Attercliffe – Iain Twiddy

The tram stands and spits at Attercliffe:
its litter of chicken shops and strip clubs,
the close testosterone swell of spliffs.
Three skids get on, a duffer from the pub,
a bulling woman huffing a buggy,
another son behind: fluffy, gawky,
a long drained face and limbs. A black
tracksuit top, bottoms lit by white socks.

He stands by his mum, sniffs, against the rail,
absorbed in his chewed-up book: How to Care
for Your Giant African Land Snail.
Three grey minutes to Nunnery Square.
He zips the book in his top, gets in line,
slips out thinly into the dissolving rain.


Iain Twiddy studied literature at university and lived for several years in northern Japan. His poetry has appeared in StandPoetry Ireland ReviewThe Stinging Fly, and elsewhere.

The Wait – Rachael Clyne

The Wait

The image of a bleach bottle
at her lips, lingers in the room.
Its walls echo with car-crash sounds.
I feel the draw of a noose, her urge to jump.

Each week, she pleads to stay.
With fixed eyes, she forces me
to deny her, make her leave.
I cling to my professional chair.

She’s already had her week’s ration,
so pills are off the menu. I wonder
if she’ll be here next week, she asks
for a method that is certain. I am silent.

The crisis team can’t do home visits,
they too are in a critical state.
An overdose merits a day in A&E
then a cab, or a twenty-mile walk home.

Her GP has become a placebo
‘somehow they muddle through’,
he says. I know he cares, but like me,
must wait for her storm to break.


Rachael Clyne is widely published in journals. Her recent pamphlet, Girl Golem (4Word is about her migrant origins and sense of otherness. She is involved in climate activism and hopes the lockdown has changed our ways.

Known for Sure – Dane Holt

Known for Sure

They reported what was known for sure. Last seen on the veranda
of the new hotel wearing a wool suit that warmest day of June.
So, who saw him later that night, similarly suited, nailing something
to his own front door? (A late invoice, though no later than the others.)
Questions across the board. Like, who added in big red letters
that misquotation from The Rubaiyat the three detectives wasted

three days deciphering? Now they begun finding teeth, how
innocent is his dentist-wife? Who stood him that fateful gin while
he sat – where we are now – threatening, like a binbag, to spill all?
Can any of us say they never felt the silk of his suit lining? Who didn’t
know the width of his sleeve? Honestly. Yes, I offered the suitcase
he folded himself into. But who cut his throat for good measure?


Dane Holt’s poems have appeared in The White ReviewPoetry Ireland ReviewThe Tangerine and HU.

Eggshells and fontanelles – Finola Scott

Eggshells and fontanelles

I bring eggs from the farm
in brown paper bag,
no protection at all.
Free range they’re stuck
with fluff feathers.

Pale as thick cream, so tiny.
My palm reaches to stroke
newborn curves.
Thin strongboxes
cradle ripening treasure.

With sharp taps of spoons
my wee ones scoop past
membranes to silky whites
sun bright yolks.
Bantie gifts.


* Bantie is short for bantam – a breed of small hen

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.

Rosy apples – Richie McCaffery

Rosy apples

The old tuck shop’s now a vaping place,
passing it reminds me of walking home
from school with my best friend Dane
and buying a bag of rosy apple sweets.

Slurping on one, Dane laughed and it fell –
bagatelle-like – down his windpipe.
Somehow, as he choked, I managed
to knock the thing back out again.

Had it stayed put, he’d be dead now.
Instead, it moved up and he thrives.
I live only a few miles from here,
Dane’s a flight away. His mother says

he’s big up in management, doing well.
We’ve not spoken a word since school.


Richie McCaffery lives in Alnwick, Northumberland. He’s the author of two poetry collections from Nine Arches Press – Cairn (2014) and Passport (2018) as well as two pamphlets, including Spinning Plates (2012, HappenStance Press). He also has another pamphlet due out later this year from Mariscat Press. His blog / website also hosts poems by fellow poets and can be found at:

Ritual – Jonathan Totman


Need more, you say,
as we slosh our way
back and forth across the crazy paving,

seeing to our family of pots,
new shoots reaching like language
from their open mouths.

You’re right, they’re thirsty,
water trickling
through their fine compost,

leaking from their hidden holes,
the woodlouse caves at their base.
It’s the muck they hang on to:

cat shit, petals,
our too-tough bits of veg
blended up by the worms.

Daily, this ritual:
the three-handed hoist of the can,
the spray bouncing off your hand,

compelled to feel,
the pooling at your feet
and the going back for more.


Jonathan’s pamphlet ‘Explosives Licence’ was a winner in Templar Poetry’s 2018 IOTA Shot competition. His first collection will be published by Pindrop Press in 2020.

Another Impulse Purchase at the Map Shop – Fiona Larkin

Another Impulse Purchase at the Map Shop

the bestselling globe is organic cotton
an Ecological Cloth Planet
stuffed with recycled plastic bottles

here maps are dispatched
as scratch-away posters
lampshades, confetti

and a laundry bag for your travels
glows by the till, an atlas
printed on its foldable void

polyester land-masses
the colour of sand
capital cities a blur of brown

the red seams
of each coastline
seeping into the sea

and a drawstring
which cuts off the Pole


Fiona Larkin’s debut pamphlet, A Dovetail of Breath, was published by Rack Press in 2020. She was highly commended by the Forward Prizes 2019 in the best single poem category, and she organises innovative poetry events with Corrupted Poetry.  @fionalarkin

Water and how I know it – Catherine Baker

Water and how I know it

I saw it in cloven hoof pocks,
where tadpoles hatched, squirming.

I stood in it, wading with mangroves,
bitten by mosquitoes.

I saw it in clouds and falling from the sky.
I swam it, the greys, greens and blue.

I ran it through my fingers at baptismal fonts.
I drank it, put it in my body, let it out.

I heard its frigid creak above the roly poly
seals hunting golomyanka in Baikal.

I bathed my babies in it, swirled
their nappies in buckets and bowls.

I breathed it in on Fox Glacier,
a scented drift of knives and daffodils.

I knelt helpless as it drained
from a drip stand into your PICC line.

My grandmother carried it everyday,
swaying in heavy, silver pails.


Catherine Baker has been published by Stand, Snakeskin and Amaryllis. She was highly commended in The Prole Poet Laureate competition in April 2020.  She has poems in anthologies such as Poetry from Gloucestershire and Ways to Peace. She was runner up in GWN poetry competition, 2018, the poem was read at the Cheltenham Literary Festival.

Featured Publication – thirty-one small acts of love and resistance by Steve Pottinger

Our featured publication for July is thirty-one small acts of love and resistance by Steve Pottinger, published by Ignite Books.

Steve’s sixth collection of poems is a glorious weaving of celebration and defiance in politically turbulent times.

‘These are hard-hitting poems salted with a good dose of Black Country humour. They are poems from a poet who is only too aware of the bad press that has been doled out unjustly over the years to places like Wolverhampton. The rot set in as early as the first half of the 19th century when the young Princess Victoria ordered her servant to pull down the blind so that she could be spared the horror of looking at the Black Country, an episode which Pottinger recounts in ‘Trainspotting, 1832’ and then goes to show how this attitude still prevails today in a poem where a machinist called Kevin wonders “when will the cameras come to Tipton?”…
…Pottinger is a perceptive social critic with a great eye for detail. His pace and delivery, which is even evident from the printed page, is just what we have come to expect from this accomplished performance poet.’ Neil Leadbetter, Write Out Loud


Glass collector

Let us sing of the mouse-quiet collector
of glasses, clearer of plates, wiper of tables,
he who returns sauce bottles to their
allotted place on the worktop
he who takes no space at all
asks no space at all
who is seventeen
who will surprise you by butting into
your conversation about the Milky Way
with an extensive knowledge of cosmology
who will shrug and say he taught himself
because what else is there to do here
really, what else is there to do?
Let us sing of the mouse-quiet collector
of glasses, his slow orbit round tables,
of sauce bottles and wisdom
and no space at all.
Let us raise our glasses.
Let us sing.

Winner of the Bread & Roses comp, 2018


Olives only once, mind…

Two years on, she sleeps
whichever side of the bed she wants,
spends money how she fancies.
Tries olives, cocktails, trampolines.
Visits an art gallery, paints a wall,
sits in the garden for hours
watching the light shift, change,
fade, fall. Sings in the bath,
the kitchen too, if the mood takes her.
Goes to the gym and the pub. Loves both.
Loves chips more. Is a woman
of appetite and smiles.
Apologises for nothing.

Doesn’t think of him at all.

Previously published as a postcard poem by PoL


The drunken Polish labourer, homesickness, and the 529

if there is god thinks Piotr
then this bus will not stop
at sentchiles sick tempull
places which he cannot name
places which all look the same
bus will not leave him in darkness
on dog-shit chip-box puddle pavement
cold flat waiting

if there is god, bus will drive through night
head south, east through towns
villages neon cities lit by rain
will fall idle only on boat, engine cooling
Piotr will swig at beer through sunrise
turn up music on his phone
see autobahn and kirche
from top deck front seat window

if there is god
bus will deliver him to dark bread,
barszcz, kielbasa, kopytka,
wódka, wódka, wódka
Piotr gazes out into blur of noo slain
knows bus will deliver him home
if there is god
if there is fockin god

(St Giles, Sikh Temple, and Noose Lane are stops on the 529 bus route from Wolverhampton to Walsall)
Runner-up in the Prole Laureate poetry competition


after years of putting her down john bull kicks europa out of his house and embraces a bright new future where he makes his own rules.
and John shrugs his shoulders
says it’s been coming for a while
plenty more fish out there, you know
another lager, landlord! smiles
slides money over the bar
breathes deep and crows of freedom
sinks the pint, again again again.

he’s back down the pub
telling anyone who’s there
that he’s fine without her
no more gip about leaving
the toilet seat up
no earache when he has
a harmless daytime tipple
he’s living the dream, people!
you saps should try it.

she needs him more than he needs her
you’ll see, she’ll be back, the bitch,
mark his words
crawling on her fucking knees.

pissed, he mutters about betrayal
shoots dark glances round the bar
asks for the loan of a tenner
till, well… whenever
you learn who your friends are
someone helped her take the bloody sofa
yer bastards, you lot, bastards.

she’s been seen walking out
with another fella on her arm
looking good, someone says
before they’re shushed to silence
and they all try to pretend
they can’t hear the sound
of a proud man lost
and sobbing in the toilets.

Previously published in the Bollocks to Brexit anthology, May 2019


Steve Pottinger is a dynamic and engaging performance poet, and an experienced workshop facilitator who shoe-horns spoken-word gigs into his busy schedule when he’s not plotting a benign world domination underpinned by sourdough bread and beer. He is a winner of the Culture Matters poetry and spoken word competitions, was runner-up in the 2019 Prole poetry competition, and has had his work widely published. Steve’s fifth volume of poems a fine fine place is published through Ignite, as were Island Songs and more bees bigger bonnets both of which have now sold out. He previously had two books of poetry published through AK Press: Shattered and Kissing It All. For more info about Steve and his work:

thirty-one small acts of love and resistance is available to purchase from the Ignite Books website.

Anorexia in the time of Covid – Anonymous

Anorexia in the time of Covid

It’s hard restricting when all the focus is on adequate, when people pile their trolleys full of plenty and talk is of the things that comfort: chocolate and home baked bread and wine – and there’s me spooning out my flax seed and imagining it sloughing off a millimetre from my colon and how much would that actually weigh? Then when my cracked thumb flesh decides to not-to-heal because I’m eating no-fat yoghurt as my source of protein because my brain has told me that a slice of ham (28 kcal) is far too much for one main meal, appears to not quite be sufficient to produce fibrinogen and every day I get to peer inside my hand instead and wonder at the germs and scrub and scrub, all times keeping up a perky smile and wearing pastels and a lovely lipstick.

It’s difficult when sometimes my head goes Oh fuck it! Have the fucking wine! And so I do and then I have the nuts and half a pack of crisps and seven grapes and a razor rind of cheese, two peeled carrots and a stolen Marks and Spencer’s choc liqueur and 4 sennacots, 6 prunes, 3 tablespoons of califig and next day have the fainting fugue, numb legs, heart jumps and lags and fearing that each nap attack might actually be death.

It’s not fun.
It’s not about my size 4 clothes.
It’s not about my bird wrists or the hollows in my chest where birds could bathe when I shower, but it’s all about control and

I have none