Normal Service may be restored shortly.

What an enormous and farcical and devastating cock-up this country has visited upon itself! It is literally unbelievable, and it makes one believe that Churchill was right:

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

I’ve been having a lot of those five-minute conversations over the last three months, heading out through Teesdale with a trusty band of Labour Party activists, both under our own banner and with the “Stronger IN” campaign. And I can say we met some astonishing reasons to be tearful along the way. We are gutted. We did all we could and it wasn’t enough.

So I am sorry – I have not yet read all the entries to the Fledgling Award. I need to get to it this week and send my top ten to Martin Figura for judging. I thank you for your understanding. Some lovely work has come in so far, my Poets of a Certain Age.

Meanwhile, if this referendum hasn’t given you a prompt to write to, I’d be gobsmacked. So send me a few gems to express your thoughts on that hopeful world we are looking for, and we will get them on the Nest. I expect many of you are looking for rhymes for Boris.

Meanwhile I can’t take my eyes off Twitter. I keep meaning to turn my writing blog at into a political blogging site. But does the world really need another political blogger? Besides, I am not as cute as Owen Jones.

John Donne – Meditation XVII

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man
is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine;
if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe
is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as
well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine
owne were; any mans death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Mankinde;
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

Norman Hadley – What Would You Die in a Ditch to Defend?

What Would You Die
in a Ditch to Defend?

No more ditches; fill
the rigg-and-furrowed
brow of Europe, break
bread together, listening
only to the thin rain
of poppy seeds on crockery.




Norman Hadley is an engineer and mathematician who writes poetry, short fiction, children’s fiction and cycling-related nonfiction to keep all the hemispheres occupied. He’s produced five poetry collections so far and frenetic participation in Jo Bell’s “52” project has generated sufficient material for five more.


Dominic Connell – Pylons


Abroad, I watched each nation that I drove through
parade its own mutation of the strawman theme;
the giant steeple ladder, coat hangers en masse.
a robot flying kites across a bypass,
the largest lit at night to ward off aircraft.

They flashed their constellations over autobahns
as I washed in from France, the game then little more
than seeing how far, door to door, a long weekend could last.
Due east to Eisenach, for one. Or south, Locarno.
You were the proverbial in my eyes back then

of course, as far fetched as the electricity
that races at our beck and call. Yet you
are the event against which change is quantified,
the benchmark for its worth and full extent.
The proof that every circuit finds its earth.

At home, the native cut-and-pasted model
impersonates a budget Eiffel Tower
as far as I can see. On autumn days
they sound like humming fridges from the hill where we,
because you’re here now, stop the car to trace a powerline’s
…………………………………………..          ……………..graceful curve.

Geraldine Green – Razor Wired

Razor Wired, a Found Poem

“The thousands of orange lifejackets
that once lined the shores
have been cleared away.
The beaches are back to normal.
But make no mistake: Lesbos
is not quiet and tidy because
people have stopped fleeing war.
Instead, the men, women
and children 
who risked everything on
rubber boats 
are now detained
behind fences, 
far from European eyes
on the other side of the coast, 
in a black hole.
I could have never imagined
that children, pregnant women,
the elderly, most fleeing war,
would have been fenced in
by razor wire
with the gates closed,
on European soil.
And I cannot find
an acceptable explanation
for why Europe
is allowing this
to happen. ”

— Federica Zamatto, MSF Medical Coordinator for Migration Programmes 15 April 2016

scribed by Geraldine Green 19.4.2016


“Geraldine Green’s poems are alert to landscape, seasons, rootedness that draws from deep aquifers of language, change that flits like cloud shadows across the page. Some seemed light as thistle heads but proved enduringly strong, rich with seed. As I read, I almost expected goldfinches to feed alongside me with their otherworldly attentiveness. But that attentiveness was all hers.” – Graham Mort

Writer-in-Residence Brantwood
Assistant Editor Poetry Bay

Salt Road (pub. by Indigo Dreams)

“Geraldine Green’s passion for and knowledge of the natural world and its spiritual energies has its roots and takes its cue from home ground, her native Cumbria.  She has noted her long and deep connection with Cumbria. She draws inspiration from light over water, tidal energy, the intent of the land combined with rich tellings of family and local memory.  But her poems and prose-poems also travel the roads and the seas:  from Cumbria to Kansas, New Mexico, Spain, Greece, New York, Skye and Turkey.

This poet takes her place in contemporary poetry with work that shines with joy in and respect for language.  The vitality of life’s many experiences are evoked here with all the senses.”

Penelope Shuttle

Christine Cochrane – What the guide said

What the guide said

Frauenkirche, Dresden, 2016

The dark stones are from the original church, the guide said.  Dirty stones
salvaged, sorted, bonded to bright new ones, machine cut. Many died here;
bones crushed, homes destroyed.  Silence and smoke drifted over chaos.

We lift eyes to the dome’s bright bulk against the blue where our planes,
pregnant with bombs, once droned in black night.  The dome dominates,
too large for the church beneath, dwarfing the statue of Martin Luther.

He spoke the language of the people so that all could read the word of God
in their own tongue, the guide said. Behind us cameras click; a thousand voices
speak different languages; spoons clatter on silver metal tables of street cafes.

The church stands firm, symbol of peace and reconciliation, organ music
singing through an open door. And in this film set of buildings, this city
sanitised, reconstructed, reshaped, we try to comprehend the invisible past.

Christine Cochrane was born in Torphins, Aberdeenshire, and is a graduate of St Andrews University. After a career in language teaching, she studied Creative Writing with the Open University and won third prize in the Mslexia Women’s Short Story Competition 2014 with ‘Shifting sands’, set in South Uist and Benbecula. She writes in both English and German. The German version of ‘Shifting sands’ has been published  by Edition Narrenflug in the anthology ‘Weibsbilder’.

Christine’s short story collection ‘Shifting Sands: Tales of Transience and Transformation’ was published in November 2015. The print version is available from and the ebook is on Amazon Kindle.  Her poems have appeared in two anthologies of Cumbrian writers ‘Watershed’ and ‘Write on the Farm’ (Harestone Press)

Christine lives in Cumbria, but is regularly drawn back to her native North East Scotland and the beaches and hills of the Western Isles.


Stu Buck – Raekoja Plats

Raekoja Plats

The sun rises over Raekoja Plats
Flooding the ancient square with pastel beams
As from all corners come a-shuffling
The flower ladies of Tallinn

Tourists glide past with steaming elk pies
And carved wooden trinkets
As the ladies who welcomed Hitler
(for he was a step up from Stalin)
Set up their creaking tables

The ladies lay out flowers and ornate berries
Picked fresh from the roadside
Arthritic bones and a century of memories
Begin another day of begging 

Around the corner in Empire
Where the shots come in test tubes
And cost five Euros for a rack of ten
The stag parties whirl and crash into life 

By lunch the crowds are singing
Across town the Freedom Monument
Is drenched in piss and lager
A rite of passage for British warriors 

I walk past the table
And buy a bunch of flowers
But not from the usual lady
I am told she fell in the night
And has been replaced by her daughter 

The sun sets over Raekoja Plats.

Stuart Buck is a poet and writer living in North Wales with his wife and two children. His poetry and prose have been widely published in journals such as Acumen, The Stare’s Nest, Cultured Vultures, Deadsnakes, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Erbacce Journal, The Haiku Journal, Rats Ass Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, The Tanka Journal, The Seventh Quarry, Walking is Still Honest, Yellow Chair Review, The Sunflower Collective and Under the Fable. He has been a featured poet in both FIVE magazine, Poetry Super Highway and poetrykit. His debut collection ‘Casually Discussing the Infinite’ will be released October 2016 by Snow Leopard Publishing. When he is not writing or reading, he enjoys juggling, cooking and ambient music.

Kate Noakes – Brexit on the Askew Road

Brexit on the Askew Road

If we do leave
my upstairs neighbour may return
to France; and the others to Poland.
Snatches of morning chat
will be understood. Pity.

If we do
the wine shop’s stock will be
out of reach, its cheese board
smaller, blander. A pity.

If we
the florist may go back
to Holland; bunches, bouquets
and all. A bloomin’ pity.

the taverna, trattoria, tapas
may turn into hipster
bakery-cafés. There’s already three.
More’s the pity.


Kate Noakes lives in London and Paris. Her Blog – archived by the National Library of Wales is at

Published works –
Ocean to Interior, Mighty Erudite, 2007
The Wall Menders, Two Rivers Press, 2009
Cape Town, Eyewear Publishing, 2012
I-spy and shanty, corrupt press, 2014
Tattoo on Crow Street, Parthian, 2015

Sarah Wedderburn – Pavement café

Pavement café

Not long ago I drank coffee to winter’s plain speaking, my days
dullish but simple, till that rough brown sameness
burst into blossom froth and the old magic spring came back,
a killer. How can the world take so much whoosh?

This green won’t stop. After her 6am class that banker girl
had a pre-office blow-dry, protein smoothie in hand, schedule
ticking. By 8.15, in McQueen, and Charlotte Olympia
heels, she was dealing. I won’t go on. It’s crazy,

as if cuckoos and cow parsley were not enough. And here is
Liverpool Street on a warm May evening. Is that champagne,
on the brink of Brexit? I feel old. Why do madmen want
to be presidents? And what will we do with the children,
with all those flotsam children?

Natalie Shaw – Hackney Lido with the Nuttalls

Hackney Lido with the Nuttalls

Serena says it’s like dying every time.
Jean-Philippe brought flippers for his hands.
We took the baby, she turned blue and cried.

Rare and precious, from another land,
my friends arrive. They swim at Hackney Lido.
In Sacré Cœur, we just fit on their floor

They make a camp for the bigger kids, we go
to the foot of their cathedral and play boules,
eat merguez in a cafe, drink red wine.

The water shines and pebbles on the tiles
I hold the baby, shiver on the side;
the Nuttalls neatly stipple through the light.


Natalie Shaw works hard for a living.Her poems appear in various print and online journals and anthologies, most recently Pod and Chronicles of Eve.