Thirteen ways of looking at the smartphone – by Moira Garland

after Wallace Stevens 
 
1.     Lights up like a child’s eye 
                  on a fairground ride
                  on a hot, hot day.
 
2.     Small letters balloon
                  hundreds of miles up to the satellite
                  splashing words down 
                  into nano spaces.
 
3.     Cupped in one hand,
                  sheltered by the other,
                  cold in the rain
 
4.     The man without wires, 
deafens his ears
                   looks vacant.
 
5.     We believe we are spiders
                   making pearl-draped webs
                   of meaning.
 
6.     Aeroplane mode: as if 
                  we can open windows
                  swipe the sky.
 
7.     Remember the squat green phone
                  (so trendy in the living room),
                  after six o’clock
                  you held the handset, finger 
                  round and round?
 
8.     Did you rush to get the key
                  in the door when you heard the bell,
                  as exciting as 
                  the clack of the letter box each morning?
 
9.     Who is the thirty-year old
                   running in the snow
                   ears open, eyes open?
 
10.  Children pick 
                  at the cobalt, shouldering
                  guns, so that the elements
                  glow in a dark continent.
 
11.  Battery failing,
                  its core broken, 
                  a mortal carcass.
 
12.  When you get to the end of
                   your life will they give you the time
                   back you spent with the screen?
 
13.  Your    tongue    stored on the cloud? 
                  Your    hands         a stylus on skin?
                  Your    breath          virtual reality?

 

 

 

Moira arrived in Leeds via Liverpool, Warrington, Hong Kong, Cheshire, York and Huddersfield. Prior to poetry taking hold she worked as a bottle-packer, graph sorter-outer, medical secretary and lecturer, accompanied by a few fun things: melodeon playing, knitting and a son.

How You Will Identify My Body – by Sallyanne Rock

 

Spare key engraved across right palm
Fingerprints on each side of jaw    Look at me when I’m talking to you
Slight spinal curvature indicating bowed head
Tan line on the ring finger of the wrong hand
Fun-house mirror under each eyelid
Scar behind left ear    They’ll kill you if you tell
Small holes in ventricles consistent with piercing
Alternative names inscribed on the soles of the feet
Indent of hooks around both clavicles
Blunt force injury to the startle reflex    He told me to do it
Knee caps with imprint of hymn book
A birthmark in the shape of a birthmark.

 

 

 

Sallyanne Rock is an emerging poet living in Worcestershire, UK. She has been published in various places online and in print, and can often be found tweeting @sallrockspoetry

Running by Duntrune, or anywhere – by Beth McDonough

Running by Duntrune, or anywhere,

there are burns which probably never were.
I don’t mean any grand-splashing course,
not even wellie paddle-joy deeps.
Just some wonder of something,
overcovered by full-on June’s green.

Damp into a place where light switches off.
Possibly, there’ll be a wee waterway,
a field drain or some little ditch.
Hidden by herbage, in less nippy nettles,
or nodded at longings of elegant foxgloves.
Then the odd hogweed shoots up.

Perhaps in this hot spell, down there’s 
just mud. Hard-cracked and heartless. 
Maybe, at other times, rain offers fun,
to gargle, over-run pebbles and sand.
All that could shrink, be stagnant, stink
under autumn’s warm clouds and fly swarms.

In a month, imagine frothed meadowsweet –
­no, I know you can’t see it yet.

This could brim bronze, be all cress in excess.
I don’t care if you don’t fancy soup.
What if we’ve found the old farm march?
Or just leaves, where nothing ever existed.

Shall I part all the brambles, 
sticky willie-velcro dog roses, 
with cross-scratched-to-buggery limbs?
Or will I just drop three grey stones
into whatever this is or was never,
run on, before I hear their fall stop?

 

 

 

 

Beth McDonough’s poetry appears in Causeway, Antiphon, Interpreter’s House and elsewhere; she reviews in DURA. Handfast (2016, with Ruth Aylett) explores family experiences – Aylett’s of dementia. and McDonough’s of autism. She finds poems in and near the Tay.

Girls’ Education – by Penelope Kease

 

We didn’t do science – just the domestic sort.
The chemistry of cakes, the physics of flans,
The microbiology of meringues.

Still, our teacher wore a white coat,
drew grains of flour on the blackboard,
they’ll expand gently when you add

the liquid cold, she said,
you must do this before the hot,
then return the lot to the pan.

We never learned the periodic table
only how to lay one for dinner.
Our gravies were always smooth.

 

 

Penelope Kease lives and writes in Oxfordshire, a lifetime away from her Bristol childhood. She holds a recent MA in Writing from the University of Warwick.

A Tattoo of Lenin, Brooklyn – by John Maerhofer

 

People who kill revolutions are sometimes those who value poetry and read it in dim-lit cafés.
Here, they sip lattés outside abridged bagel shops
Late Tuesday mornings. 
Engaged in eloquent conversations with their phones,
Dribbles of milk and absorbed conversations frost their beards.
 
I don’t speak to them, but instead think of a tattoo of Lenin I saw once 
On the forearm of a young man.
 
Chuckling, I catch the eye of the coffee shop worker who shaped the milk-foam of my cappuccino
Into a dripping, pale heart.
She probably knows I’m there to spy on them, holding nothing to obscure my expression.
We both find comfort in being disconnected, if only to find loathing
In short gestures of levity and pretext.
 
Meanwhile, Lenin stares at me from the corner of his painted eye,
Resting on a cold wood table
Made from a rotted tree trunk 
And glazed with dark maple paint.
We secretly condemn forms of imperialist extraction
And what there IS to be done,
Beyond the confines of this Brooklyn café.
I get no answer, just the haughty voice of a post-hipster selling houses in the gig economy.
 
When I re-enter the sunned cold,
I desire to unfasten the hinges of subway doors and their owners.

 

 

John Maerhofer is a writer and activist living in Brooklyn with 3 cats.

Last Catch – by Eilin de Paor

 

We pulled the rental car over to the dirt track verge.
Fela Kuti on the radio died away. Snakes scuttered under brush.
The sign boasted the first and freshest continental fish.
What could be better on a day like this?

And as we ate, finger-licking, I felt it underneath the peace,
A tremor through my teeth: The rumble of Kuti’s Africa.
The breaths and deaths of millions.
A clamorous zest.

As the land pointed out to meet the sea,
We picked the oily flesh
And felt our own soft bony lives trickle out our
spines
In blooming navy slicks atop the waves.

 

 

Eilín de Paor is an emerging Dublin poet. A latecomer to writing, she is a parent of two, working with people with intellectual disabilities and lecturing in disability studies. Her poetry debuted in February 2018 in The Runt Zine and in a Kevin Bateman Presents YouTube event. She can be found on Twitter at: @edepaor #bitofapoem

A place on the sofa – by Lesley Burt

 

Spiky horsehairs, disguised by a patchwork
coverlet, prickle bare calves of the girl
who raced to perch between dad and grandma.

Her mother leans from an armchair to stroke
the boy’s head while he squirms on the rag rug,
whines to sit, instead, where his sister is.

Jane, says grandma – the girl stiffens
as everyone looks at her – please
fetch my crochet from the dining room.

Past the door, through the gap between hinges,
she sees brother, triumphant, beside dad; hears
grandma say, I thought that’d settle things.

The girl brings the crochet. She sits, quiet
on the rug. Rage rests in her diaphragm.
One day, she’ll breathe that out.

 

 

 

Lesley lives in Dorset. Her poetry has been published online, including Long Exposure and the Poetry Kit website, and in magazines and anthologies, including: Tears in the Fence, The Interpreter’s House, Sarasvati, Reach and The Butchers Dog.

The kindness of the eel – by Ben Ray

 

You opened your mouth
and an eel came out –
sliding from between your lips
gasping into the air.

Take this, you said
these are my best words
my midnight flights
my early morning distillations.

Eels, you said, do not stutter
look, they flow like liquid
they do not take more than they need
they are the best of us.

I watched it swim away
out of the bedroom window.
But often, when I least expect it
it returns, a slow swagger through the air:

brushing past the curtains when I sleep
curling into the nest of my inner ear.

 

 

 

Ben Ray is a young poet from the borders of Wales whose second collection, What I heard on the Last Cassette Player in the World, will be released with Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2019. Find out more about him at: www.benray.co.uk .

August 1947 – by Louise Taylor

 

You took only your doll, your sister
nothing at all.
Your mother pressed keys
into a neighbour’s hand, closing fingers tight around metal,
like a secret. ‘Keep it,’ she said. ‘The house. It’s yours.’
Did she weep, that Sikh lady,
this sudden owner of a second house,
or was acquisition sufficient to temper sorrow?
Perhaps she watched your father shoulder his gun,
count his bullets, pinch his children’s cheeks,
heard him say, ‘I’ll shoot you all before I let them have you.’
But perhaps she turned inside, to pray or pretend
no relative of hers was among the bawling mobs.
You might not know
or you might not want to say.
You spoke of the platform sweeper,
scratching with his broom at blackening, coagulating puddles
that had oozed off the last train in from Lahore.
Your mother didn’t say what he was doing
and, you, understanding, kept silent too,
your little sister making you brave.

I cannot ask – because there is no answer –
if I would have stood with those crowds
waiting for the next train west, making
desperate plans to conceal my children
in the luggage rack. I want to know
that, like your parents, I would have walked,
foodless and empty-armed,
onto the hot road the monsoon
had not seen fit to bless.

 

 

 

Louise Taylor’s poetry is often inspired by the natural world, history, mythology or some combination of the three. Recent publication credits include The Poetry Shed, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Bonnie’s Crew and the Loose Muse Winchester anthology. She is co-editor of Words for the Wild and tweets occasionally at @Sar1skaTiger.

Middle: An Assay – by Charlotte Ansell

 

Sometimes you’re the piggy,
the spare part, the third wheel,
your struggle is mostly oedipal.

You’re always in between,
feeling it’s you; grown up too fast,
the child listening from the stairs.

You’re the favoured possessions
of mummy bear; the porridge,
the chair, the bed. Goldilocks

didn’t want you, no one did.
You are forever overlooked
but always there- except

when you’re the empty in a polo,
the dropped stitch, the gap left
when the first baby tooth falls out.

You’re the stubborn of me do it!
Shoelaces, mouthfuls, tangled curls,
the tantrum in the Tesco’s aisle.

You’ll become a wish to be
unseen; gawky, gangly, acned,
the ugly before the swan

or the mousey huddle of girls
in school; picked before the fat girl
but no one ever remembers your name.

you’ve had your moments
but you’ve never won,
you cannot be alone.

You hold it all together;
won’t be undone. And damn,
weren’t you always the precious one.

 

 

Charlotte Ansell has two poetry collections published by Flipped Eye with a third forthcoming and has been published in Poetry Review, Mslexia, Now Then, Butcher’s Dog, Prole and various anthologies. She won the Red Shed Open Poetry Competition and was one of six finalists in the BBC Write Science competition in 2015. She was commended in the Yorkmix poetry competition and won the Watermarks poetry competition (in aid of flood victims in the Calder Valley) in 2016. She lives on a Sheffield keel on the tidal Medway with her family and a pirate cat.