(a few tasters)

First Time


After the lemon bit me back

I knew I wasn’t going to like it

- until I was made of waves,

my edges slick as liver:

then I liked it,

bold as bones and goblin cackle,

all my cupboards open.

I’d imagined ice,

a maraschino cherry;

not this warm glass of spite,

all thump and blister.

It would have to do.

Published in The Moth magazine issue 48

First TimeFiona Duggan
00:00 / 00:35




I used to cup the perfect, shiny belly of my bodysuit

to gauge how soon a pregnancy would show.


A grape, a prawn, a floating sea horse could stay undetected

by adversaries; my secret smile might not.


I flew with nausea,

I kept my torso safe when there were blades or tentacles around


and left all devastation on the hour just to shoot myself

with FSH (break vial, pinch up and stab)


holding the music in my head, the love for what will come

after the combat’s done.


Each cycle, I would knock the obstetrician right out cold

between my knees: the sedative no match for Zip! Zap! Pow!,


the torturous clamp inducing my best comeback lines.

Careful to hurtle less, I spent more time in clouds


mulling infinity, the cosmos, waiting for a superheart to grow

but no sparks caught, no powers could help                                                                


and I returned to crime-fighting. The doctor said that

charity work was just the thing for someone in my situation.

Published in Popshot Quarterly magazine issue 33




We wipe our shoes and lay our coats on Nanna’s bed Get off that bed

the tang of alcohol, some ham and bread buttered on Secret Shelf that folds down and folds up and down again and up Leave that alone the cat with golden claws Don’t touch the ornaments the dog with silky hair You know he doesn’t concrete yard with musty apple trees, a shed of comics (in American), some rough-skinned fruit Don’t eat those What’s a Tootsie Roll? Just wash your hands stretch fingers round the brick of soap, quickly, before kidnappers can reach the outside toilet Save them sweets for later and I will so I cannot be told to share.

Published in The Cannon's Mouth magazine issue 69

SundaysRobin Ince
00:00 / 00:43


I Dreamt That Lemn Sissay Was My Estate Agent


He came in clouds

and the grey skies broke

across his smile.

He came without paper or pen,

preferring to memorise all that he felt,

the melting of rooms into words

and the words into worlds

where the reader might live.

He pulled in the corners,

he let all the skirting boards speak,

asserting the power of edges,

the joy of collision,

and made the decision

that photographs paint an elision

while speech gives the reader

the paintbrush to tell their own tale.

He needed no measure.

Pacing the spaces,

the span of the garden,

was his speciality -

most of the rooms were

two Lemns and a half -

he swapped them;

unlocked every shape

so the floorplan coul­­d flex

and the angles became

Mother Hubbardly,

no longer stubbornly regular.

He showed me a secret.   

Even a windowless bathroom

can offer love:

switch on the light, feel its radiance

warm you as if for the very first time

and the people will open their

mouths in an ‘o’,

and the people will know

they are home.

Published in The Moth magazine issue 43


My Dog Pieshop


My dog Pieshop will eat just anything -

paper, poo and tarmac, plastic shopping bags and string,


pebbles from the garden, crispy crisp bags from the park,

chunks of polystyrene, thorny flowers, leaves and bark.


One time, when these finds were being fished out by the vet,

a dapper little man fell out, his suit all wringing wet.


My name is Bond, James Bond he said, Your dog has saved the day,

then Pieshop coughed a diamond up and James Bond squelched away.

Published in The Caterpillar children's poetry magazine issue 27

My Dog PIeshopRob Rouse
00:00 / 00:40


The Crocus


thrusts through the blackened soil at dawn,

eager to know the early light that warms the slenderer


to bud, to swell, becoming blousy, opening that tender

throat to passing feet and claws, in trust, in triumph,


such an easy bloom, bright satin trashed within a month

and left to blanch, unpurpling on the lawn.

Published in The Dawntreader magazine issue 46

The CrocusPaul Robb
00:00 / 00:28


The Woman With The Giant Hands


I first saw her on a train, gazing at winter dusk

while everyone around just looked at

her or peered into the windows where reflections

told the same, extraordinary truth. If there had

been a child we might have grimaced as it

sorted through its reference points and finding

none that matched, began to form a question.

If there’d been a dog, it might have settled by

her side to beg a blanketing of warm dry flesh

but there was not, and we were all for throwing 

her right off the speeding train despite not having

spoken to each other, as we watched the gentleness

with which she placed her fingers in a steeple,

frowning as the light outside grew dimmer than within.

Published in Magma magazine issue 68

The Woman With The Giant HandsToby Whithouse
00:00 / 00:56


Love Is


Love is a squirrel                                                                     

burying some crap or other

in a place it will forget.


Stuff grows there anyway,                                                          

sprouting and fruiting 

while Love digs again,


finds other hoards

of other Loves

and tucks them in its cheek.

Love IsMarcus Brigstocke
00:00 / 00:19


The Tastebuds


Peanut Butter pitches low,

bing-bong, the bass

goes bouncing round

my mouth.


Lemon hits a high note:

screeching teeth,

no melody,

and then comes


Chocolate. Humming,

strumming (‘til it makes my jaw

cry right into

my cheeks).


Burnt Toast has no tune at all

yet reaches to the roof,

a gobsmack

of a song.

Published in The Caterpillar children's poetry magazine issue 36

The TastebudsAndré Vincent
00:00 / 00:27


Pond Tale


Four green goslings

scatter on the pond

for a fist of frogs, no

not frogs, feast,

for a fist of feast

or crumbs at least.

Gull scuds in

wet wing, feet first,

gabbles Little Goose

that he cunningly


Grass tree, feed me,

sunny or a salty,

muddening the pie

in a cool flat sky

but the goslings eat

and look him in the eye.

Cloud song breaks

on the water’s face,

and the damselflies

flash by.

Published in The Dawntreader magazine issue 46

Pond TaleJoe Allen
00:00 / 00:39


Margate Sands


The sea says Schhhh

and the gulls say Awkhhh

but the seaweed sulks and stinks.


I cannot see the sea that the seagulls see

when their dinner is a real live fish.

The sea I see is the one they see

when the scraps from someone’s chip shop tea

are pulled from a bin and scattered on the quay

where big birds vie

for the fried fish bits and the half-drunk drinks

and a splodged-up pie.


The sea says Schhhh

and the gulls say Awkhhh

but the seaweed sulks and stinks.


I cannot see the wind that the seagulls ride

when they hang with a wing-wide hunch.

The wind I see is chewed by waves

and is runaway from by the sand in the bay

and the paper serviettes that were left from lunch

to flock along the beach

and the sea-splashed pier where the people shout

More fish! More beer!


The sea says Schhhh

and the gulls say Awkhhh

but the seaweed sulks and stinks.

Published in The Caterpillar children's poetry magazine issue 20

Margate SandsAndré Vincent
00:00 / 01:05


Care Home


We serve modern food.

The step-a-slope will turn into a slope but we don’t have the time for that right now.

You are welcome to bring in a very very small beloved piece of furniture.

A call button in every room (except the toilet in the hall, the laundry cupboard

and of course, the garden shed) means care is right at hand.

No pets and no dementia. No toenails can be cut by staff.

The downstairs lounge is where we have our fun activities.

Sadly, we do not take residents who cannot make it from their own room

to the downstairs lounge.

No towels or sheets are issued but most people have a relative to bring some in.

Let us know about a stiff tap. Or a light bulb should it die at night.

Hairdressing is twice a week! This is extra and there is a waiting list.

Published in The Moth magazine issue 37

Care HomeJustin Moorhouse
00:00 / 00:50