Ann Marie Foley

 

 

 

Spring in Dublin

People linger in Temple Bar
take coffee and wine outside with coats still on,
crowd around pipers, singers
wanting a memory photo of this day.

Young girls chat with Gardai in short sleeves,
skateboarders skim around ´Central Bank,
many languages sound check outdoors,
cars squawk and hoot at lights.
People watch for seconds to drain to zero.

At Ha’penny Bridge the river throws back the light,
sinking sun frames dark buildings,
and blinks in windows.

 

 

 

Ann Marie Foley writes poetry, prose and non-fiction, lives near Portlaoise, Co Laois, Ireland and has been published in: Outburst 16&17; Words UnLaoised; The Sea; Writing.ie; Cyphers 73; Acorn 5…For more information: www.laoiswritersgroup.com/anne-marie-foley

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Steve Xerri

 

 

 

Self portrait : dipytch

I

It will do, the Polaroid’s black-
&-white : but a ground of sky-like
azurite with aetatis suae XX lettered

in gold would better suit
this curly-head in starprint shirt,
his life set permanently to May,

cheek burnished smooth, grin still
bright as enamel, straight-ahead gaze
the sign of a body and mind packed

with nerves and nerve, keen to pierce
the blazing thickets of lightbeams
pouring on him from the future.

II

What fingers have dabbled
under the skin of this face
and loosened it like a glove

pouched at the knuckles?
Render him Holbein-style,
with scraped graphite stubble

and dewlaps crosshatched ; show
the waning of distinctiveness
as the sitter leans into age,

accruing marks and details
on the surface of the vellum, a crop
of scuffs and spatters, all his own.

 

 

 

 

Steve Xerri has been a teacher, musician, illustrator and web designer. Recently published in Acumen, Clear Poetry, Stride Magazine, Brittle Star, and The Interpreter’s House. Awarded the Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2017 prize in October.

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Joel Moktar

 

 

reverse shadows
after a photograph by Eiichi Matsumoto

charcoal scars
and tired wooden slats
both man and ladder seared to shade

here
where the air is steeped
in the memory of fire

hell dropped its livid star

what left at the still point of an alien war

watch the shadows darken
like sweet marinade

 

 

 

 

Joel Moktar writes poetry and short fiction. His writing has been published in various magazines and anthologies, including Popshot, Iota, Ink Sweat and Tears, Belleville Park Pages, and In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights. Joel has lived in three continents, and currently calls London home. You can read more of his writing at joelmoktar.wordpress.com

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‘In Her Bones’ a prose poem from Anne Ryland is our Pick of the Month for May 2018.

After a hard fought contest – it always is – Anne Ryland’s ‘stunning’ ‘original’ ‘vivid and unexpected’ prose poem ‘In Her Bones’ is the Ink Sweat & Tears Pick of the Month for May 2018. And it is testament to Anne’s skill that she brought the articulated skeleton that is Agnes, ‘completely at home in her two hundred and six bones’, effectively to life. We wanted to know more.

Anne has published two collections: Autumnologist (shortlisted for The Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2006) and The Unmothering Class (2011). Recent poems have appeared in Oxford Poetry, Agenda and Long Poem Magazine. Her website is http://anneryland.co.uk

Anne has asked that her £10 ‘prize’ be donated to Carers UK, a charity dedicated to making life better for carers.

 

In Her Bones

I discover her just off Pier Road, sitting on the bench that overlooks the river. Draped on the wooden slats, right femur resting on left, Agnes is completely at home in her two hundred and six bones. Relieved of padding and muscle, of her woman-paraphernalia (I note the handbag years have dragged her right clavicle down), her hinges and locks are exposed, her irregularities.

I lower myself onto the bench beside her. We share small hands and feet, but Agnes is now pure vertebrate; I see her spine’s ability to spring, absorb shock. Her pelvis has acquired a creamish lustre, a cradle opening to receive sunlight, but it would be impolite to place my palm in her ilium. Instead, I shift a little closer to inspect the jigsaw pieces of her skull. She carries on staring out towards the North Sea, an expression of Ah – behind her orbits. Might a bird seek refuge in her ribcage?

Agnes has no need of breath. The wind is her breath, passing through her bars, her lacunae, as if she were an instrument being tuned. Despite her loosened appearance, Agnes is incurably informative. She embodies the Greek word ‘pneuma’, meaning that which is breathed – or blown.

Agnes is reluctant to disperse or lie down. I’m unsure whether she’s a companion, or a proxy who’s been hiding in one of my recesses. For now, she settles into tide watch. I will wait. Agnes, at her most osseous, must have a voice – chalky, no … airy, like the voice of a haar.

 

********

 

Voters’ comments included:

‘In Her Bones’ is a poem that really evokes a sense of peace and stillness. I loved the words and rhythm of this poem and the setting it describes.

The subject matter is very descriptive, giving one the feeling of being there, sitting next to Agnes & experiencing what she sees so that is why it gets my vote.

I can just picture Agnes on the bench staring out to sea eternally. Very powerful.

Original in conception and execution – graphic, brave and unpredictable – wonderful tender tone.

It’s so original in subject matter and intriguing. I love the language of the skeleton too

A novel prose poem (excuse the pun) –

[I chose it] because this is the first prose-poem I’ve come across which manages to hold and justify its shape without losing movement and momentum, like an articulated and articulate skeleton in fact.

Very intriguing imagery and beautifully worked concept of skeleton as eccentric person .

Captures the atmosphere of Berwick Pier and is a skilful use of [a] prose poem

Agnes is an intriguing character & I thought about her a lot after I read this poem. Ann Ryland is a really interesting poet and it’s great to see her exploring the prose poetry form.
 
I live in Berwick upon Tweed and I have often walked along that pier past the seats. The poem evokes feelings of Berwick’s history and Agnes could be anyone of the strong, patient and faithful women that belong to Berwick’s past.
 
Wonderful tone, and takes the reader on such a flight of the imagination! Surreal, wry and convincing.
 
This prose poem has a beautiful haunting flow.

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Michelle Wareham

 

 

 

 

Bottled eyes

I am here in this hover of flowers
counting eyelashes
and fingers and toes,

before I knew it I couldn’t breathe
for I lost my heart
in the quivering pollen.

 

 

 

Michelle Wareham is an Australian born poet living in London writing to express the strange and the ordinary that conflicts inside like duelling conquistadors. She has written two novellas (Leatherback and Under Gaslight – the latter shortlisted in Amazon’s curated Kindle Single List, 2014.) Her poetry has appeared in small presses online, such as streetcakemagazine.com, and print – eg The Journal this autumn/winter.  Facebook: /MichWareham Instagram: /nadir_nascent

 

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Stefan Parker

 

 

Inside

Your heart
is a foot pedal
on an airbed
pumping away,

as I feel your first kick
at this late hour.
My hand on the hillock;
a creeper on a gravid marble sphere.

Can you hear my voice
inside that colloidal world?
Was that a punch
against the dark cloud?

Our nocturnal colloquy
hastens into eruptive silence.
What nub enfaced the shell?
A shrimpy knee perhaps.

We exchange parts in the dark.
A string of berried vertebrae;
A knolled skull; a timorous elbow.
Only nature’s secret blind spot knows.

Over time there will be more
mute and balletic musculature;
but tonight we sleep as three,
cudgelling the dark for contact.

 

 

Stefan Parker: Born in Germany and residing just north of the M25. Daily practitioner of poetry in all forms. Once published fifteen years ago and never tried again. Fine-tuning the form ever since.

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Angela Readman for National Flash-Fiction Day

 

 

Letters to a Pizza Company

  

Dear Papa John’s,

Let me tell you something I’ve been thinking. I have some pizza concerns. I enjoy the odd slice on Thursdays. Once I’ve put the children to bed, swished out their Disney cups, ironed, and packed their school bags, I bring whatever they leave in from work.

  I like the fellow offering pie on your lid. He looks friendly, this Papa John, like a father who works to make sure everyone eats but has a slight sorrow in his eyes. I can see he’d never let it get in the way. He’ll swirl dough in the air forevermore.

   He’d be disappointed by your cheese protectors though. Excuse me if this isn’t the correct word. You might have another. Dough Saver. Crust Hero, something like that. I’m no expert. Whatever you call it, it’s that round bit of leggy plastic that stops cheese sticking to the box. There’s so much more you could do.

   I’ve noticed it looks like a small table, the sort people sit at outside cafes sharing sorbet. I have an idea. You should make some shaped like small chairs or stools. (for garlic bread, perhaps?) Children could play with them and imagine very small people in tiny cafes. This way, I wouldn’t have to throw so much away and could stop thinking ‘what a waste.’.

 Looking forward to hearing from you,

 

Ilona

 

~

 

Dear Coke-a-Cola,

Today I bought your product, which you’ve recently decorated with people’s names. I saw a man on the bus with a label that said Ivan. And even though it was Sunday and I had to work, it made me smile. I looked at him and thought he didn’t look like an Ivan. He looked like a Tom, a Tom stuck with Ivan. He’d hear people call him all day and it would always sound strange. It was good to know.

   I switched buses and used the opportunity to purchase cola, but I couldn’t spot my name. I riffled through the fridge trying to find myself and had to settle with Fiona.

    I drank and felt I was lying to the woman beside me. This woman who was probably thinking: There’s Fiona, enjoying her cola.

   Please expand your range of labels. Or, consider replacing your names with something else. Perhaps someone’s favourite song? Or the pet they love? That way we could look at strangers and know: Oh, that lady loves Bright Eyes. That man has a rabbit. It wouldn’t matter so much that no one talks. When people yell, ‘Go home’ I’d stare at their hands and understand they just want something to stroke.

I hope you appreciate my suggestion,

 

Ilona

 

~

 

 

 

Dear Papa John’s & Coca Cola,

Thank you for your reply, but my daddy won’t be able to take me for free pizza and cola. I have kept the coupons however, I’ve papered them to the wall in my room. Free sausages, burgers, fries, skittles. I have vouchers for free everything, except time.

 

 

 

 

Angela Readman’s stories have won The National Flash Fiction Day Competition, The Mslexia Prize and The Costa Short Story Award. Her collection Don’t Try This at Home won The Rubery Book Award and was shortlisted in the Edge Hill.  She’s also a poet. Her latest book is The Book of Tides (Nine Arches, 2016.)

 

More about NFFD: http://nationalflashfictionday.blogspot.com

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