Anthony Wilson



The Future

My children think they know you
as they prepare statements

to gain entry into the next
of what you have in store.

They return each night
with requests for homework and parties

which bulge in their bags indistinguishably.
Perhaps you look on them kindly

as an uncle they see once a year
slipping them money through his goodbyes.

You place an arm round their shoulders
watching them pay for goods they cannot afford.

You speak to them with kindness,
sending them messages of hope

which pass your lips in silence
even though you are smiling.



Anthony Wilson is editor of Lifesaving Poems (Bloodaxe, 2015), based on his blog of the same name. His other books include Riddance (Worple Press, 2012) and a memoir of cancer, Love for Now (Impress Books, 2012). He blogs at Twitter: @awilsonpoet

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john sweet




…and the heart a broken bell

says she’s tired of being dead and
what the hell am i supposed to do?
can’t have power without money
can’t have god without the devil

late august sunlight after
four days of rain and i kiss her
feet when she asks
i kiss her breasts

lick the tears from her cheeks and
wait for the moment to pass and
what we are is finished
but not quite yet

what the space between us sounds
like is an unspoken apology
no one wants to talk about the
future when it never amounts to
anything more than children
sleeping in a house on fire






john sweet, b. 1968, a believer in sunlight and surrealism.  opposed to plutocracies posing as democracies and most social media.  most recent collection is The Century of Dreading Monsters (Lummox Press).

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Robert Harper




Through a Lens

They turned and looked at me as I stood
half in the doorway, half in the hall, unaware
this had been brewing long before the leaves
of trust were bagged up in the coal shed. All eyes
speaking louder than a bloody lip, screams
lashing out across the room. In silence
we just stood; I looked at him, he at her,
each one in turn more disbelieving of
the scene. Broken with Go back upstairs,
my gaze fell to the floor. Those words again
from him this time, as anger pushed hard
through my face and fifteen years collapsed
with each retraced step. I wondered how to fix
the future, which seemed shattered now; worse
than her glasses on the floor.






Robert Harper is the founding editor of Bare Fiction Magazine. Recent work has featured in The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Acumen, The Lonely Crowd and various anthologies. He was Highly Commended in the Poetry Book Society Student Poetry Competition 2014.

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Marion Oxley




A Taxidermist Regenerates Blackburn

The heart had gone out of it.
They’d wanted a Poundland
or a Gregg’s; said they needed it.
She got out the rat purse,
unzipped the fur, counted the coins.

She knew where to spend a pound
to buy a frozen takeaway mouse,
better than cruising the estate
looking for rotting bodies,
so pretty in the gutter.

Her Mum said she’d kept worms in a jar,
dug up friend’s pets. Hadn’t learnt to speak
with a plum in her mouth; not round here.

Instead, she curled her “R’s”
around Blackburn, and the slugs
slurred in her mouth, popped out clean,
never leaving a nasty taste.

Not for her the fake plastic tan of Ken,
the hard body of Barbie,
the stiff limbs and swivelling heads.

Inside her Grandma’s house
she did it herself. Found flesh
a gasp of breath. Filled the space
with pulp and imagination.

Art sprawled naked on the sofa
as style crossed her threshold.
She showed it how to spread-eagle rats.
Flatten bodies, face down.

Hold a knife, slice from head to tail
between fingers and thumb, rip and tear,
turn fur and innards inside out.
Sever connections, suture up the past.

A fortune telling squirrel dressed in bling
peers into a crystal ball; the murky waters
of the Leeds Liverpool canal slowly part.

Jake the ten foot Burmese python
squeezed into a freezer;
lies coiled like a giant black pudding
waiting for the thaw.




Marion Oxley started writing poetry four years ago and was long listed last year in the Plough Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in several local anthologies and more recently in the Butcher’s Dog poetry magazine. She lives on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border.

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Jane Lovell




Two Mountains

What is destined will reach you, even if it be beneath two mountains.
What is not destined will not reach you, even if it be between your two lips.
Imam Ghazali

I have moved two mountains.
There is rubble everywhere, pissed off
goats, dust in the air like a bomb’s
gone off in a hoover bag

and I am standing here, with destiny
like an old sock, held in both hands,
held out so it might catch a little
early sun

and all that shows up are some bobbles
where I have worn this old life thin
trying so hard to be somewhere
or someone else.




Jane Lovell has had work published in a variety of journals including Mslexia, Poetry Wales, Envoi and New Welsh Review and is a regular contributor to Agenda and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Her work can also be read in forthcoming anthologies Mill (Templar Poetry) and The Lies We Tell Ourselves (Liquorice Fish Books). She has recently won the Flambard Prize.

Note:  An earlier version of this poem appeared in The North

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Janet Hatherley



Ghazal:  Trace


Nothing’s better than our laughter, on earth,
daughter, Mum, me, in stitches, dafter, on earth.

Make every second count, the years stride on
as time’s a serial grafter, on earth.

Night falls quickly, with the fluttering bats
and nothing could be softer, on earth.

A mulberry squashes, hard to pick, it drops,
leaves a blood red stain thereafter, on earth.

If this is how our floating world is made
then who’s presiding, the drafter, on earth?

Could there be heaven later, when we’re gone,
or just us, raising rafters, on earth?

Nothing could be sweeter in night air
than jasmine’s trace hereafter, on earth.

And, an aside you almost hear, Janet,
is it memory lingering after, on earth?


Janet Hatherley is a London teacher who has recently come back to poetry.  She has published in The Lake, The Copperfield Review, has work forthcoming in Obsessed With Pipework and has won third prize in the 2015 Barnet Poetry Competition.

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