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First Kiss – Cara L Mckee

Today we celebrate the launch of the latest collection from Maytree Press, Cara L McKee’s stunning debut, First Kiss.

Heartfelt and passionate, First Kiss invites the reader on a journey of discovery and sexual awakening. Whilst the central theme may be one of coming of age, the collection evolves into a heartbreaking antiphon for independence and survival. A wonderful accessible collection that deserves to be enjoyed again and again and with cover artwork by leading British artist, Annie Ovenden, one to be cherished for years to come.

You can join Cara for an on-line launch of the collection today (Friday) via her Instagram page – search CaraLMcKee. The book is also available from the Maytree shop

 

I took from the sea

I took from the sea
you, my fisherman-sailor
patterned with koi fish,
needled into human clay
which reddens, washed by water.

I gave you kisses,
needled Xs into skin
to remember flesh,
to mark the spots I miss you,
still kiss you on the water.

I took from the sea
your hot kisses which returned,
washed out by the waves.
Your fish swirl into sea.
Kisses fade, washed in water.

I gave my sailor,
kissed him deep into the sea,
all the coy kisses
needled into white clay bone
fading, gone to the water.

Nick

who wasn’t me though we were born
on the same day, lived in the same house. Nick,
today I saw you on screen. You were
alive, so alive that I Googled you.
Did you know online our birthday’s wrong?
Did you let loose that year with a shrug?
Did you lie? Flutter your lashes
make yourself pretty? Did you do that for them?
You did that for me once. We might have been
joking about being carved from the same clay
until that morning. You came early,
bringing me your fears of all you’d given
in the night – your stories, hardly set, untold.
We kissed them right again, remade you as
the man you claimed to be, a dazzle
in our small world as we climbed together
shifting our horizons. As the dew soaked us
you pulled your stories straight. That was all, and
much later, I did not feel you go, which
was proof really, that all our similarities
didn’t make us the same. You are done, Nick.
I am told death was not your doing, yet
I blame you. It’s your turn to prove me wrong.

 

 

 

The Kingdom – Matt Duggan

To celebrate the latest release from Maytree Press we welcome Matt Duggan back to the Village with two poems from his latest collection.

Released on the 10 April 2020, The Kingdom has already received some wonderful reviews and you can read the latest by Glynn Young here

The Kingdom is available now direct from the author or from the Maytree Shop with free UK post and packing. Each book comes with a free art card featuring the cover art by David Coldwell. Inside the shop you’ll also find The Ghost Hospital by Pauline Rowe and The Collective Nouns for Birds by Amanda Huggins – both recently shortlisted in the 2020 Saboteur Awards and currently fighting it out for top prize. Why not treat yourself and vote for your favourite. Maytree Shop

Reflections on my 49th Year

I dreamt that we were once beautiful
kicking white leaves in autumn daylight —
collecting cloud speech bubbles
while we danced on crystal paths of sun
allowing the breeze to ease around my body.

Hear that sound — like birds in flight
whispering as the rats are singing;
ears have sharpened teeth
when time can be so ruthless?

How praise became a crooked blade —
a reflection held inside a tinted mask
that only smiled at its own self-deception.

We hear the price of folly
stripped away as a disguise for a dime of popularism —
how those actors came and went —
like changing costumes in a badly performed
tragedy of somebody else’s life.

 

Drinking with Dylan

Floor and bar look exactly the same;
I see a black and white picture of you
holding a lily-white tankard
sitting where I am sitting today.

Mirrors are still hanging in some of the same places
if slightly jarred by the front door;
broken neon sign outside the Tavern
flashing with an irregular luminous beat.

The white clock behind the bar
has miraculously stopped at 19.53
where we smell corndogs and cigarettes —

drilling men with blue and yellow safety hats
curse the sounds drifting by cement gaps
in large windows and high silver towers

peaking skyward into a bright red diesel mass
where aluminium shaped angels filled my sky.

 

 

Matt was born in Bristol 1971 and now lives in Newport, Wales with his partner Kelly. His poems have appeared in many journals including Potomac Review, Foxtrot Uniform, Dodging the Rain, Here Comes Everyone, Osiris Poetry Journal, The Blue Nib, The Poetry Village, The Journal, The Dawntreader, The High Window, The Ghost City Review, L’ Ephemere Review, Confluence, Marble and Polarity. In 2015, Matt won the Erbacce Prize for Poetry with his first full collection of poems Dystopia 38.10 (erbacce-press). Matt won the Into the Void Poetry Prize in 2017 with his poem, Elegy for Magdalene. 

Matt has previously published two chapbooks: One Million Tiny Cuts (Clare Song Birds Publishing House) and A Season in Another World (Thirty West Publishing House). In 2019 Matt was one of the winners of the Naji Naaman Literary Prize (Honours for Complete Works). His second full collection Woodworm (Hedgehog Poetry Press) was published in July 2019.

 

king close

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Clint Wastling – Layers

Today we celebrate the ninth release from Maytree Press.

Clint Wastling’s Layers takes the reader on a journey of discovery. From the far flung corners of the Mediterranean to the North East coast of England, Clint’s poems seek to uncover not just the hidden secrets of our landscape but also scratch beneath the layers of emotions formed by the author’s own relationships with both family and place.

A wonderfully assured debut that brings a raft of images coupled with that faint smell of sea air.

Featuring wonderful cover art by Ian Burdall, Layers is now available direct from the author or on-line from out shop here

We’ll have news of the official launch event in the new year.

You can find out more about Clint by visiting his website here

 

Fossil

There is something military about the waves today,
Uniformly attacking, grinding the applauding pebbles.
My eyes pick out a fossil preserved in fallen rock,
A spiral of immortality, decay in andante.

I wish I were a Mesozoic ammonite charting vast
Tropical oceans in search of food, a mate and meaning.

Waves whisper to the wind which caresses my skin.
Shore and sea with my thoughts lying on wave crests
Drawn then dashed, drawn, diminished again.

Saint Hild froze heathen snakes in your form.
Darwin saw your evolution from great sea-worms.
Children sell you to shop weary tourists,
But I imagine you alive in Jurassic oceans
Knowing nothing of extinction, men or gods.

 

Bricklayer

English, header, stretcher, Flemish bond,
he taught me the basic stack before a brew
of builder’s tea and a fag break drew all to
the Portacabin.
If he could lay five hundred bricks
he’d get a full day’s pay.
Through all but the worst of weather
he’d work long hours, fingers taped,
shammy gloves kept out the lime,
bed of mortar, brick, tap, level.
He could halve a brick with one rap of the trowel.
Before he died,
dad listed houses, bungalows, schools,
a cold war bunker
but his first, he spoke of fondly,
flats on Bricknall Avenue whilst
apprenticed to old Jack Mather.
Perhaps he thought we’d photograph them all.
Make the mortar
mix sand and lime: 3:1 – blend in the water.
I see him now, his thin frame,
a shock of auburn hair
and fingers which
built brick on brick to house his every dream.

 

Kayleigh Campbell

Today we celebrate the launch of the Maytree pamphlet Keepsake from Leeds based writer Kayleigh Campbell. Described as a haunting debut, the poems in Keepsake vividly illustrate the journey of a young women into parenthood. Themes of loss, love, anxiety and transition are underscored by the brutality of post-natal depression and family break-up. Written with heartbreaking honesty, this is a collection that will stay with you long after the last page.

You can purchase a copy of Keepsake from the Maytree shop here

There will be a special launch event in Leeds on the 12 September – details here

Kayleigh will also be at Waterstones in Huddersfield to celebrate National Poetry Day on October 3 2019 where she will be reading and signing copies of Keepsake and discussing some of the themes and issues raised in the book.

 

Baptism

People asked if we were going to Christen you.
Though my father believes in redemption to get to heaven

and that temptation keeps the path straight to hell
and though I can see the appeal of bodies

huddled together in pews each longing
for the same kind of belonging

and in turn belonging together,
I sin and I’m peaceful for that.

There is no man in my sky, only clouds
that darken then scatter like clockwork.

But here in this bath, as your dad
holds you to my breast

I almost go to sprinkle water
upon your newborn head.