Sue Rose

 

 

 

The Parch

Desert moves in. The coarse grain
of swaddling skin loses grip
as tributaries of blood, bones

and their porous underpinning
appear. This slow reveal
of armature is beginning

to tell. You can see it
in everyone who entered this age
before you, bowed and stripped

of their plush, as forms shift
from convex to concave
and shadows collect in dips.

Watch your mother’s hands
as she eats or drinks, her gold rings
jiggling as rucked bands

of epidermis move over muscle
and her face pleats and crimps.
Nothing can halt this schedule,

no deluge reverse a process
that ends with the body’s works
quietening in the air’s dry breath.
 

 

Sue Rose’s 3rd collection from Cinnamon Press, Scion, is due out in 2020. She is also the author of Heart Archives, a chapbook of sonnets paired with her own photos (Hercules Editions, 2014) and Tonewood, poems with photos of trees by Lawrence Impey (Eaglesfield Editions, 2019, https://www.eaglesfieldeditions.com/tw).

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Bert Molsom

 

 

 

Going out

We need to leave
in about an hour.
He wants to get ready now
we are going out.

The cap and the coat,
for him, are vital,
they have to be worn.
If we are going out.

He doesn’t sit
when he’s wearing
the cap and the coat.
We are going out.

He knows how to put on
the cap and the coat
he has to wear.
We are going out.

It has to be this cap
and this coat
when we go out
or else we have to stay.

Then the shoes …

 

 

Bert Molsom retired early to become an apprentice poet, fully understanding apprenticeships last a long time! He has been long-listed for the Bridport Prize, won Poetry on Loan 2016 and been Highly Recommended in a number of other competitions.

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Miles Salter

 

 

Profuse 

 

I have nothing to say about what happened. It’s been dealtwith. I’ve issued my apologies. Things didn’t turn out like I wanted: it was an accident, of course it was; the fish was being handled well. Esme gave me the money for the herring, she said to buy it for Bart. But, looking back, I should have been more fastidious, especially given the number of bags. More breathing, less speed. I must start meditating, perhaps that would induce better results? The shopping should have been less hurried. My mother was about to arrive. The house wasn’t clean. The duvet needed attention. I said I found the whole thing distressing. The herring landed in the paint, whereupon the kitten got involved. I was distracted. My neighbour was complaining about the mewing. It’s surprising how much noise a kitten can come up with. I know how upset Esme is. She’s made that very clear. I saw the email. I hope it wasn’t circulated. The kitten was a pedigree. Abyssinian. Spectacular ears. I should have put the lid on the paint. I’d been decorating that morning. Bit late for mother. Atomic tangerine. Perhaps the kitten found it alluring. Do cats respond to colour? They do watch television from time to time, I’ve been informed. Yes, he got paint on his whiskers. Thin rods with orange on. Clearly, if I’d been more careful, that would not have happened, you simply cannot let a pedigree cat near good quality paint. The herring fell in the pot, but I didn’t realise this until later. Esme has been, up until now, a good boss. She was very kind when I was off work, after Mother’s last visit, and even baked a cake, which was a little dry, but I appreciated the gesture. The kitten ate the herring, and the paint, then put paint marks on the floor, before choking, and vomiting, and one thing led to another. His body. The little pink mouth. Some sharp and tiny teeth. It was all most unfortunate. Esme was due to arrive three hours later. I know she’s off work now. I contributed to the flowers. I’ve seen the emails. I’ve issued my apologies. I’m making enquiries about that sort of cat. There’s somebody in Oxfordshire, apparently. The annual review is on Wednesday. Last year it went well. I haven’t spoken to Mother lately. I am beside myself. I did get rid of the smell. Yes, Bartholomew was a corker. The hall looks lovely. I’m so very sorry.

 

 

 

Miles Salter resides in York, and his creative output since 2003 has included music, poetry, event management and journalism. He likes Marmite, Philip Larkin and early Bruce Springsteen albums. He has lots of ambitions, usually involving microphones.  Website: http://www.miles-salter.co.uk

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John Grey

 

 

 

Image

Sidewalks are silent, dark.
Is that you?
Details are fogged over
but there’s something about the shape, the walk.

What are you doing in this neighborhood anyhow?
Are you on your way to my apartment?
What do you expect to find?
How do you expect to find it?

Since your day,
many buildings have been imploded,
new ones erected.
Streets have been renamed, rerouted.

Retracing your old footsteps,
you might slam into a brick wall,
lose yourself in a maze
of North Main, South Main
and all the little Mains.

I see more clearly now.
The woman is not you.
The man she meets is not me.
Love is always in the air.
But it’s best left with strangers.

 

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and failbetter.

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Beth McDonough

 

 

 

After Kirrie

 

We sat-nav under cloud,
which might or might not burn off,
adder our way up Glen Isla.

Through the churchless conundrum
of Kirkton of Kingoldrum
let’s consider an uncertain saint’s well.

Slungback Backwater’s comforts
can’t be enough. Pass misty thick
Balintore’s family hamlet. Just find a name.

We know we no longer count on Inch
as a hard place deep in the marsh.
So how will we know when the loch comes close?
Bridgend of Lintrathen offers half-truths.
Let’s search for falls. We’re not yet lost enough
to realise how very lost we are.

 

 

Beth McDonough‘s work connects strongly with place, particularly to the Tay, where she swims. Handfast (with Ruth Aylett) investigates experiences of autism and dementia. Her first pamphlet, Lamping for pickled fish, was published in September 2019 by 4Word Books.

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Helen Calcutt

 

 

 

A conversation with my daughter about my brother’s suicide

She is awake.

The moon is bright and the clouds have parted.
The trees are painted trees, living a still life.

She tells me my brother is in the moon.
I’ve bathed her, given her milk
and as I fold the sheets from her knees

to her lap, she asks me how he died.
‘He was very sad’ I say
and she seems to understand.

She rubs the milk away from her lips with her hands
as if the moon had kissed her
and then asks why.

I try to explain.
‘Sadness can make you very tired.
It can make you want to sleep.

It can make you want to close your eyes on everything.’

Her hands are like two leaves
resting on the bedcovers. She asks me if I miss him
and when I say I do

her eyes go big and round
and she asks me again, how he died
if the sadness of missing him

will make me die.

I hold her then, I accept
the weight of her. I can feel her widening like the stillness of a tree –

my child, coming into a still life…

Then we talk about the moon being
the shape of an egg, upside down.
We watch branches touch on drifting clouds
and agree – we want to see everything.

We stay up half the night finding patterns on the walls.
Different kinds of windows.

 

 

Helen Calcutt is the author of two books of poetry, Sudden rainfall (Perdika, 2014) a PBS Choice, and Unable Mother published by V.Press in September 2018. Her writing is published internationally, including award-winning essays and reviews for The Wales Arts Review, The Brooklyn Review, The London Review, Poetry Scotland and Boundless. She is creator and editor of Eighty-Four a poetry anthology on the subject of male suicide. Website: https://helencalcutt.org/

 

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Kym Deyn

 

 

 

Homeopathy for Spinsters

I.    About the Weather
People ask about the weather
but mean other things.
All of it, I say, all of it
is about to break.

My dreams come and go like surrealist
paintings; I carried my childhood friend
to be displayed in an unlit museum.
The exhibits were Sumerian clay pots
and the people who no longer loved me.

My dreams come and go like surrealist
paintings; the Italian grandmother holds
a card, La Fissazione – the 10 of spades,
the obsessionist, one who wishes
to be consumed.

I am ill, like all women. The new
apartment is a sick room with
the sky flaking like an itch.

Watch: I am Christ in this scene,
pre-eminent in virtue. You may
eat my body in dry toast,
drink my blood in stale lemonade.

The scriptures I roll up and suck
like lozenges. It is useless.
I’m Taoist.

Looking out onto the balcony
he jokes and calls me the gutter’s
pet whore, left to die.

 

II.    Le Ossessione
My mother took to bed for a year.
It became an island where she was
the only inhabitant.

The turtle shell of the medicine
cabinet was applied in salves,
a brow patted dry. The truth:
None of it works.

The doctors made it all for men.
She is the chronic fatigue, the
fibromyalgia, the active imagination.

We all turn out the same way. The months
pass like inconveniences. I hold a fever
under the slick-backed humidity.

Here is a window to disappear
Into yourself, here is you alone,
mortal and romantic.

I see this illness as a long holiday,
or a birthmark, or him.
It is the air begging for rain and the sky
not giving it.

I’m in the waiting room and the receptionist
an angel and my head a mausoleum.

I ask about recovery and
she reminds me that I have not exhibited
avoidance behaviours in four years.

 

III.    Homeopathy for Spinsters
People ask about the weather
but mean other things.
All of it, I say, all of it
is about to break.

 

 

Kym Deyn is a poet, playwright and fortune teller. They are currently studying for a Creative Writing MA at Newcastle University. Their work has appeared in Pulp Poets, The Mechanics Institute Review, and in the Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry.

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