Poem

James Appleby

Summer After

I bleach the fruit.
Whatever comes into my home
scrubbed, skinned. It lives
on food, kissed cheeks,
the groped handrail of a bus;
it lives in neighbours’ lungs.
Skin sunburn-pink
from how I’ve washed my hands,
this is my summer. Through the window
I watch a boy in a suit of tattoos
his hair lawn-green stretch back against the grass,
speakers and heartbeat synced.
The overflow of clubs onto my road: a woman
piggybacked through bollards, screaming
joyful, pissed of course,
swearing up at lampposts.
Through the glass, the reckless young.
The mark of my fingerprints.
Contaminators hold hands in the street.



James Appleby is a poet and translator. Born in 1993, his work has been published in Primo Poetica and is upcoming in Marble Poetry. His working languages are French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

www.jamesapplebywriting.co.uk

Poem

Marcello Giovanelli

Berries

We hold hands on the long walk home,
you full of learning, eager for the world,
questions bubbling, rising breath.
Pausing by the kerb, you point at
berries, brushed by, ruby red.
‘Are those OK to eat?’, you ask.

I tell you what I know, crude,
not confident, the unexpected
epiphany of my ignorance, the struggle
and the stutter in thick-rayed sun,
a warning barely enough:
‘avoid them all, just to be safe’…

You smile and you believe, cupped
and radiant in the hands of your all-knowing god.
And I wonder what else I might not know;
mysteries, the glow of orange in your mind,
heat creeps out, those hands
dipped in cotton wool, a majesty of clouds.

You’ll re-appear, somewhere in time,
no more a child scraping her heel
against the kerb, but ripe, grown,
now fully vulnerable. And in that moment,
yes, there, right there,
you’ll need a far better answer.

Marcello Giovanelli lives in Leicestershire and teaches English at Aston University in Birmingham. He has published widely on the language of poetry. His own verse has appeared in online anthologies and in privately-printed collections

Poem

Graham Clifford

Samuel wants to know

if it is home time at twenty past nine
and whether or not I am a plant.

I made him fold himself together
and asked into his eyes
if he really wasn’t sure,
watching this time to see.
He really isn’t sure.
The basics are not agreed.

Here might be miles away, or here
but six years ago
which could mean pterodactyls
or Victoria in all the greys
scowling at a commonwealth of bastardisations
in a photocopied middle distance.

His written word vaporises,
grey smudges sink through the page fibres
into another now.

I want to explain to him that I forgot
the swarms of water fleas
doing a golden jig in streams, but
that they never went anywhere.

I want reassure him there is
plenty of time, but that is just for me
and he knows I’m already at least

…ninety-eight, ninety-nine, a hundred!






Graham Clifford is an award winning poet. He was born in Portsmouth, grew up in Wiltshire and lives in London with his partner and two daughters. His pamphlet, Welcome Back to the Country, and full collection, The Hitting Game are published by Seren. His pamphlet collection, Computer Generated Crash Test Dummies is published by The Black Light Engine Room, and his collection, Well, is published by Against The Grain. He has a MA in creative writing from UEA and is a Head teacher. Graham Clifford’s poetry has been described as having ‘coolly brutal frankness.’ His fifth collection, In Charge of the Gun, is published by the Black Light Engine Room. www.grahamcliffordpoet.com  

Poem

Hélène Demetriades

In my world

Let me slip past an old orchard,
past chalets which creak in the breeze,
skip down the hill to school

in a bright blue cardigan,
April unbuttoned, the snow quilt
thrown off,

there’s a rat corpse on the wall,
I catch my breath at the heave-sea
flesh, maggots devouring it to bone tracery.

I bob up beyond the cable car track,
past the dachshund behind the doctor’s
meshed gate, his bright square of lawn,

cross over the high street, and before
reaching school, rub shoulders with
the corner kiosk, its foil-wrapped têtes-choco.

At lunch, on the way home, I’ll buy one,
bite into the dark chocolate cranium,
tongue plunging into white sticky froth,

and at the dipped crossroads, my best friend and I,
we’ll sip from the fountain’s spout, sit on the lip
of the stone trough, dangling our legs in eternity,

eyeing the dark, set apart chalet abutting
the gush-rock stream – hearts skipping a beat –
because that’s where the witch lives.

Hélène’s debut collection ‘The Plumb Line’ will be published by Hedgehog Press in 2022.  She’s been in a variety of magazines including Envoi, Poetry Shed, Dream Catcher, Dreich, Snakeskin, Ink Sweat & Tears, Obsessed With Pipework and One Hand Clapping.  She was highly commended in the Poetry On The Lake competition 2021.

Poem, Poetry

Gareth Culshaw

UPSIDE DOWN, INSIDE OUT

He wore a hat on each foot.
Put socks on his hands.
When the neighbours saw him
he said he got dressed with his
eyes closed.

Some said when his wife died
he found out who he wasn’t.
The pool cue he carried between pubs
stayed in the hallway, leaned against
the wall like an umbrella.

He still washed her clothes
and hung them out on the line.
If the postman knocked he answered
him through the bay window.
Took his post via his mouth.

If it rained he swapped his hat
and socks. If the sun came out he
swapped them back. But if frost
came he did not know what to do,
so left them at home on the sofa.



Gareth lives in Wales. He has two collections by FutureCycle called The Miner & A Bard’s View. He is a current student of Manchester Met.