Poems

‘Fragrance of roses’

They left the heat of Uganda deep into the night on Alitalia flight 204. Their parents waved, silent on the tarmac. The smell of kerosene gave way to the fragrance of roses on Raihana’s handkerchief. She and Fahima already had a grip on Britain, what with Jane Eyre, The Avengers, Robin Hood. Greeted by thrashing…

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‘In The Museum of Antiquated Offices: Exhibit C, fax machine’

I jerk awake some nights, jabber in tongues of space-age dolphins, a blip blip red-eye scanning lost horizons for a connecting signal. A curl of white paper blooms – like winter roses under glass – briefly warm to touch as grey smoke ghosts of secretaries pass. I crave the tap of polished fingernails the gossip…

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‘The Court Verbatim Shorthand Reporter’

I have wielded my pencil like a sword at 140 words per minute to record the minor mis-doings of the inhabitants of Staines, frantically squiggled dots, dashes, chays, jays, hays and yays ─ in days before a ‘hay’ or a ‘yay’ was a common greeting and Pitman 2000 sounded so futuristic at around a double-decade…

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‘The First Day of Galungan’

Rain, rain, endless tropical rain, day after day. Boredom blooms heavy-lidded with flaming stamens that drive me out out of the villa, in spite of the rain, in search of diversion, out down the long, winding Balinese lane that runs past Pura Petitenget to restaurants and shops. I have the world to myself, but there…

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‘Stones’

Before he came, I lusted for those stones – my flesh should bruise and split, my bones should break to speak the pain of loss and shame, the words we couldn’t speak. He cast in dust the words, “I’m yours”; the heavy breathing crowd clutched stones as heavy as their virtue, hard as heartbreak. The…

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‘Dear Cape Town,’

I would like to give you a giraffe like the one in the central park of Cuidad Juárez. In that northern Mexican town they treat their giraffe like a tourist. I’d watch our giraffe amble along Buitengracht, meander through Bo Kaap and District Six. Volunteers would gently shoo her into the Groote Schuur Estate where she would…

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‘The Have the Want and the Next’

This week I’ve talked about how, by and large, we in the UK are free to express ourselves as we wish, within certain broad boundaries defined by hate speech legislation, defamation law and so on. Wonderful though this may be for many of us, some UK citizens are actually denied this right. They are people…

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‘A Hymn to the Ordinary’

Zsa Zsa Gabor’s very fond of a door especially in oak or a light sycamore – her sister-in-law loves a long corridor and a friend of her father has a thing for his floor – it was Dior before but it’s not anymore – we should try to be more like Zsa Zsa Gabor. Don’t…

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‘Three exercises in style (after Raymond Queneau)’, ‘Acronymic poem (after Schuldt)’, and ‘Snowball’

‘THREE EXERCISES IN STYLE (AFTER RAYMOND QUENEAU)’   ‘ACRONYMIC POEM (AFTER SCHULDT)’   ‘SNOWBALL’   COMMENT Kate Wakeling is a writer and ethnomusicologist based in Oxford. Her poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies including The Rialto, Butcher’s Dog and The Best British Poetry 2014 (Salt). These texts were written on Steven J. Fowler’s Maintenant!…

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‘Wooden’

I am carving your initials into my chest shedding oak in your name, mahogany heavy. I am beside you with skin like saw dust skin is saw dust. Neck braced with trunk, stiff – like the first time. Burning bark under duvets. For all the times we lay in silence thinking of walks, of holding…

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How I Translated It: ‘It makes two signs…’ by Krystyna Miłobędzka

Translating is attending to what might happen in language and what might occur between languages. As readers and writers we know this space intimately – the in-betweenness where we can experiment, hesitate, discover, doubt, try again. ‘“Try” – there’s so much faith in it, and so much resignation. But we keep trying. … Only such…

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‘Look Out Tree’

Two ghosts sat in a tree gusting songs and talking, yakking about the moon round as a bullet hole. The sky is soldered black, yet to be opened by dawn, thunk it with clods of earth and know it never will. Everything but those ghosts has stopped. Grass stopped dog stopped tree stopped whole turning…

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How I Translated It: ‘The mask of the angry one’ by Brecht

The translation of poetry, as well as being, famously, impossible, is, for the translator, the most wonderful and most punishing form of close reading. There is no limit to the aspects of the poem at hand to which the translator must desire to be attentive. Form in all its forms, meaning in all its meanings:…

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‘A Blue and Pink Encounter at the Mall’

  COMMENT Jinny Fisher is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and was previously a classical violinist. She lives in Somerset and is a member of Juncture 25 and Wells Fountain Poets. She has been been, or is about to be, published in The Interpreter’s House, Under the Radar, Prole and Ink, Sweat and Tears. “I wrote (or…

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‘Bound’

  COMMENT Vasiliki Albedo Bennu lives in Greece. Her poems have been published in magazines, recently in ‘The Interpreter’s House’, ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Beloit Poetry Journal’. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize twice. “This poem was written for Claire Trévien’s ‘Cosmic Compositions’. The challenge was to write something inspired by ‘Space Travellers’. My intention…

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‘Andromeda As A Teacher’

    COMMENT Majella Kelly is a poet, photographer and teacher from the West of Ireland. She happens to teaches teenagers in a prefab, behind the main school building, and here she re-imagines the students as her own constellation. The poem came about after a prompt from Claire Trévien on her  ‘Cosmic Compositions’ course at…

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‘Grandma’s Hands’

She wore pigskin gloves so fresh and soft you could almost hear them squeal as she rounded a bend, flicked the giant indicator, flashed me a grin with her own white teeth. We’d drag her squeaking mangle across the rippled concrete floor where patiently she’d feed it – puce slip, cashmere cardi – like knitted…

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‘Conflagration’

i.m. Dominic When he falls, catching his foot on the kerb, he is a nuisance, to be skirted round quickly, like the fly-ridden spew outside The Queen’s Head. Even the pigeons ignore him. His backpack weighs on him, like a brickie’s hod, but struggling up on his knees, manages to right himself, takes small steps…

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‘A Survivor Strips Himself of Guilt’

Think of the trains running deep into the night, the windows a-jitter in their narrow wooden frames; think of your breath sent spinning into the small of my ear. Think of the steam paring loose from your bathwater like bark planed away from the trunk of a tree. Think of the idleness of morning hours,…

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How I Translated It: ‘When I left you, afterwards’ by Brecht

Some notes on my translation of Brecht’s ‘Als ich nachher von dir ging …’ and some hints on translation more generally. First the text itself, with a very literal interlinear translation:   Als ich nachher von dir ging When I afterwards from you went An dem großen Heute On the great today Sah ich, wie…

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‘littoral’

2666, pp.642. “He drew Porphyra umbilicalis, a particularly lovely seaweed, nearly eight inches long and reddish purple in colour. […] There were various species of Porphyra and all of them were edible. The Welsh, in particular, were fond of them.” i had been reading up on instant nori made from greenish laver, on sugar kelp…

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‘Robo-mow’

Alan dreams 256 shades of green, hibernating in his glass docking pod at the bottom of the garden. Self-starting at sunrise, his solar panels slowly energise. Recharged and updated with new kinds of seed, 66 brands of feed and non-toxic weed killers plus the latest on invasive alien species. Alan zips up his latex happy…

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‘She’s a game old bird’

My granny takes canary sips from her service-station tea, jaundiced eyes lantern-bright as she asks, again, who the ambulance is for. is magpie-quick the nurses say, fills her knicker drawer with plasters, rubber gloves, someone else’s dentures. sticks her beak in other rooms Look at’em! Lolling! picks over the injustice like a pigeon pecking at…

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‘At the table’

two chairs. One for me and one for him who will not come.     COMMENT “I live in the north of Germany near the Kiel Kanal. I also live in a lifelong very passionate love affair with language /s. Three years ago I started to study poetry of all ages and nationalities and to…

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‘Poor, becoming moderate later’

If I wis waddir I’d cheenge i da blink o a untrained ee – I’d be warm, laek da pert breists o wid pigeons a smidgeon ower don, a trifle gien I’d be weet, laek monkfish cheeks lattin da saat wash aff afore divin back in tae aa dey keen I’d be dull, laek a…

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