Chaucer Cameron

 

 

 

Cellar Stories: Ash & Elder

Sunday afternoon there’s always roast dinner. Then mum and dad go to church. The twins stay and wash dishes. Elder-twin picks up a plastic bag with unused Brussels sprouts inside. The cellar door is open. Elder-twin leaves a heavy sigh to keep the door ajar. The twins creep down the steps. It’s distressing to hear the screams; if you’re reading this it will be distressing. Elder-twin peels away layers of rotting leaves, watching the insides roll away to the dark edges of the cellar. ‘I love our secret,’ says Ash-twin to Elder-twin. Elder-twin does not reply.

A month later the twins are seated at the dinner table. Ash-twin becomes upset. ‘You’re eating sprouts, she says, ‘we agreed that they are…how could you?’ she whispered. ‘They are remarkably nutritional,’ said Elder, ‘Nigel says they are good for the complexion.’ That evening, Elder leaves for church with mum, dad and new boyfriend, Nigel. Ash bundles herself up in a large plastic bag, rolls along the hallway, to the cellar steps – down the steps she rolls, across the floor straight into the corner, tight into the corner. ‘I love our secret,’ says Ash, as she tears at the insides of the shrivelled Brussel sprout. ‘Scream all you like, there is no one left to hear you’.

 

 

 

Chaucer Cameron’s poems and poetry films have been widely published and screened. Her latest work Wild Whispers, a poetry film collaboration, was recommended for the Ted Hughes Award. Chaucer is co-editor of Poetry Film Live. Further work found at elephantsfootprint.com

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George Szirtes and Julia Webb, zoom reading . . .

 

 

Join us for a live zoom reading from Julia Webb and George Szirtes with support from UEA poetry students Tristan Coleshaw ( 2020 recipient of the Ink, Sweat and Tears Poetry Writing Scholarship) and Eve Esfandiari Denney (the Birch Family Scholar for 2020/2021),  in our new occasional ‘Live from the Butchery’ series, hosted by Helen Ivory and Martin Figura from their home.

The reading will take place on Sunday 1st November 4pm GMT  Please email Kate Birch at inksweatandtears@aol.com before Sunday for meeting details.

 

 

 

 

We is in the bank

We is number three in the queue
and gulls scream over the city,
and the gulls shriek dump, dump, dump,
fish and chips and sometimes pie.
 
We is behind the woman in the fox fur
whose hair is a silver helmet,
whose voice is a snort
as she importants herself on her mobile phone
and every ring has its own finger.

We is in the bank
and Small is roll, rolling on the shiny floor
while the rest of the anoraked queue
pull ugly faces because secretly
they would like to slide and roll too.

We is in the bank
and the queue is moving so slowly
it doesn’t move at all,
and Small is tugging my dress every ten seconds
with an are we there yet? Are we there yet?
 
We is in the bank
with the mouth machines all along the wall,
some that spit notes out and others that suck them in,
and Small wants to press the buttons
but no, no, you must not look at
what other people’s fingers are doing.
 
We is in the bank eyes to the front,
someone sneezes their Decembers out
into the shared air and we breathe them in,
we do the slow shoe shuffle
and eventually after we have wait, wait, waited –

we put our lips to the glass
and voice-hug the worried woman
who lives behind the window,
and she points and shrugs,
sends us back out into the city of gulls.

 

 

Julia Webb is a Norwich based poet/editor, she runs online and real-world poetry courses. She is a poetry editor for Lighthouse (a journal for new writing). She has a poetry MA from UEA. She has two poetry collections with Nine Arches: Bird Sisters (2016) and Threat (2019). twitter: @Julwe1

 

(We is in the bank is from Threat, Nine Arches Press, 2019 and won the Battered Moons poetry competition)

 

 

 

Dotage

Occasionally they hear dotage shuffling
up and down the hall, hesitating at the door
and asking in its feeble high-pitched voice
if it is time yet. Is it time? No, it is not,
they answer, straightening their backs.
Move away from the door, we need to use it.

And so it shuffles off, mumbling to itself,
disliking its own caricature gait
and ever less firm grip on irony
while they get on with life and slamming doors.

I see my father with his dotage grin
and watch as his eyes slowly turn to mine.

Get out, dad, I tell him, go now, while you can,
then realise he got out years ago.
I put my slippers on and comb my hair,
pleased to see how dark it is, like his.
There are doors leading to other doors,
they say, forgetting now to close them.

 

 

George Szirtes: Born in Hungary in 1948, his first book, The Slant Door (1979) won the Faber Prize. He has published many since then, Reel (2004) winning the T S Eliot Prize, for which he has been twice shortlisted since. His memoir of his mother, The Photographer at Sixteen, was published in February 2019 and was awarded the James Tait Black prize for Biography in 2020. His translations also have won various prizes including the translator’s award at the International Booker Prize for his work on László Krasznahorkai.

 

 

 

 

 

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Laura Stanley

 

 

 

Tomorrow 

Tomorrow the birds reverse. Owls swing from branches, geese fly bellies to the sky, and  pigeons shuffle ‘round roads on their backs. Tomorrow twitter explodes. Soaring views on  videos. Televised debates. Think-pieces. Memes. Tomorrow David Attenborough’s phone  breaks. The day after tomorrow reverse is normal. New day. New trend. New hashtag. You  film the birds in sepia. Gold light crackles in the corners and long white lines, spider-web  thin, trickle down the screen and round, black patches bounce between the birds. You upload  the film with tomorrow’s date. You upload the film every day. This is not old news. There is  no precedent for birds reversing back.

 

 

Laura Stanley is a recent English with Creative Writing graduate. Her poems have been published in Impact Magazine, Voices by Nottingham Poetry Exchange and in Speak Up: An Anthology of Young Voices.

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Eilín de Paor

 

 

 

You, with the Lego Grip around your Pint

We feel you overseeing, through the thrashing of the dancers –
weighing, sizing, rating like a coil-sprung cat.

From the comfort of your bar stool, your scalpel gaze dissects us,
discards the parts deemed failings, carves out our choicest meat.

The music warps and buckles, loses rhythm with our movement,
the joy that we inhabit chips and blisters at the edge.

We shrink back to the shadows at the corners of the dance floor,
in a huddle of protection, shame leadening our legs.

You move on to your next batch for quality assessment.
Take a draught of liquid from your hot-hand smutted glass.

 

 

Eilín de Paor lives in Dublin and works in health and social care. Selected for The Stinging Fly Summer School 2019, she has had poems published by Algebra of Owls and The Organic Poet and one upcoming in The Stony Thursday Book. Twitter: @edepaor

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Lucy Ashe

 

 

 

Dressed

For hundreds of years
I’ve been trying to get out
That door. The front door.
The one onto the High Street.

At the end of the Dark Ages
I make my first attempt. But
Gilded net cauls, caging my ears,
Catch on the door frame.

I try again, dressed like a queen,
White lead setting my face in stone.
But a ruff, layers of lace, press
Into my throat, and I panic,

My breath short. I don’t give up.
Dressed in Rococo paniers, corset,
A hoop skirt, I approach the door.
Hips wide, crinoline cage shield.

But I crash, bouncing back,
Powder fluttering like snow
From my towering wig. I breathe
Relief in my empire line dress,

Draped in muslin, stretch
A foot out, slowly, but the rain
Soaks me, and I trip on my soiled
Skirts. A man outside laughs.

Did I hope he would rescue me,
carry me back to the drawing room? I
Stand again. This time in bloomers,
My legs bounding in time

To calisthenics.  I dance in frills, feathers,
Hem lines rise above my knees, small
Steps, in the doorway, breaking
Through to the porch.

My wardrobe spills out around
My bed. I sift floral mini dresses,
Flared jeans, crop tops, sweeping
Skirts. I pull on something,

Anything, my feet ready
In trainers, and stride to the door.
Young lady, where do you think
You are going dressed like that?

 

 

Lucy Ashe is an English teacher. She writes reviews for Playstosee.com and currently has a feminist dystopian novel out on submission to agents. Her poetry and prose is soon to be published in Truffle Literary Magazine and 192, Poets’ Directory.  Twitter: @LSAshe1

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Emily Bell

 

 

 

A night at St Thomas’ Church, Friarmere

At first
I’m afraid of the church’s dark eyes,
thick leaded lines drawn chaotically
in illegible strokes against
dull brightness, darkness visible
within and without. I can’t enter here—

In daylight
it’s no better. A hint of rouge
on an old face, reflective, giving little away.
But this time, through stained lips I go;
a taste of something bleeding,
fractured glass swallowed whole

And then
the world seduces me from its narrowness.
Coloured irises breach the threshold, portals
between caged souls and the living, sun-grown
moor; completeness in pieces, the bones
of the wide earth fused into meaning, into
iridescence; beautifully, joyfully, broken.

 

 

 

Dr Emily Bell is a writer and historian, based in Loughborough, UK. She’s currently writing a new biography of Charles Dickens for Reaktion Books, and she’s been published in Ink Pantry, Wellington Street Review, and elsewhere. She tweets at @EmilyJLB.

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Anjana Basu

 

 

 

Sunday Thunder

Something is angry
behind the blue sunlit sky
a growl
crows fluttering in confusion and the wind tugging at my heels

The scowl overhead
Night growl from the blackness beyond
something is angry

Something behind the sky is angry
though nature says
it is a healing time
the river runs clear and the mountains
unveil their peaks
this is a time of buds and bird calls
and yes a pigeon
pacing on a marble floor
the earth moves slow, the stillness grows
and then the rumble
behind the starlight blotted thin
in sheets of white the angry night
of the maker or alien event horizon
we are all stardust or so we were
the crows fly up and scatter
our ashes to the night
ashes to ashes
dust to stardust.

in the darkness
the tiger paces
a rumble in its throat.

 

 

Born in Allahabad, schooled for a time in the UK, Anjana Basu has to date published 9 novels and 2 books of poetry, The Chess Players and Other Poems from Writers Workshop and Picture Poems and Word Seasons from Authorpress. Her first poem was chosen for the Illustrated Weekly by the then Poetry Editor Kamala Das. Her poems have appeared in an anthology brought out by Penguin India. Since then she has featured in Kunapipi, The Blue Moon Review, The Phoenix Review, The Ginosco Review, the Salzburg Review, Prosopisia and Indian Literature, to name a few.  Most recently she was published in Muse, an anthology of NE poets

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