New haiga by John Irvine

* John Irvine
is a regular IS&T contributor who lives in New Zealand – he adds that it's getting colder there now, with winter drawing on. He also has a collection of speculative fiction under development.

Read More

Clare Phillips-Barton says there is a point to crying over spilt coffee…

The point in crying over spilt coffee

The way he slurped his scolding coffee,
through hesitant, quivering lips.
The way the handle could only accommodate one
that couldn’t quite balance the load.
The way his coffee always ended up on his chin,
                                                              and shoes.

* Clare Phillips-Barton says “In amongst running around after my two little people and work, I spend my time writing. My claim to fame is having been taught to play the spoons by Bernie Winters’s brother Mike. I am currently working on a novel.”

Read More

Caroline Gilfillan remembers Mrs Myers

Mrs Myers


Squat, with a trace of a moustache, you crinkle

currant eyes as you hand back my essay

about foolish Othello on a sticky lemon afternoon.


Stumpy, hair bristling with brains,

in a voice like burnt toast you broadcast

no-nonsense advice to the lower sixth:


Don’t work on
Saturdays for Timothy Whites

Don’t sell your youth
for nineteen and nine

You’ll never get it
back again 


Mrs Myers, I take home what you say.

Parrot it to my red-cheeked mother, who pauses

from her assault on the aluminium pots and pans, 


lifts her nose and sniffs, as if she can scent

your odour of chalk, rose talc and something

musty, like a trunk left too long in the loft.


I didn’t know you’d vanish soon after

I left the perfume counter.  Mrs Myers

you gave me a push, a nudge.  See how far


I’ve come along the uneven path,

passing the ducklings scudding the ditch

while you’re still wearing those wooden beads,


that too-long cardigan, still holding

a pile of books wedged under one withered arm. 



* Caroline Gilfillan is a fiction writer, poet, and dramatist and lives in North Norfolk.  Her poem The Painter was nominated for the
Forward Prize for the best individual poem in 2007 
and in the same year she was selected for the
Escalator scheme for fiction writers.
  She has just published 'Yes' a poetry pamphlet (Hawthorn Press).

Read More

Alan Girling says never offer your seat to an old woman…

Purple and Teal

Never offer your seat
to an old woman
until you’ve inspected
her wolf-
grey hair
for splashes of purple in front,
or streaks of teal at back,
the existence of which should
alert you to the danger
of assuming too much
about aging—
gratitude leavened
with vernal wrath—
and further suggest a life
in which fresh fire
pierces the natural,
and loss finds its seat
in the rear: then years too
will recede, and grey,
purple and teal
dance down
        aisles of

* Alan Girling
used to write fiction but these days it's mainly poetry. He suspects
his old stories were really poems in disguise. Examples of both can be
found in Blue Skies, Hobart, The
MacGuffin, Smokelong, Six Sentences, Ken*again
, and Ink Sweat & Tears among others.

Read More

Satyadaka takes a salamander for a walk

The jewelled eyes and rainbow-coloured skin’s
what caught my interest.  I watched for ages
from the corners of my eyes and crept
upon it carefully, declared no
positive intent, until it saw me.
So I took it home and taught it all I knew
of colour, softness, love…
It keeps me warm and helps me be alone.
We eat and sleep and sometimes go for walks.
A salamander on a lead is fun.
I read it poems from a red-bound book
and play the piano in a strident way.
My salamander dances in a haze
of fire, and jewels sparkle at its feet.
‘We go together you and me,’ I say. 

*Satyadaka is a Buddhist and lives in Norwich. He writes poetry, and plays saxophone in 'WSM Trio'.

Read More

Vincent Turner has a bin-bag of redundant teddy bears

A Black Bag of Redundant Teddy Bears

Each father’s day we’d hand to him
three cards and a Worlds Best Dad teddy bear.
An award we never believed.
It was mother fulfilling her role-
ever dutiful, eternally damned-
maybe hoping one day
he’d wake, untangled
from the nights boozy stupor
and with clear eye
suddenly decide to live true
the words bold typed across
The teddy’s tummy.
And rise from the bed
swallowing us with large
hungry arms
a happy, hairy, ogre of love.

We asked her once
whilst trawling the aisles
columned by novelty cards
why we had to buy a lie
she bit lemons
and gave us the face.
Telling us to be grateful.
To accept our lot.
That there were some little kiddies
with no dad at all.

This never made no sense.
We saw the fatherless kids in school
they bound the playground
like lambs.
Free to spend the day of their fathers
playing hide-and-seek
in the park
to then come home
embraced by a mother
unbound by the needs of a brutish drunk,
who only ever wanted her love
once she appeared to him in threes.

* Vincent Turner lives in South East
London, he is the father of two young boys and is a drug and alcohol
worker. Vincent has recently had his first chapbook
Envying Harry published by Erbacce
Press. Vincent's work as featured in undergroundvoices,
readthismagazine, Full of Crow, Shootsandvines
and the others he has

Read More

New concrete poetry: Jonathan Pinnock has hit rock bottom

* Jonathan Pinnock has had a fair bit of poetry published here and there, as well as ending up on a few shortlists. However for the moment he would prefer to be known as the author of the increasingly peculiar fictional serial Mrs Darcy vs The Aliens which you may find here

Read More