New Year

Write to me and tell me how you long for snow, the crisp white
blank of new beginnings. I’ve watched you, enjoying the poise
of waiting, the rough edge of the cusp of it grinding at our skin
’til we’re raw with it. I’m giddy with the drug of it, want you
to be too. In the coming days I’ll be looking constantly to the sky
for anchorage, unable to predict her moods. I’ll learn to absorb
the grey slate wash and squalid days of pale blue light, decipher
the punctuation of birds coming home, leaving young. I know
you’ll be listening as I devour the silence of cold, cold air, trying
to pack it away in my abdomen so I can use it later when time
is hot and frantic. You’ll like the way the cold stabs at the heart
of us when we’re fighting it. I want you to think of us encrusted
with frost, cracking and spidery across every inch of limb until
we’ve refracted every piece of light we can. I want you to feel it
when it melts, the sun as it moves into spring, the dead skin
we’ve slipped and left for ground. I want us to count up all our ends
then bury them with the bulbs, long for the bloom, feel the wait.



Zelda Chappel would be an intrepid explorer if courage and money permitted.  Instead she writes, often on the backs of things.  Most recently her poems can be found in a handful of publications including Popshot, Bare Fiction and HARK.  She is the co-editor at Elbow Room and tweets as @ZeldaChappel.



The Other Girl

The girl who came to see you earlier
trailed around these busy streets after
she left your building. Crept along
the inside edge of pavements. Steadied

herself with one hand to railings. Kept
her eyes down, except for glances over
her shoulders, to check black-coated
others didn’t walk too near behind her.

When doorways gaped, throwing warm
yellow arcs across the paving stones,
she snuffled close, snorting the scent
of overcoats draped over the backs

of armchairs, trays of bright sherry
and chocolates; scuttled across stiff
Welcome mats, while automatic doors
slid open. Closed again. Let no one in.

The Christmas lights dragged her free
of the ground. Loosed at last, she drifted
and bounced like a grey dust ghost
against the crowd’s puffa jackets, bags

of late-night shopping. Listed along
between lanes of traffic; hopped across
the central reservation, pulled on
a jerky silver thread towards the lanterns.

While you reversed out of the mews,
dipped your headlamps southward,
she climbed up on the rail, lifted her face.
Her eyes, they said, were lit up, shining.



Charlotte Gann is a freelance writer and editor from Sussex. Her poetry pamphlet, The Long Woman (Pighog Press) was shortlisted for the 2012 Michael Marks Award.



1st Jan. 4am

The dry cough of a fox shocks us awake
announces this new year. The country comes
to town and something old as fear pads through
suburban streets with rasping, strangulated
cry. It hunts its mate. We lie and wait
for answering bark, between the bands
of drunken revellers. Hear the old year
turn tail and slope off into the dark.



Maggie Butt‘ first published this poem in ‘petite’ (Hearing Eye 2011) This is her website