Emily Bullock and Sibyl Ruth . . . Remember! for National Poetry Day

 

 

 

Back Issues

He kneels at the stacks of Exchange and Mart, dates set.
Wouldn’t mean nothing to no one that the Austin Princess sits
atop the Ford Transit. Some use crosswords or those Japanese
squares with numbers missing. He has lots of

gaps. But not in his collection, which stops
when they switched to that net thing; like Technicolor
ruined the precision of black and white. Pages feel
soft as winceyette pyjamas; a static pulse as he rubs his finger down

a spine. Everyone needs backbone. He lifts up a copy:
green Hillman Imp that clung to corners; all except one.
His mum kept clippings and the solitaire ring, mourning
the nearly-was-daughter-in-law. Red and black

ink. The only way to print, the sort that soaked into skin,
never smudged lines. Transferred words sit
in his palm, makes and models catalogued inside: the caravan
his dad built, anchored on a Bedford Van base; shipwrecked

on Southend sandbars. The white Renault 5 that kept
by his side through football hooligan Saturday nights, to poll
tax riot Sunday mornings. Faithfull as a German Shepherd
he had as a boy. The car, not the dog, died

in defence: crumpled bumper, smashed wing mirrors, no broken bones.
The dog went to live in the country. He reaches for March
‘76. Scanning rising pricing for cherished plates. A grey-flecked woman
enters the room, stands between him and his back issues. Calls herself

wife. He laughs at that, holds up page 33:Yammaha 650cc. Key
to the Door: birthday Heinekens; key in the ignition. Leather jacket
but not a Rocker, invincible as only young men are. Here comes
the roundabout, spit-up oil winking in the phosphorous

streetlight… The old lady snatches, tears at paper; confetti
falls. The order is scrapped, the stack needs MOTing again.
He shuts his eyes: elbows on glass counter, counting out
farthings; spring rain tapping outside the newsagent’s, the shopkeeper slips
his copy into a bag – lifted, not torn from the hook – hands it over.

He cradles it tight to his chest, crinkling thud of his heart
against brown paper. Issue number one. Mint condition.
One careful owner.

 

 

Emily Bullock won the Bristol Short Story Prize with her story My Girl, which was also broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Her memoir piece No One Plays Boxing was shortlisted for the Fish International Publishing Prize 2013. She has a Creative Writing MA from the University of East Anglia and completed her PhD at the Open University, where she also teaches Creative Writing.
Her debut novel The Longest Fight  will be published by Myriad in February 2015.

 

 

 

Conjurer

The house rang to the rhythm of your hunger.
Lunch at one. Dinner at six sharp.

You got served first.
Proper hot food. Beans and bright carrots,
potatoes, gravy.

There was glory in the work of your hands,
their deft packing and stabbing,
the knifeblade’s flash and shimmer.

Always that race towards pudding,
Your hope of fruit tart
or crumble, in a lake of custard.

Vast quantities came to the gate
of your throat. And vanished.

 

 

 

Sibyl Ruth remembers writing poems. She is the author of two small press collections Nothing Personal (Iron Press) and I Could Become That Woman (Five Leaves.)  These days writes about pictures. Her blogs are on www.sandjfine.art 

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