to hide a priest
like a fox
was a risky business
in the large
double room, I am stretched upon the bed
the cradle of a line
he says his prayers
a creeping Jesus
turn my hand
to chimera, the creak upon the stairs
I have not been found (yet)
Gareth Writer-Davies was Commended in the Prole Laureate Competition in 2015, Specially Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition and Highly Commended in the Sherborne Open Poetry Competition. Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Erbacce Prize in 2014. His pamphlet Bodies, was published in 2015 through Indigo Dreams and his next pamphlet Cry Baby will be published in 2017. He is the Prole Laureate for 2017. https://www.facebook.com/gareth.writerdavies
I’ll never forget Chip’s enormous right thumb, directed toward me, as he turned in response to Mrs. Laird’s question about my desk mate, Robert: “Who told him the answers?”
I’ll never forget the jerk of my own torso, the pop of her hand against my virgin first-grade butt, as I learned the hard way the lesson of all tellers.
I’ll never forget Parents’ Night, 1962, as I stood over my first six weeks’ test work and saw the full-page “U” scrawled by Mrs. Laird across my arithmetic problems. I hadn’t realized that you couldn’t add moons and suns. So very unsatisfactory.
I’ll never forget the news, over a decade later, that Mrs. Laird had been crushed to death in her own garage. By her son, only a “learning permit” driver, who thought he had shifted the car into reverse before he accelerated.
I know one act doesn’t lead to another. I know that no one, mother or son, deserves such a fate. But remember: I’m the one who, at age six, added four moons and three suns and got a sum of seven.
And I’m the one left, here and now, to tell their story.
Terry Barr is the author of the essay collection, Don’t Date Baptists and Other Warnings From My Alabama Mother. He lives in Greenville, SC, with his family and has had essays published in Full Grown People, Vol. 1, Brooklyn, and The Bitter Southerner.Read More
A reluctant concession
For those of insufficient bulk
Or violent disposition
To take part in the awful
Battle of blood and mud
Laughingly referred to
As a game.
Our route wound
Far away from
The killing fields
And railway lines
Through the village.
Once out of sight
A walking pace
Talking to local girls
Cursing the brutality
Of the egg shaped ball.
To the jeers
Of shirt ripped
Our mock exhaustion
Fooling no one.
David Subacchi lives in Wales (UK) where he was born of Italian roots. He studied at the University of Liverpool and he has three poetry collections with Cestrian Press First Cut (2012), Hiding in Shadows (2014) and Not Really a Stranger (2016). David has also recently published a collection of Sonnets A Terrible Beauty in commemoration of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising. He also writes in Welsh and Italian and blogs at http://www.writeoutloud.net/
I am wearing layers and do not shiver
Thin light. You expect me to kneel down
and put my head on the block.
Legend: Anne Boleyn was given the mercy
of a sharp sword, and skill, a swift blow.
A trial where the witch is not allowed to speak.
Something mediaeval in your methods.
The outcome foregone. A show for your conscience
where history’s rewritten in a hurry. A conclusion.
Legend: It took two goes to sever Mary, Queen
of Scot’s head from her neck. Chop. Chop.
A trump of lies. A packed-up charge sheet.
The impossibility of proving the positive.
The possibility of disproving the negative.
Science has it so.
Legend: Marie-Antoinette apologized
for treading on her executioner’s toe.
You were given plenty of rope, but
didn’t treat me like a queen.
The failed hangman keeps the boots.
Be ready with the polish.
Kate Noakes‘ fifth collection is Tattoo on Crow Street (Parthian, 2015). Her website (boomslangpoetry.blogspot.com) is archived by the National Library of Wales. She was elected to the Welsh Academy in 2011. She lives between Paris and London.Read More
A Few Regrets
He was from somewhere close to inhospitable – the north of Russia, maybe. His act involved tearing guests from middle aisles and inserting them into backless chairs. He would pitch his waxed palms sideways and dribble towards the ceiling – it was all kinds of hypnotic and creepy. They each shouted out a few recent regrets – one middle-aged man with shaking peppered wrists had not seen his kids for weeks. His excuse was one of awkwardness – his plus one was close to leaving. A young woman, wrapped in various degrees of cascading, milky knitwear, had sautéed her husband’s meetings suit with cauliflower and chestnut mushrooms. When everyone laughed she sort of did too, a strange and lungless gurgle – this was probably all part of the act. Some silent twins, who wrote alternating chapters of a mystery novel from separate bedrooms, had passed out next to a patio heater – both sides of their necks were badly burnt, their raw knuckles a cute shade of red. After forty or so minutes he had run out of volunteers. He squinted past the swiveling stage lights, like a witness to a lunar eclipse. I slunk deeper into my seat, thinking about the night before last – about how it was just a little regret, but the kind that swells and welts, like a sink that no longer swallows, or an ache you choose to ignore.
Alex Townend is a writer and musician living in London. He is a graduate of the Goldsmiths Creative Writing MA and is currently working towards his first collection of poetry.Read More
I can’t imagine how it must have been:
my sudden, sticky fists, my turbulence,
my fretful sleep. The constant interruptions,
the mess, the uncontrollable outpour of love
like a reflex, a weeping wound. And then
the years, hurling themselves out of the
horizon towards her: I was 8, then 10,
then 14, safe and self possessed, the world
like scenery in a video game, pulling itself together
in front of me as I moved through it.
When I wasn’t there, it didn’t exist.
Life was simple and singular
and all mine. Until that one slow Thursday
we left school early, the broken boiler
stuttering its complaint. About to
announce myself in the hallway, I heard it:
the lift and catch of the piano
unravelling under my mother’s hands.
I opened the door and saw her, small
in her cardigan, eyes closed, somewhere else.
There are some rooms you could enter
but don’t: I stood quiet and uncertain,
shivering like a just-plucked violin string;
washed up in the hallway, wondering at her life.
Bryony Littlefair works and lives in London. Her work has been previously published in The Cadaverine and longlisted for The Ver Prize 2016. She blogs at learningtointerrupt.wordpress.com and tweets @B_Littlefair.Read More
Adoration in the Catalina Foothills
Below this crest of stillness
in a mid-winter evening
of hard frost
and grim-wrought gray,
I’m an indecent animal,
dying sadly in the briefest moments
on a road meant for misfits and outlaws.
Barely a vapor exists—
only deep, drab gullies
slithering across botanical sand rifts
of frothy pearls everlasting
and staghorn cones.
This is a declaration of love
without hope of response—
the canopy of a queen
fortified for an indigent eternity
by a mouth of barren implements
and iridescent crows.
Pre-native ruins intersect
with ultramarine and infra-grisaille
where the flowers of Arizona
burst from nothingness—
a failure of semen
and anatomical restraint.
Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.