These Questions Blow, Like Leaves from a Tree – Chris Hemingway

These Questions Blow, Like Leaves from a Tree

Do birds all sleep in forgotten motels?
What is the capital of the heart?
What’s the worst new thing that could happen?

Have the lights changed again?
Which of these seats was taken?
Is this the best you can do?

When were you last in Rome anyway?
Could it be forever?
Shall I call the Hudsons again?

If a man walks the streets nodding and muttering,
does he have imaginary acquaintances?

If we took all these pictures at night
would we think any less of ourselves?

Chris Hemingway is a poet and songwriter from Gloucestershire.  His first pamphlet “Party in the Diaryhouse” was published by Picaroon Poetry in 2018, and he has also produced three self-published collections.  www.chrishemingwaytmepoetry.com, Twitter @chemingway586

Straw Roses – Jennie Farley

Straw Roses

She was left on her Auntie’s doorstep
in a straw basket trimmed with roses,
a knitted baby bonnet on her head,
earflaps striped pin and yellow.

She knows this because her Auntie
told her. She heard them say that
she was backward. Does this mean
back-to-front, or front-to-back?

At evening time she listens
as trains whistle. Small engines
shunt among the pecking chickens
and old apple trees. In the pig shed

she kneels and says a prayer to Old Spot.
She hears her Auntie calling her.
Strawberry juice runs over her chin.
The signal-board goes up. Then down.

Jennie Farley is a published poet, workshop leader and teacher living in Cheltenham.
Her work has featured in many magazines and been performed at festivals. Her first
collection was Her Grandmother Skating (Indigo Dreams Publishing 2016) followed by
Hex (IDP 2018). She founded and runs NewBohemians@CharltonKings an arts club
providing poetry, performance, music throughout the year.
Website jenniefarleypoetry.wordpress.com

Tombstones – Nicholas McGaughey

Tombstones

Easter Sundays we’d go with flowers
to visit people I’d never talked to.
It was a ritual, like cleaning windows:
remembering the dead. At Cadle,

Gran didn’t spend long with her mother;
a cursory swish of the marble,
a spray of daffs in a jam jar.
No words. No looking back.

At Caersalem, Grampa’s parents lay
overgrown with sally rhubarb
thrusting through the sandstone
like Japanese pipe-work. Here,

we hacked a manger ‘round the slab
of their little lives, and read-out the words
carved in Welsh, with more love than all
the tidied quiet on the good side of town.

Nicholas has new work forthcoming in Scintilla 23 and The Atlanta Review. He has had work recently in Popshot/Prole/Poetry Salzburg/Acumen/Marble/Poetry Scotland and “Poems About Running” (Smith/Doorstop.

Dusk to Dawn – Fiona McPhillips

Dusk to Dawn

As the evening burns
to dusk, its glowing embers
flushed across the sky,

we fill our bellies with
sharp wine and bitter words
spill into the scorched air

between us. Lines are drawn,
guy ropes taut with blame,
designed to trip us in the

silence. Words are written on
the body, red welts under
eyes, shoulders slumped in

shades of pink and orange,
descending into darkness.
In the moon’s quiet presence,

just a canvas width away,
our son’s breath rises
and falls, the before and

after, blood red sky and
silver shards of night that
scatter in the glint of dawn.

Fiona McPhillips is a journalist and author of two books. Her work has appeared in The Honest Ulsterman, The Galway Review, Litro, Brilliant Flash Fiction and other publications. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Dublin City University. You can find her at @fionamcp

The church’s oak creaks into a silence – Simon Maddrell

The church’s oak creaks into a silence

the green carnation sea already pink
a mother’s blood carries a ship of griefs
leaking as it drifts on a stained aisle carpet
speckled with stained glass sun.

The organ plays its satanic hymn
self-appointed saints jostle in choral pews
wooden faith echoes in an empty tower
dirty water churns in an empty font.

The eulogy spills over a row of logs unseen
weeping on dark suits & rose-printed tissues
as if I care about badly drawn ties
& pinholes where poppies never die.

The orphan’s cup swilled with bitter almonds
brown-fringed lilies held on a broken swing.

Simon Maddrell a queer born Manxman, thriving with HIV. Brought up in Bolton, Lancashire he recently moved to Brighton & Hove after 20 years in London. His debut chapbook, Throat Bone, published by UnCollected Press (June 2020).

Featured Publication – Letters to Rosie by Ross Wilson

Our featured publication for September is Letters to Rosie by Ross Wilson, published by Tapsalteerie.

‘In the winning simplicity of these recent poems, Ross Wilson charts all the freshness,
exhilaration and imaginative extension of first fatherhood in tones as clear as the new
consciousness of his baby daughter. In its unabashed humanity this pamphlet marks a
bright addition to his more politically engaged work; irrevocably changed by the birth of
his child, he strikes a note here as full of hope and potential as a thrush’s song on an April
morning.’
Gerry Cambridge

Letters to Rosie is a beautiful thing, a joy of a pamphlet. It chronicles Rosie’s growth
from first scan to toddler, mirroring in words the string of images hung on the wall by her mum. With their spare, contained language and acute observation, these poems are both funny and poignant… they gleam with light and tenderness, but there is never a scrap of sentimentality. Such acute observation is surely the very essence, always, at the heart of love. Letters to Rosie is a must-read, a gift of a book.
’ Sheila Templeton

In Letters to Rosie, Ross Wilson has written a compelling celebratory record of the first
two years of his daughter’s life. Bridging time, generations and place, these intimate,
joyful and loving letters are poems full of wonder and light
.’ Gerry Loose

Birthday, 20th September

3am

In eight days I’ll be thirty nine.
Two hours ago, you were born.
Rosy face scrunched in a girn,
tea cosy hat keeping you warm.

Soothed by your Mum’s sweet tone,
your tiny fist curled my thumb;
our pulses ticked in time.
Clock hands caught the moment –

seven minutes past midnight,
seven pounds in my arms.
A birthday bundle delivered early.
Premature but perfect in every way.

For Rosie

How could you not have been here?
Smiling, giggling in your chair.
Seven months old, wee hand
thumping your table with pleasure
like a man slapping his thigh
in a comedy club, mouth-full of laughter.

Daddy plays the fool for Rosie,
a jester in the court of Her Cuteness,
jumping, hopping, pulling faces;
making the rattling caterpillar go
up high in falsetto,
down low in baritone.

Your eyes follow my movements.
Your ears pick up my shifts in tone.
A year ago the space you’re in
was empty and I, almost forty,
had no memories of you at all.
Now they go into me fast as you grow

into the space you make
in home and head.
And all I can think of is
how could you not have been here?
From nowhere to this chair into air
as I lift you, into my arms.

Joy

You’d haul yourself up
on my leather foot-stool
and sway, thumping
a chubby fist like a gavel,
erupting baby babble.

The stools slanted angle
made an ideal lectern
for a mini-preacher
pontificating in her pulpit.
Fluffy toys along the couch

were your assembly.
With no words to say
you preached word-sounds,
a-ga! a-da! da-da-da!
in a sermon on pure joy.

Ross Wilson comes from Kelty in West Fife and works full-time as an auxiliary nurse. The recipient of a Hawthornden Fellowship and a Clydebuilt Apprenticeship, his book Line Drawing was shortlisted for the 2019 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year award. Letters to Rosie is his third poetry collection.

Letters to Rosie is available to purchase from the Tapsalteerie website.

Why Not? – Tessa Foley

Why Not?

Why not be your biro?
And be held between your dryish fingers
On a Tuesday, on the train
When you do your quickest thoughts
Over clues in black and white,
Be rattled on your teeth,
Sit on your diary, on your desk and
Wait for you to use me.

Why not be your fancy shirt?
And be fluttering against your chest expensively,
When you are feeling great at dinner till
You spill black, vein wine on my stitches,
And swipe at me but leave a mark,
Be thrown in to the dark, hanging
Till you’re too fat
To take me out.

Why not be your holiday?
The space that you lie down in,
Be the time that you exhale on windows
With pretty scenes beyond,
When everything goes fast and messy,
Be the place you laugh and sleep the most,
Or the place you wish you hadn’t come,
The plane you missed to Gatwick.

Why not be your wedding ring?
Slide up and off your hand
When it’s time to soap the bowls,
Call out in a cinema when the movie light
Bounces off you and your popcorn,
Be dumped off the bridge over the creek
And dwindle to the silt
When you can’t stand the sight of me.

Why not be your sorry?
The thing that appears when you are weak
And tired and when your skin is bad,
The thing you feel deep in your lap
But can’t quite put your lips to,
I’d make you a torch of embarrassment
And strap you to a lifetime,
Of looking like a fool.

 

Tessa Foley is a writer whose work has been featured in Agenda and the Fredericksburg Literary Art Review and been recognised in several competitions such as the Verve Poetry Competition and the Bristol Poetry Prize. Her debut poetry collection ‘Chalet Between Thick Ears’ was published and launched by Live Canon in November 2018 http://www.livecanon.co.uk/publications.

To all of us – Karen Hodgson Pryce

To all of us

what if one night
my brothers and sisters, each
being miles apart, got up
took a mug, heated milk
in that same moment, thinking
of the others

what if one night, each
stood barefoot in a kitchen
a mug in our hands
a clock behind us, blinking

what if we thought of all the things
that had happened
in all the kitchens
in all the rooms
and from our mugs of milk
we drank
to all of us

 

Karen Hodgson Pryce lives in Aviemore, Scotland. Her poetry is in LighthouseNorthwords NowBlack Bough PoetryThe Poets’ RepublicButcher’s Dog and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She won 3rd Prize in the Café Writers Open Poetry Competition, 2019.

Field study in wildness eradication – Marcia Hindson

Field study in wildness eradication

Begin with a house.

Fill it with thunder, always turned loud.

In the back bedroom, trap seven octopuses to swim
two sisters’ ceiling so neither will learn to dream.

Introduce gardens of books that ladybirds
will crawl from all over the murky hallway.

Encourage mother’s shadow to construct
haunted castles from the pages.

A wolf dressed as a buck rabbit should be let in
on a Friday night to sleep on the wrecked settee.

If he decides to strangle mother whenever
she sings, do not be alarmed. She’s unnecessary.

Construct the first dad as a fairytale ogre
all the faraway cousins will fawn over.

Have him lock oldest sister in a bible
when she reaches ten, forget to feed her.

Arrange for an owl-faced man to swear
she is as dark as Sylvia Plath so she has
to fuck his older brother inside a bell jar
at the front of a ruined chemistry class.

Do not chase her when she runs away
with a vampire after he convinces
her cracked head to become a circus.

Ban her from making friends with her heart
in case it is an unfenced field grown
specifically to home runaway horses in.

Let one of their childhood friends belong
to the moon so when it takes her body back
at thirty the sisters will blossom sadness.

Do not laugh when one of them falls head over
numpty in love with her dazzling best friend.

When the pair of them begin to write beautiful stories
on each other’s toes force him to feed hers to gulls.

Teach the oldest lass that puddles
can also be oceans where she will have
to watch an antlered man drown.

Wrap the whole experiment up in cotton,
place in a drawer at the bottom of a pantry.

Pickle for decades so the vinegar can strengthen.
Unscrew the lid and watch the glorious mess coagulate.

Then the important part:

Find the next naïve ingredients.
Keep performing this, on repeat.

 

Marcia Hindson’s work has appeared in The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed With Pipework, Bare Fiction, and also regularly published in Vext Magazine. She has recently learned that her garden is not a scary place, so is currently coaxing a myriad of root vegetables to come and live there. She will, of course, end up naming them all.

Moonrakers – Richard Westcott

Moonrakers

Lunatic, Sir?
Come and see for yourself – here is the moon
in all her silver glory.  Full to the brim
and shimmering, as real as you and me.

Afflicted, Sir?
How can that be, for there she rests
all ready now for harvesting.
I simply need to rake her in.

Be gentle, Sir
as there are times you must stand back
to let her find herself.  And then
surprised, the prize is yours.

Moonraking, Sir
that’s what we do.  No fatuity
though I admit, she must be filled
and you be careful with your tines.

And so farewell
there’s work for all of us to do
you must search for brandy smugglers
while we sane people rake up the moon.

 

Wiltshire yokels, raking a pond for kegs of smuggled brandy, feigned lunacy when surprised by the excise men, saying that they were trying to rake out the moon, which was reflected in the water.

The Lunacy Act of 1842 defined a lunatic as someone ‘afflicted with a period of fatuity in the period following a full moon’.

Richard Westcott, for many happy years a GP in north Devon, now has no excuse not to get down to writing. He blogs at richardwestcottspoetry.com and he’s been pleasantly surprised to win a few prizes here and there. His pamphlet is published by Indigo Dreams – https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/richard-westcott/4594230918