Chambers of Horror
The good the bad and the ugly
I’m imagining a statue
of a man in anguish standing
in a public square;
but I haven’t yet made up
the proper patriotic words
to chisel on its plinth
to say why it commemorates
the body as an instrument
for undergoing pain.
But have I mixed grave monuments
to famous men with glib exhibits
in a wax museum
where villainy and virtue mix?
If scoundrels have to be lampooned
in stocks or on a scaffold
it’s one small step to taxidermy:
stuff and mount the bogey men
like beetles in a box.
Or skip the stuffing and the mounting:
stick their severed heads on spikes
then hang them up in chains.
Michael Bartholomew-Biggs is poetry editor of the on line magazine London Grip and also helps to run the North London reading series Poetry in the Crypt. His most recent collection is Pictures from a Postponed Exhibition (Lapwing 2014), which features artwork by David Walsh.
One day I will wake up
and realize just what kind
of story I’m in. My words
will finally carry weight. I will
know how to deal with the villains,
real, flesh, natural, and imagined.
I will one day know
how best to be this human
being I’ve named myself
to be. I will be the hero of my
own short story.
JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available on Amazon.Read More
(Tor Vergata, Saturday 8 am)
Timetables abated till Monday morning,
exegeses and formulae on hold,
the Faculty celebrates as best it knows
its air-conditioning. Via vents, flues,
windows which someone forgot to close,
thrums a rhapsody to Nothing Doing.
The odd bird, taking a rest from north,
east or west, the pecky triangulations
between, throws in its penny-whistle’s worth,
primordial tweets that predate clown
and emperor, high-pitched whirrs, castanets,
a caw-cra-caw karaokeying Tom Waits.
Randomness makes music all its own,
complete with poppy-strewn sensurround,
pine-trees’ verdant black, the dance of pollen.
Sun as baton, now starts up an early insect –
heat’s cellist creaking it ever higher,
testing acoustics for noon’s fête champêtre.
Martin Bennett lives in Rome where he teaches and proofreads at the University while contributing occasional articles to ‘Wanted in Rome’. his poems have appeared in Agenda, Stand , Poetry Ireland Review and elsewhere. He was 2015 Winner of the John Dryden translation prize.Read More
Here is the subversive heart:
Through which rebel blood rolls in secret passages
Dark is the meat, opaque and shiny as a horse’s eye
Bones fine and curved as tusks steeple a cage for it,
Under sediment of the water of you
Here are the nobs, the joints, the blades that arch like fins,
The guts like a sack of jewels,
Coiling spine as creeping as a tendril of white ivy,
The knees, the femurs, the pelvis,
Marrow filled machinery the colour of old stones that makes you walk so-
Why not pretend we are little planets of flesh with cores of white hot soul
Like avocado stones
Galactic would the movement between us be, unencumbered by thought
As rock is impassive when it’s smashed into;
It delights in scattering pieces of itself with a feeling of
I would degenerate with you-
Shrink my frame as a wizard puddles to nothing with a bang
Legless and sticky and thin skinned
A see through stained glass body through which all is visible
Little pebble hearts quickening in our swampy chests
O’ come with me to the water now,
(I would drown with you too)
Basic tongues for tasting elements not words-
Tadpole delicate would we slip without breath
Dissolve as stars do in morning
Here are the atoms unaligned:
Without mystery, without anger
Like the calm indifference of the soul of salt.
Aimée Keeble was born in London but raised in America. Once graduating from high school, she moved back to London to pursue a career as an actress. She has been writing short stories and poems since she was a child. Her work has been recently published by the Lighthouse journal,Forward Poetry, and ink, sweat and tears. Her greatest inspiration has been her great uncle Alexander Trocchi, a beat writer who produced a handful of novels and began a prose and poetry publication called Merlin. She hopes to follow in his footsteps and have a literary publication of her own one day.Read More
I was growing tired of trees, already,
before the end. Tired of going to nature reserves, forests,
woods, with your tree index book, looking up words in
Latin: Quercuis ilex, rubra, robur,
chasing after your over-excitable stinking dogs,
that muddied and laddered my tights,
or worse, when you produced that battered bat detector.
Everything comes back to trees: breath, literature, doors: the
furniture of life. Your calloused hands
always smelt and felt like bark,
your hair too – that space between your neck and
hairline, it was like that forest in Centre Parcs
where we went together, and then I alone, ‘escaping’,
(my chest tight in the healthy air)
– fresh, smelling faintly of damp sweat from
a freezing wrapped up winter walk.
Your favourite is the Oak. Like you, I thought:
classic, strong, reliable. You, the least complicated of men/
Even trees understand you –
Like the one you climbed in Epping Forest
and shouted from that you were king of the world, while
I refused to join in.
I’ve always liked willows: reflective, flexible, lazy.
Like the one where we had that perfect Indian Summer
picnic and made love next to cows in the stream, there was a
wedding just beyond the hedge.
I retain knowledge against my will, on how to
fell or pollard a tree. I know that they go into shock,
how they heal themselves, how you studied that tree
like an archaeologist, in Grace’s garden in Essex,
twisted like hair, it wormed its way in and
out of the ground, how you found a body
hanged from a tree in Hampstead Heath.
Sally Beets is a poet and Young Adult fiction writer. She is completing a masters in Children’s Literature and Creative writing at Goldsmiths University where she has had several pieces published in student publications. She has worked as a teacher in the past and is involved in various local literacy charities and projects based in London.Read More
For Steve M
A feathered thud against the windowpane,
and there outside, a crimson bird, a cardinal,
stunned and faintly trembling on the gravel
where it fell hard. So fragile and downthrown,
so close to death. You went out with a plain
old box; nested the bird in false nocturnal
dark, set aside the box like an unclaimed parcel,
and, heavily, we turned to our work again.
But now there’s an urgent scratching, claws against cardboard;
you carry the box outside, you loosen the strings,
you open wide the flaps; nothing happens; we wait;
and then in one smooth upward leap, restored,
the bird sails out, red shaft of open wings,
and everything’s re-written by its flight.
Christine Whittemore is based in her home county Gloucestershire after years in the US. Her poems have appeared in many publications, including The American Scholar, Orbis, Outposts, and Antiphon, and won several awards. Her novel Inscription is out now.
This poem was first published in The Cannon’s Mouth, Issue 58, December 2015 (commended in Sonnet or Not competition 2015).Read More