Waiting outside the gynae-oncology ward during the Olympics – Rebecca Gethin

Waiting outside the gynae-oncology ward during the Olympics

In Rio, it’s women’s beach volleyball. Beside me,
a woman is wearing a gown and white compression socks.

The athletes in Rio have tiny shorts and bikini tops.
We nod to one another. A man is glued to the women

in Rio as if interested in who wins and loses.
He’s here because I’m scared, she mutters.

We flick through our mobiles – no signal. In Rio,
bodies are lithe, feet and toes bare on the sand. Upstairs

they’re in scrubs while we stare at the match in Rio
without any understanding of the rules.


Rebecca Gethin:  All the Time in the World (Cinnamon Press) and A Sprig of Rowan (Three Drops Press) were both published in 2017. An earlier collection and two novels were published by Cinnamon.  She runs the Poetry School’s monthly seminars in Plymouth, has been a Hawthornden Fellow and her website is www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com


Thé avec Imogen et toi – Sharon Larkin

Thé avec Imogen et toi

It’s exquisite torture sitting this close to you in polite company
with the restraint of Earl Grey and amuse-bouches on a doily

when what I think I’d like is you, alone, and a slug of vin rouge,
our tongues entertaining more than each other’s ears

on some good old-fashioned shag pile
somewhere other than Imogen’s bungalow.


Previously published in The Rat’s Ass Review – Love and Ensuing Madness, May 2016

Sharon Larkin has been widely published in anthologies, magazines and on-line  and has a pamphlet forthcoming from Indigo Dreams. She founded and edited the Good Dadhood poetry project, co-runs Poetry Café Refreshed and is Chair of Cheltenham Arts Council and Cheltenham Poetry Society.
Website: https://sharonlarkinjones.com/published-poems

On Good Days – Jonathan Humble

On Good Days

On good days, the voices were quiet.
He’d fumble the razor, indulge in muttered
early morning profanities, yet still wear
his hope like an old boxer’s dressing gown.

Water cascading over knotted hands,
temperature rising as the boiler kicked in,
he’d tickle the soap trout like a novice,
splashing water over threadbare slippers.

Thin ribbons of steam wafting upwards,
enfolding the air, would draw him towards
the mirror like an opponent’s face drifting
into focus, as abused senses slowly sharpened.

And noticing rain, he’d open the window,
listen, breathe, let the irritations abate,
feel the control return, while in the glass,
his reflection slowly misted over.

He might wipe the condensation away, look
for memories, distort the image, try to summon
different eyes, willing someone else
to the mirror than the one expected.

But on bad days, on days where the reflection
remained obscured, through early morning mist,
the eyes would have no hope;
he would wait for the voices to return.


Jonathan Humble is a teacher in Cumbria. He writes poetry and short stories. His stuff can be found in a number of different publications and on his poetry blogs ( https://jhpoetry.blogspot.co.uk and https://northernjim.wordpress.com ).

Relief – Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon


Coming down from high Chew Green,
my legs stretched, my rucksack back-stuck,
I hunger for chips and fresh-baked chicken pie
with ice-cold Guinness,
as my senses sing of hills and sky.

Journey almost done, my feet
slip-slide on greasy flagstones
when suddenly, I hear the gurgling burn
stitched with fretful baas.
I see a wean crying, stuck
knee-deep in oily bog-land mire.

And her dam blait alto-tones,
raucous and resigned
to the muddy loss of her bairn.

My boots stall
sucked down by sludge,
and thistles prick my legs
as I move slowly
to clutch the lamb
by her lanolined, rough-wool coat.

I heave hard.

Her eyes are blank, terror-misted,
and her black, bony hooves
jab sharply on my shins
as she glucks free, wobbles,
sneezes and stumbles to her mam.
Tired and splattered, I mind a time, way back:
when my own child returned with a stranger.



blait: Scots – to bleat
bairn and wean: Scots and Northern English – babies or the young
dam: farming term for livestock – mother

Ceinwen lives in Newcastle-upon- Tyne and writes short stories and poetry. She has been
published on internet sites and in print. She is currently completing her MA in Creative
Writing (Newcastle University) and embraces being slightly bonkers.

Featured Publication – #MeToo: A women’s poetry anthology – Edited by Deborah Alma

Our featured publication for March is #MeToo: A women’s poetry anthology, edited by Deborah Alma, published by Fair Acre Press.

A brand new collection of largely new work, that rose up directly out of the collective rage from the #MeToo campaign on social media around the world at the end of 2017.
These poems are painful, angry, often difficult to bear, but the result of these voices singing together is one that is beautiful, full of sisterhood, strength, and recovery.

“This book contains the poetry of necessity and truth, exploding into the light, where it goddamn belongs. Please read these poems and then decide in what order you want to 1) cry 2) march 3) scream with relief and recognition 4) grab a sword-pen and write your own.” Amanda Palmer

“This collection is quite the rollercoaster: it made me cry with sadness – and with joy. I salute the courage of the women who have shared the pain of sexual harassment in verse that is lyrical, poignant and powerful. And I am also grateful to those who have shared their more hopeful experience in the poems that conclude this brilliant anthology. They have managed to find resolution and peace – as will readers of this outstanding collection.” Rachel Kelly.



Body, Remember

Body, remember that night you pretended
it was a film, you had a soundtrack running
through your head, don’t lie to me body,
you know what it is.  You’re keeping it from me,
the stretched white sheets of a bed,
the spinning round of it, the high whining sound
in the head.  Body, you remember how it felt,
surely, surely.  You’re lying to me.  Show me
how to recognise the glint in the eye of the dog,
the rabid dog.  Remind me, O body, of the way
he moved when he drank, that dangerous silence.
Let me feel how I let my eyes drop, birds falling
from a sky, how my heart was a field, and there
was a dog, loose in the field, it was worrying
the sheep, they were running and then
they were still.  O body, let me remember
what it was to have a field in my chest,
O body, let me recognise the dog.

Kim Moore

(previously published in The Art of Falling, Seren, 2017)


Now, When I Think About Women

I think about Aziz Ansari’s Netflix special
where he asked the ladies in the crowd
how many had been followed—not cat-called—
actually followed down the street
by a man, many blocks, and how nearly
half of Madison Square Garden raised
their hands. I was home raising my hand,
thinking of moments in multiple cities,
how it was suddenly time to be scared.
Now, when I think about women,
I think about educated men who ask
if we secretly love being hollered at.
Don’t you kind of enjoy the attention?
Isn’t it flattering? It is 2017 and my best
friend says: a man in a car pulled up
beside me as I was bicycling, he was
jerking off to me, at me, I froze,
had to force myself to start pedaling
away. Last October, I consoled
my most enthusiastic canvassers: girls
who were chased and assaulted while
trying to get out the vote for the first
female president. Now, when
I think about women, I think about violence
and the threat of violence, how it’s like
an alarm inside going from zero to blaring.
The week I moved to New York
a girl my age went for a run.
People said it was her fault for dressing
that way, for taking that path. The article
said there was evidence of a struggle:
that before she died she bit her attacker
so hard her teeth cracked.

Emily Sernaker

(previously published on Poets Respond, 22 October, 2017)


My Fault

Consider my fault. It starts here,
on my temple so slim it could be a strand
of stray hair. Up close, at kissing distance,
it’s bolder, a slip of charcoal eyeliner.

When I find it in the mirror, it moves,
the creeping leg of a spider, a crack
across a plate left in the oven too long.
It parts a fraction like the lips of someone

sleeping, breathing in an unfamiliar bed
and when I think of that, it widens,
crescent-shaped, smile of a moon
above the house they’d say I shouldn’t

have been in, rim of the glass I shouldn’t
have touched. It turns into a zip, slit
of a pencil skirt and I can feel my body
opening, a fault-line in the ground

and everything – his hands and books,
the quartered bread, the wine, the room
I don’t remember entering – loosed
and falling into me. I turn

into a road that always takes me back
to the same place: pit town, midnight,
frost across the playing fields
as I go silent underneath

the broken roundabout, zig-zag
below pavements, terraces, the winding wheel
crossed with a thin seam of light and no-one
can touch me, not for centuries.

Helen Mort



in the room/ in the street/ on the stair/ where some men make free
in plain sight or in secret as if we were sweetmeat/to dip
fingers in and then forget – it is the being alone
afterwards that numbs and maims, utterly
alone in the silence of it/where shame creeps in/
stuns dead/but now we rise, all women
fondled and hurt and licked in acid jokery and in hate,
pets, sweethearts, loves, darlings, humourless bitches
we stand together, each one a Spartaca
no longer silent or alone: each voice stronger,
massing, alive, a wild murmuration
of me too/me too/me too

Spartacus was a rebel slave hunted down by the Romans to be crucified.
Asked to identify himself by soldiers, everyone in the crowd around him
stepped forward and said ‘I am Spartacus’.

Pippa Little


The #MeToo anthology is available to buy from the Fair Acre Press website. All profits go to Women’s Aid. A full list of events to showcase work from the anthology is also available on the Fair Acre Press website.

Wood Garlic – Anna Saunders

Wood Garlic

In the darkness of the ancient woods
a galaxy of fragile constellations –
the spiked flowers of the ramsoms.

The bulbs once harvested for Hecate,
brushed smooth of soil
placed on rocks for the moon goddess.

Bear Leaf – its other name.

Can you imagine the furred beast – talons
like scissors, ripping the stitch of root
from the dark weave of earth?

What a plant! Those delicate blooms,
mimicking the heavens
coupled with that smell –
salty, ripe, heady as hot flesh.
The body’s incense, smouldering.

Aren’t we all wild garlic
rooted into the dark woods

offering ourselves to the gods,
cowering from rough paws,
blazing our pure stars?


Anna Saunders is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press) and Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press) and Burne Jones and the Fox (Indigo Dreams) and the forthcoming Ghosting for Beginners (Indigo Dreams, Spring 2018). She has received three Arts Council Awards and has been described as ‘a poet who surely can do anything’ by The North  and ‘a poet of quite remarkable gifts’ by Bernard O’Donoghue.



Lot’s Wife – D A Prince

Lot’s wife

Another of God’s jokes, we said. A pillar
of salt, a nameless, faceless fact.
Jinxed for her one last backward glance
to where home burned.

One of RE’s more memorable plots. If this
were Chemistry there’d be the formula;
or Geography, erosion (rain and wind),
perhaps what farming and the economy gained.

She got on God’s wrong side: simple enough
and easy (like the apple) for exams.
We’d spill it like dry beans, and pass.
Move on. Nothing to linger with, unless

the business by the daughters (rattled through
just at the end-of- lesson bell). We’d learned
enough to giggle, look away and out
and never think of ever looking back.


previously published in Common Ground, HappenStance Press, 2014

D A Prince lives in Leicestershire and London. Her second full-length collection  – Common Ground, HappenStance Press, 2014  –  won the East Midlands Book Award 2015.

To The Lady At Dragonfly Studio – Harry Gallagher

To The Lady At Dragonfly Studio

She is a busy wee body,
butterflying from loom
to lambing
via granddaughters.

She is a rat-a- tat-tat
of laughter and nonsense,
ricocheting down the glen.

She is a mountain’s Ma Walton,
weaving a web
of Winter woollies
for all and sundry
and all of their friends.

She is an organic power station
for a father and mother
and husband and children,
who she cajoled across two countries
because only she knew
it was the right thing to do.


Harry Gallagher’s new collection, Northern Lights (Stairwell Books) was published in September 2017.  He has been published by The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Ofipress, Rebel Poetry and many others. He performs live nationwide and will read for you if you ask nicely!  www.harrygallagherpoet.wordpress.com

New World – Elly Farrelly

New World

Those were the nights of quiet stars,
of coffee brewing in the blue enamel pot
and you as always dressed in red,
singing Manisero
The peanut vendor’s song.

All evening I listened
while your friends’ playful fingers
rattled and tapped taut skins,
maracas, bright beads in hollow gourds,
tumbled rain in a cactus stalk. I tried.

But your tricky rhythms
tripped me every time
scraping the guiro,
or awkwardly shaking something
as best I could yet always,
somehow out of sync.


Elly Farrelly lives in Glasgow. Her  poems have been published in From Glasgow to SaturnThe Glasgow Review of Books and have  been included in two  anthologies.  As well as writing poetry she is also a songwriter and performing musician. Website www.ellyfarrelly.co.uk

Return To Mardale – Jonathan Humble

Return To Mardale

Confused, she stands at water’s edge;
a shadow, lost by this unfamiliar lake.
She wonders why the bells are silent.
No church, no school, yet still she listens
for well loved songs and laughter.

An eagle soars, commands ancient heights,
the realms of Harter Fell below his wings.
Her thoughts rise too, catching thermals,
heart leaping over High Raise climbs.

Old Chapel Hill and Bridge return below,
with Dun Bull Inn; dark snug and warm hearth.
Stone cottages now evoked in thoughts
once buried in Westmorland’s fairest valley,
before the flood, before the tears.

Over rutted track, a farmer’s cart rattles,
decked in ribbon, known faces smiling back,
with the echo of a lover’s voice in the air,
as Whitsun bells peel to call the dead.

Confusion gone, she enters Haweswater.
Now content to fade, as under trees in full leaf,
she walks a submerged path in a drowned village.
And singing songs, she meets again with friends
who once had lived in Mardale Green.


Note: Where today you’d find Haweswater reservoir in the Lake District, there was once the village of Mardale Green. Back in the 1920s, an Act of Parliament was passed allowing Manchester Corporation to build the reservoir to supply water for the urban areas of the north-west of England. Buildings in the Mardale valley were demolished, families were relocated and by 1935 the new reservoir was established. Occasionally, in periods of drought, the old dry stone walls and bridge make a ghostly reappearance, only to be submerged once water levels rise again. 

Jonathan Humble is a teacher in Cumbria. He writes poetry and short stories. His stuff can be found in a number of different publications and on his poetry blogs ( https://jhpoetry.blogspot.co.uk and https://northernjim.wordpress.com ).