A.J. Akoto

 

 

 

Ten Kinds of Haunting

1.     Hand over hand clambering the hours
2.     Voices in full rustle, scraping the shadow
3.     The dying hour between one day and the next peopled by the dead, a nightly microcosm of Halloween
4.     Roll call. 1: ‘Present.’ 2: ‘Present.’ 3: ‘Present.’ 4: ‘Present.’ 5:     5. 5? What, no more than a few ghosts tonight?
5.     ‘Who the hell are you?’
‘I’m not here to dictate terms. Whoever you think I am. No more, no less.’
‘What sort of shit is that? As if it’s up to me.’
‘Well I’m not here off my own bat.’
‘So if I want you to go away?’
‘That’s up to you. But trust me, I wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t dreamt me up. I’d have picked nicer scenery, a better brain.’
‘Fuck off.’
‘Okay.’
6.     ‘What the hell? I thought you’d gone.’
‘Nope. Now, where were we?’
7.     In your head you’re running. If your muscles weren’t suspended you’d run into a wall, at best. At worst, out –
8.     Clinking in the wall, winding down like a clock
9.     Ticktickticktick tick  tick   tick      tick         tick            tick               tick
10.

 

 

 

A.J. Akoto is an English graduate and current fine art student living in London. Her poem ‘Bite’ was recently published in the Arachne Press anthology Shortest Day, Longest Night.

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Patrick Wright

 

 

 

Echoes

in nuclear medicine, corridors like infinity mirrors.
Everything screams off silver surfaces, lift doors, gurneys,
forks in the refectory. I’m there early.
Before visiting hours, smokers in slippers mingle
by ambulances. I follow echoes, lurch past nurses.
In triage, invalids clasp eye patches, vomit in papier-mâché.

Echoes of doors slamming, a clatter of crutches;
the chaplain’s picture in the prayer room (he gave
her funeral), an omen of the same shit recurring
(sunlight on her face, I tried to make it permanent;
tears on her arm, watching them flow like rivers;
pushing the emergency alarm, no one running).

I sit awake, refuse faith since the ground gave way,
a trapdoor to a place beyond all hope, metaphysics.
Consultants, not consultants, assassins; the chaplain,
not a chaplain, the Reaper; things, things, full of layers …
Upstairs, a scan rules out a cyst, anything benign.
My mind’s haywire, a glitter-ball. Each facet, valid;

they splinter, curse, a kaleidoscope of happenings.
Two time zones, concertinaed, a kind of shell shock
(mother in her wheelchair, billiousness, daffodils).
Synapses fire. Amygdala out of sync thinks
I’m war torn, a sniper’s crosshairs on my temple;
or better, Russian roulette in my head. The cylinder rolls …

I fear electrodes, matchsticks under my lids.
I vent my rage on inanimate things,
lash out, brake my hand on a bin, livid at the stars, providence.
It doesn’t exist, though even now a vestige of belief.
Upstairs a syringe finds the surest vein. She sleeps, hangs on.
A monitor bleeps. My love,

I swallow a valium; and the heartbeat slows, my breathing slows,
sweat dissolves, the dizziness, shaking slows. No more echoes
(the chair’s just a chair to sit upon, the nurses
are just healers, the chaplain, just a chaplain,
and daffodils, in the communal garden, just flowers
which bow and waver).

 

 

 

Patrick Wright has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. Poems from his chapbook, Nullaby, have been published in several magazines, most recently Agenda, The Reader, and London Grip. He teaches Creative Writing at The Open University.

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Gareth Culshaw

 

 

 

His Boots

I was in his boots again
carrying the weight
and wait

I could smell his finger tips
on the boot laces
the dirt and grime

that he shovelled out
of the earth’s skull
with his shoulders

and hands. Such iron tendons
that held my teenage years
nurtured them to grow

brought them up
from the ground below.

 

 

 

Gareth Culshaw is published in the UK and USA. He has his first collection by futurecycle press in 2018

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Julian F. Woodford

 

 

 

A galaxy of poets

I’d always wondered what we were
when we got together, normally
alone, happily fighting the night,
unobserved except for lovers and the moon,
on a mountainside or shit job,
a lock in, holding cell or college bar,
too incapable, too much in love
with a boy or girl we’ve never met,
or a lamp-post on Platform 9,
all the same, but different as dogs,
together, a collective uncollected,
raising glasses to the heavens,
solar systems, drunk constellations,
Pleiades light, too faint for words,
clouded over, or giant supernovas
exploding from some black hole;
no, a galaxy, a galaxy of poets,
so many stars, so few household names.

 

 

 

Julian F. Woodford, who lives in Hull, has brought out two poetry pamphlets, Made In Germany and the First 3 Months of ’83 and received an Ontario Arts Council award for his work. He is a producer/writer at Dead Bod Films.

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Chin Li

 

 

 

The Die is Cast 


I held on to my mum’s hand as we stumbled down the stairs, following two rolling dice which were tracing a silvery arc in the air.

My father was screaming his last gasp behind us, with a knife buried deep in his chest. My mum’s hand was limp, and I had to grip her tight, even though mine was small and I was trembling the whole time.

We must have already gone down several flights of steps, but I could still hear my father bellowing curses and obscenities, like he always did when he was thrashing my mum. The stairwell was never-ending, and our descent felt like an eternity. I was overwhelmed by the fear of my father chasing us, despite his imminent death.

And then the dice vanished, and my eyes glazed over. I felt the stairs disappearing from under our feet. Where have the dice gone? I panicked, knowing we were doomed. I thought patricide was the only way to save my mother, but now we were plunging down to our own demise.

 

 

Chin Li grew up in Hong Kong but has lived in the UK for many years, and has published short fictional works in Gutter (Issue 16), Glasgow Review of Books and Gnommero.

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John Grey

 

 

The House’s Role

The house stays put.
It has its reasons
referred to as people
for my purposes.
Separated from the outside
though not thought
particularly isolated –
the house considers
what the world has to offer
other than itself
but respectfully declines.
Its windows are more
than willing to open.
They appreciate the sun,
even the mossy smell of rain.
Even bodies partake
of that oozing glow
and minds have
a mellow dark liking
for that gray smear
of inclement weather.
Bright or chilling,
winter or summer,
the house can take it.
Therefore, inside holds together
no matter what.
At night, the house
willingly gives itself
up to darkness
knowing, as it does,
the number of lights
it has on offer.
Electricity knows the ropes.
Even shadows are
incorporated into the whole.
People leave the house
on occasion but return to it
in equal numbers.
It could by anywhere
else but it’s always where it is.
That kind of loyalty
doesn’t go unnoticed.

 

 

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Cape Rock and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Poem and Spoon River Poetry Review.

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