Thursday, 27 September 2018

A poem by Lisa Reily


you cannot hear spirit in this city, Annie,
only the sound of stilettos
clacking along the footways of East Croydon,
the buzz of new phones
passing homeless men under blankets; packets of chips
and longlife croissants placed beside them.

on the tube, people attached
to electric cords, detached
from conversation, nothing friendly,
except for a man who offers
to carry my bags up the stairs.

you cannot hear spirit in this city, Annie,
but away from here, amid the green

are wildflowers,
tiny white with yellow centres,
carried on salt wet air
across the North Sea, along the cliffs
of Thanet Path,

the stone church, cold, crumbling;
I touch the brittle concrete,
where a brick once existed;
heed nameless graves,
the glare of white sky, and black
clumps of dirt, churned to the surface.

I feel you here, Annie,
as a gull hovers overhead
like a child’s kite; as two terriers
bob over long grass, appearing, disappearing;

as bike riders pass and say ‘morning’,
a three-legged dog moves faster
than all of us, and
Sorrell drops a dead bird at my feet.

Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry and short stories have been published in several journals, such as Panoply, Magma Poetry, DNA Magazine, Scrittura Magazine and Foxglove Journal. Lisa is currently a full-time budget traveller and her writing is often inspired by her journey. You can find out more about Lisa at

Monday, 24 September 2018

A poem by Mike Ferguson

When Searching

An attempt to find something is a pursuit or a hunt but discovery will be differentiated. Turning an eye to the sound of a plane is a deception. Looking under rocks and other allusions. After an inappropriate amount of time he will find something suitable to wear at that wedding. There are directions and there is being directed. A horizon is a romantic vista for searching. It is even a quest though this has all the makings of a pretence. To iterate it is to make a kenning of action but never the intent. Find things, find love, find happiness, find peace. They are all in the wardrobe. Keep advancing the pages. To be reliant on the acquisition is to close all of the doors.

Mike Ferguson is widely published in print and online. A retired English teacher, he taught experimental writing to his students for 30 years.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

A poem by Sam Payne

This Pear

It’s not a gold one in a glass box
or a painting hung in a gallery.

It’s not the one I sliced in half
with a blunt knife and shared
with a surfer on Fistral beach.

It’s not the one I mashed for my daughter
and watched as her pupils bloomed
when the sweet pulp touched
her tongue for the first time.

This pear, this one right here – once bathed
in sunlight and glazed with light rain - is the last
in the fruit bowl.

A tear drop. A stopped bell.
Ripe and freckled brown.
A soft steady weight in my palm. Old

now and almost past its best but I like how
when I squeeze the flesh, my thumbprint remains.

Sam Payne is a writer living in Devon, UK. Her poems have appeared in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Literary Mama and The Open Mouse. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing with Teesside University through their distance learning programme.

Monday, 17 September 2018

A poem by Noel Williams

A thousand fictions

Scheherazade reclines behind my eyes.
I’m wondering which of me watches her flex
an ankle glazed in the slide of falling silks.
I’ve discovered different sorts of ignorance.

Somewhere between the curious boy
chewing the peak of his cap
and this too solid body now fearing to forget
I find the blindness of knowing my exact desire.

Consider bees in lavender, frantic
in the snack of the moment. They’re sure the next flower
will be it, the one secreting that colour of sky
that pumps the queen, waxes cell-walls to mirrors,
caught in the gauze of her story.

Noel Williams is the author of Out of Breath (Cinnamon, 2014) and Point Me at the Stars (Indigo Dreams, 2017) with poems published in the UK, US and elsewhere. He's co-editor of Antiphon (, Associate Editor for Orbis (, an occasional writing mentor and reviewer for The North and Envoi.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

A poem by Sharon Phillips

Absent Friend

i.m. M.W.

Your letter's so old the paper has yellowed,
its edges the colour of the nicotine stain
on your fingers. It was Rothman’s you smoked;
the ash fell grey and white on your cassock

as we sat in your clergy flat and talked.
You said you were sinful. Morning sun shone
through thin brown curtains you kept drawn,
glanced off red and gold icons on your wall,

the bottle of Russian vodka next to your chair.
You said you loved men. You said it was wrong.
You wrote out your recipe for aubergine salad,
in black ink on paper from your spiral notebook.

Your hand shook as you wrote. One Christmas
you gave me a case of sweet pink Krimsekt
and menthol cigarettes in gold and green packs.
You saw I was lonely. You made me laugh.

The last time we met we ate fish and chips.
I’ve always been celibate, you said. Your face
was sallow. You said you’d stopped drinking.
Keep well and happy, your letter ends.

Sharon is a retired college principal, who lives on the Isle of Portland, in Dorset. She spends her time cooking, reading and writing poems, some of which have been published or are forthcoming in Ink Sweat and Tears, Atrium, The High Window, Amaryllis and Snakeskin, among others.

Monday, 10 September 2018

A poem by Kelli Simpson

Love Culture

This is no place for falling out of love.
Love quotes hang like bunting in the rafters.
"We loved with a love that was more than love"
side by side with "happy ever after."
Pages of love poems paper the walls.
"I Loved You First," "The White Rose," "Flirtation."
Poets scream sonnets in every hall.
The moon murmurs slick, sweet meditations.
Throats are foot thick with love songs and lyrics.
"At Last," "Crazy," "I Will Always Love You."
Louder, louder to drown out the cynics -
"Just Like a Woman." "With or Without You."
Here, you are either Venus or vulture,
lip locked deep in a phony love culture.

Kelli Simpson is a mother and poet living in Norman, Oklahoma. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications including The Five-Two, Riggwelter, After the Pause, Glasgow Review of Books, and Eunoia Review. Find more of her work at

Thursday, 6 September 2018

A poem by Louise Wilford


You are the palest ring, the one
that nests inside the others,
flawed with at least one spilling knot-hole -
the oldest year, the eye of the wind.
You are within the curve of the wave,
its shielded centre, water curling
over you with blue-green wings.
You are at the hub, the sheltered
pivot around which others spiral.

You are the tender nucleus,
the pips inside the firm chamber
of the apple’s core. And at your heart,
the grown-up, glad-eyed girl still smiles,
a planet harboured by its sparkling circlet,
a tower defended by its crenelated
barricade. You are the hidden metaphor
at the axis of our mystery, the seat
of our success - the crux - the gathering place.

And we shall gather there,
for the time we have left will be finer
for the keeping of you - safe, out of harm’s
hounding. For if you keep us straight
and sound, holding the centre
of the sail in perfect alignment
with the wind that threatens to overspill
us, if you stay at the maze’s midpoint,
we will umbrella you home.

Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford is an English teacher and examiner. She has had around 90 poems and short stories published in magazines including Popshots, The Stinging Fly, Acumen, Pushing Out The Boat and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. She is currently writing a children's fantasy novel.

Monday, 3 September 2018

A poem by Rachael Jean

To Wake Again

A room the color of light
passing through a beer bottle.
The bar swells with bald men—
fat, with hair on their knuckles.
One hand around a drink, the other
on the hips, love handles, asses
of their women—fake blondes

in cotton sundresses cackling.
I order a fingerprinted glass
of Aztec honey,
watch the bartender
pour tequila. Juan
sits beside me—
black-haired, paunched,

añejo-colored skin.
He is here every time I am.
A regular. Sucks down margaritas
and tall boys of PBR, tries to dance
with waitresses
to the shitty cover band.
“To your parents,”

he turns to me, raising his glass
with a thick, unsteady hand,
“for making such a beautiful daughter.”
We fake love for the night—
hold each other and sway
until the streetlights

turn black. Then, each couple
files out, careful not to trip
down the front step. We shrink
into rusting cars, a rising sun,

go home to bad sex
and sleep until 1 pm,
only to wake again in a place
that once seemed so ugly
so impossible to own.

Rachael Jean's work has appeared in Bop Dead City. A Massachusetts native, Rachael currently teaches English Language Arts at a middle school just outside of Boston. Her work largely revolves around the themes of family, sexuality, and her hometown.