Rebecca Sowray





The bleaching reek of sulphur remains but I have manufactured strings enough for a month or two.  With each shorter day the solar panels work a little less and voices, not vehicles, dominate the early dark outside.  In a last, desperate search of the travelling market I discovered a much washed, but intact, black dress.  It is soft and silent and deflects attention from me; this is the first time that I will be there alone.

Only what I do should be seen.

Tonight is one of the last nights that we will spend in the open before the cold. We gather while we can at the ruin of the city’s centre.  The concrete bones and stairways are all that remain of the high rise block that still dominates the sky.

I begin the climb through the building, leaving the streets still busy with people.

LED lamps brighten the steps at intervals but on the roof we save the stored light and favour candles. The leftovers of the industrial age must be relished; they will not come again in my time.  Anxiety shortens my stride.  They crowd around the place where I will sit, a circle of ten or twelve deep. I unpack my things.  My mother used to tell us that the sun’s heat went to another world as summer ended but tonight I see it in the fading moon and the emotion it reveals in peoples’ faces.

Recently polished, and restrung, my mandolin has a clear voice.  For a minute my knees shake though the notes still fly. An inverted chord, an improvisation and the sense of travel takes me.  The melody moves outwards and answers its own refrain as they travel together, reinventing and redefining the long tale of this year.

When I return, with the final phrase, they are clapping.  I can see the nearest faces smiling.  This will be the first payment for my passion.





Scarred by early success fitting cartoon feet to yoghurt pots Rebecca Sowray ran away.  She lives the ordinary dream, getting high on radio-noise before sharpening her words.
Talk nonsense to her on twitter @RedStar240 or find her fictions at

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Rupert Loydell


‘There’s a bit of a backlash these days,’
he said, ‘people moving away from the screen

and returning to paper & pen.’
Emergency procedures are in effect

that are aimed as much below the belt
as above the collar.

I work on my voice every day,
sometimes speaking or singing,

other times showing fear or feelings
through a kind of nervous energy

that results in me distracting myself
from intuitive communication.

Walking in a fog of brass instruments
I stumble toward the lighthouse,

blinking out the times and places we used to go,
avoiding anything that might be taken for love.




Rupert Loydell is Senior Lecturer in English with Creative Writing at Falmouth University, and the editor of Stride and With magazines. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Wildlife  and Ballads of the Alone both published by Shearsman Books.

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Sofia Amina

Blood Roots

One day I will be a tree

When I am buried and my body rots
I will be eaten by worms and those little bugs
that always seem to be in a hurry

When I am buried and my body rots
I am going to feed that tree over there too
with the true English roses
and the plump baby rose buds
hanging perfectly so

Watch them turn and roll in amazement
as a few spices warm their earthy veins

This British-Indian woman.
Now an English Rose.




Sofia Amina lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.  She is published in BlazeVOX 2014 and her work is also going to be included in an anthology by Red Squirrel Press. and @SofiaAmina_Poet’

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Caroline Skanne





shadow boxing
will I come out
a better person




crimson leaved …
the Japanese maple
becomes my sunset



new moon
knows the secret
of letting go




Caroline Skanne is a poet, originally from Sweden, educated in London. She lives with her family in a cottage near the river Medway in Kent. When she is not writing she enjoys photography, mudlarking, bird watching, foraging, gardening, yoga and martial arts. Her short poems have appeared online and in printed journals most recently including Moonbathing: a journal of women’s tanka and brass bell: a haiku journal. Find more at – @CarolineSkanne and

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William Stephenson





You watch his punch-bag uvula
quiver as the air he snores tries
fresh combinations: left hook, jab,

lunge.  A word search lies part filled
in his copy of Puzzler Collection;
celebrity names cartouched in ink.

His forearm hairs, erect in the cool
conditioned air, flatten as they press
the wrist of the woman beside him.

Her head nods to the carriage’s pitch
as if she’s saying Yes to the universe.
They are dreaming together in public.

The train slows.  Sleepers appear,
dividing the gravel’s blur.  Frames
in the rattling tail of a spool of film.

The PA chimes. Wigan next stop.
You look back.  Two vacant seats.
They’ve migrated, cranes to Canada.

On the platform they zoom away,
arms linked in a figure of infinity.
When you alight leave nothing behind.




William Stephenson‘s poems have appeared in Anon, Envoi, Iota, Magma, Orbis, The North and The Rialto. His pamphlets are Rain Dancers in the Data Cloud (Templar) and Source Code (Ravenglass).

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Keith Hutson




Fine for an hour, then dull, despite a summer sun.
Green tedium. But do beware,
if nudged a bit, this game is good
at slowly rolling on and on and on:

little genuflections – bows, knee-bends,
cupped hands, unfolding arms,
weave in the dying light their tapestry
of shadows and perpetuate

the minor knocks, near misses, clusterings
and calls of ‘Way too heavy, Jim!’
into a never-ending winding-down,
a loop of letting go.





Keith Hutson farms a windy hillside in Halifax, West Yorkshire and coaches boxing. His poems have appeared in several journals including Prole,Pennine Platform, Hinterland and Butcher’s Dog.

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Rick Rycroft




Fathers’ Day

Just for a moment there you had me.
Fathers’ Day, and I suddenly thought,
I’ll give you a ring, that’ll surprise you.
Well, it would have done: you’d been
dead sixteen years and were never
that keen on calls anyway. You had
me going for a second or two, though.

About the same length of time,
I remember you telling me,
as when you woke up one day,
sunlight streaming into your room,
and for an instant forgot you were
bedridden and dying, feeling instead
what a good morning it would be
for a walk on the Warren.




Rick Rycroft retired from practising dermatology in London in 2005 to spend more time with his poetry. In 2011 he moved to Frome, since when he has taken part in classes, workshops and poetry cafés there, as well as in Bradford on Avon and Bath.

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