Taking Tea with Elizabeth Bishop
Half-light she’s here in this room on the wrong side
of Canada thoughts that slip through fingers
spill scatter like beads unstrung a line a thread
a tracery of words ocean seal fish I catch
my breath catch at her a trace of her abandon
the wayward strands cling tight to the scent
of possibility to invite her to tea tell her about
my yesterday the water’s edge a pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow around an old boat
about an injured seal its mottled grey head poking
through water near the pier where I stood the way
its whiskered face was sweet even sorrowful
its nostrils opening and closing as if contemplating
whether to dive or stay how looking up quizzically
it chose to dive reappearing swift as memory
a red wound blossoming on the cheek of its sad slick face
the way it reminded me of her seal similar and different
at once in the way it sought or even begged
for human company looking up blinking eager each time
it surfaced to dive again the great bulk of it twisting
and turning in willowy swirls oh to make her see
how its ears flapped open and shut with such delicacy
the way it moved its mouth in what could have been
greeting or hunger how I wished I could stroke
its glistening sides could she imagine hugging a seal
relishing the intense fishiness of it dressing its wound
sharing my wish that it might heal itself…no reply
except for an echo rainbow
Wendy Klein has published three full collections, two from Cinnamon Press and one from Oversteps Books. She is contemplating a new and selected, but feels slightly queasy about the ‘new’, and too aware of the flood of ‘selected.’ She has been published in many magazines, including ‘The Jewish Quarterly’ and ‘Jewish Renaissance’, 6 times in various Magmas, once in ‘The North’, and several times in ‘The Interpreter’s House’, which also rejected ‘Taking Tea with Elizabeth Bishop’ under a previous editor, twice in Smiths Knoll (bless them, they wrote magnificent rejection notes), Oxford Poetry (just once, sighhh), The Frogmore Papers (rejected), two generous e-zines (The London Grip and The High Window), and endless anthologies she’s sure almost no one reads.
Gradual and companionless.
Inside, paint me.
Lagging in dust of silver.
Deepening, I am starless.
Stars aren’t lonely they are gas and glitter.
Slithering, unravel the comfortless.
Planets in eyes.
Isolate this stumbled feeling.
I feel the otherness.
Hurtle the shock.
I’m the recluse on the comet.
Spangled in peaks of disconsolation.
Squeezed in the ribs.
Frail is my swan song.
Grand and friendless.
Arteries, bloodless, bulging, seeping with empty haemoglobin.
Uncherished jewel, shrink in the mirror.
I quiver with a glimmer of me now, the unattended.
I have always been passionate about my writing and now I have the time to concentrate on it fully. I have dabbled in many things including being a model, primary and secondary school teacher and trained as a make up artist. Make up, poetry and animals are my passion. I have recently suffered from Ovarian Cancer and am grateful I have survived it but I am not in remission yet.
Parable of the Three Daughters
A man has three daughters –
one lazy, one greedy,
and one with a vicious tongue
whom he marries off to a cunning
neighbour’s three sons.
Lazy is given seven servants –
one for each day of the week.
Greedy gets keys to the pantry
noshes whenever she wants.
Vicious is permitted to speak
whatever her spiteful mind can conceive.
She says, ‘My Father-in-law
takes me very night’ –
which no one believes.
……………………………………………………..Based on a Talmudic tale
I am a poet-physician writing in the proud tradition of our combined trades. My fifth collection, Stone. Bread. Salt. is available from Holland Park Press . See also my website
At autumn’s end, old pipes play host
to reawakened myths.
Hear the furtive sounds of salamanders
birthed in the warm air womb
of central heating.
Peer through vents, see crouching shimmers;
dust whirling in the eddies
of heat haze skin.
I work in neuroscience research, and my poetry has been published in several print and online publications. I was recently longlisted for the National Poetry Competition out of 13,000 entries.
A Portrait of My Father in Four Birds
Our silent hop from tree to tree
keeping time with the tap-tap-tap –
a woodpecker we couldn’t see
searching for crumbs
in your Autumn garden
Rosy plumes in pastel and chalk
in your childhood sketchbook
Beheaded blackbird flung at your window
surprised your Sudoku
in the last of the sun.
Andrea Robinson is an artist and writer, inspired by found artefacts and family histories – birds often appear. These four would like to finally find a home. www.andrearobinsonartist.co.uk.
London is not
the root, ring finger, sanctum or chakra.
The internet means anything
can happen anywhere.
My friends are treasure, pollen blown,
each dispersed to London – love letters
Nam said to me of Cardiff it’s just not London.
When I told him other cities exist
he crumpled, gasping for air – as if
we stood on Mars and I’d torn away his helmet.
X is a London-based poet.
X is a London creative.
For X London has calcified
around the ribs and heart.
A journalist from the capitol came
but scarpered off home early to London’s oxygen tent.
He absorbed its strange star gas through his pores.
I was, after his lecture, hunger-less,
my thoughts a ready meal you can’t be arsed to eat.
I watched Invasion of the Body Snatchers,
(the 1970s remake)
scrolling through tweets
how did Brexit happen.
Matthew is from Cardiff. His poems have featured in a number of online and print publications, including anthologies from Sidekick Books and The Emma Press. He works for the NHS.
Ode to an Antigua Blue Peugeot 107
Your dolphin-sleek blue curves
make me imagine floating in warm seas.
The smile across your bonnet cheers my morning.
Passers-by stop to comment you are cute,
and to admire your perky little rear.
You’re built in circles, just like blue-trimmed ripples
of aromatic oil dripped into water.
You let me park where other cars can’t go.
Men digging roadside holes have paused to praise me
although the skill is yours.
Your appetite for petrol
is almost anorexic.
One passenger plus luggage is your limit,
as I explain when pressured to give lifts,
but when it suits us both, you will endure
five for short cruises.
You are my bubble, my cocoon of solitude
after the long day’s bustle. Home you rock me
to Verdi, Wagner, louder than I’d dare
among the neighbours – I’m relieved
you go for opera, not heavy metal.
You are my other world:
seedpod from where ideas germinate;
my fantasy of swimming through the air
or drifting down the infinite heights of space
escaping past the planets to the stars.
Anne Ballard lives in Edinburgh. Her pamphlet ‘Family Division’ was published in 2015. Her poems have been loved but refused by many magazines and even sometimes accepted, by eg Acumen, Magma, The Interpreter’s House.
It is suggested that the emotional abuse of children should become a criminal offence
I wasn’t as old as you thought. I went white prematurely,
and now you yourself are drawing your old age pension
you naturally thought I was dead. Well, I’m not; get used to it.
I think there’s a good chance I’ll see my hundredth birthday.
All those times when I held you up to ridicule
in front of the other grinning children, it was
for your own good. And it’s hardly my fault if you haven’t,
in fact, done very much in your adult life.
Do you really think you can drag a respected elderly
man into court? I never laid a finger
on you, as you well know. A judge and jury
would laugh till they cried. All those years when you thought I was dead.
Merryn Williams was the founding editor of ‘The Interpreter’s House’, and is literary adviser to the Wilfred Owen Association. Her Selected Poems will be published by Shoestring in 2019.
Salade de Fruits
By Angela Kirby
‘une salade de fruits est toujours la bienvenue’
It’s that shillety voice and snicker-snacker knife work
which overwhelm me plus the intricate arabesques
made by his wrists as he strokes the slip-slidy contours
of peeled onions while his sharky blade
shivers them into moon shadows I watch him
offer them like a prayer across these bitter leaves of arugula
across the suggestive whispers of nectarines, peaches, strawberries
caressing them with virgin oil layering them
on show-off slabs of slate but he avoids my consuming eyes
and instead he sings to me, Salade de fruits, jolie, jolie, jolie
tu plais à mon père tu plais à ma mère,he sings.
Ah, monchef, chef de mon coeeur mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix
it’s his voice, his voice, how I long for him to peel me
like an onion, caress me spread me across his bitter leafy bed
chef, my chef, damn you and your smoothly seductive sleights of hand
for the silver-tongued trickster I now know you to be
ah,Cheri, Cheri, mon petit, joli, joli, Salade de fruits
Lancashire-born Angela Kirby lives in London. Her widely published poems have won various prizes, including BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year (twice). Her fourth collection comes out next year.
I saw a poster with the words DOWN WITH
but looking closely it was just a series of phrases
faintly written “stamps”, “government sleaze”,
“?”, “short trousers”, “kazoos”, “harassment”,
“police”, “hope”, “sonnets”, “that sort of thing”
and words enough to fill a slim volume.
This time, for the students and the police,
it was the real thing, not the usual play acting
where each side arrived in coaches
to have a mock battle on Westminster Bridge.
There was real pushing and shoving and shouting
“What do you want? The government out”
but when they shouted “What do you want?”
I shouted the response “Keats and Wordsworth out”.
Later that day I walked back along the same route
to Waterloo station thinking if students were green
they would surely have recycled their rubbish
as well as egos, acne and bodily fluids but
strewn over the road were sweet wrappers, butts,
placards, leaflets, tissues, news sheets, coffee cups
and all manner of things that had to be cleaned up
before buses, taxis, cars and the government
could get back to their business of maiming and killing.
Rodney Wood lives in Farnborough. He has recently been published in Magma, Amaryllis, Morphrog and Envoi. Last year he published a pamphlet, Dante Called You Beatrice, with The Red Ceilings Press. He also jointly runs a poetry night, WOL Woking.