Andrew Scotson – Two Poems

Retail Therapy
Two stationary lines face the warehouse
long rows of silent lorries show
distribution has come to an end for the week.
Saturday night and the tills are shut
the drivers drink beer and smoke ciggies
watching “Strictly” or the “X Factor”,
shout at the wife,
eat the last crisp,
lick salty fingers clean.
The floodlight picks out
shadows of frost to come
and reflects off logos
advertising to nobody.
In the office high above
I plan the week to come
when petrol will pour and
engines will rev
trailers be hitched
and tired teenagers
lift rusty shutters
ready for the new week.

Lowestoft Songs

Gather around the bed
ordered by rank, a family stand,
aged and pristine he lies
tucked in neat, tidy.
Grey hair combed,
on his chest the single rose,
arms by his side,
time stands still for the old soldier.
Gone after eighty years
ordinary man of Suffolk
addled by arthritis
tortured down the years.
Give a kiss
on a smooth cheek
a shining glow, lad
takes his leave.

Andrew Scotson is 52 and lives in Daventry. He writes a lot of poetry and works for Tesco. He loves nature and the countryside. He is married to Jeanette and has some books self published on kindle only.

Hannah Linden – They’re all Dead and Look Who’s Wearing our Coat.

They’re all Dead and Look Who’s Wearing our Coat.

If there was ever a time to find the threads left to us
we’d weave us such a coat as would keep us warm
of a winter. But the sheep in sheep’s clothing has been

fleeced. And it’s so cold out here. Our last defence against
the wild zeroes in on us. The wolf is eating our grandmothers
and our coats are hanging out to dry in our landlords’ gardens.

Enoch and Maggie look down laughing. No one is looking
for a new loom. What stories they told us whilst the axeman
did their dirty work – red dye running rivers to the sea.

 

[Footnote: Churchill said Attlee was ‘a sheep in sheep’s clothing’. Attlee’s government brought in the Welfare State which is now being dismantled.]

Hannah Linden is a Devon-based poet, emerging from Jo Bell’s 52 group. She has work published in Domestic Cherry 4, Nutshells and Nuggets, Poetry24, The Broadsheet, Wonderzoo, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Appletree’s Speak! anthology and more by the time this goes to print: it’s been a busy year!  She tweets @hannahl1n

Hilaire – Reborn

Reborn

for Talha

 

‘I will experience what very few ever do in this world: life after death.’

Letter from Talha Ahsan, Northern Correctional Institution, Connecticut, 28 May 2014

 

To experience life after death

is to hold your face up to rain,

each drop soft-sharp, soul-piercing.

To breathe in air vibrant with fumes

and sweat and spice, the dancing particles

of adjacent lives.

To walk in unbounded space

along streets and lanes,

through parks, across commons.

To walk until your feet bleed

and your ears shimmer with every

newly-heard city sound.

To lie on a bench and feast

on London’s heavenly sky.

To sleep again on sheets

washed by maternal hands,

smoothed tight against nightmare.

In your own time tell

how it was

how it is

in your own words

in your own

good time.

Hilaire grew up in Melbourne but moved to London half a lifetime ago. She has had short stories and poetry published in several anthologies and various magazines, including Magma, Brittle Star, Wet Ink, Parallax, Under the Radarand Smoke: A London Peculiar. Triptych Poets: Issue One (Blemish Books, Australia, 2010) features a selection of her poems. She is currently working on a joint poetry project with Joolz Sparkes, London Undercurrents, unearthing the voices of feisty and resilient women who have lived and worked in the capital over many centuries.

Blog: https://hilaireinlondon.wordpress.com/

 

Elaine Taylor – Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cost-benefit Analysis

Speaking for myself, I simply can’t understand
why those of us who earn perhaps more than the average
should have to supply the weak, the indigent and the feckless
with what our over-concerned state chooses to call benefits.
In a market economy the fittest survive, and those who don’t
should thank their lucky stars people like us are there
to show them the way. It’s all about effort, pulling yourself up
by your own bootstraps, having the gumption to get up and go.
I’m not about to give handouts to anyone who can’t make it –
won’t, more like. I don’t depend on the NHS to look after me
or the council to house me, don’t whinge about paying for
my mother’s nursing home, my son’s schooling, my daughter’s
university. This is a free society, so you should have the choice
to have a home or not, to eat or not, to let your teeth rot
and your hips seize up. Don’t come to me for pity. My taxes
have to pay for the defence of this country, the protection
of those of us whose rights most need protecting, those
who with our enterprise have made this nation what it is,
not those who soil our streets with snivelling and begging
or talk about their entitlement to help. If they want jobs
they can come and work for me, be grateful for what I pay –
never mind the minimum wage, start to realise how fortunate
they are to be alive at all. When my great-grandpa went
into the workhouse there were no bleeding hearts for him.
He died there in the end. Bit of a shame, you could say.

 

 

 

Elaine Taylor hasbeen interested in writing for many years and writes both poetry and prose. In 2011 she completed the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, working mainly on a novel. She has had poems accepted for publication in The Broadsheet and The Journal and her blog address is http://www.thebelatedwriter.wordpress.com.

Helen Clare – For a Boy who Everyone Tells to be Gentle

For a Boy who Everyone Tells to be Gentle

Here, we only ever play the piano softly,
because of the twitching rabbit whose
tender ears touch the ground and feel everything.

Gently, more gently. As gentle as a rabbit.
As gentle as the cat licking salt from the crook
of your fingers after you’ve eaten crisps. Gentle
as the muzzle of a donkey – so different
from the toothy grins of the goats that clatter
their hooves on the bars of the gates,
or the haughty rubber mouths of horses –
remember his velvet lips brushing your hand
as he took carrots. Gentle as blowing parachutes
from dandelion clocks, one by one, and a stray
one tickling your arm. Gentle as picking up
fallen cherry blossom without losing a petal,
as blackberrying without stains on your fingers.

Yes, there’s a gentle pedal, and one that makes
the sound hang. Those three notes, those perfect
notes, hang in the air like cloud. The three of us
now, are inside the notes. You on the stool, me
on the mat, the sleepy rabbit stretched out
by my knee, are within the notes that land
on our skin like droplets. Go on, stroke him
on the cheek. Gently. That’s it. Gentle.

In a previous life Helen Clare was a science teacher – she now works on projects which combine science, poetry and learning, including a poetry residency at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. Her published work includes Mollusc (Comma, 2004) and Entomology (Happenstance 2014) and her poems have won a number of national prizes, including First Prize in the London Writers Competition 2002, and Runner Up in the Daily Telegraph/Arvon Competition 2000
http://www.helenclare.co.uk

Matthew Duggan – Uprising

Uprising

Petroleum flowers are laid
on the gravestones of dead politics,

like a trickle of daisy-chains

on shorelines of corrupt heretics,

revolution spreads
like the blood soaked price of rising grain.

Matthew Duggan has had poems published in The Journal, Sarasvati, Roundyhouse, Illumen, Inkapture, The Seventh Quarry, Turbulence, Carillion, The Cobalt Review, Square, Dwang, The Dawntreader, Peering Cat Poetry Magazine, Zouch, The Jawline Review, and many more. He had his first collection of poems ‘Making adjustments for life expectancy’ published in January 2014, which was reviewed in Carillon and Roundyhouse magazines. He also hosts a spoken word evening every month at Hydra Bookshop in Bristol UK called ‘AN EVENING OF SPOKEN INDULGENCE’, and will be the editor of a new political poetry magazine called The Angry Manifesto launched in Feb of 2015.

Char March – Titanium Plate

Titanium plate

These are our caring arms:
the power of prose;
the intensity of poetry.

We bury ourselves in words,
then pull ourselves back to life through them;
haul the narrative threads of stories
round us to keep out the chill –
that ice-wind of censorship.

This simple act:
ink on paper, is capable
of lighting a lantern
in someone’s head.
That lit mind can explore the world:
imagined and real;
forbidden and familiar.

How brave can you be?
How brave would you be?
If, whenever you reached out
to write, to read
– someone put a gun to your head?

All hail to Malala Yousafzai
whose skull head-butted the bullet
of extremism away.

Let me hear it – how many of us
will fight alongside Malala, brandishing
our pens as swords – for that essential life-breath:
of education, of words,
of this, the simplest ever artform
– a cheap pencil, a scrap of paper,
and an imagination bigger than a zillion universes.

Let me hear you! Let me hear you!

Char March has won awards for poetry, short fiction, and as a playwright.  Her credits include: five poetry collections including The Thousand Natural Shocks, six BBC Radio 4 plays, and seven stage plays.

Her short story collection, ‘Something Vital Fell Through’, is thirteen competition and award-winning stories published by Indigo Dreams. 

She lives in the Yorkshire Pennines and the Scottish Highlands and has been active in the Disability Politics Movement throughout her adult life. 

www.charmarch.co.uk

Catherine Regan – Who Are You From?

Who are you from?

Who do you support, he asked,
Armagh or Tyrone? He thought
he would find me out, twice.
I say Tyrone. For the T and the y
and the rone bringing me crone,
the third-third of the triple moon.
He walked away, rigged his hood
cursed to Jesus H Christ, I had no truth.

Catherine Regan is a wife and mother from Northern Ireland. She studied English at Queens University Belfast and began writing when she was fourteen. She has had a few poems published in the past but is currently finding her feet in the world of poetry again. She doesn’t like her job and loves cooking for her family and friends.

Ruth Aylett – Humility

Humility

They did not hate the poor. Their houses

were not extravagantly big. They did not

drive gas guzzling four by fours; may have

liked good food but never wasted it.

They did not spend a year’s normal salary

on champagne, or spend their evenings

in Canary Wharf bars. They may have been numerate

but they never fiddled sub-prime mortgages.

They didn’t demand tax breaks, would

not even consider making special pleas,

did not expect others to pay for their mistakes,

never sold their friends the public’s property.

And they certainly do not run the country.

I am absolutely sure, they do not run the country.

 Ruth Aylett teaches computing at Heriot-Watt University, wonders why we let the world go on as it does, and therefore feels compelled to write poems and short stories. She has been published by Red Squirrel Press, Poetry Scotland, Textualities, New Writing Scotland, Doire Press, Ink, Sweat and Tears, and others. More at www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/writing.html.

Maggie Sawkins – A Cage went in search of a Bird

A Cage went in search of a Bird
(Kafka)

What use is a cage
that’s become afraid

of its own trappings –
its mirror, its bell, its swing?

What use is an opening
that doesn’t stay open?

What use is a perch
that doesn’t stay still?

No use thinking things
will change

should a bird fly in
and make itself at home.

What use is a companion
if your fear’s so loud

you cannot hear
their song?

Maggie Sawkins is the winner of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry
Visit: http://www.zonesofavoidance.wordpress.com