Shadows – Bethany Rivers


Beyond the Scots’ Pine and the Monkey Puzzle tree
at the edge of the farmers’ fields a blood-orange sun
is dying.  You always said you could cradle

the sun in the palm of your hand.
I watched you raise your hand into the sky
to prove it, your other hand on my shoulder.

The grass retains your footsteps from this morning
when you went out in your dressing gown and slippers
to check if the doves were back.  An imprinted

trail in coated frost, the sun was unable
to melt.  Later, when you’re not there, I touch
the tiny icicles on a blade of grass –

it would take me years to warm the whole
lawn, and I wonder if that’s the task
you’ve secretly appointed me with.  Sky fades

to peach melba then dusty pink , a pink
I used to love, and you don’t remember:
even Yew trees lose their greenness at dusk

I run from the creeping shadows
of all those things I should have said.


Bethany Rivers’ pamphlet, ‘Off the wall’, published by Indigo Dreams (2016).  Previous publications include: Envoi, Cinnamon Press, Obsessed with Pipework, The Ofi Press, Clear Poetry, Picaroon Poetry.  She teaches and mentors the writing of memoir, novels and poetry.



Actual Size – Paul Vaughan

Actual Size

The brochure hooked me
with its beach so pristine, white.
Palm trees gaily waving invitations,
with lithe coconut-clad ladies with shy coquettish smiles
serving endless margaritas to my hammock in the sky.

I never learn that beds are made of promises,
that the advert’s just a lie.

Today I looked on Amazon
and saw a model of the Taj Mahal.
Hand crafted in pink blancmange,
actual size, just nine pounds ninety nine.
I ordered two of them,
one for me and one for the guy
that said he’ll come Tuesday to build me an angel.


Paul Vaughan loves his cat. His poems have cropped up in Agenda, Prole, Obsessed with Pipework and Dream Catcher, among others. Edits Algebra of Owls.

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
Facebook at:

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.