Brian Johnstone: Two poems


Where we stopped the car was close enough to see
menace implicit in the raised palm of the fence,
its upper case commands that we go

no farther, take no photographs even of the view
we drove up this obscure road to see – the valley
from angles we’d never taken in before;

angles we suspect those busy in this block,
bland as it’s anonymous, guess at in the merest blip
of radar, what some static might conceal; angles

as illicit as the view the man in uniform advancing
as we turn will do his damnedest to obscure
behind the gates of this out-station we don’t wait

to be informed is out of bounds, but gun the throttle,
turn the blind eye of the tailgate on the place,
its guard a cipher in the mirror, logging our retreat.

Wake Up Call

The radio is on in the house next door
and from this distance the staccato Greek
echoing from the concrete walls

sounds as alien as a spaceship
transmitting to Earth news
of our impending doom – a wake up call

as threatening as the thunder
still bilious in the peaks, lingering
from last night’s storm.  We’d woken then

to rain pounding the leaves,
torrents in the lane, the insistent banging
of shutters and doors as the wind

whipped them to life – a warning
we’d heeded long enough
to shoot the bolts, stumble feverish

back to bed, cursing the dreams
that plagued our sleep
and woke us to the white noise of dawn.

Copyright © Brian Johnstone 2014

Brian Johnstone’s sixth collection Dry Stone Work will be published byArc in May 2014. His poems have been translated into over 10 different languages and have appeared in the UK, America and Europe.

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Stephen Watt

Fifa Widow

She had worn referee black to commemorate his passing;
and his tackling and his shooting.
Nephews and nieces found it confusing
that birthday cards were only signed by their aunt –
assuming that their uncle was away on business overseas
until he slid past on his knees with the cat on his head.
He had been practising that one in bed.

Often, when the first teal line of daylight revealed itself,
the ripples of the sheets where he had lain
were already cool to touch. The staircase belched
as slippers urged floorboards to hush
on his way downwards to the teams
he had dreamed of while they had been making love.
She winced at his attempts to sound Dutch.

Crowd noises and the tap-tap-tap-tap of his fingers
rapped on the control pad. The monotone voices
of commentators jarred through all times of the day.
Besides the odd grunt, all he had to say
was to the supermarket delivery man
about tactics and hat-tricks; home games, away.
It wasn’t long before she too began to play away.

It felt fresh. Exciting. Biting on her neck, she urged her new lover
to run his fingers into the wide channels, tackle hard
using his man at the back; to take away her legs
then press on quickly with a counter-attack.
Her entire body flushed like a red card.
She made her excuses while shaking his hand
then screamed as she rushed out to the garden path.

Back. Brainwashed and out of breath.
She collapsed on the couch, allowing the green meth
of the computerised pitch to makes wreaths of her eyes.
Then much to his disbelief, in calmness and composure,
she reached down the side for the second controller
and pointing towards the TV
she pressed the button for ‘Player B’.

Copyright © Stephen Watts 2014

Stephen Watt is a poet and performer from Glasgow whose debut collection “Spit” was published in March 2012. Stephen has successfully won national competitions on both the page and stage over the last year.

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Stephen Porter


‘This is Brazil’
someone said
but it was impossibly small.

More like Scotland
or the Basque Country
enclosed in modest mountains
under grey feathers
of snow.

the back of my head
on a pillow of sand
a canopy of high palms
veering above me,
I hear the vaguely threatening drone
of mosquito engines.

This is Brazil,
a mosaic of remote villages
and city states
on a giant canvas
that two syllables struggle to contain.


Copyright © Stephen Porter 2014
Steven Porter has published two short volumes of poetry: Shellfish and Umbrellas from Koo Press and 16 Poem(a)s in English and Galician from Knives, Forks & Spoons Press. More info at

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Peter Richards: Two poems

An Uncomplicated Road

If all roads lead to Rome then how do bus
drivers ever get to other places?
Roads are tangled like discarded laces
and we choose the one that’s right for us.

You might think that if you believed the fuss
that’s made to save the thousand faces
and the thousand people of the thousand races,
all on the same dark road as Orpheus,

whence Eurydice could not bring him home.
There’s but one road, one way and no return,
however free we fancy that we roam.
However daft and fancy free we yearn
to turn time back to where it had come from,
it just goes on, and back it will not turn.

Missing in Action, Presumed Well

These roads we travel have all been laid down
by habits of our forebears, or chalked up
in planners’ workshops. Old ways went round
the rocks and trees and rivers that obstruct
the straighter line, but now these paved and steeled
ways erase the landscape. If desire
is A to B then short is good, but will
we not do well to stray a little while?

The tao paths and desire paths toe the line.
Paths make their walkers and boards their chalkers.
We walk in sun but we can’t make it shine.
We live in language; we’re incessant talkers.

Hey ho, hey ho, for all there’s work to do,
I’ll walk on up the hill and see the view.

Copyright © Peter Richards 2014

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Irene Cunningham: Two poems


Spring is on hold
while the rain catches up. I keep
thinking of running the rake
through the clumped grass; I want
to comb it out, untangle last season’s
dead, make way for machinery. I have
visions of me in a floppy hat
under the sun.

Looking down, this garden
fits into the space between
my fingers and thumbs but when I’m there
it feels like a windswept moor
and I’m Cathy calling for her Heathcliffe…
but I’d only want to use his
muscle – make him work for me.

I have to live with autumn
permanently, until winter
freezes my old bones. Spring
is just a chore, and now I must
fish my son off the river,
get him behind a mower
before the grass turns hippy.


Three women crossed the land
bewitched fae Glasgow tae Fife -
there was no dancing naked
in mystic moonlight
or May-day orgies.

The Green Witch of Aberdour
grimoired spells by an open fire.
Web pages seducing
crystal visions
had stimulated our intentions.
This emporium bizarre
sold us an eastern town.
Were we wise
to drive so far to shop?

Caught, dusted by fairies
who tinkled shafts of light
right inside
muddled minds.
Lost in the caves of time
epiphany glowed like mother-of-pearl
it mooned alongside my new tarot
swelled impossible cups
to catch tears, flatten guilt.

At Burntisland we hung
on the edge of rocks
lay against the wind
and the sun beat with purpose
upon my face.
It wrapped wisdom around confusion -
all our roads were crossed.

We picked over the headland
seeking that film of the past
to break stone memories -
they clung like molten tar.
The wind scuttled and scoured
every crevice that rattled lies.

Lynda, Trina and me
we three healing women
have borne rebirth on the Firth of Forth.
A journey, a shop and a paddle in the sea -
that’s all it takes to be free.

Copyright © Irene Cunningham

Irene Cunningham has had many poems published in poetry magazines, such as: London Review of Books (writing as Maggie York), Stand Magazine, Writing Women, Iron, Hybrid, Poetry Scotland, Northwords Now, Envoi, New Writing Scotland, and many more. Glasgow born, she now lives beside Loch Lomond with memories of her travels.

Writing blog

Personal blog

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Oonah V Joslin

Great Gaia’s Flood

She has measured the weight
of our children’s children
and the toxicity of our careless intent.

Has suffered our scorching
industrial contempt,
rape of the ground, ravaged sky,

choked ocean gyres
the size of Texas
turning, turning.

Spinning out of hope
in our disregard and in our greed
we stand condemned.

Indeed. It is the judgement of Gaia.
This is the weather of the world
we created.

Copyright © Oonah V Joslin 2014


Oonah V Joslin is an Editor at, a writer of poetry and microfiction, she blogs at She hails from Ulster but lives in Northumberland, just shy of the border.

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Lyn Moir: two poems


Stations of the cross
or wayside calvaries,
arches of bone, rib vaults
enclosing a gaping nave,
these are milestones.

Hooves beyond numbering,
one-toed or two, naked or shod,
have cut desert tracks
with loads of spices, silk,
cotton, gold,
princesses, warriors, slaves.

Rendered immobile
by wounds or exhaustion,
‘thrown on the gobi’
to await death or miracles,
horses and camels,
cathedrals in miniature,
lining the routes.

Night Road to Anxi

The dark is solid.

We make our way
grabbing the tails
of ghostly horses
flying by.

No one speaks.

Copyright © Lyn Moir 2014

Lyn Moir has published four collections, two with Arrowhead Press and two with Calder Wood Press. She lives in St. Andrews. She is working on a fifth collection.


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