Your first pair without the Velcro straps
were a thick brown leather brogue for school.
Your mother wept as I laced them up,
threading each eye and pulling the slack.
You thought the laces were half-excavated
worms, stuck between worlds.
When you stood up, tried to walk
you tripped and fell, cried when I sang
the song about the sad bunny
with abnormal ears. I watched you
unraveling, the knots of yourself
grappling the loose loops, crossing over.
Clifton Redmond is a student at Carlow College St. Patrick’s. His work has appeared in various online and print journals and has been placed in various competitions and awards. He is also a member of the Carlow Writers’ Co-operative.
Anne Neville’s Unknown Heirs
You rush inside
your apartments, shooing
your ladies away.
You fear the inside,
Your body and blood
You are drawn to large
windows, but they never
let in enough light.
You touch Cumberland
sandstone: red, viscous.
Your womb shreds.
Edwin Stockdale has published two poetry pamphlets with Red Squirrel Press: Aventurine (September 2014) and The Glower of the Sun (January 2019). Currently, he is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University.
Sad news today, folks. Alan English off Scotter Bottom passed at the weekend. Not the Alan English from Cleethorpes with the unicycle, this one had a proper pushbike took the free papers to the old folks’ home in a co-op carrier bag.
I’ve been asked by my cousin Maureen Burn was Shaw went to Australia with her first husband dead now that was Mick known as Pob off Plymouth Road let me know and I’ll pass messages on she’s only got months.
Remember them gigs organised by them who had the pub in the precinct they had all the top bands from that Channel 4 one with her who went right off the rails and they were all introduced by him with the glasses who got done for drugs and was said to have four kiddies by four different lasses but I don’t know how he did it because he was nowt to look at.
Anyone remember Denis’s Denims on Church Road used to be a church there then was a big denim warehouse not made of denim but stocked it hahaha got all the skinny ones for the kids and everyone went even my dad once lol him who had it also had a stall on the indoor market behind that second-hand bloke who was a Labour councillor who went independent and split the Labour vote and I never swear but I had him down for a right wanker.
Thanks to all who contributed to the site but afraid this is going to be the last post because me and the other moderators have had to put up with some abuse not from the regulars it’s just not worth it so we might resurface in some other form or we might not resurface in any form other form or otherwise.
Rob Walton is from Scunthorpe, and lives in Whitley Bay. Poetry and short fiction for adults and children published by The Emma Press, Butcher’s Dog, Frances Lincoln, Bloomsbury, IRON Press, Red Squirrel, Northern Voices, Arachne and others. He collated the New Hartley Memorial Pathway text. He sometimes tweets @anicelad
Look At Me
Before you leave
you must know the shape of the orchid
–the narrow rod of stem,
itself held up by a green plastic pole,
too fragile to support the glut of blooms
billowing at the head.
Before you leave,
you must know that four months ago
the plant was a barren knot of stumps.
Blanched in the white windowsill sun,
it leaned against the guide-pole,
unmoving for an entire winter.
Before you leave,
you must know that when spring came,
I reached to wipe the dust from its leaves
and discovered a bud.
A knuckle of a thing, tiny,
barely a suggestion of green.
You must know I thought of you
when more buds opened and opened and opened.
I thought of how thrilled you’d have been
of the shock of cerise in each centre,
like the bright silk lining of a dull coat.
Joanna is an MA graduate from Bath Spa University, whose poetry and nonfiction often deals with family and trauma. She is a researcher for creative writing incubator, Paper Nations and social media editor for Tears in the Fence.
The Other Boy
There was another boy
Dad confided, out of the blue.
A lovely little bab, Gran told him,
who died hours after the birth.
The priest baptised him in time-
a soul gone to heaven, Dad said,
his words a warm handclasp
I palmed under my skin
and shared, fifty years on,
with his last living sister.
She’d always suspected
decades ago, in the big bedroom
of the old back-to-back.
Gran’s bad stomach ache.
Cold supper on the table.
A neighbour’s red eyes.
Footfall up and down stairs
and later, furniture buffed
until it glared like looking-glass.
Spring-cleaning, Gran huffed
at her young daughters
as though they hadn’t noticed
her sudden weight loss
and frequent visits to church.
Things were like that in those days,
my Aunt sighed, relieved
she could claim him, at last.
The unnamed boy who arrived
at their home and never really left.
Sheila Jacob has had a number of poems published in U.K.magazines and on webzines. She has recently self-published a short collection of poems which form a memorial to her father who died in 1965.
In the stone age of paper maps
I gazed all day,
found a dot marked Chapel-St-Leonards
and decided I must go.
Now I’m sitting on a bench
a can of lager by the sea.
I cycled two hundred miles to get here,
to hit the coast or rather
a wall of wind hit me
into beach huts and a derelict hotel,
making shapes in corners
just like the abandoned Arabian palace
in a comic book when I was six
that fired dreams
of travel, but ultimately
dots on maps are disappointing,
no mystery in arrival
only in staying.
After spending some years in Europe, John now lives in Liverpool and is a member of The Dead Good Poets. Recent appearances include The Blue Nib, Stepaway and Allegro. Work also forthcoming in The High Window, Envoi, Picaroon and Sarasvati.
In the morning you will find yourself
inside a human heart. You will be warm,
and notice, with surprise, the purple and the blue.
Not everything is red in the temple
of pump and shunt, squeeze and release.
It will be loud and you will be small –
will have to be, to be there
and alive, your own heart now
flea-sized, grain of sugar-sized, at most.
Once you’re over the shock you will rationalize
and hold your breath
in case such extra air makes
the heart’s rhythm catch
or worse, cause a clamorous
blockage like the clanging
fury of the airlocks you remember
in the old house’s pipes.
By the time you’ve worried all this
you will be dizzy, need to lean against a ventricle
but lightly, in case your tiny nails tear
the walls and drown you in the rush
of this hospitable stranger’s loose blood.
So you will put your hands in your pockets
and that’s when you will find the bus ticket,
tiny too, but your tiny eyes can read
the type and then you will know
how you got there. That once again you
brought this on yourself.
Katherine grew up in Cornwall and now lives in Cardiff. Her poems have appeared in The North, Magma, Poetry Wales, New Welsh Review, The Interpreter’s House, And Other Poems, and Butcher’s Dog. Seren will publish her second collection in 2020.
for Marc Bolan
Perhaps that first impact gets shifted
an inch: the Mini scrapes the fence post
and stalls before it can smack the tree;
they get out giggling, stoned or pissed
and he lives to write songs that revive
his career, to sing ‘Heroes’ with Bowie
at Live Aid or even strut a Vegas stage
in silver spandex, his froth of curls dyed
matt black, his pout fossilised by botox.
Or maybe he’s scared enough to strike
a deal with fate: quits booze and drugs,
retires from rock, gives away his cash
—so here he is, slouched in Outpatients,
his head fuzzed white, his face puffy
with steroids, looking up from his book
when the nurse calls out ‘Mr. Bolan!’
Sharon’s poems have been published online and in print, and have been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the WoLF Poetry Competition. Sharon won the Borderlines Poetry Competition in 2017 and was among the winners of the Poetry Society Members’ Competition in November 2018. She lives on the Isle of Portland.
It might be over
This morning we found
a glass slipper on the step
and, despite me trying
to convince you
that it looked a little tight,
you felt it was a perfect fit,
so ever since
I have been watching you
like a hawk, as you hover
in the vicinity of the front door,
though, thankfully, one postman
and two chuggers later,
there is still no sign of a prince.
Maurice Devitt: Winner of the 2015 Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition, he has been runner-up or shortlisted in Listowel, Cuirt, Patrick Kavanagh, Interpreter’s House and Cork Literary Review. He is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site, chairperson of the Hibernian Writers’ Group and has recently published his debut collection ‘Growing Up in Colour’ with Doire Press.
Tell Us More About Yourself (100 Words Max)
Fuckety fuck fuck fuck what do I SAY?
Mother of two, wife, friend – in middle age?
I’m a school runner, taxi driver, cook.
Baggage wrangler, donkey octopus.
I’m a personal shopper, pet feeder
nurse, bog cleaner, psychiatrist, leader
of a small dictator tribe, ragged nailed
lover, discoverer of pockets full of snails.
Fitting three days into two, a part-time worker,
(my boy boss still thinking I’m a shirker).
I’m an all inspiring gin-drunk mum,
time poor, I am rich on unearned income,
walking wounded survivor of lost shoes –
and now so fully knackered that this will have to do.
JLM Morton lives in the Cotswolds, an emerging poet snatching as much time as she can to write between caring for a young family and staring up the barrel of a demanding day job.