Órla Fay




La Complainte de l’Oignon

Every few years another layer lost
and it makes me sad, peeled in the kitchen,
to know I am losing this game of host,
trailing myself in serial friction.
It might seem like a joke but far from that
I knew a girl once whose heart was broken,
who could never get over the cold fact
that some promises shouldn’t be spoken.
Added to this how life moves suddenly on
how could she know the wisdom of onion?
In time’s passage we go back to the core,
go back to the seed, frail child of before.
So surround yourself with a brown, thick skin,
realise she who holds the knife will win.





Órla Fay is the editor of Boyne Berries Magazine. Recently her poetry has appeared in Hennessy New Irish Writing in The Irish Times, Cyphers, Poetry Ireland Review, The Bangor Literary Journal and Quarryman. She has a poem forthcoming in Impossible Archetype and a short story forthcoming in the incubator. She is working towards her first collection of poetry. She blogs at http;//orlafay.blogspot.com Twitter: @FayOrla


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Cat Campbell





The tree didn’t plan its shape.

Each shoot budded and grew
toward the light.

The flock never plots its form.
Each bird takes off and flies
from its neighbours.

The crowd couldn’t chart its course.
It raged and kicked and burnt and tore
of its own accord.




Cat Campbell lives in Cambridge, UK where she spends as much time as possible writing and dancing.  Her poems have recently been published in Magma, Under the Radar and The Lighthouse.

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Word & Image by Helen Pletts and Romit Berger





The plane tree entertains the circus of doves


Stripped of spindly epicormic shoots, the now-knuckle-tree jabs her skeletal arms over the snapped stale breaths of pale, orange shavings powdering the tree surgeon’s yellow truck. Her psoriatic plane-bones arthrite in the grey sky. Knotted; hunched naked like the great distorted central pole of a marquee. Feather me, she says. Don’t leave me open-necked up-holding this soft circus. Perched in the flaking gnarl the little skull-caps are grey with it too. They dot her fleshlessness with incredulous brows. Tremble at the amplified sirens of daysound. Blink bright as part of the canopy of constellations later on in the dark.




Words by Helen Pletts (www.helenpletts.com ) whose two collections, Bottle bank and For the chiding dove, are both published by YWO/Legend Press (supported by The Arts Council) and available on Amazon. ‘Bottle bank’ was longlisted for The Bridport Poetry Prize 2006, under Helen’s maiden name of Bannister. Working collaboratively on Word and Image with Romit Berger, illustrator, since 2012.

Image by Romit Berger who says “I am a graphic designer and artist, living in Prague for the past 
ten years. In 2008 I joined a writing group – English is not my native
 language but I graduated from an international school, so it is a part 
of my life ever since. I feel that the dual process of finding words to
 describe mind images and illustrating written words, opens a new 
exciting dimension of creativity for me.




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Jane Hertenstein




Jenna woke up and smelled the bacon and eggs her roommate was ruining on the stove top and retched.

Wow, that was a surprise!

She wadded up her waitress outfit abandoned the night before on the floor next to her bed and, not knowing what else to do, put the puke-coated uniform into the collapsible laundry hamper she’d bought at Ikea two months ago. She’d deal with it later.

Still she couldn’t get the horrible taste out of her mouth no matter how many times she brushed her teeth, or gargled, or sucked on cinnamon lozenges. It was there. The burning, pending anxiety lodged in her stomach—much like the cellophane-wrapped throat drops she couldn’t get enough of.

Then it hit her, right before sleep, one night after a long day of waiting tables and riding her bike through the snow to classes that were cancelled anyway, and meeting with her boyfriend who was now her ex-boyfriend in a dreary coffee shop where the tea tasted like soap.

She wasn’t exactly sick as much as in a state.

The next morning she awoke and threw up, dressed and undressed several times before deciding—she had to deal with this. She tossed the stinking vomit clothes out the window into a snow drift. Whilst sitting on the side of the bed with one sock on, she called Brian, getting only his voicemail.

Time ticked by and eventually she managed to shod both feet with socks and shoes and tramp outside in the snow to her classes. But not before leaving her roommate a note saying she might not have enough cash on-hand to pay that month’s rent.

In the afternoon she called her brother in Minneapolis who worked as a computer technician. He said he was busy and couldn’t talk. Scrolling through her cellphone contacts she couldn’t think of a single person she wanted to share this information with. So she tucked the device inside her coat pocket and went back out into the snow.

Later, back at the apartment, Taryn said what’s up, rent’s due, and I don’t get this note.

Jenna tore it up. Never mind.

She went into her room and powered up her laptop. There were three messages from Brian and an e-mail from her English professor informing her of her marks on a mid-term report on Thoreau and Emerson. She would have to do better next time.

Popping a cinnamon drop, she sat staring vacantly at the screen.

Last winter she and Brian had collaborated on a children’s picture book—she wrote and he illustrated. About a fiddle-playing tadpole. Of course it didn’t have arms (or legs for that matter) to play his instrument, but the climax of the story came when he evolved and morphed into a frog. It was meant to be a tale of redemption, about life turning out right. They’d crowdsourced to raise funds to print copies.

She logged into her Kickstarter account. This forthcoming project would need some serious financing.





Jane Hertenstein’s current obsession is flash. She is the author of over 80 published stories, a combination of fiction, creative non-fiction, and blurred genre both micro and macro. In addition she has published a YA novel, Beyond Paradise, and a non-fiction project, Orphan Girl: The Memoir of a Chicago Bag Lady, which garnered national reviews. She is a 2x recipient of a grant from the Illinois Arts Council. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in: Hunger Mountain, Rosebud, Word Riot, Flashquake, Fiction Fix, Frostwriting, and several themed anthologies. She can be found at http://memoirouswrite.blogspot.com/. Her latest book is Freeze Frame: How To Write Flash Memoir.

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‘The card given out at his funeral’ by Claire Cox is our Pick of the Month for February 2019


You looked, you read, you voted and the ‘beautiful and disquieting poem’ that is Claire Cox’s ‘The card given out at his funeral’ is the IS&T Pick of the Month for February.

Born in Hong Kong, Claire now lives and works in Oxfordshire. She is Associate Editor for ignitionpress, and is currently a part-time practice-based PhD student at Royal Holloway, University of London studying poetry and disaster.

She has asked that her £10 ‘prize’ be donated to the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity.


The card given out at his funeral

has no obituary. No order of service.
Just his name, curlicued and slant,
year of birth, hyphen, year of death.

Above that, an old print plate of his
reproduced landscape-wise, its surface
sectioned into eighths, each eighth quizzing

depth of cut, luminescence, blackness,
how acid bites, how resin resists.
‘Fig. A’ points to pale ripples:

a thumbprint in negative,
dabbed there momentarily –
his brief experiment in flesh.




Other voters’ comments included:

Hit me in the heart – understated, interesting use of language … her poem stayed with me the most… e.g. how we are all but ‘a short experiment in flesh’.

Beautiful, restrained and powerful

I like its economy and unexpectedness.

I love this poem’s allusiveness, its brevity, its poignance.

Oh the sadness.

A surprising, and beautifully detailed memorial to the printmaker.

Such a gentle reverie and homily of a lost much loved one. Gentle, spiritual, thoughtful and with grace

The simplicity of the form and language allows the grief to speak forth without rhetoric.

simply written yet finely crafted

A brief but recognisable representation of a life.

Beautifully written and resonant.

An extraordinary poem- superbly crafted

I liked the baldness of the opening stanza and the concreteness of details.

It tells a story, but in a stark way. Heartfelt


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Indy Clark





You see it first;
Iridescent against the house,
A song of light beneath the roof
As twilight falls.

We watch the dance,
The bioluminescent signal
A spark of hope;
I squeeze your hand.

Unlock the door,
The light fades to the edge of eyes
And inside, darkness turns to leave
A whole world open.




Indy Clark is a songwriter, poet, and academic, originally from England but now living in Australia. He teaches at the University of Queensland and his most recent book about poetry is Thomas Hardy’s Pastoral: An Unkindly May (Palgrave Macmillan)

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Sam Smith




[sub]urban sprawl: night storage for commuters

sacred monsters, knaves and fools
crowblack the night comes flapping


have walked into
something soft

(a perfumed corpse?)

mind’s graffiti
shouts ALARM!

rotating in the dark
a life coming apart
like old underwear

words / images / images of words
slip between the seams

one wolf eats another



Sam Smith is editor of The Journal magazine and publisher of Original Plus books. Author of several novels and collections of poetry, he presently lives in Blaengarw, South Wales.

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