Three poems from Stephen Claughton




Even the words for ordinary,
everyday things are failing you now
like old labels that come unstuck
and get muddled beyond recall.
I do my best to help you,
as together we puzzle out
what exactly it is you mean.
It isn’t an easy task —
I’m not a mind-reader, Mum,
and you don’t give me much to go on.
Your periphrases, though accurate enough,
are somehow beside the point.
“The thing that holds water,” you say,
I lamely render as “jug”,
only to find it was “radiator” you meant.
There’s even a name for it,
a word for the loss of words,
though it isn’t one I use.
I work around it instead,
not wanting to worry you.
“It’s just old age,” I say,
or “because you’re feeling tired.”
You seem satisfied with that,
though you’ve seen it happen before —
to your sister and some friends.
We don’t need words for it,
this thing that’s bothering you;
we both know what it means.


The Double

When I come to take you out,
you’re expecting someone else.
“Who is it?” I ask, concerned
(the old are so vulnerable).
Oh, it’s no one I know, you say,
just someone you’ve met somewhere
who drives you around in his car.
I check your diary to see,
but there’s nothing there for today
except for the entry I made,
against which you’ve pencilled
five ticks and written “Important!”
above, doubly underlined.
You’re glad it’s me, you say.
The other man means well,
but you find his visits dull:
he doesn’t talk, just drives.
Well, thank you; it’s good to know
that whatever else I am,
at least I’m not a bore —
except that this other man,
the fellow you describe,
he sounds a lot like me,
right down to the fact that
he recently cancelled coming,
because he had a cold.
Perhaps there have always been two —
the person I think I am
and the one you complain about.
We give him another ten minutes
and when he still doesn’t appear,
we drive to the café as usual.
Our talk, as always, proceeds in parallel,
you ignoring what I say.
I’m used to it — I’m your son —
but the stranger who takes you out,
he must be some kind of saint.
It’s very dull being the other man.


Still Life

A laminated sheet lists
activities for April.
“I don’t bother with that,” you say.
“They’re trying to baby me.”

Well, Tai Chi in the lounge
or a pub night in with Dave
may not be quite your thing,
but there’s plenty else besides:

garden walks with Pam,
or classical music with Jean,
or memories, Jean again.
(They keep her busy, Jean.)

But no, you’re adamant:
you’d rather be in your room
with the radio for company
than join in silly games.

Yet I’ve seen a photograph
of you with your white hair
practically flaring the shot,
a paintbrush in one hand,

your normally dull eyes
sharpened to a point,
as you put the final touch
to a daffodil you’ve drawn.

The outline looks a bit shaky,
but that may be just the breeze
and smearing the yellow a little
just makes it more radiant.

I want to tell you, “Well done!”
for coaxing your Welsh, spring flower
from under forgetful snow,
but how dare I patronise?

Stephen Claughton’s poems have appeared in magazines, including Agenda, Magma, Poetry Salzburg Review and The Warwick Review, and online at Ink, Sweat & Tears, London Grip and The Poetry Shed.


Best of British: An anthology of poems about Great Britain – Paper Swans Press


The idea for this anthology – a poetic exploration of all things connected with the UK – was born in a different era, pre-Brexit vote and in a time when the Great British Bake-Off was still a BBC institution. How long ago that now seems…

The initial aim was to cover every corner of the UK, in an attempt to poetically (and politically correctly) map every angle in its diversity and flavour; its landscapes – town, city, country, coastal, its people – young, old, native, immigrant but it quickly became apparent this would be a near-impossible task. The focus then changed to simply selecting the best from the many excellent submissions – the best poetry of Britain, with little concern for any even-handed geographic weighting or coverage.

Featuring poetry from: Allen Ashley, Yvonne Baker, Rebecca Bird, Claire Booker, Stephen Bone, Ed Broom, Carole Bromley, Michael Brown, Sue Burge, Lewis Buxton, Karen Jane Cannon, Claire Collison, Sarah Doyle, Susan Evans, Matthew James Friday, John Foggin, David Hensley, Margaret Holbrook, Jannine Horsford, Jenni Wyn Hyatt, Karen Izod, Sarah James, Neil Leadbeater, Fokkina McDonnell, Miriam Obrey, Angela Readman, Maggie Sawkins, Derek Sellen, Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, Sue Spiers, Paul Stephenson, Alison Stone, Sarah Tait, Alex Toms, Sarah Watkinson, Jules Whiting, M. V. Williams and Lawrence Wilson.

‘Best of British’ is a wonderful anthology of accessible, varied and memorable poems. Now funny, now moving, its highlights include Angela Readman’s thoughts on the sex lives of neighbours and Paul Stephenson’s brilliant transplanting of Frank O’Hara’s walking New York poems to give us a British town in all its richness. Lawrence Wilson offers a timely satire of the UK citizenship test and ultimately, and importantly, these are poems for and about people as much as about place. Just as M.V. Williams explores the way in which place can store the past, so these covers store a cabaret of voices, and it’s really a joy to see them now – stepping, throat-clearing, dancing into the light.

Jonathan Edwards,
Winner of the 2015 Costa prize for poetry


To purchase a copy click here

Launch details:

1st April, 7.30pm at The George, Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells


Stephen Daniels

Two poems from Stephen Daniels’ forthcoming pamphlet, Tell mistakes I love them

One hand on the steering wheel


the screen sprung with light
the vibrate function alerted with each chant
was the message missing a colon

or was it your way of telling me that this was closed
I waited for a correction     a meaningful emoji
each second a social media minute     until I asked you


expecting you to lol     or haha     even correct me
with a knowing semi-colon P
reassure my twitching digits

when we first met     I warned your distracted eyes
watched every reach towards the dashboard
your fingers performing – – a silhouette from the hazard lights


you left me with a closed bracket
an unfinished spasm



Surface tension

The ocean leaves me uncomfortable,
sea-sick sway, centre of a swell. Below
my family, twisted amphibians ,
snap at intimacy, check each hollow,
staunchly defend underground ancestors.

In single file they chart currents, display
their hearse fins, each coughing obligation.
I make my way to the surface and spread-
out, thin. A drifting imposter looking
up. I float and savour the nausea.


These poems appear in Tell mistakes I love them forthcoming from V. Press


Stephen Daniels is the editor of Amaryllis Poetry (http://www.amaryllispoetry.co.uk/) and Strange Poetry (http://www.strange-poetry.com/) websites. His poetry has been published in numerous magazines and websites, including The Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat & Tears, And Other Poems, Obsessed With Pipework, The Lake. His forthcoming Pamphlet ‘Tell mistakes I love them’ will be published in 2017 by V. Press. You can find out more at http://www.stephenkirkdaniels.com/ @stephendaniels


Following footsteps by Lesley Burt


Following footsteps


Sudden – the mother’s death – she wobbles
takes to wearing the old lady’s shoes

keeps them soled and heeled, polishes
over scuffs, wraps in soft scarves
nestles them in bandboxes at bedtime.

The sisters go up West, parade Jimmy Choos
and Prada in Bond Street and Soho

while she conceals her toes in old slippers
to watch Saturday Kitchen, pops feet
in old Crocs when she weeds borders.

Until a friend helps her make a stand –
takes her to Russell & Bromley and clubbing.

On Saint Crispin’s Eve she leaves
after midnight, barefoot, hand-in-hand
with a man who strokes her tingling insteps.



Lesley’s poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies, including: Prole, Tears in the Fence, The Interpreter’s House, Sarasvati, Reach and The Butchers Dog, and online, including in the Poetry Kit website, Algebra of Owls, Strange Poetry and Three Drops from a Cauldron. Recent awards in competitions include first prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly (SLQ) competition August 2016.


Binsted Arts Poetry Competition Closing Date: 20-Mar-17


As part of the 2017 Binsted Arts Festival there will be a reading in Binsted Church (BN18 0LL) of prizewinning and commended poems with a commentary by judge Clare Best on

Saturday 10 June, 2017 at 7.30 pm

best.jpgClare is author of four poetry collections and creative writing tutor for the Open University

Original unpublished poems are invited on the theme of Harvest

Prizes: £150, £100, £50

Entry fee £5 for first poem, £3 for each subsequent poem

All details can be found here



Two poems from Neil Elder

In Our Path

There wasn’t anything more we could do –
the kitten noosed by orange wire lay dead
against the works where a team had fixed a leaking pipe.

Before we lay it beneath leaves
in a peaty shallow, you held the body
with the same care you had cradled Daniel
on that morning everything changed.




We walked a Norfolk beach
beneath the darkest-brightest sky I’d ever seen.

He pointed to the Plough, the Milky Way,
the Dog Star and Orion.
Follow my finger to the North Star.

Together we traced our way
across the Universe;
joining the dots as we went.



Neil Elder has been widely published in magazines and journals; Rialto, Envoi and The Interpreter’s House among them. In 2016 his pamphlet ‘Codes of Conduct’ was published by Cinnamon Press as a winner of their pamphlet competition, subsequently the pamphlet was shortlisted for a Saboteur Award. Neil has a full collection forthcoming with Cinnamon Press, and he is currently wrestling with titles for this. Neil regularly takes part in readings and is a member of Herga Poets in Harrow, Middlesex.


What Little Girls Are Made Of by Charlotte Eichler


What Little Girls Are Made Of


She brushes through web
into grimy, tangled light.
Spiders drop spread-legged

from the roof like stars,
landing on tomatoes.
Greenfly bloom along stems –

she coaxes one onto her finger,
lets it crawl among the butterflies
printed on her summer dress

then grips its wings, turns it on its back
to pluck a waving limb, see the clear drop
emerge from its root.

She peels shells from flowerpots,
waits till they unfurl
and presses each cool body

to her skin. Her mother calls
and she leaves with snails
suckered to her legs like kisses.


Charlotte Eichler’s poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies including The Rialto, Agenda, The Interpreter’s House, And Other Poems, The Emma Press Anthology of Aunts, and Eyewear’s Best New British and Irish Poets 2017. She was commended in the 2016 Battered Moons competition and has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Flambard Poetry Prize. She lives in West Yorkshire and works as an editor and medievalist.

(First published in the 2015 Flambard Poetry Prize Anthology)


Fence by Kerry Darbishire




The cold eats in
moans through the slow march –
a solitary line of spent ammunition
across peat-land.

Margins stripped wire-thin

rust and stoop a quadrangle of pines
and on downhill to a gate
where mothers and wives waited
for a homecoming

where love waited for dark.

Sun fires a blanket sky above Barkin Moor
re-opens the scar, and for a moment
this wound seeps
hymns, horses brushed in scabious, buttercups

and all the meadowsweet summers

carted steel on stone
over cobbled yards
into dim barns
the first glimmer of stars.

Emptiness is sore

gnaws at these victims
seized by winters longing for new blood
in wild December tracks
when they rise to shiver old fears

along a forgotten border.



Kerry Darbishire grew up in the Lake District and continues to live in a remote area of Cumbria. Since her mentorship with Judy Brown, the poet in residence at the Wordsworth Trust in 2013, her poems have appeared in anthologies, magazines and she has won several competition prizes. Her first full poetry collection, ‘A Lift of Wings’ was published in 2014 by Indigo Dreams Publishing, and her biography ‘Kay’s Ark’ published in September 2016 by Handstand Press. http://www.handstandpress.net She is currently working on a second collection of poems.


Sheepgoat by Elizabeth Gibson


For the Chinese, you are one being
when it comes to birth years. They
don’t care who went to heaven and
who went to hell. And I understand.
You are not evil; the thought of it is
ridiculous and you may be an angel
but it is more likely you are a little
body wandering a hill, maybe wet

and tousled, probably cold. To my
synaesthesia you are mint and gold:
“sheep” is a yellow word and “goat”
is orange or green. Your horns curl
up or down or back like an ancient
rune, not of strength or justice but
of just being, knowing you are you
and are a small creature that roams

and is not ashamed of its life. You
know you are necessary. You are
not quite sure why. Here you stand
squarely, hooves in the mud, wind
whorls in your thin coat, and from
afar you might be guarding gates to
…somewhere. You are only resting
as you consider the size of the earth.


Elizabeth Gibson is a Masters student at the University of Manchester and a member of The Writing Squad. Her work has appeared in The Cadaverine, Far Off Places, London Journal of Fiction, Severine, Octavius and Ink, Sweat and Tears among others. She tweets at @Grizonne and blogs at http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.com.


Kent and Sussex Poetry Society – calling all locals!!!

Join us!! Poetry has never been more important. It is only £15 per year and for that you get to come to our monthly stanza events with the top poets in the UK and beyond, access to our monthly workshop groups, entry to and a copy of the K&S Folio, as well as updates and member news and news of special events and workshops.

The Kent and Sussex Poetry Society

Programme – Spring/Summer 2017

Readings (open to all)

Main meetings on the third Tuesday of each month (except August) currently at the Camden Centre

21 Mar: Open mic, then reading by Suzanne Cleary

18 April: Open Competition winners announced and reading by the judge, Catherine Smith

16 May: Results of Society’s Folio competition announced and reading by Jacqueline Gabbitas

20 June: Isobel Dixon

18 July: Open air meeting in Crowborough

Previous visiting poets include Robert Seatter, Matthew Caley, Danielle Hope, Julian Stannard, Mark Waldron, Kate Bingham, Mario Petrucci and many, many more.


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