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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 a young writer from Sheffield who attends Hive’s Sheffield Young Writers. She was one of two highly commended young poets in the Cuckoo Northern Writers Award 2018. She was a winner of the Foyle Poetry Prize 2018 and came 2nd in the young people’s category of the Ledbury Poetry Competition 2018. Georgie has been published in Hive anthologies, halfway smile and wild poetry. She’s performed at various young writers’ events, and festivals including the Ted Hughes Poetry Festival 2018.

 

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. 

Links:

 

Mike Farren

A year with no head

When your head is removed, you need to think fast,
about what you’re going to think with; you can think
with your heart, your gut, your sex, your spleen…
I’ve heard people call the sphincter a second brain.
I would struggle to trust its judgement beyond
the most fundamental.
When I knew I needed
to spend a year with no head, I outsourced my thinking
to a start-up in some village I’d not heard of,
somewhere in the South Pennines. Their portfolio
of strategies for handling archetypal
scenarios was impressive – crowd-sourced from
multicultural networks of practical, creative
and mystical thinkers, capable of delivering
twists on bog-standard Abrahamic mythopoeia,
even going beyond common or garden western pagan,
while remaining staunchly incomprehensible
to plodding sequential logic.
I was sold.
Now,
I am thinking (which, I realise, is to say, they
are thinking for me) about leaving my head off
long-term. Let it concentrate on growing itself
a hipster beard, or whatever heads do, once they stop
having to be bothered with thought.

 

Mike Farren’s poems have appeared in journals and anthologies, including The Interpreter’s House, The High Window and Valley Press’s Anthology of Yorkshire Poetry. His debut pamphlet, ‘Pierrot and his mother’ was published by Templar Poetry. He publishes under the Ings Poetry imprint and hosts the Rhubarb open mic in Shipley. 

Website: http://www.mikefarren.co.uk/ 

Twitter: @mikefarren

Janet Hatherley

Leaving 68 Tangier Road

Our house empties out into the removal van.
We watch it drive off, sleep on bare floorboards
in blue nylon sleeping bags borrowed from next door,
our voices echoing off the walls.

The next day we board the Flying Scotsman in clouds
of noisy steam, head North – change at Darlington, admire
Stephenson’s Rocket.  Then a train to Thornaby.  7 Baffin Court
is finished, one of the first on the estate slowly going up

on an aerodrome abandoned after the war.
The sofa won’t go through the front door.  A sofa in the garden!
I take a photo of Caroline sitting on it, in black and white.
Mum puts an ad in the paper.  She digs the garden, yard by yard –

clods of clay one foot square – hoes and rakes in wellingtons,
plants grass seed, turns a white sink into a pond.
I hang over the fence, say Hello to Lynne next door.  She’s only three,
says, If you don’t stop talking posh I’ll smash yer face in.  

I miss my best friends, Nellie and Lesley, Ian and Gregory, the city –
receive a big brown envelope filled with letters from my class,
read how life is going on without me, see the rubbings out,
sharpen my pencil, write back.

I am nine years old, my youngest brother not yet born.
I make my plans to take my bike and run away,
catch the train down South, sleep on East Sheen Common
through the summer.

The only thing stopping me is the knowledge that
I can’t get on the train without a ticket.

 

Janet Hatherley lives in London and is a special needs teacher.  Her poems have been published in several magazines, including Artemis, Ink Sweat & Tears, Obsessed With Pipework and South Bank Poetry. She won third prize in the Barnet poetry competition, 2015 and was commended in Cannon Poets Sonnet or Not, 2017.  She has work forthcoming in The Curlew and in Under the Radar.

 

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