Richie McCaffery

 

 

 

Going without

It’s only when I heave myself
out of the bath
that I begin to feel wet.

It’s only when you come
out of the biblical rain
I see you’re crying.

It’s being apart from you
makes me see all the time
I thought I was depressed
I was actually happy.

 

 

Richie McCaffery lives in Alnwick, Northumberland. He’s the author of two poetry pamphlets, including Spinning Plates from HappenStance Press as well as two book-length collections from Nine Arches Press, Cairn and Passport. In 2020 he’s to publish a pamphlet with Mariscat Press as well as an edited collection of academic essays on the Scottish poet Sydney Goodsir Smith (Brill / Rodopi).

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John-Christopher Johnson

 

 

 

Picking Blackberries

My grandfather told me to look
under the leaves as many of them
were hiding like fugitives.

Protected from the spines
wearing a coat or thick pullover,
he’d nonchalantly part the brambles

so that we could enter a channel;
a Yorkshire Moses. Each berry
was placed in a cardboard tray,

nestled together they resembled
miniature black grenades.
Corkscrewing back in time my mind

opens a bottle containing images
of pain and sacrifice. We have
the thorns and the purple venal

blood and now the Bradford sky
is getting dark with thunder clouds
as gradually we make our way home.

 

 

John-Christopher Johnson has had poems published in The Journal, Other Poetry, London Grip, Agenda, Interpreter’s House, The Seventh Quarry, The North, Allegro Poetry, Orbis etc. He has attended creative writing groups run by Jan Moran Neil in Beaconsfield and has occasionally read his work at The Poet’s Cafe in Reading.

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Carolyn Oulton

 

 

 

Pandemic

The windscreen’s dusty, I forgot
to turn off the lights
and now the car won’t start.
I won’t I assure the man by phone
try to hug you when you come.

My mother comes forward,
I take a few steps back.
She cuts the fish and chips in half
floppily, I dance a second
plate for her tomorrow’s lunch.

Letters crawl under their envelopes
like seed. I’ve sent you books,
I’m sending news, I’ve washed
a first class stamp with my tongue.
One chance to post today.

Online laughter, like
your sense of humour.
On the phone to work,
Love you, darling / Sorry,
I wasn’t – sorry – talking to you.

 

 

Carolyn Oulton is Professor of Victorian Literature and Director of the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her most recent collection is Accidental Fruit (Worple).

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Bojana Stojcic

 

 

 

In My Dream You are Not Cold

I’m not shrouded in a blanket of smog as the first
of the winter’s heavy pollution hits the city
schools don’t shut and there are no warnings for
pregnant women (in my dream, there aren’t refineries
and power plants to start with). Your mother doesn’t
burn your clothes, dispose of the needles, doesn’t tell me
where she’ll bury you and what flowers arrangements
are appropriate for the funeral.

In my dream, there are no rules:
candles for the living up, for the deceased down
wear black for 40 days (preferably for a year)
don’t dance, don’t celebrate and don’t you dare
laugh, you’re supposed to mourn. Spirits are not
comfortable seeing their own reflection, she’ll say
covering the mirrors. We should allow you to depart
freely and make offerings on the day of the dead
to facilitate your transition to another life.

I am in charge in my dream so when I say
you can’t leave the house, I mean it.
There are no priests and religions, and
you are forever trapped in our mirrors
getting undressed, shaving, hopping in the shower.
I don’t awaken the following day.
The needle is in your vein when your snoring
startles me awake in the dead of night so
I pull it out, take the tourniquet off and apply pressure
with my fingers to stop bleeding. You sleep through
until noon and when I pinch you, you tell me to stop.
I don’t know what the wake is in my dream and
I don’t say, I’m not making any promises with
a smirk when you ask me not to let go of you.
You lie warm and cuddly by my side
your leg on mine, my arm on yours, and I feel
your pulse against my naked heart when we fuck
making offerings to the gods of love
till death do us both part.

 

 

Bojana Stojcic teaches and writes. Her poetry and prose have appeared in 30+ online and print lit journals and anthologies. She is @BoyaETC on Twitter and is currently working on a collection of short fiction/prose poetry.

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Marc Janssen

 

 

 

Postcard from the Spring

The place I write from
Is small and quiet
Minor key.

It is a world of infinite beauty
Copious possibility
Mute exuberance.

It is not me, but part of me,
The words appear unhappy
Crying for joy.

I want to illustrate a world
Dominated by time
Underscored by love.

I don’t write the way I used to
I don’t see you in the same way
The stars have changed.

I write as someone living in the general
Lost in the specifics
Making up the details.

I write of you all the time
But it’s really me
Really you.

 

 

Marc Janssen coordinates the Salem Poetry Project and Salem Poetry Festival. He is a 2020 Oregon Poet Laureate nominee and his poetry is scattered around the world in places like Penumbra, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast and The Ottawa Arts Journal.

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Dan Dorman

 

 

Dan Dorman teaches creative writing at the Cleveland Institute of Art and circulates library books. His writing can be found at jubilat, Word for/Word and Jet Fuel Review. Connect with him @dormanpoet and dormanpoetry.com.

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Edmund Prestwich

 

 

 

Winter Weathers

Rain, persistent rain, and the last leaves falling.
Voices twittered feebly. What anxious shadows
blue tits seemed then, fluttering through the bare trees’
foodbanks of branches.

How I wished a luminous green bee-eater,
lilac-breasted roller or scarlet macaw could
burst upon us, glittering tropic feathers
calling the sun out.

Wrong, so wrong: dim light, and the silhouetted
birds among black twigs with their agile turnings,
pecking stabs and faint as if distant fluting,
had their own beauty.

Now the clouds have gone. As a blue transparence
bathes the green-streaked bark, and a blue tit’s beret
flashes living sapphire, our street’s wet houses
glow and are holy.

 

 

Edmund Prestwich lives in Manchester. He has published two collections, Through the Window and Their Mountain Mother. You can link to his website and blog at http://edmundprestwich.co.uk/ and for his Amazon page click here.

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