Poetry Showcase from S.C. Flynn

from pixabay


Sometimes the future’s flight is straight and smooth
like shining summer runways
but then it brings you way out here
where the ground is endless crust
that snaps underneath your feet
to free the thick black sludge that lurks below
and where the trees are pale dry prisoners
thrust deep in permanent winter,
their bony arms stretched wide in pleading
to whoever might have put them here.
Perhaps they come alive each night and clash -
giant skeletons under polished moon shield -
sharp cracking blows breaking a silence
that no one has ever heard
but then as dawn approaches they stiffen,
joints crunching as their backs grow rigid
and their hands lift once again in agony
as they stand to face the sun’s cruel gaze
like driftwood carved with strange inscriptions.

This is my forever world. I walk in,
crunching through the flat white sheet
to sink in the squelching dark below
so my footsteps stretch behind me
like black ink spattered on a page;
no wind will ever shift them,
so when one day you reach this place
you’ll know just what they mean.
I belong out here where nothing changes;
soon I’ll be just a dense heart of decay,
an elemental core of toxic life waste,
my attention span shrunk to a painful dot 
while random dreams circle round my head.
I take my place among the guilty naked;
my roots were poisoned long ago
and now my limbs can harden and set.

Uluru, central Australia, tomorrow night

The sky kite must be much the same
but looking up has changed;
war in space is the new theology.
Rocket junk floats like so many heresies
and orbiting communication links
have shouted down the angelic orders.
Any old poet who versed to paradise now
would have to dodge the pieces
and when they start shooting
each other's things down with missiles
we'll all end up in inferno.
Every species on earth
is a sacrificial victim
slowly bleeding to death
in the branches of this blurry tree.


I wander, a solitary forager
like Australia’s formidable Bull Ant,
a creature that refuses to abandon
existence no matter what it suffers,
but my mind keeps going back and forth,
asking if life is just a random line
on a map without scale or direction,
as the Royal Canal I’m following
passes from Meath to Kildare and back again.
Maybe these kinds of thoughts were useful once,
when contemplation could find solutions,
but now they are unnecessary tortures
that drive me on with ant-like stings and pincers
through Kildare to Meath and back again.   


I must have often walked on death unknowing,
but at Clontarf the mail coat presses my shoulders
as I wade ashore at dawn, spear and shield in hand.
Our fleet’s square sails flap behind me in the breeze
while the dragons’ eyes seek our enemy
and their little spears that swarm like flies.
By next high tide our leader will be king as promised
or the battle-watchers will have claimed us all;
the water leaves us no retreat, but none is wanted.
Today I weave a strand in history’s tapestry.

Biography: S.C. Flynn was born in Australia of Irish origin and now lives in Dublin. His poetry has been published in many magazines, including The Honest Ulsterman, Cyphers, Abridged and Orbis.

A Poetry Showcase from Oz Hardwick

from Pixabay

Care in the Community

Every morning I swallow the suspicious pill, vaguely aware of the effect but unsure of what’s inside. I trust the science I don’t understand, mistrust the conversations murmuring through the walls, and misquote song lyrics from my childhood. There’s a bathroom on the right, my ears are alight, and the elephants that gather here are taking up all the chairs and sofas, so I have to stand like a cartoon dunce in the corner to block out their trumpeting. I lower my invisible disability into an invisible wheelchair and push it away from the noise and into the sunlight, but soon we’re at a cliff edge. In the middle distance, an elephant in a pink-striped Edwardian bathing costume pilots a skiff towards the shore. Another, snug in Biggles rig, parachutes from a swallow-bustling sky. A third, in a white coat, a stethoscope dangling round her concrete slab of a neck, gently takes my elbow to coax me home. 


Borrowed bodies never fit correctly but sometimes they’re all that’s available and I have to get out to the city. Library shelves are as empty as supermarkets, as empty as dropped plant pots, as empty as promises to “level up,” and as empty as a school hall after the news has broken. My legs are loose and my forehead pinches beneath unfamiliar ideologies that I don’t want to interrogate too closely: impermeable borders, double-glazed ceilings, promises that ring like threats or reception bells in flooded hotels. Borrowed hands make light work onerous and render heavy work impractical to the point of obsolescence. If this body was my own, I’d take it to the river and teach it to swim; I’d take it to the top of the clock tower and teach it to fly; I’d take it home and hold my mother’s hand again, but it’s already overdue and the fines are racking up like kerbside flowers.

Touching Base

In the neutral space of offices, facades drop, and here we’re back to our real selves, as we were before we filled in the forms and gave away our options. Online security is an oxymoron, so the walls are lined with grey cabinets stuffed with buff card files full of the usual records: handwritten notes, swimming certificates, birthday cards and receipts from chain restaurants. There’s always the risk of espionage or fire – accident or arson – but it’s a risk we choose to accept. We exchange medical reports, and although there’s nothing we didn’t know, the enumeration of facts and observations is reassuring. Likewise, we swap the letters and confessions that we’d kept to ourselves, setting them out like china dogs on a cottage windowsill. We are here to talk about sustainability, incentivisation, and taking things forward, and there’s a spectrum of coloured forms to be completed and signed off, but first we’d better file ourselves away: you under F for forgetting; me under water for an unstable future.

The Price of Everything

Inch by inch, the sky lifts into light, letting the beasts and birdsong back into the day’s equation. I’d love to be wild and devil-may-care, but I’m the kind of person who draws round the edge of my face in the shaving mirror so I’m sure I’m not an imposter the next time I wake up. It’s full light and the fauna of the flatlands are queueing for handouts at the kitchen window, tongues a-lolling and expecting scraps. I appreciate their commitment to routine and I tear up crusts and banknotes to feed their hunger and curiosity. Along with the light of the morning Sun, this predictable act should surely be sufficient for all of us; but there are accountants in the bedroom, in the bathroom, and in every email that chokes my inbox, insisting that everything is reduced to arbitrary numbers and invisible transactions. I tell them about a big, black wall with flashing figures, more than a million detuned radios, and the endless earthquake that derails the underground train of my logical thought. I gesture to the glutted world as it drifts away across a lawn which is growing mountains. They demand whole numbers, demand to see my workings-out, and demand an abstract of my conceptual underpinnings. I gesture to birdsong, the back window, and the broken bathroom mirror with its sharp and seductive edges.

Homemaking for the Apocalypse

Fires in the north, ice in the south, and we’re plum centre, squeezing our little bits of earth into comforting shapes. You make a house with a white – no, blue – door and frosted – no, clear – windows, and a dream kitchen in which you stew visions down to juice and steam. It has a dishwasher full of broken crockery and freezer stacked with animals hacked beyond easy recognition. Its buzz and chatter eases you into sleep at night, where you dream of plush hotel rooms in city after city, country after country, each one sealed from the outside world as you drink green tea and watch the BBC. There’s no place for me in house or hotel, so I roll a clay balloon which, though heavy and slightly misshapen, rises, graceful as a ghost, and drifts over fire and ice. My perfect kitchen is one I’ll never visit, and just look – look – at this beautiful, broken world.

Bio: Oz Hardwick is a European poet and dabbler in diverse arts, who has been published, performed, and held residencies in the UK, Europe, the USA, and Australia. He has recently released the album Paradox Paradigm with international space rock collective Space Druids, is the main photographic contributor to Martin Popoff's Hawkwind: A Visual Biography (Wymer, 2022), and is co-editor with Anne Caldwell of Prose Poetry in Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2022). His eleventh collection, A Census of Preconceptions, will be published by SurVision Books in late 2022. Oz is Professor of Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University (UK).