Changing bag – Joanna Ingham

Changing bag

I am nothing if not capacious, cute with foxes
stripped of teeth. I have forgotten how many
pockets line my innards, sticky at the bottom,
regurgitated apple, seeped Calpol, nappies
in bunches. I swing from the pushchair handle,
swollen as an udder. Sometimes you’ll find me
slumped beside the highchair, dreaming myself
a diamanté clutch. Or simply a leather cross-body
in teal or burnt orange, only big enough for strolls
around a university town, a woman alone with
a lipstick, a bank card and a paperback.

Joanna Ingham’s pamphlet Naming Bones was published by ignitionpress in 2019. She won the Paper Swans Press Single Poem Competition in 2020. Her poetry has appeared widely in journals and magazines and has also featured in The Sunday Times.

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Birth Poem – Caleb Parkin

Birth Poem
for Z

I’d so love to tell you how I brought forth
your mewling body from my own. But you
are no-one’s child – and all I can offer is

consistency and conditioning; treats and trips
to an open field; a version of freedom within
its fenced bounds. I can’t tell you anything

about anything; didn’t even meet you as a pup.
Nonetheless, I must conjure this tale for you:
some arthouse or Caravaggio on a backstreet

of Bucharest. You and your wiggling siblings a
clutch of squidgy strays, flanked by a host of
vagabond dogs. The reality is: we picked you up

from a small-town car park, received a carrier
bag of toys; your foster human driving away, waving
as she wept. Now we’re a pack, here in suburbs where

foxes roll and crash outside, like recurring nightmares
/dreams, that sometimes wake you, yowling, in the night.
And when you run off, yes, we fret, picture some pale-

faced driver crouched over our phone numbers,
glinting at your neck. Or, worse still, imagine you in
a new adventure – wild hair matted, collar tattered

as you feast on scraps. These two men left leadless, lost.

Caleb Parkin is a day-glo queero techno eco poet & facilitator, based in Bristol. His debut pamphlet, Wasted Rainbow, was published by tall-lighthouse in February 2021; his debut collection, This Fruiting Body, will be published by Nine Arches in October 2021. From 2020 – 22, he’s Bristol City Poet.

Tweet: @CalebParkin | Insta: @couldbethemoon | Websitewww.couldbethemoon.co.uk

Playing Cards with Vicky’s Dad – Wendy Klein

Playing Cards with Vicky’s Dad

Rolly Rolicheck came from a place so strange
that my friend Vicky, his own little girl,

could not pronounce it. His cheekbones were high
in his puffy face, pressing his eyes

into narrow green slits like pistachio nuts half-split.
Dodie, his wife, worked at the soda fountain

in the bus depot, her great breasts just the right height
to rest on the counter as she drew us ice cold cokes

on our way home from school, her pink tongue flicking
a flake of tobacco stuck in her fuchsia lipstick —

bottom lip, Pall Malls — unfiltered. But it was Rolly,
home from work early, who welcomed us

onto his big lap, both of us at once, taking out
his special playing cards

that showed us coloured photos about what men
and women did with their clothes off.

Wrapped tight in his hairy arms, we would giggle. Folks said
Dodie Rolicheck was a tart, pitied poor old Rolly,

but when they disappeared that last summer,
I missed my friend, Vicky.

Wendy Klein has 3 collections: ‘Cuba in the Blood’ and ‘Anything in Turquoise’ (2009, 20013, Cinnamon Press), ‘Mood Indigo’ ( 2016, Oversteps), and a selected ‘Into the Blue’, High Window Press (2019).  An illustrated film of her recent pamphlet, ‘Let Battle Commence’ appears on You-tube https://youtu.be/L2JlbpAdUcU

Featured Publication – Something so wild and new in this feeling by Sarah Doyle

Our featured publication for March is Something so wild and new in this feeling by Sarah Doyle, published by V. Press.

In these inventive and adventurous collage poems, Sarah Doyle presents Dorothy
Wordsworth’s exuberant feeling for life and language in a fresh fabric of her own making.
Sympathetic and insightful, tactful, and imaginative, Doyle’s compositions refract the
energies of Dorothy’s writings through the subtle medium of her own sensibility, and the
result is at once daring and illuminating.
” Gregory Leadbetter

In Something so wild and new in this feeling, Sarah Doyle has taken Dorothy Wordsworth’s
journals and developed excerpts into poems, finding felicities of phrasing, musicality, and
ideas. Doyle’s skills in pacing, use of the line, and the possibilities of form help us appreciate
anew Wordsworth’s habits of thought and close attention to the natural world. With
Wordsworth and Doyle, the reader hears the birds singing in the mist.
” Carrie Etter

A heart unequally divided

My heart was so full that I could hardly speak.
Every question was like the snapping of a little
thread about my heart. I sate a long time upon
a stone at the margin of the lake, and after a flood
of tears my heart was easier. The lake looked
to me, I knew not why, dull and melancholy,
and the weltering on the shores seemed a heavy
sound. My heart dissolved. I could not help
weeping, I was sick at heart. In my walk back
I had many of my saddest thoughts, and I could
not keep the tears within me. My heart was almost
melted away. My heart smote me, prevented me
from sleeping. I was melancholy, and could not
talk, but at last I eased my heart by weeping.

At play chasing a butterfly

Upon the sunless hill, we saw miles of grass, light
and glittering, and the insects passing. The hum
of insects, that noiseless noise which lives
in the summer air. The bees were humming
about the hive. I saw a robin chasing a scarlet
butterfly this morning, flying all about us. I used
to chase them a little, but I was afraid of brushing
the dust off their wings, and did not catch them.

Among the mossy stones

When we were in the woods beyond
Gowbarrow Park we saw a few daffodils
close to the water-side. We fancied
that the sea had floated the seeds ashore,
and that the little colony had so sprung up.
But as we went along there were more
and yet more;
………………………..and at last, under the boughs
of the trees, we saw that there was a long
belt of them along the shore, about
the breadth of a country turnpike road.
I never saw daffodils so beautiful.

They grew among the mossy stones
about and above them. Some rested
their heads upon these stones, as on
a pillow, for weariness, and the rest
tossed and reeled and danced, and
seemed as if they verily laughed
with the wind,
………………………….that blew upon them
over the lake. They looked so gay, ever
glancing, ever changing. This wind
blew directly over the lake to them.

The distant prospect

The shapes of the nearer trees
and the dome of the wood
dimly seen and dilated.

The shapes of the mist,
slowly moving along,
exquisitely beautiful;

passing over the sheep
they almost seemed to have
more of life than those

quiet creatures.
The unseen birds
singing in the mist.

Sarah Doyle is the Pre-Raphaelite Society’s Poet-in-Residence, and co-author of Dreaming Spheres: Poems of the Solar System (PS Publishing, 2014). She is widely placed and published, being a runner-up in the Keats-Shelley Essay Prize 2020 and the Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize 2019, winning the Wolverhampton Literature Festival poetry competition and Holland Park Press’s Brexit in Poetry 2019, and being highly commended in the Forward Prizes 2018. Sarah is co-editor of Humanagerie, an anthology from Eibonvale Press, shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award in 2019. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway College, University of London, and is currently researching a PhD in meteorological poetry at Birmingham City University. More at sarahdoyle.co.uk or Twitter: @PoetSarahDoyle

Something so wild and new in this feeling is available to purchase from the V. Press website.

Grandmother – Luke Palmer

Grandmother
For Jean Walden

I am cutting your name out of the clothes you used to own
when you could own things. They make a modest pile.

I work in silence, listen to the scissors and to your daughters
making arrangements for your funeral.

These cardigans and scarves will hold the smell of you
until someone washes them. I am folding them slowly, gently

like the bundle of your names in marker pen or stitched tape
on the table next to me. A nest.

When I have finished, I will take that cradle of thread
in my hands. Its fibres will tickle my warm skin.

I will carry it to the window and, whatever is inside of it,
with this delicate and tender care, I will release.

Luke Palmer’s debut pamphlet, Spring in the Hospital, won the Prole Pamphlet Competition in 2018. He won third prize in the Winchester Poetry Competition this year, and his debut YA novel, Grow (Firefly Press), will arrive in July 2021.

Hedgehog-hole – Angela France

Hedgehog-hole

You sawed holes in the fence
where the planks met the ground,
imagining how much space
spines need around a soft body.

A small wooden house
nestles under the rosemary, filled
with clean straw you scrabbled
loose from the solid pet-shop bale.

The wall along the side alley
where wind traps curled leaves
to heap on cracked slabs
is the perfect place

to leave cat food, never milk,
as dusk blurs rooftops and trees.
You don’t know whose hunger
clears the food by morning;

a neighbour’s cat, the dog-fox
on his rounds, or the sleek brown
tumble of rats, quickly clearing
the ground, stealing into shadow.

You always hope the hog-house,
cat food, fence-holes may be found
by the snuffling secrecies of the one
you saw in the garden two years ago.

Angela France’s publications include ‘Occupation’ (Ragged Raven, 2009), ‘Lessons in Mallemaroking’ (Nine Arches, 2011), ‘Hide’ (Nine Arches 2013) and The Hill (Nine Arches 2017).  Angela teaches creative writing at the University of Gloucestershire and in various community settings. http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/the%20hill.html

Daughter – Joanna Ingham

Daughter

Sometimes I love you like a jar of moles, breathless,
teeming, full to the lid. There are so many versions
of you I keep preserved in fluid, your tiny pink hands,
noses pressed against the glass. Sometimes there’s no
room for anything else, no sense or balance, just
collecting, and the memory on my phone is full
because I’ve taken too many photos of your face,
the face that keeps changing even though it’s always
yours and you used to have fur on the back of your neck
but it’s gone now, like your chin that was always wet,
the way you’d burrow into my side with your little head.
Today, in the museum, I love you like this. My skin
is aching with the thought you won’t always be beside me,
looking at the moles with your sad compassionate eyes.

Joanna Ingham’s pamphlet Naming Bones was published by ignitionpress in 2019. She won the Paper Swans Press Single Poem Competition in 2020. Her poetry has appeared widely in journals and magazines and has also featured in The Sunday Times.

A Bike Ride through Thame on the Anniversary of his Death – Pen Kease

A Bike Ride through Thame on the Anniversary of his Death

At first, there’s nothing but M40 snarl. Nearer,       
hollow town voices, crisp leaves under wheels,      
a quick rustle of wings, a baby’s wail, a click of gears.     
The equinox is past. The old sun blinds. Cold wind steals     
body-heat, freezes my face as I force legs to pedal uphill.  
There’s no birdsong. They’ve queued up on roofs, targets                                            
on a shooting range; mobbed, resettled, chattered. Now,  
shrill rain erupts, old ladies scuttle. Rain batters the market.  
Stallholders shrug, clasp hot mugs, watch the tartan trollies scatter   
into gift and coffee shops. They’ll pull up paper masks from throats,  
peer at ornaments, cakes, through foggy lenses. Above chimneys  
and shopfronts, the bruised sky swells. A gust knifes my coat.  
This town was too posh for Dad. Full of rich sods
he’d say. Not meant for the likes of us common clods.

Pen Kease used to be a secondary school teacher but now writes poems instead. Pen has a recent MA in Writing from the University of Warwick and her poems have been published in a range of literary magazines and websites, including The Interpreter’s House, The Recusant, Militant Thistles, and Prole Magazine. She lives in South Oxfordshire with husband and cat, and cares for a scattered family as best she can.

Finally – Tim Dwyer

Finally

On my daily walk along the shore
where the waves feather the strand,
humid air hints of thunderstorms
and swallows practice departure,
I find a lucky stone.

A pebble really, smooth
from countless tides,
deep green in overcast light,
oval, coined size.
How easy it disappears
in my wallet’s hidden sleeve,

and one day, my restless fingers
will recover the pebble,
lucky once again.

Tim Dwyer’s chapbook is Smithy Of Our Longings (Lapwing Publications). He will have poems in the upcoming issue of Cyphers, and in the Irish Poetry Chair Commemorative Anthology. He has recently moved from the U.S. to Bangor, County Down.

Nana’s House – Joe Williams

Nana’s House

My sister says she’d always refuse
to give us any biscuits.
It still annoys her now.
But I don’t remember that.

On her own since ’79,
when Grandad fell, fractured his skull.
One way to end a party.
I don’t remember that.

We bonded over puzzle books,
Wordsearch and Logic Problems.
If there was anything else we shared,
I don’t remember that.

In her sitting room, in ’83,
Thorburn scored a maximum,
his mate Big Bill peeking round,
and I remember that.

Good luck, mate.

I’ll take my sister’s word
about the biscuits.

Joe Williams is a writer and performing poet from Leeds. His latest book is ‘This is Virus’, a sequence of erasure poems made from Boris Johnson’s letter to the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic. www.joewilliams.co.uk