Picaroon Poetry - Issue #13 - September 2018

picaroonpoetry

This issue features work by Sue Kindon, Marc Frazier, Attracta Fahy, Darren C. Demaree, Anne Babson, Kevin Reid, Karen Little, Rachel Burns, Louise Wilford, Marne Wilson, Linda Stevenson, Kelli Simpson, Emma Lee, Ben Banyard, Bethany W Pope, Kristin Garth, Jared Pearce, Sally Kidd, Sophie Petrie, Thomas Tyrrell, Jude Cowan Montague, MiRo, Darrell Petska, David Linklater, Douglas Cole, Kasey Shelley, Pru Bankes Price, Cara L McKee, Tobi Alfier, Bekah Steimel, Michelle Hartman. The cover art is 'Scary Baby', a mixed media piece by Chuka Susan Chesney.

Issue #13

September 2018

Edited by Kate Garrett

All poems copyright © 2018 individual authors

Selection/issue copyright © 2018 Kate Garrett / Picaroon Poetry

Cover image is ‘Scary Baby’, a mixed media piece by Chuka Susan Chesney.

Copyright © 2018 Chuka Susan Chesney


Hello rogue readers and writers.

I don’t really like to take up space with a long editorial, but I wanted to remind

everyone this is our last issue of 2018 (I reduced the issues for new baby

reasons). However – there’s no reason to be sad, because we will be returning

to our regular bi-monthly issues from January 2019! Next year you get six

issues of Picaroon again. Phew. I can’t wait.

And our submissions are now open – I’m accepting work for Issue #15 in

March onwards.

Anyway, let’s get on with what you’re all here to see: tonnes of offbeat poetry

with something important (or frivolous, or both) to say.

With piratical literary love,

Kate


This Month’s Rogue Poems ● September 2018

Plague // Sue Kindon 7

Crossings // Marc Frazier 8

These Are The Days // Attracta Fahy 9

bone requires bone #27 // Darren C. Demaree 11

A Hymn for Julian // Anne Babson 12

Our Priest // Kevin Reid 14

Supper Time // Karen Little 15

Strange Little Girl // Rachel Burns 16

The Tattoo On My Sister’s Shoulder // Louise Wilford 18

Hanging Out // Marne Wilson 20

Profile // Linda Stevenson 21

Non-Credible // Kelli Simpson 22

Naming the Colours // Emma Lee 23

Jim // Ben Banyard 24

(Dirty) // Bethany W Pope 25

Entertainers // Kristin Garth 27

We walk through the crime scene where my student was murdered

// Jared Pearce 28

Exploration // Sally Kidd 29

Headland // Sophie Petrie 30


A Frightful Ballad of the Third Lord Boyce // Thomas Tyrrell 31

A Morncoat Troutthwing // Jude Cowan Montague 35

Emma // MiRo 36

A Short History of Cheerios // Darrell Petska 37

Renaissance Shake // David Linklater 38

The Doghouse // Douglas Cole 39

Hard Work // Kasey Shelley 40

Almost a Love Letter // Pru Bankes Price 41

Your Poetry // Cara L McKee 42

Out of My League in Honfleur // Tobi Alfier 43

Separation // Bekah Steimel 44

Ode to October // Michelle Hartman 45


Sue Kindon

Plague

The inner sill is deep with ladybirds,

dead ones you can sweep into a dustpan,

or clinging on, wings half open,

a horde of fading hopes to harden in the bin.

Broken, they smell of bitter leaves,

nasturtium, like a house on fire.

How did they get in through double glazing?

This has been going on for days, weeks, I forget.

I can't extinguish tiny carcases,

the dottiness of blackened spots en masse.

My children flew the nest ages ago.

They never lived in this place

with its crematorium view.

7


Marc Frazier

Crossings

No matter whose bed you die in

the bed will be yours

for your voyage…

—Anne Sexton

We maneuver city crosswalks and don’t collide

radar guides us as we

enter into no man’s land and back during warfare

or over to some banal hatred.

I know the border of madness,

drugged back as

a fish deboned by night,

a purple hedge going to seed.

Boards from my childhood creak.

Dawn’s light: a leaf, I turn toward it.

All but one image of beauty slid from Aschenbach,

and two breathtaking syllables: Ta-dzio.

In the end, the sea will take me like a rose,

that, now, can be handled.

I ride this last bed, rising to the mouth of God’s moon.

There will be no questions, no password given.

In Judgment’s place: bang bang, knock knock,

the madman’s thrum.

8


Attracta Fahy

These Are the Days

when the wind spirit bites

your door, shivers –

‘Is it me? – am I imagining it?’

Your face dappled in Autumn

leaves, auburn, chestnut, gold,

whisper,‘I have let go.’

Grey clouds reflect

our bodies,

the sun rises crimson

in another land.

Beyond the snow moon,

hope calls,

‘Breathe – the ebb, – the flow,

light needs dark to shine’

Stars move close, remind,

‘The Mayan’s may not

have got it wrong’

The world as it was, did end.

Here on the night side, a dark

grid divides us, fires

storm the micro-chip gods,

burn cultural memory,

floods sweep away

evolution.

The volcanoes’ guns erupt,

mirror our chaos, our leaders,

our age of madness, our murder

and dying morals.

Dangerous to speak,

lost in our own skin,

hidden behind masks

and cloaks,

the emperors suit laid bare.

9


The gods have us,

seekers with new tongues,

scrawl on digital billboards,

sharing screens with blood

suckers slugging our

power, crawling in black.

‘Too late,’ I hear apple trees cry,

‘the spell has broken, evil,

no longer hidden, must run

its course.’

10


Darren C. Demaree

bone requires bone #27

all this abuse is regulated there is an infrastructure and bureaucracy to it there

are meetings held with bottled waters and coffee orders and bad pastry and

people stand in front of the mirror to check their image before these meetings

as if they will look like anything other than monsters in the meeting they speak

clearly in full sentences about the abuse they congratulate themselves about

the progression of the abuse there are fucking charts collated images indexes

of abuse somebody picks a fucking font for this shit

11


Anne Babson

A Hymn for Julian

The Christian position is victory

Always. The nails of the cross jackhammered

Into modern flesh – receive them singing.

They tack us to cards like lone, glowing moths

That we may obtain a more perfected

Resurrection on the last day of days:

Maybe next week, maybe when we get old.

Those scars, receive them singing holy songs.

My God, My God, why have you forsaken?

My God, My God, sinew snapped and searing,

My God, My God, gather the dusty dregs.

My God, My God, I take nothing with me.

The Christian strategy is holiness.

When he smites one, turn to him the other.

When she cries out stolen water is sweet,

Leave the water. Take the nails while singing.

They tack us to the ground, their carpeting.

When the Panzers roll over, don’t shudder.

Remember the children in the furnace

And sing their fire-baked barbershop quartet.

Them bones, them bones, ground in dry pool hall chalk,

Them bones, them bones, burnt up in the desert,

Them bones, them bones, what is left afterwards,

Them bones them bones, gathered up walk it off.

The Christian responding is at a loss

Never. The thorny crown is tiara

Tacked to the spotless head. Here comes the bride.

They tear her dress. See how she is singing.

The nails driven through her feet bloody her,

But again, see she refuses crooning

To call herself victim, struts though He slay

Her, yet will she trust Him, His aria.

12


How long, Oh Lord, until it suddenly?

How long, Oh Lord, can they count the martyrs?

How long, Oh Lord, to when the whirlwind speaks?

How long, Oh Lord, will You leave us singing?

13


Kevin Reid

Our Priest

didn’t always wear a collar,

said it wasn't gospel that prayer

should always be of the cloth.

Made a point in visiting those who

didn't know what a priest looked like.

Told me about a brothel,

where women were paid to pray

while being fucked Good News style.

There’s wine in both testaments.

Our priest always brought a bottle.

14


Karen Little

Supper Time

When she opened the door to the man in a brown suit, the girl

already saw him blowing cigarette smoke up their chimney,

heard him tunelessly accompany Wings from behind the sofa,

headphones clamped over hair containing not a single grey strand.

Her mother brushed mascara into the ones greying at her own temples

and beside her ears; she was eight years older than him, and often

told her daughter, you will be the death of me. The girl refused

to let him in, wouldn’t let him leave the box of albums indoors;

she knew how to say no before he established himself as family.

She didn’t know the sound of juggled coins in his trouser pocket

would drive her mad, that the rattle of a ‘supper tray’ outside

her bedroom, a fat sugary scone reflecting the light from her bedside

lamp, could instill a freezing in her chest. She didn’t take her eyes off

the sugar; imagined crawling inside to where the raisins were concealed

in a plump, secure silence. Burrowing to the centre, her hands scooped

a breathing place. When he left, she crumbled the scone between

her fingers, opened the window to throw crumbs for the birds, poured

milk in a steady stream down the outside wall, turned out her light.

15


Rachel Burns

Strange Little Girl

You are wearing a red coat with a red hood,

like that little girl, do not stray from the path

your mother said, the woods beyond lead to death.

But you lost the path an hour ago.

It’s pouring with rain, and your blue dress

is sticking, sticking to your goose pimpled flesh.

You can feel your shoes sinking in the mud

and your legs scratching on the brambles.

You remember the story was the same,

but the woodcutter never came.

Strange little girl, where are you going?

He grabs you by your red coat, that rips at the seam.

He squeezes you so tight you can’t breathe

and your world is swallowed up whole

white, white, white then blackness buzzing

buzzing like a swarm of angry bees.

You go deeper into the forest

so deep that you can never return unmarked.

You can hear somebody walking behind

twigs snap, the sound rings out like the

sound you heard in the pigeon cree.

Snap, snap, snap, their soft little necks.

Strange little girl, where are you going?

16


You wander back home, your mind numb

and you’re voice thick with unshed tears.

You whisper to her, but she doesn’t hear.

She is too busy mending the tear

the needle goes in and out, in and out

crimson thread the colour of blood

mending the ripped seam.

You remember the song but the tune is all wrong.

Strange little girl, where are you going?

17


Louise Wilford

The Tattoo On My Sister’s Shoulder

The single horn of the unicorn half turns towards me

from your shoulder blade, an upturned cornet.

The animal trots on dancing white hooves, doll eyes

coyly flirting through the bars of your sundress straps.

Maybe the freckle, half an inch above the cone’s point,

wasn’t there when the picture was inked onto your skin

a decade ago, but it looks as if the horse has seen it,

this fat brown flaw, and now picks up speed, tossing

its yellow mane, ready to skewer the error on its spiralling

tip. You can’t see the unicorn unless you twist,

unseemly and contorted, or set up double mirrors.

Perhaps you’ve forgotten it exists, this spiky guardian

on your shoulder. Your first. It doesn’t quite fit, does it,

all puppy fat and Disney grin? Doesn’t quite sit right

with your pagan ankle foliage, the Celtic knot

on your forearm, or the curved tendrils of ink that scale

your abdomen. Like them, it has its time and place,

seen more often by more people. It was painted

when you were young and sentimental, still green

enough to enjoy the thought of stabling a cartoon

unicorn on your shoulder for a lifetime. You weren’t

qualified for unicorns even then. Your other tatts

emerge and vanish with the hour, the weather,

the clothes you choose – bikini-ed on the beach,

wrapped in a towel after showering, seductive on your bed

wearing only cocoa butter. In winter, the shutters

are drawn, your drawings are shut. End of Season.

But the unicorn isn’t bashful. It appears each time

18


your sloppy sweater falls off your shoulder or your t-shirt

is too thin. It’s childish lines ripple as you move your arm;

its cerulean body has no diffidence. Cheerful and over the top,

it’s the thing people notice but you forget. It suits you.

19


Marne Wilson

Hanging Out

Sitting on beanbag chairs in your parents’ basement,

we listen to the Shaggy Dog Cha-Cha-Cha

on my record of Disney Dance Tunes.

Your smiling but unobtrusive mother brings us

tall glass bottles of Coke with straws peeking out,

a pan of brownies,

and, if it’s close to suppertime,

a plate of toasted cheese sandwiches.

This is the happiest day of my life,

just hanging out with you.

Too bad this isn’t a real memory.

Instead, it comes from a variety of sources:

Nancy Drew books,

Betty Crocker’s Guide to Easy Home Entertaining,

nights I spied on my big sister

and afternoons spent with Barbie and Ken.

Bits and pieces of these implanted memories

have formed an image much more perfect

than any actual hanging out either of us have ever done.

I could not expect you to live up to this teenage ideal,

forty years out of date

and twenty-five years too young for us,

but it travels through my mind

every time you say the phrase.

20


Linda Stevenson

Profile

Temporary

profile

picture, here’s

mine, it’s about

the fortieth I’ve

done, I think,

say one every couple

of years, say

those set up

on terraces, quad

rangled children,

holding plaques,

temporary if you must

but actually in for life,

position proscribed

by height, at the back

if you were tall, that’s all.

I always fought shy

of those visiting

school photographers,

thought they might

be stealing my soul,

or knowing things,

secrets;

they hid their heads under

black cloth, then struck.

21


Kelli Simpson

Non-Credible

I’m washing up

the last of the breakfast dishes

when every phone

in the house rings at once. Hello?

An inappropriately cheerful automated

voice from my child’s high school -

a social media threat . . .

. . . determined to be noncredible.

I picture the slender

wrists and fragile hands of my transgender son.

I hear Orlando, Las Vegas

Parkland like a mantra.

And I wonder: isn’t credible /

non-credible a line

we’ve already crossed?

22


Emma Lee

Naming the Colours

“My favourite colours are fire colours.”

In a Lebanese camp, her son selects black.

He explains that Syria is smoky

because of the bombing and sometimes red.

In Europe he sees every colour,

especially white, like a pure, clean page,

unlike the dirty scrap he draws on.

His mother pays five hundred and fifty dollars a year

for the tent, a further twenty for electricity for light.

Europe means three hours in a black rubber dinghy

and the ache of holding children aloft

to prevent them from being crushed.

Her fire colours don’t include the orange

of the fake lifejackets sold at fifty dollars.

Cerise, scarlet, poppy, saffron, turmeric,

pomegranate with gold threaded embroidery.

She remembers. Daesh spoke little Arabic.

They were Chechen, Afghan, Chinese,

American, Somalian, Pakistani.

Fire colours mean rebirth. She calls

her newborn Sulaf, which means sunrise.

23


Ben Banyard

Jim

Ought to have retired eight years ago

but he’s on the bus by 5am every morning,

an apparition in orange high-viz.

I see him around the city pushing his barrow.

Stop to catch up with news,

how everyone still lives in the same houses

except the problem family with the wild kids

who were moved on, and now there are no more

police raids in the middle of the night.

Imagine being 73 and picking litter in the rain.

He always works overtime, barely takes a holiday,

just the odd bacon sandwich at the depot to look forward to.

And one day I’ll realise that I haven’t seen

him for weeks, and wonder what that might mean.

24


Bethany W Pope

(Dirty)

You are a kind that is familiar

in every nation, middle-aged, from

the upper middle-class, with a Waitrose

accent, expensive outdoorsy boots (unscuffed)

and though you are balding, your skin has that

sleek, buttery-smooth look that comes

from regular spa-days. You are very

tall, with a good, strong frame, which (I'm sure)

you hope your boys inherit. Your wife

is small, and just your age. Her gold-plated

hair brushes her shoulders and every

strand is daily hammered straight. Your children

have perfectly blended features. They will

be as attractive as you were, once.

I know that you were attractive, once.

It's written on your face. And there I was,

facing you, facing your wife, reading

the solid cost of your watch, the tasteful

heft of her two rings (understated,

elegant) with their terribly clear diamonds,

telling you that (for once) you could not get

exactly what you wanted. The film was

rated fifteen. Your children were between

thirteen and eleven. When I pointed

out the sign with the law printed on it

(laws passed by people sharing your accent

which, if broken, would result in a fine —

to be paid by myself — of two-thousand pounds)

and asked for ID, you bent down between

hunched shoulders and thrust your arched raptor's nose

almost between my eyes, as though you'd like

to gouge holes in my cheeks. Your spittle flew

as you cawed your disbelief, 'Are you calling

me a liar? My children are above

the age. How dare you call me a liar

you little foreigner!’ And that is when

I called the manager. Minimum wage

is not nearly recompense enough

25


for being drenched in your warm saliva.

You pecked at a man (earning eight pounds per hour)

for a solid ten minutes, measured

by the hands of your Rolex. In the end,

documents were produced, or at least

some agreement was reached. You were waved through

one more of life’s tiresome little doors,

ushered past one more exhausted, little,

foreigner. Your wife flashed her perfect teeth

at me, her blue eyes crinkling (attractively)

at the corners, and you took her hand

as you stalked the long corridor.

26


Kristin Garth

Entertainers

They play the Beastie Boys. He says let’s dance.

The “let’s” implies all — you, him, stranger stuck,

all rayon sweat slunk pleather couch. Askance

dark irised other jiggling man tits, sucked

to sleep tonight, his baby concubine

if you obey this signal, strip for two

more men. It’s Friday night, the hundredth time,

at least, for you — an entertainer, too,

like him, a guitar player. Consider

a Jimmy Page analogy, his hotel

room post concert when the other stripper

asked him to play and he said bloody well

just did. He’d just hear the hotel. Think whore.

It’s better if you don’t say anymore.

27


Jared Pearce

We walk through the crime scene where my student was

murdered

I’m kicking a stick

Then a rock,

I’m snapping my knee

And whipping my socks

For the kicks that I send

To the clocks,

To the sand, to the strident

Bird in the ugly tree,

I’m kicking the dawn,

The boss’s flab face,

The kids from outer space.

The kicks are small but mean

And well placed, poking

The waste and wasting me.

28


Sally Kidd

Exploration

I stayed up late, wide-eyed to watch

the men land on

the moon.

Sat in my gran’s yellow

paint-stained lounge

filled more with smoke

than air.

I knew how Armstrong felt

struggling in an

alien atmosphere.

29


Sophie Petrie

Headland

The rain pours the bracken into a wet backed dune,

the yellow heads cowering in tufted whorls,

hoof prints become their own waterways.

Rock trills and reels,

the wheeling absence of wings,

only a thousand voices.

That black seal

a rearview mirror of a face

bobs and disappears,

dissipates, wearing wave shawls.

Here the rock is primordial,

teeth too black to rot.

The sea lies on its back

waiting for the stars.

There are no ships to wreck today.

Pickings were better yesterday.

The sea lies ready to ground

those peril faced buckets

those waiting water sacks.

But there are no ships today.

The old man is lost in sleep

turning and turning over

bundled in soft pleats.

The sea lies on its back

humming to itself.

30


Thomas Tyrell

A Frightful Ballad of the Third Lord Boyce

October winds, October seas,

Around the ship they seethe and roar.

John Graham, the third Lord of Boyce

Hears a knock on his cabin door.

“With compliments of Captain Spence,

You’re wanted on the deck,

To see a sight was never seen

From Cape Town to Quebec.

“Your father’s ship has come alongside,

And John Graham, the second Lord

Of Boyce cries out in a fearful voice

For you to come aboard.”

The blood fell from Young Boyce’s cheek,

His heart was sore afraid.

“My compliments to Captain Spence,

Sure some mistake is made?

“My father’s dead ten years this night,

My father died at sea.

All souls aboard his ship were drowned

In the storms of ‘ninety-three.”

“And was that ship the Son of Eve

Out of the Port o’ Spain?

And did it have a figurehead

Bearing the mark of Cain?

“And is your father a red-haired man

Who stands full six-foot high,

With a blazing cheek and a broken nose

And a hellfire gleam in his eye?”

And then Young Boyce went up on deck

To a crew half-mad with terror,

And looking on his father’s face

31


He knew there was no error.

Old Boyce bestrode the quarterdeck;

His cannons were shotted and rammed.

“I’ll have Young Boyce to join my crew!

Though we be cursed and damned,

“A man’s own son, when all’s said and done,

Should stand beside his sire.

So have Young Boyce conveyed aboard,

Or else I’ll open fire,

“And the salt sea-waves will be your graves

And your daughters and widows will grieve.”

With a single leap, Young Boyce spanned the deep

And stood on the Son of Eve.

Young Boyce went to his father’s side

And clasped his outstretched hand,

As fiery red and burning hot

As any cattle brand.

He made his quivering knees be still

He made his heart beat slow

And in a steady, offhand voice,

He asked to go below.

“Oh, my young Boyce, you’ll have the choice

Of cabin, as you ought.

A long, long trip you’ll spend on ship

Ere we come to any port.

“This night we sail the seas of earth,

And feel the fresh west wind.

The Other Place has oceans too,

Though of a different kind,

“With a hot and sulphur-stinking breeze

And a bitter, burning spray,

Where I and you and all our crew

Will sail till Judgement Day.”

32


And then Old Boyce took up his lamp

And led his son below,

Where the lantern’s gleams showed only scenes

Of horror, shame and woe.

Backs flogged until the ribs gleamed white

And angry blistered burns;

Dead hopeless eyes, that haunt Young Boyce

Whichever way he turns.

But his cabin was filled with gold and jewels,

The spoils of piracy,

With a narrow bunk and a cannon-port

That looked upon the sea.

Here Old Boyce left him to his rest

With the ghastliest of grins,

And Young Boyce, sinking on his bunk,

Bethought him of his sins.

“In Paris and in London, I

Have lived a life of pleasure,

Not thinking how my carefree wealth

Was blood-soaked pirate treasure.

“Not thinking how my easy wealth

Was buccaneering booty.

I sought not to redress this thing.

Alas! I shirked my duty.

“For these bright stones how many bones

Lie bleached and bare and dry?

For wealth untold of Spanish gold

How many men must die?

What comfort can these trinkets give

If I lose my soul thereby?

“Shall I sail aboard the Son of Eve

On seas of grief and dole,

Or cast myself from yon cannon-port

33


And swim for life and soul?

“Must I share the fate and bear the curse

Of my father and his men?

Oh, I’d rather brave the salt sea-wave,

If my strength should fail—what then?

“Better lose my breath to a sailor’s death,

With Davy Jones to dwell,

Than forever ride by my father’s side

On the fiery seas of Hell.”

And men still speak of the thin white smile

Of his corpse as it lay on the shore,

Like one who’s braved Hell’s worst and saved

His soul forevermore.

34


Jude Cowan Montague

A Morncoat Troutthwing

Up the beach he kelked, half-knitted

and rising, leaning back into him, harping

and with a gembling grans he took his bram

as if to ask the oct what wold the world

its frais wil. The kelk from the sea, carnaby,

adriff, a low thwing, one russy morncoast

grinning the gap, sew to skerne, weavering

Agnes, the bain he fossed, he scors

the beeland, sledding the holes but no hut

no wick wats, the skip is sawed arramsby

and with a lut he aikes atwards into clold.

35


MiRo

Emma

First of all her hand caught fire.

Then her arm caught fire.

Then her chest caught fire.

Then her other arm caught fire.

After that her neck caught fire, then her face and also her hair caught fire.

Meanwhile, her stomach had caught fire.

Then her legs caught fire. And her feet caught fire.

Emma was fully ablaze by the time the fire service turned up to put her out.

Then the fire service put her out.

At this point an ambulance arrived and they fixed her up.

Then she was naked and gave birth to octuplets.

She took them home and raised them as her own.

I forgot to mention that this all happened in a park by a lake.

36


Darrell Petska

A Short History of Cheerios

Cows have been grateful since the Pleistocene.

Neanderthal women strung them about their necks

to attract Homo sapien suitors. Mesopotamian potters

patterned wheels after that ancient oaten aphrodisiac.

For a halo, Jesus emulated his daily grain's holiness.

Ptolemy over his breakfast bowl conceived the universe

as a set of nested spheres. People of the Dark Ages

found the bright yellow box a handy lantern.

Petrarch's sonnets to Cheerios remain lost to this day.

Christopher Columbus forded the “Ocean Sea”

to trade the bead-like O's for New World gold.

Minus its buoyant payload, his Santa Maria wrecked.

Later in America, colonists protesting British taxes

dumped a boatload of Cheerios into Newport Harbor.

As the 20th century turned, 63-year-old Annie Taylor

successfully traversed Niagara Falls in a barrel

packed with Cheerios. And is there one student

of history who does not know why Molly Brown

proved unsinkable when the Titanic went down?

For soldiers worldwide during the contentious 1900s,

Cheerios fun packs became the field ration of choice.

The commoner Princess Di wanted Cheerios

strewn at her wedding, but Charles held out for rice.

Sales of Cheerios spiked substantially circa

2YK festivities: a readily accessible, edible confetti.

A similar spike in consumption occurred in 2012

when Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana.

Pollsters suggest Hillary Clinton would have been elected

had she run a “No Bowl Unfilled” campaign.

Videos from the International Space Station reveal

Cheerios floating in the cabin. And fortunately, Elon Musk's

O-shaped Elysium shuttle nears readiness, anticipating

Earth's end of days when, the Cheerios website states,

we can cash in our boxtops and claim our just reward:

a bottomless bowl of eternal goodness and angels crooning

“Cheerios is heaven for you, and me.”

37


David Linklater

Renaissance Shake

I went to bed after a night doing the Renaissance shake.

I dreamt rattlesnakes, a storage unit, Saudi Arabia.

I woke around 5 with a bladder full as a pool

and hot as a burning dockyard. I emptied,

a dump truck sweating gold. I slept through

the rest on a marble quilt and picked bluebirds

from my ice cream. On a beach of rope swings

head spinning like a drunk, the helicopters rowed

to the long sleep of stars and the silhouettes on

the sphere danced slow and easy, gorgeous ghosts.

I yawned a blue glass apple, the magpie on the sill

yawned a barbed wire fence, the squirrel a pair of boots.

I got dressed and poured tiger and the milk

was the Kelvin river. I smoked a cigarette that whispered

passwords and smelled like a rainforest. I walked

to the shop with a headache that was a derelict building.

I bought food for dinner inside a whale and delivered

Jerry Garcia scratch cards on his birthday. I found that

mountains were songs and water was silk. And then

of course jets diving into the sand, the waves folding over,

the old man leaning on his pale cane, rings around him.

Of course I was naked for the most part but didn’t care,

it was obvious none of us would be there again.

Of course these things actually happenend.

Of course, no word of a lie.

38


Douglas Cole

The Doghouse

You’ve got no image,

but you’ve got the gray

rain against the windows;

you’ve got the old crowd

with absinthe laughter

and good old fashioned

whiskey stares,

and you’ve got the woman

climbing into bed who says,

please, no more nightmares.

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Kasey Shelley

Hard Work

When the boy texts you to cancel your date, saying you’re hard work, say

“OK”. Say “Thank you”. This will confuse him, obviously. He will expected to

respond with “How?!” “Why?!”, starting an argument, thus proving, you are

hard work.

When he writes back “what for?” you do not respond. When he texts you the

next day saying “ah hun, babe” you still do not respond. He has already given

up on something that did not have the chance to begin.

Besides, you like men. Men who know what they want and go for it. Men who

do not masquerade their own insecurities in yours.

So your hard work because your walls are higher now than they were at what,

sixteen? Well he should now be taller, than he was at sixteen. When you threw

over a rope and he still refuses to climb. He is not worth it, not worth your time.

You are not hard work. You are hardworking. You survive every day in this

world. Through work, home, love, loss. Through your own mind.

“You are hard work” Four words that will spur you on and give you more

energy than Honey Boo Boo’s go go juice. So write the poem. Sing the song.

Get the fucking promotion. Work hard and become a better you. For you.

One day someone will come to the wall. And before you even offer to throw

the rope they will be scaling. Scaling brick by brick to get to know you better.

Because you are worth that.

So when the boy says you are hard work, say “Thank you. Thank you very

much.”

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Pru Bankes Price

Almost a Love Letter

Memory is the proud treasure of wounded hearts

- Marcel Proust

Dear Joe

Do you remember?

I gave you a porcelain eye,

smooth-shaped, with milky gaze

it stared from your palm

reflected itself in your eyes.

You closed your fingers

around its sleekness

closed your mind against

questions strung between us.

Today technology winks from my desk

reminds me of that long-ago gift

and landscapes plotted

by a deserted petrol station

your desperate bluegrass banjo strum

night time murk of Boulters Lock.

I remember you well

but don’t think of you that often.

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Cara L McKee

Your Poetry

(Inspired by a 'secret postcard' from the same art project, reading 'I never liked your

poetry'.)

You write.

You write and write and

out it comes

tumbling line on line

in flowering, leafy,

intricate, detailed poetry.

And it sells.

People buy your

little books of

pretty poems

in scented gift shops,

wrapped with leafy soaps

and wooden hearts.

And I,

your favoured audience

get to hear your poems first.

Every single one

of the hundreds

of plump poetical petals

passes my ears

before landing

gently

in your pastel-shaded books.

And,

do you know?

I never liked your poetry.

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Tobi Alfier

Out of My League in Honfleur

Try as I might, I’m tainted,

shamefaced and lowbrow,

a face at the window

that leans into absence.

I contemplate the blue/gray

of enamel sky, compare

it to the bleu-noir of the rented

room, I turn numb,

follow a trail made of instinct.

Lacking in grace. I’ve drifted

far out of my league,

I am the late snow’s thickening

silence, the tick of a metronome

behind walls crackled with time.

I need a belt of something

ill-advised, and a man to drink with me.

Dump those dying wildflowers out

of the jar and pour. Don’t claim

my icy words are foreign, warm my

non-drinking wrist with your breath.

43


Bekah Steimel

Separation

Years, Geography and Lovers between us

our other selves traveled by osmosis and muscle memory

Monogamous only to desire, to recollection

Yes, faithful only to the blue flag of love

we planted in quicksand

But, what a difference

Years

Geography

Lovers

make.

44


Michelle Hartman

Ode to October

a breath drawn

without labor

sky without

suns death threat

brilliant leaf piles

hint at snakes

packing to leave

breezy portent

of pleasant mums

grackles swarm auditioning

for Hitchcock

their calls

shatter

last, lonely plans

of summer

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For writer biographies / web links, please see the

‘Contributors’ page on our website.

Thank you for reading!

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