Richard O’Brien




Pont Désert

This is municipal conscious uncoupling.
A man will arrive in a hi-vis coat
and load up a trolley with old love-tokens,
sawn from their moorings, a fence full of trash.
A crane will gloat over the heartless river.
Oh, Seine-strollers, how could you entrust
the bonds of your youth to this transient metal?
Is nothing safe from the trundling cart,
from the skip which yawns its attachment to no one,
the civic machine, as it chews and discards?

This is the infrastructure buckling
under the weight of projected hope:
forty-five tonnes of fixed dreams have broken
a railing. It’s failing. It threatens to crash.
The locks made in China to last forever
have keys which are lost; drowned in blankets of rust.
Could we try again now? With no pressure to put all
in one place, to cling, though we might come apart?
The Mairie declares the bridge safe to re-open.
The crowds drift over the Pont des Arts.

Richard O’Brien’s most recent pamphlet is A Bloody Mess. He was a winner of the inaugural London Book Fair Poetry Prize (Sonnet category) and is writing a practice-led PhD on the development of verse drama. His verse play, Free for All, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in August this year.  Twitter: @notrockyhorror

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JD DeHart




He lived a well-meaning
secondhand life,
pants and shirt
and soul a hand-me-down,
ideas and thoughts
the spitting image
of someone else’s until
that day when old
wares are thrown away,
the growing becomes
hard, and lips part to say
something entirely new
borrowed from someone.



JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  His blog is and his chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available from RedDashboard.


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Clare Marsh



I helped my mother pick

ripe gooseberries

loaded with their bitter seeds.

She straightened up

rested her hand on her vast belly –

my sun was blotted out.


I saw my mother rushed to hospital

in a screaming ambulance.

Days later she came home

with a red-faced creature

whose siren-shriek

made my milk teeth curl.


I watch my mother wash

mountains of stinking nappies.

So I take the consolation doll

and, with my seaside spade,

bury it under the gooseberry bush –

a trial run for tonight.






Clare Marsh recently completed an Intermediate Poetry course at UEA/WCN. She won the Sentinel Annual Short Story competition (2013). Her poem 93442- the Numbers of War  won a WW1 competition and was shortlisted for the Wells Literary Festival (2014).

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Levi Andrew Noe




A Conspiracy of Chapstick

I think it’s for the same reasons
that artists do their best work
when they’re heart shattered, tormented
or why musicians make better music
when they haven’t been sober
for longer than they can remember.

It is these tragedies and masochisms
that invoke the muse.
She won’t just rake her sweet claws
upon the face of any desperate simpleton.

So instead of wondering where
the inspiration is I have modified
the questions: What sacrifices of body,
soul or mind have I slit the throat of lately?
What atrocities have been committed upon
my person? Am I walking the edge of the blade
of sobriety quite properly?
If I must imagine or dig too deep
for an answer I know quite objectively
that as a would be writer
I have not earned my keep.

So if tonight I am outside of your window
wooing you even though I know
full well that your husband sleeps
beside you,
or if tomorrow you see me
on the sleaziest corner of the
most syphilitic street, don’t
approach, don’t try to intervene.
I’m researching, I’m working
for the Muse’s most measly
seeds of devastation.

Because it is too well known
that it isn’t perseverance or
dedication that publishers sell.
It isn’t a five course meal
of balanced craft, invention, and syntax
that waters the mouths of the critics.
It is the raw, festering wounds of
suffering and martyrdom
that give readers a reason
to lick their lips,
and buy more chapstick.




Levi Andrew Noe was born and raised in Denver, CO. Levi won first prize in 2011 and 2013 in Spirit First’s international poetry competition. His works have appeared in Twisted Vine, River Poets Journal, Elephant Journal, and Japan Travel, among others.   He is the editor in chief and founder of the podcast Rocky Mountain Revival, Audio Art Journal, which can be found on iTunes or Stitcher.  Podcast:

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Helen May Williams




Extract from March haiku / tanka
Jorie Graham wrote ‘the past is senseless.’ Yet I strive to make sense of the present by understanding the past.  During Lent this year, we stayed in an old Provençal house in Provence Verte.  There was no internet connection.  My writing task during these five weeks was to transcribe notes of conversations I had had with my mother, Valerie June Dennis (05 March 1922 – 09 February 2014) not long before her death.  On every page, I would hesitate and stumble over a name or historical event that needed to be checked for accuracy.  Without access to online records and archives, not to mention Wikipedia, this proved an impossibility.  There were, however, compensations, as we watched with undivided attention the advent of signs of spring.  These haiku break the rules of classical haiku:  they are often personal; they don’t always contain an obvious ‘Aha!’ moment; but they are usually acutely aware of the seasons and of time passing.



02 March 2015
for Lent we eschew
internet   hot baths   Today
serious news  :  why?

. . . also gardening
watching daffodils push through:
restless like Denny

03 March 2015
common black redstart’s
translucent ochre plumage
fans open again

he flies  fans  alights
on pollarded branch  then flits –
solitary show-off –
to pelouse anglaise  to catch
huge Provençal bug

04 March 2015
lent:  no internet
no data   no news   no info
no real improvement

the word I write most —
the past slips my grasp

Thursday, 05 March 2015
ninety-three today
happy birthday to you, June!
ash heap in sand dune

her favourite tune
non, je ne regrette rien —
of course it’s not true

from the age of five
she always slipped the first stitch
at start of each row:
I chose not to copy her —
I use her needles today

my hair style’s not mine
the shape of my face has morphed:
I am my mother!

June’s spelling was always fine
much better than mine!

Rose is three months old
I knit her next year’s sweater
& watch black redstart —
his rosy-tailed prolepsis
of evening’s salmon skies

clear night sky — full moon . . .
un ciel clair —une pleine lune
cinq heures — la boulangerie
allume le rond-point

I’ve passed moon-lit night
French monologue in my head
illuming nothing
06 March 2015
Phildar aiguillles circulaires
longeur 100cm  diameter 3 ¼  −
I knit onto these —
bought these in forties Paris?
to reknit what wool?
ECITO  après la guerre
stitched an unravelled Europe

07 March 2015
chic insouciance
of provençal printemps, &
of the ginger cat,
lolling atop red-tiled wall
waiting for lone, black redstart . . .




Helen May Williams is completing an edition of memoirs by her late mother.  Her poetry has been published in a number of small press publications including Hearing Voices, Horizon, Raw Edge, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Three Drops from a Cauldron and Bluebeard’s Wives, Heaventree Press 2007.  Blog:

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Andrew Button



The Only Clue

Despite the sun’s cutting crew
finally braking through,
our ozone layer being sliced in two
like a climatic finale to end all shows.
Despite office blocks and houses,
retail parks and shopping centres,
road humps everyone hates
incinerating like yesterday’s news.
Despite the human race becoming
melted cheese on the cosmic pizza,
roving extra-terrestrials will still find
a shopping trolley in the canal.



Andrew Button lives in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire. He has had poems published in various magazines including Orbis, Canon’s Mouth, Staple, Envoi and Iota. Andrew enjoys the thrill of open mic performance when not working as a librarian in Warwick.

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And the ‘Pick of the Month’ for October 2015 is Jody Porter’s ‘Heat’

We can now announce that October’s ‘Pick of the Month’ is Heat by Jody Porter. Jody is poetry editor of The Morning Star. His work has appeared in Magma, Best British Poetry (Salt) and elsewhere. Originally from Essex, he now lives in London and runs events at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival. Jody has asked that his prize of £10 be donated to the French Red Cross.

Heat was originally posted on 10th October as part of the Ink Sweat & Tears feature on Light for National Poetry Day.





In these heat days

when the sun displays a fiery godhead

and ordains the liquefaction of Tarmac


and the deadest of nights bring a crackle of crickets

and all the bedrooms burn in airless struggle


to turn the pillow then and face its coolness

is like the ocean’s hand upon your cheek

and is the sweetest saviour after love.


 Voters’ comments included:

Succinct yet richly imagined.

It’s simplicity is refreshing

It’s beautiful

Powerful images, short and well constructed.

A maturely executed poem of sensual tension… control of language… pace… the imagery was tactile, I felt this poem on the pillow… language accessible, engaging and always en point, poised for that final cool resonance.


As always it was a close contest with a number of respondents noting how difficult it was to choose. Comments on the other shortlisted poems included:


Abigail Beene, Untitled

The wisdom. And we’re swept along by the writing.

So much truth…very refreshing 🙂 x


Natalie Burdett, The Knight

I like the narrator’s ambivalence and the snappy way the piece is written.

I like this poem’s strong appeal to the senses which makes it very immediate and realistic.


Jennifer A. McGowan, Secretary of God

I love its sparse words, its sense of mystery. I’m not even sure why, but it stays.

Simplicity, the kind that makes you stop and catch your breath. Word perfect.


Bethany W Pope, Midnight Illness

Pope’s writing is dense and rich, packed with meanings, very exciting to read.

Atmospheric, insightful and lyrical. Plus its skilfully crafted.


Tim Turnbull, A Lucky Charm

A great story, beautifully written.

Tim Turnbull! Need I say more?

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