In Memoriam

 

 

 

 

IF

Grenfell Tower a Year On

If trying to keep your head, you raced
towards the pillar of flame and smoke choking
the building, not knowing if your children, partner,
mother, brother, friend were trapped inside it;
if you lost one or many whom you loved;
if hoping to find a keepsake you made a visit
to your flat after the furnace was quelled, found
a smashed sink but nothing to take away
among the heaps of rubble, the twists of metal;
if numb, you received and offered sympathy for days
and soothing voices promised a new home
within weeks;
if living in the shadow of the Tower
you heard the reports of the corners cunning knaves
had cut in ‘ascertaining’ it was safe and a year on
you still had no place to call your own,
what trust would you have in promises, in words –
lashings of fine words which butter nothing?

 

 

Myra Schneider’s most recent poetry collections are The Door to Colour (Enitharmon) and the pamphlet Persephone in Finsbury Park, (SLN). Other publications include books about personal writing. She is consultant to the Second Light Network for women poets and tutors for The Poetry School. A new collection is due this October.

Myra also contributed to the poems for Grenfell Tower anthology (Onslaught Press), available here, which includes poems from Georges Szirtes, Medbh McGuckian and Red Watch fire fighter Ricky Nuttall. All profits go to The Grenfell Foundation being set up by Grenfell United.

Grenfell United are calling for the UK to observe 72 seconds of silence at midday to remember each life that was lost in and after the Grenfell Tower fire. On the evening of the 14th June, the group will be taking part in the Silent March and then will gather to observe “Iftar” and the breaking of bread at sunset. They hope many  fellow marchers will join them. For more details go here follow @grenfellspeaks on Twitter or Grenfell Speaks on Facebook.

Tomorrow, Friday 15th June, has been designated #GreenforGrenfell day.

💚💚💚💚💚

 

 

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Richard Lewis

 

 

 

Whales

 

I know not to tell you that one day you’ll be better,
so instead I tell you this: We are blue whales, we lie
solitary on the ocean floor, looking up at a surface
where life is nothing but silhouettes. I tell you I feed
on white tablets of krill, committing to the analogy,
take them each morning with yesterday’s water. They
keep me anchored, low to the ground. Without them
I’d be battered by storms which rip metal from ships.
Without them I’d be a husk; a carcass in the currents.
I tell you it’s nothing like this at all. But close enough.
Nights down here will twist you until you snap; days
will cut you off under the ice; every few seconds a sudden
drop into remembering, so that you can never truly relax.
I know this doesn’t make you feel any better, that you think
you belong down here, alone, and maybe you do. I know
you think that it will never change, and maybe it won’t. I know
how easy it is to wrap yourself in the water and the silence
and forget. And so I tell you, instead, about the importance
of perspective. that you only appreciate the magnitude
of blue whales when you’re up close, when you can run
your fingers over the old scars of their thick hide. Or when
they venture out of the depths to pass ships. Finally, I tell you
that I’m kept going by those moments: When a certain song,
smile or break of sunlight calls me to the surface. And just for
the briefest of moments, taking a deep breath, the cold air
stinging my lungs, the world says ‘welcome back’.

 

 

 

 

Richard Lewis is a writer from Swansea currently residing in Cardiff. He was second prize winner of the Terry Hetherington Award, and has had work appear in publications including Cheval and London Grip. He is currently working on his debut poetry collection.

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Julia Stothard

 

 

 

Sick Leave

I tip the whole dark tray
night gave me into the trash
and tie the sack

having woken with a gutful
of aching uncertainty
and wishing a white sail for sickness.

I call for the sun. It comes
sliding its hands inside
the curtains – almost touching

then defining an island
on the blank wall. The others
are sleeping on

comfortably curled
inside the moon they came from.
They will get up hooded

flicking switches,
nudging the pivot
between night and day.

I track the lozenge of light
across the throat of a room
that has lost its voice.

 
Julia Stothard lives in Middlesex and works in Further Education as a database report writer. Her poetry appears from time to time in poetry magazines and webzines and her Twitter account is: @terzaverse

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Pat Edwards

 

 

 
Coffee shop blues

 
Chalkboard announces all the different brews
of scented loose and bagged up tea,
of aromatic coffee ground from beans.
 
There are sugared buns and golden tray bakes,
soft and sticky comfort behind glass,
every kind of cup, saucer, plate to serve.
 
There is garrulous, gesticulating, long-lost
reacquaintance, awkward loneliness,
good-to-sit down, get-the-weight off types.
 
Liquid slops the table, leaves dark circle stains;
crumbs litter the twice-a-day swept floor,
minimum wage barista rues her debt.
 
 
 
Pat Edwards is a writer, teacher and performer from Mid Wales. Her work has been widely published on line and more recently in Prole, Magma and the #MeToo Anthology. Pat runs Verbatim poetry open mic nights and curates Welshpool Poetry Festival.

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Carla Scarano reviews ‘Scarlet Tiger’ by Ruth Sharman

 

 

The most recent collection by Ruth Sharman, Scarlet Tiger, Templar Poetry 2016, won the 2016 Straid Collection Award. It is dedicated to her father and to her son. It is a substantial collection, featuring fifty-nine poems divided in three sections. The first part is mainly about her father and their relationship; the second one is about her son and the last section is on butterflies and paintings, that is ekphrasis, descriptions of paintings in words.

References to butterflies and moths is a leitmotif that recurs all over the book. Her father used to collect butterflies catching them with a net, trapping them in a jar and finally piercing them with a pin to ‘fix a soft abdomen in place’. He clearly loved and enjoyed nature but had also an ambivalent attitude of caring for animals, that is he also trapped and killed them. This is never said plainly in Sharman’s poems, which often allude. Her poetry isn’t a straightforward kind of poetry (though she wittily says at the beginning of the first poem, By heart, ‘I want to get things straight’), it is a sort of ‘slant’ poetry. And maybe things are never easy to express in poetry and in life; they are often complex, hinted, interpretable, alluding to something else. The final sense often eludes us, slips away whenever we believe we are holding it.

She has a touching affectionate way of remembering her father, although never sentimental, especially during his last days. He couldn’t catch real butterflies any more, only paint them in faded watercolours, a sad, compassionate image of his losing grasp with reality. From her poems, his father emerges as a brave, tough person though helpless in front of death, a bit of a British stereotype: shy, awkward, complex; woods were his heaven and his final advice was to ‘beware strong emotions’.

Being Italian and an opera goer, I can’t help linking the theme of butterflies to Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini, a story where the protagonist is exactly pinned down by social conventions and her desperate love for her deceitful husband. She is literally pierced in the final act when she commits hara-kiri. A beautiful butterfly caught in a fatal trap. So butterflies seem to be linked to images of women.

In another poem the poet compares herself to a moth:

I’m hovering like a moth (Dusk)
Differently from colourful butterflies, moths are
difficult to pin down in a book….
They’re pictures out of focus.
A reminder of otherness
and elsewhere, of only half
belonging in the world of light. (What is it about moths?)

 

The poem that titles the collection, Scarlet Tiger, is exactly about a moth who refuses to feed; a mutant, who takes its time to change then flies away. I couldn’t help linking it to an essay by Virginia Wolf, The Death of the Moth, where moths are described as ‘hybrid creatures, neither gay like butterflies nor sombre like their own species.’ She narrates him struggling against the approaching inevitable death and acknowledges there is nothing she can do to help. What Virginia Woolf particularly admires is the’ gigantic effort on the part of an insignificant little moth, against a power of such magnitude’.

Another recurrent theme is fire (After the fire and Tabula rasa), a real experience or a symbolic one (it doesn’t matter in the end) that burns the past, objects and memories, and leaves you dispossessed but lighter.

The poems about her son are cute memories of a mother observing how her child grows, learns and plays; sometimes his peaceful attitude is compared to a Buddha.

My favourite poem in this series is Curtains, a ‘slant’ poem again, where the thin ‘dark wine, wet sand’ sarong curtains ‘bought on honeymoon’ enwrap the baby like a womb, shading his quiet sleep, letting the light in, hinting to his conception and birth and to what came after:

We switched to blue velvet later
to block out the light
and the flesh-and-blood patterns hang

in the new house, in a room
that’s sometimes spare,
sometimes his dad’s, depending.

 

The poems of the last section, mainly about paintings, are evocative and graceful but less poignant  than the previous ones.

The last poem of the collection, Wishing tree, is a philosophical poem meditating on human beings and life:

longing to connect, longing
for answers from somewhere
beyond ourselves – never
quite at home in the moment,
the moment never enough,

 

Our shifting, ever changing kind of being is never completely happy or satisfied, even in our best moments. We don’t seem to be able to live in the moment plentifully, except in dreams or in fragmented instants rapidly shifting through time.

Scarlet Tiger is a collection of brilliantly crafted, subtle poems to be enjoyed till the last line.

 

 

Order your copy of Scarlet Tiger here: https://templarpoetry.com/products/scarlet-tiger

 

 

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Patrick Wright

 

 

 

Aubade

The sun gives the curtain the look of love,
its light through a bride’s organza,
as I leave your rapid eyes and wonder
how far you’ve gone with the tramadol.
Somewhere you’re lucid, scaring yourself
I’ll leave you.
The meds prolong the limen between
what’s real and not, as I rehearse words
to reassure. We are only six hours
from the rush of oxytocin, from a feeling
everything’s okay. Yet where you are
is dysphoric again.
I can tell from the way you blink
out of your paradoxical sleep
and then come a litany of nightmares.
They sound like times I’ve overdosed
on valerian — less so a narrative
than a kaleidoscope of selves.
I kiss you through your fringe,
say all is sweet, repeat, know this
and a tisane should do the trick.
Yet our thoughts collect from separate
pillows, where we ring-fence the fear,
as we turn each night and jilt each other.

 

 

 

Patrick Wright has a poetry pamphlet, Nullaby, published by Eyewear. His poems have been published in the Best New British and Irish Poets anthology, judged by Maggie Smith. He has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.

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Pravat Kumar Padhy

 

 

 

*
lunar eclipse
a moonflower
on my way

*
abandoned bench–
shifting of  shadow
of an autumn tree

*
a seagull
in its maiden journey–
sea to the sky

*
spider net–
the light captured
by mistake

*

 

 

Pravat Kumar Padhy’s literary work has appeared in various international journals and anthologies. His haiku won Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Honourable Mention, UNESCO International YearAward of Water Co-operation, The Kloštar Ivanić International Haiku Award, IAFOR Vladimir Devide Haiku Award,7th Setouchi Matsuyama International Photo Haiku Award and others.  http://PKPadhy.blogspot.com

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