Fight – James McDermott


James McDermott’s poetry collection Manatomy, longlisted for Polari’s First Book Prize 2021, is published by Burning Eye and their pamphlet Erased is published by Polari Press. James’s pamphlet of queer nature poems is forthcoming with Broken Sleep Books. James’s poems have been published in various magazines including Poetry WalesThe Cardiff Review,Popshot QuarterlyInk Sweat & Tears and Fourteen Poems.

The Salesgirl says the Mannequin is Not for Sale – Nora Nadjarian

The Salesgirl says the Mannequin is Not for Sale

Marie Antoinette’s shoes are like cakes in pastel colours. She says she needs a friend, the
salesgirl says they don’t sell them here. She tries on a pair of flat shoes, her hair is flat, her
heart is flat. Then her hair becomes a bird nest, sparrows fly in and out. That’s better, she
thinks, licks whipped cream off her fingers. The salesgirl brings more finger food. We need a
splash of colour in the palace, says Marie Antoinette, I ordered hundreds of paints online.
Strawberry Sherbet, Cherry Glaze, Carousel Purple, Pursuit of Happiness, and she giggles.
Then she calls the palace: More shoe-shaped cakes, she says, though it sounds more like an
order. She turns to the salesgirl: I’d like to buy the mannequin. She’s not for sale I’m afraid,
says the salesgirl, who’s been trained to say that, to whoever. I am not Whoever, says Marie
Antoinette, I’m the Queen. She takes the shoes off the counter and starts tearing them apart,
biting them, spitting thread and buckles out. One sparrow leaves her hair, bashes against the
mirror and drops dead. Marie Antoinette picks it up, trembling with rage, starts plucking its
feathers. The salesgirl dials 911. Let her eat cake, says the mannequin. Let her eat cake.

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

My baby’s heartbeat – Joanna Ingham

My baby’s heartbeat

races to fill the midwife’s room,
unfeasibly fast and skittish.
She tells me it’s normal. I think of

Steve, one of my young offenders,
acned, eighteen, and a father,
how he has prepared me for this.

The trick is to listen for a train
or a horse, a boy or a girl.
It’s never wrong, he promised.

He sat in a place like this once,
beside his girlfriend, teeth in braces,
and heard his son rumble

over the tracks towards him.
He was there at the birth too,
for the first six weeks before

he went to jail. He still misses
the nappies, the careful craft
of nightfeeds, his son and the bottle.

Now it’s my turn, twenty years
older than he is, and I strain
for hooves galloping on hillsides,

the clackety clack of carriages.
I wish that Steve was with me, his ears,
because he knows these things.

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

I Visit the Museum and Make It About Me – Nina Parmenter

I Visit the Museum and Make It About Me

I stand by a stone sarcophagus 
roughly the length of my femur 
and I decide I have lived too long. I flinch 
at arrowheads drawn from the river
which are pinned to the wall in a swarm.
Those barbs make my ribs burn and itch.
I gag at a Roman choker
which is twisted too tightly to fit
my neck. So why make it? I pause 
by the handaxes lumped in a case
and lick at my palms like a cat
to test for the flint’s cold taste. I gape
at the gaggle of stone-age flutes
holed and scraped clean of their marrow.
Still, it may mean there’s use for my bones –
well, except for my busted elbow.

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

When everything becomes again – Tim Kiely

When everything becomes again

When everything becomes again
it will be with the song of one grasshopper
filling its universe of blades;

it will be with the strike of a woodpecker’s beak
on tree-trunk, all its edges sweet,
embracing us, as the hills are filled

with the quiet breath we thought we lost,
face-down, dew-spattered, in hiding
from all that has happened. Heaving up,

almost unnoticed, shedding earth,
no lesser weight can smother us.
There are no stars we cannot claim.

Tim Kiely is a criminal barrister and poet based in London. He has been published by ‘Dreich’, ‘South Bank Poetry’, ‘Under the Radar’ and ‘Magma’. His poetry pamphlet ‘Hymn to the Smoke’ was a winner of the 2020 Indigo Dreams First Pamphlet Competition

No-one was with her – Nikki Robson

No-one was with her 2

I didn’t hear her fall
as she must have, perhaps from
the sharp apex that snicks the night sky.
She is lying on her back, bony talons tucked,
heart-face heavenward, fixed eyes shut
but not tightly, as if she expected
to use them again come nightfall.

Her call had wakened me
but I didn’t hear her fall.
Does she look at peace?
When I catch a glimpse
owls seem self-contained
and inquisitive. I hope that’s how it is
moving from one state to the next.

Tucked in bed with my daughter
under painted stars
we finished Charlotte’s Web,
crying together. In my adulthood
I had forgotten
both the spider’s end
and the starkness of the truth.

2 from Charlotte’s Web, E B White

Nikki is originally from Northern Ireland and currently lives in Scotland. She has had poems in journals and anthologies in print and online including Poetry Scotland, Acumen, Northwords Now, Under the Radar, the Lake and Scotia Extremis.

Limbo – Cian Ferriter


The ward reduces to its midnight hush.
A week since you were born six weeks too soon,

we keep vigil in this touch-less limbo.
Your face a miniature in distance,

your fingers gripping invisible lines.
Deirdre expressing to your silent cries.

In the small hours, without a word, a nurse
releases you into your mother’s arms.

Sensing your breath in that titanic hold,
I wrap my shaking self around you both.

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.

Featured Publication – Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands by Sarah Wimbush

Our featured publication for May and June is Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands by Sarah Wimbush, published by Bloodaxe on 26th May 2022.

In Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands Sarah Wimbush journeys through myth and memory with poetry rooted in Yorkshire. From fireside tales of Romany Gypsies and Travellers, through pit villages and the haunt of the Miners’ Strike, to the subliminal of the everyday – including poems about typists, pencil sharpeners and learning to drive in a Ford Capri. This highly accomplished debut collection explores what it means to belong, what it means to be on the margins. This is poetry written in praise of family and community and those qualities which make us human: love, language and, most of all, resilience.’ Bloodaxe

The Bittern

After the glut of soft fruits,
and oat cakes toasting on the griddle,
and the deluge of Cox’s,

it’s the wintering-over
in two-up two-down cottage,
vardos stored on Big Frank’s piece,

a squall of pheasant and quail
bartered for a tail-end of hogget,
mother schooling us by the range:

how to baste the skin to gold,
how to skim the fat for rushlights
and axels, how to eke the meat out

from pink to grey to dry; scraps
for soups, bones coddled to slate
in washday broth. All cushti scran.

And the hardness of spring.
Bitterns nesting in reed beds,
sweeter than heron –

the male’s deep whoohu-whoohu
like a breath blown over a bottle.
On a still day, I feel that call for miles.

cushti scran: good food
Previously published in Bloodlines (Seren 2020).

A Sund’y in Worksop

That morning, we pitch our caravans on Joe White’s,
somewhere on Sime Street. Mother scrubs vardo floors
with washday waste, singing Paddy McGinty’s Goat or maybe

I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen. Daddy has a bloke to see
at The Old Ship Inn or perhaps The Robin Hood, God’s people
blinking as they enter daylight. I stay with the tub cart

or was it the dray, water Plunk our dapple pony, or was it Spike
or was it Pluck? A school of men march into the yard, keen to win
a fortune with Pitch and Toss. From a corner the look-out boy

watches me. Beneath the sign, ‘No Gambling Or Spitting’,
the chuckers bless a fat penny each and bowl against the wall,
or could it have been into the air? Metals wield and thud.

Hoots and oaths. The men drift away, one lad left on the floor
or maybe leant against the wall, says over, fot in’t war, I did
and he has no hat. Or was it boots? Or was it both?

vardo: horse-drawn caravan
Previously published in The Interpreter’s House


I wait outside my daughter’s boyfriend’s house.
Ignition off. Radio low.
I rarely feel my hackles rise
at my desk, or in Tescos, but here

a flicker creeps into my peripheral vision –
fire on black – a comet’s trail, then
a head that oscillates; her upturned snout.
I switch the radio off. Watch from above.

She paws the tarmac, bows to me – but no,
slides her jaws around a roadkill squirrel,
its compressed plume tail.
Slinks off to where the foxes go.

Previously published in Ink, Sweat and Tears

Near Extinction

No otters in the River Don.
No rest for Sylvia Grant-Dalton
upholding Brodsworth Hall: subsidence
scribbled on the wall –
the roof a drain, gardens besieged.
A losing battle.

Down the lane, Brian
at Brodsworth pit
with his mullet and denim jacket:
windswept, sun-kissed – convinced
they can turn the tide
in landlocked South Yorkshire.

Rossington. Like Beirut,
says Mrs Selby, watching ghosts
of picket line past –
burned-out cars,
burned-out hearts.
Mr Selby in his chair,
waiting for the snowdrops.

An action shot of Lesley Boulton:
camera in hand, the raised baton –
a pin-up girl at Highfields Welfare.
Wives on battle stations
in the soup kitchen.
Men fed first.

Outside the new Frenchgate Centre –
a band of brothers riddled with badges,
rattle buckets – ‘Miners Children’s Xmas Party’
all around the world turned
outside in.

Paul, just nineteen, marching back
with the shift and his Grandad
to Markham Main: end of the line,
final man down, under that headgear –
the last dinosaur in Doncaster.

Previously published in The North

Sarah Wimbush’s poetry is rooted in Yorkshire with tales of childhood, colliery villages and Gypsies and Travellers. She has published two prize-winning pamphlets: Bloodlines (Seren, 2020) and The Last Dinosaur in Doncaster (Smith|Doorstop, 2021). Her first collection Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands is available from Bloodaxe in May 2022. @SarahWimbush

All poems above are taken from Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands, published by Bloodaxe on 26th May 2022. For more information, and to purchase a copy, please visit