Susan Castillo Street

Sailing to the Indies

I hear the sailors mutter.
“This Genovese has led us
to the edge in his mad quest
for gold and souls.”

The sea stretches before us,
bolt of blue silk draped
over flat tabletop. In their minds
they look at the horizon, see us sail up to the rim.

go careening down the currents
spiraling into dark space
where monsters lurk and lie in wait for those
who question.

What do these fools know with their false certainties.
The land that lies before us, just beyond Earth’s curve,
with endless golden towers and Christ-seeking native souls

is the Indies.


Susan Castillo Street is a Louisiana expatriate and academic who lives in the Sussex countryside. She has published a book of poems titled The Candlewoman’s Trade. (Diehard Press, 2003), as well as several scholarly monographs and edited anthologies. Her poems have appeared in poetry magazines in Scotland, the US, and Luxembourg and in online publications (The Missing Slate, The Stare’s Nest, Nutshells and Nuggets, Literature Today, YorkMix, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Snakeskin). She is a member of two poetry groups, The Conduit Street Poets (London) and 52.

Susan’s blog can be found at http://www.thesalamanderandtheraven.blogspot.co.uk/

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Stella Wulf – two poems

Lost

I am not a loser
generally speaking, of things,
of cotton reels, identity, earrings,
and I’ve never lost a bet, a dare
a race – I was just differently placed.

I’ve often wandered wide of the mark,
and in a skylark rollicking bed,
I’ve frequently mislaid my head,
but if memory holds a seat in this morass,
I’ll find my face in the looking glass.

My catseye marbles and bumblebees,
and that old thing, virginity,
not lost, but foolishly forsaken.
And the plot? That’s where they put my friend,
I didn’t lose her, she was taken.


Time Lord

I have grown to dislike the smugness of your face
and the way you insist upon semaphore.
I know idle hands are the devil’s tools
but I’m not the fool you take me for.

It’s not a joke, running out on folk
nor is your perpetual leer
when you spring the startled cuckoo
from another stolen year.

I wouldn’t give you a second glance
if your advances weren’t so insistent
but your unwavering constitution
seems hell bent on coexistence.

It’s wearing me down this living on tick
the drip, drop, drub of the tally,
I wish you would stop or turn back for a while,
let me dawdle, hang out, shilly-shally.

The witching, it seems, is your finest hour,
when you put your hands together.
Are you applauding your power,
the lording of another day
or knowing it’s my time to kill,
is it your time to pray?


Originally from North Wales, Stella Wulf now lives in South West France with her husband and a menagerie of animals. She is passionate about poetry, both the reading and the writing, and her work has been published in various journals and online magazines. She is also an artist and exhibits her work under her real name, Claire Jefferson. Her work can be seen on her website http://www.stellawulf.com

Carole Bromley – four poems

Dinner parties

I’d leave my knickers off
put on black suspenders
and watch you suffer
through the grilled grapefruit,
the moussaka, the orange cheesecake.

Then I’d slip out of one high heel
and tease you with my stockinged foot
while you handed round blue nun.

Somehow the washing up
never got done.


Amuse-bouche

I would have liked to amuse your mouth,
would have loved to hear you order
Osso Buco in your dark red voice

while I chose some light, exotic dish
of asparagus, goats cheese or fig
and rolled the stem of my champagne flute.


Baci

Do they make them any more,
those kisses of silky milk chocolate
with a poem in the twisted wrapper?

I would like to open one now,
find a line from a love poem
and feel it dissolve on my tongue.


New Year

The world was the consistency of pavlova
the morning you walked away;

you crushed it with your first-footing
out over the threshold

and for days it relented a little, then made its mind up,
froze over

till, after a week, your footprints had gone
as if they’d never been

and the pillow where you’d laid your head
plumped itself again

until even the smell of you had dispersed
into the cold air.

I might have thought I’d dreamt it all
except for your glass, your cup,

that particular smell the air has just before
the first flake falls.


Carole Bromley’s first collection, A Guided Tour of the Ice House, was published by Smith/Doorstop in 2012. She writes a regular poetry blog at www.yorkmix.com and is currently judging the YorkMix/York Literature Festival Poetry Competition (deadline 28 Feb). Her website is at www.carolebromleypoetry.co.uk

Robert Nisbet – two poems

Glancing Down at the Carnival

Leaving a small dark town, hurrying,
we pass a notice, To the Carnival,
swing homeward over a sweep of bridge,
then glance down at the show itself,
in the valley, in its meadow,
a multi-coloured load of sight and sound.

We see and hear, briefly …
the motley morrice of copious ribbon …
the comedy notes of oompah-oompah …
a cone of helter-skelter red …
maybe a hurdy-gurdy grinding …

We sense … maybe …
the sketching of likenesses …
the telling of fortunes in shadowed tents …
and (as in American country fairs)
a bespectacled girl sitting at a card table,
typing poems for the passing crowds …

Stay, stay …
oompah, oompah …
but the car racing away to the evening.


Passion Play

A coign of housing, market town.

Bethan and John, from Ceredigion,
running from religion, in a  way.
Three dogs, as well as the twins,
the house a roar of family’s spark.

Steve and Sheila, older, graver,
more beknown of sadness, but
kind
to each other, to neighbours,
to hungry Africans.

Rick and Marge MacPherson.
The neighbours take the piss out of Rick,
the chest, the vest, the small cheroots.
Once dunted a man’s cheekbone
for squeezing Margie’s thighs.

All of them love the nicknames,
in-jokes, codes and quims,
flirtation’s sport, sex games
in cramped back bedrooms
looking out on a Norman castle,
town houses, alleyways,
nine centuries’ fecundity.


Robert Nisbet was for some years an associate lecturer in creative writing at Trinity College, Carmarthen. His short stories appear in his collection Downtrain (Parthian, 2004) and in the anthology Story II (Parthian, 2014), his poems in magazines like The Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House, Dream Catcher, The Journal and Prole, and in his collection Merlin’s Lane (Prolebooks, 2011) which is available here.

Updated submission guidelines

Please note that I’ve made a slight change to my submission guidelines, increasing the number of poems I’d like you to send from 3-4 to 4-6 – this is to give me greater choice, and also to ensure I’ll always be able to publish a minimum of two poems for each featured poet.

Since I’m happy for you to submit simultaneously elsewhere, I’m hoping that having a few more poems under consideration won’t cause any problems. If anything, it should make Clear Poetry a better read.

If you’ve already submitted 3-4 poems, don’t worry – you’re still aiming at the goal posts before I moved them! 🙂

The updated guidelines can be found here.

Going live!

Happy New Year!

Just a quick note to let you know that Clear Poetry will be going live on Monday 5th January at 5.45am with two excellent poems by Robert Nisbet! I can’t wait for you to read them.