One Poem by Patricia J Hamilton

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Gather Ye Rosebuds

Not quite what you wanted
but here they are!
Personally I don’t get it.
Roses and their buds
should be on bushes in gardens;
climbing over a pergola,
or preserved in a painting.
Not languishing here in a silver thingy,
fading and dying.
What’s beautiful about them now?


Patricia J. Hamilton lives in Kent. As a musician and composer, her songs and musicals for children have been published by I.M.P. Chester Music and Kevin Mayhew. Her poetry has been shortlisted for both the Bridport Poetry Prize and the Robert Graves Prize.

One Poem by Kate Young

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Escaping her Passing

What does she offer, this damsel caught in light?
Is it the promise of rose-flushed cheek
touched by the stroke of the brush?
Or soft lips opening, inviting,
not quite smiling, elongated neck
merging with rosebuds, defiance snagged in time?

There is something intangible in her beauty,
a fragility of skin on porcelain face
tones shimmering, gathering radiance
blooms flowing, escaping their passing
a silver chalice of eternal life,
fragrance stained on coloured glass.


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.

Three Poems by Julia White

Please Look After Billy

When I heard
they found him
in Snowsfields,
I thought of
daisy chains,
cow parsley,
clean socks every day.

When I heard
they found him
in Snowsfields,
four days on
from the bombing,
I saw
those were not birds
or paper planes

When I heard
they found him
in Snowsfields
past lost rooms
in buckled brown sandals,
they said what a miracle
someone read the note
pinned to his hand-knitted

This is not what I imagined

in borrowed fur and winter hat.
No white but cloying lilies and altar
cloth, all life starched out of it.

I did not invite your cousin John,
best-suited with his orderly wife
and son. Or choose that hymn.
If it was your favourite, you never said.

The vicar mutters absently ahead,
robes fluttering in the candle draught,
hits a crescendo at the chancel steps,
as though you might be listening.

All eyes are on me now
as I stumble towards you.
This is not how I imagined it,
this walking up the aisle to music
on my father’s arm.


It was as if I’d never left there,
the timbered Tudor house that really isn’t,
though it has borne witness to enough
plots and twists, ins and outs of love
to satisfy any scheming statesman.
Yet the quick-march orderliness I grew up in
had surrendered to non-iron sheets, the
neighbour’s old copies of Gardeners’ World.

Not the welcome from you I’d hoped for –
back turned, half-hearing, foraging for any
carton or tin that might pass as lunch, even to
an uninvited guest, but you listened, let my story run,
offered me Father’s ‘perfectly good’ coat to
wear. Said how you hate waste.


Julia White lives in Leicestershire and is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Leicester University. She loves writing poetry and has had poems published in East Midlands Poets and Captured Creativity.

One Poem by Julie Anne Gilligan

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Observations on the Nature of the Rose

You said my cheeks are so like roses
So quaint of you
My lips, moist like morning dew on velvet petals
Like these blooms
Pink against the whiteness of my décolletage
So tempting to you
Your breathing is harsh to my ears
Yes you interest me in some small way
You search the ivory of my neck
See how vulnerable I am
Look at the pewter bowl, the way my fingers hold it
Think how I might hold you
Fixated, immobile, held by the scales of my eyes
Weighing your worth
You are lost in the depths of them
The shallowness of them
Be careful when you cut me
From the warmth of sunlight
Like the rose, I too have thorns


Julie Anne Gilligan’s poems appear in several anthologies, webzines and 2012 debut collection ‘The Thickness of Blood’. London born, she lives in Essex. She is an active member of The Open University Poetry Society and Poets Abroad, an international collaborative group of poets.

Two Poems by J R Solonche

The Lake

The lake looks lovely just before it goes to sleep.
It looks so vulnerable, and so calm,
as though the water knows that by morning
it will be ice, that the sun will no longer see itself
but instead see a cloud that has stopped dead
in the sky and dropped to the ground. And the geese
know surely. Now they are gathering in the shallow end
one more time to plan their different sun.

All Night Last Night

All night last night the wind
was neither too gentle nor too strong.
The wind was just right.

It was just right to make the branches
of the big ash tree outside my window
strike each other in just the right way

to keep me up all night.
It was wooden water dripping from
a leaky wooden faucet into a wooden sink.


J.R. Solonche is the author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions), Won’t Be Long (Deerbrook Editions), Heart’s Content (chapbook from Five Oaks Press), Invisible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by Five Oaks Press), The Black Birch (Kelsay Books), I, Emily Dickinson & Other Found Poems (Deerbrook Editions), In Short Order (Kelsay Books), Tomorrow, Today & Yesterday (Deerbrook Editions), If You Should See Me Walking on the Road (forthcoming in July 2019 from Kelsay Books), and coauthor of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). He lives in the Hudson Valley.

One Poem by Judith Steele

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Gather ye …

She has gathered her rosebuds
and now must hold them in a silver bowl
until the painter is done with her pose.

Her wrists hurt, her neck hurts.
She would like to close her mouth
for a while, and her eyes.
She would prefer to pose again
as Ophelia lying down.

She is beautiful
to be painted with roses,
silver and gold and brocade.

The painting will be here
in another time, long after
age and its thorns have taught her to reflect
that if she had been less beautiful
she might have less to regret.


Judith Steele is Australian. Her poetry or prose has appeared in journals in Darwin and Adelaide, and on several websites including The Animist, The Merida Review, and Strange Poetry. Most recently her poetry has been published in the print journal Gobshite Quarterly (Portland, OR) and in Mused BellaOnline

One Poem by Bradford Middleton

Keep Moving (Nothing to See Here)

I didn’t write a poem on my birthday this year;
Work had wrung me out at 11pm and all I wanted
To do was have a drink and forget another day
In my life sentence behind the checkout on North
Street and so that’s what I did, nothing special
About that, just another day in a lifetime of days
I have been desperate to forget.

So you could say my birthday this year was just like
Any other day in the last year, not much happened,
In fact nothing at all happened besides work, smoke
And some pretty tasty beans and cheese on toast.


Bradford Middleton lives on England’s south coast in the hippest place on Earth; he hates it and often dreams of escaping. When he’s not dreaming, he’s writing, working or drinking. He’s had three poetry books published. Find him at Facebook @bradfordmiddleton1.

One Poem by Diana Cant

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May

I’ve always thought this an odd injunction –
why would you gather only buds
when you could have the full-blown rose,
the whole blooming, blowsy magnificence,
the billowing of perfume and perfection?

Everyone knows that rosebuds, once plucked
never fully open; frozen in their immaturity
they hang their heads in sorrow and in shame.

No, this has a ring of seductive sophistry –
the bud of promise, the first deflowering,
the press of time, caparisoned in liberality:
I will take the whole rose, thank you,
and today.


Diana Cant is a poet and a child psychotherapist living and working in Kent. She aims, in some of her work, to give a voice to those young people who are less frequently heard. She has been published in a variety of journals and anthologies.

One Poem by Joe Pickard

At the park

the kid scared of water
is playing tightrope
at the edge of the pond.

I’m watching
while my girlfriend continues
to read at the opposite end
of the bench.

His sister, a year older,
is yelling at him to stop,
having probably done the same
as him a year ago.

I have lost my page
reread the same sentence
four times already
between drawing on a cigarette.

His grandad is absent
while his nan has asked
him to come and feed the ducks
three times, but only remembers
the first.

She has finished her chapter
and is ready to walk on,
I am still settled on smoking
sat on the bench.

The kid is right on the edge
and a breeze could sway
him one way or the other

and she has gone,
closed her book,
expecting me to follow
without asking.

He is rolling
on the ball of his foot
the shriek of geese
make him lose concentration.

I hesitate but follow,
flicking the butt like
a crust of bread for the ducks

and she didn’t even notice
the kid at the edge of the pond
and I have lost the plot and
don’t know if he will fall.


Joe Pickard works as a journalist in London. He studied English with Creative Writing at the University of Chester. He has had writing published in Crossways, Confluence, Prole, and elsewhere. He has recently established an online literary journal, Pulp Poets Press, which is currently looking for submissions.

One Poem by Alun Robert

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Mimesis Muse

This is how I     will remember you:
       Ophelia of my life,
              my muse.
The aura of your presence
       reverberating through the ether
              one octave at a time.

Auburn hair brushed to the nape
       with your head held high
              almost aloof.
Sun caressing your skin;
       porcelain peach.
Dark eyes, dilated pupils
       transfixed on tomorrow.
Lips whispering your love, purity, life
       in the most dulcet of tones
              yet audible to me,
Translucent unguis, lacquered
       on fingers that soothed
              berceuse from the heart.

The green silken frock, that frock
       you wore when first we met
              smooth to the touch
                     shimmering in refracted light.
And the subtle fragrance of rosebuds
       in petals of delicate pink
              wafting through time,
                     finite time.

For now you have gone . . .


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.