Fiona Sinclair's 'White Christmas'

'White Christmas'
When the Christmas Eve snow silenced the traffic
that screamed through our village,
mother and I , stolen chocolate and
frowning school report forgotten,
trespassed with present opening thrill
into the middle of the highway
and thumbing our noses at the muzzled motors,
danced with Isadora Duncan abandon,
accompanied by  the wild flurry of an agitated snow globe.
Then organic as a musical, I suddenly began to trill
“I am the lord of the dance”;
the gold of mother’s How clever you are
as if I’d  spontaneously  composed
the drilled piece from my school’s repertoire.
Catching the song, she and I sung and danced
in the harmony of our own “White Christmas”

*Fiona Sinclair's Dirty Laundry is published by Koo Press.  She is a regular reviewer for IS&T.

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Some flash from Andrew McCallum Crawford

Bar, Graphite on Paper, 2011

The place smells stale, it smells of things that have been bottled up too long and are beginning to seep out. He positions himself at the bar. The tumbler is thick, squat. Whisky covers ice bricks: his optico-acoustico-olfactory pleasure is satiated. The verb 'articulate'. Words. He's not scared of them. Words are for playing with, it's not a thesis, although he is an educated man. The verb 'orchestrate'. Whisky. First the words, now the images, time to watch them flow before he messes with them. Cut and paste, rearrange, but stay shy of delete. Never delete. Conditional 3, if he hadn't done that he would have done something else. They all would. Things would have been different. Things would be different. Things where to buy valtrex online wouldn't have gone stale. Yes, they would. Same stale, different bottles. Same man sitting in a bar, alone. A different bar, but the same alone, which is the point.

*Andrew McCallum Crawford grew up in Grangemouth, an industrial town in East Central Scotland.  His work has appeared in Lines Review, The Athens News, Junk Junction, Ink Sweat and Tears, McStorytellers, Weaponizer, New Linear Perspectives, Spilling Ink Review, Drey 2 (Red Squirrel Press), Ironstone, The Legendary, the Midwest Literary Magazine and the 'The'. His first novel, Drive!, was published in 2010. His collection of short fiction, The Next Stop Is Croy and other stories, was released in October, 2011. Andrew blogs at Wee Fictions: He lives in Greece.

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David Calcutt's 'Stone Meets a Ghost'

Stone Meets a Ghost

Stone’s just standing around among the ruins
He’s waiting in the shadows to see the sun come up

A ghost comes along
It’s weeping

It has no shape no face
It looks like mist it weeps

Stone thinks
Is this just mist
But it’s weeping

Stone tries to comfort the ghost
But his arms wrap round nothing
They come back cold and damp

Stone tries speaking to the ghost
Gentle words his voice disappears
It flops soundless a wet rag on the ground

The ghost weeps its sighs
Long weeping deep sighing
Stone fills up with its eternal sadness

Stone weeps he sighs
Long weeping deep sighing

Not even the early morning birds
Not  even the starry snails
Not even the grandmother trees
Can comfort him

The ghost wraps its arms around him
The ghost speaks gentle words in his ear

Stone goes numb
He dissolves in the sunrise
The ghost laughs.

*David Calcutt is a playwright, poet and children's novelist. His latest novel The Map of Marvels is published by OUP. He works on a project making poetry with people with dementia and is currently writing a play for Midland Actors Theatre based on stories by Chekhov.  This is his website.

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Jonathan Pinnock's 'Lost for Words'

Lost for Words

It had to be said that poetry
was not his

but needs must when Eros calls
and this time the God was

He ordered online
and the words were delivered
by a man in a van
with expansive
rear cleavage.

Ticking off his clipboard,
the man enumerated:
“There’s yer inchoate,
yer iridescent,
and yer filigree,

“There’s yer longing
yer keening,
yer yearning
and yer deeper meaning.
And in this bag ’ere,

“There’s yer myriad,
many-hued, lambent
cerulean shards
(watch yer fingers there).”

He signed for the words
and the delivery man left,
then he shouted, “Wait!
How do I mix it
all together?”

But the van had gone,
its exhaust emitting a
plangent yet coruscating

*Jonathan Pinnock has written all sorts of stuff and has been published all over the place. His novel “Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens” was published by Proxima in Autumn 2011, and his short story collection “Dot(.), Dash(-)” will be published by Salt in 2012. He blogs at and tweets as @jonpinnock. Mrs Darcy has her own website at

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William Bedford reviews Andrew McMillan's 'The Moon is a Supporting Player'

Andrew McMillan, The Moon is a Supporting Player (Sand Chapbooks, Red Squirrel Press, 2011) pp.38, £4.00p.

Helen Ivory’s cover design – which I take to be a homage to Magritte – is a perfect introduction to Andrew McMillan’s new pamphlet, The Moon is a Supporting Player. The techniques of surrealism offer a way of grasping the fragmentary world the poems explore: American beat poetry and Jonsonian Masques, a hint of a South Yorkshire accent and a fleeting screenplay narrative, everything structured around a series of ideas for Radio 4 Afternoon Plays.

Having said all of that, it may seem surprising to hear Auden and Larkin lurking in the wings of McMillan’s imagination. Larkin’s ‘Friday Night in the Royal Station Hotel’ provides the title for ‘now night comes on’, though ironically the tone here is much closer to the Auden of ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Dear, though the night is gone’ with their disturbing lovers’ scenarios and questions: “I guess you’ll remember the waiter/who was beautiful” but “as for why I came?/or why I thought you’d asked me?/I blame the sea”.
The Larkin note is in the opening stanza of another poem, ‘early September’, which has something of his familiar sadness, until the final metaphor takes us to another kind of imagination altogether:

the day blows out the last
of summer’s unimportant failures
a bird drops from the sky
looking like the shadow of a tiny parachutist

This is followed in the second and longer stanza of the poem by an incident on a bus journey in which a man asks “if anyone can split a twenty” and a girl’s caustic “we’re all skint” sends “laughter rippling down the bus” to make a kind of political point Larkin wouldn’t appreciate. The two stanzas together create a tension without resolving it, without providing narrative clarity, and that is the technique throughout The Moon is a Supporting Player.

Fragments do of course add up to a vision: the whole point of collage in painting. But if there is anything structuring these poems, it is perhaps the interludes titled ‘BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play idea’, five of them but randomly numbered 1, 3, 7, 11 and 29. Each drama is self-contained, and refuses interpretation. ‘idea 3’ may illustrate the technique. A patient is talking to a psychiatrist, telling an open-ended story which leaves the reader with a series of questions: “but why was there a button missing from the man’s coat?   and where did the exhausted metaphor of the train sleep that night?   and what does the conductor smell like first thing on a morning?”

The most fascinating of these radio scenarios is ‘idea 11’, a kind of Jonsonian Masque where visual effects are repeatedly given in ‘stage’ directions, themselves a contradiction of the logic of the radio form. I must say I love the method, the elusive quality of the imagery, in this poem especially. And McMillan himself tells us what he is up to, in ‘idea 1’:

the point
        perhaps there isn’t one    except
to say that maybe miracles are possible
just not forever

For me, the finest image in the collection, typical of McMillan’s gift and setting the themes and the music singing together, comes from ‘bird sightings’: “I love you with the trailing leg of a gull heading north.” There is enough richness in that single line to keep you thinking for a long time.

The collection ends with a sequence which takes its title from Ginsberg’s Howl, ‘in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea journey on the highway across America’. In this Beat travelogue we encounter Arthur Miller, Ferlinghetti, California, Nebraska, Utah, Chicago, the El Train, Virginian song, Salt Lake station and the Mississippi River, Detroit as “a toothless piano” and New York City. We encounter an America, where:

mists roll in        light as Amish song
cars        fireflies        circle east
in the sealed jar of night

and the poet has earned the beauty of his own rather Larkinesque aphorism: “there is so much we won’t outlast”.

…reviewed by William Bedford

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Ten Haiku from Bill Cooper

second fermenting a rounded vowel bubbles up


crayon what to draw with this new shade of blue


a tree frog
flicking her tongue
solar flare


no people to disturb
their island nest
buried ordnance


tiny troughs
on the beetle’s shell
a sip of desert fog


approaching spoon that first scent of applesauce


aurora the sound of green swirls


a brown pelican
at ease on the pylon
bayside yoga


the moment we swap fear for love garden wasp


thunderhead her fire opal by candlelight

*Bill Cooper is
a professor and president emeritus at the University of Richmond.  He
has been writing haiku since 2009,  and his haiku appear in a variety of

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John Tustin's 'To Two Unnamed Editors'

To Two Unnamed Editors

My son told me he loved me and hugged me for two minutes
In my former hallway.
My daughter cried as I was leaving and begged me
To take her with me.
The heat’s on. The bed’s warm.
The rent’s paid and Little Walter just followed
Fats Domino on the radio.
Valerie may call me later tonight
And we’ll see each other twice
In two weeks’ time.
So if my poetry seems melodramatic to you
And at odds with what you usually publish,
And the font I used offends you
Don’t give it another thought.
I’m fine.

*John Tustin graduated from nowhere, edits nothing, and has no awards. is his link.

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