Eventual Return (Parts I and II)
You have frightened your father
with the early hour phone call
M11 A11 A14
To pinpoint your location
on the shaking map and keep
to guide those headlights
through the thunder
towards the farm
I have admitted to almost missing you
You have returned in the reflection of the
study window, as the blinds flit skywards
from my impatient grip
It was different then
That same house in which I gave good riddance,
thanked God on your disappearance, was all
because of age
A stage in life of understanding
younger siblings has
come to me finally
When your reflection comes closer
it arches left to the doorframe
and through it you burst into
the light of the hall
Jack Stevens has been writing poetry for the past five years, between musical projects that he performs in. His current band is called Cathedrals & Cars. He is yet to publish any of his written work.Read More
If love be rough with you, be rough with love
Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down
Elizabeth lies helium eyed, oscillating to swan lake, I start her
car, every time a nun passes the old brigade, I hear her name
washing like fields in my fingers, tripping the luckiest of lords
in 757s, as if we framed the motion of moons, her big five fall,
the ball she said goodnight, the rippled waves ripple goodnight
and under the balcony I was more alone than I’d ever felt
but Elizabeth, one last question: what if it’s immaterial?
‘If’ was the first word Romeo said to Juliet. It’s IF Elisabeth, if
I could dethrone your throne, if I could paint your lips palatine
If you appeared above me, as a canary, how could
I stand here with the arctic in view, pounding the trains
that pass by the river’s green, I love you Elizabeth with
all the love of a tear dropping from my face, my Elizabeth
my death will hurt the flowers, your death will hurt the flowers
but what else can we do? No one in this world wants us.
Charlie Baylis lives and works in Nottingham. He reviews poetry for Stride. His own creative writing has most recently appeared in Stride, Agave and Litro, he has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (UK) and nominated for a Pushcart Prizes (US)Read More
A tiny pot of Devon custard
I can still remember the smell in that bedroom, meaty, musky and sour like bad breath. I can feel the thick purple carpet pile tickling in between my toes, the cool smoothness of the sleek aubergine wardrobe doors as I would glide my hand down its glossy wood. You could see the rings of the wood but not feel them. I can hear the clunk click as the right hand door would spring open after I’d silently pushed it in, releasing it and its secrets. Open sesame.
The smell captured inside was pungent, and peppery. Forbidden and dark. Why did I search? What was I looking for?
The shelves; one with folded thin knit jumpers in colours you would see in the woods behind our house; like tree bark, misty muddied grey, mustardy yellow like when the leaves turn in autumn, and rich dark green. The shelf with neat folded buttoned up stripy shirts. Another with rolls of ties and bundles of socks, some old one’s tangled up at the left side. Red toes and green heels. The second shelf from the top like a little shop display of velvet boxes, belts in circles, and a bottle of Old Spice, unused. Letters and papers, all piled all messily on the right hand side. Corners all poking out, at odd angles.
I can remember the smell, in there. That time I found it. It smelled like my cat Figagro’s litter tray; stinky, old wee wee. I remember the feel of it. My hand found it first before my eyes saw. It was papery, hard, a roll of something. It felt a bit damp. Something around its middle like a bit of rubber or elastic. Whilst my hand brought it out from behind the neatly folded shirts for my eyes to see, my ears were picking up every little creak and moan of the house. I was home alone. Only my heart was making a loud galloping noise from behind my thin white jumper. I heard squeals from outside the bedroom window in the field behind the house. One, two, I could hear cries. A game of rounder’s? The light in the room was dim, lit only by the fading summer sun through the thin cream curtains.
In my podgy little hand, I looked down to see what is was. A roll of notes. A reddish coloured print. A thin pink twisted elastic band wrapped in figure of eight. Put it back. I turned it around and saw it said £20 in one corner. A wad of cash. I had never held even one £20 note before. Put it back. The smell, again musty, mouldy, a bit sharp on my nostrils. I remember gripping it and feeling…feeling…what? Power in my hands. How much was here, what could this buy? Heart hammering. Head throbbing.
I had held it tight in my hand. I didn’t want to open it out. But I had thought of earlier in the Spar. Mum had counted out her money onto the counter. Lots of brown coins.
‘Put the sausages back,’ she had whispered in my ear whilst smiling at the lady beeping our stuff through.
But she had let me keep the tiny pot of Devon custard.
I remember that I felt hot in my cheeks as I started to undo the springy pingy elastic band. Someone shouted out! in the field as I let the bundle of notes uncurl limply into my right hand. A stack, a stash. Why was it hidden? Take one. Take one. I’m ashamed now. I lifted the corner of one and sat it gently onto the double bed. Then I quickly rolled them back up and sprung and twisted the elastic band into a figure of eight. I then pushed it back behind the neatly folded shirts. I click clunked the door back shut and tip toed along the squeaky hall to my room. I shut my wooden veneer door, pulled open my wonky top drawer in my white dresser and I hid that note, scrunched it and crunched it up behind my bundles of grey ribbed socks, my Thursday pants with the little girl on them and the itchy jaggy elastic bit that hangs, and the greying vests. I hid it there, making my stuff smell of cats pee.
I don’t remember now what I did with it. I needed, wanted it for me. I wonder why I didn’t give it to mum.
Rhona Fraser Millar started writing prose and poetry following a course in Creative Writing with the OU. She is a regular contributor at creative writing website abctales.com. She is currently working with a Womentoring mentor and writing her first novel.Read More
Delicate milky buttons.
I am torn whether to destroy it,
or to pass the gift on whole -
that darn dilemma of taking or giving.
Forgive me for taking.
At the time I could not give,
I had nothing. Not even a button.
Not a sou, not a shekel, not a shilling.
My needle and thread serve me witness
for the cloth I have damaged.
See me make amends, squinting,
puncturing the fabric from the inside out.
Lee Nash lives and works in France, and has lived previously in the UK, South Africa and New Zealand. She freelances as an editorial designer for a UK publishing house, and is raising her two children.
Jonson Variation: A Toast to You
Drink to me only with your eyes
and my intoxication shall be wise.
I will not stagger, nor regret
a surfeit of caroused duet.
Let us quaff a mellow kiss
and I’ll be worthy, I promise.
I will not reel, inebriate,
as spirits roister, tête-à-tête.
I shall laud, with verse, with mirth,
your honor, health and day of birth.
Should you wish another toast,
I’ll festinate a fain riposte.
’Tis not the juice I seek in sips,
’tis the allusion of your lips
that I homage, raising a glass
which is the spouse of yours, dear lass.
Craig Kurtz resides at Twin Oaks Intentional Community where he writes poetry while simultaneously surviving the dream. Recent work has appeared in Aerie Literary Journal, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Burningword Literary Journal, Conclave: A Journal of Character, Danse Macabre, Drunk Monkeys, Maudlin House, The Penmen Review, Poetry Quarterly, Sediments Literary-Arts Journal, Teeth Dreams, Veil: A Journal of Darker Musings and Zouch Magazine.Read More
On the post-work bus
you chat with colleagues,
a counterpoint to their crew-cuts,
acne, Adidas trackies,
your paint-flecked beanie hiding
contemporary coiffure from the
vicissitudes of cement dust,
its wool displaying that authentic feel of
Nepal or the Orkneys
more than Primark polyester,
while their smooth chins
and sparsely sprouting stubble
quail before your fashionable wedge of beard
that I suspect of being anointed with product
in a daily regimen,
Zadok of the chin.
The checked shirt would create
a full lumberjack effect
except real timbermen
aren’t quite so willowy
and you lounge sans axe.
Dave Hubble is a newcomer to Poetryland but is a regular performer at events in the south of England. He has been published in places such as Rebelle Society and parkCulture, and can be found blogging at http://ellipsiad.blogspot.co.uk/
The South Starts Here
with houses, shacks,
piles of tyres, an airport hangar,
a Methodist church, a propane tank,
voids, that ramshackle Whispering Pines,
its shuttered shadow;
always something else burning,
forty three fires,
the 44th by a piece of cloth I lit.
with unsellable houses destined to crumble
in an emptying county
with flames spurting from farm outbuildings
- burned wood into crackle.
All I saw was orange in the air,
on unmarked drives veering off
into quiet dead ends
where people share last names
even if they don’t remember
how they share bloodlines.
No traffic off of 13, and deep country roads.
You never run out
of abandoned buildings there.
I had timed it perfectly,
on Valentine’s Day, an arson spree,
I let the hens out first,
too sensible to be caught.
Me, they called stupid, crazy,
close-cut red hair, goatee,
wide blue eyes, good run to bad.
Maggie Mackay, a co-editor at www.wordbohemia.co.uk and a second year student on the MA in Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, has work in several publications including Ink, Sweat and Tears, Bare Fiction and The Interpreter’s House, and forthcoming in Obsessed with Pipework.Read More