On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, we bring you Neil Fulwood and Mick Corrigan

 

 

 

Smokeless Zone

Without chimney pots
the sooty mythology
of Father Christmas

would be written out
and B&E escapades
redefine Santa

as cheap housebreaker.
Milk and biscuits would be daubed
with anti-theft paint

and stark posters ask
“have you seen this reindeer team?”
Dogs would bark at vans

mistaken for sleighs.
Neighbourhood vigilantes
would aim for the skies

 
Neil Fulwood is co-editor, with David Sillitoe, of More Raw Material: work inspired by Alan Sillitoe (Lucifer Press, 2015), an anthology of prose, poetry, photography and artwork featuring 52 contributors, which took a year to bring to fruition. Neil intends to have a quiet Christmas, a drunken New Year, then undertake something equally time-consuming and over-ambitious in 2016

 

 

Whitethorn at Christmas

 
Christ the tiger
prowling, amber eyed,
in patchy winter snow.
The fetch and carry
of frugal life,
stilled to a single
frozen breath.

Low canal bridges,
snug whispering stone
offers hollow shelter
to the apostate,
or Judas,
seeking a suitable tree.

Whitethorn denies
the bowed head, bended knee
gospel of submission,
singing instead a pagan joy
sunlight, moonlight, fertility,
wide eyed and bare arsed
beneath drifting dandelion seed.

This morning a heron
in the blue eye of winter,
begging the question;

will I go gentle
in to that good night?

I will in me bollix.

 

 

Mick Corrigan lives in Ireland with Trish his lifer and several devious dogs. His debut collection Deep Fried Unicorn was published in 2014 by Rebel Poetry Ireland.

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On the Sixth Day of Christmas we bring you Ralph Monday and Bethany W Pope

 

 

Holy Theotokos Save Us

 

In the cathedral empty of true feeling,

the icons are beautifully silent: blue and
green hues, golden halos, the choir in
perfect harmonies taking us across time,
space, to the beginning days when the
naming began, where we began that which
brought us here—

Why is it that we cannot remake

childhood myths into adult
acceptance?

Why are we broken and torn by stories

of the damned?

The Trinity intoned and like rote childhood

conditioning, I murmur most Holy Theotokos
save us—

from our own evil we are taught,

from the two that ate the forbidden,
the ban passed down from birth to death
like stars that never cease shining

so we are broken on the rack

signs everywhere: in malls or
bedrooms or social media or all
the flickering images passed by like
kaleidoscope snapshots which define
the words sung out in church hymnals

of that mythic time when we were never

given a chance—

but perhaps salvation is

loving those outcast, like us,
pardoning the unforgiveable,
accepting all that is broken by
broken words,

knowing that we are really plucked

as a wet body from
wet earth,

that if the words are cast off

they cease to matter.

 

 

 

Ralph Monday is an Associate Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN., where he teaches composition, literature, and creative writing courses. He has been published widely in over 50 journals including The New Plains Review, New Liberties Review, Fiction Week Literary Review and many others. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Houghton Mifflin’s “Best of” Anthologies, as well as other awards. A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014.

 

 

Self Portrait at 19; Christmas in Kansas

Pacing the hard-packed dirt floor of the basement,
my bare feet blackening, I’m desperate to block the
howling storms in my head. The house is silent
above me; my family asleep in their innocent beds, content
in their ignorance. I’m falling apart; unpicking my history.
Pacing the hard-packed dirt floor of the basement,
burning my body down to a gray wick — scented with sweat —
I use pain, as always, to prove my reality.
Howling storms rage in my head. The house is silent
as the manger — three days after Herod. Heaven sent
no bright angels to warn me.
Pacing the hard-packed dirt floor of the basement,
I can’t outrun the memory of the draughty barn I spent
my blood, died, and was reborn in when the rapist’s shovel struck me.
Howling storms in my head; the house is silent.
My father won’t talk about why he sent
me to the orphanage. He won’t speak the phrase to set me free.
Pacing the hard-packed dirt floor of the basement,
howling storms rage in my head. The house is silent.

 

 

Bethany W Pope is an award-winning writer. She has published several collections of poetry: A Radiance (Cultured Llama, 2012) Crown of Thorns, (Oneiros Books, 2013), and The Gospel of Flies (Writing Knights Press 2014), and Undisturbed Circles (Lapwing, 2014). The Rag and Boneyard has been accepted by Indigo Dreams for release in 2016. Her first novel, Masque, shall be published by Seren in 2016. Website: http://bethanywpope.com/

 

 

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On the Fourth Day of Christmas we bring you Katherine Stansfield and Reuben Woolley

 

 

No room at the inn                           

All the animals in the animal basket
wanted to go: Stegosaurus,
polar bears, Lego dog.
We let in a camel and a donkey
only on sufferance. They watched
from the back, blocked by pandas.

The crib was crammed: shoe-box
size, wooden, cotton wool snow
glued to the tin-foiled top. Our desert
in the dining room was cold.
Stacks of straw kept everyone
warm but because we wouldn’t do wisps
we lost baby Jesus early on.

The angel with a ‘gloria’ sash lashed
to the stable door was meant to be
ever-descending. We spent Christmas
knocking her off on the way
to the kitchen and having to rehang
her chipped china robe.

Each night we said sleep tight, Lego dog,
sleep tight, panda family, sleep tight,
Joseph and Mary, but when
we’d climbed the wooden hill
disaster struck our Bethlehem: the cat –
crib-fancier, straw-lover, jealous, always,
of religious icons – pushed
herself in, knocked everyone out.

 

Katherine Stansfield’s first collection, Playing House, was published by Seren in 2014. Her poems have appeared in various publications, including The Guardian online poem of the week, Magma and Poetry Wales.   Blog: http://katherinestansfield.blogspot.it/

 

 

promised an advent

we reached out for new days

said mary.it wasn’t

a question of comfort

&john came through

in tumult        a repeat

of doors
opening

he locked his steps behind him

said

grass will cover
the old & pissed on.glitter
distracts & distracts
we don’t see

the rusty times

i have

no doubt

he said        turning off

lights & carrying
candles

this will be

a final        strategy     to hold
& fuck
our bastard heads.lie

low

& let them play in sand

 

Reuben Woolley has been published in Tears in the Fence, The Lighthouse Literary Journal, The Interpreter’s House (forthcoming) and Ink Sweat and Tears among others. A collection, the king is dead, 2014, a chapbook, dying notes, 2015. Runner-up: Overton Poetry Pamphlet competition and the Erbacce Poetry Prize, both in 2015.

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