Poems

‘Dawn of a New Age’ by Sue Norton – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

Of ten green bottles, two are glass and make music, ringing the bell of the bottle bank. Eight are plastic: two are scrunched, recycled by the council; one floats in the canal, one rolls in a ditch tossed from a car; one embarks on a sea voyage. Three truck to landfill. It’s a new beginning,…

Read More

‘Fractures’ by David Clarke – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

i This house just moved ………..and all the bodies in it. Our finger-pointed grip on earth dislodged another fraction. Floodlit rigs ………..assault the ground and sky, scarred trucks idle at stop-lights. Now we are tutored to open – ………..this spell of force that conjures each fissure apart, its pitching release. Whatever holds us here, together,…

Read More

‘Windward’ by Paul Stephenson – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

The sea all water, yet receives rain still And in abundance addeth to his store… ……………………………………..Sonnet 135 Could be thirteen, asleep on a beach, the sand palms still, the sea uncertain. No announcement: just the heavens in a sudden rush, but even this much water is never enough. I run for shelter, quick sink my…

Read More

‘Dhanakosa, Scotland’ by Cath Drake – Resurgence Prize, Second Place

The mist came through the glen, past the waterfall ………..roaring vertical, sweeping through trees, the sturdy quivering stems of wildflowers and vines, ………..and uncurled itself across the loch. A heron appeared from the grass, craned its neck, ………..lifted its legs and steered its insect-like body to pierce the mist, disappearing into it ………..with flashes of…

Read More

‘Bomb’ by Emily Diamond – Resurgence Prize, Third Place.

Our ancestors didn’t leave us words for this. Rain, downpour, deluge Do not describe cars and central heating Become invisible, argued-over carbon – Heated air that holds the weight of oceans And, drop by millions of drop, Returns it to us, Filling fields with the fish-coloured back and forth of sudden lakes, Reversing gravity to…

Read More

‘Ilex’ by Seán Hewitt – Resurgence Prize Winner

Distracting myself, waiting for news, I walked until I saw this white cluster of holly growing at the base of a tree, the stems yellowed, the angled clutch of leaves like a bleached coral, a pale antler, almost medieval, like a relic unearthing in the gloom of the wood. Later, still the baby would not…

Read More

Half-Ghazal (for Reneé)

“The word [Ghazal] is of Arabic origin and means ‘talking to women’ (women in purdah, with all that that implies)” – Mimi Khalvati in her Notes to The Meanest Flower   I flinch inside as you corroborate my name, which is your name now. You spell it out over the phone to a call centre…

Read More

‘His Bottom Lip’

Clitoral, like finding a small, hidden part of myself in someone else. Nerve-wet, fleshy – for a white guy, and stained between life-lines with red wine gone black. Only this I point with sharpest teeth. He weighs this up. Eyes roll over what this means, how and where it can lead, all the things it limits. …

Read More

‘Ellengæst’

It’s karaoke in The Globe on Morning Lane: throatfuls of song   of heady beer & beery heads   pushing the pubglow — this hallowed circumference of yellowed light — out to its furthest limits ………………………………… into the beyondwhich where boys with blades and orcish grins kick cans down streets   where daughters of Cain text naked anxieties  …

Read More

‘Three Things Transported Together’

He loves me, he loves me not. The me part of this 8.5 million dollar flower industry. Me all gerber- a-faced and eau de toilette – crushed – Betha plucking Ecuadorian Rose or dainty-nosed Sierra dipping into Bucket Orchid – it’s all for me. Flowers, corpses and sushi in the belly of a plane. Big…

Read More

‘Gaia – Entangled’

She has the grit-heart for her kind – the drive of a plant, ant or virus to rule earth, the place a flood, a famine have in time, the dirt a forest sucks to live forever, the treasure of floating mitochondria, centrioles, basal bodies, spirochete bacteria, each in its own small history, swimming to fill…

Read More

‘In which Piers the Plowman appears to the Dreamer’

In a somur Saturday, wery of swonken ful harde, Y lay in a meadow, swollen river rushing past, fair folk werkynge in feld afar, flokkes belles tolling al the losses of the world. And a black humour gripped me. River, quod Y, from what hidden source springe yow? Fair folk, wherefore toil yow to harvest…

Read More

‘Grenfell’

The average salary in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is £123,000, the highest in the country. The median salary is £32,700. You are burning £50 notes and swigging champagne. No other area in the country has a larger disparity between median and mean incomes, suggesting a large gap between rich and poor. You are…

Read More

‘Henry Harclay’s Ordinary Questions’

It was known that Alexander had fixed gates across the chasm east of the Caspian sea that enclosed those almost people who performed abominations: foetus-eaters, dog-men and the rest. And it was known if even one got through those gates (made by the welding of two mountains) it would be a signal of end times…

Read More

‘Pretty Fish’

The bad sister is lured by gelatinous scales – she slops the good sister’s carp into a pail, but the August sun warms the water, turns it stale. . The bad sister gathers the withered bits: a pelvic fin, a vertebral segment, the delicate inner skin, displays them on her vanity: their bones gleam like…

Read More

‘An Erotic Novel Was My Bible’

I consulted it for details on how to handle pain, learned to wear skirts, to shave my skin as surgeons do before pressing their scalpels in. Thus I was a doctor salving wounds, though I used lotions, perfumes that bore the scent of roses. Less and less did I note the world for I heard…

Read More

‘Where Light Lives’

the revolving doors have slowed down long enough for the dark side to be revisited. I learn to find a glimmer in a house where barns are filled with grain pantries with preserves where rooms release their scent of wellknown words while wanderlust grows from all the windows I learn to write.

Read More

‘Alyson dreams’

After it was over, a speckled bird hatched between my breasts; spread its bloodwet wings on the bed; brushed my bare thighs . . . Sweat siezed my pores. Cottonsoft, the dark purred clawdeep in me. I lay with ivies vining around my head, tiger lily tales in my ears, fingers needling air like lace….

Read More

‘Nine Herbs’

The postman left the first bundle by the gate in your fourth month – red crepe, bound in rope. Inside, a sheaf of rue. Witchbane. When the old landlady came, she helped you pin it above the front door, told you of the local custom. Remarked on its salves: hysteria, a cramping womb. The sickness…

Read More

‘Sugar Envy’

I could lick the back bench of austerity, if that would be useful, if that would be something someone wanted somewhere, or I could go day tripping in a house of mould and sin and meet Envy there, and hear about his inability to congratulate mortgages, promotions, mortgages, promotions, awards, mortgages, “I am happy for…

Read More

‘The Tryst’

  She sits in the park pulling petals off a daisy will he      maybe you cunt she thinks you cunt  

Read More

The Long View, Arnside

The tide was in then out again. So fast it was bewildering: fishing boats flew like leaves, flimsy, unsubstantial, in the streaming gale. The piers grew tall, dripping black weed, the sandbanks breathed and expanded their honeycomb flanks, then, whalelike, plunged again. The vapour they exuded could easily have been children paddling, crouching, digging, growing…

Read More

‘The Same Again’

The pub is lazy wallpaper, psychedelic carpet, the same as yesterday. I sink to the bar, forget what to order while the Friday night dehydrated potted plants wait with sucked teeth, and I want nothing more than to eat all the crisps or marinate in a warm pint of ale and lick my failed ambition…

Read More

The Long View, Arnside

The tide was in then out again. So fast it was bewildering: fishing boats flew like leaves, flimsy, unsubstantial, in the streaming gale. The piers grew tall, dripping black weed, the sandbanks breathed and expanded their honeycomb flanks, then, whalelike, plunged again. The vapour they exuded could easily have been children paddling, crouching, digging, growing…

Read More

‘The Last Sight of Her’

Mouthing sleep in a window of adverts Truth finds herself advertised, with the same calligraphy as exploitative news. I am broken, Truth says, Can’t hold my head up can’t shake the dread settling in the eyes of Truth – cementing-empty-nothing. Truth can’t get out of bed, Truth had a heavy night, Truth makes boiled eggs…

Read More