Monday, 29 January 2018

A poem by Jonathan Humble

Schrödinger's Mouse

Your love of my raspberries has resulted
in this late evening walk in head torch,

to hedges of hazel and blackthorn,
far enough from home to foil ideas of return.

Aware of owls ripping through moonlight,
I kneel in damp fescue and sedge,

clutching this tilt trap of quantum uncertainty;
mouse or no mouse? that is the question.

The trap gate opens. You see me for the first time,
holding the moment in beads of black polished glass,

small body wedged, feet splayed, heart racing,
a quiver of tense, anticipating whiskers.

And in that instant, in that brief connection,
my doubts bubble. This is a good deed isn’t it?

This forced relocation; got to be a better solution
than back breaking death or slow poisoning.

Although I try to convince myself,
I believe you remain sceptical.

I am your nightmare; the one interrupting
your nightly midnight feasting,

the one separating you from all your
blind, deaf and hairless babies,

the one from which you must flee in terror
the second the black plastic touches the ground.

But, unlike Mr. McGregor, as I stumble one mile
back through darkling woods, soft clart that I am,

I’m hoping the owls have an off day
and secretly, despite your fruit plundering,

I’d quite like to see you again.

Jonathan Humble is a deputy headteacher in Cumbria. His poems have appeared in a number of publications online and in print, including Ink, Sweat and Tears, Obsessed With Pipework, Atrium and Riggwelter. My Camel’s Name Is Brian, his collection of light poetry, is published by the Tripe Marketing Board.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

A poem by Dan Stathers


In a former life he mended fridges,
drove around Adelaide in a rusty ute.
That’s all we knew of his past, that
and his under/over bowling trick.

The lagoon was his medicine;
still drunk from the night’s grog,
he’d sink below its crystal-blue surface
and perform a medley
of half-baked strokes:
Best fuckin’ hangover cure I know,
he’d say as he towelled himself at the shanty bar,
toasting his survival
with a double on ice.

We’d watch the goats on the cliffs
while he talked his hippy-politics,
sharing the occasional silence as he rolled a cigarette
or read another page of Kerouac,
his wind-up radio singing fuzzily in the background.

Deep down I think he knew his time was borrowed,
his bootleg breakfast of Vodka and olives
as natural, to him, as the tides.

I often picture his shambled tent on the beach,
listen out for the fading longwave.

Dan is a writer from Kingsbridge, South Devon.

Monday, 22 January 2018

A poem by Antony Owen


I swam in a green sea with black and white people
some claim these waters have healing properties
but only if you talk of them to drowning children.

I once drew my brothers in black Crayola holding hands
back then I never captured their character or colour right,
and yet I did, it was only a colour I chose to see them in.

I once melted like ghee in the arms of a girl from India
we danced to Careless Whisper in the disco borealis
I trod on her toes too many times and left alone that night.

I unfriended a man I never knew who as a boy scored an own goal,
I remember it well, he never accepted responsibility for it
all of us lost that day and walked home tired and heavy.

I unfriended a man I never knew who posts beautiful photos of his son
they hold hands and teach each other things that will move or stop the world.
Tell me please that this is an important time to talk to our children of racism.

Tell me to not be prejudiced if I see men with innocent children 'like' fascists.
tell me this is only Facebook, tell me it is not the innocent boy turned man.

Tell me please to go back to the sea and surface clean, wait for me at the shore,
wrap a fluffy towel across my shoulders as I shiver goose-bumps to be smooth.
Tell me this is only real life, tell me it is an important time to talk of racism.

Tell me to stop shivering, and in return I will be nothing but honest with you
it was not because of the warm water why I felt so cold and tremored.

Antony Owen writes about issues largely unrepresented in poetry and his latest collection with V. Press The Nagasaki Elder is a timely reminder of the affects of nuclear weapons. He and his wife live in Warwickshire with their masters - two cats.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

A poem by Sharon Phillips

Storm Front

Storm Brian has eased after the UK saw gale-force winds and high seas… BBC News


Wind blows soprano
on the washing line.

Down in the harbour
boats jostle and nudge:
plink sings their rigging.

Tonight we will light
this winter’s first fire.


Not blustery Brian who sat
in the golf club bar and bragged,

nor bitter Brian who nipped
plans for the future to rags,

but Brian who was beaten
until his temper snapped.


little white ghost in the rose bush
sits on a branch nodding its head

raggedy bag a tatter of plastic
waggles its legs as the wind gets up

flaps its arms as night falls
trying to dance in the dark


A pot of basil; raindrops
and a yellow-bellied snail;
a lilac tree crooked with age
and on a grey stone wall
morning glory’s last blue flower.

Sharon retired from a career in education in 2015 and started to write poems again after a break of 40 years. Her poems have most recently appeared in Ink Sweat and Tears, Picaroon, Snakeskin and Sentinel Literary Quarterly. In 2017 she won the Borderlines Poetry Competition with her poem ‘Tales of Doggerland’ and was also shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. Sharon lives on the Isle of Portland, in Dorset.

Monday, 15 January 2018

A poem by Sascha Aurora Akhtar


There are similarities, there are blue ladies

On the street at night

Is there a chance to be worried or is it all hazard
The same ink-stains on the same two fingers, a leaky
Pen – babbling incessantly at a camera- Canary Wharf-

Not as holistic as it may sound.

It is simple Father, yet gormless spirit
I use the word moon over & over
My thoughts are too many
I confess to bankers that I am ridiculous

My new favourite word.

I discover things everyday
& cling to them like focus is a mandala
Yesterday I decided ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’

Was important.

Today I went to Canary Wharf, Earl’s Court & Camden Town
The Stables Market was deserted & loaded with story

I keep blue ladies on my desk

All the time, every day there are things that torment
Myself with words & nowhere to put them

Except into my mandala is focus

& words create, my left eye has been twitching
For four days, maybe five,
this has never happened
before. I think of things

All the time.

There are orchids growing
in the rose garden.

There are blue ladies

singing me
 a blue sleep.

Sascha Aurora Akhtar, is a trans-race, multi-dimensional, sub rosa poeto/story-bot. She was patented in Pakistan. Had upgrades in pre- 9/11 U.S.A. Was released onto shelves in the U.K. Her roboto-poetics have been widely anthologised and translated into Armenian, Portuguese, Galician, Russian, Dutch and Polish. Anthologies include Cathecism: Poems for Pussy Riot (2012) and Out of Everywhere (Reality Street, 2015). She has also been part of poetry protests – Against Rape (Peony Moon, 2014), Solidarity Park Poetry – Poems for the Turkish resistance (Ed. 2013). Her most recent poetry collection is 199 Japanese Names for Japanese Trees (Shearsman UK, 2016). Her story The Nature of Wounds appeared in STORGY in 2017. Women:Poetry:Migration, an anthology (Theenk Books: Edited by Jane Joritz-Nakagawa) is upcoming in 2018 with poems from A Year In Clouds.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

A poem by Louisa Campbell


I‘m sick of vampires
with their blood-sucking,
swing-swagger cloaks;
swooping round gaudy moons
embellished with boasting bats;
shrieking, love, love, while wiping
the blood from their chins
with white silk hankies;
moaning, poor me, oh poor me,
as they pounce and puncture,
then go to bed in a box.

And me?
I’m sick of me,
grinning with garlic,
cringing with a crucifix.
From this day on,
it’s a stake through the heart.

Louisa Campbell lives in Kent in England, where she writes poetry and adopts stray dogs. Published here and there, she has realised that life is silly, but important, and she is very happy about that. Her first pamphlet The Happy Bus was published in 2017 by Picaroon Poetry.

Monday, 8 January 2018

A poem by Chris Hemingway

The Wrong Unicorn

On the night of her ninth birthday
my daughter tells me
that the reindeer is just another flightless mammal,
that my handwriting is not that of a fairy
(tooth or otherwise),
and once this logic is applied,
the Easter Bunny sheds plausibility
quicker than his winter coat.

She's happy to have worked this out
but I wonder is she sad as well ?
Does growing older have to mean
fewer things to believe in ?

I tell her myths survive longer
than most truths
and there's no such thing
as the wrong unicorn.

Chris Hemingway is a writer and musician from Cheltenham. He has self-published two collections (“Cigarettes and Daffodils” and “The Future”), and has a new pamphlet “Party in the Diaryhouse” out in Spring 2018, to be published by Picaroon. He is part of the organisation team for Cheltenham Poetry Festival, and co-runs the “Squiffy Gnu” poetry prompt blog and Facebook Group

Thursday, 4 January 2018

A poem by Robert Nisbet

Pairing for Life

The Brecon Beacons, 1990

I’m driving through a cold March countryside
to the schoolday’s work.
Above me two red kites,
with all the extravagance of height,
enact their courtship ritual, flying in,
turning, twisting. I’ve heard
they’ll often touch their talons.

School means for seven hours
the patterning of chalk and book,
till four, when Dilys the staffroom cleaner,
coffee cup akimbo below scarcely legal fag,
gives us great gobs of sentiment: The Sun,
these hippies in their communes
and, on the opposition benches,
those mythic characters we’ve never met.
There’s Her Old Man for one, good family man,
steady, and (he must be thirty now)
The Boy, who’s had his arse tanned many times
and works now, thriving, with the Water Board.

As I leave, I see again
two soaring kites,
sweeping before a grizzled mountainside,
high and aloof and, surely, exhilarated.

First appeared in Other Poetry, 4.2

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who does not see himself as unduly competitive but who has recently won the Prole Pamphlet Competition with his 35-poem collection, Robeson, Fitzgerald and Other Heroes, which has just appeared from

Monday, 1 January 2018

2 New Year's Day poems by Melanie Branton & Sharon Larkin

New Year’s Day
by Melanie Branton

Roy Wood has given way to Bono
and no-one wishes it could be this day
every day. This holiday’s
a Christmas gift we’d all take back
if the shops weren’t shut. The buses
have stayed in bed, sleeping off
their Hogmanay hangover. I’m stranded,
working my way through this tub of time
I’ve been given, with even less
enthusiasm than I did
the Quality Street. A hole in the calendar,
a blank page in the diary, a white,
white, white world, without even
the promise of promo video snow.
I yearn for tomorrow, the commute
I cursed, the job I couldn’t wait
to get away from, the colleagues I loved
to bitch about. I will be with you again.

Good Things Jar
by Sharon Larkin

When all that is left of Christmas is a single brazil nut
too hard to crack, and another wet dawn drips in
from the bedroom ceiling, it's time to grip
that coffee jar, recycled in 2014
and re-labelled Good Things.

Some crafty sisters Instagrammed
their optimistic glassware, blinged it
with sequins and plastic rhinestones.
How proud they looked in their selfies
on January the 1st, each one declaring,
card-to-camera, This Is My Year.

Screw you.

My see-through receptacle, embellished
in that same wave of New Year euphoria,
rests with the history books in an Ikea unit,
scowls down at me from three years of dust,
its handful of crumpled post-it notes
demanding to know from inside their prison
why I lost my resolve.

Screw them.

I am ready now to drop my transparent accuser
on quarry tiles in an – oops – onrush
of post-truth reality in my out-dated kitchen.
All that stops me is a determination not to grovel
on the floor with dustpan and brush
sweeping up all the slivers.

Sh*rds, the lot of them.


Melanie Branton has taught English and Drama in Poland, Somerset and North London. Her work has been published in journals including The Interpreter's House, Obsessed With Pipework, Prole and The High Window. She also performs widely on the spoken word circuit and has represented Bristol at the Hammer and Tongue National Slam Final.

Sharon Larkin's poetry has been published in anthologies (Indigo Dreams Publishing, Eyewear Publishing, Cinnamon Press); magazines (Prole, Obsessed with Pipework, Here Comes Everyone) and e-zines (Ink Sweat and Tears, Amaryllis, Clear Poetry, Atrium). She jointly runs Cheltenham Poetry Café – Refreshed, is Chair of Cheltenham’s Arts Council and Poetry Society, and was editor of the Good Dadhood on-line poetry project. She has an MA in creative writing and a passion for Welsh language, literature and history. Website: