Jacqueline Burdett – Michael W. Thomas

Jacqueline Burdett

We were in the same class
at primary school.  Shared
the same birthday.  One year
were told to stand up
so the room could sing
and toast the nothing we’d done.

Slight, she was, freckled:
tawny keeps coming to mind.
Already bringing on a bit of a stoop
to oblige the afterwards.

You’d glimpse her
slipping out to play,
edging the shadows
of the manager’s son
and the town-clerk’s daughter.

She answered each question perfectly
then retrieved her stillness,
putting the world away from her
till called upon again.

She rarely smiled,
perhaps never,
certainly not the day she and I
held an end apiece of coincidence,
like a pageant-flag
golden from a brush of sun
fluttered in a pocket of wind.


Michael W. Thomas’s poetry collections include Batman’s Hill, South Staffs (Flipped Eye, 2013) and Come to Pass (Oversteps, 2015).  His work has appeared in The Antioch Review and the TLS.  In 2015, his novella, ‘Esp’, was shortlisted for the UK Novella Award.

Coupes – Gaynor Kane


A stag’s head, looks down
through soulless sockets,
focuses on fuchsia,
mother-of-pearl sequins;
a gown, self-spun
from fifty yards of net.

Black gloves, holding
a single daffodil
at the Floral Hall.
In champagne coupes
baby bubbles bounce;
reflecting light
like a mirror ball.

A hand reaches over,
pulls a puff of pink
across the dance-floor;
they spin
laughing and talking
until birds sing.

Then you were caught,
the net trawled in,
Fifty years on,
you are silent, stagnant,


Previously published in A New Ulster

Gaynor Kane is from Belfast, Northern Ireland and has had work published in the Galway Review and other journals. In 2016 she was a finalist in both the annual Funeral Services NI poetry competition and The Glebe House poetry competition.

Mixtapes – Kate Garrett


Three-part punk harmonies
introduced her to poetry,
and the older boys insisted
she take their mixtapes
with their phone numbers
slipped inside the cases.

An escape into plastic castles
of folk and rock, industrial,
grunge, and hip hop. They gave
her the sound of second-hand shop
clothes. They handed over
promises of something more
than her home-grown apathy.

Promised more than the midnight reels
of pornography that bruised
like stones between her bones and skin.


Kate Garrett’s poetry has been widely published, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and longlisted for a 2016 Saboteur Award. However, while her poetry is busy doing stuff, Kate bums around reading books and hanging out with her children. Stalk her on Twitter at @mskateybelle.

Nether Stowey – Marc Woodward

Nether Stowey

The finches of the land stood sentinel
to grazing flocks of Suffolk Black Faced sheep.
They drove, top down, her hair tied back and capped,
past crumpled meadows strewn like lovers’ sheets.

They never kissed or held each other’s hands,
he didn’t shake and she forgot her ills,
instead they wound through undulating lands,
and headed north to hike the Quantock hills.

At Coleridge’s house they wondered where
he kept his laudanum; sat at his desk;
strolled knowing Sam and William once walked there…
A perfect day. The doctors ordered rest.


Marc Woodward is a musician and poet who has performed and taught internationally and been widely published.
A Fright Of Jays was published by Maquette in 2015 and he has just completed a full collection The Tin Lodes written in collaboration with renowned poet Andy Brown.
His blog is at www.marcwoodwardpoetry.blogspot.co.uk
Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Marcwoodwardmandolin

The Day I Rescued a Merman – Jennie Farley

The Day I Rescued a Merman
I found him washed up on the beach
slumped against the coastguard station.
His face was beautiful like the carving of a god,

his chest bronzed though streaked with salt.
I sat down beside him and gently stroked
his tail.  It wasn’t slithery, but warm and dry,

the scales glittering like his sea glass eyes.
I took him home for a fish supper.  We slouched
on the sofa, licking our fingers.  I’d hoped for

tales of buried ship treasure, mermaids, whales,
but he didn’t speak, just smiled.  I ran him a bath,
testing for sea chill with my elbow.  He slid down

in the water, folded his tail over the side,
closed his eyes.  I like to think he found pleasure
in the scented bubbles, in the love songs I crooned to him.


Jennie Farley is a published poet, workshop leader and teacher. Her poetry has featured in many magazines including New Welsh Review, Under the Radar, The Interpreter’s House, Prole. Her latest collection My Grandmother Skating is published by Indigo Dreams Publishing 2016.  Jennie founded and runs NewBohemians@CharltonKings providing regular events of poetry, performance and music at deepspaceworks art centre. She lives in Cheltenham.

Paul Robeson at the County Theatre Haverfordwest, South Wales, May 1st, 1938 – Robert Nisbet

Paul Robeson at the County Theatre
Haverfordwest, South Wales, May 1st , 1938

They’ve known for years the simplest evenings out,
church socials, shilling dances and the flicks.
Hepburn and Boyer playing Break of Hearts,
and Garbo as Karenina, Will Hay
in some daft farce, Temple in Stowaway,
Astaire and Rogers dancing through Top Hat.

And now celebrity. His name rings sounds
of fame and wonder and exotica
and all that sings of marvels up the line.
A mile from town, doorways in Prendergast
flutter with waves and welcomes at the sense
that here, in flesh and voice, entering town,
we have a burnished legend. Down in town,
crowds mill, the man is warm, signs autographs.
They love him, they applaud.

                                                          The concert starts:
a famed soprano singing Handel airs,
a Milford schoolboy playing violin.
And then the sad lament of Shenandoah
and Go Down, Moses. Robeson’s rumbling voice
cossets and captivates, until the night,
pregnant with novelty, swells up in love,
to clasp and clap and touch their gentle guest.
Then Ol’ Man River is his final gift.

They’ll thrill, for years, to Robeson’s plunging bass,
sounding the sad deep river of his race.


Previously published in ‘Roundyhouse’ 13, (2005)

Robert Nisbet, from Pembrokeshire, taught English in grammar and comprehensive schools and later taught creative writing at Trinity College, Carmarthen. He has had hundreds of poems published in Britain, dozens in the USA and a couple in India.

Public Bar, Central Hotel – Julia Webb

Public Bar, Central Hotel

Bill, swivelling on his stool to get a better look at your cleavage.
Bill, who tells you: you are the type of girl men have affairs with.
Bill, whose hand moves to his flies as he speaks.
Bill, whose leather car seats smell of suntan lotion.
Bill, who plays you like a drum, a flute.
Bill, who truth to tell – what truth might that be?
Bill, who by rights shouldn’t.
Bill, his hand sneaking up your skirt.
Bill, who plans to retire with a caravan and a Jack Russell.
Bill, suburban, slacked and uncompromising.
Bill, shorter than you, but you pretend not to notice.
Bill, who promised you nothing but dry-heaves in a pub toilet.
Bill, too cheap even for a cheap hotel.
Bill, who silent-fucks you in the car park behind the bins.
Bill, who won’t look you in the eye but buys you another vodka and orange.
Bill, twizzling his pinkie ring and thinking about his wife.
Bill, sheepskin jacket on, heading home.
Bill, once, you said, and that was the second time.


Julia Webb graduated from UEA’s poetry MA in 2011. She has had work in various journals and anthologies. Her first Collection “Bird Sisters” was published by Nine Arches Press in 2016. She is a poetry editor for Lighthouse.

Argus Fish Bar, Bedminster – Ben Banyard

Argus Fish Bar, Bedminster

Queued first along the steamed window,
or out of the door in the cold some nights,

then the shiny cabinet-topped counter
glowing with battered sausages, mushy pea fritters,
Clark’s pies, cod, haddock, plaice.

Jim’s dad opened this place in the 50s,
his customers are like members.

Knows their names and stories,
asks after kids, jobs, test results
from his station at the fryer
as the ladies heap chips on paper.

Salt and vinegar with that, my love?
Wrapped up or left open?

The photo Martin Parr took one lunchtime,
pride of place above the pickled onions,
captured Jim and his queue,

framed something familiar, ordinary.
Made art of it forever.


Ben Banyard grew up in Birmingham but now lives near Bristol. His pamphlet, ‘Communing’, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2016, and his first full collection, ‘We Are All Lucky’, is due out early in 2018. Ben also edits Clear Poetry: https://clearpoetry.wordpress.com and blogs at https://benbanyard.wordpress.com


At Eighteen – Beth McDonough

At Eighteen

This birthday slippers in,
scuffs autumn’s first frost.
You exist, fragile in rowan leaves
veined into pavements. Whatever I lift
rips a little, risks more loss. New damp glues
your thinning reality close, holds you
unique among so many walked-on patterns.

Cobbled to here, the road slows
an uneven ahead, which now
runs into breathless space.
Though branches collar October,
a throat opens to sing the firth’s
floated celebratory light.


Beth McDonough trained in Silversmithing at GSA, completing her M.Litt at Dundee University. Writer in Residence at Dundee Contemporary Arts 2014-16, her poetry appears in Agenda, Causeway and Antiphon and elsewhere and her reviews in DURA.

Handfast  (with Ruth Aylett), Mother’s Milk Books, 2016 charts family experiences – Aylett’s of dementia and McDonough’s of autism.

On seeing Bredon – Sharon Larkin

On seeing Bredon

I used to sneak into my parents’ room
in Hinton-on-the-Green and root around
the dusty fluff on dressing table tops
and sense unmentionable stuff in drawers.

Then as the sixties spread their thighs
and I grew bold, I rifled tallboys on a whim
and seized what I’d been searching for:
the Penguin edition, orange, a phoenix
leaping from the flames
among the lacy underwear.

My mother’s smuggled copy of the book
seemed to cock a snook at father’s Bible,
black and gold and splayed
upon the bedside table.

On hearing creaking stairs,
I thrust rough Mellors back
among the petticoats with Constance
and with no time to scuttle to my room,
leant elbows on the window sill instead
to worship Bredon in the summer dusk.
My father seemed to find this plausible.

Now, as my life of adult subterfuge
and sin chugs in from Paddington once more
and Bredon Hill comes back into my view,
I venerate that sly old crocodile again,
complicit, half-exposed and basking in its sea of green,
jaws still gently menacing the Combertons.


Sharon Larkin’s work appears in anthologies (Cinnamon, Eyewear); magazines (Prole, Obsessed with Pipework) and on-line (Ink, Sweat & Tears, Clear Poetry). She runs Cheltenham Poetry Café, chairs Cheltenham Poetry Society, edits Good Dadhood, has a CW MA and loves Wales. Website: http://sharonlarkinjones.wordpress.com