and I recognise that today is a bruised sky blue and purple day: everything readying itself, steadying itself, tasting the turn in the air. Squirrels attack me on my lunchbreak: scale my legs and dive head first into my Pret paper bag and I cannot even pretend to be annoyed: they are so unapologetically sure that I am here to sustain them, so gleefully confident they won’t be harmed. I recognise the date and I want to say that the weather, the sky, the wildlife; that they were all exactly like this – except of course I don’t remember the weather. I don’t even remember the time of day. All I know is that they told me it had happened and that for hours and hours I pretended that it hadn’t: assumed there must have been some ludicrous, laughable mistake. My brain is so good at saying oh, no thank you, not today: it makes everything slippery and lilting and diluted. Even now I can stand in bubbling light and mud and rose green amber splendour, five, no six, no seven years on, covered in fearless squirrels, a nudging ocean of pigeons at my feet, and wonder what you might be up to this weekend: decide I should check in, give you a call, tell you about these squirrels.
Becki Hawkes lives in London, loves being outside and butterflies, and has poems published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Shore, Rust + Moth, Brittle Star and Perhappened, among others. Her first pamphlet is published next year by Survision Books. Her Twitter is @BeckiH_678.
Our featured publication for January and February is Erased by James McDermott, published by Polari Press.
“Erased deploys found and erasure poetry to answer back to decades of censorship and homophobia. Removing ‘not’ from Section 28 legislation makes it a riot of celebration; the pluralised UK national anthem, an invocation to ‘save the queens’. Through selecting and reversioning these texts, we see that ultimately, in the witty words of Pride placards, “love is/power/love wins” Caleb Parkin
“McDermott’s new pamphlet quivers with political tension and confirms him as a vital voice of queer British poetry. McDermott changes the narrative of homophobic documents, revisits their language and moulds it into a glittery powersong of wonder and unashamedly queer joy. ‘God save our gracious queens’ indeed” Serge ♆ Neptune
“Erased is a crystallised gem of a collection. Emotive, evocative, and ingenious. Using central conceit that keeps on delivering, James McDermott has uncovered something truly special, an iridescent revision of the canon and our received wisdoms” Rick Dove
“Erased is an act of reclamation and fabulous impudence. The whole pamphlet empowers and validates” Simon Maddrell
after Al Parker Productions Gay Porn Video Intro Guidance
the following is being presented as a visual fantasy as a viable alternative to actual sexual contact
some of the precautions taken by the producers in the preparation of this fantasy have been visually omitted for editorial considerations
this is intended for viewing by a special and limited audience namely adults who request and desire material for their information education and entertainment
GENESIS 9: 12-13 after God
and god said this is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you a covenant for all generations to come I have set my rainbow in the clouds and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth
LGBTQ PROTEST SLOGANS after Pride protest slogans
James McDermott’s spoken word collection ‘Manatomy’, published by Burning Eye, was longlisted for Polari’s First Book Prize 2021. James’s pamphlet ‘Erased’ is published by Polari Press. Their poems have been widely published in magazines including Poetry Wales, The Gay & Lesbian Review, The Cardiff Review, York Literary Review, Popshot Quarterly & Atrium. James was shortlisted for Outspoken’s Poetry Prize 2020 in the Performance Category and has been Commended in the Verve Poetry Competition, Winchester Poetry Prize & York Poetry Prize. As a playwright, their plays published by Samuel French include ‘Rubber Ring’ (Pleasance Islington) and ‘Time & Tide’ (Park Theatre). James is also a writer on EastEnders. Follow James on Twitter at jamesliammcd and on Instagram at jamesmcdermott1993. Visit their web site to read more about them and their work here: https://jamesmcdermottwriter.weebly.com
Signed copies of Erased are available to purchase from James McDermott’s website.
I see them as they really are bright pink and slick-clean when, in the start-light, they come to me, choose their veneers for the shine-time. I display their selections in my silver-side; she decides herself, always so well finished, but he needs both our help.
I tend to them faithfully, always ready, not like that upstart, bed, lying around, neither providing nor holding a thing, until they give-up, in the dark-time, go pale and shivering to that lay-about; though sometimes I hear them gasp and moan like they never do with me their treasured veneers tossed to the floor.
But I know they love me, they spray sweet-scent, massage my sides until I gleam. It is me they trust with memories kept in a box at my top, though the lid stays closed.
Sometimes children visit and play inside me; they know me better than I do, find whole worlds in the back of me, their laughter echoing in my chest.
David Thompson is a poet from Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire. His work has featured or is upcoming in Magma, Orbis, The Cannon’s Mouth, The Seventh Quarry and New Contexts: 1 (Coverstory Books, 2021).
Step warily my dear, on slippery earth-paths that thread uphill past ivied trunks away from a world of dull-crack gunshot and quadbike roar. Lift your head instead to light that catches silver on hazel bark.
If, my dear, you find yourself wire-barred – backtrack down, bottom-slide, clutch each handhold branch offered by soft-eyed strangers.
Learn, my friend, to avoid the glisten of sticky opinion. If its mire sucks you in, wave your wing tips and let the pull of air-tides uplift you all the way to the hillfort crown.
Rest there, my love, on an old horse-trough. Gaze at dainty deer track by your feet, scrutinise badger sgraffito. Listen to rook chatter and feel your body fizz. Now you are human-imal, mudful of mind.
Rachael Clyne’s collection, Singing at the Bone Tree (Indigo Dreams), concerns our relationship with nature. Her pamphlet, Girl Golem (www.4word.org) explores her migrant heritage and sense of otherness. She is currently expanding this work into a collection.