‘On Laundry Day’ by Florence Lenaers

On Laundry Day

on laundry day check the pockets, question
them, make them tell you what they know. (for

the washing machine won’t hear of it.) slip
your hand inside—careful, don’t fall head over

heels. eel-catch-catch a folded candy wrapper;
looks familiar, doesn’t it? like an ear, dried

& pressed in a blank book for hours; looks like
a lonely Sunday morning multiplied by that

failed math test from x years ago. catch a
crumpled receipt—did you really buy that

much reformed ham & happiness from the super-
market with the pretty cashier who smells like

a conspiracy of melons & half-forgotten
Latin declensions? catch by the tail, catch

by the head coins from countries not sung by
the news; countries whose capital, highest

point, most polluted river, most slaughtered
animal you don’t remember from school.

catch sand under your nails; so many grains in
your pocket—in case of insomnia? a heated

argument with the hourglass? you wanted soft-
not hard-boiled eggs. catch a paper clip, so

slightly denatured, see the conformational
change; once a model paper clip, now what? the

outline of an ear maybe. catch a pebble,
a quotation from the precision of a Zen garden;

like a tiny eggplant, white like some, reminding
you why an aubergine is also called an egg-

plant; as smooth as if kissed by the warm-up
of a dancer. catch half a ticket. squint. (for

it has once met the washing machine. or a wave.
heavy rain or heart. a mote of dust in the eye.)

wonder where the other half is. ask another
pocket, but hurry up, there is laundry to do.
 
 
 
Florence Lenaers traps atoms in cages of light & castles of magnetic field lines. Twitter: @flloaers

‘Helgafell’ by Tony Williams

Helgafell

There is a quarry in my heart. The lovely lanes
divide. One humps from Upperwood to Uppertown
and Ember Lane, and Ember Farm (my family’s farm,
which has not been our farm for fifty years).
At Bonsall’s market cross the clot of stone
sends tassels out towards the Barley Mow, the moor,
and down towards the valley’s narrow chute
that lands with laughing splashes at the pond
at Scarthin. There’s a bookshop here,
so it’s safe to leave us,
while we retrace and take the other fork
down by the Wapping and the last few houses,
Christine’s and the Warnes’ and this one on the left
which had an empty pond and concrete turtle,
a totem of the presence on the hill
whose cloak of bramble, altar which we raided,
prevented every ingress. Through the woods –
to skirt with steps like murmurs St John’s Chapel,
Shining Cliff, the Heights of Jacob,
and there, below, the red mill and its chimney
and the path down into Scarthin where the swans
are waiting by the bookshop, and we find
ourselves perusing Local Interest
for a book to help us, but no geology
can name a space from which the stone has gone.
 
 
 
Tony Williams’s most recent book is The Midlands (Nine Arches Press, 2014). He lives and works in Northumberland, where he is currently researching medieval forms of writing. He tweets at @tonywilliams9

‘If you Hear it Thunder don’t run Under a Tree’ by Seraphima Kennedy

If you Hear it Thunder don’t run Under a Tree

It was the sound: those fat gold
drops that fell from heaven. Pennies,
she said, but though her voice was quiet,
the brass held dreams of benjamins, bold

shopping sprees, silk shirts, mink coats
slim fingers stacked with diamonds. You
had to go through showers first, she said,
you had to be brave when it thundered.

Standing in my Sunday best, I listened
as Billie promised me a fortune
to make the pavements shine. I turned
my umbrella upside down, pressed

hand to heart, dreamed of your voice,
your face, my fortune falling all over town.
 
 
 
Seraphima Kennedy is a poet, memoirist, and educator who was once placed under armed guard in western China for her own safety. She completed her MA in poetry at Goldsmiths in 2009, and is now working on her PhD. Born and raised in London, her work often explores conflict, migration, music and family. Seraphima has performed at the Tate Modern, Poetry Café, and Vortex Jazz Club, and has presented work in Canada, Portugal and Sweden. Twitter @seraphimaAM

‘Laminations I’ by Mark Fiddes

Laminations I

Amid the crashing,
you missed next door’s soul
shooting free of rubble
deflected off the skip
with a clunking blue flash
towards Croydon.
Perhaps it meant to go elsewhere.
They stack salvaged bricks
in wobbly columns out back
like a garden in Pompei.
A pyre gyres plastic black
cremating many decades
of botchery by innocents
with hammers and laminates,
as cheap as chipboard.
Into the woebegone lawn
an Armitage Shanks
sinks like a senator’s bust
once roost to a hundred bums,
from old readers of Priestley
to the fire eaters of Nigella.
The new owners look on,
faces sharp as smart phones
planning the basement gym
and a rooftop jacuzzi
for the angels.
 
 
 
Mark Fiddes‘ pamphlet The Chelsea Flower Show Massacre was published in 2015 as winner of Templar Poetry‘s Iota Shots competition. It was shortlisted in the Saboteur Awards and was Lovereading UK‘s poetry book of the month. Mark was a runner-up in the 2015 Bridport Prize and winner of the Dromineer Festival Poetry Prize in Ireland. This autumn, Templar will publish a full collection The Rainbow Factory.

‘Pineapple as a metaphor for life’ by Ben Banyard

Pineapple as a metaphor for life

Yes, it’s still sitting on the window ledge
Gruff, rough, browning leaves.
The Best Before Date was last Thursday.

It knows it’s a project, not a quick job
like cutting your fingernails;
this requires commitment, concentration.

While intact the pineapple mocks me:
we’re locked in a game of chicken
which will end in Tupperware or the pig bin.

This stand-off began the moment
I dropped it into my supermarket trolley.
It’s been building to this rough crux.

I know the knife to do the job.
I’ll grab the crown, throw it on the board,

chop, slice, dice to wonder at last
why there’s so little left to enjoy.
 
 
 
Ben Banyard lives and writes in Portishead. His debut pamphlet, Communing, was published by Indigo Dreams in February 2016 and work has appeared in Prole, The Interpreter’s House and Popshot, among others. Ben edits Clear Poetry, an online journal publishing accessible contemporary writing.

Two poems by Dean Atta

April Evening in Cyprus

Your grandfather draws
your attention to the news;
the story, a black flamingo
has landed on the island.

An expert on screen
explaining it is the opposite
of an albino. Too much
melanin
, he says. Camera pans

the salt lake full of pink
but the eye is drawn
to that one black body
in the flamboyance.
 
 
 
Vegans Inc.
after Brian Waltham

We’re a righteous lot or that’s how we’re perceived. Ringing ahead, asking about ingredients. Not a simple “no thank you” when offered something we cannot eat but a declaration “I am a vegan.” A badge of honour, a t-shirt we wear with pride. We may as well put it on our CV; you can’t work with us without hearing about it. Our grandparents think we are ridiculous and say so. Our friends think we are ridiculous but stay quiet. We do not know how to stay quiet. We believe we are saving the Earth one meal at a time.
 
 
 
Dean Atta‘s debut collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger, published by the Westbourne Press, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. He is currently working on his second poetry collection The Black Flamingo. Twitter @DeanAtta

‘Full Circle’ by Santino Prinzi

Full Circle

I stood and looked through the glass kitchen door panels into the living room, where our cat laid on its side. Vomit and faeces stained the grey carpet, and I cried. My brother cried too, and he was five, so my mother lied and said he’s sleeping. My mother scooped our cat into a black bin bag, and that is where he sleeps. I didn’t see it, but I know it’s true.

We sat around the table in our kitchen, dinner was served; my brother and I were merciless. We would say it stinks like wee, or complain that it’s too gloopy, or that we didn’t know what it was, and my mother would say it’s nice. We would cough and splutter, we would whine that we didn’t want to eat leeks, we pushed our plates away, we spilled the gravy, we dropped the glass and we never washed up. We were always told to eat our crusts too so our hair would grow curly. But I don’t want curly ginger hair, Mum, though I did want to see in the dark.

Despite what I believed growing up, I learnt that I could do no better. I burnt rice to pans, caught the tips of my fingers cutting carrots, was clueless when my dog died, and I rolled my eyes at my mother who, whilst criticising the lumpy cheese sauce, ate the lasagne I cooked for her anyway.
 
 
 
Santino Prinzi is currently an English Literature with Creative Writing student at Bath Spa University and helps with National Flash Fiction Day (UK). He was a recipient of the TSS Young Writers Award for January 2016, and was awarded the 2014/15 Bath Spa University Flash Fiction Prize. His flash fiction and prose poetry has been published, or is forthcoming, in various places including Litro Online, Flash Frontier, Ink Sweat and Tears, CHEAP POP, the 2014 and 2015 National Flash Fiction Day (UK) anthologies, Unbroken Literary Journal, and was selected for The Best of Vine Leaves Journal 2015.

‘Julep’ by Alex Bell

Julep

Today it is too hot to touch a person.

Things prickle. The grass is the fur of a warm-blooded animal.

We walk into a bar and order juleps. It is a drink we associate with spells, with corset-headaches. I then prescribed her an emetic, some opening powders, and a mint julep.

A man is seeing to a sprig of mint. He tears it into the glass and mashes it.

I take my straw to the best part of the julep, where the sugar-grit mixes with the deep glug of bourbon. The mint throbs in it like a sting.

I think that the ice was crushed by hand. Someone has sweated over this ice. Beads formed on the long contours of their arm, built to a trickle, and referenced the water peeling off the frozen blocks.

This arm was also tattooed, with things like anchors and hearts, sure, but also with tigers, chasing the pale blue veins of the inner arm. The bicep was spotted with exotic fruits, and finally, an ice-cream cone.

The ice-cream was a delicious pink, shaded to perfection on the pale arm of the person crushing the ice, whose favourite flavour of ice-cream was in fact pistachio.

If you run your hand over a person, you can feel round the edges of tattoos, which give the skin a smooth, raised surface.

You are saying a thing, as we reach the bottom of our juleps. The bottom is nothing but melting ice.

Behind you, the slack black gums of a dog make the most perverted smile.
 
 
 
Alex Bell lives and works in London. Her poetry has appeared in Magma, The Rialto, The Quietus, The Morning Star, Poetry Wales and Poems in Which. It has also been included in the anthologies, A Tower Miscellany (Tower Poetry, 2010), Homesickness and Exile (The Emma Press, 2014) and Best New British and Irish Poets 2016 (Eyewear, 2016). She was winner of the Lord Alfred Douglas Prize in 2009, and longlisted for the National Poetry Competition in 2015. Twitter @Jonsonian

‘Survivors’ by Charlotte Eichler

Survivors

Our aunts drink tea for hours – they have no mirrors or clocks
but each other’s faces tell the time. We wonder

why their hands shake and rattle the cups in their saucers.
We prowl the flat – the hallway dark with years of coats,

the dining room with carpets on the walls.
Each visit we think something will be different

but there’s always the same red View-Master
with unchanging views of Prague, and no TV.

We draw elaborate tunnels and hold funerals for bees;
the cheese plant grows towards the window as if trying to escape.

Our aunts show us a glass case of curled-up figures
but all we want is the china cockatoo and toy koalas.

Their arms come towards us lined with numbers
and we wriggle away from their touch.
 
(First published in the 2015 Flambard Poetry Prize Anthology)
 
 
 
Charlotte Eichler’s poems have appeared in magazines including Agenda, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Interpreter’s House and The Rialto, and she’s been shortlisted for the Bridport and Flambard Poetry Prizes. She was born in 1982 and lives in West Yorkshire. Twitter: @CLEichler

‘The Iron Children’ by Rachel Plummer

The Iron Children

Along our street the iron children come,
cast and wrought. The road rings like a struck
cymbal below their clanging feet. For luck
we clank our coins into their mouths, all dumb
as metal, hear them rattle down and thrum
the stainless engines deep inside each quick
gullet. They flood the street with blood-smell, thick
as rust; church bell faces. What will become
of the mother carrying her iron child
inside of her, a silver pear to weigh
her down? Pot-bellied, saucepan-bellied. Thirsting
for the iron monger’s ore, her child
hungry. Its metal, melted down, would pay
a heavy debt, or fill a womb to bursting
 
 
 

Rachel Plummer is an Edinburgh based poet. She is co-author of Char, a pamphlet of poems on
the subject of working class women’s history in the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh. She is a
recipient of the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writers Award 2016. You can find her tweeting @smaychel