Word & Image by Jane Salmons

 

 

Mata Hari and the Jellyfish

Time bends in the exam hall,
drapes skim scuffed parquet
floor, the smell of plimsoles and dust
lingers. All quiet, except the huff
and yawn of an old, old invigilator
roaming the aisles like a kraken.

Above, carved in oak, the names
of seventy-six glorious boys.
They gave their lives for their country
learnt to be men in the Great War:
E.G. Boucher, C.J. Stirk, F.A. Zinke –
each scratched ink across scripts,
sat at desks like these, propped
flushed, hopeful cheeks in hands.

Time bends in the exam hall,
a cloud of yellow dust rises.
Girls tattooed in mauve and jade
trail pony-tails like fronds of seaweed
in paper pools. Jellyfish pulse,
sea anemones come alive
as a vision in chiffon floats past.

 

 

Jane Salmons is a teacher from the Black Country.  Currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing, she has been published in a variety of webzines and anthologies including The Ekphrastic Review, The Lake, Amaryllis and Algebra of Owls.  In addition to writing poetry, she enjoys creating handmade collage and handmade, handbound photomontage booklets.

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Robert Boucheron

 

 

 

Grapefruit

A yellow globe sliced in half, a hemisphere of pliable skin, a whole serving, a cool sun in a shallow bowl—such is the grapefruit. To one who sits upright eyes half closed, it says: Wake up!

The bamboo handle of the serrated spoon is the bone of a finger, jointed and pale. I plunge it in flesh rosy as dawn. Juice spurts on the tabletop, a puddle on patterned laminate. I long to lap the blood of the grapefruit, freshly spilled, tart and clean, the essence of citrus.

Geometry makes me pause. Is the grapefruit an image of the cosmic wheel? Hollow hub and golden rim, linked by many spokes, it wobbles and revolves. Or is it the mystic rose of the world, the round window in the west front of a Gothic cathedral, its petals filled with light and color? A delicate fragrance sways me.

I dig with the spoon in a section. I lift a triangular prism to my mouth. I crush the cells with my teeth. I work the seeds free with my tongue and spit them. I work my way around the circle, turn the bowl, stab and eat, and so enact the universal drama. Empty membranes quiver. One last full chunk remains . . .

The grapefruit looks bare and translucent, robbed of goodness. In the palm of my hand, I squeeze the rind so the juice runs. I relax, unfold, and squeeze again. I drain the drops to a little foam. I discard the misshapen rind like a ball that has lost its bounce.

I raise the rim of the bowl to my lips. I drink the pink juice as though my life depended on it. I smack my tongue for the taste.

 

 

 

 

Robert Boucheron is an architect in Charlottesville, Virginia. His writing appears in Aldus Journal of Translation, Atticus Review, Bangalore Review, Cerise Press, Cossack, Conclave, Construction, Digital Americana, Gravel, Grey Sparrow Journal, Heavy Feather Review, IthacaLit, JMWW, Lowestoft Chronicle, Milo Review, Montreal Review.

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Hannah Stone

 

 

 

Housewife
 
(‘noun. (2) A small case for needles, thread and other small sewing items’)
 
The day he cut free
she watched him pack his panniers
with essentials.

Offered a mending kit
to sew on the buttons in his new life.
A housewife, a hussif.

A hussy.

She stabbed pins and needles
into a scrap of fabric,
spooled threads in a figure of eight.

As he swung down the road on his bike
she wondered if he had a puncture kit
to patch up his dreams,

but she had a pile of frayed cuffs to hem,
and it takes all your concentration
to keep the button holes neat.

 

 

 

Hannah Stone has two collections, Lodestone (2016) and Missing Miles (2017). She convenes the poets/composers forum for Leeds Lieder festival and comperes the monthly open mic Wordspace event in Horsforth.

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Patrick Holloway

 

 

 

The naming of things

You have swallowed a planet
& I have been witness
To its swelling & swirling,
Have felt it orbit
Beneath my hand,
Have seen its gravity
Pull you from bed
To the toilet
& back again.

Have heard it atom along,
Tap dancing a private rite.
It has woken you which has
Woken me & in those milky
Moonlight hours it grows
Between us, the simplest
Of silences solars in your eyes.

There are moments I fear
I will not know how to breathe,
That gravity will no longer exist
& I will float aimlessly forever.

I sometimes picture an eclipse,
An explosion, the big bang
All over again.

A letter has never known
Such weight.

These letters, in this order,
Have never looked so perfect.

Aurora.

 

 

 

Patrick Holloway’s story ‘Laughing and Turning Away’ took second place in the Raymond Carver short story contest and was published by Carve. He was the winner of Headstuff’s Poem of the Year 2018. He was also shortlisted for the Dermot Healy Poetry Prize, Over the Edge New Writer award and The Bath Short Story Award. His stories and poems have been published by Overland, Poetry Ireland Review, Papercuts, The Illanot Review, The Stinging Fly, among others. He has recently completed his first novel. His greatest achievement is his baby girl, Aurora.

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Mark Totterdell

 

 

Lampyris

Stumbling along the lane
through a tunnel of grasping branches,
he couldn’t see his hand
in front of his face.
This is no idle cliché
or exaggeration;
he simply couldn’t.

Emerging in the open
on the great limestone hillside,
he stood enthralled
by all the small glimmers
like soft, safe radium.

 

 

 

Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won competitions. His collections are This Patter of Traces (Oversteps Books, 2014) and Mapping (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).

 

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Daisy Coral Eve

 

 

Sea View

Whenever he’s not with me
I think of the mole on his back,
espresso brown, mild in temperature
and always lifting to the touch
as the skin on our morning coffee,
left on the side to go cold.
The diver-bird-shoulder-blades
I let roll like a tidal phenomenon
under my hands.
That tide ebbs when he keels onto his back
and at times I have waited all day
just for it to come back in again.
Of late I have thought
it is enough that I am always going to love him.
I think I am going to make a coffee
and write about him to anchor myself to his absence;
the paper will lift to the touch.
I will watch for the tide to come in.

 

 

Daisy Coral Eve is a poet from Macclesfield, Cheshire. Having completed her MA at the Manchester Writing School at the beginning of 2018 she now lives in South Manchester. Her writing is very influenced by place and by growing up in and around the North West.

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Skendha Singh

 

 

 

Dear –

or, maybe not dear. Or dear, as addressed
to an editor, an employer, a stranger one has
business with. But, not a stranger, intimate –
like an ex, but not estranged, close
as a friend, watchful like a long-nosed
neighbour.
You are too heavy a consequence. I spin
into you at the blind corner of each second, all
my paper bags ripped, my 200 mill
bottles of wishful thinking broken, spilling liqueurs
on the pavement.
And you rend my list of family and friends.
Elbow me in the gut then grab my shoulder. No, stop
bending over me in kind courtesy and offering
to pick up my things, to drop me home in that Eagle
wagon of yours which won’t ever brake at the bend.
You tip full cups down the drain,
and leave your scent lingering.

I’m done.

Come and pick up your things. Not tomorrow. Now.
As you read this, I’m blotting the echoes
of yesterday, all the old voices, like bat
droppings in the basement.
Boxing up the old clothes, my parkas, plaid shirt
socks: they never made me feel invisible, anyway.
I’ve folded your dark clouds, your damp of rain
You’ll find them piled on the balustrade.

But I’m taking the jokes that no one else gets.
And if you seek therapy, we might
go camping, with flasks of coffee, cling to clefts
of light culling the canopied woods. We might even
become friends when I can call you solitude.

 

 

 

Skendha Singh struggled with writing this bio. Strange, since she graduated with an M.Litt in Writing Practice and Study from the University of Dundee and has been writing and editing, since then, for her bread and butter. She currently lives in Delhi.

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