The Cynical Gondolier
Back then he sewed up his
world with an oar.
Couples nestled on his boat,
lost in each other,
while he saw the bones
of their lives, glimpses
of threadbare wives,
One eye closed.
They would fixate
on eggshells, talk riddles.
Abstract pictures formed
of gigantic looms,
of marriage vows,
while some clawed,
in the paper-tray.
One night, he saw Venus
on a bridge of the River Po.
She spun him into her loom
and by the moon’s light
into the river bank.
He did not see the queue
at the river side,
or hear the serenade,
as she added layer upon layer
to their tapestry.
Sharon Woodcock‘s poems have been published in anthologies; Sea of Ink (Ink Pantry Publishing) and The Busker (What the Dickens Magazine), and in the online magazines: Kumquat Poetry, Anti-Zine, Message in a Bottle, Ink Sweat and Tears, Atavic Poetry and The Zen Space. She co-edits the webzine and quarterly journal at Word Bohemia.Read More
A Few Words
She removed her coat and folded it over her lap as she sat down.
‘How are you today Leo?’
He pushed against the mattress with both fists, two pillows supporting his
back as he reached a more or less seated position. ‘I’m alright,’ he
gasped. ‘I’ve been reading.’
‘You and your reading; if you’d done less of that and taken more exercise
you might not be lying there now.’
He smiled. ‘I’ve written something.’
He leaned away from her and reached across to a bedside table, where books
and sheets of paper were piled in no apparent order.
She looked down to the side of the bed and examined the grey cardboard pan
of his toilet. It was moulded to the shape of a household lavatory bowl
and she wondered if that was some attempt to make patients feel at home.
Leo turned back, out of breath, and let his arms rest. ‘Here it is,’ he said.
She edged forward and took the sheet of paper from his left hand,
expecting a list of things to be done, things he’d forgotten to do, things
that would need sorting out.
‘What’s this, a poem?’
‘I suppose it is.’
‘You wrote this?’
‘Yes, will you read it to me?’
She hesitated. His breathing sounded more comfortable.
‘Later. I’ve brought you a newspaper and some chocolates. Wouldn’t you
like a chocolate?’
He let the back of his head rest against the uppermost pillow. ‘Please;
read it to me.’
‘Well, alright,’ she said, with some attempt at enthusiasm.
She coughed and glanced around the room, as if there was a wider audience.
‘A Sense of Promise’ she read, ‘by Leo Siran.’
She coughed again.
‘The future sings
Along a tunnel tightened
To his girth, that grew
Before the notes were sighted.
Now that shell, surrounding, cracks
And he can clearly hear the song.’
She continued to look at the page.
‘What does it mean Leo?’ she asked, before lifting her head and watching
him stare at the ceiling.
Ian Osler has worked in research, international sales and marketing and ineducation. He has a poem included in the anthology Click of Time –Reflections on the Digital Age and prose published in the online literary magazine ken*again.Read More
“F” is for “finding anything that is not paper to draw on!”
At first I was impressed
when you could write the initial letter of your first name.
I proudly watched your face concentrate
the ink into a recognisable shape.
Until I found the 3 lines
in black felt-tip on the beige sofa throw,
the angry chalk crumbs under the kitchen table,
well before I find the “F” marked in a lazy moment
beneath one of the chairs.
An “F” embossed on my degree certificate,
frameless since you broke it in a squall
about how the number 8 is not the number 9.
In a flurry on the shopping list
making my trip to Sainsbury’s redundant
as I return with treats and your food,
but forget the toilet rolls, bleach and Vanish.
Your marks will remain until the next trip.
With permanent marker on your arm,
branded on your new super-hero T-shirt
in red paint.
I would be unsurprised to see the letter “F”
emblazoned in the sky,
grown into the flower-bed you helped me plant
or snail-trailed across our lounge carpet.
Sarah L Dixon hosts Post Box Poets, Manchester. She has recently been published in Loose Muse, BOMP3 and YorkMix,. She is taking The Quiet Compere format on a tour of the North in 2014 thanks to Arts Council funding. Find out more here: www.about.me/thequietcompereRead More
i.m. Keith Dawson
Snapping the louvres shut against the night
I brush against the sculpture you once owned
- The Citizen, a muscled hero, naked
except for a belted skin around the loins.
He reminded you, perhaps, of nights you’d spent
with crophaired men brought home from Earl’s Court bars,
check shirts stretched tight across their chests, and eyes
flicking round the room as they raised their beer.
Was it bought before or after the diagnosis
and the doctor’s cold advice: You won’t live long,
enjoy your money now? As your eyes lingered
on the barrelled torso, from the bath you lay in,
you must have thought of the gym-toned lover
whose sickness you inherited. The water
turned slowly red. Tonight, as fog billows
around our house, I think of you that evening,
when mist rolled up from the void, wrapping you
in an embrace as gentle as his strong arms.
Antony Mair recently returned to England after seven years in France, and now writes poetry in Hastings, East Sussex, on a daily basis. He is an active member of the Brighton Stanza group and the Hastings Arts Forum Poets.Read More
What’s in a Name?
I watched as the car pulled off one last time
the magic trick of making you disappear,
wheels drove the lines from where we waited
counting up under blinking LED numbers
anxiously red and trying to hold papers
their corresponding corners rolling inward
where fingers had muddled ink smudges
I could see prints layer their traces over.
When our turn came, the badge said ‘Mary’
her disinterested gaze, contemptuous and slow
flicking her spittle soaked fingers
she stamped green without another word
and the next number was called, we moved on
down similar streets where mist blew yesterday
and the day before, but nothing had changed
all that really, yet something lingered
like stones in the morning
that came to roll away sleeping heads
and leave sockless feet stalling
where every molecule had once lived
now exhausted, the sill had been untouched
instead I watched branches,
as they sprouted through streaks
my face super imposed on the struggling leaves.
Chris Clark is a Scottish-born poet, currently living in Norwich. He studies at the University of East Anglia, as part of the MA Poetry programme, and has previously featured in publications such as Astronaut and Literati Magazine. He is currently working on a poetry/photography collaboration, due out later in 2014. He enjoys mediocre 90s TV and cheese. His website can be found at http://neveraboutyou.com/Read More