Heart racing as if a mile had been lost,
at odds with the stillness of a newly
emptied room, taking in the failure
of pencils on the floor and books left
on tables. He sees ghosts, hears the
echo of children’s voices, careless and
free now it has gone three, oblivious
of the anguish stalking this classroom;
a place conflicted all day, growing
through the week with doors groaning
at opened windows, reluctant papers
shying away from pens equally
ambivalent about their marking duties.
And why would it be like this, this day
he’d planned for, attended seminars
about, circled in red in his diary;
this last day of all terms?
Jonathan Humble is a teacher in Cumbria. His poetry has appeared in The Big Issue, Ink Sweat & Tears and Obsessed With Pipework Magazine. His short stories for children have been published in The Caterpillar and The Stew Magazine.
Nell Gwyn sold oranges, loved a King.
And Nellie Forbush (South Pacific,
remember?) was a nurse, a Forces’
sweetheart, married a landowner
(despite I’m Gonna Wash That Man
Right Outa My Hair). But our Nell lives
in a green and nearly glade-like place,
where three Welsh counties coalesce.
Lives alone (the past being the past)
in an over-big and draughty house.
Sells drapery at various markets,
Cardigan, Carmarthen, one Sunday
in two at Carew. Drinks lager once a week,
quiz league, White Lion. Washes
the kit for the football team (a nephew
plays). Entertains to barley wine in that
big lone house, friends and riff raff,
a host of cousins with hard luck stories,
saints and sinners, and a kindly man
with a share in two racehorses. She has
an acre of grassland, nearly woodland.
On the Sundays she doesn’t do Carew she
gardens. She grows no veg, no flower beds,
it’s more that she cuts back, hacks down,
keeps at bay encroaching wilderness,
finding in that a lonely satisfaction.
Published in ‘Planet’, 204 (November 2011) and again in the author’s pamphlet, Merlin’s Lane (Prolebooks, 2011).
Robert Nisbet, from Pembrokeshire, taught English in grammar and comprehensive schools and later taught creative writing at Trinity College, Carmarthen. He has had hundreds of poems published in Britain, dozens in the USA and a couple in India.
You should go skinny dipping, he says.
It will free you up. I fling off
my evening dress, and jump.
I never thought the Cherwell
could be so cold in May.
The icy splash embraces me.
Hands of frosted ice stroke my arms,
legs, breasts. My lips tingle
with astonishment. I never thought
it would feel so good, a delicious pain,
a coup de foudre. I feel free (he is right
about that), but not freed up to let him
chortle filthy words in my ear, shove
his fat tongue into my mouth,
grab my bottom with a big hot paw.
Next year he can take someone
else to the Ball!
I am free and floating. In love
with myself. I am wearing water
like a silk gown, a lover’s gift.
I swim away from the river bank, away.
Jennie Farley is a published poet, workshop leader and teacher. Her poetry has featured in many magazines including New Welsh Review, Under the Radar, The Interpreter’s House, Prole. Her latest collection My Grandmother Skating is published by Indigo Dreams Publishing 2016. Jennie founded and runs NewBohemians@CharltonKings providing regular events of poetry, performance and music at deepspaceworks art centre. She lives in Cheltenham.
Sunrise on Midsummer Morning
A full moon falling, the sky lit
with last night’s charred and crumbling embers
across the field, thin spills of misty light
visiting spirits haunt the hedges
or try a cry in the canal’s bandaged ear
dung reeks and steams, a horse’s hoof strikes home
and out of the trees the great bird rises
wings spread and beating the sky into flame
and the great egg of the world is hatched
with an outflung shout and tumble of voices
many and many, song of all songs.
Later on oak’s shoulder
an owl puts on a mask of light
and the big mothers with their babies
stand among thistles and stare.
David Calcutt is a playwright, poet and novelist. He is the author of four novels and three collections of poetry. His plays have appeared in the theatre and on BBC radio. He lives in Walsall in the West Midlands.
Are you there, Mum?
She could not fathom why he’d ask
his foolish question at three in the morning,
croaked but clear over no-man’s carpet.
She wanted to sleep, and she had a right,
stroked or not he was a grown man, and
she was the children’s mum, not his.
Yes, I’m here. Then storytold in afterthought,
before he was gone and her stories broken,
What a funny thing – where else would I be?
Odd to find it odd that he should signal,
passing dark but nearest, another navigator
on those uncertain ferries of long late nights.
Steve Smart is a poet and artist living in Scotland. His poems have been published in Poet’s Corner, Fat Damsel, and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Recent work includes ‘interstitial woodland’ poetry in collaboration with visual artist Tansy Lee Moir.
Writing “Malham Cove”
Plump with rain
these moss-filled fissures
are a puzzle to my feet.
Malham Cove is girdled in
a grid of them.
I move between the lines
as if I’m writing letters
in a crossword box.
Undercut, the massive limestone
blocks can’t take my weight,
they shift with me.
I slip into the wrong words.
Mess the letters up.
Lose their meanings
in between the rocks.
David J. Costello lives in Wallasey, England. He has been widely published and anthologised. David has won prizes in a number of competitions including both the Welsh International Poetry Competition and the Troubadour International Poetry Competition. His latest pamphlet, No Need For Candles, was published by Red Squirrel Press last year.
The glass is dripping, it makes your mouth water but you are here to work & to
smile only. You put the beer with its soft cold froth onto the table & crack a smile
because you are the bar. You wipe your hands on your dress. It’s hot & the
windows are open − the summer village sounds are crashing in & you wish you
were covered up from head to toe. But you are the pub & the pub likes to show its
pretty face & its welcoming smile, so you take your bare legs back behind the bar
& whatever he said doesn’t matter because you’ve heard it before & you pile the
dirty glasses into the washer & wish there was a way to steam away the smears.
Julia Webb graduated from UEA’s poetry MA in 2011. She has had work in various journals and anthologies. Her first Collection “Bird Sisters” was published by Nine Arches Press in 2016. She is a poetry editor for Lighthouse.