Dan A. Cardoza

 

 

A Wounded Hinge

If it were simply a hinge
a drop of oil would surely
loosen any bind.
Then an open
shut
or two
more than likely would do.

These brass patched places
with worn pedicle screws
on a door are about
the getting through, and
much less the hanging on.

Of a crux that
that has been locked
for far too long,
or slammed too hard
a time or two
the letting in
will have to rely
on anneal of trust
& a well oiled
what next to do.

 
 
 

Dan A. Cardoza has a Master of Science Degree in Counseling. He is the author of two Chapbooks, Nature’s Front Door & Expectation of Stars. Partial credits include: Amethyst, UK., Ardent, Better Than Starbucks, California Quarterly, Chaleur Magazine, Curlew, UK., Entropy, Esthetic Apostle, Poetry Northwest, The Quail Bell, Skylight 47, Ireland, Unstamatic, and Vita Brevis.

Read More

Rebecca Gethin

 

 
Narrowing

Fog inhabits the air
so as I walk through cloud shadow
I find another beside me,
her breath condensing on my hair
drawing me into the grey no-light
that sprawls around, ensnaring me
in a long drawn-out dawn
where all I can see lies at the end
of my outstretched hand.

I never held my mother’s hand
with its sparrowy bones,
felt the answering grip –
the veins on her hand blued,
joints swollen, index finger skewed.

 

 

 

Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor in Devon. In 2017 two pamphlets were published: A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press and All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press who published an earlier collection called A Handful of Water and two novels. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow. In 2018 she jointly won the Coast to Coast Pamphlet competition, is reading at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and has been awarded a writing residency at Brisons Veor. www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com

Read More

James Roderick Burns reviews ‘The Man Who Wasn’t Ever Here’ by Michael Bartholomew-Biggs

 

 

‘The Man Who Wasn’t Ever Here’ begins with a useful scene-setting in prose, and a mystery – perhaps two.  Thomas Ovans, the poet’s grandfather, was born in County Leitrim, moved to Middlesbrough to work in the shipyards and married a local woman, went to sea as a ship’s engineer (becoming friendly with Nellie Melba on board) then died when his ship struck a mine in the Indian Ocean.  With a few additional facts – he was from the same area as one of the leaders of the Easter Rising, for instance – and an overview of the poet’s year-long genealogical research, we embark on a remarkable act of imaginative recreation, and then encounter the second mystery: unnumbered pages.  An arc, yes – the death register, reports of the sinking, a butcher’s-daughter bride; all told, a life lived from back to front, with postscript poems charting its ripples into the poet’s own.  But none of the trusty way-markers of an ordinary poetic journey.

For, over the span of nineteen poems, Bartholomew-Biggs unearths an extraordinary life.  In the near-absence of documents, it is one which revels in concrete detail – from the ‘Marine Death Register’, its “old sweats … grimly fending off the final quayside”, to “mines/among the slobbering of waves/whose thick wet lips concealed spiked tongues” (‘Official Recognition 1919’), his grandfather – sunk – “a dozen lung-tight ladders from good air” (‘Died from Scalds’) to his first emergence from the country, “city streets … loom[ing] up at him like rocks” (‘Baptism Record’).

Nor are these markers of departure, relationship or destination simply slipped in as free-floating colour, bulking up a thin historical record; each serves in its own way as a fixed point on the trail, looking forwards and back, illuminating the corners of a life lost to history.  That early quayside, for instance, is picked up again as a dog marooned by the shipwreck, “saved and reached Bombay before its master./It was at the quay to greet him” (‘Press Reports’).  Here the physical separation of land and water serves as a bright counterpoint to its earlier, stark image of the border between life and death.  Similarly, Bartholomew-Biggs’ figuring of family history as a sealed bottle, the poet poised with “a corkscrew in my fist” – “Will the bottle/hold fine wine or just a scribbled message?” (‘Birthright’) – reoccurs at the end of the book, but deliberately fails to answer its own question, eschewing easy readings:

 

Our bottled epitaphs will splash

and bob away from where we vanished

then wash unsmashed on distant shingle

to disappoint beachcombing vagrants

who always find

our trampled lives are quite undrinkable.

 

(‘Protest Song’)

 

Yet the poet is perhaps too harsh with this conclusion.  Salty, sweet, harsh or heart-warming, they are always drinkable, always worth finding at the end of a trail of footprints in the sand.  At the book’s end, too, we understand the lack of pagination.  In capturing the precise marks of a life well-lived, Bartholomew-Biggs charts his grandfather’s progress far better than any sequence of numbers.  We remember the spiky mines, the burning air and superheated steam, but also “what small celebrity/accompanies the return/of the man who wasn’t ever here”.

 

 

James Roderick Burns regularly reviews for London Grip, and has just published his third short-form collection, ‘The Worksongs of the Worms’.  He is the editor of ‘A Gathering Darkness: Thirteen Classic English Ghost Stories’ (2016)

 

You can order your copy of The Man Who Wasn’t Ever Here’ by Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, here: www.wayleavepress.co.uk

 

Read More

Beth McDonough

 

 

 

We observe this word, abscission

turn fashionable, hang in air.
Once botanists’ part-property, at least
cased in scientific sights; now –
in this most now of times – it’s ours.

Perhaps this year holds terms
longer, closer than is usual. Leaves
in every kind of autumn still a little,
thinwrist-clutch reluctant trees before

that glorious fall. Never gutter-sent.
Severing, their moves amaze
new-play with grace. All our seasoned
expectations have not prepared us

for their readiness in separation.
Watchful, we learn to accept abscission.
 

 

Beth McDonough’s poetry appears in Causeway, Antiphon, Interpreter’s Houseand elsewhere; she reviews in DURA. Handfast (2016, with Ruth Aylett) explores family experiences – Aylett’s of dementia. and McDonough’s of autism. She was recently Writer in Residence at Dundee Contemporary Arts.

Read More

Sue Spiers

 

 

Coupling with Jane Austen

Even so. You would be surprised,
although perhaps you had surmised,

to hear how often I watched you,
sometimes I was positive you knew

how often I was on the point of falling
down on your bed and crawling

in with you. I have entered many a shop,
bought veils, even sun-glasses at the co-op,

to avoid your sight, as the carriage drove by.
I truly believed you were a good guy.

Lodging as I did in Bond Street,
two doors between faith and cheat,

there was hardly a day
I spied your wife. The way

in which I did not catch a glimpse
of her is mockery to me, makes chimps

of one or other of you; and nothing
can feel the shame to which I cling

but the most constant watchfulness
to curb my lust and contain distress

on my side, a most invariably prevailing,
aggravating situation: this trailing

desire to keep out of your sight
has vexed me and only her right

could have separated us so long.
Why is loving you so wrong?

 

 

 

Sue Spiers has a poem in Paper Swan’s Press The Pocket Poetry Book of Cricket and has six times been published on IS&T now. For other news Sue tweets @spiropoetry.

 

Note: Words taken from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen P198 (Wordsworth Editions The Complete Novels of Jane Austen)

Read More

Sandra Galton

 

 

 

Conjure

There are no horses in the field opposite,
only a pale stubble cut to the quick.

No, there are no horses, but I can conjure them,
their autumn coats, the brisk shiver of sinewed necks
in the stippled mist that clings like breath.

I do not see them,
but I clasp them to my brain, those solid shapes,
flexing fetlocks, the switch switch of tails.

Yes, I think – such unbroken beauty must persist,
and I stretch out my hand, but they shift, whinnying,
stamp and scrape the ground, then whinny again.

I did not hear them,
they were in my core,  I sensed this enduring fear.
I know that I must drop my eyes,
snort softly, bring my head to rest along theirs

so that we might breathe, each to the other.

 
 

 

Sandra Galton is a musician living in London. She has been published in The Rialto, The Interpreter’s House and Under the Radar (forthcoming) among other magazines. Several of her poems have been commended or won prizes in competitions.

Read More

Daniel Wade

 

 

 

Rapids

When he got kicked out in second year
for smoking hash on the Astroturf,
relief heaved from everyone’s throat.
No longer would we have to fear
his ape-like strut, fists’ basalt salvo,
rain-grey tracksuit, knife-like stare.

There were lads two, three years older
scared shitless of him.
A box off him left you bruised, winded;
your gashed mouth inhaled gravel
as his Reeboks slapped off asphalt,
his knuckles flexed, re-flexed bone-white.

He reminded us that, next to him, we were
still only kids, mammy’s boys softened
by affections he probably never had, our
innocence mortifying and bared, our voices
still reedy and cracked against his surly baritone,
and our reluctance to hit back, give him

a taste of his own savagery, secure. His fist
held the key to every hard-bitten door.
He shook it, a tattooed incitement to war,
spelling out the value of hatred in school.
Yes, his hatred had been welcome.
As welcome as it was mutual.

I heard he tried topping himself later. Years
of dejection boiled down to it before he lobbed
himself into the stream near his estate,
hoping to either bash his skull off sunken rocks
or else drown in the rapids,
set his body afloat like fleshy driftwood.

After they pulled him out, he was at first
unresponsive to the C.P.R
before his eyes snapped open and a few
choked fuck you’s bubbled and fizzed
off his tongue; when he was fully woke,
lava dribbled from his mouth.

 

 

 

 

Daniel Wade is a poet from Dublin, Ireland. In January 2017, his play The Collector was staged at the New Theatre, Dublin. Daniel was also the Hennessy New Irish Writing winner for April 2015 in The Irish Times.

 

 

 

Read More