Coven – with wine

They jump into your chaos

By the dense mesh your cage

Of invisible barbs presents;

Built through years of to and fro,

Up and down against

The same cold fence.

Pushed on again

And always again

By that needle voice

Shaped of myelin and synapse,

Amplified by experience

On repeat.

‘Walkies!’ it cries and back you went,

Pavlovian, obedient,

To dangled collar and lead

Gathering more spurs to weave

Your own briar thicket.

No faerie curse is here princess,

You’re your own cruel gaoler,

Architect of mess.

But they come on crooked wings-

Tattered feathers stained

By blood and wine and pain-

Stronger for beating against

The rules they give the bird to.

Battle-drunk they come, striding through

The tangles in which princes flounder.

And laughter, the defiant screech

Of fearsome ravens, furious owls,

Fills and warms the dusty halls

Of your imprisoned heart.

~Polly Oliver (2017)

Wasps’ Nest

The thickened fury of their row still clung

in patches to the skirts of the house;

Scorch-smelling clumps that made it slump

and sag between spruce, clean-gabled neighbours.

The afternoon hummed with heat. Her head buzzed 

with the residue of frustrated tears:

The sting at the tail end of love.

Clustering clouds closed the blue-arcing window

to space, and under the pressure-cooker sky

the buzzing grew. It’s source no longer inside

her skull but pestering round the back door.

And helicoptering low to the leathered mouth 

of a cobwebby, season-weathered boot- 

her obscene abdomen a tiger-striped teardrop

dripping pheromones- the queen could be seen!

Primed by Nature’s alarm colour-scheme,

the yellow and black stung her out of ennui

into a warrior- like domesticity.

Too close to the house! We must get them out!

Wide-eyed guard to the door of their den,

she watched keen as a meerkat as he flung 

the shabby old shoe with its small, balled colony 

to the distant margins of the garden. 

For a time a few workers who missed the eviction 

searched confusedly the vicinity of home;

disorientated by disaster unwitnessed. 

Permanently adrift from the vanished.

They watched the display of displacement play out

In the curl-stomached silence of the culpable.

And the age-trodden boot lay for weeks in the weeds

With its papery clutch of tiny empty rooms.

Albatross (Alcyone) by Amanda Needham

This poem was written by my friend and seriously talented poet Amanda Needham. Her work resonates with myth and magic shot through with the visceral and bloody. Emotion seethes, past, present, real and imagined churn. I would love her to publish a collection. Hope you enjoy this little insight.

Polly x

They always told me I was a harbinger.

Vikings would quake at the sight of me

with my nine-foot wingspan

and storm clouds that followed on my feathered gown.

Your name was false (King of the Oyster Thieves)

and when the sky darkened we came clean.

It was me you begged with hands full of sea grass,

to build you a shelter. Sea oak is not suitable

to bear the load of our home,

the selkies could then take us in the night,

tearing down our wall with their heavily-boned fins.

Or me, with my talons may wake

to find you a mess of blood and seaweed-

wings so sharp they may cut out your heart

and flood our house.

Do not love me, I don’t protect anything.

I only bring bad tidings

(on the tide).

I’ll just take flight and reign down

while you on your barnacle throne

can safely surface so often,

and welcome the storm.

~Amanda Needham 2017



Snap, crackle, pop.

Little white pill comes round and ready

Like a new day

From its crisp plastic cell.

Nestles in the valleys and folds

Of my unsteady palm,

Snow-white, morning-bright,

And detergent-clean- so to work

Neutralising the smudges

On a sullied personality

that stays a stubborn grey

Through countless turns of the machine

And spells on the line on sunlit days.

Always the dank dish rag that dulls

The fresh perfection of whites

And pastel brights

Waving in formation to the rhythm

Of a cheery breeze.

I peer into the clear water

And the clean glass

as if to see the future.

Then it’s down the hatch

To where the stones sit in the dark.
~Polly Oliver (2017)


Here the secretive tide laps at banks

Quiet as centuries and wrapped

In twisted mesh of ancient oak limbs;

Twig fingers scraping molecule-thin skin

Of the cool green-blue world that slides

In primal silence below a mirrored sky.

And here in a spring in slackened time

A thousand golden eyes of celandine

Watch impassive the woman who dreams

In bluebell-hazed shade of heart-break green

Of youth and love and the roll of years

That turned a girl’s sunlight to shade and tears.

~Polly Oliver (2017)

Point of Eden

A visceral look at modern urban poverty – with more than an echo of Dickens’ London.

Lance Sheridan

Enter the cold no ones land of alone
A void stamped out with the aftertaste
of a funeral
Where a pulse rising from the grip of a knife
utters a name
Where the waking from a six o’clock
alarm clock is
rubbished into a draggled alley.

Of broken lives and sweaty faces contorting
like fingers on
a twisted sheet in a bad dream
Where a landlord dwindles back rent into a dirty
laundry bag
Trailing his four letter words through dim light
and sickly coughs-
Upraises a finger like a joint between two worlds.

A ghetto by the tracks where death, on pin-legs,
sentries, his utterances
Ungodly like a wakened head; chattering train
with white noses exhaling
Down into the gizzard of the city’s guts-
point of Eden
Render no share to those thick in poverty, to
those who lose by merely waking up.

Copyright © 03/22/17 lance sheridan®


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