Poem, Poetry

Ben Banyard

On Waking

If this is dawn
let me hear birdsong,

celebration after the long,
dark, fitful night.

If this is morning
let me see sunlight

bleeding warm and bright
below the curtains.

If this is farewell,
let me close my eyes,

whisper last goodbyes,
remember once upon a time.

Ben Banyard lives in Portishead on the Severn Estuary. His two poetry collections to date, Communing (2016) and We Are All Lucky (2018), are published by Indigo Dreams. Ben’s new collection, Hi-Viz, will be published by YAFFLE in 2021. Ben’s blog is at https://benbanyard.wordpress.com 

Friday Feature, Poetry

Friday Feature – Jenny Mitchell

Jenny Mitchell – Map of a Plantation


Publication Friday 16th April

Map of a Plantation is Jenny Mitchell’s follow up to her prize-winning debut collection Her Lost Language.

The collection gives voice to contrasting characters on a Jamaican cane plantation in order to examine the widespread and ongoing impact of enslavement.

These poems are both tender and uncompromising, always seeking to use the past to heal present-day legacies of a contested and emotive history.

This collection contains the winner of the Segora Prize 2020, the Aryamati Prize 2020 and the winner of a Bread and Roses Poetry Award.

Jenny Mitchell is winner of the Folklore Prize 2020, the Segora Prize 2020, the Aryamati Prize 2020, the Fosseway Prize 2020, a Bread and Roses Award and joint winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize.

She has been nominated for the Forward Prize: Best Single Poem, and her best-selling debut collection, ‘Her Lost Language’, is one of 44 Poetry Books for 2019 (Poetry Wales) and a Jhalak Prize #bookerlove recommendation.

Burden of Ownership

He measures cost in body parts. A head pays
for a month of food; two eyes, a week of drink.
Christmas adds a throat, carved out with care
the neck still holds a yoke if the chin is firm
weight evenly proportioned.

Four breasts pay for this season’s clothes – a mad
extravagance he means to make the norm.
His furniture demands a score of navels.
One manly chest is paid for every horse.
He only wants the ones with heart.

Below the waist is worth the price of land – an acre
for two wombs. Twelve manhoods buy a gushing stream
to serve his house and fields. A sack of feet placed
yearly in a bank account maintains his balance
and the boast – he’s always in the black.

Encountering a Slave Girl Held

In a museum cabinet, glass-topped
abandoned coffin. Lying straight.
Thin-faced, bark-hued.
Plaits against her scalp except a reckless horn.

Eyes blink obsidian.
Quick movement of the mouth.
She’s missing teeth or two in front. A hand cracks glass.
Slowly, she steps down, dress caught in the shards.

I back away as fingers work the jag, head lowered
left cheek bruised down to the chin she lifts with pride
exhibiting a rope burn –
choker set with gleaming coals.

Her voice cracks low – This time, I will not leave my breath
when I decide to run. Feet hardly dared
to touch the ground like waves
pulled out from under me.

This time, the trees will fold
bend bark knees.
No branch to snag my dress or point towards my back
surely as an arrow. I will aim

to reach the wall before it’s dark.
Climb each brick, big as a baby’s coffin.
No dog will bite my heel.
No rope turned to a choker.

Poem, Poetry

Jesse Matas


Our colour-words
fell on the back wall
of the apartment

the promise of an orchard
our legs stuck together

I burst in tears
and fed the Landlord

We left each other there
and whatever home we had

salttower shadows
memories of wormwood

that backwall apartment
that stone-peach memory

Jesse Matas is a father, husband, poet, musician, visual artist and peace scholar. His work has been described as having “more feeling than a bag full of feelings made out from feelings-cloth bought from the shop of feelings on feelings-street in feelings-town”. He is from Manitoba, Canada.

Poem, Poetry

Robert Etty

Having Said

‘If I’d thought first, I wouldn’t have said that,’
he thinks aloud, and then thinks silently,
second and third, of other things there’s a chance
he’ll say and wish for always he hadn’t.

But it’s as plain as the nose on his face
(the nose he probably wouldn’t choose) that
if he’d thought first, he still would have said it
to drown the silence drowning the radio,

to hear how it sounded when given voice,
or maybe to look at it in her face.
Mugs on the table stood open-mouthed,
and calendars began measuring its lifespan.

Bearing its lifespan in mind, he drives
at weekends to hotels and campsites
and makes late-night bookings on flights and whims,
and thinks as he packs if he’d thought, he wouldn’t.

Robert Etty lives in Lincolnshire. His latest collection, Planes Flying Over, was published by Shoestring Press in 2020.

Friday Feature, Poem

Friday Feature – Against the Grain Press

This week we spotlight two publications from Against the Grain Press.

Against the Grain Poetry Press is an innovative small independent poetry publisher dedicated to publishing challenging, well-crafted poetry. They love writing that is moving and provocative from strong, fresh, diverse voices.

They produce beautiful, starkly-designed, high quality books and pamphlets with high production values and an edgy appeal.

Please see their website for further details – Against the Grain Poetry Press (wordpress.com)

In an Ideal World I’d Not be Murdered by Chaucer Cameron

Publication date 28th March 2021

In an Ideal World I’d Not be Murdered is part memoir/part fiction and is Chaucer’s debut pamphlet. The poems explore the impact of prostitution.  

‘A brave, layered piece of work, in turn heartbreaking and hilarious. Chaucer Cameron is lyrically voicing her own experiences and simultaneously documenting the undocumented and doing it with a bold beauty – I’m in awe.’ – Sabrina Mahfouz

“These poems ring out like gunshots in the night; they will wake you from your sleep. Yet despite its distilled directness, this book is lifted by both mystery and surprise. Listen for the songs emerging from the dark centre of this transformative work of experience and survival.’  Jacqueline Saphra.  

Chaucer Cameron is a poet and poetry filmmaker. Her poems have been published in various journals, magazines & online, including Under the Radar, Poetry Salzburg, The North, Blue Nib, The Interpreter’s House, Poetry Shed, Ink Sweat & Tears. Chaucer’s poetry-films have been screen-published in some of the growing number of journals and sites that are now accepting mixed media, such as Atticus Review.  

She has performed at Ledbury Poetry Festival as part of a live performance combining British Sign Language poetry and video poetry (2017), Bath Fringe Festival Still Points Moving World performance writing exhibition (2014), and her poetry and monologues have been performed at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. 

She has co-edited three poetry anthologies: Salt on the Wind – poetry in response to Ruth Stone (Elephant’s Footprint, 2015) The Museum of Light (Yew Tree Press, 2014), Nothing in the Garden, (Elephant’s Footprint, 2014). 

The Green

The bus stopped
at the edge of The Green.

It was a dark winter evening
Ellen still had a twenty-minute walk home.

Bears … wild boars maybe.
That rustling crack closing in
must be animal.

It took three days to discover the body,
reporters said it was hard to identify –

devoured mostly.


It’s funny what you think of when you’ve had a near miss/ I
don’t think my nose is broken/ could’ve been much worse/
no time to check it out/ it doesn’t hurt/ anyway.

It’s funny what you think of/ when you’re gagging/ for your life
when you hear the car doors/ click/
when the music is turned up/ and you put on your disguise.

Tonight/ it was the Flintstones/ I watched them as a kid/ you
can watch it on YouTube/ it’s a sort of animation/
they used to call them cartoons/ but I can’t tell the difference.

The Flintstones were a family/ there was Fred and Barney/
Wilma/ and a Betty/ I had a crush on Betty/
what a beauty/ lovely legs/ she was a real animation.

Fred and Wilma had a kid/ every family had a kid/ named their
daughter Pebbles/ oh/ there was a Bamm-Bamm/ I’m forgetting/
Bamm-Bamm/ they found him on the doorstep/ then took him in.

I loved that show/ I loved the way they loved their kids/
it’s funny what you think of/ when you’ve got a dodgy punter/
bloody Flintstones/ bloody Pebbles/ hell/ a broken nose

Maternal Impression by Cheryl Moskowitz

Publication date 28th March 2021

The term maternal impression refers to the belief that powerful stimuli on the mind of a mother can make a physical or mental mark on the child she is carrying, even before it is born.

‘Reading Maternal Impression is to have the feeling of walking on nails with bare feet, with the assurance of trust. I go tenderly where these fine poems take me, knowing they will advance my pleasure, my empowerment.’ Daljit Nagra

“Every time I have heard Cheryl Moskowitz read “The Donner Party”, strange things have happened – a bell has rung with no-one at the door, candles have guttered in a church setting, and shivers always run down my spine. Moskowitz’s poetry summons spirits and spills beyond the words on the page into a mystical space where we are all connected in body and mind. These are poems that once read or heard, leave their mark. Mesmeric, soul-feeding, uneasy, I come back to them again and again for reassurance, admonishment, and recognition of what it is to hang onto the maternal in our collective journey. Maternal Impression is a call to arms – maternal arms – and all that implies in the Anthropocene. It has a beating heart that needs to be heard, felt, and heeded.” – Lisa Kelly

Cheryl Moskowitz was born in Chicago and came to the UK aged 11. Formerly an actor and playwright, she trained in psychodynamic counselling and dramatherapy, and taught on the Creative Writing and Personal Development MA at Sussex University. She was a 2018 Moth Poetry Prize finalist and her poem Hotel Grief was commended in the 2019 National Poetry Competition. She has published two poetry collections and a novel Wyoming Trail (Granta). She is an editor at Magma Poetry.

Daughter in Garden

It’s the last Sunday in August. I can just see her
standing outside with her back against the wall
facing away. She is poised as if waiting for something
but there is nothing, only summer stillness.

It is early. No one else is up. I hadn’t heard her
unlocking the back door, but she must have.
She looks intent, so intent it hurts to think of
what she wants and how much she wants it.

The view from here is beautiful in this light.
I can see the church spire from the window
and the roof of her school. She’s been away from
both for weeks. The bells will ring again soon.

A pigeon rises suddenly from the branches
of the pear tree. There was no blossom, so there
will be no fruit this year. My daughter takes a step
forward, away from the wall. She raises her arms.

It is as if she is preparing to rise and take flight
like the bird. She points one toe out in front of her –
a ballerina – and propels herself forward onto the lawn.
The whole summer has led to this. A perfect cartwheel.