Mat Riches


Kizelbel, September 2004

For R.

Last night was all too perfect.

The only noise was the local crickets’
nightly jam session in the hills.

All conversation was up against insect music,
as one lone virtuoso near our balcony
sang his own exquisite love songs.

Moths were taking off and landing
like burning paper scraps
flickering against a bonfire sun.

Figs fell from the trees
at exactly the same time as a Muezzin’s siren call began,
punctuated by the click of a microphone.

Modern life beat a path inland
as you beat me at backgammon.



Mat Riches lives in Beckenham, Kent, but will always have Norfolk in his heart. He is a father to Florence and a husband to Rachael, and by day he is a mild-mannered researcher in the TV industry. He has previously been published in And Other Poems and Snakeskin Press. He is a recent graduate of The Poetry School’s Lyric iPod course. He is about yea high.  Blog:  Twitter: @matriches

Read More

Marc Woodward





I found a frozen lizard on my walk
at the red mud edge of a Devon lane.
Intact and unspotted by crows or rooks,
half hidden in the horse shit round the drain.
I thought the creature might still be alive
just stunned to stupor by the late March chill,
and if I warmed her through she might survive,
so lifted her and walked on up the hill.

As we neared half a mile I felt her move,
faintly, as she responded to the heat
– held softly in my woolly winter glove.
A mile more, her revival now complete,
I found a sunny spot and set her free.
I recall you once did the same for me.



Marc Woodward is a poet and musician living in rural Devon. His writing reflects his surroundings and often has a dark, even macabre, undercurrent. He has been published in a wide range of places including Ink, Sweat & Tears, Prole, Clear Poetry, Message In A Bottle, Avis Magazine and The Poetry Society and The Guardian web sites – as well as in anthologies from Forward, Sentinel, OWF and Ravenshead. His recent chapbook ‘A Fright of Jays’ is available from Maquette Press.


NB: This poem is included in ‘A Fright Of Jays’ published by Maquette 7/15

Read More

Nik Perring on Valentine’s Day



Cupid and Me

The day Cupid lost his arrows Dan never walked over to Paula on reception and asked her to the cinema, so they never kissed on the back row and that, in turn, meant that he never asked her to marry him that night at the fair, in front of the candy floss stand and all those people clapping for them in gloves.

When Cupid lost his arrows it meant that that night, instead of saying Hi, and accepting that drink, Jenny never found out how much she and Mike had in common. It meant that, two weeks later, she never said, ‘I didn’t realise I’d spent my whole life looking for you until you mentioned Elvis and bird watching in the same sentence.’ Instead, Jenny walked by, eyes straight ahead and chest out, and she ended up meeting Tony who bought her shots and who, in eighteen months, won’t deal as well with her cancer as Mike would have. Because Cupid lost his arrows, Jenny will die alone and with bruises.

The day Cupid lost his arrows I didn’t have the nerve to ask you to the party. I know you’d have enjoyed it.

And I wish I’d been more forgiving. If I had then maybe I’d have helped him when I found him on his hands and knees in the alley. He was drunk, and I was too, and when he asked me to help him look for something behind the bins I told him no. He started shouting his mouth off then, said stuff about you, and I lost it. I grabbed him by his collar and sent him to the wall and I hit him hard in his fat face.

The police came when you called and they threw us in a cell together and when we sobered up, we talked. And that’s when he told me about it all, about everything that had been lost. He said he was sorry. When he mentioned you, that time, I cried.

I’ve asked him about second chances and he’s said no. Said what’s done is done, that those moments have all gone.

I’ll help him look for those arrows when we get out. I’ve promised him that. It’s the least I can do. I think we’re friends now, Cupid and me. One day, we’ll go for a beer. And I guess that’s something. It’s just that something doesn’t seem enough.




Nik Perring is the author of five books including the short story collection, Not So Perfect (Roastbooks 2010); he’s the co-author of Freaks! (The Friday Project/HarperCollins, 2012) and his latest, Beautiful Trees is out now. His online home is and he’s on Twitter too @nikperring


Note: This short has been previously published in Downtown and Driftwood

Read More

Renata Connors



I’d like to tell you…
but you don’t exist yet.
So far there’s only me
mixed together with a few caraway seeds
on the kitchen table
and you will be
a splodge of spilled coffee
taking your shape from my clumsy gesture
I’d like to tell you…
that I’m looking forward to that messy breakfast.




Renata Connors is a poet and songwriter based in Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear. Her poems were published in an online poetry magazine The Fat Damsel and Kind of a Hurricane press journal Napalm and Novocaine. She has performed her poetry and songs at many different venues around the North East.

Read More

Moray Sanders




In my father’s pocket

Feel that square of paper
in your jacket pocket
next to your heart.
Unfold it.
Hold it out if you need to.

“This is my father.
He is loved,
not lost.
Please bring him home and
when you have read this,
put the paper back
in his pocket
where he can feel it
next to his heart.

He is loved.
Not lost.
Thank you.”




Moray Sanders has written prose with the support of Creative Future for some years. Through Creative Future she won a mentoring opportunity with New Writing South. She is working with Vanessa Gebbie, who is encouraging her to write poetry. This was her first poem, and her first open submission.

Read More

Audrey McIlvain





Such a soggy word –
like dripping pipes,

skin that’s oozing sores

or milk pouring
from a cracked jug

and soaking a new carpet.

If you stick an ‘a’ in
it’s an oasis, watering you

in the desert,

but, in bones, it means you have
larger than normal holes

and now I am wondering

what will happen to me.
You see, I have small bones.

Does that mean that, eventually,

my     entire     body     will     become
one         large         leaky          hole?





Audrey McIlvain has published many educational articles, seven books for children, a self-help book for the elderly (60+? Get Ready to Rock), and a first collection of poetry (Hold on a Minute). She recently won the category she entered in the national competition, ‘Whispers of War’.  In 2014 she began a Masters Degree (online) with Manchester Metropolitan University.


Read More