January 2018’s ‘Pick of the Month’ is ‘Bit Parts’ by David Riley


From a wonderfully varied group that included both Word & Image and prose poetry, voters went for the poem that most spoke to them directly and David Riley’s ‘Bit Parts’ is the Pick of the Month for January 2018.

David is studying for an MA at the Seamus Heaney centre, Queen’s University Belfast. He has had several poems printed and in shop windows.


Bit Parts

I want to ask you,
do you think we’re in a film?
If we get our lines wrong
will someone step out from the Golden Mile,
put us back on track –
though they haven’t done yet –
the director’s a secretive sod.

You smile.
I like it when you touch my face
I don’t say, just wait
for your fingers to move from my skin.
Like all the other takes, you begin again
look out to sea, wait for your cue.
I remember what you haven’t said yet.



Voter made the following comments:

Beautiful imagery

the humour and relative conciseness appeal to me.

I like the secretive flavour of the last line

Memory, reality, feelings, all questioned.

a very wander/wonder-ful poem

The pauses felt right.

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David He



the winter sun

warms her bedclothes –

open window


rustling leaves

in the bare forest …

unwanted girl



ducklings quack

about the lake


a crow’s feather

turned over by the wind

night glow


twilight settles

on the frozen river

her departing call



David He has been working as an advanced English teacher for 35 years in a high school. So far he has had twenty short English stories published in anthologies. In recent years he has had haiku published in magazines like Acorn, The Heron’s Nest, Presence, Rocket bottles, Frogpond, A One Hundred Gouges, Shamrock, First Literary Review-East , Modern Haiku,Frozen Butterfly and some international magazines. He has also had tanka published in Tanka of America,Skylark, Ribbones and Cattails.

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Gareth Writer-Davies



A Horse Galloping Through Brecon Museum


before the capture

of silver upon glass


it was a lucky guess

by the artist


to paint the correct gait

of a horse


the life-size portrait

of the Marquess of Bute’s


stud stallion

an arrested study of proportion



the feisty hero of the track


ready to leap

from the wall



a better wager than the photographic plate


that stable in its nitrate

repeats and does not create



Gareth Writer-Davies; Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Erbacce Prize (2014) Commended in the Prole Laureate Competition, the Welsh Poetry Competition (2015) He is the Prole Laureate for 2017 and Highly Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition. His pamphlet Bodies was published in 2015  by Indigo Dreams and Cry Baby, in 2017. https://www.facebook.com/gareth.writerdavies http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/gareth-writer-davies/4587920255

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Diarmuid Fitzgerald



upturned boat
wind whipped sand
wipes it clean


from the train window
concrete, more concrete …
finally cherry blossoms


windy day —
cleaning the mountain of litter
ripple in the ferns


wild garlic
its smell lingers
among unidentified grass


warmth of the sun
on my skin —
first midgets of spring

clouds break —
a sun-wheel
now the beat of wings



Diarmuid Fitzgerald was born in Ireland in 1977 where he lives. His first collection of haiku Thames Way was published in 2015 by Alba Publishing. He has finished a second collection in manuscript form called A Thousand Sparks. https://deewriter.com. https://www.facebook.com/fitzwriter/



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R. E Hengsterman




I’ve been many things over the course of my life, some good, and some bad. I’ve said things I shouldn’t have said. Told lies I shouldn’t have told and pretended to be someone I wasn’t when I was unsure of who I was. But there’s one thing I could never be, and that was him.

I’ve tried, in various ways to be him, to be better than him, to run from him. The truth is, I’m a coward. So, I do as cowards do and hide within myself, but with help. For me, it’s the bottle. But for others, it’s the vein or the pipe or the pill. To each his own I suppose.

Today, as with most days, the smell of whiskey reaches my nose long before I raise the glass to my lips. The woody aroma, the mouth-coating warmth, and the familiar, deliberate kick. I know it won’t be long before my lucid and rational thoughts become compromised and the burden of him retreats; even for the briefest moment of time.

Drinking is how I survive him; transforming myself from average man to inebriated, stumbling, confused, semi-conscious arrangement of human flesh. I’m aware of the paradox; seeking escape from the infiniteness of him by pouring my soul into the finite space of a whiskey bottle. And whether on purpose or through my flawed interpretation, the idea of him has made me feel something less than human. What made him so special? He could have been many things. In fact, he could have been anything. It was of little importance what he did; only that he did it better.

I’ve given it considerable thought and have determined the flaws in my existence lay deep in my cerebellum, well-hidden within the sulci of my brain; a severed neuron; an under-developed section of gray matter; a slow growing tumor; or a fault in my genetic code.

The whiskey is not ideal. Not by any means. It’s sloppy. Some days it leads me down a path of endless vomiting, and I curse him. Some days I hemorrhage tissue from my esophagus, evident by the spattering of blood in the sink. Some days my insides corkscrew themselves into knots, and I pass out from the pain.
My relentless obsessing over him leads me to drink more and more; hoping to forget him. I have felt such a burden; of being part of him, but in no capacity, resembling him.

I suffer; as I have always known I could never measure up to him, and over time fell, helpless into the deep chasm of despair. My mind grows clumsy as the toxic substances; the metabolites of the whiskey; the ammonia, and the manganese reach toxic levels in my liver. I live this way; bloated, stumbling, ruddy-faced, and alone. The memory of him, I believe, fades the slightest bit. I scream his name in the dark with a tongue thick as cotton. I sound as if were a boxer; that would have impressed him, to become punch drunk one-to-many times by fist and not by the bottle.

I have come to the point in my life I’ve forgotten almost everything I have known. Except for the idea of him. And this, even though I have tried to forget, has never left me.
I tip the bottle back, again and again, a good measure, a wasteful measure, spilling. A sliver of sunlight parts the darkness, and in the mirror, I see with perfect clarity, after all this time, that I am him. That he is me and I will never be able to escape him.


R. E Hengsterman is a Pushcart-nominated writer, film photographer and flawed human who deconstructs the human experience through images and words. He writes under the Carolina blue sky. You can see more of his work at www. ReHengsterman.com and find him on Twitter at @rehengsterman

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Nathanael O’Reilly



Return Flight


Tired sunburned passengers

flying home from vacations


puzzle over Sudoku and crosswords

doze against strangers’ shoulders


read thrillers and airline magazines

grudgingly answer email on laptops


watch Game of Thrones on iPads

draw pictures of Harry Potter characters


pray that the big guy doesn’t recline

snack on mini pretzels


sip coffee and orange juice

retract elbows, shoulders and feet


to evade the drinks cart

and wide-hipped passengers


charging down the aisle

doze off with nodding heads


startle themselves awake with snorts

escort kids to the toilets


curse the airline for lack of legroom

and exorbitant alcohol prices


scroll through photos on phones

searching for elusive images


capturing the happiest, most exciting

and beautiful moments


editing the decent and deleting the crap

like revisionist historians




Nathanael O’Reilly is an Australian residing in Texas. His books include Preparations for Departure, Distance, Cult, Suburban Exile and Symptoms of Homesickness. His poetry has been published in journals and anthologies from nine countries, including Antipodes, Cordite, Glasgow Review of Books, Mascara, Postcolonial Text, Tincture and Verity La.

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Julie Irigaray



Drunken Roses

The curtains’ psychedelic pattern
is the only touch of sunshine
in this flat.

Beyond them, two artificial moons
radiate tumours
in the cemented garden

and the city’s carrot bricks
are prison walls
pinching the sky.

Inside, heads drooping,
hunchback roses
recover from a hangover.

This title evokes a still life
or a Baudelaire poem
but lacks his genius.




Julie Irigaray has been published in Southword, Shearsman, Mslexia, and Tears in the Fence. She won third prize in the 2017 Winchester Writers’ Festival Competition and was shortlisted for The Yeovil Prize 2017 and The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2016.

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