Bet McCallum: Two poems

Somewhere else

Two grave markers for ships,
Saxon towers stand dark on the cliffs.
You say … ‘erosion brings the sea to their edge’
or something. I don’t hear.
The wind’s in my ear hissing ssh, breath, flesh, kiss.
You point out tunnels left by molluscs,
a line of bivalve fossils,
slipper limpets and other clinging creatures.
I miss the detail.
Graffiti on pale sand says Stay with me forever.
You read aloud the caution:
Cliffs may collapse without warning
‘It’s eminently possible,’ you tell me.
I’m drifting out of earshot.
Something or someone is waiting in the water.


He’d mentioned it more than once:
he’d hate to be underground mouldering and trapped,
he’d rather fly and drift above the river and maybe reach and speckle Perth
and maybe some of him in Fife.

And so, at eight o’clock one Sunday morning,
I took the urn down to the shoreline
and sent what there was of him over the water
in clouds of pale dust.

And some flew far… already on his way…
and some dropped gently to float more slowly
and, unpredicted
three small children loomed – asked if I was feeding Oystercatchers

and in that moment
I just said ‘Yes’.

Copyright © Bet McCallum 2017

Bet McCallum lives in Broughty Ferry. Her work has appeared in Dundee Writes,
New Writing Dundee, Gutter and the Dundee poetry anthology, Seagate III.

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Raymond Miller

What Am I Knitting?

Last night I dreamt on a soiled mattress
and woke as Mrs Somebody-or-Other,
wearing this hat and second-hand clothing,
throat stuck with unfamiliar language.
A stuffed and bandaged museum exhibit,
temples throbbing to the Boom-Boom-Boom,
tuning in for news of the children.

This sausage no longer tastes of sausage
and these days everybody locks back doors.
Still, all sorts enter, nobody’s knocking:
the stethoscope whispers, the bloody samplers;
take seven from a hundred – what am I knitting?
Soup in the kitchen and poisoned apples:
how many cooks keep the doctor away?

Evenings we loll in an air-raid shelter;
tea and biscuits, bingo on Saturday,
wait for the humming to end or commence.
These dreams are not mine! Not mine
these teeth and breasts and dresses,
these spectacles that will not rest on my ears.
They should be home by now.

Copyright © Raymond Miller 2017

Ray Miller – Socialist, Aston Villa supporter and faithful husband. Life has been a disappointment.

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Eileen Murphy; two poems

The Rain Has Lost Its Mind

The dying grass waits with its tongue burnt.

Rain begins to fall on the orange groves,
fingers tapping hollow walls.

Suddenly, the rain loses its mind.
Fireflies explode in the night.
Elephants trample the clouds.

Wind tears away weakness: here the aloe
that soothes mosquito bites, there the shed
where birds nest
in an old tool belt.

Electricity out.

Dog hides
in the bathtub.
I’m just a wee creature.

I find oil lamps
& coax the dog into their light.

the tattooed man

his right shoulder says carpe diem

symbols for infinity
& musical notes
are sprinkled up & down
his right arm

on his left arm, cry havoc
& let slip the hounds
of war

he got that in iraq

he’s a drummer
not great, but enthusiastic
he drums lightly on his dog’s ribs
making a hollow sound

the dog loves it

Copyright © Eileen Murphy 2017

A former Chicagolander, Eileen Murphy now lives 30 miles from Tampa with her husband, three dogs, and one cat. She teaches literature and English at Polk State College in Lakeland.

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Irene Cunningham



Things to grow in a pot
don’t include love and yet
it plants its own seeds.

Strange encounters build
on interiors, dressing rooms
choosing wotnots.

It’s the pulsing blood, plush
as it rushes to our heads
and navels in its eternal war.


One and one
a couple is still two
people…each life
is never just about the nights;
day-matters are riddled
with other people.

I couldn’t be anyone
else but me.

Perhaps marriage
should be as final
as an active furnace
where the meeting of parts
is not enough to hold
him and her
(re-arrange to suit).

A flame needs solid
wall to hate
to encompass it –
serve as a breast.


I choose a bra that lifts
and separates, refuse
squashed kumquats,
mashed squash
…I rant in Primark
about padding – Woman
is a separatist issue.

Copyright © Irene Cunningham 2017

Irene Cunningham has had many poems published in lit mags across the years. She enjoys a quiet life at Loch Lomond and website is here.

Writing blog

Personal blog

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Mariam Kadhim

The sun rises everywhere

Criss-crossing air and water
Clocking miles none can measure
What’s the deal globe-trotter?
Searching for hidden treasure?

Oh, I’m just teasing!
You’re a lucky chap
who’s nearly
out the door again…so fast?
Heavens no! My time has passed

Along you go without me
Arrivederci! Adiós!
See Aruba, Bonaire, Fiji,
Here I’ll be in Kinross

Chow on empanadas,
duruka and ceviche
Spy blue-green iguanas,
Explore your coral reefs

Walk round Mayan ruins
Speak the tongue of stranger nations
Take guided tours – from palaces
– to Ceylon tea plantations

Away with your pity! away with you pet!
I wish so too, but life ploughs on
I’m happy with these hills, these sheep,
My tea and buttered scone

Write me under a Judas tree
Send me olives and black rice
In fact, don’t feel obliged my lad
Two, three stories will suffice

Don’t think of me with sorrow
I know fine well that life is short
Yet wrong you are, and fluffed you’d be
To assume from my passport
That I’m a mere provincial,
Uncultivated miser
For what such pages don’t disclose
Is I’m an early riser;
The dawn of day, the morning dew;
Life’s little reasons
(In my book)

The boundless world, all around
And all I do is look

Copyright © Mariam Kadhim 2017

I’m Mariam Kadhim: a twenty something aspiring French language teacher of Iraqi heritage. Scotland is where I live, study, read, and write.

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Frederick Pollack


The angel has the impression
that if he stays in one place
on the street a safe
will fall and crush him, so he constantly
shuffles, forward, sideways. Awareness
that he can’t be hurt, by however
many tons, has somehow gone,
as well as the skill to be anywhere
at will. Invisible now less
because of rarefied spiritual
substance than general rattiness, he tries
to love, protect, comfort. But there are
so many of them! So vivid! And they move
so fast! It isn’t that I’ve forgotten
(he assures that inner tweet
which is God) what love is,
what You are, only how to plug it in. Herding
him along, a cop realizes
after weeks of worry where to
move that extra kilo
from the bust on 18th. A bishop
sees how with little strain or
bad press to acquire the rest of his block.
And here and there like stars in that surge
of pedestrians comes the knowledge
what else to pawn.

Copyright © Frederick Pollack 2017

Author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS (Story Line Press), and a collection, A POVERTY OF WORDS (Prolific Press). Another collection, LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT, to be published in 2018 by Smokestack Books (UK).

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Tristan Moss: three poems

My Old English Sheepdog

On windy days,
I sometime think
that I might spy
between the weeping
willow’s branches
one of his eyes.


Yes, we’re oddly shaped
when compared to Archimedes’
perfectly rectangular tub.

And when in
we’re not allowed to float;
we must push
our bodies under.

And the more of ourself
that displaces water
the more normal
we become.

A crack in the concrete

The cause?
a root
a seed

Does it matter?
Both sides
still concrete

this rift widens
and more spread

beyond a mosaic,

beyond the concrete.

Copyright © Tristan Moss 2017

Tristan Moss has recently had poems in Algebra of Owls, Snakeskin, London Grip and Amaryllis.

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