Prince of the Sky

He rattles like a bucketful of boats
flying the inter-tropical front in his armchair;
a thunderstorm took the whole crew down
on take-off, his friend at the controls.
In Korea every passenger puked each trip.
He couldn’t afford to
watched the meters like a hawk, he said.

He was madder than two boogers
when ground crew directed his tail assembly
into a tug. Flew out of Macon and fell asleep,
woke up over Ole Miss, Big Muddy –
right on course. Scraped his right wingtip
in the prop wash of the plane in front
trying to land at Abiline. The tower said:

good recovery.
He spits free and long now
slimy strings glisten up from his gut,
touch down slow, ugly as a mud fence
and built the same, wattle and slobber.
He’s turning himself slowly inside out
this boozin’ buddy, this prince of the sky.


Linda Lee Welch


St Hilary’s Exile

Hilary’s ink-stained forefinger strokes the dried skin
of a fig, nudges it from the plate into his palm. 
Figs are the flower of the ficus, he tells his wife
by the hearth, an inflorescence; flowers and seeds
bunch into clusters, the bloom obscured by flesh
and rind.  She watches him mull and rock his chair
on the scrubbed stone, bare feet tipping back,
then onto his toes – he rocks, and a weight like water

washes over her eyelids, salt-blue and ravishing. 
She sleeps, dreams of him, a kingfisher spooked
to flight, landing his chair square on its legs, breaking
the fruit in two.  He sups the meat, tar-dark pulp
on his fingers, lips sticky with fig.  Shaking, he looks
to snow-fat pines, the flat earth lying upturned,
fallow.  He takes the reed marking his page
and resumes his work to prove the divinity of Christ.


Angelina Ayers


Small comfort,
when hurtling hatless along the canal
on a brake-free bike
as the temperature

drops well below zero,
that morning-chorus
escapes bamboo bars to crumbs
blow-piped sky high.

This is China where black pips snug
in white flesh
flash coal-eyed like snowmen’s but
that even as I start to say so

in Chinese,
saying so in Chinese turns
in Chinese.    

No small mercy
that Santa soars above bikes and rickshaws
piled with fairy-tale leeks
or the extended family and their furniture.

Small wonder
that a cabbie pronounces I love you baby
at my pigin Right, left.
Straight on, don’t stop.


Lisa Wallace

Cafe Absinthe

after Degas

The drain's reek
pushes us out of our building again.               
He says they are mulched to the rim
with gulped-down dreams of the hopeless.
I think something shuffled in, bedded-down
and died in them.

And now we are here:
backed to the wall with the mirror,
ordering coffee, sitting like penitents
over the dregs of it more than an hour. No one’s
complaining, no one demanding to face up
to the international situation.

I am considering absinthe
the green of city bridge sub terrain,
how the nets at the window set a haze on the drizzle,
the grimy mechanical churning of coins
from the arcade next-door’s gloom. We order drinks,
will try to ride the downturn.
He says who can know
we will not do something brave and spontaneous tomorrow?
That we won’t all suddenly throw down the reins
and shaking our heads clear leap from the merry-go-round?
But as the slurred and whirring tunes
well up again next-door

I know that woman in the mirror behind
has the eyes of the jacketed monkey and the soul
of it crashing its cymbals to the organ’s grind.


Shelley Roche-Jacques

The Hex poets include amongst their number:

Linda Lee Welch is a prize-winning poet and novelist and lectures in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University. She has two novels published by Virago and has contributed to poetry journals including Ambit, Mslexia and The New Writer.

Angelina Ayers is Writer in Residence at Bank Street Arts. Her poems have been published by Poetry Review, The North, The Rialto, Longbarrow Press and 'The Sheffield Anthology'. Her reviews have appeared in The North, Antiphon and Orbis. Angelina was editor of Matter 10, and is currently editing a book about Sheffield-born printmaker Leonard Beaumont.

Lisa Wallace recently graduated the MA Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, and is currently engaged in a storying project about displacement, one of obsessions and nature as healer. She lives with her son in Sheffield, and her poems have been published in several journals including Matter.

Shelley Roche-Jacques' poetry has appeared in magazines such as The Rialto, The Wolf, Magma and The Boston Review, and in the anthologies 'Ten Hallam Poets' and 'The Sheffield Anthology'. She is currently completing a practice-based PhD on the dramatic monologue at Sheffield Hallam University.