Monday, 30 September 2013

Two Poems by Roberta James

The solace of java

He winks, exudes a ‘look look’ look you see shimmer
from a distance as you focus on the blackboard’s chalk offer,
a brand new blend of coffee that will take you to far places, 
a hand-made cake of spelt crusted with a coat of sugared cranberries
that promises a whole mouthfulness of taste from alpha to omega.  
You view the woman by him bask in his hot gaze, her mouth a volcano, 
until a gloss of sweat begins to round her face to moonshine.
His untwinkling eye catches your quickly - too-slow - hidden wish 

to explore.  He’s seen it all before.  He dims himself. That switch 
brings you down to earth with a hurt tangs copper in your mouth. 
So you break a hunk of crumble crust that dapples your buds, 
then dip into coffee depths until under its waterfall rush 
you loop up the foam to smooth it on your gums as balm, 
heal tender hidden skin, thin coverings sinewing the bones.

Sibling songs

She loads her spoon with scooped-out last remaining licks
and twirls away her haul.  He stamps his feet to her resounding beat 
while carrying the whisk that’s coated with caul-thin mix 
that’s left from the bowl.  For one and two and round the room, 
then three and four to close the door, she lifts her spoon baton so high 
then whirls and swoops in loops to one and two now sit on the floor 
for three then four eat up some more.  The rough side of her tongue 
absorbs the mixture thick and sugar-grit, raw, for one then two I want to sing 
so three then four don’t join in.  
                                                   He claps his hands to an arc cymbal-banging big, 
rolls away.  Lays on his back for a while to stare at the ceiling that is the colour of
old egg yolk, wonders what sound cake makes when it cooks if you are quiet enough
to catch it macaroon crisp marzipan sticks render and miss sticky bits miss,
gooey bits fizz swish boing and burst until the smell of hot sponge stops him.
She turns to stare at the oven window as he stands up, her face hollowing. 
She has seen the rising, the split down the middle.

Roberta James earns a crust working freelance in London in the creative industries, and thinks she may live where she does because it is within walking distance of a great bakers.

Hollywood by JT Welsch

Our Hollywood baker returns to England,
a fall like his weaker contestants’ bread.
Every day, another headline to share
with comment: team him or team
poor wife whose pain we share
since her – our – betrayal.

No one sees his lonesomeness
in the return to mere couplehood—
to no longer sweep the room, hands on hips,
and know: but I am more than this!
—the errant heart still leaping
if she touches your phone.

It’s the thing no contestant
dares admit: love is risk.
May the game reveal my recipe to me
in every heightened peccadillo: So, you say,
muting the replay. That’s how I look not
bullshitting. You take notes.

JT Welsch is the author of three chapbooks, the most recent of which is 'Waterloo' (Like This Press, 2012). He is also a lecturer at York St John University.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Easy Cakes of Ottolenghi by Jacqueline Saphra

In his salad days of skins and caves, man
gave chase. He slaughtered buck, swallowed
the heart. He knew adrenaline, hauled woman

after woman by the hair. That’s all gone.
Now there’s money and a new ache every day,
sags in unexpected places, a loss of collagen

and desire. Hunger’s always knocking
at the edges, just the tongue that’s jaded.
The waitress who’s an actress resting

crouches by the table: Sorrel sir, or salsify?
The soft salt melt of sea-bream, halibut,
a thrill of salsa, quince and pomegranate.

Then dessert: the easy cakes of Ottolenghi
drip their syrups, glisten in the night, secrete
fresh tones of apple, grenadilla, rose.

Jacqueline Saphra’s first full collection, The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye) was developed with the support of Arts Council England and nominated for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

On Typing Paper Stolen From Her Employers She Proceeds To Evolve A Campaign by Amy Key

A feeling that I should be writing a diary,
but every thought feels like an abomination. Like: drunk desire,
or cling-film bed sheets. My old diaries
bring on a feeling like feeling uncertain in someone’s embrace.
How I lacked ingenious neuroses!
Meanwhile, I am in love with blondes
in the newest way passion can exert itself. But,
it was blondes who I first edged my knee towards,
some hours before intolerable kisses.
Lips I’ve kissed crumble like meringue.
Hopes should recede with age, but this isn’t
a right-seeming present!
Mainly, I sat with the expectant feeling
of a passenger, for minutes and streets away
other things were possible. Sleep, a means of lace-edging days.
I could mock all my past’s authentic woes
and the character I sketched out for a novel
that might be me: “23 years old, no imagination”.
Surely I should be listening to other songs by now.
My imagined future is a collapsed soufflĂ©.

Amy Key co-edits the online journal Poems in Which. Her debut collection Luxe is forthcoming from Salt. Hers is a salted caramel macaron.