I can’t imagine how it must have been:
my sudden, sticky fists, my turbulence,
my fretful sleep. The constant interruptions,
the mess, the uncontrollable outpour of love
like a reflex, a weeping wound. And then
the years, hurling themselves out of the
horizon towards her: I was 8, then 10,
then 14, safe and self possessed, the world
like scenery in a video game, pulling itself together
in front of me as I moved through it.
When I wasn’t there, it didn’t exist.
Life was simple and singular
and all mine. Until that one slow Thursday
we left school early, the broken boiler
stuttering its complaint. About to
announce myself in the hallway, I heard it:
the lift and catch of the piano
unravelling under my mother’s hands.
I opened the door and saw her, small
in her cardigan, eyes closed, somewhere else.
There are some rooms you could enter
but don’t: I stood quiet and uncertain,
shivering like a just-plucked violin string;
washed up in the hallway, wondering at her life.
Bryony Littlefair works and lives in London. Her work has been previously published in The Cadaverine and longlisted for The Ver Prize 2016. She blogs at learningtointerrupt.wordpress.com and tweets @B_Littlefair.Read More
Adoration in the Catalina Foothills
Below this crest of stillness
in a mid-winter evening
of hard frost
and grim-wrought gray,
I’m an indecent animal,
dying sadly in the briefest moments
on a road meant for misfits and outlaws.
Barely a vapor exists—
only deep, drab gullies
slithering across botanical sand rifts
of frothy pearls everlasting
and staghorn cones.
This is a declaration of love
without hope of response—
the canopy of a queen
fortified for an indigent eternity
by a mouth of barren implements
and iridescent crows.
Pre-native ruins intersect
with ultramarine and infra-grisaille
where the flowers of Arizona
burst from nothingness—
a failure of semen
and anatomical restraint.
Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.
The pairs of passing seagulls
echoed each other.
Egrets (in twos) watched
their shadows from the shore.
Last night my lover brought me
oysters on ice
cold and sharp with salt and chilli.
They sat in my stomach
wet and heavier than water.
I threw my hook to the lake.
I cast it again. Again and again
Lydia Allison’s poetry stems from a love of weddings and wonky romance. She’s appeared online and in print, including two Pankhearst Slim Volumes (This body I Live In, No Love Lost). Follow on twitter @lydiarallison and find more here: lydiaallison.wordpress.com
Death touched your feet
with its wing.
how you cut the cord, carried
their boulder warmth
from the lip of the leaf
to the gut of the bowl.
Every time the wind
disturbed a shock of trees
the dry light
eclipsed your vision.
You would drop them,
drag them. Could I ever
understand the pain
of broken feet?
Where you knelt
under the night’s drunken expanse
bleeding the lines
you walked, you wept –
was the thing that killed us,
as it killed you then. Seeing the same
sun bloat gold
over black boulder seeds,
knocking like enormous breasts –
To greet the toll
that carried the dawn
lifting your song-lines
back to the barren harvest.
Helen Calcutt‘s first pamphlet publication Sudden rainfall ( Perdika Press) was shortlisted for the PBS Pamphlet Choice Award, and recently listed one of Waterstones’ best-selling pamphlet collections. She performs internationally, notably for institutions as diverse as Poetry International, N.A.W.E., and Andrew Motion’s Poetry By Heart. She is currently poet-in-residence of Loughborough University, where she is also a visiting lecturer in Creative and Professional Writing. She is working on Unable Mother, which directly explores her experience of first-time motherhood. She is also a qualified dance artist and choreographer.Read More
The Bloody Key
He calls it love. She thinks he must
know what love is. She is green and thin
and has never encountered love.
He brings her flowers which turn
the air yellow with pollen.
Her mirror is masked with gold.
He appears in her doorway.
He sends her letters. Their words
drench her head and shoulders.
She has never known such a rain of words before.
His tongue grows needles, sewing words
to her skin like ribbons.
She bows her head, slowed down
by the weight, a spectacle.
These aren’t the words he used
in his riverine letters.
He wakes her at night
to cover her in these words
and her mirror is masked by
ribbons which rustle and whisper.
Her limbs have turned to blossom.
They are covered in petals
of purple and grey,
each as small as a fingertip.
Her mouth is a flower, blooming
red and white and silent.
He has turned her mirror away.
It looks at the wall.
It has nothing to say.
He hands her a bloody key.
Kitty Coles lives in Surrey and has been writing since she was a child. Her poems have appeared in magazines including Mslexia, Iota, Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House and Obsessed With Pipework. www.kittyrcoles.comRead More
Ever since I remodelled my sister’s hair
they’ve hidden scissors, pen knives,
sometimes needles in a locked room.
The key’s hidden under a stone somewhere
in the nettled-yard. I recognise its glint,
slip it in my shirt pocket, squeeze it
in my schoolboy’s hand, release cutlery,
tweezers, a small toffee hammer.
I make loud thumps on tiles, run fingers
down walls until paper curls under nails,
holler up the hallway, kiss the cat’s paws,
taste dead bird. I snort like a pig,
take radiator-draped knickers,
wave them flag-like, break my heart
so parts of it can’t be found. I roll marbles
in the dark, hear occasional clinks,
crawl upstairs, pins between lips,
wait for the moon to throw up her arms
then tack them down like a cold-slabbed
corpse that insists it’s murder. I snatch
a twist of her hair from under my pillow,
coil it around my fingers, stretch it
to full-length until each strand tears.
I crack knuckles like nuts, fasten thread from
the window to the bed so when wind blows,
my cold-pressed hands summon a prayer
from my core to complicate the darkness.
Abegail Morley’s debut, How to Pour Madness into a Teacup was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection. Her fourth, The Skin Diary is published by Nine Arches, She blogs at The Poetry Shed.