Two new poems by Chris Major

An Easter Sacrifice In 2007
 
I've given up writing long
poems for Lent….
 
 
– – – – – – – – –
 
 
Hospice
 
Not at all what
was expected:
chintz and soft furnishings,
shag muffling the
med trolley's rattle.
A flower-filled lounge
where we sat and talked,
stretched imagination
to happier times,
snagging on a game,
a girl,
a party,
its recoil slapping
you to silence
and misty eyes.
 
Amongst magazines
and figurines,
carpets and cushions
we could be anywhere,
just the mundane text
of ordinary lives,
'til sunlight brushes
the pleasant room,
highlights your skin
in yellow…….

Read More

New poetry by Dean Cummings

The membrane above my neck

the grey deep forest is my mind
busy with the unimportant
each complicated day when
one hope is pulled from the roots
down with decay

past experience is regretfully dumped
in black waste bags left to rot
in the forest where no eyes care to lie

waste only used once
then detached
brown
disposed of
consumers of trendy shells
just worn once with fear of rejection

I could build a stream
a creative and confident stream
feeding my experience, assisting my sunlight
to grow
to bind
to give life to this dying forest

• Dean Paul Cummings was born in Carmarthen in 1983 and, after working in the media industry for four years, is currently teaching drama to children and young people in South Wales.

Read More

Two new poems by Matthew Howard

One from the cave
 
A cave man and a cave man and a cave man
found themselves upright in a cave,
found their limbs suddenly dexterous
found their fingers feeling into articulations;
and they were laughing, well, not as we know it
but a sort of chattering, incredulous
at the good result that had fallen into their hands
(these things going searching from them)
and they felt they had to mark it somehow,
such an occasion wouldn’t come again,
so they stood together at the mouth of the cave
and looking out they just knew this was all theirs,
but right then one scoops up a rock and smashes
it into the skull of the one to his left
(it could have been the one to his right)
anyway, and he smashes and he smashes and he smashes
and it’s like this thing pushes through to his fingers,
so he keeps going and he’s covered in all strange
new stuff and he wants to know what else is in there
so he beats and smashes (he’s so strong!) he doesn’t stop
until he’s just hitting the earth of the cave floor,
until the soil’s all slopped with this hot sticky stuff;
but the funny thing is this one wasn’t any stronger
or taller or better – he just did this first,
as if a synapse sparked sooner or something
behind his eyes sharpened its focus on this compunction.
And so just then, the other cowed at the heel
of the sweating one’s side and they watched
 
the long flow out the mouth of the cave –
a new beast streaking freely on the plains.
 
Or so it went,
and so it goes.
 

– – – – – – – – –
 

Hand Dryer: A Vanitas
 
The auto downward jolt
of hot air on my hands
shocked; the blast-stretched skin
showed new transparencies
of bone under flesh.
 
God, the bastard blows hard.

Matthew Howard is in his late 20's and works in Norwich in the insurance industry. He is currently taking the Diploma in Advanced Poetry at the UEA which is taught by Sarah Law and Helen Ivory.

Read More

New haibun by Anne Brooke

A journey with my father
 
You walk in shades of brown and metal. My tiny hand in yours is lost. A leaf consumed by the tree, I laugh and jump imaginary puddles. My yellow boots mark time on the ground and you smile.
 
autumn sifts your blood
sugar and spice and all things
drowned in your dark eye
 
I smell of spring, you of grass and gunshot, the acidity of apples, green and red, the emeralds and rubies my mother wears for Christmas. You are a fox or a badger hunting as the sky turns brindled-grey for winter.
 
the crows do not sing
their black wings weighed down in ice
penetrate my flesh
 
The trees are silent now and even the apples, like jewels, have fallen, rotted to mulch on the infertile soil. My hand hangs loose, a seed in the wind, unplanted. A torn leaf. The boots are packed away and the puddles are dry.
 
thirty years after
I bear just your one gold ring
and carry your name

• Anne Brooke was born in Essex but lives in Surrey. Nobody's shopped her yet. She can be found at www.annebrooke.com which also includes details of her latest novel A Dangerous Man.

Read More

New flash fiction by Paola Trimarco

Grizzly

Shit, no, she thought. He can’t be dead. He just can’t be.

Grizzly hadn’t woken up. He would sit in the same polyester shirt and trousers every time Angie saw him at the same table in the reference room. While she thumbed through career guides and circled job ads, he read only newspapers and at about 2:30 dozed off for some twenty minutes under the pages of the New York Times. Despite the stench of his unwashed clothes and silent farts, she didn’t mind sitting across from him. He seemed like a gentle soul who enjoyed a good read. Nothing wrong with that. Being there with him, this stranger, made her feel more authentic among the down and outs. She had to reach an all time low in order to delete the mess that had been her life and start anew. A phoenix couldn’t rise from the ashes if there weren’t any.


Grizzly wasn’t his real name. It was the name she gave him for his part in the private world in her head. With his tangled salt-and-peppered beard and Moses hair, he reminded her of the character of Grizzly Adams from the old television programme she watched as a child.


It was 4:30 and he was still asleep. Not even the slightest twitch. No asthmatic breathing. She feigned a few coughs to stir him. But nothing happened.


He’s dead. She was sure of it now. Grizzly had become just a shell of a life, left behind, slumped forward on the industrial-strength wooden table. She glanced at his head and suddenly thought she had mistaken him with someone else – was this Grizzly? Or was it some old woman? An old homeless woman that would be her – that perhaps was her – a glitch in the time space continuum had placed her with her older self. Her heart jumped. She stuffed her notepad into her briefcase and sped to the door.

• Paola Trimarco is a playwright and author. Her short stories and essays have appeared in several literary magazines and newspapers, including The Guardian. Her play The Seventh Magpie is going to premiere at The Pulse Festival 2007.

Read More