The Rainham Diver – Rebecca Metcalfe

 

The tide slips away, the river lowers, and he is there beneath the water. Striding across the mud towards the bank, he does not move. Seagulls circle overhead and shriek, boats chug past going East or West, but he does move. His body is a cage that imprisons river water with each high tide, releasing it as the moon shifts. In front of him, the reeds lead up to the bank, and beyond them the oil refineries, chemical works and factories that line the estuary all the way to the sea. Behind him is more of the same, just with the heaving mass of grey water between. He has sunk into the thick, green mud and so there he stays; a grey figure against a grey skyline. And he does not move.

 

 

22752130_10210178275199633_1006394601_nOriginally from Essex, Rebecca Metcalfe studied first at the University of Chester and then at the University of Liverpool. She now lives in an attic in Manchester with two black cats and works part time in a museum and part time in a restaurant. She has previously been published in Spelk, Flash: The International Short Story Magazine, Peach Street Magazine, Lumpen Journal, and Foxglove Journal, among others. She can be found on Twitter at @beckyannwriter.

Frosted petals – Jade Morgan

 

The hexagonal particles of ice are warming, crackling, melting. The earth is only damp on the top layer; underneath it is dry and compacting, offering warmth and protection to the roots during the night. The sky is changing from a deep, vast blue to a softer, yet still intense, shade. Light blue will then be met with blinding white, will be met with lemon, will be met with blazing orange.

“All in good time”, the twilight breathes. “All in good time”.

Changing shape, the icicles climb into themselves before dropping onto the floor with the gentlest of ‘plops’. The departure of the clinging frost, which the closed petals host each night, causes the most subtle movement. The petals are shaken awake, free and able to breathe. Shimmering in delight, they turn their bodies towards the East like a porcelain ballerina twirling on a spring in a jewellery box.

As promised by the twilight, the sky is getting lighter. The remaining night stars twinkle and bow once more, before ending their performance and closing their glimmer to sleep.

As the tip of the brilliant father sun peaks its face over the hills in the horizon, the rays crawl over the grass towards the petals. In unison, the petals stretch, yawn and open themselves to let in the light and nourishment. It is a brand new day.

 

 

image0Jade Morgan discovered her passion for writing when she was travelling overseas, hiking in New Zealand’s National Parks and Nepal’s Himalayan mountain region. Since her return to England, she has engaged in writing courses to delve more into her new found passion. From the writing courses, Jade has been finding enjoyment in revisiting her travel journals to create a travel writing book and writing flash fiction stories. When she is not doing this, you can find her hiking, reading, hugging trees or planning her next adventure.

Sight of a Night Otter – Martin Potter

 

Scrabble on the slipway like

A dog making for the water

Caught too far from the river’s edge

Expecting solitude at that hour

 

The otter observed unhurried once

Back in the element supported

On welling untraceability

Swam away into its comfort

 

 

FullSizeRenderMartin Potter is a poet and academic, and his poems have appeared in Acumen, The French Literary Review, Eborakon, Scintilla, and other journals. His pamphlet In the Particular was published by Eyewear in December 2017. Read more at https://martinpotterpoet.home.blog.

When – Louise Wilford

 

and then, when the sluggish earth winds down,

when the wild copper sun streams into the sea,

when the night creeps in like a timid guest

then, beneath the scraps of cloud,

as the air stiffens with the last chirps of the crickets

as the scent of autumn seeps like a charm into my veins

and the still-warm twilight twists about my limbs

when the brush of a dying ladybird on my forearm

or the dry ivy leaf combing my shoulder

is itchy as elf-fingers as I pass, when the shuffling hedgehog

circles the lawn and the first drift of leaves

crumbles beneath our shoes, when the mouse-eyed

elderberries droop, black bubbles in the ripple of moonlight,

and the night’s grey dust dampens the rosehips

and snags among the blood-red haws

then, we will step through the dandelion clocks,

through the lazy cobwebs, through the sleepy moths,

and we will dance, my love – my love, we will dance

and then we will dance as the slow earth turns

 

 

unnamed (2)Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford has had over 100 poems and short stories published and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions, most recently the £750 Arts Quarterly Prize and the MereFest Poetry Prize. She is currently nearing the end of a Masters degree in Creative Writing with the Open University, and is currently working on a novel inspired by The Tempest, while trying to process why the world appears to be falling apart.

Another Word for a Stopped Watch – Edward Alport

 

And then my watch stopped, but not

Like a crashing car or a rabbit caught by a fox.

No drama in this crisis.

The hands slid to a graceful halt,

Worn down by time and friction.

 

My elderly neighbour had an elderly Aston Martin

Parked in a garage and never driven again.

He would glance at the garage

And glance at his watch

And say ‘You need a light heart

‘To drive one of those.

‘Now it is weighed down by grease and gravity.’

Though whether it was his heart or the car I never asked,

Even though I bought the round.

 

But it sold, and sold well,

Unlike the house, which hung around for years.

We sat beneath the oak tree and watched his roses grow

While the shadows of discarded machinery

Marched across the lawn.

 

<>

 

Time has a language of its own, I’ve heard,

With hard words like ‘Never’ and ‘Enough’,

Soft words like ‘Maybe’ and ‘Again’.

Healing words, like ‘Bind up’ and ‘Embrace’,

Cutting words, like ‘Told you so,’ and ‘Stop’.

 

The language that everything learns as it grows old;

The earth tells it to the oak,

The oak tells it to its leaves.

My neighbour, I reckon, taught it to his car.

But my watch had to learn it for itself.

 

 

Edward Alport is a retired teacher and proud Essex Boy. He occupies his time as a 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. He moderates the monthly @ThePoetryFloor poetry event on Twitter.

Canvey Island – Rebecca Metcalfe

 

We spend the afternoon playing on the beach surrounded by fumes from the oil-refineries and chemical works. With our plastic spades we build sandcastles and dig for buried treasure. There’s a picnic of marmalade sandwiches and cartons of Ribena, then a shout of “tag: you’re it” starts the running around games. The tide hisses at us if we get too close. We run up to the bulging concrete flood-barrier and take it in turns to sneak round the edge to see if we can spot the troll we know lives behind it. He’ll get us if he sees us. We climb up and jump off into the sand with a thud. We have to rub our hands furiously up and down our legs to get the sand off before we can get back in the car. The drive home smells of seaweed and factory fumes, and we sit and laugh as we pick the grit out from under our fingernails.

 

 

22752130_10210178275199633_1006394601_nOriginally from Essex, Rebecca Metcalfe studied first at the University of Chester and then at the University of Liverpool. She now lives in an attic in Manchester with two black cats and works part time in a museum and part time in a restaurant. She has previously been published in Spelk, Flash: The International Short Story Magazine, Peach Street Magazine, Lumpen Journal, and Foxglove Journal, among others. She can be found on Twitter at @beckyannwriter.

Imperfect Shelter – Martin Potter

 

Overcast and when it starts

To come down a heavy headed

Tree appears to offer

 

Round its trunk a dry space

Above countless leaf strata

Parrying the downpour

 

To begin with it’s like a roof

Secure you hear the percolation

Working through the rafters

 

Until collected the outsize drops

Single out whatever tender

Spots are homing unwary

 

 

FullSizeRenderMartin Potter is a poet and academic, and his poems have appeared in Acumen, The French Literary Review, Eborakon, Scintilla, and other journals. His pamphlet In the Particular was published by Eyewear in December 2017. Read more at https://martinpotterpoet.home.blog.

As she waits for news of her son – Louise Wilford

 

She feels the pale green sunlight through the hawthorn leaves –

but May’s evening blaze is darkened for her this year.

She pauses on the path – blots her eyes with her sleeves –

her courage faltering before her labour’s done,

replaced by the slithering worm of impending fear –

her hope extinguished with the setting of the sun.

 

She can’t remember quite what she was looking for.

The ivy winding up the fence twists through her mind.

Every moment the vice of terror grips her more,

her courage faltering before her labour’s done –

desperate to hear some news, yet not wanting to find

her hope extinguished with the setting of the sun.

 

He’s been missing a night and a day. There’s no joy left.

Food is ash in her mouth, the world an empty cage.

The bright bursts of pain leave her vacant and bereft,

her courage faltering before her labour’s done.

The snaking red anguish tangles her up in rage,

her hope extinguished with the setting of the sun.

 

 

unnamed (2)Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford has had over 100 poems and short stories published and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions, most recently the £750 Arts Quarterly Prize and the MereFest Poetry Prize. She is currently nearing the end of a Masters degree in Creative Writing with the Open University, and is currently working on a novel inspired by The Tempest, while trying to process why the world appears to be falling apart.

How it was – Elizabeth Gibson

 

There was a storm out there, on the sea of ferns

and small spiders crept in and out of old burns.

Roaming the desert, a dog found the dusk

and in a flower somewhere, red-pink with musk,

a fairy curled up in the arms of a bee.

 

The midges were swirling like water back home

and in the sky, a jellyfish hung all alone.

Under layers of ice, a horse in a hole;

in a meadow of gold and blue starlets, a foal.

Far out beyond grounds of new comets, you saw me.

 

 

Elizabeth Gibson headshotElizabeth Gibson is a writer and performer based in Manchester, UK. She is also the Editor and Photographer for Foxglove Journal. Liz has won a Northern Writers’ Award and been shortlisted for the Poetry Business’ New Poets Prize, and her work has appeared Cake, Cardiff Review, The Compass, Confingo, Litro and Strix among other journals. Liz blogs at http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.com and you can find her on Twitter and Instagram as @Grizonne.

Choughs – Rebecca Gethin

 

Choughs Rebecca Gethin poem

 

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.

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 &amp; 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.