Issue 10

021smalls

Photograph by Jane Burn

Edited by Louise Larchbourne

With poems from G David Schwartz, Louisa Campbell, Jane Burn, Katie Lewington, Kathleen Strafford, Hannah Welcome, Louisa Campbell, Elizabeth Gibson, Oonah Joslin, Ness Owen, Pepper Smith, Hilary Hares, Ceinwen Haydon, Angela Topping, and Scott Thomas Outlar.

 


 

I’ve Been Taking Notes

I’ve been taking notes on scrap paper
I am not necessarily conserving
But there is so much around
I’ll write the Essay On Man

By G David Schwartz

 


 

It’s all right,

you are not your thoughts.

You are not the words
that rampage around your raw skull
and snigger through your eye sockets;
frown across your forehead
stinging your temples,
scraping their cymbals at your cringing eardrums.

Breathe…

The fridge buzzes.
Somewhere distant, a dog barks.
Traffic swooshes past the end of your road in waves
(waves).
Outside your window, small leaves jiggle in a wisp of a breeze.

A poised aeroplane.

The drift of a cloud.

The float of a bird.

………………………………………..         Breathe…

Watch the    little thoughts    with their    swagger and    their chutzpah:
Watch them march by.

By Louisa Campbell

 


 

July and I

am so cold…………….not that there has been
much of a summer….so far
when a child………….you have loved for so long
says that he…………..does not love you
when a child………….you have loved for so long
says that………………July and I am so cold
I tell……………………his brother and his father
it is not your fault…..not your fault
it is nothing………….you have done
I must be the glue…..everything will be
what will be will……..be alright
wicked stepmother….every story has us evil
I am not blood………..my claim is nil
not the real……………mam
there is this…………..howling gizzard rip of gale force grief
this benthic roar…….I am not driving well
the white lines……….do not hold my wheels
I hope you might…….remember how I held you
one day………………..you might tell us why
July and I……………..am so cold


By Jane Burn

 


 

If we could
(previously published on poetrysuperhighway.com)

if we could be drunk
yet sober too –

simply soar

aware of the grass  –
unable to grasp it
the stones underfoot
and the crinkly cloud
that has the appearance of a top hat

if we could skip up
ten flights of steps
without use of the lift
drop all at the door
and fuck without
worrying about
unpleasant reactions
hysterical over funny faces

if we could be productive
and work a ten hour shift
remaining fresh
contented
choosing a curry
a bottle of rose
in the chilled aisle of the supermarket
then home to family
without being stuck
in rush hour traffic

If we could be drunk
yet sober too –

simply soar.


By Katie Lewington

 


 

In a Heartbeat

A single croak was all we heard
…………………………..     over and over
A heartbeat in the damp greenery
………………………….        .under a willow
The thought of something horny
…………………………..        made us laugh

Overhead
snake-like branches………..molested stars
………………..      disappearing
…………………………         into thick air
Our limbs……pretzeled
…………………..     twisting
……………………….          like lost……….orphans.

The stars and moon had straws
………..    we sucked each moment……..hard
until they started to….slip
…………….     down limbs
……………….      down legs
……………………           love’s blood
unrequited……wet……….      dreams

Now…  in the……stillness
………………      that single croak
……………………….       .inflates
…………………………      over and over
………………     like raspy questions
asked at some melting point
…………..   Ticking
…………….     set to designate
……………………       at the next
…………………………    .slip……   of lip.


By Kathleen Strafford

 


 

 

NEWBORN

In the night
He is brought to me

He is jaundiced and
Fits into the crook
Of my arm

Woollen and heavy

His sleepy breathing
Feels like a moth fluttering
Against my skin

I pull my nightdress
Open

And my breasts
Are like new organs

All my life
They have slept
In my clothes

But now
They are for
This child’s
Mouth and stomach
And bones and body

In the hospital ward
I curl against the pillows

And draw his face
To my neck

I think of his
Dreaming mind

And of the womb noises
He will never hear again

His morning
Is my morning

His night time pulls
Me deeper into
This new calling

His presence in the world
Pure and blank

As the first snow of winter


By Hannah Welfare

 


 

018s

 


 

 

School Run

Always a struggle for a parking space.
I clamber out on to a tired pavement.
Heave my bag up on my shoulder,
turn up my collar, shove my hands down into pockets.
Trudge past stained mattress and straggly buddleia.
A grey truck trundles down to the slaughterhouse.
Peeping out from between the rails:
sheep with runny noses and punk hairdos with straw tangles.

You come out, beaming,
skipping in your dolly shoes,
hair swinging, catching the sun.
Inside your rainbow rucksack:
A purple dragonfly water bottle,
your easy-peasy homework,
pink and yellow plastic bracelets,
a book about glitter fairies
and a picture of a lamb
made with cotton wool and pipe cleaners.

You say the mattress looks like giant toast,
it feels as if you’ve actually seen a unicorn,
you got Haribo because it was Tammy’s birthday
and I can have the strawberries and cream one.

I crank up the engine and begin to negotiate the potholes.
I drive.
You move forward.

By Louisa Campbell

 


 

 

Requiem

Nearly thirty this month, the paper says,
washed up. I want to hold them, comfort
them, hear their song, the release of the
wisdom accumulated
over such a life.

When I was a kid I drew whales. They
cropped up again and again, such a
pleasing shape, an easy one: the arc of
the big, round body, the neat curve of
the tail, an eye, some water from a
blowhole and some wriggly lines to
swim in and there
it would be.

I had many styles: the realist whale,
the abstract, swirly whale, but all were
happy whales. That was essential. I
would sweep the upward curve gently
across their front, splitting my whale
like a planet. The thought of making
one sad – I couldn’t do it,
even to an image.

There were orcas and dolphins jumping
and dancing on the wallpaper I that I
vaguely remember choosing for my room
as a toddler. They’re still there, actually.
The décor hasn’t changed for all that
I’ve been away.

By Elizabeth Gibson

 


 

 

Mowing

I try to follow my
father’s straight lines
like he taught me
but he moves in spirals
Sometimes a job just
needs to be finished
doesn’t matter how
we take it in turns
it’s easier to follow
his tracks though
I do cut corners
and change direction
just to prove I can
turning in spirals
makes me dizzy
it hurts to cut
daisies, dandelions
plantain, buttercups
he knows I’d love
to keep them but
if we don’t keep on
top of this we know
it’ll outgrow us.

By Ness Owen

 


 

 

Again I Mentioned Dylan

We fought Pass Road traffic for a place
Aunt Kathy had heard was good at work.
We liked to go get food and talk about people.
As soon as I said Dylan, Kathy’d mention Paul Simon
saying Simon understands the limits of the idiom –
and when Dylan goes poetic, she’d rather read Auden
then she’d imitate John Prine doing an imitation of Goodman
from a special she’d recorded on Public Television.
She’d play Goodman covering The Dutchman,
just to hear the line, “sometimes she sees her unborn children in his eyes.”
She and Dennis never had kids.
The Po’boys came wrapped in butcher paper dotted with grease spots
from shrimp just pulled from the deep fryer.
We’d eat in the car with cranked up air-conditioning,
go back for napkins.
We drank Barq’s Root Beer in Styrofoam cups with crushed ice –
Barq’s was the Barqs family still in Biloxi, so was Desporte’s Bakery
whose bread made those po-boys.
Barq’s went national and Desporte’s has been gone forever.
I said Dylan would be the best guest for dinner
and Kathy said, “I’d rather ride bikes with Syd Barrett.”
Like Steve Goodman, Aunt Kathy died too early.
Today I’d rather be eating a po’boy with her
than listening to Bob Dylan live in my kitchen.
We’d be talking about Dennis, her dogs and fish,
and favorites who never really made it. 

By Pepper Smith

 


 

 

No Single State of Being

I may have been awake
or in that place
that isn’t land or sleep.

I heard a pigeon
bully seagulls
on the mossed slate roof
outside my window
and sensed it was the world.

Somewhere beyond is sea
leaking into the wounds
of the salt marsh,
present but undiscovered.

Here, before I move,
I feel your shoulder.

I know it cannot be
but here it is,
your shoulder
pressing back.

By Hilary Hares

 


 

 

I Am Tired Of Your 

I am tired of your suddenness
I am tired for your kiss
Now I swim south out in my tiredness

By G David Schwartz

 


 

 

How to keep your head

Remember that the deck’s already stacked,
the odds for spades and clubs are worse

than hearts and diamonds.  Never overplay
your hand.

 Mix up a batch of carmine 189.  Make sure
the fixings on your ladder hold.

Embrace your task.  Avoid the power
of thorns and if a child should pass

who wields a pink flamingo
drop your eyes.

By Hilary Hares

 


 

 

I Know You Went To LA

I know you went to LA
And I know you won’t be back
But please return to me in thoughts

By G David Schwartz

 



My Daily Routine

I drink coffee from a cup
Pour it in and lift it up
Pour it down then clean it off
Of the floor where it spots  

By G David Schwartz

 


 

 

Acorn

Acorn, forlorn, fallen on the forest floor,
as fickle mists come and go,
obscure the weakening sun,
then chance a ray
to tempt hope.

Mother oak’s branches sway
under the rascal, red squirrel
scampering its length
in search of winter nuts.
None remain, all are fallen
with autumn’s rusted leaves,
scattered on the stony soil below.

Bright eyes cast down and
catch upon a sheen. A shimmer
on the fine-ridged, hard fruit
loosed from its knobbly elf-cap cup.

This acorn foraged for and found
on the forest floor,
as fickle mists come and go,
obscure the weakening sun,
then chance a ray
to tempt hope.

Two lives then, one as food,
then one as shat out seed,
another oak to grow.

By Ceinwen Haydon

 


 

 

Late Roses

All day we have been working,
side by side in your childhood garden,
lopping shrubs, eradicating brambles
snipping dead heads, yanking weeds.

October roses emerge in vibrant hues:
oranges, golds and crimsons, with thorns
which rip our clothes and flesh.
Their scent is a reward for labour.

Your parents’ tangled minds
are clogged with memories, resurfacing
as they approach their nineties.
We have assumed control.

Safe in their new apartment, they cling
to routine, repeat old stories, laugh,
are mostly thankful for our care: roses
late flowering against the dark of winter.


By Angela Topping

 


 

 

Wild strawberries

Do you tremble in the forests? Can dew hurt
your skin or will those thousand tiny stars of
yellow blink it away, impatient, awoken from

sleep? Foxes sniff, sweetness allures their soft
nostrils. Tangy moisture stings. They sneeze.
Is that laughter? Maybe just a sea breeze? One

cannot deny the trembling. Shameless young
earth, patchy old sky, hold these little green
wings. Fat crimson body, enjoy safe passage.


By Elizabeth Gibson

 


 

 

Northumberlandia

is a lady raped
discarded as a slag
used up for profit

twisted she lies
looking on black despair.
They took her beauty

her greenery
silenced her birds
disturbed her peace

gangs of men
they ploughed her dug her
made her to lie there

bulldozed
her breasts exposed to all
her belly trampled.

Come on and look at her
they said. Look what we
created.

Now she weeps
for her daughter Druridge
languid by the sea

knowing her fate too is sealed.
Men moving
on a virgin site

and they will

make her

watch.

By Oonah Joslin


 

 

Groom of the Stool

………………   They stare at him
in his dotage   all those faithless faces

Watch watch, Henry whispers
I look into myself and cannot find myself

His groom knows his body    places a damp linen on his brow
it’s like being inside a shell…  to awake    clenched
…………………………………….         dreading the darkness
………………………………………                pacing all night
holds close his stamp showing him
………..he has no agreement with death
he warms his ample shirt
………………….      wipes his ample arse
……….his King’s shirt will not retake its shape
blistered breeches belittle
………………………         .his brave codpiece
nether socks are tongues saying nothing

as he sings private hymns in darkness
………………..       and dutifully closes his eyes.

By Kathleen Strafford

 


 

 

Willows

He planted one for each
of us and one for her we
lost whose name we only
whispered to the sea-wind
determined for life they
grew each season, roots
entangled branches spread
spindling away from each
other until I forgot which
one was me but she was
immortal in the garden where
we played in upturned-wardrobes
and buried broken promises
through the window I blew her
goodnight kisses as November
winds tore leaves from her branches
and I watched her wave goodbye
knowing spring would bring her back.


By Ness Owen

 


 

 

The Eternal Recurrence

Another day
Another dollar
or so they say

Another year
Another death
Another birth
Another cycle
and so it goes

Not every poem
has to be profound

Sometimes it is enough
to simply say:
See you on the next go round…


By Scott Thomas Outlar

 


 

 

YOU ARE WELCOME HERE

They tell us to fear you,
to blame you for everything,
to stop you coming through. To
cut you off from our abundance,
to let you starve.
But defiant,
we will join hands.

They tell us to hate you,
to see bombs hidden deep
in your bulky backpack
that holds only clothes and papers,
grabbed as you fled.
But defiant,
we will join hands.

They tell us to loathe you,
to scoff at your hijab,
your accent and your food.
Give cold stares to your children,
deny them friendship
But defiant,
we will join hands.

They tell us difference
is a threat, a dire risk
to their great status quo.
They want to keep us apart,
divide and rule.
But defiant,
we will join hands.

We will rise up as one
and tell them, ‘go to hell’,
trounce their lies, burn their rags
that pose as honest newsprint.
Our love is strong,
and defiant,
we will join hands.


By Ceinwen Haydon

 


 

 

Light Years Later

Let light perpetual shine upon them
oiled up with 1970’s Hawaiian Tropic
as Aunt Kathy reads a poolside paperback
on the chaise longue with busted straps
while I float on the blow up raft,
watching the light wobble on the bottom
like the white squares of giraffes,
decades ago, long after she passed.


By Pepper Smith

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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