Sue Hubbard

 

 

 

1955, perhaps?

Late winter afternoon. A London Park.
The distant trees ghostly on the far
bank of the bleak lake.
Four and seven, say, in camel coats
with beaver collars, feeding the ducks.
I am holding a bag of bread
standing beside my sister
as we stare ahead in the line of duty
with nothing between us except
a strip of grey water
and a single moorhen sailing blithely by.
Above rain clouds gather
as the last few birds dart for shelter
before the sky splits open.

 

 

 

Sue Hubbard is an award-winning poet, novelist and art critic. She has published 3 collections of poetry, two novels and a book of short stories. As the Poetry Society’s Public Art Poet she was responsible for London’s largest public art poem at Waterloo.  A novel is due from Cinnamon this autumn.

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Tim Love

 

 

 

Party

He slips into the house, puts his pack of beer on the kitchen table, takes a can and
walks from room to room, staying a while in the back room.  The IKEA
furniture’s pushed against the walls exposing a floor of wooden panels.
He returns to the kitchen.
There are bowls of crisps on the work surfaces. He takes a handful with him into the
back room where the music is loudest. He sits on the settee for a while, then on the
floor in the corner. He looks around. There is an illuminated fishtank, a piece of wood
cellotaped over the top. He notices that each electric socket has an
energy-meter.

He goes to the kitchen.  He notices that each electric socket has an energy-meter
there too. He gets one of his cans, takes two big swigs and then carefully tops it up with wine, carries it to the front room. He stands, sipping occasionally, then sits on
the floor in the corner for a while. He stands in the hall,
goes up two steps, looks back at the front door. He concentrates on his bladder.
He goes up three more steps. A window’s beside him. He sees a delivery van down
the road, a man carrying box after box of groceries into a house. He sees the
little shops opposite. Many have objects hung over their doors – the shoe-shop
has a big boot; another has a something like a gramophone horn. Two more steps. He’s on
the landing now. The bedroom doors are all closed. One has a Mondrian hung upside down.
One is padlocked. He waits outside the toilet door, studies the cracking paint,
the slight warping. He goes in, locks the door, only just undoes his flies in time.
Such relief. He lets everything go. His head spins. He’s so drunk. There are thick rugs,
shelves of exotically favoured products, toothbrushes. Noticing a full-length
mirror he’s reminded of a science program from the night before, where it
said that you can’t see your eyes move in a mirror because your sight blanks
out. He wondered how many hours a day his eyes were in motion.

He suddenly turns, looks at the door, rushes back to the kitchen where lights are on, away from the music he so hates.
The crisps are mixed up. He doesn’t like Salt and Vinegar. Above the big table two pieces
of paper have been blutacked to the wall. One has column headings Name and Time, the other
says that the world record for eating 100 sultanas one at a time is 44.65 seconds. On the
table is a pencil, a basin of sultanas, some cocktail sticks, and a kitchen timer.

He looks to the doorway. He laughs. He tries the front room again,
sits on a chair, sits on the floor in the corner for a long time. He hears a
glass break. It was perched on a chair arm beside him. His eyes drift to the bookcase.
“For Whom the Bell Tolls” is in amongst the Bs. He wants to move it. He know he
shouldn’t. He goes into the kitchen, gets a can of his favourite beer, the beer
he’d brought. He takes it to the utility room. It’s dark. When his eyes adjust he sees
a candle in the middle of the floor. He sits cross-legged, concentrates on
the flame. The rest of the room goes blacker. He feels dizzy. He returns to kitchen,
thinks about going home, opens one of his cans, goes to the back room to listen to
music that he doesn’t like, that he’s never liked. There’s a smell that wasn’t there
before. He waits in the hall, looks up the staircase then darts out of the front door.

 

 

 

 

Tim Love’s publications are a poetry pamphlet Moving Parts (HappenStance, 2010) and a story collection By all means (Nine Arches Press, 2012). He lives in Cambridge, UK. He blogs at http://litrefs.blogspot.com/

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J. Bradley

 

 

The Ribcage Is Asked By Its Latest Lover How It Gets Around

You try your best to remain upright when in a new bedroom,
but it slows you down. Your latest lover gives you permission
to be yourself, so you skitter instead of hop, your tips click
and clack on his hardwood floor. When you and him finish,
he falls asleep and you watch the nightmare gnarl his smile.
Your latest lover wakes up an hour later and you ask him
what he was dreaming and he says giving birth
to skeletal wolves. He describes how they escaped:
chewing him from the inside, the cubs feeding from

the gore of what’s left; you know he’ll never call again.

 

 

 

J. Bradley is the author of The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective (Pelekinesis, 2016) and the Yelp review prose poem collection Pick How You Revise A Memory (Robocup Press, 2016). He lives at jbradleywrites.com.

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Richard James

 

 
The Chain Game

You play the chain game! But will it protect you against rust?
The indicators on the side indicate your time is crunching into
a vile twist, so no. Little else is going on where the axle meets
the gentle slope of her neck. Still the water runs off its back,
every day meaning rust is perpetual. There, did you see it slip?
Feed it through the mechanism. There, it slipped again. Fixation
is the special game of attention and I’m losing it badly. Still,
still. That’s the white spirit coming out again, stinking up the
garden. Other neighbours poke their nobbly heads over low
walls, squatting to look down on me. All that I can do (there’s
another slip) is to wave coyly at the panoramic gaze. If a few heads
can solve a problem like the stench of chemical, threat to the first
and only day of Summer (eh?) then the collective ought to make the
chain work. Still, it leaks flakes rubbing against the cog. My hands
have stains because (who knew) but it’s wet metal. Finding it hard to
concentrate and there, I slipped again. My audience are whispering
between themselves. Where I laughed up confidence, the false butterfly
caught in my throat. They were snooty, now they’re Eidolons of Judgement
and that was the fatal slip. They cackle waves of physical shock on the
lone boy and the bicycle. The amber links tore my palm across,
and I flashed a thought (brazenly) of The Baptism. That was wrong,
the true fact of the situation was a death trap coated in blood.
I scrabble backward on my knees and lock her out there.

Richard James is an unpublished poet from near Colchester, currently not working in a literary occupation. He has been reading poetry since college, and has been writing poetry for five years. He enjoys experimenting with as wide a variety of forms as possible.

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Diane Mulholland

 

 
Self Portrait With Spiders

I stand still and let the spiders
spin their webs in all directions.

Each curve and angle of my body
is an anchor point. Each scar,

each detail of my history shapes
their work. They sense my breathing,

throw their threads into the eddies,
and catch them on the other side.

The spiders move like smoke.
They whisper over bare skin,

stepping lightly, trailing silk
that fills the room around my frame.

When they’re done, I step out
of the space they’ve made,
let it fill with light.

 

 

 

 

Born in Australia, Diane Mulholland now lives in London where she can often be found beside the Thames. Her poems have appeared in journals including Brittle Star, South Bank Poetry, and Ink Sweat and Tears. Find her on twitter @dianemulholland.

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Sally Festing

 

 

Their Prints

Moths, ghosts, this house is full of them,
we live with waves of silence but their life
roars enormous through our rooms –
hung on walls, stuffed in bookcases, leaking
from wounded suitcases tied with string.
So easy for them to get lost.

They inhabit a world I see from a distance
but can’t yet join. I might press some digit to connect
or perhaps thread words to tumble them back,
all talking, arguing. It rained last night,
and the dead came down with the drops
to meet at a terminal where the land
is flat and windblown (it really belongs
to the birds). The quiet stores their smiles.

 

 

 

Sally Festing is part of 4×4, a group adding music and visuals to their Aldebrugh event on 3 November, 4.15-5.15pm. Doors Opening and Font were published last year. www.sallyfesting.info and www.saltmarshpoetry.co.uk

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