Featured Publication – The House of Ghosts and Mirrors by Oz Hardwick

Our featured publication for October is The House of Ghosts and Mirrors by Oz Hardwick, published by Valley Press.

The book “Begins with an ending and keeps on subtly subverting our expectations on every page – glass houses, mermaids, a bloodshot moon, vampires on the staircase, the ‘indescribable’ breath of leaves. These are unsettling, memorable, subterranean poems that walk the line between dreams and waking, finding a language that nestles ‘somewhere / between science and sleight of hand’.” Helen Mort

“These rigorously considered, sturdily constructed, lyrically written poems contain sharp personal and social insights. They display a romantic maturity which resonates long after the book has been set aside.” Michael Moorcock

“These are poems that deal with the magical and mystical while firmly rooted in the detail of memory and history. Here are acutely drawn pictures of the ways we all manage, or fail to manage, our losses. Sad in the best way, tender and hopeful, these are poems in which we can all find ourselves.” Antony Dunn

 

Cover Final

 

Leaves

In that summer I discovered leaves,
explored their textures, drew in
their citrus, amber, indescribable
breath, like a lover sleeping close.

I clothed myself in leaves, weaving
too many shades to learn the names
of parent plants, dressed myself
in rippling green finer than light.

And I slept deep in leaves, nested
like a mouse, bird, snake,
the phoenix rising from burning leaves,
fire blazing behind summer eyes.

 

Afterparty

It was a big house, a lot of land,
and I couldn’t remember who’d invited me.
There were tyre tracks on the lawn and the carpet,
but the party was winding down, tangled
bodies on couches, on the landing,
in the flower beds, leaving just
a few of us, jittery with crystals and capsules.
Someone said Read us one of your poems
so I pulled out a couple of books and flipped
through dog-eared pages. But I didn’t recognise
any of the words, and my eyes blurred
over unfamiliar phrases, and there was
an awkward, jerky silence, until
someone said Look, are you a poet
or what? But by then my mouth was dry
as I licked my sour, powdered finger,
leafing frantically through hazy titles
I couldn’t focus on, everyone getting restless.
And all I could think of as the room spun sideways
was your smile as you’d left, hours earlier, your arm
resting lightly around someone else’s waist.

 

The Miracle of Flight

– for Harold Walker

As a child I always wanted to fly.
Air displays thrilled me,
promised a future of wings and winds
above the arc of the earth,
freedom from petty gravity.

In my grandparents’ room I studied
scrapbooks – you as a young man,
clear-eyed, looking to the sky
and to a future you never saw.

Too young to understand, I held your wings,
envied you the clouds, your easy confidence
in shaky crates, flying over a foreign landscape
I had yet to see, but would come to love.

I still have your photograph, your scorched diploma,
a letter from the palace. I think of you on this short hop
to Brussels that I almost take for granted – see
an open cockpit, a young man falling from the sky
like a comet to lie, unmarked, in Belgian soil.

Then I imagine you here, sitting beside me.
You tell how it felt to challenge the sky; the noise,
the adrenaline and cold air stealing
your breath, the broad grin
of knowing yourself alive.

We toast each other with complimentary beers,
share stories about your sister – my grandmother –
and then fall silent, both in the aerial moment
we dreamed of as boys, looking down
on the peaceful fields spread out below.

 

Ice

It’s something as simple as a January night,
hands deep in pockets, and wool
tight against your chin, echoes
of your steps marking years,
as your unthinking feet remember
shortcut lanes to old homes.

Then it’s over the bridge, barely a stride
across the beck, past the bland pub –
now boarded up – that you only visited
once, in that darkest of all winters,
with friends who gathered for the final time;
and you woke next day, surprised
by the perfect clarity of the morning and your mind.

And the ice winter air tastes
of a drunken New Year’s kiss
that never ended, and remains, still,
the most honest thing you ever did.

 

Previous publication credits for the poems are Visual Verse, Black Light Engine Room, The Book of Plans, Hopes and Dreams (Beautiful Dragons Press) and Reach Poetry, respectively. 

Oz Hardwick is a York-based writer, photographer, music journalist, and occasional
musician, whose work has been published and performed internationally in all manner of media. He is also Professor of English at Leeds Trinity University, where he leads the
Creative Writing programmes.
Website: www.ozhardwick.co.uk

The House of Ghosts and Mirrors (Valley Press, 2017), may be purchased from: http://www.valleypressuk.com/book/91/the_house_of_ghosts_and_mirrors

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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.

 

Previous 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.