Sue Barnard – Hallowe’en


To those who follow paganism,
it’s called Samhain.

To those who follow Christianity,
it’s called All Hallows’ Eve.

To those who follow like sheep,
it’s called Halloween (sic).

An excuse to sell
tacky stuff at high prices,

to children who will spend the evening
veiled like characters from a Z-grade horror flick,

knocking on strangers’ doors
and making unveiled threats.

“Trick or Treat?”
In other words:

“Give us something now,
or we’ll vandalise your property.”

Since when has this
become acceptable behaviour?



Sue Barnard






Sue is a novelist, an award-winning poet, and a member of the editorial team of Crooked

Cat Publishing. She has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling

questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz – an attribute which once

caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.”


She lives in Cheshire with her husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.

Neil Fulwood – Mass in B-Minor

Mass in B-Minor
The only word that suggests itself
is solemnity. There is perhaps
a measure of joy – the rarefied kind,
joy in the certainty of God
and the promise of salvation –

but it is solemnity that unfurls from the music
and draws the clamour of the estate
into a cone of stillness.
Alarms cease,
sirens are embarrassed into silence.

Belief is only a part of it.

Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham in 1972. He is the author of three film studies books, including ‘The Films of Sam Peckinpah’. His poetry has been published in The Black Light Engine Room, Butcher’s Dog, Lunar Poetry, Monkey Kettle, The Writers’ Hub and Ink Sweat & Tears, and he has work forthcoming in Domestic Cherry and Art Decades.

Richie McCaffrey – Black Tie

Black Tie


In a charity shop today,

the tie rack was over-full

of old black ties –


silk, polyester and fabrics

invented and abandoned

in the nineteen-fifties.


It looks as if everyone

in this town has decided

to give up grief for good,


or that even the mourners

have died, leaving no one

to wear their black ties.



Richie McCaffrey’s collection Cairn has recently been published by Nine Arches Press.

Michael Ceraolo – Two Poems

Deuteronomy 19:15: Twenty-First Century Edition

Witnesses shall not rise up against a person
for any iniquity,
in the absence of physical evidence,
and they should always be regarded skeptically


Luke 7:41, 42: Twenty-First Century Edition

There were certain creditors
who had debtors that should not have been lent to,
and when the debtors had nothing to pay,
the creditors frankly forgave them their debts
and waited for the government bailout

Michael Ceraolo is a 56-year-old retired firefighter/paramedic and active poet from Ohio who has had one full-length book (Euclid Creek, from Deep Cleveland Press) and a few shorter-length books published, and has a second full-length book, Euclid Creek Book Two, forthcoming from unbound content press.
These two poems are from Twenty-First Century Editions, re-writings of various literary, political, and religious writings for the 21st century.

Sharon Woodcock – Tea



You came to me on a ship in ornate caddies,

Once opened, air laced with heliotrope,

bergamot, rose, jasmine and broken

orange pekoe. I was in Ceylon.


You built empires and broke them.

I wanted you more, vital crutch:

to soothe, to soar, to sieve free

leaf, bagged, strained.




Sharon Woodcock’s poems have been published by Ink Sweat and Tears, Message in a Bottle, Anti-Zine, Atavic Poetry, Kumquat Poetry, The Zen Space, Ink Pantry Publishing and What the Dickens Magazine. Co-founder/co-editor of Word Bohemia.

Helena Sanderson – The Line

The Line

The precision with which
a line in ink can be drawn

from child
to parent
to grandparent
and beyond
belies the reality of
zygotes splitting
in the womb
of a woman
who knows more
than your chart.

Her line drawn with blood
remains invisible
compared to that recorded
by the unknowing hand
of the man
who is not the relation
of any of the men
so finely scribed.

Her line encourages journeys
to destinations also unknown.



Helena Sanderson is a Northern poet concerned with the intricacies and small details of landscape and life. She has had work published with Ink Pantry and Word Bohemia. She is currently studying art history with the Open University.


Sarah J. Bryson – I rail against

I rail against

this society where
so many women
feel they have to

hide, every day
their naturalness
under a false-tan

then re-apply a blush
to define the shape
of a perfect face

paint on lines
around their eyes
apply spiders’ legs lashes

and on their lips
a slash
of garish colour

a society which makes
so many women
feel they have to

colour their hair
to cover the grey
with streaks of blond

spend hours with a dryer
add bouffant brittleness
with cans of spray.

Watch any late night
chat shows to see the
contrast between

middle-aged men
relaxed in their rugged looks,
stubble with laughter lines

and middle-aged women
taut with the effort
of looking good

Sarah J Bryson writes poems and short stories. She takes photos nearly every day and works as a hospice nurse, part-time.
Her work has been placed in competitions and published in various forms: in anthologies, in journals and on line.

Roy Marshall – Made in Dagenham


Made In Dagenham

A manager, who’d arrived fresh-faced in ’64,
recalled the endless drive from gate to office,
a daunting walk across the floor

through air thick with metal slough
and the beat of machines. Ex-workers spoke
of crushing boredom, toilet trips timed by foremen,

line speeds increased until hands were a blur.
A steward from the foundry where engine blocks
were forged, told of the finger lopped

and taken by a cat, and a woman described a hat
worn in honour of a visit by the second Henry Ford.
Skilled machinists, paid as unskilled, sat at their benches

and roared, as Ada greeted him, Bollocks
stitched clearly above the brim.




Roy Marshall lives in Leicestershire where he works in adult education. He has been variously employed
as a gardener, electronics buyer, delivery driver and coronary care nurse. His pamphlet ‘Gopagilla’ was published in 2012 and a full collection, ‘The Sun Bathers’ is available from Shoestring Press. Roy blogs at

Laura McKee – waterboarding


because of what you want from me
you lay me down flat
until the cloth is soaking
in my head I am drowning
and it all pours out



Laura McKee lives in Kent with four understanding children. Her poems have appeared in journals including, Other Poetry, Obsessed With Pipework, Snakeskin, Gloom Cupboard, Nutshells and Nuggets, Fake Poems, Mouse Tales Press, and many a few more.

Elaine Taylor – Industrial Process

Industrial Process


First they are assembled

thoroughly stripped

of everything extraneous

packed tight as components

in their designated place.


The technology is simple:

a few pipes, a stopcock

a door with a good seal

operatives to make sure

there is a neat fit.


It doesn’t take long.

The agent works

with maximum efficiency.

After a waiting period

the waste is cleared away.