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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

 

 

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 Cotton Grass Appreciation Society

Today we celebrate the launch of our first anthology, The Cotton Grass Appreciation Society. Published by Maytree Press, the collection features forty seven poems inspired by the South Pennine landscapes, towns and people. The book features poems by Simon Armitage, Tom Weir, Hannah Stone, Jo Haslam, Gaia Holmes and many more. We’ll be celebrating the launch today with editors, David Coldwell and Mark Kelley at the Marsden Walking Festival where an array of poets featured in the collection will be joining us at Marsden Library from 6pm. Join us if you can.

You can order your copy now direct from our on-line shop – dare we say; it makes a perfect stocking filler.

At the Kitchen Table

The late spring snow
catches us off-guard,
drifts against the henhouse wall,
blots out the distant moors.

And here, in this borrowed house,
we watch, transfixed,
brave the blizzard
to throw scraps for the birds,
half-wishing it could always be like this.

Just you and I
at the kitchen table—
your crossword, my novel,
the weekend papers,
the last bottle of oak-aged red
waiting on the shelf.

Yet we know
the snow will thaw by morning,
and we’ll drive down the lane
for bread and logs,
ice-melt from the trees
pattering on the bonnet.

Then, too soon,
the workday grind will call us back
to the small house in the town,
where everything is a little less bright
and a little less kind.

As we leave,
the weather will change again,
the brilliant shine of it
making us smile,
and I’ll point out a newborn lamb,
his ears luminous, backlit by the sun,
as he watches us drive away.

Amanda Huggins

 

9781916038141

Janet Hatherley

Leaving 68 Tangier Road

Our house empties out into the removal van.
We watch it drive off, sleep on bare floorboards
in blue nylon sleeping bags borrowed from next door,
our voices echoing off the walls.

The next day we board the Flying Scotsman in clouds
of noisy steam, head North – change at Darlington, admire
Stephenson’s Rocket.  Then a train to Thornaby.  7 Baffin Court
is finished, one of the first on the estate slowly going up

on an aerodrome abandoned after the war.
The sofa won’t go through the front door.  A sofa in the garden!
I take a photo of Caroline sitting on it, in black and white.
Mum puts an ad in the paper.  She digs the garden, yard by yard –

clods of clay one foot square – hoes and rakes in wellingtons,
plants grass seed, turns a white sink into a pond.
I hang over the fence, say Hello to Lynne next door.  She’s only three,
says, If you don’t stop talking posh I’ll smash yer face in.  

I miss my best friends, Nellie and Lesley, Ian and Gregory, the city –
receive a big brown envelope filled with letters from my class,
read how life is going on without me, see the rubbings out,
sharpen my pencil, write back.

I am nine years old, my youngest brother not yet born.
I make my plans to take my bike and run away,
catch the train down South, sleep on East Sheen Common
through the summer.

The only thing stopping me is the knowledge that
I can’t get on the train without a ticket.

 

Janet Hatherley lives in London and is a special needs teacher.  Her poems have been published in several magazines, including Artemis, Ink Sweat & Tears, Obsessed With Pipework and South Bank Poetry. She won third prize in the Barnet poetry competition, 2015 and was commended in Cannon Poets Sonnet or Not, 2017.  She has work forthcoming in The Curlew and in Under the Radar.

 

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