She walks backwards into the sea; shingle gives ingress to her feet before removing any word of her.
At her shoulder a scrappy halfmoon of grey seals pause their morning hunt to study this rum spectacle.
Her cotton shift loses a little pigment day-by-day, so the dark blooms are an unreadable cloud below the surface.
From the cliffs, you can see her, if you wish it. And when the wind drops just enough, seal-song will act like a balm.
Go to her now, she will send back your dead, salvage your bedazzling treasures. She can feel you are heartsore.
Helen Ivory is a poet and visual artist. Her fifth Bloodaxe collection is The Anatomical Venus(2019). She is an editor for IS&T and teaches creative writing online for the UEA/NCW. Her New and Selected will appear from MadHat (US) later this year.
Fiona Cartwright (Twitter @sciencegirl73) is a poet and conservation scientist. Her poems have appeared in various magazines, including Magma, Mslexia, Under the Radar, Interpreter’s House and Atrium. Her debut pamphlet, Whalelight, was published by Dempsey and Windle in 2019 (Fiona Cartwright).
Blood has soaked her pyjama top when she appears, holding out her hand – four-fingered – as if it’s no use to her now. My instinct’s to save the severed part, so I hoist her onto my hip and run to the kitchen where she’s chopped an apple under the spotlights hidden beneath the cupboard. The rest of the kitchen’s dark. Outside is dark, with flickers of frost light when the moon breaks through scurrying clouds. She’s heavy-limbed and helpless in my arms, but the finger’s there amongst half-moons of pink-fleshed apple. I swivel from worktop to freezer, thrust it in with the tubs of raspberries from the summer, collapse on the lino. She’s still offering me her hand – half wanting the whole thing gone, half wanting it fixed. Where is her pain? I’m wrapping her fingers with crumpled tea towels pulled from the middle drawer and she’s resting her head against the crook of my arm, staring at a distant point by the door, as if at the doctors for her jabs. I’m screaming for help, for someone to phone for an ambulance, wanting to haul us both into the freezer’s silver body, to be closer to the finger, the part of her that’s permanently broken, permanently gone.
Kate Hendry’s poems have been widely published in magazines including The Rialto, The North, Mslexia, Under the Radar, Gutter, and are forthcoming in Poetry Wales and New Welsh Review. Her first pamphlet, The Lost Original, was published by Happenstance Press. @hendrykate
Elizabeth McGeown is based in Belfast, Northern Ireland and has poems published or forthcoming in Banshee, Abridged and Under the Radar. She is the 2022 UK Poetry Slam Champion and her first collection ‘Cockroach’ is out with Verve in Summer 2022.
Sometimes they sleep in though the daylight is broad.
Two young people on a single mattress under the bridge, the quilt up to their chins
still as dolls, heads touching, black hair intertwined.
Sometimes the bed is empty, quilt pulled back—and they are gone.
Pigeons on the girders, orange eyed, nod and coo, a fluttering of feathers.
A bus brakes, each passenger absorbed in their own music.
People’s feet splash by through puddles. They glance down at a bed in the open
scuffed, dirty, damp as they emerge from the bridge
to catch their connection.
Janet Hatherley’s debut pamphlet, What Rita Tells Me, was published May 2022 (Dempsey & Windle). She has poems in Under the Radar, Stand and others, won third prize in Second Light competition and was highly commended in Ver competition.
We children are told that we are moving to the Waterside not far from our cousin. We are pleased when we see the new house, feel the scale of it, clatter up and down the many stairs, lie on the new carpet, smell the fresh paint, enjoy the airy rooms without furniture, eat our lunch like a picnic on the floor, but something’s not right. Mammy is unhappy. She is crying. She does not want to leave. She has lived in the same streets all her life, no matter that she is moving to a better house, a bigger house – and safer.
On moving day we use a green van that isn’t meant for removals. Mammy is upset. In the van, she says out loud: We are flittin’. She seems ashamed, as if she has let the side down after all these years. She doesn’t explain why we can’t stay. We children cannot know that our daddy has been threatened in repeated late-night phone-calls, has been told to get out or face the consequences – he has been dragged into an alley off Maureen Avenue and told at gunpoint to get out or be shot.
Gill Barr’s poems have appeared in Bad Lilies, The Honest Ulsterman and The New European. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Queen’s University, Belfast and is appearing at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in July 2022.
The tomatoes are naked, five of them, blanched, skinned, a little indecent, something
not meant to be seen. The knife is sting-sharp, dissects them into precise quarters.
The recipe dictates de-seeded: I push my thumb against the secret flesh, feeling its moist resistance. It gives,
I scoop. Pulp, warm to the touch, slick and tender, slips between my fingers, seeds suspended
in umbilical sacks. I half expect it to start pulsating, a stranded creature straining back to its sea.
Detritus now, discarded, it’s swept into the food waste, where it bleeds among egg shells and onion skins, pale, lost.
Antonia Kearton writes, parents and is training as a person-centred counsellor in the Highlands of Scotland. She has been published in various journals including Acumen, Northwords Now and New Writing Scotland, and is intermittently on twitter as @AntoniaKearton.
Galia has poems in Bad Lilies, Atrium, Dear Reader, Streetcake, Zero Readers, Anthropocene and Eat the Storms. She has lectured at Shakespeare Institute, BFI, British Library and is committee member for the London Association for the Teaching of English. Follow her on Twitter @galiamelon
Keep a conker in your pocket to protect against broken bones. Plan escape routes and learn to tie double knots. Let yourself be guided by the mazy braille of garage walls whenever wearing a patch outside, and refuse to take off your Mighty Dynamo T-shirt on piping hot days for fear of getting a tan as golden syrup brown as your Dad’s. Practice jumping your garden gate and turning the front door key. Should your dream heavy legs weigh you down when pursued, throw yourself onto the grass and curl into a ball. With luck your enemy will fall badly. Timing is crucial. Go down too soon and you will look like a toddler playing peekaboo. He will turn you like a fox turning a hedgehog. Offer no resistance if he does, and do not worry if the finer points of his instructions escape you when struck by the whites of his Peter Lorre eyes. Sit up. Notice how the rooks jostle for space in the silver birches. The shadowboxing kite’s struggle to free itself. Develop a stoical attitude towards lineups and take refuge in alternative fictions. Stay home on test days with your cat watching Mr Ben and The Red Balloon instead. See the way the balloon follows the lonely boy from street to street like a stray thought bubble only he can understand. Harbour secret loves. Sarah Miles’s stutter. The roof of your mouth where your thumb rests snug as Cinderella’s slipper. The blue eyed girl in the opposite house whose gate springing shut is a glass thrown into a fireplace every time she leaves and returns. Cherish small freedoms, most of which you will gawp at in astonishment in the blink of an eye. The gap in the hedge. The open playing fields. Unlocked doors. Your mother’s voice calling you in just before dark. Try not to hog the background in photographs. The first time you drink too much and are sick in the nut bowl at Aunty Edie’s Christmas party, seize the opportunity to ask your father’s silhouette to hug you as you lie on your deathbed in the borrowed light from the landing, knowing that in the morning, if there is one, you can always deny the memory. Be careful with islands.
Mark Czanik was born in the sweet borderlands of Herefordshire, and now lives in Bath. Recent poems, stories, and artwork have appeared in MIR, The Rialto, Riptide, ROPES, Porridge, Pennine Platform, Morphrog, Black Nore Review, and 3AM.