keep an eye
among those three eyes of Durga
the third one has been the same
over the ages
it has been kept open
full or half
sculptors never bothered
they have been experimental
only on her earthly eyes
Kiriti Sengupta is the author of the bestselling trilogy My Glass of Wine [autobiographic poetry], The Reverse Tree [nonfictional memoir] and Healing Waters Floating Lamps [poetry]. Sengupta is based at Calcutta, India. His website: http://www.kiritisengupta.com/Read More
My children think they know you
as they prepare statements
to gain entry into the next
of what you have in store.
They return each night
with requests for homework and parties
which bulge in their bags indistinguishably.
Perhaps you look on them kindly
as an uncle they see once a year
slipping them money through his goodbyes.
You place an arm round their shoulders
watching them pay for goods they cannot afford.
You speak to them with kindness,
sending them messages of hope
which pass your lips in silence
even though you are smiling.
Anthony Wilson is editor of Lifesaving Poems (Bloodaxe, 2015), based on his blog of the same name. His other books include Riddance (Worple Press, 2012) and a memoir of cancer, Love for Now (Impress Books, 2012). He blogs at www.anthonywilsonpoetry.com Twitter: @awilsonpoetRead More
How weather affects them
Accustomed to the yes and no of things,
one day she’s brimming, mercurial,
the next, a dish of mud.
When it’s wet he remembers drought.
When there’s only dust,
he wants rain to fill the shallows.
Winds have scoured her surface,
sunlight has bleached her.
She knows the tight smother of ice.
He positions his boot with care,
lets his weight slow-shatter the crust.
He enjoys the pressure, the give.
Clare Best’s first full collection, Excisions, was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize, 2012. CELL is due out any minute with Frogmore Press. Recent work has appeared in Envoi, Under the Radar, The Interpreter’s House. http://clarebest.co.uk Blog: https://selfportraitwithoutbreasts.wordpress.com
This poem was first published in The Interpreters House no. 58, March 2015.Read More
a professor adapting Joyce for opera
he is mining for music
in Ulysses’s cave
where the white walls
loaded with black English
sparkle every now and then,
hoisting himself deeper
into a covalence of meanings
that undress silently
with their back to him,
his tongue-tipped pickaxe
on each shoulder vowel
and rib consonant –
an ear pressed
now he raids Finnegan’s Wake
for buried strings of phrases
that he can carry off around his neck
and yet leave uncovered
in firm soil.
his job is dangerous
the instruments are waiting
across the sea
and we can be caved in
at any moment.
Stefan Kielbasiewicz studies English in York. He has previously lived in six different countries and speaks five languages. He started writing when he was fifteen and still cannot pick a favourite writer. He enjoys playing music and being outdoors.Read More
Death Italian Style
In Italy when you die
People want to know,
And even though it’s obvious
Where the funeral will be
They must be told when,
So notices are pasted
On stone walls and pillars
With your name in headlines,
A picture and all the details,
As if you were a singer
Appearing at the opera
It’s much quicker
And it costs less,
For a day or two
You are the subject
Brief fame for those
Then after the Requiem
And the trip to the cemetery,
They stick another on top of you.
David Subacchi lives in Wrexham, North Wales. He was born in Aberystwyth of Italian roots and Cestrian Press has published two collections of his poems. First Cut (2012) and Hiding in Shadows (2014). He is a member of Chester Poets and Liverpool’s Dead Good Poets. Blog: http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/davidsubacchi Twitter@DavidSubacchiRead More
I come from the prison state of the future.
When I was growing up people were very worried about crime. The recession and decline of stable employment had led to a spike in the murder rate, and a prevalent gang culture. There was a junction in Chapel Edge where you had to jump the red lights, every time, because if you stopped or even slowed a battalion of armed maniacs would leap from the shadows and jack your car. People began to leave the city. Districts and neighbourhoods were abandoned. One time the council dragged fifty-five burning cars out of the Slight Pass woods. Something had to be done.
There was a crackdown. Armed police and dawn raids. The main gang leaders were rounded up, and thrown in the city jail on mandatory life sentences. Gun crime went through the floor. The gangbangers were left rudderless and dismayed. Politicians made long backslapping speeches. The local paper ran long backslapping headlines. But there were still issues. People still stole things, or killed each other, over petty irritations and curdled grudges. It was decided to impose natural life sentences for murder and, later, for manslaughter, robbery and burglary. We had to build new prisons, on the edge of the city, to house all the fresh convicts, and taxes went up, but jobs were created in the new prisons, and people didn’t mind paying more taxes as long as they felt safe.
We had eradicated all the crime, locked up every offender of every offence from rape to aggressive begging to 419 fraud. And yet the good citizens of the community found that their lives were still disturbed. There were still people who didn’t take their bins out, owners of unreliable car alarms, writers and artists who caused offence to authority or religion, sufferers of mental illness or autistic spectrum disorders whose appearance and behaviour were frightening to others, children who climbed trees, parents of babies that cried at night through thin walls. And so a raft of new offences had to be created to prosecute these lesser criminals who, though not violent or aggressive in the old sense, still interrupted the quality of life for the majority.
After so it came that around two thirds of the city’s population were locked up on natural life sentences, and the prison complex covered most of the outer suburbs. Only the inner of the city, a space around ten miles in radius, remained free ground. These were terrible years. I had been lifed off myself by then, for cocaine dealing, and I was sent to the inner prison, circular-shaped, that bordered the free lands. The prison was made of heavy reinforced glass. The summers were the worst. The glass was one-way and you could see the office girls dancing across pavements on late July afternoons, the bright elemental parkland and soft tower lights, crowds of friends sitting on picnic tables against busy multi-storey bars. We called them the free folk. We developed a fierce identification with certain of the people who passed along the other side of the glass that made up our segment of the inner prison ring. We speculated on their backstories and motivations. Their world, free of irritation and awkwardness, the taint of difficult lives, was like a utopia that had a story, some glamorous drama you couldn’t stop watching.
But it can’t all have been perfect, even out there, for they were still sending people in, for even more trivial offences, things like selling expired quinoa, or dropping spoilers in dinner conversation. Now the prison covered ninety-five per cent of the city. There weren’t enough guards to actually run the prison complex, because the available labour pool had shrunk at such rapid pace. The authorities lost control long ago, but it didn’t lead to the carnage you’d expect, because by now the inmate society was mainly composed of harmless eccentrics. Inside the prison complex we built libraries and restaurants. We tore up the concrete floors and planted trees. Gender segregation went long ago. The university here has Russell Group accreditation. Even the pitbulls are friendly here.
And so this is the final paradox: incarcerated without hope, we managed to create something close to paradise. And the free folk are out there circling the arid scrub of what’s left of the old city, and picking food out of the ground. One or two of the brighter ones realise we’re still here, and on cold nights they will look directly into the glass and say the ancient human wish: Please let me in.
Max Dunbar was born in London in 1981. He recently finished a full-length novel and his short fiction and criticism has appeared in various print and web journals. He blogs at http://maxdunbar.wordpress.com/ Twitter @MaxDunbar1.
The curious absence of ducks in paintings by John Constable
Were there none, or simply far
beneath his notice? Dozens heckle
my arrival, note my eagerness to hide.
I take a room above the mill race,
cry for six hours solid, reading
self-help guides from W.H. Smith.
Apparently it’s all to be expected.
Wailing isn’t so unusual, although
the knowing doesn’t make it go away.
I’m seared by unkind laughter,
loud as driving water, longer
than recrimination, won’t forget
this raucous all night mockery,
the know-it-all malice of ducks.
Since 2011 Kathy Gee has been published in magazines including The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed with Pipework, Ink, Sweat and Tears, ‘And Other Poems’, Antiphon, Acumen and Prole. Her collection – Book of Bones – will be published by V. Press in 2016.Read More