Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Herms by R. M. Francis

This third incarnation
of thirteen stiffs semi-circle
Sheldonian’s stern -
still, indifferent, stoned
and sometimes crowned
with traffic cone, wren shit
hufflepuff scarf. One or two
have humour for it. All stare,
unblinking at map gripped tourist tracks,
inert undergrads - ghouled
by samsung screens,
blinkered cyclists and white vans vying
like Tamesis Pike and Carp wrestle
Osney Lock currents. Thirteen Herns
are angler fixed - baits weighted for
another incarnation,
another three-hundred years
when our postcard pics have weathered
and our server farms are lost, after palm oil
took precedence over air, the babewyn continue
to unhook themselves from gutters and spires
and run jokes past the emperors, about parallel lines
crashing together in infinity.

---

R. M. Francis is a poet from Dudley. He's a Creative Writing lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton and author of five poetry pamphlet collections. In 2020 Wild Pressed Books will be publish Bella, his debut novel, and Smokestack Books are publishing Subsidence, his first full poetry collection. In Spring 2019 he was the David Bradshaw Writer in Residence at Oxford University.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

It is like something out of a painting by Hiƫronymus Bosch by Anna Saunders

It is like something out of a painting by HiĆ«ronymus Bosch

everyone who has just fallen in love,
and everyone who is heartbroken
here in the garden at the same time.

Those who are in love speak in petals,
break out of pink eggs like sheeny
birds, burst from the heads of flowers,
dusted with pollen.

Those who are in love are lavish as rococo gardens,
lofty as the arching vaults of gothic cathedrals.

All the weather is upon those who are in love
and the rain gleams.

The displaced butterflies
are come back to settle on those who are in love
and the blackbirds beat their wings as if in applause.

Those on the lawn who have lost love  
stand on nail points and knife blades

crawl out of ears or intestines
drop like buckets to the bottom of wells.

Those who are heartbroken  
flail their legs like dying flies
as black shells snap shut on them

and thrash their waxy limbs in bondage,
strapped to harps that will never play again.

---

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.   

An Eavesdropper Walks the Streets by Joe Cushnan

It’s my relationship, nobody’s business and it suits me.
It was a hammer-and-tongs conversation outside a pub,
A young girl with a screeching diva voice that could rattle glass
Talking to a man, red-faced, and trying to get a word in.


A break up, a breakdown, roll credits, the end, wait for outtakes.
Don’t speak to me. Don’t speak to me. Don’t speak to me, rotten git.
She let out a Baskerville hound-howl followed by expletives.
He walked away, raising an arm for a Churchillian V.


*


I was so sure his middle name was Charles, turns out it’s William.
Two women of years chin-wagging outside a greetings card shop
Talking about a deceased neighbour and how much they’d miss him,
His Walter Brennan musical-chuckle laugh and good manners.


He came round one day and killed two big spiders, one with his boot,
The other with a rolled up People’s Friend which I hadn’t read.
The women hugged and went their separate ways. One shouted back,
His handwriting was perfect. I wish I’d kept all his postcards.


*


He cut his hand on a salmon tin and the biggest laugh is
He doesn’t eat fish. Outside a bakery, a couple sit,
Eating sausage rolls and talking with their mouths full, crumby lips.
He needed stitches. Took ages because his hand was shaking,


Not fond of blood but he likes them Rambo films and vampire stuff.
Snacks finished, they dispose of the bags and rummage in their coats.
One lights a cigarette, the other sucks on an e-fag, merged
Smoke, a thin fog around them, cancels the smell of bread baking.


*

---

Joe Cushnan was born and raised in Belfast. Now retired, he devotes as much time as he can to writing. He has a portfolio of published features, reviews, poetry and fiction, and he blogs at www.droppedthemoon.blogspot.com

Mine by Holly Magill

Fifteen tubes of pastel, tooth-rot happiness tumbled from pink palms to the counter in Spar. The older girl smirked, counted my 10p p...