Field study in wildness eradication – Marcia Hindson

Field study in wildness eradication

Begin with a house.

Fill it with thunder, always turned loud.

In the back bedroom, trap seven octopuses to swim
two sisters’ ceiling so neither will learn to dream.

Introduce gardens of books that ladybirds
will crawl from all over the murky hallway.

Encourage mother’s shadow to construct
haunted castles from the pages.

A wolf dressed as a buck rabbit should be let in
on a Friday night to sleep on the wrecked settee.

If he decides to strangle mother whenever
she sings, do not be alarmed. She’s unnecessary.

Construct the first dad as a fairytale ogre
all the faraway cousins will fawn over.

Have him lock oldest sister in a bible
when she reaches ten, forget to feed her.

Arrange for an owl-faced man to swear
she is as dark as Sylvia Plath so she has
to fuck his older brother inside a bell jar
at the front of a ruined chemistry class.

Do not chase her when she runs away
with a vampire after he convinces
her cracked head to become a circus.

Ban her from making friends with her heart
in case it is an unfenced field grown
specifically to home runaway horses in.

Let one of their childhood friends belong
to the moon so when it takes her body back
at thirty the sisters will blossom sadness.

Do not laugh when one of them falls head over
numpty in love with her dazzling best friend.

When the pair of them begin to write beautiful stories
on each other’s toes force him to feed hers to gulls.

Teach the oldest lass that puddles
can also be oceans where she will have
to watch an antlered man drown.

Wrap the whole experiment up in cotton,
place in a drawer at the bottom of a pantry.

Pickle for decades so the vinegar can strengthen.
Unscrew the lid and watch the glorious mess coagulate.

Then the important part:

Find the next naïve ingredients.
Keep performing this, on repeat.


Marcia Hindson’s work has appeared in The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed With Pipework, Bare Fiction, and also regularly published in Vext Magazine. She has recently learned that her garden is not a scary place, so is currently coaxing a myriad of root vegetables to come and live there. She will, of course, end up naming them all.

Moonrakers – Richard Westcott


Lunatic, Sir?
Come and see for yourself – here is the moon
in all her silver glory.  Full to the brim
and shimmering, as real as you and me.

Afflicted, Sir?
How can that be, for there she rests
all ready now for harvesting.
I simply need to rake her in.

Be gentle, Sir
as there are times you must stand back
to let her find herself.  And then
surprised, the prize is yours.

Moonraking, Sir
that’s what we do.  No fatuity
though I admit, she must be filled
and you be careful with your tines.

And so farewell
there’s work for all of us to do
you must search for brandy smugglers
while we sane people rake up the moon.


Wiltshire yokels, raking a pond for kegs of smuggled brandy, feigned lunacy when surprised by the excise men, saying that they were trying to rake out the moon, which was reflected in the water.

The Lunacy Act of 1842 defined a lunatic as someone ‘afflicted with a period of fatuity in the period following a full moon’.

Richard Westcott, for many happy years a GP in north Devon, now has no excuse not to get down to writing. He blogs at and he’s been pleasantly surprised to win a few prizes here and there. His pamphlet is published by Indigo Dreams –

Phone Call – William Thompson

Phone Call

The news of how you’d stepped out of the pub’s
milky puddle of light on New Year’s Eve
to meet the swerve of a car’s headlamps
arrived with the same muffled shock
I imagine in your face just before impact.
So, natural teacher I’ve been told you were,
writer of long letters, pedaller through downpours,
this was the final lesson that you gave,
unsettling, life affirming: leaving my dad
gripping the kitchen worktop, the hand
that holds the phone gone almost limp
as my mum, in tears herself, props him up,
his shoulders slackening against her weight
his lovely head against her collarbone.


William Thompson is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Bristol. His work has been published in Lighthouse, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Cannon’s Mouth and is forthcoming in The Best New British and Irish Poets 2019-2020. Twitter: @willthompson237

Next up is the asteroid – Allen Ashley

Next up is the asteroid

and although several countries have space programmes it turns out no-one has the right equipment in terms of guided missiles, which leads to a huge verbal fallout from the international blame game.

When the rock crashes to earth the news media salivates once again. Beasts from the east, war, floods, famine, Brexit, Covid and now this… our cup runneth over!

The resulting dust clouds gather but the President tells us, “I’ve got this big stone thing covered, it’s fake news, folks, just a hail shower.”

Primed by the pandemic, we all return to lockdown in our homes hoping the sky won’t stay dark for too many months because the Premier League season’s only just got started.

Sure, there will be food shortages: tomatoes, flour, bananas, cranberries – basically anything that needs a little sunshine in order to grow. Still, we’ve learnt our lesson and already stocked up on toilet roll, so that’s all good. Just a shame that the water supply has been turned off.


Allen Ashley’s poetry has recently been published at “Oddball”, and “Bonnie’s Crew”, in  “Indigomania”, and in his collection “Echoes from an Expired Earth” (Demain Publishing, 2020). Allen is President Elect of the British Fantasy Society.

Snowdrops – Richie McCaffery


After being open to the elements
for years they finally put
a new slate roof on the old chapel
at Warkworth graveyard.

No-one is using the building though,
just the diocese trying to make watertight
their case for God. The edges
of the yard are dotted with snowdrops.

If I believed, I could convince myself
it’s the dead putting
their skulls together,
recalling white winters.


Richie McCaffery lives in Alnwick, Northumberland. He’s the author of two poetry collections fro 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:

Chester – Stephen Claughton


He was from Chester, you said,
the builder who swindled you,
as if that made everything right.

Chester was where you first taught,
where your father died,
where you met and married Dad.

It has its famous Rows,
a Norman cathedral and castle,
a racecourse and a zoo.

Yes. I remember Chester.
As kids, we’d have lunch in Quaintways,
then walk along the walls,

or take boat trips on the Dee.
Years later, I rowed my wife
as far as Eccleston Ferry.

Let’s hear it for the place
that the Romans called Deva Victrix.
Is there anywhere else you know

that can boast a hypocaust
in the basement of Spudulike?
Chester, home of Hollyoaks,

the Chester Mystery Cycle,
the Jolly Miller of Dee
and the Deva Ladies’ Choir.

Home, too, of whoever he was,
that scheming, Cestrian crook,
who ripped my mother off,

a rogue roofer who called on spec
and got her to change good tiles
for ones that didn’t match —

always a sucker for charm.
He was from Chester, you say?
So, don’t they have criminals there?


Stephen Claughton has published two pamphlets, The War with Hannibal (Poetry Salzburg, 2019) and The 3-D Clock (Dempsey & Windle, 2020). He reviews regularly for London Grip and links to his reviews, poems and pamphlets can be found at



This is what happens to poetry after years of under-investment – Tim Love

This is what happens to poetry after years of under-investment

Depression’s a shadow that doesn’t fade
when you turn the light off in this cheap hotel.
Extras are paid more here if they speak,
so they go “Uh Uh Uh” in the next room.

At least it rhymes. Unable to sleep, you take a walk
in the snow where the cable-cars keep going all night.
You’ve never seen stray dogs with such expressive eyes,
or roads so bright with moonlight.

If you could hold back the tears
you could write about how you’re not always
like this – it’s just that some reactions
bypass the mind. You don’t know why.

You’d prefer to sway between cafe tables
singing about how sad love is, your
heirloom accordion keys yellowed except
for one you got a grant to mend, brilliantly white.

Back at your hotel they’re still at it next door.
You sit on your bed, your boots dripping, wondering
why you wrote a poem instead of a prayer, though
you’ve always been confused about the difference.


Tim Love’s publications are 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

When it’s all over, I’ll go to Thailand – Catherine Baker

When it’s all over, I’ll go to Thailand

I will walk down Soi Suanplu 8, again, in the early morning,
when the tuk tuk drivers are eating and laughing over their rice bowls.

My granddaughter will be wearing a dress printed with forget-me-nots,
I’ll wear my long shorts and old red flip-flops.

We’ll wander through the scent of frangipani and fried egg
and examine every bright flower in the pavement cracks,
notice stones and insects, puzzle over the water drains.

I will hold her hand as we look at the carp in the hotel pool
and nod to the three-legged dog outside 7 Eleven.

When we reach the banana lady’s stall, she’ll be there
shining in her wrinkles, she will call “Sawasdee kaa, hallo”,
to Lyla, who will be shy and cling to my bare leg.

Then she  will choose a small, perfectly cooled,
grilled banana and place it on my baby girl’s golden palm.
And I will bow and say thank you.


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 – The Significance of a Dress by Emma Lee

Our featured publication for August is The Significance of a Dress by Emma Lee, published by Arachne Press.

Nothing is unimportant in The Significance of A Dress, where next year is not the future but a question. Each refugee, suffragette or shushed voice and narrative encompassed by the poems is personal and individual, yet simultaneously universal in its reach and significance. In ‘Dismantling The Jungle’, flames form “an echo of a former life”. This vivid collection is full of such flames and echoes. Whether it’s “Each dress hangs from a noose” (‘Bridal Dresses in Beirut’) or “Everything Abdel sees is smeared, despite his glasses” (Stories from The Jungle), Emma Lee’s focus is precise, poised and packs emotional punch. Her evocative imagery is reinforced by taut lines, striking juxtapositions and intimate, moving details. The Significance of A Dress is a beautiful, powerful and haunting collection.‘ S A Leavesley

From the title page of The Significance of a Dress, Emma Lee cleverly fashions a feminist metaphor for #MeToo into uncompromising forms. These include the terrible symbol of bridal dresses hung from nooses in Beirut, signifying rapists absolved of their crimes through marrying their victims, a figure walking home in the UK uncertain whether she is safe from rape after a recent attack in the area, and further victims of rape and domestic abuse. The reader is never let go, with head dunked into the murky waters of domestic life until forced to accept Lee’s compelling argument of a grossly unequal world. The poet does this with immense skill in versification, giving her audience no option but to pay attention. This is daring, well-imagined poetry with global scope, giving voice to women from myriad backgrounds and cultures. It goes far beyond the boundaries of #MeToo, arguing the world has become one of disturbing realm of sexual inequality, in an atmosphere of constant threat. Lee’s collection addresses unfairness, advocating for those who have been denied the ability to speak for themselves.‘ Dr James Fountain

Front Cover Emma Lee


I saw life jackets left on the beach
Kos, Summer 2015

I asked the waiter, but he shrugged.
Later he loaded crates into the manager’s car.
She looked dead on her feet, said something
about an extra sitting at dinner.
But there weren’t any new guests.
It was my two weeks in the sun.
I’d eaten nothing but lettuce
for weeks to look OK in my bikini.

The waiter stopped flirting, went quiet.
I followed him to the derelict hotel where tents
had sprung up like mushrooms overnight.
He didn’t want to talk. I didn’t push it.
You learn that at a call centre. Some people
think you’re a machine and they just poke buttons.
Others, you’re the only person they’ve talked to all day.
I’d only come to sunbathe
so helping give out food didn’t seem much.

One mother told me men drifted around
and she didn’t think her daughters were safe.
After their journey, they didn’t want confinement
to a crowded room. I became a chaperone.
I taught them hopscotch on the beach.
Their laughter such a strange sound.
Paperwork’s slow at the best of times.
I left my euros for the hotel to pass on.
I hope it helped. I bought them sanitary pads.
People don’t think about that:
their bodies capable of creating life.

Previously published in The Morning Star


The significance of a dress
(Refugee camp northern Iraq)

Even if home is makeshift and her carriage is a borrowed
pair of shoes that dance over gravel baked in the desert heat,
a bride still wants to feel special, at least for one day.
No one can afford to buy when twenty neighbours share
a latrine and there’s a constant vigil against disease.
Tulin, named after a daughter, offers gown hire, make-up
and hairstyling that will withstand humid evenings.
“I don’t ask how old they are,” says the beautician. A mural
outside shows a girl in a white gown holding a teddy bear.
The future is tomorrow. Next year is a question.
A wedding is a party, a welcome, a sign of hope.
The dresses sparkle with sun-reflected diamante
but the gravel paths of the camp leave the hems stained.

Previously published in “A Scream of Many Colours” (Poetry Space 2018)


The Bridal Dresses in Beirut

Each dress hangs from a noose.
One is plain satin with scalloped lace,
another an orgy of tulle,
dreamy organza with applique flowers
hanging from wire
strung between palm trees.
One is short, a shift with a tulip skirt,
the sort of dress picked
in a hurry to satisfy a shotgun
or Article 522.
The breeze breathes through them,
bullies the dresses into ghosts,
brides with no substance,
angels bereft of their voices.

[Part of a protest against Article 522 of the Lebanese Penal Code which exonerates rapists if they marry their victim. The Article has now been repealed.]

Previously published in Dreamcatcher (UK) and Red Earth Review (USA)


How a Dress Lost its Sparkle

“Why did they discard their clothes on the beach?”
he repeats as if another asking will adjust the answer
to one he wants to hear. He thinks mothers should launder

their own children’s clothes. He’s not placated by the answer
that discarded clothes are washed, dried and recycled
for the next boatload, for the next and the next.

Above him is Arabella Dorman’s “Suspended”,
discarded clothing gathered from beaches held
by wires and illuminated by a spherical lamp

that alternates between yellow and bright
white light, sun and moon. The clothes are flat,
no longer needing three dimensions to cover bodies.

Amongst them is a long-sleeved, ankle length pink dress
to fit a five-year-old, covered in a layer of gold gauze.
A special occasion dress that sparkles as the light changes.

A dress that doesn’t warm on cold nights, that shows dirt
and sweat, that absorbs salt water and fears, that if pulled
over a mouth would hide the bit lip that stops tears.

It won’t launder without soap and what does its wearer wear
while it’s washed? A closer look reveals a tide mark of salt,
an obstinate, rusty stain. Mementos no one wants to keep.

[“Suspended” by Arabella Dorman is an art installation hosted by Leicester Cathedral during the Journeys Festival.]

Previously published in The Bosporus Review


Emma Lee was born in South Gloucestershire and now lives in Leicestershire. Her poems, short stories and articles have appeared in many anthologies and magazines worldwide. Emma’s most recent collection is “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, UK 2015).  She has performed her work at The Poetry Cafe in London, all three Leicestershire universities, at LCFC, the Jam Factory in Oxford, Hatherley Manor in Cheltenham, amongst other venues. She’s also read poems for BBC Radio and EAVA FM and joined panels organised by the University of Leicester’s Sociology, Communications and Media department to talk about artistic responses to the refugee crisis arising from her co-editing of “Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge” and curation of Journeys in Translation. Currently she is on the committee of Leicester Writers’ Club and the steering group for the Leicester Writers’ Showcase. Emma Lee also reviews for five poetry magazines, and is Poetry Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib. She blogs at

The Significance of a Dress is available to purchase from the Arachne Press website.