‘Assembling’ by Abegail Morley


She borrows her pelt from the cat, lies back,
wallows in its stunted silken threads, the weave

of its stitching, how fur overlaps, silver hair on hair,
hind legs soft, subtle as saplings. She takes her eyes

from the ancients ‒ black rocks, thick set, as if put in place
by a salt gale. She fumbles for lips, hits on a breadth

of red horizon brimming from the window ‒
sculpts her nose from ice found in shattered pools,

melts, shapes like soft wet cloth or tacky clay.
She makes herself every day from lost particles, snippets

of sentences, things hidden from view. One day
she’ll show him all this, undress, exhibit herself

unaware he’s waited for years. Absent words jabber
from the ache of silence, burrow in his foolish head.

Sometimes late at night he’ll hear her after rain,
her raw voice will hang in the air for hours.
Abegail Morley’s fourth collection, The Skin Diary is published by Nine Arches Press (2016). Her debut, How to Pour Madness into a Teacup was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection. ‘Assembling’ is taken from In The Curator’s Hands – a pamphlet forthcoming from Indigo Dreams Publishing.

‘Pineapple as a metaphor for life’ by Ben Banyard

Pineapple as a metaphor for life

Yes, it’s still sitting on the window ledge
Gruff, rough, browning leaves.
The Best Before Date was last Thursday.

It knows it’s a project, not a quick job
like cutting your fingernails;
this requires commitment, concentration.

While intact the pineapple mocks me:
we’re locked in a game of chicken
which will end in Tupperware or the pig bin.

This stand-off began the moment
I dropped it into my supermarket trolley.
It’s been building to this rough crux.

I know the knife to do the job.
I’ll grab the crown, throw it on the board,

chop, slice, dice to wonder at last
why there’s so little left to enjoy.
Ben Banyard lives and writes in Portishead. His debut pamphlet, Communing, was published by Indigo Dreams in February 2016 and work has appeared in Prole, The Interpreter’s House and Popshot, among others. Ben edits Clear Poetry, an online journal publishing accessible contemporary writing.

‘Teahouse on the Hill, Lincoln’ by Terry Quinn

Teahouse on the Hill, Lincoln

What with the excitement
of an extra scone
it completely slipped my mind
to tell you the waitress
had told me the décor
was changed in March

actually she said stripped
with a degree of enthusiasm
that would have the girls giggling
so it was lucky they weren’t there
when you found what you found
on the door of the cathedral
and can you imagine
trying to explain that snakes
don’t usually end up
where they ended up there

though it seems
from what you were saying
there’s a few where you work
that could shed a skin
and preferably yours
so don’t think I’m prying
but there must be times
when you feel like that chap
at the table by the window
pretending to read the menu
while his teapot’s untouched

and that’s what this is about
one of us stirring the other’s pot
adding milk and sugar
when the other doesn’t care
we’ve been there before
and now we’ve been here
and where we go next
goes with a hug from the other
not from those anacondas
squeezing the life out of you

and talking of them
just think of those masons
that twelfth century porn
cutting snakes into stone
well we won’t need chisels
but I think I can safely say
the result will be much the same
do you want that butter.
(from The Amen of Knowledge, Indigo Dreams Press 2013)
Terry Quinn lives in Preston where, after a career as a Medical Engineer in the NHS, he is now actively involved in the Preston Poets’ Society and local poetry events including the 2014 Picture a Poet Exhibition. He has two collections; away published in 2010 and The Amen of Knowledge published in 2013 as a result of winning the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize. He was runner up in the 2014 BBC Poetry Proms Competition.

‘Not turning the light on’ by Emma Lee

Not turning the light on

As I wake in the dark,
the neighbour’s son returns with his girlfriend
before spending what’s left of the night in her arms.

I’ve not forgotten teenage insomnia, day-dreaming words
into poems not daring to switch on a light to write them
but silently reciting them to memory.

It’s your absence that keeps me awake now
and I still don’t turn the light on. I like the dark:
light shows dust gathering, brings obligations.
In the dark, I can imagine the bedroom door open.
(previously published in Under the Radar)

Emma Lee’s Ghosts in the Desert is published by Indigo Dreams Publishing available here. She blogs at emmalee1.wordpress.com and reviews for Sabotage Reviews, The Journal and London Grip.

‘Another box of nipples arrived today’ by Char March

Another box of nipples arrived today

The hospital computer’s gone mad
– that’s the third box this week.
You stick them on the fridge door,
the phone, the handle of the kettle.
And we laugh. Then you are sick again.

This evening you sit in your usual chair
in the bloat of chemo, your breath really
bothering you. And me, if truth be told.
You are darning pullovers neither of us
ever wear – and even Oxfam won’t take.

What if I could give you a new pair?
That will always pass the pencil test, even
at 90; with dark areolae and pert
tips that tilt cheekily, but don’t
show through your tennis dress.

You are muttering about camels
and licking the thread for the nth time;
specs half-way down – in your usual chair.
I don’t see hacked-at womanhood,
that you’ve sobbed salt-herring barrels for.

I see you. Darning your way to normality.
(previously published in The Thousand Natural Shocks,
and in anthologies by Bloodaxe, Indigo Dreams and Templar Poetry.)
Char March has won loads of awards for her poetry, short fiction, and as a playwright. Her credits include: five poetry collections including The Thousand Natural Shocks (Indigo Dreams Publishing); six BBC Radio 4 plays; and seven stage plays. She is regularly published in literary magazines, and in poetry and short fiction anthologies. She grew up in industrial Scotland, and now lives in the Yorkshire Pennines. She has been active in the Disability Politics Movement throughout her adult life.

Two poems by Catherine Graham

Dancing with Angels

‘Is she usually like this?’
the nurse asks indifferently.

No, she’s not usually a ballerina,
I’ve never heard her sing like this, beautiful, carefree.

Perhaps I am meeting her for the first time,
perhaps this is how she wants to be,

free from all our expectations, skimming stones
across reality. I want to congratulate her,

be her first and last dancing partner
for I know in this blue moon moment

that soon her parade will be over.
I lie beside her, listening

to breathless conversations with her sisters
who step from a sepia photograph

as the room whispers the scent
of invisible flowers.

I watch as her fingers grow long,
her fingertips, turquoise, cold.

On her lips a silent song,
trials, like rocks spilling out from her pillow.
She Wishes For A Poem By Yuri Zhivago

Write me a poem Yuri, like the ones you wrote for Lara.
She doesn’t deserve them, she swanned off with Kamarovsky.
I pity you, torn between her and Tonya.

Poor Yuri the poetic doctor, left to tend to Lara’s mother.
So tell me: your poems – I bet they rhyme flawlessly.
Write me a poem Yuri, like the ones you wrote for Lara.

She had you, Kamarovsky and then there was Pasha!
Seems to me like she lived life horizontally.
I pity you, torn between her and Tonya.

Is it the angelic look, tell me, what is it about her
that compels you to write love poems endlessly?
Write me a poem Yuri, like the ones you wrote for Lara.

I love the scene where she rests her head on your shoulder.
(I’ve never read the book, I’ve only seen the movie.)
I pity you, torn between her and Tonya.

Oh I could look into your dark eyes forever
and what I would give to read how much you love me.
Write me a poem Yuri, like the ones you wrote for Lara.
I pity you, torn between her and Tonya.
Catherine Graham lives in Newcastle on Tyne. Her chapbook Signs (ID on Tyne Press) was one of The Poetry Kit’s top five recommended books for 2011. Catherine’s first full collection Things I Will Put In My Mother’s Pocket has just been published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

A poem by Julie Maclean

U plain

every night when spring gets going
we sit outside in fold-up chairs,
yours ripped from being left out in the weather,
mine hanging in by a thread

you watch dragon flies like micro choppers
on some reconnaissance or other       I admire
the sass of lily buds       baby maggies teetering on
the brink of their first bath       wattle birds in cirque
de soleil with kangaroo paw in a double act

You feed the fish that coil and flick in their rush
to be fed with their open-shut poppy gobs
I dead-head the odd drooped flower, pull a
weed or two out of the path

We drink a few reds       knit the days together
you plain,       me purl
your rows are always the same
I drop stitches and have to start again

You cast off         it starts to rain

(first published in Rabbit Poetry Journal, 2011)
Julie Maclean, from Bristol, UK, is based on the Surf Coast, Australia. In 2012 she was shortlisted for The Crashaw Prize (Salt Publishing) and PressPress Prize. Her chapbook, When I Saw Jimi, is forthcoming from Indigo Dreams Publishing (UK) in 2013.