The House of Art

Leslie Mckay 2013

In the house of art
she was carried
far from the blindness
of duress
by works of skill and grace

When the dark angel sang
and her song drew applause
she transcended her sentence
as hardships apprentice

On a winter’s night
on the southern earth
there was nothing between
her and the alchemy

The long ancient road
searching dreaming
straight through illusion
truth came riding

Window into the 20th Century

Frankie McMillan 2013

Kafka : every revolution evaporates and leaves only the slime of a bureaucracy

even when they closed their doors
sealed up the entrance ways, I could hear

the Russian songs; the passionate
laments of snails and that’s how

I knew to build little doors inside
my home for when the withdrawal

times would come; each door more tight
than the other and in the deepest

recess of my domicile I dared
to loosen my load,  hurl

my papers out into the snow
where I imagined they might fly

the street of Prague. Such an act
of kindness, the way a mind,

in the architecture of the dark,
can travel where it wishes

Snail explains his harpoon to a captive audience

Frankie McMillan 2013

They trawl through long grass –
believers of Cupid

so who is Snail to tell them
that not all his endeavours

come off?  There is the issue
of his short sightedness

last time he fired his love dart
it missed        took seven

days to make another.
Once he shot her in the head

he had to crawl over rough surfaces
make slick promises

about the enduring path of
always           forever

his audience, Snail knows
do not study the restraints

of courtship
or carbonate darts

but they do like his double glazed shell
the privacy it affords.

The Magnolia Chronicles

Leslie Mckay 2013

She finds Bishopdale
with her eyes closed
surrenders to the magnolias
perfumed licence
under a nor west arch
defiant chin out
for passion’s bumpy ride
the Spanish ancestor
revving her blood
up beyond reason
Changing the world
will only take a minute

When she exits the garden
for the subversive lens
she embraces the template
fired just off kitchen tables
and on guitars
Cleans shoes in factories
rather than design them
Harangues white male
control freaks
until they are red of face
fortified by Greer, comrades
and Monty Python

At parties she smokes Sobranies
and drinks Black Russians
in romance and gravitys
scintillating light
In the slow burning afterglow
the magnolias hear her breathe

The Knife

Paul McGuigan 2013

The blade is curved, with a deep belly,
it ends in a cut back point.

It is made from carbon steel
that has a rated hardness of 59.

The type of steel and its hardness
makes it difficult to sharpen.

He sits in the sun, for an hour,
the whetstone precise on the blade.

He checks his work, shaving the hairs
on the back of his left hand.

When the hair is gone, with a rawhide strop
he patiently rolls the edge.

He parts the wool, placing the heel of the blade
on the lower lateral muscle, under the ear.

He lifts up and back, a rotation, while holding
pressure under the chin, and the spinal cord parts.

Soon, very soon, a carcase hangs on the gambol
cooling in the concrete shed, the killing house.

He washes the knife in ice cold water,
dries it, folds it into soft cloth.

though his ship leaves the space between windows

Kerrin P Sharpe 2013

though his ship leaves
the space between windows
Jacko still lights
the bull’s eye lantern

straightens the captain’s
Wallace sheets brushes
the epaulettes
on the dress-makers dummy

he still chops strong rough wood
to fill the red arms
of Morrin’s wheelbarrow

and tells her she swims
like an aristocrat

so when he asked her
to return his small
stage of bones to the earth

she realized he would walk
the road, you know
with hand signals and everything

Opening Boxes

Paul McGuigan 2013

the undertaker comes
to disinter his memories
each in a closed coffin
he lays around my house

I unscrew the lids
and we contemplate
the corpses, some decayed,
and others hardly dead

the bones in each box
have a sound track
Van Morrison, Coltrane, The Clash,
and where is Joe Strummer
when you need him

we eulogise
a man made good
who once sold class A’s
to an undercover D
and consign to the pit
a well-known man
whose good repute
is not worth spit

the bones of past love
lead to talk
of lives led not
in pursuit of happiness
but the pursuit of experience
warm skin, cold nights
high mountains, river gorges
and the sense to notice

I have to go
so he packs boxes
like Russian dolls
and leaves in the Lada


Vivienne Hussey 2013

I live in an extinct volcano

under the crater’s rim
above the mantle
below the lava flows

Peninsula of rock
in aquamarine sea
through a breach roll
white topped waves

Harbour basin
safe haven
fault lines buried
in crescent bays

Hills concealed
in the mountains
for life within

Ferry Road

Victoria Broome 2013

Mum it’s nearly spring,
on Ferry Road in Woolston
the blossoms are beginning,
on the streets near me magnolia
stellata has burst open.

I imagine you might be
a young child again tonight,
there is a slip of a new moon
for you to skip over, and there
is your father’s Four Square shop

on Ferry Road all these years later;
he is gone and your mother and
brother and the cathedral and
the convent of the nuns of the
Community of the Sacred Name.

The Four Square shop remains
and the house on Barrington Street
and St Nicholas church where
you were to be married in 1954 and
from where you will leave for the last time.

Like the iconic painting
of the Four Square man with his wide smile
we let the past come and go, it’s cartoon
promise, its nostalgia, when life was clearly
black and white and everything would be alright.

Dog ran off smiling

Gail Ingram 2013

Dog ran off smiling.
Dog they called, but their arms were filled
with groceries.

Dog stayed away all day.
At night they gathered around
the screen and saw their faces
like ghosts looking out.

It’s all right they said, pointing,
SPCA’s found him, see.
Elbows nudged each other
like sticks Dog caught
in the marram grass.

Next day they drove
to the SPCA.
A woman with a face that shut
when she saw them, said
come this way.

She wore a pink and blue cardigan
that was pilled.
A car hit him, she said.

A sound escaped
from their mouths
like overspun wool.
It curled away
over the buildings
into the sky.

The pink and blue lady
twisted her hands
It’s a shock, I know she said.

They took Dog home in the boot
but felt him between them
on the front seat
tongue-out smiling.