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Poems for a Liminal Age

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Sample poems from Poems for a Liminal Age edited by Mandy Pannett


John McCullough




Asleep?  I’m watching you through my lids.

This isn’t easy, tracking your nebulous shape

while you assess my neck’s turn, slide

down to smooth cleavage, tummy, waist


then encounter what’s stashed below my thigh.

Here I am, unveiled as arguable,

a mishmash of harbour and ship – the stay

in thought when all ideas are possible.


I’m everything yet deeply ill-equipped

for solitude.  What I need to know

is whether you ache to prise free


the ankle I’ve left loosely wrapped

in a sheet.  Singlespeak is boring.  Let’s talk toes

and honey.  Come on, nosey boy.  Surprise me.     

Jim Bennett




today I could see why people thought

the world was flat   it looks flat   feels flat

as far as I can see it’s flat   but it isn’t

I can see its shadow across a daytime moon 

the gentle curve of land through Arctic   

Africa   Antarctica   folding into night


sometimes there is a line  between

knowing  and  believing something

a train station gap  that can trip you

when you least expect it   even when evidence

is clear     you don’t want to see it

even things she said  are hard to believe


until I remind myself about what I know

and that the world is round and the sound

on the beach   is the moon  and dying ice  

and land folds into mountains 

how it came to be   how it moves   

how the movement of time changes everything



Siham Karami




As you were shopping for designer clothes,

My child was tortured by your husband's thugs,

The price to keep his job to buy you shoes.


Because we stood and chanted, "We refuse

This tyranny!" the bodies piled like jugs

While you were shopping for designer clothes.


He fights with tanks that no one can oppose.

From neighbors' rooftops snipers sink their slugs.

That's the price he pays to buy you shoes


That walk in the machinery of a ruse

To hide the human rubble as he shrugs,

So you can keep on shopping for the clothes


That lighten up his heart before he mows

Down men like grass, lets hospitals pull plugs --

The price to keep his job to buy you shoes


Whose path is getting rougher as it goes

Down darker where you can't tell men from bugs

And guts are dropping on designer clothes

And God knows where you're stepping with those shoes.



Wendy Klein




Find your phone found you this morning on a road

not far from the Burundi National Park,


so minute on my screen, I zoomed and zoomed

to see it before it moved off again in the direction


of Kyabamba, where there are volcanoes (live?)

and not far off, Lake Edward, its name printed out


in both English and French, but the nearby

Ugali River Game Reserve will offer its own


temptations – lions, elephants, rhinos, long-lashed

giraffes – do not be seduced, so many beasts,


dangerous, endangered. But I see you’re moving

again: Musama, Kigoma, Tabora, where the search


widens, hones in on Rwanda, Burundi, a recital

of massacres, and across the map, Beni, Butembo .


Where are you going my heart? Ivy is rampaging

everywhere; it’s choking the wild cherries


and blossoms are falling from your plum tree,

though your apple is still in flower.


If you’re lost will your phone find you? Do you

know the word for lost in Swahili?


My bed is unruffled; I am sleeping

too well without you.



Aprilia Zank




she walks into the garden

stumbles across wall wreckage


for the remains of some flowers

to hang above

the family photograph


so many missing now


not much left among the ashes

a few beheaded stalks

petals and stamina

scattered all over the place


she stoops down

digs with bare hands

under the ruins

for seeds

to plant in the spring


in the distance

growl and flashes

of man-made thunder





Michaela Ridgway




past jammed-together houses

doors all shut, faces lit


by TV screens, past a boy

racing down the street


— a woman’s voice

falling faster still behind him


the trick is to keep a steady pace

past lampposts


a clutch of honeysuckle buds

the pub with no name


a rope-swing

slung from the dying elm


and past mum, with daisies in her hair

and dad, cross-legged on a mountain-top


past the scent of mangoes as they ripen

in the dark, and up


past the time when my heart almost stopped.

Don’t dilly-dally. Lengthen your stride


note the flock of geese as they rise

from the lake and fly up


past a choir of trees with branches raised

their leaves falling, upwards


and up, to the line that marks the top of the hill

the sudden sheer sky 



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