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Victoria Pickup

Little did I know

There was a someone out there
the North to my South
and he spoke with a Mancunian accent.

That when he was growing his lungs
in an incubator, with no one to visit him
I hadn’t come into existence yet.

I watched the rise and fall of his tiny chest
from the ether.

When at last I came screaming into this world,
he would be building sandcastles under Blackpool lights
and placing his toys in a box for the third time.

That when I was revising for my GCSEs
He was sitting his A levels, both bowed
before Post It note shutters on cupboard doors.

We’d have the very same desk lamp from Argos,
our funnel of light.

That we’d lose our virginities simultaneously
sharing in pain and heartbreak, balancing
the giddy skip of infatuation on a see-saw –

it’s base set in the Midlands,
somewhere around Loughborough.

That I didn’t know what real love was.


Victoria Pickup is a previous winner of the Ernest Frost Prize and Café Writers competition. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies, magazines and online, most recently Nine Muses, Peeking Cat, Runcible Spoon and Reach Poetry. In 2018, Victoria co-founded the Inkpot Writer’s Group in Hampshire.

Sam Smith – Mock Sonnets

Mock Sonnet XI

Another novel/play of middle class manners
has our heroine, distantly married with distant
children, but a husband doting obsessive,
and she in a quandary over a pre-marital
lover’s return to the domestic scene;
the pre-marital lover now married to hubby’s
new female boss (of chambers, where else?),
and she a voracious seducer of keen-to-please
young interns. Alone in her kitchen our heroine
answers phone to pre-marital lover who
confesses how deeply (shallow characters
always claim deep) unhappy he is and
how he regrets leaving her for the sake
of a career ‘not now worth a candle…’


Mock Sonnet XIX

An egg needs a hen to lay it as
speech, on occasion, needs to be
weighted with action, with deeds.
But do I need a preface to tell me
how I should read a book, a poem?
And does any author really need to go
before a live audience, their mouths agape
and gurning, all eager to have their buttons
pressed? Does any performer, let alone
an author, need (no matter how bad/good
the performance) the introductory ritual applause
and obligatory encore? When the solitary
and silent reading of a poem can be like
must-be-quiet sex, self-consciously intense.


Mock Sonnet XXII

Leonard Cohen wrote, ‘Poet is a verdict
not an occupation.’ And pretentiousness
is that something that is intended to
impress, but has the opposite effect:
bar-room boaster telling nightly of his
busy sex-life, not a girl in sight;
raconteur inflating every experience beyond
credibility; and grown men in classrooms
and in court deepening their voices to make
all that they say sound sophisticated and/or
profound; plus poets and players on small stages
singing their own praises, being sure to hoot
and applaud when they too are sitting back
among those few making up the audience.

Sam Smith is editor of The Journal magazine and publisher of Original Plus books. Author of several novels and collections of poetry, he presently lives in Blaengarw, South Wales.



Will Daunt – England Edging

West Bexington

Booking this house had spooked me with its crass
happenstance: Coleman and Tennant parked once
by the drive to fathom who’d done what, or
how, dissecting this drain-straight, dead end climb
into slices of fiction.
Up Beach RoadI pause and imagine summer – Dorsets
of infinite shingle and hand-stitched fields.
But we’re trapped by those half-fledged gulls, over-
night anglers and un-cleared paths through National
Trust barricades. Whatever next? ‘Keep Out’.


Four of us slid past March store sales and plate
glass lies, bought pints of fear and remembered
him, lost at home. We knocked that Sunday back
from sleazy chairs then crossed the soaking street
and met you where that plastered ceiling rose.

They’d packed off the seats and you took the hall
by warmth, played a set of loss and comfort
and left its list by a foldback. You paused
at the death then stepped through a secret door
to sign the songs: an evening played for him.

T26 62E

Forgive or take forty years: the landmarks
have moved up that concrete strand and these new
palms and parasols throw little shade. My
photo shows hotels that smothered the last
powdered farms
but aged twelve I encountered
Guardia up every calle, and Franco’s
army of flats down unmade paths. Many
had smelt the slaughter four decades before.
They hid behind shutters like dry silent
hills and watched English lads working out Spain.

Will Daunt recently edited Eddie Wainwright’s selected poems: Pleading At The Bar of Truth, and his sixth collection of poetry Landed was published by Lapwing in 2013. Gerard Manley Hopkins: the Lydiate Connections was published in 2019, and he’s reviewed for Envoi, Pulsar, New Hope International and Tears in the Fence.

The sequence ENGLAND EDGING features 100 poems of 100 syllables.

Clint Wastling – Layers

Today we celebrate the ninth release from Maytree Press.

Clint Wastling’s Layers takes the reader on a journey of discovery. From the far flung corners of the Mediterranean to the North East coast of England, Clint’s poems seek to uncover not just the hidden secrets of our landscape but also scratch beneath the layers of emotions formed by the author’s own relationships with both family and place.

A wonderfully assured debut that brings a raft of images coupled with that faint smell of sea air.

Featuring wonderful cover art by Ian Burdall, Layers is now available direct from the author or on-line from out shop here

We’ll have news of the official launch event in the new year.

You can find out more about Clint by visiting his website here



There is something military about the waves today,
Uniformly attacking, grinding the applauding pebbles.
My eyes pick out a fossil preserved in fallen rock,
A spiral of immortality, decay in andante.

I wish I were a Mesozoic ammonite charting vast
Tropical oceans in search of food, a mate and meaning.

Waves whisper to the wind which caresses my skin.
Shore and sea with my thoughts lying on wave crests
Drawn then dashed, drawn, diminished again.

Saint Hild froze heathen snakes in your form.
Darwin saw your evolution from great sea-worms.
Children sell you to shop weary tourists,
But I imagine you alive in Jurassic oceans
Knowing nothing of extinction, men or gods.



English, header, stretcher, Flemish bond,
he taught me the basic stack before a brew
of builder’s tea and a fag break drew all to
the Portacabin.
If he could lay five hundred bricks
he’d get a full day’s pay.
Through all but the worst of weather
he’d work long hours, fingers taped,
shammy gloves kept out the lime,
bed of mortar, brick, tap, level.
He could halve a brick with one rap of the trowel.
Before he died,
dad listed houses, bungalows, schools,
a cold war bunker
but his first, he spoke of fondly,
flats on Bricknall Avenue whilst
apprenticed to old Jack Mather.
Perhaps he thought we’d photograph them all.
Make the mortar
mix sand and lime: 3:1 – blend in the water.
I see him now, his thin frame,
a shock of auburn hair
and fingers which
built brick on brick to house his every dream.


M E Muir

Prog Rock and the Language of Noise

Noise grows as weeds
in my garden of sound,
seeds dropped by passing crows,
their black notes ricochet
over quiet pathways,
tube trains, arguments, kids learning sax
smartphones, the announcer

bindweed aggressive bristled
brings out my spade,
get killer Round-Up
swop horticulture
for a wilding

so three percussionists
blocked full across the stage
in the gilded concert garden,
send blooms of scented springtime,
clematis, cistus, philadelphus,
to echo round and through and over
king crimson playing
on the embattled lawns;

a nimbus of nettles
still floats below the cupola
till a city-sky aircons it out
and scarlet poppies burst their seed
to happy happy soaring bass,
blitzing across the velvet seats

torching the voice of only a boy
who will burn up brambles
gift us
just a climbing dog rose
into our arms’ embrace,
on a perfect sphere
of meadow sweet.

M. E. Muir is a Scot now living in London, former teacher and business consultant, some of whose work has recently been published in Dawntreader, Carillon, Morphrog, The Curlew and The London Grip.

George Muir

St Francis Xavier’s Hand Travels Nova Scotia

Like the new skull of Lucy’s predecessor
St Francis Xavier’s forearm and hand

are making a comeback are causing a sensation
as they travel first class air across the woodland

of Nova Scotia. The poor dead saint and his
body part detached now living a life of its own

like the history of the humanoid his ancestors
from trees to caves to fields to farms

coming out of the wood to see the arm
waving to the Catholic crowds

those of us who wish the relic good health
on its journey back into our world

and remember the bones of an old cat found
beneath the porch of the summer cabin

the perfect skeleton left by devouring ants
left like a sacred artifact in the mind

of the ancestral child carried on its back
to the stars or the heaven

full of the secrets of the simple continuation
of the human race.

George Moore is the author of Children’s Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry 2015) and Saint Agnes Outside the Walls (FurureCycle 2016). His work has appeared in Poetry, Arc, Orion, the Colorado Review and Blast. He lives with his wife, also a poet, on the south shore of Nova Scotia.

Sanjeev Sethi


It seems I have sealed the sensations
of your touch as down payment of
an address we could never own or
occupy. White heat and the ensuing
calenture have lapsed. Emblems of
affinity are like the sky: always there.
Intimacy breeds indifference, in its
own way it keeps us knit.


Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry. He is published in more than 25 countries. Recent credits: The Sunday Tribune, The Cabinet of Heed, Amethyst Review, Talking Writing, Packingtown Review, Abstract Magazine, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.