The Crawl

Entwined with those cold winds, edging our way
home; stoned, and wrapped up against the world that
has yet to inflict its climatic evils upon us. We held
our collected breaths, our lungs heavy under the onslaught.

You, stood on the corroding brick wall, that surrounded the
sky-rise flats, the lights of which stared down upon us like
a thousand disapproving eyes. Each one however, seemed
as blind as the last, raising their eyebrows at our
every move.

We left those squalid rooms of peeling tiles that curled
at the corners like sun blistered, peeling skin. The walls
as blank as they were damp, yet as inviting as the
abandoned super-market, that our idle hands could never
leave alone.

At the bus stop we leave tags and crumpled Rizlas, the
shelter at this time offering cover from the passing blue
lights and neighbourhood watch. Our sly laughter offering
a welcome distraction from any mis-interpretation, our
hands never bound.

As the breeze settled, through the transparent screens,
that were shattered into tiny fragments like mud stained ice,
we once again halted the orchestration of this shambolic
parade, and again remain the drunken conductors of
a soulless chaos.

Jonathan Butcher

Saturday

Summer is ending and leaves turn
Olympic gold and lies
and long lenses are in the papers
men read in the sunshine.

In the sunshine and last night’s clothes,
students stroll home through the suburbs
and cyclists turn corners
under bill boards and vapour trails and blue.

Blue weekdays and bubble wrap rain
give way to a Saturday like clean towels,
like coming into land, like stretching
and breathing cold air, heavy and slow.

Heavy and slow, doors open
and streets are occupied by tables,
and tables by people,
and people by their musings.
A bus idles over the road,
waiting for them to get on.

Joe Caldwell

Sentences

Every sentence
is a sentence
in as much
as it pins down an idea.

Time served
on its own
will not
reform it.

Only a paraphrase
can do this.

Tristan Moss

St Francis in a Sheffield Pet Shop

A child runs his fingers along the bars
like playing glissando on piano.
St Francis frowns at the young lad,
his fingernails the length of talons
tap the boy’s collarbone that rings hollow
and he flees downstairs out into the street.

Alone with his sisters the birds
the cockatoo screams for attention.
Francis looks into the cage,
the quiet is ringing.
It’s white head tilts to one side,
the crest feathers raise to a Mohawk.

Peach faced lovebirds hop perch
to perch and back again.
The mirror is a framed disk
and our saint knows the 50-60
heart beats per minute are being wasted
quick as a tick of a wristwatch.

But it’s the Zebra Finch that makes him weep,
pecking at its feathers
it looks out with streaming mascara eyes.
The urge to unhitch coop doors
he imagines reaching up to the elbow,
being on a spot-lit stage drum roll
confetti of birds from conjurer’s cuff.

Karl Riordan