Kwa-Zulu Natal, late August – by Fiona Cartwright

 

All afternoon we drive
past No Hawking signs beside
orange sellers in full sun, dust
coiling round their toes, unsheltered
by the bony branches of the trees.
There are only oranges to sell,
the fruits clinging to each other,
an outbreak of harvest moons,
the tiny navel hanging from each apex
an ungrown twin. No-one can buy

such an overflow of oranges,
although we try, squeezing
the last taste of a dry season
into our mouths. All afternoon,
I pass you segments, the juice gluing
your hands to the steering wheel.
I lick at the sap
dripping from my lip,
let you spit pips into my open hand.

 

 

 

Fiona Cartwright is a conservation biologist, poet and mother of two young daughters who lives near London, but wanders elsewhere as much as possible. Her poetry has previously appeared in various publications, including Mslexia, Butcher’s Dog, Envoi. Under the Radar and Ink, Sweat & Tears.

Lawrence – by Robert Ford

 

In Miss Owen’s English class we learned about The Writer,
a local hero, or at least he’d come from a town near ours
we’d heard of, and had written poems and books, and died

abroad. He wrote a novel famous for being about fucking,
she told us – or something – and for having the word cunt in it,
and getting banned. Her fish-batter hair bounced as much as

hair as short as hers could, and her cavegirl face with its dark,
moon-lidded eyes, ground pepper as she said the swear-words,
and feasted on the bony silence they’d milked. After the bell,

we mooched about in the schoolyard like sheep just shorn,
our tongues and lips clumsy with disbelief, the crown jewels of
our vocabulary now strangely blunted in our mucky little mouths.

 

 

 

Robert Ford lives on the east coast of Scotland. His poetry has appeared in both print and online publications in the UK and US, including Antiphon, Clear PoetryHomestead Review and Ink, Sweat and Tears. More of his work can be found here

falling to the floor, a flight of gloves – by Jane Burn

 

a sink, cobwebbed with bubbles     hands
coined with freckles     a dishcloth approaches
lockets of spilled milk     the door, booked open

like a half read thing     a draughty wing of calendar
lifts, slices the week with forgotten things
by the basket, the gathered throat of a wet sock

pungent oranges jewelled with smell
an umbrella hooked like a dead life     scribbled
words on an envelope scrap     a letterbox

tongued with junk     thumbed glasses make
a story of use     a judgement of wax reminds
the room of scuppered light

 

 

 

Jane Burn’s poems have featured in magazines such as The Rialto, Under The Radar, Butcher’s Dog, Iota Poetry and many more, as well as anthologies from Emma Press, Beautiful Dragons, Emergency Poet and Seren. Her pamphlets include Fat Around the Middle, published by Talking Pen and Tongues of Fire published by BLER Press. Her first collection, nothing more to it than bubbles is published by Indigo Dreams. 

 

The foal from the Batagai crater – by Devon Balwit

 

The foal from the Batagai crater

lived two months before succumbing
to cold or hunger. Tamped into tundra

for over thirty-thousand years, it emerged
statue-perfect from its earthen skin, a marvel

of muzzle against foreleg. I see this pose
in every pasture I pass. Like the corpses raised

from peatbogs, I await some sleight of hand
to restore motion. If it could clatter away

from the cold table of the lab men, I could run
my hands over warm flanks in greeting.

Leaning in, I would breathe an earlier air.
Save yourself, I might whisper. Save us.

Yet if it had, I might never have seen
the delicate quick of its hooves, its mud-

caked lashes, its matted tail-tuft. Every cult
calls for sacrifice. Every poet requires a body.

 

 

 

Devon Balwit lives scarily close to the Cascadia Subduction Zone. She has six chapbooks and three collections out in the world. Her individual poems can be found here as well as in print and on-line journals. For more, see her website at: here

My Mother Came Back as a Pigeon – by Michelle Diaz

 

She was happier than ever,
that look had gone from her eyes,
the spill-angst frenzy.

She was quiet, we could relate,
she didn’t peck or jar.
I could breathe.

I rolled her a grape, she was grateful,
watched her ease around the garden.
I was so pleased for her.

No more church or paranoia,
no incessant nervous talk or hypochondria.

That’s when I knew there was a God.

 

 

 

Michelle Diaz lives in the strange town of Glastonbury. She has been writing poetry for a few years and has been published by Prole, Amaryllis and Strix. She ran a poetry group in Glastonbury for two years. She is a member of Wells Fountain Poets. She has a son with Tourette Syndrome and had a peculiar childhood. Both these things inspired her to write. Without poetry her soul would be incredibly hungry.

mary magdalene – by Amy Kinsman

                                              at the burial, they discover
                                                        you sing ave verum
                                            just as sweet as joy division,
                 voice wishing for resurrection
                      like a sudden apparition of birds,
                      like forgiveness,
                      like baby’s breath grown among the gravestones
                                                        and digitalis.

andrew’s hand
        strokes over the swell of your belly.

who sired the bastard babe to be?
         they catcall in the streets,
      but before all else the child is yours.
even god’s son raised him higher
        better than he could have been before.

                                                                                whore.

                      when they speak of broken things, they speak of
                        japanese pottery, grounded doves, hearts –
                                      never the creak of a bedroom door,
                             bruises worn like pearls, everything you have
                                          shoved in an overnight bag.

                                          wicked woman, witch,
                                                  cursed, possessed, lain with the devil
                                            temptation in a too-short skirt –

                                            but what of wicked fathers? wicked husbands?

                                                         you were dark-eyed and drunken;
                                                   yelling your sins from the top of your lungs;
                                                                          divorced and dancing
                                                                under god’s gaze. he might have played guitar
                                                       but you, bravest among them, banged the drum.

and now alone again in the gardens, always,
               earthly delight, prayers for heaven,
                  paradise, first wild, now withered.
    falling’s such a heady scent.
you light another cigarette;
   shed eyeliner tears for happy endings,
           saviours
                  and the girl worth saving.

he promised these things weren’t your fault

                    but it doesn’t feel like it.
                    he promised. he promised.

                                                           woman, why are you weeping?
                                                   who do you seek?

                                  you kiss his cheeks, his temples,
                                   press your face into his neck, run your fingers
                                         through his hair, earth in every fold.

                    don’t be surprised,
                           it was you who taught me how to rise
                     from the pit they dug for me.

 

 

Amy Kinsman (they/them) is a genderfluid poet and playwright from Manchester. As well as being the founding editor of Riggwelter Press and associate editor of Three Drops From A Cauldron, they are also the host of the regular, Sheffield open mic Gorilla Poetry. Their debut pamphlet & was joint-winner of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2017.

Ivy – by Sarah Doyle

 

Your hands, those hands, like
five-point stars,
your clingy-scrambling-clambering
hands,
your sucker punch, your muddy
boots, your native tongue, your questing
never-resting roots, your itchy feet,
your snake-charm dance, your
fuck-you swagger, your
green-green eyes on
the main chance, your all-pervasive
persuasiveness, your hosting skills,
your outstaying-your-welcome-ness, your long
so-long,
your lust for the limelight, your shady
deals, your social climbing, your ear to
the ground, your dirty secrets, your
trip-hazard
trickiness, your hanging around, your
muck-raking, your wheedling
beauty, your take-take-taking,
your heard-it-through-the-grapevine, your loving
strangle, your hands, like five-point stars
in mine.

 

 

 

 

Sarah Doyle is the Pre-Raphaelite Society’s Poet-in-Residence, and (with Allen Ashley) is co-author of Dreaming Spheres: Poems of the Solar System (PS Publishing, 2014). She holds a Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway College, University of London. Sarah has performed at numerous poetry events; has been published widely in magazines, journals and anthologies; and placed in many competitions. She works as a freelance manuscript critique provider, and is currently co-editing a new anthology, Humanagerie, for Eibonvale Press. Website: www.sarahdoyle.co.uk