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

Sigil – by Dana Sonnenschein

Cigarette foil origami –
a thousand cranes fly
above fallen trunks, filters
that take twenty years
to disintegrate.

*

Paper whispers against paper
and shredded leaves
as you show me how
a homeless man
taught you to roll.

*

Lick the edge, strike a match,
breathe in four elements,
the cigarette a sign
bringing wish into being,
a flick of feathery ash.

*

You smoke, touch
tobacco on your lip,
broken Zippo in your pocket.
I lean toward oblivion
for a light.

 

 

Dana Sonnenschein is a professor at Southern Connecticut State University, where she teaches Shakespeare, folklore, and creative writing. Her publications include books of poetry (Bear Country and Natural Forms) as well as two chapbooks of prose poems (No Angels but These and Corvus). Individual pieces have appeared in numerous print and online journals, and are forthcoming in Measure, Feminist Studies and elsewhere.

Dancing Days – by Linda Menzies

 

Dad twirls the glass stem, swirling ruby Fitou
saved from his recent wine-run to France.
Reflective in middle age, tabled with adult children
and bib-encased grandchildren, death is a distant thought.
He views the plundered cake’s spent candles.

Clearing his throat, he pronounces:
‘I want to quit this life at 92,
Shot on the dance floor by a jealous husband.’
He twinkles at his new wife, who offers coffee,
hiding her smile from the laughing table.

Now 90, he remembers a cheerful drumbeat
at the Plaza and the Palais de Danse,
where stiff-haired girls with spun-sugar petticoats
were eyed up by boys. Flushed with the boldness
of condoms deep in their wallets, the lads smirked.

Pulled from memories, Dad observes the view:
the pearl grey sky of a douce winter afternoon
drapes his city’s beckoning sounds and light.
Thoughtfully, he revises his exit date,
Upwards, to ninety eight.

Afterwards – by Carole Bromley

 

Make a fist for me, she says.
Now, push your heel against my hand.
Now pull my fingers towards you

How is it I forgot this
when I remembered the words,
Do you know where you are?

She tells me it’s so she can compare.
Afterwards. I had not thought,
really thought of afterwards

only of an end to the pain,
the way the ward is blurred,
the endless, endless nausea.

So matter of fact. Afterwards.
It isn’t logical but I want to say
My brain is a long way from my feet.

 

 

 

Carole Bromley lives in York where she is the Poetry Society’s Stanza rep. She has three collections with Smith/Doorstop, A Guided Tour of the Ice House, The Stonegate Devil and Blast Off! (for children aged 7-10). Carole runs poetry surgeries and recently became an Arvon tutor. This poem is about her experience of brain surgery earlier this year.

Sleight of Hand – by Julia Webb

 

Blink, you said, and you will miss it,
it’s not like I hadn’t heard that cliché before.
I opened the doors to you and you galloped in,
trampling the soft furnishings,
biting chunks of plaster from the walls.
I mistook your enthusiastic stampede for love.
Now you see it, now you don’t.
was your other favourite saying,
though I didn’t take it personally at first,
I missed the signs: your sleights of hand,
your disappearing rabbits.
It was only when you disappeared yourself
that I noticed the wizard’s cloak
lining the inside of your hastily discarded coat.

 

 

Julia Webb is a poetry editor for ‘Lighthouse’ literary journal. She lives in Norwich. Her first collection Bird Sisters was published by Nine Arches Press in 2016.