Stuart Henson

 

 
Savings

All this the hedgerow saves
from the underworld:

a wire of blood-drops
necklace of blisters

and the dots of crabs
pressed on the sky in yellow braille

or stashed under leafmould
the blackbird’s counting-book

the odd dark sloe
dried like a raisin

that and the rain’s
midwinter silver

too soon spent
on buying back the sun

 

 

Stuart Henson’s most recent collection is The Odin Stone (Shoestring Press).  Feast of Fools, a book of poems and scraperboard drawings in collaboration with artist Bill Sanderson, is due in 2015. This is his website: stuarthenson.co.uk

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Patrick Lodge

 

 

 

Shenanigans

I play the fox; what else do you expect in this
moony garden?

You stand, alone at the window, tall, white
as down,

staring out as if I was will-o’-the-wisp,
a green-eyed seducer

versed with pulpit words. Nightly I come to you
with a sermon of shoes:

brogues, balmorals, wingtips, winkle-pickers
trainers and loafers.

Trophies lifted from careless men, cradled in this
cunning grin,

laid out for review and match. I preach a choice,
silly goose.

Let each man claim his own, tie you tight as a lace.
But don’t be deceived

by any glib-tongued spiel. Test the snout, the brush,
the shining pelt of it –

my fox paws are real, make no mistake. The woods
call us: stay wild and free,

put on your dancing shoes, step out, trot a tricksy
measure with me.

 

 

Patrick Lodge was born in Wales, lives in Yorkshire and travels on an Irish passport. His poems have been published in several countries and anthologies as well as achieving success in competitions. Valley Press published his first collection, An Anniversary of Flight, in 2013.

Note: On June 5 2014 BBC Leeds news reported that a fox was stealing dozens of shoes in a Leeds suburb and dumping them outside a woman’s house every night. Shenanigans is thought to derive from the Irish, sionnachuighim, which means I play tricks or  play the fox.

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Jean Atkin

 

 

 
Grass Verge Near Soissons

Under wheels, leaves flash a fallen sunlight
in the lanes.  Cold farms
are hung with hoarfrost

and stiff sheets.  We stop for water
by an orchard, pinch two pears
from over the ditch.

Their skins are bronze,
a little rough,
flesh sweet.

Jean Atkin works as a poet, and lives in Shropshire. Her first collection Not Lost Since Last Time is published by Oversteps Books. She has also published four pamphlets and a children’s novel, The Crow House. She is Poet in Residence for Wenlock Poetry Festival 2015.   www.jeanatkin.com

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Stuart Pickford

 

 
Amniocentesis

As the receptionist studies
our insurance details,
the gynaecologist appears
from behind a curtain;
needle long and thick.

I stroke your arm.
The syringe angles into
the sponge of womb,
pierces the wet image,
feet webbed in shadow.

She interlocks her fingers
and turns her palms inside
out to click her knuckles.
Gripping the plunger,
she sucks out cloudiness,
holds it to the light.

After, she scans you,
trying to pull an image
from the swirling grey.
Glimpses of limbs slide away.
There, isn’t he delicate?

So, a boy? Our boy
in buy valtrex uk there where the tide’s out.

O.K.? she asks
moving to the machine,
our son slipping
off the screen.

 

Stuart Pickford is the recipient of an Eric Gregory award. His first and only full collection, The Basics, was published by Redbeck Press (2002) and shortlisted for the Forward Best First Collection prize. Stuart lives in Harrogate and teaches in a local comprehensive school.

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Michael Oliver-Semenov

 

 

 

Before today, the last open smile in Russia was in a Yevtushenko Poem

In Russia, a smile is like an invitation, for murder, or worse.
Waiting for the bus with one hand in pocket, like some mobster;
Like the men on the stairs of the hospital in The Godfather.
The curl of an end of a lip spells a break in composure:
You’ve let your guard down, and the men, those black bomber jacket men
Who swarm like flies to shit, will pick you off. And you’ll be gone.
In broad daylight, they, will do whatever those men do.

After a New Year’s party, with vodka and all the trimmings,
We danced and sang. We smiled. The cameras flashed, mine included.
All uploaded – I receive a message: those pictures –
They show us smiling. Please remove them.
People we know might see them and think we were enjoying ourselves.
I removed the smiles, leaving only conversation and bottle shots.

This afternoon I boarded a bus, city centre to suburb.
There, sat diagonally from me, was my poor Baba Luda.
She sat in military boots, and worn black and grey bits.
How funny she looked: 70 year old match stick legs
In boots heavy enough to sink her. Ticket reel in hand,
She came right up to me before recognising my face.

I thought it would be awkward. Such a proud woman,
Who only ever took taxis, or begged lifts, was reduced
To such labouring: the 15 hour day of traipsing and collecting
Nineteen roubles off each and every person, on a two door
North Korean 1950’s bus that shook and rattled like a window
On its last hinge in a Siberian snow storm in December.

She looked like paper: her face and hands creased
Like laundry wrung out before it’s been washed.
Her eyes shone first: the creases of so many Siberian winters
Began curling upward around her eyes and mouth;
I couldn’t help myself. We were disarmed though we were not vulnerable.
I carried her smile to the supermarket and showed it to the shop assistant.
She returned it and shared it with the woman standing next to her.

 

 
Michael Oliver-Semenov was born in Cardiff, Wales but now resides in central Siberia. Since ditching his career as a banking clerk in 1997 he has published words and poetry in a plethora of magazines, anthologies and journals worldwide, including Blown, The Morning Star, Orbis, Ten of the Best, Wales Arts Review, Mandala Review and Ink Sweat and Tears. He divides his time between growing vegetables at his family dacha, teaching English and reading whatever he can in between lessons.

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Beth Phillips

Beth Phillips is an emerging writer who dabbles in documentary, illustration, poetry and short prose. Keen to expose her work to a hungry audience she explores and examines themes of older age, decay and the beauty within these.

Twitter: Beth Phillips@bethclaudiap

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Ian Clarke

 

 

 

Widow

Thunder stumbles,
rain blind as sleet litters the wind,
and behind the door
the dark where silence ticks

and her face grief frail
watching the sky’s tree of stars,
listening to the street’s cobbled skulls
washed bright with laughter.

And there she is-
remembering a moon scented dusk
still warm with gnats’ fog of spores
and slow rain like memory

clearing to the sea,
to a name cut deep and clean
where surf brawls whiten the grey
and a sunset drowns in sobs.

 

 

Ian Clarke. Born Wisbech, Cambridgeshire and living in Harrogate, North Yorkshire and published widely in magazines and anthologies.  Recent publications include A Slow Stirring from Indigo Dreams Press and BARD 132, a broadsheet in a completely different register available from Atlantean Publishing.

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