Sam Payne

My Botanist, aged three

In the garden where a mother can find peace
in the shade of a magnolia tree, I watched
my botanist, aged three, study the molecular
structure of a leaf. Her tiny fingers held it up
to the light, turned it over and over before
growing bored and letting it fall. From there, she
continued collecting petals and leaves
and stashed these behind rocks and plant pots
and squealed when a butterfly joined us
but instantly obeyed the finger touched to my lips.
She watched with those big brown eyes
as I caught the butterfly and when I felt the flicker
of flight against my palm, I thought, how small
is its heart? And does it feel the weight of things
like love and life and letting go?

Copyright © Sam Payne 2017

Sam Payne is a writer living in Devon.

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Phil Wood: Two poems


The bowl of cawl warming your chat,
but through the glass Castell Harlech
sits squat and broods. The stone fed fat
on local blood must grip the land –
for here, both you and I, say ‘diolch’.
We walk the ramparts hand in hand.


Tethered to the bank,
distant from ebb and flow,
his boat with red paint
weathered away –
as though the owner
had no where to go.

But under the bridge
sails a catamaran
like an eager lover
splashing out to sea –
her painted bow
craved by waves.

My brother, once a ferryman,
a fisherman, a harbour
of dreams – furrows
his brow, drags colours
across canvas –
the rust of seagull voices.

Copyright © Phil Wood 2017

Phil Wood works in a statistics office. He enjoys working with numbers and words. His writing can be found in various publications, most recently in: The Lampeter Review and Clear Poetry.

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Judith Taylor


I haven’t been anywhere, or done anything.
When I had falling dreams, I fell
out of some bright fairground ride
towards this corner of the grass beside the toolshed.

And there’s the wall with the honeysuckle gatepost
I was sitting next to
when I was called inside
to witness Armstrong’s one step

told I would read it someday
in the history books. Which came true:
and every time I see it there, it’s the pink and yellow
honeysuckle blossom I remember.

There’s more. Not all benign, but there’s no undoing it.
When the place is bought by nobody I know
when I can’t set foot there any longer
still it will be my childhood home.

I won’t see if the honeysuckle’s gone
or the wall demolished, and the toolshed
will always have that brown, badly-repaired door.

When I used to dream of falling
I would wake as soon as I touched the grass.
The last time, I remembered as I tumbled through the air
I would end at home. And when I woke, that was the dream
gone forever.

Copyright © Judith Taylor 2017

Judith Taylor comes from Perthshire and now lives and works in Aberdeen. Her first full-length collection, Not in nightingale country, will be published by Red Squirrel Press in autumn 2017.

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Mike Ferguson

Reasons for Going to War

Speaking of shins, mine are whores
with enticing come-ons to any

accidental knocks or scuffs or outright
attacks as long as new scabs and then

scarring can be added to the existing
mass destruction after the years of

terrorising – I mean, an outsider’s
look could rip the skin it’s so thin from

whatever is actually left of flesh on the
narrow bones, and I swear my shins

can’t last two weeks without going to
war which would also explain the other

injury not that anyone could give a
reason no matter how hard they tried.

Copyright © Mike Ferguson 2017

Mike Ferguson’s most recent collection of poetry is the sonnets chapbook Precarious Real [Maquette Press, 2016].

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Stefanie Bennett


Since there’s the scarcity
Of timbre to it, what
Is it that’s
Been fleeced
From me?

Separate tables! A bogus
Wine waiter! And
The tuning-fork
Of a sublet

Be quick. Either way
The minions
Play; and
In the wings
Has grown

Copyright © Stefanie Bennett 2017

Stefanie Bennett is an ex-blues singer and musician. ‘The Vanishing’, published by
Walleah Press, is Stefanie’s latest poetry title, available from Walleah and Amazon

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Mark Farley


On my way to the classroom
I passed the smallangry –
the smallangry fourth year
I’d seen hitting a bush.
The bush had done nothing.
It just sat there – bushing.
But the boy was smallangry.
He took it out on a branch.
Now he was surrounded
by six thirsty sixth years –
six thirsty sixth years
eager to tease.
And they told him to hit me,
to lash out and hit me,
to take out his anger
on me passing by.
He was twitchy and angry,
that smallangry fourth year,
and he did what they told him
to me passing by.
I could see his frustration,
that smallangry fourth year,
surrounded by sixth years
as I passed him by,
so I didn’t block him
as he lashed out at my shoulder.
And the sixth years made merry
at me passing by.
It’s the leaders and generals
who should answer for shoulders,
but we know it’s smallangry
who will go home and cry.

Copyright © Mark Farley

Mark Farley has been shortlisted and highly commended for the Bridport Prize. Find him on Twitter (@mumbletoes) or via his blog (

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Arlene A Grizzle

Ode To My Father

There is a firm knock on the door
to your soul.  You’ve left the door
unlocked for too long; Death politely
seeks entry. His lulling tune calls
out to the weary making sweet his
promise of rest. Know well dear father,
Death’s promise will take you from
us. You consider your care too arduous
for those you love. You weakly nod “yes”
to Death’s call. With trembling lips you
whisper love should not require so
much. I turn away and hide my tears.
Loving you was never a burden.

Copyright © Arlene A. Grizzle 2017

Arlene is a novice poet. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and spent many years working with the disabled population. Arlene dreams of writing song lyrics and poetry that will break hearts.

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