The Sea Keeper, by Antony Owen

The clocks tick like Fukushima sushi
inside our bodies swirl Isotope bracelets
they penetrate fish armour and yes, we shall fall with oceans.

I know a man who saw the flower of his bones at Christmas Isle
he saw gamma ray purples lash his bones
by Easter he vomited himself into a coma.

You cannot shock people these days in the skim-read tragedies
A genocide slithers off the liquid screen and
We slide into Kylie Jenner’s meltdown over followers.

I keep having this dream of Aylan Kurdi swimming
his arms are getting heavy and the sea is gentle
the slow roll of tide resembles a garland of lilies.

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100 Olive Trees, by Maggie Harris

They burnt the olive trees down to the ground;
aged trees that had fed and succoured generations
had bowed their branches to offer fruit, oil, shade from the sun.
Their roots ran deep into the earth – silent witnesses
to those who had toiled, tilled and planted;
spoke in tongues of comforting syllables, settled in the rocks,
travelled from place to place seeking a home.
Their stories are atomised in the ash now, crumbed as millennial dust
broken as morning dreams, dispersed as races.
Who realises the bitter irony of proverbs –
one does not bite the hand that feeds you
or the image of the olive branch as a symbol of peace?
No-one is listening now, not even the wind
whose only purpose it seems, is to fan fires
or at best, offer a cooling breeze.

 

Maggie Harris is a Guyanese writer living in the UK. Her latest collection of poems, 60 Years of Loving, (Cane Arrow Press), won the Guyana Prize for Literature 2015. Her latest collection of short stories, Writing on Water (Seren, 2017) includes the Commonwealth Prize winning story, ‘Sending for Chantal’.

Monkey Dust, by Jonathan Jones

People who take the drug often believe that they are being chased and attack those around them. Steven Rust, a paramedic, said it was difficult to treat the patients. “There is no regular pattern of behaviour and there is a psychosis of being paranoid, mixed in with all that and superhuman strength in some cases, and they have no fear of doing anything,” he said. There was a comment from a colleague who said he drove through Stoke-on-Trent a couple of nights ago and it was like a scene from the Night of the Living Dead . . . One homeless addict said that 90 per cent of the people she knew “were on the dust”.

The Times, August 11th 2018

 

It does you no good to plead for your life.
The very heart of England; you understand.
Left for dead. No jobs, no pubs quoting Philip Larkin.
No time to ponder natural selection.
Just the statue of Old Josiah Wedgwood
outside the North Stafford hotel. People chain
smoking to have hope having no hope,
because England makes you feel so superhuman,
so invincible. Amino acids into protein, enzymes
pumped on iron, genes in clay. White
rabbits pulled like powder from their pockets
where the roof caved in. Ingested intraveneously
so many flags that fill such rainy skies with terraces.
It means nothing to say things were different in my day.
Car stereo reports life goes on,
much the same.

I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas, by David Lee Morgan

I’m dreaming of a Green Christmas
Just like the ones i used to know
Where the air is breathable 
And the stars are see-able
And the clouds don’t have
A radioactive glow

I’m dreaming of a Green Christmas
With every tank of gasoline
May your streams and rivers be clean
And may all your Christmases be green

(or you could change the gasoline line to:
With every forest fire i see)

Mrs May, by Kathy Gee

Her voice hits my ear
like falling on a bruise:
an instant’s recognition
followed by a throb,
an agony of disbelief.

It’s time to switch
to active, to transmit
the cries of women,
children without gardens,
men asleep in doorways.

Time to state
the limits reached,
to say thus far, no further

..

Kathy Gee lives in the UK. Her career is in heritage and leadership coaching. Widely published online and on paper, her poetry collection was published in 2016 –  http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/p/book-of-bones.html. She wrote the spoken word elements for a contemporary choral piece – http://suiteforthefallensoldier.com/. Another pamphlet, Checkout, is due out in 2019.

A Fracking Little Christmas, by Oona V Joslin

(You know the tune)
..
Have yourself a Fracking little Christmas,
tremors in the night.
Next year we’ll dismantle all your human rights.
..
Have yourself a Fracking little Christmas.
Brexit will be fine.
Parliament has taken over, as Divine.
..
Land you thought might belong to you
will belong to you no more.
Friends, who you thought were close to you,
will walk by you and ignore.
..
Homeless, fracked and without any healthcare,
Work will make you free.”
Shareholders are rubbing golden hands with glee.
So spend, spend, spend your way out of austerity.

Four poems by Rodney Wood

WHY CAN’T I STAY AT HOME WITH A TAG? 

“The death rate was exceptionally high in isolated populations like prisons and monasteries.” David Ross

everything’s taken / stripped / processed / and I’ve forgotten to cancel standing orders
it’s like the waiting room to a plague house / everything’s taken / stripped / processed
it’s like the waiting room to a plague house /  and I’ve forgotten to cancel standing orders

there’s hundreds of broken windows / lives / I’ll never grass / steal / or watch Emmerdale
I’ve no idea what’s going to happen or why / there’s hundreds of broken windows / lives
I’ve no idea what’s going to happen or why / I’ll never grass / steal / or watch Emmerdale

there’s overcrowding / heroin / it’s scary / and the grey jumpsuits are really scratchy
I’m locked in a cell with a guy who can’t read / there’s overcrowding / heroin / it’s scary
I’m locked in a cell with a guy who can’t read / and the grey jumpsuits are really scratchy

the violence of self harm / lack of respect / killing time / and I only answer to my surname
now I’m chained to those years inside / the violence of self harm / lack of respect
now I’m chained to those years inside / killing time / and I only answer to my surname

 

BUT FOR NOW WE MUST CURB YOUNG PEOPLE’S SOCIAL MEDIA USE 

“We do not know what is happening in the heavens, but impudently and rashly they profess to know…. For they are going to say this and any nonsense at all rather than confess their own ignorance. Theirs is not only ignorance but blindness and total madness, which many times in the past was evident to everyone, but never more clearly than during this present plague.” Petrarch, Letters of old age

let’s put a tax on foreign house buyers / let’s become a tax haven for the deserving rich
let’s leave the United States of Europe / let’s welcome all foreign house buyers
let’s put Europe at the heart of Britain / let’s put a tax on wealth for the undeserving rich

let’s privatise the NHS / let’s put all workers on minimum wage
let’s restore the great British dream / let’s fully fund the NHS
let’s dream of making Britain great again / let’s double the minimum wage

let’s bring in the snoopers charter / let’s increase the working week to 60 hours
let’s slash all subsidies / let’s never even think of the snoopers charter
let’s subsidise what people need / let’s reduce the working week to 30 hours

let’s tax and humiliate the undeserving poor / let’s put young people in hock to the state
let’s replace the Human Rights Act / let’s give money and respect to the undeserving poor
let’s keep the Human Rights Act / let’s help young people get a career and get a life

 

WONGA 

“This Bishop of Lincoln sent a general power to regular and secular priests in his diocese to hear confessions and to absolve…except only in cases of debt. In such cases…others should do so with his property after his death.” JWF Hill

the giant with an empty soul has fallen asleep / there’s a burial / no flags are at half mast
angels sing accompanied by their lutes / the giant with an empty soul has fallen asleep
angels sing accompanied by their lutes / there’s a burial / no flags are at half mast

complaints by claims management companies / clients being blackmailed and lied to
the faceless loan sharks bought down / complaints by claims management companies
the faceless loan sharks bought down / clients being blackmailed and lied to

bright adverts have disappeared / but for borrowers the debts roll on
under a row of headstones marked “administration” / bright adverts have disappeared
under a row of headstones marked “administration” / but for borrowers the debts roll on

no escape from prison / no drinking of wine / the curtains are slowly closed
repayments must be made / there’s no mercy / no escape from prison / no drinking of wine
repayments must be made / there’s no mercy / the curtains are slowly closed

 

HORRORS 

‘O happy posterity, who will not experience such abysmal woe and will look upon our testimony as a fable.’ Petrarch

triggering an army clearance operation / over ten thousand no longer live with the venom
Muslim Rohingya attacked with knives / triggering an army clearance operation
Muslim Rohingya attacked with knives / over ten thousand no longer live with the venom

women tied to a tree by the hair and raped / young children forced into burning houses
tortured with bamboo sticks and cigarettes / women tied to a tree by the hair and raped
tortured with bamboo sticks and cigarettes / young children forced into burning houses

the military should be disbanded / prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity
abuse and grief became the norm / the military should be disbanded
abuse and grief became the norm / prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity

the UN report undermines the juntas’ attempts / to bring peace and national reconciliation
hate speech / lies and silence spread / the UN report undermines the juntas’ attempts
hate speech / lies and silence spread / to bring peace and national reconciliation

 

theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/17/uk-brutal-prisons-failing-violence-drugs-gangs

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/plans-to-curb-social-media-use-are-a-cop-out-lp772h8xx

/www.theguardian.com/business/2018/aug/30/wonga-collapses-into-administration

Report presented to UN Human Rights Council 18/9/18

..

Rodney Wood published his first pamphlet, Dante Called You Beatrice (Red Ceiling Press), last year. This year he has been published in Riggwelter, London Grip, Confluence, The Lake, Laldy, The Ofipress, The Journal and The High Window. He jointly runs an open mic at in Woking.

Out of Choice, by Jennifer Lagier

Republican comes in the dictionary just after reptile and just above repugnant.” – Julia Roberts

Margaret Atwood announces
she is creating a sequel
to The Handmaid’s Tale,
says under current conditions,
the text writes itself.

Daily, I grind my teeth
as the orange cretin
who squats in the White House
boasts of grabbing pussies,
how he’d love dating his daughter,
judges women leaders
solely on the basis of looks.

Within every branch of government,
smug old white men
suck at the public teat
while interfering with
a woman’s right
to control her own body.

Each outrageous last straw
gives way to fresh undermining,
emotional, physical assaults.
Indictment, incarceration
of corrupt administration criminals
can’t come soon enough.

The Hokey Cokey (Brexit Mess–up mix), by David R Mellor

You put David Davis in out
In Dominic Rabb, out, in Stephen Barclay
You shake them all about
You do the Hokey Cokey and you turn this country upside down
That’s what it’s all about…
..
Woah, the hokey cokey
Woah, the hokey cokey
Woah, the hokey cokey
Knees bent, arms stretched, let me out
..
You put your right wing in
The moderates out
In, out, in, out
You shake them all about
You do the Hokey Cokey and you’ve turned the country upside down
That’s what it’s all about…
..
Woah, the hokey cokey
Woah, the hokey cokey
Woah, the hokey cokey
Knees bent, arms stretched, let me out
..
You put Farage in, Boris too
Michel Gove and that bloody Mogg too
In, out, in, out
You shake them all about
You do the Hokey Cokey and you turn around and your country is gone
..
That’s what it’s all about…
..
All together now
..
Woah, the hokey cokey
Woah, the hokey cokey
Woah, the hokey cokey
Knees bent, arms stretched, let me out

You put your party first
We want Theresa May out
In, out, out out out
You’ve shaken this country about
You do the Hokey Cokey and you turn against Europe
That’s what it’s all about…
..
Wait for it
..
Woah, we’re going to live on beans
Woah, you’re gonna steal your neighbours peas
Woah, no medicines to heal
Knees bent, arms stretched, begging on the street

..

David R Mellor is from Liverpool, England. He spent his late teen homeless in Merseyside He found understanding and belief through words, and his work has been aired widely, at the BBC, The Tate, galleries and pubs and everything in between. Discover more about David on his Facebook Page YouTube Twitter:

The number 11 bus, by Anne Gill

Stranger rape is bloody
bad luck, for sure.
But it’s like being
run over by a bus;
you don’t have to
internalise it.

When my mum was run
over walking home she broke
her hip but was still happy to
go past the place at rush
hour she didn’t have any panic
attacks she was just on morphine
for a couple of months she
stayed in bed until her bones
knitted themselves back together.

Most rape is just
lazy just careless.
I mean, a penis
is nowhere near
as dangerous as a gun
even a knife or a fist
or a broomstick or a bottle.
We’ve over-dramatized
the offense.

you have to stop
moping in bed after the thing
that happened the thing we don’t
talk about you have to force out
the nightmares and remembrance
with the hard shell of a brain
you were brought up to have 

(someone just threw
a live firework at me
just got flashed by a guy
on heeley road
at 5.30pm I was followed
home)

..

Anne Gill is currently studying her masters in Writing Poetry at Newcastle University. A University of Birmingham alumna, she was part of their winning slam team in 2018 and has performed at events both in the UK and abroad. Her poems have appeared online and in print in Strix, Ink Sweat and Tears, and The Dizziness of Freedom anthology. Her first pamphlet is forthcoming in 2019 with Bad Betty Press.

We are Amazon, by Mark Connors

We are sponge,
soak up your ejaculates,
the filth from phallic towers
you spume across the globe.

We are the crusted walking socks
you keep by your beds, for clean ups.
We get rid of your mess
till you breathe easily again.

We are 3 billion,
an army of 9 countries,
an ecological NATO, if you will.
We take huge portions of emissions
which the land absorbs.
That’s 1 billion tonnes of your cum,
if we stretch the metaphor.

So here’s the thing,
you self-serving pricks of industry;
some tool in Brazil wants to cull us,
to feed more meat to the ones who cause the chaos.
The days of ‘you pitch, we’ll catch’ are over.
Stop spunking up so much,
or soon, we’ll all be fucked.

..

Mark Connors is a writer from Leeds. He has been widely published in magazines, webzines and anthologies in the UK and overseas. His debut poetry collection, Nothing is Meant to be Broken, was published by Stairwell Books in 2017. He is a managing editor of Yaffle.

For more info visit www.markconnors.co.uk

Twitter: @markeconnors2

A week in the life, by Dave Urwin

Monday was just a hard crack to the head.
Tuesday he knocked me down the stairs.
Wednesday I cooked the wrong dinner so
Thursday he locked me in the kitchen.
Friday he told me he loved me so fucked me.
Saturday he kicked me into the street.
Sunday I rapidly packed a carrier bag, was arrested.

 

November 25th  2018  was White Ribbon Day/International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

November 25th to December 10th  2018: 16 days of action against domestic violence (aimed at businesses, to support them to take action against domestic abuse and violence).

 

Dave Urwin publishes more of his poems on jadedmountain.wordpress.com.

Rocking Carol, by Sue Millard

The version according to St Donald, 2018
..
Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not fuss.
Your Mama wants to become one of us.
We will rock you, rock you, rock you.
We will rock you, rock you, rock you.
Soon our rhythmic marching beat
will out-stamp her weary feet.
,.
Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not fret.
Donald tells us you’re a threat.
We will mock you, mock you, mock you.
We will mock you, mock you, mock you.
Do not use your infant smiles.
We are wise to migrant wiles.
..
Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not call
While we build our border wall.
We will block you, block you, block you.
We will block you, block you, block you.
Soldiers face you at the gate;
we won’t let you immigrate.
..
Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not stir
While the helicopters whirr.
We will shock you, shock you, shock you.
We will shock you, shock you, shock you.
Keep you from our US fields
with tear-gas, guns and riot shields.
..
Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not fight
For we are the Christian Right.
We will blame you, fear you, hate you,
We will shoot you, gas you, beat you.
We will keep you out if we can;
You are not a rich white man.

Assumptions, by Rhiannon Ward

Last night
I stood
on the corner
a scared girl
of the man
walking up
to me
assuming
he would
hurt me
in some way
when he
could have
been perfectly
innocent in his
intentions
but this culture
taught me to
fear strangers
especially as a
young girl
in a revealing
dress which
suggests I
would have
asked for it
if he did
hurt me.

..

Rhiannon Ward is a recent graduate in Creative and Professional Writing and English Literature from the University of Worcester. She started writing poetry age 11 and now uses it to raise awareness and convey emotion to readers. There is a special focus on mental health within her poetry. To read more you can visit; https://daisysinsights.wordpress.com/

Legacy, by Martin John

(Recycled from John Masefield’s ‘Cargoes’)

Wise Egyptian pharaoh resting in a pyramid,
sealed in a chamber with a stone block door
accompanied by amulets,
talismen and censers,
terracotta figurines and so much more.

Anglo-Saxon warrior laying in his longboat
buried in a barrow on a cold damp field
surrounded by jewellery,
drinking horns and weaponry,
ring-mail, battleaxe and gold-bossed shield.

Contaminated landfill, permanently hazardous
thrown into a quarry pit with undue haste,
polluted with asbestos,
engine oil and batteries,
truck tyres, herbicide, and nuclear waste.

chrysalis, by Amy Louise Wyatt

/  homeless  —  please help  /
as if he spoke for every man in every street in every town

his bag:  chrysalis
in the cold he turned to creature that he longed to be

winged  —  flew free  — city full of ants
so busy with their jobs they failed to see that they were carrying

a weight
and he was light and free to fly

—————————————-

small things  —  we are all small things

..

Amy Louise Wyatt is a writer, lecturer and artist from Bangor, N.I.  She has had work published in a range of literary journals and magazines such as The Honest UlstermanFourxFourDodging the Rain and Cold Coffee Stand. Amy has most recently read her poetry on The BBC Arts Show, at University of Ulster’s Riverside Readings and at festivals throughout Ireland . She is the editor of The Bangor Literary Journal and was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2018. amylouisewyatt.com

The Scene, by Oonah V Joslin

I wish I knew how others get so high
on life – still buzzing from some social
event – looking forward to being in
the crowd – working the room with easy grace,
remembering people’s faces, people’s
names, taking pleasure in joining in their
games, laughter ringing high to the rafters.
Genuinely saying, Wasn’t that great!
..
I wish I didn’t know the crushing fear,
the hiding in the corner on my own,
the fervent wishing to be somewhere else
or anywhere but here and now and in
the company of those who get a buzz,
being with people they regard as friends.

When I Was Lost, by Stephen Grant

When I was lost and had no hope,

In a dismal southern bay,

I gave my soul to a patriot

As handsome as the day.

 ..

His hair was blond, his skin porcelain,

His teeth a glistening white:

He said for sake of folk and country,

All good men must fight.

 ..

When I asked why, he smiled,

And placed a hand upon my face.

For all the marvels of the world, said he,

We are lost without our race.

 ..

So I sat with him in growing wonder,

As he spoke with blazing eyes.

And in his silken, honeyed voice,

He told me lovely lies.

..

http://stephengrantwriter.com