Michael Estabrook





At my age I shouldn’t be outside
when it’s 95 degrees,
too dangerous, stay hydrated,
stay indoors. Seems like the perfect time
to get up on the ladder shirtless
at mid-day
finish painting the gutter
and overhang. I enjoy taunting the gods
after all they’ve been taunting me
for 70 years already.
I raise a fist up
to the heavens and scream:
“Here I am you bastards come and get me!”




Michael Estabrook: Coalition of cheetahs, clutch of chickens, colony of bats, caravan of camels, cast of crabs, crash of rhinos, congregation of alligators . . . and what might be the best appellation applied to a gathering of poets? Convocation? Cluster? Chattering? Collection? Clutter? No, no, perhaps cacophony would be the most apt descriptor. Anyway, Michael Estabrook is one of the cacophony, his latest collection of poems being Bouncy House, edited by Larry Fagin (Green Zone Editions, 2016).

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Serge Neptune




First Rain

Not sure how to get
back home, are we?
The frost has stuck its nails to
the inside of the mouth and pulls.

The roundabout we were
treading upon crawled up
with poise, like a brotherly figure
serving tea, in a harmonious arc.

The catch here is feeling the magic
of the moment, the air of 3 am,
freezing under a scruffy South London street light,
about to fade or crumble any moment now.

Your face twitched and you startled
for a moment, genuflected
your wobbly figure, as you
glimpsed at the stammering void.

It was sudden and we both felt it,
this grandeur through which
the ocean’s water washed
the evening away.




Serge Neptune is a London-based poet and translator, whose work deals mainly with mental health issues in the gay community. He is working on his first pamphlet, a gay retelling of the Little Mermaid, which focuses on the struggle of homosexual men with depression.

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Terence Dooley



The 73

The steel-blue bus sailed round the wide
rain-darkened esplanade that cordoned off
the city hall, late Doric, grandiose,
and Mussolini grey.

I ran because I could and landed on
the moving platform cancelling my speed,
and climbed the spiral stair, and sat
considering the silver badge, the stoup
where holy water might have quenched my ash.

Blue filled the window now, a lighter blue,
a morning light, a quarter after nine,
I estimate, I estimated then,
when time was fluid, when there was plenty,
the conductor was busy, the ride
would be free, a penny saved was a penny
gained. I gave myself over to thought.

The bus either hurtled or crawled. It lurched,
and it was you I saw, raincoated,
hurrying, towards me and away, and always
from above. I could have dashed downstairs
and leapt into the traffic, hurdled the road
and given chase, but we had gathered speed,
I dithered, you rounded the corner, and that was
the last of you I saw.



Terence Dooley‘s translation of Eduardo Moga’s Selected Poems has just come out with Shearsman Books, and his own poems The Why of It with The Argent Press. He has edited Penelope Fitzgerald’s essays A House Of Air and her letters So I Have Thought Of You.

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Grant Tarbard





Have you ever seen a scarecrow’s babe?
On a rough hessian teat nuzzling, mewling
at the shadow of out-of-the-way crows,
Death’s hands in the sky, lunatics of dew’s
drench. Poultices in the shape of water
weep from the burdened old moon’s swollen eyes,
soothe the babes ruptured gingham shoulder blades.
Everybody is bloodless in this house,
mother is a perfect silent trophy,
father quietly haunts the barley field
illuminated in the vestige of
autumn’s Sacred Heart, a crown of hedgerow
thistles adorn father’s aged stingy brim.
He clocks in, bound to a pagan oak cross.



Grant Tarbard is an editorial assistant for Three Drops From A Cauldron, a reviewer & the author of Loneliness is the Machine that Drives this World (Platypus Press). His new collection Rosary of Ghosts (Indigo Dreams) is out now.


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Carl Griffin



Sea Change

The sea hoards broken drink dispensers
and bones sinking in hot dog rolls.
It’s been stained with red sauce. I heave
my burger cart over sand dunes, shatter
plastic spades and mollusc shells. All I believe
could rise from the water, to brown in
the sun, and won’t stop the drowning.
The cart would be metaphorical

but you can hear it clanking, gasping
under unexpected weight, gearing up
to break apart like quicksand or a heart,
its wheels squeaking, hidden in snakes
of bladderwrack, smoke still lisping
from the grill, the fizzing as two cups
spill on a bump. This heavy cart
is my tinnitus until the sea talks

over everything. Every beach memory blurs
into wooziness. And waves. I imagine
a stranger watching from afar,
catching sight of a man pushing
a burger cart over an unspoiled
tidal flat, not seeing depressions and grooves
I have to negotiate, the pooled
trenches and bumps. Whoever moves

fast hasn’t lived long enough
to have enough strength to push
this cart. The cart would be
metaphorical but my aching arms
strain under the tension, heaviness,
my skin burning. This mini meat farm
all day has smelled alien to me.
I should have taken up cleverness.

The high street misled me, washed
with paths which were solid and flat
so I couldn’t feel the exertion.
The railings, at least, forced me to think
before blundering into a splat.
The wheels squelch and sink
until I have to heave my burden
a few inches above a wave’s swash.

My trousers are drenched, shoes ruined,
sweat and spit falling off my skin
like the raw burgers and sauce bottles
falling off the cart. It all splashes. And floats.
Either my weak, tearful body buckles
or I choose to drop the cart. Thinned
in a heartbeat. A tiny bit of sea drinking
what controlled me. I turn back. Without the padded coat.




Carl Griffin is from Swansea and has had poems published in Magma, Poetry Wales and Cheval. He reviewed poetry collections and for Wales Arts Review. He was long-listed for the Cinnamon Pamphlet Poetry Prize and the Melita Hume Prize.

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Clive Donovan



White Blues

The icebergs float in stately queues
Cracked off from a continent fringed by blue.

Come close, the boatman says,
You can tap them, make them speak.

We drift by nearer, scraping moiré ice
And I strike the giant block and it trembles with song

Deep and groaning with great hollow voice,
Recollecting aeons of winter and snow,

Its flakes compact and densely crushed;
Frozen and firm, this antique slab.

Tight bound, for now, in bright orange mesh,
Throbbing engines launch its brisk northern dash

To the harsh and thirsty melt-lands of Arabia.
Mournful sea lions flap goodbye,

Penguins slipping off like oiled fish
Scramble back to their unstable shore.



Clive Donovan devotes himself full-time to poetry and lives in the creative atmosphere of Totnes in Devon. He has had many poems published in poetry magazines including Agenda, Acumen, Salzburg Review, Ink Sweat & Tears. He has yet to publish a first collection.

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Colin Campbell Robinson


from The Doors – the ghost variations



Part 3


this is the end, my friend

jim morrison




Here are double brown church doors with iron bolts and studs. Keeping out the heathens, keeping out the just.

Realising he has no memory he abandons himself.

The doors will not open. He will not enter.

Return at night, the house lit, blinded night, his face.

This may be a good result not that there is any way of measuring difference.

Having no memory did not mean senses are not conjured. Events occur as if by magic.

The men with black ties make another appearance, mortality in the evening breeze.

Where has he come from? Why does he belong nowhere?

Home is only here, he writes as if he is at home.

Who wrote the soundtrack to your memory? The songs are all the same. This is our tragedy.

He is not the only one without memory.

On the beach the gardener is lost.

The farmer cannot hoe the sea.

In the barn the sailor hid his fear.

The fisherman drilled for gold.

Is there a season or only a turning?

They cast stones but can’t read them.

The door slams shut late.




Blue door, white wall: bad cold in March.

How many blue doors? How many white walls imagined? Imagine as being here now or imagined as if in the past, hence nostalgic.

Nostalgic blue doors and white walls discussed by those with nowhere to go.

He came from a culture of shame, not sin. ‘To lose face’ is the worst fate to befall whereas she came from a culture of guilt, ‘to be innocent’ is the ultimate crime.

Words in space as if traversing the universe, planets of meaning fixed in their orbit bouncing their dark light off each other.

The order in which they are sighted determines their reading.

Blank page: the no-thing on which words are printed.

Respect space, respect spacing. Space and time; spacing and interval or, as the Japanese say, ‘Ma’.



Grey door, burglar alarm. Disc zone.

No one’s breaking in; you’re safe behind the door.

He read the papers. Re-lived the situation, set off the alarm, the red alarm.

Forget to shave or, at least, remembered but didn’t. To shave or not to shave is not much of a question.

Look in a mirror, any mirror. Choose the first face you can think of. Divide by two, multiply by three and the answer is?

Memory in the mist: in the midst of forgetting, in the missed opportunities. Choking on swallowed water, he could be drowning.

In the dream he blacked out and tumbled. When he awoke he fumbled for his dressing gown, steadied himself and made for the door, the grey door.

A slight trembling, a feint fear in his eyes, being incapable of saying anything as opposed to having nothing to say.




The mourning Gondola plies his trade, sings songs in a faint key. Raw umber and terracotta reflected, the gondola night and day.

Some time since, sometime since a visit, a dalliance, a cruise around the waters.

He reflects on cruising, on drifting. Hand limp in water, eyes opening, closing, the odour and the tragic gondola.

Proceed as if the novel is already planned, half written even (like the bachelors grinding their coffee).

The last glass cracked, no more drinking in memories. They’ve all dissolved in one lemon, in the ice, in the water at 5.00.

– Shall we discuss today’s aggressive rejection of nuance?

– Nowadays the particular is only to be found in the nuance.

Roland and Walter sitting by the canal chatting.

A Place where nothing will take place except the place.




Is white a colour?

White door. Number 11.

Go to ‘The Three Reasons’ on Gallowgate Street.

Through this door shadows come. This door is a bridge between two worlds: one is known as ‘in the dark’; one is known as ‘in the light’

Once their performance is done they (and you know who ‘they’ are) return over the bridge, which is a door.

In the vision something is oddly erased, interrupted, incomplete.

Tomorrow, ‘The Three Reasons’, yesterday, ‘The Three Falls’, and now ‘The Three Men’, one singing about prison, one reading his news (not ‘the’, his) and the third chuckles at his own wit and erudition.

There is a fourth man but he’s quietly writing in his notebook so we won’t disturb him.

I write on blank pages, my pen does not scratch, he thinks sipping iced water.

What time has he been given? How are the runes, the dice, the book or cards? Once he was told omens hid in the shadows. This is his fate.

All our words are but the work of shadow, figures of our consuming lack, he says.

He reads so he can write. With no reading nothing would be written.

Books are ghosts, they haunt us, he says.

Reading is a discussion between the living and the dead. Endless questions answered with questions, doubts, half theories and fullness.

We speak to break our solitude; we write to prolong it, he says.




Last night she came, as a child wanting affection.

On another occasion she came as she was in pain and sore with the end hanging over.

Where have they gone those who’ve gone?

Several answers but nothing fits. And she has left us with this and this is it.

Who else sees her and what do they see?

There to the country she fled and now she’s dead.



The ghosts are (in order of appearance): Roland Barthes, Samuel Beckett, Tomas Transtromer, Walter Benjamin, Edmund Jabes and my sister Jacquie Robinson.


Colin Campbell Robinson is a writer and photographer living on the Isle of Bute off the west coast of Scotland. His piece Noir appeared in Ink Sweat and Tears and he also has had work appear in Shearsman, Molly Bloom, BlazeVox17, Empty Mirror and Indefinite Space. Blue Solitude– a self portrait in six scenarios is available from Knives Forks and Spoons Press.




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