John Sweet

 

 

 

poem for the fine art of immortality

spirits larger than the summer sun and
how high were we flying when
we got the news about cobain’s death?

how fast were we driving trying to
leave all the pain of that last
grey winter behind?

and i don’t think i ever saw you again but
i can still remember the taste of
salt on your lips on easter sunday

i can still remember the
gift of godlike vision
before we threw it all away

 

 

John Sweet sends greetings from the rural wastelands of upstate NY.  He is a firm believer in writing as catharsis. His latest poetry collections include Heathen Tongue (2017 Kendra Steiner Editions) and Bastard Faith (2017 Scars Publications).

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Sam Hickford

 

 

 

The Dulcimer-girls (for Coleridge)
(Oh, and the Dulcimer-boys)

they’re the ones making the bloody noise
banging on those lovely instruments
on an Autumn night at 3 A.M
and it’s so nice – and, yes, I guess it’s Leeds –
but I’d really rather like to sleep.
Though each resonant, softly-stricken sound
bothers me in euphony. But, now,
Oh my god, it is the Dulcimen
banging on those strings as they upend
Becks-cans outside of “Abyssinia”
olay-ing as the streets grow tinnier.
I suppose it’s nice! It brings back memories
of harmonies heard far away from Leeds,
fragrances carried by the cyclamen.
I definitely can’t get up again
but there’s a pleasure to this heightened state
and thoughts cohere, exactly, when it’s late.
The lesson? We might have to give up sleep
making each day a dreadful-darling dream
like a dulcimer (!) way out of tune
but still a dulcimer: a flower in bloom
quite nervously. But if I hear a sound again
I swear to God I’ll fucking kill those men.

 

 

Sam Hickford is a freelance writer and poet. He has written for British publications like The Guardian and The Tablet: his contributor page for The Guardian can be found here.

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Alex Josephy

 

 

 

Therapy

Take thistledown, hold it in the bowl
of your palms. Feel it tingle
like Spumante.

No, it can’t mend your heart,
but it will float you to the surface
of your skin.

A cure for that dull ache
under the ribs, that beats each time
you long for your child

across the ocean? Find a river
or a canal. Worn stone steps are best,
down to the towpath.

Let your eyes ride a kingfisher’s
quick shot of blue, borrow
a moorhen’s buoyancy;

how easily they dive, come up
somewhere unexpected, sleeved
in a twist of air.

 

 

Alex Josephy‘s collection White Roads was published by Paekakariki Press (2018). Other Blackbirds (2016) is a Cinnamon Press pamphlet. Her poems appear in magazines and anthologies in England and Italy; find out more at www.alexjosephy.eu.

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Simon Williams

 

 

 

A Strange Case

There’s something floating in the Brayford Pool.
Two swans, raw recruits, investigate. As a sub-plot,
one showboats the other. The pen ignores him.

Two high-viz guys in a high-viz launch circle,
decide it’s possibly wood, not a body, outside their jurisdiction.
They pitch up at the wharf and go for noodles.

A boater in a narrow boat motors in,
one of those specialist detectives with another life.
The object has sunk without trace. We’ll need divers now.

The swans return with a forensic swan,
though not a good one, as he has no bow tie.
They’ve wasted his time; he wants his lab and some Roquefort.

I watch this from a solicitor’s window;
she may not have seen this lucrative opportunity.
We sit and talk of house repairs, tax implications.

In the deep waters of the Brayford Pool
a mystery unfolds. Will we have to drain the basin?
Where is a cormorant when you need one?

 

 

Simon Williams has eight published collections, his latest being a co-authored pamphlet with Susan Taylor, The Weather House www.indigodreams.co.uk/williams-taylor/4594076848, published in 2017 by Indigo Dreams. This is also touring as a performance show. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013, founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet and produced the well-received PLAY Anthology.

 

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Daniel Fraser

 

 

 

To Essex

Worn stones lean toward the train, where
blue lichens graze on lost nouns, passengers
stuck still waiting for a service.
In Leyton, four men carry one
bouquet, dark lilies and chrysanthemums,
extras from Brueghel’s Triumph, their
smiles fluted with bleakness and
paper laughter, canned sounds trying hard
to bear the weight of life.
Above broods a distempered sky: ash,
ashen—the all-too-easy indolence
of grey, the readiness to hand,
metallic cloughs of cloud,
pig iron poorly oxidised with rain.

Newbury hauls its concrete ankh, black turf
and wire fences pattern low mist,
Father-son football, homely as witch-hazel,
drubs along the weekend pitch,
sleet-buckled limbs tussle for warmth
while the bystanders inculcate a chant,
their coven of waterproofs whipped
by a tangy breeze. The last of autumn
ghosts the birches, frail gold that tells
of nothing but fall. The rest: brown,
red-brown, dull mulch and sparse woods
trunk-wound with sheepish ivy, glum
fairy lights sporting arrowed filament.

Foot-by-foot I trudge the sallow marsh.
A last sun wilts its way through formless,
temporary pools. Your voice carries,
vowels flattened by the plain,
I worm you out across the saltings,
coarse with mud and the turgid dunes
of silt, fat as an intake of breath.
A stranded lightship yawns for tide
and oh how birded the sky—
the iron, indolent,  rain-gestured grey,
wings peeling, sketching dark migrations
above the cross beams and rigging.
Our mouths leave no tongue left wanting
as we curl back through the meadow,
exhausted, slack and sore with dusk,
while all around the vanished sea
speaks once again of flood.

 

 

 

Daniel Fraser is a writer from Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. His poetry and prose have featured in the LA Review of BooksGorse, the RumpusLitro, and Burning House Press among others. Find him on Twitter @oubliette_mag.

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Rupert Locke

 

 

 

Walking

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least…sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields – Henry David Thoreau

i’m sorry Mr Henry David Thoreau
it wasn’t Nature’s subtle magnetism
but a fickle blue arrow on Google Maps
that led me to saunter out of Marsala
down Contrada Spagnola to Mozia

it didn’t take the prescribed four hours
till I saw the salt pans segment the water
then the salt mounds and the windmill sails
up to the windmill’s jaunty red hat
beyond that kite surfing kites tacking the clouds

stretched out to my left the collapsing jetties
and dogwalkers striding through the lagoon
like those Cornish giants a childhood away
round a corner a tree of birds took off
and chirruped the air and the November sun

but in a poem so full of direction
let me turn off for one moment at this stone pier
and talk about how three years later right here
when I proposed in three different languages
you gave me back three different lots of I do

the wildness I found not yet subdued
deer eared on my pillow in a square of light
hair slicked back by sleep in the newborn morning
i guess old Thoreau was right after all
sometimes it pays not to know where you’re going

 

 

Rupert Locke is an English poet based in Sicily.  He completed a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Exeter.  His poetry can be found online at Nine Muses Poetry.  He also has forthcoming work in Sarasvati and Picaroon.

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Emma Baines

 

 

 
Vital Signs

We laughed,
in spite of the darkness,
at the circles around your eyes.

and you rolled them
over hand-knitted hats
in the chemo ward,
to cover things we tried to hide.

when I shaved your head
and the last of your hair
fell in your lap, you beamed.

as I showered you,
fresh from surgery,
and you carried your drain
in a floral bag; we joked.

when you unzipped a new breast;
pocketed a new you,
we poked fun at all things false.

but when you smiled from the scanner
a truth was told:
how your bones glow
is beyond the measure of science.

now life is given
its last chance to impress you,
from the bottom of us;
we laugh.

 

 

Emma Baines has been writing for many years and published poetry in magazines and journals including The Lampeter Review, Roundyhouse, Cambria and POEM. In 2011, she edited and contributed to The Month had 32 Days, published by Parthian and has read at festivals and events including the Laugharne Weekend. She also travelled to Ireland on the Coracle literary exchange. Emma has has translated work (from Welsh to English) for Menna Elfyn and her own writing has recently been included in installation by glass artist Linda Norris. This year, she has co-founded a writers group in Pembrokeshire and is currently facilitating poetry workshops to create films based on the Women of West Wales for Llangwm Literary Festival

 

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