Stephen Bone – three poems


Dropped off on Sunday afternoons
we’d brave doorsteps of fish paste,
wince at Rose’s lime, dream of Coke
and pizza, something then.

Afterwards cards in her front room,
ivy chintz clambering over chairs and walls,
windows veiled with net, the television
never on, except when time to lap up the worst.

Her decibels rising with her Embassy’s
blue smoke as looking far beyond
her dealt hand she would shriek.
Cheat! Cheat! Cheat!

after Michael Laskey

I feed it oily fish
rich in omega 3.

I stomach porridge
for its sake.

Virtuously I take a garlic pearl
with my green tea.

Red rare steaks now
replaced with Quorn,

skimmed instead
of full fat.

What further supplement
does its diet need ?


Today a gypsy
sold me a sprig
of white heather,

I gave her silver,
she pushed
for paper.

Not surprising,
inflation rampant.
Luck’s prices rising.

A version of “Inflation” was published in Krax in 2004.

Stephen Bone has been published in various journals in the UK and US, most recently in Ink, Sweat & Tears. His debut collection In The Cinema (2014), was published by Play Dead Press and can be purchased online here.

John Alwyine-Mosely – five poems

Winter Blues

I built a little snowman
with a little smile,
when a little puddle
I cried a little while

Tyrants of the nether regions

The basic problem that I see,
just between you and me,
are the jangle dangles of a man,
some too small to scan,
or of the size that water eyes,
that you and I with flies,
know tickle wickle best in wind,
and yet in cotton they get pinned.
Briefs pull in and up and cup,
trunks chafe thighs and show what’s up
was not as promised from the kiss.
While bikini jockstraps are the miss
they sound, as dangles strangle tight,
and cheeks moon for creepies bite.
Of course Boxers give swing and sway
but ditch them all and go commando I’d say.

How I loved football as a child

At home,
if a match on,
I made the TV
with white

Having kittens

My sorry
purred and weaved
your legs,
quietly mewed
for attention
and pawed your hands.

poured milk
and whistled for
the dog.


The morning
lies again
It’s how the
leaves its kisses

John Alwyine-Mosely’s poetry is eclectic (meaning what’s a genre again?)​ drawing on a range of subjects and styles. ​His most recent poems were published in VerseWrights​, ​YorkMix and The Stare’s Nest.

Jim Bennett – three poems


people are singing in the bar by the station
the lights of the windblown Christmas tree
on the veranda hang like broken strings
no longer looped over the imitation branches

outside people stand on the pavement
shiver in the frost as they smoke
some wrap their arms around themselves
stamp their feet     some wait for a train

in an alleyway two people try to make love
a girl bent over     her hands on a wall
a man pressed up behind her
trousers down to his thighs

a woman’s voice hurry up I’m freezing
a man’s voice keep still then
two others stand at the opening to hide
them and stare out at me

I stop to write in my notebook
I don’t have Charlie as an excuse
so I gaze at a train in the station as I write
pretend to be a train spotter


a new neighbour I don’t know
invites me for drinks
full of smiles and good wishes
I thank him say no thanks
he shrugs     walks off
mutters something

he is the first person
I spoke to this week
probably the last this year
I am ready to tell everyone
I have things to do     I am busy
but no one asks     or phones

even the new neighbour
didn’t really ask me in
he just looked like he would
so I shut the door before
he could come over and ask
people are too damn friendly

the decorations are still up
but everything looks shabby
ready to be dusted     put away
next year I may move to a new place
somewhere no one knows me
where I never put them up again


I was always told
and I told my students
that as a writer the most important thing
was honesty
not truth, that is a different thing
but honesty
so in that spirit
let me tell you
that for years I waited for the post
the small packets
containing a book or magazine
and I would search through them
find what I had written
place them on the special shelf
with all the other books and magazines
that had published me
these days when the post arrives
I set the packages aside to be opened later
the thin envelopes are what I look for
the ones that may have a cheque in
or a bill

Jim Bennett has written 74  books and numerous chapbooks and pamphlets in a 48 year career as a poet, the most recent of which being the cartographer/Heswall (Indigo Dreams, 2013).  Jim lives near Liverpool in the UK and tours giving readings of his work throughout the year.  He is widely published and has won competitions and awards for poetry and performance. He runs Poetry Kit, one of the world’s most successful internet sites for poets.

Laura McKee – four poems

in the first place

what if the horn
that the unicorn had
was his shell
and he just came out one day
grew too big
to be protected


I missed her
maybe pink
called honey
so low
dreamt of her
when rain came
sweet wrappers

tortula ruralis

but some of us are looking at the star moss
huddled up to lamp posts
with only the space between our ears
does it fall to us here

wings of desire

first it was Icarus
who flew higher

if heat rises
why is it
I’m so cold up here

Laura McKee started writing poetry by mistake, a few years ago. She likes to walk and take photos, while writing in her head. The poems have turned up in journals, including Other Poetry, Aireings, Obsessed With Pipework, Ink Sweat and Tears, Prole, The Journal, The Lake, and Morphrog, as well as on postcards to friends.

Natalie Shaw – three poems

And you will fall asleep by the time I count to a hundred

Lean into the cot, reach down,
breathe in, breathe out, pat.
When the crying starts again

go back to the beginning
wash twenty thousand socks
pair and unpair, pair and

unpair. Breakfast, lunch and
tea – set out, clear up,
wipe down. Lateness will mean

tears: don’t stop, start
again: run the bath
again: brush the teeth

again: breathe in, it’s late,
don’t cry. At the edge, don’t
look down or back or in.

Stand still, sing a song.
Hush, keep counting, pat.
Start again from zero.


In the zip of my suitcase
In the threads of my knickers
The toys with the knobbly bits
The toys with instructions
See-through sarcophagi for fruit and for lettuce,
Carrots and peppers, potatoes and onions

The files and containers, dividers and flaps
The circuitboards, keyboards, the tabs and escapes
The toys and the toys and the toys and the toys
Ski boots and helmets and toggles and tags
Pedals and dashboards: turn left, make it hot
Contraceptive devices, waterproof sheeting
Shower trays, curtains, goggles and gloves

The bags in the cupboard
The bottles for water
The lid for the syrup
The case for the felt tip
The stretch of the fabric
The film in the attic
The glasses that suit me
The three pairs that broke

Pots for the lotion, tubes for the toothpaste
Dimple-popped packets for pills to stop sadness
Breast pumps for mothers and trays shaped for apples
The ambassador’s very best chocolates in boxes
All of it parcelled off, molded, dispatched
Sealed in and suckered, stoppered, shrink-wrapped.


It is the first thing we look for and find
it fills us up –
we are
calmed and
quieted by it, fall asleep with it, cry for it
maybe tired/hungry/sad/hungry/all
sometimes we smell it on others
we want it
we root for it
it is ours

later, our teeth are named for it
we sleep without it, alone
the soft warm places are not ours any more
it is from another animal, it is from a bottle
we drink from cold hard places
there are other things now
we are more than just drinking now
there are other things now

we are big:
our teeth fall out and we swap them for money in the night
now it comes to us
in one-each bottles in one-each squares in a blue plastic crate
we take our bottle at breaktime
we push straws through tin foil circles
we are busy with other things
on a sunny day it goes funny and we leave it

now we are the ones and it is a small choice
it is foamed on our sophisticated coffees or
it is something we decline
we look better without it, dark and hard
we do not think of it
it is everyday, it is always on our list
it is with cereal at breakfast
sometimes we do not eat breakfast
sometimes we smoke cigarettes instead, or stay in bed

Natalie Shaw lives and works in London. Her poems have appeared in various online and print journals, including Butcher’s Dog, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Prole and The Interpreter’s House. She blogs from time to time at

Colin Will – three poems


Summer childhoods in the woods
I’d watch dor beetles flying –
black, buzzy bullets –
wavering slowly, erratically,
between the trunks.

Sometimes inert ones
on the ground
would be turned over
to reveal clusters of mites
in the chinks of chitin armour,
sucking the hydraulic fluid
until there wasn’t enough left
to power the wings.

Big, gentle, lumbering, shiny as jet
and lustrous as a crow’s wing,
with bristly legs and hooked feet;
into their inscrutable faces I projected
a kind of heroic stoicism.


Crab sandwiches.
Free crab sandwiches,
the man said.
So we went along.
Free Mark Hix crab sandwiches,
brown or white bread,
brown and white meat.
Saw the chef.
Speeches about the first
Lyme Regis Crab Week.
A crooner who was,
we thought,
pretty good.
And crab sandwiches.
Second and third helpings,
and then
we stopped counting.

The service

We’re sitting together
to receive words
from the other side.
It’s not comfortable –
the eager rows
are just too close.

Hymns are announced
and immediately sung
unaccompanied. I don’t know them,
so I stay silent, even for

“Oh Death, where is thy sting?”
to the melody of
“I want to teach the world to sing.”

There’s a prayer;
something about
life not ever ending,
and I want to shout a denial
but politeness wins.

Now we’re into messages.
Names are thrown in the air.
One is picked up, repeated.
It’s a three-way chat
with one silent partner.
The relay sounds
like some flawed switchboard,
a muffled megaphone.

Some words find targets –
by chance or skill
I couldn’t say. Others seem
at tangents to real lives,
but hope is twisted to fit
and they’re accepted.

I can’t believe
what I’m hearing. It seems
forms finer than shadows
walk beside us,
whisper unheard nothings
over our shoulders.

My friend says not to worry,
newcomers almost never
make contact the first time.

She must sense, surely,
I’ll never come back,
but I’ll remember
the cold, open beach,
her hair blowing in the wind,
the things she does
to camouflage her scars.

Colin Will lives in Dunbar. He has had eight poetry collections published, the latest being The Book of Ways (Red Squirrel Press, 2014). He does readings, runs workshops, and chairs the Board of the StAnza Poetry Festival. He runs the pamphlet publisher Calder Wood Press, and the poetry zine The Open Mouse. Website:

Richie McCaffery – three poems


The new year
began for us
with a dead magpie
spangled in the road.

That bairns-song
skipped into my head,
of One for sorrow
and two for joy.

Woe lay done-for
in our peripherals,
the flat bird already
like newspaper print.

Only these past years
could take a death
and turn it so well
into a good omen.

The missionaries

The missionaries came to try and save me
up the narrow alleyway to our house
where the cat killed and plucked a pigeon,
leaving the wings to brush up the mess.

They came with badges and email addresses,
it was all free, but I still wasn’t buying
and sent them back that narrow way,
watching them step over detached wings.

Season ticket

When you have waited a life for signs
that your time is now, you settle

for those left behind that say it’s over,
like the shop that still uses letterheads

from a previous broken business
that treated you well, knew your name

or the blue communal carpet of the train
that only shows grey hairs in its weft.

In the train window, all is doubled –
a cup becomes a figure of eight, the tea

inside it tastes twice as bitter, but I am
not so clearly cloned, like my ghost

hovers always an inch outside my body
so I am both the haunter and haunted.

Richie McCaffery grew up in Northumberland and now lives in Stirling, Scotland. He has been a Carnegie scholar and a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Glasgow and is busy finishing a PhD in Scottish Literature on the Scottish poets of World War Two. He is the author of two poetry pamphlets, including Spinning Plates (HappenStance Press, 2012) as well as the 2014 collection Cairn from Nine Arches Press. He is slowly editing and collecting poems for another pamphlet.