‘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

‘Willard Wigan’ by Mat Riches

Willard Wigan

His miniature sculptures are like “passing a pin through a bubble without bursting it.” – Willard Wigan & “Ant-eye level art” – Maev Kennedy – Guardian 13.04.00

 
It can be like
balancing
an ocean liner
on a granule of
sugar.

It’s like
passing a pin through a
bubble
without bursting it.
Well yes, and, then again, no.

I want to get to the details;
turn time on a
sixpence
and turn a dropped
eyelash
into the bigger picture, a star
in the centre of a heartbeat.

Hold a mirror to your face;
if it so much as mists you’ve given up too much.
Let the blood not waver my hand,
get quiet enough to hear the brain’s commands
to take the body by the reins and say NOW.

Climb down from your charley horse.
There is no rehearsing this.
The Devil’s in the detail
and in getting him away from me.
 
 
 
Mat Riches lives in Beckenham, Kent, but will always have Norfolk in his heart. He is a father to Florence and a husband to Rachael, and by day he is a mild-mannered researcher in the TV industry. He has previously been published in Snakeskin Press. He is a recent graduate of The Poetry School’s Lyric iPod course. Twitter: @matriches

‘Initiation’ by Niall Firth

Initiation

It’s 5pm and now, yes, the light
is just right to catch the hubcaps,
a shivery ginger glow spreading
across the stubble to strike our Fiat
at a lover’s angle, like it did the Passat
before it, the Saab from ‘98, right back
to that Capri, sitting rakish,
when this field was mantis-green
with barley and we hadn’t decided
what this was all for.

The same rigmarole: the buff,
an off-screen caress, the position just-so,
here in this field outside town,
only the camera, us, and the sky,
changing. The woods are constant
in the upper right quadrant of the frame,
filtering the winter light or the summer
brightness and us, behind the viewfinder,
able to intuit the almost-imperceptibles:

the passenger-side ding,
the scent of Lively Lemon Magic Tree,
the scruffy footprints on the seat-back,
the sweet wrappers in the glove compartment,
the bonnet still warm from the drive over.

 
 
 
Niall Firth is a journalist in London and has been published in The Rialto, Nutshell, Litmus, Ink Sweat and Tears and other places. Twitter: @niallfirth

‘Ogre’s Burrito’ by Jane Burn

Ogre’s Burrito

Parcelled in linen, a crack of smudged eye
opens. Under-sheet in a claustrophobe,
arms pinned, I am an ogre’s burrito.
A salt-sweat salsa of the nights
inappropriate dreaming stains me, soaks
the bedding. Sour. I can smell myself –
I feel basted, the musk of arousal as I split
my welded legs apart. For a while,
through the sleep hours, I was unafraid.
Oh, how you were on me, how I was on you!
Hip grind, deep kiss, wet hot, touch. Lord!
If you could see me now, in all my repulsion!
I did not remove yesterday’s mascara –
flecks on my sockets like new-born flies,
grease and stickum. Today, no manning
the till, no school run. Time to wallow
in slattern filth a while longer, time to tune
to the wants of me. Soon, the scourge
of shower scrub, toothbrush, hairbrush,
scent. I want you on me still, incubus –
not ready to be churched of your raking hands.
Dregs of lip remembered on my skin,
silverskim of lover’s argot sleeping the curls
of my ears. I open my mouth to the spoiled
dairy of waking breath. We were a chimera
through the dark time. Vagary – I stew myself
for a ghost. For the ache of a fool’s paradise,
a sapid drowse to ease the limbo of kitchen
sink, carwash, teacup, name-badge, smile.
I am hoarding you, a swallowed swan,
mute inside the Tabernacle of my chest.
Soon, the fall of dusk – our gullets sing
the sound of feathers. I am not ugly
in the sable of your eyes.
 
 
 
Jane Burn is a North East based writer and illustrator originally from South Yorkshire.
Her poems have been published in magazines such as Butcher’s Dog, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Rialto, Obsessed With Pipework, Loch Raven Review, Black Light Engine Room Literary Magazine, Silver Birch Press, Diamond Twig, Long Poem Magazine, Skylark Review, Iota Poetry, and Poet’s Republic. She was also day five on the New Boots and Pantisocracies project. Her work has also been published in anthologies from Beautiful Dragons, Kind of a Hurricane Press, The Poetry Box, Pankhearst Slim Volumes and The Emma Press.

‘silent summer’ by Robert Harper

silent summer

the door slams shut / she’s gone at last / at last she’s gone /
to school & / summer’s done // summer is done // and
silence falls / it falls on the silence / that was there before //
before she went / before she’d sit / alone she’d sit // in her
room / spend hours / catching +1’s / thumbs up / likes /
[keepsakes] // her silence filled / the house and now / now
she’s gone / the silence louder / louder than it was / and I
can’t wait / can’t wait // for four o’clock / to knock / to
knock the silence / at the door and in // in she’ll come /
and the wrong / kind of silence / will be [gone]

 

Robert Harper’s poetry has been previously published or is forthcoming in journals such as The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Acumen, The Lonely Crowd, Ink Sweat and Tears, New Welsh Reader, and in anthologies such as #2PoetryAnthology (Vanguard Editions), Fathers and What Must Be Said, A New Manchester Alphabet, and An Anthology to Seamus Heaney. He was Highly Commended in the Poetry Book Society Student Poetry Competition 2014 and in the summer of 2016 completes his MA in Creative Writing (Poetry & Pedagogic Studies) at Manchester Metropolitan University. Robert is the founding editor of Bare Fiction Magazine.

 

Two poems by Gill McEvoy

Derek Jarman’s Film “Blue”

His silence now is blue. As if an artist drew
a laden brush of paint from alder buds to reeds
his mind and mouth and tongue are flushed
by blue: the low-slung sky, the feathered seeds,

the brook like navy slate beneath a moon,
the tassels of phalaris plumes fused
with the moody amethyst of alder buds;
blue dancing in the rain-logged field’s flood,

and blue the cold stars whirling in his head.
He knows that in this moment if he speaks
“cyan, cobalt, indigo” will float
like moulted feathers from his throat,

his tongue become the painter’s brush
that coats the world in this deep blue hush.

(previously published in South 47, 2013)

 
 
 
Cat with the Cream

So huge tonight, the moon, so white and tempting:
I will sink a spoon into its bowl of cream,
create a crater no-one’s ever mapped,
then eat it slowly, lick by lick, until it dwindles
to a half, a quarter, crescent, nothing.

I’ll clean my whiskers, score a rough tongue
down my fur, stretch out as far
as a bursting belly will allow,
and snooze through the ensuing fuss.

But I’ll never give it back, oh no,
it was too delicious. In the dark nights
that will come, I’ll dream of it.

(previously published in what used to be Poetry Nottingham)
 
 
 
Gill McEvoy’s recent publication is The First Telling (Happenstance Press) which deals with rape and its aftermath. The pamphlet won the 2015 Michael Marks Award. Two collections form Cinnamon Press: The Plucking Shed, 2010, Rise, 2013. One of 6 featured poets in Caboodle, Prole Books. She lives in Chester where she runs a number of regular poetry events. Gill is a Hawthornden Fellow.

Two poems by Kaddy Benyon

The Blue Hour

This intense, clear pristine blue
that in any other mind could be turquoise,
aqua, a warm clear sea around a Grecian

isle. Here, lodged just under the arctic,
where temperatures quiver
between untouched and ruined,

this particular blue is of loss, absence;
of warped and distorted reflection.
This blue: my unasked for familiar, rises

and swells – thick liquid in a frozen
weather ball, bent on measuring
the blackened seasons. This murderous

blue that unnerves and disturbs, snuffs
out the family on the other side
of the door: their candlelit laughter,

dish-clink and squabbles; the scents
of spiced wine, baking leipäjuusto
and luke-warm cloudberries collapsed

in their golden syrup. My guts growl
like a forest animal; a lone roaming
she-wolf severed from her young, loping

beneath a slice of frost-cut moon. Don’t
let me circle this version of blue,
stray too close to the hunter’s track,

get trapped between brackets of gunshot,
silence. Don’t let me fall in snow-
drifted white, knowing no other colour.
 
 
 
Midnight Trees

I watch you kick off your pumps,
peer inside the havoc of your room

to enjoy you drinking a blue glass
of milk so urgently, noisily, it dribbles

down your neck, makes you sputter.
Later, in the garden, we dress

our midnight trees until snowfall
makes dust of our chattering.

You blink twice, link my arm, whisper
Sauna? I nod and you sprawl

on the wooden ledge beside me,
all barely there breasts, a new dark

between your legs, each pale limb
lengthening, sapling-strong,

to ladder the slatted walls. Your hot
upturned face may be smiling

as I touch your damp hair sticking
to my thigh. Treasured girl;

middle child, how I envy the handfuls
of snow you hurl on the wicked-hot

coals; that flicker of relish in your eyes;
the steam-veil you draw between us.
 
 
 
Kaddy Benyon’s first collection, Milk Fever, was published by Salt in 2012. She was subsequently funded by Arts Council England to write her second collection, Call Her Alaska, written during a residency at The Polar Museum in Cambridge. Kaddy is currently editing Call Her Alaska, which is a contemporary re-imagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen. Many of the poems where written during a research trip to Northern Finland. Twitter @KaddyBenyon

Two poems by Sally Evans

Seeds

I go outside to my hens, while fifty miles away
thin men in Edinburgh are feeding birds.
They are always thin, and the birds crowd round,
starlings, pigeons, spugs, vying for crumbs
of love and humanity, on the bleak squares,
the paving where they are tutted at,
both birds and men, by hurried passers-by.
From the calm, grassy, choice environment
around my flock, I feed those men
with quiet eyes these seeds of words.
 
 
The Sleeping Poet

The poet who went to sleep
dreamed impossible dreams.
The poet who stayed awake
wrote impossible words.

The poet who went to sleep
dealt with the situation.
The poet who stayed awake
wondered what to do.

The poet who went to sleep
kept all his secrets.
The poet who stayed awake
spilt hers on the floor.

The poet who stayed awake
became exhausted.
The poet who went to sleep
saw all the colours of leaves.

The poet who stayed awake
sang such a melody
that like a bird disturbed
the sleeping poet awoke.
 
 
 
Sally Evans lives in Callander, Scotland. Recent books include Bewick Walks to Scotland (2006), The Bees (2008), The Honey Seller (2009), Poetic Adventures in Scotland (2014), The Grecian Urn (2015) and Anderson’s Piano (2016). She also edits the broadsheet Poetry Scotland and the blogzine Keep Poems Alive. Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sallyevanz

‘icarus breathes’ by Reuben Woolley

icarus breathes
 

flight

is explosive

breaking

sound

 

i trim my wings

tight

to this body. take it

 

circling

a world. i’ll skim

waves

& settle

grow fins

a while & fly

with dolphins

 

 

(previously unpublished)

 

 

Reuben Woolley has been published in various magazines including Tears in the Fence, The Lighthouse Literary Journal, The Interpreter’s House, Domestic Cherry, The Stare’s Nest and Ink Sweat and Tears. His collection, the king is dead, was published in 2014 by Oneiros Books and a chapbook, dying notes, with Erbacce Press in 2015. A new collection on the refugee crisis, skins, was published by Hesterglock Press in 2016. @ReubenWoolley