The Politician lists this year’s killed women – we count what we care about – offers up their names as though each is a guttered flame trying to re-ignite.
The Honourable Members listen in silence to the phantom pleas. Some weep, imagine them as fireflies wafting through dusty light shafts to petition their MPs. Others practise forbearance, think of sponsored victuals and banter in the Terrace Bar, nod appropriately – awful business –.
The names stack, form a coalition, occupy vacant benches to demand a yearly reckoning for killer men, for them not to wander unattended, for ring-if-you-feel-murderous helplines perhaps, or tabloid scoops re-purposed – Femicide’s a Men’s Issue Shock! –
Year on year their insistence soars and falls on the living, and the living slough them off like old woes. Year on year their numbers swell and overrun The House. They count their worth, the answer is silence
Kathryn Alderman is widely published in magazines, anthologies etc., she’s read at live events e.g. the Cheltenham Literature and Cheltenham Poetry Festivals. She’s an ‘ancient’ Masters student of Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Gloucestershire, working on her first pamphlet. Twitter: @kmalderman1 Insta: k_m_alderman Blog: https://kathrynaldermanwriting.poetry.blog/writing-and-me/
Although we can still talk about it as survivors do and all the faces in the photos are dead as if the photos have been ripped or burnt to ashes, collected in envelopes and sealed and sent to lost relatives there is always the feeling, that gut feeling, that we were never told enough or that we didn’t resist enough or weren’t enough, and these people walking across a desert and sometimes on waves like Jesus, proving that they could, like he could, cross over borders where people pinpointed them and pointed at them and couldn’t pronounce their long names, even if their lives were basically the same, except for the drowning, that terrible drowning the papers wrote about, I know all about it, believe me, my mouth is ash.
Nora Nadjarian is a Cypriot poet and writer who has been published internationally. Placed or commended in numerous competitions, she recently won the Anthropocene Valentine’s Day Poetry Competition 2022. She has work forthcoming from Broken Sleep books and Poetry International. @NoraNadj
He lives half-sunk in estuary mud, cresting the ooze like a masthead, deep-flocked, bleached and brackish, ringed by sinking spoil.
He can look to a shore shadowed by gulls, to water ghosted with flounder, squish in the lace of nematodes, ride the flick of bloodworm tongues.
Body to mud to body, this, surely, is all a man needs: warm toes, the thwok of the swarf, the hope of fossilisation.
Nina Parmenter’s first collection ‘Split, Twist, Apocalypse’ will be published by Indigo Dreams in 2022. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Snakeskin, Honest Ulsterman,Light,Allegro Poetry and Ink Sweat and Tears. She lives in Wiltshire. Twitter: @ninaparmenter. Website: www.ninaparmenter.com Facebook: @parmenterpoetry
At first it was Friedrich, his gawky blondeness, his penchant for biting his sisters’ fingers. Then Rolf before the Nazis turned him, spinning me round the summerhouse in the rain. Now I’m older than Captain Von Trapp. When he sings for me, his eyes are the blue of that mountain lake his children fell into wearing their curtain clothes and laughing. He does that half-smile because he’d rather not strum his guitar but he knows I like it. When I unbutton the stiff woollen jacket he smells delicious, of edelweiss and schnitzel. I take his hand, lead him up the swooning staircase to bed.
Joanna Ingham lives in Suffolk and writes poetry and fiction. She has two pamphlets: Naming Bones (ignitionpress, 2019) and Ovarium (The Emma Press, forthcoming in June 2022). Her first full collection was shortlisted in Live Canon’s 2021 Collection Competition. Website: www.joannaingham.com Twitter: @ingham_joanna
Dr Charley Barnes is a lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Wolverhampton. She is the author of solo and co-authored pamphlets, one full length collection, titled Lore: Flowers, Folklore, and Footnotes, and she has published several novels under the name Charlotte Barnes. Her Twitter and Instagram handle is @charleyblogs.
My newly single friend has spent the day at a museum
she tells me, opening another bottle. She talks about paintings of women weeping at the dark edge of water; about corsets of pink silk where tiny metal acrobats swing on tightened ribs, breast bound; about the yellow crust of clotted cream in the tearoom. There are knives there from Italy, she says, hundreds of years old. The blades are etched with music, each a different harmony. No one knows who made them. We drink. Her eyes remain steadfastly dry.
Next morning she is singing in the kitchen when I wake, lifting golden curls from the butter dish, voice sharp enough to cut the light into the sky.
Jen Feroze lives by the sea with her husband and two small sleep thieves. Her work has appeared in Capsule Stories, The Madrigal and The 6ress, among others. She was highly commended in the inaugural Spelt magazine competition. Her first collection, The Colour of Hope, was published in 2020.
You took me further west, out past Belmullet, under a sky of milk and pewter and blue eggs in the rusting Mitsubishi Colt you dubbed the Silver Bullet.
A day’s gallivanting led us to an off-road inlet, seaweed marmalading the black shore, the panel-beaten sea cresting like blown-free bunting.
You clowned about in rocks, your parka two sizes too big, your hands swallowed by its sleeves, the lightning strips of your legs earthed in black docs.
I took a photo of you loose and skittish under a bare hawthorn, eyes crossed, tongue hanging sideways, your head lassoed by the hood’s furry noose.
On the beach near where we stayed, I fell over attempting a headstand, surfaced dizzy in the storm-soar of your laugh, lay on you, eyes closed as the light began to fade.
You took me further west to where I had not been before, to where I fell down-ways, side-ways, headlong into your hidden, thumping nest.
Cian Ferriter lives in Dublin. He has won and been placed in a number of international poetry competitions. His debut pamphlet Earth’s Black Chute won the Munster Fools for Poetry International Chapbook Competition 2021 and will be published this May.
so says the red perspex sign, slung over the gate. No archers to be seen. Among the trees targets hold no arrows, only nicks in the worn rings, scoreboards unchalked. The dog is keen to plunge in on the trail of deer. I pull her back.
A dead shrew lies on the worn footpath. What a spot to die or be dropped, dead: on the prehistoric burial site. At the quarry’s edge. In Pencraig woods. On this clear day, views across villages where witches were burned.
The archery course is not in use. Nor the quarry, nor the graves. Just this path, tracing the ancient heart.
Jay Whittaker lives and works in Edinburgh. She has published two collections with Cinnamon Press, Sweet Anaesthetist (2020) and Wristwatch (Scottish Poetry Book of the Year 2018, Saltire Society Literary Awards). Other credits include the recent Bloodaxe anthology, Staying Human. www.jaywhittaker.uk / @jaywhittapoet
He lays a cheek upon the finish, slimmed eye slips over the undimpled divide, a nod, gathering tools, slinks back with pride
Yellowed wall, blemished family carvings, He covers, makes good, once more absorb anew echoes of love, render-muffle heartsores.
Come fresh dents, come cuts, into its smoothness, with words, fist and laughing fall.
Time will bring another smoother to mask tales left on this wall.
Perhaps a cheek will lie upon its finish, judging eye make right once more, untrap old stories, greet new ones,
close all windows, lock tight the door.
Catherine O’Neill had a play staged at Live Theatre; shortlisted by Streetcake Experimental Writing Prize; Northern Gravy ~ poetry; short stories on BBC Radio, HOLYFLEA!; monologue ‘Keep Granny’s Clock’ on YouTube; tweets and reviews for Word Factory, and Dishsoap Quarterly.