One Poem by Martha Landman

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

A Matter of Choice

At least you could have changed your shoes
worn your Nike Lunar Force Duckboots
we bought for the hike in Spain last year.
You always wanted to go out with a bang
but at least, you could have changed your shoes.


Martha Landman lives in Adelaide, Australia. Her work has appeared in various online journals and anthologies in US, UK and Australia.

One Poem by Mark Wyatt


I suppose I dozed on and off
for centuries, lulled by
the melodies of the sea,
entertained by the
stories of sea-
shells, with
flotsam to
read. Awake
now most of
the night and
day, I’m sunny
smiles personified
making all of them
happy; the grannies
in deck-chairs, their
knitting needles flicking
in and out like waves, infant-
like crustaceans busy in the sand
around their feet, the teenagers,
their glistening shapes writhing together
under a benevolent, seen-it-all-before, moon,
lonely dog-walkers humming love songs to themselves
at low tide, that are caught by the wind in snatches.


Mark Wyatt has lived mostly overseas, teaching English in Thailand, Nepal, Oman and the UAE. His pattern poems have appeared in Ambit, ELTED, Poetry Nottingham, Slow Dancer and an Arts Council anthology published by Quartet, while other work has appeared in New Statesman, Poetry Durham, Poetry London and The Rialto.

One Poem by Dorrie Johnson

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Throw back

Someone was kneeling on the pavement -
he couldn’t tell as he approached -
lines, shading, odd shaped spaces.
It changed form as he drew close
until, when the artist stood back,
he was able to stop at the edge
of the drawing, look down -

it was an aerial view,
roofs of buildings, tower blocks
narrowing to ground level,
roads like traces of beetles,
cars as beetles themselves,
the height, the wide perspective.
It was so real
     then, in a heart beat
     he was there again,
     in the glass walled,
     glass floored
     that stalled
     in its descent
     outside the tower.
     He began to tremble, sweat,
     heart racing,
     whole body shaking,
     squeezed his eyes shut…

Someone had his arm,
pulling him, concerned.
He opened his eyes, looked round,
felt the ground solid beneath him,
took the water offered,

he thought, trying to explain,
he should congratulate the artist
on the realism of his street art.


Dorrie Johnson lives on the South Coast where the sea, New Forest and Nature Reserves offer ongoing stimulation. She is a member of a Stanza poetry group. Poetry is one of her interests but she is always trying to improve her writing and has had a little publishing success.

Three Poems by Eira Needham

The Sparrows Sing

Smitten by your freckled face and slender form
but never fooled by that innocent facade,
I recognised a feisty female lurked, unafraid
to fight the girls encroaching on your territory.

You were a flirt, wooed by a father and son
– the junior we nicknamed Toy Boy.
Mesmerised by their dancing and seductive
love bites, you soon became a mother.

Life’s tree is now uprooted, your family foliage
a profusion of blooms. Toy Boy has moved
into your vacant flat, while you probably romp
with his father, your first love, in paradise.

Shrouded in tissue paper, your frail body is laid
in a cardboard coffin. Beneath the mock orange,
I dig deep, where worms and woodlice prepared
the soil to receive you. Nearby two sparrows sing;

I hear a lament for you, Lizzie Lulu –
Leopard Gecko.

When the Clock Chimes

You wear a smiling mask for my
arrival, beyond which I glimpse
torment engraves your brow.

Compassion drains its syringe
plumping solace pillows – Bright Eyes
plays softly, floating like a dream.

Outside, a northerly blusters through the pines;
time chases us through shadows
its faint tick-tock reaching into night.

I roll back the fun times we shared,
remember when laughter glinted your eyes,
until the crab nibbled it all away.


Hi Dad,

I hope you’ve settled in at your new place
and feel at ease. I’m sure familiar folk
rolled out their welcome mat. I miss your face.
It’s great to natter, chuckling at a joke.

Your humour boosts my mood tonight as I’ve
some news of Mum for she’s been rushed away.
The Willows Nursing Home is minutes’ drive
from here, yet I am plunged into dismay.

I know I mustn’t fret, for she’ll receive
optimum care; we knew there was no cure
for her meandering. I do believe
they’re capable of keeping her secure.

Our conversation buzzes through my head;
it is exactly what we would have said.


Eira Needham is a retired teacher, living in Birmingham, UK. Her poetry is eclectic and has been published in print and online. Recent publications are in Poetry Pacific, Voices f\rom the Web and Better than Starbucks. She has also been Featured Writer in WestWard Quarterly and came first in Inter Board Poetry Contest in August 2017.

Three Poems by Frederick Pollack

It Is Written

The heat will begin
halfway upstairs, incalculable,
insulting; damp weight
on the back, shirt, hair, belly
and brain. No air
beyond the screen, only insects
and tired, infected birds.
What was the point, really, of opening
the window? A desperate,
inarticulate need to balance inside
and out. Trump weather,
from now till the next glacier.

(Insert parenthetical action here.)

The particles of humidity
are neither alive nor dead, neither fog
nor cloud. Heavy cloud.
Sovereign, yet gerrymandered perfectly
together, hurt and hurting,
they mop their brows and are what they wipe away.


The ruined temple halfway up,
already visible among the trees,
would be, I imagined, everything I imagined,
and more. But the path was steep,
the famous steps moss-slick and often missing.
I urged upon myself the thought of sitting
on a low wall across from the altar
(did they have altars?), gazing
at bats and carvings, then down
at birds. (However awkwardly you climb,
a hill will let you think you’ve conquered it.)
I knew nothing about the religion
except it had refused the term.
Panting, I imagined one,
its mumbled hymns, sardonic priests,
and ever-ramifying Principle.
But a thorny bush swiped
my face; I stumbled twice in twenty feet;
my canteen didn’t help, and I
knew pain. What insights might have come
among the bat-droppings? Tourism
is a false god, gods are false gods.
The temple, in its funny way, agreed.

Your Place or Mine

He left her satisfied, and was pleased
with himself, since he often forgot
to check sufficiently on that.
Now it was morning and she slept,
slight smile; would only need
to decide (he intuited) when she awoke
if there would be another level.
He rose, showered; found
on a chair and hanging from a door
not his clothes, whatever they had been,
but an excellent suit in his size,
suffused with subtle color.
The burnished oxfords and custom shirt
also fit; the tie was a revelation.
The cufflinks both confused and awed;
he searched vague memories of life and film,
but the principle was obvious; dressed,
he felt considerable satisfaction.
Felt also, as he left,
that she and the apartment would vanish
behind him. Well, it was her apartment,
or was it? The question didn’t seem to matter
compared to the crush he joined in the street,
the men all dressed like him, the women better.
All moved sedately (though some,
perhaps he too, seemed tentative,
like lottery-winners) towards a building
that loomed over the block. With an effort
he remembered he wasn’t religious.
Still wasn’t, but he’d go along.
The music and stained glass were impressive.
Scanning the crowded pews
he wondered if she was there. Perhaps in the choir.


Author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS (Story Line Press), and two collections, A POVERTY OF WORDS (Prolific Press, 2015) and LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). Many other poems in print and online journals. Adjunct professor creative writing George Washington University, Washington, DC.

One Poem by James Bell

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

looking down from here

is different to up from here
where there is the natural sky
and only sky with maybe clouds
because maybe clouds change more

still there is light and dark
where stars flicker in darkness
and stay where they are whereas
the lights of cars below make me dizzy

I prefer to look down from here in the day
at the serrations of parked cars
the pimple hairs of trees
the geometry of foreshortened buildings

though this cannot go on forever
my feet in fresh air feel an itch
to connect with the ground
court the conclusion of vertigo
yet refuse to give in to the cliché


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 Anne Mikusinski

Bedtime Story

Our tale
For tonight
Submitted for your approval
Brought to you
By the overtired
Spaces in my brain
By imagination’s
Wishful thinking

Its beginning simple
Two people
In a room
One reading
The other playing some
Sort of music
That fits the scene
Or not

Eventually the music stops
The book is closed
There might be an embrace
Or, maybe more
Before it fades to black


Tonight’s pipe dream
Is littered
With tiny notes
Written in my second language
In different rooms
When found and read aloud
You laugh at my accent
Soon silenced by a glare
You draw close
Removing them from my hands
To kiss my fingers
All is forgiven

And Again . . .

Tonight’s pipe dream
Is sponsored by
All the lovely pillow talk
We haven’t had
Those idle
Delivered softly
Your voice a rumbling purr in my ear
Sleep is overrated


Anne Mikusinski has been writing poetry and short stories since she was seven years old and most probably making them up long before she could hold a pen or pencil in her hand. She finds inspiration in music and art, and sometimes, even little things that happen every day. Her influences range from Robert Frost and Dylan Thomas to David Byrne and Nick Cave, and she hopes one day, her work will inspire others in the same way these writers have been her inspiration.

One Poem by Dennis DuBois

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Jumper

(Humpty Dumpty By Another Name)

The way I jumped, the feet fall first.
It could have been otherwise, flailing
the air, reaching for a non-existent savior,
tumbling without grace, clumsily begging
whoever listens to guide me back
to the ledge I jumped from.

But no, it’s not like that — I was not fired or betrayed
or in mourning. Listen — my tear ducts are dry, and I’m
cool enough to make a cucumber jealous. Not helpless,
but determined. Not old and disillusioned, but young
and vibrant, not a drooping willow, but a night blooming
water lily, standing up to praise the moon. The future
is my destiny, and I aim to meet it head-on.

I practiced for this, rehearsed for this. I am as ready
as I could ever be. If there was ever any doubt, it was
weaned away from me, papered over with a conviction
that informs my refusal to turn back. Besides — down
below the ants egg me on, cursing me for delay,
screaming and shaking their fists. I know for them
I am merely amusement, a sporting event,
a distraction from their worrisome vexations.

In a few seconds I will turn my body horizontal,
spread my arms like wings to glide in flight.
Make no mistake I have never felt so alive,
all my faculties are acutely present, I feel the air
rushing past, coursing through my hair, cooling
the space between my outstretched fingers.
The descent is long, each second, a lifetime
lived and remembered.

My aim is to land in the fountain, but from way
up here, everything is vague, it looks to be a glass
of water. If I should I miss my mark I will break apart
like Humpty-Dumpty into a thousand irreparable pieces,
a bag of broken bones to mark the spot of my landing.
That is the risk, but, according to plan, it is precisely
at the moment of impact I will rise up to greet my maker,
who will meet my smiling face with open arms….


Dennis Dubois holds a Master’s Degree in social work, and has worked to help others for decades, while writing poems along the way. He has published poems in Bee Museum, Curved House, The Projectionist’s Playground, Runcible Spoon, Verse News, MessageinaBottle, and Nine Muses poetry. He is preparing a collection of poems and a first work of fiction. He is an American expatriate, living in Copenhagen.

Two Poems by Beth O’Brien

Poems Burning

I read a poem about poems burning,
before the poet’s eyes.

And cried to grieve words
that meant the world,

but would never be read,
unless they could be remembered.

And I resolved to write out Everything.
Forever. In two places.

Playing Chicken

My shadow looks like she is walking
in the middle of the road
while I watch from the pavement.

Cars roll over her and she’s oblivious
to their wheels and their weight.
Continuing unfazed, her speed unchanged,
she doesn’t even flinch.

I am impressed by her bravery –
but also jealous.


Beth O’Brien is currently studying for a degree in English Literature at the University of Birmingham. She loves reading, writing, food and seeing the world – when any of these overlap, she loves them even more!

One Poem by Jim Bennett

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

hanging on

moment life can change you
from performer to leaf    your star shape
drifting to the concrete far below

grasping for an identity defined by things
clawing for one more chance of life
flaying the air to grab the invisible enemy

so you fight to hang on      keep your balance
legs and body shifting weight and pole
in a graceful ballet of frozen flight

like Petit between two towers
there is something to be admired
even after the towers fall

you are there high up on the rope
in a million celluloid images
frozen forever in memory


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