One Poem by Martha Landman

Dear John

I wasn’t a romantic
the way you wanted me to be.

I enjoyed the desert nights, cold stars
our backward race away from an elephant herd
wild beasts on the African plains
every fight a red pin on a travel map
in Sri Lanka we watched cricket and blockbusters all night.

The cold had suddenly crept in from the south.
It was a day to stay inside and clean the shelves
— memories in every corner
how you loved those girls in front of my eyes
whispered sweetness in their ears.

Dreaming of Greek goddesses and writhing snakes
I woke up one day to a stranger in my bed
his body bleak and unsalty
the king-size bed suddenly too small
clouds visible through half-drawn curtains
the rain fell softly against the window
when I stepped away, sailboats in the distance.

I haven’t thought of you for a while
today my walk was more in tune
the birds flew higher, their wings flapped calmer
there was a platypus at the bridge
the smell of Jasmine softened the air.


Martha Landman writes in Adelaide, Australia. Her work has appeared online and in print in US, UK, Australia and South Africa.

One Poem by Edward Alport

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Gate of the Year

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
‘Show me your wares that I may decide whether to stay or buy your wares and go on.’
And he replied,
‘Whether you buy my wares or stay behind is nothing to me,
But few will stay behind to keep you company.’
So I went on.
For a while his wares brought terrors to my mind,
The greater fear was being left behind.


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.

Two Poems by Jim Brosnan

Moments Snatched Before Midnight

Only after
the moments
have disappeared
do I lament
the passing of time—
the evening
we parked
near the lake
where oaks hugged
the winter sunset
and the moon’s
shafts reflected
in an inky emptiness
on the icy banks
where we studied
half crusted boulders
brushstroked in glitter
before gazing across
moonlit fields of snow,
to savor the serenity
of a Minnesota sky
while the night
remained mute.

In a Notebook about Stars

I prefer to travel
at night when
darkness smothers
Midwestern towns
at the edge
of interstate,
creates an asphalt
sanctuary where
I can whisper
under a Buck Moon,
gaze at Venus,
Saturn and Mercury
since quiet afternoons
don’t often reveal secrets
nor provide the setting
where I can meditate
on the meaning of time
for a few hours
before I begin to wonder
where I might find you.


Jim Brosnan’s publishing credits include Nameless Roads (Moon Pie Press, 2019), four chapbooks of poetry and over 500 poems most recently appearing in the Aurorean, Crossways (Ireland), Eunoia Review (Singapore), Nine Muses Poetry (Wales), Scarlet Leaf Review (Canada), Strand (India), and Voices of the Poppies Anthology (UK).

One Poem by Eric Nicholson

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Two Faced

Janus was a two-faced god
who liked to play the fool.
He faced both ways at once
and never lost his cool.

He’d turn his head so he could see
but now and then he’d shed a tear –
and sometimes laugh and spread alarm –
which face was sad was never clear.

He’d sometimes smile and sometimes cry
but when you tried to look and see
he’d change his faces tit for tat
then cut a caper with great glee.


Eric Nicholson lives in the NE of England. He is a retired art teacher and sometimes writes about art. He has a number of poems online and blogs at:

Two Poems by Belinda Rimmer

Stoke Orchard

Some orchards curve across countryside
or tumble down hills happy as boys.

This one has dips and hollows
no-one fills in, broken fence-posts, dead wood.

It has weeds and wild daffodils,
a clump of Highland Cattle

beneath the trees, warning off rain –
lonely, perhaps, so far from home.

An ancient orchard caught between urban sprawl,
the slippery smell of a toxic waste dump,

and close to where Fred West lived
before Cromwell Street.

I often think about those missing girls
never catching their buses home.

holding on

in a quiet place

with a solemn oath
of a stream
a hedgerow the length of a field
meadows wild and free
where skies fall into shape
into blue

is the last tree standing

a shiver of pink blossom
bark rough and ragged as a fisherman’s hands

a girl sits among its branches
like a bird
excited by the smell of leaves and rain

she’s watching out
for changing weather

clinging on
with the arms of a panicked child


Belinda’s poems are widely published in print and on-line journals. In 2018, she came second in the Ambit Poetry Competition. Recently, she was joint runner-up in the Stanza Poetry Competition. She is also joint winner of the Indigo-First Pamphlet Competition, 2018, with her pamphlet, Touching Sharks in Monaco.

One Poem by James Bell

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

looking back

into memories is a loss leader
is much bigger than it appears
though you only remember essentials
on different days and quantities –

makes you look older
even if you are older and deny it
and would like to deny some times
that keep appearing from the past
the ones you don’t place on a pedestal
and revisit on darker now days

we all make mistakes in happiness
become sombre on the journey back
where you consider there is more to see
distance not an obstacle to recall
remembering which way to turn

have their own qualities – looking forward
has its appeal with all the space to fill
while looking back includes yesterday
last night or this morning – you can look
forward to the last falling leaf you might forget
or a butterfly on its way to an earthquake


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 Seth Jani

New Moon

No theories arise when the wind
hits the centerpiece and sends it
toppling to the floor.
Things will be as they are,
and the snuffed-out candle
forms a heap of ashes for the
scavenging mouse to find.
He will mend his own darkness
whether we catch him or not.
And even when our civilization has ended,
geologically or in a fluke
of our own devising, that same moon
which flared through midnight’s window
will continue its age-old provocation.
Becoming the place where another
generation of sleepwalkers
send their light-rigged prayers.

Cradling Keats

I went to the Protestant Cemetery in Rome.
It was a clear day. I was twenty-four.
I had come from many miles across
the Atlantic.
I bought a shovel from the nearby store.
I went to where Junkets lies.
I dug a hole six feet deep.
I hit a hull of rotted wood.
The sound was a kind of sadness.
Inside he was bare bones in a 19th
century suit.
Elegant. Dressed for dinner.
Still ready for the feast of living.
I held him forever in my arms.
Around us Shelley’s ashes danced
and flitted.
All that bright desirous being
just a minor pillage
for the old Italian wind.


Seth Jani lives in Seattle, Washington and is the founder of Seven CirclePress ( Their work has appeared in Chiron ReviewThe Comstock Review, Common Ground Review and Pretty Owl Poetry, among others. Their full-length collection, Night Fable, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2018. More about them and their work can be found at

One Poem by Judith Steele

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

All Is One

The old year looks back,
the new looks forward
both sculpted as Janus
according to convention.
Both heads are white marble,
share a neck and a skull and some hair.
The old is bearded, with sunken cheeks.
The young is bare-chinned, his nose a prow
to lead him ahead. To where?

I am old and look back at the good and the bad.
My grandchildren look forward in hope
and more fears
than my generation knew.
We share some genes
and the short warmth of life
eternal Janus never knew.


Judith Steele is Australian. Her poetry or prose has most recently appeared in the print journal Gobshite Quarterly (Oregon USA); and web blogs New Verse News and Plum Tree Tavern.

One Poem by Sheila Lockhart

Insouciance of Mink Pompoms

The forecast was for snow,
but still you wore those kitten heels
with pointy toes and pompoms
made from real mink.

When we left the bar that night
Prague was a fairytale.

Arms linked, we half-carried,
half-swept you, laughing,
through black and silver streets.
Dazzled by fairy light, we skimmed
the icy cobbles of Stare Mesto.


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 Michael Caines

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Two curmudgeons

I’ve never liked you much.
Still, I admit we share
some functionality:
a great grey area
of mind. Where we go Dutch.
And thus we can agree

one thing at least: this age
has rocks for brains! We both
contemn its follies with
all of our stoney rage.
(That said, to our collective sense
it’s clear that never once

was folly less, and never
can the world improve;
we see the past and the future
and would rather not see either.)
How to make things better?
You can’t. And we don’t believe

in fairy tales. The old
decade dies, and the new
comes in. St Petersburg
is monochrome, and cold.
I see a rising flag.
You take a longer view.


Michael Caines lives in London, and has had recent poems commended in the Battered Moons and Culpepper’s Remedy competitions.