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.

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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.

Handmaids of the Lord – Sheila Jacob

Handmaids of the Lord

Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word

At twelve noon Sister Therese
rang the Angelus bell,
brought us to a halt.
We bowed our heads, prayed
silently and when we moved
again our footfall synchronised
as though we’d followed
one internal rhythm.

We didn’t speak afterwards,
not straightaway; walked
through the wooden-floored
assembly hall, crates of empty
milk-bottles stacked by the door,
librettos balanced on the music
stand, a crucifix nailed
to a wall above the stage.

Another wall remembered those
who’d gone before us,
matriculated with Honours
since the nineteen-twenties.
Did some look down, intercede
as we struggled with our own fiat,
stuffed Silk Cut and Rimmel
in biro- graffitied satchels?

We inscribed our love for Paul,
Mick, The Yardbirds; rolled up
waistbands to shorten our skirts,
display 15-denier tights.
Our Lady smiled a plaster-cast
smile from a plinth near the piano,
her gilt-edged mantle the same
sky-blue as our summer dresses.

 

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.

The Onion Club – Kevin Reid

The Onion Club

Come peel this dark cabaret
where the world is black and white.
We’ll watch our shadows fall on walls.
and sing with ghosts that live in song,

Come take a seat, a scarlet rose awaits,
sit down your lonely heart, quiver
in your thorns. Strip your soul to strings
and open the past with a solo piano.

Growing wings we’ll sparrow with Piaf,
drop tears as we fall for Marlene again,
commit The Seven Deadly Sins with Lotte and Kurt
then stand by Brel and try to forget.

Come peel this dark cabaret
where the world is black and white.
We’ll watch our shadows fall on walls,
and sing with ghosts that live in song.

 

Kevin Reid lives between Scotland and other lands. His poetry has appeared in various journals, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, Under The Radar, Seagate III and Scotia Extremis. A mini pamphlet Burdlife (Tapsalteerie) was published in 2017. His new pamphlet ‘Androgyny’ was published on 1st May 2018 by 4word.

The New Neighbours – Maurice Devitt

The New Neighbours

The sign had hardly gone up
when the house was sold,
a young couple with two kids,
people said, and we wondered
how they would fit into our perfect lives.
They started well, it must be said –
two weeks like a film set
and the paintwork was pristine,
the garden in bloom. We thought drugs
or witness protection, and yet
they integrated with aplomb –
she joined the book club,
he talked rugby on the street,
but still, five years later,
there is something
I can’t quite put my finger on.

 

Maurice Devitt: Runner-up in The Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition in 2017, he was winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015 and has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award, Listowel Collection Competition, Over the Edge New Writer Competition and Cuirt New Writing Award. He is also the curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site, a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group and has a debut collection upcoming from Doire Press in 2018.