AFMM Poetry

Poetry in Motion

(with apologies to all the writers in italics)

Every time I pass a motion, it’s raleigh wilde and burns. Within my lower bowel there’s no swift twists and turns. I’m usually the hardy type, but I’m struggling to cope, I sit and nashe my teeth, while praying like the pope. Watts up with my intestines? They used to be so good, now they’re creepy crawley. To mask the smell I wear a hood. Here comes moore! Such a long fellow has my forehead frowning. My face is going gray and the toilet bowl is browning. I wouldn’t have had that bacon, the suckling pig so yum, if I’d only known the torture it would inflict upon my bum. My wife will brooke no pity, the heartless wicked crabbe. She says I’ve burnt my bridges – another painful stab! She thinks that I’m just larkin’, that there’s nothing wrong with me. She says “Get out the hous man, I’m dying for a pee!” It really is a marvell, how this goes on and on anon. Until, at last, a sudden drop – great scott, now finally I’m donne!   

 Guess the Movies – in Haiku  

now please don’t read on  
if you want to guess the twist –  
Willis is a ghost! 

Tracy Davidson lives in Warwickshire, England, and writes poetry and flash fiction. Her work has appeared in various publications and anthologies, including: Poet’s Market, Mslexia, Atlas Poetica, Modern Haiku, The Binnacle, A Hundred Gourds, Shooter, Journey to Crone, The Great Gatsby Anthology, WAR, In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights. 

Nosey Cow
Nosey Cow? Who me?
You are the one invading my field.
All I did was try to approach you,
But your party ran off with a squeal.
I first smelt you all from a distance,
You see, my senses are extremely intense.
I noticed you rambling over the meadow,
While I was grazing next to the fence.
As you headed ever closer,
All your colours dazzled my eyes.
I said to Daisy and Bella, “I’m off”,
My curiosity I couldn’t disguise.
I only wanted to look closer,
To listen to your song and your chat.
With fear in your eyes, you bolted and ran,
Slipping in one of my cow pats.
You jumped up and down in anger,
Waving your fist in the air.
Your friends were laughing and pointing,
But the smell was just too much to bear.
You ranted and stamped, and you shouted,
“It’s all your fault Nosey Cow.”
Well, I was shocked and offended,
My fault? No, I didn’t see how.
I walked away and chewed some grass,
And moo’d my annoyance at you.
Then headed on home back to my herd,
Until you were out of my view.
You also went home and took a hot bath,
All clean, you no longer felt mad.
So off you went for a beer and some food,
To a restaurant called the Black Ladd.
What’s that noise?

I woke up in the middle of the night,
I’m sure I hear a scream.
Was it real or in my head,
As I awakened from my dream?
I heard muffled noises from my parent’s room,
I heard my father’s voice.
So, off I went to check on them,
I didn’t really have a choice.
I pushed the door wide open,
I was shocked to say the least,
My dad was lying on my mum,
On top of all the sheets.
My father groaned and grunted,
My mother cried, “please don’t stop,”
Then she pushed him on his back,
Now she was sat on top.
I didn’t think my parents did this,
I thought they were too old.
I was angry with them both,
I was going to get them told.
I marched up to their bedside,
Suddenly, they noticed I was there.
My mother screamed as she grabbed the covers,
“You gave me such a scare.”
I shook my head at them both,
I shouted, “you don’t care.”
How could they play at wresting,
On their own, it wasn’t fair.
I wagged my finger in their face,
“Next time I want to play,”
“You can be the Undertaker,”
“And I’ll be Mark Henry.”

They nodded in agreement,
But didn’t utter any words.
So, before I left them on their own,
I made sure that they had heard.
“But when we play together,”
“Keep your top and trousers on.”
“I don’t want to see your belly,”
“Or your big fat hairy bum.”

Donna Smith started taking writing seriously four years ago, after winning a poetry competition run by Northern Roots with ‘On Oldham’s front door’. Since then, Donna has had mentoring from Jacqueline Ward and had two poems published in Wheelsong Anthology.

How fluffed the earnest peacock’s tail

With thanks to Lewis Carroll and Flanders & Swann

How fluffed the earnest peacock’s tail
compels inamoratas
with eyes that dazzle to prevail
on target hens that matter.

He’s not unlike the crocodile,
whose scales the muddy Nile break,
who grins, as fish swim in its smile,  
behind its fearsome teeth gate.

As well,  the hippopotamus,
basking in cooling mud,
approaches prey without a fuss
and gulps them with a thud.

Even the vegetarian
grey elephant  ginormous
can practise trunkish variants
to stuff his mouth cav[o]rnous!

As fascinating as these sights,
are sounds our ears can’t fathom
at frequencies beneath us, quite
entrancing those that  hath ‘em.

But if our ears can’t hear these sounds
as when a lonely tree descends,
how can we know they’re all around?
Well, science makes its own amends!

The concave shell the peacock makes

With thanks to David Attenborough

The concave shell the peacock makes,  
a feather echo chamber,
his  infrasound tail resonates
occluding any danger.

Bedazzled by combined display
so mesmerised the pea hen,
with sight and sound  he has his way —
his effort’s made a love den.

In fact, the shining crocodile
sends sounds that stir the water,
for hunting, or just to beguile
a mate for sons and daughters.

And muddy hippopotami
indulge their ear for life
broadcasting special ‘Here am I’
to  find themselves a wife.

Yes,  other males accept  the cost —
the energy it takes —
bull elephants in rumbling must
call in a likely date.

Now then, my voice sometimes falters low —
but, reproductive ardour?  
My friendly basso profundo?  
Of this I must think harder.

Larry Winger, retired biomedical research scientist, has always been fascinated by the sexual antics of the biosphere, but he revels lately in contributing poetry to Visual Verse and Wildfire Words, as well as searching for regular joys at  He has struggled diligently to finesse his poetic efforts into the appropriate format for this humorous submission window.

The Phoenix And Albert

An homage to Marriot Edgar (1880 – 1951)

“There’s a fire on t’ railway embankment,” / said old Albert, “unless I’m mistook,” / so, being a public spirited wossname, / he hopped over the fence for a look. / He found a rock what seemed to have ruptured, / fire and smoke pouring out through the crack. / When Albert looked into the flames / he saw another red eye looking back. / Albert knew what he’d found in an instant, / his mythology were always tres bon, / he pulled the sleeve of his coat down over his hands, /  held out his arm, said “Hop on.”

The phoenix ruffled its flaming red feathers / then reached out with a tentative claw. / As Albert’s jacket started to smoulder / the heavens opened again with a roar. / Poor old phoenix, she nearly got drownded, / all the flames in her feathers went phut. / Albert tucked her under his coat and he stashed her / at home, with his hens, in his hut. / Twice the size of a very small chicken / she were not quite the pet he’d have chose. / She ate all of the food that he offered / and the skin off the end of his nose. / Albert asked his new pal how she’d got here. / They locked eyes and he suddenly knew / as how she’d pecked a hole in the space-time contin-yum / and, somehow, she’d just wriggled through. / Old Albert slept late the next weekend / When his wife woke him she said “I’d a hunch / yon bird in the pen looked right peaky /so I’ve stuck it in th’oven for lunch.” / Albert suffered a grim pre-mo-nition, / raced down the stairs with intent, / turned his face away from the sight of his friend, / and the gas up as high as it went. / As the Phoenix were re-incarnated / she rose in a massive fireball / which exploded the oven all over the room / and the fridge ended up in the hall.

Old Albert thought it were prudent / to make himself scarce for a wink / so he popped the bird into a bucket / and legged it down to the railway, to think. / By gum, but that bird were a beauty, / Albert wanted to keep her, it’s true, / but his thoughts turned to the wife of his bosom / and what she would say when she knew. / The bird had to go, he decided, / quite rightly, when all’s said and done / “You don’t want to outstay your welcome— / but you have to admit, it’s been fun.” / Poor Phoenix found it a bit of a struggle / to return to the place of her birth / for the sage and onion stuffing / had considerably altered her girth. / She sucked in her tummy, lunged forward, / found her exit route still really tight; / her feathers set fire to some brambles, / soon, the whole blessed bank were alight. / They could hear police sirens in t’ distance / “Time to skedaddle, by gum!” / Albert took his stick with the ‘orse’s ‘ead ‘andle / and shoved the Phoenix back whence she’d come. / Then he thought as he made his way homewards,  / “That old kitchen will ne’er be the same!” / It were the wife who’d put Phoenix in th’oven / but Albert knew who’d be taking the blame.

Marilyn Timms is co-publisher and co-editor of wildfire words. More on Marilyn

My mother is obsessed with pigeons

Lana prefers not to have an audio

My mother is obsessed with pigeons 
I don’t know what she sees 
but they have become her private secret 
her weekend hobby.
She is always talking about them 
much more than anything else 
she’s even got books on pigeons 
perched upon her shelf.
She tells me long-winded tales, these stories 
and anecdotes where every character 
is a pigeon on her street, she gives each bird 
a dialogue, a personality, the setting of a leaf 
she even imitates them,  
sucking in her cheeks to make a beak.
I’m getting kind of worried 
it’s getting kind of weird 
but I wouldn’t want any other mother 
to love any other bird. 

Lana Silver lives in Cardiff and is studying a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. Her poetry lives in a few anthologies including Renard Press’ Spectrum: Poetry Celebrating Identity, Secret Chords from the Folklore Poetry Prize, and Barbican Young Poets anthologies. She was commended in the New Voices First Pamphlet Competition 2021, and longlisted for two of her entries in Frosted Fire First Pamphlet Competition 2023.

Saving face

A plump pigeon landed in the birdbath today.

It was empty.

So as not to look foolish

it stayed there for a while,

just sitting in the dryness

and the dirt,

minding its own business, cooing.

Looking like an oven ready turkey

or a fat chicken in the hen house,

it glanced around, somewhat casually,
I thought,

nodding its tiny head as if in
agreement with something

until it flew off,

looking smug.

Michael Parsons has come to writing poetry later in life but enjoys the discipline. He is fascinated by words, imagery and the universal sense that personal writing may engender.

Chicago 1968 – Air spring

She has a headache from heat
I am sweating a river
after walking home from work.

A huge metal box in the window
the air conditioner, rattles
like an asthmatic tractor.

I have proofs to correct
Marilyn, drawings to finish.
Pencils go their own way.

Still overheated, I’m making errors.
She’s developed a headache.
The cool of a drugstore calls.

I ask for rubbers and aspirin
the teenage clerk goes red
I’m too young to sell a rubber.

She presses a button for help
while I clam up from saying
No, I don’t mean a condom.

More embarrassed silence
so I say headache pills.
! she says You want air spring.

Marilyn gives her a winning smile
The other thing we want
is a couple of erasers.

Howard Timms is co-publisher and co-editor of wildfire words. More on Howard here.

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

Bill prefers not to have an audio

He wondered if the
rain would ever stop.

It did, and then
he wondered why his ark

had ended up on
that bare mountain top.

He felt that God
had kept him in the dark

about the way
these remnants of creation –

two of each
species plus eight of mankind –

would bring about
the earth’s repopulation.

He’d never really
asked them if they’d mind

the pressure to
indulge in constant sex.

“Don’t worry, Dad,
it’s not just up to you,”

his sons said as
they left the crowded decks.

“All creatures,
great and small, know what to do.”

They did – each in their own peculiar way.
And that’s why you and I are here today.

Bill Lythgoe is a retired primary school teacher from Wigan and has been writing poetry seriously for 12 years. He has won prizes awarded by Writing Magazine, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Fire River Poets, The Page is Printed, the Wakefield Red Shed, Wax Poetry and Art (Canada), Creative Writing Ink  and Nottingham Poetry Society.

The Poet’s Larder

Being a poet
makes you far less shallow –
you realise that some things are more important than money
as you eat your last tin of chickpeas,
(we don’t do tinned green peas);
you realise that nothing is more important than money
as you eat your last tin of chickpeas,
(definitely not tinned green peas);
and you don’t think of judging men
on things like looks
or even money,
(until you are on your last tin of chickpeas)
but rather,
on how many poems you can get out of them.
I got four out of Frances
but only one out of Colin,
so no great loss.
Being a poet,
you need a tin-opener.


Straight hair may well be the classy option
to flatter and sculpt my fleshy face.
Razor fronds may allow for greater shine
and slash years off this ageing case.

But not for me the iron rule of ironed hair!
I would rather be a follicular folly.
I reject this societal imperialism
To go on a metaphysical jolly!

Wavy locks are an offbeat totem,
kinky strands keep judgements swirly.
Life can be a bouncy, frizzy adventure
When you are spiritually curly.

Caroline Am Bergris’ poetry has been published in journals in Europe and America both online and in print. She has won Ireland’s Over The Edge Poetry Prize, a place in The Best British and Irish Poets’ Anthology and was shortlisted and published in the Spectrum Identity poetry competition.

My ugly sister

For Eleanor*

Me and my ugly sister are never
ever seen together.
She always does the things I never do :
she always sulks and frowns,
face like a bucket, then dark as thunder,
she always, always has to grumble.

My ugly sister’s not a bit like me :
she always has to shout —
she’d frighten nightmares off with her loud noise,
Dracula’d run a mile —
each time she lets a scream out vampires hide,
when she gets out of bed, it’s the wrong side.

My ugly sister has a secret fear —
each time I smile, she disappears!
It’s funny, being good is really nice —
it makes me wear a grin,
that’s why we sisters always disagree —
and why, if you see her, you won’t see me.

*This poem was written to record the way in which my young niece beautifully
and simply explained what Freud referred to as the Id, the Ego and Super Ego.

Patrick B. Osada recently retired as Reviews Editor for SOUTH Poetry Magazine. He has published seven collections, From The Family Album was launched in October 2020. Patrick’s work has been broadcast on national and local radio and widely published in magazines, anthologies and on the internet.  

Say cheese

      “So, there was this bloke who walked into a pub one night – “
“No! That’s not how a poem goes! You haven’t started right.”
       “ – How many failed politicians, on a good day, does it take -?”

“No! No! How can that distil the moment, for goodness sake?
Where are the unacknowledged legislators? The recollection
In tranquillity? What you need urgently is a proper direction!”

      “A big shaggy dog at the door was barking, ‘Knock, knock -“
“Oh, I’ve got it now. You’re that poor old joke, a total crock,
In other words. Sorry mate, but you haven’t got what it needs

To be a trifling rhyme, far less great poetry. My heart bleeds,
I’d say, but it wouldn’t be true. What you want is real vision,
But what you’re offering instead, I only regard with derision.

To be as good as me you have to sacrifice, live quite selflessly.
I can’t possibly help you, but I can show what I mean. See!”

      So saying, the great poet raised the quill to write; then, as if
      Seeking better sight, with one step back, toppled off the cliff.

Chris Cuninghame lives in London, where he says there’s always plenty to see and to write about. He puts it down to mental indigestion that sometimes the words seem to trip off quite slowly. But this time, he’s expecting a speeding ticket.


Not kidding:
that over-the-shoulder glance
says it all, as he moves off,
grandly. Leaves you

as you rush to get the

More disdain: no exit was

So you give up;

so you compose

a whole long helpless
apology in your head:
these endless
Seems you’ll never learn.

Really, you just want to

lavish affection,
scoop him up, except,

as hell he’ll scratch.

calling [insert
service provider]

helloing, helloing, line
faint, sorry
crackle & washing
only drowns
your best-efforting

you’re saying? you what?
so I
yes-I’m-sure you, and you
ditto me, still none
of it makes sense
except you smile
voice me,

and I do reasonable,

and I know-not-your-fault

as you in turn

for the office-faulters,
Careless Ones who
 don’t brave phones,
don’t wobble-voice  down endless
international lines

          of unreal contact


Clouds, swarms, whole
they say – like the one
in my gut – tribes, we’re told

(we weren’t introduced)
roilingly, toilingly

busy in there.
Emailing/texting all the other hub operatives,

I expect, maybe the ones
more firmly billeted

in my liver, or the
endocrine system (whatever that is).

Exchanging info no doubt,
running the show,

in effect. Efficiently;
or, I gather, I’d be dead. I know:

remiss of me to have only
the foggiest.

And the other ill-defined
tribe tapping away 24/7

in my brain – they say
only a fraction
of what is cooked up
with much swirling and
head of steam
is conscious. Who else am
I not?
Seems Nebulous
is my middle name. Hazily
ill-defined (where does me
end, exactly?). Nothing
than ever-never-changing
clouds, us.

Boiling up into great
cauliflower shapes: don’t miss

the chance to spot the
dragon in the system!
Morphing to a glower of
anvil shapes
unbeknownst to sweet
ourselves (the mere Deirdres

and Jacks) – maybe for
the best.

Unstructured but solid
but, but: not in the least graspable.
An ac-cumul-ation of
Yes, I know – still
think I’m the clever one.

Angela Arnold lives in North Wales and is also an artist and a creative gardener. Her poems have appeared in print magazines, anthologies and online, in the UK and elsewhere. Her debut collection In|Between, about our ‘inner landscapes’ and relationships is out now (Stairwell Books).

From the Department of Cosmology

Further to your request for a new planet
We advise that God cannot provide replacements
When you have senselessly trashed the original –
We recommend you undertake major works
To renovate and restore your existing planet
In the hope that you can return to working order
The homeostatic mechanisms put in place
To ensure your long-term survival as a species.

If these works are completed to a good standard,
We may be willing to consider a fresh request
For environmental renewal, and our representatives
Will be in touch to discuss how best to progress
Divine intervention on a global scale.
Meanwhile, we wish you luck with your project.

Bird song

The little egret is a stylish and flamboyant bird
it has a dazzling angel’s flight
and balances on long black legs in shallow water
its feet are egg yolk yellow with great splayed toes
that balance on the gloopy estuary mud
stirring it up to flush out fish
its beak is like a dagger
which probes for prey among the eddies
as it fishes quite fastidiously.

Its snow white feathers spread like fans
gliding through space with wing-carved grace
and it is coiffed with a Mohican plume.
Its name derives from French Provence
where it is called Aigrette
and it still retains a French disdain
for other birds that challenge its domain
yet once aloft it outshines every rival
since style is the secret of survival.

Ivor Frankell is a lover of literature and language, and enjoys writing poetry and fictional prose. He has had some poems published on Wildfire Words, in various Cornish publications, and local anthologies.

It’s Still There

I look at it,
it’s still there.
Has it grown?
I don’t think so.

The next day
I look at it,
it’s still there.
Has it grown?
Yes, I think it has.

The next day
I look at it,
it’s still there.
If I’m not careful,
it’s going to be as tall as me.

The next day
I look at it,
it hasn’t moved.
Shall I do it tomorrow?
People say tomorrow never comes.

I look at it again,
it’s still there and growing.
I’m out all day tomorrow,
so, today’s the day
I have to tackle my ironing.

Annie Ellis is a member of the wildfire words team, and sponsor of prizes for our forthcoming Limerick Competition. More about Annie.


I’ve inhaled some life.
That ‘Warning: Toxic’ triangle
means I need medical advice.

I’ve ingested strife
and had to flush my system with
some Sertraline’s false paradise.

Subjugation’s rife.
SSRIs control my moods,
wounds cauterized and loose strands spliced.

A double-edged, sharp knife
that killed depression off but left
me dead inside. Next time think twice.

I’ve undressed my wife.
This makes me happier when I’ve
run out of rhymes. ‘Cos sex is nice.

Coffee-Break Material

‘Who do you think you are?’ my boss once roared,
a glib assault that rendered me inclined
to ponder what my life was all about.

Her philosophic probe left me unsure
regarding how my ‘I’ could be defined
and plunged me into existential doubt.

At coffee break, this subject was explored
within the tiny tardis of my mind
just long enough to squeeze this poo-em out.

Chris Scrivens’ work has appeared in a number of magazines over the last twelve months. While his themes tend to be of a serious nature, predominantly around mental health issues, he writes the occasional comic piece and enjoys double dactyls.

The Yellow Striped Bikini

When summer comes to Oldham, folk all come out of doors.
Maggie Coggins cleans her step and washes all her floors.
The kids play out with ropes and balls; they love a game of cricket.
The fielders stand on garden walls and the lamppost is the wicket.

Our hero Stan from thirty-two has pigeons out the back.
He whistles as he mucks them out in their tumbledown old shack.
Next door to Stan lives Mavis Duke, a lass by no means teeny.
She loves to lie out in the sun in a yellow striped bikini.

Now Stan has found that if he climbs the fence that stands between, he
can see sweet Mavis lying there in her yellow striped bikini.
But she’s not just a pretty face, she’s clocked Stan, and she’s seen he
could make her wildest dreams come true in her yellow striped bikini.

One day he’s in his pigeon loft when he hears a mighty scream, he
leaps the fence. ‘Oh Stan,’ she says. ‘Clasp’s bust on my bikini!’
The rest is legend, so they say; when they wed he scrubbed up clean. He
dressed in his best, a smart top coat.  She wore her striped bikini.

Christine Griffin lives in Gloucestershire and enjoys being part of a vibrant literary scene. She loves all forms of writing, particularly poetry and short stories. Christine is widely published both locally and nationally, including in Acumen, Snakeskin, Writing Magazine, Poetry Super Highway and Graffiti Magazine. She has performed her work at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival and the Cheltenham Literature Festival and pre-pandemic she regularly read on local radio.

Morning martyrdom

Like a spillage of ball bearings
toddlers totter randomly
around the crowded coffee shop
their mummies yummy over cakes
cappuccinos, frappacinos, babyccinos
gossiping inside a corral of pushchairs
oblivious to their offspring hazard zone
self-anointed with assumption rights
that every coffee loving customer
exists to mind their little booby trap
so a sudden trip over a darling bouncing bomb
hurtling from behind a chair
elicits screams of outrage, magnified
to a messianic chorus of maternal fright
firing blame towards the scalded customer
as every child is swept up, stroked
and swiftly wiped of chocolate and snot
then the rising and flouncing and poisonous glares
clears the place as all the babies start to yowl
their creche time over, home for lunch and naps
and blessed quietude descends, wrapping
the dripping martyr in a grateful exhalation
as coffee lovers kick back and enjoy their daily fix.

Call centre blues

Thank you for ringing the faceless firm
we really value your call.
Select from the following options
to enhance your choice of fuck all.
For hours of empty silence
please press one.
To witness the murder of a classic tune
press two.
If you’d like to hear a script
recorded somewhere far away,
by a man called ‘Call me Trevor’
three’s your number.
Record your anger by just pressing four
your feedback means the world to us
we listen in at coffee time
and call it the comedy line.
To speak to an operator, please press hash
and listen to the dialling tone.
The office closed an hour ago
we’ve all gone home.

Cos Michael wrote poetry when younger, but paused, distracted by the need to earn a living. Recently she started writing again. Her themes explore growing up and life now, from an autistic perspective. Cos is a Londoner, now living in Norwich. She has had poems published by Grindstone and Atrium.


Dorinda prefers not to have an audio

“Ee, love, what a
sad time to meet –
could have
knocked me right off me feet
when I heard
about your Stan –
such a kind,
lovely man…

He was all but in
his prime –
well, we all must
go sometime –
Ee, love, now,
don’t take on so:
here’s a clean hanky:
now bear up, you know
time will
heal … Eh, your Stan –
such a kind,
lovely man –

Ee, love, it’s
late – I must go:
Arthur’s tea
won’t make itself, you know,
lovely to see
you, though I do have to say
I could wish that
we’d met on a happier day…..”

“I wonder who that woman
was? –
I can’t be sure,
Don’t think I’ve ever seen
her before…
I only ask, because….

She never stopped talking
and only got walking
when she’d worked her way
most of th’buffet; mind you,
it’s a rum old to-do
when you can’t do a spread
for the dear, deceased,

But what’s puzzling me head:
My man was called Fred………..”

Dorinda MacDowell is a Mother, a Grandma, and a lover of life and words. She is 78 years young.

Cold Swim

I stand as an ebony-skinned seal
keen to immerse in watery heaven where sleek, streamlined swimsuits
mimic wild sea creatures, dipping and bending
as tidal ebb and flow.  Fierce, glacial waters gasp awake,
pulling hot-aired lungs tightly;
I struggle, unable, at first, to find rhythms:
my lengths are jagged, out of tune
while my body shivers,
slowly reheating
through trapped H2O layers.  By length six,
I’m a goggle-eyed fish:
as one with this watery world;
I merge amidst it,
adopting its clearer conscience -even with slightly fogged lenses,
water-kissed by winter-chlorine drops;
thoughts boldly imprint,
tumbling forth… An unspooled length of thread,
freed from its anchoring reel … Worries, stresses and demands
bleed from neoprene socks:
are purged, liquid confessions,
sinking to deep-end depths -far beyond my reach;
I let them drown
allowing freezing waters
to enshroud them
as burial blankets,
lost to a sightless priest
with numbly outstretched arms
in blissful benediction.  On the surface, I skim
like a flat stone, flung from shore
gleefully securing a comfortable pace;
no longer do I sense Siberian spikes. 

Emma Wells is a mother and English teacher. She has poetry published with various literary journals and magazines. She enjoys writing flash fiction and short stories also. Emma won Wingless Dreamer’s Bird Poetry Contest of 2022 and her short story entitled ‘Virginia Creeper’ was selected as a winning title by Write Fluence Singles Contest in 2021. Her first novel is entitled Shelley’s Sisterhood which is due to be published in May 2023.

For Whom the Bills

I’ll take you out
for tea, my dear,
and you shall
pay the bill.

And I’ll lend you
my ear, my dear,
until I’ve had
my fill.

Then you will lend me
money, dear,
to save a friend
from dying.

My company is dear,
my dear, my
well worth buying.

Money Tree

I saw the golden branches all boughed down till the lower
limbs touched twigs to ground— their bitcoins
jingling-spinning round till the snarl of
a chainsaw shook my bed and the blade of
an axe just missed my
head— and I woke up bloody

broke again.

The Prevalence of Pasties

round old Bristol town
And everything smells like pasties. At
zebra crossings, in the shops,On
the way to the ancient quay. I
smell them on the slippery slopes, And
the pubs beside the sea. I
smell them on the city bus.I
smell them on the train. I
smell them outside Sainsbury’s,On
every street and lane. On
every way in Exeter. From
a house on Northern Hay. Though
out of sight, in the alleyway,I
smell them night and day. Oh,
the smell of pasties haunts my head, No
matter where I go. And
now that I am Boston bound,
smell them at Heathrow.

Frank William Finney
is a poet from Massachusetts. His poems appear in numerous journals and magazines in print and online.  His latest chapbook, The Folding of the Wings, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2022.

What no coverage!

At Glenis’s request, audio voiced by Marilyn Timms

If there is one thing that will drive me to rage,
it’s something you hear of a lot in this age,
that mobile phone cover is good where you live,
it doesn’t drop out like an old plastic sieve.
All banks and some shops want to ring you to see
each time that your card is used on your PC.
I’ve told them and told them that just around here
the phone doesn’t work but they don’t seem to care.
They ring me and when I do not answer back
they stop my poor card as if I were a hack.
I wish they would try just for once with a letter
but that isn’t likely still now I feel better.

Glenis Moore has been writing poetry since the first Covid lockdown and does her writing at night as she suffers from severe insomnia. When she is not writing poetry she makes beaded jewellery, reads, cycles and sometimes runs 10K races slowly.

Allergic Reaction  

I should know better than to open social media
on a day like today, tainted by sleepiness and sorrow,
yet click on the Instagram icon
because someone’s responded to a post I made;
A worthy excuse,
my inner monologue pipes up.

Much to my disdain, when I log in to the app,
it does not direct me to my personal post.
“App”… the apple of my eye.
On a good day, it delivers on its promises –
crisp – headily fragrant, like the health food store in town.
On an unlucky day, I take an expectant bite,
and my mouth’s full of degrading mush fit for the compost bin.

Greeted by the recent post of an old colleague,
the sting is instant: pinprick heat.
News of their career progress, a summer holiday,
two recent publications flare up from the screen,
jabbing into my heart, swelling and spreading,
triggered by this uncontrollable comparison.
I attempt to flatten the blister of inferiority, scrolling
back to my profile, but it stubbornly
pops up with florid violence. It throbs a siren call;
demands I embrace each symptom of insecurity,
alerting me to triage the wound as it spurts histamines
in a defensive rush of faint relief.

Iona Barrie is an English Literature student, tea sommelier and poet residing in Scotland. Outside of studying, Iona’s work focuses on advocacy for neurodiverse people. They have published poetry previously, including with the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health creative arts journal, The Perch.
Instagram: @unabashedlyiona

Any Given Tongue

Here’s an example of a tongue
tagged and boxed
with all the other tongues
in various states of freshness
or trauma
or decay.
The latter you get with the really old ones:
ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, that sort of thing.
This one, for example,
recently acquired by donation
is still shiny, slightly tacky to the touch,
with a white scar on the tip
where its former owner bit down
falling off his bike when he was eleven.

We’re developing techniques
using lasers and digital rendering
to recreate the last word spoken
by any given tongue.
It’s very scientific and precision is key but
there’s a fringe notion—
more a campfire story, really—
the lab techs share over drinks.
By night, they say, when the lab is dark and still,
to catch the faint click of a tongue’s last word
all you need is a good ear but
that’s unlikely,
we keep those at a lab upstate.

Jeff Parent is a dad, some kind of poet, and a recent graduate of Concordia University’s Creative Writing MA program. Over the past decade, his poems have been published in a perfectly respectable variety of print journals, collections, and online outlets. His first chapbook, This Bygone Route, was published in 2020 by 845 Press (The/tƐmz/Review). Jeff is from Montréal. He and his family currently reside in Nova Scotia.

Reclamation of Joy

Live, laugh love has a lot to answer for.
The trite contraction of a worthwhile thought
bastardised into pastel-coloured posters
and pastel-coloured posers has become countless
feeble shrines and bought allegiance to a glorious concept
made mere capital

but, forget the cushions and contradictions
of seeking self-help outside oneself
and ponder the concept
the simple delight of the eternally new;
a joy in the subtle change or glee
in the mass absurdity of every little thing

live the changing seasons
a guaranteed reoccurrence but somehow
a surprise every year all the same
laugh like a new-born at the very existence of
love to elevate the mundane.

Throw dirt in the air. See where it lands.

John Cammish is a Literature Scholar and Tutor who writes his own poetry as the fancy takes him.


There is a Moderate Coastal Walk
from Manly to Dee Why Beach
which unfortunately puts you within reach
of the Sabre-Beaked
Devil Bastard Bombing Bird.

There is a sign that says
if This Is Not Your Idea of Fun
You Should Run
or Take An Alternative Route.

There isn’t one.

Well it’s only a mile,
so I proceeded with a merry step
and a philosopher’s smile

and it flew whang straight at my head
with a hellish scream like the Flying Dead
then it swooped like crap
with its bastard wings
going snap snap snap

and down I went
in the foliment.

Then it sat on a tree
and eyeballed me

and then

it did it again.

I fled like a cringe and sprinting chook.

Dear Bird, you are now in my Bastard Book
along with the Jellyfish, the Poisoned Berry,
the Spider, the Snake and the Cassowary,
the Mortal Leaf and the Fatal Bark,
the Crocodile and the Bastard Shark.

*Translations of 19th century European folk songs

1. from Rolovia

Springle, springle,
Come gather ‘pon the tabard
Ah green grown the gooseberries
My darling has gone to sea
Springle springle
And the extemporaneous Rose.

Springle springle
Come hornpipe on my heart
Ah his ghost is green and gory
My wimple cost me a purse
springle springle
and the dilatory daffydilly-o.

2. from Doppland

Me darlin wore a hat
Made o pinecones
Wellaway oh welladay!
She wore it so lovely when she wedded another


Me darlin wore a dress
Made o withies
Wellaway oh welladay!
She wore it so well when she bedded anotner


Me darlin wore a shroud
made o deadly nightshade
Wellaway oh welladay
She wore it so fair when she saided I am yours forever to another


John Gallas offers 2 merry folk songs translated from obscure languages (haha) – and a true-life horror-bird-walk-type-experience.

Jane Eyre

Noel prefers not to have an audio

My little girl said
she’d like
to audition
her teacher thought she had talent.
My little daughter’s
      paternal grandmother
thought it might
bring her ‘out of herself’ a bit.
My child’s mother,
       (my ex-wife) tried to say no
claimed it would interfere with her studies
and my ex-wife’s mother agreed, said it would give the
child ‘notions’.

I ignored them all
and took her sweaty hand in mine,
her little elfin face all tentative and tense,
to the rehearsal room at the back of the theatre.

She got the title role  
and all her female antecedents went
to sit on the hard seats to see “Jane – the musical”.

The grandmothers argued
as to which side of the family
the ‘talent’ came from, and I heard my
ex-mother-in-law say:
“Jane Austin would have been proud.”
I raised my eyes to heaven, smiled and shook my head a

Will you Paint me Mr Holbien?

I want my portrait painted, sir;
but as I am, really, me, just me,

no embellishments, if there’s a wart
I want the wart in the picture.
My children’s children’s children will admire this,
if they’ve any imperfections on their faces
they will see it came from me, my skin.

I would like it in my garden, Holbein,
with White Tower in the background.
Yes, I know White Tower isn’t in the view
from my house-garden but can we…. pretend it is,
I’ll pay you good money, Sir,
whatever you got from the King of England
you will get from me, in hard cash.

I can sit whenever you want me to sit,
my secretary will be in the room,
I can dictate my letters to him as we work,
you will have to close your ears, Holbein.
You don’t need your ears for painting do you, HA HA.
I love my children, don’t want them to worry
as to my look, or their look.
Will you do this for me Hans, good man yourself.

*Hans Holbein, the younger, portrait painter, 1497-1543

The Dental
Tourist Ponders the Coca Cola flavoured Milk Shake

westerner standing
the aching street
the rumble of past regimes still lingers,
his lips and stares in the window;
looks away,
off to another shop,
up a newspaper in English
returns to his first temptation.

days ago he’d made the down payment,
opened his mouth wide for the inspection
the interpreter there in the dental surgery.
he’d had the first tooth done, 
is a ‘day off’ and tomorrow
will have the 2nd one attended to
– in fact an extraction in the morning
a filling in the afternoon,
what the shit is he waiting for…
he can treat himself
the glass-full Milk Shake
costs 500 florins (less than €2 at home).

Noel King was born and lives in Tralee, Co Kerry. His poetry collections are Prophesying the Past, (Salmon, 2010), The Stern Wave (Salmon, 2013) and Sons (Salmon, 2015) and Alternative Beginnings, Early Poems (Kite Modern Poetry Series, 2022). He has edited more than fifty books of work by others (Doghouse Books, 2003-2013) and was poetry editor of Revival Literary Journal (Limerick Writers’ Centre) in 2012/13. A short story collection, The Key Signature & Other Stories was published by Liberties Press  in 2017.

The Park is Full of Waiters

Their dinner-jacketed confusion fills the space
between the planted beds and the children’s paddling lake.

We don’t know how they got here. Nor do they.
They just appeared pouring tea, proffering vol-au-vents on trays.

One tries to press a menu on a mother pushing a pram – no luck.
Another unfurls a napkin, tries to fasten it on a reluctant, squawking duck.

Gradually they understand all customers are gone. No longer under siege.
Kitchen shouts silenced, cutlery and condiments well out of reach.

They finally take positions on the slide and on the swings.
Look at those two on the roundabout, their flying apron strings,

tails and bow ties a fervent, whirling blur.
Calling in jubilant voices: “Table clear! Table clear!”

Something Changed

Mrs Harris is called out of the room
and quick as a whippet, and twice as thin,
Paul-who-breaks-pencils is over in her space.
There’s at least a dozen there and one by one
he snaps them.
Inch long pieces scatter across the desk.

So far, so normal. We’re used to this.
We know the trouble he’ll bring on himself,
Oh he can’t resist. I mean, he’s not
called Paul-who-breaks-pencils for nothing,
now is he?
That’s not the casual nickname of a one-off.

But today, once everything’s broken,
he does something different. He looks around,
waits till all of us are watching,
then slowly, deliberately, slides a piece
into his mouth.
Chomps and swallows, grins at gobsmacked silence.

Every single scrap disposed of the same.
Paul-who-eats-pencils born
in front of the class. Mrs Harris
will search every pocket and bag for evidence,
without luck.
Even the snitch-kids keep their fat mouths shut.

She keeps us in all break, but nobody cracks.
Finally dismissed, we all file out. We trail in the wake
of Paul-who-eats-pencils. No longer thinking
about childish stuff.  Eight year olds
stunned by the demo that you can get away with
anything you like.
As long as you’re willing to chew hard enough.

Kat Patty

Kat Patty, kitty cat,
strutting out in her purple hat.
On Boston Commons – green and flat –
in the depths of night. Well fancy that!

Percy Poodle, fine and dandy,
strolls along the pathways sandy
carrying a carton of top-notch candy
and a picnic rug. Now isn’t that handy?

Kat Patty, cat about town,
in her finest dancing gown
on the rug is persuaded to lie down
(without any thought for her own renown).

Percy Poodle, so eager to please,
his whispering soft, like the murmuring breeze.
For poor Kat Patty, life’s no longer a wheeze.
For those who lie down with poodles get fleas.

Penny Blackburn (she/her) lives in North East England but is originally from Yorkshire. Her poetry has been published by, among others, Atrium, Lighthouse, Dreamcatcher and Riggwelter. She is co-host of Cullerpoets poetry stanza and host of Under the Arches spoken word evening.

Suppose …

Pip prefers not to have an audio

Just supposin’
a lion I was.
I could roar and roar
and roar some more.
Wouldn’t live in-doors
no more, if
a lion I was.
I could belch and fart
and never care about
flies and heat, when
out in the grass
scratchin’ me ass.

Just supposin’
a lion I was.
I could roam and roam
with nothin’ to stop for,
except for me feet,
out in the grass
in the flippin’ heat.
I could crunch
on me lunch,
call it a brunch,
and wait for a lioness
to bring me some more.

Suppose ,,,
Just supposin’
a lion I was.
I could dream away
stretchin’ out me innards,
feet in the air,
if a lion I was.

Pip Sim enjoys writing individualistic eclectic poetry as a hobby. Published in small press magazines not for profit but to share writing and reading as a pastime.

Words in an empty room

A word enters an empty room
completely powerless it waits, that word was ‘nice’.
Eventually another crept in, it was ‘wallpaper’.
Oh nice wallpaper I see how this works.
But then ‘damp’ seeped in and began to fight with nice.
damp wallpaper became established, nice pretended
not to notice. Smell joined them.
They were a diverse but symbiotic group
till sun broke in through the window.
Sun teased damp all day long and soon wallpaper
began to flirt with sun.

Smell accused damp of being weak
and began to side with nice wallpaper.
Gradually though, sun buckled wallpaper.
Deeply offended, it began to fade in places …
Smell remained loyal to wallpaper, while nice
joined with sun. But the nice sun was unreliable,
and damp grew strong again.
Alignments changed as time passed, and time
passed unnoticed by the words.

One day the door burst open,
a female voice spoke imperiously:
‘This is a nice room darling
but I can smell damp.
It needs more sun. And
that wallpaper will have to go!

At last the words had found a voice.

Robert Marsh has the  poetry habit since early teens. Joined a poetry group called ‘Soundlines’ in 2016. Based in Kent, they have performed and published poetry as a group and individually. Due to appear on Deal radio soon.
robert burkall marsh Facebook

A mighty fountain pen momently was seized,
Ere a word was writ I’d sneezed, coughed and wheezed.
I strived for inspiration but what I wanted most,
Was a nice cup of tea and hot buttered toast.

It always looks so easy when you read what others write,
Artistic souls enrapture whilst I snore through the night.
It’s hard to write a poem – the scansion’s quite a strain,
What makes it even harder is man flu on the brain.

Then came the phone calls; but I never had PPI,
My loft is insulated and I don’t want SKY.
Bless the kindness of strangers cold – calling at my door,
Then I ran out ink when I could have written more.

A Constipated Fox
(apologies to Ted Hughes)

Whilst I muse on the throne this morn,
something else is stirring. Hark!
A parping hunter’s horn is a false dawn –
still this paper’s without a mark.
Concentrating intensely; that it will come
naturally of its own accord, is all I ask.
A movement to free this writer’s block
is a strain, but I persevere with the task –
To find a metaphor for the creative process,
(without getting too far up my own arse) Hmm!
In the forest, foxy sniffs the air – I think
he recognises the sudden, sharp stink.
Time now to fold the scribbled sheet,
the job’s not over till the paperwork’s
done, the poem typed up in neat,
Oh what a relief – the flush of success!

Robert Rayner joined Northumbrian Writers’ Group on retirement following a career in law. He has been successful in various competitions and his work has been included in online anthologies and in print.

Is There A Doctor?

Please, I want to see a doctor,
appointment’s urgent now.
I’ve tried the whizzy online form
that gets me through – like – Wow.

I’ve had my early caffeine dose,
hearing aids adjusted.
The stress of using a PC
leaves my mind combusted.

I’ve found the very page (er, screen),
followed all instructions.
It’s not yet 9am; they’re closed.
Phone caused mood destructions.

I’m such a patient patient since
I’ve waited hours before.
If I try walking/parking there
-wreck me- laid on the floor!

The form’s in use from Mon to Thurs
7 to 8am.
You have to be determined (chick)
if you wanna lay them.

I managed once – that golden hour
when they could meet my need.
The online form said ‘Staff off sick’;
whiled four more days on speed!

Self-medicating wildly – Hic!
I’ve slowed down just a little.
The hangover’s a greater need
than golden hours so fickle.

More Wet Wipes Please

The nursing job is not a happy one,
no matter what the age or stage of life.
There’s bodily emissions when all’s done;
all visitors are relative. Midwife!

No matter what the age or stage of life,
they never mop up this end/that end. True,
all visitors are relative. Midwife,
find wet wipes, cardboard bedpan. Cleaners few

they never mop up this end, that end, true
the doctor’s paid for excellence and knowledge.
Find wet wipes, cardboard bedpan, cleaners few,
certificate/degree/and fresh from college.

The doctors paid for excellence and knowledge;
dementia-cures, incontinence and hoists?
Certificate, degree, and fresh from college…
they may not find the lotions nor the moists.

Dementia-cures, incontinence and hoists,
is it a Black Alert in A&E?
They may not find the lotions nor the moists,
do trolley staff know morgue routes (misnamed pretty)?

Is it a Black Alert in A&E?
There’s bodily emissions, when all’s done…
Do trolley staff know morgue routes (renamed pretty),
the nursing job is not a happy one.

Wendy Webb loves nature (sky/sea/earth/fire/wood/stone), wildlife (birds/butterflies), symmetry and form (poetry/photography/Elly Griffiths novels/gardening), and the creative spark. Published in Reach, Sarasvati, Quantum Leap, Crystal; recently in Littoral, Lothlorien, Autumn Voices, Wildfire Words. LANDSCAPES (with David Norris-Kay) on Amazon. Forthcoming: Dreich, Leicester Literary Journal, Seventh Quarry, The Frogmore Papers.
Love’s Floreloquence: Webb, Wendy Ann, Meek, CT, Meek, CT, Webb, Wendy Ann: 9798372967595: Books

Tea for Two

Everything was always so dark, the wall paper, the dresser,
the lights in dusk mode – way past dusk. It was not really
a match to your mood, but your giving seemed never tired,
though I did see you fall out with the neighbours over a strange
cake dispute, completely mysterious to me. We drank tea at
any moment of the day, a whole pot or a single quickie, which
always made you chuckle. And me later, when I was past 16.

And so, mornings looked always more fitting to us, once your
son, my uncle William, was out with his car, blinds and curtains
wide open, your cigarette by the balcony door, my strawberries
thick with cream. Radio 2 up to 11, high quality broadcasting,
with Danish accents, guess the track or not, and you, so visibly,
enjoying yourself, just us, worries down, the chipped saucers
and cups spread out on your laced up table.

Thus, surely I took your tea set, a supply of leaves, while your son,
uncle Robert, carried paintings to his car, while I wrapped up
childhood, adolescence, and all later years, all bags and boxes,
and I know we have got same hands, some same senses, keep
flowers on tables, the radio out loud. I drink tea at any time, though
not just with anyone, with milk when abroad. Ta, nan. And I did find
the money you hid in your nightgowns alright.

Emma was just getting ready for Tigger’s birthday party,
changing back into her sunny Summer dress, her grey paws
wiggling into sunnier sandals, when she dropped her brooch,
a sheeny-gleamy fox, and it quickly slid under the cupboard.
As she dove right after it, down on her round belly, she found
a whole world underneath – apart from the obvious lemon cake
crumbs and some dried apricots – there it all was: a hair clip 
she thought to have lost in the park, the anklette she figured
plunged down the pool, and in the corner some Yorkshire tea
leaves, in her aunt’s jug, the one with the Indian trees, its shade
hosting next-door’s mouse family, who had put out their garden
table too. Sudden silence, as they were all just simply staring
back at her, for which she briefly considered to join for short
bread, for garden parties are most inviting, like mama mouse’s
open arms, but then she just brushed off the dust and asked for
a rain check, since mice should drink tea among themselves,
without elephant-beings interfering.

How to eat the Sunday

                Well, said my father, you got to get outta bed
                early on Sunday, ‘cos it’s time for breakfast and
                breakfast’s important. We’ve made you eggs, as
                eggs boil way easy.

That’s 1: how to eat a sunny egg.

                Well, said my mum, you got to get into the kitchen
                early on Sunday, ‘cos it’s time to learn cake, as
                baking’s important. We’ll guard the oven, for
                being ovened is way easy.

And that’s 2: bakes away.

                Well, said my gran, while you are in the kitchen,
                I am gonna teach you soup even when you just
                want books, but soup is Sunday and this is
                just how we do it.

Makes 3: how to snoop soup.

                Well, they all said, while you’re at it, do set
                the table and fold the serviettes swan-shape,
                ‘cos it’s Sunday and sports start soon. And
                we’ll tell you it is chicken, for you have to
                learn to eat all, everything and more, ‘cos
                otherwise your friends might make fun.

Number 4, my friends: how to pretend, on a Sunday.

Kate Copeland’s love for words led her to teaching & translating; her love for art & water to poetry. Find her poems at Ekphrastic Review, Poets’ Choice, Wildfire Words, Metaworker, New Feathers, Erbacce [a.o]. Kate is a happy festival volunteer and started workshops at IWWG. She was born at Harbour City and adores housesitting anywhere in the world.


Why did you come here dear boy?
Who sent you?

Never mind
I already know

Take these sunflower seeds

They’re not giant ones
from your Motherland

They’re smaller ones
from my Motherland

Put them in your pocket

My children are here too
and my grandchildren
I do hope you meet them
one day

When I find your body
and I’m sure I will
I can reach in to your uniform
and take back my seeds

To plant them on your grave
so our sunflowers can grow    again

        we will always have seeds
        to hand to the next visitor
        so we can live forever

John Warford is an unpublished poet with a small collection of poems. At most, he writes, he has taken a couple of local poetry workshops.

Hole punch

Listen, clickcrunch, I don’t  punch above my weight.
I’m nothing special, me, a decent straight-up-and-down
kind of gadget. I’m a plug-free zone, batteries
not included, not needed; I don’t pretend to be
an oil painting or the glamorous one in Viking.
You won’t drool over my lines; I have no vavavoom,

no drama of the guillotine, no intricate meshing
of the machine that binds. I’m not a one-off, not first
of my kind. I just do what it said on my box; I have
no airs above my station in that stationery cupboard.
I don’t relieve stress…am not a well-strung executive toy
for strung-out achievers; you don’t need instructions

or help file for me; idiotproof, user-friendly – take me,
use me as you find me; don’t brag to me of Conran
or Alessi; don’t look for me in a museum of modern design;
my value won’t appreciate. There’d be no point in laying
down a case of me, like a fine wine. Yet, there is a sure
percussive bite to my cut, a tight precision to my

clickcrunch action….parchment, watermarked, used, laid –
Swoon! Watch me carve circles in your smooth,
recumbent rectangles.


We’re talking about men, the male body,
the young, smooth, chiselled sort, lithe
and muscular, everything in its place
but not too much of it, neither oiled
nor pumped up. Nor orange. I’m thinking
of the Wife of Bath, her appreciation
of a youth’s legs, her open fondness
for male flesh. And you’re telling me
about your guest, B&B, who wanted the code
for the WiFi, and duly, like a good hostess,
you procured it and tapped at his door.

Finally, your reward came. A vision,
towel wrapped around his damp, taut, belly,
answered, thawed you with a smile, and you say
how, for a moment, you forgot your mission,
forgot that it’s rude to stare, stood there, mute
on the threshold, thunderstruck, awed.

On hold

The message warns of a ten minute wait, possibly more.
It’s been forty five minutes now, on speakerphone,
so the room too can benefit from what you endure,
in the cause of getting on with other stuff, while waiting.

From time to time a jaunty voice suggests you try
the website. Does she think you haven’t tried already?
She is trying to distract us, divert us from this misery
by playing ‘Greatest Day’ every two or three minutes,

and not confessing where we are in the queue, whether
we’ve progressed, whether there is, in truth, anyone
there. Gary Barlow belts out his prediction that this
might be, could be the greatest day of our lives.

The recording crackles; sound quality impaired. Only
the jaunty voice stays clear. Through pain, through tedium,
we are left just with awareness of time passing,
some joy in irony.

Simone Mansell Broome is rediscovering poetry after a hiatus of a few years. Her mojo is back! As well as poetry, Simone writes children’s fiction and short memoir. She lives in West Wales.

Brett the Braveheart

The heart of a lion beats in his chest
As Brett the Braveheart embarks on his quest

To boldly go where no other man dare
To tame the heart of a maiden fair

To his feelings of love he boldly gives voice
He says, “Birgit the Bonnie’s my maiden of choice.”

“I will take on this task, my future I’ll chart
I’ll live up to my name – it’s Brett the Braveheart.”

So he went forth, this daunting task to fulfil
Descending each dale and ascending each hill.

Till at last the time came, as day turned to night
They asked, “Are you done,” and he said, “No, not quite.”

I’ll marry this maiden, Birgit the Bonnie
And I’ll sing her a song, “Hey, nonnie nonnie.”  

Thus goes the legend of Brett the Braveheart
Of Birgit the Bonnie, and Cupid’s wee dart.

Tony Milner started as a commercial writer for a radio station. Now, he writes poetry, novels and short stories.
Tony’s poems have been published in compilations and displayed in a museum as part of a commemoration of the World Wars. More importantly, his sisters receive poems every birthday.

The Poet Contemplates His Driving Test

 At the written test
 he stares for an hour at the roadsigns.
 Draws no inspiration,
 mentally shelves the next blog prompt.

 Asked to read the number plate
 he delivers perfectly.
 Upwards intonation, followed by down.
 Then he’s reminded
 he was meant to read the registration
 not the charity bumper sticker.

Mirror, signal, manoevre.
The set pieces remind him of poetry.
 Reverses, three-point turns ,
 tight metre, little margin for error.
The Slam of a rolled up newspaper
 on the dashboard
 as if a cat had ran into the road.

 The examiner is quiet, appreciative,
 showing his approval
 with perspiration and sharp footstamps
 towards those odd pedals at his feet.

 On the eve of his ninth attempt
 the poet contemplates many things.
 But not success

Pluto’s Complaint

Dear Sirs,

In 1930 I trended.
The toast of planetary parties,
inspiring film moguls, nuclear scientists.
The cool one at the edge of the galaxy.

So imagine my disappointment
when I picked up details
of this misjudged downgrade.
You could at least have contacted me directly,
instead of inscribing the side of that stupid electric car.

So apparently there are three tests for planetary status;
I should orbit the sun.
I orbit the sun.
You describe my orbit as moderately eccentric,
which apparently doesn’t mean I trace my gradual arc
while dressed as a viking in carpet slippers,
more that it’s not a perfect circle.
Well excuse me for dropping a degree or two over 248 years.

I should be rounded by my own gravity.
I am, but is that really a good thing ?
Take a look at your home world leaders for example.

And I should have cleared the neighbourhood around my orbit.
Well that’s a lot of asteroids to sort into the right recycling bin every fortnight.
And as you’ve named my nearest neighbours after Greek gods of anarchy and misrule
I think it’s unfair I should shoulder all of the blame.

So there you have it, I feel cast out from a family of fellow travellers,
like I’m stalking the solar system.
Is it a hostile environment policy ?
You want a hostile environment ?
Set up a base at my place.

And I don’t need sympathy whenever the Planet Suite is celebrated;
Mercury – the winged messenger
Jupiter- the bringer of joy
Pluto- Mickey Mouse’s dog
Frankly, I’m better off out of it


In August 2006 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) downgraded the status of Pluto so it was no longer classified as a planet. 

The Beard Wonders

Why am I here?
To strengthen his conciliatory jaw?
Parental Surprise as a gap year ends?
Or to help him resemble Kenny Rogers ?

Or am I an accident?
A flickering striplight,
a blunted blade,
and a hungover dash in the morning?

How long will I grow?
A tentative tundra of stubble,
trimmed and trapped by indoor topiary?
Or a luxurious growth,
filled with Ginsters crumbs and dead insects?

And why will I end?
The first speck of fibreglass in magnetised iron?
An ‘are you sure?’ from his girlfriend?
Or tears from his three year old niece?

So am I a philosopher,
or just part of one?

Chris Hemingway is a poet, songwriter and prose writer from Gloucestershire.  His latest pamphlet paperfolders (Indigo Dreams) was published in 2021, and his debut ‘Party in the Diaryhouse (Picaroon Poetry) in 2018.  

The Wind-lass

My grandma has a rectum of reverberating steel
that echoes like a tuba every time she has a meal
the wind fired from her bottom blows from breeze right up to gale
and we’ve all learnt to measure it on the Admiral Beaufart Scale.

Force 0 is calm and silent, the living-room at rest
the mangy one-eared tom-cat dribbling rat blood on her chest
she’s doped on Alka-Seltzers, at rest her windy tum
and dormant the volcano of her old bionic bum.

Force 2 is soft as a butterfly’s cough or a baby wren’s first sigh
but catch one whiff and your limbs go stiff, your stomach rises high
it creeps around like mustard gas, clings damply to your knees
and smells of death and cabbage breath and prehistoric cheese.

Force 4 stirs the fur on the tom-cat’s back and sounds like a vicar’s cough
and politer guests are not that sure she actually has blown off
’til they see her skirts like kestrel wings fluttering round the chair
and the way the mangy tom-cat sticks four legs up in the air.

Force 6 is loud and lusty leaves her bloomers with a roar
like a fat Italian tenor shut his willy in the door
it’s the one she saves for dinner-time and make-believes it’s dad
and pats him gently on the head, “Better out than in, my lad!”

Force 8 is Apollo lift-off – you can see her buttocks shake
as they rumble full of pea-nuts and make the floor boards quake
it’s been known to hold her hovering 30 seconds in the air
and blast a smelly crater through the cushion in the chair.

Force 10 makes pit-bulls shudder, bum-hole hurricane’s released
and the numbers round the table are dramatically decreased
some blown out the window, some impaled upon the door
and some who breathed in by mistake, expired upon the floor.

Force 12 is like an air-force jet inside the living-room
rebounding off the rafters comes the raspberry sonic-boom
it’s the fight between the spicy beans and curry that’s to blame
and the scorch-marks on the curtains prove – my grandma she farts flame!

Decomposition menu

As it’s my body that’s decomposing I would like it to be on my terms
not just coldly assigned to anonymous ashes or dumped on ambiguous worms;
there are a lot more deserving diners who know what survival’s about
so here’s my decomposition menu, so no-one important’s left out!

My eyes to be fed to a sparrow-hawk, to be thrown to it in the air
I want to become part of that steely focus, that fierce and unblinking stare;
my tongue, please offer king cobra – just a short, sweet aperitif
for as a user of forked-tongue sat-nav, king cobra is clearly the chief!

Let my brain be an octopus play-thing I am sure it can function with ten
it would be nice to have some company, to feel like I’m born again;
my heart a treat for a lammergeier my new beat, the beat of its wings
for it’s always on top of the mountains where my heart comes alive and sings!

Put my fingers in a hole in the garden, plant a bramble as last legacy
then when you hear murmurs of blackberries ripe, come rejoice, rejuice in memory of me;
when the flesh is unmeshed and the bits picked clean, gather my rib-cage bones
lay them in order, and with clavicles as beaters, play me like a xylophone!

Like in all good restaurants nothing is wasted, try the ’eucharist of the day’
the appendix, the larynx, the ceacum, the navel (well-seasoned) coming your way;
when all is recycled, repurposed, reprogrammed, reduced to its net worth
there will but remain some fading memories and a tall tale of planet earth!


So you are seriously telling me that one day I will fly,
take this swollen green sausage up into the sky!
Maybe you haven’t noticed one or two little things,
like I can hardly waddle and I’ve got no gobbing wings!
You think I will soar, will hover, will loop-the-loop –
just let me eat my fill of chlorophyl, and poop!

You say I must stop thinking where I pooped and what I ate
and up-level my focus, from ‘poop’ to ‘pupate’?
Well the pupa is death for caterpillars we all know that,
I’ll stick to wriggling my bum and getting ferociously fat.
Why don’t I take it seriously? Well tell me who’s come back
from the other side of pupa with a tattoo of the zodiac?

So you say it is called a ‘butterfly’ (this thing I’m clearly not)
that ‘blueprints for the wing design’ them I’ve already got!
Hang upside down in a bag?! What’s that going to solve?
And turn into a clever soup as my body starts to dissolve!
I’ve got food, I’ve got a stomach, so why, O why, O why,
would I mess my mind with flying in the sky when I die?

My D.N.A. is programmed! Well, there’s nothing I can do
though you sound so very confident have you really got a clue?
Say that again slowly? ‘What the caterpillar fears is a tomb,
The butterfly knows for sure, is nothing more than a womb.’
Well it’s catchy I’ll give you that, doesn’t mean it’s true,
so once round the apex of this leaf, I’ll leave you a lovely poo.

What’s that you said! I could be called Monarch or Duke of Burgundy,
Adonis Blue or Swallowtail or Pearl-bordered Fritillary!
Why did you waste your time with clever stuff, PUT ME ON THE LIST!
If I can have a lovely name, I’m a Born-Again Butterflyist!
The facts of all that science stuff gets my head in a whirl,
but I can feel the thrill of being ‘Forest Mother of Pearl!’

Dauda Zai is a troubadour gardener living in the French Pyrenees. He spent 25 years teaching musical expression in primary schools in Devon, re-writing with the kids many of our traditional songs. Now he writes poems, mostly on death (it is coming) and plays the accordion to patient blackbirds and jays.

Walking the Dog

I’m a lapsed member of
the Unregistered Fellowship of Dog-Walkers.
It’s a Friendly Society; it has to be.
The dogs call the odds, set the tone,
eyeing each other expectantly, warily,
ready to hurtle away on a chasing game
or strut, stiff-legged, in mutual intimidation.
Such behaviours are hard to ignore.

Though some dogs pass each other by
with a studied indifference, that too
attracts hapless human comment.
“What a beauty!” –
compliments are paid to dogs
that would never be addressed to their owners.
Masters and mistresses find themselves drawn
into talk, like parents with children,
in which macho posturing may give way
to a sharing of the pit bull’s problems
that are perhaps
not only the pit bull’s problems.

Sometimes, like a gaggle of pensioners,
reinforcing the casual commonalities
of everyday exchanges – canine ailments,
aging, moods and foibles – we replicate
the whiffling and tail-signalling,
though never the bottom-sniffing
of our charges. And the dog is always
as much a reason to walk away
as to stay.

Benefits of membership include:
the way women return my “Good morning!”
even exchanging a few words,
instead of averting their eyes,
quickening their pace,
past me, dogless;
and the imperative to go out,
rain or shine, there is no choice;
no dog will settle for a maybe.

And so, we get to know
places others rarely go
and how the world wags
from day to day, season to season,
from snapping at butterflies
to the chasing of squirrels
or falling leaves, perhaps
setting our prints into the snow
alongside those of others now departed.

Dave Wynne-Jones left teaching for health reasons, gaining an MA in creative writing at MMU, then writing articles for outdoor magazines and organising expeditions for time-poor mountaineers. He’s published two mountaineering non-fiction books and two poetry collections, whilst his poetry has also been anthologised and appeared in magazines.

Hole punch

Listen, clickcrunch, I don’t  punch above my weight.
I’m nothing special, me, a decent straight-up-and-down
kind of gadget. I’m a plug-free zone, batteries
not included, not needed; I don’t pretend to be
an oil painting or the glamorous one in Viking.
You won’t drool over my lines; I have no vavavoom,

no drama of the guillotine, no intricate meshing
of the machine that binds. I’m not a one-off, not first
of my kind. I just do what it said on my box; I have
no airs above my station in that stationery cupboard.
I don’t relieve stress…am not a well-strung executive toy
for strung-out achievers; you don’t need instructions

or help file for me; idiotproof, user-friendly – take me,
use me as you find me; don’t brag to me of Conran
or Alessi; don’t look for me in a museum of modern design;
my value won’t appreciate. There’d be no point in laying
down a case of me, like a fine wine. Yet, there is a sure
percussive bite to my cut, a tight precision to my

clickcrunch action….parchment, watermarked, used, laid –
Swoon! Watch me carve circles in your smooth,
recumbent rectangles.


We’re talking about men, the male body,
the young, smooth, chiselled sort, lithe
and muscular, everything in its place
but not too much of it, neither oiled
nor pumped up. Nor orange. I’m thinking
of the Wife of Bath, her appreciation
of a youth’s legs, her open fondness
for male flesh. And you’re telling me
about your guest, B&B, who wanted the code
for the WiFi, and duly, like a good hostess,
you procured it and tapped at his door.

Finally, your reward came. A vision,
towel wrapped around his damp, taut, belly,
answered, thawed you with a smile, and you say
how, for a moment, you forgot your mission,
forgot that it’s rude to stare, stood there, mute
on the threshold, thunderstruck, awed.

On hold

The message warns of a ten minute wait, possibly more.
It’s been forty five minutes now, on speakerphone,
so the room too can benefit from what you endure,
in the cause of getting on with other stuff, while waiting.

From time to time a jaunty voice suggests you try
the website. Does she think you haven’t tried already?
She is trying to distract us, divert us from this misery
by playing ‘Greatest Day’ every two or three minutes,

and not confessing where we are in the queue, whether
we’ve progressed, whether there is, in truth, anyone
there. Gary Barlow belts out his prediction that this
might be, could be the greatest day of our lives.

The recording crackles; sound quality impaired. Only
the jaunty voice stays clear. Through pain, through tedium,
we are left just with awareness of time passing,
some joy in irony.

Simone Mansell Broome is rediscovering poetry after a hiatus of a few years. Her mojo is back! As well as poetry, Simone writes children’s fiction and short memoir. She lives in West Wales.

The Bishopsgate Bomb

They used to say The City never stops,
but I know better. I’ve seen the scars.
I’ve walked past alleyways that bore
the brunt of iron fists that hammered home
a message, which one I quite forget.
I’ve heard the roar of hate, suitably anonymised.
I’ve seen the slam of fire on stone so
loud that any message was drowned
by the sound of falling glass and masonry.
And even then, The City did not stop.

It staggered a bit, perhaps, faltered in the murk,
And, on Monday morning all were back at work.

So even in the dead zone of the blast radius,
even in the maelstrom of broken glass,
files were filled and documents recomposed
alongside the sweeping up of glass into skips
and boarding up of windows.
Life went on, a little further up the road,
and the blast passed into folk memory
(do you remember when…?)
Boarded windows stared across the street.
I walked past every day and nothing changed.
Nothing changed. I know. I saw.

We were moved to brand new offices, after the bomb.
We went and raised a glass to the crater, one year on.

Pinning the Tail

Where shall we pin the tail of this tale?
To the sharp, blunt hammerblow of pain? The slow
crumpling of knees and a concrete altar
rushing up to meet my face?

To the solemn procession down darkened
corridors, the priests in their regalia

Edward Alport is a retired teacher and proud Essex Boy. He has had poetry published in a variety of webzines and magazines. He sometimes posts snarky micropoems on Twitter as

I could measure out my life in haircuts

In the mirror the barber smirked
and my father raised his eyebrows,
when I made my request:
“One like Cliff Richard’s please”.
(In my defence I was eight at the time).
“So, a short back and sides, then, sir?”
Paternal assent and relief.

The barber in our next village was also the cobbler.
I still believe the tools that cut my hair
as I sat under the polish-stained sheet
tore hobnails out of boots.

My mother bought hair-clippers from a catalogue
to save money and deter my wish
to conform to teenage non-conformity.
You could say she learned on the job.

Now every time I take the chair
and the face in the mirror asks:
“how would you like it today?”
I’m left with this, always and only this:
“Oh, just off the ears and the collar please”,
and settle down to notice
how grey the pile is
on the floor today,
while Cliff smooths his way
through “Summer Holiday”.

David Birch taught English in London and Oxford before becoming a headteacher in East Devon, where he now lives and which features strongly in his writing. He is interested in the interaction of the human and natural worlds for good and ill, both in history and the present day.


I’m in the shower and what do I see
A much larger version of the former me
Where the flesh was firm it’s now flabby and loose
And my stomach approaches my knees.
My skin is scaly, wrinkled and dry
Multiple chins have appeared.
Brown spots emerge daily like splashes of paint
On my hands and my arms they’ve crept on to my face.

My bum’s still intact, my legs still in shape
But no longer flaunted with gay abandon
They’re kept firmly in place and covered in black
Mourning my youth long gone.
Don’t look in the mirror so Shirley advises
And V necks are always the best
Draws attention from neck, but not too low
Where the cleavage is crepey and now shouldn’t show.

On top of all this there’s the aches and the pains
To be conquered no matter what
My brain tells my body to jump to attention
But eff off I says, who gives a jot.

 So I’ll give in gracefully and reach for a pill
There’s people to meet, your voice doesn’t ache
Take the bull by the horns, ride the bus, drive your car
Buy a bike if you must but please, don’t be a bore.

The Pink Lady

When I was in my 30’s
Buying meat for my little lot
She was in her 70’s
Buying what, I know not.

Now I’m in my 70’s
All dressed up and feeling young
I think of her with her yellow wig
Pink cheeks, pink hat and a pink smile for everyone.

The butcher, always full of smut
Would tell us tales, made up or not
Of bras and knickers hanging on her line,
He couldn’t half shoot a line.

But now I know just how she felt
Still young and over 80
I hope my bras and knickers
Are like hers when I’m pushing 90.

Sylvia Sellers, twenty five  years retired, is inspired, sometimes compelled, to write poems about anything that stirs emotion. That goes right down to her search for the perfect fish and chips, where the fish is so fresh it falls off the fork, which isn’t easy.

Imaginary cocktails

Poetic Angst
Take 3 parts Wonder, 1 part Anger.
Fill into a tumbler full of frozen words.
Serve with a cocktail stirrer and a revolver.

Hissy Fit
1 part Remorse, 2 parts Cruelty, 1 part Love and the juice of a small dilemma.
Shake vigorously.
Swirl in a dash of Paradox.
Serve over ice in lead crystal glasses.

Drama Queen
2 parts Pomposity, 1 part Alarm, 3 parts crushed Naivety.
Nearly spill it.
Stir it for far too long.
Serve with a slice of dragon fruit and a cocktail umbrella.

Dicky Ticker
Take 1 part Impatience, 1 part Inadequacy, 2 parts Frustration.
Squeeze in the juice of a ripe debacle. (Save the zest for later.)
Shake petulantly.
Serve in iced glasses dipped in the zest of the debacle.

Take 1 part Triumph, 2 parts Smugness, Hypocrisy to taste.
Add a twist of Pity.
Swirl exactly once.
Serve in square glasses over heart-shaped ice cubes.

Talking Plank
1 part rubicund Enthusiasm, 1 part pearl white Nostalgia, 1 part sapphire blue Bonhomie (warmed).
Pour carefully into a tall glass to form three separate layers.
Now float a dollop of whipped Bigotry on top and sprinkle with hundreds and thousands.
Serve with a sundae spoon.

Bitter Lovie
You might as well take one part Melancholy because your kind always do, three parts Aggression and a splash of Braggadocio.
Stir it, go on, you’re going to anyway.
Oh chuck in a glacé cherry on a cocktail stick, if you must.
Serve it in jam jars, for all I care.

Stephen Moran is a Dubliner in London. He published a volume of poetry Day of the Flying Leaves in 2021. He has also edited or co-edited several anthologies of fiction and of poetry. His blog Stephen Moran’s Museum of Illusions, begun in 2003, continues to the present date.

The Poetry Gods

The poetry gods have been good to me
though they came late to the party
trucked in swamp rhythm and crusted couplets,
spilled a keg of onomatopoeia, used bad words
to wipe it all up.

I’ve tried to be grateful as I
juggle the phrases they throw—
those I miss, falling and breaking
like Greek pottery at a wedding
crash-bang-splash what-a-bash!
And the ouzo still flows like hip hop
from bunnies, beat-box from mummies,
and Blasmusik from Austrian cows
wearing sunglasses.

Yo, the poetry gods have been good
to me, lashing my pages with
salsa, molé and—arriba,
 I dash trying to catch
the nachos and frijoles that squirm
dance over questions of form—
refusing sonnets in bonnets and
haikus—forget you—they prefer beer—
not Heineken—and polka—not waltz.
What can I say to thank these rock-a-billy
fusion punk hillbillies?

Because the poetry gods have been good
to me.  Yours named Byron and Keats,
mine—fat bacon and treats,
but I like the Do-si-dosand hop-
a-scotch these elephant-eared
saucy chops drop from my pen
because I’m a little saucy myself.

In Praise of Cacophony

Can carrot cavaliers collude, cavorting cantankerously, cantering carelessly, cackling craven cries called cancan cabal?  Carrots cannot!  Can carrot capitalists calculate kangaroo-case conjugations counterfeiting calories?  Carrots cannot!  Can carrot communists convert Calvinists claiming calumny-caked catastrophe?  Carrots cannot!  Can carrot colonists critique Cuba-cubed cash-cocooned club careers?  Carrots cannot!  Can carrots convene Chaos-Cares-Crematoriums carving compassion-curved-comets.  Carrots cannot!

But remember, carrots can end up canned.

Laura Grevel is a performance poet, fiction writer and blogger. Originally from the USA, she lives in Europe. Her work tackles the immigrant experience, storytelling, nature, politics and even grackle squawks. Her readings can be heard on international poetry Zooms, and her YouTube channel.

Fame Is A Fickle Fish

​There are only so many Peter Kay videos you can put out
he grunts, as he lifts two huge crates
of donated Peter Kay DVD’s from the charity shop.
Makes you wonder doesn’t it?
Did everyone once own a Peter Kay video?
Fame is a fickle fish, comedy non-committal,
everything changes so fast, the suffering of change
Buddhists call it — we call it capitalist culture.
Videos once 25 pounds each or more
now 5 pence DVD’s purchased by Music Magpie
profit and loss, the bottom line.
Even Refresher Chew Bars and Drumstick Chew Bar Bubble-gum are 10 pence:
two Peter Kay DVD’s for a sweet drumstick.
DVD’s are dying
like Betamax and Video before them
every dog film will have its day.

Downloads and streaming till it all fades like lilting brooks
our throw-away culture flips and burns itself:
records become tapes become CD’s become endless electronic streams.
Albums become relics from the past
no space or time to listen or enjoy.
Artists no longer have years to develop and become stars.
Music Magpie won’t take all the DVD’s of course –
CD’s are still more profitable. And records – wow records
worth a fortune!
Discarded CD’s and DVD’s are sent to artists to recycle
into mirrors, coasters and memories:
the jigsaw puzzle of life, right there,
the final destination
the artist as the beginning and the end
full stop and question mark.
Because in the end, all good DVD’s go to artist heaven.

Peter Devonald is a Poet/ screenwriter, winner FofHCS, Waltham Forest Poets and Heart Of Heatons. Poet in residence Haus-a-rest, 100+ poems published including London Grip, Artists Responding To…, Forget-Me-Not Press, Unconventional Courier, Poetic Map of Reading and 7 galleries. 50+ film awards, former senior judge/ mentor Peter Ustinov Awards (iemmys) and Children’s Bafta nominated.































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