Vote for your September 2019 Pick of the Month

It feels like all of life is in the September 2019 shortlist for Pick of the Month: Birth, death, love, hate, the past and the future (or lack of it.) Can you feel time in Cliff Forshaw‘s ‘Ice’ slipping away or see the futility in ‘Brick By Brick’ (Brian Rihlmann)? Do Judi Walsh‘s ‘Stone’ and  Helen Kay‘s ‘NIMBY and the Supermoon 2018’ captivate or unnerve?  And where is Madelaine Culver going in ‘Run’? Is it towards or away from that envisioned in Setareh Ebrahimi’s ‘ Galloping Horses’?

All six works 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 September 2019 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Voting has now closed. The winning ‘Pick’ will be announced on Tuesday 22nd October at 4pm. 

The winner each month will be sent a £10 book giftcard or, if preferred, a donation of the same amount will be made to a chosen charity. In the event of the winner being from outside the UK mainland, we will make every effort to provide a reasonable alternative. All shortlisted poetry Picks, provided they remain unpublished and meet other eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. (‘Frequency Violet’ by Kate Edwards was a Pick of the Month for November 2017 and was Highly Commended by the 2018 judges.)

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Brian Rihlmann




Brick by Brick

how tough a wall
you can build
from bubbles

they stack like bricks
and solidify
into something
you couldn’t break
with a sledgehammer

when you pick up the phone
the words are fewer

not flowing
a sponge
wrung to its last

they are tired, too
they get lazy
they limp with age
and overwork

or they slink away
and hide
ponder their betrayals

we grow more silent
as we prepare
for silence




Brian Rihlmann was born in New Jersey and currently resides in Reno, Nevada.  He has been published in Blognostics, Red Eft Review, Spillwords, Synchronized Chaos, Cajun Mutt Press, The Rye Whiskey Review, and others.

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Helen Kay




NIMBY and the Supermoon 2018

The window by her pillow has the best job in the house:
it sneaks in day to kiss her awake to      a tail-thumping heart.

Curtains slice a piece of sky, twig-flecked, let her taste
the creamy dawn            shame it’s a #supermoontease.

She breaks open sleep-stuck, blackout linings. Her heart howls.
New houses, with scaffold ribs                      fatten on the fields.

Her hatred self-harms as the ‘stunning’ Wildflower estate
chews up trees and newts                    smirks at her terrace.

She is Sleeping Beauty. No sweet lips, just golden JCBs drilling
her mad. She goads the moon to flee       prays for a spindle prick.



Helen Kay’s poems crop up in magazines. She was recently placed second in the Leeds Peace Prize, Wakefield Sanctuary and Welshpool competitions and commended in the Shelter and Festival of Firsts Competitions. She spends too much time on Facebook.

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Setareh Ebrahimi




Galloping Horses

We caught a moment of your underwater world.
Galloping horses, the midwife said.
In there there’s weird fishes
and a submarine with a rotating light
looking for life
steadily; beep, beep, beep.

You like to hide.
At first on screen it was like looking at you from above
in a bathtub,
then you simply slept on your face like your father,
refusing to move, despite star jumps.

As they pushed into me
you materialised in and out of existence,
arms, no arms, legs, no legs,
I was hoping to see a member
or the absence of one
to gauge your secrets and gain an even field.

You’re still liminal, a sprite, a god.
I’d like to think that’s what you’ll always be to me,
but I must warn you,
people here are static and tired and almost
always not magical.

I’d like to call you by your name.
They might as well show me my brain
with all its junk and hopes
or my heart, where you also live.
As I lie in pain, give up on sleep,
get up and write this,
with what’s left of my boldness I think I would do this,
a thousand times, again.



Setareh Ebrahimi is a poet living in Faversham, Kent. She has been published numerous times in various journals and magazines, including Brittle Star, Confluence and Scrittura. Setareh released her first pamphlet, entitled In My Arms from Bad Betty Press in 2018.

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Cliff Forshaw





These days the permafrost is no such thing,
breeds crooked shoots, springs fingers. Ancient hands
reach out to us from ice through melting rings:
our histories disinterred from broken land.

Revenants with their bronze-age seeds, knapped flints,
vague hints of trade, origins, signs of plague.
Another hottest-summer-yet reveals
hieroglyphs embossed across the dusty fields:

earthworks, long barrows, some chieftain’s chilly tomb;
the migrant tucked into his alpine womb’s
shucked out unborn, as glaciers puddle into light.

The ice caps calve, the seas and vapours rise;
methane’s unlocking from its frozen sink.
Think things unleashed, the new abnormal, watch laden skies…




Cliff Forshaw has been writer-in-residence in California, France, Kyrgizstan, Romania and Tasmania, twice a Hawthornden Writing Fellow, and appeared at the International Poetry Festival, Nicaragua. Collections include Vandemonian (Arc, 2013), Pilgrim Tongues (Wrecking Ball, 2015) and Satyr (Shoestring, 2017).

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Judi Walsh





Let me look at your face in wonder, and hold it in my hands. Let me, with careful fingers, trace that noble nose, handsome and proud, which now can’t poke where it doesn’t belong. Let me stroke those silky eyelids with my thumbs. I will try and fail not to press hard on those eyes which see too much. Let my mute mouth claim your cruel mouth, so that your teeth are exposed, and so I have two tongues, and you have none.



Judi Walsh writes poetry and flash fiction. Her work has been listed for several awards including the Salt Flash Fiction Prize, National Flash Fiction Micro Competition and the Bath Flash Fiction and Novella-In-Flash awards. She tweets @judi_walsh

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Madelaine Culver





through the flowers
white, on the water’s edge
the little boat will take you
to a headless woman
pale beneath the moonlight
arms outstretched



Madelaine Culver is a freelance writer and proofreader with a background in arts administration. Based in the North East of England, she is currently studying for an MA in Writing Poetry at Newcastle University. Twitter: @fromxthextower


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