Kenneth Pobo




At the State Fair

I wander.  Caloric food stops me.
Sometimes there’s good music.
This year a man in a black shirt

plays a country guitar in front
of a shining ferris wheel.
He sings about love, it’s endless,

which I guess makes it real.  Even
the universe isn’t endless.  Trillions
of years are barely a handshake.

On the ferris wheel I rise
above crowds.  Strapped in,
I can’t wander.  I toss my decisions

to the moon.  At the top
we sit for maybe a minute.
It’s endless.  Will we ever drift

back to the ground?  Suspension.
Voices well below our feet.  Night
like a roof about to cave in.



Kenneth Pobo has a new book out from Assure Press called Uneven Steven.  His work has appeared in: Brittle Star, Hawaii Review, Amsterdam Quarterly, Orbis, and elsewhere.

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Matt Pitt





My dad when driving
liked to read out
road signs, shop signs
or the shouty, foot-high
letters on advertising boards.
Recently I’ve started
doing this myself.
My children find it weird
and slightly annoying.
When I speak the words
I can hear my father’s voice,
feel his facial expressions
fitted on mine
like a sort of mask.
His tone was always brisk,
jovial, according equal
stress and volume
to each individual word.
He died five years ago
in a box room in Felixstowe,
not knowing his own name.
The dementia set in
after he turned eighty
but sometimes I think
he was slipping away
long before that.
Married, mostly secure,
his worldly ambitions
forgotten or achieved,
he’d developed a sense
of life as random,
perfunctory, half-comical.
Then again I might be
totally wrong about this.



Matt Pitt is a poet and screenwriter. He has previously published in Acumen, Ambit, Ink Sweat & Tears, London Magazine, Prole and Under the Radar. His second feature film, Man of Sorrows, is scheduled to start shooting in early 2021.

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Emma Neale





At the end of a sunny parquet corridor:
the shock of mud dumped
on the pristine, polished floor.

Closer in, vision adjusts;
the lump seems like a salt-rasp sob
that clots the building’s throat.

Dread-dense as a sea mine,
heavy as a bell cut dumb,
little ditched anchor of gone away,

the baby crouches, sleep-sunk
as if in air’s last sweet under-layer
as the planet burns.

No eyes, but it sucks a thumb
that our own tongues know
would give the blunt, cold tang of flint

like the jungle-bars we licked at school,
even taste like the salted-plum
of lips split by a swing’s chain-links.

Though my own sons are old enough to lift —
one even to raise —
this earth-brown lostling,

she seems like a cast taken
of grief’s naked wail,
the raw howl of denial

of the void space
in a child’s form
that makes a vilomah.

It’s all I can do not to clutch her dark ice mouth
to breasts that sting with milk’s phantom,
drawn because I’m her alloy;

all I can do not to rock and cry
as when my own sons made day break
with the red-hot radicles of their spines

that shed me  — peach flesh parted on stone,
agate cored with fire — as together we strove
for them both to enter

the shape and light of their names
that seem now to speak
in love’s translation

for keep, for safe and sound, for found.



Emma Neale is the author of six novels and six collections of poetry. She works as an editor and is the recent recipient of the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award for a Distinguished Contribution to New Zealand Poetry. Website:


Note: After Antony Gormley’s cast iron sculpture ‘Found’, often also called the Iron Baby, exhibited at the Foundling Museum, London

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Hélène Demetriades





Trailing the outer path of Regent’s Park like a half-lit ghost
grieving the foetus I’ve shed
I crawl under the skirts of a pink rhododendron.

I enter a womb of writhing branches, humming blooms,
pink filtering light.

A bee homes in on my dress as if I too were a blossom.
The O of my ovum shudders, dilates. It will swallow the Earth.



Hélène  Demetriades‘ poetry can be found in Envoi, Obsessed with Pipework, Poetry Shed, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Snakeskin, The Ofi Press, Eunoia Review, Allegro, Clear Poetry, The Curlew, Sarasvati. She’s been highly commended by Patience Agbabi in Marsden The Poetry Village Competition.

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Andrew Shields



The Bus Pulls Up

The bus pulls up
at the curb beside
the half-smoked cigarettes,
a single rain-soaked woolen
glove, and two face
masks, one with peacocks,
the other with Pikachu.



Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His collection of poems Thomas Hardy Listens to Louis Armstrong was published by Eyewear in June 2015. His band Human Shields released the album Somebody’s Hometown in 2015 and the EP Défense de jouer in 2016.Twitter: @ShieldsAndrew  Blog:


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Michael Bloor





Case No. 1991/203

Witness – Full Name: Ianthe Jane Frobisher-Forbes
Address: 1 Priory Lane, Old Basing, Basingstoke

I first met Jason on Johnny Antrobus’s yacht at St. Tropez  in July, 1990. I didn’t know at first that he was from the Alpha Centauri star system: he told me he was from St. Albans. Both I and my friend, Mandy, thought he was very good-looking. But I later learned that the authorities in Alpha Centauri had been monitoring Earth communications for many years and had modelled Jason’s looks on Elvis Presley, President Kennedy, and the guy that plays Indiana Jones.
On the last day of the holiday I discovered that he had very strange genitalia. When I told Mandy about it, she reckoned Jason was an alien. I thought she was jealous because Jason hadn’t got off with her. And, besides, Jason had told me that he loved me and would come and visit me in Basingstoke; he had a red MG convertible.
In the autumn, Jason gave up his job as an investment banker to work full-time for the Conservative Party. Then, in November, the party got rid of Mrs Thatcher. Jason seemed to take this very hard.
It was around this time that I noticed his addiction to wine gums, especially the black and red ones. One night he got absolutely sloshed on Esther our cook’s black currant cordial. That’s when he told me about Alpha Centauri. Apparently, they don’t have black currants there.
Anyway, it was that same night that he told me that Mrs Thatcher was also from Alpha Centauri. I didn’t take it too seriously then, as he wasn’t really making a lot of sense at the time. He spent most of the evening talking about the economics of an import business in Alpha Centauri, importing British wine gums.
Not long after that, the cook gave her notice and Jason dumped me for her. She’s 37, for Chrissakes. Something to do with her blackcurrant jam.
Mandy said I ought to come to the police station to tell you about Alpha Centauri. Mummy and Daddy won’t be very pleased. But Mandy said I should do it for England.

I believe the facts stated in this witness statement are true.
Signed: I.J. Frobisher-Forbes



Michael Bloor now lives in Dunblane, Scotland, where he has discovered the exhilarations of short fiction, with more than fifty pieces published in Ink Sweat & Tears, Everyday Fiction, The Copperfield Review, Litro Online, Firewords, The Drabble, Spelk, Moonpark Review and elsewhere.

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