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
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,
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
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.
No matter whose bed you die in
the bed will be yours
for your voyage…
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.
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
the sun rises crimson
in another land.
Beyond the snow moon,
‘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
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
the emperors suit laid bare.
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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?
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
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.
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.
mine, it’s about
the fortieth I’ve
done, I think,
say one every couple
of years, say
those set up
on terraces, quad
temporary if you must
but actually in for life,
by height, at the back
if you were tall, that’s all.
I always fought shy
of those visiting
thought they might
be stealing my soul,
or knowing things,
they hid their heads under
black cloth, then struck.
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?
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.
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.
Bethany W Pope
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
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.
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.
We walk through the crime scene where my student was
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.
I stayed up late, wide-eyed to watch
the men land on
Sat in my gran’s yellow
filled more with smoke
I knew how Armstrong felt
struggling in an
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.
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
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
and you’ve got the woman
climbing into bed who says,
please, no more nightmares.
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
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
Pru Bankes Price
Almost a Love Letter
Memory is the proud treasure of wounded hearts
- Marcel Proust
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.
Cara L McKee
(Inspired by a 'secret postcard' from the same art project, reading 'I never liked your
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
in scented gift shops,
wrapped with leafy soaps
and wooden hearts.
your favoured audience
get to hear your poems first.
Every single one
of the hundreds
of plump poetical petals
passes my ears
in your pastel-shaded books.
do you know?
I never liked your poetry.
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.
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
Ode to October
a breath drawn
suns death threat
brilliant leaf piles
hint at snakes
packing to leave
of pleasant mums
grackles swarm auditioning
last, lonely plans
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