Anthony Lawrence

 

 

 

Difference

 

The once-in-a-thousand-year-flood came and went.

We listened as though blood were a tide

our bedroom an ark. At dawn we understood

the full extent of what had occurred:

as there was no sun, we attended a critical mass

in our underwear. A town went by, followed

by a stunned population, all wearing plover masks.

You were at the window, giving a commentary

on the direction of the wind. I lay on the bed

listening to a public broadcast of the dangers

of being out alone, after dark. You reported

people walking through the steady rain

of a pamphlet-drop. I put the words diaspora

and exodus up for discussion. Your voice broke

with news of street executions being carried out

by gangs by torchlight. They say that hardship

calls forth the best and worst in relationships.

The sky was red, the ground white with ash.

By such extremes were our differences exposed.

 

 

 

Anthony Lawrence has published sixteen books of poems and a novel. He teaches Creative Writing and Writing Poetry at Griffith university, Gold Coast, Queensland and lives on the far north coast of New South Wales. Click here for more:  http://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poet/item/24676/15/Anthony-Lawrence

 

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Word & Image by Helen Pletts and Romit Berger

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words by Helen Pletts (www.helenpletts.com ) whose two collections, Bottle bank and For the chiding dove, are both published by YWO/Legend Press (supported by The Arts Council) and available on Amazon. ‘Bottle bank’ was longlisted for The Bridport Poetry Prize 2006, under Helen’s maiden name of Bannister. Working collaboratively on Word and Image with Romit Berger, illustrator, since 2012. Word and Image Cards now on sale in The Over Gallery .

Image by Romit Berger who says “I am a graphic designer and artist, living in Prague for the past 
ten years. In 2008 I joined a writing group – English is not my native
 language but I graduated from an international school, so it is a part 
of my life ever since. I feel that the dual process of finding words to
 describe mind images and illustrating written words, opens a new 
exciting dimension of creativity for me.

 

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Jennifer Hambrick

 


*

here the sunflower
stood this summer …
my late friend

 *
the clicking
of the ice storm
his anger
 *
Christmas afternoon
the quiet snow
*
cracked nail polish
Easter morning
 *
the dog’s footsteps on my back snooze alarm
 
 
A Pushcart Prize nominee, Jennifer Hambrick is an award-winning classical musician, broadcaster, and poet in Columbus, Ohio, USA. Her poetry has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies worldwide. Jennifer Hambrick’s blog, Inner Voices, is at jenniferhambrick.com.

 

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Jennie Owen

 

 

 

On the tracks

Paused amongst the debris scabs
and concertinaed pigeons,
over Herculean arches, grisly secrets lurk
in muck and smutty shadows.  Old stolen bicycles, rats,
and plastic bags floating like ghosts in the engine hiss.

Reptilian fingers grasp masonry,
green and scaled, vegetating against the odds.
Above in the promise of blue, circles one for sorrow,
seven for gold, eight for…grim trapped mornings
black beaked and round eyed.

The metal box shudders into life, delivering us
to the wipe clean city centre platform.
Thick communal air releases a gasp.  A pile
of spat out sunflower seeds crunches under our feet.

 

 

 

Jennie Owen is a teacher of creative writing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines.  She is proudly dyslexic and lives with her husband and their three children in Lancashire.

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Alan Price reviews ‘Later there will be Postcards’ by Claire Booker

 

It’s rare to come across a new poet who not only has a confident voice, but more importantly, a sensibility that tackles death, the passage of time, ageing, childhood and a strong eye for the natural world. Such big themes are handled with wit, originality and insight. Claire Booker’s range is considerable. Her skill is evident. And the sheer musicality of her work in her debut collection Later There Will Be Postcards exciting.

With her first poem The Night Mare, you’re immediately thrown into powerful imagery of sexual anxiety and identity transference, jolted by reasoning and sadness. The nightmare’s the dream horse that the poet rides and feeds with a lemon.

 

I take the little tongue with a mind of its own.

Vice it. Force the rind down.

 

Waking up, the dreamer recalls the past.

 

When we were young enough to count ourselves in summers

And you my turkey cock with feathers and attitude.

 

Two great lines. Further great lines from her poems are worth quoting. In the moving Meeting my Mother she arrives at this consideration.

 

This is not my mother. Or has she now assumed,

In some slant way, aspects of the room?

 

That’s a beautiful, touching and exact way of imagining the presence of a dead parent. Whilst in Booker’s last poem Provencal Crosses she recalls playing, as a child, near a cemetery. A bell sounds and she wonders where the chimes go.

 

“…whether they hang

 

blind in the cave of immense sky and who

makes the bell sing each hour. I am too young still

 

to know that even God can be automated –

that there will be just this one time

 

Of course it’s unfair to simply cherry-pick lines from remarkable poems. But with poems as good as these it’s hard not to do so.

 

Booker has her influences – for me that’s early Samuel Beckett. In the beautiful poem Model in Love (after Giacometti’s “Walking Woman” sculpture) we have a spindly upright figure that’s inimitably the Italian artist’s yet also like a character in Beckett’s late prose. Her poem achieves a delicate balance – both praising and criticising the act of creativity.

 

how he came again and again

simply to touch

the intelligent slope of her shoulder.

 

This is followed by the dark constriction of the poem’s final lines.

 

still she knows that a girl must be free

to walk as she will –

that a pedestal impedes,

no matter how tenderly it kisses

the stems of her feet.

 

Claire Booker is also unafraid to experiment with form. And although I think poems like On Hearing the Bell Again at Chichilianne and Visiting My Father are

not as intense and as moving as her other pieces their technical dexterity should be applauded.

Later There Will Be Postcards is an outstanding debut pamphlet. Claire Booker’s humour, startling (but never over the top) imagery, compassion and tone convinced me she’s a genuinely original poet who takes great calculated risks and is able to quietly master her risk-taking. I eagerly await a full collection and even more surprises.

 

 

 

Alan Price‘s film reviews can be read online at Filmuforia.  A poetry collection entitled Outfoxing Hyenas was published by Indigo Dreamsin 2012, and his pamphlet  Angels at the Edge appeared in 2016.

 

Later there will be Postcards by Claire Booker is published by Green Bottle Press and can be ordered here: http://greenbottlepress.com/our-books/

 

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Mark Carson

 

The Fear of Flooding

Up the valley there are dams to hold back heavy poisons
rusty slurry tanks sequestering cattle shit
and stinking ponds for retting flax
and if we had diamonds there would be dangerous spoil heaps
and if the gold had not run out there would be pools
of mercuric compounds.  The dams are are fragile
all will perforate and undermine and wash away
in torrents.  All that bad stuff will come down behind us
while we look the other way, we’d like to look
the other way, but angry groups are shouting at us
look at the shit look at the shit shout the shit-shouters
and we will have to listen once again to their just complaints
and it’s true the shit is really shitty and the awfulness of it all
and it’s all the badness of the past will overwhelm us
and stifle carefreeness and happiness.  Do I hear a call for judas
judacilious judelicious review a judicialous review into the pernicious
aspects of excessive judicilicial review?  Do I?

 

Mark Carson is an offshore engineer, ran aground in South Lakeland thirty years ago.   His first pamphlet, Hove-to is a State of Mind, was published in 2015, see www.wayleavepress.co.uk

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Jennifer Harvey

 

Coconut Fever

The days were long and there had been six of them apparently, though that meant very little. Weeks or months would have felt the same. That’s how it is when you’re a kid. Time passes differently.

All I knew was that the bed had grown smaller as I’d lain there, shrinking like something Alice would have known. The fever bending and warping everything in a way that pleased me.

It was fun. The bed sucked me up and I spiralled away into the folds of white sheets, laughing and shaking.

From somewhere I heard a voice which could have been my mother’s.

‘Get a doctor.’

She sounded exotic, like a mermaid, her voice deep and long, something I felt rather than heard. The sound rippling like a current underwater. But when I turned to look for her, to see if she had a glistening, scaly tail, there was no-one there. And, disappointed I spiralled away again.

Six days later, I was shivered loose and rose to the surface, back into the room where I lay, bored and exhausted, the sheets clammy, and damp, and sticking to me like an extra layer of skin.

There was a strange lightness to my muscles that left me feeling floaty, like an astronaut, and with nothing to do, I decided to become one. Took to imagining the dust motes which flickered in the sunlight were distant stars and planets. Through the gauzy gaze of half sleep it was easy to believe the bed was a space craft carrying me off into deep space.

It was nice to drift that way. It passed the time. The days. The weeks.

Every now and then someone would pop their head around the door and say something, like: ‘are you okay?’ or ‘do you need anything?’ then disappear. Sometimes they’d come back, bringing with them the usual comforts for the sick – soup, a glass of water, a cold facecloth. But always leaving before I could explain.

‘Hey! Stay a while. I’m bored.’

I could hear them below, the sound of their voices filtering up through the floorboards. It sounded like they were having a great time down there. There was a lilting, melodic quality to their voices I’d never heard before, a bit like a baby laughing, and it left me wondering what they could be doing.

When curiosity got the better of me, I shimmied to the edge of the bed, and flipped my legs over and onto the floor. It was December, but I’d forgotten, and the shocking cold of the linoleum gripped my feet with a vicious chill that made me wince, then fall to the floor with a thud.

Below, the music stopped, and in the silence which followed, I lay there not moving, the oily smell of the linoleum strangely soothing, the way familiar smells often are.

It reminded me of the biscuits my grandmother used to give me. Strange, pink, foamy things, sprinkled with coconut so they tasted like a summer beach. The foam always sticking to the roof of my mouth, like polystyrene and glue, a taste which lingered for weeks, though it may just have been days.

 

 

 

Jennifer Harvey is a Scottish writer now based in Amsterdam. Her writing has appeared in Carve Magazine, Litro Magazine, The Guardian, and various anthologies including the 2014 and 2016 National Flash Fiction Day anthologies.  She has been shortlisted for various prizes including the Bridport Prize (2014, 2015), and the Waterstones & University of Sunderland Short Story Award (2016). Her radio dramas have won prizes and commendations from the BBC World Service (2016, 2009 and 2001).  She is a Resident Reader for Carve Magazine.  You can find out more over at www.jenharvey.net

 

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