Pat Tompkins

First Practice

Welcome to Beginning Meditation. After I explain a few basic principles, we’ll start with a three-minute meditation, a sort of trial run. By the end of the course, you’ll be making a 10-minute practice part of your daily routine.

Ten minutes? Doesn’t sound like much. I really need to relax. How can 10 minutes make a difference? If it sounds too good to be true. . . . At least I can say I tried.

Let’s begin. You’re trying to calm your monkey mind. Just close your eyes and sit comfortably. Focus on your breath. I’ll let you know when three minutes are up.

Three minutes is a pop song. This will be a cinch. Oh, right. We’ve started. Empty my mind. . . .Wait till Jan hears about this. . . . OK, my breath: in, out, in, out. What did the guy next to me eat? Garlic city. . . . Whew. I’m going to sneeze. No. In, out. Don’t forget to . . . let it go. Let it be. Now there was a song—more than three minutes, though. There will be an answer, let it. . . . Why is this so hard? In, out, my mind is blank. Blink. . . . Maybe there’s a book that would help. Ask the teacher. . . . In, out. In, out. In, out . . . three, I did three seconds. Don’t think. Just be. In, out. No wonder it’s called monkey mind. Let it GO. . . . Isn’t three minutes up yet? In, out. How can anyone do this for 10 whole minutes?

one fragrant, one carved
blossoms in the buddha’s hands
worn by the wind





Pat Tompkins is an editor in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her poems have appeared in The A3 Review, Confingo, A Hundred Gourds, and other publications.

NB: This haibun was first published in Thema, 2014

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Rupert Loydell






Non-specific wording to agree

Please read and accept
as much as possible

You should not acknowledge
contaminated dredge material
transloading specifications

Are not authorized to go
outside the boundary

Do not be unresponsive

Be prepared to view




Transform your home
the long way round

A combination
of instruction
and aggravation

I was born tomorrow
wire-brushed and distressed
clean and nice looking

I can help you discover
and save creative ideas

Make the dirt stick

Contact the human switchboard




See what we did there?
I’m surprised you want advice

Find a salt-grain of solace
get the latest in your inbox

Experience one sunny day

Failure is evidenced in memory
surface tension drastically reduced

What a good Mum you are





Rupert Loydell is Senior Lecturer in English with Creative Writing at Falmouth University, the editor of Stride and With magazines, and a contributing editor to international times. He is the author of many collections of poetry, including The Return of the Man Who Has Everything, Wildlife and Ballads of the Alone, all published by Shearsman Books.

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Matt Duggan


The Crow

When I feel that I’m the Crow
living outside that circle
gliding far from the heads in chatter
that only resemble the pattern of Mandir Temple
in whitened marble;
An outsider

The night that stalks its seekers
a dark star- an angel from another world.
When I feel the Crow has left my side
white feathers grow back into skin
am I not that white star ? invisible in daylight
at night a fading stream just that echo of a falling pin.



Matt Duggan‘s poems have appeared in The Seventh Quarry, Section 8, The Dawntreader, Roundyhouse, Apogee Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, Dwang 2, The Journal, Illumen, Yellow Chair Review, Jawline Review, Carillon, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Vagabonds, Lunar Poetry Magazine, The Screech Owl, Message in a Bottle, OF/With, IANASP, The Stare’s Nest, The Cobalt Review, Sarasvati, Expound, Ex-Fic, Trysts of Fate. He had his first collection of poems published last year ‘Making Adjustments For Life Expectancy. Matt also created and hosts a spoken word evening at Hydra Bookshop in Bristol UK called Spoken Indulgence, and is the editor of a brand new poetry magazine The Angry Manifesto.  Matt was shortlisted for the 2015 erbacce poetry prize.

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Simon Williams




From Pewsey to Didcot by Mouse-Hearse

Get yourself a free-rolling hearse;
a Daimler or a big Ford. You won’t require speed,
a good walking pace will do.
You’ll need a bedroll and a sleeping bag for night,
something to insulate against the metal of the runners,
but space won’t be a problem, you can lie out full length.

Breed your mice from the best stock;
weak, white lab specimens aren’t born to dray work.
You’ll save the cost of peaked caps for their pink eyes.
Give them motivation through inspirational talks,
remember chocolate is more attractive than cheese.
Allow five hours to harness them each morning.

It is your job to apply the brakes quickly,
should a cat or other predator break cover
and scatter your team. Many previous expeditions
have been cut short by losing stock
to the wheels of vehicles or early sledges.
Mice do not respond to whip-cracks.

At the end of each day, attend to the needs
of your mice before your own. Feed and water them.
Make sure they have plenty of fluff for nesting.
The route is mainly flat; there are no major hills
(don’t contemplate the Hexham expedition).
Give your mice recuperation time. Avoid Newbury.




 Simon Williams has five published collections, the latest being A Place Where Odd Animals Stand (Oversteps Books, 2012) and He|She (Itinerant Press, 2013). He was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet ( He makes a living as a journalist.

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Joan Byrne




Dancing with a Bonzo

Will you do me the honour? says a man with long hair,
mottled amber and silver, pink-rimmed glasses round
as free-range eggcups, wispy beard like a question mark
on a face pale as oats, and what’s this he’s wearing?

A Chinese dressing gown. Yellowy, satiny, swirls of embroidery
sweep my arm as he propels me into the dance.
Who is he, a dragon breathing fire at his back?
Why! It’s Vivian Stanshall, the original Urban Spaceman.

Now, Vivian, I’ve had time to reflect and wish to say, if ever
we meet among the stars, I’ll hold you, you old Dog,
and whisper Doo Dah, the honour was mine for you were more
fabulous than a stack of Ming dynasty pots, finely cracked.




Published by the small press and webzines, nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Joan Byrne has read her work at the Conway Hall, pubs and literary festivals. She performs with the Rye Poets, a trio of poets of which she is one.   Website:  Twitter:@stjoanofpeckham

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Stephanie Farnsworth




Partners in Sadness

I cut our white sheets into rabbits.
Your mother was terrified.
You laughed. Saw only the hopeful and misplaced talent.

I tried to make breakfast in bed
but you started kissing me and I forgot.
You put it out. Didn’t say what could have been.

This was everything and enough for you
and I kept chasing dust.
That peace…I couldn’t accept.

When you cried, I thought that hurt was mine.
Then you smiled and I was once more a child.
In your boredom, I grabbed my uke and made (bad) music,

a whole minute you stared, whispered “I only need you here”.
Had to stop chasing. Took the time to be still.
In my doubts, you called the pixies out.

Pulled on each of their little hairs so they popped,
ended bald and ugly like a potato.
They could but glare, we could but giggle.

You were with me but so was Depression.
We slogged at it day by day.
My regular regeneration.

Stephanie Farnsworth is a queer poet, activist and charity worker based in the North East of England. Her focus on identities, particularly of bisexuality and working class backgrounds, have directed most of her poetic works.

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Colin Crewdson




Damascus:  Narrow gauge

The Ottoman train
Swiss made (1905)
on its narrow mountain gauge

drifts away
from the main Hejaz line, smoking,
laying smoke wreaths for the city.

We twist through the suburbs,
stop for rubbish dumped
on the tracks, stop for busy roads,

then climb cursing, rattling, whistling, huffing,
an onomatopoeic fussing effort.
Freezing the passengers,

wind funnels and pokes through holes
in the wooden floor and broken windows.
Stones fly in the apricot orchards:

children pelt the intruder
as its doppling self
shifts away from its past.




Colin  Crewdson lives in the Westcountry and works as an osteopath. He has travelled widely in the Middle East, and used to love Syria before it fell into the Inferno. He’s had poems published in The Journal and The Open Mouse.

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