The Commons Falls Silent – Kathryn Alderman

The Commons Falls Silent

The Politician lists this year’s killed women
we count what we care about
offers up their names as though each
is a guttered flame trying to re-ignite.

The Honourable Members listen
in silence to the phantom pleas.
Some weep, imagine them as fireflies
wafting through dusty light shafts
to petition their MPs. Others
practise forbearance, think
of sponsored victuals and banter
in the Terrace Bar, nod appropriately
awful business –.

The names stack, form a coalition,
occupy vacant benches to demand
a yearly reckoning for killer men,
for them not to wander unattended,
for ring-if-you-feel-murderous helplines
perhaps, or tabloid scoops re-purposed
Femicide’s a Men’s Issue Shock!

Year on year their insistence soars and falls
on the living, and the living slough
them off like old woes. Year on year
their numbers swell and overrun
The House. They count their worth,
the answer is silence

Kathryn Alderman is widely published in magazines, anthologies etc., she’s read at live events e.g. the Cheltenham Literature and Cheltenham Poetry Festivals. She’s an ‘ancient’ Masters student of Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Gloucestershire, working on her first pamphlet. Twitter: @kmalderman1    Insta: k_m_alderman   

Although – Nora Nadjarian


Although we can still talk about it as survivors do
and all the faces in the photos are dead as if the photos have been ripped
or burnt to ashes, collected in envelopes and sealed and sent to lost relatives
there is always the feeling, that gut feeling, that we were never told enough
or that we didn’t resist enough or weren’t enough, and these people walking
across a desert and sometimes on waves like Jesus, proving that they could,
like he could, cross over borders where people pinpointed them and pointed
at them and couldn’t pronounce their long names, even if their lives were
basically the same, except for the drowning, that terrible drowning
the papers wrote about, I know all about it, believe me,
my mouth is ash.

Nora Nadjarian is a Cypriot poet and writer who has been published internationally. Placed or commended in numerous competitions, she recently won the Anthropocene Valentine’s Day Poetry Competition 2022. She has work forthcoming from Broken Sleep books and Poetry International. @NoraNadj

Skipper – Nina Parmenter


He lives half-sunk
in estuary mud,
cresting the ooze
like a masthead,
deep-flocked, bleached and brackish,
ringed by sinking spoil.

He can look to a shore 
shadowed by gulls,
to water ghosted with flounder,
squish in the lace of nematodes,
ride the flick
of bloodworm tongues.

Body to mud to body,
this, surely, is all a man needs:
warm toes,
the thwok of the swarf,
the hope
of fossilisation.

Nina Parmenter’s first collection ‘Split, Twist, Apocalypse’ will be published by Indigo Dreams in 2022. Her poetry has appeared in journals including SnakeskinHonest Ulsterman, Light, Allegro Poetry and Ink Sweat and Tears. She lives in Wiltshire. Twitter: @ninaparmenter. Website:  Facebook: @parmenterpoetry

Christopher Plummer – Joanna Ingham

Christopher Plummer

At first it was Friedrich, his gawky blondeness,
his penchant for biting his sisters’ fingers.
Then Rolf before the Nazis turned him, spinning me
round the summerhouse in the rain.
Now I’m older than Captain Von Trapp.
When he sings for me, his eyes are the blue
of that mountain lake his children fell into
wearing their curtain clothes and laughing.
He does that half-smile because he’d rather not
strum his guitar but he knows I like it.
When I unbutton the stiff woollen jacket
he smells delicious, of edelweiss and schnitzel.
I take his hand, lead him up the swooning staircase
to bed.

Joanna Ingham lives in Suffolk and writes poetry and fiction. She has two pamphlets: Naming Bones (ignitionpress, 2019) and Ovarium (The Emma Press, forthcoming in June 2022). Her first full collection was shortlisted in Live Canon’s 2021 Collection Competition. Website: Twitter: @ingham_joanna

smoke and mirrors – Charley Barnes

Dr Charley Barnes is a lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Wolverhampton. She is the author of solo and co-authored pamphlets, one full length collection, titled Lore: Flowers, Folklore, and Footnotes, and she has published several novels under the name Charlotte Barnes. Her Twitter and Instagram handle is @charleyblogs. 

My newly single friend has spent the day at a museum – Jen Feroze

My newly single friend has spent the day at a museum

she tells me, opening another bottle.
She talks about paintings of women weeping
at the dark edge of water; about corsets of pink silk
where tiny metal acrobats swing
on tightened ribs, breast bound;
about the yellow crust of clotted cream in the tearoom.
There are knives there from Italy, she says,
hundreds of years old. The blades are etched with music,
each a different harmony. No one knows who made them.
We drink. Her eyes remain steadfastly dry.

Next morning she is singing
in the kitchen when I wake,
lifting golden curls from the butter dish,
voice sharp enough to cut the light into the sky.

Jen Feroze lives by the sea with her husband and two small sleep thieves. Her work has appeared in Capsule Stories, The Madrigal and The 6ress, among others. She was highly commended in the inaugural Spelt magazine competition. Her first collection, The Colour of Hope, was published in 2020. 

West – Cian Ferriter


You took me further west, out past Belmullet,
under a sky of milk and pewter
and blue eggs
in the rusting Mitsubishi Colt
you dubbed the Silver Bullet.

A day’s gallivanting
led us to an off-road inlet,
seaweed marmalading the black shore,
the panel-beaten sea
cresting like blown-free bunting.

You clowned about in rocks,
your parka two sizes too big,
your hands swallowed by its sleeves,
the lightning strips of your legs
earthed in black docs.

I took a photo of you loose
and skittish under a bare hawthorn,
eyes crossed, tongue hanging sideways,
your head lassoed
by the hood’s furry noose.

On the beach near where we stayed,
I fell over attempting a headstand,
surfaced dizzy in the storm-soar
of your laugh, lay on you, eyes closed
as the light began to fade.

You took me further west
to where I had not been before,
to where I fell down-ways,
side-ways, headlong
into your hidden, thumping nest.

Cian Ferriter lives in Dublin. He has won and been placed in a number of international poetry competitions. His debut pamphlet Earth’s Black Chute won the Munster Fools for Poetry International Chapbook Competition 2021 and will be published this May.

Wolfstar archery course is in use – Jay Whittaker

Wolfstar archery course is in use

so says the red perspex sign, slung over the gate.
No archers to be seen. Among the trees
targets hold no arrows, only nicks in the worn rings,
scoreboards unchalked. The dog is keen to plunge in
on the trail of deer. I pull her back.

A dead shrew lies on the worn footpath.
What a spot to die or be dropped, dead:
on the prehistoric burial site. At the quarry’s edge.
In Pencraig woods. On this clear day,
views across villages where witches were burned.

The archery course is not in use. Nor the quarry,
nor the graves. Just this path, tracing the ancient heart.

Jay Whittaker lives and works in Edinburgh. She has published two collections with Cinnamon Press, Sweet Anaesthetist (2020) and Wristwatch (Scottish Poetry Book of the Year 2018, Saltire Society Literary Awards). Other credits include the recent Bloodaxe anthology, Staying Human. / @jaywhittapoet

Make Good Once More – Catherine O’ Neill

Make Good Once More

He lays a cheek upon the finish,
slimmed eye slips over the undimpled divide,
a nod, gathering tools,
slinks back with pride

Yellowed wall,
blemished family carvings,
He covers, makes good,
once more
absorb anew echoes of love,
render-muffle heartsores.

Come fresh dents, come cuts,
into its smoothness,
with words, fist and laughing fall.

Time will bring another
smoother to mask
tales left on this wall.

Perhaps a cheek will lie upon its finish,
judging eye make right once more,
untrap old stories, greet new ones,

close all windows, lock tight the door.

Catherine O’Neill had a play staged at Live Theatre; shortlisted by Streetcake Experimental Writing Prize; Northern Gravy ~ poetry; short stories on BBC Radio, HOLYFLEA!; monologue ‘Keep Granny’s Clock’ on YouTube; tweets and reviews for Word Factory, and Dishsoap Quarterly.