Separation – Rachel Lewis

 

In seconds the ice will crack bright on the pond.

You’ll lift a bubble of it in your hand, ungloved.

In minutes the mud will have soaked through our shoes,

And we’ll leave behind the gardens and the bending statues.

In an hour’s time we’ll leave this place I’ve always loved

And in a day anyone might have come or gone.

 

Hot, tight, soft, close, are goodbyes here,

As though intensity could be a kind of glue,

For all the things we’ve promised here, to glue

Them to my promise that next year,

This city, here.

 

 

Rachel headshot portraitRachel is a London-based poet. She was previously a poetry editor for the Mays Anthology and a Young Producer with Poet in the City. Her poetry can also be found on the Poetry Society website, in the Dawntreader and Kindling journals, and unpredictably at live events around London.

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We Will Not Wander More – Louise Wilford

 

We will not wander more. No lotus-blossom keeps

us in our seats, but just the glitter on the wall that seeps

 

into our souls. We love the soothing lullabies of lies

and loss that roll like waves of smoke across our eyes.

 

These padded gondolas will rest our limbs. Our long

hallucinations glow like pearls. Here sounds our final song. 

 

The dying skeletons of ships float by above,

but here we rest, below – bereft of love.

 

The sob of marriage split, of love betrayed,

of feuds and frauds and factions – all displayed

 

in widescreen, stretching thought just broad and high

enough for skimpy hearts and those who’re wide of eye.

 

 

unnamed (2)Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford is an English teacher and examiner. She has had around 60 poems and short stories published in magazines including Popshot, Pushing Out The Boat and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. She is currently writing a children’s fantasy novel.

Ithaca – Rachel Lewis

 

My wife is behind me

And my life before.

The sky lit from inside itself

With golden dying day.

Turning itself,

Turning itself,

And turning again.

We are sailing east

Towards a dawn

That has not yet risen and will not

Til terrors past absolve us

Of having left at all.

Ithaca, sharpening blue

And deepening silver,

My house just one

In our city stretching out the coast.

My father buried there, his dust

Rising in flowers touching heads to dew.

My nurses there, their old hands threading

At baby clothes, sat in sun smiling wrinkled.

Ithaca I can feel you holding back.

Something in me will not come with me.

It will stay murmuring in the cypress,

It will croak with the cicadas at night,

It will live with the snakes in the sand and the gulls on the water.

Promises, winds,

They cannot move a weight of water.

Ithaca I promise

I have never and will never leave you

Even as winds blow me on

Into the rose red grasp

Of this first dawn alone.

 

 

Rachel headshot portraitRachel is a London-based poet. She was previously a poetry editor for the Mays Anthology and a Young Producer with Poet in the City. Her poetry can also be found on the Poetry Society website, in the Dawntreader and Kindling journals, and unpredictably at live events around London.

Sunset in October – Louise Wilford

 

The air ticks – the wandering, wild strum of it

breaking through me, rattling the pebbles

like long-dried bones.

 

The wind whines – the banshee bawl of it,

screaming through ginnels of granite,

on the high moor.

 

The land shivers, pulling its coat of gorse 

and heather tight round its ears,

shrugging me off.

 

And the earth drinks the sky.

 

 

unnamed (2)Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford is an English teacher and examiner. She has had around 60 poems and short stories published in magazines including Popshot, Pushing Out The Boat and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. She is currently writing a children’s fantasy novel.

Coldharbour Lane – Rebecca Metcalfe

 

You drive to the end of the lane. Past the rice factory, the seafood processing plant, the paper factory, the chemical works, the pharmaceutical plant. Grey upon grey upon grey sails past your car window and then disappears into your rear-view mirror as you drive further down the lane. You reach the turning at the end of the lane, the road narrows and there are dense bushes either side. You reach the carpark at the end, and you see the river. The wide, grey river where the tide beats endlessly on, eastwards. Mud lines the banks on both sides, thick, stinking mud that will never clean off. The footprints snaking across this ooze show the steps took by recently-flown wading birds that are now no longer to be seen. A bit closer to the water, the hulking mass of the concrete barges, leftover from some war long past, sit and refuse to rot, only crumble slowly. Then there’s the metal statue of a diver, who looks like a cage and crawls out of the water whenever the tide is going out. He will never reach the bank. The water of the river is violent and boats jolt along it. Police boats or cargo boats carrying industrial containers in and out of the city. Going eastward, they are on the very edges of the city now. The factory smoke mixes with the clouds and they roll across the paleness along with the tide, heading out to sea and waiting to hit the vast East Anglian sky.

 

 

22752130_10210178275199633_1006394601_nRebecca Metcalfe is a 22-year-old student and writer from Essex. She did her undergraduate degree at the University of Chester and is now studying for an MA in Victorian Literature from the University of Liverpool. She has been published in Pandora’s Box, Flash: The International Short Story Magazine and in the Electric Reads Young Writers’ Anthology 2017.

Rain – Louise Wilford

 

The rain, it raineth every day.

Slugs cower beneath the pavement slabs –

the sage leaves curl, their powder spent –

the quilted mint leaves pillow through their veins

and spears of tarragon drip glassy beads.

 

The painted terracotta cat

no longer casts out beams of candle light,

just snivels, shoulders huddled in the chill.

The real cat shelters underneath the bench.

The rain, it raineth every day.

 

The rain, it raineth every day.

Chlorophyll glisters green on every branch.

The guttering spews an endless waterfall.

The rags of rubbish blown out of some skip

are stuck with watery bullets to the fence.

 

The rain, it raineth every day.

The traffic is a dampened lullaby,

a pebbled stream that boils across a weir,

the ache of a wave collapsing on a beach,

nudging the rounded rocks and shells.

 

But still the loud rich smell of dampened earth,

the bursts of thyme and parsley as I pass,

the slick pink smell of early flowers, 

trumpets the spring through the cloud-drenched air.

But the rain, it raineth every day.

 

 

unnamed (2)Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford is an English teacher and examiner. She has had around 60 poems and short stories published in magazines including Popshot, Pushing Out The Boat and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. She is currently writing a children’s fantasy novel.

Childlessness – Antony Owen

 

You and I have perfected being invisible,

to be the disappearing dot as people move on

we will always be children growing grey like shovelled snow.

~

You and I have swallowed bruises from joy at others’ children,

made chemical love with natural hopes to conceive

mourned in revelations of blue stripe tombs.

~

We wanted a baby so bad I held you like one in our Ikea tomb.

At seven PM on the dot we mixed potions dead of magic

I was so close to your skin and noticed you had gone.

~

You and I have heard it all like how one day it will happen for us

like Sheila and Tom down the road who sold a house for seed,

one night I stood naked in the firelight and doused the flames.

~

You alone knew that our spines are like hand rails on tube trains,

everyone is leaving and there is only you and I in the dark eye

the pin-prick daylight will not conceive us and we no longer weep.

~

I alone knew that my bloodline stops with me, thank god it stops

but remember the cherry tree that blossomed then died

they cut it down and the roots fought hard to keep it.

~

I alone know that you and I are sick and fucking tired of polite sadness,

to avoid the conversations that make others feel awkward because we are,

to realise that some family trees bear fruit so sweet it makes the wind smell bitter.

~

You alone know that the sharps box is Pandora’s box letting us out,

the needles mock us like talons of a crow on Jacobite earth

next week is our check-up but we are nether here or there.

~

I alone know as a man who sees our children writhing in the dreamcatcher

that there is a beach with a gate for us where the sea-smoke cools the sun,

I alone know that the manger of loving you is more than tangible life.

 

 

biopic 3Antony Owen was raised in the industrial heartland of Coventry which is a notable inspiration of his work. Owen is also a critically acclaimed writer on war poems with work translated in Japanese, Mandarin and Dutch. His fifth collection of poetry, The Nagasaki Elder, (V.Press) was published in September 2017 and is already its 2nd print run. The Nagasaki Elder was inspired by direct testimonies of atomic bomb survivors taken in Hiroshima plus evacuees displaced from conflict. Owen’s work has been commissioned by BBC and National Poetry Day and is regularly taught in Hiroshima at monthly poetry workshops by Professor Klein. He was chosen by CND UK as one their first national peace education patrons alongside AL Kennedy. Owen was also a recipient Coventry’s 2016 Peace & Reconciliation Award.

Newt – Lynn White

 

I can understand

why

on a hot, hot day,

Lawrence’s snake appeared thirstily

at his water trough.

And why his lizard ran out

onto a rock

to flaunt himself in the sunshine.

But why

on a wet, wet day,

a newt should leave

her splendidly moist habitat

and venture hazardously

into the dry warmth of my kitchen,

that

I cannot understand.

And, of course she couldn’t explain.

 

 

Lynn...Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem ‘A Rose For Gaza’ was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition 2014. This and many other poems, have been widely published, in recent anthologies such as – ‘Alice In Wonderland’ by Silver Birch Press, ‘The Border Crossed Us’ and ‘Rise’ from Vagabond Press and journals such as Apogee, Firewords Quarterly, Indie Soleil, Light and Snapdragon as well as many other online and print publications.

Sun against Moonspill – Hannah Downs

 

the kind of dream

surprised me.

 

the bruises

are

 

r e a l f a k e

 

(lost in questioning.)

 

thatsnotmyarm anditsnotyours

 

but

she

smile/speaks

 

all light

 

 

into gone glow.

 

 

 

the lamp posts

drifting out of sight(.)

 

clouds of

atmosphere below.

 

 

everything white.

 

She smile/laughs

us

 

into ruin

 

 

you/I

 

moon still.

 

 

image1Hannah is a student nurse at the University of Manchester who adores reading, writing and all other creative pursuits. She has previously self published a chapbook collection called Driftlight, and had their poem “Smile(.)” selected for Editor’s choice in the online magazine Under the Fable.

Alma Mater – Laura Potts

 

Widow-black and winter, evening took me south into

lamps burning blue in the dusk. Out and over my hometown musk

lay the hinterland hills breathing low in the dark. Still,

frostspark sharp on the city streets, holy rain sweet

in the winter and the wet, with no evening stars ahead I let

the pavement take me home. Through the town nocturnal, gloam

 

and grey, my chimney throat coughing its smoke, I saw aslope

on the city’s slow spine those old black gates, the summer of my days

inside. Grief cracked my face. Those navy girls and me, a pace

always ahead. But in the pale stairwell light the ghost of my girlhood dead

in its fresh green spring and gone. From roadside wet I looked on

at this child of light, her afterglow bright, her ashes of life

 

already black. The cold breath of loss on my face. At my back

a schoolbell cracked at the evening air. I saw Death at my table there

tipping his hat, and the years in my face that sank as I sat

at that desk at the back of the class. I remember that. And last,

on an old December evening, down hallways dark the wilting hymns

of girls turned ghosts before their time, I saw their eyes

 

like candles cold, like lights no longer leading home. Outside, to the bone

I shook and swung, the darkened seas that were my eyes done

and gone at the sight of myself. Each girl ringing her own passing bell.

Well, in that mist and half-dark morning, my face a clenching fist

in pavement pools, I saw that septic, terminal school

for what it was. No, I never went back, of course.

 

I tipped my compass north.

 

 

527Laura Potts is twenty-one years old and lives in West Yorkshire. She has twice been named a Foyle Young Poet. Her poems have appeared in Seamus Heaney’s Agenda, The Interpreter’s House and Poetry Salzburg Review. She has recently been shortlisted for a Charter-Oak Award for Best Historical Fiction at The University of Colorado and also made The 2017 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize shortlist. This year Laura became one of The Poetry Business’ New Poets and a BBC New Voice for 2017. Her first BBC radio drama Sweet The Mourning Dew will air at Christmas 2017.

The Spider – Beth Barker

 

her hairy spindles await movement.

an eighth of the almond beads

embroidering her crown

rolls, scrolls across the green

surrounds, spots the anticipated.

she detects what she needs

and what she craves like the prayers

for breeze in heat or 

melodious noise to fill deathly 

silence.

she’s feared and she revels in

her loneliness.

 

the meagre

body crawls close, too

self-assured, thinks he can

take

take

take 

like the rest of them.

her glare deep enough to 

see every hair on his back,

and abdomen that hides a heart throbbing

with licentiousness self-proclaimed.

he oozes hopes to take his fill

and populate, as he was born to do,

birth rights plastered into clear view

by wandering legs, irritating strut, infernal self-absorption,

watering at the mouth and-

 

she strikes.

 

interlocked, one two three, a quick finish.

the deed is already done, relief

makes her hairs stand to attention like soldiers

preparing for battle.

the skies glow divine, the gods know

the main event is yet to

come.

legs steadfastly wrapped, she holds him close,

little heart beating like a little drum.

 

a warm embrace and the silent entrance

of a merciless pair, gliding through skin.

oozing supremacy complex now

swimming in crimson,

delectable.

she’s drinking him and she’s eating him

in her favourite position.

crafts a web, sticky gleaming thread,

secures her day’s work

well done.

 

 

Photo on 26-10-2017 at 14.44Beth Barker is a poet, student and zinester, writing in Manchester. Whilst her appreciation for literature is now explored through her degree at the University of Manchester, her love for writing manifests itself on her blog. Her first recognition was the Poetry for Peace contest between the colleges in her hometown of Blackpool, resulting in a first prize win. When she isn’t writing poetry, Beth enjoys making zines, drinking coffee and embroidering art inspired by her words. She blogs at https://brdbwords.wordpress.com.

Fight or flight – Angelica Krikler

 

Come and lie with us, the flowers said, you have nothing now. Like us, there is no one to love you and your marriage bed must be the thorn bush, your funeral pyre the dams that will not break

Forget keeping your physique and the limescale in the kettle

You are a leopard in the snow. There is no way you will survive

Everything you planted will turn against you

Soon you’ll forget about hairdressers, and you’ll start to malt like us

And songs will be nothing more than the hum of crickets, the sound of your own fist beating your body

Scallop shells will give birth to you

Family will simply be nature’s surrounding colours

And your lipstick will be a rush of blood

Or else, write until the pen runs out

 

 

unnamedAngelica Krikler is a student from Essex who is hoping to study English Literature at university next year. She spends her time writing, reading and watching American stand-up. She has previously been published in The Claremont Review, Morphrog, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Y-Magazine and Cake Magazine.

saving a shell – Paul Waring

 

I picked you from a shallow grave

of mussel shells one of many 

that lie close to the sea wall beneath 

the promenade left exposed when 

the tide rolls back into the horizon

 

haphazard clusters of naked nacreous 

sockets without eyes and blue-black 

domes of weathered backs in rockpools 

at rest on soft skin of red and grey

pebble and stone I chose you

 

I don’t know why I stepped over 

seaweed tendrils sprawled on sandstone 

to ask questions about your secret life 

how you met death unglued unhinged 

prised open cracked like a code 

 

scooped out by curve-billed curlew

or common gull abandoned washed 

and buried here by the incoming tide 

in this ghetto of empty homes I don’t 

know why I thought I could save you

 

 

IMG_6036Paul Waring is a retired clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and was a singer/songwriter in several Liverpool bands. His poems have appeared in journals/sites including Reach Poetry, Eunoia Review, The Open Mouse and are forthcoming in Clear Poetry and Amaryllis. He recently returned from living in Spain and Portugal and continues to enjoy being re-acquainted with the wonderful variety of nature in Wirral and other parts of Britain. His blog is https://waringwords.wordpress.com.

Witchcraft – Andrew Nowell

 

I

 

She was always the one who was different.

Her lazy eye cast a roving shadow,

Fell at oblique angles into the netherworld

Where sin and desire might mingle.

 

The line-up was a simple job.

She stood no chance against the other eight.

Familiar number. Familiar fate.

 

After the burning the death pall

Hangs heavy over hovels, chokes air.

Reek of wood and rope lingers for days.

Charred splinters circle-blown by wind.

 

 

II

 

Anyone could have picked her out.

Anyone at all would have noticed her.

Accusers only needed eyes to speak.

 

These words return to him.

He feels their physical touch in blackened watches.

He yearns for cigars. He yearns for scotches.

 

I have never seen stars so black and cold.

Music from the future time-loops in my head.

A goddess without answers blows out the moon.

Gates open. A train stops in a fierce wind.

 

 

IMG_20170903_165005Andrew Nowell studied English literature at University College London where he completed an MA in Shakespeare and the Renaissance. Now a journalist working for a local newspaper, he is also looking to break into creative writing and poetry. He lives in Wigan.

Helianthus – Margaret Holbrook

 

These bright, brash plants standing

tall have no pretence.

They are what they are,

and don’t deny it.

 

Fields of them line the

French roadsides. Striking and

purposeful, they are not to be

meddled with.

 

Even their small siblings,

the ones bought in pots from

florists and garden-centres

have attitude.

 

These plants are not shrinking-

violets. You will not find them

cowering in shade or damp woodland;

they are showy, proud, in your face,

demanding to be seen.

 

If sunflowers could speak,

They would be loud, outspoken,

heard above the crowd,

unable to help themselves.

 

But,

sunflowers are silent, intent

on following the sun,

looking for love; and

all the while in that beautiful head,

Fibonacci numbers are calculated,

seeds plotting their spiral patterns.

 

“Helianthus” previously appeared in The Poetry Shed.

 

IMG_0641Margaret Holbrook lives in Cheshire, UK, where she writes poetry, plays and fiction. Her work has appeared widely online and in print including publications such as Jellyfish Whispers, The Poetry Shed, Schooldays, Best of British, Orbis, The Journal. Her latest poetry collection, Not Exactly Life was published in September 2017 and all the poetry features women; from life, fiction, film and history. ‘Where else,’ she says, ‘would Lucrezia Borgia, Jean Harlow and my mum all appear in the same volume?’ Find out more at www.margaretholbrookwrites.weebly.com.