David Cooke

 

 

 

The Mechanical Turk

A neat contrivance of rods and cams
creates the illusion a hustler seeks.
His window dressing perfects
the hoax: the turban and robes
a thespian’s flourish. This season
Mechanicks is all the rage
in fairground shows and court,
where an empress cheats
but can’t outsmart some
gadget’s lack of class. It takes
a certain kind of flair
to plot the chequered board.
A wind-up toy takes on the best
in Europe’s brightest halls.
Its cunning leaps the gap between
what is thought and done.

 

 

 

David Cooke has had poems in Agenda, Ambit, The Interpreter’s House, The Irish Times, The London Magazine, Magma, The Manhattan Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Stand. His latest collection, After Hours, is available from Cultured Llama Publishing.

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Julia Lock

 

 

 

Light Bearer

I’ll leave Fear by the door,
you say as you step in.
You’re bone-weary, broken,
borne down by the weight you bring.
Shadows shrink from you.
Is it time?   I ask, for I know you after all.
Only for tea, you say.
I breathe,
then please, come, rest.

I glimpse the glints beneath your patched-up mac,
the soiled tips of feathers
trailing from beneath your hem.
When I take your coat,
beauty steals my breath.
You spray raindrops round my room
as you let your wings unfold,
as if you’d brought the clouds in.

No, it’s not your time. Not today.
I have come to sit, to weep.
Take these and with tenderness
you pull from a plastic bag
bright ribbons and threads of lives,
half-woven epitaphs.

I go to make your tea,
you, His best-beloved.

 

 

 

Julia Lock was born in London and has lived for many years in Budapest, Hungary where she has recently taken up demonstrating.  She is working towards her first  collection of poetry.

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October’s Pick of the Month is ‘The night that takes our shape’ by Phil Powrie

 

Phil Powrie’s ‘The night that takes our shape’, an ‘evocative, melancholy and beautiful’ poem is a much deserved Pick of the Month for October 2017.  This dark and haunting poem struck a chord with many who felt it was one for our times; its reach even went as far as Charlottesville in the US.

Phil writes books on French cinema, and teaches cinema and French at a university in the south of the UK. He has published poetry in South.

 

The night that takes our shape

afraid to abandon behind us the night that takes our shape
holding our candles like flickering flags
here am I a soldier here a priest each with a weapon
you march you pray in a patch of light

your limbs pull away like garlands
offered lightly to the clock’s lazy eyes
your hands clasp around mine
and you sing come dance with me come dance again

and march and pray
to hold the night at bay
to keep abstracted dark forever from the field

more than what we lost we regret what we never had
and dark shapes come to haunt us
marching and praying with their unbearable battalions

 

Voters’ comments included:

It is beautiful, so personal and yet so much about our times.

the candles in the night make me think of protests, Nazis with torches, counter protesters (this vote is from Charlottesville). I feel the darkness.

Elegant, succinct, evokes a clear image…

For its mood, and the melancholic form of dim extinguishing.

A refined and all at once unsettling use of the sonnet form

It’s beautifully compressed and suggestive — a small gem.

A powerfully evocative poem , tight, bare and visual

a moving poem, especially the way it sustains the multiple metaphor of darkness

the way it moves through night-time images, sensations and feelings like the mutable shadows one sees in the dark, like a dream.

powerful shifting imagery that avoids the predictable relationships that often render poems staid and overly familiar in their metaphorical usage.

lovely dark poem that fits our dark times and remind us of the need not to despair

I love the beautiful language and the carefully developed metaphors of the soldier and the priest.

An intriguing, suggestive, atmospheric piece of writing that lingers in the mind and repays close attention and rethinking.

…It spoke to me, especially the verse ‘more than what we lost we regret what we never had’. It evoked a friendship I recently lost, or better said never managed to have. This is very true.

A stirring evocation of the paradoxes of night and darkness–rebirth, certainly, but also mourning and loss.

This is a lovely poem that merges images of faith, war, and love.

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Kate Noakes

 

The proof of being able to cook

It’s happening again.
I can feel fat
settling around
my hips, adipose
in my bones
my scars stretching.

I don’t want it to set up home.
It’s as welcome
as a part-live frog
cat-left on a door mat
that thrashes and gulps
its skin unable
to breathe
its ripped body spilling
guts into the pile
a bilious experiment
in electricity.

I don’t need a night-stalker
to bring me this gift
this plenty. I must
seal my lips and burn.

 

 

Kate Noakes‘ fifth collection is Tattoo on Crow Street (Parthian, 2015). Her website (boomslangpoetry.blogspot.com) is archived by the National Library of Wales. She was elected to the Welsh Academy in 2011. She lives between Paris and London.

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Devika Basu reviews ‘Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral’ by Kiriti Sengupta

 

“I consider poetry my existence”— it is indeed a revelation on the part of a poet who has coined chiseled words from the depths of his heart to present this poetic trilogy, Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral, a genre quite unique in literature. The book takes us into a world of subtle nuances, where the ‘sacred’ and ‘ephemeral’ unite to make a complete ‘whole.’ My Glass of Wine is full to the brim and we, the readers, drink the elixir “to the lees.” With his subtle strokes of brush, Kiriti Sengupta transports us to a world where the concept of divinity is definitely multilayered. “I drank it first/ right after I was spiritually baptized” — the concept of Christian baptism and Tantra, the drinking goblet of Christ, red wine and ‘somarasa’ — all these images are in perfect consonance with the poetic fervor of Sengupta’s well-researched work.

The poetic journey goes on and the poet makes the readers feel the agony of crucifixion, which is bloody, and thereby makes the color symbolism more appalling to the readers: “They pinned it before, and will do that now and again…/ No arrangements of incenses though!”

After having dwelt on a world of colors, and reflecting on the awakening of Kundalini (spiritual awakening) with a view to “unveil the mysteries of life,” Sengupta enters into the realm of profound philosophy with a candid incantation of scriptures, where human beings are presented as trees, as embodiment of the reversal. He writes, “Reversal demands practice of the principles that lead us towards truth or realization.” This is, in fact, an introspective journey into the human psyche where Sengupta has heard the sound of the ‘unheard’ in “all works imperishable.” This is a realization of not only the poet, but also of a very sensitive human mind, where we can hear ‘unheard melodies’ from within.

Sengupta has also dealt with the reversal of the so-called concepts of sex and sexuality. Sengupta has raised some pertinent questions regarding the transgenders, Lara being the mouthpiece. The story of betrayal, her desire and the aversion of the society towards homosexuality, lesbianism — all these burning issues bear a poetic resonance in the mighty pen of Sengupta. “You will call it fetish, I guess … I need some cologne as I step out of my home … odor that is mine … physical … deceptive.”

Sex and sexuality are the areas rarely discussed within the arena of family members and this self-imposed taboo often bears perilous consequences. While reading the poems in the trilogy, the readers might be reminded of the overtly sexual references:

 

I have matched my lips

With the highs of your water

As you flowed joy

The Sun has dared to surface

On your mirror playing both

A she, and a he toy.”

 

Sengupta himself has labelled some of his poems as ‘omnigender’ and has put into question the traditional orthodox ideas about sex and sexuality.

How is society related to literature? Is literature a mirror of the society? Sengupta has tried to answer these questions, referring to the recent conflicts and the vested interest of the war-mongers, which is in sharp contrast to the “dharma yuddha,” a struggle for justice as envisioned in The Mahabharata; and The Gita bears ample testimony to the fact. Therein lies the dichotomy of existentialism, depicted by the author.

In Healing Waters Floating Lamps, the concluding part of the trilogy, we discover the myriad hues of poetry, a journey “beyond the eyes,” with images of the holy Ganges, Varanasi, where “water is not the fire-extinguisher.” Evening descends in Varanasi as a symbol of meditative, serene landscape where flames ignite to utter words of devotion. The ‘floating lamps’ are resplendent with life and the images of ‘fire’ and ‘water’ add to the grandeur of the poem “Evening Varanasi.” In the concluding part of the trilogy, we come across some intimate details which owe their origin to the Wordsworthian concept of poetry as “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” Sengupta pays tribute to his mother with such clarity of diction that we, the readers, are simply mesmerized: “I have seen my mother preparing Ghee out of milk/ She never used butter/ To clarify it further.” Sengupta has focused on the diversity of human life, moments of rapture as well as the pain of separation: “Not all rivers succeed to unite.”

An intuitive mind unravels the mystery of creation, the concept of ‘nothingness’ where the human body is confined within a ‘cage.’ The essential paradox of human existence depicted by Sengupta clearly reveals his profound knowledge of Indian philosophy.

 

The womb carries water — so do your eyes

Water builds the fetus

That becomes ‘I’

 

Sengupta’s confession is utmost here — the agony and ecstasy of creation portrayed in unequivocal terms. The deep-rooted sorrow, a sense of loss and bereavement touch the poet: “Few beautiful scratches deep within/ Soft marks, palpable even after months/ No wounds, but tiny scratches brown/ Soothing, mesmerizing in between.”

Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral is a poetic journey which enthralls the readers throughout; the temporal and the eternal converge within the poetic metaphors. The ancient scriptures, the Holy Bible are revered by Sengupta with proper diction. This poetic trilogy makes us think — we delve deep into the world where ephemeral becomes timeless and nothing is transitory. Even there is a positive note to enjoy life after death! Poetry is the alma mater of Dr. Sengupta and he has nurtured his verses with utmost care. As we go through his verses, we have an insatiable hunger to read more and we tend to build a bridge between poetry and life. As Sengupta started with an anecdote of Shesher Kobita, I may conclude my notes with Tagore: “Antore atripti robe/ Sango kori mone hobe/ Shesh hoye hoilo na shesh” [There will be a feeling of dissatisfaction/ Having finished/ We will feel/ This is not the end, but more to come].

 

Order your copy of Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral (Hawakal Publishers, Calcutta) by Kiriti Sengupta here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dreams-Sacred-Ephemeral-Kiriti-Sengupta/dp/9385782630

Devika Basu is a high-school English teacher, bilingual poet, translator and a lover of Spanish literature. She loves to explore the hidden treasures of different literary genres, with a special focus to poetry. Her published works include three books of poems. Her pen scribbles the diverse aspects of life and she loves to face the challenges of life. She has traveled extensively and she would like to walk across the inroads of life with poetry.

 

 

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Marc Woodward

 

 

 

Snipe

Her wet eyes were green as fenland water.
The twelfth day of August and she could hide
alongside you in her crypsis of hair
until it seemed that you might step on her –

then she’d be gone in a clatter of pans,
a flap of arms, a fluster of car keys.
I recall her whisper though, even now,
when she told me in her own thesaurus

how rain falls, how leaves fall, how there must be
a reckoning and some great final count.
Poor at consolation I took to maths
and numbered all the times I made her cry.

 

 

 

Marc Woodward is a musician and poet living in rural Devon. He has been widely published and his recent chapbook A Fright of Jays is available from Maquette Press. A full collection written in collaboration with well known poet Andy Brown is due out soon.

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Chris Hardy

 

 

Rare

Humiliated behind glass
black, point nosed
Beluga Sturgeon,
float on a terrace.

After the seminar
astronomers eat salad,
watch stars flick on.

I too am interested
in the Universe
but cannot see past

the cook picking up a glove
as grills glow red
in expectation.

*

If we leave now
we’ll reach the sea
tomorrow,

gathered above
a deep blue gulf,
where nothing swims

except ourselves
stick limbed
in the light filled surface

looking down,
and wondering
if what we do not know
is there.

 

 

Chris Hardy’s poems have been published widely and have won prizes. His fourth collection will be published this year. He is in LiTTLe MACHiNe, performing settings of poetry at literary festivals – best poetry band in the world according to Carol Ann Duffy.

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