Issue #9 out now

Issue #10 out now

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  • My life in clothes

    Clothes are stacked
    in my room, as usual.

    I watch them build for years
    Then pull apart my teeth
    like seams
    Peel the Sellotape seal
    from my lips,
    Un-knit my tongue, explain,
    Unfold pressed pain
    Tug on hems, snagging
    the arrogant cloth’s cross-stitch
    Un-buckle my belt,
    reveal the stomach-soft flesh curtailed,
    embedded with stars.
    Pull a needle through hems,
    Force them loose
    Crinkling the fabric in foiled faces, button-words pop
    In ‘O’s’
    from the blouse draped curtain of my mouth.

    Until I’m hurled
    Split material dispersed
    with negligence
    on a bedroom floor
    They come in, turn-take picking me up, sewing me back
    But I’m botched,
    the colours don’t match.
    Stitching askew, textile stained
    No resemblance of how I was dressed in the first place.

    Francesca Faccion
  • summer plans

    I always say my summer plans are to rest,
    To sleep away until I can ignore The ghosts of the images I keep using,

    But the deer will keep showing up at my door no matter how many times I kill it.
    Again it will be
    My desperate hands in its chest,
    Struggling to pull out an angry, hungry heart
    With angry, hungry hands

    Again I will eat its heart;
    And again it will come to my door.

    My summer plans are to rest.

    Wybie
  • Gap

    Falling out
    from gums red-raw:
    A tooth, ripped from its core
    leaves a gap

    you can’t fill.
    My tongue feels around,
    spans the width of a blood pool that spills
    on the lips we kiss with.

    Francesca Faccion
  • Words, Unreadable

    Words and people
    are not hard to read
    for the same reasons.
    Yet, I look in the mirror
    and
    see a sentence
    of a thousand words,
    my freckles are commas,
    my eyebrows dashes.
    The set of my mouth
    underlines all of this
    in emphasis or anger:
    unclear.
    Words, unreadable
    spill in tears
    from my eyes.
    My lashes are scribbled
    in cursive.
    Each clause of my face
    has been moved around
    too many times,
    each word that sums it up
    spoken too often aloud.
    I have lost all meaning.
    I am entirely incomprehensible.

    Erin Oakley
  • apparently

    an attempt
    at self-love
    not gone unnoticed
    by god
    or the wife
    both light sleepers
    apparently

    Mr Black
  • Make A Change

    For years and years
    We’ve ignored
    The shouts in our ears
    That they roared

    For years and years
    We’ve ignored
    The streaming tears
    From the horde

    We ignored
    The screaming shouts
    All on record
    With no doubt
    “I can’t breathe”

    11 times did he wheeze
    “I can’t breathe”
    That made us freeze

    Say their names!
    Say them loud!
    These are our aims!
    They are proud!

    Proud to be Black!
    Proud to be them!
    When the police attack
    We won’t condemn!

    Shout their names!
    Shout them loud!
    Shout them out for all around!

    We will not back down!
    March through the town!

    Shout their names!
    Eric Garner!
    George Floyd!
    Jamar Clark!
    Philando Castile!
    Ezell Ford!
    Breonna Taylor!

    Shout them louder than ever before
    Because right now
    We need to do it more
    Than ever before

    Delilah Raeken
  • The Laundromat on St-André

    Do you dry your clothing
    at the laundromat on St-André?
    I like its windows yawning in the sun,
    the philodendrons, and the smooth blue table,
    wide as a bed, to shake out sheets on.

    “I’ve only dried things there once,” you tell me,
    “and they were little shrimp”

    which
    I imagine
    have a different drying time
    than socks do.

    But of course, I’ve only misread your text.
    You really wrote “a little damp.” Of course
    I know there are no shrimp
    tumbling to peachy softness on St-André—

    but just for a minute—

    Emma Theodore Roy
  • none

    there is an outside, there

    that you are an outside of

    Garrett Burrell
  • Shooting season

    It was unusual to spot a pheasant squat still,
    from this distance.
    We had clocked it from across the paddock.
    Fifty clicks away, the
    baize and claret twitch of fear.

    The majestic head,
    emerald cap and blindfold red,
    crooked to one side, tracking us with
    impossible cockerel eyes.

    Traces of blood nearby;
    rain-slashed on the long grass,
    quickly made black against the
    yellow-green of turf.

    A three-inch pellet took the spine of its back,
    snug between the wings –
    out of flap but still intact.

    Plastic cone and shocking metal,
    a disposable zippo,
    crammed deep around the rump.

    The half-dead bird was now all gun:
    the hunter’s slug deep in the barrel
    of a failing body, loaded –
    ready to shoot.

    Dad picked up a makeshift club.
    Stock-still, suddenly infants again.
    He ordered me and Paddy to walk
    to the next field,
    to not turn back,
    he’d catch up soon.

    Christy Hall
  • The Birds Came Back

    When it seemed nothing could be normal any more,
    the birds came back.

    The birds came back and hopped and whistled and nested
    in the blossoming trees.

    They soared on half home wind currents,
    dipped their toes in striving waves.

    The birds came back and pooed on passers by,
    and this time it had a slightly different meaning,
    and the curtain twitchers smiled.

    Amid the fear and the pain and the mistrust,
    the birds came back and roosted outside bedroom windows,
    woke early the irritable people.

    The birds came back and wondered with their bird brains
    at the wonder of year round shelter.

    They flapped their wing batons to conduct the orchestra of chicks,
    and to replace the bass rumble of engines they formed alliances.

    The birds came back and played in the streets of the air,
    and there they stayed until they went again.

    Matt Alton
  • Coronavirus Poem

    What happened to the toilet roll?
    You ask
    as you spy me
    dismounting the porcelain perch
    with a simple step.

    It’s not the time for acrobatics,
    I say. I know we all need
    to have our fun,
    and stay limbered up,
    but a post potty pirouette is
    an unnecessary risk
    in these topsy tervy times.

    Matt Alton
  • I unlock a yellow bicycle with an app

    grin like a baby for the first time.
    Old men tip their hats, I smile;
    I am hope on two wheels.

    Grey cars can scream at me and
    it’s true I don’t really get the roads,
    but it should be so easy
    to get home on your lungs alone.

    Daisy Thomas
  • Buxton.

    Buxton

    Our days were numbered in Buxton town;
    marked out for a death-march-cum-stroll,
    five years to final throes –
    a weekend getaway or on parole? Nothing the
    chalk-pastel Peak District could serve up
    would ever replenish us.

    Pastoral; do you remember Bedale?
    The Heights of Abraham? Varicose caverns,
    waves of dales, the hills all gnarly.
    Scaling tourist parks whilst bobbing
    on a cable car.

    That was Matlock – another spa
    town as counsel, slick our thirst.
    But there we bickered, picking at
    a tray of chips cobwebbed with cheese.
    Fidgeting the sinews of goo apart,
    all life unlinked in the Styrofoam.

    Between bric-a-brac stops and bars, hoping
    idol hopping would push momentum to peace.

    A moment by the Derwent river;
    kayaks side by side A-road bikes –
    sickly leather sights in Derby sun,
    making me think Kerouac then Gun.
    We forced a face in a
    pastiche photo booth for two;
    hungover eyes, grins petrified to charcoal lines.

    There was Bakewell too;
    more taut than tart.
    We passed through,
    track-skipping on the tape deck,
    to help county fade away,
    Yorkshire-bound roundabouts
    blurring towards the A-road.

    An arboretum outside Northallerton –
    Thorp Perrow – punched in the last nail.
    A local production of Shakespeare’s
    comedies as medley; you glammed-up,
    over-dressed and it was washed out –
    my indulgence, cast as the ass at last.

    Christy Hall
  • The Secret to Good Pastry

    I make pastry with my mother’s fingertips. Rubbing fat into flour like she taught me. Like she was taught. I imagine those dark eyed ancestors lined up along my kitchen counter. Sharing only baking secrets. I’ll never know Jane had post-natal depression. Sarah dreaded the scrape of his key. Annie preferred wartime. And here I am. Saying to my daughter, ‘If you shake the bowl, like this, it brings up the unrubbed pieces’. There’s plenty more I could tell her. Perhaps I should.

    Amanda Quinn
  • oneblueplanet_
    (a sonnet)

    be not broken instead screw changes to walls
    undo the chains loose the anchors be a bird
    free from the dynamics taught by classroom bores
    let only the wind and songs of fidelity be heard

    we have but one blue planet and in many.hearts
    this place an onion skin of earth is our home
    praise the dirty hands cupped around spice
    they are in drug shackles to the poisoned ground

    in glassy eyes and honest beggary they need
    one healthy world celebrate their passion
    their suffering is the first crack you’ll ever heed
    the spice don’t it make their eyes blue. I am

    seeing a blue world besides a blurred word
    in between is one mind and survival obscured

    Robin Rich
  • Good Sunday Turn

    My imagination is going to get me
    into a lot of trouble.
    Sometimes, on a Sunday
    when I buy the newspaper
    and a pastry,
    I imagine the joy of
    sharing it with you.
    Or when I cook a fancy meal.
    We’d go upstairs to watch
    a movie
    but not before
    we take in the laundry
    to save it
    from the damp.

    Zahra Khan
  • to be a boss

    people speak of him in a great fashion
    at least, thats what he tells us
    even when they see how he’s speaking to us

    as soon as their notions of fashion are gone
    he’s speaking for them
    a great man calls himself a great man
    but we’re losing the heart to agree

    riddled
    springs to mind
    a man in a riddle, a man so great that he can’t possibly
    be any good

    Willow Orton
  • Springtime

    Back along bygone lanes
    She crept
    Stumbling
    Fumbling
    Oozing with gin

    In that familiar warmth
    She slept
    Restlessly
    Breathlessly
    Touching his skin

    Wondering what it was that
    She kept –
    A longing
    Belonging
    Folded within?

    But full with the hum of Spring
    She leapt
    Her blooming
    Assuming
    The fragrance of him

    Lily Stella
  • The discovery

    Today they found the ship
    Herodotus had described
    two thousand years ago
    lying still like a secret
    under dark waters
    silently shoring up his words
    with its hard timber ribs
    mooring itself, at last
    in sight of consciousness.
    Will I too be found
    in some unthinkable future
    will the measurement tape
    circle my temples, confirm
    that I existed, that I loved
    and was loved, that I gave
    and was given to –
    or will I appear under
    clumsy, careless fingers
    that have no knowledge
    of who they touch

    Ben Ray
  • Open Windows

    There are so many tabs
    open in my head
    and none of them will close

    I cannot find the one that I need
    and I cannot remember what I came here for

    a song is playing
    but not all of it
    just one verse on repeat

    Charlie Bertram
  • Coffee Universe

    for Miska

    I’ll have a lovely, and a coffee
    in an attempt to override the
    down and grey with warm and black.
    No sugar.
    Huddled up in this black hole
    my spoon stirs words again, at last.
    Two lumps of lovely.
    If you are in need of some milk in
    your universe, kind eyes, have my stars.

    The expanse of my debt
    is far greater than two fourty.

    Anneleen Léger
  • Ever Been Turned

    I assumed people would notice. I’d been behaving weirdly, walking around in a bit of a daze – I could sense that much, even if I was unable to actually snap out of it. I thought someone would have worked out why, would have taken me aside and said, “I know that look – what’s her name?” like they do on television. But nobody did, so it just went on. I gradually returned to normal, eventually lost interest. At some point I realised she was never on the train anymore, she must have moved away or changed jobs or something but I didn’t notice it happen. By then I was back to normal, cosy nights in with the wife, forgetting my head had ever been turned.

    Nick Lord Lancaster
  • A Blackbird

    A blackbird bobs obscenely
    taps his toes on frozen asphalt
    listens to a chirping track
    of breakup music

    He tells the houses how
    he once saw lightning strike
    a tall tree
    and it paled and cracked
    before its shadows
    were interrupted by fire

    He beats a wing
    as if that is the punchline
    because really he knows
    the secret to breaking,
    which isn’t a secret
    but he’ll say it anyway:

    apply ice to stop the swelling.

    Madeleine Quirk
  • fantasy

    Aesthetic ecstasy,
    Driven by fantasy.
    Take a photo.
    Catch that
    Plain beauty,
    Cream,
    White,
    Baby blue,
    Gold rings
    And
    A fag for you.

    Nur Ceylan
  • The White Shroud

    Jigsaw pieces are cut
    From the clouds
    And dropped into place,
    Edges first.
    Lorries lower their eyelids
    Under a toffee-stained sky.
    There are shapes, hidden –
    Waiting for Michelangelo.

    Charmayne Pountney Board
  • genius

    he solved equations with his right hand
    and was tying a noose
    with his left and

    everyone said how smart he was at
    his funeral

    Oliver Hulme