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Transformations

No (New) Man’s Land – A poem by Joseph Schreiber

No (New) Man’s Land

His is
a life in fluid drawn,
pushed through
scar tissue, muscle yielding.
Pull. Plunge.
Inject. Extract.
New man by
needle-born in flush
of mid-life puberty, 
bending forty
years of life.
Burying facts that
fail to fit.

Continue reading “No (New) Man’s Land – A poem by Joseph Schreiber”

Two Poems by Soodabeh Saeidnia

Punctuality

 

This

This is

This isn’t

This isn’t a

This isn’t a nice

This isn’t a nice, cool

This isn’t a nice, cool dream

This isn’t a cool dream

This isn’t a dream

of a sunny day in

a Cimmerian

night

This may

This may be

This may be even

This may be even worse

This may be even worse than

This may be even worse than a nightmare

This may not be worse than

This may be the worst

This is the worst

ever

the worst ever monster

the worst ever monstrous

the worst ever monstrous, cool

the worst ever monster, nice, cool

dream, which turned into a

nightmare, since we

didn’t wake up

on time Continue reading “Two Poems by Soodabeh Saeidnia”

Dissociation in a Museum Café by Belinda Rimmer

I can pinpoint the moment.

A sudden silence of traffic,

and voices

weaving a scary tale,

far away,

then further still.

 

Under the fluorescent lights,

I folded.

 

I didn’t catch anyone’s eye

but breathed deeply.

It didn’t help.

I’d ended up on the ceiling

looking down on myself.

 

My heavy blue beads

clunked and swung

with each swivel of my neck.

No one noticed.

 

Below, the other me had finished her tea

and was sorting change from her purse.

I called out. She didn’t glance up.

 

Rivulets of condensation

on the steamy window

seemed to tell me to follow, follow

as if droplets of water

could guide me home.

 

Continue reading “Dissociation in a Museum Café by Belinda Rimmer”

The Boyfriend Pinch by Christopher John Eggett

It was a surprise to see the danger red, tango orange, white mottle. All the other shellfish she had seen that day in the rock pools had been dark browns, some black elegant creatures. This was a lobster that looked like it was half-cooked, but alive and well, a naturally appealing dinner invitation.

She felt like a child squatting down next to the rock pool. How had he got washed up here, so beautiful against the wrinkled rocks and sighing sand. The day, sunny but with a wind that ran through her ankles and up her skirt occasionally, should have been about observing. She thought she would spend some time looking at the rock pools, looking at the creatures in them, grey and black and brown—crabs moving amongst the husks and wrappers of their dead comrades. Never take a step back, pick up claw from a fallen brother.

She was going to be detached today, she’d promised. She wasn’t going to get involved with anything, she said the creative writing course was helping, but there needed to be more material, more distraction. She’d been told by the tutor that she was a natural journalist, scornfully. Always ready to get involved and meddle in someone else’s story, rather than secretly skimming off the best bits from a distance.

So she would observe today. It was a bit like when she had been dumped by her boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend. The idea was to stay single for a while, to observe the others doing the dance and check she knew the steps.

But here, with this orange lobster in the black bowl of a Welsh rock pool, she decided to engage with it. She started by giving it a nudge with a stick to see how active it was. It was beautiful, so could be dead. It moved and whirled around to look at her, pointedly. She was surprised, and didn’t expect it to be so forward, it was a rare thing and therefore should be shy in her world. Continue reading “The Boyfriend Pinch by Christopher John Eggett”

Two Poems by Kate Dlugosz

Cherry Pit

 

My mouth is a bowl full of pitted cherries. My stomach the bucket for all the swallowed bloody pits. Every word tastes sweet and dark and tart on my tongue, rolling against my blushing cheeks. And when I smile, red love dribbles down my chin.

When I speak, I am tempted to sing like the way the bright pink blossoms burst into bloom in the springtime. The air is fragrant with love and sweetness and honeybees. But at the lightest breeze, fragrant with daffodils and shadows, my flowers fall

in clusters trembling, and I remember the splinters in the black bark of the cherry tree, the amber sap dripping down the exposed inner rings. The long weeping, the unfurling of flowers. And while the axe is out of sight I fear for other trees, and my branches still shake hearing lightning Continue reading “Two Poems by Kate Dlugosz”

Jack by Gene Farmer

It was for Joanna Newsom that I left my wife and children, all of whom I adored more than anything in that world which I left behind and to which I will never go back. My defence is sound, you’ll see.

I’d checked myself into the hospital, just like they tell you to if you’re experiencing difficulties in breathing, have a tight chest and your head is spinning. I passed swiftly through triage and onto a bed where they wired me to an ECG, took blood and then abandoned me to crisp blue curtains and the metronomic beep of an ignored monitor. Continue reading “Jack by Gene Farmer”

7yrs bad luck by Richard Biddle

this splintered

self, always

 

there and not

there—all ways

fragments

 

too close

to truth

 

his

portrait

 

ear-splitting

hairline cracks

 

eyes—iced-over

puddles

stepped

into, smashed

 

nose, broken

punched in

like a code

 

pupils;

dead flies

captured by

misshapen webs

 

frown thrown

off guard

 

skull-shatter

piece by piece

 

within his

lashes

 

a universe

on the blink
Continue reading “7yrs bad luck by Richard Biddle”

Two Poems by Anna Wall

Of the sea

 

I was not formed from earth:

A dirty rib, used and scratching.

His name wasn’t on the birth certificate.

 

A womb of one’s own, forged in a locked room—

Nourished by sadness and

the shame they made her feel.

 

The sea always felt like home,

wind born waves held me.

Rocked me to sleep in a salted cradle.

 

Sometimes the monsters would come—

Emerging from beneath,

threatening to take my legs.

 

They never could, and I floated

eyes skyward.

Wishing I could row.

 

Continue reading “Two Poems by Anna Wall”

When Food Goes Bad by Kelly Froh

My younger brother just scheduled bariatric surgery.

They will reduce his stomach to the size of a banana.

He said he can’t go another decade being heavy.

He asked me to remember when our parents got divorced, when he was 10 and I was 15 and I said, “See ya later!” as he filled time and loneliness with dry cereal and Swiss cake rolls.

I tried to commiserate, even though I knew I risked insulting him, since his weight issues have always been much greater than mine — said we both snacked way too much, and paired it with convenience eating:

Hamburger Helper on the countertop was mom telling us what’s for dinner

And award systems:

1 visit to church on Sunday = 1 sausage biscuit with egg at the drive-thru

We fell into negative routines: Dad yelled at me, I yelled at my brother, and then we nursed our wounds together with salt, sweet, repeat. Continue reading “When Food Goes Bad by Kelly Froh”

Sing a Song of Ever Changing Perception by Michelle Diaz

There was the time she posed as a proper person,

up at seven with organised eyes,

spinning the wheel of coffee heart and computer clack,

a life in neat multi-coloured folders.

 

An alarm went off in her pocket—

and now the world stank of Boots’ perfume and cigarettes

she spoke in fluent Bacardi Breezer

knew every bar in South East London

flew through the day to get to the pub on the other side

until life became a barman that would no longer serve her.

Men with magnet mouths waited for her to exceed her limit

found ways to climb inside.

 

Now she sits like a stale buttered scone

who nobody wants  to pick up or eat

or even look at that way.

 

She thinks this is delicious and funny at the same time.

Continue reading “Sing a Song of Ever Changing Perception by Michelle Diaz”

The Transformation by Emma McKervey

When I track the narrow paths which hide behind fences

where elder and trolleys and abandoned bins live

I know that this is cusp, this is a finding of a way for life

to rise from old potato peelings and discarded toys which gather there,

anticipate their transformation into something more,

but never quite catch the moment, though sometimes I glimpse

the heaving of a sigh beneath their own broken weight.

If a stag were to lose himself here he would turn golden,

summon me, and I would follow until he and I were one,

the hunter and the prey, follow where there are no fixed paths

through death, through grief.  I reminded my father of a time

a stag bounded in front of his car at dusk, but he wasn’t sure

if that had been my dream or if it had belonged to him.

 

Continue reading “The Transformation by Emma McKervey”

Stealing Sleipnir by Alison Lock

In Nordic mythology Sleipnir is Odin’s steed, the foal of Loki and Svaðilfari

 

I am fastened to the skim-race of a sly night.

Shadows fall, tin pots clank, slab-roofs trill.

My eyelids stutter. A silhouette before me – equine-like,

up-folded wings, serrations of fine spine-feathers.

A shadow-foal, a rider with a ghost-drawn face, lines

ploughed by a brazen sun or a blistering frost.

 

There’s the fit-fickle thunder-hiss of a merciless wind: all clinker,

the slag of irradiated soil, metal shards, eyelets, pinions,

grease, the multifarious detritus of battle. Odin seeks his revenge.

 

I run from the ankle-snatch of tumbleweed. Weightless. Slipping

through a crack of light, I cross the threshold

in a screech, as if all nesting owls have been released.

Continue reading “Stealing Sleipnir by Alison Lock”

Invitation To Move On by Jonathan Humble

I am small in the sea, pushed around

by waves that care not for any grain of sand

or stuff that floats in old men’s heads.

 

Arms held wide and high, that reach and cling

like a child to a parent when things get rough,

when routines fail and muscles waste.

 

I hesitate, recoil, cower; skin so thin

these cold water blades could spill these guts

for waiting gulls and wash away this name.

 

I am caught like the sun, falling

and hoping to rise again, the horizon watched

from a base of arched feet, soft soles and toes

 

exposed to the hidden sharpness of shadows.

And though these whispered sea breezes,

with caresses would show the way,

 

for that bastard time waits not for me,

until I learn to surrender, immerse this body,

allow these legs to float and lay back this head,

 

could I ever take in the whole of the sky?

 

Continue reading “Invitation To Move On by Jonathan Humble”

Three Poems by Ivan de Monbrison

Another Journey

 

It’s still early

you’re through with work now

you go home and the streets are crowded with passers-by

there is like the deafening sound of a song in the headphones over your ears that isolates you more or less from the others

so you take off the headphones

but it is not you that I see in the street

but a stranger

and I don’t know if I am dreaming or not

as you have deserted me

so I don’t care anymore about anything

and I walk back home like a ghost Continue reading “Three Poems by Ivan de Monbrison”

L’Idole by Laura Izabela

Oblivious,

you pray for the cure at dawn whilst the light melts off your skin.

Icarus, hopeless bird-child,

you put a knife in your back, twist,

fall off a bridge to vex the sun, tranquil.

It is meaningless

whatever you decide to do.

Shame clouds your judgement now, it consumes you as

you feed on your soul, always: search for the heart.

Thoughts destroy structure —

on a moonless night, with two dark stars,

they are the makers of the world.

Continue reading “L’Idole by Laura Izabela”

Night Photos of Newstead Village & a Poem by Sophie Pitchford

Pitchford _Tungsten 2

 

 

Tungsten

 

the light is

tungsten

tungsten

my incandescent affiliation

street lights emit orange

tungsten lights, bless

anoint the streets with orange haze, creates vignette

turns street in to theatre

under street light is under spotlight

glow from window illuminates intricate net-curtain-call

There is life inside, electricity

rows and rows of windows glow,

currents of electricity form circuit board called estate, village

street light snoot renders unsuspecting object still-life masterpiece

catchlight from car roof becomes moon-lit-fjord

until sun rise

garish day-time, floods night-time majesty

over-exposed

until sun set Continue reading “Night Photos of Newstead Village & a Poem by Sophie Pitchford”

Charon’s Amusement Arcade by BR Williams

It really messed me up, it did. For months after my discharge, even the sound of my own farts would send me, you know, wherever it was I went. I would just freeze up. Go into a kind of dead-face trance. I was a big lad back then, and it was difficult for people to get me moving again once I’d stopped. So I’d end up staying there for a while like, in the street, wherever, just staring at the grey clouds on the horizon. At one stage, it got so bad that when I was offered a job at the local arcade – one of them bandit places – my counsellor practically begged me not to take it. She said the flashing lights and the noise of the coins dropping would be too much for me to handle. She made it sound like I’d end my shift fitting on the mucky carpet there, like some sort of fucking fish. But I had to give it a try. It was the only job offer I’d had since landing back on civvy street, and staying in the house all day with my parents tip-toeing nervously around me, well that was sending me another kind of crazy. I was starting to feel like one of them fucking bombs I was so Continue reading “Charon’s Amusement Arcade by BR Williams”

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