Weathering Words

Mandira Pattnaik, Anatomy of a Storm-Weathered Quaint Townspeople (Fahmidan Publishing, 2022)

‘Ιn eerily muddled prescient thoughts | of an eventual doom’ Mandira Pattnaik welcomes her reader to her debut poetry collection. Anatomy of a Storm-Weathered Quaint Townspeople is, in the poet’s own words, a snapshot of ‘small-town India’ and ‘the changing dynamics of my country’.

In a climate crisis, catastrophe is never far from the poetic surface. In a recent interview with Fevers of the Mind, Mandira explained how climate-focused writing was her most meaningful. The fragility and necessity of climate writing quickly asserts itself on the collection. In the opening poem, the ‘lashing undue storm’ and ‘jingling leaves barely clinging to discordant branches’ give a sense of natural systems at tipping point.

Punctuation is thrown off course too: after the storm,

we’re praying

, praying again, for

an indulgent rain.

In a turbulent landscape, however, some pre-determined roles remain. ‘I scoop the soil in our backyard | as wives are expected to do’ the poet muses in ‘forever afternoon’. Yet even here, not everything is as it seems. When she plants seeds, she is ‘not dreaming of plucking fruits, | only a shade from the punishing sun’.

Motherhood is cleverly associated with climate breakdown in ‘Parturition’. The ‘three years of clinic visits | and three failed cycles’ bestow an ambiguity upon the miracle of new life. The hope of ‘a tiny fist in my palm, a heart | within ours’ is born of a broken cycle: as one reality ends so another begins.

Such interactions between different times and places are where Mandira is at her most perceptive. In ‘now and beyond’, she calls ‘the history of tomorrow’ the place where we ‘hang our wobbly world’. The present is constantly moving and the reader – disoriented, disturbed, delighted – must also adapt to a poetic landscape in constant flux.

Narrative heft intermingles seamlessly with lyrical flourishes. One minute, ‘Mum was struck | off the payroll’; the next ‘The beach was a cake, freshly baked’. Dreams are ‘scattered volcanic islands on placid lakes’. The poet revels in ‘lavender sky and candy clouds’. Abstract and concrete images team up in one of the collection’s best poems, ‘A River Name’: ‘While on a walk round the garden you | tended, I discover a tapestry of your thoughts…’.

Mandira’s keen descriptive eye and vivid imagery convert the twists and turns of doubt into an enriching journey. Navigating ‘the fog of | yesterday’ and ‘the palm of tomorrow’ could be a précis of the ongoing COP27 negotiations. Her climate warning is stark – and her poems are a reminder of the beauty and richness of life on our planet.

Mandira Pattnaik, Anatomy of a Storm-Weathered Quaint Townspeople (Fahmidan Publishing, 2022). Available to pre-order here.

Someone Else’s Dream


earth losing its shine the moon so uninspired

his thoughts a pool of mist in the sunken valley

whispered wishes where there are no wells

hills no longer rolling they simmer

tides don’t just rise they sigh and swell

horsetail fall into someone else’s dream

Silk~ is a poet.

Beyond Unbinds the Dragonfly

Kristina T. Saccone

My daughters dart in the dreg, still wingless nymphs fresh from the egg. They feed from a school of tadpoles — a feast — then molt in the algae bloom. I stretch my wings to test for an escape.

Before he visited my silted lake, I knew nothing of the beyond. He beckoned in turquoise, glistening veins vibrating in the spring shade of the pond. We coupled, his wings across my abdomen like a veil at rest, whispering about clear streambeds and unsullied waters.

In tandem, we dropped our eggs into the mire. Then, in a moment, his cobalt and sapphire vanished, gone to a far-off somewhere. The ovae, an anchor, held me here. 

But now my nymphs need blood, larvae, and the worm, not a mother who yearns for other shores. So when the kayak floats by, I drift onto its prow. I tremble with the lull of the boat before the oars dip. Together, we launch into the beyond.

Kristina T. Saccone crafts flash fiction and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Six Sentences, The Bangor Literary Journal, Emerge Literary Journal, and Unearthed, and she curates Flash Roundup, featuring the latest releases in flash fiction. Find her on Twitter (@kristinasaccone) or haunting small independent bookstores in the Washington, D.C. area.

The Group

Jeff Skinner

We come back each week
strangers to ourselves

going round in circles
of what if, if only –

taking turns to cry
white tissues the flags

of surrender, of solidarity.
Someone to do nothing with, that’s what I miss.

I say something new happening
is worse: the return

of the rose, flourishing careers
assiduous love prepared the ground for

that letting yourself one spring morning
into the house you cannot share.

Jeff Skinner, longlisted in this year’s Briefly Write Poetry Prize, has been published in a number of journals with poems to come in the Fenland Poetry Journal and Poetry Salzburg in 2022. Third in the 2021 Poetry Space competition, he has also been published in several competition anthologies.

Re: Action

Alisa Golden

Plum tree
cut to the quick
swarming with termites

I regret
complaining about
sticky sidewalks

Alisa Golden writes and makes art in a one-square-mile, California city. She is editor of Star 82 Review, author of Making Handmade Books, and her stories and poems have been published in Blink-Ink, Nanoism, and Litro, among others.

Hotel Extinction

Julian Bishop

A view to die for from any of our last resorts: whether
remote island or sapphire lagoon, the outlook is
unremittingly the same. We’re frighteningly easy
to travel to, our portfolio global. Another branch
opens daily. Most guests are driven here. Many fly.
All animals welcome. We apologise for the poor air
conditioning. We guarantee a good sleep. Beware
of a sudden proliferation in insects – rest assured
we are committed to total elimination. Everything
in the Ice Breaker Tavern is on the rocks, 24/7.
We don’t do a Happy Hour. Think Hotel California:
check out any time you like but you can never leave.
Daily wake-up calls are free. Sunset at the infinity
pool is unforgettable. Every room always has flowers.

“I’m calling my forthcoming book of eco poems We Saw It All Happen because I’m staggered at how the world can let catastrophe unfold in plain sight. I fret at the edges, cutting out meat and unnecessary travel but I like to think, as a writer, that I have a more important role to play. Auden’s famous (mis)quote that poetry makes nothing happen perhaps needs to be counterbalanced with a lesser-known quote from the master:

But once in a while the odd thing happens,
Once in a while the dream comes true,
And the whole pattern of life is altered,
Once in a while the moon turns blue.

(Once In A While The Odd Thing Happens)

And that’s precisely why I write.”

Julian Bishop is a former television journalist who’s had a lifelong interest in ecology and worked for a time as Environment Reporter for BBC Wales. A former runner-up in the Ginkgo Prize for Eco Poetry, he’s also been shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize and was longlisted in this year’s National Poetry Competition. He is one of four poets featured in a 2020 pamphlet called Poems For The Planet

Project report

Angela van Son


Trees in danger of extinction


Nose swaps don’t seem to work

Counter measure

Huge field of facemasks planted


Will they mature on time?



“Sometimes I wonder if it’s the planet fighting back, trying to get rid of the current top of the food chain. How to help this greediest of species make themselves extinct? Future aquatic archaeologists may wonder about those two legged creatures who once lived above the water surface. In ancient times, when land covered the seas…”

Angela van Son lives in Utrecht, the Netherlands. She writes poems and very short stories about the strangeness of being human. She likes to put a twist on things, whether it’s dark, humorous, philosophic or playful. As a coach she helps people change their life stories by making things happen.

Venus Knott

John Aberdein

Saddened raver, Venus Knott, on a swaying street,
crawed up from her rotten gut Jägerbombs and Jäger neat.

Whereas V. Knott used to nav on a tanker bridge
fragile brashy coasts that slid iffy ice-shapes from their fridge,

then sailed by in hotter climes Mauna Loa staff
grieving over CO2 zooming up the graph

due to deepest empires having coal and oil to burn
as folk with bare a whiff of it suffered out of turn

while at crapshoot, Exxon, lax,
sank a chilly flute with Goldman Sachs,

she first sobered, then rebelled––
glued her ass to glass to show-up Shell.

“Ezra Pound said Literature is news that stays news, but sadly the last line of Venus Knott is already out-of-date. After the shocking timidity of COP26, we are going to have to think far deeper and tougher about how we must come together and act. Fossil fuel majors throughout the world will ultimately have to be taken into public ownership and control, in effect nationalised without compensation, in order to save civilisation from runaway climate chaos. Just as Rosa Luxemburg said a century ago when the world was riven by murderous imperialism, the choice we face is socialism or barbarism.”

John Aberdein is a former scallop diver, sea kayak coach and Arvon tutor who lives in Hoy, Orkney, and has a couple of novels to his name.

time and time and time again

Fadilah Ali

never have I thought a fish could dance so well in the desert. time hands everyone a blindfold, and we swear that nothing shines brighter than the void. in my country, time is as random as a black shoelace. the perfect knot today, the tangled confusion tomorrow. sometimes, my feet fly high, and other times they lead to defeat. yet, never have I heard that a fish could drink up the ocean. my blindfold suits the volume of my tresses and never have I seen better, I swear to you. my heart beats for the silky thrill of time’s laughing voice but it only revels in my coquetry and mocks me all the same. in my country, they always discuss the fainthearted. in my dreams, I dance with those faint of body and soul, the toddling but ancient spirits who hear every feeling and feel every word. but never have I dreamed a dream as foul as mine. you just know that one day, a fish out of water would live just fine. my country crosses swords with me for a gift as flawless as time and my country crosses swords with time for a soul as flawed as mine. what should I do with the idea that when we count time in seconds, we start with number one? when they write the story of my undoing, they will say it started today.

“From rising sea levels to ozone layer depletion, the danger of rapid climate change grows stronger than ever before. It is no longer enough to seek comfort in convenient unawareness. From day to day operations to government bills, we as humans can and should come together to mitigate climate change. Because, it’s coming for all of us. And when it comes, no precaution or solution will count.”

Fadilah Ali is from Edo State, Nigeria. She’s currently studying for her MSc in food microbiology. She’s an editor at The Muslim Women Times. When she’s not researching for her thesis, she’s either reading a John Green book or singing the praises of Garamond. Find her on twitter at (@partyjollofism).

Spirit of the Loch

Creana Bosac

They gather with laughter, as birds
in bright plumage: t-shirts, flip-flops, 
denim shorts, one girl in a pink
bikini top, the boys loud, brash,
lighting portable barbeques. 

And after, the land is stippled
with cans of shining sharp metal,
incongruous in swaying grass,
and a scatter of food, plastic,
a broken chair, sprouts from brown earth:

detritus of the delusion
that some attendant, some assumed,
unseen spirit of the loch will,
in discrete customer service,
reinstate the wild.

“This poem was inspired by news reports of people wild camping and lighting barbeques in the countryside and leaving litter and destruction in their wake. I wondered if such people were so detached from the natural world that they viewed it as a kind of human society service, where someone would be along shortly to clean up after them. Whilst the amenity value of nature is enjoyed and appreciated by many, we also have a responsibility to leave an area as we find it and make minimal impact on the environment.”

Creana Bosac hails from the UK, where she has worked as an Open University Associate Lecturer and now edits and writes creative writing critiques. Since joining a writing group last year, she has had a number of pieces published and has authored a guide to giving and receiving feedback.