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Sam Payne

The Skeleton Family at Ancient Kourion

They were found like this.
As if they lay down to sleep

their bones interlaced
as if dreams could erase centuries.

His skull is broken, his pelvis
smashed, his ribs misshapen

and snapped, but his left humerus
and femur still lie over her.

She still has all her teeth
and keeps the infant tucked

under her ribs. In place
of her heart.

The tip of her nose touches
the tiny skull.

Little bone fingers grip
her elbow.

In life, the early sunlight bathed
their room.

The father wore a ring inscribed
with the first two letters of Christ.

The mother wore a silver pin in her hair.
The baby’s teeth were still coming through.

 

 

Sam Payne is a writer living in Devon. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing with Teesside University through their distance learning programme. Her poems have appeared in several places online including, Ink, Sweat and Tears and The Open Mouse.

You can find Sam on Twitter at @skpaynewriting.

 

Rachel Burns

Arthur’s Seat Coffins

You carved them out of wood, whittling
little doll faces, hand stitching clothes onto bodies,
gave each a coffin, buried them at the brow of the hill.

You did it to remember the children dug from their graves
the children strangled in their beds by Burke and Hare.
You tried to save them from Limbo, from the fires of Hell.

Now you see your doll children in a museum.
You hear them calling to you tap tap tap on the glass
their high pitched notes, like birds trapped in a net.

 

Rachel’s poems have appeared in UK literary magazines including The Lake, South, Head Stuff, Lonesome October, South Bank Poetry and The Herald newspaper. She was shortlisted for the Keats- Shelley Poetry Prize 2017.

Rachel Tweets at @RachelLBurnsme

 

 

 

Georgie Woodhead

Sunbridge Road

There are mothers stood arms-folded,
hard-buckled hands and tongues like blisters,
there are liver spots on the fat skin of their
calves when the wind flaps white dress around
their legs, dirty bedsheets on washing lines.

Men stood on the clumsy cobbles of alley ways,
he is swaying, facing the bricks that are slimy with
moss and the drip of black drainpipes, he turns
around and grins as he pulls up his zipper, finished
making steam against the dead weeds of concrete and stone.

A couple stood by the side of the road.
She is wearing a lilac that trips over the wind and ripples
around her knees, like the mother before her, she is leaning
up on her tip-toes as the bus screeches past, the reflection of her
red nails gripped around his shoulders, like blossom.

And he wheels his shopping trolley along crazy
paving like cracks in a broken heart, one wheel
always spinning out of control, a circus ride gone
wrong. Boxes of Shreddies, kitchen roll, dog food, five
six packs of beer, one sole flapping against the pavement
in a drumbeat like busking, he is stockpiling supplies he will never need

he is preparing for the downfall of this country that he will never get to see.

 

 

Georgie Woodhead is fifteen years old and has lived in Sheffield all her life. She has always written since a very young age and when she was thirteen years old she started attending Sheffield young writers. In 2017 she attended an Arvon writer’s residential course, along with a group of other young writers.

 

Robert Etty

Planes Flying Over

In my aircraft phase I’d lie on my back
in the neighbours’ dandeliony grass
(we shared a path between our gardens)
and scour skies the blues of Humbrol paint lids
for the floating delta or quick, silver cross
of a Meteor, Javelin, Canberra, Lightning,
any V-bomber or anything else
on the flightpath to or from RAF Binbrook,
which even by country bus wasn’t far.

Often in summer after a meal
my dad would come down without his jacket,
bringing some stale crust or bacon rind,
and sit on the bench against the nest box
and watch his black hens in the run.  He’d say,
‘Never mind aeroplanes – chuck some bread in,’
and break me a piece to slot through the wire,
and the hens would scuttle over and peck it,
fling it into the air and bicker.
I’d lean beside him and feel his warm shirt
and join in watching the hens.  When they’d gulped down
the bread or rind they’d go back to scratting
at the bald earth, scraping for worms or shoots
that weren’t there, stabbing between their claws.

Their squawks, clucks and warbles explained, if we
listened, the pointlessness of searching again,
and apologised, but they couldn’t help it.
I’m listening now, and they’re still explaining
how these days you need to keep doing and trying
because if you stop there’ll be nothing.
There they are, under a wide sky near Binbrook,
scratting the same few square yards.

 

 

Robert Etty lives in Lincolnshire. His latest collections are A Hook in the Milk Shed and Passing the Story Down the Line (both Shoestring Press).

 

Alison Jones

Repeat

They tried to conjure the night before.
Inside the house cool, brimming with aromas
of damp stone floors, polished wood, Brasso.
Outside, slanted yew, snaking branches, bright berries.

After lights out, a full moon, phosphorescent skies,
percussion that shook the whole house,
impact, metal on metal, air choreography;
clap, shock, barrage, thunder.  Silence.

In the morning, nothing there,
though they searched for precipitate fuselage;
crippled fenders; the plateau of a carcass;
any kind of augury; a simple sign, or token.

Downstairs together, wearing sleep and twisted sheets,
clasped palms raining, blood knocking a quickstep,
Eveready flashlights fumbled from dark caverns,
door chinked open. Two shadows, shocked awake;

wondering. Maybe the dead don’t really depart.
Things repeat, play out. Carry on as big as life.
Soon they moved on, sold up with well-reasoned alibis,
the successors’ innocence, a probable blessing.

 

 

Ali Jones is a teacher, music lover, and mother of three. Her work has appeared in Proletarian Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin Poetry, Atrium, Mother’s Milk Books, Breastfeeding Matters, Green Parent magazine and The Guardian. Her pamphlets Heartwood and Omega are forthcoming with Indigo Dreams Press in 2018.

 

 

Matthew Paul

The Steepler

a John Player League match between Surrey and Glamorgan at the BAC Ground, Byfleet, 25 July 1976

Off some military medium
portly Intikhab Alam,

erstwhile captain of Pakistan,
peremptorily entertains

in his cultured slogger way,
breathlessly tortoises

between the creases
to the beer-tent’s delight;

skies a friendly full toss
so unbelievably high,

electricity-wire high,
that it’s never coming down,

it’s never coming down,
it’s never coming down . . .

until it plummets
like a cartoon anvil

straight through the hands
of deep mid-wicket –

who’ll be beneath it
forever in his dreams –

to make a foot-wide crater
in the cow-corner dust.

 

 

Matthew’s collection, The Evening Entertainment was published by Eyewear Publishing in 2017, and he is a participant on the Poetry Business Writing School programme. Matthew is also the author of two collections of haiku and co-writer/editor of Wing Beats: British Birds in Haiku, published by Snapshot Press. He tweets @MatthewPaulPoet and blogs at https://matthewpaulpoetry.wordpress.com/.

 

Tim Taylor

Stone

Anvil black on purple sky
aloof, alone:
a picture
buried in forgotten time
a seed sown deep and early
tendrils creeping
binding silently
to bone, roots
put down to rock
strong but elastic
infinitely long
allowing me to roam
unhindered, unaware
of what had grown inside:
not a tether
but a safety line
that dragged me back
when I was lost
and sinking,
here, to this hill
this boulder, home.

 

 

Tim lives in Meltham and is involved with Marsden Write Out Loud and Holme Valley Poets. He has published poems in various magazines (e.g. Orbis, The Lake) and collections and won the National Association of Writers Groups Open Poetry prize in 2016. Tim has also published two novels. 

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