Chashitsu – Kathryn Alderman


*Japanese Tea Room

The grown-ups will talk in long whispers today
and I must play with Little Green Geisha.
Aunty M switches on the chashitsu lamp
and slips next door with two steaming cups.

Green Geisha folds her camellia parasol and bows.
She lays out rice straw mats,
draws back paper shoji panels and enters
the tiny house. Her shadow gathers tea flowers,
heats water over fired charcoal
and warms the flowers to bloom.

She brings me a tea bowl painted with owls.
I bow, take it with the right hand,
cup it with the left and twist it two quarter turns
to the right; this is the Way of Tea.

Green Geisha kneels back to watch me sip at the rim;
the amber mist, a drift of jasmine on the tongue.

Next door, two silhouettes framed in the shoji’s glow;
the glint of spoons on china,
murmurs, now just beyond hearing.

The proverb on the chashitsu scroll says –
the speaker may be a fool but the listener is wise.
Green Geisha’s eyes narrow and crease,
she presses a finger to her lips.


Kathryn Alderman was an actor before starting a family. She won Cannon Poets’ Sonnet or Not (2012) and is published online and print including: Amaryllis, The Cannon’s Mouth, Eye Flash Poetry Journal, I Am Not a Silent Poet. She Co-Chairs Gloucestershire Writers’ Network.  

Lead – Jennie Farley


She wore shoes of lead to keep
her grounded. They were ugly,
heavy, gave her blisters.

One day in a fit of pique
she tore at the leather straps,
tugged off the buckles.

She rose up slowly, a wash
of cool air bathing her feet.
Upright, straight-backed,

her arms stiff by the sides
of her frilly pink frock.
There was no going back

to Mum and Dad and Chloe
the cat, the house and garden,
busy streets. Shoeless,

she rose above the steeple,
through a flock of birds,
through air balloons,

through clouds,
through the rays of the sun,
through midnight stars,

and kept on rising …


Jennie Farley is a published poet, workshop leader and teacher. Her poetry has featured in magazines including New Welsh Review, Under the Radar, The Interpreter’s House and webzines. She runs events for an iconic arts club, NewBohemians@CharltonKings. Her first collection My Grandmother Skating (Indigo Dreams Pub) published 2016. Her new book Hex (IDP) out 2018.

Nomenclatures – Kate Garrett


If I could find a real life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s, then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.” – Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Our cat was called Eve before we met her.
It was a name I changed in the years when I
believed she would be all I knew of daughters,
amidst the day-to-day mothering of free-running
sons, whose constant bounce off brick and stone
kept me earthed. And when our girls found us,
their flickered hellos on screen from the small
ocean inside me, we willed our wishes into their
new patterns of letters—freedom, grace, beauty,
a honeyed life. We teach them mutability. They will
know to drift downstream is not only forgivable,
sometimes it’s necessary. I learned the same lessons
slowly, hard-earned, my own name’s gift unattainable
for so long – a mother’s cruel joke: pure, worthy of love;
a smattering of abbreviations always falling short.


Kate Garrett writes and edits. She was raised in rural southern Ohio, but moved to the UK nearly twenty years ago, where she still lives – in sunny Sheffield – with her husband, five children, and a sleepy cat. Twitter: @mskateybelle /

Cutting Back the Tayberries – Edwin Stockdale

Cutting Back the Tayberries

In her head, Granny hears Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1,
the CD Grandpa bought her.

She is pruning the tayberries away
from Galloway Beltie cows.

The stalks beginning to brittle.
She sits on a stool to garden.

She shuffles back to her bungalow
with tiny feet that shrink over time.

Time for her tot, whisky and ginger ale,
with not too much ginger.

She sits on the patio, her back supported,
sips her drink, watches the sun fading.


Edwin Stockdale’s debut pamphlet, Aventurine, was published in September 2014 by Red Squirrel Press.  He has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham with Distinction and is researching a PhD in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University.

The Boat – Sam Payne

The Boat

I don’t expect to see his boat
moored amid the feathered plumes
of the pampas grass.
Paint flecks rising in the breeze
like rowers lifting their oars.

He used to tell of sirens and sea ghosts,
taught us how to navigate by the stars.
Warned about the swell and how
it could toss a little boat like a wet rag.

He’d be there with his pipe and yellow hat
and we were his sea-licked urchins
with sand in the gaps between our toes
and the brine of the seas clinging to us
long after we went home.


Sam Payne is a writer living in Devon. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing with Teesside University through their distance learning programme. Her poems have appeared in several places online including, Ink, Sweat and Tears and The Open Mouse.

Battenhall Fair – Ian Glass

Battenhall Fair

I knew this place, this hill, this sky;
not long before the fields were buried.
I stood where you are now.
There was a stile as high
as my shoulder and a hawthorn
whose shade I borrowed.

And Sam sitting on Persephone
our cow asked why and why
and why does grass grow upwards
and why is the sky blue?

And Mam smiling said: God’s love
is reflected in the sky; the grass
reaches up to touch.
And Pa said: starlings
paint the sky with cornflowers;
the grass is scared of worms.

And scraps of laughter drifted
up the hill from Battenhall fair
and beyond the stalls
the tall cathedral tower stood
golden white
and the river twisted
silver blue
like the ribbon in my hair.

And Sam was singing, so I shouted: why
did they build so tall?
And Mam said:
to touch God.
And Pa said:
because we are scared of worms.


Ian was raised in Northumberland, lives in Worcestershire and has two grown-up daughters.  He trained as an engineer but when not writing he works as a programmer.  Ian’s poems have appeared in Ink, Sweat and Tears and Algebra of Owls.

Con Moto – Stephen Claughton

Con Moto

Who else would have thought of it:
teaching yourself to drive
by sitting at the piano,
playing with (look!) no hands?

That’s how I found you one day,
both feet on the pedals,
an umbrella clutched by your side,
as you practised changing gear.

In the days before simulators,
what else were you to do?
I needn’t have scoffed, I suppose:
you passed your test first time,

even though years of driving
never quite smoothed out
those kangaroo starts
and tooth-on-edge, grinding gears.

You carried on into your eighties,
pooh-poohing my spoil-sport advice
about buses and taxis being cheaper
(and less costly to life and limb).

Nothing could dent your resolve.
Wing mirrors in the end
became consumable items
like the tins of touch-up paint.

Even writing your car off once,
not stopping when you should,
didn’t prompt you to give up,
whatever that policeman said.

Those white-knuckle rides to the station!
I’d rather have walked through the rain
with a ton of luggage in tow
than have taken those lifts with you.

“Remind me again,” you said,
as we came to a busy junction,
“what happens at roundabouts.”
No arguing, you were grounded after that.

You still had the piano, though,
tuned up, ready to go,
whenever you fancied a spin,
or a trip down memory lane.

You read music better than roads
and never lost your touch,
the notes still at your fingertips,
long after you’d failed to grasp words.


Stephen Claughton’s poems have appeared widely in magazines, both in print and on line, most recently in Ink Sweat & TearsLondon Grip and Poetry Salzburg Review. Another is forthcoming in The High Window.

The Potter’s Clay – Stella Wulf

The Potter’s Clay

Not the porcelain beauty you had designs on,
I was a red-earth mother, homemaker
through and through, ripe for laying
immutable bonds, bearing loads.

I wasn’t to know you were stealing my fire,
whilst tenderly kneading the give of my nature.
How malleable I was, a render to spread
on the façade of your attentions.

When I was soft as curds you turned,
like milk in the sun, such dizzying speed,
you threw me. Slip-slap of palms, you pulled me up,
knocked me back. Your manipulation

plumbed me hollow, fettled me thin,
until I was a frangible object,
a receptacle for your ego, seared
by the rage of your obsession.

After the baptism when I cracked,
you held my fractures up to the light,
wept a salt-glaze over my imperfections,
turned my fault to the red-brick wall.


Stella’s poems are widely published both in print and online, and appear in several anthologies including, The Very Best of 52, three drops, Clear Poetry, and #MeToo. She has an MA in creative writing from Lancaster University.

Featured Publication – Arboreal Days by Daniel Bennett

Our featured publication for September is Arboreal Days by Daniel Bennett, published by the red ceilings press.

The chapbook opens with the title sequence, Arboreal Days – a six-part poem exploring life amongst trees. Further poems explore the landscapes of cities and the country, of travel and staying still, or unearth the hidden stories of secret technology and lost films. In these shifting backdrops, the characters of the poems often appear bemused and disorientated, victims of absurd situations beyond their control. And always beyond them stand the trees, providing memory and continuity through inevitable change, despite their distance and indifference.




Arboreal Days
Lost in the digressions
of that hard autumn
I followed you into the woods.
Morning is yellow light
tessellated through leaves
the wood is a place
children are taught to avoid.
During the early stages of the crash
everyone retreated
into a narrower sense of self
insulating themselves
from consequences and impact.
On walks along the creek
we saw tents strung up
catching oak helicopters
and lime and elder pollen,
we will date those moments
from the thin ring of soot
in a cross section of sycamore
the charred vein of bark
suitable for thumbnail sketches
and while things recharge
beyond us, we hunker down
into a comfortable hollow:
the ring around the pond
the sway of a willow
and in a far off public park
of finite summer
the girl recognised
that the elm tree was ours.


Remember when we brought home pine cones
and arranged them on mantelpieces?
In those days, the interiors of boilers
and drains were a mystery. Letters
always seemed to arrive unbidden
and brought with them experiments
with handwriting and ideas for travel.
Even during summer, we wore black
out of reticence and the whole of nature
seemed to be at the tips of our fingers,
but back gardens stared back at us
inscrutably and offered little comfort,
except for shade for cigarettes or random fires.
We grew accustomed to the idea of houses
as being more or less constant in our lives
even though we remained sanguine
about their disrepair, and cleaning happened
only on the last days of our tenancies.
Our cars, too, were rarities and even then
covered with guano or Saharan sand.
We drank apple tea in cold basements
and experimented with lemon cakes
out of some vague yearning for family,
although we spoke to our parents rarely
and only when something had broken.
We tried on futures with a sense of mystery
like wearing an old coat in a junk shop
and calling someone over to laugh at it,
before moving on, together, to things
we hoped would be ever more glorious.


Rainy Days On The Balcony

That was the summer of elderflower and flash floods,
when we cat-napped throughout the afternoons.
Water looked for its level. We awoke into a dream
where everyone wore shorts and baled out cellars,
rescuing photographs and cradles.
This time would teach us the value of tears.

When I lived in the basement flat
we let the neighbours water the garden,
and made iced tea from the mint growing above us.
It ran wild in the beds, the purple flowers spinning
with bumblebees and Red Admirals, like someone
had knocked us unconscious in a cartoon.

The house mover had tattoos stitched down his arm:
a row of crossed out women’s names.
We gave him a cradle, laughed at his life choices.
The reek of engine oil and wet grass
from the parkland, ah, it all takes me back.
We were right there, in the middle of it.

Now, marine colours remind me of summer:
rust, mould, tin, algae. The men on the park bench
drink and watch other men fish. Rain
slides into the puddles of the creek
sets it all rising, lolling outwards, swamping everything.
I look down from the balcony, far beyond those days.


Born in Shropshire, Daniel Bennett lives and works in London. His poems have
appeared in a variety of places, including The Manchester Review, The Stinging Fly,
Under The Radar, and Atrium. His first collection West South North, North South
East will be published next year by The High Window. He is also the author of the
novel All The Dogs. Follow him on Twitter @AbsenceClub.

Arboreal Days is available for purchase from the red ceilings press website.