Three Poems by Iain Twiddy


I guess it makes sense,
given even one evening
of sun filling the channel,
the poplars loftily washing,

the mousy wind breezing
through the full-up barley
like the wake of an unroped boat,
and the wood pigeon somewhere

echoing itself, like a pebble
– as if to tell the depth –
rippling a pool,
and the light miles to go before home,

I guess it makes sense
I should find my skull
so flush with that first ever river,
it feels like the richest

of all the night-blooming jewels
in this lidless chest,
the whole static black
ocean of Tōkyō.

The Volume of Rain

Why should the gentle rain
make the streets so loud –
make the traffic crash and shatter,
blam patchily on, make wave

after wave fizz and slash
rabidly as if at a shingle strand,
smack all day back and forth
off the flanking concrete?

Is it that water
even so shallow amplifies?
Shouldn’t it swamp the sound,
pull it under, drown it out?

I can’t explain it, clearly,
nor anything deeper;
like the way when memory streams,
it wipes everything out

but its own traffic,
which savagely magnifies
the fact of the world
more intimately now without.


Is that how it feels,
people in love,
like the raven
streaked by the cold of high cloud;

or is that the distance
between me
and how I perceive
it might be;

like you know the way
Vikings knew they were close
if the raven didn’t return

could have equally been
– the bird still breasting the wet –
no way of telling for sure.


Iain Twiddy studied literature at university, and lived for several years in northern Japan. His poems have been published in The Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The London Magazine, The Moth and elsewhere.

One Poem by Edward Alport

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Sight of The Poor

Good King Wenceslas
Found a poor man cowering
By a stack of wood.
“Put it back,” he said.
“I’ll overlook it today
As it’s Boxing Day.”

“But I’ll tell you what:
Have some of my left overs.
I’ll bring them myself,
To show that I’m good,
And you can tell your children
Stories about me.”

pace TP


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.

Three Poems by John Sweet

in the other house, after cobain’s suicide

and it’s all good fun
burning witches
but baby says she needs something more

says war will always kill art in
the end, and then she laughs

tells me she still remembers the
day she fell out of love with me and
then she gets undressed

then she opens the
door and leaves


you can’t waste your whole
life being a dead man

this much was obvious and so
it was where we started

and no more goddamn drugs
i said
but all this got me was a blank stare

stalemate by noon and then
defeat just before dinner but you
can’t waste your whole life being a coward

this much was the truth if nothing else
and i told her we had to leave the city

told her the desert was our best bet

solved the murder by page fifteen then
there was nothing left but to wait for rain

a lot of open wounds
hoping to add up to a history

bird with a broken neck dead on the
back porch and it gets harder to tell the
age of desire from the age of greed
but the need for victims is
always a constant

says to me you
can’t waste your whole life
worrying about this shit and she
might be right

killing gods is as futile as killing ants

everything beyond the boundaries
of personal misery is an unknown

there is no shame in becoming
the blessing
you never knew you wanted

the untitled afterthought

and the sunlight breaks your heart in
these first warm days of june
and then the shadows of clouds across
late august hills

the need to escape
or at least the need to
pretend that escape is possible

and bleeding host

man you’ve known your entire
life falls dead to the
kitchen floor without warning

makes it easier to trust
what he says
but not by much

we are still a nation of
liars and whores

this is still the age of blind hatred

the idea that anyone murdered
that anyone raped
must have deserved it

a history of mindless violence
eventually becomes its
own justification


John Sweet, b 1968, still numbered among the living. A believer in writing as catharsis. Opposed to all organized religion and political parties. His latest collections include APPROXIMATE WILDERNESS (2016 Flutter Press) and the limited edition chapbooks HEATHEN TONGUE (2018 Kendra Steiner Editions) and A BASTARD CHILD IN THE KINGDOM OF NIL (2018 Analog Submission Press). All pertinent facts about his life are buried somewhere in his writing.

Three Poems by Robert Nisbet

Painting on the Pembrokeshire Coast

He would paint, that day. They would go
to the coastal path above Porthgain
and he would catch the ambience. She’d go too,
because she loved him, to loaf, be there.

She didn’t paint herself. She was
a school assistant, did odd office work.
She baked, loved tapestry. And they sat quietly
through one of June’s most glorious mornings,
as his watercolours swished and settled.

During those hours she met several dogs,
an Airedale, Labs and Collies, quivering dogs,
inquisitive, pulling on leads, hauled back.

She was passed by the odd, the cool, the quaint,
and by couples who so clearly had retired well
(should she rise to congratulate them?),
talking of cathedrals, naves and parking fees.

The morning’s one young couple were shimmering
with expectation, rushing and radiant. Oh boy.
Then one man, steeple-tall, Scots maybe, furtive,
seemed to be hunting for a place to pee.

One clergyman, shrill-voiced, dog collar in June,
and his much, much shorter wife who had
to scramble to keep up. The sports, the hustlers,
the strollers and the jovial. And four Americans,
adjectival, happy people, awesome, swell.

So, as he caught the place in paint, she mooched.

A Family Farm: October, 1966

The day his sister started university,
he went with his father to the mart:

to the rattle of the pens and auctions,
to the traffic in the beasts, so solid
and so barrel-sided that their very bulk
seemed a permanence in itself.
There was talk of subsidies and quotas,
but there were the busy pubs, the crack,
the cow dung tramped into the streets,
the little town pulsating with the mart.

Just then it seemed a very certain world.


The girls we knew and hankered for
glittered across a diadem of promise.
They flickered, danced as in some bioscope,
or an early movie, stilted in prettiness,
brilliant and curious and not quite real.

First dates were clumsy, puzzled us,
for suddenly the girls seemed stolid,
lumbered with younger brothers
back at home, family grouch.
(The acne, the other stuff, I realised later,
wasn’t mentioned). We heard of hopes,
jealousies, the occasional pig of a teacher
for light relief. Baggage.

So on later dates and in later years
we had to search behind the brilliance,
inward to the pulse, needing to learn
a grace and charity towards the other,
when the baggage gets heavy, as it often does.


Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet whose work has been published in roughly equal measures in Britain and the USA, in the latter case quite regularly in San Pedro River Review, Red River Review and Panoply, which made him one of its Editor’s Choice Featured Poets in their Fall 2017 issue.

Three Poems by John Grey

The Planets Come Home

Hugged by knees, a cello
leavens the notes of tranquil Venus.

Toward the rear,
virulent hands
batter a bass drum,
boom the cannon of Mars.

Twenty violinists in black
bend their bows
to Jupiter’s Falstaffian jollity.

A French horn player
greases the path for Mercury
to glide like quicksilver.

Flighty flautists
percolate Uranus’s sleight-of-hand
while a solitary trumpet
heralds Saturn’s dotage.

And finally a choir gives
plaited voice
to mystical Neptune,
from high soprano to monkish moan,
soundly underscore his revelations.

This is the “Planets”
as described in music,
played by Earthlings
so Earth too can have a song.

Art Opening

I’m attending another art opening
from twenty years ago.
Eight paintings on four walls.
No critics come.
Only friends of the artist. My friends.

Esther turns her head away,
eyes wandering but guarded.
She so wants to be involved
in whatever it is repulses her.

To her right, Jack, looks without looking,
sunk in thought,
scraping his hands
down his day-old beard.
He is planning his masterpiece.

David adopts the pose
of a question mark.
His failed canvases
are the question.

To the rear,
Leslie, dressed all in black,
her dark hair combed severely straight,
swaps her usual sardonic expression
for the blank of appreciation
of whatever happens to be hanging.

Jeannie stares with the kind of tranquil indolence
with which she gazes at people.

It could be Christine’s show
or it might be Leroy’s.
The idea of art is to survive us all.
But, in this case,
it’s the people I remember,
some passed on,
others moved out of state.
They were all painters, writers, actors,
good one or two of them,
mostly mediocre.
Yet, if genius was a prerequisite,
who would I ever know.


It was a Sunday morning, ten a.m.
And raining.
He dashed from the gate
to the waiting car.
The welcoming kisses
were are damp as his eyes.

Ten years he’d been inside.
One for every chewed fingernail.
There’d been visits
but touching was looked on
as being as criminal
as what he was in for.

Beyond the hugs of his family,
he hadn’t much of a future.
He had no money.
No one would hire him.
And the affection of his loved ones
ran far deeper than their pocket books.

It was a Sunday morning, ten a.m.
It was the end of something
but not the beginning of anything else.
And it rained.

So he dashed from the gate
to the waiting car
like he was anxious to be
some place there was no point in being.
The welcoming kisses
merely bid him goodbye.
A year almost to the day,
the damp eyes
went back inside to dry out.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.

One Poem by Kate Young

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Antiquity and Dust

It was her face, pale as glacial snow,
that sent me trudging through sepia
laden with tradition.
Refugees, cut adrift,
wandering from their tale
footprints banished behind them,
ahead, pebble-lit path scattered
random as breadcrumbs.

I am spellbound,
rich with antiquity and dust,
offer of a golden ball
bobbing in the wishing well,
the frog pouting his lips
full of Princely promise
so now I am lost in its pages.
Lost, the oldest theme in the book.

We are all hunters at heart
trolling through Facebook
searching for that perfect post,
the quest for acceptance
all happy endings and
slippers made of glass,
hoping to break free,
die cast in our favour

but all is not as it appears.
No glittering, dancing fairies here
but wolves dressed as little old grannies
nerves frayed as candle wick,
covens caked in sweet ginger
luring Hansel and Gretel to ovens
crackling with heat,
a dragon’s blistering breath.

I turn the chapters
time spinning out of control
like Sleeping Beauty,
oblivious to the needle-sharp pain
absorbed in that well documented
deep, deep sleep.


Kate Young lives in Kent and is passionate about poetry and literature. After retiring, she has returned to writing and has had success with poems published in magazines. She is presently editing her work and writing new material, particularly in response to ekphrastic challenges.

Two Poems by Rupert Locke

She knows her chickens and I know my onions

her ear at the coop
can sift through the whirrs
for a call, a plea or a song. Listen
in a slap of wings
she spots the next move
as brother pecks brother to brink of death
she plays mother
feeds them shut
takes their shit

mine need room to swell
real heavy feeders
no feathers or claws
or beaks and no sound
just bloating in mid-April soil and rot
no necks to wring
just silent scoffing
and scars of rust
from tears unsent

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles

Six syllables    laden with plosives
Shot from alveolar ridges
Across conference rooms
In short-noise bursts
By white men in suits
Followed by one more
This time   mounted at the lips
/b/ for ballistic
/b/ for bombardment
/b/ for barrages    bodies    bangs
Before the lateral approximant /l/
Tongue tip touching
The margin
Pushes its payload

From voiced to voiceless
/k/   the velar ejective
Comes at the last
Loaded at the glottis
Discharged into the airstream
No vibration
Largely unnoticed
Before a final salvo of fricatives
Sizzle off the tongue
To immediate    aural     impact

Continue reading “Two Poems by Rupert Locke”

Two Poems by Angela Porter

Hidden Music

At etching speed of light, at writing desk
He’ll be; imprinting hieroglyphics,
A future pathway, when he completes a task,
That notes should sit so perfectly still.

In sounds so smooth, it re-defines smoothness.
On silk, and hand-made paper, as sand slides
On stage, flows from process, and through process.
And later orchestrated, sung; performed.

Imagine sweet rain; I was lifted, light
In raindrop cells. The delicate,
Is as a rose, asks the dew and daylight.
I picture him sketching freedom out.

A Chance Meeting

We spoke, we had met unexpectedly.
Her magnet strong mind, her body re-routes.
At tender words she clutched, and hastily
Was swift, before her heart was caught like loot,
And so she went, straight backed upon her scooter.
We once shared drinks, even had time to talk?
Her tall strides, with dogs, should be seen to walk.


Angela is a long time contributor to “Reach Poetry”. In 2007 she shared the winning prize in their poetry booklet competition, “Embroidering the Deep” is self published through them.

One Poem by Dennis DuBois

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Nameless Guide

We must have been poorly advised, misheard
               the directions, which has led us here,
to this frightfully beautiful, winter wonderland.
A mistake that could be the cause of our deaths.
               Our outlook changed
to become less joyful, less holiday-spirited,
                              and further in—
               it turned again to become grim
                              and darker still.

We are exposed on this windswept mountainside.
               The landscape barren, skeletal,
prepped to take on the onslaught of winter.
                              We are not.
               The path obscures in the snow.
We are fools, dressed improperly for this arduous journey.
               Argon has no gloves, his arms are bare.
                              I am Ingrid. I wear
a newly made satin skirt with circles representing
               the phases of the moon.
We started out singing carols, but cold silence
               slipped between, lips chapped, throats
                              clamped shut with fear.
               We are lost, wandering aimlessly,
                              misstepping our way to oblivion,
circling back to find our own faint footprints in the snow.

It was only then, through my despairing mind, did I spot
               through the mist of low hanging clouds,
                              a cabin, dimly lit, a distance away,
smoke billowed from the chimney with candlelight
               flickering in the windows, a wreath on the door,
and as we approached, the recognizable voices of those
               near and dear could be heard,
                              fully engaged in the festivities.

Now smiling we pounded on the door to be welcomed
               in with gusto, to raise our glasses
and foretell of our triumphant journey, to defeat the demons;
                              death and doubt.
Argon suggested it was a blessing to be lost, but a greater blessing
               to be found. I chided him that I knew all along,
                              guided by the vapor of a whispered voice.


Dennis has been darkening pages, scribbling, jotting down, and editing poems since he was a wee child. Poetry has been a friend, a guide, and someone to talk when nobody else was around. His fingers may have stiffened over his guitar strings, but they hold a writing instrument just fine.

One Poem by Anna Schoenbach

We Grow it in a Garden of Our Own Desires

 Our minds blossom
over time, like flowers
in spring. Our goals are thus –
to survive, to live at our best, at our
fullest. To achieve our     goals, we plant
the seed, in fertile soil,     our most fertile loam.
We grow the seed of destiny      in a garden of our own desires.
Wants, needs are roots reaching      for the purest water, the richest
nutrients, the most decayed      rotting bones of our old, dead
dreams. Our leaves reach      for the clouds, the sun, the un-
attainable light. We reach,     we eat, and we grow
strong. Our goals sprout      from fertile soil,
unfurling little seed-     -leaves, struggles
through the trials of life, feeds
from our own desires.
And grows strong.


Previously published in the poem anthology “Primal Elements,” by OWS Ink, Anna Schoenbach is a writer, editor, and poet who hopes that she can capture even just a little bit of the awesome power of the natural (and spiritual) world in her writing.