Oliver Comins



Of all the years we’ve been living here
this has been the longest and the shortest.
How often did we hear the moon drag
an ocean through itself and a riptide swallow
those several billion particles of sand?

Some days began with an offshore wind,
the plaintive somnolence of a muted cello.
If rigging moaned, tacking into haven,
water would not let us pass or travel back.




Oliver Comins lives and works in West London.  Templar Poetry is publishing his first full length collection in 2018.  Oak Fish Island includes poems written in the late 20th century as well as more recent work. Twitter: @OJComins

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Robert Nisbet



At the Football
Welsh League, Division Three

The bar was hallmarked by its desolation.
Our few selves, staccato barman and a guy
by the far wall, wrapped in what seemed
some personal cloud, over crisps and a half.

We cut down a footpath to the ground,
crossing an old and grassy railway track.
Sunshine, falling on to a squelchy pitch.
No grandstand, just a few benches dotted.

Then, soundlessly, he was beside me,
the guy from the bar. For a while I thought
he might be mute, but then our talk,
of games and players, limped to timid life.

A trauma victim? Breakdown? Loss?
The thought seemed irresistible
that here was someone finding a way back,
on a mild afternoon, beside a muddy pitch.

I was never the one in whom he would confide.
That day I was a simple milestone on his way.
I hoped it was like coming across such a stone,
along a country road, sunlit, slow, unthreatening.


Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet whose work has been published widely in Britain and the USA, with occasional forays into Canada, Ireland, India and Mauritius.

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Ann Marie Foley




Spring in Dublin

People linger in Temple Bar
take coffee and wine outside with coats still on,
crowd around pipers, singers
wanting a memory photo of this day.

Young girls chat with Gardai in short sleeves,
skateboarders skim around ´Central Bank,
many languages sound check outdoors,
cars squawk and hoot at lights.
People watch for seconds to drain to zero.

At Ha’penny Bridge the river throws back the light,
sinking sun frames dark buildings,
and blinks in windows.




Ann Marie Foley writes poetry, prose and non-fiction, lives near Portlaoise, Co Laois, Ireland and has been published in: Outburst 16&17; Words UnLaoised; The Sea; Writing.ie; Cyphers 73; Acorn 5…For more information: www.laoiswritersgroup.com/anne-marie-foley

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Steve Xerri




Self portrait : diptych


It will do, the Polaroid’s black-
&-white : but a ground of sky-like
azurite with aetatis suae XX lettered

in gold would better suit
this curly-head in starprint shirt,
his life set permanently to May,

cheek burnished smooth, grin still
bright as enamel, straight-ahead gaze
the sign of a body and mind packed

with nerves and nerve, keen to pierce
the blazing thickets of lightbeams
pouring on him from the future.


What fingers have dabbled
under the skin of this face
and loosened it like a glove

pouched at the knuckles?
Render him Holbein-style,
with scraped graphite stubble

and dewlaps crosshatched ; show
the waning of distinctiveness
as the sitter leans into age,

accruing marks and details
on the surface of the vellum, a crop
of scuffs and spatters, all his own.





Steve Xerri has been a teacher, musician, illustrator and web designer. Recently published in Acumen, Clear Poetry, Stride Magazine, Brittle Star, and The Interpreter’s House. Awarded the Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2017 prize in October.

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Joel Moktar



reverse shadows
after a photograph by Eiichi Matsumoto

charcoal scars
and tired wooden slats
both man and ladder seared to shade

where the air is steeped
in the memory of fire

hell dropped its livid star

what left at the still point of an alien war

watch the shadows darken
like sweet marinade





Joel Moktar writes poetry and short fiction. His writing has been published in various magazines and anthologies, including Popshot, Iota, Ink Sweat and Tears, Belleville Park Pages, and In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights. Joel has lived in three continents, and currently calls London home. You can read more of his writing at joelmoktar.wordpress.com

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‘In Her Bones’ a prose poem from Anne Ryland is our Pick of the Month for May 2018.

After a hard fought contest – it always is – Anne Ryland’s ‘stunning’ ‘original’ ‘vivid and unexpected’ prose poem ‘In Her Bones’ is the Ink Sweat & Tears Pick of the Month for May 2018. And it is testament to Anne’s skill that she brought the articulated skeleton that is Agnes, ‘completely at home in her two hundred and six bones’, effectively to life. We wanted to know more.

Anne has published two collections: Autumnologist (shortlisted for The Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2006) and The Unmothering Class (2011). Recent poems have appeared in Oxford Poetry, Agenda and Long Poem Magazine. Her website is http://anneryland.co.uk

Anne has asked that her £10 ‘prize’ be donated to Carers UK, a charity dedicated to making life better for carers.


In Her Bones

I discover her just off Pier Road, sitting on the bench that overlooks the river. Draped on the wooden slats, right femur resting on left, Agnes is completely at home in her two hundred and six bones. Relieved of padding and muscle, of her woman-paraphernalia (I note the handbag years have dragged her right clavicle down), her hinges and locks are exposed, her irregularities.

I lower myself onto the bench beside her. We share small hands and feet, but Agnes is now pure vertebrate; I see her spine’s ability to spring, absorb shock. Her pelvis has acquired a creamish lustre, a cradle opening to receive sunlight, but it would be impolite to place my palm in her ilium. Instead, I shift a little closer to inspect the jigsaw pieces of her skull. She carries on staring out towards the North Sea, an expression of Ah – behind her orbits. Might a bird seek refuge in her ribcage?

Agnes has no need of breath. The wind is her breath, passing through her bars, her lacunae, as if she were an instrument being tuned. Despite her loosened appearance, Agnes is incurably informative. She embodies the Greek word ‘pneuma’, meaning that which is breathed – or blown.

Agnes is reluctant to disperse or lie down. I’m unsure whether she’s a companion, or a proxy who’s been hiding in one of my recesses. For now, she settles into tide watch. I will wait. Agnes, at her most osseous, must have a voice – chalky, no … airy, like the voice of a haar.




Voters’ comments included:

‘In Her Bones’ is a poem that really evokes a sense of peace and stillness. I loved the words and rhythm of this poem and the setting it describes.

The subject matter is very descriptive, giving one the feeling of being there, sitting next to Agnes & experiencing what she sees so that is why it gets my vote.

I can just picture Agnes on the bench staring out to sea eternally. Very powerful.

Original in conception and execution – graphic, brave and unpredictable – wonderful tender tone.

It’s so original in subject matter and intriguing. I love the language of the skeleton too

A novel prose poem (excuse the pun) –

[I chose it] because this is the first prose-poem I’ve come across which manages to hold and justify its shape without losing movement and momentum, like an articulated and articulate skeleton in fact.

Very intriguing imagery and beautifully worked concept of skeleton as eccentric person .

Captures the atmosphere of Berwick Pier and is a skilful use of [a] prose poem

Agnes is an intriguing character & I thought about her a lot after I read this poem. Ann Ryland is a really interesting poet and it’s great to see her exploring the prose poetry form.
I live in Berwick upon Tweed and I have often walked along that pier past the seats. The poem evokes feelings of Berwick’s history and Agnes could be anyone of the strong, patient and faithful women that belong to Berwick’s past.
Wonderful tone, and takes the reader on such a flight of the imagination! Surreal, wry and convincing.
This prose poem has a beautiful haunting flow.

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Michelle Wareham





Bottled eyes

I am here in this hover of flowers
counting eyelashes
and fingers and toes,

before I knew it I couldn’t breathe
for I lost my heart
in the quivering pollen.




Michelle Wareham is an Australian born poet living in London writing to express the strange and the ordinary that conflicts inside like duelling conquistadors. She has written two novellas (Leatherback and Under Gaslight – the latter shortlisted in Amazon’s curated Kindle Single List, 2014.) Her poetry has appeared in small presses online, such as streetcakemagazine.com, and print – eg The Journal this autumn/winter.  Facebook: /MichWareham Instagram: /nadir_nascent


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