Mistake – Paul Stephenson


Gone one on leaving.
We went for lunch.
Some random Mexican.
No idea how we managed
refried beans and guacamole.

She’d wanted to see him,
come over to see him,
so I took her to see him.
It had been a fortnight
since I’d first seen him.

Wish I hadn’t arranged it.
Wish we hadn’t gone.
She was in a state and I was
horrified by time,
what two weeks could do.

We talked and we ate.
Even talked about other things.
Then we paid the bill,
and she took the bus
and I took the Tube.

Paul Stephenson has three pamphlets including Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press, 2017). He co-curates Poetry in Aldeburgh and lives between Cambridge and Brussels. His debut collection will be published with Carcanet in 2023. Website: paulstep.com / twitter: @stephenson_pj / instagram: paulstep456

Desk – Paul Stephenson


after Tusiata Avia

Ask the god to tidy your drawer
neat enough that your life is in order

Ask it to arrange you
Ask it to sort you out

Ruler, stapler
Hole punch, glue

Ask it to stick things back together
Ask it to fasten your days

Ask the god for right angles
Ask the god for the right angles

Make it straighten stuff
Make it equally measure

Then put your life away
Then close your life

Paul Stephenson was a Jerwood/Arvon mentee. He has published three pamphlets: Those People (Smith/Doorstop), The Days that Followed Paris (HappenStance) and Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press) and his debut collection is due next year. He co-curates Poetry in Aldeburgh and lives between Cambridge and Brussels.

My Monarch – Paul Stephenson

My Monarch

In his gown of white cotton with intricate brocade,
here he lays, collected and regal, my own medieval

………………………King of England

He’d like that, of England, this his adopted country,
lying in a white cotton gown with intricate brocade.

His nose is finer than I recall, cheeks a little sunken.
Hair beneath the chin, like he’s missed a bit shaving.

Up to his chest, a dark purple velvet with gold trim.
He lays here in white cotton, the intricate brocade.

Paul Stephenson has published three pamphlets: Those People (Smith/Doorstop, 2015), The Days that Followed Paris (HappenStance, 2016) and Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press, 2017). He as MA in Creative Writing from the Manchester Writing School and co-curates the Poetry in Aldeburgh festival.

On Pelmets – Paul Stephenson

On Pelmets


seven pewter tankards (engraved) – a box of Swan Vestas (three left, all struck)
– a halfpence piece (bent into a hinge) – a tiny splinter (from kindling) – soot


a paper clip (pulled straight) – a bin liner string (pink) – a milk bottle top (folded
into a half moon) – a recipe for moussaka (torn from a magazine) – peppercorns


a yellow squeezable plastic duck (no quack) – a shower curtain hook (snapped)
– a finger plaster’s backing (peeled off) – nail clippers (blunt and rusting) – talc

Our Bedroom

a convoy of vintage cars (Dinky) – a porcelain pig figurine (chipped) – a Panini
football sticker for swaps (Ipswich Town captain) – a safety pin (rusted) – sherbet

Their Bedroom

a white goose feather (missing barbs) – a spare trouser zip on cotton back (black)
a square beer mat for Carlsberg lager (wine ringed) – a gold band (plain) – dust

Paul Stephenson grew up in Cambridge and studied modern languages. He has published three pamphlets: Those People (Smith/Doorstop, 2015), The Days that Followed Paris (HappenStance, 2016) and Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press, 2017), He co-curates Poetry in Aldeburgh and interviews poets at paulstep.com. / Twitter: @stephenson_pj / Instagram: paulstep456

Featured Publication – Humanagerie – Edited by Sarah Doyle and Allen Ashley

Our featured publication for March is Humanagerie, an anthology edited by Sarah Doyle and Allen Ashley, published by Eibonvale Press.

Inspired by notions of the animalistic, Humanagerie is a vivid exploration of the nebulous intersection of human and beast. From cities to wilderness, buildings to burrows, and coastlines to fish-tanks, these thirty-two poems and thirteen short stories explore emergence and existence, survival and self-mythology, and the liminal hinterland between humanity and animality.

HUMANAGERIE cover. October 2018


Animal Apology

Sorry if I fling zoos at you, and when I do,
forelegs spread, the bony tufts of giraffe heads
rip up kitchen tiles, elongations of neck vertebrae
swinging hard and fast like a blotchy orange 5-iron.

You should probably duck when lobbed elephants swirl
through the living room’s low-watt sky, Zeppelins deflating,
trunks dangling like loose grey guy-ropes, brushing the blinds.

And about the single-horned rhinos and hippos, yes, I know:
all that stomping, stampeding, at some small thing you say,
the mud-soaked noses, nostrils flaring up like fireplaces,

odd-toed ungulates charging into your hell-of-a-day,
unleashing the fury of a fenced and caged species,
the paying visitors peering and gaping, leaning in
to watch us both, not breeding here in captivity.

Paul Stephenson



Solace drove me to this place,
its green hollows,
searching again for your form, love,
for it has been seven years –
billy-witch, bewitcher, solstice creeper,
bold-blinded beast.

I went to the road, its ranks of shimmering carmine,
looking for you at the edges of belief –
you, a Da Vinci sketch
testing the limits of flight
ahead of your time
or back with the dinosaur brutes,
out of this world of nets and cables and glare.

I longed for you to cross my palm,
scarab – smooth as a knee cap,
complicated as a music box
held together with tiny pinions,
the intricate pins and tucks
of your mechanics
working the unforgiving air –

I took you apart in my mind, found nothing
but a mandible like a wishbone,
one serrated, iconic antler
of bravado, lost bravado.
I keep it for my rising son,
our last mid-summer walks,
his tender voice breaking in the dusk.

Sarah Westcott

The larvae of the stag beetle, which is becoming increasingly rare, lives in the soil for seven years before it emerges into a fully-grown adult


And Then I Was a Sheep

and really, what a treat to find myself
among these friend-shaped clouds or cloud-shaped friends
who breathe, who bleat, these lovely bits of meat
on legs, who take me as something to smell

and imitate. How nice it was to wake
and sing myself, to flounce and fling myself
down hillsides someone turned to trampolines
quite suddenly. While others keep their snouts

steadfastly to the ground I blink, I count
my gifts: this four-wheel drive and this cuisine
that grows, the way that I can sigh and mean
that nature is my playground, baby. True,

the farmer, shearing, has looked into my eyes
a little longer than I’d like, as if
he’s sussed, he’s twigged, and yes, the sheepdog nips
more keenly at my ankles than the others’,

but on the whole, I’ve found, it’s easy really
to blend right in, to not stand out. Sometimes,
I miss the feel of the settee beneath me,
a glass of something good, but all in all

I wouldn’t go back if I could. I’m less
lonely than I was when I was human,
the world’s less cold, now that my winter coat
is part of me, and what I really like

are moonlit nights: us lot, the whole, the flock,
how we all cwtch together in this field,
one living mass of white, one fluffy cloud,
the awesome power of our communal brains –

as if we’d turned the field into the sky,
like we could think it now, and it would rain.

Jonathan Edwards

Welsh                          English
cwtch                      cuddle or hug



She wishes not to be a jellyfish:
a lightbulb always flicked on,
unstoppable brain
dribbling thoughts
in tangled strands.

Not to have this heavy head
she can only hold up
in the dark

Not to flounder
on dry land:
ungainly blob,
tendrils trailing,

Not to be
this plucked eye,
always weeping:

“Do not touch me.
Please, do not
touch me.”

Megan Pattie


Buck and Doe

Little fleecy feet – velvet lucky paws dotty-dabble
moontide grass, hippey-skip, belly fuzzy-plump
from all the nibbling. Cowslip, comfrey. Busy teeth,
gnawy-gnash on root an’ stump, tasty tubers relished down
in tiny gullet swallows, sweet with sugar juice.

My baby coney-kins, my leveret kith – tufty bullets
quatting in the grass, long and blowy, perfect for this game
of hidey-seek. Coloured mud like groundling truffles,
otter brown, gravel grey, knobby flash of banderole behind,
linty white. Digging thigh-bones muscled strong, footing

on the earth with knock-knocks – thumpy-stamp for danger.
Mealy unders richly warmed with down, woolsome-snug and kittened
in the stomach of our nest, our darkling womb, our holey safe place
tatted cosy-soft with dandie grasses. Elder-rabbits sage us
with fine words. Beware the silver necklaces of snares an’ keep
away from Pink Eye with his winking froth of mixie tears.
Buck an’ doe, dancing under wedding skies, kissing
clefty mouths together – mothers innards full of litter dreams,
an’ hope for all her sweetly nipples hung with babbies,
sucking rich an’ growing hoppish strong, foxing clever.

They make their music – open up the mallow flesh
inside their throats, slither music round their teeth.
Un-soundable to human ear but heard by cloud
and earth – this creature-sing, the joy in field and sky.
the taste of welter-song turf-spun rich upon our tongues.

Jane Burn

Humanagerie contains both poetry and short fiction, and is available to purchase in either hardback or paperback directly from Eibonvale Press: