Nicki Heinen

 

 

 

Missive

This is my dead letter
my notebook of sifted seeds
my kraken spilly of ghost thoughts

In the middle of the night
when it is soft and
varnished as a boat’s hull,
when the angels
and dogs have gone to sleep

I send you a grey gull to
lick feathers into your lovely eyes
I finger the ventricles of your
mended heart, stitch one button
to your mouth so you can
see again, so you see me again

 

 

Nicki Heinen is widely published in magazines and anthologies, including Magma and Bad Betty Press. She hosts Words & Jazz at the Vortex Jazz Club. Her pamphlet Itch is out with Eyewear Publishing, and was an LRB Bookshop Book of the Year.

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Simon Williams

 

 

 

Cat Call

At five a.m. or maybe earlier
the cat scratches
like a black wolf to get in.
One of us climbs out of bed,
sleep blustering us to automatic.
He jumps aboard.
We settle back.

At five thirty or maybe slightly later,
the cat scratches
like a black panther to get out.
One of us, undemocratically the same
one of us, decamps and lets him out,
sleep not so secure.
He strides downstairs.

At six a.m. – I checked it on the clock –
the cat scratches
like a black bear to get in, get us out,
lead us to the kitchen and his bowl.
All this despite the prey
he’s brought in through the flap:
a coypu, two iguanas and a cassowary.

 

 

Simon Williams has eight published collections, his latest being a co-authored pamphlet with Susan Taylor, The Weather House www.indigodreams.co.uk/williams-taylor/4594076848, published in 2017 by Indigo Dreams. This is also touring as a performance show. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013, founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet and produced the well-received PLAY Anthology. He’s currently developing a one-man show, Cosmic Latte.

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Elizabeth Rimmer

 

 

 

On the Calendar

The last job of the fading year
is transferring the important dates
of birthdays and anniversaries,
policy renewals, the prompts
to ‘save the day’, the cards to buy, parties
we’ll plan, perhaps outdoors, if we get
the weather. Memories distract me
of the cold July we had our silver wedding,
or the night when Sally knocked
her wineglass in the pond, while Vic
and Ian spent an hour to say
how much they hated parties,
and Joyce danced up the road to home.
Then there’s a month that’s full
of booby-traps – two days, a week apart,
when cards won’t be required.
May gets me in the gullet, every time.

 

 

Elizabeth Rimmer has published three poetry collections with Red Squirrel Press, Wherever We Live Now (2011), The Territory of Rain, (2015) and Haggards (2018), and is currently working on a fourth, Burnedthumb. More here: https://burnedthumb.co.uk/#page

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David Calcutt

 

 

 

I Praise the Spider

I

At the web’s dead centre, a thumbprint
smudge in your secret heaven

tucked beneath an overhang of leaves
and hung about with jewels and corpses

baby-faced mummies, the empty
sacks of your children, trembling

as if with a god’s touch or curse
your fingers stroke the silks of your harp

sun-laced and lit like a bride’s crown
sending your music into the morning

dawn’s plainsong
the victim’s lament.

II

Almost invisible song, exquisite
intricacies traced on the air
flung out, and hooked to the lips

of the infinite. Low slung
between the fence post and the
garden shed, it seems to be holding

earth and sky in balance
a net to catch whatever
falls in, whether food-stuff

or breakage, or the flecks
of ash from autumn fires.
Like a hand, loosely cupped

around its fragile lifelines,
hoarding its meagre provisions
against the lean times.

III

I’ve been watching you
for so long, you have
my eye transfixed
and no matter how much

I wanted to I couldn’t
move away now.  Numb
from the feet up
as if injected

with your drug
swaddled in a cocoon
of rapt fascination.
I’m watching you eat

and have to go on
watching, unable to stir
a finger or thought
gripped, like your prey

between your busy hands.
Face locked forward
eyelids glued open
pupil pulsing with

the beat of sucked blood.
Later, I’ll sit almost
lifeless at the table
watching my own hands

flutter around the cutlery
while my mouth
goes on chewing
at tough meat.

IV

Creepy-crawly
carpet-scuttler
curtain-climber
corner-skulker

lurker in the garden shed
prisoner in the empty bath

pillow-fright
big-toe-biter
window-wender
money-finder

first at the wedding feast
layer-out of grave shrouds

attercop
lankylegs
bogeyface
hairymouth
poodleflopper
dingledody –

out here in the garden
rain and shine
you’re in your element

at home
in your spun geometry
of air and light

inheritance perfected
into instinct
nameless.

V

Little revenant
little suicide survivor
who would have thought
you could make it back
from such a big freeze
such a battering of storms
such withering of roots?

Yet here you are
on the first untroubled
day of the year, as if
you had never been away
hanging by a narrow thread
at home among the
quiet voices

the trembling, sky-tumbled
tears of dew.

 

 

David Calcutt is a playwright, poet and fiction writer. Many of his original plays and adaptations have been broadcast on BBC radio, and his plays for theatre have been performed in both professional and community settings. Several of his plays for young people are published by Oxford University Press, as are three of his four novels for young people. His poetry appears widely in print and online magazines, and he is the author of four poetry collections. Drawing on his many years’ experience as a writer, and the breadth and diversity of his writing, David has organised and worked on several small and large scale community writing and theatre projects, and continues to run a variety of writing workshops in community settings. More here: https://davidcalcutt.com/

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Nell Prince

 

 

 

Thunder Under London

It was there

a silver stratocaster making no sound

the air had a bleak purr

I picked up the neck and plucked a shape

Oh blare!  the ringing sweet of that strung gap

music meat to this hollow old world

I played and I flung

I flung out the heavy the sorrow the sadness that hung

I played and I played until an ending

a door to the roof of the sky that cracked

I was living and I attacked with bolts from my fingering pulse the shifting hum of the ohm the electric drone the curve that shouldering curve like a moon’s eclipse or a devil’s horn and that rough vibrating hum

I was being born

gripped at the frets the body smoked

it wrecked through the hollow halls

filled with a green fog the dark air and crammed crashing its waves on the concrete shore where the days had a spark

At last moored to a space I sensed the task:

to summon the living dead

the living that walked step by step, and forked in the dark,
and slept, dull irises that didn’t dare heart, blank faces commuting beyond the fake glare, stuck in the glass forests, the rock bare, and the cells glowing like tombs.

 

 

 

Nell Prince has had poems most recently published in PN Review, The Interpreter’s House, and Sidekick Books’ Battalion.  In 2016 she was runner-up in the Jane Martin prize.  She is working on a first collection.

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Abegail Morley

 

 

 

End

Forget you. The ash of bone. The uncradled
heart, leaky valve long scorched. Forget
the unthinking arm that fell on my shoulder,
those times we crossed the M6 flyover
and you drove with one hand on the wheel
and I’d change gear, rather badly. Forget
the mix-tape, its erratic path through
teenage years, the growing up, beers, larking
about on bridges and piers and dancing
all night in the Zap Club. Forget the sea
and its snub-nosed wall, the hiss of shingle
on sand, the plans we made at 2am
to be bruised by life. Forget the headlamps
dimming on the Downs, the uphill walks,
the drinks in the Nelson, Trafalgar Street,
the way your heart beat. And beat. Remember
the dull ring of my doorbell, the slight tap
on glass, the way my stomach flipped when
I knew you were there, before you arrived.
Remember what longing means, the thick taste
of Milky Bars for breakfast, the crack of your elbow
broken on the stairs at 4am, the thud of your step
across floorboards. Remember how in that crowd
we found each other’s silence, feathered it out,
knowing we might make it from friends to lovers
and friends again. Remember how we felt that night
when we each held our breaths, met under
an invisible sky. Remember how we said
when you died, I’d try to forget.

 

 

Abegail Morley’s debut collection, How to Pour Madness into a Teacup, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection. Her most recent collection is The Skin Diary (Nine Arches Press) and The Unmapped Woman is forthcoming from Nine Arches Press. She is one of the co-editors at Against the Grain Press and editor of The Poetry Shed.

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James Dixon

 

 

 

The late blackberries

The late blackberries come ripe this year,
bursting little beasties
slick with the devil’s spit.

We come home gorse pricked
and spittle flicked
and happy for the yearning.

Keep your high-rise monoliths.
I apologise- I truly do-
but I see no beauty there.

This.
This and all and only.

 

 

James Dixon a novelist, playwright and poet based in Glasgow. His debut novel, The unrivalled transcendence of Willem J. Gyle (Thistle, 2017) was shortlisted for the 2018 Somerset Maugham Award by the Society of Authors and his first collection of poems, ‘They Being (Being There)’ has just been accepted by Jersey Devil Press.

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