Picaroon - Issue #7 - March 2017

picaroonpoetry

Happy first birthday, Picaroon Poetry! We published Issue #1 last March, and I'm so pleased to see how far our little home for rogue poems has come. Thank you to writers, readers, submitters, supporters, and everyone who fights the good Picaroon fight (poetry-related or otherwise) for you are all the reason we do what we do. This issue feels like spring: parents and children, the glory and disappointment of youth, nature, and sex all make appearances, as do religion, mental health issues, dwellings, and learning from mistakes. Featuring work by David Seddon, Steven Bruce, Sue Kindon, Yoni Hammer-Kossoy, Marc Woodward, Jamie Houghton, Rachel Burns, Nikki Robson, R.K. Wallace, Jennifer Lothrigel, Rosie Garland, Sophie McKeand, Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt, Leslie Thomas, Courtney LeBlanc, Scott Edward Anderson, John C. Fitzsimmons, raphael d'abdon, Bobby Steve Baker, Oz Hardwick, Louisa Campbell, Brett Evans, John Grey, Robert Ford, Kate Noakes, Cheryl Pearson, Simon Cockle, Ben Banyard, and Howie Good.

Issue #7

March 2017

Edited by Kate Garrett

All poems copyright © 2017 individual authors

Selection/issue copyright © 2017 Kate Garrett / Picaroon Poetry


This Month’s Rogue Poems ● March 2017

Therapy

David Seddon

Waiting for the Number 52

Steven Bruce

Maternité

Sue Kindon

ambition

Yoni Hammer-Kossoy

‘One Under’

Marc Woodward

How to Be Lonely

Jamie Houghton

Rachel and the Seven Wonders of the World

Rachel Burns

The house near Cornacrieve

Nikki Robson

Landlords (Part 1)

R.K. Wallace

Uninvited Guests

Jennifer Lothrigel

The topiary garden

Rosie Garland

My mother speaks thorns

Sophie McKeand

the gift

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt

At twelve

Leslie Thomas

If There Was No Sixteen

Courtney LeBlanc


Ant Logic

Scott Edward Anderson

Imaginary Mixtape #33

John C. Fitzsimmons

a munchies story

raphael d’abdon

What Not To Do

Bobby Steve Baker

Passing for Normal

Oz Hardwick

Hallelujah, The Easter Bunny!

Louisa Campbell

Sloth on the Cross

Brett Evans

Hallmark and Me

John Grey

Eve and her mother have a little chat

Robert Ford

How I’ll wait for you

Kate Noakes

Beachcombers

Cheryl Pearson

Beachlands, Hayling Island

Simon Cockle

Perfect Bound

Ben Banyard

Ghost Dance

Howie Good


Therapy

David Seddon

because slack hands poke bulbs

in makeshift ground,

tubers and corms tear iron frost;

because the worm withers the root,

snub fingers stricture the clay,

the birds peck no pistil,

the bees bear no corn.

Bulbs twist,

slow in the dark,

hanker for light they resist;

dwell in their own vegetation;

Bulbs push –

force old soil,

wait for rain explosion,

warming earth.


Waiting for the Number 52

Steven Bruce

Fuck her, fuck him, and fuck his mother

she says into the phone,

while the child flaps with excitement.

In his hands he is holding a jam donut.

He spends a few minutes tearing

at it and squeezing out the jam.

He dabs it across his smile.

And he isn’t just happy,

I tell myself, he’s carefree.

As the bus approaches

he looks up at me, wide eyed

and grubby, waving his tiny

hand in my direction.

I give him an indecisive smile.

I swear I knew him once.


Maternité

Sue Kindon

My roommate was in a twilight gang

you could tell by her entourage

the leather coats the whispers

in a language not French

plotting to snatch my boy,

my hope born of good omen

when a blackbird sang

on the boulevard.

I closed my eyes,

and her accomplice

planted a floppy effigy

in his warm crib.

When I woke

the other bed was smooth.

She’d gone

with her swollen breast milk

and my hungry child.

I tried not to imagine her

feeding him on the Metro.

The doll demanded nothing.


ambition

Yoni Hammer-Kossoy

five am

the day no more

than an open

and closed bracket

the world outside

my bedroom

an aviary stuffed

with bright plumed birds

and rare blooms

if I reach high enough

I might touch its glass dome

painted with stars


‘One Under’

Marc Woodward

Sometimes I consider drops of rain

lying on the steel girder

of a railway line.

I think of them

shaking and glimmering

as the engine nears.

As if sentient,

trying to speak

or make a sign.

Yesterday the train was late again.

Not leaves this time

but fallen tears.

*Wikipedia: "...train drivers have used several phrases to refer to suicides, such as

"person under a train", "person on a track", "passenger action", and "one under".


How to Be Lonely

Jamie Houghton

Go on social media.

Get off social media.

Say yes when the lady who runs the slow coffeeshop

asks for help with email.

Write a friend

who broke a knee. She writes back

I urge you not to burn your old journals.

Realize she just stopped you from breaking your own heart.

Talk to loneliness.

Yell into its den

(You must yell

loud as you can)

or just sing a little bit, badly.

Don’t scream now, you will have to

anyway next time

you stub your toe

jolt awake from the sleep of your thoughts.

Ajax your sink until it’s bone white

take some old newspaper and polish your mirror

look in.

Don’t look in.

Coax loneliness out of the den. Offer it beer.

It prefers milk. Ask it about the weather.

It will tell you that nothing alive doesn’t burn

to be touched. Even the sun.

It will break your fingers


if you try to keep it near you.

Loneliness is wild please do not pursue when it runs.

Do not feed either.


Rachel and the Seven Wonders of the World

Rachel Burns

From a book with my name on the cover

I read about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

and I think all the stories are about me.

I dream of gods and monsters and magical

spirits as I sit cross legged on the floor in front

of the fire. The smell of burning pine as logs

smoulder on the grate. I can hear the roar

of lions and feel the heat of dragon’s breath

on my cheeks. My father listens to his cassettes

on the old player, Richard Burton booms

from the stereo, I lost my step in Nantucket

Do you see me Captain? The white bone talking.

My father makes supper. Every now and again

I look up to watch him butter the bread

then top with rings of apple, and sprinkle with sugar.

He puts the sandwich down with a glass of milk

at my feet. I don’t have time to eat.

I read on and on, hurling myself through

the beautiful tiled Ishtar Gate, into the arms

of the goddess of love and war.


The house near Cornacrieve

Nikki Robson

He couldn’t stand to live with her and left

himself in drying canvases

stacked against the walls of unused rooms,

unglazed.

He’d planted out the garden single-handed;

she’d stayed inside and scorned his

straining back through glass, then looked

away

while birds dropped seeds in all the stony

spaces, dibbled clumps of forest shade

and the rockery went

feral.


Landlords (Part 1)

R.K. Wallace

Proud survivors of Mao’s revolution,

they come into this

Cambodian household

in the ghettos of Long Beach,

mocking Buddha with their Christian arrogance,

“he is not even a God!

Jesus loves you!

Repent or face the wrath of the Lord!”

The wee Khmer granny simply smiles,

does she still hear the voice of Pol Pot’s

will to Angka?

She softly bows her head, happily submitting

the rent cheque, without a single word,

the gentle spirit like smoke

of incense crawls with the cockroaches

playing like innocent children on the floor,

which the landlords hate,

and they offer to kill off “those demons”

one by one,

for what they regard as a reasonable

price, of course.


Uninvited Guests

Jennifer Lothrigel

My acupuncturist sometimes placed

a needle on the upper inside

of my right calf

to exorcise ‘uninvited guests’

from my body.

For 37 years I collected them

by accident

or because I felt obligated

to be available to them wanting me

or

because I believed I could help them.

Some guests never left,

and my uterus became a ghost hostel.

When I discovered that

they were marking the walls

I sent them eviction notices.

I swept the floors with my besom,

then I painted the walls

the most delicious petal pink color.


The topiary garden

Rosie Garland

She spreads the petals of her skirt, the dress of a child

two decades past its wear-by date. She kneels, peers

into the pond’s looking-glass. The water flusters

with fish, tiny as eyelashes striped with mascara.

She eases one foot from its shoe. Sticking-plaster unpeels,

heel wet with a blister’s weeping.

On the first day she spent all her money:

Hello Kitty hairgrips, a matching clutch purse.

Geese patrol the space that is not-land,

not-pool. They creak, loud as old doors winched open.

She startles; circles her lips, pats her hand over the little hole

and lets go her ice-cream. It swims with ants.

He takes her picture. He will post it

like a card of wish-you-were what you are not.

If these box trees were not clipped so tight

they would grow anywhere they pleased.


My mother speaks thorns

Sophie McKeand

My mother speaks thorns.

Twisting dense & sharp

from open mouth

her words become sparring Red Kites that

maul our secrets.

After they have shredded my guts across the lawn

she collects me back up,

fashions bright innards into

bunting –

ties them to a tree to

fight the wind.

Sometimes, when the birds are sleeping

she will call me to swim with her

in a purple lake

edged with silver moss.

But I am wiser now

with bones of coiled snakes

– thorns of my own –

and I cannot swim

for the tangle of our hair.


the gift

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt

I bring you broken walls and shark’s fin razor wire

grown into the hard lines of my stone-scape

a handful of berries harder than a rosary

brighter than a maiden’s menstrual blood

I bring you fallen leaves and a handful of petals

steeped in salt tears to make a potion

swallow it down for its taste is quick and bitter

it is the seasonal remedy of my ice-house years

I bring you bird song and the bones of small birds

green nuts that sleep on and dream of forests

blue-violet shadows the mystery of roots

my spiked tongue the snapping of my spine.


At twelve

Leslie Thomas

She stepped out of a section eight

where they air their laundry

over the railing.

Head down, bangs over her eyes,

chewing bubble gum.

It was warm but she was covered

in a long coat, sleeves hanging past her hands

pulled a cigarette out of her pocket.

I know that tough.

Don’t need anyone

always know what’s packed

inside your lunchbox.

Pretend to be surprised at the table

with perfumed girls who squeal,

What did mom make me today?

I am under this gloss veneer,

won’t write you off or stare

such a shame.

I want to whisper into your ear

it gets better later

but never goes away.


If There Was No Sixteen

Courtney LeBlanc

There would be no county fair,

no cotton candy carnival rides,

no walking the hot pavement

in short shorts and thinking

it’s a compliment when the 25-year old

carnie let us ride without tickets.

There would be no Boone’s Farm

bonfires, no cigarettes in the smoky

shadows, no mascara trail of tears

when some boy dumped some girl

and then kissed her friend.

There would be no friends crammed

into your car, no driving the main drag,

no flirting with the Air Force guys

who found themselves trapped

in your frozen town.

There would be no skinny dipping

in summer lakes, no jet skis, no bikinis clinging

to non-existent curves as you kissed

the boy from the cabin across the cove.

There would be no freeing from braces,

no gilding of your boyfriend’s tongue across

the sudden smooth of your teeth,

no heavy petting sessions in the dark

basement.

There would be no first taste of alcohol,

no loosening of limbs and hands and mouths,

no 2am puke sessions when you thought

your mother was asleep.


There would be no sneaking out of windows,

no fast drives on back country roads,

no laughter ringing as the gravel spun

under your tires.

There would be no pierced nose

(to piss off your mother), no boyfriend

(to piss off your father), no awkward

sex talk, no period, no breaking

curfew, no pinkie swearing.


Ant Logic

Scott Edward Anderson

There’s an ant crawling inside my tent ceiling,

meaning upside down on the fabric,

perhaps trying to find a way out.

Tiny feelers touching down in front of him,

to no effect; at least, it doesn’t seem to help

navigate the cool, white nylon surface.

Yet, I’ve seen leaf-cutter ants in Ecuadorean

forests appear to know exactly where they are

and where they are going, even how long to get there.

Once I found an unusual ant during a breakfast.

I was at a conference in Aspen. E. O. Wilson,

renowned myrmecologist, was sitting at another table.

I took the specimen to him, asking,

“Dr. Wilson, what kind of ant is this?”

He looked at me and then to the ant, saying, “Lost.”


Imaginary Mixtape #33

John C. Fitzsimmons

Side A –

Yarn Clap & the Rheumatoids – Voicemail from a Dead Horse

Edna Jerk Flint – Kick out the Skin Flints

Peetie Faceplate – My Face Still Hurts

Illegitimate Son of the Eyewitness News Team – Not Without Our Son

Glaucoma Glenn – Cornea Jokez (Live at the Third Nipple)

The Phone-Ins – Phoning it in at the Phoney Inn

Melted White Chocolate Tuxedos – Shades of Cleanliness in Glades of

Deadliness

Toilet Stilts – Walk it Off

Experimental Banking – Tax Season Again

The Inkling Ensemble – Distinctively Inclined… (from Live at the Inkling

Palace)

Merle Cobblecrumb – Cookieduster Blues

Forest Clearing Information Desk – Contemporary Actuality

Sea Battery – Unpowering the Power Vacuum

Side B –

Dickhead Slim & the Vasectomies – Drowsy Sword

Open Casket Wedding – A Rupturing of Nuptials

The Reception Environment –

Porkchop Sally – Good Luck with the Raffle

Otto Von Bisquick – Reign of Batter

Vividness Digest – That Mountain Can’t Be Real

Footnote Pajamas – Slaughter on Pajama Mountain

Abel Wanton – Ladled by a Swan Song

Frig Factory – Friggin’ Down at the Frig Factory (Frig, Frig, Frig)

Martha Wobblenaught – Table Shim Shuffle

Tree Surgeons – Knuckle Bark

Ambulatory Lozenges – Walking Down a Throat

See-through Robespiere – Your Hip Replacement is Blocking My View

of the Afterlife


a munchies story

raphael d’abdon

(based on actual events)

at steers.

me: “can i please have a veggie burger with no sauces, extra avocado sauce

and chili sauce, and a bottle of sparkling water?"

waitress: “with no bubbles?”

silence.

she laughs.

i laugh.

the burger was great.

the water too.

i gave her a very good tip.


What Not To Do

Bobby Steve Baker

after a stupid argument with your spouse do not

sit down to a large bottle of vodka and a small bottle of pills

after you have consumed a great amount of each do not stomp out the door

refusing to talk grabbing your wife’s concealed carry jacket

after you get outside in the head clearing air do not

decide it would be good to put distance to this and get in the car

after you get in the car feeling just fine to drive do not

start’er up and head down town to a great bar you know

after you get to the bar and settle in to a few drinks do not

think the knock out body at the end of the bar has been dying to meet you

after you get this woman of questionable age to the car do not

suggest a romantic drive around a more questionable part of town

once you have driven her around awhile telling lies do not

take her up on the offer to go to her place for another drink

when you get inside her run down digs do not

listen with heartfelt sympathy to her plight to pay the rent

after you fork over a hundred bucks to ease her mind do not

believe you are now soul mates as she reflexively takes off her clothes

after you have taken your clothes off also do not

lay on the bed with her for a little tender late night cuddling

after you have had unprotected sex and notice needles strew everywhere do not

give her more cash because she is screaming she is 17 and is calling the cops

after you cough up another hundred and the cops come anyway do not

open the door naked and yell no problem here go find some fucking criminals

when the cops frisk your pile of clothes and find your wife’s gun do not


scream out that they have planted that gun because they are dirty cops

when the cops tell you get someone to drive you home and leave do not

assume they are gone for good get dressed and head for your car

when the sirens and flashing lights come speeding behind you do not

try to outrun them because my friend you have created what the survivalists

call a SHTF scenario and the only question left is are you negotiating

with your wife from outside your little house or inside the big house


Passing for Normal

Oz Hardwick

An anonymous café. We exchange notes

over coffee – quetiapine, venlafaxine, olanzapine –

nod in mutual understanding of the Prozac

twitch. I shook for three months on lithium

and my body’s not my own. It’s a Top Trumps

of chemistry, but we’re not keeping score.

We’re three espressos in, and my hands are moving

in ways I don’t recognise: nothing to do with me,

though I’m faintly curious. We tick off therapies,

expert opinions, the ten month wait

to feel lost and awkward with a harassed stranger,

failing to communicate in a flaking Victorian asylum

or an unmarked terrace, a secret headquarters

with codes and cameras, where professional voices

check passwords, offer rudimentary disguises,

attempt to smuggle us back to the real world,

to pass for normal, mixing into the morning crowd,

our minds tight as suicide vests, counting down.


Hallelujah, The Easter Bunny!

Louisa Campbell

They said I should trudge to Golgotha

And kneel at the foot of the cross, looking up

at Jesus’ twisted body;

his hammered-through hands and feet;

the thorns – like crows’ beaks – rammed

into his battered head.

Crimson, so much blood, mingled with tears

he wept for all the Sin he had created

and all the Sin he had loaded

on my shoulders

like granite.

Then lo, along bounced The Easter Bunny!

Hallelujah, The Easter Bunny!

Six foot six of primrose-yellow fur,

and arched window-shaped smiling eyes:

like a cuddly toy, but real

(the way animals often seem, after all).

He said, ‘What are you doing?

Down there?

On your knees?’

‘I am weighed down with Sin,’ I replied.

And he chuckled, ‘No you’re not, you twit!’

His wondrous grin

was all the prayer I needed.

He held out his furry mitten hand

and I accepted it.

He raised me up

and stood my feet on his thumper feet

and hugged me to him.

I threw my arms around his neck

and off we bounded.

We sprang so high


I could really breathe

and the air grew soft in my lungs.

I felt his strength like the sunshine.

Even though we soared over the Arndale,

over Carphone Warehouse

and closed-down Woollies,

I feared no evil: Yay!

Verily, merrily,

his perky pom-pom bobtail,

his pearly buck teeth

and all the boingy-boinging

restored my soul.

Now I believe! I believe in The Easter Bunny!

Surely I will bounce with the bunny forever.

Amen, Easter Bunny,

Amen.


Sloth on the Cross

Brett Evans

Sloth is dredged from torpidity

by a strange breed intent on banging on

about a man dying for sins. Sloth asks

if we all aren’t, and in his wooziness

swears he hears himself a sin;

rich, he thinks, from unsolicited

slumber-wreckers.

Welcome to his sins; Sloth hopes

that they won’t wash his sleep away

yet does his best to remain alert, endure

their noon-time story. Sloth’s lazy thinking,

between belly and ball scratches,

concludes they do disservice

to the back-stabber who did himself in.

Sloth reasons the back-stabber, money-grabber,

grafted for Big Chief Slumber-Wrecker

unawares; part of His, decidedly wacky, plan.

No, a dastardly cad, and Sloth’s too tired to argue that.

Sloth’s asked about the ending of the world

and remembers a time when he thought it had;

hours before this unholy interruption. And now wishes

it would again. They drone on and Sloth daydreams

he’s permanently fixed to a timber rest

before being elevated skyward – seems idyllic,

but not for shy and simple Sloth;

all that adoration

and misinterpretation.


Hallmark and Me

John Grey

Greeting card stores

have the worst poetry

because the gaudy, feckless

hunks of bent-over doggerel

don’t conceal their ambition.

Open one up and

what is the message:

this is the love poem,

this is the ode to

a twenty fifth anniversary.

And still I buy the

tackiest of the tacky verse,

send it to a loved one.

I want them to know

that I care enough

to have some unnamed,

unknown, Hallmark copy writer

say I do.

You know,

I couldn’t have said that better

myself.


Eve and her mother have a little chat

Robert Ford

Be careful how you peel a quiet man.

Loud ones are notoriously easy;

with just the merest hint of encouragement,

everything falls away. And don’t worry;

you can be blunt. Or sharp. Or occasionally

not even in the same room, and still

you’ll find your loud man easily peeled.

Not always worth the effort, but

easily peeled (of the core and pips

we’ll speak another time, perhaps...)

His skin often being unusually thin,

a quiet man may bruise easily;

quietly too, of course, and the silence

walling in the damage may be deafening;

you may not notice the harm inflicted till

the peeling is done, so handle with caution.

Cradle the quiet man in an open hand;

begin boldly, well away from the stalk,

but keep as close as you dare when the job

is nearly done. The juice should never be shared.


How I’ll wait for you

Kate Noakes

By pitch, my tanned thighs

tensed for your touch

velvet in the dark

by star in a silk slip

crushed and rippling

on the pink breeze

by streetlight as I

glow my lips

and nipples with gloss

by crescent moon, dressed

only in a bracelet

a snake with its silver tail

in its silver mouth

or, in nothing at all

save a splash of scent.


Beachcombers

Cheryl Pearson

The Winter sun hits wet sand,

and the struck world whitens.

The sea is lightning

strung with salt. The sand is white fire.

You find a crab and lift it,

red legs clicking like worked locks.

You find a seahorse, crispbrown

and snappable, curled in a

permanent question.

But it’s my find you handle like real treasure –

the mussel shell, hinged like a fairy-door,

with its tin stink and violet folds,

the insides holding their own wash of light

like a net of pearls cast at a throat.

I watch as you tilt your palm sunward,

then away, to see the lilacs rise,

to see the goldpinks shift. Your eyes

are the crucible where magic lives –

colours from nowhere, rainbows

rinsed from dead shell.

I shift, too, when you look at me like that.

I am also made beautiful.


Beachlands, Hayling Island

Simon Cockle

1

You hold tight the memories you wish to keep;

you discard the rest like knots in handkerchiefs.

So the plastic afternoons

of my childhood,

spent cross-legged

in wet trunks on the

flea-peppered beach

at Hayling Island,

become a fairy-tale of ice-cream

and Black Forest castles as

the sun splinters,

crystalline, on the ridges

of slow-motion breakers.

I throw smooth, patterned stones at the waves;

only noise and filth are returned at my feet.

2

Close season; snow settles

in for the night as the sun,

whose journey above the horizon

had barely begun, lies low

behind its sleeve of water.

The beach has gone;

under this covering

of pale slush, it attracts

no one. Even the dogs

of winter fain interest.

Drifts collect in the shelter

of tarred groynes, making dunes

around derelict castles with


their shed feather flags

and cigarette butts for soldiers.

Other flakes fall on the slate

face of the sea – their mathematics

makes little impression;

in the moment they present,

they are nothing again.

3

My father and mother met on this beach;

they parted company here, too,

when half a century had passed.

There were no words then; the sea

had more to say that April morning.

A scattering of ashes, and she was returned

to the whale-deep of the echoing sea.

She loved its sound, its promise;

now, I hear her rush of excitement

in the constancy of her waves.


Perfect Bound

Ben Banyard

Just 28 pages

gloss cover

bright white paper

but these words

came from you

even if you

didn’t write them.

They flew in

driving frosted mornings

washing up

ironing small clothes.

They’re caught on breezes

blowing your music

scented like you

they ask after me.

Everyone should know

this book is for you;

I’d give anything

to hand you a copy.


Ghost Dance

Howie Good

Sure, God can prove to be too small, careers can collapse, lovers leave. But

then the sky is so thoroughly that sapphire blue you adored it’s impossible to

believe you aren’t still alive to see it. The genes that give humans the ability to

speak give birds the ability to sing. It reminds me of my grandmother, how

she’d pick up a spider she found in the house and put it back outside. Look up

there. Cave painters depicted running animals by showing them with eight

legs. Now, as remembered constellations float into view, the dots of fire

combine to conceive this woman carrying a tired child up these starry stairs to

sleep.


For writer biographies / web links, please see the

‘Contributors’ page on our website.

Thank you for reading!

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