Proverbs

 

Harada O-kinu of The Storm in the Night

was cherry-fresh; her shaved eyebrow

borrowed violet from the rainbow’s edge

the day she was sold to a pawnbroker.

She redeemed herself, shaving bamboo

into his sticky rice. The son of Osaka,

they say, ruined himself because of food.

 

The headsman served Takahashi O-den

with his cutter’s bill. She had murdered

for her lover, indebted over his brocade.

He left her in the cemetery, her haiku

cut in stone. A public lavatory stands

by her grave now. The son of Kyoto,

they say, ruined himself over clothes.

 

Hanai O-ume was a theatre woman

who became the subject of a play:

from geisha saving for a teahouse

to the pimp eyeing her up there …

By willows, in a fine soft rainfall,

she cut his lights. The son of Edo,

so they say, ruined himself looking.

 

 

© Ian Duhig

Picture 10122785, print by Kitagawa Utamaro, early 19th century

 

 

Ian Duhig has written seven books of poetry, most recently The Blind Roadmaker  (Picador 2016), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation shortlisted for the Roehampton, Forward Best Collection and TS Eliot Prizes. A former homelessness worker, Duhig still works with socially excluded groups but in a more creative writing capacity, He has worked with a wide range of artists in other media and is currently engaged in two projects involving music. He writes prose as well and contributed to Comma’s Refugee Tales II released this year. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Cholmondeley Award recipient, Duhig has won the Forward Best Poem Prize once and the National Poetry Competition twice.

 

Mata Hari

 

On the bridge we spot a woman on tip-toe,

in a bid to catch what is left of the light.

The bronze holds her steady – to silence

the jangle of bracelets and belts.

 

She presents her best angle;

chin raised to the December sky,

hands held in dramatic pose,

and looks back over her shoulder

 

at a barge disappearing from sight.

This was the view from her father’s shop,

where she tried on hats and pouted

at her own reflection in the glass.

 

 

© Stephanie Conn

Picture 10169205, unattributed photograph, 1905

 

 

Stephanie Conn was born in Northern Ireland in 1976. She worked as a primary school teacher and developed and taught the literacy programme Passport to Poetry.  In 2013, Stephanie graduated from the Creative Writing MA at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University, Belfast. Stephanie’s poetry has been published internationally.  She is a former Poetry Ireland ‘Introductions’ poet.  Her work has been shortlisted in competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award and Red Line Poetry Competition; highly commended in the Doire Press, Fool for Poetry and Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet competitions and the Gregory O’Donoghue Poetry Competition; and placed third in the Dromineer Poetry Competition.  In 2015, Stephanie won the Funeral Services NI Poetry Prize, the Yeovil Poetry Prize and the inaugural Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing.  In 2016, she won the Poetry Business Poetry Pamphlet Competition.  Her debut collection The Woman on the Other Side was published by Doire Press in March 2016. Her pamphlet Copeland’s Daughter was published by Smith/Doorstep in June 2016.

 

The Breaks

 

Godrevy, Cornwall, August 2014

 

We’ve stopped here every day
this week, at least for an hour,
window shopping the sights.

 

The lighthouse off the coast
is weather-worn, a guide that
brings us back to our senses.

 

We’ve much to wring from each
and every look at this scene,
let it settle, then leave.

 

I’ve caught the sun and hold
it tighter still in my skin;
adding more to let go.

 

The homemade snacks are gone,
but feeling blue in this light,
near this water is hard.

 

Your warmed-up front and back
emerge, all tired from the waves,
sea-salt covered, surf-shined.

 

We’ll sit and watch you skip
over the wrought ironwork
made by the bladderwrack.

 

We swear returns and take
a stone per head, souvenirs
discarded once we get home.

 

 

© Mat Riches, previously published in Obsessed With Pipework 79

Picture 11357623, photograph by Andrew Besley, 1970

 

 

Mat Riches lives in Beckenham, Kent. He is a father and husband. By day he is a researcher for ITV, at night he is a trainee Bongosero. His work has been published in And Other Poems, Clear Poetry, Obsessed With Pipework, The Interpreter’s House, Atrium, Amaryllis, Under The Radar, and Ink, Sweat & Tears. He blogs at: https://matriches76.wordpress.com

 

Storm Gertrude

 

it was a very it was it was very

gusts of up to to up to here

homes without power bridges shut

shut shutters shut and so shutters so shut

wind windy night more prudent not to

not not to venture to not venture out

can cancelled not flights no flying not flight

is considerable what what is what

what which is what warnings

worst hit by them frequent and so

brought down and heavy the trees

and the trees trees windy down so

 

 

© Jill Sharp

Composite picture, with thanks to Jessica Talmage

 

 

Jill Sharp grew up in the New Forest and now lives in Swindon, where she runs regular writing workshops. Her poems have appeared in magazines, anthologies and newspapers, most recently in The Interpreter’s House, Envoi, Poetry Salzburg Review and Prole, online at Amaryllis, And Other Poems, and Ink, Sweat & Tears, and in The Morning Star and Los Angeles Times. Her book about literary connections to place, Written in Stone, was published by English Heritage in 2005, and her poetry pamphlet Ye Gods by Indigo Dreams in 2015.

 

Breakdown

 

In London town a stranded bus

looks awkward, sheepish, as if it’s woken up

in a Piccadilly Circus nightmare.

 

The driver frowns,

then, as if oblivious to fuss pins a note

to the cab door that it’s his bus

 

and if anyone wants him he can be found

in the cafeteria pretending an unconcern

he doesn’t feel and uploading hot-dogs

 

to his Instagram. Anywhere is better

than here stuck waiting for an engineer,

the Dales are lovely at this time of year.

 

A red sea of commuters parts around

the fallen icon, umbrellas abound, wielded

in grim determination to board.

 

Even a bus going nowhere is better than no bus.

Inside on one of the seats is found

a set of prayer beads

123456789123456789in a brown paper bag.

 

 

© Frances Spurrier

Picture 10556433, photograph by John Benton-Harris, 1960s

 

 

Frances Spurrier’s work has been widely published and anthologised, most recently in The Poet’s Quest for God (Eyewear, 2016). Publication credits for reviews, interviews and poetry include New English Review, Wales Arts Review, The Interpreter’s House, Tears in the Fence, Staple, South and Write out Loud. Her first poetry collection, The Pilgrim’s Trail, won the Cinnamon Press Collection Award and was published by them in 2014. She is currently working on a second collection. Her interests lie in the area of the connections between language, spirit and the environment. Frances blogs at https://wordpress.com/view/volatilerune.blog