Three Poems by Alex Reed

Slip

I called to you this morning 
from another room 
in this new house we chose together, 
as lovers call to one another, every day, 
for a hundred mundane reasons

there’s coffee in the kitchen, 
someone wants you on the phone, 
leaving now but won’t be long 

I meant to call you in this way 
but through some slip in time and place,
called you by her name.

After all these years, I used her name
when the word I wanted was Love

Past lives

As if meeting a promise she made to herself a long time ago, as if placing an unfinished glass at the edge of the cluttered table, as if turning her body away forever, she speaks very gently, I asked only this, that you were honest

Weekly ramble

You’re on at me for being late again, while you were on time as you always are, then as we walk the talk turns to the usual stuff: cutting back on the drink, watching the waistline, you’ve found a new app that tracks your heartrate, then you mention some bloke we went to school with who you bumped into the other day, he looked a right fucking plightI’ve never seen anyone in such a state still walking the street, and we both go quiet, feeling better. 


Meet the Poet!

Alex Reed’s poetry has been published in various print and on-line magazines. His pamphlets A Career in Accompaniment and These Nights at Home (with accompanying images by Keren Banning) were published by V. Press and explore themes of illness, care-giving and loss.

His recent collection knots, tangles, fankles (V.Press, 2022) is a re-imagining of the work of radical psychiatrists R.D. Laing & A. Esterson on family life and ‘schizophrenia’. 

‘My Father as a Fly’ by Marion Oxley

He came from a place where sunlight was golden
spreading across the first burnt crusts of the day.

A shredded, bitter-sweet place where generations moved
up from stinking gutters to sit at crisp, white tablecloths.

He’d wanted none of it once the lid had been lifted off
the black-faced, curly headed dolls, wide smiles, red banana lips.

He didn’t want to be stuck in this place of labels, tokens, badges.
A lifetime of lip service, syrupy sweetness making him vomit.

So over time he changed. Found sustenance in the outdoors
became more in tune with nature. Feet walking over dead-eyed sheep.

Tasted kitchen waste, sucked in, thought only now of air miles.
I find him wrapped in a silk shroud, swinging gently

caught in the breeze between a dangle of white, Bleeding Heart
like her earrings and the yellow floribunda Peace rose, he always loved.


Meet the Poet!

Marion Oxley lives in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire. She has had poems previously published in a wide range of poetry magazines, journals and anthologies. Most recently Atrium, Obsessed with Pipework, Bangor Literary Journal, The Alchemy Spoon, Smoke and Channel. Her debut pamphlet In the Taxidermist’s House was published last year with 4Word Press.

‘A Town Without a River’ by Peter Donnelly

Once a politician thought it had a beach,
perhaps because their conference was there,
in old times a watering place.

You can still bathe at the Turkish Baths,
see ducks in the pond in the Valley Gardens,
hear the ripple of tiny waterfalls

along the Elgar walk. No longer may you
drink water at the Pump Room
that tastes as salty as the sea, to be polite.

I’d like to have asked them the name of the river
they thought ran through the town, or if they
spelt it Harrowgate. Good questions for an MP.


Meet the Poet!

Peter J Donnelly lives in York where he works as a hospital secretary.  He has a degree in English Literature and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, Lampeter. His poetry has been published in various magazines and anthologies including Dreich, Black Nore Review,  High Window,  Southlight and Lothlorien. He was awarded second prize in the Ripon Poetry Festival Competition in 2021 and was a joint runner up in the Buzzwords Open Poetry Competition in 2020.

‘Over the Moon’ by Swetha Amit

I asked mama how far the moon is 

from my window, if there was 

a man on the moon and she says

I don’t think so because no one 

can live on the moon, no water

no air, no place to build a home

silvery glow and milky white

like creamy cheese on some days

with my binoculars I get a closeup 

of this circular wonder, impeccable 

with its silvery glow, illuminating 

the dark streets and nights

and then I see those pockets 

like patches of dark clouds

hollow and appearing bruised

I ask mama if the moon is hurt

and she says that’s how it is

I want to comfort the moon

I want to heal it the way it has

by beaming and smiling at me

whenever I’ve felt sad 

thinking about my father

wondering if he’d come home

after performing his duty at the border

when I see the moon after a few years

no longer creamy white, 

just remnants of hollow black 

has the moon really changed I wonder

or that my eyes have lost their sheen?


Meet the Poet!

Author of her memoir, ‘A Turbulent Mind – My journey to Ironman 70.3’, Swetha Amit is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of San Francisco. She has been published in Atticus Review, JMWW journal, Oranges Journal, Gastropoda Lit, Full House literary, Amphora magazine, Grande Dame literary journal, Black Moon Magazine, Fauxmoir lit mag, Poets Choice Anthology, and has upcoming pieces in Drunk Monkeys, Agapanthus Collective, The Creative Zine, and Roi Faineant Press. She is one of the contest winners of Beyond Words literary magazine, her piece upcoming in November. She is also an alumna of Tin House Winter Workshop 2022 and the Kenyon Review Writers’ workshop 2022.

‘The Mussel Speaks’ by Christian Ward

Though our shells

are the perfect shade of grief,

one taste of the meat

confettied with herbs 

and doused in white wine

is enough to make

even grey clouds politely bow

and head away. Yes,

naysayers will say it looks

like a wad of chewed gum,

but these are the sea’s ear bones.

Listen to its secrets,

how they can dissolve you

among the currents 

and rebirth you as a basking shark

or the humblest of anemones 

disguised as stars.


Meet the Poet!

Christian Ward is a UK-based writer whom has recently appeared in Open Minds Quarterly, Obsessed with Pipework, Primeval Monster, Clade Song, Uppagus and BlueHouse Journal.

‘IF ONLY IT WERE ALL GOOD’ by John Grey

Autumn reds,
a colony of yellow tansy,
on roadsides, goldenrod,
though, when I was born,
wattle flowered 
from the day before
to the day after.

I sit on the porch
at dusk,
humored by color,
though I’d prefer to be cured,
as house shadow,
drawn out by the western sky,
crosses my face, my lap.

Sun speaks to each of us in turn –
my light is certainly worth having 
but you can’t take it with you.

A mother, father,
three sisters,
I’ve lost for good.

I prefer the sun that shines,
not the one that speaks.

Meet the Poet!

John Grey is an Australian poet and US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Ellipsis. Latest books, ‘Covert’, ‘Memory Outside The Head’, and ‘Guest Of Myself’ are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Washington Square Review and Red Weather.

Two Poems by Brandon McQuade

MOWING

The distant smoke of burning leaves
and the heavy scent of gasoline 
smothers the late-summer air. 
He stops to watch wings scatter 
aimlessly from the trees. His forearm 
glistens in silence and the mower 
grinds to a halt as he wipes his brow, 
seated on a bench in the half-mown 
grass. Nothing but the wind 
to witness his chest tightening 
like a fist around his heart. 

RED TRACTOR

in memory of David Bowring

A bright red tractor sputters and dies 
on the yellow horizon. The spider plants 

on our kitchen table died years ago—
green leaves spilling from the bowl 

like milk tongued from a saucer, 
until they folded in on themselves

like immolated sheets of paper—
the way you can almost hear them

screaming and curling like singed hair, 
the crumbling ash of something living. 

Right now, chemotherapy is tearing
at your uncle’s vitals like a controlled fire. 

The red tractor may yet turn over,
and the farmer might save his field. 

But the fire inside your uncle’s pancreas 
will never extinguish or ignite again. 

Meet the Poet!

Brandon McQuade is an award-winning poet, and founding editor of Duck Head Journal. His poetry collection, Bodies, was the recipient of the 2022 Neltje Blanchan Memorial Writing Award. He lives in Northern Wyoming with his wife and their children. 

‘Newcastle Morning, Early September’ by Tracey Pearson

Had ya horses man, the day’s in no rush to start,
Mrs Kelly’s shooing next door’s cat oot the yard.

Morning still wears its dressing gown,
tied tight round the midriff,
grey and downy, soft and fluffy, Tyneside foggy.

September sighs in the back lanes,
bairns and mams bicker their way to school –

If I’ve telt yi once, I’ve telt yi a thoosand times,
don’t poke ya sister in the eye.

The weather changes when the bairns go back,
baking taties on offer at the Community Grocery,
a 45p tea, for me and Olenka, a Ukrainian refugee.

Meet the Poet!

Tracey Pearson is a poet and flash fiction writer from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Her work has been published in print anthologies, magazines and online. Tracey’s recent writing appears in Poetry WalesDreich, Culture Matters and Visual Verse, and is forthcoming in Briefly Write.

‘Experience’ by Gareth Culshaw 

There was a time inside a lettuce leaf 
I found the crinkles enjoyable to walk. 

I traipsed songs lost in headphones 
found trees upside down in winter. 

Heard birds in the yawn of a cat 
and caught a train for a bus for a hike. 

It led me to this, a place of rock and stone. 
Nothingness sits outside a window 

until you leave the vehicle and walk. 
Things appear in the nostril before 

your hands have left the crust. 
Your soup stays on the lips, cola burps 

a crow, and crisps wear away fence posts. 
But each walk brings you closer, closer 

to the life you live inside. The life you live 
before you found this place in the crunch 

of a carrot one salad afternoon. 
Watching a sun biscuit-dunk into a mountain 

wait for the warmth to leave you behind 
then see your fingerprints smudged 

on the moon, the end of your nose.

Meet the Poet!

Gareth Culshaw lives in North Wales. He has 4 poetry collections, most recent by Hendon Press called Memory Tree. He is a winner of Backlash Best Book Award 2022. 

‘Climate’ by Mike Doherty

That yellowing mould of surrender

Like soft vows

Subsides on the kerb as a light wind makes the leaves

Skittish

With those most recently released from the bough

Falling through shafts of sunlight and forming, casually

A duvet against the stone, against the cold of a coming night

This heat has made the trees distress and shrug off their ornaments

Those leaves

Fluttering dependents in need of drink and so they are

Expendable. It is the rule of law. 

Long grass warped into dry and brittle threads

Susceptible to fire. All these indicators of change

Gather here in plain sight to form a queue of warning signs

Do Not Proceed. One Way Only. Danger of Death

Another turning point goes blind to history

All the common sights forgot and nothing left

But burning twigs

Meet the Poet!

Mike Doherty says: “I have always tried to express myself. School reports exhort you to “try harder”. Poetry is the only medium I have found to reach into the corners of my soul and shed some light. It’s never easy and often not terribly good. But, I love it.”