Ali Whitelock



the cumquats of christmas past

you hailed your taxi tuesday the eight––
eenth of february 2014 at four twenty seven p.m.
i watched it approach swerve to the kerb
its back doors fly open––if this was death i saw it
crouched behind the wheel & jaded as a night
shift driver full of red bull & no doz & cheap 7/11
coffee ten thousand cigarette butts spewing
from its ashtray’s filthy mouth
the driver bundled you in––no fanfare
no prayers no bach cantata sung in sotto voce
that might accompany you on the fresh black
tarmac of your new road ahead––& nothing
soft for you to lay your head on
just a cracked vinyl seat stale cigarette
smoke a strawberry scented christmas tree jiggling
like a tea bag from the rear view mirror. i lay my
hand on yours leaned in whispered something like
i’m sorry made sure your pyjama sleeves were clear
of the door before pressing it closed as the first
bubbles of fermenting sadness rose in me
and i forced them down like cumquats into a jar
filled with brandy in preparation for christmas
which was still ten months away & for weeks i kept
cramming till the skins of my cumquats tore
their flesh bled out & you could no longer
tell where one cumquat ended & another
& when finally christmas came i half
decked my halls whispered infrasonic compliments
of the season too low even for a passing whale hung
empty stockings from the mantle their gaping mouths
speechless by the un-kindled fire & when finally
lunch was served & those of us left were gathered over
turkey & ham i took my jar of preserved cumquats
from the dark of my pantry, made my way around
the table & heaped everyone’s plate with a side of my
compressed orange grief.



Ali Whitelock’s poems have been published in several magazines and journals. Her memoir, poking seaweed with a stick…. was published to critical acclaim and her poetry collection, and my heart crumples like a coke can will be released in 2018.

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Joanne Key



Mrs Winter Comes Home

A whisker above zero, she appears
on Slaughter Lane. Glass-winged
in the glow of fairy lights, she falls to Earth
as a dark, silk slip of a thing, drifting in,
soft as baby breath. Poor lamb.
Her body pools on the floor
outside the Christmas Factory door
where she hardens into the dark mirror
we daren’t look into. At sunrise,
I watch her come alive. Bright eyed,
she sharpens her icicles into knives, polishes her hooks.
Some folk try to chase her away.
They glove up, crack their knuckles
and salt the lane, and counting the days,
they shudder at the thought of her star-flecked
footprints on the factory path,
a sackful of feathers left on the step.
The factory steams day and night, spewing
warm light from its windows and tinsel
from its chimneys, but still she slips in
through the systems – a constant lowing that moves
through the pipework, refusing to be bled out.
Poor cow. She hasn’t got a clue who she’s dealing with.
As glitter fills the air like blossom,
her fingers tighten their grip on me. I creep down
to the cellar and open my chest for her.
Come now, blue wisp. Feel free. Fold yourself
into my cold storage, sleep
with the dead meat until it all blows over.



Joanne Key lives in Cheshire. Her work has been published online and in print and won prizes in competitions including the National Poetry Competition, Charles Causley, Prole and Bare Fiction.)

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Alexandra Citron



Let Streetview take you home for the holidays

Hitching a white arrow up Saffold Way
the trees are all too tall. It’s garbage day.
The blue door to the old house stands ajar
but should be orange and the street wider
where in summer small feet ran over searing
asphalt for a dare. The birch in the front yard’s
gone with the brown Toyota and begonia beds.
A man in shorts is heading to go in,
his chores complete. I shadow his retreat
back to the kitchen on his left. Ahead
the L-shaped room and stairs, perhaps a cat
scratching the corner of a chair. You are
outside on the balcony, let’s say,
just out of sight, calling us in from play.



Alexandra Citron was born in Washington DC and moved to the UK at 12. An editor by day, she is a Poetry School student, member of the Blue Side Poets and published in Mslexia, Visual Verse and New Boots and Pantisocracies. @AlexaCitron

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Russell Jones




Salt ‘n’ Oats

This could help you live
forever: warm the water
in a milk pan, add your oats,
stir in salt, let it rest.

Take breakfast in the woods:
listen to the birds, find a house
ridden with hair. Test the beds.
Should you be woken, run.

Don’t stop – the bears are furious,
honed on your scent, quick.
Let them follow. Set the traps.
Wait until the wood is silent.




Russell Jones is an Edinburgh-based writer and editor. He has published 4 collections of poetry and edited two poetry anthologies. He is deputy editor of Shoreline of Infinity, a sci-fi magazine.  Twitter: @RussJonesWrites

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Maureen Curran




Dairy tale

It is the first twin thefts I like least
Her calf stolen
Her milk stolen

Then the theft of her wandering
Her daylight stolen
Her grazing stolen

There is the theft of her name
Her Daisy stolen
Her Henrietta stolen

Not to mention the theft of her standing
For she was Bo Finn
She was Bo Ruadh, Bo Dhubh

Next the theft of her twenty years
Her udders swollen, lifespan stolen
Her short life slit.





Maureen Curran is from Donegal, Ireland. Her poems are published widely in journals and can be read online at Honest Ulsterman, Lake Poetry, Southword, Spontaneity, Word Bohemia. She blogs with her group at and tweets @maureenwcurran

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Noel Williams



The physics of hippogriffs

Horse-eagled lion – it flies because we wish it.
One thing I’ve never understood:
if, as science has it, possible worlds are infinite
are there more imagineable than we can imagine?

In one, hippogriffs turn airy cartwheels, buzz
the vineyard, sneak olives from their stakes
then wing it over the alternative Aegean
to squeeze into cracks inaccessible in Parnassus,
clustering warm in feathered clumps of dung.

But in another, QED, hippogriffs wear business suits
host chat shows, wage war on potato blight
and at weekends plant plastic crosses, ankhs and knives
hoping for salvation.
Count to infinity. Add one.

Somewhere there’s imaginary physics,
a world where Einstein the Hippogriff
inscribes on clouds how creatures of myth
exceed the speed of light, glimpsed only by
imaginary telescopes.





Noel Williams is co-editor of Antiphon ( and associate editor of Orbis. His poetry has appeared internationally and won several prizes. His collection Out of Breath was published by Cinnamon Press in 2014. Blog at:

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