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
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.
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
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.
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.
Older, only slightly wiser, less clever.
Lets the duller plants go to seed.
Knows his corvids, knows his orchid names,
some important technicalities.
Nods to fellow villagers, moves on.
No church: the buzzard hill is a chapel
to this strictly-two-pint man.
Friendship has a small crew: all matter.
Hates talk shows. Reads about pods of whales,
falls asleep to downloads of their calls.
Bruach Mhor lives by a loch in the Hebrides. He is transitioning into a seal.
His poems have most recently appeared in The Lake, Plumwood Mountain, Emerald (Monstrous Regiment Publishing, Edinburgh).