My grandmother teaches me
Her flat swings through the mirrored door
and we are wafted with mothballs.
Her nylons hiss when she crosses her legs.
Her shoes are mauve, with little heels.
I trawl my fingers in the deeps of the rug,
stir talcum miasmas and breathe
through my mouth.
She directs from the flounced stool
that goes with the dressing table.
“Darling, let’s get all these shoes out.”
I reach up to push aside soft ranks of clothes,
their hangers conversational above my head.
Silk slips between wool crepe skirts.
A mohair coat-dress strokes my cheek.
I trap a belt. It’s armoured in crocodile
coiled like a snake. It unrolls
a glittered buckle, strikes my hand. “Oh,
I used to be so slim,” she says, “when I was young.”
Already I know when to say nothing. Instead
I find high-heeled sandals that swing pretty
in my grip, while I measure the stab
of a heel between finger and thumb.
“Say stiletto! “ Her voice is beads skittled on a tray.
“Your Mummy should wear these, shouldn’t she?”
Jean Atkin works as a poet, and lives in Shropshire. Her first collection Not Lost Since Last Time is published by Oversteps Books. She has also published four pamphlets and a children’s novel, The Crow House. She is Poet in Residence for Wenlock Poetry Festival 2015. www.jeanatkin.comRead More
Pilates Retreat to Amazonia
In focus – the edges of things –
Like wiry mangroves, I contract to my toes
imitating branches crooked bends.
A backbreaking stance
fixed there, melded in the earth
while an aroma of poisonous fungus
whistles through my synapses.
Out of focus – a still motion of colour –
I catch a suspicion of curves.
Far-flung, my blurred heartbeat,
is an echo with no intimacy.
I reverb inside the mulch breath
of a snake, wallow underwater
in the thrum of my bodies fear.
Jane R Rogers has been writing poetry for five years and is a member of the Greenwich Poetry Workshop and Poetry Magazine team, and has co-edited Magma. Jane lives in London but misses the West Country.
Note: after Lothar Baumgarten’s El DoradoRead More
On a bus to LA
Our pulse quickens, we get ever closer,
as if by a conjurer’s hand, lanes multiply.
Cars, RVs, trucks with mirror-silvered cabs
power on past. In the distance planes
are sucked through sunrays into LAX
others spat out into the fouled air.
The city is seeping into the landscape
a stain is spreading forever outwards.
Vehicles trying to leave the city
are held up by blue flashing lights,
from all directions hot steel and rubber
stop, jamming every stilted highway.
Logo to logo, urgent to leave to get to
wherever, whatever. Now whenever.
We continue on in, going towards what?
A stain is spreading forever outwards.
Martin Johns lives in Northamptonshire. His work has appeared in The Rialto and Acumen. His poem ‘Consignment’ is included in the anthology Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge. Martin holds a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from MMU.Read More
The quilt’s growing across the floor
you say as we drive up the A1.
The scenery’s your evenings at home:
checking the phone for messages,
drawing curtains. The silence.
Then it’s your dad who ran away
to Mansfield with Aunty Mab,
whose best friend was his wallet,
who said you’d be ladding
if you joined the athletics club.
Wensleydale takes over conversation:
different coping and through-stones,
different stitches around fields.
Later, in the diary, rennet
draws the solids out of milk.
From a viewing gallery, we watch
the workers with carving knives
slice up a tank of curd
into blubbery slabs that are hauled
over to drain the whey.
My mother, you say, would keep
any milk that had gone sour,
place it in a muslin bag and hang it
from the cold tap; she made
the best cottage cheese ever.
Stuart Pickford is the recipient of an Eric Gregory award. His first collection, The Basics, was published by Redbeck Press (2002) and shortlisted for the Forward Best First Collection prize. His second collection is Swimming with Jellyfish (2016) from smith/doorstop. Stuart lives in Harrogate and teaches in a local comprehensive school.Read More
When I Return to London
It asks me how long I can hold my breath for
I tell the city, that I invented drowning
That I knew the ocean when it was only limbs / not yet a body
That could not swallow
Only spit or spray
I tell London, that I knew the ocean
Way back when
It was sinking too
Before the waves and the wildlife
I tell London, that I have seen how wonder looks before others glance its way
How a universe looks when it is still an atom
How all humans still sway like windscreen wipers
On days there is no storm
When I return to London
The city does not ask where I have been
It is an abusive lover
I will leave, then come home to
Only to count each bruise like a new bedtime story
The city asks
If I have learnt to run in my sleep
I ask it if the ocean sleeps
I do not say, I am the ocean
But I mean, I am going to make waves
I am going to crash again and again
And still thrash like nothing has happened
I am going to bubble over
While everyone watches
I am going to scream until the seagulls
Arrive to offer assistance
And I will drown in myself
Just like the ocean does each night
Before the sky resuscitates it,
I will hold my breath
Just to remember how good oxygen tastes
In desperate lungs
Because one day the ocean will say
That it knew me when I was only limbs
Not yet a body
Maddie Godfrey is an Australian-bred poet living in London. She has won poetry slams in Western Australia, London, Oxford and Cambridge. Maddie has performed at the Sydney Opera House, and at a festival held in a graveyard. www.maddiegodfrey.comRead More
Five Compression Poems
– from special effects
one look at her face | her eyes
her blue tattoos |
she steps onto no man’s land
takes a deep breath & touches the hearts
of last week’s stripped & searched
cosmic-brokers of dreams | she doesn’t budge
to the helmeted head of a childhood
folded back into the earth
known figures investigate
the open fields of your rooms
counting their nights in the dark
putting words in mouths
memory serums line your shelves
the space you occupy now
is furnished for a child
i survive identities
dig the garden
stab at the birthing holes in plants
& you practise the ovarian experience
of green blood in your streams | your gullies |
in your lexicon of new bones
body hungry i stumble about for a mouthful of her absence
i taste a raw consensual acquiescence | an unspoken sentence
is caught | manhandled | as to her whereabouts
is a matter of interpreting calendars
he spends days unearthing
adjusting to observations of black cats
mad-eyed owls | a Judas sheep in the backyard
i’m told at night he sleeps with toys
Iain Britton‘s poems have recently been published, or are forthcoming in Molly Bloom, The Interpreter’s House, Long Poem Magazine, Stand, Clinic, Card Alpha, The Curly Mind, M58, The Literateur. Since 2008, Iain has had five collections of poems published, mainly in the UK. A new collection photosynthesis was published by Kilmog Press (NZ), 2014.Read More