Religion of the Species – by Giles Turnbull

 

Frog knows He’s green
and has a tongue sticky for lies,
enigmatically glamorous
with feet that all have kissed.

Squirrel looks up to the sky
from tree trunk home,
Yggdrasil etched into the inside wall;
listens to the gospels
from the birds.

Worm believes He can be halved beyond the atom
without fading away
reincarnation and regeneration
can explosively grow another tail.

Bee knows She is female
intensely sweet
with nectar
of death overcoming.

Spidergod knows there are many unbelievers
six quadrillion at last count,
pity every single soul
bless their cotton socks
their 48 kneecaps
and their hairy legs.

Baby hamster prays
to Mother Supreme
asking that She won’t eat her children
when they’ve had enough
of listening to her stories.

 

 

 

Giles L. Turnbull is a blind poet. Originally from Harrogate, he
studied chemistry at Swansea University and has lived in south Wales ever since, apart from two years in London and a 5-year sojourn
Stateside. His debut pamphlet Dressing Up is published by Cinnamon Press. More info here.

 

The Week You Were Gone – by Devon Balwit

 

Just me and the dog, you away, the long day
anticipating later when it might be this way longer.

The house quiet, your CDs tilt in stacks, awaiting
someone to play them. No spillway for griping,

grimness pools then trickles into forced lines.
This would have been me had we not met,

the children tucked back unseen. I enact
our routine, egging myself on, for if not,

how else to do this? I would like to boast
on your return of some brave deed,

but the only brave thing I will have done
is fill the big bed as much as one can.

 

 

 

Devon Balwit writes in Portland, OR. She is a poetry editor for Minute Magazine and has seven chapbooks and a full-length collection out or forthcoming. Her individual poems can be found in Cordite, The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, The Stillwater Review, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River, The Ekphrastic Review, The Free State Review, Posit, and more.

Castles – by Melanie Branton

 

I’m at a workshop at a poetry festival and we’re supposed to be
writing down our thoughts, but the only thoughts in my mind right now
are how the knob of butter in a baked potato looks a bit like a vagina
and how I spoke too quietly when the featured poet asked my name
and now he’s signed my book, “To Melamine”,

and there’s a little boy here with a dad with a hipster beard
and a mum carrying The Guardian and wearing lots of artisan-crafted jewellery.
He’s called Alfred or Arthur or Horatio, or one of those names,
he’s not been backwards about coming forwards all session
and when we’re asked who would like to share their work,
he strides towards the microphone like it is his birthright.

And I know it’s shameful that I’m angry at his “cockiness”, I know
that rosebuds should not be kept tightly shut,
they should be allowed to bloom,
but I’m broken that he assumes by six
what my father could not believe by eighty-six:
that his voice is entitled to be heard.

My father thought that poems had to rhyme. It was the rule.
He liked the kind of poems that get sneered at at your open mics
and he would have hated this one. He was very quiet.
So, sneer if you like, but know his life was measured out in rigid metre,
a regular pattern that he could not break, like a b a b,
like bricks cemented in English bond, a pattern of cheap jeans,
of chequered shirts from Millets, of sandwiches wrapped in greaseproof paper,
of wheelbarrows and hods, of scaffolding poles and cycle rides home and Swarfega,
of weekly manilla pay packets with not enough in them, then allotments and the dole.

His syntax was twisted to fit the scheme someone else had chosen,
he was stuck in a place that didn’t suit him, like a forced rhyme.
In shit jobs, initiative isn’t welcome – you do what you are told –
and you, with your book clubs and your networking events and your therapists
and your artistic free expression workshops for fucking toddlers,
will never understand how scared he was, every single second
of his eighty-six years, of saying the wrong thing.

We have no castles, we have no historic names,
we have no family crests, we have no ancestral lands.
We have no mangoes, no cardamom pods, no plantains, no patois.
We have no colourful backstories
that people with hipster beards and artisan-crafted jewellery will pay ten quid
to culturally appropriate. We have only scuffed melamine tabletops,
battered bus shelters, blank, unending, broken pavements.

And people with hipster beards and artisan-crafted jewellery
will only ever pay ten quid to see us battered and blank and broken
and being very quiet.

 

 

 

Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist and poet from North Somerset. In the summer of 2017, she performed at WOMAD, Bristol Harbour Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe. Her debut pamphlet, My Cloth-Eared Heart, is published by Oversteps Books.

Blawhard – by Beth McDonough

 

What if the next storm hates
his name, blows tired of the south, just
blusters up here?

What if he refills winter
into wee lace spaces, litters
brown paper from beeches?

What if he frisbees slates
slant at that earth, already knife
bright with bulbs?

What if he swings on my neighbour’s tall fir
so hard that it parts
from the roots?

What if he smashes their glass –yes
bams every pane in their precious
conservatory- sit-ootery?

What if he hangs
my line-drying knickers
pink on its thistle-fine finial?

What then? What then? What if
some big wind did all that
and then just
                                                          blew away?

 

 

 

 

Beth McDonough has a background in Silversmithing and teaching, completing her M.Litt at Dundee University. Recently Writer in Residence at Dundee Contemporary Arts, she reviews for DURA. Her work is strongly connected to place, particularly the Tay, where she swims. Handfast, (with Ruth Aylett, May 2016) explores autism and dementia.

Childhood Language – by Jack Little

 

I ask you for translations of “chrysalis”,
of “metamorphosis” – but forget these words
of other adults in an instant.

We carry language in the sea-smoothed rocks, elastic bands
and safety clips the pocket treasures in scruffy grey shorts
the adventure tools that bind us to the childhood awe
of the smell of holiday-wet grass, and the summer butterflies
and moths we caught and kept in jars.

How do you translate this feeling into action?
Add to my vocabulary, I’ll voice it out loud
I’ll write it all down,   remember.

 

 

 

 

Jack Little (b. 1987) is a British-Mexican poet, editor and translator based in Mexico City. He is the author of ‘Elsewhere’ (Eyewear, 2015) and is the founding editor of The Ofi Press. He was the poet in residence at The Heinrich Böll Cottage on Achill Island in the west of Ireland in July 2016. @JLittleMexico

The Telephone Box of Lost Words – by Gareth Culshaw

 

The box we used to go to
has been taken away by a van.
Those glass walls so the world
could see in but not the words

you spoke. We went when
you needed to talk to Joan
or Rob, Gran or someone I
couldn’t reach to hear.

Your words tumbled down
the line. In rain I stood with you,
breathing in the stale cigarette ash.
In sun I pondered outside.

Every Friday you carried yourself
there, it became more important
as you aged. I didn’t know the words
back then, but saw the syllables in your eyes.

 

 

 

Gareth lives in Wales. He has his first collection by futurecycle in 2018.