Matt Duggan




The Ghosts of Devon

I see the clash of sea
Shining rock of dead black
Broken bark cracking the weeping shorelines
a crumbled gun-turret above the beautiful belly of Torcross;
faint circles of white trailed blue
whirlpools fading into depth.

I see a ghostly old sea village
Souls of fishing women – Field of daisy picker,
I journey  the battered coastline,
Sip from cloudy glass of apple
Seagulls feed on chip pebbles while the smoke of hand rolled tobacco
Inhaled the brutal silence;

Leaves float like sequins that hang
Circling a sky humbled by vicious twists,
A crooked aerial like a falling angel
bludgeoned on the surface of mapped ether.






Born 1971, Bristol U.K. Matt Duggan won the erbacce prize for poetry in 2015 with his new collection Dystopia 38.10 (erbacce-press) he has appeared in The Seventh Quarry, The Journal, The Syzygy Poetry Journal, The Linnet’s Wings, Lakeview International Lterary Journal, The High Window, Of/With:Journal of Immanent Renditions. Matt also runs a poetry evening in Bristol titled Page and Performance and is the co-editor of The Angry Manifesto.

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Michael Bloor



Happy Birthday, Dear Madame Blavatsky                                                      

She didn’t think things could get much better. Madame Blavatsky blew out all the candles on the cake, closed her eyes and wished. Each of the encircling adepts then extinguished their own single candles. A cloud crossed the lambent Sicilian moon, she breathed in a mixture of incense and mountain thyme. The ceremony had reached its climax. Aleister Crowley rose up from his oaken throne, cast his eyes upward and uttered a short prayer to Horus. The entire assembly stood in reverent silence. Apart from the goat.

Crowley then took a step nearer to the Unicursal Hexagram that had been incised on the flat-topped limestone boulder. Unluckily, in the shadows, he collided with L. Ron Hubbard, crushing Hubbard’s toes beneath his glass-beaded sandal. Hubbard groaned and inadvertently released his hold on the goat. The goat should perhaps have escaped at this point, but leaping away in alarm from Hubbard’s groans and curses, it only succeeded in thumping into the massive posterior of Lord Tankerville, who was shaken but not stirred. The stunned goat was then instantly recaptured by W.B. Yeats. However, a great glob of hot wax from Lord Tankerville’s extinguished candle spilled onto Madame Blavatsky.  Naked as she was, the hot wax caused her to send up an animal howl of shock and rage, which would have surprised her old Tibetan Lama-Instructor. Crowley made a mental note concerning Blavatsky’s probable unsuitability for sado-masochistic rituals.

The shredding cloud tore away from the moon’s face and ghastly light returned to the pagan grove. In a compelling voice, Crowley called for the ceremonial blade. Gerald Brousseau Gardner stepped forward into the circle, wearing his newly-designed Wiccan robes (golden sickles, sprigs of mistletoe, and wreaths of oak-leaves, all on a pink background).

‘Hast thou the blade, O Scire?’

Gardner, bowed his head and produced a long-bladed knife from the folds of his robe.

A ragged chorus murmured: ‘He has the blade! He has the blade!’

‘A terrible beauty is born!’ (this last was from Yeats).

Crowley received the knife and, with a bow, passed it to Madame Blavatsky. Blavatsky began to utter a long, hissing incantation in a strange tongue. The adepts listened in awed silence. The strangely passive goat gazed upward at the long, glittering knife. Dennis Wheatley averted his eyes.

In one flashing movement, the knife plunged downward. And sliced the cake – icing, marzipan and all.



Michael Bloor has previously published essays and poems, but has recently discovered the exhilaration of short fiction, with one previously published piece, in Breve New Stories.





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Our Pick of the Month for September 2016 is ‘Leda Meets Helen’ by Angharad Walker


A surge in voting in the final hours saw Angharad Walker just pip her nearest rival at the post with her moving ‘Leda Meets Helen’, a superb example of how much can be said in only a few words.

Angharad graduated from the University of Warwick with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing in 2013. She lives and works in London.

She has asked that her £10 prize be donated to the Pembroke Unit Fund of the Salisbury District Hospital Stars Appeal


Leda Meets Helen

She is fresh on this globe from my globed belly and I am too scared to look. I dread the moment she opens her eyes. She could have his black beads.

I unwrap her. Not a feather in sight. I turn her over and over with delight, run my fingers over her human down. Her toes are angular, unwebbed. Her neck cannot hold up her head. Her lips are soft, pink, unfed.

I will never teach her to swim.

I will never dress her in white.



Voters comments included:

The story behind the brevity is compelling – full of contradictory feelings of fear and attraction. Stunning compression of language.

A whole world, a whole myth, and what it’s like to greet your newborn, in so few words. A beautiful poem!

I like the uncertain direction of the poem.

It really spoke to my heart.

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Danielle Pegg




Right Now

Right now would be good.
If you don’t mind.
I’ve been waiting a while.
A typhoon of time.
Awful, rolling hills and burning distant meadows.
Gut spills and floating shadows.
Pink clouds in the city, edged with dirt.
Sweat stains in the armpits of my shirt.
And a chill.
All of it.

Any time soon.
If you could hurry it up.
It’s been forever since I felt stable enough.
The moon is mad,
pouring mustard across my cheeks when they are wet.
I tend to fret.
Lest the blinking stars
All of me.

I thought I was waiting
for something.
But no. It’s just part of the game.
Like Twister.
Sometimes you’re stuck, in a position of pain.
And then suddenly you’re arching and warping
and dancing to the music.
It’s all fiction
And we’re are all stories
All of everything.






Danielle Pegg has been published by Forward Poetry, United Press and Chuffed Buff Books and was long listed for the Great British Write Off 2014. She blogs at You can follow her via twitter @scrambledpegg.

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Taylor Edmonds






The creature found me in Hensol Forest
during my sixteenth summer
I didn’t eat anything that wasn’t blueberry flavoured
for two weeks and three days

It lived in a wood cabin with a log fire
and floorboards that creaked under my weight
We ate blueberry pie together with our bare hands
My blue legs crossed on a matted fur rug
with rust-coloured stains on the underneath

I bathed with blueberries
burst open their plump skin
and left a blue-black stain on the cast-iron rim of the bathtub

The creature slept in a room
with tree roots grounded into the floor
Trunks stretched their arms across the walls
As we entered their crooked fingers unfolded

A bluebird sang a song I did not recognise




I sleep in an oval wicker-basket
with a knitted tartan blanket
to keep my blue skin warm
I am like a newborn kitten
drowsy in my slumber

I wake to a bunch of painted roses
with thorns that prick at my fingertips
The creature collects drops of my blood
in a glass jar with the name Blue
engraved into its curves

I have my place on the oak shelves
next to the rows of other glass gars
coated with thick smears of dry blood
The creature wears his fur red
around his mouth

Taylor Edmonds is a Creative Writing student at the University of Gloucestershire living in Cheltenham, originally from Wales. She has been published by I am Not a Silent Poet.

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Messages: John Kitchen for National Poetry Day



I monster
interred in this endlessness
0f millstone lowest of light & slimy slip
snubbles and inchety scrittles

they’re poor distraction
I wait to feel the air waver
from prayerbleats and panic blunderings
so easy to track

then come amusetime
touchy with my filthy clawtip
tease with flylight tickle-breath till
hungerguts and bloodycrunch

but it’s always a chickadilly soft-being
no challenge-me
no quick-sword cleverboy to versus
my tooth-claw death-squash

this perplexes
never known such a thing in before time
thin thready longalong winding-round-the-tunnels stuff
someone to me send messages


John Kitchen’s poems have appeared in various magazines including From Dusk to Dawn and Here Comes Everyone. He is a retired headteacher.

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