Mark Connors




Charity shop crawl

I start in Scope, find my first Kiss T-shirt from the Lick it Up tour, the old black now charcoal grey, a seven inch tongue lost to too much Persil. In Shelter, I find my leather jacket, purchased from an alternative clothing shop that used to be down a side street near Leeds Market. I knew It was mine. It still had the AC/DC guitar on the left lapel. I bought the badge in The Merrion Centre, circa 1984. In Mind, looking for something to read via the magic of serendipity, I find my old copy of The Whitsun Weddings, a storm of little Faber fs in a green frame that framed a picture of a train which journeyed through the opening poem, Here. In Oxfam, I find The black pixie boots I bought before my band’s first gig at The Astoria, when I was dwarfed by an 8 foot image of myself on the video screen behind me. I nearly bought them back but it’s been 30 years and I could never pull them off, or on. In The Sally Anne, I am forced to take a seat to calm my breathing when I find my mum’s brass Buddha with the outstretched arms we used to rest spliffs on so we always had the next one ready. It had graced our cluttered mantelpiece. I boxed it up back in 2008 with its assorted friends and took it to St Martin’s House. I buy the Buddha back.



Mark Connors is a poet and novelist from Leeds, UK. His debut poetry pamphlet, Life is a Long Song was published by OWF Press in 2015.  His first collection, Nothing is Meant to be Broken was published by Stairwell Books in 2017. His second collection, Optics, was published by YAFFLE in 2019. For further information, visit

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Holly Day




Butterfly Cage

when I was pregnant, all of my dreams
were about snakes. as much as I tried
to dream only about baby kittens, baby puppies
human babies, my nights would be filled
with twisting pythons gathered in knots
inside me, their slick skin undulating
in the dark, pushing and bumping as if
trying to find a way out.

friends without children would ask me
what it was like to be pregnant and I’d
have to lie. I was so worried that
imagining the baby inside me was a coiled serpent
in my stomach
meant that I was already a bad mother
meant something was wrong with my baby.

“It’s like being a butterfly house, ” I’d say instead.
“I’m all full of fluttering butterflies.” I’d put his or her hand
on my straining stomach as I spoke, whispering
“Can you feel them move? Can you feel it?

Isn’t it wonderful?”



Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review. Her newest poetry collections are Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), and The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press).

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Gareth Writer-Davies






missing I am    those words


in shops and passing words


that are almost    not language

a flex

of the muscle      of the palate


a ruler on the tongue

I miss

sullen vowels sudden    consonants



I hung upon a hook

like a coat too heavy for the season


whilst I chose something lighter

that almost



& used my teeth for speaking

I could not tell

how I was feeling




have I  not saying


the ear is almost a tongue

the eye also

articulate     define



Gareth Writer-Davies is from Brecon, Wales. Shortlisted Bridport Prize (2014 and 2017) Commended Prole Laureate Competition (2015) Prole Laureate for 2017. Commended Welsh Poetry Competition (2015) Highly Commended in 2017 . Pamphlets Bodies (2015)  Cry Baby (2017)  Indigo Dreams. Collection The Lover’s Pinch ( 2018) and pamphlet The End (2019) Arenig Press

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Mary Ford Neal





Jane shapes the town to herself. Of the spire, the pond,
the iron bridge and the bandstand,
she is undoubted queen.

She cooks and eats, she feeds and clothes the world,
folding bodies and souls into comfortable communion.
She is a ladle, stirring.

She brings back treasures from sun-hardened places,
gives them up to the damp fingers of grass-stained children.
She is a shell haircomb.

She plays cards, quickly. She smells of cocoa powder or of lilac
and vaporises priests with a raised eyebrow.
She is a raised eyebrow.

She hardly writes at all, but when she does
the lines she makes go through to the pages underneath.

She fixes herself to the spot; she pitches tents for the lost. Are you lost?
She is a compass, pointing.

And then she moves away.

She moves away in all her beauty, in all her how-dare-yous.
She moves away in all her certainty, her life its own eloquence.
She moves away in all the crimson of our still-warm love for her.



Mary Ford Neal lives in the West of Scotland and is an academic based at the University of Strathclyde. Main themes in her poetry include the physicality of emotion, sacredness (in all its forms), and the intersubjectivity of human life.

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Tim Dwyer




Social Distancing  
March 2020

A lone kayaker skims through
smooth waters of Belfast Lough.
Yellow legged gulls
circle his blue craft,
their cries echo along the strand.

I want to believe these streams
of late morning sun
will purify the sea breeze.

Cupped in my palm,
I jingle green sea glass,

ready to cast the dice.



Tim Dwyer’s chapbook is Smithy Of Our Longings. His poems have appeared in Cyphers, Orbis, Poetry Ireland Review, Southword and The Stinging Fly among other journals. He retired as a psychologist from a women’s maximum-security prison in New York and now lives in County Down.



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Oscar Stirling Payne





You are a Rottweiler
and the hand
holding you back
straining your voice
and collared throat,
wanting to rush
into the long
grass of desire.
You are aware
of ticks, the
inevitable choice: do
you love yourself
enough to pay
the vet’s bill?
Or will you
let yourself sleep,
(so gently)
after getting what
you wanted, after
feeling the wet
freedom of running
through want, sacrificing
yourself to the
cycle of dogs?



Oscar Stirling Payne is a writer. You can find him in Hertfordshire, where he sometimes works on a Lavender Farm, and occasionally performs his poetry live. He graduated Lancaster University’s Creative Writing MA program, and has been published in Flash Journal

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Richie McCaffery




Going without

It’s only when I heave myself
out of the bath
that I begin to feel wet.

It’s only when you come
out of the biblical rain
I see you’re crying.

It’s being apart from you
makes me see all the time
I thought I was depressed
I was actually happy.



Richie McCaffery lives in Alnwick, Northumberland. He’s the author of two poetry pamphlets, including Spinning Plates from HappenStance Press as well as two book-length collections from Nine Arches Press, Cairn and Passport. In 2020 he’s to publish a pamphlet with Mariscat Press as well as an edited collection of academic essays on the Scottish poet Sydney Goodsir Smith (Brill / Rodopi).

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