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Edwin Stockdale

Two Hogsheads
Bowyer Tower,18 February 1478

George, Duke of Clarence, peers
from his cell, his skin coarse,
chapped. He knows he won’t see
his daughter: tall, thin,
the angular face of her mother.

His son Edward’s little footsteps stutter
up the spiral staircase.
Sleet falls from the greylag sky.
Swans glide the Thames
white for the House of York.

Leaving the Tower’s carapace
he doesn’t shiver,
places one foot
in front of the other.

The balm of a Malmsey wine
equal to two hogsheads
swallows him,
his cold eyes stinging.


Edwin Stockdale has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham with Distinction.  Two of his pamphlets have been published by Red Squirrel Press: Aventurine (2014) and The Glower of the Sun (2018).  Currently, he is researching a PhD in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University.


Peter Kenny

The house of hidden hope

Nan hid her scotch under the sink.
Other secrets she slid between the floorboards.

I’m sad when I pass her old place,
its garden tarmacked for a Nissan car.

How easy to picture her face at the door.
How hidden everything behind her.

What’s left of her is lodged in corners,
wedged-in with mildewed money,

foxed books, broken toys
or tinselled gifts for other kids.


Peter Kenny is a poet, playwright and freelance writer working with humanitarian and health clients. His poetry publications include The Nightwork (Telltale Press 2014) and A Guernsey Double (Guernsey Arts Commission 2010), his plays are all black comedies, and include Wrong and A Glass of Nothing. He also writes horror short stories, most recent publication The Dark Fish  appeared in Horla the home of intelligent horror (Nov 2018).  He blogs at

Cara L McKee

My First Kiss

I thought that my first kiss
was required for the rich boy
tearing petals from gardenias
in October, throwing them
from the old bridge into the Wharfe,
wailing that the blooms
would get more kisses from the water
than he would get from me.

He’d never asked and I
wasn’t there for the show
but the highlights were brought to me
in gossip, fast as the water
flows through the Strid.

I was at Eleanor’s party
working up the courage
to cadge kisses from the man
stealing the Jaffa Cakes, retro,
all White Musk and Rainbow.
Was I flattered by the rich boy? Probably,

and I did what was required;
left the rainbows to kiss
the rich boy’s lips, damp and cold,
as if he had kissed the water.

This is what fairytales are made of.
But months before all that,
standing two on a chair
in a Victorian dormer, trying
to see all of Wharfedale

I had whispered
to my beautiful best friend
that I was ridiculously ordinary
and the moors above the town had blurred
as she kissed me.

I clung to her on the wobbling chair
and she laughed, warm as sunshine.

Cara L McKee is from Ilkley, West Yorkshire, but now lives in Scotland and works in her
local library. Cara’s poetry has been published in places including Reach Poetry, The Bitchin' Kitsch, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Speculative Book 2019, 404 Ink, and Picaroon Poetry.

Alison Jones


Once, I was black earth,
made of spores and secrets.
I lived by mother silver birch,
and dreamed to be made
of leaves and bark.
Once, I was a tall tree,
worshipping the sun,
branches brimming joy.

Later I was the shock of blue
in a magpie’s tail, body
chattering with stories.
Later, I knew the footsteps
that follow birdsong,
then creep back to the fireside,
in a choreography of feather trails.

Next, I knew the hearth,
the weight of an eiderdown,
the pearled embers hunkering in.
Everything returns to dust.

I cannot leave, shake off
this shapeshifting particle cloud.
Sooner of later, I will return,
in delicate as a minnow,
in the white stream, threading
through slick rocks,
finding my way.


Alison Jones is a teacher, and writer with work published in a variety of places, from Poetry Ireland Review, Proletarian Poetry and The Interpreter’s House, to The Green Parent Magazine and The Guardian. She has a particular interest in the role of nature in literature and is a champion of contemporary poetry in the secondary school classroom. Her pamphlet, ‘Heartwood’ was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018, with a second pamphlet. ‘Omega’ forthcoming in 2019.

Bruach Mhor

George Now

Older, only slightly wiser, less clever.
Lets the duller plants go to seed.
Knows his corvids, knows his orchid names,
some important technicalities.
Nods to fellow villagers, moves on.

No church: the buzzard hill is a chapel
to this strictly-two-pint man.
Friendship has a small crew: all matter.
Hates talk shows. Reads about pods of whales,
falls asleep to downloads of their calls.


Bruach Mhor lives by a loch in the Hebrides. He is transitioning into a seal.
His poems have most recently appeared in The Lake, Plumwood Mountain, Emerald (Monstrous Regiment Publishing, Edinburgh).


Pauline Rowe

Late strings

hear –
of Beethoven’s late string quartet,
no 12 — encounter you once more in the
smokey sunlight, your tender hands moving
along my shoulder, more artist than
musician, that early Autumn moment in
a narrow bed, in your college-
room, composed. You
held in the notes
of this recording
the beginning –
all crackles then
sweet strings.
matter much less as
we get older, as colours
lift themselves into the shallow
shadows of our minds. I imagine you
as you became, not that glamorous young boy
smiling – with the world calling, but a sadder, shyer
man. Love sealed and promised. Your joy disguised
by fatherly concerns, curiosity channelled into honest
pursuits, the making of small comforts, the work that
builds a home, muscle, momentum, feeling the cool
applause of winter rain on your face as you cycled for
hours alone, your mind on music-making and death,
bones, labour, heart, sweat, excellence in your good
children, pain, conversations with experts, some
quick forgetting of old long-lost abandoned
eccentricities, distant rituals of family,
odd friends gone, how you had to
improve, keep on and prove
worth, prove
Beethoven, guiding light
for sorrow, for older reflection, for suffering, for suffering remembered and hidden in anxious age. In
stark black and white I drown in music, hold sound to my skin, rejoice that I knew you. Remember.


Pauline Rowe has  a doctorate in Creative Writing from the University of Liverpool.  She has two collections as well as being published in magazines and anthologies including Coast to Coast to Coast, Morphrog, The Reader, Smoke, The Rialto , Envoi, Orbis etc.,She is working on her third collection and a book about American poet, Frank Bidart.

Geraldine O’Kane


‘Why don’t you like me?’
were the first words that wobbled
from your wide mouth with thinned lips.
Backed up by what I imagined at the time
were wanton tears. I have come to think of them
as a manufactured leaking of the eyes.
That first encounter was a small grief,
shocking but contained.

Coffee requests came in quick abundance
enough to spike my anxiety to kick-in levels
stalling any one-to-one cravings, you harboured.

Monitoring of my social media
ended in some ‘Tom and Jerry’ mayhem
with you demanding exactly which one
of the many events I clicked yes to
might I actually attend, you were exhausted
trying to work me out, was I threading you along?

Instead you arrived at my event,
down turned eyes and shy smiles
offering soft laments to your miscarried babies.
The following time you read some easy just for laughs poems.
Culminating in a series of sexualised ditties
recited with your eyes directly on me.

Next no reading at all but gifts
a candle, a poem, and a scarf,
knitted after a coffee shop epiphany –
to revive a six-year-old project
a way of recognising strong women
in your life. Was I in your life?

Finally, the ransom, a demand to meet!
“This fooling around has gone on long enough.”
No white flag detected; you retreat –
‘blundering counsellors should not
have encouraged you to pursue people.’

When your excuse didn’t smudge the edges
of my clipped reply, an attack –
your dogged pursuit an act of Christian charity,
someone must bring the loners into the light.

My first attempt at erasure:
outing you on social media
like a find the lady trick
poof you disappeared from view.

Two years on, it’s DVD night;
I choose ‘Enduring Love’ presumed a love story.
Saw nothing wrong when one man turned up
at the other man’s door after the briefest of encounters.
Then to his office, his usual café,
even his beloved book shop provided no sanctuary.
Uninvited, unannounced with wonton tears.
Suddenly the shadow of your words imbibes
the heat from my bones, I feel the weight of you
in my chest, expulsion had been too easy.


Geraldine O’Kane is a poet and mental health advocate. Her work has been published widely, recently Arlen House, Eyewear, FourXFour, Flare Magazine, and shortlisted for the Glebe House and Melita Hume poetry prizes. She edits of Panning for Poems. Her first collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in June 2020.