On the Sixth Day of Christmas, we bring you Pat Edwards, Marc Woodward, Alison Binney

 

 

 

 

Mary and Joseph

I saw them in two bottles of cleaning product,
with a stripy cloth thrown over their heads.

I saw them in a swirling cloud formation,
streaks of white and grey becoming figures.

I saw them in the frozen patterns of leaves,
glinting at me in December’s fallen debris.

Mary and Joseph together, not quite touching,
red and brown sauce standing on the table.

They are about as far away as a reluctant carol
sung by tots and teens, by seniors and carers.

They are as distant as the Pound Shop presents
stuffed into charity show boxes for the poor.

They are as out of reach as peace on Earth,
as unlikely as goodwill beyond the festive fun.

But I know I saw them. She was too young
and he overwhelmed by his responsibilities.

 

 

Pat Edwards is a writer, teacher and performer from Mid Wales. Her work has appeared in Prole, Magma, Atrium and others. She hosts Verbatim poetry open mic nights and curates Welshpool Poetry Festival.

 

 

 

Midnight, mid-December, in a fake railway carriage diner at JFK

Zoltan Leonardo tells me his spectacular,
improbable name. Says Call me Zolly!.
He’s a painter, a drummer, and Yes, I’m an alcoholic…
Like it’s obvious and beyond his control.

Gaunt and brown, face like an old satchel,
dark hair lashing his forehead. Shirt unbuttoned.
Says he’s owned his scarlet leather trousers
for twelve years, never washed them.

He turns to the bar to order a bourbon
but the waitress bluntly refuses.
She’s already weary of December drunks
and it’s still a long run of night shifts to go.

She says the top bar is closed
but he can have a beer from the bottom.
He stands four bottles of Michelob
on the table like a row of toy soldiers.

We’re not the only ones in the place.
There’s a backpacking couple in the corner booth
their heads down on the unwiped table;
two suited guys at the bar swiping phones.

So you ain’t gonna believe me,
this old girlfriend calls up after thirty years,
says she’s been holdin’ a candle,
wants to see me. Thirty years though..? I mean….

And the big red cherry in her Christmas cocktail?
She’s inherited half a million and a house in LA.
Can you believe that? It’s insane man –
a fuckin’ pad in the city of angels!

So I’m thinking maybe she’s an angel
– but where’s she been all these years, hey?
Whatever…  I’m flying to LA in the morning.
I ain’t got a ticket yet but I’m going, you know?

At this point I’m expecting a request for help,
a contribution to the fare – a ‘loan’ of course.
I’m preparing my rejection but it doesn’t come.
Instead he reaches forward, unscrews two beers.

I mean a house and half a million bucks.
Did I tell you I’m a painter? Palm trees no problem.
So…hey – what’s your name? Let’s drink a toast:
To old angels and monied lovers!

 

 

Marc Woodward is a poet and musician living in Devon, England. He has been widely published and his recent collections include A Fright Of Jays (Maquette Press 2015) and Hide Songs (Green Bottle Press 2018).

 

 

 

Opening

Every Christmas I wonder what my aunt is thinking
sending us separate cards, in separate envelopes,
with separate stamps, to the same address.

Perhaps the allure of the burly postman,
sweating under the double weight of mail,
will turn my gaze, at last, from your smile.

Perhaps the extra reaching down, picking up,
opening, reading, means today
I will leave for work without a kiss.

Perhaps we will fight over whose card
takes pride of place, fall out, fall silent,
fall into separate beds, separate. Yes, they know

what they are doing, these separate-card senders,
and therefore so must we, sharing cards, homes,
wounds, opening ourselves out.

 

 

Alison Binney is an English teacher from Cambridge who has recently created more space in her life for writing poetry. She has been published in ‘Magma’, ‘The North’, ‘The Fenland Reed’ and ‘Under the Radar’.  This poem was mentioned in the recent Seren Christmas card competition write-up.

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