Ian Heffernan




The Running Club

This morning not their normal urban route:
The busy paths beside dual carriageways,
The quiet in the longer avenues,
The brief, ill-thought-out streets where people tend
Their flower beds like grudges and the cars
Are parked along the pavement on both sides.

Instead the dip and lift of country lanes,
Uncertain tarmac, little muddy pools,
A loneliness of clearings, half-attempts
At tracks which jink away between the trees,
And, early in the run, a hidden bridge
Adjacent to the point where two streams meet.

They pass in groups and then in single file.
One checks his watch, another’s spectacles
Are covered with the scribblings of light rain.
These runners represent the mind engaged
In settling inner debts, but doing this
Through physical activity, which means

The press of blood in artery and vein,
The solemn rasp of breath, warm knots of sweat,
The grimaces and intermittent farts.
For thirteen miles or so they pay their debts.
They see a crash between two builder’s vans,
A girl outside an isolated pub,

Two rabbits dart across a drainage ditch,
A roadkill badger stretched out on its side
(A black-brown turd protruding from its rear).
The world flows backwards from their tight-strung frames,
Their bleak ascesis strengthens with each stride,
The sound of their own footfalls goads them on.



Ian Heffernan was born just outside London, where he still lives. He studied at UCL and SOAS and works with the homeless. His poetry has been published recently in the High Window, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Cha, Antiphon, South Bank Poetry, London Grip, Under the Radar, FourXFour, the Moth and elsewhere.

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Anna Maria Mickiewicz




The Hidden

Once they were hidden
Forest covered the fear
Drowned out the silence…
Darkness stood on the way home
The clock of the heart was beating in seconds

Dash up there quickly, spread the arms
Hair will fall down gently 

Hidden from brightness,
Hidden from fate

It is a dream…

In the London thicket they are still invisible
Yet they feel the power
Hidden in a short smile,
Just for a second.
They fix taps
They drink strong coffee
They don’t have to eat much,
Sometimes only a sandwich.



Anna Maria Mickiewicz (http://faleliterackie.com) is a Polish-born poet, writer and editor who writes both in Polish and English. Anna moved to California, and then to London, where she has lived for many years. She edits the annual literary magazine Pamiętnik Literacki (The Literary Memoir), London, and is a member of English Pen. Her first collection was published in 1985. Publications include short stories and essays Okruchy z Okrągłego Stołu (Breadcrumbs from the Round Table) in 2000, Londyńskie bagaże literackie in 2019, and collections Proscenium in 2010, London Manuscript, (Poetry Space, Bristol, 2014) and The Mystery of Time, (Flutter Press, USA 2019.) With Danuta Błaszak she co-editor of Flying Between Words, Contemporary Writers of Poland (Florida: 2015).

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Penny Sharman





I want to be a Nightjar
where language is colour
where my ways of being
cryptic and crepuscular
are accepted like stars in night skies.

I wish I was a Nightjar
could spend my days
hidden in your scrubland,
wait for light to dim,
so that my secret songs
can be heard in twilight.

I dream of being a Nightjar,
to feel my flight and hawking.
I need to hear my churring
know you can hear my song
and find me here, a refugee
on the edge of your lives.



Penny Sharman has a MA in Creative Writing from Edge Hill University. Her pamphlet Fair Ground is published by Yaffle press. Her collection Swim With Me In Deep Water is published by Cerasus poetry. Her books are available to buy from her website:  pennysharman.co.uk

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J V Birch




Moon daisies

Do you know about the daisies that only open
in moonlight? Have you seen the attic full
of sadness and when the tallest of us fall?

And then the questions to which we answer
I’ve no idea what you’re talking about or
I’m only here cos I was told I could share.

Did you hear about the cat who found its old
tongues? It gave some to me. I stitched them
into a scarf to keep my neck warm in winter.

I don’t know why I can’t dream in colour.
All the things we left unsaid are line-dried
and folded. Tomorrow will give them mouths.



J V Birch lives in Adelaide. Her poems have been published in Australia, the UK, Canada and the US. She has three chapbooks with Ginninderra Press and a full-length collection, more than here, and blogs at www.jvbirch.com

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Lesley Quayle




When people say your skull cracks like an egg,
it doesn’t. Not the Humpty Dumpty fragmentation –
compared to that, it’s unspectacular. A sound
like a dropped watermelon, the fall, the slightly
meaty thud. A possible loss of consciousness,
your vision vague, taut skin split, an unexpected warmth
of blood. The gathering wetness on tentative fingers
now permeating hair and floor. When you close your eyes,
hot sparks confetti the dark behind your lids.
Bone meets stone, in a smash of numbered heartbeats,
a sudden kick of pain that stamps the breath
from your lungs. You’ve forgotten how to move
until deft and gentle hands raise you, nausea gathering
like a landslide. There are no words, but tears as you crumple,
a beacon of relief as he folds you to his chest.
He wants to summon all the king’s horses and all the king’s men
to put you back together – and they can. They will.
So all that remains is a faint bloodstain on the flagged floor.





Lesley Quayle is a widely published, prize-winning poet and an editor and folk/blues singer. Work has appeared in The North, Rialto, Tears in the Fence, Prole, among others. Her latest pamphlet is Black Bicycle published by 4Word.


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Rachael Clyne




I cradle my grief

I cradle my grief
sing it lullabies
keen with it
roar with it
hide it write it
speak it sing it
It keeps coming back
in waves
each time rising
each time deeper
until I wail
for each leafless branch
each leech each death
each beech each dearth
each drought each birth
each beached whale
until it contains the whole world.

Here, would you hold it for me?
Just for a few moments–
take care to support its head
do not let it drop.




Rachael Clyne from Glastonbury, is widely published in journals including: Tears in the Fence, The Rialto, Under the Radar, Prole, Shearsman. Collection: Singing at the Bone Tree (Indigo Dreams). Recent pamphlet, Girl Golem, (4Word Press). Member of Extinction Rebellion.

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Nicky Phillips





That very last night at my parents’ house
it was as though a blackbird waited
on the fence and, watching, saw my tears,
flew down, pecked into the crack, opening,
its sharp yellow beak homing straight to the heart.

It drew blood, pulled as if at a worm,
leant back, bracing, ready to gulp down
as a corner broke free,
a piece of me taken for ever.

A silence followed, as sudden
as the quiet of a solar eclipse.

Early next day, eyes raw from lack of sleep,
I watched the cars pull up outside the gate,
heard a faint chorus of birdsong begin.




Nicky Phillips lives in Hertfordshire. Her poems have been published in magazines and online. In 2017 one was nominated for Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. Her pamphlet Jam in Aisle 3 was published by Dempsey & Windle in 2018.



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