It’s Christmas morning and his face is a stale balloon. His brined eyes seek something beyond this house. And her, in Care Bear pyjamas clutching the Sindy horse and carriage in its pink and white box, her eyes wide as mushrooms. She leans to him the way children make lions of the fathers they have. Let me reach in and shift his weight to the wall. Let me fold her like paper into the dolls’ house and tell its scaly feet to run deep deep into the Baba Yaga’s forest.
Abigail Flint is a heritage researcher from Sheffield. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in a range of magazines including Under the Radar, Ink Sweat and Tears, Reliquiae, Popshot Quarterly, About Larkin, 192 magazine, and research project anthologies. Twitter: @constantunusual
Vincent is Captain America only the zip on his back is missing revealing a five-year-old’s spine and not our superhero. He does not care one little bit as he flies constantly waiting for me to growl, frighten him, but not too much. I pull an evil face (easy for me), he dives away. I shout louder, his head almost spins off its axis. When it is time for me to go, he follows on his scooter – we both agree it’s really a time machine.
Mouse-eared into tight corners, smalled into holes lined with abandoned wishbones, it took time to learn the skreels were my own. He did not seem to hear them, or realise that behind skirting boards, there were tunnels gnawed into being when the house was asleep. He still walks through the rooms he opened to the public, but the real work is behind the scenes, deep in the foundations or under layers of old wallpaper that is no longer replaceable. I have chewed it all, made nests for impossible futures, conceived them when he was unaware how my wildness still lived under floorboards, in cavities in the walls.
Hannah Linden is published widely including or upcoming in Atrium, Lighthouse, Magma, New Welsh Review, Prole, Proletarian Poetry, Stand, The Interpreters’ House, Under the Radar and the 84 Anthology etc. She is working towards her first collection. Twitter: @hannahl1n
Somewhere beneath that listening ridge the winds are gossiping again, in tongues beyond the most vague and coarse translation.
A breezy sonic-catalogue of air let loose, wheezes up behind walkers staggering up the slopes, outroaring the M5 at every step
Until the top with banks now bare again, fit for prehistoric sentries to cast their eyes across the stretching flats, Land Yeo wriggling
Off towards the estuary’s greyed-out islands, Wales industrious over fast brown waves, not quite yet the sea, still almost as strange.
It is a chafing edge of sorts, rabbits racing over grass towards the woods, not waiting to witness other beings cloud over the horizon.
Matt Gilbert is a freelance copywriter and blogger at richlyevocative.net. Originally from Bristol, he currently gets his fill of urban hills in south east London. He’s had poems published by Anthropocene, Black Bough and Green Ink, amongst others. Twitter @richlyevocative
Our featured publication for December is Dawning by Mary Ford Neal, published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.
Dawning is an uncanny landscape in which people, events, and places are charged with magic, danger, and confusion, and nothing can be trusted. Against this background of fragmentation and threat, the poems lead the reader through a tender narrative of damage, grief, enlightenment, and alteration.
“Dawning is full of delicate dances with ghosts; not just the departed, but the never-were, the should-never-have-beens. Mary Ford Neal sketches these moments, of grace and sometimes redemption, with elegance and warmth, reminding us that magic can be found in unlikely places: a pavement, a coffee cup, a glance.” Rishi Dastidar
“The poems in Dawning ‘boil here quietly’; with a sure use of form, they channel undercurrents of unease with a deft touch of craft and an intelligent use of white space. Meetings, departures, journeys to and from, the most brutal of truths find their home in the everyday and the strange. This is a significant debut.” Claire Dyer
“Intriguingly, this collection starts and ends with the question I told the world I didn’t love you. Why? We’re drawn in to explore the intensity and often contradictory complexities of desire, intimacy, and love. Neal commands an impressive range of poetic forms, deftly capturing passion and regret with a wry touch.” Jay Whittaker
My husband is losing his shit
Previously published in Dodging the Rain
I tried to marry a wave.
He came so softly, twice a day, bringing me gifts, seaglass and songs, and his devotion to me was a wonder of the world. And over time, through painstaking erosion, he gently shaped my heart into a small boat.
I found a ring left lying on the sand, and knew he meant to marry me. But next time, he came in as weak as water, towed by an emaciated moon, and somehow his devotion was lethargic, and lacked the power to lift my boat and take it.
I tried to put my arms around him, vainly, and as he washed away I tasted saltwater; he must have wept at being made to leave me. And he whispered, and I caught it on the breeze, that I should place the ring on my own finger, and take great care to keep my heart in boat-form.
And he is out there now, swirling and crashing, his crest festooned with broken bits of boats; then calming, gently finding foreign beaches that remind him of the beach where he once found me. I know how it must pain him not to find me now,
and I sit here, sea-wife for fifteen years.
Previously published in Janus Literary
I don’t believe in magic. But something hovers along these streets, something like dust not settling hangs just above the slippery cobbles, and it’s more than the messy flash of reflected streetlight and it’s more than the colourful spill from some long gone car, lying now in the gutter as though someone had pierced a rainbow and let it fall sighing down to die here in the dark, by a drain, with the swollen fag-ends and the dog urine and the spit of the loud lads. This is something else – our shoes splash through it whatever it is, and I swear it makes our stepping lighter. My feet might fly, and any second I might be gone unless I grab your arm to stop myself, which I never would.
Previously published in Dodging The Rain
Mary Ford Neal is a writer and academic from the West of Scotland, where she still lives and works, teaching and researching Law and Medical Ethics. Her poetry is widely published, and has been Pushcart nominated. Dawning is her debut collection.
Dawning is available to purchase from the Indigo Dreams Publishing website
peel curls freezes mid-air apple puree overflows in mother’s hands rest powers unknown
tuck me in tell me to turn sideways pull up my knees hug blanket
yellow bucket by the bed
a voice drifts out into morning air looking for the way home
Nora Blascsok is a Hungarian poet based in the UK. Her work has appeared in a variety of online and print publications. A selection of her poems titled ‘Headspace’ is out with Broken Sleep Books imprint Legitimate Snack in September 2021. Her Twitter handle is @NBlascsok