Poem, Poetry

Neil Fullwood


Taxi on the business account: the touchstone
should be a slightly less starchy version
of Parker from Thunderbirds – no need for
the “very good, m’lady”, the peaked cap or

the ostentatious Rolls. But still a sense
of gravitas or decorum divorced from the gregarious
comic-relief cabbies of sitcoms or cartoons,
extravagant gestures and speech balloons

bursting with inventive invective.
No, it’s a different cultural imperative
I’m thinking of: de Niro in the Scorsese film,
all bad ideas and insomnia, mind unravelling,

thoughts falling inexorably like matches
into pools of flammable liquid. It’s not that
I can picture him in some shitty tenement,
armed and practising his quick-draw technique

but more – while he spiels filth about his ex –
as the lonely misguided loser, obsessed with sex
and the drawn-curtain lives of others,
a man out of options. He pulls up, hands me a

slip to sign. It’s not that I can picture him with a gun,
but he’s unravelling. One day a rain will come.

Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham, England, where he still lives and works. He has published two full collections with Shoestring Press, No Avoiding It and Can’t Take Me Anywhere. His third collection, Service Cancelled, is due for publication later this year. 

Friday Feature, Poem, Poetry

Shul – F. R. Kesby

We are delighted to share with you two poems from Maytree 25 as part of our featured publication for Friday.

Shul is the debut collection from Leeds based writer and creator F. R. Kesby.

Shul will be released on the 30 April 2021 with a Facbook Live launch event on the 1 May which you can join by following this link – https://fb.me/e/RCbnR7e7

The word Shul is both a Yiddish word meaning synagogue (derived from the German for ‘school’) and a Buddhist concept of emptiness left behind when something has moved on; hollows left after houses have been removed, footprints on paths, the wearing of rocks by a river. In Buddhism this emptiness is sought out, the relief of the space left when one stops worrying about the emotional marks you have left.

In this collection of poems F R Kesby has sought to explore those marks they have left on their own world and the relationship between their memories of physical and emotional spaces. From comparing the memories of their home town compared to what it looks like now to viewing their relationship through one small bed to exploring places heard about every day in the news, each poem links place and soul in a way that respects the history of the word Shul, both Buddhist and Jewish, while being intensely personal.


In the land of boarded up shops
and barred up houses
I find myself watching a woman
struggle through the word ‘alive’.
I tell her; you are alive,
I am alive, a dog is alive, a flower is alive.
I could list the dead things instead; her family,
her friends, her lovers,
the dream of democracy in her country
and the thousands of husbands and sons
who fought for it.
I could teach her the myths; the gods, 
the baked clay, the long crawl 
from single cells to terrorist cells.
I could teach her the science; the sun
giving energy to plants that give energy to us
that we use to make bombs.
Instead I repeat; you are alive.
She whispers; I am alive.

I could almost believe
I helped her understand.

They’re Resurfacing the Road
We Used to Meet On 

I push my boot into the tar,
press the thin covering
against the heat of a reshaping world.
I’ve got 60 seconds
before my sole melts.
I flatten the bubbles,
stamp out creases,
smooth the edges.
I dance on the spot
where you used to wait for me.
I make the old new.
60 seconds is all it takes
to change a soul.

Poem, Poetry

Hannah Stone


Wind cannot remember, so returns
again and again, to polish each boulder,
caressing its curves with the obsessiveness
of an obtuse lover who cannot read unresponsiveness.

Wind has forgotten that the chapel
was built for people to gather in,
forgets to gentle itself on the headland,
drives rainwater through metre thick walls
so the only worshippers are winged beings.

Wind is fickle, tires of holding aloft
the many crows not to mention gulls
with their ostentatious acrobatics,
drops, sudden as a raptor
even though there is no prey.

All week, though, wind stayed close
Sometimes a mere whisper in my ear
Sometimes bawling for full attention
Like the primal creature it is.

Hannah Stone has published four volumes of poetry, including Swn y Morloi,  the inaugural volume for Maytree Press, who are published her latest book Reflections: a poet-theologian in Lockdown Leeds in March 2021. She edits Dream Catcher journal, collaborates with other poets, musicians and artists and facilitates various poetry events in Leeds. 

Poem, Poetry

Charley Barnes – 2 poems

Euphorbia | Milk and chocolate

You mishear me, mistake the word
for “euphoria”
and assume I’m offering
something like elation. But I serve
Wolf’s milk instead, chocolate drops
that blister the skin and blind the eyes
because what better way is there
to love someone
than to make them hurt?

“Euphorbia,” you say, through lips
split from sunlight sensitivity
and I shush you, persist
in pressing sap into the dip
of your tongue.
This is different to how you imagined.
“But aren’t you excited, love,”
I ask you, “don’t you feel something now?”

Euphorbia, also known as Wolf’s Milk, is traditionally associated with persistence and purification. The plant blooms with a chocolate flower at its centre. The sap and latex of the plant are extremely poisonous and can cause permanent damage to the eyes and skin.

Cactaceae | And then bury it

I pull out the spines,
feel my fingertip skin break
under the point of them.
They are hard-edged, appropriate,
then, for the root – for the word.

I carve as clearly as the cacti point allows:


This stem, I give back to the earth –
bury it as best as I can where I found it,
to disguise the magic and seal
the intention – make a treehouse
to keep the word safe.

But I take a vial of soil with me.
I will never come back. Only carry
a reminder – only remember the want.

Cactaceae – or cacti – have been used in magic practices. One ritual outlines using a cacti spine to carve a word or symbol into a root, or into wax. The root or wax should then be buried to seal the intent.

Charley Barnes is a lecturer in Creative and Professional Writing at the University of Wolverhampton. She has published several poetry pamphlets, and most recently her debut collection, Lore, published with Black Pear Press (February 2021). She also writes crime fiction as Charlotte Barnes, with Bloodhound Books.

Poem, Poetry

Mark Totterdell – 3 poems

The Choughs On The Cliff

A cry like a ‘ciao’.
For less than a minute,
we watch birds who wear
the black of a widow.

One goes into air,
one stays on pale granite.
One’s feather and bone,
the other’s all shadow.


The blackbird
who chink-chink-chinks in alarm
each time the sky falls,
as if night were
a great black cat
with keen moon eye,

is the same blackbird
who hauls up the sun
from under the horizon
with his pure gold chains
and sets each day in motion.


There’s been an event, here on the forest track.
A mass of stuff has dropped. Already a force
of small beings has fuzzed its domed surfaces,
while others dance, particles round a nucleus.

Here comes the dirt-borer, the true old dumbledor,
the lousy watchman, crawling like clockwork
on carbon fibre legs. Its back is a grooved shield,
its sheen a rainbow of indigo and black.

It comes in at an angle, then it hits
but doesn’t stop; asteroid striking planet,
slow bullet through flesh. It plunges its dark self
deeper and deeper into soft succulent shit.

Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won competitions. His collections are ‘This Patter of Traces’ (Oversteps Books, 2014) and ‘Mapping’ (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018) http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/mark-totterdell/4594336680