Previously appeared here Empty by Lesley James — Full House Literary
Lost & Found
You got up by yourself this morning,
put on your own knickers,
said you fancied eggs and bacon.
You went outside – first time in two years,
to breathe the dawn air and
survey the world since you left it.
In a few days, you remembered
your name, the dog’s, who I was,
that the postman wasn’t your Dad.
You exchanged pleasantries
with the woman next door, no longer
suspecting her of plotting your murder.
The hairdresser turned your flat feathers
into a helmet of curls, in the mirror
igniting a glimmer of recognition.
We chucked the grab rails and Complan
drove the zimmer to the tip, turned
your pill box into earring storage.
Weeks went by, you took the car out,
joined the library, had a stab at calligraphy,
tried your first chai latte.
Then on Sunday we came home and there
you were on hands and knees under the table,
looking for something. You didn’t know what.
From Lost & Found published by Hedgehog Poetry Press 2020
Vicpickup.com / @vicpickup
Black and white prints
cover creased hands.
Eyes narrow, dazed,
We slung satchels over knitted cardigans,
slammed the door,
grey pleated skirts hitched high above the knee.
We stood to attention at the bell,
split from my look-a-like,
a whistle insisted we march
into separate classrooms.
In the sixties we explored
rummaged antique stores,
picked up gold leafed books,
bought treasure boxes
to hide shared secrets.
We sank into striped deckchairs,
flipped off our tops to reveal
plastic sunglasses concealed our faces.
We lazed by gull-grey waves,
pebbles chattered at our feet.
We sniffed salt from the sea,
cardboard cones on our noses,
read Jackie in the sun.
A transistor radio blurred Cathy’s
Clown, from the Top Ten charts.
I sit by the iron framed bed,
wait for a flicker of recognition.
blasts from the box
high on the wall
Lillie looks up,
whispers my name.
‘Freddie – The Twist.
you and me that day
down in Brighton.’
– Patricia M Osborne (previously published in Reach Poetry (2016) )
-Annick Yerem (First published in Dreich)
We wheel her into
the waning evening sun
as if the sunlight
would somehow restore her
like some wilting plant.
She does not speak.
Words run away
slipping her grasp
like unruly children,
reluctant to come home
We fill her time,
with family photos
till we have earned
filial duty fulfilled
for yet another week.
She looks at
with shuttered eyes,
with every feeble wheeze,
whilst her tissue soft hands
clench and unclench
in her lap,
as if anticipating
which we think
(published in ‘Saudade’, Nigel Kent, Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2019)
First published by The Blue Nib
REQUIEM FOR A CELLIST
She rocks rhythmically in her chair,
Her eyes dulled by grief, skeletal fingers
clutching rosary beads. In despair she chants
‘Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine’
The creeping evil nibbles away at her brain
She clenches her fists, howls
like a caged wolf, searching
desperately for her beloved ‘cello.
Then, as if by magic it appears, a Stradivari,
propped up by the Steinway grand,
pleading to be picked up and played again,
its bow sprawled across the piano lid,
resin box still unopened.
A sudden draft from the open window
breathes life back into the stale air.
Haunting sounds unlock iconic images,
transporting her to lovers’ beds, concert halls,
summer gardens and back-street alleys –
a heady rush of half-remembered liaisons,
ecstasy and pain intertwined.
Final chords crescendo then trail away
into the invading gloom of a winter twilight.
One last brave ‘da capo’- then peace descends.
Her weary frame crumples in dismay,
She attempts to rise from her chair, pleads
one last time: ‘Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine’
One of the best of minds
destroyed by dementia
does not howl on her knees
in the street, does not masturbate
in the magnolia living-room,
is not dragged off the roof-top,
naked; no, she leaves a message
on her daughter’s answer-phone
saying: there’s an echo,
an echo in my head.
-Olive M. Ritch
Bios and Links
started submitting to journals in 2021. She has flash fiction in The Broken Spine and CafeLit, poems in Dydd Dylan Day anthology and writing for children in The Dirigible Balloon and Parakeet Magazine. ‘Empty’ was selected by Kathryn O’Driscoll for Full House LitFest’s Mental Health feature.
is a Laurel Prize nominated poet. She has been shortlisted for several poetry prizes and won the Hedgehog Press’ collection competition 2020. She has two poetry collections:
Fording The Stream and Where Flora Sings, a memoir in prose and verse, The Road To Cleethorpes Pier and a new pamphlet, Earth Magicke out April 2021. She has been widely published online and in print, most recently: Hedgehog Press, The Blue Nib, Impspired & forthcoming in Sarasvati and Dreich.
She performs regularly at open mic events and facilitates a women’s poetry group in Nottinghamshire.
Instagram : meggiepoet
Facebook Author Page: Facebook.com/margaretbrowningroyall
lives and works in Berlin. In her dreams, she can swim like a manatee. Annick tweets @missyerem and has, to her utmost delight, been published by Pendemic, Detritus, @publicpoetry, RiverMouthReview, #PoetRhy, Anti-Heroin-Chic, Rejection Letters, Dreich, 192, The Failure Baler and Rainbow Poems. https://missyerem.wordpress.com. https://linktr.ee/annickyerem
is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet (2019 and 2020) and reviewer who lives in rural Worcestershire. He is an active member of the Open University Poetry Society, managing its website and occasionally editing its workshop magazine.
He has been shortlisted for several national competitions and his poetry has appeared in a wide range of anthologies and magazines. In 2019 Hedgehog Poetry Press published his first collection, ‘Saudade’, following the success of his poetry conversations with Sarah Thomson, ‘Thinking You Home’ and ‘A Hostile Environment’. In August 2020 Hedgehog Poetry Press published his pamphlet, Psychopathogen, which was nominated for the 2020 Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets and made the Poetry Society’s Winter List.
In 2021 he was shortlisted for the Saboteur Award for Reviewer of Literature.
To find out more visit his website: http://www.nigelkentpoet.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter @kent_nj
-Olive M. Ritch
is a poet originally from Orkney. She was the recipient of the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2020 and in 2006, she received the Calder Prize for Poetry from the University of Aberdeen. Her work has been extensively published in literary magazines, anthologies and websites including Poetry Review, Agenda, The Guardian, New Writing Scotland, The Poetry Cure (Bloodaxe) and the Scottish Poetry Library. Her work has also been broadcast on Radio 4.