Time to Vote for your June 2018 Pick of the Month

We have had some stunning work published on IS&T in June: Emotional, moving, curious and powerful, so much so that even putting together a long list was difficult. But we have our shortlist now and we can only ask that you some time away from the sun, the tennis and the football to make your choice for Pick of the Month.

Please see the works featured below (or click on ‘Vote for your June 2018 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.) These have either been chosen by Helen and Kate or received the most attention on social media.

Voting is now closed.

The winner each month will be sent a £10 book giftcard or, if preferred, a donation of the same amount will be made to a chosen charity. In the event of the winner being from outside the UK mainland, we will make every effort to provide a reasonable alternative. All shortlisted poetry Picks, provided they remain unpublished and meet other eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

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Megan O’Reilly

 

 

 

15th of April
 
Saturday morning,
I watch condensation drip down the window
and steam rise from the brim of a blue coffee cup.

Today marks a year since your death
and I still sit at this same window,
sip from a cup you gave me two Christmases ago.

I reach out to wipe the glass,
and the garden comes into focus,
just as a figure steps out onto the lawn,

a shape made of delicate bones:
a deer , alone and trembling,
as she picks her way through the long grass.

Deer don’t come down this far from the forest.
Perhaps she came for the mushrooms;
the morels and the fresh shoots of grass.

I move closer to the window, she stops,
body juddering like an old movie reel.
Then she looks right at me.

I am close enough to see her dark brown eyes.
She tilts her head to the side, as if to speak.
But there are no words.

She disappears and leaves the garden bare.
But for an instant, your brown eyes looked back at me.

 

 

 

 

Megan O’Reilly is a 22 year old Creative Writing and English literature student living in Bath. She is currently working on her first pamphlet of poetry inspired by the loss of her best friend. You can find her café loitering and petting every dog she meets, that is if you don’t confuse her with her identical twin sister.

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Steve Xerri

 

 

 

Self portrait : diptych

I

It will do, the Polaroid’s black-
&-white : but a ground of sky-like
azurite with aetatis suae XX lettered

in gold would better suit
this curly-head in starprint shirt,
his life set permanently to May,

cheek burnished smooth, grin still
bright as enamel, straight-ahead gaze
the sign of a body and mind packed

with nerves and nerve, keen to pierce
the blazing thickets of lightbeams
pouring on him from the future.

II

What fingers have dabbled
under the skin of this face
and loosened it like a glove

pouched at the knuckles?
Render him Holbein-style,
with scraped graphite stubble

and dewlaps crosshatched ; show
the waning of distinctiveness
as the sitter leans into age,

accruing marks and details
on the surface of the vellum, a crop
of scuffs and spatters, all his own.

 

 

 

 

Steve Xerri has been a teacher, musician, illustrator and web designer. Recently published in Acumen, Clear Poetry, Stride Magazine, Brittle Star, and The Interpreter’s House. Awarded the Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2017 prize in October.

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Stefan Parker

 

 

Inside

Your heart
is a foot pedal
on an airbed
pumping away,

as I feel your first kick
at this late hour.
My hand on the hillock;
a creeper on a gravid marble sphere.

Can you hear my voice
inside that colloidal world?
Was that a punch
against the dark cloud?

Our nocturnal colloquy
hastens into eruptive silence.
What nub enfaced the shell?
A shrimpy knee perhaps.

We exchange parts in the dark.
A string of berried vertebrae;
A knolled skull; a timorous elbow.
Only nature’s secret blind spot knows.

Over time there will be more
mute and balletic musculature;
but tonight we sleep as three,
cudgelling the dark for contact.

 

 

Stefan Parker: Born in Germany and residing just north of the M25. Daily practitioner of poetry in all forms. Once published fifteen years ago and never tried again. Fine-tuning the form ever since.

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Angela Readman for National Flash-Fiction Day

 

 

Letters to a Pizza Company

  

Dear Papa John’s,

Let me tell you something I’ve been thinking. I have some pizza concerns. I enjoy the odd slice on Thursdays. Once I’ve put the children to bed, swished out their Disney cups, ironed, and packed their school bags, I bring whatever they leave in from work.

  I like the fellow offering pie on your lid. He looks friendly, this Papa John, like a father who works to make sure everyone eats but has a slight sorrow in his eyes. I can see he’d never let it get in the way. He’ll swirl dough in the air forevermore.

   He’d be disappointed by your cheese protectors though. Excuse me if this isn’t the correct word. You might have another. Dough Saver. Crust Hero, something like that. I’m no expert. Whatever you call it, it’s that round bit of leggy plastic that stops cheese sticking to the box. There’s so much more you could do.

   I’ve noticed it looks like a small table, the sort people sit at outside cafes sharing sorbet. I have an idea. You should make some shaped like small chairs or stools. (for garlic bread, perhaps?) Children could play with them and imagine very small people in tiny cafes. This way, I wouldn’t have to throw so much away and could stop thinking ‘what a waste.’.

 Looking forward to hearing from you,

 

Ilona

 

~

 

Dear Coke-a-Cola,

Today I bought your product, which you’ve recently decorated with people’s names. I saw a man on the bus with a label that said Ivan. And even though it was Sunday and I had to work, it made me smile. I looked at him and thought he didn’t look like an Ivan. He looked like a Tom, a Tom stuck with Ivan. He’d hear people call him all day and it would always sound strange. It was good to know.

   I switched buses and used the opportunity to purchase cola, but I couldn’t spot my name. I riffled through the fridge trying to find myself and had to settle with Fiona.

    I drank and felt I was lying to the woman beside me. This woman who was probably thinking: There’s Fiona, enjoying her cola.

   Please expand your range of labels. Or, consider replacing your names with something else. Perhaps someone’s favourite song? Or the pet they love? That way we could look at strangers and know: Oh, that lady loves Bright Eyes. That man has a rabbit. It wouldn’t matter so much that no one talks. When people yell, ‘Go home’ I’d stare at their hands and understand they just want something to stroke.

I hope you appreciate my suggestion,

 

Ilona

 

~

 

 

 

Dear Papa John’s & Coca Cola,

Thank you for your reply, but my daddy won’t be able to take me for free pizza and cola. I have kept the coupons however, I’ve papered them to the wall in my room. Free sausages, burgers, fries, skittles. I have vouchers for free everything, except time.

 

 

 

 

Angela Readman’s stories have won The National Flash Fiction Day Competition, The Mslexia Prize and The Costa Short Story Award. Her collection Don’t Try This at Home won The Rubery Book Award and was shortlisted in the Edge Hill.  She’s also a poet. Her latest book is The Book of Tides (Nine Arches, 2016.)

 

More about NFFD: http://nationalflashfictionday.blogspot.com

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Myra Schneider On Grenfell

 

 

 

 

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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L Kiew

 

 

 

Rhubarb

ear-deep
amid the petioles
engorged and pink

listening
to the rain striking
a timpani of leaf-blades

my eardrums
itch after that slither
adder crowning the rhubarb

its hissing
wire-brushes my cochlea
crimson stalks
 

 

A chinese-malaysian living in London, L Kiew earns her living as an accountant. Her poems have been published in Butcher’s Dog, Ink Sweat and Tears, Lighthouse, Obsessed with Pipework, Tears in the Fence, The Scores and The North.

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