Tom Wiggins




I’m at a party somewhere in Brazil

not the sit down one or the dancing one but the one where you’re stood up and the waiters come round and serve you little things on trays so you feel like some sort of posh giant when you eat them and it’s all very civilised and I find myself in a group of people with good hair and tailored suits who know which way round their business cards will be when they take them out of their inside pockets and they’re talking about scuba diving and one of them starts talking about a dive he did off the coast of Wherever and everyone nods like they all did the same dive the same mind-blowing dive and they keep nodding and they all nod so much that I think all of their heads are going to fall off and when the man finishes I crack my best joke and say why do scuba divers always fall into the water backwards and when I tell them the punchline a woman near to us laughs at the very moment she takes a sip of her wine and the spray goes everywhere and I mean everywhere all up the wall on some curtains a vase a passing waiter and on most of the people in the group and they look down at their suits then up at the woman then down at their suits and up at the woman and they’re shooting these black scowls at her as they dry their faces with their handkerchiefs before turning back but I can’t turn back because I’ve just recognised her and all I can do is smile because the woman responsible for giving most of my group a Prosecco shower is Elizabeth Bishop and she’s just laughed at one of my jokes and now they’re scowling at me as I’m smiling at her and they’re expecting my little comedy act to continue because they’re holding me at least 40% responsible for what just happened which I know will be reflected in the dry cleaning bill but I can’t do anything when Elizabeth Bishop has just laughed at one of my jokes and I feel myself melting like I’m stood above one of her flames and she’s captured all the gravity and I’ve forgotten language altogether because I’m looking at Elizabeth Bishop and Elizabeth Bishop is looking at me and I want to thank her not just for laughing at that silly joke but for everything so I half walk half float towards her and as I do so I remember the moose that stood in front of her bus wouldn’t it be funny if I asked about the moose but I tell myself not to even mention the moose she probably gets asked about it all the time you don’t want to look like an idiot in front of Elizabeth Bishop but in trying not to think moose everything becomes moose but do not under any circumstances ask about the moose



Tom Wiggins is a 31 year-old stonemason from Gloucester.

Read More

Charlotte Appleby



Mr. Wrong

Can’t wear the red velvet skirt I love
the hem won’t cover bruised knees,
can’t talk—shouldn’t talk—to family
don’t need them asking me again
‘why don’t you just leave?’

If the roast isn’t on the table at five
o’clock sharp, then he’ll finish work,
cheeks flared and shout ‘bastard woman!’
I’ll apologise, clasp at his shirt, eyes-closed.

Look—the forgotten laundry pile has grown
added unfamiliar lingerie with a torn crotch.
Silently, he retreats to the office
slamming the door until it splinters.
Relief washes over me.

I slide to the floor, the sounds start
he’s watching videos—the groans, moans
of other women, the blonde one with big tits
the one he likes, the one who inspired him

to offer me an enhancement
like an upgrade of my phone;
he wants a better model.
I pushed away loved ones
to try to make this home.






Charlotte Appleby is a student at Gloucester University and works part-time as a Play Worker. She has written articles for online magazines such as Greener Gloucestershire and Business Buzz. She has published work in Compass: New Writing IV (2015) and Reflections: New Writing V (2016)

Read More

Katerina Neocleous




When their hearts and bodies ached,
they imagined beings able
to transcend toil only love
made tolerable; and the hurt
embryonic wings unfurling
from sore shoulders reluctantly,
like new Horse Chestnut leaves.

More cloister bat than angel,
these dumb creatures
summoned in torment
can’t offer hope or salvation,
but they’ll sit with you all day
though you refuse their succour:
until you’re less lonely than them.





Katerina Neocleous is a full time mother and home educator. She has had poems published in various poetry magazines, most recently in Obsessed With Pipework and Clear Poetry. She is based in North West England.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.




Read More

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.

Read More