Two Poems

J.V. Sumpter

So Close, So Close

I’m almost asleep –
my head, pillowed on your knees –
please do not get up.

I’ll Love That Teddy Even If Cerberus Bites Him

If I have to go
to the underworld tonight,
can I bring my bear?

J.V. Sumpter (BFA from University of Evansville) is an assistant editor for Kelsay Books, Thera Books, and freelance clients. She has work in (or forthcoming in) New Welsh Review, Leading Edge Magazine, The Amethyst Review, Not Deer Magazine, Wretched Creations, Flyover Country Magazine, Southchild Lit, Selcouth Station, and The Augment Review. Visit her Twitter (@JVSReads).


Rachel Bruce

Ancient stencils in pink and silver
dust the walls, faded from the sun.
The old shed smells of sawdust.

An image floods the empty space –
stamping these walls with my mother.
Her face, now lost, springs from mine.
At once a fairy castle and a tired hut,
I am a grown child in the presence of the memory.
My feet had almost forgotten the way.

I survey it all one last time.
Tomorrow the shed will be taken and burned.
Ashes to ashes,
dust to pink and silver stencils.

Rachel Bruce is a poet from Hitchin (UK). Her work has appeared in The Telegraph, Second Chance Lit, Eye Flash Poetry, Eponym Magazine, The Daily Drunk Mag and The Hysteria Collective.

Summer Night City

JP Seabright

Night, a sky pinpricked with stars,
like embers, burning still in the electric
orange of the city lights.

The warm joy of jasmine
embraces the garden.
Petals are curled, ready for sleep.

All is still, but for the distant hum of the cars,
the clock on the stairs
and the coughing fox.

JP Seabright is a queer writer living in London. Their work can be found in Babel Tower Notice BoardFugitives & FuturistsFull HouseUntitled Voices and elsewhere. Occasionally they can be found hanging out on Twitter (@errormessage) and blogging about music.

Island Fog

Rachel Newcombe

Rachel Newcombe is a psychoanalyst, teacher and supervisor on Orcas Island, WA. Her writing has appeared in Contemprary Psychoanalysis, The Psychoanalytic Reviewed, The Rumpus, Ellipse Zine, 7x7LA and elsewhere.

On an Old Photograph

Sreekanth Kopuri

A time frame hangs me
between the known and the unknown
beyond the glass
stilled by words
a grey souvenir bigger than the earth,
sometimes it is a train’s window pane,
images pass the eye
blinded by time.

We are like the lines of holes
on a flute’s dark wooden face.

Sreekanth Kopuri is an Indian English poet from Machilipatnam – a colony – India. He was an alumni Writer in Residence at Strange Days Books Greece. He recited his poetry and presented his research papers in many countries. His poems and research articles were widely published. His book Poems of the Void was the finalist for the EYELANDS BOOKS AWARD. Kopuri is presently an independent research scholar in Contemporary Poetry, silence, and Holocaust poetry. He lives in his hometown Machilipatnam with his mother teaching and writing.

On the Goats that Invaded a Welsh Town during the First Coronavirus Lockdown

Carl Farrell

The goats are coming down from the hills
In from the dense thickets,
From the cold sharp streams
And the rocky peaks and pastures
That for so long have been their shrinking domain
To overrun now the ring roads and the roundabouts
To occupy suburban back gardens
And vandalise the striplings newly planted
Round perimeters of pupil-free primary schools.
Yes, the goats are coming down from the hills
Down to reclaim their lost low territories
And looking on from a vantage place on the hillside
Are the twins Pablo and Pan laughing approval
The former furiously sketching the chewed transgressions
While the latter pipes a wild celebratory jazz.

Carl Farrell compulsively writes short poems and occasionally short fiction. He likes to read widely in several languages, but is increasingly drawn to the lyrical and life-affirming, albeit with elements of grit. He grew up in Nottingham, where he now lives, but spent most of his twenties in Greece. 


Charlotte Reynolds

I pull shrapnel out of your daughter
inch by inch
in little stories, told
in no particular order.

Some slip out as easy as pennies;
the ghost on the cycle track,
the ring with no hallmark,
but others catch on flesh.

Still, I marvel at every new piece,
every scattered shard
extracted, rinsed
and glued back together.

And if I stand here,
in just the right place,
I can almost make you out,
a smile in the cracks.

Charlotte Reynolds is a data hoarder, cat lover and death enthusiast (read: amateur genealogist). She lives in London with her boyfriend who is tragically allergic to cats. Find her on Instagram (@violetvicinity).

Thin Dust

Alva Holland

Alter, lengthen hem, shorten cuff, pinch waist. 

Transform, go unrecognisable, invisible. 

Convert, assume another shape, another identity. 

Change, that dreaded thing, that welcome thing. 

Hide fat bones with long sleeves, collars. 

Ignore the weakened teeth, the concave stomach. 

Still see the fat bones, unhidden by sweaters, loose hanging things. 

Absorb the stares, mistake them for admiration. 

Avoid the mirrors, their lies, their misrepresentation. 

Be missing at mealtimes – get better at this. 

Put up defences – walls of fat bones. 

Keep the love out, barricade it.  

Do not weaken resolve. 

Do not cry. 

Change, that dreaded thing. 

Fat bones to thin dust.

Alva Holland is an Irish writer from Dublin. First published by Ireland’s Own Winning Writers Annual 2015 and three times a winner of Ad Hoc Fiction’s flash competition, her stories feature in The People’s Friend, Ellipsis Zine, Train Lit Mag, Brilliant Flash Fiction, The Cabinet of Heed and Jellyfish Review. Find her on Twitter (@Alva1206).

Flower Moon

Emily Cooke

Back to the night garden after
yet another relapse
Onto the waning phase

Sunk to stone again,
Waiting for the never-ending
to end. But then

a simple message sent
I’m celebrating the moon
tonight, are you?

I sat outside
Dragged my hand across the page,
Inhaled the sky

I sat a while
Glad to see that one of us at least
was full

Emily Cooke is a Boltonian poet who has spent most of the last year in bed. Luckily this left plenty of time for writing and she has just started to send her work out into the wider world.

Cleveland National Forest Field Trip

Sage Tyrtle

I’m crouching on the forest floor studying a rock while Rachel tells the other kids that my nose is too big and my mouth is too big and my waist is too big, or I’m pretending to study a rock, really I’m looking at the rock and wishing I was the kind of person who picks up a rock and smashes it into a tiny, exactly the right size nose, someone who bloodies blonde hair, but I’m the kind of person who looks at a rock really hard, so hard that when Mr. Kieler calls for the class to gather at the redwood grove I miss it, and when I look up the whole class is gone and I walk from the rock the way I think they went but no one’s there so I go back to the rock again and again until there’s a starburst of footprints in the dirt starting from the rock and that’s when I hear, far away, too far away, the sound of the school bus, and I already ate my granola bar and I don’t have any water and on the bus they’re all singing On Top Of Spaghetti, on the bus there’s an empty seat in the back but I always sit there by myself, so there’s no one to see that I’m gone, no one to say, turn this bus around.

Sage Tyrtle‘s stories have been featured on NPR, CBC, and PBS. She is a Moth GrandSLAM winner. When she was five she wanted to be a princess until her dad explained that princesses live in a dystopian patriarchy, so she switched to being a writer instead. Find her on Twitter (@sagetyrtle).