In The Heart Of The Electric Chair

 
Spirited off the characters of ledgers,
Your fable might be a rough-and-tumble clangour
In steam-lapse teeters.
 
This power-swell stun seat
Won’t let you scarper; as you plunge,
Unflinching journey’s end.
 
A blood-curdling scream
Flips round the corner.
 


 
Multiple Shocks
 
The brain as burger becomes tender
Through the swelling grip of The State.
Moods coil the heart.
One switch shocked you blank.
Hangmen as forewarned
Are jettisoned –
Release catches its illuminating pathway.
 
Photos have actions.  Who’d strain for this
Hard-line resolution?  Push button close-up?
 


 
A Good Execution?
 
The turnkey hoists the humdrum
To excessive points of vigilance.  Pure white socks
Tremble with milliampers –
He quits dilemma’s horns
For almost fathomless dilly-dallying.
 
You’re not unique, a somebody
Blindfolded in dark.
At the extreme’s terminal fix,
Perched, tightened in this guilt-cell shaker –
Hang on for stone-dead volts to flash.
 
                                              Christopher Barnes


                                       (from the Electric Chair poems)
  




In 1998 Christopher won a Northern Arts writers award.  In July 200 he read at Waterstones bookshop to promote the anthology 'Titles Are Bitches'.  Christmas 2001 Christopher debuted at Newcastle 's famous Morden Tower doing a reading of his  poems.  Each year he reads for Proudwords lesbian and gay writing festival and  partakes in workshops.  2005 saw the publication of his collection LOVEBITES published by Chanticleer Press, 6/1 Jamaica Mews, Edinburgh.

THE DIVA AND THE BOILERMAKER
A speculative episode from the life of my sea-faring Irish grandfather


I - On board RMS “Mongolia”, 1911
She might have liked the Leitrim slant
across his words; and he was handsome
for his age.  She showed herself
approachably colonial 
and readily disposed to share
her music with a working man
in a concert-party context.

Ad lib, impromptu, out at sea,    
entrancingly she granted him
inclusion in her entourage
of managers and hangers-on.
He slipped in like a late-arriving
shadow briefly cast on screen
by stepping near the magic lantern.

On waves of camaraderie
was there a crossing of the line
supposed by P&O to run
between its passengers and crew?
Was a shadow asked ashore        
to ring a front-door bell instead
of coming to the tradesman’s entrance?


 
II - In Melbourne, 1911
He whistled, sotto voce, as he walked
not because he liked the tunes she sang
but as a way to vent his tensions:
a safety-valve was still a safety-valve
in this sun- and shadow-speckled suburb
as much as in his engine-room.

A certain kind of Englishman he knew
would see these dainty picket fences 
and be reminded of verandahs
round cricket-ground pavilions.

Not his cup of tea, that: he’d no time 
for blazer-capped adventurers,
Gentlemen and players,
who shipped with him at intervals 
to battle over reputation’s ashes. 

Reputation set a ripple running
through the reasons he had chosen
to accept her invitation.
Going up the garden path, he thought 
of what he’d say when he went home. 

Was just a cup of tea,
as he’d take care to put it, simply
insufficiently important
to be mentioned?  Or too-much-so?
Or no worse than crossing oceans for a game?


                                             Michael Bartholomew-Biggs


Michael Bartholomew-Biggs lives in London and is a retired mathematician.  He co-organises Poetry in the Crypt readings in Islington and is poetry editor of the on-line magazine London Grip http://londongrip.co.uk/category/poetry/.  His most recent collection is Tradesman's Exit from Shoestring Press.
 

THE DIVA AND THE BOILERMAKER
A speculative episode from the life of my sea-faring Irish grandfather


I - On board RMS “Mongolia”, 1911
She might have liked the Leitrim slant
across his words; and he was handsome
for his age.  She showed herself
approachably colonial 
and readily disposed to share
her music with a working man
in a concert-party context.

Ad lib, impromptu, out at sea,    
entrancingly she granted him
inclusion in her entourage
of managers and hangers-on.
He slipped in like a late-arriving
shadow briefly cast on screen
by stepping near the magic lantern.

On waves of camaraderie
was there a crossing of the line
supposed by P&O to run
between its passengers and crew?
Was a shadow asked ashore        
to ring a front-door bell instead
of coming to the tradesman’s entrance?


 
II - In Melbourne, 1911
He whistled, sotto voce, as he walked
not because he liked the tunes she sang
but as a way to vent his tensions:
a safety-valve was still a safety-valve
in this sun- and shadow-speckled suburb
as much as in his engine-room.

A certain kind of Englishman he knew
would see these dainty picket fences 
and be reminded of verandahs
round cricket-ground pavilions.

Not his cup of tea, that: he’d no time 
for blazer-capped adventurers,
Gentlemen and players,
who shipped with him at intervals 
to battle over reputation’s ashes. 

Reputation set a ripple running
through the reasons he had chosen
to accept her invitation.
Going up the garden path, he thought 
of what he’d say when he went home. 

Was just a cup of tea,
as he’d take care to put it, simply
insufficiently important
to be mentioned?  Or too-much-so?
Or no worse than crossing oceans for a game?


                                             Michael Bartholomew-Biggs


Michael Bartholomew-Biggs lives in London and is a retired mathematician.  He co-organises Poetry in the Crypt readings in Islington and is poetry editor of the on-line magazine London Grip http://londongrip.co.uk/category/poetry/.  His most recent collection is Tradesman's Exit from Shoestring Press.
 

The Bee Hummingbird


 
The Bee Hummingbird. It zips, it nips.                        
In just a wink
it’s already done the shops
and read the papers.
What else to do?
In twenty seconds
it does your day,
far more than you can do.
It hovers by your ear
and hums,
“I’m not impressed”.
But all so quick
you dinnae hear.
Up, down, around,
dug all the ground and it’s barely 8.22.
You’re slow, so lumbering.
Sometimes it
thinks you’re
a thinking rock,
taking slow baby steps,
discovering self-motion.
“Yet will it ever come
to anything?” it wonders,
doubting,
but not for long,
reading the entire
Works of Man
before you’ve tied your shoe.




How Hebridean sheep walk in rain
 
Warmed only by red dye on backs,
they walk as fishermen
who’ve lost their creels; and so -
 
must waddle for a trade
and, wordless, in unsuited toes,
mourn in silences beyond all reels.

 

Water Hippies
 
Riverboats float round the
Mississippi
like aged hippies, who’ve
smoked too many. Their
pace so similar
to end of party, walking home.
Everything will arrive, but
nothing is urgent.
Nothing really due but sips of sun.
 
 



Seth Crook taught philosophy for a number of years at American Universities before returning to his home in the Hebrides. He does not like cod philosophy in poetry, but he does like poetry, cod and philosophy.



Down to earth

 

After a tall tree has fallen,
what then?
Its jarring legacy, a gap in the crowd,
leaves a puzzle-piece of clouded firmament,
breaks in the boughs of the neighbours to whom it reached.
The dappled balance of light and shade shifts,
this imprint fades,
birds return to nest in the bowers,
timelines succumb to damp rot
until saturation yields, debarking
underfoot, to the scattering of adventitious saprophytes.
As dust settles, compacts,
their earthenware bowl,
exposed by careening roots,
is smoothed to a shallow depression,
hereby none but the most perspicacious passerby,
on pausing awhile amongst the merry stems of thriving saplings,
jostling for position in the breeze,
would muse upon that faint pock mark underfoot;
tracing the soil's limned map,
to find the earth still tightly bound
by all that severed subterranean network that persists,
just below the surface.

                                                      Jim Stewart-Evans

 
Jim Stewart-Evans started writing in 2010 as an occasional escape from a scientific career. His poetry has since been published in LeftLion magazine and in poetry anthologies, whilst his poem on health service reforms came runner-up in a columnist competition in Pulse, a GPs' journal. He lives in Nottingham and recently featured as one of the headline poets at Nottingham’s monthly ‘Speech Therapy’ spoken word night.
His website can be found at: http://poetrysideline.blogspot.com/ 

No-One’s Noticed
 
 
There’s a bird trapped on the balcony
and no-one’s noticed but me. They uncover
plastic-wrapped sandwiches, moan
about rain. From inside they can only observe
bent trees, the scurry of leaves. Some tweet
about a left-over hurricane.
 
But there’s a bird trapped on the balcony
and no-one’s noticed but me.
A man wearing patent shoes comments
about stains on coffee tables, but fails to see
the mark on the window where feathers met glass.
 
So there’s a bird trapped on the balcony
and no-one’s noticed how they file away
to their offices, leave scatters of wrappers.
I open the door, touch the bird’s wings,
offer it their crumbs.
 

 
Eye
 
I couldn’t explain the smell of earth,
and, although it hadn’t rained for days,
the river’s surge was strangely audible.
Pink campions glowed without exuberance
as dusk settled early across the fields.
 
The dogs wouldn’t leave the house,
so I listened for clues, called out
to reassure the horses, their backs turned,
ears pinned to manes. I crossed the bridge,
stumbled along the track. The owl didn’t hoot.
 
No rats scurried in the hedgerows.
I longed for a breeze to disturb something,
for a sadness had set among the trees,
their very spines dipped in mourning.
I found tyre tracks, a spade and pick,
 
grass trampled by the weight of strangers.
The dinner got burned that night.
I still placed it on the table,
left you all to eat, never to tell
what I saw and found.
 
 

 
Roland’s Boat
 
He wears the uniform of an old peasant,
a reclaimed waistcoat thrown over a checked shirt,
and knotted kerchief tight about his throat.
 
I often pause on the quayside and watch
the shape of his bones beneath jaundiced skin,
the determination of nailless fingers to untangle ropes.
 
On the morning he painted the prow cobalt,
as if to mirror summer, he murmured
he’d discovered islets people rarely visit
 
and, although there was barely room for two,
Roland let me sail. His sinew arms defied eddies
as breezes scavenged breath from both our mouths.
 
We found a mob of seagulls. Roland abandoned
 his boat, rushed ashore to rescue a bundle
of feathers, bloodstained and tarred.
 
He whispered to the bird. Rolled up
his sleeves, removed his cotton scarf
so he could wrap its damaged body
 
and I saw the numbers branded in his flesh.
He still nurses the injured bird;
feeds it white bait and shelled molluscs.
 
 
Roland never mentions how every dawn
he leaves the catchment open, so one evening
on his return, the kittiwake will be gone.
 
 
 
 
                                         Sally Flint



 

Sally Flint is an award-winning poet and has a PhD in English. Her poems have been anthologised and published in a variety of publications most recently The Morning StarMagma and The Robin Hood Anthology. She teaches creative writing and is co-editor of Riptide Journal based at the University of Exeter. She is also a facilitator and advisor for ‘Stories Connect’ – a community project which works with vulnerable people to ‘change their lives through literature’.



No-One’s Noticed
 
 
There’s a bird trapped on the balcony
and no-one’s noticed but me. They uncover
plastic-wrapped sandwiches, moan
about rain. From inside they can only observe
bent trees, the scurry of leaves. Some tweet
about a left-over hurricane.
 
But there’s a bird trapped on the balcony
and no-one’s noticed but me.
A man wearing patent shoes comments
about stains on coffee tables, but fails to see
the mark on the window where feathers met glass.
 
So there’s a bird trapped on the balcony
and no-one’s noticed how they file away
to their offices, leave scatters of wrappers.
I open the door, touch the bird’s wings,
offer it their crumbs.
 

 
Eye
 
I couldn’t explain the smell of earth,
and, although it hadn’t rained for days,
the river’s surge was strangely audible.
Pink campions glowed without exuberance
as dusk settled early across the fields.
 
The dogs wouldn’t leave the house,
so I listened for clues, called out
to reassure the horses, their backs turned,
ears pinned to manes. I crossed the bridge,
stumbled along the track. The owl didn’t hoot.
 
No rats scurried in the hedgerows.
I longed for a breeze to disturb something,
for a sadness had set among the trees,
their very spines dipped in mourning.
I found tyre tracks, a spade and pick,
 
grass trampled by the weight of strangers.
The dinner got burned that night.
I still placed it on the table,
left you all to eat, never to tell
what I saw and found.
 
 

 
Roland’s Boat
 
He wears the uniform of an old peasant,
a reclaimed waistcoat thrown over a checked shirt,
and knotted kerchief tight about his throat.
 
I often pause on the quayside and watch
the shape of his bones beneath jaundiced skin,
the determination of nailless fingers to untangle ropes.
 
On the morning he painted the prow cobalt,
as if to mirror summer, he murmured
he’d discovered islets people rarely visit
 
and, although there was barely room for two,
Roland let me sail. His sinew arms defied eddies
as breezes scavenged breath from both our mouths.
 
We found a mob of seagulls. Roland abandoned
 his boat, rushed ashore to rescue a bundle
of feathers, bloodstained and tarred.
 
He whispered to the bird. Rolled up
his sleeves, removed his cotton scarf
so he could wrap its damaged body
 
and I saw the numbers branded in his flesh.
He still nurses the injured bird;
feeds it white bait and shelled molluscs.
 
 
Roland never mentions how every dawn
he leaves the catchment open, so one evening
on his return, the kittiwake will be gone.
 
 
 
 
                                         Sally Flint



 

Sally Flint is an award-winning poet and has a PhD in English. Her poems have been anthologised and published in a variety of publications most recently The Morning StarMagma and The Robin Hood Anthology. She teaches creative writing and is co-editor of Riptide Journal based at the University of Exeter. She is also a facilitator and advisor for ‘Stories Connect’ – a community project which works with vulnerable people to ‘change their lives through literature’.

Adler Planetarium



The fog’s been down all week, blanketing
promontory and dome. Now in cold sun
a tidal wave of Chicago is breaking
on Lake Michigan’s shore. I feel stories,
as I fly through these streets,
and I want them spoken.

Here, surrounded by circuiting birds, touts,
schoolkids and tourists above blue water,
I tell the sights I missed and postcard them
overlooking a broken gull below.

A bird resigned to nature, and my eyes
are closed to old catastrophe.
A light aircraft cuts a revolution
out over Adler’s centrifugal stars.




Hemingway’s birthplace museum

Women in plaid jumpers eye me
but I refuse a prayer book.
It’s Sunday. The museum’s closed.
So they let me look with the lights off.

There’s your father’s dead mouse,
and some equipment and photos.
Behind, chairs click into rows.
I have ten minutes.
Feeding a squirrel, high school, football,
then the last, as familiar as Fidel,
long gone with a marlin.
Comfortable faces rise to interrupt
my visit again, “Are you alright there?
This place don’t open until one.”
The end wall is a frieze of novel covers.

It’s time for church
so I head for Des Plaines river.
Swollen with flood,
no fish show beneath the bridge
or by the path out of the suburb.
Rain punctuates the dead leaves.
I turn back. You kept walking.
Somewhere a dull bonfire smokes.



Souvenir of my mother


that tree is like a card my mother sent me
its bare branches framed by torn paper

it had been ripped from somewhere
like my rectangle of window

it reminds me that the putty I scraped
still lies on its sill outside

while I watch chaffinches hologram
into a single chaffinch

their pinking movements more bird
and the tree bare is so much tree

and the window       and my mother is



                                          

                                      Bridget Khursheed


Bridget Khursheed is a British Australian poet based in the Scottish Borders. She haspublished most recently in The Shop, Gutter, The Eildon Tree, Southlight and The Rialto.


1. She is the perpetrator,
the yellow steam,
the crunch of clams shells on the shore.
She slams fisted palms above the waters
the ruddish boats blow,
steam from their tops,
mildew from their bows.
The drolling troll hides beneath you,
you navigate through dreams
with the insistence that trolls
are modern day toll roads.
Bridges now ebb to you
and fall apart beneath my webbing feet.
I clutch onto you as a snails slug glue,
beheading the beauty in you
I fall deeper still into idle water
the smell
of the fireflies we used to catch
let out their neon flames onto the tongues we used
once
a long time ago,
to weave past your blue.

 

 

2. Round weeps around the corners of my eyes
doze,
in a slight constraint of florescent light
or in a bar I'd rather not be in at night
It's like I'm sleeping,
participating in not speaking
while ravened men stick my hands in glasses
of beer
I was too tired to drink for them.
And now they're laughing,
the same way hippies do when they're ecstatically pleasing themselves
giving hand jobs out to the world just so they can feel joy
from cumming on someone else’s skin.

 

3. She’s right

The sneaky calls of heeded

Advisings made to say

Keep going, keep going

Round the bends of that

House

We make it home

She misses me when I’m gone

When we can’t hang around

Or buy things

The leaves paint the grass

Gold,

We scurry through the

Pavement

Through the battery

Our hearts keep us living

She says my mind

Is my death

Is my inaction.

Thought is the reaction

In those shaded parts

Of home we will not go.



                           Jillian Krupp


Jillian Krupp lives in Baltimore, MD.  This city is a contradiction of beauty and grime and it’s always been her main muse.



For all the Jerks at the Davos Conference

Time up.
Put your pens down.

Who was Smith?
All three hands of the official white-faced clock said five to three.

The long lines of youth rustled and rushed, breathed out in sighs.
They broke the white silence of the great hall.
Window-cords dangled against the high cream gables,
Waiting for a cleric to rein in the sky;
A fire burning in the small brass wheels looking down on them all -
Like nooses tied to the stars.  

Out-of-town teachers made their way along the lines collecting the foolscap.
Sons and daughters stretched and yawned after ten days restricted in their wooden cockpits.
A few determined stragglers still ironing their yellow answer booklets,
Pressing them fiercely along the staple-fold with the butt of their clenched fists. 
Thank you.

Out into the sunlit shade of the familiar space where they had grown together.
Tin boxes were opened and snapped closed for the last time, pencils put away.
Nothing marked this end of innocence.
No trumpets sounded, no angel cried.

 

 

 

                                    Hay Machine (e)

 

 

Tiger Gathering at the G.U.U
 
For a laugh they don make up
and fake fur for a knees up
at the G.U.U.
BBMed in the morning:
mbrace yr
inr feline n prwl
fr prey @ the union,
lol.
 
Craftily each costume chosen,
each girl’s hidden tiger emerges
into the dim otherworld, neon
orange lighting the way;
whiskers artfully placed
so as not to hide
painted inflated lips
or the black scored eyes,
coquette ears
amid bedroom hair –
more kitten than beast,
more sex than threat.
 
All but one
who didn’t get the text,
who heard laugh and picked
the biggest, baggiest tiger
suit in the joke shop – complete with saggy arse
and womble sized head.
 
While the other tigers
tiptoe trip their way, she brings
up the rear, thumping her stupidity
into the pavement, hoping
the night ends early
and it all becomes a weak story
told on graduation –
remember when you
dressed like Tony the tiger
at the G.U.U?
 
  


The Space Between(a poem for Pat)
 
My younger self,
(thinner with bigger hair),
couldn’t grasp how
vital are the gaps between;
couldn’t understand
the difference between
I               love       you
and Iloveyou.
 
Iloveyouloveyouloveyou
spoken in gasps;
holding on for life to start,
teenage bedrooms –
indefinite odours; stranger dreams
and lots of hair.
 
I               love       you
whispered into the hollow
of a throat, wrapped
in life; house of memories;
familiar noise
and a bit less hair.
 
I               live;       breathe,        in        the         space               between          the         words.
 





Rococo Voodoo


This is what is left
after children, husband and pet have their say,
this acre of flesh that huddles beneath blankets
counting stars, accepting each breath knife
of a dream stuck on playback.
 
That devil in the rococo mirror
is my secret self,
steals into my bones when the house is quiet;
tears my clothes off;
dances like a voodoo priestess on e,
shaking her vicious little
fists in my vacant face, screaming
 – wake up and hear the Jazz, feel
the Jazz, stop listening to yourself,
you are the opiate
that keeps me down.
 
  
                                                              

                                           Lorraine McGuire





As a writer of short stories, poetry and a novel that refuses to let itself be finished, Lorraine McGuire is a wee bit busy. She hails from Glasgow; is the proud mother of two (sometimes) darling children and the wife to an understanding husband. She has been published in online magazines and a few poetry and short story anthologies. 


The  Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp

In The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp by the painter
Rembrandt we see the body laid out by the examiner.
The trade-mark light illuminates the chamber
And the very candle seems to flicker
As the students make their observations and gather
In a group around the cadaver.
Now here, observe The Dead Christ, by Holbein the Younger,

Or again, this time by Mantegna.
The similarities are striking, no? The dead guerrilla
And the body as examination site, simulacra
Of Christ, the body as propaganda…
All courtesy of the Leica
Lens. Look where the bullets went in, see the stigmata?

Even here the likeness continues to blend
Fact and iconography, it merely moves from the visual end
Of the spectrum to judicial execution. When condemned
To death by official sanction the modern trend
To martyrdom requires the executioner to send                   

Proof.   After the photographs they cut his hands
Off and flew him out on a chopper to Vallegrande
Where they put his body in a shallow grave. As it lands
Officers from the CIA  confirm the kill. Nobody really understands

Revolutions anymore, except maybe in the tourist shops
Where the slogan and  the picture appear on cigars,  bikini tops…..
Korda didn’t copyright the image so it never stops.

You say you want a revolution well, now you know it’s fine
To transpose the fight to soft furnishings and poster design.

Hasta La Revolucion Siempre!




The German Ideology



All she got for her trouble was a slap, a mouthful of spunk
And a tightly rolled twenty that still had enough cocaine
Folded into Adam Smith’s portrait for a half-decent hit.

He was a hedge fund analyst and was going off to get drunk
With clients at the Cafe Royal where oysters and champagne
Were to be had. She made it to Trafalgar Square but was by then a bit

Too stoned so couldn’t remember smoking home-grown skunk
With that dealer from Hackney. When she got off the tube train
Eventually at Tottenham Hale she walked into a full-on riot.

Two paddy wagons were on fire. There was debris and junk
All along the Seven Sisters Rd. She looked again an again
But there were no cops . Some kid in a freshly stolen Spurs kit

Ran by with a Sony Brava plasma screen. She’d have slunk
Away normally but then a woman with a spreading bloodstain
On her hoodie collapsed at her feet. She didn’t want to admit

To being scared but she legged it. Shops were burning. A chunk
Of falling masonry crashed into the street.She felt a stabbing pain
In her side from running and bent over and started to vomit.

She could taste dope and booze and spat threads of yellow gunk
Into the gutter. She helped herself to bottled water from a chain
Of looted corner shops. When arrested she was told to admit

The theft. The magistrate refused bail. Her brief said it stunk.
In court she got two months and the clerk had to physically restrain
Her mother. She did ten days in Holloway and was about to quit

Hoping when the appeal came good. On Newsnight she was the punk
Sensation. She told Ken Clarke that if he had another brain
It would be lonely. She told Paxman not to talk such righteous shit.

She was a tabloid star, even got her phone hacked. She tried to debunk
The lazy analysis of poverty and violence. She read The German
Ideology and began to think of capitalism as the real culprit.

The she tried the Theses on Feurerbach. She knew she’d flunk
A philosophy exam for sure but she understood the main
Points well enough to appreciate the world was out of credit.

She remembered the banker, wondered if his fund had shrunk
Any. She got a tattoo. It read: The philosophers have in certain
Ways only interpreted the world so far, the point is to change it.




Kingfisher Blues



Someone or something threw a dart across the river
And in mid-flight it turned into a kingfisher
As if a magician had conjured a glowing feather

From the air. The blue glittered, the orange shone
And the brief bird vanished by the stepping- stone
In the far bank and was instantly gone

From view. The dark water slid along its course
By the bridge and where the weir took force
The water bubbled and frothed between its source

And the sea. I searched for the kingfisher in vain.
And although I returned to the scene over and again
The poacher’s absence was the fishes’ gain.

And now I can only try to remember
That sharp injection of light and the flash of colour
As the image and its recollection blur.  


                                       Al Mcclimens



Al McClimens lives and works in Sheffield where he occupies a luxury penthouse apartment, drives a Japanese supercar and is undergoing treatment for an overactive imagination. Unfortunately one of the side effects of the curative drug regime manifests itself in random acts of 'poetry writing'. There is no cure but the condition is ameliorated by publication and adoring emails.

He shares his home environment with a pet crow who, neighbours will tell you, is the more talented of the pair. Heaven help us when the crow learns to type.




    Nobody Speaks

 
Not as loved as some,
not as loud as others,
but still a voice, a cold tap voice,
a car-stalled-in-winter voice,
coughing from the back of the throat
all that remains
when the blood-diamond has been cut,
the pearl ballooned into shape.

Spit it out in your hand
like a wasp that’s buzzed in your mouth;
even a voice such as this
need not be truly ashamed.


 

                                                               Spark

 
Today a whisper, no more,
the slow peal of an iron bell
clanged cross the river, the wild wet river,
the phantom blue a whisper,
no more; telling those tales
un-laboured of ink

there is time, but little time,
to sketch black shapes to the wings
of dark birds
and let the water here
be paper and the words themselves
be pen; there is time, but little time
to tell the cold tale,

cut the spark to its ashes
and rake the remains again.


 

                                             Turn Off The Central Heating

 
Back then they had to huddle
by the fire till their fingertips
began to burn, gulp down brandy
like cough syrup. But for every
warmed front there was toast
only toasted on one side.

Frost crouched like a hungry wolf
in the doorway, devouring heat from your
slaughtered wood, trees laced in snow
like parchment soaked in arsenic;
snaring the little warmth
you stole from the green logs
home to a black-as-boot-polish sky,
where the hungry mouths of stars
waited for heat to polish into shine,

so we can look up and warmed
by their cold: a wild bone-heat
no furnace can excite into ash,
no spark can ever extinguish.
Here is Winter 1845, crackling
like solstice logs in our bones.


                                             Ian Mullins



 
Ian Mullins was born in Liverpool, England. Over the last decade he has been published in Purple Patch, The Journal, and many other magazines. and web-sites. His chapbook The Dog Outside The Palace Gates was published on-line by The Camel Saloon, and can be read free of charge.


The Child Bride

The vermilion on her forehead
is the colour of
crayon that coloured rising ridges
of the canvas in the art class,
her puny fingers are
blotted blood red
in alta, soiled in the dirt of
henna, both inane in ignorance.


The fire isn't holy
shapeless and scary
something that her mother uses
to bake rotis, a ghost that
burns in blisters,
why did she circumvent around it?
perhaps a dress rehearsal
of how she will burn her body
to dilapidate darkness.

Having tied her to a stranger
with a bridle made of black beads
they are sewing her cerements
to curtain her call on life
and in a year or two
her womb will melt
and so will her sighs
in an autumn's angst.


Grandma

She skewed seven stretch marks
bearing eight oysters
who dole out her dowry
in the white of her milk.

Prayers, her morning manners
the book her gift
for gall and worms,
red seas never fretted
on her form
where not even a crease
could be carved by
the crown of thorns.

She wore her veil
to teach hymns
to clouds and children
writing on seedy sand
of the raving rivers
as a ritual.

She never let her mouth
bisect the body and blood
of Christ, those were alms for her belly
and tooth of her tongue.

She removed the relics
of the rice she shared
with the starving supplicants
on the stranded streets
each grain fed
without fingers of fossils.

She is the testimony
to a generation of stars
and stripes
her milky way
saluted with a smile with
her name and
sound of her song,
the day she gifted us
her birth.
 


                                       Rinzu Rajan




Rinzu Rajan writes in an attempt to sear away from the boundaries of cliche. Research in the field of biology and blogging occupy the rest of her time and devotion. Her work has featured in Poetry Quarterly, Houston Literary Review, Barnwood review,Copper field review, Muse India, Mused, Corvus amongst others. She is experimenting with fiction nowadays.


Shedding Skin
(is the ‘in’ thing)


                       

                        But how shall I describe her Arts
                        To recollect the scatter’d Parts?
                        Or shew the Anguish, Toil and Pain,
                        Of gath’ring up herself again?
                        The bashful Muse will never bear
                        In such a Scene to interfere,
                        Corinna in the Morning dizen’d,
                        Who sees, will spew; who smells, be poison’d. 


 

The trouble with us
Is that we
Shed
Too much
Skin then try
Too hard to
Fit into the
Likes of Another.

The wolf in sheep’s clothing
The lamb in Snakeskin.

A rite most sacred.
Shantih shantih shantih
A ritual most revered.
Co co rico co co rico

The carnival of
Costumes – what clowns!
(the dawning of
a new age,
an epoch!)
A cultural REVOLUTION
– what farce!
An insipid dissolution.
El-el-evation
A masquerade party
Of drunks and
Whores – pretentious bores!
(fie on thee, thou Sore
that pricketh mine eyes so!)

The shed/shed/shedding
Of just a
Tad
Too much
Skin,
Then squeezing with
grâce, finesse, élégance!
(so the French say)
Into the
Shackles of Another.

                                                Esther Vincent



Esther Vincent is a literary enthusiast of Sinhalese-Chinese descent, who is currently reading Literature in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Recently taken to writing poetry inspired by intensely personal encounters and revelations, she enjoys spending her free time devouring good books ranging from the Classics to contemporaries like Ian McEwan, listening to music, browsing interior design magazines, and above all, spending quality time with the people she loves. Her poem,"Excuse me, what is your race?" (2011), was published in Ceriph #4: the white issue, launched as part of the Singapore Writers Festival 2011. 


Abbad II al-Mu'tadid (1042–1069 CE)



Abbad II al-Mu’tadid, King of the Moors in Spain,
commanded his generals from his fortified place,
the Alcazar in Seville. He had a strange habit
of preserving all the skulls of his enemies:
the princes his army slaughtered he preserved
in specially constructed walnut boxes lined with velvet.
But those skulls that were not of royal blood he used
as ordinary flowerpots throughout his extensive gardens.






At the Feast of Lupercalia


At the feast of Lupercalia
Venus offered a young maiden in a lottery
for a very substantial sum of money.
Bachelors who were willing to pay
were eligible to draw
for the name of the girl.
The winner was free to do
whatever he wished with her
for the next entire year.






A Wedding Ring Made of Human Hair



One night Father Alano de Rupe,
a monk in the Dominican order,
recognized the Virgin Mary miraculously
entering his locked monastic cell.
At once she cut off a curl of his hair,
wove it and twisted it into a rustic wedding ring,
and slipped it onto her ring finger.
Then entering his bed she enticed him with kisses,
guided his hands to fondle her breasts,
and embraced his body tightly
urging him to make love to her
as a bridegroom would enjoy his bride.


Bill Wolak is a poet who has just published his third book of poetry entitled Archeology of Light.  Recently he has been selected to be a featured reader at the 2011 Kritya International Poetry Festival in Nagpur, India.