To Celebrate ‘Light’ for National Poetry Day: Grant Tarbard, Graham Mummery, Jennifer A McGowan

 

 

Here is the Lampshade

 

 

Here is the lampshade, spiderweb Eden,

where I read under the unscrewed bulb of

a witches shawl. My sloe evenings spent

reading birth certificates and samples

of wallpaper manuscripts full to the

brim with deflated drunks teetering with

ruin. There’s a bust of grief in those dog

eyed caviar pages, rich but onyx,

wild with heads of captured beasts, suburban

prophets high with dance of the Mad Hatter

and amnesia of days spent foolishly,

read on the luminescent filament

bedding, slavering with morphine’s saffron.

With shovels of hands I dig through the sheets.

 

 

 

Grant Tarbard‘s first chapbook Yellow Wolf is out now, published by WK Press, his first full collection published by Lapwing and a collection published by Platypus Press will be both out next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of the Light

 

 

At a few million degrees centigrade

gasses in a furnace

heat up …  ignites

a frenzied disco dance

to Hoyle’s equations.

Quarks, protons, neutrons fuse.

 

The supernova explodes…

 

Hydrogen becomes helium

becomes oxygen

spreads out in nebulous masses

to make up

a horse’s head

a crab’s claw

a molecule that some day

will form part of a sandwich

Gell-Man eats as he reads Finnegan’s Wake.

 

The page is full.

 

I put my pen down,

go to a coffee shop.

Für Elise plays from a tape.

 

An angel steps

out of the light

from a display of cups.

 

You smile:

“Hello. How’s the poem doing?”

 

 

 

 

Graham Mummery worked for many years in investment banking before becoming a psychotherapist. His poems have appeared in many magazines and his first full collection, Meeting My Inners (Pindrop Press) has just appeared.

 

 

 

Secretary of God

Our Lord has often revealed his secrets to the world through women.  –Christine de Pisan

 

These are not my words.

I drank God straight from the well.

 

I move through hours.

Predictions drip and pool.

 

When they burn the fields,

I taste ash.  Tell me

 

this isn’t beautiful.  I sink

downwards,  a red moon

 

paling and losing its breath,

words coming from nowhere.

 

Write it like revelation:

this white, white light.

 

 

Jennifer A. McGowan has published poetry and prose in many magazines and anthologies on both sides of the Atlantic, including Pank and The Rialto. Her chapbooks are available from Finishing Line Press and her first collection is from Indigo Dreams. Her website can be found at the unimaginatively-but-accurately-titled http://www.jenniferamcgowan.com .

 

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To Celebrate ‘Light’ for National Poetry Day: Susan Castillo Street, Jane Lovell, Jessamine O Connor, Jessica Mookherjee

 

 

Lucy

 

In the painting, she’s a young girl

with flowing chestnut hair.  Her tunic

veils the swell of adolescent breasts.

Around her shoulders lies a russet velvet cloak.

In her hands she holds a plate

on which lie two eyes.  Two fried eggs,

they gaze up at us mournfully.

 

When she said no the suitor

chosen by her father, she was sentenced

to be ravished.  Divine forces put a stop to that,

stopped ravening wolves straight in their tracks.

They tried to burn her then, gouged out her eyes. The flames went out,

leaving pale wisps of smoke.  Finallly, they pierced her heart,

killed her with a silver sword.

 

But she ended up with the last laugh.

This valiant girl, face pocked with empty sockets,

is known as Lucy, deliverer of maidens,

patron saint of light.

 

 

 

Susan Castillo Street is a Louisiana expatriate and academic who lives in the Sussex countryside. She is Harriet Beecher Stowe Professor Emeritus, King’s College, University of London, and has published two collections of poems, The Candlewoman’s Trade (Diehard Press, 2003) and Abiding Chemistry, (Aldrich Press, 2015). Her poems have appeared in The Missing Slate, The Stare’s Nest, Ink Sweat & Tears, Nutshells and Nuggets, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Snakeskin, Literature Today, The Yellow Chair Review,York Mix and other reviews. She is a member of three poetry groups: 52, Goat, and High Wealden Poets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palestine Sunbird

 

He has a quiet belief in angels,

sees them carry souls into the ether

their great wings barely ruffled by the air.

 

Each dawn, he watches them approach across

the sands, hovering on iridescent wing

as they shimmer in the heat, their brilliance

reflected in his eye.

 

Evenings, he suspends his tiny body from a vine

while beetles measure out their battlefields below

in clicks and spars.

 

He dreams he’s not alone

but flies great tree-scapes in the sky with others like him,

funnelling the long salt wind, its rush of phosphorescence,

through his hollow bones.

 

But he is old, knows that one night as he sleeps,

the angels will embrace him, lift him from his brittle form

and steal him, float him far into the ether,

 

each neat, green feather tucked

into a final jolt of light.

 

 

Jane Lovell lives in Rugby, Warwickshire. Her poems, which have been published in a range of journals including Agenda, Poetry Wales and Mslexia, focus on our relationship with nature, from a flea wearing tiny jewelled boots created by a Russian miniaturist to a circus elephant butchered during food shortages in post-war Vienna. Threads of folklore and science run through her work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scan

Alien inside, spooky grey on the screen

All squirming bones and hollow eyes

Growing in the dark

Stamping out a space for itself

In the warm igloo of my insides

 

As my neck lies twisted towards the monitor

It rolls away, turns a bony back to us

The scan lady laughs, freezes the moment

The cold shoulder

I recognise instantly the child of my lover

 

 

 

Jessamine O Connor is a poet, and facilitator of ‘The Wrong Side of the Tracks Writers’ and ‘The Hermit Collective’. Award winning and widely published, she is judge of the ‘New Roscommon Writing Award 2015’ and soon to be ‘Featured Poet International’ for Muse-Pie Press.

 

 

 

 

Dawn Chorus

 

He saw me in a late night shop

buying Marlbro Lights.

I only remember his beard – nothing else,

I didn’t think about how he looked

at me.

He asked me out for dinner –

what went through my mind was did I look

like I needed feeding

or just like someone who’d say yes

to a chicken dinner.

I didn’t know then, that to all men

a seventeen year old girl is beautiful –

even with ample flesh, spiked purple hair

and art school clothes.

I can’t remember a single thing about him,

just the taste of the chicken fricassee,

the cushions of the limousine and the dawn chorus,

before light

as he drove me home.

 

 

Jessica Mookherjee was raised in Wales to Indian parents, lived most of her adult life in London and has recently moved to Kent. She studied biological anthropology and now works as a consultant in public health. She has recently had poems accepted by Agenda and Antiphon.

 

 

 

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To Celebrate ‘Light’ for National Poetry Day: Sarah James, Jan Harris, Victoria Gatehouse

 

 

 

Against Candlelight

 

As marbled wax melts, flickers

of unknown lives beckon

from fire’s hypnotic chaining.

 

Colliers, chandlers and cavemen

gaze with me: my desk a shock

of print-outs, letters and confusions.

 

I try to rope these family scraps

together, to secure

the past on which I exist,

 

but the string I have twisted

to makeshift wick

coils downwards, limply.

 

A bread-thief stoned to death,

the wyuen pine of a ducking-stool,

Saxon kings’ golden burial mounds…

 

Bones beneath the ground;

memory in black smoke.

I feed the paper skeleton

 

of my great-great-grandmother’s unwed pain

to the wick’s relentless flame,

then pinch out its burn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah James’s latest collections include ‘plenty-fish’ (Nine Arches Press) and ‘The Magnetic Diaries’ (KFS), which was highly commended in the Forward Prizes and staged at The Courtyard, Hereford. Winner of the Overton Poetry Prize 2015, her website is at www.sarah-james.co.uk.

Note:  First published in ‘plenty-fish’, Nine Arches Press, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

While all is quiet

 

She steals time while others sleep,
plucks seconds from the night
and cups them in the pale moon of her hands.

While the house collects its breath
she gathers up the bustle of the day
and strains it through a muslin cloth:
spent elderflowers,
sharp lemon twists,
pips and woody stalks,
discarded.

In the silence she sips her wine
and warms the golden liquid on her tongue.
It floods her mouth with light
till morning clamours like a hungry child.

 

 

Jan Harris lives in Nottinghamshire.  In 2015 her work has been published in Snakeskin, Envoi, Abridged, and Poems for a Liminal Age, an anthology in aid of Medecins Sans Frontieres.  Two poems were highly commended in the Chipping Sodbury poetry competition, and a tanka appeared in the Northern Health and Social Services Trust’s Colour of Poetry exhibition.

 

Note: While all is quiet has previously been published by 14 Magazine.

 

 

The Moth

 

This is her time –

birds dark-stitching telegraph wires,

 

the woods blue-shadowed,

crackling with dusk.

 

The moon untethers her,

she pitches from fence to wall

 

to leaf, would hurl herself

for miles, such is her faith

 

and you think of how she gorged

on hawthorn and thyme, spun

 

herself a mantle, hung tight

inside the blackout

 

of her own skin

before the breakdown, the forcing

 

of all that remained

through the veins of her wings,

 

this lit-bulb junkie,

wrecking herself on your porch light.

 

 

 

Victoria Gatehouse lives in West Yorkshire. Her poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies including Mslexia, Magma, The Rialto, Poetry News, The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Furies and Her Wings of Glass. Competition placements include Ilkley, Mslexia, Poetry News Members’ Competition, Prole Laureate and The Interpreter’s House. Victoria is working on a debut pamphlet.

 

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To Celebrate ‘Light’ for National Poetry Day: Clarissa Aykroyd, Patrick Williamson, Catherine Edmunds

 

 

Thinking of Tesla on the District Line

 

 

Tesla, on the District line there’s a glimpse

of lights, a whole field of lights in darkness.

I think of you in Colorado Springs,

planting bright bulbs to transfigure the slopes.

Sparks leapt and snapped from your brain’s fiery flint.

And later, in New York, the white pigeon

came to you, a lightning fall to your hands.

Tesla, you couldn’t shake hands with people

but you greeted radiance. I think of you

in darkness, where the lights have no end.

 

 

Clarissa Aykroyd grew up in Victoria, Canada, and now lives in London, England. Her work has appeared in The Missing Slate, Shot Glass Journal, And Other Poems and Poetry Atlas, as well as anthologies, and she is a Pushcart Prize nominee. She is the author of a blog on poetry, The Stone and the Star (www.thestoneandthestar.blogspot.co.uk). Find her on Twitter: @stoneandthestar

 

 

 

 

Quince tree

 

Pushing rubbish into its bin, a sliver of a broken bottle dug into my fingernail.

The backyard flickers with city blue. The painter’s stroke distances itself from the plumb.

 

The dream of light and truth slips away, quinces swell on the tree arched with winter.

The stiff angle of his fingers, measures up eye to block. I forget, my blood loss congeals.

 

Sunlight momentarily cuts through, the leaf gnarled quince falls, harmony transfixed.

Peering over half-moons, sleeping, tight lipped, he lets fall the prism.

 

 

 

Patrick Williamson lives near Paris. Poetry: Gifted (Corrupt Press), Beneficato and Nel Santuario (both English-Italian; www.samueleeditore.it). Editor of The Parley Tree, Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World(www.arcpublications.co.uk).

 

 

 

 

Long way home   

 

Albert trundles the trolley along the gritted path.

 

He needs to return to the supermarket

millions of silent miles away.

 

Scorched light shines on his hunched

and purposeful back. Nobody else

is here to see his mean clarity. He blasphemes

under his breath

when one of the wheels catches

judders

moves on.

 

His face is red: part from exertion

and part reflected light from the planet’s surface

 

He will never reach Asda.

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine Edmunds: Next year sees the publication of a fully illustrated collaborative novel. http://www.freewebs.com/catherineedmunds/

Note: Long Way Home was previously published in ‘word gathering’ and erbacce 42

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To Celebrate ‘Light’ for National Poetry Day: Jody Porter, Stephen Bone, Angela Topping

 

 

 

Heat

 

In these heat days

when the sun displays a fiery godhead

and ordains the liquefaction of Tarmac

 

and the deadest of nights bring a crackle of crickets

and all the bedrooms burn in airless struggle

 

to turn the pillow then and face its coolness

is like the ocean’s hand upon your cheek

and is the sweetest saviour after love.

 

 

Jody Porter is poetry editor of The Morning Star. His work has appeared in Magma, Best British Poetry (Salt) and elsewhere. Originally from Essex, he now lives in London and runs events at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival.

 

 

Windfall

 

I watch the shallow rise

and fall of your chest

as you sip thimblefuls

of air. Listen to the clock

move on the day, the tea trolley

come and go. I tidy your bottles,

touch your face. Tidy them again.

I pour water, wind your watch.

Open the blind; a windfall

of sunlight drops around your bed.

I gather it up.

 

 

 

Stephen Bone‘s work has appeared in various journals in the U.K.  and U.S. First collection In The Cinema, available from www.playdeadpress.com and from Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Morning

 

Dawn rises slowly over the Straits,

creeping light slips through the mist.

The pines observe like sage old men.

Across the water, mountains

keep fast their secrets. I would

bring you a morning such as this

to walk through woods in, our skin

turning from blue to ivory as broad day

replaces the shreds of night.

 

 

 

Angela Topping has published seven full collections and three chapbooks, all with reputable publishers. In 2013 she held a writer’s residency at Gladstone’s Library and won first prize in the Buzzwords competition judged by David Morley Her poems have appeared in over 50 anthologies and many magazines such as Poetry Review and London Magazine.

From The Way We Came (bluechrome 2007)

 

 

 

 

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To Celebrate ‘Light’ for National Poetry Day: Bethany W Pope, Roddy Williams, Jean Atkin

 

 

Midnight Illness

 

Home is only ever found in glimpses,
the night-fragrance of a lover’s shoulder,
the warm throb of the pulse beneath the skin
of the throat, the green scent of trees captured
in the pages of the right kind of book.
You feel ‘home’ in a burst of pleasant light
that flares in the tissue hidden behind
the string-like nerves of your eyes. It remains
unnamed until the golden warmth consumes
a cavity. Melancholy swarms in
and then you learn that, yes, you really had
something beautiful — for a little while.

 

Bethany W Pope has published several collections of poetry: A Radiance (Cultured Llama, 2012) Crown of Thorns, (Oneiros Books, 2013), The Gospel of Flies (Writing Knights Press 2014), and Undisturbed Circles (Lapwing, 2014). Her first novel, Masque, shall be published by Seren in 2016.

 

 

 

Light

 

light has been sinking into me since nineteen fifty nine

my shadow points at where it should have been

and tells me most of it is reflected,

random photons streaming away

but some, some gets inside.

 

it pours in through the eyes

and my hair, at least the dark bits,

and the blue-black grating

of my tattoo

or into the dark scab

where i cut my finger

exchanging blood for brightness.

 

i think of starlight

it’s travelled all that way

from before we even evolved

into things that know what stars are

or that their light sinks into us,

fills us with bright wonder.

 

 

Originally from North Wales, Roddy Williams lives and works in London. His poetry has recently appeared in ‘Popshot; ‘The North’, ‘Magma’, ‘The Frogmore Papers’, ‘Obsessed With Pipework’ and other magazines. He is a keen surrealist photographer and painter.

 

 

Shackleton

 

From deck, ice binds the span of what he sees
and moonlight etches out volcanoes

distant but distinct.  Without the wind, a spell is cast.

Dark against the shining plain each shadow
of each peak and rock leaps up.

He sees Erebus raised to outer space

and hears the first dog’s howl into the roof of south,
the note’s decay and then the new plaint

relayed through the pack.  And then,

no more.  He listens for the freezing
of his exhaled breath instead.

And the dry air rustles with his lungs’ faint leaves.

Afar, a line of mountains, south, and south of thought.
Let me taste the whole of it, he said.

 

 

 

Jean Atkin is a poet, writer and experienced educator, based in Shropshire. Her collection Not Lost Since Last Time is published by Oversteps Books and she has also published five poetry pamphlets and a children’s novel. She has held residencies in libraries, museums, festivals and even a beach and she works as a poet and writer on projects in both Scotland and England. She is Poet in Residence for Wenlock Poetry Festival 2015-16.    www.jeanatkin.com

Note: Shackleton used to recite from Browning while on watch on the ‘Discovery’ on Captain Scott’s expedition to Antarctica. ‘Let me taste the whole of it’ from Prospice by Robert Browning. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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To Celebrate ‘Light’ for National Poetry Day: Carole Bromley, Vivien Jones, Jaqueline Saphra

 

 

Darkling

 

 

It grew late and started to darkle.

I know, I know but I’m feeling archaic, OK?

If I want to go all poetic, I will. If I want

to go back to the fifteenth century

that’s my call, alright? If you don’t like it

I suggest you get out of my poem.

Anyway, as I was saying, it darkled

and somebody told the moon.

 

He came up with the goods. He likes

a bit of darkling, does the moon.

It’s right up his street. Just the moon

and you and me at that door

where the moths got all confused.

Afterwards, I sat on the CO’s swivel chair

and watched them on the monitor

hurling themselves at the light.

 

Your dark hair was my undoing,

not to mention your heart.

Oh your hair was beautiful,

as Blondie sang, back in the day

when she was plain Debbie Harry

and all the boys in 4G lusted after her.

If there are shades of black

yours was the blackest, it was off the chart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carole Bromley‘s second collection, The Stonegate Devil, will be published by Smith/Doorstop in October. website http://www.carolebromleypoetry.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Thunderhead Light

 

 

Thirty miles of visibility

makes a window onto

the shining estuary and

black mountains beyond

with charcoal piles of cloud,

lit through with lightning,

lightening themselves by

shedding white sheets of rain.

 

The light is silent : nevertheless it

howls with energy, with imminence,

a spotlight on the grey curtains

that will part and loose the bolt.

 

Oh we are children again,

safe in the car watching,

secretly fearful that

the thunder will come close

and we will wet ourselves.

 

 

 

 

Vivien Jones  Her first poetry collection was – About Time,Too  (Indigo Dreams Publishing  in September 2010)  In that year she also won the Poetry London Prize.

She has completed a second short fiction collection on a theme of women amongst warriors – White Poppies (2012) 1950s. Her second poetry collection is –‘Short of Breath’  

(November 2014 Cultured Llama Press)

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy Who Flew in His Sleep

 

Some nights, my children will not sleep. They fear weightlessness,

the madness of the sandman, the map a mind might draw when left

to wander, the sharp turn of a dream, the hot patter of falling stars.

 

I comfort them with warm milk, carry them to my bed, tell them

the story of this mattress: fibres conjured by engineers to hold

an astronaut amid the turmoil of incomprehensible space.

 

I watch them sleep beyond my gravity, the flicker of small eyes

under private paper lids. I think of a boy I knew who walked

in his sleep, whose wish for wings, the story goes, led him to the roof

 

and over the edge. I swear he’s still afloat the way his dream foretold

beside that fifth floor window, the breeze rocking him like a cradle.

Sometimes I think it’s really him. Sometimes I have to pinch myself.

 

 

 

Jacqueline Saphra‘s first collection, The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye), developed with the support of The Arts Council of England, was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2011.  ‘Geometry’ appears in The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions.

 

 

 

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