On the third anniversary of the building site on St John Street – Ian Glass

On the third anniversary of the building site
on St John Street

For years we ignored the dull
1950s office block. For years
its misplaced architecture lay empty
and then we pulled it down.

And honestly, on that day
the town’s heart lightened.

We planted our hopes
in the levelled ground
and raised plywood boards,
painted red like theatre curtains,
to hold them safe.

Then we waited.

We waited as cars edged past
queueing in the weary morning.
We waited while pedestrians
weighed down with bags-for-life
stopped and peered through gaps;
while graffiti made cryptic claims
and was painted over;
while rain soaked the ground to mud
and the sun dried it to dust,
and while beneath it all
the Spadesbourne Brook ran on,
hidden in its concrete pipe.

We waited until the waiting faded.

And in the not waiting that followed
the plywood screen, painted red
like theatre curtains, became
just itself, a thing, a part of town,
not so much holding
as replacing hope.

 

Ian lives in Worcestershire where he works as a programmer while studying for an MA in Writing Poetry at Newcastle University. Ian’s first pamphlet ‘About Leaving’ will be published by V. Press later this year.

Heart – Gill McEvoy

Heart

It’s back there somewhere
along the miles I’ve walked.

Maybe someone’s picked it up
and is trying to make it work

or has taken it apart to see
if there’s anything useful inside.

It must be like leather now from rain and sun –
not much use to anyone.

I’ve got used to its absence;
life, as they said it would, went on.

All that heart ever held was you.
And once I thought that everything.

 

Gill left Chester and moved to Devon where she’s now a member of The Company Of Poets (Totnes) . She was winner of the 2015 Michael Marks Award for “The First Telling” (Happenstance Press).

Daughter – Hilary Hares

Daughter

If I had been son
………….she’d have stitched wings for me
…………………………………in her neat, feathered hand.

She’d have taught me
……………the languages of rain,
………………………..how to read cloud.

To practice I’d have floated up
……………with bright balloons of boys
……………………………flying on other mother’s wings.

Together we’d have studied ancient maps,
…………..running our fingers
……………………….,across their skins.

She’d have shown me hedgerows,
…………….the dynasties of water voles and hares,
…………………………all their small ways, how they feared

and when the day came
…………..to let me shine, she would have warmed
……………………….the morning sky.

 

Hilary Hares’ poems have found homes online and in print including Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Interpreter’s House, Magma, South and Stand. She has a Poetry MA from MMU and her collection, A Butterfly Lands on the Moon supports Loose Muse, Winchester.

 

 

Featured Publication – Quotidian by Paul Waring

Our featured publication for November is Quotidian by Paul Waring, published by Yaffle Press.

‘The quotidian remains exactly that until an artist, thinker, or in this case a poet of rare
observational skill decides to highlight its most mundane features or most camouflaged citizens and begins to explore them. On reading these poems one can only conclude that Waring is a voracious, and often carnivorous, people watcher with an admirable ability to balance empathy and wit. Should you ever suspect he’s watching you be aware or be blessed.’ Brett Evans

‘I love this aptly named collection of beautifully crafted and musical poetry. Here are the everyday lives of the lovers, the lost and the lonely, elevated by Waring’s profound empathy and tenderness. A gently humourous, minor key of a collection; not just the wind, but the whole city in my face’ Deborah Alma

‘Paul’s poetry is strikingly concise and muscular. Time and again he manages to compress themes and ideas that lesser poets would take pages to expound into simple looking stanzas. These poems will reward the reader who takes time with them, who unwraps their complexity one layer at a time. A rare talent whose work will stay with you.’ David J. Costello

‘Whether it’s shabby bedsits, people watching on the train or the sanctuary of an old man’s shed, this aptly titled collection reveals Waring’s knack of showing us the beauty and rueful humour of everyday life. The poems in Quotidian are sad, funny, wistful or tender; above all they are always kind and true.’ Ben Banyard

 

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On Bedsits

Three flights up
threadbare arthritic stairs
in damp stale air
a vase-less jumble
of nicotined furniture
sepia-tinted peeling walls
and clogged lungs of carpet.

Ill-fitting dentures
of sash windows rattle
as shivering lips
of curtain beg warmth
from a one-bar electric fire
that eats fifty pence pieces.

Cracked elbows of PVC sofa
sprout corn-coloured foam
tangerine acrylic of seats
singed and stained by careless
ciggies and TV dinners.

On a stripped bed a sagging
mattress reads like a DNA history
of real and imagined sex.

‘Tomorrow’s World’ on a grainy
black and white TV peddles
dreams of futures
in a language
we’ve yet to learn.

Previously published on Amaryllis

 

Water Stories

Most days a name that coats tongues —
a conversation crumb, ever-present on lips,
that might be the story of whoosh-spray
and wiper blades, a child’s bank holiday
face pressed up against car window. Or
the desert wanderer, divining what never
arrives, thirst starved like a wished kiss.
Timpani summer thunder, flocked cloud
shot through, throats stung by gunsmoke —
rain brought down in fathomless language
verbed as mizzle, sile or pelt; steeped fabric
of mountainside sheep or stubborn seagull
on chimney duty, wings batoned tight. A
pell mell race past waterfall, church bell
volleys down to burble in lake and stream.
Or stampede: news of flood spewed from
reservoir bowl or swollen sea, its laughter
breaching promenade walls. Rain fists
you might see batter streets, bouncing
up in apostrophes. Or new snow; the child
in us clinging to its powder-silent ballet.

Short-listed in 2019 Welshpool Poetry Competition

 

The Lady Next Door Is Lost

again, summons me from sleep with
familiar bangs and shouts in early hours.
Stands stooped, confused half-smile
and pleads: where am I? Artist eyes
now fixed into haunted stares. They
say for some the brain stops knitting
neurons, instead starts to unpick itself
row by row, stitches and seams slowly
disconnected from the here and now
until all-that-matters is out of reach.
I escort her home and if, over tea,
ask, let’s say, about her wedding day
photo in a frame she’ll light up again,
paint fine brushstroke detail: pearl
white taffeta gown, father’s words
in the car, that first dance. But next,
another half-smile; she’s certain I’m
the son who never visits, laughs off
any suggestion I only live next door.

Previously published in Prole

 

Paul Waring’s poetry has been published in print journals and online magazines including Prole, Strix, Here Comes Everyone, Amaryllis, Algebra of Owls, Three Drops From A Cauldron, Clear Poetry and Atrium. His work has also appeared in poetry anthologies such as Watch The Birdie (Beautiful Dragons, 2018), Well Dam (Beautiful Dragons, 2019) and Whirlagust (Yaffle Press, 2019). He was runner-up in the 2019 Yaffle Prize and commended and shortlisted in the 2019 Welshpool Poetry Competition. As a planning team member of this year’s inaugural Wirral Poetry Festival, Paul created and co-facilitated several events and workshops. His debut pamphlet Quotidian was published this year by Yaffle Press.
‘Quotidian’ is available for purchase via Paul’s website: https://waringwords.blog

Steelwomen – Helen Angell

Steelwomen

Those moments still exist
when you changed your clothes
just to meet your mother from Wostenholm’s,
took the downhill walk in the softening sun
that turned the white fascias pink.

In your lungs there is air light as finches,
footsteps on warm gravel in new summer shoes.
One speeds to another —
iridescence, a yellow gold
serpentine chain.

There is so much freedom in happiness.

On Wellington Street, soft white feathers
like magnolia petals stick to the tarmac.
The women creak in brown paper coiled corsets,
bend their dinosaur spines over the wheel.
All the reds of the city bleed in that cotton triangle
tight against your chestnut hair,
in the splashes of hot resin that melt on your hands
and in the skin pink hatches
from scissors and shears, scythes and sickles,
fine as the folding fruit knives that silver
Sunday plates

and on Burgess Street,
the magnet-maker’s widow ties favours at the table.
Later, she spreads doilies, those peppered angels’ wings,
calls her daughter, whose hair in rags will pinch her sleep.

Salted dripping sags on white bread, tongue chasing
the brown marbling. That’s where the goodness is,
she says. There is sage in a pot on the windowsill.
Above the sink, soap in a box, cracked and grey-veined.
Each morning the widow strips to her vest, veiled
by the half net whose folds stiffen with condensation.
Over the Cornish Works a flock of birds oscillate
like iron filings.

His cheek in the photo
still dry under her goodnight kisses.

 

Helen Angell is a lover of brutalism and urban infrastructure. She has worked with the National Railway Museum, The Hepworth and Kelham Island Museum. Her poetry has appeared in Strix, The Blue Nib and The Cotton Grass Appreciation anthology.

The Display – Alison Lock

The Display

The tools are on the kitchen table:
scissors, shallow vase, secateurs.

Gathered in a trug:
two red peonies, lavender, rosemary, white rose.

She begins the arrangement:
cuts, trims, pushes each stem into the oasis.

Her apron strings are tied
– a bow around her emptiness.

 

Alison Lock is a poet and writer of short fiction. Her publications include three collections of poetry and two short story collections. Her first poetry collection, A Slither of Air (2011), was a winner of the Indigo Dreams Collection Competition 2010. Her latest collection, Revealing the Odour of Earth, is published by Calder Valley Poetry. http://www.alisonlock.com

 

 

Late Autumn Light – Joel Scarfe

Late Autumn Light

How was that last view of the garden
in late autumn light, your last cup of tea
still warm in your hands?

Were you aware of what was out there
when last you drove the hair from your face,
a pin half-stitching your mouth?

The house is different now, they say,
no doubt divested of your style –
although I know your blood will move

again about its rooms – coursing
with the spirited, joyful limbs
of a child.

 

Joel Scarfe’s poems have featured internationally in magazines and periodicals such as The Moth, TLS, Gravel, Finished Creatures, Interpreter’s House, South Bank Poetry, and Gravitas. He lives in Bristol UK with the Danish ceramicist Rebecca Edelmann and their two children.

The Arse – Rob A. Mackenzie

The Arse

Everyone was talking about the arse.
Everyone talked in broken similes:
the arse was like no arse ever, like,
talked about. Everyone lit phones

like lighters, which hovered over
the arse to manifest light, dark,
like, to everyone. And everyone
talked to themselves when talk

stalled and online shitstorms
fell to average levels. Everyone
saw the arse onscreen. Everyone
hoped to see again the arse

they had just been, as no one sees,
like, everything. Everyone walked
the talk about the arse. Everyone
unliked their likeness to the arse.

 

Rob A. Mackenzie is reviews editor of Magma Poetry and runs Blue Diode Press. His most recent (second) collection is The Good News (Salt, 2013) and a third, The Book of Revelation, will be published in 2020.

Flying Horse Lane – Serena Trowbridge

Flying Horse Lane

Down Flying Horse Lane
we trotted at first, hand in hand
headed for school, and later
we cantered and galloped and jumped

until

one day

like ponies we flew,
skimming the hedgerows
and dodging the boughs, the wind
in our manes and our breathing like
clouds.

It seems

if children believe they are
horses who fly, their galloping
canter and clattering hooves
can sail them quite close to the sky.

 

Serena Trowbridge reads a lot of poetry but has only recently started (admitting to) writing it. She lives in Worcestershire where she does a lot of walking and cloud-watching, and in her spare time she is a lecturer in English Literature at Birmingham City University.
Blog: cultureandanarchy.org
Twitter: @serena_t

Owled – Jonathan Totman

Owled

He has found a roost in me.
Claimed a high-up hole,
a radius of undisturbed sky.

He has mapped out his orbit,
his beat. Made it known
he is ready to sink

his talons into any prowler’s eyes.
He has trained me to
his rhythms – a ruffling of feathers

at dusk, that stretched elastic sense
of how long he’s been gone.
Mornings, I feel for

the silk and down of him.
I turn to the woods.
I listen for his scream.

 

Jonathan’s pamphlet ‘Explosives Licence’ was a winner in Templar Poetry’s 2018 IOTA Shot competition. His first collection will be published by Pindrop Press in 2020.