Change – for National Poetry Day: Deborah Sibbald, Carol Caffrey, David Ross Linklater




the number of families placed
illegally in bed and breakfast
hotels and other unsuitable
temporary accommodation
has risen
by three hundred percent since twenty

is a visible rise in the numbers
rents are unaffordable

of  multi million
housing developments and the
constructors must guarantee to
include a number of affordable homes
though rich investors don’t
want to mix
with less well off
tenants so build    seperate
entrances bicycle sheds and
bin sheds where people sleep
from closed circuit
television nineteen
thousand empty buildings
are units for
investors accumulating

three thousand and sixty nine people
are seen sleeping rough on any night
in public places under dripping bridges
beneath umbrellas or tents in
parks subways
and doorways
are you in priority
need or intentionally
out The average age
of death
of someone sleeping
rough is Forty



Deborah Sibbald lives, works and writes in London and has recently begun to submit some of her work

Note :This poem first appeared in February in the Verve Press anthology  It All Radiates Outwards





Night cloaks all living things
and earth itself holds its breath;
wildfires flicker here and there
while other patches
of the wasted land shrivel
under smoke and ash.
When day exhales at last a snapping twig,
a rustle in the windless trees, brings suspicion not relief.

We are in the debatable lands now,
no longer speak in the easy ways.
Within the borders of silence
we take a breath, take someone’s
measure before we ask:
which way did you vote, then?



Carol Caffrey is an Irish writer and actor who lives in Shropshire with her husband and two grown-up children. A former teacher and full-time mother, her work has appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, Bare Fiction magazine, the Fish Anthology, Ink Sweat & Tears, Lunch Ticket (Antioch University Review) and the Galway Review . She tours a one-woman play by Irish poet and playwright, Paula Meehan, called Music for Dogs.
Note: Post-Partum, previously published in the Write to be Counted anthology, in aid of PEN.





He died through misadventure
or so he tells me. And the street
cleaner cleans the street
and the fire engine sings
and the woman takes a valium
and the sax man plays his sax
but today you can feel he’s just
not in it and the boy holds a coffee
to his face for something warm
and the beggar calls the smoke back
before exhaling and all the world
is in need of love.



David Ross Linklater is a poet from the Highlands living in Glasgow. His pamphlet Black Box was published in February by Speculative Books. Twitter @DavidRossLinkla

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Change – for National Poetry Day: Mick Corrigan, Gerard Sarnat, Adrian Salmon



The Love Poetry of Judas Iscariot

In Galilee, fog bound and still, I saw you smile a breath before the first bird sang
and though tone-deaf to the grace notes, I suspected some brief divinity
amongst the rough clothes, rougher language and poisonous farts of our companions.

“Love”, you said, “is transformative, it makes new shapes of us all”.
“It grinds us to salt”, my terse reply.

On the road to Jerusalem we made new testaments, burned away our articles of faith,
the novelty of it all coughed in to an oven heated air like magic
the colour of dark, arterial blood,

but when I demanded absolute proof, you pointed to the wonder
of a swallows’ coil-pot nest and with a flourish of your hand declared

It brought laughter from the others though not from me
my skin too thin for that kind of fun.

On the night before the night I sold you to the wolves of respectability,
in Gethsemane where sleeping olives dreamed of rain,
I pressed my face to the loamy earth and beneath a moon too cold to touch,
I believe I heard her mournful sigh;
“nothing is new, nothing is new, I have seen it all before.”




Mick Corrigan has been published in a range of periodicals, anthologies, magazines and on-line journals His first collection, Deep Fried Unicorn was released in to the wild in 2014 by Rebel Poetry Ireland. His poem Snowbound has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize 2017/2018 by San Pedro Review/Blue Horse Press USA. He plans to do dangerous things with his hair before it’s too late.





Where Erasers and Wastebaskets And I Am Kept    

This surly poorly reimbursed gigolo works for two offices.
One desk overlooks the Pacific Ocean, the other virginal forest.
The former is pure Lucite. Uncluttered. It is all about open water.
The latter’s socked in by zealous woods plus sentimental photo fog.
On federal holidays, overlords unfetter my chains, force me to go outdoors.



Gerard Sarnat won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, has been nominated for Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards, and authored four collections: Mount Analogue selected Sarnat’s sequence, Kaddish for the Country, for pamphlet distribution on Inauguration Day 2017 as part of the Washington DC and nationwide Women’s Marches.  Harvard/Stanford educated, Gerry’s worked in jails, built/staffed clinics for the marginalized, been a CEO and Stanford Med professor.





A cloud disappears

It’s 9 in the evening
in Barcelona, a Monday,
and I’m leaning
on the stone wall
of the balcony
in my bathrobe,
and the convent bell’s
tolling the hour.
The grass is so
implausibly green
it has to be fake
but the olive tree is real
and above me
in the late evening sun
there’s a cloud that looks
like Cyprus, backlit.
The bell tolls
and I look away
and now it looks like a president
with a wispy quiff of a comb-over;
the bell tolls
and I look away again
and now it’s just
a thumb and index finger;
the bell tolls for the last time,
and now it’s altogether gone,
just the pale blue left,
and the moon
and a mayfly,
and somewhere in the distance
a passing moped,
scooting off
to wherever the party’s happening.


Adrian Salmon is an international fundraising consultant by day, classically trained singer by night, and poet whenever he should probably be doing one of the other two things. He lives in Bingley, West Yorkshire.



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Change – for National Poetry Day: Kathryn Alderman, Rachel Burns, Jo Young




a flit of feather on bone
you came uninvited

lodged under my sternum
shook ice from down
and thrummed it through my veins

I tried to turn you out
but your cold eye never slept
when I hid in dark
you crowed all night

outside the school gates
other mothers set smiles
and glances sideways
as though the tenant pecking
at my chest
was an affectation
an actor in search
of an audience

in my dreams I reset
a snapped sapling
hold it upright until
it buttresses the wall

a caw escapes my throat
when it reaches the top branches
it sounds like singing




Kathryn Alderman co-chairs Gloucestershire Writers’ Network. Publication online and in print includes: Amaryllis, Atrium, Bonnie’s Crew, Eye Flash Poetry Journal, I Am Not a Silent Poet, The Canon’s Mouth and she won Canon Poets’ ‘Sonnet or Not’ Competition (2012).






I’m eating breakfast alone
sitting outside the caravan awning
early mid-September morning
looking out across a vast green field.
I stare at the views of Manchester
which is to be your home for the next three years,
the smoke billowing chimneys and skyscrapers.
I watch the airplanes fly overhead
as your father ferries
you and your things to Halls
the car fully loaded,
your life’s belongings crammed
into crates and boxes
half of which I don’t think you need
but you were stubborn, insistent.
I take my arthritis pills and finish
my bowl of cornflakes
drink my coffee
to the sound of birds singing
and a crow startling in the hedgerow.




Rachel Burns poetry has been widely published in literary magazines and shortlisted in competitions recently HeadStuff and Primers Volume Four.





Gone Old Snow

For the first time in recorded history, Braeriach’s Garbh Choire Mor is snow-free in
two consecutive years.
Iain Cameron September 2018

I imagine you not knowing,
your wilful grit and sharp-slated finger jams,
your seasoned tactics picking paths
in negotiation with the hill’s solitude.

I see you loosening like the tight hide
of a hare being skinned as the hill relents
and channels your scramble
into that hostile sump. I imagine

the hill might know how you feel when you arrive;
for a breath-held moment giving you space
for your crouching and the laying of hands
on the everythinglost at Sphinx and Pinnacle.

I imagine the hill answering your lip-bitten frown
with a non-reply of ancient stillness,
and the plain geology of a glacier’s grave.
I imagine you sounding the entire consequence

of losing perennial snow that had shrouded
a claim of bedrock beyond light and air
through all these soaked spring-times, chiding
the loosening winter-grip. Defiant till now.

I imagine you imagining that cherished old snow,
those patches of weathered archaeology
as they slid hourly between temporal
and lasting. I imagine a new lonely

sorrow, almost wholly unseen – you, feeling
a fresh chill in this wild, warming cradle,
your legs lifted before you

the hill lowering you down.



Jo Young is from York and is a PhD student on the University of Glasgow’s Creative Writing programme. Her poetry has won prizes and been published in anthologies and magazines including Rialto and The Scores. She is currently poet-in-residence at the National Army Museum, London.

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Change – for National Poetry Day: Angela Readman, Sue Hubbard, Tristan Moss




The pelt drags me across sand like a drown animal.
I walk miles, eyes fixed on Birling Carrs, a lime light
of seaweed and coal. Birds nesting in cliff face ,
a chorus stuck in a skull. I didn’t know what was here,

buried by tides. I almost missed it – a packet of pills
at nineteen, another at thirty, yet I’m here.
Salt-slapped and grit toothed, sea glass in pocket,
a blister pack of rock pools in my hand. I kneel

to the fur of pondlife, stroke dulse- a strap
bright enough to tie me to this moment alone.
The sun steals a peek of itself laid on the ground.
I sit with it a while. Lichen observing me breathe,

water and shadow a snakeskin boot on my feet.
Snippets of rock pipits popped in my mouth,
I suck an almost song and head back.



Angela Readman is a twice-shortlisted winner of the Costa Short Story Award. Her debut story collection Don’t Try This at Home was published by And Other Stories in 2015. It won The Rubery Book Prize and was shortlisted in the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. She also writes poetry, and her collection The Book of Tides was published by Nine Arches in 2016. Her first novel Something Like Breathing will be published next year.





who is that young women over there
half-hidden behind a mask      bubbles
of saliva coating her dry lips     little hairs
sprouting from her chin thinking
she’s still the person she’s meant to be
why is she stitching her skin
into neat pleats and pouches to tuck
discretely behind her ears so no one
can see her thin mouth sutured with fear
the smell of age on her like the stinking breath
of a dog     the pelt between her crotch
going bald
who would want to touch something
so dirty    so broken    puddle their fingers
in those dried up holes    that patch of psoriasis
better turn a blind eye    tell her to take off
that ridiculous disguise     it’s a silly game anyway
e -m -b -a -r -a -s -I -n -g
pull back the curtain    wipe up the spilt pee
show some decorum    some
that’s quite enough now



Sue Hubbard is an award-winning poet, novelist and art critic. She has published 3 collections of poetry, two novels and a book of short stories. As the Poetry Society’s Public Art Poet she was responsible for London’s largest public art poem at Waterloo.  Sue Hubbard’s latest novel, Rainsongs, was published in January 2018 by Duckworth.




Part of me’s
one of those picturesque villages
that’s stayed the same
for strangers,
who have no interest
in nearby places
that had to change.



Tristan Moss lives in York with his partner and two young children. He has recently had poems published in The Poetry Shed, Antiphon, Snakeskin, Amaryllis, Lighten Up Online, Open Mouse, Picaroon Poetry and Algebra of Owls.

First published in Now Then (Sheffield arts and culture magazine)

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Change – for National Poetry Day: Jane Lovell, Deborah Harvey, Maggie Mackay



Cherry of London

And if I could put myself back
into that long, dark hall of coats,
my hands reaching up to stroke
the untouchable suede
while you laboured in the kitchen,
sloshing clothes in and out of the tub,
washing the pans, the windows, the floor,
cold and pale as soap,

if I were back there now
listening for the door, knowing how
your spine would curve into low flat notes
drawn from a cello,
your voice seep away through cracks
in overheard mornings,
knowing that your eyes would unfix
and soften that windswept crabapple

and that, one day,
your beautiful untouchable suede,
blazoned Cherry of London,
would be hanging, still perfect, in my own
junkshop house, unblemished by rain
or breath, or fingers,

if I could be that child again
and know you now,
what would I say?



Jane Lovell has been widely published in journals and anthologies. She won the Flambard Prize in 2015. Publications include One Tree by Night River Wood,  Metastatic from Against the Grain Poetry Press, and Forbidden, a limited edition portfolio from Coast to Coast to Coast.


A pint at the shifting sky

On cold October evenings
I look for the girls who sit on the wall
of the George the Sixth
bottles of cider to their lips
two cans of orange spray paint
burning a hole in the carrier bag at their feet

graffitied in fiery letters

over the underpass walls
but they’ve gone and the stars are fallen

smashed to a rubble of glass underfoot
and I’d go for a pint but the king’s lost his head
and the sign on the forecourt says
it’s now called the shifting sky



Deborah Harvey’s poems have been widely published in journals and anthologies, and broadcast on Radio 4’s Poetry Please.  Her fourth poetry collection, ‘The Shadow Factory’, will be published by Indigo Dreams in 2019. Deborah is co-director of The Leaping Word poetry consultancy.



I’m Not Changing my Name

because it is me
my baggage, foibles, self

because I love the misspellings

because I will be “ambitious”,
“pert” and “forward”.

because my life began at birth

because I am not first a wife.


Maggie Mackay is a jazz and whisky loving MA graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University. One of her poems is included in the award-winning #MeToo anthology while others have been nominated for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem and for the Pushcart Prize.Her pamphlet The Heart of the Run is published by Picaroon Poetry.

(Previously published on

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James Andrew




Hills stand sharp against sky
above a lake flat in its light.
A bird’s wings bluster up.

I sip tea at a café table,
as winter sun reminds my skin
of brightness.

I wait for words
to wake across water,
find this page.




James Andrew is by profession a teacher who has lived in different places in the Highlands and has settled in Nairn.  He has had two books of poetry published: one by Dionysia Press, called Sailing the Sands, and which won a Scottish Arts Council prize; and one by KT Publications called Birdsong and Flame.

My website is

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Abegail Morley





Yesterday I forgot you entirely ‒ well almost. I forgot
how you died at least, and today I realise I might have, in error,
sliced the roots of the rose you love, and in the low-setting sun
can almost forgive myself. But not quite.

I know you flinch like sea stopped on the beach, pooling
itself like a myth in the cold, and February’s naked air slowly realises
its been struck by you jumping from a quiet cliff,
mid-week, when everything is supposed to be ordinary.




Abegail Morley‘s recent collection is The Skin Diary (Nine Arches). Her debut was shortlisted for the Forward Prize. She was“One of the Five British Poets to Watch in 2017” (Huffington Post), edits The Poetry Shed and is co-editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press.

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