Wednesday, 12 June 2019

A Cilician Pirate, 57BC by Thomas Tyrrell

You say you are a man of Rome,
Brought up among her schools?
That city on the seven hills,
Where Julius Caesar rules, they say,
Where mighty Caesar rules?

Your pardon, sir! We’ll cut you loose
To make your own way home,
For we have sworn never to hold
A citizen of Rome, oh no,
Never a man of Rome.

A noble Roman once set sail
With a princely retinue,
And we boarded him and took his ship
And slaughtered all the crew, oh yes,
We slaughtered all his crew.

So haughty was his look and speech,
Imperious yet handsome,
We saw at once that he was worth
A rich and golden ransom, yes,
A twenty talent ransom.

He laughed at our demands and said,
“You know not whom you hold.
For I will buy my liberty
With fifty talents in gold,” he said,
Talents of purest gold.

Once freed, he hired himself a fleet
And sought us far and wide.
My shipmates he took prisoner
And had them crucified, he did,
Throats slit and crucified.

We hold no Romans ransom now,
But swiftly set them free.
The sea, they claim, is their domain;
We drop them in the sea, we do,
Headfirst into the sea.

Your liberty is now restored,
Walk out along this plank;
Swim home to mighty Caesar’s arms.
It’s him you’ve got to thank, oh yes,
It’s Caesar you should thank.

---

Thomas Tyrrell has a PhD in English Literature from Cardiff University. He is a two-time winner of the Terry Hetherington poetry award, and his writing has appeared in Allegro Poetry, Amaryllis, Cheval, The Lake, Lighten Up Online, London Grip, Lonesome October, Poetry 24, Spectral Realms, Picaroon, The Road Less Travelled, Runcible Spoon, Three Drops From A Cauldron, VampCat Mag, Wales Arts Review, Wales Haiku Review and Words for the Wild.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

What I Learnt from the Owl by Anna Saunders

how to hunt in silken plumage
tooled up with talons and hooks
 
how to split the seam of the night
with saw-tooth wings
how to consume all I kill
yet stay hungry
 
how to haunt sleep
my head - a phantom full moon
how to be outcast and avenger
spectre and seraphim, winged god and ghoul
 
bladed angel dropping from the sky.
What I learnt from the owl
 
how to voice my darkness
in hisses, in shrieks
 
how to drop from the heights,
heart shaped face falling to earth
 
as if love itself were plummeting.

---

Anna Saunders is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press) Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press), Burne Jones and the Fox ( Indigo Dreams) and Ghosting for Beginners ( Indigo Dreams, Spring 2018) described by Fiona Sampson as a 'beautifully evocative read'. Anna has had poems published in journals and anthologies, which include Ambit, The North, New Walk Magazine, Amaryllis, Iota, Caduceus, Envoi, The Wenlock Anthology, Eyeflash,  and The Museum of Light. She has been described as ‘a poet who surely can do anything’ by The North  and ‘a poet of quite remarkable gifts’ by Bernard O’Donoghue.  Anna holds 4 Arts Council Awards for her work.   


Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Nightshade by Kate Garrett

My touchpaper torso is the source of the hex / flickers of green and red fire / purify me / scorch tendrils / stop the slink up my spine

my spine a spindle / mouldy petals dusted black / each withered leaf a knock I’ve taken / every hateful fraction of a second stored below my waist / twisted like a sow’s tail / waiting

waiting for the craving to save me / heat of seeds / stems / skin / a gulp of vinegar / cauterises vines / cuts the killing thorns above the root / trims dead weight back / until the next waning moon



---

Kate Garrett writes and edits. Her work is widely published, recently or forthcoming in Atrium, Allegro, 8 Poems, Déraciné, Ghost City Review, Kissing Dynamite, and others. Her first full collection, The saint of milk and flames, is forthcoming from Rhythm & Bones Press in April 2019. Born in rural southern Ohio, Kate moved to the UK in 1999, where she still lives in Sheffield with her husband, children, and a sleepy cat. Twitter @mskateybelle / www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Born Again by John Short

A green and pleasant land
full of white people and churches
is what she wants to see
but that’s not how it will be,
the only thing that doesn’t change
is Change itself, the Taoists say
and for thousands of years
people have wandered the world
moved around, crossed continents.

We came later, built our shrines
to erase the previous gods;
now you complain when seeing a mosque
but wear jeans made cheap in Pakistan.
Your cosy picture is a fantasy,
a fixed idea you can’t let go.
Your tolerable life paid for elsewhere
so be quiet and think: though some
might not wish to integrate,
in reality we’re all connected.

---

John Short lives in Liverpool and studied comparative religion at Leeds University. His poems and stories are often inspired by his travels in Europe. In recent years he has been published in the UK, France, Spain and the USA, most recently in Prole, Dream Catcher, Frogmore Papers, Envoi and The Blue Nib. He's active on the local poetry scene and also enjoys cycling and real ale.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Roy G. Biv by Emma Thompson

Sometimes I remember the days
I spent with Roy in my childhood.
Eager hands
ripping through paper and plastic
as if it were Christmas.

Roy is a red Chewit
with a bit of the wrapper
still attached.
A soft ooze belied by crystalline edges--
a meaning I was yet to catch.

Roy is an orange Calippo
I savoured every drop of,
wringing the ice
till juice ran down my chin
and somebody else cleaned up my mess.

Roy is a yellow Pom Bear
I carefully dissected, limb by limb--
leaving only a head.
I apologised profusely
but I don’t think he heard me.

Roy is a green-bundled After Eight
I took as an instruction.
It tastes like responsibility
(an introduction to adulthood)
and I eagerly spat it out.

Roy is a blue dolphin
purchased at a cinema.
A rolling chew of thoughts left idle
before they had a chance
to turn cynical.

Roy is an indigo Yorkie bar,
telling me I wasn’t allowed.
I never thought he was serious
but my chocolate mouth turns to tar
whenever a man yells at me from his car.

Roy is a Parma Violet
found at the bottom of a party bag.
Nobody actually wants it
but we take them home with us
anyway.

Sometimes I remember the days
I spent with Roy in my childhood
and I realise I’m better
for leaving him behind.

---

Emma Thompson is an Archaeology student (soon-to-be liminal graduate) forever lamenting the lack of dinosaurs in her course and, subsequently, deals with said anguish through poetry. Born of a Danish, secular, sex-positive mother and an Irish, Catholic, repressed father, Emma is well-versed in internal conflict and likes to explore this frequently in her work. She is the current president of the University of Birmingham's Writers’ Bloc and recently headlined at Howl in Moseley.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Northern Palimpsest by Penny Blackburn

Bricked back lanes where council-covered cobbles peep
from potholes in the blackened tarmac skin;
rivers where turbine technology pins the ghosts
of shipyards onto Roman barracks; medieval battlefields
buried under farms, whose crops
are wheaten-stoned houses, unaware of any back-garden history;
nature reserves sculpted from spoils – a green veneer
for the lost paths of dark, drowned mines.

Beaches, untouristed – at first sight unpalimpsest.
Yet hid in grit-grey water, under the plane scarred sky

long settled onto the seabed, cold-boned shipwrecks lie.

---

Penny Blackburn lives in the North East of England and writes poetry and short fiction. Her online publication includes pieces in Writers’ Café, Bangor Literary Journal  and Marsden Poetry Village and she has appeared in print anthologies by Batley Poets and Paper Swans Press.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

You Don’t Have to Believe in Miracles by Belinda Rimmer

Crossing the bridge I see it,
a bible, red leather, gold embossed,
caught by a fallen tree in the middle of the lake.

Pages, once clear and black-inked, water-soaked.
The cover curling like painted lips.

I reach with a branch to reel it in.
A storm wind bellows under the bridge,
turns the water murky brown,
swirls the bible away from its mooring.

Saints and angels, virgins and whores, disciples and betrayers
sink to the black depths of the lake.

In the fading light
I wait for Jesus to rise again.

---

Belinda has worked as a psychiatric nurse, lecturer and creative arts practitioner. Her poems are
published in magazines, on-line journals and anthologies. She recently gained second place in the
2018 Ambit Poetry Competition. Her first pamphlet, Touching Sharks in Monaco, will be published
this year by Indigo Dreams.

A Cilician Pirate, 57BC by Thomas Tyrrell

You say you are a man of Rome, Brought up among her schools? That city on the seven hills, Where Julius Caesar rules, they say, Wher...