Thursday, 29 March 2018

A poem by Peter Daniels

Self-Portrait with Quiche

With my face in the mirror at the back of the shiny cabinet
full of quiches, you can see me inside the street reflections
that have almost fallen apart as they catch the shelves,
the glass front, and the mirrored side along the shop window
which is pulling the view of the High Street backwards:

more cubist than simple paired infinity mirrors. The straight
street the Romans built has been shattered to these facets,
and a quiche has embedded itself under my chin, like
an Elizabethan ruff. Quiche was significant when the menus
exploded and Real Men Didn’t Eat Quiche (though they did)

but the menus have exploded far beyond that and now I’m
reflected eating my avocado on sourdough toast like a hipster,
– I test how they do it in all the cafés along the High Street,
some of them already closed down and new ones opened
since the avocado started its reign of smooth satisfaction.

Quiche isn’t my dish, now I keep off both egg and cheese,
though I could be once more tempted by a true quiche lorraine,
continental Europe’s egg-and-bacon pie: one sunny day between
Baden-Baden and Luxembourg I treated myself in a Strasbourg café
out of a cabinet reflecting the backwaters of the Rhine.

Now we’re becoming stranded from the shores of Europe
over our Channel, that once was the lower Rhine valley before
the sea rose and Doggerland sank, and David Cameron, splashing
around like a would-be Etonian Triton, troubled the waters with
the last ripple of the inundation of where we were once joined up.

And now this cabinet of quiche stands as my place of reflection:
do I belong with the bold quiche-eaters or with the suave
avocado mashers? Is that a choice? Do I have to eat it? There’s
Theresa May striding around in her heels like a vicarage Boadicea.
Someone should give her a quiche in the face. Maybe me.

Peter Daniels published his second collection, A Season in Eden, with Gatehouse
Press in 2016. His first collection Counting Eggs was with Mulfran Press in
2012, and he has had pamphlets from HappenStance, Vennel Press, and
Smith/Doorstop (as twice a winner of the Poetry Business competition). He has
also won the Arvon, Ledbury, TLS and Ver poetry competitions. His translations
of Vladislav Khodasevich from Russian (Angel Classics, 2013) were shortlisted
for several awards, and as Queer Writer in Residence at London Metropolitan
Archives he wrote the obscene Ballad of Captain Rigby (Personal Pronoun, 2013).

Monday, 26 March 2018

A poem by Ali Jones

Spider plant

She pots it furtively, five minutes before you leave,
presses your hand with afterthoughts, a little bit of green.
The engine calling, she wipes her nose on her sleeve,
turns back to the house and the spaces where you’ve been.

It journeys with you, hall to house to home,
a presence to hold feathers, and fragrant joss sticks.
Surviving in high windows, caprice keeps it alone,
a guardian of parties, studies , the ones that stick.

Yearly, pot changed and plate polished, it stands,
you eye its roots, wonder why it hasn’t died.
Green tendrils, spreading, ever hopefully, reaching,
where you are, she can always touch you, you cannot hide.

And you wonder if one day you’ll hand it on,
press cuttings into their hands as they are gone.

Ali Jones is a teacher and mother of three. Her work has appeared in Fire, Poetry Rivals, Strange Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin Poetry, Atrium, Mother’s Milk Books, Breastfeeding Matters, Green Parent magazine and The Guardian. Her pamphlets Heartwood and Omega are forthcoming with Indigo Dreams Press in 2018.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

A poem by Kevin Reid


and pre-heated,
I was the kink
that had to get out the kitchen.

Hand on the back
of my tired neck, nodding,
always nodding. Yes. Yes. YES…

…the en-suite was to fuck for.
Everyday I showered
with a different goose.

They all came with a voice,
hard, soft, like back home.
I'm not one for saying ‘No'.

Kevin Reid lives between Scotland and other lands. He is the founding creator of the online multimedia collaborations >erasure and >erasure ii and Wordless, an image and text collaboration with George Szirtes published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press. He’s also the editor of Nutshells and Nuggets, a blogzine for short poems. His work can be read in various journals such as, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, Under The Radar, Seagate III, Scotia Extremis, Domestic Cherry, And Other Poems. A mini pamphlet Burdlife (Tapsalteerie) was published in 2017.

Twitter: @eyeosphere

Monday, 19 March 2018

A poem by Sonja Besford


i drink wine in a dank bar on the bank of a brown river
i drum on the table with my left thumb
five beats in a bar simultaneously (that’s what i hear)
thinking about a woman who doesn’t belong
to anyone, anywhere, perhaps doesn’t even exist
it’s not relevant, no, it is relevant, so-o-o relevant,
i pray no one will find me in this hell-hole
intent on confessing his real or imaginary sins,
demanding my understanding,
my pauses and grunts taken for wisdom;
that is why i’ve come down here to the wrong river-bank
so i might become invisible, saturated with the smells
of fish soup, vinegar and the live infection sitting
at the table opposite, her face lit by a cigarette;

on the stained table cloth i project that woman who doesn’t
know that she exists, who doesn’t belong to anyone but me,
i see eleven ways of our skins meeting,
a free entwining of ghosts, subsiding shyness, togetherness,
i am a thread on her supple spool, bewitched executor of her
flights, she is the map-maker, the key holder to all my locks,
the opener of my unyielding secrets and the stories i’ve had
no one to tell, not until i imagined her listening to me —
i inhale the kitchen stink, feel real and possible, even cheerful,
but someone opens the front door and the inward draught
brings familiar voices, anxious, hungry, eager to find
my listening presence and reinstate my void

Sonja Besford was born in Belgrade (Serbia). She now lives in London and has thirteen books published. Her work has appeared in many magazines, and has been translated into various languages.
She is president of the Association of Serbian Writers and Artists Abroad (ASWA).

Thursday, 15 March 2018

A poem by Marg Roberts

Role reversal

or what I wish had happened when dad nearly missed the train to visit Grandma…

Wouldn’t it have been grand, Mum
if it had been you, in your fawn coat
hat like a squashed cushion
who had jumped, at the very last minute
into the carriage to join us
five tickets waved aloft

wouldn’t it have been fair
if, just once, Dad had nursed
my baby sister on his lap
her snot dribbling down his jacket
his stomach clenched from waiting
his hand swotting my other sister
he had picked and wrapped in newspaper for Grandma
while I chanted, she’s gonna’ miss it
miss, miss, miss it
and the engine chuffed steam
clouding the platform and his mood

and what if
instead of you muffling the thought:
how unreasonable of you, my husband
to leave the house ten minutes after
his family, so having struggled with the baby
a toddler and a little girl uphill
to the railway station, Mum,
you’d let him have it
full on

if it had been you who pulled the communication cord
because the guard, an old man
was left standing on the platform
and when he leapt into our carriage
with his flag
it had been you, he’d thanked and shaken by the hand

wouldn’t that have been grand?

Biography: I am a poet and fiction writer. My poetry has been published in magazines (Orbis, Reach, Cannon’s Mouth) and on-line (Ink sweat and tears, Algebra of Owls). My first novel was published by Cinnamon Press in October 2016. I have an MA in creative writing. I love reading and writing. My website:

Monday, 12 March 2018

A poem by Deborah Alma

That Summer of Rats

they came, four or five big ones
their tails overlapped,
slipped around the chicken feeder
outside the window where we sat

one in each of our mustard yellow chairs
his and hers, yours with its straight back
and mine with the fluffy red rug
and you raised an eyebrow

and laid out the poison
and we watched as the babies took it first,
with our own satisfaction
at the sweetness of the trap.

Deborah Alma is a UK poet, with an MA in Creative Writing, taught Writing Poetry at Worcester University and works with people with dementia and in hospice care. She is also Emergency Poet prescribing poetry from her vintage ambulance.

She is editor of Emergency Poet-an anti-stress poetry anthology, The Everyday Poet- Poems to live by (both Michael O’Mara), and her True Tales of the Countryside is published by The Emma Press. She is the editor of #Me Too – rallying against sexual assault & harassment- a women’s poetry anthology (Fair Acre Press, March 2018). Her first full collection Dirty Laundry is published by Nine Arches Press (May 2018). She lives with her partner the poet James Sheard on a hillside in Powys, Wales. website is:

Thursday, 8 March 2018

A poem by Steve Xerri

poem : machine

after William Carlos Williams

a glimpse of the welling and unfurling
of what we cannot then have known
it would come to mean / once the days
had notched on a bit and you gamely
took up the pen in spite of misgivings /
to set down facts no-one else in the room
would assent to / swearing so help them
there was no frame to the picture
only some strips of masking tape
holding its corners / no single rose
dropping petals from a long-necked vase /
but a jamjar with some marguerites
shoved in / the scene a painter might
have called interior with painting
and flowers / this wrenching moment
complete with actualité

when you said / what you said / but this
does not make it real or about love

Steve Xerri has been a teacher, musician, illustrator and web designer but now prefers writing poetry and making pottery. Published recently in Acumen, Clear Poetry, Stride Magazine, Brittle Star and The Interpreter's House, won the Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2017 competition. Poems forthcoming in The Poetry Shed, Ink Sweat & Tears and Envoi.

Monday, 5 March 2018

A poem by Roddy Williams


I think I would like to die in July
but not this year, not just yet, not so soon.
July is a pause at the apex of joy
before the swandive to Morrissey world.
So if I must die I’ll die in July
while the sky’s filled with rolling Simpsons clouds
and trees on heat are Mexican-waving;

when the air is treacly and dormant,
not keen to move itself out of the way
and light is sluggish, clinging to the
undersides of leaves slipping downhill at
dusk to sleep as day dissolves into night
sticky with promises of a naked moon
perhaps, to dance me through the last few days.

Originally from North Wales, Roddy Williams lives and works in London. His poetry has appeared in 'Smiths Knoll'. 'Magma', 'The North', 'The Frogmore Papers', 'The Rialto', 'Envoi' and other magazines. He is a keen surrealist photographer, printmaker and painter.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

A poem by Michael Dwayne Smith


I do experience loss, a sense of one’s own illness,
and I don’t like idle talk or being judged. Probably

I’ve visited her twenty times. I didn’t want to be
invisible in California, or sadly surprised, so she

taught me a different way of working, challenged
play to become something more. Look, this is just

fucking madness here, Ted Kaczynski not a disease
but a symptom and all they do is blame Islam now

because Scientology, Marilyn, and Rock ’n Roll ain’t
workin’ anymore. You only need to take a cab in L.A.

to understand the many intersections here, straight
white men trying to steer through HIV, assault rifles,

Tijuana, Big Pharma, Black America, Hollywood
playgrounds, Playboy sans nudity, Red Lobster,

bankruptcy, hecklers, open questions about Queer.
I’m here, lodged between the Airport Hilton and

homemade fear, and she’s driving down to save me.
I’ve given her nothing, deserve nothing. Imagine

dragging yourself, she said on the phone last night,
So then you’d get to decide where to be pulled…

pre-9/11 simplicity, pre-Katrina NOLA, anytime
anywhere pre-Internet…

I said no, none of those. Maybe something in a new
comic book hero, with a noir passion for isolation,

a future-sick sense of here, now, of one’s own loss.

Michael Dwayne Smith lives near a Mojave Desert ghost town with his family and rescued animals. His most recent book is Roadside Epiphanies (Cholla Needles Press, 2017). Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, recipient of both the Hinderaker Award for poetry and Polonsky Prize for fiction, his work haunts many literary houses--including The Cortland Review, New World Writing, Skidrow Penthouse, Word Riot, Heron Tree, Pirene's Fountain, Gravel, San Pedro River Review, Monkeybicycle, burntdistrict--and has been widely anthologized. When not writing or teaching, MDS is editor of Mojave River Press & Review.