The Strange Wistfulness of Old Book Shops – by Carl Nelson


Old bookshops sell a wish for the world to stop –
for the dead to go on living,
for heroes to remain so,
and the girls ever lovely.

There’s the bouquet of old cardboard, paper, glue and ink
stacked and staggered on the desk in the dim light.
Squeezing narrow aisles are the wisdom of lives
filed by narrow notions,
the helter-skelter, hodge-podge of ideas in retreat.

Old bookshops make me pensive
of neglecting my elders
with their dour, dusty commentary
shouting my ignorance.

Youthful passions, now at rest
in their retirement, emeritus,
use a cane now to get
from one brittle page to the next.

The forewords believe in predestination.
The contents shake a dry husk,
and the glossary’s passe.

Faded customers discuss castoff loyalties,
whose glittering silhouettes
waltz in memories
towards the bestseller lists.

Wistfulness coughs up its phlegm
with each chime of the register.




Carl Nelson lives in a small town on the Ohio River and runs a Poetry Series which meets monthly at the Serenity Coffee House in Vienna, WV.  Every day he works on poems and mosies about with his dog Tater Tot, thinking up something practical he’s accomplished to tell the wife. 

Until the Next Time – by Patrick Deeley


i.m. Robert May, died July 1st, 1916


‘God might…’ he wrote, by way of ending his letter
from the trenches, but any thought he held
of saying more to his friend, your grandfather,
stopped, the shell upsetting everything
in his vicinity, the pages blown free by the blast,
and with them his ‘Thanks for the razor,
it is a good one’; his ‘Sorry to hear about Tony,
such things will happen’ – war or death
not otherwise referenced; his ‘I have said all until
the next time’ left hanging as he is tossed
into the air, a few drops of his blood splashed against
the floating white space he must have looked
hard at for a moment before deciding
to settle on the beginning of a hope or a blessing.





Patrick Deeley is a former primary school teacher and principal. His poems have been widely published and translated. Groundswell: New and Selected is the latest of his six collections with Dedalus Press. His memoir, The Hurley Maker’s Son, appeared recently from Transworld.

Making the most – by Julian Dobson


I feel these four walls closing in, she says
in this town where shuttered pizza shops
jostle with boarded pubs. You can still get
a quick tan here, mind you, as North Sea wind
scuffs the slates from roofs, as squat hills
behind the main street slump towards the sea.

I have my memories, though, she says,
her grasshopper legs braced against a frame,
aye, that’s what matters. All those memories
blowing like crisp packets dancing down gutters
growing like lichen crusting yellow stone
stuck like chewing gum on library floors.

Count your blessings, that’s the thing, she says
count till you lose track of numbers, count
blessings like pigeons roosting under bridges
blessings like starlings whistling from wires.
Count them as you’d count slippery churchyard steps,
as you’d count odd socks, teaspoons, missing friends.




Julian Dobson lives in Sheffield, England, home of the famous Henderson’s Relish. His poems have appeared in publications including Magma, Under the Radar, and Acumen, and on a bus in Guernsey. More of his work is at

1958 Chevrolet Impala – by Ken Meisel


The teen girl’s dressed in a circle skirt
and a tight-fitting blouse. Rouged lips.

She’s on the front lawn, twirling
in a 30 inch hula hoop; it’s around her waist.

Her boyfriend is standing at the front
door of his father’s new 58’ Impala.

It’s a Cashmere Blue. The front grill, wide-
mouthed and glaring, the dual head lamps

vigilant, attentive. The deep, sculptured
braided back end, contorted in, with three

small taillights like multiple blinking eyes
beneath a wave-like dip, and into a fin.

On the radio: Carl Perkin’s, Blue Suede Shoes.
It’s September, and school’s begun.

The late summer trees express lush color.
Some leaves, like incidental derivations

of the color palette, burn into red, orange.
A small dog barks at the turn up of noise.

A cat in the bush squats low, circumspect.
It can feel in its hair something ambiguous.

Her father, the judge, looks pensively
from his half-drawn shades, suspicious.

Her mother, in the kitchen, cuts open
a watermelon with their sharpest knife.

Carelessly cuts her index finger pink-red.
Curses softly, like killing commie flies.

The United States explodes an Atomic
bomb, in a missile, in the South Pacific.





Ken Meisel is a poet and psychotherapist, a Pushcart Prize nominee and has been published in over 100 national magazines. Recent work is in Rattle, Midwestern Gothic, Muddy River Poetry Review, Firefly and Concho River Review. His most recent book is The Drunken Sweetheart at My Door (FutureCycle Press: 2015).

sometimes it’s winter in the middle of summer – by Bethany Rivers


sometimes friends / sunglasses / slapped on lotion / sand stinging summer /
it’s not time / for hibernation / curling in on yourself like a hedgehog of
winter trying to keep ice outside / a tsunami of grief frozen in middle /
in deep centre of your landscape / where no-one can see the missing the /
sometimes it’s not time / curling in sometimes / where no-one can see in
deep centre of your landscape / sometimes slapped on lotion stinging summer /
sometimes hibernation missing / summer missing / like a hedgehog of winter /
a tsunami of grief frozen / it’s not time / no-one can see / keep ice out / friends
              in deep centre / landscape friends in deep




Bethany Rivers’ pamphlet, Off the wall, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2016. She mentors writers and teaches creative writing. She loves the accumulating poetry books on her shelves, reading by the fire with a cat in her lap, and running poetry inspiration/healing days.

Antony Dunn – Guest Editor for January/February

Our Editor’s Choice poem for January/February will be selected by Antony Dunn.

Antony Dunn © Sara Teresa - April 2016 (2) - small BW

Antony Dunn lives in Leeds. Winner of the Newdigate Prize and an Eric Gregory Award, he has published four collections of poems, Pilots and NavigatorsFlying FishBugs and, most recently, Take This One to Bed (Valley Press, October 2016).

He edited and introduced Ex Libris, a posthumous collection of poems by David Hughes (Valley Press, 2015).

Antony is a regular tutor for The Poetry School and the Arvon Foundation. He has worked on a number of translation projects with poets from Holland, Hungary, China and Israel, and was Poet in Residence at the University of York for 2006 and at the Ilkley Literature Festival in 2010.

He is Artistic Director of Bridlington Poetry Festival, and no relation to Joan Hunter.

No Turning Back – by Jane Salmons


Green Lanes groaned in the July heat
cars choked on each other’s fumes
rows of fermenting fruit and veg sweated

it out on street stalls, between the buzz
of flies and tetchy wasps. I carried
you from the taxi in gleaming white

over the cracked tiles, into the cool
hallway of your new home. That night
I couldn’t sleep. I sat instead on the futon edge

watched your tiny limbs twitch in your cot
and listened to the soft chirp of your breath.
Getting up for a glass of water, I pulled on

the kitchen light. A dozen startled cockroaches
like a band of dark knights, scuttled into corners,
chitinous armour chinking spite. I bolted

to the bedroom, lifted the corner of the bed
and saw, under the dark warmth of the mattress,
a monstrous mass of squirming black.




Jane Salmons is a teacher living and working in the Black Country. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing and has been previously published in Snakeskin, I am not a Silent Poet and Creative Writing Ink. In her precious free time, she also enjoys creating hand-made photomontage and is to have artwork and poetry published together in Ink, Sweat and Tears in the near future.