Nail Artist – by Maggie Butt


Masked like bandits, surgeons, or Chinese
commuters to evade the vapours, dusts and mists,
the ethyls, methyls, butyls poisoning our air.

We make muffled small-talk, ever smaller and smaller
while clients’ fingers spread under magnifying glass
huge as hands in a child’s painting.

Then I am miniaturist, Hilliard and Holbein;
each nail’s a canvas for op art, Bridget Riley,
neons, tribals, foils and stripes. Pop-arrazi Pose.

When I look up, Brunelleschi invents perspective,
these fingers join to a figure which stretches,
stands and walks from my here into distance.

Outside the salon window, evening: Midnite Moonlight
Sky High, Out All Nite, slashed through with Confident Coral
Sweet Sixteen and Some Like It Hot. Sunset world.

I draw my eyes back in and down, bending
my head like a nun. Recite my rosary:
Foxy Roxy, Guilty Pleasures, Standing Ovation.




Maggie Butt has published five poetry collections and a novel. Her most recent poetry collection is Degrees of Twilight (The London Magazine 2015). She is an Advisory Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund and an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Middlesex University where she’s taught Creative Writing since 1990. Previously, she was a journalist and BBC TV documentary producer. Her poems have escaped the page into choreography, a geo-locative mobile phone app, and live musical accompaniment.

Dark – by Patricia Nelson


The dark opens
like a bird or a refrain,
makes loud the forest.

They speak in calls and whistles
who come to the unfamiliar dark:
The death apart from speech.

They gather the meaning
not with tooth or voice or claw,
but with a savage wonder.

The light is small and subtle
that moves in the branching dark
like finch or aspen leaf.





Patricia Nelson is a retired environmental attorney who has worked for many years with the “Activist” group of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her most recent book is Spokes of Dream or Bird (Poetic Matrix Press).

Kwa-Zulu Natal, late August – by Fiona Cartwright


All afternoon we drive
past No Hawking signs beside
orange sellers in full sun, dust
coiling round their toes, unsheltered
by the bony branches of the trees.
There are only oranges to sell,
the fruits clinging to each other,
an outbreak of harvest moons,
the tiny navel hanging from each apex
an ungrown twin. No-one can buy

such an overflow of oranges,
although we try, squeezing
the last taste of a dry season
into our mouths. All afternoon,
I pass you segments, the juice gluing
your hands to the steering wheel.
I lick at the sap
dripping from my lip,
let you spit pips into my open hand.




Fiona Cartwright is a conservation biologist, poet and mother of two young daughters who lives near London, but wanders elsewhere as much as possible. Her poetry has previously appeared in various publications, including Mslexia, Butcher’s Dog, Envoi. Under the Radar and Ink, Sweat & Tears.

i compare everyone to my meth addict rights advisor – by Ryan Kelley


so its like this, she
leans out with skirts and canvas shoes
street art should be ephemeral
she says
what matters is time
and how much is left to climb
since then flustered, hallucinating, glowing at the meet
those autos look like ghosts
out at midnight to cop hugs and randoms
knifed wheels spin another sweater out
its all cool
to taste charcoal
she crept across with those gaunts
pretty for her age, aged for her youth
gold light soul so
hearts trying to beat the same
but off key, off kilter, atonal, atoning, gabbering rain




Ryan Kelley is a consumer-survivor of schizophrenia and associated issues. He was born the year they invented intersectionality and is in love with the moon when it’s waning anorexic.

You Don’t Fit The Way You Used To – by Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe


I am unable to explain my inadequacies
to your nearly five year old stamping foot.
How you have grown too heavy for my weak hip.
You were too heavy in my womb, your growing body
creating a weak spot in mine.
A hinge that crumples under the weight of you.

I cannot carry you home.




Zoë is a Poet and Mum from Dukinfield. She has an MA in Poetry from Bath Spa University. Her work has appeared in Magma, Atrium, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Picaroon and The Black Light Engine Room amongst others.

another country – by Tristan Moss


five domes rise
calyxes in a Red Square sky

echoes of the cedar cone
open into petals

tops curling down
soft as a bottom lip

a pout, silken, promises
and I want to

pick one to send to you
but know it would never survive



Tristan Moss lives in York with his partner and two young children. He has recently had poems published in The Poetry Shed, Antiphon, Snakeskin, Amaryllis, Lighten Up Online, Open Mouse, Picaroon Poetry and Algebra of Owls.

Guest Editor November/December – Ian Harker

The Editor’s Choice poem for November/December will be selected by Ian Harker.

Ian Harker-1

Ian’s debut collection Rules of Survival was published by Templar Poetry in 2017. Most recently he’s been poet in residence at the Henry Moore Institute and runner-up in the BBC Proms Poetry Competition. He’s co-editor of Strix magazine, which was shortlisted for a 2018 Saboteur Award.