Robert Garnham




Even better than the real thing

You invited me to your flat. You looked ever so pleased with yourself. Your flat was a part of an older building near the park which had a beautiful lake in the middle of it, you wouldn’t think that we were in the middle of Berlin, were if not for the low aircraft every few seconds coming in to land at the airport. Your flat had high ceilings and very tall windows, and it always felt cold, even in the middle of summer. So it was autumn now and it felt freezing cold.

‘Come and have a look at this’, you said.

The ground floor of your building was an Italian restaurant. The door to the restaurant and the stairwell were both behind an iron gate which you held open for me. You seemed very excited as you led me up the concrete stairs to the first landing, and then up the narrow second set of stairs, which were wooden and unvarnished. This building must have been here during the Nazi years, and I’d always meant to ask you whether this neighbourhood had been a part of East or West Berlin.

A late autumn low sun was shining through the tall windows when you opened the door to your studio flat, and it mins of added a yellow tinge to everything, and deep shadows, an outline of the window frame. The bare wood floor was splashed and sprinkled with multicoloured drops of oil paint where you had been working, and there were various canvases leaning against the walls, some of them three or four abreast. You also had a bed, and a sink, and a cooker. A free-standing radiator on a long lead and wheels, also covered in paint. You told me once that when it feels really cold, you paint with the radiator between your legs to keep you warm. Wind rattles through the old window panes.

‘This is what I’ve been working on’.

In the middle of the room there’s a canvas on an easel covered in a large sheet. Very proudly, but also very slowly, you peel off the sheet to reveal something very familiar indeed.
‘It’s the Haywain’, I point out,

‘Yes. Constable’s Haywain. Well, to be more specific, my own version of if. It’s my Haywain. What do you think?’

‘But . . ‘, I asked, stammering, ‘w-why?’

You look at me very seriously for a few seconds.

‘Why not?’

It’s a very good copy, I give you that. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that this was the original. And it was certainly a surprise to see it here, in the middle of Berlin.

‘You’ve put a lot of work in to this’, I point out. ‘But . . It already exists’.

‘I know’, you reply. ‘And now it exists again’.

‘I don’t understand . .’.

‘I got the idea last year, if you remember. We went to that small Irish bar, and they had a cover band in there, doing U2 songs, remember? U2.1, I think they were called. And remember how I said at the time that it must be really good to experience the feeling of recreating something so timeless? Remember that? And you know, I’ve always been a big fan of Constable . . ‘.

‘It’s a forgery!’

‘It’s a homage’.

‘I don’t know what to say’.

‘You don’t like it, do you?”

‘I never liked the original’.

‘You know what? I think we’d better end it’.

‘End what?’

‘Our relationship. What do you say? We’re over. We’re through’.

‘But . .’.

‘I think you’d better leave’.

Your flat always belt cold. I hadn’t even taken my coat off. The long shadows seemed to hint at some contrast between right and wrong.

‘But’, I whisper to you, ‘We’re  not seeing each other’.

‘It felt like it, though’, you whisper. ‘And really, isn’t that the most important thing?’

An aircraft flies over, very low. And as I make my way to your door, I start to understand where you were coming from.


Robert Garnham is a comedy performance poet and writer based in Devon. He is active all over the UK. His website is

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Paul Attwell




Chablis in Pyjamas

Order placed, we counted from four weeks ‘til
the eve before. Excited, we planned our
seven-day lay in. Then it came. Memory
foam and micro pockets plus the base. Bliss!
We dressed it in white Egyptian cotton
And placed padded clouds at its head.
Then drank Chablis in our pyjamas.



Paul Attwell lives in Richmond, London, with his partner Alis, and Pudsey and Tequila the cats. Paul’s experiences of depression and ADHD help shape his work and his collection pamphlet, Blade is now available from Wrong Rooster Publishing at

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Melanie Branton




Going South To Morden

There’s a doll’s house-sized grief
when I read a book and add a character
to my list of favourite names,
then remember that I’ll never need it now.
I’m as eggless as a vegan cooked breakfast,
I’m a photocopier out of toner,
my tubes are jestered with the effort
of forcing out the last centimetre of toothpaste.
When I went for a smear, the nurse confirmed
it’s a perishing hot water bottle down there.

The celebrities who die on the News at Ten
are no longer Brylcreemed and black and white.
Increasingly aware of the direction of travel,
I’m on the last train out of here,
already at Clapham North, I’ll never see
Charing Cross again and outside the window
there’s just my own reflection and then the black.



Melanie Branton has two collections: Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017). Her work has been published in journals including Ink, Sweat & Tears, Bare Fiction and London Grip.

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Rob Stuart


Poetry Hazards

















Rob Stuart’s poems, visual poems and short stories have been published in magazines, newspapers and webzines all over the world. He has also written the screenplays for several award-winning and internationally exhibited short films. His website can be found at

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Gill Lambert




For Anne Boleyn

My velvet skin
turns gold to blush.
He waits till just before
my flesh turns sour, falls,
reveals the stone beneath.

He rips each layer with his teeth
and I can feel him tasting me,
licking round the edges
so he doesn’t waste a drop.

Once I couldn’t wait for this;
I had him where he has me.
Now it’s started,
I cannot let it stop.

He’s peeling me,
stripping me of skin.
I can only watch
all that promise,
all my power,
running down his chin.



Gill Lambert is a poet and teacher from Yorkshire. She has been widely published online and in print and her first collection was published by Yaffle this year. Gill’s website is

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Imogen Forster




Crocodile in the Underground

A skein of children in neatly matched pairs,
name-tagged, wearing luminous baldrics
and carrying shiny identical satchels, tittup
side by side behind their class teacher,
overseen by a motherly rearguard.

A lag-behind skitters to catch up, huffing
and puffing. Head full of stories, he had almost
made off down a tiled passage, hearing his own
Pied Piper in the dust-balled, rat-busy tunnel,
the distant chorus of clatter and rumble.

Brought back into line, quietly admonished,
he keeps his secret, his charm against boredom,
this new sense of himself as a separate person.
He looks unchanged and only seems to be
the boy who left home this morning.



Imogen Forster has been writing poems for the past seven years, having spent too long doing other things. In 2017 she completed the MA in Writing Poetry at Newcastle University. She lives in Edinburgh and tweets @ForsterImogen

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The final pick of the Month for 2019 is ‘No more ordinary mornings’ by Mick Corrigan

For December’s  Pick of the Month, the future and the state of our planet knocked everything else into touch – even the fine slant of our 12 Days of Christmas shortlisted poems – and Mick Corrigan‘s ‘No more ordinary mornings’ emerged as the final IS&T Pick for 2019 and, fittingly, for the decade. This ‘brilliant’ poem resonated because many voters felt it was true. Or would be.

Mick‘s debut, Deep Fried Unicorn, was released in to the wild in 2015. His poems have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize (USA) and The Forward Poetry Prize (UK). He is currently completing his second collection Life Coaching for Gargoyles which, when finished, will be launched like a clown from a cannon.  He spends his time as though he has an endless supply of it, between Ireland and the island of Crete. He plans to do wild and reckless things with his hair before it’s too late.


No more ordinary mornings

There are no more ordinary mornings
when Greenland comes pouring through your letterbox
and the chickens have stopped giving milk,
when you don’t have to go to the sea anymore
as the sea is now coming to you.

There are no more ordinary mornings
when anger clouds like ink in water
and the cure seems worse than the disease
to those who should know better but don’t.

There are no more ordinary mornings
when the rain dark clay of March
refuses the spade and turns its face away,
when the dusty bed where a fertile river ran
is home now to nothing but the rushing diarrhoea
of blogging, vlogging and reality tv.

There are no more ordinary mornings
when the last days of summer
are the last days of summer ever,
when undertakers mutter about
how that was a very popular glacier,
how it’s bound to be a very big funeral
how a very large casket will be needed
for all the thoughts and prayers.


Voters comments included:

It may seem odd, the idea of poetry making something real, but that’s what happens here, making climate change real because it’s mundane.

It resonates so well with the times we live in

This is a ‘wake-up’ poem, its sincerity written in simple language. I love the ideas and the scary notion of  ‘No more ordinary mornings’.

Mick’s use of imagery and clever wordplay sways my vote.

Mick Corrigan has been a wordsmith and voice for some time now roun’ & roun’ the block on both sides of the pond. Foresight in technicolor and 2020 hindsight fitting of this starboard listing ship of fools, friends, and countrymen.

Touched a nerve

Because, there are no more ordinary mornings.

Bleedin’ fabulous

Enjoyed immensely!

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