Rizwan Akhtar

 

 

 

 

Word-Pact

for Tammara Claire

Without your dark eyes and a settled chin
the evening is too unstable and shaky

even the whetting shrill of woodpeckers
is dulled wanting a harder crust for bills

random footsteps haw the creaking floor
voices poach on my silence housed in

the aplomb whiteness of a page on my table
paling in your absence, unwrinkled for months

last time you filled it with your flaunting hands
since then what was considered a fantasy is now

a compulsion to write all details I missed during
an argument over who is going to keep record

of moments, we both chase them as if it our fate
to follow time squandering in the lawn outside

where the wind takes toll on the thin saplings
watching their demise at the end of veranda

words make windows from which I sight you
running away with the vocabulary we agreed
breaching trust and dying like a language.

 

 

 

Rizwan Akhtar’s debut collection of Poems Lahore, I Am Coming (2017) is published by Punjab University Press.   He works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan. He completed his PhD in postcolonial literature from the University of Essex, UK in 2013. He has published poems in well-established poetry magazines of the UK, US, India, Canada, and New Zealand. He was a part of the workshop on poetry with Derek Walcott at the University of Essex in 2010.

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Jane Murray Bird

 

 

 

Nevertold

I took him for his wildness –
a bite to the back of the neck
dead in bed a playful nibble
of my bare shoulder for breakfast.

He gave me pounding heartbeats,
fluttering charms of blue and gold
to hold in my palms like wishes
then let go. And later, furs –

rabbit, squirrel, black-tipped guards
and undercoats of lush afternoons.
I filleted the freezer and scared men
with a rare smile, but the one

for sorrow was one, two, many.
He is less familiar to me now.

 

 

 

 

 

Jane Murray Bird lives in Edinburgh and studied creative writing with the Open University in Scotland, gaining a first-class honours degree while home-educating her children. Her poetry has appeared in magazines including Magma, Mslexia and Under the Radar

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John Short

 

 

 

 

Trap
 
Pardon me ringing you
but all my friends are dead.
It’s strange to be sitting here
in the place where I was born

and no longer know a soul.
They were sand through glass
you see. Now I’m like an invalid
who struggles unheard,

consigned to oblivion, yelling
in silence, exiled on the spot
and every new day I cease
to exist again.

 

 

 

 

John Short is a writer and musician from Liverpool. He studied comparative religion at Leeds university and creative writing at Liverpool university then spent some years in Europe. Most recently published in Prole, Dream Catcher and Black Market Review.

 

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Ian Heffernan

 

 

 

 

The Graveyard of the Old Asylum
East Lane, Leavesden

At autumn’s trailing edge I walked there,
Found it just where I recalled,
Near the jink of a country lane.

And seen through the antique lens
Of thirty years, it looked larger,
But more isolated, in disuse.

Its sparse-placed stones were still legible,
Though two which lay beside a tree
Had sacrificed their words to weather;

And nudging loose earth away with my foot
I saw again the little plaques
Set at intervals in the ground,

And how these were folding up their meaning,
Growing blank as the wardbound days
Of lives as imprecise as water;

Noticed too the coffin-length hollows
Where the soil had fallen in,
Each a trough for matted leaves.

I wandered round this battlescape,
Jarring my knees at every step
Until the left began to swell,

Then reaching the graveyard’s farthest edge,
Looked through a gap across bare fields
Towards the motorway beyond.

Half an hour was enough
In that obsolescent spot.
I turned to go, and as I did

I saw a fox dissolve in undergrowth,
Heard the rapid slap of wings,
The sudden futile fire of birdsong.

 

 

 

 

Ian Heffernan was born just outside London, where he still lives. He graduated from UCL and SOAS. He works with the homeless.

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Laura Muetzelfeldt

 

 

 

Returned by Angels

 

Mum said her purse was Returned by angels. When she was excited she sang when she spoke.

I nodded as she added, Fell out of the sky. That’s what the lady said. Fell out of the sky and landed by her feet. Said she found the address from my license, but I think it was the angel charm I carry. Sure how else would it fall out of the sky?

I nodded, unconvinced. But I couldn’t explain it: the wet tenner drying on the mantelpiece; the cards still inside. Miracle wasn’t the right word, but it was pretty amazing if you thought about it. Put a bounce in my step and made me forget about Dad, for a while at least.

Dad’s heart packed in at the same time as the cat and at the time I was more upset about the cat, that being more of a surprise. She’d been having fits, that was nothing new. They started with a rustle, then there was the sound of bones rattling off the floorboards and, finally, the slow, creeping smell of fear. Even with the lights off, I could see her head twisted into a grimace and her eyes too wide, surprised more than anything else. Not unlike Dad at the end, come to think of it.

Dad would have had something to say about angels. Burst that bubble.

Incredible things happen every day, Mum said and, for her at least, I think it might have been true.

 

 

 

 

 

Laura Muetzelfeldt teaches in Paisley. She graduated with a Distinction from Glasgow University’s Creative Writing MLitt and she writes short stories which have been published in journals such as The International Literary Quarterly, Bandit Fiction and From Glasgow to Saturn.

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Ezra Miles

 

 

 

Empire

 

The river has called for you. You step onto the light of day as you climb

out from a granite tunnel carved from the mantle. The water has formed

small grey pools in your feet and it soaks you. A pale spider is hanging

from a hollow tree dangling from its own silken atoms and you wrap y-

our fingers around it and feel its tension. The spider runs across your h-

ands and fingers and you turn them in the sunlight. You watch it melt i-

n the bright and appear again in the darkness. Its limbs are thin like hai-

r and you can barely feel it. Look at it. The river has called for you and

you need to answer. Your shoes have worn away and when you head do-

wn the shale path the rock wall turns from you. The ground has cut your

foot and the blood from your sole is mingling with the earth and its colo-

ur is changing. The hills are sloping down and the sun is muddled by the

cloud line forming. It means to punctuate the horizon with broken smoke

and jagged vapours and the air is damp and sticks in your chest and leave-

s moisture on your eyelids. You walk towards the heavy guttural river and

the water has thronged the shoreside marking silt wash across the bank an-

d dead leaf debris where it laps highest. The water bathes your bloodied fe-

et as you step into it and the current is callous in its rhythmic changings. Y-

ou dunk your head into the water and the cold migrates into your bones. Yo-

ur breath is sharp when you break the surface and you feel the cold of rivers

past and present and you think of every man woman and child who has stood

in this water and felt their heart race and their teeth chatter. The sky is now c-

learing. You look up and there is light rain falling. Your fingers look like river b-

eds. Beside you is the mountain.

 

 

 

 

 

Ezra Miles is a poet from London. His work explores the subconscious mind and is often concerned with the presence of unspoken violence within the family home. His poetry has previously appeared in Allegro Poetry and Poetry Pacific.

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Olivia Walwyn

 

 

 

Clematis

One by one its pale buds lift
like Chinese lanterns
to splutter into soft-edged stars

the stamens within
thin spurts of fire – sparks feeling
in to the dark green

flowers that appear to blink
bedazzled: blonde and thickly lashed,
the petals wilting

even as they bloom – creased
like a Grandmother’s skin
around the eyes.

We gather them in,
gather them up, as always
snuffling our noses in
for the sweet, clogged scent.

Our lady of the yard
we nurture, with her
gnarled roots and flaking branches

letting her wild strands dance
on the late spring breeze.
 

 

 

 
Olivia Walwyn recently completed an MA Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of East Anglia, and has  a pamphlet forthcoming in Summer 2018 with Templar Poetry.

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