Mark Done

 

 

 

Solar Farm, Sudbury

Two boys balance on a five-bar gate.
Ready for take-off, they lean into a field

where an alien crop has sprung up
among native hedgerows and trees –

row upon row of solar panels supplicate
southwards like deckchairs on a beach.

Behind the mirrors of photovoltaic cells,
an alchemy of light is taking place

and the air hums with electrons
releasing like a bottle losing its fizz.

One boy flings a stone, waits for a hit,
to see if stuff comes oozing out.

There’s nothing more than a tick-tick-tick
as the stone skitters, then falls

among dust-choked wildflowers and cables

 

 

 

 

Mark Done completed an MA in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University in 2015. His work has appeared in two student anthologies and online at LeftLion, Nottingham’s culture magazine. He was awarded a merit in the Nottingham Open Poetry Competition 2014. Twitter: @markdone1.

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John Grey

 

 

 

The Brain’s Last Days

Cracked brain, down a backstreet,
side alley, bottom of the dumpster.
The accumulation of years of thought has
broken your spirit Like Hemingway’s,
you’ve had enough and the cold gun
barrel can’t come soon enough.
Memory’s no salve. And the heart
can’t get through that New England
granite. So brain, why waste good blood flow?

And the body keeps lumping you here and there.
Even relaxed bones can’t turn the
old man in the head around. Sit
and comfort attacks. Stand and
muscle sends in the bearded janitor
who speaks little English to painfully swab
those neuron decks. Cracked brain
but the senses keep assigning you puzzles.
What’s the square root of alphabet soup?
Who’s in the strawberry patch with Einstein?

You watch birds fly. Ultimate jealousy.
Why can’t you do that? Strap a pair of
wings on all that thinking and you’d
be in Greenland in no time. And what
about fish? Breathing underwater. Nice work
if you can get it. But cracked brain would
just sink. And you can’t run like gazelles either.
You just sit there like a hunk of meat on a neck pole.
One crack, two crack, three crack, four.
The arbitraries are moving in. Likewise, the
deadly ruminations. Maybe a belfry for
bats could be your best trick. Or storage space
for hallucinogenic drugs.

What’s this? Someone’s asking your opinion on something.
Voices are so damn uncaring.
No brain would treat you this way.

 

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and Sanskrit with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Owen Wister Review and Louisiana Literature.

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Lauren Bell

 

 

 

Trading Places, Changing Spaces

She decided that everything had to go. Absolutely everything. She wanted no reminder of him, not even a speck of dust made from his dead skin cells.

She began with the furniture: the office chair and desk with the wonky leg, the cheap-looking wardrobe and bedside cabinet with the Japanese-inspired decor. All of it was junk, cluttering up her rooms, the spaces she had allowed him to share. He had been difficult, forever demanding extra space, space she didn’t have.

Izzy tried to compromise offering him her precious garden instead; if inspiration was what he needed, being exposed to nature would suit him down to the ground.

Except it didn’t.

‘The view is crap,’ he said. ‘And I’m certain there are people spying on me at the back. I keep seeing their curtains twitch. No, I’d rather have my own private study.’

She had given in and soon the cupboard under the stairs had been converted. At least now she didn’t have to see his miserable face every time she looked out of the kitchen window. He was out of the way…for now.

If anything though, the space beneath the stairs only amplified Danny’s whinging.

‘It’s too small. I can practically touch the walls with my elbows. Don’t you know I’m claustrophobic?’

So Izzy began to take her space back.

‘You can’t put your canvas in there,’ she said, when she caught him one morning eyeing up the downstairs toilet. ‘Where on earth will my artificial flowers go?’

At first Danny resented Izzy’s plans. But as the days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, he grew confused.

‘My lilo, lawnmower and metal detector have all got to go in there.’ She pointed to the space which had formerly been his study. ‘There’s no room for your stamp collection. Sorry.’

Izzy even snapped up the attic.

‘I need this space to meditate. I can’t be disturbed, you see.’

Except he didn’t.

Danny proposed that they extend the house.

‘What about a conservatory?’ he suggested.

‘I’ve always wanted my very own greenhouse,’ she said. ‘We could grow some tomatoes in there. What do you say?’

Danny hated tomatoes and scrapped the idea.

Soon, every room in the house was fulfilling a function: the living room became a leisure centre, the kitchen a sauna, the bathroom a health spa, the bedrooms an office and sanctuary respectively.

The space beneath the stairs went neglected with Izzy’s junk.

‘Can I have my old study back?’ he asked late one evening, his fingers crossed behind his back.

‘But what about your claustrophobia? Can claustrophobia be cured?’

‘Sure it can.’

‘Don’t be silly, love,’ she said. ‘You said yourself the study was too small.’

Danny resigned himself and headed upstairs where a single mattress lay waiting on the floor.

The final straw for him came when he was turned off his mattress a few days later.

‘You’re blocking me from getting past,’ Izzy said. ‘You can sleep in the shed instead.’

The wallpaper came off surprisingly easy. Strips of mint and gold found their way into bin bags. Izzy preferred the house like this, stripped back. She pictured Danny’s face the day he was taken away. Attempted arson, the authorities called it. At least he was in safe hands now. The doctors would know what to prescribe, what treatment he needed.

Let’s hope they do the right thing, she thought. And give him a place of his own.

 

 

 

Lauren Bell lives in Birmingham, loves rainbows and is often drunk on inspiration. Her work has been published in print and online by Firewords Quarterly, The Fractured Nuance, Spelk and Storgy Magazine where she is a contributing writer.

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James R Kilner

 

 

 

Wind Turbine

Monstrous reaper
thrashing arms threshing air

or snowdrop on the bright horizon.

Lost to night,
spinning like the wheel of a ship near wreck

or ponderous, arms on a clockface.

Or stilled.
A crucifixion on the hill.
Birdsong
breaking across the Earth
with the dawn.

 

 

James R Kilner’s first collection of poems, Frequencies of Light, is out now. He is a former newspaper journalist and holds a PhD from the University of Leeds. Originally from Yorkshire, he now lives on Tyneside. Please visit www.jameskilnerwriter.wordpress.com

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Gary Jude

 

 

 

Music

Some words strut about
like tragedians on stage. Alas!

Or bit part play the page
quietly stealing scenes.

Words on stilts shout
above the rabble of the street.

Speech is peeling from meaning,
the lute’s gold leaf

all but flaked away. Antique.
Nothing new to say.

Close the piano’s lid.
I am calm without words.

I smother them at birth.
My smile in the hand on my mouth.

 

 

Gary Jude is from London, and divides his time between the UK and Switzerland.  He has previously had poems published in Acumen, Iota, The Wolf, Orbis and Poetry Salzburg.

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Stuart Pickford

 

 

 

Bio Earplugs

For swimming, snoring or noise pollution.
Spearmint blue and chewy soft,
they tickle your brain, let silence swell.

Like slipping under water in the bath,
your heart insists on its double bass.
For once you hear the voice that’s you.

After the drive south through France,
châteaux with fancy railings, geraniums,
water towers, hordes of sunflowers,

your pillow moulds to your head. Enter
your Bio Earplugs. You imagine the square,
the creamy stone of Loches quietening.

A saxophonist blows his cheeks into balls.
Diners beat their palms together.
For you, a crying baby doesn’t cry.

There’s no whine from a moped pulled
by string. The ghost bus floats away.
A white poodle mouths at the moon.

Your pulse rocks the hammock of silence
till sleep takes you to a turquoise sea,
snoring, blowing happy raspberries

or you shake hands with the Managing Director
of Bio Earplugs, smiles all cheese,
Delighted in bold under your picture

or dream up scientifically-proven inventions:
nose stoppers for olfactory discomfort,
anti-touch gloves, blind glasses.

You smile, knowing you’ll be a millionaire
come morning, which you are, throwing open
shutters onto the street singing with sun.

You uncork the gravelly engine of a truck,
a metal ladder dragged over concrete,
fluttering voices of two old women,

a plane pulling a banner across the sky,
various onomatopoeias throwing in their bit,
a sparrow on a wire conducting it all.

 

 

 

Stuart Pickford lives in Harrogate where he teaches in a local school. He is married with three children.

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John D Robinson

 

 

 

Robinson

‘John D
must try harder
in every subject;
he appears to
spend a great
deal of time
day-dreaming and
preferring his own
company, he
may struggle to
establish a career
for himself  in
the future if he
continues with his
present attitude’
scrawled school
reports year
after year -
“Robinson
Mr Mathews wants
to see you right
away, you’re
no longer wanted
here” said the
grinning floor
manager of the
warehouse -
“Robinson
you think you’re
something special
don’t you?” snarled
the angry Corporal
“Yes Corporal”
I replied,
this was the wrong
answer and he threw
the contents
of my locker across
the floor -
“Robinson
you’re one hell
of a lazy bastard!”
numerous factory
supervisors have
observed -
“Robinson
how the fuck
you’ve made it
this far in life is
beyond my
imagination”
is a frequently made
statement by friends
and enemies -
“Robinson
John D; you are
guilty as charged”
said the bloated
red nosed magistrate
sending me into
the arms of probation -
But for many
years, by far the
most frequent
echo is
‘Dear Mr Robinson
thank you for
sending us your
work to our
publication,
unfortunately
it is not what we’re
looking for at the
moment, but we wish
you luck in placing
it else where’

 

 

 

John D Robinson was born in 63 in the UK; his work has appeared widely in the small press, most recently in Bareback Lit, Red Fez, Dead Snakes, Pulsar, Poet&Geek, The Commonline Journal, The Kitchen Poet, The Chicago Record, Mad Swirl.

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