Three Poems by Ben Banyard

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The tick of an old clock,
pops of almost-dry logs,
a favourite record,
the day’s last yelps of gulls on the roof,
lowered voices on the way back from the pub.

Wrap yourself in this collage of sound,
remember the combination forever.

Nothing stands still
but you can always
come back whenever you like.


Earthly Remains

When I go, don’t worry about what to do
with whatever’s left of me.
Buried or cremated, by that point
I’ll be past caring anyway.

Don’t waste money on anything flash
like shooting my ashes
from a cannon over the Suspension Bridge.

It’s up to you how you dispose of me,
whether you want something to visit
or I end up in an urn on the mantelpiece.

Just in case, I’ve left a bit of room
in the garden, next to the jasmine.


Cat’s Claw

for Sean

This vine is ravenous, sprints through trees,
scales walls and balconies like a smitten lover.

It consumes the city, hugs the damp clapboards
with needled tendrils. Yellow trumpets
caught your eye as you paraded past
in the second line, a century or ten minutes ago.

A storm blew, turned New Orleans to bayou
but Cat’s Claw knew a secret way in,
showed the people that life can endure.

Some may say it’s a curse
but they don’t hear the breeze in its leaves,
sighing in from Haiti and Havana;
sit back and listen to the tune it plays.

 

Ben Banyard lives in Portishead, on the Severn Estuary near Bristol. He’s the author of a pamphlet, Communing (Indigo Dreams, 2016) and a full collection, We Are All Lucky (Indigo Dreams, 2018). He blogs and posts mixtapes at https://benbanyard.wordpress.com/

One Poem by Sean Burn

pebble ov seaham

this stone aint stone
this stone is pebble
pebbles rock
chips off seaham
aint sunderland
is egg - ache - wonder
raw materials (could be)
building all – home
warmings - by rights
no warrings / warnings -
our longings to be ... hurt no more
this stone aches for roar
us sold r.o.i.r. cassettes in the 80's
einsturzende neubaten
inwardly collapsing new buildings
mekons - glenn branca - mc5
playlists saving lives, ours
more ways than many imagine
sticks-stones-brick-n-bones
mondays child, tuesdays child
thursday friday saturday
all daze, one our best
wz sunny seaham, fireworking
our rescue-dogs memory
(she rescued us) – even
better daze the year before
seaham wet with storm, falling to sea
both times collecting seaglass - now
travelling all points, catalysts sung before
beach hurls pebble-rainbow - salt-shadow
this seaham pebble tastes - smells - feels red
- seeing redder than alarms plastic’ing
lob not lobbying defies time
- admirals – armadas - suck
like tides cannot be objectified
but objects – defies – ungloves
finding love in hurl breaking sound n barriers
the defibrillating whisper
           have a dream
     have dreams
dream

 

sean (burn) has two collections of poetry currently in print – dante in the laundrette (smokestack press) and is that a bruise or a tattoo? (shearsman press)

One Poem by Elizabeth Jane Timms

Your Love and London

It was not footsteps but words that we left,
As we crossed the page, the ink still wet –
Our umbrellas drooping like Tower of London ravens –
You were the stranger whose shadow fell over my page,
Yellowed by the lamplight’s puddle on Portman Square.
Though stood with you, I could not but think of the desk,
The abandoned pen, the waiting ribbon,
Waiting for my life to bring them life,
Poured out from the wine of who I was –
That same lamplight was flooding the writing table, above us.
But London returned to its alleys and porticoes,
Huddled under its umbrellas and the grey wings of its pigeons.
Wren’s churches were silent against the golden sky.
The lanterns burned darkly, full of the romance of lives now invisible –
And I felt the passing, passionate shadows of fleeing lovers down these streets,
When London burned and I imagined the echo of a gramophone.
But our book closed suddenly –
And I felt my life turn a page within me.
For at that moment, you doffed your hat and left my poems.

 

Elizabeth Jane Timms is a historian, freelance writer, historical consultant and poet, based in Oxford. Her poetry has appeared in The Oxonian Review, Coldnoon, North of Oxford and elsewhere. She is a Member of the University of Oxford Poetry Society.

One Poem by Julie Anne Gilligan

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Aftermath

Once the epitome of elegance,
all richness now shattered:
no painting or tapestry,
no curtains or bookshelves.
The trappings of wealth
become ancient history.
What covers the walls
is graffiti of jealousy,
an arrogance of ownership
in artistry of jeopardy.
If only the chair could speak,
bear witness to violence
or the absence of care, but
even the softest of creaks
are silent in the aftermath
when there’s no-one to hear.

 

Julie’s poems appear in several anthologies, webzines and first collection The Thickness of Blood (2012). She is an active member of the Open University Poetry Society as well as Poets Abroad, an international collaborative group. Julie lives in Essex.

One Poem by Brett Evans

The Lone Ranger’s Port Wine Stain

It’s there. Just left of a prairie-moon blue eye
behind that mask of midnight sky. And once
in my safe house for the night I’ll say, ‘John,
slip that thing off, celebrate the birth branding
you brought from your mother’s womb.’

Huddled close to the hearth, the fire low,
it’s hard to tell from the corner
of your eye if it’s the port wine stain
or a side stretch of mask you see.
Such nights we trade tales over coffee
and whiskey, tell of the measure of men
– hard to gauge, the later the hour,
more the whiskey.

Sleep is short, I saddle up and he’ll conceal
his identity – or that innocent blemish. The sun
will rise – and if you think the sun shines
out of an arse, that arse’ll still streak the bowl.
I’ll silently question if a man’s character can tarnish
his deeds as clear as birth did this man’s face.
And off he’ll ride. Likely to the William Tell Overture
played on out of tune duelling banjos.

 

Brett Evans lives, writes, and drinks in his native North Wales. Brett is co-editor at the poetry and prose journal Prole. Gin, Jack Russells, and jazz are his perfect cocktail for life.

Two Poems by Carolyn Oulton

Autumn on the Floor

With thanks to Barbara-Jayne for the title

A handful of leaves bent double
by the garden doors. You say
on arrival, Autumn on the floor.
Another moment and I’ve nicked it.

First we talk to John, who doesn’t
correct us when we call him Alfie.
I guess north. He smiles
acquiescence. Born in Liverpool.
He’s watching us
use memory prompts –
I’m off with all the houses
I’ve ever lived in.

Eileen asks what flowers
those are meant to be
in the others’ pictures.
Got that one. Poppies.

Over tea and biscuits
I get downright casual
on preventable death, family
secrets floating weightless.

As if the wind wasn’t listening,
leaves weren’t bent like ears
against the membrane
of the window glass.


Rocca Calascio

For the sake of starting somewhere:
I remember this. The rim of a cloud
like an upturned plate
over simmering rock, the smaller
bell-shaped mountain. Breathing
as if doing it looked pretty clever,
how oxygen ripped
into my throat again, again.
Stone buildings staring
down each other’s shoulders,
the narrow wall
where the child stood stolid
as they do – feet apart,
the lightest touch of hand
for hand to hold him back.
The deep bass tumbled
from the tower. I remember
now the taste of the spring.

 

Carolyn Oulton is Professor of Victorian Literature at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her poetry has recently appeared in: Artemis, The Frogmore Papers, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Moth, Poetry Village and Seventh Quarry. Her most recent collection Accidental Fruit is published by Worple Press.

One Poem by Ava Drake

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Reflection on time

Aristocratic hands, almond shaped nails
grace the remains of the Château
nestled among the French countryside.
Memories dart, of the opulence that
filled each room, the French champagne,
the rose gardens, the mosaic tiled pool. Pain,
shards through my heart as I stand in the ruins
of my old home. Crumbling graffiti stained walls,
ashes from the fires that were started here,
piles of needles in the corner, blood stained
floors. End of an era of milk and honey,
of grandeur and passion, replaced by
an impulse for a quick thrill. An unwelcomed
visitor, lost in time, tainted memories
fill me.

 

Ava Drake is a poetess from London, UK. She started writing poetry at a young age and has recently rediscovered her passion for writing. She is currently working on her first poetry anthology.

One Poem by Dawid Juraszek

Polyphemus

It might have been a faint distant echo
of worlds
lost
or saved
on islands adrift amid the wine-dark sea

So they came
with their new words
different views and scents
looking back toward foreign lands
on their ships like nothing ever seen before

With the strength young muscles muster
and the cunning of new ideas
they snuck in
they asked and answered
and burned old eyes out for their stories

Being the shape
of all things to come
they were well within their rights
the ways of the ones before had to yield
redeemed by their sacrifice to the dead-end new

 

Dawid Juraszek is a bilingual author and educator based in China. His fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have appeared in The Remembered Arts Journal, Amaryllis, The Esthetic Apostle, Amethyst Review, The Font, and elsewhere. Website: https://amazon.com/author/dawidjuraszek

One Poem by Judith Steele

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

A Room Remembered

What parties we had in this room, how sparkling the nights
with wine and laughter, both at the pub and after,
when the musos and their fans came back to this house.

Our music and laughter went up in the smoke
we breathed between dances and drinks.
Now there’s no smoke and no fire.

Rucked-up rugs crowd around the feet
of your armchair, my dear, as if waiting
for your jokes. Wine stains on the cushions,

cigarette burns on the curved wooden arms
of the chair. Art deco and graffiti on the wall,
the gifts of recent squatters.

Once a gracious house in rambling gardens,
now feral roses climb its crumbling walls
waiting for the bulldozers, and the multitude

of concrete boxes that will hold no memory
of our love and laughter, nor our fights and tears.
We are old. Life moves on. Bless the young.

 

Judith Steele is Australian. Her poetry or prose has appeared in journals in Darwin and Adelaide, and on several websites including The Animist, The Merida Review, and Nine Muses; and with translations in past and recent issues of the print journal Gobshite Quarterly (Portland, OR).  http://www.gobshitequarterly.com/

Two Poems by Angela Porter

Knit by Knit 

Large wool ball starts to crawl. Needles draw waterfall,
Seaside knots, driftwood rot, sheep and croft; dreamer’s lot.
All is fine, she unwinds. Garden time, laying twine,
Modest fitting sock – it keeps her knit by knit.


Little Bird 

Spotting us, curious, hope with trust. Where’s the crust?
Why the wait, there’s no bait. Where’s her mate, picnic plate?
Simple life, quiet flight, shade riots, summer light,
Blossom’s dropped, water plops, seems time stops. As she hops.

 

Working with traditional verse structures Angela writes poems about her life as she finds it today. She defends the use of traditional forms as these are the legends behind the poems, and relate to an ongoing past.