Picaroon Poetry - Issue #10 - September 2017

We have a strange and wonderful line up for Issue #10 - including (but not limited to) smugglers, dinners, literary icons, an octopus, a tapir, pop stars, and the passage of time. Featuring poetry by Stephen Daniels, Stella Bahin, John Grey, Claire Lloyd, Lorraine Carey, Kathleen Latham, Natalie Crick, Leda Muscatello, Billy Malanga, Sarah Shirley, Pat Edwards, Monique Byro, James Croal Jackson, D. Dallas, Neil Fulwood, Howie Good, Michele Stepto, Tristan Moss, Joe Cottonwood, S.E. Acton, Brett Evans, Samuel Kendall, Philip Flynn, Belinda Rimmer, J.A. Sutherland, Kathleen Strafford, Catriona Yule, Patricia Walsh, Nick Romeo, J.P. Bohannon, and Hannah Stone. Enjoy!

We have a strange and wonderful line up for Issue #10 - including (but not limited to) smugglers, dinners, literary icons, an octopus, a tapir, pop stars, and the passage of time.

Featuring poetry by Stephen Daniels, Stella Bahin, John Grey, Claire Lloyd, Lorraine Carey, Kathleen Latham, Natalie Crick, Leda Muscatello, Billy Malanga, Sarah Shirley, Pat Edwards, Monique Byro, James Croal Jackson, D. Dallas, Neil Fulwood, Howie Good, Michele Stepto, Tristan Moss, Joe Cottonwood, S.E. Acton, Brett Evans, Samuel Kendall, Philip Flynn, Belinda Rimmer, J.A. Sutherland, Kathleen Strafford, Catriona Yule, Patricia Walsh, Nick Romeo, J.P. Bohannon, and Hannah Stone.



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<strong>Issue</strong> <strong>#10</strong><br />

<strong>September</strong> <strong>2017</strong><br />

Edited by Kate Garrett<br />

All poems copyright © <strong>2017</strong> individual authors<br />

Selection/issue copyright © <strong>2017</strong> Kate Garrett / <strong>Picaroon</strong> <strong>Poetry</strong>

This Month’s Rogue Poems ● <strong>September</strong> <strong>2017</strong><br />

Impatience // Stephen Daniels<br />

Before Embracing Sleep // Stella Bahin<br />

Origins // John Grey<br />

The Return // Claire Lloyd<br />

Teenager // Lorraine Carey<br />

Sixteen // Kathleen Latham<br />

Girl in the Cornfield // Natalie Crick<br />

still // Leda Muscatello<br />

Ballad of an Old Crow // Billy Malanga<br />

Paleo bites // Sarah Shirley<br />

Suitable for vegans, vegetarians and coeliacs // Pat Edwards<br />

Honey Hearts // Monique Byro<br />

Taylor Swift // James Croal Jackson<br />

She-Babe // D. Dallas<br />

Never Buy New Shoes for a Corpse // Neil Fulwood<br />

A Short History of Office Politics // Howie Good<br />

Homer Takes Notes // Michele Stepto<br />

What Blake Didn’t Say About Innocence // Tristan Moss<br />

When Eisenhower who won WW Two was President // Joe Cottonwood<br />

Our Lad // S.E. Acton

Philosophies and Maladies // Brett Evans<br />

Ethereal // Samuel Kendall<br />

From the Gutter to the Stars // Philip Flynn<br />

A Map of Canada // Belinda Rimmer<br />

Olivia’s Violin // J.A. Sutherland<br />

Blanche Dubois to Stella // Kathleen Strafford<br />

Fine // Catriona Yule<br />

Conduct Forthcoming // Patricia Walsh<br />

Zeit Heist // Nick Romeo<br />

Octopus Love // J.P. Bohannon<br />

Tapir // Hannah Stone

Stephen Daniels<br />

Impatience<br />

He hurried through the supermarket,<br />

searching for time.<br />

A worried glance at fresh fruit left no hints.<br />

The assistant had forgotten<br />

where time was kept.<br />

‘Can anyone who knows<br />

where time can be found, come forward?’<br />

After a moment, nothing.<br />

The Deli counter was not serving slices of time –<br />

people had stopped asking for it.<br />

Now they sold pieces only in joints.<br />

He rushed the meat counter<br />

and there it was, in all its raw savagery.<br />

A slab of time – ready to consume.<br />

When at home, he googled<br />

how to prepare time.<br />

One website said to smear it<br />

with sage and cook slow, and long.<br />

Another said sprinkle with pepper,<br />

turn up the heat – bake it quick.<br />

He decided to do neither.<br />

Instead, sat next to his uncooked carcass<br />

of time and considered it.<br />

This was the first instance he had spent<br />

any meaningful session with time.

He savoured it, then he ate it all, raw.<br />

He chewed its gristle,<br />

until it passed.

Stella Bahin<br />

Before Embracing Sleep<br />

My mobile phone reads 3:08. I like the shape<br />

this number makes, the hat piratical, the nose<br />

a clown’s, the smile lemniscate. Still. I exit<br />

my house. I have to walk until I feel my muscles<br />

ache, before embracing sleep. A silent<br />

big brown city fox twigs my toddy feet,<br />

crouches in wait at my corner ravenous belly hot<br />

upon the gritty street, doubled at once into a team<br />

by another, standing: 4 no-tech fox eyes fixed on me.<br />

Mutinous. I turn home quick, not as a wildebeest<br />

picked from its herd by lions, filmed by the BBC,<br />

but as 1 license-paying owner of a civilised TV<br />

(making vulpine jaws of my fists with my keys), get<br />

back behind my front door too soon to have ached<br />

my muscles, in time to have ached my meat.

John Grey<br />

Origins<br />

When the universe<br />

was so just so much space,<br />

nothing moving,<br />

not a sound to be heard,<br />

one giant vacuum<br />

awaiting a God or two<br />

to fill it like a gas tank<br />

there was a certain unease,<br />

a desperation even,<br />

in the invisible womb of being:<br />

what if I’m a speck of dust,<br />

what if I’m a fully-formed human<br />

and no one gives a damn about me.<br />

When the bigness had not yet banged,<br />

and space and time<br />

were totally ignorant of each other’s existence,<br />

and there were no molecules, no atoms,<br />

a speck-of-dust-to-be<br />

pondered the pointlessness<br />

of being at the mercy<br />

of everything from airflow<br />

to vacuum cleaners<br />

and an unlovely man<br />

asked the question long before it was age-old:<br />

why come to be<br />

when I know I won’t be enjoying it.<br />

Even in the conception phase,<br />

the backlash had already begun.<br />

Before anything happened,<br />

nothing was ever the same again.

Claire Lloyd<br />

The Return<br />

The sky looms above<br />

Thick, grey, like sour milk ready to choke me.<br />

My mother’s nourishment has become poison;<br />

There is no more ambrosia for the children of the gods.<br />

All is blocks and gold and reason;<br />

There is no bleeding heart for this wild beast.<br />

And so I graze,<br />

Slim pickings for the fruits of my labour.<br />

And the gilded cages are still prisons, gold chains still fetters<br />

And how curious they do not notice<br />

The series of small implosions<br />

Their spirit folds and recoils beneath their sterile skin.<br />

But I, I long only for the black nights and the stick man shadows<br />

In the forest beneath the wild moon<br />

Leave me naked, ugly, primal, and wanton<br />

Shedding my skin, all that I was is an empty membrane.<br />

My blood, my bones, embrace the soil;<br />

I am no butterfly expiring on fragile wings<br />

I am the Kali-Ma to their mother Teresa.

Lorraine Carey<br />

Teenager<br />

You used to fit<br />

in my elbow’s bend,<br />

the early days<br />

when I could sit<br />

and scan your features<br />

for ancestry.<br />

Hours spent watching<br />

crap repeats<br />

of daytime soaps<br />

and movies long forgotten,<br />

as your father slept<br />

and it was just you<br />

and me.<br />

I sat before the sun<br />

rose, before light<br />

woke up the house,<br />

flooded through<br />

the bungalow.<br />

Company for the ticking<br />

of Agatha’s clock,<br />

whose coiling stem<br />

stood like a question mark.<br />

Placing little<br />

arms and feet<br />

in softest cotton.<br />

The click<br />

of poppers<br />

peppers my sleep,<br />

as you potter now<br />

with insomnia<br />

in the adjacent room.<br />

Just six inches short<br />

of my crown<br />

and the silver<br />

hairs, more here

than there.<br />

Slouched in a hoodie<br />

five steps behind.<br />

My attempts to engage<br />

meet with apathy.<br />

We walk in silence<br />

each mulling the space,<br />

the time, the in between,<br />

the comfort of one another.

Kathleen Latham<br />

Sixteen<br />

My daughter is the same<br />

age I was when I met you,<br />

which is reason enough<br />

to lock her in a closet<br />

but since the only thing<br />

she does carefully is<br />

pick out her clothes,<br />

I refrain.<br />

Still, I imagine you<br />

hiding there, shouldered<br />

between her dresses in<br />

the guise of a flashy coat<br />

waiting for her to slip<br />

her arms in yours<br />

and disappear.

Natalie Crick<br />

Girl in the Cornfield<br />

He goes for days without<br />

Seeing a soul.<br />

It’s cold out,<br />

And getting dark.<br />

One of the children is a girl,<br />

Untouched as the field she stands in.<br />

Her skirt lifts mid-calf in the breeze,<br />

One hand holding out for his like<br />

A flower curling out from a stone,<br />

Turned into nothingness.<br />

The purple sky violated by orange<br />

Weeps over the creek,<br />

Shaming the white of her body with<br />

A ghostly stain.<br />

The old farm stands like<br />

A woman unwilling to give in,<br />

Cradled by the hill.<br />

She is alone<br />

On the fading road,<br />

Her exposed neck swan-like.<br />

The dried bone is so pale<br />

It blushes blue.

Leda Muscatello<br />

still<br />

if you learn to lie<br />

just the right way, shifting<br />

the adjustments little by little<br />

you can sleep deeply<br />

on the pile of bones<br />

loose and powdery beneath your body<br />

let them fill the space<br />

in the arch of your back, the bends<br />

of your knees<br />

and suspend your limbs<br />

your head<br />

with their smooth puzzle-ends settling<br />

as long as you lie properly<br />

and keep tendon and skin<br />

perfectly still

Billy Malanga<br />

Ballad of an Old Crow<br />

Old crow<br />

spit-shined feathers<br />

black-ball eye—lectures,<br />

rings the bell for his<br />

morning sortie.<br />

Wings dart open<br />

into berry wood,<br />

apple-polishing<br />

his long bill sharp<br />

and pure, the tip<br />

of a spear on<br />

gray branch.<br />

No matter<br />

bloom or break<br />

he calls to earth’s<br />

hesitant soul,<br />

does something<br />

while he still has time.<br />

Maybe I rub too much<br />

praise on his force<br />

of readiness,<br />

but, he knows<br />

the next frost rises<br />

again on sun-thaw<br />

to settle the dead.

Sarah Shirley<br />

Paleo bites<br />

Take the dates and soak them<br />

in a measured aliquot of juice,<br />

add a dandruff shower of coconut,<br />

and a bitter spoon of cocoa, not<br />

to make it chocolate but to trick<br />

the children into liking it.<br />

Blitz this tarry offering into a paste<br />

and roll into delicate balls. They taste<br />

of modern supermarkets and internet searches.<br />

I dream of real caveman treats –<br />

a paleolithic picnic on switchgrass,<br />

my son cramming red berries into his mouth,<br />

my daughter stripping a mammoth bone of meat.

Pat Edwards<br />

Suitable for vegans, vegetarians and coeliacs<br />

No lard was used in the making of this poem,<br />

neither dripping, blood, nor rendered bones.<br />

The stock runs clean and clear.<br />

Any exsanguination was unintentional,<br />

and down purely to my bleeding heart.

Monique Byro<br />

Honey Hearts<br />

Flipping flapjacks,<br />

I think about hideouts.<br />

Your fingers still trapped in my hair after hours that felt like seconds of our<br />

favorite naps,<br />

and the time you let me practice my prom makeup on you, so I would know<br />

what I was working with. You ended up looking better than I did anyway.<br />

Syrupy sweet,<br />

love like bottomless breathlessness.<br />

Adoration admonishing everything I’ve ever known.<br />

An adventure awaiting at each meeting.<br />

We would skip research to go to the beach, or the junkyard, or your backseat,<br />

and we’d research each other instead.<br />

Becoming burnt,<br />

honey is hardening.<br />

Things left unsaid, undermining, unwarranted.<br />

Silver memories keep calmness a chrysalis.<br />

And in making breakfast for you<br />

I am calling a truce, truest.<br />

Knowing that those times will never come again,<br />

inklings of the indefinite leave us fuzzy but free.<br />

Greasy and grimy,<br />

we’re on top.

James Croal Jackson<br />

Taylor Swift<br />

The sand is sung<br />

until a throat bleeds<br />

and camels walk<br />

the blank space<br />

of a desert song:<br />

animals streaking<br />

the whole long day<br />

to share an oasis<br />

with you.

D. Dallas<br />

She-Babe<br />

I’m succumbing to prosthetic Gods<br />

more and more. Fat women lay<br />

in waiting for my jewels. I eat<br />

their husbands. No remorse for<br />

being the bitch.<br />

I light candles for better stock.<br />

I touch Wall Street through tarot cards<br />

and send out smoke signals for a<br />

guardian dollar to rock me to sleep.<br />

(No more Valium!)<br />

Momma still calls me cute and I want<br />

her lap still. I smell her two thousand miles<br />

away. But I smoke cigars and trade my slick<br />

lips for gin and tonic.<br />

I can’t stand men but I want one to stay<br />

and watch me cry once in a while.

Neil Fulwood<br />

Never Buy New Shoes for a Corpse<br />

Never leave anything in a Wetherspoons<br />

that isn’t nailed down. Never exceed<br />

the maximum dosage, the recommended<br />

daily intake or the bandwidth of a warning.<br />

Never look back in anger, forward in apathy<br />

or side-to-side while shaving. Never look up<br />

for fear of diarrhetic pigeons. Never buy The Sun.<br />

Never take no for an answer except in this case.<br />

Never bet on black, double down or stake it all<br />

on the turn of a card. Never use Dostoyevsky<br />

as a “how to” manual. Never cheat or lie. Admit<br />

nothing. Never put all your bastards in one egg.<br />

Never give your real name at those kind of venues.<br />

Never give an assumed one at a signing session.<br />

Never say never unless quoting this poem.<br />

Never use social media at 3AM. Even when sober.<br />

Never take a politician’s word without a pinch of salt<br />

roughly the size of Lot’s wife. Never put an X<br />

in the box without consulting a spotter’s guide<br />

to the lesser of two evils. Never let your guard down.<br />

Never answer the door or the phone. Never answer<br />

the call of the wild unless personally certificated<br />

by Jack London. Never stare into the sun, howl<br />

at the moon or misquote Walt Whitman while stargazing.<br />

Never miss a beat, a chance or an episode of whatever.<br />

Never shoot your TV when other viewers are present.<br />

Never listen. Never leave contradictions unattended.<br />

Never doubt, never believe, never strive, never give up.

Howie Good<br />

A Short History of Office Politics<br />

I was inside with seven girls, and we were starving. We didn’t know the war<br />

had ended. A soldier came in and told us to run. His turban wasn’t on his<br />

head. His clothes were torn. I saw shreds of flesh dropping from his back. The<br />

whole city was burning. Staff had been evacuated amid rumors that a tiger<br />

was on the loose. Every six months or so you’ll see something like that, where<br />

someone has been shot in the head with an arrow, or falls off a ladder and<br />

lands on a piece of rebar. It just adds to the chaos. Frankly, I’ve been trying<br />

not to die. When I come to work in the morning, the first thing I do is recite<br />

some lines of verse. Then I weep, and then I go to my office.

Michele Stepto<br />

Homer Takes Notes<br />

He has to write it all up for HQ<br />

starting with what the pig looks like<br />

large black/pinkish<br />

and how it is housed<br />

lying on its bed in the living room area of the property<br />

Circe is watching over his shoulder<br />

and she tells him he’s not really a pig<br />

write that down he’s a therapy<br />

animal and he’s for my father<br />

who’s around here somewhere<br />

the bed in question is covered in something<br />

that looks like cowskin<br />

like in the window<br />

of some trendy furniture store<br />

in Brooklyn except for the pig<br />

and except for Circe<br />

who’s down there now<br />

with the pig the better<br />

to scratch him behind<br />

the ear which he seems to love<br />

he’s so affectionate she coos and<br />

was that a wink? just like<br />

a real human being she coos<br />

this time to the pig and<br />

Homer can feel the situation slipping away from him<br />

He’s not a human being he’s an even-toed ungulate<br />

he insists and strictly prohibited<br />

on this island quoting the statute<br />

and slapping the top<br />

of Circe’s TV for emphasis

he feels like he’s seen it all: the subway<br />

antelope the young steer running<br />

for its life goats<br />

bewildered and sheep<br />

with men riding under them<br />

never a hippopotamus it’s true<br />

and never a giraffe except in the zoo<br />

where it was permitted<br />

and everywhere he goes pigs<br />

a regular pig network<br />

(which don’t let anyone tell you is no victimless crime)<br />

and people always saying<br />

as if they were reading<br />

from the same damn script<br />

go on you'll see like a real human being<br />

but Homer has learned his lesson once<br />

or twice before<br />

and he won’t be scratching<br />

that pig behind its ear today<br />

or anywhere else<br />

*based on “Pet Pigs of New York: Illegal, Embattled, Beloved,” the New York Times, 19 January<br />


Tristan Moss<br />

What Blake Didn’t Say About Innocence<br />

Wool snagged<br />

on barbed wire<br />

where lambs tested<br />

their boundaries.

Joe Cottonwood<br />

When Eisenhower who won WW Two was President<br />

Fat boy grabs my arm.<br />

Thin boy punches my stomach which hurts, yes,<br />

but not as much as I’d expect.<br />

“What are you doing?” I say<br />

in my beginning-to-crack voice.<br />

“We’re gonna beat you up,” fat boy says.<br />

“Wait a minute,” I say and strangely, obediently,<br />

fat boy drops my arm.<br />

“Before you beat me up,” I say, “just tell my why.”<br />

“Because it’s your turn,” thin boy says.<br />

“Why?” I say.<br />

Each boy looks at the other.<br />

They don’t know why.<br />

In fifth grade, 1957, they teach Walk Don’t Run.<br />

They teach Duck and Cover and Kiss Your Ass Goodbye.<br />

No kiss. I run. They chase, heavy footsteps<br />

past the tail-fin Chryslers<br />

tied to blackface lawn butlers<br />

past the muddy football field<br />

where one day a kick will crack my testicle<br />

past the mothers in pink bathrobes<br />

whose sons died in Korea<br />

past the angry old major<br />

who will die in his bed<br />

past Julie Johnson’s house<br />

who will test that testicle.<br />

I run all the way to the grim faces of the draft board<br />

two fat, three thin<br />

who grab my arms<br />

and punch my stomach many times<br />

and it hurts, yes, until I run away<br />

far and fast and forever.

S.E. Acton<br />

Our Lad<br />

for the infamous smuggler of Beer, John Rattenbury<br />

Voices : Unwritten our names between bibles-closed,<br />

fossilised our cause in fallen family trees. Our<br />

bare-foot outlaw village dreamed, strange well be.<br />

Voice 1: Walking aback less-known paths in moonless dark,<br />

strapped up in brandy, false-torches alerting riding<br />

officers by t’other side to bide us time. Time to carry,<br />

time to tip them tubs by Mutter’s field barrow,<br />

afore time to rise and quarry narrow stone-tonned<br />

injustice for candles and our backs broke to pay the load.<br />

Voice 2: Unwritten our names between lichen-memory in that cemy.<br />

(points over East cliff),<br />

Lost to waves our barrel strains and sweat, hail good men<br />

met to carry such burden of lawless certainty, sidestepping<br />

customs with guns to defend bitter unwritten poverty.<br />

Voices: Our gang written by its own hand, there’s no halting memoirs<br />

banned once Jack’s slipped the noose, and King’s soldiers too,<br />

Be thou hale and hearty long, Our Lad.

Brett Evans<br />

Philosophies and Maladies<br />

Now, there’s a man.<br />

He knows there’s no heaven to reach up to<br />

and squeeze the fucking sac, burst its balls of purpose.<br />

So he wastes his life, in control of that alone.<br />

Doesn’t shroud himself in Jesus, accost strangers,<br />

spout the sermon on the mount;<br />

interpret texts to suit self-interest,<br />

obsessions. He dedicates himself to truancy,<br />

not philosophy, economics, politics;<br />

of the people, for the people, fuck the people.<br />

Wallowed in debauchery, he comforts his arse<br />

on a cushioned barstool.<br />

But that boy there, stood still on the bridge,<br />

excesses driven beyond volition,<br />

ghouls sprinting the ginnels<br />

of his brain; he’ll have lolloped years naked<br />

through electrocuting hail, laughing like a bonobo,<br />

then from the bridge, drop, as he does now, to slide<br />

along the railway lines, both his blues and reds.

Samuel Kendall<br />

Ethereal<br />

You’re the ghost that haunts my trembling barbican of poetry<br />

this dumfounding Tower of Babel, confusion of my mouthless tongues.<br />

Cartwheeling through the pilasters and entablatures<br />

you drifted through me, like I was never there<br />

before pausing, thinking this hollow body might make<br />

a worthy hostel for a while. Embodied me, moved with my moving<br />

and I let you in. That doesn’t happen often, I don’t like entertaining guests<br />

but then you were different, weren’t you, my constant spectre.<br />

You stood out from the Westworld robots with their mellotron responses,<br />

in sitting you abraded down my speckled cornerstone.<br />

Perhaps it’s because you’d died already, once or twice.<br />

Maybe I wanted to hole punch your ceremonial phoenix wings, file them away<br />

in the darkest damp mould junctions of my history.<br />

Sometimes the years in every ten come around again regardless<br />

of well-meant promises, maybe’s and could be’s and etcetera’s.<br />

You left my body long ago, still you stalk these brick-laid lexeme walls.<br />

I can feel your wraithlike presence in the corridor portraits,<br />

chiaroscuro eyes follow me like those in a bad horror movie, a Scooby-Doo<br />

mystery<br />

I’ve been unmasking incessantly, scouring for an identity.<br />

Flick the skin lamp’s switch and you’ll find Norman Bates and Eddie Gein,<br />

together they fandango in their mother suits, hours away from the necropolis<br />

organ harvest.<br />

One spring night beneath our antlion sand pit sheets I tried to hold you;<br />

forgetting the absent feel of your incorporeal, gossamer being I fell right<br />

through.<br />

That night you told me it isn’t the monsters hiding under our beds<br />

that we’ve ever needed to worry about. It’s the monsters that hide within it.

Philip Flynn<br />

From the Gutter to the Stars<br />

We lie in three, behind the baby bunk<br />

and away with the light,<br />

for gentle song offloaded in tin themes<br />

drafted upwards to the top-beam<br />

by project whale, project octopus,<br />

half-hand, half raised, points<br />

to her wonderous awe at the painted shapes,<br />

and challenging with syllogism, the stereoscopes,<br />

but your magic is mine, is<br />

one vista north, one west,<br />

gently clenching the underearth and<br />

eloping from the damp cheek<br />

As we pass the desiccated woods,<br />

three half-moons anoint us,<br />

the jaws of open space devour<br />

where the sun skillets the sky,<br />

and Christ’s birthday draws<br />

my placid self inward<br />

My returning, vulturous self<br />

licks clean the bones<br />

and gently repositions the mirror,<br />

together we can reminisce,<br />

a rearview squint at a dull<br />

and distant and rusted past<br />

Instead, I place you there,<br />

a smaller me of wide eyes<br />

and arms raised.<br />

I pick you up.<br />

I squeeze you tight.<br />

I kiss your eyes.

Belinda Rimmer<br />

A Map of Canada<br />

From the moment I heard Joni<br />

sing her map of Canada<br />

I longed to visit those<br />

fast flowing rivers,<br />

wide skies of Vancouver Island.<br />

I wait for the moment,<br />

making do with dreams.<br />

Meanwhile, my grown-up son<br />

sends photographs home:<br />

him in plaid shirts, peaked caps,<br />

caterpillar boots,<br />

beside those<br />

fast flowing rivers,<br />

wide skies of Vancouver Island

J.A. Sutherland<br />

Olivia’s Violin<br />

Her viola was her best friend,<br />

but the violin, her lover.<br />

Even warming-up, she’d make it crackle;<br />

arpeggios would dance and sparkle<br />

and scales sent fireworks from the bow<br />

while I would sit, redundant as an old flame<br />

or an extinguished candle.<br />

My heart would dance to hear her Czardas;<br />

The Kreuzer nearly crucified me,<br />

and the Bruch I could barely handle.<br />

A quartet I could cope with well,<br />

and quintets – Schubert’s Die Forelle.<br />

Anything with two violas was no trouble.<br />

But I couldn’t hack watching her duet,<br />

especially the ‘Bach Double’.<br />

Both violinists swooned and swooped,<br />

swapping melodies like sexual favours;<br />

a passionate embrace, a kiss, flirtatious<br />

harmonies and casual conversations.<br />

I swore she was in love with him<br />

and not seducing that belovéd violin.

Kathleen Strafford<br />

Blanche Dubois to Stella<br />

His taut muscles smell of sweat and cut grass<br />

and for no reason<br />

he slams his fist on the dining table<br />

hurling dishes against the wall<br />

as we pray cramming<br />

our lives<br />

into teacups<br />

never knowing how high to jump<br />

when he returns with grease-stained anger<br />

Have you ever ridden on that streetcar?<br />

I’ve seen how he chooses his grin while sizing up a woman<br />

calls me a wildcat lapping up his gin<br />

wants to grind me into powder<br />

sweep me under the rug<br />

He’s a brute, tom cat, a drug-store Romeo<br />

a rattle-trap streetcar banging up one and down another<br />

Oh you’re hating me saying this aren’t you?<br />

Thousands of years have passed him by<br />

maybe he’ll strike you, kiss you, or grunt<br />

don’t expect me to understand<br />

his poker night of apes<br />

his bowling ball bullies<br />

Have you forgotten poetry, music, jasmine perfume?<br />

For your sake I’ve decided to soak him up<br />

drain his cocky one-eyed jack<br />

foreclose on his manhood<br />

inside the Belle Reve of my skin<br />

Now he’s humping twitching<br />

like the rutting beast that he is<br />

I want to keep him trapped<br />

‘til you come to your senses

But you slink back to him like a floozy<br />

as he wails your name<br />

dripping wet in his ripped t-shirt<br />

falls to his knees, smothers his face in your breasts<br />

caresses your ass as you slide<br />

over his shoulder<br />

I don’t tell truths, I tell what ought to be truths<br />

I tell you this: things that happen in the dark don’t make<br />

everything else unimportant

Catriona Yule<br />

Fine<br />

When I listen, it’s not words I hear.<br />

It’s the gaps between,<br />

hands twisting themselves,<br />

eyes flat.<br />

Over clattering plates<br />

and scraped chairs<br />

you say I’m fine, I’m fine,<br />

but your stained blazer<br />

and yellowed moustache<br />

are as loud as the scribbled notes<br />

on the backs of your hands.<br />

You shift in your seat.<br />

Stir your coffee.<br />

I’m fine, I’m fine you say.

Patricia Walsh<br />

Conduct Forthcoming<br />

Automated messaging a fault to conceive<br />

Exceptions to the rule fit in nicely.<br />

Cleaning of worktops, mission accomplished<br />

Defunct advertisements litter the table.<br />

Turning on the heating at this time of year<br />

Comfort over local law, a wasteful legacy<br />

Tutted for future reference, cards being marked<br />

Singular gratification to one true goal.<br />

Circling overhead, not quite fit for this issue<br />

Locked in a dream world, time permitting<br />

Culling snippets from conversations inaudible<br />

Borrowed food a necessary target.<br />

Where one has gone before, do we revisit?<br />

Tripping over wheelie bins in the dark morning<br />

Hanging clothes out, praying the rain stalls<br />

Sleeping under cover of the din next door.<br />

Aiding and abetting known criminals in one’s mind<br />

Normalising pain sunk in lower chambers<br />

Self-harm without the razors, blessed with sorrow<br />

Hitting on dead statues without permission.<br />

Borrowed truth sneaks in at the right moment<br />

Canvassing for recognition in a lesser woman<br />

Switching off utilities where provided<br />

Run-on bitchiness staring into grace.

Nick Romeo<br />

Zeit Heist<br />

Here’s a fact you never knew:<br />

Icarus did not die. He swam to shore,<br />

and continued his passion for life.<br />

First he plunged into weapons training.<br />

Then fought alongside Alaric I,<br />

Ptolemy Lagides, and Scipio Africanus.<br />

He took a hiatus from warfare,<br />

to ghost write for Shakespeare.<br />

But became unsettled and entered War War I,<br />

as a gunner for an Armstrong Whitworth FK.8.<br />

After the treaty he moved to the United States,<br />

and worked for George Remus as a bootlegger<br />

Decades later he was drafted into the Vietnam War,<br />

accruing the most confirmed kills in the Mekong Delta<br />

Once discharged with honors he wrote a book called<br />

Hope in a Scope and formed a biker gang in Lancaster,<br />

named Demigods on Hogs. They disbanded due to FBI<br />

infiltration and getting beaten-up by their old ladies.<br />

Icarus learned guitar and formed a freedom rock band.<br />

They played Woodstock and toured the world.<br />

From there there’s a gap in the timeline.<br />

Some say he suffered a bad acid trip,<br />

and lived in Guam for several decades.<br />

Others say he became a CIA operative.

But Icarus was sighted the other week,<br />

above Damascus, Palmyra, and then Raqqa.<br />

He was shot down,<br />

landing somewhere in the city.

J.P. Bohannon<br />

Octopus Love<br />

When you didn’t show at the aquarium today<br />

the octopods changed to a violent blue<br />

And hid themselves in distant nooks<br />

Of brown coral, weeds and pitted rock.<br />

Transcending the daily rut today<br />

Is less buoyant and certainly less sure<br />

And all eight arms hang heavy now<br />

Flailing sad and sore.

Hannah Stone<br />

Tapir<br />

Tapir is found in wildlife parks where he embarrasses himself with wild<br />

profusions of embraces. He holds no truck with litter-louts, and, when aroused,<br />

intrigues his potential mate with his prowess. Tapir is not long-suffering. Fools<br />

bother him and he vents his venom on PPI telephone salesmen and abusers<br />

of the apostrophe. He is found in proximity to piety, and should be approached<br />

with caution and pitchforks in equal measure.

For writer biographies / web links, please see the<br />

‘Contributors’ page on our website.<br />

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