poems and stories
scroll down to read poems and stories in our
growing weekly from June 2019
meet the poets and writers
The Jungle Rises
There where the croaking
rises from the inchoate
There in the palpable horizon
in globule & rivulet
in the hemorrhagic gush
There in the moldy coalescence
and vaporous ooze
in the nameless viscosities
and horrific bobbings
There in the leaping
and billion undiscovered emetics
and spittled to the heart
There where all are forced
to dwell in their hirsute
where none can vanquish
their greenest genesis
the jungle rises
through spiky palmetto
through everything we cannot hold at bay
has no taste for fish, unless it’s battered, fried,
vinegar-drenched – and spilling, half-eaten,
from an overfull dustbin. He’s never caught
a herring in his life. He settles on streetlamps
as if they were, for all the world, crows’ nests,
and has no notion of the winds that brought
his ancestors here, generations ago. City Gull
was born to the smoke, an urban hatchling,
streetwise and ready-mapped, no need to be taught
the wheres and hows of the complex crisscross
that spreads beneath him. He is all Cockney
birth-right, rough and ready squawks wrought
from a hawker’s gullet. He is king of the tip,
lord of landfill, dines royally on detritus and
shits where he pleases, wasting no thought
on the paintwork of cars. City Gull wonders,
sometimes, at his webbed feet, the splashy clatter
on allotment shed roofs during his clumsy halt.
He does not understand why, when his A-to-Z
synapses know only this city, he wakes from
strange dreams where the air tastes of salt.
Ode to a Giant Waterlily
the moon, you flower
the warm perfumery
of your heart,
offer a nectar banquet
in return for pollen
A petalled jailor,
your guzzling suitors
caged, until next evening
as a magenta dandy
you unlock the soft gates,
then sink yourself
on your second day
to the shadowed depths.
from primordial pools,
your stork leg stalks
and undersides barbed
fiercely as an iron maiden.
Your floating pads,
for Lily Trotters, sunbeds
for caimans. Vast green
salvers on which to serve
a grinning child.
I unzip the door of lianas, step
through, casting off the city;
rain threads tarmac.
Shrive-light braids the canopy and
here seedlings weave welcome.
Green mantles the dusk pool,
is a sprung floor for jiving
mosquitos and water beetles.
come the dark.
The moon sets moth traps
for new velvets,
and the hushed weft
of a deathhead’s wings.
The Teatime Tarzan
Blithely oblivious, as a child, to the dodgy
cultural politics of the source material
with the white man as noble savage
and secret peer of the realm, I
simply watched “Tarzan” for adventure.
And I’m the kid in the grey flannel
school shorts and white aertex vest
aping that 5 note ululation
and banging my scrawny chest –
but not too hard, for fear of cavities
There’s always quicksand.
No hanging liana vines in Finchley
with which to swing my way through
the suburban jungle, just a few horse
chestnut trees on the common,
their bases prone to dog mess. But
at least they’re in colour;
Tarzan’s jungle was always black and white
and not just because of the monochrome TV.
Now I think: How is he so toned
and are those Y-fronts beneath the loincloth?
And why does he never show dirt or sweat
from the exertion of beating the bad guy?
Even back then, I found it annoying
that he called his Chimpanzee “Cheta”.
I had one called “Jacko”. A toy.
All adventures ended by
“Come in now, it’s time
for tea. And your programme’s on.”
Leave riding the lions and trapping the trappers
to another day. Wipe your feet
on the doormat. Or maybe step over it
with exaggerated care. It might be
quicksand. There’s always
I am the Help. You need me
so I’m squeezing through
this narrow gap. See
how I compress, who knew
my head could shrink
like this! And it throb
throbs so fat I think
it can’t possibly fit
through that gap
but it does, and I know
this because as I collapse
I see the rest of me
go past: deflated dummy.
And when I hear me speak
I’m a bad juggler. Un-
funny. I think that I might
be some kind of
girl with a tail and a pin
in her hand, blind,
reaching for the flat animal
while everyone looks on.
Stretching out I feel around,
guess this is the wrong
side of the gap so I
start to use my eyes
but then I hear: Help
and I’m turning inside
out as you push me
back my hair stuffing
into my torso
my nails locking
into my palms.
The girl who can talk to birds
strides into the forest. Her unicorn bag
packed with toy bread, sea shells,
magnifying glass, she’s prepared.
In dapple-brightness she stops and
whistles. Her special whistle. The one
the birds know. The one she taught them.
A hornbill trumpets reply. She smiles.
Baby-boned arms outstretched, she twirls
and calls. Flap your wings birdies then up,
up she flutters all spangles and pink tutu.
Perched cloud high she canopy-dances,
in flurries of macaws and toucans.
A version was previously published in Play Anthology, Paper dart Press 2018.
No Return To Varoşa
Varoşa : once glamorous holiday resort now at the eastern extremity
of the Cyprus Forbidden Zone guarded by the United Nations
Yasak Bölge Girilmez : Forbidden Zone created after the
1974 division of Cyprus into Turkish & Greek sectors
Behind rusting barbed wire
graffitied corrugated iron
with Yasak Bölge Girilmez
signs of blood scarlet
read by diasporics longing
while just out of sight
armed guards goosestep
up from the twinkling Med
with kilometers of empty beaches
engaging the prom
to The Jungle
multiple floors high crumbling
overgrown with verdant asps
strewn with sand grains massed
populated by stray mongrels
chasing feral Van cats
en pursuit of vermin
the rattus rattus of death
but devoid of turista
in kafe, bistro, ôtel
now as dark through the day
as from crepuscular to dawn
where Bardot, Taylor, Welch
once smouldered with chic
blinded by faux-light, while
a sylvia melanothorax warbles
as ripe effluent stinks
almost half a century gone
yet not a step closer.