Oz Hardwick

 

 

 

 

Off-Peak Single

 

The turnstile jammed, trapping me half way through, casting me in the role of inconvenience for the queue that gathered in Fibonacci curves, bristling with smartphones and resentment. I scanned and inserted my ticket at every possible angle, then the same angles again but in a different order, but the gate didn’t move and the crowd swelled, became unruly, pleading and threatening. On the other side, the hall had emptied, fallen to silence as the lights went out. My ticket wore thin, and when I lifted it to my eye I could see through it to the desperate, angry, Biblical mass who looked to me for the release of all their earthly cares, or at least for loaves and fishes. By the time the ticket had fallen to fine powder, the turnstile was thick with moss, with small shrubs chancing their tentative lives in this emerging world. Bees waggled their stories of new terrain, and a yellow songbird scored its eloquent truth. My hands throb with the primal power of mulch and loam, my fingers unfolding in the prestidigitation of new life. I regret to inform you of the cancellation of all services. Let there be light.

 

 

 

 

Oz Hardwick is a York-based poet, photographer, occasional musician, and reluctant academic. His latest publication is a prose poetry chapbook, Learning to Have Lost (Canberra: IPSI, 2018). His ambition is to play bass in a Belgian space-rock band. www.ozhardwick.co.uk

 

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Josh Ekroy

 

 
Join

You’re reading my poetry
so why not come to my monthly group meetings?
Your presence will keep me fresh
and as the idea of the poem is changing
you will be at the forefront of verse innovation.
Becoming a poet-supporter means
you get to meet me and inform my line-breaks
my choice of conceits, my ironic juxtapositions
while helping me to maintain my freedom.
I don’t have a mentor who I have to flatter to stay alive.
I swim alone in a dangerous world of poet-sharks
in which I may be eaten at any time.
My independent and startling voice matters
not just for my sake but for the diversity of poetry,
a world dominated by a few big names
who all know each other and operate
a cartel which stifles opportunity.
I am always free to hold them to account
and I have dared where many have shied away.
I do not have to keep looking over my shoulder
to see if my imagery or prosody are approved
by the gurus of the workshop mafia. I am committed
to keeping poetry free on my twitterfeed
my blog, my i-phone and on instaverse.
I have no paywall. There is an instinctive bond
between my readers – they nod to each other
on the tube as they crack open my new pamphlet. Now
you can actually join me in person
and support me by becoming a member
of my poetic community, come to events with me,
talk zeugma, travel expenses and what
it means to be human. If you read me, join me.

 

 

Josh Ekroy‘s collection Ways To Build A Roadblock is published by Nine Arches Press.

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And your Pick of the Month for December 2018 is Catherine Ayres and ‘Christmas Eve tea’

*The word ‘beautiful’ was repeated over and over in the comments and, although it is a word sometimes overused when describing poetry, in this instance it felt just right and voters made ‘Christmas Eve tea’ by Catherine Ayres the IS&T Pick of the Month for December 2018.

Catherine is a teacher from Northumberland. Her debut collection, Amazon, was published in 2016 by Indigo Dreams.

She has asked that her £10 ‘prize’ be donated to Cancer Research UK.

 

Christmas Eve tea

5 o’clock.
Light silvers the sill.
This is the season of curious moons,
when we’re lost in the velvet of ourselves,
undreaming the deep nights
 between tomorrow and the past.

Rooms flower slowly, like stars.

Here are steep steps,
a hexagon of doors,
two china dogs guarding
the gas fire’s slapped cheeks.

I find the Smarties tube of tuppences.
I shake the Virgin so the Holy Water swirls.
I am allowed to sink my face
into the Sunday furs.

In the kitchen,
a clutch of pinnied women
makes the china clink.

Cold meats,
trifle,
salad from a tin.

This is not a photograph –
it’s the warm edge of the past
where the women I love
are still alive.

I thought life would slot
into a snug line
by the sink.

My kitchen is neat and cold.
Light silvers the sill.
At the window, stars.

*********

Voters comments included:

The imagery of such a common place event comes through in an extraordinary manner in a beautiful aesthetic flow.

Strong images and I love the shape and mood of this poem

Best evocation of the past I have ever read – love the warmth and softness of it and remembered especially the 3 lines after ‘this is not a photograph’

Her use of description is incredible.

So effectively describes that slip through time where memory is the only way to get to people and things that are no longer actually here. I love the contrast between the warmth and coldness.

It’s a lovely light touch with a deeper sentiment

‘The warm edge of the past’ is so evocative of a world we have lost – the sense of a community that no longer exists, a momentary glimpse. This so delicately expresses those times when history briefly superimposes itself upon the present like a ghost. Beautiful.

The spare quality of her vocabulary underpins the universal ache of nostalgia without descending into bathos.

a lovely neat, crisp poem with lots to say in few lines

It is the essence of nostalgia without a shred of sentimentality, the smarties tube, China dogs and pinkies . Women I feel I knew.

I love the simplicity and yet the layered complexity of Catherine’s poem. She is able to convey emotion in the most creative ways for example ‘lost in the velvet of ourselves’. You can’t quite describe what that means whilst at the same time I know exactly what she means. Her words hit a sense that needs no other explanation – I immediately know what she means – like some long lost melody that we suddenly remember in our hearts.

This poem has a nostalgic feel to it but is written in a modern form. It is satisfying to read but leaves me thinking about the themes for a long time.

Like many of the best poems, this one is rooted in precise detail but at the same time leaves space for the reader to bring their own memories. I loved reading this on Christmas Eve.

Right from the first line, this poem is full of Christmas imagery – spare use of words with no shortage of story. A back-story that is nostalgic and a present that is cold and yearning – repeating the first line as the penultimate line, launches the final line full of hope.

It was the magic she found in the every day, the lightness of touch with the nostalgia across generations that also felt universal, inclusive and comforting to me as a reader. It was hard to choose between this and ‘Narrowing’, but this one just had the edge in terms of seeming positive and enchanting.

It’s such a beautiful, economical evocation of a woman’s life – and her connection with a previous generation of women.

This poem took me to a place that was at once full of something beautiful and consumed by sorrow.

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Gill Lambert

 

 

 

The Small Stuff

I worry about you, girl,
so don’t worry about yourself.
Don’t settle for the first
man who says he loves you,
there’ll be others. Any dress
you wear will be wonderful,
that body you have will not
always look like that.

Hug your mum. Spend money
on yourself but save some;
you may not have a pension.
Don’t start smoking, you’ll
only have to stop, don’t use
drink as a prop.

Kiss your dad.
Don’t lie, steal or feel bad
about breaking hearts.
Don’t fester or ruminate.
But do buy a house
for seventeen thousand
in 1988.

 

 

 

 

Gill Lambert is a poet and teacher from Yorkshire. She has been published in print and online and her pamphlet Uninvited Guests was published last year by Indigo Dreams. A solo collection is forthcoming in 2019.

 

 

 

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Scott Manley Hadley

 

 

 

Love Poem #34
 
I want to be in snow so cold with you I start to cry
I want to be in rain so hard with you that I feel naked because all my clothes are stuck to the skin
I want to spend a day swimming with you on a beach so hot that the skin on the back of my neck starts to peel and I have one beer and I feel nauseous.

I want the wind when I’m with you to push me to the ground
I want fog so thick that I can’t see you but I can feel you holding my hand
I want the rivers to dry out
And lava to flow down every city street.

I want forest fires that are put out by tidal waves
I want hail stones the size of melons
I want tornadoes strong enough to lift a church.

I want the world outside
To be as massive and messy and wild
As I feel
When I look at you.

 

 

 

Scott Manley Hadley blogs at TriumphoftheNow.com and his debut poetry collection, Bad Boy Poet, is available now from all online book retailers and many real life shops.

 

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Jacquie Wyatt

 

 

 

In My Twenties I Told a Story

about putting you, my own
father, in hospital
after you went for me.

You never did. I never did
but that ‘never’ was why
you paid for my Judo lessons.
and I soiled us both by lying.

My brother demolishes your home
hammers our memories apart,
claws your will out of that ruin
with every levered brick.

He caves in my certainty,
not how it was meant to be,
his lips press so tight
as he eclipses you.
 

 

 

Jacquie Wyatt has been published in South, Clear, Structo, Golddust, The DawnTreader and Rollick amongst others while reluctantly pursuing a marketing career (lying for a living). She dwells in deepest, darkest Kent.

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