Jill Abram

 

At Liberty

When the world’s not watching I eat barbecue chicken without cutlery,
let sauce spread across my cheeks and lick my fingers. I lift my skirt
to hitch up my tights with a wiggle, believe this time they won’t slide.
I ask out Simon Carr when really I just want to kiss him on the lips.

When the world is in a meeting I go to the park, climb up the slide
and down the steps. I drive a lorry under a low bridge to get it stuck
and let down the tyres to test a theory. When the world goes on holiday
I drive to the city centre, ignore red lights and park where I like.

I sing when the world’s not listening, try out harmonies. I finish
the whisky after the world goes home, leave the clearing up
and go to bed. When the world gives up I offer one more clue
then reveal the answer. When it asks Why me? I tell it to stop

feeling sorry for itself. When there’s no way the world will know
it’s me, I pull the cord, paint on walls, rob a bank. When the world
falls asleep, I wolf whistle the moon, flash the astronauts,
corral the stars to string into a diamond skipping rope, play.

 

 

 

 

Jill Abram is Director of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, a collective encouraging craft, community and development. She grew up in Manchester, travelled the world and now lives in London. Jill created and curates the Stablemates reading series.
jillabram.co.uk @MalikasKitchen

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Deborah Sibbald

 

 

 

Portrait of the late Mrs Partridge

I inhabit the rough drawings of numberless wild places
which camouflage my handsome
brindle rougey linen plumage
and faintly jewelled russet feather boa
My chestnut hair  is blown upwards
like whirring flames taking flight from brittle ferns
pale grasses and unmothered leaves
as though magnetised towards  the sun
I avoid high flashy places  and menace from the sky
so sleep motionless in round  hollows
scraped smoothly in saturated earth
Away from scent hounds and mathematical problems
my spirit soars reckless unskinned  from flesh
Dreaming of soft blue naked forest  rivers and silver mountains
whose composition asserts itself under an oily brush
I sang for a mate at nightfall
 

 

Deborah Sibbald lives, works and writes in London and has recently begun to submit some of her work.

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Sue Hubbard

 

 

 

1955, perhaps?

Late winter afternoon. A London Park.
The distant trees ghostly on the far
bank of the bleak lake.
Four and seven, say, in camel coats
with beaver collars, feeding the ducks.
I am holding a bag of bread
standing beside my sister
as we stare ahead in the line of duty
with nothing between us except
a strip of grey water
and a single moorhen sailing blithely by.
Above rain clouds gather
as the last few birds dart for shelter
before the sky splits open.

 

 

 

Sue Hubbard is an award-winning poet, novelist and art critic. She has published 3 collections of poetry, two novels and a book of short stories. As the Poetry Society’s Public Art Poet she was responsible for London’s largest public art poem at Waterloo.  A novel will  be published by Duckworth in January.

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Tim Love

 

 

 

Party

He slips into the house, puts his pack of beer on the kitchen table, takes a can and
walks from room to room, staying a while in the back room.  The IKEA
furniture’s pushed against the walls exposing a floor of wooden panels.
He returns to the kitchen.
There are bowls of crisps on the work surfaces. He takes a handful with him into the
back room where the music is loudest. He sits on the settee for a while, then on the
floor in the corner. He looks around. There is an illuminated fishtank, a piece of wood
cellotaped over the top. He notices that each electric socket has an
energy-meter.

He goes to the kitchen.  He notices that each electric socket has an energy-meter
there too. He gets one of his cans, takes two big swigs and then carefully tops it up with wine, carries it to the front room. He stands, sipping occasionally, then sits on
the floor in the corner for a while. He stands in the hall,
goes up two steps, looks back at the front door. He concentrates on his bladder.
He goes up three more steps. A window’s beside him. He sees a delivery van down
the road, a man carrying box after box of groceries into a house. He sees the
little shops opposite. Many have objects hung over their doors – the shoe-shop
has a big boot; another has a something like a gramophone horn. Two more steps. He’s on
the landing now. The bedroom doors are all closed. One has a Mondrian hung upside down.
One is padlocked. He waits outside the toilet door, studies the cracking paint,
the slight warping. He goes in, locks the door, only just undoes his flies in time.
Such relief. He lets everything go. His head spins. He’s so drunk. There are thick rugs,
shelves of exotically favoured products, toothbrushes. Noticing a full-length
mirror he’s reminded of a science program from the night before, where it
said that you can’t see your eyes move in a mirror because your sight blanks
out. He wondered how many hours a day his eyes were in motion.

He suddenly turns, looks at the door, rushes back to the kitchen where lights are on, away from the music he so hates.
The crisps are mixed up. He doesn’t like Salt and Vinegar. Above the big table two pieces
of paper have been blutacked to the wall. One has column headings Name and Time, the other
says that the world record for eating 100 sultanas one at a time is 44.65 seconds. On the
table is a pencil, a basin of sultanas, some cocktail sticks, and a kitchen timer.

He looks to the doorway. He laughs. He tries the front room again,
sits on a chair, sits on the floor in the corner for a long time. He hears a
glass break. It was perched on a chair arm beside him. His eyes drift to the bookcase.
“For Whom the Bell Tolls” is in amongst the Bs. He wants to move it. He know he
shouldn’t. He goes into the kitchen, gets a can of his favourite beer, the beer
he’d brought. He takes it to the utility room. It’s dark. When his eyes adjust he sees
a candle in the middle of the floor. He sits cross-legged, concentrates on
the flame. The rest of the room goes blacker. He feels dizzy. He returns to kitchen,
thinks about going home, opens one of his cans, goes to the back room to listen to
music that he doesn’t like, that he’s never liked. There’s a smell that wasn’t there
before. He waits in the hall, looks up the staircase then darts out of the front door.

 

 

 

 

Tim Love’s publications are a poetry pamphlet Moving Parts (HappenStance, 2010) and a story collection By all means (Nine Arches Press, 2012). He lives in Cambridge, UK. He blogs at http://litrefs.blogspot.com/

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J. Bradley

 

 

The Ribcage Is Asked By Its Latest Lover How It Gets Around

You try your best to remain upright when in a new bedroom,
but it slows you down. Your latest lover gives you permission
to be yourself, so you skitter instead of hop, your tips click
and clack on his hardwood floor. When you and him finish,
he falls asleep and you watch the nightmare gnarl his smile.
Your latest lover wakes up an hour later and you ask him
what he was dreaming and he says giving birth
to skeletal wolves. He describes how they escaped:
chewing him from the inside, the cubs feeding from

the gore of what’s left; you know he’ll never call again.

 

 

 

J. Bradley is the author of The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective (Pelekinesis, 2016) and the Yelp review prose poem collection Pick How You Revise A Memory (Robocup Press, 2016). He lives at jbradleywrites.com.

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Richard James

 

 
The Chain Game

You play the chain game! But will it protect you against rust?
The indicators on the side indicate your time is crunching into
a vile twist, so no. Little else is going on where the axle meets
the gentle slope of her neck. Still the water runs off its back,
every day meaning rust is perpetual. There, did you see it slip?
Feed it through the mechanism. There, it slipped again. Fixation
is the special game of attention and I’m losing it badly. Still,
still. That’s the white spirit coming out again, stinking up the
garden. Other neighbours poke their nobbly heads over low
walls, squatting to look down on me. All that I can do (there’s
another slip) is to wave coyly at the panoramic gaze. If a few heads
can solve a problem like the stench of chemical, threat to the first
and only day of Summer (eh?) then the collective ought to make the
chain work. Still, it leaks flakes rubbing against the cog. My hands
have stains because (who knew) but it’s wet metal. Finding it hard to
concentrate and there, I slipped again. My audience are whispering
between themselves. Where I laughed up confidence, the false butterfly
caught in my throat. They were snooty, now they’re Eidolons of Judgement
and that was the fatal slip. They cackle waves of physical shock on the
lone boy and the bicycle. The amber links tore my palm across,
and I flashed a thought (brazenly) of The Baptism. That was wrong,
the true fact of the situation was a death trap coated in blood.
I scrabble backward on my knees and lock her out there.

Richard James is an unpublished poet from near Colchester, currently not working in a literary occupation. He has been reading poetry since college, and has been writing poetry for five years. He enjoys experimenting with as wide a variety of forms as possible.

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