Girl at the Beach

Valerie Nieman

She digs intently
with her pink shovel,

saying “Daddy, Daddy,

She keeps working.
Something is down there.

She doesn’t ask for
his help. Just his witness.

Valerie Nieman’s latest novel, In the Lonely Backwater, joins To the Bones and three earlier novels as well as three poetry collections, including Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse. A graduate of West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte, she is an NEA recipient, a former journalist and professor of creative writing.

It’s Too Late to be Asleep

Eamonn McKeon


        without time

is a candle

        in an airless room.

Sometimes I am fearful that I will live in that room

        and there will be no windows

        no gaps in the wall


a mirror


Eamonn McKeon is a writer from Purley, South London. He graduated from the University of Warwick with an MA in Writing in 2021, and is currently a PhD candidate. He mostly writes prose fiction, but has spent a great deal of time reading and writing poetry in the past year.

Thistles in August

CB McCall

We were
giants: punk-spiked
and purple-coiffed. We wilt,
and let our down-cradled children
take flight.

CB McCall writes short stories, long stories and bits of poetry. Sometimes she finishes them. Occasionally they even find their way into print. She lives in Nottinghamshire on the edge of Sherwood Forest, which is nowhere near as inspiring as it sounds.

Paper Dolls

Tamanda Kanjaye

My friends and I
For the entirety of our lives
Have been folded up
Into prettier shapes and smaller size

We are beautiful origami
Held in place by glue and tape
So that we dare never unravel
So that we dare never escape

Tamanda Kanajye is a 20-something-year-old Malawian writer and poet who romanticises the idea of the fragility of the human experience. She writes stories about tenderness, misery, vulnerability, self-destruction and flirts with concepts of hope, salvation and possible redemption. Find her on Twitter (@t_kanjaye).

Insect Life

Martin Heavisides

Don’t know what the insect was called
with the light brown three-sectioned body
see-through brown wings that shimmered into stillness on my arm
but when I showed it to the woman sitting nearest me
in a party of ten at the beach
she thought it was annoying me and tried to kill it.

Martin Heavisides‘ prose is legendary among a more select coterie of devotees than he’d prefer: published in FRiGG, Mad Hatter’s Review, Feast of Laughter, Sein und Werden, among journals of discerning taste. Empty Bowl was given a live staged reading at Living Theatre, New York and another play, CSI Grandma’s House has had a live reading on Zoom with Quarantine Players.

By the Potting Shed

Virginia Boudreau

Your child swing sways and wood smoke
fades in a wrinkled sky.
An owl hoots, a branch snaps.
It could be years ago again.

I look past my reflection in the window,
see crow’s feet in the snow.

Virginia Boudreau is a retired teacher from Nova Scotia, Canada. Her writing has appeared in a wide variety of international literary publications including The New York Times, Palette Poetry, Grain, Sylvia Magazine, and Westerly. She has finally completed her first poetry manuscript, twenty years later than planned.

At the Burial

Faiz Ahmad

As they haul her down
in a white cotton shroud

a few feet into the earth
upon the bamboo bed

the assembly of mourners
huddles close, listening to

the flutter of their white kurtas
outlining the shape of winds

bending unbending
the dandelion stalks.

Faiz Ahmad is a recent graduate in Biological Sciences, IIT Madras, India. His work appears or is forthcoming in Poetry Daily, Denver Quarterly, Poetry Northwest, Salamander, Carousel and others.