You were to me – Olga Dermott-Bond

You were to me

…………………….a scientist, who when I was sick wrapped
……………………..me in an old cardigan and aspirin then
………………………took a swab of my throat, growing my
……………………..virus in a petri dish in the airing cupboard
………………………so I saw the reasons, like tiny jellyfish,
………………………behind my hot shivers. You were to me a
……………………..trapeze artist in sensible shoes who claimed
………………………to have no imagination, no interest in how
………………………ideas could swing glittering above my head
……………………..when I flew to catch them. You were to me
………………………a bible, a guilt-abacus, a great ball of string,
……………………..a suitcase, sinew, muscle, heart, lungs. You
………………………were to me a bone collector, your own child-
………………………hood rattling in jars in a stammering pantry,
………………………trying so hard to speak. You were to me
………………………sandwiches wrapped in greaseproof paper,
………………………all of yourself given away in hungry parts.
………………………You were to me a medicine of breadcrumbs
………………………saucepans rattling with heat of motherhood,
………………………oblivious to my 5, 6, 7 melting like snow
………………………from a ditch.

 

A former Warwick Poet Laureate, Olga’s work can be read in a range of publications including Rattle Magazine, Magma and Ink Sweat and Tears. This year she was one of the winners of the BBC Proms Poetry Competition.

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mid- August scree – Jean Atkin

mid- August scree

bootset to rock stack, sheer

…………under its wedged weight

my own

………..sends each stone

down by half a pace,

………..glance up to map

a path not there, just

…………you above, you don’t

look back……. I slip,

…………feel heart rate leap

and clutch one-handed

…………into bilberries

that aren’t yet ripe

 

Jean Atkin’s new collection ‘How Time is in Fields’ is forthcoming from IDP in spring 2019. Previous publications include ‘Not Lost Since Last Time’ (Oversteps Books).  Recent work appears in The Rialto, Magma, Lighthouse, Agenda and Ambit.  She works as a poet in education and community and is currently Troubadour of the Hills for Ledbury Poetry Festival. www.jeanatkin.com

Ghosting – Maria Taylor

Ghosting

Think of Will, the ghost of Covent Garden,
the murdered thesp who’s walking alongside you
down and down a staircase that’ll never end.

Dapper gent. Victorian. Eventually you’ll see daylight.
The actor won’t. Spare a thought for ghosts
we pass at stations: their meetings, secret flings, kisses.

People vanish into thin air every single day.
It’s said even ghosts fade in time. Where do they go?
Remember all those see-through Elizabethans,

roaming Plantagenet kings in car parks, crying boys
reaching out for our faces, those we can’t see, can’t feel.
You’re no different. Look, here’s your own reflection.

 

Maria Taylor is a poet and reviewer. Her first collection Melanchrini (Nine Arches Press) was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Award. She has a pamphlet, Instructions for Making Me From HappenStance Press. She Tweets at: @MariaTaylor_

Baggage – Luigi Coppola

Baggage

I am a neat freak
a packing machine
folding clean sheets
stack repeat
shirts are purposely
creased
along the seams
until the buttons line
with the lining
collars are perfectly
perpendicular
to the pockets
all lovingly placed
in the suitcase
just in case
I ever go anywhere

 

Luigi Coppola www.luigicoppolapoetry.blogspot.co.uk) teaches and writes in London, England. Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize twice, he appeared in the Worple Press anthology ‘The Tree Line’ and publications include AcumenInk, Sweat and TearsIotaMagmaOrbisThe Rialto and Snakeskin.

  

 

 

Japanese Knotweed – Stephen Bone

Japanese Knotweed

A single female specimen –
no males were taken – you survived
salt watered decks

to be bedded in Victorian soil
an ornamental
clusters white as Fuji’s tip

leaves the shape
of valentine hearts

to compliment the rhododendron
and ginkgo

sinister geisha

how well you hid your true nature
no one could have suspected

your merciless roots
breakneck speed of your advance

the green putsch you plot underfoot

 

Stephen Bone has been published in magazines in the U.K. and U.S. A first collection In The Cinema ( Playdead Press ) appeared in 2014, followed by a pamphlet Plainsong ( Indigo Dreams ) 2018.

Featured Publication – Humanagerie – Edited by Sarah Doyle and Allen Ashley

Our featured publication for March is Humanagerie, an anthology edited by Sarah Doyle and Allen Ashley, published by Eibonvale Press.

Inspired by notions of the animalistic, Humanagerie is a vivid exploration of the nebulous intersection of human and beast. From cities to wilderness, buildings to burrows, and coastlines to fish-tanks, these thirty-two poems and thirteen short stories explore emergence and existence, survival and self-mythology, and the liminal hinterland between humanity and animality.

HUMANAGERIE cover. October 2018

 

Animal Apology

Sorry if I fling zoos at you, and when I do,
forelegs spread, the bony tufts of giraffe heads
rip up kitchen tiles, elongations of neck vertebrae
swinging hard and fast like a blotchy orange 5-iron.

You should probably duck when lobbed elephants swirl
through the living room’s low-watt sky, Zeppelins deflating,
trunks dangling like loose grey guy-ropes, brushing the blinds.

And about the single-horned rhinos and hippos, yes, I know:
all that stomping, stampeding, at some small thing you say,
the mud-soaked noses, nostrils flaring up like fireplaces,

odd-toed ungulates charging into your hell-of-a-day,
unleashing the fury of a fenced and caged species,
the paying visitors peering and gaping, leaning in
to watch us both, not breeding here in captivity.

Paul Stephenson

 

Beetle

Solace drove me to this place,
its green hollows,
searching again for your form, love,
for it has been seven years –
billy-witch, bewitcher, solstice creeper,
bold-blinded beast.

I went to the road, its ranks of shimmering carmine,
looking for you at the edges of belief –
you, a Da Vinci sketch
testing the limits of flight
ahead of your time
or back with the dinosaur brutes,
out of this world of nets and cables and glare.

I longed for you to cross my palm,
scarab – smooth as a knee cap,
complicated as a music box
held together with tiny pinions,
the intricate pins and tucks
of your mechanics
working the unforgiving air –

I took you apart in my mind, found nothing
but a mandible like a wishbone,
one serrated, iconic antler
of bravado, lost bravado.
I keep it for my rising son,
our last mid-summer walks,
his tender voice breaking in the dusk.

Sarah Westcott

Note
The larvae of the stag beetle, which is becoming increasingly rare, lives in the soil for seven years before it emerges into a fully-grown adult

 

And Then I Was a Sheep

and really, what a treat to find myself
among these friend-shaped clouds or cloud-shaped friends
who breathe, who bleat, these lovely bits of meat
on legs, who take me as something to smell

and imitate. How nice it was to wake
and sing myself, to flounce and fling myself
down hillsides someone turned to trampolines
quite suddenly. While others keep their snouts

steadfastly to the ground I blink, I count
my gifts: this four-wheel drive and this cuisine
that grows, the way that I can sigh and mean
that nature is my playground, baby. True,

the farmer, shearing, has looked into my eyes
a little longer than I’d like, as if
he’s sussed, he’s twigged, and yes, the sheepdog nips
more keenly at my ankles than the others’,

but on the whole, I’ve found, it’s easy really
to blend right in, to not stand out. Sometimes,
I miss the feel of the settee beneath me,
a glass of something good, but all in all

I wouldn’t go back if I could. I’m less
lonely than I was when I was human,
the world’s less cold, now that my winter coat
is part of me, and what I really like

are moonlit nights: us lot, the whole, the flock,
how we all cwtch together in this field,
one living mass of white, one fluffy cloud,
the awesome power of our communal brains –

as if we’d turned the field into the sky,
like we could think it now, and it would rain.

Jonathan Edwards

Welsh                          English
cwtch                      cuddle or hug

 

Jellyfish

She wishes not to be a jellyfish:
a lightbulb always flicked on,
unstoppable brain
dribbling thoughts
in tangled strands.

Not to have this heavy head
she can only hold up
in the dark
underwater.

Not to flounder
on dry land:
ungainly blob,
tendrils trailing,
helpless.

Not to be
this plucked eye,
always weeping:

“Do not touch me.
Please, do not
touch me.”

Megan Pattie

 

Buck and Doe

Little fleecy feet – velvet lucky paws dotty-dabble
moontide grass, hippey-skip, belly fuzzy-plump
from all the nibbling. Cowslip, comfrey. Busy teeth,
gnawy-gnash on root an’ stump, tasty tubers relished down
in tiny gullet swallows, sweet with sugar juice.

My baby coney-kins, my leveret kith – tufty bullets
quatting in the grass, long and blowy, perfect for this game
of hidey-seek. Coloured mud like groundling truffles,
otter brown, gravel grey, knobby flash of banderole behind,
linty white. Digging thigh-bones muscled strong, footing

on the earth with knock-knocks – thumpy-stamp for danger.
Mealy unders richly warmed with down, woolsome-snug and kittened
in the stomach of our nest, our darkling womb, our holey safe place
tatted cosy-soft with dandie grasses. Elder-rabbits sage us
with fine words. Beware the silver necklaces of snares an’ keep
 
away from Pink Eye with his winking froth of mixie tears.
Buck an’ doe, dancing under wedding skies, kissing
clefty mouths together – mothers innards full of litter dreams,
an’ hope for all her sweetly nipples hung with babbies,
sucking rich an’ growing hoppish strong, foxing clever.

They make their music – open up the mallow flesh
inside their throats, slither music round their teeth.
Un-soundable to human ear but heard by cloud
and earth – this creature-sing, the joy in field and sky.
the taste of welter-song turf-spun rich upon our tongues.

Jane Burn

 
Humanagerie contains both poetry and short fiction, and is available to purchase in either hardback or paperback directly from Eibonvale Press:
https://www.eibonvalepress.co.uk/books/books_humanagerie.htm

A Spell for Change – Maggie Butt

A Spell for Change

Let night-sweats drench him hourly,
washing him from sodden sheets
onto the bedroom floor, baptising him
in new ways of thinking.

Let him bleed like a cut-throat, then dry
up, drier than a drought-dry riverbed,
alternately flooding and cracking, confounded
into new ways of seeing.

Let him have headaches, mood-swings, weight gain
which bloats him like a barrage balloon;
let him pee a little when he laughs, surprised
into new ways of feeling.

Let his thermostat malfunction wildly,
roasting him like a piglet on a barbeque,
red faced, ripping off jacket and socks, broiled
into new ways of being.

(This spell is most efficacious when repeated in unison, picturing the subject eg Donald Trump.)

 

Maggie Butt is a journalist and BBC TV documentary producer turned poet. Her fifth collection was Degrees of Twilight (The London Magazine 2015). She teaches Creative Writing at Middlesex University and is a Royal Literary Fund Advisory Fellow. www.maggiebutt.co.uk

His owl eyes – Sarah L Dixon

His owl eyes

His owl eyes
are wide
and marked in tree circles.

As if he records the years,
the places he has flown
through knowing irises,
darkening
or becoming lighter
with each encounter.

He flies back, daily,
always back to this tree,
where my branches stretch out,
support for his tired limbs.

As he witnesses more years
he will visit this tree less often.

Now the circles observe
his Christmas visits
and this tree feels older
than the number you would find
if you felled her.

 

Sarah L Dixon lives in Huddersfield and tours as The Quiet Compere. Her second book,
Adding wax patterns to Wednesday was released by Three Drops Press in November
2018. Sarah’s inspiration comes from adventures with eight-year-old, Frank.
http://thequietcompere.co.uk/

Afterimage – Steve Xerri

Afterimage

Molecular shuttling took hold
in the boy who would seek out
cuckoo pints in the beechwood
and shuffled him gone. In place
of him you, his supple bones
grown brittle under your skin,
his voice broken into your deeper.

As you sweep through the city’s
mesh of streets – conducting
meetings by phone in the back of cabs,
snatching lunch, dealing in futures –
he suddenly flexes in you, at the sight
of expensive lilies in great beauty
dying under florist’s cellophane.

 

Steve Xerri : former teacher, musician & designer now engaged in poetry & pottery. Was Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2017. Published in Acumen, Amaryllis, Brittle Star, Clear Poetry, Envoi, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, The Poetry Shed, Poetry Society Newsletter (Members’ Poems) and Stride Magazine.

The Army Doctor – Abeer Ameer

The Army Doctor

Another reluctant soldier.
A right leg injected
with kerosene

swollen and necrotic
as the doctor’s own heart.
Amputation of the green-black limb

to save a life
swiftly sent
for questioning.

Those who survive
forever marked as cowards
by the removal of one ear.

Other novel ways
remain unsuspected —
a young man who gasps for air

irreversible lung damage
inhaling fumes from his car
exhaust.

They’ll do anything
for release
from Saddam’s Army.

The doctor wonders
whether he will ever know
redemption

as he finds himself caught
between
captive and executioner.

 

Abeer Ameer is originally from Iraq, but was made in England like the blue Cortina. Her poems have appeared in various magazines including Acumen, Planet Magazine, The Interpreter’s House, Tears in the Fence, Envoi, and LossLit Magazine. She is currently working on a collection poems based on personal stories from Iraq.