Picaroon Poetry - Issue #10 - September 2017

picaroonpoetry

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!

Issue #10

September 2017

Edited by Kate Garrett

All poems copyright © 2017 individual authors

Selection/issue copyright © 2017 Kate Garrett / Picaroon Poetry


This Month’s Rogue Poems ● September 2017

Impatience // Stephen Daniels

Before Embracing Sleep // Stella Bahin

Origins // John Grey

The Return // Claire Lloyd

Teenager // Lorraine Carey

Sixteen // Kathleen Latham

Girl in the Cornfield // Natalie Crick

still // Leda Muscatello

Ballad of an Old Crow // Billy Malanga

Paleo bites // Sarah Shirley

Suitable for vegans, vegetarians and coeliacs // Pat Edwards

Honey Hearts // Monique Byro

Taylor Swift // James Croal Jackson

She-Babe // D. Dallas

Never Buy New Shoes for a Corpse // Neil Fulwood

A Short History of Office Politics // Howie Good

Homer Takes Notes // Michele Stepto

What Blake Didn’t Say About Innocence // Tristan Moss

When Eisenhower who won WW Two was President // Joe Cottonwood

Our Lad // S.E. Acton


Philosophies and Maladies // Brett Evans

Ethereal // Samuel Kendall

From the Gutter to the Stars // Philip Flynn

A Map of Canada // Belinda Rimmer

Olivia’s Violin // J.A. Sutherland

Blanche Dubois to Stella // Kathleen Strafford

Fine // Catriona Yule

Conduct Forthcoming // Patricia Walsh

Zeit Heist // Nick Romeo

Octopus Love // J.P. Bohannon

Tapir // Hannah Stone


Stephen Daniels

Impatience

He hurried through the supermarket,

searching for time.

A worried glance at fresh fruit left no hints.

The assistant had forgotten

where time was kept.

‘Can anyone who knows

where time can be found, come forward?’

After a moment, nothing.

The Deli counter was not serving slices of time –

people had stopped asking for it.

Now they sold pieces only in joints.

He rushed the meat counter

and there it was, in all its raw savagery.

A slab of time – ready to consume.

When at home, he googled

how to prepare time.

One website said to smear it

with sage and cook slow, and long.

Another said sprinkle with pepper,

turn up the heat – bake it quick.

He decided to do neither.

Instead, sat next to his uncooked carcass

of time and considered it.

This was the first instance he had spent

any meaningful session with time.


He savoured it, then he ate it all, raw.

He chewed its gristle,

until it passed.


Stella Bahin

Before Embracing Sleep

My mobile phone reads 3:08. I like the shape

this number makes, the hat piratical, the nose

a clown’s, the smile lemniscate. Still. I exit

my house. I have to walk until I feel my muscles

ache, before embracing sleep. A silent

big brown city fox twigs my toddy feet,

crouches in wait at my corner ravenous belly hot

upon the gritty street, doubled at once into a team

by another, standing: 4 no-tech fox eyes fixed on me.

Mutinous. I turn home quick, not as a wildebeest

picked from its herd by lions, filmed by the BBC,

but as 1 license-paying owner of a civilised TV

(making vulpine jaws of my fists with my keys), get

back behind my front door too soon to have ached

my muscles, in time to have ached my meat.


John Grey

Origins

When the universe

was so just so much space,

nothing moving,

not a sound to be heard,

one giant vacuum

awaiting a God or two

to fill it like a gas tank

there was a certain unease,

a desperation even,

in the invisible womb of being:

what if I’m a speck of dust,

what if I’m a fully-formed human

and no one gives a damn about me.

When the bigness had not yet banged,

and space and time

were totally ignorant of each other’s existence,

and there were no molecules, no atoms,

a speck-of-dust-to-be

pondered the pointlessness

of being at the mercy

of everything from airflow

to vacuum cleaners

and an unlovely man

asked the question long before it was age-old:

why come to be

when I know I won’t be enjoying it.

Even in the conception phase,

the backlash had already begun.

Before anything happened,

nothing was ever the same again.


Claire Lloyd

The Return

The sky looms above

Thick, grey, like sour milk ready to choke me.

My mother’s nourishment has become poison;

There is no more ambrosia for the children of the gods.

All is blocks and gold and reason;

There is no bleeding heart for this wild beast.

And so I graze,

Slim pickings for the fruits of my labour.

And the gilded cages are still prisons, gold chains still fetters

And how curious they do not notice

The series of small implosions

Their spirit folds and recoils beneath their sterile skin.

But I, I long only for the black nights and the stick man shadows

In the forest beneath the wild moon

Leave me naked, ugly, primal, and wanton

Shedding my skin, all that I was is an empty membrane.

My blood, my bones, embrace the soil;

I am no butterfly expiring on fragile wings

I am the Kali-Ma to their mother Teresa.


Lorraine Carey

Teenager

You used to fit

in my elbow’s bend,

the early days

when I could sit

and scan your features

for ancestry.

Hours spent watching

crap repeats

of daytime soaps

and movies long forgotten,

as your father slept

and it was just you

and me.

I sat before the sun

rose, before light

woke up the house,

flooded through

the bungalow.

Company for the ticking

of Agatha’s clock,

whose coiling stem

stood like a question mark.

Placing little

arms and feet

in softest cotton.

The click

of poppers

peppers my sleep,

as you potter now

with insomnia

in the adjacent room.

Just six inches short

of my crown

and the silver

hairs, more here


than there.

Slouched in a hoodie

five steps behind.

My attempts to engage

meet with apathy.

We walk in silence

each mulling the space,

the time, the in between,

the comfort of one another.


Kathleen Latham

Sixteen

My daughter is the same

age I was when I met you,

which is reason enough

to lock her in a closet

but since the only thing

she does carefully is

pick out her clothes,

I refrain.

Still, I imagine you

hiding there, shouldered

between her dresses in

the guise of a flashy coat

waiting for her to slip

her arms in yours

and disappear.


Natalie Crick

Girl in the Cornfield

He goes for days without

Seeing a soul.

It’s cold out,

And getting dark.

One of the children is a girl,

Untouched as the field she stands in.

Her skirt lifts mid-calf in the breeze,

One hand holding out for his like

A flower curling out from a stone,

Turned into nothingness.

The purple sky violated by orange

Weeps over the creek,

Shaming the white of her body with

A ghostly stain.

The old farm stands like

A woman unwilling to give in,

Cradled by the hill.

She is alone

On the fading road,

Her exposed neck swan-like.

The dried bone is so pale

It blushes blue.


Leda Muscatello

still

if you learn to lie

just the right way, shifting

the adjustments little by little

you can sleep deeply

on the pile of bones

loose and powdery beneath your body

let them fill the space

in the arch of your back, the bends

of your knees

and suspend your limbs

your head

with their smooth puzzle-ends settling

as long as you lie properly

and keep tendon and skin

perfectly still


Billy Malanga

Ballad of an Old Crow

Old crow

spit-shined feathers

black-ball eye—lectures,

rings the bell for his

morning sortie.

Wings dart open

into berry wood,

apple-polishing

his long bill sharp

and pure, the tip

of a spear on

gray branch.

No matter

bloom or break

he calls to earth’s

hesitant soul,

does something

while he still has time.

Maybe I rub too much

praise on his force

of readiness,

but, he knows

the next frost rises

again on sun-thaw

to settle the dead.


Sarah Shirley

Paleo bites

Take the dates and soak them

in a measured aliquot of juice,

add a dandruff shower of coconut,

and a bitter spoon of cocoa, not

to make it chocolate but to trick

the children into liking it.

Blitz this tarry offering into a paste

and roll into delicate balls. They taste

of modern supermarkets and internet searches.

I dream of real caveman treats –

a paleolithic picnic on switchgrass,

my son cramming red berries into his mouth,

my daughter stripping a mammoth bone of meat.


Pat Edwards

Suitable for vegans, vegetarians and coeliacs

No lard was used in the making of this poem,

neither dripping, blood, nor rendered bones.

The stock runs clean and clear.

Any exsanguination was unintentional,

and down purely to my bleeding heart.


Monique Byro

Honey Hearts

Flipping flapjacks,

I think about hideouts.

Your fingers still trapped in my hair after hours that felt like seconds of our

favorite naps,

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

what I was working with. You ended up looking better than I did anyway.

Syrupy sweet,

love like bottomless breathlessness.

Adoration admonishing everything I’ve ever known.

An adventure awaiting at each meeting.

We would skip research to go to the beach, or the junkyard, or your backseat,

and we’d research each other instead.

Becoming burnt,

honey is hardening.

Things left unsaid, undermining, unwarranted.

Silver memories keep calmness a chrysalis.

And in making breakfast for you

I am calling a truce, truest.

Knowing that those times will never come again,

inklings of the indefinite leave us fuzzy but free.

Greasy and grimy,

we’re on top.


James Croal Jackson

Taylor Swift

The sand is sung

until a throat bleeds

and camels walk

the blank space

of a desert song:

animals streaking

the whole long day

to share an oasis

with you.


D. Dallas

She-Babe

I’m succumbing to prosthetic Gods

more and more. Fat women lay

in waiting for my jewels. I eat

their husbands. No remorse for

being the bitch.

I light candles for better stock.

I touch Wall Street through tarot cards

and send out smoke signals for a

guardian dollar to rock me to sleep.

(No more Valium!)

Momma still calls me cute and I want

her lap still. I smell her two thousand miles

away. But I smoke cigars and trade my slick

lips for gin and tonic.

I can’t stand men but I want one to stay

and watch me cry once in a while.


Neil Fulwood

Never Buy New Shoes for a Corpse

Never leave anything in a Wetherspoons

that isn’t nailed down. Never exceed

the maximum dosage, the recommended

daily intake or the bandwidth of a warning.

Never look back in anger, forward in apathy

or side-to-side while shaving. Never look up

for fear of diarrhetic pigeons. Never buy The Sun.

Never take no for an answer except in this case.

Never bet on black, double down or stake it all

on the turn of a card. Never use Dostoyevsky

as a “how to” manual. Never cheat or lie. Admit

nothing. Never put all your bastards in one egg.

Never give your real name at those kind of venues.

Never give an assumed one at a signing session.

Never say never unless quoting this poem.

Never use social media at 3AM. Even when sober.

Never take a politician’s word without a pinch of salt

roughly the size of Lot’s wife. Never put an X

in the box without consulting a spotter’s guide

to the lesser of two evils. Never let your guard down.

Never answer the door or the phone. Never answer

the call of the wild unless personally certificated

by Jack London. Never stare into the sun, howl

at the moon or misquote Walt Whitman while stargazing.

Never miss a beat, a chance or an episode of whatever.

Never shoot your TV when other viewers are present.

Never listen. Never leave contradictions unattended.

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


Howie Good

A Short History of Office Politics

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

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

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

whole city was burning. Staff had been evacuated amid rumors that a tiger

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

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

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

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

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


Michele Stepto

Homer Takes Notes

He has to write it all up for HQ

starting with what the pig looks like

large black/pinkish

and how it is housed

lying on its bed in the living room area of the property

Circe is watching over his shoulder

and she tells him he’s not really a pig

write that down he’s a therapy

animal and he’s for my father

who’s around here somewhere

the bed in question is covered in something

that looks like cowskin

like in the window

of some trendy furniture store

in Brooklyn except for the pig

and except for Circe

who’s down there now

with the pig the better

to scratch him behind

the ear which he seems to love

he’s so affectionate she coos and

was that a wink? just like

a real human being she coos

this time to the pig and

Homer can feel the situation slipping away from him

He’s not a human being he’s an even-toed ungulate

he insists and strictly prohibited

on this island quoting the statute

and slapping the top

of Circe’s TV for emphasis


he feels like he’s seen it all: the subway

antelope the young steer running

for its life goats

bewildered and sheep

with men riding under them

never a hippopotamus it’s true

and never a giraffe except in the zoo

where it was permitted

and everywhere he goes pigs

a regular pig network

(which don’t let anyone tell you is no victimless crime)

and people always saying

as if they were reading

from the same damn script

go on you'll see like a real human being

but Homer has learned his lesson once

or twice before

and he won’t be scratching

that pig behind its ear today

or anywhere else

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

2017


Tristan Moss

What Blake Didn’t Say About Innocence

Wool snagged

on barbed wire

where lambs tested

their boundaries.


Joe Cottonwood

When Eisenhower who won WW Two was President

Fat boy grabs my arm.

Thin boy punches my stomach which hurts, yes,

but not as much as I’d expect.

“What are you doing?” I say

in my beginning-to-crack voice.

“We’re gonna beat you up,” fat boy says.

“Wait a minute,” I say and strangely, obediently,

fat boy drops my arm.

“Before you beat me up,” I say, “just tell my why.”

“Because it’s your turn,” thin boy says.

“Why?” I say.

Each boy looks at the other.

They don’t know why.

In fifth grade, 1957, they teach Walk Don’t Run.

They teach Duck and Cover and Kiss Your Ass Goodbye.

No kiss. I run. They chase, heavy footsteps

past the tail-fin Chryslers

tied to blackface lawn butlers

past the muddy football field

where one day a kick will crack my testicle

past the mothers in pink bathrobes

whose sons died in Korea

past the angry old major

who will die in his bed

past Julie Johnson’s house

who will test that testicle.

I run all the way to the grim faces of the draft board

two fat, three thin

who grab my arms

and punch my stomach many times

and it hurts, yes, until I run away

far and fast and forever.


S.E. Acton

Our Lad

for the infamous smuggler of Beer, John Rattenbury

Voices : Unwritten our names between bibles-closed,

fossilised our cause in fallen family trees. Our

bare-foot outlaw village dreamed, strange well be.

Voice 1: Walking aback less-known paths in moonless dark,

strapped up in brandy, false-torches alerting riding

officers by t’other side to bide us time. Time to carry,

time to tip them tubs by Mutter’s field barrow,

afore time to rise and quarry narrow stone-tonned

injustice for candles and our backs broke to pay the load.

Voice 2: Unwritten our names between lichen-memory in that cemy.

(points over East cliff),

Lost to waves our barrel strains and sweat, hail good men

met to carry such burden of lawless certainty, sidestepping

customs with guns to defend bitter unwritten poverty.

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

banned once Jack’s slipped the noose, and King’s soldiers too,

Be thou hale and hearty long, Our Lad.


Brett Evans

Philosophies and Maladies

Now, there’s a man.

He knows there’s no heaven to reach up to

and squeeze the fucking sac, burst its balls of purpose.

So he wastes his life, in control of that alone.

Doesn’t shroud himself in Jesus, accost strangers,

spout the sermon on the mount;

interpret texts to suit self-interest,

obsessions. He dedicates himself to truancy,

not philosophy, economics, politics;

of the people, for the people, fuck the people.

Wallowed in debauchery, he comforts his arse

on a cushioned barstool.

But that boy there, stood still on the bridge,

excesses driven beyond volition,

ghouls sprinting the ginnels

of his brain; he’ll have lolloped years naked

through electrocuting hail, laughing like a bonobo,

then from the bridge, drop, as he does now, to slide

along the railway lines, both his blues and reds.


Samuel Kendall

Ethereal

You’re the ghost that haunts my trembling barbican of poetry

this dumfounding Tower of Babel, confusion of my mouthless tongues.

Cartwheeling through the pilasters and entablatures

you drifted through me, like I was never there

before pausing, thinking this hollow body might make

a worthy hostel for a while. Embodied me, moved with my moving

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

but then you were different, weren’t you, my constant spectre.

You stood out from the Westworld robots with their mellotron responses,

in sitting you abraded down my speckled cornerstone.

Perhaps it’s because you’d died already, once or twice.

Maybe I wanted to hole punch your ceremonial phoenix wings, file them away

in the darkest damp mould junctions of my history.

Sometimes the years in every ten come around again regardless

of well-meant promises, maybe’s and could be’s and etcetera’s.

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

I can feel your wraithlike presence in the corridor portraits,

chiaroscuro eyes follow me like those in a bad horror movie, a Scooby-Doo

mystery

I’ve been unmasking incessantly, scouring for an identity.

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

together they fandango in their mother suits, hours away from the necropolis

organ harvest.

One spring night beneath our antlion sand pit sheets I tried to hold you;

forgetting the absent feel of your incorporeal, gossamer being I fell right

through.

That night you told me it isn’t the monsters hiding under our beds

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


Philip Flynn

From the Gutter to the Stars

We lie in three, behind the baby bunk

and away with the light,

for gentle song offloaded in tin themes

drafted upwards to the top-beam

by project whale, project octopus,

half-hand, half raised, points

to her wonderous awe at the painted shapes,

and challenging with syllogism, the stereoscopes,

but your magic is mine, is

one vista north, one west,

gently clenching the underearth and

eloping from the damp cheek

As we pass the desiccated woods,

three half-moons anoint us,

the jaws of open space devour

where the sun skillets the sky,

and Christ’s birthday draws

my placid self inward

My returning, vulturous self

licks clean the bones

and gently repositions the mirror,

together we can reminisce,

a rearview squint at a dull

and distant and rusted past

Instead, I place you there,

a smaller me of wide eyes

and arms raised.

I pick you up.

I squeeze you tight.

I kiss your eyes.


Belinda Rimmer

A Map of Canada

From the moment I heard Joni

sing her map of Canada

I longed to visit those

fast flowing rivers,

wide skies of Vancouver Island.

I wait for the moment,

making do with dreams.

Meanwhile, my grown-up son

sends photographs home:

him in plaid shirts, peaked caps,

caterpillar boots,

beside those

fast flowing rivers,

wide skies of Vancouver Island


J.A. Sutherland

Olivia’s Violin

Her viola was her best friend,

but the violin, her lover.

Even warming-up, she’d make it crackle;

arpeggios would dance and sparkle

and scales sent fireworks from the bow

while I would sit, redundant as an old flame

or an extinguished candle.

My heart would dance to hear her Czardas;

The Kreuzer nearly crucified me,

and the Bruch I could barely handle.

A quartet I could cope with well,

and quintets – Schubert’s Die Forelle.

Anything with two violas was no trouble.

But I couldn’t hack watching her duet,

especially the ‘Bach Double’.

Both violinists swooned and swooped,

swapping melodies like sexual favours;

a passionate embrace, a kiss, flirtatious

harmonies and casual conversations.

I swore she was in love with him

and not seducing that belovéd violin.


Kathleen Strafford

Blanche Dubois to Stella

His taut muscles smell of sweat and cut grass

and for no reason

he slams his fist on the dining table

hurling dishes against the wall

as we pray cramming

our lives

into teacups

never knowing how high to jump

when he returns with grease-stained anger

Have you ever ridden on that streetcar?

I’ve seen how he chooses his grin while sizing up a woman

calls me a wildcat lapping up his gin

wants to grind me into powder

sweep me under the rug

He’s a brute, tom cat, a drug-store Romeo

a rattle-trap streetcar banging up one and down another

Oh you’re hating me saying this aren’t you?

Thousands of years have passed him by

maybe he’ll strike you, kiss you, or grunt

don’t expect me to understand

his poker night of apes

his bowling ball bullies

Have you forgotten poetry, music, jasmine perfume?

For your sake I’ve decided to soak him up

drain his cocky one-eyed jack

foreclose on his manhood

inside the Belle Reve of my skin

Now he’s humping twitching

like the rutting beast that he is

I want to keep him trapped

‘til you come to your senses


But you slink back to him like a floozy

as he wails your name

dripping wet in his ripped t-shirt

falls to his knees, smothers his face in your breasts

caresses your ass as you slide

over his shoulder

I don’t tell truths, I tell what ought to be truths

I tell you this: things that happen in the dark don’t make

everything else unimportant


Catriona Yule

Fine

When I listen, it’s not words I hear.

It’s the gaps between,

hands twisting themselves,

eyes flat.

Over clattering plates

and scraped chairs

you say I’m fine, I’m fine,

but your stained blazer

and yellowed moustache

are as loud as the scribbled notes

on the backs of your hands.

You shift in your seat.

Stir your coffee.

I’m fine, I’m fine you say.


Patricia Walsh

Conduct Forthcoming

Automated messaging a fault to conceive

Exceptions to the rule fit in nicely.

Cleaning of worktops, mission accomplished

Defunct advertisements litter the table.

Turning on the heating at this time of year

Comfort over local law, a wasteful legacy

Tutted for future reference, cards being marked

Singular gratification to one true goal.

Circling overhead, not quite fit for this issue

Locked in a dream world, time permitting

Culling snippets from conversations inaudible

Borrowed food a necessary target.

Where one has gone before, do we revisit?

Tripping over wheelie bins in the dark morning

Hanging clothes out, praying the rain stalls

Sleeping under cover of the din next door.

Aiding and abetting known criminals in one’s mind

Normalising pain sunk in lower chambers

Self-harm without the razors, blessed with sorrow

Hitting on dead statues without permission.

Borrowed truth sneaks in at the right moment

Canvassing for recognition in a lesser woman

Switching off utilities where provided

Run-on bitchiness staring into grace.


Nick Romeo

Zeit Heist

Here’s a fact you never knew:

Icarus did not die. He swam to shore,

and continued his passion for life.

First he plunged into weapons training.

Then fought alongside Alaric I,

Ptolemy Lagides, and Scipio Africanus.

He took a hiatus from warfare,

to ghost write for Shakespeare.

But became unsettled and entered War War I,

as a gunner for an Armstrong Whitworth FK.8.

After the treaty he moved to the United States,

and worked for George Remus as a bootlegger

Decades later he was drafted into the Vietnam War,

accruing the most confirmed kills in the Mekong Delta

Once discharged with honors he wrote a book called

Hope in a Scope and formed a biker gang in Lancaster,

named Demigods on Hogs. They disbanded due to FBI

infiltration and getting beaten-up by their old ladies.

Icarus learned guitar and formed a freedom rock band.

They played Woodstock and toured the world.

From there there’s a gap in the timeline.

Some say he suffered a bad acid trip,

and lived in Guam for several decades.

Others say he became a CIA operative.


But Icarus was sighted the other week,

above Damascus, Palmyra, and then Raqqa.

He was shot down,

landing somewhere in the city.


J.P. Bohannon

Octopus Love

When you didn’t show at the aquarium today

the octopods changed to a violent blue

And hid themselves in distant nooks

Of brown coral, weeds and pitted rock.

Transcending the daily rut today

Is less buoyant and certainly less sure

And all eight arms hang heavy now

Flailing sad and sore.


Hannah Stone

Tapir

Tapir is found in wildlife parks where he embarrasses himself with wild

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

intrigues his potential mate with his prowess. Tapir is not long-suffering. Fools

bother him and he vents his venom on PPI telephone salesmen and abusers

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

with caution and pitchforks in equal measure.


For writer biographies / web links, please see the

‘Contributors’ page on our website.

Thank you for reading!

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