Rehan Qayoom

 

 

 

Speak

after Faiz

Speak, because your lips are free
Speak, because you have a tongue
Because your golden body belongs only to you
Because you are still alive
See how in the blacksmith’s shop
The flame burns wild, the iron glows red;
The locks open their jaws,
And every chain begins to break.
Speak, for this moment is long enough
Before the death of the body and the tongue
Speak, because the truth lives yet
Speak, say what you have to

 

 

 

Rehan Qayoom is a poet, editor and translator educated at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has featured in numerous literary publications and performed his work at international venues. He has published 2 books of poetry.

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Danielle Hope

 

 

 

Cliff

You don’t remember this point?
A stone cottage balanced on a cliff.
It was spring, the previous guests left
thrift in an egg cup on the shelf.

You don’t remember the subterfuges -
changing history as easy as making tea.
White foam wore down stones
the bread tasted sugary.

You strolled down to the beech
along the paths of sheep
thought you saw a grey seal
beyond the place the wreakers used.

You swore you would never return -
seaweed wrote warnings on the sand.
But now you can’t recall
who was spared and who drowned.

 

 

Danielle Hope is a poet and doctor, originally from Lancashire, now living in London. She founded and edited Zenos, a British and international poetry magazine, worked for Survivors’ poetry, and is currently advisory editor for Acumen Literary Magazine. Her work has been published widely in magazines, anthologies and on the London Underground. She has published 4 collections with Rockingham press. Website www.daniellehope.org      Twitter @Danielle_Poet

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Monica Corish

 

 

 

Seven Winters
for Trish Howley

Once I lived beneath a lemon tree,
wore sandals all year long,

air on my skin, mud squelching
between my toes after sudden rain.

Seven winters have passed
since I last saw Africa, and I miss her:

a large and exuberant friend
who wears colours that clash,

who laughs louder than anyone else
in the restaurant, who sucks lustily on crab claws,

on the sour bite of a lemon.
I want to live with her again.

I want to make my house in a corner
of her courtyard, to smell like her,

of sandalwood, to watch her enormous
and flexible hips as she dances.

I want to live for one season more in a land
where rain is always a blessing.

O Summer, O Africa, O deathless Mama,
make a place for me at your table.

 

 

Monica Corish‘s poetry has been published widely, including Poetry Ireland, Orbis, The North, Causeway/Cabhsair, Artemis, THE SHOp, Cyphers, New Irish Writing and The Stinging Fly. Her first collection, Slow Mysteries, was published by Doghouse. www.monicacorish.ie

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Angela Readman for National Flash Fiction Day

 

 

 

So, You Think Your Mother is a Gorgon?

You suspect it when she looks at you and you freeze, unable to apologise, or leave. The words you could say are stones in your mouth, falling down your throat.

Observe her carefully to know for sure. Certainty can take years. Does your mother stare outside, look at the floor when the postman arrives? She answers the door in a bathrobe, hood pulled low. When’s the last time she met your eye? There’s a chance she’s afraid.

Consider the bathroom drawer, rattling with lipstick, powder, foundations. She stares into the mirror for so long some nights when she pulls away she looks surprised that she can. Does she lack the ability to leave the house without putting on her face, plastering it on? Has she been known to say, ‘Wearing sunglasses saves lives?’

There’s a chance she’s a gorgon. Look at how she moves, slowly, dragging herself off the couch, slanket stapled to the hip. Think about it, how often have you seen her legs bare? When’s the last time she danced? Count her shoes, pair after pair, bought, left in the box in the wardrobe, waiting to go some place nice. For some, some place nice never comes. There’s a reason she’s never had a pedicure. Are you sure of her feet?

Look at your father, when did you last see him shift? Does your mother dust around him, posted in front of the TV? Watch the way she sidles up to his cool open palm, curls hers into his like a sock rolled into a ball, and slinks off. Have you ever seen him slap her behind? Grab her, suddenly, kiss her for no reason, waltz in B&Q? Does he resemble a garden gnome?

There has to be a reason for so many concrete statues in her small garden: hedgehogs, spaniels, ducks, turtles, and so many boys. Notice how she lingers, watering the lawn, strokes the chests of stone men, a finger groove worn over their still hearts. Look away as she peels moss off speechless lips, tender as uncovering a kiss lost in thought.

This can happen to the best of us, don’t judge. There’s a chance your mother’s in recovery, know the signs. Has she suddenly,quit her landscape features business? Ditched her snakeskin crafts Etsy store? There are always curlers in her hair, always. Study her hands, the scales falling like rain, bites on her fingertips healing a little each day.

Look at her Things To Do List stuck the fridge 1) Try not to be a gorgon today. Observe the tattoo on her wrist of the face of her youth, the red bar across it like a No Smoking Sign. She stares at it, rips up old photographs and says: That’s not who I am now.

It is a battle keep gorganism bay, learn the signs, let her invite the guy from the reptile store over for dinner, struggle to understand his jokes. She is learning to laugh likes someone with instructions. The candle is lit on the table, spits. She listens to the soft hiss, fidgets with the wax.

You will find her in the kitchen clearing the plates, alone, clumps of spaghetti in her hand, fingers swirling, swirling the lengths. Tell her you understand.

 

 

 

Angela Readman‘s stories have been winners of The National Flash Fiction Day Competition and The Costa Short Story Award. Her debut collection, Don’t Try This at Home was recently published by And Other Stories. It won a Saboteur Award in 2015.

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Vasiliki Albedo Bennu

 

 

 

Landowner

You say you don’t remember
the time you slashed
your razor-palm across my cheeks.

When I fell to meet your shoe,
a flint of rage stabbed my gut again.
I remember well.

My friend from school was there.
When you were done she hurried home,
I crammed coins and clothes into my bag and left.

Two streets down you found me, rolled up
in your car with daisies from the garden.
I couldn’t leave. You are forever

folded within. Sending me flowers
with the right hand, while your left
is over my mouth.

Nights, when I have no defense
you jolt into my dreams to plough
your little plot within my heart.

 

 

 

Vasiliki Albedo Bennu has recently moved to Greece and works with renewable energy development. In her spare time she writes poetry, trains in martial arts and practices pouncing and stretching with her cat Bruce Lee. She has had poems published In The South Bank Poetry Magazine, the Ofi Press Magazine and Belleville Park Pages.

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Joe Cushnan

 

 

 

In Chartres

1

Young girl on a bench
Lights a cigarette,
Then, with her cigarette-holding hand,
Tries to put on sunglasses
And, with her camera-holding hand,
Tries to position herself
To take a photograph.
She fumbles,
She mumbles,
She almost drops the glasses,
Puts the cigarette in her mouth,
Puts the camera on the bench,
Tidies the glasses on her face
In a moment of sense to avoid a mishap.
Then, finally, she takes the photo
As a half-inch of ash drops onto her lap.

 

2

A small waiter grapples
To raise a large table umbrella,
Struggles to reach high enough,
His hand slips, au secours,
The umbrella collapses towards its pole
And he is almost swallowed whole.

 

 

 

Joe Cushnan is a freelance writer with a career in retailing behind him. His published work has included reviews, features and poetry in a wide range of media outlets.  He has written several books of fun verse and the biography Stephen Boyd: From Belfast To Hollywood.

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Andrew Wells

 

 

 

Blue Moon

I

blue moon from
drunk-ship said

I watch the purple-milk lake
& though my head
is ugly no

head has any use

 

II

rusted smear
or rain

by us the lake

is language

together

we needed it

 

III

time

devours me

though the whisperer

inside a beat

‘s at my chest

a black hand comes over it all

 

IV

an end to everything

was predicted

after black dust

last month

I woke to sunrise

in Rome’s wide street

 

V

my dreams lie

to me

there is no escape

from everything’s

cold death

whatever that won’t be

 

VI

what bitter ache

for here?

& by shadow

we urge

the raw

through pink

 

 

Andrew Wells is a writer and student based just outside of London. His recent work has appeared in HARK magazine and Cyberhex Press, among others.

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