Monday, 30 April 2018

A poem by Sarah Law

We’re a man down, said the dentist

lowering herself carefully into my mouth:
you have some rough phrasing here, also
a couple of sighs stuck in the back molars.
I don’t mean to cause any pain, but the other day
I almost lost my daughters in Sports Direct,
anything pink and they vanish. I’ll polish
& then fill; could you pass a size three.

I practice minor scales on my knuckles, thinking
that at least to be prone is to be flat; when
my heart syncopates I try an Ave. Yesterday
I felt like a bird perched high above a crag
with no reason to doubt & plenty to fly.

Your tongue has some scalloping which fits exactly
to the cut of your jib, do you juggle? drink wine?
I’ll pack the caesurae with snow, it will last
until your next kiss. Is there anything bothering
your soul? Facial exercises do work wonders.
The dentists of past centuries had to be inventive
with anguish and brandy; you do wonder what’s
going on when they keep changing the recipe.

Sarah Law lives in London and is a tutor for the Open University and elsewhere. Her last collection was Ink's Wish (Gatehouse Press) and she has had recent work published in Ink, Sweat & Tears, Stride, Eunoia Review, Psaltery & Lyre, and Allegro. She edits the online journal Amethyst Review.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

A poem by Andy Stallings


One wishes to write a letter,
more than to receive one.
No one knows what formed
the grooves in the bark of the
Louisiana Live Oak, but then
again, no one’s asking. He
kept a catalogue of unwanted
things, discarded things,
forlorn spaces, dead things,
and attended to the rhythm
of the garbage trucks
spreading out from the
landfill into the city. The
sexuality of concrete, beneath
the police cruiser’s rotating
blue disc. Glamour was
elsewhere, a bundle of dried
leaves burning. I’m waiting
for the dusky lyric. Rhetorical
blind spot.

Andy Stallings lives in Deerfield, MA, where he teaches English at Deerfield Academy. His second collection with Rescue Press, “Paradise,” will come out in 2018. He has four young children, and coaches cross country running.

Monday, 23 April 2018

A poem by Jennie Farley


Mighty Imps, those little black devils.
We pass the tiny silver tin beneath
our desks as Miss Bradshaw strides
about, gown billowing, barking
numbers chalked on the blackboard.

When Miss Bradshaw’s back is turned
Susan sticks out a blue-black tongue.
My mouth’s on fire with the taste of sin.

We’ve all become flying angels, straw
boaters turned into haloes, gymslips
unfurled like wings. We are floating high
above roofs and hockey field and Chapel.
No one can reach us now.

JENNIE FARLEY is a published poet, workshop leader and teacher. Her poetry has
featured in magazines including New Welsh Review, Under the Radar, The Interpreter’s
House, Prole and several anthologies. She has performed her work at Cheltenham
Literature Festival, Cheltenham Poetry Festival, Swindon Poetry Festival. Bristol Poetry
Revue, The Everyman Theatre, and various local venues. Jennie founded and runs
NewBohemians@CharltonKings providing regular events of poetry, performance and
music. Her collection My Grandmother Skating (Indigo Dreams) was published in 2016.
Her new collection Hex (IDP) is due out 2018 .

Thursday, 19 April 2018

A poem by Hannah Linden

The Cape

Red is the colour of the weeping night – 
colour you can't see but can feel
on your tongue, feel it wrap itself
around your shoulders: all those nothings
wrapped into red somethings.

This poor child carries it as if it were a gift.
For all the longing in her eyes, I have no answers for her.
It is always luck. I can only sew wishes into stitches
and leave holes for her to find. These are my knots
and I tried to make them beautiful.

I am tired of knitting red at night. But what else
could I have done? She is a wolf-daughter
caught between forest and cottage. There
was never a path. There were only well-trodden
mistakes and seeds scattered to cover them up.

Based in Devon, Hannah Linden has been published online, in print magazine and anthologies. She was highly commended in the 2015 Prole Laureate Competition; and, with Gram Joel Davies, won the 2015 Cheltenham Poetry Festival Compound Poetry Competition. Over the last couple of years she has been putting together her first collection, Wolf Daughter, which explores the impact of parental suicide and this poem is part of that collection. Twitter:@hannahl1n

Monday, 16 April 2018

A poem by Paul McDonald

Three Oncologists

(After the painting by Ken Currie)

I stumble on the trio,
eerie masterminds of cancer,
performing in the space
where cells mutate,
proliferate like fungi in the night.
Each brings his own abnormal light,
spectral in the theatre of fear.

Surgeons called to arms,
they rise from the unconscious
like sprites trailing photons
through the dark.
They’ve been to work:
observe the bloodied gloves,
autoclaved utensils of dismemberment,

faces talced with doubt.
They hear my pulse beating
in the stalls, turn as one,
surprised by my spectatorship:
mortals shouldn’t witness such a show.
I stumbled on the trio,
now tremble as I watch them glow.

Paul McDonald is Course Leader for Creative Writing at the University of Wolverhampton. He is the author of several novels, critical books, and has poetry collections with Flarestack, Cinnamon Press, and Indigo Dreams Press. His poems and stories have won prizes and been shortlisted in numerous competitions including the Ottakars/Faber and Faber Poetry Competition, The John Clare Poetry Prize, The Sentinel Prize, Bedford International Writing Competition, the Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize, and the Bridport Prize.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

A poem by Hannah Stone

Derek is typing a message

Derek is paid £9.78 an hour
to write polite messages to customers
who choose to use the chatbox.

Sandra wants to expedite her tax rebate.
She does not want to access the website
for a quick and speedy solution to her problem.
She despises tautology,
and the practise of using nouns as verbs,
and couldn’t give a flying fuck
about acquiring Government Gateway Credentials.

Derek is sweating alcohol,
downing Red Bull and Fanta.
While he waits for Sandra to finish composing her query,
Derek is typing a message
on whatsapp to last night’s date.

Sandra is gratified at the personal attention she receives.
On the feedback form she ticks ‘exceeded expectation.’
Derek is nominated for a ‘target-meeter of the week’ badge.
He does not get a second date.

Hannah Stone has two collections published, Lodestone (Stairwell Books, 2016) and Missing Miles (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2017), and has contributed to numerous anthologies and journals including Envoi, The North, Frogmore Papers, Snakeskin and Prole. She convenes the poets-composers forum for the Leeds Lieder Festival and co-edits the poetry e-zine Algebra of Owls. A Londoner by birth she has lived in Leeds for decades and in other lives is a hill-walker, OU tutor and forager.

Monday, 9 April 2018

A poem by Tristan Moss

Moel Hebog

I approach through bog
and grassy mounds,
from Beddgelert.

It’s a slow unrelenting slog:
the only way up
to look back

how far I've come.
Then on bare rock,
my feet find grip

and eventually
reach a plateaued top,
where a cairn breaks the blasts

so I can eat my pack-up,
watch bits of frozen grass
swirling in the air

and hear the only other person say
'this beats Christmas TV, any day'.

Tristan Moss lives in York with his partner and two young children. He has recently had poems published in Snakeskin, Lighten Up Online, Open Mouse, and Picaroon Poetry.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

A poem by Reuben Woolley

removals & other pantechnicons

i’ll leave this page

he said

elsewhere there is sky
& skin
  all clear

tell me
the hard stories
the steel rain
i don’t know

these wounded children
show him

a dust of tears / a yellow storm
i gather

  the walls
come rising
come falling
& flags don’t warm
this frozen ground

Reuben Woolley has been published in Tears in the Fence, The Lighthouse Literary Journal, The Interpreter's House and Ink Sweat and Tears among others. Published Books: the king is dead, 2014, Oneiros Books; dying notes, 2015, Erbacce Press; a short collection on the refugee crisis, skins, 2016, Hesterglock Press; broken stories, 2017, 20/20 Vision Media Publishing. Forthcoming, some time we are heroes, The Corrupt Press.  Runner-up: Overton Poetry Pamphlet competition and the Erbacce Prize, both in 2015. Editor of the online poetry magazines, I am not a silent poet and The Curly Mind.

Monday, 2 April 2018

A poem by Sonja Nelson

I Dreamed There Was a Fire on the Moon

I dreamed there was a fire on the moon.
And it hung glowing in the sky
like a jack-o-lantern’s crescent smile.
I could see it
and inside time was ticking,
ticking. I don’t have much time left.

I don’t have much time left;
the moon is your home,
and somehow I must save you
before the flames engulf,
before the smoldering surface melts
when the moon falls from the sky.

When the moon falls from the sky,
I would see it like a rip
tear across the fabric of my black-out curtains,
because even in my dreams
I hunker in a bomb shelter.
The world is not my home either,
but then neither is the moon.
The moon is a place people go when they die.

The moon is a place people go when they die
and you died
long ago now but
our spheres are only separated by outer space,
and in my dream I have a rocket.
I might not often brave the world down here
but for you I’ll brave the sky.

For you I’ll brave the sky,
this time
I’ll catch you before the moon burns.
Next I would take us to a planet where we both belong,
but we both know I’ll wake up
before we get there.
We both know I’ll wake up before we get there.

About Sonja - I live with my boyfriend in Oakland, California, and though I am currently disabled, I’m looking forward to soon being able to return to school, where I hope to continue studying clinical psychology and creative writing. I have enjoyed writing poetry since I was a child, and it has since remained a great passion of mine.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

A poem revisited by Richard Skinner

Black Water Side

Your mind is a house full of people running through rooms
looking for keys. Doors slam, but far away,
so softly you’re not even sure you heard it. Turn
the door knob and step into the freezing landscape.
Notice the weeping willow bending over the beck.
The black water now runs red.

Your life is here, made up of minutes, hours, naps,
errands, routine. The little things have to be enough.
The valley is reduced to the side of a fell and cloud coming in.
The sheep are cragfast, the deer keep falling down.
You’ve nowhere else to go and you’re sure of it now—
this is the wrong mountain.

Black Water Side was first published on Amaryllis in December 2015 - it is taken from Richard's new pamphlet 'The Malvern Aviator'

Richard Skinner is a writer working across fiction, life writing, essays, non-fiction and poetry. He has published three novels with Faber & Faber and three books of non-fiction. His poetry has appeared in the Faber anthology First Pressings (1998) and in anthologies for William Blake, John Berger and Médicines Sans Frontières. He has published three books of poems with Smokestack: ‘the light user scheme’ (2013), ‘Terrace’ (2015) & ‘The Malvern Aviator’ (2018). Richard is Director of the Fiction Programme at Faber Academy.