One Poem by Alexander Garza

Slow Motion December

I’ll always remember slow motion December.
I’ll always recall warm winter halls,
When youth turned ash from a slow burning ember.

The drinks took our kiss, a memory dismembered.
The action seemed fit for the warm winded fall.
I’ll always remember slow motion December.

The night set fire to your eyes for another,
While I sat in silence waiting for the call,
When youth turned ash from slow burning embers.

The short-lived songs on the radio player
Find homes adorned in our minds, on the wall.
I’ll always remember those slow motion Decembers.

The fog dissipated upon forgetting the remembered.
The action seemed fit for the short-winded fall.
When youth turned ash from a slow burning ember.

Fate manipulation of our path, in our favor;
Falling back to earth was never quite a fall.
I’ll always remember slow motion Decembers,
When youth turned ash from slow burning embers.


Alexander Garza is a Mexican American writer from Houston, Texas. His work has been published in BroadwayWorld-Houston and Literal Magazine. His poetry and art explores topics such as mental health disorders, race, class, and gender. Alex shares his journey through poetry and art. Visit Twitter/IG: @alexanderpgarza.

One Poem by Edward Alport

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Choosing the Right Form to Describe Adequately the Cherry Blossoms

The cherries wait. They know the form,
And how the blossom seasons work
Though threats of hungry insects lurk
And frost, and hail, and thunderstorm.

The cherries wait, while poets poise,
Their brushes on their blocks of ink
And feverishly try to think
Of brand new thoughts above the noise.

If I could write in Japanese,
If I could count to seventeen,
Could I describe the blossom scene
Before it tumbles in the breeze?

While haiku is a form I love,
For cherries, it’s not pink enough.


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 Gareth Culshaw

Days out on the Train

Years ago train doors had windows
you could pull down, and we
would stick out our calf heads.

The moving air blew out
science and other school
subjects we hated.

Railway lines bumped along
the wheels as if passing
them to each other.

The carriage passed things
we never saw. The day ahead
was already in our minds.

All we had to do was press replay
to see if it was real. Bacon
sandwich in a café, a can of coke

from the shop and us carrying a strut
from our place of birth.

Hide and Seek

When the fog came out at night
we would treat it like daytime.
Hoodies up, hats on, gloves
inflated with hands.

Hide and seek the game counting
under a streetlight. Your turn
to find us as we melt into the dark.
Knee bends behind cars, hedges

garden gates. Lying flat on the tarmac
we listened to the underworld.
Holding our lungs until they popped,
and we let out slug speed air.

The fog had no clock to listen
for. We ran into it unaware
of what may happen. Whether
it was the next day or sleep

from the night before.

Bike Rides at Night

When the world was flat, we travelled
on mountain bikes. Read street signs
as we pedalled towards leaving school.

Our bikes gave us distance took us
away from living rooms that hemmed
in our words. Gears were clicking

on every hill. At night streetlights
shimmied on. Brought ‘V’ shaped
patterns of light to slow pavements.

Car headlights made us think.
Zebra crossings made us jump.
Pub doorways quickened our feet.

When we got home our legs burnt
away homework. Our minds bottled
up the bike rides turned them to chutney

so we could use them years later
on salads when we were bored in adulthood.


Gareth lives in Wales. He had his first collection out in 2018 by Futurecycle called The Miner. He hopes to achieve something special with the pen.

One Poem by Frances Jackson

Romance in the Brexit Age

You could always
Just marry your boyfriend
People tell her
Friends colleagues
A mixed bunch
All just trying to help
Offer a bit of
Useful advice

And of course
They’re right
She could

And it probably would
Be to her advantage
Bureaucratically speaking
At least
Shore up her footing
Take away
Some of the uncertainty
The gloom
That has seeped in
Leaving the future

But she can imagine
The headlines too
Their billowing outrage

British women
Coming over here
Stealing all of our men

The AfD
Would have a field day


Three Poems by David Stillwagon

Dazzling Objects

Speeding down a road
that ends somewhere in the middle of
my mind. I get out and wander through
fields of unfamiliar places
that burn my senses.
I stand there unconcerned with
objects that seem dazzling.
Images roll by like a movie
being played. Images representing
things that I can’t understand.

Things of Nature

I have seen peculiar sights
in the night.

Trees falling then getting back up again
while a dog gets scared at unseen
things of nature.

I heard things that sensitive ears
can’t comprehend. Thunder claps
that explode in a staccato beat.

Birds quiet one minute then talking
the next, in a language that I wasn’t
familiar with.

Long Walk

Walking in the cold air
barefooted on a beaten path.
A dog follows along undeterred
by the weather.

Winds whip and cover the landscape
while mist envelops the surrounding.
Clouds cover the sky like
cotton candy.

Trees congregate like strangers at a party
in a forest of brown and green.
The walk is long as the time
moves along.


David Stillwagon writes short stories and poems. He has poetry forthcoming in Foliate Oak and Right Hand Pointing as well as poems in Clockwise Cat and Lit-up magazines. He has also had short stories in Johnny America and Mississippi Crow.

One Poem by Alun Robert

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

In Search Of Purification

Warm Sunday, early April
wandering through cherry tree park
holding hands in bon ami
the world and we sisters with
blossom season in progress
we ingest floral fragrance
delicate through ether
the transience omnipotent.

Suddenly we stop; noses upright.

Pungent stench.
Gut wrenching.
Was not me
nor her
but little sister; she stinks.

We nearly vomit.
Our environs we explore
when under her left foot
mongrel faeces explode as
a living memorial of nature.

Thankfully, nobody around
all distant blossom indulging.
Need to find a hose pipe quick or
… a local hardware store open.


Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical verse. Of late, he has achieved success in poetry competitions and featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web. He particularly enjoys ekphrastic challenges.

One Poem by Ava Drake

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Viewing Cherry Blossoms at Ueno, Katsukawa Shunzan

Early in the morning, before the crowds storm in
Clear blue skies, slight April chill
Three friends eagerly walking through Ueno Park
Once a year they dress, in their finest robes
Cyclical, like the blossoms
They renew their vows
Of the promise they made, as children
To grace the start of spring as a trinity
Together they reminisce on the memories
In their palms, the delicate flowers
Are another year of possibilities.


Ava Drake is a poetess from London, UK. She started writing poetry at a young age and has recently rediscovered her passion for writing. She is currently working on her first poetry anthology focusing on love & hate.

Two Poems by Mary Franklin


An image looms
of one long gone
as I awake

and it stays
deadlocked in my head
all day;

towards evening
relics of a smile
still linger on

and to prove it
at dinner I set
one extra plate.

Talking to the Dead

Stars stud the midnight sky –
turning a page in my mind
I ride the waves of reverie.

Your face appears on the border
of my dream, features chaotic
like shapes of cloud formations

or trees but undeniably you,
staring through frosted glass.
I can’t change the past

but I just want you to know
in the meadows of asphodel
where you languish

you’re still a person of interest
in my life and I’m running
out of time so I’ll make this brief –

there’s unfinished business to discuss;
if you’d like to come again sometime
I just want you to know, that’s fine.


Mary Franklin has had poetry published in numerous print and online magazines and anthologies including Ink Sweat and Tears, Iota, London Grip, Message in a Bottle, The Open Mouse and Three Drops from a Cauldron. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

One Poem by Lizzie Ballagher

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

A Vision of Cherry Blossoms—

                                      —or not.
Or even, instead, of something darker,
             fiercely brighter:

the tyranny of cherry blossoms
exacts its price;
they must be looked at,
or the emperor may be displeased.

We must be reminded
that exquisite blossoms—
pink, no less—speak
of those who appreciate
finer things in life.

Because her blooms may not be picked,
Sakura denies an empire
hungry for conquest—

                         —but it is sad, perhaps,
that some of us miss
the spectacle, lose ourselves
in mundane matters, mishaps

as when foot-binding starts
to come adrift

and suddenly the lifting
are not the draw, the gift
we thought they were.

Our eyes are shut tight as buds
against that beauty,

                           and we are sleep-walking
             into Nagasaki,
Hiroshima, where

                                      a terrible beauty
                           will be born: one
             we cannot look at.


A published novelist between 1984 and 1996 in North America, the UK, Netherlands and Sweden (pen-name Elizabeth Gibson), Lizzie Ballagher now writes poetry rather than fiction. Her work has been featured in a variety of magazines and webzines: South-East Walker Magazine, Far East, Nine Muses, Nitrogen House, the Ekphrastic Review and Poetry Space. She lives in southern England, writing a blog at

One Poem by Stewart Derry

Written in response to this  month’s Special Challenge.

Our Ways

We stir on the earth.
The cherry reaches higher.
Our ways are entwined:
we are flesh; we are blossom;
life is sweeter when it blooms.


Stewart Derry is a poet, playwright, musician and producer. His work has featured widely in both print and performance, examples of which include work for Wireless Theatre Company, The BBC, and Five Seasons Press.