Julie Hogg – three poems

Chez Collette

Still only nineteen,
I pretended at first
it was a brownstone
Brooklyn basement,
mid 20th Century,
cleverly renovated,
incorporating natural
Andalusian light,
imported in, that it
was meant to be
black and white,
without shadows,
small under a breath
curses trapped in
corners or twisted
venetian blinds, thick
with muffled dust. I
shifted the scene to
rosy-bud bulbs,
home fire’s lit up
even on Indian
Summer evenings,
big-hearted looks
thrown over flames
like chivalry instead
of cat’s eyes snuffed
on each threadbare
tread, I always reeled
in the torch beam when
he said, Claire, let’s
collect the condiments.

Corpse Roads

We both know this way,
the way that feels like forever.

The blackest path taking
the longest shortcut past

deciduous expectancy and
all the warmest, safest houses

rooted solidly in you
and me and can you see?

Mortality hanging patiently
in the trees and can you hear?

Kind crinkled smiles from
all of our ancestors who came

by this way and can you say why?
For us, intrinsic happiness will never,

ever fade and maybe, just maybe,
can I walk alongside you, home.

Why you should always walk along a pier

at twilight on your anniversary, past the kiosk,
under the slightly kitsch façade and kiss-me-quick
cliché into tomorrow’s familiarity and intricate structure.

Hold her hand when it seems she might fall through
your fingers, her own intuition or the cracks in the boards
where the sea slips like a dripping tap over seams and salt scars.

She’s saying Scandanavia is closer than you’d think and
thinking how you used to undress her with words and how she
wishes, of all the beaches in the world, she’d visited that Tate one,

Porthmeor, and you’re gripping iron railings like they’re a firm planned-
out life, at the end of a platform, you’re losing the light, turn around fast,
focus blurred sight on the promenade then come back, back, please come back.

Julie Hogg graduated from the University of Teesside with an MA in Creative Writing in 2012. She has work published in Alliterati, The Black Light Engine Room, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Lemon Quarterly, The Linnet’s Wings, The Screech Owl, The Stare’s Nest, StepAway Magazine and Yellow Chair Review. Anthologized by Appletree Writers, Ek Zuban and Kind of a Hurricane, she is featured in a chapbook, Dark Matter 2, from the Black Light Engine Room Press.

Claire Seymour – three poems

Text Messages at the End of the World
(Re: Idk)

I think it’s cool the way u save
sugary cereal milk in the bowl
for last in the honey-haze
of morning but idk if thats weird?
& Ik we’re not, like, together,
but I’m wearing the blue dress
that u call summer shade,
the slice of color on my legs
kinda like the chorus of
Strawberry Fields Forever
by the Beatles. Whatever,
it’s just stupid hahaha.
It’s November remember last yr
ur tires slipped thru the ice in my
driveway + ur breath was clouds
of powdered sugar & my veins
long blue roads leading west idk idk
the air was a streaming blotch of film
glowing signs like goldfish lol remember?
I mean ik we’re not, like, a thing,
but I still remember ur verandah in Georgia
& the honeysuckle u put in my hair
lol but it doesn’t matter? Forget it.
This doesn’t, like, mean anything.
Right? Okay?

Boys and Girls

I was fourteen,
tequila shots, a blurry boy
shoving me against a wall,
I don’t want to write about that.

I could write about the
golden girls I kissed in Louisiana,
blue stained glass eyes,
slow waltz voices spilling into my mouth.
They wore crosses on their chests,
shimmering dove feather white.

I think I want to write about
the boys I’ve loved, who
didn’t want the hero to die,
the ones with starry voices,
breaking wishbones like a
quiet, soft yellow tragedy.
I’ve loved girls with pale
revolutionary limbs, who

wake from dreams they cannot
remember. Girls with Florida legs
and stretched out skin,
who said “you are so tiny”
over and over until I was aching.

I’m definitely not going to think
about last April, gaping
black galaxy mouth,
a smooth white kitchen,
something like a dream,
anything but a dream.

It’s hard for me to write about
My father, who drinks scotch
with stunning passion,
full moon eyes growing brighter
until light and heat blind him.
This is for the boys that
will become like him,
the ones without mothers,
who cry when the cows
are slaughtered, empty lungs
for days, who allow their futures
to kick them black and blue.
I look at my father, think,
I will never love anything like you.

One day, I will love girls
who chase after taxi cabs,
girls who play with my hair,
boys with butterfly lips,
who remember New York as
insomnia and smoke rings,
who let wonder devour them.

One day, I will love too hard and too fast,
another day, with the
quivering heart of a mouse.
Somewhere, boys and girls
are leaping forward,
someday, I will open my eyes
and scream, “Catch me!”

Lullaby for Insomnia

This happens in some sort of second life,
I swear.
In the haze of winter
the sky loosens
& pale confetti drifts down
onto cobblestone streets.

the lightbulb above your bed
For a moment, there is just darkness–
I don’t know where your body
begins or ends.

My gold dress falls around my ankles
& sleep is a wonderland far, far, away.

Eyes like silver dollars,
your bedroom like a fishbowl,
the rest of the world
is just a distant memory.

Claire Seymour lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and the Norman Mailer Awards. Her work has been published in Hypernova Lit, Hypertext Magazine, the Chautauqua Literary Journal, Thistle Magazine, and the Baltimore Review.

Petra Vergunst – three poems

The Commute

Remember when that road
marked the frayed ends that
strung your day, the music

in that foot-chipped case
that urged you to
slow down in overblown corners
speed up on brass sections

your journey kept pace with the music –
grief, anger, exultation

now, as you are to sell the car, you
find that CD in your dashboard
and shift back a gear

Percussive Silence

She can hear her own breath
echo in his empty room
the clash of his cymbals has softened
no foot to exhale the dust

On the doorstep of the garage
she listens to his rhythm
his head low, the drum’s response
he doesn’t notice her standing there


No room for her, he had said

After the ladies had paid
she cleared up
crumbs, cold coffee
espresso brewed behind the counter

How she wanted to be a princess
head clean-shaven, jeans torn
t-shirts, trainers

Not his taste
her landlord apprehended

She exchanged her apron
for headphones
and left the raging machine
for the ritual drumming
of the Rite of Spring

Petra Vergunst is a freelance community artist, composer and poet currently working on a series of poems about music. www.musicforcommunities.blogspot.com

Sarah Frances Moran – three poems

The Yellowstone Caldera

She said let’s start a fire and so we did.

Now we run around looking for tools to exhaust the flames.

We fail.
Those tools don’t exist.

They determined our love was being stored below Yellowstone,
one of the planet’s greatest time bombs

and all I can think is…

Those tools don’t exist
and we can’t stop this eruption.

Hurricanes and Constellations

My mind is a hurricane
loaded with atom bombs.

She said that she loved me
but was having trouble weathering my storm.

I tried explaining this had been raging
since my inception but her face was a void.
It was all darkness and no stars. Imagine the sky that way

and me attempting to navigate a Universe free of

Some weather patterns are meant to fizzle.
Mine will always drop destruction.

Hugging The Curves To Your Sunrise

I have determined
all of the many ways to your moans.
I’ve perfected the turns and learned the stops.
I know the shortcuts to your arms wrapped around me
and I know the long ways to cruising into your hands clinching pillows.

I know when to take the high road and when to take the low road.
I know what kind of fast car you want drifting along the curves.

I’m not delusional enough to ever think I built them
or that I laid the foundation for the concrete and the directions and the destination.
I know I wasn’t the first car here.

But I do know your backroads, your freeways, your highways, dirtroads and bridges
and no one can navigate them like me.

No one will ever shift into high gear and witness your sunrise coming over the horizon,

like I can.

Sarah Frances Moran is a stick-a-love-poem-in-your-back-pocket kind of poet. She thinks Chihuahuas should rule the world and prefers their company to people 90% of the time. Her work has most recently appeared or is upcoming in Rust+Moth, Maudlin House, Blackheart Magazine, Red Fez and The Bitchin’ Kitsch. She is Editor/Founder of Yellow Chair Review.

Debbie Cannon – three poems


This ‘I love you’ is truer than
all the others that have gone before.
It’s fiercer, fearless, more intransigent,
it has no back-up plan, no safety-net,
it shines,
irretrievable as a bullet,
ripe as a bronze Harvest moon
after so many uncertain silver parings.

These are the times, in the coiled anticipation of the dark,
or the joyful, unfurling ripple of the day,
when I am tighter with you than knuckle or rib.
I am
a yearning in your belly,
a fluttering of love against the net of your hands.
And when you fling me forth,
I am
a spilling of ribbons,
a bright white startling of doves,
dazzled by my release.

The Irish Actor

stands, takes on the stage,
a pugilist, soaked in sweat and spotlight,
his spiking beard snow-sewn like winter gorse,
his eyes that stare beyond the airless ‘O’
to skip and run across the blue to home.
And from its wooden ribs he feels the pulse of stage,
absorbs the heart-beat of the hanging audience.
He dares them –
makes them wait
and read the conjuring of his face,
until he shouts,
sways like a dancer,
and puckers rosebud lips to throw out spit like kisses.

After, in the bar, he leans
a tender hand around a Guinness glass,
hugs out his arms and laughs with beery breath,
‘Yes you were good, but I –
I was magnificent!’


I’d like to
pretend that
I know
what I’m doing
when I slide
my hands
inside your clothes
and your skin
creeps in
my palms
but I don’t.
I haven’t got
a word for it.
Even though
it holds me
while hours
wrap round me,
against all odds
for years
in this
same place,
I’m always
only just
feeling my way.
So I walk
my fingernails
up the column
of your spine
and count
the stages
of your growth
like inch-rings
on a tree.
I keep
my mouth closed tight
and don’t try
to explain,
just wait
and find
a new way,
every time.
Minutes flick red
in darkness
when moonlight
blooms through
a crack
in the curtains
and drips
on the floorboards
sliding through
the ridges
like spilt milk.

Debbie Cannon is an Edinburgh-based actor and writer. Her poetry has recently appeared in The Open Mouse and Peeking Cat (issue 5). Some of her favourite things are books, tea, her 12 year old son, and watching happy dogs on the beach. She’s on Twitter as @DebsCa

John Darwin – five poems


He dances over Yorkshire
as an old man spreading dust
of angels on the mortal.

Takes pleasure from the movement
of limbs set free from worry,
creaking knees and clicking heels.

He used to graft in textiles,
crafting heddle, shuttle, beam.
Now he tips his hat to strangers

and sways to his own tune.


A heart has more strings
than you have taken.
I am plucking those now.

Play more tricks,
four strings or six.
I will counter-harmonise
in consecutive fifths.

The timpani of this
will be lost
on you.

Nordic Hotel, Leeds 6

A student from Iran in the residents’ lounge
amused us with tales
of shaven heads and pony tails
in Tehran, pre Ayatollah.

Two hundred miles from home,
a back street guest house
with that weird spotted vinyl
in front of the bar.

Peppermint pop was exotic,
no charge for soft drinks.
A Yorkshire businessman
must have thought we were poor.

At the owners’ Silver Wedding
Dad claimed D-Day shrapnel
prevented him from dancing.
He was twelve at the time of the landings.


My Father found green fingers in his 50s,
how we mocked his passage into middle age,
with the naivety of the colour, not envy.
The lawn sprung emerald under his touch.

We sat with brandy and stuttered friendship
in his field of greens.
I touched on my desire to free Ireland.
‘As a haughty outsider,’ he scoffed.

Ffynon Farm

There was a door at the foot of the stairs,
the feel of 1920s Wales and the stammer of the language.

1961 etched into the yard,
looked the same in reverse,
our home for two weeks that seemed like years.

Felicitous home with big-eared boys
and our Parents’ friends from Yorkshire.

There were hippies in the field,
amused us with their ‘yeahs’ and ‘mans’,
a family from Urmston and rats by the cesspool,
we had no sense of time or plans.

Dad let me sit on his knee and pretend to drive
while dogs yapped at the wheels,
made that joke about Mr Mallett
crouching in the seat, changing gear in stutters.

The farmer let us pretend we were helping
while his sons swore at us in Welsh.

John Darwin lives in Manchester. He has been published in the anthology ‘Misery Begins at home‘ (Robert Brady, 2010) and as part of the poetry collective A Firm of Poets in the collection Holding Your Hand Through Hard Times (Ossett Observer Presents, 2014). He performs his work throughout the UK with A Firm of Poets and, occasionally, solo. He hosts a monthly poetry night at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale, Manchester. He is a Turkophile and enjoys frequent bumbles around Istanbul and the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. Follow him on Twitter @DarwinPoet.

Michael Crowley – three poems


They come in a rush like children out of school.
The willow sprinting, the birch behind,
bright-lined creases looking up to the light –
an infant’s hand unfolded in mine last year.

Between my fingers a blackcurrant leaf –
a colander full, air thick with wine in my mother’s kitchen.
Come Christmas I’ll heap dead leaves to feed the buds,
my finger in Rosa’s palm, round and round the garden.

Alice Springs

We can’t see the desert,
the red splintered hills,
only Woolworths beyond the palms.
Blasé backpackers sit barefoot
sipping coffee under awnings
between postcard racks and bush-hat stands.

A bird whistles like a boy.
Ghosts of Aboriginal people
file through the precinct, carrying blanket rolls.
They are wordless,
invisible inside their limbo
to the shoppers, diners, the white people.

A child pulls off her shoes,
throws them at a fenced-in tree,
runs to catch her mother.

In England developers are coming
for the village. Before we left
I walked over the field to the white cabins
watched a man look through his tripod.
He mapped the land. By now
the breeze blocks will be down.

The Arrernte people are heading
for the Todd River-bed, for songlines,
for gasoline. They walk all day,
silhouettes touching the sun.
They walk as if in a dream, our dream.
When the rain comes, parrots will hang upside down
and they will be gone.

Waiting for Bats

The sun crawls off, churning up evening.
Mosquitoes swim in the dimness.
They come from their coma –
mammal-kites, beetle-birds, twitching
out of cold stone. We stand and count them
as they scale the gusts, pitch themselves
at ricochets, turn us, stoop us.
One trails another in a frenzy of pairing
or rage. I cast up a pebble to break a wave,
a bat spins back, flies headfirst towards the joke
every time.

They are alive again. They have survived
the renovation of ruins,
the coldblooded walls of winter.
They go on living in dark
while we wait at the edges of light
for longer days. We can go inside,
close the blind, lie down together.

Poet and playwright Michael Crowley teaches creative writing at Sheffield Hallam University and was previously a writer in residence in a young offenders institution. His debut collection is Close To Home (Prole, 2012) and his second, First Fleet, will be published by Smokestack Books in 2016. His website is at www.michaelcrowley.co.uk

Maurice Devitt – three poems


On dark nights she taunts him
with names from her past,
men she’d had

in the eavesdropping rooms
of cheap hotels, men
who slobbered love,

then left her with the aura of sweat
and a crumpled bank-note.
Tonight he remembers their names

recites them
like a litany of devils,
voice spiralling

until it cracks
and in the sharp cold of morning
he heeds her advice –

Be sure
to button your duffel-coat
right up to the neck

Growing Up in Colour

We argued
was grey really light black
or dark white? It didn’t matter,
either way you wanted red,
the colour of a dress
you had seen
on the back of The Bunty
when you were ten,
cut out with precision
and blunt scissors.

The uniform chaos
of your teenage years,
lost in a sea of slate
and beige, brightened
with a sneak of lipstick
for the short walk home
and later your first tattoo,
a small red heart
still waiting for a name.


You disappeared on one of those bright,
geometric days when everything is visible
and now we fill the hours
with imaginings of you. Waving
from the deck of a cruise ship
on the Baltic, the man beside you
turns his face away. On a forest path
not far from here, a stranger,
chasing a dog, spots you walking alone,
but always yesterday, never today.
Then hazy pixels of you,
goofing on the street corner
of some vaguely familiar town, face
scarfed against the wind, eyes scuffed.
And every day we wake
while the clock sleeps, lie listening
for your cough in the morning mist.

A graduate of the MA in Poetry Studies at Mater Dei, Dublin-based Maurice Devitt recently won the Trócaire/Poetry Ireland Competition 2015. He has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, the Listowel Writers’ Week Collection Competition and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. He has had poems published in various journals in Ireland, England, Scotland, Mexico, the US, Mexico, India and Australia and is a founder member and chairperson of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.