This is where it runs:
the grubby unplugged water,
the dish dregs, the flushed rain
faeces and fat. Sulphite and soap scum,
pampering patchouli and pear blossom,
meat and bleach.
flicked cigarette stumps,
a floated leaf, a stray straw.
A city’s Friday, its Tuesday,
its match day.
Its working week,
its inconvenient sludge.
But just below the iron grid
that is trampled, driven,
replicated over and over,
as green frost on glass –
an unfurled fern, clinging,
stirring its flightless wings,
Its spored underside
is a hundred dragonflies’ eyes
that have known the shark-teeth
of caves, stone-stencilled hands,
charcoaled horse, unhinged jaw,
crown-shy thrones, meteor sky,
deeps of ice, puzzled spine
shadow of Argentavis magnificens:
the bird that thought it was a plane,
show us how to endure
Laura Wainwright is from Newport, Wales. Her poems have been published, or are forthcoming, in a range of magazines, journals and anthologies. She was shortlisted in the Bridport Prize poetry competition in 2013 and 2019, and awarded a Literature Wales Writer’s bursary in 2020 to finish writing her first poetry collection.
Trans limen ad lumen
Sudden sun on stone in drenched Richmond —
a burning bridge. The disintegration has begun.
The low sun on the river is a white flame.
Select your steps with care and move toward the light.
Richard Skinner has published three books of poems with Smokestack: ‘the light user scheme’ (2013), ‘Terrace’ (2015) & ‘The Malvern Aviator’ (2018). His next book, ‘Invisible Sun’, will be published by Smokestack in February 2021.
Like all of them they oiled their words with promises;
in those early days they came with slurry blenders,
equipment that pumped at staggering pressure.
Proppants deployed, backed up with explosive fluids
to get in real deep, to breach cracks in the deepest
formations of our rock. Hydraulic fracturing agents
pinned the tight chalks open until gases streamed out.
We felt the vein-filled shale split beneath us – seismic,
it rattled every disc in our spines. Too many stresses
triggered miniature earthquakes; with one awkward thrust
connate waters flooded through subterranean chambers,
every rib split as hydrochloric acid flushed out vital fibre.
In the mornings we woke to foul lakes of tailings, viscous
aggregates of metal: zirconium, antimony, titanium salts.
When the earth stopped moving, our hollowed-out bodies
were blasted: bones rattle like matchsticks, every cough
froths with toxic sand. It took only one unguarded frack
to contaminate our lifeblood, to turn all our rivers black.
Julian Bishop is a former television journalist living in North London who is a member of the collective group Poets For The Planet. A former runner-up in the Ginkgo Prize for Eco Poetry, he’s one of four prize-winning poets featured in a 2020 pamphlet called Poems For The Planet. He’s also been shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize.
Contact: twitter @julianbpoet
After the Selborne yew came down
the parish plundered the whole thing
like a car sacked for spare parts:
branch and bark became an altar screen
or a silent hanging cross; pilgrims
and druids and day tripping drop-outs
came for whatever small scraps
remained: a well-preserved lance of wood,
seven berries, the stamen’s yellow
and toxic shroud. Consummatum est.
Another scourged Son stripped
of his seamless robe; his woven crown.
For a few more days, it tried growing back
through the hollowed ghost of itself
but those torn-out roots wouldn’t take.
People watched, waited, soon drifted away.
By the churchyard wall, a plaque
marks the day the resurrection failed.
Siegfried Baber was born in Barnstaple, Devon in 1989. Since graduating from Bath Spa University, he lives and works in the city as a freelance writer and photographer. Siegfried’s poetry has featured in a variety of publications including Under The Radar, The Interpreter’s House, Butcher’s Dog Magazine, online with The Compass Magazine and as part of the Bath Literature Festival. His debut pamphlet When Love Came To The Cartoon Kid is published by Telltale Press.
The 72nd Fort Fairfield Potato Blossom Festival
Same old, same old – kid-wrestling in the mashed potato pit,
Matt and Dan squaring up for the Barbeque Cook-Off,
timed by the hands of the old town clock.
Molly-the-Trolley trundles along the historical tour
while the little ‘uns attempt the Tough Tater obstacles.
Line up starts at ten for the parade at noon.
Seventy two years, same weekend in June. This year,
numbers for the Pickin’ Contest are looking thin –
the planting out was thwarted by torrential rain,
potatoes flowered late or came up blind.
Hilary Hares’ poems have found homes online and in print. She has a Poetry MA from MMU and has achieved success in a number of competitions. Her collection, A Butterfly Lands on the Moon supports Loose Muse, Winchester and Red Queen is available from Marble Poetry – www.marblepoetry.com . Her own website is: www.hilaryhares.com
Featured Image: Country Fair by Ray Bird