One Poem by W J Wrigley


Fear waking up too suddenly,
There are layers between our minds and the restless world,
But also in the depths of sleep
There is far too much to remember.

She awoke upon a riverside,
Anointed by sky,
The water whispered, the trees sighed.
Boats sailed past with sails and steam,
And all the passengers waved.

An old woman lay by her right,
A silent baby by her left,
The dream was lonely, the light without warmth,
The sky moved with terrible interest.


W J Wrigley is a recent graduate of Nanoscience, Physics and Chemistry of Advanced Materials in Trinity College Dublin but his primary interest is in literature. He has had fiction and poetry published several times in the university journals The Icarus and Attic and elsewhere and he hopes to continue to improve and progress.

One Poem by Rennie Halstead

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.


Just wait here, they said
Someone will join you in a minute,
explain the job. Would you like coffee?
Whatever you do, don’t move.

That was an hour ago. No coffee
No explanation.
I like the view well enough
Plenty to see, but I need the loo.

It’s nice up here. Quiet,
plenty of time to think.
I wonder what Jill would say.
Get a job, she said,
Anything. There’s work if you look.
Perhaps I’ll give it another hour.


Rennie has been writing poetry for years, but usually publishes work on his blog at

Two Poems by James Walton

These bridges, too far

My friend and my enemy
are buried together

where the peat is frozen as glass

over by Bartlet’s Outlet
the falls we played beneath

a chandelier of tears

side by side
the child and the adult

grow under the mound

patted gently with spades
of rifles loaded from Sundays

an armistice culls the night

its preparatory days
wound through this shared village

life in a slow yeast

our days broken and unsealed
drafty windows blown out

of the class room photos doors ajar.

Jazz Festival Inverloch,
Labour Day Weekend

Days flip verso
a large bass floating,
scored over the inlet breeze
pianists compete for what’s left of cool.
Notes are transfused eternal,
the flamenco trio has a new language
George Michael to a different beat.
The sky draws sail boards in bluesy clefs
the old blokes banter in sets,
so familiar they change key with a look
marry Rodrigo in Autumn Leaves,
tapping feet counting in vintages.
Torch singers coy the crowd,
drummers get their solos
saxophones blow a curing mist.
Buskers play kiss chasey for a place,
strangers smile a harmony.
A day is gifted on to another
all silky wrapping smooth as sway.


James Walton was a librarian, a farm labourer, a cattle breeder, and mostly a public-sector union official. He is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers.

One Poem by Edward Alport

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.


By night he walked so close to the edge
That the sparks flew up beneath his feet
And the iron hand of motherhood
Reached out to draw him safe and still.

So the edge crept closer, and the sparks
Became a network of weaving shadows, inviting the slip,
And the mother’s hand became
A wail of grief, as hard and sharp as a knife.

The footsteps paused. The edge resolved
Into an echo-chamber, a speaking cube,
A steel box where voices pressed his eyes.

The hand withdrew, and tears appeared,
Decorating each fingertip with dew.
The wailing faded to a clenched silence.
Continue reading “One Poem by Edward Alport”

One Poem by Lizzie Ballagher

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.


You ask me how I came to be up here.
Insist you’ll keep me talking.
But I know your tricks—so stop your stalking!

You ask me would I tell you the time?—all casually,
as if we were in the lobby twenty floors below.
You don’t fool me, though, ’cos I can see your own watch
winking under the cuffs of that white coat. Hey, I don’t need
to recite my name, the time, or any tearful tales. Don’t have a fit!
Just leave me on this parapet.

And how did I get here? you ask, polite as a politician
who glues his smile on, white teeth bared.
Madmen! I shall not be snared.

You’re the crazed ones—don’t you think?—
tramping out in gloomy twilight
to find a beige man in beige turn-ups
(my #64301 sewn on the label)
who’s just done a soft-shoe-shuffle out
the back door of the nuthouse
while you minders sitting at the table
were smoking, playing cards.
You think you understand me, you—
but you ain’t gotta clue!

For fifty years I’ve been a lepidopterist,
though now the only way I get to see
a butterfly aloft in dancing air
is through triple-paned security glass.
I had to make a run for it. Or fly.
I flew, you know. Or fled—
however you want to mince the words
to pretend we none of us know
what’s really going down here,
what’s gonna go, and who’ll be dead.

Listen. I am the butterfly, the sane one, who loves clear air:
the only one of us who’ll fly free from here;
while you’re the one enchained to earth, who lives in fear.

At this vertiginous height upon the parapet
there’s no one here to pin me in a cabinet
or put me in a cage and watch me crash my wings on glassy walls.
So before you throw your foolish safety nets
to scoop me from the rooftop, hear this:
you can’t catch me; won’t catch me.
Don’t you haul me from the ledge.
You’re the one on the edge, can you not see?
I am the butterfly—from now until forever             flying free.

Continue reading “One Poem by Lizzie Ballagher”

Three Poems by Mark Conway

in the high days

those were the weeks
of my pre-conversion –
the sun clear as cider / preserving
the late light of september…
roads led to roads down to lanes
and dark cities
to taverns bursting with
strong-legged women and drink swimming
in foam –
it was then I’d such longing
for the undoing of seasons
taking down summer’s hair
smelling her unblemished cotton…
behind my motives
I saw nothing
but hunger and went on –
as the young do –
lifting down the night bottle
taunting the stars as nothing / nothing but holes
that town made me
swore me
to be done with the long burn / I converted
my mysterious mind
into water / made it clear as the night lying
on cornfields ::
summer evenings
the moon rises
tearing my old thoughts off
almost as though
they hadn’t made me

in the lee

I trusted
no one / not
that I
blame them /
but now
you – you
stay here
in rooms
filled with
books and
the smoke
of old
music – all
lived in
the eye
of the world-
storm ::
but never
before and no
one ever
stayed here
now even
the days
before you

in wheat :: the revelator

gray air above
the hayfield sags
then whips – cross-
grain – over
the freezing plains :: never
an end to re-vision…
we sit on the front porch
looking through
the unseeable
the air filling with wind –
bright with particulate…
the endless prairies last
for ever / then
are rendered to coal :: look –
across the black-canvas sky
past the terrestrial dark
all the lost buffalo
up in flames


Mark Conway’s third book of poetry, rivers of the driftless region, will be published by Four Way Books in early 2019. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Slate, Boston Review, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review Online, Ploughshares, the PBS NewsHour and Bomb. He lives in rural Minnesota (USA).

One Poem by Jan Harris

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

From a skyscraper’s roof

It’s all about the view from here
and never looking down,
where the horizon is a prayer
answered at dusk and dawn.

And never looking down
is a kind of freedom
remembered at dusk and dawn
by the blackbird’s sweet song.

There is a kind of freedom
when the horizon is a prayer,
its sweet amen the blackbird’s song.
Oh, the view from here!


Jan Harris writes poetry, short stories and flash fiction. Her work has appeared in many literary magazines and ezines including Mslexia, Acumen, Envoi, Nth Position, Popshot, Ink Sweat and Tears, 14 Magazine, and Flashquake.

Two Poems by Carolyn Oulton

Women in Kent

You’d like to see again
a country lane and sheep
beyond this well-fenced garden.

You’d like them to take you.
I wonder if they do
on the days you’ve forgotten.

My skin curdles in the heat,
hair pulling on my neck
like toffee on an apple.

From here I can see
the muscles of cows
rise and dip,

paddle a way through
a hundred grasses,
catch the points of holly

as butterfly wings
hold a current and plunge
into purple and yellow.

Now it’s raining
in a well-lit room
in a village nearby.

And you have to decide.
Between food and shelter.
Now. Which queue to be in.

Later you will make tea
for local cricket teams,
have words about the dog next door.

But you will remember
always, the sound of the siren,
the darkness of those walls.

Guide to Folkestone 1914-15

From the careful collection
of measurements of rain
(last year’s rain) we’re working
six months in advance.
It is not yet the thing
to bring one’s own sugar
to tea parties. Dora waits
on the open shelf by the window.
This comes from the box
of ‘Guides year to year: incomplete’,
while out at the back
The Victoria Pier and Other Attractions
is coming unglued at the spine.
The librarian makes me wait because
someone’s reading. I like this enough
to keep – I can’t get a book from the room
at the back, he’s reading in there.
So I go for the box
of illustrated leaflets on the town.
1914 the pavilion on the Leas
will cater for croquet, lawn tennis and gym;
bathers will not be incommoded by sand
– because there isn’t much. And as for rain,
at any rate it never lasts all day.


Carolyn Oulton is Professor of Victorian Literature at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her poetry has appeared in: Acumen, Orbis, The Frogmore Papers, Seventh Quarry, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Envoi, New Walk, Artemis and Upstreet. Her most recent collection Accidental Fruit is published by Worple Press.

One Poem by Alun Robert

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge

In Search Of That Someone

… deep in the psyche
weighing up options
it’s still a long way down
if equidistant from above
with an absence of action
yet a plethora of possibilities
stepping off the parapet
into another dimension
where gravity is absent
centrifugal is constrained
conscience is conscious
all pride has been swallowed
while time is irrelevant
no dial on the parade
though the sun still shines
at the stroke of midnight
with everything in perspective
though the horizon doesn’t exist
for dogs don’t bark
and asps can’t bite

while the ark is long gone
as the flood has abated with
fighting, taunting, goading, slaying,
wars, battles confined to history
but can never be forgotten

when rain doesn’t spit
although water is plentiful
for the tûba tree flourishes
to proffer a welcome
no matter the skin colour
or ethnicity of race
or appearance at the Gate
or gaudy attire
or how they arrived
or what they had done
or what they believe in
or what they don’t
just that they are here
for the journey has been long
in search of their someone
from eons ago
with love unrequited
questions unanswered
was physical now ethereal
… somewhere ahead


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.

One Poem by Sam Smith

Mindlands (1)

This busy 5-way junction, in among black poles topped with red-to-green traffic lights, has a man on the kerb edge standing behind his stomach and sucking on his grey moustache. Cars and vans queue to left and right; stop, go; and stream across, orange sidelights going on and off. This man questions that ‘infinity’ and ‘constant’ can exist only as mathematical concepts. Asks will stars always outnumber the human dead?
Low-fronted cars push their bright, yellow-white lights along the wet-black road towards him. Can this man accept, as another truism, that, if memory equals experience, he will not experience his own death?

Mindlands (2)

A man like Solzenhitsyn, beard under his chin, walking alone on his nodding return from the reed-edged pond, wonders why a golden-eyed duck should be beguiling and a red-eyed duck so off-putting. After all, his pursed lips reason, a duck is a duck is a duck and should engender no emotional response.
Tomorrow he will throw his torn crusts towards the red-eyed duck, and he knows that he will feel, despite conceding its irrationality, that he has performed a benevolent act.

Mindlands (3)

Leaving the shop, newspaper folded and stuck upright into his jacket pocket, this curved thin man ducks and slides away from today’s standing around set of pavement idiots, those who think they are capable of understanding him and so can offer him the sympathy of pity. He has none for himself.
A washed-up never-has-been is what he calls himself, despises both what he was and what he has become. On reaching a safe distance he lets a fart growl out, as if even his arse is angry.
Continue reading “One Poem by Sam Smith”