Outside broadcast

Matt Gilbert

Once, when fleeing from myself, I was arrested by a magpie,
as it dragged some almost dead thing, towards a cherry laurel hell

Stood there rapt, attentive, in a park, rising over Brockley,
gripped beneath the trees, by a routine, nature thriller

The conclusion of another creature, must-see box-set in a bush,
against which, my troubles paled, changing channels, I went home.

Matt Gilbert is a freelance copywriter, who also blogs about place, books and other distractions. Originally from Bristol, he currently gets his fill of urban hills in south east London. Twitter (@richlyevocative).

Two Poems

Ben Keatinge

The Airport Road

With the treatment over
I drove in a tunnel
towards the airport road –
the terrible frailty of parting.

A distant terminal
another road to town
I grip my phone –
the sudden jolt from home.


Back home now in Ireland
my past’s a future which has disappeared
meandering   fleeing   lost
I search the road near Štip looking for Manastir.

Ben Keatinge is a Visiting Research Fellow at the School of English, Trinity College Dublin. He is editor of Making Integral: Critical Essays on Richard Murphy (2019) and his poems have been published, most recently, in The Dalhousie ReviewReading Ireland and anthologised in Local Wonders: Poems of Our Immediate Surrounds.

Garden Life

Pauline Rowe

Wood pigeons swoop
from the sycamores,

parade along the fence
in rainbow vestments

like two fat clerics
in conspiracy.

We are in ordinary time.

The priest-birds take control
through yokey beaks,

repeat in unison – Who? Who?
Who?  Who?

Their question stops the sparrows chatter
as they simmer in the vibrant grass

then pop into the air like summer bubbles.

Pauline Rowe was Poet-in-Residence with Open Eye Gallery (2016 – 2019). Her recent pamphlet The Weight of Snow (Maytree Press, 2021) won the 2021 Saboteur Award for best poetry pamphlet. She has an MA in Creative Arts and a PhD from Liverpool University. She was recipient of a 2021 MaxLiteracy award for a project working with Open Eye Gallery and Wirral Hospitals’ School. 


JP Lor

They drift by, as I lie in the middle of the road, stiffly twitching, insides outside, muzzle crushed but an eye staring at the sky. 

These beings, idly fast, following each other, like ants but untouching, seemed harmless. The sterile road too. So I tore through the barbed wires and chased the bullheaded sun as it buried itself behind the mountain. 

The wind played with me, for the first time, picking up my hind legs high into the air. Gently nudged and kissed my nose. Wrapped its arms around me until my eyes and cheeks were wet, until I couldn’t breathe. 

I was free.

Now, blood spills further away from me, swelling hazy dark clouds.  

Was I supposed to ignore the rousing pull and pinch of life, ensnaring me into wanting more? Were the dead grassy hills and the cages all? Were my frail bones and muscles supposed to grow bigger, beautifully slow under a smooth gleaming coat, just so the whistling stompers on horses with ropes could gaze in wonder?  

A burning screech.  

A swerve. 

Down the hill, an unflinching roar. Faster and faster it comes. Will it put me back together? A gurgling cry escapes from what’s left of my throat. My legs move. Rumbling red gravel jolts my heart and I

JP Lor has stories in The Dillydoun Review, CC&D Magazine and Versification


Steph Amir

discs of music once were
the shiny future now
sit under coffee mugs
and scare away the crows
nearing the vegetable patch
eyes glinting like scratched

Steph Amir has a background in research and is currently a Writers Victoria Writeability Fellow, a fellowship for writers with disabilities. Her creative work has been published online and in print internationally, most recently in Burrow, Ergi Press, Ghost Girls, n-Scribe, Phantom Kangaroo and Snowflake Magazine. She lives in Melbourne, Australia. 

The Piano Tuner

Kris Spencer

Tapping keys,
turning pins for temperament.
Alone and alone. 

The mutes placed to shape silence and set 
a single string to sound, and then against 
another. Wires squeezed and stretched to find 

harmony in difference. No sooner fixed
the strings shift again in air and time, 
and the music played.

Kris Spencer lives in London and has written seven books. Kris is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and works as a Head Teacher. His poems are published internationally. A focus in his work is sense of place.


Elizabeth Guilt

Melissa smoothed her silk dress, checked her hair, and rubbed sanitising gel on her hands. Her husband handed her the little plastic device, and she smiled as she pressed firmly on the clicker.

The needle shot round into her thumb, stinging more sharply than expected.


He took her hand and, pressing gently, guided it so the swelling drop of blood fell into the square well on top of the box.

His arm around her shoulders, they hurried away and waited.

Silence fell. Everyone waited.

Melissa sipped at her lemon soda. It shouldn’t take this long. It hadn’t taken this long when she’d held Aimee’s hand three years ago.

“Did you do it?”

“Yes, Mum!” Melissa snapped, more harshly than she intended.

It had only seemed a few moments before Aimee’s silver rocket had zoomed into the sky. Had Aimee felt the time dragging like this, before the explosion of super-cute pink bears?

She turned to her husband. “Do you think it’s…”

A fizzing crackle interrupted her question, and he squeezed her shoulder.

The rocket didn’t fly directly up as expected. It spiralled, executing wild loops until it hung, spitting sparks, over the summerhouse.

Melissa held her breath.

Showers of green and orange stars rained down in torrents. A purple train flew out to one side, and a noise like the blare of trumpets shone over the uneasy group staring at the sky.

“Mummy, you said it would be…”

Aimee shushed her daughter.

“Melissa, are you sure you did it right?”

“Yes, Mum!”

“But it shouldn’t be all those different colours!”

“It must be a manufacturing error” said her husband, his arms protectively around her.

Everyone looked from Melissa to the box to the space in the sky above. Memories of the vibrant stars shimmered behind their bewildered eyes.

A week later, when she’d had a proper test at the hospital, Melissa had cards made. Beautiful, darling little cards that unfurled into blue vintage racing cars. She sent them to the party guests who’d travelled so far but gone home awkward and confused.

Melissa brought Benjamin Albert home from the hospital, wrapped in a sky-blue blanket, and settled the baby in the nursery they’d painted ready.

It was years. Sixteen years of toys and books whisked out of sight; of reluctant Saturday morning rugby practices and screaming fights over clothes; of awkward conversations with the school. And tears, so many tears, before Melissa accepted that the exploding box had been correct.

Elizabeth Guilt lives in London, UK, where history lurks alongside plate glass office buildings and stories spring out of the street names. She has had fiction published in Luna Station Quarterly, Electric Spec and The Colored Lens. You can find her online or on Twitter (@elizabethguilt).

My Heart After Chernobyl

Louise Mather

Instead of tearing down a tree,
I unravel amnesia into shapes –

I am always finding feathers,
these old leaves were once moths

here, hold out your palms –
nobody mentions acid in the rain anymore,

its invisibility fallen into our bodies’ decay,
gift of heart, uncovered, ancient dust

unpoisoned, a dream,
we spoke about it once,

how a bird takes flight,
lilacs beneath the willow.

Louise Mather is a writer from Northern England and founding editor of Acropolis Journal. Her debut pamphlet ‘The Dredging of Rituals’ is out with Alien Buddha Press, 2021. She writes about ancestry, rituals, endometriosis, fatigue and mental health. Twitter (@lm2020uk).

Larnaca Bay, March 2021

Ilias Tsagas

Ilias Tsagas is a Greek poet writing in English and in Greek. His poems have appeared at the Sand Journal, The Shanghai Literary Review, streetcake magazine, Tint Journal, the Away With Words Anthology (Vol 4) and elsewhere. He was also a runner-up at the Briefly Write Poetry Prize 2021.

To a Mentor Never Properly Thanked

Johanna Caton

Years and years have passed. I cannot write a letter to you.
You will wonder perhaps if I have really moved on. Or worse:
you might not remember me.

I know you are alive. The web tells me so. You must have been
much younger than I thought: you seemed so accomplished, mature – 
your words always knowing; your gaze, the tilt of your head gracious,
healing – but it was your ability to name that saved me. 

These years have been extremely on-moving ones. I found 
my vocation. Again and again. I moved to a different land.
I have searched, seen, lost, loved, listened, learned, died, 
revivified.  I have made friends and enemies. I have been myself. 

Mostly. But what would I have been if I had not had you?

Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun and lives in England. She has had poems accepted by online and print publications, including Amethyst Review, The Christain Century, The Catholic Poetry Room, The Windhover and The Ekphrastic Review. She was a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee.