Editors of the workshop magazine are asked to identify three favourite poems from their edition.
Sue Spiers, Editor of OUP 201, selected the following poems. Congratulations to Barbara and Nigel.
In the forty-first year of our marriage
we sleep in separate rooms on separate floors, use separate bathrooms There is only one living room which at the moment is exclusively yours. How to disinfect soft furnishings? We take turns to use the single kitchen, and swab all surfaces before and after. We hear each other often calling from our parallel worlds. The cat, confused, goes from one to the other with affection or infection, quite possibly both. How distant our ruby weekend now seems - an expensive hotel in Bath, with staff who, knowing the occasion, plied champagne and chocolate. How we walked hand in hand along Georgian terraces. admist careless crowds breathing the same air. How long it was that we dared to touch, to feel our skins flex and merge as if we were one. Barbara Cumbers Psychopathogen I'm a globetrotter, skipping over borders unannounced, travelling incognito though you'll know I have arrived when my hand hooks into yours, and won't give up its grip; when my breath corrodes your throat; when my weight falls upon your chest as your lungs flood. President or pauper, you're all the same to me just numbers in a sum. You'd like to wash your hands of me, but you'll need to catch me first and I'll ensure you do, then slip away unseen from the siren scream to keep the total climbing, the records crashing, the headlines coming and be for eternity the measurement of time. Nigel Kent from his pamphlet, Psychopathogen, Nigel Kent, Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2020. Eric Karoulla, editor of the milestone edition OUP 200, selected the following poem. Congratulations to Nigel.
Kimberley Pulling, editor of OUP 199, selected the following poems. Congratulations to the poets.
I am plastic and prettily floral made from evil petrochemicals like too many past contents. I hold her 'must haves', they've changed decade by decade; rouge, pale lipstick, eye-liner and mascara in the Twiggy years; smokey shadows a la Dusty Springfield, Cathy McGowan, the exotic Chrissie Hynde. Claggy slap in her corporate era with dark lip gloss, concealer: can't go out without it. Always the rouge, her first purchase, a livener applied by brush, renamed blusher, remains. Blusher is now accompanied by kohl —mascara's gone— the contents have changed but we're the same, she and I, the same. My creases hold traces of silica, a pink stain from the brush a few smears of black that resist her cleaning cloth. My zip sticks on occasion. Scars and scuffs on my faded flowers but no more slap, good riddance to that. Polly Stretton © 2019
The Red Address Book Half-closed doors, An old address book, Silhouettes in a light outline, And you peer through at corridors; Where you have walked are skeletons, Shadows are climbing up a wall. The sun is low. What is the name Of the house you are standing in? Is that a crime scene you perceive? The uncrossable lines of time. Across the river floats a dream. There are figures I never knew From an age that’s vanished from me: That I can say sincerely, though Their footprints are crossing the page. Have I made the past a taboo? My thoughts are damp; the words are dark. Strike a match in a muted room; It flares briefly, then sputters out. I take a box of memories out, Though there is water near my feet. How they flared once, these vanished days! I rifle pages: those dry sticks, If I can make them dance again, Will throw some light on my grey face, Though the wind blows me inside out. Rob Lowe Us Herring-ghosted, the gutters fill with water And the penny falls sound their alarms over the North Sea. The old kingdom of nets disgorges its bodies here and there, Bloater, Woodger and Sons, kipperers, harvest, smack, All under erasure, all smiles In broken and unbroken kinship that once made the world, That washed these words from the Friesian islands And made this place. In the caff an order is made for bûter, brea en griene tsiis, And passes not unnoticed; Because all is ill enough to dream again in Anglo-Saxon, And all is ill enough for nightmare to ensue. To find ourselves like this, As we always do in our longships Of menaces, chips and rage and gravy, Is to find ourselves ironically not drifting, But docking with England, first, Uninfected, Disaffected, Watching in a phantasy of tides For the guttural homecoming, uniglossic, pale, Picking over the seaweed, the Syrians, the kids, White eyed and up, up the beach to the settlement, And then to the burial at Mucking, Where we say we know exactly where we are, Where what we say is no more than we are, When what we say is pressing us Beneath the sea, beneath the ground. Jacob Lund
Nigel Kent, editor of OUP 198, selected the following poems. Congratulations to the poets.
Cessation White on white. A paler shade, she wore it, not with pride. A mask of red, may well have proved a truer place to hide. White on white. In drifts, it fell. Abandoning the trip, red boots discarded... hope? Perhaps we might avoid this censorship. White on white. So crisp, so clean. This sterile air offensive, why such purity should wear red pearls, where sanctions live - but none apply. Jane Avery Wilko at The Railway - Roxette Called from the bar at the local pub six years after the medics said he wouldn’t be here he owns the stage, talks through the verse and rolls back years in the middle eight with that toe-heel shuffle and staccato charge across the floor the staring eyes and machine-gun stance guitar aimed at the audience whose mobile phones are raised as if to deflect the shots while filming every chord “Just another Sunday” someone said at the Railway in Southend, as over forty years are brought again to life and somehow there is magic on the stage from the man who has the tricks to get his business fixed. Adrian Green A Jug of Flowers We picked nothing that mattered but she was entranced We wandered the garden looking Pink was her favourite colour She needed help to find stems that were long enough It was hard for her to break them She's gone back now to a stiff new uniform and the first days in a classroom Only the flowers are left the hydrangea partly battered by the wind chive flowers with stalks too tough to eat and a weed which my book informs me is marjoram In the small brown jug her flowers fade Exhausted I can't bring myself to pack her toys away Jenny Hamlett
Julie Gilligan, editor of OUP 197, selected the following poems. Congratulations to the poets.
Always in my heart
They emptied the shed first,
I heard them breathing in my grandad's life
and coughing it out in vulgar jokes.
Suffocating his gentle tobacco with
their sweat and bacon rolls.
They carried his life away in a careless crocodile
of glue pots, door handles and towering jars of nails.
They dropped his treasured vase
and walked across the shards like so much rubble,
my grandma gummed to their boots.
After they had gone the shed was bare.
I said sorry to his shadow and whispered my love
to his favourite jumper, darned and abandoned on
the dusty floor.
The walrus and the elephant
While sitting on the sea one day
I heard a walrus sing
an aria of Don José
about the joys of spring.
He sang of bees and flowers
though all around was ice.
He sang for hours and hours.
It sounded rather nice.
An elephant flew past apace
trumpeting his woe.
“That song” he said “is out of place
and far too loud, you know.”
The walrus glanced at him and said
“It’s sad my heartfelt song
fails to move your trunky head
though I sing the whole day long.”
The walrus and the elephant
argued long and loud.
Their voices were so vehement
they attracted quite a crowd.
A carpenter who wanted quiet
told them to make peace.
“That walrus needs a change of diet
and then the noise might cease.”
He took the walrus from the group.
They walked off hand in hand.
to where a little oyster troupe
was dancing on the sand.
The rest you know, a saddish rhyme
of greed exploiting trust,
the commonest unpunished crime.
Alas, ’twas ever thus.
Impression of an autopsy
groin to throat
to ear that takes
no note cage
as ribs are snapped
systems now removed and
drawn with skill apart are laid
out side-by-side black blood lumps
to slab as disassociating hands peel
mask from skull crack its crown then
pluck the person-kernel from its
seat anatomic bric-a-brac complete
the wagered weight's confirmed
rashered now examined slice by
slice in search of maggot death
that sucked life from this
meat left it cold and foul
mortician's labour done
the belly offal-stuffed
is stitched the
hosed and dried
flesh made clean
hair made neat the