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.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

A poem by Susan Evans

After the Honeymoon:

When you no longer hold her gaze
When you no longer consume her thoughts
When you struggle for air-time across the waves
When she no longer accepts your faults
When conversation is misconstrued
When there’s no freedom of expression
When all we do is shop for food
When deeper subjects lead to regression
When you’ve come to rely on her thoughts
When you’ve looked to her for how you look
When you’re having a crisis of sorts
When she’s glued to her program or book
When she openly admires the qualities in other men
When you hear yourself fish for a compliment
When you’re in need of a bit of recognition
When you used to be outgoing and confident
Yeah that.

(First published in Prole, Issue 14, 2014)

Susan Evans is a Brighton-based Performance poet and facilitator; originally from north east London. Susan was recently Shortlisted `Best Spoken Word Performer' in the Saboteur Awards, 2016: `celebrating the best of the indie literature scene’. A stage and page poet, Susan is widely published in anthologies, indie magazines and journals; in print and online, as well as a regular feature on the alternative poetry & cabaret circuits:

"Unlike so much `performance’ Susan's is full of content. A rich brew” Sam Smith, The Journal.

Find her here:

Monday, 4 July 2016

A poem by Richard Biddle

4.30 am

“The more you look at anger in this manner, the more it evaporates under your gaze, like white frost under the sun’s rays.” Matthieu Ricard

Staggering into the cold jolt of an early start, I stop to
stare at the guiltless stars.

Gasp at the sudden shock of white.
Overnight, a universe of frozen cries
has settled on the earth to die.

Offering a prayer to an upturned table and seeking
forgiveness from a smashed-in door.

The crystallising spirit has passed by.
Objects have become their own icy
phantasms. The moon, welded to the sky.

My hands shake like they crave love and not, as usually
happens, another drink.

Listen, even the birds are stilled by
this change. Nothing sings, flies.
Everything glistens with bleached light.

Before leaving, I pause to watch my breath cloud the air.

Gradually this sugar-coated design
begins to melt; coloured outlines
once more return to sight.

Richard Biddle won the @BigBlakeProject Poetry Prize for his poem 'Transparency'. His work is published online, and has appeared in; Urthona, Brittle Star Magazine & Dream Catcher and in the anthologies 'Transformations' and 'The Nine Realms'. As @littledeaths68 he regular contributes to the experimental writing projects @chimeragroup0 and @echovirus12.

His long illustrated poem for children ‘Horizon’ a collaboration with the artist @Vivianolala is due to be published this year by @BirdsNestBooks.

He lives in Chichester UK with his partner and two sons and is a member of Chichester Stanza.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

A poem by Jim Fletcher


I want to say “yes”
Like all of us
I don’t know how

I want to shout “welcome”
Nobody will hear me
How can I be heard?

I want them to understand
That we’re human
And our arms are open

I want us to help
Without constraints
Beyond politics
My name is Yanni
Today I said no
It breaks my heart

My name is Giovanni
Today I said no
I feel ashamed

My name is Janos
Today I said no
We can’t take you

My name is Yahya
I wait for help
I’m lost
Kos, Lesbos, Lampedusa
France, Hungary, Serbia
We are everywhere and nowhere

We are homeless
Yesterday they threw bread
Today water cannons
Tomorrow bullets?
In a world of lost humanity
We ask you, look at what
You should have said and done
Now passed, lost and gone
Have you tried hard enough?


I like to write
Poetry I hope is meaningful
Sometimes I get it right
Other times it’s just - - not

From a Boltonian exiled in Wiltshire and a proud friend of Poetry Swindon.

Monday, 27 June 2016

A poem by Laurie Kolp

Ordering Room

As we wait for our food
in a booth that’s much too close to me
          and yet I can’t make it move
          past your deadlocked arms
I begin to second guess this lunch date
arranged to ameliorate our relationship.

Your corrosive eyes materialize
                        as     I   p u s h    harder
across the table like a bed tray in my lap
and still you won’t give in.

I say I need some space
as the waiter sets our Caesar salads down.
Another temporary tether release
as you reach for your fork
all I know to do is breathe.

Laurie Kolp, author of Upon the Blue Couch (Winter Goose Publishing) and Hello, It's Your Mother (Finishing Line Press), serves as president of Texas Gulf Coast Writers and treasurer of the local chapter of the Poetry Society of Texas. Laurie’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gargoyle, After the Pause, Crack the Spine, Scissors & Spackle, Pirene’s Fountain, and more. She lives in Southeast Texas with her husband, three children, and two dogs.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

A poem by Rachel Nix


Intrusive at times,
the sun watches

& implies
I should be wearing

less when wrapped
in your hold.

Abiding by this notion:
I abandon most

of my clothing
allowing my skin

to soak all of you in.
Shoulder-top freckles

give aim to your
affection; humidity:

heavy & sweet, kisses.
Down South, some things

do progress quickly.

Rachel Nix is a native of Northwest Alabama, where pine trees outnumber people and she likes it. She stays busy as Poetry Editor at cahoodaloodaling, Associate Editor at Pankhearst, and coffee-maker at her paying gig. Her work has recently appeared at concîs, Rust + Moth, and Bop Dead City. She can usually be found in some sort of shenanigans on Twitter as @rachelnix_poet

Monday, 20 June 2016

A poem by Kim Peter Kovac

Dress me in blue-green

Dress me in blue-green,
the color of the verge
now in focus ahead:

a border forming
between the present
life and the next, half-

life, built from fragments
of radium whose
vivid warmth pulses

outward, a thrumming
radiance vibrating
on signposts ahead.

Dress me in blue-green,
please - I’m on the verge.

Kim Peter Kovac works in the USA and internationally in theater for young audiences with an emphasis on new play development and networking. He tells stories on stages as producer of new plays, and tells stories in writing with lineated poems, prose poems, creative non-fiction, flash fiction, haiku, haibun, and microfiction, with work appearing or forthcoming in print and on-line in journals from Australia, India, Dubai (UAE), the UK, and the USA, including The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Red Paint Hill, Elsewhere, Frogpond, Mudlark, and Counterexample Poetics.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

A poem by Tiffany Cence


I breathed in the air – and
elt the breeze rustle through me.
The sun shone, alleviating any worry
I had o a gloomy day. The tractor’s engine
roared nearby, interrupting the serenity
that is summer. I elt myself closing up,
trying to escape the noise: and with no
luck I ell back into the same old pattern
o yesterday.

Tiffany Cence is a passionate writer residing in Greensburg, PA studying creative writing at Seton Hill University. In her spare time she enjoys reading, cooking, and playing with her dog.

Monday, 13 June 2016

A poem by Lindsay McLeod


I learnt at some length the limit
to how long you can fight with,
who you once fought for,
right up until her carnivorous
departure chewed a hole right
through me like a rat through

a flaking asbestos wall which,
is in itself kind of ironic because
years later she fell back to me,
just for a visit mind, to tell of her
surrender to cancer, showing me
the x-rays and all, the two almost

perfectly round stains in her
that looked for all the world to
me like separate wedding rings
that could not be removed.
I don't know what they looked
like to her. I didn't ask.

Lindsay McLeod trips over the horizon every morning. He has won several prizes and awards and stuff for poetry and short fiction and published his first co-authored poetry collection, My Almost Heart, in 2015. He currently writes on the sandy Southern edge of the world, where he watches the sea and the sky wrestle for supremacy at his letterbox. He prefers to support the underdog. It is presently an each way bet.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

A poem by Rachael Clyne


I thought I’d left something on.
There was a sound at night
persistent as a metronome -
poop        poop        poop

She told us it was a tiny toad.
We traced it to the yard wall
behind a piece of board.

That night in Dordogne we shared
childhood tales of being Jews
in Belgium, France, England.

The silent undercurrents
sense of foreignness,
lost families, the gap
they leave in the sternum,
a myopathy that
paralyses the soul.

A hidden noise in the dark
that you can’t ignore
tapping its Morse code -
Juif   Juif   Juif

It will not be silenced
the song the toads make
calling to each other
through the dark
like a heartbeat.

Commended in 2013 Poetry Space & published in winner’s Pamphlet

Rachael Clyne's work appears in magazines, including: Domestic Cherry, The Interpreter’s House, Tears in the Fence. Also anthologies: The Very Best of 52, Book of Love and Loss, Poems for a Liminal Age, Three Drops for a Cauldron. Her prizewinning collection, Singing at the Bone Tree, concerns nature and our longing for the wild Rachael's recent work focuses more on human nature.

Monday, 6 June 2016

A poem by Clive Oseman


After endless careful wrapping
the glare of suspicion returns,
paper peeling from a parcel
full of fragile fallacies fed with hope
polished with wishes of perfect days
framed to fool in many ways.
Fluoxetine fantasies, Prozac power
masking dark extremes
until the arrival of the hour
which sees illusions seized.

The stigma never truly leaves.
Progress marches on
then trips on the tiniest of triggers,
falls to its knees amid a cacophony
of sniggers and sneers,
mockingly making it clear
how even if you had the means
you'd never get the credit.
That's how life has always been...
with insecurities evergreen.

Clive Oseman is a Swindon based Brummie page and performance poet. Widely published worldwide in Japanese short forms, he now prefers mainstream poetry and has been published in print and online by Ink Sweat And Tears, Angry Manifesto, Decanto, I am not a Silent Poet and others. A poetry Rivals Finalist in 2014/15, he was long listed for the final at the Royal Albert Hall this year. He is on Twitter @Clive_Oseman

Thursday, 2 June 2016

A poem by Ryan Warren

The Ravens of Japan

The ravens of Japan
speak with a different accent—
deeper, more rich and throaty
than the high-pitched caw
of their American cousins.

Or perhaps, even
a language of their own, where
in sonorous raven Japanese
while circling the blossoming
peonies and plum trees
of Hama-rikyu Gardens,
or alighting atop the pungent eves
of Tsukiji Fish Market,
they dictate their commentary
on the civility of the humans
peopling the earth below:

crisp and ordered as folded linens,
elegantly dressed,
salting each day
with a thousand thank-yous
and quick, generous little bows,
the value of harmony
laid deep in their bones,
the knowledge that
courtesy shown to others
reflects honor back to you.

Of course the vigilant ravens of Japan
from above the sculpted trees
also spy the hidden currents beneath—
the inequality, the stricture,
the regard given to surface things.

Certainly. Certainly the ravens know
from their watchful perches,
but I cannot tell you
how I would have found this
as a younger man
when I loved bold, high-pitched words
and exhausting honesty
so much more than today.

Today, when I find that I thirst
for even a sip of courtesy,
that I've flown halfway around my life
to at last discover the cartography of restraint.
How we treat each other,
in even the smallest things
is everything, it seems.

A point as dark and fine as the ravens,
slowly circling the painted Japanese horizon.

Ryan Warren lives with his family by the sea. His poetry has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Wilderness House Literary Review, Firefly Magazine, The Mindful Word, Ekphrastic and Plum Tree Tavern.

Monday, 30 May 2016

A poem by Jonathan Butcher

Night Shift

We would walk through those narrow grey
streets each evening, oblivious to the
inconvenience of our presence. The houses
like sandcastles ripe for kicking, which when
unlit seemed to lose their purpose.

We could almost hear the twitch of eyelids
flicker, their faces at intervals plastered to
those pristine windows; we convinced
ourselves their heads slept in comas,
whilst we continued to scrape our heels.

Each one bound in holy matrimony; entrenched
foundations built with broken bricks. The premature
lines that danced across each face, filled with
blackened waters like neglected canals, in which
I would never dare (nor care) to swim.

That breeze passes slowly, indicative of these
streets, as we unbound those memories from
their corroded chains. As our feet sink into
our own foundations, we slowly peel our
smirking faces from our windows.

Jonathan Butcher is a poet based in Sheffield. He has had poetry appear in various print and online publications including: Elbow Room, Popshot, Dead Beats, Ink Sweat & Tears, Bare Hands Poetry, Turbulence and others. His second Chapbook 'Broken Slates' has been published by Flutter Press.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

A poem by Leila K. Norako

Teaching on a Gun-Friendly Campus: A Brief Guide*

Be guarded and careful
when tempted to speak
of guns.

Refrain from posting cute
signs that read:
“Gun-free classroom.”

Ask none of your students
if they are armed.

Avoid meeting with students
outside of posted office hours, but

            you cannot refuse to hold them altogether
            a $10k fine awaits you if you do
            students must be allowed to bring their guns, but
            you can probably opt to meet in public spaces.

Take care as well when
you attempt to speak
of hard things.
It actually might be best—
since you no longer can afford
to risk outrage or anger—
simply to strike
controversial topics
like the following
from the syllabus:

Huckleberry Finn
bell hooks
Ferguson and Flint
the torture of detainees
Queer Theory
embryonic screening
Confederate flags
Joan of Arc
dystopian fiction
global warming
the fabliaux
voting rights
Kent State
a living wage
organic farming
the Rwandan Genocide
physician-assisted suicide
the war in Iraq
stem cell research
universal health care
young millennials
and zoos.

Try as well to avoid
in class assignments
that risk chafing those
already irritable.
For instance,
Stage no debates,
and do not ask
students to write sestinas
or diagram sentences.
Require no timed
math tests,
and certainly refrain
from any titrations
or dissections
in the lab.

If you must speak
of Darwin,
postcolonial theory,
or Margaret Atwood
you might consider
wearing Kevlar.
And if you must lecture
on the speech of Aristophanes,
do so from the confines
of your personal tank.

You just can’t be too careful. 

And before we forget:
try as best you can
to ignore
that swelling sound
in the distance.
It’s merely the death rattle
of education
as you know it.

*Some of the phrases in the first few stanzas are paraphrased versions of ones found in a PowerPoint presentation recently delivered to the University of Houston’s Faculty Senate.

I would like to thank Asa Mittman for helping to inspire the final stanza of the poem, and David Perry for discovering the PowerPoint and bringing it to the attention of the general public.

Leila K. Norako is a scholar of medieval English literature and a poet who currently calls the San Francisco Bay Area home. She is fast at work on two poetry projects at present: a chapbook of poems about Iceland, and a series of poems that meditate on loss and its aftershocks. She currently serves as a postdoctoral fellow in Stanford's Thinking Matters Program, and starting this Fall she will be an Assistant Professor of English at The University of Washington. She writes about the intersections of medieval and modern cultures on her blog, In Romaunce as We Rede, and also makes occasional appearances on Twitter (@Na_Pomaikai). 

Monday, 23 May 2016

A poem by Paul Tristram

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!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

A poem by Sanjeev Sethi


Sublingual secrets are minacious:
Of them glissading
as scuttlebutt is imminent.
Never dread the locus
of your confidentialness.
Be on the qui vive for palsy-walsy
carriers of the gravamen.
It’s always the squealer’s failing,
specious to censure provocateurs.

The recently released, This Summer and That Summer, (Bloomsbury) is Sanjeev Sethi’s third book of poems. His work includes well-received volumes, Nine Summers Later and Suddenly For Someone. His poems have found a home in The London Magazine, The Fortnightly Review, Allegro Poetry Magazine, Solstice Literary Magazine, Off the Coast Literary Journal, Hamilton Stone Review, Literary Orphans, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, The Peregrine Muse, Otoliths, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Section 8 Magazine, and elsewhere. Poems are forthcoming in Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Ink Sweat & Tears, First Literary Review-East, Meniscus, The Open Mouse and Drunk Monkeys. He lives in Mumbai, India.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Two poems by Myra Schneider


The silk spun from a worm,
the sea’s forget-me-not blue, a newly
born human unmarked by the world,
the word queening a hoarding
and slyly inserted in the caption underneath:
A Life of Pure Style and Indulgence.
                                                        To whet
the appetite a photo of a room juts into sky.
I note the polished floor, slender-legged lamps,                                
faux leather furniture, insistent wall screen,
picture window – no welcoming pet,
pot plant, teapot, open book.
                                   What’s pure,
I ask the paving stones, about stirring up desire
to wine and dine expensively while watching
pulp TV in a room concocted in an office
by a designer who knows exactly
how to tempt today’s buyers?
                                             What’s pure,
I ask a litter bin, about a set of apartments
opposite a car park that’s next to a station fronted
by a pull-in for buses, a set of apartments
which rubs shoulders with the rail track and faces
a street where vehicles queue to join
a manic motorway?
                                         What’s pure
I ask a lamp post about twisting the meaning
out of yet another word? Think: nice, pretty,
awesome, devastating, precisely, each lifeless
as a mouse the cat’s finished with.
                                                      Pure! the word
tolls as I leave the judder in the main road
and trot down to the park, rest my eyes
on trees offering the froth of blossom,
stare at the clot of log, plastic wrappers,
wire coils, chucked cans and lumps of paper
which are jamming the Brook.

'Pure' is taken from Myra's upcoming collection - 'Persephone Finsbury Park' which is due in June 2016.

Myra Schneider’s most recent poetry publications are The Door to Colour (Enitharmon 2014) and What Women Want (Second Light Publications 2012). She was shortlisted for a Forward Prize in 2007. Other books include Writing My Way Through Cancer (Jessica Kingsley 2003), and with John Killick Writing Your Self (Continuum 2009). She tutors for The Poetry School in London, is consultant to the Second Light Network of Women Poets and has co-edited anthologies of work by contemporary women poets. The most recent is Her Wings of Glass (Second Light Publications 2014).


Previously published poem (03/02/2014)

Mambo Dims

It started in the usual territory – I had to organize 
an event involving clumps of people whose clobber
was stranded in difficult locations. The moment

I set out I slipped into a mangrove swamp 
so I hadn’t a hope in hell of finding my notebook 
and working out a sensible plan of action.

The end was absurd: a windowless room 
full of slatted racks like those my father packed 
with apples which crinkled over winter. 

These held mounds of biscuits. I’d just tasted one
which was mouldy when women started leaping 
from the highest shelf. Each made a perfect flight

until my friend Sheena landed twisting a foot. 
She brushed me aside: no worries I’m wearing
my mambo dims. Then everything melted

but through my sleepiness I could still see 
those slip-ons – their feather-lightness
had saved her from harm. And I was amazed

that my brain without consulting me had picked
on a dance I imagine as orange syncopated  
with hot scarlet, to slipper feet smaller,

more slender than mine. Mambo dims, I mouthed 
and my jaws unclamped. And whenever I whisper
mambo dims, mangroves unravel, days untrap me.

Monday, 9 May 2016

A poem by Richard Manly Heiman


Dreams that wake you are vivid.
You remember them too
like ghosts in the attic
they’re always there
just waiting to be shouted down
wrapping their skinny bloodless arms
squeezing your brainstem.

You invite them to breakfast
Serve them French toast, coffee
that goes right through them and—
though they're always silent, never
read the paper, sneeze, or pet the cat
before they head back through the
ceiling, still somehow
you sense their gratitude.

Richard Manly (Rick) Heiman lives in the California "Gold Country" where there is little gold left and no water from which to pan it. He rides horses occasionally when he can find one lethargic enough to mount up. Rick works as a substitute teacher and writes evenings, weekends and when the kids are at recess. He is pursuing an MFA with Lindenwood U. Rick's work has appeared, or will, in Mulberry Fork Review, Pilgrim, Bop Dead City, Rust & Moth, and more. His website URL is

Thursday, 5 May 2016

A poem by Deonte Osayande

Terminal Ethnicity

Being diagnosed with terminal
ethnicity prevents many students

from completing their assignments
on time since
they are serving
time                 customers                    their country

and everyone thinks they can see everything
they need to know from their
record              clothes             skin                  name

instead of how they are tested
            in class             outside of class 
                        at work            at home
                                    with friends     with family.

Everyone assesses how
            threatening      talented           intelligent
                        old                   young
these students will be before they die. I would know

seeing as alternative medicine now embraces
the curative powers
            of death           of quarantine 
                        in a cell

and I've been avoiding being
            assimilated      assassinated
by a public who would have their country
vaccinated in this genocidal way.

Deonte Osayande is a former track and field sprinter turned writer from Detroit, Mi. He writes nonfiction essays and his poems have been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, a Pushcart Prize and published in numerous publications. He has represented Detroit at multiple National Poetry Slam competitions. He's currently a professor of English at Wayne County Community College, and teaching youth through the Inside Out Detroit Literary Arts Program.

Monday, 2 May 2016

A poem by Al Ortolani

Girls’ Choir

A dark haired girl sits in the center of the choir room pecking out songs on the piano. Her classmates are giggling through study hall. Some lounge on the floor texting, studying their phone screens. Another has isolated herself and connects dots in an AP English assignment. The girl at the piano returns to a fragment of a song which is reminiscent of McCartney’s “Golden Slumbers.” She plays around the melody. Maybe her song is something else, something more modern. Nevertheless, the energy in the room settles, girl linked to girl at 10 a.m.

slits of sunlight

through winter blinds, dancing

blue fingernails

Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared, or are forthcoming, in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, and the New York Quarterly. He has published six collections of poetry. His Waving Mustard in Surrender (NYQ Books) was short-listed for the Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award from Binghampton Univesity in New York. A seventh collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released by New York Quarterly Books in April of 2016. He teaches English in the Kansas City area. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

A poem by Louise King

The catch

the fish lay
beating red

the children watched its bleed
and stain, strained to see
the sun on silver
slapping tail and fighting fin

does it know how it looks
they asked, its mouth ripped
its bloat so urgent
large against our little feet

does it know
we cannot help but watch
then run to tell how sorry
and glad a thing it is
to kill

After a lifetime of writing, and having two children, Louise King is now submitting work to be published. Her poetry has appeared in I am not a Silent Poet and she performs her work in venues across South East London where she lives. Her short story The Crossing was longlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize 2015.

Monday, 25 April 2016

A poem by Antony Owen

Valentines Day for Invisible People

   (I)  Soldier

Sometimes you drift back there -
when people pluck up the courage
to ask you what it was like out there;
and you think of job centre smiles
when they mean out there, in war zones
and you think of that party at Kev’s gaff
when people fought over Miley Cyrus and if she’d gone too far.

   (II)  Refugee

Sometimes you drift back there
when Facebook Ken posts fuck off home
and meanwhile you fondle Aldi Pomegranates
knowing they are rotten inside yet people take them.
Yesterday you covered your whole body except your eyes
and everyone in the world seemed blindfolded except for children.

   (III)  Widower

Sometimes she returns to you
when Harry introduces you as Joan’s husband,
this is how you always stayed until March eighth
when Harry found you in May as a blue ship sailed
donning your medals you must have returned to Agrigento
silently thinking “fuck you Harry and your beige army of Naysayers”.

   (IV)  Poet

Some of us never returned to poetry
except the time when all of us were poets,
raising hell, or a child, or a cheap glass of plonk
and all of this was a life you wrote without words.
I have seen a thousand poets hide in the eyes of people,
extraordinary people who thought they were clichés, alas you were not.

Antony Owen was born in Coventry and raised by working class parents which has inspired some of his poetry collections by Pighog Press and Hesterglock Press. Other inspirations lay in war poetry and in 2015 Owen visited Hiroshima to interview A-bomb survivors. As a result of this trip he has been offered a full collection scheduled for publication and translation in Japan for circa Autumn 2016.