Ian Seed





It was hot and dusty. I’d fallen asleep on the train and only woken up just in time to get off at the small country station, where I had to change trains. My shoelaces were untied, my belt undone, and my overstuffed suitcase had sprung open so that I had to carry it flat in my hands. My train to the sea and a new life was just a little further up the empty platform. But there was no one else on the train, not even the driver.



Ian Seed’s collections of prose poems include New York Hotel (2018), Identity Papers (2016), and Makers of Empty Dreams (2014) (Shearsman). New York Hotel was selected by Mark Ford as a TLS 2018 Book of the Year.

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Diana Cant




Bearing Gifts

You visit us with gifts – whisky,
a bottle of prosecco, flowers,
bestowed with cheerful generosity;
our horizons lengthen, you update us,
upload us into modern life. You offer us
a twist to our old certainties,
kaleidoscopic pieces shaken
into different diamond shapes;
how did that rowdy, wayward child
– all that boyness – turn into this,
a full-grown man, strength rippling
underneath your skin.

By the fire light you whittle us
a wooden spoon, pale blonde curls
of beech lie scattered on the floor
like petals, like confetti.



Diana Cant is a child psychotherapist and poet, who has spent all her professional life working with young people in various sorts of distress.  One of the aims of her poetry is to give these young people a voice that is seldom heard.  She lives and works in Kent, and has been published in various anthologies and journals.

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Gary Jude




My glass-bottomed feet

are happiest in water, especially the sea,
and glow a deep aquarium blue. Little fish
kiss the O of their open-mouthed reflections.

On cold, clear nights I sometimes lie
on the lawn and point the soles of my feet
to the stars, till the glass frosts.

Then you scratch your name and God
knows what on them. You joke
how you can see right through me.

You always know if I’m telling the truth.
Sometimes I pull down the blinds,
stay in bed for days in the same black socks.



Gary Jude is from London. He has been living in Bern, Switzerland for many years. He works in advertising. He has previously had poems published, including in The Interpreters House, Poetry Salzburg, Ink Sweat & Tears and Orbis.

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Clair Chilvers




The book of death

Each night I craft
the perfect poem
a device for sleep

or when I wake
in those dark hours
to find the world

a fearful place
I think of rhymes
and common measure

this morning
only a fragment
just the perfect title




Clair Chilvers was a cancer scientist. She started writing poetry at age 70. She lives in Gloucestershire and was inspired by UA Fanthorpe. Her work has been described as ‘powerful and moving’ by Anna Saunders founder of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival.

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Scott Silsbe




Red Lightning

A sprawl of light takes over the night’s horizon.
The authorities are quick to shoot down theories
that it’s something otherworldly or problematic.

There isn’t very much below us or above us—
it turns out we were short-sighted once again.
Talking to no one—or else myself—I say,
“I’m going to have nightmares tonight.”

But, then, this isn’t about me. It’s about us.
All of us. We’re in this damn thing together.
It seems to me that we forget that these days.

She suggested we sit and watch the country
burn and destroy itself—the way we knew
it always would. I guess I hadn’t realized
that it would be televised. But there it was.

For a moment, I think a little about the things
I would save if I could save them. Even though
it’s pointless. Even though they’re already gone.



Scott Silsbe was born in Detroit. He now lives in Pittsburgh. His poems have been collected in three books—Unattended Fire, The River Underneath the City, and Muskrat Friday Dinner. He is also an assistant editor at Low Ghost Press.

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Sam Burt




A Consensus

One bright morning in December, the court agreed unanimously that:
the former prime minister was two months dead;
he was guilty of treason in absentia;
he had committed suicide while awaiting trial;
he had died suddenly in prison;
he had kicked himself to death;
his fingernails had been seen in the Ministry of Interior;
the rest of him was missing;
he had plotted too soon;
he had acted too late;
his coup had been thwarted;
the revolution had been saved;
poetry would be safe again;
he had been an unexceptional figure;
his achievements were limited;
his ambitions had been impractical;
he felt at home in London and Washington;
he was popular with students;
there were too many students and not enough soldiers;
there were too many students and not enough jobs;
there were too many students;
he was sentenced to death;
his body, if found, be hanged;
long-term investment in industry was needed;
dried fruit exports looked promising;
a factory made three tons of ice a day;
Russians bought 40,000 tons of cement;
Russians paved the capital’s streets;
the former prime minister had no children;
he could not leave politics alone;
his supporters were educated, agreeable men;
and all agreeable men were now in agreement.


*For Mohammad Hashim Maiwandwal (1919-73), the seventh prime minister of Afghanistan.



Sam Burt is a copywriter/tutor in east London. He writes poetry and fiction and has enjoyed success in Writer’s Magazine competitions and the 1000 Word Challenge. His non-fiction has appeared in the Guardian and at Book Riot and the Huffington Post. He is working on a novel.

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Avril Joy




Aztec Love Song for Uprooted Flowers

I carry them to your house on my back,
uprooted flowers.
I am bent double with the weight of them,
of women torn from the soil, their roots mud
stem and sepal crushed
I carry them. I carry their scent, the scent of ash
and blood in my blood.
Bent double with the weight of their fragility,
buds unopened, roses full-blown
discarded, trampled on
I carry them.

Their flower faces sit: geranium,
harebell, meadow-sweet,
in my classroom in this prison,
foliage fluttering in the breeze
from the barely open window
I carry the leaf of them,

bent double with the weight
of what we do to them,
how we punish and incarcerate
condemn to iron fallen blossom, uprooted
flowers I carry them
on my back, to your house.

Avril Joy is currently writing a sequence of poems about her time working in a women’s prison. One of these ‘prison’ poems, Skomm, won the 2019 York Mix poetry competition. Find out more at www.avriljoy.com

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