Thursday, 31 May 2018

A poem by Peter Kenny


En garde, I whisper, lunging onto the train,
my elbows dexterous in their micro-aggressions.
We're all on the same line, and I re-read
the same line, until a well-Wellingtoned woman

treads on the tail of my eye. She follows a red setter
carving through cow parsley into an open field.
He sprints, I sprint, into the priceless possibility
of a place with no station and nothing to stab for.

Peter Kenny is a poet and playwright and a freelance creative director working with health and humanity clients. His poetry publications include ‘The Boy Who Fell Upwards’ part of A Guernsey Double (2010) Guernsey Arts Commission and the pamphlet The Nightwork published by Telltale Press in 2014. Also Acumen, And Other Poems, E.Ratio, The Frogmore Papers, Other Poetry, Poetry London, Island Review, Under the Radar and more. He blogs at

Monday, 28 May 2018

A poem by Becky Bicks


The other day I almost panicked when I realized that
every piece of skin you’d ever touched on me
would someday leave my body.

Someday there would be a me
that had never been touched
by a you.

I tried to take stock of the things I still hold onto:
your birthday, favorite font (Garamond),
the nickname from the boyfriend you had before me (Freckles);
the way your mother taught you to never sleep in underwear (your body needs to breathe),
your favorite Christmas movie (Miracle on 34th Street, the 1994 remake),
the way you told me in the end that
even though it took awhile you were glad
you'd had the chance to teach me
to be a good kisser
(I’ll appreciate it later).

I realized, also, there are things I’m now forgetting:
what number Chanel you wore (5? 19?),
the way you liked to eat your wings (with blue cheese or ranch, or did you even like wings);
how you knew, when it was two girls
which one should hold the umbrella
(should you just hold your own)
and whether it even counted as sex
if you only ever used your hands.

I think I’m maybe also starting to forget
that thing that you said at the end
(I almost believed it)
about romantic and platonic love – they’re fluid;
how what we had here wasn’t an ending
just a shifting of form,
a reconceptualization (your word),
something easy.
You said, also, then
that sex was just another thing
you can do with people
you like to do things with.
So isn’t it simply nice
to have had the opportunity
to get to know another side of someone so well?
(Imagine how bonded we’ll be
in this next phase
of friendship).

Recently, I’ve contemplated sleeping again
in a t-shirt and underwear,
since I don’t actually mind feeling protected,
and I’ve also been wondering
if it could really possibly be true
that a remake is anywhere near
as good as an original.

This morning I read an article in a newsletter
(from Women’s Health Daily).
It was called,
“Why it’s Important to Remove Dead Skin.”

Becky is a writer, photographer, and designer currently living in Beacon, NY. Her work has appeared previously in The Wilderness House Literary Review, Eunoia Review, and decomP Magazine. She was born and raised in Memphis, TN.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

A poem by Ceinwen Haydon

Lena Love

Lena’s off to church one final time.
Sweating, and shaking,
she shuffles off
down her garden path.

She sits in a pew at the back.
Incense fumes smoke roses
from the chasuble.
They catch her throat.

Dimly, she remembers Harry.
They’d wed in all their finery,
later he’d scarpered, for good.

He’s left her lonely, holding
only one keepsake. Love.
His surname Love.

Ceinwen lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been published in web magazines and print anthologies. These include Fiction on the Web, Literally Stories, Alliterati, Stepaway, Poets Speak (whilst they still can), Three Drops from the Cauldron, Snakeskin, Obsessed with Pipework, The Linnet’s Wing, Blue Nib, Picaroon, Amaryllis, Algebra of Owls, Write to be Counted, The Lake, Ink, Sweat and Tears and Riggwelter with work coming up in Prole, Poetry Shed, The Curlew and Atrium. She graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in December 2017.

Monday, 21 May 2018

A poem by Jeremy Decker


Where does all the going go —
and does it ever went?
I’ve heard the gray men whisper snow —
and seen the red invent

new weather for the coming time —
in blue — in green — in yellow —
construct the dappled paradigm —
four walls where go can go.

And round the square the going goes —
to sniff at every corner —
til gray men hang her with a rose —
til red men try to mourn her —

“Where has all the going gone?”
That’s all I hear and see —
But dead men know what’s done is done —
The red — the gray — and me.

Jeremy Decker is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet from Mountain View, CA. His poetry has appeared in Old Red Kimono, The Road Not Taken, Stepping Stones Literary Magazine, and others.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

A poem by Jean Taylor


The edge of the high street
after dark

orange shadows
stretch over concrete

the stink of beer-breath hangs
in the air          you are touched

by the otherness of strangers
the thin crush of their  bodies.

Hold your head gentle
simulate indifference.

Fuck fuck knuckles bark
against bus shelter

two drunk men now
trainers jeans hooded jackets

a drunk girl aggravating,
scraping at the edge of anger.

They grapple on the pavement
topple over the kerb, flailing

onto the edge of the high street
after dark.

Jean Taylor belongs to Words on Canvas – a group of writers who work in collaboration with the National Galleries of Scotland. Her poetry has been published in a range of publications including Orbis, Northwords Now, Freak Circus and Poetry Scotland. She writes poems to explore what she is thinking or feeling, to express outrage or sorrow, or just for the pleasure of playing with words.

Monday, 14 May 2018

A poem by Julie Sampson

Piano lesson

to Keep time
she struggles
to time Keep
her ticking piano
teacher says
you keep running with the quavers you
Must Not
rush your Bach
the crotchets
need a steady beat
keeping time, the pulse

is like a walking man along the regular street
beat beat Beat

Julie Sampson's poetry has recently appeared in a variety of magazines, including, Shearsman, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Journal, The Algebra of Owls, Molly Bloom, The Poetry Shed, The Lake, Poetry Space and Amethyst Review. Shearsman published her edition of Mary Lady Chudleigh; Selected Poems, in 2009 and her full collection, Tessitura, in 2014. A non-fiction manuscript on the subject of Devon Women Writers was short-listed for The Impress Prize, in 2015 and a pamphlet, It Was When It Was When It Was has recently been published by Dempsey and Windle.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

A poem by Maureen Cullen

Strawberry Tarts and Swan Vestas

Rickety smile under the Ramsay beak.
Eagle… hawk… chatterbox bird,

ma clerty, ma flower, they chanty-wrastlers.

Clink of dimpled glass in a horseshoe bar,
brass rim holds up the camaraderie of strangers.

Sulphur scratch of a match, putter puff of pipe in palm,
coppers pinched from pockets for a garrison of grandweans.

Cap on tight for an early start in Clydeside smirr, trousers
braced to breastbone, wide enough for two city bakers.

For my first Holy Communion, though priest and penance shy,
best spread in the hall. Chocolate boats, strawberries in sweet liquor.

Maureen Cullen writes poetry and short fiction. In 2016, she was published along with three other poets in Primers 1, a collaboration between Nine Arches Press and the Poetry School. She has poems published in Prole, The Lake, The Interpreter’s House, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Reach Poetry and Salopeot.

Monday, 7 May 2018

A poem by Wanda Deglane

They Tell You It Gets Easier

How do I ease your worried mind?

My father, he tells me I’m okay now.
He says, It’s been years. He says,
What more could you possibly get out
of these pills? Of endless therapy?

But my mother is persistent now. Every day
without fail, she asks me, Did you take
your medication?
When visiting family,
she says, She’s just been sick, that’s all.
She’s getting better.
And my aunts and
uncles ask, Oh, sick with what? My parents
glance at one another with tight, thin lips,
and take another drink.

How do I soothe your worry lines?

My father scours my room with
extinguished eyes. He finds clothes strewn
about the floor, my sleeping body littered
on my bed for the past few days now. How
do you live like this?
he screams, almost in pain.
Are you some kind of pig? Aren’t you ashamed?
And his poor pig daughter, I sit up, bleary-eyed,
confused and stare at him until he finally, finally
gives up on me.

How can I make everything alright again?
How do I stop you from looking at me
like I’m withering away, from searching for me
like I’m already dead?

My mother, she calls me one afternoon in
the middle of the week, and nearly chokes on her
own relief when I answer the phone. Oh, oh, gracias
a Dios, gracias a Dios, she cries. What is it, Mom?
What happened? Are you okay?
She’s sobbing
into the phone now, says, Nothing, hijita, everything is fine.
I just had a feeling, the worst feeling, I was so scared.
But everything is okay now.
I hang up minutes later,
and step back from the open window. My mother
wipes away her tears and wonders to herself
if it is finally time to stop hiding the kitchen knives.

She decides against it, locks them away yet another night.

Wanda Deglane is a psychology/family & human development student at Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming on Dodging the Rain, Rust + Moth, Anti-Heroin Chic, and elsewhere. She writes to survive. Wanda is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants, and lives with her giant family and beloved dog, Princess Leia, in Glendale, Arizona.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

A poem by Robert Nisbet


We read of them as boys, the Bunters, the Etonians,
the midnight feasts. We never really envied them.

Later there were many other bastions.
Wet socks slapped to the changing room floor,
the Clarbie Seconds’ football team, hot tubs
for dousing mud, then down to the Picton Inn.
A couple of grammar school masters’ staff rooms,
where the crustacean elderly and those, like me,
crabby before their time, sat be-gowned.

In a university hall at Clyne, I roomed with Dai,
and come eleven, twelve, my metaphysical poets
and Dai’s engineering were packed off for the evening.
We got to our beds, last fag, and the slow review
of days that played out the rhythms of a tango,
others measured like a professorial fugue.
We surveyed girls and pubs and gamesmanship.
Dai brought off-colour jokes from the Welsh Society,
then he was suddenly asleep. I lingered, wakeful,
for a while, as Clyne Castle, on a hill above a bay,
would strew night’s rain or a silvered moonlight
around my wondering head.

At ten and seven years old, I and my brother lay
in our bedroom in the well-named Merlin’s Crest.
I told each night a meandering fable (based,
I now suspect, on The Beano and Lord Snooty’s Pals)
of boys and games and trips and motorbikes.
A yarn, a thread, which ran for years.
A tale of mornings and the crests of hills.

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet whose work has been widely published in Britain and the USA, with occasional forays into Canada, Ireland, India and Mauritius. His short collection Robeson, Fitzgerald ad Other Heroes, has just appeared from Prolebooks.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

A poem by Olivia Tuck

My 9:45 Has Borderline Personality Disorder

Why has this river cut me into an oxbow lake?

Help yourself to some tissues.

Why has the past grown talons?

The present should have a greater wingspan.

Why can’t I stop my sternum crumbling?

Make your exhalations longer than your inhalations.

Why am I a fat bramble: warped, ugly, hostile?

I just counted judgements as if they were beans.

Why has it been raining for nine days solid?

Depressions tend to come inland from the coast.

Why is the sky split across the middle?

I understand very little else about weather.

Why do you hate me?

Let’s play catch with these stones.

Why won’t God ever show Herself?

I have been telling you for an hour: I don’t know.

My 9:45 Has Borderline Personality Disorder was previously published in 'Please Hear What I'm Not Saying', a charity poetry anthology on the subject of mental health.

Olivia Tuck is twenty-one years old and lives in Wiltshire. Her writing has been published on Amaryllis, Lonesome October Lit and in Three Drops from a Cauldron, and is soon to have a poem included in Lighthouse. Her work (including this piece) also featured in Please Hear What I'm Not Saying, a charity poetry anthology on the subject of mental health. Olivia was thrilled to be a guest poet at the 2017 Swindon Poetry Festival. She is due to start at Bath Spa University in the autumn, to study for a BA in Creative Writing.