Mandy MacDonald – After the Seizure

After the seizure
In response to an online news item, ‘After the Rapture’ Will Place Your Cats With Loving Atheist When Jesus Comes — for a Small Fee’

returning to consciousness she
saw that she had not been taken
most of what she could see was
the kitchen floor where she lay
attentive to her breathing
making sure it was hers
mind touring her body for
breakages more serious than
the coffee cup at the edge of her vision
no, she was not ready to get up yet
but she gave thanks to any deity who might be listening
that she was not alone
her snail’s-eye view took in the calm approach of Audrey
the loyal, Audrey the friend always to be counted on,
delicately skirting the spilt coffee
oh, the reassurance, the comfort of Audrey’s face
close to hers, Audrey’s beautiful blue eyes, Audrey’s voice,
endearingly husky, coaxing her to get up, Audrey’s creamy paw
softly, patiently batting her nose
Mandy Macdonald is an Australian writer, translator and editor living in Aberdeen and trying to make sense of the 21st century. She has had poems published in Poetry Scotland, Pushing Out the Boat, ‘The Wait’ charity anthology, and Haiku Scotland, and forthcoming in Lunar Poetry (December 2014) and Outlook Variable (Grey Hen Press, forthcoming). 

Sarah James – Cut-Throat Pirates

Cut-throat Pirates

The boy brandishes his cutlass with a smile.
On the beaches Cornish pirates once haunted,
Lego explorers keep their eyes to the sand
for bright treasure.

After any high tide, the awe of a new shoreline.
Here, a red daisy in the bladderwrack,
small dragons on the rocks, spear guns in shingle –
washed-up adventures.

Seventeen years since Tokio Express floundered;
still, its ghosts carried in with the currents.
Of 62 containers belched out by this metal whale,
one survived –

4.8 million Lego pieces unboxed by the waves.
Tossed, flung, drifted as flotsam. At last, rehomed.
Yet all pirate tales have a dark edge – the tally
of that day’s lost cargo:

thousands of octopuses and rigging nets, half a million flippers,
life preservers, TimeCruisers and pirate toy kits…
but no one knows how many choughs, kittiwakes and herring gulls
poisoned by swallowed plastic.

The boy and his friends salvage this wreckage.

Sarah James, poet and short story writer: website at & V. Press, poetry editor.

Be[yond] – poetry collection now out with Knives, Forks and Spoons Press (July 2013).
Into the Yell – poetry collection, Circaidy Gregory Press, 2010 – third prize, International Rubery Book Awards 2011.

Roy Marshall – Beyond North

Beyond North


I’d go there too, if all I’d known
was warped or riven,
to a place of un-diluted light
where the wind comes naked
after its flight over the sea.
I could work, building hatches
to batten, break firewood open
on the blade of an axe, slap up
gull-splattered stone
in a new coat of white.
I’d throw grain for the all-important chickens,
majestic in their suits of henna and rust,
their feet lifted high and placed
so carefully, as if the grass
might hurt. I understand that
the language of rain is common,
and that snow is often spoken,
particularly at night. I’d like to wake
to the silence of still waves,
white horses hitched and rock tethered
under a sky of ice.


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

Sue Barnard – In Denial

In Denial

“I’m not complaining…”
“I’m not suggesting you’re wrong…”
“I’m not being rude…”

“I’m not judging you…”
“I’m not being critical…”
“I love him dearly…”

“I don’t dislike her…”
“I love all my relatives…”
“I’m not a racist…”

I don’t trust people
who make statements such as these,
then add the word “But…”







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.


Fran Baillie – Willowherb


They send out seedsmoke, a nudging, thrusting, abundance
hiding, gliding over fences, hitching rides on unsuspecting sheep;
oozing, cruising the landscape, streaming, teeming magenta.

Each year the same. Hair-triggered by
every wisp of breeze, sailing over roadsides,
golf courses, building sites, aiming to colonise the planet
with rosebay confetti, rising like the phoenix.



Fran Baillie was the only one in the family, apart from the cat, who didn’t have a degree, so she went and got one and began to write and hasn’t stopped since.  She has been published in Octavius, Gutter, Northwords. Glad Rag, etc., and was runner-up in the Wigtown Poetry Competition 2 years ago.

Beth McDonough – Of Seiche and Loch Earn

Of Seiche and Loch Earn


I swim across, past Edinample’s crannog, then

return, sense a drift  that needs corrected. Perhaps

the burn that enters from Glen Ogle gives

some subtle push of limbs.


I learn about the seiche –


here, it patterns sixteen hour long sways,

tuned-in with winds,

has freshwater move like tides.


On All Saints’ Day, in 1755, Lisbon’s earthquake

brought her whole Cathedral down, killed thousands, axed a country’s hopes.

In distant Scottish lochs like this,

seismic seiches were observed.


1914, in Sarajevo, one Archduke lost his life,

and still we souls, who tenant footholds

in our shared world watch,

wonder, fearful, in this geometry, see

oscillations rock in Palestine.



Beth McDonough has a background in Silversmithing, and continues to work in mixed media. She often writes on the subject of a maternal experience of disability, and finds poems walking, foraging and swimming in Scotland’s cold waters.


This is a Stare’s Nest Public Service Announcement to all UK voters

Please could all of you remember
before the 30th of November
that if you want to vote in May
to make sure you can have your say
you need to register on line
so get yourself signed up on time
the government no longer sends
a form by post. We recommend
you don’t delay. And tell your friends.

REGISTER TO VOTE – click here!

Thank you. Normal poetry service will now be resumed.

Laura Kaminski – Babysitting the Next Dalai Lama

Babysitting the Next Dalai Lama

for Kathryn Gessner

They said he said the next
Dalai Lama might be found
outside Tibet —
can you imagine
what it might be like
to babysit?
Not the actual infant,
but before,
for just a day
to harbor
just a spirit, such a spirit,
before it’s joined
to form?
Practising today,
I pretend the child
is at play,
sitting on a small mat
in a chamber
of my heart.
I move through
my work attentively —
I want to nurture
honestly and not deceive,
and so I breathe
more consciously and deeply,
be open to the joy
in every fold of laundry,
let my hands find
in each pocket
that I turn.

Laura M Kaminski grew up in Nigeria, went to school in New Orleans, and currently lives with her husband in rural Missouri. She is an associate editor at Right Hand Pointing; more about her poetry can be found at The Ark of Identity

Clare Hepworth-Wain – Notification



They pay you a visit,

after eight days,

when neighbours complain

of wet walls.

Splinter your door,

heavy footfall

in your one room.

Hear the tap dripping,

see drops bounce and reel

towards the brink,

slip over the edge,

pool on your floor.

So much of it,

that you almost float

water cushioning your fall.




Clare Hepworth-Wain is just starting, this year, to send her poems out and has had them published on the Poetry School Blog, in Nutshells and Nuggets and in the Ex Libris pamphlet Voices and Memory.

Petra Vergunst – Illustration


The celebrated children’s author

takes his pencil
from school to school

he sharpens it
then snaps it,
draws out dismay

binning desire
for linear dreams
adorning blank paper



Petra Vergunst is a freelance community artist, composer and poet. Illustration was written as part of her project Have: Not Have in which she explores ideas of possession and dispossession and what these mean to us in our personal lives.