Nathanael O’Reilly





A lone slightly-crushed blue M&M
rests on the classroom’s grey carpet
between rows of wooden chairs.

A student writes with her right hand
while inserting two fingers of her left
into her mouth, withdrawing pink gum.

Cheeks rest on fists. Fingertips scratch
stubble, tuck hair behind ears. Muscles
loudly suck mucus back into nostrils.

Knees bounce as hands move blue
pens left to right across lined paper.
Eyes glance at the clock. Students cough

into collars and elbows, adjust ponytails,
reverse black baseball caps, rotate wrists,
crack knuckles, search for answers

in the green magnolia boughs outside
the window, on the off-white ceiling tiles,
amongst leaves of grass on manicured lawns.



Nathanael O’Reilly is an Irish-Australian residing in Texas. His books include Preparations for Departure, Distance, Cult, Suburban Exile and Symptoms of Homesickness. His poetry has appeared in publications from twelve countries, including Antipodes, Cordite, Headstuff, Mascara, Skylight 47, Snorkel, Verity La and The Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology 2017.

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Will Birkin




Small Waters

You’ll find me in
small waters, with my eggs
like eyes and eyes
like two gold
watches, handless
as my green and almost body:
coalesced by a will
of weeds.

It’s a liminal life,
knowing just enough
of one and the other:
with my long flat smile
at the water line,
I view solid earth,
and the empty blue,
eyeing the sharp-faced:
slitherers too.



Will Birkin lives in Ely, runs a community farm in Haddenham, is a member of the local stanza group and regularly attends Fen Speak (Ely’s spoken word evening).

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Aishwarya Raghu




A Poem about Frost

Swan resting
on an empty lake: white
but for the lake. Blue
but for the swan.
Winter will set in
from the
corner of the lake.
Eagle swan.
I can no longer
tell bird from bird.
When winter sets in,
the swan will be trapped
left foot down.
Things will change. Moss
under snow. Earth
under moss. A scuba diver
would be trapped underwater
if the lake were the sea.
Lonely diver
with the left foot
of the swan for company.
The swan will fly. Bird
will turn into bird.



Aishwarya Raghu is a 26-year-old content writer from Bangalore, India. Her work has previously appeared in magazines such as the Louisville Review, Glass Mountain Magazine, aaduna, and Vayavya.

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July’s Pick of the Month is ‘He grows’ by Maxine Rose Munro

Voters loved the spareness – ‘concise and succinct’ – and ‘the absolute enormity of restlessness conveyed’ through the poem’s structure as well as its language. So for these reasons, and more, the excellent ‘He grows’ by Maxine Rose Munro is the IS&T Pick of the Month for July 2019. Huge congratulations to her!

Maxine is a Scottish poet who writes in both English and her native Shetlandic Scots. She is widely published in the UK, in print and online, including Ink Sweat & Tears, and her work has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Find her here


He grows 

I gave birth to Restless, and oh how
he prowls this house, testing, testing
the strength of my walls. Pushing
at limits to find weaknesses he
stores for future use, careful
with his words. He knows
soon will come his
time, not mine.

I gave birth to Restless
and, oh! how he grows and grows.


Other voters’ comments included:

A simple encapsulation of what every parent goes through as they realise what they’ve brought into the world.

I like the abstract/personification ‘Restless’ moves through the poem. I also enjoy how the word lends itself to more than one significance in the context of the poem.

She captures a feeling of anxiety associated with restlessness in so few words. Spare. I like spare!

Her alliteration captures attention

An interesting way of exploring this topic.

How clever to turn the poet’s own restlessness into a third-person (male) entity to complain about, whilst acknowledging that she created the condition herself. And I love the poem’s concision.

I knew exactly what the writer was saying.

I love this poem, lots of lovely tension, it verges on eery for me. A snapshot in a big story.

For me, it captures the vitality and curiosity of a spirit that can’t be constrained.

The structure and language of the poem really gives strength to the feeling of restlessness.

It intrigues me. One of these hauntingly beautiful poems that leaves me wondering if I see the same as the poet in its words, or are we divided by a common language. Wonderful.

Her poetry is so fixed in the real emotions of everyday life.

The poignancy and relatability of it

A poem about the other self. I liked the layout, fretful lines getting shorter and then growing uneasily.

Her poems take me into my dream world

an instant connection from the first line

instant and vivid

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Juliet Humphreys




Talking to Monet

People, I tell him. I can see people:
shadows, black-burnt, threading
their way between trees — and there,
behind, Parliament rises
like a cathedral I’d say
though I’ve not the faith of it —

so, something else then: a hand,
wanting air
as if, all this time,
the earth had only held it safe.

It is all so new, I say,
the colours are so quiet:
how you’ve infused grey with blue
so it seeps into clouds — or out —
I picture the blue
as a kindness.

There is more?
Yes, but this will sound silly —
(No, he says, go on)
it lifts my heart. Look, I say,

how the barest hint of red traces its way —
like a vein — across the sky; it is alive.
He nods, I feel it too.
And the water, what of that?
I could quite believe, I say,
that the water breathes.



Juliet Humphreys has previously had poems published on Ink Sweat and Tears and also in The North, Acumen, Orbis and The Rialto. She has also recently completed a novel. When not writing she teaches in a special needs school.

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Clare Crossman




Ward D9

(For Linda and Helen)

We are a murmuration of rose-ringed parakeets,
plumed in our floral nightdresses, flashes of colour.

Turning our heads sideways to catch each other’s
eye, as we rise and fall on our beds unable to keep still.

The nurses visit us for our inexplicable laughter
and ability to talk. Having taken the swoop,

and arrived here by escape or accidental release,
we are still on the loose: perching,

from a source not quite understood.

We did not choose this, me and the other
two women who delight in answering back.

Neither victims or heroines. On this cancer ward
between the sheet changing and the drips,

we remain, flightless, piratical
look down from the windows, shameless

still hoping for air and spreading our wings.
From deep in our feathers we mutter:

Give us a chip! Turned out nice again!

Pieces of eight, pieces of eight.



Clare Crossman lives outside Cambridge. She has published four collections of poetry with Shoestring Press Nottingham. The most recent being The Blue Hour ( 2017) She is working on her next collection.

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