I Visit the Museum and Make It About Me – Nina Parmenter

I Visit the Museum and Make It About Me

I stand by a stone sarcophagus 
roughly the length of my femur 
and I decide I have lived too long. I flinch 
at arrowheads drawn from the river
which are pinned to the wall in a swarm.
Those barbs make my ribs burn and itch.
I gag at a Roman choker
which is twisted too tightly to fit
my neck. So why make it? I pause 
by the handaxes lumped in a case
and lick at my palms like a cat
to test for the flint’s cold taste. I gape
at the gaggle of stone-age flutes
holed and scraped clean of their marrow.
Still, it may mean there’s use for my bones –
well, except for my busted elbow.

Nina Parmenter’s first collection ‘Split, Twist, Apocalypse’ will be published by Indigo Dreams in 2022. Her poetry has appeared in journals including SnakeskinHonest Ulsterman, Light, Allegro Poetry and Ink Sweat and Tears. She lives in Wiltshire. Twitter: @ninaparmenter. Website: www.ninaparmenter.com  Facebook: @parmenterpoetry

When everything becomes again – Tim Kiely

When everything becomes again

When everything becomes again
it will be with the song of one grasshopper
filling its universe of blades;

it will be with the strike of a woodpecker’s beak
on tree-trunk, all its edges sweet,
embracing us, as the hills are filled

with the quiet breath we thought we lost,
face-down, dew-spattered, in hiding
from all that has happened. Heaving up,

almost unnoticed, shedding earth,
no lesser weight can smother us.
There are no stars we cannot claim.

Tim Kiely is a criminal barrister and poet based in London. He has been published by ‘Dreich’, ‘South Bank Poetry’, ‘Under the Radar’ and ‘Magma’. His poetry pamphlet ‘Hymn to the Smoke’ was a winner of the 2020 Indigo Dreams First Pamphlet Competition

No-one was with her – Nikki Robson

No-one was with her 2

I didn’t hear her fall
as she must have, perhaps from
the sharp apex that snicks the night sky.
She is lying on her back, bony talons tucked,
heart-face heavenward, fixed eyes shut
but not tightly, as if she expected
to use them again come nightfall.

Her call had wakened me
but I didn’t hear her fall.
Does she look at peace?
When I catch a glimpse
owls seem self-contained
and inquisitive. I hope that’s how it is
moving from one state to the next.

Tucked in bed with my daughter
under painted stars
we finished Charlotte’s Web,
crying together. In my adulthood
I had forgotten
both the spider’s end
and the starkness of the truth.

2 from Charlotte’s Web, E B White

Nikki is originally from Northern Ireland and currently lives in Scotland. She has had poems in journals and anthologies in print and online including Poetry Scotland, Acumen, Northwords Now, Under the Radar, the Lake and Scotia Extremis.

Limbo – Cian Ferriter

Limbo

The ward reduces to its midnight hush.
A week since you were born six weeks too soon,

we keep vigil in this touch-less limbo.
Your face a miniature in distance,

your fingers gripping invisible lines.
Deirdre expressing to your silent cries.

In the small hours, without a word, a nurse
releases you into your mother’s arms.

Sensing your breath in that titanic hold,
I wrap my shaking self around you both.

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.

Featured Publication – Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands by Sarah Wimbush

Our featured publication for May and June is Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands by Sarah Wimbush, published by Bloodaxe on 26th May 2022.

In Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands Sarah Wimbush journeys through myth and memory with poetry rooted in Yorkshire. From fireside tales of Romany Gypsies and Travellers, through pit villages and the haunt of the Miners’ Strike, to the subliminal of the everyday – including poems about typists, pencil sharpeners and learning to drive in a Ford Capri. This highly accomplished debut collection explores what it means to belong, what it means to be on the margins. This is poetry written in praise of family and community and those qualities which make us human: love, language and, most of all, resilience.’ Bloodaxe

The Bittern

After the glut of soft fruits,
and oat cakes toasting on the griddle,
and the deluge of Cox’s,

it’s the wintering-over
in two-up two-down cottage,
vardos stored on Big Frank’s piece,

a squall of pheasant and quail
bartered for a tail-end of hogget,
mother schooling us by the range:

how to baste the skin to gold,
how to skim the fat for rushlights
and axels, how to eke the meat out

from pink to grey to dry; scraps
for soups, bones coddled to slate
in washday broth. All cushti scran.

And the hardness of spring.
Bitterns nesting in reed beds,
sweeter than heron –

the male’s deep whoohu-whoohu
like a breath blown over a bottle.
On a still day, I feel that call for miles.

cushti scran: good food
Previously published in Bloodlines (Seren 2020).

A Sund’y in Worksop

That morning, we pitch our caravans on Joe White’s,
somewhere on Sime Street. Mother scrubs vardo floors
with washday waste, singing Paddy McGinty’s Goat or maybe

I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen. Daddy has a bloke to see
at The Old Ship Inn or perhaps The Robin Hood, God’s people
blinking as they enter daylight. I stay with the tub cart

or was it the dray, water Plunk our dapple pony, or was it Spike
or was it Pluck? A school of men march into the yard, keen to win
a fortune with Pitch and Toss. From a corner the look-out boy

watches me. Beneath the sign, ‘No Gambling Or Spitting’,
the chuckers bless a fat penny each and bowl against the wall,
or could it have been into the air? Metals wield and thud.

Hoots and oaths. The men drift away, one lad left on the floor
or maybe leant against the wall, says over, fot in’t war, I did
and he has no hat. Or was it boots? Or was it both?

vardo: horse-drawn caravan
Previously published in The Interpreter’s House

Vixen

I wait outside my daughter’s boyfriend’s house.
Ignition off. Radio low.
I rarely feel my hackles rise
at my desk, or in Tescos, but here

a flicker creeps into my peripheral vision –
fire on black – a comet’s trail, then
a head that oscillates; her upturned snout.
I switch the radio off. Watch from above.

She paws the tarmac, bows to me – but no,
slides her jaws around a roadkill squirrel,
its compressed plume tail.
Slinks off to where the foxes go.

Previously published in Ink, Sweat and Tears

Near Extinction

I
No otters in the River Don.
No rest for Sylvia Grant-Dalton
upholding Brodsworth Hall: subsidence
scribbled on the wall –
the roof a drain, gardens besieged.
A losing battle.

Down the lane, Brian
at Brodsworth pit
with his mullet and denim jacket:
windswept, sun-kissed – convinced
they can turn the tide
in landlocked South Yorkshire.

II
Rossington. Like Beirut,
says Mrs Selby, watching ghosts
of picket line past –
burned-out cars,
burned-out hearts.
Mr Selby in his chair,
waiting for the snowdrops.

An action shot of Lesley Boulton:
camera in hand, the raised baton –
a pin-up girl at Highfields Welfare.
Wives on battle stations
in the soup kitchen.
Men fed first.

III
Outside the new Frenchgate Centre –
a band of brothers riddled with badges,
rattle buckets – ‘Miners Children’s Xmas Party’
all around the world turned
outside in.

Paul, just nineteen, marching back
with the shift and his Grandad
to Markham Main: end of the line,
final man down, under that headgear –
the last dinosaur in Doncaster.

Previously published in The North

Sarah Wimbush’s poetry is rooted in Yorkshire with tales of childhood, colliery villages and Gypsies and Travellers. She has published two prize-winning pamphlets: Bloodlines (Seren, 2020) and The Last Dinosaur in Doncaster (Smith|Doorstop, 2021). Her first collection Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands is available from Bloodaxe in May 2022. @SarahWimbush

All poems above are taken from Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands, published by Bloodaxe on 26th May 2022. For more information, and to purchase a copy, please visit www.bloodaxebooks.com. https://www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/product/shelling-peas-with-my-grandmother-in-the-gorgiolands-1296

The Commons Falls Silent – Kathryn Alderman

The Commons Falls Silent

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 – Nora Nadjarian

Although

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

Skipper – Nina Parmenter

Skipper

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 SnakeskinHonest Ulsterman, Light, Allegro Poetry and Ink Sweat and Tears. She lives in Wiltshire. Twitter: @ninaparmenter. Website: www.ninaparmenter.com  Facebook: @parmenterpoetry

Christopher Plummer – Joanna Ingham

Christopher Plummer

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