Mark McDonnell remembers a meeting


Here we are on this sloping ground amongst the pine trees. Low cloud ingests the mountain tops. You, oblivious to the scree and the roots, the rivulets and the mud, in your usual black town shoes and a raincoat. In my waterproofs and walking boots I feel almost protective of you; short, white-haired. I smelled your pipe amongst the pines, espied you amongst the mountain ash. I’m glad you came over to talk. I suppose you know North Wales? Came out from Liverpool in your youth to tackle the Horseshoe, Crib Gogh? I glance sideways at you with your hands in your raincoat pockets, white stubble on your chin. In recent years we have hugged more. You are talking of Owen Glyndwr, Edward I building castles to keep the Welsh down. Your epic, from terraced house to Oxford First is engrained in me. It’s how we always talk. History is always our currency. Anything more direct would be labelled “maudlin”. People don’t love; they are “fond of each other”. Your smooth soles slip a little on the wet stones by the lake. I go to take your arm. That head with the same hair as mine, between my head and my son’s. Your other sons and grandsons at your sides and at your feet to guide you from the altar to the earth. I suppose it’s the only time you carry your father or grandfather. When you carried me proud up on your shoulders your wavy brown hair was a horse’s mane. You would easily have convinced me, once, that there were bears in these woods. We would have stepped silently and been hunters together.

* Mark McDonnell worked in Miami, Barcelona and Cambridge in (legal) drugs. Write on planes and trains; love languages (Chinese at the moment).

Read More

Two prose poems by Katrina Naomi

For A

A wasn’t one of the first, just one of the first to speak. A couldn’t say all of the words. I wasn’t a judge, A wouldn’t have one of those, but I believed the parts of A’s story she would allow. Permission is uppermost. Her country is R, this doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it happened to her. A told me. I wrote it down. A’s eyes were wet, A kept telling what she could. One of the soldiers used his rifle. This is happening, still.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Elephant Facts

An elephant’s trunk has the greatest sensitivity, the greatest flexibility. I have seen an elephant pick up threads of silk with its trunk, swoon with the scent. Threads from a young girl’s sari, scarlet they were, like her welts after the last beating from her father. Her father was well known, the chief of mahouts.

Three weeks later, that same elephant threw the chief of mahouts, calmly trod on each of his fingers. Scarlet.

* Katrina Naomi's pamphlet Lunch at the Elephant & Castle (2008) is available from Templar Poetry – – and she is working on a first full length collection due to be published by Templar Poetry in October.

Read More

Jack Kerouac reads some haiku

Here's a treat from the archives, a recording of Jack Kerouac reading some of his haiku with a background accompaniment of jazz riffs. It all sounds a little corny now but back then (the recording must be late 1950s) this was the epitome of being part of the cool Beat Generation scene. It's also an early example of what we'd now call performance poetry – and it's a valiant attempt to add a little extra to a reading of haiku, which otherwise tend to end way before an audience has got into them.

Read More

Some flash fiction for a Friday by Vanessa Gebbie

Beer, wallet

You left your wallet. I will ring you, let you know. And no, I won’t do anything silly with the cards. I won’t even look for the photo of me you used to keep in the side pocket. I expect it’s gone. I need a drink. I expect I’ll go to the fridge, get one of your beers.

Maybe not.

You know, I remember the first time I knew I loved you. And the first time you knew it too. We were in a car, a few others. Can’t remember who, now, there was just you, to my right, your thigh, some tape playing, your leg jigging. I wanted to put my hand on your thigh, Feel you. Just that.

I needed cash. You pulled up at this cash point you knew. Empty street, then me on the pavement with my card, the door open. The music playing. I put my card in the machine, waited, listened to the music. If I turned round, I’d see the car. You. The others. Laughing. The door open, my place empty.

Pin number, it said. I tapped. 2648.
Nothing. I tapped again, 4826.
I knew those were the right numbers. The last two made a year that meant something. 2684. Nothing.

You turned off the music. My breathing was fast. A footstep. A hand on my shoulder.

“Jen? Problems?”

I turned. I couldn’t look up. There was a thread pulled on your jumper.

“I forgot my number,” I said. Then your hand under my chin, and you, bending down, making me look at you. The streetlight shone in my eyes, blinding me.

You took out your wallet. Same one. “Silly,” you said. Your voice, shaking.

* Vanessa Gebbie writes poetry and prose, and runs an online forum called Fiction Workhose – you can find out more about her work here +

Read More

Anne Brooke is worrying about Shakespeare

Anne Brooke says she's started worrying about Shakespeare and upside-down haikus. Here's one…

A Shakespeare precis:

Man is born, and dies.
Only love remains
or the memory of sin.

* Anne Brooke has recently been surprised by an early spring, which drew her attention from her virtual hideaway of – temporarily.

Read More

New concrete poetry by Chris Major

With the new Peter Postlethwaite movie The Age of Stupid currently portraying an apocalyptic representation of what could happen to Planet Earth in just 50 years buy isotretinoin pharmacy time if climate control is not kept in check now, IS&T's resident concrete poet Chris Major is looking at the fate of Polar Bears…

Read More

Newamba issues a warning

Punch You in the Face


The next time I see you

I’m going to punch you in the face

Don’t ask me why
I’m not really sure
It could be that thing you said to me a long time ago
That I forgot and you can’t recall
But, nonetheless, it pissed me off

Maybe it’s because you like that song My Humps by the Black Eyed Peas
Maybe it’s because you talk too much during movies
Or possibly it pertains to the peculiar sound you make when you eat

Perhaps it’s the way you look in a hat
Perhaps it’s the things you say to my cat
(I’m glad she always hisses and scratches you)

Whatever it is
I’m going to punch you in the face
And I’ll record it and upload it to the internet, too
So you and everyone
Will know and will see
That you got punched in the face
Punched in the face
By me

* Newamba Flamingo was born and raised on a chicken farm in the Florida Keys by a suicidal cult of transvestite prostitutes who dressed up in gorilla suits and played loud Polka music from distorted speakers at all hours of the night. After escaping the chicken farm, he was taken hostage by an Elvis impersonator that forced him at gunpoint to write poetry. He was later able to flee from the Elvis impersonator and now wanders the streets of South Beach in a purple tutu, spitting out bizarre poems as he pleases. His work has been published and featured at 10K Poets, BadWriter, NC Lowbrow, MySpace, EveryPoet.Net, PoemHunter, and various toilet stalls across Florida.

Read More