Beth Grimm

 

 

Sir Richard Burton invites the apes to dine
after Walton Ford’s ‘The Sensorium’

It began a civilized affair. The table was laden
with mangos, with pomegranates and plums
and set on the veranda. Such guests
as we were not welcome inside.

A macaque savoured the cabernet,
though complained of a woody note.
and the common langoor refused to sit
at table; he knew his place.

His golden cousin, an orientalist,
was inclined to yawn; he tossed
holy men’s pornography to the ground. A tail
coiled around the chair leg, became a rope.

Ladies cried sacrilege when Burton
determined to learn every language of ape and man.
Simian dictionaries burned
and Babel crumbled, phoneme by phoneme.

The Rhesus boys fought with bared teeth.
Satsumas tumbled, I stared
to a horizon lined with eucalyptus
and watched syllables fall.

 

 

Beth Grimm grew up in South Yorkshire but has spent much of her adult life flitting around Central and Eastern Europe. She believes poetry, music and languages to be a single entity.

 

 

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Stephen Nelson

 

 

The Air Proclaims a Union

Inside the inside of the orange. Or inside the outside. Forces elemental rather than particular. The peel, the pulp seen from particles outward.

*

My surroundings feel more and more like the manifestation of an exquisite mystery. A tree can be intensely alive while whispering tenderness. All communicates love, saps love from the source. Lost childhood might shimmer from the heat. Possibilities for the heart in a sudden wink of sun.

*

Summer stacks oranges where Jesus wept. Tones of wet cheek in yellow sunlight. Swallows for evenings of more love than I can bear.

*

The neighbourhood now in singular emanation. Flow of light beyond this or that. Trees pour into buildings, stream into streets with cries of —. I am almost inside what appears outwith myself. Inside, delicious, formless, taste.

*

Glowing green, huddling, laughing. Laughing me in. Huddling spring of oranges. Scent so supernal, all forms dissolve.

*

Where I sit, the swallows are brightest. They launch the mystery and I sip myself. There may be an opening I’ve emerged from but that’s not important. Whether I release these thoughts or this awareness is also beside the point. What matters is an endless stream of edgeless blending, expressed before I even step outside.

*

Flowering consciousness amongst petals. Reality pruned, then buttered. The godflight of insects. All on the vine. Bees, baths, branches.

*

As I move, I extend and gather what appears to be. The sun is internalised as ways of knowing, but caught in shades and lush.  Movement may be my way of a continuum, the deepest taking part in. To stay in breath for a moment, and without seeing, seen.

 

 

 

Stephen Nelson is the author of Lunar Poems for New Religions and Flylyght  (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press). His visual poetry has been exhibited at the 2011 Text Festival in Manchester and the 2012 Maintenant Art Fair in London, and will be included in The Last Vispo   anthology. There are two chapbooks of his visual poetry and an ebook on contemplative spirituality available via his blog www.afterlights.blogspot.com  , where he posts vispo, minimalist poetry and mystical essays. Recent publication of his poetry can be found at Eratio , Moria , Otoliths, Shadowtrain  and Blue & Yellow Dog.
 

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Bobby Parker

 

 

The Creative Man

Our first cramped council house
was taken up by the mahogany
dining table my dad used for a desk.
I remember beautiful fountain pens;
jars of cloudy water; coffee cups
spotted with ink.
The way his soft shadows
darkened across a dozen
crumpled work sheets when I lost
my way and started setting fires.
I wonder what he dreams about
now that his life is still, waiting
for an artist to study him. I’ve been
meaning to ask what happened
to the beautiful fountain pens.
The pictures that made me smile.
Maybe I’m afraid
of the answer, I don’t know.
Sometimes I think, if we had
the money, I’d like to buy
everything he needs to start again.
And if he doesn’t want to start again,
perhaps we could find space for another
mahogany table. More pens and jars
of cloudy water. Hoping one dark Sunday,
when the rusty smell of a gathering storm
whispers down the stairs, I will find
the picture he was meant to draw
waiting in the smoke of his absence.

 

 

 

Bobby Parker was born in 1982. He lives in Kidderminster, England. His most recent collections are Ghost Town Music and Comberton (knivesforksandspoonspress), Digging for Toys and the limited edition chapbook Building Murder with a Smile.

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David Coldwell

 

Threadbare

This blanket that I took from you
at six, you never forgave me.
A christened gift that you wrapped
your dolls in and sniffed, sleeping,
dreaming, breathing deeply.

White threads like a net remind me
of the blanket, bloodstained and wet
that they wrapped his body in
after throwing him against the wall,
the papers said. The one his mother threw out

with soured milk and bedding whilst
the neighbour’s television blared out.
The one I found in the rain, in a skip
marked no fires that should have had
a light on, but didn’t.

And we stood on guard for days,
listening to all the neighbours,
and once the circus ourhealthissues.com left for good
we relocated all the flowers.

And you sulked at me for days
with your lip out, not speaking, until
I cracked and gave in, unravelling the bag
that you’d found hidden; my secret,
filled with all the evidence.

 

 

David Coldwell lives and works in the village of Marsden on the edge of the Pennines in West Yorkshire. Once a script writer for corporate clients, David now works in public services and, as well as writing and performing poetry, David is also an accomplished artist exhibiting landscape paintings throughout a number of galleries.
 

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Jason Sturner

 

 

Morning Rain
for Kelly Sturner

This morning there was much rain,
forcing the birds into trees,
the butterflies beneath leaves.

I stand at the open window,
listening for the cool silence
between raindrops.

I begin to wonder
about time machines,
about being fully absorbed into the future:

The full view of a sunset
from our porch chairs,
a cat resting at our feet.
Faces aged, a hand
holding a hand.

And the wind
comes down from flowered hills,
filling the home with fragrances.
Everything is golden orange
like a softly glowing jewel.

I blink and turn from the window.
Another routine day begins.
The echoes of my heartbeat
will mingle with the rain.

 

 

Jason Sturner grew up in the Fox River Valley area of Illinois, where he has worked as an elevator operator, rock drummer, graphic designer, naturalist and botanist. He currently lives near the Great Smoky Mountains. His website can be found here

 

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Sarah Bower reviews ‘Killing Daniel’ by Sarah Dobbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first thing to be said about Sarah Dobbs’ debut novel is that it does not, in fact, involve killing Daniel. Daniel, the shy deaf boy whose gentle love for Fleur seems, at the outset, to offer her her only hope of redemption, is dead from the get go. Fleur, however, cannot and will not let his memory go, and never does. Arguably, therefore, Daniel is the one person who does not, in some way, die during the course of this uncompromisingly bleak novel.

Killing Daniel tells the stories of three people at crisis points in their lives: Fleur, her former school friend, Chinatsu, and Chinatsu’s husband, Yugi. Each of them harbours a destructive secret and each spends most of the novel teetering on the brink of total disintegration. The action is divided between Tokyo and an unnamed fictional town on the outskirts of Manchester. The characteristics of these settings serve to reinforce the contrast between the material circumstances of Fleur, for most of the novel jobless and living with her grandmother, and Chinatsu who,  as the wife of a wealthy Tokyo businessman, has a beautiful home, limitless wardrobe, several servants, and leisure in damaging quantities.

Dobbs casts a cool and forensic eye over relationships between men and women, and does not seem to like what she sees. Though there is sex aplenty in the novel, most of it is loveless and much of it perverted. There is a prevailing sense that men damage women, in obvious ways by treating them with violence and more subtly by suffocating them with overweening economic power. This makes the women, in their turn, incapable of emotional commitment, and so the vicious circle is completed. That this is very often the case is undeniable; one has only to think about certain current news stories to comprehend its prevalence and to feel somewhat downcast by the apparent lack of progress made by feminism.

However, while Dobbs writes powerfully about the potential for destruction in sexual relationships, in vivid, jagged and arresting language, her pessimism is remorseless, with the result that the novel lacks shading. Its mood varies little, though there is some darkly comic relief in the two old wives who offer tough, but practical, counsel to the younger women. Madam Li, a Chinese woman who procures sexual adventures for women trapped in loveless marriages or women who, like Chinatsu, want to become pregnant and have failed to do so with their husbands, quashes Chinatsu’s scruples about infidelity thus: ‘Listen. Women who come to me think they are being whores…No. If you save marriage, it is honourable thing to do.’ Madam Li is old, wise, foul mouthed and has dreadful table manners. She is as practical and unscrupulous as Chinatsu is fastidious and guilt-ridden.

Fleur’s Nan, a joyous crone with her chain-smoked roll-ups, her black and white portable which seems to play nothing but episodes of Columbo, and a tendency to wear socks as gloves, is the one character in this novel who appears capable of loving, though she does this through deeds not words. Her turn of phrase is as blunt and practical as Madam Li’s. ‘Sat here every goddam day, keeping all manner of shit away from you,’ she says, of watching at Fleur’s bedside during one of her hospital stays, and that seems to me to be the most sincerely loving thing anyone says to anyone else in this tale of men and women and the terrible things they do to one another.

As I have already observed, there is a great deal of sex in Killing Daniel, and Dobbs is generally very strong when writing about the physical. Not just sex, but physical violence and its medical consequences are extremely well handled by a writer with an unflinching and unsparing eye for the human body and all its frailties. Her stark and vivid imagery, reinforced by short chapters and jagged rhythms, does not merely describe beatings, illnesses and injuries but forces the reader to experience them alongside her characters, making for an uncomfortable, but authentic, read.

However, while there is much to admire in the novel, in the end, I found its remorseless pessimism wearing. Although there is redemption of sorts for Fleur and Chinatsu, the resolution is sprung on us so abruptly, and narrated so briefly, that it does not really feel like part of the story, more as if it has been tacked on in haste and perhaps against the author’s will. Perhaps, though, this is a misreading, because it is surely significant that both women’s redemption comes in masculine form, which leaves the reader questioning rather than satisfied. Is the circle about to begin again?

 

Killing Daniel by Sarah Dobbs is published by Unthank Books.  Order your copy here

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Steph Power

 

 

Longest Night

It is still dark outside.
Still but for water pouring,
cascading down the steep,
wooded slope.

No rain now, nor wind.
The world turns and breathes
gently, mildly.

I would like to tread the
saturated earth
but must do it from here,
from the warm house,
where I cannot slip or
slide or fall.

It is still dark, but for a
pool of yellow lamp-light inside.

 

 

 

Steph Power is a poet, writer and composer living in mid-Wales with poetry appearing in the Cannon’s Mouth, the Journal and Poetry Wales. She has published articles and reviews in a wide range of journals and blogs at: www.philosovariant.blogspot.com

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