Vote for your Pick of the Month for July 2016

Almost all of the selections on our shortlist for July’s ‘Pick of the Month’ have a melancholy, contemplative tone that stands in contrast to the agitated times we live in and is perhaps a response, conscious or not, to these on our part and that of our readers.

So contemplate this month’s six finalists below (or see the ‘Vote for your July 2016 Pick of the Month’ in the Categories list to your right on the screen). These have either been chosen by Helen and Kate or received the most attention on social media.

Voting is now closed.

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.


(*Ink Sweat & Tears reserves the right to refuse certain charities if we feel they are too controversial.)

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Maeve Henry



Someone Else

The quilt still smells of you, but your bedroom walls
are pocked with blu-tack, football teams all gone.
They say you crossed the border, walked into Syria.
You will head home, I tell them. As you used to
come back from parties, drunk on girls and  spliffs.
You will come in, yawning, lifting the lids
of my saucepans, grabbing a spoon. I will say,
your father is worried.  Why are you breaking my heart?
It’s done.  It’s broken.  I was looking the wrong way,
like the guards at the airport.  They caught you on camera,
clear as the scan of my womb.  Now someone else
is being born, a boy with a gun, screaming obscenities.
And the view from your room is just the same:
that lilac bush, a blackbird, the washing line.




Maeve Henry was longlisted for the National Poetry Competition 2015. Her poems have appeared in on-line and print publications, including Mslexia, Prole, and Live Canon, and more of her poetry and prose can be found on her website,

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Words by Reuben Woolley, Image by Sonja Benskin Mesher



Reuben Woolley has been published in Tears in the Fence, The Lighthouse Literary Journal, The Interpreter’s House and Ink Sweat and Tears among others. A collection, the king is dead, 2014, Oneiros Books. A chapbook, dying notes, 2015, Erbacce Press. Runner-up: Overton Poetry Pamphlet competition and the Erbacce Prize, both in 2015. A poetry pamphlet on the refugee crisis, skins, 2016, Hesterglock Press.


Sonja Benskin Mesher:  I am a painter who writes, a writer that paints, a drawer on life, and landscape. … Watch me make things.  Am quite patient, hold my tongue, but can’t say multi-disciplinary. Easily I live here, in Wales,  Easily.  I have worked full time as a visual artist since 1999, and have spent those years exploring ways to communicate thoughts and concerns. Its not all you see on the surface, it goes deeper than that. When I work I remember  and try to make sense of it all.

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Lark Beltran



Early Walk to Buy Bread

Ficus trees line a long stone wall
crisp on morning´s new page,
in sunlight just sprung over the hill.
Doves coo from the wires above a road all mine
before the school cars´takeover.
My steps, unhurried, follow as regular
a pattern as the notes of Perez´s parrot
off to the right, whistling the Peruvian national anthem
from the same branch over the past twenty years.

Returning is slightly uphill
in traffic´s increasing whup whup whirr.
The parrot´s penultimate strophe, as I pass,
has begun to crack and strain, as if he pondered
its worthwhileness.  I carry breakfast
of crisp ciabatta rolls, bag sticking to sweaty arm,
and thereby live clichés: the daily bread,
the daily road; scuffing in dust
of sameness in the wake of songs.




Lark Beltran, originally from California, has lived in Peru for many years as an ESL teacher.  Quite a few of her poems have appeared in online and offline journals.

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A.J. Huffman



The Stars are Watching

I can feel the blind eyes of night burning
this bed.  They believe I am as empty
as the sheets that cover me.  Wrinkled and unmade,
our communal flaws are amplified
under night’s harsh light.  I glare back,
spit my wishes in spite.  I know they will not be
granted.  I only want the echo of my lips
to haunt their hollow stares till dawn.




A.J. Huffman has published twelve solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses.  Her new poetry collections, Another Blood Jet (Eldritch Press), A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing), Butchery of the Innocent (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink) and A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press) are now available from their respective publishers and  She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2400 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.  She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

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Tania Hershman



This Too Is Prayer

No, not some lover’s
glance, a newborn’s grin,
sunset, autumn leaves – but

this: green fluorescent
protein, a molecule
borrowed from the jellyfish

to turn our cells to
glowing dancing
labourers we applaud

as they go about
their daily tasks:
building inspection,

maintenance. Now they
have us to witness
their every act; not just,

of course, benign
construction. Not
just, of course, repair.

But how much better,
though, to see. Better
to no longer be in darkness


Tania Hershman is the author of a poetry chapbook, Nothing Here Is Wild, Everything Is Open (Southword, 2016) from which this poem is taken, and two story collections. She is curator of ShortStops (, and is completing a PhD in Creative Writing inspired by particle physics.

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Theophilus Kwek



Psalm 19

To the Fathers at the Paris Seminary
Jean-Marie Beurel, Priest, Church of the Good Shepherd, Singapore

On still days, when this meridian city
becomes an image of itself – masts
hung with cloud on the water, sky

turned to stone above white cornices –
I lock the church, and, skirting the yard, go
past the padang with its whinnying horses,

through orchards’ shade, across the narrow weir
where streets run out beyond the forest’s edge
and find, just a little north of here

cathedral silence, and a leaf-stained light
lifted as prayer into the trees’ transept
to join branches with the flood and flight

of tropical birds, like a jewel intact.
Wonder with me: how faith follows sight
in this small harbour, where the rich and wrecked

gather to be blessed at journey’s end,
sand’s soft language fills the buttress roots
and wears our feet like another land.

Here He is, still. God of the distance
and river’s overflow, stars’ luminescence.
Harvest’s full, fell hour. First snow.


*Psalm 19 was first published in Giving Ground (Singapore: Ethos Books, 2016)

Theophilus Kwek  is the author of three collections, They Speak Only Our Mother Tongue (2011), Circle Line (2013), and Giving Ground (2016). He won the Jane Martin Prize in 2015 and the New Poets Prize in 2016, and was president of the Oxford University Poetry Society.

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