24 rue Carnot
by Martin Malone
This house lolls in a droiling back street.
The army-issue blanket of working week sleep
is rolled aside for a thousand-egg omelette
that duvets dreams of fish and strange meetings.
In this bed I drive to Lagrasse to chat
to a long dead friend in some doorway;
him blue-eyed and smiling, while the mistral
shifts the dust around our cat-shod toes.
The early bell of St. Maurice tickles slumber
in the slow flow of morning hours, teases
my waking with the hyper-real: a stream
of lost lovers sliding gently across my belly.
The velux rasp of rain on a roof window
lowers the room’s lid and drives me back to this:
a child’s rest again, our tangle of limbs,
these dreams and, on a clear night, your star.
Born in 1963 in West Hartlepool, Martin Malone now lives in Warwickshire. A winner of the 2011 Straid Poetry Award and the 2012 Mirehouse Prize , his first full collection – The Waiting Hillside– is published by Templar Poetry. Currently studying for a Ph.D in poetry at Sheffield University, he edits The Interpreter’s House poetry journal
At the Cathedral Bell-Tower, Florence
by William Stephenson
No Entry to Persons with Conditions of the Heart!
Jesus, they mean it – yours kicks like a foetus
as you labour up the staircase,
a dark helix quarried into the granite.
Tunnels narrow to capillaries – daylight’s so distant
it must be fiction. Scusi! Pardon. A school party
shuffles down; Reeboks rasp on stone.
Then a ghost, shawled in hessian, ices your shoulder;
George Eliot, last seen here 1861; still on her leisurely
Grand Tour, busy plotting Romola, she glides
through our backpacks, cameras, I Heart Italy hats.
She fills the tunnel, her crinoline brushing both walls
as she scans each sandal-worn flight like a sentence,
ascending turn by turn into the Renaissance.
You reach the roof together. To you, everyday anarchy
unspools below: tourists whirl in the piazza’s bonfire;
phone-wires thrum as the wind warbles off-key;
whereas Eliot, abstracted,
gazes into a grid as old as print, binds a city-state
between the covers of her memory – a mind-set republic
that scorched heretics but bankrolled the painters of angels.
(published in Obsessed with Pipework and Rain Dancers in the Data Cloud, Templar 2012)
William Stephenson teaches English at the University of Chester.
by Richard Skinner
Birth becomes wrath.
This death by
Malaga at night:
a cluster of wet diamonds
tossed on blue velvet.
Souls take vacation
under the shades of beach trees,
Yet, somewhere, for one,
a postcard arrived too late;
fate won’t take a break.
whenever the wind dies down
we hear the world’s sighs.
Magda Kapa was born in Greece, lives and teaches in Germany, writes in English, and tweets micropoetry as @MagdaKapa, some of it published online in qarrtsiluni.
Samuel Beckett Facing the Sea at Benidorm
by Conor Kelly
to watch a monument in flowered trunks
and franciscan sandals
turn from the lighted town
and look beyond the sun-tanned swimmers
and the wind surfers
and the pleasure boats
and a distant yacht on the far horizon
and to watch that granite face
like an easter island profile
on the threshold of what is nothing
more than the ghost of the sea
receding into the sea
now and then and when
all is engulfed in silence
is to hold your breath
for as long as the dust settles
on the crest of a wave
causing no more of an eddy
than a life any life ebbing away
into an incurious darkness
where no stars shudder
and no voice speaks
the sea too is a graveyard
(beer-cans condoms blood)
and a monument in flowered trunks
a tombstone on which nothing
the eloquence of apnoea
(first published in The Sunday Tribune, Ireland)
Conor Kelly has had poems published in Irish and American magazines. He now lives in rural France.
The Raggedy Bush
by Carole Bromley
Dun Laoghaire. The name sparks to life
the day we disembarked, drove south
to County Wexford, hired bikes, explored
from the lanes of Kilkenny, down to the shores
of New Ross where your ancestors were from.
One set sail for India, married a local woman
and stayed. You wanted me to find
some trace of the family he left behind;
a name on a gravestone, perhaps. I looked
but it was a fool’s errand you took me on.
Might as well look on the raggedy bush
for your grandfather’s sock, make a wish
on a fluttering handkerchief, scarf, glove –
wherever you are, travel safe, my love.
Carole Bromley teaches Creative Writing for York University and writes a poetry blog here
Up St. Agnes Beacon in August
by Sue Dymoke
Up St. Agnes Beacon
we cannot see the sights
but have the best of times imagining
ragged raging coast
mysteries of Bodmin
stretching beyond and beneath
192 metres below.
For all we know the Giant’s wife might still be
collecting rocks in her huge apron
rocks for barrows
rocks to send thudding down the hillside.
She is shrouded in thickening fog
goes about her business uninterrupted.
We can just see the Beacon edge
the path leading back through
thick broom and heather
a blurred, fiery mix of mustard and purple
interspersed with smudged grasses.
The unseen sights add
to the other sights we haven’t seen
through the fine mist on our lenses:
adders basking on the dry heath;
stretches of sand in day-long sun;
families relaxed in the certainty of summer.
Our car is not visible from here
lost below where it is less chilly
where we will not have to fasten kagoules so tightly
where sunglasses just might be needed
by late afternoon.
(from Moon at the Park and Ride, Shoestring Press, 2012)
He parks up like he isn’t going
anywhere, gives a Medusa
glare to the promenade, the offish
B&Bs, the adults at the two-pence
arcades on a Tuesday afternoon.
Stroking his five-decade
beard, he takes out a fountain
pen and swats the carrion
from his letter head.
Dear Sir/Madam, I write to inform
on the current state of Blackpool,
Brighton, Bognor, Bournemouth,
Burnham on Sea.
What a state, what disrepute,
a deplorable dereliction
His wrist moves as though commanded
by the sea. And slowly, he begins to leak:
first his eyes. Then his nose pours,
and his ears. His neck and shoulders gush
like geysers, an ocean erupts
from his trousers. Within seconds
all that’s left is a grey page
and a car, full to the sunroof, of saltwater.
(published in Harbour, Dunbar Wee Festival of Words, 2013)
Russell Jones is an Edinburgh-based writer (The Last Refuge and Spaces of Their Own), editor (Where Rockets Burn Through) and researcher.
The Names of Things Unseen
by Kate Garrett
You discover new spots on our adventures:
Abergele, Deganwy, Prestatyn, Colwyn Bay,
Betws-y-Coed, Llandudno Pier, Conwy Castle.
You and your brothers – pirates and knights –
duelling, peering into dungeons, or racing
to the edge of the jellyfish-dotted sea.
You pack your bag, almost overflowing:
a boomerang, a hacky sack, a water gun
shaped like a shark, an eye-patch and wooden swords,
bunched into place with books, knitting,
paper, pens (for the rainy days),
and a new candle, painted in wax with your name.
Your friends teach you bits of an ancient tongue:
trenau, gwylan, “pen, ysgwyddau, coesau, traed”,*
then you explore my dictionary to find
the names of things unseen, but read, and dreamed –
tylwyth teg, môr-forwyn, coblyn, draig –**
wrap words like cowrie shells to take back home.
*Trains, seagull, “head, shoulders, knees and toes”.
** Fairy, mermaid, goblin, dragon.
Kate Garrett lives in Sheffield. She is a mum of three, and has been published online and in print.
by Ailsa Holland
Can you look after these for the sandcastle?
A twig, six inches long,
four small handfuls of special gritty pebbles,
and seven earnestly chosen cockle shells
lie in the shade of my chair.
I smile, smug, entirely confident
that this is within my power.
These things I can protect.
Thank you for excavating this land
And sculpting turrets with such tenderness.
The moat you dug for us is full of love.
Never mind there is no running water (small giggle).
We adore the shells and seaweed ribbons
You’ve pressed into our walls but
Why are you buckling your jelly sandals
And cheering at that chiming van?
Climb down off your father’s shoulders!
He’s stashed your tools in a carrier bag!
We need a plasterer! Why is your mother
Showering us with breadcrumbs?
Come back! We need a plumber!
Dead crabs are coming in through our windows!
(Dear Housebuilders by Josephine Corcoran was published in Domestic Cherry 3)