Dominic Connell – Two Poems

Continuous Improvement

The stars have been corrected; from now on
all twinkles will be synced, repeat at non-
distracting speeds, and standard silver-grey.

And Spring will be induced on the last Sunday
in March each year, to normalise the yield
of joy from sunshine, birdsong, verdant fields
et cetera.

Tonight a pilot scheme
to monitor the contents of our dreams

If only I could recollect
what kind of dream might merit their inspection.

A minute’s silence

Stun your life and drag it to the tip.
Detach the past, your age, your name.
Give any opportunity the slip.
Tell your kids they’ll have to do the same.

Amputate yourself. Be just a grin.
Try scrubbing off imagined dirt.
Harbour petty hopes, then turn them in.
Train yourself to sleepwalk through your work.

Try to make the best of it. Succeed.
Realise how bad the best’s become.
Judge no one, taking note of each man’s deeds.
Resist the urge to reminisce. Succumb.

Get lost, then found. Forget what either means.
Suffer life. Consider being dead.
Aim at neither; loiter in between.
Stand the normal order on its head

then smash your head in. Smash the thoughts inside.
Obliterate the charm, the strange, until
the world as mud brown uniform collides
with where you are just now. Its bitter pill.

Dominic Connell lives in County Kildare and has been published in a number of journals including Magma, Envoi and The SHOp.

Emma Neale – It Beggars Belief

It Beggars Belief

The small change we slip into the beggar’s hand
press there as if it’s a close cousin of love
is like the coin we would drop into the well
at a garden of remembrance:
may this small kindness be the penance
that takes care of the world’s poundings
an offering to the skittish, feral gods of hope
that still crouch somewhere inside
the electric lights and night store heaters,
the fridge’s motor, the stitches in the children’s blankets,
beside the pantry’s packets of red lentils and raw sugar,
under the thin-worn patch of carpet in the hall,
lares et penates,
please bar the terrorwolf, terrorcrow, terrorsun
terrornomics and terrorment
from our doors.



Emma Neale is a New Zealand based writer and editor. Her fourth book of poems, Tender Machines, is due out from the University of Otago press this year. Last year a small selection of those poems was one of three finalists for the inaugural Sarah Broom Poetry Award (won by CK Stead). She very occasionally blogs at and a fuller professional profile is at,%20Emma

Simon Williams – A Martian Rover Sends A Postcard Home

A Martian Rover Sends A Postcard Home

Day is butterscotch, sometimes flesh,
ground is rubble from, perhaps, bombings.
I’ve yet to see a wall or column.

The sea goes out for centuries;
no sparkle from the pea-grain sun,
nothing water over the horizon.

Hills are always too far away,
something to yearn for through winter’s drain
when the epochal wind erodes.

They lead me to impressions
laid down like plastic saucers on a beach.
I ant around, honey-searching.

The little bits are just the same,
nothing wriggles, squints back.
I scoop another cup, build no castle.

Nothing’s green, not even hiding under rocks.
Just more ‘Meh. Try again. Over there’.
They live in hope, like lichen.


Simon Williams has written poetry for 35 years. It ranges widely, from quirky pieces often derived from news items or science and technology, to biographical themes, to the occasional Clerihew. He has five published collections, the latest being A Place Where Odd Animals Stand (Oversteps Books, 2012) and He|She  (Itinerant Press, 2013). Simon was The Bard of Exeter 2013 and has recently founded a new magazine, The Broadsheet ( He makes a living as a journalist.

Karen Jane Cannon – Lunch by the Red Sea

Lunch by the Red Sea

Travelling north to Dahab
we were given cardboard boxes
containing small glazed bread rolls, oranges, cans of coke

to put under our seats. The armed guard sat
with a machine gun slung round his neck, shouting
Yalla! Yalla! to the driver.

No women work here—
in Sharm el Sheikh or Naama Bay. It is men
who serve meals, check us in and out, leave

flowers on pillows.
Visiting a Bedouin tribe, deep
in the desert, we drank Badawi Shai

with men and boys. We could see
the women’s tent, pitched away from ours.
We were told

they never came out— lived a life
of bright slivers of light, snatched
through slit eyelids.

Outside stood a table of brightly coloured scarves—
It was like these women left their souls
at the tent entrance, stitching

their own silence.
At Dahab there were women,
selling braided bracelets from shacks

in this old fishing town.
Lunch was laid out on a huge Persian rug, rows
of little benches under a dome of fabric.

Later as we waited in the coach
by the Red sea. A small girl pushed forward, pointed
under our seats. An older woman peered

round the door. She wants your lunchboxes.
Not a request, a command.
The driver didn’t turn his head.

She wants your boxes
We handed them over, one by one. They walked away
without looking back.

Karen Jane Cannon’s poetry has appeared in many print and online journals including Orbis, Acumen and Obsessed with Pipework. She was shortlisted for the Flambard Poetry Prize 2014.

Shirley Wright – Incarnation

My next incarnation

Next time round, I’m coming back
as one of my cats.

Aristotle believed in the transmigration of souls;
a sound idea when you consider, say,
……………..the viper,
then think of politicians.

If animals can attain to human kind,
then why not the reverse?

I’d love to float in a sailing boat
all the way to the feline dreaming,
emigrate to the benign autocracy
…..of fur and purr
……….and deep, sensual
To switch off election broadcasts
…….and lie all day by the fire’s glow,

Dogs have masters, cats have staff –
then there’s my lot

with acolytes
to worship at their feet,

neat idea …
…………which might catch on.


Formerly a French teacher based in Bristol, Shirley Wright now writes poetry and fiction. Her poems are widely published in, for example, The Interpreter’s House, The French Literary Review, The Sunday Telegraph, and her collection “The Last Green Field” came out in 2013 with Indigo Dreams.

Ben Banyard – Canvassing


I expect you’ll be wanting the usual.
Is it really five years since we last met?
A handshake’s fine, yes, but the baby’s
six now and he might object to a kiss.

I saw you on the local news recently…
if you don’t mind my saying
I think your smile needs work;
less teeth and more eyes, perhaps?

Don’t worry, you’ll have my vote again
but the other lot came round
and there didn’t seem much to choose.
Dad voted for you though, so it’s tradition.

Mind, it’s not as if there’s any point
voting the other way here, is there?
You’ve got quite a majority, we’re loyal.
It’d just be nice to see a bit more of you.

Ben Banyard lives and writes in Portishead. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Popshot, Lunar Poetry, The Dawntreader, Ink Sweat & Tears, Snakeskin, The Stare’s Nest, Sarasvati and others. Ben edits Clear Poetry, a blog publishing accessible contemporary poetry:

John North – Espresso


all the fruits of South America
on the bar

where I
go to work

little finger of a cup and plate
next to a miniature stapler

fridges stocked
and plenty

as a shiny cent.

Everything is gold
pound sterling.

John North was born in the north of England in 1990. Poems have appeared in journals including The NorthKaffeeklatschThe Interpreter’s House, Southword, The Stinging Fly, and in anthologies CAST: The Poetry Business Book of New Contemporary Poets, and The Best British Poetry 2014.

Ron Savory – Seven Deadly Sinners

Seven Deadly Sinners

Oh shit

I’ve forgotten it, my very first lie

If I get it the rest will just flow

I don’t want to go first

Say the wrong thing

Or even much worse

Say Something that rings

Got it, oh no

 That’s too controversial

Thank you goodnight

It has been disproportional

Founder member of ‘The Tin Plate Poets’ a Gwendraeth valley South Wales collective.  Oxford born songwriter / poet Ron Savory’s Poetry first reappeared in 2014/15.  Contributions to publications including Innovate Magazine/ RARA Anthology 1 & 2 / Inky Needles and I Am Not a Silent Poet have led to an invitation to perform internationally at The Promenade Festival 2015.

Peter Adair – Signing Off

Signing Off

Deaf to the clack of all elected tongues
that yelp from benches and boke promises,
he stares at a tie, a rope, that claw
slapping shut his file. Freed, he runs from eyes,
bombs the building, coffins the mouths
that mouth and mouth of jobs that don’t exist.
The affluent air asphyxiates. The sun
paces about its cage. He takes the wrong turn
into a street of screeching birds, shuts out
the light, burrows through the sheets. His fist
could crush this town and smash its face.
(The file is stamped, passed on, marked a case
for action.) The wardrobe creaks its welcome home,
fingers of darkness fumble at his throat.



Peter Adair lives in Bangor, Co Down.  He has been a freelance writer, BBC script reader and bookseller.  He is now on disability benefit.

Bob Beagrie – Ship of Fools

Ship of Fools

When the man with the badge
Relishes the power that it gives
When the man with the spin
Forgets that its paper thin
When the man with the capital
Condemns the one with little
When the sanctions take a bite
Into those who most need care
When the law plays lip service
To faded colours of privilege
When a redefinition of welfare
Is used to profiteer on the poor
When a chance of revolution
Is re-enacted to sell Christmas
When we charge our children
For what we received for free
We’ve stumbled off the map
Into an unfamiliar country
Pretending the words we use
Are somehow fixed to things
Like this ship, that shore
Like home, like us and them

Bob Beagrie  lives in Middlesbrough, has published five collections of poetry to date and is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Teesside University.