NEW POETRY – AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2019 SELECTION: ROBIN LEIPER, PIPPA LITTLE, LEELA SOMA, TERENCE JOHN, AND STEPHEN KEELER
ROBIN LEIPER is a psychotherapist living in Scotland and South Africa and trying to write in the spaces between them. He has been published here and there.
PIPPA LITTLE is from St. Andrews and works for The Royal Literary Fund at Newcastle University. Her second collection Twist (Arc 2017) was shortlisted for a Saltire Prize and she’s working on her third.
LEELA SOMA was born in Madras, India and now lives in Glasgow. Her poems have been in The Blue Nib, Visual Verse, Southlight, Stormy Island, New Voices, Gutter and various other publications. Some of her work reflects her dual heritage of India and Scotland.
TERENCE JOHN lives in Kirkcudbright, Galloway. He was short-listed for the Bridport Poetry Prize 2018 and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Southlight, Orbis, The London Magazine, Acumen, Glasgow Review Of Books, The North, The Poetry Review and Stand. He is currently preparing a selected edition of his poems for publication.
STEPHEN KEELER is an award-winning poet who lives in Ullapool where he teaches creative writing. He is a regular reader of his poems at book events, festivals and launches and has twice been shortlisted (2018, 2019) in the Winchester Poetry Prize. His chapbook ‘While You Were Away’ is published by Maquette Press and he has two collections awaiting publication.
It is, perhaps, like being a dog:
your pet dog, who is
so pleased to see you once again
that he bounces up and down,
you know the way, like he’s on elastic.
It sets your heart-beat racing
and your love, laughing
oh, you yo-yo dog.
While he, perhaps, is thinking:
this time, maybe this time,
finally we’ll set out together
into the dark world, find our prey
and tear it limb from limb.
in his blood wants this,
Poetry, perhaps, really
is like that
and so too its makers.
To better strike the mark
open rather to the question set:
like a clasp knife, say,
pulled from a back pocket,
or a vein.
Drinking Tea in Ramallah
Two bees nestle inside a flower
fast asleep, pollen-smudged,
commas folded together.
Lost, deep in dreams
impervious to past or future harm,
they snooze like our young
while we stir ebony shai
with camomile for tired eyes,
wormwood for labour pains.
Clouds too fine for the wind’s needle
pass over us.
Red swoops of blossom
tremble the bees but do not disturb.
I do not disturb.
I want to call you, child,
come see, but keep silent.
The afternoon pours, sparkling,
as if the world were unquenchable.
I pray for the bees: let them dream
but not forget. Daughter, when you wake
may you live long enough
to wash the bodies of our dead
in a peaceful country.
Writing a poem, words hide behind a hazy mist
words in English have lines, words in Tamil have curves
Curves and lines make shapes, words appear
in Tamil, round words delicious like a mango,
‘உண்மையான கருணை எந்த
(‘Real Kindness seeks no return;
what can the world return to rain clouds?’- Thiruvallvar’)
The English words, clean and practical,
my thoughts and images blur inking patterns
Words in multilingual mist, the muse stirs
My soul lies in a fleeting shadow pale and wanting.
Vancouver Street To Humanities Park
Echoes are primitive,
so often stone
based, sound colliding with the immovable,
ball-bouncing back into play.
voice crashed into emotion, flattened out, I ducked
to avoid its discular rebound
your eyes refocusing. I knew their vocabulary.
I twisted about
to face you on Vancouver Street as you questioned me in Aegean
blue with a white incoming tide gurgling
under the boardwalk.
ourselves, history is littered with failures. We should take pride
in our surviving, still malleable
after so long, still conceding a smile when the blood cools
inside the shade of a cherry tree
its blossom sweet, when we share our time and talk.
hammer at the city’s heart pounds out its invariable
beat, vibrating the park.
A chaffinch hinged to its quivering branch
sings its displeasure to the world, a world designed to dishonour
and to exile it, to diminish its little
i.m. W. S. Merwin (1927-2019)
“…mine in the ways that I learn to miss you.”
W. S. Merwin, Youth
Every poem starts when we were young
on someone else’s page or in the margin
before I knew we’d have to talk
and talk and talk beyond the night with foreign music
and cheap wine until the street-lights started going out
and the colour started soaking
back into our days too of story-telling
and getting home from work just not too tired
for dancing in the little kitchen every poem starts
when we were young
on someone else’s page and in the margin
there is quiet towards the ends of days
as the street-lights start coming on
and the radio plays choral evensong
for no one in particular
there is very good wine in the undanced kitchen
and waiting for the touch
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