Miriam Jones

 

 

 

The thief

There’s nothing petty about this thief
who cuts your purse with a practised flick
of his knife and pockets its contents.
Copper, silver, gold – he wants it all.

He covets your horde, this magpie,
wants your shiniest thoughts 
to turn over in his beak –
a foil for his shabby nest.
He raids your bookcases and cabinets
turns out drawers and roots out
Greek, Latin and German fragments
shreds them all over the floor.

Not content with originals and first editions,
he pilfers the utilitarian and everyday –
pencils, keys and dogs –
leaving only things that write, lock, bark.

This thief rifles your cupboards, slits pillows
and, in the suffocating confusion of feathers,
crawls under the bed to loot the shoe box
where you hide our names.

 

 

Miriam Jones is a freelance writer and editor. She is studying for an MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Winchester and won the poetry category in the 2017 Winchester Writers’ Festival.

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Annest Gwilym

 

 

The Space Between Breaths
After Kate Edwards

Some are uneasy about the space between breaths.
They say she is a block of raw Carrara marble
before the sculptor exposes a muscled form,
or frankincense tendrils rising from a censer.
To others she crackles like static and is a
sleepless summer night in the Arctic.
Those who taste her insist she is sherbet
dancing on the tongue, or the moment before
ice melts in gin. Gossips say she sometimes
looks like Orion glimpsed between tall buildings,
is the patron saint of sky burials, an Aeolian harp
tangled in willow, the sea before plastic
or the first twist of blossom on the hawthorn.
Some suspect she hides in secret seams
of moonstone, deep in the hearts of mountains.
To dream of her is to hold your breath,
a foretaste and prelude to death.

 

 

Annest Gwilym is the editor of the webzine Nine Muses Poetry. Her writing has been widely published both online and in print. Her first pamphlet of poetry – Surfacing – was published by  Lapwing Poetry in 2018.

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Edwin Stockdale

 

 

 

Grey Mare’s Tail
Warkworth Castle
January 1463

Goosanders tack from Amble Braid, over
the weir, through the bridge’s twin arches,
round the curve of the Coquet.  Wind scratches
the water’s surface.

On a promontory
girdles of castle.  Beside the curtain wall
the polygonal tower, grey mare’s tail.
The arrowloops on each face rise unbroken
through two storeys.  George looks
out, looks through, looks within.
The castle’s geography:  Carrickfergus
tower, keep, lion tower, little stair
tower, west postern tower, grey mare’s tail
tower, well house, east postern.
In the catacomb of the great tower lies
the chapel.  George, Duke of Clarence, kneels
at the feet of Our Lady, recites his devotions
like his mother taught him.

Blue topaz
beads from his rosary run through his fingers,
a linctus against shadowed days.

 

 

Edwin Stockdale has published two poetry pamphlets with Red Squirrel Press: Aventurine (September 2014) and The Glower of the Sun (January 2019). Currently, he is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University.

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James R Kilner

 

 

 

A Landscape

Although now I turn
and walk away
(this region is not known to me),

there is something about the bulge of hills,
the dark winter woods
thrown across them like bear pelt,

the hump of moorland
bumping against the leaden belly
of the low clouds.

Although now I turn and walk away,
there is a feeling of longing,
a strange sense of homecoming.

 

 

James R Kilner is a poet and freelance journalist who lives in the north-east of England. He is the author of two books of poetry, Frequencies of Light and Persephone, published by Lapwing. His website is jameskilnerwriter.wordpress.com.

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William Stephenson

 

 

 

On the Origin of Electrofunk by Natural Selection

Our fingers sprouted claws; our foreheads, feelers.
Wires shook and gourds boomed in our hands, paws,
podia.  We danced in spirals, bees on acid house:

this rising buzz for louder, this spiral that meant solo,
this shudder of the wings that triggered a sampled
snare drum roll.  We wired our brainstems for techno.

To cut our first demo we grew tails, horns and fur.
We carved microphones from mastodon tusks.
We stretched our throats to howl the full moon down.

We humped the tribe’s recording gear into a cavern
putrid with steaming tiger dung.  The red light shone.
Nudged by magnetic coils in our skulls, we sang.

 

 

William Stephenson’s first full collection Travellers and Avatars was published by Live Canon in 2018.  His pamphlets are Rain Dancers in the Data Cloud (Templar, 2012) and Source Code (Ravenglass, 2013).

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Stefano Bortolussi

 

 

 

A Canyon

The perfect triangle of sea gently
emerges from the canyon’s last curve,
alluring, pubic, venereal, a promise
of a congress as prolonged as the arc
of the afternoon in the sky, of a union
with the day enjoyed to the end
of the evening’s fading energy and light.
I wish I could have it for ever, like a lover
attuned to the needs that shore up and undermine
what is left of me, day after day.

 

 

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; I labili confini, 2016) and four novels (Fuor d’acqua, 2004; Fuoritempo, 2007; Verso dove si va per questa strada, 2013; Billy & Coyote, 2017). His poetry also appeared in a variety of Italian and international magazines, including VersoDove, Schema, Interno Poesia, Atelier, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Lake, Words for the Wild, Ovunque Siamo, The Ekphrastic Review and Riggwelter.

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Chrissy Banks

 

 

If you don’t come back

I will turn to the woods.
To winter woods
trees rising above
their heap of leaves.
I’ll turn to the hills that endure
rain, flood, fog, snow and storm
the worst winds and fires of full sun.
I will follow the river that keeps on
flowing, keeps on carrying
pike and trout and stickleback
despite its sinkage of stones.
I’ll turn to the garden
and watch how it dies
then grows; to the swift visits
of winking-winged brimstones
the patient journeys of ants.
And I will turn to the sea
the sea that will rumble me
slap me awake, holding
its mirror to my face.
I’ll look to the waves’ rise and fall
moon-pulled, thrown by wind
into foam. Even to the cold
deep seaspots, where I can stand
alone, till I’m blue boned.

 

 

Chrissy Banks lives in Exeter. Her last collection was Days of Fire and Flood and another, The Uninvited, is forthcoming this year from Indigo Dreams. She has had poems in many magazines and anthologies, including And Other Poems, Antiphon, the Rialto, Orbis, the North, South and Agenda.

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