Tim Cresswell – Four Poems

List sonnet on justice

Striking north over Brooklyn, Sam reads billboards
laughing at one which says – for justice call
( 3 1 8 ) 5 6 8 – 1 2 3 4
kicking off a kind of catalogue

           For peace… Send a stamped, addressed envelope
           Equality….25% off, one week only
           Beauty!…like us on Facebook!

Well, I know you know how that poem goes.

So perhaps I would let myself ramble
Like Ginsberg. Like Whitman. Like America.

Billboards, oversize flags, sincere
New England apples, brown bodies and red barns

maples in fall, the calls of children with yarmulkes playing softball in the parking lot.

But I was left with a sonnet and a sad refrain
We’re not in right now. So please leave your name….

 

Karl Marx in Tesco
(after Allen Ginsberg)

            I saw you, Karl Marx, stateless, lonely aged prophet,
in Tesco, wandering the aisles looking for a bargain.
            I heard you muttering to yourself: “What are sun dried tomatoes?
Where is the sauerkraut? What price potatoes?
            I followed you between the detergents and the ice cream as you
read the Ben and Jerry’s carton chuckling gorgeously.
            Together we strolled down lines marked “ethnic foods”
imagining a world without labels, possessing everything we need
and never paying once.
            Where are we going Karl Marx? The store closes soon.
Which way does your beard point tonight?

            Will we march through the years down tree-lined suburban streets? 
Two cars to every perfect house, warnings on the lawns of dogs, 
alarms and closed circuit television? And us alone? 
            Ah dear prophet, greybeard, stubborn old courage teacher, 
what history did you foresee when Lenin stormed the citadel as you 
lay dead in Highgate: was it this?

 

Life in the Anthropocene

We loved the Jurassic with its ferns
and stegosaurs, charismatic megafauna
on cards in teabag packets.

All that hum and blunder squeezed and stacked
till liquid and thickblack
for us to suction out and burn.

Ozymandias has nothing on us!
Choosing shades on colour charts, installing
shelves with plumb bobs and spirit levels.

Scattergrams and isopleths, lattices
of halogen across the plains. Protons looped
under Switzerland. Measurements in milliseconds.

 

Dendrochronology

here the factories came alive
        the era of trains
        ozone and petroleum
Hiroshima
        contrails across the sky
the week in Magaluf
        humvees
        the end of elms
        the rise of rhododendrons
        recession and recovery

a summer when the rain held off
        an unexpected frost
a year that lingered
        a year that flew
steady rise of isotopes
        fate of honey bees

here too was love
when rain dripped
through the canopy
on lovers taking shelter
in each other

in its bark
my mark
once freshly knifed
and full of love and sap
now gnarled and whorled
but visible.
Look.

Tim Cresswell is a geographer – poet who has published widely in poetry magazines in the UK. Since moving from London to Boston in the summer of 2013 his work has started to appear in American and Canadian magazines including Riddlefence, Spiral Orb and Soul.Lit. His first collection, Soil was published by Penned in the Margins in 2013. He is currently working on his second collection – erratic. He is also the author of five books on the themes of place and mobility.

 

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Michael Scott – Six pence an inch for Little usherette

Six pence an inch for Little usherette

Little usherette, a hundred shiny latex lashes anemone your eyes. You are Albert Pierrepoint contemplating just the one more. THUD! In this witless place of least resistance you beckon me aboard the milking stool. Your hood is my hood with eyeholes, are we the same person with a front row view? I smell the wrong sort of hemp and hear knitting needles click. A kick, a trap door – a neck unravelling crunches like a pound shop monkey wrench. My this that and the other hits a void, slides into space, stretches.

 

Michael Scott is from Swindon, his work has been published by And Other Poems, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, Verse Kraken (online) and The Morning Star.

Six pence an inch for Little usherette‘ is the final poem in a sequence of 25 poems (25 being the usual number of seats across a traditional cinema row* unless it’s a drive-in movie show in which case the average row tends to have slightly over 2 seats). The ‘Little usherette‘ sequence began at a poetry night in London as I gazed at the poet reading and imagined that she was playing chess with me using a 12 pack of Krispy Kreme donuts as pieces. The poet also looked like a cinema usherette in my world of velvet curtains. As I walked along Old Brompton Road explaining this to Hilda Sheehan, we passed the graveyard, crossed the road and Little usherette began to follow me, always the same, always slightly not.
 
* I made this up as I wrote this description of Little usherette came to be, I have no idea of, or interest in, the usual width of a cinema row.
 

Carrie Etter – Two Poems

Arcadia, or Something Like It

 

 
after Bob Dylan’s “Who Killed Davey Moore?” and Virgil’s first eclogue

 
 
Before everyone excused themselves of the boxer’s death,
Arcadia, or something like it, prospered. Two shepherds met
under a beech’s ample canopy.
 

One, prostrate on the summer grass, spoke in the drawl of leisure.
The other stood with his back against the sun; he spoke
of the soldiers gifted with his land
 

and lamented his imminent emigration.
The pipe-player replied with apples, chestnuts,
 

curdled milk, the bounty that would satisfy
those who were sated.
 
 
 
 

 
 

Soporific Red

 

 
 
The high street reddens with holiday,
and in your want of a rudder, the abundant dye
seeps upward, colours your trouser cuffs.
 
Already you wonder whether you’ll have to pay
for the unordered dish, the neighbourhood flavour.
Already you’re keen to roll it on your tongue.
 
On the fifth day of rain, home truths
seem irrelevant. It’s a soporific red
divining the high street, blinding your hands.
 
It’s a siren, ineluctable, inaudible, at your ear.

 
 
American poet Carrie Etter has lived in England since 2001 and taught creative writing at Bath Spa University since 2004. She has published three collections of poetry: The Tethers (Seren, 2009), winner of the London New Poetry Prize, Divining for Starters (Shearsman, 2011) and Imagined Sons (Seren, 2014); she also edited the anthology Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets (Shearsman, 2010). Individual poems have appeared in Boston Review, The New Republic, The New Statesman, Poetry Review, The Times Literary Supplement, and many other journals worldwide. She also reviews contemporary poetry, most recently for The Guardian and Warwick Review. More information is available on her blog at http://carrieetter.blogspot.com. Arcadia, or Something Like It and Soporific Red were both first published in The Tethers (Seren, 2009).

Richard Devereux – Bitter Lemons

Bitter Lemons

Cyprus, 1974

Lemons weep
the tears of Aphrodite.
Bitter lemons –
these are the fruit
this earth considers hers.

The lemon tree is nourished
in a rich potash
of blood, whole corpses and tears;
ensuring the yield
of another bitter crop.

The lemon tree
remembers only
bitter lemons.

 

Richard Devereux is a member of the Lansdown Poets in Bristol. He has read this year at the Cheltenham and Nailsworth Poetry Festivals. His first love is Greece; he is currently absorbed in writing about his grandfather – a soldier of the First World War in Salonica.

Marilyn Hammick – Two Poems

Suffrage

Many years ago I lived in Iran. I learnt how to bargain so merchants believed me when I said this city is my home. I watched foreign women married to local men withstand the desert sun to salute the Shah and his Empress. I listened to students reciting Ferdowsi, Hafez, Saadi as they paced our street.

 

When I returned years later there were Tehran University banners with my name, date, time, lecture title. My first task was to not show my hair; one strand can fill a man with lust. My second task was to remember not to shake hands with the men who greeted me. My third task was not to ask questions about the forthcoming presidential election.

 

At home, I listen to reports of people filling Tehran’s streets looking for their lost votes. People wearing green scarves, green ribbons, green shawls: symbols of their revolution. People I might know: professors, students, friends.

 

I read about Neda Agha-Soltan, her music teacher, many, many others defying the Ayatollah, about the tear gas, the bullets. How Neda’s blood soaked a Tehran street. How Neda looked into Emad’s camera-phone, the image of her suffrage digitised.

 
Jubilee

I board the train at Waterloo, squeezing in with strangers.
A plugged-in lad breathes angry silence as his legs

are grazed by hamburger gripped in a petite fist.
Bodies stiffen at her Mother’s ignored apology.

By Bermondsey the juice on his thighs has dried,
a stiletto tall woman offers Mum a seat,

she enjoys her supper, comforts her papoosed baby.
Between Canada Water and Canary Wharf the floor

is littered with half a chip, ketchuped tissues,
the cellophane wrappings from a straw and the child

legs outstretched offering up undone laces,
unknown fingers reaching to fasten double knots.


Marilyn writes (and reads) when travelling, during still moments at home in England and France, recalling a childhood in New Zealand and years living in Iran. She tweets @trywords and blogs at
glowwormcreative.blogspot.co.uk

Frank Dullaghan – Gaza Haiku

Gaza Haiku

 

who sees
the sunlight that falls
after the bombs?

the little you have –
how can you bring it back
with your home blown open?

your home
will not be your home –
they come with their guns

a child
with her brains spilled –
still the bombs fall

a knock on the door –
you leave everything behind
go with your life

 

Frank Dullaghan lives in Dubai. He has an MA Distinction in Writing from the University of South Wales. His 3rd collection of poetry – The Same Roads Back – will be launched by Cinnamon Press at the Poetry Cafe, London, on 29th October 2014.

Jane Clarke – Two Poems

Cut

I have grown accustomed to questions:
where do you come from, how long
are you here, why did you leave?

My answers say little but seem to satisfy;
how to describe sunrise across the savannah,
my father and brothers following a herd

of camels and goats or seated at noon
beneath thorn trees for shade? Who would believe
why my mother took me away,

that some morning after prayers, the women
would come for me, hold me firm for Maryan
who wields the stone-sharpened blade?

How to imagine the darkness of days in the hut,
the mat of long grasses, the ointment of myrrh
offered with love to stem the blood?

First published in Today’s Children, Tomorrow’s World, Trocaire & Poetry Ireland, 2013

 

Before the war

these hills were peopled with trees,
everywhere, grey olive groves
stood old and gnarled as history,

sending silver-leafed branches
wandering wide and low
through the lives of those

who measured their wealth
in oil, crossed a friend’s
threshold with oil, blessed

their children with oil,
who set the orchards singing
with the crack of sticks

on winter branches, plop of fruit
falling to blankets, laughter of girls
holding baskets, balanced and full.

First published in the North, No. 50: 2013

Jane Clarke is widely published in both Ireland and the UK and is completing her first collection. She has won many awards, the most recent being the 2014 Listowel Writer’s Week Poetry Collection Prize. She holds an MPhil in Writing from the University of South Wales. www.janeclarkepoetry.ie

Kate Noakes – Two Poems

Street prince

Phone box boy sleeps in a glass coffin,

knees tucked up round his face,

the booth is steamed by his warmth.

 

I don’t think of him again till the top

of the metro steps at night.

He greets me from under his hood,

with an inky hand shakes

coins in half a Coke bottle, says thanks.

 

He’s not my child, but he needs me today

before he curls up

and waits to be buried in the sky.

 
 

Milk

 Three bottles of thick milk

on the doorstep, day in, day out,

my childhood a race to its creamy

gold top against my sister

and clever blue tits; disappointment

on frozen mornings in lollies of foiled ice

we’d have loved if it were summer.

 

That was when birds were well-fed,

before the unkind woman snatched

thirds of a pint from our recess, before

skinny soya, black tea and forgetting Britishness,

before I knew my body could bring it

forth, could gorge and tingle, burst

and overflow for a tiny mouth

to sore my nipples into hard fruit.

 

Kate Noakes, Welsh academician and poet, is co-founder of Paris Lit Up (parislitup.com). Her most recent collection is I-spy and Shanty from corrupt press (2014). Her next, Tattoo on Crow Street, is out with Parthian in 2015.  She blogs at boomslangpoetry.blogspot.com

Siegfried Baber – Lille

Lille

Look, stranger, they’ve built a second city
here in the spaces between
the railway tracks and pylons.
Shirtless caravan-people – whose entire lives
can be stuffed into Carrefour bags, quickly
slipped under the soles of their shoes
at the scream of a siren –
have wedged themselves in the cracks
beneath the bypass,
and sent their children weeping
off to stations and supermarkets
to rattle beggar’s cups.
We give just enough loose change
to help us forget they ever existed.
Now look again – see that pyramid of coins,
that burning pile of rubber tyres?

 

Siegfried Baber lives and works in Bath, Somerset, and his poetry has featured in various publications including The Interpreter’s House, Butcher’s Dog Magazine, Ink Sweat & Tears and Peleton, the 2013 Templar Anthology. He is currently working his debut pamphlet The Baby with the Baboon’s Heart. You can follow him on Twitter @SiegfriedBaber

George Szirtes – Five Poems

Postcolonial Operations: Malaysia

September. Morning.
Here the peaceable kingdom,
pale and serious.

Foreign languages
blossom in corners. Far off
bright blooms. Acts of speech.

On the hot island
food is served, chairs are wiped down,
nation building starts.

One thinks of angels
at their impossible angles
slipped into language.

Between languages
the hot day explains itself
using simple terms.

Puritans close down
the cinema of the soul,
yelling at the light.

Into September.
Into crispness. Into evening.
Into the clock’s face.

Back to the empire.
Back to old rites of passage.
Late sun. Darkness. Song.


In The Country of the Heart

I couldn’t remember if I had left my heart in the right place. There is a place for everything.

My heart was on a train heading for the right place but would it get there on time?

My heart was in one of two places, neither of them right.

Must you talk about your heart, they asked. We’ll be the judges of that.
 
 

They were looking into my mouth but it was my heart they were looking for so I produced a heart for them.

Is this your heart, they asked. You don’t want to leave it lying about the place.

May we direct you to the right place for your heart, they asked, indicating their batons.

I was able to demonstrate that my heart was in the right place. That seemed to satisfy them.
 
 

All our hearts were in the right place. It was getting crowded in there.

Too many hearts in one place. We were having trouble orientating ourselves.

Our hearts were joined in one big heart. Our hearts were full to overflowing

My eyes were closed, my mouth was wide open and shouting, my liver had gone missing, but my heart was in the right place.


Oil Slick

The first time we struck oil
We were covered in the stuff
I was slicker than a seal
It was hard to scrape it off.

The deeper sank the well
The higher rose the spurt
The smoother the gears moved
The more we hit pay dirt.

We swam through seas of oil
In sheets of heavy slack,
Dark statues of the glib,
A sculpture park of black.

Well-oiled we drifted past
Planets of black suns
Our memoranda viscous
Paradigms and puns,

Deaths, loves, pipedreams, plans
In plumage dense with glue,
We’d written ourselves out.
Now we were through, quite through.

 

All That is Solid

She is dry leaf, parchment, batwing, husk, a skim of earth. She is asleep yet awake, mobile yet collapsing. She is thinking.
*
Between wake and sleep there is only a flimsy, almost invisible sheet. It is onion-skin, India-paper: a brittle integument easily broken.
*
The will to control is strong. She owns a life. It must be hers. Whose else could it be? Whose is this skin, this half-dream?
*
Once there was a state of affairs. It was quite specific. If she could be specific now it would make an act of will, a document, a film.
*
Figures move about the room but are not precisely here. They are breath turned into presence. They are elsewhere and are obliged to be.
*
The present is not entirely present, she thinks. The past is a landscape shrouded in fog. She opens her eyes and drinks it down.
*
She treads a ground that is not entirely solid, but then, she feels, neither is she. All that is solid will melt. So let it melt.
*
Mind hovers between sense and matter. Is that her hand shaking? It is hardly shaking. It is the merest tremor. Not even that.
*
The air is glass. To walk is to move through glass, each step a moment frozen, glazed, perfected, the panes crashing behind her.
*
The room is full of ghosts. But where else are they to go? Let flesh enter them, she thinks. Let them seek their own bones. Let them pass.

 

TYPO
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anyone else, these rages will show.

1.
It was the rages he flew into
whenever she appeared
in the bathroom mirror.

It was not the mirror
but the page that appeared
that she flew into.

2.
He was getting in touch
with his feminine side,
with Agnes and Dora.

But he was not about to become Dora
or Agnes. It was one side
or the other he had to touch.

3.
He was the hero of his life.
She was the love of his life.
(Or possibly her life).

The rest was rages.
A matter of turning the rages.
Not to forget the writing of all those rages.


George Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948 and came to England as a refugee in 1956 following the Hungarian Uprising. He is the author of some fifteen books of poetry in English and roughly the same of translation from Hungarian fiction and poetry into English. He won the T S Eliot Prize for his book Reel (2004) and has been shortlisted for his two following books, The Burning of the Books (2009) and Bad Machine (2013). His New and Collected Poems appeared in 2008. His translation of László Krasznahorkai’s Sarantango won the Best Translated Book Award in the USA in 2013, and his book for children, In the Land of the Giant was awarded the CLPE prize for best book of poems for children in the UK in the same year. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in England and of the Széchenyi Academy of Arts and Letters in Hungary.