Michael Naghten Shanks

 

 

 

I Don’t Want My Adidas Hoodie Back

in an abandoned carriage at the end
of the disused train tracks you pull
on the strings of my adidas hoodie
drawing me closer to you
covering my face
closing off the rest of the world
so that all i can see is you

after we’re finished you let go
i still can’t see much beyond your face framed by your hair and
my other adidas hoodie which you borrowed
that one time after you stayed the night when
neither of us had planned on it and
you had to go home early to help out your dad

 

 

Michael Naghten Shanks, 26, is a writer & editor from Dublin. His writing has featured variously, online & in print, & been shortlisted for competitions. To find out more click http://michaelnaghtenshanks.tumblr.com/ or @MichaelNShanks

I Don’t Want My Adidas Hoodie Back was previously published in The Squawk Back.

Read More

Ruth Stacey

 

 

IV (From Fox-Boy)

The hospital lights are rushing
bright; smile cannot be unpicked from
her lips, the nurses coo to each other
and peep around the door,

Come and look
Is this the baby with all the hair?
Oh, isn’t he beautiful, look
Look, at all his hair –
Where is he from?

Here, he’s from here.

In the street she carries him in
a striped sling, close to her heart–
she cannot be apart from his wily
beats: people

jostle to look at his face
invade the space between mother
and child, she is kind though
and she doesn’t mind them stroking
him, except when they say:

What is he?

 

 

 

Ruth Stacey  writes poems in the fleeting spaces between motherhood and studying Native American Literature. It is not the easiest way to be a writer, but it is her way.  This is her website.

Read More

William Rollinson

 

 

 

Omen

They sat before a range of mountains,
the first man remarking to the other,
‘Look at the splendour of the natural world.’
‘What splendour do you see?’
‘The foliage, the fauna, the whole view, the big picture.’
They stared with wonder
until the second replied,
‘Upon inspection, it appears to be a holiday resort.’
‘But still, the hotels are majestic, full of splendour.’

A raven sat itself down on the fence behind them
before keeling over with an ignoble caw.
‘Perhaps it is an omen from Odin.’
‘Odin is a myth.’
‘Only because the Christians massacred the Vikings.’
‘I never knew you felt that way about us Christians.’
‘I never knew you were a Christian.’

 

 

William Rollinson is a graduate living in Devon. When he is not busy writing about himself in the third person he writes poetry.

Read More

Chris Fewings

 

 

Wayless

This poem may be longer
than the one you were expecting.
As it ends in the ground
why not lie there now,
try a grave posture? Or undress

slowly, carefully folding
each garment, laying them neatly
to one side. You complain of the cold.
Stepping naked into a poem
of this length isn’t ill-advised.

Obviously, you’ll be able to pick up phrases
to wrap around your nakedness.
However many words slip past you,
however many images you reject
something will come to hand.

A long and winding swaddling band
of words would be restricting wrapped
around you, so I’ve laid it here
a little like a path
a little like a map

whose contours spiral and meander
topographically untrue.
This landscape needs no theodolite.
It needs you. Don’t follow
the thread of the labyrinth.

It’s a little like an echo
which never stops rebounding
from the surfaces which never stop
appearing as you glance around.
You need to wander in

among the glancing blows of sound.
A path would be a meaning,
a beginning and an end.
I’m offering you a poem
to enter in and wander round.

The meaning’s in the folding
of the ground around your feet.
So. You have a map which
they sewed together for you
taping the fraying edges.

It’s not what it was. You know that.
It belonged in your pocket
folded, fingered, a little
sweat seeping through it.
It’s not the same now.

Sure, sit on the ground.
It’s solid enough. It doesn’t vanish
when you stop walking. Sit, unfold
the sweat-stained paper. What matters
is its feel, taste, smell.

It won’t go back in your pocket.
You can refold it, but its shape
and weight have changed. You might as well
pocket the fold in the ground. No.
The paper stays where you laid it

decays. You can get up
or lie down. You can ford a stream
because now this is getting real.
It doesn’t matter who invited you
to come in and wander round.

I’m not abandoning you. I can’t
define your world, describe
your linearity or coax
your heart out of hiding.
None of this is for me to say.

Yes, it’s getting dark. Yes,
there’s mud. You were misled?
Who was leading who? That gash.
Probably barbed wire. It tears
the land into strips. Almost comforting,

the blood. You say I told you how
it ended? Why did you believe me?
It ends all over the place. Why
believe me now? Where your nerve
ends, you begin, at the interface

of touch. Go on, stay still, turn back.
You’re not alone. Some of the others
carry a handful of mud. I’m folding
the stanzas like a concertina.
and handing them to you.

 

 

 Chris Fewings is currently writer in residence at Balsall Heath Library in Birmingham (UK). He blogs at www.chris.fewin.gs  . His alphabetical novella, A Glossary of my Grandmother, is available as an e-book.

Read More

Fiona Sinclair reviews ‘To Mick Jagger, Other Gods, And All Women’ by Jane Rosenberg LaForge 

 

The poems in this collection are densely packed with ideas and imagery. They are generally in a block form without stanzas thereby demanding that the reader takes their time reading them.  Meaning is not immediately apparent but with repeated close study the often complex ideas become clearer .The author’s technique is to start with a concrete idea which then sparks a series of contemplations that are often metaphysical. However what draws the reader on is a fine use of lyrical rhythm with an often elegiac tone. This is not to say that the poems are depressing but take an honest look at aspects of humanity ranging from ageing and death to the modern obsession with making false gods out of the famous.

A recurrent thread throughout the collection is that of family, for me poems dealing with female members are the most notable. Rosenberg La forge has a talent for effective yet sparing imagery. In the poem  ‘Her sister ‘s face’ the eponymous face is described as having given in to’ the improbable origami of time ‘ This is a  particularly skilful poem as it begins with the contemplation of her sister’s ageing then swiftly moves onto the metaphysical question of ‘ who is to say where her atoms went?’ then is the final section  pulls back from  abstract thought to the more concrete memories of a shared childhood where the persona can no longer see ‘ the scar I gave her one year with the help of chicken pox.’

Disease figures prominently in the poems. ’ Recovery’ is a painful profile of a woman overwhelmed by the effects of radiation therapy. What is so effecting about the poem is not simply the patients’ inability to speak or swallow freely post treatment ‘since the radiation she keeps her fingers in her mouth’ but the  way in which the narrator translates this behaviour as symbolic of the woman attempting to ‘prevent god from intervening where He was not wanted’.

Whilst death is not explicitly mentioned here its presence and effect on the patient is inferred by some fine imagery ‘the root of bitterness taking ‘which serves to convey the fear and anger felt by the victim. .

God in one guise or other features throughout the collection, however these are not devotional poems on the contrary there is no sense of faith rather a feeling that all Gods betray humanity in one way or another.  Such poems focus subtly on the ways in which our modern deities such as film and rock stars ultimately let us down. However these works do not simply take on contemporary icons and trash them but rather they take the subject as a starting point for other ideas. This is best seen in the opening poem ‘Rock Star Watching’. The celebrity is generic thereby allowing the reader to project his/her only fantasy figure onto them. The poem contemplates the mystery of such stars’ attraction. It seeks to define that element usually found in performance that makes them worshiped by their audience.

In other poems such as ‘Before Elton John as a faggot’, the rock hero is linked to the narrator’s teenage years where ‘there were possibilities in the blood, the brain and the body in between’. The poem extending into a reverie on the absolute self -belief of youth that circumvents obstacles , ‘I believed that if I held my face long and high enough during a running leap I would just keep going into the sun and behind it’, the excellent use of enjambment here serving to reinforce this unstoppable optimism. However the poem ends in realism, with the introduction of sexual politics into the narrator’s life.  ’ Male facing shadows and they directions they demand’. This line and indeed much of this female centred poem chiming with many woman who recall the moment when the need to please men, obtain a boyfriend became imperative to anything else.

This collection explores ideas that may at times make uncomfortable reading. Death, disease, ageing are all contemplated full on but the writer’s skill is to discuss such issues with fine imagery, often placing the dialectic in the context of the family where the effect is touching and relevant.

 

Order your copy of To Mick Jagger, Other Gods, And All Women published by Aldrich Press here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More

Paul Ebbs

 

I’ve Planted Poems Everywhere

Don’t move. This house is a booby-trap
I’ve written in tilt-switches under the salty plaster,
typed them into the dark between floorboards
and have pulled a razor tripwire from this pen.
Thin inklines of gunpowder crisscross the carpet.

Under the bath, a poem ticks down to zero,
it’s full of frustrated TNT and its’ Mickey Mouse Timer
keeps slipping on a rusty spring.
If it goes off there, you’ll be left breathless and watershocked
You’ll stumble from the bathroom spattered with liquid soap;
words sliding damp cordite into your nostrils.

This tin has a poem of sweaty gelegnite
perspiring in the hot dark of the oven.
You can smell it cooking if you get your nose close enough to the page.
If it goes off there’s going to be a plume of dead recipes
fluttering down like shot birds.
The windows will melt like scalding cheese.
Your kitchen will be a funeral for food.

You’ll pull the pin from this poem by accident,
and it’ll go off in your face. The words will be sharpnel
and you’ll shell-shock your way into the street screaming.
I lashed it to the bedpost especially to get you while you slept.It
It got tangled to your hair and it’s waiting for you to roll over.

And when I come home,
be careful how you pull down the zip of my coat
and unbutton the strained cloth front of my shirt.
Suicide poems are pocketed in a vest primed to explode
when I recite my terrorist prayer about God, loving life,
riding eagles into heaven.

They are poems about the clawing of life out of death.
They are filled with the bolts and glass and screws
of the bits of this house we’ve dismantled.

I swear if this house falls below fifty poems an hour it’s gonna blow.

 

 

 

Paul Ebbs is the author of   books for children (under a pseudonym) and  screenplays for television. He has written episodes of Casualty, The Bill, EastEnders and Doctors. He  has written comedy for Radio 4 and Doctor Who fiction for the BBC and other media. His poetry is concerned with sex mostly, relationships occasionally, death nearly, and sometimes wildlife gets a look in. His poetry will be included in an upcoming issue of Neon Literary Magazine. By the time you read this he will have read at Velvet Tongue in London, The Village Green Festival in Essex and anywhere else that will have him basically. You can follow him on Twitter @PaulEbbs where he doesn’t tweet about poetry but mainly just swears at the government.

Read More

Colin Honnor

 

 

 

At Drumcree Churchyard

Hoarse cough of the chough’s voice
from the burnt wood, blisters ear
tells me I am now in the right place
from a burnt spar of mountain ash
the coarse  talk of a raven blackens air
tells me your drinking drives you to death.
A jag of smooth limestone struck in gravel
church’s upended ship’s hull brims
light-songs as spilled water, its hammer
beamed roof no longer watertight
spills a line of Aeschylus or Heraclitus
appositely carved – we shall require
your Ancient Greek Dictionary, there
for the river is no longer the same
and call no man happy. The crow calls
its wordless liturgy of riteless discord.
Those aphorisms from the fifth century
of Zeno’s paradox, or Cretan liar
you loved, still echo in my head.
By the broken wall, a ditch gathers
snow-covered moss, grey-pocked
the early crocii snub earth, push through
purple, gold, the colours of the dead.

 

 

 

Colin Honnor:  Widely published poet in numerous magazines in print and online, including: Poetry and Audience, 21 Years of Poetry and Audience Anthology, Agenda, Outposts, The Rialto, Fire, Smoke, Orbis, Ore, Iron, Lines Review, Envoi, Staple, Sepia, Hybrid, Poetry Nottingham, Tops, Pennine Platform, Ammonite, Terrible Work, Tandem, Odyssey, Headlock, The Swansea Review, Iota, The People’s Poetry, Outposts, 4×3 ,Arabesques International Review, The Dublin Quarterly, Braquemard, Poetry Manchester, Poetry Quarterly, Masques, Great Works, Aireings, The Wolf, Various Artists, The Poetry Business Anthology and many others. Collections, mostly from small presses and private presses include From Underground (Mirabilis 1986); Dante; Cavafy; The Somme; (Yew Tree Press). English Poetry is forthcoming from the University Press of America. A former editor of Poetry and Audience, he runs a fine arts press in the Cotswolds.

Read More