Diamond Twig Poem of the Month

Each month I will feature a poem on this page – from new and established writers, carrying on the tradition from the Diamond Twig website – you can read some from the archive here Diamond Twig Press

August Poem of the Month

Bones

We follow a trampled trail
through long grass,
pass an upturned boat,
mackerel sleek.
Single file, sliding between 
sand dunes, till we reach 
the edge of the beach.
Stumble across 
parts of a skeleton
wrapped in a seaweed shawl,
the flipper of a seal,
its long nails look human, 
a Halloween prop.
More parts lie scattered,
a jigsaw,
vertebrae, ribcage, lower jaw.
Animal tracks surround it,
webbed impressions of gulls,
paw prints of dogs, 
mix with our own.
We are reverent, 
look towards the faraway sea,
our shadows spread 
around the scene,
like gravestones. 

Josephine Scott was born in Northumberland and spent her childhood in Australia.  She has two poetry collections; Sparkle and Dance (2009) and Rituals (2014) published by Red Squirrel Press, with a third to be published in 2020.  Poems have appeared in various anthologies and magazines.

July Poem of the Month

Pebble 
I stole a pebble from the Moyle shore.
Its smooth white coldness  
held the slap of waves in Rathlin Sound,
sunset flooding Sheep Island,
the fish and diesel reek of Ballintoy.

My palm sheathed it like a bean pod; 
I wondered if it might have fit 
my grandmother’s hand as closely.
One airless night
I pressed its coolness to my face,
woke to feel it dig into my neck,
its chalk edge as hard as bone.

Eileen Jones lives in Tynedale and is a member of the Newcastle based women’s writing group, Carte Blanche. A pamphlet of her poems, Connecting Flight, was published by Red Squirrel Press in 2013, and a collection of her poems, The Pale Handbag of the Apocalypse was published by IRON Press in 2014. She is the editor and co-editor of several IRON Press anthologies, including an anthology of tree themed poetry due to be published later this year.

Pebble was inspired by a visit some years ago to the North Antrim coast where her maternal grandmother, who died twenty years before Eileen was born, spent her childhood.

It’s a beautiful area with wonderful geology (including the Giant’s Causeway), bird life and wild flowers. It’s recently become more widely known and visited since the fishing village of Ballintoy and other nearby locations featured in episodes of Game of Thrones.

Thoughts of the Day
while viewing old films: The Flaw, The Boys

My sister’s first job as a window dresser 
in Evans the Outsize Shop. Pinning clothes
for big women on slim mannequins.
The only girl I knew back then, allowed 
trousers at work. Black slacks to be exact. 
The stretchy sort, with stirrups underfoot. 

After school I would sometimes take the bus
to town, look proudly through the glass,
admire her glamorous achievements.
If visible she might deign to smile and wave
or mouth go away and turn up her nose. 
Either way, I was greatly inspired. Spurred.

I see this now through a gap 
of fifty minute human years.
Wonder, as I put my shiny face up
to the polished glass, where rifts start,
when the first cracks began to split blood, 
get to work, gather puff. No one much noticing. 

Kathleen Kenny is a Geordie poet and novelist with an Irish family background. She has so far published two novels: The Satellites of Jupiter and Arandora Star (both with Red Squirrel Press), and has a thirdwaiting to make an appearance. She also has several published poetry collections including Sex & Death (Diamond Twig); Hole (Smokestack Books); and most recently The Bedsharers (Red Squirrel Press). When not busily engaged with her own writing she teaches creative writing to adults, often working in the lovely Lit & Phil Library in Newcastle.

In the Hallway with Sally
                                     
Do you know
how to open this front door?
I only live along the road with mother.
They must think I’m stupid.
They keep telling me she’s dead
but mother, well,
she’s waiting for me
just along the road at home.
They won’t let me out.

They won’t  let me out.
Just along the road at home
she’s waiting for me
but  mother, well,
they keep telling me she’s dead.
They must think I’m stupid.
I only live along the road with mother.
How to open this front door 
– do you know?

Joan Johnston has worked as a writer in prisons, schools, hospitals and day centres and with women’s groups and the homeless. She has also taught creative writing in Adult Education and currently runs writing workshops on a freelance basis. She has published three poetry pamphlets and three collections – this poem is from her most recent pamphlet (An Overtaking, pub. Red Squirrel Press 2016) and was written while she was a writer with elderly people in residential care.

April Poem

Advice for my Daughters

Don’t believe the first things,
don’t believe the last things,
believe what you see.

Don’t sit too close to drains
or spend too long at a stove.
Always know where the exit is.

Don’t store too much.
Know what to give away.
Hold as much as you can carry.

If you have children give them magic,
soft songs, a coin under a pillow,
but don’t give them everything.

Sleep in good linen, enjoy the smell of lemon,
breathe deeply, dream deeply,
if you don’t know what to do, do something.

Don’t diet, or be a martyr.
Life is suffering, but you are lucky
so you might as well be happy.


Julia Darling 
from Indelible, Miraculous, Arc publications

March Poem

Going to the Pictures with Cliff Richard

First film I ever saw. I was nine, and had been 
Envious for ages, hearing others talk of 
Usherettes, the ABC Minors, ice cream tubs 
With wooden spoons. At last, Mam took us 
To the Coliseum Whitley Bay, pitch dark inside
In daytime, prickly seats, to ‘Summer Holiday’.


Cliff sang on a double-decker bus abroad 
In dazzling colours after television’s greys.
Dolly Mixture-pretty frocks, summery shirts, 
The boys and girls looked very neat and clean
Although there were no grown-ups there. This
May be why my mother found it ‘suitable’
Even for my brother, who was younger (so unfair.)


She used to tell us there were some poor children
Whose mams and dads would ‘get rid of them’ by
‘Sending them to the Pictures with half a crown
For sweets’ instead of giving them their time 
And love. Well-supplied with both, now even more
I secretly yearned for some Technicolour neglect.

Valerie Laws
Valerie is a poet, crime novelist, playwright, science-poetry installation
artist often working with pathologists and neuroscientists,
and a mathematician/physicist.
Her thirteen books include four poetry collections.
World-infamous for spray-painting poetry on sheep.
valerielaws.com 



Sylvia

I wandered lonely as a 1lb of potatoes, 2lbs onions, sprouts, bread,

My love is like a red, red rose, and don’t forget

Phone School, cancel milk Friday, write – Susan

Send dad’s birthday card

To be or not to be

collecting kids from school today and

remember John to dentist 5.00

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

Sylvia 221 2341

dentist 273 6617

Sylvia 9.30 Dog and Parrot

Who is Sylvia? what is she…?

J.Smith, John Smith, John H. Smith, John Harold Smith,

Hi, JH here…

John, have you been using my writing pad again?

Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble

Onions, sprouts and kids from school

Onions, sprouts, kids from school

Silver dentist, dog and parrot,

write milk, cancel carrot,

kids from school and birthday card

Tell me, why is writing hard?

Ellen Phethean