Burton Road

The best tactic for entrapment
is a triangle formation,
past, future, geographical déjà vu
resulting in a loss of the inclination
for self-preservation.
Your name three times, ropes
that are only visible in morning,
the light escaping through a slammed
door, jail cell,
your shuddering body made the keys
scream, and you gave up your disguise.

Goliath lies on the sofa,
Napoleon, Mussolini, villains in reflection,
clear in history, lie
next to the remnants of a red wine ring,
spidering the dust, insects
dissecting the same old thing, and the
answer, as always, is
3.
Three drinks and I am no longer
afraid to scream,
the birds join in,
never singing anyway, and the dog
is in agreement.
Three strings in my throat shake
native, unknown;
finally.
When you’ve outgrown a lover
you will not know till now,
till historical, till you can feel the rope dig and
your torn lips drip the lesson into
your mouth.

This is how you turned me to the archer
from the arched,
built of repurposed leather belts
and wool I couldn’t wear.
This is how you made a marksman
from the marked,
I saw you fall from rank, from perfect
vantage, taller than you, smarter
than repeat tricks, mathematics.
I knew the snow fell here.
I laughed and did not try again.

Lucy Harbron

Dirty Vessels

He calls me a dirty vessel,
Scarred and ugly like a city who turns her back on her children of no wealth.
He says my body is rich.
Vanity a currency.
My mind is poor but knows of its worth.
He calls me a dirty vessel
On a hopeless ocean.
An endless ghetto.
Broken.
Crushed at the bottom of the pile.
Bottom of the wreckage.
My ghost is an addict, hooked on endless escapism.
No way out without
Drugs and melancholy.
Cigarettes and coffee.
A guilty lifestyle of an empty bank account.
Black lungs. Empty Heart. Black Shoes on a grey pavement.
Friends walking barefoot on golden sands.
He calls my body selfish and deranged.
Disgusting.
Vile.
An over-protective parent smothering its child.
Breeding resentment with a spoilt exterior.
I will always be poor and always ignored.
Oppressed by skin and bones.
My body lives in the hills and I am on the streets.
I am selling the same drugs I am taking in the name of bettering myself.
He calls me a dirty vessel
And death is my harbour.

Jordan O'Shea


Last Project

Before the funeral, we hover
In Uncle Duncan’s lounge
Surrounded by his hand-made furniture
And Aunty Olive’s cushions

Guests stoop and shake and weave
Into a tableau of grey and black
Conversation is hushed
Hands are clasped
Eyes dabbed

No plants or flowers, pets or perfumes
No fresh coffee or cinder toffee lingers in the kitchen
No music
No instruments
No florals or abstracts, silks or velvets
No swirls or curves
No scratches or chips
To scar the wooden floor

But here are the manuals and maps
The lines and squares
The taupes and browns, wools and tweeds
The straight-armed, straight-backed chairs and sofa
The shelves of leather bound books
Gilt lettering pressed into dark spines
The chess game left at checkmate
And pinned on the wall
The highly-polished crocodile
Wrestled to death by Great Grandad William

I step out to hang my coat
And from the darkness of the hall cupboard
Tumble the smells of oilskin and rope
Cold sand and seaweed
Canvas and leather
Wax and polish
For a moment I am in the boat, on the beach, in the Land Rover
Canoeing, fishing, skimming stones
I am in wellies and waterproofs
I am in the rain and Uncle Duncan’s voice roars
Louder than the howling wind
I close the door

Aunty Olive pushes her frail arm through mine
Pulls me to their orderly garage where
A sanded box the exact shape of the crocodile
Hangs from the roof
A tin of varnish and a clean brush wait on the bench

Ledlowe Guthrie