Claire Sexton




The startle response

In babies
cat whiskers
or a change of light
or firework thudding
far off,
can cause consternation.

Usually people learn
to deflect such
but not always.

In some, this nervousness
continues to rankle
and the tickle of cat whiskers
gives way to the tickle of
idle and malicious
conversations, reluctantly
in surgery waiting rooms,
and corridors
in office blocks,
near water coolers
and in shop doorways
or post office queues.

The whispers of counter staff,
shelf stackers,
library patrons
and whistling milkmen
can also cause incursions.

And now the slightest
twist or curve of my body
at nighttime, stirs my brain,
and only silence and lack of
movement provide the necessary
alloy to make the outside world
less sword-like, and more

To turn emotional ground zero
into something beautiful.
A slowly shifting black hole.


Claire Sexton is a Welsh writer living in London. She has had poems published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Peeking Cat Poetry, Hedgerow, The Stare’s Nest, and Light: a Journal of Photography and Poetry.

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Anna Cathenka



some Interesting Facts about SPIDERS

spiders are not Insects because they have eight legs, although
the ‘Spider Swagger’ can be done on Six. spiders are Particularly

good at Battleships and have Bested other species consistently
in Championships. in 1846 the first Spider Top Hat was Conceived

Of by the designer ophelia bricks and was Considered a key point
in arachnid Fashion History. spiders do not wear Shoes unless they

are rich. post-coital Male spiders often go into Antiques. Words
that have been used to describe spiders in arachnophillic Literature

have been Boisterous, Seedy, Ur-Phallic (though that is Contested)
and aromatic. spiders communicate by Dancing, with more Complex

Dances such as the Disco, being used to express difficult Philosophical
And Scientific Thought, such as the Properties of Dark Matter, the

physical qualities of Light and the nature of Spider Deities such as
BIG HARD SIDNEY. contrary to Popular Belief, spiderweb is not in fact

made of the tears of dying Children but is a Viscous Protein made
from Carbon, Helium and the Light of dying Stars. spiders are Particularly

fond of owls and the OWL is often used as a Symbol Of virility, Freedom
and/or owlishness in Many spider cultures and Religions. For Instance,

the ancient egyptian spiders Worshipped an OWL-HEADED GOD. spiders
do not like Tapas! if a spider is left Outside in the rain it may Develop

a Hateful Personality, becoming Prone to bouts of Anti-Semitism,
homophobia and Spitefulness. to Cure a spider of these side-effects,

relieve it of one of its Legs. never put a spider on an Aeroplane as it
may Combust, or Behave In An Anti-Social Manner due to fear of

Combustion. Otherwise, spiders are generally Phlegmatic and don’t mind
being Associated with insects, especially Moths as they are Delicious.






Anna Cathenka’s poetry has been widely published in Stride, Zoomorphic, The Clearing, International Times and elsewhere. Her pamphlet Dead Man Walking will be published in the Autumn by New Fire Tree Press. She also makes poetry and podcasts, organises readings and runs workshops as part of the Sunbeats collective. Anna is currently based in Cornwall but will be moving to Norwich to study for the MA Poetry at UEA later this year. Anna can be found on Twitter @annacathenka and @sunbeatsco.




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Rachel Goodman





I have only three fingers left,
but I stretch my hand into the bin
where orphaned body parts lie,
waiting to be repurposed,
you might say,

and pull out –
a blue button eye,
from the place where it was sewn
to witness the order of things.

Another go brings up
a torso mostly unstuffed,
but it could be fashioned into something

if we forget that
bobs should follow bits,
and overlook the split, the tufted
and the dangling

Don’t bite my head off if I make mess of this.


That jacket has gone through at the elbows
Dear – your pointy bones! My leather miniskirt
(the one from Ken High Street that I adored)
will make a perfect patch.  If I can find it.

And here’s a lovely piece of white silk –
my first wedding dress, gone yellow
at the hem, but cut that off, and there’ll be enough
to make a christening gown or two.

A shoe, look, quite a small one, and my feet
have spread, but it should fit if I cut off my toes.
There might be one that looks almost the same –
then we could cobble together a sort of pair.


Dolly has a new head,
and when she takes it off
her hair stands up on end,
her brain begins to shuffle
from one foot to the other.

Do brains have feet?
(A heart can leap.)


It is snowing, straight down quick
in broken lines, but does not settle.

Still it falls, and falls, leaving
no place for us to place
our buckled feet without getting wet.

We’ll keep on though, without the need
for looking back.  Anyway,
there will be nothing to see,
just melting snow.



Rachel Goodman has taken the scenic route to becoming a poet. She has been variously an actor, mime artist, theatre producer, radio traffic announcer, journalist, presenter, mother and portrait painter. She is still the last two.

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Sarah Law



She is just sixteen, and clings
to her pillar of faith,

plump as a duck, or a goose
stuffed with buttery prayers.

Papa delivers fish, wine,
fur-lined boots, to the convent turn

and the sisters question
(after their silent supper) how

such a child could ever learn
the art of suffering on her own.

Mother scolds her when she
drops her cloth, broom, fork –

forgets to drop her gaze,
delights at a play of light

around a statue. Therese
kneels and kisses the floor.

Even now, she’s working
on her heart’s first draft,

her young soul proven
and rising like dough.




Sarah Law has published five poetry collections (the latest, Ink’s Wish, with Gatehouse Press in 2014) and is currently working on another about St Therese of Lisieux. No saint herself, she lives in London and teaches for the Open University and elsewhere.

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Natalie Scott



D H Lawrence Painted My Bathroom*

I kid you not. He did it for ‘fun’.
Swapped word for image
and went to town
on my blurry window panes:

transcendental doodlings
in primary colours, mostly
with a bit of teal for good measure.
And white. Recondite white.

Diced panels of booming symbols:
a conceptual chicken, an abstract cat,
a cactus (or phallus?) buzzes with zigzag spikes
the ideal of what’s on the other side.

Every day I bathe in stars and stripes
and who else has a totem pole (or phallus?)
at the foot of their tub?
This room is the vista of his years…

…the snap in his dragon
tingling with his mastery, sated by colour.
Ah … yes, D H Lawrence painted my bathroom.
Not many people can say that.
*D H Lawrence stayed at Mabel Dodge Luhan’s house in 1925





Natalie Scott is published by Indigo Dreams, Mudfog and Bradshaw Books. She enjoys telling stories from unusual or marginalised perspectives. Her latest project Rare Birds – Voices of Holloway Prison was awarded a Grant for the Arts to research and write a collection of dramatic monologues. Links:

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Phil Dunkerley





It had always been there,
standing against the sky as he left the village,
between the field edge and the ditch,
a constant presence in every coming and going.
Now, curiosity draws him towards it.

He shivers as the freshness of morning
chills his small body. The tree towers over him,
huge, branching, buds caught in the act of opening.
The horizon is bright with yellow, green and pale blue;
in wraiths of mist an old man passes along the road.

Circling to the north he faces the tree again,
understanding, for the first time, its maturity.
Vivid lichen tinges the strong ridged bark,
the green canopy spreads wide, and as he looks up
wood pigeons flap out, off to the ripening wheat.

From the path, brown with dry grass and blown leaves,
he can see empty nests high in the branches.
The wan disk of the sun in a layer of thin cloud
fades as it settles behind the woods. He hears
a tractor working the stubble land; someone is busy.

He finds it hard coping with the uneven ground,
and sadly notes the last few lingering leaves.
He watches as the approaching geese head south.
Vapours cling to the frosty earth; he turns away
and, far off, sees a small boy leaving the village.





Phil Dunkerley is the Poetry Society representative for the Stamford Stanza, Lincolnshire, and is active in open-mic and other local poetry groups. His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and he is a reviewer and translator.

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