Not a political poem


This will not be a political poem.
In fact, this will not be a poem.
This will just be a rambling of
arbitrary thoughts currently
occupying my mind,
jumbled up words,
like the ones my neighbor
used to mumble.

A middle aged, tall, bearded man,
always seen in a Pajama.
A good part of my childhood was spent
seeing him speaking to himself
in a language perhaps
only he understood
with the exception of the small
liquor store owner in the interior
of the slum, right outside our neighborhood.
Only he would comprehend,
perhaps was his only friend,
from whom he’d buy cheap
country made liquor each day.

Everyday our school bus would stop
near his house, and
on my way back, I’d hear
loud screams and cries of a woman.
Noise of doors banging,
glass breaking,
horrified, I’d look around
to see if someone would
come out of their grandiose homes…

No one ever did
life went on as normal, and
as time went on.
it didn’t matter as much to people
as it once did
(assuming if it ever did).
I was told: It was their personal matter.
I couldn’t wait to grow up.

It’s been a few years, and
I haven’t seen the woman
nor the man.
The house looks abandoned.
I wonder where they are now.
I wonder what happened.

But no, I don’t want to
write a poem about this.
About them.
about their personal matter.
‘Personal is political’ as they say, and
I don’t wish to write
another political poem.
That’s just rambling to some people.
Rambling, what I seem to be doing
Thus far…


The Cooking Gene


He asked if I could cook.

So I asked if he could hunt.

"Hunting? No. Why would I know that?” he said

"Oh 'cause if you can't hunt, then what would I cook?” I said perplexed

"Well, you're supposed to know

How to cook

For you're a lady."

I didn't know there was a cooking gene

Women carried innately

So, thank you!

Oh, enlightened man, for letting me know.I said

Wait...I can smell something...


Oh, that's the food

For you

I put on the stove

So much so for

The cooking gene

I was bestowed

Oh well...

Time for it to be chucked away

So say your goodbye

Both, to the food, and me

And please oh please

Stay miles away!

Poets are ultimately…

Seducers, teasers
who shamelessly seduce and tease
their readers
until they fully
submit themselves.
They talk dirty
blow into their ears,
sweet little things,
tell them about the
sound that the
ocean makes.
The salty breeze,
stars at night,
the full tide,
shells on the sea shore,
on the sand.
Just then,
they let go off the
readers’ hand,
drown them
in the ocean, and

Prerna Bakshi is a Macao based poet of Indian origin. Her work has previously been published in over two dozen journals and magazines, most recently in Grey Sparrow Journal, Silver Birch Press, Wilderness House Literary Review and South Asian Ensemble: A Canadian Quarterly of Literature, Arts and Culture. She tweets at @bprerna


the lava that flows when morning erupts
a spilled drink
vodka and tonic

a dusting of sugar
that garnishes the day
when it's fresh out of the oven

fresh sheets
bleached linen
night with the peel removed
a brass rubbing done with
a white crayon


I'm at it again:
chasing strange men in funny coats
up that double spiral staircase.
Time traveller, gumshoe, stalker, aftdaughter.
Adrenalin drumming ancestral rhythms,
as their blood rushes to my head.

They always outrun me -
well, to be fair, they have had centuries
as their head start.
I glimpse them in the distance sometimes,
shadowy blurs through the paper,
but then they're squeezing through gaps in the records,
losing themselves in a tangle of blotched ink,
hiding behind that wide-armed X,
as if they are trying to exorcise me.
Now and then, I think I've caught them,
but all I have is a name on a page;
their character eludes me,
shrugging off the letters like a coat
and sneaking away.
All I'm left with is a list of dates
and a suspicion of their flavour
in my chromosomal soup.


I sometimes envy

bad things happening
the sudden application of a blunt instrument
in some ways much cleaner, less painful
than the incremental padded bludgeoning
of good things not happening

a womb never occupied
sterile as a show home
a ringless fourth finger
a whole heart
no kinks where breaks have healed
but grown flabby
with lack of exercise
aching and wheezing
under its own weight
a steady job
steady as the scaffold
as the pallbearer's
safe pair of hands
an uncluttered diary
I would die of exposure
in its acres of snow
lie down and go to sleep
but its coldness numbs, not kills
its pages stretch to the horizon
blend with the blandly clouded sky
a Mobius strip of misery
a kinked zero
sealed with a zip

Melanie Branton lives in North Somerset and has worked as an English and Drama teacher, an assistant theatre director and a full-time carer.  She won the Bristol regional final of the 2015 Hammer and Tongue poetry slam.

Bridge Street

The morning after, two men out buying papers
disappear into houses. Railings. Gates.
A cold, quiet Sunday, the church clock misleading.
Two crows walk by the wall, some kind of policemen.
Incident tape. Blood stains on the kerb.

Knifed, they said. His brother,
from that house opposite. Bad reputation.
Lies in the shadow of the church.
All that and no mother.
Kept the whole neighbourhood awake with parties.

He’s in his thirties now. Was.
Never said hello. Had ME last two years, hardly went out.
Out last night though.
Someone dies opposite your house
and you don’t hear a thing.

Fire Raising


A man I was once married to, was only
truly at home when making a fire,
the art of it, the preparation –
newspaper rolled and twisted,
wood chopped thinly for kindling,
then medium sized to large,
a bucket of coal at hand.
Fire was his sacrament.
He would shape-shift through the ages,
contemplate on his knees, calmly light a match.
He was a fire god, in his element.

My mother, on the other hand,
though she made fires every day,
eschewed artistry. Hasty, dangerous,
she would have several runs at it.
Her first attempt, on badly built foundations,
would founder. The second needed a firelighter,
then a small stack of firelighters
Don’t tell your Dad.

She did not understand the fire’s need for air.
I would sit near, worried.
Having coaxed a small ember alight, a curl of smoke,
she would grab a sheet of newspaper
to make the fire roar. Excitement,
but she would hold it for too long,
so the paper began to blacken and burn.
A hole would appear in the centre,
till she must bundle the whole lot into the grate.
Even so, the fire was lit at last, at least.
The day could begin.

Angels and Satyrs


Standing in the kitchen, my feet feel cold marble, the buds in my shoulders are about to break. I must learn to walk naturally, balancing their weight. Within a week they are open, ready to test out. Angels must practice. It is not easy to wear wings. I never get sad. I am an angel. Angels sit softly balancing their feathered wings. I no longer need to eat. Only honeyed drinks which sparkle like champagne. Nectar, with lemon and ice. My feet hardly touch the ground. Pale skin, long limbs, fair hair: yellow to make you cry out. My clothes and knees are always clean. Angels don’t always bother with bodies. Float as heads wearing candy pink wings, resting quiet chins. We angels move with perfumed ease through life. Having aureolic sex. The occasional embrace or kiss. Long low kisses with tongues, and slow. Slow as a wing-beat, as a hover. Angels love to fly. One thing, the colour of my eyes changed. That bothered me. He doesn’t like green. You talk such shit. Who gives a damn about your wings. You look like an adman`s dream. Selling shampoo or toothpaste. Christ! You make me sick. In my opinion, angels aren’t worth a light. All so bland and blond. He doesn’t like dark hair does He? Satyrs have more fun. Who needs wings - try my tongue. Satyr paces soiled ground, stinking of semen. Rank and persuasive. His face is a mask. His clown’s smile always a devouring grin. His horns are budded, standing
up on his head among brown curls. He is always naked, strutting.

Rose Cook is a poet and photographer. She has had three books of poetry published. Her latest collection is Notes From a Bright Field published by Cultured Llama. Rose has performed and shown her work throughout the South West of England and as an Apples and Snakes poet, she has appeared in venues from the Soho Theatre in London to the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth.

Lions And Tigers

The old guy told me
he thought that lions
were cowards because
they hunt in packs -
he admired the tiger
because tigers hunt alone.
I wondered if he felt
an affinity for the tiger
because he recognised
himself in them - solitary,
independent, courageous.

I mused over his words
and figured the lion smart -
a coward maybe, but
a coward with a full belly.
The tiger is dumb -
all bravado and no meal.

I didn't have the courage to
disagree with the old guy
because I was the lion
and he was the tiger.

The Bird Man

He talked to
himself -
softly but
and with crooked
finger he pointed
imitating a
flying bird, moving
his hands like

I was glad
to watch him
because I wanted
him to be right -
and he was,
there was something
flying up there.
He smiled - pleased
to be sane enough
to know that birds
fly too.

The Car Wash Manager

The car wash manager yearns
for some witty banter, to ease
the monotony of his mundane job,
to colour routine, to sprinkle adventure
over a wasteland mechanism that he is nailed to -
a process that has driven him to a perfect madness,
robbed him of a perfect smile, and there is no time
for fun dialogue - “here`s the money, clean my car”.

One day he will be free
and the gods will laugh with him -
“handbrake off in neutral please!” -
the customer revels in a cocooned
haven of soapy bubbles.

Because Of The Deep Notes

I saw poker-faced monsters in shuffling cars plot,
I saw the misshapen grins of arching fountains -
the pulsing hounds in shadowed gunshot.
In lost ships I saw ghosts within coats of forgotten stitch,
under the strips of desert skin I saw the old bones twitch.
I saw giants big as churches juggle fire in the alleys
where the fleeing fox sat, among the cracked walls
were the manacled cat calls and pouring fibre rat.
I saw the broken spine of stopped clock as the scattered stars wept,
without the midnight chimes the great conductor in the sky slept.
I saw misbehaving angels in chariots clad in gazelle breeze run,
I saw the roll of a hurricane bowl of palm trees glad of a golden peach sun.
I saw flesh crawl upon deserted beach floors in the name of contorted sin,
I saw the ocean contours rock in tender velvet hymn.
I saw horses gallop under backstreet tunnels that curved in graffiti art,
of a rainbow arc illuminating in the dark, and our names penned in a love heart.

Because of the deep notes.

Stephen Philip Druce is a fifty year old poet/humour poet
from Shrewsbury in The UK. He is currently published with
Muse International Journal, Locust, Spokes, Pulsar, Ink Sweat
And Tears, Century 121, The Write Place At The Right Time,
Fade, Art Villa, Hermes, and Shot Glass Journal, The Inconsequential
and Bad Scents Of Humour.

In August 2015 he signed an ebook deal in the USA.
QUIRKY SHORTS is a collection of humour poems -
follow the link here http//

Friends with Benefits

Whoever made up such an awful concept

was obviously never in love.

If my wife, even when she was only my girlfriend

had a “friend” who enjoyed her “benefits”

he’d be dead and I’d be in jail – simple as that.





He’s losing sleep over wanting

to advise his old friend to give her husband

an ultimatum: either the beer goes

or I do. But he fears it’ll backfire

and he’ll lose them both so he does nothing.





“I’ve never been so busy in my life” he exclaims

after adding another item

to his To-Do List. Whatever happened

to retirement meaning being bored fishing

and falling asleep on the porch in the sun?


Always running out of time
our affair was built on glass
and fragile as your ego.

Like the first layer of ice on puddles
in the fall that Inuit call sikuaq
a gust of wind could shatter it.

When you left
a thought crystallised
as hard as your disdain -

now I can be myself.

Night Visitor

The air's velvety and moist tonight
as if seeping from wet pines,
then I sense a slithering

on the path.  With my lantern,
the moon, I stare at a small slug.
What damage will it do to flowers,

leaves, stems in the garden?  My toe
touches its slimy, shell-less form,
pushes it gently onto the loam.

There's room for everyone.


The linen cupboard never gets sorted.
My desk is jammed with notes and cards
that never get shredded.  Family photos
and papers scattered here and there

should be put in some sort of order.
Blinds are dusty with the lust of summer.
My closet floor is lined with old shoes
that never get taken to jumble.  Yet

I find time to meander to the mouth
of this glistening river, listen to maple leaves
fall one after another, watch oystercatchers
open shells with long blade-like bills.

Nearby dowitchers probe submerged sand
for small molluscs and krills, while overhead
a bald eagle soars above ponderosa pines
and disappears behind a cloud at sundown.

Mary Franklin has had poems published in Iota, The Open Mouse, Ink Sweat and Tears, London Grip, Message in a Bottle, The Stare's Nest and various anthologies.  Her tanka have appeared in poetry journals in Australia, Canada, UK and USA.  She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

'Reel to reel'

if you have never met somebody
what can you make
of a recording
played for you to hear
their voice

you can look to the face
of the person
who plays it
hoping for something
of what they hear

like looking in water
to find a reflection
and you see flickers
and shadows - even a mirror
responding poorly
to your own face

you can search in the carpet
for some distraction
try to get lost in its patterns
to help you to concentrate
bring you to hear
the person it was

and you remember
a day in the forest - midday
the hottest summer for years
when you halted
and listened
stood there as still as you could

and heard nothing
only the silence
till a small bird called
too high and too far in the foliage
too common a note
to tell which it was

but it was alive in the forest
when you had thought
nothing was there -
and you turn to the person
who listens beside you
see in their features

someone they know
is there
alive as they listen
though you cannot hear


It is easy to give -
if you are that way
inclined -

some of course
are tighter than brazil nuts
abandoned at Christmas -

the rest of us though
can give -
some more than others -

but to receive
to take in your arms
the picture he lifts from the wall

once you have said
that you love it -
to be given -

as I was once
at a station
by the person departing

their suitcases bundles and boxes
tied up on wheels -
to be given the wheels

because I admired them -
to hold up the train
while they untied them

to stand there waving
like some one-winged
creature exalting

as they set off –
such teachers -
how to receive their giving

how to learn
as they teach it so well
the art of receiving

'The wonderful emptiness of words in English'

which get filled
wherever they are placed

as if a glass jar
on a sill
once lifted up
could be poured
to cover you with light

or a person
leaning on a railing
could be fed
such nourishment
with one embrace

as if a person’s meaning
could be found
once placed
alongside others
and as the others changed
it still made perfect sense -

all the ‘by’s and ‘may’s
and ‘to’s and ‘is’es
the ‘in’s and ‘up’s
and ‘ours’ and ‘for’ -
‘to be’ and ‘not to be’
took over generations
'is this a dagger'
brought sleepless nights

so many words
neither here
nor there
not this not that
but give
or take
a word or two
a pause
a space

arrived at
so becoming

in their use

Desmond Graham 's latest collection is called 'The Scale of Change' Flambard 2011. He lives in Newcastle upon Tyne.



Single life is-tequila with lime,

shots of travelers, jacks, diamonds, and then spades,

holding back aces-

mocking jokers

paraplegic aged tumblers of the night trip.

Poltergeist define as another frame,

a dancer in the corner shadows.

Single lady don’t eat the worm…

beneath the belt, bashful, very loud, yet unspoken.

Your man lacks verb, a traitor to your skin.


Jesus in a Nighttime City (V3)


Jesus walks

Southwest side

Chicago nighttime city

in bulletproof vest






stores closed,

blasted windows,

mink furs stolen,

a few diamonds for glitter-

old parks, metal detectors, quarters, nickels, dimes,

coins in the pockets of thieves, black children

on Merry go rounds, Maywood, IL.

danger children run in danger

in spirit, testimony,

red velvet outdates Jesus' robe.


Clock Maker (V2)

Solo, I am clock maker

born September 22nd,

a Virgo/Libra mix insane,

look at my moving parts, apart yet together,

holes in air, artistic perfection,

mechanical misfits everywhere,

life is a brass lever, a wordsmith, an artist at his craft.

Clock maker, poet tease, and squeeze tweezers.

I am a life looking through microscope,

screen shots, snapshot tools,

mainsprings, swing pendulum, endless hours,

then again, ears open tick then a tock.

Over humor and the last brass bend,

when I hear a hair move its breath,

I know I am the clock waiter,

the clock maker listens-

a tick, then a tock.


Life Is-Transition


Transition, is song, passages.

291.5 pounds, age 66, 6'4', gross as a pig waiting for

          butcher's cut.

Aging chews at my back, my knee joints, chisels, slivers

          in dampness.

Legs are corn stalks burning; twist fibers, bending, late

          October, Halloween night.

Good news, 67, lost 38.9 pounds this year, rocking gently

          shifting my pain away.

I am no longer a beagle pup, an English cocker spaniel

          chasing the bitches around,

no longer a champion bike rider, yo-yo champion, nor

          Hula Hooper dancer or swinger.

Now I expand my morning stiffness with stretch rubber

          bands, legs lifted high then down.

Wild mustard, wild black rice and the Mediterranean diet

            have taken over my youthful dining experiences.

I no longer have nightmares about senior' discounts, or

          meals on wheels,

part-time bus driving jobs, or aerobics.

When spices are in season, I out live my postponements

          to my grave.

Screech owl, I am an old buck, baby hoot on a comeback,

          dancing my ass off.

Transition, shedding old lose snakeskin.

Still listening to those old hits, like Jesse Colter, Waylon Jennings,

          "Storms Never Last."

Transition, is song, passages.


Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era:  now known as the Illinois poet, from Itasca, IL.  Today he is a poet, freelance writer, photographer who experiments with poetography (blending poetry with photography), and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois, who has been published in more than 875 small press magazines in 27 countries, he edits 9 poetry sites.  Michael is the author of The Lost American:  "From Exile to Freedom", several chapbooks of poetry, including "From Which Place the Morning Rises" and "Challenge of Night and Day", and "Chicago Poems".  He also has over 73 poetry videos on YouTube.

Read Michael's poetry elsewhere:

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from The Ruminations of Nasr Uddin


I go to the mosque for company,
I drink coffee to praise God.

A letter came from home, and I could smell
the heat, spices, bread baking in a courtyard.

The doctor tells me I have a heart condition;
it is good to know I have a heart, in this world.

I tried to write a ghazal, and was mocked.
“Do something useful”, people said to me.

I sat with a dying man
and held his hand, in silence.

Growing old, I avoided mirrors,
yet they would not avoid me.

Each day I looked for letters from home,
and sometimes they came, sometimes they did not.

I said to the young, “It does not matter
what you learn, it matters who you learn from”.

Your beard grows so long, Nasr Uddin!
What are you hiding beneath it?

from The Ruminations of Nasr Uddin


Let me whisper a story into your ear,
one that will stay with you on the journey.

Laden with shopping bags, I recalled those mules
I once saw, burdened with the trade of others.

“Work one hour overtime, you’re paid double”,
the foreman said. So, I get two hours back?

I make no likenesses of God. To me,
He is like an equation, unsolveable.

I spoke with a rabbi, who showed me the Torah.
“It is a good book”, I said, “but where are the jokes?”

I have no desire for virgins in Paradise,
preferring my women to be experienced.

Do not neglect the words of a fool;
they will return to dog your footsteps.

I had a wife, once. Her voice was soft,
and her breasts were sweet as pomegranates.

Your wealth means nothing to me. I have already
been that Nasr Uddin of whom the wind spoke.

from The Ruminations of Nasr Uddin


Like Abu Hasan, my farts are loud enough
to drown out the lies that are told about me.

I took a job in an office,
filing documents that meant nothing.

The mosaic of tower blocks, parkland,
terraces winding out into nowhere.

I found work as a gravedigger.
It was a life with no prospects.

The past and the future are two rats
that are gnawing beneath the floorboards.

Reaching for God, I reach within;
what I find there is a mystery.

I have loved many women.
Only a few have known me.

It was only when I was silent
that I began to hear myself.

You are foolish to write, Nasr Uddin;
it is easier to be forgotten.

Philip Kane is an award-winning writer, storyteller and artist whose books include The Wildwood King (Capall Bann, 1997) and The Hicklebaum Papers (Mezzanine Press, 2010), as well as his latest poetry collection Unauthorised Person (Cultured Llama, 2012). His performances, readings and workshops have been widely praised. Active on the thriving North Kent arts scene for over thirty years, he has been dubbed "Medway's Mephistopheles" by Poetry Scotland. During that time he has been a community arts worker for Arts in Medway, and Artistic Director of Storytellers Live – a storytelling club for adults – as well as of the River Roots festival. He is currently Artistic Director for the Rochester Literature Festival. A founding member of the London Surrealist Group, he has built up an international reputation, publishing and exhibiting in a number of countries including Spain and the USA. Philip was featured in the December 2012 issue of WOW Magazine

   Eulogy for Pluto: Pluto’s Not a Planet Anymore


                                He came up from underneath to become

                                           A doggone funny guy

                                  (the first of his kind with comic thoughts)

                                     Who sometimes stole Mickey’s briefs.

                                                     A star

                                             Elevated to a planet.

                                              He did pretty well…

                                           He stayed out of the way,

                                            Was clear (never Milky),

                                          Maintained an axis, not evil.

                                            Kept to constant rotation,

                                            Well-behaved and predictable,

                                              Worked well with others.

                                             He retired from being funny

                                           And was never in the news

                                           For murder, starting a war, or anything

                                                  We would particularly abhor.

                                    And so well we may ask, “What’s the demotion and this

                                                       Eulogy for?”

                                                     The answer…

                                                 He was just too small.

                                                 A victim of a sort of

                                               Planetary Peter Principle.

                                          Yet another Goofy idea, no doubt.

                                           Like a poem, that revolves around…

                                                          The planet






I was little.

You were big when you died.

I see the bearers bow and bend,

how come this narrow coffin can contain your mass ?

          Ribaldo, audace, lascia a’morti la pace.

Your body on its way

to sieved soil, microscopic life and digging

animals that eat

your body and its shroud;

          a cenar teco m’invitasti, e son venuto;

to a black hole, a new

heavy cross to bear.

          parlo, ascolta, piu tempo non ho.

My grandma’s gone.




Searching through the small amount of seasoned hardwood

in his shop he settles on a piece of laurel,

sets it down to clean the edges.

He notes the grain, planes it, all six sides,

and sands it down into a thing of beauty. His hands slide,

slowly, his fingertips caress the slight lines, just raised

above the silken skin.


The knife is old, sharp, he tests it on his hair.

It travels well along the th

ought incisions, his mind closes,

he sharpens his awareness of the cut.

hree days; late into night, when he works

by touch alone, he knows this face so well.


Two eyes look out from deep in the wood.

True and good, she says. Now shower, shave,

dress in the blue suit, go place me on my grave.

Jon Killi  is a 76 years old Norwegian. his poetry has not been published, with the exception of three haiku-like shorties, 2 in a small magazine in the U.S. and 1 in an internet publication in Australia.

East London

From amidst the cascading sounds
of cityscape, unconsciously blurred
by the mind, a familiar tune flows out
of the open window of a passing car –
Hayo Rabba, Hayo Rabba, Hayo Rabba -
and soars past the smoky grey lines
of old terraced houses, sandwiched
between new glass monuments,
aspiring Taj Mahals of the 21st century.
Winding my way through a maze
of languages – Hindi, Bengali, Tamil,
Malayalam, Urdu - I trespass
on bold immigrant dreams.
Cutting across spiced souks, I seek
the ambience of mosaic territory,
sans nations, sans borders, sans disputes.
An old church, converted into a temple tower,
drones in mantras, rising on the filigreed wings
of exiled visions.  I am bathed in the milk
of Sanskrit, clothed in divine raiment, perfumed
by incense and camphor, drowned in soliloquies
of pealing bells.  A handsome young god,
alighting on peacock-back, welcomes me
with open arms:  Yamirukka bhayamen?
Why fear when I am here?

Hayo Rabba - Popular Punjabi song by the Bhangra legend, Daler Mehndi



 Swan Woman

            {After W B Yeats and Rubén Darío}

The silver arch of my neck flowing into the blue
of the stream, I am a water-woman, carrying rain
and snow in the pristine white of my feathers.

Apologues bubble and froth, churned by my hips
that once bore the weight of the heavens, of a Swan God
engendering nemesis.  I dress in his feathers now,

my dreams burning in the pyre of light that dies
on western skies.  I feed on transient flecks of time,
precious pearls and myths that fall from the sky.

My clutch of eggs, two sets of twins, warmed by
brooding morning and lilting evening.  Under me,
the river eddies with the narratives of centuries

and legends that cross boundaries.  He happened
upon me like lightning, as I bathed.  He flew down,
his erotic cries painting the helpless air.  My neck

caught in his bill, his great wings beating above me,
his dark webs caressing my thighs,  his silver feathers
pouncing on my breasts,  he ravished me in rolling waters.

He poured his Olympic libation into my velvet flower
in full bloom, my sobs scattering the amber dusk, his
immortal lust quenched by endless female hungers.

I am surprised at myself.  I don’t wait for him anymore.
I fold light between white wings and map the sky
with dark whoops.  My neck, an arch around the moon,

my love’s wound burnished, I fly in style, with stars
at my flanks, twilight fastened to my coral beak, rainbow
fables fluttering from the silken tips of my defiant feathers.


Summer in Kerala

{after reading Kamala Das}

This drink of mellowed Indian summers,
seasoned in a coconut shell, that only
wayward prodigals can drain. I sip the sun,
its liquid fire, its gold essences that only
summers in Kerala can distil.  Even the agony
of exile running through my veins cannot
but be dissolved by the clandestine April sun
that engenders untamed monsoons.  The thoughts
that I blow into this woody coconut shell cloud
its soul with the effervescent ardour of sunburnt
longings. These snatched moments of home,
soothes my fevered brain that fervently chirps
for the monsoons like the brain fever bird
on moonlit nights.  Can these stolen moments
dipped in aureate air quench my thirst
for lost Indian summers?  Can I ever forgive myself
for leaving you behind?  Can you ever forgive me,
my pretentious exiled verse and my lingering
melancholy that fill the shell of my being
to the very brim?  I drain the essence of mellowed
Indian summers.  I drink the nectar of the April sun,
like the parched earth drinking the laden sky.

Indian born Usha Kishore is a British poet, writer and translator, resident on the Isle of Man, where she teaches English at Queen Elizabeth II High School.  Usha is internationally published and anthologised by Macmillan, Hodder Wayland, Oxford University Press (all UK) and Harper Collins India.   Her poetry has won prizes in UK Poetry competitions, has been part of international projects and features in the British Primary and Indian Middle School syllabus. The winner of an Arts Council Award and a Manx Heritage Foundation Award, Usha’s  first poetry collection On Manannan’s Isle was published in 2014 by dpdotcom, UK.   A second collection of poetry, Night Sky Between the Stars,   was published earlier this year by Cyberwit, India.  Forthcoming is a book of translations from the Sanskrit, Translations of the Divine Woman from Rasala, India.  Usha is now working on her first novel. 

Are you not talking to me?
Some things are better left unsaid
Yet cauldrons bubble
With shutters down
Grinding perspirations
Steaming up the walls
Brain in meltdown
Knee deep in rage
Urge to extol like shit
And while you slowly die inside
They continue to weave, thread and bite
Like blundering, over ripe mosquitos
And before you know it
The bigger picture does not exist
And you’ve sprayed that fucker
Red against the wall.
Maybe a few words
Weren’t so bad after all.

The smiles arrive with ease
Enthusiasm reigns
First impressions crucial
So he throws it all
Into the Parade
Leaving himself
The true essence
Trailing last
Secure now
Pay later.
Let Go

The voice begins
At the same instance
All comes to a stop
The moment you lose it
Yet you still do not comprehend
That a new order is in power
You’re no longer in government.
It’s not until
The answers stop coming
And the people cease responding
That you stand back
To notice the view is plain
The horizon close
And very empty
With account access denied.
You weren’t simply swindled
You were complicit
An invisible participant
In your sudden
Though steady demise.
Your contribution is duly noted
You may be dismissed.

Anthony J. Langford lives in Sydney, writes novels, stories, poetry and creates video poems. He is a 2014 Pushcart Prize Nominee. Some of his recent publications include Vayavya, Subtopian, Perihelion and The Blue Magazine. He works in television and has made short films, some screening internationally. A novella, Bottomless River (2012) and a poetry collection, Caged without Walls (2013) are out through Ginninderra Press.
Anthony J. Langford

This is about race
This is about race.
Not British girl meets island boy.
A tale of love, sold in colour.
This is about race.
Not picking truth from barbed words,
Licking implied guilt from denied wounds.
This is about race.
Not bringing home distanced jealous voices.
Allied, now the outside world bears witness to my flaws.
This is about race.
Not repeated absences as all ah we become two.
Nor staking lives to bet, and lose, your second chances.
This is about race.
Not dreams of fourteen, playing, children,
Can she handle she stories? Run fast enough?
This is about race.
Not debasing a mother’s love, a child’s need.
Taking even his right to recognise a stranger.
This is about race.
Not the struggle at the intersection,
Nor reclaiming those dark hours.
This is about race.

Kristy Lascelles is an academic psychologist with a research interest in cognition and physical appearance. In her free time she dotes on her baby boy. Before him she was a carnival reveller, wanderlust and Britain’s No. 1 consumer of Wensleydale cheese. 


"A decade has passed since I saw your eternal smile,"
said the Poet (in classical Greek) at the Louvre to the Horseman.
"Stone lasts. Your millennia dwarf my little while."

"How sad, but your self-pity leaves me cold," said the stone,
"for I am only a lump of marble carved by a mortal:
my envied eternity thus is really his own."

The Prince and the Dragon

Armoured only by his raw awareness
of vulnerability and the pain
of death, the desperate prince besieged the tower
to free the green-eyed lady or be slain.
    Bewail the dragon's agony.

The dragon had mastered all the tricks of warfare
and seen and eaten princes before,
but the one thing he could not conquer was tradition
and thus, his nine lives he yielded sad roar after roar.
    Bewail the dragon's agony.

The colours of the land had yearned to open,
the birds and brooks and bees to sing. But the snail
wrote a silver script across the sunshine:
that this was far from the end of the tale.
    Bewail the dragon's agony.

The hero got his girl and gold and glory
and chose from his enemy's weapons, taking the best,
and went home to settle down to the life
of a dragon: plotting peril for every guest.
    Bewail the dragon's agony.

Thomas Orszag-Land is a poet and award-winning foreign correspondent writing from London and his native Budapest. His work has been published by Message in a Bottle and it appears in current, forthcoming or very recent issues of Acumen, The Author, The Jewish Quarterly and Stand.)

1.      On your side

Rolling over on your side of the bed

Just to feel what you feel

To see where the night of your thoughts lead to

If the smoke from your last cigarette

Helped you clear your entangled thoughts

Questioning our long marriage

Of unheard cries, of unspoken arguments

Of your new found urge to find true love

While I still struggle with all of it silently

Wondering why my palette of words

Was insufficient to colour your horizon

The smell of your sweat and your perfume

On the bedspread, remind me of the routine that is left

In the arms of the nights solitude

I cry and I cry with my voice loud

For my heart to clearly hear and understand

That the miles that have made home between us

Are only meant to stay and grow

Like the guava trees in our garden

Which we watered together

2.      Raising words in your world

Thoughts are drizzling raindrops.
They just sink in me to become ink. And then ink spills on its own,
becoming words.
Each word transforms into a prohibited territory nameless as a bastard
conceived in love alone.
It’s a red word because white means peace and there is nothing sort of it.
My words are as slick as freedom, uncanny, untamed.
Pauses reflex them, makes them impotent. If I store them they will rot
into stinky thoughts.
 If I speak them you will accuse me an anarchist.
So I simply bury them, deep under the quilt of poems.

3.      Between

In between your could haves

And my ifs

The closet of our dreams

Is filled with hangers of silence

Lingering with odours of solitude

Neatly stacked masks of smiles

Which we use and reuse

Poornima Laxmeshwar resides in the garden city Bangalore and
works as a content writer for a living. Her poems have appeared in
Kritya, MuseIndia, Writers Asylum, Stockholm literary review, The
Aerogram and are forthcoming in Northeast review and The brown


He lived for just a few hours.
She breathed soft, warm into his mouth
one first-last kiss before they took him away.
Before he came, her life was a sealed envelope:
she lived in a windowless room and painted
herself with fresh faces every day, drawing
the curtains on the light in her mind.

Now she finds a moment each day
to stagger to that place
between cries and whispers
where she rests
and dries her tears.
She has found her true body,
endless as space; and carries
his empty body with her through
the avenues and alleyways
of her waking hours.

Luigi Marchini

That day

It is soft rain when you wear clouds
on a day in the holidays you should never remember

in the seaside with a beach of stones
where the palm tree is painted each winter-

the beach you never walked straight on,
the day the brownie camera impaled you,
the beach where you left a time capsule to float.

Even now you ask, and they say the same,
those just a scratchy dream, those with breath

who stood in sunlit gardens or sat by frosted trees,
each turned your flesh into a map for what they had lost.

You looked and found the beach alone with the sea,
streets dancing with leaves,
houses blowing net curtain kisses,
car doors swinging with cats poised to pounce.

And the cheering is still loud and windows
of flickering light take memories

and makes a forest of pine darkness,
so you found myths to stop the blood.

It is a day when the bullet made it six-coloured.
This is you with barbed wire scratches.
This is you at the window, face like a moon

while the one who carried you and the one who made you
stared at black and white history.

Your history makes them turn round
to a day of sunshine on the beach of sand
where the light made the sea a place to walk on forever.

Shapes mapped in the darkness

From behind gooseberry bushes
the rhythm of radio pop music
American, Detroit and I think
Today let’s live but tomorrow…

The apple tree drops apples
on leaved soil, each one a future
not bitten, the rot lets death
say which roots, which grows

On the washing-line, in pairs
Magpies chatter with harsh
judgements like toy soldiers
that stab with tin fingers

Later a moon smile breaks
an owl stays silent to a question
and the wind turns from the east
to blow a page open

Stop a priest and ask

and will the hawthorn wear spring clouds
as the woodpecker kees and drums in sun

to warm the buds of ash and polled poplars
in streets where lovers waited to watch the moon

with arms around waists that kept a warmth
of love hidden from the bite of winter frost

And will the pubs serve beer sipped by men
with dirty hands from the making of a ship

of rivet steel that broke waves and hearts
in ports of sun and ports of city towers

so the women of one cow farms could stare
at a rock wet from the tears of waving ghosts

And would the child afraid of candle footsteps
that whispered touch learn to sing with skylark

high in the sky as swallows titter at fools like
those who want a heaven of things unseen

John Alwyine-Mosely is a poet from Bristol, England. His work –often quirky, funny, dark and thought provoking - has appeared in Three drops from a cauldron, Stare's Nest, York Mix, Clear Poetry, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Street Cake, Screech Owl, Abbreviate Journal, The Ground and poems of his were distributed in "Feel the Love" held in Cobourg, Ontario.



I used to think I
was my own worst enemy
and so did many
of my friends.

But I wanted to be sure.

So I kept a diary:
a record of faces and names ,
fluctuations in pulse,
blood pressure,
frequency of swearing
and kicking the cat.

You get the picture.

Turns out I was wrong.
My worst enemy
is Jeremy Kyle.
I only made 4th place.
I grabbed 3rd
on the death
of Jeremy Beadle
but I’d have to do something
really stupid
to overtake
Jeremy Clarkson.

Ray Miller likes Jeremy Corbyn.


If you could take one emblem
from the Saturday market
and preserve it

it might be that wodge of cheese
sliced through by the wire
and crumbling softly

Mandy’s curtains, checks, whorls,
so many reds, yellows, oranges,
a tender blaze

John, the leather stall, his ten-minute break,
gulping back draughts of grateful tea
after a good morning

The earnest bibliophile, in second hand books,
finding a serendipity  
in the orange Penguins

The postman, his round over,
(a whack of Amazon stuff today),
stopping in the tea bar’s commonwealth




Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

The mirror’s been there fifty years,
decked gold with cherub’d edges,
once winking in the Palace Ballroom,
seeing such shifts and joys of colour,
white petticoats’ spin
and Taylor, sneaked up close,
to comb that quiff of Elvis-black.

The forty years of warehouse
brought difference, shades of grey.
And mirrors don’t do sound, so
missed trade’s tread, the drivers’
banter, whistling, daily round.

Now, the social centre. The scene
still slow, bingo things, the bob
of greyer heads. But Taylor still
sneaks close, with boxed-set comb
(a present from the Widow Jenkins)
to groom that white moustache.

Robert Nisbet
was for some years an associate lecturer in creative writing at Trinity College, Carmarthen. His poems appear in magazines like The Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House, Dream Catcher and The Journal, and in his collection Merlin’s Lane (Prolebooks, 2011).

Reasons for the Deluge


Yahweh judges humanity as wicked & evil

God judges humanity as corrupt & violent


in the Gilgamesh story

the flood is mentioned only in passing

as part of the Epic tale


the result of polytheistic caprice

not moral judgment


Gray Eagle


long ago

near the beginning of the world

Gray Eagle was the guardian of the sun

& moon & fire

& stars & fresh water


people lived in darkness

without fire & fresh water

because Gray Eagle hated people

& kept his gifts hidden


Gray Eagle had a beautiful daughter

& Raven fell in love with her


in the beginning

Raven was a snow-white bird

& pleased the daughter


she invited him to her father's house

& when Raven discovered

the sun & moon & stars & fresh water

hanging on the wall of the father’s lodge


Raven watched for his chance

and stole them

& flew out a window


he hung the sun in the sky

fastened the moon

& cast stars like glitter


by this new light he kept on flying

carrying with him the fresh water

& stolen fire


he flew over the land

& dropped water

it hit & became

fresh-water streams & lakes


then Raven flew

holding fire in his bill


the smoke from the fire blew

over his white feathers

turning them black


when his bill burned

he dropped the fire


it struck rocks

& hid as sparks


Raven is now dark

& feathers blackened



every man has a Shilombish

the outside shadow following him

like Peter Pan


& Shilup the inside shadow

who returns after death

to the land of ghosts


Shilombish remains on earth

in the form of fox or owl

& wander restlessly

moaning to frighten survivors

away from their home


when a fox barks

or owl screeches

another fox or owl replies


when the Shilombish imitates the ominous cries

the night waits empty in reply




in the beginning

before earth or sky


out of darkness

came a small thin disc

with yellow & white

on alternate sides


inside it sat a small bearded man

no larger than a frog

his name Kuterastan


he awakened

rubbed his eyes

peered into darkness

& illumined it


when he looked east

the rose-yellow tinge of dawn

when he looked west

the shaded amber tones of dusk


as he glanced around

clouds in different colors



he rubbed his eyes & face

& another cloud appeared

with a tiny girl on top

the Woman Without Parents


the man & girl were puzzled

where the other had come from


after thinking for some time

the man again rubbed his eyes

& face & hands together

&  materialized the Sun & Pollen Boy


after the four sat a long time

in silence on a single cloud

the man broke the silence to say

‘What shall we do?’


and so creation began


    ∞    ∞    ∞



finding the cloud a poor home

Kuterastan created the earth

with the sweat of the four gods

mixed & mingled


the Tarantula was

the first creature created


from the old man’s hands emerged

a small brown ball no bigger than a bean


the gods kicked the small brown ball

the wind swooshed inside

& inflated it


Tarantula attached the ball

to a spun black cord

& stretched it to the east


attached blue & yellow & white cord

pulling one to the south

another west

& one to the north


when Tarantula was finished

the earth was vast expanse of smooth brown plain

poles were tacked on each corner to hold the earth in place


& Kuterastan sang a refrain

the world is now made

& it sits still


The attached poems are from a collection called Unveiling Creation, comparing creation stories from different cultures.


Ashley Parker Owens lives in the hills of Kentucky, where the gnomes are. She has lived in San Francisco in an ashram, and in Chicago where she helped with the Second Underground Press Conference and was the creator and editor of Global Mail. After the successful publication of Gnome Harvest by Double Dragon Publishing, Ashley is writing the next novels in the Gnome Stories Series. She has an MFA in Creative Writing at Eastern Kentucky University, and an MFA from Rutgers University in Visual Arts.

Ashley is the owner of the indie press KY Story, proud publisher of thirteen anthologies celebrating the Kentucky, Appalachian, and Southern voice. Her work has recently appeared in Hogglepot, Rose Red, Egg Poetry, Boston Poetry Magazine, Quail Bell, Imaginarium, Tinderbox Magazine, The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society, On the Grid, Lorelei Signal and Mystic Signals.

Reach her at or

 Everything you need for a poem


Crossing Sofia Field,
we’re wondering aloud who’s left
travelling mementoes –
flip-flops, empty olive cans –
underneath the seat
of this slow and screeching train.

A girl who went barefoot, perhaps,
down the carriage steps,
fingers greasy with oil,
complaining, like my own daughter,
about her “bloody shoes”;
or one like your friend who brought
beer and coats to the train
for cold and thirsty hikers.

We’ve slowed to a crawl in time
for kaleidoscope light effects
beyond your violet mountain.
You’re going there, Vitosha,
on the day I’m due to leave,
but for now you’re pointing out
sunset, derelict stations
traces of pathways, sky flares,
willow growing up through a bus stop:
“It’s everything you need –
everything you need for a poem.”

You’re right, it seems.
Evening villages, cans, old shoes –
they constitute the scenery
for what I’m hoping will do more:
betokening gratitude, perhaps,
for whatever else is forming
in this shrieking transit and I can’t tell.

Hotel Polonia


From a bastion of the old city,
history's reduced, of necessity,
to realizable proportions.
We try to pin things down
from a tourist map.
Outside the station,
the taxi drivers insist
on giving “a good price
for Auschwitz”.

Trams on the ring road
we’re overlooking
from this rented apartment
circumvent the town square,
its expansive emotions
which we can find no names for.

In the small space we move through,
polished furniture creates
the acoustic landscape
where monotone TV overdubs
explain predictable dramas.
And I am in a bath in a city
which I have never really known.

Amongst centuries of hurt,
in the doorway of a nunnery,
a medical student from Prague
was only here on an overnight visit.
Unlike us, he could list
the museums, the memorials
which we’d be fools to miss.

Off the mark


In a thicketed boyhood hideout
my tin compass spins and spins.

It’s demagnetised. We’ve both lost
our sense of direction.

I could stand in the woods and wait,
but that’s a pointless exercise.

I should just turn the damn thing
to where I want north to be

and let it come round.




Tom Phillips is a freelance writer living in Bristol, UK. His poetry has been published in a wide variety of magazines, in two chapbooks and in the full-length collection Recreation Ground (Two Rivers Press, 2012). Recent work also includes the play Coastal Defences (Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol, 2014) and the children’s story Nicholas – The Stolen Reindeer (x-ovation, 2014). Tom works on translation and cultural exchange projects with writers and artists in SE Europe and is co-founder of Anglo-Bulgarian online collaboration Colourful Star.


Book: 'Recreation Ground':

The Common at Easter
Tadpoles showing first frog limb stumps,
the woods partly flooded.  Sun lining up
tubes to paint the leaves:
sap green, olive green, emerald, plenty
of mixing white and cadmium yellow.
Grass snake coiled and sunning itself
by the path side, green ammonite
unnoticed by horse riders and cyclists.
Birdsong louder after rain
as if the volume is boosted
by passing through wet leaves.
Seven fallow deer stags running through
the sphagnum rain-pond
kicking up a spray of droplets
so that a rainbow shimmers –
just for a second
a new covenant
of everyone and everything.
The Big-Bang

Not the explosion
by the physicists
but sound rippling out
from where a mallet
strikes a gong
or ice-cold water
welling up
from a sacred spring.
Queen Bower
Holly trees twist
together, locked in the
eternal dance.
The wind in the oak tops
in my head
makes me dizzy –
everything is drunk
all the time
on the wine of being.
Smell of honeysuckle
on the summer breeze –
breathe it in deep,
scent of a goddess –
there is no more
intoxicating perfume.
Heath-brook sticklebacks,
brackish water,
flints stained beer-brown.
A damselfly
its tail more iridescent
and blue
than a kingfisher’s wings –
why are such creatures not
more often celebrated?
Cannot the mind also
take wing
on a damselfly?

Mark Rutter’s poems have appeared in many magazines, including Magma, Other Poetry, The Rialto, Interpreter’s House, and Ink, Sweat and Tears.  He lived in Maine between 1990 and 2002 and two collections of his poems were published during that time. A new collection, Bashō in Acadia, was recently published by Flarestack Poets.

Nothing is deleted from the mind

Nothing is deleted from the mind:
however small, half-sensed or -known,
it lies in waiting, to touch us
in our dreams or in our waking.
Nothing is deleted from the mind:
the terrors of the exit from the womb,
those yet to come, the joys between,
reside within us, never beyond recall.
Blind kittens mew. Chicks peep.
Even the farthest memories have a voice,
smothered under what we've heaped,
and summon us. We do or do not hear.
Nothing is deleted from the mind:
the embryo of the future is there,
blurred in the shadows of the past,
waiting to be deciphered. But
the brain may clog; we search
and cannot find the person that we knew,
and still believe, against all odds:
nothing is deleted from the mind,
                        nothing is beyond recall.

A lack of Grieving by your cats
Plaintiveness is their artistry, mewing pointedly
beside a dish, but mourning seems beyond their range.
They cosy up to me in bed as they cosied up to you,
simply switching sides, a purr machine with needle claws.
The tom still bullies, the queen still scurries out of his way,
the two blacks romp in a kicking ball of mock evisceration.
The organs of mice are laid out daily in ritual patterns.
Yesterday I found a bloodied song-thrush and heard you sigh.

Can they still map you through the house, scenting your steps?
Perhaps they think you're here somewhere. As I do, often.

Victim of the urban lexicon
            For Wayne David, MP for Caerphilly, who, when
            informed that his town was known as the dogging
            capital of the UK, reportedly praised his constituents
            for their love of dogs.
You reach an age where words turn mockers;
something innocently said is the latest name of a drug
or some erotic trick in bed or a female part,
spoken with sniggers beside the changing room lockers.
They laugh, savouring the slangy innuendo,
like thieves who sell you back the item that they've stolen;
you blush or bluster or continue unaware,
conned out of your meaning, by these lexical hi-jackers.
You did it too  -  when grandma talked about her 'knockers',
the ones she polished, how you winked at mates,
and how she floundered in mid-sentence; but somehow
that was kinder then, as jokes on postcards or in crackers.
The butts were pompous gits of teachers, wardens, vicars;
Now your words fall around your ankles like slack elasticated knickers.

Derek Sellen lives in Canterbury. His poems have been widely published in magazines, newspapers and anthologies and he has published a collection ‘The Arch and its Shadow’. He has written poems on topics as diverse as Spanish painters, Korean musicians and Indian cave-paintings. His work has won prizes and been shortlisted in various national and international competitions, including Poetry on the Lake, Rhyme International and Cinnamon Press Competitions. In 2014 he won the Hungry Hill ‘Poets Meet Politics’ prize and in 2015 the Five Words competition. He has just produced a ‘KENT WORDS & IMAGES’ calendar for 2016 with photographs by Sibel Gul and 12 short poems on Kent places. Available to order: contact through Facebook.

Voice in the Woods

At Wood Hollow twigs fingered

girl's legs, stiff bodies crushed

in least shapes to fit a black hide

where low roots stencil limbs

our playground territory.


Back bones always shone creamy white;

fat toadstools under a split-moon.

The woodcutter never came.

It was where boys composted me

my kindling stripped, mulched out to dry.


Inside me, I curled up to the mighty trees

only saw minutiae, became mollusc;

some half-snail half-girl on fleshy bark,

followed silver iridescent trails, the men’s hair

swirled groin lichen. I saw variants in Adam’s


apples as cliff-edge shoulders tilted me

from my X print in the soil.

Paper Cut

Mother stuffed my guts with the classics
hand-fed me the words on everyone’s lips
until my bowels sluiced urgent black pages.
Our eyes bled noise, the biting crimps
of erudite voices, she taught me to speak minted
in a room full of Queen’s heads, how to write gobby,
she taught me that truth is the ink in your story.

Father stunned me with Nakiri knives
stripped organs swift from carcass caves
until my aorta thrust out fine blue electric.
Our lungs blew stains, the fatty marks
of renunciation, he taught me to remove his head
in a fridge full of pigs, how to cut and hum,
he taught me that truth is a severed limb jerking.

Rachael Smart is a social worker from Nottingham with a thing about words. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in various publications including LITRO, Ariadne's Thread and Prole. Rachael recently co-edited My Baby Shot Me Down, a women's anthology, which features ten new writer's work and some of her own.


You wake one morning to find
that you don't care anymore.

Be it a problematic love affair,
a burdensome career
or a political cause.

On this morning
it ceases to matter,
the grip on your stomach
has gone. Simply that.


And you feel your face
being filled
with a smile.


Weekday mornings their duvet becomes a samosa triangle
as the pair leave their bed each from their own side
to go each to their own place of work.
Theirs is a life rotated through
from Thursday to Thursday
when black rubbish bags
misshapen with the packaging
from that week's groceries gets left on the pavement.
Their weekday evenings ruled by TV schedules they take
turns to shower every other day which every other week
for one of them coincides with Thursday. On any
weekday theirs will be a steadfast refusal to
drink usually found only in recovering
alcoholics. Saturday is their day
to get drunk,
a brief escape from
routine's circularity. Sunday is for
recovery and apologies. Monday they leave
their bed each from their own side, will be shocked
should they see Saturday's landlord anywhere outside his pub.

A too-loved child

Bereavement may well have been
the starting point for
your lasting depression.

That loss though
was only the detonation.

Cause is not necessarily
linear consequence.

Once smoke and tears cleared
what you were looking at
was your own life,
the passive waste
you have made of it, the pit
you have dug for yourself,

and you can see no way out.

Sam Smith is editor of The Journal (once 'of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry') and publisher of Original Plus books.  At the moment living in Maryport, Cumbria, he has several poetry collections and novels to his name. (see website

Leaf Changing Seasons

I place the Pink Lady behind
the small Golden Delicious
and Rubens brighten
around Granny Smiths
as the Royal Gala alongside
the St Edmund's Pippin sit
where my Braeburn half-
eaten turns brown like an
Egremont Russet's skin.

AM Spence was born in Manchester and read literature as an undergraduate at The University of Manchester UK. In 2009 she completed her MA in creative writing in poetry at the same university.

To a woman with stars tatooed on her breasts

What strange constellation
Or comet in the sky
Inspired these inky scars
Where a babe turns to cry
What great meteorite
What sign from outer space
Caused you to mark yourself
In such a sacred place
With gaudy trail of stars
Of uncertain meaning

Was this decoration
The result of dreaming
About faraway lights
And mysteries unknown
A cry for attention
Fear of being alone
Or was it just a whim
On a grim winter day
Yearning for the needle
That drives all pain away.


Tonight in Bloomsbury

These trees are higher
Than suburban trees
They witnessed the Blitz
Some sustained damage
Breaking the landing
Of bailed out airmen
Falling from angry clouds
Tonight they sway gently
Against the August sky

These pavements are warmer
Than suburban pavements
They have been relayed so often
Since enemy bombs fell
Smashing stone to dust
Later came other explosions
Accidental and deliberate
Tonight they rest firmly
Tickled by tourist feet

These people are louder
Than suburban people
They put aside their books
Donned helmets and gasmasks
Dug bodies from the rubble
Extinguished deadly flames
Tonight in Bloomsbury
Their spirits surround us
In the late summer heat.



We don't want your ground up brick dust
Your poison powder mixed with chalk
Your toxic potions in our bloodstream
Your ghostly face around each corner
In our town, the streets we walk
We don't want your evil talk

We don't want your sickly voice
Whispering of bargains, hallucinations
Always promising, never delivering
Same old stories over and over
Your siren calls, your grim temptations
Outside our bus and railway stations

And we don't want your deadly culture
In a place that's rich with dreams
We have history, hope and talent
We don't need your tortured world
The poor victim that begs and screams
The baseball bat and the knife that gleams.

David Subacchi lives in Wales (UK). He was born in the medieval walled town of Aberystwyth of Italian roots. He writes in English, Welsh and Italian.
Cestrian Press has published two collections of his poems. ‘First Cut’ (2012) and ‘Hiding in Shadows’ (2014) and David has been widely published internationally.


Lost Things


The fluid around my eyes

Sparkles with static.

Hello there at the brink

From here at the sink

Could I sink you?

I press out my story-

It feels like a struggle to translate it out into words.

He’s come north alone,

To this dirty little city,

To make pizzas: he is alone.

I am so tired. The air between his hands is electric, but

I feel like a rusty old toaster being offered a bubble-bath.

I do like jazz- but not now.

I slip away to nowhere, saying nothing in particular.

He stays, thrashing his fish just a little harder.

Thrilling, is it not, what we walk away from.


It’s funny how much we fret
and then
once a new moment has come,
we no longer remember.
I knew a girl who used to
lick sharp
clanging her feet off of them,
before cantering
back to the middle.

Alannah Taylor is a young person, and so probably doesn't have much to say of merit. Even worse, she's a student. She lives in London, and has previously had a poem published in Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine.