Spilt sugar. A dropped spoon.
Arrival of an ant column
scaling the table leg.
These are tricks of the heat.

Her comforts come in waves.
A little dog’s self-soothing breath,
a girl’s blue bead necklace. A breeze,
or the step-sister of a breeze.

Houseleek flesh is a solace,
fattened to the edge of green.
Her gaze paddles in the shadows
between the leaves

but when she looks beyond,
smoke parasols the macchia,
set on fire in the distant hills
that lap and lap the sea.

Evening thunder growls, no rain
to douse it. Too few tourists,
war reports on the radio; all, all,
she blames it on the heat.

© Alex Josephy


drizzle after drought
           doesn’t fill the reservoir
or green     the tawny marsh

but it wets a few beaks
           kinks hair into spirals    steams
above a dry ditch

each drip carries a song
           of reedheads     bowed
becoming small sluices

fresh hawthorn air   damp breath
           released by leaves    wavering
between grass and hay

every thirsty thing asks    again
           lays open    all surface
becomes a sponge     or a spoon     or a bowl

© Alex Josephy



The Mile End Road, empty
at five in the morning
as if somebody pulled the plug.

With my daughter
on our way into hospital,
Day One lockdown. Walked it,

scared of the Tube, the taxicab.
Exchanged a thumbs-up
with the Council dustbin crew,

masked Hi-Vis athletes
humping colour-coded sacks
out of A and E.

Everything sprang awake
to find itself strange, except
this gangsta blackbird, giving it

from the bus shelter roof, insisting,
as they always do: I’m here!
The Mile End Road?  It’s mine.

Whitechapel, Royal London Hospital,
all mine, all mine! Let’s raise
some chicks, let’s find a tune.

© Alex Josephy


he’d take up daytime residence
in the greenhouse,

drag the battered paraffin stove in there,
boil a kettle

on its radiant lid, rediscover ferrets
and the accordion.

And she? Her eyes would swim
in blackbird vision –

in gold-rimmed glances
the leylandii hedge

she hated when they came
would be a bird tower.

Any morning she might notice
shaken branches semaphor

a greenfinch explosion, topmost fronds
unfold into robins.

© Alex Josephy


I throw my January coat
across the railings, divert myself
by trying on trees,

searching the park for hints–
how to style winter drab,
accessorise a bare season
in the fashion of groves.

An old lime doesn’t seem to mind.
I pull its warty folds round my shivers,
feel befriended, opened
into an airy crown.

A London plane confuses me in bark,
buff-on-brown camouflage,
changing map of a world that sheds
and solves itself.

Silver birch is a party dress, white silk,
I slip inside. Twigs flinch, spill
the last yellow leaf, dropped scarf,
invitation to a flutter.

Instead I choose holly, self-dragonise
in oily scales. I prickle-pin my hat,
brooch my breast with berries,
entertain the park parakeets

who’ve come to see the show.
They burn electric green from twig
to branch, unseasonal and so-what
in all the colours of spring.

© Alex Josephy


On an overcast moonlit night,
muffled beams of light
echoed moans
like a grief-stricken loon
tasting mouthfuls of anguish.
A weeping umbra moved slowly
through a beam of light,
then stood silent in its narrowness
as the aromas of death vibrated
back and forth,
back and forth,
reluctantly, impatiently.
Ancient smudged pictures
on white molded walls
unfolded into diluted prayers
as eyes wept tears
onto a crimson carpet.
While Church bells
pealed bronze chords of sorrow,
anachronistic whisperings
sleeping in the murkiness
of long forgotten and lost memories,
became a strain
on the shattered edge
of my emotions,
slashing my thoughts
into unrecognizable metaphors,
until the thunderous drone
of death’s shadows
covered my mind.

© James G. Piatt





where does one go when the earth is motionless and no longer moves in other than circumfluent pulses

who knew sadistic cladistics would include rusted crustaceans said the briny claustrophobic clam as it used my ribs for a clavichord

have any of you seen my forgotten coadjutor

after my sand carpet was mowed

and my stove was watered where did the cognoscenti of my corroded iambics go

i was going to get enlightened on the use of non-combustible allegories to sway my heretical iambics but who really cares since my poem just shattered into emptiness

© James G. Piatt


Icons on a computer screen,
Flickering images of graves,
Containing gray bones

Wavering like cigar-smoke
Floating in a room filled
With the shadows of grief.

An inaudible broken bell of bronze
Peals into the emptiness of lost time,
And I sit in a forgotten room

Waiting for the wind to carry away,
Idle memories from my caches,
Of rash, rhyming ramblings.

I am sweeping away the dust
Of heated summers
Filled with remnants of
Rejected poems.

© James G. Piatt


As they entered the hall,
They would nod and smile,
Sometimes waving to someone
Already seated inside.
Kindness, excitement, happiness,
And friendships were exchanged.

Some were seen to fall, first
To their knees, randomly and gently,
Like leaves wafting from their trees,
Then curling over to be eventually
Removed in a kind of raking
In order to make room
For others still entering the hall,
Smiling, nodding, and waving.

Autumn was always a favourite time
Because of the falling leaves, with
Their wet smell in October’s rain, or
Their September dry crackle underfoot,
Their incense when burned, and
Their fungal earthiness when mixed with dirt.

There is a smell in the great hall as well.
Not of incense and not of earth,
But of something more floral, fresh,
Like Springtime and rebirth.


© Gerald Seniuk


walking forward in empty shoes
a town in a dream I’ve dreamed before
all is changed, everything the same
repeated recollections
endlessly mouthed endlessly repeated
seeking somewhere that ought to be here
but somehow is never quite
shapeless memories on the edges of thought
clutching I return empty handed
missing what was already not there
I think if only I could just
vacant doorways to empty houses
concealing dead centre
pull the blinds down keep it quiet
silent gnawings on hollow wood
I have returned to where I have not yet been
chasing down a street of shifting shadows
I know I’m almost
but where are you
doors slamming on empty streets
empty shoes walking again
if only I could
but I still can’t quite

© J.S. Watts


Breaded Plaice, Chips and Peas

Plaice in breadcrumbs, chips and peas
a bright squeeze of lemon on the side:
sounds like
bright brown crunch of autumn morning,
green leaves curled close,
with freshwater tang of snow.
A meal that delivers crisp and fresh
since childhood
when dietary intolerance
and my sensed need to keep it cheap
within my parents’ budgeted stress and strains
made it my go to meal of choice on family treats.
Now it cooks in home comfort:
feels like
free white crunch of deep, frozen snow
wrapping spring’s promise of warm fresh earth,
a sprig of clean new grass.
Tastes like
old memories cupping
the mouth comfort of sugared pancakes,
scrambled eggs on toast, bacon and tomato sandwiches,
breaded plaice, chips and peas.
Don’t ask.
Don’t walk.
Just eat.

Scrying Tonight

When scrying the future
or your past
you need untroubled black waters.
The kind that can be found
in a cold deep puddle
at midnight
when walking sleep away.
Apply caution.
If you catch a clear full moon
in your water
all you will see
is a flat white fish
floating in the seas
of your memory.

Possibility of Snow

The inside membrane of my nose
itches with such unchecked ferocity
I must be allergic to something
or it is a forewarning
of something
but nothing I have smelled
reminds me of such
is likely to cause
my red nosed rubbings
that I cannot tell why I am a clown.
I have not walked anywhere new today,
inhibited by the heavy water
falling from the sky
and turning puddles into ponds.
Perhaps I have inadvertently
inhaled the past
but I remember that smelling of all good things
the salty heat of mouth loved food.
It would not cause my nose to itch
without mercy
only Mother Nature does that.
Perhaps it is going to snow.

Walking Quarters

Pushing through the crunch
of sun-browned autumn leaves
the cold fresh tang of crisp untrampled snow
I can reach back
or is it forward
with metronomic pace
to the smell of quickening soil
the soft rush of future
out from the past
into the sun’s bright embrace
the smell of grassy seas
birdsong flying over the waves
flowering, ripening, drying fruits
the curl and crunch of crisp autumn leaves
sun-dried to perfection
the thud of my own footsteps
fading forward.    

© J.S. Watts


Shiny reflections
I perceive as random
dislocations of light
you embrace as intuitive
flashes of unconstructed genius
a fire-night carnival
of auto-projected images
newsreel eye-candy
bubble-gum pink and screaming
their life-blood stories
as we crash and burn.
Head-locked into
the white-star meteor
metaphor pump
you’re jazzing the head rush.
I drift slowly seeking
the cool refreshing trickle
that flows a tranquil river
bearing misty sub-aquatic thought.
You’re back there jay-walking,
arms flung wide as summer,
dodging the headlights
and conceptual collisions
loving the hot-oil smell of almost
auto-crunch accidentals
that fanfare, like a serenade
of car horns,
the ceaseless roar of now.

© J.S. Watts



He’s getting a divorce next year
and then he’ll marry me, that’s
a promise, he says. Well,
she’s never understood him,
never appreciated what a
sensitive, intelligent man
he is, never, and she’s always
banging on, he says, about
her precious creativity and her
bloody career.  Now I ask you,
who would call be being a poet
any kind of career? While he
is really successful, quite the
entrepreneur, selling his own
well-respected line of exotic
lady’s underwear – oh, silly me,
that should be lady’s exotic
underwear, shouldn’t it? He tries
them out on me in our bedroom,
tells me I’m his inspiration, while
she wouldn’t recognise a thong
even if he strangled her with it.
Roll on next year is what I say.

© Angela Kirby




It’s a damp, chilly trade
but see how skilfully
he presents his wares  –
those white-gilled rumours,
still-twitching gossips,
and wide-mouthed
sharp-toothed calumnies.

He rims then with samphire,
seaweed, parsley,
hands them out to
anyone who stops
and listens to his spiel
while his partner, that
foul-tongued fishwife

trawls through all the
county’s muddied pools
for scaly rumours, slimy
scandals and spiny-backed
invectives, all of which
she pickles in vitriol, then
charges high for them.

© Angela Kirby



when that summer
swallows nested in the barn
he stopped work
and allowed no noise
until the fledglings flew
then boasted of them
like any proud father

next, feral cats moved in
his bed heaved with fleas
and starving kittens
but he fed them and slept
with them under a cover
stained with their food
and excrement

then spring came
a mallard nested in the garden
hatching six ducklings
so he made a pool
a shed and a run for them
beneath the apple trees
to keep them safe

this was a man who
one winter day packed
a bag, took his whiskys
left the house, his wife
the five children, shut the door
behind him, walked away
and didn’t look back

© Angela Kirby


the mood is hooded mushroom
is stagnant
is the way leaves rot
under trees, is the under of things
it is the leaf before the leaf appears
the unlived years
married to oblivion,
it is this slow walking away
to a self you do not recognise, know;
it is snow gone to mush
trodden on and grey
the wolf in the woods
the self obliterated
to a trillion stars that do not shine;
it is the glass of wine
you pour as some
inner voice shatters,
tiny inside you: leave him

© Liz Adams

late summer

when the light moves over into tangerine
shades what I’d call morning or dusk but
even then time has its own fluidity, it runs
and leaps as a deer might, over the low
hedgerows into eternity or everyday
at least there is a moment when I sit
and look skywards, the voluminous clouds
foaming over towards something gorgeous –
when you died everything changed, I started
to notice small things, intricacies of leaf
and bud, intricacies of memory and future
hopes that seemed to flit ever skyward
butterfly-light and surplus to the unfolding
now – I try to harness this anger,
let it become equine and sanguine, let
its mane race out like the trails of a star –
how many bodies do you have to lay
in the ground before your own body
that seems to be out on loan will one
day succumb back to the earth with
the story of your life deep in the mud
in the flame so hot it burns coldly white?
to become whatever it was you must
and fall into the gentle shape of a life well-lived;
I try that each day with my iced coffee
misting the glass in late summer –

© Liz Adams


Children of the Universe

Dreams are like roses: the beauty and the thorns.
The other night I dreamt of nuclear light,
how we were all discarded across the ground,
crying for the children, crying that the beauty
was destroyed and all that was left were the thorns
that crumbled to dust in our hands.
I thought of the line from ‘The Waste Land’ about dust,
about fear, the dream enclosed by it, as the rose folds
its rich petals around its golden heart, and how
nature would surely prevail, the green ivy
spiralling amongst the debris until the stream
washes it all away. And the dream is
a dream for the children of the universe,
how the future must be beautiful for them.

© Liz Adams


I like the idea of a universal love, the kind that is all-encompassing
in this endless world, where nature takes hold of us, and we watch
in awe as it unfolds. The beautiful sky – this evening a golden green –
spreads out wide above the hills that rise, descend. The light
sphere of the dandelion clock breaks, as does our perception of
time that orbits and bobs as dragonflies do, their emerald bodies
dancing. Time shifts here, it floats along the stream where the daisies
reveal their bright faces up to the unfeeling sun which looks down
upon us all without love, just the steadfast will of existence.
When the ponies appear like good omens, I feel all our past suffering
evaporate into that golden green, there’s this feeling of wholeness,
and how the void has been plugged with the clear air, the light of trees.
The graves here are well-loved too, with their flowers and messages.
No one is forgotten. Yet we are all dissolved into this bright universe
where we fade as stars fade, becoming ash as the candle burns,
hot wax spilling over the edges into the loveliness of nothing.

© Liz Adams

an opening world

and the stream shone in the mid-morning light
mottled with gold, and how the flowers

hung mid-air, suspended there as if in flight
like pink hummingbirds

and us beneath the canopies of green,
trees lined the path, arching,

dreamlike this wandering, this being
towards an opening world –

© Liz Adams


The silence you left
comforts me
more than your voice
ever did, or your touch,
or, for that matter,
your very presence,
my existence one of constantly coiled apprehension
that I might disappoint you,
anger you,
lose you,

all of which I did,
and more, but
that is not why you are gone;

your heart simply ceased,
quickly, surprisingly.
Your heart ceased
and now you are gone.

I miss you,
without missing you,
the comfort of silence,
the absence of the fear
of angering you,
not enough
to calm my need for you
beside me, this inexplicable need.

© Edward Lee

            For PW

I would have sold my soul
for a rope that could have anchored
your soul to your body
for a moment longer,
just so your daughter
might have arrived there
in time to say goodbye.

But I don’t believe
in such fancies
as the soul,

though I would
if it meant
I could have sold mine
to hold onto yours
for those handful of minutes
as she rushed to the hospital,
the call of the doctor still loud
in her semi-sleeping ear.

© Edward Lee


I levitate above my bed
with all those dogs clinging to my feet
eyeless, toothless, headless
the blue flowers on my white
bed sheets burst red
the fishermen around the fire
read the future in dingy scales

I walk these bare streets
dragging words behind me
heavy like carcasses
crying, listen! listen!
but I hear no echo
just a flattering of wings
behind barred windows

I climb the walls of my bunker
pull at roots, filaments and fur
choke with the smell of burning flesh
cover my eyes with barbed wire
aghast at seeing the signs
branded on the festering cortex
of an army of mutants

© Aprilia Zank



People would throw their dogs over the wall.
Caught in the act, they’d say – ‘It cost too much.’

We gave unwanted things new names. We left
after two weeks, tired of the skin disease.

Spinning fire from stumps, I hid my face
as termites gurgled out, legs billowing.

‘Shut up and learn to love yourself.’
A fridge magnet, a tyrant, a burning yogi –

I can’t recall. Unleashed, they chased school kids.
Chained, slept like pools of treacle until noon.

One volunteer was punctured to the shin.
‘Hurts more than my divorce,’ she said. ‘Send help.’

Sometimes, I held onto my partner like a
chewed rope left in the yard, not loving life.

Having saved each other, or so I dreamed,
we shut down like an unwanted parade.

Old mutt in my bed, teeth all over the toys
and the pack still baying. Bruises fat as toads.

‘We started with children,’ said the owner,
‘But children were too expensive. It had to stop.’

Wildness – measured by how much skin left on
your hand after you’ve pulled away, and shrugged.

© Rob Yates


In my head, I place my head into a bowl of ice water.
I want there to be petals of undisturbed, unseen colour,
from undiscovered plants, floating there.

I suspect they’d get in the way.
No one has ever seen a perfect circle –
perfect form is spoiled by every moving.

Bellowing underwater confirms all speech
is bubble – phantasmic, playful and bound.
My private pool is round but not perfectly so.

I spend hours resting objects upon the ice,
testing the weight and surface of things.
Shouts travel miles under the sea,

booming in no direction. Inside this
ceremonial whirl the call wrecks
upon its own collapsing edge and echo,

impossible patchwork of ripple and wave.
At night there is a blue halo round the bowl,
blistered and spinning like the moon,

a constellation of escaping sound.
With melody, it’s the relations between notes
that count – not actual noise, or where it starts.

© Rob Yates


I saw them a few weeks ago. My wife called me, something urgent–
so I left the computer and went to see what so excited her.

Three deer, 3 young deer meandering around our ¼ acre backyard.
They look thin, she said– I agreed
(not saying it was not a good sign with winter coming near).

We enjoyed watching them through our plate glass door, their
casual grace, that elegance of walk deer have when unafraid.
They were special, even more than the occasional cardinal
alighting in our yard like a breathing ruby with wings– so
we stayed as still as possible. I told her that deer can only see
what moves, so we held ourselves tight like insensate statues.

Two of these white-tailed beauties grazed daintily on the ground
but the third was drawn to our giant holly tree, resplendent
with its myriad red berries, like necklaces thrown capricious.
I was concerned– something alarming about even deer drawn
like the proverbial moth– safe, I wondered, for deer or tree?

The triplets soon left our yard, as casually as they had come,
and a week went by– then one day a single deer came back.
I say back because she went straight for the holly tree, and
I banged on the plate glass door and yelled as fierce as an
old man can yell to scare off the now unwanted intruder, for
something told me the holly tree would be death to the deer.

She fled, but the next day came back again, again alone, and
again with eyes only for that tree, an Eve that could not say
no to the forbidden fruit– or berries or leaves it appears.
Again I chased her away, and for a few days saw no return.

Then one brisk morning our neighbor called– he saw what
we could not see in the deep green thickness of that holly tree.
The doe lay sleeping under its canopy (so death always seems
with animals, unlike a human corpse where something is gone),
killed it seemed by berries or the leaves of the innocent tree.

I called my township– they said, put the carcass by the street,
we’ll send someone to pick it up– but I couldn’t, or wouldn’t.
Not just because I walk with a cane, and am old and unsure
how such a moving would be done– no, no, it was more–
when I saw the deer lying sheltered beneath the tree it loved,
the tree it died for, it seemed a sacred place, consecrated–
and I could not bring myself to violate nature’s holy ground.

Fortunately I have a neighbor who is not sentimental, and he
dragged the dead doe roughly to the curb, and I knew, by
its pungent unearthly smell of death, it was the only answer.

© Nolo Segundo


I miss the big navels when they are not in season,
but almost any orange will do when I really want to see God.

But it must be done right, this seeing, this apprehension of the
Lord of the Universe, Lord of All the Worlds, both seen and

First I feel how firm the orange is, rolling it in my hands,
the hands of an artist, the hands of a poet, and now the stiff
and cracked hands of an old man–
then I slice it in half and look at its flesh, its brightness,
its moistness, its color–
if the insides beckon, urging my mouth to bite,
I first cut each half into half and then slowly, carefully–
as all rituals demand– I put one of the cut pieces between
my longing lips and gradually, with a sort of grace, bite
into the flesh of the sacrificial fruit.

I feel the juice flow down my throat and recall the taste of
every orange I ever had, even in my childhood—or so it
seems, with this little miracle of eating an orange.

As I finish absorbing, still slowly and gracefully, its flesh,
the last bit of what had been one of the myriad wonders
of the world, I look at the ragged pieces of orange peel
and I see poetry– or God– it’s really the same thing,
isn’t it?

© Nolo Segundo


Because we were friendless, apart that is
from each other, because we were only
twelve and even the Sixties hadn’t begun,
because it got us out of our homes,
we’d catch the bus at The Golden Hind
just like on school days but not —
except we were going to school

to learn the violin, a Saturday morning
put in — and though I went up and down
with my bow, stroking the strings and sniffing
the stuff we had to rub on, nobody told me
I’d need a musical ear, nobody said
there wouldn’t be marks for my fingers
to tell them where to land.

I stuck it a year for the ride and the hope
that maybe I’d learn to play in the end
or someone would carve me some marks
along the neck of my violin. At home
my recorder was sitting it out, knowing
I’d soon be back, the pads of my fingers
tucked in its comfy holes, playing that tune
I’ll never forget. You’ll know it for sure,
it’s the one you always learn first.

© Jenny Hockey



Elder thickened daily in the yard,
putting pressure on the windows.
It needed hacking back.

I was elbow deep,
awash in tiny bibs and socks,
cold feet on the quarry tiles.

The elder thickened night by night
muffling the call of May Ball bands
a thousand miles away.

I was swagging nappies
on my shoulder, losing pegs
among the weeds.
© Jenny Hockey


There’s animals here I almost know —
three to every stony ledge,
plodding an infinite path off your page,
vines spiraling hard on their heels

and knights with scabbards and shields,
each man trapped in his sentry box
primed to ask forever: ‘Who goes there?’

All of them, combatants, creatures,
and plants, copied into your A6 sketchbook,
your faithful reproduction
of a door jamb’s sacred column.

What kept you in place for days
as Italy’s sun bore down on your tweeds —
on you at 23, meticulous translator
from one patient art to another?

Would you sometimes lift your eyes
beyond these few square crowded feet
of Bergamo’s Santa Maria Maggiore

or were you born for the close at hand,
for spillikins, jigsaws and tiddlywinks?
If Lego had been invented, would yours
have been of the tiniest kind?

1Frank Randal (1852-1917) was a former jeweller’s assistant commissioned by John Ruskin to undertake architectural drawings for him.

© Jenny Hockey


Two men, their bodies identical,
one splayed in the arms of his twin
and held up high above the River Saone,
head thrown back like Jesus
on his weeping mother’s lap.

It’s about taking responsibility for oneself,
you said —  but I can’t see a hero
offering up his guilt, a father bearing his son
through the flood —

only a marble-hearted man
lumbered with his own imagined weight
who mistakes the lightness of being alive
for having to soldier on —

a handsome man, stone-deaf
to the river slipping away,
losing itself in the sea.

© Jenny Hockey



It has been for quite a lot of time,
evident, the embezzlement.
It blinks and sparkles in the air,
look carefully, like shining, dazzling
bits of armour incrusted in the stones.
It’s not clear how many have realised
the hints in the transpiring glints.
Could be an end or a beginning,
some can’t resist the temptation
of assuming tones of solemnity
in foreseeing a galloping catastrophe,
messiahs through the layers
in booms and whispers, renewed Rasputins
preaching in front of the cameras.
Our dishevelled souls praying
each in its solitude.
But maybe I’m only exaggerating,
babbling, wishing to be a further Hamlet
because I am fearing to lose
my already diminished dignity.
And maybe evidence is just going
to be plain and banal, so bear with me,
let a presumed revelation run in my veins
and notes of the Apocalypse warm my heart.

© Davide Trame


A quiet nostalgia, very well known.
A bit pensive, a bit sad, all yours.
You look at the cloudy sky, the still air,
the low light of an October dawn
and it’s there: the old hushed moan.
The familiar reminder of the beginnings.
The month has come back: school.
Head and heart in cotton wool.
The first, ineluctable pace
of what had to routinely be
the first half of your day.
In the pit of your belly a very
unpoetic burning.
And later your shortsighted staring
at the blackboard, the chalk
squeaking like a puppet.
The ritual lament of life.

But you feel a quiet nostalgia
for that time all the same,
so long gone, so long lame.
Why? Dig in it, silence the cry…
This rhythm of what has been,
with flashes of a life you are still in…
Is there anything else you really know
or only this show?

© Davide Trame



Closed-down shop doorway
is the stage that hoards
his small pile of coins,
gives shelter from the wind,
a howling backing choir.

He plays and sings blues,
his sadness peeping through,
to those taking notice,
but he’s not been on T V,
so donations are meagre.

The words have feeling
but meaning slips away
in city-centre bustle,
the song owning up to be
the man himself, juggling
his faith in life.

I drop coins in the hat,
an answer to nothing,
and he nods imperceptibly,
his fingers saying enough.
He watches me watching him
with the face of a man
whose heroes are all dead.

© Gordon Scapens


On a beach designed
for a day such as this
father and son stand together.

The boy`s shoulders
take the weight of the wind
as he wrestles with strings
of a straining kite
seeking the judgement
of its own sky.

The youngster can`t accept
that a kite is nothing
without the pursuit of freedom
and his touch transmits
the power of possession.

Unaware of time’s trickery
the father watches his son.
In a few short years
that he’ll forget to count
he’ll be engaged similarly
in an inevitable freedom struggle
all parents have to face

and lose.

© Gordon Scapens





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