Watching Boat People on TV
Pick one of these lives to hold
in the palm of your hand
examine its shift and tremble
like a rice grain, or even, husk
blown by a sea breeze over the field,
or beyond the cliff, back into the sea
where it came from, where we all,
if we were to admit it, came from.
An image, after all, is no more than
light signalling ghosts
for our minds to interpret
nothing tangible but a glass screen
no stench of vomit or rotting flesh.
Turn off the cries with finger and thumb.
Easy to fence ourselves in, with face masks,
massage, IPODs and this year’s car.
Easy to count something other
into your dreams, nod at the head on the news
who suggests they go home,
as if rice grain or husk has choices.
I wonder if, one day, our ghosts
will grow heavy as anchors
or bob on the sea like thousands
of unsinkable tombs.
Adrienne’s poetry and stories have appeared in the small press, including anthologies Miracle and Clockwork (Other Poetry) The Clock Struck War (Mardibooks), and The Other Side of Sleep (Arachne Press). She recently published her first poetry pamphlet Taking Responsibility for the Moon with Mudfog Press. Her first novel Vermin (Flambard) was published in 2000. Her second novel Controlling Aphrodite was shortlisted for the Virginia Prize 2009. Her third novel The Kiss is published on kindle. She has written two poetic sequences Flight Path and The Fibonacci Sequence, and performed her poetry at the West Yorkshire Playhouse with Voices of Women.
The Roots of Empathy
The valley is a V
As all valleys must be.
We live on one downward side;
Our enemies live on the other.
In the bottom of the V is a river:
Wide, deep, fast, unfordable.
We shout insults to our enemies
On the other side.
They shout back.
Years ago, one of them
Managed to get over the river,
But we caught him and hung him to death.
He was just a boy, strong and fair.
We were surprised to see
How much he looked like you and me,
And how his private parts,
Hanging from the inverted V,
Looked very much like ours.
Robin Kidson was born and bred in a remote part of rural Northumberland but now lives near Bristol. He can occasionally be heard reciting his poems in the various poetry venues of that city – including the Lansdown pub in Clifton. He is a Newcastle United supporter but doesn’t require any sympathy.
As gypsy, tramp or troubadour, I wander
through the two-doored office of the Borough:
ailing benefactor, dying god decrepit.
The keeper keeps me waiting, aching
in this cubicle beneath dire lighting.
She is warder to the meagre hoard,
squandered birthright of the people,
coffers of the unrequited tithe.
I am rootless, roofless, but for these shoes,
my broad hat of brimmed leather;
she, no draconian, dresses in dragon-hide;
lizard riddles, pretty, encrusted armour,
soft compliments that turn blood.
I know six-thousand trusted spells for “help,”
releasing them in spinning volleys.
She deflects each one with cantrips, holy-signs –
eye of gecko, sprig of holly, spray of yarrow –
we are wholly rung-around with echoes.
No give, no chink or niche, I am cast out.
A wall of brick, a barricade but not a house.
Gram Joel Davies lives in Somerset, UK. You can read his recent work in The Journal, The Lake, Spontaneity and others. He reads with Juncture 25 poets. He tweets @poplarist.
Racked by cramp and dumped out of bed, he lies on the dusty floor.
The crash of the bedside table wakens the dread from his dreams
as he stretches out unwelcome knots, and remembers
a warren of dust-bunnies covering the books,
the straggly beard of an overgrown bush in the front
that needed an overdue shave,
conservatory greenery, now dry and yellow, to throw in a sack,
a hole in the flooring where rain came in
with mycelium crumbling the boards,
a tight cubby-hole with shelves spewing old poison,
Lino with edges to trip the unwary,
overgrown garden …crying, …crying
…………………………………….for weeks of back-breaking Labour.
It’s the early hours of May 10th, stagnant air thick with decay.
The window is closed against night-time revellers
who kick their cans on the pavement.
An orange glow seeps through the curtains
to pick out his tumbler and splash on wall –
stripping is not on the morning’s agenda.
The old house is in mourning for Red and Yellow
swept away by a surge of Blue.
Their parties must mend rotting boards,
fill skip after skip,
find some fresh paint;
get down on their knees to pull up the weeds,
speak to the Scots who’ve been canny.
Rubble is searched for the tiles that are loose,
litter the floor from the back hall to the gate.
They are sorted, cleaned and carefully graded,
…………………to create a sure-footed path for the future.
Richard Carpenter is a GP who, in retirement, decided to try creative writing to see if there was reason for his English teacher being so angry over fifty years ago when he chose the science route. He is a member of York Stanza.
In Praise of Howling
‘In such times, it’s either howl dementedly, or write poems dipped in battery acid.’
Neil Fulwood (TSN May 29th 2015)
Oh, howl dementedly
for all who can’t work but must work,
for all who are forced to share the rooms in their house,
for those who have been beaten or shouted out
of their family homes.
Oh, howl dementedly
for those who can’t bear their dreams of Afghanistan,
except in parks or under railway viaducts,
for those who dread going back, but aren’t allowed to stay,
for those who want to work, but are forbidden,
so those who can’t can be made to take their places.
Oh, howl dementedly
for those who can’t rest after 50 years of work,
for those who have no recourse to the law,
for those who have no money for recourse to the law
to regain the savings swindled from them.
Oh, howl dementedly
for those who have no money for the bus
to reach the interview for a job to pay their bus fares,
for those who spend more time filling quotas than healing,
for those who spend more time assessing than teaching.
Oh, howl dementedly
for those who have to feed from foodbanks,
for those who have to feed from skips behind supermarkets,
for those who go hungry outside restaurants,
whose cardboard pleas are rarely read.
Oh howl dementedly,
but forget about the moon.
Do it as the wolves really do,
Simon Williams has written poetry for 35 years. It ranges widely, from quirky pieces often derived from news items or science and technology, to biographical themes, to the occasional Clerihew. He has five published collections, the latest being A Place Where Odd Animals Stand (Oversteps Books, 2012) and Wastrels (Paper Dart Press, 2015). Simon founded the magazine, The Broadsheet (www.thebroadsheet.moonfruit.com). He makes a living as a journalist.
a spotted gecko blends
in its terrarium. Stub toes dig in.
He works out diet plans,
fixes the heat of plug-in stones
so homeostasis is maintained.
For weeks he observes.
Both of them have learned a stealth
that belongs to worlds before words.
Apart from his own folk,
he too needs Exo Terra rocks
and other thermo-regulating tricks.
All night he studies.
Spellchecks camouflage uncertainty.
His thesis finds a silent empathy
with captive macularius.
Hot days, they find shady areas,
and shutters wipe stone eyes.
Helen Kay is a dyslexia tutor and lover of chicken towns. Her first pamphlet, A Poultry lover’s Guide to Poetry was published in May 2015 (Indigo Dreams).
It’s always a fine line,
come the reckoning time
for the slow and weak to be picked off the herd;
while we, still in the race
to stay out of bottom place,
can kid ourselves they got what they deserved.
They were finally caught out
for all that loafing about
while we in the warm will trample each other.
Because I’m alright Jack,
I’ve got my own back;
and I’m just fast enough to use you for cover.
I’m safe in the middle,
but they’re on the fiddle,
while that poor chap couldn’t have been keener.
I’ll be sad to see him gone,
but he was never very strong;
you see, my friends and I, we voted Hyena.
Harry Gallagher co-founded and co-runs The Stanza, a monthly poetry night in Newcastle. He gigs regularly across the North and his poetry has been published widely. In 2014 he co-authored “Dark Matter 3” (Black Light Engine Room Press) and his pamphlet, “How It Is: Snapshots From A Northern Town” (Heddon Quarry) is released in June 2015.
Spring sun. We grow again, push through soil,
devouring light and water.
Like Archillea millefolium,
the ferny flower which dies back
in winter but revives in spring.
I stroke its buds.
Or the seeded ones, the fresh arrivals
cradled in hundreds of plastic pots.
We nurse them towards the light
until they grow on us. Petals.
Healing leaves. Roots
firming up in plastic heat.
The hose hisses, drips on the ground.
The flowers breathe in, breathe out.
In need of air and sky
I step outside our polythene temple
astonished that I breathe,
astonished to reach another May.
So let me gaze at Sanvitalia speciosa
with buttercup yellow flowers
perfect for baskets and bowls,
its habits unobtrusive.
It doesn’t grow too high or fast.
It lies low. It survives.
Peter Adair lives in Bangor, Co Down. Pen Points Press has distributed a broadsheet of his winning poem in the 2015 Translink Smart Movers competition. A poem is forthcoming in Panning for Poems at poetryni.com
Exit Poll Wetherspoons
He is the Trafford and Hulme CAMRA guy
I like drinking and writing poetry
They do fell-running at weekends
She is a manager, best job she’s ever had
She has a beehive hairdo, she’s in a Supremes
tribute act, they made it to the States last year,
they’re planning to go back.
He took his kids to Eurodisney,
they were just the right age
of hardened drinkers
no longer with us
the crumpled faces
We should work more
We should work less
There’s always the lottery
She’s going to the pictures, she’s treating herself
He’s putting all his old football shirts
on ebay – under duress
He hasn’t spoken to him in over two years
as far as he’s concerned they
inhabit different countries
Ben Willems lives in Manchester and has been writing poetry for over 10 years, a lot of it performance-based. His work has featured in The Recusant and Manchester’s Citizen 32 magazine and elsewhere.