The Writing Life – by Alison Lock

I am listening, straining
to hear the ocean
between the rhythm
of the hush and the hush.

The shallow reach extends
with each incoming wave,
every new ripple,
a thought reaching out.

I leave a trail of words
in my wake; curled-up
letters unfurl, expanding
with each new lap.

Paragraphs are castles,
their turrets brittle
as shells gather
in questioning marks

– cockles, limpets, whelks
like consonants
decorate my path
as I move to the edge

along with all the other
fragile-legged creatures,
I am swept into the cool surf,
carried into the deep.



Alison Lock’s poetry and short stories have appeared in anthologies and journals in the UK and internationally. She has published a short story collection, two poetry collections, and a fantasy novella. She has an MA in Literature Studies and Creative Writing. She is a tutor for Transformative Life Writing courses.
Website:   Twitter:  @ali_lock_

I should drive away – by Emma Lee


My black car is my safe place. Like a crystal
hung in a window makes light dance around you
though its centre’s withdrawn, hidden from view.
I’m enclosed, I can move. I’m in control.
I’m in love with this. And the memory
of the precision of your fingers on my skin,
our bodies as sync’d as driver and engine.
My black car is my place of security.
It’s easier to let your ex stay. You cleave
to her. If you had a friend this miserable
with the arguments, this inhospitable
home, you tell me you’d tell him to leave.
My heart thinks of that crystal in your window.
My friend would tell me to slide from your view.




Emma Lee’s recent poetry collection is “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge” (Five Leaves, 2015) and “Welcome to Leicester” (Dahlia Publishing, 2016) and reviews for The High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip and Sabotage Reviews and blogs here

Raptor – by Sharon Larkin


That pupil has seen things
too dark for daytime company.
It pierces social skin,
pinpoints indiscretions
long covered over,
targets acts you chose to hide
beneath layers of pitch.

Deeds at night
find affinity in the depths
of the dilating dot. Do not let
the bluish glow fool you.
It is trompe l’oeil.
There is no enlightenment
in the heart-shaped face.

There, loveless core meets beak,
poised to incise and slice.
That face has an eye

for an eye.



Sharon Larkin’s poems have appeared in anthologies (Cinnamon Press, Eyewear Publishing, Indigo Dreams Publications), in magazines (Prole, Obsessed with Pipework, Here Comes Everyone) and online (Ink, Sweat and Tears, Clear Poetry, The Stare’s Nest).  She regularly performs in Gloucestershire, is Chair of Cheltenham’s Arts Council and Poetry Society and has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing.  Website: here

Normanton is made of dying stars – by Jimmy Andrex


Brian Cox says
everything is falling
in curves,
forever in space-time.

always falling,
collapsing, expanding,
a 96 chemical everything.

Falling in curves
that look like orbits.
worked it all out;

collapsing, like the bloke
on the steps of The Midland,
to his knees like James Brown;

everything slumping downwards,
with the exception of
his pint,
which stays steady as a gimbel,

even whilst falling
he still fights gravity,
to his feet for a fag.

Does anyone in The Midland
give a flying fuck about
or his Special Theory?

A poet passing in a car
might see them instead,
into a clichéd grave

and toss handfuls
of words onto the sinking
But poets don’t know shit,

otherwise there’d be pubs full
of them, creating
from collapsing language,

words sucked inside out
by the massive force of
brains, desperate to escape

the gravity of knowing
that even this
is running out of time.




“Normanton” was written in response to driving through the eponymous quaint market town and seeing people frequently falling over, especially out of pubs.  Jimmy wondered if there were some immutable force responsible for this, as he had been watching “Wonders of the Universe.”  However, he thinks we all must resist the temptation to look down on anything or anybody as we’re all made of the same stuff.

Jimmy is on Soundcloud and on Facebook with Northern Beat Poets.

Alarm – by Finola Scott


4 am and he’s at it.
Yelling against pale day
he feels the weight of sun.
He’s all erect, throbbing red
comb trembling. He’s heavy
tailed, rapier beaked. Unsheathed
his spurs mean business. Crowing
his blood runs with boasts.
Burnished bronze feathers overlay
pitch. His strut marks him.
His eyes fierce as sunrise.



Finola Scott’s poems and short stories are widely published in anthologies and magazines including The Ofi Press, Raum, Dactyl, The Lake, Poets’ Republic, Fat Damsel, and Snares Nest. She is pleased to be mentored this year on the Clydebuilt Scheme by Liz Lochhead. A performance poet, she is proud to be a slam-winning granny.

Epitaph – by W Luther Jett


You wrote my name in stone,
graved it in brass, called me
hero because
that day fire
dropt from the sky
to brand our city, I was
there and did
only what wanted doing.
No more.

And all your flags and flowers —
I never lived to see. Your songs,
those speeches,
the medals —
that morning I wasn’t looking
for any of that.
That day
I only wanted
to get through it.
I didn’t.
And I would give anything

to be
your hero.




W. Luther Jett is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland, whose poetry has been published in numerous journals, including: The GW Review, Poetica, Syncopated City, Synæsthesia, ABRAXAS, Scribble, Beltway, Innisfree, Xanadu, Haiku Journal, Steam Ticket, Potomac Review, and Main Street Rag. His chapbook, “Not Quite” has recently been published by Finishing Line Press.

The Werewolf’s Tailor – by Neil Fulwood


The fabric smooth enough that tufts
of fur fall floor-wards with just
a casual downstroke of the paw.
By which I mean hand; human hand.

The lining crimson as a slashed throat.
I do apologise: a tasteless simile.
But still: the charcoal grey of the jacket
gusted back on an autumn street

and that flash of deep red – profound
red – well, sir, the effect will turn heads,
set the heart of the fashionista
beating faster, divert the dandy

to his tailor’s place of business,
a whole wardrobe of fine garments
ordered on account. Which is as
it should be. If I may take the liberty,

sir, clothes maketh the man –
manners manage a distant second.
The cut and the line, the fold
of the cloth. Thus are we set apart

from the beast. Temporarily, at least.
The craftsmanship is in the stitching,
how it withstands the stretch and strain
of muscle and skin in thrall to the change.



Neil Fulwood is the co-editor, with David Sillitoe, of the anthology More Raw Material: work inspired by Alan Sillitoe. His poetry has featured in The Morning Star, The Interpreter’s House, Prole, International Times and Ink, Sweat and Tears. His debut collection, No Avoiding It, is forthcoming from Shoestring Press in 2017.



Standing Desks Solve Everything – by CL Bledsoe and Michael Gushue


This is not an age for madness – the elegant
virtuosity of wasting away with fantastically
coiffed hair belongs to the mists of another
time. Now, we’re all just synchronizing
our hearts with the clack of keys coming
from all the cubicles whose greyness
we won’t even drown in. Now, we linger
like lonely neighbors invited to parties so we won’t
call the cops. It’s sanity in the same way
Muammar Gaddafi’s cufflinks clattering
through a rain stick is a soothing lullaby.
Don’t listen too closely. It’s mumbling
into the palm over its mouth. Something
about lives of diet perspiration,
something about new boss equals old boss.





CL Bledsoe is the author of a dozen books, most recently the novel Man of Clay and the poetry collection Riceland.

Michael Gushue runs the nano-press Beothuk Books and is co-founder of Poetry Mutual/Vrzhu Press. His work appears online and in print, most recently in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, the Michigan Quarterly, and Gargoyle. His chapbooks are Gathering Down Women, Conrad, and Pachinko Mouth (from Plan B Press).

Waterloo – by Nick Allen


the only reason to come to London is to get lost
to spin in the teeming anonymity

stand still for a minute
stand still for half an hour

and watch nothing happen but furious movement
all with a stare fixed off into the middle distance

Bermondsey    perhaps
this could never be home




Nick gets most of his sustenance from double espressos and malt whisky, and after a lifetime of denial is finally willing to admit his poetry habit in public. First published through the Leads to Leeds project run by Helen Mort, his poems have also appeared in The Cunningham Amendment, Pennine Platform and the Waterworks Anthology, and online at New Boots and Pantisocracies and In Between Hangovers.

Fly Fishing in San Francisco – by Oz Hardwick


Fog sprawls like grey lilies from a dropped bouquet
as the day cools. Beautiful women in rainbow trout saris
swim in shoals down the Embarcadero, flicking tails and
flashing eyes. I sit with a book of poems, sixty years old,
ink still wet, each verse a love letter. I tear out each page,
careful not to disturb the words, fold then into damselflies,
cast them on the breeze. I wait for that special one to rise,
sip the air with full, tight lips, and leap like quicksilver
into the still pool I cup in my moon-curved hand.




Oz Hardwick is a York-based poet, photographer, and academic. His latest poetry collection is The Ringmaster’s Apprentice (Valley Press, 2014), and he is co-author, with Amina Alyal, of the Saboteur-shortlisted Close as Second Skins (IDP, 2015). He has delusions of musical competence, and his one regret is that he is not Belgian. His website can be found here.