On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, we bring you JS Watts, Kerry Darbishire and Nicky Phillips






White Blessings

The moon looks down from her bed of winding sheets.
Her glance is white, both a blessing and a curse.
It howls of weddings and funerals,
vast icy distances;
impersonal, chillingly serene.

Great snowfields reach up to kiss a bleached bone sky.
The white hare runs with speed and grace.
Whatever you do, don’t look at her.
Veil her eyes with the soiled nets
of winter fog crawling in
on gusts of inertia.

Unsullied potential glares defiantly
from the new year’s calendar;
smooth as untouched cold cream.
It could be anything, many things, nothing
reflected in the blankness behind sheeted eyes.




J.S.Watts’ books include poetry, Cats and Other Myths and  Years Ago You Coloured Me, plus multi-award nominated Songs of Steelyard Sue and a shiny new pamphlet, The Submerged Sea. Her novels are A Darker Moon and Witchlight. See www.jswatts.co.uk




The Twelfth Day

Before glittery robins, deer and pines
laden with snow flew through my door,

before tree lights sparkled the dead-air days
and tinsel decked the corners, I was writing

a poem about you – wrapped
in the joy of cards slipping

off their strings, hoovering pine needles
the man on the market promised wouldn’t

drop, the spit and crackle of parched
holly dismantled in the grate, you

glowing in the satisfaction of taking Christmas
down, snapping shut the rusty hinges

of an old leather suitcase brimmed
with paper chains, lanterns, the nativity, then

from underneath a bed, lifting out
the scent of blue and white hyacinths.




Kerry Darbishire lives in Cumbria. Her poems appear widely in anthologies and magazines and have won several prizes, including shortlist Bridport 2017. Her two poetry collections, A Lift of Wings 2014, and Sweet on my Tongue 2018 with Indigo Dreams.Twitter: @kerrydarbishire




Changing the calendar

Squalls bluster recycled streamers
up into spirals; rain, relentless,
drives as puddles deepen;
muddy streams pour off fields;
lanes flow like rivers;
clouds hang low as skies close in.

Yesterday, similarly soggy,
was last year, last day,
speeding to midnight’s ringing in.
Today, with everything new,
feels old – no herald of change,
no stirring under water-logged soil.

I ditch December, with its unused
prompts for procrastinating poets,
substitute a flawless year,
a gallery of vintage typewriters,
each date, each key poised,
ready to deliver the unexpected.




Nicky Phillips lives in Hertfordshire. Her poems have been published in magazines and online. In 2017 one was nominated for Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. Her pamphlet Jam in Aisle 3 was published by Dempsey & Windle in 2018.

Note: This poem was first published in Benington Parish Magazine, January 2017


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