Darell Petska – To Another Yoke-and-Harness Incentive Plan

To Another Yoke-and-Harness Incentive Plan

When they’ve set the ground against you,
tripping your feet,
and hoarded the air so you can’t catch a breath
when they’ve hidden tomorrow, leaving you
no way out of today,
and tossed you their day-old bread
you begin to understand what they mean
by “incentivise”.
When you can’t find the handle to a door
they breeze through, you’re incentivised.
When you don’t know the magic words
that bring them luck, you’re incentivised.
You’re incentivised every morning
your kids look at you like you’re just a wall
useless to keep out noise and cold and fear.
You’re incentivised when your name sounds
like a curse thrown at a dog,
when shame haunts your shadow,
when you feel like a voodoo doll goaded by pins.
You hear it like the constant voice of the city—
you’re no good you’re no good you’re no good—
until you’re incentivised enough to bust loose,
except that too plays into their hands.

Darrell Petska’s career as an editor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison spanned more than 30 years. Before academia he worked as a psychiatric technician/caseworker and nursing home evaluator. His poetry has appeared in The Missing Slate, About Place Journal, Poetry24, HEArt Online, Blast Furnace, The New Verse News and elsewhere.


Sarah Wedderburn – A word on killing

A word on killing



I’ll only say this once. Then I’m going back to writing about home,

journeys, everyday events and minor breakages—even they send

fragments far and wide.


After the murder of my father, who was stationed overseas, I couldn’t

bear that when they found the man who did it—possibly a dad—they

shot him in his bed.


My father was a soldier. This was peacetime. He’d been to the bank, was in

a Morris Minor, ferrying money to his troops. The killer was a criminal,

after easy cash.


When losing was so sharp, I couldn’t see how one more death made sense.

I was spirited at seven, fierce. Wanted justice. But that second bullet was

the first again. Despair.


Those two deaths were not political, defensive, personal or spat out

in the heat of war. They revealed to me, too young, that men—grown men—

are ruled by drives


so primitive they make a child look old. My story’s small. But scale it up

from households to whole peoples and you start to see. What I didn’t know,

while messing up


in later life, was how, through killings, roots get twisted, memories

and moods distorted, needs, compulsions, fears repeated, like they say,

down the generations.


Growing up, I couldn’t see a fictive arrow in a back, a sailor walk the plank

in black and white, spiralling Spitfires, or anything with guns. Still can’t.

I guess it was a sign.


We’re all friends here. We all agree. But what to do? The day my father

died I made a cake. Wonky, sunken in the middle. With a candle.

One small light to shine.


Sarah Wedderburn’s poems have appeared in Poems in Which and The Oxford Magazine. She was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2013, and in 2011 was a finalist in the Third Annual Poetry Contest run by Narrative Magazine, the online American literary journal. She lives in East Kent.

Susan Utting – Two Poems

The Tree


Because the tree has gone, there is a flood

of light across the floor, there is a view

of roofs and backyard fences shouldering

the weight of whose-is-whose. Because

the tree’s been taken while I wasn’t there –

there was no chainsaw screech, no fluster

and coo of tetchy pigeon, no easy rhyme for

one for sorrow – the tree’s a gap, a lost tooth,

a solitaire unstuck from its old gold claws.


Because the bedroom’s lost its summer

flicker, its winter scratch, is soaked in

daylight/streetlight, unstoppable by drape

or slatted blind. Because there is no memory

of the tree’s going, I cannot, will not sleep.



What Remained


After she died we stripped the bed,

shook out the sheets and they fell

like rice at an old-fashioned wedding.


They cornered her dressing-gown

pockets – never a core or a stalk –

nothing but apple pips, dulled by

the dark, still holding their centres,

their flavour of almond, of cyanide.


And when we readied the body,

washed what was left of the woman

she’d been, we picked out brown seeds

from between her toes, from under

the claw of her curled toes, and one,


flattened, split to its ivory heart,

stuck fast to the sole of her left foot.


Susan Utting is based in Berkshire and is the author of several poetry collections. Her website is at http://susanutting.co.uk




Alessandra Bava – Three Poems

The Day Neruda Died


Just a few days after the

coup d’état, Poetry died in a house

nestled in the mountains of Santiago.


Twenty years later only,

they buried his body there,

in Isla Negra, according to his last


will and desire, close

to his home harboring

on a dune where blue waves


scour Humboldt’s icy

currents. Surrounded by

all things maritime, ships in


bottles, maps, beloved

figureheads, that he collected

bulimically, a few steps away from


his very bedroom with a

tin-plate roof that reminded him of

his childhood in the Southern town of


Temuco lashed by harsh winds and

rain where he spent endless hours penning lines

enchanted by the falling drops on the tin rooftops


in the arms of the mighty Andes.

The day he died, five-hundred, maybe

six-hundred young men stood there in front of


Pablo’s house despite the hundreds of

Pinochet’s secret agents taking snapshots. When

the coffin left all of them raised their hand to the sky,


singing the Internationale. Everybody knew that

that very evening somebody would have knocked at

their doors, leading them away to Dawson Island as political


prisoners—to never return. This did not prevent them.

Nobody will prevent poetry from living on. Neither regimes

nor politics and, not even Death dancing his last Chilean Totentanz


amid rustling red leaves on an Autumn day of 1973. Pablo es aún vivo.*


*Pablo is still alive




The Birds Have Gone


The birds have all gone.

They gathered to watch

the Nightingale lie


motionless on the

ground and fled to mourn.

The country is so silent now.


I hold you in my hands.

Your cold feathers will be my shield.

Your chant will be my weapon.


Rest here.

This land will always be your land

and I will sing your songs forever.



(for Pete Seeger)




In Che’s Heavy-Duty Boots


I did dream of you Latin America,

unknown land of my spirit,

as I follow the trail that Poderosa

the Mighty One – left along your


backbone: St. Martín, Bariloche,

the pampas and the deserts.

I want to tread your soil and your

soul penniless, a motorcycle in


my heart wearing Che’s unlaced heavy-

duty boots. The taste of brewed

yerba mate in the mouth will last long,

as the poverty of people filling my eyes.


There is Chile. I’ll pass by as a busy

pilgrim along Neruda’s door. I

won’t knock but I will carry his

words in my backpack. And, I too will


spend some days in leper-hospitals

to recall that poets and revolutionaries

must always put their fingers in the wounds

to be able to learn how to be sufferers.



Alessandra Bava lives and works in the Eternal city. She holds an MA in American Literature and she manages her own translation agency. She is the author of two bilingual chapbooks NOCTURNE (2013) and GUERRILLA BLUES ( 2012) both published in Italy. Her first US published chapbook, THEY TALK ABOUT DEATH,  is now available from Blood Pudding Press. Her forthcoming chapbook, DIAGNOSIS, will be released by Dancing Girl Press in 2014. She is a Co-founder of Rome’s Revolutionary Poets Brigades and is the editor of ROME’S REVOLUTIONARY POETS BRIGADE ANTHOLOGY Vol. 1 (Edizioni Ensemble, 2012) and ARTICOLO 1 (Edizioni Albeggi, 2014). She actively takes part in and helps to organize WORLD POETRY MOVEMENT and 100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE reading events in Rome. She is currently writing the biography of a contemporary American poet. She blogs at http://poetryrulesbyalessandrabava.blogspot.com

Tim Youngs – Mugged


Walking along Udristei
someone shoves into my ribs.
Straightaway a pocket-check:
passport, wallet, phone, okay.

Ahead, the suspect pivots;
shouts in Romanian, his arms
outstretched with palms upturned.
The fault is mine. I misjudged.


Tim Youngs’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Staple, The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Hinterland, and Ink, Sweat and Tears, among other places. He lives in Nottingham and is the author or editor of several books on travel writing.


Grant Tarbard – Two poems

Gifts from my Son


under the gallows
of a Belgian battlefield 
he picks a relic

a dagger of wood
laying in its grave so long
resurrection was

a certainty, all
he had to do was prize it
from the bank of soil

wrestle the husk from
the uncertain gale of time’s
russet paroxysm 


under the rock crown
of a Tintagel grotto
lies the magics source

weeping turquoise tears
of departing smoke vapours
sorcery in an 

unmarked grave. The cave 
was flooded when he went there
he had his knights quest

to bring me back a
piece of Arthur, of Merlin
of Britain itself 

Into the Kettle
farewell, my young son
for the boy I knew has gone
into the kettle

into the vapour
into the fog banks with two 
shakes of a lamb’s tail

Grant Tarbard has worked as a computer games journalist, a contributor to football fanzines, an editor, a reviewer and an interviewer. He is now the editor of The Screech Owl.
His work can be seen in such magazines as The Rialto, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Bone Orchard Poetry, BLAZE, The Journal, Southlight, Sarasvati, Earth Love, Mood Swing, Puff Puff Prose Poetry & Prose, Postcards Poetry and Prose, Playerist 2, Lake City Lights, The Open Mouse, Miracle, Poetry Cornwall, I-70, South Florida Review, Zymbol and Decanto.


Hilaire – Letter from Battersea

Letter from Battersea
to Shaker Aamer, Guantanamo Bay.
The park is much the same.
Spring arrives earlier each year.
First, snowdrops, in stealthy clumps,
nodding their hope to the sodden ground.
Crocuses, sudden cups of lilac,
saffron, ivory, trumping St. Valentine’s Day—
cruel anniversary of your rendition,
your unmet son’s birth.
And still a coming-up of daffodils;
blizzards of blossom on leafless trees;
catkins twisting towards detachment.
Birdsong and nesting exist in this place.
I press words into the page—
forget-me-nots sewn in your name.
Down the road,
they are laying the foundations
of the new American embassy.
Good neighbours,
we are preparing our welcome.
See our banners. Hear our chants.
Free Shaker Aamer.
Bring him home.
Shaker Aamer is the last British resident in Guantanamo Bay, where he has been held since 2002. He has never been charged and was cleared for release in 2007 but is still imprisoned. His family lives in Battersea. For more information see: http://www.reprieve.org.uk/cases/shakeraamer/
Hilaire grew up in Melbourne but has lived in Battersea, south London, for nearly 25 years. She has had short stories and poetry published in several anthologies and various magazines.Triptych Poets: Issue One (Blemish Books, Australia, 2010) features a selection of her poems. Her novel Hearts on Ice was published by Serpent’s Tail in 2000. She is currently working on a joint poetry collection with Joolz Sparkes, London Undercurrents, unearthing the voices of feisty and resilient women who have lived and worked in the capital over many centuries.

Sue Millard – Doll


No matter which way he turns her

or folds her limbs, she is supple as a cat,

elastic and elegant with a faint smile

imprinted on her lips. Serene, effortless,

compliant: no hint of claws or teeth,

no trickle of seduction, none

of the messiness of real encounters,

almost as though it doesn’t matter

one way or the other, as though

it could be him or whoever or no-one.

Her lack of resistance folds him

down into a box. He tucks himself

away, a mannikin, unable to explain.


Sue Millard lives in Cumbria. Her website, http://www.jackdawebooks.co.uk/ showcases her published output of novels and non-fiction which tend to feature horses, carriage-driving, romance, rural life, history and artistic but inept dragons. Her poems have been published by, e.g., The Interpreter’s House, Pennine Platform, Pirene’s Fountain, Butcher’s Dog, Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, and Prole. Her recent collection, ASH TREE, is published by Prole, http://www.prolebooks.co.uk

Joanna Mackintosh – The Bereaved

The Bereaved

The broken twig snaps,

Splintering all but my bitter soul upon the ground.

A coldness creeps upon me,

I fear,

I embrace,

I love.

So beautiful, the falling leaves of Autumn,

The crescent moon within the sky.

I hate that I should see when you do not,

That I should feel what you cannot.

Forgive me for the life I breathe,

I breathe with laboured guilt.

The broken twig snaps,

My foot,

Upon your grave.



I am a 31 year old author and mother of three living in Forres on the north east coast of Scotland. I have been creatively writing for as long as I can remember and love to write in the genre of horror and science fiction. I recently won story of the month in The Long Story Short Magazine and am hoping to continue my success.
My link to my twitter account is:  https://twitter.com/wordsonview

Julian Dobson – An incident on the Heads of the Valleys Road

An incident on the Heads of the Valleys Road

What song was playing when the windscreen crazed?
In that interminable instant
when the block’s edge struck the glass
did you breathe before the sirens formed a descant?

Who were you anyway? Just a taxi driver
making ends meet, taking scabs to work.
That was enough. We’d lived on soup and favours
far too long. Our patience had to break.

We were drowning, breath by breath.
The mood was foul, but not ferocious as it looked,
those boys not half as mad as folk believed.
They only meant to warn you, just to shake

you up a bit. And after that our lights
snuffed too. The way the shoppers glared
– or didn’t – when we ventured on the streets.
‘Dig deep!’ we called, into our beards,

our seams well nigh exhausted. We talked
of pride, but listlessly, like long forgotten
lovers. We spoke of fighting, but baulked
even at the prospect of retreat. We battened

down. Our women cursed our lack of spirit.
Our hope fell slack, lung-shrunk as emphysema.

All history now. The hills are so much greener.
So much more empty air to uninhabit.

Biog: Julian is an apprentice poet and lives in Sheffield. http://52poemsinayear.wordpress.com