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Gerry Stewart

Unarmoured

Their conversation falls to the floor
with lead quotation marks.

On pin-point heels she cut a swath
through the smoke-filled club.

Signature lips of crushed black cherries
dip into his laugh lines.

She wears a second skin of sonnets,
long beads of exotic alphabets
trickling down her neck.

Her hair leaves a trail of seaweed
and sand-filled shells across his bed.

She casts no reflection,
a falling wave.
All he hears is her voice.

Gerry Stewart is a poet, creative writing tutor and editor based in Finland. Her poetry collection Post-Holiday Blues was published by Flambard Press, UK. Her writing blog can be found at http://thistlewren.blogspot.fi/ and @grimalkingerry on Twitter.

Edward Denniston

Mediterranean 

I
Each day a plaque of heat, fragrances –
thyme, jasmine, pine. Godsend of shade,
an offshore breeze.

In a patch of wild oats and dill
a bird we never see
occasionally says phsst phsst.

We’re perched on a hillside.
An unkempt olive grove surrounds
our small pool, a shelf

of concrete and water
over-looking the bay,
excavated into rock.

Behind, a range of arêtes and peaks,
savouring mists,
cosseting snow fields.

Dipped into, passed around,
weathered and lotion-smeared –
there’s a thin paperback

advising us how
the beleaguered life
might be saved

by the prudence
of much maligned Epicurus
in his garden.

II
And one day offshore
there’s an aircraft carrier.
A man with powerful binoculars

saunters up the steps to tell us.
The crew, he says, are fresh-faced
innocent looking men and women

who visit the town, buy souvenirs,
eat and drink, enjoy the nightclubs.
The vessel glistens in the bay.

He holds out the binoculars, invites us
to have a look. Away from their work
he says they’re friendly enough.

III
In a taverna one evening
a woman marks on a map
a small road cut

into a mountain slope;
go there, she says, meet
the watchers, looking south,

who keep the expanse of sea
binocular-close, who record
meticulously.

Sometimes, with backpacks,
they scramble down the sun-baked scree
to the stony beach to greet

the strangers they’ve been waiting for,
strangers who scramble ashore
and stand and wait and hold on to each other.

Edward Denniston has lived and worked in Waterford, Ireland since 1980, the city in which his Presbyterian ancestor from Moatfarrell, Longford travelled to live and preach dissent in the early 18th century. Edward is a recently retired teacher of English and Drama.  He has published three collections of poetry, a book of drama scripts and a libretto.

His publications are: The Point Of Singing (Abbey Press, 1999); Eskimo Advice, an ebook  (Rectory Press & Hayrake Press , 2007) ;  Interacting – 60 Drama Scripts (Russell House Publishing, 2007) ; The Scale Of Things (Salmon Poetry, 2013); For Crying Out Loud (Salmon Poetry, 2017) and Hospital Voices , a libretto with Irish composer Eric Sweeney.

See: edwarddenniston.weebley.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebecca Gethin

Tonewood

I wish we’d walked in the forests of spruce
high in the Alps where wood to make violins
grows tall and straight, a string section
of trees rooted in steepness.

If only we had – me loving the trees,
the shush and roar of wind,
you hearing the sway of notes under your fingers,
putting your ear to the trunks like the forester

who listens for each one’s ring from the heartwood;
the most resonant trees being felled in autumn
when the moon is furthest away
and sap sinks into ground.

We’d guess their ages and wonder
what histories the trees had lived through,
the fall of Napoleon, the rise of Fascism
and if effects of ice-bound winters,

droughts and storms were drawn
in their annular rings. We’d work out
the shapes of the rings inside us,
avoid calculating our survival rates.

 

Rebecca Gethin has written 5 poetry publications and has been a Hawthornden Fellow. Messages was a winner in the Coast to Coast to Coast pamphlet competition.  Vanishings is forthcoming from Palewell Press and she is to run a short course for Poetry School.

Edwin Stockdale

Two Hogsheads
Bowyer Tower,18 February 1478

George, Duke of Clarence, peers
from his cell, his skin coarse,
chapped. He knows he won’t see
his daughter: tall, thin,
the angular face of her mother.

His son Edward’s little footsteps stutter
up the spiral staircase.
Sleet falls from the greylag sky.
Swans glide the Thames
white for the House of York.

Leaving the Tower’s carapace
he doesn’t shiver,
places one foot
in front of the other.

The balm of a Malmsey wine
equal to two hogsheads
swallows him,
his cold eyes stinging.

 

Edwin Stockdale has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham with Distinction.  Two of his pamphlets have been published by Red Squirrel Press: Aventurine (2014) and The Glower of the Sun (2018).  Currently, he is researching a PhD in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University.

@StockdaleEdwin

https://www.redsquirrelpress.com/product-page/the-glower-of-the-sun-edwinstockdale

Peter Kenny

The house of hidden hope

Nan hid her scotch under the sink.
Other secrets she slid between the floorboards.

I’m sad when I pass her old place,
its garden tarmacked for a Nissan car.

How easy to picture her face at the door.
How hidden everything behind her.

What’s left of her is lodged in corners,
wedged-in with mildewed money,

foxed books, broken toys
or tinselled gifts for other kids.

 

Peter Kenny is a poet, playwright and freelance writer working with humanitarian and health clients. His poetry publications include The Nightwork (Telltale Press 2014) and A Guernsey Double (Guernsey Arts Commission 2010), his plays are all black comedies, and include Wrong and A Glass of Nothing. He also writes horror short stories, most recent publication The Dark Fish  appeared in Horla the home of intelligent horror (Nov 2018).  He blogs at www.peterkenny.co.uk

Cara L McKee

My First Kiss

I thought that my first kiss
was required for the rich boy
tearing petals from gardenias
in October, throwing them
from the old bridge into the Wharfe,
wailing that the blooms
would get more kisses from the water
than he would get from me.

He’d never asked and I
wasn’t there for the show
but the highlights were brought to me
in gossip, fast as the water
flows through the Strid.

I was at Eleanor’s party
working up the courage
to cadge kisses from the man
stealing the Jaffa Cakes, retro,
all White Musk and Rainbow.
Was I flattered by the rich boy? Probably,

and I did what was required;
left the rainbows to kiss
the rich boy’s lips, damp and cold,
as if he had kissed the water.

This is what fairytales are made of.
But months before all that,
standing two on a chair
in a Victorian dormer, trying
to see all of Wharfedale

I had whispered
to my beautiful best friend
that I was ridiculously ordinary
and the moors above the town had blurred
as she kissed me.

I clung to her on the wobbling chair
and she laughed, warm as sunshine.

Cara L McKee is from Ilkley, West Yorkshire, but now lives in Scotland and works in her
local library. Cara’s poetry has been published in places including Reach Poetry, The Bitchin' Kitsch, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Speculative Book 2019, 404 Ink, and Picaroon Poetry.

Alison Jones

Once

Once, I was black earth,
made of spores and secrets.
I lived by mother silver birch,
and dreamed to be made
of leaves and bark.
Once, I was a tall tree,
worshipping the sun,
branches brimming joy.

Later I was the shock of blue
in a magpie’s tail, body
chattering with stories.
Later, I knew the footsteps
that follow birdsong,
then creep back to the fireside,
in a choreography of feather trails.

Next, I knew the hearth,
the weight of an eiderdown,
the pearled embers hunkering in.
Everything returns to dust.

I cannot leave, shake off
this shapeshifting particle cloud.
Sooner of later, I will return,
in delicate as a minnow,
in the white stream, threading
through slick rocks,
finding my way.

 

Alison Jones is a teacher, and writer with work published in a variety of places, from Poetry Ireland Review, Proletarian Poetry and The Interpreter’s House, to The Green Parent Magazine and The Guardian. She has a particular interest in the role of nature in literature and is a champion of contemporary poetry in the secondary school classroom. Her pamphlet, ‘Heartwood’ was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018, with a second pamphlet. ‘Omega’ forthcoming in 2019.

https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/alison-jones/4594492474

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