A Tale of Three Cities by Callum Douglas

 
There’s a triangle that connects the three cities:
it runs from Meanwood, Leeds, to the Plymouth docks,
and then over the salt to Carcassonne.
It’s a skewed triangle, but then these are scalene cities,
united less by three angles than they are
by desire to form a square.
 
The triangle meets at Terminal Three.
Leeds brings the ale, Plymouth the gin,
Carcassonne the carafe of Wine.
Do they drink wine in Austin, or is it all Bourbon
and Petrone? They swill the question and drink it wordlessly,
as three cities leave the plane wobbling on foundations of sand.
 
A hundred and eighty degrees venture into the Texan air.
They spin hula-hoops and tall tales in the night,
until Plymouth falls off his stool and into a kaleidoscope
of stars. Two cities can’t form a triangle,
but they can venture a line, with a European passport
and the kindness of strangers.
 
Austin sunrise welcomes the three cities and gives them a hug.
Austin sunrise takes them dancing, and floating,
sidewinders in the streets. More twin city than a sin city,
the three points look warmly towards the glow and bury their charters,
in the elk-ranch soil amongst gnarled roots of the musical tree.
The three cities have become four, but squares don’t twinkle
as diamonds.
 
 
 

Two poems by Jenny Danes

 
An Unlikely Love Poem
 
We’re in beating sun, sticky and soaked,
and she’s got her legs out: strong calves,
a patch by the ankle where the razor’s missed.
 
She’s talking fast, flitting through topics
like finger-dipping-pies, sharp mind firing
over my head. My head’s turned
 
to listen, and I feel better to notice
she’s sweating too, that sheen
beneath her sunglasses. There’s something
 
in her profile that blazes, these confident
features; straight sure-of-itself nose, mouth,
a stare to slice you with. I picture her
 
with a man, all stubble and large hands,
he leans into my vision, blocks her
from me, claims her with his mouth.
 
 
 
Mother
 
You lie small in your bed,
         door open from the long practice
                  of children calling in the night.
 
I’m feeling young, so I wade
         through the darkness, ask
                  for a cutch. You pull your arm out
 
and offer it; I kneel, lean
         in to hug the only part I can reach.
                  My face buries in
 
above your collarbone. I close
         my eyes against the dark,
                  try not to think. I try not to breathe
 
out straight onto your skin, knowing
         the horrible hot wetness of it.
                  I try to smell you: not sweat,
 
not perfume, not the duvet’s
         washing powder, not even home,
                  but something inherent, primal,
 
something of myself, a body,
         the same flesh –
                  the way all children find a pillow
 
in their mothers’ upper arms,
         how they burrow, heads butting
                  like a cat marking its scent,
 
or recognising its own:
         this same ilk, this strange,
                  deep comfort.
 
 
 
 
 

Two poems by Will Anthony Cambell

 
Aulis
 
Now I sing of that day our lord minding the motions
Of Greece to war as captain heard the words of a seer
Agamemnon was swallowed whole by the heaving wind
That hankered about the will of him there in Aulis
The sea boils with the bile of Fate
All froth no food
Fleet and tide famished
Not a flicker no faint move no flinch
Marshalled in flesh
Meat swings on man-bones
Tempest tearing down cables stuck in wind-teeth
Sails swallowed whole down with the hearts of men
Minds lilting in some other place off course
As the wash carried down the blooming Pride of Greece
Calchas the priest waging war
Words set up mid-wind
“Atrides know Artemis craves the blood of your house”
Rods thrown to rocks
Cannot stop a scream
Father drawing virgin blood
The command sped out of heaven
“My daughter doom is mine
Darkness darts dances down out
Life leaving you there
Traitor to one or the other
Desert the cause of Greece our pride our fame
Or drive the blade thin-end first
Down through the throat of Argos' dearest daughter”
Decision was not his that day he cried
Law be as law so shall all pass to please
 
 
 
 
Agamemnon’s Watchman
 
Freedom freedom I crave O Gods
Well have I watched wide eyed wide awake
Up in the sky down like a dog on his arms
Kept up in the kennel on Atreus’ roof
I track the turning forces of the heavens
The stars some are named I know them all
The shape of the seasons
Snow giving way to the well worked wheat
All shed or sewn by sparks amid the dark
 
Now my looking longs to find a flare
A lick of flame flickering over Troy
To me it would talk telling of the City’s fall
I long to find a flare or lick of flame
Oh flash find the song
‘Troy is ours we took her in the dark’
Such is her ordinance, mistress mine
She who works her will as would a man
 
And this watchman sings out into the night
Not knowing if he sings the golden grace to god in triumph
Or the dirge that drives the chariot cherishing his master’s flesh
 
Just speed him to our walls
Just speed him to our walls
That I might touch his tender hand
 
He has no other words
All else sucks in the holes in the dirt from the hooves
A great ox at labour on his tongue
Listen
               You can hear the
                                                Nothing
Where his words were once
 
But the bones of the house like limbs
Are left beneath the biting blood-crazed bitch
Weeping black as pitch
Now they would sing
Would send out the story well
Had they hot pink tongues to curl
 
There is only silence here
A starving house
And only those who heard a murmur
In the time before have pace
To pick some scraps out of a great feast past
 
He has no other words
All else sucks in the holes in the dirt from the hooves
A great ox at labour on his tongue
Listen
               You can hear the
                                                Nothing
Where his words were once
 
 
 
 

Two poems by Ali Lewis

 
I also speak of the slim cormorant’s grace, 
 
of the making of jam, and the intricate physics 
of rangefinder cameras. I speak of the patient 
ballooning of marrows, the weight of the soil, 
and the home-manufacture of phosphorous matches. 
I speak of the tameable nature of ferrets, 
the scarring of trees, and Nottingham lace, 
of needlepoint, trams, and The Glorious Dead, 
and trap streets in Ordnance maps. 
I speak of the late obsolescence of watches, 
and the perils of mushrooms picked in the fields. 
I speak of the ease and pleasures of brewing, 
of bird-houses, bird-calls, and the feeding of birds. 
I speak, once again, of the cormorant’s grace, 
of my grandfather’s slides, the swan and the egg, 
of the twitchels and gennels that memories take, 
and the ways that the dead come back.
 
 
 
Bluebottle 
 
To that keyed-up bluebottle 
measuring and remeasuring 
out windows up for curtains, 
even this, our undecorated 
room, full up with nothing 
but the three of us, 
               has half 
a dozen open floors, as many 
ballroom ceilings, a line-up 
of rotating, variegated walls; 
its example has us flat-out 
on the carpet, paddling up 
the plasterboard. 
               We scooch 
our arses to the skirting, plan 
photos for our newest walls.
 
 
 

A Death in the North by Adam Seville

 
       He was coughing up black stuff 
that we used to pick out of the gutter
that only butter got out when melted.
On a hot day, the Kids
who never had everything bought –
the video games and all of it for nothing –
sat around as a myth for the other half.
 
       & and he’s keeled over… watching
the parquet floor or not I didn’t know;
I couldn’t see through my door, the wall and my
Action Men  who didn’t really want to know 
despite all the war stories on their soles.
 
       And my mother, my working Mam,
walks in with a log book and a black ledger pen
but she gets the keys and a mouthful
when he’s done keeling and coughing
the fob out at her feet, fisting back tears.
But the car’s outside bleeding and the
black stuff’s in the gutters again,
all out across the streets.
 
       The window was down and the
rock was hitting the roof harder and
faster than the shouts behind. The voices
inside his head told him to quiet down as he
rolled the dried Drum between yellow fingers. 
 
       The next day was when the mantelpiece,
newly- varnished, was without him.
A son had forgot his Father’s Day, walking
home and now just the memories
remained of the good kind of black stuff.
 
       Oh the hot days are still there;
Just less of us in the streets now,
and my Mam, my Mother I mean, misses the days
she stood on the front shouting us all in for tea.
 
 
 
 
 

Seven Day Sleep Assessment by Sarah Gonnet

Changed to Flamazine.
She drew her life as a stream. That all emotions lead into one.
O.T.
Was administered.
Broke CD.
Stab.
Bash.
Head, arm, legs, staff…
Wall.
She was pleasant throughout the morning.
She uses unpleasant language.
She did not feel that this could help him.
Interacted well.
Although mostly talked about ……….
Needed several prompts.
 
 
 

This poem was created out of found words from Sarah's medical records. In this way Sarah gains back control over her bipolar illness and the way it is described by medical professionals.