PROOF PAGE FOR AUDIO REVIEW
Poets selected for publication are:
Andy Eycott, Bridgette James, Dave Wynne-Jones, David Crann, Edith Oaken, Eleanor Punter, Frank McMahon, Gerald Seniuk, Glenn Barker, Giles Constable, Gwyn Thomas, Jonathan Chibuike Ukah, Kate Copeland, Larry Winger, Lisa Lopresti, Marie Papier, Michael Parsons, Minoru Soma, Nicola Oughton, Nicky Whitfield, Patrick B. Osada, Peter Devonald, Tambi Maple, Wendy Webb
indicates one audio of a poem read by the poet.
Lisa Lopresti is a working- class poet from the statue-toppling City of Bristol, regularly broadcast on local BBC Radio. She has poems published in Ink, Sweat & Tears and Acumen who described her slim-line pamphlet ‘Birdsong and Nectar in the Silences’ as ‘most enjoyable and slightly uproarious’.
his beloved image
shot in the forehead
to grate resolve
and clear intentions
a vigil of
not to repair
a future healing
powerlines are frayed
like cat- of- nines
on the battle- torn ground
but rivers still flow
to the blue sea
*Bust of Taras Shevchenka, National Bard of Ukraine, poet and artist, champion of people’s freedom, in a park in Borodyanka, was purposely shot by Russian invading forces. The artist Yaroslave Halubchik bandaged the injury for healing, as it is important to preserve, whilst awaiting repair.
Northwest of Kyiv
the video image is from a smartphone
of someone riding shotgun
travelling northwest of Kyiv
gravelly tyre sounds pebble the pictures
of flattened tanks, devasted buildings
and partially burnt-out cars with ‘children’
painted on the doors
everything abandoned in the silence of
the travellers through this landscape
a hollowed place
The Circle at Borodyanka
Panel block flats of battleship grey
impassive window mirrors
of those still able to reflect
on the trauma of war.
These apartments are bisected by a circle of explosive light
a helicopter blue sky revealed, with soft white cotton clouds
so luminous in their raindrop disguise of the possibility
of clear skies without inclement weather
or strife of missile hits to stricken citizens.
The dusk settles on the tumbled rubble
from the projectile hole in their everyday lives
the world is left with this image of how quick violence
can strike and wipe out life in peoples’ own homes –
just like ours.
Edith Oaken enjoys wild swimming, martial arts and mucking about on the allotment. She is currently working on her first poetry pamphlet and was published in Myth and Lore Zine in 2022.
Just one phone call
You tore me
Clean in half
Trampled what was left
Into the earthy dirt
Eyes forced open, churchyard bells
Has it really been a year?
I think some time
Must have passed
Never needed a
Light at night before
The clocks go on
Their ticking score
I’ll admit it
I’m afraid to look
When you are there
Scared I don’t know
You any more
Minoru Soma has been teaching English at public high school in Japan since 2020. At the age of 20, Minoru started to write poetry in English, inspired by American folk or rock songs.
How old is this dang flame?
Flaring in my mind still capturing the TV scenes.
Keeping my fury fueled, boiling all the tears of the refugees.
They have already been evaporated, they have already been evaporated.
How old is this soldier?
He is still young and yet has to throw himself there
Into the crazy flames eating fleshy bodies, rolling their greedy tongue.
He will die without solving a riddle of love, a puzzle of love.
How old is my flashback
Infected, inherited by all my ancestry, loaded on my back.
I suffer from my one-year flashback, in this chaotic trance
In this devastating distance.
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.
May the tanks always misfire and bombs hit plain ground.
May supplies not arrive and only deserters be found.
May mercenaries perish back home, far too young.
May all drones be shot down, or crash out sea-flung.
A soldier’s prayer.
May family find comforts of home, far away.
May Education help, and no letters delay.
May sunflowers always find reasons to bloom.
May seed heads, hung down, root/shoot/sprout, reattune.
A soldier’s prayer.
May our buried be dead and our dead raised to glory,
May our children’s own children retell our story.
Anniversary Rungs of the Ladder
One pottery plate, first school,
bright and homely.
A solid oak coffee table: playhouse,
covered in a throw.
Photos in frames, of nursery,
of first day at school.
The double futon sofa in the other room,
venue of present-opening, New Year parties.
One mug stating ‘Birthday Boy’
handed in to charity.
Chest of drawers, recycled.
first cutlery set, for chubby little hands.
Top Man trousers, teeshirts, trainers,
before the demise of, you know…
Tealight holder from wild Dartmoor,
bought on returning to storm-clouds, rainbows.
One framed certificate of a distant star,
containing feather-white remains of bird-flight.
It’s not much to remainder 19 years,
nor to remember the gaping hole of 19-90.
A host of golden daffodils in Spring;
a mother’s gaping heart – Grimes Graves –
and a ladder.
Bridgette James was a Metropolitan Police Special Constable. Her work has also appeared in the Fib Review, Gutter and Wildfire Words. Her Poem “African Mimos” was longlisted for the 2022 Aurora National Prize for Writing. Two poems will be featured in Dreich. She has appeared in various Sierra Leonean anthologies.
Dnipro High Rise
A blue-eyed child leaning
on the redbrick –
our eyes interlock
on the TV screen
entice me into the sombre back alleys
of war’s dungeons in my mind
in dilated pupils
undisguised fear greets my gaze-
headline news about usurpation’s savagery
luring me on with
terrifying tales of rotting corpses-
paving roads in her Dnipro neighbourhood
fragmented body parts of playmates-
on tarmac dripping with blood-
from human rubble
in her gloomy, solemn stare
darkness engulfs a starving city-
on autocue – in buried memories
sirens fluttering away
with her wet lashes
I heard in Ukrainian- anguish
translated into my mother tongue
silently. A universal sign language-
the phonetics of war
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.
On visiting Terezin Concentration Camp
a year after the invasion of Ukraine
The sun shines today as it must have back then,
inexplicably offering light and warmth
on the dark and bitterly cold days,
on paper-thin, membranous skin,
stretched to transparency on wasted bodies,
ruining to nothing – warming the bitter cold,
encouraging the rare, thin, skeletal smile on
haggard and fearful faces, still human,
clinging to communality against all the odds.
Guards, without boundaries, without humanity,
order and bully and terrify the browbeaten inmates,
day after day after long and tedious and shocking day.
Prisoners – husbands, wives, sons, daughters,
bank clerks, bakers, farmers, mostly Jews
– owe their continued, tenuous existence
to these callous, unscrupulous, uniforms.
They are ordered, bullied and terrified daily,
moment by tormented moment.
They haven’t deserved this (no one does),
but where there is pain, I suppose, there is life –
and they are grasping life in all its brokenness.
‘ARBEIT MACHT FREI’ scrawled over the entrance
in thick white paint: ‘Work sets you free’.
The bitter, vicious irony of that lie.
Shame on you!
We left Terezin in the closing sunshine,
returning to Prague with our guide –
to the city where banners supporting the
Ukraine draped a public building.
Scrawled over the entrance
in thick white paint:
‘Get out of Ukraine, Putin!’
And we talked in sombre mood
about those who learn nothing from history.
Twelve months since you passed away,
each one a solid bead pushed hard against the frame,
not coloured, each morphing into the next,
Fifty-two weeks without you here,
each one a solid bead pushed hard against the frame,
with beginning and end, but no life, no joy,
One Christmas and an Easter already gone,
each one a solid bead pushed hard against the frame,
empty celebration, formless days and nights,
Will next year be any different, I wonder?
Will the next months and weeks transform the loss
that death brings, the lack, the want?
The thing about death is absence.
But the thing about grief is the reckoning:
one, two, three, four, five, six,
seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven,
twelve long months on . . . and counting.
Why am I stone?
The rocks under my naked feet
are hard and smooth, polished
by the rigour of the sea,
rattling like feudal chainmail
with each successive surge.
The waves’ ebb and flow,
as clear as eyesight, is cold
against my sun-warmed skin.
Restless, discovering its shape,
the sea fills every opening, fidgeting
around rocks and ridges of sand.
The hollow breeze, swept off the sea,
drives tiny droplets like confetti,
air-borne against my face.
Clouds scud across the sky.
Trees sway beyond the beach.
Beneath them, people walk.
Dogs and children run amidst noisy
All this energy and life.
Why, then, a year on, am I motionless –
indolent amid the rhythmic effort
of the incoming waves?
Why, having lost you, am I stone?
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.
Uncertain that my memory serves me well —
my nose pressed to the window of the past
for images that flicker like old film
with action blurred and features lost to chance.
Like sound heard at the bottom of a pool
or distant tones that echo underground,
it seems your message now falls on deaf ears
as I strain hard to catch the words you owned.
So many ghostly memories remain :
the scent of Jasmine, like a lost perfume;
the smell and taste of cognac on your lips;
waking at night, as if you’re in the room.
I hold your ring with keepsakes from the past —
mementoes of the times and life we shared,
without your essence they can never spark
but memories persist though you’re not there.
Applaud and Cry
Across the internet and TV news
fresh views of surrounding devastation.
Cutting away, the camera zooms in
to close up shots of a very small boy,
dusty, pale crying — rescued from the rubble.
Lifted shoulder high by triumphant men,
he sobs for missing Mother, lost brother—
his life now set in an alien world.
And how this scene plays out time after time,
from natural disaster to war-torn city —
we cheer the rescue… but weep tears for him.
Nicky Whitfield lives in Pembrokeshire. She has spent her whole life working with words, from teaching English as a foreign language to working with communication-impaired adults as a Speech Therapist. Recent retirement is offering more time to express herself in the written word.
Tying new knots
The sails are set for your trip ahead,
Provisions are sorted and stored below.
The forecast is fair, light winds and sun
The horizon’s in sight, that’s all you can know.
Two souls aboard who share a promise
To be there for the other come what may.
To plot a course to lands unknown,
Listening to their companion, not going alone.
To work as two sails, each bringing its own,
Letting the wind move between you, to be stronger than one.
To hold tight when the waves overpower you,
To sing to the moon and dance with the sun.
May your travels be safe and may they be fruitful
And let the wind take you where you dream to go.
Let kindness be your anchor
When troubled waters gather below.
Crowds have gathered on the harbour wall
With cheers and tears and every blessing,
To celebrate the creation of your strong boat
As you cast off from shore and are set afloat.
haiku for friend’s 60th
Many moons and tides
Have brought your boat to this shore
Let the waves roll on.
For Cousin Rodney – tree surgeon
A tree trunk of a man
With roots spread deep
But your wide canopy belied the sap beneath
Of weeping wounds, scars and loss.
All grown up too quickly
And far from ready to wear your father’s shoes,
Your lost childhood followed you like a shadow
Attached but irretrievable.
Focused and determined
You set your sights like a solo hunter
Catching prey time and time again.
Yet living too close to the tree to see the woods.
Self preservation your driving force,
Unwittingly pushing away precious lives
To keep your sorrows under wraps.
Standing alone to keep the sadness at bay.
But Rodney, your tree was loved and I hope you know
You were never alone.
You were standing in the centre of our wood all this time
And now leave a big space that your shadow may at last fill.
Gerald Seniuk is Canadian, retired, and resides in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
St. George’s Cathedral
January sixth twenty seventeen.
The traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve,
not quite alive, but not a carcass yet,
still powerful, dignified, and grand,
like a stoic whale beached
and waiting for the end.
St. George’s Cathedral was the last holdout,
but the year before, the Roman calendar
was slipped past that parish too.
So, this night when people came to pray,
they worshipped as before,
but a silent Requiem was also sung
for traditions now undone,
succumbed to Rome, de-Russification,
and Western mores.
Contradictions creep into old traditions,
and Requiems weep into celebrations
that are uncoupled from their memories
of kutya, the first star, the day off school,
the dim church, the crowded pew,
the amber light shining through
the incense and the mist,
the icons of Pahn Baran,
the choir’s troparion,
the kolyada, the Christmas song,
the priest’s sonorous chant
praising, praying, and asking that
our God have mercy, mercy,
on us all.
The eternals don’t change,
But traditions do.
Rage against sorrow,
against loss of a limb,
a mother, a child,
the loss of all hope
that goodness can win.
Rage against horrors
unleashed on Ukraine,
against those who say
the West’s at fault,
against those who won’t
blame Russia by name.
Rage no more.
There’s nothing to gain.
But at least…
Pray for Ukraine,
that it might survive.
And mark Russia for life.
Mark it with Z.
The Beast Unleashed
Beasts are real, not hidden
under beds to frighten children.
They rape your child before your eyes,
then torture you near death,
but let you live, to relive,
the horror that they did.
Tanks drive down the boulevard
where lovers used to meet,
and where you lived before
the Beast bombed you in your sleep.
Resist the Russian Beast
invading from the east,
who will first kill Ukrainians
and then will feast on you.
Resist, resist, resist, and never rest
until the Beast is leashed,
and cannot rise again.
Frank McMahon lives in Cirencester; published on-line and in print, Riggwelter, morphrog, Brittlestar, Cannon’s Mouth, Dawntreader, Persona Non Grata, Galway Review, Sarasvati, Acumen and four anthologies.
First collection: At the Storm’s Edge, second: A Different Land (Palewell Press); Winner of GWN Poetry prize 2022.
They emerged and sang
with the ache of a cauterised wound;
point and counterpoint rebounded
off fractured walls
as they probed into what remained unvoiced,
the mysterious gaps between the notes,
tasting their vinegar and honey.
I saw them leave homewards
to hunt for food and water
repair newly-opened scars
salvage hope from the wreckage of jagged days,
until they could recall their passion, their inner voice,
find a yard of sun,
gather again along the line of song
“luft” lift lifting.
Voices Voices Voices
blending, moving through shattered windows.
And people came, curious,
drawn to the urgent sounds,
Pacem, pacem, dona nobis pacem
A siren groaned, a child looked skywards.
caressing every note,
in unison, unyielding.
Requiem aeternam: Latin for eternal rest
Luft: German for air
Dona nobis pacem: Latin for give us peace
One cure for fear: invite others
to inflate its savage lungs.
A second cure: others to suck your balls
while you hold a gun to their head.
Another cure is subjugation,
skulls prescribed, randomly distributed.
Murder seeds itself in Petri dishes,
spores disseminate. Bacilli spawn everywhere.
When you sleep,
whom do you trust?
Around marble tombs, worms
never bother to decipher.
Larry Winger, having extensively diarised life in a remote community in Northumberland, has lately pursued more poetic endeavours. He reflects the rural lifestyle and the challenges of ageing, finding a public voice in Wildfire words submissions as well as monthly Visual Verse entries. He also finds daily joys to reflect upon.
The Three Graces
A year ago in sorrow and in shock
the little village heard the news
that passed from trembling lips
in fear to other ears, around and round:
have you heard? Did you hear?
And then the crumpled faces, tears —
as disbelief gave way to emptiness —
a sense that we were all so much
so much less now, without him.
They said we’d lost it then, the beating heart.
A crushed community. This week,
on Friday night, the anniversary,
folks will crowd into the Lion, raise
a glass, maybe weep again, remembering
the lion-hearted friend we loved.
But some will not be there because
they’re not here either. Death came in threes,
tall pillars of fine men who lifted
the place up, up, up upon their backs.
This moment of reflection’s for them all.
The political one, the universally
belovèd one, and finally the blessèd one —
all gone, through sickness and by chance
and those of us, rudderless, who still live on
are left bereft, impoverished, undone.
Andy Eycott lives near the Thames in Southeast London. He has been published in magazines and anthologies including Sarasvati, The Dawntreader, Obsessed with Pipework, Green Ink, Spillwords, M58, Southlight, Shot Glass, Coven, Snakeskin, Marble and The Cannons Mouth.
Andy prefers not to have audio
volunteers versus conscripts
fighting a war both didn’t choose
fighting with different views
hunkered down in trenches
wondering, worrying, waiting
neither side wanting to die
yet here they are
a year later, here they are
the sunflowers face the east
as the missiles fly
the land reaved and cleaved
cities return to the earth
clay, a thick coat,
snow, a blood stained veil
and a thousand miles away
rain is an inconvenience
Eleanor Punter is a Special needs teacher living by the coast. She is currently part of The Understory poetry group, gaining inspiration from other poets. Her poems have been shortlisted in various competitions, including the Bridport. She won third prize in The Binsted Competition 2019 and her pamphlet about anorexia was shortlisted by Cinnamon Press in 2021.
The Magnolia tree
The day Russians invade Ukraine
I lie in bed, brain fog heavy with Covid.
My son comes in from school, says
‘We are living in historic times’
and I notice
hard green buds filling the magnolia tree.
In that first week, too tired to take him to football,
I watch the 6.o’clock news, journalists now
in bulletproof vests, eyes slits of exhaustion
repeating ‘Kyiv, refugees,
Second World war.
The following week, the magnolia petals unfurl
and I am still unable to cry, process
the packed trains, fathers kissing children
I blame this emotional delay on ominous headaches
that follow me out into the garden where I sit,
dappled light on eyelids.
A week later, on the news
they start to show bodies – lines of patterned cloth,
the magnolia tree is now in full blossom
one of them a boy – my son’s age,
their cream petals fluttering in the breeze
who went out to play football.
In the fourth week
I feel drained, leant against sink, washing up,
the radio bringing me words
‘Mariupol intentional target’
I don’t have strength to carry.
I put the kettle on for tea,
watch how the the magnolia petals float down
scattering over ground.
Glenn Barker, a late developer, started writing during the pandemic. He is drawn to the dislocated dynamics of the human psyche in this age of anxiety. He grapples with the blurred edges of reason and perception through his poetry. Born in Worcestershire, he now lives in South Yorkshire.
Remembering Ukraine (24th February 2023)
One year on, and this is the cancer: the twisted war machine as campaign,
to ‘liberate’ Ukraine; blind ambition, retribution and revenge. Blind to
destruction and human suffering, from the black carved into the male-animal
heart; a poison that descends us to the putrid sewer. Kill or be killed in fields
of slurry, heel of hell or putrid foreign abyss. Eyes are closed as knife, gun
and bullet are polished to stand trial to no-one. We cower and surrender to
the narcissism of despots, and this endemic warring trade. Male: muscle,
steroid and brawn disguised as brain, yet as far-sighted as myopia.
Putinesque mirror halls of grandeur, choreographed self-delusion; and
might as fragile as eggshell wither beneath fist and the totalitarian statute;
until scorched, razed and exhausted in the madness of mutual destruction.
Male machine and megalomania; The warping of hubris itself mirror-warped;
images of infallibility; the status of a demi-god within the headspace of a pin.
The cunning of pure debased male, fuelled up for the bleeding. Tin ear, tin hat
and tin drum; all beat to the blood drenched flag of cause and right and might,
yet blind from birth, in a sociopathic distortion and ambition as hollow as the
echoing voices that hawk propaganda, so bleached washed as truth.
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.
This Winter Spring’s prayer flags
have been reduced to rags
by storm-tossed convulsions
of our planet.
Yellow, Green, Red,
Earth, Water, Fire
are frayed about their edges
but torn White Air is no longer readable
and less than half of Blue Sky remains;
dissipated in proportion
to their elements.
The battering windhorse,
air currents underhoof
not wafting text
gently from cotton pages
but tearing words
from the cloth,
corner of the globe.
Ngima handed the prayer-flag package to me
saying, “These are the real thing,”
but rent ribbons, unravellings reft
from the sacred warp and weft
add authentication to these flags,
so like those rising from roof beams
of tea houses and temples in Nepal,
all fading, ragged as half-forgotten dreams
of blessings, vexed to nightmare
when other flags are waved amongst the ordnance.
Babi Yar Anniversary
Naked, the women line up,
huddle for modesty, warmth,
craning to see what lies beyond the queue;
one, heavily pregnant, hurries to join them.
Uniformed Ukrainian police
lounging in the background,
not one stood trial at Nuremberg.
“We will lay your heads at Hitler’s feet!”
a Banderist pamphlet proclaimed to Ukrainian Jews.
Other photos show they kept their promise.
Today, soldiers of the Svoboda battalion sing –
“Our Father Bandera! Ukraine is our Mother!
Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!”
Marie Papier is a novelist and poet, born and educated in the French language. Her English poems have been published with: Arvon/Daily Telegraph, The North, Agenda, Stand, The Lighthouse, London Southbank Poetry, Fly-on-the-wall press; Smith/doorstop anthology Poems about Running; Online; on radio. Calyx &Weather Indoors, two anthologies from Bristol Stanza. ‘Walking Words’ for Bristol Lyra Festival.
The Ides of March
Marie prefers not to have audio
Your garden was gripped by frost
when you left in your cotton dress
on the anniversary of Cesar’s death
as if Spain was the Equator.
Whose voice in the wilderness
did you respond to:
John the Baptist, Elijah?
The voice of your loved one
who left you single-handedly
to life’s errands or the God
whose will you heeded.
your peach tree is in bloom;
a blackbird is pulling
in the abandoned garden.
A week before,
the bunch of tulips spelt out
their blooms, curved
in a lush display
as if defying time
curled petals lie drab on the tablecloth
the tulips nod over the crystal vase
where water lies cloudy
Glancing in the mirror, she
smiles at an English Rose
They came in their Sunday best
to mother’s traditional Easter lunch
her two elderly aunts,
a widow and her sister, a spinster
familiar with racy matters –
in theory only.
Two upright ladies
both stiff upper lips
as far as étiquette goes.
The Vichyssoise was a treat
they said, as were
the bouchées à la reine.
We knew they usually ate
the remnants of their cat’s meals,
a fact they tried to conceal.
But when the blancmange arrived
on the table, an orb-shaped
mother had garnished
with a succulent berry on top,
the spinster broke into a smile
nobody failed to see.
David Crann practised as a Solicitor in a North Yorkshire market town until 1989 when the family moved to Provence. He and his wife became wholesale distributors of English, German and Dutch books, retiring in 2002. His interests include family, travel, poetry, music, bridge and gardening.
Odessa – Orthodox Easter, Ukraine style
Seated one day at my piano,
My beloved breast-feeding our child,
A missile slipped in through the window
And vaporized mother and child.
The missile was “Russian precision”
Directed with grace and with skill.
It fractured the glass like a hammer
And stooped, lethal kite, on its kill.
Through my tears I have read the glad tidings
That proclaim that the Caspian Sea
Is the home to a red submarine
That launched its red cargo on me.
I have buried the dregs of my loved ones
Scrabbled up and bagged from the floor.
I have blotted my tears with their memory:
On the red bones of vengeance I gnaw.
I have closed like a coffin my piano.
Tuneless and mute tolls my knell.
And numb, with excess of emotion –
Come with me, bastard hordes, down to hell!
I am Ukraine
in a neighbour’s country
as sovereign as my own
they have unlocked the asylum
the lunatic is out
and has unleashed his dogs of war
where they have passed
I am raped
and have with knitting needles
aborted the travesty of tapestry
that would be my cross
I am maimed amputated
to terrify the children
my generations are murdered
bulldozed in mass graves
when peace comes
I shall exhume them
and name them
in sacred hieroglyphics
on the monument to martyrs
my home in ruins
my hospital a casualty with no first aid
my school twisted girders
where children in the playground
are hanged on swings
the time of the barbarians shall pass
as it ever does
I shall be the undead ghost
that murders their sleep
I am Ukraine
Ukraine, spring 2022.
[with acknowledgment to George Gordon, Lord Byron:
“The Destruction of Sennacherib”.]
The Russian came down like the wolf on the fold,
The Ukrainians defending in azure and gold,
And the crash of bombardment was thunder at sea
And the blood of the Russian turned red the Black Sea.
Like the leaves of the autumn all tinted with gold
On the blue depths of sky the brave flags were unrolled.
Like the leaves in the winter when north winds have blown
The corpses of Russia were scattered and strown.
For death showed his scythe in the wings of the blast
And mowed down young Russia like grass as he passed
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill
As they cried for their mothers far off – and lay still.
And there lay the tank with its turret blown wide,
Its tracks in steel chaos, its barrel cockeyed.
And there lay the crew all distorted and pale
With the frost on their eyelids turned rust in the gale.
The widows of Moscow are loud in their wail
While Vladimir waits for the assassins’ flail.
And the might of Ukraine – on its knees but unbowed –
Will spit on his coffin and shit on his shroud.
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 6 galleries. 50+ film awards, former senior judge/mentor Peter Ustinov Awards (iemmys) and Children’s Bafta nominated.
Let Sleeping Dogs Die
I remember a year ago when all this was a family home
now just rubble, demolished, mortar and memories
a building site, shattering the past
good riddance to the ghosts.
New foundations, new beginnings
not ours, no more, someone else’s dream
they will create new memories here
hope they’re happier than we were.
Over there was my bedroom
over there where my heart was broken
where the cement mixer churns
that’s where my mother said goodbye.
Towards the skips, I opened my envelope from uni
my escape route, maps and all
I wish I’d come back here sometimes
before it all collapsed
but the past pinned me to the mast
of my crippling uncertainty.
I remember when we laughed till we cried
I remember when you feared I’d died
remember when our lives collapsed
and terrible wrongs destroyed us?
Now, one year on from the sale
Dad’s estate still unfinished, his shadow remains.
The mysteries of life still unexplained
chronic illness still undermines good will
but more optimistic, hopeful and positive
as the past demolished for another’s will.
Probably for the best, exorcise the demons
dance with devils, exercise the angels
live in the present, don’t look back
goodbye ghosts, embrace another year.
Tambi Maple has been writing since childhood. Her love of words guided her towards education and she has now been a Secondary English teacher for nine years. Surrounded by sheep, Tambi lives in a North-West seaside village with her partner and daughter. Tambi’s favourite things are dancing, football and ice cream.
We clink our drinks in your name but you are not here.
Only absent in body though. It has been a year
and still winds howl and fallen leaves are grey,
yet we gather – trusting light will return one day.
It’s trivial things mostly, like slippers and pancakes
and those who landed after you – who will never know – that shakes
me. Thrice we have assembled, united in our grief:
toasting you after church, then again your eighty-fifth
and now we share our cherished times – familial bias –
wishing you were dancing and complaining with us. Pious.
Your life’s love – our Grandad – a widower left behind
politely requested, with the strength that he could find,
his own low-cost, low-key birthday celebration
only to be faced with scoffs and condemnation.
Will we ever learn?
Sanctimonious toasting at a future mournful meeting
if we can not honour him while his heart is still beating.
Nicola Oughton is a mature student and a lover of dogs and creative writing.
She has written and entered short story competitions for years and won a number, leading to publication in past anthologies.
Born and raised in England, she lives in Merseyside.
Nicola’s audios are read by Marilyn Timms
The glow that I was born with,
Is now just a tiny spark.
All its colour has bled away,
Fading silently into dark.
The higher you rise,
The deeper you descend.
The lure of giving up,
The call to embrace the end.
To sleep and never wake,
There are no happy endings.
No fairy tales come true,
No one will save me,
Now that I have lost you.
So hard to open a heart closed in fear,
It makes you vulnerable to loss and grief.
But once a heart is truly and fully open,
Even the deepest grief is bittersweet.
There’s no pain that cannot be balanced with joy,
The feeling of giving love is what keeps it alive.
And receiving it re-energizes the soul.
What is grief, but love enduring?
Jonathan Chibuike Ukah is a graduate of English and Law living in the UK with his family. His poems have been featured in Wildfire Words, North Dakota Quarterly, Zoetic Press, Compass Rose Literary Magazine, The Pierian, Shift Magazine, etc.
A Year Later
At the beginning of the four seasons,
there was a tall disaster like a mountain boulder,
looming like an earthquake towards Kyiv,
a home with glowing streets and warm faces,
with the cadences of death and devastation,
ghosts clutching sharp knives between their teeth,
swiping silver swords on the hard tar of streets,
in silhouettes of blue and red, sputtering cold blood
poised to slice every flesh and history into two;
a bundle of deaths that brought out the worst in men;
there was a tearful outcry, painful canticles,
the rise of anger, shock and a downcast moon;
eyes and hands stroking the embers of death.
No roses rose from the garden of Heaven
to arouse hope among the tremulous people
with testimonies of the worst days and how
redemption was a rare light in the eyes of the tearful
A year later, great deeds blossomed like orchids
among a race appointed to die in their homes and fireplaces,
where shadows have opened up condolence registers,
and mourners dusted their sack clothes to howl at the sun.
But slowly, cracks crept into the camp of the enemy,
as yellow and blue weapons patterned to defeat and shock,
chants of the bayonet and sounds of fury
gradually turned into witnesses for the disgraceful;
battle creeks are wings of flight and tongues of fear,
from where the scums of attack recite syllables of fear,
tiredness, losses, waning light of bravery and sabre rattling,
and overrated power of scrappy missiles
follow every march of the enemy’s silent boot.
A birdsong, like a distant glimmer of light,
is hurrying to the recaptured cities for the victory march.
Kate Copeland’s love for words led her to teaching & translating; her love for art & water to poetry…please find her pieces @ Ekphrastic Review, Poets Choice, Wildfire Words, Metaworker, The Weekly, a.o. She assists in literary festivals and workshops, was born @ Harbour city, adores housesitting @ the World.
Unable to open dreams (again)
No one reads her thoughts
and she wouldn’t be able
to word them, lack of
language, lack of bearing,
mind you, there is a will
but eyes waver endlessly.
Fearfulness always hers,
sounds have not gone yet,
echoes, and anything forth
comes, even in a safe place,
even in the afternoon.
Council man showed her
council flat, stood too close,
told her to lock doors
She never knew dreams
would live so far away.
In mornings, everything
cold, another grey than
she recalls, she recalls
getting used to anything
when she was younger,
until you hardly notice
It was the jealousy
Restless, quick water,
decisions made over night,
and boxes fill storage,
bags unload clothing.
The narrow streets in
an unknown neighbourhood,
the wall-high mirrors in
the shops she does not
determined in undeciding,
calendars and other people’s
holidays hand over.
She stares at the pattern
in the worn-out carpet,
spills of milk, a chipped
mug in the faded kitchen.
From second-hand to
smart settees, the dogs
she will walk and people
are friendly enough, though
they talk about weather and
never seen snow.
No stew to share like with nan,
a round table with all sorts of
being around, just put your legs
under and kick back. Nothing
to lose. No one to kiss. She will
get used, not being noticed
Empty sheets, dogs on beds. The guys in the garage work out
and I have just changed to satin, have not let you in. Houses
painted properly, like moonshot studios with cosy church-like
windows, but city devils won’t leave soft stories, and sweaters
have gone up 200 dollars. A heaven in brightest water, as long
as you smile honestly, smooth, while, obviously, expecting things
enormously, with no opposers, no documentaries.
How can he, I thought, like that, while streets just curve and
bend on, all the way up, to be destined nonetheless. A goal
in life is sending jealous-making photos of bays, redwoods,
shores, with rocks in pockets, all to avoid people finding my
inside-me, the hunting-me, while, unkindly, I wanted this, this
feast of an inside beast, the real life story of a lifesaver, and you
made me, the serpentine rock, a taller ship.
This being-nice Summer, it is a nice Summer, though some
nights I treat you cruel on purpose, or, as you say: I does not
cost me anything, to be so, and with sun down, view gone, there
is a restlessness no yoghurt can smooth, and I may seem starless,
a shadow in the desert, but the prospect of a house again crashed
me away from long lean bodies and other commitments, I prefer
the ones on beaches, around old cars.
Over a year, some classic mistakes I made, just walking every
where, sitting on the wrong bus, but then, I got to meet some
rooftop ravens, only need an emergency sew-kit close. I learned
to realise I really see the colours, might well leave the buttons
I won’t need behind. Maybe, if I start brushing my hair, imagine
having walked there, I can easily see a documentary of lifesavers,
start living like that.
Gwyn Thomas was inspired by the Open University’s approach to the Humanities to try and write literary texts instead of the literal ones demanded by a career in science and technology. Currently living in the shadow of Liverpool, Gwyn us absorbing its social and cultural heritage.
The Greatest Show on Earth?
Flaxen chaff spaffing
out of his head,
he parades in a patchwork
of colours stitched together
by a furtive thread
of Russian gold.
Poised to fool the already indebted,
he dangles from his hand
a plastic bucket
full of paper promises shredded
by political reality.
over-loaded with lies
are primed to squirt
right between the eyes
of all those who no longer see
In the big-top
laughter turned to cat-calls
when the clowns were found out
and the arrogant jugglers
dropped all the balls
and the acrobats turned tricks
One year on, another one
who once made people laugh
stands in the ring and without
sequins or sawdust
launches his crusade for
But the latest ringmaster is
edging along the tightrope
and adept at hedging his bets,
he is prepared to spare only
one minute’s silence.
Giles Constable is a doctor based in London. He started writing in recent years and hopes he is getting the hang of it. He has had pieces published online and in anthologies.
Fears were more dispersed in the past.
Would come, of course. Make their assault
One upon one, but not in onrushing battalions.
There was the reassurance of space,
Events becoming known only once a horse
Had covered the intervening ground.
The occurrence of war, of great events held
In the belly of a sail and a ship’s progress.
Then the subjugation of steam, new uses for wire.
Information set free, air soon saturated with data.
Now the device most voracious of our time,
More avid for our attention than an ardent lover,
More demanding of our touch. An itch never
Scratched, thirst unquenchable, bottomless
Black screen into which we gaze and slip.
Obsidian mirror where we see ourselves
Search and search, lose the path back,
Follow as we are led by our new familiar.
We unlock the world in the confines of a box,
Rapacious for novelty, voyeurs to the tears,
The masses stalled at borders, the city halls, libraries,
Hospitals burning and falling. News breaking
Like the tens of thousands of hearts,
Igniting onto our sofas and as we lie safe at night.
Catastrophe waits at the whim of the algorithm,
At the touch of the glass, the press of a button.