One Poem by Daphne Milne

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

This Painting is by Someone Famous
which is why we hang it on the wall

Aunt Lucy used to wander.
An ambulatory roman statue
blue cloak  long white toga.

There are no adult photographs
but there is this painting
a lanky figure by the silver birches.
She’s the one who escaped
ran off with the artist
led a wild life in Morocco
only mentioned in whispers
‘pas devant les enfants’.

But who is this infant swathed in lace
beaming cheerfully under golden curls
from the family christening dress?
Who is this fine boned youth
playing Cinderella
in the Christmas pantomime?
Who is this soldier
with the pale moustache?

‘That’s Lucius – disappeared –
after the war.’ ‘We don’t talk about it.’


Daphne writes poems, short stories, novellas, flash fiction. Work published in print/on line in magazines and anthologies internationally.

Daphne now lives in Fremantle, W. Australia. She reads regularly at Perth Poetry Club. She has recorded two podcasts for ILAA on Kalamunda radio.

Her pamphlet The Blue Boob Club is published by Indigo Dreams Press:

One Poem by Bruce McRae

The Day I Almost Won the Lottery

The day I almost won the lottery,
short a bob or two and shy one number.

The day the sky came nearer to the Earth
than you want to think is possible,
my destiny tangled in old fishing line,
sea mist clinging close to shore,
gulls mocking me in my desperation.

The day I almost walked away from myself.
Leaving my skin behind. Abandoning my old shoes.
A single empty hanger in the closet swinging perpetually,
as if wind ran through the house
and a great truth had been denied me.


Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with over 1,400 poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets’ (Silenced Press); ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ (Cawing Crow Press); ‘Like As If’ (Pski’s Porch); and ‘Hearsay’ (The Poet’s Haven).

One Poem by Diana Cant

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Turn

You may think me sorrowful and melancholy,
mourning summer’s demise with downcast eyes;
you may think me pensive and preoccupied
and you would be right, but only partly so.
True, this stream has nurtured me, offered
sanctuary from youth’s raw turbulence;
the silent pool reflected childhood slights,
the silver birches healed my first broken heart.

But now there comes a different age,
a time to turn away from childish things, a time
to temper innocence with faltering experience.
I see autumn burning bright beyond this glade,
and as the leaving birds turn towards the south
my senses thrill as my time to fly draws near.


Diana Cant is a child and adolescent psychotherapist, just completing an MA in Poetry Writing from Newcastle University, studying at the Poetry School in London. Her poems have been published in the NHS Anthology, Humanagerie, and Eighty Four; and in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Nine Muses Poetry and Allegro.

One Poem by Pat Tyrer

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

October’s Call

The back porch is cool this morning with only the expectation of early fall.
The grass seems glazed with rain although it’s only the morning sprinkler
forestalling the inevitable death cycle when the grass will brown and
fall’s leaves will cover its hidden demise. Yet still
the cool promise of fall will arrive for a short time before it heralds winter’s conquest.
For now, the air is stilled crisp, filled with the scent of windfall apples
ripening into hard cider on the ground for the benefit of nether critters.
The tiniest of flying creatures sit high on the thinnest branches awaiting the sun.
From their height they can see the glow as the sun appears, just
a slight ribbon of light brings forth their songs. They will not sing long.
As the brightness glides across the morning sky, their voices will quiet
to hide from those who would take advantage of their youthful naivete.


Pat Tyrer is a writer and poet who lives in the Texas Panhandle where she hikes Palo Duro Canyon bird watching when the sun is up and star gazing when it’s not. When not writing, she teaches creative writing and American literature at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

Two Poems by Ellie Rose McKee

Paper Hands

You hear about tennis
elbow and swimmer’s ear,
but have you ever felt the
hands of a poet?

Touched the dry softness of skin
that’s had all its oil absorbed
by journals and notecards,
letters and books –

any available surface that
would give or receive words –
veins showing through paper-thin
skin, in which the ink flows?

The Mountain

The mountain grows, day on day
Its shadow tacked to the souls of my feet

I climb
I fall
I crawl
and bleed

Every step away from submit makes the trek harder
Each new attempt is folly


Ellie is a writer from Northern Ireland. She has had a number of poems and short stories published and has been blogging for over ten years, since her time at university. Currently, Ellie is seeking representation for her debut novel. She lives in Belfast with her husband.

One Poem by James Bell

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

nobody steps in the same river twice

after Heraclitus

a time to watch most of a year
flow by with only a few leaves
to contemplate as you watch your reflection
become small ripples that will never
be repeated and see them drift away again

consider stepping down into the water
as a sudden reality to break through
draw a line at least between seasons –
an uncontroversial celebration – a quest
symbolic of making or doing something new
without questions being asked – just say

you fell in while half asleep – stumbled
across new and old limitations and blew
them away with the realisation of truth
composed only of water – ignored beside
the beauty of these young silver birches
as you prepare to step into the same river twice


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 Beth McDonough


in more Scottish summers, were cloched,
or otherwise coaxed, below Grandpa’s glass.
Bent, sparse and spiky. Nigh indigestible.

Given that truth, why did we buy
paired yoghurt pot plants at the charity sale?
To be plopped in the raised bed? I can’t say.

Fruitless vines sprawled, fairly inelegantly.
By zucchini fecundity, they bore
plentiful, small, yellow flowers.

Then yesterday we flicked an enormous leaf.
Huge cucumber. Suddenly triffiding.
Overnight, heat scalpeled skies. Rain blootered in.

Today’s soil dries, newly wild with ambitions
of so many gherkins. Just detected,
six giants pomp in the undergreen.

We observe them outdo other squash,
drip from walls, sprint-knot small tattie shaws.
Quick. There are more ways of pickling.

Keeping low

Scabious lavenders up.
All frilly pincushions,
fluffed in needling sage marram.
Perhaps an undemanding push through sand
by the coastal cycle path. Check.
Long-necked, pale. Ballgowned flowers.

Flirts in the hardly wind, they stir
by tansy’s taut gentleman’s buttons.
Over there, controversial and uncouth
ragwort thrusts. Tempts stirks.
Bothered beasts, not even drawn
to frisk any style in this heat.

White bindweed cracks out, pink-edged
through restraining orderly walls,
shored up over dunes. An attempt to ensure
no-one falls into a zealous sea.
Sand silts into places where lusher times
must freshen with poppies and vetch.

Two burns are gone now. Dry,
under unpickable cress,
flecked in its cream-prickle buds.
That usurper balsam
upstarts, and butterflies land
on plants hardly anyone names.

There are no stars to collect
from this hot-bright sky
burning over our papery land.
No reason to match that lost
helicopter shape to its sound.
Scabious deserves a much kinder name.


Beth McDonough’s work connects strongly with place, particularly to the Tay, where she swims, foraging nearby. Her poetry is published in Gutter, Stand, Causeway and elsewhere. She reviews at DURA. Handfast (with Ruth Aylett) investigates experiences of autism and dementia in verse. McDonough’s first pamphlet will be published in September.

One Poem by Lynn White

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Meditation On Autumn

I look into the river
and see how my reflection
moves helplessly in its flow.
It’s moved and changed,
but left stationary,
not moved along
like the fishes
and pebbles
and floating leaves.
Disturbed and abstracted
my image fades and breaks
with the images beyond me.
I feel in danger of being broken up
and washed away
leaf by leaf.
The sweet watery sounds should ease my spirit,
should shut out the babbling inside me.
But even as I put my hands
over my broken ears,
I know that winter
will find a way
in any case.


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 Simon Daley

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Time to blossom

I wonder, do you find me too Plane,
or perhaps think me merely Willowy?
Am I, in your eyes, to be tended,
curtailed and trimmed to a shape
you find manageable, controlled?
I can find my place in the sun,
root out my own share without
you to hold me and hold me back.
Never bank on me needing, or be fooled
by my shedding of seasoned garb.
I will not lay myself bare for you,
but choose to stand proudly naked
when the time is right for me.
Disrobing is an act of cold defiance
you are unlikely to understand.
Instead you seek to shelter yourself
from the sheer joy of such exposure.
You should be forever green of me
and the freedom I have to change.
My rebirth and growth, past you.


Simon Daley is a police officer who aspires to write poetry that people are glad they read. He is studying creative writing with Open University. He may never be published but can live with that. He lives in Scotland between houses and a campervan and misses his daughter terribly.

Two Poems by Holly Day

The Woman

I used to wonder if I’d recognize her
if I passed her on the street
if there would be some spark of recognition
in her eyes

years passed, and I wondered
if I had brothers and sisters
out there, not worrying so much
about the mother who left me
but still curious about family

now I don’t care. Not really.
my mother thought 12 years old
was old enough to walk away from
and if she didn’t need me then
I certainly don’t need her now.

The Haunted

can’t seem to get rid of your voice
constant in my ear, the subtle constant
clicking and clacking of your
spoken vices and dreams, conversations that should

have ended when you walked out the
door but they never end, they
go on and on. See your face behind my closed
eyes as if you were tattooed on the insides of my

eyelids and not some haunting reconstruct
of memory, you can not
be as beautiful as you are in
my dreams, I hope I pray that

as you walk through your day, smiling
pleasantly at strangers, that somewhere
pressed against your soul is
some painful, unshakeable photograph of me.


Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Plainsongs, The Long Islander, and The Nashwaak Review. Her newest poetry collections are In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing), Folios of Dried Flowers and Pressed Birds (, Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), and Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing).