Human Limitations

The human mind is not
designed to comprehend
death. No one is that
smart or savvy.
The human heart cannot
fully feel forever absence
or forever silence. I break
under the burden.
Only spirit trusts Entropy*
as law, knows that energy
once created can never
be destroyed
and that the soul is both
immortal and available for
posthumous conversations.
*The First Law of

Waiting by the River

Anpu* sits amid Spring shadows
wiggling a blade of grass in mouth
I ask if it's time
he shrugs
says he isn't going anywhere
that he isn't a kidnapper
I call to Elizabeth
who always said she was
River Styx ferryboat captain
who captained her last October
when she snuffed her own flame?
She appears
cradles me in supple breasts
"I bequeath you my élan-vital
gently used and then discarded."
* Egyptian god of tombs and ruler
of the under world. He is seen as a
protector guiding the soul through
the underworld

                                     Judy  Shepps Battle


The Marriage of Snow White

I woke just as he was lighting a cigarette, my pet.
His violence had dislodged the apple in my throat,
and, so, I returned to the world choking.
They said I should be grateful.
I said, For necrophilia?
They said in their milieu, the above,
it passed for love.
And so we were married.

We didn't shack up.
I haven't seen a lot of him since, my prince.
He did make a move once.
Over my dead body, I said, and his eyes lit up.

                                                     Dorothy Burgess

Left Handed

Your hands are larger than mine.
With business-like nails and veins
that slide down between the tendons
blue-grey and still as the canals
between venetian streets.
The web between thumb and forefinger
is soft yet could hold a robin’s egg
hammocked there in safety,
without a tremor to disturb it.
Your fingers have strength.
Picking through newly dug potatoes
that you bring to me in triumph.
Holding out your left hand
while dark soil sifts and follows your footsteps
as if the garden would keep you for a longer time.
Left-handed people have different skills you smile,
flexing fingers like a crab.
Then gently touch my face and delicately tweeze
a leaf from my hair.
And in the evenings silence
you slide music into the air.
Playing a guitar that lies the wrong way
and coaxes the last sigh out of the day.

                                                                          Michele Byrne


Name Tag

Blue stained ink
lines smudged
in carefree circles,
handwritten name fading
from memory,
a transient dash
fluid lines
faltering over
broken letters,
fragmented pieces
of your past
trail against
this milk-white card
creased with age,
a discarded tag
restless and unsettled,
the last words we said
gone forever.

                                                            Emer M Davis


Still edible but
on the cusp of
the sell by date.
Twice a week to once,
then to monthly and
an effort at that.
Yet appetite is still
there in bucketfuls.
Not emotion loaded
with strings, but for
honest stranger
glut, fulfilling a need
like scratching an itch.
Or so she says.
Mathematically middling,
in the mirror too,
but inside the girl
struggles to be seen.
So perhaps not so much
an itch, as rising panic
for the need to
be consumed before
the wholesome flesh of
youth is shrink
wrapped for ever.

                       Caroline England


When Spring comes
Something softer starts.
The structured icicle
Melts, and lets fall the tears,
Stops holding on.
Hard bitten earth, rigid ruts
Muddy into something giving,
Warmer stuff, that clasps the boot;
Comes home with you.
Where frost has bleached
The spiky crop of grass,
Now strikes the crocus match
To burn the blinking Winter eye.
And chill bones, snowed in
Through the leafless dark,
Ignited by the green spark of a snowdrop
Feel the scald of sorrow
Begin the rendering.

                                              Jane Francis

Autobiography In Pieces


At tea around the fire.
We ate, talked with friends,
gossip stalked the frost–edged hour
small and great events
across the lawn.
We showed interest and surprise.

In the pub at noon
we fed each other cubed ice,
with chat’s tiny, tasty bites,
pinned into sight and known.
With cocktail-stick true lies
we drank the current scene.

We danced in a low light
sipping wine. Flirtation
fixed frost’s pattern
random round the door
and windows caught the trapped beat
heard a hundred times before,
while every star and moon
played footsie with tomorrow.

                                               E A M Harris

Fantasy’s Palette
It is often difficult
to remember the color
or reality.
When three lines
and a dozen dots
are all that is needed
to change the shade
of an angle.
That fades
like the distance
found at the edge
of every infant world.
The New Pin-Up

She slid from the wall
like a painted negative
newly exposed
to the sun.
And determined
to take her place
in the orange mist
that filled his shadow garden,
she replaced her ear
with a flower
the size of the moon.
But on her knees
the stone seemed different.
Softer than she remembered.
And desperate
to replace the skin
she tore
at his command.
Lying in a Mirror

One hundred years
she waited.
Perfectly preserved.
by a lifetime
for the intentional shadows
of sleep.
And when she saw her
covered in gray ash,
he called her beauty.
And behind the mask
she smiled.
Too new
to the light.
To realize
that the face she saw
in the glass
was not her own.

                                       Amy Huffman

                                                      White Wedding

                                         My snow man’s gone.
                                           He was there last
                                     But I noticed that my neighbor
                                           Built a snow woman
                                             On his front lawn.
                                         This morning there was
                                              A trail of clothes.
                                                     A hat,
                       a purse,
                                        a scarf,
                    a carrot
                             that had been a nose
                                           Left leading towards the road.
                                                 It’s hard to say
                                              Who led who astray
                                    They made such a hot couple.

                                                                                 Ken Karrer



flayed then
into soil, twists
painfully at its middle
arms hacked away above the elbow,
strains to be plucked
like a bowling pin
and lifted into nothing.
Till then, this wooden
Venus de Milo
aches in a corner of an English garden.


The static explosion
of spiralling branches.
The black shape
of the old schoolroom
lit from within with gold
against the enormous evening sky.
A stirring.
That familiar feeling of something
familiar. And a yearning.
But not for those branches
and not for that light
and not, really, for that sky.
Can we trust our own responses?
The marks in the snow
are not hieroglyphs –
there’s no help there,
nor in the blank face of the horse,
its empty eyes.
That day in the Dales,
I struggled to sense a thing
in the cold, clear air –
but driving home
a glimpse of trees on a ridge
and my heart leapt up through my skull
and out through the sunroof

Trees by the A68

by what the west wind brings,
plunging down from burnt moors
and over the bright plains
to trees that tilt backwards,

                                      James Kilner

Stones of the Moorish Dead

They dug wells in a dry land
And raised waterwheels of the spirit;
The mulberry tree shone dark
In the silkworm’s domain.
There was pleasure
In the smell of apricots
And ice cream made with mountain snow.
This is Europe
In an African skin,
Peninsula of the singing dead.
Even the ghosts love sweetness,
The taste of cinnamon and honey,
Yemas and tocino del cielo.
Olive trees, row upon row,
Stretch to the lunar mountains’ horizon,
Silver-green leaves against the pastel earth.
Dusty white villages sail through the sky
In sudden ravines,
High-towered churchbells ringing
With heretical tongues.
Glorious were the harems
Of the lecherous sultans
To whom pretty boys and scented girls
Were oranges to be picked
In an oasis orchard.
Hashish and wine, sodomy and verses
Eroded what virtues they had.
All forms were born in the circle;
All geometry led back to the One.
Tumbled graves and castles
Still hide the secret numbers,
Infinite pattern and love.
                                                    Mark Ley


she had a space that was hers
eight by eight
her space
command centre
and if offspring entered
she'd scold or tease
(depending on patience)
out from under my heels
accurate for the first two
but by the time the sixth
intruded the zone
some had passed her in height
supper would be ready
when her man entered
lunchbox in hand
and always something for his sweet tooth
chocolate cake
chocolate chip cookie
chocolate haystack
yes, theme noted
sometimes dishes right after supper
sometimes after their 6 o'clock news
teacups in hand
later she'd prepare lunches
a relaxed flurry
bread and sandwich meat and snacks and fruit and wax paper and lunchbags and boxes
she'd find her book and her chair
and sink into both
before bedtime

the measure of a boy

the boy strides out in his rubber boots
fishing rod in hand
it might not be far
but it's out of the sight of his loving mother
he was not allowed here last summer
his boots squeak-clunk down the trail
through the evergreens
to the silent lake
he attaches a worm and casts
no people talking
no tv
no brothers
just the lake
on the picnic table in front of the house
he measures his one catch
it passes the halfway of the ruler
will be shorter after he cuts and guts
fish don't look so alive until you stare at their eyes
inside his chest, he is proud
mother watches out the window
nervous about the steak-knife
happy to see her boy
enjoying something
she bends to a lower cupboard and produces a frying pan

turnip and pork chops

saturday evening
after suppertime but before supper
using every minute of light
Dad mans the splitter
i collect and pile wood
fill my arms each load
fuller than full if Dad's watching
we work for hours
every time he stops to help me catch up
a failure in my mind
i'm too young to prove i'm a man
old enough to prove i'll make a good one
the piling and stacking and walking
fight november 28th's cold air
Dad stops
stretches his back
looks at me
at the pile
at the splitter
flicks a small switch to OFF
the machine coughs itself silent
we enter the house
where mum saved a hot supper
a supper worthy of working men
real men
and men-to-be
a supper made all the better by a large helping of hunger

                                                Adam K Macdonald

For Henrietta

We will sit on Shay’s roof,
and watch the moon drown the church
in its timeworn light.
Numbered days, offered to the masses.
The righteous looking down on us
as we look down on them,
with our drink, drugs, cigarettes and love.

We will begin as five, then fall, one by one.

                                   Alex  Mahoney


How can your slim neck,
the one I worship,
cope against that massive pressure.
It’s the first time I haven’t heard you
sing in the shower,
and I wonder what you’re thinking,
or if you’ve drowned.
Like being underneath a sacred waterfall,
I assume you’re wishing for it to
wash away the impurities you imagine.
The world is running too fast lately
and I am afraid
that you were expecting to fly with me.
You are my universe.
Didn’t I make that obvious?
I’ll miss us when we’re gone.


You look out over the frozen earth,
patched with pine and old, bare rock.
Crows wait patiently for the lambs.
Your eyes are in my mouth.
You are seeing me
because that is what you have been used to.
But I can taste your future
without me in it,
and it tastes of sugar water,
sun and new floors.
I offer to help with the building
of your new house.
But I am too weak
and the wind
traps my fingers under the stones.
My tears are untouched.
My frantic, outstretched fingers
flecked with blood.

13 days of summer

You had him pulled out of you
without even telling me you were doing so.
For a week afterwards, I had endless bloodied knuckles
from cracking the house wall on my way to work.
The brick has accepted my blood offering
and spells out words for me.
I never go to work a normal pink;
I go to work horridly red and crying.
But every day you eat toast and text friends
I have never met.
Sell our baby’s clothes and toys on Ebay,
the traditional Finish gifts my mother made.
When I come home, you go out,
not even touching my shoulder or gripping my waist,
or holding my head for a kiss.
Like you used to. You’d say my hair was sexy
and my accent turned you on.
And sex would be magnificent.
You have turned sour, like a bad apple,
and haven’t said I love you
in more months than I can remember.
But we still share the same bed,
we still smell of each other.
So I am going home,
when the factory pay my wage.
Home to a summer celebration of Finland,
a celebration of nature,
a celebration of life itself,
when the sun refuses to set for thirteen days.
I will be with my friends,
and burn bonfires
When I clock out
I will cry for the last time,
and remember my son.

                                               Katie Metcalfe


Odilon Redon's Limbo

Etched in steel
a plate in the skull
where the bone once was
its surface incised with screams
that still hiss as hydrochlorically
as when they were induced
with acrid fumes that entice
the nasal memory
a reminder of the whole inception
the little finger lifting the stopper
from its ground-glass orifice
thumb and two fingers
grasping the bottle
lifting and pouring
onto the scraped-away brain
in its filleted cavity
grooves in the meninges
soused with acid
Timothy Leary medicine-chest images
bubbling in multicolour foam
psychedelic astringency tincturing
aboriginal markings
onto heavily-blushed metals
their monochrome copies
made to adorn walls of student minds
the spread ink having gutted the scars
like estuary rivers
press-squeezing shape
out into the fibres of their being
a transfer of insanity’s genome
into the reproductive process
a dayshift cloning of nightmares
strutting behind the eyeballs
of the invaded.

Airline Fractures

feeding on blue
they eat in the night
leaving their slime trails
to criss-cross the sky
and although it would be cruel
to step out of bed
and put salt on their tails
I cannot ignore their intrusion
into my nightmares


the ice cracked
and she fell through
her memory
a star-shaped hole
and frozen sounds
that I took home
with me
which thawed
by memory’s micro-waves
was food for nightmares
in the drowning hours
of my peace-starved dreams
                                          Geoff Stevens



Worshippers bring disease and disgrace
to the temple.  Behind glass, the golden man
is sitting lotus, safe from the grease of hands.
If only they could rub their bodies over him,
kiss the blessed feet, caress the clear skies
of his enlightenment.  If only they could lay
with him.  Red candles are lit, promises made.
For a coin, fickle fortunes are studied in the yarrow
stalks.  Deflated, losers go back to prayers, clicking
their mala beads, while others, winners of both large
and small battles, endorse icons with bills, beaming
like glad children.  Everyone plays, desperate to offer
themselves, chanting until the divine heat cracks open
their fragile pits, spreads into the secret, wet centers,
to deliver the shuddering blessing, rapture of the cosmos.
After the ceremony, cleaning ladies dust yellow and purple
cattleyas, gossiping and flirting with monks.  Vinyl cushions
hold the intention of knees, and fat fruit glistens on the altar.
Outside, bodhis twist to the light in a fog of joss sticks.
Everything, cleansed, in love with the world.  Even the koi,
in a reflection of marigolds, are smiling in the pond.

A nest in the eaves of my new house:  one
female and three chicks, desperate pleas
erupting for food.  The mother never
sleeps in, is never paralyzed
by sadness.  Industrious, she wheels
past, stopping to hover at intervals
like a bee, her gadgetry swirling,
Italianate.  This morning on the cement,
I found the crumpled body; a raw, discarded
piece of meat--a fallen chick--maybe
pushed out, weak or diseased.  These wounds
don't ever seem to heal, I thought, and why
is courage always my last trick?  I placed
the broken dainty to sleep in a forest
cradle of bark and fern, and this afternoon
more tears came, tears I don't need
to waste over a collapsed marriage's
somber monument.  I lay down to listen
to the whistle and squeak of the siblings
in their basket, to the mother's fast flutter,
her logistical maneuvering, her work.
                                                          Lauren Tivey



first of all,
you look good
without a beard:
i like your acne scars
and your teeth
they look like oxygen in space,
like a moon landing.
your slightly cratered surface
exacts its unavoidable, slightly
inside-out, eyelash flat notes, symposium of
internal deprecation
but your softwood whiplashes
turn all gold in my chemicals
you turn all

                                                   Erin Walker


Judy Shepps Battle has been writing poems long before she became a psychotherapist and sociology professor at Rutgers University. Widely published both in the USA and abroad during the Sixties and Seventies, she deferred publishing to concentrate on career and family. Fortunately her muse was tenacious and she continued to write during the next three decades filling a file cabinet with scrawled and typewritten poems that are now being organized into chapbooks and individual submissions. The material submitted for publication represents her return to active participation in the writing community. She can't think of a better way to spend her retirement. In the past six months, her poems have been accepted in a variety of publications including Barnwood Press; Caper Literary Journal; Raleigh Review; Rusty Truck; Ascent Aspirations; Battered Suitcase; Joyful; and Short, Fast and Deadly.

Dorothy Burgess is a poet and an English examiner (no contradiction there) living in London and Southport. She is a founder member of the Southbank Women's poetry group. Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies - most recently 'Bugged', to be launched at the Manchester literary festival on Thursday!

Miki Byrne is the author of ‘Nice-bits and Hissy-fits’ a large collection of poetry. She has won prizes for her work and judged poetry competitions. She has read and performed her poetry on both TV and Radio. She reads at many Literary Festivals and open mics and her work hasappeared in over twenty-five respected poetry magazines. Miki has also run poetry workshops. She writes short stories and proof reads a magazine. Miki is disabled and is the disabled tenant member of the board of a large housing society. She is also a member of Arthritis Care’s People Bank. She has a BA Hons in 3Dimensional design and a PGCE also a Diploma in Creative Writing. She lives with her partner in Gloucester. Miki writes something every day.

Emer Davis was born in Dublin and grew up on Achill Island off the west coast of Ireland.  She now lives in Drogheda.  She has several poems published in Boyne Berries, Revival and Drogheda Writes 2 in Ireland and Poetry Now in the UK.  Her first collection Kill Your Television was published in 2010.  She set up the Viaduct Bards Writers Group and organises a monthly poetry reading open mic session in the area.  Her story With it Comes Darkness and Peace was published this year in A Pint and a Haircut - an anthology of true Irish stories for Haiti.

Caroline England gave up the law to write novels, short stories and poems, some of which have been published in magazines - Transmission, Parameter, Pipeline, Chimera, Lamport Court, Peace and Freedom Press, nr1, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Recusant, Succour, Pen Pusher, Positive Words, Twisted Tongue, 14 Magazine, Radgepacket, White Chimney, Visionary Tongue, Rain Dog, Crannog 20, Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, Carillon, The Text, Bad Language anthology, Platinum Page, Litro, Burning Houses and The Ugly Tree. She is currently working on a novel.

Jane Francis is an ex actress, writer and teacher, now Therapist. She has written all her life, poetry plays and short stories. Having been very caught up in family life for the last 15 years or so, she is now divorced, living in Deal by the sea with her kids and  is dipping her toes back into the water of writing, and loving it....

EAM Harris has  been writing for many years, but have only recently become serious about publishing. She has had ‘honourable mentions’ in a few competitions, and a couple of poems and a short story published in magazines and on-line, but  still consider s herself a new girl on the writing block.

A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona BeachFlorida.  She has previously published her work in literary journals, in the U.K. as well as America, such as Avon Literary Intelligencer, Eastern Rainbow, Medicinal Purposes Literary Review, The Intercultural Writer's Review, Icon, Writer's Gazette, and The Penwood Review.

 Ken Karrer grew up in the area just outside of Austin, Texas hauling hay, working on oil rigs, pumping gas and playing football. He received degrees in English, history, and education and worked as a teacher,coach and high school administrator for 32 years. Ken lives in Austin and now works for the Texas Education Agency. He is a musician and an avid car restorer. His poems have recently been featured in Vox Poetica and The Caper Literary Journal.

James Kilner is a freelance writer who lives in the north-east of England.  Previously, he worked as a newspaper journalist, but left this profession to pursue PhD research on the poetry of Ted Hughes, which was completed successfully in 2009.  His own poems have appeared in Aesthetica, The New Writer, Words-Myth and other publications.

Mark Ley  was born  in1968, Hampton Court,Middlesex.Gained a degree in French and Russian at the University of London. He has worked mainly as a teacher of English as a foreign language in various countries(Italy,Germany,Russia,Greece) and now lives and works in Oxford,doing the same. Mark  has had poems published in Sentinel Quarterly and Slovo, the postgraduate journal of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies.Despite being an active writer for twenty years now, He has  only recently begun submitting work to magazines.

Adam K Macdonald lives in SmalltownBC, where he writes and teaches.  More of his poetry can be found on his daily poetry blog  He feels awkward writing about himself in the third person, but this seems to be the industry standard for bios.

Alex Mahoney - 19 year old English Student from Wales

Katie Metcalfe is from the North East of England and is the author of three books. She is also a poet, publisher and editor of Beautiful Scruffiness literary magazine. Obsessed with Norway, she aspires to own a house by a fjord. She blogs at

Geoff Stevens was born on the 4th June, 1942, at West Bromwich, in the industrial midlands of England that is known as The Black Country. It was at that time a mixture of industrial, post-industrial, and countryside in miniature, a unique rich admixture.

He was initially a successful pupil at school, but his later schooling was for boys only, operated six days a week, and was both constrictive and restrictive, and he rebelled against it.

On leaving, he got a job as an industrial chemist and studied part-time for academic qualifications. Chemistry was to be his occupation until 1995, and he worked in the chemical manufacturing, paint making, electroplating, bicycle, and closure industries.

Local history and custom was also an interest and he began to write about those and on other subjects for journals and newspapers, and also became Director of Industrial Archaeology for The Black Country Society.

In the 1970's, inspired by local versifiers, and then by reading Dylan Thomas, he began to write poetry and to submit it to magazines, until he was eventually succesful in getting it published. He also began a long interest in reading poetry in public

1976 saw the inception of his own poetry magazine, Purple Patch, which passed its 100th. edition in June 2001 and celebrated its 30th. year in 2006

Other magazines he has edited are Purple Pastiche (poetry and art), S-Fest Ltd. (U.K. Editor of U.S.Lit mag.), Micropress Midlands Poetry, and one guest issue of South magazine. 

He was a founder member of Spouting Forth poetry performance and publication group in the 90's and, with Brendan Hawthorne, started the Poetry Wednesbury group of poets in 2002.

Lauren Tivey is an English Lit teacher currently living in JiangyinChina.  She holds a MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Red River Review, Snakeskin, The Sierra Nevada College Review, Medicinal PurposesMighty Mercury, and more.  She has been a forklift operator, museum attendant, pizza delivery driver, real estate agent, landscaper, and paralegal, among other things.  Traveling and writing poetry are her main passions in life, and she also gets a kick out of exploring old Buddhist temples, graveyards, and obscure literary sites.

Erin J. Walker is a student at Ryerson University in Toronto.  Her photography and short fiction have been published in Function Magazine.  She is a founding member of the LondonOntario theatre company Bumbletea Theatre.  Her art, photos, and other work can be seen at