Tim Brookes – “Life’s Laundry”

Life’s Laundry

Tuesday, the pain of mumps,
but you won’t sit with me.
Rationing the treats of company
and Lucozade.

Bed stripped and sighs,
pulling socks and pants
from the heart of Ali Baba.
Thrown and swallowed by
twin tubs grinding cycles.

Careful pour of powder
Bold, Surf, Tide,
a cap of Comfort.
The fierce glugging
of moist mischief.
Spinning,
spinning,
spinning.

Then stop.
Grab and tug uncompliant sheets,
dump in basket to peg on
line and pole that serve as
wayward moorings.

Back inside I watch as you spit
on hot steel
to iron out our life’s creases.


Tim Brookes has lived in the West Riding most of his life. He started to write after retiring from working in a Pupil Referral Unit and has had poems published in Dreich, the Poetry and Covid Project and was shortlisted for the Red Shed Poetry Competition.

John Lanyon – “Seeds”

Seeds

Fat, wrinkled runner bean seeds
saved in autumn in a jam-jar
a pinch of poppy dust in a used manila envelope
the half-forgotten, soiled-stained packets of
parsley and lettuce from last year
small, silver-lined promises of
morning glory, evening primrose, night-scented stocks –
all ready to spill from their temporary homes.

Tiny bombs of hope
eager to explode
thirst for moisture
hunger for light,
a welcoming bed.

I will bring you colour
I will bring you scent
I will nourish you
I will take your carbon dioxide
I will give you oxygen
I will root the shaking earth.

Come, it is Spring
the soil is warming
the Moon is rising.

If you do your part,
I will do mine.


John Lanyon lives in the Cotswolds. He works as a gardener, linguist, musician, and writer. Having failed his English Literature ‘O’ Level, he came to love literature through reading it in French and German. He writes about art, the body, childhood, society, nature, the spirit of places, the secret lives of words. He believes you can create complex things from simple means.

Gerry Stewart – “Obscured”

Obscured

The sunlight flits with my son
around his physio’s studio,
around me,
around the plant pot.
Paints shadow on shadow,
sprigs of heather
over my wool-encased
straight legs.

My son’s hand kinks
into a shadow puppet,
fingers too tight to make it speak.
He laughs off care
as they dance.

Our years of visits knotted
into the wood door,
slipping beneath paint.
We hear ourselves
in the sound of koputa
and the unheard doorbell.

Return across the tarmac,
winter stretches its long, long wish
over our silhouettes,
bumping together
as his legs betray his tiredness.

Our stories layered
light and snow, cold and dark,
the familiar muscle pull
of walking over ice,
adapting or not.

koputa = Finnish for ‘knock’.


Gerry Stewart is a poet, creative writing tutor and editor based in Finland. Her poetry collection Post-Holiday Blues was published by Flambard Press, UK. Totems is to be published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in 2022. Her writing blog can be found at http://thistlewren.blogspot.fi/ and @grimalkingerry on Twitter.

Ivor Daniel – “Late May at the Levels”

Late May at the Levels

In the heightened sunlight
I do not recognise this place.

An industrial skyline.
A foreground of reen and reeds.

What is this fissure on the path?

What is that barricade of shade?

Tree shadows take mouthfuls
out of the lane.

Pylons march away, unmoving.
Tense cables hum the limitations
of our progress.

A disused factory chimney.
Brick and concrete boxes
softened by nettles.

At the exact
centre of things
a cuckoo sings.

I consider life through a deep screen of reeds.

Pylons are not
the eyesore they once were.
Too much has happened since.

Now corvids protest
the warmth
of dark feathers.

Geese wings
fan humid air.

By the estuary
ducks bug
a summer suck
of mud.

At the exact
centre of things
a cuckoo sings.


Ivor Daniel lives in Gloucestershire, UK. His poems have appeared in A Spray of Hope, wildfire words, Steel Jackdaw, Writeresque, iamb~wave seven, Fevers of the Mind, The Trawler, Roi Fainéant, Ice Floe Press, The Dawntreader, Alien Buddha and After… . He is on Twitter @IvorDaniel

Sarah James/Leavesley – “Strawberry Fields Forever”

Strawberry Fields Forever

It’s the hottest summer so far on Kim’s record. Mom tries to coax Claire’s sister, but Kim refuses to come and pick your own when she can be hanging out with her new boyfriend, Adam. Claire doesn’t know if Mom’s asked Dad, but it ends up just Mom and her.

Claire’s never been picking before. The field stretches away into the distance with row after row of green plants, loose straw and glinting red. Mom tells her not to eat any until they’ve got them home and washed. But Claire can’t stop popping whole strawberries in her mouth and squeezing their sweetness free with her tongue and teeth. Juice runs down her face and stains her fingers.

Mom looks at her, then smiles.

Back home, Mom washes the rest, cuts them in half and offers some to Claire’s dad and sister.

“Later,” Dad says, disappearing into the garage with a can of lager to listen to The Beatles while he fails to fix their broken toaster.

The next morning, his untouched bowl is still on the side. The strawberries’ white-cored hearts have turned warm and squashy. The whole kitchen smells of burnt toast and sickly sweetness.


Sarah James/Leavesley is a poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer. Her latest collection is Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic (Verve Poetry Press, 2022) and she is currently working on a novel(la)-in-flash. Website: www.sarah-james.co.uk.

Paul Truan – “Small Talk”

Small Talk

Drowning in a sea of conversation,
words I understand but phrases
to which I have no response.
I stand in that man huddle
and periodically sip my pint,
not to drink but escape momentarily.
I check my phone searching
for some way out of the swell,
a boat where I can row and row
out to the horizon to the setting sun.


Paul is a father of four, husband, teacher and poet. He grew up in Cornwall and currently lives in North Somerset. He is emerging from the shadows and has had work published or forthcoming online and in print.

Lisa Rea Currie – “How to make them love you”

How to make them love you

Try to be born first.
That works for a little while and
be well-behaved so
you’re never any trouble.

Don’t sulk or frown.
Don’t smile too much or
people will notice and
you’ll get wrinkles when you’re old.

Dress more like a girl.
Not too girly, just
the right shade of lipstick or
you’ll look like a whore.

The same goes for red shoes,
visible straps and jewellery.
Only the cheapest of ladies
wear all their jewellery at once.

Be more womanly.
Get married, have babies.
Not too many babies,
don’t you know how they’re made?

Don’t ask for help.
Keep your home and your job
and your figure, be grateful, smile.

Don’t smile too much or
you’ll get wrinkles when you’re old.


Lisa is a new poet from Northern Ireland. Her New Year’s Resolution was to join a writing group which she has since found to be mostly supportive and only a tiny bit terrifying. In her day job she works in heritage so she often finds her writing is heavily influenced by landscape and the past. 

Jen Feroze – “Something Like Nostalgia”

Something Like Nostalgia

After he died, they turned his shop
into a flat. Lace curtains
filmy enough to peer through.
A legacy of sticky fingers on the glass.

God, years ago we used to queue
out the door and down
towards the square. Jostling in first uniforms,
first glints of pocket money white knuckled.

Jars and jars and jars
on shelves that needed kick stools. A library
of gobstoppers and pear drops, sour apples,
cola cubes, orbs in every colour.

I remember his moustache. I remember him
in a surgeon’s white coat (can that be right?).
Other people used to buy shoe polish
and nails and milk – the trappings of adulthood
we refused to understand.

The butchers went next, and the greengrocers
on the corner soon after. The village now
seems thronged with ghosts. Sweets
and trussed chickens and innocent children
and bunches of carrots,
still smelling faintly of earth.


Jen Feroze lives by the sea in Essex with her husband and two small sleep thieves. Her work has recently appeared in Atrium, Ink Sweat & Tears, Ekphrastic Review and The Madrigal, among others. Her first collection, The Colour of Hope, was published in 2020. Find her on instagram @the_colourofhope and on twitter @jenlareine.

Mathew Lyons – “signs & wonders”

signs & wonders

audible for a moment
the astrology of sound

how to make sense of traffic
street talk

the infinite orchestra
of weather

what the roar from a bar at evening means
the folklore of slow wifi

delays on the Circle Line
the satnav finding its north in a cul de sac

you have reached your destination
a points failure, a mythos

even a false alarm’s
a cry for help of some kind


Mathew Lyons is a London-based writer, poet and historian. His poems have appeared in Atrium Poetry, Dawn Treader, Ink, Sweat and Tears, and Reliquiae, among others. Twitter: @MathewJLyons

Sharon Larkin – “Dawn Chorus, May 2020”

Dawn Chorus, May 2020

Today we have the choice
to listen to the doom on the news
and brood about the gloom
of the world we’re prisoners in
or we can choose to use
this hour we’ve been allowed,

before the joggers are about
to overtake us on the path
with their puff-pant breath
trailing in their wake,
before the lycra-ed cyclists
flash their fashion far too close.

We sneak into the pre-dawn light,
while neighbours are still abed.
A benevolent moon
beams down on us,
our satellite, our sputnik
our fellow-traveller.

We consider the birds of the air
hear them sing their songs
of cheerful ignorance
of human pestilence and fear,

free to stake their boundaries,
coax mates of matching feather,
or simply state their joy
at nests, full of eggs,
joy at the planet they inhabit.


Sharon Larkin’s pamphlet, Interned at the Food Factory, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2019, and her collection, Dualities, by Hedgehog Poetry Press in 2020. She has over 200 poems in anthologies, magazines and e-zines, including Magma, Prole, Ink Sweat & Tears and Atrium. She runs Eithon Bridge Publications , edits Good Dadhood ezine and blogs at Coming up with the Words.