Crab Fishing – Rachel Bruce

Crab Fishing

Tiny monster, blanketed in the earth’s skin;
the spirit of Achilles lives in you.
You are a funny thing to fear.

I remember the sun soaked breezes of Brownsea
where little fires jumped from branch to branch.
Our assaults were always fruitful there.

Children have no mercy. We hunted eagerly,
pulling you from the deep, calculated and slow.
How we squealed at your shadows in the water.

Once captured, we gazed beadily at you
scrabbling at the plastic walls.
Soon we’d hold an army in our bucket.

When we tired of our labour,
desiring sandwiches and dry clothes,
we turned from soldiers to emperors.

Turning the bucket onto the deck,
like toying gods we watched you race away,
fleeing back to the salt from whence you came.

I wish I could have seen you floating down,
parachuting into the dark as living meteors.
When I see you now, I smile at the memory of those days.

How cruel we were then in our love;
and still I yearn to fish again,
reaching down into the sandy unknown.

Rachel Bruce is a poet based in London. Her work has appeared in The Telegraph, Eye Flash Poetry, The Daily Drunk, Hencroft Hub, and Atrium among others. Find her on Twitter @still_emo.

Time and again – Livvy Hanks

Time and again

One day – how can I know which? –
I lose my diary. Brain lurches
into the chasm of the year:
who is expecting me, and where?
Who is even now drumming their fingers on Formica,
alone with their agenda
and their forbearing frown?

There is terror, then liberation.
Everything is unexpected: friends drop by,
then don’t. I make appointments,
note them on a nearby banana,
which I eat. The whole world
is continually in rooms and restaurants without me.

Encouraged, I throw my alarm out of the window,
put my watch in the bath. My phone
is a landline, it is 1997 –
I presume. It cannot remind me of anything
and almost everything is yet to happen.

The days are short and frosty,
then fresh, then long. At last I panic.
It is nearing the time when I will meet you,
but nothing can tell me when.
The town hall clock, beneath which we will meet,
is broken. I walk there every day as the sun goes down
and look around me,
wondering if I will recognise your face.

Livvy Hanks has an MA in Literary Translation from the University of East Anglia, and worked as an editor before moving into policy and campaigning work. Her poetry was most recently published in Lighthouse. She lives in Norwich. Twitter: @livvyhanks

Archive – Jacqueline Haskell

Archive

Sometimes you catch the train into the city, the central library,
for the archive. There you watch footage from the war,
scan blown glass, missile drops, train stations.

A home video, newly surfaced, downloaded from an ancient iPhone:
refugees crossing at Medyka, waiting to board buses, going west.
The librarians know to call you when this happens.

You would know it anywhere, her coat; too distinctive to miss
with its lupin-coloured quilting, fake-fur collar and
the striped pixie hood she swore made her invisible.

Sometimes you catch the train into the city, the central library,
for the archive, hoping to see her – you and her – that exact moment
when she was there at Medyka, holding your hand. And then not.

By now you know them better than you know your own, the librarians –
where they go for lunch, the park bench, summer, winter,
their children and grand-children: whether their coats have hoods.

Jacqueline Haskell’s first poetry collection, Stroking Cerberus, was published by Myriad Editions in 2020 – https://myriadeditions.com/books/stroking-cerberus/ – as part of the Spotlight Books series. Her debut novel, The Auspice, was a finalist in both the 2018 Bath Novel Award and the 2020 Cinnamon International Literature Prize.

Phantoms – Jill Abram

Phantoms

I hear voices of unborn babies most nights
and sometimes in the day; they should
have been held in my arms. And his.
Did he pass me by, neither of us realising?

Was he the commuter who offered his seat,
the waiter who winked as he gave me
too much change, or the driver of a sporty
two-seater who stopped so I could cross?

He could be at the party, brought along
by a friend of a friend, line up behind me
at a checkout, or stop me on the street
with a questionnaire. Time chased away

those children like a fairytale monster –
ogre, evil troll, big bad wolf –
through the woods and out of the life
which could have been mine. And his.

..

Poet, producer and presenter, Jill Abram is Director of the collective Malika’s Poetry Kitchen. She grew up in Manchester, travelled the world and now lives in Brixton. Her pamphlet, Forgetting My Father, will be published by Broken Sleep Books in May 2023. jillabram.co.uk