A twinge of autumn this morning —
first slit in the stag’s running belly,
first ease in balloon-head pressure,
like the whisper how you will miss
this two-month, headbanging prison
when the winter drags six below,
the squirrely question again
how can you keep heat to eke out,
to let easefully out now and then,
so that the cold is a blessing,
a treasure equal in its spending.
Where can you store it —
childhood delight in adulthood,
trace of tenderness through love,
bare candle flame through the inner night.
Iain Twiddy studied literature at university, and lived for several years in northern Japan. His poems have been published in The Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The London Magazine and elsewhere.
There was no wind ‘til we got on the sands,
By then it was too late to turn back to the car,
Not that we would have done that anyway.
The sky was clear and we used the binoculars
To look out across the water at Inner Farne
And its salt cellar lighthouse. We clambered
Up the dunes, sand slipping beneath our feet
So that we had to crawl up the last few metres
On our hands and knees, clutching at clumps
Of Marram grass for leverage like schoolgirls
In a fight. From the top Bamburgh shimmered
In the distance, blurred by the heat of the afternoon.
We traversed the hair parting paths for a while,
Stopping to look at the flowers and plants,
Checking them in the Seashore book we bought
At Beaumaris, Beeston or somewhere else.
We snapped shots in the pillbox above the beach
And on the way back down we found an old bunker
Silted up with sand and Fosters cans.
We carried on towards the castle, kicking a bouncy
Ball between us, a planet orbiting our galaxy
Until that dog came and snatched it up,
Much to our amusement. When we reached
The castle we climbed once again to the top
Of the dunes and stood for a moment
Looking at its dark, craggy form, built,
We didn’t know then, on Whin Sill,
That stretches back along the route we had driven
That morning to the other side of the Pennines.
For us it went back even further, to those days
At Housesteads when we walked along the wall,
Staring out at the Cheviots and Scotland beyond,
And further back still to that frozen January
At High Force, when we walked through the snow
To the waterfall and the river that flowed to this sea,
As though each day that we had spent had been traced
Through the land, the water and our hands,
Two concordant coastlines banded together by love.
Colin Bancroft is currently living in exile in the North Pennines where he is finishing off his PhD on an ecocritical reading of Robert Frost.
Of course you were born in the Year of the Dragon –
I feel a thrill of satisfaction, but also a chill of cold fire.
These things scare me slightly in their perfection. If you
were not a Dragon, who would be? Your generation all
must be, in their way, but you – you are made of flames.
I was convinced as a kid I could breed a dragon one day
from a lizard and a bat. I dreamt of flying on giant ones,
naming them after Norse gods in my head: Freya, Odin.
My friend asked me recently why I was so into dragons,
and I had no answer. There is just something about them.
And that is you, my glowing, soaring human. You are my
hero because you are a genius and honest and hardworking
and yet there is something more to it, which I doubt I will
ever pin down. Your fingers on the guitar are your wings.
In your words the truth flickers. You show me what is real.
Elizabeth Gibson was announced as a New North Poet at the 2017 Northern Writers’ Awards. Her writing has appeared in Antiphon, Cake, The Cardiff Review, The Compass, Creative Review, Ink, Sweat & Tears and The Poetry Shed. She edits Foxglove Journal and the Word Life section of Now Then Manchester.
At a restaurant
between its kitchen and fine-dining area,
near the billing counter, between the bar
that had a Buddha head between bottles
of brandy, I wrote this
on the back of a duplicate invoice
of a takeaway order (one Veg Rogan Josh
Lamb Goat Biryani ),
the distance between a lamb and a goat
being collapsible space made up of time.
I scribbled it after the last customer
(a lazy brown man in a Tuxedo, farting
his way out to the car park) left.
To my right, unkempt dinner tables –
a bohemian battleground of forks and knives –
beside which lay a graveyard of glasses,
the bar-deck. Guinness, Pedigree…
glasses, but in posterity empty obelisks –
each representing a moment of that day.
Under every glass a mark: a shape
of its own bottom, the instant
of a beer-spill. A mark that said
I happened here. I used an odorous rag
to erase them, before I tallied the day’s
business into profit and pretence.
Shriram Sivaramakrishnan is a proud alumnus of Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. His poems have recently appeared in Allegro, Coast to Coast to Coast, among others. His debut pamphlet, Let the Light In, was published by Ghost City Press this June.
Every day at four they burst the dam, the sound
of the siren demolishing the loaded stillness
of the afternoon air, and from down the road –
squinting into the sun – you’d see them emerge,
a river of a hundred men on bicycles, flowing along
like a grainy film of everyday scenes smuggled
out of communist China, their trousers clipped
securely above the ankles, thermos flasks nosing
between the neat teeth of zips on shouldered bags.
Who knew what on earth they did in there, precisely
which pieces of the mechanism they may have been?
Or fathomed out the metronomic precision that made it
all fit together? As the torrent swam by, each one
making a shadow puppet across the tarmac, their
amber faces shone like zen monks, giving nothing away.
Robert Ford’s poetry has appeared in both print and online publications in the UK, US and elsewhere, including The Interpreter’s House, Brittle Star, Butcher’s Dog and San Pedro River Review. More of his work can be found here
In the long green womb
of over-wintered broad beans,
seeds begin to swell.
Cow parsley fringes
the lane beside the station
where I catch the train.
Walking along routes
we used to take together
feels quite normal now.
You have almost left,
though your body still lies here,
in a bed with rails.
We couldn’t keep up
with the pace you set, climbing
your favourite mountain.
Now, each shallow breath
slips over the precipice
that is your ribcage.
Skin sags from your bones,
unplumped by flesh or muscle,
busy hands wasted.
You are almost there,
scaling the final incline;
I play you music
with trumpets in A major,
to greet your entrance.
I will sow speedwell
into the lining of your coat
for a safe journey.
Hannah Stone has been widely anthologized and published on ezines and in The North, Dreamcatcher and other journals and collaborations. Solo publications include ‘Lodestone’ (Stairwell Books, York, 2016) and ‘Missing Miles’ (Indigo Dreams 2017). She collaborates with poets, composers and broadcasters. In other lives, she is a hillwalker, forager, singer and teacher.
A mounted woodland, baring tiny teeth in fury. Fox and pine-
marten. Waxy badger. A stag, all posture and buff chest, antlers
hung with mourning-jet and glass. Aisles of dulled skates,
and typewriters. A case of Roman coins rubbed smooth of emperors.
I see you stop at a box of arrowheads, fill your hands, and pour.
I get lost in the writing desk – its ink-well, black as tar; its polished top.
We both like the flank of rusting signs along the brick: The Swan Inn;
The Queen’s Head; The Pickled Egg. The chess-set struck
from ivory and gold leaf. We’ve lost an hour, two. We know
the local pub runs out of beef on Sunday afternoons. Still we loiter.
To lift a quill and write our names on air. To rest a palm on a gargoyle
chipped from its clutch on the church roof; rain-gentled, rare.
Cheryl Pearson lives in Manchester. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications including The Guardian, Southword, Poetry NorthWest, and Frontier. She was Highly Commended in the Costa Short Story Awards 2017, and has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her first poetry collection, “Oysterlight”, is available now.
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