Jim Bennett

 

 

 

the bluebottle

died immediately on impact
the crunch against the window
unmistakable
my father stood newspaper in hand
the single wrist flick
had broken the fly trajectory
sent it to a splattering death

it had buzzed around the room
for hours
around the food on the table
around his head
wearing down my father’s patience
until he snapped
grabbed his newspaper
rolled it into a baton
and lunged   a single swipe
and it was silent

though unsettled by this
act of brutality
I thought it better to stay quiet
as I watched him eat his cake
telling mum about the fly

I didn’t tell him
what I had learned about bluebottles
I just watched him eat his cake
together with the dead fly’s vomit

 

 

 

 

Jim Bennett, has written 74  books and numerous chapbooks and pamphlets in a 50 year career as a poet.  Jim lives near Liverpool in the UK and tours giving readings of his work throughout the year.  He is widely published and has won many competitions and awards for poetry and performance. He runs www.poetrykit.org one of the world’s most successful internet sites for poets.

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Sue Finch’s ‘The Seventh Car Will Be His’ is Pick of the Month for September

As always, it came down to the last few votes but ‘The Seventh Car Will Be His’ by Sue Finch just edged ahead to be Pick of the Month for September. This ‘dark’ ‘sad’ poem drew voters to it because it was ‘extremely visual’ but at the same time much remained unsaid. Ultimately, it left the reader with a sense of unease and forboding

Sue loves North Wales, the sea and being lost inside a film. She is currently completing her MA with MMU. She has asked that her £10 ‘prize’ be donated to Cancer Research UK.

 

The Seventh Car Will Be His

As the raindrops collected on the glass
the old man opposite strolled down his path.
Kneeling on the chair she watched all movement.
Next door’s tatty tabby sat on the kerb
washing methodically behind his ears.
A crisp packet, encouraged by the wind
that brought the rain, turned a somersault
and she wondered if it felt its freedom.
Time had halted in their house since last night;
She didn’t want to hear her breath, admit
she existed or have to move from there.
Only when her brother came to kneel too
could she exhale the sigh that needed to
escape from the jail of her too-taut lungs
It will be alright, he said, sparing her
a glance. Are you sure? she asked not looking.
The seventh car will be his, just you see!
She knew she did not want to see the truth.
The truth was the rabbit hung in the shed,
The truth was the claret blood dropped from its nose –
congealed yet fresh on the stone floor. The truth
wasn’t quite covered by half a blanket.
Multiples of seven came and went and
the old man returned. Not noticing them
he shut his front door and stayed safe inside.
He lit the front room then darkened it again
with his smoothly drawn pleated curtains,
They both knew he was still there, just hidden.
But so too was the lifeless hanging pet.
They sat watching, waiting, not yet crying.

 

Voters’ comments included:

This poem makes me feel as though I am the girl who is shocked at the sight of a dead rabbit. It is easy to imagine myself in the girls shoes, being a child again, watching out of the window, being comforted by my brother. A vivid picture is painted of what can be seen in the street while they are waiting. I like the fact that the biggest shock comes at the end when you realise it is a pet rabbit rather than one that would be used as food. It is atmospheric and dark.

The sense of tragedy and mystery which shimmers with every word.

Extremely visual.

Evocative, sad and beautifully written

So real it hurt.

Strong imagery (rabbit, crisp packet and tatty tabby). The line – Time had halted in their house since last night – is powerful and foreboding.

I love the authenticity and childlike tone which is captured so well in the poem. It keeps resonating inside me.

There is a build up, tension leading toward something unknown, and even then only implied. Very cleverly done.

I like the subtle way it hints at something dark. Fantastic!

Emotive. Perfect. Clever.

Sublime.

…it’s the one that made me stop at the end and just contemplate the most.

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Sarah Cave

 

Moomin’s Dream

Moomin bit his tongue
a forget-me-not token
of excess flourished
his last night-terror
a dark hallway
an echo
follows
13 steps
an amber glow
the sign of 13
Moomin’s ball and chain
rhyme
dissolves in an acid rain
ephemera
marking stonework
he sees words
emerge, bob,
bob, balance
like buoys
like rhythms ripping
tides of Sisyphean repetition            end stop

Moomin longs for the body
an endless deconstructed bag
joining lips to the stop                 end stop
he can’t stop reading theory         stop

unscramble                     Speak plain! Screams Moomin
clasping his cheeks
surrounded by a swirl of colour

Snorkmaiden dances      
behind him     shells
in her hair                       She’s confused you for a machine, Moomin says to himself
this unending war
between us
‘Morris would never
paint a fringe like that’     Another might, Moomin reasons  
she carries out preordained
motions a Wildean parody
of seashore

where ocean drift is tapestry
scenes invoking conjuring tricks
an umbrella
a hat stand,
a dragon painted
kite trailing silk
ribbons
all pulled from Snorkmaiden’s
sea-sick sense
of loss –

Poor Snorkmaiden, sighs Moomin, she has no voice.

a rabbit hole of mimsy

 

 
 

 

 Sarah Cave  is currently studying for an MA in Poetry at Royal Holloway. She has had poetry, reviews and stories published in magazines including Tears in the Fence, Shearsman and Oxford Poetry Magazine. She has a small pamphlet, Cast on Ice, published by Smallminded Books.

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William Stephenson

 

 

 

The Chocolate Parliament

In summer the facade drips sweet brown sweat.
Tourists like to nibble the carvings, especially
the gargoyles speckled with raisins and almonds.

It’s tastiest around election time when the walls
soften in the heat of spotlights orbited by flies
sucking news through microphone probosces.

Contingency plans exist to whip the building
into a mousse topped with cherries and cream.
A cross-party committee is tasting the recipe.

The PM favours a jam-cemented Victoria sponge
boxed with a snowflake logo and the legend
Suitable for Home Freezing.  Thus we will cheat

use by and best before.  Our bodies will harden
in coffins of ice, crystalline at minus eighteen,
our packaging bristling with warnings listing

allergens, sugar, saturates, kilojoules per serving.
Potential energy.  Fuel for the gut of the fat man
who drools at the glass as the microwave sings.

 

 

 

William Stephenson’s poems have appeared in Envoi, Iota, Magma, The North and The Rialto.  His first collection Travellers and Avatars was shortlisted for the Live Canon First Collection Prize and will appear in 2017.

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Milton P. Ehrlich

 

 

 

I Never Had it So Good

Floating upside down
in my private ocean
in a translucent body bag
all my needs were met.

Though my knees
were crammed against
my belly, I enjoyed
slow-motion somersaults
like the Apollo 7 astronauts.

I kept my ears pressed against
bloody walls, to find out
what could be next:

Once expelled,
I flapped around like a fish
out of water.
I never recovered.

 

 

 

Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D is an 85 year-old psychologist. A Korean War veteran, he has  published numerous poems in periodicals such as Descant, Wisconsin Review, Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow, Toronto Quarterly Review, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, and the New York Times.

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Jonathan Taylor

 

 

Daedalus After Knossos

The maze is now a seashell’s
spiral threaded by an ant,
a miniature Ariadne
searching for honey,

as if sun-touching ambitions
are drowned in an ocean
and grief has compacted
Daedalian ingenuity
to an ever-diminishing point,

the minutiae of mourning
over three thousand years
reaching sub-atomic level,
a labyrinth of quantums
in which you are finally lost
and all of us are threadless.

 

 

 

Jonathan Taylor‘s books include the novel Melissa (Salt 2015), the memoir Take Me Home (Granta, 2007), and the poetry collection Musicolepsy (Shoestring, 2013). He directs the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. He lives in Leicestershire with his wife, the poet, Maria Taylor, and their twin daughters, Miranda and Rosalind. His website is www.jonathanptaylor.co.uk.

 

Note: Following the death of his son, Daedalus settled in Sicily. He was discovered there by King Minos when he was asked to solve a riddle: how to thread a spiral seashell. To do this, he tied a piece of string round an ant, and lured the ant through the shell by placing honey at the other end.
 

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