Anthology – Issue 4 available

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Issue 4 of the Algebra of Owls anthology is now available, featuring some of the poems that appeared on the site between March and May 2017. As usual, it will be distributed free at events around Yorkshire, or available by post for a nominal fee (see here for details).

The featured poets are Rick Blum, Carole Bromley, Jane Burn, Richard Carpenter, Duncan Chambers, Mike Chin, Mark Connors, Matt Dennison, Julian Dobson, Matt Duggan, Robert Ford, Greg Freeman, David Jibson, Vivien Jones, Maggie Mackay, Andrea Mbarushimana, Clare McCotter, Beth McDonough, Tom Moody, Robert Nisbet, Sue Norton, Craig Patrick, Laura Potts, Lesley Quayle, Belinda Rimmer, Marg Roberts, Alice Tomlinson, Andrew Turner, Claire Walker, J.S. Watts, and Noel Whittall.

Oh… and Algebra Owls is one year old. Happy birthday to us.

Green and Valentine – by Sue Norton


I sniffed the shop’s reek, its textured dust:
satin, gingham, velvet, serge; that whiff
of polished mahogany. The benchmark’s
inlaid inches stitched a golden yard.
The assistant tugged a bolt down, plump,
puffing a pastel cloud. She eased our cloth
through pinching fingers, measuring to
mother’s ask, adding a tuck of slack.
Steel blades rasped, slicing silk.
I hated sewing, loved the words, blazoned
in black-edged gold above the shop-front.
I chanted them in secret, dropped them
like buttons into memory’s glass reliquary:
Green and Valentine. Haberdashery.





Sue Norton has had poems published in various magazines. She lives in York.

The moon has its seen it all before face on tonight – by Andrew Turner


If you could reach that far you would slap it. What’s dull for the moon is life and death for you. At least it still shares its light, although I suspect it’s trying to persuade those clouds to hide it, just out of spite. Finish quickly while you can still see. Dig faster.




Andrew Turner has been published in a number of online and print magazines. He lives in Staffordshire. Also at

Fine and Dandy – by Greg Freeman


Little Plum likes his firewater.
Desperate Dan has diabetes.
Dennis the Menace lived fast,
died young. Walter the Softy
won the Forward prize for poetry.

Hoots! Minnie the Minx is now
Scotland’s first minister.
Bash Street School’s an academy.
Plug lost both legs in Afghanistan.
Teacher leads the Labour party.

Crikey! Snooty shot himself in the foot.
Colonel Blink took over at Ukip.
Oops! Aunt Aggie’s
in a care home, her cow pies
banned by health and safety.

Wammo! Beryl the Peril
got a job in Brussels,
Roger couldn’t dodge
historic sex offences.
Satire’s no laughing matter;
why can’t life still be hilarious?




Greg Freeman is a former newspaper sub-editor, and now news editor at the poetry website Write Out Loud. His debut pamphlet collection Trainspotters was published by Indigo Dreams in 2015.

Chairwoman – by Clare McCotter


Slowly unwrapping her little layers every morning
we soap rinse dry from head to toe
deodorize her musk, perfume her neck and wrist
dress her in clean underwear
colour coordinating outer.
We dampen her hair
styling it the way we think best
we make her bed
chiseling out corners
lining up the shells on the counterpane.
We call her dear, speaking her name over and over again.

Quickly crossing the dayroom floor we all hold hands
reminding her of the day month year.
Near the big blue chair
she birls round  n n n    n n n n
n n n n n
drawing her knees up to her chest
she swings from our arms
like the ball on a strange executive toy   h h h    hh    hh
words smithereened.

Safely strapped in, the air around her writhes
till hands wither
and hang exhausted from the recliner’s arms.
Later we will rouse her for walks –
table – toilet – chair
capsizing her anew with each return.
But at the day’s end
she is quiet.
In the lull between shifts, all is quiet.
The only sound a pen scratching:
Specialised seating as prescribed by medical officer.
Patient appears content. All care given.
Two brown eyes looking out of the dusk, bright and glazed.



Clare McCotter’s poetry has appeared in Abridged, Boyne Berries, The Cannon’s Mouth, Crannóg, Cyphers, Decanto, Envoi, The Galway Review, The Honest Ulsterman, Iota, Irish Feminist Review, The Leaf Book Anthology, The Linnet’s Wings, The Moth Magazine, A New Ulster, Panning For Poems, The Poetry Bus (forthcoming), PoetHead, Poetry24, Reflexion, Revival, The SHOp, The Stinging Fly and The Stony Thursday Book. Home is Kilrea, County Derry.

Metal – by Matt Duggan


We are selling the metal that kills
so we can afford the spoons that feed our children;
then killing them with the metal that we’ve just sold
feeding them with the blood on the spoons from happy meals.

We place them in the hands of our enemy –
How far into this storm must we all walk before we feel the cold?
preferring the shine of killing steel that glinting blue in falling skies
than the breath with flesh applied – prescribing to gain from the metals of subtraction.

The daylight would be our undoing
eyes were transfixed by computer generated handshakes –
division of the heart and soul the lies are the truths of man’s inked ruin
where only smoke rings travel along carpets like tiny drunken mice.





Poems have appeared in The Journal, Prole, The Dawntreader, Ink, Sweat, and Tears, Harbinger Asylum, and The Seventh Quarry. In 2015 Matt won the erbacce prize for poetry with his first collection Dystopia 38.10 and in 2016 he won the Into the Void Poetry Prize. He has a new chapbook out called Metropolis with Hunting Raven Press.

Jam Tomorrow – by Lynda Turbet


I think of promises unkept –
once, a morning spent
stripping an espaliered apricot tree
limbs pinioned against old red brick.
August sun burned us both
as wasps in constant sleepy hum
gorged on fallen fruit
luscious pebbles in uncut grass.

Beyond the garden
cows moaned in nearby meadows
and the dale dipped to road and river
rising again to fields and drystone walls
Pen Hill sketched across a cloudless sky.
Steadily I filled the bowls
carried them to shade
ready for jam.

Split, each fruit revealed
a cluster of white grubs
squirming, fat and foul
sated on juicy flesh.
The compost heap devoured the lot.

I don’t regret the jam – rather
a loss of something purposeful and shared
bridging generations, unaware
this visit was my last
that fruit would hang ignored
and empty jars sit gathering dust and flies.



After decades teaching in the north of England and Scotland, Lynda Turbet now observes the world from rural Norfolk, and tries to make sense of it all through writing.

Milky Way of Moths – by David Gross


Her pale green eyeliner glowed in the dark.
A sargasso sea redhead with a black widow
tattooed on her pale neck, two silver hoops
looped through her left nostril, taking tickets,
righteously stoned, a carnival honeymoon of
maniacal clown laughter, buzzers, sirens,
blood-curdling screams, laser tracers, and
heavy-metal machine-gun fire litanies of gyp.
She’d been on the street since turning twelve,
landed a graveyard shift at Mickey D’s where
she met this guy with a pink mohawk and two
black teardrops inked below his bloodshot eyes,
hovering above humid midwest midways in
small-town fairgrounds that smell of stale beer
and livestock piss, with a clutch of small space
invaders, suspended in shiny fibre-glass saucers
spinning through a Milky Way of moths, beetles,
and various species of flying insects. Then, on
Saturday night they pack up their universe

and drive away. 




David Gross’ most recent collection is Little Egypt (Flutter Press, 2017). He lives with his wife on a small farm in the hills of southern Illinois. He has recent work in Big Muddy, Blue Collar Review, Lilliput Review, Poppy Road Review, Solitary Plover and The Cape Rock.

I Thought – by Lesley Quayle

I Thought

that driving back through Bradford might alleviate
the pain. Its dialects of stone and slate, a slab sky
steamed open on a spout of sunlight.
                                                                   I thought
the narratives of ‘mucky oyl’ and soot stained mills
like teeth gone bad, would sabotage that other,
keener hurt, remind me why
                                                     I thought
it would be fine to leave. The tactics of delusion.
My greener bailiwick of fells and sheep, hay meadows,
black skies wheeled with stars,
                                             I thought
there’s not enough bairns’ tea in all the world
to comfort and my heart’s a blade in my chest.
Back, south, through Bradford
                                                      I thought
to dissolve the ache, like copper pennies
in Coke. But it’s maudlin beneath my skin, I feel
unexpected affection – protective.
                                         I thought
to unpick all the echoes, bridge both
hemispheres –  oasis/sinkhole, National Park or
dreggy, blighted back-to-backs.
                                                      I thought,
I truly thought, that driving back through Bradford
might alleviate the pain.




Lesley Quayle is a poet and folk/blues singer currently living in The Purbecks in Dorset. She has a pamphlet, Songs For Lesser Gods (Erbacce), featuring her prizewinning sonnet sequence of the same name, and a collection, Sessions, published by Indigo Dreams.

Manor Park, E12 – by Julian Dobson


In a city where the stars were out of sight
they named streets after astronomers,
but we were telescoped into a world of fumes
and sirens, burned out cars, abandoned mattresses.

In seven years there were four murders in this road.
The businessman bulleted in his restaurant; the dealer
bludgeoned in an upstairs flat; a man that no-one knew;
and a woman, found face down in a sluice.

But I remember Tony from Dominica, whose laugh
exploded like a Caribbean sun; lonely Krish,
who cooked the best potato curry in the world;
and you, beaming, when you first rode your purple bike.



Julian Dobson lives in Sheffield, home of the famous Henderson’s Relish. His poems have appeared in publications including Brittle Star, The Interpreters’ HouseAcumen, and on a bus in Guernsey. More of his work is here.