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.
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
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
but not before
we take in the laundry
to save it
from the damp.
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
springs to mind
a man in a riddle, a man so great that he can’t possibly
be any good
Back along bygone lanes
Oozing with gin
In that familiar warmth
Touching his skin
Wondering what it was that
She kept –
But full with the hum of Spring
The fragrance of him
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
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
I’ll have a lovely, and a coffee
in an attempt to override the
down and grey with warm and black.
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.
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 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.
Driven by fantasy.
Take a photo.
A fag for you.
Jigsaw pieces are cut
From the clouds
And dropped into place,
Lorries lower their eyelids
Under a toffee-stained sky.
There are shapes, hidden –
Waiting for Michelangelo.
Charmayne Pountney Board
he solved equations with his right hand
and was tying a noose
with his left and
everyone said how smart he was at
Everywhere I look I see prejudice,
You see a man with a turban that’s a terrorist,
You see a guy in a hoodie you’re running from his fist,
You see a black man on the stairs, you decide to take the lift.
You see police and you feel safety,
He sees police and he stands there bravely,
you see man on a tube you’re not a questioner,
She sees a man on a tube that’s a predator,
You see a headscarf next to a bag that a bomb,
She sees her bag and that’s a gift for her mum.
You a see girl in a skirt as a slut,
yet a guy without his shirt is called tough.
Everywhere I look I see prejudice,
I see judgment with no evidence,
I watch people who see blind,
Handing out labels when they’re unrefined,
We’re in decline,
We’re all confined,
It’s like we’re inclined to have this frame of mind,
And yet a child is somehow innocent,
There brought into this world as a citizen,
They see every person as equivalent,
Then society diminishes this innocence,
There now prejudice that no coincidence.
And don’t get me wrong blaming this on society,
It’s our own fault for creating a hierarchy,
I’ts our fault that we see blindly
And it’s our own fault for making this society.
I have never eaten a lobster.
I almost did once,
but was told my country tongue
would be unable to distinguish its
rich golden hay
I’ve seen them in glare-lit tanks
banded together in their shell suits
like a train carriage of businessfolk
swaying to the metallic tide,
the colour of summer berries in labour
and claws like coastlines.
Is it true that some are blue?
What a rhapsody,
what a jazz. Rusted
Scuttle and cacophony.
I have never eaten a lobster,
but as a child
I refused to face the beach barefoot
in fear of blood-orange
They are a story to me.
frozen statue still
into the void of my chest
I love your smile always
But with that white scarf
And that blue dress and
Your bright eyes, I feel wise;
Not my usual mess of thoughts,
Not even quite jumbled a lot,
Not worried I’ll fumble or stop
Impressing, not worried about
Undressing eventually though
That’d be nice, no doubt.
Problem is I’m all ice,
Like that blue and white gown
Building seascapes for my heart.
Sometimes I get lost in what Kaveh writes in the glass jar at 3 am
The stretching search terms
The orders filling in the basket
The length of film I had taken to get developed
My father carrying negatives
Only to find the sweltering sun he misses
Has singed the only picture of his
Youth and his leg wide open
And cut from the time God had marked him for
Death and he had narrowly escaped
Through a broken window on a bus
And his whole leg is a shining oscillating tale
Thin as onion skin
Thin with tears
Growing soft with disuse
The nerves that have curled up and died
I press his leg and he doesn’t know I’m there
Couldn’t tell if I was air or nothing or a needle stitching what fell apart again
I spend money like it belongs to me instead of it being borrowed
But each note is so sweet I fold them as small and as thin as I can
Feed them into the camera and tell my father I can bring his youth back if he smiles
I can heal his leg with my lens
But my length of film is empty
There are these two spots where something tried to be born
And I can’t face my father’s defeated face
Thinned with tears
So I avoid him at noon, the sunset in the living room
At night, 2 am, fair, dawn, father forgive me these little things
In the middle of the birch trees,
he calls out the opening of her name
which is Olia, and in this round emptiness,
she writes between the lines of birch
on her fingers in berry juice
why and how she will feed him.
Silenced by her silence, he walks in
his new and unaccustomed greys,
tracing back to her the lineage
of the swampy grass, marked by
severed trees and the absences
of earth their feet had made.
In a hollow by the brook, he finds her
sitting in the moss, caressing into falling
bunches of berries. “I’ll wait for you
in the boat by the mouth of the river.”
The lines around her lips, etched in dark
juices, dark years, smile “I will come.”
For forty years he has waited at the mouth
of some river for her – gathered with her
and then separated. He counts his crop
of mushrooms four times before calling again.
She calls back his name, half an hour passes,
and she joins him.
the morning mist meanders,
the soft sun surfaces,
and Lana lulls us slow.
i realise that the sky tastes like
peach lollies in my mouth
i rest my head on yours
and fresh linen,
that was the scent of the day.
Is entertaining a friend at her home when there is a knock at the door. It turns out to be a delivery: her latest book is back from the printers. The friend, far younger than she is and not particularly bright, is anxious to get the box open. He keeps exclaiming at the size of the package and all the books that there must be inside. The great writer is reluctant to open the box as she’d much rather go through the book later, when she’s alone. The delivery of a new book from the printers is an event filled with trepidation: she has learned over time that mistakes are inevitable. One hopes that they will be minor – the odd missed comma or extra space between words – but occasionally there is a gross, unpardonable error that will inevitably sour the relationship between herself and the publisher, making things especially awkward when the editor is a friend, as is the case in this instance. Her companion, however, begs and pleads like a child trying to winkle an early Christmas present from his parents, and eventually the great writer gives in. He gleefully plunges towards the box and tears at it feverishly, emitting a little squeal as the first book emerges from the bubble wrap. After regarding it with a strangely ravenous look in his eyes, he passes the book to the writer and delves back into the box. His groan of disappointment confirms her worst fears:
“What is it?”
“They’ve made a mistake!”
“They’re all the same book!”
we used to sing “adap- adaptation…
changes in the body to fit a location”
to remember why we can’t breathe
underwater but your fish can.
in the playground, all our bodies made tender
by play, by fingers interlocked, and your bite,
your breathmarks on my wristbone,
you wished away offences caused when
you threatened to tell everyone about me
stealing your crisps. now I mend myself
for a different you. cast my limbs just so that
I might fit more comfortably under your arm,
in the palm of a friend, when I am just so
small, hooked on and impossibly breathless,
sprouting gills in the guilt of coming to know
the impossibility of my environment.
“You won’t always have this appetite.” Jane McKie
Wooing her is like licking
an electric fence, all wet hunger and idiot shock.
You won’t always want this trouble.
You won’t always have this appetite.
You won’t always write DMs and then
delete, and then refresh. You won’t always insist
on getting your chin wet. This story stretches
only as far as browsing the cost of a flight.
Ask lightning, an easier trip, a gentler blast
than a nude at midnight.
Girls are taught to make
I am built for sating, packet-mix, preheated,
impatient. I am buttered peaches,
I am the wide field of expectation, I am the calm cow
who asks how the new fence tastes, and I am proof
that you might always have that appetite.
Maybe on the first
day of first grade,
before we had money
and all that came with it,
before there were hand marks
all over both of us,
before we stumbled
like blind men without dogs,
it would be just me
standing behind you
in the class picture,
two of my fingers
making bunny ears
above your head
small but sure as soldiers,
it’s you, it’s going to be you.