The importance of maps – by Finola Scott

 

I like to know where I stand
in relation to .. well to what’s at my back,
to where my feet are
on shifting sand or hog-backed drumlin?

I like to know where I stand
in relation to that inset box of Shetland,
to quivering ley lines, to disused mines.
How far is the slicing equator?
And where does the polar axis tilt?

I like to know where I stand
in relation to Marmite and anchovy,
to lullabies or pacifiers, to Food banks
and The Great British Bake Off,
to open relationships.

Sat Nav gets you there quickly.
I tend to dawdle on less obvious routes.
I’d like to know where I stand. Should I prepare
for flash floods or roadblocks?

I’d like to know where I stand
in relation to you after all this time.

 

 

 

 

Finola Scott’s poems and short stories are widely published in anthologies and magazines including The Ofi Press, Raum, Dactyl, The Lake, Poets’ Republic, Fat Damsel, and Snares Nest. She is pleased to be mentored this year on the Clydebuilt Scheme by Liz Lochhead. A performance poet, she is proud to be a slam-winning granny.

Phoebe’s Blues – by Dana Robbins

 

I wish I were a willow, a lover, a mountain or a soft refrain,
But I’d hate to be a grown-up and have to try to bear my life in pain.

Harpo’s Blues

Phoebe Snow, July 17, 1950 – April 26, 2011

 

I was sixteen, hanging around the singer
up the street. Late in the day, she emerged
from the dark musty bedroom, stepped over

the clothes on the floor, the overflowing ashtrays,
the guitar leaning against the wall.
As I sat in her kitchen, watching her eat

breakfast at three, cream cheese on a bagel,
she said, “We call this scream cheese;” I asked,
“Does someone scream when you eat it?”

“You’re a weird kid,” she said, meant it
as a compliment. When my boyfriend broke
my heart, she played me an album of Lady Day;

and my small sadness took refuge in that
voice of tears, that beseeching wail,
found comfort in the absolute certainty

that love always leads to pain.
With her frizzy hair and chunky build, Phoebe
was an outsider in those days of ironed hair

but oh, her voice, how it rasped low as cigarettes
then crooned motherly as a lullaby then climbed
up up up like Queen of the Night to pierce the moon.

 

 

 

Following a long career as a lawyer, Dana Robbins entered the University of Southern Maine Stonecoast Writers program from which she received an MFA in 2013.  Her first book The Left Side of My Life was published by Moon Pie Press of Westbrook, Maine in 2015.  Her poetry and essays have  appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.  Her poem To My Daughter Teaching Science was featured by Garrison Keillor.

Love – by Anwer Ghani

 

As a dazzled butterfly, I will end in the love of this earth. I will exit from its fissures with a crown of heavy years. Like this, like an old hunter, I will dissolve in wings’ dream.

 

 

 

Anwer Ghani is an Iraqi poet and literary theorist. He lives in Iraq now and worked in a hospital as consultant physician. He has poetry collections in Arabic in e-book form, and many books in poetry criticism in Arabic. He is the chief editor of Tajdeed, an Arabic prose poem magazine, and of Arcs,a prose poem magazine.

His mother was told to leave him out to die – by Emma Lee

His hand bones were wrapped in linen bags
made by children from King Richard III school
and laid in a lead coffin surrounded by oak.
A layer of concrete to support
the Kilkenny marble plinth and tombstone
of Swaledale fossil stone
dotted with coal, a dash of amber
and two unfossilised shark’s teeth.
The three hundred and fifty piece
pietra dura shield included 
lapis lazuli from Afghanistan,
Tuscan yellow and white chalcedony,
brown English Ashburton marble
and Duke’s Red stone specifically ordered 
from a limited source at Chatsworth.
Six lions each with a nineteen piece
mosaic for their heads.
Sunlight on the minimal cross

leaves the shadow of a sword.

 

 

Emma Lee’s recent poetry collection is “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge” (Five Leaves, 2015) and “Welcome to Leicester” (Dahlia Publishing, 2016). She reviews for The High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip, Sabotage Reviews and blogs here

Every little helps – by Holly Magill

 

Yes, there are a few who peruse my boobs
as I lean forward on the doorstep to delve
the green crates laid at my feet.

Then there’s the ones – usually the young lads
with the haircuts – who like to shower me
with endearments. Once had three

babes, two darlins and a rogue sweetcheeks
in a single delivery. And a substitution
of Wensleydale, they were out of Caerphilly.

Bottles clink invitation to quips and winks
ah, yes, the important part of the order!
Other items are handled delicately: Tampax

hushed over the threshold under a cough,
often a momentary fascination with my socks;
I never open the door to them with bare feet.

 

 

 

Holly Magill is from Worcestershire. Her poetry has appeared in various publications, including Poets’ Republic, Ink Sweat & Tears and The Morning Star. She prefers cats and strong tea to most things.

 

Grave – by Sharon Larkin

 

Those who fled told of breath –
whiskey, tobacco, onions, garlic.

No whiff of mint or Arm & Hammer,
just a wicked halitosis. The blood

of those who failed to leave cried
out from the ground ‘til the bones

exhumed from shallow pits were
zipped in bags in white gazebos.

Crimes unconfessed, the couple
unshriven, they begged for burial

over cremation. Souls may twist
on a spit, or writhe in a lake of fire,

but the pair’s remains will lie still,
tossed without care to decompose

in a narrow plot, his coccyx next
to her pubic bone, dead-spooning.

 

 

 

Sharon Larkin’s poems have appeared in anthologies (Cinnamon Press, Eyewear Publishing, Indigo Dreams Publications), in magazines (Prole, Obsessed with Pipework, Here Comes Everyone) and online (Ink, Sweat and Tears, Clear Poetry, The Stare’s Nest).  She regularly performs in Gloucestershire, is Chair of Cheltenham’s Arts Council and Poetry Society and has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing.  Website: here.

Intermediate Polish – by Melanie Branton

 

Today I am revising the formal “you”,
in a land where strangers are always chaperoned
by the third person,
where subject and object are clearly marked and gender changes
everything.
For centuries, the passive voice of Europe,
muted by invasion, occupation.
The tyrants treated them like dogs,
whipped their children for speaking Polish in the schools,
forced them to bark in German, whine in Russian.
At night, in their kennels, tails between their legs,
they gnawed on the bones of their language:
its grammar.

Acting as a collective noun, they agreed
they’d not forget the name of any person, place or thing,
they’d predicate rebellion on syntactic lines,
make every verb a “doing” word.
Too frail to take up arms, too proud to flee,
they challenged their oppressors in the only way they could:
they stuck their tongue out at them.
That’s why their speech is olde worlde, starched, correct,
a tablecloth that grandma folded, put away and kept for best.
While other nations slouch in denim, have dropped inflections
like a hamburger wrapper in the street,
their language still conjugates and declines
with the couples ballroom dancing in the nightclubs,
moustachioed young men who bend at the waist to kiss your hand,
purple-haired ladies patronising
tobacco-coloured shops
selling nothing but lace curtains.

 

 

 

Melanie Branton lives in North Somerset and has had poems published in print and online journals including Amaryllis, Clear Poetry, Obsessed With Pipework, Prole and The Interpreter’s House. She was also the 2015 Bristol regional Hammer and Tongue slam champion. Her forthcoming first collection will be published by Oversteps Books.