2020 top 5, Poem, Poetry

Number 4 – Rosalie Alston

We’re delighted to see that Rosalie’s poem, Heron, included as part of our Beautiful Creatures features as made the top five – congratulations Rosalie.


Through the train window
across water meadows
I see you again
so still in the grey
contours of air and water –
ghost, visitation and holy fool
hear silent prayers
in half-beat rhythms of driving rain
soft and alone
I see your shield of fog
I will cry out when you kill.

Rosalie Alston grew up in the countryside and now lives in the city.  She likes wandering around, writing poems and participating in community poetry groups.  Rosalie has facilitated writing opportunities for adopted young people in the South West. She has had poems about adoption and child migrants published in anthologies.

2020 top 5, Poem, Poetry

Number 5 – Ruth Taaffe

Congratulations to Ruth whose poem first featured way back in January and has been a favourite in the village throughout the year.


Past midnight. Paros, Greece. July
the sweetest month
to be alive, eighteen.
A dust-quiet street, a breather
from the dancing night

when a wavering man with white hair
came by us two
sitting as we were
on a bakery step closed
in between loaves and fishing
secretly for compliments
or catches with each other

he turned
unfocused to us
closer than breath
and said

“If you bottled what you have
between you now
and sold it as perfume
you’d make a fortune.”

I still remember your eyes
your name. Brown hands huge
slender, holding mine.
I keep this night bottled
and breathe it in from time to time.

Ruth Taaffe is from Manchester, UK and currently lives in Singapore where she is the Head of English at an International School. Ruth is an MA student of Creative Writing with Lancaster University and some of her poems have been published in the online journal Creative Writing Ink as well as in print in Acumen.

Poem, Poetry

Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

Go Girl

Grandmother croons: plaits dreams
into her lassie’s long, crazed curls.
Out of tune cadences –

carry more than perfect-pitch hits

denoting lack of mercy. Tangled
knots, flawed rhythms accompany
each brush stroke. Her old songs tell

girlhood confers grace
to make mistakes

whilst seeking comfort
in her own worn, Kintsugi wisdom
[seasoned with unconditional love]
when things go wrong.

Go girl. Live
with outrageous courage.
Shake your braids and brave your days.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art.

Ceinwen lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. She graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in 2017. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

Poem, Poetry

Kayleigh Campbell


Hushed waves roll in and out softly
as though they know we are grieving.
Salt breeze, seaweed clinging to an old tyre
floppy as a newborn.

Our footprints in the sand delicate
like the edge of a pie crust;
we leave a trail along the shoreline
as we unfold to the tide.

Swiss Chocolate

A lot of things have happened this year.
My mother & sisters denied the pandemic,

a star disappeared from the sky and a flag.
Sarah Palin sang Baby Got Back.

A beast was finally caged.
My daughter learnt the word Fuck.

A little place named Olten was showered
in small nibs of Lindt;

I look into my own ever-changing sky,
waiting for some to fall.

Kayleigh Campbell is a second-year Creative Writing PhD Researcher at The University of Huddersfield. Her debut pamphlet Keepsake was published by Maytree Press in 2019 and she also won the Gloucestershire Poetry Competition the same year. Most recently her work has appeared in Butcher’s Dog and Ink, Sweat & Tears. 

Poem, Poetry

Peter Burrows – 3 poems

Holiday Home

An early rise, a blink from last night. Now
charging North through darkness, border crossing
by light. Landforms lift and alter. The sea ferries.
Coveting the code of the keypad release.

We open to a vacated existence:
artisan biscuits and wine welcome us in.
Baggage dumped. Kids claiming beds. Flicking through
the laminated guide. Settings. Making home

from home. Shopping list treats (OJ with the bits).
Leafing the left behind books; becoming
a weeklong expert in local fauna.
Outpaced by sun, noticing clouds, shifting. Slow

days. Sat out late, wine each night. Soon knowing
the quirks of the place. The hot water. That lock.
Unwinding, immersing, until Thursday, Fri…
Returning to that little place we found.

Craft mementoes bought for the mantlepiece.
Half-packing the night before – their DVD
or ours? Taking pics for decor ideas.
Then the morning sweep. Wiping away all trace.

Depositing waste in the right coloured bin.
Taking only the impression, the light;
the shape of space, so later lulled to find yourself,
reliving that situation, that place.

Mistress Lands

Mistress lands, island
dreams. To stay beyond…

Night boats, dances,
beaches alone. Lush
fields parting your
empty roads.

What weather
caresses you now –
altering your countenance.

More than a mirage:

the Scottish notes unspent,
folded tight in my wallet.
The boarding pass, unmoved
from the dashboard. Fading
from some other light.

Lady Anstruther’s Tower
Elie, Fife.

This is the place she took the water.
The commissioned folly elevated
high on the rocks, surveys Ruby Bay,
the sandy inlet, in which she bathed.

Her morning routine declared
to townsfolk by a servant
ringing the bell along High St.,
preserving her delicate position.

The view cleared like Balclevie,
a whole village moved
from her estate to enhance the prospect
over breakfast. Decency aside,

what remains? The folly stands. Restored.
The arched entrance softened by sea, sky,
centuries, and smiles of passers-by
picturing themselves against its framed light,

luminous, ever-shifting, always free.

Peter Burrows lives in the North West. His poems have appeared widely including the recent Places of Poetry anthology and The Cotton Grass Appreciation Society and Tree Poets Nature anthologies. His poem Tracey Lithgow was shortlisted for the Hedgehog Press 2019 Cupid’s Arrow Poetry Prize.

peterburrowspoetry.wordpress.com @Peter_Burrows74

Peter writes about 3 poems:

All three are inspired by Scotland where I’ve lived, holiday and still have
family. Holiday Home is about the drive to the West Coast and immersing oneself in the rhythms of a place. Mistress Lands was inspired by several visits to Orkney – a place where a day does not go by that my thoughts aren’t drifting to wondering what the weather or light is like there, almost leading a double life, hence the title. Lady Anstruther’s Tower is about land ownership in the late 1700s and the suppression of tenants, and the eventual release over time of a beauty spot and its tower, and how its meaning changes over time.