Words, Unreadable

Words and people
are not hard to read
for the same reasons.
Yet, I look in the mirror
see a sentence
of a thousand words,
my freckles are commas,
my eyebrows dashes.
The set of my mouth
underlines all of this
in emphasis or anger:
Words, unreadable
spill in tears
from my eyes.
My lashes are scribbled
in cursive.
Each clause of my face
has been moved around
too many times,
each word that sums it up
spoken too often aloud.
I have lost all meaning.
I am entirely incomprehensible.

Erin Oakley


an attempt
at self-love
not gone unnoticed
by god
or the wife
both light sleepers

Mr Black

Make A Change

For years and years
We’ve ignored
The shouts in our ears
That they roared

For years and years
We’ve ignored
The streaming tears
From the horde

We ignored
The screaming shouts
All on record
With no doubt
“I can’t breathe”

11 times did he wheeze
“I can’t breathe”
That made us freeze

Say their names!
Say them loud!
These are our aims!
They are proud!

Proud to be Black!
Proud to be them!
When the police attack
We won’t condemn!

Shout their names!
Shout them loud!
Shout them out for all around!

We will not back down!
March through the town!

Shout their names!
Eric Garner!
George Floyd!
Jamar Clark!
Philando Castile!
Ezell Ford!
Breonna Taylor!

Shout them louder than ever before
Because right now
We need to do it more
Than ever before

Delilah Raeken

The Laundromat on St-André

Do you dry your clothing
at the laundromat on St-André?
I like its windows yawning in the sun,
the philodendrons, and the smooth blue table,
wide as a bed, to shake out sheets on.

“I’ve only dried things there once,” you tell me,
“and they were little shrimp”

I imagine
have a different drying time
than socks do.

But of course, I’ve only misread your text.
You really wrote “a little damp.” Of course
I know there are no shrimp
tumbling to peachy softness on St-André—

but just for a minute—

Emma Theodore Roy


there is an outside, there

that you are an outside of

Garrett Burrell

Shooting season

It was unusual to spot a pheasant squat still,
from this distance.
We had clocked it from across the paddock.
Fifty clicks away, the
baize and claret twitch of fear.

The majestic head,
emerald cap and blindfold red,
crooked to one side, tracking us with
impossible cockerel eyes.

Traces of blood nearby;
rain-slashed on the long grass,
quickly made black against the
yellow-green of turf.

A three-inch pellet took the spine of its back,
snug between the wings –
out of flap but still intact.

Plastic cone and shocking metal,
a disposable zippo,
crammed deep around the rump.

The half-dead bird was now all gun:
the hunter’s slug deep in the barrel
of a failing body, loaded –
ready to shoot.

Dad picked up a makeshift club.
Stock-still, suddenly infants again.
He ordered me and Paddy to walk
to the next field,
to not turn back,
he’d catch up soon.

Christy Hall

The Birds Came Back

When it seemed nothing could be normal any more,
the birds came back.

The birds came back and hopped and whistled and nested
in the blossoming trees.

They soared on half home wind currents,
dipped their toes in striving waves.

The birds came back and pooed on passers by,
and this time it had a slightly different meaning,
and the curtain twitchers smiled.

Amid the fear and the pain and the mistrust,
the birds came back and roosted outside bedroom windows,
woke early the irritable people.

The birds came back and wondered with their bird brains
at the wonder of year round shelter.

They flapped their wing batons to conduct the orchestra of chicks,
and to replace the bass rumble of engines they formed alliances.

The birds came back and played in the streets of the air,
and there they stayed until they went again.

Matt Alton

Coronavirus Poem

What happened to the toilet roll?
You ask
as you spy me
dismounting the porcelain perch
with a simple step.

It’s not the time for acrobatics,
I say. I know we all need
to have our fun,
and stay limbered up,
but a post potty pirouette is
an unnecessary risk
in these topsy tervy times.

Matt Alton

I unlock a yellow bicycle with an app

grin like a baby for the first time.
Old men tip their hats, I smile;
I am hope on two wheels.

Grey cars can scream at me and
it’s true I don’t really get the roads,
but it should be so easy
to get home on your lungs alone.

Daisy Thomas



Our days were numbered in Buxton town;
marked out for a death-march-cum-stroll,
five years to final throes –
a weekend getaway or on parole? Nothing the
chalk-pastel Peak District could serve up
would ever replenish us.

Pastoral; do you remember Bedale?
The Heights of Abraham? Varicose caverns,
waves of dales, the hills all gnarly.
Scaling tourist parks whilst bobbing
on a cable car.

That was Matlock – another spa
town as counsel, slick our thirst.
But there we bickered, picking at
a tray of chips cobwebbed with cheese.
Fidgeting the sinews of goo apart,
all life unlinked in the Styrofoam.

Between bric-a-brac stops and bars, hoping
idol hopping would push momentum to peace.

A moment by the Derwent river;
kayaks side by side A-road bikes –
sickly leather sights in Derby sun,
making me think Kerouac then Gun.
We forced a face in a
pastiche photo booth for two;
hungover eyes, grins petrified to charcoal lines.

There was Bakewell too;
more taut than tart.
We passed through,
track-skipping on the tape deck,
to help county fade away,
Yorkshire-bound roundabouts
blurring towards the A-road.

An arboretum outside Northallerton –
Thorp Perrow – punched in the last nail.
A local production of Shakespeare’s
comedies as medley; you glammed-up,
over-dressed and it was washed out –
my indulgence, cast as the ass at last.

Christy Hall