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Five poems from Matthew Stewart

 

Reappearance

 

Among the criss-crossing shoppers,
I spot you: the curve of your jaw,
slope of your shoulders in a queue
or slow stoop to a shelf at Boots.

My steps stall, the back of my neck
sparks, a smile about to break out.
The angle opens. A stranger
glances through me.

.

Straight from the airport

My fingertips shudder
by your bed. I tell you
how David did in Maths,
how his forehand’s flowing
much better. Anything
to forget the smoothness
of your twitching cheek.

I read the night away
in time to your wrenched breaths
as if the plot could turn,
could end on a flashback.
You’re home, scooping me up
from my book to the rasp
of your fresh stubble.

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Weights

My last year at primary school,
Mrs Travers brought out a set
of weights. We all took turns to test
our strength. Everybody but me
managed to lift a kilo.

Mr Kemp, one disobedient curl
escaping across his shiny temple,
offers me your clothes in a plastic bag.
I discover, thirty-five years later,
I still can’t lift that kilo.

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The rings

They tinkle out of their velvet draw-bag.
The valuer leers. His mottled jowls twitch
as he points, That one, that’s the one to keep.

I grab the lot and warm them in my palm.
These buttery hoops long for their fingers.
They miss my family as much as me.

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The shirts

Three years later, all my shirts are waiting
for the iron when I’m summoned to close
a deal. I pick yours out of the wardrobe
and ease my shoulders in, squeeze through the cuffs.
My nose doesn’t notice, but my heart gulps.
Even after a wash, it smells of you.

 

(All poems from The Knives of Villalejo due out from Eyewear Publishing in June 2017)

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Matthew Stewart lives between Extremadura and West Sussex, and works in the Spanish wine trade. His first full collection, The Knives of Villalejo, will be published by Eyewear Books in June this year, following two previous pamphlets from HappenStance Press. He blogs at http://roguestrands.blogspot.com

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Straid Collections Award 2014

the straid

Closing Date: 17-Mar-14

Details:
The annual Straid Collection Awards are open for submission of full collections of poetry. Poets are invited to submit between forty and sixty pages of poetry, with no more than forty lines per page, excluding title and stanza breaks.

Prize: The award is given to one poet each year and is intended for poets who have a complete new collection. The winning poet will be offered a launch reading at the 2014 Derwent Poetry Festival and a further launch reading in our Keats House events programme.
Entry Fee: £22.00 for each submission and £25.00 for each Online Submission

Contact: For further information see website
Postal Entries: Templar & Iota Poetry, PO BOX 7721, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 9DD
Email entries: submissions@templarpoetry.co.uk

PREVIOUS STRAID AWARD COLLECTIONS

The Waiting Hillside by Martin Malone

Rumpelstiltskin’s Price by Susanne Ehrhardt

Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21 by Kathleen Jones

Cry Wolf by Cristina Newton

On the Kiso Road by Jo Haslam

The Invention of Fireworks by Beatrice Garland

Bill Greenwell

December poems part 7: Bill Greenwell, Luigi Marchini, Geraldine Green

Heidi Mallott

Artwork: Heidi Malott

Afterwords
for Chris

After the hundred walks, some to the sea,
………..some across gorse, some to the pub,
and some to the fresh beds,
………..yours and mine, and after a summer
soaking in Greek island spray,
………..and in late autumn on the first
of three days away, hurriedly planned,
………..suddenly you frost, you say
now is a bad time, but all times are bad,
………..and leave the room, and say you’ve been
meaning to tell me, would have
………..got around to it, like lagging the pipes
before winter. And my mouth
………..cramps. And everything is stilled
and difficult, like drinking anaesthetic
………..straight from the fridge.

After the dying, after the coming back,
………..the note to ring you on the icy flap
of a weathered envelope, after the still blue
………..luminous lights of police cars, and the snow
suffusing my pupils, after the can’t-help-you-here
………..of conversation, what do I do
with the flurries of heartbeat? It’s a bastard,
………..a friend says, love: you can’t even
hate them because you would do anything for them
………..other than this. Sit in the tent, then,
and watch the thermometer fall? Or
………..start hunting down someone who will
bring you back? Or take the stones
………..out of your chest, and arrange them
on the mantelpiece, artily (you, of course,
………..have been taken down, and filed

in an album)? It’s a conundrum.
………..Unshaven, you wait for the weather,
close the curtains, watch the window
………..for the oily arrival of sunlight.

Bill Greenwell

Bill Greenwell was born in Sunderland in 1952, and worked in Devon for 36 years before returning to the North-East, where he is the Open University in the North’s Staff Tutor for the Arts. He was New Statesman’s weekly satirical poet from 1994 to 2002, and his web-site http://www.theweeklypoem.com continues this tradition. His first collection, Impossible Objects, was shortlisted for the Forward best first collection prize in 2006. His second, Ringers is also from Cinnamon Press: – Bill Greenwell does things with language you didn’t know were possible… Selima Hill.

Kimberly Conrad

Winter’s Kiss

As hungry as a polar bear’s roar he digs
into snow with bone from a whale
stripped bare long ago further north,
where the breeze slashes through: cold –
miserable, disdainful. This bone

has travelled a long way
its work not yet finished, has barely
started, as he stabs it deep,
hurriedly – night will soon slip

in. Beneath snow, bone strikes ice
not hard enough. Now wet
from the sharpness of the weather,
toil of his dig,
he is a celluloid piece of Artic

with no woods to shelter in: a snowman,
a snow football for the elements. Through
with the search
he lifts bone to mouth
while listening to the dirge.

Luigi Marchini

Luigi Marchini was brought up in London where he spent many a happy maths and physics lesson at the National Film Theatre. Since escaping to Kent some years ago he has had his début pamphlet, The Anatomist,  published by The Conversation Paperpress (2009), and been chairman of the Canterbury based Save As Writers’ Group.

horse

TONIGHT A PRAYER

For those
who cannot speak.

For those who can,
but speak in a different voice.

Voice of children in prison
Voice of prisoners tortured.

Voices of hunger and fear.
Voice of no stone unturned

until we rescue them.
Voice of those

denied a voice
Voice of fox and hare

Voice of grouse and badger.
Voice of greed

Voice of torture
Voices of fear and power

Voice of love
and compassion.

Voice of who we are and
who we choose to be

Tongue of oppressed, the dying and lonely
Tongues that sing the song of community.
Tongue of courage and defiance.

Tongues that sing in all tongues
the Babel of Language,

the language of love and humanity.
language of love of earth and empathy.

One love.
Our animal selves.

Geraldine Green

Geraldine Green is a writer, freelance creative tutor and mentor based in Ulverston on the Furness Peninsula, Cumbria where she was born. Her latest collection, Salt Road’ was published by Indigo Dreams in September 2013. Geraldine is currently working on a new pamphlet collection, A Wing and a Prayer, as part of her post as writer-in-residence at Swarthmoor Hall. She is a regular guest tutor at Brantwood and runs monthly creative writing workshops titled ‘Write to Roam’ on a working farm near Kirkby Lonsdale. She gained a PhD in creative writing poetry in September 2011. Her blog.

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December poems part 6: Sarah Salway, Valerie Morton, Carolyn O’Connel

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Artwork: Linda Pedley

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Winter

Like the pilgrim divests himself of worldly goods,
the garden’s stripped back to a skeleton,

only the vertebrae of paths holds its truest form
even as trees keep blossom close, buds aching,

it’s still the cutting back that matters most,
while through it all the river’s artery rolls,

a trust in what lies beneath, snowdrops
rising like lanterns.

Sarah Salway

Sarah Salway’s first collection, You Do Not Need Another Self-Help Book was published by Pindrop in March 2013. Her poetry has been published widely including the Financial Times, The Virago Book of the Joy of Shopping, Poetry London and Pen International. She is the author of three novels and teaches creative writing for the University of Kent. www.sarahsalway.net

michaelewart_countrylane-winter_landscape

Artwork: Michael Ewart

Twelfth Night

Bell by light by bauble by angel –
like boughs harried by wind –

the decorations come down.
Schools spill new outfits

onto the streets. But in our house
we take the NASA-like image

from the fridge, re-pack Babygrows
and dismantle the cot.

When the decorations come down,
we carry on like before

but with missing pieces.
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Valerie Morton grew up in Kent but now lives beside the River Lea in Hertfordshire and is a member of Ver Poets. She has been published in a number of magazines, was runner-up in the 2011 Essex Poetry Festival and won the Ver Poets Ten Liner competition in 2012. She completed an Open University degree in 2011 and since then has taught Creative Writing at a mental health charity.  Her first poetry collection Mango Tree was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing in May 2013.
Austin-Moseley-AMO3-1HQ-Winter-On-the-Hills

Artwork: Austen Moseley

21st Century Christmas – the Tree

Setting out to buy a Christmas tree
on Christmas Eve the shops sold out.
No trees in markets, stalls had gone
there wasn’t even one at all?

We trekked to forest but no luck
only black branches greeted us,
no conifers rose clothed in green
where would we get a Christmas tree?

Too late to get a feigned tall fir
online, too late for Amazon
no drone to drop outside the door
desired decorated tree –
they still rely on carriers.

How can we follow Albert’s dictum
find traditional tree, fill the picture
of festive family grouped around
a fancy spruce or pristine pine.

In 1850 it was perfectly possible
to buy a tree on Christmas Eve
or as told in “A Christmas Carol”
that day a goose for family feast

but what the Dickens its 2013
they’re ordered online in November
celebrated Black Friday bargains
so on Christmas eve  we’ll have to settle
for Christmas tree as a 3.D printout.

Carolyn O’Connel is married and lives in Richmond-on-Thames. Listed on poetrypf.com and translated into Romanian as a member of poetryRO project   Is a member of Ormond Poetry Group. Has facilitated workshops with Kensington & Chelsea Arts & Richmond Libraries.  Published by Envoi,Interpreter’s House and Airings also in the anthology “Genius Floored” arising from Lumen/Camden Poetry Readings and online at My Delayed Reactions and Poetry Space. Poem “Night Ride” Highly Commended in Poetry Space Competition and “Sunset Serenade” Long Listed Paragram Poetry Competition 2013.

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December poems part 5: Karen Dennison, Tina Cole, Rebecca Gethin

Archie-Dunbar-McIntosh-ADM4-1HQ-Winter-Fields-Perthshire

Artwork: Archie Dunbar McKintosh

Snow

Clumps hoodwink the bushes;
a drudgery clings to the tree, muffling
its limbs. She moves unseen.

Her hands and fingerprints crumble
to powdery snow. A windfall fills
her footprints. She uncouples

from all she knows, freezes over.
People look through her –
she’s becoming a ghost. She sleeps

under a crumpled duvet of snow,
clumps shovelled up at the roadside
in the morning. Her voice shatters,

flurries wordlessly through air, separate
and together, like flocks of white birds.
Mute, invisible, she haunts the streets

as if immortal. She remembers the edge
of something, a childhood drawing
that flutters around the blind spot of vision.

She blows her name and the name
of her brother across her palm
into whirlwinds of snow.

She passes the roadside cross
for a fallen mother, the ragged rotten
sodden flowers encrusted in snow.

Tears are glittering snowflakes
that surprise her cheeks. There is stifled music;
a father and daughter whistle an Adagio of snow.

A child’s face glows like a full moon
from a car window, wanting, not wanting, to go. Snow
slips down the pane, slurs the street lamps’ halos.

Karen Dennison

Published in poetrywivenhoe 2011 and Counting Rain.

Karen’s first collection Counting Rain was published by Indigo Dreams in February 2012.  Her poem Wayfaring was recently commended in the Second Light Poetry Competition 2013.

Sophie-Harding-11315-Whippet-Robin-and-White-Cottage-hq

Artwork: Sophie Harding

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Epilogue

Late November
…….days beaten from brass,
…….the grass long covered
…….by a litter of birch and beech,
Come with me, step away from the rush
…….into the forest hush where holly spikes
…….defy the winter song, bright berries
…….young as folly.
There is no one to hear as the year
…….fades away, each day drawn out, oh so slow,
……. – a slowing pace.
A metal sky flecked with old rose –
…….let us close the gate on it, the long tongue
…….of the lock shifts its’ weight
…….and licks it final click into place.
Days pass, celebrate, as snow patterns
…….on glass and the clock with its’ ghostly
…….click, click, clicking; snow deepens
…….like a sauce thickening.
Church bells peel the New Year,
…….the edge of hope unwinds in long looping coils,
…….like midges dancing a soporific reel.

.

Tina Cole’s publications include: Aesthetica Review- Issue 9, Ragged Raven Poetry, Losing the Edge: Blinking Eye – Blood Line. Magazine publications in Mslexia,  Aesthetica, Red Ink, Decanto and David Morley’s Poetry Workshop as published in The Guardian. She belongs to a small group of writers called The Border Poets and is involved in a number of local readings and poetry festivals.

snowo

Artwork: NancyvandenBoom

Winter nights

Outside the house with its fire-lit room,
curtains closed, light leaking from slits,
this quadrant of the universe is layered with meanings,

as though The Plough were stored above the little stone barn
and, to take aim with his bow,  Orion with his belt
had to kneel in my vegetable garden. A gibbous moon

frosts the ground,  its gaze searching
through the library of stars – their  narratives
hidden when rain dawns.

Rebecca Gethin

Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor. She is a creative writing tutor, a gardener and runs a market stall. Her poems have been published over the years in a variety of magazines and just recently in anthologies: Exeter Poetry Stanza’s Making History, Moor Poets  vol 3, Lines under Water, The Broadsheet.  Her poetry collections are: River is the Plural of Rain (Oversteps Books, 2009);  A Handful of Water (Cinnamon Press, 2013). Her second novel, What the horses heard, is to be published by Cinnamon in the spring of 2014. Click here for her website.

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December poems part 4: Victoria Field, Caroline Carver, Carolina Read

horse

Artwork: Jenny Mielihove

December
 
 
On the shortest day, I walk, reading the birds
Starlings massed on black trees
are hieroglyphs telling the loss of the sun

Blackbird grammar
clatters from chaos of brambles
warning signs written in sharp tongues

High, dense clouds –
a lower-case lesson in how grey
changes imperceptibly

stays always the same,
sky’s flat repetition
of its periodic sentence

Lanes are books of choices –
chapters can’t be re-read
with the knowledge of crossroads yet to come

The buzzard’s
specialist subject is killing –
he’s rehearsing bullet point answers to vole

Pheasants illuminate the fields –
too many colours on one page
tales of beauty, vulnerable

Some instruction surprises the starlings –
they spill from scratched branches
like burning paper, fall on the sky

There’s nothing to read in these lanes
but birds – puddles are clear glass
I am unwritten

On the longest night
moon rises in a curtainless window –
my wordless index of days.

from Many Waters (fal 2006)

Victoria Field

Victoria Field is a writer and poetry therapist now based in Canterbury  after twelve years in Cornwall.  Her latest poetry collection, The Lost  Boys was published by Waterloo Press  in November 2013 and she is currently at work on a new play, BENSON, to be  showcased at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury in April 2014.  She offers  training and workshops in the therapeutic use of creative reading and writing,  including teaching regularly at Ty Newydd, the National Writers Centre for Wales: http://www.literaturewales.org/ty-newydd/    She blogs at www.poetrytherapynews.wordpress.com

umbrella

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Artwork: Fabian Arts

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the language of cold
35° below zero Banff Alberta

Air stands above each chimney
like a battalion of frozen warriors
like libraries of Confucian scrolls
inscribed at the top of the world
by monks whose scratchy pens
sculpt icicles in the thin air

the trees of the forest hold to their long silence

Breath crystallises
into words without sound
lungs heave and sigh
trying to pull something anything
back from chasms of pain

cold wants to force itself on us
pushes ribs apart
bulks in nostrils tugs at eyelashes
crusts any shred of skin it finds exposed

as it sings of frostbite lost fingers and toes
disfigured faces as it invades mittens
creeps unstoppably into boots

Step up step up dear friends!
cold lifts you to the impossible
offers Bigfoot snow queens ice spirits

You must say to your body
Heart be strong! Feet! do not leave me!
no part of you is headed for nature’s dustbin
we WILL be reunited

…………you must believe this …

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.Caroline Carver

Caroline Carver is a poet and promoter of poetry and poetry events, especially in Cornwall.  She started her conscious life in Bermuda and Jamaica, came back to school in England, and then moved to Canada. She now lives in Cornwall, rummaging through the memory bank as she writes. She’s a National Prize winner, poet-in-residence at Trebah Gardens, a Hawthornden Fellow, and has published three poetry collections. See more of her work here.  Most recently she has been Poet-in-residence at Plymouth Univeristy.

Franz-Marc-Siberian-Dogs-in-the-Snow

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Artwork: Franz Marc

Winter Flower

No one knows my name.
It is hidden deep
within the seed that spoke of me.
I can reveal the bright wind, wide skies
and be of the lemon Sun –
Winter will strengthen these petals
and make feisty my stem.
I will rise my head to the stars
in these long still nights.

Yet close to the ground, I remain-
in becoming of my name
for this is destiny.
Born to be incandescent
in my inward, beautiful way.

Carolina Read works as a specialist Physiotherapist in learning disability in the NHS. She integrates many healing streams of influence into her work and life, from where she finds her passion for words and their meaning arises. Her greatest love is of the language that lives in all Nature, beyond our understanding and marvel.

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December poems part 3: Jo Hemmant, Penelope Shuttle, Margaret Beston

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Artwork: Jenny Meilihove

The winter I understand

The long trudge across slaked fields,
soil weights on our feet, wind at our hats

and hoods, drenching us with sidelong rain
and already night has leached into the cloud

so by the time we turn into the lane,
the white house is the last of the light.

You help the boys shake off their boots, hang up
wet coats, I put the kettle on, stoke the damped stove

then we pull up chairs
and as the apple-wood smokes and spits,

the first wicks of flame take hold,
we wait like held breath

for it to burn through the week behind us,
the path it clears a salve.

Jo Hemmant      

Jo Hemmant is a poet and director of Pindrop Press. Her poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies, won prizes in various competitions and the opening poem from her first collection The Light Knows Tricks (Doire Press, 2013) was highly commended by this year’s Forward judges. She lives in the Kent countryside with her husband and two sons.

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Artwork: Sandy Dooley

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Winter Journeywater lane snow1sm

 
1

Valleys full of mist,
sheep
hard at work
five minutes past dawn

Fields dip and tilt
towards a
low bright sun

Bare hedges
pluck strings of light
on a day
not quite
the shortest

2

Carry the misty forest
in your eye
all the way to the city

across wide grey rivers
and iron bridges

a misty multitude
of tall evergreens

so that the forest comes to the city
but the city
doesn’t suspect a thing

Penelope Shuttle

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Penelope Shuttle has lived in Cornwall since 1970. She is the widow of the poet Peter Redgrove (1932-2003). Shuttle’s 2006 collection, Redgrove’s Wife (Bloodaxe Books), was short-listed for the Forward Prize for Best Single Collection, and for the T S Eliot Award. Her latest book, Unsent: New & Selected Poems 1980-2012 (Bloodaxe Books, 2012), is drawn from ten collections published over three decades plus a new collection, Unsent.

Landscape Winter

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Artwork: Lena Kurovska

Locked in with Dylan Thomas
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I lift the open book from your lap.  You point at pictures –
boys pelting cats with snowballs, the smoke filling
Mrs Prothero’s kitchen. I read, you nod at familiar
phrases: the carol-singing sea, the harp-shaped hills.
We flick the pages to Uncles snoozing after lunch,
Auntie Hannah lacing tea with rum.

But you’re keen to turn back to Mrs Prothero’s fire,
as if you’d like to capture that heat, pack it inside your head,
defrost the words from the fish-freezing waves in your brain
until ice melts and the first few letters emerge, shuffle
into groups, build sentences to circulate the room.

As more flood out, swell at our feet, we’re ankle deep
in nouns and adjectives, dictionaries spilling their contents
for us to catch, cram in our mouths, roll on our tongues,
sound out loud, like Dylan’s bombilating gong –
revelling, like children in Christmas snow.

Margaret Beston

Margaret Beston has run poetry workshops and is the founder of Roundel, a Poetry Society Stanza, based in Tonbridge, Kent, where she lives. Her collection, Long Reach River was published earlier this year: “Delicate and echoing in its imagery, and above all humane, Margaret Beston’s poetry is as fluid and graceful as it is searching” Jane Draycott.

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December poems part 2: John Arnold, Angela France, Graham Mummery

Spring Weather - March 12th

CANDLE BRIDGE

One by one
the certainties, the hopes
fall away… and I
am adrift in a winter- white land.

Alighting at the station,
I sense a homecoming,
yet know the old folks
have long since passed on.

Smothered in a deep unbroken snow,
the town is not as I remember:
A few lights peep from windows,
festive wreaths are pinned to doors.

Yet – surely – here’s the place:
a house lost in reverie,
a twinkling tree within
and, in the window, a candle bridge.

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SNOW IN FLANDERS

(after Valerius De Saedeleer, 1928)

I’ve tried so long
to enter this frame,
it’s weight of dark winter cloud,
the tracery of lifeless trees
against embers of sunset,
a smothering of snow.

Maybe there, in that buried cottage,
I’d huddle by the hearth, dreaming
of Christmas or spring —
animals safely in the byre — forgetting
a war-pocked landscape, thoughts
dissolving in that vast night sky.

John Arnold

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John Arnold is a retired town planner who lives with his wife in East Sussex. He has two grown up daughters and a granddaughter. His poems have been widely published in literary magazines and anthologies, and have been broadcast on BBC Radio. He is a member of the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society.

 

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Artwork: Sandy Dooley

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After deep snow

Five days later a cold gasp of moon
sinks shadows into the crust of snow
where footprints and pawprints
pock the field down to muddied grass.
The ice has gone, its clarity drizzled
away into darkening slush.
Already, I miss the sharpness of icicles,
the soft creak of new snow under footfall,
the raw texture of too cold air.
It is as if life gains definition under snow,
like the way frost defines shape and delicacy,
only to melt and soften into grey slush
in the gutter as days wear on.

Pond Life

New layers of frost on bent grasses
and dead rushes lineate, pick out detail
in cold light. From the pond edge,
long iris leaves dip under the surface,
trapped in ice which clutches at the bank.
The pond creaks in answer to the moonlight
sliding over the surface, seems to grow
bold, glitters. Under the willows,
where filigree shadows blur the edges,
a gritty swoosh snags my attention.
As I turn, pinpoints like stars seem to play
over a full skirt, a fur collar,
an outstretched arm.

Angela France

Angela France has an MA in ‘Creative and Critical Writing’ from the University of Gloucestershire and is studying for a PhD. Her second collection, Occupation, is available from Ragged Raven Press, followed by a pamphlet, ‘Lessons in Mallemaroking’ from Nine Arches Press in July 2011. ‘Hide’ came out from Nine Arches in March 2013.

winter

Artwork: Maggie Painting

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A KIND OF SNOW
            I

Snow is the commonest of nouns in poetry.
At this moment I see each word
scatter outside my house
as if someone had torn up every poem
with the word in its lines.

            II

The garage’s shape blurs.
The garden path has stored daylight
in fluorescent arcs that throw out into dark sky.
A blizzard muffles sounds
from a heavy railway track.

            III

Earlier today, I walked into town.
A snowy field’s silence hung over it.
As I looked above the roofs
a child pulled by a parent laughed,
toboggan blades shredded snow.

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WINTER TASK

Usually, you love it: the new thought;
captaining a spaceship to a distant planet;
the con of an experimental submarine
that discovers new species under the sea.

Today you are scrubbing hard on a step,
sawing at logs whose sap resists the blade,
doing five-finger exercises without
improvising, or playing Mozart –

except after scales and arpeggios,
the fingers suddenly become supple,
your pen flows over the page even if,
later, you throw the poem away.

The January sky outside is dull.
There’s frost on the ground. Later, it may rain.
Yet, somehow, you’ve kept the door open
into another place, where you see light.

Graham Mummery

Graham Mummery lives in Sevenoaks, Kent. For a time he worked in investment banking and is now training to become a psychotherapist. His poems have appeared in various UK magazines including Ambit and Brittle Star. His first full collection is forthcoming from Pindrop. His poems have appeared in Gobby Deegan’s Riposte (Donut Press) as well as on websites such as poetrypf.co.uk. His own pamphlet, The Gods Have Become Diseases appeared in 2006.

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December poems part 1: Derrick Buttress, Sharon Black, E.E. Nobbs

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Winter Fire

It snowed all through the night, unabated,
and a knife-edged East wind drove
mounting drifts hard against the door.
We hammered the last of the coal
to stoke a roaring fire as though
there could never be an end to
the bitter storms of winter.

We knew such reckless burning was foolish
when the fire sank, at last, to a splutter
of smoke and spark into the ash-filled pan.
‘It’s steal or freeze,’ Mother said and sent me out
to shovel through head-high walls of snow.
Inside a neighbour’s shed lay a ton of coal,
each lump big enough to warm up half a day.

I waded through ice-encrusted drifts
in a world buried under silence.
My guilt was as sharp as the wind
as I pushed through a hedge thinned by winter.
I crossed the neighbour’s virgin snow.
A frigid pair, winter was their element
so I stole their coal, hating their disdain for us.

In our kitchen coalhouse Mother’s eyes danced
like a girl’s. Shaking ice from my clothes
I shivered in the freezing porch,
surveyed my damning track from our door
and across the neighbour’s snow.
‘They’ll know it’s us!’ I cried, but Mother laughed.
‘God looks after his own! Pass me the hammer!’

And she gaily cracked the coal apart,
smashed the hammer down on it,
on poverty and his messenger,
the everlasting tallyman knocking on the door.

From Waiting for the invasion, Shoestring (2002)

Derrick Buttress

Derrick Buttress‘ poems have been published widely in magazines, including Magma, Ambit, The Interpreter’s House and Iota. Two television plays were produced by BBC 2 and several radio plays were broadcast by BBC Radio 4. His poetry collections are: Waiting For the Invasion (Shoestring) 2002; My Life As A Minor Character (Shoestring) 2005; Destinations (Shoestring 2009). A Memoir, Broxtowe Boy was published in 2004, also by Shoestring. Its sequel, Music While You Work, was published by Shoestring Press in 2007.

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.David-Barnes-DBA6-6HQ-Snow-on-the-Welsh-Hills

Artwork: David Barnes

Latent

Minus 12 on the back of a too-early spring:
next door’s kittens didn’t make it,
the peach bark’s split wide, an old ewe
out by Marquairès tunnel was frozen stiff
by the time the shepherd reached her.

Two days on, the hills hunch under a dusting of snow –
paths, dry-stone terraces, animal trails
suddenly revealedlike fingerprints during a forensics sweep.

The Mistral has been taken in for questioning.

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Things Noticed While Walking in Snow

A single car’s tracks: two ribbons
unrolled on a cutting sheet.
Bird prints by a hawthorn bush:
a smattering of ancient Greek;
discreet scars on a marble beauty’s thighs.
A curtain of ice over bulging bedrock.
Your hand balled round mine.
Fields spread out like a bridal gown.
Power lines plotting perspective.

Through scrawled birches, two donkeys:
vigilant, freeze-framed,
the female’s bray muffled by the cold.
Your hands in your pockets, mine by my side.
An absence of words.
The river, giddy and gleaming:
a dark vein trying to resuscitate
the ghost of land.

And always the split duvet of sky, emptying itself over us
over and over
to cushion our fall.
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Sharon Black

Sharon Black is originally from Glasgow but now lives in France. Her collection, To Know Bedrock, is published by Pindrop Press. She won the Ilkley Literature Festival’s Poetry Competition 2013, Grace Dieu Poetry Competition 2013, Poetic Republic Portfolio Prize 2012, The Frogmore Poetry Prize 2011,  The New Writer Poetry Competition (Collection category) 2010, TNW Poetry Competition (Single Poem category) 2009 and Envoi International Poetry Compeition 2009. Her website.
.jmsnow

Artwork: Jenny Meilihove

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Coming in from the barn after chores

The moon was full and it was cold
enough to make a crust on top
of snow that lay two feet deep or
more — an even sheet of white
across the pasture field between
the orchard and the maple hedge.
The crust was thick and held my weight.
I ran for hours over fallen stars.

Perhaps I almost flew.

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this / split / piece
of firewood was once
a (live) tree
hornet’s nest, vacated,
sways from twig of leafless tree

. – time flies



FROSTY DAY 
 
Aspen
leaves all fallen
off, de-tessellated
from twigs – leaving trees with no notes
to sing.

E.E. Nobbs

E.E. Nobbs lives in Charlottetown Prince Edwards Island, Canada. Snow and long winters play a huge role in her life, and she always keeps two hot water bottles handy – in case one springs a leak. She won the Doire Press Second International Poetry Chapbook Contest this year, and her chapbook The Invisible Girl (Doire Press, 2013) can be ordered direct from the author: ellyfromearth.

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sunsetsnow

Artwork: Heidi Mallet

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Sue Rose

Featured Poet: Sue Rose

Sue Rose
15B02031929
(from the Heart Archives)

It had been so long since she’d heard
the reassuring pace of another’s heart
at her ear—she pressed her head
here, below my shoulder’s hard
girdle and the soft upper of my breast,
and slipped into the worn rest
of the old, soothed by the serenade
of my heart, its secrets husbanded;

she’d slept alone in their double bed
for years, silence ballooning around her,
but I sat rigid, oppressed by her need,
when I should have hugged this woman
who once listened to my heart’s patter
inside her, I should have stroked her head.

Sue Rose works as a literary translator and has published various novels, libretti and plays in translation. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies and she has been commended or placed in competitions such as the National Poetry Competition, the Peterloo and the Wigtown. She won the Troubadour Poetry Prize in 2009 and the Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year Competition in 2008. She has recently started tutoring for organizations like Oxford University and the Chateau Ventenac in France.
Her debut full-length collection, From the Dark Room, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2011. “This collection is rich with the life of the body, with flesh, seed, sex, blood, birth, family love, all in language that is brave and tender.” (Gillian Clarke).

Reviews here: http://londongrip.co.uk/2011/10/poetry-review-autumn-2011-rose-stein/
and http://sheenaghpugh.livejournal.com/71406.html
Other links: http://peonymoon.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/sue-roses-from-the-dark-room/

The featured poem is from Heart Archives, a chapbook to be published by Hercules Editions in February 2014. For more information and/or to get involved, see: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/heart-archives

A second collection, The Cost of Keys, is due out from Cinnamon in November 2014.