On the Third Day of Christmas we bring you Claire Walker, Will Johnson, Tim Gardiner



Needles Gathering

After Grandmother’s arrival – a crisp footfall
on Christmas Eve – my sister and I lay awake
in our twin beds. Turning our heads,
we faced each other, smirked at her voice
rising from the dining room below; stuffed
heads into feathered pillows
to mute our laughter at her shrill voice,
when we should have been sleeping.

Grandmother sat, exclaimed how nice the presents were. Mum,
who’d waded through crowded shopping centre Saturdays,
carefully loaded them into stockings.
Kneeling at the tree, she found prickled points
of dropped needles gathering in the carpet,
as Grandmother asked for sherry.
Mum battled to smooth her frown while, upstairs,
my sister and I picked each other’s smiles out in the dark.


Claire Walker‘s poetry has been published in magazines, anthologies and websites including The Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat and Tears, Prole, and And Other Poems. Her first pamphlet, The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile, is published by V. Press.  Her website is https://clairewalkerpoetry.com


What Wish

What wish if not this wish?

That snow is terrible
only in its fall;
that overnight
the sky will clear
and leave the altered earth
That in some warm
neglected stall,
new life can grow;
that winter’s sleep
will stir to birth,
rouse shepherds,
frankincense and myrrh,
speak words
to startle Herods,
sear the dark.

What wish if not this wish?

What hope?


Will Johnson lives in Cardiff. His publications include poems in Poetry Wales, The SHop, Agenda and Magma, and two verse translations from the Sanskrit in the Oxford World’s Classics series (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Recognition-Sakuntala-Oxford-Worlds-Classics/dp/0199540608).






Christmas Eve
just one more
childhood lie

empty high chair
a full stocking
by the fire


Dr Tim Gardiner is an ecologist, poet and children’s author. His first collection of poetry, Wilderness, was published by Brambleby Books in 2015 and his debut children’s book, The Voyage of the Queen Bee, was published by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2016.

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