Hilary Hares



Bourbon Street

Black as the Blues, too hot
to sweat, a man steps
through a melt of light,

wears black, a hat, a caution
of brogues set up by a pair
of Sammy Davis shades.

pianos drum-roll
a dungeon note.

A voice: It’s Charlie
and the tray. Tremble
of whoops and claps.

Right palm tipped up,
he balances a tarnished salva –
left is a spray silvered tips.

Fingers stroke the tray.
One falling note, a tremolando.
Charlie takes a bow;

levee breaks, the throats
are roars, applause exploding
like a jar of nails.




Hilary Hares lives in Farnham, Surrey and spent 27 years using the power of words to raise money for charity. She has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Winchester and an MA in Poetry from Manchester Metropolitan University. She is published in a number of magazines and anthologies and is currently working on a memoir sequence entitled ‘Re-inventing the Red Queen’.

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Sofia Amina





The first result was controversial
so said the search engine, I think in a baritone voice.

Then growing tips:
1. In someone’s shadow
2. Wetness needed (I think the article was implying sweat as wetness)
but nothing about calcium C.
Conclusion: a detailed cautionary tale about self-seeding
as growing eagerly also a well-known characteristic

1820, its first birthday on this land
flowering, reaching up to 2-3 feet in height,
the stars just out of reach
its magic left in its roots.





Sofia Amina: Going back to where I started…I was first published on this IS&T and it’s been quite journey since.  Wanted to come back and re-visit – say hi, how are you?  www.sofiaamina.com


Note: This poem was first published on Poetica Botanica,  Ledbury Poetry Festival, supported by Hellens Garden Festival.

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Jean Atkin




My grandmother teaches me

Her flat swings through the mirrored door
and we are wafted with mothballs.
Her nylons hiss when she crosses her legs.

Her shoes are mauve, with little heels.
I trawl my fingers in the deeps of the rug,
stir talcum miasmas and breathe

through my mouth.
She directs from the  flounced stool
that goes with the dressing table.

“Darling, let’s get all these shoes out.”
I reach up to push aside soft ranks of clothes,
their hangers conversational above my head.

Silk slips between wool crepe skirts.
A mohair coat-dress strokes my cheek.
I trap a belt.  It’s armoured in crocodile

coiled like a snake.  It unrolls
a glittered buckle, strikes my hand.  “Oh,
I used to be so slim,” she says, “when I was young.”

Already I know when to say nothing.  Instead
I find high-heeled sandals that swing pretty
in my grip, while I measure the stab

of a heel between finger and thumb.
“Say stiletto! “ Her voice is beads skittled on a tray.
“Your Mummy should wear these, shouldn’t she?”



Jean Atkin works as a poet, and lives in Shropshire. Her first collection Not Lost Since Last Time is published by Oversteps Books. She has also published four pamphlets and a children’s novel, The Crow House. She is Poet in Residence for Wenlock Poetry Festival 2015.   www.jeanatkin.com

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Jane R Rogers




Pilates Retreat to Amazonia

In focus – the edges of things –
Like wiry mangroves, I contract to my toes
imitating branches crooked bends.
A backbreaking stance
fixed there, melded in the earth
while an aroma of poisonous fungus
whistles through my synapses.

Out of focus – a still motion of colour –
I catch a suspicion of curves.
Far-flung, my blurred heartbeat,
is an echo with no intimacy.
I reverb inside the mulch breath
of a snake, wallow underwater
in the thrum of my bodies fear.




Jane R Rogers has been writing poetry for five years and is a member of the Greenwich Poetry Workshop and  Poetry Magazine team, and has co-edited Magma. Jane lives in London but misses the West Country.

Note: after Lothar Baumgarten’s  El Dorado

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Martin Johns




On a bus to LA

Our pulse quickens, we get ever closer,
as if by a conjurer’s hand, lanes multiply.
Cars, RVs, trucks with mirror-silvered cabs
power on past. In the distance planes

are sucked through sunrays into LAX
others spat out into the fouled air.
The city is seeping into the landscape
a stain is spreading forever outwards.

Vehicles trying to leave the city
are held up by blue flashing lights,
from all directions hot steel and rubber
stop, jamming every stilted highway.

Logo to logo, urgent to leave to get to
wherever, whatever. Now whenever.
We continue on in, going towards what?

A stain is spreading forever outwards.



Martin Johns lives in Northamptonshire. His work has appeared in The Rialto and Acumen. His poem ‘Consignment’ is included in the anthology Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge.  Martin holds a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from MMU.

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Stuart Pickford




Mum’s Visit

The quilt’s growing across the floor
you say as we drive up the A1.
The scenery’s your evenings at home:
checking the phone for messages,
drawing curtains. The silence.

Then it’s your dad who ran away
to Mansfield with Aunty Mab,
whose best friend was his wallet,
who said you’d be ladding
if you joined the athletics club.

Wensleydale takes over conversation:
different coping and through-stones,
different stitches around fields.
Later, in the diary, rennet
draws the solids out of milk.

From a viewing gallery, we watch
the workers with carving knives
slice up a tank of curd
into blubbery slabs that are hauled
over to drain the whey.

My mother, you say, would keep
any milk that had gone sour,
place it in a muslin bag and hang it
from the cold tap; she made
the best cottage cheese ever.





Stuart Pickford is the recipient of an Eric Gregory award. His first collection, The Basics, was published by Redbeck Press (2002) and shortlisted for the Forward Best First Collection prize. His second collection is Swimming with Jellyfish (2016) from smith/doorstop. Stuart lives in Harrogate and teaches in a local comprehensive school.

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Maddie Godfrey




When I Return to London
It asks me how long I can hold my breath for
I tell the city, that I invented drowning
That I knew the ocean when it was only limbs / not yet a body
That could not swallow
Only spit or spray

I tell London, that I knew the ocean
Way back when
It was sinking too
Before the waves and the wildlife
I tell London, that I have seen how wonder looks before others glance its way
How a universe looks when it is still an atom
How all humans still sway like windscreen wipers
On days there is no storm

When I return to London
The city does not ask where I have been
It is an abusive lover
I will leave, then come home to
Only to count each bruise like a new bedtime story

The city asks
If I have learnt to run in my sleep
I ask it if the ocean sleeps
I do not say, I am the ocean
But I mean, I am going to make waves
I am going to crash again and again
And still thrash like nothing has happened
I am going to bubble over
While everyone watches
I am going to scream until the seagulls
Arrive to offer assistance

And I will drown in myself
Just like the ocean does each night
Before the sky resuscitates it,
I will hold my breath
Just to remember how good oxygen tastes
In desperate lungs

Because one day the ocean will say
That it knew me when I was only limbs
Not yet a body





Maddie Godfrey is an Australian-bred poet living in London. She has won poetry slams in Western Australia, London, Oxford and Cambridge. Maddie has performed at the Sydney Opera House, and at a festival held in a graveyard. www.maddiegodfrey.com

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