Picaroon Poetry - Issue #8 - May 2017

In this issue, we have conflict, infidelity, introspection, death, and all of the other finer things in life - and, really, what more do you want from a poetry journal? Happy reading! Features work by Arushi Singh, Laura Enright, Kathleen Latham, Spencer Folkins, Neil Fulwood, Joe Williams, Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon, Monique Byro, Mat Gould, Andie Berryman, Mark Young, David Subacchi, Sarah Doyle, Miki Byrne, Grant Tarbard, Violet Dahl, anggo genorga, Sharon Larkin, Lyndi Bell O'Laughlin, Noel Williams, Penny Sharman, Nicky Phillips, Sheikha A., Lesley Quayle, Michael Marrotti, Michèle Alter Brenton, Robert Nisbet, and Barry Fentiman Hall.

In this issue, we have conflict, infidelity, introspection, death, and all of the other finer things in life - and, really, what more do you want from a poetry journal? Happy reading! Features work by Arushi Singh, Laura Enright, Kathleen Latham, Spencer Folkins, Neil Fulwood, Joe Williams, Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon, Monique Byro, Mat Gould, Andie Berryman, Mark Young, David Subacchi, Sarah Doyle, Miki Byrne, Grant Tarbard, Violet Dahl, anggo genorga, Sharon Larkin, Lyndi Bell O'Laughlin, Noel Williams, Penny Sharman, Nicky Phillips, Sheikha A., Lesley Quayle, Michael Marrotti, Michèle Alter Brenton, Robert Nisbet, and Barry Fentiman Hall.


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Issue #8

May 2017

Edited by Kate Garrett

All poems copyright © 2017 individual authors

Selection/issue copyright © 2017 Kate Garrett / Picaroon Poetry

This Month’s Rogue Poems ● May 2017

The Slush Pile

Arushi Singh

What’s on your mind?

Laura Enright

Heart Block

Kathleen Latham


Spencer Folkins

Can’t Take Me Anywhere

Neil Fulwood


Joe Williams


Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon

when you tell me Your Happiness is more important than mine

Monique Byro

baptism babe

Mat Gould


Andie Berryman

testing the spaces

Mark Young


David Subacchi

Man and Tree

Sarah Doyle

Poem to a Derelict Fishing Boat

Miki Byrne

The Remembrance Reel

Grant Tarbard

Chauchilla Cemetery

Violet Dahl

to Max

anggo genorga

1024 – homage to Incubus

Sharon Larkin

Why Kim Won’t Go Out at Night

Lyndi Bell O’Laughlin

Mothballing the observatory

Noel Williams

Aromatic Kitchen

Penny Sharman


Nicky Phillips


Sheikha A.

For Her

Lesley Quayle

Redemptive Clause

Michael Marrotti

Internal Conflict Resolution

Michèle Alter Brenton


Robert Nisbet

The Road to Domestos

Barry Fentiman Hall

The Slush Pile

Arushi Singh

To the Editor

They told me that everybody is not Shakespeare

But darling, everybody is Wordsworth, their voice was just never heard

So I tip toe across the slush piles pretending all of life isn’t in it

Stepping on the occasional memorably eccentric, my demon told me

Life will suck the life out from under you

He was right so here I am

A fragile atheist at my knees

Right before you

Tell me darling, does your wizard have a lightning bolt scar too?

I wanted fame in a heaving peace of words

They told me you’re good

But not for us

So I tip toe across the slush piles pretending all of us aren’t in it

Remind me when your suicidal girl gets a dragon tattoo

And I’ll slip you right through

They told me you’re good

But not for us

And I wonder when words ever mean what you think they mean

Or just what you’d kill to have them mean

What’s on your mind?

Laura Enright

Once I read online

that poetry is becoming more popular

to tweet

even if you must write

in txt spk

this stanza shows you 140 characters

(it doesn’t get you very far)

the internet is bad, boys & girls

always giving you something to compare yourself to

or something you wish you had

or someone you wish you had back

but what seems to drive people craziest is


‘Seen’ 12.23pm



this same friend said once that one of the toughest things

about her breakup was

having to log out of her ex-boyfriend’s

Netflix account

lucky her.

thanks for sharing.

sometimes google writes poems for me

if I type in the first few words

I wonder if

we smile in our coffins

I wonder if

anyone misses me

I wonder if

I’m wasting my time

Heart Block

Kathleen Latham

The doctor tells me that the electrical system of my heart is faulty.

Connections that should be made are blocked.

He draws a crude diagram that looks more like a clenched fist

than the battered shape I envision laboring beneath my ribs.

He draws paths with arrows and carelessly tosses around words

like missed signals and impaired impulses.

He draws a dark, transecting line to symbolize the block

and labels the area above it the Bundle of His.

“It’s pronounced hiss,” he says, “like a snake.”

I imagine it then. That microscopic dead end.

I imagine the energy of my body, minding its own business,

hurtling forward, all those cells firing off like the wave at a stadium,

thousands of eager fans jumping from their seats to cheer me on,

arms raised, mouths open, and then, without warning,

that solid black line—

Stopping them cold. Shutting them up. Telling them to take their

seats because you decided that girl who works at Chili’s was better

for you than I was, because I had to come home and trip over

her trashy, pink-heeled shoes and follow the sound of your laughter

up to our bedroom, the blood pumping in my ears for maybe

the last normal time.

“We may never know why you have it,” the doctor says.

Maybe you’ve had it your whole life.”

But I know.

It was years ago,

but I still carry the scar

of your fangs.


Spencer Folkins


When I was younger

I thought my brother would one day surpass me in age

because that’s how age worked

in my mind

young people grew older

and seniority was a debt to be paid


On the day I turned ten

I remember staring out the window, knowing

the future had its own gravity

I was not allowed to escape


I’m still learning to accept that


When I was a teenager I ordained


this place is for contemplation,

this one for feeling,

this one to forget

nothing bad could ever happen here


I confuse loneliness for not being owed


One day, I’ll look back

realize it’s already too late

Can’t Take Me Anywhere

Neil Fulwood

It’s me making the too-loud comment

for the benefit of a lager drinker

in a real ale pub. It’s me asking for brown sauce

in the Michelin-starred restaurant.

It’s me prompting that roll of the eyes, that

shake of the head. It’s me photobombing the Mona Lisa,

Whistler’s mother, the barmaid at the Folies-Bergère.

It makes you despair of me even more

that I know what year Manet painted it. How to spell

Folies-Bergère. Where the accent goes.


Joe Williams

I rehearse in my mind

the words I have to say.

I’ve written your lines too

to sit between mine,

in the hope that you won’t

stray too far off-script.

I need to tell you something.

Perhaps you’ve worked it out,

though you haven’t said a word

about the new shirts,

the late nights at work,

or the weekend away

with friends I’d never mentioned.

No, you don’t know her.

Maybe you’ll shout

and call me a bastard.

You’ll probably cry.

Perhaps I will too,

while I’m packing my bags

or opening the door.

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

The last words are always

the hardest to write.

I’ve never been good

at endings.


Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon

Blues and reds of silk-shot winter skies

blessed our time in Prague.

Promised partners –

only friends.

And we’d spoken true. Until.

We tramped old streets,

Stopped at bars for coffee

chased by brandy. Flushed

with adventure and daring

to go a little further.

Later, before guilt snagged,

I learnt –

love is two pairs of shoes,

kicked off quickly, laces still tied.

when you tell me Your Happiness is more important

than mine

Monique Byro

I make grilled cheeses when I’m feeling down, on days like this one.

Two slices of Provolone, extra butter, and maybe some homemade fries too,

if I’m feeling adventurous.

Yeah, self-help is a joke, but this sandwich is life changing.

I put on mismatched socks, one purple, one blue,

and I rip myself out of bed,

to just exist.

I put on a .99 facemask I bought

two months ago at Walmart,

because a facemask is as good a mask as any that I was planning on wearing


I try to play “Island in the Sun” on my ukulele,

and cringe at how embarrassing I am.

I wonder if you’re thinking about me.

I remind myself not to care, then put on that sweatshirt you got at the flea

market and walk out of my stale and friendly dorm.

I sit on the grass between our buildings, and fail to draw the sky.

But I still smile, because I like the way my socks are brighter than any

Prismacolor pencil.

aptism babe

Mat Gould

Monday morning doing the weekend’s dishes

while listening to Grant Green’s Idle Moments

can fog be big or is there just a lot of it?

egg must be rinsed from the plate

because if it sits for a day or so, it becomes an arrogant barnacle of which true

labor can only remove.


Andie Berryman

Glider pilots

Don’t have superstitions.

New shoes on the table

only elicit

examination to see

if the table is strong enough to

bear the shoes.

testing the spaces

Mark Young

I shook

his hand. In

some transactions

the pressing

of flesh



is just the



David Subacchi

This is where Bluebells grew,

Where sunlight stabbed

Between crowded trees

Dazzling children

Walking to a school,

Waiting peacefully

Below the crows’ nests

And overgrown

Ornamental gardens.

And this is where

The mad dog

Lay in wait

Starved of affection

Eager for flesh.

Man and Tree

Sarah Doyle

“On Thursday 10 th July 1834, a large barrow of tumulus containing a burial was opened at

Gristhorpe, near Scarborough [… revealing…] a perfectly preserved crouched human skeleton

with grave goods, inside a hollowed-out oak trunk coffin. […] Research has so far indicated […] a

current date of burial between 2200 BC and 1900 BC.”

– Gristhorpe Man exhibition notes, Rotunda Museum, Scarborough

This felled carcass,

hollowed body of

wood and bark and

twig and leaf, where

I am woven through

earth in thick stitches

that time cannot

unravel. This prone

giant that fingered

the sky and held

birds in its twisted

limbs, where beetles

map my thinning skin.

This cradle of agerings

that knew a

season’s turn by the

length of its own

shadows, where my

tongue curls round

old words that decay

in the mouth’s cavity.

This gutted trunk in

whose belly I blacken

slowly, where men

will come to see my

bones as treasure.

Poem to a Derelict Fishing Boat

Miki Byrne

Gulls cry out, for she who rode white horses.

Dipped and dived through wind-lifted watery cliffs,

keel balanced, bow-proud, nets flung wing-wide

to harvest natures’ bounty.

Her own curves echoed in those of a breaching whale

flash of shoaling fish, hauled in a star-filled thrash.

Decks were slimed with scales and echoed

with the slap of wadered feet, a shanties low hum.

Now she rests, ribs worn skinny by elemental scouring.

Painted strakes sun-blistered, hull pocked by scabs

of dried weed and barnacles.

Her mast is amputated, bilges drained dry

as a bloodless carcass.

Her rudder is skewed stuck, in the paralysis of death.

She lists into shingle, casts a forlorn shadow

upon rattling stones, harbours crab-scuttle

and shelled creatures.

Tips her peeling, tilted, prow to the unforgiving sky.

The Remembrance Reel

Grant Tarbard

This tiny funeral cannot convey

that we know shared loss. This tiny window

cannot completely transmit that we knew

shared love and have traversed treacherous seas.

This tiny man fixated on a breath,

a single tree swayed outside his window.

This tiny pane can’t unfurl the petals

of a life – ear ache, orgasm, toothpaste, gin,

the melted sky of a Cornish sunset –

the clouds were as empty as dog collars.

This tiny man, behind his eyes cities

dwell, weary reapers crank the beguiled lights.

This tiny gallows is the last food bank,

this tiny charnel house wants volunteers.

Chauchilla Cemetery

Violet Dahl

Chauchilla conjures


skeletons draped

in whispering strips

of papyrus skin

they sing only of

the East’s aridity

and Peruvian coffee

blacker than

eye sockets

the Poroma riverbed

mourns their

sojourn – detour

number four off

the Panamerican Highway

Nazca to Cahuachi

if you please

if you believe

in etching geoglyphs

with God’s toes.

to Max

anggo genorga

don’t know why

they say all dogs

go to heaven

when they die

but i would love

to see you there —

your paws and tongue

massaging the back

of tired saints

playing fetch with angels

with that stupid

flattened plastic ball

rolling your body of

fine dark fur with ticks on

ethereal clouds and blue skies

barking on the pearly gates

as it denies entry to

some poor souls

howling on the illuminating

light as you watch angels

of death take flight

ripping off the first few

chapters whatever holy book

you might see there

piss on the throne of the

Almighty and marking it

as your territory;

go max, and mess around

have God clean your crap

scattered all over the place —

it’s much better to do than

shed a tear and run out of breath

as you finally meet your maker.

1024 – homage to Incubus

Sharon Larkin

Every morning a waif

in a grey hoodie

stares zombie-like in crowds:

airport lounge, classroom,

church, shop, office,

road junction, supermarket.

She screams for a whole minute

and everyone is snatched away.

An empty bus crashes, a coffee mug

falls, a shopping trolley rolls

and instruments lie, abandoned.

She was trying to warn us.

Why Kim Won’t Go Out at Night

Lyndi Bell O’Laughlin

The aurora borealis filled the sky

during a family vacation in Kim’s eighth year;

the cracks in the spruce trees let it in.

It spied her strong while faking only a glance

as she clutched the deck rails on

her uncle’s trailer house in Nunapitchuk.

Uncle Chuck, a gentle squab of a man,

told her not to look too close

at the undulating shades of green and red,

the purple with its yellow teeth,

but she did anyway,

so Uncle told her that the northern lights

are the dancing spirits of children

who died at birth, and that

we must be respectful.

Bullshit, Auntie said.

The big woman singed meat in

whale fat with a black iron skillet

and Kim believed all her pontifications.

E’rybody knows, said Auntie,

the aurora borealis be the spirits of

the dead playing ball with a walrus.

Kim’s Uncle and Auntie

agreed on one point.

Never whistle at it.

If you do it will come down

and pluck you from the earth.

Mothballing the observatory

Noel Williams

Confronting the attic

where only scraps of light remain

among the carrier bags and fairground toys,

I imagine planetoids of circling dust

massed at the pull and push of her heat

spun to her rays that burned through rock.

We’d taken slates, slashed the roof,

half-built a cantilevered frame. Sunlight’s

now irony, recolouring snapshots,

the astrolabe, backgammon pieces

stained with nail-varnish, unread Spenser,

Tarot cards, a dress faded as a burnt moth.

This press of objects and heavy time

that stoked desire, maps emptiness.

Our prismed vision bent all light.

Now memory’s fantastic as her heron ghost,

a tawdry gaze dazzled by fireworks,

startling and sparking and here and gone

whilst nothing happens on the ground.

The secrets I searched for lie here

in plain view. The sky’s not blue.

There is no sky. The stars long ran

from where we put them.

The fires of Venus, ice of Mars, steel clouds of Jupiter

and Saturn’s ring of knives are tricks I’ve played

to hide my accidental birth.

My mother left me staring at the sun.

My father stuffed night in his pillow.

And when a silver bird stooped to me from her sky

that was no syzygy but a casual touch

swapping moments of loneliness,

children’s marbles spinning in a hole.

Aromatic Kitchen

Penny Sharman

Mother goose, white lady has turned up the heat in this room,

so keep your shades on or the fire will sweep you off the floor.

There are three heads of garlic placed at intervals on the circle,

backwards writing, spoons, knives, a bowl of water a rolling pin,

and someone’s pointing the finger or waving a wand. It’s a fairy dance,

a ballet of silk satin shoes, transcendence around the Comal. There’s always

some meaning in how you were birthed, your blood, flesh and bone, like a

stew, a fine dining of you, the preparation of the hearth, hub of creation,

the feast of you, the cabbage, carrot, aubergine, corn peppers, the chillies

the vessel of you. You must resist the temptation to taste the banquet

in the fiery kitchen, Mother goose, white lady has turned up the heat in

this room.


Nicky Phillips

Unscrew the lid of the Kilner jar,

its rings as clearly marked

as worry lines on a forehead;

remove the vacuum seal,

tight as a childhood hug from

underneath the eiderdown;

tip away the brine, watch it cough

and splutter, the way dregs

of wine chug down a plughole;

spy traces of salt and vinegar, sharp

as the slap of a North Sea wind,

chill water lapping around pale toes;

unlayer sprigs of dill, garlic cloves

like orphans washed up on a beach,

peppercorns hard-skinned as bad landlords.

Finally, shake out the chunks,

restore, make whole once more,

smooth away the scars.


Sheikha A.

Saturn will exit my house in a few

months – astrology has warned me of

thefts. There is a loose strand of

cobweb dangling to the voice of

the singing nun on low television. It has

taken eight years and that many sages

to discern the wrong with me. I wear

grey blankets on cool summer nights –

elegies on the border of the moon. What

are your summers made up of? We offer

lentils to the poor in my culture: gesture

of transfer – jinxes streamed into the unawares.

Plenty of sun to use of its shine. When you

point to the map, I’ll be on the near side

of the equator, dipping like the iceberg

over the tropics. The winter has left red chillies

scattered over a pair of cold feet – almost

too soon, unprepared like the first season,

concerned, divided – filling up space with

the first words coming out of your mouth.

*Sadaqah means offerings for charitable purposes, and in most instances to be rid of jinxes.

For Her

Lesley Quayle

She’s young and wears youth like an old coat

buttoned up to hide the scars and bruises;

undone by her own skin.

She invited blood suckers to her bed

split her heart for them, a rose-red sweetmeat

to lick and suck.

Never thought for even a moment

they wouldn’t love her. How could they not?

Such a sweet young thing.

They said they did, over and over,

their tongues in her mouth a conversation of love.

Of course they did.

All heart-warming stories,

tasting of beer and tobacco, her drowning

at the bottom of their sweating wells.

Mammy said there was no other way,

persuaded by the vigilant sisters,

hooded, rank as lilies,

in serried rows. She lay still,

so still, for this never-to-be-celebrated birthday

on the cold, unmarried slab

and spilled her prize.

She heard a cry.

Small island of sound.

Redemptive Clause

Michael Marrotti

We go through

this routine

every couple

of months

Where vodka

bottles explode

felonies are close

enough to touch

and pictures of

better times

fall from the walls

I like to think

of the time

spent away

as a joyful


When the only time

I show teeth

is when I smile

hands are used

to warmly

embrace others

and the bottle

of Xanax

is forgotten

Plus I’m saving

money on Tylenol

Until I attempt

to rewrite history

again and again

like a lunatic

on a redemptive


By subjecting myself

to the malice

in Brookline

by a woman I

reluctantly call mom

who’s out to destroy

anything with a smile

Internal Conflict Resolution

Michèle Alter Brenton

They told me you were mine

so I held you

and gazing into the depths of you

unlocked all there was of me.

Connection achieved.

You laughed

and we called it


I gave you everything

and you called it love.

Connection maintained.

I had no manual

to trouble shoot

what happened next.

I had no way to

reboot what I lost.

Connection terminated.

I continue.

I will always continue.

I do not know

how to do otherwise.


They tell me this is mine

so I hold it

and gazing into the depths of it

know parts of me can never be unlocked.

Connection unstable/Working connection achieved.


Robert Nisbet

Seen in my rear-view mirror, yelling joy,

nearing the snake of a treacherous bend,

two boys, nineteen or so, exuding youth’s diablo,

the roaring Mazda celebrating road.

Then, in accelerated rush, hey-hey old man,

racing past to the next bend, to a morning

crammed with imagined godhead of a kind,

their tail receding to a nearing future.

The inquest I read about. The faces

pinched and sombre in poor newsprint.

Reports of driving near the brink of sanity.

The parents broken, an emptiness of everything.

We can regret, bitterly, the loss of years

and family and festival and occupation.

They might have been, in time, seventy, staid,

but with a locker full of things happened.

But worst, their final seconds and the realising

that the youth and brilliance were over,

that they were going to die. Maybe,

an inner howl for parents, place and home.

The Road to Domestos

Barry Fentiman Hall

Paul lands upon my shoulder

His eyes as great and grey as moths

He turns gravely slow

To see that the door has closed behind him

It clicks and he sits and gazes

At the letters that I feed

He marvels at the speed

And tries to count them as they

Flutter by to Sevenoaks

Or some such

We pass some time

With nods and smiles

And warmly offered words

That trickle dry

In the hot fast world beyond him

Soft he sets off with little sighs

To push his bin

And wipe some tiles

He wasn't always this way, they say

The boy that was born

Got lost in the fog one day

On the road to Domestos

His changeling face a poster child

Asking for Information

That may bring him back

We found him once in a quiet place

Spinning a cocoon

Till the doctor came

To stroke his wings and sing to him

It happens now and then

They say

For writer biographies / web links, please see the

‘Contributors’ page on our website.

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