Colin Cross says its a dead cert never is forever


who was a man
who would bet
on anything
and had a
staunch hatred
of anything  German
as his father
was a victim
of world war two
died just days
England beat Germany
5 – 1 at football
it's a dead cert
he would have
hated to know
he'd missed that

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


the days
when we thought
– everything
is forever
until it isn't –
have long gone
now much older
and wiser
we realise
– nothing
is forever
even if it is –

Colin Cross lives in Norwich and is a regular IS&T contributor

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Two short cuts by Abbie Clark

Short vinegar

My vinegar is balsamic
My neighbour is Islamic
It’s a mixed leaf world
I’m an eclectically cultural girl

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Time to invest

Tinged green by the cheap imitation jewellery she understood that it was time to stop making necklaces from brussel sprouts.

* Abbie Clark is a purveyor of the bizarre, a radio presenting activist and a consumer of chai latte.

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Pat Jourdan's listening to the fisherman's wife

The Fisherman's Wife Speaks

There's not a silver dish left
in all this town.
The fish have vanished now,
all boats sliding into scrap.
We see closed shipyards, clanking empty chains
on documentaries on TV.
Trawlermen congregate outside the bookies
casting about trying to net horses.
The harbour's edge crumbles into the sea;
we are embarrassed, don't walk there any more.
Your father has fierce rows down at the dole,
his muscles deteriorating into loose flab,
his oilskins left hanging on the backdoor peg.
Thumbed tide-tables lose their relevance,
the sea is left to lap and smash as it wants –
we stay indoors muttering.
Instead of Wednesday's shoals of fish
we live on tinned sardines from Portugal
eked out with chips and mushy peas
kidding us it's still the old times.
There's not one silver dish left
in all this town.
Dance to tha' daddy now.
Dance for me.

Pat Jourdan's latest collection is The Cast Iron Shore from Erbacce Press. Trained as an artist in Liverpool, she has spent many years in Ireland

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Two works by Nigel Pickard

We've a choice of styles for you today – verse poetry and a prose poem – enjoy…


something funny:
that’s your usual way.

She’s thrown her head back
and laughed. You like her

because she’s not afraid
to do this. You like her

because she laughs
at your jokes, your asides:

she’d be next to you
to get those, and give them

back herself, she’d
always be next to you.

You’re both bright, unlined;
just the creases

of laughter around
your mouths, your eyes;

and light in whorls
on the wall behind.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Another Sunday, and traffic’s beached up. Stores cliff the tides, their chattering shores, the day breathing fire in our familiar faces, prodding us under our ribs. There’s fag ends scattering the tarmac like crabs’ legs, and families keen to bury each other. The temperature gets even higher: we lean into it like a brick wall. Some kids splash in a small forecourt of shadows, Olympic with ice-cream. We buy a fridge, to live inside. Stores cliff the tides, their chattering shores. Men with metal detectors mourn. The sky breaks, like teeth.

* Nigel Pickard is a regular IS&T contributor. His first collection Making Sense was published by Shoestring (2003) and his first novel One was published by Bookcase (2005).

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New prose by Bobby Parker

Spinner’s End
(fragments of disappointment, alienation, babbling and resolve)

There were no cakes in the tin, but it was a very pretty tin decorated with rainbows melting into the electric image of people laughing in their adult world… And it was all a con. We wanted something sweet, and the tin was so pretty; however we couldn’t know for certain that it was empty… just had to reach inside for ourselves, feel around with itchy fingers, hope for a crumb, a chocolate chip… A heartfelt letter from the cake tin maker explaining everything . . .

(I want to feel the way I did when I was young, when cakes were dreams!)

I’ll sell my soul to the way you all move around, press your lips and bodies together, make sounds with your mouths and expect others to do the same, earn enough money to be able to sleep without that sensation of falling through the mattress, waste love on those who that do not deserve it, stay friends with people out of habit and not because they are particularly interesting or you care how they feel… I’ll sell my soul to the way you pray and laugh and scratch your heads at the stars, the way you look in mirrors at your bodies and wonder what a little muscle could do, the way you talk to people you don’t really like because it would be rude not to, and the way you bury your dead and bring them flowers instead of apologies, and OH MAN I’ll sell my soul to the way you think and breathe mass media manipulation

if it means the girl who wants to marry me
won’t mind blowing bubbles in the wind
and the occasional giggling fit
at the way you all look so funny
with your serious faces

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sentimental Crap, what?

It was my turn to walk old Frank home. The snow outside had been falling steadily, tremendously, for most of the night. A white world untouched. Three o’clock in the morning, pub lock-in, everybody drunk and high and singing along to The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel. It was warm in The Comberton Arms. Cosy. Old Frank smiled into his ale and nodded to the door, ‘Come on, we’ll sing The Old Rugged Cross…’ The old swine! The old crook everybody loved! I rolled a cigarette. Slapped my face a few times to the bemusement of hardened drinkers. John mopped the bar with a filthy little cloth, his eyes rolling and streaked with red.  Kath pulled up her top and her middle-aged breasts bulged out of her stained bra like massive marshmallows. What a night! Winter 1999… seven days until my birthday, eight days until a whole new century. Hang on, Frank, hang on! We shuffled out the door and he hooked his frail arm round mine. I wanted to tell him how much he reminded me of a dickens character, with his crumpled hat, crumpled coat, crumpled eyes, crumpled ways! But when we saw that snow outside we gasped, and the air froze our lungs, and it felt good and clean and the closest thing to being pure. Not a footprint out there. No tyres had ploughed the roads. It crunched under our feet. Heaven! Heaven! And we didn’t say a word. We crossed the road. Staggered past the shops and the church that looked wonderfully eerie among the falling flakes and wind-blow-howl so cold. The booze seemed to have rushed from out the top of our heads and into the wink and shine of crystal stars… we didn’t say a word… his arm hooked round mine… his little shuffled steps slippered with layers of fluffy snow… we were sober, I could tell; by the time we approached the gate to his little bungalow our steps had become steady, even professional; we could’ve walked up a mountain and hugged a frozen cloud, or brushed the brilliant inky dark with our eyebrows! He unhooked his arm from mine and opened the wooden gate. At the same time, we both looked back from where we came, the cosy lights of The Comberton Arms that seemed, now, so very sad… our footprints in the white, white, white… what are we here for? What am I going to become? How did you get here, Frank? How did you find your way to such a magnificent age? But, still, we did not speak… he leaned his weight, light as a paper bag filled with feathers and tissues and cigar smoke, and he looked around: the wonderfully eerie church, the snow, the snow, Heaven!… our footprints… the sad, yet cosy lights… freezing air in our lungs like the breath of the beginning and the end – Old Frank looked at me with shining eyes, wise eyes, ‘Don’t grow old, Bob. Don’t ever become old like me.’ But there was a hint of a smile. He tottered up to his front door and didn’t turn back to see me biting my lip. I lurched around and sang The Old Rugged Cross, suddenly drunker than ever, and the cosy, sad lights of The Comberton Arms disappeared in a world of white, world of age, world of wonder…      

Bobby Parker lives in Kidderminster (England) has poems published/accepted in/by Agenda, Obsessed With Pipework, Fire, Iota, Rain Dog, Cauldron, The Coffee House, Curlew, Krax, Weyfarers, Purple Patch and Urban District Writers.

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New haiga by Charles Christian

* IS&T editor Charles Christian likes to keep his postings to a minimum but with the UK currently enjoying a St Martin's Summer (Oh, look it up) here's a seasonal haiga.

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Two poems by Karen Kelsay

I Believe

Mrs. Allen, why did you tell us
second-graders that our guardian
angels wouldn’t follow us into
a liquor store? I spent hours
wondering how to get M&M’s
from the corner market, where Baileys
and Smirnoff bottles loomed
like Satanic shadows
over the register.
Huddled with my friend
on the curb, we could see
the candy close to the door –
Of course one earthquake,
and we’d be on our own.
My father scoffed at religion –
we let him go in for us.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Your name was almost forgotten,
smudged from my memory – until
yesterday, when I overheard some women
saying they liked you, and you were still
available. Funny, thirty minutes later, I saw
you waiting there, as if you knew I was coming.
Certainly, with all those women pressing
around you, I found myself growing more attentive.
What would they say if they knew that long ago
you were once mine? That I tossed you away?
Your body looks more attractive that ever.
I let you touch my wrist, just once more, before
I leave. Then, slowly, I remember what it was
about you that I hated: that clingy
overpowering way of yours; how you
nauseated me by the end of each day –
You, horrid perfume.

* Karen Kelsay grew up in Southern California, and loves writing poetry about the sea. At the same time, she has written narrative, romantic, and fairy-theme poems that were created with other backgrounds and foreign lands in mind. Her first book – Collected Poems by Karen Kelsay – was published in June 2008, and a chapbook titled A Fist of Roots is scheduled to be published by Puddinghouse Press later this year.

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