Featured Publication – We Are All Lucky by Ben Banyard

Our featured publication for August is We Are All Lucky by Ben Banyard, published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

We Are All Lucky is an uplifting collection which carefully examines the joys and sorrows of modern life, from the cradle to the grave and everything in between.

What strikes me most about Banyard’s poems is his affection for humanity, grounded by his wry humour. His imagination allows him to empathise with people he encounters. He has the gift of finding pleasure in the everyday, in all its seediness and tawdry beauty. He has the true poet’s gift of noticing details others miss.’ Angela Topping

Ben Banyard writes accessible poems about the real world, with its triumphs and disasters, tragedies and comedies. I like them for their humanity and warmth, for their sense of humour, and for the way Banyard often pins down just the right details to bring a piece vividly to life. This is an enjoyable collection.’ Geoff Hattersley

There is an impressive range here and, whether writing about childhood memories, being a father, cataracts, spit hoods or Birmingham, this poet displays a sureness of touch and an ability to precisely capture a vanished world or the exact tone of a voice. Ben Banyard is a poet with a sharp-eyed yet affectionate view of the world. I very much enjoyed this confident and varied collection.’ Carole Bromley

WAAL cover

Use By 

It started with tea bags left in the sink
which bobbed and swirled as the kettle filled.
They were eaten inside out with blue blooms.

Sometimes I would find the fruit bowl layered
with apples, pears, oranges, all on the turn,
sitting on top of a guilty banana’s mush.

There were loaves of bread kept unopened,
mouldy slices sweating inside the bag.
Feed it to the ducks, you said.

I wasn’t sure whether the fridge gave up in protest
or you broke it to advance your efforts.
You admired the chunks of milk.

The cat was the final straw.

You tried to explain once, as we walked
along the beach, but most of it was lost
in the roar of the wind. I heard:

control.

 

Unsung Lullabies

Donʹt forget the ones who flinch
as you wave printouts of your scan at work.

They wouldnʹt want you to feel guilty
for broadcasting what seems as simple as A to B.

You can post snaps of family holidays on Facebook;
they donʹt mind, really, but wonʹt look too closely.

Sometimes they have photos of
freshly painted spare rooms,
smiles cradling their bumps,
might tend a small grave.

We mustnʹt moan too loudly about parenthood
when they long for allergies and tantrums.

They reconcile reasons to be cheerful,
stay away from catchment areas.

A deep and blameless longing
past greed or jealousy
to a place they know but canʹt reach.

 

Cataract Clinic 

This is a production line, in a good way;
every half‐hour a patient is prepared.

This is your new lens; 
These eye drops have got an anaesthetic in them; 
just a little swab of iodine… there, all done. 

A Character in jazzy braces
broadcasts his life story in Bristolian burr:
I been a widower sixteen year now, mind; 
it were the breast cancer what took her. 

He puts on a papery blue theatre cap,
a rustling robe: welcome distractions.
Don’t I look bonny in this get‐up! 

One by one they creep out on a nurse’s arm.
We look at our watches, sip at teacups,
remember we have a Bourbon left,
go to work on 17 across.
At least that rain’s held off, touch wood. 

We’re surprised when they come back after 15 minutes.
Some look like they suspect a practical joke,
most stare around with wide open pupils.

Something catches in our throats each time
we see that part of them is reborn:
they’re so touched by this everyday miracle
they can barely concentrate on the nurse’s advice:

take one eye drop every four hours; 
don’t bend over or go down on all fours; 
total loss of vision definitely isn’t normal; 
ring the helpline if anything worries you.

 

Junk 

Cheery bell on the paint‐blistered door,
I find myself in a dark space made of ages:

chipped Charles and Diana mugs
bowl of tarnished medals
Welsh dresser crammed with
trinkets from Dawlish, Cromer, Tenby.

I want the framed sepia photographs
of a long‐forgotten family.

There are no price tags.
The owner’s propped behind the counter,
blowing into his cup‐a‐soup.

Tells me heʹs been here forty years.
Where did it all come from?
He shrugs.

This was once a going concern
now itʹs a rock pool
restocked by the cityʹs tide.

He leaves the door open
for an hour each morning,
greets these damaged memories
with hands behind his back
as they tumble into his shop.

 

Ben Banyard lives in Portishead, near Bristol, with his wife and two young children. His
work has appeared in many journals, both in print and online, including Prole, Under the Radar, The Interpreter’s House, Atrium, And Other Poems and Proletarian Poetry. His debut pamphlet, Communing, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2016. Ben was formerly the editor of the popular online journal Clear Poetry, which he closed at the end of 2017 to devote more time to his writing.
Blog: https://benbanyard.wordpress.com
Facebook page: https://facebook.com/benbanyardpoet
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bbanyard

We Are All Lucky is available to buy from the Indigo Dreams website, here. Signed copies are available directly from the author, here.

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Featured Publication – In the Curator’s Hands by Abegail Morley

Our featured publication for May is In the Curator’s Hands by Abegail Morley, published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

In this latest work, Abegail Morley takes on the voices of books, paper, documents, photographs and characters to create and curate a dystopian archive.

I’ve learnt how to undo in perfect order: this exemplary collection is poetry as inventory, played out in rich calibrations of textured and inventive language. Abegail Morley’s poems exist in an exciting tension of stasis and fluidity, as the curator’s paper, objects, artefacts, the body itself seek to unhusk their inner life and liberate their own true inky voices.’ Robert Seatter

‘These are claustrophobic poems about degradation: of matter, the body, relationships, knowledge, and the certainty of words. In the underworld of the archive, Morley aims to ‘complicate the darkness.’  Her poems work as preservation techniques to recall the names of those I’ve hoarded.’ Morley knows how to grip her readers’ attention and destabilise certainties in intriguing ways. In the Curator’s Hands is disturbing, intelligent and absorbing.’ Heidi Williamson

Curator cover image

 

The Depository

At its darkest point, nothing shifts. In this breathless
place we’re foxed-paper, dip-penned letters
scrawling Indian ink, assembled sheet by sheet
next to people camera-stilled in black and white.

We rot in tattered boxes, dusty as lazy Sundays
lost to heat, wine, the slow pull of work.
The curator swears he never catalogued us,
throws up his arms in shock. He can crease us,

snap open our spines, yet leaves us to blindly
drift in a land of locked boxes, slip-cased
in polyester pockets, sealed behind closed doors.
Tonight I wait at the front of the alphabet,

shucking knife rattling like a heartbeat. Hooked
in my other hand his joined-up writing moans,
ruffles the edges of each page as if to stem blood.

 

Boxed in

I’m the girl trapped in the box, stomach
an empty honeycomb,
gold drained,
dull lustre,
tinny when struck
by a raised fist.

My sentence noosed, half-said,
latches to lips,
a parasite with arrhythmic heart.
Dust-mouthed,
I recite a shopping list
of incidentals:
daylight
daylight
a quarter pound of cherries

(I can almost taste their sweetness, but not quite).

 

Inventory

Sometimes I just let air shift,
unscent itself of relics,
open all the drawers in the collection,

recall the names of those I’ve hoarded here,
transpose them on to carbon paper
to print, reprint. Reprint.

I risk my touch on them,
wonder why I didn’t let them leave
this autumnal storehouse, knowing their boxes

unhusk themselves each night, inky voices
clamour in an eternal darkness grazing
walls and ceilings in their bid to escape.

 

Occupied (in B&W)

I’m beginning to like strangers for their hollowness,
the way there’s no knowing what’s inside them
no matter how close you stand. You can check out
the lining of their coats for a giveaway shimmer

or search the home-sewn seams of a woman
two seats ahead on the Grimsby bus, note how
she hangs her head as if listening to something far off –
an accordion humming by the Seine,

a French Resistance radio cluttering airwaves:
Ici Londres ! Les Français parlent aux Français.
She has needle-thin lips, a cloud of knitting on her lap,
stains from last night’s supper on her jumper.

I wonder if she sent coded messages after songs –
there’s a flood at the telephone exchange,
a detour on the road to Cleethorpes, a wedding
to rearrange somewhere south of Waltham.

I get off before her, pass her knuckled-down body,
scavenge for a hint, a scent, a secret past.
The doors shudder open – I pour myself out,
hard water in sullen rain, hear the click-click

of the bus sign flicking: Laceby, Healing, Harbrough,
know my stranger will lose herself on Roman roads
and not know how to ask her way home:
Ici Londres ! Les Français parlent aux Français.

 

Abegail Morley’s recent collection is The Skin Diary (Nine Arches). Her debut, How to Pour Madness into a Teacup, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize. In the Curator’s Hands is new from IDP. She’s “One of the Five British Poets to Watch in 2017” (Huffington Post), blogs at The Poetry Shed (https://abegailmorley.wordpress.com/) and is co-editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press.

In The Curator’s Hands (Indigo Dreams Publishing) may be purchased from: http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/abegail-morley-curator/4593997535

Featured Publication – Seal Wife by Kitty Coles

Our featured publication for January is Seal Wife by Kitty Coles, published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

Seal Wife uses stories and characters taken from folktales, fairy tales and myths to explore themes of loss, longing and transformation.

‘Kitty Coles submerges herself in the world of myth, fairy tale and legend to meld together personal, natural and supernatural worlds. Teeming with dramatic imagery, these poems reflect a remarkable, and at times, macabre imagination. An exciting first collection that will, like the persona in The Doe-Girl , ‘leave tracks, like tidy hearts, behind’.’ Maggie Sawkins

‘This is a confident poetry, dextrous in its unforced appropriation of allegorical and mythic tropes…Not unlike Ian Duhig’s ‘The Lammas Hireling’, Seal Wife achieves a powerful lift-off into the strange, the occult and the preternatural. Never less than convincing, this is an impressive debut highly worthy of our attention.’ – Martin Malone

seal wife

 

Ragnarok

He will not go quietly, this old red autumn.
The sunsets burn like flares at the horizon.
The air is weighted with the stink of pyres.
Blight makes the leaves surrender, dry and fall.

The river has unseamed the banks and risen
across the fields, made moats around the trees.
Above the mountain, the clouds coagulate.
They turn themselves to blackness, choke the stars.

And we, revolving in our draughty heaven,
dwindle like wasps when winter thins their stores.
I will see you again on the other side of the water.
Our sustenance will be the morning dew.

 

The Doe-Girl

She had always been timid,
reticent, secretive,
wide-eyed, easily startled
by sudden noises,
thin-legged, fond of woodland,
prone to running.

One day, she sensed a pressure
in the skull. Antlers
emerged, puny at first,
malformed.
Her ears lengthened
and her eyes, once blue,
turned black all over,
like ink spreading through water.

Now, we glimpse her sometimes,
moving between tree-trunks,
across clearings,
wary, at a distance.
Her hooves leave tracks,
like tidy hearts, behind.
She vanishes, silent,
among leaves,
dapples of light.
We don’t think she knows us
any more.

 

The Seeds Of The Pomegranate

have a perfumed flavour, biting and luscious,
streak the wrists with fluid.
Their juice marks cloth almost indelibly.

We share a fruit. You halve it and the blade
forces apart the grisly mass of jewels.
You hack, they bleed, fight to retain their wholeness.

You feed me arils from your guilty fingers.
Their smell is winey, green, but I think
of my flesh, the cysts beading its centre.

My mother scours the city
as we lie here. I am lost to her light.
My mouth is full of your gift.

 

Seal Wife

The weather turns.
A wind from the north has flown in,
with its violent curse,
and it raises the waves
till I cannot shut out their yowling.

The old scars itch on my flank,
disquieted.
The hairs on my spine rise up
in the chill that presses
itself under the door,
an insinuating ghost.

The cat has wound herself
to an endless running
from one end of the house to the other,
poor bristling devil.

The grass is aching with frost.
Birds fall, small toys,
from the trees in their deaths.
The cold is murderous.

In the churchyard, the drowned
walk at noon as if it were night.
They return to old beds,
slip in by their frozen wives.

And I am numbing myself
with my baking, my stitching, by washing
the floors till the stone begins to thin.
I hide my face from the mirror:
its enquiry threatens.
If I could forget, the water could not claim me.

 

Previous publication credits are ‘Ragnarok’ – The Cro Magnon, The Seeds of the Pomegranate – The Interpreter’s House, and Seal Wife – Obsessed with Pipework. 

Kitty Coles lives in Surrey and works as a senior adviser for a charity supporting disabled people. Her poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies. She is one of the two winners of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016 and her first pamphlet, Seal Wife, was published in 2017. Her website is  www.kittyrcoles.com

Seal Wife (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2017) may be purchased from: http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/kitty-coles/4593990487

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.