Aidan Casey





i need t hustle i need t score
i need a drink & then a few more
i need a hand t get t my feet
i need an elbow t cross th street

i need a hug baby i need a kiss
i need t skip th preliminaries
i need a proxy an adult toy
i need a girl sometimes i need a boy

i need a map i need a chart
i need a fix for my broken heart
i need th dinero i need th dope
i need a tree & a length of rope

& i need a tonic i need a gin
i need absolution for my sins
i need a prayer, i need a poem
& i need a taxi t take me home



Aidan Casey was born in Dublin and studied English and Philosophy at UCD. Since then, he has mostly taught English in Spain. He has recently returned to writing and has poems in several online reviews and anthologies.

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Annie Wright




Night Owl

In the worrisome hours before dawn you’d be up
quartering the house for silent chores.
Never an easy relationship, you’d send
letters or cards I treasured. Four-thirty,
I’ve just finished ironing. You hated fluorescent
tubes, preferred the lamp’s seduced light.

I saw you in the kitchen’s amber glow,
perched at the table or ironing board,
a mug of Yorkshire tea at your elbow;
the loop and glide of your cursive hand.



Annie Wright‘s most recent collection is Dangerous Pursuit of Yellow (for details see A founder member of Vane Women, Annie edits for their press and, since moving to SW Scotland, runs poetry workshops and The Lit Room Press.

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Robert Etty




The Bones

Since no one’s left to pad out the story,
these are the bones of it: Saturday evening,
an RAF base (south Yorkshire, most likely),
the last weeks of World War Two.
The lads fix to meet at a hotel in town –
they might not be here next Saturday night.
The bar soon fills, and there’s laughing and noise.
The girls are friendly. They all should be dancing,
but where’s the band? The barman says the band’s
gone to War, but they didn’t take the piano.
As far as the airmen know, no one can play,
but somebody calls out: ‘Who plays piano?
Let’s have some music!’ And tall, quiet George says,
‘I play a bit’, and they slap his shoulders
and let him through, and he plays a bit for hours.
They sing and dance because War’s nearly
over and here come the post-War days.
Lads line up pints on the piano top,
too much beer by half for one pianist,
and anyway George is no drinker.
Then someone announces they ought to lock up,
and George is shutting the piano lid
when one of the men leans across and says,
‘By, bloody hell, George, though, you’re a dark horse!
All this bloody time, and none of us knew.’

This is quite slender, as stories go,
but it has a beginning and moves
to an end, with a crisis in-between.
There’s still some fleshing out to be done,
which bare bones leave plenty of space for:
uniforms, Brylcreem, blue smoke in glass light shades,
the shade of the lipstick the girls lay their hands on.
And how have they got there? Bikes? A lorry?
Will any man marry his dancing girl,
or only promise to?
What do the old ones
keep to themselves as they watch from the side?
Possibly stories with broken bones
they could relay the flesh onto if they wished,
but old ones don’t tell all that might be told.
Or if they do, not the same way twice.


Robert Etty lives in Lincolnshire. His poems have appeared in literary publications since the 1980s. Shoestring Press has published several of his collections.


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Joanna Nissel




After Kathryn O’ Driscoll

Wasn’t my heart a finch bird?
Wasn’t it the yellow-joy chirp overheard
on the dawn walk to work

–a reminder of the things in this life
that are delicate and made of more
than the hollow-boned expanses
between their filaments of cartilage?

These days I break over a disapproving glance,
forgotten change, the endless endlessness
of doing a little better every day.
But I remember when,

before his heart stopped, my father
and I used to sit on the flint wall
in the garden and listen to the gurgle
of wood pigeons he swore were eagles.

I raised an eyebrow; he snorted, smiled,
and told me he pitied the man who married me,
this great, wise queen to whom he offered his arm.
I took it and rose, stood on the wall’s flinty precipice

and under the glow of moonlight
I could almost see the feathers sprouting,
their glint of gold so bright against the garden
and my legs, wings, ready to kick off, to dive.



Joanna Nissel is a Brighton-based poet. She was the runner up for the 2018 New Poets Prize and has been published widely, including Tears in the Fence, The Fenland Reed, Eyeflash, and Atrium.

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Maxine Rose Munro




On the edge of the Arctic

If the light were to leave our world,
what of it? We would gather
with fire under sturdy roof.
We would share spirits
and stories, songs,
We would sleep
soft in warmth of ourselves.
If the light stuck up above, day
and night, well what of that?
We would work our skills,
sail over horizons.
We would seek
to be sought, go
or stay as we felt we should.
If you don’t suppose I speak true,
visit with me.
It is north,
then north some more.



Maxine Rose Munro writes in English and her native Shetlandic Scots. She is widely published, including being a previous Ink Sweat & Tears Pick of the Month. She is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee.

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Rachael Clyne




Full Sail

She feels like a ship in a bottle,
its sails pulled erect, through its neck
by a man with a string.
He sighs with pleasure,
as he seals it with a cork.

Placing her on an ornate shelf,
he can keep an eye on her,
admire her graceful lines.
She dreams of catching an evening tide
and a small but effective hammer.



Rachael Clyne is widely published in journals. Her recent pamphlet, Girl Golem ( is about her migrant origins and sense of otherness. She is involved in climate activism and hopes the lockdown has made us see sense.

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Ron Egatz, Matthew Caley, zoom reading . . .

Join us for a live zoom reading from Ron Egatz and Matthew Caley in our new occasional ‘Live from the Butchery’ series, hosted by Helen Ivory and Martin Figura from their home.  The reading will take place on Sunday 26th July, 4pm GMT, 11am EDT. (Email Kate at for details on how to Zoom in!)



A Family Trade
—Albert Pierrepoint, hangman, 30 March 1905 – 10 July 1992

As the middle child, there were problems.
Not enough parental attention, thus
Albert’s drive to join his father and uncle
in the family trade. Even at eleven
he wrote, I should like to be the Official Executioner.

At least 435 pairs of feet Albert dropped
the door from beneath. It was a job—
who kept count? Some seemed nonplussed
to go—Cheerio! said one. Others,
almost starstruck on seeing the famous
hangman: Mr. Pierrepoint, I’ve always
wanted to meet you. Though not, of course,
under these circumstances.
Twenty-six times he flew to Germany
and Austria to execute over
200 war criminals. For this he
was called a war hero, but attention
by the press was not desired. Hangmen
were told to be extremely discreet
and to conduct themselves
in a respectable manner.

Albert resigned in 1956 over nonpayment
for a last minute-cancelled execution.
It was a business (family business, though
father and uncle long-dead), and he
expected payment for his time.
Twenty years after retirement he said,
Oh, I could go again.
435 of his colleagues could not.



Ron Egatz is a poet, fiction writer, and jump blues guitarist. He has won the Glimmer Train Poetry Award, the Greenburgh Poetry Award and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Beneath Stars Long Extinct, a collection of poems, was published by Red Hen Press. Egatz was formerly employed as a director of television adverts, summons server, undergraduate professor, catalog designer, journalist, taxi driver, and forklift operator. He is currently working on a nonfiction book about writing. A poet widely published in literary reviews and anthologies, Egatz teaches writing privately one-on-one while living reclusively in a Hudson River Valley loft co-op for artists with his puggle Bijou.

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The Strop

and the strop-razor
against my testicles then
grazing my perineum
as might make an initiate
draw in their very breath but
I see Countess Dolingen of Gratz
pining over a corpse in
the Schlosspark Mausoleum

as The Id pines for pleasure.
And while the razor is blunt
my mind is sharp with thoughts of

Comptesse Dolingen of Gratz
as the filter-elms turn green,
the people dappled-green on the Alexanderplatz
almost on the verge of love.

There is no such word as ‘can’t’.



Matthew Caley’s Thirst [Slow Dancer, 1999] was nominated for The Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Since then he’s published five more collections – the last three with Bloodaxe. His work has appeared in numerous anthologies.  He is a tutor/mentor for The Poetry School in London, has recently been Associate Lecturer in Contemporary Poetry/Creative Writing at The School of English, St Andrews University and HPL at the University of Winchester. He gave the StAnza 2020 Lecture in March. His 6th collection Trawlerman’s Turquoise was published by Bloodaxe in 2019.

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