The prints you laid – Gareth Culshaw

 

The coast elbowed the land

a sea came from afar

nudged the pebbles until they rolled.

 

We walked. Left a memory

in the road. I unclipped

the lead from my hand,

 

and you cut away the distance

between yourself and a gull.

 

I followed the earth’s golden dust

as you pounded the edge of land

and water.

 

An oystercatcher flicked up into the gulp.

I watched the sun on your fur

 

that carried light, put prints

in the sand before I got there.

 

I hope they’re still around to lead me

when I go back, alone.

 


Gareth lives in Wales. He has two collections by FutureCycle, The Miner & A Bard’s View. He is a current student at Manchester Met.

A Chapel of Sunflowers – Marc Janssen

 

Driving out west of town

There is a field, maybe part of an abandoned farm,

Filled with sunflowers.

There should be a name for a group of sunflowers,

Rank on jumble they stand

Lion-faced their ragged yellow manes roar in a June rain shower.

Their faces a cloud confusion.

 

This field of flowers could be called a landscape of sunflowers

A beauty of sunflowers

A Saint Francis of sunflowers

A van Gogh of sunflowers

A peal

A heart

A tender

A good grove of sunflowers.

 

Then it was gone

Somewhere behind me,

And the next thing comes into view

Between rain drops

Green and colorful and new.

 


Marc Janssen lives in a house with a wife who likes him and a cat who loathes him. Regardless of that turmoil, his poetry can be found scattered around the world in places like Penumbra, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast and Poetry Salzburg. Janssen also coordinates the Salem Poetry Project, a weekly reading, the annual Salem Poetry Festival, and was a 2020 nominee for Oregon Poet Laureate.

Ghosts in the Nursery – Kerry Ryan

 

Will you help me? My son says.

Always, I reply, as I always do.

He looks up from his Lego.

What if one day you say no?

(To play what ifs is his favourite).

I laugh. That’ll never happen.

He pulls a roof tile off a brick.

But do some mamas not help?

 

My mind drills through years

to rain, ocean, storm.

 

Outside, a child wails.

Oh, that sound, I say.

My son frowns. What sound?

I can’t hear anything.

 


Kerry is the founder of Write like a Grrrl. Her writing has been featured in various publications including Steer, The Manchester Review, the Kenyon Review and Spilling Ink. Kerry has recently been published in Queerlings and has poems forthcoming from Off Menu Press. Her play Trust was recently performed at the Gulbenkian Theatre. Find Kerry on Twitter @writelikeagrrrl and at www.writelikeagrrrl.com.

White Butterflies – Andy Eycott

 

White butterflies

crisp as a new playing cards,

hinged wings

guitar picks strumming.

 

The first rests on yellow petals

the second fluttering

over blackberries ripening,

both blown into the bushes

 

as a train that doesn’t stop 

at this station thunders through.

A flash of bright white returns

drawn back by a dandelion sun.

 


Andy lives in South East London and currently works within the NHS. Since being diagnosed with dyslexia at forty-eight he has been published in a number of magazines and anthologies. These include Obsessed with Pipework, Worktown Words, Orbis, The Dawntreader, The Cannon’s Mouth, Snakeskin, Runcible Spoon, Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Poems in the Waiting Room. He had also qualified as a counsellor and enjoys writing stories for his grandson.

oakfruit – Martin Potter

 

an oak’s

robustness all

reduced to essence nutwise

gloss green encased shaping egg

its sticky thimble cup

unclasps to earth

the acorn

 


Martin Potter (https://martinpotterpoet.home.blog) is a poet and academic, and his poems have appeared in Acumen, The French Literary Review, Eborakon, Scintilla, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Poetry Village, and other journals. His pamphlet In the Particular was published by Eyewear in December, 2017.

El Dorado – Ted Mc Carthy

 

“The fish fanciers, sitting by their ponds and gazing

into their depths, were tracing shadows

darker than they understood.” – Rubicon by Tom Holland

 

Arid – it took twenty years for the word to come.

And what did we expect, creeping that Saturday

down laneways whose leaves were dying into red,

towards the El Dorado of an orchard whispered about,

its apples untasted for years, guarded by a gun?

How near we were to town. How easily lost.

 

The youngest, last seen years ago, standing asleep,

wedged between three squatters in a phone box.

His eyes, they said, when he opened them, still had

that child’s disappointment at finding his last sweet gone;

suddenly he remembered himself and retreated.

He was a river of words at twelve

 

and I remember him now, from nowhere,

his life too fierce and frank to be glossed over,

unlike the rest of us, we on the cusp then of knowing

not the taste but the craving for it. So on

we blundered, countryside itching under our collars

until we turned and stumbled into a yard

 

ringed by trees, their fruit greener than leaves,

huge, monstrous almost. But we had to pick them.

And the house. No gun as frightening

as that abandoned silence, or the comb-teeth

litter of fish we knew we’d seen in books.

Never earth so bare as that dried pond.

 


Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, November Wedding, and Beverly Downs. His work can be found on www.tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com.

Patchwork Candle – Cat Caie

 

I used up all my candles, collected all the leftover wax.

My big Orange, Cinnamon and Clove came to an end.

Rusty flames, heat in my cheeks, an envelope-seal kissed shut.

 

I bought you a ring with my words engraved in.

Liquid gold melted wax over your silver band in a jar,

I poured in your favourite colour to cover the question up.

 

Now, I wait.

 

You’ll burn the wick whilst I pace alongside the festive scent.

Autumnal colours make it smaller everyday.

Maybe you’ll find the answer at the bottom of the jar.

 

I wonder how long it will take.

I wonder how long the candle will last.

I wonder, what will be your answer to the question I asked?

 


Cat Caie is a poet and writer who is currently based in Liverpool. Studying Creative Writing and Popular Music, she cites inspirations such as Orla Gartland, Halsey and Philip Pullman.

Souvenir – Isabel Greenslade

 

I left the car on the cliff top,

went looking for a toilet, found a bird.

There used to be a coal mine under here –

that’s what the guidebook said,

and the mark on the map.

 

It’s long dead, whatever it was,

probably dead when I was at home

looking it up in the bird book.

Fieldfare? Thrush? Which colour plate,

which description did it fit?

Anyway, there it was, trapped in a toilet block

in a car park empty of other visitors.

There were only two of us.

 

This assemblage of stone sand wind and air

progressed up and down the cubicles,

one two three four five five four three two one

its feet scrabbling on the overhead cisterns.

Too far above me to catch, it wouldn’t be wafted

towards the doorway with my map.

 

Already I was trying to name it as it struck

at the skylight that we could both see.

Death was always certain – inside a neglected egg,

by teeth or talon, by being shaken loose.

It didn’t need its name, only the sky which turned solid on it.

 

I flushed and walked out over the stone floor

into the wind, past the laminated pictures of the mine.

I got back into the car, drove to the heritage museum

where miners are trapped on a screen, to be bidden by a button

so someone knows they’re still there.

 

It’s history now, that bird. I thought about it

on the motorway all the way home.

 


Isabel is from and of London where she works in a museum. In a former life she was a youth worker then a tour guide. Her poems has been published in Orbis and she can be found discussing poetry, art, gardening urban history, and the natural world on her Instagram account @ijgreenslade.

Flowers and night-time flowers – DS Maolalai

 

camden. the bus

flipped like a swing

in bad weather

with somebody

kicking their heels.

11pm. earth gone

grey in salty

shades of orange.

the shops all closed, bars

curled open,

like flowers

giving way to night-

time flowers. someone

already hammered,

being sick in a corner

next to a fish shop.

pavement alive

like a pond

with ducks.

a part of the city

with evening in shades,

beautiful and busy.

stylish people

and shirts

bought from second

hand stores.

 


DS Maolalai has been nominated eight times for Best of the Net and five times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019).

Haze – Neil Fulwood

 

Soft haze hangs

over trees, over road,

view losing focus

near broken gate

at field’s edge,

rich man’s house

vaguely outlined

a half mile away.

The rumble

that trembles teacup

could be anything

passing at any

distance at any

point in time.

 


Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham, England, where he still lives and works. He has published two pamphlets with The Black Light Engine Room Press, Numbers Stations and The Little Book of Forced Calm; and two full collections with Shoestring Press, No Avoiding It and Can’t Take Me Anywhere. His third collection, Service Cancelled, is due for publication later this year.

Traces – Lorraine Carey

 

I have a friend

without fingerprints.

She worked in the corner shop

and the fact that her tips

lacked those delicate swirls

only came to light,

 

when takings didn’t tally

with receipts and the police

arrived to take prints.

Her innocence undisputed

and the culprit shown the door.

 

We said she was special,

unique, joked she’d make

a superb criminal,

with no evidence on door knobs,

or traces left behind,

 

tongues firmly in our cheeks

and elevated in an instant

she drifted from us

with our traceable whorls,

just ordinary girls,

nothing special.

 


Lorraine Carey’s an Irish poet from Co. Donegal. Her work is widely published in Poetry Ireland Review, Abridged, The Rising Phoenix Review, Constellate, Orbis, Prole, Smithereens, Porridge, The High Window, The Honest Ulsterman and Poetry Birmingham among others. She has poems forthcoming in Eunoia Review and One. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has been placed and shortlisted in several competitions including Trocaire / Poetry Ireland, The Blue Nib Chapbook Competition, Listowel Writers’ Week, The Allingham Prize and was longlisted in The National Poetry Competition 2019. Her poems have been broadcast on local and national radio. Her debut collection is From Doll House Windows (Revival Press).

Beyond the Tree Line – Hugh Cartwright

 

It’s our first Christmas adrift in the stars.

And Molly’s first egg.

“Can I break it now?”

“Be gentle.”

Molly’s just four, the youngest of our tiny community. She taps the egg with fierce concentration, as if it’s the most important job in the Universe.

Suddenly the egg shatters and a glittering shape unfolds from among the fragments – a silver Christmas tree. It would weigh a handful of feathers on earth; here in deep space it floats effortlessly.

The tree glides quietly through the cabin until I tie it down with red ribbon. Our little group of 19 gathers round in a circle, linking arms and singing carols.

On 12th night, Molly helps me shepherd her tree into the airlock and we set it free. It glides behind the ship, not wanting to leave. But, as the hours go by, it gradually falls away, dissolving into the star-strewn sky.

#

Our 27th Christmas; it will be the last before we reach our new home.

Molly is unwell, but she is our talisman; she must crack the final egg. A shimmering, golden tree emerges, capped with a crown of sparkling stars.

Our group now numbers 22. We gather around the tree for the final time, holding hands and singing carols.

On 12th night, Molly, whose memories were of nothing beyond our ship, is dead; she is the first to die.

27 trees drift behind in a soundless, invisible line, watching over us as we rush towards a world that Molly will never see.

 


Hugh’s not really a writer. His career has been spent in Universities, working at the interface of artificial intelligence and physical science. Now retired, he has begun to write occasional stories, some colored with elements of science fiction, others being just a little odd. It helps to take his mind off his impossible project: growing citrus trees in the Canadian climate.

Hot as a log – DS Maolalai

 

cold as logs

in water, a wet

and winter

evening. a rain

which cracks

the windows,

sounds like logs

in burning

hearths, and you

here on the sofa, curling

with me around tea.

you are hot as a log,

as solid and beautiful

as a pile of dried firewood

stacked carefully next

to a fire. outside, the grass

is wet and quite

miserable, taking weight

with the softness

of age-wilted salad.

even the dog’s

feeling anxious this evening

and rubbing the carpet

with her head.

 


DS Maolalai has been nominated eight times for Best of the Net and five times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019).

Interior design for fools – Demi Lloyd

 

Come and pick up your stuff by Thursday

or I’ll take it to the tip.

The voicemail repeats,

clanks round eardrums

 

I pull up, golden hour drips through,

glazes your ornaments. Bittersweet.

The white rabbit clock,

five minutes too fast.

 

I trace my fingers over the curves

of your sofa, green velvet hills

like last summer at the castle in Dover,

when we realised it might be over.

 

I look at your art for the last time,

shapes and maths, strong and clear.

My abstract dreamscape is

Decaying in a landfill

 

I collect what’s left of me.

Obnoxious orange and purple bags.

Full of the things you detested;

resting on your polished oak desk.

 

My wrist threads through the handles.

We could never thread love like that.

The cat, thrown from the cradle,

but she lands feet first.

 


Demi Lloyd recently gained a Masters degree in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University. She is part of a poetry group based in Nottingham called GOBS and is working towards her contribution to their spoken word showcase in March. In her spare time you can find her reading, listening to podcasts or thinking about cats.

Grief – Yvonne Gaskill

 

And there were days

Days when my chest screamed

My blood wept

And I choked on my own pain.

 

Days like empty glasses

Cold, cutting, cavernous.

 

And there were days

Days I felt so small

I could have slipped through pavement cracks

My skin so thin.

 

Days like vacant tombs,

Diminishing, decreasing, dying.

 


An English graduate, Yvonne has always enjoyed creative writing, particularly poetry. Recent bereavements have led her to write more as a kind of therapy. A journalist for more than 30 years in print and broadcasting, Yvonne covered everything from terrorist attacks to celebrity interviews. She reported and presented on regional TV and radio stations and also for national news networks in the UK.