Streams

 

Streams

poems and stories 


   scroll down to read poems and stories on our Spring   theme

 growing weekly from March to June 2019

 

meet the poets and writers


Sarah Westcott
Jeffrey Yamaguchi
Ide Crawford
Sue Spiers
Alan McCormick and Jonny Voss
Carol Krauss
Peter Burrows
Sharon Phillips
Mary Robinson
Andy Cochrane
Kerry Darbishire
Susan Taylor
Alun Robert
Kate Firth
S. A. Leavesley

 

 

Rebecca Parker

 

Alan McCormick lives with his family by the sea in Dorset. He has been writer in residence at Kingston University’s Writing School and for the charity, InterAct Stroke Support. His fiction has won prizes and been widely published, including Salt’s Best British Short Stories, The Sunday Express Magazine and Confingo.

He also collaborates with the artist  Jonny Voss, where their work featured regularly on 3:AM Magazine. ‘Reasons to Swim Inside the Sky’ comes from their book, Dogsbodies and Scumsters, which was long-listed for the 2012 Edge Hill Prize.

See more at: www.dogsbodiesandscumsters.wordpress.com.

 

Jonny’s work can be found at www.jonnyvoss.com and www.jonnyvossart.blogspot.com


Alan McCormick – Reasons to Swim Inside the Sky                            

Art by Jonny Voss

Reasons to Swim Inside the Sky

Alan McCormick


 

The canals of upper Clapton are mustard smelling trenches of blink-and-you-miss-it spasm splatters of colour amidst tar dark pathways. Bushes bristle with broken bottle leaves, mottle cast in a sullen, diesel pallor. Warrens snake under daisy field enclosures, as rabbits jump up into patchworks of butterfly pastures in green shield stamp grasslands. Silence only broken by the magnetic hum of telegraph wires slung from giant cranes, barbing and scratching the clouds in criss-cross lines: steely map gradients for a slate grey sky.

 

A mugger’s paradise – yellow raven’s eyes peep through black balaclava pillbox heads, bronchial and hoarse against the damp thin wool – lone men lurking in barbwire crevices, torsos immersed in the marshy reed vines, aqualungs of bile and blood coursing from their veins. Punctuating a walk along the bank are police notices with fish and chip paper headlines – uptight black letters stuck like calcified felt on crude yellow metal boards – milestone millstones chronicling acts of predatory violence.

 

      

       

                                                                                                                                     

  


                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

                                                                                                                                                                                

Barges rest up along the River Lea decorated in Nepalese colours – mud reds, indigo and ochre. A local pub by a redbrick council estate spills people out into the early summer evening. Misplaced pudding-faced walkers, urban and ashen skinned, clutch their pints and look out to wide savannahs of wire sharp grass that grow beyond the swamp reeds of a still distant marshland. Chewing the crisp packet fat over memories of long distance walks: exaggerated escapes from concrete chokey and unlikely fishing exploits and tips swapped and passed on: ‘put Perrier in this canal and you could oxygenate the dead.’ Fish rise like aquiline Christs from sunken tramways set beneath the fine silt bed.  As if on cue, a salmon with a display of temper cruises by, belly up, rung free from its cellophane tomb wrap (courtesy of the local Tesco Superstore) – a smile of slash gut, a grinning fish coyote, its scaly skin shimmering silver and purples amongst the petrol whirl-wash of slow moving water.

 

You’re as likely to see a discarded shopping trolley or a deserted desert boot as any living being float upon this surface; but there are lovers here. Lone couples circle in the fringes, promenading the mud banks. Held close on one side by the claustrophobic, crumbling outskirts of the city and on the other by fields of secret kisses calling, blush tinged in the spreading sunset – the promised melt of soft lips joined. They walk in twos like swooning Bobbies on the beat; their fingers interweaved behind their backs. Dusk is their time to take the air, now momentarily sweet, before the sun floats down to disappear and the evening draws in and closes out the light.

 

Swans form couples too, but one swims alone: Tony, named after a long-necked former defender of these parts, Tony Adams. He moves with a ferocious glandular reputation to live up to; encased in a brick-hard armour of snow pelt, he hisses like a tomcat if you get too close.

 

 

Downriver on the bank, the famous Dalston Heron poses on stilt-like old man’s legs. He is as still as night and cranes his telescopic neck and haughtily gives the eye, his calm shape-shifting in the shadows, his presence benign and balanced, somehow comforting. But a raucous bellow of noise comes from a pub and he takes his uptight walk and moves away.

A group of red faces nestled together on pint filled tables jab their tongues and shout out the odds. And from there comes a small boy, escaping his drunken mother’s shackles, emerging between heavy adult legs, and rubbing at his eyes. He moves towards the heron, which stands quietly by a wall, its feathers blurring in the breeze. The boy reaches out with his hands and the heron lays his long, red bill gently on the boy’s shoulder. And they find a space, air cuddled in between, and slowly rock: a melancholic waltz. From the aggravated throng splinters a shard of angular spite: ‘Sean, where the fuck are you?’

      

       

                                                                                                                                     

  


                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

                                                                                                                                                                                

 

Bobbing close by, like a small balsa wood boat, is a protective coot who blows his tiny soul trumpet through a Burger King straw – Zoot the Coot, whose shrill call-melody seems to rest on the woman’s pitch each time she cries out. ‘Sean!’; blast of coot; ‘Fucking hell, Sean!’; more blast of coot until the boy and the heron are suddenly gone, and all is quiet again.

In a park, a small red vixen slinks into the bushes where her family waits. The moon passes shadows and light between the clouds, as the night rolls softly on the velvety, ebbing sheen of the canal. And there, high on the grass, are the boy and the heron – suddenly lit, finding places to hide and spotlights of moon dust to play and emerge into. The heron is watchful, standing proud, as the boy runs down a slope, his arms flapping through the air.           

      

       

                                                                                                                                     

  


                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

                                                                                                                                                                                

Peter Burrows is a librarian in the North West of England. After recently starting to write again his poems have appeared in The North; The Interpreter’s House; Ink, Sweat and Tears and other journals, and most recently in  Coast to Coast to Coast; Marble Poetry;  The Curlew; Dodging the Rain; Dream Catcher; Northwords Now and shortlisted in The Hedgehog Press Cupid’s Arrow Love Competition. 

peterburrowspoetry.wordpress.com


Spring by Peter Burrows

 

 

Spring

 

Sourcing its descent

slinking across sloping track

meltwaters headwaters bubbling fresh

swell and overflow the leafy stone trough     

this running spill  almost invisible 

dashripples   splits  as outstretched fingers

                                                                          spread

                                                           ambles aside runs

                                               back in

a dog lick   a light slick 

trickling mirage

fizzing tyres unseen

                                    softly scours

shifts grit  tumbles gravel

mudsplashes rock

gently gouges tracks

                                                   insects  leaves debris

                                                   caught helpless

                                                   eddy its wet-eyed pools

each year hatched toads

hundreds upon hundreds

ford its wet plains      deltas that hold

delay   as thought charged   swirling  before

once more  drop chases drop 

fast past its surrounds        relaid tracks 

                                                adjacent farm

channels  divines senses in unison 

its undeniable descent         escapes

under gate down grassy cascades

                       culverts awash

                       flushing the lush field’s brook

just before the Limey’s flow

continues                            

its endless course

 

 

Peter Burrows

 

Sweeping the Sands by Peter Burrows

 

Susan Taylor began writing in her teens in the idyllic setting of her family farm in the Lincolnshire Wolds – Tennyson country. An ex-shepherd, she has become rather a turncoat now, with much sympathy for the plight of the wild wolf. She has seven published poetry collections, including Temporal Bones, published by Oversteps Books in July 2106.

Susan is a keen performer of her poetry and has developed and toured many collaborative poetry shows, including La Loba – Enchanting the Wild and The Weather House, which appeared as an Indigo Dreams Poetry Pamphlet in 2017.


No Waters More Clear by Susan Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Waters More Clear

 

 

 

 

I am stretched out in a bed of grief.

Green as watercress, it is.

I can feel the love of ones that love me

supporting me all around,

 

holding me,

like the water beneath the fronds

flowing through them constantly.

So here I am

 

able to shed these soft word seeds

among dark curling leaves of pain,

so fresh and tender that I begin

to understand more

 

the nature of bereavement. It is a spring

renewing itself from deep down.

The worst of losses has come into my life:

the loss of a child, loved and so loving,

 

young and so strong. He was taken

on impact by a freakish hurling force,

a race against time

in some stranger’s life.

 

Let there be no more race against time

for me. Time drifts on a bed of watercress.

There’s no waters more clear than here

in the quietest part of the stream

 

where cresses grow. During days

when I am stretched out floating,

 too stricken for tears, these words

shed my freshwater grief.

 

 

Susan Taylor

 

 

Sharon Phillips retired from her job as Principal of a sixth form college in 2015. Since then, she has been learning to write poetry again, after a break of 40 years. Many of her poems celebrate the beauty of the Isle of Portland, where she lives with her husband. Recent poems have been published in Three Drops from a Cauldron and Atrium and are forthcoming in The High Window.


Reflections, Upwey by Sharon Phillips

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections, Upwey 

 

After M.C. Escher

 

 

 

 

headwaters seep

            from chalk downs

                        through limestone,

            spill from the rock

 

springflow a thin glaze

            on a sandy bed

purls downstream

            pools deep under trees

 

            crowsfoot, moss

                        and watercress

thread the crowns

            of hazel and ash

 

leaf-fall floats yellow

            on pearl-grey cloud.

 

 

Sharon Phillips

 

West by Sharon Phillips

 

 

 

Kerry Darbishire, songwriter and poet, grew up in the Lake District where she continues to live, find inspiration and write in a wild area of Cumbria. Her poems have appeared widely in anthologies and magazines and have won or been listed in several competitions, including the Bridport shortlist 2017, and the 2018 PBS Mslexia Poetry Competition. Her first poetry collection, A Lift of Wings, was published in 2014 by Indigo Dreams. A biography, Kay’s Ark, the story of her mother, was published in 2016 by Handstand Press. www.handstandpress.net. Her second poetry collection, Sweet on my Tongue, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018 and is a finalist in the Cumbria Culture Awards 2019. She co-edited the new Handstand Press Cumbrian Poetry Anthology, This Place I know. Kerry is currently working on a pamphlet and a new full collection.


Beck Moss by Kerry Darbishire

 

 

Beck Moss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saunter the path        wool-soft              

         haunch-wide

                  ferns       thistle      water mint

pressed     aside

        by     heron      fox     deer

                  footprints         mired fresh

to mud      like fossils bedded in rock

        Follow the rill

                   down to a whisper

the lightest cloth

        thrown

                  over the day

the way

        sedge warblers and damsels    dance

                  wings-a-blur    

through   scots pines

        lime-smirred larch

                  bowing    to the lapis blue

of devil’s-bit scabious

        sleet     grass     seeds

                  and butterflies

buried in thickets

       of  bog myrtle    

and reeds

                  waist-deep     fidgeting

for release

                 from the anchor

                                              of winter

 

 

Kerry Darbishire

 

Cloudburst by Kerry Darbishire

In Praise of Hedges by Kerry Darbishire

Andrew Cochrane was born in Germany and grew up in various places throughout England, Germany and Cyprus. He lives in Southampton where he is a PhD research student at the university, writing a fragmented novel about the grieving process across cultures. His work has appeared in Litro, Postcard Shorts, Every Day Fiction and Kerouac’s Dog, among others.


A Stream in the Woods by Andrew Cochrane

A Stream in the Woods


           

 

If a river is a dream then a stream is a doze, he said, the man in his wellies fetching the dog

            who likes the water around her feet

the way I like the heated tiles in the bathroom: just to stand on.

                        It’s where she belongs, he says. Dozy mare, he says.

 

                                                She leans her head down to drink, sneezes

at the water before dipping her tongue that curls at the end like a clover, a paper shovel

            so thin it seems it would shred, because being wet

                        is being vulnerable. Or able to be.

 

(a wren dribbles by, quick twitch of a wing, and leaves an impression in the water

            the shape of a hoof, or a heart with a divot kicked into it)

 

He pulls her by the collar and there is no resistance left in her old body. Deaf, the man says.

            Nearly blind, the man says. Hopeless, the man says. And he is right – 

hopeless – but he carries a towel wherever they go to dry her feet

                        because she likes the water to stand in.

 

 

Andrew Cochrane

 

             

Mary Robinson grew up off-grid on an isolated smallholding in Warwickshire. Her first collection is The Art of Gardening (Flambard 2010).  She won the Mirehouse/Words by the Water Poetry Prize in 2013 and the Second Light Poetry Prize (short poem category) in 2017.  Her work includes two pamphlets, Uist Waulking Song and Out of Time, the latter to accompany a poetry/photography collaboration with Horatio Lawson, exhibited at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick in 2015. Her poems have appeared in several magazines including Poetry Review, The Yellow Nib, Stand, The North, Artemis, Envoi, The French Literary Review and Long Poem Magazine.  Her sequence of alphabet poems will be published by Mariscat Press this year.  She lives on the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales.  Her blog is: 

Wild about Poetry.

 


Recollecting Water by Mary Robinson

 

 

Recollecting Water

 

 

 

 

White noise pours from the earth –

a liquid meteor shower.

Meadowsweet almonds the air.

I crush watercress with gritty sandalled feet,

brambles snag my ankles and I know

there will be a scabbed tear of scar next day.

 

I splay my hand as a sieve – splashes

darken the threads of my cotton shirt,

smear beige streaks on earth-brown legs.

I’m doused with the spring’s strength

as its rainbow arc spurts to the stream

plashy with mint and rushes.

 

The flow forces the jug down,

water spills up and over before I can stop,

droplets poise on the rim.

I carry it back to the house,

curl one hand round the haft’s sharpness

and finger the scallop shapes engraved on the glass.

 

A pool of stillness lies at the table’s centre

as clear as the Waterford chandelier

above the staircase in the sisters’ house.

A miniature spring pours from the jug’s lip –

I taste sunlight so cold it stings my teeth

and scalds my throat.

 

I’ve kept the jug.

 

 

Mary Robinson

 

First published in The Art of Gardening (Flambard Press 2010)

 

Poems

Stories

 

Susan Taylor began writing in her teens in the idyllic setting of her family farm in the Lincolnshire Wolds – Tennyson country. An ex-shepherd, she has become rather a turncoat now, with much sympathy for the plight of the wild wolf. She has seven published poetry collections, including Temporal Bones, published by Oversteps Books in July 2106.

Susan is a keen performer of her poetry and has developed and toured many collaborative poetry shows, including La Loba – Enchanting the Wild and The Weather House, which appeared as an Indigo Dreams Poetry Pamphlet in 2017.


Stream by Susan Taylor

 

 

 

Stream

 

 

 

 

Every star over the moors was a trouble,

before it was speaking in light, the way stars do.

 

Every journey was meaningless dust, until

that moment the feet touched water and tingled.

 

Granite beneath us is restless in its core;

cooling, heating, repeating patterns of flux.

 

The old Dartmoor saying is true now

gorse is in flower and kissing’s in season,

 

while the stream closest to home

is singing the song of songs.

 

 

Susan Taylor

‘Stream’ was first published in ‘This Given’, a limited edition pamphlet by Paper Dart Press

 

No Waters More Clear by Susan Taylor

Kerry Darbishire, songwriter and poet, grew up in the Lake District where she continues to live, find inspiration and write in a wild area of Cumbria. Her poems have appeared widely in anthologies and magazines and have won or been listed in several competitions, including the Bridport shortlist 2017, and the 2018 PBS Mslexia Poetry Competition. Her first poetry collection, A Lift of Wings, was published in 2014 by Indigo Dreams. A biography, Kay’s Ark, the story of her mother, was published in 2016 by Handstand Press. www.handstandpress.net.

Her second poetry collection, Sweet on my Tongue, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018 and is a finalist in the Cumbria Culture Awards 2019. She co-edited the new Handstand Press Cumbrian Poetry Anthology, This Place I know. Kerry is currently working on a pamphlet and a new full collection.

 


Letters from Home by Kerry Darbishire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letters from Home 

 

It’s not your news    

the willow-curve of your words

I wait for        but the space

between the lines

 

      clear taste

 

of the ghyll

her mouth-grey dawns     squall

of blackbirds     thrush and wren     echoing  

the leaf-scorched beck    

 

     her rain-on-rain September song

     

thrum of hooves

to shearing    dipping     cries of separation

banks of primrose      violets      lizards

storing summer warmth

 

      the pause

 

between dappled shade and tiny

dusty throats swallowing the moon

in love with her own gaze        her promise

to return on dead fern days

 

       that northern light 

 

falling between the lines

like winter from the sky

 

 

Kerry Darbishire

 

Beck Moss by Kerry Darbishire

Cloudburst by Kerry Darbishire

In Praise of Hedges by Kerry Darbishire

Stories

Poems

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