Later she went in with flowers, like honey in broken glass
for the hollow women with little fires in their chest
that refused to be put out, for herself, for the hell
of it, for the green apple stem and earth
and in the darkness there was colour, small strewn flags,
yellow like morning, red for dusk.
They let them in, clutched unsearched as if a flower
were a holy thing even to them, even to a man in black
gloves looking for bombs, opening and closing gates
to the narrow crack, as if flowers were mourning
ghosts falling like rain on every prison’s roof.
She took them in, hoping the rain would fall
and every spat word, waiting hurt, every gloss wall,
mirror blurred, every no glass vase
would expand, bloom, transform itself
to dance like wildfire through a burning house.
She took them in because they said what was in her heart,
what could not be said in ink: it is summer in the mind,
cherries are falling on the grass under branch,
this is your house, this is my house, these our flowers.
Avril Joy’s short fiction has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies and has been shortlisted in competitions including the Bridport and the Manchester Prize for Fiction. In 2012 she won the inaugural Costa Short Story Award. Her latest novel, Sometimes a River Song, is published by Linen Press. In 2019 her poem Skomm won first prize in the York Mix poetry competition. She is currently working on a sequence of poems reflecting her twenty-five years spent working in a women’s prison in County Durham.
Bridget Riley had read that
it was Monet’s vanity that had stopped him wearing glasses.
He never saw stars after the age of 14
caught the wrong buses
botched the paintings of his out of focus garden.
She decided to have her eyes tested.
“Can you read the middle line, Bridget?”
“O -P -A -R -T”
“Is it easier to see the Red circle
or the Green oblong?”
“Now Look at the lines,
Which are the clearest; horizontal or vertical?”
“They’re both a bit wobbly, but the vertical”
“Now Compare these lenses”
“The second is definitely better!”
The world came into her focus.
She tried the frames
then caught the right bus home.
Steve Harrison born in Yorkshire and now lives in Shropshire where he worked teaching. His work appears in various forms from The Emergency Poet collections, The Physic Garden, Pop Shot, Mid-Winter Solstice to Wetherspoons News. He regularly performs across the Midlands and won the Ledbury Poetry Festival Slam in 2014.
Once, I had a name as smooth and clear
as all the streams of Poland; it poured through ears
like melting snow; but over here
it warped to ugly consonants
which clattered off your tongues
like Scrabble tiles.
In the local coffee shop last week,
baristas pounded out their war drums,
bashing out the grit of coffee grounds.
What name? said the Recording Angel at the counter,
poised with a tattered ballpoint and plastic cup;
the queue behind me snorted in frustration.
I stared straight through my spectacles and hers
into brown eyes. Jim, I said, biting
a suddenly unwieldy tongue.
Nairn Kennedy lives in Yorkshire, and is a member of the York Stanza Group. He’s been a prizewinner in the Ilkley Walter Swan competition twice, and been published in Ambit and Orbis.
Underneath the park bench
there were four loose pieces of a jigsaw
face down in the frost. I turned each one over
and they were all sky.
Is that always the hardest part to get right?
I look up to the real thing
and with my son in my arms I can’t tell
where one piece ends and the next begins.
Stewart Carswell is from the Forest of Dean and currently lives in Cambridgeshire. His poems have been published in Envoi, Ink Sweat & Tears, and The Fenland Reed. His debut pamphlet was Knots and Branches (Eyewear, 2016). http://stewartcarswell.wordpress.com Twitter: @stewcarswell
She used to wake on a Pokémon pillow,
uniform hooked on a shell pink drawer,
liked a laugh with her bestie at the bus stop.
Miles from school now.
A fingered Daily Mail in the foyer, centre-fold
her family- LIVE-IN-LUXURY SCROUNGERS.
No word of knickers in the sink half-dry,
Her pull-out bed.
In the street, cars sneer, next room’s TV growls.
Some days she dreams of cottage pie. Mum wraps
a blanket round the twins, hopes for news
they can go home.
The law stops them: contracts, courts, files.
She can’t tell Mum about the Mail.
A baked bean tin sits on a heater.
It will be warm by tea.
‘unpeople’ coined by John Pilger in Hidden Agendas
Helen’s poems sometime pop up in magazines. She was recently placed second in the Leeds Poetry Peace and Wakefield Sanctuary competitions, and highly commended in the Shelter Competition on the theme of Home. She spends too much time on facebook.
Those Pyjamas –
from Debenhams sale
with climbing roses
in soft grey
lie empty, folded,
not worn enough.
You seemed so
pleased with them.
That male nurse
named you ‘Model’–
stem-thin at 90
flowering all the way.
Helen Freeman loves reading and writing poems and has been published in several online sites such as Barren Magazine, Red River Review, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Clear Poetry, Algebra of Owls, Corbel Stone Press, Sukoon, Open Mouse and Ground Poetry. She lives in two polar opposite cities – Riyadh and Edinburgh.
was the name
of two battles
in the fall
that is also
when my dad
went for lunch
a side dish
and the waiter
all they had
were Saratoga Chips
a big name for a
potato, is what
said to me
that in fact
were invented in
Saratoga Lakes in
when a picky
asked the chef
to cut the tuber
in the finest way
which is to say
that if there had not been
for the battles
there would be no Lays,
no potato chip varieties,
just like if there was
there would have been
Rebeca Leal Singer´s work has been published in Eleven and a Half, the New School’s student journal. She is currently working on her chapbook I go Back and Forth from Looking at my Phone to Looking at You. Her goal in life is to make complicated things become simpler.