Poetry

Carola Groom

Earth Science News

It says on the news
small things are dying.
Insects and human sperm
are three-quarters gone.

I will plough my fears
into the earth. I will shake
kisses from an envelope
and plant them on you.

Flowers grow on your face,
bright and rampant but
they brown and shrivel.
Seed-heads swell and burst.

Oh husbandry! How the spores
rattle as they fly, six legs
like wind-chimes and wings
of rainbow cellophane!

But that cold hill I ploughed
is barren, as the Romans knew
and others have since learned.
In the brackish furrows

my fears grow wriggling tails
and burrow deep by instinct,
till questing little heads
meet the ovum at the core.

It says on the news
there’ll be a slowdown
in our planet’s rate of spin.
Next year I harvest earthquakes.

 

Carola Groom is a Saddleworth-based writer and social researcher. She writes novels and poems, and has some experience as a book reviewer and leader of creative writing sessions in schools.

 

Poetry

Stella Wulf

Inspired by the photographs of Dutch photographer Niki Feijen

An Unfinished Story

What dreams died here beyond this threshold
where nature is carried by circumstance?
A full moon lights the skillet on the stove,
its crusted pancake of droppings,
waiting to be tossed.

The moon tells us they left without coats.
They hang in the cupboard like tattered bats,
an intrigue for spiders, a safe house for mice,
empty shells for silver fish.

Mildew soils the children’s clothes,
runs amok in their vests and socks,
grows out of their shoes, foxes
their games and books.

In the bedroom the moon is a nightlight
for the mind’s incredulous eye.
Moss pads soft over rugs,
creeps onto the unmade beds,
smothers the absence with a velvet pillow.
Ivy clings to the bars of the cot.

Nature squats in this dereliction, possessed
with the spirit of a wild child, it’s her haunt now.
At home with ruin, desertion, mystery,
she scrawls over the unfinished story,
writing her own gripping chapters,
a ghost writer filling the gaps in the plot.

 

Stella Wulf’s poems are widely published both in print and online, and appear in several anthologies including, The Very Best of 52, three drops, Clear Poetry, and forth coming in #MeToo. She Lives in S W France and has an MA in creative writing from Lancaster University.

 

Poetry

Ian Harker

Lovesong of a Wily Old Pike

Pike from the tips of my grinning lips
to the ends of my tail, children running riot
over the open fields, drunks lurching home
from the Fisherman’s Arms talk about me with awe.
They say I am mostly scar. The way they talk you’d think
grown men had been dragged to their deaths over the ditch
across the lane into my dark, bright, stinging water
singing with blowflies and midges and water boatmen.

But no one bothers me. Never has.
I loom in the gloom and make the best of it,
threshing up silt into clouds around me
and settling in with the stillness.

Why do they call me wily if I have never
bitten off more than I could chew?
If me and the silt are one and the same?
I tell you I’m a cunning old devil
for picking a pond in a field near a lane
next to a road leading to a village where everyone
leaves everything around them alone.
People who know the land is bigger than they are,
water deeper, stone colder,  people who know
that pikes have their place. I’m a wily old pike it’s true.

 

Ian Harker was a winner of Templar Poetry’s Book and Pamphlet competition in 2017, and his pamphlet The End of the Sky was followed by his fist full collection Rules of Survival. His work has appeared in a variety of competitions and magazines, and he’s co-founder of Strix.

 

 

Poetry

Ken Evans

Waiting at Manchester Piccadilly

Platform 3 under Arrivals: the digital board
slides down a blazing candle-wick of all
the stations on the Trans-Pennine line:
Leeds, Bradford, Dewsbury, Huddersfield.

A grandchild cranes to see Nana through
tall legs, orbited by a crowd; a couple greet
for a first time; a group of lads go for beer
and curry and always, there is later.

Prosecco-fired hens from Stoke blow
into an inflatable man-doll; Nana appears
at the gate, her metal of news bent
inward, pendolino-style.

 

 

Ken Evans – Ken won Battered Moons and was runner-up in Poets & Players in 2016.
‘The Opposite of Defeat’ (Eyewear) featured work shortlisted in Bare Fiction’s pamphlet competition. A collection is due this summer. His poems feature in Envoi, Under the Radar, Lighthouse Literary Journal, The High Window, Obsessed with Pipework, and Interpreter’s House.

 

Poetry

Jo Haslam – Two Poems

 

Today we are delighted to feature two poems from Jo Haslam’s brand new collection, Fetch, published by Templar Poetry. The book will be launched with a special reading at Keats House on the 29 March. The collection draws on urban and rural landscapes, the world of painting, and experiences of displacement and loss to explore the evolving ties between family, culture and language.

 

Hoar Frost 

Whatever was lost to the open sky
is replaced by these drops of ghost water,
ice in its dreamstate blown from the mouth
of winter asleep, spreading its network
of furred spikes of moss and blanched fern.
What would it take to freeze each pearl
or fretted grass blade or touch them awake
to a world of rain? We look to the sky
laden with frost and cloud to release
its cold breath as whisper or iron word

 

 

Fritillary

What’s the meaning of this flower
that folds and opens in an hour
between showers
 

and sun, between the months
of March and April?
I push the bulbs eight inches down
 

to work with other hidden things
under earth and dark and stone
then take my paper and my pen
 

much as any gardener does
note the barely there green stem
the dangled fretwork of its head


as from the rain black ground
comes leper lily, meleagris
fritillus
, with its snakeskin on.

 

 

Jo Haslam – Jo is a Marsden based poet whose first collection Light from the Upper Left was published by Smith/Doorstop after winning the Poetry Business competition in 1994. This was followed by her collection The Sign for Water and a pamphlet Lunar Moths. Her work has appeared in poetry magazines and received recognition in major poetry competitions, including the 2010 National Poetry Competition where her poem ‘Wish’ won joint second prize. He third collection, Fetch, published by Templar Poetry is available now.

 

Poetry

Sarah Dixon

Our new house from the ale trail train

I spot it.
Know about over-dwellings
and this means we only own it
from the first floor.

Our attic window is open
and I see you wave.
You must be on a stool to do this.
Precarious.

I can’t always be there
to hold you
to warn you
not to reach up
as high as you can.

With a wobble of legs
I watch you grip the rim
and imagine you topple
and
fall

h
a
r
d

and
heavy.

I hear the impact of the earth.
Know you would not survive this.

I will you back in,
your bruised shins,
your dimpled bum,
your fingernails with an under-dwelling of soil
gathered by mud pie break-times
with new friends I can’t yet name.

I know what the front of our house looks like,
anyone who has travelled on the 184
and looked out at the right moment
on Manchester Road could know
the Yorkshire stone,
but only I can identify
our home from the back.
I know it is two along
from the one with the conservatory
loud with toys
and bright with wind-chimes.

I know it is fourth from the end
and we watch the trains
from the breakfast bar,
make notes of the times,
tick off journeys.

We bash Colne Valley mud
from our boots.
Each walk adds a layer
to our exploration,
each return means
a night of good sleep,
held down by the weight of fresh air
and Yorkshire expanse
that makes us drunk.

Our legs muscle
as we get used to hills.

We do not walk there
on autopilot yet.
We are remembering
each time we return
that our number is changed,
that this white stone front
is ours.

The click of the black cast iron gate,
instead of the clunk
of the wooden green one
back in Manchester.

 

 

Sarah L Dixon is based in Linthwaite near Huddersfield and tours as The Quiet Compere. She has been most recently published in Confluence. Her first book, ‘The sky is cracked’, was released by Half Moon Press in November 2017. Sarah’s inspiration comes from being close to water and adventures with her son, Frank (7).

 

http://thequietcompere.co.uk/

 

Poetry

Maria Isakova Bennett

It was a Sunday Night and the Hospital was Short Staffed

Hooked to a drip,
she abandons her father’s mizpah ring
into my hand,

falls back onto a pillow
and labours whispers that make no sense.
At midnight, a priest scurries to her bed.

I sit, stand, sit, until a nurse guides me
to a visitor’s room. In darkness,
at two in the morning hot tears slide to my ears,

while an on call surgeon gives her one last chance.
I shiver in the heat of June
and she’s out of it in morphine.

After thirty years of daily offerings,
when I need God, prayers come cold and rote,
pleas remain in my mouth.

A steady voice asks about next of kin,
a pen draws a line across a page
and I taxi home to my daughters.

*

Sometimes I sit with her possessions:
folded paper with one stitch of ribbon
marks her twenty first birthday in 1943,

a card signed from family whose names
are as obsolete as themselves:
Cissy, Gertie and Albert.

On special occasions, I wear
a blue silk jacket,
handmade for her the year I was born.

 

 

Maria Isakova Bennett

Maria, from Liverpool, is widely published and has won and been placed in several international competitions. Last summer Maria was awarded a Northern Writers’ Award by Clare Pollard and launched a limited edition stitched poetry journal, Coast to Coast to Coast. Her pamphlet, All of the Spaces is published by Eyewear.


http://www.mariaisakova.com/coast-to-coast-to-coast-journal/

www.mariaisakova.com

https://store.eyewearpublishing.com/collections/eyewear-pamphlet-series/products/all-of-the-spaces