Terri Aggro     Mansfield, Nottinghamshire

Sink Hole

 

Stagnant water draining away

Very little left

Barely enough filth for a finger tip

Flow scum flow

The sucking sound of a small spiral – laughable

I stand above you now

Watch you plunge into your own sink hole

The last pungent droplets sewer-bound

Three, two, one…

There you go

Graham S. Crosby

Sefton Park, Liverpool

Observations From The Urban River

 

otter

aqua-greased

chemical plant escapee

oozing down mudbanks, oil

slick

 

bees

afternoon boozers

staggering from beneath

poppy stamen, cellar-bar

drunkards

 

swifts

fugacious arcs

on low days

visions from high skies

descenders

 

crane’s-bill

filigree totem

moon-dew badge

infinitely various, our tribal

emblem

 

warehouse guard

solitary, confined

another tedious shift

scrutinises the monotonous river

pacer

 

graffiti artists

rainbow alliance

staging butterfly backdrops

admirals, tortoiseshells, painted ladies

colourists

 

cormorants

spectral, stygian

water phantoms

rising to high pylons, shadow

wraiths

 

metal recycling plant

gluttonous, devouring

gigantic steel talons

the dead world’s carrion

feeder

 

mugwort

fools-silver, spurned

unloved by summer

undeterred, conquers waste ground

defiant

 

barge

moored, rusting

Styx-sick, corroded

by toxic soul-leakage

abandoned

 

tufted vetch

prophet-purple, righteous-blue

atop tendril ladders

addressing mortal grasses, exhorting

the word

 

horse

tethered, grazing

isolated green banks

nutrient-deficient, hungry for contact

starving

 

stoat

erect, watchful

surveys the kingdom

enthroned on nettle hill

sovereign

 

 

deer

vagrants, outcasts

exiled hunger, feeding

on margins, verges, peripheries

untouchables

 

river

grimy, luminous

high-translucent to

low-opaque, alternating tidal

metaphor

 

john e.c.

Hull, East Yorkshire

 

 

Father

 

So let’s play judge,

Slamming hammers down on different shadows,

They can’t be happier folding paper while we clink coins,

But we can be if we improve our worth,

Let’s undress anything we envy,

Desperate to spit into tissues to clean our grubby faces,

The projection that we are the laidback and liberal ones,

Handing out beers on arrival, shaking the men’s hands, with their wives wanting their cheeks kissed,

But once the latch is secure the tide comes in,

Permitting a starter and a main, or a main and a desert,

The bus there and back,

Pressing the thumb into their education so that the rights are still there to brag,

Moaning endlessly about her mother but sitting yours next to Mary and Diana,

Taking multi-buys to work to feel you’ve beaten the system by undercutting the vending machine,

At work everyone’s either fat or divorced or drinks to numb the pain of not being you,

Going to the gym once a week to brand fitness to your forehead,

Spying on the neighbours bum cracks while they garden, assembling the whole family at the front window to bear witness to a sixty year old man without a belt,

Taking time off work to reverse the car off the drive and giving the mother two glow sticks to guide you back in,

Sticking your ear through the letter box to make sure the house alarm’s set,

Begrudging the completion of any order but recounting the generosity of favours you’ve bestowed,

Through a process lasting years building up the safety equipment for your ten minute cycle to the train,

Treating finding a seat as one of the many battles that ensured you were born,

Then sitting on the train, as hard-nosed as the next, attempting to stitch a six figure sum into the M&S suit,

No one will ever save as well as you,

The wife’s half hour labour over stoves and grills empties into five minutes of gasping for air and shaking indigestion’s hand,

‘That heating dial isn’t set at a lavish 15 degrees for any bugger to piss it away through open windows and doors’,

Knowing the precise hour the daughter came in but asking her all the same to catch out the deceit,

Of course one of the small victories for part-time Morse,

Polo shirts in summer and shirts in winter, cross trainers all year round just in case the bin needs taking out,

There is a reason for everyone’s misfortune apart from yours,

Big jobs involve painting window frames and getting suitcases from the loft,

If she’s lost something you’ll look in the same places she has, ‘because your mother doesn’t notice things like I do’,

Dreaming up phobias and remedies,

Nuts make you anxious and you haven’t been ill since you’ve had bananas,

Tapping feet to full dance floors,

Your phrases that were dreamed up and died in your hometown are tossed around the house,

We will never know we’re born, especially while you’re around,

But why would I want to?

You’ve raised me through these systems,

Taught me to hate that the world isn’t run out of our living room,

Showed me the crevices of imperfection I’ve previously overlooked,

And so I will gladly take your baton and spread your message without meaning,

Let us feel that it should have been us on the cross,

As I’m not accepting becoming one of the high street’s bobbing heads. 

 

Paddy Born

Brighton, England

 

 

A Reason To Return

The past casts long confusing shadows, the daylight follows the laughing horizon,

From the jagged Red Lantern Hills, we are returning from the sea,

There's a song that I sing on the mountainous trail,

In the quiet of the day or the still of the night,

I call it "Hush." In a land of Hush, a loud voice is King,

We are twenty returning warriors of old, we are bold, we are cold,

Between us no sign of a shoe or a cloak,

And around here no chance of a shelter that boasts of a roof.

And we search for a reason to return,

With nothing to show loved ones for our months away,

A hawk took to the skies, flew off with all our lies,

We are strangled by some unnamed fears, drowning in a pool of tears,

Annie, let the dark skies cry when again we part, but you know you'll always have my heart.

Steve Lodge

living in Singapore

 

 

 

iPhone

Sent from my iPhone, so please excuse brevity, spelling & punctuation

Sent from my iPhone whilst dieting, so please excuse an 8-point-font

Sent from my iPhone during a senior moment, so with all due respect Missy- excuse spelling & punctuation

Sent from my iPhone clad head-to-toe in hard-wearing corduroy whilst tuning pianoforte along the Cotswold Way, so pitched perfectly- excuse punctuation

Sent from my iPhone iTyped with iThumbs, so excuse brevity-spelling & punctuation

Sent from my iPhone within an eruv in NW-London: it’s not some clever legal trick trying to avoid a rule

Sent from my iPhone resident in the People's Republic of Conformity so just excuse apathetic listlessness

Sent from my iPhone whilst drinking Dr. Pepper, what's the worst that can happen?

Sent from my iPhone: I’m struggling anxiously to increase sales volume by 20% (in accordance with an inflexible corporate strategy) so excuse brevity, spelling

Sent from my iPhone scunnered by 5-decades-of-wage-slavery so excuse self pity

Sent from my iPhone having been advised to place my personal feelings aside whilst learning for a fact that I’m definitely not receiving what I thought I deserved, & now apparently I need to envision the bigger objective first- so please excuse my tears

Sent from my iPhone- currently chained to my Mrs whilst she untiringly seeks ever more inventive-onerous-opportunities to break hard rock’s together- shoot me

Sent from my iPhone whilst navigating from wife-through-girlfriend-onto-lover: have a heart cock, & excuse brevity or any STD

Sent from my iPhone whilst having my shirt lifted in the famous Cockring-night-club, so excuse double-dutch spelling

Sent from my iPhone whilst being probed by Prince Hisahito of Akishino; excuse this inscrutable Japanese text

Sent from my iPhone whilst perched painfully upon a spinning fickle-finger-of-fate, so excuse me all over the place

Sent from my iPhone inspired by Bruno Manser, so get naked, camouflage your face & start blow-piping lumberjacks

Sent from my iPhone during black mass at a local coven- so until next time: merry-meet-merry-part-&-merry-meet-again fellow pagan xx

Sent from my iPhone energetically riding a wart-hog; excuse casual animal cruelty

Sent from my iPhone whilst wanking please excuse typos, brevity & spunk

Sent from my iPhone whilst running naked across the common, closely pursued by community officers, so please excuse typos & brevity

Sent from my iPhone whilst being dishonourably discharged from an internship with our local coastal Edelweiss Pirates, so please excuse brevity, spelling & punctuation

Sent from my iPhone at home alone listening to Carmina Burana on full volume: my wife’s left me, so please excuse typos or punctuation

Sent from my iPhone reflecting upon my unforgivably bestial behaviour, increasingly concerned that my shame shall long outlive my trials & tribulations

Sent from my iPhone presently inside a coffin buried somewhere in SE-England with only 9% of phone battery remaining & perhaps another hour’s oxygen- if I do dig myself out I’ll respond fully tomorrow: but for now- thanks for keeping me au-courant with your debauches. Do please excuse typos, punctuation & brevity etc.

Evan Hay

resident in Britain

How To Be A Real Person

 

Life

makes no

sense – love it.

 

Life

hurts a

lot – dodge blows.

 

Life

picks you

up – smile, laugh.

 

Life

Knocks you

down – stand tall.

 

Life

Is good

and bad – real.

 

Life

up and

down – ride it.

Pamela Scott

Glasgow, Scotland

 

In My World

 

The sun always shines,

the rain never falls

people can soar above the clouds

and there’s no such thing as pain.

 

Everyone’s happy and loved;

we’re all beautiful,

there’s no prejudice

and you can be whatever you want.

 

There’s no hurt or pain,

you can live forever,

you can soar above the clouds

and everyone’s got exactly what they need.

 

Every person is free,

you make your own choices,

you control your destiny

and everyone’s lives out their dreams.

Pamela Scott

Glasgow, Scotland

 

 

Of Shadows, Of Light

 

Snow Girl hid in the darkness,

ashamed, shielded her broken

shell from the light

 

she longed to walk in the light,

feel the sun on her face,

let the wind blow through her hair,

look & act like everyone else

 

but darkness is her home,

the only place she can be herself,

the only place she feels safe

 

there’s no place to hide

in the light, no protection,

no way to stop the stares

or the cruel words that cut into her

 

in the shadows she can relax,

take a few deep breaths,

shed her old, broken skin

 

it’s easy to hide in the dark,

there’s nothing to shield her in the sun,

shadows protect her, keep her from harm,

light exposes all her greatest fears

Pamela Scott

Glasgow, Scotland

 

 

Shapes In A Twisted Mirror

 

Snow Girl sees the monster inside her

 

sees the twisted, deformed shape,

the freak who lives inside her, makes her hurt

 

jeering voices ring in her head, hatred

takes everything about her and deforms it,

she can’t stand the way she looks

 

their laughter follows her everywhere, haunts her

 

she smashes the mirror in her room, the door

to the darkness inside her, cuts herself with broken glass

 

she sees the creature inside her, taunting her,

turning her thoughts black, whispering,

urging her to hurt, draw blood, find release

 

she feels a great weight pinning her down, suffocating

 

she slices her flesh, hopes to find the darkness

& cut it out of her, make herself whole/normal

 

she hides in shadows, covers her ears to drown

the torment out, repeats her safe word over and over,

imagines her heart stopping, a sweet release

Pamela Scott

Glasgow, Scotland

 

God: In the beginning there was a poem about a God

In His once upon a time was His happy ever after.
Emerging from the chrysalis of His own potentiality
He stood, immaculately conceived, top filled to bright brim with youthful
vigour
Like a March calf amongst the buttercups
At the solid base of His consciousness-
And there He waited, panting with desire, while deep in His
Fiery bowels, time chugged and giggled
Bashful as a firing squad in love, and explodes....
His heart, that vast pumping plant of light and space,
EXPLODED!
Flinging reality spinning outward to its bounded infinity....
Behold!
In the first moments before knowledge of God and Devil, claws and defect,
Before the fall of original incompetence
He stands, insanely beautiful, as bright and brainless as an orgasm,
Blood erecting His crumpled form, the translucent membranes
Of his quadrifid ears stiffening into divine shapes...
They beat the air, and a terrible wind arises,
Billowing through the age of inertia,
Beating clouds of mathematics from His trouser cuffs,
And the sun shines out of His bottom.
He raises His head, His teeth chatter, His toes curl, His tail frisks-
And He speaks!
Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmm, he says,
Clearing His throat of polystyrene and bubble wrap,
Let there be such a thing as a Heap! And a Drawback!
Let there be Fragrances and Destinations! Herbs and Hubs! Inflorescences and Osculation's!
Mountains Fountains Indignations Mice Coronas Hippopotami and- and
Chlamydomonases!
LET THERE BE ME!
With a hop skip and a jump He ascended
Into the primordial haze of the purple skies
Flying for joy.
(Happiness was God's natural element
And today was the beginning of His end).
Aeronautics created He then: the Barrel Roll and the G-Turn
The Scissor the Split S and the Immelmann Manoeuvre
The Jink the Aerlion Roll and the Victory Loop,
And then God turned downwards and from the superfluity of possibility
He created the Out of Control Nosedive.
He saw the base of His consciousness beckoning His descent
And He saw that it was good.
He saw antelopes' gracile scatter over the spilling pampas
The mountains' crumpled satin spines
The wildly beautiful spread of everything
The widening darkness of His own shadow rising to fill
The horizons cup
And it was at this point that He created doubt
And second thoughts
Fear and trembling, disillusionment and despair
Also seemed like good ideas,
Irony, art, metaphysics and religion also occurred to him
Just in time to be too late
As he hit the last line of the poem.
(This one)

 

Evan Hay

resident in Britain

 

Spoon

 

in the small room

which he called his sanctuary

she keeps the box on a high shelf

a reliquary of sorts

an unopened packet of GI cigarettes

two Red Cross letters

an all skin and bone convalescent photograph

and a spoon

weighty

six inches long

plain

mass produced

deep oval head

yellowed

without shine

seemingly taking in more light than it gives

 

she says somehow

he held onto it

through the camps

the marches

eating scraps of anything given

or scratched along the way

he said he ate soup so thin

he could read his tattoo through it

 

she allows its coldness in my palms

I gently roll the terrible presence of the past

between my fingers

beginning to grasp its denseness

through the leaden spoon

 

substance relic

trauma object

heavily religious

JKG,

 

London, England

 

 

Thicker, Richer

deluge on the plain, blazes in the wood

down come the torrents and up go the flames

we have our fire as they have their flood

we yelled from the roof the loudest we could

the mailman came sailing, calling our names

deluge on the plain, blazes in the wood

fighting the inferno came to no good

you clothed and fed us, all the same

we have our fire as they have their flood

neighbour, you cared for us, like flesh and blood

and likely as not, you’d do it again

deluge on the plain, blazes in the wood

your truck made it through to where we were stood

never great friends until then, when you came

we have our fire as they have their flood

the river washed away our livelihood

but a thicker and richer soil remains

deluge on the plain, blazes in the wood

we have our fire as they have their flood

 

Zachary Rogers

Scranton, Pennsylvania  USA

Swallows

 

Early evening, late summer.

Swallows twisting tails above us

As we have our cuppa in the yard.

 

Her reminiscing. Family history, mostly.

Some of it old, some of it new,

Some of it wrong.

 

Aunty Sissy had a B&B in Blackpool,

Not Morecambe.

Grandma’s Yorkshire Terrier wasn’t Kitty,

But Candy.

And she didn’t teach dad how to play draughts:

He taught her.

 

So it goes on

And becomes a game of spot the mistake.

But I don’t contradict her.

There’s no point in that.

 

Eventually she pauses, takes a sip and notes that

They’ll soon be gone north.

 

Again, I don’t correct her

But lift my lukewarm cuppa

And take another gulp.

Janice Smithers

Pontefract, West Yorkshire

 

 

I want to be a renaissance man, but she won’t let me!

For years I’ve felt trapped in my hum drum life,
Working int’ foundry to earn brass for the wife;
So she could stay home looking after her Mother,
Her budgie, her whippet and even her brother!

 

For years I have been at her beck and call,
Fitting her kitchens, rewiring the hall;
So now after years of toeing the line,
I want to do something that I can call mine!

 

In moments of solitude while sipping a brew,
I’ve studied - improving my mind on the loo;
“What are you doing? The dog needs a walk!”
I obey commands now, we no longer talk.

 

She smiles and laughs when I try to protest,
As I stand covered in grime, stripped down to my vest;
Trying to discuss the beauty of art,
All I frequently get is: “Don’t you start!”

 

In the public library reading book after book,
Devouring poetry till my whole being shook:
But my wife isn’t interested in the learning of verse,
Her responses to me are becoming more terse.

 

I bought a violin and learned notes of the stave,
Of studying concertos I became quite a slave;
But she snorts her disgust and loudly she sneers,
And goes back to her CDs of Britney Spears.

 

On sculpture and form I could hold seminars,
I can carve stone and granite and even weld bars;
But my efforts are met with disdain and pure mockery,
As she throws my statuary onto her rockery.

 

Michelangelo’s art work puts fire in my soul,
His use of a brush has long been my goal:
But my efforts at painting have long met with hate,
Unless I am glossing the front garden gate!

 

I think I have now reached a point in my life,
When I have to appraise the cause of my strife; 
She’ll have to go! I’ve got to break free!
I want to be a renaissance man, but she won’t let me!

 

Melmoth

Whitby, North Yorkshire

Personal Soundtrack

 

big bro is

hardstep

hip-hop

psychobilly

death rock

epic doom in every room

crust punk

for sure

 

that’s right little bro

big bro is

garage

grime

post grunge

freak folk

cross-over thrash my ass forever

that crunkcore mother

 

agree there bros

big bro is

industrial emo

make that screamo

cybergrind

born unkind

black metal

drill

in for the kill

 

well that’s enough of your noise

you three

I don’t hear that at all

no

not me

only feel his trembling

the vibrations

 

and I only have

ringing in my head

unless you come and calm me

mother always said

your whisper

was the only music I ever heard

sister

Zachary Rogers

Scranton, Pennsylvania  USA

 

 

A Single Fly


 

Sometimes the presence

 

Thirst quenched from fountains on Liberty Square.

Swallows writing summer in freehand,

high above the palace. 

 

in a prison         

 

River kissing banks

below the suspension bridge.

Lovers lock and release, lock and release.


 

of a single fly

 

Warm breeze blowing flyers 

into the blackened windows of vehicles.

Lines of birches dancing in Havel Park;

leaves holding firm.



 

stirs into life

 

Through gates onto open fields, 

butterflies, wild flowers and waving grass.

 Smiling faces coming forwards,

arms raised.

 

 

a thousand illusions.

 

 

Arundhati Lahiri

Dollis Hill, London

 

 

Bouncing Back

 

Losing all my shine, now patchy and bald.

Neglected in a puddle by the bin

Then kicked on all sides by the lads again.

Getting tough to bounce back. Deflating, old.

 

Stood and sat upon. Booted through the dirt.

And always subjected to mockery:

‘Hey, look at me, I’m having a baby!’

Shout boys who stuff me up their bulging shirts.

 

Soon for the skip, no doubt; but I’ll arise!

Thrown with intent, I’ll mark their young faces

And strike them hard in their tender places.

A clouted nose will bring tears to their eyes.

 

I, ball aimed straight and true into the balls,

Will bring me sweet revenge on one and all!

L.Vikram Piggin

Hampole, South Yorkshire

I, This

 

I hardly think before I speak

The words I learned from others.

 

But hear this: I was born on a day not of my own choosing.

.

Earth gave me weight.

Light coloured my eyes;

 

And now when I close them

It is sleep which fills my hollow head;

 

Dreams come from the night,

Warm, like your lips on my cold ones.

 

Love is not my invention;

You are teaching it me. Thank you.

 

If only I could sing to you

A song of my own making;

 

But I cannot, for I am this.

 

Arundhati Lahiri

Dollis Hill, London

Love At Bay

 

I heard the secret call of the unambiguous,

Like framing the story of an untaken chance

 

I get then handed over.

 

It is the colour of hands tried and tied,

Feel of a walking-stick, always a step ahead,

And love means water for its flow goes so chary

Its flow just a metaphor that is so real as we live.

 

So, framing a story means a war is a war

 

A war in the beginning looks like a stone

Pieces and pebbles, made for some good, and curious better

Pebbles need the beach, to keep lovers at bay

Pieces are shared like partners swapped,

I got the call, my turn then over

 

It is as simple as warring sets,

You have me reminding and I have a chance,

Random is a cuss-word, secret of war

 

Something is relevant, you call it dream

 

Jayanta Bhaumik

Kolkata, India

 

 

Do You Take Your Coffee Black?

 

I catch your eye

as your Rothmans haze clear-

you smile and twist a curl

of long blond dishevelled hair

around your index finger,

an unspoken invitation

to whisper sweetly,

through dangled earrings,

into gently nibbled ears.

 

In the twilight of sobriety,

you flitter with butterfly wings,

I’m open to your seduction,

and I promise I’ll try

to satisfy your silver dancing.

 

And when the moment comes

its beauty is distorted

even more than your face

which has moved far beyond

any resemblance to death.

 

I’m still thinking on this

when you offer a cigarette

and light up yourself.

I’m blowing curls of smoke

when you break the silence:

“I’ve run out of milk-

do you take your coffee black?”

 

Keith Davison

 

Ex-Gateshead, England

 

 

 

Kerosene

 

Fire is eternal; the sun fuels our dream.

The conflagration comes; comes and is near.

Prepared, we baptise babes in kerosene.

 

Raising kindling altars; think it obscene?

In tinderbox land there’s little else here.

Fire is eternal; the sun fuels our dream.

 

Fear not the flames; holy men do not scream;

But quietly prophesise, ear to ear.

Prepared, we baptise babes in kerosene.

 

Water colours earth; paints serene greens, for

Hours or days or weeks or months or years, yet

Fire is eternal; the sun fuels our dream.

 

A phoenix, her plasmatic wings agleam,

Ignites our sleep: torched from the photosphere.

Prepared, we baptise babes in kerosene.

 

Pyriscent seeds rest; patient for extremes.

Infants of the scorched plain will reappear.

Fire is eternal; the sun fuels our dream.

Prepared, we baptise babes in kerosene.

The Baron Aargh!

Newcastle, England

 

 

Unusual Professions And Their Sine Qua Nons

 

Anarchist: endless pointless meetings

 

Bacteriologist: dirty kitchen

 

Cat groomer: scowly Persian red

 

Donkey man: beach

 

Elf: Christmas

 

Fingerprinter: ink, accused

 

Gigolo: erection

 

Hedgefund CEO: supreme greed and arrogance

 

Illusionist: politician

 

Jacob Rees-Mogg: hubris

 

Kite maker: wind or good farts

 

Looter: riots in urban areas

 

Mountaineer: knowing which way is up

 

Nobody: excessive masochism

 

Orangutan: forest

 

Pantomime horse: partner (front or back)

 

Queer: excellent grooming

 

Reveller: parties

 

Simpleton: Facebook

 

Time traveller: watch

 

Undertaker: botox

 

Vampire: decent fangs

 

Writer: delusions of bestsellers

 

Xylophonist: wood

 

Youth: touching faith

 

Zeroist: nothing

 

Cross reference as desired or required

Attempt these professions at your own peril

Perstimmons

Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

 

 

 

Spinning Hands

 

Time rides the tide onto migrant shores;

Washes sand through his tiny mouth and nose.

A decade marches a family up the Metzgerstrasse to the tick-tock rhythm

Of soldiers’ boots; her little arms outstretched at 10 to 2.

Long minutes on the paediatric ward.

Flowers at the school gates draws a gathering of hours.

Intensive moments: what to do with her photographs, his toys, their clothes?

A vacated cloakroom peg brings a century to a close.

Canals, dykes and slurry pits; a millennium clocked

By the spinning hands of drowning boys.

Mother hardly spoke again: choked on the year of your missing.

Father’s singing voice reduced to a low whistle

From the day your heart gave way - as did ours -

Between the passing of two small seconds.

john e.c

Hull, East Yorkshire

And You Who Never

 

Shrouds of rain over St. John’s Lane.

Archipelago of faith; puddles, an island church.

Candles flicking shadows across the nave,

Making gargoyles of the Boy’s Brigade.

Communicants circle as Sunday drains to its dry centre.

Clem the Organ holding out damp palms in anticipation;

The vicar heating the wafer to softness on her tongue.

Lightning on the windows of the dripping saints;

Thunder rolling across the drenched parish;

The restless wind rattling the knocker.

Weather-veined, the Clements turning their backs on the draught;

Miss Joan finding the chalice warm between her lips;

Wine, fire-red,

Trickling down the throat of Thirsty Bob.

Geoff Tracey

Otterburn, Northumbria

Micah

 

and all we hear is Micah says this and Micah says that

you and your remnant of naysayers from Moresheth-Gath of all places

that toilet on the Shephelah

more of a shit-hole than Elmsall

on and on in mixed-messages:

'fake-news loop-holes'

'zero-hours landlords'

'minimum-wage bankers'

blah blah blah

spreading your poison from Grimethorpe to Zaanam

Orgreave to Adullam

the land of sour milk and honey

eh?

and blaming it all on us

here in the big smoke

listen

haven’t all our prophecies come true?

the city’s never looked so flush

The Temple’s in spanking nick

Jerusalem’s just one big pie, enough to fatten all them that want to get on

food banks for them that won’t help themselves

so don’t speak to us of our ‘incredible capacity for wishful thinking’

and ‘nights without vision’

anyway,

who wants to hear

quote: ‘I’m no hireling prophet.

It’s not my function to comfort, encourage and uplift’?

cheer up, misery guts

liken us to Ichabod all you want but He won’t turn his back on us

why?

because we’ve never had it so good

all He wants is His people’s happiness

simple as

so take it from those in the know

Tyke

best to keep your trap well shut if you know what’s good for you

got that?

all that ‘call-centre poverty’ and ‘tax justice contracts’ nonsense

cut it, understand?

you fetid-goat-balled-God-botherer

Moresheth-Gath indeed

L.Vikram Piggin

Hampole, South Yorkshire

Murmuring

 

We watch them on their rooftop

Gentle in their secret joy

Naked smiles

Mouthing prayers

Not of our instruction

See her

Eyes closed

The one with the silken hair

A babe at her breast

And her sister

The darker one

Daring to bare her neck

As she bows her head

Often

When they bathe the young ones

They sing

Hymns we have not taught them

Quietly

In the evening

And when the sun goes down

They kneel

Hips and thighs

Framed by moonlight

Murmuring

Furtive female praise

Alien to our ears

The brothers

Listening

From the tops of houses 

 

Arundhati Lahiri

 

Dollis Hill, London                                                                                                     

2016

 

torching eir botts en orr arborr

slaughter te lot of em

even te women

dunt want no moor of eir blodd infecting orrs

 

burning tat dammdid bokk

crushing eir wheat underfott

domping te gifted weepons en te sea

weve sticks n stonns n plenty of em

 

what use for eir cloth

meats n radd wine

we go naked agen

grobbing for roots

lapping from clear polls

 

te young desporr

self harming som of em

hiding en caves

scaping oonly t droon

 

hating os

te old te wise

but em will know te island

as we knew it

 

bleeding for te gods

sacrificing eir yoth for ere

orr om

not eirs from te big island

orrs

Kye Conlan

Leeds, West Yorkshire

Laughter

 

What disturbed him the most was our laughter

Not the screaming

Profanities

Hair tearing

Raging from room to room

The usual

But our not crying from behind the door

 

First it was you

Then it was me

Then together

Bedlam style

How we laughed at the comedy

Of our temper fit

Disappointment performed to perfection

 

And when the knock came

We laughed some more

Infectious

Laughing at never having laughed this way

Oh sister we wish you could have laughed with us

When he asked

Are you alright in there

Zoe Marklew

Distington, Cumbria

Pool Closure

 

Butterfly, backstroke.

Speedos on slow blokes.

I love the smell of chlorine in the morning.

Don’t worry cocker,

here’s some change for a locker.

Can’t you two read? We don’t allow petting!

We swam outdoors at Grantchester.

Yes Sir, halcyon days, but this is Manchester.

 

We share shampoo.

She first swam at eighty-two.

Sons plunge deep and dive for daughters.

Sixty-four lengths equals one mile.

Lie me down on green tiles;

lead me beside municipal waters.

You’re Simmonds and I’ll be Wilkie

and later hot chocolate, all sweet and milky.

 

Gosh, what a laugh,

how we say ‘barths’ and they say ‘bafths’.

Byron swam the Hellespont, Caesar in the Nile;

Webb trained at Lambeth, length on length.

Olympic legacy? Give me strength.

Screw-kick, arms flail, let’s all do the free-style!

Lost your pink goggles, let me see…

He kissed me in the deep end, back in fifty-three.

 

A springboard plop;

belly laughs for belly flops.

All of the fatties are lighter than feathers.

Lady friends, short and stout,

swim in tandem and gas about

husbands and ailments and kids and weather.

Three private to one public: So?

Oh, how we weep when we remember the lido.

 

Pool, sprite-bright;

synchronised with dancing light;

sometimes warm and sometimes freezing.

Look, it’s gone and shrunk;

I’ve lost all feeling in my trunks!

Pushing us under, their rhymes and reasons.

Armbands and floats, deflated, still;

England, closing down, drowns her own for want of skill.

 

Opened in forty-seven

By Atlee, or was it Bevan?

These lanes forget more than we remember.

Mother taught me how to swim

or maybe it was Uncle Jim.

We close at nine and then in September.

No tucks, no turns; will our limbs sleep

and cease to draw circles on the face of the deep?

Billy Unwin

Salford, Manchester

Home Time

 

From her habitual high chair

She asks again

How long have I been here?

Not being sure, we shrug;

 

Though time for us is measured

In her repeated questions,

Our not varied answers

and the silences between.

 

The tempo slows further

With the stroking of hands,

The sipping of tea

And the coming and going of carers.

 

The TV flickers then flickers some more.

 

It is windy outside

And leaves brush the window

As a jazz drummer might a snare

To offset the beat.

 

But inside

All is regular.

Fine dust hangs in trapped sunlight,

Neither falling nor rising.

 

The pulse of the afternoon steadies

As the elderly take their nap;

Breathing in unison:

In, out, in, out.

 

She too succumbs to the hypnotism

And as we leave I ask

How long have we been here?

But you shrug,

Not being sure.

Beryl Ashman

Normanton, West Yorkshire

Mid-Set

 

The call of nature followed you into the men’s room;

Caught you with your zip and mouth wide open.

His great sax split you several heads:

Skee-sa-woo-eek-swork! Swee-sa-kroo-ork-eeeeee!

Blew your fuckin’ mind, you said.

Graham S.Crosby

Sefton Park, Liverpool

Other Towns

 

It’s usually on a Sunday

when we leave them at the bus terminal

or at the railway station.

Sometimes we take them to other towns;

we unload their stuff, take a stroll,

have a sausage roll, a cup of tea,

kiss them and go.

 

It’s usually on a Sunday

when we collect them from the bus terminal

or the railway station.

Sometimes we pick them up from other towns;

we kiss them, take a stroll, have a sausage roll, a cup of tea,

heave their stuff into the car

and go.

 

Sometimes we leave them.

Sometimes we collect them.

It’s usually on a Sunday.

Andrea Birch

Bridlington, East Yorkshire

Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan

 

Vodka falls as rain; drains from the hills;

Seeps along the skeleton coast into the livers of the damned.

Beached, they reach for cigarettes.

Smoke drifts from their mouths;

From the court house, over the gaol, onto the church

And back again as incense.

Blackened windows; rifles in the boot; on your knees:

The gutturals of gunfire mark their speech.

Sex is the cold, hard grip on a Kalashnikov.

The orthodoxy of a venal creed

Begets orphans; drowned wives; Job imprisoned.

From Moscow to Pribrezhny and all stops in-between,

Hell is corruption;

Framed within the carcass of a once living whale.

F. Pat Quigley

East Dulwich, London

Brenhilda

 

due north from Butt of Ness

meridian bearing

holding Polaris tween halyard and spar

Brenhilda riding

jabblies

clutters

whaleback waves

to Sula Sgeir

 

not for you North Rona

Sula’s green sister

your brother’s safe keeper

but here

where bore holing Atlantic

crashes over peak jagged black

 

earwig plagued

fasting

prayer

song

acrid guga

gelid lungs

Palled salt air

freezing mists

westerlies squeezing innards

like sea-battered timbers of Sgoth Niseach

 

navagatio

apprentice to signs

strangeness

reading phosphorescent swells

as wonderful book

understanding high cries

of returning petrels

attentive to own time

place

 

blasted scene

of thy resurrection

Guga men

finding ribcage housing shags

taking skull for kist

rounding dark gneiss prow of headland

mulling over

arcing kittiwakes

cormorants cruciform on high rocks

drying outstretched wings

Enoch McManus

Killiecrankie, Perth & Kinross

Roundel

 

Around and around, around and around –

The holding of hands, a circle of feet –

Inward we go with the world at our backs.

 

Off with the shoes and a leap from the ground –

Dropping the rhythm, one step off the beat –

Around and around, around and around –

The holding of hands, a circle of feet.

 

Oh! Singing in tongues, our voices are found –

The hole in the ring is more than complete –

Left of the centre, now turn and repeat!

Around and around, around and around –

The holding of hands, a circle of feet –

Inward we go with the world at our backs.

Jerri Spears

Garforth, West Yorkshire

Grapefruit

 

Snap time.

Dirty fingers divide jam, ham and corn beef sarneys.

Flasks shared between seven parched mouths.

And I am dessert.

 

They grab me in the tail gate.

Wedge my feet between strut and ceiling.

Hang me like a bat.

Use me as a punch bag.

Paint my face with sandstone.

 

Down my nose goes water

And out through my mouth.

Snuff forced up my nostrils burns the eyes.

 

I am sugar and they are sour.

They taste my fear on the tips of their tongues.

 

I grin and bear it.

Want to be seen to be laughing it off.

Don’t want dad

Being shown up in The Empire.

 

Then it’s over.

Released

And it’s off to work they’ll go;

But not before Tooly, the chief torturer,

Offers me a piece of  grapefruit.

 

Usually so bitter;

This delicious segment:

As sweet as it comes.

Arthur Axe

Armthorpe, South Yorkshire

 

Thin Lizzy

 

chasing their careers along the lonesome trail

these boys just got back today and mean business

if they want to play we better let ‘em

and anyway we’re not gettin’ any younger

so if you’re ready Phil

we’re ready

 

all hell breaks loose

we love to hear the bass and drums come roaring

we’re on the floor shakin’ what we got

a certain female dancin’ steamin’

Molly wants more Irish in her

do you know what she’s talkin’ about

 

blastin’ out our favourite songs

without ‘em we cannot leave

we’ll fall to pieces

caught in the spotlight

hair sweat heels swagger

coyote guitars wail in the howlin’ wind

rollin’ us over turnin’ us around keep us spinnin’ ‘til we hit the ground

 

the gang break out from the encore

ride out at sundown

disappear without a trace

we’re left on the street again still in a trance

and this a tribute band thirty-five years later

sha la la

Jean Renard

Trim, County Meath, Ireland

To Easington

 

Turning right through Patrington.

Soul-vapour lifting from white fields.

Welwick, Weeton then Skeffling; gearing down for that bend, that hill.

Sunrise transforming the distant gas terminal

Into a celestial city: our destination.

Aurous dawn, red-feathered sky;

The new sun blazing through skeletal hedgerows, flecking the bonnet golden.

Daybreak resplendent upon turbines, churches, barns.

Farm house windows flash by us some diurnal code.

Blind to fly-tipping and road-kill;

Our eyes only mirror the one-light of morning.

Atop the crest, entering the village and alchemy:

Look! To our left a songbird, vocalising our stunned silence;

Gilded on the wing, flicking sunlight from its tail; an auric rising.

Anne-Marie Silver

Ottringham, East Yorkshire

 

At His Work

 

Worn magazines, hard seats, the faded floor

The waiting silence neither warm nor cold

Your turn in the chair

His voice friendly, not friendly

How would you like it today, Sir?

As if you have a choice

Scissoring without haste but regular

Clipping, snipping, ticking along with that clock

No conversation, only concentration

Young eyes behind an old pair of glasses

Pausing, staring, squaring your head

Yellow fingers upon each temple

Not gentle, not rough: firm

Your hair falling to his feet

Waiting for his broom, the sweeping

15 minutes: no more, no less

The uniform cut

Ready now for your wedding or funeral

Pay and tip

Not too much, not too little

Never a thank you in return

A polite nod, a thin smile, no goodbyes

Already at his work as you leave the door bell ringing

Streets later, cold air around the ears

Imagining the eyes of the world upon you

Checking yourself in a shop window

Seeing his face looking back

His fingers still gripping your skull

Turning your head this way and that

Jimmy Swain

Bunny, Nottinghamshire

Steeplejacks

 

careful near that ladder lad

another step back and it’s

half a day out with the bloke in black

one slight slip and it’s flip-flop

over the top oh aye

these chimney tops are death traps

but that’s okey-dokey it’s all the

clap-trap that’ll be the death of me

have you ever fallen off mister

is the usual crap

honestly people’s heads these days

are like these bricks we’re rendering

thick and soft as cheese

all common sense got cleared out

with that goody-goody clean air act

you won’t remember black hankies and hands

from breathing and sneezing carbon and sulphur

air then tasted fuller than a young lass’s lips son

lovely and acrid like these un-tipped chokers

kept your top boiler stocked soundly it did

them old timers were more honest than daft

hard graft never did them any harm

dark satanic mills my arse

this place lit up at night like a greek palace

my sleep’s still powered by pulleys and pistons

I peer in my dreams through great arched windows

at giant flywheels and gleaming housed engines

and everywhere smoke and steam smoke and steam

no kidding you kidda

I swear on this fag’s last drag

some afternoons when I’ve had a few

and this blue view’s more grandly murky

I can see right through all them

ticky-tacky egg box houses

right into the nineteenth century

and touch it with my less-shaky hand

anyhows curly talking of pop we’ll be tip-top

for some chips and a couple of glasses

a laugh with them lasses will serve us for later

careful young un on that first wrung

you’d rather be up here this aft

than down there with the undertaker

Franky Pallett

Blackrod, Lancashire

De Lenz,   Hull, East Yorkshire

john e.c.

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