Helen Calcutt




Fire lantern

It’s a discredit to us, we humans,
that when something moves out of the sky,
something like a ball of light,
we don’t see it.
We catch a glimpse maybe, yes.
But do we see? Do we take the time
to watch it, like a slow hand
moving one way across the dark
watch it burn, and think
that must be agony.
We don’t compare it, in our subtler minds,
to a bird that’s caught fire.
Or a voice on the air that, for some reason
has started screaming.
There’s milk out on the step
(in its own kind of light)
and then the baby in the bed
who needs to be fed.
The prospect of a morning
without money, or bread.
So we can’t know
if that thing.
That ball of light,
that bird,
that voice,
fell over the dark and the trees,
at last, into burning leaves.
We can’t begin to imagine what happened to it.



Helen Calcutt is the author of two books of poetry, ‘Sudden rainfall’ (Perdika, 2014) a PBS Choice, and ‘Unable Mother’ published by V.Press in September 2018. Her writing is published internationally, including award-winning essays and reviews for The Wales Arts Review, The Brooklyn Review, The London Review, Poetry Scotland and Boundless. She is creator and editor of ‘Eighty-Four’ a new poetry anthology on the subject of male suicide.


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Susan Richardson




Sharpened Razor Tongue

She always arrives late, twittering,
apologies wrapped in a high-pitched parcel.
Slithering to the head of the table,
she places herself at the helm of the evening,
wrists splayed like bird bones across the arms of the chair.
She demands a drink and commandeers the spotlight.

With a brutal jaw, she grinds and bares her teeth,
sharpened razor tongue, ready for battle.
She spits insults into the room,
blades masked by the pretense of good intentions,
a pungent scent of ridicule lingering in hateful laughter.
Her scalpel unravels the delicately stitched
patchwork of my confidence.

The evening crawls on heavy knees.
Cruel barbs stretch to the corners of the room,
smothering the walls in a trill of conceit.
She picks at her food, cutting meat into slivers
she places furtively into her mouth,
while announcing she is too full to eat another bite.
She has no problem drinking all my wine.

Her attack wanes in the thickened speech
of too much booze, but she can’t resist
leaving me with one last wound.
Staggering at the door, she leans in to kiss the air
next to my cheek, and in a thin- lipped whisper,
lacquered with a tincture of disappointment,
tells me I could be attractive
if I wasn’t so fat.
Her words leave scars in the back of my throat.



Susan Richardson lives and writes in Los Angeles. In addition to poetry, she writes a blog called, Stories from the Edge of Blindness. Her work has been published in Barren Magazine, Rust + Moth, Foxglove Journal, Amaryllis, The Writing Disorder, Eunoia Review, Dodging the Rain, and Burning House Press, among others. She was awarded the Sheila – Na – Gig 2017 Winter Poetry Prize, featured in the Literary Juice Q&A Series, and chosen as the Ink Sweat & Tears March 2018 Poet of the Month. Her poetry has also been nominated for Best of the Net.

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Michael Estabrook



Mi Amigo

We’re at the rental place at the beach.
3 AM I’m up reading
waiting for the pain pills to kick in
(back legs shoulders arms from fighting
the waves and the woods)
when I notice a giant spider crawling
across the ceiling heading our way.
Normally I capture
these hairy guys release them outside
where they belong but too much
brouhaha for this time of night
would wake my exhausted wife.
So I stealthily (with great stealth)
swat the thing down
with a throw pillow but now
I can’t find it. WTF!
I move the nightstand there he is!
Clobber him into 10 pieces with my shoe.
Mission accomplished! Now back to sleep.
The Devil, who I hadn’t noticed
has been watching me with that stupid
I-just-planted-a-spider-in-your-room grin
exclaims “Well done mi amigo”
and poof he’s gone again, bastard.



Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. Hopefully with each passing decade the poems have become more clear and concise, succinct and precise, more appealing and “universal.” He has published over 20 collections, a recent one being Bouncy House, edited by Larry Fagin (Green Zone Editions, 2014).

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Alok Kumar Satpute





Once to receive blessings of wisdom to all from the God, a group prayer was organized by the people of all over the world. Being happy the God gave blessings of wisdom to all. To receive wisdom, people started to challenge the God’s existence. The belief had vanished. The God understood that his existence was now in a danger. Seeing a terrible future, he took back his blessings.
…Now the God is fully aware, so he does not get impressed with any type of prayer.



Alok Kumar Satpute is from Raipur. Published works in Hindi include: Apne Apne Talibaan, Baital Phir Daal Par, Mohra, devdasi and Bachcha Log Tali Bajayega from reputed publishing houses. Apne Apne Talibaan (Urdu) from Aakif book depot, New Delhi.) And marathi translation also published.

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Alice Willitts




Strategy i: surrender

my heart is oily blue
swallows, frantic to escape
birds whose flight
is a grace fall to earth
one by one exhausted


swift cockroaches carpet sorrow
muffle the impulse to resist
miniature mouthful
by miniature mouthful
and my heart
stripped clean
by the many tongues of grief
continues more than less
to beat



Alice Willitts is a writer and garden designer. She collaborates under the name Cathenka-Willitts (cathenkawillitts.wixsite.com/cwpoetics). She completed an MA in Creative Writing Poetry at the University of East Anglia in 2018.

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Jacob Parker



Day Trip

It was in May, the weekend after we’d decided to separate, I took my girls to Weston-Super-Mare. To get them out of the house. It drizzled the whole day. We went on the beach anyway – the rain was bearable. They made a sandcastle. They rode on the donkeys – at least I think they did.

The tide was way out. My youngest, she walked all the way out to the edge of the sea to wash the sand off her feet. By the time she’d walked back her feet were covered in mud and sand again. She cried furiously – her body in my arms was rigid with the injustice.

Years later the girls told me it was one of their favourite days. Driving there I’d worn sunglasses all the way, so they wouldn’t see me crying.




Jacob Parker lives in London. He teaches in a sixth form college. He likes writing short stories in pencil.




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Tony Burfield





The sabbath, I pray to the cliffs. The Button Rock Hermit chants somewhere back in the pines. There is wind over everything, even the far highway roar. Our complicity sinks heart, sinks bone. I shift from reverse to first and bounce down the rutted driveway, rufous and juncos darting.

bees on the feeder
fewer hummingbirds
than yesterday





Tony Burfield lives with his wife in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and works at the Boulder Public Library. His chapbook, Sawhorse, won Middle Creek Publishing’s Fledge Award in 2017.

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