Colin Pink

 

 

 

Relics’ Requiem

Behind glass, resting now, as after a long
journey, putting their feet up, the relics
are checked in to the cathedral treasury
like so many tourists in a mid-range hotel.

Formerly they were carted from place to place
like family heirlooms, by monks and priests,
stolen like silver or gold credit cards to heaven
by pilgrims, invaders and rival orders. What

is that absurd need to eff the ineffable that
drives us mad? Here it is: masquerading
as fragments of bone; vials of dried blood;
foreskins. How dreary they look shucked

from their shells: dirt under ancient finger
nails; the itchy aroma of dust; the shrivelled
skin of hope, dry and wrinkled as a face
whose beauty has been capsized by time.

The relics keep their secrets, snigger at our
confidence in the capacity of the intangible,
Laugh Out Loud at our longing for the
numinous to blunt the blade of the real.

 

 

 

Colin Pink writes poetry and lectures on the history of art. His poems have appeared previously in Ink Sweat & Tears and in other literary magazines such as Poetry News; The Shop; Poetry Salzburg Review; South Bank Poetry. Acrobats of Sound, a collection of his poetry, was published by Poetry Salzburg in 2016.

 

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Caleb Femi

 

 

Rose of Jericho

I am waiting for water;
do not blame my Father though he made me
a curling spine of dried roots.

In a home not built for foliage
he did his fatherly duty to pass on
only what is necessary to survive.

The night I thought I became a man
he handed me a drink of warning:
a closed hand holds no water.

Since then I have broken my skin
into soil good for worms,
good for willow trees.

Hardened my bones into a holding container
to become the bucket my grandmother
would put outside to collect rain.

I am a desert fist waiting for water;
do not blame my father.
He was not the stretch of coast

that held the first break of water,
my mother spilling into labour
as the nurses shout germinate, germinate!

 

 

 

Caleb Femi was the Young People’s Laureate for London (2016-2018) and is an English Literature teacher. Caleb is featured in the Dazed 100 list of the next generation shaping youth culture. He has been commissioned by the Tate Modern, The Royal Society for Literature, St Paul’s Cathedral, the BBC and the Guardian.  http://www.calebfemi.com/

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UEA FLY Festival 2018 Competition Winners 11-14 yr olds – Amelia Jones and Wilfrid Watson

More superb winning entries from UEA’s Festival of Literature for Young People, this time for the 11-14 year old age group.

 

Overall Winner 11- 14 and Winner: Prose 11-14

 

Bluebells

Mother says there used to be a type of flower called bluebells; I still haven’t decided whether to believe her or not.

You see, Mother spins lots of make believe stories in that web of hers – fairies dancing on waving streams, the daunting breath of her old pet dragon and most outrageous of all, the time she danced on the moon.

As a child, I believed the stories she’d whisper me to sleep with. As a child, I was able to picture the small fey and ferocious beasts she created. But a bluebell? That seems too good to be true.

Mother says, “It’s true alright, Cassi. Just long gone, and longer forgotten.” Mother says the last time she plucked one was the summer of 2018, which was a long time ago indeed.

As I normally do, I’ve searched high and low on the shelves at my local libraries, endlessly scanning pointless indexes for signs of a flower that supposedly existed. Nothing. I’ve even asked classmates at school. For the few seconds a day they pull their eyes from the glaring screens of their phones, I ask my questions – “Have you seen a bluebell?” or “Did your mother tell you about bluebells too?”  To both enquiries, I can only receive a pair of folded eyebrows, knitted into the shape of confusion, and sometimes the occasional shrug as people turn back to their overpowering screens, ignoring my claims of the elapsed blossoms.

Mother has tried to describe them to me too, hoping that I would be able to picture the plant that is now only fictional. “Sometimes not even blue, but a mixture of cobalt and violet. They had hanging buds in the shape of an old church bell, the ends curled up harmoniously.” The purple heads were – apparently – attached to a long, jade stalk, mounted in the earth. Mother says they smelt sweet and she would often desire to pick some on her walk home from school, as a batch grew among the morning dew on the path she took.

“Too valuable!” Her father would scold her for removing the blossoms from their natural home.

How is something so valuable – something so sweet, delicate and beautiful – so easily forgotten? The flower, once adored by the people of Britain, is now something even my history teacher has overlooked.

Even though I don’t know if a bluebell is just another of Mother’s stories, I yearn to see one – more than I wish to see the fire-breathing dragon. The reason for this? I know that I’ll never see a world of unimaginable fables, but bluebells could be real. Maybe they were real. Maybe, some are out there now, lost among scraps of debris, a blue curl of petals. Maybe, hidden in the depths of a forest, is a single flower, standing tall, waiting to be remembered.

Mother says there used to be flowers called bluebells; but they are forgotten.

Mother says there used to be flowers called bluebells; but I don’t think it’s true.

 

 

Amelia Jones

 
 

********

Winner Poetry 11- 14

 

The Lost Adder

Who saw the adder’s
shimmering scales?
Not I, said the father,
I was looking through my texts.

Who saw the adder’s
camouflaging pattern?
Not I, said the mother,
I was surfing across the web.

Who saw the adder’s
red forked tongue?
Not I, said the school boy,
I was playing GTA.

Who saw the adder’s
long and slender body?
Not I, said the school girl,
I was checking Facebook and Twitter.

Who saw the adder’s
gold and glittering eye?
I, said the little child,
Though I do not know its name.

 

 

Wilfrid Watson

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Megan O’Reilly’s ’15th of April’ is the IS&T Pick of the Month for June 2018.

It is perhaps appropriate, in the middle of our two-day feature on the young writers coming out of the UEA FLY Festival, that the winning poem for the IS&T Pick of the Month for June should come from a young writer in the next stage of her process and be her first published work. The word ‘beautiful’ kept coming up again and again with respect to Megan O’Reilly’s exquisitely moving ’15th of April’. We should all have someone like this to remember us.

Megan is a 22 year old Creative Writing and English literature student living in Bath. She is currently working on her first pamphlet of poetry inspired by the loss of her best friend. You can find her café loitering and petting every dog she meets, that is if you don’t confuse her with her identical twin sister.

 

15th of April
 
Saturday morning,
I watch condensation drip down the window
and steam rise from the brim of a blue coffee cup.

Today marks a year since your death
and I still sit at this same window,
sip from a cup you gave me two Christmases ago.

I reach out to wipe the glass,
and the garden comes into focus,
just as a figure steps out onto the lawn,

a shape made of delicate bones:
a deer, alone and trembling,
as she picks her way through the long grass.

Deer don’t come down this far from the forest.
Perhaps she came for the mushrooms;
the morels and the fresh shoots of grass.

I move closer to the window, she stops,
body juddering like an old movie reel.
Then she looks right at me.

I am close enough to see her dark brown eyes.
She tilts her head to the side, as if to speak.
But there are no words.

She disappears and leaves the garden bare.
But for an instant, your brown eyes looked back at me.

 

********

 

Voters’comments included:

 

It’s beautifully paced as well as poignant and resonant. That last image really lingers with me, too! 

Beautifully written, emotive and heartbreaking

This poem made me cry . Very moving.

Beautiful ❤

Megan’s poem was so beautiful, it moved me beyond words.

Such a beautiful metaphor

This is such a tender, understated poem, which captures grief with sensitivity and without a hint of mawkishness.

Bravery

This poem has inspired me in the ways in which I view poetry, it is so personal and heart-achingly beautiful! I love that the poet has used her own experiences to create such a meaningful peice. The delicate and touching way she writes about love and loss inspires me to love each day to the full with the people I love most.

Heartfelt, poised, not overstated.

This poem is powerful and has strong imagery.

This piece of poetry I can really relate to, you can feel the emotion in this and I think Megan has done an amazing job in writing this piece!

This is a beautiful and moving poem that caused me to reflect on loved ones I have lost. It delicately depicts the profound presence loved ones have in our lives even after they have passed. This is an emotionally raw and thought provoking poem.

The poem exquisitely and powerfully expresses the natural, everyday moments that make and break us as we experience loss.

This made me cry; it touched me so profoundly and I was there with her. A beautiful piece!

The poem touched me the most and I’m able to relate to it

The vivid imagery and innocence of the the deer juxtaposing with the lost friend is very poignant.

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UEA FLY Festival 2018 Competition Winners 15-18 yr olds – Megan Leung and Lauren Murray

Ink Sweat & Tears once again has been a proud supporter of the Poetry Day at UEA’s Festival Of Literature for Young People (FLY) and we are also very pleased to be able to bring you the winners of 2018’s writing competition (sponsored by Gnaw Chocolate!)

This year it was all about LOST WORDS:

Words for nature are disappearing! Many British children no longer know words such as dandelion, conker and bramble.

The competition was inspired by artist Jackie Morris and writer Robert Macfarlane’s wonderful book called The Lost Words: A Spell Book. Entrants were asked to create their own magical writing with 500 words of fiction, or non-fiction, or a poem of at least 20 lines which celebrated one of the lost words suggested. The standard was very high with judges noting: ‘ It was lovely to see such great responses to the natural world and for what language can do to illuminate our experience of it.’

The overall winner and winners in each of the prose and poetry categories for the 15-18 yr old group are given below. Entries from the 11-14 year-olds will be published tomorrow.

 

 

Overall Competition Winner and Winner: Prose 15-18

 

Dandelions

Winona once told me that people are like dandelions.

It had been summer then, and with it had come the balmy heat that coated our faces as we lay flat on the lawn, our stomachs bared to the empyrean blue, fingers and toes scrunched amongst blades of grass, the warmth turning our palms sticky as they traced faint trails through the swathes of green that populated the garden. I glanced at the nearest dandelion to my right; Winona’s lawn would always be stippled with the flowers, blotches of yellow decorating the thriving verdancy, a blaze of fervid colour to match the heat of the season. No sooner had her father rid the grass of them, they would return, their yellow petals forming a sort of homage to the sun that smiled down upon them. Winona would say that she preferred it that way, the flowers weren’t harming anyone, and besides, it was better than having absolutely no flowers at all. I nodded my head in agreement.

“We’re very similar really, humans and dandelions,” Winona would reason as she placed a couple in her hair, the flaxen petals and tendrils melding amongst her own auburn curls. “When dandelions get old, their hair loses all its colour, and they start to go grey and wispy and tufts of their hair fall out. I saw the exact same thing happening to my granny, you know.”

At this, I remarked that I would rather not get grey hairs as easily as the daffodils, who seemed to go barely months without starting to disintegrate into whitish fluff. Winona laughed at me, proclaiming that “Kids rarely ever got grey hairs” and that I had nothing to be afraid about.

The following summer, the dandelions bloomed in Winona’s garden, just a few doors down from my own. But I didn’t ask to go and turn cartwheels over her lawn or put flowers in her hair, for I knew that though the doorbell would ring, its tinny and shrill voice echoing between the walls, no one would emerge from behind the hazy gloom. Winona’s parents had divorced abruptly a few months previously, and Winona had been forced to move south with her mother.

She never replied to our messages.

The dandelions in my garden now are a powder white, the seeds formed of miniscule fibres intertwined within perfectly spherical globes. It is autumn now, the soft susurration of the trees signalling the coming movement of the breeze. With the wind, the seeds waver, like some undulating wave of miniature ostrich feathers, before being swept up, spiralling towards the ether like a small brume of diaphanous thread. And I realised that Winona and I had grown older, like the dandelions in our gardens, before being helplessly pulled by the wind into the seemingly never-ending spiral of life.

Like the dandelion clocks, we too had been dispersed with time to our different places in the world, perhaps never to meet again.

 

 

 

Megan Leung

********

Winner: Poetry 15 – 18

 

Starlings

My grandfather told me that starlings
Came from the days when the sky was alive.

He told me
Darling
The starling
Is a wandering star
It has fallen from heaven;
It has travelled so far.

And his hands began to fly,
Casting dappled shadows on the wall,
Falling
Falling
Falling
Just skimming my covers, and then
Soaring up, up
Towards my half-open window
Where the night breathed and sighed
And dead birds choked on clouds
And starlings
Were no more.

 

 

 

Lauren Murray

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Louisa Adjoa Parker

 

 

 

Those wild, pre-Brexit days
after Josephine Corcoran

Do you remember those wild, pre-Brexit days
when immigrants filled our seas with their bodies,
floated death onto our beaches
forced us to see images of dead immigrant children
while we were eating our cereal and drinking our tea?

And a man couldn’t take a shit in his own toilet
without finding an immigrant squatting over the bowl
and when he went to work the immigrants had run off with his job
and when immigrants crawled out of gutters
and when immigrants crawled out of the seas

Do you remember those wild, pre-Brexit days
when the immigrants killed our language
how when a man walked down his own street,
it was like living in Syria, or Poland or some godforsaken place,
and a man had to listen to them chattering like monkeys

and when he went to the corner shop
the immigrants had bought all the white sliced
and immigrants owned the shop, too!
And when he went to the job centre they’d run off with his benefits.
And when immigrants crawled out of gutters
and when immigrants crawled out of the seas

Do you remember those wild, pre-Brexit days
when immigrants stole all our women
and when a man tried to make love to his own wife
an immigrant had climbed into his bed,
slid between his cotton sheets
and was running his immigrant hands
all over her English rose skin
and a man had to watch while the immigrant took her –
while he whispered sweet nothings in foreign!
And when a man went downstairs to make tea
an immigrant poured himself out of the kettle.

And immigrants crawled out of the gutters.
And immigrants crawled out of the seas.

 

 

 

Louisa Adjoa Parker is a writer of English/Ghanaian heritage. Her poetry collection, Salt-sweat and Tears, and pamphlet, Blinking in the Light, are published by Cinnamon Press. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Bare Fiction; Envoi; and Wasafiri. www.louisaadjoaparker.com

 

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