Stella Wulf – Simple Liberties

Simple Liberties

When hope returns
with the prodigal Spring
your heart soars like a swift
to the far-fetched blue.

When your children revel
in a reservoir of years
and your parents still tell you
what not to do.

When your cats bring gifts
of fur and feather
and your friends are gracious
and forgive each other.

When tolerance is your home
and freedom, your open doors
when you’ve lived without persecution
never fought in any wars.

When the world’s a swan’s egg
laid in a peacock’s clutch,
you know it’ll crack open
and ugliness will hatch.

Stella Wulf lives in South West France. She has an MA in Creative Writing, from Lancaster University and her work has been widely published, both in print and online magazines and journals. Her poems have been included in several anthologies including, The Very Best of 52, three drops from a cauldron, and the Clear Poetry Anthology. She is also an artist and her work can be seen on her website:

Harry Gallagher – Progress

(After Alan Bennett)
There’s an economic forum
on the television, mother;
they’re hiving off the library,
using words learned from books.
There’s no money in dry pages
being shared around for nowt,
when that dusty old shell
could be a thriving Wetherspoons.
Where instead of education,
which will never pay its way,
the poorest could be helped
into serving knockdown drinks
to the already knocked down,
who know a good thing
when they see it.

Harry Gallagher’s work has been published widely, including 3 pamphlets currently available.  His debut full collection is due in the autumn from Stairwell Books.  He is co-founder of The Stanza at Newcastle and also runs the North East stanza for the Poetry Society.  He performs live up and down the UK.

Marilyn Longstaff – Following the Supreme Court ruling yesterday

Maurice Devitt – Future Proof

Future Proof

I read somewhere
that, after Brexit and Trump,
God had taken
to watching The News
on catch-up, praying
that someone
might intervene.
So I wrote to him,
politely suggesting
that changing channel
could erase
all recent history. 


Maurice Devitt has had poems published in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia, is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

Kate Noakes – Two Poems

Not knowing the difference between weather and climate
In my Girl Guide manual
the Beaufort scale said
nought is a calm day, evidenced
not by scudding clouds or laundry
flapping on the line, the bend
and snap of branches or
a noticeable difficulty walking
but by vertical smoke
the perfect signal from a bonfire
and I remember ten is a hurricane
but there being no eleven
needed now to gauge
overheated hydrogen sulphide
and the dangerous blustery air
commonly known as a trump.
Gold and mirrors give my wife migraines

and we didn’t want to wait for the library

decades before we bind any books
so, we softened the decor.

Chocolate to coffee cream lampshades
go well, don’t you think?

They did a great job, a great job
hiding forearm tattoos in the stitching.

I like the sound when you flick them.
Kind of a drum. Tarum Tarum.

Kate Noakes lives in London and Paris. Her publications include:
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
Paris Stage Left, Eyewear 2017
Website archived by the National Library of Wales

Maggie Mackay – 21st Century Scylla

21st Century Scylla
She was the monster of Homer’s day:
Round her a dozen of feet she is always waving suspended 
Six long sinuous necks outstretching before her and each one
Beareth a head terrific with teeth in a threefold order
Many and thickly arrayed, where gapes death’s cavernous blackness.
This century we face danger more monstrous
than any kraken or squid with dinner plate eyes and coiled arms,
suction cups, horny rings, a tool kit of death.
Not such black inkiness, but smog and smoke from fossil fuels
warm our atmosphere, spawn drought and flood,
glacial melt, a stealthy ocean swell.
Arctic sheets shrink, seasons slip into one another.
Immigrant birds, butterflies and bees decline.
Brian Cox smacks down climate change deniers.


Maggie Mackay is a retired additional support needs teacher, living on the east coast of Scotland and enjoying life as a final year Masters Creative Writing student at Manchester Metropolitan University where she is currently working on her poetry portfolio. She has work in various print and online publications, including A New Manchester Alphabet, Bare Fiction, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, Prole. Indigo Dreams Publishing and in several Three Drops Press anthologies.

Fiona Russell Dodwell – Exit (a haibun)


Increasing personal profiles, positioning for future wins, taking on any portfolio regardless of interest or experience is one thing.  Changing the rules to exclude others when they don’t suit personal aims is another. And mudslinging directed at the very people who are not self-promoting; who have thought through implementation before announcing policy; whose values persist and are not poll-responses; who are working for the many, yet another.

The news about our leaders continues. I notice that the new Prime Minister has removed the words ’climate change’ from the Industry brief; and that it is not mentioned in the Environment brief, either. She must intend a special unit for Climate Change, I think. But no: too hopeful. I remember that she supports fox hunting.  The few should not be given more to the detriment of the many, she says.

Beyond the TV set the birches sway in the wind, bending nearly horizontal when there is a strong gust. 

 I feel desperate, nauseous, go out for fresh air.
  Birch seed – 
        on the doorstep drifts
of tiny doves.
Fianna  (Fiona Russell Dodwell) is from Fife and lives in the Fens. Her first poems were published in Ink Sweat & Tears, and since then she has had about 40 poems published, both online and in print.

Helena Sanderson – Referendum


He threw words like kisses
and they tumbled towards me:
‘…an opportunity for creativity’.
What kind of creativity I wanted to know,
but didn’t ask.

New ways of thinking.
New ways of doing.
Harnessing our rich history
of enterprise and constructing
something new, exciting.
Was that what he meant?

Instead, he lectured me about the accounts
and I thought, well, you can be creative
with them without leaving anything.
But I smiled, said: ‘let’s not argue’.
And he smiled back.


Helena Sanderson is a Lancastrian writer with Cornish heritage. She gained a first-class honours degree in Humanities with Creative Writing and Art History with the Open University and is now studying a Masters in History. Her poetry mainly is concerned with the intricacies and small details of life and landscape.

Stuart Pickford – Danish Industrial Estates

Danish Industrial Estates

should be the town’s parks, lawns lined,
picnic tables made from indigenous timber
where bosses and workers take their lunch,
sleeves rolled up, discussing their children.

A stone henge or simple pillar is common
as is a rose bed. There are no splintered pallets.
The energy is green, from wind turbines:
the horizon is flat, hills are messy.

If trucks are necessary, they’re parked in rows
at the same angle, like avenues of birch.
Such vision shows they’ve got over Abba
and answered the Schleswig-Holstein Question.

Willowherb doesn’t grow out of the pavement.
They have no word for skip and not just
to annoy the Germans. Nothing is budget
or functional. You buy it once and well.

Give me one of these open-planned spaces
with a fountain and the stiff Danish flag;
a home for my primary-coloured family: us
constructing a Lego model of ourselves.


Stuart Pickford is the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award. His first and only collection, The Basics, was published by Redbeck Press (2002) and shortlisted for the Forward Best First Collection Prize. His second book is Swimming with Jellyfish just out from smith/doorstop. Stuart lives in Harrogate and teaches in a local comprehensive school.