Let Us Play

Let’s dig tunnels.
Let’s build bridges.
Let’s get close
like clouds of midges.
What was under
Mr Brunel’s hat?
His love-letters
And his sandwidges.
Let us cross that big divide.
Let us go and coincide.
And with the space between deducted,
Let us mind what’s been constructed.

You provide the motion and I’ll start the debate.
You provide the provender and I’ll supply the napkin
and the plate.
Let’s combine this life of mine with your own
slender fate.
Let me elaborate.
Let’s be thick as thieves can be.
Let’s thicken up the ice and then entice
the world to skate.
You be narrow, I’ll be straight.
You be weight and I’ll be volume.
Let’s make a pair of zeros
make a bigger figure eight.
Let’s collaborate.

John Hegley
From Peace, Love and Potatoes (Serpent's Tail, 2012)

Killing the Azalea

I noticed it wasn’t doing well,
had spent weeks moving it from
one room to another replenishing
water in the saucer as I had for
my late cat.

It wasn’t an unwelcome gift
and faced with the choice between
the living and the dead, in the flower shop
I opted for the former: the white blossom
against vivid green; it looked like a survivor.
I felt I must remain hopeful for your sake too.

A day of forgetting and blossoms shrivelled.
I felt depressed, resumed my regime
and was elated when new shoots arrived.
I owed it something for remaining.

Then things happened; I kept walking past it.
Other things happened; Why was it important after all?
It became less a plant and more an installation.
Removing it eventually to the bin,
the saucer watched me.
Apparently it isn’t difficult to kill an Azalea
though the saucer still watches me.

Mary Carr


I am counting seconds
With my eyes closed.

Checking and rechecking.
Feeling for their edges.

Turns out they are spongy
Like chambers in a heart.

They have resistance;
Wet texture.

They stack
Like vertebrae

And I am slipping
Silent steel

In at the weak points;
Scooping out blood,

Spinal fluid,
Fibrous connective tissue.

I’m checking that I know
What a minute looks like.

Vicky Foster

The Condition

Where do you feel the pain?
I hold my hand across my breast bone
and cough, my chest rattles, shaking out
a series of dull echoes.

How long have you been experiencing symptoms?

Years, I reply. I thought it was normal so I have just lived
with it - but the condition has got worse in recent months.
My jaw is constantly clenched, frequently I've felt like
I can’t breathe, my airways are constricted and tight,
it’s as if my lungs are a size too small. When I started
to cough up furballs, the size of sadness,
I thought I should seek help.

Ros Ayres