The Fringe Poetry Magazine '17

       The Fringe

Published by SeaQuake Books
Copyright 2017. Individual contributors.
ISBN: 9781370767571

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

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Cover image, 'Tree of Life', by Pauline McNulty


The Fringe Poetry Magazine '17 follows the success of The Fringe Poetry On the Move and The Fringe Poetry Festival series of poetry pamphlets and e-pamphlets and from two books, The Fringe Poetry Cafe and The Fringe Poetry White Book.

'The Fringe' is a poetry collective based in the North West of England.

We received a tremendous response to our call for submissions to the Magazine and used experienced sub editors to initially handle the entries.

Ultimately we chose a relatively small number of poets for inclusion in the Magazine and limited the number of poems to a maximum of two from each entrant.

The poets selected represent a cross section of experience from those already heavily published, and known nationally and internationally, to emerging writers with something genuine to say.

Our contributors in this issue are predominantly from the United Kingdom, the USA and the Republic of Ireland.

The Magazine includes varied subject matter, expressive techniques and forms.

We were, principally, looking for integrity of purpose in the submissions and in some cases the strength of feeling is encouragingly raw and emotional.

If you were unsuccessful in gaining inclusion in this issue please do not be discouraged from submitting in the future.

We are grateful to everyone who submitted work and it is refreshing to see such a range of creative output. Please keep it up.

Very Best Wishes,

Phil McNulty

April 2017

(Alison Chisholm)

Summa cum laude was her mantra. Life
rewarded her hard work. At college, she
took no time off from studying, and when
her room-mate tempted with a heady round
of parties, socials, bars, she shrugged, refused.
The room-mate flunked. She soared. Aged thirty, she
had earned a junior partnership, was dressed
in clothes that said 'designer' but discreet.
By forty, she had meteored her route
to chair the board, acquired a sleek-lined gold
Mercedes, modest mansion, staff of six.

Summa cum laude meant that she achieved
her full potential, revelled in success,
her ruthless reputation making sure
that no one crossed her. In her private life
she demonstrated her compassion when
her ageing parents could no longer cope –
googled the best retirement home in town
and sent them flowers the day they moved there. No
successful daughter could have offered more.

She met her college room-mate once, by chance,
surprised to see she'd put on forty pounds –
looked rough in non-designer jeans and top –
who introduced two boys with skateboards, and
their father (like some balding trophy). They
moved on, all smiles, and left her with her prayers
of fervent thanks that she had found success.

(Alison Chisholm)

I chant my mantra till its whisper roars
to fix my focus, concentrate my mind:
Le Chiffre, Scaramanga, Blofeld, Jaws.
A dry martini, always shaken, draws
bewitching beauties where élan's enshrined.
I chant my mantra till its whisper roars.

I need no praise, no medals or applause.
Reward is knowing evil's undermined -
Le Chiffre, Scaramanga, Blofeld, Jaws.

To keep the peace, I fight the whole world's wars,
protect my masters, monarch, humankind.
I chant my mantra till its whisper roars.

My purpose is unquenchable, ignores
each hint of danger, leaves all fear behind.
Le Chiffre, Scaramanga, Blofeld, Jaws
My Licence is the charter that ensures
this planet's future: but at night I find
I chant my mantra till its whisper roars.
Le Chiffre. Scaramanga. Blofeld. Jaws.

(Grace Rossi)

The wounds of the world
Bleed through you; my pen
A tool for chaos and salvation
So write me better
Write me clean
Write me clear; the lives unseen
Smudge the smug
Line the smiles
Blot the bold and all the while
Put the lid on the night's distress
Succumb to the depth of my inky breath

(Grace Rossi)

"You're out of your head"
You said
And I was so full of "how dare you?!"
Soaked in feminine pride. An ego on the rampage.
I sighed.
And riding that sigh was the whisper from my forgotten core-
No need for anger from this place-
Perhaps to be "outside my head" is all I need and more.
The ego caged
inside its skull
No longer dictates my mood.
"You're out of your head"
You raged
And I'm so full
Of gratitude.

The Companion.
(Miki Byrne)

She lived with an elder sister,
whose hair would excite comment,
carrying as it did the precise shade
of cochineal.
She was demanding.
Everything had to fit.
Carved or gilded, padded softly
in shabby splendour.
She would hold a candle,
preferred lambent light,
viewed her sister's black dresses
with narrowed eyes,
and conceived certain theories
about eccentric mumblings
that came from her chair.
‘We are but insects’
her sibling's small voice would cry,
‘grains of sand—nothing, just nothing.’
She patted the agitated hand.
Murmured sympathetic offerings
against despair.
The keys at her belt tinkled
sad, small arpeggios
as she locked the door behind her.

(Miki Byrne)

She sits at the edge
of the sea, faded, worn.
An ageing beauty
watching her gown
tatter and fray.
Waves lap her feet.
Salt scale nibbles colour
from her dancing shoes.
Her perfume is the waft
of chips and vinegar,
burgers and slush
Raucous seagulls pick pieces
from her hair.

She gains colour only
from clumps
of pink candy-floss,
brash neon signs,
fluorescent trainers.
Bandstands are empty,
dancers gone.
Her music is the clash and rattle
of amusement arcades.
Yet, when the clouds part
and sunlight falls,
catches her, just so,
the glamorous lady
that once was she
tentatively peeps through.

A life once lived
(Mike Parsons)

Old Age comes suddenly.
To stand, dress, walk – suddenly, a chore.
‘Strive to make perfect thy will’ -
Perhaps, slowly, little tasks will get done.

Only the passage of time marks you out.
Longevity has lost its sacred lustre,
Families are strung like beans on a pole -
Grandads at forty, new mums at fifty.

It’s a drag to end as medicalised frailty
Stumbling down Time’s Lane -
That future was once forgotten - donkey’s years away!
Now, you are falling at needless fences.

On the endpage is only a cursory ceremony:
Duty morticians officiate in the geriatric block
There, among the carefully warded living dead
And the tail-end loneliness of lives once lived.

Love's last reward
less than the dust beneath your feet …
(Mike Parsons)

Now lay my ashes in your lane, my love,
Beneath your feet once hallowed by my tears;
For though I fall through Time a thousand years,
Become a shadow cast midst ghosts of woe,
My dreams of you will bless me still, my love.
Through eerie dark and silent depths you’ll be
My one true charm against all sorcery,
You’ll guard my feet down paths I could not know:
No chant, no praying, only you will show
My frightened heart the way to blissful rest,
Eternal peace that’s by your vision blest.
Once Life on me your slave you did bestow,
And now I’ve fallen through this breach in Time
That Life, your gift, you’ll make forever mine.

Blood Running Cold
(Patricia Walsh)

Calling time on your nemesis.
Drinking like fury at last orders
Interrogating friends a common purpose.

Things said over a shadow of a pint
Reconcile nothing, not even sleep,
Tears find a way onto your pillow.

A flummoxed face, a goodbye bespoke
Met with incredulity over coffee
Smoke blown into an unrepentant face.

On a self-made island, sport while you may
I give birth to problems, a spinning yarn,
You not caring besides the perfunctory.

I could stay forever, jokes permitting.
Singular promises eat through the heart
Munching on soul, a lost energy.

Working on the sodden ground
Witnessing your prize on the outskirts
A glory she is, pitching in at will.

Marriage seals the deal. Lying cold
Not thinking of parallels to assuage the situation
Nor perfection through a cracked eyeball.

As History and Warning
(Patricia Walsh)

We are the people, an unfaithful tribe
Still being picky over a twisted root
Times of our lives resurrected
A history being bunk, a catalogue of spite
Blood on the banner a close second.

Boycotting what doesn’t suit us, voices of place
Gone to ground, to seed, frankly obliterating
The hidden children, parallels once too often
A city in wartime ekes out smartphones
Surreptitious laundry an agent of culture.

Timemaster and arsonist puncutate the great war
Allies to hand, born survivors
Good neigbours’ housekeeping, landscapes
Stroll past on the train, trite existence
Lost masters a lesson in decorum.

Searching for a saviour, all but our lives
Awash in some cold fish, swimming in a bucket
Silently rebelling against some boat
Rocked to breaking some promise at will
Conquering domestic status in colour.

Orderly and human, all right for some
To preach frugality and the simple life
The greater evil hoped for, a broken world
Higher form of chattles secure a place
In the world at large, a square of sky.

You are my island
(Miriam Calleja)

You are my city
Ceremoniously a ribbon was cut
In your honour, the brass bands played
The mayor put on his best suit
For the occasion
Of which there aren’t many

You are my country
I fly your flag in honour
I don’t care what the neighbours think
My screams and cries permeate the air
You are my country
I wear you with pride

You are my beach resort
I play loud music till the small hours
I don’t tire, but when I do
I sleep on the warm sand
That you made for me
I drink your tropical fruits
My skin smells of sunshine

You are my island
I swim around you to protect you
I swim and swallow the water
But it is sweet
My skin gets wrinkled in your waters
You are my island
I wait for my end of days in you.

I see the Manhattan morning
(Ian D. Hall)

I see the the Manhattan morning from the dusk
of a Maltese bay and I realise there is no colour,
just black and white memories
with the spectacular vision of off-sepia groove thrown
in for effect as I recall days of stories
from the Adanac house and I know that
Time is eating away, burning up, like a Catherine Wheel,
spun by an unseen hand in the darkness
and the fireworks light up the sky
in desperation, in ground down coffee bean surrender
and the taste of yoke screams in heat
as it slides down my throat, forcing me to understand
that Manhattan no longer exists
except in my heart
for I cannot see, cannot feel my time
walking down seventy-seventh street
and serenading the rain as it pounds at my head,
I feel the howl of the wind
as the twenty first century leaves
its shredded soul behind;
I feel the howl,
I am the howl.

For me, it's a middle aged death...
(In homage to Roger McGough)
(Ian D. Hall)

For me it's a middle-aged death
Not become a bore, sore
At my own time and choosing death
At my books and music, gathering weird looks
At the end of the chapter, death
When I get into my mid-sixties
And before the winter of life starts
Keep me from the vengeful doctors
Plotting to keep me alive and expecting thanks
In way of tax
For their benefit

Save me from the worry of children
Leaving children leaving children
At my ever frail thoughts
Sniggering in teenage glee
That their Granddad's way so last century

When at two they hung on my words of wonderful insanity
Let me die a middle-aged death
Not in flippancy and pain, where's the gain
Of a heart attack death
Restricted food, put on pills- keep paying bills
What a waste of my life- death

Let me know my own mind at time of death
One final journey, save getting the court attorney
To decide on what's best for me death
To decide good cheer, one more round of beer
Je ne regrette mort- death.

Colour of slate
(Mary Braithwaite)

Slate sea sliding
to ochre shore.
Waves break
in snow white
still sliding
to ochre shore.
All is a slate colour.
Wedgewood sky
subdued to grey.
The highlights
are where
the quiet waves
throw up their
snow white.
Sky slowly
breaks to life
throwing off
its greyness
for white clouds,
a staccato
from white waves.
Nature has sung
a song
reaped from
life of waves
from life
of sky,

(Mary Braithwaite)

Into the blue veins
of the English countryside.
Depth and calmness
blue and green.
Going into the heart
where such beauty is

Flowing through the veins
of the country,
beauty of willows and a clear river
flashing with fish.
Jewelled grass
and fat, patchy, cows, grazing.
White daisies and white clouds,
bushes brown with hazel nuts,
and blue wood pigeons cooing
in this place, mainly known
by children.

Away on the far side sat the father
brown hair and blue eyes
silent and strong but at
times spirited like the children.
calling 'Catch the ponies,
ride them without a saddle
hold tight with your knees and
kick with your heels
they will trot and canter
and even jump the hay bales.'

So the children rode
without the saddles
and the ponies tossed their heads
and flicked their manes.
There too was the donkey
and the donkey was naughty
and bit the ponies
but the children laughed
riding the ponies
as the donkey chased and kicked
until dusk coloured the sky
with stripes and beams.

(Neil Beardmore)

Summer collapses into storm,
The zip of flashes
Distant as searchlights,
The pomp of thunder
Hinders hills.

Summer rain,
The river regurgitates,
Thrusting through grey clay cliffs
In a push seaward
Over stones and sunken soil.

And us, under the awning
By the white caravan
Dripping under a clutch of trees,
Sit with guitar.
You explore chords,

Fingers trail frets
Looking to unlock
A melody not out before,
‘Let’s write a song,’ you said,
Gave me paper,

And with an inner groan I started.
In grey rain it found itself,
A rhythm of words to the sound
Of strumming: how she left him,
The angry man. Yeah, yeah.

Catch a falling star
(Jacqueline Pemberton)

I am collecting memories like lucky pebbles in the pocket of a winter coat.
Moments honeyed; warm as whispers.
A secret treasure chest amidst the debris.
I want to bring them back,
To hold them in cupped hands,
Breathe new life on them,
Feel them glow, revive and live again in heart and mind.
See again for the first time the night view across Victoria Harbour,
Listen to the symphony of the Super Trees in Singapore Bay,
Watch the sunset on Aldeburgh beach,
Swim with my dad in Suffolk tides.
I want to be waiting for Leonard to skip on stage to caress me with his words.
I want to pose again for that photo with my children by my side,
Smiling in the sunshine.
I want to hug my poetry for the first and best time,
I want to turn the corner in the hospital to see my daughter with her baby:
Shock of golden hair, warble of new-born cry, first touch of milky skin.
I want to bathe after my operation, soapy water healing the hurt.
I want to hear the call of his love echoing through lost years.
I want to be 12 years old and dancing to Perry Como,
Believing that I could:
‘Catch a falling star
Put it in my pocket
And never let it fade away’.

New fruit
(Jacqueline Pemberton)

I study the fruit in my palm.
The long and short vowel
of its name: raisin.
Salvation and sin.
Withered by the sun
it has become an ugly thing.
Lopsided pellet,
its ridges rest on my skin.
Useless, inanimate.
An imposition
I had not asked for.
Then, I lift it to the light
between my thumb and finger.
Its wrinkled body transforms to amber.
A translucent jewel; precious and delicate.
Carefully I place it between my lips,
Touch the edge of its dry kiss.
I bite and pierce the leather skin.
My tongue tastes a release of ripeness.
Tease of sweetness glides down my throat.
Tantalised from its dry casing,
Resurrected from its darkened tomb.

By Appointment Only
(Stephen Beattie)

(And those who were seen dancing
were thought to be insane by those
who could not hear the music.
Friedrich Nietzsche 1844-1900.)

You're staring out of the window
at a naked tree
that dominates faded November light;
branch and twig
as stark as the etched lines
that lattice your face.

All softness has departed,
the season stripped back
to constituent parts
revealing an exoskeleton.

I sense that you find this a comfort,
the false pretence of summer abandoned
like the small-talk
you could never endure.

I lay my offering of white Lilies
on the metal framed bed;
with a smile that isn't
you enquire
if they're in lieu of a wreath.

Before departing
I lock in your image,
frail against black glass;
fingers absently picking
non-existent lint
from the hem of your dressing gown.

Coming to a decision
you ask a solitary question,
'When did you stop hearing the music?'

Davy Says
(Stephen Beattie)

Me and Davy night-driving,
a purposeless journey
taking us nowhere,
somewhere and everywhere.

Davy keeps the conversation constant
whether we're having a third gear crawl
down drug dealt streets
or limit breaking hurtle
along a deserted motorway
Davy keeps the calm:
Davy gives direction,
Davy has acuity.

Sometimes it's city centre
for the crush of bumper to bumper
neon crowds;
Davy ensures the doors remain locked.

Sometimes it's country;
Davy says watch out for deer
the bastards leap in the dark
leaving bloodied windscreens.

Sometimes it's suburbs
because, once,
through an uncurtained window
Davy says he saw nakedness
and feels guilty for not sharing

but mostly
we circle the ring road
not daring to stop.

If we do
it will become evident
it wasn't a deer
and there is no Davy.

Sea Mist.
(Nicola Shelley)

The horizon of our love
once had a sharp and perfect edge of definition.
Depthless azure beneath and fathomless possibility above.

Light gathering and taking the shape of ourselves.
Urgent whispers of a rumourless breeze
in a language beyond translation.

That was before the fret began to form.

An imperceptible change in temperature:
warm air moving over the cooler surface

hazing and erasing the colour from our space.

Height restriction.
(Nicola Shelley)

Carousel thoughts turning
and returning
spinning recklessly to the hurdy gurdy clatter of mixed emotion.

Freakish and over painted grimace of memory
comes to taunt
and haunt her.

Sure thunder of wheels firmly set on rails
and the delicious temptation to let go and fall
yet trapped behind the safety bar of her own decision.

She chose to ride.

Thoughts about Dying
(Bob Eccleston)

I could never imagine my own death
Death was for other people
I had no difficulty foreseeing
his death or her death or your death
but my own death, that was different

That which I cannot imagine cannot exist
On this basis my subconscious knew that I was immortal
Although my conscious mind pretended a belief in mortality
Funny how small events can change ingrained perceptions
Events such as the blocking of a narrow tube

Followed by talk about ninety five per cent success rates
and five per cent failure rates
The likelihood of long-term survival
The likelihood of short-term non-survival

Forcing an awakening from that myth driven dream
into the acceptance of an uncomfortable reality
where one clear certainty opens up hosts of uncertainties

A Knock on the Door
(Bob Eccleston)

In retrospect it was nothing but
the first warning stroke of the brush
starting but not completing the cross

At the time however it seemed
more akin to the thundering rake
of cannons in full destructive force

Then came rush and bustle and control
followed by an unexpected awakening
to an electronically guided existence

where facsimiles of those early waves
from which our ancestral life first sprang
charted the current viability of being

The gradual release from that unscheduled womb
led me into this marginally different world
where taking for granted is no longer an option

Moonlight Sonata at Midnight
(Barry Woods)

Let slugs slither into my parlour,
let siders watch me from cracks
as I play the moonlight.

I sooth my ghosts with this melody,
hear them shift under floorboards
where woodlice creep in time.

The rhythm of sorrow in C sharp minor,
gentle piano
slowing its breath,

Beethoven's masterpiece.

And my audience stand supportive
in gilded frames, those ancestors
in war uniforms.

Autumn Mum
(Barry Woods)

Remember testing my spelling on the walk to school
Monday mornings
with chill wind at our ears. A time
for scarf and gloves.
You kept tight hold of our hands,
kept it all together.

Your hair was red of the season, shoulder length
through the seventies, for that Charlie's Angels look.
Heated rollers and hairspray.

Your sewing machine stitched hems for us,
and curtains for your living room; always the fashion

polished and gleaming.

When Elvis died you were peeling potatoes
at the kitchen sink,
I remember your tears.

(Bill Lythgoe)

is the only one

that can light a fire,
warm up water,
foul the air.

And when he’s dead and gone
the earth won’t care.

Dying to be thin
(Loraine Darcy)

Mary dressed in frilly pink
looks so cute, she makes you think
you've witnessed something sweet and rare.
She's beautiful beyond compare.

Mary now in fancy dress.
A fairy princess.
Nothing less befits such an angelic face
and Mary's unassuming grace.

Mary in her uniform,
with a figure that just won't conform
no matter what her teachers say
to regulation gymslip grey.

Mary in her skin tight jeans
at fifteen knows what sexy means.
She feels for bones beneath her skin
and promises herself she'll slim.

Mary in a magazine
in a pose her father calls obscene
is sheathed in black, looks thin and gaunt.
An imagine that comes back to haunt

her mother, also dressed in black.
She wants her lovely daughter back.
Not this Mary, still and quiet.
Fashion victim. Death by diet.

(Loraine Darcy)

Damaged people are dangerous.
They give you their hearts
like a second hand jigsaw
with one piece that's missing, demanding you fix it.

They show you a wound
that's beginning to heal.
Tell you this time it's different
and dare you to risk it.

Their kisses are contracts you're frightened to break
for the rules of the game are you give and they take.
But don't think that it's love you can see in their eyes.
Their promises are unintentional lies.

Encased in their armour's an ego that's weaker.
They hand it to you and appoint you its keeper.
Until all you can hear in your head is their voice
and the realisation you're left with no choice.

So battered and bruised you'll be forced to withdraw.
Like some sad refugee of emotional war.
Proceed with great caution. You're taking a risk.
Because damaged people are dangerous.

A living death
(Joe Forshaw)

Let me not die a living death
in a darkened room with curtains drawn.
Let me not draw my final breath
in a rocking chair on carpets worn.
I fear, a door bell that never chimes,
a telephone that never rings,
a front door that sees only passersby,
a letter box with idle springs.
Let me not live when living is a lie,
plugged to a machine that hums and bleeps.
I did not ask to be born but I can ask to die,
peacefully between clean white sheets.
If I could I'd just pull the plug,
go to sleep and quietly fade away.
I've lived my life as best I could,
now it's time to declare I've had my day

No tears for me when I have gone
and please, no contrived eulogy.
I'm quite happy to just move on
and take my place in eternity.

Things happen
(Joe Forshaw)

Was it just a year ago
the vicar said 'Do you'?
Faces lit with a loving glow
we both said 'we do'?

Was it just six months ago
we stepped from a migrant boat.
Passports proclaiming man and wife
a new life and high hopes?

Was it only a month ago
we sat on a fallen tree,
planning all our tomorrows
a dream couple you and me?
Was it only a week ago
a car came through the rain
putting you on a mortuary slab
never to kiss me again?
Was it only yesterday
the vicar spoke your name
sending you away from me
never to see you again?
As I travel through the years
I'll lock you in my heart
so no matter what becomes of me
we will never be apart.

(Malcolm Terry)

It’s too cold for ice cream, she said,
tone of voice told more than words,
and the wheelchair, ever responsive, jerked;
she was in a bad mood.
She hadn’t mentioned the boyfriend this morning,
that was probably significant;
last week she had been full of him -
in a manner of speaking.
I glanced across at Megan
in the wheelchair next to mine,
she sensed my gaze,
grimaced and rolled her eyes,
making me smile;
she had a fine boned face,
mobile and expressive,
and a soul full of laughter
despite the accident that left her paralysed,
but only I realised how special she was.
We left the kiosk behind,
moved on down the promenade
by the sand dunes that concealed
the restless sea,
perhaps next week they would buy us ice creams.

Aurelia aurita
(Malcolm Terry)

a bloom of jellyfish
left by the tide in uncountable numbers,
dried in the sun,
leaving just an imprint,
a circle in the sand;
and in the centre - like pale watching eyes -
four symmetrical dots, the only discernible structure,
remnant of more substantial flesh, gonads,
the base of long, trailing filaments.
They make odd geometrical patterns
decorating the beach
like environmental art.

And would they sting
encountered in the water?
There must have been thousands of them
come on that high morning tide,
unavoidable for a bather;
but who would paddle in the polluted
waters by the muddy banks
of the Mersey estuary?
Only the bold;
it was fatal for jellyfish,
from ocean to beach they came and died,
their reasons a mystery,
in this small extinction event.

Shining hard
(Linda Lewis)

There are treasures held
in a secret place,
precious gems
by all
but those with eyes
that appraise and do not judge.
They shine so hard, it hurts.

Children choke on blessings
and turn in on themselves,
crushing diamonds to silt
with their hands.

Out there,
in Life's emblazoned showroom
there are displays
of such brilliance,
they are blinding.
Polished specimens,
glittering with intention

and wrapped

in newer,



Small Hands and Pink Lips
(Linda Lewis)

You wear your faded memories
in the yearning behind your eyes,
they come to you like dreams;
images formed from clouds,
to hold your hand at night
and colour your world
by day.

When you look in the mirror
you sometimes see
the girl you were,
as you smear shadow above the eyes
that made him fall in love with you
and pink on the lips
he kissed.

Your children's faces gaze at you
from photographs
on the wall
and the mantelpiece.
You look at them often,
feeling the grip of small hands
in yours.

Your skin
matches the bark of the oak
they climbed, long ago.
The tree has gone now,
felled for flats,
Concrete towers for sad souls
behind nets.

The phone rings and your heart ripples.
It bounds with the flush of joy
and your day is complete
as you hear your great grandson's voice...
"Happy birthday Nana."

Sometimes Poet
(Shaun Fallows)

Sometimes poet is what I put on all the forms
Occupation sometime collaborator
Of many temporary storms

Sometimes poet is what I put on all the forms
Because I like the Show
Another chance to say hello world
What do you know?

Sometimes poet is what I put on all the forms
Because all the biggest questions have open sky ceilings
The definite is death
But until then we sketch the feelings.

The young shouldn't feel useless
(Shaun Fallows)

It hurts when you've felt young and useless
Never been idle but been suicidal
And every cliche doesn't take the disappointment away

Rome wasn't built in a day. I know, yeah, but what did they do in the meantime?

And so you write when it feels right, hoping you can't stop a waterfall
Trying to keep perspective, so many many things aren't the be all and end all,
Just as often a short lived life outshines a long one.

Rome wasn't built in a day. I know, yeah, but what did they do in the meantime?

It hurts when you've felt young and useless
I've heard of the 'big society'
And I know what I see
The one that doesn't include me
Where Governments get people to do their jobs for free.

Rome wasn't built in a day, yeah, I know but what did they do in the meantime?

I'm not even a bloody cog in the massive wheel
So you tell me
You've probably got a word for how I should feel.

One of those days
(David Subacchi)

Dirt on windows
Smudges the view,
A morose sea still spits shingle
When backs are turned;
It knows winter is over;
We know it is too
So we don't care
And the tables are out
In a show of optimism;
An aroma of frying
Tempting passers by;
Soon they will jostle
To be served fish
Under brighter skies.
Well wrapped photographers
Pass by hesitantly
Fumbling with lenses;
It's a neither one thing
Nor the other day;
The kind you get
At this time of the year.

Tidying Up
(David Subacchi)

Fast food containers
And empty
Beer bottles
Near gravestones
Where we come
To remember,
Bringing flowers
For comfort.
An abandoned
And other
Personal debris;
We try
To work out
A late night
An argument
Or just
A cry
For attenion?
We tidy up
As best
We can,
Look down
Across the valley;
It's still cold
But we can feel
Spring in the air.

A few places of interest
(Marc Carver)

As I walk over the bridge
city on my right
I see a man staring into a woman's eyes
when I look again
I see how old he is
and how young she is.
There must be twenty five years between them
but it could be a hundred
for all he cares.

In the national theatre
I look at a young woman as she sits down
she spits on her phone
then rubs her finger around the screen.

Then she starts to comb her hair
right to the tips as she twists it at the end
then she starts to talk to her hair.

Perhaps she is annoyed with it
having a bad hair day.

Then a man sits next to her
too close for it to be anything else than they are together.
Then they get up and walk off
without ever having said a word to each other.

At the South Bank I sit in on a talk.
It is about Hayden and a bit about Handel.
There are two women on the panel
and a man. He is academic, American.

The man talks about the genius of Hayden
and the women talk about why he was not as revered as Mozart.
The man tries to defend him
One woman says she has read his diaries
and gives us some examples.
He was boring and that is all it comes down to.
A genius can be many things
but he can never be boring.
Look at Mozart.

(Zoe Dalton)

Printed words glare at you and angrily whisper, 'stop boring us.'
Emotions form an inter-tangled knot
hampering every step you take,
like walking in clay.
Racking sobs leave you exhausted.
Morning and night become entwined as dreams swirl.
Inner strength shrinks then dips to rock bottom
Stacks of unloved poems cry out in pain.
Incensed you long to take a stand
but words fail you.
Snap shots of advice sneak in
raising a watery smile.
Open fears moan softly
before wounds start to heal.

Skin Deep
(Robert Cunliffe)

We are not the stuff
That dreams are made of.
We are wafer-thin.
We live on the surface
Of the holes that fill us in.

We think in three dimensions.
We think that we're all there.
We fill our space
With cut and paste
And breathe in toxic air.

Our dwellings are fermenting.
Our walls are caving in.
The ties
To all our insides
Are hanging on a string.

We know we need amending.
We know there's something wrong.
We're polishing
The pedals
But the camshaft belt has gone.

Our hope is for the future
And better days ahead.
Our greatest fear,
Is that we have been misled ...

Burnt bird of paradise
(Robert Cunliffe)

Burnt bird of paradise,
Cockatoo of the causeway,
Fan-tailed, charcoal-clawed,
Puffed up with self-pride,
Feeling good about yourself,
Serene as cream,
As you take that last drag
Of another fag
And expertly
Flick the tip away.
Another dimp,
Another dollar.

Carnival incarnate
(Neil D. Crawford)

In Depression, dustbowl America, the heyday of the
nineteen thirties sideshow, Roustabouts would round up
desperate hoboes, plying them with booze for several
days before its abrupt and cruel withdrawal.

The man who had the D.T.s, the screaming fits,
the shattered wits, the one who tore his
clothes and hair became the new attraction
for the fair.

Chained in a cage, consumed by rage,
'The Wild Man of Borneo' prodded
with provided sticks by the gawping,
heartless crowd.

In my own time, in my own mind, in my own way,
I have done the very same to myself, taking hostage
one side of my soul, shouting 'Yalsa, yalsa, yalsa'
all the while.

(Mark Rawlins)

This is the tyranny. This is the fear.
This is the misery for those who live here.
This is the hatred. This is the war.
Nothing is sacred, not any more.
This is the anger. This is the pain.
This is the hunger, but this is no game.
This is the pestilence, this the disease.
There is no resistance from down on your knees.
This is the rotten, and these are the starving.
The people forgotten when it comes to the carving.
These are the children fighting for rice.
This is globalisation, and this is the price.
This is humanity at its very worst.
This is insanity, and these are the cursed.
This is the murder and this is the rape.
This is the fervour they try to escape.
This is the boat and this is the lorry.
'This is our quota, we're terribly sorry.'
This is your ploy to protect your own land....
This is the small boy washed up on the sand.
These are the bodies left to decay.
Whoever your God is, he's just run away.
This is your power and this is your glory.
This is the hour .... the end of the story.

No beginning and no ending
(Mark Rawlins)

... then after the violence
and after the dying ..
after the silence,
and after the crying.
Here come the bombs
to right all those wrongs ...
... then after the violence
and after the dying ....
after the silence,
and after the crying.
Here come the bombs
to right all those wrongs....
... then after the violence
and after the dying .....

Other titles from the same publisher include-

The Fringe Poetry Festival One
The Fringe Poetry Festival Two
The Fringe Poetry Festival Three
CQEC Journal, Inter-Agency Working- (academic)
One True Thing-(poetry collection)
CQEC Journal, Regeneration in the North West- (academic)
The Fringe Poetry on the Move Three
The Fringe Poetry on the Move Two
The Fringe Poetry on the Move One
Darren and George- (play)
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