Thursday, 20 October 2016

A poem by Sarah L. Dixon

Woodland Burial

Feed nature
let scattered plaques of fat
be a platter
for fatter cats
and Natterjacks

my duodenum
would feed them
for the longest season

Feed nature
An evil force ignores
an enormous dormouse
to gnaw my jaw ajar

Feed nature
Weasels deem it feasible
That feet’ll be
a reasonable neat meat treat

Therapy failed to save her
Now starving strays savour
The flavour of her navel

Sarah L Dixon tours as The Quiet Compere. She has been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, The Lake and Clear Poetry among others. Sarah’s inspiration comes from being by water and adventures with her five-year old, Frank. She is still attempting to write better poetry than Frank did aged 4!

Monday, 17 October 2016

A poem by Emily R. Frankenberg

A Chronology

My grandmother referenced dates in cats:
“Oh, that was in the time of Pixie the First,”
or “Those were the days of Mittens,”
elevating them to the status of dynasties
or perhaps of Old Testament prophets.
The interregnums were brief and generally
relatable in dogs, or in apartments, or in hamsters.
Thus, a bird flew into my mother’s birthday cake
sometime at the height of the reign of Teddy,
and I was born in the decline of Pixie the Second.
I miss this way of classifying dolls and Halloweens,
kitchens abuzz and yards of fireflies illuminating dusks:
the things that chafe against the measure of a day.
I miss the angle of her lilt bent toward a village in the rain
across the jagged wound of ocean intervening.
I wrote her phrases in a notebook in a print now obsolete
in the era of Snowy and my recurring C’s in penmanship.
Some would have said it was Scotch-Irish dialectology,
but for me it was her voice, and when I try to hear it now,
it comes back staticky and odd. I heard her clearly once,
not knowing it would be for the last time,
in the overlapping reign of Tinkerbell and Mittens.

Emily R. Frankenberg was born in New Jersey and graduated from the University of Delaware in 2004 with degrees in Spanish and English Language and Literature. In 2006, she moved to Seville, Spain, where she continues to live. She writes in both Spanish and English and has been published in the United States, Spain and Colombia.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

A poem by Caty Lee

Who would like to nominate the white blood cell count
For the Zelda Fitzgerald emotional maturity award?

Some skid-free mats,
Misrepresentation by wheel chairs,
A hospital elevator in non-repair.
Sort of reductionist, but

the thin scope down my throat loves my
California-poppy esophagus
denoting acceptance
of scandal by strategic eye contact.

It’s never sunny anywhere except the muscles
Of Mesa, Arizona. Lesions large enough to be seen by the naked eye,
And my platelet count clicks into
Chromosome avalanches in the spinal
tapping irony from the sidewalks of Eastern Standard Time.

The fruitful doubts that emerge when eyeing my CT scan,
Subliminal messages from some German electronic band,
Some cancer of the gut I’ve been meaning to get beyond.

Caty Lee likes third-person biographical information, clementines, the mind-body problem, and synthesizing with literary texts. As far as she understands it, honest writing is about tending to the sore back and the philosophical leanings at the time of deliberation. It isn’t about conforming to a self-sponsored concept of what a reader wants to see. She is an English major at St. Bonaventure University and hopes to embark on an MFA program after completing a bachelor’s degree.

Monday, 10 October 2016

A poem by Linda Leedy Schneider

I Can’t Forget

    the lilac bushes or the secret space
in the center of their circle,
sheltered from the sun.

I can’t forget   
    the sound of bees gathering nectar
from lavender trumpets,
or jazz drifting from an open window.

I can’t forget
    the lingering taste of buckwheat pancakes
and syrup from the sap of our maple tree.

I can’t forget
    the feel of my first grade books
or the joy of reading them over and over.

I can’t forget
    my hideaway protected by heart-shaped leaves,
or the boy, visitor next door, who intruded.

I can’t forget
    the music, the scent of lilacs,
my books, his hands,

or his grandmother who said I lied.

Previously published in Peninsula Poets

Linda Leedy Schneider, poetry and writing mentor and psychotherapist in private practice, was awarded the 2012 Contemporary American Poetry Prize by Chicago Poetry. She has written six collections of poetry including Some Days: Poetry of a Psychotherapist (Plain View Press) and has edited two collections of poetry written by poets whom she has mentored: Mentor’s Bouquet (Finishing Line Press) and Poems From 84th Street (Pudding House Publications 2010).

Thursday, 6 October 2016

A poem by Elena Croitoru


Two countries ago, mother
spread like the horizon. Immutable.

She is now crayoned in sepia ink.
The borders have shrunk her.
Must not go back,
for she is thinner every time.
A sliver of feeling leaves me.

Her skin is heavy, full of lines assembled into a map
of wrongs and rights.
Her heart is a violin filled with water,
no longer echoing.

She must be looking at the bones of a memory
past the bedroom eaten by black threads.
She must be sliding her fingers
on the umber desk, like I used to.

I did not tell her the stars took me in.
I used to climb up there
when it got too loud.

If she were to see it too
the cold forever, disguised in trembling light,
the cemetery of young thoughts,
her life would fall into mine and
we would fold the world into what
it was supposed to be.

Elena Croitoru is based in London and is working on poetry, short stories and novels. She is currently studying for the Diploma in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Slink Chunk Press, Foliate Oak, The Front Porch Review and other magazines. One of her stories has been selected as an Editors' Choice in Bewildering Stories' Fourth Quarterly Review of 2015. She also works as a software developer.

Monday, 3 October 2016

A poem by Jane Burn


Rest, they say. The vanquished heart
                                              is a peaceful heart,
no more need for questing. The victory
                                   is soft, soft
as the invisible fall of a wasted eyelash, but definite
as railtracks. You can pass into legend, now. I have
a file for you, between
                        this and that,
            him and her,
   them and it.
                       flicka-flicka-flicka-flicka -
I got you stuck in this moment, just as I come
in a room and your head goes up
                                    goes up-goes-up-goes-up.
The colour of your iris is immaterial.
Smile a little. Who ever knew what you
were thinking anyhow? I made another crock of shit,
that’s all. My zoetrope love, pushing back your chair,
                                half rising-half rising-half rising.
                        tilt-tilt-tilt-tilt your neck
            and smile, look away. You,
pretending not to see me, pretending
            not to see you. You, looking out the window,
                        at an empty glass – you fold your arms and
                                it hurts my heart.
                                        You and me, we wear our scars
like lacework across the skin of tripe. We ought
to be snatches of light, escaping their gyre-ing gaps.

Jane Burn is a writer and illustrator based in the North East of England. Her poems have been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, from The Rialto, Iota Poetry, Obsessed With Pipework, The Interpreter's House, the Black Light Engine Room Literary Review, Kind of a Hurricane Press, Beautiful Dragons and the Emma Press. She is also the founder of the online poetry site, The Fat Damsel

Thursday, 29 September 2016

A poem by Sam Loveless

After the Swings

Leaving the seat,
                          You left an impression,
                          however brief.

Try to remember
                          trying to forget.

The chemicals 
                          cleanse your mind,
                          not your history.

You can be accepted. 
                          Choose your apologies
or                       change your future.

                          Swinging happy.
                          Swinging melancholy.

Not forgetting
                          how high we swung.
                          Where you landed.

Sam Loveless is a Swindon-based poet and railway worker. He began writing poetry at Swansea University and now comperes the open mic night for Poetry Swindon. He also produces ‘Rhythm & Rhyme’ a radio show on Swindon 105.5 dedicated to literature and related arts.

Monday, 26 September 2016

A poem by Ben Banyard

Something in Common

So you meet
open up
and sometimes there’s enough

to make you laugh and sing
look at each other
beyond physical nights
feel that there might be hooks
sliding bloodlessly under flesh
to keep you together
even when you’re lying awake back to back
with a foot of cool air between you

That’s your hot beating heart
the always-fire glowing at home
with a half-life which will continue to react
long after you’ve both slipped into memory

Ben Banyard lives and writes in Portishead, near Bristol. His debut pamphlet, Communing,
was published by Indigo Dreams in February 2016 and his poems have appeared in The
Interpreter’s House, Prole, Popshot, RAUM and Lunar Poetry, amongst others. He blogs at

Ben edits Clear Poetry, an online journal publishing accessible writing by newcomers and old

Thursday, 22 September 2016

2 poems by Gareth Writer-Davies

It Was a Big Decision to Paint the Cupboards

I like white
but imagine what it would be like, to paint the cupboards yellow.

It would have to be a subtle shade (not daffodil or lemon)
something, Austro-Hungarian perhaps, as you see in Vienna or Budapest.

This will be a departure, catholic even, for my room is modest
and having taken the walls back, to lath and plaster, colour (seems) unnecessary.

Maybe a tone (like the sun on a snowy day) could be painted on the cupboards.
A yellow which goes with white.

Gareth Writer-Davies was Commended in the Prole Laureate Competition in 2015, Specially Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition and Highly Commended in the Sherborne Open Poetry Competition.
Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Erbacce Prize in 2014.
His pamphlet "Bodies", was published in 2015 through Indigo Dreams and his next pamphlet "Cry Baby" will be published in 2017.


This poem was first published on Amaryllis 24/11/2015


the tafarn is cosy
warm-ish to
the English who pass through

hogiau bitch
the ffwclyd
shit Seisnig

but Iolo is friendly
and happy
to chinwag with anyone

a pint of Red Dragon
in his hand
the overt vowels of Welsh

playing upon his lips
the bi-fold
brand of economics

the reason he is sat
here watching
the English beat themselves

but that is how it is
the two tongues
in the one thirsty throat

the twofold
of the mouth

the grating chord of one
country hard
up against another                                     

Previously published in The Journal #46

Monday, 19 September 2016

A poem by Nicholas Antoniak

An Icy Road

As if in the pursuit
of troubled eyes that follow down narrow hallways
you stopped and spoke quite plainly
too plainly, in fact
about the way a car slides out
under thick, December, ice

For we,
who prefer to live beneath shrouds
and behind thick doorways,
would rather think
that the car remained oblivious
to the ice, the road and the spin.

Nicholas Antoniak, is an 18 year old emerging Australian writer. He writes both creative fiction, opinion pieces, poetry and anything else creative. He has been included in the 2015 Lane Cove short story anthology. In July he will commence a bachelor of arts majoring in philosophy and sociology and hopes one day to become an author.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

A poem by Sarah Satterlee

When I Lost the House

Flurry of coins on hardwood,
haphazard, flat hailstones,

she stands above them shaking
the ceramic cow,

they shimmer and skate
in loops, each swooning mirror.

Is it enough? she asks,

I wrap each photograph
in paper,

each dish,
each half-burnt candlestick,

I line them up in boxes
like offerings to the dead.

Sarah Satterlee is a graduate of Rhode Island College, where she was the recipient of the 2007 Jean Garrigue Award for her collection of poems. Her work has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Wilderness House Review and Chronique. She lives in Rhode Island with her daughter, where she works as a nurse.

Monday, 12 September 2016

A poem by Katie Munnik


The week of our sister’s wedding, we painted the basement stairs.
Grey, not industrial, not cosy either.
Practical like nickels or skate blades,
work socks, sidewalks, pigeon grey.
We started at the top
but after a step or two,
The stairs were too steep for the two of us,
daughters still at home,
jostled for space, trying to keep our balance,
worrying about falling or dropping the brush.
So we lowered ourselves, stretched
reaching toes down past the wet paint,
elbows and knees extended as far as they would go
to start again at the bottom.

I hoped our little brother would stay where he was.
Outside hunting for ladybugs, likely,
behind the garden shed.
We should have laid newspaper at the top of the stairs
to warn him
or told our mother
or made a sign.

Instead, we decided we only needed an escape route ourselves.
The basement window might work,
with a stool and a shove or two,
if we could manage to pop the bars from their brackets
the way Dad showed us, the day he installed the smoke detector.
We hatched a better plan.
We would paint every second step, then long-leg it back upstairs,
drink lemonade in the sun, catch ladybugs ourselves,
work on our perfect bridesmaids tans
until the paint dried.

It was a good plan, twenty-one years ago Thursday.
Maybe someday, I am very sure
we’ll go back down and paint the rest.

About Katie Munnik
I am a Canadian writer living in Cardiff, UK. My prose, poetry and creative non-fiction work has appeared in several magazines and anthologies, in newspapers across Canada and on CBC radio. I recently completed fiction mentorship through the Humber School for Writers in Toronto, Canada.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

A poem by Anas Hassan


blast thresholds through Friday evening hail
blench in the cryotherapy chamber’s last chance saloon
wake fretting at a 3 a.m. derailment on the racing line
deplete energy with a novice's fierce dance routine
flail in the slipstream of a too speedy skort
snatch Jelly Babies from high-fiving kids at Shadwell
get overtaken by a toilet at the Tower
bite frantically at a sachet of factory-fresh fruits
fight the Naseby raging inside you
clasp your battle souvenir like a venerated relic
jostle through the makeshift Renkioi
shuffle down the stairs like your great-grandfather
peel dank kit off your weeping nipples
shovel calories like you've just escaped Leningrad
start again like a trader after a market crash

Anas Hassan lives in London. He is a strategy consultant and keen runner, and speaks French, German and Arabic. He studied history and international relations at Cambridge University. His poetry has recently been published in Ink, Sweat & Tears and The Interpreter’s House magazines.

Monday, 5 September 2016

A poem by Lindsey Talbott


Sea blue dress
breathing water
gulls call
and fingers tauten in the sand

Buried at the back of the wardrobe
still breathing faintly
she touches the unreachable blue
and curls in on herself like a shell

Letting go
she catches a glimpse
in the mirror
and turns to look herself in the face

Sunlight running through air

Familiar red-brown hair
the first tints of winter as
ice creaks and shifts
in a far-off land

cut and coiled
in a shoe box under her bed

Her body knows
and leaves the sea blue

'Lindsey writes poems sitting under trees on occasional small time islands in the flow of her life as a talking therapist, co- steward of a small woodland project, in the dance and her spiritual practice. She is drawn to the dance of bodies and in the natural world, more than the dance of words – and she writes and reads poetry and prose along the way, as she has from childhood. Poems in particular are a form of process overflow – she talks in poems when there is no-one around to share with.'

Thursday, 1 September 2016

A poem by Vanessa Gebbie

To a Welsh tunneller killed in France in 1916, whose body still lies 40 ft below ground

Did you prefer your garden wild,
all edges softened, scented? Did grasses
seed for you
in the evening light, and
Spanish daisies dance
                                   down the old brick step?

Did shallots wait in untidy rows, with
chives and parsley frills and leeks, and
on your two apple trees, did russets grow?
Was all stone mellow,
none bright, and in the ivy
were dunnocks nesting year on year,
and robins too, wood pigeons in the ash?

And everywhere was light, everywhere
the kindest shadow,
and when it rained
at night
did you stand at your open window,
                       the sweet air on your skin,
and listen
to the small sounds,
                                as though

you could hear the whole world, greening?

This poem is previously published, in Vanessa's collection 'Memorandum, poems for the fallen' (Cultured Llama, 2016).

Vanessa Gebbie is author of seven books including the novel ‘The Coward’s Tale’ (Bloomsbury 2011), two collections of short fiction ‘Words from a Glass Bubble’ and ‘Storm Warning’ (Salt), and two poetry publications ‘The Half-life of Fathers’ (Pighog) and ‘Memorandum, poems for the fallen’ (Cultured Llama). Her work has won both the Troubadour International and the Sussex poetry prizes. Twelve poems from Memorandum will form part of an exhibition for Hurstpierpoint Festival in September 2016, and will be illustrated in stained glass, photography and sculpture.

Monday, 29 August 2016

A poem by Edward O'Dwyer

My Best Friend Sammy

My best friend Sammy is a stubborn bastard
about everything. When we were eight,
I’ll always remember it, he took a shot
and it went over the jumper. It was post,
nowhere near a goal. No fucking way,
Sammy started screaming. It was in.
And crazy eyes on him. When he gets
the crazy eyes on him he isn’t messing.
He fell out with me over it, took his ball
and went home, not a word. Days passed
and turned into two weeks and enough
was enough. I called over to his house
after school and I said, Okay, Sammy,
it was in. That was that. Minutes later
and we were out kicking the ball again,
playing a game of Pole. Stubborn cunt,
I said to Sammy as he was heading in
and he laughed. They beat the absolute shit
out of him, the fucking scumbags. Sammy
could be his own worst enemy sometimes.
That was just a plain fact. I know him.
I know he could have stayed down but
wouldn’t. They kept putting him down
and he kept getting back to his feet
and laughing and calling them pansies
and then daring them to try it again,
his big fat eyes bulging out of his head.
They took their turns having their kicks
and digs. Then they took one of the eyes
out of him. They stabbed him, piercing
a lung. They’d have been looking for a fag.
That’s how it goes. You’re probably
fucked if you give it, fucked if you don’t.
They’re not asking. It’s not about the fag.
Gizz a fag ‘ill yuh, they say, and the best
thing you can do is peg it, but Sammy
wouldn’t ever do that, the stubborn fuck
that he is. Gizz a fag ‘ill yuh, they say,
and their hoods up, a scrawny shower,
tracksuit bottoms tucked into white socks.
G’wan will uh, iss ony wan fag like.
I really need Sammy to wake up.
He’s my best friend and I need him.
The same day it happened I shifted Jenny.
I want to tell Sammy all about it,
the fucking magic of it, her tongue
in my mouth, mine in hers and my hands
all over the juicy denim arse of her.
Finally did it. Sammy has been listening
to me going on and on about Jenny
for must be over four years now and never
doing nothing about it. Shifted the face
off her but it doesn’t feel real now.
How can it if I can’t tell my best friend?
Jesus Christ, wake up, wake fucking up.
Sammy has to be the first to know, I owe
him it. You stubborn cunt, Sammy.
It was post, Sammy, when we were eight.
Post. Now wake up and scream at me.
Open up your crazy eye, tell me it was in.

Edward O'Dwyer, from Limerick, Ireland, has poetry published in magazines and anthologies throughout the world, such as The Forward Book of Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, The Manchester Review, A Hudson View Poetry Digest, The Houston Literary Review, among others. His debut collection, The Rain on Cruise's Street (2014), is published by Salmon Poetry, from which the follow-up is due early 2017. He is an editor for Revival Press, a community publishing house in Limerick. His work has been nominated for Forward, Pushcart, and Best of the Web prizes.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

A poem by Prerna Bakshi

Be an unruly woman

Be an unruly woman. Be that woman who laughs aloud at people who tell her that she shouldn’t laugh aloud in public. Laugh aloud and show those sharp teeth that are meant to bite and chew. Chew off people’s unsolicited advice telling you what to do. How to conduct yourself. How to smile. How much or little to smile. Smile enough so it starts to hurt your jaw. Enough so it grows flowers in your neighbor’s yard. Enough so a rainbow appears in the sky. But, not too much either. When interacting with men you do not know, don’t smile too much, they say. They might think you’re immoral.

Be ‘immoral’.

Chew off these pieces of advice. Chew it all off. Feast on it. Enough so your loud burp, after the grand feast, kills their appetite. Their appetite for giving unasked-for advice. Be that woman who laughs her heart out and aloud.

Be an unruly woman.

(First published in The Ofi Press, Mexico)

Prerna Bakshi is a writer, poet and activist. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of the recently released book, Burnt Rotis, With Love, which was long-listed for the 2015 Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UK. Her work has been published widely, most recently in The Ofi Press, The Harpoon Review, TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism and Peril magazine: Asian-Australian Arts & Culture, as well as anthologized in several collections. More here -

Monday, 22 August 2016

A poem by Thomas O'Connell

An Unfinished Book

Starting to worry
Because the phones know too much
They trouble my sleep

I feel the heat arriving
The sound of flutes in canyons

Where we found comfort

Days spent inside caves
Meditating with the stones
The buzz of ghost bees

No other death will move me
In the shape of every tree
                               An unfinished book

Thomas O’Connell is a librarian living on the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon, NY, where he happens to be the 2015-2016 poet laureate. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in Elm Leaves Journal, Caketrain, Jellyfish Review, Otoliths, and The Los Angeles Review, as well as other print and online journals.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

2 poems by Gareth Culshaw

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.

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


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, 15 August 2016

A poem by Will Badger

Ode to an Olive Waistcoat

for E. Passannanti

her mother called you,
a puffy vest,
one she’d once worn
before you became her daughter’s
(on permanent loan)
at sixteen:
for her mom you meant
some things last
while others are
fit for the fire

But does to last mean
merely to persist,
or to find
function in the fire:
a phoenix’s
rise over run?

For me
you symbolise survival:
clothes that crept
to the bottom of the closet
when other articles
went out,
wore out.
You waited –
until she wore you again

All I want
is to hide here
and hold her
as you do
and for her mom
to see
things that don’t last
are only lost

and can be found.

Will Badger holds an MFA in Fiction from NC State University and an MSt in English Literature from Pembroke College, Oxford. He is currently pursuing a DPhil at Pembroke as the Browning Senior Scholar in English, exploring representations of witchcraft in Shakespeare.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Nominations for 'Best of the Net' Anthology 2016

This week the excellent poetry site 'Three Drops from a Cauldron' announced its six poems nominated for the 'Best of the Net' anthology. Seeing the brilliant poems submitted by this site has inspired me to put together our own nominations for this anthology.

Below are the six nominated poems that were published on the Amaryllis site between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. Please take a look at the poems and feel free to comment on and share your favourites.

It has been a great year for Amaryllis and we published over 50 poets during this period. I look forward to seeing what the next year will bring.

I wish the six nominees the best of luck, it has been a real pleasure reading and publishing these fantastic poems.

Stephen Daniels
Editor of Amaryllis

You measured my depression in pheasants by Richie McCaffery

Under the Elm Tree by Claire Walker

Raft of the Medusa by Maurice Devitt

Coroner's Court by Mark Russell

Teaching on a Gun-FriendlyCampus: A Brief Guide* by Leila K. Norako

The Ravens of Japan by Ryan Warren

Thursday, 11 August 2016

A poem by Amy Schreibman Walter

Continental Shifts

On a plane above Amsterdam, bodies tilt
towards land. A stranger in the seat next to me
spoons chocolate from a disposable cup, asks
if I like to cook. I might be domestically inclined.
Thinking of how I want to be making you dinner,
I am instead eating small salami sandwiches with my fingers,
I am instead sipping tomato juice from a plastic cup. I have
flown over the continent this week, flown in the dark over
metropolises all lit up. In these places, I don’t ever cook,
I eat with my hands, I drink local specialities. I want to cook
dinner for you in a kitchen I don’t have, want to shuffle
crockery out of cupboards, warm up soup on some stainless
steel hob. I am falling for you. The captain
says we should prepare for landing. Out the window
there is only the night sky, tinged with little lights.

Amy Schreibman Walter is an American writer living in London. Her poems have appeared in magazines on both sides of the Atlantic, and her new chapbook, ‘Houdini’s Wife and Other Women,’ was published by Dancing Girl Press this spring.

Monday, 8 August 2016

A poem by Sarah Carey

Identity Theft

My husband worries someone is trying to steal “our” identity.
There was in fact a letter from the IRS

about a fraudulent tax return. Nothing came of it—
we paid our thousands to the government—

but the worry-seeds took root. We sleep
less well at night, fight panic on days

the mail is late, as if it might not come,
as if someone had absconded with our packages,

our bills, and oh yes, what few personal cards
there might be from a relative or friend.

Suddenly encryption isn’t good enough.
We decide to put a hold on things. Our credit,

for example. Records vanish into the shredder.
Extra anti-virus downloads occupy our desktop.

Soon we’re locked so tight, a thief
would have a time breaking the firewall.

We race to the deep web, looking over
our shoulders. My husband’s hands are everywhere,

his prints on my keys. Then there’s the cloud,
where our trove of photos has become a heaven

we visit to remember faces, to remind ourselves
how our parents looked, how we looked

when we were young, unconcerned with betrayal,
uncompromised. We stay safe, our drives restored,

no worries to eschew. It’s simple:
If my husband’s life is taken, I’ll vanish, too.

Sarah Carey is a graduate of the Florida State University creative writing program. Her work has appeared in Rattle, The Carolina Quarterly, Portland Review and elsewhere. Her poetry chapbook, The Heart Contracts, is pending publication from Finishing Line Press.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

A poem by Anita Olivia Koester

Heartworms and Handguns

What should one put on a mantle– horses with their legs
artfully broken off, oversized pawns, snapshots

that feel faked– while the flames lick upwards,
I look at the lines on my palms, consider burning them.

When we saw this house/mansion/monstrosity
I said– if we can’t be happy here, we’ll never be happy.

Yet here– I feel stuffed as a prized parakeet,
my body behind so many panes of glass.

In the background on the T.V– Grey’s Anatomy,
self-medication they call entertainment, I watch

the dewy-skinned doctors and their how could you
eyebrows, that not again in their knotted lips,

though all day in the ER, bodies stumble in,
all those organs crawling with heartworms,

distemper, mouths drooling with rabies,
so many hearts burst open today, so many

attempts to sew her legs back on to her body.

These are the years my body fills with sand,
my hair thins, nerves twitch, ears ring,

it’s almost comforting when the spiders come,
massive, long-legged Louise-Bourgeois style

laying their eggs in my uterus, my aortas,
any place swept clean of love.

Without love marriage is like a disease,
it eats away at your sanity till your standing

stark naked in the closet tasting his handgun
wondering if it’s loaded, if the safety is on,

if this is what it is like to sleep in a war zone,
grow so comfortable with the sound of gunfire

that your ashamed at how much you crave it,
how much easier it would be if the gas leaked

and the house caught on fire, collapsed dramatically
like in a soap opera, and when you woke up

all you could hear was your heart beating.

"Heartworms and Handguns" was first published in Marco Polo, a chapbook published by Hermeneutic Chaos Press.

Anita Olivia Koester is a poet and photographer. Her chapbook, Marco Polo, is published by Hermeneutic Chaos Press. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Vinyl, Tahoma Literary Review, Clarion, Unsplendid, HEArt, and elsewhere. In 2015, Shot Glass Journal nominated her for a Pushcart Prize and she won the First Night Evanston Poetry Contest. Her writing has been supported by Vermont Studio Center, Art Farm, and Sundress Academy for the Arts. When not traveling, she lives in Chicago with her books and her Australian Shepherd. Visit her at

Monday, 1 August 2016

2 poems by Chella Courington

Lynette’s War

Cousin Lynette says she’s tired from cleaning
East Main houses of rich bitches. They don’t even shit
like us, got toilet seats that float to the bowl,
never make a sound, & she hands me the baby
over the front seat. Days off Merry Maids
we like to drive her ’97 Trans Am to Gulf Shores—
kd lang over eight speakers.
I’m tired too, tired of being the babysitter.
Leah, grabbing my earrings, covers me in crumbs.
She bites off the heads of animal crackers.
Only eats heads.

Don’t know why I hang with her.
She’s like the girl who cut my hair at Cinderella’s
saying I had the ugliest strands she’d ever seen.
I kept going back for more till Lynette blurted
you don’t need to pay for that kind of shit.
And Lynette says outright
she’s sexy & I’m not. We both know it.
Junior high she called me a mutant. Boobs
like raisins on a fifteen-year old’s wrong.
Mama took me to the doctor & he shook his head.

At least Lynette is a good mother.
When the kid has fever, Lynette won’t go
to work. I’d rather lose my job
than leave a sick baby at daycare.
Guess that’s why I hang with her.
She might call me names, but let somebody else do it,
she’d scratch their eyes out. At the Sonic,
some boy from Crossville leaned in the window,
drop the fat chick & let’s go driving.
She clawed his left cheek & screeched away,
tray still on the car, cokes & fries flying.
Son of a bitch thinks he can dump on you and have
a good time with me. Stupid bastard.

I thought Lynette would always be the one to leave.
Good looking. Smart. She never let anybody
walk on her, or me, though she did
what Cochran girls do after getting their
driver’s license. She got knocked up.
Wouldn’t tell a soul who the father was.
We all thought it was Sonny Cruz.
He went to Iraq in August & emailed Lynette every day.
Like they were junk, she’d hit delete.
He started writing letters she stacked on her dresser—
unopened. Keeping in touch with soldiers
is talking to the dead. Sonny could come back,
I say. Lots of boys make it. Lynette turns away
he might, but he won’t be the Sonny I knew.

After homecoming she carries his letters out to the grill.
They catch on the third match.
Every last word.

Previously published in PBW (DVD Journal 2015)

Chella Courington is a writer and teacher. With a Ph.D. in American and British Literature and an MFA in Poetry, she is the author of four poetry and three flash fiction chapbooks. Her poetry and stories appear in numerous anthologies and journals including SmokeLong Quarterly, Nano Fiction, The Los Angeles Review, and The Collagist. Her recent novella, The Somewhat Sad Tale of the Pitcher and the Crow, is available at Amazon. Reared in the Appalachian South, she now lives in Santa Barbara, CA, with another writer and two cats.

Previously published poem (22/03/2016)


My father built biceps working for US Steel
smelting iron in heat that humbled men.

Now I could break his arm
over my knee, brittle as kindling. 

My father used to let me walk up his body
balancing my hands on his fingertips

till I flew from his shoulders. They began to sag
after my mother passed. Rising at night, no moon out,

she collapsed in the dark and never woke
as once my father fell when a clot in his head

tossed him down. He speaks of my mother
rubbing his back with eucalyptus oil and saves hair

from her brush, strands he wraps in kleenex.
At night with his whiskey, facing Jeopardy, my father

drifts off to Kargasok.
In the Russian mountains women live to be 105.

So do their men, eating dried cod with mushroom tea,
making love last forever.

Motif 2: Chance. Ed. Marianne Worthington. Summer 2010.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

A poem by Melanie Branton


Loving you is ridiculous
like ardently supporting
the football team
of a small town in Argentina
where I’ve never been
and don’t know anyone
and I don’t even speak Spanish

but still I wear their colours
and pore over their match reports
and call them ‘Our boys’
cheering on their goals on the radio
or what I infer to be their goals
seeing as I don’t even understand the commentary
and don’t even like football

Loving you is ridiculous
like following a stranger in the supermarket
because I want to be a gumshoe
but only know how to be
a childish approximation of one
watching them through holes
cut out of a newspaper
making notes about what they put in their trolley
deducing dark secrets
from their preference of Shredded Wheat
to Crunchy Nut Cornflakes
and their ominously inexplicable purchase
of that fifth bottle of sauce

Loving you is ridiculous
like suddenly performing a sex act
on the person in front of me
in the dole queue
because he or she happens to be there
and everyone else seems to have someone
and it’s Tuesday
so why not?

And on good days
I get aroused by
parallel possibilities.
Tonight, I haven’t got a headache
‘cos I’m in the subjunctive mood!
‘Should you love me,…’
‘Had you kissed me,…’
‘Were you to touch me down there,….’

And on really good days
I feel purified by you
as by a non-evangelical God
from someone else’s religion
knowing I’m not of your flock
and can never fall within the ambit
of your miracles
but worshipping you, anyway,
without self interest
feeling blessed
that such intelligence
such intensity
such beauty
exists somewhere in the universe
though I will never be touched by it

And on bad days
the fact that you have a girlfriend
seems an act of deliberate spite
something you’ve been carefully planning
for the past ten years
just to piss me off

And writing poetry about you is ridiculous
I’m like a woman with no legs
knitting herself a pair of socks
so she can vicariously experience
what it’s like to have feet

But still I do

Melanie Branton is a poet and spoken word artist from North Somerset. She has worked as an English and Drama teacher, both in England and Poland, an assistant theatre director and a full-time carer. Her poems have been published in journals including Prole, The Interpreter's House and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She was the 2015 Bristol Hammer and Tongue regional slam champion.

Monday, 25 July 2016

A poem by Victor Buehring

The Balloonist

My breath threads and swells
outward, prolonging
the exterior. I mould
the supple extension
by turning its periphery
toward the center
in a junction of surfaces
choked into points
and spaced to create
successive portions; interrupted
    _    _   _    _   _    _  __   _  ___     ___    ____     ____    ____    ____    ___                          
--(@)(_)(__)(_)(__)(_)(__)(_)(____)(____)(_____)(_____)(_____)(____ )(____)(_)=
spans set side by side; assigned
here and there and then brought together
in multiple intervals
and series which combine
to fashion parts: a tulip twist snout (@),
pinched ears (() ()), locked legs ( ));
joined up; rolled up
in a continuous connection
to give an outline; a form:
a hollow imitation: 
            ____(() ^ _^ ())
       ( )(____ )(_(@)_)
         (_____)( )
         ( ))       ( ))
Tell me if you can imagine
what it’s meant to be

Victor Buehring performed "The Balloonist" with an orange modelling balloon at Poetry Swindon's December open mic and the poem was previously published in Ink Sweat & Tears. Some of his other poems have been published in The Interpreter’s House, Orbis, The Journal, Carillon Magazine and Eunoia Review

Thursday, 21 July 2016

A poem by Kitty Coles


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!

Kitty Coles lives in Lightwater, Surrey and has been writing since she was a child. She works as a senior adviser for a charity supporting disabled people and has a particular interest in mental health and invisible disability. Her poems have appeared in magazines including Mslexia, Iota, Obsessed With Pipework, The Interpreter's House, South, Frogmore Papers, The Delinquent, The Journal, The Lake, Brittle Star and Ink Sweat and Tears.

Monday, 18 July 2016

A poem by Adele Fraser

Another Theory of Relativity

On the bus to my ex’s house,
I encounter a woman
who lost five children
to Social Services.

She carries their photographs
like crosses, plays with them
like rosary beads,
and wouldn’t part with them,
even for a half ounce.

And, inside me, something flips over,
and I know now I will cope.

For this woman takes my burden,
dismantles my dollhouse furniture
and reveals it to me as out of scale
or proportion.

She tears up my mental pictures
of baking and bedtime stories,
nature walks and birthday parties,
which I’d nailed to my brain
to torment myself.

There is more than one paradigm,
more than one point
of comparison.

My default was set to perfection,
until this stranger made me see
how small had been my sample
and how blinkered was my vision,
when I’d asked the age-old question
‘Why not me?’

Adele Fraser lives and writes in the mountains of Snowdonia, Wales, UK. Her work has been published in a number of magazines both online and in print, most recently The Interpreter’s House, Vada Magazine, Clear Poetry, and Ink, Sweat & Tears

Thursday, 14 July 2016

A poem by Nancy Iannucci

Vicious Cycle

When our eyes met for the first time,
I heaved a sigh that I thought you heard.
You knew a simple hello and goodbye would never
do, so I dropped my weighty anchor into your palm
and you rubbed it seven times like a horseshoe.
When our eyes met for the second time,
I picked your words like berries while catching
chords that fell from your guitar strings; my arms
were open like a basket eager to carry your
lyrics as if they were meant for me.

When our eyes met for the third time,
it was in a delirious dream of whirling desert sand.
Yellow & tan, tan & yellow scenes of grit crusting
my sight, distorting your fair face like an omen; you
were a dark creature choking in a harmonica neck hold.

When our eyes met for the fourth time,
Alex Forrest gazed back at me on the edge
of psychosis sinking in paranoia quicksand
with arms flailing, gasping for air,
suffocating in your circle of games.

When our eyes met for the fifth time,
I willingly closed them; hoisted my anchor from
your palm and walked into the woods like an
emancipated slave where Anath took me in;
she placed a bow and sickle in my hand so

when our eyes meet for the sixth time,
I will have the skills and weapons to resist you;
And it will be you who will heave a sigh that will
go unheard at the sight of me- strong and dauntless.
But the day will come when you will hum

another song that will break me and the vicious cycle
between us will resuscitate, rendering us helpless- gyrating
like a red and yellow mane on a stallion horse. 

Nancy Iannucci is a historian who teaches history and lives poetry in Troy, NY. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in a number of publications including Eunoia Review, Three Line Poetry, Fickle Muses, Red Wolf Journal, Rose Red Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Mirror Dance, Pankhearst, Picaroon Poetry, Yellow Chair Review, and her poem, HOWLING, won Yellow Chair Review’s Rock the Chair Challenge.

Monday, 11 July 2016

A poem by Marion Tracy

Blog of the Ninth Lady, Stanton Moor

Things I like about being a stone

I get to spend a lot of time with my circle of friends.
I can keep an eye on Martin the fiddler
and my best friend, Jane Wainwright, see
they don’t get up to their old tricks.
Us all sleeping with each other.
This yellow lichen on me because it’s the colour
of the petticoat I was wearing
the night I was punished for dancing around being happy.

Things I can’t stand

Being awake at 3 a.m. without a drink in my hand.
People I don’t like the look of who kiss me
and think that it means something.
Being pissed up against.
How tight it is in here.
When I wake up from a dream about my mother
and everything still looks the same.
The time a young man came up behind me
and touched my back
just gently
and me not being able to turn around and say:
Do that again, please do that to me again.

First published in Obsessesed with Pipework

'Blog of the Ninth Lady, Stanton Moor' is taken from Marion Tracy's forthcoming collection 'Dreaming of Our Better Selves'

Marion Tracy has two degrees in English Literature and was a lecturer in Colleges of Further Education. She recently lived in Australia for seven years where she started writing poetry. She is widely published in magazines and previously published a pamphlet Giant in the Doorway (HappenStance Press 2012). She lives in Brighton.