Aishwarya Raghu is our Pick of the Month Poet for August 2019

You might think it strange that ‘A Poem about Frost’ should be the Pick of the Month for the height of summer but Aishwarya Raghu’s ‘profound’ ‘melancholy’ and ‘beautiful’ poem took voters beyond nature and winter and there was something about its peaceful isolation that appealed.

Aishwarya is a 26-year-old content writer from Bangalore, India. Her work has previously appeared in magazines such as the Louisville Review, Glass Mountain Magazine, aaduna, and Vayavya.


A Poem about Frost

Swan resting
on an empty lake: white
but for the lake. Blue
but for the swan.
Winter will set in
from the
corner of the lake.
Eagle swan.
I can no longer
tell bird from bird.
When winter sets in,
the swan will be trapped
left foot down.
Things will change. Moss
under snow. Earth
under moss. A scuba diver
would be trapped underwater
if the lake were the sea.
Lonely diver
with the left foot
of the swan for company.
The swan will fly. Bird
will turn into bird.


Voters comments included:

This poem took me into another, almost dreamy, imaginary land where the loneliness gave me a kind of weird satisfaction.

Reading this makes me feel something each time. I can’t quite tell what, and that’s why I like it.

the simplicity of words.

[ A description of ] nature and its beauty in a delightful and enthusiastic way. No words to express the joy of reading the poem.

The imagery; period!

Earthy and meaningful

Loved the poem structure; abrupt yet halting. The contradictions in the poem are reminiscent of the work of Robert Frost. Which then makes the reader wonder if the poem is about frost or just Frost’ian!

I love how the poem somehow makes me believe there’s hope and then suddenly makes me feel a sense of loss. It makes me feel like I am the scuba diver and I’m out there forever trapped in an infinity.

It’s about nature! Very descriptive in less words.

The poem causes chills with frost

I love the way this poem is structured and the imagery it builds. I almost feel like I’m there.

Reading the poem almost makes me feel like the swan. It gives me some strange feeling I can’t describe.

The poem is a word-picture: stark and simple but beautiful, with a child’s logic, e.g. the left foot of the swan being the one to freeze into the ice. There is an air of myth and mystery, and whimsy.


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Helen Kay




NIMBY and the Supermoon 2018

The window by her pillow has the best job in the house:
it sneaks in day to kiss her awake to      a tail-thumping heart.

Curtains slice a piece of sky, twig-flecked, let her taste
the creamy dawn            shame it’s a #supermoontease.

She breaks open sleep-stuck, blackout linings. Her heart howls.
New houses, with scaffold ribs                      fatten on the fields.

Her hatred self-harms as the ‘stunning’ Wildflower estate
chews up trees and newts                    smirks at her terrace.

She is Sleeping Beauty. No sweet lips, just golden JCBs drilling
her mad. She goads the moon to flee       prays for a spindle prick.



Helen Kay’s poems crop up in magazines. She was recently placed second in the Leeds Peace Prize, Wakefield Sanctuary and Welshpool competitions and commended in the Shelter and Festival of Firsts Competitions. She spends too much time on Facebook.

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Sue Birchenough




overnight to london

footnote: this tool does not provide
fight in a nail salon on youtube
(sings) moon river, wider than a mile       ledged on a window sill……yeah right……… stick thin and miming and the real singer only mentioned when she died
we suggest you schedule 15 hours of undivided attention
most hypnic jerks occur essentially at random

driver going off on one over a cyclist

Poirot could’ve stood on a balcony like one of these

(sings) i won’t dance, don’t ask me
(sings) i won’t dance, madam, with you
(sings) work you through  18  re la tion ship steps
(sings) putting on the ritz   tap tap tap



Sue Birchenough‘s chapbook housework is available from Kfs press.  Her avant object takeaway britain is currently exhibited as part of Poetry by Design at Leeds University.



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Pat Edwards reviews ‘Rowan Ridge’ by Chris Kinsey,204,203,200_.jpg



I should start by saying that, although I love being out walking in wild places, I am not especially a fan of nature poetry. I always feel that poetry rarely does justice to things of great natural beauty and that I prefer the real thing. However, Chris Kinsey’s writing about the great outdoors is distinctly different. Her work does not just describe grasses, wildflowers, birds and water in close detail; it inserts human warmth, personal story telling and weaves a beguiling magic into the places she takes us.

From the front cover, through the sixty-odd poems in this collection, we are on a journey with Kinsey, who deftly invites us to savour the narrative and accompany her through various stages of her life. To say the poems reflect her love of and affinity with flora and fauna is to miss her humour, political opinions and commentary on the human condition.

Clearly Kinsey, although at times in her life an effective teacher, found being a child in the classroom very boring and deeply confining. The riches of the rivers and hills of Mid Wales were as friends and offered a more meaningful education. In Private Collection, the headmaster seems the only one to recognise this, with his advice to ”keep going for bike rides”.

Kinsey employs many different poetical forms and often plays with how the words look on the page. In Clarach Bay, there is a vertical string of tumbling capital letters spelling out the movement of shingle, and in other poems Kinsey uses spacing to make the words occupy the full page with a rare confidence. There are sonnets, High Summer on a Shropshire Hill, prose poems, Private Collection and Cut, poems in neat three or four line stanzas, and so much more. This willingness to experiment is like a challenge to the reader to take notice and it definitely forces you to keep turning the pages.

My own particular delight is in how Kinsey uses the senses, notably the sounds of everything she encounters. Many of the poems demand to be read aloud to get the cries of curlews, the irritation of the “scratchy biro” in an exam, the fabulous dialogue in Last Train from Aberystwyth. Kinsey gives us drama in False Orchids, so full of the sounds of a medical emergency with its “Beeps. Cheeps. Shrieks”, and the “whischt” of a heron taking off in Confession. Her mastery of alliteration and internal rhyme is effective as in “the standing stones have shrunk, sunk deeper” and the stones “bite through a beard of bracken” in Four Visits to Mitchell’s Fold.

Kinsey demonstrates her wry wit on many occasions. In First Aid she relieves the boredom of “rolling healthy strangers into the recovery position” by clearing her airway “with a draught of deep September”. Occasionally she pokes gentle fun at religion. In Another Church Tour, she muses on how she might “switch a hymn number to 666”, and in To Enlli she acknowledges her pilgrimage would be “not for sainthood, but for words buoyant as fronds of bladderwrack”.

I like the use of quotations from people such as Carlo Levi, WB Yeats, RS Thomas, WH Davies, Milton and others, both as epigraphs and within the body of a poem, to add texture and authority. Kinsey often refers to the cycles and changes of the seasons; she may even use this as a kind of extended metaphor running through the collection to explain how she lives her days. Another theme throughout is her love of faithful companion dogs who are evident both in passing and when whole lines or poems are populated by them. What a joy is her poem Call the Greyhounds with its hyphenated descriptors “Quilt-snuggler, Dream-twitcher, Hearth-gracer”. Perhaps the seasons and her hounds come together in perfect harmony in Watching for Season Change:

“When fresh grass spears turn my greyhounds to grazing gazelles and the great cherry races start, I submit”. The poem finishes with, for me, the most telling lines in the whole collection, “if climate shifts out of calling range we will all lose our footing.”

Kinsey proves her worth in these lines; she is not a sentimental describer of nature but a writer whose own awareness of her surroundings makes us examine our whole relationship with one another, with animals and with the wider world in its modern context. Kinsey is so much more than a fine nature writer, but an observer of the interaction between people and places, sights and sounds, myth and reality.



Order your copy of Chris Kinsey’s From Rowan Ridge (Fair Acre Press) here:


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Helen Pletts & Romit Berger on the Day of the Global Climate Strike

freshwater bio sonar boto

freshwater bio sonar boto
over-hunted through the flooded forests

agile Amazon pinkness with tactile whiskers

tiny-spiny dolphin-teeth murky-snouting
red bellied piranhas, croakers and catfish

#climatestrike  #schoolstrike4climate #fridaysforfuture #climatecrisis #gretathunberg



Helen Pletts ( ) whose two collections, Bottle bank and For the chiding dove, are published by YWO/Legend Press (supported by The Arts Council) and available on Amazon. ‘Bottle bank’ was longlisted for The Bridport Poetry Prize 2006, under Helen’s maiden name, Bannister. Also published in Aesthetica, Orbis, The Fenland Reed. Working collaboratively on Word and Image (published exclusively by with Romit Berger, illustrator, since 2012. Helen’s poetry was longlisted for The Rialto Nature and Place Competition 2018 and shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize in 2018. Helen’s poem The Grey Seal Speaks was selected in 2019 for the climate change awareness anthology entitled ‘Planet in Peril’ available from

Image by Romit Berger who says  “I am a graphic designer. I met my very dear friend, Helen Pletts, in Prague, several years ago. Helen’s inspiration has led my graphic design career into that magical realm which combines illustration and poetry, and our creative wings continue to connect our souls through time and distance.”

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Setareh Ebrahimi




Galloping Horses

We caught a moment of your underwater world.
Galloping horses, the midwife said.
In there there’s weird fishes
and a submarine with a rotating light
looking for life
steadily; beep, beep, beep.

You like to hide.
At first on screen it was like looking at you from above
in a bathtub,
then you simply slept on your face like your father,
refusing to move, despite star jumps.

As they pushed into me
you materialised in and out of existence,
arms, no arms, legs, no legs,
I was hoping to see a member
or the absence of one
to gauge your secrets and gain an even field.

You’re still liminal, a sprite, a god.
I’d like to think that’s what you’ll always be to me,
but I must warn you,
people here are static and tired and almost
always not magical.

I’d like to call you by your name.
They might as well show me my brain
with all its junk and hopes
or my heart, where you also live.
As I lie in pain, give up on sleep,
get up and write this,
with what’s left of my boldness I think I would do this,
a thousand times, again.



Setareh Ebrahimi is a poet living in Faversham, Kent. She has been published numerous times in various journals and magazines, including Brittle Star, Confluence and Scrittura. Setareh released her first pamphlet, entitled In My Arms from Bad Betty Press in 2018.

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Grant Tarbard




extracts from dog

Dog is an amateur astronomer, I feign interest, 
he dictates the curvature of the Earth.
He had me measure the world on his back, 
the radius seemed bent as dog’s spine.
That’s how we know the Earth is round, 
inhabited by rooms of beautiful evenings.

Dog has a degree in nothingness, he has you focus 
on an empty space and you can picture a theatre
of overcome flesh in a reflection of distant clouds, 
or a Remembrance Sunday, whatever’s in your little 
hideous button eyes. “And it shall be crossed off
your last judgment” dog oohed, his eye magnified 
by his half sucked glacier mint crystal ball.

We’re busy from town to town, we’ve even thought 
of buying a gypsy caravan to carry all our gifts, 
handed in bunches from grateful villagers.
Dog’s gifts receipts include: a little patience in a tinted 
light bulb, a room that has the outside in,
a collar that calls your attention to coincidence, 
an honest man holding a box in each hand
and a donkey (deceased) stuffed with captivated children.

The exact weight of dog’s body was reproduced
as an ebony table, his trembling copse of crow-black fur 
seemed tireless in this anatomic facsimile, his glasses 
we’re fashioned as fathomless pale blue lanterns
iridescently animating the children’s cartoons on sick days. 
“Dog, phantom of heaven, how would you like your feet set?”
the artist asked dog. “Standing up!” bellowed dog.

Dog says that we can have bus fare if I eat my greens. 
I isolate the carnation on my plate and pick at the stem
as the crows in the field suck their breath into their necks.

Evenings, after supper, were spent with dog doing 
his disappointing impressions. His Stanley Baldwin 
sounded like a retching Quasimodo. Later he’d read
a story of his own devising, starting off with his whistling 
his forgetting tune… “A dog and his man were surrounded
by forests of pine. Man was playing with noise to see, 
dog’s pink nostrils trembled the white slab of heaven
as the moulted earth revealed its golden arteries.
This is the whereabouts where we come to place gratitude, 
this is the wherefores where we come to say the only sadness
is not to live a mystery, this is the compass where we come
to scream our lungs out how strange it is to be anything at all.
This is the hamlet where it rains Horatio’s, this is the place we taste, 
lit peacefully as a bright flower, this is the place we call home.”



Grant Tarbard is an editorial assistant for Three Drops From A Cauldron and a reviewer. His most recent collection is Rosary of Ghosts (Indigo Dreams).  dog is forthcoming from Gatehouse Press.

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