Jeff Skinner – Estate


They meet after
dropping the kids –

caught in the rain outside a
shuttered Costcutter

the young mums corral their buggies,
smoke and chat.

Across the street
Chelsea, Grace, Blaine

are trying to learn
from their mums’ mistakes

some of whom –
barely out of their teens –

text a friend who’s expecting next
about nurseries, names;

scratch to match three
to win,

disperse like their
grey haloes.


Jeff Skinner retired last year. He was a Librarian in the NHS and a Trade Union rep. for Unison.
He was longlisted in the 2012 Bridport competition. Last year his poem about fashion and the Rana Plaza disaster was published by the Morning Star/Well Versed …but it’s vanished with other work since they revamped their website! This year he was one of the runners-up in the Guernsey competition and his poem is currently circulating the island on a bus…

Lesley Quayle – Video

It’s meticulously scripted;
the kneeling man in silence,
the other, black shrouded, reciting
his prophesy – accent, grammar,
common on the ear as everyday.
This modern ars moriendi,
I already know the finale,
but online,
for a brief moment, fingertips are drawn,
in thrall, towards the ‘play’ button.
I almost press it.

Lesley Quayle is a poet, novelist and folk/blues singer, currently living and  working in the wilds of rural Dorset. Her most recent poetry collection “Sessions” is published by Indigo Dreams.

Rayya Ghul – Making History

Making History


On the tube to Golders Green,

an Anti-Nazi League badge

on my baggy jumper,

you sat reading Gay News.

The Telegraph reader muttered

‘queer’ and you just looked up

and said ‘Yid’ and stared, no one

dared say another word.

1979, Jeff ‘Bunny’ Dudgeon came

to stay. Lawyers crammed round

the kitchen table while Greta, 92,

our Jewish landlady, stood

on her doorstep shouting at Zionists,

her accent thick with German.

“Get off my doorstep you filthy Fascists!”

and I made endless cups of tea.

Meanwhile on TV Paisley ranted

and raved, “Save Ulster from sodomy!

We’ll have no poofters here!” Too

late, the tide had turned. Another year,

and in a court at Strasbourg

the British government lost, we won.



Rayya Ghul lives and works in East Kent.  She performs poetry in Folkestone with a group of poets called the Fabulous Females


Aidan Rooney – Angel



Her ankle tag reads Ange-Louise, 2 ans.


Were it not for the diaper in her frock

she’d slip. She sleeps in the crook of my arm

that has fallen asleep. Her sweat beads grow.


She’d be one of the ones on the world news

had she not hung her eyes and raised her arms

for nothing more than a pick me up.


Were it not for her heat and her heartbeat

against mine, she might not be there at all.

There are no words. Outside, a waiting truck.


I hope she won’t wake when I put her back.


        — L’Orphelinat Mère Térésa, Port-au-Prince



Aidan Rooney is an Irish native, resident in the US since 1987; he teaches at Thayer Academy and lives in Hingham, Massachusetts. Aidan’s collections of poetry — Day Release (2000) and Tightrope (2007) — are published by  The Gallery Press in Ireland.
The two poems featured here are from a portfolio of poems written in response to Aidan’s involvement, since the 2010 earthquake, in Haiti. In 2013, the poet F.D. Reeve selected Angel for the Daniel Varoujan Prize (from the New England Poetry Club), awarded annually for a poem worthy of Daniel Varoujan, a poet killed in the Armenian genocide. 

Rebecca Bird – Golden Gate (Reprise)

Golden Gate (Reprise)

It is 2am little bird and the cars are passing by like afternoons
a sleepy one every now and then    and the frost has deepened

like a voice                          across town you are perched
in your uncle’s coat    hug-warm       a bridge rotting beneath
your eyes                     already sunk in the cool river

if I could reach from my window I would pluck you out
and brush the dark from your knees           I need to know
sweet bird        did you leave a note?     and does it tell me
what you see in the water
and what the water sees in you

Rebecca Bird was born in 1991. She has been published in journals including The New Writer, Envoi, The Rialto and the Bakery. She currently lives and works in Guildford.

Susan Richardson – Pesticidal

 In her early weeks as a bee
she learnt to thrive in a colony of thousands,
to defend the hive, and clean.
She revealed her dream of world pollination,
sought an audience with the queen.
In her waggle dance class,
she threw the sharpest moves,
soon knew where to choose the juiciest nectar,
how to cruise the rural sector for foxgloves,
clover, borage, and how to lose herself
in the intoxicating forage
for pollen from oilseed rape.
Hard to say when she first sensed
that petals seemed less bright,
when she first felt compelled
to embrace the varroa mite. Hard to know
when she first noticed drones
trying to mate, mid-flight,
with cabbage whites, golf balls, crows.
In time, though, the line she was making   wavered
              till she began to return
with fag ends, ring pulls, plastic
in her pollen basket –
and finally, burbling workers’ rights,
she went on permanent strike.
Now she’s stopped co-opting bonnets,
crawls on flawed knees
through her hive of inactivity,
waxes hysterical in spherical combs –
Honey, I’m home.
Susan Richardson: I am a Wales-based poet, performer and educator whose third collection, skindancing, themed around human-animal metamorphosis and our dys/functional relationship with the wild, will be published by Cinnamon Press next year. I am currently poet-in-residence with the Marine Conservation Society.
twitter – @susanpoet

Ali Znaidi – Nomads for Sustainable Discovery

Nomads for Sustainable Discovery


Their appearance is signs fighting

carrions under, & upon the (sand) dunes—

A fait accompli.


Very like meteors, nomads’

eyes are stuffed w/ lights—

notes stoning the surface.


For them, sand is not just a utopia;

it is another skin, shiny,

a well-nourished lightening w/ pores

resembling big eyes.


In the carnival of gazing,

[without their eyes], there would be

no more tour operators, nor

discovery mags.




Ali Znaidi (b. 1977) lives in Redeyef, Tunisia, where he teaches English. His work has appeared in various magazines and journals worldwide. He authored four poetry chapbooks including Experimental Ruminations (Fowlpox Press, 2012), Moon’s Cloth Embroidered with Poems (Origami Poems Project, 2012), Bye, Donna Summer! (Fowlpox Press, 2014), and Taste of the Edge (Kind of A Hurricane Press, 2014). Links to his published and forthcoming works can be found at  and his tweets are posted on his account: @AliZnaidi.




Christine Murray – and her yellow music caught in the throats of birds

and her yellow music caught in the throat of birds


I waited a minute on the wind,
on your roof, outside.

She had been awaiting me in the middle of the day,
having come warm over those seas to find me

high over the little streams and the lakes
she came

and she playing,
and she jumping.
Crying and talking in my ear.


She had carried her warm music over those streams
and over the frail blue flowers that grow on the lakeside.

And you were sleeping soundly.
I left you, I left the city for a little time.

I left the noise of the city, to wait on
the little breeze to bring me news.

and her yellow music caught in the throat of birds
agus a ceol buí a thógail i scornach na h’éanaithe.


And her yellow music caught in the throat of birds was published in a collection Cycles (Lapwing Press, 2013)

Christine Murray

Holly Magill – Nobody, of Rotherham

Nobody, of Rotherham


“There is nobody here,” he’d said,

the policeman, back then,

when he’d shoved her, naked,

to the wall at the side of the bed.


Dad always said to stay home,

especially on school-nights:

dark cars purred outside;

they wanted her,

said to come out,

or they’d see to her Mum.


At the arcade with the girls,

split lips braved in cherry gloss,

laughing like real women;

bruises shrugged

under glitter eye-shadow

and clanking bangles lifted

from Claire’s Accessories.


She’d suck down smoke to blunt

last night’s taste as they’d wait

for their men to come

with vodka and again.


It’s still there, ten years on,

her accent, old rust that muted

her tongue. Now the town

where she’s from is News;

suits at the council, journos,

righteous politicians

saying bad stuff

happened there.


But, it’s just a place.

Nothing happened;

it was agreed at the time:

“There is nobody here.”



Holly Magill writes in Worcestershire, mainly in a
darkened room with a tea mug at her elbow and a cat nearby. She has had
poems appear in several publications including “Ink, Sweat & Tears”,
“Nutshells & Nuggets” and “The Poetry Bus”.


Alison Brackenbury – Shanties


So these were chanted on slave-ships.
Why did I not guess before?
Because I hide from just men’s rage,
can whistle softly, flick the page,
Shenandoah, O Shenandoah.

We count our own.  Though tears fall hot,
we do not go back for more.
Out of the dust, let small ghosts come
as quiet as spent uranium,
Shenandoah, good Shenandoah.

‘I love your daughter,’ sang the men,
hands on rope, some rough, some raw.
The colours arched above the rain,
they never sang so true again.
Shenandoah, O Shenandoah.




Alison Brackenbury’s latest collection is Then, Carcanet 2013.  Her next collection is due from Carcanet very early in 2016.  New poems can be read at her website: