We went there to escape the rain in northern summers,
took a torch. Took a tartan tin of broken biscuits,
the kind bought by the pound in paper bags.
We even took our macs – the planks were slimy
on their milk crates and behind our backs
green water wept on Accrington brick.
Even the Catholics cheated at cards
and there were slugs.
In the right week, we took woody pears off the tree
which loomed over the shelter and must
have known the world before the wars.
We ate its fruits and pieced together sex
from Woman’s Own. We argued
about the afterlife, its steps from Purgatory
to God, and whether, unbaptised,
my brother and I
might merit Limbo.
Jean Atkin’s collection ‘Not Lost Since Last Time’ is published by Oversteps Books and she has also published five poetry pamphlets and a children’s novel. Her poems have won various prizes and recent work appears in Magma, Envoi, The North, Earthlines and The Moth. She has held many residencies in both England and Scotland, and works in education and community projects. www.jeanatkin.com and Twitter @wordsparks
after Harold Gilman
She perches on the edge of the bed clasping her right knee
smiling, leaning forward, but he’s thinking about Walter Sickert,
new ways with colour to make the bed sheets dance, stroking them
with stripes: blue, mauve, green and pink. That strong glow
from the red curtains behind her and the dark plums of the sofa
warm everything up, even her flesh, saggy and past its best;
see, yellow highlights make it sing, and light settles on her
rounded shoulders like a mantle. A sponge floats
in a red-rimmed bowl of water; dark finger-marks dent it
like skull sockets, but this is a lively scene with a cheery lady.
Put your brush down, deary; time yet for a bit of fun.
Sue Norton has had poems published in various magazines. She lives in York.
Skin them, chop them, stuff them in a pie.
Boil them up with vegetables. Put them on to fry.
Take them to a taxidermist; pose them in glass cases.
Use their hides for furry hats (but don’t look at their faces).
Dress them up in pretty clothes and lay them down in boxes.
Bury them deep underground to save them from the foxes.
Stick their heads on wooden poles, outside the city gate.
Add some coloured circles and display them in the Tate.
Drop them in the deepest sea, in a lead-lined coffin.
Donate them to the lab to be dissected by a boffin.
Seal them up in pyramids with hoards of golden treasure.
Put them in a carriage, drawn by horses wearing feathers.
Stand them up in catacombs. Sing a hymn of sorrow.
Chuck them in the freezer now and work it out tomorrow.
Louisa Campbell hangs around English spa towns. A psychiatric nurse in the past, she now has a bizarre illness, so she writes, and adopts stray dogs. She has realised that life is silly, but important, and she is very happy about that.
This old bucket has hunkered
upside down in the garden
since your house was yours.
It is a good bucket, protected
by philadelphus and sacrificial zinc
and still functional though rust
edges into its seams and rivets.
Tap the side; listen to the void.
Pick it up, turn it over;
feel it start to fill with rain.
Ian Glass grew up in Northumberland and lives in Worcestershire. He trained as an engineer, works as a computer programmer and writes most of his poetry when he should be doing something else.
Archaeologists can date a site by examining the jaw bones of voles and the marks on their teeth enamel.
In layered earth
grooved teeth, chipped bone
measure silent years
tell uncountable time.
The cautious trowel
discloses buried fragments
to expert scrutiny.
This mark – a hundred thousand years.
A scurry of ghost voles through the grass –
one, caught by hawk or owl
or dead from cold
leaves its frail footprint on the world
numbers our selfish time
no more than breath
and death an exhalation
a second’s tick in vastness
too huge to comprehend.
After decades teaching in the north of England and Scotland, Lynda Turbet now observes the world from rural Norfolk, and tries to make sense of it all through writing.
I was drunk
all of the time
& I still ended
up with her.
the urge to
story. I will
Darren currently lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio and his poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review.
His most recent collection Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly was published by 8th House Publishing. He is also the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry.
On Saturday night she’ll surrender,
offer herself to the ritual of scant skirt,
face paint and long boots, bulbs
of mascara dripping from her lids.
The pandemonium of The Temple,
its constant purge of drum and bass.
Raised above them, the messiah
of the glass box, preaching his trance
gospel to a scagged out congregation,
all cocktails, glow sticks, stamps on the backs of hands.
She’ll be kissing ecstasy, tasting Apollo,
searching for The Tribe of Levi,
flying in the face of strobe light angels.
Twenty yokes down she’s repenting
behind an alabaster Ford Escort at the back
of a car park in Ballybricken.
Later on when she comes down,
she’ll realise that God is not a DJ,
find Jesus in her tears in the taxi home.
Clifton Redmond lives in Carlow, Ireland. He is a member of the Carlow Writer’s Co-operative and has had work published in Orbis, Antiphon, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Silver Apples and various other journals in Ireland, Britain and America. In 2015 he was long listed for the Over The Edge Poetry Contest and Shortlisted for the Fermoy International Poetry Prize. This year he was chosen to take part in W.I.S.P.A. (Welsh, Irish Spoken Word Alliance).