Mark Ryan Smith

 

 

 

Fun in the Sun

 

He found himself watching the sun on the wall. The sun on the wall.  He remembered people saying that when he was young, meaning that whatever movement that happened to be taking place at that time was moving so terribly slowly.  You’re like the sun on the wall.  Son.  You’re always so slow son.  So bloody painfully slow.  Get a bloody move on.  You’re always so bloody slow.  Aren’t you.  Like the cow’s tail.  You’re always behind.  You’re always taking up the rear, aren’t you, like time means nothing to you does it, but you kept yourself plodding on.  You kept yourself by moving on.  On.  You keep moving on, until the frame of the mirror starts to reshape the light.  The way the wallpaper has faded.  There.  And there.  Next to the old picture of the waterfall.  And here you sit, in your chair, and you know, you know, with absolute certainty, with absolute clarity, exactly when the moment will come when the sun first caresses the dresser.  The warming you can feel.  The warming.  On the days you get up and walk over and rest your hands on the wood.

 

 

Mark Ryan Smith lives in the Shetland Islands

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Helen Freeman

 

 

 

Angus

anhinga in my hang-glider,
my ambit, my angler,
the lips’ full opposite.

Hungus – two gulps.
Sirloin tang for my hunger,
stirling catch, my one choice.

A stone thrown
into a silent land,
the arsenal of your arrival.

The headlong clang
of ungula at noon
Aonghas, Aengus. Your name

at my tongue-tip, double shot
extra strong. Open shout
of a Pictish king. Oinogustos,

Onnust keeper of my secrets,
the lock of closed failures.
Deep etch in timber,

proven groove of my wheel,
boar-gust of wattage.
With your name, earth shakes.

 

 

Helen Freeman has been published on several online sites such as Ink, Sweat and Tears, Red River Review, Barren Magazine, The Drabble, Sukoon and the Ekphrastic Review.  She now lives in Durham, England after many years in the Middle East.

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Elizabeth McGeown

 

 

 

Outpatient

 

Take a half-shower

Sit at the edge of the bath, feet wet

Shower head unscrewed, hose lying flaccid in the bath

Belching out lukewarm water over overgrown toenails

 

Walk around the house bumping into things

Giggle like a child, bump like a Roomba

Bang head, hard

Check the biscuit tin

 

Imagine yourself with hollow bones

Bones crack when                                                                           anything occurs

Find yourself in the kitchen

Leave the kitchen

Gaze at white expanse of arm

 

Take        up               jogging!                                    (soon)

 

Decide to submit a poem and

Trawl the internet for journals

This one is in Mid-West Ohio

Which itself is Mid-West

The Mid-West of the Mid-West of the Mid-West of the Mid-West of the

 

Calculate                                                                     and

Memorise                                                    Pi                                      to

Seventeen                                                        decimal                               places

 

 

Check the biscuit tin

Climb stairs with sudden burst of speed

Descend ghostly in nightie, unsure why you climbed

 

Eighteen decimal places

 

Leave the kitchen

 

Count tiles in the-

Leave the kitchen

Do the smallest thing to pass the longest time

When the hospital won’t take you

 

 

Elizabeth McGeown is from Belfast, NI. She has had poetry published in Banshee, Abridged and The Blue Nib. She has been a finalist in the All-Ireland Poetry Slam four times, performing at the 2019 Hammer & Tongue UK Slam Finals.

 

 

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Phil Wood

 

 

 

Island Fiction

I could murder a cuppa
mutters a knitting voice,
her claws purling patterns
the Fair Isle way.

The kettle whistles, the brew
as warming as a jumper –
outside gulls rock n’ roll
drunk on a burgundy sky.

The winged ways gleam
in those full-throated, fish
-happy voices. She hears
the thrill of fraying waves.

 

 

Phil Wood was born in Wales. He has worked in Education, Shipping, and a biscuit factory. His writing can be found in various publications, including: The Poetry Shed, Runcible Spoon, London Grip, Califragile.

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Gillie Robic

 

 

 

The Opposite of Pygmalion

She’s breaching the limits
climbing the scaffolding
hauling herself up poles
rolling over the lip of the kick-board.

My hands race like a card sharp
trying to confuse the eye
not wanting to let her off the plinth.

I don’t want to release
this unlovely construct into the world
slithering over edges and ladders
filling space with clammy earth.

As fast as I squeeze her
between my fingers
she gobbles air
grows out of my reach.

I try stuffing what I can
back under the cloth or into the bin
but she stretches

breaks away like over-rolled dough
till I sit in a litter of ripped tarpaulin and gobbets of clay
coated to the elbows in grit-pitted fleshly slip,
cold with guilt for the future.

 

 

Gillie Robic was born in India and lives in London.  Her first collection, Swimming Through Marble, was shortlisted and published in 2016 by Live Canon, who also published her second collection, Lightfalls, in October 2019.

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Brian China

 

 

 

Gift

Dark from four, because of the rawness
I buy plain chicken and some chocolate,
turn back the way I’ve come
to the pavement shrine of himself
beside an alcove where drunks piss,
fumble the sandwich handing it to him,
“Here, have this.”

One week on, do the same thing again
because I can’t clean the oceans
or give glaciers back their tongues,
can’t give him chicken and chocolate
every time he’s there when I walk past,
camouflaged for the wrong jungle.
“All right, pal?” he asks.

 

 

Brian China lives in Leicester. You can follow him @brianachina on Twitter.

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Louise Warren reviews ‘Daylight of Seagulls’ by Alice Allen

 

Daylight of Seagulls

 

Alice Allen’s first collection Daylight of Seagulls takes the occupation of Jersey during WW2 as its subject, but she weaves so much more.

In her vivid introduction she tells us that she grew up there in the 70’s and 80’s.

‘ we weren’t taught about the occupation at school, apart from  perhaps a passing mention of food shortages and ingenious ways of making coffee out of parsnips. The more extreme traumas were not mentioned, the brutal treatment of the forced labourers, the fate of the Jewish population, and the islanders who defended or resisted the Nazis’

She sets out to put the record straight.

Children, mothers, fishermen, soldiers, beekeepers, divers, ordinary people. A whole island is here, and the poems swirl around the jagged coastline, haunt the lanes like sea fog.

She lays out their names for us to see. She raises them to our ears like shells that we might hear them. Like this extract from the poem Sylvie in which our narrator describes a drowned soldier. Who was he? Her lover? We never find out.

the water unwraps him
hangs up his coat
unhooks his tunic
how bright his blond skin
now his shut is undone

Allen only gives us the fragments that have been left behind, like the story of Dorothy Weber who hid a Jewish woman Hedwig Bercu in her house between 1943 and 1945 and inspired the poem Hedy and Dorothea:

a pile of Hedy’s clothes
folded neatly on the sand
to fake her suicide;

night-time forays
to the beach for food;

a pig slaughtered in the bathroom,
every edible piece consumed.

A typist of no nationality
stated the Wanted notice
in the evening paper

The house  where the two lived returns in the next poem.  7 West Park Avenue:

The house is a bell, a shell snapped shut
Is a box with a lid and the lid locked up

Is a pocket, is a pouch with the cord pulled tight
is a well with steps treading down from the light.

She gives voice to those without names also. A German Soldier guarding the Atlantic Wall. A mother sweeping the cobbles, and this extract from Foreign Worker:

This is his cap
made from a sack.

This is his shirt
a blanket.

This is his belt,
clothes- hanger wire.

This is his kin,
stiff with cement

and swollen over the bones
of his tumbling face.

These are his eyes.
Meet them.

Words rhyme and ring against each other, with snatches and echoes of Jerriasis, a mixture of French/Norse/Breton and Medieval Latin. Like in the opening poem  GERS  EY:

Geirr’s Island
Norse man, naming this land his own.
From L’Etacq to Le Hocq the coastline
is a fan, a flame of brandished rock
doubling at low tide. Each rock names-
etchierviethe, marmotchiethe, sablionniethe-
the language of rock prodding and poking
the coast over time- from Ick Hoc
to Hygge Hogge, to Hic Hoc, to Icho Isle
with an imprint of witch

Allen also writes exquisitely about the potency of objects.  Cold potatoes, Victorian glass, shoes, wireless sets,teapots, prams, biscuit tins, soap. This is an extract from Soap Hoard:

‘from lemon, wrapped in waxy tissue paper, pleated like a pouffe,
to the cloudy lens of occupation soap’.

She conjures up the smells and sounds of this island. The scavenging of food, the delicious aroma of eel soup flavoured with marigold petals, the ‘delicate and tasty’ tang of fog and the stink of cordite.

And everywhere the flora and fauna bursts out of the pages, bright green moss, wildflowers, birds. Yet always in the shadow of war. Like in the poem Emptying the egg of its Song:

‘Curfew  the word itself was like a bird
bringing the night in its beak
Sometimes we’d hear the soldiers
firing in the moonlight’

Allen leaves us with five photographs. Faded Registration Cards, giving faces to some of the poems. They look out at us hauntingly.

I am haunted still, by this remarkable and beautiful collection.

 

 

Louise Warren lives in London and has one collection and pamphlet published by Cinnamon Press. Her latest pamphlet John Dust is published by V.Press.

 

Daylight of Seagulls by Alice Allen is published by The High Window Press, and available here: The High Window Press

 

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