Poems from Dipo Baruwa-Etti, Helen Calcutt and Abegail Morley are the IS&T Entries for the 2020 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

Do please read these fine poems below, go to http://www.inksweatandtears.co.uk/pages/?cat=118 or click on ‘2020 Forward Prizes for Poetry Entries’ in the categories list to your right.

Good luck to all!

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Abegail Morley

 

 

 

End

Forget you. The ash of bone. The uncradled
heart, leaky valve long scorched. Forget
the unthinking arm that fell on my shoulder,
those times we crossed the M6 flyover
and you drove with one hand on the wheel
and I’d change gear, rather badly. Forget
the mix-tape, its erratic path through
teenage years, the growing up, beers, larking
about on bridges and piers and dancing
all night in the Zap Club. Forget the sea
and its snub-nosed wall, the hiss of shingle
on sand, the plans we made at 2am
to be bruised by life. Forget the headlamps
dimming on the Downs, the uphill walks,
the drinks in the Nelson, Trafalgar Street,
the way your heart beat. And beat. Remember
the dull ring of my doorbell, the slight tap
on glass, the way my stomach flipped when
I knew you were there, before you arrived.
Remember what longing means, the thick taste
of Milky Bars for breakfast, the crack of your elbow
broken on the stairs at 4am, the thud of your step
across floorboards. Remember how in that crowd
we found each other’s silence, feathered it out,
knowing we might make it from friends to lovers
and friends again. Remember how we felt that night
when we each held our breaths, met under
an invisible sky. Remember how we said
when you died, I’d try to forget.

 

 

Abegail Morley’s debut collection, How to Pour Madness into a Teacup, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection. Her most recent collection is The Skin Diary (Nine Arches Press) and The Unmapped Woman is forthcoming from Nine Arches Press. She is one of the co-editors at Against the Grain Press and editor of The Poetry Shed.

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Helen Calcutt

 

 

 

A conversation with my daughter about my brother’s suicide

She is awake.

The moon is bright and the clouds have parted.
The trees are painted trees, living a still life.

She tells me my brother is in the moon.
I’ve bathed her, given her milk
and as I fold the sheets from her knees

to her lap, she asks me how he died.
‘He was very sad’ I say
and she seems to understand.

She rubs the milk away from her lips with her hands
as if the moon had kissed her
and then asks why.

I try to explain.
‘Sadness can make you very tired.
It can make you want to sleep.

It can make you want to close your eyes on everything.’

Her hands are like two leaves
resting on the bedcovers. She asks me if I miss him
and when I say I do

her eyes go big and round
and she asks me again, how he died
if the sadness of missing him

will make me die.

I hold her then, I accept
the weight of her. I can feel her widening like the stillness of a tree –

my child, coming into a still life…

Then we talk about the moon being
the shape of an egg, upside down.
We watch branches touch on drifting clouds
and agree – we want to see everything.

We stay up half the night finding patterns on the walls.
Different kinds of windows.

 

 

Helen Calcutt is the author of two books of poetry, Sudden rainfall (Perdika, 2014) a PBS Choice, and Unable Mother published by V.Press in September 2018. Her writing is published internationally, including award-winning essays and reviews for The Wales Arts Review, The Brooklyn Review, The London Review, Poetry Scotland and Boundless. She is creator and editor of Eighty-Four a poetry anthology on the subject of male suicide. Website: https://helencalcutt.org/

 

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Dipo Baruwa-Etti

 

 

 

Seats

Before a table of white
People, I stand with ballet
Slippers strapped/soft soles
Head pointed towards the angels.

A dance, I commence. Pirouette
Grand adage, en point
Followed by flight as a helium
Addicted balloon.

Circling a table of white
People, I act as the Central
Line: quick/convenient/
Struggling to breathe.

A dance, I conclude. Magic
Hopefully proven
Gate optimistically opened
Handcuffs gracefully broken.

 

 

 

 

 

Dipo Baruwa-Etti is a playwright and poet. He has been published in The Good Journal, Amaryllis, and had his work showcased nationwide as part of End Hunger UK’s touring exhibition on food insecurity.

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