Bombed on the bandstand – Sheila Jacob

Bombed on the bandstand

You ask where I was and I will tell you though I didn’t hear
the full story on the day, my husband’s thirty-first birthday.
He travelled twenty miles to see me, brought our baby son
who cwtched against my neck as I bluffed about feeling better.

I wept when they left, had hours to moonwalk in the redbrick
Victorian hospital built for the insane where iron bars climbed
high windows, corridors cloned themselves, on-duty nurses
chain-smoked and outside, a moss-slimed grotto stood empty.

No beautiful Lady appeared, shone my path to the workroom,
distracted me from pieces of a furry toy I pinned and stitched.
Later, on the ward, Staff Nurse mentioned the news: London,
soldiers killed, horses maimed and I tutted, took my tablets.

Past midnight, her words wheeled across the bedclothes, echoed
at the hub of my own darkness; I lay quietly beneath half-light,
prayed for those bombed on the bandstand, prayed for the dead
to rest in peace, for the living to mend, prayed I would soon mend.

 

On 20th July 1982 the Provisional IRA detonated two bombs during military
ceremonies in Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, London, killing eleven military
personnel and seven horses.

Sheila Jacob was born and raised in Birmingham and now  lives on the North Wales border with her husband. Since returning to poetry in 2013 she’s had work published in The Dawntreader, Sarasvati, Clear Poetry, The Cannon’s Mouth, I Am Not A Silent Poet amongst others.

Advertisements

Shoes – Paul Waring

Shoes

Delivered fresh in a box
like death in reverse
shoes are born
to walk from day one;

stay dog-loyal
if groomed, respond
to stroke of sponge
or bristle of brush

and attach – second skin
intimacy you can’t have
with coats; protect,
support and respect need

for time and space
to breathe, unlace, rest
eyes and tongue. Shoes
know to relax and wait

ever-ready for your return
from dreamworlds
and unexplained appeal
of anti-social slippers.

 

Paul Waring, a clinical psychologist, once designed menswear and sang in Liverpool bands. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming at Prole, Clear Poetry, Algebra of Owls, Amaryllis, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Riggwelter, Foxglove Journal and others.
Twitter: @drpaulwaring
Blog: https://waringwords.wordpress.com

Rescuing a Hummingbird – Christina Thatcher

Rescuing a Hummingbird

Everyone else leaves it banging
its tiny beak against the glass,
its high-speed heart beating,
body rippling with panic.

I rack my brain for hummingbird research
done when I was six. If I pick it up
will its wing-oil perish?
Will its button lungs collapse?

I have no answers but take the risk—
cup my hands and coo: it’s okay
little one, it’s okay,

as the bird terror-spreads its wings
through my fingers, begging:
don’t let me die, don’t let me die,

until we reach the open door
and it jumps into the jungle trees,
a flash of iridescent green.

 

Christina Thatcher is a PhD student at Cardiff University and Poetry Editor for The Cardiff Review. Her poetry and short stories can be found in over 40 magazines and her first collection, More than you were, was published by Parthian Books. To learn more about Christina’s work please visit her website: christinathatcher.com or follow her on Twitter @writetoempower.

Boundary News – John Lawrence

Boundary News

The fence between our neighbouring ground
has slipped into disrepair. I stand and think

how long it’s been like this. The posts
are rotting, winter rains washing them away

until the cycle is complete, atom by atom,
and will not slow when Spring idles in.

A fire would speed it up, but the overgrowth
and nurtured land may suffer. I know that

creatures shuttle day and night along the boundary
ridge, using their claws to grip their right of way,

hastening the decay. I seldom see the man next door;
his curtains stay three-quarters shut; he burns candles

for his creed and when we meet he can only talk
of his preferred certainty, not of everyday tasks

like fixing a fence. I have to do this alone.
With sturdy gloves and long-handled axe

I’ll show what’s got to be done and bring him
to his senses. It will be a small victory.

 

John Lawrence is retired, lives in Worcestershire, and tries to write lighthearted poems which often turn out darker than intended, for some reason. Counselling would probably fix it but, for now, his view is that the pen is mightier than the shrink’s couch.

Love Returns to The Lavender Farmer – Craig Dobson

Love Returns to The Lavender Farmer

Two days for harvest; the cutter,
like a truffling hog, swaying along
the humped and violet lanes. The air
was lavender, their hands, the sacks,
the soles of their shoes, and their hair
as they lay together in the night.

One month on, he reads her text
again and again, each short word
linked like the carriages of her train
he’ll meet at dusk, the silent station
damp with today’s rain; in his hand
the dozen stems whose hues of healed-
bruise he picked from the field’s edge
where they’d lain hidden. Missed.

 

Craig Dobson has been published in The London Magazine, The North, The Rialto, Agenda, Stand, New Welsh Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Under the Radar, Orbis, Butcher’s Dog, The Interpreter’s House, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Frogmore Papers and Poetry Daily.

Angelica – Karen Little

Angelica

The Inheritance of Loss afforded him
opportunity to leave her. The Other Hand
was saved for us, shaped how she raised us.
Intimacy meant getting close enough
to have our blocks knocked off. The Great Beast
was tucked behind curtains or under blankets.
Slaughterhouse fueled my nightmares; her
choosing from curtains of meat at Snapes’s
while I gazed at meringues next door in Burton’s.
Topped with angelica, I knew they were reserved
for The Most Beautiful Woman in Town.

 

Karen Little trained as a dancer and a fine artist. She is widely published as a poet in the UK and further afield.

Salute – Belinda Rimmer

Salute

On a boat to America.

She’s downy as a cat
with feline vision,

sees the sorry looks
of the other passengers
at how she carries her bones.

In New York

she’ll drop
her prognosis in the Hudson,

stroll through Central Park
to immerse herself in languages
she has no ear for,
but touch her just the same,

and catch the Staten Island ferry
to salute Lady Liberty.

Later, she’ll send a postcard home:
in New York. I am alive.

 

Belinda Rimmer has worked as a psychiatric nurse, counsellor, lecturer and creative arts practitioner. Her poems have appeared in magazines, for example, Brittle Star, Dream Catcher, ARTEMISpoetry and Obsessed with Pipework. Her poem ‘water’ won the Poetry in Motion Competition and was turned into a film and shown internationally.

Website: belindarimmer.com @belrimmer

Artefact – Judith Taylor

Artefact

Moss Rose and her offspring
– fourteen Clydesdales –
line up on a rig to be photographed

a ploughman holding each one’s head.
The horses and their turnout are magnificent:
in all the country round, there’s nothing like them.

A generation later, when the last of the estate trickled
out of the family’s fingers
and the University Archive took the documents

the last laird could inscribe
every horse’s name, from memory
on the back of this picture.

Though there is
little information about the ploughmen
or what had become of them.

 

Judith Taylor lives and works in Aberdeen. Her poetry has been published widely in magazines, and her first full-length collection, Not in Nightingale Country, was published in October 2017 by Red Squirrel Press.

Website: http://sometimesjudy.co.uk/

Featured Publication – The Gun-Runner’s Daughter by Susan Castillo Street

Our featured publication for June is The Gun-Runner’s Daughter by Susan Castillo Street, published by Kelsay Books.

Susan Castillo Street weaves a feisty autobiographical web of familial relationships, cottonmouths, cicadas and crabbing amongst many other varied subjects; a ‘bayou fusillade’ (The Alchemist) of images and well-hewn narratives from a Southern Gothic childhood to the present day. Be ready to be transported to Mississippi and beyond by this vivid and intriguing collection brimming with the lessons of a well-lived life.” Jill Munro

Susan Castillo Street’s poems, in the first section in particular, read like short films such is their sense of place, characters, narrative, and tension. Gothic there is here yet also tenderness, humour, and a refreshing down-to-earthness. But after saying all that it’s a waste of effort / to try to place things in neat boxes.” Brett Evans

Susan Castillo Street’s new collection startles in its straight-talking ability to deal with memory, loss and hope. Incidents remembered from childhood, and from a life well-lived, are recounted with easy wit and subtle measure. The title poem, ‘The Gun-Runner’s Daughter’, remembers a teacher who bullied its narrator as a young girl. Yet, with a sort of steely generosity of spirit that characterises the collection as a whole, the poem ends trusting that the teacher is the one who has learned from the girl. These are poems that teach us to listen to, and learn from, incidents in the life of the poet. With a dash of Southern Gothic – running guns to Cuba; magnolia trees; the scent of wisteria; a dead baby sister – the collection delivers its lessons with tenderness, sometimes remorse, always with the hope that the details of a life can illuminate the living of our lives. These are poems that touch the heart. They teach us to remember, and to celebrate that remembering.” Nick Selby

Susan

The Gun-Runner’s Daughter

It was a strange old year.
We moved to Oklahoma
without warning, and I started a new school.

The teacher taught me sums. I’ll give her that.
Still, she rabbitted on and on
about my lack of tidiness.

One morning when I arrived
she’d hurled every object
from my desk across the room.

“It’s to teach you a lesson,” she said, “Nice girls should be tidy!”
I picked it all up, lips pressed tight. My classmates were looking on.
I hope she found my silence scary.

A month later, we left town in the dead of night
when Dad made headlines:
LOCAL OILMAN RUNS GUNS TO CUBAN REBELS.

Perhaps my teacher learned her lesson.
Sometimes it’s a waste of effort
to try to place things in neat boxes.

 

Taxi

The people from the hospice
give us a pamphlet. The dying,
it says, often speak of journeys,
cars, departures.

‘Where’s my taxi?’ you ask,
your voice imperious.
‘Why’s it taking so long?’
I lie at your side, hold your hand.

‘They’re sending a special taxi,
’just for you,’ I say, voice brittle
but not breaking. ‘Pink Cadillac,
Nat King Cole on the tape deck.’

Then I go to the screen porch
where friends have gathered.
Light flickers through the trees.
I smile, sip wine. You’d want

your friends and guests well tended,
Southern Lady to the end.
And when my back was turned
your taxi came.

 

Lines of Desire

We humans are anarchic creatures,
prone to hare off at wild tangents

………….ignoring yellow lines
………… crossing when the light is red
………… walking over pristine grass
………….taking shortcuts through dark alleys.

City planners factor this
into their blueprints, map the chaos,
predict unpredictability


while we mortal beings careen careless
on the green baize field of Fate,
shining snooker spheres colliding.

There’s beauty in these desiring lines,
these wild asymmetries,
these awkward urgent angles.

 

I Won’t

I bring you red roses
sit on the wooden bench
look out over the valley.

You loved this view.
The wind ruffles my hair,
whispers in the grass.

I look down at my feet
see a sprinkle of forget-me-nots.
Rest assured, my love.

 

Susan Castillo Street is Harriet Beecher Stowe Professor Emerita, King’s College London.  She has published three collections of poems, The Candlewoman’s Trade (Diehard Press, 2003), Abiding Chemistry,  (Aldrich Press, 2015), The Gun-Runner’s Daughter, (Aldrich, 2018) and a pamphlet, Constellations (Three Drops Press, 2016).  Her poetry has appeared in Southern QuarterlyProleThe High WindowInk Sweat & TearsMessages in a Bottle,The Missing SlateClear PoetryThree Drops from a CauldronFoliate OakThe Yellow Chair ReviewPoetry Shed, The LakeSmeuse, Algebra of OwlsPicaroonRiggwelter, and other journals and anthologies.  Her poem ‘Bird of God’ recently won first place in the 2018 Pre-Raphaelite Society Poetry Competition.

 Her blog The Salamander and the Raven (www.thesalamanderandtheravenBlogspot.co.uk) has had more than 100,000 hits in 39 countries.

The Gun-Runner’s Daughter is available to buy from Amazon, here.

Inhale – Charles G Lauder Jr

Inhale

Up until the morning you gave birth,
I could not feel the boy’s impending presence,
I could not see how we were going to fit him
into our lives, like a lift unexpectedly depositing
guests into the middle of the living room
and we rapidly scramble to make space, find beds.
Or like prying a crowbar between the iron doors
of our shut-tight lives and tossing in
a grenade. Like the dream I had
of the house being built on the hill just behind us
and the workers told me to stay away
until it was ready. Only then
did I get a feel of his coming, and gingerly
laid a hand on your belly and slept.

 

Charles G Lauder Jr is an American poet who has lived in the UK for several years. He has published two pamphlets: Bleeds (2012) and Camouflaged Beasts (2017), and he is the Assistant Editor for The Interpreter’s House.