Christine Taylor




the “bookettes”
meet to discuss
the latest gin


my students
strive to earn an A–
lockdown drill


no more
navy blue boy blazers


freshly cut chrysanthemums
another memorial
along the highway


sticky willow
another message
to delete



Christine Taylor, a multiracial English teacher and librarian, resides in her hometown Plainfield, New Jersey.  She is the haibun editor at OPEN:  Journal of Arts & Letters.  Her work appears in Modern Haiku, Glass:  A Journal of Poetry, Room, and The Rumpus among others.  She can be found at  Follow her on Twitter @cetaylorplfd.

Read More

Vote Vote Vote for Your Pick of the Month for October 2018


The nights are closing in and it’s time to choose your Pick of the Month for October. Change is in the air and we have shortlisted two of the submissions for our National Poetry Day #Poetryforachange feature, excellent works from Jenny Hope and Angela Readman. But some things cannot be changed as we are movingly reminded by Nicholas McGaughey and Abegail Morley. And for Maggie Butt and Gboyega Odubanjo, some things that should change and can change, do not change quickly enough and we must remain vigilant.

Do, please, take the time to go through these six fine poems below (or click on ‘Vote for your October 2018 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.)

Please VOTE HERE. Voting will close at 9pm on Wednesday 14th November.

The winner each month will be sent a £10 book giftcard or, if preferred, a donation of the same amount will be made to a chosen charity. In the event of the winner being from outside the UK mainland, we will make every effort to provide a reasonable alternative. All shortlisted poetry Picks, provided they remain unpublished and meet other eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. (‘Frequency Violet’ by Kate Edwards was a Pick of the Month for November 2017 and has just been Highly Commended by the 2018 judges. It features in The Forward Book of Poetry 2019.)

Read More

Gopal Lahiri



First Birth

The two owls shout from the rooftop
A hurricane of bats flies around,
A father devours his own child in silence.

The rising stars struggle to breathe in
The first to go out in the dark is the slum boy
knowing no one is waiting,

A monster exchanges a bunch of flowers with a kid.

There are flutes and fiddle
A plenty of percussion stomping
The tram line is still wrapping the lone street dancer.

What if the moon melts away and shower silver coins
What if a blue-eyed cat start singing love song in a baritone.

The house and mansion drifts past each other
The pavement flies away, the lights turn dim
A martyr wears a joker hoodie,

The leaden sky seems to hold its breath,

We laugh, we cry, we break laws,
We have not been handcuffed, we have not been punished,

Slowly the night gives birth a poem in my secret diary page.




Gopal Lahiri was born, grew up and lives now in Kolkata, India. He is a bilingual poet, writer, editor, critic and translator and published in Bengali and English language. He has had seven collections of poems in Bengali and eight collections in English and edited one anthology of poems in English. @gopallahiri

Read More

Iain Twiddy



The Conker Trees

Wanging the stick up into the conker trees,
it seemed like the best ones hung just out of range,
bulging, like wrecking balls, unconquerable,
unshifted by wind, their stems unsnipped by sun.
Or if they fell, we must have still been in school,
or in at tea, having to help with something,
so it was just as if the stick had once more
pattered down amongst twigs and big flappy leaves.
It’s not like we didn’t have enough to thumb
open, to treasure like pebbles smoothed by sea;
it’s just they were better, they held a plenty,
the kind of heft I find myself reaching for
still in the mind’s higher canopy, as if
the pencil won’t fall flat, the page turn like a leaf.




Iain Twiddy studied literature at university, and lived for several years in northern Japan. His poems have been published in The Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The London Magazine, The Moth and elsewhere.

Read More

Martin Stannard



How Not to Start the Day

One should avoid at all costs
Ungodly hours such as 3.15 or 4.22 –
You are not a night-watchman
Unless of course you are a night-watchman
In which case you should read these instructions
During the night and not during the day
And do not start the day by watching a YouTube video
Featuring people who (apparently) do the same job as you
But are much more successful and have become household names
The day will seem to be a complete and utter waste of time
If you start it in this way
Do not start the day engaging in coitus
With your spouse, girl- or boyfriend, imaginary partner, or yourself
Sexual intercourse may seem like a good way to start a day
And until a certain age it is, but your author is old
So everything he says is coloured by too much painful experience
And when you are old sexual anything will leave you drained of energy
And somewhat unfit to face the rigours of the day fully-charged
So sexual kerfuffle is best left until last thing at night
Or by-passed altogether
(This matter will be dealt with more fully in
“How To End The Day”, a poem that may exist in the future)
And do not start the day in pseudo-epic-Homeric style
Throwing thy robe about thy gracious body
And thy cloak athwart thy ample shoulders
Just put on your dressing gown like an ordinary Joe
This is not ancient Greece and you are not epic
Although your worries and woes may feel that way
When you start the day
And if you start the day in the wrong way
You have only yourself to blame take my advice
Take my advice
Do not start the day in thrall to anyone
You may go to sleep like that
(Although it’s not recommended) but do not continue
In the morning where you left off last night
The day is new so be new too
Or at least be the best version of yourself you can be
Do not  start the day worrying about the weather
Or whether or not people like you of course
People like you and don’t like you in various degrees
Ranging from love and admiration to pure loathing
Do not start the day worrying about things
That don’t matter
The air is full of what might happen
But it’s rarely worth thinking about and if you do think about it
Keep it short there’s an entire day ahead of you
And if by accidental chance you start the day
With a rottweiler dragging you to the floor with glee
Or God in Old Testament vengeance mode growls Good Morning
Voiceless but you hear him anyway
You don’t need me to tell you this is not a good way to start the day –
The best way to start the day is to

[awaiting completion – one needs to be more than wide awake to write this stuff]




Martin Stannard‘s most recent full-length collection is Poems for the Young at Heart (Leafe Press, 2016) and a chapbook, Items, was published by Red Ceilings in August.

Read More

Robert Etty




Powerless in Town at Half-Past Nine

The pharmacist in her white coat and I
are conducting a £4.99 transaction
when the power’s cut off all over town.
With her cash tray exposed in the strange false dusk
she fumbles me five pound coins and a penny,
and tells me how lucky I am.
I’m working this out when a twilit voice calls,
‘We’re so sorry – would you all leave?’

As far as a shopper’s eye can’t see,
the rest of the shops are in twilight as well.
Shop assistants decline to assist
and shepherd customers back from their counters,
apologising for being ungracious
as shades of Schadenfreude descend.
Power being granted’s taken for granted,
acknowledged only when it won’t jump at
the finger snap of a switch or a socket.
Right now, for instance, no one can spend,
and purchasing’s the spice of life, that gives it
all its flavour.  Tills have ceased chinging,
purses have clamped and jaws have fallen open.
The power to prevent has wielded itself
and preventing it wasn’t an option.
Life’s wired for such possibilities,
but possible’s not the same as frequent,
and any unlikelihood’s always likely
if no one thinks it is.  (The library lends books
on chance and frequency, but its computers
are down.)
In a flash, like a blessing,
disconnections are reconnecting
and power surges in on a rush of current.
Reenergised, we get back to business,
contactlessly, with acceptable PINs,
empowered to overfill baskets and trolleys,
or say, ‘It’s nice, but no thank you.’
Power plays, power points and power showers,
so more power once more to everyone’s elbow,
tappable into omnipotently.
The balance of power has tipped in our favour,
but storing an elbowsworth might make sense,
in the light of the chance of a lights-out.



Robert Etty lives in Lincolnshire. His most recent collection, Passing the Story Down the Line, was published by Shoestring Press in 2017.


Read More