“Romano” published by Flashes of Brilliance USA / excerpt from my (author’s) stage-play monologue, Almost Face to Face published by Australian Plays Transform
“salvation” published by Global Poemic / experimental-experimental-literature USA
“anything” published by Literary Garland India
Romano is below the room
at the doorway
propped up under the pink light
and top button of his low-slung jeans undone
a young businessman is cruising him
from his slick sports car
Romano is whoring
out of habit
out of need
out of anger at me
i’ve seen him in this stance so many times
this morning it makes me sick
his semi nakedness on the dirty curb
dragging me back to my own young life
we stare at each other
in stark knowing amphetamine silence
i turn away from him and go upstairs
Romano leaves his trick and follows me
murmuring in his stupid language
musty street smell mixed with expensive cologne
breath on my neck
exciting and disgusting at the same time
words rasping out a familiar desperate song
we both sing so well
i don’t stop and turn back
i look away from his deep dark eyes
take my bag and grubby money
and go back down the narrow wooden staircase
Romano calls to me
something about love
i keep moving
away from him
and that part of me
towards i don’t know where
hopeful genius dirty collar
situation wonder claiming
biting pencil scratching guess
crossword puzzle giving answers
chewing gum tied back hair
fiddle greasy grey pot smoking
is anyone granting wish on hope
be it lost or found in this
pink-lipped mummies designer gym suits
platform sneakers outing granted
selfie shots gossip babble
murmur giggle text on phone
takeaway coffee gripping sipping
keeping fast step separate pacing
walk hard team power beauty temple
pouting flee delivers health
deal constructed business suits
let’s go hey mate cool in awesome
check out new porn up online
no lunch spot sit down here allowed
in shut down mode pull compensation
feel strange new life in whine
did you see gay dude look at you
paranoia sings fear gamble
and them dot tightly small group thrice
on well-mowed lawn hedge square
as kids run shouting cake shop gifting
waiting birds squawk hopeful scrap
day party happen easy rules
social distance not held why
new work style no job or school
manipulation welfare scandal
and me alone same time day night
no change i still cruise wander
a swim they say no too cold bloke
gape smile back on chat concern
in plunge to sea remind my real
salvation claim i scribe own journey
pack my bag when restricting travel lifts
gain back my queer life amble
nobody told me
wilting flowers in a grubby vase
makes me sigh and wonder why i am alive
(and sometimes get distressed depending on the flowers)
an old man scratching an old dog’s back
reminds me of walking along a bleak empty road
(especially if the dog arches and the man whistles)
dead fish floating in a remote country creek
is enough of a reason to howl to the sky
(and go back to the creek again to see if the fish are gone)
the neighbour’s threadbare mauve dressing gown
sends me inside my house with tears in my eyes
(and throw away two t shirts and a pair of maroon socks)
the laughing couple next to me on the crowded bus
results in me becoming nauseous and sad at the same time
(because the laughs are not real and i know that)
a table of women talking over each other
brings on suicidal thoughts i haven’t had in ages
(but encourages me to escape the babble by leaving the café)
not looking at my phone for three days
means the same as climbing a cold silent mountain
(realizing determination offers a blend of reward and anxiety)
the crying man reading text messages
forces me to try to catch his eye to offer a smile
(of heartfelt empathy for i know exactly how he is feeling)
nobody told me anything
(i should know)
Stephen House has won many awards and nominations as a poet, playwright and actor. He has had 20 plays produced; many commissioned. He’s received international literature residencies from The Australia Council and Asialink. His chapbook “real and unreal” was published by ICOE Press. His next book is out soon. His poetry is published often and he performs his acclaimed monologues widely
Wolfpack Contributor: Stephen House5 Poem Poetry Showcase from Stephen House
Understanding Ghosts(i.m. GWJ 22/10/1954 – 09/09/14)
Hold your head up; you’ve got a pretty face
Yours: reddened by alcohol in your belly.
You’ve just jolted me from my memory
of a novelist telling me I shouldn’t hide trace
of a published poem just because the period
was for stories. He thought evil lacked lustre,
wanted to look at the person who saw ogres,
even if told in the form of a ballad.
I thought he could see my ghosts, the crippling
self-doubt. His gruff impatience was saved
for those who were lazy, unimpeded.
He knew some writers needed nurturing.
I’m weighed with the loss of a talent
you will not stain by your ugly intent.
The Colours of a Panther
"I saw a black panther," a voice on the radio.
A so-called expert repeats it. I change stations.
What other colour would a panther be?
Harborough's countryside is hedged green fields.
The shadows merge into significance.
The radio is now off. I wanted the throb
of a cello undercut with yearning, not commercial pop.
Cats are adaptable and secretive,
content in their own company and a patch of sun.
Easy to let my imagination run with the suggestion.
I pull into town, run errands, until I'm caught.
It should be a simple decision: a pizza.
There's your favourite, but I want my choice
if only I knew what that was. A man, who doesn't
look like you, stares. I'm his way. I grab,
stumble to the checkout and pay, slump into my car,
hands, clumsy with keys, paw at the wheel.
Black is never just black. I don't remember
my drive home, only that I was alone.
I discover the pizza I snatched wasn't
your favourite as I put it in the oven.
There's a shadow where you used to stand.
A smear like silky fur on my cheek.
My heart feels as if it's been clawed.
Maybe panthers don't just come in black.
A smudge of cinders
My teacher looked at me as if breezeblock
wasn't a word she knew.
I had pushed my sock down.
It was itching the scabs on my leg.
A breezeblock had fallen
from the stack in the yard.
I splashed cold water on my scraped skin.
My mother said to leave it.
My teacher asked if I'd seen a doctor.
I frowned. We weren't to bother him.
My teacher held her pendant
and ran it back and forth along its chain.
I wanted to wet a paper towel
and dab it to cool the cuts,
but I'd been taught not
to interrupt an adult's thinking.
I pushed the other sock down so it matched.
My teacher seemed to have forgotten me.
I crossed my fingers that she wouldn't
speak to my mother.
I was supposed to keep my cuts hidden
by pulling my socks up.
Poem: Tracing a Love Song by Emma Lee
Catharsisoriginally published inRhythm n Bones Lit. Issue 6 Love
There is a portion of your lips/ where I bury my soul
when you kiss me. It is made of honey/ and the taste of love.
There is a portion of your heart / that guides me into songs and dance -
A path to voices / that have hidden in my throat.
I remember the day / you held my hands
Beside me a dying candle and said my name / in whispers and out loud
And I felt in my bones / come to life as they heard / a voice
that sprouts flowers in hearts of stone.
I remember Sam Smith begging you to stay with me
That day the clouds lifted / you to a bluer nowhere.
I remember how my tears / rained, raved and railed
Who will water my dry / bones devoid of song?
The day your feet ventured beyond our nirvana
I took a pen and wrote / your name down and saw how it
broke the paper into stories, smiles and sweetness.
There is a portion of my mind / where I go to weep
in sad moans. It is made of songs
Bio: Salam Wosu, a poet and apiring novelist, is a Chemical engineer from Nigeria. His works interrogates grief, depression, love, antichauvinism and sexuality. He was shortlisted for the Korean Nigerian Poetry Fiesta award 2017 & 2019. His works can be found in Glass Poetry Press, Kissing Dynamite, Dream Noir, PIN, RIC journal and Mounting the Moon (anthology of queer Nigerian poems). He is @salam_wosu on all platforms.
My feet wear odd socks today, one of yours,
One of mine, see how well they go together.
Apologies, I’ve come to your funeral late,
Dressed oddly and for a night on the town.
A pint of foaming seawater with Malcolm Mooney,
Lent out, for a short while, to fast from death and form
A lasting impression. Together
We can moon over whatever midnight moonlit furry
Queens and meropian mermaidens have set aside their fish
Tails and crowns to land in this dive and prop up the bar.
Chat them up with old jokes and new famous phrases;
A dead man makes a fine wingman.
Hungover, next morning,
Still hanging on, at the very end of the land,
I go dayfishing.
I go dayfishing, and the ghosts come at night.
And by day I dream
I dream you’ll wash up upon the shore, in alien
Whiteness, like some deep sea creature.
But I know, Sydney, you’re on the other side of earth.
There is distance
Like the hard space between
Pen and paper.
I linger by the swept shoreline and seven seas,
Unready for the Eighth Journey you go on.
The voice breaks
The still winter seas crack
I hear you
Capped beneath blue braes.
I wear seaweeds and nakedness;
I fold your flotsam into me, like ocean floated origami.
I drink my own salt tears.
Mooney guides the tide in.
Damp letters wash up next to my bare feet.
The waves have taken their words, but I will be
Careful not to tread on them.
Ode to Apollo 11first published in The Seventh Quarry
‘We listen here on earth’
– John Keats, Ode to Apollo
Apollo, you give breath to poets,
And need none yourself;
Far above us, you swallow black.
You fire the arrow made of men and steel and challenge.
Ten times you have drawn the billion dollar bow
And learned from your misses, your Houstonian problems,
That the widows of your flyts burden your godhead.
You dip your arrows in flames and thunder.
As he rose his new-forged armour shone
And dimmed the light of hot Hyperion.
A splash of adamantine shuttle and white starlight
Against the black,
Like an inverted printed page.
Today, you are lighter than ink, and tree skin;
Lighter than breath.
Today, you live in the mouth of your priest.
He has a white body, and a black face;
In his visor’s reflection trace the expectant eyes
Of an entire race.
He walks the silver sickle shape,
Reaps the feast of virgin dust and starlight;
Speaks the words the world remembers.
He touches the goddess’s skin.
It is dry and wisps away at his step.
Poets’ god, you create new worlds,
Walk the dead orb magnificent in desolation.
Apollo, god of poetry, prophecy and moonboots.
I Haunt You Back (A Prose Poem Book Review of Surge by Jay Bernard)This poem first was published as one of the winners of the Shortlist Book Review Competition 2020, held in celebration of the Dylan Thomas Prize by Swansea University. It also was part of a sample of prose poem reviews that was commended in the National Centre for Writing’s UEA New Forms Award 2021.
Clad in two tragedies / the red tongues squirm / to unobscure the voices crossed out at New Cross / to catch and green and dress / the words fallen / from Grenfell heights. / Bernard has sifted through the soot and looted the guilty words / etched in black burn marks – Mark! / The poet comes not with the first responders / feet walk slowly with the burden / of rhyme and trepidation and care / not to disturb the crisp bodies / like Orpheus on a day trip to Pompeii / here to make the stone souls speak. / – Hear! / A new poet has erupted onto the scene / (of the investigation) / these poems are the smoke that spills / from the cleft mountain lip.
Inhale the sweet smell of meat / breathe out the sweet sixteen fourteen / the dead languages learned. / They haunt you / you haunt me / I haunt / until we have a legion of ghost children / flyting down Fleet Street / in sheets / that ripple like clear pools disturbed by dreams.
Nine Spilt Yolksfirst published in Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal
‘From the speckled hen nine eggs I stole,’
– Dora Sigerson Shorter, The Fairy Changeling
Something I’ll never know
Was stolen right out from under my tongue.
And in its place I unfurled
A soggy paper fairy child.
Some scrap of fallen faerie wisdom
That babbles like a baby, pretending to be a man,
Or a brook, pretending to be a steaming pot,
Growing hot upon the hearth.
Your infant call keeps me awake all night.
I swaddle you in white robes, share in the second sight
Of your apposition eyes. Sometimes, I ignore your bawling,
Roll over, rest and regret the blank page come morning,
When I can no longer see by day’s decaying light
Whatever strange and sickle shape you held.
Other times, the gift is just a goblin
Gobbledegook trick. You laugh and leave me
A hex: untranslatable fayerye talk
Hoaxed on browning leaves,
Curling, like a monument to burnt parchment.
Sometimes, I scrub the muck off of you
And you disintegrate
In the bathtub
As if I’d boiled you with the eggshells.
When the dirty tub water transforms into a Naiad’s laughter,
It’s easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
You’re lucky you weren’t born in a grimmer wooded age,
When witches and woodcutters wandered
The swallowed, beaten, breadcrumb path;
When some rustic rhymer would have gathered
Logs, and courage, and poverty’s hungry unnamed
Necessity – and thrown you into the flames.
Now, more likely,
A wastepaper basket –
Squash you up squirming
And still shrill jabbering
With my other aborted litter.
Next day, lift you out,
Uncrease your little wrinkled body,
Hold you up to my loving breast
And interrogating eyes.
Infant migrant of Tuatha Dé Danann,
The girlish boyish wailing go-between,
The child of two worlds.
Sum of all my days, I waste before
Your unending appetite for my life,
My thoughts, my loves, my dreams.
Sometimes I wear the seams inside
Out so you can’t get to me
With your suckling screams.
Your pudgy pixie hands have an iron grip,
But I know you fear the cut of iron scissors
And judicious editors.
Even the word does not stay still.
Fairye, let me hear
The fluid and formal first words that every mother dreads,
But every poet longs to hear, the child’s laugh and ancient cheer,
For novelty new born upon the earth, brewed and boiled
In the grail of an eggshell cup:
“I am as ancient as all the woods of the west,
And all the painted paper in which I am dressed,
But never have I seen or been such a thing before,
Though my lean tongue is tired and my hard heels sore.”
Your feet tread on eggshells; their crack is your speech.
Sometimes, I hear
Far away, and half forgotten,
The music of a humdrum child kept
Beneath a pillared and rising hill.
On the shadowed side of some fayre Sidhe,
A tithe to hell traded for a leaf of laurel lay
Teethes in an inferno’s maw.
I know we’re not supposed to have favourites, but
I love you more than any weak, wan, womb-born whelp.
You wear thin; you wear thin pale eggshell skin,
A hefty egg-shaped head, and speckled spriggan skin.
I clothe you in my own flesh;
A babygrow for a baby that will never grow.
I have a father’s torn beard, and a mother’s suckled breast,
And the papers hate a single parent best.
When I’ve tossed you into the fires
A little yellow head surfaces, burbles, pops up
From a sizzling egg yolk.
Julebukkingfirst published in The London Magazine
It must terrify you, that words said in a certain way
Can tear you from your house.
Come and wear goatskin with me.
Step with me on the scattered snowflakes;
Pentagram shapes weigh down the white world tonight.
Hooves leave a hard imprint, a dark wet mark.
Hoof-clop like the noise your tongue makes
When it leaves the roof of your mouth.
I leave a goat’s head on your porch
Next to the old broom and car windshield scraper.
The Rite of Winter (A Sequel to Le Sacre du Printemps)first published in The Seventh Quarry
Part I: The Kiss of the Earth is Rough and Stubbly
After the ritual, the girl claws her way out;
The dead earth crowns.
Her plaited hair tethers her to the split soil
Like some vast umbilical. Snaps with a brace of ice.
Her bones are twisted wire, barbed,
They tug against her skin, compressed,
They coil into
Riotous clouds drop torn up notes, scatter snowflakes,
To weigh down the world with pentagram shapes. Her feet are light.
Her feet are bloody from leaping spheres,
No girls surface from the river.
They split their skulls on the icy skin.
Part II: The Sacrificed
Through the mirror she sees who she would have been
Winter’s dance is in snap-thaw jerks, her body
The Sage was old even in spring, in winter
She makes him dance dead feet on hot coals.
Often, he treads on his beard, for the boards she trod.
Her lover is dead. Yarilo sleeps and next season
Will take a new bride. Her spirit is suffused
With his spent seed, the last volts of the votive rite.
She leaps; she will never touch the ground again.
The Siren Starfirst published in Fly on the Wall Press Magazine
On the first day, in the place empty of it,
The spaceman cracked his nose
Till his visor did the same.
On the second, his grieving replacement
Sent out to complete the essential maintenance
Unlatched the white umbilic cord.
On the third day, the astronomers with their one wrinkled eyes,
And the children given a telescope for their birthdays
By parents with too much disposable income
And too few ideas, disposed of their sight.
On the fourth day, those who lived in overgrown concrete
Cities snarled and starved of light unpowered by the spark
Of their own invention, stood in the unshadowed fields
Like a sailor, far from shore, surrounded by nothing
And nowhere, they turn their gaze to the horizon
To see another sight, to burn away the infinite
Fields of grey and green and blue and white.
On the fifth day
There were no seeing men left.
On the sixth, no women.
On the seventh, the last man put on his suit
And left the station
His eyes sealed by the flame from his kitbag.
Even then, he was still called to see.
The citizens of the sun. Three copper women scarred
By the lines of three black holes at their necks
Sucking in starlight.
Three eyeless women, hair and gowns rippling like flags
In an impossible wind.
The ends of hard white limbs clotted black.
Exposed to empty chaos.
She lifted his heavy glass mask
And made first contact with her lips.
A pursed eclipse of dark-blooded skin bordered in bronze
And the scratch of fingers hard as metal on his Adam’s apple.
From that day we took our breaths from blackness.
Sundog Howlfirst published in The Mechanics' Institute Review
– Scott Walker, Sundog
When Scott Walker died he left me his voice,
Tore out the redness of his throat and pressed it in black.
Scott, you go night flying
And I walk in the day.
I put my ear to your coffin.
You promised you’d be listening,
You and Brel; bet your getting along real well.
They buried you like a dog’s bone
Scott, you walk beneath the earth.
There’s no dancing near your grave.
The later stuff, you couldn’t dance to.
Thought I’d bring a shovel, and a show.
Later, I heard you punching the meat
Over by the funeral spread.
The thumbs of spring
Have closed your eyes.
The disc turns and turns again.
The sundog sets
The sundog plays
Another set piece.
The Train Goes Backwards
first published in Finished Creatures
– Ezra Pound, In a Station of the Metro
Peeled faces look down, don’t notice the tunnel;
The dry white ghosts of plants scream against the stopped pane.
The Young Marinerfirst published in New Contrast‘Had I from old and young’
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The world is just an albatross
With a human round its neck.
At the funeral, she speaks with gritted teeth.
We wore away the soft ruff and hard rachis,
Our arms stretched wide, our legs straight, like a dangling crucifix,
On a plastic string that neither of us could snap
By tooth or beak.
We broke the horrid silence of the sea.
We ran aground and splashed black paint beneath blue braes.
We broke and kept on breaking
The parched Polar Spirit wisps away.
He licks his lips to speak; he thought the polar opposite.
The casket closes.
She loses his attention.
“I’m the damned pallbearer.”
He rubs a cracked nail over an aching shoulder.
He rests the wooden chute on his slick black suit.
Through the crematorium grate waits a nation of ash and smoke.
They lumber on
Like dead men tugging at the rigging.
With a tired step
He sets the sun close over tomorrow’s morning.
Daniel Hinds lives in Newcastle. He won the Poetry Society’s Timothy Corsellis Young Critics Prize 2018 and his prose poem review of Jay Bernard’s Surge was one of the winners of the Shortlist Book Review Competition 2020, held in celebration of the Dylan Thomas Prize by Swansea University. His poetry was commended in the National Centre for Writing’s UEA New Forms Award 2021. He was also one of the winners of The Broken Spine’s Flash Fiction Competition. He was shortlisted for the Streetcake Experimental Writing Prize 2019 and the Terry Kelly Poetry Prize 2018, and longlisted for the Cinnamon Press Poetry Pamphlet Prize 2021. Two of his poems were highly commended in the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts Water Poetry Competition, judged by W. N. Herbert and John Burnside. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in The London Magazine, The New European, Wild Court, Poetry Salzburg Review, Stand, Southword, Prairie Fire, The Best New British and Irish Poets 2019-2021, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, Blackbox Manifold, The Honest Ulsterman, Fly on the Wall Press Magazine, The Morning Star, Finished Creatures, Rewilding: An Ecopoetic Anthology, Newcastle University’s One Planet Anthology, Amethyst Review, Perverse, Streetcake Magazine, Riggwelter, Orbis, The Seventh Quarry, New Contrast, The Mechanics’ Institute Review, York Literary Review, Poetry and Covid, Bind, Acid Bath Publishing’s The Worst Best Years: A Student Life Anthology and Travels and Tribulations, The Wilfred Owen Association Journal, Selcouth Station, Nightingale & Sparrow, Black Bough Poetry, Abridged, The Poetry Bus, Spellbinder, Cardigan Press’s Byline Legacies anthology, and BFS Horizons. He has also had an essay published in Pre-Raphaelite Society Review. He was part of a panel of judges for the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts Belonging Poetry Competition and contributed to New Writing North's Dawn Chorus collective sound poem, which premiered at the Durham Book Festival. He graduated from Newcastle University with a first class degree in English Literature, and a Distinction in his English Literature 1500-1900 MA, for which he won two prestigious scholarships, the School Bursary Award and Excellence Scholarship. He was commissioned by New Creatives, a talent development scheme supported by Arts Council England and BBC Arts and delivered by Tyneside Cinema, to produce an audio piece based on his poetic sequence The Stone Men of Newcastle. Twitter: @DanielGHinds