Two poems by Emily Blewitt

This Is Not a Rescue

I want to tell you it will not be as you expect. For years you have hammered in stakes, handed men the rope and said consume me with fire. Most have run – one does not burn a witch lightly. This one is water. He’ll unbind you, take your hands in his and say remember how you love the ocean? Come with me. You’ll go to the beach on a cloudy day, watch foam rise from the sea’s churn until sun appears. In turn you’ll say let’s go in and even though he hesitates, this man will kick off his shoes and wade to his shins. Jellyfish, shot with pink like satin dresses, will dance between you, flash iridescent. His body is all whorls and planes like smoothly sanded planks used to make a boat, his ears are pale shells you hear the waves in, he smells of sandalwood and salt, his eyes are ocean. He’ll spot the pebbles that in secret you have sewn into your skirts and give you his penknife to unpick them. You can’t swim with those. He’ll teach you to skim. The pebbles break the surface like question marks. You’ll throw each last one in.
 
 
We Broke Up

Because my cat
screamed her passion on our lawn

Because bears
don’t wet their ears

Because great white sharks
swim solitary lives

Because blue whales’ tongues
lie heavy

Because barnacles
have no true heart

Because elephants
mourn their dead

Because dogs
love unconditionally

Because tortoises
feel their shells being touched

Because rabbits
breed like rabbits

Because fox sex
hurts

Because ducks
are rapists

Because cows
hold grudges

Because roe deer
lower heads in prayer

Because wild boar
are matriarchal

Because domestic rats
live and die in pairs

Because giant pandas
don’t conceive on camera

Because emperor penguins
clutch eggs between their feet

Because honey bees
die when they love

Because crows
mate for life

Because my heart
made the sound an animal makes

Because of crows, the shadows
of crows
 
 
 
Emily Blewitt has published poetry in Poetry Wales, Ambit, Furies, Cheval, and Hinterland, and has work forthcoming in Prole and The Rialto. She won the 2010 Cadaverine/Unity Day Competition, and was Highly Commended in the 2014 Terry Hetherington Award. Emily also participated in the 2015 Enemies/Gelynion project. Her first collection of poetry will be published by Seren in 2017.

Two poems by Rishi Dastidar

 
The anniversary issue

I am forglopned*, struggling to load,
pixelated while walking down Wardour Street.

Greying personalities with media hair
pass me, talking about intertextuality

and Paul Morley, while I pretend
to be Eustace Tilley, the way you do

with the anniversary issue.
The queues queuing to get pancakes.

beseech me instead to contemplate
the fact that DFW would have been 50

today, and that he and I will never
write the Great American Novel,

so my green card will forever be
a redundant bookmark. If only

there was a dummies’ guide to help me,
like the one I am currently following

to write this New York School poem.
I don’t mention any of this to the ex

I meet, merely contenting myself
with the standard envy at the sunny

contentment. I am left to discover
I have missed the LRB with the best verse

ever in it. I settle, to await my move
to an emirate, knowing that resident there

is a metaphor involving a lemon, a butterfly,
a monocle and the rest of my life.

*overwhelmed with astonishment

 

The last neon sign maker in Hong Kong

His hands flutter by the five tongues of flame,
joints articulating at 800 degrees Celsius,
lips blowing commercial wishes down glass tubes,
speaking of honest scripts for certain characters:
light-heads, bending, swirling, inflating.
Thousand layer paper slides in to protect
the messages, before chicken intestines
shake hands with neon breath and iron hearts
for a brighter light: “without displays of prosperity
my city is a ghost town.” If you’re feeling blue
the answer is argon, he says, but best
is daylight red. A door above an air con
unit glows rainbow ready, the past slipping out.
He inhales the town gas one last time.

(Inspired by: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsIo57pH-pA)
 
Rishi Dastidar works as a copywriter in London. A graduate of the Faber Academy and a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, he was a runner-up in the 2011 Cardiff International Poetry Competition, and featured in the 2012 anthologies Lung Jazz (Cinnamon Press/Eyewear Publishing) and Adventures in Form (Penned in the Margins). He is also currently part of The Complete Works II programme.

Keep reading the poems

And Other Poems is taking a break and will be back in 2017. Thank you to everyone who’s sent poems this year and thank you to Rishi Dastidar for being a wonderful co-editor. I post updates on the News page so it’s worth checking in from time to time. You can read all of the hundreds of poems at And Other Poems by exploring the archive or by clicking on Index. Thank you for reading poems.

Best wishes

Josephine

poinsettia-2016

‘Poem for Oscar with Stars in it’ by Kevin Graham

Poem for Oscar with Stars in it

Hoisted in the high chair of my arm – all bum and elbows
and chocolate ice-cream hands – you point a finger up at the fluid
night sky and say star. We’re on the porch of your uncle’s house,
on one of the year’s fledgling days, a couple of briquettes buzzing
nicely in an old barbeque. Leaning forward, you wet your fist
and try to blow them out from ten feet away, as though they were
birthday candles. The fizzing pylon looming overhead won’t stop
falling in my mind into the tender hub of our after-dinner party.
Sparks fly and catch in the fleeting nightmare, then recede.

Out here, in this Finnish-timber retreat, this otherworldly
stillness, we could be anywhere: Donabate, Tromsø, Chiang Mai.
The sea whispers beyond the bushes, dragging its enormous haul
back and forth between our listening ears. The flowing wine
has purpled my teeth and I must appear to you as a zombie,
you who toss your hair back suddenly and spot Jupiter kindling
in its hard-silvered light, make a purring sound and turn
to face me with all the wonder the world hopes you never lose,
and say again – in a voice that leaves before you know it – star.
 
(first published in The Stinging Fly, Summer 2014)
 
 
 
 
Kevin Graham is from Dublin, Ireland. His poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies. He was selected for the 2012 Poetry Ireland Introductions Series and was shortlisted for a 2014 Hennessey Literary Award. He was featured poet in the summer 2014 issue of The Stinging Fly and is currently working towards his first collection. A chapbook Traces has been published by Smithereens Press and is available to download. Twitter @kevcgraham

‘Amy, how to write poems’ by Katherine Stansfield

Amy, how to write poems
for Amy McCauley again

in these times of boxes and unlearnt languages
and cats dreaming twitchyleg distress?

I do what the advice books say and write every day
but lately o lately my poems are just lists for leaving:

buy new cat carriers, microchip the cats,
tell the cats about THE MOVE.

The flats behind ours have been knocked down
yet no one will come for the rubble, the rusty washing

line poles. This could be an analogy for something
significant if I could remember what ‘analogy’

means and you know it’s hard to find anything
close to conceptualisation with all this aching

business of marks on the page – o – and what’s
the sodding point of poems anyway?

The cats wake up and I lie about the future.
They smell deceit, and because I can’t bear

their moans of betrayal I head into town,
into my regrets, where people are chalking

death on the hoardings of the unbuilt Tesco
and the wind wants to drag the best laid plans

out to sea. Plus ça Tuesday. I slalom
scaffolding to find you in the Italian deli

but lack lingo wherewithal to order your latte. Mi
dispiace
! Me, 100% linguistic black hole, and you,

expanding galaxy of words, you who are song,
guess piccolo is probably small – si! Prego. Bingo.

We discuss the Muses who never come round mine.
For all I know they’re in the ruin of the old flats

or haunting the cats’ dreams. For all I know
I know nothing. Not a coffee bean. Nada yada nada.

On the way out we talk cat stress when moving.
The good news is that your cat has recovered

from her trips on the train to Manchester
and when I get home I find half a shrew

on the stairs so I end the day thinking, bach,
things might be OK. In Italian this will be bene.
 
 
 
 

Katherine Stansfield’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New Welsh Review, Poetry Wales, Magma, Planet, The Lonely Crowd, The Lighthouse, Ink Sweat & Tears and The Interpreter’s House, and her poem ‘Canada’ was Poem of the Week in The Guardian online. Her first collection, Playing House, was published by Seren in 2014, and last year she was awarded a writer’s bursary from Literature Wales to complete her second collection. After many years living on the west coast of Wales, which included a stint as a university lecturer, Katherine is currently travelling in North America until she runs out of cash (sadly imminent). Twitter: @K_Stansfield

Séance by Zoe Mitchell

Séance

If anyone here can talk to the dead,
please tell my Dad the news of his daughters
that would bring him the most peace.

Tell him of the dreams we made real,
and the grandchildren who laugh in his image.
Tell him we miss him and we know

he always loved us. List the achievements
he would most want to brag about to whoever
his pals are in the afterlife. Tell him

we’re happy, please – or if you must
catalogue the trials we’ve faced since he left us,
tell him we conquered every one

or tell him that we’re going to
if he doesn’t beat you to it. He always was fast
to find faith in us, I imagine he still is.

You’d better not tell him about all the books
he’s missed out on, or the way the world is going –
anger is bad for his heart and you can’t

be too careful. Who knows if we take
our weaknesses with us when we go? I think so
because in my version of heaven

he’d be wearing his glasses; his face
wouldn’t be his own without those constant frames.
Tell him I know I wasted this page,

I don’t believe anyone talks to the dead,
or at least I don’t believe they can listen. He’s gone.
There are no more updates or back tracks;

I have to lean close to my heart to hear
what his answers might be. He would advise
telling it all to the living, while you can.
 
 
 
Zoe Mitchell is a writer living and working on the South Coast. She has been published in a range of magazines including The Rialto and The London Magazine. Her work also appeared in the Chalk Poets Anthology, a collection inspired by the landscape, history and mythology of the South Downs commissioned by Winchester Poetry Festival 2016, where she also performed her poetry. Twitter: @writingbyzoe

Two poems by Jessica Mookherjee

The Liar

I never believed in Father Christmas
as I crawled out of the chimney, soot-stained,
ingrained dust in the whorls of my skin.

I never feared the dark, crawled under my bed,
talking to dust, moulding it into imaginary friends.
We sang together to the soil.

Suspicious of prayers to invisible gods, I stared
at vicars and asked them who would go to hell,
whether they worshipped thunder.

I found runes in churches and muttered spells
in graveyards, climbed into yew trees,
licking insects from bark.

I saw adults spin, catching flies, never saw bogey-men
lurking in woods or under bridges.
I crawled from moss-damp ponds dripping with slime.

No-one believed me when I told them
where I went at night, under those trees,
inside badger holes, curled up with fox cubs.

Teachers and parents told me to tell the truth,
scrubbed the earth from under my nails with wire,
called me a liar, washed my mouth with soap.

(published in Prole – Autumn 2015)
 
 
 
The Milk

There are no daffodils in Bengal,
so my mother had no idea why I wore one,
it was the ladies that fed me welsh cakes
who told me why
I wore a black hat on
St David’s Day.
Dewi Sant, I wasn’t sure
who he was, but
I thought I heard him in the
waves off the Mumbles head.

I had no grandmothers here,
just the mamgus on the bus.
Those crinkled Bridget’s were my wet-nurses,
feeding me chewing gum, peppermints and
their native tongue.

Those old ladies fed me stories
of frost covered forests
and Bendigeidfran.
They were my milk.
It’s comin’ in, see
they said – with an eye on the wind,
come pray with us…
I went to their chapel, where the wood is worshiped
and where they had me believe
that the desert Bible lands were in the mountains
of North Wales.
 
(published in Tears in the Fence, 2016)
 
 
 
Jessica Mookherjee is a poet with Bengali heritage, who grew up in Swansea and now lives in Kent. She has a background in Biological Anthropology and works in Public Health. She has had poetry recently published in Under the Radar, Tears in the Fence, The High Windows, South, The Interpreter’s House, Prole among many others. She has been selected to be in the Templar anthology 2016 and Eyewear’s Anthology of Best New British and Irish Poets 2017. Her pamphlet The Swell is published by Telltale Press. Twitter @jessmkrjy

‘Hazel’ by Aled Thomas

Hazel

Swedish and new and steel
it would take his thumb as keenly
and cleanly as the shoots off
the hazel canes he’s shaving and
stacking against the wall.

The wound would be the same, for a bit –
the colour of cream and smooth as an ice cube
on a zinc bar.

The other wood – that stuff that comes on a truck –
has been transformed from a pile,
where it was drinking up the rain
and serried for the winter.
Two ranks, where it exhales the scent
of the forest, and he steps out every hour,
bends to it and breathes deep.

The sun has some real heat now
and he’s having to squint
trying to follow a fat tadpole,
its frogness bulging at its skin.

As the pigeons call like field hands
and a robin marks his patch like a drunk
offering to fight the whole pub,
he can hear his own blood in his ears,
and doesn’t know if that should worry him.
 
 
 
 
Aled Thomas lives in Gloucestershire, where he works as a journalist. He is a graduate of the Guardian/UEA writing masterclasses. He has performed at the Wychwood Festival, Cheltenham Poetry Festival and the Winchcombe Festival of Music and Arts. He is currently working on his first pamphlet with Frosted Fire Press. He blogs (occasionally) at aledthomas-writing.blogspot.co.uk and is on Twitter more frequently at @AledThomas99

‘Rose Petal Jelly’ by Angela Readman

Rose Petal Jelly

The apples drip slow as September
dabbing sun to the rain, juice
slips over the glazed lip of a jug.

Outside, a resilience of roses hold
in the wind. We feel petals open, jagged
caruncles in the corners of our eyes.

One nod and I shin a fence, grab
a second flush in blushing fists.
Mother snips off the bitter white tips

and grins. Some women don’t deserve
roses, or know how to use them, she says.

The kitchen smells like a honeymoon.
Only love letters open as slowly
as she lifts the lid, nosing in at the roses

someone’s wife didn’t pick, all ours,
donating their rubies to our pan.
She holds a sunset, lets it fall

through her sieve. Briefly, the windows
fill with a rosetint. Our used jars
become churches we smash with a spoon.

Caruncle: the red prominence in the inner corner of the eye.
 
 
(from The Book of Tides, Nine Arches Press, 2016)
 
 
 
 
Angela Readman’s poetry has won The Mslexia Poetry Competition, The Essex Poetry Prize, and The Charles Causley Poetry Competition. Her work has been widely published in various journals including Ambit, The Rialto, Magma, Popshot, Bare Fiction, and Envoi. She also writes stories, her story book Don’t Try This at Home (2015) was shortlisted in The Edgehill Prize. Her latest poetry collection, The Book of Tides was published by Nine Arches in November 2016. Twitter @angelreadman

‘Ode to a Flat Earth’ by NJ Hynes

 

I’m bored by infinity. I want to sail a long time,
paint my gums with lemon, sharpen my teeth on hard tack,

slip over salted sheets of water, slide across mats of emerald algae,
reach the edge of the earth’s table top and stop  –  to admire

the thousand pounding waterfalls and the mouldy line of dragons
employed as bouncers on the world’s rim, their steaming breath

pushing day-trippers and pilgrims away from the glistening edge,
its long black drop hidden until the moment when, chasing a child

or a photograph, someone slides past the security rail of scales
and slips off –  then, as clouds scatter and dragons twitch  

their heavy tails, I might see the finite edge of things,
a life held to a world that refuses to curve.
 
(previously published in The Department of Emotional Projections, 2014)
 
 

NJ Hynes is poet in residence at Greenwich Rail Station. She finished an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths with distinction in 2010, and her first collection, The Department of Emotional Projections, was published by Live Canon in 2014, having won their inaugural first collection prize.  Her poems have appeared in Mslexia, Magma, Popshot and Brittle Star and are featured in a video by Southeastern

Two poems by Tess Barry

White Girl’s Sonnet for Barack Obama

I come from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from Donegal, from Croatia,
from Mont Saint Michel, from Troy Hill, from a long line of immigrants,
from steel mills, racists and bigots, from the city of bridges, the Mon

and Yough rivers, from egalitarian blowhards, from an infant left
in a basket in Dubrovnik/from the note attached to her blanket:
we are opera singers and can’t care for her. I come from a century’s arias,

from untraceable orphans, from Robert E. Lee and Honest Abe Lincoln,
from American might and wrong-headedness, from white Catholic
churches and mostly white neighborhoods, from the canonized privilege

of dialect, from the syntax of Caucasian ignorance−and like a vine I can
never eradicate it creeps in-between slats, cracks my pavement, pull it up
by its roots with both hands, turn away, and it creeps rifely back.

On Election Day 2008 I worked the polls, signed an affidavit for a ninety-
two year-old white woman−she was blind, you see. I had to enter
the election box to witness as she cast maybe her last vote for democracy.

(previously published in Mudfish, Vol. 19, 2016)

 
 
 
Finding My Bearings in Picasso’s Blue Period

When I am sad I return to your Blue Period
and rest there. I read and walk

on blue sand, swim in melancholy, drown
my longings in brushwork

and white caps, press myself between your
Poor People on the Seashore.

I turn to your mother
first, her arms crossed and head down,

wrapped in the cape of herself,
unified in blue monochrome.

I give her some bread,
which she takes never looking

into my eyes. She doesn’t acknowledge me, doesn’t
even acknowledge

your abrupt and smooth sea. I turn to your father,
hold his elbows, offer him shelter.

Back to the shore, he faces her, faces emptiness,
faces me too, but our eyes

never meet. Their young son faces them both,
a force and a presence,

one hand rests on his father’s dark thigh,
another floats free,

grasps my offering. Arm-in-arm we turn
toward your blued sea,

find our bearings in the thick even strokes,
in your constancy.
 
(previously published in Aesthetica, 2014)
 
 
 
 
Tess Barry was shortlisted for the 2015 Manchester Poetry Prize (UK). Twice a finalist for North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize and Aesthetica Magazine’s (UK) Poetry Award, she was also shortlisted for the 2014 Bridport Poetry Prize (UK). Most recently her poems appeared or are forthcoming in Mudfish Vol.19, Cordite Poetry Review (Australia), The Woven Tale Press Arts and Literary Magazine (UK), and online at Manchester Writing School’s (UK) website. Her most recent prose is available online at North American Review’s blog, where she has been a featured blogger. Barry is a Fellow of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project and Mentor/Editor for Carlow University’s Madwomen in the Attic writing workshops. She teaches English, literature, and creative writing at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Twitter @tessbarry88

‘The Counterplayer Gazes In and Lives to Play the Tale’ by Dzifa Benson

  1. What is the meaning of Legba’s red baritone saxophone in the Five Spot Café at midnight?
  1. On the cliff face of this wet indigo, he is the man who tied water.
  1. A trumpet sounds: the prince is in a hurry to dance in the street.
  1. Sometimes it sounds like the boom of the earth stretching and yawning. Sometimes it’s as erudite as a tabla. Most times it’s as though he’s about to regurgitate a star.
  1. What kind of food is a song?
  1. He’ll see you in that space between finger pluck and the decay of sound.
  1. With spoilt embouchure I carry the sputtering smoulder of a blue note in my tympanum.
  1. The priest tells you these palm oil plantations have been a 1000 years in the making.
  1. He spits stories of the Mami Wata, Siren of Keta Lagoon, coils of serpents around her neck.
  1. I’ll tell you of the shade of Iroko and girth of Baobab, of a bracelet made of an elephant’s tusk, of cotton in my ears and blood gurgling in my throat.
  1. Kokuvi, the musician, has covered his eyes with his hands and is using his jaw to see.
  1. When I die
    Turn no corner
    Bend no curve
    Take me straight to Agorko

 

(Previously published in the anthology Double Bill, Red Squirrel Press, 2014)

 

 

Dzifa Benson has performed her prose and poetry nationally and internationally at venues such as the Southbank Centre, Glastonbury Festival, the Houses of Parliament and on tour with the British Council in South Africa. Her writing has been widely published in anthologies, newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, Poetry Review, Magma, the Manhattan Review and Philosophy Now@DzifaBenson