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Bernard Pearson

At the Seaside in Wales

Oh Borth, you’ re a wild one!
Half in the maw of Cardigan Bay
Those houses like bunting
All strung out for the day.

As between mortar and pestle
Where the sea grinds the land,
Here rock becomes pebble,
And pebble becomes sand.

A Rufty-tufty little town
That lies like the Maginot line
At the end of the salt marsh
Where the sheep come in brine.

And the holiday makers
Run down to the sea.
And remember what it is like.
When they could just, simply be.

Bernard’s work has appeared in many publications including, Aesthetica Magazine and The Edinburgh Review. In 2017 a selection of his poetry ‘In Free Fall’ was published by Leaf by Leaf  Press. In 2019 he won second prize in The Aurora Prize for Writing for his poem Manor Farm.

James Walton

Gypsy Point

where the jetty meanders
brokenly wading
in a high jumper’s roll
a pelican fills up the day
holding a reserve for tomorrow
a word it regurgitates to reflect
out of preening reminiscence
the savour of reliving
tastes of feeding again

while weary anglers return
singing of old regret
that good times are a harvest
pooling about in undefined circles
and knowing it can fly
wherever the fancy
or carefree wind takes it
slurps up a blue eye
an azure fisher flashed over

because it knows it can

James Walton was a librarian, a farm labourer, and mostly a public sector union official. He is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers. His collections include The Leviathan’s Apprentice 2015, Walking Through Fences 2018,  Unstill Mosaics 2019,
and the about to be released ‘Abandoned Soliloquies’.

Mark Totterdell

Allotment Pheasant

Forager for winter greens,
cock of the plot, with a strut
and a swagger that say
he’s bang up to date with the rent.

Fool in a three-colour cap, performing
his knockabout greenhouse routine,
attempting a comedy exit –
thud, thud – through a hard clear pane.

Refugee from the killing fields
out of town, where the shot drops like rain,
where he’s classed by every paying gun
as fine fair game.

Warrior with no comrades,
in subtle armour wrought by no hands,
his precious breast guarded
by a thousand discs of bronze.

 

 

Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won competitions. His collections are ‘This Patter of Traces’ (Oversteps Books, 2014) and ‘Mapping’ (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).

http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/mark-totterdell/4594336680

Vicky Hampton

Beans

It is said the un-named will not grow
unless sung into existence

so maybe I did not sing, didn’t hum
like Aborigines

did not mark the path of their songlines
and dreamtracks in the planting.

Close up, there might have been
some indication of waywardness

an odd crack in the skin, or navel
where they’d held to encapsulated life

where, come March, they’d have put out
a shoot, started up on their own.

But to my naked eye, there was no sign
of anything wrong.

Then one threw a few sick roots
skywards, seeking a spirit-guide

before giving up the ghost –
songlines have a particular direction

and going the wrong way
is said to be sacrilegious. Maybe

the mechanics of those geneticists
caused a malfunction.

Whatever it was, their white skin slips
now, like soap, their insides rotted

to a renal imprint in the soil, as though
some anonymous intelligence had been there.

 

 

Vicky lives in The Forest of Dean where she runs a peer-learning poetry group. She’s performed at various poetry festivals, including Cheltenham, and has been published in several anthologies, magazines and webzines. Her poems have won in various competitions including the Welsh International in 2018.

The Collective Nouns for Birds – 2 Poems

Today we celebrate Amanda Huggins debut poetry collection, The Collection Nouns For Birds with two poems.

Published by Maytree Press and released on the 28 February 2020, this sparkling pamphlet sized collection has already recieved a number of celebrated pre-launch reviews which you can find via the Maytree website here

You can find out more about Amanda and her other award winning writing exploits at her curiously titled blog, Troutie McFishtales here

The Names of Seaweed and
Collective Nouns for Birds

When I saw Da’s salt-licked boots,
frayed cap tossed over the peg,
I’d throw down my satchel,
punch the stiff latch
and crash through the scullery,
knowing he’d be
hauling coal from the cellar,
cheeks smudged with black dust,
strangely clumsy out of water.

The tug of the tide left him breathless
when he stayed too long on the shore,
and he lived among us only half-listening
to our land-locked talk,
always waiting to set sail again.

Sea child, he called me,
his slip of a fish,
as we dived down deep
to the coral beds
where mermaids sang
and jellyfish danced in puffball skirts.

Mam hoped he would turn his back on the tiller,
be coaxed ashore to the herring sheds,
be anchored down by kipper and creel.
Yet Da would never trade his fins for feet.

And when I lie awake on summer nights,
the last of the light
holding out in the western sky,
I hear him recite the names of seaweed
and collective nouns for birds.

In dreams I’m deafened
by a clamour of purple claw,
lured by a charm of oyster thief,
double-crossed by a deceit of devil’s tongue,
chased by a scold of landlady’s wig,
outwitted by a gaggle of dabberlocks.

Then at dawn he slides beneath the waves,
drowning with the names still on his tongue,
leaving me alone once more
to run aground without him.

 

Chris Clarke-with-an-e

I see you by the bar at Amy’s wedding,
an almost-stranger in your married skin,
much taller than I’d thought you’d be:
my all grown up Chris Clarke-with-an-e.

The boy whose kisses stung my lips
with the tang of sherbet lemons,
sharpening my colours behind the vaulting horse.

‘You’re my bird for keeps,’ the love note said,
scrawled with a cheap dip pen
and smudged where you’d folded it too soon.

Now you call my name as I turn to go,
I feign surprise, blush as we gush our shy hellos
and you say I’m looking well.

Then we both walk away, suddenly unsure,
perhaps kept apart by things unsaid,
half-curious to know our different ending:
grown-up me and Chris Clarke-with-an-e.

 

The Collective Nouns for Birds by Amanda Huggins is available direct from the author, on-line from Maytree Press via the shop link below, Amazon and all good bookshops.

Amanda Huggins Cover

Shop

 

 

 

 

 

Alun Robert

Springtime At Love Lane Allotment

Higgledy-pigglety
allotment over-loved
verdants through ochres
weeds across paths
deciduous uncoppiced
leaves deep in dank borders
blossom with fragrance
fresh buds screaming spring
above last year’s residue
over-ripe, unpicked
flight of the honey bee, swallows
everything in sight, on site
a legacy of last legumes
of broad beans, haricots
of cabbage and caulie
sprouting from the warmth
arriving in late spring
blistering sheds unpreserved
tales flailing through doors
unhinged by those ancients
supping leaf builders
from oddments of porcelain
two sugars, full-fat milk
a tradition out there
with natter, much chatter
community gardening
mankind at peace
with nature en frolic
two miles from the sea
two light years from traffic chaos
of downtown Rye roads
higgledy-pigglety.

A Scot of Irish ancestry, Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical free verse achieving success in poetry competitions. His work has been published in British, Irish and American literary magazines, anthologies, ekphrastic responses and the web. He was September 2019 Featured Writer for the Federation of Writers Scotland.

 

 

Jason Conway

By My Hands

My heart sunk to see your selfish demise
You were so strong and a century wise
Respected by hidden dwellers and passers by
A stalwart guardian through cycling elements

When the thundering jagged machine came
No one heard your desperate cries for help
Your trunk mercilessly sucked from its foundations
Roots scattered and torn with a heart left rotting

You were laid to rest without a royal burial
A naked king stripped bare of ridged armour
Fingers pulled defenceless branches without remorse
Like bones severed from a feasted carcass

Your clothes squelched into the muddy ground
Green leaves reduced to boot mud brown
Sun drenched golden splendour to clumpy cold soil
Beheaded swiftly by spinning chains of inquisition

No time spared to mourn your fierce passing
Before your splintered ochre limbs crackled
Piled high for stretched palms to soak rising heat
A days toil rewarded from felling your convenience

A boy realises that his friendly giant has fallen
One that he longed and loved to climb for years
Icy prickles stung in ripples across a bare neck at dark
Until a glazed marshmallow washed his guilt away

Goodbye dear friend that graced my feet
And taught me the joys and trials of adventure
To grow tall and strong, to scale great heights
As your lessons fade to the smoked dreams of night.

 

 

Jason Conway is a passionate eco-poet, artist and designer based in Stroud, Gloucestershire with a deep connection with nature and uses the pen name of The Ink Warrior. Drawing inspiration from life and the natural world, his mission is to encourage people to make a positive difference.