Thursday, 30 March 2017

A poem by Belinda Rimmer

Swindon Sky

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

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

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

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

Many of us never left.

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

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

Monday, 27 March 2017

A poem by Donal Mahoney

Cold Water Raining between Them

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 23 March 2017

A poem by Michael Paul Hogan


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

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

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

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

Monday, 20 March 2017

A poem by Sal Consoli

If we could Talk like Bumblebees

Glosa inspired by rupi kaur

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 16 March 2017

A poem by Shikhandin

Before Winter

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

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

Monday, 13 March 2017

2 poems by Claire Walker

Two Birds Join Me for Coffee

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

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

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

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

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

Previously published on 12/01/2016

Under the Elm Tree

For Mary Anning

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 9 March 2017

A poem by Allie Long

How to End Up Alone

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

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

Monday, 6 March 2017

A poem by Bobby Steve Baker

Relativity or Einstein’s Psyche

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

shining heavenward at the speed of light, forever

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

Thursday, 2 March 2017

A poem by Danny Fitzpatrick

Mary Jane’s Birthday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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