Quiet Men

Quiet men, nestled in broadsheets; sheds of home brewed ale; on allotments, thick fingers raking soil.

Smoke detectors for drama, experienced with the quickly inflamed, animal- tamer voices: balm, reasonable, low.

Men who dispel fights with a palm on the shoulder and a slow walk home; the night zipped shut like a tent.

Men who make vaults of closed doors, who leave you ranting, straining at your own skin, split with rage, a tomato on boil.

Sometimes we gather: your partners, your sisters, huff over your muteness, polish your stone for mineral glint:

I just need him to bloody say something,

but silence is something you walk, yogic on its hot coals, that steady breath through all that stings.

The rest of us gabble around its edges: heat we flood our senses to avert but you’ve walked that narrow strip all your lives.

From one edge to another we walk across with you and we walk without fear.

Jasmine Ann Cooray

Know Your Enemy

We will only achieve temporary comfort by the extensive use of irony.
Recycling plastic carrier bags contributes to global warming.
It is too late to just plant potatoes and live gracefully.
Politics is dead.
Along with frogs, librarians are in danger of extinction.
Slavery is alive and well and we are wilfully looking in the other direction.
If Facebook were a country, it currently has the world’s 2nd biggest population.
95% of all statistics are made up.

We are children of Thatcher, Blair and Cameron, and are kept happy playing with the toys of choice and new technology.
You will solve nothing by poetry, even though it might say everything.
It is probably time for the Arts Council to give its remaining money to the Green Party.
Comedy is the last refuge of ignorance.
We should not speculate about monkeys, typewriters and Hamlet since we do not know for sure that Shakespeare was not a monkey.
We will achieve only temporary comfort by the extensive use of irony.

Matt Black

Waxing and Waning

Before sunrise,
there’s a limbo
that stretches on for chapters
and I can’t find you
under our picnic trees
or at the train station
where we once waited
in the snow.
So I go on,
hiding in the belly
of our last nights,
waiting for the moon to wax
and pull me out.

Amy Charles

Brewer’s Yeast

They leaned in but if they kissed, I’d long since looked away
to Peanuts on the Evening Standard’s back page. Chicken
sizzled on the stove; he’d put a bottle on the counter
and a package wrapped in two sheets of brown paper.

Did he say Darling? Was there a joke? There’d be laughter,
lowered voices, as if keeping me at bay made their
twin beds closer. I never saw their lips meet
or his moustache clipped and prickly against her cheek.

Afterwards I’d tease apart
the knotted string, roll the soft parcel from its skin,
crumbly grey-white; sneak a teaspoonful, alive
and bitter, unlike anything.

River Wolton

Seven things to do with green beans

Curl them into green spirals of eternity
Lie them across your tongue, whilst thinking about the hungry

On fuzzy felt, create pictures of English country mansions
Watch them grow on your windowsill, whilst on clerical error benefits sanctions

Give them to Kerry, of Gamesley Women’s Group,
Who makes the best green bean soup in Europe

To a soundtrack of Vincent Price reading Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs,
Across David Cameron’s eyebrows, staple two green beans

Boil them, mash them, make a face pack
Cut them into slices, count your luck

Lie them across your belly, whilst thinking about the hungry
Curl them into green spirals of eternity

Matt Black

Written for Pat Javanaud, Gamesley G52 Women’s Group, Fareshare and the Food Bank movement