One Poem by Randi Lynn Sanders

A Tinder Moment

She spits in her martini glass.
Harrumphs as the server sweeps it away,
complains DRY means DRY.

Her husband stares at his phone.
His finger hovers over the screen.
I imagine him not as her husband,

but as her date. They wear rings, but
in my mind, they are single, separate,
each with an option to stay or move on.

The wine arrives, I dare not look.
My own glass rests, untouched,
next to my phone. We wait.

This salad has too much
dressing, she says. Nobody
likes a limp Caesar. The steak is tough.

The air is too cold. Can they do something
about the A/C? What about dessert? Do you want
the chocolate volcano cake? How about

the crème brûlée? It’s settled then.
Death by chocolate. I pour my own wine
from the buy-one-get-one carafe.

Two spoons, please. I never hear
him speak. I want him to swipe,
keeping his options open.


Randi Lynn Sanders is currently enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing at Mississippi University for Women. Randi lives on the gulf coast of Florida, where she maintains her own financial advisory practice while honing her craft in her spare time, usually before or after market close.

One Poem by Lynn White

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

A Model Woman

She set out to become a model woman.
It was what her mother taught her.
But her mother’s models
were rooted in the past,
mannequins really
and no longer in vogue,
so her attempts were confused.
Conformity was the issue
but to which age,
which youth
should she conform to
now or then.
It took her a long time,
a lifetime.
A lifetime
of making up,
of trying on and discarding,
a lifetime of self discovery,
a lifetime
to throw away the wigs
and become herself.


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

One Poem by Daniel Pearson


You come to life
In a wave, polished and accumulated
Digesting and being digested.

The dwellers
Made a bite of the pulse—
Your black cry ebbs in a mouthful

Of fishbone.
Melting and flexing. A strong impulse
To swim against the barrages.

Yellow world crinkles
Through a window of cellophane,
Crisp packets, ring pulls and shopping bags—

Your tourmaline
Mouth, shark tongue pinned
Skin of spears, aggregate of carrion

Plucking sloughed
Flakes of keratin, the sepulchral cyst—
Old drummed off membrane

Mute in the pull
Of jaw and hook, not one wave squandered
For the fossil tugged back with each salt heave.

This is the sea-swell—
The cannibal gut, gourmandising itself.
Your conch ear thinning to a bitten edge.


Daniel Pearson was born in North East England and studied English at Lancaster University. He has spent a lot of time since then living in other countries and currently resides in Vietnam.

One Poem by James Bell

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

seen in a junk shop window

there’s a permanent line from closed eyes
to the end of nose that expresses
an assured aloofness taken from reality

though this is no death mask – cries out
against any kind of morbidity – still
just lives – the place is of another time

for sure – the face fashioned for
a certain kind of eternity hard to ignore
or remonstrate against as painted nonsense

the set flick of an eyelash rails against
dawning or passing of an age – has seen
wigs of desire and danger come and go

disguises only fabricated shut down windows
to the soul in some profound unsaid comment
full of knowledge yet tentative on the lips

a mere chip here and there does not spell
disaster for a head of plaster that has seen
better days and more salubrious surroundings


James Bell – returned to writing poetry over twenty years ago and has not yet left. He is a regular contributor to Nine Muses’ Special Challenges.

Two Poems by John Porter

A creature 

In the hole
you pass me bones
we put them together
this skull
maybe goat
fits onto the rib cage
of a tiger
we heft ostrich legs
and eagle claws
feeling a creature into being
its shape sharing frozen darkness
you say it needs a heart
and pass me yours
still warm and beating.

A new home 

As concrete poured
I saw a glint
the sun on gold teeth
in a skull
slipping to the guts
of foundations.
What’s the hold up?
yelled the foreman
I panicked
finished the job
but now am drawn
back to the one house
not sold
to sit
in fold out chair
whisper I’m sorry
to the astroturf
which glows back
it’s ok
I like it here
I’m going to stay.


After living in Moscow and London, John Porter is now in Gloucestershire. He has degrees in Russian and Law and when not juggling his two small sons he writes poems, usually on trains. His work had appeared in publications including The Stinging Fly, Prole and Strix.

One Poem by Stephen Kingsnorth

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.


The high-cheek blush took subtle brush,
why broken eye-brow, crimson mouth,
and eye detail, mascara, lash?

Where thin skin bone and lips draw back,
by coloured face around the bridge,
is she in treatment, staging best?

The channel cut in hair of arch
reminds me of some slaver’s mark,
is painted girl possessed by pimp?

And what of staining round the tip,
is it on nose or on my screen –
is this stored model, star of film?

Did she enjoy bathe, focussed light,
but what beyond her, unclear sight?
An empty glass, near certainty?

Why all these questions, mannequin?
Posed by art, poet, drama, book,
unless I wonder, I am dead.

As vital, eroteme, as facts,
thus why our mindful sleuthing counts,
to gauge our own experience.


Stephen Kingsnorth, retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had pieces accepted by Nine Muses Poetry; Voices Poetry; Eunoia Review; Runcible Spoon; Ink Sweat and Tears; The Poetry Village; The Seventh Quarry; Gold Dust; From the Edge and Allegro Poetry Magazines.

Two Poems by Angela Porter

Birds on a Wire

When they are gathered
Along the telephone wires
I stop and wonder.
Are they counting their numbers?
In silent conversations?

Bird Song

Bird as pen on score
He writes in a freedom sky
Of his expansion.
I hear a silent music,
And soundly I am sleeping.


Sweeping into the PROMS performances last year, Angela has recognition as a composer. An earning poet since 2003, many single poems appear in the Indigo Dreams Publishing poetry magazines, and one booklet of poetry. More Tanka poems may appear in “Reach Poetry” this year.

One Poem by Edward Alport

Written in response to last month’s Special Challenge.

Pearl Light

OK, I can admire the Autumn and her business:
Soft bellied clouds, red cheeks, the leaves’ golden grace.
Appreciate the sun’s silver blade
Carving crystal out of dust and cinder.

And here is Autumn, rising like a woman from her sunbed,
Promising golden gifts, jewels and nectar.
The dazzle of the sun glinting on a looking glass,
The warm and wanton pressure of the catspaw clouds.

But somehow now I miss the brittle briskness
Miss the wind like a razor on my face
Miss the iron trees against the aluminium sky
The stone cold certainty of winter.


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.

One Poem by Darrell Petska


When she appears at my door—
the sister gone 60 years
to no place I could imagine—
she'll have come on business.
We'll join hands and go,
no one knowing where we're off to,
kind of like old times.

             She left so suddenly.
Days on end I grieved at the loss
of a blue cats-eye marble I'd loaned her—
then found, blocking the hole that claimed her.
No one helped me roll it away—
until she did, pushing from the other side.

             Before time soured,
August jumping straight to winter's cold shoulder,
we sucked ambrosia from fat honeycombs,
sun wreathing our heads,
life spreading like vast clover fields
from which the bees mined their gold.
How like honeycombs we believed the world—
there, just for the taking.

             But the dead never leave home.
Returning from the wars, I find her
still belle of her paper doll galas,
the perfect hostess at tea.
She offers a dainty cup, asking
“So how have you been?"
Always the gallant soldier, I reply
"Oh, splendid. And you?"
"I'm fine," she says, "but look at you,
all wrinkled!"

             If I could find a peddler of years,
I'd buy 60 of the retroactive kind,
climb the downward hill I'm on
and cash them in, the afternoon
of that night she left to swim—
instead pitching our blanket
to wait for the star I'd point to, saying
"For what seemed an eternity,
that one was you." Then home we'd stroll,
our parents happy in their dreams,
the stars like years we'd number to their end.


Darrell Petska’s poetry has appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Chiron Review, Star 82 Review, Verse-Virtual and widely elsewhere (see Darrell has tallied a third of a century as communications editor for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 40 years as a father (seven years as a grandfather), and almost a half century as a husband.

One Poem by Randal A Burd, Jr.

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Air Grows Cold

The air grows cold. The leaves, once green,
Turn yellow, orange, and gold between
Brief moments spent outdoors. The call
Of birds of prey make forests crawl
With anxious creatures seldom seen.

Close by, as in some magazine,
A brook completes the perfect scene.
As humid summer yields to fall,
The air grows cold.

Soon winter comes: first Halloween,
Then heaters run on kerosene,
A knitted scarf and hat, a shawl,
But well before the snow and all,
The air grows cold.


Randal A. Burd, Jr. is a married father of two and an educator who works with the disadvantaged in rural Missouri. He holds a master’s degree in English Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Missouri. Randal is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Sparks of Calliope magazine. His latest collection of poems, Memoirs of a Witness Tree, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in Summer 2020.