Foolscap Cat – Mark Valentine

Foolscap Cat

Here on my lap
a long sheet of paper,
foolscap, flowing away at the top,
full of phrases I no longer understand
yet seem almost to grasp.

The scroll, a shadowy animal,
slides from me to the floor
and I recall, in the act of its fall,
my cat, who moved in just that way
from lolling about on my chest.

I know that both are lost
and all I have is the moment
when briefly I still held
whatever it was the words meant
and that black ghost.

Mark Valentine lives in Yorkshire near the Leeds-Liverpool canal. His poetry has been published in PN ReviewAgendaVolumeink, sweat & tearsPoetry Bus and elsewhere. A chapbook, Astarology, was published by Salo Press in Summer 2021.

The Last Night in the Cottage by the Sea – Hannah Linden

The Last Night in the Cottage by the Sea

I am inside. Walls are my biscuits. 
I could eat them all day long 
and never be full.

The carpet is the weave around hundreds of pockets. 
I have put myself inside them
piece by piece.

Wind howl down the chimney tells me
about the moon. Full outside comes 
with a shaft of light if I take a peep.

A silver stripe across the sea spreads 
triangular towards me. I am 
an unbalance of atoms caught in a time box.

Hannah Linden is published widely including or upcoming in Atrium, Lighthouse, Magma, New Welsh Review, Prole, Proletarian Poetry, Stand, The Interpreters’ House, Under the Radar and the 84 Anthology etc. She is working towards her first collection. Twitter: @hannahl1n

Genesis – Linda McKenna


This was a house of piano keys.
The clocks kept fairy tale time,
dinner was a guess, no one wore
pockets. I wove a nest of straw,
placed inside it a brother’s curl,
which one? buttons from a midden,
scraps of paper where I wrote
my name in ash, charcoal, blood.

My new husband said leave it,
it’s worthless. Why buttons,
here’s beads, that’s not your name
anymore; a house of straw will
always blow down.
But I hoarded
the treasure; stored it in a crevice
I carved into a Bible, hid it
in the attic against judgement day.

Linda McKenna’s debut poetry collection, In the Museum of Misremembered Things, was published by Doire Press in 2020. She has had poems published in a variety of publications including, Poetry Ireland Review, Banshee, The North, The Honest Ulsterman, Crannóg.

A Tyre Changer Can Earn £350k Per Year – Niall M Oliver

A Tyre Changer Can Earn £350k Per Year

When I look back, I see a multi-million pound
Formula One pit-crew,
making snap decisions at break-neck speed,
but instead of shaving seconds off,
their goal is to add precious time
onto precious lives— underpaid NHS nurses
and midwives rush around the motionless bodies
of my wife and new-born child,
their engines barely ticking over,
me, an open-mouthed spectator,
but today there will be no final lap
or chequered flag, as light reappears
in my wife’s eyes, and our son’s first cries
fill the room. Our race goes on
and just like that our pit-crew has gone,
leaving us to celebrate upon our podium
with rounds of buttery toast and hot cups of tea.

Niall M Oliver lives in Ireland, and is the author of ‘My Boss’ by Hedgehog Poetry. His poems have featured in Acumen, Atrium, The Honest Ulsterman, Fly On The Wall Press, Ink Sweat & Tears and others. Twitter @NMOliverPoetry

(Hygd and Seek) – Laura Varnam



For Queen Hygd in the Old English epic Beowulf.

Laura Varnam is a Lecturer in English Literature at University College, Oxford. Her work is inspired by the medieval poetry that she teaches. She has poems published in Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Oxford Magazine, Green Ink Poetry and forthcoming in Dreich. Twitter: @lauravarnam

Falling in love with a second PE teacher was reckless – Galia Admoni

Falling in love with a second PE teacher was reckless

Galia is a British-Israeli writer, musician and crafter, who works full time as Head of English, media and film at a secondary school in North London. She has lectured at the Shakespeare Institute, the British Library and is on the committee for the London Association for the Teaching of English. Follow her on Twitter @galiamelon

Featured Publication – This Fruiting Body by Caleb Parkin

Our featured publication for November is This Fruiting Body by Caleb Parkin, published by Nine Arches Press.

Caleb Parkin’s debut poetry collection, This Fruiting Body, plunges us into octopus raves and Sega Megadrive oceans, in the company of Saab hermit crabs and ASDA pride gnomes. It’s a playful invitation to a queer ecopoetics that permeates our bodies and speech, our gardens, homes, and city suburbs. It reintroduces us to a Nature we’ve dragged up until it’s unrecognisable.

This Fruiting Body is an exhilarating book that fractures categories by showing the reader what thrives beyond the prison of the human self. The queer filaments between its poems form a compassionate brocade that holds together all living creatures, the dreams of ants and mould allowed to ‘billow and spore’ alongside deep-fried skyscrapers and ASDA pride gnomes. The stakes are urgent, the days ‘trembling like antennae’ but let’s think like a dung beetle, one poem whispers, and ‘roll the sun together’. Generous, monstrous and inspiring.” John McCullough

Unwriting and rewriting our myths of ‘nature’, This Fruiting Body is a thrilling collection of queer love songs for the earth. Parkin’s femme earth mother may be on an IV drip, but she wears her artifice with joy and audacity: this is mother earth, drag queen of the universe, a body aching from harm but still devoted to pleasure. Parkin’s poems are infinitely lavish and full of wit, morphing human and more-than-human bodies in a post-human lyric disco lit with ecological thought. I felt better and wetter after reading it: more open to the press of language, life, and the strangeness of the earth. Samantha Walton


All the chipshops I have ever been to

are stacked up, a deep-fried skyscraper,
somewhere on the East Anglian coast. This tower
of bubbling fat concealed beyond Clacton-on-Sea,
Walton-on-the-Naze, casts shadows near the shibboleth of Aldeburgh.

In the blue-black-grey around Cromer’s ingrown pier,
an undrownable orange buoy invites me in, to swim.

Still, enveloped food shifts across their miles of steel
counter, papers shaken through with white plastic
bollards of salt. The North Sea lingering in flesh,
mushy peas copied and pasted until no longer green.

Meanwhile, Sizewell B is a puffball on the horizon,
domed as a worm moon rising, eye with no iris.

In the steaming museum cases of the tower’s counters,#
the crispy sarcophagi of battered sausages, preserved
remains of Cod: body after body, dredged up in silver cages;
hundreds of Pukka Pies in their capsized foil crowns.

At Dunwich Heath, the oyster-catchers are on strike,
curlews are threatening to straighten their beaks.

The tower wavers like seaweed, shimmers – a candle,
its unknown postcode defined by the scent of
second-hand oil, slicked through wardrobes. Chips
in the toes of socks, fishbones catching at collars.

In each of those chipshops, the radio plays
the creak of a sign, rush of a wave – then static.

After the Section 14

‘Police have banned Extinction Rebellion protests from continuing anywhere in
London, as they moved in almost without warning to clear protesters who remained
at the movement’s camp in Trafalgar Square.’ – The Guardian,
October 15th 2019

The morning after the news, I pass Oxford Circus where giant screens
order me to Taste the feeling, but when I arrive at Trafalgar Square,
all I can taste is the bitter aftermath of extortionate coffee.

All I can taste is regurgitated water, rushing from the beaks of these dolphins,
chins restrained by metal hands. All I can taste is the feeling that these tourists
are grey ghosts, that I am a ghost, on this stone grid. All I can taste is the sickly mess

in the jaws of bin-raiding wasps. The lights on police vans flashing like migraines.
The sign keeps demanding, in thousands of diodes and fast-cut swirly edits to
Taste the fucking feeling. But all I can taste are inedible scraps pecked at by pigeons.

All I can taste are three police overseeing one flip-flopped man. Then, megaphones
descend from the gritted teeth of the National Gallery; the lasso of high-vis tightens,
each jacket clutches their own hands, formal, blank-faced; eyes flit and ears await

instruction from elsewhere. By the rented Thames, Big Ben reveals its new face –
features rusted, commanding. We crowd in and nearby a cracked voice demands:
Are you affiliated? Then again: Are you affiliated? It’s a simple question. A simple question.

Caleb Parkin is the third Bristol City Poet. He won second prize in the National Poetry Competition 2016 and the Winchester Poetry Prize 2017. Poems in The Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, The Rialto, Under the Radar, Butcher’s Dog and Molly Bloom. Wasted Rainbow (tall-lighthouse, Feb 2021). This Fruiting Body (Nine Arches, October 14th ). Tweet: @CalebParkin

This Fruiting Body is available to purchase from the Nine Arches Press website.

Clapham Rick – Marc Woodward

Clapham Rick

When Clapham Rick stayed with us for a week
we hid our little silver knick-knacks,
those which could fall into pockets unmissed
until some days later when a lack of dust
would cough their absence from the mantelpiece.
We felt rotten – as if we’d breached his trust.
He said he’d dumped the junk and kicked the horse,
was clean as snow but for the booze, of course.

He said our farmhouse with its bird-pulled thatch
made him feel uncomfortable, spooked by bats
outside the window, the only night sound
the scrabble of house mice. He couldn’t rest
without a traffic lullaby to drown
out the darkness. It was probably best
he didn’t come to stay in January –
when vixens scream like injured babies.

Devon based poet and musician Marc Woodward’s recent collections include Hide Songs (Green Bottle 2018) and The Tin Lodes – co-written with Andy Brown (Indigo Dreams 2020). His new collection Shaking The Persimmon Tree will be published by Sea Crow Press in April 2022. Find more at: and  and @marcomando 

The lettuce – Nora Blascsok

The lettuce

Waits for the day
Of reckoning
Snap after snap
Blanket on cheese
And ham
You will never
Get to the core
Of the problem
By peeling away layers
It will reveal itself
When you least expect
Throw away plastic
& crunch the stub


Nora Blascsok is a Hungarian poet based in the UK. Her work has appeared in a variety of online and print publications. A selection of her poems titled ‘Headspace’ is out with Broken Sleep Books imprint Legitimate Snack in September 2021.