sometimes friends / sunglasses / slapped on lotion / sand stinging summer /
it’s not time / for hibernation / curling in on yourself like a hedgehog of
winter trying to keep ice outside / a tsunami of grief frozen in middle /
in deep centre of your landscape / where no-one can see the missing the /
sometimes it’s not time / curling in sometimes / where no-one can see in
deep centre of your landscape / sometimes slapped on lotion stinging summer /
sometimes hibernation missing / summer missing / like a hedgehog of winter /
a tsunami of grief frozen / it’s not time / no-one can see / keep ice out / friends
in deep centre / landscape friends in deep
Bethany Rivers’ pamphlet, Off the wall, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2016. She mentors writers and teaches creative writing. She loves the accumulating poetry books on her shelves, reading by the fire with a cat in her lap, and running poetry inspiration/healing days.
Our Editor’s Choice poem for January/February will be selected by Antony Dunn.
Antony Dunn lives in Leeds. Winner of the Newdigate Prize and an Eric Gregory Award, he has published four collections of poems, Pilots and Navigators, Flying Fish, Bugs and, most recently, Take This One to Bed (Valley Press, October 2016).
He edited and introduced Ex Libris, a posthumous collection of poems by David Hughes (Valley Press, 2015).
Antony is a regular tutor for The Poetry School and the Arvon Foundation. He has worked on a number of translation projects with poets from Holland, Hungary, China and Israel, and was Poet in Residence at the University of York for 2006 and at the Ilkley Literature Festival in 2010.
He is Artistic Director of Bridlington Poetry Festival, and no relation to Joan Hunter.
Green Lanes groaned in the July heat
cars choked on each other’s fumes
rows of fermenting fruit and veg sweated
it out on street stalls, between the buzz
of flies and tetchy wasps. I carried
you from the taxi in gleaming white
over the cracked tiles, into the cool
hallway of your new home. That night
I couldn’t sleep. I sat instead on the futon edge
watched your tiny limbs twitch in your cot
and listened to the soft chirp of your breath.
Getting up for a glass of water, I pulled on
the kitchen light. A dozen startled cockroaches
like a band of dark knights, scuttled into corners,
chitinous armour chinking spite. I bolted
to the bedroom, lifted the corner of the bed
and saw, under the dark warmth of the mattress,
a monstrous mass of squirming black.
Jane Salmons is a teacher living and working in the Black Country. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing and has been previously published in Snakeskin, I am not a Silent Poet and Creative Writing Ink. In her precious free time, she also enjoys creating hand-made photomontage and is to have artwork and poetry published together in Ink, Sweat and Tears in the near future.
I obsess about the botfly.
Catching mosquitos to carry
her eggs, which hatch
on warm skin, enter
via the holes left by proboscises.
The larva will chew its way out,
a head out of an ankle
like a train from a mountain tunnel.
More accurate: I am phobic
of the botfly. I know little
of its habitat but think of it
when some flying thing brushes
my leg, when my son complains
of bees, ants, or moths.
I have never seen a botfly larva.
I cannot bring myself to look.
I already know it well, the desire
to crawl inside someone else
and gnaw my way out.
What good would it do me
to see my own worm face?
My son picks at his bug bites,
his sanctity scratched until
bloody. He excoriates his skin,
wounds his own nose, scalp.
Splits open his toe, scratches
hangnails until rawness sides his fingers.
He can never know about botflies.
How can I tell him it is possible
for something besides himself
to live in his skin?
Katherine Anderson Howell writes and parents in Washington, D.C. A recovering academic, she has published in academic journals and presses. Her work in non-academic genres can be found in Women in Higher Education, The Rumpus, and Snapdragon: A Journal of Arts and Healing.
Who’s this? says my grandson
poking the Ché Guevara refrigerator magnet
we’d picked up at a tourist shop in Paris,
such a bougie thing to have El Ché’s image.
He was a soldier, I offer, swamped by Batista,
by Motorcycle Diaries’ humanity,
the medical student saving life,
he was killed in his war.
We’d heard a lean girl in a seaside resto tell her friend
I saw that movie. I almost felt guilty.
My five-year-old grandson snorts, delicately.
Soldiers don’t die, he proclaims,
they know how to protect themselves.
Star Wars and careful parents
have taught him near-guarantees.
Sometimes the war is too big,
they can’t protect themselves enough,
I reply, then wonder
why I need to convince him
the world will be too big for him,
the world will be more than he can bear.
Karen Greenbaum-Maya, retired clinical psychologist, German major, two-time Pushcart nominee and occasional photographer, no longer lives for Art but still thinks about it a lot. Kattywompus Press publishes her two chapbooks, Burrowing Song and Eggs Satori. Kelsay Books publishes her book-length collection, The Book of Knots and their Untying. www.cloudslikemountains.blogspot.com
On the day they buried Jean-Paul Sartre,
a young man fell
shortly before they lowered the coffin.
20,000 people stood watching
in Montparnasse cemetery,
where close-by Baudelaire
lay next to his hated stepfather.
No one ever said what happened after.
If someone in the massive crowd
of mourners offered a hand.
If Simone herself stood up from
the chair they’d placed at the foot
of the plot and reached in.
I like to imagine him somewhere now
briefly removing the pipe from his mouth
to relay this story yet again
to his adult kids,
or his philosophy class,
or his latest mistress.
A topic of conversation
at parties among intellectuals
and friends. A point of
introduction. This is Guillaume
or Jean-Luc or Christophe.
“He fell in Sartre’s grave.”
I like to imagine he learned something
from the man he almost replaced,
and pulled himself up
by his own free will.
Clint Margrave is the author of Salute the Wreckage (2016) and The Early Death of Men (2012), both published by NYQ Books. His work has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, as well as in New York Quarterly, Rattle, Cimarron Review, Verse Daily, The American Journal of Poetry, Word Riot, and Ambit (UK), among others. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.
He drives her to Lake Simcoe. At the jetty,
fishermen are heading out to the huts.
She’s imagining live bait and hooks
when he swings the wheel, swerves onto the ice.
Earlier, she’d run her measured route,
pushed a personal best with her GPS.
After her shower, she’d wound the towel
into a turban, dressed with her back turned.
Now, she doesn’t look at him to say,
Idiot. He answers by hitting the gas,
speeds towards Georgina, the Ojibwa island.
The Chevy lurches. Swearing, they tip
into the crevasse that’s opened under pressure.
He checks the wedged front tyres, tells her
to sit tight in the back with the heating on,
the engine ticking over. He slams the door.
Light weakens. Trekking back he finds
the car’s silent—so far across the floes
to the island. He couldn’t make them understand.
Breaking in, his torch cuts up the darkness.
There she is, upright; her body wrapped
in white insulation ripped from the ceiling;
her cheeks made up with glitter, frost
in her hair; queen of the coldest stars.
Stuart Pickford works in a comprehensive school in Harrogate. He is married with three children.