Julie Irigaray

Contributor Biography

Julie Irigaray is a French Basque poet living in the UK. Her poems have appeared internationally (US, UK, Ireland, Mexico, Canada and South Korea) in Ambit Magazine, Magma, Stand and Mslexia. Irigaray was commended in the 2020 Ambit Magazine Poetry Prize, shortlisted for The White Review Poet’s Prize 2019, and selected as one of the 50 Best New British and Irish Poets 2018 (Eyewear Publishing).

FIRST PHONE

Children as young as you

shouldn’t have phones,

your mother believed.

Rather than admitting

it was to cope,

you argued you would

get in touch with her

during school breaks

and made her promise

to send messages.
                                                                                           How is your tummy ache?
You never confessed

it ached

because you’d locked yourself

in the toilets

while a crowd outside

took part

in a competition of papier mâché

with you

as a target.


You received

daily dozens

of tissue sculptures

catapulted

over your bunker.


The meds didn’t make any effect.                                                                                                                      
At that stage they usually started

kicking the door

and you didn’t want them

to discover you had a phone

because their insults

would have followed you

home during dinners

in front of the TV

with your family to your deathbed—


So before opening the toilets’ door,

you ended the conversation with: 


           I must go now,

my friends are waiting for me.

                  Love
 

HOW I STOPPED HUGGING MY MOTHER

 

 

It was very easy:

after she was diagnosed with breast cancer,

the tumour claimed ownership of our embraces

and the catheter

and the surgery

and the staphylococcus

and the compressive bra

and radiotherapy

so I couldn’t hug my mother when we both

needed it the most.

I’m still so scared of hurting her

when we brush against each other

that I only kiss her occasionally.

    I’ve lost the habit.

Sarah Tan Shu Ling

Contributor Biography

Sarah Tan Shu Ling loves her reads to be steeped deep in fantasy where she can enter another realm. Her poetry comes to you in layers, free for readers to pick their own adventures. She is inspired by water bodies and this one particular period in Australia that she wishes she could freeze in time. Her work has appeared in the Anima Methodi, Asingbol, SingPoWriMo 2017 anthologies, as well as on Mynah, NTU creative writing programme’s website. Her work was also showcased at ARTAS 2016.

Brine

There is the sidewalk being washed into the sewers. There is rainwater draining into the ocean. The ocean pulls its skirts tightly around her ankles. Her skin gets abraded by the seawater. At five years, she would use a marker to ink her skin. Drawing waves just like these. Just to see if she would like them permanent. There are hairline cracks colliding on her bathroom walls. They create constellations on this star-speckled night. Of a night wrought then wrapped with a magenta ribbon. A night compressed into a second. The night fell away when the weak July sunlight fractured the room into pieces. When she dived, lacerations were made in the seabed. And I would watch the places where these cuts intersect. If the foam does not tear her in half, I hope she evaporates and crystallizes into sea salt. 

Let Nature Take Its Course

If you guess correctly the number of green vs orange vs red leaves on the confused trees, we can finally trade information and ponder about how the sun painted this particular tree branch orange, slowly and purposefully. That day, you were particularly upset. We could no longer waste time together, rooted on our favourite bench. Counting leaves, forgetting about counting days left. You wanted the battlefield to be your body instead of mine. I laughed and told you not to be jealous. You proceeded to plant stubbly kisses on my cheek. When we got home I could see veins blooming on my face. You told me it made me look peachy. I wondered how you knew about the name of my new blusher. Tonight, you want me to go under your skin, hide against soft fatty tissue and veins. You know no other way to save me. When my thudding heart no longer matches the thudding of colliding bodies on our bed, I hope your mind doesn’t struggle for too long, like the stems of green beans I used to plant as a kid, aching for support.