Abegail Morley's 'Family Album'

Family Album

On the scan you are tiny – a whiteness

in a dark sky. Your breath steams in patches,

ghost white strokes on the photograph.

(I want to step into the picture to see what happens.

I want to go between the blackness and the clouds).

You stitched yourself to me with fisherman's nylon,

sharp needles where your nails should have been.

But even in my warm belly you were unformed.

When your breath left, your eyes were still closed.

You would not have seen a thing.
I turn the page -
 nobody moved, nobody smiled.

(I want to pull the dark over me and find you there:

you at two, at five, at twelve).

My tongue wraps itself around you, grows limp

when I speak your name. There is urgency in my loss.

I want to unwrap it, to see it, to release it.

My body yearns for you at night. It cries.

At the end of the darkness is the thread of my child.

I carry the weight of the dead.

(I want to place my hands around your face,

my fingers stretching as you smile. My child).

*Abegail Morley’s collection How to Pour Madness into a Teacup was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection. She is guest poetry editor at The New Writer, her work appears in anthologies and journals including the Financial Times and The Spectator.  She blogs here

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Ian D Smith's Roman Holiday Blues

Roman Holiday Blues

My first visit to St Peter’s Square was cut short by a volcanic eruption. I’d been remembering a scene from Roman Holiday at the time, the one with the Mouth of Truth.  First the ground shook. Then Princess Anya pointed to the purple sky.
     “Hurry up,” she shouted.
She hooked her bag over her shoulder but was pushed back. It was beyond belief that a volcanic eruption could spoil a spring day in St Peter’s Square while the pope was taking open air mass. But the princess forced her way through the crowds with her head down and I followed.
     “No time to spare,” she said.
Outside the square, drivers were abandoning vehicles and sprinting towards the scene. I kept my camera rolling and walked as fast as I could. Our hotel was already empty by the time we dragged ourselves back. News travelled quickly, and the staff had switched off the elevators and aircon, and simply left.
In our room, I pulled the curtains back and opened the window to let some air in. I collapsed on the bed, but the princess had bundles of energy. She leaned over the camera and blew away dust.
     “Everything appears to be okay,” she said, inspecting the delicate mechanism.
I plugged in a charger and flipped out the camera. The princess sat beside me.
     “Now!” she said. “Press Play!”
I stared at the screen. I was amazed at the clarity and detail. A burning cloud of gas floated at great speed over the hills and ancient buildings. Darkness descended and the leading edge struck the pope.  His expression was not one of surprise. He raised an arm to bless humanity. Then the thousand degree heat exploded his brain like a coconut in a vice. His gown flickered and curled and vaporised. His skeleton shone and was rendered black. At the moment of carbonisation, his eyes remained open.
     “That will be the end of the fairy tale,” said the princess.

*Ian D Smith says ” I was born in Manchester and now live in Wiltshire. I hold an MA in Creative Writing, Goldsmiths.”

NB  This piece first appeared on IS&T on 2nd September 2010, but for some reason had vanished from our archives.  Posting it again, with apologies to Ian D Smith for the mysterious disappearance.  HI

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Roy Marshall's 'Presence'

And here too, in the place that loved you back,
your absence grows; in the guillotine of green-
house glass, in a trellis slung from the hips of a rose.
The sun hangs in an empty feeder, which jigs and birls
on the cherry tree, a web spans tongue to heel across
your weather-cured shoes, still two sizes too big for me.

*Roy Marshall says “I am a nurse and a dad and write a bit when I can.  A pamphlet of my poems is out in 2012 from Crystal Clear Creators.”  He blogs here.

Presence has previously appeared in New Walk magazine, Vol. 1.

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Ashley Fisher is at the beach

Dead Crabs

It was you who noticed them
and placed the first dead crab
(no larger than a ten pence coin)in my palm.
Its legs were tucked under its shell
and one pincer was missing.
The tide had left hundreds of them
scattered across the bay.

We took a token dozen to bury
and built them a cairn,
showing them the respect we felt
was due to small crabs,
before running back to the estate,
hands clutched around stolen Mars Bars,
the sea drying on the hems of our jeans.

*Ashley Fisher was born in Cumbria, England in 1976 and currently lives in East Yorkshire where he runs Fresh Ink Open Mic.

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C. Albert’s ‘Swallow’ and ‘My Mouth is a Hollowed Apple’


Another word and image pairing from our artist/poet in residence C. Albert.






My Mouth is a Hollowed Apple


I swallowed the seeds and core.

Do strawberry men feel vulnerable
wearing their seeds on the outside?

I swept the playground with a tree branch.
Boys chased me; I fell and skinned my knees.

At snack time, we had graham crackers and milk
then took a nap.

I wore a tight slip to flatten the symbols
rising on my chest.

The first boy who grabbed at them
forgot I was his friend.

Blood oranges have blemishes,
other changes no one warned me about.

I wanted the blood to stop.


*C Albert can be contacted through inksweatandtears@aol.com

My Mouth is a Hollowed Apple was first published in Soundzine

Swallow was first published in qarrtsiluni


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Two poems from Jonathan Pinnock

Cartoon Characterisation

Contrary to popular
belief, Yosemite Sam
is a keen advocate
of gun control and a staunch
vegetarian. He doesn’t even
live in

Yosemite. Instead, he
shares an apartment in
the Castro area of San
Francisco with his
long-term partner,

Fudd . They are often
to be seen walking along
the Bay shore, hand
in hand, accompanied by
one of their many pet


Waking up is too welcoming a phrase
to describe the process:
it’s more a case of smashing his way
through a concrete wall,
head first.

If he weren’t in so much pain,
he’d probably be wondering if
the brassière and thong
he’s wearing so inexpertly
belong to the stranger
in the bed next to him,

and having pondered that,
he might move on to marvelling
at how that bed
had come to be
upon the roof.

*Jonathan Pinnock has written all sorts of stuff and has been published all over the place. His novel Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens will be published by Proxima in Autumn 2011. He blogs at www.jonathanpinnock.com  and tweets as @jonpinnock. Mrs Darcy has her own website at www.mrsdarcyvsthealiens.com.

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Beverly Ellis's 'Tool-kit'


Just before the end,
the ward sister told us
how the nursing auxiliary
found her sitting up one day,
using the pointed end
of a metal nail-file, trying
to adjust a little spring-valve
that controlled the rate of dosage
from the morphine-drip:
file from the same manicure set
returned to us in official plastic,
same manicure set we had saved for
and wrapped forty years earlier:
zipped white leather
with a gaping red interior.

*Beverly Ellis set out to be a novelist, but was waylaid by poetry and is currently half-way through an MA in the subject.  Her work explores the disputed borderlines of society and the other-worlds of the paranormal.

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