Artwork by Jane Burn
Edited by Zelda Chappel
This Is What Mountains Are
Think of the stunned bird I placed in your hand,
the whisper of feathers against your cheek,
how you feared for its trembling beat.
Remember the scratch of its pin bone feet,
the whirr of coverts as it roused and flew?
You marvelled how something so frail could endure.
This is what mountains say to you.
Remember the weight of your newborn child,
the perfect roundness of his place in your arms?
Feel the cool smoothness of this marble egg.
Think of those dreams in which you fall,
feel the rush of wheels as you step off the kerb,
the shock of the slice from the blade of the knife.
This is what mountains do to you
with their edges hard as life, peaks that cleave
the sky, jagged as careless words,
or floes sheared off from a glacial tongue.
They ride in chains thrown up from the sea,
stride across continents, divide countries
folding and unfolding time.
By Stella Wulf
Had I lived in sunlit lands would my fair skin
still cook and peel? Would I still be chicken?
I might have soared and swooped close to crashing
in the line of duty or exploration. But I draw the line.
I would have liked to gannet and gull my way through life;
shit on people from above only I don’t like fish.
I could have been; tern on the attack, hawk on the take, kestrel
killer. But I have no talons for that talent and so
being fat bodied, heavy bellied, short necked, stub-nosed;
not the least bit aerodynamic and afraid of heights
I live this grounded existence
tethered to excuses.
By Oonah Joslin
Not Minding What Happens
If you could unhitch yourself from your DNA,
like a train leaving behind wrong carriages;
if you could be as open as a doorway unafraid
of thieves, not needing to see the invisible colour
to know there is a miracle; if you could unhook
from knowing better than life (or death) what’s good
for you and your close ones; then sometimes,
in the middle of the afternoon, when you’re walking
through a wet field, the wall might fall from the side
of the world, and a golden light hit you like a sudden field of rape.
Then words of complaint, prayer, beseeching,
will dive into the grass and rise again as larks singing,
the light being so bright, so all you didn’t know you craved,
so making up for every loss; unsayable.
By Rosie Jackson
“I Love Desire, The State Of Want”
we are at armspan
not close enough
for body heat to leap
but heart to heart is easily less
than a soft word apart
there is a cupping in the air
as a planet
curves space wrapping
the fabric of the universe
around its shoulders
so we two are pulling
a stole of time around us
you are the dark side of the moon to me
the want my hands
have of you makes me
to sit on them
we are a loom
the shuttle the look
you send me
that I send back
what are these threads we have
attached to one another
what terrible, bright canopy
are we weaving
By Kirsten Luckins
After Stanley Spencer’s `Love Letters’ 1950
Your words pressed tight
against my chest
till my skin burns
as if this paper
that has touched your body
been breathed on
by your breath
held close against our heart
beneath your flowered dress
carries the fire of the sun
in its great script
of perfect love
brought down to earth
Oh love letters
sweet heart letters
how short-sighted I’ve become
in my love of you
reading the lines so closely
heat rising on pages
milled from beech and pine
and river that you
slipping the next envelope
into my jacket pocket
are nothing but a blur
a muse without whose
words I cannot live
cannot breathe unless
you write me again
there is no future
without this writing in it.
By Rosie Jackson
Adorable creature at first,
your claws seemed real as fingers;
fleshed, just like a humans. Or at least
a cat, with them pulled right back,
or a dog who would only hurt you
by mistake. The ice in your eyes, always
cold, but in the same way thirst welcomes
this frost in a glass, bouncing drinks
with bergs, serving a purpose. Leveling
the heat, adding chink to your cheers.
I have too much warmth, too much weight –
I thought you seemed a good antithesis. In you
I could work to support the old chestnuts –
opposites attract, yin and yang, you complete me!
Trust you to make it twaddle – my horoscope said
I would meet a beautiful stranger but it did not warn me
you would be indefectibly, absolutely cruel.
What star sign even are you? Did you ever read them
over lunch and wish for monsters? Neither did I,
yet each wish I did not make is granted. Always,
beauty fools me – always a succubus in something sweet.
By Jane Burn
It’s the swell of the season –
no rhyme or reason,
but the passage of time
and the pull of the moon.
The feeding of the hunger
of a starving man
is disguised as kindness;
he is sprung from the darkness.
And the blown away cold
is replaced for seconds
by the glow of fusion.
But the embers are extinguished
by the dew of the morning
and the grey Arctic day.
By Harry Gallagher
Room, no room
Moving in the circle of this ritual
smoking out my lungs, hand-paddling away
from the heat-strong current. The walls
have become a bookshelf on which
the books have been repeatedly read.
The walls are a room where there are
no windows and the paint is yellowing,
where the stale breath of confinement has
I hear the animals deliver their outcast tongue
as the flame flows from the crack under the door.
I am folding and folding,
longing to join the delirium of a new language and of fire.
I cannot flourish in this parched land of ineffectual despair.
I long for a pond to catch tadpoles in.
I long for seeds to scatter,
or for now, just a small tool to chip away
at this concrete floor.
By Allison Grayhurst
Today, I swam in his kindness
lumbersome on land, unaccustomed, wetsuited, packed
with all those weights and gas. My usual swim
skims surfaces of this, as he coaxed me new sides
into scuttlecrab worlds, into flip-floundered sands,
bubbled in aquamarine liquids of gardens, upward
seaweed swirled . He took time
to fin our way ahead, let me know
I can breathe.
By Beth McDonough
Fields of Mean
once a dense forest,
(the burning uncontainable)
and golf games interminable
despite the draught.
there could, in fact,
but the water only feeds.
drive angry people
to unknown destinations,
child in tow. poor girl.
By Alysson Parker