Guest Feature – Paul Brookes

Patricia M Osborne

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Poet, Paul Brookes, to Patricia’s Pen.

My Writing

Paul Brookes

Prelude

In school something in me wrote of Morko Ryanne

Space Captain whose ship spirals

into a black hole of my parents arguments

as if it knew something was not right.

In school something in me wrote

of peeling white paint on worm ridden window sills

of my parents screams as I sat on the stairs

as if it knew something was not right

The hand that propelled the pen.

If a poem is meant to be a short, encapsulation of an experience then “prelude” neatly sums up why I began to write. Also, the genres through which I began to explore writing, sci-fi and gritty realism. Then from a quiet village school I moved to a comprehensive in Barnsley. A culture shock. I stand against bullying because I was bullied…

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Wombwell Rainbow Book Review: “The Last Dinosaur in Doncaster” by Sarah Wimbush

Last Dinosaur by Sarah Wimbush front cover

In the space of twenty-five poems Sarah Wimbush encompasses the character and geography of South Yorkshire that, also, has universal themes of change and how we cope with change. From “Strike” to “It’s the backs of things”, she shows a powerful anger for things lost:

“and the model villages

and the churches selling carpets

and the factories turned call centres,

the schoolyards, the ginnels, the smokeless chimneys

and beneath them, beneath all that, those lost men

and all that blackness still down there”

(from “The Lost”)

This is no soppy nostalgia for times long gone, but a sharp, witty analysis of how times, fashions, styles, employment changes a community. Everything becomes something else:

Opposite what was the Manager’s House

and next to the Old Junior School –

the haunt of floorboards creaking

under the early shift’s pit boots

(from “The York, Edlington”)

She explores the language:

“This is the voice. This is the sound of the broad and gubbed,

the Undermen, the too Young, the faced-up, the midnight blue

tattooed. These are mouths fit to burst with faultlines.”

(from “Our Language”)

The geology becomes those who worked it. Reminiscence seamed with TV. Men on the Moon, Your Dad. The list of cars her dad owned, the interiors described precisely by all her senses, the driving lessons “”Dads knuckles tight as wheelnuts” How the cars decayed “Rust rubbed her carcass.” And all that that Mother taught her “A spoonful of sugar or cake helps a fire to catch.”

This book is must re-Read. Something new every time, as is her previous collection: Bloodlines, and her forthcoming collection from Bloodaxe in 2022 called “Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands

#Batfest 28th August – 31st September. Fourth Day: 31st. Barbastelle bat/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos. First drafts always welcome. Please join Sarah Wallis, Andy McGregor and myself in celebrating bats. I will feature your bat poems, artwork photography, and setting myself the challenge of writing a bat sonnet a day. Anybody written bat poems they would love me to feature on my blog? Please include an up to date, short, third person bio with your contribution. Here are the first eleven day themes: 28th Bats And Coronavirus/General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 29th Alcathoe bat/General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 30th. Mexican Free-tailed Bat (fastest mammal)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 31. Barbastelle bat / General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos,1. Giant Golden-crowned Flying Fox (The Largest)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 2. Bechstein’s bat / General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos,3. Honduran White Bat (The Tent Maker)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 4. Brandt’s bat / General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 5. Ghost Bat (False Vampire)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos 6. Brown long-eared bat / General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 7. Common pipistrelle bat / General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos

Fourth Day Barbastelle bat / General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos

On the Wing

Beard of stars, star-beard, Barbastelle,
a little white beard distinguishes you
from Pipistrelle and Daubenton or Serotine.
It sprouts under your face’s dark brown fur.
This face is a gargoyle to fend off evil spirits
taken from the west portal of Chartres. An ageing ET with
a tiny squashed nose, black, round shiny eyes and
enormous white-edged ears, which are needed for echo-location,
your tracking of nocturnal insect life.
This combination of fur and wing disturbs like good surrealism.
Your tessellated wings in out-stretch are so fine,
they must have inspired Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome,
or at least the umbrella. And yes, you are a quadruped:
your front and rear stump-limbs elongate elegantly
into two rapturous wings,
which are huge in proportion to your kind-of-cosy furred body.
The three gently angled divisions of each wing
are surfaced in honeycomb mottling. The only mammal to fly.
This is, after all, a miracle.

-Alison Dunhill

Chiroptera

A dark shred of disbelief attaches itself to a white
nightgown, throat clutched like a fist, she is alone

with the bat. Trapped in her room past midnight
and no one to wake for help. Illicit fingers steal her

peace, and he quivers, waiting.
She pities him, his radar found wanting. Little, by little,

she unfreezes, moves to the window, clings to the curtain.
The bat has spread leathery wings like her old hands, full

of instinct, and she sits for hours in the window, high
in the glass tower; an ageing princess, with her one suitor.

Her start, as the light clicks off, brings the bat from his dreams,
he swoops to life

and she screams the meaning of hers out into the night.

-Sarah Wallis

What is it like by Andy McGregor

-Andy McGregor

About Bats: The Chiroptera Sonnets

Barbastelle

All our food have ears, so we must use stealth.
They hear our echoes, make their own so we
hear theirs and think it ours. We must change depth
of our echo so they cannot hear. Free

to hunt, until they find new ways to stop
us. In flight I glean water as I skim
it, flit quick, echo up at Tallness top.
New echo works. Food is no longer thin.

Dark colder sooner. In Long Cold we must
enter Slow Time. Heart to few from many
beats, gathered together in Hard Dark roost.
All flitterers we ate feed our bellies.

Come Long Warm this heart will beat quicker, these
wings unfold hungry for flight and release.

-Paul Brookes

Bios And Links

-Alison Dunhill

Originally a Londoner, Alison Dunhill had a poetry pamphlet published in her early twenties in Paul Brown’s Trans Gravity Advertiser, 1972. She was also published in Martin Stannard’s Joe Soap’s Canoe #15 in 1992. She was tutored at the Arvon Foundation by Michael Laskey and Martin Stannard in the early 1990s, and has given readings at Pentameters, St Catherine’s College, Oxford, St James’s Piccadilly and Torriano Meeting House. Having moved to Norfolk in the new millennium, she has participated in open mikes at Fenspeak in King’s Lynn and Ely, Café Writers in Norwich and at CB1@CB2 in Cambridge. She has participated in almost ten years of stimulating workshops with Sue Burge. Sue acted as mentor for my forthcoming SurVision chapbook. She had two pieces longlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction Prize in March this year. Two of her poems are published in the current issue of SurVision magazine (July 2020) and two are  published in the December 2020 issue of Fenland Poetry Journal. She won Second Prize in the James Tate International Poetry Prize, 2020 and has a consequent chapbook forthcoming in 2021.  She has always worked concurrently in the visual arts and in recent years is incorporating poetry into her art practice. An art historian too, her MPhil thesis forges links between interwar surrealism and 1970s US photography (please see her WikiPedia entry).

#Batfest 28th August – 31st September. Third Day: 30th. Mexican Free-tailed Bat / General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos. First drafts always welcome. Please join Angela Topping, Palma McKeown and myself in celebrating bats. I will feature your bat poems, artwork photography, and setting myself the challenge of writing a bat sonnet a day. Anybody written bat poems they would love me to feature on my blog? Please include an up to date, short, third person bio with your contribution. Here are the first eleven day themes: 28th Bats And Coronavirus/General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 29th Alcathoe bat / General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 30th. Mexican Free-tailed Bat (fastest mammal)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 31. Barbastelle bat / General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos,1. Giant Golden-crowned Flying Fox (The Largest)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 2. Bechstein’s bat / General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos,3. Honduran White Bat (The Tent Maker)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 4. Brandt’s bat / General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 5. Ghost Bat (False Vampire)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos 6. Brown long-eared bat / General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 7. Common pipistrelle bat / General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos

Third Day 30th. Mexican Free-tailed Bat/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos,

Bat by Palma

-Palma McKeown.

Bat in the House

How it got in we will never know
but getting it safe outside again
was not easy. Bats don’t fly,
they swoop, with such pure grace.

It first appeared in the kitchen
describing arcs. We opened the skylights,
turned off lights, closed doors
to help it find its way back to air

And thought we’d done it. Next night
it appeared again, perhaps slept
in daylight on the dresser top.
The pipistrelle glided into the hall

and skimmed its way upstairs
in a few wing beats. Hastily closing doors
I followed it to close doors up there,
turn off the lights, open landing window.

I had not gone out. It lay exhausted
on the carpet, until my husband
tenderly picked it up, placed it
outside on the extension roof.

We knew bats could not take off
from the ground, like other winged things.
Next morning it was no longer there.
It must have been hungry, exhausted.

Important not to invest human emotions
in an innocent creature. It didn’t visit us
nor convey any blessings. It was simply
in the wrong place to survive.

-Angela Topping

On Mexican Free-Tailed 1/3 Mating

To feed my baby I hunt from Lightdark
to Darklight. I remember its making.
He slowly, comes on grabs Her at the start
always by ear, the jaw, or neck, pulling

Her out of our crowd, moves onto Her back
biting scruff of Her neck. Holds Her. She yanks
away , He chirps faintly. She squeaks. Now back
with us Her face wounds bleed. She is pregnant.

He moves slowly onto my back, His ears
held low and eyes closed.. No neck-biting or
calls. I do not resist; I groom myself, my ears,
or sleep. Cold Time comes so we fly to Warm.

I give birth clinging upside down to stark
Dark thumbs and feet grasp. It wont fall to Dark.

-Paul Brookes

Mexican Free-Tailed 2/3 Suckling

My baby is born naked, eyes open.
I carefully clean and nurse it. New-born
attached to me by thread. It’ll be eaten
if it falls Below by hard scuttlers brawn.

I won’t rescue it. We learn each other’s
scent and voice before we separate. I
pull away to dislodge Bloodsac, unmother.
When dried it falls off child.Tenacious, my

young use large feet and thumbs to hold on to
Hard. It’s tiny sharp teeth cling to mothers
or others. I put it among young, who
squeak, jostle, and crawl over each other.

After Hunt, find its call, muzzle top of it’s head,
sniff, talk, raise my folded wing. It’s breastfed.
-Paul Brookes

A Mexican Free-Tailed 3/3 First Flight

I avoid several mid-air crashes
a breath. Rely on my untested guide
senses. Break my wings, get Belowed bashes
I’ll be swarmed, stripped to bone in a breath’s Wide.

First time I flew outside with our swarm, told
to watch for feathered claws that lie in wait
I found my first winged hard case, snatched by bold
one who jammed my echo. Learnt my mistake.

When Cold Time arrives we will fly to Warm.
Gather outside entry to our Dark Home.
We will rise upwards, our gust makers form
shapes in air in flight to our second Home.

We must rest and hang the journey, refresh.
Mother says new home’s food is tasty, fresh.

-Paul Brookes

Photography by Robin Wright

BOMBFIRE


Robin Wright lives in Southern Indiana. Her poems, essays, and photos have appeared in Ariel ChartMinnow Literary MagazineSanctuary MagazineBlack Bough Poetry, Spank the Carp, Muddy River Poetry Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Young Ravens Literary Review, Re-side zine, and othersOne of her poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Panoply, and her first chapbook, Ready or Not, was published by Finishing Line Press in October of 2020.

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#InternationalBatNight #InternationalBatWeekend #Batfest 28th August – 31st September. Second Day: Alcathoe bat (Myotis alcathoe)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos. First drafts always welcome. Please join Anjum Wasim Dar, Sarah Westcott and myself in celebrating bats. A slightly longer than a month celebration of Bats kicks of with #InternationalBatNight. I will feature your bat poems, artwork photography, and setting myself the challenge of writing a bat sonnet a day. Anybody written bat poems they would love me to feature on my blog? Please include an up to date, short, third person bio with your contribution. Here are the first eleven day themes: 28th Bats And Coronavirus/General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 29th Alcathoe bat (Myotis alcathoe)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 30th. Mexican Free-tailed Bat (fastest mammal)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 31. Barbastelle bat (Barbastella barbastellus)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos,1. Giant Golden-crowned Flying Fox (The Largest)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 2. Bechstein’s bat (Myotis bechsteinii)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos,3. Honduran White Bat (The Tent Maker)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 4. Brandt’s bat (Myotis brandtii)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 5. Ghost Bat (False Vampire)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos 6. Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 7. Common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos

Second Day: Alcathoe bat (Myotis alcathoe)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos

Batfact:

There are eighteen species of bat in Britain and all are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.  One of these species, the Greater mouse-eared bat was officially declared extinct in Britain in 1990, but there were reports of sightings across 29 locations in the UK in the winter of 2011/2012. 

Bats are quite remarkable animals worthy of our interest and respect. They are the only mammals capable of controlled flight – and their aerobatic skills have to been seen to be believed! British bats eat insects and nothing else. This makes them valuable friends and allies as many farmers and gardeners seek to reduce insect numbers, as some insects can cause damage to valuable crops and flowers.

bats anjum

Bats by Anjum Wasim Dar

Poem

Evening shadows fell all over the lane
soon one could not discern the window pane
this one tree out of three we planted -gave
relief to heated pain, saved all from rain

but that evening it was pitch dark, the car
was parked in the shade, but wait -a sound
strange could be heard, the flurry rapid
flight of birds, small dark swooping round

left to right and right to left, flying in and
falling flat, disappearing from darkly sight
could hardly see them in the dim light-
not at full glare, wanted the birds to fly away scared.

But no, they kept coming and hovering around the car
preventing anyone from opening the door-what next
as fear increased -who had sent these bat-birds here?
small black sharp and shrill, recitation of holy verses

finally made the kill-all flew away as quickly as they
had come, and hoping that all had gone , we took the
back seat, the food basket in between us placed,
dinner to deliver at the hospital gate, trembling still

at the bat attack, cautiously moved on to the road
hardly a furlong had we gone, when sister let out
a loud scream-something shuffling, flapping dark –
Stop the car Oh Stop- Another scream, a loud screech

door crashed open-out flew a dark black bat,
somehow it had clasped the basket, and had
slipped inside -never ever so terrified was I
that night, Halloween or magic – wondered Why?

But then we knew Mother would not be with us
for long, doctors helpless signaled the Swan Song’
with food for Mother we were going, when Bats
flew around – Myths say they warn of Death –

soon soon Mother would be without life
without breath- to Heaven taken, to Heaven
gone-

-Anjum Wasim Dar

Bats

Let us begin at slant-light
with cut felt flickers,
unhooding cubic skulls,
furtive and hungry.

Trace our loopy symmetries
beneath the canopy as we feed,
follow our dance with open faces –
long diverged from the birds.

You cannot hear us but you’ll feel
our hunting song across your teeth
defiling the laws of physics
with frequencies beyond this.

Watch our velvet forms take on
three dimensions or four
as we vanish into sky space,
a filigree of apple tree

bursting into fret-work,
scraps of jinking balsa,
flicking the Vs, skimming
odd quick trajectories.

We are fickle as kits,
wombed and jewelled
with kidneys, ovaries,
rows of studded teats.

Born to kill, we are strung
on struts of steel; dissolve
in darkness to anti-matter,
turning widdershins,

bewilderingly separate,
a tapestry of gremlin flight
angling on planes of sound,
almost sightless, blind-to-green.

Turn your ears towards us,
bearing truths in our pitch and fall;
forest-worlds and gardens returned
in sonic negative, transformed.

Hold us in dry hands
when you find us in the woods,
stroke our underbellies
with something approaching tenderness.

(First published in Slant Light, Pavilion Poetry, 2016)

-Sarah Westcott

About Bats: The Chiroptera Sonnets

The Alcathoe

Home high in splits, cracks and loose tree bark,
near water. I hear it in two ways. Crash
of tumble. Soft echo in our Hunting Dark.
Trees are Hardnesses in our flying Dash.

I may swarm He may chase me. We may
retreat to Darker and make young. Suckles
in my pouch. Then let it hang, while away
I skim leaves, snatch prey mid flight, food rustle

crunchy backed echoes, always hunt echoes
bring
back. Amongst others know it’s cry and smell.
I hold it in my wings, soon its own wings
will learn flight in the Dark, it’s ears know well

a landscape of returning sound, nose scent
of prey, weathered woods, know home’s high ascent.

-Paul Brookes

Review of ‘White Eye Of The Needle’ by Chris Campbell

Nigel Kent - Poet

White Eye of the Needle by Chris Campbell (The Choir Press) is a poignant collection of poems that captures so much about this unique time in our history. Although not all of the poems are written specifically about the pandemic, they function as a commentary on Lockdown by reminding us of the pleasures of everyday life that we are currently denied.

Many of Campbell’s Lockdown poems convey the insularity of lives during the pandemic which he shows persists even when the regulations have been relaxed. Take for example, his Careful what you touch. The bustle of the city’s streets has to some degree returned: ‘Where once was the odd stroller. Now restrictions have eased; //There’s ten.’ However, this is not normality. The shoppers maintain their distance: they remain suspicious and wary of contact with one another: the man in the brown boots ‘passes a couple…and picks up/The pace’. He is…

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