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Martin Bewick

A Viewfinder

The pasture greyed, the rattling beck mute
behind secondary glazing, the fizz of pylons too,
in a day of scarce light. The aperture of a former
home is wide as the hours require, and
each year now we shovel our signifiers,
brushing leaves across our yards as the wind
lifts. But there is no wind. Beyond the old
neighbours’ place, twenty on foot and four in
the car, an ombré smudge of tones settles –
hawthorn, sodden, briars sagging, and mud
deep, kicked up by cows gone to the byre
for milking, or fell sheep, if there were sheep.
The power station, a blackened copse somewhere
about the edge of land, fading, its cooling
towers merged with vapours that lift, sink,
sink as the sea of Hibernia turns away, its
back brushing the pile of exhausted chimneys,
almost gone, almost deconstructed. Concrete
follies of a folly in a half-life of feeding families
now lost in their own decommission. Kids now
all grown up with kids of their own and those kids
with kids. In this the division between subject and
object. Ambiguity felt as uncommon knowledge,
as our own approximate selves, knowledge frozen
to make fear dormant, fear of nothing, foam
surfing across the pebbles, the air still and
no new windmills turning beyond our vision.
This attenuated point between fog and rain.
Beyond where the trees stood, the trees cut down
where the west is lost to water. The invisible men
who packed the market squares gone back
south for new contracts, their rented terraces at
the edge of towns vacant, earth settling from that
last ploughing, our minding of this, recurring,
seen through a blue filter and smear of vaseline
and clearing some hairs from before your eyes.
Taking photos on an old SLR as if we lived here,
still. A next horizon never really reached,
only encountered in thought again, again

 

MW Bewick’s first collection of poetry, Scarecrow, was published in 2017. He is the co-founder of independent publisher Dunlin Press and an organiser at Poetrywivenhoe in Essex, where he lives. Recent publication credits include London Grip, The Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Coast to Coast to Coast and The Interpreter’s House. @mwbewick

 

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.

 

Mattias Thomas

No Rosetta Stone

Something more than routine cotton,
more than mother mooning proud over nothing.
This worm-knot in my muscle is a fist for something solid,
a proof of endeavour, a peg in a hollow.

There will be no evidence left, no artefacts, or treasure.
A vast silver cloud, an imagining of data
– ephemeral, and digital, and null.

There will be no Rosetta Stone for our daughters and sons.
We are erasing our own place in history,
deleting our existence with keystrokes and buttons.

There are so many copies of us now,
we have become plankton.
We are amoeba, self-duplicating,
a series of zeros and ones.

 

Mattias Thomas is a half-Swedish husband and father from Barry Island, South Wales. He studied English at Oxford University before dropping out to work for the family gardening business. He has been writing poetry for 17 years to moderate acclaim from his gran.

Alison Lock

The Blessing

After you were born, we planted a tree
– a sapling pear.

The glint of a spade in the afternoon sun; a signal
for the soil to nourish with tenderness

a ritual renewed by the sound of a new born’s snuffle.
In time, the blossom is as white as your flesh

is pink.  Fragile heads flicker in the breeze.
A salutation to Hera.

Then come the fruits, kernels of creation.
Each one a single drop of tear.

Time waits for the flight of an angel’s wing;
as our abundant crop hails his first cry, our blessing

and so you were born
– a slow motion memory of pear parting tree.

 

The Blessing was originally published in A Slither of Air (2011) Indigo Dreams Publishing

Alison Lock is a poet and author of six publications – three poetry collections, two collections of short stories, and a fantasy novella. Her stories have won prizes in The London Magazine Competition 2015, The Sentinel Quarterly Review, and The 14th Conference for the Short Story in English at Shanghai.

 

 

 

Roy Marshall

Seeing the Entomologist

He doesn’t know that a bee, drinking salt
from the pores on his wrist, is called
a Sweat Bee. Nor that a butterfly, fluttering by,
has memories of caterpillar life.

He rolls onto his stomach, shades his eyes,
says, ‘now you’re making it up.’ She laughs, her hair
a spill on the grass, counters,
‘google it if you like.’

He learns how a raft spider can submerge
for an hour, that Hawk moths have ears
on their mouths. She doesn’t know
that the lake remembers

every pebble you throw, and that
if a loved one dies, a body can fill
with grief, the way a water barrel
fills with sky.

 

Roy Marshall’s first pamphlet Gopagilla (2012) received favourable reviews in the TLS and elsewhere. His first full collection The Sun Bathers was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Award, and a second collection The Great Animator (Shoestring Press) appeared in 2017. Previously a nurse, Roy now works in adult education.

You can follow Roy’s blog here: Roy Marshall

 

 

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.

 

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/