‘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.

‘The Dark Smoothness of an Old Revolver’ by Catherine Edmunds

The Dark Smoothness of an Old Revolver

Oh, those Audrey Hepburn sunglasses! A man
should get drunk now and then out of principle,
like those of us here, defeated by life, scorned
by the Trouville set. I’m sorry, I seem to have
momentarily mislaid my muse, and am therefore
inclined towards a certain delicious depravity.

It is a little dear here, but the climate is impeccable.

 

(previously unpublished)

 

 

Catherine Edmunds was educated at Dartington College of Arts, and Goldsmith’s College, London. Her first poetry collection and three novels were published by Circaidy Gregory Press. Her most recent full length work is My Hidden Mother, the biography of a holocaust-survivor. Catherine has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and three times shortlisted in the Bridport Prize. Her writing has appeared in the Frogmore Papers, The Binnacle, Butcher’s Dog, and many other literary journals. Twitter: @cathyedmunds

Two poems by Laura McKee

rain

 

cows do have best friends
and become stressed
if they are separated
how do they know
who their friends are really
or if it’s going to rain
but still they lie waiting
bent at the knees

 

(First published in Obsessed With Pipework, November 2014)

 

 

the sweat bee

 

he had this craving
never wanted
to hurt you

only to lie
against your warm skin
collect pieces of you that shine

 

(previously unpublished)

 

 

Laura McKee’s poems have appeared in various journals including Other Poetry, Prole, Ink Sweat & Tears, Morphrog, Obsessed With Pipework, Butcher’s Dog, and The Journal. Last year she was a winner in the Guernsey International Poetry Competition, nominated for Best Single Poem in the Forward Prizes, and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. This year she has a poem in the anthology, Mildly Erotic Verse (Emma Press). Twitter: @Estlinin

 

Two poems by Louisa Adjoa Parker

Yellow Sheets

Afterwards, I swaddle you in plastic sheets;
yellow and crumpled as an old raincoat,
they will protect you from the rain. Today

is the first and last day. I will not look
at your face, tiny and still-pink,
I know it will accuse me. But I see

your little fingers, cold and stiff as icicles
in the morning air. It’s better this way.
I place the only things I have to hand

in with you, to help you on your way;
my favourite shorts, hewn from faded jeans,
the hem trailing white cotton strings

like mucous. The shorts he ripped
from me. The pink bag I always wore
on my back – I give these to you.

You are light in my hand in the bag
as I walk, sore and torn and bleeding,
deciding. I want someone to find you.

You weigh less than a bag of shopping,
as I lift you into the bin, leave you
suspended in a clear, plastic womb.
 
(Short-listed by the Bridport Prize, unpublished)
 
 
Forest-child

That night we made you
in the forest,
lying in the orange two-man tent
in the middle of tall trees
dark like patterned cloth.

I woke next morning
listening to woodpigeons
rolling the sounds of summer
like toffees in their throats.
(The first time I ever really heard
the rhythm of their coos).

                I dreamed you into being –
a child-shaped star falling
through the forest sky, lighting it with hope
like a Catherine wheel;
finding me, finding your home in me.
 
(From Salt-Sweat and Tears) 
 
 
 
Louisa Adjoa Parker is of White English and Ghanaian heritage, and has lived in rural parts of the West Country for most of her life. Her first poetry collection Salt-Sweat and Tears was published in 2007 by Cinnamon Press. Her poetry pamphlet Blinking in the Light, has recently been published, also by Cinnamon. Louisa’s poetry and prose has been published in a range of anthologies, journals and online, which includes Envoi, Wasafiri, Coffee-House Poetry, Ouroboros, Ink Sweat and Tears, PennyShorts, Toasted Cheese, Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe) and Closure (Peepal Tree Press). Louisa has been highly commended by the Forward Prize and short-listed by the Bridport Prize. As well as fiction and poetry, Louisa has also written several books and exhibitions exploring the presence of BAME people in Dorset. She is currently working on two novels, one of which was long-listed by the Mslexia Novel Competition. Twitter @LouisaAdjoa

Two poems by Amali Rodrigo

 
GaZeBo

Muggy afternoon in class, a word,
an inky beetle that scuttles across my open book.
I come to with a slap across the page.

The teacher squints at it, sari bristling,
then sends me out of class, to the principal
for doodling dirty words in geography.

Booby-trapped, it rolls off my tongue
in triple beat; Ga Ze Bo.

It’s the Ze that did it,
I’m sure of it, like a high wall you could never
see over, the absence
in the alphabet of a mother tongue.

Ga, is a shape shifter, water’s scallop
in a river or ringed in a bowl, slipping
easily from tongue to tongue.

Bo, spot-lit, is a sepoy,
eclipsed in English by a holy tree,
the tree of wisdom, the tree of death* .

Bo is a stone temple-step with the dip
worn away by generations. Bo is in the eyes
of the beggar who goes from door to door
at full moon certain of not being turned away.

In the playground girls gang, chanting
Kaduwa Kaduwa for days until
someone else slips up.

GaZeBo forever yoked, is a house that isn’t
a home. Airy, trellised as a lie
you see through and through and through.
 
*In 1985, 146 pilgrims and monks were shot dead while praying at the sacred Bo tree at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.
Kaduwa – literally, ‘sword’ – is a taunt used when someone is thought to ‘show off’ their proficiency in English.
 
(from Poetry London, Autumn 2011)
 
 
Okapi

They said we’ll never find them,
capricious as hearsay

or dream creatures moving through
the forest like faint recollections,

a puzzle of pelt and form as if a child’s
hand had a part in it, the myth

more perfect than a long low note
of an oboe or the russet of marrow

caved in bone, makes it necessary
to strike out on narrow trails

perpetually circling back or leading
to cliffs where tracks fade

on the brink of space. The Okapi
disappears the way wind moves

leaving no vacancy, the stilling leaves,
coffers of light we can do nothing

with, that we grow into the listening
stance of a tree, and it finds us out

shoring up against a loss
that isn’t there.

(from Magma 53)
 
 
Amali Rodrigo holds a BA is Econometrics and is currently studying for an MA in Poetry at Lancaster University. Her poems have appeared in Magma, Poetry London and PN Review. In competitions she’s won 1st prize in Magma, 2nd in Poetry London, was shortlisted for the Wasafiri Prize in 2012 and has been commended in Café Writers and Bridport prizes.

‘The Nudist Beach’ by Dorothy Lehane

The Nudist Beach

What we musn’t ignore, says Dad,
are the difficulties and responsibilities
of the Penis. We mustn’t ignore that.

Mum looks up from the Catholic Times,

tuts, goes back. I look out toward France;
the hazy line of sailing boats,
stocky, athletic calves dividing
the horizon. The old men want me

to see them, hiding behind rocks,
grabbing themselves whilst no-one
else is watching; pot-bellied nudes
in socks and sandals, tongues out.
 
(from The Rialto 71)
 
 
Dorothy Lehane teaches Creative Writing at Kent University. She received first prize for the Norwich Writers’ Circle 2012 Competition, was short-listed for the 2010 and 2012 Bridport Poetry Prize and was awarded Canterbury Poet of the Year in 2009.

‘Honeymoon’ by Josephine Corcoran

Honeymoon

I wouldn’t call it a honeymoon,
those muffled nights in mothballed rooms.
With cake in the boot we pilgrimmed north,
taking a young marriage to old widows,

my father’s brothers dead,
their crucifixes still hanging.
In each house we were given the double bed,
my aunties inviting us to fornicate

on concave mattresses containing dead men’s
seed. Had we come one week before,
you would have been given nothing
but dusty blankets on a downstairs floor,

and I would have sunk, alone and deep,
into the mildewed sponge of a cousin’s bed.
My aunties would have spread
as wide as angels in their marital sheets,

their doors ajar, the solemn whispers
of their night-time prayers beating
as sweet as deathbed love-making.
But our wedding vows were said,

so we sipped tea on upright chairs
still dimpled with Brylcreemed heads,
and rolled like screws in side-ways jars
on shelves in locked-up sheds.

Seven years,
one son, one daughter later,
Jesus has been sent to us.
(The aunts are gone, their houses stripped)
His legs are broken (long marriages skipped,

thrown into landfill) and we laugh
when our little children ask about our honeymoon.
I see you dreaming down our garden path
as you hold the broken body in your hands.

He was nailed to the Anaglypta.
You are picturing the twist of wire you’ll use to bind his legs,
the nail, the hammer, the spirit level, the pencil
mark the place he’ll eternally outstare us.

I love the way our daughter sings
as her finger traces our wedding rings.
 
(published in The Bridport Prize Winners Anthology 2010)
 
 
Josephine Corcoran works part-time for The Reader Organisation in Wiltshire. She wrote about being a finalist at Bridport here.