Poem, Poetry

Zoe Parmenter

Snuffed out

Hey, let it go.
We’ve already reeled in that string
that had nothing
on the other end of it.
It won’t drag anymore.
Remember? We pulled it in for mum to see.
Don’t think about its soggy redness
where the wine flopped out of the glass,
like a minnow thrusting itself out of a bucket
to return to its river, to kiss the ivory carpet
and bleed into its cotton.

I swear I had seen that before.
But this is all so brief, I remind you:
a tour on a bullet train
coated in heavy, rooted wax
with flecks of wicks without flames
that refuse
to stay and burn
for long enough.

Zoe Parmenter is a student from the University of Winchester where she discovered her love for poetry under the tutelage of Julian Stannard. She is an emerging writer who was born in Poole, Dorset where the antics of her adolescence now bleed into her work. 

Poem, Poetry

J. S. Watts

City Lightscapes

My body is many cities
built up unconsciously as time travelled through,
arterial highways blaring along my veins,
each struggling rudely for its space in the light
that place where the street lamps shine
their, once dirty yellow, now cleanly focused white
to drive away darkly blurred memories
trying to impose their own no go,
road ahead closed,
on the complicated routes of the heart.
I cannot now say which one was home.
They all were. None.

I have traversed each one equally,
lived inside their laments,
hauling my legs across the heavy grey pavements
of every geographically separate construct,
feeling their individual aches
through the soles of my calloused feet.
Maybe that is why I now choose to walk
forward on greening, mud-squelched paths,
learning the dirt of this settlement
the sky widely illuminated by bird song.

J.S.Watts is a poet and novelist. Her books include: poetry – “Cats and Other Myths”, “Years Ago You Coloured Me”, “Songs of Steelyard Sue” and “The Submerged Sea”, and novels – “A Darker Moon” “Witchlight” and “Old Light”. See www.jswatts.co.uk 

Poem, Poetry

Ciarán O’Rourke

Shadow Play

Through solid weeks
of plague and rage, the earth

a drowning weather-dome,
my private liberty, at home,

has been to rest, mid-
morning, squinting,

as the swallows dance
above me, and beyond –

their shadow-play made whispery
by the bog-reflecting gelatin

of Shannon-water waves,
pushing, slow, and placid

as a dream. Far
from here, the fires scream

inside the mind of redwood trees,
an ashen sigh of sound.

I scan the skyline peaceably,
a grey-

winged, rainy-eyed
dishevelment of cloud,

and count the beeches jutting out
to snare the floating sun.

Stare too long, the colours run.
I lose the plot, and wallow

as loneliness begins –
my sin an outer circumstance

festering within.
O distant reader, skeptic,

take me intimately in:
my meagre, waifing wonder,

my belly-
aching thunder,

as if distilled
poetic anger

were another shade of hunger,
or remorse.

The voice I speak
was built on force.

But ghosting memories

with buried gentleness.
Before the nurses

flurried round, her fingers
fretted softly under sheets:

she fluttered on
in quietness and chitter-talk

to stem all worrying,
then slipped below

to sleep, and final things.
The stone of hers I keep

is lavender, and fleet,
the falling weight

(I adumbrate)
of a wren’s heartbeat

or breathing seed:
a whisper that takes flower

wherever there’s a need,
like the spring-

returning showers
as I stooped to kiss her cheek.

Ciarán O’Rourke lives in Leitrim, Ireland. He has won the Cúirt New Irish Writing Award, the Westport Poetry Prize, and the Fish Poetry Prize. His collection, The Buried Breath, was published by Irish Pages Press in 2018. (www.ragpickerpoetry.net

Poem, Poetry

Rachel Bower

Toxic Blooms
330 Savanna Elephants, 400 Pilot Whales

the whales tiny \ in the aerial footage
silver black mackerels \ shore litter

the elephants \ sleeping toys
trunks greyish \ ready \ for play

bluegreen waterholes \ stunning maps

but on the ground
biologists retched \ wept \

at the bulk \ the curves \ the unbearable weight
rotting \ luxuriant \

the shining \ beaching \ bleaching

herds \ pods \ families
all slacked into sand

Rachel Bower is an award-winning writer based in Sheffield. She is the author of Moon Milk (Valley Press) and a non-fiction book on literary letters (Palgrave Macmillan). Her poetry and short fiction have been widely published, including in The London MagazineThe White ReviewMagmaStand and New Welsh Reader. Rachel is currently editing an anthology with Simon Armitage (Faber & Faber).

Poem, Poetry

Number 1 – Nigel King

Huge congratulations to Nigel King whose poem, The Good Friday Sheep appeared to go viral in November with thousands of views from America putting it firmly in to first place.

The Good Friday Sheep

The nave echoed with bleating.
Sheep crammed into pews;
shaggy Wensleydales, tidy Suffolks,
Blue Texels, Portlands, Border Leicesters.

The air was thick with lanolin
and fresh droppings.
Ryeland wethers nibbled on the hassocks,
a Herdwick Ram scrambled up
to drink from the font.

The sheep looked around
in semi-darkness, saw statues
of bearded elders clutching crooks,
a mural of a younger man
cradling a lamb.

They spotted more lambs,
carved on pillars, headstones,
painted high in the sky
above the multitude, radiant as the sun.

This was their place, built in their honour,
kept from them for centuries
until this day, when they found
the paths and precincts empty,
the great doors swung open.

Neither man nor dog
can take it from them now.

Nigel King lives in Almondbury, Huddersfield. His poetry is shaped by family memories, myth, history and science fiction (amongst other things). His pamphlet, What I Love About Daleks, was published by Calder Valley Poetry (2017). In his day job he is Professor in Applied Psychology at the University of Huddersfield.