Beth McDonough




Check you, on my doorstep, loaded

with one bam-on-the-glass headbanger wasp.
You’re offering me sharp glimpses of glint,
that dropped tumbler’s unswept-up chip.
How it grins from the grout between tiles.

There you are, crazy among the slowed-motion,
dust moted polka. Yes, comforting all
who sat out that dance. Happy to settle
on the on-the-shelf pot, gone tottery right at the rim.

But your handover confirms
a known culprit’s prints. Wax-slapped wee hands
Hitherto invisible, lost on the glass,
now pushing doors open between outside and in.

Yesterday, when you suggested that swim,
I was tempted to lurk over-long in the firth.
Yes. I accepted. Shuddered the consequences.
And of course, I’ll do it again.

For your gifts appear naughty in bright beams,
arrive jumping with dolphins.
The first of this year.
Come in, armed messenger. Come in.




Beth McDonough’s poetry appears in Causeway, Agenda and elsewhere; she reviews in DURA. Handfast (2016, with Ruth Aylett) explores family experiences of dementia and autism. A pamphlet is coming…










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Bridget Hart




His Mum Said He Liked Me

Easter holidays 1998, puberty imminent
his lips as dry as the grass we are trespassing on
my cheek is sweaty though, makes it sweet.

Mansell Junior School has a two-story building
that we are jealous of but
our rigid catholic brown-brick
had huts at least and
our field is bigger innit?

Arran Seymour is not the first
to kiss me, but
the spring sun has rambled on
there are only so many times
ten year olds can kick around
what they want to be when
they’re older, Emma and Liam are already
settled and lip locked so –

when he does it, I remember that I will remember forever
and one day write about it in a half joking manner
but really, it was a defining moment.

it is rough, quick and over before I know it.

At school on Tuesday, everyone laughs
he sends a messenger to
tell me it was all just a joke

I shoot him with my finger guns
and laugh off the residue.

I am crushed but
not disheartened, I follow
him home for weeks, make friends
with his mum. She said he liked me
so I cling onto that, for six more years.

I am convinced this is love
but it’s just the start of something
much more consuming.



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Karley Denniston





Let’s buy a house – a big one –
big enough to hold
old resentments and future fights.
Let’s get an old one,
one in the country,
the kind that has a lock on each door
and a bomb shelter in the garden
(so there’s somewhere to run
when it all blows up).
I want one with huge windows;
the kind that catch people as they pass
and ghost their bodies.
The kind that kill birds dead.
You could pick up their paper mache bodies
and throw them in the bin
like a chicken carcass,
then we would shake our heads
at how stupid they are
for letting such bloom sucker them in.




Karley Denniston was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne, but now lives in West Yorkshire where she works, studies and raises her two children. She is an occasional writer and has had work published by webzines Ink, Sweat and Tears and Snakeskin.

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Archita Mittra




letter to pluto

in a parallel life, you were a dog
in technicolor/ with meals & a kid

to play ball with/ a family to mourn
your death/ but here, you’re a change-

ling child- misplaced, scrawny, too cold
for a normal country fireplace to warm

your barren heart/ they  took you in
for a while/ when big brother neptune

took you to that star-spangled city/
your face was an ellipse, in gleeful

orbit/ once sister saturn needed a moon
for a school project & you’d have

happily volunteered/ but they threw
you out, even when it was blue-eyed

earth who was the odd one out/ now
you play with rock & stone, let darkness

grow on your prickly skin/ you were
always small enough to be squeezed

into the luggage & passed off
as contraband-



Archita Mittra is a writer, artist and creator from Calcutta, India with a love for all things gothic, vintage and darkly fantastical. You can read more of her work on or follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr at @architamittra.

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Diane Mulholland



Crossing Points: The Last Hour

It’s late, and he’s watching.
Each rise of her chest
is less tangible than a prayer.
Now and then he presses
an ear to her lips,
his own breath held close.

He spends an hour sitting
with her eggshell hand
curled into his own,
then another
with fingertips feathered
into the hair at her cheek.

Stay in the shadow by the wall
outside their pool of light.

Someone brings water
and the glass sits beside him
so brim-full and bright
and quenching
that to him it seems like a voice
shouting obscenities.

You will see it in his face
at the end,
there will be a great crack.
Follow her through.




Born in Australia, Diane Mulholland now lives in London, where she can often be found beside the Thames. Her work has appeared in journals including Under the Radar and The Tangerine, and she recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Z D Dicks




The Orchard

Down     past rough slivers of Cotswold stone wall
was the lower garden     reaching from earth
gnarled tendrils erupted     like arthritic hands     pear
and cooking apple trees     with sweet bitter fruit

The pommes were balls of mush     bigger than my grip
that would     I was told     rot my innards     at a bite     but the
pears     were rumped beauties     on thin knuckle branches
and I sunk into them     turning over with each swallow

I tossed each carcass     with its bullet pips     into log
pile     looking up     to the titan cherry tree     black limbs
beyond best jump     carrion cackled and bombed
leafless     in dark symbiosis     the birds a crow canopy

Evergreens rustled around     thick with brown and dusty
webs     owls and bats     roosting     side by side     stirring with
flexing flap and stretch of feather     at syrup blood
sprayed through air     and the clatter     of seed skulls

The crows were scalping those cherry nuts     cutting
blistered flesh with beak     I’d keep palms open
strafing to catch     a miss pulled stem     a spinning rivulet
of berries     but now     I would climb that tree     dig blunt
nails into bark     bend and rip     at the thought of hunger
roar     a shadow to sky     not wait for what falls to me


Z D Dicks is the Founder/CEO of the Gloucestershire Poetry Society and Gloucester Poetry Festival. He holds an MA in Creative and Critical Writing. His first collection, Malcontent, is available from bookstores and online.

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Gill McEvoy




Fourteen was the number of the bus
that took me to St Cloud,
the house at number fourteen in the square,
a Georgian house turned into flats –
fourteen occupants lived there.

Three students on the first floor- that was us;
three nurses on the ground;
St Cloud at fourteen in the square,
“topped and tailed” by eight young men
buzzed with come-and-go, the callings there.

Three times fourteen years have passed;
I walk and watch the falling leaves,
wish it were that October now –
in the house that hummed like a hive of bees.



Gill McEvoy: winner of the 2015 Michael Marks Award for The First Telling, Happenstance Press. Hawthornden Fellow. Two full collections from Cinnamon Press.

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