The Lie – by Nairn Kennedy

 

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.

Together – by Stewart Carswell

 

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

Guest Editor Apr/May – Mike Farren

Delighted to announce that the April/May Editor’s Choice Poem will be selected by Mike Farren.

 

Phil Jackson-8091

 

Mike Farren is an academic publishing editor from Shipley. His poems have appeared in The Interpreter’s House, The High Window, Strix, Algebra of Owls and Valley Press’s Anthology of Yorkshire Poetry. His pamphlet, ‘Pierrot and his Mother’ was published by Templar in 2017. In 2018 he was a ‘canto’ winner for Poem of the North and in 2019 he was runner-up in The Blue Nib’s Chapbook Contest, judged by Helen Mort. He is a member of Beehive Poets and Wharfedale Poets, is part of the Yaffle Press publishing team and co-hosts the Rhubarb open mic in Shipley. A further pamphlet, ‘All of the Moons’ is to be published in May 2019 by Yaffle.

Unpeople Stay in a Travelodge – by Helen Kay

 

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 – by Helen Freeman

Those Pyjamas  –

I bought
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.

Saratoga Chips – by Rebeca Leal Singer

 

Saratoga
was the name
of two battles
that happened
in the fall
that is also
the season
when my dad
went for lunch
and ordered
a side dish
and the waiter
said that
all they had
were Saratoga Chips
a big name for a
potato, is what
my dad
said to me
who later
read online
that in fact
Saratoga Chips
were invented in
Saratoga Lakes in
Saratoga Springs
New York
when a picky
costumer
asked the chef
to cut the tuber
in the finest way
which is to say
that if there had not been
for the battles
of Saratoga
there would be no Lays,
no potato chip varieties,
just like if there was
no Auschwitz,
there would have been
no me.

 

 

 

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.

The Night He Cheats – by Jennifer Ruth Jackson

 

She walks trenches into the floor
Polished, three inches deep
A dry river flowing her between rooms
Vinyl rasps from the bedroom as the needle
Skips, skips, skips
The death rattle after a single melody
On an old 45 RPM record
His well-oiled .22 Luger balances out
A cigarette hemorrhaging ash
Filter pressed to a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red
Wearing mauve lipstick around the rim

 

 

 

Jennifer Ruth Jackson is an award-winning poet and fiction writer whose work has appeared in Red Earth Review, Banshee, and more. She runs a blog for disabled and/or neurodivergent writers called The Handy, Uncapped Pen from an apartment she shares with her husband. Follow her on Twitter @jenruthjackson

Most Determined Daughter – by Gareth Writer-Davies

after Vicki Feaver

 

we have been stirring the paint for some time
now we have the shade

Pink Moon
whitewash darkened with a little blood

my most determined daughter chastises
the thirsty new plaster

twisting the hard brush into corners like a finger into a wound
whilst I follow with the smoothing roller

edging her thick more definite coat
“more blood” she says

circling the pot
I nod and we stir the pigment until we reach a new colour

I name Flesh
& she names Pig Headed Jasmine On A Stick

 

 

 

Gareth Writer-Davies is from Brecon, Wales. Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2014 and 2017), the Erbacce Prize (2014) and Prole Laureate for 2017. Bodies published in 2015 by Indigo Dreams and Cry Baby in 2017. His collection The Lover’s Pinch (Arenig Press) was published June, 2018. He is a Hawthornden Fellow for 2019.

A Solarised Portrait of Lee Miller – by George Beddow

 

Cowed by a single hare… 
’tis pity she’s some common medlar!  

A mock sun yawns 
then sinks 
its yellowing teeth 
into my neck 
of the woods.  

‘So this is solarisation?’  

Bloodied (but unbowed) 
a violin plays ~
sans fiddler.

 

 

 

The Bitter Lemons Of Nerval was published by Original Plus Chapbooks in 2016