Tom Wiggins




The Love Troll

It knew of the unknowable distance
that grew between us,

but God knows how it got there -
one day it wandered in,

pinned its tenancy
to the inside of my chest

and sat there, observing,
oblivious to nothing.

It was a keen musician,
keeping tempo with my tempo,

slept when I slept,
read when I read.

I continued as normal
amid the newness of letting go

with an awareness of it
that snuck past definition.

Once, on the way to college,
I saw its reflection

holding steady in the window
of a passing train

and I found a privilege
to the age I was present in.

It ended its stay at the next stop,
but before it was lost to the crowd,

it looked back
and we smiled to each other

knowing that the dialogue
between me and you -

however unspoken -
would continue.

And that was the last
I saw of it

without ceremony
but with rhythm in its shoes.




 Tom Wiggins  is a 28 year-old writer from Gloucester.  He is an amateur antique dealer and student studying stone masonry in Bath.  He tweets @thewigginsboy.

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Oliver Comins


End of an Afternoon

Slow drift?  Or a snow drift?
We were watching a skein of geese
crossing the salt marsh, in-bound
from The Netherlands, perhaps,
or Lincolnshire.  Their strong wings
kept them just a little beneath
the wind and enough above the reeds
to land, finally, in the willows’ lee –
a small flat space we knew well,
where, during an earlier visit,
we’d seen otter pups playing.

One moment, the afternoon to come
was long and the sky was large
with flat-land light.  The next,
we only had grey clouds darkening
the air and a smear of snow
flittering across our eyes.
The geese, too, fell silent and we
packed our chairs and glasses.
Walking home, our deep-soled boots
pressed snow and mud into mush
on a path alongside the fen.

Oliver Comins lives and works in West London.  Recent work published in Poetry Review, Scintilla and The Rialto as well as on-line in Meniscus.  Yes to Everything received a Templar Poetry Portfolio Pamphlet award and was published in Spring 2015.

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Stephen Philip Druce




The Bird Man

He talked to
himself -
softly but
and with crooked
finger he pointed
imitating a
flying bird, moving
his hands like

I was glad
to watch him
because I wanted
him to be right -
and he was,
there was something
flying up there.
He smiled – pleased
to be sane enough
to know that birds
fly too.





Stephen Philip Druce is a poet based in Shrewsbury in the UK. He is the creator of Switch Poetry: poems that switch alternatively in sentiment, from the comedic to the melancholic within a single reading. To hear the first audio performance of Switch –

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A poem and an interview with Brigid Sparks, the 2014/2015 recipient of the Ink Sweat & Tears Poetry Writing Scholarship at the University of East Anglia.



Nola 1.


Yasmine and I are sat in the yard

with its gates like painted toothpicks

I flick my broken lighter against the wind

hands shaking from three cigarettes in row

thumb stained blow-torch black,

hoping Wheelchair Guy doesn’t wheel by

Do you want to buy me a Subway?

my freebie matches got drenched in a storm

catching as I wiggle one to break it off

like twisting out a wobbly tooth


on my bedroom floor

tasting salt on my fingertips

Our compound I say

our laughter echoes through the space

our place in this city marked when she turns to me

says beggars literally can’t be choosers

her accent is like ice-cubes

mine is frosting on the tip of my tongue

sticking my words behind my teeth



Seven Questions with an Eighth

In this series Ink Sweat & Tears talks to practicing writers about their process.


1. Where do you write? (do you have an office, room, bus journey that you find yourself and your writing?)

I have a slightly strange habit of writing while I’m travelling, mainly because it’s one of the few times I get the space to just think. I’ll often start making ideas while on long journeys and then shape them into poems when I get home. When writing at home I usually write late at night in bed, again because I really like the space you get when everyone else is asleep.


2. How do you write? (into a notebook or straight onto a computer?)

I usually begin with ideas written into my notebook that I try to take everywhere or just into Notes on my phone. Then when I get home I type them up.


3. Roughly how much time do you spend each week on creative writing related activities?(writing, editing, correspondence & submissions)

I spend a lot of my time being creative, whether that is writing, drawing or work-shopping. I’m always on the look out for ideas and once I actually get into the act of shaping and writing these I usually spend a solid evening or day, usually about once a week. Once I start I’m not great at stopping though!


4. What time of day do you usually write?

As I mentioned I’m fairly nocturnal in my writing habits. I tend to stew over things all day and then my ideas always seem to crystallize just when I’m about to go to bed.


5. What does it feel like to write?

It’s a really great feeling; there’s a sort of simultaneous release of thought and a containment of that thought which, until writing, was fluctuating and expansive. I really enjoy the crafting of the poem, building a structure can have a really satisfyingly mechanical feel. I always feel a little sad when I decide that a poem is finished, almost like when you finish reading a book, like there’s so much more around the story that you’d love to hear or tell.


6. Are there any stimuli that will usually trigger you into writing?

I really love people watching and fairly often see little moments between people that trigger things in some way, some memory or thought about how people treat each other. I am also constantly inspired by what I’m reading and the culture I immerse myself in.


7. What are you working on now?

I have just finished MA dissertation, which was attempting to experiment with and deconstruct Millennials’ ways of interpreting our experiences through language and media. My MA gave me a really invaluable space to work on such an expansive project.


And as you are recipient of the Ink Sweat & Tears Poetry Writing Scholarship, we thought we’d add an eighth…

8. How has the scholarship affected your writing?

The scholarship has had a hugely positive affect on writing. It allowed me to do the MA full-time rather than part-time, which meant I could immerse myself more fully with every aspect of it. I’ve always been fairly insecure or shy about my own work and being awarded this scholarship gave me a confidence boost which led to me sharing more of my work with my peers and feeling more sure of any creative decisions I make. It also gave me a chance to meet and socialise with some really inspiring people, both other Scholarship holders and my lovely donor.



For details of the Ink Sweat & Tears Poetry Writing Scholarship established by IS&T’s Kate Birch please go here.

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Lesley Mace








Mice ate Steve’s words. Shredding his manuscript into lettered litter they nested in hard-won phrases, and copulated in the ruins.

Lauren, sick of rustling and scampering, and cruel with sleep-deprivation, set traps in the attic.

In the morning, they climbed the loft ladder together. Eight furry bodies, fattened on his self-diagnosed-genius, lay limp in snapped traps, snarling a bloody-toothed snarl. Lauren dug a hole in the garden.

As the mice and the manuscript rotted, Steve’s head filled with sentences. During the day they murmured in his ears; at night he tossed and muttered as they scrolled across the screen of his dreaming. Lauren receded; the sentences advanced.

Sick of his broken-backed sanity, and cruel with sleep-deprivation, Lauren let them win. He didn’t notice her leaving. He was trying to capture the cold-war-whispering in a notebook, stabbing words into paper with a razor sharpened pencil.





 Lesley Mace is the winner of the 2015 CWA, Margery Allingham Short Story prize. Published in Writers’ Forum, Bewildering Stories and The Boston Literary Magazine. She is an Escalator Award winner, and has received Arts Council funding for her writing.



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Terence Dooley





At the edge of the sky, a dirty pink
scratches at the permagreen –
it isn’t dawn, it isn’t sundown,
it’s late in the daylight, later
in the season of blame.

If life were a featureless plain,
the courier would come galloping
with news from the cities,
at an hour like this
frozen on the clock-face.

Would have already come,
and the tea brewed, and the leaves read,
and the greenjacket crawling,
infinitely slowly,
up the closed window.




Terence Dooley‘s poems and translations from Spanish have been published or accepted in the last year by Ambit, Agenda, Acumen, Poetry London, POEM, The London Magazine, Brittle Star, Long Poem Magazine, Envoi, Dream Catcher, and MPT.

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Mark A. Murphy



Ubiquitous Unravelling





Reader, I can’t pretend to know you,

but listen intently enough, as though I do

in the concrete jungle they call

Piccadilly Gardens:


a glass of wine later

and a pint of Hobgoblin

as the conversation meanders like exhaust

fumes through lanes of traffic,

bus routes, tram lines

and the unsuspecting mass of bodies,

between city streets,

through and towards what we already know:

hard to imagine the years of care

amounted to this, no holding hands,

no linking of arms, not a kiss,

only the well ordered yawns

of a first and last face to face encounter.






Who could’ve known

that in that parade of flesh

we found ourselves caught up in,

only the dead one would come

to bare teeth

at our lonely conversation,

our conversation about being alone?


No use to lie, no need to sharpen the blade.


Just what has been rejected here –

but the idea of our future selves as giants

traversing landscapes, moor lands

and hill tops, pleasure bound creatures

hell bent on self discovery?


So we annihilate each others dreams,

speaking of mutability

as though our own flesh were indestructible

with all the hubris of solitary bees.





Mark A. Murphy’s first full length collection, Night-watch Man & Muse was published in November 2013 from Salmon Poetry (Eire). Murphy’s poems have been published in over 100 magazines and ezines in 17 different countries world wide.





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