Alix Scott-Martin

 

 

Sisters

We found her at the bottom of the garden
like a dropped apple,
held her in the hollows of our palms
afraid we might spill her
now that she was ours.

We kept her in an ice cream box,
lined it with kitchen roll,
pierced the lid for air,
made a matchbox bed snug with cotton wool
and that night she slept under a skewer hole sky.

We put a brick on the lid
when she tried to escape and to stop the
cat who heard her scrabbling fingernails.

We were naughty –
held her eyelids down
and brushed them blue
with Mummy’s make-up from the drawer,
rouged her cheeks.
We stripped our Barbies,
laid them tits up and
dressed her in their mini skirts
and netted gowns,
pushed her feet
into tiny plastic shoes,
cut her long hair short
to make her sexy.

We loved her all winter,
took turns to pop her in our pockets
and let her run along our arms.
It was your idea to sprinkle her with salt
like slugs. We tried pepper too,
giggled at her tiny atchoo.
We filled the basin to see if she could swim,
squealed when we almost lost her
as the water slurped and gargled
down the plughole.

When we found the box in the spring
we didn’t want to lift the lid –
held it at arm’s length –
would have walked away
if it wasn’t for the stink.
We peered inside – you retched.
We brushed her into the compost bin
with the egg shells and grass –
tried to forget those little rigid hands.

 

 

 

Alix Scott-Martin has been an English teacher for the past 16 years. She is currently living in Rugby with her husband and two sons. Originally a linguist and translator, two recent Arvon foundation courses with Caroline Bird and Mark Haddon inspired her to start writing creatively again.

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Michael W. Thomas

 

 

The living-rooms of people in later life

The living-rooms of people in later life
are sometimes a mess
as though they also must over time
droop and unhinge.

Most, though, are tidy
their lines of reach and access as clear
as traceries of rain on sunlit webs
their variegated bits of stuff somehow aware
they must wait out the young-old years
the last go of apple health
and then themselves shine
quietly promote the critical button
the necessary switch.
Remotes are always to hand
immortal pets
save when they aren’t
when they must be arraigned
among those boxes on that shelf
by the door from kitchen to garage
but that’s just their way.

The living-rooms of people in later life
are a circle of wagons
that tighten while everyone is out
still taking the seasons on the nose
until that’s that for that.
Then they are proper glad
of the hand-span narrows
the carpeted O
knowing that beyond has become steeps and plains
where old fires gutter
where the staircase conjures
ever and again an extra step
where the loft revolves unsorted
the moon of a planet
that once was lived right down to the metal
the finger-sifted earth.
 

 

 

Michael W. Thomas’s latest novel is Pilgrims at the White Horizon.  Poetry collections include Batman’s Hill and Early and Late.  Publications in The Antioch Review, Critical Survey and the TLS.  In 2015, his novella, ‘Esp’, was shortlisted for the UK Novella Award. Links: www.michaelwthomas.co.uk ‘The Swan Village Reporter’ http://swansreport.blogspot.co.uk/

 

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Julie Mellor

 

 

bad dream

malum somnium

 

a found poem

 

as the daughter of a bankrupt businessman

I’m into men in prison and the hashtagged word

 

erasure of memory is the abiding theme

trying to hurt a person’s physical being

cum fundis et sagittis amoris

            with slings and arrows of love

while the war goes largely unmentioned

 

I’m rarely this lyrical but year by year

I’m inching slowly towards a now

where we’re expected to agree

that the bitter medicine is good for us

 

it goes beyond friendship

vadit ultra politica

            it goes beyond politics

it goes beyond fear of writer’s block

this fascination with the truth

behind the truth as it’s presented

 

the silence that precedes the nightmare

 

 

 

 

Julie Mellor holds a PhD from Sheffield Hallam University. Her poems have appeared in various magazines and her pamphlets, Breathing Through Our Bones (2012) and Out of the Weather (2017) are published by Smith/Doorstop. She blogs at  http://juliemellorpoetsite.wordpress.com

 

 

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Robert S.Daley

 

 

 

The Stony Heart

We had travelled thousands of kilometres across Australia in a Jeep Wrangler, through sagebrush and spinifex and red sand to get to the centre of this world. But it was not our world. I felt just as lost in Melbourne after my wife left me and the kids.

As we drove around Uluru, its shadows hid and re-appeared as if playing a child’s game. Other tourists took walking tours – my good friend Declan and I sat on the base. The rock pulsated with changing shades of crimson and pastel orange. I stared into the abyss and thought to myself, somewhere out there, a kangaroo is bounding with joy.

The Anangus believe that by touching the boulder they can experience Dreamtime. I wondered what my ancestral beings would tell me now? Don’t give up. I said a quiet prayer to a quiet desert, placed my hand on the stony heart, and felt oven glove warmth.

 

 

 

Robert S.Daley is a mental health nursing student at the University of the West of England. He resides in Stroud, UK. He has previously lived in Hong Kong, Australia and Japan and travelled extensively.

 

 

 

 

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Alison Binney

 

 

 

#WhyIDidntReportIt
 
All he was doing was standing alone in the pool,
spreading his arms out the width of the double lane,
just looking,

all he was doing was taking the point you’d just made,
making it over again to the rest of the team,
just helping,

all he was doing was having a bit of a laugh,
catching the eyes of his mates as he cracked out the gags,
just joking,

all he was doing was penning his piece for the Mail,
taking a pop at the PM’s penchant for high heels,
just teasing,

all he was doing was pressing his thigh against yours,
nudging it closer the further you moved yours away,
just stretching,

all he was doing was telling you how hot you were,
yelling it out of his car as you waited to cross,
just saying,

all he was doing was walking you back from the pub,
slipping his hand down the back of your favourite jeans,
just flirting,

all he was doing was showing you how much he cared,
stopping your mouth with his arm when you started to scream,
just fooling,

all he was doing was shielding a friend from the mob,
urging his nation to think of its husbands and sons,
just tweeting,

I have no doubt that, if the attack was as bad as she says,
charges would have been immediately filed by either her
            or her loving parents

 

 

 

 

Alison Binney teaches English  in a secondary school and also works on the PGCE English Course at the University of Cambridge. She has recently had poems published in Magma, The North, The Fenland Reed and Under the Radar.
 

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Jude Cowan Montague

 

 

 

Royal Enfield

I wish, when I go to Goa, I could see my father
riding a Thunderbird down the dusty streets
chasing the final adventure. He might drive right past me,
enthralled with his midnight machinery,
the carburettor chugging, recalling to him the gradient
of the Pennine roads, reminding him of the thrill of push-biking
over the Snake Pass, swaggering, deviating down the diagonal,
clinging onto his two wheels for dear life.
Dad. You made it through those dangerous days,
though if we are to believe in the multiverse,
many of your parallel selves would not be so lucky.
In one of those alternatives, you’re still here, you’re still there,
sputtering up the coast, avoiding the feral dogs.
and I spot you, gobsmacked, dropping my bottle of coke.

 

 

Jude Cowan Montague worked for Reuters Television Archive for ten years. She produces The News Agents on Resonance 104.4 FM. Her most recent album is Hammond Hits (Linear Obsessional, 2018).

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Oz Hardwick

 

 

 

 

Off-Peak Single

 

The turnstile jammed, trapping me half way through, casting me in the role of inconvenience for the queue that gathered in Fibonacci curves, bristling with smartphones and resentment. I scanned and inserted my ticket at every possible angle, then the same angles again but in a different order, but the gate didn’t move and the crowd swelled, became unruly, pleading and threatening. On the other side, the hall had emptied, fallen to silence as the lights went out. My ticket wore thin, and when I lifted it to my eye I could see through it to the desperate, angry, Biblical mass who looked to me for the release of all their earthly cares, or at least for loaves and fishes. By the time the ticket had fallen to fine powder, the turnstile was thick with moss, with small shrubs chancing their tentative lives in this emerging world. Bees waggled their stories of new terrain, and a yellow songbird scored its eloquent truth. My hands throb with the primal power of mulch and loam, my fingers unfolding in the prestidigitation of new life. I regret to inform you of the cancellation of all services. Let there be light.

 

 

 

 

Oz Hardwick is a York-based poet, photographer, occasional musician, and reluctant academic. His latest publication is a prose poetry chapbook, Learning to Have Lost (Canberra: IPSI, 2018). His ambition is to play bass in a Belgian space-rock band. www.ozhardwick.co.uk

 

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