Waiting – Rachel Bower

 

I scrutinise my nipples for sap

but I’m not even sure where to look

and listen carefully for a splash

of colour but hear nothing I know.

 

It’s been months of course

but I think you might not come now

and even with your head between my walking legs

I do not know where you are.

 

In time my body will prove wiser

and when all that raspberry tea and swirling

does not bring you any quicker

I feel into age-old maps of women.

You will come when it is time.

 

 

Rachel Bower photoRachel Bower is a poet and research fellow at the University of Leeds. Her pamphlet, Moon Milk, will be published with Valley Press in May 2018. She is currently co-editing an anthology with Helen Mort entitled Verse Matters, which is out with Valley Press in November 2017. Her book, Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010 will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in August 2017. Rachel’s poems have been published by Stand Magazine, BBC Radio, Now Then Magazine, Valley Press, Three Drops Press, The Stare’s Nest, Pankhearst and others, and she has had poems shortlisted for several prizes, including The London Magazine Poetry Prize and the Plough Prize 2016. She is also the founder of Verse Matters, a feminist arts collective in Sheffield.

On Memory – Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt

 

Memory is a laughing girl, eager, unafraid.

See how she streaks, quick and unruly,

untrammelled as her sun-spilled hair,

with never a care in this shimmering world

nor yet a glance over her pale, freckled shoulder.

 

Now the days of half a century trouble her less

than the fuzzy recollections of a week ago.

Still she follows the path that teases and twists 
to where she will falter and stumble.

Here there waits the child who ran brave

and head-back breathless through

the skulking tea-time trees.

 

Once she thought her heart would be lost,

swallowed by that fairy tale forest.

Now she see a clearing, a shaft of light,

and a hedge as dense as a wall.

From behind it rises like the not long dead

the voices of a dozen women working.

One of them sings in clear high tones

above the clamour of their children at play.

 

It is late afternoon when the roosting sun

burnishes the slope of the roof tops.

From out the long shadows a hook-nosed crone 
comes creeping to bless the way.

 

SONY DSC

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt writes poetry and short fiction from her home in Penzance, Cornwall where she lives with her singer/songwriter partner David and her little dog, Percy. Formerly a teacher of English and English Literature, her work has now appeared in more than a hundred journals, magazines and anthologies and on several continents. When she is not actually writing or performing her work she is most likely to be reading, hooking rugs or walking by the ocean.

Wabi Sabi – Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt

 

Removal man

comes early:

apple cheeks, a cheery,

tuneless whistle.

Peaked flat cap,

gruff step on gravel,

Then rat-tat-tatting

at the door.

He slurps his sweet tea,

slaps his broad, beef hands,

makes a pontification

of platitudes.

Best get on,

a job well done,

makes a rosary of

early birds and worms.

‘Change,’ he ruminates,

as he considers my furniture,

sizes up my desk

and old sideboard.

‘Change,’ he grunts,

‘is part of life’s fabric.

Everything tends

toward decay.’

 

SONY DSCAbigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt writes poetry and short fiction from her home in Penzance, Cornwall where she lives with her singer/songwriter partner David and her little dog, Percy. Formerly a teacher of English and English Literature, her work has now appeared in more than a hundred journals, magazines and anthologies and on several continents. When she is not actually writing or performing her work she is most likely to be reading, hooking rugs or walking by the ocean.

Comparing Scars – James Diaz

 

the apple did fall far from the tree

and went out into the dark

with almost no light

inside

 

some places are all haunting

nothing else matters

but that you leave there shaken

 

when I was younger

I had an impossible dream

that I could grow old

and not be happy

but still be in the world

 

living in a place no one could find

I wouldn’t have needed much

a chair, a table, a bowl, a spoon

a front door

a few years of silence

of forgetting.

 

IMG_8420James Diaz is the founding editor of the literary arts & music journal Anti-Heroin Chic. His work has appeared most recently in HIV Here & Now, Foliate Oak, Chronogram, and Cheap Pop Lit. His first book of poems, This Someone I Call Stranger, is forthcoming from Indolent Books (2017.)

When The Wind Came Up – Jackie Davis Martin

 

When the wind came up she hated the world. Before that, before the sand started whirling around, before her ears hurt with the sudden gusts, she’d found a moment of peace, as slim and painstaking as the slight parenthesis of the moon, now obscured by heavy clouds scuttling urgently. Before the moon disappeared, before the wind came up, she’d considered that maybe there was some point to surviving, something to be said for living in the moment the way her grief group was instructed to think. She could see it then, standing next to her close friend, another woman old as she was, but both young because they’d known each other for so many years they carried the former selves within the old and didn’t see the new old. There was some peace in knowing that she didn’t have to achieve anything more and having the company of her friend to watch the ocean, listen to its gentle shushes. But then the wind came up. At first the women stayed, trying to discern the speed of the tide, walking backward up the grassy knoll to the parking lot that overlooked the beach. But then, with sand whipping around them suddenly, they couldn’t see well and sought shelter in the car, which they quickly discovered had a flat, and so called for roadside help and waited in howling wind and the growing dark and had nothing more to say. Now she was back in her own head, locked into a loss as solid as this car, the wind blowing billows of sand, the world too much to interpret once again. When the truck arrived, its lights flashing into the darkness, and a young man with a jack got out, she understood why people found faith.

 

Jackie Davis Martin has had stories published in journals that include Flash, Flashquake, Fractured West, and Dogzplot, as well as story collections Modern Shorts, Love on the Road, and the recent Road Stories.. Prizes were awarded by New Millennium and On the Premise and finalist placements fjdmor a novella (Press 53) and a chapbook of flash fiction (Conium Review). A memoir, Surviving Susan, was published in 2012.  Jackie teaches at City College of San Francisco.

 

Natural disaster – Roma Havers

 

Black ice skitters us sideways,

Toes curling to grip what can’t be gripped,

We fold in together, back in the jack-in-the-box,

Bruised fabrics and china faces, almost smashed

But only crumpled like plastic bottles

In skips they fall against, blueing and breaking red lines

On precious skin.

 

Dust rises against noses and mouths,

Twists into taste with the remainder of suckled sweets,

Shuddering tarmac emits dark smells,

And we avoid doorways like the spirit of Passover,

The earth splinters, ripping things apart

That should only revolve slowly,

Like tufts of snow.

 

Water chucks chins, cranking necks,

Pressure builds in stomachs and hearts,

Legs flounder like they’re caught in machines,

Cogs still turning, grinding them into the world,

And then the lid of the earth slams down,

Latching its final latch on its impenetrable

Steel water chest.

 

It is not these things I fear,

Not the dark destructions of a turning world,

Mother Earth can take me as she chooses.

 

No, I fear the wrath of untended hands

squeezing finders through my ribs.

I fear a misstep, scabbing my face shut

into blindness.

I fear the ticking shelves in my skull

will tip over and plunge me into the goldfish bowl

of empty memories.

 

roma-haversRoma Havers is a Manchester-based poet, currently in her third year of an Drama and English degree at The University of Manchester where she is the Books Editor for The Mancunion and Chair of the Creative Writing Society. She performs regularly at spoken word nights, and events such as Reclaim the Night and UniPresents.