Julia Lock




Light Bearer

I’ll leave Fear by the door,
you say as you step in.
You’re bone-weary, broken,
borne down by the weight you bring.
Shadows shrink from you.
Is it time?   I ask, for I know you after all.
Only for tea, you say.
I breathe,
then please, come, rest.

I glimpse the glints beneath your patched-up mac,
the soiled tips of feathers
trailing from beneath your hem.
When I take your coat,
beauty steals my breath.
You spray raindrops round my room
as you let your wings unfold,
as if you’d brought the clouds in.

No, it’s not your time. Not today.
I have come to sit, to weep.
Take these and with tenderness
you pull from a plastic bag
bright ribbons and threads of lives,
half-woven epitaphs.

I go to make your tea,
you, His best-beloved.




Julia Lock was born in London and has lived for many years in Budapest, Hungary where she has recently taken up demonstrating.  She is working towards her first  collection of poetry.

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October’s Pick of the Month is ‘The night that takes our shape’ by Phil Powrie


Phil Powrie’s ‘The night that takes our shape’, an ‘evocative, melancholy and beautiful’ poem is a much deserved Pick of the Month for October 2017.  This dark and haunting poem struck a chord with many who felt it was one for our times; its reach even went as far as Charlottesville in the US.

Phil writes books on French cinema, and teaches cinema and French at a university in the south of the UK. He has published poetry in South.


The night that takes our shape

afraid to abandon behind us the night that takes our shape
holding our candles like flickering flags
here am I a soldier here a priest each with a weapon
you march you pray in a patch of light

your limbs pull away like garlands
offered lightly to the clock’s lazy eyes
your hands clasp around mine
and you sing come dance with me come dance again

and march and pray
to hold the night at bay
to keep abstracted dark forever from the field

more than what we lost we regret what we never had
and dark shapes come to haunt us
marching and praying with their unbearable battalions


Voters’ comments included:

It is beautiful, so personal and yet so much about our times.

the candles in the night make me think of protests, Nazis with torches, counter protesters (this vote is from Charlottesville). I feel the darkness.

Elegant, succinct, evokes a clear image…

For its mood, and the melancholic form of dim extinguishing.

A refined and all at once unsettling use of the sonnet form

It’s beautifully compressed and suggestive — a small gem.

A powerfully evocative poem , tight, bare and visual

a moving poem, especially the way it sustains the multiple metaphor of darkness

the way it moves through night-time images, sensations and feelings like the mutable shadows one sees in the dark, like a dream.

powerful shifting imagery that avoids the predictable relationships that often render poems staid and overly familiar in their metaphorical usage.

lovely dark poem that fits our dark times and remind us of the need not to despair

I love the beautiful language and the carefully developed metaphors of the soldier and the priest.

An intriguing, suggestive, atmospheric piece of writing that lingers in the mind and repays close attention and rethinking.

…It spoke to me, especially the verse ‘more than what we lost we regret what we never had’. It evoked a friendship I recently lost, or better said never managed to have. This is very true.

A stirring evocation of the paradoxes of night and darkness–rebirth, certainly, but also mourning and loss.

This is a lovely poem that merges images of faith, war, and love.

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Kate Noakes


The proof of being able to cook

It’s happening again.
I can feel fat
settling around
my hips, adipose
in my bones
my scars stretching.

I don’t want it to set up home.
It’s as welcome
as a part-live frog
cat-left on a door mat
that thrashes and gulps
its skin unable
to breathe
its ripped body spilling
guts into the pile
a bilious experiment
in electricity.

I don’t need a night-stalker
to bring me this gift
this plenty. I must
seal my lips and burn.



Kate Noakes‘ fifth collection is Tattoo on Crow Street (Parthian, 2015). Her website (boomslangpoetry.blogspot.com) is archived by the National Library of Wales. She was elected to the Welsh Academy in 2011. She lives between Paris and London.

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Marc Woodward





Her wet eyes were green as fenland water.
The twelfth day of August and she could hide
alongside you in her crypsis of hair
until it seemed that you might step on her –

then she’d be gone in a clatter of pans,
a flap of arms, a fluster of car keys.
I recall her whisper though, even now,
when she told me in her own thesaurus

how rain falls, how leaves fall, how there must be
a reckoning and some great final count.
Poor at consolation I took to maths
and numbered all the times I made her cry.




Marc Woodward is a musician and poet living in rural Devon. He has been widely published and his recent chapbook A Fright of Jays is available from Maquette Press. A full collection written in collaboration with well known poet Andy Brown is due out soon.

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Chris Hardy




Humiliated behind glass
black, point nosed
Beluga Sturgeon,
float on a terrace.

After the seminar
astronomers eat salad,
watch stars flick on.

I too am interested
in the Universe
but cannot see past

the cook picking up a glove
as grills glow red
in expectation.


If we leave now
we’ll reach the sea

gathered above
a deep blue gulf,
where nothing swims

except ourselves
stick limbed
in the light filled surface

looking down,
and wondering
if what we do not know
is there.



Chris Hardy’s poems have been published widely and have won prizes. His fourth collection will be published this year. He is in LiTTLe MACHiNe, performing settings of poetry at literary festivals – best poetry band in the world according to Carol Ann Duffy.

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George Szirtes for Remembrance Sunday




Chorus from The Returning


We are the people, the nation and the state

We are the inscriptions, the documents

The declarations, the pomp and the circumstance,

The structures of being, the bedrock of commerce

The official face of the face in the mirror



We are the people, the nation and the state

We are the stamps you must lick, the forms you must fill

The dues you must pay, the creditor at your door,

We are the duplicate, triplicate, quadruplicate infinitude

Of all you must say once, then twice and again

Until you have said it to our mutual satisfaction



We are the people, the nation and the state,

The statues in squares, the graven monoliths,

The bones of survival, the blindfolded judge,

We are the corpus of the corporeal

We are your heroes, your champions in the field

We are the field, the grass and the meadow

We are your long and terrible shadow






George Szirtes published his first book of poems, The Slant Door, in 1979. It won the Faber Memorial Prize. Has published many since then, Reel (2004) winning the T S Eliot Prize, for which he has been twice shortlisted since. His latest book is Mapping the Delta (Bloodaxe 2016).  For more information: http://georgeszirtes.blogspot.co.uk/

Note: This is the last chorus taken from an oratorio titled The Returning, about the end of the First World War.

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