Zannah Kearns

 

 

 

The Farmer’s Prayer

He lies across the cow’s prone side and prays for healing.
Smooths her flank, half-expecting some bright heat,

a glowing surge to match his prayer,
a vision of angels, a chorus of song.

Beside them lies her calf, warm and slick,
already dead, perfect head on blood-stained straw.

In the yard, rain drips from asbestos roofs,
floods every trench,

falls between cracks above his head
tapping relentlessly his tightened back.

She was his best cow. He’d raised her on a bottle,
and ever since she’d run to him —

even lately, lumbering on inflamed feet, hauling that old pregnant womb,
to blow grass-sweetened blessings into his hands.

Now she’s dead. The vet will come,
test the herd — they’re all infected.

How many pyres must one man see in his lifetime?
Black smoke billowing like oil spills set ablaze.

How many gallons of disinfectant — desperate washing
to ward off the disease that bursts from blisters,

floats its spores, places them like wafers
into the mouths of all living creatures,

interleaving infections between each strand of straw,
layer upon layer, like peat bog over millennia.

This lowly stable. Made for nothing now
except the laying out of calf and cow.

 

 

Zannah Kearns works as a freelance copywriter, and also reviews poetry pamphlets for Sphinx. Her poems can be found in Poetry Birmingham Journal, and Under the Radar.  Twitter:@zannahkearns

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Anna Kisby

 

 

 

Faceless extinctions

A moth arrives like a small hand passing over my face
and when I open my eyes a heartbeat thuds against my
bedside shade. Leave your window ajar and your lamp lit –
why, that’s an invitation, says he. White ermine, little prince.

It was all my fault. No sooner had he nested than I requested
him gone. My insides spun him a silk cocoon, simple to sweep.
He had no face. A moth is a butterfly as a weed is a flower
alighting in the wrong place. Garden tiger, he grew.

A moth arrives like tinnitus, but listen and he stills his wings.
He only begins again on his own terms. Tell me my name?
he asks and won’t stop, like I am a light-trap and he is stunning
himself. Blood-vein, a lost boy looking for his shadow.

It was a hospital bed in strip-light. How uselessly we witness
the faceless. Our windscreens are clean of winged-reminders
of what is lost. In each of my hands, a small hand of the living.
Notice these night-thoughts and let them go. V-moths, thinning.

 

 

Anna Kisby is a Devon-based poet, archivist and author of the pamphlet All the Naked Daughters (Against the Grain Press, 2017). She won the Binsted Arts prize 2019, BBC Proms Poetry competition 2016, and was commended in Faber’s New Poets Scheme. In 2019 she collaborated on the project Creative Histories of Witchcraft and is subsequently working on a collection exploring historical magical practitioners.

Note: White ermines, Garden tigers, Blood-veins and V-moths are British moths on the verge of extinction.

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Shelley Tracey

 

 

 

Under Fire

The job I needed. The job that contempted me. The job on a Loyalist housing estate in a blank end-terrace house, a crime scene smeared clean. The house impossible to hearten or heat.  The job that started each day with lighting a fire with too little fuel. The job with a surfeit of d/anger and too little coal. The house with a door which never closed gently. The house where the water dripped thickly as pus. The house with missile-scarred windows and hate-worded walls. The job that deflected me, defected me. The job that needed to s/tamp me down, ash me.  The job anyone could do, no-one could do, no-one should ever do. Newspaper firelighters, twisted into butterflies, too quickly burnt out.

 

 

Shelley Tracey’s poetry collection Elements of Distance was published by Lapwing in 2017. Her poems have been published in Abridged, The Honest Ulsterman, The North, Artemis, Bangor Literary Journal, Skylight 47, Bray Arts Journal and North West Words.

 

 

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Sharon Larkin

 

 

 

Waiting

I am in the room, waiting to be called,
with several ahead of me in the queue.
Vincent’s iris on the wall droops
from a vase of others, not much perkier.

With each buzz and change of light
from red to green, someone gets up,
approaches the door, walks through.
I wonder what on earth they’re here for.

No one has arrived in the waiting room
since I sat down. Now there’s one left.
The pattern on the blue carpet spirals
and swirls with queasy yellows.

I try eye contact with the last man
sitting, but he leaps with the buzzer,
nods towards me, stumbles to the door,
and I wonder what I’m here on earth for.

 

 

Sharon Larkin’s poems have been widely anthologised and regularly appear in magazines and on-line. Her pamphlet Interned at the Food Factory was published by Indigo Dreams in 2019.  Sharon is the Stanza representative for Gloucestershire and runs Poetry Café Refreshed, Eithon Bridge Publications and the Good Dadhood on-line poetry project. sharonlarkinjones.com   and gooddadhood.com

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Hélène Demetriades

 

 

 

Placenta

Laid flat on the floorboards
it’s an autumn tree crown
with boughs rising skyward
from a severed trunk.

It’s a glistening viscus
grown by mother and daughter,
brought home in a carrier bag,
preserved in the freezer,
planted out in spring,
pulsing through the earth.

 

 

Hélène Demetriades has been published in magazines and anthologies, including Obsessed with Pipework, Reach Poetry, Envoi, Ink Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin, Eunoia, Clear Poetry, Allegro.  She’s been highly commended in the Marsden Poetry Village Competition, and long listed in the Beverley Literary Prize.

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Srinjay Chakravarti

 

 

*

the tattered scarecrow:

a raven perches

on its shoulder

*

fireflies . . .

sparks from a hammer

on the anvil

*

spring dust

sparrows squabble

in the forenoon

*

a dry leaf

on the ground . . .

a death’s head moth

*

a silent gong

inside the pagoda . . .

breaking dawn

*

cicadas’ abacus. . .

Grandmother

counts her beads

 

 

Srinjay Chakravarti is based in Salt Lake City, Calcutta, India. His creative writing has appeared in over 100 publications in 30-odd countries. His first poetry collection received the Salt Literary Award (1995). He has won a $7,500 Dorothy Prize (2008). Website: www.srinjaychakravarti.com

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Setareh Ebrahimi reviews ‘The Shape of a Tulip Bird’ by Christopher Hopkins

The Shape of a Tulip Bird, by Christopher Hopkins | The Blue Nib

 

 

This book has an unusual premise in that it’s about something you wouldn’t want to read about. It’s about one of the most difficult subjects – child loss – and yet Hopkins’ writing allows the subject the sensitivity and accessibility that it needs. The Shape of a Tulip Bird is a collection full of stars, ships, sea life, birds, landscapes – whether geological or of the body. Again and again we are presented the image of a small boat against a vast ocean. Hopkins’ poems are extremely descriptive, some of them are almost all description.

The poems in this collection are soft, feathery – the imagery is tactile and womb-like. The shape of the poems are elegant on the page, imitating droplets of water or perhaps bodily liquids. In this collection words echo the rhythms of physical processes. Due to the sensory nature of these poems, I caught myself wondering whether parts of them could be interpreted as being from a baby’s perspective.

When reading The Shape… I got the sense that Hopkins isn’t trying to hold off the storm in these poems, if anything he wants it to come, wants it to rage, these poems are only designed as a method of weathering the storm.

Hopkins poems show the power of art to slightly console, if only by providing some small relief through expression. There is scant relief in this collection, which in my mind, is fitting. It’s good to hear a man’s perspective on the issues in these poems, we need to hear more male voices concerning child loss, its effect on relationships and post-partum depression for males. One of the other recent collections that I can think of that touches on these issues is Blank by Jake Wild Hall.

When reading these poems I got the sense of Hopkins’ desire to understand. He does this by going back to re-examine the body and what makes it up repeatedly.

There is wonderful language in this collection, seen for example when Hopkins writes unflinchingly in the opening of ‘I See Only With The Light From Fires’:

In idle moments, where I am found,

I grieve in a lesser black than you,

A witness to your love.

Hopkins’ poems don’t break their hold at all, despite being so raw and intimate. One gets the impression that even though the events of this collection were experienced in union, they were also isolating.

There is a journey presented in these poems. The reader is able to see a slight shift in mood and events in the poem ‘The First Light’, in which the poet describes the first day in which he didn’t immediately think of the name of one he lost. Something is cut loose in these poems, yearning, searching. Despite this there is a flicker of hope at the end of the collection. The Shape… reminds us that in a broken mirror, one may see momentary, beautiful reflections.

 

 

Setareh Ebrahimi is an Iranian-British poet and artist from Brighton living in Faversham, Kent. She published her first pamphlet of poetry, In My Arms, from Bad Betty Press in February 2018. Setareh has been published in numerous anthologies and journals, such as Eunoia Review, Confluence and Thanet Poetry Journal. She obtained her Master’s in English and American Literature from The University of Kent in 2016. She regularly performs her poetry in Kent and London.

 

The Shape of a Tulip Bird by Christopher Hopkins is published by Clare Songbirds and available here: www.claresongbirdspub.com

 

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