Running Shoes – by Mark Connors

 

They strew themselves about the house,
still trying to look useful, relevant:
the grey Nikes from my first half marathon
in Lancaster, just short of a sub two hours.
I bumped into Kim Moore at the end,
drinking tea. She’d been back a while.
I sometimes wear them to the shops,
in fields, on beaches, in sand dunes.
The last time I put them on
I was reminded of a trip to Holy Island
by invasive piri piri burrs.

The blue and yellow trail shoes
that share affinities with Leeds United:
always dirty in their day, always ready
for a cameo when a medal’s up for grabs,
never beaten, until the embers of injury time.
They ran me from Liverpool to Manchester
when the Beast from the East returned
for a mean and memorable encore,
12 hours and fifty fucking miles
of rain and snow in biblical downpours;
a final lap of a rugby field in Didsbury,
that felt more like a park run in a monsoon.

The black and white pair
that have scaled the moors, the lanes,
the paths and bridleways
for a thousand miles or more
since we tipped up in Laycock.
They have no traction left
but look smashing with blue jeans
and an AC/DC t shirt.

The pair of ADIDAS
that got me through a marriage break up,
took me more miles on the canal
than a Hinny or Pit Pony
and every mile of 26 and a bit in Edinburgh,
from cobbled street to sea at Portobello.
I wear them when I haven’t been myself
to remind me I can get through anything.

Mums in Wetsuits – by Anna Cole

 

We are mums in wetsuits
Our bums are big
Our stomachs round
Our breasts strain against the thick, black neoprene
We are zipped in and ready.

We are mums in wetsuits
We hold our body boards
towards the sky
And stride into the salt.
We watch our daughters float and fly on wave back
far out
we do not fear for them
For we have raised them
Us, the fucking fearless mums in wetsuits.
Strength courses through us
Our cores of flint
That birthed those long limbed girls
And edged them on into the crowning,
dancing waves
shouting ‘swim!’

We are mums in wetsuits
We packed lunches and suncream
Rugs and spare pants
Towels and raincoats
Wind breaks and footballs
Hats and crisps and drinks and spades
We buy ice cream and chips
We towel and wipe and dry,
And clap our cricketing, sharp angled freckled boys.

We are mums in wetsuits
Laughing in the gasping, surging break
As the surf takes hold.
Salt crusts in our crows feet,
mascara streams down our faces and on to the wind whipped pink cheeks of our girlhoods.

We are mums in wetsuits
We are in chest deep.
Somewhere in the pale blue distance a sandy toddler cries
Our ears are filled with rushing water
And we answer no child’s call
But thrust our greying heads into the center of the wave
And feel it rise
And fall.

Time to Vote – April/May Readers’ Choice Poem

To celebrate the return of AoO from its 7-day-expired-domain-name-wilderness, it’s time to select the winning Readers’ Choice poem for April and May by the usual democratic method.

The contenders are below. Please vote and make a poet happy. Results will be posted in a week’s time from now….

Together – by Stewart Carswell

Unpeople Stay in a Travelodge – by Helen Kay

Those Pyjamas – by Helen Freeman

Most Determined Daughter – by Gareth Writer-Davies

Blue – by Amelia Walker

 

 

 

 

 

 

enough to let go – by Ceinwen Haydon

 

he says fuck off   an act of selfless grace
and surfs on waves of pain curled by her distaste
echoes break on shores  in broken conch shells
her whispers of fled love amplify  ungainly and again

he surfs waves of pain curled by her distaste
her dishonest silence  closet-cowardice  end-freighted
her whispers of fled love amplify  ungainly and again
he dares gather  push her out beyond his spurned hungers

her dishonest silence  closet-cowardice  end-freighted
stirs his pity to one last act  intimate with knowing love
he dares gather  push her out beyond his spurned hungers
she/sweeps/away/ on fast currents   he  washed-out  remains

stirs his pity to one last act  intimate with knowing love
echoes break on shores  in broken conch shells
she  sweeps  away on fast currents  he/washed-out/remains
he says fuck off   an act of selfless grace

 

 

 

 

Ceinwen lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. She graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in 2017. She believes everyone’s voice counts.