You tell us about this little boy
who didn’t know how to play
he said he couldn’t draw with crayons
all he did was go down the shops,
his star burned briefly at the play centre.
It’s sad, you say, he’ll be in a
Young Offenders Institution by now
he didn’t stand a chance.
Beneath the collective heartfelt sigh
of well-intentioned slander
I’m with him in the ring again
prize boxer, racing jockey, dead soldier:
my foster brother, sentenced to no fixed abode
sticking out his thumb on that wasted forest road.
The Hungry Skin
last year’s skin
the one bruised by
this skin has space
digits ready to
this new skin doesn’t care
what they think
it’s a reclaimed skin
just happy to
be worn with
on my back
The other end of the line.
I mean my job is now
inputting dead people into spreadsheets
and taking calls.
I got speaking to an old man.
He keeps phoning to pay his bill.
I have to tell him, you canceled the service
a long time ago Mr —.
You have nothing to owe us.
He still hangs on to talk,
tells me I should ask for a rise
or come to County Cork for a coffee sometime.
Next winter. I laugh.
That’ll do fine.
It’s been snowing for weeks and he isn’t sure if his landline is working
so he wanted to check.
Can’t you hear that awful buzzing?
I hope they fix it soon, I say.
God willing, he says.
As we are closer to death now
I fill my cup with iced tea.
Your fables tricked my mind
Heart felt too tight.
The ghosting stories were atrocities
That I escaped just in time
On paper, I sprinted with signature
(I loved the definite sound the pen made)
On street, boarded the last train to nature.
I wished we stitched loosened threads
Weaved dreams due their time.
But you wanted the world
And I could only offer you my light.
About the contributors
Rosalie Alston has poems in Spelt magazine, Black Lives Matter: Poems for a New World , Voices Along the Road for child refugees, and in adoption anthologies. Online, her poems are published by Dust, the Poetry Village, Poetry Kit and PoetryandCovid. Her poem ‘Moving foster home again, yet I am not dead’ was Highly Commended in the Poetry Space Competition 2020.
Alice Eaves is a British artist & writer based in Manchester, United Kingdom. Her work predominantly focuses on the intersections of femininity and the modern world.
Abby Crawford is a writer and poet based in Exeter.
Bhumika Popli is a poet and student at the University of Exeter pursuing MA in English Literary Studies. She has been an arts, culture and travel journalist and has written for international publications such as The Caravan, Wire, Aksgar and lensculture among others. Her poem, ‘Pandemic, a beauty’ was listed as commendable mention in Wingword Poetry Prize 2020. Previously, she has worked as a researcher for non-fiction books alongside a poetry reader for the African magazine ‘Akuko’. She works as a freelance copyeditor for publishing houses such as Penguin Random House.