GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Journeys: a Space for Words
Ed: Stephanie Buick
Indigo Dreams Publishing
Poetry and Prose Anthology
138 x 216mm
£7.99 + P&P UK
PUB: May 2016
Granma’s Lemon Curd – Char March
She takes the sugar-nips and hammer,
hacks three handfuls from the solid cone.
I pour the Silver Spoon beet powder
till the scales say 225 grams.
She pushes her hands into straw and cluck,
pulls out three pullet eggs splatty with shit.
I open the fridge, the cardboard mouth,
cup two 4°C, Large, Class A, Happy, Free To Roam.
She has rested her head against the flank
as she pulled rhythmic hiss into the pail.
She has stood in the sycamore-shaded dairy
chugging the wooden churn, beaten
pale gold with ridged wooden hands,
pushed her hair back into her cap.
I prise open the olive reduced-fat spread,
tear back its silver top, weigh 55grams.
She asks Cook if she might have a lemon.
Cook unlocks the slatted fruit safe.
I take a lemon from the overfull bowl
of oranges, bananas, mangoes.
Then our hands zest and juice, teaspoon out
the stray pip. Crack and whisk eggs.
She is at the huge range, I the induction hob,
to melt the fat, dissolve in the sugar,
welcome the clean zing of lemon,
and stir and stir a slow watchfulness
as we ease the eggs in, and the yellow
begins to thicken.
Storytelling is a part of the human drive to explore; to be curious about our surroundings and the people we meet. Whether through prose, poetry, song or dance, storytelling is as old as humanity itself. To lose oneself in an engaging narrative is to be transported to another time, another place, whether in tales of an ancient, mythical civilisation or inter-planetary science fiction fantasy.
Our lives present us with an infinite number of journeys, from the first faltering steps of a toddler to the fading shuffle towards the end of life. A journey could be a shift in dynamic between two people, a mood swing from tears to laughter, or that bright moment when confusion becomes clarity. The electrical impulses being fired as you’re reading this are travelling along a myriad of neural pathways in your brain, lighting it up with images and ideas. So journeys and storytelling are integral parts of our lives and of the history of humanity. It felt intuitive, therefore, to merge these very natural human drives together in our anthology.
This theme, as we hoped it would, has attracted an eclectic mix of works, each of which, we feel, encapsulates different nuances of the idea of a journey. There are pieces dealing with universal themes such as love, loss, growing up and growing old. And there are other interpretations: the journey of a missing scalpel; a stormtrooper at a service station, and a galloping wine bottle. It was a truly enlightening experience to read the array of responses generated by this one simple idea, and we hope that you will agree that this anthology includes a rich and exciting range of both poetry and prose.
Stephanie Buick & Lucy Brighton
Flight to Finland – Bob Beagrie
The sun, out of the window of the plane, sets
my numb nerves atingle with fire as it sinks
into a sea of cloud 36500 feet above the Baltic
turning the vapour-scape into molten undulations
throbbing with barely contained eruption; a detail
from John Martin's Sodom & Gomorrah, the fire-eye
burning through empty space of the stratosphere,
my cheek blushing, my upheld fingers stained red;
yesterday a young girl walking past the foot
of the staircase in The Ship Inn, Saltburn, casually
announced, “There's a ghost at the top of them stair,”
and I resisted the urge to glance up at the apparition,
almost saying “Yes, and one at the bottom too,”
and one speaking, and writing now, and another reading
and the sun floating on the crust of cloud is already
eight minutes dead - an image of Lemminkainen
floundering into the turmoil of the black river
to be torn apart by all of the ferocity that lies
beneath the surface tension:
the political sharks, pike and piranha
the birthing cries, the weeping trees
the dancing ripples, the burning bridges
of clasped hands, monuments to unbridled
ambition, the bridges made from sweat
the houses of faith and their opposite
(which is also faith), the bridges fashioned
from sighs and shrugs, the rope bridges
full of shall-knots running over the heads
of crocs with their grins ready to strip
flesh and light from bone, take on
digest and transform the energy
and within this time of suspension in thinned air
as darkness comes on and the sun's searing glare
becomes a blood stain on the cloud-lake's sloughed skin
I close my eyes to ask, what marvels shall we make of this?
and wait for the pilot to announce the beginning
of our descent into the gravity of our worldly bodies.
Up and at ‘em – Lucy Brighton (EXTRACT ONLY)
Searching frantically in the ‘keepsake’ box for a recent photograph, I find none. They are all of her years ago. Before. I hold one tentatively in my hands. Nobody could identify her with this. She is laughing, the kind of laugh that only comes in youth, unfettered and abandoned. Her eyes are laughing, too. She must be about 18 and is arm in arm with Dad. Gently, I touch the picture with my thumb. I haven’t seen this woman in a very long time.
“Fuck,” I mutter to myself. That will be the home. Do I have the picture yet? Have I heard from her? I rifle in the box again. Nothing. I let the phone ring off. How can I tell them I don’t have a picture of my own mother? They already think I am the devil in disguise at that place. Trying hard to remember when I last took a picture of her, I sit heavily on a kitchen chair. It must have been Christmas when we took her to the pub for lunch. Not that she would have noticed. Or remembered. The post-its, the memory cards, none of it really works anymore.
I can feel the nervous energy seep from me. I’m exhausted and tears sting in the corners of my eyes. It’s not that I don’t want to visit her. It’s hard. She was always so vivacious. When I was young, I would sit and watch her curl her long auburn hair and apply a deep plum-coloured tint to her lips. “Up and at ‘em,” she would say as she glanced in the mirror admiringly. She always said that being a landlady meant never being seen without your lipstick. It is hard to reconcile the memories of growing up in the small flat above the pub with the woman who has escaped from the nursing home.
Return Ticket – John Harris (EXTRACT ONLY)
James sank into his seat with relief. Somehow he was always rushing to catch trains but had never actually missed one yet. When you are on the train, he thought, you can just surrender yourself to fate, trusting that you will arrive safely. The carriage was filling up. The seat opposite was still vacant but clearly reserved. James unzipped his case and took out a tube of mints, a copy of the Guardian, with the crossword started but not finished, and the book he had rather impulsively bought at the station. He looked again at the cover: The Meaning of Life. Somehow, right at that moment, today, Friday June the twenty-ninth, the title was appealing, with rather direct relevance.
James opened his paper and, concentrating on the cryptic crossword, was only vaguely aware that the seat opposite had been claimed by a middle-aged man of undistinguished appearance. A voice over the intercom announced the departure of the “eleven o’clock from King’s Cross, calling at York, Durham, Newcastle and Edinburgh.” He hardly noticed the clattering of points and the entry to and from tunnels, before the train gathered speed on its way north. Fourteen down was proving difficult. James paused and looked up, catching the eye of the passenger in the facing seat. A little disconcerting, a gaze more penetrating than he had anticipated. James recovered his poise and smiled in a welcoming way, inviting conversation. A vague smile in return, but nothing more.