The Year of Not Dancing
Hours passed languid as the flap of a hawk’s wing
in a last July before the awkward initiations
of fifteen and lifts to far-afield jiving.
He’d work for an uncle, cutting hay, fixing
shingles with bradawls and hot, smoking pitch —
evenings, hung round with fairground hands
till the sideshows lit at eight. Then he’d sidestroke
from the main pier, alone, on a full tide as far
as the bobbing Perpetua, its line of cork floats
with dock and fairground small as a snow-bubble town,
bull-horns carrying Frank Ifield’s When the angels ask
me to recall out across a calm, irredentist blackness.
…from The Year of Not Dancing (Blackstaff Press, 2009)
C.L. Dallat, poet, musician & critic, (b. Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, Ireland) lives in London where he reviews literature & the arts for the TLS & Guardian, has been a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s weekly Saturday Review since 1998, & is regular house-musician (piano, bandoneon, mandolin etc) at Coffee-House Poetry’s events in London’s famous Troubadour folk’n’poetry’n’jazz cellar-club (www.coffeehousepoetry.org). He won the Strokestown International Poetry Competition, & his latest collection is The Year of Not Dancing (Blackstaff Press, 2009). www.cahaldallat.com
Travelling early, we set out while it’s still dark.
At this unblessed hour, we should be wary
of the threat of footpads and of cut-throats,
but we are blithe with optimism, our surprising
sovereigns stinging in our pockets. Our burdens
are as insubstantial as the moon and already
last night has dwindled to a twist of wrinkled
bedclothes. How did we wake so promptly without alarm?
What witchery set us bolt upright in our beds?
Perhaps as the dawn begins to damage
the dark, one of our number will venture:
“Where was it that we were heading? Who has the map?”
Day scarifies the sky, polluting our clarity of purpose.
We will not answer the rank-breaker. We tear off
hunks of bread with hungry teeth. The light comes up
like sadness. We do not want to recognise ourselves
London-based poet Susannah Hart has attended Coffee-House Poetry’s Troubadour readings, classes & courses (www.coffeehousepoetry.org) for a number of years. Her work has been widely published in magazines, she was a prizewinner in the 2013 Poetry London competition, & she has had poems commended & shortlisted in several other competitions. Susannah works as a brand consultant & writer, & volunteers as a local school governor.
Poet Dominic Bury grew up in Bideford in Devon and now lives in London where he works as a copywriter & brand writer. In his spare time he manages front-of-house at Coffee-House Poetry nights at the famous Troubadour cellar-club in London’s Earls Court (www.coffeehousepoetry.org). Dom studied Creative Writing at Kingston University & his poems have been widely published in UK poetry journals including Poetry Wales, Ambit and Iota, and in Best British Poetry 2014 (Salt).
by Mona Arshi
Never marry an insomniac. You will have
________to mind yourself.
________________Have hem weights
________sewn into the lining of your garments,
cure your skin with almond oil until it’s bloated
________and the pores are brimming.
________________Purchase a large wooden-grained
________trunk and place it near your bed-it’s for
safekeepings. (Obscurely, somewhere deep inside you
________know all this).Very soon
________________you won’t be able to tell
________the days apart, you’ll develop a tic and it will
distill at the centre (within the hive of your other small
________________in mild wind and when you speak
________minute silver-fish consort in the pit of your throat.
Exquisite wife to the shade: the exact point you place
________your finger-tip on winter mornings,
________________a raindrop will later stop and fret.
________It’s a wonder if you survive at all.
It will all end in the mouth; you’ll blink-
________he’ll stir. You’ll practice lying very very still-
________(your talismans) will blink back in their jars.
…from Small Hands (Pavilion Press, 2014)
Mona Arshi has been a frequent audience-member & workshop-participant at London’s Troubadour poetry events (www.coffeehousepoetry.org). A prize winner in the 2013 Troubadour International Poetry Prize & joint winner of the Manchester Creative Writing poetry prize in 2014, her Forward-prize-winning debut collection Small Hands was published by Pavilion Poetry (Liverpool University Press). Mona lives in West London & worked as a human rights lawyer for a decade before studying Creative Writing at University of East Anglia. www.monaarshi.com