Neil Flatman

 

 

 

Ear Worm

(2018 ABC)

What keeps me awake at night: tumble-drying
in the warm utility of the mind, rotating
with the work shirts and her unforgiving thongs
is not the crises of the world: fat thumb
of the despot’s hand above the small red button
or the plastic patch in the pacific larger and less
fragrant than the whole of France. Nor
is it the little irritations: the parking space
stolen after the octogenarian finally found reverse
in the winter dark, a couple, stationary, their roll-on’s
a barricade across the airport travellator,
but something you might understand, so can we
make a pact like lovers standing hand in hand
before the jump, or secret agents swapping spies
on a foggy bridge? Swear you won’t reveal my fear
of hearing Billy Collins read. That unique voice
and the ironic pause, dry humour and mesmeric close,
so easy to fall into as I lie here in the small hours:
jade glow of the alarm clock beaming gently through
the dark, the sound of a trash man singing softly
in Armenian as he passes the house.

 

 

Neil Flatman is an alum of The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Tin House summer workshop. He’s been published in print and online at, among others, Ithaca Lit, Panoply and The Paragon Press. He lives and works in Singapore.

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Glenn Hubbard

 

 

 

Tunnel

The road runs below the river
lengthwise, and it’s hard to get
your head around as you drive
along sub-aqua, going with the flow.

No-one jumps when a frog flops onto the bonnet.
Two ducks take the exit for Toledo;
nobody gets into a flap.
There’s a racket when fish hit the roof.
Not a soul ducks.

 

 

Glenn Hubbard has lived in Madrid for 31 years. He has been writing since 2012 and has had poems  published in a number of magazines. Last year one of his poems was submitted for the Forward Prize.

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Mark Connors

 

 

 

Not again

You haven’t left the house all week
and blame the flu, but something else
has kept you in, cocooned in tog
of duck feather and down, books on your lap,
a cat and dog for company, Sky Movies on tap.

You sense the hills you’ve grown to love
but they’ve never seemed so distant
in this February tumult. Even the dog knows
it’s not as bad as it looks out there
and no matter how ill you think you are,
a walk up the lane to the tarn
would cure this shallow melancholy
that has no business here.
But what good are flu and sadness
if they don’t mark you in some way?

The weight of these days has bothered you;
though all is well and by 6 pm
the house will be full, laughter, a given,
there’s a tightness in your chest
that is more than just flu symptom:
a hacking doubt – you’ll not be part of this
when those you’ve fooled are wise to you.
But wise to what? You are little but yourself.
Though you made a mess of what you had before
would it take much effort to not do that again?
You put on your shoes, shake the lead at the dog,
open the door, raise your face to the rain.

 

 

 

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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Anna Saunders

 

 

 

Night Crawler

What a smashed glass heavens
for her glossy body to break out into.

Her corrugate, limb slithers
her head emerges from black like Orpheus,
leaving her tail – like Persephone, below.

You call her yeth worm, lob
night crawler, the intestines of the earth
a slithering nullities,

you say that her love is just a slippery coupling
of two coiled crescents, slick against each other
oily links on a chain.

Don’t you know she turns the earth for you,
lets in air, angels?

The stars are too bright,
the earth is warm.

Down she goes to eat the dark
hand maiden of hades, swallowing stones
like hard, grey truth.

 

 

 

Anna Saunders is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press) Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press), Burne Jones and the Fox ( Indigo Dreams) and Ghosting for Beginners ( Indigo Dreams, Spring 2018). Anna has had poems published in journals and anthologies, which include Ambit, The North, New Walk Magazine, Amaryllis, Iota, Caduceus, Envoi, The Wenlock Anthology, Eyeflash, and The Museum of Light. Anna is the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. https://annasaunderswriter.co.uk/

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For World Poetry Day: Geoffrey Heptonstall

 

 

 

from Shakespeare Variations

The Mistress of Cawdor

Her determined hand feels the stones.
Their strength is in the coldness,
or so she has learned from life.
She has sought the life of stones
with walls to defend her ambition.
From the castle keep the view is long,
as wide as the world itself,
or so it may seem at sunrise.

Early she wakes to seize the time.
Someone will die today
within sight of the crown.
Even now the echo is a scream,
clearly heard, like the wind
that stirs the trees to move closer.

 

 

 

Geoffrey Heptonstall is a poetry reviewer for The London Magazine, and writes regular commentaries on politics and culture for Open Democracy. Recent creative work includes work with several fringe theatre companies, as well as a regular stock of poetry, fiction and essays.

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Steve Komarnyckyj

 

 

Spring is icumen in

 

For JK

 

I called your name

And  the goldfinches twirled ribbons

Of song

Scissoring the air

A robe

Of silk

Of fire

Emptying their hollow bones of music

Offering the chance melody of twilight

 

I called your name

And the goldfinches stitched its syllables to the stars

And bore you on wings of flame

Now you are the gold of dusk,

The silence where songs happen.

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Komarnyckyj‘s literary translations and poems have appeared in Index on Censorship, Modern Poetry in Translation and many other journals. He is the holder of two PEN awards and a highly regarded English language poet whose work has been described as articulating “what it means to be human” (Sean Street). He runs Kalyna Language Press with his partner Susie and three domestic cats.

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John Kay

 

 

 

Polling Day

I watched the way you fogged up
our front room, filling the ash trays
and drinking dad’s whisky,
(when it wasn’t even Christmas).

I heard the way you wrote off the
opposition; Labour, the crook; Liberal,
the nancy; and little Mark’s dad,
not just a communist, but a teacher.

I noted the way you wheezed; came
and went as you pleased; stuck up
posters in our front window;
Committee Room; Vote for Kay;

I saw the way you laid your plans
over our dinner table; ruling lines
through entire households,
after I’d surrendered the numbers.

 

 

John Kay was born in Bury and now works in Bournemouth. Winner of poetry competitions. Represented in anthologies and poetry magazines. One volume of poetry, It Wouldn’t Do, 2008.

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