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(Short-listed by the Bridport Prize, unpublished)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 Rebecca Gethin

Renny – 1961

Even then, I knew my performance as a primrose
wouldn’t impress. But as soon as the bell clanged
we played wild animals. We’d be at it on the floor,
some crawling on all fours, others writhing,
all of us snarling or growling. I guessed
he’d notice my sabre-tooth-tiger impression:
I knew how to act long fangs, had the prowl off to a tee.
I’d studied the picture and practised. Anyone would guess.
He stood watching me for a while, hands on hips,
smiled at me. But all he wanted to do was to rough up Bert
and I can’t remember now what animal he was.

(published in Lighthouse)

 
gathering

                the fields are bolts of cloth
wrinkling with birds
until a stray thread is pulled
and half of the flock
folds itself over the other
               to crease and quarter
new ground
while trees on the margin
are thick with their singing
               till out of nowhere
the whump
of a thousand wings takes off
in one beat
               not one stitch
touching another
a spindle of starlings
rise up in their thousands
               a hank of black thread
drawn from the weave

(published in Moor Poets anthology vol 3)
 
 
 
Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor. Her second poetry collection, A Handful of Water was published in 2013 by Cinnamon Press who also published her two novels, Liar Dice and What the horses heard. New poems have recently appeared in various magazines and also in anthologies, notably Her Wings of Glass, (Second Light) and The Very Best of 52 (Nine Arches Press). She works as a gardener, runs a portable children’s bookshop and runs poetry workshops from time to time.

‘Tracking the wolf’ by Wendy Klein

Tracking the wolf
after Cormac McCarthy

the boy     his brother    their father
             (not yet awake)    the horse
the dog behind the gate watching him go

the she-wolf    the    snow    the blood    the gun
              the traps       the calves
aborted before term

pale    unborn    still warm    milk blue
near translucent (like beings miscarried
              from another planet)

the boy will follow her all day    find signs
              grass pressed down
still warm from the sun    or from her body

a heifer lying on its side in the shadow
of the woods where she had killed it
              begun to feed on it (eaten the liver
dragged the intestines
              over the snow)

he will find her already in the trap    her paw
              crushed pad     white matchsticks
                                          of splintered bone
              poetry of manhood
blood-marred
          the bone    the boy    the poet
who against reason
will take the wolf’s side
                       not knowing
what everyone must surely know

that no one can ever
save the wolf
that the poor wolf cannot be saved
 
 
(Winner of the Cinnamon Press Single Poem Competition 2014)
 
 
Wendy Klein was born in New York, left the U.S. in 1964 to live in Sweden, and on from there on to France and Germany. She has lived most of her adult life in England, a retired psychotherapist, she is published in many magazines and anthologies and has two collections from Cinnamon Press: Cuba in the Blood (2009) and Anything in Turquoise (2013).

A poem by Lesley Ingram

 
The Pale Horse

At twilight she is still sitting with the book in her hand,
staring through the window, looking for snow.

Have you seen my horse? she says, eyes wild
with loss.  I smile, brush her hair.  She purrs.

She cups my face.  I know you, she whispers,
have you stolen my horse?  I cover her hands with mine

and we stare a while, nose to nose.  I know you.
Her lips twitch, try to find the forgotten shape

of my name.  I tell her, but she shrugs and turns
to the window, expecting snow.
 
 
Lesley Ingram was born in Doncaster and lives in Ledbury. She is studying a PhD in Yorkshire Dialect poetry, and her first collection is to be published by Cinnamon Press in 2015.

‘In a disused game-keeper’s hut’ by Rebecca Gethin

In a disused game-keeper’s hut

A stream dashes past in a deep cleft. From inside,
all you hear is the waterfall. Dark as the garden
at night, a mesh covers the grimy window.

No-one will guess. She sweeps the dust, runs outside
to gasp. It settles back like the things she’s heard said.
She pokes feathers she’s found into cracks between planks.

Outside, a jay cackles. The woods are as green
and gold as pheasants. There’s nowhere else.
For company she borrows a glass bowl, fills it with water,

puts in stones and water weed, scoops up frogspawn
from a pool – the jelly clings to her fingers,
the pulsing specks beseech her. Placing this beside

the light she shuts the door behind her, leaving it
exactly as it was. She can’t answer what she can’t hear.
All that summer the dust leaks a musty smell.

In the winter she shoves open the door to find a bowl
of dried tadpoles – when they slide around
they almost clink, like small beads.
 
(published in Smiths Knoll and A Handful of Water)
 
 
Rebecca Gethin‘s second collection A Handful of Water was recently launched by Cinnamon Press. A previous collection, River is the Plural of Rain, was published by Oversteps Books in 2009. Her first novel, Liar Dice, won the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award and was published in 2011.

Two poems by Ron Carey

 
Among Men
 
There are a few originals left – a small curmudgeon
Of diehards, one might say. Life has put something
Sharp in our water or something shaky beneath
Our pale, Tupperware skin. We’re not complaining.
That’s just the way of it. No hand-holding, thank God,
But we are interested in each other – the way old
Walruses might care who has slipped from the rocks
And not returned to shore. By day we live below
The buzz of halogen – daylight been removed. Later,
Staff Nurse clops in with a fairytale of rain and night.
At lights, some new man might let the side down. But
We are careful not to hear. By breakfast clash, we have
Regained our manliness – ready now to face the dead
Certainty of priests; prognosing doctors and the knife.
 
(first published in Cinnamon Press Winners Anthology, The Book of Euclid, 2012)
 
 
In the House of Lazarus
 
He wakes to find the journey
Still in his bones.
Outside, in dust-filled trees
A golden oriole sings;
Its song grows stronger
With the rising heat.
He swings his legs out.
A rivulet of blood
Has dried between his toes.
His sandals lie tattered
Against the wall, taking
The scent of limestone.

In the courtyard round
Water rises, like the sound
Of a crowd.
In the courtyard a woman
Prepares the grain.
On the saddle quern
The stone rolls away.
He washes himself and takes
Pleasure in being clean.
In the mirror, he sees how
Thin he has become.
And in his long black hair
The first strand of grey.
 
(first published in Cinnamon Press Winners Anthology, The Book of Euclid, 2012)
 
 
Ron Carey was born in Limerick and lives in Dublin. He has been published in New Irish Writings and The Irish Times as well as in numerous poetry journals. At the moment he is studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of South Wales (Glamorgan) and working on his first poetry collection. Follow him on Twitter @RonCarey49

A poem by Bill Greenwell

 
One afternoon

for Chris

One afternoon
he actually died during one of his anecdotes, one which he’d
started in one village, and had persisted in so that
by the time they’d reached the next one
he was still going, having taken a tangent at some crossroads
and kept on with the tale, so that it had begun to defy
clausal analysis as well as logic, but the thing was that
although dead, he carried on explaining to her
(not without kindness) what the point of the point was
he was making, and how the context in which he was placing
the context was essential to how
what he intended to say would make sense, while accepting
in a roundabout sort of way that he (and they)
were off the beaten track, off the ordnance survey map
of his conversation (1:1250), and in the wrong village altogether,
but there it was, he’d died and kept on going, had had
a stroke or some such, his heart had packed up
and folded its ventricles too, but he
kept talking, gaseous and andante, the words spinning
out through his lips like ectoplasm, the motor of the brain
turning over and over, rather like (it occurred
to her) those weird stories of guillotine victims who gave
every sign of life, even when head and body
had parted company, not voluntarily, true, but
you get the drift.

What could she do but follow him (well not
follow exactly, she’d been unable to do that since the third
signpost along the way, she’d given up even
trying to join in or to nod – other than off – or
quite frankly to hear him as anything other than an arbitrary
string of vowels and consonants, a rhythmic burden
that ran under her murderous thoughts) as he persisted
in approaching the point?

She drove to a station, took a fast train
to somewhere exotic. The problem was, as the journey
unwound her, she could hear, somewhere,
it might have been the air conditioning, she
couldn’t tell, she could hear this drone, this
prattle, an off-white noise.
 
 
Bill Greenwell is the Open University in the North’s Arts Staff Tutor. His fourth collection Ringers is published by Cinnamon and he writes a weekly satirical poem on www.theweeklypoem.com

‘Child’ by Marion McCready

 
Child

The field has drowned and turned
into a tideless sea.
            Flower shapes rise from
            a toddler’s broken ribs.

Beyond the head of a loch
a broken swing hangs from a tree.
            His body bruises in the dark,
            he has learned to be quiet.

Clouds drag their shadows
over hills, ridges, fields of sheep.
            His eyes are the colour of fists,
            he has learned to be still.

I’m up to my knees in nothing
but the bare November breeze.
            His hand prints on the windowpanes,
            the trail of his sticky sleeves.

I’m chasing after the cat’s eyes
of a child I cannot see.
            Where have all the leaves gone,
            where are the streets of leaves?
 
(published in Glimmer (Cinnamon Press) and Vintage Sea Calder Wood Press)
 
 
Marion McCready lives in Dunoon, Argyll. Her poems have appeared in a variety of publications including The Edinburgh Review, Northwords Now, The Glasgow Herald and New Linear Perspectives. Calder Wood Press published her pamphlet collection, Vintage Sea, in 2011.

A poem by Wendy Klein

 
A Short Manhattan Lullaby, 1939
after S. Olds

I see them tarting themselves up for the party where they’ll meet;
she post-divorce from her approved-of Jewish ex,
and all set to become a successful playwright. I see her pucker up
for the brightest lipstick, slip her feet into lethal stilettos,
bat blackened eyelashes in the gilded mirror,
see it return her appreciative glance. He’s more nervous;
primed with Dutch courage – Bourbon, because
he can’t afford Scotch — tweaks a pre-formed bowtie,
covers a less-than-fresh shirt with a Harris tweed jacket –
herringbone. I see them arrive separately on the steps
of an East-Village Brownstone, pause a moment
before climbing the dim-lit stairs, gauging the level
of booziness; assessing the volume of laughter,
of music. He’s the wrong man for her; literary, unreliable,
full of unattainable aspirations — the sort of stray she finds
irresistible. She’s spiky, too smart for him,
but she’s yet to find out. He can’t resist her green eyes,
made brighter with kohl, alcohol, artifice, her sassy chat;
can’t take his eyes off her carmine lips,
the flash of white teeth, bared by her brassy laugh,
and she can’t resist his smoky gaze.
They go through the pick-up in cliché Technicolor,
and every warning she’s heard about weak, irresponsible
gentile men wafts out the window of the ninth floor,
gains speed over the Hudson, the East,
as she whispers shut up Mother,
and I want to say stop; you’ll destroy each other,
but I bite my tongue, just watch them walk away,
clinging to each other so tight that I flinch.
 
(first published in the anthology of winning poems from Norfolk Writers’ Poetry Competition 2011)

Wendy Klein was short-listed in the Poetry Business 2012 Pamphlet Competition, judged by Carol Ann Duffy. Her first collection, Cuba in the Blood, was published in 2009 by Cinnamon Press. A second collection, Anything in Turquoise, is due out from Cinnamon Press in January 2013.

‘Her story’ by Abegail Morley

 
Her story

I.

Inside where the darkness stops,
her bones are soft, pliable, her head

half her weight. She curls in the curve
of the crescent moon. Week 28,

she feels pain. Inhales, exhales;
downy hair covers her skin, like his.

Waters break.

II.

Her room’s changed shape, dimension.
No longer measured crown to rump,

she stretches her length, cranks up
Amy Winehouse, reads To the lighthouse

in her bed at night. She meets pain.
Inhales, exhales; dyes her hair, like his.

Opens The Waves.

III.

Outside the morning blisters. I feel
her shift. Away. Resist.

She submerges, airless. Week 936,
head full of dreams half her weight

she buckles under, greets pain.
Inhales, exhales. Her hair skims

the water’s skin.
 
(Commended in The Frogmore Poetry Prize 2012)
 

Visit The Poetry Shed for featured writers, reviews, magazines and links.
How to Pour Madness into a Teacup (Cinnamon Press) was shortlisted for The Forward Prize Best First Collection. Pindrop Press published Snow Child in 2011.