Artist’s Impression, 2009 – Sheila Jacob

Artist’s Impression, 2009

She takes a slip of white paper
from the Consultant’s desk
and a black biro from her pocket.
“This (sketching quickly) is your kidney.”

A cute, bean-shaped thing.
A plump curve with a stalk.
“And at the top here” (drawing
a dividing line and squiggles)

are the nephrons, the good guys.
Your tumour’s at the base.”
She inks another line and a blob.
It squats there, nasty and dark

and full, in reality, of cancer cells
that have gorged and grown
for the past six months
without warning signs.

“So”, my Support Nurse continues,
“Mr. De Bolla can remove this part
and you keep the useful bits.”
She smiles, we both smile

and hug each other like schoolgirls.
I take the picture in both hands
and drop it in my shoulder bag.
No need, now, to re-Google

What The Kidney Does,
puzzle over 3-D images
of the minor calyx, renal pyramid
and uteropelvic junction.

I’m free to leave until next week.
Today, I ‘m striding out,
a new route map
swinging against my hip.


Sheila Jacob lives in North Wales with her husband. She was born and raised in Birmingham and resumed writing poetry in 2013 after a long absence. She is frequently inspired by her working -class ‘50’s childhood. Her poems have been published in a number of U.K. magazines and webzines. Last year she self-published a small collection of poems dedicated to her Dad who died when she was almost fifteen.

Forthcoming – Alison Jones


If we could visit now, would you come with me?
Take my hand, let me lead you up the pea gravel path –
tread carefully if you are wearing sandals,
I have learnt this the hard way, in summers past.

Come. Here are two striped cats that bask
and unfurl, in the dappled sap-light. Now, through the orchard,
where Norfolk Pippin, Cox’s Orange, Victoria and William,
reach and recline, limber limbs to the waiting sun.

We can always return here. Boundaried by beeches
that hide clamouring hives, through the stable door.
Here is the cool flagged kitchen, where flowers, foraged
from hedgerows rest in chipped crystal – fit for the fae!

Celandines, daisies, Jack by the Hedge.
Here on a scrubbed wooden table, Mason Cash bowls
perform daily alchemy, from base grains to tempting treasures.
Tins rinsed in the old Belfast sink, then dried with Irish linen.

Sit for a moment, here with me in the midday calm,
pull up the Hepplewhite chair. Somewhere deeper within
arpeggio practise goes on , sung through a well-worn cello,
lifting into bird song and bell chimes. We can always begin again.


Alison Jones is a teacher, and writer with work published in a variety of places, from Poetry Ireland Review, Proletarian Poetry and The Interpreter’s House, to The Green Parent Magazine and The Guardian. She has a particular interest in the role of nature in literature and is a champion of contemporary poetry in the secondary school classroom. Her pamphlet, ‘Heartwood’ was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018, with a second pamphlet. ‘Omega’, and a full collection forthcoming in 2020.

Let Us Be Lit – Paul Waring

Let Us Be Lit

like the party packed into bass-bin
headphones opposite; trip with fogey
friends, planets away from denture
feedback aboard arthritic charabancs;
Ibeefa and boggy field fests, mega-
decibels above this train carriage rave
where only ears go dancing; drop dj
god names like pain meds, cloud fluffy
white heads with house, schmooze
over tunes (not discs – ours are too
prone to slip); cut shapes from spare
skin and wings, make aged sacroiliacs
creak like back gates. Wear club gear,
ubiquitous beards, coiffured hair and
CK foofoo; call each other names
no-one’s heard before, tattooed backwards
in Mandarin or Hakka and, bible likely,
spells mad cow or monkey spanker –
but only to those in the know.


Paul Waring’s poems have been widely published in print journals and webzines. He was runner-up in the 2019 Yaffle Prize, commended in the 2019 Welshpool Poetry Competition and has a pamphlet ‘Quotidian’ (Yaffle Press, 2019).



Fray Bentos Corned Beef – Finola Scott

Fray Bentos Corned Beef

That tin, that shape, so useful. Homework slide-ruling the crumb-dusted tablecloth
after tea. Dad as backup, rustling newspaper in the living room. I am someone else tonight. A Columbus testing and daring edges. That tin, sides straight, straight as
neat whisky, parallel but not square. Symmetrical but not identical. Like siblings.
One end always bigger, surer, wider, standing more steady, generous. Awkward on Formica shelves, unstackable. But such a neat fit in kit-bags, nourishment to be
taken hunkered in trenches amidst slaughter. Below its armour I sense the contents’ tasty presence. Like slippers under the bed on cold nights, it waits reassuring.



Finola Scott’s poems are widely published including in Scottish Writers Centre Anthology, The Fenland Reed, and New Writing Scotland. Red Squirrel published her pamphlet last year. Tapsalteerie will publish her Scots poems this Spring. A winner of various competitions, and runner-up in Coast to Coast’s competition her work can be read on Facebook at Finola Scott Poems.

The Shade of Wind Chimes – Emma Lee

The Shade of Wind Chimes

A pyramid roof offers scant
shelter for the twisted strings
like frayed nerves not ready
to let go of the chimes,
pushed to dance by a breeze
to create a sound like polite laughter
given by someone who knows
what they heard isn’t a joke
but everyone else is smiling
so she forces a giggle,
and prays it’s enough
and will stop the roar
of a hurricane
that he becomes inside
the house where the wind
chimes dance from their
hook on the porch.


Emma Lee’s publications include “The Significance of a Dress” (Arachne, 2020) and “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, UK, 2015), is Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib and blogs at Twitter: @Emma_Lee1.

Kimmeridge Clay – Fiona Cartwright

Kimmeridge clay

After the winter storms, clay layers
on the beach, like slices
of my mother’s
coin-hiding cake, only one
containing treasure.
I prise them open.
The fifth reveals
………………………a scatter of seabed
no-one’s seen since the Jurassic.
A pyrite ammonite glows,
a small sun among crushed shells.
Spring’s first peacock butterfly
out of hibernation
……………across the beach.
I don’t move.
If I pull too hard
millions of years of existence
will fall to dirt between my hands.


Fiona Cartwright (Twitter @sciencegirl73) is a poet and conservation scientist. Her poems have appeared in various magazines, including Magma, Mslexia, Under the Radar, Interpreter’s House and Atrium. Her debut pamphlet, Whalelight, was published by Dempsey and Windle in 2019 (

The Orange Trees of Altea – Marion McCready

The Orange Trees of Altea

A row of orange trees, five of them, five gifts
unwrapped and standing in all their glory
like a guard of watchmen.
The orange trees release their scent
as I walk under them. They welcome me
at regular intervals. Wrinkled and overripe,
the oranges are veterans of the night.
The winds roll in from the Mediterranean.
The oranges do not live in glass bowls
on Welsh dressers – heirlooms from the dead –
but instead float through a sky of Spanish blue;
the blue distilled into a topaz on my finger.
The orange trees are a dream of five treasure chests.
I want to pluck them out of the ground, cup
the orange heart of them close to me.
The orange trees of Altea rain their blossoms
down on me singing of the Levante.
On a hot night, the Mediterranean floats over
steep hills and rests on me. This beach,
on this Costa Blanca coast, bears soft pebbles
slipping down to the sea, caught in a white wrath
of waves. I finger two pebbles in my pocket,
perfectly round, warm stones and there is nothing left
but the sea, dark sky, the ice mountains of Sierra Helada
and me. And a dream of five orange trees.


Marion McCready lives in Dunoon, Argyll. She has won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award and the Melita Hume Poetry Prize. She is the author of two poetry collections – Tree Language (Eyewear Publishing, 2014) and Madame Ecosse (2017).

Featured Publication – These Are The Hands – Poems from the Heart of the NHS, Edited by Deborah Alma and Dr Katie Amiel

Our featured publication for June is These Are The Hands – Poems from the Heart of the NHS, edited by Deborah Alma and Dr Katie Amiel, published by Fair Acre Press.

This anthology offers a unique insight into the real experiences of the people at the heart of the NHS – from the student nurse at the start of his career to the heart surgeon on the eve of her retirement. We also hear the stories of those whose vital work is often unseen and unsung from domestic cleaning staff to sign language interpreters.

The poems offer unflinchingly honest and intimate accounts from the people who care for us from the moment of birth to the end of life. In crystallising the most beautiful and painful moments of being human, they speak directly to all our experience. Above all these poems are about our shared humanity. They are about the compassion and care that lie at the heart of the NHS and in all our lives. They also serve as a stark reminder of the human cost of trying to offer compassionate care in a system that is underfunded and understaffed and the importance of showing the same compassion and support to the staff we depend on to hold the NHS together.

Here is the big, beautiful, beating heart of the NHS as you’ve never seen it before. Tender, sinewy, passionate, intimate. What a book – what a celebration of all that unites us. Truly wonderful’ Rachel Clarke

Deeply moving poetry from the people who work to keep us whole and healthy
and happy and who care for us when we’re broken’ Mark Haddon

This is a beautiful book: heartfelt and intimate’ Adam Kay

The very heart of who we are and what we are here for. An exciting and wonderful book’ Michael Rosen

A wonderful anthology to celebrate the NHS, which is itself the best poem a country
has ever written’ Stephen Fry

Every ward and waiting room should have a copy’ Simon Armitage

TATH front cover high res (1)

First Last-Offices

We were goslings pushed to the front of the skein,
made to flap our wings. As hatchlings we had emerged
more turtle than goose – able to turn to saltwater
we were chosen for our instinct to forge alone.

One November night, sounds of sleep and mattresses
bowing filled the cardiac ward, unaffected
by an old man’s death in a side-room. I was alone
until another first-year student was sent to help.

We were eight-months into our training.
Unsure and timid in the ritual of last offices,
we started to wash his cooling body – whispering,
telling him we were in flight. In our first week

we had been warned to see ourselves without glory.
One held him as the other washed and dried him
keeping him safe in the air, shielding him
with a sheet until we laid him back down in his shroud.

We did as we’d been taught on a class dummy
and remembered right – our last offices were nodded at
when Night Sister descended and tugged at our flesh
raptor-like. We repeatedly closed his eyelids.

Tears smarted at homemade jam sandwiches
wrapped in greaseproof paper – unopened and fresh
in his locker. The handmade Get-Well card for Grandad
we saved in a plastic bag marked, Belongings.

Margaret Adkins, Student Nurse


On Sydney Street, someone’s dropped
a paper bird. I can make those.
The crispness of the fold defines the way
it flies. That, and the way you grasp it.
I once sat with a dying child,
filled his room with yellow birds
from folded Xray paper.
He gave them eyes and coloured spots
across their wings. Retinoblastoma.
For years I dreamt of marker pen
on naked heads, of basements
where hushed beds passed at night,
hung about with fluids, the chill,
the dark, the roaches, the Night Pink’s
outdoor cloak, two of us with torches
to check the sick were sleeping.
Some things stay: the way a blackbird
sings through all the gaps in rain,
the pulsing smell of sun on London
pavements, the art of folding paper.

Ann Gray, Nurse


My fingers walked
to the fourth intercostal space.
This is where I placed
the first gel-backed tab.
The next went

opposite, across the sternum, on the nipple line.
Easy then to make
a descending arc, attach the leads
until a trace appeared;
the heart. Unlike in films

when it stopped for good
the line was never completely flat,
but wavering like the slap of water
against the dock
long after a boat has passed.

Roy Marshall, Coronary care and research nurse 


I think of the little girl
who will wear this spinal
jacket, its candy pink hardness
coated with butterflies
forcing her kyphotic spine
in to conformity.

Clasped between its two halves,
like a turtle shell
it will keep her protected
from the taunts of others-

………………………………………………Cripple! Hunchback!

These names will bounce off
her new suit of armour,
like ricocheting bullets.

Inside, she starts to grow,
straightens like a sapling
seeking the sun.
She begins to feel


Roshni Beeharry, Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine



you have come here for answers, and surely
you realise there is little
here but dust, bone, splinter;
the sweltering heat, the small white fan
languishing; the air, the sweat
gleaming at the nape of a nurse’s neck

darkness outside, and here —
the lighthouse —
frenzied and feral

where is the meaning in an open wound;
where the cartography in saltwater, iron, broken
tooth and copper, all the splinters
of a long-gone comet split in us
skin to skin

what do I have to give you, but what makes us
more than weft of tendon, capillary, gyrus;
what makes us tend to each other
in the burning of the world;
look at one another, still, and say:
how can I help you?
what can I do for you?

is there not joy in that, stubborn gladness;
tenderness with which I measure your wound
between thumb and finger, stitch needle through skin,
chart the stars of your fear,
and mine

shall we not call out in the darkness,
one to another;
shall we not try

strike the phosphorus
in our bones to

Jen Lua, Junior Doctor

These Are The Hands – Poems from the Heart of the NHS can be purchased from the Fair Acre Press website. All profits from the anthology are donated to the “NHS Charities Together” – Covid-19 Emergency Fund.

Avocets – Rebecca Gethin

Like dance notation writing itself
across blank sheets of mud
they run and walk, pause
and move on, swishing
their upturned beaks from side to side
through shallows and deeps,
each stilt-thin elegance
a twosome in counterpoint,
before the corps de ballet takes flight
from the stage of tides
their wings patterning
a choreography of air.


Rebecca Gethin has written 5 poetry publications and has been a Hawthornden Fellow and a Poetry School tutor. Messages was a winner in the first Coast to Coast to Coast pamphlet competition.  Vanishings from Palewell Press and a chapbook called Fathom from Marble are forthcoming in 2020.

Lenni – Gill McEvoy

She had no truck with softies –
you swam the river. Or not.

And, if not, endured
her silent scorn.

You went to the forest,
for bilberries. Or not.
Mosquitoes? Pah!
Lenni had no time for them.

Nor they for her – but you,
that was different.

When your bitten ankle
swelled and swelled

Lenni lathered it
with lead-water, didn’t care

if lead were poisonous
or not.

She brought you
to the deepest, coldest lake

and when you wouldn’t jump
she pushed you in.

Ah, Lenni, Lenni,
carving the cold lake water

with her long, strong arms,
marching to the forest

baskets swinging from her hands –
You coming? No? Pah!

And Pah! again.


Gill lives in Devon; member of the Totnes Company of Poets; Hawthornden Fellow; winner of the 2015 Michael Marks Award for “The First Telling” Happenstance Press.