Malibu


the minibus sucks the road
like spaghetti
these bubbles fly up and become the air

tonight we travel as a clan
as I move with and from them
this giving away

the glass holds freedom and I drink it
later the girls crowd in the cubicle as I piss
I’ve lost it

my footing, my free -
falling. Nights like these.

Lydia Allison



Hush

A yellow Wednesday afternoon.
I’m hosting you and a secret.
We’re a circle in the front room,
round the coffee table.

Only
I
see the violet balloon
beached on the carpet.
The big purple secret
in the middle of us all,
full of air, rolling in static.

My tongue is stapled to my gum.
Nutty cake grows along my larynx like barnacles.
Purple secret,
nibbling on the carpet dust

and suddenly
I notice how needle-fingered you all are,
sitting here, coffee-toothed,
munching and forking plates.

The air gets fuzzier.
Grandma holding the fine china is scattier,
crumbs are spilling
like the words: the unsanitary ones,
words like her her her

I have an itch.
I want to get the hoover out again.
My tongue is twisting,
the balloon is
mauve swelling
and
just when I brace to take a breath

I swoon to the thought
of all that air
in the hoover bag
three feet from my toes.

Louise Essex



Flash

When my camera was taken the lights went out.
Suddenly the square with fountains in Antibes
was just a place to sit and eat.
The light and glow of the water was over.
I was blind, I was insignificant,
I saw through the same eyes as everyone else.
I had nothing of my own to offer.

Every image is a part of you. I lost them all.
Every view from the hill we climbed
on the little white train in Cannes,
every bookshop in Antibes,
every jasmine-scented street in Grasse,
all gone, scattered into pieces in the breeze,
like tiny square blossoms.

I refuse to picture them being systematically
deleted off a memory card somewhere.
Instead I see them printed and floating on the air
to settle on the sea,
not toxic photographic film but
normal paper, folded
into little boats, each with a poem that describes the
lost image perfectly.

The new camera is beautiful, takes crystal-clear shots
but let this poem be an elegy for the old, for what’s gone,
what will probably never come back.
For my thousand little boats, drifting away across the
Mediterranean
and for my digital companion, faithful and strong.
Like a pet.

That was how I mourned you.

Elizabeth Gibson

Sticky Lines


Pick up sticks
It’s your turn
Can’t quite make out the colours
And in this light your eyes burn.

A bonfire is built
Upon the table
A wooden quandary
Neither side can disable.
A splintered room
Has each go in a fluster
Pulling wreckage from the pile
With all the strength you can muster.

Each sound too quiet against the background public house
Playing Mikado solemnly
Over your last pint.
Trying to bridge gaps with the boys
As sticky lines mark out a dodgy trail
One that no one can follow.

Pick up sticks,
It’s your turn
Can’t quite make out each colour
As in this light your eyes burn.

Just as flames lick the inner city sanctum of home,
You drain the dregs of this game,
One too many played this weekend
Has caused a fall out again.

Like the stench of burning rubber
Against a façade that slips away
Smudges off, orange make up in the bath
A march that changes route to face each churlish tantrum
Drums deafen out problematic noise with laughter.

Elspeth Vischer



Bear Country

There was a time when salmon passed over our native jewellery
while we sewed dogs on the bank,

before we started pulling diamonds from the rough beneath them
and hiding everything we thought was ours in hungry fists.

These are relics we exhibit in colonial halls –
fossils, obsolescent tools and charcoal paint on rock.

They help dispel the fear that we will be the next to fall
and let us ignore the irony of Ozymandias’ trunkless legs.

They are promises from before we caught the world
and wrestled with its trapped pelt.

Our grief for what we have done and what we will do
does not examine itself too closely –

it knows it is empty
and we are exempt from the animal mantra:

take what you must,
leave what you can,
hunt and gather;
eat, make, live.

Jen Anderson



In the Jazz

how
I
mean
so
little
&
yet
value
so
much
the
time
spent on
this
is
a
madness
a
wavering
clarinet
an
anti-
climactic
imperative
derisively
laid
upon
altars
and
steeples
of
notes
it
just
sounds
and
we
hear it

James Lock