Poems

‘Ice Storm’

Shuffling to the bus stop with the boyfriend who’d cut his visit short, cracked plastic wheels of his cheap suitcase juddering on the ice, I clutched at his coat sleeve and missed. Chin grazed, that deep-freeze smell up my nose, gloveless hands stinging. Close up: thousands of bubbles, suspended in ice. Beneath the cloudy layers,…

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‘asana’

forward fold rolling down each vertebrae the top of the duvet until i’m a penknife or a nutcracker. swing elbows swing head. ensure the release. massage the belly by squeezing it on the thighs good for the guts. a gutsy move this one it makes the hamstrings shriek. a most decisive vulnerability. shift weight to…

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‘Half-empty’ by Romalyn Ante – Primers Shortlist 2017

‘The Philippines must be half-empty; you’re all here running the NHS’ – Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh Drug: Migrationazoline (available in full or half-empty bottles) Indications: ____– prophylaxis of parents who nag like masonry drills, ______saying they did not send you to college ______to be a health-centre volunteer ____– ulcers on the lips for eating…

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‘Baby’ by Amelia Loulli – Primers Shortlist 2017

Most people drown without _______making a noise or splashing. See me here Baby, watch me _______lying out plank, below the surface, all that stillness, all that _______peace, see how long I can breathe down here alone. You must _______trust me, I am your mother after all, don’t think about the firefighter who _______lies to the…

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‘To The Wounded Among Us*’ by Sarala Estruch – Primers Shortlist 2017

  But everyone is wounded a little. What are hearts but purple, pumping wounds? What are we but hearts travelling in skin suits? Today we are tired of listening. This morning we woke with our ears full, cochleae still reverberating with gunshot and the bombs we detonated yesterday in yet another failed coup to colonise…

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‘Athenian Light’ by Kostya Tsolákis – Primers Shortlist 2017

I was born into it in late September, when it’s sweet and hued at sunset like the seeded flesh of figs. Smog meddled with it at the time, hanging over Athens like bad history. And growing up, what use was lyrical light when stuck two hours every day in an airless school bus, my biggest…

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‘Elders of the Pot’ by Jasmine Cooray – Primers Shortlist 2017

They sit in a rainbow of re-used jam jars, watch the traffic of the kitchen, hold proverb and gossip in their gnarled shapes and powders. Every wooden spoon is yellow to the neck. Turmeric, coriander, mustard seed land on the heat of inherited pans, smoke their sour huck into the corners of the house, leak…

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‘Garam Aandey’ by Aisha Hassan – Primers Shortlist 2017

Those ancient cobbles hum with heat long after sundown the shrill cry of the boy with the thermos full of hard boiled eggs for sale the donkey pulling the cart of bananas – refusing to move as the doodh wallah on his bike delivers the milk door to door And here is rain that is…

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‘Old Town’ by Imogen Forster – Primers Shortlist 2017

The churches wear black hoods and on the inebriated street bars shine, all glass and varnish. Voices talk beer and whisky. A boy kicks a bottle down the stank, pigeons sip daintily in the grooves between worn granite setts. The hunchbacked street is an arête, a dry fishbone. Closes fall away from its spine, swallowing…

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‘The May-Tree’ by Yvonne Reddick – Primers Shortlist 2017

Your embrace was the Shelter Stone when the ferns began ____________________to unscroll their questions. You planted a may-tree, and said the whitethorn could not match the bloom in my cheeks. By summer, you swore you’d carry me from Edale to Kielder, to show me the dens of lynx. My vows were the Ring of Steall….

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‘Second-hand’ by L Kiew – Primers Shortlist 2017

___(Penang, 1932) _________(i) Lao ma believes the dead cling to their possessions. My dress is red shantung; its last occupant is heart-broken and tugging on my hem as I step onto the polished floor. My partner is her ex- husband. He holds me out at arms’ length, cold and stiff. I waltz around, around. When…

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‘Limpet’ by Anna Bindoff – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

You told me after all these years, in one Of those sweet, unexpected, piercing lines That we’ve become like limpet and a stone Whose borders can be nowhere else aligned. I wondered if you knew the home’s a scar, Abraded by rotation at the brim And strange exchanges keep them there, shell stars In constellation,…

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‘So’ by Roy Woolley – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

On the dirt road that night, a broken thing with the new patterns leached from its wings – but no clearer signs, hence no way of knowing the destination this rough road might become if I followed the scents these greyish flowers had already lost guiding me. Scanning the thorn-fields and with hours before reset,…

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‘The flaw in the pattern’ by Rachael Mead – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

13 thoughts on wilderness 1. It is a word for something imaginary. 2. The deep blue bowl of sky, the microbial cities in the folds of my skin. 3. Web, palimpsest, machine – nothing can capture it. All we can say is what it is not. 4. Warping the laws of physics, time drifts with…

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‘What the trees do’ by Laura Scott – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

They play with us they want to be us they once were us a long time ago one of them caught the heel of a girl in the crook of its branch, snagged it like a bird caught in a bush flicked her up into its leaves. She cried and the birds scattered so no-one…

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‘Walking with Rilke’ by Linda France – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

When, after a day of rain, evening light plucks us out of the four-square house to rinse our screen-bleached faces and it takes a while to adjust then notice grass heads leaning into each other like our shadows far off to the south intent on their own attenuated adventure woven between sheep, recently shorn and…

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‘River, post-spate’ by Joanna Guthrie – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

………..‘…one broad presence that proceeds by craft and gratitude’ – John Burnside The river reassembles after being in spate. It is small water moving in shining self-interrupting wrinkled glyphs and dimples, a body of thought in movement. It flows severally in adjacent clear layers and overlays takes circular spinning journeys within itself. Having got itself…

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‘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,…

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‘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,…

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‘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…

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‘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…

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‘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…

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‘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…

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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…

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‘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. …

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