Ceinwen Haydon – “I Am a Magic Mirror”

I Am a Magic Mirror

Tricks of light: images change in my face,
fair becomes faded, faded becomes fair.
Annie’s old, skin creased and dry, eyes
rheumy, hair thinned. I need to get stuck in
and give her ease. My bright bulbs dim,
I reflect rosy sundown from the window
in my vast, round glass. She glances away,
anxious not to meet her own physiognomy
whilst ensconced in the hairdresser’s chair.
I mist slightly, for gentleness’s sake and wink
my fluorescent top-bar in her line of sight.
I’ve caught Annie’s gaze. She stares. Her
eyelids rise, she sees inside and is reminded
of girlhood years, sees them alive, held still,
safe in her lived-in carapace. I’ve not finished
here. I’ll shine on her worn complexion,
show the softened loveliness lying scripted
in these hard-earned wrinkles. Let Annie glory
in today, as well as long-gone yesterday.
Tricks of light: images change in my face,
fair becomes faded, faded becomes fair.


Ceinwen lives near Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and writes short stories and poetry. She is widely published in online magazines and in print anthologies. Her first chapbook is Cerddi Bach [Little Poems], (Hedgehog Press, 2019) and she has been nominated for the Pushcart and Forward prizes. She is developing practice as a participatory arts facilitator. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

Ama Bolton – two poems

Chef

words spilt in anger
no use crying over
what won’t go back in the bottle

a voice to sharpen knives
cool in their metal case
finely fettled

carver and cleaver
boning and filleting
honed to cut flesh

threats ricochet
across the kitchen
hush before the crash

***

All-night Party

Rain came last night
clog-danced on the tiles till dawn
kicked up mounds of moss
downed pint after pint
merrymaking in the down-pipe
giggling in the gutter
singing off-key in the alley

all’s quiet this morning
the party-goers
sleep it off in puddles
and the sun comes up
on streets washed clean
and steaming


Ama Bolton, former member of The Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun, convenes a Stanza group in Somerset, where she lives with a sculptor and two hens. Her poems have featured at festivals, on Radio 3’s The Verb, on local radio and in magazines and anthologies.

Nigel Jarrett – “The Running of the Deer”

The Running of the Deer
Nature notes after an accident at Wyastone Leys

Rounding a bend, we see it: a car
…..crumpled and steaming against a tree;
and inside, the driver, alive but agog
…..before a windscreen starburst, the blood
imagined, panicking on route to the brain
…..at some impediment finally come good.

The ambulance radio talks of crisis
…..to no-one and everyone: a girl precipitate
on a bridge; a pummelled wife left
…..for dead; a widower down, feeling
the draught from under the door rustle
…..a stray hair, his thumb tabbed to a bleeper.

Now this; but distant on the park’s slope,
…..a herd of young roe, each dappled flank
luminous, every glazed snout afire, all heads
…..turned as one to our cotton-knot commotion.
It quickens the fast-beating heart, the hoof’s
…..split tension, the shoal-like twist and scarper.


Nigel Jarrett won the Rhys Davies Prize and the Templar Shorts Award for short fiction. His poetry collection, Miners At The Quarry Pool (Parthian, 2013), was described by Agenda editor Patricia McCarthy as ‘a virtuoso performance’. A fictional memoir, Notes From the Superhorse Stable, appeared this year and his fourth story collection will be published this autumn. Among others, his poetry has appeared in Poetry Ireland, Poetry Wales, Orbis, Acumen, and Oxford Poetry. He lives in Monmouthshire.

Gram Joel Davies – “Convergence”

Convergence

A man with a rosette
on his suit says
we all share the same soup.

On another channel
a husky naturalist in a cloud forest
says nature is a complicated argument
over few solutions;

a thousand species of leaf
have (separately) learnt to taper
to a waxy runnel―

and a wing is forever a hand
with fingers teased to a fan
in the pipistrelle/
fused to an aerofoil in a kestrel.

It happens
that not every eyeball
opens into inevitable

conscience: back on
the other channel,
the man with a rosette talks
up our common pressures.


Gram Joel Davies lives in Devon. His poetry collection, Bolt Down This Earth (V. Press), was published in 2017. Since then, he has become a counsellor. He has begun writing in earnest again recently. A publication in The Moth marked his return.

Simon Williams – “Coffee Copy”

Coffee Copy

They’re having a revamp,
peeling Coffee off the window,
so you wonder what
the coffee shop will now sell.

Breadfruit in single shots,
iced pterodactyls to go,
amethyst frappés with cream
and marshmallows.

………….Did you know ptero-dactyls
………….are so called because they flew
………….FLAP flap flap, FLAP flap flap
………….FLAP flap flap?

Perhaps they’re just revising the font,
a strong slab serif
instead of the flowing cursive.
Or putting it in Morse.

I suck my white chocolate mint shake.
A small piece of ice blocks the straw.
A lot of the good stuff
is lost in contemplation of this.


Simon Williams has been writing since his teens, when he was mentored at university by Roger McGough. He has nine collections, the latest being The Magpie Almanack (www.simonwilliams.info), from Vole, published December 2020. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013, founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet and published the PLAY anthology in 2018.

Emma Lee – “About the party”

About the party

I remember N’s kiss. It was a birthday kiss from one
friend to another. He’d just heard it was my birthday
and instinctively wanted to give me something. A kiss,
a not-to-be-repeated gift, was lovely, but not love.­­­­­­­­­­­­

No, the party wasn’t about N. But that’s not what
you’re asking. How long can I stall at not-about-N?
I had a broken heart because meeting in secret’s OK
until he meets someone who doesn’t have to be a secret.

Can we skip this? You saw tears and assumed it was about
a boy. You offered a hug because that’s what you do when
you think it’s a teenage heartbreak that will all be over
by Christmas. But it wasn’t and you want to know.

But you too are a teenager and no more capable of holding
this than a skinny sapling can take a heavy nesting box.
I don’t want to be the reason this party’s remembered.
You hug me. My father takes me back to a dark house.


Emma Lee’s publications include The Significance of a Dress (Arachne, 2020) and Ghosts in the Desert (Indigo Dreams, 2015). She co-edited Over Land, Over Sea (Five Leaves, 2015), was Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib, reviews for magazines and blogs at https://emmalee1.wordpress.com. Twitter: @Emma_Lee1.

Daniel Bennett – “Out of Town B&Q”

Out of Town B&Q

It resolves the ordinary carnage
of a Sunday morning, the nail
snagged into raw pine,
the seep of a shower pipe

into a ceiling cavity, the stain
pouring across the dream
of a lounge like terrible news.
Or the minutiae of a garden:

bean canes, chicken wire, slug pellets,
sacks of tomato compost
hefted like cadavers across aisles
of bitumen and astro turf.

Along the rows of paint cans,
the couples speak out shades
of green– emerald, woodland,
Dublin, Calke– and my father

as a young man appears, sawdust
curled into his jumper, a pencil
behind one ear: imagining a home
amongst aggregate and beech.


Daniel Bennett was born in Shropshire and lives in London. His poem, ‘Clickbait’, was commended in the 2020 National Poetry Competition and his work has been published in a variety of places, including: Wild Court, Stand, The Manchester Review, Structo, The Stinging Fly, Under The Radar, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, and The Best New British and Irish Poets 2017 (Eyewear Publications, 2017). His first collection, West South North, North South East, was published in 2019 by The High Window Press.

Dominic Fisher – “The heat”

The heat

was a gong
stunning us from above
with long reverberations.

It shook shadows
turned everything blue
that wasn’t nearby.

Back gardens went dumb
and the half-clogged lanes
grew tongue-tied.

We were haunted
by ice-cream vans
dazzled by packaging.

Forgetfulness
followed us about
in a silence of birds.

When the atmosphere
later turned into wine
we drank it slowly.

And afterwards
as we lay naked
trying to sleep

lightning took photos
and thunder
walked around the walls


Dominic Fisher is a co-editor of Raceme magazine, and a member of poetry performance group the IsamBards. His poems are widely published, sometimes broadcast, and his second collection, A Customised Selection of Fireworks, was recently published by Shoestring Press. There are sparrows and foxes on his north Bristol allotment.

Tim Dwyer – “From the Front Room”

From the Front Room
for Emily

This morning my body is fused
with the love seat,
and on the power line across the lane
a tiny bird alights,
nearly camouflaged in the pines.
I see faint tint of red,
maybe the robin
maybe the finch.
The bird flies behind
the overgrown hedge
and I watch for its return.
Sometimes hope moves that way.


Tim Dwyer’s poems appear regularly in Irish and UK journals, forthcoming in Allegro, London Grip, and Stony Thursday Book. His chapbook is Smithy Of Our Longings (Lapwing). He grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and now lives in Bangor, Northern Ireland.

Holly Bars – “The world would have ended here”

The world would have ended here

for me, at least. Surrounded by strangers and machines. Beeps.
There’s nothing unusual about this; a lot of people die in hospital.
But I haven’t. Except for this time, when for a moment, I did. 

The world didn’t end here. I threw up, and the taste was
all the medicine I’d ever taken; I could pick out banana penicillin,
calpol, daydreams, binges, fasts, talking, silence, so many books,
and those fatal fucking painkillers. All green bile. 

The world continues. I discharge myself from white sheets,
float my numb body out of doors and windows. I fly eight miles
back to the hostel. I steal things from the world that I’d wished away:
breaths, swallows, shits, words and actions. 

The world is cut by me again, in the same way I passed through
my mother’s needle. The way my heart broke through buzzes
as it slingshotted back from a hidden place. The way I’m enraged 
I wasn’t asked if any of this was what I wanted.


Holly is a mature student currently studying at the University of Leeds. Her poems have been published, since January 2021, by Ink, Sweat & Tears, Fragmented Voices, Porridge, Visual Verse, Anti-Heroin Chic, Runcible Spoon, and more, as well as appearing in anthologies. She is currently working on her debut collection, Dirty.