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.
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
Delighted to announce that the April/May Editor’s Choice Poem will be selected by Mike Farren.
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.
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 –
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.
As anyone who has submitted to us will know, we are quite big on objectivity and transparency here at AoO. To this end, I thought I’d share with our readers our full submission statistics going back to April 2017.
was the name
of two battles
in the fall
that is also
when my dad
went for lunch
a side dish
and the waiter
all they had
were Saratoga Chips
a big name for a
potato, is what
said to me
that in fact
were invented in
Saratoga Lakes in
when a picky
asked the chef
to cut the tuber
in the finest way
which is to say
that if there had not been
for the battles
there would be no Lays,
no potato chip varieties,
just like if there was
there would have been
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.
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
after Vicki Feaver
we have been stirring the paint for some time
now we have the shade
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.
Cowed by a single hare…
’tis pity she’s some common medlar!
A mock sun yawns
its yellowing teeth
into my neck
of the woods.
‘So this is solarisation?’
Bloodied (but unbowed)
a violin plays ~
The Bitter Lemons Of Nerval was published by Original Plus Chapbooks in 2016