Occasion for a sonnet – by Maureen Curran


I caught you disposing of a dead bird –
remembered you once buried a stray cat
we’d made a pet of, before I got home –
so many useful little censorships.

I don’t believe I have surrendered nor
set back sixty years of feminism
if I admit, in this poem, right now,
that I fell for you all over again.

I could have written about fate or God
whatever unseen forces plot our course.
How we don’t get to glimpse very often
what it is that eases our way, shields us.

But let’s call it love, identify how
we shelter one another day to day.




Maureen Curran is from Donegal, Ireland. Her poems have appeared in Boyne Berries, Crannóg, Envoi, Poetry Bus, Revival, the Stony Thursday Book, Skylight 47, online at Honest Ulsterman, Lake Poetry, Southword, Spontaneity, and Word Bohemia. She blogs with her group here and tweets @maureenwcurran


Winners! November/December Readers’ and Editor’s Choice Poems

The winner of the November/December poll for the Readers’ Choice Award is:

Religion of the Species – by Giles Turnbull

…and a coveted prize mug will soon be on its way to Giles.

The Editor’s Choice Poem is:

Sound Bank – by Marilyn Longstaff

selected by Anne Caldwell who said:

“It was a delight to be asked to read the poetry of Algebra of Owls for this issue. The work was wide ranging and inventive. I would like to commend ‘Casting Call’ for its gentle, self-depreciating humour and ‘Leaving Russia’ for the inventiveness of the image of ‘storing promises’ in kneecaps, and its dignity of tone. 

I choseSound Bank’ as the Editor’s choice. I particularly enjoyed the sensory nature and pathos of this poem. It was unusual and original to read a piece of work that focused on sound rather than sight. The attention to detail in this piece was very clear, as well as the emotional impact of losing hearing. It was a poem that quietly grew on me the more I read it. It wasn’t trying too hard, but the choice of language and form felt right, and the writing was not over-worked. A pleasure to read. “

Platform – by Clint Margrave


I read that Kepler is in critical condition.
Should a space telescope have the right to die?
And why does McDonald’s only sell
Happy Meals? Depressed kids need to eat too.
I got my DNA kit results this morning. Turns out
I’m mostly white, but one fourth cynical,
and a ninth about to cry. A student brought up
that old joke about majoring in underwater
basket weaving. What is that? Am I the last to know?
He said baskets are woven underwater because
the wood is easier to bend. At first, I heard
“world” instead of “wood.” The DNA test also
revealed I’m 20% deaf, but mostly dumb.
At the bookstore they used to call me “Rock Star.”
It never bothered me until now. Back then I thought
I would be a rock star. Nothing hurt back then.
Not even rejection. Rejection was just action.
Now action carries a cane and loses its train
of thought sometimes. What is a train of thought
anyway? What kind of tracks are needed for it?
Is there a caboose? A bar? Does it require
reservations? Are there assigned seats or do I
just get on? Will a conductor ask to take my ticket?
What will I see when I look out the windows of a train
of thought? How fast can it go? Where do I
wait for it? What time does it arrive?





Clint Margrave is the author of Salute the Wreckage (2016) and The Early Death of Men (2012), both published by NYQ Books. His work has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, as well as in New York Quarterly, Rattle, Cimarron Review, Verse Daily, The American Journal of Poetry, Word Riot, and Ambit (UK), among others. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

“codeine… bourbon” – by Henrik Aeshna


the sin of metamorphosis was our biggest one

next time we meet
i wanna take you to the mountains of nysa
aboard a secret showboat made of
dead leaves
& listen to yr mad voice vomiting my name
like a pagan grenade against the sky of notre dame

this wine
this sweet wine
yr pain is too precious to end up in a mental hotbox
mumbling “moon river” in the dark with a mouthful of shipwrecks
eviscerated alive while dirty diggers & foxes bay for yr blood on wall street
& cinderella’s haemorrhoids become a widely acclaimed broadway show

(while babylon burns myriads of candle flies storm the
sky in a last farewell waltz
– I hear the santoor of birds)

time is honey my corn husk doll
& love
is a washing machine

we’ll live like furcifers on the run
among ancient operas & satin spars
beryls selenites &
gypsum flowers
& send them vintage postcards



* “codeine… bourbon” : Tallulah Bankhead’s last words
Note: ANN TREVOR : My Sin is a 1931 American film directed by George Abbott. The film stars Tallulah Bankhead.



Henrik Aeshna is a poet & multimedia artist living in Paris. In 2009, he sold off Van Gogh’s ear in ground beef packages at a kiosk outside the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. He has organized/engaged in diverse performances, manifestations and participations in Paris, London and elsewhere. www.henrikaeshna.org

Definition: Woman – by Maggie Mackay


1. Amazon

Zoe/Helena/Atalanta is a member of a forceful race of warriors. She wears a tattooed skin of painted whirls and lines. She’s quite a sight. Inside her heart, a trumpet blast of generations gone before her. Independently minded, like a goshawk as it hovers on the thermals over summer fields. Kill. Wing it back to the eyrie. Tear the flesh, spit the bones.

2 . Jezebel

Scarlett/Tallulah/Zelda flouts where the average woman conforms. Once a pure being, gossip has it that she is a fallen woman, swears, takes the walk of shame at dawn, broken heels wobble in the gutter, cleavage exposed.
A poor version of Holly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, she inhabits a street of loneliness. window browsing. Litter drifts by.

3 . Lass

Bess/Tess/Peggy is a farmer’s daughter. Married young to a neighbour’s son she met at a Saturday dance. Her skin glows rose-blush through every season, even after giving birth six times. She rises with the sun, bakes scones without burning them. No one expects her to change. Her soul harbours thunder.

4 . Cougar

Eve/Nicole/Goldie is a forty-year-old city wildcat. Sharp talons worked on stone. She hunts toy boys without mercy. Writes the rules. Three essential attributes – to be active, fit, ambitious. One Achilles heel, neediness. It trips her up a month and a day into a relationship. The man runs.

5. Diva

Shirley/Mariah/Barbra bursts into a power ballad, avoids eye contact, demands, demands more. Her pet pug, Basil, goes where she goes and in a willow basket lined with faux fur. She is never on time for other people but expects to start on time. The divine right belongs to her. Every diva is world class in her field.

6 . Hen

Isa/Netta/Betty is a west coast of Scotland bird. She is loved in Springburn/Govan/Bellshill and by every bus driver when she pays her fare.
Messages bought, she’s heading home at winter teatime or off to work on a predawn morning. He cheers her with a casual smile, hen or Glasgow banter. The change tinkles as her heels clip down the aisle.





Maggie Mackay, a Scot and recent Manchester Metropolitan University MA Poetry graduate, has work in a range of print and online publications such as Ink, Sweat & Tears, Prole ,Three Drops Press and Atrium. The editor of Amaryllis nominated her poem ‘How to Distil a Guid Scotch Malt’ for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem, 2017.


Time to Vote – Readers’ Choice for November/December

The dust has settled on Christmas and New Year and we hope all our readers are hale and hearty. Now it’s time to get back to poetry, and here are the most popular five poems from the November and December postings. Usual drill. Please vote, and the poll will close and the winner be announced on 12th January. The author of the winning poem will receive the customary Algebra of Owls prize mug.