On the Eighth Day of Christmas, we bring you Ruth Aylett and Susan Jordan




“And Lo! The Angel of the lord came upon them..”

It wasn’t like that. Summer stars
not winter, the stir and mutter of
the flock, some grazing, some asleep.

I lay in the warm night, breathing
the bruised smell of cropped grass, the
dry pepper of garrigue scrub.

Nor was it singing that roused me
perhaps a bright folding in the stars
or a silver aurora come south.

I saw neither heads nor hands though
a slow wing-beat echoed in my head,
bat-high music vibrated my bones.

My sheep heard better: their panicking
mill of woolly bodies and legs
made a scramble down the mountain.

Where the flock goes the shepherd
must follow, feet sliding on scree
bare shins scratched and prickled.

And was it a message? Then not of birth.
My ears still ring with the warning
of time running out for this small Earth.




Ruth Aylett lives in Edinburgh where she teaches and researches university-level computing, thinks another world is possible and that the one we have is due some changes. She has been published by Envoi, Bloodaxe Books, Poetry Scotland, Red Squirrel Press, Doire Press and others. For more on her writing see http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/





Christmas Tree

I put it up earlier than usual
my plastic tree that saves real ones
from being cut down, its harmony
of red and gold welcoming you
into my home. I thought you’d like
the dangling fairies in sexy red,
the painted star, the flowered globes,
the cross-eyed elephant. I put up
paper chains, arranged my cards
along the piano, started sorting
the piles of junk left from the last time
a visitor roused me to tidy them.

And I knew, so when you rang,
voice soft with trying not to hurt,
a stone dropped smoothly to the bottom
of a pool that had already filled.
‘That’s all right’ – the necessary lie,
our quiet good wishes, your unconvinced
‘Maybe another time.’ The welcome
folded in upon itself as I stood,
hand on the hoover, doing things now
only for myself. I’d see you later
at a party that wouldn’t be mine.
You’d only said you might come.




Susan Jordan writes both poetry and prose. She has had poems published in a number of print and online magazines, including Obsessed with Pipework, Prole, The Journal, Snakeskin, The Poetry Shed, Clear Poetry and  I S & T.



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