5 September

5 September
she was on a bus to June
mourning her summer self that had not quite sparked like it used to
was not scrubbed clean by sea and sand

She tried. Remembered summers
sleeping outside with friends
dawn breaking something ephemeral
settled during the night and left
before they woke up. Magic
maybe that’s what she used to believe.

This summer her heart was broken
but her iphone was fine
so in keeping with expectations
life continued. Renaud sings
vivre libre c’est souvent vivre seule
do the French never suffer realistically

5 September
all of her heroes are lines in a poem
Her voice: on the quiet edge of panic
Her striped sailor top: ‘a versatile style that can be dressed up or down’
She doesn’t forget the simple things

Nikki Ikani


That weird spike by London Bridge
was built to protect the city
from intensely unlucky paratroopers.
We don’t want their kind here.

Jerry Turner


my love for you is like crumbs
it appears in small parts
unexpected places
you forgot to look
corners and cupboards
it will not go away

Healah Riazi

Wabi Sabi

Wabi Sabi: Japanese aesthetic. An appreciation for what is broken or thread bare or unfinished.

Most lives are unfinished,
we sit by a window where
puddles fill with repetition and struggle
to end a day, not with the same stare tasking sadness,
but with knowledge of some new thing.

We hear red leaves settle under the dying tree,
if we could stop thinking and winnow out the motors
to hear a cricket spill its night call,
with no end in sight to the evening voice.

The house cat knows to seek
the same spot–underneath the dwelling—

there is retreat and shade,
and in the sea of broken lives,
a threadbare promise.

Laurie Kuntz


The willow danced, her moves did not care about the crowd, they drew circles in the air, like caterpillars falling down from apples, they crossed over unseen faces, caressing their every pore, she twirled embracing human bodies only she could see, and the room was dark, and still, and the light was red, in the Theater-Podium bar, and only the little black cat in the corner watched and whispered through her purrs to the trees in the forest in which she thought she was, she said, look, although there is no river, and no human to cry next to her, here’s a willow with a female face, with long dark-red hair that falls onto stones like branches, a woman who forgot to dream but became a dream herself, forsaken by male touch and baby hugs, look, the cat said, there’s a woman almost taking off and leaving ground, rooting her hands deep into the clouds, but the cat was just a cat, and the forest did not listen, because there was no forest, and there was no ground, and the music stopped, and the willow was now asleep, with a little black blind kitten curled up at her feet, and the next performance, and the audience, they were nowhere to be found, and the willow’s voice was dreaming of a time when she used to sing each night, it was either opera or jazz, and the willow was young and voluptuous back then, she was nothing like a willow at all, and the willow’s voice fell asleep too, deep in her stomach, away from human sounds, behind the curtains, and never again was it to be found.

Diana Radovan


my mother says that god is not female nor male.
i am not female nor male.
so, in some ways, that makes me god.
i realized that i do not need to look to the sky for god, but only to my genitals.
and i pray.
let us pray.

True Lyons

The Unreliable Narrator

The unreliable narrator turned up late.

“You know what I’m like,” he said, by way of excuse.

We nodded our heads unconfidently. Of course, no one actually did know what he was like.

Mansour Chow


I want to be shot by Kern
his style – the less pornographic
girls with their tits, in panties
at home or outdoors
on roller skates, brushing their teeth
letting white foam spit, dribble, drip
from tongues lips to sink, floor
He could photograph my feet for
fetish magazines,
they are dainty I would offer ideas
for series – girls with towels over
their heads drying their hair
girls eating cake. Icing, cream,
jam, sprinkles elbows deep in
the mess of it all

Kat Franceska

The Cat Is Gone

The cat is gone. One day already.
The night is grim, the forest dark.
I lean against a spruce’s bark,
Afar I see the lights unsteady.

The cat is gone. It’s all my fault.
I thought that it would do him good
To check out a new neighbourhood
Now nature keeps the cat enthralled.

The cat is gone. But I have hope
That he will soon come back to me.
His not returning home would be
Disastrous. No, I couldn’t cope.

The cat is back. I am delighted.
He didn’t tell, where he has been,
I didn’t want to make a scene.
My state is happy, but benighted.

Sabine Magnet

love awry

never judge a book by its cover
but do judge a lover
by their books

Luke Lewis

Myself and the Sad Clown

When you’re drilling your mind for a little more gold,
Ideas spilling from tangled-web old
Memories catch the tails of today.
The endless to-do’s, and making hay
In case the sun shines on,
Well hold on
Just a little longer.

Sad clown twitches sharp jokes that ached,
Fragile nights, the ideas were half-baked
Of a self-deprecating manner,
That concealed all things and all manner
Of sins.
He dug within,
So they could laugh a while.
Clocked up mile upon mile
Of the ties that are cut with righteousness of youth.
It’s a long, twisted journey, the pursuit of truth.

And freedom is only a state of mind,
Stick with me here, don’t think me unkind
When I say we spend a lifetime settling into a skin
Get to know yourself, it’s all buried within.

Myself and the sad clown tonight walk along
A dark twisted road, the night is long.
And we laugh to the aching and to the breaking,
And sing to the spirit yet in the making.

Kirstin Maguire

The Cucumber Plot

I have a large knife in my hand
and I’m not afraid
to skin this mother
to sliver away at the
stiff upper lip of a
toughened epidermis
banish wrinkles, dents and prickly bits
and behold it
cleansed, stripped, unveiled…
If you ask me again
I will plainly chop
the thing in two
while I wonder what I could be

This repast, the fourth of the day
mentally diarised between
broken blinds and fresh air
changing light bulbs and toilet bleach
interrupted by
pencil shavings
polka dancing
a stubbed toe for you and an ice pack for me
will be ready when it’s ready…
If you ask me again
I might lose my thread
While I wonder what I am

The uses of a cucumber?
Well, it’s staggering
With a whole one
brought to room temperature
there’s no guilty sniff of an affair
grate it for tzatziki
slice it into Pimms
twist a piece to garnish
baton lengths to dip
pickle in a jar or two
refresh tired eyes
pack on shine
pack on an allergic reaction
like mine

This repast, the fourth of the day
mentally diarised between
identity cravings and learning to share
bathroom scum lines and out of reach
interrupted by
dead batteries
a melody for you, a harmony for me
will be ready, when its ready…
I have a large knife in my hand
and I’m not afraid
to dice this mother
expose jellied innards
vital organs
while I wonder what I was

And when you’re ready
I’ll see waves of laundry
finally dry up
breakfast and supper
mute on Sunday
the last marmite stain
wiped from the wall
that secret bogie stash cemented
to your bedroom shelf
I’ll post off to your house
cucumber cool
with a note that says, touché

Anna Ghislena

Train to Cornwall

Sailing on the thrum and steel,
westward the silver, sure line eases.
Each boxcar at a smooth delay,
as voices in a choral round.

In sliding frames fit for St.Ives
a landscape airs its carousel:
brushstrokes of woodland, gold-leaf sea,
the sudden, muffled shock of tunnels
with explosive horizon each end.

Flying true, as pen to rule,
surely we ride the veins of England;
surely all other is reduced now to blots;
surely all other is but busy-ness bleeding,
bruising such moments as this.

Joe Hedinger

Black Beach

A Rachmaninoff whirl
the wind and the waves
and black puffins and a black beach
and nothing between us and
the south pole
but this swirling soup.

Let’s stay here
and live in a cave
and at night light a big fire
and remind the rocks
of where they came from.

We can fish with the birds
and roam with the horse
and sing to the sea
and wash in waterfalls.

Feel the warmth of Basalt
absorbing the sun
Listen for ancestors in the wind
and keep on the right side of trolls
and never throw a stone.

Joanne McLaughlin

Sleeping with the Classics

I cannot sleep.

I’m thinking of sleeping with the Classics.

Where should I start?
With the vulnerable Pound?
The clumsy Thomas?
The mystical Rainer?
Blake? I certainly loved his technique.
Maybe Bukowski could be somewhere in the middle…
I bet he’d last an entire five minutes.

Perhaps I could finish with
Sade Marquis.
It could be my punishment-
for all of the sinful fornication,
the moral blasphemous
of such casual carnage–
each lash of the whip a bit
of forgiveness.

Yes, yes, yes!
I will go out not with a bang

but a whimper.

Sarah Hardin


I want to keep you captive
Like a book upon my shelf
That I will not lend to anyone
And won’t read for myself

Luke Norton

The Last Lemon

‘This is it, you know.’
‘Is that so?’
Flo holds up a dull tin, the label warped and peeling. Smoothing the paper, she reads:
‘Sausages and-’
Flic joins her. ‘Beans. Best til last.’ She sniffs the metal with exaggerated relish.
‘Well then.’
‘Shall I?’
A pause.
‘Yes, you do the honours Flic.’
‘Are you sure? Come with me.’
‘Wait… Let’s cook this first.’
Flo walks to where a low sun casts through the glass. It reflects off a loch, red with algae. With arthritic hands, she turns the gears of the can-opener. Slow.
‘I’ll get the knife.’
‘Warm the pan too. We can spare the gas, after all.’
‘Get it piping.’
Flo chuckles. It is always hot now.
While the flame burns, blue on black, Flic goes over to the other window. On the deep stone sill sits a stunted lemon tree. She spits on a cuff and polishes its crisp leaves. A broken residue comes away on her sleeve.
‘To think Flo. We grew it.’
‘From just a pip.’
Flo prises the can’s lid with a knife, scrapes congealed innards onto the heat. She joins Flic, looking out over the raw dark hills.
‘What’re the odds?’
‘Not good. But it lived, alright.’
Breath held, Flic pulls the lone lemon from its branch. In the palm of her hand, she eases through the soft pith with blunted blade. Zest. Flo leans forward, inhales for them both.
‘I’ll get the bottles.’
Fast on stiff hips, Flo makes for the cupboard. The tonic lets off the barest hiss and the gin cap is almost rusted stiff.
‘Glasses, Flic.’
One. Two. Yellowed liquor slipped in both. Flo throws the remaining dram to the flagstones.
‘For the dead,’ she laughs. Flic smiles with her, eyes rheumy in the acid air.
Flic cuts over the glass, but the dry fruit does not drip. Three slices and a hard navel each.
‘Pull that pan.’
‘No need.’ Flo holds up their spoons, passes the least bent one over. She stirs, prising charred meat from the pan bottom. Takes a bite.
‘Well then, Flic.’
The two friends lock eyes, cheers.
‘To health.’
‘To health.’

Eleanor Matthews

To Kit, who I haven’t seen for years, on the day I went to get an abortion

You’d lap this right up, Kitten.

I can picture you performing torture
– all wringing hands and wrenching hair,
poetry and punches –
in the waiting room.

Oh, you’d luxuriate in all this:
the tragedy, the loss, the unloved life
(and that was meant to say unlived,
funny what phones’ll make you admit).
Yep, you’d lap it up
like cool cream, warm milk, thick blood
pouring round the basin
and down the drain.

Why I’m thinking of you, I don’t know.
You’re just something to think about, I suppose,
while I sit on this bloody train to nowhere
I want to go.

Laura Powell

infinity commutes

like knots on a diseased oak,
we huddle together
not like rotten planks
of a fallen floor
but rather
like something alive;
apples in a farmer’s market
or flowers
gasping from a pavement crack,
reaching towards God
and grasping the crossbar,
eyes dodging from faces
or staring at them openly,
minds on work
or the press
or some drifting zephr memory;
a million infinities
touching eachother uncomfortably,
as many as there are fish in the sea,
and all on their way to somewhere,
and all with something unshareable in their heart

DS Maolalai

A room of one’s own

One is afforded the luxury
of a jumper and no pants;
sitting on my feet
with a bare bum
makes me feel like a child.
I like to wriggle my toes and
relish the rare innocence
of a naked body;
to curl up foetal around
soft folds of tummy
and nestle down to sleep
in the gap between two pillows.

Poppy Turner

The drawing I’d draw if I could draw

It would be a pencil drawing.

It would be a cartoon of a man doing a head stand on a surfboard on a wave. It would be sunny. He’d be skinny, wearing shorts and with oversized hands and feet. His feet would be facing the sky, but drawn at enough of an angle that you could read what was written on them.

It would say Soul Tan because the bottom of the man’s feet would be getting a tan; and because surfing and the sun and being upside down are good for your soul; and because Boots (the chemist) used to make suntan lotion called Soltan and that’s what my memories of family holidays on the beach smell like.


Britain’s Greatest Living Composer

In London there’s a man, a composer for the broadway stage, who gets every one of his diaries professionally bound. At home, with his wife, he has whole walled bookshelves, deep mahogany, touching the ceiling of his study. And during the day he’ll be writing down the poached eggs he had for breakfast, and the clouds moving through the city, just outside his window, when his wife comes in.

“10am: Dorothy enters. Asks what my plans are (Ha!), she pauses.”

Clicking away in his study all day, you’d think he’d write about interesting things, all the people he’s met. ‘Britain’s greatest living composer’ the newspapers say. But opening any of his books, you can see he barely notices a thing.

Dorelia J. Evans

i want to buy you lunch poem

sometimes i feel sad and i look
at your Facebook and then i feel
a strange combination of happy
and sad. i crack a grolsch and its
taste is one of melancholy and promise.

i think back to the times
i’d meet you after dark and the excitement that charged
my drunken heart. i think
of rolling down hills
in hyde park and thinking
you were the mould
i’d force my life to fill.
i think of all the times
i’d insist on getting wine you’d correctly never touch, and passing out fused and content.

all i wanted was to cook for you,
to call you
in the faint jaundiced murmur of the barely morning and hear you say “maybe lunch?”

Django Wylie

Spilt sugar

Licked my finger
and dabbed at the spilt sugar
to avoid watching your mouth move.

Bitter sweet stuck in my teeth it’s odd,
how I still want to kiss it.
Even when it’s full
of broken promises
and empty excuses
and endless apologies.
You stop. And I look up at your lips.
I bet it seemed easier just to lie.

Charlotte Josephine