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Fizz and Hiss

Today, in a slight change to our normal schedule, we celebrate Johanna Boal’s latest poetry pamphlet from Maytree Press.

There is so much to love about Johanna’s second collection of poems that it’s difficult to summarise in just a brief paragraph. Beneath joyful language were everyday objects mix seamlessly with images of the natural world personified there is a deep sense of nostalgia and understated sorrow from a writer at one with the order of life.

Available now direct from Maytree Shop

Gran’s Pegs

Gran lived in a terraced house
with a ten-foot garden but no grass.
The doghouse was hidden out of sight
behind the tin bin and the outhouse.

It was always the white line that got me —
the cleanest clothes line stretched across the garden
that looked like Gran had bought a new one with every fancy.

But she longed for blue or yellow —
the ones at Woolworths with matching plastic pegs
instead of the wooden ones that split apart
until she pushed the spring back in
with just the tip of her thumb.

She would wince but never moan.
Gran lived near the canal with the stink
of the brewery filling the air. The pegs
hung like pieces of driftwood on the line.
Gran never travelled far.

 

Snowdon

how alluring and mouth-watering.
Face perfect – blood-red full lips, black oval eyes
set out on the pale skin air – sedimentary rocks
thinned out from the sun like sun-kissed freckles.
Loose shale a harsh brow when I slipped, jumping,
shadows fashioned like mascara smudged Snowdon.
The jagged hair mixed with round feminine features
on your ridges. Wind blowing, frost biting, sun glaring.
Me, squinting at the rocks dropping away, death and beauty
edging the floor of the valley. Look – a reflection,
my face on the mountain in the fast-flowing river.

 

Fizz cover

 

 

 

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

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