Beate Sigriddaughter – two poems

A Better Silence

There is a better silence. This,
like a secret, I would like to keep

unchanged. Drops glisten
on a blade of grass, a bird
high in the tree, first opening
its throat, then closing it again
in the chapel of new dawn,
to save its song for later.

Your eyes are open. And my heart
is filled with darklight flickering.
History’s beguiling whisper falls
away, the future is forgotten,
and the world sleeps naked,
innocently dreaming of itself,
the silk of skin, the hush of sun
on wood and earth
and you.


Lord of Lizards

When I am in danger
of forgetting the beauty
of it all, I look at the fence
where I once spotted
a lizard in the sun, quite large,
with turquoise belly skin,
and, on second look,
trapped in fine wire,
unable to move.

We trembled
as you slowly cut mesh
around the tiny claws,
the scaly neck, the limbs.
It took a long time.
We didn’t expect the lizard
to live. Still,
you carried it
into the shade.

The lizard did not move.
We tried to feed it water
when suddenly,
faster than rain
it was already way
across the courtyard,
over the fence. Goodbye.
Never have I loved
anything running away
so much in my life.

If there were anything
to forgive—there wasn’t—
I would have forgiven
you then.


Beate Sigriddaughter lives and writes in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, USA. Her work has received four Pushcart Prize nominations and won four poetry awards. In 2015 ELJ Publications published her novel, Audrey: A Book of Love. www.sigriddaughter.com

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Summer hols

Dear readers,

After tomorrow morning’s post, the site will be taking its annual break, returning with more new poems on Monday 4th July.

In the mean time, please browse the archives – perhaps you’ll unearth a gem you missed the first time around, or revisit an old favourite.

Thanks, as ever, for your ongoing support,

Toodle-pip,

Ben x

P.S. Submissions will remain open during the break – I will look to respond with an aye or nay by the end of week commencing 11/7. If you’ve already submitted, and haven’t yet had a reply from me, I am hoping to come back to you by 17/6.

Chris Hemingway – three poems

The Digital Diceman

My phone has unpredictive text
and I go with the flow.

Each day is an adventure.
Every update is pulled from a brantub.
Every answer sits on a fortune wheel.

I’ve had marriage proposals,
And received injunctions,
sometimes within the same day.
Libel lawyers invite me
to fundraising dinners.
I’m now an MEP.

The phone company
keep offering me replacements,
(apparently there is such a thing
as bad publicity).
But I couldn’t accept.
It knows me better
than I know myself.


In a Doo-wop Night

Caught in a mirror,
Johnny stalks the pool table
in shortening circles.
Light catches candles
in the chapel window.
Somewhere there is satin.

Kohl smudges on screenprint pillows.
Terri’s face pressed against the window.
Miles apart, held in splitscreen.
It’s raining, both sides of the town.

Bass, tenor, syncopated,
she straightens the sleeves.
Though he still sings
“What Kind of Fool am I?”
I guess she always knew.


Unmapped

An orbit, as December ends,
the cloud cover parts to show
brief ersatz stars,
cheers of celebration (and relief).
Circling the globe,
midnight by midnight.

365, 366, a point.
Unfixed, uncharted.
It’s not rocket science,
it’s better than that.


Chris Hemingway is a poet and singer-songwriter from Cheltenham. He’s self-published two collections, The Future (2016) and Cigarettes and Daffodils (2012) and his work has appeared in The Stares Nest, Three Drops from a Cauldron and Lunar Poetry amongst others. Chris helps with the running of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, and he’s read at both the Poetry and Literature Festivals in Cheltenham.

Scott Edward Anderson – three poems

A Personal History of Violence

I only lost two fights in my youth.
The first, age 13; his name was Tom.
He said a girl I liked was flat-chested.
True, but I hated him saying it.
He had a long thumbnail that caught me
on the eyelid, blood and sweat
pooled together so I couldn’t see.
We wrestled to the ground and I conceded.

The other, a year or two later;
my father, my opponent, was pissed
in both senses, as often the case.
He caught me sneaking out to a concert
he’d forbidden me to attend.
He made me tear up the tickets,
after nearly putting my head
through the living room wall.

The last fight I ever had in school,
I’d overreacted, perennial hothead,
almost made a junior classmate one with a locker,
grip closing in on his throat.
Then I heard my brother’s voice or my memory of it,
“Dad, what are you doing?! Dad?!”
And I let go, smoothed my classmate’s shirt,
walked away—.


“Years Are Not a Life”

Everything develops at its own pace,
rivers erode the nearest bank, slowly
over time, washing away silt and sorrow.
Years are not a life: whether spent
sequestered in a smoke-filled room,
knitting afghans for grandchildren,
walking two miles to the meat-packing plant,
or learning how to feel the passion
of an abiding friendship—.

“Whatever it is that fills life up,
and fills it full, it is not time,” she says.
Her husband ignores her, reads the golf scores.
“Years are not a life.”
Half-baked on drugs and electric shock treatments.
“To have a rich, full life
every woman should own a pair of red shoes
and have a breakdown.”
Cada coisa a seu tempo.
(Everything in its own time.)


Bo’man Burgess

“Nathan Burgess: He likes work,” reads the caption.
At the age of ten, he signed on as a cabin-boy
aboard the bark Sunbeam, a whaler
bound for Newfoundland; then the Greyhound,
several square-riggers, tramp steamers and the Navy.
“I made three trips around the Horn,”
he told a reporter from the Sun Chronicle.
Short-order cook, street-car conductor,
woodchopper, insurance man:
“Work and I were always good friends.”

As a “bo’man” on the Greyhound,
he had to keep the ropes straight
after the harpoon was thrown.
If the whale dove, he had to cut the lines,
or the whaleboat would go under.
“Whaling was a tough life: 24–hour work
and you slept in bunks loaded with grease.
But if anyone else could do it, so could I—
lots of times, I got the worst of it.”

On our Sunday visits, my mother’s grandfather,
Nathan Lewis Burgess, always told stories
and displayed his tattoos. “Whale meat
had a gamey taste, like deer meat,” he liked to say.
Between the knuckles of his fingers
were tiny blue ink rings, a kind of crypto–calligraphy.

One day, I got up the courage to ask
what those tattoos were.
He made sure his wife wasn’t looking,
and laced his hands together so the fingers intertwined.
Now I could see that each finger bore a solitary letter.
Apart, the letters meant nothing,
but when so displayed — profanity!
We laughed out loud. “Papa! Don’t show that to the boy!”
Grandma Burgess yelled from the parlor,
where she sat at the pump organ, playing hymns
and Stephen Foster tunes all through our visits.


Scott Edward Anderson is the author of Fallow Field (Aldrich Press, 2013) and Walks in Nature’s Empire (The Countryman Press, 1995). You can follow him on Twitter @greenskeptic and check out more about him at scottedwardanderson.com.

Gillian Mellor – four poems

Litmus

After the fume cupboard closed
and the wheeled in tv wheeled out
Mr Riley gave a test

He asked if we knew
the acid tongues
of girls appeared red
and the base language
of boys became blue

I studied your neck
watched it change
phenolphthalein pink
tasted salt on my lips


The Pure Magic of Being Six

is when the smart car in your hand
changes colour from green to gold.

For him this is doves from sleeves,
rabbits from hats.

For me, it’s thermochromism.
A reaction. It’s paint crystals

reacting to temperature.
A phenomenon.

It’s a face mesmerised,
a fist curling and uncurling.

It’s two words scrawled
on the back of an envelope:

love you, in graphite grey.
They do not change colour,

but pressed to my skin
they feel warm.


Tips for the Young to Ignore

Please keep warm in winter.
You’ll not need to swing cats;
bigger houses cost lots to heat
and there’s more room to fight.

Eat well when you can,
eat rough when you can’t.
Don’t hit your head on the dresser
when you fall. Avoid deadly things.

Be paid to climb into a box
only after joining the circus.
Always progress to trapeze.
Beware. Ladders don’t always

meet expectations.
Contentment isn’t so bad.
Happiness, if you find it, lurks
just the wrong side of enough.


An Arm and a Leg

We spread ourselves thin.
He made short work of the yellows.

We sang Goodbye to Piccadilly
and Farewell to Leicester Square.

Coventry Street was lost to us.
He asked how to buy a hotel.

Paid us all our paltry rents.
Blitzed the board. Took his salary,

built houses no one could afford.
Hid under the table until

it was his turn to pick us off.
One by one. I told myself

it was only a game.


Gillian Mellor lives in Moffat, Scotland and has been published in Southlight, The Fankle and also online.

One day she will begin work on a book of original tongue twisters that no one will publish.

Kitty Coles – three poems

Kiss Feed

I watch you pare your apple into rind-thin crescents
and hold them up to see if light seeps through
and ray them out in scrupulous mandalas
and rearrange and lift and pare again.

I want to put my lips on yours, transfer
my apple, pulped and swallowable,
onto your tongue and take your illness back,
swap warm green flesh for bone-pale bitterness.

I want to breathe in life and watch you fly
far from the nest and build yourself again.
I am the well one, by comparison,
and I have strength and ribs and blood to spare.

You hate the weight of mouths and tongues and breath,
the tart green taste, mortality of kisses.
You hover in the ether, beyond reach
of flesh, resuscitation, earthly love.


Erosion

I thought that it was safe here; didn’t I?
Maybe; before the day I found a rabbit
bobbing – wide-eyed and stiff,

fingered by sea anemones, their wet mouths
gaping, covetous for kisses –
cradled in a rockpool on the shore.

We built homes here,
the gardens rank with allium,
the shrubs contorted, reaching to the earth.

Gulls troubled us; their appetites,
their muck, their screeches
at the windows begging entry.

The water lifted stone and threw it back,
milling it fine; the air was grained with it.
The water left us glass and dirtless shells

and once a funeral wreath,
bleeding its purples.
Now cliffs return to dust and houses

slant. Walls rubble up and fences
travel seawards. The neighbours pack
their bags and start their engines and I

look out across the green tide’s conquest
and hear it suck, withdraw
and suck again.


Swimmers

Throwing out your arm in sleep, as if making for the far shore,
and I, my hair splayed like a mermaid’s, at your side,
my open eyes, the whiteness of our fingers, wound like weed.

Paddling your feet, describing languid circles, you make the covers
shiver, and I, though still, am drawn into your wake,
the rhythms of your breath, your long neck’s heat.

You flip to your back and float. I also turn, to mirror you, and feel
the energy of water bearing us,
the half-light of the house, its knolls and hollows.


Kitty Coles lives in Lightwater, Surrey, and has been writing since she was a child. Her poems have appeared in magazines including Mslexia, Iota, Obsessed With Pipework, Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House and Brittle Star. @kittyrcoles; www.kittyrcoles.com