Paul Stephenson

 

 

January

January’s a recent graduate: cheap suit,
polyester or nylon, some shiny fabric.
New to the team. Golden handshake.
Keen to get it’s teeth into something.
Loads of ideas how to improve things,
make the place run more smoothly.
Has an eye on margins, cutting costs,
talks up efficiency gains, performance.
But its gung-ho attitude won’t wash –
they’ll have none of it. Oh, bugger off!

Prepped, it frisbees suggestions across
the meeting room, oozes business gurus
and management philosophy. It’s big
on case studies, the latest TED talk but
stinks of shaving gel, too much roll-on.
They roll their eyes as it goes to speak.
When it has fucked up, been bollocked
by the boss, and they’ve all watched
through the glass, some coax it out for
a pint, get it pissed, deal with it properly.

 

 

 

 

Paul Stephenson has published three pamphlets: Those People (Smith/Doorstop, 2015), The Days that Followed Paris (HappenStance, 2016) and Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press, 2017). He co-curated Poetry in Aldeburgh in 2018-19 and interviews poets at paulstep.com.

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Antony Owen on Holocaust Memorial Day

 

 

 

Song for a yellow star belt

In the square
they are beating men to classical music
last year they danced in this spot, the same children watched.

In the square
a local orchestra kneels before its composer
he is made to throttle the defiant celloist with piano strings.

All things pass,
ignore the old shoemaker covering the breasts of his dead wife,
in five years, he will watch from the patisserie as kids chalk hopscotch.

All things pass,
like the twitching general damned by the sleight seamstress.
He thought she closed her eyes but she snared him in a blink shot.

In the orchestra,
a solitary flutist set free an excerpt of the murdered crescendo.
I swear a whole crowd gathered in the square to hear it soar like black fireworks.

 

 

With five collections of poetry focusing on conflict Antony Owen is a well respected writer known for investigative poetry which took him to Hiroshima in 2015 to interview atomic bomb survivors. His subsequent collection, The Nagasaki Elder (V.Press) was shortlisted for a Ted Hughes Award in 2017.  This poem is taken from his sixth collection The Unknown Civilian which has just been published by KFS.

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Gareth Writer-Davies

 

 

 

It’s the way the garden clouds over of a sudden

clouds
returning
confuse the situation

picking petals off the roses
breezing
turning a sunny day mute

as birds get sleepy
fade
from thinking

slim
like a silver birch sapling
thin    light

of petunias (a sofa of petunias)
shadows
swarming    buzzz louder & louder

above the altostratus
Gods
play with compass    & paper

naked
muscular & bearded
statuary

here comes the sun again
like an apple
cider

I forget
TIME! shouts the clergyman
it’s the way
the garden clouds over (without one knowing)

 

 

Gareth Writer-Davies is from Brecon, Wales. Shortlisted Bridport Prize (2014 and 2017) Commended Prole Laureate Competition (2015) Prole Laureate for 2017. Commended Welsh Poetry Competition (2015) Highly Commended in 2017 . Pamphlets Bodies (2015)  Cry Baby (2017)  Indigo Dreams. Collection The Lover’s Pinch ( 2018) and pamphlet The End (2019) Arenig Press

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Roddy Williams

 

 

 

Excerpt from a free Amazon murder mystery

Her violet eyes flashed
like shocked blown bulbs
as the truth hit her like an intangible sock.
The dinnerplate of her delusions had been shattered
by the weight of a big helping of realisation.

How could Mrs Armitage
the elderly and housebound woman whom she trusted
with her very life
despite only having met her three weeks ago
through Hugo
have lied?
She could walk without her wheelchair
and therefore could have taken
Bonzo
her noisy Jack Russell
for a walk
which is why he never raised the alarm
on the night of the murder.

But should she tell Hugo?
Oh Hugo, she mouthed
like a silent fish.

Her immaculate white fingers
whitened even more
in the light of the lambent moon
to match
the crisp shining sheets she clutched
in her horror filled realisation
and her horrified hands.

She was in two minds
on the horns of a murderous dilemma.

On the one hand
in the first mind and the right horn
Hugo was her half brother
and intimately acquainted
as she knew
with Bonzo, the dog
but on the other hand
(second mind, left horn)
she still held those terrible suspicions
after the business
with the George Forman grill.

What was she to do?

It was a quandary.

 

 

Roddy Williams is a Welsh artist, writer and photographer, based in London. He has recently seen publication with Envoi, Stand, Obsessed with Pipework, and the Great Weather for Media anthology, The Other Side of Violet, published in the US. Website: https://roddywilliamsblog.wordpress.com/

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Robert Garnham

 

 

 

Even better than the real thing

You invited me to your flat. You looked ever so pleased with yourself. Your flat was a part of an older building near the park which had a beautiful lake in the middle of it, you wouldn’t think that we were in the middle of Berlin, were if not for the low aircraft every few seconds coming in to land at the airport. Your flat had high ceilings and very tall windows, and it always felt cold, even in the middle of summer. So it was autumn now and it felt freezing cold.

‘Come and have a look at this’, you said.

The ground floor of your building was an Italian restaurant. The door to the restaurant and the stairwell were both behind an iron gate which you held open for me. You seemed very excited as you led me up the concrete stairs to the first landing, and then up the narrow second set of stairs, which were wooden and unvarnished. This building must have been here during the Nazi years, and I’d always meant to ask you whether this neighbourhood had been a part of East or West Berlin.

A late autumn low sun was shining through the tall windows when you opened the door to your studio flat, and it mins of added a yellow tinge to everything, and deep shadows, an outline of the window frame. The bare wood floor was splashed and sprinkled with multicoloured drops of oil paint where you had been working, and there were various canvases leaning against the walls, some of them three or four abreast. You also had a bed, and a sink, and a cooker. A free-standing radiator on a long lead and wheels, also covered in paint. You told me once that when it feels really cold, you paint with the radiator between your legs to keep you warm. Wind rattles through the old window panes.

‘This is what I’ve been working on’.

In the middle of the room there’s a canvas on an easel covered in a large sheet. Very proudly, but also very slowly, you peel off the sheet to reveal something very familiar indeed.
‘It’s the Haywain’, I point out,

‘Yes. Constable’s Haywain. Well, to be more specific, my own version of if. It’s my Haywain. What do you think?’

‘But . . ‘, I asked, stammering, ‘w-why?’

You look at me very seriously for a few seconds.

‘Why not?’

It’s a very good copy, I give you that. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that this was the original. And it was certainly a surprise to see it here, in the middle of Berlin.

‘You’ve put a lot of work in to this’, I point out. ‘But . . It already exists’.

‘I know’, you reply. ‘And now it exists again’.

‘I don’t understand . .’.

‘I got the idea last year, if you remember. We went to that small Irish bar, and they had a cover band in there, doing U2 songs, remember? U2.1, I think they were called. And remember how I said at the time that it must be really good to experience the feeling of recreating something so timeless? Remember that? And you know, I’ve always been a big fan of Constable . . ‘.

‘It’s a forgery!’

‘It’s a homage’.

‘I don’t know what to say’.

‘You don’t like it, do you?”

‘I never liked the original’.

‘You know what? I think we’d better end it’.

‘End what?’

‘Our relationship. What do you say? We’re over. We’re through’.

‘But . .’.

‘I think you’d better leave’.

Your flat always belt cold. I hadn’t even taken my coat off. The long shadows seemed to hint at some contrast between right and wrong.

‘But’, I whisper to you, ‘We’re  not seeing each other’.

‘It felt like it, though’, you whisper. ‘And really, isn’t that the most important thing?’

An aircraft flies over, very low. And as I make my way to your door, I start to understand where you were coming from.
 

 

Robert Garnham is a comedy performance poet and writer based in Devon. He is active all over the UK. His website is https://robertdgarnham.wordpress.com/

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Paul Attwell

 

 

 

Chablis in Pyjamas

Order placed, we counted from four weeks ‘til
the eve before. Excited, we planned our
seven-day lay in. Then it came. Memory
foam and micro pockets plus the base. Bliss!
We dressed it in white Egyptian cotton
And placed padded clouds at its head.
Then drank Chablis in our pyjamas.

 

 

Paul Attwell lives in Richmond, London, with his partner Alis, and Pudsey and Tequila the cats. Paul’s experiences of depression and ADHD help shape his work and his collection pamphlet, Blade is now available from Wrong Rooster Publishing at https://www.wrongroosterpublishing.com/

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