Echinoderms – Margaret Holbrook

 

You take all life from your

immense, fathomless,

median disc.

Asteroidia,

spangle tipped in salt

to the end of your arms

red spotted markers.

No brittle stars or

basket stars but true

Asteroidia.

And in your watery sky

environment you flourish,

live, die, regenerate,

shine brighter than any

celestial form.

 

 

IMG_0641Margaret grew up in Cheshire where she still lives. Margaret’s poems and short stories have been published in several anthologies and magazines and online journals including most recently: Schooldays, Best of British, Flash, I love you, Patches of Light, Torrid Literature Journal, The Foxglove Journal, The Wilfred Owen Association Journal. Margaret also writes plays. Her monologue ‘Our Brian’ was longlisted for BBC Radio 4’s ‘Opening Lines’. In 2017 her play ‘Ruthless’ was longlisted for the Top Five Competition at Bolton’s Octagon Theatre. Her play The Bus Stop was performed at The Old Sawmill in Congleton in May 2019 and will be performed at Buxton Fringe Festival in July this year. Margaret hosts the Poetry and Prose Open Mic at The Petersgate Tap in Stockport. Keep in touch: www.margaretholbrookwrites.weebly.com

Exmouth – Edward Alport

 

I took my problems to my old friend, the sea.

He watched me with his flashing eyes

And spoke to me with seven foaming lips.

I poured out my problems

And he poured them right back again.

 

Now that I’m sitting, like a stone on a rock,

Now the beach-huts are deserted,

And all the lovers have gone home,

He’s still there;

He’s still there;

The still small voice

Of endless noise,

Wearing at my loneliness.

 

 

Edward Alport is a proud Essex Boy and occupies his time as a teacher, gardener and writer for children. He has had poetry published in a variety of webzines and magazines. When he has nothing better to do he posts snarky micropoems on Twitter as @cross_mouse.

King’s Cliff Wood – Anthony Watts

 

And if at times there seems to be

no more to it than this

return with muddied boots to the locked car

 

(groping for comfort under coats, cold nose to cold

nose, the same old words you won’t

or don’t believe)

 

then love is always the path we saved for another

day, the tunnel winding, whisper-filled,

under a sun-rug of November trees.

 

Also (and always) love is the lit sky, shorn

of its restless weathers,

falling

forever

into everlasting.

 

 

Anthony Watts - head & shoulder portrait (3)Anthony Watts has been writing ‘seriously’ for about 40 years. He has won 26 First Prizes in poetry competitions and was longlisted for the National Poetry Competition 2014. His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Poetry Salzburg Review, The Rialto and Riggwelter. His fifth collection, Stiles, is due to be published by Paekakariki Press. His home is in rural Somerset and his main interests are poetry, music, walking and binge thinking – activities which he finds can be happily combined.

How to See a Ghost – Edward Alport

 

A stain fading from the ceiling as I watch,

A shadow cast by a patch of sunlight,

Two pictures canted at the same angle,

Tell of a life, calm, but out of kilter.

 

The sound of a dripping tap, suddenly stilled,

Of hollow footsteps on a concrete floor,

Or paper rustling in a silent room,

Tell of a life, good at keeping secrets

 

The scent of lavender by the kitchen door

Or roses in an empty vase

And chocolate and raspberries by the fireplace

Do not tell me of pain and desperation.

 

 

Edward Alport is a proud Essex Boy and occupies his time as a teacher, gardener and writer for children. He has had poetry published in a variety of webzines and magazines. When he has nothing better to do he posts snarky micropoems on Twitter as @cross_mouse.

Secret life of seals – Rebecca Gethin

 

Secret life of seals Rebecca Gethin 1

 

unnamed 1Rebecca Gethin lives in Devon. She was a winner in the first Coast to Coast to Coast pamphlet competition with Messages. A pamphlet about endangered creatures called Vanishings is due to  be published by Palewell Press in 2020. Two pamphlets were published in 2017: A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press and All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press who previously published a collection and two novels. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow and undertook a residency at Brisons Veor in 2018. Find more at www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com.

Concierto de Aranjuez – Anthony Watts

 

1

Note by quivering note, the guitar

uncoffins its soul.

Something ascending into deathlessness

pieces together a passion, while outside

the wind is strumming, drumming on the stone house.

 

Under dark beams, the firefly notes

assemble for a last assault. The orchestra

splits the gloom like a flare,

crashes crimson seas over black rocks.

 

The guitar scuttles after, among pools

of silence, picking up the pieces.

 

2

Sad lovely girl in my arms –

If we could be

at one with the wind and the music – no

clocks to watch, buses to catch. . .

 

The wind has gone

wherever a wind goes when it isn’t blowing;

the music sleeps,

curled like a mouse in the cassette

 

while our twin-spooled togetherness

awaits

its next occasion

 

(filed

secretly

between two lives).

 

 

Anthony Watts - head & shoulder portrait (3)Anthony Watts has been writing ‘seriously’ for about 40 years. He has won 26 First Prizes in poetry competitions and was longlisted for the National Poetry Competition 2014. His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Poetry Salzburg Review, The Rialto and Riggwelter. His fifth collection, Stiles, is due to be published by Paekakariki Press. His home is in rural Somerset and his main interests are poetry, music, walking and binge thinking – activities which he finds can be happily combined.

Skomer – Rebecca Gethin

 

Above the cliffs a swarm

of sea birds circles

the cinched waist of the island

a nimbus of puffins and auks

flying higher, faster,

almost silent except for beating wings –

a dervish dance

a typhoon rooted in one place

a lighthouse beam of dark motes

a spell to herald darkness

praise for another day of incubation

this ritual of summer evenings

and my small white face

watching from the bobbing boat.

 

 

unnamed 1Rebecca Gethin lives in Devon. She was a winner in the first Coast to Coast to Coast pamphlet competition with Messages. A pamphlet about endangered creatures called Vanishings is due to  be published by Palewell Press in 2020. Two pamphlets were published in 2017: A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press and All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press who previously published a collection and two novels. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow and undertook a residency at Brisons Veor in 2018. Find more at www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com.

Foal – Anthony Watts

 

On Thorncombe Hill

I saw the world

 

balanced

upon four saplings

 

itself-begetting

in the dew of the foal’s eyes

 

who whinnying

down nostrils newly bored

 

printed upon that

immemorial quietude

 

his infant sneeze.

 

 

Anthony Watts - head & shoulder portrait (3)Anthony Watts has been writing ‘seriously’ for about 40 years. He has won 26 First Prizes in poetry competitions and was longlisted for the National Poetry Competition 2014. His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Poetry Salzburg Review, The Rialto and Riggwelter. His fifth collection, Stiles, is due to be published by Paekakariki Press. His home is in rural Somerset and his main interests are poetry, music, walking and binge thinking – activities which he finds can be happily combined.

Granada – Hannah Patient

 

We step outside of time for just three days

and make this place our own: get coffee

every morning at the same café, where

ageing waiters all wear neat blue waistcoats.

This city’s pomegranate-like, they say:

bursting at the seams with juicy seeds

of things to come, of things that might have been.

We walk around the town in midday heat

and everything slows down: we’re living at the speed

of unripe fruit on orange trees and buskers in the streets.

Lost in Sacromonte, we give up and watch

the whole world pass us by, the palace

on its lonely hill a solid compass point.

As night falls, we get brave and mess around:

go rambling through the undergrowth

in the belly of the town, eat tapas in

our favourite bar as the Spanish sun goes down.

We join processions through the streets

where children chant and incense swings;

get punch-drunk on the smell of it,

turn sleepy listening to the man who sings

each night, alone, in the courtyard by our house.

 

I say that like it’s ours; of course it’s not –

nothing here really belongs to us.

The next day when the sun grows restless, hot,

we pack our bags and leave for a new place.

Time speeds up once more; how quickly we forget

the peerless lustre of these Andalusian days.

 

 

35842420_883314205202005_529810939248115712_nHannah Patient is a third-year English student at Somerville College, Oxford, and the former Essex Young Poet of the Year. Her work has appeared in publications including ASH, The Oxford Review of Books, Blacklist Journal and The Purple Breakfast Review. In her spare time she enjoys exploring crumbling buildings, watching detective dramas and eating chips with mayonnaise.

Boxed Dusk – Jenny Moroney

 

A beginning of an evening was grasped by the room

whose sparse light seeped in from a solitary window.

Lain on the bed, a pencilled in person noted the square

of sunset with its pastel pinks, blues and greens

layered over a charcoal city skyline.

 

Moving their hand against the square

so the light was sieved through their skin like dust,

they noted how this beginning of an evening

could be anything from a painting

to a life.

 

 

IMG_8563Jenny Moroney lives in South-East London. She studied English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and has been published online and in print.

A Wave in the Ocean – Peter Fullagar

 

Just a wave in the ocean,

a drop in the sea,

the tiniest speck

that is you and me.

The wave that may carry us

to lands far beyond,

the gentlest lull

of the sweet-scented song.

The whirlpools that capture

and stay in the round,

refuse to release

to treasures unfound.

The stormiest water

that must be obeyed

withstanding this

and serenity so craved.

The soft soothing current

brings out the best

leads me to shore

and lays me to rest.

 

 

Image-27Peter Fullagar is an editor and writer living in Berkshire. His first book, Virginia Woolf in Richmond, was published in November 2018 to coincide with a Virginia Woolf Statue campaign and his short story, The Walking Stick, is included in an anthology called Tempest. He also writes ELT materials and has some exam books published. He tweets at @peterjfullagarFind more at www.peterjfullagar.co.uk.

Bear – Rhianne Celia

 

She kneads herself into the grass,

brooches of hay collecting on her back.

I’m on my stomach, the grass glossed

and sun-pooled, and for once

I’m not waiting for something or someone

to slip from surface talk to the big stuff

as readily as a mother forgives –

I’m watching her beard fill with buttercups

and the wet beads on her tongue nudge back

and forth as she shimmies against me.

I reach for a stick, throw it, and off she trots,

her paws a skit as she loses track

of its flight. She returns with an open

tennis ball in her mouth, a clopping ring box

she presents with a flourish. I readily accept,

placing it on my stomach like an upturned

book, and then I’m looking at the sky – a hearty

magenta block, and the remainder of my evening

appears in hob flames and final Tupperware clicks.

She leads me home, my hessian stopwatch,

urging me to live, live, live.

I swallow as the script starts up.

 

 

FGBorn and raised in Manchester, UK, Rhianne has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at The University of Manchester. She has loved words (and arranging them) since she could put fluffy pen to paper (that’s a lot of fluff, and a lot of paper!). She explores human relationships in all of their wonderful complexity in her work and writes a lot about mental health, a subject close to her heart. You can find more of her poetry and general musings over at rhianne-writes.tumblr.com.

Hearts – Rhianne Celia

 

I got to thinking about hearts.

How they seem to be everywhere – hearts.

a heart fritter;

a bitter heart;

a heart-shaped spoon;

 

an up-for-grabs heart;

a not-in-service heart;

a hammock-lolling-in-the-breeze heart;

 

a slap-on-the-wrist heart,

a deep-water-flunking heart;

 

a heart with pins

and needles;

a light-blockade migraine heart;

 

a heart of gold, an at-best-bronze heart;

a slit of heart;

a bottomless heart

 

The rail of bleeding-heart

fuchsias in my sister’s garden

heart.

 

An I-couldn’t-believe-they-were-called-that

heart.

 

The ____ of the storm

The wind-swept ____

 

Writing from the ____

 

A searching heart, angling itself to catch

the height of the sun.

 

 

FGBorn and raised in Manchester, UK, Rhianne has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at The University of Manchester. She has loved words (and arranging them) since she could put fluffy pen to paper (that’s a lot of fluff, and a lot of paper!). She explores human relationships in all of their wonderful complexity in her work and writes a lot about mental health, a subject close to her heart. You can find more of her poetry and general musings over at rhianne-writes.tumblr.com.

Pumpkin pie – Cath Barton

 

In the dark street the window of the sweetshop shone out. Maisie, aged nine and three-quarters, had taken a detour on her way home from school. She pressed her nose up against the shop window; there were meringues iced to look like ghosts, witches’ hats made of chocolate and little marzipan pumpkins. Maisie pushed her hands deep into the pockets of her coat as she continued to stare at the sweets. In the right-hand pocket her hand closed on something unexpected and she pulled it out. It looked like a small, hard, shiny nut. She held it in the palm of her right hand and touched it, very gently, with her left index finger. Would a fairy appear in a puff of smoke and offer her three wishes, or at least her pick from the sweets? Nothing happened. She touched it again, said one of her own magic spells under her breath and waited. Still nothing happened. She put the nut back in her pocket and turned, reluctantly, from the bright window.

When she arrived home her mother was in the kitchen, looking flustered as she always seemed to be these days.

“Tea’s nearly ready,” she said. “I wondered where on earth you’d got to, Maisie. Wash your hands quickly now.”

They had bread and butter and jam for tea, as usual. Maisie had a cup of milk and her mother drank tea, weak tea. The two of them sat in silence, each lost in her own thoughts, but after a while the warmth from the food and the one-bar gas fire made them easier with one another.

“I’ve got a surprise,” the woman said, and the girl looked up, uncertain whether to ask what it was. Her mother was unpredictable, and Maisie didn’t understand what made her upset.

“It’s a pumpkin. Your dad brought it round. I’m going to make a pie.” She smiled at her daughter in an entreating way.

Maisie found it difficult thinking about her dad, so she thought about the marzipan pumpkins in the sweetshop window instead. She had never eaten pumpkin pie, but she had had marzipan on Christmas cake and she knew she liked that. She managed a wobbly smile

“Tomorrow,” said her mother, “We’ll have it tomorrow. It’ll be a treat.”

That night, when she knelt by her bed to say her prayers, Maisie held the shiny nut between her hands.

“I’m giving you a third chance,” she said, and then, surprising herself with her boldness.

“And just so as you know, this isn’t for me. I want you to make things better for my mum and dad.”

Next day Maisie stopped at the sweetshop window again on her way home from school. The marzipan pumpkins seemed to be winking at her. When she put her hand on the nut in her pocket it felt different. She pulled it out and gasped: it had turned into a coin, as bright and shiny as the shop window. Maisie pushed open the shop door, a bell tinkled and a little old man appeared from a back room.

She ran home with her bag of sweets. At the door she hesitated, hearing voices in the kitchen, but there were no shouts, no tears. Just soft talking.

They had tea together, Maisie and her mother and father. Pumpkin pie. Which, actually, the girl did not like. But she didn’t say so, just smiled. As they all did. Later, Maisie looked in the bag for a marzipan pumpkin. But the bag was empty, apart from a small, hard, empty nutshell.

 

 

Author pic.CathBarton.smallCath Barton is an English writer who lives in Wales. She won the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella 2017 for The Plankton Collector, now published by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. Cath was awarded a place on the 2018 Literature Wales Enhanced Mentoring Scheme to complete a collection of short stories inspired by the work of the sixteenth century Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch. Active in the online flash fiction community, she is also a regular contributor to the online critical hub Wales Arts Review. She tweets @CathBarton1. Find out more at https://cathbarton.com.

Over – Spangle McQueen

 

He is explaining

supernumerary

rainbows to me –

 

how it’s all about

raindrop size

distribution.

 

‘Sunlight reflects

not only from inside

the falling droplets

 

but interferes with

wave phenomena.

It’s similar to ripples

 

when someone

throws a stone in

a pond,’ he says.

 

And I am impressed

with his knowledge

of atmospheric optics

 

but I’d only asked

how there could ever be

too many rainbows.

 

 

20171019_233122-1Spangle McQueen is a happy grandma and hopeful poet living in Sheffield.