O Marks The Spot
I press my porcelain skin against the bath,
and turn the limescale tap, lie back
the tide rises and my buttocks slip,
glide upon the film and slide,
from smooth perfect hardness of your face.
It slips, a slap, my hips sag
as bleached skin scalds, my pelvis
jags through waves. Like limestone stacks eroded
to a rock-pool, my diaphragm depresses
lifts then strands the tide
falls, two tributaries whirl across my stomach;
meandering violent words
collide, into a sinkhole abandoned
where a line of moss grows up
into the O, marks the spot where
purple petrol gold floats.
The scar of appendectomy that holds
a flammable puddle of dissolved
acid fumes, hydrochloric vented plumes
I breathe, fire.
I breathe, fire.
Matthew Bevington is an English student at Ruskin College Oxford studying Creative Writing & Critical Practice. He also writes as a music journalist and his poetry is due to be published on Eunoia Review.Read More
To weave an enticing tale a quest is
the essential thread – a search no less –
shadowed by a magical bird,
or mutatis mutandis, a beast
with miraculous powers of speech.
The setting: a verdant scene
with a flush of royals ‘decked
or, at least, of nobility a brace,
then too, a maiden – solitary –
practising solfeggios, forlorn.
The narrative, tailored to popular taste,
unfolds stepwise, each task routinely
resolving in a test or trial,
a display of our protagonist’s
savoir-faire, agility or even guile.
The goal? A box – one well-wrought –
meriting the term casket or chest,
of stout oak or teak, furnished
in brass, tarnished but sturdy.
Or iron, maybe – corroded – welded
fast shut, assailable neither by
cunning, main force, nor key.
Its location? Convention demands
a tower, through whose casement
onto cold stone pale sunlight slants.
Possibly a dungeon: kingdom of the cob,
domain of dark scuttlings.
Still, our hero will surely find it out,
unriddling its fastenings to discover …
an ingot of unalloyed happiness.
As we require.
And here we see him – intent,
the hunter in pursuit ,
his mind all pointed purpose …
yet might it – like Zeno’s arrow
never to relish the thud of hitting home –
stall, trapped by its own logic,
into perpetual flight?
Or, is this him, his mind stumbling in its
own undergrowth, the tread of its thinking
hesitant in the shadowed foliage?
What would there be to find in this half-light?
Then again, what if this fabled box
prove no more than a notion,
the thinnest lamina of thought
grown dog-eared with its thinking,
frail as a moth’s wing
translucent against the flame?
But no, it suits us well to have him
uncover the box: we hear him snap
open the clasps, and isn’t that the gleam
of gold reflected in his eyes?
Let us hope so …
Tim Munsey was born in Leicester in 1947 graduated from Leeds University in 1968, then studied and worked abroad until the late ‘70s when he settled in Norwich. He spent the next twenty-one years sailing a traditional Broads yacht and getting to know closely the Broadland landscape – sometimes too intimately in the case of certain mudbanks. After retiring from teaching in 2006 he began to try and write poetry: unfortunately tide and wind are seldom favourable.
That day was the last time I saw him alive. To be honest, I didn’t think he looked that good. His face was grey; the pockmarks seemed to be anchoring the skin in place. His eyes were like deserts.
It had been a slow morning – punctuated by coffees, camellias and misting leaves. Just before eleven I saw him standing there on the other side of the plate glass, sucking on his cigarette. He had his collar turned up. The wind was catching the smoke and sending it off as a warning.
He’d looked thinner every time I’d seen him lately – tall and hard, but so thin. His thinness seemed like a prediction. He may have lost bulk, but he’d given up none of his presence and edge. He had that focused, prickly side. Straight to the point, no small talk. Brief. Who could blame him? I might be like that too in his position.
When he stepped in, he still filled the shop. That never changed. Whatever else they said about him, when he was there, he was there.
I knew what he was after. We’d been waiting for weeks for it to come in – a rare specimen. They called it the organ pipe cactus, Stenocereus Thurberi, proud and tall and very spiky. I had it ready for him behind the counter.
So he stood in front of me, reeking of tobacco, legs apart, elbows slightly flexed, hands loose. He might just have stepped off his horse.
“Well?” he said.
“It’s here,” I said.
I reached to the shelf and lifted the pot onto the counter. At only nine inches tall, it didn’t look much like an organ pipe, but to see his reaction I could have just put the crown jewels down in front of him.
The pink tip of his tongue snaked across his cracked bottom lip. He leaned forward towards the cactus, so close that the spikes on its crown almost kissed his nose. There was a twitch at the corner of his mouth that didn’t quite give birth to a smile, but I knew he was pleased.
“Took long enough,” he said.
“Came from Arizona,” I said.
He nodded and with yellow fingers, he turned the pot, craning his neck, until he found a groove between parallel spikes where he placed the tip of left small finger. He angled the nail to the flesh of the plant and drew it down like he was caressing a lover’s thigh. He lifted the finger to his nose and inhaled and then he wiped it on his tongue. His eyes shone like a dry sun.
I realised I’d bent forward too, couched and expectant. The three of us were bound in that moment. I could feel his breath on my cheek.
I straightened up.
“I take it she’ll join the others?” I asked. His head moved a fraction of an inch.
“What will you call her?”
“Persephone,” he said, “The last one.”
DJ Mac fouters with an itchy, scratchy pen in an Edinburgh garret in the odd moments when the bewilderment of life fades. A proud member of the Binge Inkers writing group , he meanders, rants, muses and chortles on www.djmac.co.uk . He likes to look for humour in the darkness in order to craft good writing. Observers hope that some day, with the wind behind him, he may still yet succeed.Read More
In a room above the streets he paints.
He paints a corpse on the ground
and a musician on a rooftop. He dips his brush
into water and sees dead bodies, floating
to the surface. He remembers that someone
once said: “God help us.” In his lost mind, politicians
cut the throats of babies. A helicopter doesn’t stop,
with a brush stroke, he sends the cop to hell.
In a dab of white paint a bunch of flowers falls –
hangs suspended, gravity abandoned
adorns a mass grave while a woman sings:
Yo soy la desintegración
He wants to touch her. He knows that after this
there is no more contact, no more belief.
Hannah Silva has performed at festivals including Latitude, the Edinburgh Fringe and Stanza. She is currently directing her play The Disappearance of Sadie Jones and touring The Total Man with Electronic Voice Phenomena. Her poems are published in anthologies by Penned in the Margins and Bloodaxe. This is her blog.Read More
I’ve heard it all my life. Pull up
A chair inside yourself and listen.
A gland in your neck will make
your eyes pulsate, bulge with malignant staring.
Pull up a chair inside yourself and listen. Listen
to a tale of lead hands melting.
A westerly with jagged teeth snaps a beech
In two. Lead hands melt inside its hollowed core.
A fallen tree sounds the air if ears will hear
its cracking bones. Leaden hands will cannibalise
the bellied trunk for firewood. Pull up a chair
inside yourself and listen as a fractured stump
wounds the earth, and wounded earth sifts root
from shallow ground. A pyre ablaze will burn
for days, a spectral beacon at the water’s edge. Lead hands
melted down to liquid silver pouring into the world,
a blister at its centre, cave bled to its heart. Pull up
A chair inside yourself and listen as your hollowed core
is filled with leaden hands, molten leaden hands
filling the empty centre at your heart.
Pull up a chair inside yourself and listen.
Eleanor Hooker was first published in Leave Us Some Unreality: New Writing from the Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College Dublin, and subsequently in The Shadow Owner’s Companion, February 2012Read More
It was fine when I started;
follow friends, follow family.
Then folk followed me,
and I’d follow them
out of politeness,
not knowing any better.
But some of the followed
became irksome, boring.
Some advertised –
self or products;
some flooded with RTs,
stupid tunes, crap vids.
Some were just banal,
Tentatively, I unfollowed,
and nothing bad happened,
so it happened again, and again.
It’s light-weight, effortless,
unfinal, unjudging, unguilty,
Some day, elsewhere, I’ll find
the courage to unfriend.
He Takes Off his Hat and Steps
He takes off his hat and steps off the train,
looks up at the sky, puts his watch back an hour.
He reckons one day he’ll be buried at sea.
His suit’s wet through, he’s been swimming again.
He buys a paper, leaves the change on the counter,
picks up the morning then puts it back down.
The sea’s a coin under an open sky
it’s always like this at the end of September.
Every morning we start over again,
come round quietly, make up the bed,
before it gets dark put the clocks back an hour
and in the morning put them forward again.
You don’t need papers for the open sea,
you don’t need a ticket for where we’re going.
A box and a prayer, a flag and salt water,
our hats on our laps we’ll sleep on the train.
Cliff Yates’ new pamphlet is Bike, Rain (Knives Forks and Spoons) from which this poem is taken. Previous collections include Henry’s Clock (Smith/Doorstop) and Frank Freeman’s Dancing School (Salt). This is his website.Read More