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.

Short Cut – by Lynda Turbet

 

Me. Ankle socks and clean red shorts
head full of Famous Five
new borrowings in hand,
take the short cut home.

Thistles, willow-herb and giant dock
edge the track, their coarse smell heavy in the air.
Rank elder bushes black with fruit,
bend to block the way; brambles
snag insistent at my sleeves.

Then they appear; grinning like weasels:
rough boys, I know I must avoid,
all grime and crooked teeth.
One bars the way, the other at my back
thrashes at nettles with a stick.

‘Do you fuck?’ he says. ‘Do you?’
Their sniggers hem me in.
I’ve never heard the word
yet sense it’s something bad.
I run, their jeering yelps and howls
chase me like dogs across the field.

I shouldn’t have been there,
am too afraid to tell. He didn’t touch me,
though in my mind a splinter lodged:
his twisted snake-belt, glinting in the sun.

 

 

 

After decades teaching in the north of England and Scotland, Lynda Turbet now observes the world from rural Norfolk, and tries to make sense of it all through writing.

Planet-Shine – by Ian Harker

 

Those of you on higher ground will have noticed
how low the sun is. This is flat battery.
But the light has already started getting longer.
Not the streetlights. Not the indicator lights
making tiger stripes across tarmac – I mean
the real stuff, the kind that never moves.
This is the time when we start to get starry,
when everything is frost or fire
and you feel it under your feet –
your ears go and you’re in one of those still points
of the turning world. Rest assured
that between today and the roots digging in
there will be intimations: darkness at midday,
sunrise in a mirror – all that heat and all that distance,
and the new moon in the old moon’s arms.

 

 

 

Ian Harker’s first collection Rules of Survival was published in 2017 after he won the Templar Poetry Book & Poetry competition. His work has appeared in a variety of magazines and been placed in major competitions. He’s co-founder of Strix, which was shortlisted for Best Magazine in the 2018 Saboteur Awards, and he’s just completed a residency at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds (without actually sleeping among the statues).

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.