Poems from Louisa Adjoa Parker, Oz Hardwick and Jessica Mookherjee are the IS&T Entries for the 2019 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

Revisit the poems below or go to http://www.inksweatandtears.co.uk/pages/?cat=102.

Good luck to all!

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Oz Hardwick





Off-Peak Single


The turnstile jammed, trapping me half way through, casting me in the role of inconvenience for the queue that gathered in Fibonacci curves, bristling with smartphones and resentment. I scanned and inserted my ticket at every possible angle, then the same angles again but in a different order, but the gate didn’t move and the crowd swelled, became unruly, pleading and threatening. On the other side, the hall had emptied, fallen to silence as the lights went out. My ticket wore thin, and when I lifted it to my eye I could see through it to the desperate, angry, Biblical mass who looked to me for the release of all their earthly cares, or at least for loaves and fishes. By the time the ticket had fallen to fine powder, the turnstile was thick with moss, with small shrubs chancing their tentative lives in this emerging world. Bees waggled their stories of new terrain, and a yellow songbird scored its eloquent truth. My hands throb with the primal power of mulch and loam, my fingers unfolding in the prestidigitation of new life. I regret to inform you of the cancellation of all services. Let there be light.





Oz Hardwick is a York-based poet, photographer, occasional musician, and reluctant academic. His latest publication is a prose poetry chapbook, Learning to Have Lost (Canberra: IPSI, 2018). His ambition is to play bass in a Belgian space-rock band. www.ozhardwick.co.uk


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Jessica Mookherjee




Honey Shot
Samson knows the sound of lies
and scissors, clings to some muscle he used
to have. Jumping through hoops
to stay alive. You don’t need to impress me.           

Snip, slash in a dirty flat, he gathers
bottles, cans, vials, he couldn’t let go,
and I say, aren’t you pleased to see me
again? And What was she like? And how
could you love her so much when she cut
you like that? He wants me to slice
off his head. I tell him it will grow back,
as he sings fragments remind me,

I tricked him too, got to the truth,
out of the strong comes something sweet.
Let out he’d sucked something unclean,
rubs blind eyes, waves his hands, says

he can’t remember any times he told
me he loved me, only the girl who blinded
him, gave him the honey, cut his hair,
took his money. He says he can’t see me.




Jessica Mookherjee has been widely published. Her pamphlets are The Swell (Telltale Press, 2016) and Joyride (BLER Press, 2017). She was highly commended in the Forward Prize 2017 for best single poem and is author of Flood (Cultured Llama 2018).

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Louisa Adjoa Parker



Those wild, pre-Brexit days
after Josephine Corcoran

Do you remember those wild, pre-Brexit days
when immigrants filled our seas with their bodies,
floated death onto our beaches
forced us to see images of dead immigrant children
while we were eating our cereal and drinking our tea?

And a man couldn’t take a shit in his own toilet
without finding an immigrant squatting over the bowl
and when he went to work the immigrants had run off with his job
and when immigrants crawled out of gutters
and when immigrants crawled out of the seas

Do you remember those wild, pre-Brexit days
when the immigrants killed our language
how when a man walked down his own street,
it was like living in Syria, or Poland or some godforsaken place,
and a man had to listen to them chattering like monkeys

and when he went to the corner shop
the immigrants had bought all the white sliced
and immigrants owned the shop, too!
And when he went to the job centre they’d run off with his benefits.
And when immigrants crawled out of gutters
and when immigrants crawled out of the seas

Do you remember those wild, pre-Brexit days
when immigrants stole all our women
and when a man tried to make love to his own wife
an immigrant had climbed into his bed,
slid between his cotton sheets
and was running his immigrant hands
all over her English rose skin
and a man had to watch while the immigrant took her –
while he whispered sweet nothings in foreign!
And when a man went downstairs to make tea
an immigrant poured himself out of the kettle.

And immigrants crawled out of the gutters.
And immigrants crawled out of the seas.




Louisa Adjoa Parker is a writer of English/Ghanaian heritage. Her poetry collection, Salt-sweat and Tears, and pamphlet, Blinking in the Light, are published by Cinnamon Press. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Bare Fiction; Envoi; and Wasafiri. www.louisaadjoaparker.com


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