Ginny Darke




Lying to my Therapist

I’m good.

There’s a television channel selling me photocopiers and it makes me feel good. There’s a political crisis in the Maldives and I feel good. The selection of plant-based milks at my local supermarket make me feel good. The Radio Times, the sound of a flute, the receptionist typing up my details all makes me feel good. The silver dog statues on the mantelpiece make me feel great and the real dogs in the play park make me feeling fucking amazing. The dripping tap makes me grin, the egg white froth clouds make me weep with joy and the plumper who came to fix my dripping tap- I am in love with him. Every shoelace brings me utter ecstasy and the stone in my shoe brings me unmeasurable measures of pleasure. The piled up plates, the empty cans of tuna, the sacrificial killings of women, the stereoscope, the rising sea levels, the nettles who bit the curious baby, the body bag under my bed, the bear like man who comes into my room at night and offers me a selection of bingo dabbers and when I deny, he screams, and that makes me feel happy.



Ginny Darke is a poet and student who lives in Wales, United Kingdom. She was shortlisted for the 2018 Foyle Young Poets Competition and her work has been published with Cambridge University based zines and Poetry Northern Ireland. Her poetry can be read at

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Samuel Wilson-Fletcher




Night Out

man stands drunk on the bridge
leaning over the water
like a streetlamp

the light drops
is scattered like gold coins
on the black water

a DNA double helix of gold
turned by the water’s teeth

isn’t it frightening
how soon beneath the skin lie the muscles

a bag of red boas

a man grabs a woman
she’s laughing
he’s laughing
he wrenches her close

a man stands drunk
on the bridge
his golden head glowing

his hands go out
his head drops
he bows
and the light races out over the water
like a fuse



Samuel Wilson-Fletcher writes poetry and fiction. He studied chemistry and physics at Oxford before starting his PhD at Harvard. He now works at the German Research Centre for Geosciences, close to Berlin. Sam has also worked as a teacher, a waiter, and an electrician.


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August 2019 Pick of the Month. Vote Now!

The shortlist for August’s Pick of the Month is a feast for the senses. Breathe in Gregory Kearns‘ ‘Perfume’, feel the touch of cold in Aishwarya Raghu‘s ‘A Poem about Frost’ and learn ‘When to stop eating chalk’ from Paul Grant. Taste supper with Ashleigh Davies‘ ‘Apollo’; hold Stephanie Limb‘s ‘Pearl’ tight; listen into a ‘Wake up call’ from Finola Scott and note its aftertaste.

All six works have been chosen by Helen or Kate or received the most attention on social media. They can be found below or by clicking on ‘Vote for your August 2019 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Please VOTE HERE.  Voting will close at 9pm (BST) on Saturday 21st September.

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 was Highly Commended by the 2018 judges. It features in The Forward Book of Poetry 2019.)

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Cliff Forshaw





These days the permafrost is no such thing,
breeds crooked shoots, springs fingers. Ancient hands
reach out to us from ice through melting rings:
our histories disinterred from broken land.

Revenants with their bronze-age seeds, knapped flints,
vague hints of trade, origins, signs of plague.
Another hottest-summer-yet reveals
hieroglyphs embossed across the dusty fields:

earthworks, long barrows, some chieftain’s chilly tomb;
the migrant tucked into his alpine womb’s
shucked out unborn, as glaciers puddle into light.

The ice caps calve, the seas and vapours rise;
methane’s unlocking from its frozen sink.
Think things unleashed, the new abnormal, watch laden skies…




Cliff Forshaw has been writer-in-residence in California, France, Kyrgizstan, Romania and Tasmania, twice a Hawthornden Writing Fellow, and appeared at the International Poetry Festival, Nicaragua. Collections include Vandemonian (Arc, 2013), Pilgrim Tongues (Wrecking Ball, 2015) and Satyr (Shoestring, 2017).

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Rosie Jackson




The Ashmolean is Closed

We’ve Skyped a few times, he’s a Quaker, seems sane,
so I agree to a date, do Sudoku on the train,
meet him at the station with a head full of numbers
(eleventh hour, third age), we talk in code, walk
by the Thames, detour through the cemetery of Saint Sepulchre
where headstones crave permission to lie down.
When we reach the Quaker meeting house, which smells
of biscuits and philanthropy, he tells me there is no God,
while out in the streets, Oxford’s polish is wearing thin,
the pavements house more beggars than a rich city
should boast. Near the market, a homeless woman speaks
to him in tongues, he buys me over-sweet flapjack,
talks about his three wives, four sons, five dogs, six decades,
and when I look down, his flimsy shoes are not the footwear
to walk with me over hot coals, high mountains. I feel
my heart divide to keep itself company, suggest we go,
as planned, to the Ashmolean, where Botticelli surely
will redeem the day, Samuel Palmer will save me,
but when we get there, the museum’s closed – hasn’t he lived
in this shining city long enough to know the Ashmolean
shuts on Mondays? – so he takes me in his car to meander
past places where he’s worked – hospitals, institutions
for the less than fully sane, insists his patients loved him,
tells me tales that should be zipped into non-disclosure pants.
And I see him as an animal rolling, long after early retirement,
in the left-behind scent of other peoples’ lives –
their broken lives, their secrets – and the smell’s too much,
I rush to the train, dig out my unfinished Sudoku,
press into each remaining space my blessed singleness
one, one, one, one, one.



Rosie Jackson lives in Somerset. Publications include What the Ground Holds (2014), The Light Box (2016), The Glass Mother: A Memoir (2016). She won 1st prize at Wells, 2018. Two Rivers Press will publish Two Girls and a Beehive (poems about Spencer) in 2020.  


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Nikki Fine




Cost Benefit Analysis

Imagine walking into a deserted corridor
without the fear of cobwebs catching
in your hair or in your face.

Imagine running a bath without the need to
check first that there are
no occupants already.

Imagine sleeping at ease, no panic
that you will be unexpectedly joined
by an eight-legged cohabitant.


Imagine a warm day, with food
left out, coated in bluebottles,
rendering it at best hazardous.

Imagine clothes with nibbled holes, where
moth larvae have tucked in, unhampered
by a natural predator.

Imagine each corner of the house, dust
piled high, settled without being
suspended from a sticky filigree net.

And put down the shoe, the vacuum
cleaner, the newspaper, and learn
to appreciate benefits.



Nikki Fine is a former English teacher who now writes, sings and directs with local amateur groups. She has had work published in The Interpreter’s House and The Oxford Magazine, and self-published a poetry collection on the theme of quantum physics.

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