Museum of Illness – Angi Holden

Museum of Illness

Exhibit One: The Symptom
………….Last year’s exhibit has been removed for conservation.
………….The temporary replacement is an unseen symptom.
………….Place your hand in the feely-box.
………….You may experience some discomfort.

Exhibit Two: The Referral
………….Paperwork suggests the need for examination
………….and further investigation. There may be a delay.

Exhibit Three: The Consultation
………….Please take a ticket from the dispenser.
………….Viewings are strictly in numerical order and time-limited.

Exhibit Four: The Diagnosis
………….This may be figurative or abstract.
………….Select your gallery in accordance with preference.
………….Be prepared for ambiguity.

Exhibit Five: The Treatment
………….There is a range of guidebooks and postcards
………….available from the shop. Plastic bags are disposable
………….and charged at 10p, proceeds to charity.

Exhibit Six: The Outcome
………….The final gallery is close to the exit.
………….Please close the doors as you leave.


Angi Holden writes adult & children’s poetry, short stories & flash fictions. Her work explores family history and personal experience. Spools of Thread – winner of the Mother’s Milk Pamphlet Prize – was published in 2018.

Diving – Tim Love


The diver’s head then legs split the arms’ shaft
like aft oars breaking the stitched scars of the first
or an old junkie fearing detection, having to go deeper
until too scared to open his eyes let alone look up
he wrestles bubbles at the bottom.

Miming death he rises into brightness,
bruising not breaking the skin,
part of the mirror until he feels again
the edge he longed for, smoother than alcohol,
concave and clinging to the steep sides.


Tim Love’s publications are a poetry pamphlet “Moving Parts” (HappenStance) and a story collection “By all means” (Nine Arches Press). He lives in Cambridge, UK. His poetry and prose have appeared in Stand, Rialto, Magma, Unthology, etc. He blogs at

In a Forest near Strömsund, Sweden – Rachel Carney

In a Forest near Strömsund, Sweden

For two weeks
we walked in silence
hoping for bears –

deep from the forest,
turning, lumbering,

Make noise, they said,
as you walk.
But our desire

to see a bear
was stronger.
Bears are shy,

they told us, and so
we walked as quietly
as we could,

almost believing.


Rachel Carney has had poems published in several magazines and journals including Ink Sweat and Tears, The High Window Journal and The Ekphrastic Review. She is a book blogger at and has written articles and reviews for various magazines.

Sonnet for the Lost Girls from School – Pam Thompson

Sonnet for the Lost Girls from School

Awake, I think of Julia Pearce,
and her father – his bad moods, his prosthetic eye,

the way she made herself faint at break time, and worse,
how she hated me; the reasons why.

As the storm acts up, I put her in the maze at Wistow,
measuring corn with a retractable tape.

Near a space where seeds haven’t grown
I pull on her hood, switch on her torch and let her stoop

there, but not for long, in just this type of weather.
I see her smile that isn’t really a smile

as if she’s woken, or come round, to gather
thoughts of what? her car, parked nearby? I’ll watch for a mile

or so before she breaks down and I zoom out
of the rain, into sleep that’s disturbing and torchlit.


Pam Thompson is a poet and educator based in Leicester. Her publications include The Japan Quiz ( Redbeck Press, 2009) and Show Date and Time (Smith | Doorstop, 2006) and Strange Fashion (Pindrop Press, 2017). Pam is a 2019 Hawthornden Fellow.



Rocks and Fish – Marc Woodward

Rocks and Fish
(after Cavatina by Andy Brown)

“…becoming someone else, like rocks in rising tides”
you say – but I wonder if the opposite’s true:
that actually we emerge from swilling waters,
the ocean receding to leave us bare, exposed
to weathering. The sun and ice, bake and shatter.

Mine is a more obvious metaphor of course,
and on reflection I think yours more accurate.
Are we ever more perfect than when we are young?
Newly cleaved, salt washed and as yet barnacle free.
What then follows is our gradual dissolution
in the hydrosphere of energy and nothing.

Steam swirls and condenses as I lie in the bath
shaving with my right hand, while my Parkinson’s left
flaps mindlessly – like a fish urgent for the sea


Marc Woodward is a poet and musician resident in rural Devon. He has been widely published and his recent collections include  A Fright Of Jays  (Maquette 2015), and Hide Songs (Green Bottle Press 2018).
and is on Facebook at 

Elevenses at the dunes’ end – Beth McDonough

Elevenses at the dunes’ end

We settle for the safety of scones,
in the bistro bedecked
with an astroturf floor.

Wiry seats, but if we like
we can sit on that bright plastic grass
which extends over benches, up walls.

In midday’s heavy gloom,
netted fairy lights out-starry glass
on the half-tented garden’s low roof.

Had we just waited for night,
a huge orange moon might spacehopper in,
all squint rubber grin and bent ears.

The scones were home-made and light.


Beth McDonough’s poetry appears in Causeway, Shooter Agenda and elsewhere; she reviews in DURA. Handfast (2016, with Ruth Aylett) explores family experiences of dementia and autism. A pamphlet is coming…

My Wedding Dress Hangs There – Kitty Coles

My Wedding Dress Hangs There

limply uninhabited.
Its narrowness reproaches
my immensity.

It glows like a ghost,
dyed pink
by the unstaunched twilight.

The tiny buttons align themselves
like teeth. The lace
is a galaxy, cold constellations.

The polluted surf
of the hem churns,
stained with mud.


Kitty Coles’ poems have been widely published and have been nominated for the Forward Prize and Best of the Net. She was joint winner of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016: her debut pamphlet, Seal Wife, was published in 2017.

The Lark’s Field – Tom Moody

The Lark’s Field

We’d lie hidden in patches of soft grass.
Flat circles where horses had lain down
among waist-high cocksfoot, sorrel and dock.
Concealed by coarse-stemmed couch.
Worlds away from the nearby town.

We’d chew on timothy stem, rest easy
while distant dots that were larks,
scrabbled above us, rising and dropping,
bobbing upwards like bubble-streams
in a cream-soda glass.


Tom Moody has an MA in creative writing (Newcastle). Published work includes articles, short stories, radio script and poetry in:, Orbis, Three Drops from the Cauldron, Indigo Dreams, Algebra of Owls, Ink Sweat & Tears, Riggwelter, Ink Tears, and Prole.

Featured Publication – Eighty Four anthology, Curated by Helen Calcutt

Our featured publication for June is Eighty Four: Poems on Male Suicide, Vulnerability, Grief and Hope, curated by Helen Calcutt, published by Verve Poetry Press.

“Eighty Four is a new anthology of poetry on the subject of male suicide in aid of CALM.

Curated by poet Helen Calcutt, the anthology features a host of male and female voices sharing their experiences of suicide, mental health, or grief – from those who have been on the brink of suicide, to those who have lost a loved one, or been moved more generally by the campaign. It is both an uncensored exposure of truths, as well as a celebration of the strength and courage of those willing to write and talk about their experiences, using the power of language to openly address and tackle an issue that directly affects a million people every year.” Verve Poetry Press



A Dream

You were on the river, heading away downstream,
your powerful shoulders working the paddle –
dip, pull, lift, dip, pull – each stoke a perfect slice
through the black water, that gathered and ruckled
about the blade – lift, dip, pull –

as in the time we were on the river together,
that autumn morning of mist drifting up through
the highbanked trees and the fine rain that soaked
our clothes and skin and hair and made us happy.
A good time. The two of us together on the river.

Now you were alone and it was night.
I was leaning on the windowsill, looking out
and if you had turned you would have seen me there,
a ghost face at the glass haunting your leaving.
You did not look back. All your concentration

strained towards the journey you were making
and I was powerless to stop you, just as I was powerless
to turn away from watching. No call of mine
would bring you back. For payment, the river
had taken my voice, and I was forbidden to enter

where you were going.

David Calcutt


The decision room

There’s a deep frost, salt-crisp, and if I lick it
I’ll taste the very end of the night before,
when you shut your front door, went upstairs
to where there was only just enough air left for
one breath and only just enough time to decide.

And somewhere in that pitch-dark space
where your breath finished in your lungs
you shaped the beginning of your end.

It is your pre-jump. Your vault. You step from
your body, two foot from where my bed is now,
without the slightest hope of a second chance ‒
leave it behind like a moon blighted by clouds.

You tugged open every drawer and they stuttered
on rough wooden runners, hung lopsided and you
pulled sweater after sweater, shirt after shirt, until
deciding what to die in became impossible.

It is 5am when the police come. Ice-white fields
aren’t yet disturbed, nothing creaks.
The doorbell’s shrill is a terrible wrong.

I’m thinking about the coldness of morgues
and have so many clothes to keep me warm ‒
a shoddy dropped mess of them, a pulled out,
thrown down, skinless you.

Most times I remember the whole of you, but
sometimes I can’t help remembering how far you fell.

Abegail Morley


An incident with a train

The local news will describe this as an incident with a train,
because no-one wants to read what really happens
when a solitary human being collides with that velocity
of despair. Official statements will be performed as
preformed – with intent to still. Stress the fullness of investigation,
the minimised disruption to your commute. There will
be no dwelling on the life or the death of it. The convulsing
mother, degraded to salt. The junior police officer
fighting back puke, weighing alternative career options
against the chances of promotion and a desk.
The trembling, day-glo railway worker who yells
at the edging crows, fuck off, fuck OFF. Throwing
stones to ward them from the spoils:

it’s hard, even at the best of times,
to look solemn in a hi-vis vest. It’s hard to hold together.

Paul Howarth


Seven Senryu in Memory of Brian Karr Harter (1969-1987)


stepping up to the casket my noisy heartbeat


my reflection huge in the funeral parlor mirror


nearing his gravestone
the letters begin to blur—
January fog


remembering his suicide
winter hardens
the soil


visiting the graves
my legs sink
in deepening snow


remembering his suicide—
……stepping slowly
……across the moonlit bridge


remembering his suicide all these acorns

Carrie Etter


The Eighty Four anthology is available to buy from the Verve Poetry Press website, in aid of CALM.