Samuel W. James

 

 

 

Behind the Glass

There is a thrush on the lawn
and a ladybird on the other side
of the window. This is that calm;

the clouds look liquid, there are crows high up
mixed like dust-bits in a drink, but down here
the fingers of the reaching conifer

are for once still, and the thrush is hopping around.
How fast the clouds move. How quickly they change;
they darken and lighten, then night.

The round edge of a molehill frames my footprint.
Some of the grass is yellow from summer, somehow.
The moon has been coming out before dark lately

and it looked out of its depth in the blue of yesterday.
It isn’t here now, of course, just the slopping clouds
and the bobbing thrush, the still air down here, the ladybird

and the resting conifer, usually hysterical, now calm
below jolted crows, struggling to evacuate the sky.
And there’s me too, behind the glass.

 

 

 

Samuel W. James is a new writer from Yorkshire, and his poems have been accepted by Allegro, London Grip, Peeking Cat, Clockwise Cat, Elsewhere Journal, Adelaide Magazine and Ink, Sweat and Tears.

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November’s Pick of the Month is ‘Frequency Violet’ by Kate Edwards

As ever it was a close-run contest but ‘Frequency Violet’ charmed the voters and Kate Edwards’ poem is our Pick of the Month for November 2017. With comments such as ‘unique and interesting’, ‘quirky’ and ‘playful’, we think everyone just lost their hearts a little!

Kate lives in the Calder Valley in Yorkshire but hails from the Black Country. She is a graduate of the Warwick University Masters in Writing Programme and Co-Artistic Director of all-female theatre company, Jammy Voo.  Twitter: @k8_in_space

 

Frequency Violet

Some have misgivings about Violet. They believe
she is on the spectrum; somewhere at the very end,
in fact. None can account for it but we’re told
she hums inaudibly in the octave of ozone, and lives
in an airlock, loiters in restricted zones, makes
uncanny utterances, keeps marine snails, crushes
pencils into graphite dust, dances like it’s the seventies,
tattoos the world’s conspiracy theories onto uterine vellum,
stays up all night smoothing polymers under strip lights,
blinking. Rumours insist she has an eye for tactical missile
design and stockpiles blueprints, knows how to execute
the perfect gem heist and leave fingerprints all over it.
Her party trick will make volatile hearts and auras
of loneliness glow in the dark; despondency shine black.
Dreams of Violet often precede a wedding or a gas attack.

 

More voters comments below:

Gorgeous, delicate, efficient and bold. Love this. Stayed with me.

Imagery, rhythm, language, detail, originality

It’s just such an unusual and clever poem, I loved the originality of it.

I love the narrative in Kate’s work and the definitiveness that runs through it. It also has a sense of playfulness that delights the reader.

Violet stuns and surprises. The last line is particularly wonderful!

Because I’m in love with Violet…

I just really like it. Despite being unable to describe why. I guess I just like Violet 🙂

As someone trained in science I love how scientific integrity is maintained without compromising poetic sensibility. It’s beautifully nuanced, each line vibrating at the right frequency.

Wonderfully imaginative writing

The opening mis-direction and then the mixture of science and wonderful absurdity. Brilliant

Kate’s words jump off the page and suck you into an imaginative vortex. Her images sing and I want to read more please.

Tough choice this month! I love the energy and humour of Kate’s poem

I love its surprises, its wit and danger.

There’s just a life to this piece and it seems to be staying alive in my head as I find myself coming back to thinking about it.

 

 

 

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Lynne Caddick

 

 

A Fish Hook (Barbed)

The wardrobe is shut tight, the latch awkward
as she lifts it, up and over the rusted catch.

Her fingers touch the jacket first: wool-worn,
fraying at the seam. The arm across her shoulder

limp, loose, a useless thing.  It smells of rain
and nettles – the river where he’d listened for the trout.

Reaching for his pocket feels like theft,
a spying on his river-watch.  She finds the book

of coarse fish, open, where his thumb has turned
the waxy page:  barbel, bleak, bream,

a litany of names, like Adam’s roll call,
stewarding new life.
.
The second pocket stabs her, a finger hooked
by metal, hiding in the feathers of the fly.

She holds it close, puzzling its form: exotic bird;
a scarlet moth; a question mark?

 

 

 

Lynne Caddick, originally from West Yorkshire, currently lives in a small village in Cheshire.  She belongs to the Shrewsbury Stanza Group, and attends the Whitchurch Bookshrop Poetry Group and Nantwich Speakeasy.

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Maureen Curran

 

 

 

Dairy tale

It is the first twin thefts I like least
Her calf stolen
Her milk stolen

Then the theft of her wandering
Her daylight stolen
Her grazing stolen

There is the theft of her name
Her Daisy stolen
Her Henrietta stolen

Not to mention the theft of her standing
For she was Bo Finn
She was Bo Ruadh, Bo Dhubh

Next the theft of her twenty years
Her udders swollen, lifespan stolen
Her short life slit.

 

 

 

 

Maureen Curran is from Donegal, Ireland. Her poems are published widely in journals and can be read online at Honest Ulsterman, Lake Poetry, Southword, Spontaneity, Word Bohemia. She blogs with her group at http://gardenroomwritersdonegal.blogspot.ie/ and tweets @maureenwcurran

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Charles D Tarlton

 

 

 

San Francisco, On the F-Train

He was a poet and when he saw something really interesting he made notes in a little black notebook.  He noticed a young girl in careless hipster clothing scrunched up on the front bench of the antique Milano streetcar.  She had a distant look in her eyes, he thought, a blank helpless Rhesus Monkey kind of look.  The world around her, the poet imagined, had become a cage that blocked her every move, so that she lived in ever-smaller circles of distress and boredom.  He envisioned her numb at work, distracted on the street, bored in the grocery and,  of course, her lonely nights.  When she stood up to get off the train she smiled at him, a friendly unselfconscious smile, then glanced down at the platform carefully.  The door opened, she stepped off, and was gone.  The train pulled away, its bell ringing, and he took out his notebook as he watched her crossing over Market Street.

darkened ships really
passing on the sea unseen
he thinks to espy
she barely notices out
the corner of her eye

this kind of romance
imagines assignations
on the sly, cheaply
arranged.  The fantasy guy
the dreamer up on the roof

she gets off the train
and walks the block to her flat
where she’s living with
a dog and a cockatoo
who stutters and only speaks Greek

 

 

 

Charles D Tarlton is a retired university professor living and writing in Northampton, Massachusetts with his wife Ann Knickerbocker, an abstract painter.

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Ken Cumberlidge

 

 

 

The Answer

Oh, you know me: resourceful type.  I’ll manage.

– my reply
as we sat in a corridor grown too familiar,
waiting for the nurse to call your name.

You understood, as did we both,
the function of the words —

legerdemain, no more,
(the act well-practised now)
to feint, divert and by such palming
draw attention from the squirming gnaw
of it: the fear – insidious, tacit, dark –
we held and hid in kind

and, being my confederate
in this triumph of illusion,
smiled as though you’d never had a doubt.

In truth,
we’d not a clue between us
how I’d make my way

nor did we ever – even in the
dwindling, end-of-season days
when fear and falsehood both
had given way to last-act honesty
and oral morphine taken as required.

Now,
reaching for the calendar
to tear off and discard
a month used up
like every other month
without you,
I know the answer.

Doing fine, thanks.  That’s the way it goes
on the rarer-now-and-few occasions
people think to ask.

They understand – are grateful for –
the function of the words

and, being my confederates
in this triumph of illusion,
smile.

 

 

 

Currently based in Norwich, Birkenhead-born Ken Cumberlidge has been writing and performing his work for 40+ years. Recent work has appeared online (Algebra of Owls / IS&T / The Open Mouse / Picaroon / Spilling Cocoa… / Strange Poetry / Snakeskin).

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