Laura Stanley





Tomorrow the birds reverse. Owls swing from branches, geese fly bellies to the sky, and  pigeons shuffle ‘round roads on their backs. Tomorrow twitter explodes. Soaring views on  videos. Televised debates. Think-pieces. Memes. Tomorrow David Attenborough’s phone  breaks. The day after tomorrow reverse is normal. New day. New trend. New hashtag. You  film the birds in sepia. Gold light crackles in the corners and long white lines, spider-web  thin, trickle down the screen and round, black patches bounce between the birds. You upload  the film with tomorrow’s date. You upload the film every day. This is not old news. There is  no precedent for birds reversing back.



Laura Stanley is a recent English with Creative Writing graduate. Her poems have been published in Impact Magazine, Voices by Nottingham Poetry Exchange and in Speak Up: An Anthology of Young Voices.

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Eilín de Paor




You, with the Lego Grip around your Pint

We feel you overseeing, through the thrashing of the dancers –
weighing, sizing, rating like a coil-sprung cat.

From the comfort of your bar stool, your scalpel gaze dissects us,
discards the parts deemed failings, carves out our choicest meat.

The music warps and buckles, loses rhythm with our movement,
the joy that we inhabit chips and blisters at the edge.

We shrink back to the shadows at the corners of the dance floor,
in a huddle of protection, shame leadening our legs.

You move on to your next batch for quality assessment.
Take a draught of liquid from your hot-hand smutted glass.



Eilín de Paor lives in Dublin and works in health and social care. Selected for The Stinging Fly Summer School 2019, she has had poems published by Algebra of Owls and The Organic Poet and one upcoming in The Stony Thursday Book. Twitter: @edepaor

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Lucy Ashe





For hundreds of years
I’ve been trying to get out
That door. The front door.
The one onto the High Street.

At the end of the Dark Ages
I make my first attempt. But
Gilded net cauls, caging my ears,
Catch on the door frame.

I try again, dressed like a queen,
White lead setting my face in stone.
But a ruff, layers of lace, press
Into my throat, and I panic,

My breath short. I don’t give up.
Dressed in Rococo paniers, corset,
A hoop skirt, I approach the door.
Hips wide, crinoline cage shield.

But I crash, bouncing back,
Powder fluttering like snow
From my towering wig. I breathe
Relief in my empire line dress,

Draped in muslin, stretch
A foot out, slowly, but the rain
Soaks me, and I trip on my soiled
Skirts. A man outside laughs.

Did I hope he would rescue me,
carry me back to the drawing room? I
Stand again. This time in bloomers,
My legs bounding in time

To calisthenics.  I dance in frills, feathers,
Hem lines rise above my knees, small
Steps, in the doorway, breaking
Through to the porch.

My wardrobe spills out around
My bed. I sift floral mini dresses,
Flared jeans, crop tops, sweeping
Skirts. I pull on something,

Anything, my feet ready
In trainers, and stride to the door.
Young lady, where do you think
You are going dressed like that?



Lucy Ashe is an English teacher. She writes reviews for and currently has a feminist dystopian novel out on submission to agents. Her poetry and prose is soon to be published in Truffle Literary Magazine and 192, Poets’ Directory.  Twitter: @LSAshe1

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Emily Bell




A night at St Thomas’ Church, Friarmere

At first
I’m afraid of the church’s dark eyes,
thick leaded lines drawn chaotically
in illegible strokes against
dull brightness, darkness visible
within and without. I can’t enter here—

In daylight
it’s no better. A hint of rouge
on an old face, reflective, giving little away.
But this time, through stained lips I go;
a taste of something bleeding,
fractured glass swallowed whole

And then
the world seduces me from its narrowness.
Coloured irises breach the threshold, portals
between caged souls and the living, sun-grown
moor; completeness in pieces, the bones
of the wide earth fused into meaning, into
iridescence; beautifully, joyfully, broken.




Dr Emily Bell is a writer and historian, based in Loughborough, UK. She’s currently writing a new biography of Charles Dickens for Reaktion Books, and she’s been published in Ink Pantry, Wellington Street Review, and elsewhere. She tweets at @EmilyJLB.

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Anjana Basu




Sunday Thunder

Something is angry
behind the blue sunlit sky
a growl
crows fluttering in confusion and the wind tugging at my heels

The scowl overhead
Night growl from the blackness beyond
something is angry

Something behind the sky is angry
though nature says
it is a healing time
the river runs clear and the mountains
unveil their peaks
this is a time of buds and bird calls
and yes a pigeon
pacing on a marble floor
the earth moves slow, the stillness grows
and then the rumble
behind the starlight blotted thin
in sheets of white the angry night
of the maker or alien event horizon
we are all stardust or so we were
the crows fly up and scatter
our ashes to the night
ashes to ashes
dust to stardust.

in the darkness
the tiger paces
a rumble in its throat.



Born in Allahabad, schooled for a time in the UK, Anjana Basu has to date published 9 novels and 2 books of poetry, The Chess Players and Other Poems from Writers Workshop and Picture Poems and Word Seasons from Authorpress. Her first poem was chosen for the Illustrated Weekly by the then Poetry Editor Kamala Das. Her poems have appeared in an anthology brought out by Penguin India. Since then she has featured in Kunapipi, The Blue Moon Review, The Phoenix Review, The Ginosco Review, the Salzburg Review, Prosopisia and Indian Literature, to name a few.  Most recently she was published in Muse, an anthology of NE poets

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Bert Molsom




Beside the Clun 10th March

No bright sun this morning
to paint the tops of the valley houses.
The edges of the view
blurred by the stagnant mist.

Dawn is still recognised by birds,
pheasants defining their territory,
robin, blackbird, thrush
startled by my approach.

The stream flows quickly,
draining the valley
of the night’s rain,
unchanged by the light.

There’s white foam
caught in a whirlpool
at the edge of the stream,
behind drowned roots.

The oxbow separates
the road from the hills.
Hoof-tracks cross the field
blocked by the work of moles.

As the path fades
I follow trails in the dew,
the light-footed maker
long gone.

I walk up to the road,
the sound of water fades
as the stream sinks back
in to its valley.



Bert Molsom retired early to become an apprentice poet, fully understanding apprenticeships last a long time! He has been long-listed for the Bridport Prize, won Poetry on Loan 2016 and his work has been published by Anthropocene, Ink Sweat & Tears, Acumen and The Ekphrastic Review (USA)

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Jenny Hockey




Holiday Cottage

Remember I sat on the grass
and sobbed, dust coating
the shack’s three rooms,

its festering rugs? Dishes
not done. A valley view?
All we could see was the wood

and a lav in a hut
fifty yards off. Water
fetched from a stream

and nappies sagging
for days in the rain,
our son not quite trained.

Remember the blackness  
that curtained the door,
nothing to light the night

but gas  ̶  our matches
ripping the mantles’ silk.
Nothing to mop a floor.

Remember blackbirds at dawn
— the valley vast with song.



Jenny Hockey is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Sheffield University. Her poems were first published in 1985 and her debut collection, Going to bed with the moon appeared in 2019 (

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