Two poems from Jean Atkin

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The Snow Moon

On the night the snowfields above the cottage
became bright maps of somewhere else, we
went up in the crump of our steps.

Capstones of walls charcoaled the white.
The hawthorns prickled it. And a leaping trace below
a dyke was the slots of ghost deer gone into the fells.

There were rags of sheep’s wool freezing on the barbs
and lean clouds dragged the roundness of the moon.
Jupiter shone steady to the south. It was so cold.

And the children threw snowballs, all the time.
My old coat took the muffled thump of them.

The night snow shirred our boots with silk
and our breath hung laughing in the dark.



floods, drained out of woods
the washed earth

…………the water, obedient
…………now back within its bounds

the swans arranged afloat
like quiet china

…………between the trees, snowdrops
…………spread like tablecloths


Jean Atkin has published ‘Not Lost Since Last Time’ (Oversteps Books) also pamphlets and a novel. Her recent work appears in Magma, Agenda, Ambit, Poetry Salzburg, The North, Earthlines and The Moth. She has held many residencies in both England and Scotland, and works as a poet in education and community projects. www.jeanatkin.com @wordsparks


Shell House, Polperro by Whitenails

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Shell House, Polperro

Frontispiece for two doors oblique to each other, viewed squarely
Is seamed by the perron that enables, however rarely,
A person to exit and, should they wish, climb and re-enter
The house through a porch on the noble floor, skewing momenta
Of a life in progress and a life’s totality reviewed,
So the mind queries among coat hooks, and once more when endued
With a power to separate, why the body diverted;
Viewed from one side is unfolded, and shows me in hair-shirted
Recursion climbing the steps, grey steps not visible square on,
To cover off a possible way to leave that, so far, none
May have taken: I leave through the ground floor door a second time,
And go to the Blue Peter Inn; still I see just one sublime
Passage, despite wavering interpolations, coalesce,
One pass, resolutely reformatory, as I assess
My life. A face, unfamiliar, presents itself to me –
This review of life must be independent of memory –
Face of a girl who is perhaps 11 or 12 years old;
I with true wakefulness, as one who is over the threshold,
See this child, and note that her hair is blonde beneath the sedge hat
She is wearing, but still cannot recognise her or see that
This could pertain to my life even; and her voice as she speaks –
Its quality, its colour and the curious way it peaks –
Is strange to me also: “You abandoned me,” says she, softly,
And leaves me brooding over her statement’s import whilst I see
Myself continue, an apparitionist, towards the Blue
Peter Inn. This girl and my excursion are contiguous through
One pass, a single conjuncture.



51PZ7fSyn2L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Whitenails is a writer of prologue poems and rhyming couplets with obsessively counted syllables.

His book, Apparitionist, a study of empathy and pity, was published by Indoor Fighting Press in November 2017. Its poems build to form an existentialist novella about a man outside his own time.





Milk by Tara Arkle

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Not for Ted

Bedside, a glass of milk stands–how they lie
the soft tufts of their heads perfumed and oiled,
to bed, to bed, just bathed; tucked and folded, soldiers from this
night forward

the lie collapses in
memory is oh so dim and motherhood? that self annihilating screw
that fixes flesh till it’s blood runs–

a blue plaque marks the poet’s vale, a life less similar than ordinary scale
and Yeats no less betrothed–how like the sheathed dream specter breaks his odes,
and moans, “This night will mark the end of sighs and sleep so deep it coins the eyes!”

The jeweled hoar of midnight frost about you–Kore,
pomegranate stained lips, dark horses chariot the wake slip
disturb the jagged mantle, ice
hooves clop and clip the desperate night

in tip toe to the post box the poetess
delivers her last terms in her nightdress

whilst father soundly sleeps post coital
in the wedding bed, but not with mother
far from home the telephone rings hoarse roundabouts

the stove’s illuminating glare removes the rude rebuff of love—lies
feet out–you’ll show them how to write this one in Elysium,
love’s gentle flame expired grows noxious, bold
the glassy teat, white eyed

promises, lies, under the Laburnum tree shuts tight
maniacal bursts, hearse rides
the dogs are chewing mummies bones tonight
love, made Nazi lampshade bright
stole the willowing night

under the stilted house belly down
snake coiled and round she rose again to die again
this witch just keeps burning, bloating, jerking
seeds fruited out, crustaceous slick weed suckered closed
manacled pearls shape shifting words the gods of verse
cheek down head first into the frosted spring.


Tara Arkle lived in Paris where she was published in the International Poetry Magazine, Paris/Atlantic. She spent a semester studying Poetry at Harvard. A journalist, columnist, and broadcaster, in London, she moved to Bristol where her poetry was part of the 2014 Poetry Festival. Having spent two years working in the Domestic Abuse sector, her poem, ‘he had bedroom eyes’, was adopted by the International Women’s Group, The Soroptimists, and is read out at marches and meetings. Tara is currently working on an epic poem about The Garden of Eden.


A Good Girl by Sharon Phillips

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A good girl

Amber light from yellow curtains drawn
against the setting sun. Madeira cake,
meat-paste sandwiches. The gas fire
putters. What a pretty dress. Whispers
and cigarette smoke. Want a sweet?

She looks like her dad. Come on, give us
a kiss. Powdered cheeks and whiskery
chins. Shy, isn’t she? Peaches from tins.
They should have been more careful.
Bloody fools. Have another piece of cake.

He asked her to marry him straightaway.
Come and sit on my lap. Stiff white curls.
A housefly’s slow circles. Be a good girl.
Does she want a glass of lemon squash?
Let’s hope she don’t take after her mother.


Sharon retired from a career in education in 2015 and started to write poems again after a break of 40 years. Her poems have most recently appeared in Ink Sweat and Tears, Picaroon, Snakeskin and Sentinel Literary Quarterly. In 2017 she won the Borderlines Poetry Competition with her poem ‘Tales of Doggerland’ and was also shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. Sharon lives on the Isle of Portland, in Dorset.


Remembering that late summer-day by Julie Sampson

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Remembering that late summer-day

she recalled
she went – on the day it happened,
like you do at a certain age –
looking for your old
roots, you know, life’s major turning-points,
tracking round the bends along the road from the ridge,
past the place of the den in the hazel hedge,
past West Villies, the field where they read comics in the hen-coop,
then passed the meadow where once they almost caught the linhay on fire.

That day, but for the birds, alone in the world
she’s happily fluting the grass-stem.

Finding the gate
shut against Long Close,
the field next to Whitemoor, its
lower hedge running beside Rook-Wood
side edge parallel to Ashridge lane,
a long thorn juts out,
then barley comes to mind –
she’d forgotten –
these were the glowing days just after
summer’s field of gold-
stubble pricking your legs,
sunblinding eyes.

She tracks beside the hedge verge,
it’s amok with trefoil, golden-rod.
You’re a tomboy – do ‘ee like butter, he says.

Looking back
she’d forgotten she still knew what she’d thought she did not –
wishes she could see
and be in the moment before that turn in time,
could recalibrate an urging sun.


Julie Sampson’s poetry is widely published, most recently, or forthcoming, in Shearsman, Molly Bloom, Allegro, Dawntreader, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Journal, Noon, Poetry Space, Peeking-Cat, The Lake, Amethyst Review and Algebra of Owls. Her poetry collection Tessitura was published in 2014 (Shearsman). See https://www.juliesampson.com/


Liposuction by Nicholas McGaughey

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It was not the best plan
To convalesce on the cheap coach home,
The hole in her side weeping
Lymphatic blood-marble,
Podge, liquefied for the wedding
And her millionaire dress.

Paramedics have taped and revived her,
Stemmed the flow of love handle
Syruping on the seat.
An hour on the hard shoulder
And pity has worn thin for the fat
Of our flushing bride, there are whispers
Of “compensation” and “lost” connections.

Led down the aisle to a blue lit recessional
By grooms in morning suits of green,
No fond smiles here from under millinery;
They see the soaked side of her sacrifice,
The limp bag of her body,
The wings of bingo
Folded over the flowers of her dress.


Nicholas McGaughey is an actor and has work forthcoming in Poetry Salzburg Review, Envoi, Popshot Magazine “Light” Issue and Here Comes Everone.



Birthdays by Ray Miller

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One year the kids made a photo mosaic,
a diary from warmness to winter’s decaying:
the feeding of bottles and reading of stories,
my hair set in bobbles, the family guffawing;
teaching the beautiful game in the garden,
patiently building sandcastles and snowmen;
watching barbarians ruin my labours
as youngsters mutated to surly teenagers.
Now the dark locks are whitened and hidden;
a worshipping congregation has risen
as if all sins were forgot or forgiven
and I a declining church or religion,
desirous of presence and shows of devotion,
receiving lip-service and standard gift tokens.



Ray Miller is a Socialist, Aston Villa supporter, faithful husband and father of 8 children. Life’s been a disappointment.




Romantic by Mike Ferguson

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She wants romance as the tide turns its
black ink into the shore after the sun has set

and the sky is still ignited. Venus mocks her
as a star, but it could be that what you see and

want is what you get in a dream like this.
Even the stone where she stands emanates

heat from the day’s long drag to this moment of
reflection, and the mystery of mauve on the

horizon is solidified. It’s all in the description,
as if a kenning captured and controlled these

odd but normal realities, and a boat sails
up the river to the sea in a wind-full word.

Still watching the waves she has one last hope
and the sky darkens its heliotrope.


Mike Ferguson’s most recent poetry collection is the sonnets chapbook Precarious Real [Maquette Press, 2016]. A retired English teacher, he co-authored the education text Writing Workshops [Cambridge University Press, 2015].


Three poems from Stephen Bone

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Ariadne In Married Life

The spiral, serpentine,
the classic unicursal. Since Crete
he’s grown a passion for such things.

Each evening finds him silent
at his board, an endless perfecting
of blind alleys, falsely hopeful paths,
his dog Daedalus – in the name of Zeus –
curled by his feet.

While in my corner – all lovesickness
cured – I embroider with my flashing needle
the dear bull beast as I remember him. Snap
silk thread between my teeth.


First published in ‘ Three Drops From A Cauldron ‘ .
Also in ‘ Plainsong ‘ published by Indigo Dreams 2017.


Not out of the woods yet

Left with this, I watch
…..the scribble of your heart,

its flashed beat,
…..and I will you

to hack through branches,
…..dense undergrowth,

to reach open ground,
…..green and shadowless.


First published in ‘ Londongrip Poetry ‘ .
Also in ‘Plainsong’ published by Indigo Dreams 2017.


Cold Sauvignon

Long gone the denture pink
luncheon meat pressed
between sliced white.
The cheap red.

The moth-eaten Black Watch
rough beneath our backs; a tub
of soft scoop – forgotten about –
melting in the humming heat.

These days
you unfold a formality of table
and chairs, favour starched napkins,

Your hamper empties
baguettes, poached salmon,
Spanish hams. From the icebox
a too cold Sauvignon.


First published in ‘Yorkmix Poetry’.
Also in ‘Plainsong’ published Indigo Dreams 2017.

Stephen Bone’s work has appeared in various magazines and anthologies in the U.K. and U.S. First collection ‘In The Cinema’ published by Playdead Press 2014. A pamphlet ‘Plainsong’ due from Indigo Dreams Publishing later this year.