On the Ninth Day of Christmas we bring you Tom Kelly, David Charles Gill and Sarah Watkinson


Deluge at the Angel of the North

Rain petals the car windscreen, carnations appear
near-translucent as if holding the world’s tears,
takes them with dignity, asking for more as they fall
on concrete and are lost like the past I meant to call.

The air is stifling; everything is here and soft breath love
is whispered to someone, somewhere, their hearts rise above
the sky and refuse what the day will bring as rain broods
then clatters on my car roof in this sudden deluge.



Tom Kelly is a north-east poet and playwright with eight collections, his most recent, Spelk, published by Red Squirrel Press.




Yule Tree

The storm that stayed a day ago
has found the shaping done last year.

It’s taken until now for lifting limbs
and walls of blasting ocean air
to set the apple thinnings free.

Each fork and knot and swollen joint
the frictions found in cracking bark
ancient bleeds which would not part
refused to help the hanging dead.

It’s taken weeks of pagan sun
winter-weakened     hour-starved
to crisp the tined and ripened moss
and breeze each roll of thatch away.

It took last Tuesday’s sudden snap
to show the blackbirds where I spiked
stored fruit on paring stumps
along the nearest of the trunks.

It took a closing afternoon
the third before Epiphany
to find the silence in its shape
the forest in a festival
the stand above a patient scent
the circles in its frozen height
the verses in its ornament
the setting of each winter light.



David Charles Gill studied with distinction on the creative writing MA at UEA where he held the 2016 Bryan Heiser Memorial Bursary. He has been published by Haverthorn Magazine and Holland Park Press. His first play Nineteen Short Scenes for Sons is being produced in Norwich next February.





The Vision of St Eustace in a Wood near Witney

I’m in Cogges Wood, on the land of a vanished abbey,
in rain and the A40’s Christmas shopping drone,
the last hour of daylight. I loose my Labradors
to nose the dying bracken for a scent. Then

in a mist-hollow down where the stream floods,
high in the hedge, a tree-crowned head
takes shape from winter-darkened quickthorn
and locks me in its gaze. I feel judged

like Pisanello’s hunter Placidus, when,
lymers at a loss, horse spooked, alone
with no one to gawp at his extravagant pink tack,
draped golden cape, or the yards of azure silk
elaborately twisted on his head,

the stag turns at bay, in splendour,
and puts him in his place.



Sarah Watkinson’s prize debut pamphlet Dung Beetles Navigate by Starlight appeared in 2017. Her work appears in magazines including Antiphon, The Rialto, Litmus, Under the Radar and Well-Versed.

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