Dominic James




To Oscar

On the river bed of night
I have laid with a pebble
pressed into a middle vertebrae,
where spades paddled my ribs,

I awake.  Last year’s dinner gong
reverberates in my ears
my nose is red, my hair seems
further receded, belly more big

throat dry, nose blocked:
I have got a cold
from the weekend’s snot-nosed kid,
Oscar, two and a half years old.

When he has had 20 times as long
he will find, unless he eschews:
cigarettes, red wine, late nights
and a drowning idleness

he’ll feel a little ropey too,
but then, I suppose, he already does,
but does not complain.  Oscar,
what did I read just yesterday?

Surely the lives of the old
are briefer than the young.



Note: Last lines from Robert Lowell’s Soft Wood.

Dominic James lives in the South and has been writing poetry for 4 years.  He attends local poetry events and finds: “listening is the hardest thing.” He has been published at home and abroad.

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Kate Garrett



Growing Like a

He spins in wide circles
to shake the surging
neurons in his head.

Before this, I’d said:
You’re growing like a weed!

He said to stop saying he’s growing
like a weed, he said
he’s not like a weed at all.
He said weeds are bad, unwanted.

And that was when
my son started spinning.

So now he spins.

I say: No sweetheart, no, it’s
because weeds grow fast. And not
all weeds are bad: nettle tea,
dandelion wine, and clover smells
sweet in late summer sunshine.

He stops, and looks at me.

I say: you couldn’t be
more wanted. You’re sweet
like clover blossoms, and make
me feel lucky like a clover
with four leaves, too.

Then he smiles.

(smiles: bright, common,
but suddenly beautiful,
like the first dandelion
heads in May)

I love you too, Mum.

My son hugs me

(hugs: rare, special,
also like four leaf clovers)

and I must reconsider
my use of simile and metaphor.



Kate Garrett grew up in Ohio, but has lived in the UK since 1999. Her poetry and flash fiction have been published online and in print. She lives in Sheffield, where she studies Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University.

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Sam Langworth




No Atticus Finch

You’re making a box out of a pen, Pandora.
I unleash all your suppressed clichés,
and twist words uncontrollably.

I am you. You am I.

What are you playing at, scatterbrain?
You’re not extraordinary. You’re another-
day-another-dollar ordinary.
Yet the notes in your wallet are wrong: standard
Post-its, complicated
by chicken scratches of the self.
External is the opposite of internal.
Where’s your insightfulness?

Dusty cogs are struggling
for a consolation.
Did I hear you right? At least
you’re a good      dad,
a bit like Atticus Finch? His
children admire him.
Granted, you both work in a court,
but he defends the righteous;
you are rightly condemned
to handle the correspondence.

And if he wrote poetry, you would
wish your hands were cut off.



Sam Langworth studies Creative Writing at Birkbeck University, where he has received invaluable teaching and guidance from Liane Strauss and Anthony Joseph. He writes most of his poems in his downstairs bathroom (he calls it his ‘office’).

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Kate Noakes


Outside The Lamb

I could say it was innocent:
a kiss after a long day, after the pub.
I could say it was the gin, but you’d know
and I’d know, it’d be a lie –

I distract myself with mourning the lost pearl,
the one that jumped from its gold post
in my ear and rolled in city dust
that night, as the man who thinks I’m beautiful
brushed the hair from my face,
and without me knowing, knocked it
into a gutter full of leaves and coffee cups,
no more fixable
than me, say, taking back that kiss.



Kate Noakes divides her time between Paris and Caversham, Berks. She is a Welsh Academician and her most recent collection is The Wall-Menders (Two Rivers Press).  This is her website.

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Dick Jones





I believe at the root
in breath as a first
principle. Breath –

the intake, the giving
out – is our signature
onto the air.

Next I believe
in the business
of seeing and hearing,

the processes of light
and sound whereby
we inhabit the cracks

and corners of the earth –
the guarded scrutiny
of strangers, the ear

cocked in a waiting room.
Incidental revelations,
accidental wisdoms.

As for mortality,
the cricket ticking
in the long grass

is timepiece enough
for me. Wound up
by the sun,

his spring uncoils
at night and
he dreams in black.

But, as a final article
of faith, I believe in
the heartbeat certainty

of two adjacent hands
on the parapet of
a bridge somewhere

touching, finger to finger,
and breath quickening
to mingle, and this

causing the sun to rise
and the moon to wax
and all the tides to run.




Dick Jones has been published in a number of magazines, print and online, including Orbis, The Interpreter’s House, Poetry Ireland Review, Qarrtsiluni, Westwords, Mipoesias, Three Candles, Other Poetry, Rattlesnake and Ouroboros Review. In 2010 he received a Pushcart nomination for his poem Sea Of Stars and his first collection, Ancient Lights, is published by Phoenicia Publishing

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Mark Niel



The Opposite of the Blues

Perhaps magnetic north has shifted
or el nino
is benevolent now.

It may be a solar flare
firing rogue positively
charged neutrinos

but optimism,
the natural prey of the English
keeps finding  toeholds.

The evidence is stacking up;
the car starts first time
and on some mornings, so do I.

I was called Sir without
sarcasm or malice,
won a raffle, the ticket bought with guilt.

I don’t know what it all means but
know enough not to question, but savour
when winds of fortune change.

I’m trying not to panic,
to give any hint this is anything
less than normal

the good table by the window
an upgrade accepted with practised courtesy
dessert on the house.

Those close start to notice
but don’t say it straight out.
Hugs are tighter

and come with sound effects.
Your picture is central
on the mantelpiece,

you are this week’s
favourite uncle,
Dad thinks about the word “proud”.

Your best friend’s wife’s kiss
after years of landing on the cheek
meets you on the lips, and lingers.




Mark Niel writes for the page and performance and is Poet Laureate for his home town, Milton Keynes. Full-time since 2012, Mark conducts workshops and poetry slams in schools and other organisations. Mark is a multiple slam champion and earlier this years made the showcase final of the New Act of the Year competition.  His first collection Somewhere South of Normal was launched in March. Website: Blog: Twitter: @MKPoetLaureate


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Geoffrey Heptonstall



In the Novel Café, Ocean Park Boulevard

We were looking at the highway to China,
And the mountains in the sky
Were threatening storms
That passed in the spring winds.
Downtown would soon be dark.

On the boardwalk came the blues
Of an ageing man whose feelings
Were ancestral pain
The ocean will not wash away.
Better to sing than to die.

These things we see by chance,
Like city lights celestial in the rain,
Or something overheard about Idaho,
And snow falls out of season.
Then there is the history of corn:

Reading how the Ancients of America
Found in the wild the saving grace
Of what became corn.
Buttered lightly, it beckons
A continent to consume.

We see Aztecs and ox-wagons,
Empires and pioneers,
Feasting on corn.
A history of the Americas
Here is served every day.



Geoffrey Heptonstall is a poetry reviewer with The London Magazine. Recent creative work includes poetry for Dead Ink, The English Chicago Review, International Literary Quarterly, London Grip, Message in a Bottle, The Passionate Transitory, The Recusant and two anthologies, Connections and Underground. There is recent fiction for Open Wide, Vintage Script and Writers’ Hub. New essays for Cerise Press and New Linear Perspectives are published this year. Geoffrey’s recent theatre writing includes a play, Providence, published in The Lampeter Review.

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