Matthew Friday




The Remote Controlled Car

A prized possession of a toy-starved childhood:
one of the first remote controlled cars,
chrome still gleaming, Dan Dare curves,
tucked up in time-capsule coffin from the 1950’s.

It appeared by accident, landing from space
when dad was organising his Wunderkammer
of books not read, photographs not looked at,
a collection of model owls in forgotten nests.

For a few brief, bright seconds we got to look,
not touch, never play, stay in the box as it’s worth a lot,
worth growing every day, one day sell it, make money,
but never really going to sell it, play with it.

Needs a battery. So old now. Probably won’t work.
Back it goes on stacked shelves above the phone
that rarely rang, wrapped up in excuses and tissue
paper, tucked in tight behind squeaking doors.






Matthew Friday is a writer, professional storyteller and primary school teacher. By all means check out the results at:

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Vote Vote Vote for your March 2020 Pick of the Month.

Despite the uncertainty of everything, our Ink Sweat & Tears’ Pick of the Month still goes on and we have a fine shortlist of poets that it will be difficult to chose from. Will it be Kitty Coles’ ‘The moon is a cannibal:’ that eats you from within or ‘The Opposite of Pygmalion’ by Gillie Robic that tickles the hairs on the back of your neck? Can you catch a ray of hope from Moyra Donaldson‘s ‘A Sudden Shaft of Light’ or enjoy being ‘In the shower with Gerard Manley Hopkins’ (and Jo Bratten)? Does the edge in Sanjeev Sethi‘s ‘A Factory of Feelings’ appeal or would you prefer to take comfort from Patrick Deeley‘s ‘Homing Pigeon’?

All six of the shortlist 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 March 2020 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Please VOTE HERE. Voting will close at 9pm on Easter Monday (13th April.)

For the lockdown period, our normal Pick ‘prize’ of £10 towards the UK charity of your choice or a National Book Token will rise to £30*. Charities and booksellers, both, have been hit hard by the shutdown and we wanted to make a (admittedly very small) gesture of support.


*Book tokens can only be used within the UK and will be divided between £20 for the winning writer and a £10 token for the person of their choice.

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Paul Connolly





On the new-mown playing field, summer-yellowed
and ragged, but glistening in the autumn morning,
a horse-dung gobbet amid the straw
slithered grassily into his glance which focused
uncertainties of glancing smoky as rainfall
and caught in the brown-green instant a dragon,
swirls of alloyed gemstone, experiments
in jade, lacquer and glazes, and grew
a soaking boulder, mountainous, ravines
alive with overnight storms, until
the plane leaf’s stray hump
unfolded and rocked from the sudden stem’s
shock anomaly through certitude’s decay.



As well as IS&T, Paul Connolly’s poems have appeared in Agenda, Warwick Review, Poetry Salzburg, The Reader, Scintilla, Dawntreader, Takahē, Dream Catcher,  The Journal, FourXFour, Seventh Quarry, Sarasvati, Envoi, Obsessed with Pipework, Southlight, High Window, Northampton Poetry Review, London Grip.

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Kathleen McPhilemy




One for sorrow

St Valentine’s Day and now
it is we who are falling
one by one all around
in spring sunshine is the glitter
of a magpie’s eye
he fixes me
from his perch on the half-wrecked shed
auguring this week’s sorrow

fresh in black and white finery
he lifts over the raised beds
flirts and jinks
over the late-standing leeks
and shoots of garlic poking through
the dark turned over earth.



Kathleen McPhilemy was born and brought up in Northern Ireland but now lives in Oxford. She has published three books of poetry, the most recent being The Lion in the Forest (

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John Grey




The Non-Banjo Player

If I had a father who was
a virtuoso on the banjo,
I’d be playing bluegrass now.

But he died
before he had a chance
to teach me anything.

So, instead, I learned
from this dark hole in my life.

Wrote poetry.
Plunkety plunk plunk plunk.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dalhousie Review and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Qwerty, Chronogram and Clade Song.

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Z. D. Dicks





I am a creature of urges
that longs/ to sidle underside
tail to nose/ press into you/
cup chin in my paws
pierce sharp eyes through
nuzzling my snout flat
to merge/ our foreheads/
together/ as a bone heart/
I want to tilt your head/ run
my whiskers up/ push down
blackened lips/ to the crease
of your hair/ inhale each
and every pore/ gasp amid
drip chatter/ of street night/
clamber/ into high brickwork/
watch your shadowed strip
and share our stink/
to a roll of applause/ from bin lids



Z. D. Dicks has been accepted by Obsessed with Pipework, Sarasvati, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Fresh Air Poetry, As it Ought to Be, I am not a silent poet, The Hedgehog Poetry Press and described as ‘a gothic Seamus Heaney’ by Anna Saunders.




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Mark Ryan Smith




Fun in the Sun


He found himself watching the sun on the wall. The sun on the wall.  He remembered people saying that when he was young, meaning that whatever movement that happened to be taking place at that time was moving so terribly slowly.  You’re like the sun on the wall.  Son.  You’re always so slow son.  So bloody painfully slow.  Get a bloody move on.  You’re always so bloody slow.  Aren’t you.  Like the cow’s tail.  You’re always behind.  You’re always taking up the rear, aren’t you, like time means nothing to you does it, but you kept yourself plodding on.  You kept yourself by moving on.  On.  You keep moving on, until the frame of the mirror starts to reshape the light.  The way the wallpaper has faded.  There.  And there.  Next to the old picture of the waterfall.  And here you sit, in your chair, and you know, you know, with absolute certainty, with absolute clarity, exactly when the moment will come when the sun first caresses the dresser.  The warming you can feel.  The warming.  On the days you get up and walk over and rest your hands on the wood.



Mark Ryan Smith lives in the Shetland Islands

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