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"the curled wrought iron mangle."
by Philip Johnson

by Barbara Philips

Washing day 1947

by Sally James


Gang Gigs
by Barbara Philips





"the curled wrought iron mangle."
by Philip Johnson

I remember one of those stood on a frame
in the back yard at Granny Bus's.

Grand dad telling me not to play with it
in case I trapped my fingers

I couldn't understand why it didn't make any music
like the record player did when you turned the handle?

His master's voice drew a clout from ma

I already had the rollers turning and was feeding in the hand
and the left arm of my Action Man doll

Sqaushed em flat.

Imagined the crunch of bone in the bully at school
making fun of me as they were so heavily


by Barbara Philips

at end of summer  Dad
armed in vigilance
daily looked
for intimations of frost

heads of marigolds
vines of beans
green tomatoes
fronds of carrot tops
buds of roses
leaves of parsley

all were inspected
infused with
concern still
set in the garden
warmth tended
all summer

when late afternoons
settled into north
winds kicking
dry leaves into corners
under fence pickets
among roots of
lilacs and hydrangeas

huge bouquets landed
on the kitchen table
begged arrangements
into Flemish splendours
or Van Gogh tableaux

piles of vegetables
washed peeled
chopped for soups
lured neighbours
beckoned friends

in salon happenings
Dad stirred harvest soup
with a large wooden spoon
served it up bountifully

we feasted
became best of friends
with summer's spoils
gave frost fair warning

through cornucopias
we chased down winter
on steaming spoons
devoured it whole


Washing day 1947

by Sally James


it was like that then

mam scrubbing mangling

boiling whites in the copper boiler

mist on the windows inside

smog on the windows outside

lobscouse cooking

on a solitary gas ring

a pint pot of strong tea

to keep her strength up

me crying with measles

her raw hands soothing me

giving me medicine

in between pegging out

damp clothes in the damp air.




Gang Gigs
by Barbara Philips

he would come home
after gigs
with his railway gang
throw his bundle into a corner
said he would get to it
then he sat
at the kitchen table
lit up a cigarette
stared for hours
into visions
he would not share
one hot day
when the gang
was close to home in Capreol
I took a fresh thermos of hot
bitter tea
just the way
he liked it 
sound of steel
on iron
beat out of time
through hammers
menacing the air
before they came
down hard 
on spikes
smelling of  tar
over the tracks
men's shoulders burned
gleamed goldbrown
prepared the way
for the iron
horse that chugged smoke
across aluminum skies
cut by paper pines
gigantic wheels
clattered thunder
set floors to shaking
until window panes trembled
china tipped into
waxed abysses
the men swung wide
sang old songs
called to each other
come on boys there's work to be done
missus needs flour for flapjacks
kids need shoes
we need a drink and some cigs
not long now to quittin’ time
voices slid along rails
for the locomotive headed
to cities where men
in smooth leather soled
shoes smoked cigars
sipped fine brandy
followed stock quotes
bragged about weekends
lived dreams
bent into backs
up the line
where spikes sun
chrome polished shone