Penelope Shuttle



On the Quayside at Portsea an Old Salt Button-holes a Passer-by

…there‘s no one style of pirate ship, pal, sloop or ship-of-the-line,
we use any vessel we can get our hands on.
It must be fast though. The pirate code forbids me to tell you more.

Years spent in jail gave me a high regard for iron.
It is a master of power, structure, suspension, brutality.
An iron shirt never needs ironing.

Nowadays I like the air better… salty up-draughts and thermals,
clouds like sky-cloaked widow-women carrying harps of hornbeam and brass,
busy with their beautiful Acts of Pardon and Acts of Grace.

My fine ship The Monkey’s Fist has a compass for all weathers,
she’s been blessed by a famous painter, she’s goose-winged and trim.
Paso a bordo, amigo.  Out of harbour we’ll hoist the jolly blood-red flag,
I’ll read aloud from the bible to comfort you as we speed the flashing brine.




Penelope Shuttle lives in Cornwall.  Her most recent publication is Will You Walk A Little Faster? (Bloodaxe Books), May 2017.

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John Grey



The House’s Role

The house stays put.
It has its reasons
referred to as people
for my purposes.
Separated from the outside
though not thought
particularly isolated –
the house considers
what the world has to offer
other than itself
but respectfully declines.
Its windows are more
than willing to open.
They appreciate the sun,
even the mossy smell of rain.
Even bodies partake
of that oozing glow
and minds have
a mellow dark liking
for that gray smear
of inclement weather.
Bright or chilling,
winter or summer,
the house can take it.
Therefore, inside holds together
no matter what.
At night, the house
willingly gives itself
up to darkness
knowing, as it does,
the number of lights
it has on offer.
Electricity knows the ropes.
Even shadows are
incorporated into the whole.
People leave the house
on occasion but return to it
in equal numbers.
It could by anywhere
else but it’s always where it is.
That kind of loyalty
doesn’t go unnoticed.




John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Cape Rock and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Poem and Spoon River Poetry Review.

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Linda Rose Parkes



The door sings its welcome

it’s the kind of door
that trickles honey in the light

and says come in
twice at least

leave your coat in the hall
the kettle’s singing

sit yourself down
here at the window

in the garden oak
a blackbird warbles

breezes play
among the cushions

next door is grey
and cracked at the hinges

too much slammed
yanked open

lost   or stolen   jobs
hopes  loves

but this door is a honeycomb
a promise

don’t keep walking by
scarred with disappointment

don’t slow your step
to rush silently on

only knock
and step in out of the ruins

only knock and the door
will swing gently wide.




Linda Rose Parkes was born in the Channel Islands and published her third collection Familiars, with Hearing Eye in 2015. She is co-editor of Wavelengths, an anthology of Channel Island Poetry, and is a painter and lyricist.

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Sue Finch




The Seventh Car Will Be His

As the raindrops collected on the glass
the old man opposite strolled down his path.
Kneeling on the chair she watched all movement.
Next door’s tatty tabby sat on the kerb
washing methodically behind his ears.
A crisp packet, encouraged by the wind
that brought the rain, turned a somersault
and she wondered if it felt its freedom.
Time had halted in their house since last night;
She didn’t want to hear her breath, admit
she existed or have to move from there.
Only when her brother came to kneel too
could she exhale the sigh that needed to
escape from the jail of her too-taut lungs
It will be alright, he said, sparing her
a glance. Are you sure? she asked not looking.
The seventh car will be his, just you see!
She knew she did not want to see the truth.
The truth was the rabbit hung in the shed,
The truth was the claret blood dropped from its nose –
congealed yet fresh on the stone floor. The truth
wasn’t quite covered by half a blanket.
Multiples of seven came and went and
the old man returned. Not noticing them
he shut his front door and stayed safe inside.
He lit the front room then darkened it again
with his smoothly drawn pleated curtains,
They both knew he was still there, just hidden.
But so too was the lifeless hanging pet.
They sat watching, waiting, not yet crying.





Sue Finch now has some poems that have been published in the real world and this makes her smile. She loves North Wales, the sea and being lost inside a film. She is currently completing her MA with MMU.

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Caroline Hardaker




The Issue of the Day

It has been discovered that what’s known of the fifth fundamental force
is the trace of the thing itself. The target has the intrinsic ability
to evolve away from its common design into something
that cannot be judged, measured, or predicted.
It’s as if it has anticipated the immediate
and acted prior to arrival. The smallest shift, moving
in simultaneous alignment with its own phantom.

Researchers have tried to evaluate its purpose for years
but remain vague, and every time they’re on the news
they look younger.





Caroline Hardaker‘s non-fiction work has been published worldwide, and her poetry has been featured or is forthcoming by The Stinging Fly, The Emma Press, Neon Magazine, and Shoreline of Infinity. Caroline is also the in-house blogger for Mud Press.

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Word and Image from Michael Bartholomew-Biggs and Howard Fritz





Take Two
After Howard Fritz

A flock of geese migrating, startled
by a minor earthquake, interrupt a couple’s
tilted tête-à-tête. Her headscarf’s pink
and contrasts with the drink she clasps –
a red Cinzano he’s just bought her.

With his sleek black head, white shirt
and dark-sleeved dinner-suit he is his own
unchanging manifesto – and resembles
all the geese which fly by swiftly
as old lies he’s told or ghosts of former lovers.

She negates him: pale uncovered arms;
black velvet breast that sports a brooch – a trophy
butterfly. But who is pinned to whom?
The geese are metaphors departing,
dollars taking wing, not spent on her.

They play the scene against its fractured backdrop,
advertising their own love affairs
as much as acting out their parts. They’re stars.
The geese are extras: feather-weight careers
can cruise above the wreckage of this script.



Michael Bartholomew-Biggs is poetry editor of the on line magazine London Grip and also helps to run the North London reading series Poetry in the Crypt.  His most recent collection is Pictures from a Postponed Exhibition (Lapwing 2014), which features artwork by David Walsh.

Howard Fritz is a London-based artist:  See here for more of Michael Bartholomew-Biggs’ responses to Howard Fritz paintings:

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