So evocative and vivid
Lovers of all things seaside and Blackpool pushed Abigail Flint’s ‘Self portait as Blackpool’ to the fore and she emerged as the winning Pick of the Month poet with her ‘startlingly original’ poem in what was a very close competition.
Abigail Flint is a heritage researcher based in South Yorkshire. Her poetry has appeared in Popshot Quarterly, The Ekphrastic Review, 192 Magazine, Route 57, Consilience, Ink Drinkers and About Larkin, along with project anthologies and websites. Twitter: @constantunusual
Self portrait as Blackpool
I am towering
tall enough to ride The Wild Mouse.
A cockle-hearted donkey named for a flower
that doesn’t grow in sand. My bridle
is so pretty, red with tin bells
but my sea is impossible
always out of reach
or crashing the promenade steps.
I am the last week of the lights
a tram that is really a rocket.
All invisible-dog-leads and fart-spray
a hen-party falling out of The Manchester
at 10.30 in the morning, any one
of my lines or four corners counts as a win. I am
just one more go mum.
No kiss-me-quick punchline.
I am seasonally quiet.
My currency is three or five
donuts to a pound. My bones are rock
with your name through it, rock
with my name through it. A Wurlitzer
plays from the pit of my ribs. I am standing
on a precipice of two pence pieces
waiting to drop.
I am calling House!
Other voters comments included:
This poem brought back treasured childhood memories of Blackpool, I could see and almost hear and smell Blackpool through her words.
The poem really invokes the sights, smells, and memories of Blackpool
Wonderful imagery! Being a mum really can feel like all the demands and shabbiness of a seaside resort with the best bits just out of reach sometimes.
Evocative and stirs the senses of the seaside
It spoke to my heart
So evocative of a rather special place.
It is completely evocative of this fylde coast gem!
It evokes all things Blackpool in a most atmospheric way
I grew up in Blackpool she’s captured it perfectly, with beautiful words and imagery.
Many childhood days out spent in Blackpool. This poem is full of my memories
This is my Blackpool! Every word rings true.
The red bells on the donkey – just Blackpool
This poem is great fun to read, very imaginative.
THE REST OF THE DECEMBER 2021 SHORTLIST
It’s a shame really by Numan Awan
I could do whatever i want to freely,
But I’ve got a conscience that speaks to me.
Look at it this way, don’t get lost in the current and let your desires sway.
You weren’t put on this earth to stay,
You’re gonna have to leave one day.
So it hurts, and it burns, when others take turns,
To do what they please,
Even step on one’s dreams.
They made up their own naughty list,
Told us to follow the rules,
But never mentioned they were exempt from it.
I don’t swear in my pieces,
But my peace is in pieces,
My patience been tried, trust no longer alive.
At least last Christmas it was believable,
But this year, i can’t let it slide.
They won’t even try to hide, the fact that they’re living a big old lie.
I wonder if I’ll be told to stay away from my loved ones again?
Will the nation give seasonal greetings over zoom, to their loved ones hospital beds?
They gifted us bikes and scooters, but skimped out on sense.
And when i speak to their supporters, i swear i get tense.
Can’t be asked for a debate, so im just silent instead.
Like i said,
My peace is in pieces and this jigsaw won’t get completed,
Communal Energy depleted,
I just focus on self.
Realigned my goals, put many back on the shelf.
Back on my gym so i can prioritise my health,
They’re only stacking the plates, so it only makes sense,
To lift up this weight, i gotta work on my chest,
But how can i move forward if I’m neglecting my legs.
And muscles don’t grow unless i get rest.
Using my head to benefit myself,
Even on days off my time is still stretched.
Sorry if it comes across as selfish.
But I’m tryna pay off my debts.
Numan Awan is an artist from Slough who’s had the pleasure of performing at some of the best open mic events the UK has to offer, from Mind over Matter to The Vortex. He started off with performance poetry and has begun to release music on Spotify. His debut track is “Hold on”.
Blade by Sue Finch
I fashioned a blade from ice;
carved its purity with steel.
Ran with it to the circus tent.
Raised it above my head
so it flashed under the lights.
The slow drip down my wrists
reminded me the treasure of it
But I made this and the moment was mine.
Too early for the ringmaster and clown
to be breathing grassed air in full costume.
faces not yet settled,
Are you auditioning? asked the ringmaster
breaking the enclosed silence.
I felt sure I could pull something off,
but wondered how I would cope in the cold caravans.
Was it time to see so much more of the world
or had I carved this beautiful dagger
for a different purpose?
I frowned thoughtfulness.
Then, feet together,
I lifted my warming weapon above my head.
I opened my mouth as wide as I could,
tasted yesterday’s popcorn tinged with hotdog,
slid it slowly in.
I am 98% sure they applauded.
Sue Finch lives with her wife in North Wales. She tweets at @soopoftheday. Her debut collection, Magnifying Glass, was published in October 2020 with Black Eyes Publishing UK.
Hungry Ghost by Jessica Mookherjee
In Hinduism a Hungry Ghost (or Preta) is fed rice so it can reincarnate.
Write prayers for the dead today, feed them rice balls,
they see only three children, say there is another one
somewhere, knocking on the outline of a womb,
write me a prayer, feed them through their tiny throats
filled with air, can’t write prayers for the dead these days,
they knock on my door with wild streaks, a sugar rush,
opening up, unbolting, unlocking the doors, fumbling for keys,
this is a thin time, skin is bursting, scratch my feet,
want to barefoot into the garden where the ghost keeps
looking for the lost child; Come inside whisper the dead,
don’t be angry, I won’t feed prayers to the dead, I reply,
they make demands to be fed sugared almonds, want
cow’s milk, sixteen rice balls before the burn, want me
to change them into ether, Must I feed these children
that don’t exist? They don’t look into my eyes, We are not
far away, they say. Won’t someone write a prayer
to feed me, that I might appear where that hunger lives.
Jessica Mookherjee lives in Kent. Her work appears in many journals including Agenda, Poetry Wales, The North, Rialto, Under the Radar, Birmingham Literary Review and in various anthologies including Bloodaxe’s Staying Human. She was highly commended in the 2017 and 2021 Forward Prize for best single poem. Her second full collection, Tigress, (Nine Arches Press 2019) has been shortlisted for the Ledbury Munthe Prize for Best Second Collection . She is a joint editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press.
More Facts About Blue by JLM Morton
If I were to ask you to guess the world’s most wanted colour
Not a chest of it reached England without the stain of human
Darkened as if by bruising.
In the womb of the vat there is life
Gnosis at temporal frequency in the third eye
Oxygen turned sorcerer colour of devil’s dye.
JLM Morton’s first pamphlet Lake 32 is published by Yew Tree Press (2020). Juliette is recipient of an Arts Council DYCP grant, working towards a collection exploring cloth and colonialism She is poet in residence for Stroudwater Textile Trust. www.jlmmorton.com
Nativity by Adam Warne
Can you hear her sing,
so far from here, crouched
on bloodied straw, beside
the phlegmatic ox?
my little child,
may we know peace tonight.’
She sings, and learns,
against her weary heart,
the peace he brings can’t
be a peace she’s known before.
‘My little child,’ she sings,
Come, you who listen,
it’s time for you to step
out of this poem and follow:
from out the dark, the shepherds
hurry down the hawkish
hill, the magi slink past the
tyrant, and the angels gather to
praise the child laid in the skanky manger.
Adam Warne is a writer and supermarket worker from Suffolk, where he lives with his parents in a village called Onehouse. His pamphlet Suffolk Bang was published by Gatehouse Press in 2018 and shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards.