Nativity Play
Wattle Park Primary School, 1969

I’m a koala in the play.
I get to hide inside
the papier mâché koala head
Mum made.
My ears are cotton wool.
In here, it’s hot
and smells of glue
and newsprint.
Eyes peek through two holes,
the rest of me disguised.

The whole class jostles
and crowds the stage.
I hug the wings,
my koala head bobbing
to the music
while my lips stay sealed.

My playground tormentors
sing like angels.



Hilaire is co-author with Joolz Sparkes of London Undercurrents, published by Holland Park Press. She was poet-in-residence at Thrive Battersea in 2017 and Highly Commended in the 2019 Live Canon International Poetry Prize. She writes and gardens in Battersea. https://hilaireinlondon.wordpress.com

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Beth Booth




To the Occupier

I have been leaving ghosts in every house
for six years, which makes six houses –
seven if you count my temporary tenancy
in your affection. Nine houses if you count
the ones I lived in where I had no right to do so.
Arguably eleven houses. Arguably twelve
(they have taken a toll on my ability to count.)
It’s the arguing that’s the problem, though,
isn’t it – if houses are arguable then
how are they homes, how are they anything
other than a cunning place to haunt?
Shrugging off my ghosts like a lizard
done with its skin and its skilful wholeness.
I am ghostliest of all, the spook that
bites the hand that feeds, the ghoul
that has taken up residency somewhere
between the years, waiting for you to move
out, waiting for you to move on, waiting
for the next move to be a checkmate.
I am always checking, lately. Checking
out of this hotel of tendons. Leaving
ghosts on the patio to tenderly haunt you
when I am too far gone to do it myself.



Beth Booth lives in Liverpool via Cumbria and is an MFA student at the Manchester Writing School. She won the Miriam Allott poetry prize in 2016, and has poems published or forthcoming in The Moth, Lighthouse, and Orbis.

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Michael W. Thomas




Fullwoods End

(Roseville, West Midlands)

Subversion of a name: you may be led
to picture foxglove strand and windmill sail.
The proper truth’s one more ‘Dunroamin’ vale
where, way ahead of snow, the trees play dead.
A no-place, linking Bilston’s pointless grime
to tailbacks on the Birmingham New Road;
a raw park, station, pub: the faceless mode
of now, a tunnel for the gust of time.

Perhaps.  Yet schoolyears found me sprinting through
its dogleg ways at five. And that first date
secured me to its bus stop, to the view
of pyre and depot. Even now, though late
and speeding past, I brake, pull in and gaze
at all that curtained fastness, all those days.



Michael W. Thomas’s latest title is The Stations of the Day (Black Pear, 2019)His work has appeared in The Antioch Review, Critical Survey and the TLS, among othershttp://www.michaelwthomas.co.uk

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Matthew Friday




The Remote Controlled Car

A prized possession of a toy-starved childhood:
one of the first remote controlled cars,
chrome still gleaming, Dan Dare curves,
tucked up in time-capsule coffin from the 1950’s.

It appeared by accident, landing from space
when dad was organising his Wunderkammer
of books not read, photographs not looked at,
a collection of model owls in forgotten nests.

For a few brief, bright seconds we got to look,
not touch, never play, stay in the box as it’s worth a lot,
worth growing every day, one day sell it, make money,
but never really going to sell it, play with it.

Needs a battery. So old now. Probably won’t work.
Back it goes on stacked shelves above the phone
that rarely rang, wrapped up in excuses and tissue
paper, tucked in tight behind squeaking doors.






Matthew Friday is a writer, professional storyteller and primary school teacher. By all means check out the results at: matthewfriday.weebly.com/poetry

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Vote Vote Vote for your March 2020 Pick of the Month.

Despite the uncertainty of everything, our Ink Sweat & Tears’ Pick of the Month still goes on and we have a fine shortlist of poets that it will be difficult to chose from. Will it be Kitty Coles’ ‘The moon is a cannibal:’ that eats you from within or ‘The Opposite of Pygmalion’ by Gillie Robic that tickles the hairs on the back of your neck? Can you catch a ray of hope from Moyra Donaldson‘s ‘A Sudden Shaft of Light’ or enjoy being ‘In the shower with Gerard Manley Hopkins’ (and Jo Bratten)? Does the edge in Sanjeev Sethi‘s ‘A Factory of Feelings’ appeal or would you prefer to take comfort from Patrick Deeley‘s ‘Homing Pigeon’?

All six of the shortlist have been chosen by Helen or Kate or received the most attention on social media. They can be found below or by clicking on ‘Vote for Your March 2020 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Please VOTE HERE. Voting will close at 9pm on Thursday 9th April. (Please note that because of the holiday period we have brought the deadline forward.)

For the lockdown period, our normal Pick ‘prize’ of £10 towards the UK charity of your choice or a National Book Token will rise to £30*. Charities and booksellers, both, have been hit hard by the shutdown and we wanted to make a (admittedly very small) gesture of support.


*Book tokens can only be used within the UK and will be divided between £20 for the winning writer and a £10 token for the person of their choice.

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Paul Connolly





On the new-mown playing field, summer-yellowed
and ragged, but glistening in the autumn morning,
a horse-dung gobbet amid the straw
slithered grassily into his glance which focused
uncertainties of glancing smoky as rainfall
and caught in the brown-green instant a dragon,
swirls of alloyed gemstone, experiments
in jade, lacquer and glazes, and grew
a soaking boulder, mountainous, ravines
alive with overnight storms, until
the plane leaf’s stray hump
unfolded and rocked from the sudden stem’s
shock anomaly through certitude’s decay.



As well as IS&T, Paul Connolly’s poems have appeared in Agenda, Warwick Review, Poetry Salzburg, The Reader, Scintilla, Dawntreader, Takahē, Dream Catcher,  The Journal, FourXFour, Seventh Quarry, Sarasvati, Envoi, Obsessed with Pipework, Southlight, High Window, Northampton Poetry Review, London Grip.

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