Ian Seed

 

 

 

 

Mauvaise Foi

They instruct me to walk from the skyline to the centre of the city, just as I did years ago. The film they made of me then has faded to the point where it can no longer be restored. The challenge with this new film, they say, is not to look disheartened as I did as a youth, when to be gloomy was a sign of existentialist faith, but to wear a corporate smile, and to make it seem authentic.

 

 

 

 

Ian Seed’s collections of prose poems include New York Hotel (2018), Identity Papers (2016) and Makers of Empty Dreams (2014), all from Shearsman. A chapbook, Distances (2018), from the Red Ceilings Press, is Seed’s most recent publication.

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Mark Connors

 

 

 

In walks Randle

He tells me his name is R P McMurphy.
He has a pleasing air of dissidence
but bears no resemblance to Jack Nicholson
and Hollywood stars don’t have Leeds accents.
It didn’t take him long to settle in:
he pulled a pack of cards out in the day room,
drew a crowd with his shuffling technique,
talked four service users and a support worker
into a game of Trumps after tea,
took Zahid under his wing, started calling him Chief,
caught the eye of his new nemesis,
Natalie, the not-to-be-messed-with ward manager,
while he juggled oranges throughout The One Show.

But Zahid  is no Chief Bromden. There’s no Billy Bibbit
to lead astray, no Max Taber saying: Play the game!
No Charlie Cheswick throwing tantrums
because he can’t watch his native Burnley play.
This is a ward for the over 65s
and the basketball court is a car park.
Even if he did succeed in planning an escape,
he could only hire a narrow boat
and the fish are crap in the Leeds/Liverpool canal.

But Randle will make the best of things,
try and smuggle in a bottle or two
when he’s off close obs, get a little party started.
He’ll try to bribe night shift staff to turn blind eyes
when his friend with benefits comes to visit
from the High rise flats of Lincoln Green.
He’ll order twelve pizzas in his adopted name
just to see if the guys at the take away fall for it.

He’ll soon lose his spark when the drugs kick in,
take part in whatever activities they throw at him,
eat his three squares a day, leave some on his chin.
But there’s always a chance he’ll spring back to life,
bounce back when the light returns to his eyes.
It will take more than drugs to take McMurphy down
now lobotomies are frowned upon.
And he’s good for the other service users
of a modern day mental health unit.
He’ll shake things up a bit. Make an impact.
Take Zahid. He hasn’t spoken in six weeks
and I just heard him say:

“Ah, Juicy fruit.”

 

 

Mark Connors is a writer from Leeds. He has been widely published in magazines, webzines and anthologies in the UK and overseas. His debut poetry collection, Nothing is Meant to be Broken, was published by Stairwell Books in 2017. For more info visit www.markconnors.co.uk

 

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Christine Whittemore reviews ‘Ghosting For Beginners’ by Anna Saunders

 

 

 

Ghosting for Beginners’ amusing title poem plays on the idea of social-media “ghosting,” the act of going absent online after the end of a relationship, but there are many ghosts and hauntings in Anna Saunders’ fifth collection.

The poet’s delicate touch evokes the gauzy blur” of other-worldly encounters. A jealous lover returns shroud-bound from his suicide, and hovers over his beloved and her new paramour: All his sins are exfoliated now, his new skin/light as bible paper, lucent as rain.

These poems show not only how ghosts touch us, but also how that ectoplasmic life might feel; they lead us across the shifting boundaries between the seen and the unseen.

Ghosts are not all human, limbed and familiar;” there are other essences too. And who will speak of the ghost of the rain?”  Or of “the spirit of the air—the grassy fragrance/ plaintive amid the pollution…?

Hinted presences are almost tangible in this ravishing yet precise language.

There is variety of subject, tone, and approach, from humour to poignancy. Throughout, there’s loss, and sorrow; a lost father’s voice somehow becomes that of a bird, in the urgent song of a creature/asserting its claim on a darkening earth.”

In this poem and others, that claim of the living contrasts with the ghostliness in rich physicality: the body’s incense, smouldering.” For “Aren’t we all wild garlic/rooted into the dark woods/offering ourselves to the gods,/cowering from rough paws,/blazing our pure stars?

Whilst the rough paws buffet us, these poems delight and sustain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christine Whittemore is the author of Inscription, a novel. (Sowilo Press, 2015) and  Sudden Arabesquepoems(Oversteps Books, 2017)

 

 

You can order your copy of Ghosting For Beginners by Anna Saunders (Indigo Dreams, 2018) here: www.indigodreams.co.uk

 

 

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Charles Tarlton

 

 

 

TAHOMA AND NIKKI

 

FADE IN:
MONTAGE OF SHOTS

 
1) Bright sun overhead in a cloudless sky.
2) Dying flowers in a dry garden bed.
3) Shimmering mirages on a desolate highway.
4) The Navajo-Nation Bank digital thermometer reads “108°F

COYOTE

a little tin house

sits in the desert of hours

only tiny tales

to tell. As we look inside

the moment becomes pregnant

 

EXT. A DESERT MOBILE HOME, PORCH AND SCREEN DOOR – DAY

NIKKI, a seven-month old wooly black poodle stands at the screen door, looking out into the yard. Her tongue hangs out and she is panting.

TAHOMA, about 16, in a tank top and undershorts, comes up behind the dog, shoves the screen open, moves past the dog, and steps down into the yard.

Nikki follows eagerly, jumping and mouthing Tahoma’s hand as he walks over to a hose with a spray nozzle.

Tahoma turns on the faucet and a fan of water rushes out, making rainbows in the sunshine.

 

COYOTE

the driest sand dunes

are in the mind (I almost

said in someone’s heart

we roamed fearlessly back then

through the long cold desert nights

 

He turns the spray on Nikki, who jumps and runs away, shaking her head.
Tahoma comes closer, trapping the dog in the corner of the porch.
At first, Nikki tries desperately to get away, but Tahoma blocks her path every time.

 

COYOTE

love is some magic!

hold the mother wracked with birth

with every action

comes the wondering. Did they

do this and the same way back then?

 

Finally, Nikki gives in and just stands there as the cold water hits her, drenches her thick black coat, and runs in rivulets to the ground.

Out of sight, Coyote watches.

Eventually, Nikki turns her face fully into the water.

 

TAHOMA

When will you learn to

trust me?

FADE OUT.

 

 

 

 

Charles Tarlton is retired from university teaching and has been writing tanka prose (and poetry more generally) full time since 2006. His wife, Ann Knickerbocker, (http://artistinanaframe.blogspot.com) is  an abstract painter and they and work in Northampton, Mass.

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Stefano Bortolussi

 

 

 

Patio Writing

Did I not see the old sign lurking
in the novelty store of my mind?
EPIPHANIES XING, it warned,
or it could have been a promise
— yet I paid it no heed, and kept
on falling asleep and waking up
at the expected times, coming out
under the brow of these hills
with expectations of my own
(having to do with inhaling and
exhaling in a light-chested sort of way):
I was not anticipating the giant June bug
crash-landing on my page, smack
in the middle of yesterday’s verses,
as if drawn there by some ambrosia
of my making.

So once it was airborne again
I checked, but for the life of me
I could not find anything momentous
along those lines, except
that only one day earlier
they had been the life of me.

 

 

Stefano Bortolussi is a poet, novelist and literary translator. In his native Italy he has published three poetry collections (Ipotesi di caldo, 2001; Califia, 2014; and I labili confini, 2016) and four novels (Fuor d’acqua, 2004; Fuoritempo, 2007; Verso dove si va per questa strada, 2013; and Billy & Coyote, 2017).

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Carolyn Oulton

 

 

 

Hop Picking

Dickens sees bodies wet in the hedges,
hop dust is believed to cure consumption.
Eden Phillpotts, writing in 1916,
starts with sunshine and deft fingered girls.
By the 1930s and Orwell it’s blood
all over the fingers and chaff in the throat.

But for Eileen one January morning, hops
nailed to the ceiling brittle as dust,
in the home where she now lives?
Her school at one end of Canterbury
was bombed. I didn’t know
it had a chapel.

They were let out early
for hop picking. Wincheap.
I’ve got smoke-stained alleys
and the carpet shop. Like a holiday
she says, she could go there
now and see it all again.

 

 

 

 

Carolyn Oulton (www.carolynoulton.co.uk) is Professor of Victorian Literature and Director of the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her most recent collection Accidental Fruit is published by Worple Press.

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Jeremy Young

 

 

 

Return

They used to hang bodies over the black-water creek;
picked bodies of picked men, their entrails pulled
by the birds in greedy jerks. The dead glass eyes watching
over and out to the waves and the clouds:
or with a twist of wind, or the collapse of a gull tugged neck,
those same dead eyes might turn back, to the landward
from which they came, a week or so before.

We step across to the sand, as through a rent veil
which locks out the sound of the marsh, and the traffic.
These riddled sands, caught between the turning tide
in expanse, hold only ourselves and the wind.
We do not look back, but sometimes down
to the dry, to the empty, to the occasional shell still sealed.
We do not look back, too tempted by the coldness of the sea.

On each ripple dies a star, combed clean as morning.

 

 

 

Jeremy Young lives and works in Yorkshire. He had had work published in numerous articles and anthologies, and is a member of the beehive poets.  His work can be found at https://bluemedia68.wordpress.com/ 

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