My brother wants to shoot cats – by Roddy Williams

My brother wants to shoot cats

and send everyone back home
He rests both hands on his walking stick
He says That’s what I’d do

He’s built a computer in his shed
or so he said
My brother talks very loudly
so the cats can hear him coming
besides he’d have to manage
the gun and the stick
He wouldn’t want Benefits
hearing about that

I don’t say much to be honest
as it generates another
list of what he’d do

He wants to stop sex education
He says That’s what I’d do
He says that no one needs it
He had none in his school
They just taught him to hate cats
and to send everyone back home

That’s what they did

 

 

 

Born and raised in North Wales, Roddy Williams now lives in London. His poetry has appeared in ‘The Frogmore Papers’, ‘Magma’, ‘The Rialto’, ‘Envoi’, ‘Stand’ and other magazines. He’s had two plays performed in London and his first collection of poetry is due out this year, He is also a photographer, printmaker and painter.

Dirges for Two Distant Lovers – by Ugwu Erochukwu Shedrach

 
i.

for Anny

i have walked past your absence –

40 miles across the moorlands.
i want you again, back into
my sombre body, swallowed
by protracted maladies –
of stained glasses & neon trees.
i am seated in the dark
of extinction, it’s hard
to light a candle now.

ii.

for Ashraqat


i have made the shahadah

my tongue’s best friend –
i am a wilted ixora, lamenting
in my modicum chamber
of regret & dying like
the sun at dusk. now you
are free. swift like the wind
& soft as shadow. i will
carve out your face from an urn,
& fill its hollow with flowers.

 

 

Ugwu Erochukwu Shedrach writes from the city of Enugu in Nigeria. A
soil scientist & a moral philosophy enthusiast.

Blue – by Amelia Walker

 

The first blue I knew was blood.

Later there would be skies and oceans,
eyes and sapphires, petals, ink, plastic lids
of pens my teachers said, don’t chew.
The skin-ripple of a hushed tattoo.

The blue of singers, songs, the sounds
and shoes, jeans, dresses, uniforms
I wore reluctantly, eyeliner brandished with glee.
There would be bruises. Planets. Marbles.

But first, the blood.
And when we cut ourselves we rust.
A kind of blossoming, a bloom
of buds unfolding just to die.

We are fields of roses, yes,
in lips and finger tips, the speckled light.
We could not be fire were we not also smoke.
Could not be red without the blue.

The first blue I knew was living.
The first blue I knew was blood.

 

 

 

Amelia Walker is a South Australian writer. She works at a university and lives near the coast.

The Octopus Dreams on its Skin – by Nigel King 

 

She read this somewhere. 
She thinks about it now
while she watches his restless sleep, 
 
his hand tensed as if gripping hers 
tight, outside the closed door 
to her parents’ living room, 
 
his lips moving 
as if to the words 
of their song that summer, 
 
a corner of his mouth moist 
as if from the last drops of Sangria  
shared on the hotel terrace, 
 
his hair wild, like it was  
on the promenade last November  
when the salt wind lashed. 
 
She turns her eyes to the tubes  
that snake from his body, 
hears the beeps and thrums, 
 
pictures him, an old time diver 
lowered into the depths, 
through kelp, scatters of small fry, 
 
into a kaleidoscopic burst  
of colour, lighting the murk, 
the welcoming Host.  

 

 

Nigel King lives in Almondbury, Huddersfield. His poems have been published recently in The High Window, Poetry Salzburg Review and Three Drops From A Cauldron. His first collection, What I Love About Daleks, was published by Calder Valley Poetry in 2017.

Bear with squeeze box – by Andrea Small

 

arrives in the night
gap-toothed    goggling
 
grunts into bed 
frayed rope dragging
 
rough head on my pillow
plays nightmares into me
 
I wake under his ragged paws
his hot stink    glass button eyes

 

 

 
Andrea Small lives in Sheffield. She is a member of Heeley Women Writers and is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan.University. She runs singing groups for all sorts of people, believing that we all can – and should – sing.

These Tiny Stars – by Marie-Louise Eyres

 

There is a constellation
of calcifications
 
these tiny stars 
sit tight
amongst grey matter
 
like fireflies 
in the branches                     
of a thick pine
after dark
 
and nearby loom                   
the larger moons, 
glowing from i.v contrast,
 
white snakes 
with full bellies
coiling 
around
my brain.

 

 

 

In 2018 Marie-Louise was shortlisted for the Bridport poetry prize and the Myslexia poetry competition. She lives in Washington DC but hails from the UK. 

Running in a Pokey Wonderland – by Stuart Pickford

For Tim Pocock

 

As an act of rebellion, we run at lunch.
Like always, you turn up naked
except for vest and loincloth shorts. 
The trees wear frozen expressions,
not gloves and bobble hat like me. 
 
While I do star jumps from a boot camp,
you faff around with your GPS watch.
Beyond the moon, a satellite raises its thumb—
we’re off. You tell me about your wedding
and Harriers, your mates with proper names.
 
We pass a eucalyptus dreaming Oz.
Gulls insist on the same question.
About to point out the unidentified bird
on the unidentified gatepost, you barge in
with lap times, split times, See the minutes,
 
how they run, you wink; then pause 
the watch for seven seconds at the road. 
Later you log the data, ring me: 
The good thing about being married,
you can really spend time on your stats.

 

 

Stuart Pickford lives in Harrogate and teaches in a local comprehensive school. He is married with three children. His second collection, Swimming with Jellyfish (2016), was published by smith/doorstop.

Raven – by Ruth Aylett

 

The tide’s out, the sand muscle–ridged,
and its two-footed bounce
is always behind you, pan-pan,
heart-beat, heart-beat.
It reports to the one-eyed old man;
memorises your sandy track
as one wing sweeps it clean;
your direction is its thought.

Meet its black-eyed challenge:
come on then, if you think
you are hard enough. King Raven
is top of the tree, sweeps
all the baubles away, blunt beak
ready to search wounds, dig out
the sweet softness of an upturned eye.

‘Have you hung there long enough?’
asks the old man. Sea-swept sand
space-dizzies into wings, skims
you cawing into the empty sky

 

 

 

Ruth Aylett lives in Edinburgh where she teaches and researches university-level computing. She was joint author with Beth McDonough of the pamphlet Handfast, published in 2016. One of four authors of the online epic Granite University, she performed with Sarah the Poetic Robot at the 2012 Edinburgh Free Fringe. She has been published by Antiphon, The Lake, New Writing Scotland, South Bank Poetry, Envoi, Bloodaxe Books, Poetry Scotland, Red Squirrel Press, Doire Press and others. See www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/writing.html for more.

Flashback – by Patrick Dorrian

 

From a distant yet familiar place,
The urgent ‘whop, whop’ of the helicopter,
Woke the household, it’s searchlight
Flickering from street to cliff,
someone
Was missing on Cavehill.
But this time, I was not in the present,
I had woken in winter 72,
The ‘whop, whop’ was a British Army helicopter,
Keeping station overhead, it’s searchlight
Flickering from street to street.
Illuminating the orchestra of terror,
The rumble of armoured cars,
Shouted orders, bangs from busted doors,
Screams from women and children
All underscored by the baleful banging 
Of metal dustbin lids rising from street to street,
As the women of the Falls warned their neighbours,
The British were looking for men to intern.

 

 

 

 

Patrick is a 67 yr old Grandfather of one, father of 3, married. His former occupation was a second level school teacher of geography and general subjects. His ‘writing’ began as a stress reliever, and is untutored, in that he has never been taught how to write poetry.

The Guide Book Advises Carrying Water – by Catharine Clark-Sayles

 

The El Tovar had room but there was no sunset
gradual grey through the western clouds
as mist filled infinite space   for a perfect 
five minutes the Angel appeared   bright fire 
streaked across miles of red earth and I
had no one to tell   so held the glory alone

 

 

 

 

 

Catharine is a doctor practicing geriatrics just north of San Francisco, and working on a MFA in poetry and narrative medicine.  Her fantasy is to go on continuing medical education cruises and teach the doctors to write poetry. Her new chapbook, Brats, is just out from Finishing Line Press.