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Sharon Phillips




Something’s wrong

This is how it will start:
from the other side of a room
you’ll hear your mum talk, loud
but so fast you won’t be able

to follow and she will see
you’re looking so she’ll come
over and pull you aside.

Listen to me, she will say,
I’ve got something to tell you,
and you will think of cancer—
breast, perhaps, or womb—

but her eyes will be wide open,
and her teeth will shine with spit
and she’ll pant a little laugh

before she tells you that she is
the Holy Ghost and you will
stare at the flakes of mascara
beneath her lashes before you

turn your back. Years later
you will feel her strong fingers
clutching at your bicep.



Sharon Phillips started learning to write poems a few years ago, after she retired from her career in education. Her poems have been published online and in print, and have been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2017), the Indigo Firsts pamphlet competition (2018) and the WoLF Poetry Competition (2019). Sharon won the Borderlines Poetry Competition in 2017 and was among the winners of the Poetry Society Members’ Competition in November 2018. She lives in Otley, West Yorkshire.

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Linda Rose Parkes




A True Version

honest to god
i can’t bear
to look at myself
in the mirror

i stalk her she’s my new poem in her fitted coat and high heels on the number 10 bus         put bars on the lines

last night
i told him
Megan’s seeing
a married guy

in the morning she’ll wake to cadence and pauses    rhythms of wingbeat flocking the page

that’s good
he says
if it
her happy

she’ll soon forget her passionless marriage when i leave her here for others to find

then i say so you
don’t mind
if i start fucking

let’s hope they bring food    let’s trust they bring fresh hope   that she isn’t alone in this fortress i’ve built her

that’s how low
we’ve sunk

i hear calling in my sleep     she wants to go home    she wants her own grievance    

i can’t
to see
these days

she wants the truth of her own shadow 

Linda Rose Parkes lives in the Channel Islands and has published four collections, the latest, This Close, was launched last winter. She continues to run poetry workshops and is also a painter.

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Rachel Burns




The defendant’s elderly mother tells you
she can’t hear very well.

You listen to the graphic descriptions
of the child images her son viewed on his computer

like a punch in the stomach.
You have children, you are a mother.

His mother’s face twists as if she is sucking
on a lemon. She clutches her handbag

straining to hear the barrister
as he discusses each count

and the custodial guidelines.
You listen to the judge’s

summing up, thinking about
how you will avoid the truth

how you will skirt over the facts
if she asks. For you know

his mother probably hears more than she lets on
selective hearing makes the truth

that much easier to swallow.



Rachel Burns has poetry published in Crannog, Poetry Salzburg Review, Algebra of Owls and is anthologized in Poems for Grenfell Tower, Poems for the NHS and #MeToo. She has a poetry pamphlet forthcoming with Vane Women Press.

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Catherine Ayres



Christmas Eve tea

5 o’clock.
Light silvers the sill.
This is the season of curious moons,
when we’re lost in the velvet of ourselves,
undreaming the deep nights
 between tomorrow and the past.

Rooms flower slowly, like stars.

Here are steep steps,
a hexagon of doors,
two china dogs guarding
the gas fire’s slapped cheeks.

I find the Smarties tube of tuppences.
I shake the Virgin so the Holy Water swirls.
I am allowed to sink my face
into the Sunday furs.

In the kitchen,
a clutch of pinnied women
makes the china clink.

Cold meats,
salad from a tin.

This is not a photograph –
it’s the warm edge of the past
where the women I love
are still alive.

I thought life would slot
into a snug line
by the sink.

My kitchen is neat and cold.
Light silvers the sill.
At the window, stars.

Catherine Ayres is a teacher from Northumberland. Her debut collection, Amazon, was published in 2016 by Indigo Dreams.

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