Issue 9

Edited by Claire Dyer

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One Small Act of Survival

In my hand a shiny new hammer
bought to forge a carapace from commonplace things:

door handles, empty soup cans, the almost-over
hyacinth blooms in my mother’s blue vase.

The shape I’ll fashion will not be symmetrical
but I’ll spend a while writing charms on its underside

then flip it, polish its surface until I can see my face in it.
It’ll be shallow, and roughly the size of silence.

Next up, a Stanley knife to incise my chest, peel back the skin.
My blood will blossom like chrysanthemums as I slide my creation in.

By Claire Dyer
This poem will be published in Interference Effects from Two Rivers Press and was also placed
first in the 2015 Torriano Poetry Competition.

 

 

Paper Trail

Sealed referrals to consultants
conceal
thin data in formal tones – a label,
condition, not you any more.
Appointment cards worn out
with so much
hospital – scans , tests, invasions;
dog­eared, dog­tired
results amassed.
Buff envelopes letter­bomb the doormat.
Good luck cards
wink, cross fingers.
Timetables chart journeys, pull &
…………………………………………………..tug.

Then dates of different kinds
– ultrasounds, scans, antenatal.
The tsunami of paper dissolves
with such sweet weight
in your arms.

By Finola Scott

 

 

Summertime
after Chris Powici

My mother is clearing dandelions
in the rockery at the front of the house.
Trowel in hand, she has just rocked back
to greet a neighbour on the street
who waits by the gate for a blether.
Soon she will come through the open door,
to pour tea and watch The Chase.
But for now she walks down the stone path,
her hair bleached by days of sun.
So I imagine.

By Maggie Mackay

 

 

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Once in Illinois

Bring back the fireflies,
the tiny carriers of torches.
Bring back the crickets’
constant chorus.
Those insect courtiers,
echoing our kisses.
Blessed by and in those
prairie grasses
higher than high masses.
Nothing then between us
my bride of Illinois.

By Seth Crook

 

 

Day of the Moth

The sky is laden
and the ground
under our squish
gives
ankle deep.

The sea sounds distant
and closing whispers shift the mist
as if God’s garment trails to earth
and a voice proclaims
Arise,
O Burnett Moths.

Twenty at a time
as we disturb
the warm wet humours of July
they fly
like fleeing ghosts,

their spots scarlet
as blood
this host of black
winged clerics
inhabit
the Holy Island.

By Oonah V Joslin

 

 

DANDELION FLUFF

I think
a dandelion seed
may have gone
up my nose
it might have lodged
itself in my brain
even now
as we speak
it could be starting
the germination
of a whole new breed
of dandelion children
inside my head

Soon
my hair will turn yellow,
festooned
with the yellow petals
that define me
as a weed
taking over the earth.

By Leilanie Stewart

 

 

The Death of Golden People

In the log cabin
listening to Steve Kovick

tenor sax
& drums
& piano
& bass

I feel the golden people…..die
…………blurs of the dance floor
…………and staring into
…………mumbling secrets
…………at wits ends.

I am April Wheeler.

I desire her commitment.
Her failure…..becomes mine
I take offense when my…..ex-
boyfriend bonds more with Frank

looks to me as deranged
as April running through
the woods. Her death
her arrangement her walk
to the…..window

……………the blood leaf-shaped
……………on her white iron-
……………pressed dress the stains
……………like ink spots

is the death of the golden
people, the death of running away,
the death of dreams.

By Thomas Stewart

 

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i.m. GF

No bluebells on Ben Ledi to ring the grainy gorse.
But hard paths and weary stones, winter not yet ready
to yield. A red kite hovering, vigilant
waiting to teach his fledgling to fly.

Near the top soft snow, fresh, translucent
deep enough to show a clear blue light.
Like your six month old eyes, now closed
as your granddad clothes you gently, for the grave.

By Rona Fitzgerald

 

 

Warriors

I move through the jungle
cautiously, stealthily,
alert for the slightest movement.
Body tense, spear poised,
I sniff the faint breeze
trying to pick up a scent,
sweat, meat, fear,
anything that reveals the foe.
A bush moves where it shouldn’t.
I raise my spear, aim, throw.

I move through the jungle,
cautiously, stealthily,
alert for the slightest movement.
Body tense, rifle poised,
I sniff the faint breeze
trying to pick up a scent,
sweat, cigarette, fear,
anything that reveals the foe.
A bush moves where it shouldn’t.
I raise my rifle, aim, fire.

My drone moves over the jungle
hopefully unobserved,
camera alert for movement.
Body tense, joystick firm,
I hover at 1500 feet
eager to pick up a trace.
A bush moves where it shouldn’t.
I aim a missile,
push a button, launch.

By Gary Beck

 

 

Malnourished

He says things the way spilled
milk does, calcium cutting and bone

dry, so I cry about it. We stand outside
a Mexican diner and an Open sign’s

screaming red and blue all over his face
as he tells me he needs something more. My

feet are given to street gutters like sylvan city
brooks floating face-up under moon

and skyline, and a streetlamp careens its
hands through his hair, down his shirt,

wraps around his marrow. I spill my hand into
his trying to offer an impossible more.

By Jackie Braje

 

 

Last Dance

We took a chance,
for one last dance,
at the hall where
we first met.

It was October 78,
the year
was getting late,
a city bus,
drove us through
the security gate.

We held hands,
whilst making
last minute plans,
for peace
and reconciliation.
Strolling by the
Police station,
a bomb exploded,
we had reached
our final destination.

I did not see
your face,
and neither you,
mine.
A split second
was all it took,
to bring an
end to a love
as fine, as sweet
white wine.

We are no more,
thrust into wilted
Autumn leaves,
reduced to whit’s
of dust;
farewell my
best friend.

By Seán Maguire

 

Fritillary

Scrap of Turkish
carpet, October leaf;

airborne
dancer riding fragrant
currents

with skip and dart;
pearled slurper

of nectaries
of ragged-robin,
bugle, self-heal,
buttercup.

Not so bad then
an inchworm life

of toil and spin,
heave and crawl

if our reward
were this.

By Stephen Bone
Poem first published in first collection ‘In The Cinema’ ( Playdead Press 2014
)

 

 

this used to be a poem

Until remembering
every breath
all dear,
……………like you

…………..Counting leaves
……………..and quietly
………………………the days

My passing
from when…………and your mind

Through pages they remember
that face…………………unsaid

The sky soon to fall

…………..clearly

every

…………………………..day
you begin circling

Remember
who and I

By Georgina Hoffman

 

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The doves in the winter fast tree

Two doves in the wintering tree outside the ward
window, snoozed in the frail January sun, yesterday
afternoon. Stayed until my post-lunch sleep was slept out.
When I woke to catalogue the carnival of clouds
as the storm went out, the birds took flight.
The first swung a generous loop of farewell
and slid back into its own story. The other, as if checking
I was steady on my pins, waited till I waved safe home
before blending into the air. In their absence, the shimmer
of lichen on the birch’s trunk was their echo.

…………………………………………………………………..I could tell you
the transformation of pigeon into dove into guardian
of my rest is a fancy stolen from other times, simpler folk,
but I won’t. Almost everything is a question of belief
dressed up pretty: pure maths; the carbon-base of all life
anywhere; that reason is the answer when loneliness
is the problem. My doves were just feathers and lice,
just the whole heady muddle of life and life, just holding me
safe in this sphere, beyond my window, yesterday afternoon.

By Rebecca Bilkau

 

 

Parenting

Once, when you were very young,
you disappeared. I found you
underneath the old oak table,
the dog in a polka-dotted nightie
cradled in your arms, his silken ears
slipping from a bonnet, his nose hot and dry.
‘Nursing,’ you answered, before I even asked.

Now, when you say ‘I’m not sure
I’m cut out for motherhood’ –
the image of the thin blue line
vivid in your mind – I remember you,
the patient dog, the tender touch,
and say ‘Of course you are.’

By Angi Holden
Parenting has been published previously in Mulk

 

Returning

You remember the aeroplane’s slow descent
through clouded skies
the city jewel-spread beneath you,
the interminable wait in chilly baggage halls,
the distant parking lots and then the long drive home:
the dual carriageway banked with ox-eye daisies
snowdrifting through the summer nights;
the startled rabbit, its retinal gleam stilled;
the potholed streets; the rolling drunks
spilling like frothy pints from noisy pubs.

I remember the cooling house; the creak
of once-warm window frames and doors; the settling floors;
the sideways glances at the clock; the hands
unmoved, or so it seemed;
the droning TV voice turned low but company at least;
the empty coffee cup; the page-marked book;
the tartan rug pulled close around my back;
the murmer from upstairs of children sound asleep;
the kettle’s rolling boil, its sharp click off
as if it too heard the tyres on the gravel,
your key at last turning in the lock.

By Angi Holden

 

Learning Bird

I’m learning Bird at night school.
Our teacher’s a raven with kind eyes.
The classroom is up three flights of stairs and
to our west the Thames shines
like blue aluminium in this late-summer light.
Some nights necklaces of geese fly over us.
I imagine my pulse in their wings,
imagine the air they leave in their wake
is threaded with pearls.
This week we’re learning Chaffinch:
all its frill and torrent.
The raven tells us we must be joyful,
we must open our throats,
throw back our heads to release the song.

By Claire Dyer
This poem will be published in Interference Effects from Two Rivers Press.

 

 

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