Aug 31 2022
The Autumn 2022 issue of LONDON GRIP NEW POETRY features:
*Michael W. Thomas *Hilary Mellon *Lisa Reily *Lesley Burt
*Bruce Barnes *Anna Mioduchowska *Martin Bennett *Robert Cole
*Alan Dunnett *Josh Ekroy * Sarah Lawson *Philip Dunkerley
*Michael Caylo-Baradi *Maria C. McCarthy *Simon Alderwick *Pam Thompson
*Judith Wozniak *Rustin Larson *Tony Dawson *Clifford Liles
*Marilyn Ricci *Kate Noakes *Jackson *Nadira Wallace
*Norton Hodges *Sue Wallace-Shaddad *Chrissy Banks *Gordon Scapens
*David Keyworth *Jon Kemsley *Keith Nunes *Rachel Clyne
*Jill Sharp *Benjamin Rosser *Anne Bailey *Lydia Harris
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 Autumn 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
This issue begins with railway journeys involving hasty departures ahead of approaching threats and arrivals in places where there is no guarantee of a welcome. Even while in transit the traveler may be troubled by disturbing images beyond the train windows or the knowledge that the so-called “permanent way” can be easily and arbitrarily done away with.
Yet, as subsequent poems also remind us, staying put is not always an option. Sometimes the status quo is subject to external forces of change – but should one simply wait to see if matters will really turn out for the better? On the other hand, existing conditions may be a consequence of internal restraints imposed by self-appointed and possibly obsolete authorities (temporal or spiritual). Should these be resisted? And, if so, how and by whom?
Our autumn poets engage, directly or obliquely, with such questions in a variety of forms and settings. We hope our readers will find some stimulating, helpful or even comforting insights relevant to the present uncertain times.
London Grip poetry editor
Forward to first poet
Michael W. Thomas: Like the first bird A man gets off a train in a town he doesn’t know. Already others are pulling their mornings around them. Light hollows channels for first footsteps, the drag of crates to hold shop doors ajar. Greetings are tuned as to that very moment a week ago, crossing beeps haunt their little green men on the usual frozen jog. Miles back, the man left his history handkerchief-neat in the buffet-car, alongside a sandwich with more than the usual fight. Now he makes first use of himself, stares with birthday eyes at bellied awnings, a parked van letting its indicators goof, a group, small, anxious, elderly beneath a sign for recycling. Soon he might lose himself in wonder at the tumbling heart of a moment and try big things like buying a paper or looking for a street whose name he hears on the ripening air and likes the sound of. Or perhaps he’ll stop a body and tell them such bits of his name as he remembers, ask how they go about expanding till they touch the sides of each hour. The man thinks of someone uncovering all he was where he tucked it against the leavings of bread – and helplessly laying off what they were to become what they can’t yet know. And hopes that, even so, they’ll by and by swing down into the day as to a child with open gaze who spreads hands and says, forget all that…just look…just look.
Hilary Mellon: The Station this place again of meetings and farewells where trains arrive where trains depart and old lovers wait forever on the platforms of the heart
Lisa Reily: against windows breathing interspersed with the rattle of a train, bare trees spattered with nests, a lady in a carriage crying into a phone; wet brick of red, stone-crumbled stories. a mouse sits stunned in a dirty yellow dustpan, blinking eyes slow from its shock rescue; i take it outside, whisper to it, gently, but when it sees the night sky and damp grass, it leaps ten times its height, smacks onto the ground, before it scurries into dry leaves against the house. blond sandstone buildings, grey hills, canals and steel locks; her father is dead. silver thread, a shiny scarf, like a gypsy. £5 for a hand car wash in a tesco carpark. mouse by the front door, still warm, a shrunken version of its former self, eye sockets hollow, little legs frozen in a scurry. i remember the pigeon i rescued on the road home, surrounded, attacked by other birds; when i cradled it in my jumper on the front seat of my car, it suddenly awoke, flapped desperately against the windows; i nearly drove into a bush. green fields and sheep, an owl’s silhouette in the woods, doors open and close to a slim woman in beige trousers and a burgundy lambswool coat; i get into her land rover and apologise for my muddy boots on the car mat. oh don’t worry, i’ve taken it to the eastern europeans, she says, and we usually get so mucky when we go out beating. there’s something to be said about the friendliness of the country. beating gives you a chance to be in the outdoors, to see the beauty of wildlife, meet new people, flush unwary birds into view. shoes fused to feet, surgically removed, a romanian man is electrocuted in a shower, a brown-skinned girl waits behind a caravan. dawn stairs, a tiny grey shrew, its clawed toes, pointed snout i’ve never seen before, stiff and weighty from death; and a flailing robin caught in the teeth of our neighbour’s cat.
Lesley Burt: The old line Alice opens the cottage door and blinks into acutely angled sunlight. The railway was death to wild boar and unicorns, she says. The door swings in sharp breeze, hinges squeak for lack of WD40 and rooks croak undertones. The jogger, who paused to stretch outside her holly hedge, looks up. Sycamore leaves shiver and fall – their shadows waver over high-viz T-shirt and bright white Nikes. His path winds ahead, a collage of bronze, sepia, tan, mustard. You are heading the wrong way, says Alice. Believe me, I have tried to escape among the oaks,
silver birches and sweet chestnuts,yet all ways bring me to the cottage.The jogger,
alarmed, checks his laces, begins a warm-up run-on-the-spot. No, he says, I am
familiar with the path that was a railway line,torn up long ago by Beeching.Here’s
the thing, says Alice. You seem a mere matter of fabric. He sprints away without looking back. I, on the
other hand, Alice tells the rooks,am in and of words. I make the story and therefore
its meaning. The jogger disappears where brambles and beeches lean into his path.
Alice hurries to the gate as if she would give chase but finds herself back on the
doorstep.Rooks settle beside tousled remains of nests,witness the closing of the door.
Bruce Barnes: Suitcases at Sambor, near Lviv, (circa 1900) (Imagining an incident on my grandfather’s journey to Germany,
following anti-Jewish pogroms in the Ukraine) It’s his destination as the last century slams like a train door to begin a new one; the train on the other platform starts the illusion that he and the world are on the move. As steam disperses, a station sign finds a name for itself – but who is there to read cyrillic? The crowd, like golems, go in a puff of smoke. They return with their burdens of leaving, edging towards an exit or intending to travel on. Some seem half-monstrous with kitbags concealing their faces, others overwhelmed by their knapsacks creep forward, each movement presaging a fall. He’s travelling light with valuables on his person and a suitcase that snugs his palm. He has written his name along its lip as far as that last thin ‘R’. Destination labels have decayed to none, catches are stiff so thieves won’t open them. He recalls packing the book he was reading, a change of clothes, and a folded prayer shawl. The crowd, though gridlocked, parts at a single pristine suitcase, its shell unscarred by travel; sunlight laughs with its brass caps at each corner. He asks the throng, knowing there will be no takers; he outstares the case to invoke its owner and contents watches as facades of cities burst open.
Anna Mioduchowska: Listening Sirens in a besieged city don’t bother with pretence. To hear their terrible song is to feel time scroll at breakneck speed, to grab what is most dear and beg the earth for shelter, it is to hang onto the nearest load-bearing wall as you once hung onto your father’s neck at a fireworks display crowning a perfect summer day, your mother’s soft hands cupped over your ears, it is to be torn between wishing for warm beeswax to block all sound, and straining each of the thirty thousand nerve cells inside your cochlea to estimate the speed of the missile whistling toward you.
Martin Bennett: Outside Kharkiv After a photograph by Paolo Pellegrin Further movement denied, straddling one side of the road a hideous chassis, buckled tracks, charred wheels severed from their gears At the other side the decapitated turret, flattish, plated and scaled like the pate of some Jurassic reptile’s – Gawping roundly upward, the twin now hatchless holes in which stood or crouched its symbiotic brain and eyes – A vacant set of tubes – Deadly proboscis dead in turn, direly diagonal to evacuated cottages – Mortar still wet, a neat suddenly uncompleted stretch of wall – Although it’s May, birch-trees as if afraid to put forth leaves – Splinter and tangle – Colours drained to grey, desolately Baroque – In the background what might or might not be a church’s spire
Robert Cole: Ikons They haunted the meads; beyond the kissing gate In the churchyard, holy holy of heavenly angels Those tombstone angels singing in a misericord; The belfry ringing a carillon for our wedding day Stained glass saints in turquoise silk & lapis lazuli; Spangled in the shadow of a cedar of Lebanon – In St Stephen’s vestry the elements made ready Fragments of wafer the wine assessed by hagioscope Priestcraft dating from the church of Constantinople; Fighting the infidel on the field of Megiddo - Crossing the mountains of the Pyrenees, a vision Of Our Lady witnessing the crucifixion – on the road To the hillside: feldspar, onyx, lunar eclipse in an ogive; Galilee Galileo’s vision of paradise, encircled heaven.
Alan Dunnett: Fight with an Angel Genesis 32: 22-32 Extremely reluctant to commit to this on the grounds that I might lose. Note: address this worldly sense of status. He's standing still, smiling pleasantly: condescension, nothing less. I would like to crush him - but how? Note: if I leave now, it will look bad. Address. Address. Goddamn. I walk up to him, set my leg behind his and bend him back. He never stops staring with a smile but, as he resists me, I see some angelic sweat starting which smells of ambergris on the turn. He clasps my shoulder and my throat and makes to twist me. Note: if I give now, it will be too soon. People are watching. I stare at his stare and smile and bend his knee. The hard flesh of the back of his leg goes over my leg, which is rooted to the ground. And now it is unfair for time is stilled and the sky becomes solid and then tears apart. I hear loud, uneven voices. Note: don't give up. I bend his knee again although my hip is out.
Josh Ekroy: Private Prayer Please note that Paternoster Square is a private space. It is the rented home of London’s Stock Exchange. You may enter the area, but there is no automatic “Public Right Of Way”, and permission can be withdrawn with- out notice. You may walk through, and enjoy a game of ping pong should you wish, but Security Guards will remove you if it is deemed necessary. Be aware that the owners have exclusive rights over the Paternoster brand. Accordingly, no-one may exploit it without written permission, regardless of whether they use the Latin or English versions. It is therefore a breach of the law to recite “The Our Father”, or any part thereof. Any person intoning, chanting or uttering it may incur a fine or imprisonment. As a gesture of good will, The Dean and Chapter of nearby St Paul’s have been granted a special licence to include the petition in their services. But this will be revoked if it is deployed for any purpose except that of religious tourism.
Sarah Lawson: Wivel’s Wife, a triptych “I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” Virginia Woolf in A Room of One’s Own I. The priest showed us some pages the monks had made With their quills, goose-given, and liquid that dried In many shapes. The priest could look from side To side and say the words the monks had laid Among the shapes. The priest said they might fade— The colours bright with sense, the pages wide— And even if the men who wrote them died, The words were always. Things passed, he said, words stayed. Going home, my husband Wivel said That all the same you had to make those lines Speak, and what if all the men were dead Who knew the secret of what our priest divines? The yellowed page is dumb, the meaning dark, If you can’t hear the meaning in the mark. II. But then I said to Wivel, “Why can’t we “Take lessons from the priest and learn to read “Those marks?” Then Wivel laughed, “You think that we’d “Have any chance? They’re not for us to see “And understand, and not for women!” he Winked at me as though I agreed It was a fact that women would not need To learn those secrets, least of all, not me. But I thought otherwise. I got a nun To teach me letters, show me how the words Are made and how to line them up to run Across a page in ordered docile herds. Wivel was proudly cross and inward stung When I wrote some poems in our local tongue. III. I wrote more poems, learned to make them mean. Some were private, some were songs we sang. The more I wrote the more I got the hang Of writing silent sounds that could be seen. I wrote on parchment, paper, vellum, wax, I wrote for friends and strangers both; I wrote Some witty ditties full of lines to quote. I wrote about emotions, deeds, and facts. A nobleman was touched, commissioned more, But soon they went their independent rounds Without a name. Who chose, and on what grounds, The words to read, their author to ignore? The words of Wivel’s wife achieved some fame, But they went down in history minus name. Sarah Lawson: Suppose Princip Had Missed People would say later, a forgettable footnote, an insignificant detail, that a minor royal from some country or other had nearly been shot once sitting in his car, being driven through streets in some city many years ago. Only historians of irrelevant anecdotes have ever heard of the gunman with poor aim who only managed to dent the gas tank and then was collared by the police, who gave him a good talking to, silly boy, and he promised not to try it again.
Philip Dunkerley: The Great Garcez Circus of Cognitive Dissonance With a small-boy mentality, the small boy sneaks in under the flap of the Big Top. Above, unknown to him, the main truss holding it up is a misconception. Passing under the seats, he squeezes through into a gangway of dissimulation and finds a place between a couple of wrong ideas and a conditional verb. The lights come up with a great fantasy of trumpets. Clauses with red noses go round and round on monocycles, spotlights circle like self-delusion. The ring-master stands in the centre of the ‘O’, whipping up inconsistencies. Then the first act comes on, the Globe of Errors with doubtful assumptions. A man, dressed in blatant mistakes, drives in and out on an unlikely event as stories full of half-truths shoot out with loud explosions from the exhaust pipe. One of the clauses is caught in an inadvertently mistaken position and, to general hilarity, trips on a misunderstanding and lands on a wrong tack. Next comes the high wire act of rumours, half-truths and risky forecasts. A beautiful girl appears in a misapprehension highlighted against a halo effect . She steps carefully, anxious not to disturb the crowd’s subjunctive mood, and reaches the far side safely to the sound of excessive crossed purposes. After they erect a cage of denials and tensions, in comes the black puma louring at the crowd with incongruity and false premises. The trainer appears, wearing a silver article of faith and a black mix-up. He cracks his narrative fallacy; the beast sits up and displays feelings of aggressive over-confidence. The crowd goes wild, the small boy thrills with discrepancy and false variance. To thunderous applause, the Magnificent Meganomics materialises amid smoke and mirrors and performs a validity illusion with double contradictions; no one notices his misconstruction. He feigns several clashes of disparity. The grand finale brings back the main clauses on a wild goose chase. Everyone thrills to wrong predictions and hindsight illusions. Question marks explode on all sides. Misjudgements, misbeliefs and miscalculations throw themselves about. Dazed by deception the small boy escapes back to reality.
Michael Caylo-Baradi: The Last Show The circus glides into another night of empty seats, into another family walking towards the exit, looking bored like the woman tending the ticket-box, curling her hair around the movie on her mobile phone, around the usual plot, where the elephant in the room has finally made some noise
Maria C. McCarthy: The caramel cows of County Clare The colour of an Everlasting Toffee Strip they melt into fudge if licked. Feasting slowly on the deep green, their milk falls as soft brown cream, swirled by sudden Burren rain, churned by Atlantic winds. Maria C. McCarthy: The Wild Atlantic Way The windsculpted trees of the Burren bow, burdened like shawled old women Flashes of yellow draped with seaweed fingers grip in the limestone grikes A rucksacked hiker strides straight-backed, rainhood drawn tight heading for Fanore
Simon Alderwick: any day now When the sun rises you best be ready. A passport, a gun, five thousand dollars. Keep telling yourself you can start anew. Life begins in your head. Count to ten. A passport, a gun, four thousand dollars. You must follow the system. Please sign here. Keep telling yourself nothing is real. It will never happen to you. You're not on the system. Please wait here. A finger presses a panic button. What happens next is anybody's guess. The sound of rain. The aftermath. A finger squeezes, a trigger, deletes. Air escapes your lungs, birds fly. The sound of rain. And after that? The sun rises, a new day starts. Simon Alderwick: the kids the kids are sleeping when you leave them. you leave an imprint on their foreheads. bruise their tiny hearts. will they be healed when you return? no one can see the weight you carry. you walk thru airport security, standing naked as they scan you. does it show you are a father? that you left your kids at home? you talk into your smartphone. you smile into the camera. the kids are getting older. technology is good. you’re walking on a sandy beach. so much sand, so much time. another day off, another day you called in sick. you’re doing it for something. you’re doing it for them. not all sacrifices are visible. yours, or theirs, or mine.
Pam Thompson: Another poem called ‘Absence’ She had no idea she was the only child in school who had never been on a plane or whose parents didn’t own a car. She travelled in her head though. The science lab was Mexico, the lit Bunsen-burners, leaping fountains. In the art room, Mr Herbert was Vincent, telling her not to believe everything she read about him and if she wanted to paint skies like that, with whirling planets and several suns she damn well could. She roamed best on the page watching her new handwriting flow in black ink, a trail of backtracking ants. So what if she was the only child reading out her story on the school-hall stage, the caretaker pretending not to hear.
Judith Wozniak: One Day At school, they call it her auntie anorak. It’s so big it slides off the bony hanger of her shoulders. They laugh at the colour, sticking plaster pink. Her best friend has a strawberry red coat she lets her stroke, sink her fingers into the soft pile. Her teacher brings them food parcels in her car, sometimes she slips in a storybook from class. There’s a spot on the kerb, outside the Co-op, her brother found, where they can pick up free Wi-Fi and watch Stampy on YouTube with the old phone he uses for homework. When she feels sad, he tells her one day he will be rich, with a gold Mercedes, like the man they hide from on Tuesdays who knocks to collect the loan money. Judith Wozniak: Tactical Voting My mother is ready for them when they knock, darts me the laser look that means keep quiet. A man in a pin-striped suit raises his hat, smiles down at us flashing a gold tooth. I hope I can count on your support madam. Mum puts on her special telephone voice, explains she is recently widowed — all alone with a child. She’s not sure how she will manage to vote, dabs her eyes with the lace handkerchief tucked under her watchstrap. We are offered a lift in the campaign car with a loudhailer on the roof. The man stamps his shiny shoes to keep warm while she collects her coat from upstairs, dithers with her hat in the hallstand mirror, fusses over my buttons, adjusts my Alice band bonnet, threads mittens on a string through my sleeves. We slide along the slippery leather bench seat in the back of the car. It’s already getting dark. At the Polling Station she takes her time inside the wobbly wooden booth with tiny pencils on strings. Later she tells my father how she hoodwinked them. She often talks to his photo on the mantelshelf .
Rustin Larson: Pie Pan Tambourines The bananas in the fruit bowl have more votes at the moment than do the apples. The slovenly packets of fast food taco sauce wait outside. The atmosphere is tense. Meanwhile, the sun shines on the gravel path between residencies on the island of the violent latex bubble. I, out of curiosity, open the canister of pitted prunes and look inside. So, that's where they have been hiding. My aunt writes that she lost her bullets in Texas. I send her a hug emoticon. My sister posts a drawing of a bouquet of viruses. I send her a thumbs up. I ring and ding my teaspoon to the hard surface of the table. The atmosphere waits for the launch of the first Mercury mission. Evangelists fear the exhaust will catch the air on fire. My aunt drives her '57 Chev to the reservoir and howls like a teenager. She gives an orphan a ride back to the asylum. She gets paid in tranquilizers. At the roadhouse, the band dresses in prom tuxedos and plays all the Buddy Holly tunes on cigar box guitars and junkyard drums and pie pan tambourines.
Tony Dawson: Life on the Streets A fairytale crone, dressed in black from head to toe, leans on a walking frame in a busy street in Seville, holding out her hand, an avatar of woe. Like the melting, evil, Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz, and just as tiny, her magic’s waned because the shoppers hurry by as if she’s invisible. On another street a homeless man is hunched in the shadow of the Church of All Saints, a gargoyle fallen from his perch on the cornice. The old lurcher, wheezing by his side, is just as gaunt, no longer able to daunt anyone. The man’s eyes are dead, staring straight ahead, yet registering nothing. In the alleyway called Loves’ Passage, which adjoins Bitterness street— what sardonic wit gave them such names? — another man is sleeping under a grubby blanket on a piece of foam rubber inside a cardboard box, perhaps dreaming of a banquet. Passers-by steer well clear, consumed as they are by irrational fear.
Clifford Liles: La Notte del Redentore I wander this scaffold of cobbled alleys, sombre streets of turned keys. I hear faint sounds, the bowing and sobbing of violins. A wide canal, slick as eels, blocks my path. On the far side, between palazzos drowned in time, with rotted doors, rusted moorings, lies a piazza. There revellers dance in a skirl of damask, wear beaked half-masks. Were invitations laid on silk pillows? Not so for me. Their paper lanterns soar, candles guttering. Unseen, I pass. Men carouse with women dressed in crimson basques. I am fate, luck on a merry-go-round, slapping red crosses on the chosen doors. Note: The Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer Redentore was inaugurated in 1576 to commemorate the end of the terrible plague which killed 50,000 people, including the great painter Titian. It has subsequently been held annually. This poem is a Bref Double, a fourteen-line French poetic form.
Marilyn Ricci: Revenant When I finally get there, the house is in darkness so I turn the key softly, feel for the light switch, flick it. He must have taken the bulb so if anyone comes they’ll think the electric is off, but I can see the boiler in the kitchen is on. I close the door, dig in my bag for my phone, tap on the torch: the bars of the stair balusters are intact, the mirror still cracked, but down the hallway there’s a pool of water coming from the cupboard under the stairs. Just as I thought there might be. I open the door and there she is: lips pulled back in an uncertain smile, wanting to please. She sits on a steel-framed chair, hands in her lap, American Tan tights under a plain beige skirt, long-collared white blouse printed with freesias, completely encased in a clear block of ice. I switch on the heating, go in the front room and wait. Eventually I hear her kitten heels on the tiles and she appears: clothes sodden, face streaming. I fetch a towel from the kitchen and hand it to her. I prayed you’d come back for me, she says, wrapping her hair, tucking in the end exactly the way I still do.
Kate Noakes: Man-looking I should’ve listened to the rain on the garden room roof. If I had, I’d have heard its tune change from tinny notes to drumming stair rods frightening man and dog from their nap. But I was away in noise-cancelling headphones, listening to the gentle inflow and outflow of my breath and thinking of nothing more than that. It’s taken me years to reach this place of safety and I don’t go there often enough. Never shock someone back to the world. It’s a cruelty too far, even if water is pouring through glass panes, even if she’s getting wet, OK, perhaps if she is getting wet, but not because you can’t see the bucket that is always under the sink.
Jackson: The closed blinds After the awkward Zoom goodbye, the empty screen The echoes of their voices in headset headspace The air conditioner, the closed blinds The work still left to do A craving for chips
Nadira Wallace: Break i. Swimming near Barcombe Mills–– your face a pale flame as I flickered also with what waited unsure beyond the moment, and the river, which was like a living ornament hung and spiraled about our crosswise, elated eye-light. ii. Hours before I should get up I start remembering the trick when we slept whereby darkness––huge between pinprick stars–– became your braided hair that I could take in my fist and tug softly until we felt braced and surely somewhere. iii. There I was sitting perfectly mistaken, palms pressed to eyes so I would not see your closeness cordoned off–– lilting denim collar, mouth a sort of horizonal mauve–– before pain leapt flare-like from its word to clean me out further. iv. I wake greyed far from where we used to sprint, sidekicks for the clouds. Definitely no human nearby now I can feel, but instead only the dim-snowy, hovered promise of our grave world laid in the arms of something higher.
Norton Hodges: Welcome, Judy You can’t take the toiletries or steal the hangers. All the shelves are open. There are no drawers. The screen already knows your name. The window’s shut tight. How many hours sitting on your hotel bed checking your messages, reading the menu, dozing, unable to concentrate on your book, waiting for your non-modular life to begin? Where did that time go? You were never there. You were just passing through unrooted and what you leave as you wheel out your trolley case is a bin, neatly packed with all you have left behind.
Sue Wallace-Shaddad: Interiors After Vilhelm Hammershoi I used to sit like this for hours my head buried in a book. Even the polished dining table is familiar, that half-moon set against the wall, one leg shadowed on the floor. The panelled door’s open and in the palette of dove-grey, I feel the quiet of Ida’s presence; in other paintings, the silence when she’s left the room. The interiors give no clue to her being. Vilhelm never shows her expression, always portraying her from side or back, a woman with no say. If she turned around she might complain of how he uses her, a piece of furniture in his domestic vision. Sue Wallace-Shaddad: Unbuttoning After ‘Springtime’ by Claude Monet Dress buttoned up, decorative, her bonnet shades her face. She’s engulfed in pink and white, a froth of cherry blossom. Behind her book, beneath those sumptuous frills, her heart is beating fast as she contemplates her future. If she marries her books will get shelved. Unwed, her body intact, no child of hers will roam this garden. It’s time to stop stalling, time to decide whether she’ll unbutton sufficiently to allow him in.
Chrissy Banks: Self-Portrait You see her at once, this wisp of a woman in a white Sunday dress. She’s walked to the end of the path and stands staring out over the lake. Alone, in that haunted place. Overhead, the pallor of a morning sky though it could be any time, any year before time was numbered, the lake so still you doubt it has ever felt the lash of a fish’s tail. Silent enough that a bird’s cry – unexpected as a hook in your mouth could spin you around. The lake is the colour of loneliness. Was she lonely? Afraid? Having dared to swallow it all, she walks back the way she came, starts to paint the scene: sky’s wan whites and greys; her oiled brush stroking it into misted life, climbing the turrets of rock; plunging the depths of the lake; finally fixing her small self centre-frame.
Gordon Scapens: Out Of Reach She explores rooms in child-like wonder, her own house a story of a strange new world. Cocooned in a time capsule of the last thirty seconds, she would sit down but has no invitation. The place is unfamiliar but reminds her of somewhere she must have once visited and photographs are strangers. A kind man smiles now and tests her hand, obviously mistaking who she might be. Kindness is in the offer and her voice answers with words sounding like someone back in her past. This voice wants to know if who she is might be away and could she be returning. She wonders about his tears. She exists the wrong side of a door through which life runs away without her. She’s here but out of reach.
David Keyworth: Photograph of Alice at 18 She avoids the camera’s eye as if it were a pestering boy She is a river-bend away from the grass-bank daguerreotypes. Is she deflecting the Reverend’s gaze or helping him mourn her childhood’s end? Would she love to refocus the looking glass? Shut Wonderland in a spade-dark room? Is it my eyes she is avoiding now? Her smile stretched like a dormouse David Keyworth: Afternoon Recital No one sees him when he hits the right notes, before the seasiders and landladies tide through the Opera House doors, before he inserts the deliberate duff chords as precisely as a haddock de-boner deftly as a schoolboy placing jellyfish and seashells in intervals along the promenade. For now, he’s the Thelonious Monk of Blackpool, the maestro, his gurning mask - a bag of scrunched toffee apples - hung up on a peg with the other stage effects. He signs off with a tailcoat flourish bows to empty seats, says they’re the most sophisticated audience he’s ever entertained before he exits through the open wings to his dressing room mirror, his funnyman suit.
Jon Kemsley: Old Man with a Banjo It still strikes me as charmingly funny that the classics he was so nearly playing didn't sound so great on the one string, but his hat would fill with generosity and good humour like the garden of a pub mid afternoon so maybe funny isn't the word. Although I know for a fact that his wife packed him off with a lunch every day because I saw her do it from the boot of a battered estate any number of times. He seemed happy enough. The dullards from the tourist board eventually ran him out of town. A real shame. John Kemsley: Intercity I saw it, saw him, from my window. The line, that line passes close. The bridge with iron railings and a preservation order. Open to the weather. I was told that he’d been drinking. He ran up and over and down and across. He – They’re very fast. threw himself, he – It happens near enough monthly now. What his problem was I wouldn’t know. I was unprepared. Feet up, meeting over, scanning the classifieds in a nylon shirt. Wet down my back and across my shoulders. I hadn’t touched a drop. Nor since.
Keith Nunes: Waves in passing The balcony shudders as if a chill has run thru it, He steps off it and back into the doorway, watches The flotilla of fishing boats crash into monstrous waves, He believes the sea to be the greatest of serial killers, He’s come to Guyana, to Georgetown, to dig up some roots, To figure out if he should be here, or somewhere else, All he found were more strangers, more strangeness, A few connected his name to somebody who had passed away, All he felt was that he was passing, Nothing new in that, his past was full of passing up Opportunities, passing on relationships, passing out hope and Taking it back, A dense-salty-humid breeze makes a poor attempt at Drying out his sweaty shirt, He looks out to sea, far out into the Atlantic swelling With murderous intent, He steps onto the rickety balcony a few floors up, Jumps up & down as though on a trampoline, The balcony cracks like ice breaking and Takes a plunge, he holds onto his straw hat and Calmly waves as if he’s taking A glass-elevator to the ground floor .
Rachel Clyne: A Man Threw Knives at Me When the man at the bar said his assistant hadn’t turned up I thought, I know your game but my mouth was reckless and the words I’ll do it sprang from my lips. I told him I was an actor and could act scared. I stood in front of the target. He was blindfolded I was covered in paper and heard the thud of each knife as it hit the board. I kept repeating the scenario The trouble was I hadn’t learned to tell if knife-throwers always intended to aim for the board.
Jill Sharp: Staring at the Ceiling A voice close to my ear tells me he’s sorry if I’m still angry about what he’s done. It tells me he’s apologised time and again, taken responsibility for everything. My eyes are tracing patterns in the Artex, wave upon fine-combed wave. Here, the semi-circles overlap; there, they don’t quite touch. The voice is telling me he’s only human, that all of us make mistakes. It’s not as if he misbehaved on purpose, or intended to tell a lie. It’s easy to imagine a fleet of sails, or rows of dancing girls behind outspread fans. It must take a practised hand to complete so many – and wasn’t there asbestos in the mix? The important thing, he says, is to look ahead, get on with what really matters. More questions only keep us in the past; now we should just move on. All that time up a ladder, holding steady, keeping the rhythm right – a narrow frame to neaten off the edges, and a little flowery flourish around the light.
Benjamin Rosser: A New Refrigerator Her new fridge set as a giant gleaming jewel between clean countertop & faithful kitchen cupboards Icemaker amiable crispers bins & shelves cavernous freezer with sensible sliding drawer She’d paid cash using her hard earned own money smartly side-stepping debt & obligation The old fridge battered exterior puny packed interior bleeding cold & ice cube trays always plundered It was his revered bachelorhood relic when it failed she feared she’d lost everything She kissed her kitchen’s cherished crown jewel its powerful compressor cooling her mind
Anne Bailey: Love in a Cold Climate
The day you fell through the ice was remarkable for many reasons. For a start you never went on ice. You love ice in your drink, don’t mind when it rattles against your teeth. You put things on ice, slow them down so as not to have to make a decision but you’ve never climbed in the mountains, never skied. Sudden movement of any kind is not part of your repertoire. I don’t think you even knew you were on thin ice, you were smiling even up until the last moment. I could see your breath in the cold air. The outbreath an exclamation, a decree benevolently given. Clearly, you knew all about what was best for us. The shock as your eyebrows hit your hairline! You didn’t even have time to look down as the arctic water took you into itself. Anne Bailey: Unexploded It is compact, tidy, lives in the cupboard under the stairs, doesn’t need a lot of exercise. I do take care of it, I check it frequently, make sure it’s content, I stroke it, its hard shell, the smoothness there, the curves. It never tells me to go away. It likes the attention. Sometimes I polish it -- not like an Aladdin’s lamp, more like a trophy with my name on it. I don’t want anyone to know I have a bomb. It marks me out as different from other people and I’ve never met anyone else who has a bomb, well not like mine, but then they probably wouldn’t be letting on about it either. I never sit on it or kick it around, I like to respect its personal space, an homage to how perfectly formed it is. I talk to it about anything that is bothering me. Do you know, it seems to take it in. It gets warmer at these times and on the surface it sort of glows. I can’t imagine not having a bomb.It is good for me, all contained and private there,inside its shell.
Lydia Harris: Reliquary The lid blew off in 1953. Listen to the book inside: it talks about itself. Its voice a swan’s pinion, each oak-gall letter balances from a line. It is the size of a sparrow in the oak grove or the roof light in the passage at Hammers. Sister scribe wrote in the margin: Can you hear me scrape this nib? One more thing…
Simon Alderwick’s poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Magma, Dust, Anthropocene, Poetry Salzburg, Ink Sweat & Tears, Acid Bath, Cape, The Telegraph, and Acropolis.
Anne Bailey is a Yorkshire woman now living and writing poems in North Norfolk. She has had her work published in Ink Sweat and Tears, Brittle Star, Obsessed with Pipework, Lighthouse The Moth and Under the Radar journals. She is a committee member for ‘Cafe Writers’ organising live poetry events in Norwich. Her poem was commended in the Ambit 2021 Poetry Competition and her first pamphlet What the House Taught Us was published in winter 2021 by Emma Press.
Chrissy Banks lives in Exeter. Her latest collection is The Uninvited (Indigo Dreams, 2019) and a pamphlet, Frank from the Poetry Business. Poems recently in The Rialto, the Alchemy Spoon, the Journal and One Hand Clapping.
Bruce Barnes, formerly of the Big Smoke, is cooling off in Bradford West Yorkshire. His most recent pamphlet, Israel-Palestine published by Otley Word Feast Press is part recollection and part travelogue, following a return to those countries after 50 years
Martin Bennett lives in Rome. He was 2015 winner of the John Dryden Translation Prize. His work has appeared in Stand, The London Magazine, Agenda and elsewhere,
Lesley Burt’s poetry has been published widely in magazines, including in Tears in the Fence (TITF), Prole, The Interpreter’s House, Sentinel Literary Quarterly and online, including by the Poetry Kit, The Poetry Shed, The Blue Nib and Ink, Sweat and Tears. She is a member of the TITF workshop and Festival groups.
Michael Caylo-Baradi is an alumnus of The Writers’ Institute at the Graduate Center (CUNY). His work has appeared in The Adirondack Review, Another Chicago Magazine, The Galway Review, Ink Sweat and Tears, Hobart, Eunoia Review, Third Wednesday Magazine, MigoZine, and elsewhere. He has also written reviews for New Pages, The Halo-Halo Review, Kenyon Review, Latin American Review of Books (UK), PopMatters, among others. He is the author of Hotel Pacoima, released by Kelsay Books in 2021.
Rachael Clyne is from Glastonbury and is widely published in journals. Her collection, Singing at the Bone Tree (Indigo Dreams), concerns our broken relationship with nature. Her pamphlet, Girl Golem (www.4word.org), draws on her Ukrainian Jewish heritage. She has expanded this into a collection, You Will Never Be Anyone Else, which explores relationships and her queer identity.
Robert Cole has an interest in astrophysics & theology since studying at Kingsway College, High Holborn in the early 1970’s.His second full length collection Simoom is forthcoming from Littoral Press.
Tony Dawson has lived in Seville since 1989. In 2013, he published his first poem Critical Survey. After a seven-year hiatus, he took up writing again during the pandemic and has published over 40 items, mostly poems. His work, so far, has appeared in print in Critical Survey, Poems-for-All, Chiron Review, and Pure Slush, as well as online at Loch Raven Review, London Grip, The Five-Two, The Syndic Literary Journal, Horror Sleaze and Trash, Cajun Mutt Press, Poetry and Covid, Beatnik Cowboy, Retreats from Oblivion, Home Planet News, (in the latter case in both Spanish and English) and Literally Stories
Philip 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
Alan Dunnett’s poems appear in Poetry and Settled Status For All (2022 anthology), Ink Sweat & Tears, Apocalypse Confidential, Dodging The Rain, Mono, The Crank, The High Window. He wrote/voiced the film-poem Interrogation, Best Experimental Film at the Verona International Film Festival 2019. A collection, A Third Colour, was published by Culture Matters in 2018.
Josh Ekroy lives in London. His collection Ways To Build A Roadblock is published by Nine Arches Press.
Lydia Harris has made her home in Westray, one of Orkney’s north isles. Her first full collection, Objects for Private Devotion has just been published by Pindrop.
Norton Hodges is a poet, editor and translator. His work is widely published on the internet and in hard copy. He is the author of Bare Bones (The High Window Press, 2018). He lives in Lincoln UK.
Jackson was born in Cumbria, England, and currently lives in Australia and New Zealand. Her four full-length collections include A coat of ashes (Recent Work Press 2019), based on her PhD, and The emptied bridge (Mulla Mulla Press 2019). The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry includes her work. thepoetjackson.com
Jon Kemsley has been published in Neon, Eratio, the Metaworker, New Reader, New World Writing and elsewhere. He lives and works on the south coast of England and occasionally remembers to call his brother about whatever it was he promised to do last time.
David Keyworth has been published in Orbis, South Bank Poetry and elsewhere. He is included in the anthology Poems for Grenfell Tower (Onslaught Press, 2018) and the related geolocated sound installation – Voice of Trees – by Giovanna Iorio. He is also included in The Best Ever Book of Funny Poems (Pan Macmillan, 2021). He was awarded a New Poets Bursary in 2013 by the Northern Writers’ Awards (New Writing North). His debut pamphlet, The Twilight Shift, is published by Wild Pressed.
Rustin Larson’s poetry appears in Wild Gods (New River Press 2021). Recent poems have appeared in London Grip, The Lake , Poetry Space and Lothlorien Poetry Journal. His Chapbook The Cottage on the Hill was published by Cyberwit.net in April 2022
Sarah Lawson, an American-born Londoner, has published poetry in many magazines and anthologies and in two collections published by Hearing Eye, Below the Surface and All the Tea in China. Most recently is a novel, The Bohemian Pirate, available from Amazon.
Clifford Liles lives in Hereford but has travelled, lived and worked in several countries throughout Europe and in Australia. His poems have been published in Acumen, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review (forthcoming), London Grip, The Cannon’s Mouth and Dream Catcher. His collection of poems The Thin Veneer was published by Dempsey & Windle in July 2022.
Maria C. McCarthy was the winner of the Society of Authors’ Tom-Gallon Trust Award 2015. She writes poems, stories and memoir. She has published three of her own books, and edited many others. www.medwaymaria.co.uk
Hilary Mellon has been involved in the poetry scene since the early 80s, read at venues all over the country, judged several poetry competitions and is very widely published. She lives in Norwich, where she runs writing workshops and sometimes works as a life model.
Anna Mioduchowska grew up on stories of war, occupation and exile. Their spectres are awakened in her with each armed conflict in the news, and never more so than by the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine. Her work has appeared in many anthologies and literary journals, and she has published two poetry collections. She lives in Canada.
Kate Noakes’ next collection is Goldhawk Road and is forthcoming from Two Rivers Press in spring 2023. She lives in west London and is finishing her PhD in contemporary British and American poetry.
Keith Nunes (Aotearoa/New Zealand) has had poetry, fiction, haiku and visuals published around the globe. He creates ethereal manifestations because he’s inept at anything practical or useful.
Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her writing has been published in several places, including London Grip. You can find Lisa at lisareily.wordpress.com
Marilyn Ricci is a poet, playwright and editor. Her poetry has appeared in many small press magazines including Magma, The Rialto and Modern Poetry in Translation. Her pamphlet, Rebuilding a Number 39, was published by HappenStance Press and her first full collection, Night Rider, is available from SoundsWrite Press. Her latest poetry sequence, Dancing At The Asylum, is available from Quirky Press.
Benjamin Rosser is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Saskatchewan where his areas of researcher and teaching were, respectively, cell biology and human anatomy. His poetry has recently been published in Consilience Journal. He currently resides retired in Ottawa, Canada, with his wife and children
Gordon Scapens has been widely published over many years in a variety of magazines, journals, anthologies and competitions. He refuses to take himself seriously. He lives in a suburb of Preston with his wife, who’s friend, critic, muse and editor. He plays acoustic guitar averagely to her singing.
Jill Sharp’s poems have appeared most recently in The Frogmore Papers, Under the Radar and PERVERSE, as well as on the Mary Evans Picture Library poetry blog. Her pamphlet, Ye gods, was published by Indigo Dreams, 2015, and her work was featured in a six-poet anthology, Vindication, from Arachne Press, 2018. She was a runner up in the 2020 Keats-Shelley Prize.
Michael W. Thomas’s latest collection is Under Smoky Light (Offa’s Press, 2020). He lived in Canada for many years and now lives in Worcestershire. His work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, Critical Survey, Under the Radar & The TLS, among others. For several years he was poet-in-residence at the Robert Frost Poetry Festival, Key West, Florida. Website: www.michaelwthomas.co.uk
Pam Thompson is a writer and educator based in Leicester. Her publications include The Japan Quiz ( Redbeck Press, 2009) and Show Date and Time (Smith| Doorstop, 2006) and Strange Fashion (Pindrop Press, 2017). She is a 2019 Hawthornden Fellow.
Nadira Wallace writes: “I am a doctoral researcher at Royal Holloway, University of London and have written literary reviews for Tears in the Fence, The Interpreter’s House, The Modernist Review and SPAM Magazine. My creative work has been published in Shearsman magazine, Love Spells & Rituals for Another (Independent Publishing Network, 2021), AWW-Struck (Poem Atlas, 2021) and exhibited in Greece (Text-Isles, Art Park Gallery, 2021). I also had an academic article on magnificent diction recently published in Textual Practice.”
Sue Wallace-Shaddad’s short collection A City Waking Up was published by Dempsey and Windle (October 2020). Shortlisted in 2021 for the Plough Poetry Prize, she has poems published by Artemis, London Grip, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Fenland Poetry Journal and The Ekphrastic Review 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 https://email@example.com
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