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17. Featuring: Lesley Quayle

+ Raymond K. Avery + Brian Blackwell + Kenneth Gurney + Suzanne Hermanoczki + Khalid Khan + Ian Mullins + Kerry Orange + A D Winans

A to B – B to A

(Whitehouse Lane)

each day,
the porridge sky
the spitting jogger
the chafed thigh and crotch
the solitary gutter- boot
the ragged breath
the polystyrene coffee-cups
the nudge of moss
the sump of kiss kiss kiss cans
the scuff of grass
the wind-flayed plastic
the tumbling jackdaws
the butts and gobs
the herd of cyclists
the dog-shite coils
the heeling collie
the pizza poultice
the loveless line of road
the tarmac blistered up
the stitch in side
the burrs of sleet
the brown gate.

This Child.

This child of ours says he’s
always broke
snorts coke smokes dope
life’s a joke he said
you’re off your head
you’ll wind up dead
weren’t brought up know better I said

This child of ours borrows
so much cash
too flash not flush
so rash this rush
to have it all misled
by hype and overfed
on junk drunk on illusion I said

This child of ours this man
we hardly know
yet knew watched grow
the slow years flow
gather momentum go
the child has fled
you worry too much he said

Cuckoo

We’ve been left a cuckoo child,
hungry and damaged, bisected by anger.

He litters our view of a cosier world,
smears his dirty protest like a sick pup;

having only ever seen the view from the cheap seats,
he has decided to shit on us now from the gods.

His quadrophonic rage is deafening,
us and them, his mother and himself,

there’s no room for simple affection,
his borderless emotions roam unchecked

and his inconsolable lust can’t help but defy –
his days are clandestine journeys along perilous edges.

All the safe houses have fallen down,
scrapped under the hammer of his gaze.

We have been left a cuckoo child,
lost in his tunnel, waving a lamp at the last, late train.

Shoals

This fish,
and this, and this,
neon,
there there
glass splinters ascending,
double helix of sparks
unfolding outwards, upwards,
breaking open the blueblack
scale by scale,
brief silver, copper, metalled green,
needles of violet, verdigris, vermilion,
luminous chemistry,
drawn to the surface.

The lantern’s halo stretches
wide and radiant, like an open mouth,
the dark gape teeming,
stuffed with herring,
foaming, lathering light.
I reach in, feel ice cold
rise up my fingers.
A blizzard of fish, bright as sleet,
tender as kisses,
streams through my hand is gone.

Rosalind

Was the first to do it. Jail bait at thirteen.
A casual mention in the dinner line,
then gave a feline stretch, a lazy yawn,
“Christ- not fish pie again.”
On our way to the bus stop, illegally hatless,
“What’s it like?” I asked, voice snatched
by the perpetual squall, frisking our dresses.
“Depends.” Down her nose at me, hair thrashed
wild by wind. “On what?” I chewed my lips.
Didn’t want to appear too interested – or stupid.
We reached the scrum for buses before she tipped
her head close but the swell pitched forward, hurried
upstairs for the back seats. Left her behind.
She never did tell me. Had other things on her mind.