Monday, 29 May 2017

A poem by Arlene Grizzle

Birthday Loss

I didn't know him well, but
Ben was a close friend of my
parents. Born on the island
of Barbados, he lived most of
his life in England before moving
to the U.S with his family.

Ben was a quiet man who wore a
sheepish grin that hinted of
scandalous things that ought to
be kept secret. I always smiled
when I saw him, my own thoughts
filling in those unrevealed tales.

My parents often told me of those
Sunday afternoon domino games at Ben’s
house where Bajans warred against
Jamaicans while sharing platefuls
of codfish fritters and fried plantains.
Ben was always the victor, a feather in
the cap of the Bajans as the Jamaicans
went home with full bellies and happy

Ben died on my birthday. He laid
frozen and silent in a hospital
bed unable to say goodbye to his family
and friends. As his life faded away
I was driving to the beach searching
for answers and a new start.

I cry not for what he meant to me,
but for what he meant to others. I
weep not for my loss but for theirs.
We are but vapor that ascends upwards
mingling with the air until we are no
longer a singularity, but part of the whole.
Ben, may you climb ever upwards
no more alone, but part of completeness.

Arlene Grizzle is a novice poet who enjoys writing poetry and song lyrics. She holds a bachelor's degree in sociology and spent many years working with the developmentally disabled community.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

A poem by Robert Ford


Down the long band of sunlit lane from where I
was allegedly a boy, a small universe of poppies
is making a miracle of the untidy fields behind
the compressor factory’s vermilion brick ruins,
given up on years ago by a defeated farmer.

The side-tracked faithful come to give thanks,
arriving in their cars on listless July evenings,
and parking themselves in any available niche.
Smart-phones deployed, they pump the images
like warm blood onto Facebook and Instagram,

then head on home, unaware that poppies were
God’s final flourish, as she emptied out the red tins
and brushed off the dust from Her palette, before
She packed and stowed it all away, folded
the easel and returned quietly to Her day job.

Robert Ford lives on the east coast of Scotland. His poetry has appeared in both print and online publications in the UK and US, including Antiphon, Clear Poetry, Homestead Review and Ink, Sweat and Tears. More of his work can be found at

Monday, 22 May 2017

A poem by Sharon Phillips

What you learn from baking sourdough bread

It takes you six weeks to grow
your starter which is a long time to
wait for a loaf of bread but you think
you will learn how to be patient.

One day you notice that your starter
smells of vomit but no-one has told
you this could happen so you scour
the internet for advice and think
about the absurdity of the metaphor.

You use your starter when it smells
of a satsuma fermented under the sofa
for a week, when its bubbles remind
you of your stomach when you fret.
You prefer not to think about this.

When you pour the starter from its jar,
it reminds you of the spittoon joke.
Although this thought is unpleasant, you
enjoy the tingle of mild transgression.
You decide to buy some gel to spike
your hair but you don’t get around to it.

When you taste the tang of your bread,
you remember being abroad
so you eat it with gherkins
and Black Forest ham.

You read Elizabeth David, learn that
mediaeval bakers called yeast
“godisgoode” and wonder which deity
is responsible for sourdough cultures.
You congratulate yourself on the thought.

In February you find your starter in the fridge
where it has been since December,
behind blocks of special offer cheddar.
You throw it away and buy some yeast.
You still don’t buy hair gel.

Sharon retired from a career in education in 2015 and started to write poems and short stories again, after a break of forty years. She lives in Dorset with her husband, two dogs and two cats and is currently doing an MA in creative writing.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

A poem by Alicia Cole


These are the events we don’t discuss:
the tape on the bottom
of a prop coffee cup
on a movie set, the leftovers
of a warehouse fire,
these small and giant tragedies.
Each one an upturned sip
of nothingness. Each one needing
some human sympathy.
A hand to remove the tape;
a hand to remove the bodies
from the wreckage.
Some basic human sympathy
in the face of neglectful salvation:
what hand ever reached down
while they burned, or ruined the scene?
I’ve one more load in the laundry,
my roommate says, and I must agree.
With my view of God tonight,
something else we don’t discuss,
certain events need laundering.

Alicia Cole is a writer and visual artist in Huntsville, AL. She lives in a halfway house. To learn more about her, visit her on Facebook at

Monday, 15 May 2017

A poem by Tristan Moss

Flower Tea after the 89 Revolution

Primeval mutterings of tea
and a blazing day
in the Carpathians
when Eugenius,
even then an old man,
climbed without a rope
a little way down a cliff
to pick some alpine flowers,
and seeing my relief
when he reappeared
on the way back joked
how we'd have to run
uphill if chased by a bear.

Later, he poured me some tea
and the flowers tasted good.

Tristan Moss lives in York with his partner and two young children. He has had poems published in 'Magma', 'Shadow Train', 'NOON', 'Fat Damsel', 'Obsessed with pipework', 'Snakeskin', 'The Journal', 'Ink Sweat and Tears', 'Word riot', 'Camroc Review','Elimae' and 'Alba'. He can be contacted .

Thursday, 11 May 2017

3 poems by Stephen Toft

Three Tanka Poems

my poem into
the wind
it disappears,
gains meaning

setting off
before dawn
the stars
onto our car

sitting down
to write tanka;
a field of snow
towards dusk

Stephen Toft is a poet and homelessness worker who lives in Lancaster, UK with his girlfriend and their children. His first collection "the kissing bridge" was published by Red Moon Press in 2008 and in December 2016 Scars Publications released his chapbook "naming a storm: haiku and tanka".

Monday, 8 May 2017

A poem by Matthew Dobson


Claggy apron, steel-toe boots.
A bone saw, extra-wide-set teeth.
One brand-new pair of chainmail gloves.
P45. Blue tabard. Hair net.

He chucked it all in a black bin-bag
then traipsed through nuzzling rain to town
where he pressed his work into a dump-bin
behind the shop, snug with the trimmed fat.

Then dusk came, soft as a calf’s ears. He rode
the bus back home and counted coins
out of his purse, into his palm,
onto his tongue and down his gullet.

Dear dear, they said, as they cut him open
and the unspent coins lay wet and glistening.

Matthew Dobson is from York but currently lives in Surrey where he works as a teacher. He has had poems published in a number of online and print magazines, including Butcher's Dog and Ink, Sweat and Tears.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

A poem by Nicholas Campbell

Butterfly Scripture

"Inside the butterfly is a scripture."
Graffiti on a wall in San Francisco; ca.1967

Without words the butterfly is
itself. This is what air is, it says;
flicker of wings is all.

However I try to see anything
words come to mind, as now
this butterfly becomes a word.

Yet I see the sky writing a word
that is born out of nature’s mind
as if some emblem of the soul.

Without words nature’s mouth
opens and from it life flies,
transcending even life itself.

Without words the wordless
butterfly is gone,
leaving only our memory of it.

Nicholas Campbell is of Slovak and Scottish descent. He was born in Greensburg, Indiana, in 1949, and attended Catholic and public schools in Indiana and California where he later studied verse writing at California State University, Northridge, with poets Benjamin Saltman and Ann Stanford, and where, in 1984, he earned a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature. He has taught creative writing at the California Men's Colony, for Arts Reach at UCLA, and for California Poetry in the Schools. He has also participated in the summer writing workshops at Cuesta College near San Luis Obispo where he taught verse writing. Recent publications include America: The National Catholic Review ( and Blue Monday Review, out of Kansas City.

Monday, 1 May 2017

A poem by Emily Light

Little Boy Blue

A boy loses himself running around the track
marks on his mother’s arms,
walks in on her with
-drawal seizures, foam quivering
on her lip. He wipes it away.
Now she’s a missing person. He’s missing
school to search the police officer’s
expression for honesty
after information dies

on the other end of the phone
line. Your eyes will melt girls someday
his mother once said. Why can’t someone’s eyes
meet his on these streets empty of her limp body?
He remembers her fizzing tongue thick
fingers probing his hands; she insists

he lie and keep her habits.
The wooden cross hanging between his lungs
last school year found a home in the ground
where he buried his tongue. He’ll dig it out tonight
blame it for everything, hug it tight.

Emily Light lives, writes, and works as an English teacher in northern New Jersey. She has poems published or forthcoming in Bop Dead City, Star 82 Review, and Ink In Thirds.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

A poem by Pat Edwards

On becoming vintage

You'll find it there on your neck,
your lid or somewhere,
your backside maybe -
your sell-by date
or more accurately,

your use by date.

God help you if you go over that by even one day.
Why, your innards will surely rot untimely,
entrails, very self, deteriorate to toxic waste.
You'll see visions of war cabinet in urgent huddle,
ladies wearing pencil skirts, belligerent buns tightly tied
on their pointy little heads,
pushing wooden boats and submarines
around a cardboard cut-out you.

It might just be alright
if you throw up a couple of times,
clear the system out before it's too late.
There's just a chance you will be declared


or even vintage,
worthy of a bit of rubbing down,
a lick of chalk paint and a darn good waxing,
before you wane.

I am Pat Edwards, writer, teacher and performer from Mid Wales. I run Verbatim poetry open mic nights locally and am curating this year’s Welshpool Poetry Festival. I have had work published in on line magazines including Picaroon, Rat’s Ass and The Fat Damsel, and in some anthologies including Wenlock Poetry Anthology 2016.

Monday, 24 April 2017

A poem by Frances Klein


I’ve never seen sex walk like that.
All duality, denim and dark curls-

pheromones oozing out to permeate
the air like maybe they came packaged special-

and suddenly my skin is opening its pores,
parched earth for the slake of rain,

taking in all that sex before I even know I want it.
I want it.

It’s not for a few days that I realize there is a man
wrapped in all that sex; behind the wheel

and under it, beneath the cedars,
in the ocean, in the front seat and the back

alley, one foot in a tide pool,
one hand in my hair, eyes closed. Eyes closed.

He’s still there when I open them,
tentative and temporary, self-effacing

and self-occupied and strongly self
in ways both sub and super human.

The residue he leaves behind is tenuous,
filming every scientific name

of every native plant, every thrift-store record,
every drop of light that falls through the redwoods

to surround me like a rainstorm,
like a rainstorm, like a storm.

Frances Klein is a high school English teacher. She was born and raised in Southeast Alaska, and taught in Bolivia and California before settling in Indianapolis with her husband Kris. She has been published in GFT Press, Molotov Cocktail, and the Tipton Poetry Journal among others.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

A poem by Brett Evans

Sloth and the Snake

Sloth farts himself awake,
groans indescribably - deprived
of sleep as he already is; bickering
neighbours, yelps and yawps have stolen
Sloth’s beloved canopy of lullabies.
And Sloth knows he’s too simple
but this morning, even he picks
up on disturbances. Sloth’s shoulders
stiffen momentarily as strength
is mustered to reflect on the beauty
of all he can see, tune into the protest songs,
drown out water cannons, rubber bullets.
But the black snake is about to slide
across the wide Missouri – far away,
that rolling river - and it’s not
the ever mournful leaves
that spill onto Sloth’s once carefree cheeks.        
Energy enough to chide Too simple
for this world, battling his eyelids
knowing dreamcatchers grasp
less than he does, Sloth feels fresh;
snatches the closest branch
as if it were a lance.

Brett Evans lives, writes, and drinks in his native north Wales. He is co-editor of poetry and prose journal Prole.
Dog walks are preferable to phone calls.

Monday, 17 April 2017

A poem by Finola Scott

long-distance love

tonight your voice is loaded
     -  exams   rent    girlfriend -
too far away   in miles
  and years
to kiss to make better

I knit a cat’s cradle
                         of words
to hold    you     soothe you
but  meaning cracks
  even  the
   is break  ing

Finola Scott's poems and short stories are widely published in anthologies and magazines including The Ofi Press, Raum, Dactyl ,The Lake, Poets' Republic.

She is pleased to be mentored this year on the Clydebuilt Scheme by Liz Lochead. A performance poet, she is proud to be a slam-winning granny.

Her roles as daughter, teacher, wife, mother and grandmother are important sources for her writing. She is involved in the political , with especial reference to women's place in society.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

A poem by Lucy Corbett

Lucy Corbett is a writer, performer and filmmaker living and working in Cardiff. She is inspired by anything funny, heartbreaking, noir-ish, melancholic and magical. Luckily that covers lots of things. She recently wrote and performed a solo theatre/poetry show Stories About My Weird Friends, is writing a story in instalments on her website, and had a film poem long listed at the Rabbit Heart Film Festival in America. 

Monday, 10 April 2017

A poem by Geoff Anderson


At night, I was held together,
another’s arm across my chest

—one who learned in school
to bind like and unlike things

using a little glue and math—
lace to Valentine’s Day cards,

formula to shapes. Our lessons
were not so different; I fashioned

father from mountain
on ruled loose-leaf in English,

muscled the rock,
the balding summit.

Education is more about
seeing the relationship

than accepting it as true.
Waking up alone, I left

my hand on the outline
of a body until I could not

find her warmth anymore,
before I knew it love.

Geoff Anderson crosses the tracks, the floodwall, the bridge in Columbus, OH. His work appears or is forthcoming in places like Outlook Springs, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Lunch Ticket.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

A poem by Natalie Crick


See how
The moon hangs in utter darkness,
A smouldering black,

A crack of light
Disappearing almost,
The world paused outside.

See how
Blood’s blue shadow
Barely runs beneath her skin.

See how her eyes glitter
Like fire, wisps of inked
Paper that one day will curl and smoke

Rising into the abysmal fields of
Some star-haunted place, some
Suddenly interrupted, fathomless sky.

Natalie Crick, from Newcastle in the UK, has found delight in writing all of her life and first began writing when she was a very young girl. She graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature and plan to pursue an MA at Newcastle this year. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in a range of journals and magazines including The Lake, Ink Sweat and Tears, Poetry Pacific, Interpreters House and Jet Fuel Review. Her work also features or is forthcoming in a number of anthologies, including Lehigh Valley Vanguard Collections 13. This year her poem, 'Sunday School' was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Monday, 3 April 2017

A poem by Jerrod Schwarz


I don't know why Dad bought a stilt house—
unpainted columns at each corner, the steep grade
of the staircase, a small porch
overlooking our fallow orange grove.

His new wife crouches in the kitchen; her fingers
are the size of dough-rollers, her fingers pinch plates
out of the dishwasher.

I gather Legos and clothes and my toothbrush
into a backpack in the living room. Dad's already ground-level,
Dad's already waiting in the car.

Stepbrother sidesteps her tree-trunk hips to get a soda,
and I ask her Have you seen my shoes?
She looks at me, grabs a toothpick of a pencil,
and draws the silhouette of a man on a paper towel.

She eats the drawing and starts to cry—hands over her face,
elbows jutting into the dining room, knocking over chairs,
shattering flatware.

I see my shoes hidden behind dad's work boots.
Now I'm at the front door, on the stairs, getting into the car.
I look up at the bay window—she's standing at the sink,
she's picking pieces of a gravy boat
out of her arm, her salad bowl eyes
squinting down at the broken family heirloom.

Jerrod Schwarz is an MFA student at the University of Tampa. He is also the co-founder of Driftwood Press. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Maudlin House, HOOT, The Fem, Inklette, and many others. His first small collection is due out from Rinky Dink Press in December 2016.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

A poem by Belinda Rimmer

Swindon Sky

Stop before you say Swindon is a cold,
heartless place to grow up.
I remember warm friends,
all of us misfits, strangers together.
Chatter came in every accent:
Romany Gypsy (they'd settled on the wasteland),
Cockney and Geordie too.
Play still brightened our days:
Kiss Chase, My Mother Said,
What's the Time Mr Wolf.

Between rows of new houses,
we built dens with discarded bricks,
felt connected to our urban landscape.
Peering down on our estate,
like a heron watching a tiddler,
Marlborough Downs -
a welcome shadow to green our grey.

While our new school got built,
we learnt in temporary classrooms,
newly erected and smelling of paint.
Scholarly words bounced off walls
and balanced on our heads,
toppled away before we'd caught them.
Those of us who cared,
read books.

In those days no one starved.
If our fathers got laid off the railways,
they found new jobs in factories.

Many of us never left.

I rarely go back now
except to visit Coate Water.
Her lake, woods, pathways;
promise of sky.

About Belinda
I have worked as a psychiatric nurse and school counsellor, taught dance/drama, creative writing and poetry in schools, and for a time lectured at a local university. My poems have appeared in various magazine, including Sarasvati, Dream Catcher, Brittle Star (pending) ARTEMISpoetry and The Broadsheet. Some have been published online - Ground, Open Mouth, Writers Against Prejudice, and I have poems in two anthologies. I enjoy writing short stories (but not as much as poetry) and recently won the Gloucestershire award for the Cheltenham Story Prize for a story about our infamous Banksy painting.

Monday, 27 March 2017

A poem by Donal Mahoney

Cold Water Raining between Them

Annie has a nice washing machine now
but she remembers the one her
mother had with the wringer,
the old-fashioned kind.

Her mother took in washing and when
the washing machine would break
Annie would become half the wringer.
Mother would hold the waist of wet pants

and Annie would grip the cuffs and
they’d twist in opposite directions,
the cold water raining between them.
Each pair of farmer’s pants

put food on the table. With six kids
food was important. To this day Annie
smiles when she remembers her
Mother never had to use a pants

stretcher in winter to make
her ironing a little bit easier.
She’d hang the pants out in the yard
and they’d freeze straight on the line.

One of many nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney
has had poetry and fiction appear in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found at

Thursday, 23 March 2017

A poem by Michael Paul Hogan


The dress she wore shone like a movie screen
before the movie. Like parachute silk.
Or the label on a bottle of vodka.
A collapsed star
absorbing color.

She was alone, that much was obvious
from the wary looks the other women gave her,
but her detachment was something deeper,
the loneliness of the vampire,
of Dracula’s daughter.

I watched her across the room,
holding but not drinking a pale blue cocktail
and staring intently at a (genuine) Mondrian
as though recognizing
her own abstraction.

Born in London in 1964, Michael Paul Hogan is a poet, journalist and literary essayist whose work has appeared extensively in the USA, UK, India and China. His poems have appeared in over thirty literary magazines and in six collections, the most recent of which, Chinese Bolero, illustrated by the great contemporary painter Li Bin, was published in 2015. After sixteen years living and working in Asia (most recently as Features Editor for Dalian Today in NE China) he recently relocated to England, where he is putting together a collection of short stories written over the last few years.

Monday, 20 March 2017

A poem by Sal Consoli

If we could Talk like Bumblebees

Glosa inspired by rupi kaur

You whisper
i love you
what you mean is
i don’t want you to leave
                                       rupi kaur (from milk and honey)

It is no offence to brew tea in a mug
you think flavour flourishes in a pot
I think your words could wear nicer clothes
If only you allowed more breath
into your mouth before speaking    then
you whisper:

It’s just another one of our differences
like when I drink black coffee
and you take it diluted with milk
from cows that deserve more respect
from vegetarians, then you say:
i love you

the only three words you can handle
with lightness like a child playing
with a fly in the garden words that float
escaping the grasp of your tongue
they could set two eyes on fire I know
what you mean is

that life has brought you here from there
pulling you away from fatherly arms
you’ve longed for like a bumblebee a geranium
but you couldn’t handle such delicacy
your words would drop like an avalanche still
I don’t want you to leave.

Sal is a teacher by profession. However, he developed a passion for poetry after discovering Byron. He has performed his poetry at festivals and arts events around the UK and Ireland. He has been an active member of the award-winning group Highgate Poets London who are currently working on their 27th anthology. He has also worked with the UK Poetry Society stanza group in Bristol, and is now actively engaged with the Brum stanza group at the Waterstones in Birmingham.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

A poem by Shikhandin

Before Winter

At this time of the year, a slant-eyed sun
sends down more shadow than light.
The soft tread of winter-fall
can be heard from beyond
the horizon. There are deaths
foreseen and foretold. In the descending
spiral of leaves, the closing
up of nests, and the vacancies
of cocoons. Burrows run deeper. Water
flows with greater urgency. As if
the onslaught of the chill will
arrest rivers and springs. And water
must, therefore, make up for it in advance. My heart
has received no notice of doom. Yet
it peeps out from the safety of its cage. Snorts
and stamps its feet like a sledge horse,
impatient with the hardening snow. I
can feel it. Something is sitting
on my shoulder. Each hair on my arms
springs upright, alarmed. Brittle
and sharp. My ears braced,
my side locks stiff, my terror un-screamed.
I dare not turn to see it.

Shikhandin is an Indian writer. Her short story collection, Immoderate Men has been published by Speaking Tiger Books, India -

Monday, 13 March 2017

2 poems by Claire Walker

Two Birds Join Me for Coffee

They must have heard the whistle of the kettle,
a sound, as if from their own beaks,
to signal an elevenses rest.

When I sat down at the kitchen table
those sparrows offered their chirping conversation,
tame as if I’d set a cup and saucer for them both.

As they cased the rafters for a nesting site
I could believe the room was airy,
that I too had feathers and a beakful of song. 

At the door I hoped their notes were promises
to return soon. As they flew higher than the roof
I felt the pinch of my own clipped wings.

Claire Walker’s poetry has appeared in magazines, anthologies and websites including The Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat and Tears, Prole, And Other Poems, and The Chronicles of Eve. Her first pamphlet, The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile, is published by V. Press.

Previously published on 12/01/2016

Under the Elm Tree

For Mary Anning

The sky fizzes,
sends bolts across its grey weight,
finds the easiest route to earth.

Under the elm tree
three women wait out the storm,
shelter under forked branches.

The sky is wilier
than they imagine. It snaps
anarchic fingers, strikes them dead.

Their arms hold a baby.
Sheltered by the stilled bodies,
she breathes anew.

A dull child until this rebirth.
See her eyes now conduct lightning.
See how she exhales electricity.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

A poem by Allie Long

How to End Up Alone

You said you’d prefer I knock
on your door unannounced,
either out of indifference
or a craving for brief suspense:
FedEx man, old friend, stranger,
murderer, mother, father,
Jehovah’s Witness. I could
be any of those people,
but like quantum entanglement,
all other possibilities are annihilated
when you look through
the peephole. Some days,
I am a day-early package
and others, I am asking
for a moment to speak
about our Lord and Savior.
Some nights, we play
video games and maybe kiss,
and others, you tell me
you've been sleeping when
you clearly haven't. But how
am I supposed to know?
Your only idea of an invite
is a text at 2 am, though
I’m in no position to start
a semantics debate.
The radio silence
of overly compensatory
disinterest fills the airwaves,
connecting both ends
of our street with uncertainty.
One this is a bad time
is all it takes to ruin a friendship,
a fuck-ship, or whatever
the fuck kind of ship we're on.
As a girl, I needed others
to tell me my doll was prettier
than everyone else’s, or else
I’d lose interest in make-believe:
that moment of becoming
everything my doll was said to be,
my addiction to superlatives
beginning at the age of seven.
When I am not the drunkest,
we’re nothing, and when I am,
you aren’t, so we are still nothing.
I’ve never liked being equal:
comparison as a stand-in
for inclusion. Apparently,
you are the same way,
and so is everyone else
I’ve ever been more or less than
of anything.

Allie Long is an economics and English double-major at the University of Virginia. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Words Dance, Bird's Thumb, Yellow Chair Review, as well as others. Read more of her work at

Monday, 6 March 2017

A poem by Bobby Steve Baker

Relativity or Einstein’s Psyche

two space ships in total darkness
                         travel at the speed of light in opposite directions

as they pass each other, a person in one shines a light from the floor
to a mirror on the ceiling and times the transit floor-ceiling-floor

an observer in the other sees the light make an A shape due to the passing
speed being 2xSL he measures the time it takes the light to make this shape

since the light makes an A for one observer and an I for the other
                      there must be a difference in the distance travelled

here is the equation; it isn’t complicated
                    Distance = Speed of Light x Time

given that the speed of light is fixed and the distance changes
                         time itself must be a variable

you are incredulous you say that can’t be right and I am sympathetic
but in fact it can’t be not right quantum physics demands it and

knowing this I realize that time will not hold me to this anger. I can let
it lapse
into whatever we mean when we say the past and nothing bad will happen

this tells me that everything is a variable love anger lust compassion
                                 when time speeds up and things are said
without thought

later we can slow time down to a thoughtful embrace
                                a delicate moment beneath the moon

shining heavenward at the speed of light, forever

Bobby Steve Baker grew-up on an Indian Reservation on the Canadian side of Lake Huron and still craves the Big Water. He now lives in Lexington Kentucky with his wife, several male offspring, who come and go, and a very large Airedale. He has published most recently in, The Tule Review, Town Creek Poetry, Kentucky Review, Cold Mountain Review and Prick of the Spindle. His latest book of poetry and art is “This Crazy Urge to Live” by Linnet’s Wings Press.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

A poem by Danny Fitzpatrick

Mary Jane’s Birthday

I see her still, three states away,
sagging in her sofa’s gentle jaws,
the big TV at the end of the room
competing in the gloom with the salt

light slapping off the unused pool
and massaging the ceiling's grey paint.
She sees them more these shorter weeks,
the Bali feathers of inflected sun.

The mindless screen screams her breathing,
her eighty-year ears ripping rabbits
from reality to thump the time,
slap the silver waves in place.

She doesn’t see the dust
descending to her threshed black lashes
and sprinkling the baby grand,
its lid left up since Lydia’s death.

The keys lead nowhere now.
The keys are locked,
laid away on hooks along her clavicle.

Her music’s grown hard as light
and silent as the mermaids’ psalms
bubbling up somewhere unseen.

Daniel Fitzpatrick grew up in New Orleans and now lives in Hot Springs, Arkansas, with his wife and daughter. He studied Philosophy at the University of Dallas, and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in several journals, including 2River View, Eunoia Review, Ink in Thirds, and Coe Review. He plans to finish his first novel this year.

Monday, 27 February 2017

A poem by Ben Kingsley

I Am

I am the black             and white        and red all over S&M priestess
howling           like biblical Wisdom
for Solomon’s sky-shattering             discernment from every street
corner. Peeling            apart this electronic newspaper          licking dark
wires fired       and my hair is kindling that I             break off to     ignite
our arguments that smell        so solipsistic    because I cannot
pluck off my nose       so you can smell         what I have smelled
or dip my kingfisher’s beak    into the eyes of a thousand    lidless
little stories: goldfish              heads who have no voice        yet I know some cry
for: “Tyrannicide!”      I get it. We’re both     rocking            down the back of every
blue donkey,   dancing down the trunk          of every claret-red       elephant,
sucking            the shaft of a thousand            golden trumpets, and was it Uncle
Calvin who said that   on Jesus’ thigh a name is        tattooed that no one
knows but Himself?
            Revelation I am.
Telling my children    about Rumpelstiltskin’s scalp             bought and sold
and thrown      from the spread corollas of     my finger tips so that the child
on my lap can              imagine          what I used to, as I read to him even if only
for a little while, for ahead there is grief        and great trials. He doesn’t
need to know about     blood   swirling in a wine-dark scrim             shanked
from a fleeing Arab’s side because for now               I am
the pink mist   sprayed on a table       collected          in pouches methamphetamines
wailing to be               snorted so I can soar through your     lymph nodes and remind
you that when you were six    years old there were only two             women you
loved your       mother and your mother and your mother—and—
my fear is
            not that I Am
failing at anything. but rather             succeeding at those things      which do not really matter.

Ben Kingsley is best known for his Academy Award winning role as Mahatma Ghandi. This Ben is a touch less famous. He hasn't acted since a third grade debut as the undertaker in Music Man. Currently, he is a Michener Fellow, VONA: Voices of our Nation Scholar, and belongs to the Onondaga Nation of Indigenous Americans in New York. He holds an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. Most recently his work has been published in Prairie Schooner and Diverse Voices Quarterly.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

A poem by Jennie Owen

Pastoral care

Your voice is cramped and tinny at the end
of the line. Is it you that crackles
or the bad connection? I do not know.
I do not know you. But I see the bitten
peach of your face, the juice staining
the down on your cheeks. 

You tell me how
the neighbours steal your fruit for drugs;
that you’re bugged, a microchip
in every last grape as they fuzz and jelly
in the bowl. You do not know what you
will do. I do not know what you will do.

You’re afraid to unbolt the door,
to allow anyone in. To let anything out.
When I disconnect, I still do not know you,
but your sighs in the darkness
are like family playing to a different chord.

Jennie Owen is a teacher of creative writing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines. She lives with her husband and their three children in Lancashire.

Monday, 20 February 2017

A poem by Mandy Macdonald

wages for housework

‘not working?’
not getting paid, i was thinking as i
rearranged the furniture
staked my best geranium, which hitherto
had been fending quite well for itself
against the windowpane
you’ll not call me in-
efficient (liberating the ex-Oxfam
armchair from behind the door where
no-one ever sat in it)
just hand me that feather duster and

don’t say i never get anything done
you think i’m lazy but i’m just
and you can’t complain about that
(filing papers in chronological/alphabetical order)
when i have the time i go through the motions
making new rooms for old
getting paid
getting laid
getting laden
with guilt is getting

ha! there’s a pound here
down the side, i knew it

the geranium nodded its heavy scarlet head
agreeing with every single word i said

Mandy Macdonald lives in Aberdeen, trying to make sense of the 21st – and earlier – centuries. Music and gardening keep her sane. She lived in Cuba for a while in the 1980s, and it still pops up now and then in her poetry. She has been writing poems for most of her life, but only recently could be persuaded to show them to anyone. You can see some of them in the anthologies Outlook Variable and Extraordinary Forms (Grey Hen Press), Poetry Scotland, The Fat Damsel, Triadae, Far-Off Places, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Ground: Poetry, faith and doubt, and elsewhere.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

A poem by Sharon Larkin

Lone wolf

All alone on the canyon rim,
he sniffs the air, deciphers scents,
to find out what a state she's in
and where she is, right now.
He watches as she skips along,
mindless to danger overhead.
He squints to see beyond mere skin
to former wounds, panting heart.

She's no more than a little kid,
neat feet silent on the scree.
He melts, a mystery, back to stone,
snaps lids tight to dim his gaze,
drops to haunches, tracker-mode,
stalks with stealth the undergrowth.
Now she senses that he's near,
nose to earth, sniffing musk.

He visits every place she's been,
studies what she's left for him,
tastes, licks lips, laps her up
just to dismiss this oral bliss
to deal with a more base desire.
Soon his teeth will gnash on bone,
saliva, froth and blood will blend.
She will learn what's eating her
is him alone.

Sharon Larkin's poems have been published in anthologies (eg Cinnamon, Eyewear, Indigo Dreams), in magazines (including Prole, Obsessed with Pipework, Here Comes Everyone, Reach), on-line (eg Clear Poetry, Stare’s Nest, Ground, Rat's Ass Review, Grievous Angel, Open Mouse) and she has work forthcoming at Ink, Sweat & Tears. Sharon is Chair of Cheltenham Arts Council, was Chair of Cheltenham Poetry Society (2011 - 2015), is on the committee of Gloucestershire Writers' Network and organizes Poetry Café - Refreshed in Cheltenham. She has an MA in Creative Writing and a passion for Welsh language, literature and history.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Nominations for 'The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem'

For the first time The Forward Prize is open for all online poetry sites to submit nominations for the best single poem. An opportunity I didn't want to squander the opportunity, so I spent some time revisiting the past year's poetry and what a brilliant pleasure it was. After shortlisting, I have put forward the following three poems as Amaryllis' nominations. I hope you enjoy them too.

Leila K. Norako - Teaching on a Gun-Friendly Campus: A Brief Guide*

Maggie Mackay - How to Distil a Guid Scotch Malt

Ryan Warren - The Ravens of Japan

I'd also like to add a special mention to the following poem which was not eligible as it was part of a collection before the cut-off date - but it is one of my favourites.

Catherine Ayres - Single-breasted

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A poem by Kathryn Alderman

Roll Up The Rug

Let’s wind the years to a tight rug-roll,
pin it out to air to huff
past participles
from its comfy nap.

We’ll unlock the cellar door,
open the high windows
for strange breezes charged
with vanilla and spices.

We made this house with Lego and lullabies,
sweet nights, responsible days,
the ebb and flow
of shouts and songs,
and daemons battled
with our wooden swords.

The path ahead runs shorter
than the one behind.
Come love,
let’s travel light —
here’s a picnic of our favourite things.

Kathryn Alderman -- @kmalderman1 – was an actor for 15 years before becoming a mum and her poetry often dramatises the nuances of human life. Competitions: won Canon Poets’ ‘Sonnet or Not’ (2012), Gloucestershire Writers’ Network runner-up (2012). Publications include: Dear World (Frosted Fire Press, 2014), Salt on the Wind (Elephants Footprint 2015), Last Word in Art (Wilson Art Gallery/Museum 2017). Readings: BBC Radio 4; Cheltenham Literary Festival; Poetry Can Bristol and regularly at Cheltenham’s Buzzwords Poetry Café; Poetry Café Refreshed and with Cheltenham Poetry Festival’s ‘Festival Players’. Kathryn and husband Cliff are herded around Gloucester by enthusiastic Border collie, Isla.

Monday, 13 February 2017

A poem by Abigale Louise LeCavalier

Sweet Jane

She's in love
with the moon
in black cherry skies,
it reminds her of the killing
dark waters
of her mind.

Swept away and under
feeling the pressure
like a Spanish butterfly,
her brain is on fire
walking on dark sands.

And she doesn't feel the rain
it's already a part of her,
the thunder
a play on words
she heard so many times before;
a not so comforting reminder
of how broken
she's become.

Alone in the tide
with a turtle and a fish,
she waits to be carried away
or to drown and die.

And she knows she's mad
and she knows frustration.

Sick and tired
of waiting for something to happen.

Abigale Louise LeCavalier lives in San Diego California by way of Mammoth Lakes California. An admittedly 'self absorbed poet' and full time Alien, Abigale writes from the heart. Most of her pieces are dark and revealing narratives of things and issues she has had to deal with in her life. Giving the reader a look on the not so bright side of life.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

A poem by Quinn White


What's beautiful?

          Floating, daughter.



Mermaids. Bluebirds. Karate Tuesdays.
Paisley diamonds. Daisy tiaras.

          You're a cowlick of air,
          dust beneath books. I talk to myself.

Fairy tales. Glow sticks. Rapunzel's hair.
Willows. Ghost story shivers.

          I call you "Ghost Daughter."
          I build a house for you to haunt.

I already live on Peachtree Street.

          Your haunted house
          is close to complete.

My mother saws invisible wood.
Nails invisible planks.
Raises a haunted house.

I walk within her mirrors.

Who are you talking to?

          A question.

A crush.

          An orchid pinned to satin.

Quinn White is the author of My Moustache (Dancing Girl Press, 2013) and Orienteering (Origami Poems Project, 2013). Her poems have appeared in journals such as Sixth Finch, Word Riot, Hot Metal Bridge, and The Adroit Journal. She is a graduate of Virginia Tech's MFA creative writing program and is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee.

Monday, 6 February 2017

A poem by Al Ortolani

Roseland Road House 

You left me after I was
knocked to the dance floor
by a boy with storied knuckles, more
seasoned, more muscled than I,
one of many who couldn’t hold
your gaze. As I was shuffled
from the back door, supported
by two of my friends,
I wish you had followed me
into the parking lot, and explained
the gap between us.
Anything would have sufficed,
even a lie, a story about the man
I was trying to become.

Al Ortolani’s newest collection of poems, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. His poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, and Word Riot. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has recently been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. Currently, he teaches English in the Kansas City area.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

A poem by Stephen Mead

From Fotheringay Maze

A resident of NY, Stephen Mead is a published artist, writer, maker of short-collage films and sound-collage downloads. His latest P.O.D. amazon release is an art-text hybrid, “According to the Order of Nature (We too are Cosmos Made)”, a work which takes to task the words which have been used against LGBT folks from time immemorial. In 2014 he began a webpage to gather links of his poetry being published in such zines as Great Works, Unlikely Stories, Quill & Parchment, etc., in a site called Poetry on the Line.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

2 poems by Kitty Coles

The Pain

Drops from on high, sudden as an inkblot,
seeps its Rorschach fingers through clear water.

It stirs and churns, dark birds against pale sky.
Its bills come into play, its eager claws.

It creeps my bones like insects, like an army.
It colonises, takes up residence.

It spreads its roots, weighs anchor, builds a nest,
flooding the limbs like lava or like blood.

I wear it like a coat. It wraps me tight
and blankets me in dark for days and days.

Like ivy, it winds me with creeping arms.
It feeds itself on me, grows sleek and fat,

a kraken-squid breaking the ocean's surface,
claiming my territory as its own.

Kitty lives in Lightwater, Surrey, and works as an adviser for a charity supporting disabled people. She has been writing since she was a child and her poetry has appeared in magazines including Mslexia, Iota, Obsessed With Pipework, The Interpreter's House, Frogmore Papers and Ink Sweat and Tears.

First published 21/07/2016


You were the best of all my progeny,
chip of my soul, a sprite of fire and air.
I watched you grow, I taught you how to be,
believed you pure as the breath I made you with,
blood of my blood, eyes wet with my own tears,
gave you my hair and nails, dear voodoo imp.

It was from love for you I turned you loose.
You bayed for freedom and I set you free
to scuttle like a leaf down night-time streets.
I feared the wind would blow you in the river,
feet stomp you flat, a starved cat gulp you down,
but set my fears aside to please you, heart-mouse.

Now you're full grown, o how you disappoint me!
You're dirty faced and pick up dirty habits.
Your words are scraped from gutters, dregs of bottles.
You strut like a cock on a muckheap, crow and cackle.
You're red of wattle, feet scabby as a pigeon's,
rat-toothed and greedy, muncher of old peelings.

Your clothes are heavy with ribbons, tawdry sequins,
you seize in your magpie fists and scarper with.
Your nails grow long and click like a dog's
as you beetle up walls, through windows,
in search of gewgaws. The sound of them scares
decent people indoors, closing their curtains.
O ram of many horns, o mucky baby,
o bull-bellied roarer, o my nasty pet!

Monday, 30 January 2017

A poem by A.J. Huffman

The Sensation of Light

is like the soft petting of a hand
intent on delivering pleasure to skin
starving for warmth. This subtle
silken movement designed to generate
the slightest friction becomes a kiss
that could shatter glass. The explosion
that follows is a slow-motion montage
of erotic misery, not that it matters.
The falling, not the remaining,
pieces are the point.

A.J. Huffman has published thirteen full-length poetry collections, thirteen solo poetry chapbooks and one joint poetry chapbook through various small presses. Her most recent releases, The Pyre On Which Tomorrow Burns (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink), A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press), and Familiar Illusions (Flutter Press) are now available from their respective publishers. She is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2600 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, The Bookends Review, Bone Orchard, Corvus Review, EgoPHobia, and Kritya. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

2 poems by Paul Tristram

Top Hat Lane’s Furthest Lamppost

They found him dangling
by a knotted, old, dirty cravat
she had given him, with smiles
and kisses, five Christmases before.
Swaying slightly anticlockwise
above a puddle of piss the shape of Wales.
A jackdaw squawking the alarm
from just above his right shoulder.
As Milkmen churn their early hours
and the petrichor steamed off his Crombie coat.
He had climbed an invisible yet mental
and emotional makeshift ladder
up and into the waiting room next door.
Those tattooed hands
which had once fought battles
and lovingly cradled babies
now hung limply by his side.
They found a broken crucifix
inside his waistcoat pocket
next to a folded police station bail form
and a lock of woven Celtic red hair.
He was cut down by the Butcher
and laid in the gutter by the side of the road.
Until the horses had eaten their oat breakfast
and the Undertaker a signature to spare.

First published 23/05/2016

No More Punches

She’s the oldest
homeless person in town.
Scuppers down
in one of the old
disused shunt
railway wagons
close to the edge
of the industrial estate.
Spends most of the day
in the private doorway
next to Mothercare.
She has the only case
of Tourette’s
I’ve ever heard
not involving swear words.
Instead she spontaneously
“No More Punches!”
everybody calls her Judy
and the youngsters
have fun baiting her
with their cruel gameplay.
And it’s hard to approach her,
what with the extreme smell
and the verbal outbursts.
But the few that do,
I watch intently.
For although
I’m more spiritual
than religious.
It’s the closest thing
I’ve witnessed to Heaven.

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet.

Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press)  ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ and a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope. You can also read his poems and stories here!

Monday, 23 January 2017

2 poems by Abegail Morley

Lifting the Lid

We aren’t supposed to meet in life. It’s so wet,
pavements have lost their grip, a stretch of salted path
carves its way between us. When we do touch

it’s like a sudden call from a darkened room,
an ungloved hand plunged into ice, a shrapnel wound.
And so we meet in this scrubbed city, shed our skins

in doorways where bygone women scoured steps
till their knuckles bled, hands buckled like old machinery.
They’re archived too, shelved by age, arranged by date.

We clutter the stacks, feel his hands hover over us –
wonder if he’ll pause, single us out, lift lid, spill
contents that babble in lost tongues. But he doesn’t. 

Boxed in 

I’m the girl trapped in the box, stomach
an empty honeycomb,
gold drained,
dull lustre,
tinny when touched
by a raised hand.

My sentence noosed, half-said,
latches to lips,
a parasite with arrhythmic heart.
I recite a shopping list
of incidentals:
a quarter pound of cherries

(I can almost taste their sweetness, but not quite).

The Skin Diary from Nine Arches Press is Abegail Morley’s fourth collection. Her debut, How to Pour Madness into a Teacup was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection. Snow Child and Eva and George are published by Pindrop Press, The Memory of Water is an Indigo Dreams pamphlet. She is co-founder of EKPHRASIS commissioning poets to respond to, and perform at exhibitions including The Royal Academy and The British Library. She was Canterbury Poet of the Year 2015 and blogs at The Poetry Shed

Thursday, 19 January 2017

3 poems by Gareth Culshaw

Empty Headed

The box sat on his neck
is the coffin of his father.
His eyes have not woken
since that last turn of spade.

He is vacant of the world
like a hand in a glove.
He walks the aisles as if in a

The different voices that come
from his grave gut. Sometimes
make you wonder if he knows
what he’s saying.

When will the door be opened
to allow him to leave I do not know.
But we are all dead to him
just like cattle awaiting the hook.

Gareth Culshaw is an aspiring writer who has been published in different magazines across the U.K.


First published on 18th August 2016.

Passing Trees

I see old friends like passing trees
their lives spreading maps and rings.

One, for all his strength, stare and growl
was struck by a storm that brought him down.

Some sprouted branches like sea anemone
gasping for air, gasping to be seen.

Another has left behind a skeleton of himself
having been and gone, life too short.

I see old friends today as I pass by and by.


First published on 9th February 2016.


Once there was life upon you,
growing up, growing strong.

Until you came to a stop
setting out your figure amongst the rest.

Today your shadow weakens
as you erode back to the earth:

As a child I came to you for support
to build my cartilage and bone.

Your rock face in morning light
deep in slumber, ravaged by weather.

For years we have walked all over you
pushing you deeper, further away.

One day you will be gone
then we will walk in silence, grieving.

Monday, 16 January 2017

A poem by Patricia Walsh

Razor Wire

You cut yourself on a path to freedom
gouging a desire, a nature discerning
through a glass brightly, a revelation sure.

Beautiful creatures cut you to the quick
the dead carve memorabilia on your able skin,
powdered initiatives sucking dryness bare.

Cat bell on my wrist, no impending danger
necessitates the sound of a caged cat's wiles.
An antichrist's calling, a damned's response.

Climbing over illicit walls, wires to be cut
could you walk for miles and miles and miles
after various incisions, bleeding from tenacity.

You make your escape, ragged though it is.
Paths to freedom wet from endurance
immaterial, for the last time, now defunct.

Relationship status, disappeared
once over the edge, you are gone for dust,
hitting the ground stumbling, speaking mania.

An open coffin eats at your speed
at which your escape is found wanting
flourishing in headstones, a triumph remembered.

No funeral can cull you, no burial discern
a cartoon existence suiting you fine
a remembrance of a kind, a suture redeemed.

Patricia Walsh was born in Burn Fort in 1976. Previously she has published a collection of poetry, titled Continuity Errors, in 2010, and has since been published in a number of journals across Ireland, the UK, and the US.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

A poem by Ann Leahy

Cellulite Bandits

for (but not about) my sisters   

We are the cellulite bandits.
We threaten with a flash of thigh.
From editors of Tabloids, we enquire
‘Why stick to breasts if you like wobbly bits?’

We strut on beaches wearing scarlet
thongs, urging other bathers not to hide -
‘Admit it, dimples do look cute on thighs.’
We are the cellulite bandits.

Coffee, clotted cream, chocolate with red wine –
we publish diets that are good for it,
campaign for stipple, champion wood chip
and threaten with a flash of thigh.

We raid department stores, mount pickets
over sales of firming gel. ‘CHOOSE CELLULITE.’
our placards say, ‘THIGH-DIMPLE PRIDE.’
We are the cellulite bandits.

On Rubens’ birthday, we arrange for picnics
at pool sides – dress optional. Guests vie
to win the titles ‘Lumpiest’, ‘Ms Jellified.’
We are the cellulite bandits.
We threaten with a flash of thigh.

(This poem was previously published in the collection 'The Woman who Lived her Life Backwards' Arlen, 2008)

Ann Leahy’s first collection, ‘The Woman who Lived her Life Backwards,’ (Arlen House, 2008) won the Patrick Kavanagh Award. Individual poems have also won or been placed in national competitions in Ireland and the U.K. (such the Gerard Manley Hopkins, The New Writer, the Poetry on the Wall, Clogh Writers,’ and others) and she has twice had poems commended in the British National Poetry Competition. She was also shortlisted for a Hennessy award. Her poems have been published widely in journals and anthologies. She grew up in Co. Tipperary and lives in Dublin.

Monday, 9 January 2017

A poem by Jeffrey Heath

Wedding Rings You’ve Lost Along the Way


The first
                   (not your real mother's
but she took you to raise)
sleeps like ashes in a box,
etching smoothed to a sigh
over years of turning it 'round
holding the stone in her palm
through every Sunday service.


Your husband's,
                    cut away in a sterile room
from a swollen, bloodless finger,
a day after you disclosed the affair.
Stray fist against the stone walls of
a home in a storm, slowly melted,
never realizing what was broken,
No way to save it, they said;
now he wears it as a groove,
bone raised around empty space.


Then it was your own
stolen by a whisper of current,
surfacing from the Gulf waters.
You renewed your vows there:
a beach outside Pensacola,
salt in your hair & a sting on your lips.
Eighteen years, give or take a separation.
Hands naked,
                                  joined together
remarried to an ocean.

Jeffrey Heath formerly lived as a cat stalking the shores of South Florida. He currently lives in Memphis, TN where he works for a non-profit. His work has appeared online and in print in PSH, Eunoia Review, Synesthesia Literary Journal, The Syzygy Poetry Journal, and as a Goodreads monthly feature among others.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

A poem by Stuart Bartholomew


At swingball speed, the wren
arcs towards the square
of light. The spittoon clang
of beak on glass chills;

the bird hitting laminate
is the soft touch of a brush.

Will small birds ever
forgive us for erecting
invisible walls across
banks of open sky?

Will we ever forgive them
for being able to fly?

Stuart Bartholomew runs a large bookshop in the centre of Birmingham. He is a founding member of Birmingham’s new Poetry Society Stanza Group, and was recently asked by Writing West Midlands to judge this year’s Birmingham Laureate contest. He is Co-director and Lead Programmer of Verve: A new Birmingham Festival of Poetry and Spoken Word which is scheduled for 16-19 February 2017. Sometimes, he writes poetry.

Monday, 2 January 2017

A poem by Frances Sackett


The stars have kept their places
but youth has vanished, taking
all its haunting love songs.

We push age away but catch it
looming: faces of parents,
dead or alive, freeze the future.

But we are still in love.
The ‘other half’ - that hated phrase -
speaks to Death, asking how

the widowed one will gain their independence,
when independence is a childish whim
and only leaves one bond to form another.

And Death replies dispassionately:
The poison plant, the treacherous cliff,
fidelity is death in one another’s arms.

About Frances Sackett
I have written and published poetry for many years. Poems have appeared in numerous UK magazines and anthologies and I have a poetry collection called 'The Hand Glass' from Seren. I also write short stories and travel pieces.

Friday, 30 December 2016

A poem by Tom Sastry

Before entering 2017

Try to see clearly what it is you love.
Whatever you love, be honest.
If it is your family, more than the world
do not be ashamed.
If it is your cat
or the smother of the morning bed
or a certain goal scored at Wembley in the 1970s
have no regrets.
Be proud of your love.
Bring it to mind. Bring it to the front
ahead of all other concerns.
It is hard to do but not impossible.
Hold it, as literally as you can, in your hands.
It is touching you. Touch it back.
Say goodbye.
You need to get it out of the country.
You need to preserve it.
Write it, draw it, pickle it, cure it
freeze it, hide it, bury it,
put it in a bottle,
tell it to a friend,
carry it in the hollow sole of an old shoe
to wherever it will be safe.

And when hope has bolted
into the deepest cave of your belly
hiding from all the temporary things,
the memory of your love will have a form
and you can summon it -

when its lightness feels like an insult,
when you need it most.

Tom Sastry is a poet and spoken word artist living in Bristol. He has been widely published in print and online. In 2015 six of his poems were selected from tens of thousands for inclusion in the anthology The best of 52. He was chosen by Carol Ann Duffy as one of the 2016 Laureate’s Choice poets and his debut pamphlet Complicity was published by Smith/Doorstop in October 2016.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

2 poems by Grant Tarbard

The Process of Becoming Smaller

When the days go timid as a blind mouse
my goose flesh will sag like a rice pudding.

Eyebrows of a thousand motions,
as alive as a galvanised corpse.

The reanimated quiver of a left eye,
adjoining muscles contort into an ox jaw grimace.

A morel nose designed to shatter,
fighting the solid shade of it's being.

The cadaverous contraction of a smile
is in the process of becoming smaller,

callous as a rosary
beneath a bistro of greasy hair.

About Grant Tarbard

I am the former editor of The Screech Owl, co-founder of Resurgant Press, a reviewer, and a poetry reader for Three Drops From A Cauldron.

I am the author of the collection As I Was Pulled Under the Earth (Lapwing Publications), as well as the chapbook Yellow Wolf (Writing Knights Press). My third book, Loneliness is the Machine that Drives the World (Platypus Press) was released in May of this year. I have two pamphlets on the horizon, one with Indigo Dreams, one with Three Drops Press.

First published on 15/12/2015

Winter Garden

The lover, wrapped up in a snug blanket, 
a cocoon she'll prize apart when paper 
cut sheaths of a late dawn break over the 
mechanical tick of the horizon.

Her tangle of eyes, compressed tight into 
the sofa cushion, ignore the chalky 
pigmented powder of a diffracting 
winter, loyal to an image of the 

past. I worry about floating, how long 
do I sit here? I dangle on a string 
of ears listening to your chest rise and 
fall as if its attached to a ballon.

I ignore all sounds but whispers of ghosts, 
thrushes singing in their winter garden.

Monday, 26 December 2016

A poem by Alicia Hoffman

Every Day I Discover Something

A carpenter ant curling the lip of the dog’s dish.
A cutworm moth clinging to the kitchen towel.

Just yesterday, corn tassels grew like unicorn horn
from what we had hastily planted in infertile soil.

There is a man that lives on the corner who speaks
no English beyond Good Morning, How Are You?

Every day I discover him near the garage of his house
trying to tune an ancient radio, unrig a washer, dryer,

fridge. A junk collector, he drives the city on Thursdays,
crams treasures into a rusted-out van. The fact I speak

no Spanish shames me. I smile and nod and wave.
Walk away. I am aging. At night I slather creams

on the creases of my face. I measure appropriate intakes
of sugar, salt. Every day I discover more ants. Unsure

of where they are coming from I take the small hose
of the vacuum and suck them up. If I’m killing them

or giving them a wild ride they can climb out of
I do not know. Too many hold on to God. Only He

gives us what we can handle, the church ladies say. Days
I feel I am saved from some mysterious being coming

to squash me like a bug under a boot I don’t say a prayer.
I see the crabgrass grow and the clover speckle the lawn

like small stars. Most of us are strong enough untested.
By day, I weed out the dandelions. By night, they rise.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Alicia Hoffman now lives, writes, and teaches in Rochester, New York. Her poems have appeared recently in Radar, Redactions: Poetry and Poetics, A-Minor Magazine, Word Riot, Hermeneutic Chaos, The Inflectionist Review, and elsewhere. Her second collection , Railroad Phoenix, is coming out early 2017.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

A poem by Justin Hilliard

the production that is my life

the curtain rises
ENTER wailing child
carried to the next room
by DOC in scrubs
and circumcised

act 1
child grows and is closely watched by
MOTHER who goes back to work in the
factory when he turns 4 and FATHER
who stayed in the factory to pay for
a growing newborn and a high
maintenance wife
churches come and go,
but nothing really sticks with him, nor
does anything noteworthy happen for the
next twelve years until he
gets laid by SUZZIE who
never knew what she wanted
and only has
4 lines of dialogue
child graduates and goes to college
mostly for the solitude of his dorm

act 2
characters dance on and off the stage, but too few
stay until the curtain call
child tries to maintain his grades, but
he drinks and smokes
until life moves along in the
blur he’d been looking for
enter the love of his life SASHA or was it MONICA?
settle on GIRLFRIEND
who moves into his dorm
where their grades can plummet
child’s FRIENDS are numerous and mostly the same
coked up party kids and ne’er do wells
he’d ran with his entire life
child smokes a pack and a half a day,
but girlfriend wants him to stop

act 3
during the intermission you missed
child drop out of college after
graduating to two packs a day and losing
his girlfriend
he found a job at the factory
on a recommendation.
he grew old fast and did
nothing noteworthy
child signed up for mature dating
and found someone as lonely as him
named WINNIE, the name lingered in
his throat like the booze
he quit years ago
child retires from the factory
with hardened blisters as his
sole severance

the curtain falls
the show is over

Justin Hilliard reads and writes along the beaches of his native sunshine state, where he also edits his literary journal, The Chaotic Review

Monday, 19 December 2016

A poem by C.J. Miles

Something Not About a Damselfly

There is a sky, I'm told, above
Everything: drunk, dizzy,
Screaming, I gave you rivers,
I gave you cancer, what more?
Why are you always calling to me?
I am always calling to you.
I've spent the last eight hours flirting
With the walls between us.
Living alone, what a dumb way
To be, so I am giving up on being
Good at anything that isn’t you.
There is a sky, I’m told, above
Everything, and today you are
That sky, a scratched record
That keeps skipping: hip thigh,
Hip, thigh, your funny bone,
A laugh track to everything
That makes your spine blush.
Imagine if dragonflies breathed
Fire, imagine the sun stopped
Paying rent. Watch me forget
Everything that came before you.
Watch the sky, always above
Everything, gripping what we know
To be the ends of tomorrow.

C.J. Miles lives in Iowa with his wife. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Forage, Eunoia Review, and Algebra of Owls. Follow him on Twitter at @cjmilespoet.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

2 poems by Maurice Devitt

Mrs Mourinho’s Weekly Shop

She plans with liquid precision,
her hand-written list a fragment
of cursive joy and every week
she tailors the formation.

When she learned that attack
was the best form of defence,
she front-loaded with red meat
and carbs, added extra sugar,

leaving the fruit and veg to sweep
up at the back. When she thinks
the going is likely to be soft
she will pick a team of cereals

and pulses, enough roughage
to facilitate a passing game.
Is comfortable in Tesco’s
but when playing away

in Lidl or Aldi, she expects
a more continental form
of open shopping, parks
the bus and believes every item

to be ripe for substitution.
She was one of the first to spot
the potential of kale, scouted it
in a small speciality shop

on the other side of town
and completed a swap that included
the young, sprouting broccoli.
Happy at first with its

performance, particularly
when partnered with potato,
latterly she found it
too green and had fallen back

on two experienced heads,
cauliflower and cabbage,
old-fashioned but reliable.
As the shopping window

closes, she has been tipped off
about a young, versatile
foreign star, but is worried that
quinoa may just be a flash in the pan.

Previously published on 2nd February 2016

Raft of the Medusa

After Gericault

The sea swells and the boat bares its teeth,
stands tall, pushes into the crowded waves,

His skin becomes porous as he clutches
loose handles of air, weight drains

and his arms are like ribbons flapping,
his face flattened by the wind.

He feels himself swallow the storm,
gulp it down until it rages inside and out,

eyes rolling in concert with the sea. No time
to consider the sacrifices made to get here,

no time to scan for the cropped shape
of Lampedusa, for now he must scramble

with the flotsam of death, swaddle his son
against seething eyes and treacherous hands,

count every breath, forget the words
for panic and fear, because today

may never spell tomorrow, and hope
is impossible to calibrate, when every hour

seems to sneak in extra minutes and the men,
who survived last month, are found

smothered in an English lay-by.

About Maurice Devitt

A graduate of the MA in Poetry Studies at Mater Dei, he is the recent winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition 2015. He has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, the Listowel Writers’ Week Collection Competition and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. He has had poems published in various journals in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia and is a founder member and chairperson of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.