Paul Jeffcutt – Morning

Morning

Near Elephant and Castle
eight lie in cardboard
bunched at the foot of
a block of flats

Teenagers yawn
jape and blather
in the cemetery
of sleepers

Hoar frost glistens
drain pipes seep
one of St Mungo’s
stops and asks

 

Paul Jeffcutt has won prizes for poetry in England, Scotland, Ireland and the USA. His debut collection of poetry, Latch, was published by Lagan Press in 2010 and was chosen by The Ulster Tatler as their Book of the Month. He co-hosts The Squat Pen, a regular series of literary events that take place across the island of Ireland.

http://www.pauljeffcutt.net

Rachel Bower – Yarl’s Wood

Yarl’s Wood

(A Palimpsest Translation of Anne Askew’s “The Ballad Which Anne Askew Made and Sang When She Was in Newgate, 1546”)

Detained without trial,
no hum of faith but
she is my shield –
sister with the voice of bronze
that rings out as we squint
through the two-inch gap
in mirrored glass.
No human is illegal.
We remain belly strong
and our force will prevail,
even as you call
for our removal.
I feel her great-grandma’s
fingers locked between mine
waking the women in my bones:
we are bolder than we were.
It is not enough to ask
and wait to receive
or expect open doors –
we have nothing to lose but our chains.
Set her free.
There are many many more of us than you.
And even though we are locked in
and even though they call us by our room numbers
Avocet 123, come to your unit
she is Sapphire to me.
We put our cloths out.
They told us to take it off.
Our toilet tissue streams through the gap
and we hear them.
No borders! No nations! Stop deportation!
Take down this wall.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
We are fighting for you.
Justice is not sitting on her throne.
When they attack, we fight back.
They lifted me like a sack of potatoes.
Dove 321, to your Unit.
A ribbon of blood-orange air
trickles through
the crack in the glass
and I open my mouth and drink.
I will come back and sing
to women like me
when I’m free –
we are here because you are there.
Perhaps they know not what they do
but when they do it to me
they do it to you.
No human is illegal.

Rachel Bower is a Leverhulme Research Fellow at the University of Leeds and a Poet in Residence at Bank St Arts in Sheffield. She is currently editing an anthology with Helen Mort, to be published by Valley Press in June 2017. She is also currently working on a collection about pregnancy and birth, and is the founder of Verse Matters, a monthly feminist arts night in Sheffield. More information about her work can be found on her website: 

https://rachelbowerwrites.wordpress.com 

Myfanwy Fox – Bleachers

Bleachers

Excited white sheets line-up
in regular suburban yards
riding storm-force gusts
that rattle picket fences.

Pale clouds scud, darkening
like imagined demons rising
camouflaged in pastel shades,
obscuring light.

Who’ll draw attention now
to dirty linens once kept under wraps,
soaked, scrubbed and rinsed
to preserve a respectable finish?

This town ain’t big enough
for a burning cross not to attract
attention in the early hours of wet
heat Mississippi nights.

Now stains are cause for pride
no longer secret zealotry;
bleach a negative stain
across once-dark blood.

Petra Vergunst- Folktale

Folktale
A damp evening – a selkie tale
kinsfolk gathered
in the dark fisherman’s croft
 
Told and told again
the mystery of this seal woman
whose skin
her husband had hidden
 
Hanging onto every word
we foresee every twist of the tale
but prod for yet another retelling
 
knowing that the shape shifting
is now salt in a larger sea
the skin we settle on
 
 
Petra Vergunst is a writer based in the northeast of Scotland. Inspired by local landscape and heritage her work investigates the multi-layered relationships we maintain with our natural and historical environments. Her narrative poem Embrace will be published in March 2017. Imagine and Folktale were written as part of Edgelands, a poetry project in which she investigates what lead (Scottish) fishing communities to vote for Brexit.
 

Chris Hemingway – Home

Home

I make my home among timeless things.
The hills, the valley,
the neck of the river.

Borders, boundaries,
sketches on a map.
Limiting land with language and law.

Listen hard,
There are words of guarding,
not sharing.
The country hasn’t spoken,
the country knows,

my breath will not choke the air.
My sweat will not make the rivers swell.
My feet will not cause bridges to crumble

I make my home among timeless things.
Compassion, community,
a sense of whole.

 

Chris Hemingway is a poet and singer-songwriter from Cheltenham. He has self-published two collections (“The Future” and “Cigarettes and Daffodils” on lulu.com) and has read at Cheltenham Poetry and Literature Festivals. He is also developing a WordPress Blog and Facebook Group “Tell Me Everything You Know About Poetry, I’ve Got 15 Minutes”, title taken from a quote attributed to Phil Ochs.

 

Peter Wyton – Petal Power

Petal Power
.
Holland, a clever country, used to have
A solely tulip based economy.
Why would you only have a single flower
To represent your entire currency.
 .
Let’s have floral, not financial markets,
Deal in delphiniums or hollyhocks,
A Wall Street with wall-to-wall wallflowers,
A stock exchange totally stocked by stocks.
 .
We could buy choc eggs with Easter lilies
And, at one inexpensive blow
Slay the great dragon of Christmas spending
Using a huge armful of mistletoe.
 .
Don’t tell the government. Our Treasury
Won’t be convinced, according to reports.
Our Chancellor’s so mean he’ll not even
Offer you a peony for your thoughts.
.
.
.
Peter Wyton has 8 collections to his name. His work has been anthologised widely, including the O.U.P Anthology of War poetry. He has presented his poetry at festivals & arts centres throughout the British Isles

Sharon Larkin – Media mind-meld

Media mind-meld

Swept along by memes and tropes, false narratives
of what is freedom, what is love, where true honor
lies, lies are swallowed down as tranquilizer-palliatives,
veins invaded for transfusions of a bitter humor.
Procedures seem to offer us some greater good
but no one has a notion about what is best for all.
We have blinkers on, or blinders if you will, can’t feed
on food that’s faked through plasma screens that pull
our rods and cones out of shape, blur perception
so we squint and fail to see each other eye to eye,
tuning ears to hear the news we choose to channel,
train pupils so that insight’s merely tunnelled vision.
In ignorance, we asked for bliss: illusion’s pale blue pill.
Pursuing truth, we’re free to grasp the blood-red reality.

.

.

.
Sharon Larkin has been published in anthologies (Cinnamon, Eyewear, Indigo Dreams); magazines (e.g. Prole, Obsessed with Pipework, Here Comes Everyone) and e-zines (including Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Stare’s Nest and Clear Poetry). She jointly runs Cheltenham Poetry Café – Refreshed, is Chair of Cheltenham’s Arts Council and Poetry Society, runs Kickstart poetry workshops in Cheltenham and is founder/editor of the Good Dadhood on-line Poetry project. She has an MA in creative writing and a passion for Welsh language, literature and history. Website: https://sharonlarkinjones.com/

Kathryn Metcalfe – Men Who Weep.

Men Who Weep.

Captains of industry,
senators, honourable gentlemen,
Allow me to redefine terror, for you.

Our troops out in the Middle East,
on heat baked streets,
fodder for friendly fire and suicide attacks.
Should fear you more
than the Syrian
draped over the crumpled corpse
of child or brother.
Beating fists on cracked earth,
crying and praying.
Blood blotting through the faded cotton
of his tunic.

While you sleep in cool linen
through clammy western nights.
Expensive suits that do not crease
contain you.
Black gold oozes through your veins.

So civilly regretful
Anonymous, inscrutable.

You terrify me.

 

Kathryn Metcalfe has been published previously in anthologies and magazines. She is a member of the ‘Mill Girl Poets’ who wrote and performed a show featuring poetry, spoken word and song about the lives and history of the Paisley thread mill workers which has been performed at the Glasgow West End Festival and recently at the Edinburgh Fringe. She also founded and runs a Poetry& Spoken Word Open Mic which has been running over 2 years.

 

Claire Walker – Let’s Talk About the Weather.

Let’s Talk About the Weather

I worry that our seasons are lost.
Days I thought maps predicted
have vanished as if only conjured.

Sky hangs, streaked and heavy,
as though it forgot how to smile,
or fears what comes next.

There was honour in winter:
neighbours shovelling paths clear
in the soft pad of dawn;

the certainty of snowdrops,
their February end rolling
into temperate Spring.

Rays of summer
warming grass and our skin,
leading on to months

when trees handed down their red
and gold; when people knew leaves
were beautiful in every colour.

 

Claire Walker’s poetry has been published in magazines, anthologies and webzines including The Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat and Tears, Clear Poetry, Prole, and The Chronicles of Eve. Her first pamphlet, The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile, is published by V. Press. She has recently become a Poetry Reader for Three Drops from a Cauldron.
Her website is https://clairewalkerpoetry.com

 

Carol Caffrey – Post-Partum

Post-partum
Night cloaks all living things
and earth itself holds its breath;
wildfires flicker here and there
while other patches
of the wasted land shrivel
under smoke and ash.
When day exhales at last a snapping twig,
rustle in the windless trees, brings suspicion not relief.
 .
We are in the debatable lands now,
no longer speak in the easy ways.
Within the borders of silence
we take a breath, take someone’s
measure before we ask:
which way did you vote, then?
 .
 .
 .
Carol Caffrey is an Irish ex-pat (should that be immigrant?) living in the UK since the early 90s, and as well as writing she performs a one-woman play  “Music for Dogs”, by former Ireland professor of Poetry, Paula Meehan.  (http://musicfordogs.weebly.com)