Simon Williams – four poems

Inti

was the Inca name for the Sun, which astronomers now
give to interplanetary dust, as collected by the Stardust
probe from the Wild 2 (VILT-two) comet.

More universal than stars, planets,
rocks in the Oort cloud, is dust.
The black specks in this Aerogel –

the traces, like meteors
in a Perseid shower – hang on the
wild comet’s tail through its ellipses;
no corners to settle into, beyond Jupiter.

Inti is the exotics: magnesium, aluminium,
minerals not formed in the absolute of space,
only near a star, via the heat of its hydrogen.

I sweep the kitchen floor – skin flakes,
leaf skeletons, the grit abraded from tors.
Perhaps, by the chance that orbits stars,
inti is driven through the bristles of this broom.


A Wolf Explains The Howl

In his book, The Philosopher and the Wolf, Mark Rowlands
tells how his wolf would sit howling while his mother cooked.
The wolf was asking for cheese, which it loved.

As we sit out under lupine constellations,
lay our heads back, roll our tongues, breathe deep,
we’re not calling to our mates, challenging our rivals
we don’t do it to integrate the pack.
So few of you have taken time to study,
so few know how we long for Wensleydale
how we lament the lack of Limburger in forests,
yearn for little Edams in the vast, cold tundra.

Why else would we howl so under the full moon?
Even the ponderous trappers know the way it looks.
Don’t come with guns to keep your fluffy mutton safe.
Don’t send your puny dogs to save your chickens.
In the frozen nights, where all we have for life is what we eat,
bring us cheese. O, bring us cheese.


Operators of the Puffing Devil

Richard Trevithick‘s first steam-powered road vehicle
caught fire and was ruined after it was left by its
operators in a gully, while they went for dinner.

I wasn’t saying he was crazy,
it was a prime thing and I could see its worth,
carrying people up Camborne Hill
like half a dozen horses.

I would say its wheels were thin,
more like a cart’s than an engine’s.
To take that weight a bit of spread
would have stopped them making runnels.

When we ran that gulley, I never
thought we’d make it out again
and Arthur was a bit lam-handed
with the steering and the throttle.

There’s no way we could move it
once stuck there in the hollow
and it was getting late and us pair
devilish hungry. We went to eat

and no-one could begrudge us that,
though looking back on it, we prob’ly
should have doused the firebox first.
We went over to the Skinner’s and had goose.

A good roast bird it was and as we ate,
I said ‘Now that’s a real machine,
no steam, no rachets, cams nor valves
and one as can go on water, earth

and air with equal versatility.
It’ll take a while for Dick Trevithick
to better that one… and to give it taste.
We finished with a quart of ale, before the fire.


from dream

The First Time Ever I Kissed Kate Bush

was last night,
in some old lecture hall,
perhaps an Oxford College. Jesus.

I don’t recall
what the event was –
sitting next to Kate Bush, you wouldn’t.

She looked young,
probably all the dancing
and running up hills.

Remembering Kate
doesn’t discuss her family life,
we talked of music and movements:

red shoes, kangaroos,
the contemplation of Pi,
what she’d been up to in the last 35 years.

The others filed out.
It was going really well,
till at last Kate had to leave.

The kiss was unexpected,
so slightly fumbled at the start,
but there were tongues.


Simon Williams has five published collections, the latest being A Place Where Odd Animals Stand (Oversteps Books, 2012) and He|She (Itinerant Press, 2013). His new pamphlet, Spotting Capybaras in the Work of Marc Chagall, was published earlier this month by Indigo Dreams. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet.

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Hilary Hares – three poems

Outing

Stone-faced in the small, square Ford that smells
of oil and damp, my father’s bucking through the gears

without the aid of synchromesh. His cactus arm sticks out
to show we’re turning right, his sleeve soaked through with rain.

Under the tartan blanket in the back I make a world where I
can be The Lady of Shalott, the windscreen-wipers slowing

as we climb each hill, my mother granting favours –
single squares of Fruit-and-Nut.


How to peel a rutabaga

first
cull top
and tail

next
place
your knife

against
its shoulder
enjoy

the slide
into its
sharp work

watch
the curve
seduce
the blade

observe
the armadillo skin
peel back

the layers
of
imagination

exposing
that sweet flesh

the right word


The Green Denby Jug

sits on top
of the un-tuned piano
handle akimbo on one full hip.

Unused all year,
in August it will bloom
home-nurtured gladioli
backlit by my father’s pride.

I sit on the floor and stare
at the green denby jug;
an empty vessel,
waiting.


Hilary Hares lives in Farnham, Surrey and spent 27 years using the power of words to raise money for charity. She has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Winchester and an MA in Poetry from Manchester Metropolitan University. She is published in a number of magazines and anthologies and is currently working on a memoir sequence entitled ‘Re-inventing the Red Queen’.

Michael Brown – three poems

Satellite

Something in me doesn’t mind the quiet here.
How that man had belly-laughed
when I asked if there was anything like a shop.

Half-way back up the bank, I begin to pick up
the drizzle of a signal, try to text my wife.
Stop.

Five fields away some kind of animal cries.
Nearer. Sometimes it’s like this: harder to find.
Throw your arms out, palms to the sky.


The Dockers’ Clock

castellated parapet
time stopped, ragwort

at all hours, padlocked
tidal fog, estuary

granite block, Irish Sea
harbinger, caveat

watch and ward, sentinel
for all time, dockers’ clock

leaking roof, dandelion
corbel, tobacco ship

what came along, landing stage
grain and hide, dying trade

six faced, derelict
staircase, pigeon-shit

carbon black, living wage
Scouse wit, heritage

cotton war, warning bell
for all days, dockers’ clock

a day’s work, a day’s pay
as always, dockers’ clock

for all days, dockers’ clock


At the Café Concerto

At the Café Concerto we pick-up
what we left off when we went back, Tom,
last winter to our other lives. Texts dried up
and when you didn’t reply
or alleged your battery was flat
I sulked through half of Lent.
The fact is that you have lost some weight, Tom,
relaxed, begun a beard. I talk too much.
It’s been too long. I can see that.
The waiter gives us two more minutes to decide
and, even now, we are wasting time.


Michael’s work has been published widely including The Rialto, Lighthouse Journal, Other Poetry, Crannog, South Bank Poetry, Envoi, The North, Brittle Star, New Walk and The Interpreter’s House.

In 2014 he won the Untold London Brazen Valentine Competition with his poem, ‘From Hungerford Bridge, Looking East’. He was placed third in the York Poetry Prize, 2015, with the poem ‘Water Lilies’ and he recently collaborated with the Liverpool poet Maria Isakova Bennett in a project at the Walker Gallery as part of the Light Night Liverpool arts festival.

The pamphlet, Undersong (2014) is available from Eyewear Publishing. Michael is currently working towards a first collection.

Jessica Mookherjee – three poems

Bedroom Door

To think you once had leaves,
that you once sprouted and grew in soil.
Glued, nailed, low-handled.
You look knocked together –
rustic they call it, ill fitting door-frame.

That year before he went – you kept shut,
and later when he moved to the spare room,
your big eye-knots like dark nipples,
old scars that showed life marked you,
helped me wait until he moved out.

These days, foliage practically bursts
from your timber pores,
You swing, gape, grin,
you are always open.


Trying at Stratford East

When I hurled myself slap bang into him
in near the Westfield at Stratford East, I was
trying to catch the tube,
His face pink, shining like tin foil
I’m never coming back here I said to him not in a million years
When he said they’ve made an Olympic Park out of fox-shit and newspapers;
You’re not selling it I said to him
and he laughed.
When he said This is no place for poets and artists and the like;
I thought how excited we were when we had bought our first house, how
he held me and pointed to the waste ground and convinced me they would build our future here.
I just don’t have my heart in it I had said to him
We stood near the ring-road
and lamented They’ve chopped down the willow trees
I said to him
Well it’s only natural they would do that;
nothing lasts
Well I must fly I said to him
When I got onto the tube
I think I was crying.


Mothers’ Day

Delivered like unwanted children,
I didn’t put them in water, I kept
them in ornate packaging, on my table.
Only half-heartedly looked for their real mother.

Their scent leaked into my everyday,
alive like new baby smell.
I phoned Inter-flora, told them there was somewhere
an aching breast, wrongly ticked box, not at this address.

I didn’t touch them until one week after Mother’s Day,
Wondering if the son, the daughter, the mother
would fetch them away and
just as they began pushing out everything, she came.

Heartbroken, relieved, not forgotten. She muttered
polite complaints on my doorstep, told me
her son in the States spent seventy five pounds on them
and left, clutching my wilted flowers to her chest.


Jessica Mookherjee grew up in Wales, lived in London and now Kent. She has a background in biological anthropology. She has recently been published in Prole, Interpreter’s House, The Journal, Agenda, Ink Sweat and Tears, Antiphon and Gold Dust and Lampeter Review and is shortlisted for the 2016 Fair Acre Pamphlet Prize.

Gill Lambert – three poems

The Waterfront

At times like this I’m pulled back
by the past. It gives me electric blue eyes
and hot-brushed hair, has me teeter
on white stilettos, clip-clopping up

the stairs after last orders at the pubs.
I pay my two quid on the door, hand in
my coat to a fat dragon in a grubby blouse
who’s blowing Woodbine down her nose.

Then I’m reeling under neon, white
underwear glowing blue like my gin.
Girls kiss boys in dingy corners, hands
grope in an orgy of tomorrow’s boasts and regrets.

Perhaps that’s where we all end up,
swaying to Spandau in the top floor room
of a small-town night club. A last dance
in the dark. A last chance to see whether

our costumes really hide the truth, if we can
cover up our youth with grown-up disguises.
And I wonder, when the lights come on,
will we recognise each other?

Note: The Waterfront was a nightclub in Skipton, popular in the eighties.


That Kind of Snow

You had wanted snow.
Though not the cruel cold of an Afghan winter,
that crept inside your sleeping bag
and froze the dampness in your socks.
There the snow fell suddenly,
on a landscape that you’d come to know,
turning it back into an enemy.

No, not that kind of snow. But
snow that falls here on our hills
and sprinkles tops of walls,
the kind of snow that whispers in the night,
sighing over streets and fields, stays for days,
to disappear in pools of slush.

Your snow lay thick on corrugated iron,
and on flimsy make-shift walls,
where you shivered in the dark,
waiting for a dawn that showed the scars
of conflict; the thief that took whole men
and sent them back in halves, or quarters.

You had wanted soft, expected snow,
the snow that falls in lanes and covers gardens,
where footprints are the proof of destination.


February

Something sticky’s on the mouse-pad
and an ex is on ‘chat’.
The icon that tells me when the battery is low
isn’t working. So I won’t know, until the screen fades –
probably just as I pluck up the courage to type hello.

The cat’s clawing at the wall
and he won’t stop until I throw a book at him,
or a pen, and then I’ll forget I’ve thrown it
till I need it again. So I let him scratch –
and he does, with a cat-smile; and tail high
and stretching, he lies down – on the keyboard.

The rain is starting again. I’m imprisoned
by a month that somebody should ban.
Too cynical to think about roses,
never mind expect them. I wonder
whether he’d have got me roses. Perhaps
I should ask before the battery dies.


Gill is a poet and trainee teacher from North Yorkshire. She draws her ideas from snatches of conversations and the world around her. Gill has been published by Indigo Dreams, The Interpreter’s House and Beautiful Dragons, among others.

Ken Evans – three poems

Down Dag’s Lane

This morning, down the snicket
by your house at the terminus
of our conversation, more
invigorated than in years,
buoyed by your willingness
to broach the difficult,
my tongue, the small frictions
of a leaf, grubbed between
my thumb and forefinger,
a burring; ridge after soft
green ridge serrating
to an horizon. I lick
my finger, taste the green
fact that mountains
can seem both for
and against us.


The Trapesius

The sun in the blind
like a bird in a cat’s mouth:
I collect myself, recover phone,
glasses, wallet, from under a sofa,
quietly then, to your kitchen in search of coffee.
Your nightdress eddies round the door, a milk-space
between your pale shoulder straps, the spine and scapula.
As you stretch for a mug, your shoulder blade is water
over a raised boulder. I gaze, a second too long,
at this space at your back, unreachable, I imagine,
even by you.


Ode to a Departure Lounge

The all-over body rub of Sky News
wrapped round with ads, to fly
Emirates or Air France; the soft plea
of decorous women in flat hats,
pale faces and white scarves,
medieval queens from art galleries.
In-flight delectables tendered
to 38C, 61F, the well-to-do seats
of velveteen and anti-macassar.

A childish optimism of bright brands
entices, as I walk to the dream
of an aeroplane. Unguents, liquids,
to fill the pores and scatter the brain,
a double-act of Molton Brown and Bombay
Sapphire, the Testers and Tasters
of duty-free, an arrowed path to a glass heaven.

Bedded and gowned, bring me here to die
in the public flux, under steel-girder plangencies
of Abba and Vivaldi, a womb-comfort
of flight-announcements, breaking news
like surf in an oriental watercolour, caught
at a cusp of revelation; red banners, 24/7,
follow the widescreen, pendants in a victory joust.


Ken Evans works as a lead-mine guide to what is laughably called, ‘support’ this poetry habit.

When not kept in the dark underground, Ken’s work was longlisted in the UK Poetry Society’s National Competition, and highly-commended in the Bridport and shortlisted in the Troubadour Competition, all this year. He has a pamphlet due out with Eyewear in the autumn.

His draft debut collection was also shortlisted in both the Bare Fiction Debut Poetry Collection Competition and in the Poetry School/Nine Arches ‘Primers’ Scheme this autumn.

Gram Joel Davies – four poems

****

The petrol station
is rain-slick, and joyous
as Ringo’s drawl.
They lock doors after midnight,
just a yellow hatch.

The pump ratchets price
like the lives of the drowned.
When it hits fifty quid,
I get enlightenment.

Not with acid and sitars –
just so much fossil pressure,
glutted off my shoes.
I could go anywhere, do
anything, tonight.

I go to the counter,
ask for a ham sarnie.
My voice clangs through the comm
like a submarine captain.
The kid looks up, into just my face.


Intro

She holds light, like smoke-
machine smoke, her face
low.

When she looks up, her mouth
makes to swallow
white noise.

A drum begins in my perineum,
conga skin beating.
Eyelids strobe.

In a smash of chords,
the band comes
to her voice.


Falter

Capricious, looking everywhere
but…
………Half-hopes lick her
pulse, revealed in bungled buttons,
mishandled change, passed
with barely brushing fingers,
foreshadowing…
………I did this – with half-meant glances
from the top of an eight-year incline,
and now, made dumb by asking of myself,
………is she too young?


Headway

My powers stopped working
at the river.
Some of us had crossed

to the big stump but the current
beat my headway.
My powers never were for swimming.

I drifted to the weir
and did not bother the adults:

magic is to make things safe
without speaking.
A man stripped and dived.

I was hoisted on a towel
up a nettled bank. My skin
burned twice.


Gram Joel Davies lives in Devon. His recent poetry can be found in Bare Fiction, Envoi and Under the Radar.

He writes and reads with Juncture 25 Poets. Last year, he and his collaboration partner Hannah Linden together won the Cheltenham Poetry Festival Compound competition. They will appear at the festival in May this year. He is compiling his first book as you read this. Find out more at http://gramjoeldavies.uk or @GramJD.

Torrin Greathouse – two poems

8th Grade Dance Hallelujah

Maybe
love is a dance floor, where only
left feet are allowed,
where everybody is laughing, and no one is laughing at you.
Where 10,000 lovers toe-tap to the melody of
each others’ heartbeats, off key with the song,
like the hallelujah of an 8th grade dance revival and
everyone still looks terrible,
but this time
no one cares.

Maybe
love is the best cheap wine we can afford
on a Friday night when rent is due soon
and it’s started to feel like we’re stilt walking
on butterfly knives.
Baby let’s get just drunk enough to lose our balance.
I can be your left foot if you’ll be my right, ‘cause sometimes loving
is not understanding the gravity of a situation,
but knowing you couldn’t shoulder it alone.

Or maybe,
love is the ocean reaching for the moon,
each quiet particle stretching, stretching palms
upward like dinner plate Frisbees,
waiting for the fall
waiting for the fall,
then shattering down on themselves,
into endless violet fractals like a delivery truck crashing
into a factory that for some reason only manufactures
blue glass.
They know they’re never gonna reach it
but they don’t stop trying.

Or love is the last spark
of a lightning bug whose entire world has become encased in glass,
who has given up flying because there is nowhere left to go.
The last full body shockwave of light bled out
into the cold horizon
of a mason jar so a child can see tonight.

Or love is a heart full of chips I brushed off my shoulder,
and I feel bad for filling it up with them, but
they didn’t have anywhere else to go.
Then you came in like an open door
and a slingshot,
like we’re gonna shoot down the whole world on a Saturday night,
like maybe love
is running out of ammunition.

But I think that maybe
love is like a performance art exhibit I saw once
where people tied their lover’s feet to a tiny
wooden block with one rickety wheel beneath it
then helped them to stand
when they couldn’t stand on their own.

Everybody kept falling down.
I saw love
in the eyes of the people
who kept standing up
until they got it right.


Another Word for Holy
after Ellen Webre

Another word for holy
is the pebble in the child’s knee,
the release of blood like communion into the dirt,
a gift of flesh given to the hungry god of the ground.

It is the tender itch that long outlasts the wound,
the colors of skin in the sunset of rebirth.
The scar we know so intimately,
that we will one day struggle to find.


Torrin A. Greathouse is a queer poet from Southern California and a governing member of the Uncultivated Rabbits spoken word collective. They were the 2015 winner of the Orange County Poetry Slam. Torrin’s work has been published or is upcoming in Rust + Moth, Chiron Review, Crack the Spine, and Yellow Chair Review. They have also published one chapbook Cosmic Taxi Driver Blues (CreateSpace, 2015). They are currently employed as the executive assistant of a sustainable lighting firm. Their previous jobs include security guard, farm hand, antique store clerk and tattoo artist.