Ahmed Zaidan

Aroma

It’s best not to remember
Some memories have more density than current moments
I hold the Arabian loaf and smell it ..
The aroma is similar to my mother’s hug ..
It’s best to keep a distance from dangerous things ..
When reality is being soft .. light..
Old memories would float to the surface …
The past would fall on me like night in the mountains

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Laura McDonald-Amurun

DEAD JOY

A thunderclap follows
The boom of bodies and metals
A sodden mixture of
Blood, sweat and tears
Frozen and mute
The star watches the deeds
Of they that love her
She bids the moon see
The proof of man’s aged foolery
Shocked, the moon recedes
Garbs itself in mournful woe
One wiser than both
In the ways of puny man
Tells of the split
That owes its lethal being
To a twist of ego
And boundless conceit
Where self is esteemed
And wisdom dragged
In the dust of limitless sands
Of inferior intelligences
A sphere is built
Where blind ego
And even blinder presumption
Sit down to judge away
The lives of better men
With heartfuls of hatred
Mouthfuls of blasphemy
And a morbid knack
To inspire pain and horror
You trudge on hopes
Break hearts
Scatter pleasures
And summon misery
To those of unlike mind
Already the carcass
Of the grilled and shredded ghosts
Of your bloody heroics
Rise up in rebellion
To the sky and wind
They weep blood and blackstone
On your dead achievements
For they bear no semblance
Of moral sanctity
The star and moon
Caprisoned in a dark splendour
Of passionate scorn
Receive the petition
Of your accursed attitude
Of your delusive protest
And petulant defiance
For by your lack of love
You distort the divine example
And at the very sight
Of your sullied hands
Good departs
And evil stays put

Paul Tristram

There Ain’t No Rest Or Relaxation This Side Of A Prison Gate

Who’d have thought food would be
such a hassle, right?
I hate being upset and heartbroken
but it does make me anorexic,
which is a good thing
when you’re homeless.
Just watching people chewing down
all that crap outside McDonald’s
& Burger King
when I’m ‘Sparing For Change’
makes me nauseous.
I live on a tin of cold soup a day,
I get them from The Salvation Army,
people donate them.
I pick out one with a ring-pull
and drink it walking down the road
just like it’s a beer.
But when I’m not upset,
Jesus Christ! I’m ravenous.
I’m in those litter bins
scavenging for any morsel I can find
like a demented seagull.
I only get to sleep in a bed…  in prison,
I only get physical contact with people
when I’m rolled or being handcuffed.
Warmth is a strange concept,
it’s either something to do with whisky
or some almost forgotten childhood thing?
I learnt a new word in the library
the other day ‘Contentment’
I still shake my head when I think of it.
It even sounds foreign when I say it.
That’s another word
I won’t be getting too familiar with,
like ‘Limousine’ or ‘Pedicure’
Loneliness is the only true company
I’ve got… that and this sodding arthritis.
It’s Hell in the Summer
and Purgatory in the Winter.
There are Hostels and Drop-In-Centres
but you can’t climb back on the ladder
when you are so lost and damaged.
If I bust an arm or a leg
I can crawl over to A&E
and let them deal with the problem.
But a broken heart and fractured soul,
is a different story all together.
They haven’t yet invented a crutch,
wheelchair or Band-Aid for that.
And until they do, me old sunshine,
well, it’s hand to mouth constantly
and only ever scraps of almost everything.

Antony Owen

Black Broken Water

Long ago she was shunned for her face written in the fields of fire.
she told them through her eyes that rivers still flowed on her bones
and her children would live again from acts of love not hatred.

She told me of all the pale daughters who bathed in her dark waters.
I have two red ghosts she said, they wanted to be human until fire.
She told me how flames can make ice sculptures of melting children
and black rain on bleached bone roads made unforgettable synthesis.

She told me of all the pale daughters buried under the parasol tree.
I had two red rivers she said, they wanted to be human until ghosts.
She told me how one day her daughters would meet like the estuaries
and pure rain would funnel through her wrinkles back to Hiroshima.

Late last night all the pale daughters swam to me in whale light and
in their furious burning I watched how candles blow out the wind
realising darkness is a black shoal of rain. I bathed in it one last time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wendy Heath

The Shoemaker

News coverage of a thin man’s blue black shadow swirling in the shallow Greek sea.
When they say he will be returned to Turkey he says, have mercy.

Your dead parents perch on a branch reaching towards a landscape only you inhabit.  It is grassy, speckled with clover and vetch, harebell and flint. A chalky hollow runs through.  You descend until you reach a bridge.  A rambler in blue shorts passes by.  Swans encircle the sky.  You have a choice: go back up through the hollow where tree roots remind you of owls or follow the lane round the hill.  Both ways lead to a long-haired woman who slips out from under a craggy copse of hawthorn and sits upon a stone step.  The step is one of three leading to an oak gate.  Through the gate a path, overgrown with speedwell and buttercup, leads to a ramshackle hut with one window.  Four walls are covered in script – red on black.  A tilt of your head and the text disappears until twilight seeps in.  Only then does the story unfold.  You read of a promised foal born to that white mare you encountered once upon a time through the window of your parents’ Ford sedan.  She cantered through a stone wall and was gone. Gone from sight but in you like a dream or a heartbeat, a gift.  Years later she carried you up a mountain.  Just last year you discovered a photograph of her on your street in an artisan’s shop. You framed it and placed it above your print of a caribou in snow in moonlight.  Somehow you think of mare and caribou as cohorts in the scheme of things, propelling you along in slow animal chat.

The foal’s wobbly legs.  Her tail.  Her proximity to her mother.  These you sense.  A silver hair clasp in the shape of a child flashes in the low light of sunset.  It belongs to the woman on the step who stirs from her contemplative pose.  She whirls like a dervish calling you into the cyclone of her weight.  You have another choice to make:  go there or dissolve.  You find stillness in spinning.  Your hands hold reins made from the muscles and ligaments of your own body.  You smell blood.  Is the red script blood or fire or both?  The countryside is dense with your burning.  The arms of a warrior queen embrace you.  She has something to give you, if you could just make out what it is.  You make out with her, mouth to mouth, tongue to tongue.  A red bird alights on your head.  You see battlefields where swords lop off the wings of children, forcing them to stand on their feet.  And their feet need protection.

You search the hut for needle and thread. The long-haired woman inside of you becomes the handiwork and its quietude, its rhythm and strategies, its pattern.   Shoemaker by moonlight, you see the foal lead thousands upon thousands of small feet into the bowls of warm soapy water set out before you.  The refugee in the shallow Greek sea has never left you.  His two only words led you in.

Rob Walton

the spice of life

and in this world there are at least 57 things I have read about today that I don’t like in this world and there are at least 57 people I met last year who I may not want to break bread with in this world but I will breathe and sigh and hold out a hand of friendship which may even hold bread and in this world there are any amount of posts with which I disagree and stances I refute resist reject but I would always say that in this world I will always agree to disagree in this world and in this world I will beg to differ and let others differ in every respect and I will not cross the street in this world but I will stay and meet you in this world and I will look for the spice of life in this world and even if I don’t like the taste of it I’ll be there smiling for the next course in this world because this world is the only world we have and even a world as fucked-up as this world and it truly is a fucked-up  world is still worth shouting and arguing and fighting for this world this world this world

Charley Reay

The Threads of Us

I should be delicate as a flower
Yielding to the breeze of you
Sweet nothings spoken sweetly

Lining our nest with downy things.
Opening myself to you,
Like petals before the sun.

You should be firm as a birch rod
No thicker than your thumb
A provider of material things,

Earning our daily bread
With the sweat of your brow.
Withholding comfort.

Our yin and yan is more
Rippled than pooled
We weave our marriage

From the threads
of us, as we are:
Not as we should be.

Sheila Jacob

Father
i.m. Father Jacques Hamel 1930-2016

Such a small throat,
wafer-frail above folds
of a white linen alb
almost too heavy
for bird-light bones.

Such an old man,
not seeking death
but sensing its nearness,
hoping to go in peace
like blind Simeon.

Such a rapid step
from terror to healing,
as his life-blood
lapped into the warm
blue bowl of eternity.

Mairi Neil

November 2015 – Aftershocks

Standing together bloodied and numb
Deadly destruction all around
Terror has bruised the city’s heart
While muttered prayers abound.
Is there a sign the world will heal ––
Guidance we’d not been forsaken?
A deathly stench drifts from buildings
Row, after row, of bodies taken.

Amid the horror, fear, and sadness
Appears music for peace and love
A piano wheeled from nowhere
Imagine played as doves soar above.
Music, prayers, and songs,
Poetry and tales give people a voice
Most of us desire harmony,
A peaceful life our first choice.

Leaders meet and police raid
Angry opinions rent the air
But standing alone in city street
A young man bows in prayer…
A keffiyeh tied around blind eyes
cardboard signs at his feet
“I’m a Muslim, not a terrorist
A hug of acceptance all I seek.”

Standing together tremulous with shock,
Remnants of hate clouding around
People ignore prejudice and bigotry
A common love for humanity found.

Fine-tune ears to carefully listen
Encourage mouths to speak only love
Hearts to find peace and tolerance
Human touch gentle as feathered dove
We can stand together in peace
A strong united front to form
Legendary olive branches firm resistance
Multicultural acceptance be the norm.

Julian Isaacs

asylum

blonde as ash
blonde as Dylan
blonde as the tide that’s high
blonde as the fair wind that blew for France
blonde as corn
blonde as Marilyn
blonde as white wheat beer

red as Tampa
red as revolution
red as a beetroot though they’re purple
red as a library
red as ginger which is yellow
red as henna which is orange
red as green and gold

green as the sward
green as a gill
green as absinthe
green as Henry
green as the knight
green as Camberwell
green as England’s pleasant land
where fettered folk of narrow mind
completely fail to understand

the true meaning of colour blind