Richard King Perkins II

 

 

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
of condescension

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.

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Lydia Allison

 

 

Qin

The pairs of passing seagulls
echoed each other.
Egrets (in twos) watched
their shadows from the shore.
Last night my lover brought me
oysters on ice

cold and sharp with salt and chilli.
They sat in my stomach
wet and heavier than water.
I threw my hook to the lake.
I cast it again. Again and again
nothing came.

 

 

 

Lydia Allison’s poetry stems from a love of weddings and wonky romance. She’s appeared online and in print, including two Pankhearst Slim Volumes (This body I Live In, No Love Lost). Follow on twitter @lydiarallison and find more here: lydiaallison.wordpress.com

 

 

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Helen Calcutt

 

 

Melon Picker

Death touched your feet
with its wing.

It felt
how you cut the cord, carried
their boulder warmth

from the lip of the leaf
to the gut of the bowl.

Every time the wind
disturbed a shock of trees
the dry light

eclipsed your vision.
You would drop them,

drag them. Could I ever
understand the pain
of broken feet?

Where you knelt
under the night’s drunken expanse

bleeding the lines
you walked, you wept –
Sheer tiredness

was the thing that killed us,
as it killed you then. Seeing the same

sun bloat gold
over black boulder seeds,
knocking like enormous breasts –

To greet the toll
that carried the dawn

lifting your song-lines
and you
back to the barren harvest.

 

 

 

Helen Calcutt‘s  first pamphlet publication Sudden rainfall ( Perdika Press)  was shortlisted for the PBS Pamphlet Choice Award, and recently listed one of Waterstones’ best-selling pamphlet collections. She performs internationally, notably for institutions as diverse as Poetry International, N.A.W.E., and Andrew Motion’s  Poetry By Heart.  She is currently poet-in-residence of Loughborough University, where she is also a visiting lecturer in Creative and Professional Writing. She is working on Unable Mother, which directly explores her experience of first-time motherhood. She is also a qualified dance artist and choreographer.

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Kitty Coles

 

The Bloody Key

I.
He calls it love.  She thinks he must
know what love is.  She is green and thin
and has never encountered love.
He brings her flowers which turn
the air yellow with pollen.
Her mirror is masked with gold.
He appears in her doorway.
He sends her letters.  Their words
drench her head and shoulders.
She has never known such a rain of words before.

II.
His tongue grows needles, sewing words
to her skin like ribbons.
She bows her head, slowed down
by the weight, a spectacle.
These aren’t the words he used
in his riverine letters.
He wakes her at night
to cover her in these words
and her mirror is masked by
ribbons which rustle and whisper.

III.
Her limbs have turned to blossom.
They are covered in petals
of purple and grey,
each as small as a fingertip.
Her mouth is a flower, blooming
red and white and silent.
He has turned her mirror away.
It looks at the wall.
It has nothing to say.
He hands her a bloody key.

 

Kitty Coles lives in Surrey and has been writing since she was a child. Her poems have appeared in magazines including Mslexia, Iota, Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House and Obsessed With Pipework. www.kittyrcoles.com

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Abegail Morley

 

Seamless

Ever since I remodelled my sister’s hair
they’ve hidden scissors, pen knives,
sometimes needles in a locked room.
The key’s hidden under a stone somewhere
in the nettled-yard. I recognise its glint,
slip it in my shirt pocket, squeeze it
in my schoolboy’s hand, release cutlery,
tweezers, a small toffee hammer.
I make loud thumps on tiles, run fingers
down walls until paper curls under nails,
holler up the hallway, kiss the cat’s paws,
taste dead bird. I snort like a pig,
take radiator-draped knickers,
wave them flag-like, break my heart
so parts of it can’t be found. I roll marbles
in the dark, hear occasional clinks,
crawl upstairs, pins between lips,
wait for the moon to throw up her arms
then tack them down like a cold-slabbed
corpse that insists it’s murder. I snatch
a twist of her hair from under my pillow,
coil it around my fingers, stretch it
to full-length until each strand tears.
I crack knuckles like nuts, fasten thread from
the window to the bed so when wind blows,
my cold-pressed hands summon a prayer
from my core to complicate the darkness.

 

 

 

Abegail Morley’s debut, How to Pour Madness into a Teacup was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection. Her fourth, The Skin Diary is published by Nine Arches, She blogs at The Poetry Shed.

 

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Mark Farley

 

Gleaning

Mother wears the vines of summer,
hawthorn hackles raised in grief.
She’s my father’s stubborn mourner,
pecking at his horehound leaves.

Nurses scatter apple blossom,
bleach is masked in meadow scent.
Father burrows under holly,
glossy spines can’t hide our shame.

Mother left us boiling over.
Vital organs steam soft pink.
Artificial thoughts of actors
will pollute the zealot Sphinx.

Sisters gather jars of dog blood.
Line them up to make a scene.
Needled carers can’t unpick her
though she’s limp and loosely sewn.

Mother’s scalp is cutthroat tangles.
Stare her down with kitten-eyes.
Fill the ward with speckled falcons.
They’ll refuse to nest or lay.

 

 

Mark Farley has been shortlisted and highly commended for the Bridport Prize. Find him on Twitter (@mumbletoes) or via his blog (http://mumbletoes.blogspot.com/)

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Fraser Harrison

 

Better

Having written
a truly depressing poem
about the brevity of life,
the transitory
essence of pleasure,
how suffering is universal,
justice an illusion,
and other tragic matters
inseparable from Man’s destiny,
he felt much better and wondered
what was for lunch.

 

 

 

Fraser Harrison has been a freelance writer and broadcaster most of his life, and he has also worked as a publisher and legal representative to detained asylum seekers. He has published ten books and many essays and articles. Please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraser_Harrison.

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