Paul Vaughan

Only Family

Richard’s got his wig on.
His luscious locks bob furiously,
cheeks burning as he remonstrates
with stonewall Stella the staff nurse
who stands impassive,
resists the charms of his patent heels
and sheer silky-tighted calves.

She gestures at the sign again,
‘Family only outside visiting hours’
and Bob, decked in leather and Hitler ‘tache
is close to tears.

I wish Cheryl was on today.
She’d let us in, I know,
to sit with Adam
dripping with pneumonia
fevered, lost, alone.

We are his family.

Copyright © Paul Vaughan 2016

Paul Vaughan is a Yorkshire poet. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Seventh Quarry, Sarasvati, Peeking Cat and several online journals. He also edits the poetry e-zine Algebra of Owls.

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Belinda Rimmer

Stone Heavy
(a poem in response to Sylvia Plath’s Mirror and Mary Oliver’s Sleeping in the Forest).

A cloudless day and Earth saw herself reflected
in Sky’s mirror as never before; not cruel
but perfect. A small kingdom full of lakes
and forests, alive with insect and bird.
Over and over, Earth rose and felt herself
breathing. This was important to Earth,
to be looked at so long: to be seen.

A woman stands so tenderly arranging
a posy of flowers. She catches herself
reflected in Sky’s mirror, and what she
sees is abhorrent: an old woman.
Not luminous, but fish scaled.
Why should Sky’s mirror, God’s
little eye, reflect what it sees so faith-
fully? Why not be a liar, replace the wizened
face for another: silvery pink, light as layers
of chitin?

Now the woman works in darkness
for fear the fertile seeds and lichen will
mock her. She is stone heavy. Maybe
when the light next comes she’ll feel
renewed: green as shoots. Can she
hope, without preconception, to
see herself as something more

Earth’s heart flickered for the face below;
the face of the old woman. She reached out
her hand and asked the woman to search for
what she really was: a candle, a moon, a
bringer of light.

With tears in her eyes, the woman thanks
Earth. She thanks Sky’s mirror too for
showing her the truth. She won’t vanish.
She’ll rise instead towards morning, a dozen
times, and more, her pockets brimming
with white fire.

Copyright © Belinda Rimmer 2016

I live in Cheltenham and spend a lot of time writing books for children, poems or street descriptions for Camden Bus estate agents! I’ve had poems published in a variety of magazines. I’m a member of Cheltenham Poetry Society and attend Buzzwords, a regular Sunday evening meet-up for poets,

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Rona Fitzgerald

In the levada water sang

of slaves who made it
keening for home
of joy at rain
the cool caress of mist.

Tales from wind and rain
children lost at sea, families displaced.

Madeira in December invites warmth
orange blossom lingers
garrulous greens, watercress
shoulder high dandelion

holding blue
for later

Copyright © Rona Fitzgerald 2016

I am a Dubliner living in Glasgow for 21 years. My poems have been published in anthologies and magazines. I’m a member of the Writers Federation (Scotland).

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Sue Johnson

witching hour

to the casual observer
we are just an ordinary family
clean white net curtains
no litter or weeds in the front garden

but do not be deceived

when night falls we are
the prowlers in the park
the whisper of scandal in the dark

we are the bringers of nightmares
the dream stealers

on pale mornings
you may see our shadows
slice the gloom
as we head home before sunrise

Copyright © Sue Johnson 2016

Sue Johnson is published as a poet, short story writer and novelist. She also writes books aimed at taking away other writers excuses for not writing. She is a Writing Magazine Creative Writing Tutor and also runs her own brand of writing workshops. She is fortunate to have lexical-gustatory synaesthesia (she tastes words) and derives inspiration from the Worcestershire countryside near her home.

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David J Costello


Life clings to me.
Disfiguring the man I used to be.
Emaciated, drawn and slack.
People stare and children shout abuse
behind my back.
I can’t unpick or tease apart
the complicated knot
that used to be my heart.
I hardly eat or drink yet I persist.
Mortality’s not easy to resist.

I grow, wood slow.
Beneath my skin
the green years turn
to cork and wear me
like an Arctic winter
wears a tree.
Its cold compressed
this fossil out of me.

Everyone I’ve known has died.
I’ve lasted longer than their
gravestones and their griefs.
They populate the afterlife
with their beliefs.
I’ve had enough longevity.
I need to die.
The world won’t miss a man
who cannot cry.

Copyright © David J Costello 2016

David J. Costello is a previous winner of the International Welsh Poetry Competition and a prize-winner in last year’s Troubadour international Poetry Competition. His latest pamphlet, No Need For Candles, is due from Red Squirrel Press in September.

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Gordon Meade: Two poems

Four Perspectives

We have a settee and two chairs
in our living room and whichever one
you care to sit on you will be given
a different perspective of the sea.
From the settee, you will be able
to see the harbour, the smokehouse
and, in the distance, the lighthouse
and the ruins of Lady Janet’s tower.
Sit in one of the chairs and the break-
water comes into view that and the other
side of the Firth of Forth. In the last remaining
chair, all you can really see will be the sea
and, on a clear day, a glimpse of either
the Bass Rock or the Isle of May. A settee
and two chairs; sit anywhere and close your eyes;
you will still be able to hear the waves.

The Eight Brocades

Almost every morning, unless it is too cold,
I practice the Eight Brocades, or Baduanjin, whilst
looking out the living room window.
Depending on the state of the tides, I see
either water or rocks, or mostly a mixture of the two.
The bird I look for is the heron. He is
my Qi Gong partner; less noisy than the gull,
less busy than the oystercatcher, far more centred
than the dunlin or the knot. Of course,
he has no way of knowing that he is my chosen
one. He stands with his feet in a rock pool while I
get on with my practice. Once I have finished,
I make myself a cup of gunpowder tea.
By the time it has brewed, and is ready to drink,
the heron has usually flown away.

Copyright © Gordon Meade 2016

His latest collection is Les Animots: A Human Bestiary, a collaboration with the artist Douglas Robertson (Cultured Llama Publishing 2015). These poems will feature in his next collection, The Year of the Crab.

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Thomas Clark: Three poems in translation

On Takin Doun a Tirlis

The tethert sticks are wizzent nou, doun fawin,
The leafs that growe fae pumpkins scrank an sma.
Juist in time, the flouers whitely appen,
The green leafs o the vines hae dwyned awa.
The insects o the hairst mak ceaseless noise.
Whit hae the sparraes dreamt at close o day?
This warld is but a cauld thing, an a waste,
Still, human life haed its beginnings tae.

(Frae Du Fu)
Wha, abuin the muild,
Noo ah growe auld,
Sall cry me freend?
The firs o Takasago saund
This bairn aince kenned.

(Frae Fujiwara no Okikaze)

Nicht Snaw

That late awready. Ma pillae’s cauld. Ma twilt.
Ma windae bricht anenst it, ah see that nou.
Ah feel the snaw lin wechtie on the nicht,
At the edge o time, the sneckin o bamboo.

(Frae Bai Juyi)

Copyright © Thomas Clark 2016

Thomas Clark is a writer and poet who is currently poet-in-residence at Selkirk FC. His first collection, “Intae the Snaw”, was published by Gatehouse in 2015. He blogs about writing at

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