The Frogmore Papers and These are the Hands NHS Anthology. She won first prize in the Hippocrates Competition, 2020. Her pamphlet, Patient Watching, was published by Hedgehog Press in January 2022.
Gareth Writer-Davies lives in Brecon, Wales. Shortlisted Bridport Prize (2014 and 2017) Prole Laureate (2017) Commended Welsh Poetry Competition (2015) Highly Commended (2017) Publications Bodies (2015) Cry Baby (2017) The Lover’s Pinch (2018) The End (2019) Coming soon Wysg (Arenig Press)