An allotment of minutes – Matt Nicholson

An allotment of minutes
 
There is a man here,
working a walled garden.
Turning soil,
he makes decisions about the weeds,
about what is fit for compost,
to grow better weeds next year.

He fights the kettle in his shed
and conjures unpotable tea,
he remarks upon you and me,
under rusting, screw-thread breath,
that we are the wasters of days,
trespassing on his hours.

The blister on his spade hand
is at that point in its journey
where it might harden to a callous
or burst like an angry star.
Pausing, he spits into his ringing palm,
rubbing filthy hands together.

By noon, when the birds sleep,
he has forgotten about us, watching.
He is lost in the version of the world
that he governs as best he can.
Executing febrile plans,
he makes allies of the elements.

His day, the old man working,
unlike ours, the wasters watching,
will end up with an aching back
and a tale of unused time.

 

Matt Nicholson is a poet from East Yorkshire…where the culture comes from…His collection “There and back to see how far it is” was published by King’s England Press in October 2016. (http://www.kingsengland.com/there-and-back-to-see-how-far-it-is-c2x21548033) Twitter:@MattPoetHull

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Cottonmouth – Susan Castillo Street

Cottonmouth

Mama takes me fishing.
At dawn, we go out to the garden.
The earth is black, teeming,
full of purple worms.

We put them in a Mason jar,
set off in her two-tone Chevrolet.
On the radio, Hernando’s Hideaway
sings tunes of dark secluded places.

We drive through haunted woods,
sun filtering down through
trees dripping Spanish moss,
ghostly beards of lost grandees.

Then we reach the river.
The Mermentau is thick and brown.
Roiling currents whirl.  We take out
cane poles, bait our hooks, wait.

When fish strike, the shock of impact
ripples up my arm. We haul them in,
bream, perch, red snappers,
the occasional tough old gar.

Mama threads a line through gills,
puts the stringer in the water at our feet,
A thick coiled form rises up, primeval dragon.
Its mouth yawns nightmare white.

The cottonmouth strikes at the fish.
I run into the forest shrieking.
My mother beats the snake away,
laughs, pulls out our catch.

That night she cooks them for our dinner.
I look out into the dark, shiver.
What about the poison, Mama? I ask.
Nothing can hurt us, honey, she replies.

 

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), and Constellations (Three Drops Press, 2016), as well as several scholarly monographs and edited anthologies. Her poetry has appeared in Southern QuarterlyProleThe High WindowInk Sweat & TearsMessages in a BottleThe Missing SlateClear PoetryThree Drops from a CauldronFoliate OakThe Yellow Chair ReviewPoetry Shed, and other journals and anthologies.

the hug – James Bell

the hug

takes place in perpetual slow motion
where there is a pause
before it happens
an examination of eyes and smile
that indicate the intention
a mere second before
which in its closeness could go on for longer
much longer and lead to uncharted places
it never does
it is the accepted etiquette
for gesture to say less than more
an agreement that even in this touch
there should be silence
then the fluidity of the unwrap
where what has been said
is at last unopened to the same
emptiness the least of which is burrowed
into conversation about the banal
and that of mild interest
while the hug hovers as its own ghost
a question alive in the air
for none to see and its presence felt
as a notion to engage
where so much happened
so much said about the future
that never was nor could be

 

James Bell – was born in Scotland and now lives in Brittany where he contributes non-fiction and photography to an English language journal. Two collections have been published to date ‘the just vanished place (2008)’ and ‘fishing for beginners (2010)’. Recent work has been in Strange Poetry, Plum Tree Tavern, Visual Verse, Picaroon, Stride, Shearsman and Tears In The Fence.

Ash on the Sill – Lorraine Carey

Ash on the Sill
 
That’s how I was rumbled,
as the wind sought revenge
when I blew my chemical smoke rings
into its night. Its sooty quietness
gulped the tar, the nicotine sharp,
a harp string plucked
on the back of my throat,
ragged and sore from
John Player Specials.

I used to keep butts in my
denim jacket. The stinking waft
crept out during Biology
through pocket corners
and narrow slits.

The final smoke before sleep
was my favourite, staring
at the tangerine glow
of prison lights across the river
that flowed into Derry.
We’d two purses for coins,
one had heads of a Queen in reign,
the other stags and salmon,
wildlife jingles whose tinny
sounds made us feel important.

Thought I was careful
with my monitored flicks,
onto stones below, but no,
I kept the window open
and back it crept, landing silent
as a feather whilst I was still at school.
My non – smoker mum, certainly no fool,
though I did try, to deny
the ash on the sill was mine.

 

Lorraine Carey is an Irish poet from Co. Donegal. Her poetry has featured in the following : The Honest Ulsterman, Poethead,  Proletarian, Vine Leaves and Live Encounters, among others. Her debut collection From Doll House Windows was published in May.

The Beekeeper’s Wife – Cheryl Pearson

The Beekeeper’s Wife

They fuzz him into loveliness.
A roving gold,
like dark water strummed by light.
The liquid sun
of honey on the sill, all morning
strained
through glass.

It is out there he is most alive.
In the stilled green, the razed grass.
It is out there he thrills
in the centre of his silence.
His beard’s dazzle
and stitch, the endless hum
of the swarm.

Only the bees fly in his garden.
The laundry waves
white flags from the yard.

In bee-heaven, his is the shape
they make. Bringer
of combs and sweetenings,
milk-smelling God –

I tend the hollyhocks,
stroke barks back
into the dog.

 

Cheryl Pearson lives in Manchester. Her poems have appeared in publications including The Guardian, Southword, Under The Radar, The High Window, and Poetry NorthWest. Her first full poetry collection, “Oysterlight”, was published by Pindrop Press in March 2017.
Author page: http://www.pindroppress.com/poets/Cheryl%20Pearson.html
Twitter:          https://twitter.com/cherylpea

dealing with loss, ways & means of – Alex Reed

dealing with loss, ways & means of

yell slippin’ & a slidin’
shake to the rhythm
paint biba on your eyes
bungee jump    kayak
go to Hawaii    swallow peyote
down mexico way
catwalk in paris
produce grime & trap
create a virus
to eradicate google
do no evil
pray for salvation
handle snakes
undergo trepanation
reanimate bones
with magical thinking
follow the teaching
of madame blavatsky
discard all secrets
except for one
build a shrine
to elizabeth montgomery
play tenor sax
like pharaoh sanders
marry grace slick
revive the counter culture
become inspirational
embark on a lecture tour
about the world that’s coming
lament for the children
& the world they’ve been given
collect zane grey
smoke marlboro   carry a lasso
say ‘shoot’ when taken by surprise
study string theory   live underwater
build a spaceship with boxes
visit new worlds of your own invention
tell fortunes   see mysterious strangers
crack jokes in northern clubs
move to the south
& vote tory
admonish the voices
lie with another
collect mustard seeds from the houses
of those who have never known loss

 

Alex Reed is a poet who lives in Northumberland. He is currently studying for an MA
in Writing Poetry.
Alex’s first pamphlet A career in accompaniment was published in 2016 by V. Press
(http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk)

Featured Publication – You’ve never seen a doomsday like it by Kate Garrett

Our featured publication for September is You’ve never seen a doomsday like it by Kate Garrett, published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

These are poems about surviving doomsdays. People use the word doomsday to describe the apocalypse, and apocalypse simply means ‘an uncovering of knowledge’. Every life has its share of apocalyptic moments—not only great catastrophes, but also small secret revelations, and surprise twists of good fortune as well. They leave you with lessons learned, and stories to tell.

 

9781910834558

 

You’ve never seen a doomsday like it

He opens the car door for two sweat-and-dirt sculpted
children with ten cent hope – their earth-scent rising
as they root through decades of leftovers, synthetic dreams
once resting on every child’s lips: Smurfs, Garfield, He-Man.

My life at bargain prices, in stasis, this millennial cusp.

An askew Rockwell: the boy and girl treasure hunting
as the July sun makes toffee of the driveway, holds itself
multiplied in each cell of each husk of the rows of green corn
along the road from here to the village.

He asks where I’m going.
 
London, I say, the one in England, not Ohio. His face
doesn’t darken or cloud the way they say faces do;
his eyes stay the same blue when he says I am right
to get out. Either get away or load your gun. This year
 
2000 isn’t going to be pretty. These cornfields will burn.
Houses will be searched, he says, and I’ll be dragged away
like the rest. And he’s going to get his wife and kids
and keep driving. But you get on that plane,

he says, don’t come back –

my life spread out on folding tables between us,
the man laying down five American dollars for pieces
of my childhood; five American dollars
I will change to pounds sterling, while they’re
still worth something, while we have the choice.
 

An august sacrament

The sun lowered itself into our six o’clock
armchair, blushing cream walls to the tune
of Dionysus’s blood, your faith between
my ribs chanting thanks to God for the static
under fingernails

and when the same sun has gone tortoise-slow
and quiet through the ground beneath us
the breeze that didn’t blow today transforms
a moonless night into myth – a remark thrown into shape:
it’s summer, these things happen.

I know
you would dance through
blackthorn if I asked.

You know
I try to believe
in empires, effigies.

 

They say three is the magic number

I. Vows

We sealed the cusp of winter
with wine and a kiss – our lips on the rim
of each glass purging scars; your voice
carried promises across a room in front
of your God and our friends; my tongue
traced the arc of our story: from a damp
night in June to trading silver rings
in a dying afternoon, daring the dark.

II. Prayers

It’s said All Hallows’ Eve is when
the barrier between two worlds thins out
lets all sorts through – spirits, demons, ghosts.
I’d whispered my own brand of prayer
all autumn long: she could claim her place
after the dress was worn, after dancing and relief
from the ache in my feet, after the wine flowed to a stop.

In the Samhain dark, just barely wed, we married
flesh and soul between midnight and the witching hour,
arms and legs woven together – laid out as kindling
on a bonfire bed, licking flames.

And if dimensions met that night
beyond some lifted veil
while our bodies were inseparable –
who can say which action cast the spell?

III. Completion

November soon brought a sadness, a sickness.
Maybe it was too much drink,
maybe a bleed was on the way,
or maybe after the celebrations
we should expect this comedown
under bare trees, steel clouds.

With the third week came exhaustion
and two pink lines
and I understood everything.

 

Previously publication credits for the poems are Prole, Melancholy Hyperbole, and The Black Light Engine Room Literary Magazine, respectively.

Kate Garrett’s poetry has been widely published, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and longlisted for a 2016 Saboteur Award. She is also the founding editor of Three Drops Press and Picaroon Poetry. Kate lives in Sheffield with her husband and four children. Twitter – @mskateybelle

More information on You’ve never seen a doomsday like it – and details of how to purchase a copy –  can be found on the Indigo Dreams Publishing website.

That number – Matthew Stewart

That number

I disembark
from any plane
or lock the door
in another hotel
or hug the bed
on getting home

and fingers reach
for that number
until they shrink
into a sudden fist
as if hoping
I won’t notice.

 

Matthew Stewart works in the Spanish wine trade and lives between Extremadura and West Sussex. Following two pamphlets with HappenStance Press, his first full collection, The Knives of Villalejo, is due out from Eyewear Books in June. He blogs at http://roguestrands.blogspot.com

The shady part – Elizabeth Gibson

The shady part

Here we are in the shady part of town,
where the old city has ended with its
stone walls and tourists and instead
there are tall trees with green leaves
and yes, they give us shade and cool
our dogs, too, as they lie resting and
barking at those who step around us,
frowning. We are happy to be shady.

Come pay us a visit with your mother,
who said we were sketchy. Watch us
be drawn and painted in, see my love
with her soft neck and perfect limbs
being traced by the great hand of the
twilight, by the keen artist’s eye of a
rising moon. Tell your mother that if
she opens her mind she too can be art.

So, it is dodgy here. Come at the peak
of night, when the earth and street are
alive and we dodge each other as bats,
fluttering, dancing in circles, delicate
and brave. Here we are in the iffy part
of town, where every moment is an if,
and a then, and a future falling before
us. Please. I want you to see it. Come.

 

Elizabeth Gibson’s work has appeared in Far Off Places, London Journal of Fiction, Severine, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Picaroon Poetry, The Fat Damsel and The Poetry Shed. She edits Foxglove Journal and the Word Life section of Now Then Manchester.
Twitter: @Grizonne
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethGibsonWriterPoet
Blog: http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.co.uk.

Beads – Louisa Campbell

Beads

For Kate

The things she said
and what she didn’t
pulled me two hundred miles to meet her –
kindness between the lines,
shared tears, understanding.

We said we’d meet in the hotel lobby:
vast; wall to wall glass;
swishing steel lift doors;
reception desk, indifferent.
I stood small at the window and waited.

She arrived, in glamour and timidity,
‘I’m so pleased to meet you…,’ she said
to the floor,
‘but sorry, I’m socially awkward.’
She fiddled with beads in her bracelet.
Silent, side by side,
we looked out.
Grey city streets
and cars and buses and people
went who-knows-where,
who-knows-why.

 

Louisa Campbell has realised that life is silly, but important, and she is very happy about that. Published here and there, her first pamphlet will be out with Picaroon Poetry in 2018.