One Poem by William Conelly

Still in the Swim

With respects to Stevie Smith

Dad stops to wave in empty space.
The pool’s handrail is further on.
The pool’s gutter will be soon,
him plashing, wondering where it’s gone.

Is Dad dismayed to wave or drown?
The man’s dispassionate at worst.
At ease with the unwatered truth,
he treads there stoically, immersed.
Continue reading “One Poem by William Conelly”

One Poem by Rosamund McCullain

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Steal Away Our Destiny

She might well gloat: for the sake of
A few chromosomes here and there the
Fortunes are reversed; it would be her with
The sad face. How do they decide, these atoms,
Electrons, protons, neutrons, quark, strangeness,
Charm, who will go to which soul, who thrives,
Who is enslaved, who is endangered, who is extinct?
It’s Nature’s way, these random assignations, energy
Goes round and round in the universe, seeks a home
And lands here – you will have a life of ease and plenty,
Or here – you will suffer and starve, or here –
You will be a forest animal when they come to chop
The trees down. If there is a rhyme and reason
We are too small to comprehend, dark energy
Propels the universe out and out and we
Will never understand.


Originally from West Yorkshire, Rosamund came to Mid-Wales in 1983 to study English at Aberystwyth University. She fell in love with the Mid-Wales region, and has lived in the area ever since. She moved to North Powys in 1998, where she is now very well settled.

Three Poems by Paul Bluestein

Writing Dance

Drops of blue-black ink,
like rain from some alien sky,
fall from my pen onto sheets of snow-white paper.
Letters . . . words . . . sentences bloom there as if it were spring.
Ideas, drawn in lines and loops,
commas and quotation marks.
A minuet of mind and hand
which has been danced for ten thousand years.

We write for the same reason we sing –
to affirm that we reached for heaven
and though we could not catch hold of the wings of angels,
we managed to pluck a feather as they passed.

The Morning Crept Up

The morning crept up on me,
I didn’t hear it coming.
It announced itself not with a shriek of sunlight,
but with the voice of the vegetable man,
pushing his cart along the alleyway.
“I got carrots, I got potatoes. I got radishes too.”
It was Saturday,
and it was summer
and I was eleven.
There was a patch of sunlight curled up on the bed next to me
as if it were a cat
and I could see a patch of blue just below the roofline,
like a lake stitched into a cloudy sky.
I heard the coffee pot percolating in the kitchen
and the popping of bacon frying
and my mother,
humming along with the radio.

Winter Blue

December sun just leaves me cold.
No promise that the New Year holds
can warm me while I’m still so far from you
and feeling winter blue.

The moonlight silhouettes the trees,
the moon sails through a cloudy sea;
it looks like maybe it will snow tonight,
and change these winter blues to winter white.

Winter days are trickling by;
I stop at Al’s and have a drink . . . or two

I sit and watch the falling snow.
The music on the radio
can’t make me feel the way I used to do,
sounding out of tune and winter blue.

The snowfall covers up the town.
It steals the color and the sound
and if I got the wish I wish tonight,
I’d pack my bags and catch the midnight flight.


Paul Bluestein is a physician by profession, a self-taught musician and a sometimes poet. He rarely sets out to write a poem but there are times when the poetry Muse unexpectedly calls him and rings insistently until he answers, even if he doesn’t want to talk with her just then.

One Poem by Lisa Reily

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Friendship Is Over

Sped along a track in a high-speed sled,
secured against flailing in a special flying suit,
a chimp with windblast burns on his face;
his fear grimace, almost a human smile –
the perfect disposition for space travel.

Hundreds of macaques in secret boxes,
transported on regular passenger planes;
their teeth chatter, they can hardly move;
and oblivious, we sit in economy class,
complaining about the food and leg room.

A mother monkey drugged, her milky nipples
deliberately taped; her baby cries, shakes her;
but she cannot wake to feed him; she falls
in her attempt, to the sound of human laughter;
she is an experiment, on childhood neglect.

Sad-eyed macaques in empty steel cages pick
at bottle top apparatus jutting from their heads,
like they are bottles of soft drink; only blood,
not soft drink, drips slowly down their cheeks;
and chemicals, not sugars, stream into their brains.

A captive chimpanzee taught sign language
accumulates the vocabulary of a human child,
and befriends the scientists who taught him;
the experiment over, they prod him with needles,
and give him AIDS; the friendship is over.


Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry has been published in several journals, such as Panoply, Magma and Foxglove Journal. Lisa is currently a budget traveller with two bags, one laptop and no particular home. You can find out more at

Three Poems by Adrian Slonaker

The Member of the Tribe

Named after a duo of dead grandmas,
Christina Marie never found
her name to be a liability until
she became a Jew.
The daughter of a faithless father
and a mother once too liberal for Oberlin
who mitigated a midlife crisis by
flocking to the fundamentalists,
Christina sought her tribe
as vertigo patients clutch at railings.
Mesmerized by the Mosaic faith
that flashed in the velvety black eyes
of Avi, the raffish artist
who romanced her roommate,
Christina convinced a bull-necked
Reform rabbi to direct her
as she devoured responsa,
inhaled history from Noah to Netanyahu,
and tackled Teach Yourself Hebrew
until the day she was dunked
like a doughnut of naked flesh in the mikveh
and was issued a conversion certificate
that called her Rachel.
But to Christina’s chagrin,
a shul can be icy
for a greenhorn giyoret,
a convert lacking the culture,
so after a month of Fridays
of feeling like meat among milk,
Christina decided to try
the Wiccans.

Trips to Kensley

Oliver and his younger brother Eddie
never refused an overnight trip to see
Aunt Peggy and Uncle Lee and
Christopher and Steve
in the unincorporated community of Kensley
caressing de facto farmland
so dissimilar to their soulless suburb
lying limply on the commuter line from the city.
Unlike their own bland bungalow
where tired, trite rites and tensions
fueled fracases and failures,
Aunt Peggy’s place was perpetually splashed with
volleys of laughter and lights
and video games and whispering after dark
and bowls brimming with Better Than Robert Redford Cake.
Now Aunt Peggy and Uncle Lee have expired, and
Christopher, Steve and even Eddie
have gradually retreated into
the territory of unfamiliarity.
Ditches deepened by
decades of disappointment and boredom
have been dug across Oliver’s brow,
but sometimes he stabs the key
into his used Nissan Micra
which isn’t even close to being paid off –
and cruises over to Kensley
onto a street that has been renamed,
to a once-halcyon house claimed by strangers
before returning to a room that’s
haunted by nothing.

An Obscure Half-Century in Suburbia

He conceded
that he’d failed at adulting
though he had no debt,
no criminal record,
and no addictions
other than snack cakes,
insipid sitcoms
and a Rubik’s cube
he still hadn’t resolved.
Five weeks from his forty-fifth birthday,
he still slept in the same twin bed
that had sheltered his itchy, sweating limbs
after he’ d contracted chicken pox
at New Year 1984.
He clung to his octogenarian progenitors
for fish fingers, fresh fluffy laundry and
too anxious for a driving license
and too cloudy-headed for a job since
his diligent daydreaming had got him
sacked from shelf-reading
at the community library.
And when he craved companionship,
he copied the mobile numbers
of grinning realtors advertised
on weather-beaten bus-stops
and typed “howdy, buddy”
under an invented nom de texto
and an imaginary reason
just to receive a response.


Adrian Slonaker works as a copywriter and copy editor in Urbandale, Iowa, USA. Adrian’s work has appeared in The Bohemyth, Queen’s Mob Tea House, Pangolin Review, Picaroon Poetry, Runcible Spoon and others.

One Poem by James Bell

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

as the gorilla in the picture

I can say she’d never get that close
for one – for two
let’s face the cliché head on (sic)
beauty and the beast – there
I’ve said it and somebody’s going to
wax lyrical – that was my first impulse
and by the way I think she’s ugly
with that stupid smiley face and her
mouth wide open – pal that’s an
aggressive act – my old lady
wouldn’t dare do that without a swipe
of the hand – we’re animals
like you – there is an etiquette –
it looks like I’ve punched the wall
at back – hell I don’t do that –
that’s what you’d call a last resort
we’re the gentlemen and ladies of the jungle
peace lovin’ guys n’ gals who chew fruit
like me there in the picture
in my contemplative mode – the human –
well she just looks crazy though
I guess that’s only my point of view –
we’ll have some chopped up apple
sometime – ciao buddy


James Bell is Scottish and now lives in France. He has written and published poetry for twenty years. At present he is at work on his first short story collection.

Three Poems by Melinda Giordano


Nancy Cunard
Man Ray’s eccentric odalisque;
His peculiar muse
Swathed in bizarre jungles,
Haunted by a ferocious mind that provoked and teased
The covetous avant-garde
Like a child that plays with a toy
Until it falls apart.
And when she found its foolish heart,
With her enigmatic intellect
She would crush it.
Her pale eyes, bright and angry
With a bitter light,
Were rimmed with black
Like a mourning card.
Her hands were coiled like animals:
Feral muscles that roamed
Like villages and townships.
And from wrist to elbow ivory bangles
Were poached along the country
Of her wild and untamed arms.


I pulled the blanket around me
A width of sleeping cloth
To use against the velvet enticements
Of the insolent cold.
And I began to feel the living embroideries
Begin to effervesce,
To crawl and whisper across my skin.
The vines coiled into my hair
With green familiarity,
The quilt hummed with birds, animals
And the palpitation of feathers and flesh:
Warming me with their circulation
And thread counts.
Small movements,
Unknown DNA,
Twisted around filaments and fiber
And swarmed into the hem:
The restless margin
Of verbose and lively stitching.

A Nautical Sleep

The seagull had flown for miles
Over oceans and tangled ships
Beyond the rocks’ ragged geometry
Above glistening and brackish shores
As it sought respite from its salty excursions

Choices drifted beneath it:
But it ignored the breakwater –
The geometric puzzle of stones fixed
Into the rough-hewn mathematics
Of strenuous and comfortless landscapes

It avoided the parched sand:
The unstable, shifting deserts
Made of silica and pulverized shell;
The insidious, hellish powder
That vexed and disrupted particular feathers

It scorned the astringent winds
Sharp with the caustic alchemy
Of uprooted kelp, salt and fish:
The selfish, oblivious forces
That cared not to buoy its exhausted, sinking flight

It found a bed of water:
A gentle and seaworthy nest
Of turquoise rhythms and green lullabies
That sang of the chartless dreams it sought:
The stories of pearls, grottoes and gentle mermaids.
Continue reading “Three Poems by Melinda Giordano”

One Poem by Jim Bennett

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

I do not want to write a poem

I would rather write a caption I know how about look at the teeth on her or how on Earth did that lot win or I go on tinder and this is what I get I mean really do we look compatible? or how about he knows ten words already or heard the one about inter species sex anyway I will stop there I can see a very large banana and it needs some serious attention


Jim Bennett is a poet who was born in Liverpool in the UK a long time ago and is still alive (we think).

Three Poems by Bob Cooper

When the Garden Is Mostly Bluebells

This silence that opens in the cowslip beside the lawn I have so noisily mown will linger where it is found. I rake grass, bend and grab handfuls, tip them into a bin-bag, savour the aroma, clean blades, coil the cable, glance again at the flower, tug out weeds until, jobs done, I close the door on sunlight, sit and slouch with dirty nails, green-stained fingers, gulp down lemonade and rest but tonight when lit windows spread light on the garden I’ll step outside again, stand at the border then kneel, touch its petals. There’ll be no scent, little colour, only the slightest tremble in an unnoticed breeze and still silence.

Introducing the Stare of a Retired Tees-Sider as Autumn Is Seen on the Wirral

There, in the true north it will have started already, seen as she’d trundled
with middle-aged men on the earliest train from Middlesbrough to Newcastle
past sunlit early morning leaves, blotches gaudy as a painter’s fingernails.

Here, only one or two trendsetting trees show the others it’s autumn –
though schoolgirls, heads lowered beside bulging bags, are uniformly silent,
still breaking in new shoes that will soon furrow through their fallen hush –

while she sees a small child pushed in a buggy who holds a sweet chestnut
and stares as warm fingers interlock around its freshly opened brightness.

Waking Up

on a morning when the sun rose
like a knot in a gaudy ribbon
which you hardly noticed as you dried your hair
naked by the window then brushed it
as I marvelled at the silence
undisturbed by the whirr of the hair-dryer,
then lifting your coffee mug which steamed the mirror,
and the loosening sun, the way you looked,
then looked at yourself before looking at me,
took all these years to reach me
and untie memory, and write this down.

Continue reading “Three Poems by Bob Cooper”