Two Poems by Kitty Coles

Winter Breath

By the pool, the white hart, unmoving
while mist wraiths his hooves and ankles,
his clean lines hazed by haunts of drifting damp.

And behind him the woods, similarly tulle-draped:
pale swathes of winter breath hang on the hazel.
The cobwebs on the elder drip and trickle.

His eyes meet mine across a meadow’s distance:
two sloes, unsouled, but knowing all the same.
I’ve thought myself a ghost, invisible:

I’m now seen and unseamed, peeled scalp to foot.
There is something there, at the corner of the eye,
beyond the horizon, gathering, massing like clouds.

A key has turned in me. He leaves.
I am opened and this beginning hurts,
a merciless birthing.

Walled Garden

The heat is forcing the herbs to release their perfumes.
They thicken the air as if crushed beneath my fingers.

I keep to the paths. Sweat caresses the small of my back
under layers of cloth that hold down the swell of my flesh.

I am never alone. Three paces behind, they follow,
conversing in small voices, fickle as doves.

I press my palms to the earth as if it could open.
The voices pause, then flutter, resuming their billing.

The dust flicks up like the tongues of little devils
and marks the hem of my skirt with its insolence.

The cage of my ribs is too tight for the wild bird in it.
My heart flaps its wings up, down, up, down. I’m waiting,

these baked and dreary days, for something
to happen; great love, perhaps, or an evil with beak and claws.


Kitty Coles lives in Surrey. Her poems have been widely published and have been nominated for the Forward Prize and Best of the Net. She was joint winner of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016 and her debut pamphlet, Seal Wife, was published in 2017.

One Poem by Kate Young

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Waiting to be Astonished

As a child I collected atoms of possibility,
a fluid, golden string of beads
some full of hope, others of fear.

My Granny gathered pebbles from beaches,
urged me to transfer fear to stone
safely stored in glass stoppered bottles

as if containment could make dread disappear,
the underside of gritty sand rubbed smooth,
erasing sharp chins of chance from rock.

She was full of superstition and liquor,
my Granny, preferring to stash omens
swirling like amber grain in her brain

the decanter slowly shifting, floor tilting
until the bottle toppled from table edge
releasing a scatter of thoughts with a glug,

fears spilling in an arc, shuffled
at random as cards from the Tarot
re-arranging the patterns of fate.

Myself, I prefer to think of hope,
its round vowels an open mouth
waiting to be astonished.


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 internationally and in Great Britain. She is presently editing her work and writing new material, particularly in response to ekphrastic challenges.

One Poem by Sheila Lockhart

Riace Warrior

Shoulders braced in readiness he stands,
bronze-hardened limbs echoing Attic cries;
his veins swell pitiless across death-dealing hands.
Beneath dark curls his sightless calcite eyes
cast over mortal lives their deathly calm,
a soundless warning parts his coppered lips;
I feel the cold hard life beneath my palm,
with quaking finger trace round curving hips
the blue-green web that maps on burnished skin
lost centuries dreamed beneath the wine-dark sea,
an ageless longing surging deep within –
his beauty sears my mind, enraptures me;
I touch his beard in ancient supplication:
I am enslaved – I want no liberation.


Sheila Lockhart is a retired social worker and lives on the Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands with her partner and two Icelandic ponies, tending her garden and writing poetry. She has been published in Northwords Now.

One Poem by Alun Robert

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The German Pincher Growled To See Such Fun

I frolicked over furniture
sofas, settees, high chairs.
I marked my presence on rugs
from Dalaman and east Devon.
I ascended stair alps to creep
through massed yesterdays under beds.
I rummaged inside wardrobes.
Did they ever wear those?
I swam in the closet.
I surfed round the sink.
I abluted in the shower
not leaving too many stains.
I ran up fine velvets
of swallows and geometric shapes
encrusted with serifs
abstract in extreme.
I ran amok hence knocked
ornaments and polished brass.
Avoided millefiori treasures from Murano.
Some but not all.

I espy the German Pincher growl
over my misadventures of youth
from a shadow cast upon
the ochre paint, I spilt
as I alpha-male a glass top table
like the essence of my genus
front hooves hovering on the rim
disturbing a flirtation of flies.

When I become a stag
will life cease to be this fun?


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.

Two Poems by Gareth Writer-Davies

To a Bronze Statue of the Duke of Wellington

Written in the nearest pub; Brecon/Aberhonddu

what is he doing
up there upon a pedestal

out of all proportion

green now
the hollow bronze

has a glorious view from Brecon to the border
O England

you don’t learn do you
imposing the metal Duke upon market square

I found that the statue was erected

by a gallant admirer
Evan Thomas by name (a local man)

which showed me
that opinion is often ignorance in translation

somebody buy me a drink
I can’t stand it

St Simon & St Jude

Llanddeusant, in the shadow of the Black Mountain

they make a singular team
the zealot and the saint of lost causes

Simon being one of the vaguer apostles
and Jude no better

than one who hangs around with the boys
for his own (obscure) reasons

like many odd couples
there’s a whimsical symmetry to their histories

of death by tools
and dearth of miracles precursing

like a reminder that human
even the most unsung of lives is worthy of canon


Gareth Writer-Davies is from Brecon, Wales. Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2014 and 2017). Commended in the Prole Laureate Competition (2015). Prole Laureate for 2017. Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition (2015). Highly Commended in 2017. His first collection “The Lover’s Pinch” (Arenig Press) was published June, 2018.

One Poem by Michael Caines

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

A Startle

A startle
of errant molecules
leaps this bottle

that, rated X,
has laced the air
with like effects,

crossing some birds,
bringing to light
those quadrupeds –

greyhound-ribbed, dark –
who shyly stalk
our no man’s land.

Two full horned eyes
observe such errancy


Michael Caines lives in London, and has had poems published by Allegro Poetry, the New European and Visual Verse.

Two Poems by Roddy Williams

I am made to stop

Sometimes I am stunned to numb
by this rush of men unleashed upon the street
from the dogmatic pound
I am made to stop
while the world revolves about me
pedalled by their raw paw force

I am made to growl
with a longing for belonging
that owes nothing to
our words and letters
our caged meanings
the weak printed definitions of things

And I am made to weep
for the loss of my animal grace
that my hands
are not those real scarred
bringers of bliss or death
that pass me in the whirl
clicking and waving in the storm
like branches from the old woods

The Moth

I wonder who
is listening to Radio Three apart from me?

Cuban laments and Bach’s solo cello this afternoon
I am focused on the wings beating panic
at the pane of glass width away from rain
I raise the window a little
make the decision his

His memory stays fluttering like a nag at something
in time with the Cubans
hurting itself leaving dust
imaginary soft percussion added by
single raindrops missing each other
on a window

I wonder whether I should
leave the window open

just in case

but am distracted by the cello
the wordless pain
keening its curiosity as to who
is listening to Radio Three

apart from me


Originally from North Wales, Roddy Williams now lives in London. His poetry has appeared in ‘The North’, ‘The Frogmore Papers’, ‘Magma’, ‘The Rialto’, ‘Envoi’, ‘Stand’ and other magazines and anthologies. He is also a keen surrealist photographer, printmaker and painter.

One Poem by Eva Silver

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.


My thoughts are in yellow,
Highlighted, two paths,
Stuck between parallel worlds,
My hairs greying with indecision,
Alice in Wonderland, which one
Do I pick? Safety is bliss, but
Safety is stagnant, the other?
X marks the spot, looks like pain
But pain is growth, my feet
Are grounded, my heart
Sways east, break the comfort
Find your tongue, who told you
Not to speak? Break the curse,
Woman break that ceiling, pick
The one which makes your heart
Beat, you are fire, don’t shy away
Now, don’t shy away from your


Eva Silver – was inspired to start writing poetry after studying English Literature. Her writing is inspired by her travels, relationships and spirituality.

One Poem by Sammi Cox


She wants to get lost
In the woods
Not forever, of course
Just for a short while

She wants to experience
To be at one with nature
To commune with the trees
To listen to the birds
And hear the rustle of
Branches and leaves
As the wind blows

Without the accompanying
Background music of
The modern world
Whose message is
Always the same:

“Can’t stop now,
There’s still so much
To be done.”
Continue reading “One Poem by Sammi Cox”

One Poem by Lynn White

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

A Not So Still Life

What a strange tableau,
a still life
in a dream.
The birds flew over
and looked down on it,
but there was no place for them
to hang out,
to roost,
to dream.
So they didn’t care about the dust motes
escaping into the sunlight
floating like fairy dust
getting themselves organised
to follow their dream.
Did they escape
from the jar?
the bull is wondering
if they were ever inside
and the birds don’t care as usual,
hardly notice her dog emerging
from the mist to inspect them.
Unmistakably her dog
just more amorphous than usual.
It doesn’t look inclined to chase the motes
or stick it’s head inside the loop they’re making.
But the birds don’t care as usual.


Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Find Lynn at and