Natalie Shaw – Amitriptyline / At Mortlake Crematorium

Amitriptyline/At Mortlake Crematorium

The last time I saw you. You were sitting
at my table and you said, “He’s less
aggressive every time I see him.” You’d written
so very kindly, with such carefulness,
you were a gentle man. You held my hand –
odd, in retrospect. You said one friend
would make a difference and it made me glad;
you could be right. You knew that was the end
but I did not. All the things about you –
your love of social housing, countertenors,
the pills you took for years, that huge
weight of sadness never lifting – they lost
their home and flutter here and there like ghosts,
an absence I can’t house; I look; it’s gone.

Natalie Shaw lives and works in London, and her poems can be found in Fake Poems, Domestic Cherry, Antiphon 11 & 12, Butcher’s Dog, and Ink Sweat & Tears. She writes occasionally at

Jude Cowan Montague – Bedlington Pears

Bedlington Pears

I drew a picture of my terrier
bouncing on a trampoline
to knock the high pears down.

The idea was his:
he would jump out of our bedroom window
onto the taut cloth

and ricochet up into the cornucopia where
juicy fruit would go flying,
whacking in yellow and lilac on our heads.

I scrawled the mayhem in my sketchpad
where it makes me laugh,
I notice in self-analysis

my character owes some provenance to the pup’s ingenuity
in Roobarb and Custard.
Good boy, curly boy.

White rims round your eyes
underline the head-strain
as you swizzle your big nose about

at the sound of voices.
The tree’s a stump,
cut down in hard grief

for next door’s son, accident prone
at university, fatally so.
He fell through a glass roof into shatters.

But Solly’s still here, aren’t you Solly?
He’s bounding to the back fence
to bark at the park.



Jude Cowan Montague has worked as an archivist on the Reuters Television collection for ten years, cataloguing news and interpreting video in poetry form. She is an award-winning printmaker and musician.

Fiona Sinclair – Wonderland


Illuminated photographs of lilies
invite us to drown our sorrows.
Economy of space means comfy seats
are placed uncomfortably close.
Beside me is a woman whose bulk
is not loss of control but a massing of strength.
She is painted in colours that nature
warns are dangerous;
aggravated by a comedy hat.
In her urgency to organise her weekly medication,
she overwhelms a small table,
loudly tabulating her days.
On my right is a man dressed
elegantly to disguise his status,
who betrays himself with a
monologue into a mobile.
Suddenly, he demands more than
silent agreement from his listener.
Instinctively half turning his body
in a cue for privacy, he extorts loyalty
with the clichéd line ‘I can’t do this on my own’,
that seems inadequate to his demand,
but he charges it with a tone of ferocious despair,
that carries a threat to them both.
This is a waiting room for patients whose
afflictions have turned them inside out.
Despite the walls’ attempts at tranquillity
our symptoms’ like unruly pets’ will not be house trained.

Sarah James – Summit


How many protesters does it take
to change a global light bulb? Let’s see.

Gathering force at Point Lay, walrus
drag themselves onto an Alaskan beach.

No ice edge to ride in shallow Chukchi;
these mammals almost too tired to dive.

Thirty-five thousand raise tusks skywards
as their old platform recedes north,

leaving them bald water and a new ledge –
over a two-mile drop of Arctic Ocean.

Too far down to seabed clams; hunger gnaws.
I see our shelves bared of food for our children,

their eyes sunk to shadow, chests shrunk
to rib cage, each heartbeat forced across skin,

crowds crushing stores, explosions of glass,
anger, knives…houses looted, feared husks

left behind, leaving… More home thaws;
the walrus mass instead on the nearest shores.

This was written in response to the latest warning sign of global warming. Retreating sea ice has caused walrus to mass on the coast of north-west Alaska ( ).

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.

Peter Raynard – Shooting Words Back at the Powerful

Shooting Words back at the Powerful

(for George Monbiot)

There can be no collateral damage when

kinetic activity gives an extraordinary rendition

that cleanses the stock of fraud and error

thus neutralising operatives in compounds that bulge

of stock not worth the full wage ending powerful

benefit units of asset classes who bake and shake

then mow the lawn causing bug splats. These are not

human capital they are illegal aliens whose neutraliser

will be crowned a completer.

Peter Raynard is a poet, playwright, editor and blogger. His poems have appeared in South Bank Poetry, New Left Project, Happenstance, and Verbatim Poetry. He edits the blog, which features different aspects of working class poems from various poets. @proletarianpoet; @peter_raynard See Morning Star Article,

His two Arab Spring plays have been performed at The Nightingale Theatre in Brighton and Space Arts Centre, London.

James W. Wood – The Longitudinal and Short of It

The Longitudinal and Short of It

for Andrew and Lindsey


Longevity risk is a global problem,
The poor are still here and there’s more of them.

Mortality Q-forwards, longevity swaps
Pay them less and less ‘til they all drop.

Longevity indices help quantify mortality
Work all your life and be subject to depravity.

A graphical longevity risk metric
It’s best to die young from cigarettes and sex.

Building an effective longevity hedge
Much more of this and you’ll jump off a ledge.

The data invariant property model
Better to blaze out than subsist in a hovel.

Blended algorithms drive K requirements down
It’s fear of death that keeps us paying these clowns.

K(t)1 represents the mortality curve
I demand to live; I refuse to bow and serve.

Joint prediction samples help quantify uncertainty
Walk tall, love and thrive: fear God only.

Zero-coupon swap CBD based on K-region
Let their money choke them: we are legion.



James writes: I’m the author of three pamphlets of poetry and a full-length collection, The Anvil’s Prayer, published in 2013; I am just completing my second collection, Time Signatures, from which these poems are taken. Individual poems, articles and reviews have appeared in The TLS, Poetry Review, The London Magazine, Critical Quarterly, AGNI (USA), The Boston Review (USA), The Fiddlehead (Canada) and many others. I am on the shortlist for the Live Cannon poetry award 2014, and will appear in the forthcoming poetry anthology, #1, by Vanguard Editions, curated by Richard Skinner. In 2014, I have read in the UK, Ireland and Canada and currently live in Toronto.

For more, please see my publisher’s website:, or my amazon author page here:

Richie McCaffrey – Old Friend

Old friend

“Tell me now, old friend, when you gonna let me be?”     The Allman Brothers Band


I don’t quite know how it came to this,

but if I have to take up arms against you


I’ll draw them from the auction houses

and antique shops; old muskets, sabres.


I’ll be relieved when I can’t find, let

alone afford them, and I’ll grow calm.


Gone are our nights of righting the world,

of drinking like we were bailing it out –


we knew too much about each other

and nothing at all of ourselves.




Richie McCaffrey’s collection Cairn was published recently by Nine Arches Press



Neil Fulwood – Midnight is like midday

Midnight is like midday

Midnight was like midday as illumination flares
were dropped to light up the city.

– Rania Elhilou, ‘Crisis in Gaza’,

The ceasefire was brief. Now the shelling
has resumed. The streets are silent
as if even the buildings are holding their breath,
tensing themselves for impact
or aftershock. Midnight is like midday.

A fuel dump goes up. The power station falters.
Windows drained of light are like eyes
squeezed shut to keep from seeing. Silhouettes
of apartments merge with an older
deeper darkness. Midnight is like midday.

Illumination flares scream over like mortars,
plugging the sky into a split-second
treachery of sheet lightning, making an x-ray
of the city. A photograph in negative
writing its own headline. Midnight is like midday.

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.

Annemarie Ni Churreain – Protest


One cut and the hair worn since childhood
fell upon the floor
dead soft.

A spear-thistle;
her new, bald skull
refused order.

She belonged to heather
and in tail-streams
cupping frogs,

in the small, green pulse of life
between palms,

not here:
at the dark centre of reunions, separations,
starved of air.

This was a protest of love, against love
sun, rain, wilderness.

From a finger, she slid a band
placed it underfoot,
pressed down

until the stone
made the sound of a gold chestnut
cracking open.



Annemarie Ni Churreain
Fall 2014 Writer-In-Residence
Kerouac House

Sharon Larkin – Flesh (1 & 2)

Flesh 1

There was no stench of innards,
no accusing eye.
Belly and head had been disposed of
after the drawing, the hanging.

Now the Fleischmeister stood
cleaver in hand, smaller blades
and scalpel ranged at his side
ready to reduce the body further.

It was obvious by his speed
that he was an expert quarterer,
a serial offender.
Soon the corpse was hacked

and sliced small enough for us,
his accomplices, to stuff into bags:
rib, rump, loin, fillet,
blade, brisket, shin.

Flesh 2

In the kitchen, Irene slices bacon,
plans family-friendly menus.
Tonight she’ll render down rinds
for dripping, to fry tomorrow’s belly pork.

At the sausage factory, the thirty-five-year old
flashes his gold tooth at a new recruit,
studies the curvy teenager,
the straining poppers of her overall.

In his back room, grey-haired Stanley
leaves his young friend hanging
in cyberspace, lifts his stew-stained mac
off the hook, sets out for an eyeball.

At the corrida, a scar-cheeked matador
executes wild veronicas with scarlet cape,
lines up sword with hump on bull’s back,
looks forward to a new pair of ears.

All along the border, the warmonger
drops gutturals from scarcely open lips,
redeploys missile brigades,
anticipates an evening barbecue.



Sharon Larkin has been published in anthologies, journals and ezines,

including May Day (Cinnamon), Heart Shoots and Reach (Indigo Dreams), Here Comes Everyone (Silhouette), Parenting (Mothers Milk) and Fit to Work – Poets against Atos. With a passion for Welsh language and literature, she has also translated Eisteddfod poems into English, reviewed A Life of Guto’r Glyn by E A Rees (y Lolfa) for Iota magazine and taught Welsh for Adult classes for Coleg Gwent. Sharon is chair of Cheltenham Poetry Society, running workshops, writing groups, retreats, readings and recitals throughout the year. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Gloucestershire.