We’re in Scarborough. You’re the first one up, nipping for a paper. You’re wearing an unpleasant brown polo shirt mum got you from the catalogue. It accentuates your hardened gut. Everyone you pass smiles back at you. They always do. You get talking to someone about something. He finds you odd at first, your ease at slipping into lives for just a moment. But you’ll mark him with your levity, your charm and affability and you’ll move on before he wants you to. You buy The Daily Express. We don’t understand. I like to get my news from the other side too, you say. You comment on the headline to the man behind the counter. On the way back to our digs, you get talking to a woman with a yapping highland terrier. You’ve been a postman for years but dogs still don’t like you. You walk back through the door as if nothing has happened.
I Like Birds
My father was a postman. He asked a woman if she would save him envelopes from letters her sister sent from Ceylon.
He brought them home to me so I could soak stamps off. I didn’t care if they were franked: brown-capped babbler, crimson-fronted barber, Legge’s flowerpecker, white-faced starling.
I made up calls for all of them, me, a precocious virtuoso of exotic birdsong.
Mark Connors is a poet and novelist from Leeds. His poetry pamphlet, Life is a Long Song was published by OWF Press in 2015. His first collection, Nothing is Meant to be Broken was published by Stairwell Books in 2017. His second collection, Optics, was published by YAFFLE in 2019. His third collection is due out later in 2021. www.markconnors.co.uk.
Those salt and vinegar days and freshly laundered nights pool in my mind, bucketed under ‘holiday memories with Grandpa’ revisited as often as the rain,
as familiar as pavement petrichor worn smooth as pebbles, yet short, sharp, distinct, their postcard length lines make me wish I was there again.
Memories of Grandpa
One gold sleeve garter, the donkeys bray, smell of wild garlic, spritzed with sea spray.
Your Underwood typewriter, Little Wuff stories, whispered voices in Bridlington Priory.
My hand in yours I’ll hold to this day, tucked up in my memory neatly folded away.
Kate Jenkinson is a Northern poet, Manchester Literature Poetry Slam and Squiffy Gnu competition winner and published in Covid and Poetry, Rainbow Poems and Eyeflash Poetry Journal. Kate performs spoken word at open mics whilst working on her pamphlet. She writes about science, nature, relationships and leadership.
You must have been seven. I’m in a home-made Father’s Day T-shirt that your mother organised,
that I carelessly only wore once, but look in the photograph rumpled, bronzed, happy. You cuddling up to me
on the Solent ferry, returning from the island, escorted by yachts engaged in a race. Now you’re a beautiful, loving
mother of two. That sweltering summer we only went in the sea after tea. Enclosed my mother in our embrace, a year after
my father died. The disco in the café when you all got up to dance: the last time I felt him at my shoulder.
Greg Freeman is the news and reviews editor for the poetry website Write Out Loud. His 2015 debut pamphlet Trainspotters (Indigo Dreams) includes several poems about his father, who was a former Japanese prisoner of war and put to work on the notorious ‘Death Railway.’ His father died in 1989.