Artwork by Jane Burn
EDITED BY CATHERINE AYRES
Across the coffee cups
he touches a face
he doesn’t see. Traces
the outline of lips,
the forehead. Smiles.
As if reading his lover’s
thoughts in Braille.
By Stephen Bone
This poem was first published in Shotglass Journal
My secrets were never for sale;
neither thumbscrew nor rack
can winkle them out of me;
pull out all the nails
from my fingers you want;
interrogate the electrical pulses
leaping from cell to cell
in my brain and see if they squeal.
There are secrets to me
even they will never reveal.
By Richard Livermore
We Were Strange Children
are stranger children now. We paused
our thumbs on the Braille of silver birch;
got stuck at the ends of sentences –
mocked by broken ornaments and
the boom of the clock. Both fevered,
with cantaloupe hands, we drew dragons
on sand and stole for sensation; stayed
on the bus, rode the Circle line’s Mobius
strip. Scared, above all, of the pillar-box
void – the once given, irretrievable.
By Beth Somerford
This tea tastes like tar,
a road surface on the tongue.
Thick glops of blackened leaves
harvested from Indian soil rest sour
in the white ceramic tea pot
as I read a book in the café
of a theatre. Two men beside me
By Grant Tarbard
Woman in Love
With you I am the colour of water
and the taste of salt. I can see your
tints and shadows through my skin,
your curves submerged, wavering
and bent like a pen dropped in a
beaker: all of my angles are optical
illusions. With you I take on your
flavor, only sharper, more eager,
addictive. Tell me, lover: are you
By Rachel Schmieder-Gropen
The image of the sunflower skips lightly on her brow.
Her father’s garden was always this soothing.
Even when the garden crept and water was laid down.
Still the flowers flourished and the stems stood bright and round.
What was always hardest to bear was the sight of the sun moving.
By Leila Hussein
In the squall
I like the wood in the squall,
Because it does feel safe to me.
The wind swells the tree tops
As the tide heaves the surf.
Overhead branches creak,
Great trunks have already fallen.
I like the wood in the squall,
Although it does not feel safe to me.
By Steve Smart
The grey outline shows little. A polyp,
he says. Might grow to the size of an orange
in menopause, but it will shrivel
once again to the size of a pea. I gaze
at the image, hear echoes of due dates,
feel remnants of ghostly kicks. He wipes
my belly clear
of jelly; nothing to worry about, he says.
By Sandra Gordon
This poem was first published in Prole, December 2013
Beverley Baths, 1959
I clung to the wall at the deep end
before launching my goose-pimpled body
into the bleach-smelling water,
head determinedly aloft. How daft
to be afraid of something so beautiful.
Second attempt so Avril swims beside me,
the rest of Form 1T cheering me on.
I’m eleven. I’ve never seen my parents
in swimsuits. How I dreaded Miss Atkinson
unhooking my clenched toes.
By Carole Bromley
Eyes barely hold themselves open. Once the size of seashells
small as pine nuts now,
daily routines are processed mentally,
harder to mark out in real time.
Teeth and skin neglected,
sour clothes pulled over ageing bones
without care or mirror.
Breakfast sometimes skipped.
But those green and yellow pills,
always clock in the day, even when it starts at four pm.
By Nina Lewis