Finola Scott – Privilege

Privilege

No cheering crowds, no fanfare flares
just quiet scratching in flimsy booths
as we make our mark.
Listen closely, you can hear
trampling horses
prison doors clang
feeding-tubes clatter.
All so we can use our heads.
Listen.

Finola Scott is an Edinburgh based Slam winning Granny. She loves the vibrancy of the performance scene – doing a thing that terrifies her in the safety of pubs. Widely published in anthologies , magazines and webzines she writes to explain herself and the world to her children (and herself).

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Julian Dobson – 15 February, 2003

That February Saturday, you just eleven
and fire enough inside you to stop history.
Fire enough inside to last the journey,
the broken train, the biting wind.
What if they had listened?

They should have heard you. At Green Park
we found a wall, tight as a pigeon’s perch,
and scanned the crowds. One million people:
this is how to rage, I told you, when the placards
said Make Tea Not War.

If a million people march someone will listen.
I don’t know who said that now: a lesson
you disproved too young. After that, you fought
too many battles on your own, got bruised
too many times.

If a million people laugh someone might listen.
I’d like to think it true: one day we’ll laugh
until the ground shakes, laugh until foundations
crumble, laugh till every rotten branch
snaps from the tree.

We haven’t laughed enough. We need to laugh
like blizzards, laugh like floods, laugh
like desert heat. We need to board that train,
stand at their gates. We need to find our friends
again, link hands, laugh them to dust.

 

 

Julian Dobson lives in Sheffield and his poetry blog is at https://52poemsinayear.wordpress.com

Sarah J. Bryson – First Ward Student Nurse

First Ward Student Nurse

NHS Gynae, 1980

My ill-fitted turquoise dress is cinched with a silver-buckled belt,
my paper cap’s fixed with white Kirby grips, my polished lace-ups
are pulled-up tight. I’m so much taller than all the rest, awkward,
out of place as I wait outside the nursing office with the others

all in role-defined uniform. At last, led by Sister (a diminutive powerhouse
in her navy tunic and white linen cap) we swarm towards the door
of the first four-bedder where we cluster for the change-of-shift report
which is given, with a nod to the notion of confidentiality, in hushed tones.

They speak in a language new to me. The bi-lateral salpingo-oophorectomy’s
two days post -op and the drip’s still up, and next to her there’s a spontaneous
abortion who came in last night bleeding, then in the third bed a total
hysterectomy, on tomorrow’s list. We still need the husband’s consent.

We move to the second bay, stand outside the glass partition
to listen, and hear that the girl in bed six had an elective, although
the defining word is unsaid, then that her neighbour had a D&C,
and next to her, with her blonde hair spread on the pillow, a 19 year old

cervical cancer was this morning’s open and shut case.
I know what that means. She’s the same age as me. She’s still
drowsy – the anaesthetic’s not worn off, she’s still on half hourly obs;
she’s unaware yet of the facts, of what now is missing, the statistics,

the sweeping change in the course of her life, and we’re told
that the surgeon will be talking with her, and her parents
this afternoon. Nothing more is said on the matter, except to me.
‘Nurse Gibson, don’t lean,’ says Sister, glancing up,

‘Stand up straight. Look professional,’

Sarah J Bryson writes poems and short stories. She takes photos nearly every day and works as a hospice nurse, part-time.
Her work has been placed in competitions and published in various forms: in anthologies, in journals and on line.
She is a member of Oxford Stanza II.

Leeya Mehta – David and the Hummingbird

David and the Hummingbird
For Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

Joyce tells a story of the day
the bird flew into the shed
and would not leave;
it beat its wings until it fell
exhausted to the floor.

But it didn’t end like that,
nor was this the beginning—

The morning of the Kill,
the hummingbird flew through the open door
and circled round and round the blood
“It was not interested to feed,” she said,
but just to see and understand.

It went up into the rafters,
and then down again
towards the cement floor.
Its blues and greens dancing in
the light and dark;
the corners hiding it and then
like magic, letting it be seen.

David tried to make it leave;
first, sugar feeders lured it outside;
then, when it was noon, the
darkest noon they’d ever seen,
the thunder began.
He set the sugar water inside the garage door
“It must not starve,” he said.

The day was hurried, like the
wings—it beat and beat.
The world grew still behind the
murmur of the bird
as if to move, to breath, would be too much.

The rain was sheets of ice;
it pierced the ground, it tore into the hillside’s heart
forcing the mountains to slide and the roads to close.
At dusk the rain stopped, bringing on a night that had not known a day.
The sky cleared and that was when she said she knew
the bird’s heart had begun to burst,
“You could hear it banging in your ears.”

The small buzzing body lifted up to the
ceiling one last time and dropped.
From where it lay, the stag’s head was a foot away;
the eyes of the beast, strained and dead;
the bullet hole straight through its neck
revealed the moon in the night sky which shone
like a polished coin.

He picked it up, to rest it for the night
in a shoebox with soft muslin cloth.
She said, “Its eyes brimmed with tears.”
Was it fear? It did not tremble.
Was it relief? Did it not know it was only David?
And he said, “It is bereft. It must be saved.”

Then began the longest night.
He left the bird to sleep beneath
the stars. It did not know
the inside of their house.
It could get disoriented in that space.

He lay beside her, in
their bed, his ever faithful
heart racing beneath her hand.
Kindness cannot be measured by a single good deed—
a few here, a few there, some withheld.
Love measured out in spoons
as if it were a finite bucket of gold dust.

He would not sleep—
he tore the covers off
and shot down the stairs—
It would be cold, the raccoons might overturn the box.
The bird twitched and murmured in its sleep,
he put it on the garden table and
covered its feet.

Back in bed he tossed and turned—the coyotes would not spare its life
One a.m. and out he went again.
Carrying the box in, he saw its
eyes open and look at him.
What a strange look it gave, as if
there was no meaning there—
a still hard look, but liquid eyes,
as if it was not a bird to
speak of anything—
its mystery not a mystery at all
for it hid nothing
and revealed nothing both at once.

He sat beside it in the hall
he wrung his hands
he stood up
and paced and breathed
he towered over it, afraid of it
and yet he had to watch it once again.
It had been resting while he paced
now it turned its head
a movement so small an immeasurable dot in space
and looked up at him.
They stared into each other’s eyes
this grown man and this miniature creature of the flower world
Decades he had lived so well
this small bird seemed to know it too.

“What is the meaning of it all?” he asked aloud
The hummingbird closed its eyes and went to sleep.
He sat down again and prayed a while
As the bird’s breast rose and fell;
the morning light would bring it back;
he dreamed of it in his garden years from now.

As the sun came fiercely into the room
it was not clear any more who slept and who kept vigil—
the bird watched him as he slept
but closed its eyes again when he began to stir.
The hummingbird stayed with David until
the stag was gone, a day late, in the butcher’s van.
Their friends who’d shot the beast would send them some to taste.

David’s heart leapt with joy,
the sun was hot and the
little one was gathering its body and
shaking the sleep away.
He tried to catch its eye again, but it did not look at him,
and then, as if the night was no time to go,
as if it had tried for David’s sake alone,
it died under a blazing morning sun at eleven o’clock.

There are many sorts of men—
some of them are cruel to humans
and rescue animals; they are kind to dogs.
“Some men are good for all to see,
Some men are always good,” Joyce said to me.

Leeya Mehta’s poems have appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal (USA), Fulcrum (USA), Poetry London (UK), Kavya Bharati (India), Chandrabhaga (India), Beltway Poetry Quarterly and other publications, including a chapbook, The Towers of Silence (Aark Arts, UK, India, USA). She has been nominated by the Beloit Poetry Journal for a 2016 Pushcart Prize. Her short stories have appeared in Eclipse (USA), The Reader (UK), The Little Magazine (India), International Gallerie (India) and other publications. Leeya grew up in India and studied at Oxford University and at Georgetown University where she was editor-in-chief of The Georgetown Public Policy Review. She has published short stories, book reviews in Biblio: A Review of Books and feature articles in a number of journals, magazines and newspapers, including The Times of India.
You can find previously published work on: http://leeyamehta.blogspot.com/

Marie-Thérèse Taylor – Two Poems

1 – Moonstruck

That August orange moon
sags above my rooftop
too big for its sky

I’m standing well clear
till someone takes charge

2- The Wisdom of Canute

The persistent wave defies
his command to retreat
It is the correct order of things

The resistant tide presses
forward in certainty
obedient to a greater law

He welcomes the mocking froth
lapping his feet
as his young pup might

this much mastery is enough
despite insistent voices
obsequious urgings of anxious subjects

These do not matter
to this king who knows
wherein lie the limits

of liminal authority

M T Taylor has recently started to submit her work. She draws on everyone and everything… no one is safe. She is to be published in two print anthologies this year.

Matt Duggan – Pegida

Pegida

Roots of twisted logic surface from branches in blood
turning pages of old
flowering in the consciousness,
the revival of holocausts retold.

The shots rang out in the keepers of kosher
a man with deadened addicted eyes, wielding his Anti-Semitic silver
behind Parisian walls – a God dies.

Last time the Jewish people hid in cellars
a maniac galvanised the people marching in Hugo Boss black
crushing freedom like heels of veined sepal.

These roots can and will flourish when vulnerability clouds judgment,
fear is the blunt sickle that cannot cut stained by the rise of the repugnant.

In Dresden they returned in mass
outnumbering the frozen left, when governments mourn their own views
they disregard fragility from the repressed.

Now the mad men of Mujahideen have revived those brown shirts of old,
those Stomping jack-boots will march again,
monochrome soldiers in Acapulco gold.

Matt Duggan was born in 1971 in Bristol. He has had poems published in Roundyhouse, Apogee Journal, The Seventh Quarry, The Cobalt Review, Dwang, The Journal, The Dawntreader, Sarasvati, Poetry Quarterly and many more.

Allison Grayhurst – Two Poems

By This Love

By this love
we have learned to pluck
the honest word and place
it freely.
By this love
we have lived a good thing
unlike the things of dark regress.
We have robed the stick figures
of half-made breath in gold
and the scent of animals.
We have touched the minnow fish and the
primordial whale. The clouds speak to us
when lack of money hurts the gorgeous morning
and we are nightmarishly beckoned barefoot across
white ice. Then you tell me things of wild eternity
to keep my regrets from overtaking.
And how I love you
even when I am slipping headfirst
down the brownish stream.
Ours

When darkness fell
like soot upon my lashes,
when the medicine cabinet was open
and my addictions were spoiled,
when the bird feeder was rigged
and dreams were all I owned,
your smile raised me
and gave me dominion over
the music. You were my
mansion in the bloody winter before
adulthood, and somehow your hands
built me a ship to cross the heartache and the void.
Now I live with you in a world
of our child, in the miracle of togetherness and in the opening
of tomorrow’s years. We moved out of the wilderness
and found that love is all that can keep
our light from sinking. And so, our bed
is warm and our child is
as tender as a tiny finch, and just
as full of song.

Allison Grayhurst is a full member of the League of Canadian Poets. She has over 450 poems published in more than 225 international journals and anthologies. Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers in 1995. Since then she has published eleven other books of poetry and six collections with Edge Unlimited Publishing. Prior to the publication of Somewhere Falling she had a poetry book published, Common Dream, and four chapbooks published by The Plowman. Her poetry chapbook The River is Blind was published by Ottawa publisher above/ground press in December 2012. More recently, her e-chapbook Surrogate Dharma was published by Kind of a Hurricane Press, Barometric Pressures Author Series in October 2014. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay; http://www.allisongrayhurst.com

Some of places her work has appeared in include Parabola (summer 2012); Literary Orphans; Blue Fifth Review; The American Aesthetic; South Florida Arts Journal; Gris-Gris; The Muse – An International Journal of Poetry, Storm Cellar, New Binary Press Anthology; The Brooklyn Voice; Straylight Literary Magazine; The Milo Review; Foliate Oak Literary Magazine; The Antigonish Review; Dalhousie Review; The New Quarterly; Wascana Review; Poetry Nottingham International; The Cape Rock; Ayris; Journal of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry; The Toronto Quarterly; Fogged Clarity, Boston Poetry Magazine; Decanto; White Wall Review. 

Kathy Gee – Two Poems

The price of empathy

My country ought to be ashamed
to need so many rooms like these.
Darts of blue and red bleed sunlight
through the stained glass windows –
trestle tables, shelves of given food.
I am reminded of another shop
in crimson, dark, and cupboard-wide,
adorned with mirrors, brass and copper.
Slender fingers rose in ochre light –
ishroon’a – twenty. I protested.

Are you not American?
A smile embraces. British?
You are third world too. I understand.

Where are the women?
(Found poem)

Wolverley and Cookley,
Caunsall and Blakeshall..
Edited by Marcus Hart,
Conservative Matters.
Stephen Williams,
here with Ian Hardiman
MP Mark Garnier,
Councillor Gordon Yarranton
and Councillor John Hart.

Contact your local team.
Vote for choice.

Kathy lives in Worcestershire and has a parallel life working for museums and heritage. She’s had some thirty poems accepted in magazines and is now thinking about risking an entry to a pamphlet competition.

Andrew Walton – Two Poems

Write on

in response to the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Carbon-powered, a pocket-sized tree.

To inspire, educate, agitate, satirise.

Pricks pompous, powerful politicians.

Graphite forges words, coal-black and

As hard as diamond, but glides softly.

We need to fight to defend this wonder.

No to scapegoating, violence, or racism.

For free expression, protect human rights.

As censors rub out our freedom of speech.

And cartoon characters laugh at violence,

An indestructible force of human nature.

Powerful weapons, in the right hands

Can begin to heal the world.

Shattered, broken they lie.

Pencils write, develop

our consciousness.

Spirit lives on.

Fight back.

Unity to

Win.

If you ever . . .

If you ever want to rail and shout
Then do it. Let your feelings out.
It is good, sometimes, to rant and curse
At this unfair universe.

When life, as it will, gets you down
There is no need to wear a frown,
For I will lend a friendly ear
To vexation, frustration or despair.

If you ever, by accident, happen to chance
On Question Time – don’t look askance –
Perhaps your remote control is stuck, worse luck
Then I will give a Dimblefuck.

Or if the environment gets you vexed:
Big questions get you all perplexed,
Climate change, fracking, war, human rights
I’ll be there for you, in a string of bytes.

For friends are there to give a care
When the world is unjust and unfair.
A shoulder to cry on, a warming mug
Of comforting tea and a friendly hug.

Andrew Walton is a political poet, living in Leicester, with two self-published chapbooks – “Little Red Poetry” and “Little Green Poetry”. He is standing in the General Election for TUSC – the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which rejects austerity and is trying to build a better world for the many and not the few. His blog can be found at http://andrewwalton.wordpress.com

Kat Soini – On Walking Home At Night

On Walking Home At Night

The station smells of
piss and iron like
all the others in the country
(except for the ones
that smell like disappointment).

It’s full moon.
All the sheep are drinking beer,
trying to forget
that they are sheep,
and the wolves are at the back,
inside cars, with stereos turned
to full blast, and
in doorways, flashing their wares.

Behind the fence
green shoots push
past yesterday’s paper
and discarded crisp packets.
It’s beautiful.

I pass a nursing home,
pub,
school,
pharmacy where they sell
‘oh god please no, it can’t be’
tests;
life in reverse.

At the church yard,
vegetation is fighting back,
aggressively reclaiming ground,
shoving spring down my lungs
like earth into an open grave.

Under the street light
the tree blossoms glow neon orange.
I stand there for long minutes,
head tipped back, mouth
open, breathing, breathing,
while the ambulances go past and
a black cat crosses the road.

Friday night.
Almost home.

Kat Soini is a Finn living in the UK, trying to keep a foot in each country but often falling somewhere in between. An over-educated academic by day, she’s been writing fiction and poetry for a long time and is finally getting organised enough to actually put it out there for strangers to read. Recent publications can be found in poetandgeek.com, The Missing Slate and Glitterwolf. A geek at heart, she is fond of all things otherworldly as well as woolly socks, cats, tulips and cinnamon-hazelnut coffee. Kat blogs at https://katsoini.wordpress.com