Winter Special Edition

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Photograph by Jane Burn

WELCOME TO THE FAT DAMSEL WINTER SPECIAL EDITION 2015

Edited by Rachel Clyne

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Photograph by Jane Burn

The Sun Looks Forward to Winter 

Another hazy afternoon
Jugglers in the square
In yellow tights and yellow leaves
Lying everywhere.
A massive raspberry balloon –
I hang over the town and fall
Into a hissing sea of flame
And then I stop and call your name:
Come faithful Winter, come cold.

Cover my face and let me sleep
On a low forgotten shelf.
Take your turn around the town.
Chill the air and crack the pipe.
Lift each collar round each face.
Let the music ring out clear.
Let fires blaze in every grate.
Cut the holly. Fill your plate.
Come faithful Winter, come cold.

Just when they think me gone for good,
The ground as hard as any stone,
The car won’t start, the bird won’t sing,
The old complaining of their joints,
The pavement slippery with ice
One day that ends before it starts
Such a shaft of light I’ll throw
But until that glorious hour,
Come faithful Winter, come cold.

By Annie Freud
This poem has been set to music by Benjamin Tassy

 

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Photograph by Jane Burn

Finale

A woman in dungarees
fetches steaming mugs of tea
to the milking shed

egrets graze a sodden field
behind shaved hedges

trees make room for rowdy chatter
the starlings have arrived

in town, streets are paved
with gaudy yellow
as autumn’s curtain falls

By Rachael Clyne

 

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Photograph by Jane Burn

November

Remnant……leaves……hang
like tattered flags……..on luminous
………hazel whips
………………..against fog.
The way the blackof the
blackbird, sets off
rosehip rubies….on the arch
as wren darts….through
…………………hedgerow tangle.
Even a shag-pile lawnlittered
with cat shit…..glistens
……….caught by baby-blue sky
iceberg clouds..floodlit
with silver…..so intense
it makes your………..eyes water.
Charcoal tracery of..tree-shapes
and steady processionof geese;
even we……..the watchers,
recant our….winter dread.

By Rachael Clyne

 

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Artwork by Stella Wulf
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..By Linda Goulden
(Apologies for the photograph of the poem – no matter how many attempts were made, WordPress will not recreate the format) PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER SIZE

 

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Photograph by Jane Burn

On the First Day of Not

when those leafheaps, soaked, defeated
in bonedeep dreich, the cradled phone
slept. Odd waken squalls were
ignored. Unswitched, upstairs
the PC feasted on emails.
There were no trance-planned walks
into meaningless meetings. As the sky
wasn’t blue, thinking erased. No
soldering wax cracked on boxes.
Envelopes eased, unpushed.
On the First Day of Not
her pulse never bubbled hard
up her throat. Her eyes
lowered luggage. She said no
on that First Day of Not.

By Beth McDonough

 

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Artwork by Jane Burn

Permission to snow 

Transparency died in the fall,
skies piled in coats of that air floss,
thick as pitch,
but grey,
that tells me snow.

That time there was no cold though,
only the snot-thick sky.

Now we’re careening through November’s exit,
slanted too sharp for ease;
Nanny Cold, brisk as fishhooks, giving a little push… in
the back of the waist, you know,
and permission to snow.

This isn’t what I planned…
The sky and I were always hand in hand,
sharing breath, seeing things.

Now sky has run away, larging above, no horse, no
hands, only has
left me here,

toes on the stones,

no coat,

not knowing which way to look.

By Louise larchbourne

 

Photograph by Jane Burn

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Photograph by Fiona Russell Dodwell which inspired the following poem

Just a Lick 

I’d forgotten how hard it is
to impact
soft light snow

the weather made solid
I was thinking
and then
Terroir
which is what Raymond Blanc
was enthusing about
last night on the telly

I roll it around on my tongue
the whole place contained
by this taste he said
this soil
this water
taken into your body
made flesh

I come in to check tonight’s weather
and see the stone face on the foot-scraper
licking (not mud but) snow.

By Fiona Russell Dodwell

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Artwork by Jane Burn

Schneekind

Little Yakuts, hearts still full of tundra;
the steppes took the thunder of our iron feet.

Free, we rode hard beneath starshina;
nostrils flaring out their blood-red membranes
until Snegurochka pulled her blanket
hard with frost across our world. Then, our rest –
sleeping topped and turfed, warmed with mammoth’s hair.

The Englishman sent for us – had heard much
praise of our skill at surviving the wastes;
the shaggy seventeen, Mallein tested,

shipped to the ices shelves. Devils, they called us,
Manchurian Marleys, rattling our chains,
banging our buckles, stomachs full of sand;
we craved the salt. Twisting in the traces,

we hated the sledges banging our hocks –
hated the Maujee Ration, Pemmican
tasting of tow. Harnessed to whiffletrees,
full of hot hoosh, we aged with every step;
beards frozen, sides hardened with stiffened sweat.

Walking slow, slipping over Glacier Tongue –
floundering, watching the skua gulls hope
for our meat. Oates, boiling his blubber stove –
orcas circling, weighing with hungry eyes;
all of us glare-blind, blizzard-weary. Cold.
One by one, The Snow Maiden called us home,
her children of the wild and white. An end –

Minna Bluff , the Cape Evans Hut; husky bones
still chained to the empty kennels. Fallen walls,
furred finnesko boots – little hooves that were
no match for the sastrugi. Our deaths, quiet;
we gave ourselves up to the sleeping, freed
from the unquenchable searching of man.

No-one can match the hinterland. The ink,
fading out of yellow tissued page. Had
we lived, I should have had a tale to tell.

By Jane Burn
Final line taken from the original and last diary of Robert Falcon Scott
First published in Fat Around the Middle from Talking Pen

 

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Artwork by Stella Wulf

Candlewick

I stole it from my mother’s house.

I loved the way it blanketed the busyness of my room
to plainness – it settles, soft as a fall of snow.
Smooth under palms, my fingers plough
its fluted tactility – burrow out smells of lavender stored
in folds, since I last unpegged its ghost
from the fanning line. The airing cupboard
treasures its bundle – I unwrap the parcel as if it were God’s shroud.
Unveiled on special days, at times
when the spreading of it makes me think
of a wedding – its waiting to be soiled by breaking blood.
A breeze through the open window
huffs the fringed edge , like a veil
of dithering wings. The woollen, esker lines press softly
in my flesh and I swallow
a pinch of pain at the sight of it.
Hold the bedside flame in my eyes for a while,
then blow into darkness.

By Jane Burn

 

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Photograph by Jane Burn

Sixties’ Dreaming 

Fog-filled evening, echo of dog bark,
scrape of shovel and clinker
signal gathering of coal.

Inside, the Home Service broadcasts
in received pronunciation
Mum darns socks by curling flames.

A boy sits at the kitchen table
pores over sums, the family’s
future in his inky hands. Tomorrow

she will donkey the front step
declare its chalk-line threshold
of respectable folk.

Upstairs, acetone stench of
Cutex and hairspray. Linda
plans to sneak out the back

along the snicket where she
meets Tom, shares a Woodie
behind the corner shop.

Instead of grinding shift-work
at the biscuit factory, she dreams
of uplift bras and bright lights.

Tom says he knows someone
in a band. She’ll take her
chances. Any day soon

she’ll be on that Salford bus
head up the new motorway.
She feels its dangerous pull.

By Rachael Clyne
Commended in Poetry Space Competition 2013, published in the competition
anthology.

 

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Artwork by Jane Burn

Snowman 

A snap of snow. Birds
cluster in rimed trees, shout grudges:
We-ell, fuck ME. We-ell, fuck ME.
Co-oldcoldcoldcold.

What did we say
when we first met, when knowledge
was limited to the syllables of a first
name? Did we touch? I am sure there
was an expanding warmth, an easing
of creases we didn’t know we had.

What did we say? Your lips
move. I hear only
what every early frost brings:
coldcoldcoldcold.

By Dr Jennifer A McGowan

 

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Artwork by Stella Wulf

Night watch

Past eleven
I’m swaddled in the echoing station.
All day you call & text staccato
bulletins of weather & delays – snow-stuck
at Crewe, blizzards over grey Lakes.
Now I’m here and nearly you.
Arrival boards flash, tannoys mumble.
In the States, they name their trains.
Once your sister lifted her wings
to head south on the Cardinal.

Suddenly a diesel glides
in the castle’s lea.
Platform 2
you’re here.
Head above the rest,
you heft your bag and stride
solemn, waving semaphore
sheepskin hat, scarlet scarf, gloves
gift-wrapped for Scotland, your lass
folded in your coat’s corners.
Then you’re in my arms.
– a bright fieldfare blown in.

By Finola Scott

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Photograph by Jane Burn

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Photograph by Rachael Clyne

Know Well 

The snow unsettled us
it made a charcoal drawing of the street.
We mistrusted it,
though
the ice felt like permanence,
we knew it was illusion
and not for keeps.
But snow gave way to a more seasonable rain
we were content and comfortable
with the grey.
Wet slates and flags reflect a sour light
mean and thin
but ours.
This is the Christmas we remember
not apple cheeks and white blonde hair
dressed in Eskimo hats against
a snow of optical brighteners
a bluey whiteness,
but the squeaking tug
of bonnet ribbons being done
up beneath your chin.
The thumping quiet of ear flaps
and the soft grey outlines
that we first know well.

By Rachel McGladdery

 

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Artwork by Jane Burn

Song of Krampus 

All year I gather birch twigs,
gather them up into bundles, just so.
Tie them carefully. Make sure
the heft is right for shins
and backsides. At the end of November
I begin blackening: rubbing coal dust and ash
into my already-dark hide until
I leave smoky footprints.

Oh, child, when you feel my stings
will you realise at last I’m the only one
to care about the naughty?
The chuckling saint only brings gifts
for those sweeter than spun sugar.
Too much sweetness attracts flies, like dung.

Let us dance. You hide behind the chair.
I snarl and flash my sharpened teeth.
Around and around each piece of furniture
until you tire and my switches
tease your skin. Your parents will hang
my golden bundle—my gift—for you
to look at year-long, while your spun-silk
sister’s doll will break in a week, maybe two.

Listen at the window for my chain-call.
Don’t reach for spun sugar. It shatters.

By Dr Jennifer A McGowan
first published in Enchanted Conversation

 

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Artwork by Jane Burn

The Present 

Her family are catching up on Coronation Street.
Or maybe it’s that London soap? Any rate,
the festive episode: Too long. Karin
abandons them on the futon, goes
to slip father’s wellies over slipper-socked feet.
She feels like home is a foreign nation.

The afternoon sky is white as reflection, the gate
half-lodged by the flood jam; in the field, stubble
trims waterlogged hedges, where yesterday ducks
still swam. Karin’s breath: the smoke of a cigarette;
a bubble of cogitation above where she stands.
There is mistletoe in empty hawthorns,
as she rounds the edge, kicking toes in high water.

She comes upon the egret almost before she sees it.
A question mark, cornered, a paper twist of panic,
its eye the mad antidote to antlers and tinsel,
novelty tissues and flashing fridge magnets. In its beak,
an elver; in that split-second of December – forever
freezes – before its start and a screech, a splash of silver…
From the white noise of wingbeats, a gift at her feet.
A grey finger. The sign of the Ichthys, dismembered.

By Gram Joel Davies

 

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Photograph by Jane Burn

The Grotesque Masquerade 

Humidity has now thinned
to fit into this small crevice of Winter.

Skinny air, scant life.
Dead leaves everywhere,
especially the heart.

The fade of a dull dance begins.
With a vulgar voice somehow coaxes
the Euphoria into hibernation

and puts those evil guises out to the street,
dim messengers of the frigid onslaught,
puppets for the gaping grin
smiling cold cracked lips
just beyond the lifeless horizon.

By Heath Brougher

 

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Artwork by Jane Burn

Late December 

The first crack
of an open door reveals
a low lying sun
to bathe in.
I am glowing.
golden, glorious.
The winter ground snaps
underneath my heel
soft soil gives way
clinging to my boots.
The dog turns about himself
dancing with new found youth.
Truth, clear and fresh
like freezing breath
surrounds me.
Late December
I have put away
the year gone by.
All those gain
loss and life lines
are cut, trimmed
pulled tight and hitched.
New ropes to anchor
new beginnings
to solid ground.

By Stephen McGuinness

 

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Artwork by Jane Burn

Freezing 

This cold has teeth.
Gnaws into marrow.
Floods every cell of bone.
Marks out its skeletal path
in creeping aches.
Clogs in traffic jams at joints.
Sits heavily in neck and hip.
Develops weight as if
there is substance in it.
Enough to slow steps.
Place a bend in the spine.

By Miki Byrne

 

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Artwork by Jane Burn

Wharfedale On Ice

We had to travel early along deserted lanes,
the mist a silver haze chiffoning fields and river,
light thawing, promising little but a milky drift.
Ghost trees punctuated the fell, frost rigged,
quicksilvered, cutwork on the gauzy sky.
The tops, ice-laden, unreadable beneath
a smeared wash of cloud.

You stopped to photograph the frozen woods,
the river, stalled by scales of ice, stiff reeds,
fresh from the glass blower’s crackling pipe.
Cold drove you back, stamping, to the car,
your breath, lung-fog. Home, you said.
The road ahead a constellation of sleet.

By Lesley Quayle

 

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Artwork by Jane Burn

Fell Rescue 

We gather, a disparate flock, summoned to the desolation
of a winter quarry. Wind snaps at our backs, and bones
are steeped with the knowledge of frost. The dog,
restless in her yellow harness, kneads frozen ground
to slush.
………..We face the glacial fell. Sleet stiffens to glass, chromes
the crowns of skeleton trees, dies like a spark on grim northerlies.
Already noon and the prowling sky is ragged with clouds, snow
layered like silk. The paths, the lead mines, spoil heaps, smoothed
to a mask.
………..We’re here now, rescuers, old and young, electrician,
farmer, doctor, vet and drystone waller, shepherd from the Pike,
writer, rambler, mason, lawyer – wrung with hope and fear –
the impatient collie, attentive to brief shifts in element
and rock.
………..We go quietly, each throat content with silence,
every labour binding us to the other, following the long bones
of the fell, traversing the chiselled hollows of the Pleistocene,
thigh deep in snow, the sun a pale and luminous moth sketched
above us.

By Lesley Quayle

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Photograph by Jane Burn

The Winter Perspective

the rifle stares into a sugarstorm
in the fingers of the bullman
who guides it into my small hand
like a gift

a darkness prowls through
the waltzing trees
and the man spots it

the snow brushes back my hair
and freezes the scream in my lungs
as the man guides my
crying fingers
down

it is the snow, not me
i will say
that picks the mote like a god
from the rifle’s bleary eye

that wakes
a strand of color from the static earth

and the snow
that made the wind uprear and cackle
as it bit into the waltzing pines

the snow
that swallowed the darkness
as it opened its eyes
to a shaking outline, and then
jumping, sudden

stillness into jolting
jolting into movement

movement into fury
fury into impact

impact into falling
falling into silence

By Daniel Blokh

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Artwork by Jane Burn

Turbulence

wind bellows,
trees tumble,
rain swallows
sodden fields,
drains fail,
waves boom,
tide surges,
river spills her guts,
roads wallow.
Watch the water rise,
doorstep lapped,
no mercy,
helpless.

By Jackie Biggs

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Photograph By Jane Burn


Remembering Snow

In these clear woods frost grows
hanks of grass make sugar ropes
my breath clouds the raw air
I gasp bright day like iced water.

On the tight ground memories of snow
rise crisp and easy: feet tamping down
white powder, cascades slithering
from weighted branches, the sharp moment
making day new like a breath of love.

Wheeling the miracle indoors
I wept at the small drab pool
left on the cover of my dolls’ pram
that would never go back to snow.

Losing you melts me back there
a pool that won’t be mopped away
but wishes it could freeze again.
The tinsel frost sparks in the light
real as remembered snow.

By Susan Jordan

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Photograph By Jane Burn

Cold 

Oh blow. My plads must be put on hold.
Cancel engagements and apologise.
They can tell, on the phode, I have a cold.
There’s doe deed to grovel; they sympathise.
My doze is a tap without plug or bung;
my throat sprouts thistles with every sip.
There’s sdeezing, wheezing like miner’s lung,
and my braid turds to mush like marshallow dip.
My eyes shy from light; cheeks flush then pale
as feedback mechadisms start to fail
so I feel cold whed others say it’s dot
and, whed it is, I’m the oadly wud who’s hot.
So I’m off to bed with some paper and a pen,
scribbling soddits till I can say “n” again.

By Sharon Larkin

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Artwork By Jane Burn

Parvaneh* 

now the winter hour, cold
damp of the work bench,
a gloom of tools unlit,
dark as a gun cupboard,
their names edge my mouth
sharp as broken teeth,
rasp, burr, gouge

yours is almond wood,
its syllables slide
easy as cypress
under the oiled
glide of the plane.
you grace my floor
in shaved wings
of timber, summer
the air with the scent
of escaping sap

and i am larch
undone, drifted yellow
into frost borders
of autumn, ash dead,
twisted wreck of oak.
the rough bark
of my skin gives way,
chisel cut, blossom
of yew berry, blushed
bright and poisonous

this you swallowtail
to my mountain dun
the last of our brief season
petalled wings at fall

By Morgan Downie
* Farsi word for butterfly

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Photograph By Jane Burn

Hare Reflects 

Hare saw the immaculate whiteness,
An infinite cosmos without horizon,
Obliteration – bleak and blasted,
Blanched to a white so pure and unsullied
She absorbed nothing.
‘Out of nothing raged the universe,’
She reflected.

Hare scratched and scraped,
Seeking out the purple saxifrage,
The bloomed blueberries and bitter sorrel.
She scarred and scoured the rime
Resurrecting the shrouded earth.
Hare saw the immaculate whiteness – riddled.
She saw the Chaos and rejoiced.

She exclaimed! She paused,
She dashed – she questioned?
Hare dug deep – punctuating the whiteness
With the bone black humus of time
Until the horizon drew a line and split infinity
And the earth sighed. Hare surveyed her opus.
‘Out of Chaos springs creation,’
She reflected.

By Stella Wulf

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Photograph By Jane Burn

Spring Song

………after Porteous’s black season

The white season wrecks itself against us.
Zipped into the blue hood of his snorkel
parka, I am beaten back to the sea. I go to see it

salt new edges in the clean skirts of beached
snow, I go to meet the foamy fists that fizz
and shore, fizzing and shoring at my shoe leather

but wet welts do not dance. That dull tap
at my heel surprised me. I once held your
orange beak in smaller hands to the clowning

rhythm of Puffin peaches, pears and plums.
Are you all Spring has for me, limp necked auk?
Body brined in the wet freeze of fretful feeding,

this winter is indeed long. Gull blizzards scream,
more birds wrecked from shore to shore. Someone
should count the bodies, before they peck clean

at bones. They come quick enough for cargo,
I can’t stay in this cold. I am fearful for your
breeding, bird, I cannot take you home.

By Joanne Clement

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Photograph By Rachael Clyne

When winter birds return to Honolulu

Golden plover—
you flew
1,600 miles from Alaska
to reach this island,
only to stand
unmoving,
beside a stone wall.

Like you, I came expecting more.

By Trish Saunders

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Photograph By Rachael Clyne

And the poem that inspired the idea for the winter issue, written by Mandy Macdonald!

On winter and the loss of love

it’s trying to snow and i’m
trying to mourn
the bitter drops drop
reluctant out of
me to flower on
this whitening ground
the blood bursts out on
impact

look on the ground red
entrails of agony
all spilt like apples
overripe

in a cruel innocence of ice
tides of glass fragments
ceaselessly wash
over passing feet

and the rare splinter
enters the heart like a javelin

No matter what you do, how you celebrate, or who you are with, may the Fat Damsels wish you a wonderful winter season. All the best, much love, and merry everything!

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Photograph by Rachael Clyne

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Winter Special Edition

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