The height of summer.
His net under her body, turn and flip:
an Adonis Blue.
She doesn’t fight like some of them;
With steady fingers he squeezes her slender throat.
She seems to wake.
He tries again. His hands freeze.
He stands, glazed.
Sees through her eyes,
through all the eyes he’s ever killed.
She never makes it to the killing jar.
He carries her home in his net.
Doesn’t soften her, or spread her wings,
or pin her to a board.
He kisses her instead.
The butterflies on his walls look on.
He wishes now he could turn them free,
like his Adonis Blue,
near a stream, all fresh and shiny.
Belinda has poems published in various magazines, including Brittle Star, Dream Catcher, ARTEMISpoetry, Obsessed with Pipework and Sarasvati. Some poems have appeared on-line, others in anthologies. She has an MA in Fine and Media Arts and a PhD in Women’s Voices in Contemporary Poetry.
They find each other in the street,
begin to laugh and snap their fingers,
panting memories of pitted dust.
I smile with them
as they converge with long strides.
Kisses dust cheeks,
contentment sighing through
louche, entangled limbs.
Foreign leaves fall towards them:
They turn away from me,
little fingers of opposing hands
One turns to whisper to the other.
They’re new, I guess.
Soon they’ll unlearn their language of tenderness:
the sparks between them will fizzle out
and the cold and the concrete
will set hard around their souls.
A community worker, artist and writer, Andrea has been published in the London Magazine and Here Comes Everyone, and had her writing exhibited in the Herbert, Coventry Cathedral Chapel of Unity and in various libraries. Andrea is a regular spoken word performer at Fire and Dust in Coventry. Her Uncle once described her as ‘a real searcher’, which feels about right. More details here.
Light seeps into the estuary.
The river’s edge is blurred.
Air, at dew point, cadaver cold.
A mercury tide, floods.
Onto the silver slack’s mud-flats
a ripple slaps, a slow pulse.
No gibbet now in the tideway.
No corpse hangs, a warning to all,
make no change, make no challenge.
The horizon ignites; blood-red.
Black, on the pylon’s scaffold,
twelve Herons stand like stone.
Hump-backed and brooding.
As dark as Jobling’s judge.
As pitiless as priests.
A former nurse, Tom was a ‘late starter’ in writing and is trying to make up lost time. He has had articles published in journals, written a prize winning short radio script for BBC Newcastle and was a prize winner in last year’s New Writing North Crime Short Story competition. He has had several poems published in Orbis and has just completed an MA in creative writing at Newcastle University.
A very quick post to announce that Nick Allen has joined the editorial team here at Algebra of Owls.
This widens the tastes and perspectives we have on board, and ramps up the anonymity of our selection process (both Nick and Hannah look at submitted poems in complete ignorance of who wrote them).
Nick has a poem pencilled in for publication here in May, which was selected for publication long before his appointment as an Editor. It will obviously be his last poem that appears on the site.
With an online magazine, there is always a balance between wanting to print as many of the submitted poems that we like as possible, and the danger of swamping readers (it is not as though Algebra of Owls is the only e-zine out there). Keen followers will have noticed we have published rather fewer poems this month (twenty by the time we finish April), and in May there will be eighteen. From June onwards we will be cutting back further, to around fifteen per month. Sadly, this means we will have to say ‘no’ to even more poems that we like, but it allows more breathing room in the schedule, and is more digestible for our followers.
We have already received over 200 poems to look at so far in April, and one of the co-editors is off on holiday soon. Therefore the window for poems to be considered for publication in June is now closed. All new submissions received between now and 31st May will be looked at together at the start of June, with a view to publication in July.
Jeff’s got himself a watch. White-bearded,
shuffling, he’s hooped it on his sleeve,
four dials on display. One marks the hours
in Sheffield, where men call each other duck,
think they’ll bob up whenever they go down.
Another tells the time in Israel: like ancient
mapmakers, Jeff’s world spins on Jerusalem.
The third’s a might-be-useful stopwatch; the fourth
a compass. He knows his north,
brews Sunday coffees for his homeless pals.
He bought his timepiece from a street stall,
cheap as chips and no more made to last.
Clock Jeff instead: he doesn’t wheel and deal,
won’t waste a word, is regular
as mates, as homelessness, as love.
Julian Dobson lives in Sheffield, home of the famous Henderson’s Relish. His poems have appeared in publications including Brittle Star, The Interpreters’ House, Acumen, and on a bus in Guernsey. More of his work is here.
when my generation reaches
our care home days
the music playing won’t be
Vera meeting someone
but unsure of where or when
it’ll be Ra Ra Rasputin
doing his love thing
which I hope will be more fun
for those wiping our arses
to the sound of Gloria
telling them we will survive
I really hope they appreciate
the irony of Disco
Andrew Turner has been published in a number of online and print magazines. He lives in Staffordshire. Also at andrewturnerpoetry.wordpress.com
The old trunk has casters.
A boy rolls it, squeaking
like a thousand bats,
down the hallway
so that he can turn its
flat top into a desk.
Sitting on the floor
to write is difficult
for some. Teachers
use the change in venue
to engage students.
That’s why she allows
the trunk, the boy,
the squeaking wheels,
to set her teeth
on edge, to give her
cold chills. Everyone
listens, unable to write
until the squeaking
lifted only at death,
is on hold again,
the village returning
after years of waiting.
Al Ortolani’s newest collection of poems, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. His poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and New Letters. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has recently been featured on Writer’s Almanac.
I like to think I’ll smoke one more cigar before I go.
It won’t need to be some thick, ostentatious Cohiba,
just something slender, sweet, meaningful, cheap,
chasing the tail of a fractious day, a burnt-orange sun
aquaplaning into the water, a glass of rum, ice.
And you’ll be there, I expect, leading me astray,
like the knowing, older brother you should’ve been.
A ghost of bitter smoke will gather around my tongue,
factory-dry, and I’ll know that this is bad for me, which
in itself will feel better than anything good ever did.
Robert Ford lives on the east coast of Scotland. His poetry has appeared in both print and online publications in the UK and US, including Antiphon, Clear Poetry, Homestead Review and Ink, Sweat and Tears. More of his work can be found here
I just have to see those rigs,
those bed-spread patches,
to see my mother sewing
fragments of grown-out-of clothes,
to make a summer skirt.
She laid the colours like plants,
like rows of summer blossom,
the cup of tulips, the tuck of roses,
the corduroy of new turned rigs,
I wore a garden in the sun.
While outside, my father
lined up wigwams for beans,
telling us wide-eyed children
they were magic, would grow
to the sky, where giants
might sing to a magic harp.
One by one, we lost belief
until there was only
the little red flowers,
the curling tendrils, the
fattening pods. Breathe in
and hide in the leafy tent,
runs a thumb down the seam,
pop the pods, catch the beans,
now that was magic.
Vivien Jones : Her first poetry collection – ‘About Time, Too’ (Indigo Dreams) published in 2010. In that year she also won the Poetry London Prize. Her second poetry collection – ‘Short of Breath’ (Cultured Llama) published in 2014. She has two short story collections in print and spoken word and drama pieces for performance. www.vivienjones.info
He taught me how to skin a rabbit,
set a fracture, the elements
of Manichaean politics:
generals, ministers, your mates.
You trust your mates, he whispered
in the darkness, no matter what.
They booted him upstairs, of course,
into a shoe box with Minnie Mouse
and a broken fire engine. They said
his eyes were creepy, stabbed him
in the back with the word ‘doll’.
He was going to tell me soon
what it was like with a girl
and how he really got that scar.
Flat on my back in the top bunk
with my brother snoring and war
about to be declared downstairs,
I wondered again what a mate might be.
Duncan Chambers is a University researcher living in York and working in Sheffield. He has been writing poetry (with gaps) since the 1980s and has been published in various magazines including Ambit, The Rialto, Stand, The Interpreter’s House and The North.