Stephen


You wandered into my mind today for the first time in years -
stopped me in my tracks.
You slipped me a little wink and raised your chin, flashed those teeth.
I imagined when I might ever see you again. A funeral maybe.
It might take you a second to recognise me and then
I’d wrap you in a hug too long for you and not long enough
for me, six years too late.
You were a fleeting moment of beauty;
a daffodil
on a cloudy day.

Remember that one night,
drunk on beer
heads together and voices low and eyes wide
and everyone thought that we were lovers (that
was the undoing of us).
You took me to look at
the darkest part of yourself
but all I saw was stars.

It’s been a long time and maybe you’ve forgotten that night,
and maybe you don’t think of me at all,
but I still think of you
as golden.

Kristi Rose



Good days.

1. We text each other back even though we’re busy.
2. I know you love me.
3. We binge-watch shows eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. It’s 3am before we realise the time and sleep.
4. We pester each other with memes.
5. “Here. This reminded me of you.” It’s a picture of a dog, a key chain, a packet of marshmallows.
6. My mother hugs me.
7. My bed is warm. I don’t have to get up.
8. Pastel clouds take shape in every direction, summer and soft; vast enough to stretch my arms out against them.
9. I find a new favourite song.
10. The moon is welcoming.
11. The toe-curling anticipation of tomorrow’s plans.
12. Sleeping on a long car ride. Lazily blinking at the scenery, as the roads wash into each other.
13. You lean against me.
14. A book sucks me in. Hours pass without me knowing.
15. Ugly laughing.
16. A cat takes an interest in me.
17. Exploring.
18. I draw something I’m satisfied with.
19. You share a glance and know you wouldn’t trade them.
20. My mother makes lasagna.
21. The words arrive before the blood comes.
22. A loved one plays with my hair.
23. I find something that a friend would like.
24. Cake.
25. A hug that is long overdue.

Hannah Downs



Old Man, Old Dog

Most mornings we meet the twosome
along the park path. It may be drizzling
or dazzling sun, dead calm or blustery,
the pair of them are always the same.
Neither the bent man,
nor his curly-haired small mongrel
says anything, except rare mornings
of inescapable beauty, when a failure
to acknowledge it would be a sin.

He hobbles slowly in obvious pain
behind his dear friend, who stops
from time to time, as if to be assured
his companion is indeed still there,
holding the leash that binds them,
if only to satisfy a city bylaw that requires
the illusion, if not reality, of control.
They both accept the charade. Time has
weathered them about equally.

We often muse, after our morning meeting,
as we continue our circuit through
to its terminus, how many more
days and walks will this duo be granted?
And what of the two of us,
we who watch this pair and feel,
though we do not know their names,
an unexpected kinship with them?

Glen Sorestad



Untitled

i will sing you songs when thoughts of a sweet escape grasp the tips of your fingers like tightrope you hold close to wind around your neck like reams of a cassette tape

i will hold you together when the day tries its hardest to diminish the iron walls you built yourself with the strength you have that you sometimes forget about

i will listen to your soft breaths as you sleep away the daze that days of old pain leaves your brittle flesh doing it's very best to rot away the good you have inside you

i will be by your side when you do not want to say anything but only hear the comfort of a human heart just like yours beating away like everything is okay

i will stroke your hair if you need me to comb my fingers through to soothe you whilst you close your eyes and maybe remember for a moment that you are remarkable

i will be your voice on the days you cannot speak loud enough for anyone to hear you or your heartbreak that sits on your chest constricting your lungs

i will be looking for you when no one notices that you have tried to erase yourself like the transition of autumn in to winter watching leaves freefall in to disintegration

i will be as far away as you need me to be like another continent or something where the times do not coincide so i cannot see the hurt you want to hide from me

Nasima Begum



My Spanish Sister*

She hugged trees,
made her confession
in their shade.
Her secrets
were dappled, May-green and gold.
Later all aflame.

She made peace
and love and herb tea,
soothed much pain
in others.
No longer a Catholic quite
she loved angels still.

*The shardoma is a Spanish syllabic form: 3,5,3,3,7,5

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley



For My Friends

This is for the friends who stand by me at my worst
who don't shout or curse
but understand my problems
accept my flaws.
They're the ones who make me pause
and consider the cause of my passion and hard work.

It is they who bring it to me.

They do not know how much they've inspired
how many times I've woke up despite being tired
to pen the end of a poem
that may not carry their name
but is an ode to who they are all the same.

My drive is not fame.
I am driven by friends,
to articulate how they have made me who I am.

A thousand thanks may be nice,
but it is unrealistic
so I'm hoping that this poem will suffice.

Jake Ormrod

That summer


We didn't stop running, arms and legs
always bent, chasing hills and clouds,
baked ground barely touching feet.

Pushed by the sun's hot palms,
we startled air, rippled in its heat
as trees streaked past, indistinct.

These days, I run to fill
the growing distance,
to reset a mistimed heart;

no way back to us –
our mirage shrinks, falls on its knees,
scuffing skin on the dusty path.

Karen Dennison



Oranges

We sat on the steps
and picked away at the orange peel with our nails.
It was a long process.
I wished we had been given knives
in our brown paper bags of food,
but no such luck.
So I picked away,
making little process,
my nails full of peel.
And we talked.

I remember eating oranges at high school
in the cafeteria, the new extension,
on the benches,
and it peeling cleanly
and me loving the smell.
Not of the orange, but of the peel.
I may have liked the ritual of the peeling more then
the orange itself.
I don’t know if I really liked oranges that much.

Yet I always come back to sitting on the stone steps
in the Parc Güell in Barcelona.
Scraping away without success,
ruining my nails.
While other people hunted down the mosaic lizard
and the park proper in the sunlight,
we sat somewhere in the trees in the shade on the
cool stone steps
and ate oranges
and talked.

We only got to look quickly round maybe two
buildings
before we were called back to the rest of the group to leave.
The rest of the time was spent trying to peel oranges.
I don’t regret it.

Elizabeth Gibson



Are you Okay? Xx

If I could, I wouldn’t give you wings.
I’d write you happy; no superpowers needed. I’d only take the bad.
I’d stitch the broken sides of your soul together with brightly coloured thread.
You could sleep. I’d take out your heart and fill it with light things,
Bright things; until all the happiness spills out.
I would give until you were full.
I’d get rid of all the messy healing. You’re worthless?
Here, have my eyes: find the worth in them.
You want to find your better self? Okay. I’ll walk with you.
You wouldn’t be alone.
There wouldn’t be bad days. You’d never run on empty.
There could be days devoted to sleep.
The food would be cooked, the laundry done. Work would be finished. There’d be higher pay. Can’t move? You can have my shoulder.
Borrow my legs for a day. Take my lungs if you need them. I would make it Okay.
If I could write you happy, I could help. I’d know what to say when you don’t have the strength to be. I can’t get inside your head. I don’t know how it works. I’m too far away to hold you. But I’m here: at the other side of a text message; on the opposite end of a silent line.

Hannah Downs



Best Friends

(at Dreamland, Margate)

Oh the terror of it, the awful excitement.
What a thing it was for us to do.
The two of us, giggling and up with the sun,
were decked out in our stocking and high heels.
Barely thirteen years old we boarded the bus
pretending we were twenty-one.

How we mocked the old biddies with their plastic macs
and their sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper.
And what looks they shot us, sharp as their needles that
click-click-clicked as neat and busy
as the razoring of their narrow tongues.

Bold as two brasses we sprawled
in our seats to shrug off
their suck-a-lemon censure.
We talked in loud voices of matters unknown
as we day-dreamed our way down to the sea.

But it was not fun.
Although the sun shone all day
the rides were scary and the weather too warm.
Bolder than I you went off with a boy.
My new shoes rubbed a blister on my heel.

You came back with your cheeks flushed pink.
It was late and our shadows seemed to mock us.
We tried not to sleep as the big bus
hummed homeward - but we found
we had nothing to say.

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley



Lizard For Company

Lanzarote, Summer 2012

I noticed you, stick-thin
half-body half-tail
parked in shade
as angled afternoon sun
made an oven
of the narrow solana.

At first you fled
foot-to-the-floor
but came to inch closer
in stop-starts to lick slivers —
banana some days
vanilla yoghurt others
from my index fingertip.

For weeks I watched
your struggle to scale
high white-washed walls
and wondered where
you so badly needed to go.
In August you appeared
on the terrace. Then I knew.

I still recall those earth-tones,
white lines and dots, contrast
against black volcanic rock.
That stare-silent farewell;
deft flicks of textured tongue,
your parting handshake.

Paul Waring



To Sister Friend’s Home

Forget the long drive;
frost-heaved road, moose, our laughter
scatters dusk along
Bishop’s Beach. Bereft of youth,
gray hair wild wanders the wind.

Kersten Christianson