Two poems by Colin Cross


this morning
as I walked past
the Methodist church
whose notice board
is always telling us
such things as
“Christ is everywhere”
I saw
two scruffily dressed
old men with beards
seated on the steps
sharing a bottle
of cider
I could only assume
that it was Jesus
and one of his
and that
having been locked
out of the church
Jesus had seen fit
to perform a variation
of his water into wine
yet my instincts
told me otherwise


I once worked with
a girl called Susan
who had an
identical twin sister
called Jane
she was a liar
and the twins
were so alike
that they were
in fact
one and the same
I went out
with both of them

• Colin Cross lives in Norwich (England) and has numerous poems published in small press zines throughout the UK, Europe and USA. He is a regular contributor to IS&T.

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New work by Samantha Desmond

Fucking at work

Lust can happen in a second or a year
But let me tell you it always dies.
It can produce the sublime
Butterflies being released en masse
On your wedding day
But remember lover, its also the shiny apple
Each bite will bring us closer to divorce.

Swimming in Sugar

The pubic hair sticks together
closing me off from any release.
Only Semen could dilute
The stickiness that’s sogging the brain,
pushing me back into the sheets.

It fuses my fingers together
So I have claws instead of fists.
I’m left defenceless
To let the syrup drown me
But for everyone else to say
How sweet I’ve become

You attract more with honey then you do
with my brand of acid vinegar,
Or so my mother taught me.
She likes to make my father
sticky toffee pudding-
That’s why they’ve been married
for more then twenty five years.

21st Century Helen

Against the bricks of a garden wall,
a rubbish bin for support.
I had prophesised
my own baptism for years –
a dirty Cassandra soiling clothes.
Now, mud was streaking up my thighs.
Neighbours twitching curtains
as I pulled back my legs.
This is how I became nothing more
than a fast fuck on a front lawn.

• Samantha Desmond is taking an MA in Creative & Critical Poetry at Winchester.

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I was somewhere else – by Simon Abbott

I was somewhere else

I was somewhere else when she said life is fine.
Awoken to myself by the fire and the wine.
Her words startled me but they do everytime
She has a revelation of this kind.

How long will this last? She said she thinks its for good.
Strong with my grasp I said you’re misunderstood.
This is the second today and I’m bored of you more.
Can’t you just say that life is a bore.

She stood above me, sand fell from her skirt.
She told me she loved me, clasped my hand till it hurt.
And again she ran, far out of sight.
Reciting her plan as she does every night.

College she shouted I’ll finish my degree
And become an accountant, with authority.
But I knew she’d return disappointed tomorrow.
Awake all the night sulking shores of sorrow.

Eventual fire to embers, the wine tipped to sand.
In my dreams I remember the tight grip of her hand.
Together we’ve been since our childhood pact.
Now my only purpose might never come back.

My eyes awake first, unaware I exist
They appreciate the colours that the majority miss.
Another line on my tally tells me its almost three weeks.
I’ve been lying every alley and walked all the streets.

Still I haven’t seen her. She must have left town.
The unjust arena doesn’t want me around.
The life I oppose for her I somewhat approve
And when the tides at my toes I won’t bother to move.

• Simon Abbott is a student at the Norwich School of Art & Design, where he says he is currently studying the art of mind manipulation.

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Two new concrete poems by Christopher Major

Regular IS&T contributor Chris Major starts off the week with two highly topical concrete poems…

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P.A. Levy reads a Victorian novel

Victorian Novel

I first saw you
                                half way down
                                                                    page four

in a paragraph
                                I knew it then
                                                                    that you and I
                                                                                                    would be more than

just background
                                                                    but we would
                                                                                                    have to wait

until the bottom
                                of page
                                                                    seventy eight
                                                                                                    before we would

eventually meet
                                and then wait
                                                                    yet again
                                                                                                    until the bottom

of page three
                                hundred and sixty
                                                                    seven before we

if only
                                this wasn’t
                                                                    a Victorian

we could have
                                                                    at the start
                                                                                                    of page

P.A. Levy says… “I'm a Cockney sparrow now living in exile in the beautiful Suffolk countryside.”

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Two works by Peter Wilkin

The Soul's Code

“In the acorn lies not only the completion of life before it is lived but
the dissatisfied frustration of unlived life” …James Hillman

My soul is a well
deeper than the depth of me
all my ago's
oozy with echoes
a sinus of imagoes and long shadows
cast by dragon's breath

I am who I was
dredges of star spills
rusted creaks of space
drips of iron-drops
filmy trickles, orange pools
of rusting pearls

My birth was a cry
seeded in Eden
guided by mavericks and peculiar ladies
blessed by the dawdling shepherds
of arcadia, high-jacked through
drooly lure of central revenue

I don't though I must
and what fury I feel
coming late to the tree and finding
only empty cupules –
oh when will I learn to seek not
the place but to follow the itch?

The mental doctor

The mental doctor keeps his madness hidden in a weather-house. It is separate from him: wrapped in the sodden folds of the rainlady's skirts. He is a fine-weather medic unsplashed by delusions and grey mizzles of gloom. Sheltered by sanitary sunlight, he apricates vainly in the swell of a saneday. Should brainstorms crackle angrily and minds begin to roar, he is never under the weather. He simply smiles wrongly in a restless shift of kindness and, as the very first droplet of lunacy stains the paving, beats a hasty retreat into his cloister – always slightly too quickly to witness the pallid figure of a woman emerging from the neighbouring box.

Star-still and shrinking with shame, her sallow face is whelmed with uncried tearstains and glistens of rain. Drenched in crazy showers she is ever the other: caught in a deluge of projections. Bruised blue by a physic flung with such force, she is paraded naked under the watchman's gaze.

Roosting in shadows, the doctor is bone dry, safe from the howling squalls that needlesting the cheeks of the rainlady. She stands and shivers, perished with humiliation. He is weatherproof and watertight; western and white (on the inside); his asylum is a suntrap where the beauty of the rain never dawns.

One bright moonrise the heavens break down and empty a torrent of water onto the weather-house. The iron gears scrape and the slippery oil-shined wheel creaks to a judder as the mechanism sticks fast. Saturated and ratdrowned, clothes clinging cold, the mental doctor stiffens like a corpse, frozen in the gaze of the rainlady. Homeless and exposed, he feels the angst driving like nails through his veins. His knees collapse under the heft of his rood as, clammy and heart-hammered, he staggers to the edge of his existence.

Suddenly, his breaking eyes fix on a figure. In the soft mud under the loom of a thousand crosses, the rainlady kneels weeping. Her arms stretch out towards him and, dumb with trust, he takes from her a cup and raises it to his mouth. At once, her maudlin ceases and the doctor, humbled with passion, stumbles under her devotion. She has given him the starlight from her soul … the very all of her … yet expects nothing in return.

The skies clear … and a violet tingling of wisdom begins to surge through the doctor's body. He has discovered the rainlady's being. In a flickering of death he has reached out and touched her for the first time … and she has released him from the bedlam of his sanity. As indigo shades of nightfall gather, he lies down in weariness. Though the rainlady is no longer with him, he feels the heat of her breath as he drifts in reverie between yawling trees and Galilean moons. Her shackles of difference have been snapped and her spirit rises softly, now, in his paradox of faith.

Morning becomes … ushered in by a solitary birdsong; a hallelujah feathered with grace. A dewy film has settled upon the doctor's body and the first splashes of sunrise begin to bleed over the horizon. As he wakens he feels a true sense of purpose welling within him. He is filled with otherness. He sees no single part of the breaking day but is consumed by the whole colour of it.

Bathed in salvation, he whispers a stream of blessings to the rainlady (who is not there but will always be a part of him), yet he feels no reason to offer her any more than his heart-flung words. Lit by amber shimmerings of ashes, he walks the short journey downhill to the scene of all his denials … and the weather house has tumbled down.

When the rain comes again, the doctor stands among the rubble of his crumbled hideaway. He removes his shoes and walks on the wetlands, feet stained green, shrammed with the pelt and the glory … and all around him, as far as the brain can smell, the warm floods of summer swallow his soul safely.

• Peter Wilkin says “I recently retired as a nurse psychotherapist, which has given me space to reflect and capture pieces of living in clusters of words.”

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Three poems by Geoff Stevens

Made up with Rimmel
but the wires still show
your skin transparent
the flesh like Pears Soap
you are a robot of the age
fed by impulses from the media
and radio waves from an environment
installed and maintained by The State.
CCTV spies on you
watches your every mood and move
its unseen operators pushing the buttons
and moving the levers
correcting any deviation from the prescribed.
You think that you are your own person
but you are not a person at all
but a toy being played with
by the spoilt brats of governance.

You have no reservations
the signs in your eyes
say Bed & Breakfast

STONY PLACE (The Burren)
Grey mud
over which someone has ridden
a heavy bicycle
mud frozen into lava
a huge rotting hippo or rhinocorus
of a place
the ribs showing through the carcass
flowers from the Artic
and from the Mediterranean
like honey in the lion's entrails
on the Golden Syrup tin
both being visited by bees
It is a graveyard of history
with floweres
ancient bodies buried here
tombs of stone
celtic crosses nearby
inscribed by gaelic lorraine
daytime and the place
may be lit by weak sunshine
and camera flash
dusk and the sun dies
with its blood light
soaking into the limestone
• Geoff Stevens is a regular contributor to IS&T – and also check out his pictures in the right-hand column.

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