Hearing Things – by Mat Riches


I found my calling in backgrounds,
and replicating the noises
only noticed when they’re absent.

My sleight of hand is often found
behind creaks of creeps on old stairs;
that’s me pulling nails from fresh planks.

The sound of rain falling in films
is bacon being fried up close.
I made lunch today, it poured down

and I couldn’t tell the difference.
The mundane gives drama root notes:
a guillotined neck gets its voice

from a cleaver through a cabbage.
Hams hang on a hook to be punchbags
and put their heft behind fistfights.

A lion’s roar enhances car chases
and flapped gloves make the swooping sounds
from birds of prey about to kill,

but birdsong’s only ever birds
being themselves. I’ll drive for days
to record the correct species.

What noises can empty rooms make
when no one’s there to record them?
This keeps me awake every night.

Just last night I thwacked a dead cow
in the ribs with a cricket bat,
and I know my motives were sound.

If You Hold It To Your Ear – by Sallyanne Rock


Harold sits in his high-backed chair,
tips shells into his lap,
sprinkles the dayroom carpet with sand.

He lifts the tiger cowrie to his ear,
turns down his hearing aid to recall
the taptaptap of Dad’s pipe on the table,
Mom’s pastry-pin roll and thrap,
the budgie’s serenade to a swinging mirror.

He listens to the wentletrap,
makes out a Wurlitzer, the lift and fall
of Dora’s heels on sprung herringbone.
Smiles as she belts out Billie
over the thump of the twin tub,
the button tin rattle saving
his Sunday shirt from a ragbag fate.

Thumbing the ridges of an upturned oyster,
Harold tries to scoop out sounds
of hand-smoothed sheets,
the bedside monitor chirrup,
a last breeze of breath.

He scrapes the shells
back into their box,
clicks the catch
turns up his hearing aid.
Lets the tide rush in.



Sallyanne Rock is an emerging poet living in Worcestershire, UK. She has been published in various places online and in print, and can often be found tweeting @sallrockspoetry

Reality Orientation – by Clare McCotter


Summer solstice in the asylum garden –
the wide blue bringing
your soul to feather
until I lose you
in an oratory of light.
Sloshing water
round petunias and lobelias
I mention your job –
an electrician
with The Belfast Corporation;
family having made it clear
you had the same one
for forty years, never once flying a plane.

Smiling you speak of your first solo flight
a yellow Piper Vagabond
leaving land behind
your azimuth shimmering
in a sapphire south.
Working on the real
I ask your age
your son’s and your daughter’s name
but a plane
headed for Belfast International
catches your eye
and you are gone –
lone aerial ace turning half-loops and rolls
above drifting mare tail clouds.

Planning a landing in the here and now
I pose questions on person, place and time.
Forced back down
you stumble on the here
fall flat on the day, the month, the year.
Confused, your gaze goes back
to that lithe translucence
telling me up there
everything’s brighter
nothing else like it.
A past gone but language still
crystal and flowing
in your dark forest
of Alzheimer firs.
Dayshift draws to a close
still no cognitive breakthrough
until I ask you the name of the best plane
you flew.




Clare McCotter’s haiku, tanka and haibun have been widely published. She won The British Haiku Award 2017, and in 2013 The British Tanka Award. Her poetry and short fiction has appeared in The Cannon’s Mouth, Crannóg, Envoi, The Honest Ulsterman, The Interpreter’s House, Iota, and The Stinging Fly, among others. Black Horse Running, a collection of haiku, tanka and haibun, was published in 2012. Revenant, her first collection of ‘longer’ poems will be published in April 2019 by Salmon Poetry. Home is Kilrea, County Derry.

Inish More – by Kate Rogers


I try to balance
on the ferry’s bow deck
as we crest waves. Birds
surface —Razor bills,
dark wings accented
with markings like
parings of day moon.
They plunge into troughs,
drag their shadows under.
Cormorants arrow past.
The pier lies down
at my feet like an old dog,
then slinks away
as I climb the hill.
So many walls stacked
from limestone
boundary the island.
On the headland path,
lichen’s mustard
on stone barriers
like headlights in the fog.

Blackberries bramble old
boundaries: tiny pink blooms
tangled among dark fruit,
tart on my tongue.
Rain, more cloud than downpour,
washes off my make up.
Wind scrubs my cheeks
until they sting,
the way my Irish Nana did
when I was small. Eileen Brennan,
who lost her daughter
at a four way stop, her foot
on the brake too late.
I couldn’t check the sex
of the child my womb pushed out
fifteen years ago.
A country with so many
headstones. Inish More
has seven churches
not one roof among them,
slate dark as a squall
bearing down.
Here’s a fresh infant grave.
A wall-eyed teddy bear,
soaked dark brown as an old sponge,
leans its head on the stone.
Older markers are blank,
names erased
by spindrift.




Kate Rogers’ poem “Ode to my period” was shortlisted for the 2017 Montreal International Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in Elsewhere: a Journal of Place, Voice and Verse, Twin Cities Cinema, Juniper and The Guardian, among other journals. She is based in Hong Kong. Her latest poetry collection is “Out of Place” (Quattro-Aeolus House, Toronto. 2017.)

Winners- Nov/Dec Poems of the Month

After a brief hiatus, I am pleased to announce that the winning Readers’ Choice poem from the poll is:

Lawrence – by Robert Ford

Robert will receive the usual winner’s mug, and thanks to everyone who voted.

The Editor’s choice was selected by Strix editor Ian Harker and he picked out

The Body Wishes it Could Remain in its Own Palace – by Nome Emeka Patrick

It’s a fine choice, a poem perhaps a little different to the normal AoO ‘style’, and the first poem we have ever published from an African writer.

Ian had these comments to make.

“This poem is circular, almost. By the time the first stanza comes round again, re-manifests in the last stanza, it has changed slightly, but the change reinforces, re-asserts the opening stanza. The beginning pre-supposes the end, contains and creates it. And in the mean-time, the poem expands, conracts, surrounds us with wounds and hearts, winged birds, cities and ache and burning and drowning, but all this happens as part of the pattern, it makes me think that the world is a cosmos not chaos. Death is there (“rot & feathers”) along with love (“…once you were a firefly & you danced out of your mother…”) but that’s part of the pattern too, unavoidably. This is a dazzling poem that frightens and reassures all at the same time.”

Congratulations to both our winners.

Editorial – News and Update

The Chief Editor has been indisposed due to circumstances beyond his control and there has been a delay in the processing of the submissions during the window ended 15th January.

This work has now been completed by Nick and Alicia, the co-editors, and it is likely no bad thing that the other guy has not had an influence on the final selection this time round. Change is as good as a rest.

  • Email responses to submissions in that window will be coming out over the course of the next week.
  • Remaining poems that were slated for January publication will re-commence shortly.
  • The latest batch of accepted poems will be published mainly in March, maybe a few drifting into April.
  • We anticipate that submissions in the current window that ends on February 28th will be dealt with according to usual process, and we expect responses to those to be forthcoming by mid-March.

I Haven’t Been Entirely Idle – by Sarah Snyder


I am remembering
a young woman I met
who pulled out her phone

to share a photograph of a mother
she missed while at college, smiled wide
and scrolled down her contacts

pointing to the name – My Everything.
That’s my mother’s number, she said.
That was a month ago.

I’ve been back from Rwanda,
doing laundry in a machine
instead of the bucket,

have baked tofu with fresh ginger,
lemon grass, and soy sauce
not thinking of the beans and rice.

And I have been renaming
my contacts, new names for everyone –
My Rock, He Whose Hair Smells Like Sun,

Bluest Eyes, Get Ready For An Hour-Long Conversation,
Let Go To Voice Mail, She Who Makes Me Laugh,
Will Have Gossip, Best Thai Food…

feeling like I am on scattered pathways
from a garden, seeded
in wild things.




Sarah Dickenson Snyder has written poetry since she knew there was a form with conscious line breaks. She has two poetry collections, The Human Contract and Notes from a Nomad, both published in 2017. She was selected for the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference both times she applied. One poem was nominated for best of Net in 2017. Recent work appears in Chautauqua Literary Magazine, RHINO, and The Sewanee Review. https://sarahdickensonsnyder.com/