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Paul Vaughan

Ping Pong in the Afternoon

I see her on the Northern Line.
Knees clasped tight
she looks through me,
handles of table tennis bats
poking out of her handbag.

Later I hear her.
My office window open,
I type letters
to anonymous businessmen
click click click
across the way
she works harder
with slap! of ping pong bat
on middle aged buttocks
that whips my ears
slap slap slap.

I hear the men,
imagine eyes screwed tight, lips twisted
head shoved hard into pillow
ping pong bat rising and falling
slap slap slap on fat pink cheeks.
I click click click.

After work we gather and
she has a gin and tonic.
I talk shop with colleagues
pretending not to watch her
trying not to stare at
handles of table tennis bats
poking out of her handbag.


Paul Vaughan lives in Yorkshire with two cats and a wine-rack. His poems have appeared in Agenda, Acumen, Poetry Salzburg, Prole, Frogmore Papers, Obsessed with Pipework, Ink, Sweat & Tears and other places. Chief Editor of Algebra of Owls. Debut pamphlet due out in 2019.



Hannah Stone

Easter Hail Stones, Hanlith Moor 

The sky is surly today,
reluctant to twist the veil
and clothe us in its blue lining.

Spring trees are barely clad,
still stretch out their limbs
in dark longing.

After Gordale Scar refuses us
the moors embrace our feet;
saturated soil clogs our boots.

Then, sudden and brutal,
the weather front drops its pretence,
drapes us with white-out.

Hail stones beat and batter
any flesh exposed to its blows.
Visibility shrinks before our gaze.

This cold pierces Gortex layers,
stabs to the bones.
Cheeks redden from its flail.

Then, it is as if a hand
reaches down and lifts the scourge,
switches on the light.

There is a lane, pointing
in roughly the right direction.
On naked elders, birds start to celebrate.

We breathe new life
into stinging fingers,
raise bruised faces to the sun.


Hannah Stone has been widely anthologized and published on ezines and in The North, Dreamcatcher and other journals and collaborations. Solo publications include ‘Lodestone’ (Stairwell Books, York, 2016) and ‘Missing Miles’ (Indigo Dreams 2017). She collaborates with poets, composers and broadcasters. In other lives, she is a hillwalker, forager, singer and teacher.
Hannah’s new pamphlet, SŴN Y MORLOI ON PEN-CAER, is due in late spring 2019 from Maytree Press




Alisa Velaj

Seeded Like That, Loveless Altogether

Everything will end where it began.
The deviant northern winds on the leaf’s thorn
stink of nothingness.

I am cold, my Lord,
and wondering why this frost won’t leave the shores.
The zephyr neither will, nor need milden it…

Frigidness still remains its old self –
so seeded in the womb, loveless altogether.

Everything will recommence where it did not end.

The hostage-held souls
will long for the eagles’ freedom –
the single refrain over nights of regret,
where water is conceived of icy cactus ghosts…

Translated from Albanian:


Albanian variant:


Gjithçka do të ndalet aty ku filloi.
Erërat e marra në gjeth’ të gjembit
kundërmojnë asgjënë.

Kam ftohtë, imzot
dhe s’di pse s’më largohet ky acar prej brinjëve.
Klima detare as do ta zbutë, as nuk duhet.

I ftohti mbet’ sërish ai që ishte –
ashtu i ngjizur krejt pa dashuri.

Gjithçka do të fillojë aty ku nuk mbaroi.

Shpirtrat e lënë peng
do të ndiejnë mall për lirinë e shqiponjave –
i vetmi refren i netëve të pendesës.
uji që ngjizet nëpër vegime kaktusesh…


Alisa Velaj was born in the southern port town of Vlora, Albania in 1982. She has been shortlisted for the annual international Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in UK in June 2014. Her works have appeared in more than seventy print and online international magazines, including: FourW twentyfive Anthology (Australia), The Journal (UK), The Dallas Review (USA), The Linnet’s Wings (UK) The Seventh Quarry (UK), Envoi Magazine (UK) etc etc. Her poems will appear soon in “The Curlew Magazine” and “Poetry, Life & Time”. Velaj’s digital chapbook “The Wind Foundations” translated by Ukë Zenel Buçpapaj is published by Zany Zygote Review (USA). Her poems are also translated in Hebrew, Swedish, Romanian, French and Portuguese. Alisa Velaj’s poetry book “With No Sweat At All” (trans by Ukë Zenel Buçpapaj) will be published by Cervena Barva Press in 2019.

Aaron Lembo

Around the Campfire We Talk Poetry

You tell me I put too much stock
on the importance of the line, its break:
as unimportant as the classical books I read.

I take another swig from our bottle:
vegan wine, your favourite tipple…

You say you’re a child of Gaia
I say I am a child of God – I think –
we might decide they’re the same thing.

We both agree on the virtues of using
avocado and coconut oil as lubricant;

we each enjoy growing tight, curlicue
clumps of hair south of our waist.

We each take another hit on the pipe.
You tell me to strip and write a sonnet.


Aaron Lembo has had poems published in Magma, Obsessed with Pipework and in many online publications. He was the winning librettist of the 2017 Rosamond Prize and he has obtained an MA Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University. Currently he lives and teaches English in Salamanca, Spain.


Cameron Morse

Daylight Saving Time

We lose an hour in the ocean blue of early morning,
an hour we might have spent sitting together
at the varnished butcher’s block of the kitchen table,
eating scrambled eggs with hemp seeds.
Cutting an avocado
in half, you might have offered me the seedless, hassle-free
hemisphere and kept the trouble for yourself.
I might have urged
you to drink your water because you are always forgetting.
In our lost hour, we might have cuddled on the sofa
in my study, watching the first half of a movie.

Instead, you dream of losing me again.
You are in your dream when the clocks change.
You are in your dream when the sparrows awaken
in the dark heart of the yew.
The hour is not lost to them
for they know only the lightening sky. In the pallor,
I tell you not to cry. An hour cannot be lost,
not one minute of it, and I will not die so soon.


Description of a Typical Day for My Continuing Disability Report

If government is muted and muffled
    People are cool and refreshed.
    If government investigates and intrudes,
    People are worn down and hopeless.
        —Lao Tze

On a typical day, I wake up with cancer,
spoon coconut oil onto polymer.
Its iceberg of healthy natural fat pirouettes
above the spreading puddle.

If my cancer cells require glucose, I give them
ketones. I beat ketones into my eggs.
On a typical day I drink six cups of coffee,
pouring them out of my thermos, little
by little, into stoneware. I reserve
the morning of a typical day for psalms

of blastoma, the songs of my cells, an uncontrollable
division of angels on the head of a pin, the tip
of a needle. I fill Moleskine after Moleskine
with the concrete details of a typical day,
its dishes hot out of the washing machine,
the smell of laundry in the nostril
of the exhaust fan, a rusty spade left out in the rain.


Ketogenic Diet

In the end, I eat nothing.
I starve myself to kill my cancer.
Closing my eyes, I listen for the cheep
of baby sparrows, eager,
insisting on new life. I could sit here
for a thousand years and never see
beyond this moment, this sweet breeze
of heaven, sunlight glancing
among the amputated branches.

In the meantime, I live by faith,
faith in the ketones I lick off my fork
and spatula, faith in the omelet
it takes two hours to slurp and swallow.

I infuse spoonfuls of olive oil into my blood.
The omelet that floats atop my plate
like a pontoon boat in the healthy natural fat
its eggs cannot absorb is my rescue.

At Chinatown Food Market,
I throw up the yellow shell, clumps
of mushroom, the leafy slime of spinach.
I retch and up comes the coconut
oil you blend into my coffee. Dumpster flies
flurry on the loading dock.


In support of World Cancer Day, we are honoured to publish three poems from Cameron Morse from his yet unpublished collection, Sinophile.

Sinophile is a collection of poems on the subject of Cameron’s glioblastoma (GBM) diagnosis, the most aggressive and malignant form of brain cancer. Cameron is now in his fourth year on a 14.6 median life expectancy. As such, Sinophile deals with chemo, radiation, blood draws, medications, diets, a dire prognosis and the life of a cancer patient.


Rebecca Parker

This isn’t the poem

A full year went by after the walk we took
above the clouds, when we climbed through
the fog bank and emerged
into a world of golden hilltop, with
a sky of antique powder blue writing paper
over a slow ocean of white foam.

A year, when I sat down with the compressed day
and passed it from hand to hand,
turned it over and held it to the light
to see what was trapped inside,
then thought of a book I read once
and the name of an ancient landscape dressed up
as a goddess in a snowdrift coat and
a stone crown, basking in a wide cathedral sky.

By now a poem had formed, but it
dashed into the undergrowth before I could catch it
by the hind legs. Several months of tracking led me
to its glade where a pair of antlers,
calcified lightning, was shed on the ground,
and from the corner of my eye I saw a white hart
flash between the trees.

The ambush never occurred. The poem knew
I waited for her, and winter scratched at the doorway
of my hide. I mounted the antlers on my wall
to brood at, half defeated, half content
with my unwrangled poem, living wild, uncaught.



Rebecca Parker is a writer and copy-editor based in Fife, Scotland. Her work has most recently appeared in Gutter, The Cardiff Review, and The Curlew. She is a member of the publishing team for Tapsalteerie, publisher of contemporary poetry pamphlets in Scots, Gaelic, and English.

Gareth Writer-Davies

Pen y Fan

on a track
no wider than a sheep

I am defacing
not decorating the scenery

and I should have turned back
my ambition unroped itself from my abilities

upon thermals (above the soaring peaks)

are showing how feathers are the way to get around

I sucker myself
to the whorls of the mountain

and take in the terrifying compass



Gareth has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2014 and 2017), commended Prole Laureate Competition (2015)  Prole Laureate for 2017 and commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition (2015) and Highly Commended in 2017.

“Bodies”, was published in 2015  by Indigo Dreams and “Cry Baby” came out 2017.

His collection “The Lover’s Pinch” (Arenig Press) published June, 2018.



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