Kitty Coles – two poems

Dreamt

of rooms where you came through the door,
of marshlands where I stumbled, called your name,
of beds I found you in, where we lay together,
of lies and lying, silence and broken silence,
of broken glass and a line on the throat like red thread,
of the stink of your cigarettes on me as much as on you,
of ash drowned in water, ash lifted on the wind,
of green eyes and dark hair, and darker bruises,
of darkness and light, the halflight of undrawn curtains,
of trains that left and rain on our upturned faces,
of petals like rain, of kisses light as petals,
of kisses between the eyes, the eyes closed tight.

Dreamt that it wasn’t him sleeping beside me
but you, the ghost of you, from an old, lost life.


I Have Never Dissected a Creature

I have never peeled the seven veils of skin
away, sliced through flesh like a gourd or squash,
to reach the musculature, the organ-bags.

You, to gain wisdom, have opened –
or watched open – the human head,
observed its contents, probed its softnesses.

You have seen the heart unarmoured,
dense and tuberous, a grapey purple,
and memorised its functionality.

You know the circuits that make beings move,
the chemicals whose glitches make me sick.
You understand it all. You never found

a soul in anybody, which must prove
no soul exists – or else, that each soul moved
when you came after it and shrank from you.


Kitty has been writing since she was a child and works for a charity supporting disabled people. Her poems have appeared in magazines including Mslexia, Iota, Obsessed With Pipework, The Interpreter’s House, The Frogmore Papers and Ink Sweat and Tears.

Kitty recently won the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016, and her debut pamphlet, Seal Wife, is due to be published in August 2017.

Her website is at www.kittyrcoles.com

Marina Sofia – three poems

Moving

Every room a borrowed room.
Every chair tried on for size
Or posture
Stool-crouching
High-backed
Hardwood
And still
Perfection eludes us
Maybe it’s time to sit cross-legged on the floor.
The doors and keys changed year on year
Some had welcome mats
Some scrapers to knock off caked mud
You didn’t even realise clung to you.
The constants we carried from room to room:
The pearl-leafed teacup
The teapot
A spoon


Marketable Skills

Now I am naturalized and marketable
(thanks Maxine Kumin for the hint)
my brain is useful, my forearms strong,
I gleam with squeaky-clean scrubbing
You can forgive my skin the colour
Of midnight plums………..at least temporarily
when I apply gauze to your suppuration
snip cheerily (not to smile is a sin
when you come from the back of beyond)
My scissors not nearly as sharp as your corrections
of my grammarly faults
Tolerated, jostled, kept on
until something better, home-grown,
comes along.


You Are an Anthology

Of dedications, recipes, anecdotes, jokes.
Burnt bridges.
Spectre unwanted, you startle,
you linger
like ghosts in a monotype print.
You echo unbidden
each morning, at night
the rat-tat smart order you invert.

You carry each country inside,
each stage of your journey,
some best forgotten, but still
they reverberate like a tired organ
in an obscure village church
slightly false, straining,
smile a plaster to cover grazed skin.
Wallpapering wounds.

You are a collection
of sinews too stretched
of nerves beaten tender
of bridges not crossed
pathways not followed.
Old habits dying too hard too soon.


Marina Sofia is a global nomad, blogger and writer, currently living just outside London. She is finding it more and more difficult to stick to the narrow confines of her corporate day job, so her escape has been to publish poetry and short fiction in online and print journals, as well as in a couple of poetry anthologies. She is also currently working on a crime novel, but spends far too much time on Twitter @MarinaSofia8 or blogging: https://findingtimetowrite.wordpress.com/

Neil Fulwood – four poems

20 Zone

Dead skin sloughs off me, settles
around the gear lever. A layer
of dust coats the dashboard
in slow-motion. The Jones’s cat
watches me pass but loses interest.

My hair concentrates on the business
of hippie-length growth. I spout
a beard worthy of a Solzhenitsyn emoji.
The kids waiting at the bus stop
pass exams and have kids of their own.

There’s a General Election. A handful
of celebrities die and a few others
are caught doing things they shouldn’t.
Donna Tartt publishes a new novel.
A small galaxy winks out of existence.

I reach the end of the estate; indicate left.


Team Meeting

We talk about what we have to do
and the importance of it and the need
to prioritise, and time folds in on itself
and pulls a plug, and nobody considers

the ratio of time depleting to time required.


Disciplinary Meeting

Distil into this moment all of your learning;
be as the tree frog – still and almost invisible.
Their flabby threats are rainfall on granite,
a thousand years short of the slightest erosion.


Flowering

The violence of the subject should be cloaked
in something beautiful: a poem about death
and the profit of politicians and industrialists
is a poem of lilies and chrysanthemums.

Flowers shame the brutality of steel; rust
is a poor substitute for the fine dust of pollen.


Neil Fulwood is the author of media studies book The Films of Sam Peckinpah and co-editor, with David Sillitoe, of the anthology More Raw Material: work inspired by Alan Sillitoe (Lucifer Press, 2015). His debut poetry collection, No Avoiding It, is forthcoming from Shoestring Press in 2017. He hasn’t done any of the eclectic and interesting jobs that most people list in their biogs, but he met Quentin Tarantino once and is still dining out on the story.

Anthology 2016

2016 was a great year for Clear Poetry, and once again I’ve decided to mark another successful twelve months by putting together a free e-anthology. It features one poem from each contributor.

clear-poetry-anthology-2016-cover

It’s free to download but I would ask that you consider donating whatever you can afford to a charity of your choice. Failing that a simple act of kindness will suffice.

To access the anthology, you can click on the cover image above, or navigate to its page on the site here.

Matthew Stewart – four poems

Gran Reserva

I dozed in his cellar. He pulled me out
at a dinner once, and waited for her
while his taut fingers smudged my dusty neck.
He couldn’t bear to keep me after that.

You saved me from the local merchant’s shelf.
A whole decanterful of crispy air,
and I was born for this: a pair of mouths
to roll me across their tongues and share me.


Esperar (v)

It begins as Expect
before becoming Wait
and ending up as Hope.

Language stamps on
language
till nothing else
is left.


Shopping

Your last list has escaped from my pocket.
Neat, capitalised, divided up
by aisle in case I lost my way,
it reminds me of the one
I made last night: scruffy,
illegible, packed
with all the news
I’ll never
tell you
now.


Como una miel oscura

“…como una miel oscura,
te siento…”
…..— Antonio Gamoneda

I grew in your lips.
Their sudden absence
lies over my mouth,
shadowing my words
like a dark honey.


Matthew Stewart works in the Spanish wine trade and lives between Extremadura and West Sussex. He has published two pamphlets with HappenStance Press, both of which are now sold out, and his full collection is forthcoming in 2017 with Eyewear Publishing. He blogs at Rogue Strands.

Helen Kay – two poems

The Five Year Sentence

Different has twin fs.
He pictures them as wasps, special, not loved,
ripe for stinging the weekly spelling test.

Jam stains his word list.
Get Back. He loves Rock n Roll songs with toast.
He’s humming I Feel Fine in perfect pitch.

Time for departures.
His bag’s Nike logo ticks him ready.
Teachers’ dice will rattle and shake his day.

Panicked, he packs in
every book, the more for less forgetting.
Zips gag on letters home, unfinished work,

mushy banana.
A reek of sports shirt leaks neglect. The door
spits us out, my long-lashed camel, my float,

my Siamese fear.
In the street he stutters on the kerb’s teeth,
crosses. The pavement dribbles him from me.

The day’s uphill roll
ends. Mouth stuffed with words, the rucksack blocks
the hall. He curls behind the couch, lips sealed.


Rhos Colyn

She used to live in a valley
but now she is drawn to edges,
the coughing Holyhead coast
whose gruff bays retire from sea.
Pitted rocks grow old in purple
below the bearded grey sky.

Outside she loves the taunt of wind
its thrash, its rush, its breakaway.
Inside, in the space of time left,
she decorates rooms, refreshes
an old house with clean, clear lines,
stripped pine and aqua tones.

In her studio she tears shorelines
of magazines to sculpt hares,
cuts a curve of waves into lino.
She tames glass beads, that lost
angry corners, found a stroke
of self in the smoothing sea.


Helen’s work has appeared in various magazines and anthologies . Her debut pamphlet, A Poultry Lover’s Guide to Poetry, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2015. Her five chickens were happy about this.

Heather M. Browne – three poems

Yesterday’s Dirt

Momma said don’t look back,
just drive straight and fast down that dirt road,
black walnuts stretching their arms over, shielding,
hiding me, looking like some highfalutin ballet dancer or giving me a hug.

I pitched you your crappy cracker jack ring,
cut up all your smiles into little fine chunks, that glittery smile,
left you all your love letters, all those pretty, pretty words promised
that you’d never forget.

I dumped that whole load right there in your dying grass,
you forget to tend to things that are yours,
‘specially those things that once were live.
I watched hundreds of little bitty pieces of you,

fly, didn’t know you’d already gone,
so I am too. Looking out through yesterday’s dirt,
June bugs and flies smashed on that windshield cracked,
laying there side by side just like you and me two days ago in your rope bed

with your fist print right there smack
before my eyes, broken glasses and vows
driving down that road trying not to look
back through so much of yesterday’s dirt

and everything cracked


Gift Tag Missing

Morning sun peeled itself back,
unwrapped in crackly cellophane,
discarding the tangle of ribbon rays,
glaring in appearance.
Today would be bright and brave.

I placed my toes into the sea
and felt you shiver on the other side.
You always draw away it seems,
even with the cool of oceans current deep
in between,
the stirrings of salt and sand.

How is it I still make you move,
uncomfortable, continents a part?
Tossing country after country between our hands
with you alive right now
living on a completely different day.
And I,
..here, only
..in your yesterday.

Is that why you cut hastily?
Scissors ripping through final
..strips of our days,
while I kept pressing more tape to mask?

The underbelly of the sun burns Mylar curls
tied.
Looking at your gift tag,
foreign, missing
any mention of my name.


His Sleeves

She let me touch
His sleeves, his military shirts
Fabrics that covered his back
The delicacy in weave of life and war

Holes were left
For arms
That wrapped securing
His rifle, her

The flag brings little comfort

She let me smell his scent
Trapped within these drawers
Pulling him free from destruction

Tears fell
Shrapnel in her sky
No one cares about the aftermath

As we boxed him


Heather M. Browne is a faith-based psychotherapist, recently nominated for the Pushcart Award, published in the Orange Room, Boston Literary Review, Page & Spine, Eunoia Review, Poetry Quarterly, Red Fez, Electric Windmill, Apeiron, The Lake, Knot, mad swirl. Red Dashboard released her first collection, Directions of Folding (2014).
Follow her: www.thehealedheart.net

Chris Hardy – four poems

Catching Up

He chases a sparrow
that flies away
when he gets near

then lands and
as he catches up
flies off again.

I want to tell him,
but cannot work out how
or why,

that life is a sparrow
which flies away
when you get close,

and if you ever do
wrap your hands around
its frail, winged body

the frightened heart
beating beneath your fingers
will make you
let it go.


Kush
Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile

With one hand on a wooden rod
she holds her reed boat still.
Nearby a rock, shaped like a turtle,
flickers with light.

The river flows through the lake
then goes thousands of miles
to push an arc of mud
into the sea.

Shallow water between islands
beneath the sun, that can see
this brown green eye
looking up from the mountain,

and the woman leaving her home,
taking eels and millet to market,
moving across
the centre of my life.


Reunion

I walk up to you,
you read the name
pinned to my shirt,
and that first tussle
on the bed comes back,
white muscles
turning above me
as your top came off.

I say, You haven’t changed,
to your sprayed face and
upright posture
in the wheelchair
against the table,
where your name is stuck
to a plate.

You see through me
for the last time
as we watch the past
on rewind in a cinema
of ancient strangers.


From Start to Finish

Standing by the kerb
listening.
the stall holder waits
patiently.

What will you have
today?
After a while
you answer,

Tomorrow I will have
my baby.
He smiles and offers you
an apple.

Next morning
in the hospital lift
you give birth
to our daughter.

Surrounded by people
from start to finish
you are alone
until it’s done.

There is only
one other thing
like it.


“I have been published widely in magazines (Rialto, Poetry Review, the North etc), anthologies (e.g. Forward Prize) and on-line (Ink Sweat and Tears, poetrypf etc). I have won a few prizes including one in the National Poetry Competition. My fourth collection is due out in 2017 from Indigo Dreams. I am in LiTTLe MACHiNe. We set famous poems to music and perform at literary festivals. We have recorded five albums, including one featuring the Poet Laureate and very recently, The Likes Of Us, with Roger McGough, who we are gigging with now.”
http://www.little-machine.com/

Simon Williams – two poems

Reboot

Do you find
when you wake in the morning
that you can make it to the bathroom
before the memories you had last night
get re-installed?

As if you have
a bootstrap loader that flips in
at start-up, enough to handle
basic locomotion, vision, motor control,
urination,

but not the big stuff
or the trivia which fills your allocated
2.5 petabytes. That arrives file-by-file,
so ‘I wrote a poem on sheep’ comes in
just after ‘dentist appointment’

and ‘I bought Shreddies’
follows ‘deadline on printer review’.
Loading from long term to central processor
completes in around five minutes.
Or is that just me?


Tyre Tracks

No two snowflakes match.
No two tyre treads make
the same impressions.
No two drivers are
the same in how they

back out, where they’re
going, why they choose
to drive on a day
like this, when the snow
is thin enough to

move on, without chains,
but also thick enough
for tobogganing.
If you’re tempted
at such cold times to

try for the office,
rather than trudge up
the slope above Chalk
Ford and slide to show
what Moors are for,

remember the poor
joker who drew the
Slippery Road sign, with
impossible crossing tyre
tracks. He drove to work.

slippery-road-sign


Simon Williams has written poetry for 35 years. It ranges widely, from quirky pieces often derived from news items or science and technology, to biographical themes, to the occasional Clerihew. He has several published collections, the latest being Spotting Capybaras in the Word of Marc Chagall (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2016) and Inti (Oversteps Books, 2016). Simon has a website at simonwilliamspoet.moonfruit.com, was The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded The Broadsheet. He makes a living as a journalist.

Phil Wood – three poems

Last Orders

He’s faded through the hullabaloo,
mutters more beer, more fun – his epitaph.
The tattooed knuckles no longer fist
a threat. My father’s head resting on
the table, mouthing a Johnny Cash song
that mists his glass, but empties mine.


Scribe

The ceiling’s low, he either stoops or cracks
his head. It moulds a humbleness of stature.

He pens the script by habit in black ink,
the magic of writing will clot his doubt.

He counts the letters, and utters every word.
A pause before the nests in dusty corners

shall hatch, pupate, shiver to guilt again.
Insomnia is a fist of fluttering moths.


Debt

Above the promise of this farm
the gods clench fists, pummel clouds
until crops are knuckled by rain;
there’s thunder and lightning,
– gods thrive on melodrama.

After the gun smoke sky
a flash of magpie in flight over
the hurrying sorrow of debt.
Not for me, granddad whispers,
the room rutted with hope.


Phil Wood works in a statistics office. He enjoys working with numbers and words. His writing can be found in various publications, most recently in: Sein und Werden, Ink Sweat and Tears, Autumn Sky Poetry, London Grip and The Centrifugal Eye.