The bell ringing tumbles
clanging down your spine.
You feel a soft wind, warm
enough for bare legs, and the
baked grass stencils itself
into your flesh.
It’s the slow yellow evening
after her graduation. You think back
to trying on her robes: how you’d
jammed on the heavy, wobbling
mortarboard so it dragged
your hair from its knot; hung
the gown over your shoulders. It was
more like carrying than wearing,
an absurd costume on you, scratchy
black like old school blazers; sleeves
dripping, hood slipping. On her,
however, it glided;
a graceful, meaningful wake.
Your face was a picture
when you took in the gilded bannister,
the thrones, the carpet, the rousing
Handel overture. You waited for her head
to bob into view, watched as the chancellor
Laid his hands over hers. You felt young
as you posed for photos, the sun as strong
as a hand pushing at your back.
Jenny Danes grew up in Essex and now lives in Newcastle where she studies English Literature and German. In 2013 she was highly commended in the Bridport Prize for poetry, and she is currently one of the literature editors for Alliterati magazine. She also runs poetry workshops within Newcastle University’s creative writing society.Read More
Such a sullen beast, that heart,
and fat and listless, gorging on blood
that comes so easy to it with every lazy pump;
and the lungs, more creatures with nothing better to do
that devour great lumps of air. rattle the stuff around
in old cigarette-stained sacs then wheeze it out
like a leaking tire.
And the mind is a creepy blob-monster in a cave.
still and silent but for a long grotesque red tongue
that zaps thoughts like flies:
so what can the body do but obey orders,
slump into chairs, crawl up on sofas.
ooze under sheets, take up space.
Only the mouth protests this languor,
attempts every now and then to fight back a little;
“yes I promise.” it says, and believes,
“I will. I will,” it adds and is never surer;
but gross and slow and unwilling is the soul swine:
when necessary for survival, it sits heavy on his life;
at the first sign of intention, it knows where to find him.
John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Paterson Literary Review, Southern California Review and Natural Bridge with work upcoming in the Kerf, Leading Edge and Louisiana Literature.Read More
Haikus inspired by the macarons of Patisserie Madeleine, Edinburgh
Here’s Fleur d’Oranger,
Saffron Pistache, Sakura.
Instead of breakfast.
The orchard’s wingspan.
A child is hula hooping
in the evening sun.
I’m taking the yellow bike
over the river.
Thé au Jasmin
Walking in circles,
the woman pushing the pram,
the year of the horse.
Dark flamingo moon.
The sea’s humming in purple,
a ring in my palm.
Asleep in your coat,
the train’s crossing an orchard.
The wine glass trembles.
The city breathes inwards
The deepest of green.
Glass beads scattered on the grass,
making a necklace.
Stav Poleg’s graphic-novel shorts Dear Penelope (with artist Laura Gressani) has been acquired recently by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Her poetry is featured in the anthology Be the First to Like This: New Scottish Poetry (Vagabond Voices).
Circles was created as part of the Clarence Street Poets’ Hai-Caroons exhibition at the Poetry Patisseire in Edinburgh, August 2014.
Hard to believe
facts are visible things
of no serious use
spilling their guts
to anyone who can open a book
they have to tell you something
unable to empathise
do not bring the invisible into play
but abandon their dignity
and show you everything
was a good days work
when with a full stomach
we first looked into the fire
we saw more than was there
are there for all to see
that is why
they are hard to believe
Gareth Writer-Davies was shortlisted for Bridport Prize and the Erbacce Prize in 2014, Highly Commended, Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize in 2012 and 2013. His pamphlet Bodies will be published by Indigo Dreams in 2015.Read More
Teeth like Freddie
They were the talk of the town. If not the town, then school at least. Everyone at school knew Stephen Bentley had teeth like Freddie. The most sought-after gnashers in stardom. He even looked a bit like Freddie too, with his short black hair and ghost of a moustache.
We even think Miss Perkins had a crush on him. Of course she couldn’t actually come out and say it but there was definitely something in those looks of hers. The way she picked him to stay behind for a few minutes and help her tidy the classroom ready for the start of next lesson, which basically meant a few more minutes gazing at Freddie Mercury Jr. She would have loved that.
Stephen though, did not.
He hated his slightly goofy teeth, the way his mouth looked like a Venus fly trap when it was closed as though his teeth yearned to escape. He hated the way they drew unwanted attention and prompted jibes whenever he entered a room – be it classroom, dinner hall or the bogs. But most of all, he hated when Peter Grove and the rest of his clan all burst into song, reeling off Another One Bites the Dust, The Show Must Go On and, of course, Bohemian Rhapsody like they were letters of the alphabet. He must have cursed them every day; the look in his eyes resembled jagged shards of glass – intended to wound.
So when we discovered him in Geography wearing a brace, we were too shocked to speak.
No, it can’t be. Steve can’t be wearing a…can he? God, he is…
Even I had to blink several times and pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Stephen Bentley was wearing a brace.
‘What’s he wearing that for?’ said Peter.
‘Dunno. Must be the new look.’
‘But look at it. It’s all metal and…horrible. Yuck!’
I said, ‘He’s obviously wearing it to correct his teeth. To straighten them and make him look less…goofy.’
I really wanted to use another word but nothing sprang to mind. The other guys just looked at each other, then burst out laughing.
Although their laughter didn’t last long.
Within three months, Stephen Bentley looked considerably less goofy; his mouth now resembled a small closed tulip. Even Miss Perkins noticed the difference. She stopped singling him out. She stopped trying to catch his eye in class. She stopped asking him to stay behind.
Stephen was glad. Now he could spend his full attention on the texts she gave us to read in class instead of timing his moments to look up.
I, for one, was slightly pissed off with him; he no longer had the adoration of Miss Perkins, and to tell you the truth that was no mean feat – she was quite the catch. All I had to do now was get her to notice me.
After six months had passed, there were no visible signs that he ever had teeth like the legendary Freddie Mercury. This erased any respect I secretly held for him. Peter & Co. stopped singing the hits and no longer made a crack about his teeth. Stephen Bentley was now a regular teenager with no distinguishing feature. Stephen Bentley was actually quite boring.
Eight months after he had the brace fitted, Stephen Bentley had it removed. And he looked like a completely different guy. He grew his hair long, shaved off the ghost moustache and flashed us the least-goofiest grin ever.
I felt myself, Peter, and all his friends shrink inside our school uniform. Now we were the pathetic ones.
A few weeks later the school seemed different without his trademark teeth. Each lesson was an even longer, more painful experience, with students resorting to throwing paper aeroplanes to make the time pass, though it wasn’t the same. It was never the same again.
I missed the jokes, the greatest hits, the camaraderie. Peter & Co. did too.
My dentist was surprised to see me after an eighteen month absence, and was even more surprised when he heard my request.
‘I don’t know if I can make you look like Freddie but I can certainly try to get you his teeth.’
And so the treatment began.
Already I can hear Peter & Co. singing the hits, their voices proud and full of contentment. I can also see the glad eyes of Miss Perkins looking straight at me.
Lauren Bell lives in Birmingham and is often drunk on inspiration. Her work has been published by Word Bohemia, Synaesthesia Magazine, Bare Fiction, The Casket of Fictional Delights and Storgy Magazine where she is a contributing writerRead More