A C Clarke: Two poems

December’s child

Swept snow in gutters and cold coming in fast,
Boxing Day clawing light back after
the solstice dip

into three-thirty twilight. A long haul until
full day both ends of sleep, but December
hugs me close

as a mother her newborn, slippery
with mucus, still blinking in the glare
of the world. Arrived on the cusp

of the year I fell into the arms of winter.
Ever since I have crept from the loud sun,
counted the minutes to darkness.

Murder on the No. 4 Bus

From my ringside seat over the rear-wheel
I look down on a chignon coiled at the nape
into decisive plaits. The woman folds her hands
over her bag. Her broad shoulders
achieve a monumental stillness.

A wasp is cannonading off her window
slipping each time it nearly finds the air.
She raises her hand. The wasp begins to circle.
She lowers her hand. The wasp subsides,
a throb against the glass. With slow method

she snaps a clasp, draws out a three-ply tissue,
folds it over the wasp. One calloused thumb
holds it in place. The other presses, presses,
a full five seconds. The small bulge underneath
isn’t a bulge now. She twists the tissue

into a shroud, which she consigns
to the empty coke tins, soiled Metros
littering the floor. A faint brown smear
the only evidence at the scene of the crime.
Her broad shoulders resume their statue pose.

Copyright © A C Clarke 2018

A C Clarke’s fifth collection A Troubling Woman http://www.overstepsbooks.com/cat/a-troubling-woman/ was published in 2017.  Her pamphlet War Baby is now out from Cinnamon Press https://www.cinnamonpress.com/index.php/hikashop-menu-for-products-listing/poetry/product/313-war-baby-a-c-clarke


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Bob Goddard

The Unmade Sea

I stumble from my unmade bed
To watch the unmade sea
Where mighty swells surge to the beach
And crash and churn, cold fingers reach
To claim the souls of wounded gulls
That limp among the broken hulls
Strewn by the surf-washed quay

Offshore the banshees rage and howl
To whip the spindrift’s scream
The ocean’s blankets toss and tumble
Sheets of foam criss-cross and crumple
Grey-green pillows topped with blue
Heap upon heap of wrack and spume
In Poseidon’s fevered dream

Beneath the churning, turbid waters
Below the roiling froth
Deep down where hungry shadows flit
Are silent screams when bodies bit
The crunch of shell and squelch of brains
Leave whispered hopes and scant remains
In silt and muddy broth

So as you drift in restful slumber
Spare a thought for those
Who lie beneath the ceaseless waves,
Know not the peace of earth-bound graves
But roll and rock in fitful sleep
Amid the nightmare of the deep
Their bones to decompose

And when along the sun-washed strand
A wreath of kelp you find
Remember then the maelstrom ferment
And spray and scud and tide and torment
From which the lords of chaos gripped
And tore that stem from rocks they ripped
With hidden lives entwined

Copyright © Bob Goddard 2018

Bob Goddard is a Norfolk-based journalist, author and publisher of fiction and non-fiction books. Details on his website – http://www.timbuktu-publishing.co.uk/

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Harrison Abbott

Weary Castle

Via the steppe, there’s a castle haunted,
Clutching its grace under the rain.

And yet, the stars have it embargoed
Beyond these tumbling clouds,
Wary to allow visibility through,
Lest a new command should take the turrets,
Spilling sight across the land
By the make of a new kingdom.

Jackals, murderers, encompassed clowns
All sit askance from the castle, happily,
Enjoying this service that the public admit;
Transferring dreams by robbery! – boy –
They steal with such a fixation of spleen.

Their verdicts are hooked before trial,
All jurors seeped up with sugary tricks,
Pegged by the grinning crowds below,
In wait to holler by window-speeches,
Iconic regalia adored and copied.

The castle’s weary, these altered days,
Long having been dressed in handsome ivy,
Cobwebs streamed down imperious stone …

One day the masonry here will crack apart,
Rolling in some finale perfect for ghosted eyes.
With age, sighs of wonder turn to sighs of sadness
As slowly the last kingdom breathes suggestion,
Yet won’t appear with her bells jingling.

Maybe loss shouldn’t yet be called, though;
Don’t muffle the trumpets, drain the wine,
Slaughter the guard-dogs yet, lords of timber,
Else the mighty return could lose its triumph.

Copyright © Harrison Abbott 2018

I write prose and poetry in a variety of styles; much of my work can be seen through this blog: http://harrison-abbott.tumblr.com/

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Robert Nisbet

Out in the Rain at Midnight

There was an August rain that evening,
when I escaped the heat and groan of it,
the family council neighbour party thing,
shooting its targets down with sprays
of relish: the hippies, unions, Socialists,
the England cricketers, the immigrants,
the lurking saboteurs of them and theirs.
Then, dolloped now with sentiment,
came one’s Old Lady, one’s Princess.

I fled for relief, day into night time now,
the quiet hearths, the undemanding rain.

These terraces, those cottages, dating back
to Albert and Victoria, had surely had
their share of bigots, sentimentalists
a century ago. But just a decade back

and I think of Mrs. Ossie Thomas telling me
how Ossie, when alive, just had to hear
a Save the Children ad, and he’d be there
with a quid, a fiver, soft bugger that he was.
And the Harrisons’ Down’s Syndrome boy,
fetching his neighbours’ papers, day on day,
praised and pleased and placidly regarded.

Midnight, a ripple of warm rain.

Copyright © Robert Nisbet 2018

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who does not see himself as unduly competitive, but who has recently won the Prole Pamphlet Competition with Robeson, Fitzgerald and Other Heroes, available from www.prolebooks.co.uk

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Phil Wood: Two poems


I drive along grass-tufted lanes;
not brave, not trusting: solitude
maps my straying ways.

The cove shelters a seal and pup;
no smugglers, no theatre of men
scripts the fraying waves.


That sound across the estuary

There’s nothing haunting here
along this lip of land.
Just a curlew. That curve
of beak will conjure smiles
not ghouls. What comes to mind?
The Clangers, Cyrano,
this misting of my eyes?
That girl with wavy hair
along the smile of sand.

Copyright © Phil Wood 2018

Phil Wood works in a statistics office. He enjoys working with numbers and words. His writing can be found in various publications, including: London Grip, Ink Sweat and Tears, Three Drops from a Cauldron.

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Anne Dunford


Waves wash
over the wintry shore.
Worm casts punctuate sentences
along lines of sea- sculpted texts.

Waves wash
higher reaches, shining pebbles
polished smooth by years of tumbling,
glisten with salty gel alongside sea glass.

Waves wash
these gems of blue, green, brown,
that lie waiting to be gathered as
our treasure amongst detritus.

Waves wash
ubiquitous plastic used by man then
washed up on every shore. Those
bright colours belying a deadly outcome.

Copyright © Anne Dunford 2018

Working life was mostly spent teaching and later training with a literacy project in Yorkshire. Since moving to Wigtownshire in 2002, there has been more time for writing. Poems have been published in various poetry magazines and anthologies.  Recently persuaded join the world of social media https://annedunford.wordpress.com/ and Facebook; now on a steep learning curve.

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J.A. Sutherland: Three poems

Poems from An Imaginary Menagerie – a calendar-sequence based on names given to full moons by various Native American people.

MARCH:  Lizard Moon (San Juan)

The Desert Night Lizard: Xantusia Vigilis

To the San Juan, he may be a god.
Poised on a bare rock

in the relative nocturnal chill sits Bill:
uncle, cousin, man-in-the-street to us;

Peopled by an oh-so-ordinary name,
placed tail-up in a jar, ineffectual juror.

How did he come to be there? Nobody knows:

a slither of lit-silver traces his skittering trail
in the once-gold, arid Nevada sand.

With a flick of his tongue and a trick of the tail
he’s gone. Yet somewhere still

his smooth-skinned, wide-eyed stare
keeps vigil. Brer Bill. Herr Bill.


AUGUST: Moon when cherries turn black (Lakota Sioux)

The Blackest Bird

Eskimo legend tells us the world was black,
out of which pall came the darkest bird,
before the owl blessed the ground with purer snow.

Heath Stubbs gave the Raven a hard time over the Dove;
that rainy November which extinguished Eden’s lustre,
sent for clues, he pecked at the entrails of fallen existence

preferring Eve’s blackened cherry to Adam’s peace-offering
fresh from the soil; and the sister’s nocturnal illumination –
corruption and diving, diving – to daylight’s misty spectrum.

Then, in lunatic retribution, silver shadow was eclipsed:
Raven plunged into the dark that bore him in the beginning.
And if the Tower crumble: no great loss. Legend has it, yet.

Besides, he claimed the damp and smelly loam his own.
This strange year, there are more than the months’ number
of ways to view or justify the hidden side of mirrored sun.

I’d rather hear, from the dark side of that bird’s abyss,
Heath Stubbs recalling the Raven’s querulous ‘kark’
than Ted Hughes’ or Joni’s black and ragged Crow.

SEPTEMBER: Salmon Spawning Time (Nez Percé)


Man or beast, goblin or troll, reckless or tame,
Wodwo dwells deep in the woods,
in the dark intestine of the mind’s green eye.

If curiosity killed the cat,
it procured this vain creature’s survival,
climbing through the icy glass of its own image,

the reflection of air and sky and unseen trees
as nihilistic as the illusion it shattered.
However you doubt its existence

time and again the eternal questions exist:
Where did it come from, to where does it go?
Some rabbit-hole: clay’s aorta, within, within,

unreckonable with any system or organ or engine,
hovering on the perimeter of existential reality
while sametime lurking deep among the myths of truth.

Not seeded, laid nor spawned, neither animal,
vegetable, mineral, flesh, fish nor foul;
both animus and anima, moon and mind,

lifeblood from the earth’s deep bowel,
watered by the darkest beams of creativity.
Embryonic omen, could we dice with blasphemy

and say: beginning and end, death and birth,
swallowed, digested, cathartic, reiterated,
deep down things, in the soil, within, within, within?

There is no answer, save the perennial ticking.
Keep searching, Wodwo.

Copyright © J.A. Sutherland 2018

J. A. Sutherland is a writer and performer based in Edinburgh, UK, is widely published in pamphlets and online, and produces work in a variety of forms such as art-books, exhibitions, theatre, spoken-word performance, and on a blog, throughtheturretwindow@blogspot.com

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