Shadow Puppets by Joe Williams

We cast shadow puppets  
on the bedroom wall,  
in the circle of light we’ve made, 
the lamp angled up so it beams across  
the single mattress, and us.  

I can manage an adequate
rabbit,  and a Homer Simpson
that’s good,  or bad, enough to 
make her laugh.  

Like this, she says, feathering my 
palms,  turning me into an eagle.  

Together, four-handed,  
we figure out ways  
to create fantastic creatures,  
alien worlds,  
visions of the future.



About the Author:

Joe Williams is an award-winning writer and performing poet from Leeds. His latest book is the pamphlet ‘This is Virus’, a sequence of erasure poems made from Boris Johnson’s letter to the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic. His verse novella ‘An Otley Run’, published in 2018, was shortlisted in the Best Novella category at the 2019 Saboteur Awards. His poems and short stories have been included in numerous anthologies, and in magazines online and in print. Despite all of that, he is probably most widely read thanks to his contributions to Viz. More at http://www.joewilliams.co.uk

This poem was first published by Sentinel Literary Quarterly, 2018. It also appears in ‘Play’, an anthology by Paper Dart Press, 2018.

Poesy by Beth Hartley

Your words come to me, handtied.
I am garlanded.
 
Milkvetch woven among pear blossom,
mistletoe between the honeysuckle,
oak leaf geranium forms a crown
and myrtle;
myrtle makes it whole.
 
I am overcome
by this shower of flowers,
intoxicated by the scent of sage.
My garden grows empty 
in these strange days,
when all I can plant
takes time to bear fruit.
My language feels stilted,
my mind overwhelmed.
 
My only reply;
to wreathe you in daisies.
Sun yellow eyes in bright white,
overlooked and trodden over
in lawns and verges.
I will claim 
every last one,
and cover you 
in petal kisses. 


(From the April 11th NaPoWriMo.net prompt)

About the Author:

Beth Hartley is a poet of people and place, the transient and the eternal. She makes: home, faith, work, words and dinner. Itchy Preacher, always Mama. Part of the Fen Speak team – Ely’s poetry and spoken word event. Find her at: www.facebook.com/PoetryBees 

What We Mean by Christopher Moylan

What is it that we meant to say when we say nothing? That we stayed up all night, huddled in blankets, while the children we might have conceived watched us from beyond the breakers, eyes black with reproach. Words like ships passing: some rigged with ice and frost, others with spark and flame, waves seething and bucking on the pebble shore, beside themselves. Memories composting somewhere out back by rivers of stained glass where oblivion receives its baptism. Bundles of once in a lifetime opportunity tossed from the high windows like stacks of newsprint in old black and white movies. Birds peeling from trees like dates from calendars in the same black and white movies. Tidal waves rising over coastal villages, sudden mountains poised on the mirror glare of the full moon. All of this real, none of it true

…when we say nothing. We maintain a certain equilibrium among us like stone spheres floating in outer space, free falling all ways at once, so, in a sense, not falling, but remaining in place—where no place exists. In this we maintain the appearance of a life the way dust drifting from an explosion maintains the appearance of a shape, cohering as clouds, mushrooms, or flowers, all manner of things, except what it is: a cloud of shards, bits, dust. Disbursing, flying in all ways at once, when, as for us, all we want is to establish a position. Each one of us must have a position, a point of reference, even if that points is, in essence,

Nothing. The times rife with trigger words and code words, rumors and conspiracy theories of uncertain provenance. A constant supply, more all the time. Fact weaponized, truth driven underground. Dark energy manifest in ambient decay. Thoughts drifting apart, conversations trailing off, the point lost at the start, if there was one, if that even mattered. Logic is a carnival mirror. The obvious is too subtle, insult preferable. Occam’s razor become Occam’s head shot become Occam’s hand grenade clearing the way in social discourse for the consolations of intellectual paralysis. No response necessary if no response possible. Nothing to say. Nothing to save.

Time flies like the knife thrower’s daggers. The outline emerges with sharpened edges.  The life we failed to embrace gone with the ghost of transgressions we failed to commit. Words withdrawn like hands cupped around a flickering match. Some warmth persists, some light. What is it you were going to say? Nothing. What were you going to say? Wallpaper peeled away, plaster and slats gone. Curtains fluttering in windows that no longer exist.

Sadness. Regret. The louche menace of a forest cave wet with dream. Are we under an illusion. Or are we under arrest? What is it we mean to say when we say nothing? Sweetness and warmth. Unstated understanding in companionable silence like a plate passed down a table. Simple things. Strange things. Every blessing is a revolution. If it’s real. What is it we meant to say? Come into the water. It’s warm. It’s nothing. Come in.

About the Author:

Chris Moylan is an Associate Professor of English at NYIT where he publishes poetry and literary criticism as well as short prose. His prose poems and flash fiction have recently appeared in Flea of the Dog, Parhelion and Strata magazines. 

I’ve Watched All of You by Glen Wilson

How there are things 
you always do, in spite 
of the weather, the day. 

Like how the kettle is the
first thing you touch,
summoning 
and coaxing its urgent whistle. 

You let the tea bag darken the 
clear, needing it strong but 
softened by one teaspoon of 
sugar. 

There are also things chosen 
seemingly on a whim, the rain 
freckles the window so you crack 
an egg, 

if it's a Friday two, in summer a 
smooth yoghurt, sliced 
grapefruit for bitter balance. 

It has been curiosity 
that brought me to you, 
distant at first, 

you wouldn't have seen me, 
still in the sway of the oak 
that overhangs your garden. 

I don't know if it was wise 
to come in through your
window but I chanced away 
wisdom 

to the trust of your hand 
running along my back 
and a full saucer of milk.


About the Author:
Glen Wilson is a multi-award winning Poet from Portadown. He won the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing  in 2017, the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Award in 2018 and The Trim Poetry competition in 2019. His poetry collection An Experience on the Tongue is out now with Doire Press.
https://glenwilsonpoetry.wordpress.com/
Twitter @glenhswilson
https://www.doirepress.com/bookstore/poetry/


Wuthering Heights by Rachel Burns



I thought my lover was like Heathcliff.
You had a temper, like my jealousy.
Sixteen, I’d sneak out in the middle of the night,
the owls hooting. Oh, it gets dark, it gets lonely
and return to the sound of the milk cart,
the milk bottles clinking on doorsteps,
starlings pecking at the silver tops.
The smell of morning dew on grass,
burning up in the early light.



About the Author:

Rachel Burns lives in Durham City, England. She has short stories published in Mslexia and Here Comes Everyone. Her poetry pamphlet ‘A Girl in a Blue Dress’ is available from Vane Women Press and The Poetry Book Society.
twitter @RachelLBurnsme

All The Things I Could Not Say To The Fallen Baby Bird by Priyanka Sacheti

I am saying them now.

Of how smoothly you slipped inside the new nest
of soft flesh and phantom bone on picking you up.
I know, I know: 
I should have waited for your mother to return, 
I should have known that you were trying to fly,
I should have known, I should have known-

But it was a blue winter morning,
the kind that postcards make their living out of,
the air smelt unbearably sweet,
and I needed to rescue someone other than myself.
Carrying you in that makeshift womb,
I placed you in light, 
turning you over from flesh warmth to stone cold.
And then I walked away, never to look back.

I remember still the softness of your black down,
your trembling dissipating into a folded sleep. 
In my saviour hopes, you flew again.
You tasted sky currents
and cloud-pillowed your head
when you were too tired to fly any more.
And your feathers, unimaginably soft still,
would shelter and birth life too.

I think the above because 
this I cannot and will not consider:
you marooned inside that circle of light,
wondering if this was it, then,
your first and last flight.


About the Author:

Priyanka Sacheti is a writer and poet based in Bangalore, India. She grew up in Sultanate of Oman and has previously lived in the United Kingdom and the United States. She has been published in many publications with a special focus on art, gender, diaspora, and identity. Her literary work has appeared in Barren, The Cabinet of Heed, Popshot, The Lunchticket, and Jaggery Lit as well as various anthologies. She’s currently working on a poetry and short story collection. She can be found as @atlasofallthatisee on Instagram and @priyankasacheti on Twitter.

Accident Anatomy by Jiye Lee

Upon leaving the house today,
I saw laid out between two white cars:
a body. One red claw protruding
from her plump belly, curled
as if grasping for air.
Her head was tucked
beneath her wing, stretched out
like a shield, moments before
the scream that came.
How peaceful she appeared
on the tarmac, stricken with sleep.
Her ashen feathers bleeding white
at the tips like angel wings.
I waited for her to stir.

About the Author:
Jiye Lee is a British-born Korean writer and spoken word poet from Newcastle. She focuses on themes of cultural identity, travelling, family, mental health issues, love and loss. Her works have appeared or is forthcoming in Literary Orphans Journal, Bandit Fiction Press, and BBC sounds.

Green Dress by Jenny Robb


Before shops eased doors open,
before bars and restaurants
spilled people on streets,
I paused, mask hot with nervous breath,
at the Roy Castle Charity Shop.

There among shoe sweat,
sweet, musty perfume,
the dust of forgotten books,
was my jade green dress with sweetheart neck,
forty-seven years old and looking new.

Oh I loved how it clung
to my young body,
its colour drawing green
from my hazel eyes.

Oh how it pranced
through parties and discos,
attracting drunken snogs and fumbles.
I long to try it on,
mould it to my life now.

It would not fit.

I blink,
the mirage is gone.

About the Author:
From Liverpool, Jenny has been writing poetry seriously since retiring. In 2020 she has poems in: Writing at the Beach Hut; Nightingale & Sparrow; As Above so Below; Poetry and Covid; An Insubstantial Universe Anthology, (Yaffle Press), Bloody Amazing Anthology, (Yaffle and Beautiful Dragons Press) & forthcoming anthologies Lockdown, (Poetry Space); The Language of Salt, (Fragmented Voices) and Geography is Irrelevant, York Spoken Word (Stairwell Books).

Farm Kittens by Elisabeth Kelly


That first time,
I found them,
a moving lump
behind the bales,
stuffed in a hole.

Sounds echoed
half cat, half dark
cupboards under stairs,

I ran.

Next time,
a week later,
you came with your
mouth in that I am two
years older way,

a mother cat,
ears flat back,
hissed so our
insides squirmed.

We didn’t look for them again

That time,
months later,
we saw them struggle
in the long grass behind
the dairy,

one kept falling,
a leg shorter,
a spine twisted.

At teatime,
words fell across the table,
inbred settled on my tongue
made my mouth
feel full.


About the Author:
Elisabeth Kelly is a mum and a teacher. She lives on a hill farm in the Scottish Borders with her young family and too many animals. She started writing poetry again in 2020 and will or has been published by Dreich Poetry Magazine, Eyeflash Poetry, Foxglove Journal, and Hedgehog Poetry Press in two anthologies. Her debut collection will be published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in 2021. She was shortlisted for the Anthony Cronin International Poetry Award 2020. She loves chocolate puddings and the change of seasons.

Three Poems by P. A. Morbid



This detritus of brick, forlorn
and crumbling buildings.
Somewhere, unseen among
the empty streets, roads
lumpy and cracked, the
ghost of industry hides.

Monday 17th of September 2018



Saltburn Station

Jackdaws rise
black against grey
their harsh cawing
beautiful in the rain.

Friday 29th of September 2017



Earthbound, the weight of your
expectations was always greater
than your ability to achieve them.

Sunday 6th of January 2019

About the Author:
p.a. morbid lives in Middlesbrough, runs The Black Light Engine Room Press & is a local historian.