Ways I May Have Fallen Short

I didn’t have a sub-tropical anecdote at the right time,
or mention the right music when you listed your favourite lines.

I didn’t pull your chair out in quite the right way,
didn’t say the unexpected things you expected me to say.

I didn’t pull back a curtain to reveal glittering depths,
wasn’t sufficiently casual discussing sex.

I didn’t look like a footballer or talk like a poet,
was too much the gentleman, and didn’t know it.

I curled up my feelings into a tight fist,
didn't make the moves I might have,

didn’t tick those boxes on your list.

Joe Caldwell


Rock, Scissors, Paper

Scissors slice paper to reveal
The rock on which we stand
On connection with rock,
Rusted blades are sharpened.

The future forecasts storms.

Paper becomes transparent tissue:
Lies wear thin, poison ink dilutes.
In centuries the rock will remain.
Scissors, drawn together, may survive.

Sai Murray


Lao Tzu Says

If you don’t want people rioting,
don’t honour their bankers above them.

To keep them from breaking shop windows,
place less value on things.

If you want them steady and at peace,
market doobries within their budget.

When governing people,
relieve their minds and fill their bellies.

The true man of vision
shields the people from steam-rolling news,
and frees them from wish lists.

He constructs a city
where managers will sit on their hands.

Order will prevail most
following the plan of least action.

Matthew Clegg

Memorial

He pauses here most afternoons,
adjusts the weathered wreaths.
He won’t stay long, just time enough
to count a tithe of names he knows by heart.
Then home to catch the evening news,
one more coffin’s slow parade
from the belly of a transport plane.
He puts the teapot down,
and another day ends in Helmand
as two young men kick the desert
from their boots, stare at a camera lens
and think of home as a village like this.
Outside evening settles in the trees,
the street lights come on one by one.

James Caruth


Four Women

Four Women shape my life
moulding me
with the putty knife
of human kindness

Although,
I am not so perfectly cast
that I do not detract from their handiwork
and sometimes - resemble
Barry Manilow
more
than Michaelangelo

Four Women
provide the backing
to an emotionally fraught soundtrack
in the key of life
to the tune of nail biting
and when they strain
they will hear a drunk in the choir
faintly
harmonising

Nathan Mcilroy


Earth Loop

Autumn presses dark on tiny shoulders
prone in the moon-grass forests of the meadow,
hiding, as voices call you back
for home and food and hugs.

But out in the night black fingers clutch you,
halt your rise as the light flits off,
to leave your damp nose sensing
each brush stroke of the freezing reeds through air.
Ears prick up for the death-hushed footsteps
of ghosts as real now as your mother’s call-

you crawl to the substation,
where senses are lost, disabled
by forcefields of frequencies fuzzing, sinking
the octaves of angel circuitry into a
50hz hum.

Ben Dorey