Steve Smart




Present in Scent

In the evening darkness
You tap recent grace notes.

Singing moments more clearly
Than the instant of a bulb.

Coffee smooth as an unguent
Heralds near satisfactions.

The air dilutes her presence
Until a key click blooms with return.

If we shared a language
The words would still be silent.

Scents of slow time shadowing,
This longer minded now.



Steve Smart is a poet and visual artist living in Scotland. He has been involved in a broad range of creative disciplines over time, collaborating with artists, performers, scientists, and others in a wide variety of fields. Web site: Poetry Blog: Twitter:@steveDsmart

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Simon McCormack




But The Moon Must Be Found

She kept an eye out for it as she vacuumed the beds and the curtains and the corners where the old spider’s web hung on. For fun she practised saying ‘I do.’ She saw gossip in the puckered mouth of a fish on the chopping board. She turned a ring on her finger and saw the sky fresh as beaten rug, and felt the way a blue garter might at the top of her thigh. She wanted to offer the moon with both hands.



Simon McCormack lives in Bournemouth. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines including Poetry Review, Interpreter’s House and The Rialto. His first pamphlet  A History of Scraps  can be purchased here

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Daniel Bennett




Ride The Amazing Cobra!

Everything is in the open now:
there you are, pinned up high
like clothes thrashing on a line,
and cry, scream, or hide your eyes
there’s no getting off. Gravity
strums at lower nerves, imagine
a plane wobbling in turbulence,
a happy poisoning. The rails
play out like a xylophone of bone,
and death is the arbitrary gift
of a childish god, who has yet
to learn mercy or tolerance,
or the simple beauty of your life.

But that feeling that this
might well be it, is half the fun
and as you whip and turn
spin, and scream, you reach out
for someone else’s hand
even though they’ve been a stranger
for, oh, well, a number of years now.





Daniel Bennett was born in Shropshire and live and work in London. His poems have appeared in a number of places, most recently in Structo, The Stinging Fly and The Manchester Review. He is also the author of the novel All the Dogs. You can find him online at or @AbsenceClub

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John Short



When We Were Occultists

In the days when we were occultists
we were dazzled by symbolism,
numerology and arcane language.
We’d spend an afternoon sniffing ether
because that was what Crowley did
and you could buy it over the counter
in the chemist shops of Gascony.

In the days when we were occultists
we’d draw magic circles in chalk
on the floorboards of the dining room
under the massive fireplace,
hunt around for daggers and candlesticks
or produce our own robes, though
we were not seamstresses.

Those days long ago when it seemed
as if everyone was an occultist
we’d sit under that rustic fireplace
carving wands of hazel and sycamore;
branches cut from a tree at dawn
and the wizards of Gascony
would pass by and approve.

Those strange gnarled folk who held
meetings in the forest, the nights
when we were all occultists
tracing pentagrams in the air
taking every cat or raven seriously
and purging our auras with blasts
of liquid astral fire.



John Short was born in Liverpool and studied comparative religion at Leeds University before spending some years in southern Europe. His poems and stories have appeared in a number of magazines such as Frogmore Papers, Orbis, Obsessed with Pipework and Barcelona Ink.


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Martin Stannard


The Houseplant Advisor

Following my own old advice I have put the first part
of this, i.e. the part that came out first, at the end or,
to be more precise, near the end. And it’s not always
first idea first place though often it can be if one is able later
to apply objective quality assessment procedures to the first
dribbly emanation of what may prove to be, if the world
owns any justice, a pleasing breakfast diversionary read.

Now that’s out of the way, I’ll get on with it, for you are
I’m sure all ears. Or eyes. Today’s topic is “Houseplants:
Are They Worth The Tears?” My own feeling, if I may make
so bold as to come right out with it, is to echo sentiments
first uttered when the world was younger than it is now
by one who knew what it was to live the life of an emperor
whilst nurturing the belief that all woes are Nature’s way:

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180). “Do not waste the remaining
part of your life in thoughts about other people, when you
are not thinking with reference to some aspect of the common
good.” Oh, perhaps that’s not as apt as I first thought. How
about this: “There is a river of creation, and time is a violent
stream. As soon as one thing comes into sight, it is swept past
and another is carried down: it too will be taken on its way.”

My parlour palm is suffering, though I know not from what
as the leaves turn brown and dry and eventually drop from
what the manual describes as “a plant almost impossible to
kill.” As ever, the chances of being allowed to wipe the slate
clean and start over are slim to none. You can don a new
nail varnish if you want to but that’s about as far as they’ll let you
go. People are so demanding. It’s not that they want to like

you it’s more that they don’t like it when you act in a way
they don’t like, as if it’s your job to keep them happy
and not disrupt their world or break the glass of the greenhouse
in which they propagate their never-ending annoyances.
I didn’t know I was born for other people’s ease and pleasure
yet here I am, all learned up and nowhere to go tonight:
I kind of wish I hadn’t spent so much on this dress.




Martin Stannard’s poetry and criticism have been widely published since the late 1970s. His most recent collection is  Poems For The Young At Heart (Leafe Press, 2016). Website:

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Marian De Saxe



First, to music

I am forgotten music
carrying chores like a bag lady as day rushes to an end
weighed down by the tempo of a supermarket aisle at weekend peak-time.

I direct my old jalopy
into a suburban pit hidden away from sun’s last chimes
which peal greed and abundance:
lorikeets feast on umbrella tree dates like three drunk tenors trying to sing Puccini.

I become bird-music
whistling as I fill the fridge
pecking at obligatory evening nibbles and a glass of portamento
a zither, slithering away from kitchen calls
as I compose a scene of sundown green,
and colours more vivid than the veggie shelves syncopate piano into Bach’s backyard
and the last bar flops into a chair.
There is silence.

I am night music curling around, lazy and forgetful
tuning in to footsteps, each wandering
cadence loping towards tone-notes of recognition




Marian De Saxe holds a Ph. D in English from the University of Sydney and has completed courses in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia/Norwich Writer’s Centre.

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