I So Get It – by Brett Busang

 

with much kudos to Edna Millay, whose hate-letter to daffodils (et al) ought to be read, as a kind of alt-creation story, every Spring

I so get it, Edna.
The good, clean earth takes our footfalls
(rash compliments that trample it down)
and swallows them as we check our mail.

Love watches us like stalkers do, with the mixed intentions
of mother and rapist, of a birthday party and a cruel dawn.
We cannot find our way back to nature
(assuming it ever coddled us). Born to its leafy kisses, we thought

they’d restore our wonder as our swollen agendas took it away.
We’ve always wanted it to be Saturday, but check anybody’s schedule;
we’re late for work already and someone is conniving at our doom.
We come so innocently naked, nothing bad might touch us.

The sun’s rays contain all the light that’s ever poured down on a perfect moment,
the garden has no spiders and the rose no thorns,
our gift-wrapped packages arrive before the bill collector does –
and if we get a lousy grade now and then, we can prove ourselves back to God,

who made from us the earthy bric-a-brac we are always brushing off of our clothes.
God, who punishes the wicked first;
God, whose wrath is just;
God, who loves most to kill in Spring.

 

 

 

Brett’s prose writing has been published widely, with essays and stories in Overtime, The Saranac Review, and Weber – the Contemporary West. His “angry, British” novel, I Shot Bruce was published last year by Open Books/Escape Media, and he had a short story collection out in June.

Guest Editor for July – Matthew Hedley Stoppard

 

Very pleased that the July Editor’s Choice Poem will be picked by Matthew Hedley Stoppard. 

Matthew was appointed the first official Otley Town Poet in 2016. He has two collections published by Valley Press, and his poems have featured in magazines, anthologies and on radio and television.

Vendange Tardive – by Ray Miller

 

When you read of the farmer near Beziers,
whose entire grape crop –
all thirty-five tons –
was stolen overnight by a gang
with a mechanical harvester,
did you remember how we bent

and ached for the grapes, swollen
and pendulous, bruised
like love-bitten breasts,
sweating and swaying before us?
How at night we poured
ourselves into each other

and the rhythm of crickets.
The Languedoc women
wore dark bandannas and clicked
their tongues in mock disapproval
when they learnt we were unwed.
C’est la mode! they supposed,
blessing our unborn children

asleep in the abandoned college
where the mayor of the village,
a Communist called Bruno
begrudged us free electric.
I quoted Lenin’s famous maxim
and he drove us to Beziers

one Saturday afternoon;
me in my yellow kerchief,
polka-dot shirt and fedora hat;
you in your thin peasant dress.
We bet who’d receive the finest
proposals and opted for a sauna
with the young Catalans.

Oh, Jesus, you would whisper
in your soft Northern tongue
as we bit into vendange tardive.
You clawed and kissed the icon
at your neck before we burst
into Rabelaisian giggles.

Did you smile – just a little –
as you thought of the fruit
being lifted by those
with dishonest intentions?

 

 

 

Ray Miller – he’s somewhere between T.S.Eliot and George Formby when he’d like to be between Althia and Donna.

 

Gooseberry – by Ceinwen Haydon

 

You. Pale green orb, cream-licked,
sprout pubic down of youth,
moonballs flipped from Mars’ sky.
Will you, your bushy branches part
and –
seeing how I pant
hold back your spelky thorns?
Or will stiletto thrusts penetrate
my flesh, draw scarlet wine
from secret folds?

I had a bobble-popper necklace, as a girl,
It shared your hue and glittered
As I sucked each hard blob
whilst writing homework.
I tried not to bite, and yet my teeth
still left sharp-needled scars.
If I taste your juice fresh squeezed
I’ll fall to hell in tart-sweet sin.

 

 

 

 

Ceinwen lives in Newcastle upon Tyne and writes short (and not so short) stories and poetry. She has been published on curated internet sites and in print anthologies. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

Winners! June Monthly Awards

All the shortlisted poems received a healthy number of votes, but the winning Readers’ Choice Poem is

The Theology of the Anderson Shelter – by Jean Atkin

The Editor’s Choice Poem for June was chosen by Jane Kite who said:

“Each of the poems revealed more and became more surprising as I read them over and again and attuned to their rhythms.  The winner, We don’t know what to do with the dead things by Louisa Campbell repelled me at first, not only for its subject matter but because I’m not keen on rhyming couplets. I kept coming back to it though, because of its unusual point of view and that it catches something I haven’t found before in a poem. Sonnet 917-589-9XXX by Drew Pisarra was a close second – a well constructed and sensitive poem

Congratulations to both our winners, Jean and Louisa.

We only came for the sky – by Tom Sastry

 

We, who weren’t born to this
have fallen among walkers again:

mired in Gandalf-talk
Celtic mountain names crunched under the tongue
and exhaled as polite boasts;

a thesaurus of tired weather-words
squalling to no conclusion;

the sighs of health and aching limbs;

three hours gathering, chopping, bringing in
and turning foragings into weak broth
before drinking away
the last of the day’s fire.

There’s no need
to foul their crisp breakfast with our temper.

We can just let them go.

They will look surprised and leave happily,
perhaps glance knowingly at our door.

Later, we’ll watch blue-ink clouds
pool on distant rock-tips.

 

 

 

Tom Sastry lives and writes in Bristol. In 2016 he was chosen by Carol Ann Duffy as one of the 2016 Laureate’s Choice poets. His first pamphlet, Complicity was one of the Poetry School’s books of the year for 2016 and was Poetry Book Society pamphlet choice for Spring 2017.

Three bird four-liners, one bird three-liner and one bird two-liner – by Glenn Hubbard

 

No point looking for a bee-eater when you hear one.
They throw their voices or just move too fast. I dunno.
Your best bet is to look where the sound didn’t come from.
Or you could give up. Look at something else. A heron, maybe. You know.

Magpies would make you sick.
Nice colours it’s true.
But when they hop and then pounce on a helpless chick,
you tend not to focus on the iridescent blue.

The corn bunting can drive you crackers
with that song like jangling keys.
It’s not just those of a nervous disposition that go bonkers.
I’ve seen bird-besotted ornithologists brought to their knees.

What is it about a pigeon that turns a Jekyll into a Hyde?
I think it’s the way it moves its head.
Like it’s spent many years carrying a hod.

Has anyone ever seen a long-tailed tit having a breather?
Me neither.

 

 

 

 

Glenn Hubbard lives in Madrid. He is fluent in Spanish, but poetic only in English, especially about birds. He has been reading poetry for many years but only started writing in 2012. His poetry has appeared in The Bow-Wow Shop and will appear in The High Window and Carillon later in 2017