Two Poems by Tina Cole

Cuckoo Child

Their song was alien to mine,
with no urgency for common language
they maintained a parallel affinity,
instinct knew the truth of this intruder
yet still they fled back and forth,
worked hard to keep pace with hunger
and rapid begging calls. 

The chick they nurtured was dove grey,
stripe vested, the mother a drab busy
bird overwhelmed by the unease
of our differences. Voracious was a word
used in her every chirp and command,
she fed me the cold worm of suspicion
but this fledgling malcontent
always knew the call of warmer horizons.

Siberian Sunday

Come inside, place your palm like a quiet
vow on the blessing of the nearest wall where
the torn join of the pattern is familiar. 

Ease off wellingtons while the bare arms
of trees shed winter blossom. Carelessly casting
off their lean coldness in sheets of flickering snow,

they cannot wait to let it go, watch it dissipate
across blank fields where small birds
hop their criss-cross codes, soon erased

by softly shifting loads. Hinges sing and sigh,
demented wind chimes clatter, as we fling
off corkscrewed hats, regard ourselves

in glass that’s spiked and frozen, return
at last to a room full of scent, the almost spent
bloom of hyacinth, where we share a bounty

of late Christmas fare.


Tina Cole lives in rural Herefordshire. She writes mostly about relationships and how people manage their inner worlds. Her poems have been published in magazines such as Mslexia, Aesthetica and Decanto, with one in The Guardian newspaper. As a member of Border Poets – – she has been involved in many local readings and workshops – and is the organiser of the Children’s Poetry Competition

One Poem by Edward Alport

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

His and Mine

Bored. Bored. God, I’m bored.
The weather is filthy and
I’ve nothing to do.
The rain has hidden
The beautiful scenery.
What shall I paint next?


My bedroom is not
Tidy enough to merit
I have no washstand,
No matching chairs, or perhaps
It’s the same chair twice.


Edward is a lecturer and writer, mostly on business and politics. He often posts twittaku (double haiku in 140 characters) on Twitter, plus the occasional political limerick.

Two Poems by Aditya Shankar

Artist in the Garage

The artist in the garage
finds happiness in elevating
designs to their functionality –

to let a punctured wheel
roll beneath a car again,

to let the toiling hands achieve
the dexterity of spanners,

to let the shadow of the garage
dry, as if an oil spill of the day.

His grease-stained workman suit
doesn’t try to hide the fault lines
of survival attempts.

A tidy labour suit is loneliness,
failure, starvation.

At his aid,
the tool chest,
a wild sanctuary with a wild justice.

The plier that mutilates
the burgeoning wire, a tiger.

The hammer that fires up
the slack nail, a rolling boulder.

The waste cloth that absorbs
the grease, wild grass.

If a day is a fight between
design and its fracturing,

the artist in the garage is
ready. He has seen

the wiper-broken sky leak rain,

the bumper-crashed sea wall
let the houses float,

smile melt into grief
with each passing moment.

Parking a Metaphor

In a city with
enough parking room
for a metaphor,

the car shielding the
shivering dog from rain
is mother.

The ground clearance between
garbage-strewn road
and underhood
is home.

If a running car is an athlete,
a parked car is the hand of God
holding up the crashing world.

In that shade,
the shelter-seeking children
blend their sleep.

The city sleeps
when the mother’s shade bleeds
from beneath the cars,
and blankets it.


Aditya Shankar is an Indian poet, flash fiction writer, and translator. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Unlost Journal, Egophobia, The Expanded Field, 300,000 Years of Us, Otoliths, The Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Modern Poetry in Translation, Armarolla and elsewhere. Books: After Seeing (2006), Party Poopers (2014), XXL (Dhauli Books, 2018). He lives in Bangalore, India.

One Poem by Zack Rogow

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Once I Saw the Famous Room in Arles

As a teenager I saw the famous room in Arles
that Vincent had painted. 1968 was the year,
when the globe was turning
inside out, every revered statue teetering
from Berkeley to Prague.

Friends took us to the bistro downstairs, perhaps
the very place Van Gogh had dined
on rabbit stew and a block of brown bread.

After our dinner of steak frites
and a good bottle of burgundy,
the propriéteur asked if we wanted to see the room,
normally closed to the public.
We followed up the narrow stairs,
and he unlocked the tiny room, furnished
just as in Vincent’s time,
when he’d painted ocean walls
and chairs with wiggly orange legs.
The room was gray, the furniture
square and brown,
and suddenly I glimpsed
the whole yeasty Xanadu
of the imagination.


Zack Rogow is the author, editor, or translator of twenty books or plays. His poetry collections include, The Number Before InfinityTalking with the Radio, poems inspired by jazz and popular music. He is also writing a series of plays about authors. The most recent, Colette Uncensored, had a staged reading at the Kennedy Center in DC, and ran in London and San Francisco. His blog, Advice for Writers, has more than 200 posts. He serves as a contributing editor of Catamaran Literary Reader

Three Poems by Ian Stuart

Kings Square

The square is transient space
where every hour
a thousand purposes
collide and split away.

Yet some moments linger,
hover in shifting light
among the trees,
settle in the pavement cracks.

That weeping ash
taller than rooftops
grew from graves,
its slow roots stabbing down
between the tombstones,
piercing eye sockets and yellowed bones,
and sucking nourishment from
the clammy loam.

Graveyards beg a church
and one stood here,
where tourists take selfies, lick ice creams
and children stamp their feet
to scare the birds.

Crammed between the slaughtering yards,
the butchers’ shops and narrow alleyways
an ungainly barn, all awkward angles,
a stumpy tower.

The Church of Christ the King

A place to mark time

The saints in their proper seasons:
Advent, Christmas, Lent and Corpus Christi,
each celebrated with prayer and candles
and ashes on good Friday.

And sinners had their moment too
where every day was different
and every day the same:

sprinkling at the font,
rings before the altar,
corpses by an open grave.

All kept in proper fashion
and all this for eight hundred years.

Now jugglers mark their sacred space with rope
where blood and incense once hung in the air
and where our forbears bowed their heads in prayer
a bunch of skinny kids are smoking dope.

Picking Pears

Like people, pears will ripen
from inside.
Picked too early, you will find they’re
hard, unyielding.
Leave it late
and there’ll be nothing left
but wasp-drilled carcasses
and mush.

Choose the moment.
A cool September evening seems right –
shifting sunlight and the pears
jade green and flecked with raindrops.

Cup one in your hand
and twist – you’ll hear a click –
the branch flicks back –
you feel the full weight
in your palm.

Like people, pears bruise easily.
Don’t crowd them. Half a dozen
in each bowl is company enough.

Leave them for a day or two
to ripen in the sun
then take a bite –
taste the gush of scented juice
upon your tongue –
that flesh as sweet as summer,
white as snow.


Ian Stuart is a writer/performer living in York. His first collection Quantum Theory for Cats was published recently by Valley Press. When not writing poetry, he will either be telling ghost stories to visitors or walking the dog.

One Poem by Andrew McNeil

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Bedroom in Arles by Vincent van Gogh

As he looked out that window
Vincent looked inward into mine,
To make an incision without end
Into what resonant frequency of living
Colour we are.

And it matters where you sleep, read and draw,
Where you sat as thoughts went toward-
A brother, the childhood that made him.

And it is cooler, not a blaze today.
His window, our heart is open,
Look-listen, to that colour, to that path inward.


I am a writer and poet based in Fife, Scotland. Although born in the USA I am Scottish by formation and write in Scots and English.

I have been widely published over the years and had some wonderful experiences. My work and other studies mean I need to get busy with actually getting another collection and more work out!

One Poem by Sarah A O’Brien

Death and Time

They debate over who holds
more power.
“I take lives,” says Death.
“I am then, now, and later,” says Time.

Death is proud of inciting fear,
of goose bumps on human bodies.
She touches the arm of a young man standing
beside the train tracks. “Aren’t they beautiful?”

Time brags about being a measurement
of love: “forever” and “always.”
“Perfect timing,” he says, letting estranged
lovers meet on a path at the park.

Death and Time arm wrestle,
and Time is able to last
while Death gets quickly bored
and kills Time
telling of her exploits.

Time is running out
the door, but Death is near.

Time laughs as he pushes Death
on the swing of a local playground.
The children are unaware of Time and Death,
lost in their own worlds.

“It’s time for me to go,” jokes Death,
needed at a house fire off Main Street.
“Wait for me,” whispers Time.

At the end of Time,
Death is waiting.
The two friends embrace.


Sarah A O’Brien is a poet from Woburn, MA, USA. She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Boston Accent Lit. Sarah is pursing her MFA degree in Writing at University of Nebraska Omaha. Follow her adventures @saraheditsbooks.

One Poem by Alun Robert

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Perspective From The Third Chair

I sense you stride across Place Lamartine.
Hear you point, gesture       to La Maison Jaune
looking up to my window      adjusting your silk dress
staccato every step en route to la chambre
       parfum wafting like lilac in spring.

I await your sharp knock
for I anticipated your arrival       the parquet
finely brushed by bisom, by me. Chairs
positioned exactly, according to tai-chi     the rules
determined by yin and by yang.

My jackets, my chattels neat on the far wall
       ordered by colour: indigo the left, green towards right.

L’eau fills the blue pitcher,
le savon the flat plate.
A freshly laundered towel     droops the brass hook.
Ghostly white linen     festoons my bed
after washing, starching, triple pressed.

I squint at le miroir now devoid of image
yet our pictures stare, down from on high
to remind me that once      once we were to be as one
in this modest apartment, this was to be our home
with Paul briefly in situ       sur la gauche.

Your existentialism abounds from every dark corner,
       azure walls a metaphor for your prolonged absence.

While breathing intensifies like rapid gunfire
echoing along le couloir        missing the offbeat
when an aching heart warbles         chanson française
as I hear stilettoes         Doppler shift indicating
arrival     at the apartment next door.

Then everything becomes still     everything silent.
No lilting fragrance       not a whisper of wind.
Not the expected grande entrance        though
I envisage a spirit rising     rising through the ether
as bells loudly peel from Saint-Trophime     the Tower.

For I feel you every morning       miss you every day.
Cry when I don’t want to . . . cry myself to sleep.


Born in Scotland of Irish lineage, Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical verse achieving success in poetry competitions. He has featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web. His influences extend from Burns to Shakespeare, Kipling to Betjeman, Dennis to Mazzoli.

Two Poems by Wendy Jones

A Fine Young Man

Its tight weave had a few unravelled threads;
his flannel shirt, well woven
in a green, green valley
of lush leaves rippling
on summer days
where trout swam
in pools of rushing brooks.
He could see it all,
lying there, as his heart thudded time
to its red, red blood seeping
along the severed threads
of his uniform.

A Pair of Red Shoes

Wearing them
with unconscious enjoyment
the child trod shingle and shell,
over dry, crunchy seaweed;
plodded slippingly
over geologically varied pebbles,
felt the seeping wetness
of salty seawater pools;
stuck into sucking, sinking grey mud
and came home shoeless.
Continue reading “Two Poems by Wendy Jones”

One Poem by Sheree Mack

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

suggestive here of rest or of sleep

Dear Theo,

you should see the Yellow House!
Especially in the sun. It’s working
its magic on my tired eyes. Here
in the heart of Provence, I’m blessed.

I write to you giving you details
about the direction of my work.
It’s simple really. I plan to paint
my bedroom. I will paint my bedroom

for you so you will at least have a feel
for this place. A taste. It’s a kind of blue.
Like musical notes fading in and out
with the light. A suggestion of something.

The door, the walls, my jackets and
washing jug and bowl. Blue.
Cornflower blue. Prussian blue.
Lilac blue. Can you picture it?

I lie my head down here and dream
ideas. I see the colour blue caressing
my floating body in this room.
You’ll see when I paint it for you.

Ever yours.          Vincent


Sheree Mack is a Creatrix living on the North East Coast of England. She facilitates visual journaling workshops, nationally and internationally, supporting women in their exploration of their authentic voices. She has a forthcoming collection of poetry with Culture Matters called skinshame.