The shady part – Elizabeth Gibson

The shady part

Here we are in the shady part of town,
where the old city has ended with its
stone walls and tourists and instead
there are tall trees with green leaves
and yes, they give us shade and cool
our dogs, too, as they lie resting and
barking at those who step around us,
frowning. We are happy to be shady.

Come pay us a visit with your mother,
who said we were sketchy. Watch us
be drawn and painted in, see my love
with her soft neck and perfect limbs
being traced by the great hand of the
twilight, by the keen artist’s eye of a
rising moon. Tell your mother that if
she opens her mind she too can be art.

So, it is dodgy here. Come at the peak
of night, when the earth and street are
alive and we dodge each other as bats,
fluttering, dancing in circles, delicate
and brave. Here we are in the iffy part
of town, where every moment is an if,
and a then, and a future falling before
us. Please. I want you to see it. Come.


Elizabeth Gibson’s work has appeared in Far Off Places, London Journal of Fiction, Severine, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Picaroon Poetry, The Fat Damsel and The Poetry Shed. She edits Foxglove Journal and the Word Life section of Now Then Manchester.
Twitter: @Grizonne

Beads – Louisa Campbell


For Kate

The things she said
and what she didn’t
pulled me two hundred miles to meet her –
kindness between the lines,
shared tears, understanding.

We said we’d meet in the hotel lobby:
vast; wall to wall glass;
swishing steel lift doors;
reception desk, indifferent.
I stood small at the window and waited.

She arrived, in glamour and timidity,
‘I’m so pleased to meet you…,’ she said
to the floor,
‘but sorry, I’m socially awkward.’
She fiddled with beads in her bracelet.
Silent, side by side,
we looked out.
Grey city streets
and cars and buses and people
went who-knows-where,


Louisa Campbell has realised that life is silly, but important, and she is very happy about that. Published here and there, her first pamphlet will be out with Picaroon Poetry in 2018.

Blink – Karen Jane Cannon


The time the drunk ran straight over a swan,
we banged with fists on bonnet, window glass,
to try to make him stop. He drove along
the shore to Bosham Hoe, between salt marsh
and coast wall strung with weed. It lay just dazed
on sea-spat stones, it’s legs at angles, wings
still beating, heaving like lungs gulping air.
Lurching wildly, it headed out to sea,
the gaggle— white shapes resting, tugging grass
or staring flint-eyed out, across the marsh.
I kept my eyes on it, tried not to blink—
the sun so bright I had no choice. I blinked
and lost track of which one it was—somehow
it seemed to me, I was the one at fault.


Karen Jane Cannon’s poems have appeared in a variety of print and online journals, including Acumen, Orbis, Obsessed with Pipework, The Interpreter’s House, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Popshot. She was commended for The Flambard Poetry Prize 2014.


Housewarming – Tom Sastry


Come to my house. It is empty –
a prison for sounds.

You can mark it with your footsteps,
you can echo in its corners,

there will be time, later, for words.
Before the furniture comes

we can eat pizza from the box
and test out the airbed.

Together, we’ll make a ghost.
Come in person

or in an envelope.
The rules for shoes are as you please

and coats go anywhere
but not yet. Come through here,

share with me this little square of sun,
say how it will be perfect

when I have done
this or that thing which I never will do.

Walk down the hill. Buy macaroons
and a four pint carry-out,

watch clips on my phone.
Just come. Come to my house.

It demands, selfishly,
to be filled

ashamed of its scuffed bones
ashamed of its honest age.

Do not wait. Come while you can.
This house is so beautiful naked

I cannot bear it for long.
Come to my house. It is empty.


Tom Sastry’s debut pamphlet Complicity was published by smith/doorstop in October 2016. It was one of the Poetry School’s Books of the Year for 2016 and is the Poetry Book Society’s pamphlet choice for Spring 2017.

The Sewing Tin – Ali Jones

The Sewing Tin
It hid in a drawer,
anchored in darkness,
a landscape borrowed from others,
finding geography in the contours
of buttonholes and zips, few alike,
metallic retorts, sharp spikes slipped
from fabrics unknown.

Who wore the dress,
with flowers in her hair?
Who loosed a pin
beneath the moon’s
bone wide stare?
Who pulled pearls through?
A breadcrumb trail of prizes.

I am looking into
the heart of secrets,
flexing them beneath my fingers,
prying their mechanisms;
no blood on my hands,
hanging stitches from the past;
the dead pricking my fingers.


Ali Jones is a teacher and writer, living in Oxford, England. She holds an MA in English, focused on poetry in domestic spaces. She writes and performs on a regular basis.

These Threads are the Singing – Gram Joel Davies

These Threads are the Singing

Your body becomes a tongue
when rain falls, arms agape
you taste popping candy droplets,
a topical confection. Rain to skin
is light to eyes, you see
with every pore. Rain beats

at downed leaves and sagging
blades, thrashes twigs to pulp
and saturates bark till each surrenders
Assam swirls, tendrils of clove,
and fingers of crushed rosemary:
lizard-licks to your nostrils.

The wept joys of reunion, rivulets
pour, wrap seams, silver-cocoon
your limbs and neck, charge you
like coalesced lightning.
These threads are the singing
of nerves. When rain falls,

every puddle, every street lamp,
every windowed eave disintegrates
into a scintillating dance of atoms,
the world is microscopically undone
but remade. Every ricocheting drop
pounds its bass-pulse in your ears,
unabating arteries, thudding womb.

You breathe like rain, open arms
and legs and mouth and skin
to rain – the curse of being
melts from you in torrents –
you become again the stuff
of motion, surfs and plasmic
hearts of solar systems. Suns.


Gram Joel Davies lives in Devon. His collection Bolt Down This Earth is published by V. Press. See to find out more.

The Lost Luggage Office – Mat Riches

The Lost Luggage Office
I love it here, to wander among the aisles,
by size and date of arrival.
I can cover miles in a day, and months in any pile.

These have never been opened under my auspices.
I like to imagine their content;
their reasons, and their purposes.

This one, in black, small and carry on.
I imagine it’s a contract killers’-
housing his gun, a silencer. Holding its tongue.

I picture him having a change of heart,
a mid-air career re-appraisal, switching tack
and turning back, heading for the start.

Or this one, it’s red, slightly larger from 1987;
the very embodiment of a ‘valise’.
It holds in my minds eye just bare essentials.

Lingerie and scents; just enough detail
to wonder if the affair is still going,
or had the longevity of a chem trail?

It’s mainly the smaller stuff that ends up here,
the larger belonging to families
with more to lose. With the threat of tears

they hunt better, further, longer.
Straight down the line,
the lure of lost toys is stronger.

We all place our locks on things, keep our keys safe.
People have said to me, in the past
you’d do well out of here, without the baggage.


By day Mat is a researcher for ITV. He has been published in And Other Poems, Obsessed With Pipework, Ink, Sweat & Tears, and was longlisted for Primers 2 via Poetry School and Nine Arches Press. He is yea high.
Blog: Twitter: @matriches

Marked out by what she wore – Jane R Rogers

Marked out by what she wore

‘All the world’s a stage
and all the men and women merely players…’
As You Like It, by William Shakespeare (1599)

Scene One

I bathe in the theatre air
wait the call to perform

then creak the hangers
releasing my underclothes

the volume of a hooped skirt
conspiracy of a whale bone bodice

reciprocate love in the soft stage thump
of a velvet gown – caress to my role.

Freely, with chatter of courtly heels
I recite Elizabethan verse

feel the audience breathe me in

Scene One

We watch her sashay our way
wearing the costume’s personality
as it owns her

Hear the whip whip trussing of stays
crush her diaphragm
the three-foot velvet train
tangle her steps
to a full stop.

We tense betrayal till
she – fashion plate in needless stitches –
pins poetry to our postered walls.


A member of Greenwich Poetry Workshop and Magma Poetry, Jane co-edited Magma 65:‘Revolution’. Publication includes poems in Prole, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Long Exposure, Obsessed with Pipework, Picaroon, Tate Gallery anthology.
Jane lives in London but misses the West Country.

Bright Thing – David Coldwell

Bright Thing

I’m drawing imaginary dragons or monsters
in the back room of the terraced house on Grange
when my father walks in and takes the pencil from my hand.

He sketches an aeroplane for no reason other than to show
me he can; his party trick. The rough of his skin with oil
and coolant ingrained scratches on the paper.

My mother steps in and outlines the shape of an elephant
floating in space, oblivious to all the things that surround it.
Later I throw paint at it all, bring the monster to life.


David Coldwell is an artist and writer based in the South Pennines. His debut pamphlet, Flowers by the Road (Templar Poetry) is available now.