Picaroon Poetry - Issue #12 - May 2018

The return of Picaroon Poetry! After nearly six months away while Kate had a baby, we are back. Features 32 brand new poems by Rachel Burns, Marissa Glover, Charley Barnes, Maggie Sawkins, Kitty Coles, Lennart Lundh, Heidi Slettedahl, Simon Perchik, Adrian Slonaker, Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon, Bob MacKenzie, Jack Little, Neil Fulwood, Carl Boon, Sophie Petrie, Tobi Alfier, Bethany W Pope, Brett Stout, Thomas Tyrrell, Jonathan Humble, Scott Redmond, Abigail Elizabeth Ottley, Irene Cunningham, Jenny McRobert, J.S. Watts, Sunita Thind, Michelle Diaz, Bethany Rivers, Stephen Seabridge, Martin Zarrop, Ian Grosz, and Michael McGill.

The return of Picaroon Poetry! After nearly six months away while Kate had a baby, we are back.

Features 32 brand new poems by Rachel Burns, Marissa Glover, Charley Barnes, Maggie Sawkins, Kitty Coles, Lennart Lundh, Heidi Slettedahl, Simon Perchik, Adrian Slonaker, Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon, Bob MacKenzie, Jack Little, Neil Fulwood, Carl Boon, Sophie Petrie, Tobi Alfier, Bethany W Pope, Brett Stout, Thomas Tyrrell, Jonathan Humble, Scott Redmond, Abigail Elizabeth Ottley, Irene Cunningham, Jenny McRobert, J.S. Watts, Sunita Thind, Michelle Diaz, Bethany Rivers, Stephen Seabridge, Martin Zarrop, Ian Grosz, and Michael McGill.


You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.

<strong>Issue</strong> <strong>#12</strong><br />

<strong>May</strong> <strong>2018</strong><br />

Edited by Kate Garrett<br />

All poems copyright © <strong>2018</strong> individual authors<br />

Selection/issue copyright © <strong>2018</strong> Kate Garrett / <strong>Picaroon</strong> <strong>Poetry</strong>

Hello to you, our much-missed rebellious rapscallions.<br />

Yes, I had a lovely maternity leave, thank you for asking.<br />

However, in true rogue fashion, baby Bonnie gave us all a scare within her first<br />

24 hours of life, but she wasn’t about to give up without a fight – in case you<br />

haven’t heard, she has a congenital heart defect, and spent the first week of<br />

her life in hospital. But long story short, the doctors and nurses gave her the<br />

best care possible, and she’s doing very well now!<br />

After all the recent excitement of the mum-of-five life, it’s good to be back even<br />

part-time to the (comparatively) soothing editor life. Thanks to the writers who<br />

didn’t hesitate to send their poems by the hundreds when I returned to the<br />

inbox – here are 32 of those pieces for your reading pleasure.<br />

Oh also: just a quick reminder we have cut back on issues for <strong>2018</strong>, so the<br />

next one (lucky #13) will be in September. After that it’s January 2019, and<br />

back to our regular bi-monthly schedule.<br />

Anyway. On with the poetry.<br />

With lots of literary pirate love,<br />


This Month’s Rogue Poems ● <strong>May</strong> <strong>2018</strong><br />

Nocturne // Rachel Burns 7<br />

The Problem with Us // Marissa Glover 8<br />

Making a Mermaid // Charley Barnes 9<br />

In Good Time // Maggie Sawkins 10<br />

Witch Bottle // Kitty Coles 11<br />

Yellow Girl // Lennart Lundh 12<br />

My Children // Heidi Slettedahl 13<br />

‘By the handful, in tenderness…’ // Simon Perchik 14<br />

Pickle Candy // Adrian Slonaker 15<br />

The Railway Bank // Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon 16<br />

garden party // Bob MacKenzie 17<br />

Rainy Day // Jack Little 18<br />

City // Neil Fulwood 19<br />

Love in Lacroix // Carl Boon 21<br />

A Gap In The Curtains // Sophie Petrie 22<br />

Bourbon and Barbecue, or Coal // Tobi Alfier 23<br />

Florida Man // Bethany W Pope 24<br />

Sometimes a Saint, Mostly a Sinner // Brett Stout 26<br />

The Pirate’s Apology // Thomas Tyrrell 29<br />

Aberration // Jonathan Humble 30

Citrus Advertising Board // Scott Redmond 31<br />

For Zsa Zsa with Love // Abigail Elizabeth Ottley 33<br />

Dancing with Narcissists // Irene Cunningham 34<br />

Touched // Jenny McRobert 35<br />

A Float of Ravens // J.S. Watts 37<br />

Coconut Girl // Sunita Thind 38<br />

Do Not Go to Kilburn // Michelle Diaz 40<br />

No flight plan // Bethany Rivers 41<br />

What Gets Me // Stephen Seabridge 42<br />

Monsal Head Viaduct // Martin Zarrop 43<br />

Different Directions going the same way // Ian Grosz 44<br />

Commuting // Michael McGill 45

Rachel Burns<br />

Nocturne<br />

Paper burns, flames curl the edges, blackened crisp.<br />

This is where we live, in-between the pages<br />

of the night, space and time<br />

life and death.<br />


Marissa Glover<br />

The Problem with Us<br />

You slink your way to me like a cat<br />

proud of its catch, dead mouse<br />

dangling from its bloodied jaws.<br />

You drop the poem on my desk (so pleased<br />

you could purr) folding sharp paws<br />

across your chest, waiting<br />

for me to read what you’ve written<br />

and reward you with a good petting.<br />

The geography stretched before me<br />

summons eras and armadas—a new Age<br />

of Discovery—soft slopes but more<br />

with every vista. The greed of the Explorer surges,<br />

fueling the next wave of settlement, the need<br />

to see what lies over each new horizon,<br />

everywhere to plant kisses like flags<br />

of conquistadores, to say,<br />

This, too, is mine.<br />

History knows<br />

the conquistador is defeated<br />

in the end. Explorers are expedient.<br />

Their land will be taken, flags trampled<br />

by boots carrying other colors.<br />

Don’t believe the movies,<br />

the happy ending with love that lasts.<br />

In this story, as in every story, kisses<br />

are replaced by blood.<br />

Everyone loses, everything<br />

dies.<br />


Charley Barnes<br />

Making a Mermaid<br />

I warned them they’d misplaced the words together:<br />

Girl, Virgin, Challenge.<br />

But they told me that was the fairy tale,<br />

so I wrote my own.<br />

I pressed my thighs together tight until I became<br />

a mythical being, luring men to their torment.<br />

Sea-bound, I splashed sour brine over them<br />

and their synthetic I love yous.<br />

Their sentiments weren’t wearable. Pebbles<br />

of emotion weighed, I had to discard them.<br />

I wanted something of worth; life had long<br />

taught me that feelings were not.<br />

They’ll tell their friends, the newspapers,<br />

anyone who will listen, of their intimate mishap<br />

with a cold-hearted creature.<br />

But when they look for me,<br />

send search parties with my scent attached,<br />

they will run their fingers through empty waters,<br />

wander along abandoned shores.<br />

I won’t be there; women like me never are.<br />


Maggie Sawkins<br />

In Good Time<br />

You will pack your suitcase with the few things that haven’t been<br />

buried or burnt. You’ll put on your overcoat and lock the door. You’ve spent so<br />

many days rehearsing, you think at times you may already have gone. Yet you<br />

know you must still be here for each morning you see a face in the fisheye<br />

mirror which looks remarkably like your own. Your funeral outfit still hangs<br />

unworn in the wardrobe, and the suede boots, that didn’t have holes in the<br />

soles this time last year, are riddled. Just yesterday you noticed fresh coffee<br />

rings on the nest of tables, next to a suit of Tarot, a plate of crumbs.<br />

Gather up your collection of wishbones saving the starling’s for the<br />

benighted one who left before you in a storm. You’ll be in good time.<br />


Kitty Coles<br />

Witch Bottle<br />

You’ve left something, I think, behind you here.<br />

I sometimes hear you padding through the house<br />

and feel your breath warming my sleeping face,<br />

your fingers in my hair, raking my skull.<br />

You weaken me. I’m thin again, grey-fleshed.<br />

I keep myself awake in case you come<br />

and, when I fail, I dream the earth cracks open<br />

and buried bones reach out and make me stumble.<br />

I seek a cure. I gather rosemary<br />

on moonless nights and scrutinise the carpets<br />

for rinds of nail, coarse threads of your dark hair,<br />

and marinate my findings in red wine<br />

and add bright needles, shining pins, which were<br />

once words you spoke, which pierced me through and changed,<br />

due to your hexes, into steely objects,<br />

which then fell from my lips if I let them part.<br />

I heat the mixture slowly in a pan,<br />

simmer and simmer till it’s blackberry-dark,<br />

the same shade as the blood dried at my throat<br />

after you broke the flesh with broken glass.<br />

I bottle what I’ve stewed. I bury it.<br />

I say the words that come to me aloud.<br />

They mean the opposite of my intention.<br />

I speak the words you whisper through my mouth.<br />


Lennart Lundh<br />

Yellow Girl<br />

Just when I learn to count<br />

to seven, there are<br />

only six puppies left.<br />

When our daughters grew up,<br />

moved out, it was<br />

just down the street,<br />

across town, over to the<br />

next county: so close<br />

I can still count them<br />

against my fingers’ tips.<br />

On what part do you<br />

count the dead? Ah,<br />

I know: The heart line.<br />

Thank God, there’s room enough.<br />


Heidi Slettedahl<br />

My Children<br />

I never got to teach my children anything.<br />

A mass of cells that multiplied<br />

And then did not<br />

No long division<br />

No make believe<br />

Except those two weeks, waiting.<br />

Each time was harder<br />

And every time I knew.<br />


Simon Perchik<br />

*<br />

By the handful, in tenderness<br />

yet your shadow erupts<br />

and by nightfall holds on<br />

one shoulder then the other<br />

spun as if this dirt would find<br />

the wind it came here for<br />

circle up and cover this place<br />

with your finger touching<br />

the grave skies grow into<br />

and never let go –a parting gesture<br />

collecting darkness with another<br />

helps you leave the way the dead<br />

fill their arms with the Earth<br />

carried around as morning and higher<br />

in stones they know by heart.<br />


Adrian Slonaker<br />

Pickle Candy<br />

On the downtown stretch of St. Joseph’s Road<br />

four blocks away from the grain elevators<br />

and two from the commuter rail station,<br />

Ballard’s Candies filled a gap between<br />

the pet shop with the monkey that tore a hole<br />

in my maroon winter cap<br />

and the comic book store where my brother<br />

salivated over issues of GI Joe.<br />

Ballard’s is where I would sip<br />

Green River floats and had my first scoop<br />

of bubble gum ice cream before<br />

purchasing candy cigarettes to feel grown-up.<br />

One day when I was about ten<br />

I spied one box of Pickle Candy between the<br />

root beer drops and the Life Savers by the<br />

antique cash register.<br />

I despised dill and walked away,<br />

but I noticed again,<br />

a month later when Mom took me for a treat after<br />

a loathsome school physical that<br />

the root beer drops and the Life Savers were gone,<br />

but the Pickle Candy hadn’t persuaded anyone to buy it.<br />

Silently sympathizing with the green and white case<br />

with the retro font,<br />

I knew that I too had been last picked<br />

for dodgeball, kickball, volleyball,<br />

baseball, and football.<br />

Three months later, on my birthday, I went to Ballard’s for<br />

a chocolate malted and spotted the Pickle Candy<br />

still in its spot, pathetically gathering dust.<br />

Crushed by a crest of compassion<br />

I’d never felt before,<br />

I sacrificed my allowance,<br />

rescued the Pickle Candy<br />

and, once on the pavement lined with crackly maple leaves,<br />

I realized that my charitable cause<br />

had expired two years before.<br />


Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon<br />

The Railway Bank<br />

Climb between the houses,<br />

up don’t go there bank,<br />

into no-man’s land.<br />

So many dangers,<br />

nettles being the least,<br />

strangers in raincoats the worst,<br />

hurtling trains, in between.<br />

A dreamy child,<br />

I saw butterflies and beetles<br />

in my don’t go there garden,<br />

sun-spun diamond cobwebs –<br />

and cuckoo spit and dewdrops<br />

glitter-poised to fall<br />

and drench my ankle socks.<br />

Each summer morning, I emerged<br />

out of the shadows to be warmed through,<br />

free of the lonely chill of home.<br />


Bob MacKenzie<br />

garden party<br />

1.<br />

at first there were no strawberries<br />

only man and woman naked and God<br />

wrapped in regal strawberry robes<br />

the man on the grass watching<br />

God touch her wrist seductively<br />

2.<br />

strawberries are important here<br />

held and hugged and lain upon<br />

surrogates for love’s embrace<br />

sex toys and hats and statues<br />

metaphor among the naked mass<br />

3.<br />

everywhere in the park the naked<br />

abandon decorum with lust for sex<br />

games played without love or joy<br />

while in the pool the naked women<br />

gasp as men and beasts circle round<br />

4.<br />

where the city burns in darkness<br />

no strawberries or naked passion<br />

suffer souls to pain without end<br />

where on every corner danger lurks<br />

and the garden party is no delight<br />

[after the triptych painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch]<br />


Jack Little<br />

Rainy Day<br />

Tourists equate rainy days with ‘lost days’,<br />

sun worshippers who pray in shorts<br />

who’ve saved for months to be here.<br />

I bathe in paperwork, strut home sweaty<br />

full of judgement. In rainfall my knees creak<br />

under the old aches of from here/ born elsewhere.<br />

Drizzle on the hot pavement smells of stale dog piss.<br />

Each lost breath of beerless path-beating<br />

is a an unhappy pilgrimage, dreaming of being<br />

from there, but here – inside, and sheltered.<br />


Neil Fulwood<br />

City<br />

1.<br />

The walk-in clinic at seven in the morning,<br />

its postage-stamp car park half full already<br />

and an acre of wasteland unused behind it<br />

spiked with nettles and weeds and syringes.<br />

A gym and a cob shop one side of the street,<br />

a chain hotel out of place on the other -<br />

close to the station but shag all use<br />

in terms of parking or the city centre.<br />

A mini-cab office nestling for space<br />

alongside a pub unchanged for decades<br />

and a chip shop without a food hygiene rating.<br />

A symmetry of sorts if it’s ten to midnight.<br />

Symmetry, too, in these tower blocks<br />

squared off against multi-storey car parks,<br />

scraps of grass in the spaces between them<br />

and a precinct of shops with boarded up fronts.<br />

2.<br />

The city is the bus depot, the sharp tang of fuel.<br />

The city is the smashed glass of the bus stop.<br />

The city is the bin lorry blocking rush hour streets.<br />

The city is the council van on double-yellows.<br />

The city is a residents-only zone.<br />

The city is an out-of-order parking meter.<br />

The city is a traffic warden in high-vis tabard.<br />

The city is a youth giving him the wanker sign.<br />

“... a poet unknown by the city he sings to ...”<br />

- Fina Garcia-Marruz (trans. Katherine M. Hedeen)<br />

The city is the taxi rank an hour before closing time.<br />


The city is the ambulance an hour after.<br />

The city is a gunshot or a car backfiring,<br />

the police helicopter steadily circling.<br />

3.<br />

You leave the last few cubic millilitres<br />

and walk a slow route from pub to taxi rank<br />

trying to broker a deal<br />

with your own digestive system:<br />

you’ve learned your lesson, you left<br />

your drink unfinished so, please, there’s no need<br />

for any unpleasantness. You stumble,<br />

fold at the gut and the gutter is there to receive.<br />

4.<br />

The city is all of your hangovers compounded,<br />

all of your fights in a single one-inch punch,<br />

every sickie you’ve thrown, every lie<br />

you were caught in. It doesn’t know your name.<br />


Carl Boon<br />

Love in Lacroix<br />

For a month she mispronounced her name,<br />

lied about flowers and her dislike<br />

of lavender soap. Her skin one Friday<br />

shivered on the bus at Stevens Point,<br />

trembled and touched the bones of her.<br />

When they met at the Blue Coin Cafe,<br />

each wept. She said here the snow deletes<br />

the sky. She said your eyes are darker<br />

than I’d guessed. After an hour they began<br />

to laugh and clutch, exchanging secrets<br />

while the men spoke of bowling<br />

and the Packers, Tupperware parties,<br />

the haul to Oshkosh. In the Red Spire Motel<br />

the air was turbulent, changing. The clothes<br />

fell, the usual hesitation, the bedspread<br />

not theirs and the one that would be,<br />

later. The first kiss mercy, the second<br />

a rage against the dying corn, the land,<br />

the unbelievable of even being there.<br />

She said I’m happy now. She said I’m not<br />

leaving until the ground opens harshly.<br />

Then a purple sprawl, a green becoming,<br />

a breakfast neither felt the need to touch.<br />

This is better, she said. This is right,<br />

she said, as the black men below<br />

made the snow go away. It appeared to be<br />

a thousand plows, but it was only one.<br />


Sophie Petrie<br />

A Gap in the Curtains<br />

Smear me with well planted kisses,<br />

fall back onto the mounds of sheets,<br />

our borrowed limbs flung out at rest<br />

across the pillow.<br />

The nightly stains, dream slug trails,<br />

slither from our uncurled lips<br />

while we breathe in the must and<br />

sweat-filled hollows.<br />

The internal clinking of our<br />

rhythms match and bleed and blend,<br />

while I turn and wriggle down into<br />

the empty indent.<br />

That weighted groove you left for me,<br />

unwashed marks and bare shadows,<br />

a soft cast I do not fit.<br />

I sleep with my mouth closed tight,<br />

my hands clawed under the pillow,<br />

ignoring the call of whistling birds,<br />

the lances of dust<br />

dancing between the curtains,<br />

a split throat of morning.<br />

I clutch the sheets, our warm bed divided<br />

with a thin line of light.<br />


Tobi Alfier<br />

Bourbon and Barbecue, or Coal<br />

Three girls light Marlboro reds<br />

and shoot vodka at the bar,<br />

six fake breasts and nine fake ID’s<br />

between them. Danny sits at his table<br />

messy with peanut shells<br />

and ashtray trash, wonders<br />

when he wakes tomorrow, what the weather<br />

will be, which woman will be buried under his covers,<br />

ass to stomach, the light snore of the pickup-loved<br />

and hungover, while he waits for what’s for breakfast<br />

and can I borrow your toothbrush.<br />

When it’s cold, outside is a black and white<br />

photograph, frigid breath, ancient scent of coal,<br />

fractured smoke off the river winding lazily<br />

toward collars not thick enough, and unprepared.<br />

When it’s hot, the air is a bee-sting of fury,<br />

the sound of trains, smell of bourbon and barbecue.<br />

Everyone’s kids are your kids—they ride their bikes<br />

like maniacs, you keep one hand on their arms,<br />

one on the arm of your new-found woman,<br />

try to remember her name, pray you can introduce<br />

her to the church ladies and she won’t say somethin’<br />

heinous, turn around and yell at her<br />

to get off Roscoe’s skateboard!<br />

Jeez, almost ain’t worth it. You swear to pick another bar,<br />

find yourself a good woman, not a walking wine stain,<br />

go see if Katie Lee’s cornbread is done,<br />

see if her husband is still done gone…that’s what the heat<br />

brings out, he’ll take a tank top and sunburn over icy cold<br />

almost every time.<br />


Bethany W Pope<br />

Florida Man<br />

My Uncle has a bitter laugh: a harsh,<br />

barking cough, punctuated by his finger<br />

flicking a long trail of ash from the tip<br />

of his ever-burning cigarette.<br />

The Rowe men all die with a full scalp.<br />

The Rowe men are all bone and lean muscle;<br />

they’re deceptively strong. Rowe men have a knack<br />

for mechanical things; engines, handguns.<br />

They read novels with a literary bent,<br />

watch Fox News, South Park, and they’ll all vote<br />

Republican to the very last.<br />

They never sing out when the pain is on them.<br />

My Uncle’s younger brother got grease<br />

into a gash a piston gouged into<br />

the meat of his leg and contracted a fleshhungry<br />

MRSA infection.<br />

He didn’t tell his wife about it<br />

until it spread enough to almost<br />

warrant amputation. My uncle is good<br />

at keeping secrets. He never tattled<br />

on his grandfather. He never said<br />

what they did in the dark. My Uncle<br />

doesn’t eat, much. He drinks whiskey for breakfast.<br />

Sometimes, he’ll whip a raw egg into it.<br />

My Uncle’s father died when my Uncle<br />

was fifteen. He did it on purpose.<br />

My Uncle never talks about it.<br />

My grandfather never talked about<br />

his father — what they did in the dark.<br />

My Uncle tried meth, for a while. It helped<br />

drown the dark into quiet, but it was<br />

expensive. My Uncle broke into his<br />

little brother’s house, one night, shattering<br />

the picture window above my cousin’s<br />

bed (she was sleeping in it) and stole<br />

the guns his father ‘liberated’<br />

from that beach in Japan. My Uncle<br />

reappears at intervals. My aunt<br />


epeatedly checks him into rehab,<br />

the cheap kind, where they don’t talk much,<br />

and he leaves, promising to do better.<br />

Sometimes, I see him at Christmas. He’s thinner<br />

each year, and his hair is finer, increasingly<br />

white. When my grandma died, he came home<br />

for the funeral. The suit he wore<br />

was made for a boy. It fit him around<br />

his shoulders and waist, but it only<br />

covered half his legs and half his arms.<br />

His limbs stuck out, hairy, like a spider’s.<br />

I gave him a hug and felt the bones<br />

in his back as he leaked hard tears onto<br />

my chest. Then his long hand, briefly, cupped<br />

my right breast. My Uncle is a funny<br />

man, even now that he is dying.<br />

Remembering the last job he had,<br />

working the night shift at a gas station,<br />

he says, ‘At least I don't have to sleep<br />

in the freezer any more.’ He never<br />

slept there. He had a cot, out in storage.<br />

They paid him in Jim Beam and let him out<br />

for church on alternate Sundays.<br />

Every couple of hours, my uncle grows<br />

restless. He sneaks out of the ward and smokes<br />

with the janitors. They like him<br />

because he’s willing to share. Somehow,<br />

his cigarettes are always good. His skin’s gone<br />

all yellow and cracked, and his gunslinger<br />

eyes are clouded and sunken. He’s fifty;<br />

looks eighty, and he’s on his way out.<br />


Brett Stout<br />

Sometimes a Saint, Mostly a Sinner<br />

Zero year<br />

1979<br />

wasteland kamikaze<br />

and the eventual<br />

death from above,<br />

now crawl inside<br />

your<br />

cardboard Jesus box<br />

and<br />

watch it fucking<br />

crumble,<br />

under pressure from<br />

David Bowie and acid rain<br />

lint rollers<br />

and<br />

Post-It Notes<br />

gather dust and debris<br />

the derelict hands of<br />

winos and Bigfoot<br />

staple<br />

Miles Davis<br />

on a rented lonely<br />

hotel room wall<br />

fascist cockroaches<br />

infest<br />

decaying suburban neighborhoods<br />


and foreclosed strip malls<br />

just one<br />

in Atlanta<br />

with a dream and a utopian ideal<br />

then thousands<br />

spreading and infiltrating the NSA<br />

and the PTA<br />

just like them<br />

moths under seditious<br />

illuminated lamps<br />

pools of concrete toxins<br />

transmission fluid and Mexican<br />

children at play<br />

the dryer is broken<br />

the landlord is fixed<br />

sink the dull razor<br />

blade<br />

into society<br />

pull up a plush<br />

semi-leather office chair<br />

sell me another lie and<br />

used condominiums<br />

Band-Aids and bloody gauze pads<br />

wrap<br />

your veins and high definition<br />

television<br />

now relax<br />

and stare at a distance<br />

nothing will be<br />

alright<br />

just like everyone else<br />

you are all<br />

alone<br />


ut<br />

it will all<br />

be over soon,<br />

now crawl inside<br />

your<br />

cardboard Jesus box<br />

and<br />

watch it goddamn crumble.<br />


Thomas Tyrrell<br />

The Pirate’s Apology<br />

“They were poor Rogues, they said, and so hang’d, while others, no less guilty<br />

in another Way, escaped.” —The General History of the Pirates, Daniel Defoe.<br />

You gentlemen who form my jury,<br />

These final words let no man gag.<br />

I fought and drank with Captain Roberts<br />

And sailed beneath the pirate flag.<br />

My bread was spoil, my meat was plunder;<br />

I rue it, but it comes no shock<br />

To find myself a felon sentenced<br />

To swing at Execution Dock.<br />

I laughed to scorn the laws of nations<br />

And though I fought fair and lived free<br />

I did things that I quake to think on,<br />

Waded in blood above the knee,<br />

And now, a man condemned, I stand here<br />

A flaming beacon on a rock<br />

Warning the mariners to windward,<br />

Steer clear of Execution Dock.<br />

For it’s the same the whole world over,<br />

The poor rogues hang, the rich rogues thrive.<br />

While three tides toss my chained cadaver<br />

Think of the monsters left alive.<br />

The slavers, gorged with human cargo,<br />

The managers of South-Sea stock,<br />

How comes it they will never join me<br />

To swing at Execution Dock?<br />

Jurors, I go to death as blithely<br />

As good King Charles went to the block.<br />

Let no-one jeer me on my journey<br />

To swing at Execution Dock.<br />


Jonathan Humble<br />

Aberration<br />

First thing in the morning, watch the mirror yawning,<br />

just another Monday when it hits you without warning.<br />

Lost your medication, feel the irritation,<br />

quickly followed by a burst of weird exaltation.<br />

Quite enjoy a chinwag, talking to a spongebag,<br />

interrupted by the coffee pushing back the jetlag.<br />

Called the boss a fishface, must have been a nutcase,<br />

lose your mind in increments while running in the rat race.<br />

Drowning in the bearpit, looking like a nitwit,<br />

watch out for the killer viral fungus in the armpit.<br />

Have a right good chortle, walking through the portal,<br />

be a mixed up manic panic borderline immortal.<br />

Listen for a raindrop, waiting by the bin slop,<br />

wondering just who you are and why you're at a bus stop.<br />

Feeling cold and left out, swimming in your own doubt,<br />

glaring round and looking for a fight with any young lout.<br />

Fed up with the mucus, wade around in fucus,<br />

staring at the night sky looking hard for Ophiuchus.<br />

Used to be a boy scout, give the moon a good shout,<br />

wave goodbye to sanity while searching for the way out ...<br />


Scott Redmond<br />

Citrus Advertising Board<br />

As the newest member,<br />

Of the British Citrus Advertising Board<br />

I would like to pitch a few new ideas.<br />

Number One.<br />

Interior.<br />

A child is biting into a piece of chocolate,<br />

When they make a face like *screws up face*<br />

It is then revealed to be a piece of lemon<br />

Painted to look like chocolate.<br />

Tagline;<br />

“THAT’S CITRUS!!!”<br />

Number Two.<br />

Interior.<br />

A man has a large open wound on his leg.<br />

His friend offers to get him some antiseptic cream,<br />

He puts on the cream,<br />

And makes a face like *screws up face*<br />

It is then revealed to be lemon juice.<br />

Tagline;<br />

“THAT’S CITRUS!!!”<br />

Number Three.<br />

Interior.<br />

A man is attempting to use eyedrops,<br />

But instead of eyedrops, out comes<br />

Just this whole lemon<br />

He makes a face like *screws up face*<br />

It is then revealed to be a lemon.<br />

Tagline;<br />

“THAT’S CITRUS!!!”<br />

Number Four.<br />

Exterior.<br />

A woman is biting into a lemon,<br />


She makes a face like *confused face*.<br />

It is revealed to instead be a small Mediterranean island.<br />

Tagline;<br />

“THAT’S CYPRUS!!!”<br />


Abigail Elizabeth Ottley<br />

For Zsa Zsa with Love<br />

A good time girl, my grandma said.<br />

All diamond rings and fizzy gin.<br />

My nan would call a spade a spade<br />

and wasn’t taken in.<br />

No better than she ought, she said.<br />

No knickers underneath that fur.<br />

But on our screen in black and white<br />

you sashayed, swished and purred.<br />

Aged ten I saw you fill a stage<br />

and caught my breath to watch you glow.<br />

I dreamed one day I’d file my nails<br />

and pout my painted lips just so.<br />

And smouldering I’d lift my chin<br />

and make my cocktail clink.<br />

Young men would laugh at all my jokes<br />

while Daddy held my mink.<br />

So Zsa Zsa here’s a toast to you.<br />

Sleep well and thanks a bunch.<br />

Although I never got that mink<br />

my sashay packs a mighty punch.<br />


Irene Cunningham<br />

Dancing with Narcissists<br />

These men would sweep, be precise;<br />

their considered mechanics performing<br />

building waves of oohs and aahs<br />

attracting envy, spooling dreams.<br />

Eyes to charm, spellbind witnesses,<br />

always busy with machinations<br />

spinning webs with artful casts<br />

managing a way through the world.<br />

My narcissist is delving inwards,<br />

down rabbit holes because he knows<br />

best, and I’m the whipping girl<br />

who remains his mother...in the dock.<br />

Our dance is jittery: not jitter-bug<br />

or quick-step – more Punk-like leaping<br />

reducing to Zombie-walking off<br />

and Death-march out of time.<br />


Jenny McRobert<br />

Touched<br />

Crunch-cold,<br />

the unravelling path frays<br />

a spindling yarn<br />

swirling violet and green,<br />

in rain pools like dreams<br />

that tinge a restless night.<br />

Mud sucks at slow boots,<br />

sliding down,<br />

pushing up brambles<br />

hollow faced,<br />

hostile homes<br />

like burnt-out city slums.<br />

Travel sick with the inward journey,<br />

I look up,<br />

and they are there,<br />

where they have always been,<br />

shocks of thick green hair<br />

in the brown baldness of winter;<br />

Yew trees<br />

huddled in on each other as if for warmth.<br />

Soft-veined old arms of time,<br />

beckon me to their counsel.<br />

I touch the ancient,<br />

the slow seeping memory of pagan<br />

the warp and weft<br />

of tangled roots;<br />

that sing of the time when earth<br />

once lost its battle with sky.<br />

Time stutters and stalls,<br />


as I pad-out thoughts<br />

in small steps,<br />

author of my own mystery play<br />

where the broken mind is<br />

born again.<br />


J.S. Watts<br />

A Float of Ravens<br />

(in response to having read half-way through Anne Carson’s Float)<br />

It is like eating ravens<br />

the egg and the binding<br />

except I would never.<br />

Rather a repetition<br />

of ravens cloudy<br />

over the wide-open skies<br />

of Kneesworth.<br />

Words floating like ravens<br />

in a fierce wind<br />

battling meaning<br />

and disinterest<br />

in the same drawn out wing-beat.<br />

It could be just<br />

as Proust says, except<br />

I can’t remember what’s lost<br />

or where<br />

or those words<br />

that paint<br />

the feeling of floating<br />

boundless and unwrapped<br />

through the wide-open skies<br />

drifting above Kneesworth.<br />

Where I once read ravens<br />

fighting like words<br />

in a fierce wind<br />

I can no longer remember<br />

though time repeats like Proust<br />

or writers in search<br />

of the lost remembrance<br />

of Proust and maybe<br />

misplaced words floating<br />

wrapless and unbounded<br />

in a wide-open sky<br />

white and yellow<br />

like a pale fried egg<br />

like ravens who would-be<br />

eating.<br />


Sunita Thind<br />

Coconut Girl<br />

Brown on the outside.<br />

White on the inside.<br />

Sarsee Akal!<br />

Said the Coconut Girl.<br />

Jewelled doll in a salwar kameez<br />

Gemstone bindiya targeted on the forehead.<br />

Kiddha!<br />

Said the Coconut Girl.<br />

All cinnamon legs in a profusion of glittered mini skirts.<br />

Gin chaser, Whiskey Sour, chippy butty.<br />

Fondled by the ‘Gaura’ boyfriend.<br />

Meera Tika.<br />

Said the Coconut Girl.<br />

Spangled head scarf gagging her.<br />

‘You are so dark, lah,’ ‘You must loose weight lah,’<br />

‘Tusee Karli’ ‘Tu see Muthi’<br />

‘Did you see her niece? She got into Medicine.’<br />

Chirps from the harpies, the banshees...the aunti jee, the mummy jee…<br />

The Dadima, the Nanima…<br />

‘Meera Naam…’<br />

Said the Coconut Girl.<br />

Bejewelled Lengai, crystallized, hot pink and burnt gold.<br />

Frenzied diamonds adorn her hair.<br />

The perfect bride.<br />

‘Nahin! Nahin!’<br />

Said the Coconut Girl.<br />

Mac cosmetic façade, mangled rhinestone embellished hot pants,<br />

Holographic, stiletto boots…<br />

Whiskey breath.<br />

Her dad saw her with that white guy.<br />


Mute was the Coconut Girl.<br />

Manacled to her Chura.<br />

Her bedazzled bangles.<br />

Terraformed to her Tika.<br />

Feasting on a banquet of curries.<br />

A Panjabi paradox was our sad little Coconut Girl.<br />

*Sarsee Akal! (‘Hello’ Punjabi)<br />

salwar kameez (Indian Suit)<br />

Kiddha! (‘How are you?’ Panjabi)<br />

Gaura- White<br />

Meera Tika. (‘I am good,’ in Panjabi)<br />

Meera Naam (‘My name is...’ is Panjabi)<br />

‘Nahin! Nahin!,’ (‘No, No,’ in Panjabi’)<br />

Tika (Jewelled head piece-Indian)<br />


Michelle Diaz<br />

Do Not Go to Kilburn<br />

Mother,<br />

this is the day you gave birth to me.<br />

Let’s write a new version.<br />

Let the caesarean scalpel slip,<br />

let me be miscarried all over the bathroom floor,<br />

shoo the jiggly white racers<br />

back.<br />

Reverse.<br />

Do not drink in that Irish bar,<br />

do not meet vacuous<br />

only-in-name<br />

sperm donor father.<br />

Do not.<br />

Instead,<br />

have the life that would have saved you,<br />

find the letters from Geoff Broomhead<br />

Grandma hid from you.<br />

Let me stay on my cloud.<br />


Bethany Rivers<br />

No flight plan<br />

It should’ve been a sunny Sunday in summer<br />

but the clouds hung in her deeply<br />

She was 29, the rug of marriage<br />

swept up from under her feet<br />

Her adrenaline levels had woken her<br />

too early again, that feeling that a<br />

bomb may explode at some point during<br />

the day, in the most innocuous<br />

of places, but the day dawned<br />

insultingly ordinary and the empty<br />

hours paved in front of her like<br />

an endless motorway of no-cars<br />

She’s a bird who’s never known flight,<br />

still sitting in its cage with the door open<br />


Stephen Seabridge<br />

What Gets Me<br />

Is that half the world away<br />

there are those who have<br />

never seen the rain fall like this,<br />

here, on this hill, down the leaves<br />

of these trees. That here, before<br />

us, some scaly, tailless creature<br />

stomped its way through growth<br />

that became this woodland. That<br />

it died, and its bones crushed to<br />

oil, to coal, and men found it,<br />

held its black mass in their hands<br />

as if it was gold. That those<br />

men dug further, deeper, into<br />

this mud and felt the cascade<br />

of falling soil. That those men lay,<br />

in the sluice of this mine, drowning.<br />


Martin Zarrop<br />

Monsal Head Viaduct<br />

A grey-haired critic contemplates the view.<br />

It’s just a bridge, she states, and pulls that face,<br />

that mummy mask that always knows it all.<br />

Her son releases breath into the wind.<br />

‘Sometime’, he says, ‘my ashes will drift down,<br />

speck by speck into the River Wye’.<br />

Don’t talk like that, she scolds,<br />

it’s just a bridge.<br />


Ian Grosz<br />

Different directions going the same way<br />

We watch the night sky<br />

looking out for shooting stars.<br />

‘To the north’, I say.<br />

‘That’s where they will be.’ But<br />

her gaze is over to the east.<br />

I take a sip of my wine;<br />

sharp and syrup sweet, I shudder<br />

as it slides down my throat.<br />

‘Is that the North Star?’<br />

she asks, still looking east.<br />

The ghost of the moon lurks<br />

behind the clouds, and<br />

I can just see the outline of her face,<br />

her profile, as that first time,<br />

that first long look<br />

in the car as she took me home,<br />

turning twice the wrong way.<br />


Michael McGill<br />

Commuting<br />

Anna<br />

I think<br />

of you often<br />

but the trains now<br />

are colder and less<br />

forgiving<br />

alone.<br />

so I travel<br />


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

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

Thank you for reading!

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!