Shop Talk: Poems for Shop Workers by Tanner (Penniless Press)

Tears in the Fence

Since the mid-2000s, Tanner (the ‘Paul’ was dropped in about 2009) has been publishing interesting, distinctive work in The Crazy Oik, Monkey Kettle, Penniless Press, Pulsar, The Recusant and elsewhere, as well as satirical cartoons and a novel. The earlier collections include graphics and prose heavy on bodily fluids and youthful opinion, but among them are poems that shine in their energy, wit and fast-paced depictions of bus-stop-level life ‘in the autumn of our country’ in Birkenhead and Preston. This latest collection has identified the strongest stuff and honed it well. The settings are a series of supermarkets and minimarkets, and the perspective is of a low-paid shelf-stacker/ till-attendant. The management are a pain,

they’d keep you behind, unpaid
for 15 minutes a night
just because they could,

but the customers are far worse. They queue-jump, moan, spit, make personal comments, demand unreasonable discounts or refunds…

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#GladToCare Awareness Week poetry challenge 6th-12th July. Join Graham Bibby, sonja benskin mesher, Yvonne Moura and myself. I have expanded the remit to include home care. Let’s celebrate, notice the often unappreciated work of carers, both at home and in carehomes. Please email your poems to me. Monday: Home Carers, Tuesday: Care Homes Wednesday: How Do I Want To Be Cared For, Or Not Thursday: How I Care? Friday: Who Will Be Choosing My Carehome? Saturday: ‘A day in the life of a loved one in a care home’ Sunday: Why Do We Care? Here are today’s: Monday: Home Carers

Mother doesn’t know who is wiping her mouth.
Mother doesn’t know who is changing her wet sheets.
Mother doesn’t know who is cooking her favorite dish.
Mother doesn’t know who is trying to hold her hand.
Mother doesn’t know who is reading to her.
Mother doesn’t know who is in her wedding picture.
Mother doesn’t know who is the baby in the bassinet.
Mother doesn’t know. Mother doesn’t know.
Mother doesn’t know who is mourning her.

-Elizabeth Moura

.seeds.

have you collected seeds
of many years, packed,
labelled, dated.
have you died, and left
the table unprepared.
i have them now in boxes,
a gift, from those who love.
they will bring me work, joy,
an independent air, profound words,
from those who care.

sbm.

Until forever

I have slipped, I fear.
Go to touch the burning hot
The scalding pot
I know no fear
Her hand on mine
Our fingers intertwine
A Calming tone
Can’t leave you alone
Not now or in the morning glow
Climbed out a small window
And off to town I go
She was woken by the crackle
Of a police radio
Can’t go on like this
This, incessant raging decline
Painted the clothes on the washing line
Make them look clean
Drive her to distraction
What’s this for?
It’s the toaster
I know that!!!!
But what, is, it, for!!!
They sit on the floor
And weep for what was before
And weep for what lies before
And then
He didn’t notice her gone
But when they played her favorite song
His foot tapped along
Inside
Dancing
With his bride.

-Graham Bibby

How Much

Time has it been?
Has it been
So much time?

I have left me.
No, he has left me.
No, they have left me.

I’m single, aren’t I?
I feel I’m single.
Are you here
For a date?

Are we staying long?
Do I have a room.
This is my house.
Is this my house?

I recognise that furniture.
It’s mine. Have we just
Moved in ? Why do you
Make me confused?

Forty two years
And now he’s left me.
Twenty six years
We’ve lived here.

I thought we’d just
Moved in. I don’t
Want strangers
In my house

Eyeing up my furniture.
Carers are strangers.
I don’t know who
Everyone is.

-Paul Brookes

Bios and Links

-Elizabeth Moura

lives in a converted factory and works with elders. She has had poetry, flash fiction or photographs published in online and print publications Human/Kind Journal, Rose Quartz Poetry Magazine, Hawk & Whippoorwill, The Cormorant, Radical: A Lit Zine, Chrysanthemum, Occulum, Flash, Paragraph Planet, and Flash Fiction Magazine. On Twitter @mourapoet, Instagram mourathepoet and mourastudio.wordpress.com.

-sonja benskin mesher

born , Bournemouth.

now

lives and works in North Wales
as an independent artist

‘i am a multidisciplinary artist, crafting paint, charcoal, words and whatever comes to hand, to explain ideas and issues

words have not come easily. I draw on experience, remember and write. speak of a small life’.

Elected as a member of the Royal Cambrian Academy and the United Artists Society
The work has been in solo exhibitions through Wales and England, and in selected and solo worldwide.
Much of the work is now in both private, and public collections, and has been featured in several television documentaries, radio programmes and magazines.

Here is my interview of sonja benskin mesher:

https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2018/10/16/wombwell-rainbow-interviews-sonja-benskin-mesher/

-Paul Brookes

is a shop asst. Lives in a cat house full of teddy bears. His chapbooks include The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press, 2017), A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Port Of Souls (Alien Buddha Press, 2018), Please Take Change (Cyberwit.net, 2018), Stubborn Sod, with Marcel Herms (artist) (Alien Buddha Press, 2019), As Folk Over Yonder ( Afterworld Books, 2019). Forthcoming Khoshhali with Hiva Moazed (artist), Our Ghost’s Holiday (Final book of threesome “A Pagan’s Year”) . He is a contributing writer of Literati Magazine and Editor of Wombwell Rainbow Interviews.

A very quick poetry challenge. Blink and you might miss it. What can you find blooming in a meadow? Celebrate all things meadow to support National Meadows Day on July the 4th. Send me your wildflower poems #Wildflowerhour this Sunday between 8-9pm UK time.

A very quick poetry challenge. Blink and you might miss it. What can you find blooming in a meadow? Celebrate all things meadow to support National Meadows Day on July the 4th. Send me your wildflower poems #Wildflowerhour this Sunday between 8-9pm UK time.

Cowslip

Green rosettes, crinkly, tongue-like
leaves lick the ground.

Tube-like, egg-yolk yellow flowers
cluster at ends of tall, green stems.
Cowslip ball

“Tisty tosty, tell me true,
who shall I be married to?”

Throw the balls foe an answer.

-Paul Brookes

Viola Tricolor

Ophelia says:
There is pansies, that’s for thoughts
And I’ll only smile as I think of you.

Some call her
Heartsease
Heart’s delight
Tickle my fancy
Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me
Three faces in a hood
But to me she’ll always be
Love-in-idleness.

The hermaphrodite’s draught
Dripped on my droopy eyelids
And I’d left the antidote
Dormant
In the honey pot.

I dreamt of pollination by bees.

And so
Accidentally shafted
By Cupid
I could but love you, my child.

The imperial votaress
Averted her gaze
And walked on
Unblemished
Whilst I sat up to rip
Bedlamish wisps
Of rue flowers from my hair.

-Spangle McQueen

Driven to distraction
the daisy Queen
dressed in scattered silver
and silk stockings
dancing with
her dandelion king
to be with him
everywhere

-Fi
#SlamWords

Taking the Next Step

Wendy Pratt Writing

coffee-notebook-pen-writing-34587

Last week I finished a decent draft of the first chapter of a creative non fiction book I’m writing. It was an intense experience, partly because of the content, partly because I’m slightly out of my comfort zone with prose, but I know I need to push through that to reach the place that I want to be. I had been shortlisted for the Alpine Fellowship Writing Award which was a huge deal, it’s very prestigious and the prize money would have meant having the time to write, without distraction. I can’t really emphasise how important that is for a writer. Anyhoo, I did not make it past the shortlist and though I was obviously disappointed, I had a lot to be happy about. There were 2000 entries and I made it to the last thirty, with an essay which I’m hoping will form a chapter of the book later…

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#NationalMeadowsDay poetry challenge. Have you written a poem about meadows? If inspired please join me, Lucy Furlong and David Hill in celebrating our countryside. This is a one off challenge. All poems will feature on my website. Artworks welcome too. DM me for my email address

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The flower meadows at RSPB OLd Moor

-Paul Brookes

Debbie Strange Prairie Meadow

“prairie meadow” – haiku, Frameless Sky 12, June 2020

the meadow
astir with blue skimmers
their wings
darning these placid days
into our histories

tanka published in Ripples in the Sand, Tanka Society of America Members’ Anthology 2016

=Debbie Strange

I Will Not See the Fields of My Childhood Again

Days rolling in unmown meadows,
lady’s smock, bedstraw and saxifrage

the tumbledown barn and ash
we climbed in – or fell out of

the gooseberry which grew
through an antique plough,

the nosy cows
who peered over our wall

tongues lolling and licking,
huge brown eyes

with too-long lashes,
begging you to love them

-Lauren M. Foster

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Six Acre Meadow

I

It was just ‘the field the other side of the second bridge’
which led to nowhere but, here, looking across the river,
you knew the manor house was there,
you could hardly see it through the trees then, maybe elms,
couldn’t see it when you went up by the church.

The old barn was on the right hand side below the church
at the bottom of the manor house land, ramshackle unromantic
surrounded by scrub but attractive for its intact hayloft
you climbed through a barbed wire fence, and climbed up
thrilled in successfully trespassing the forbidden space

Four of us got caught once by a man holding a shotgun.
We claimed to be from Worcester Park to throw them off the scent,
some of the other lads came up the hill, saw us being led away,
including Grenville Wiltshire- The Loudest Voice in Tolworth
“They’ve caught Nick, Roger…”

Took us up to the house and gave us stern warnings,
threatened us with the police.
His mother, we assumed, told us not to be cheeky
and eventually we were sent on our way
exhilarated- we’d got away with it.

II

It was just ‘the field the other side of the second bridge,’
somewhere we drifted to, ended up at, randomly,
not a destination, a ‘nothing’ space.
Once, the ice was thick enough across the field
to break out a chunk for a puck, hit with large sticks,
battering up and down playing impromptu ice hockey

Today the ice looks in broken panes,
jagged amongst freezing water and blades of grass,
welly-deep and no gloves you fish tiles out and squint
through them, delightedly, while around your feet
there is a frozen clatter chime of breaking sounds.
You want to take this glassy treasure home.

III

It was just ‘the field the other side of the second bridge’
but all the time this place had a name,
Six Acre Meadow,
the west bank of the Hogsmill,
at the end of the Manor House garden,
location of Millais’s painted Ophelia.

I walked along this bank one day with Gran and my sister,
the dark shaded banks after the second bridge,
always looking for that unseen space, that
place out of sight, always near, following her
as she looked for that unseen space, that
place out of sight, always near, immortalised.

-Lucy Furlong

David Hill Prose Poem

David Hill “celebrates the sensuous side of Hay Making”

1. To Burn Brash

Sat back barked.
Small insects crawl
down tree stretched above
inhabit hair
worn gloves
bruised brashed branches

Breathe wet peat,
damp soil, leaf decay,
autumn dead leaf dance,
spring bluebell wend
summer sacred stainglass
canopy sunshaft play
winter heavesnow clear paths

Sat back barked
canopy leaf horizon
floats shimmers

Calm

2. Our Wombwell Boxed

Lift small boxes wooden lid smell
broadleaved woodland
before rail/road
Press plastic button hear
Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Woodpeckers,
before rail/road.

Press plastic button watch
Videowalk ancient Beech, Oak, Birch
before rail/road.

Electronic ringtone.

We would like to advise all visitors
The museum is closing soon.
Please exit through main door.
We hope you have enjoyed your visit.
Please come again.

-Paul Brookes

Bios and Links

Lucy Furlong

is a writer, poet and walking artist whose work has been published widely, exhibited nationally and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Her poetry map Amniotic City was featured in The Guardian and poetry from her Over the Fields map is taught as part of the Open University MA in Creative Writing. She is currently living in Wexford, Ireland. Follow her on twitter @lucyfurleapz

..day 113..

sonja benskin mesher

..day 113..

dogs.

i miss her eyes, her looking up, back at me
the sound of her running the stairs scratching the door when it slammed shut in the wind

so i imagine your dog
from the description you gave

me

got no walk yesterday for heavy rain
nor today by looks of it

things come together
things are changing

rattles the brain
until things drop into place
and we move forward knowing

i am a fortunate even though

you made a positive change 
i find my words come the same

now with one finger
the pointy one
the one i point with

you know on the bus with her
then
at horses, helicopters and planes

dogs

now I indicate invisible with my mind
unless I forget

though we won’t go on buses now

i count in the last day tomorrow 
for although we must stay safe
i do not…

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Transformation

Fmme writes poems

One summer we collected caterpillars,
picked them, green and glistening,
off the cabbage leaves.

We kept them in a glass box
in the shed, and fed them
fat and slow
until they built themselves cocoons.

We left them then,
grey chrysalises, dry and dead,
forgot them over winter.
One morning, bright with spring,
I went into the shed
and found it full
of fragile, fluttering wings

so clear
so beautiful

we set them free.

A poem for Anmol’s last dVerse prompt. I’m sorry that this is his last one – his prompts have been challenging and creative, and I will miss them. As a final flourish, he asks us to write in the awareness that this is Pride Month, a time to celebrate the lgbtq+ community in all its shapes and forms. I’ve chosen to write about transformation, about finding freedom through that transformation. This is for anybody who…

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..day 112..

sonja benskin mesher

.day 112.

awake early to rain on the window
severe piano music from the radio

cosy up a while
with tea

your words took on a different tone than
the cycling tales 

I appreciate this

today here
comes another announcement 
predicted it will be dropping the

present travel restriction 

yesterday came energy
with words from another

with a sudden burst late 
the grass was cut though
was sent cross eyed back

into the house with hunger

new recipe awaited
what I invented &
I expect someone else
invented it before sometime

rhubarb delivered after
from the family garden

james

to be cooked today
some frozen in small portions

when young I ate it raw
on the bus home from work

my mother told me it clears the blood
while vinegar changed it to water

things to tell a child

I wonder about the taste of tea
as I drink it

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