My Daughter Asks Me If I Was Happy

Sherre Vernon

Hinge of the fridge, fingernail. Trace
sand & a dancing dress. Hair up. Last
dance—burgundy crushed on velvet,
smiling. First dance—white at the mid-
night thighs, borrowed fit. My mouth
a row—clavicles bare, pins. Cat back
in. Thumbs tack in. Pebbles tracked
in. & grandmother curls—blue, black, silver.

Sherre Vernon (she/her/hers) is the author of two award-winning chapbooks: Green Ink Wings and The Name is Perilous. Sherre has been published in journals such as TAB and The Chestnut Review, nominated for Best of the Net, and anthologized in several collections including Fat & Queer and Best Small Fictions. Flame Nebula, Bright Nova, her full-length poetry collection, is available at Main Street Rag.


Laura Theis

this sprouting acorn is a little ragamuffin
who’s never been to nursery

she’s never met her mother
she raised herself in bitter rain-soaked earth

but one day she’ll grow up to be
an illustrious oak of renown

she will show them all
she will outgrow them all

Laura Theis‘ work is widely anthologised and appears in Poetry, Mslexia, Rattle, Aesthetica, etc. Her Elgin-Award-nominated debut ‘how to extricate yourself’, an Oxford Poetry Library Book-of-the-Month, won the Brian Dempsey Memorial Prize. A current Women Poets’ Prize finalist, she received the AM Heath Prize, Oxford Brookes Poetry Prize, Mogford Prize, Hammond House International Literary Award, and a 2022 Forward Prize nomination.

We, too, in summer sun


Broken branches and tangled leaves strewn over the river
swirl at each eddy:
scattered passengers borne on shimmering water
In another time they might have been one tree
holding tight to one another –
but the storm is over and they can rest,
drifting slowly apart at the pull of the current.

We, too, could float downstream,
warming our faces in summer sun.

Tehnuka was shortlisted in the Briefly Write Poetry Prize 2022.

My Father Taught Me To Touch Fire

Suchita Senthil Kumar

My father taught me to touch fire
when I was younger as though
he knew I’d spend my whole life 
seeking something that would burn me.

He never taught me to heal
the charred and dead skin but always
reminded me to put the flame off –
the art of killing something that killed you.

Suchita Senthil Kumar is a writer creating chaos from Bangalore, India. Her work has been published in Live Wire India and Brave Voices Magazine, among others. She was a student of UNICEF’s Voices of Youth Mediathon ’21. She makes life decisions asking herself one question: Will Sirius Black be proud?

The Lost Girls

Halle George

at twelve
they tell Peter
fly forever
take what you want boy

at twelve
they tell Wendy
be prepared to fall from the sky
you’re too old
take off your blue nightgown

Halle George is a writer who spends most of the day working in advertising. She’s previously been published in Midsummer’s Eve. She lives in Los Angeles with a ficus named Jim.

I, Having Been Bitten by an Angel


I, having been bitten by an angel –
I am going through a lostness.

I am hoping to be done with it
before the mould on the window returns.

I am refusing everything. I am waiting for the room

to flood with trumpets. I am waiting for my hair
to grow and be grabbed by a man come to save me.

Fistfuls of nobody, parched and sweaty in the dark.

Beattie is a writer and lapsed drag queen from Merseyside. They were the winner of the Chester Cathedral Young Poets’ Competition and were longlisted for the Spelt Poetry Competition. Their work has appeared in Datableed and Travesties?!.

Wattle & Daub

Al McClimens

Throw enough mud, they said,
and some of it will stick to the wall.

The wall? Why didn’t I think of that?
I’ve been throwing mud at nothing

in particular. And now they tell me,
now, when I have filthy hands

and a clean wall. My apologies.
Mind your fingers turning the page.

Al McClimens is a Sheffield-based writer who is old enough to know better. An unemployed waster, Scrabble fan and lapsed socialist, he reads a novel a week and writes a poem a day. His literary ambition is to replace Don ‘Dundee’ Paterson as UK sonnet king.


Ellen Clayton

It’s 35 degrees, a burning July day
and the metallic, coppery stench is overpowering
as I stand in the shower, pressing the ball of my foot
onto black fabric and watching my blood seep
out, washing away. Another month, cycle, shedding.
It is a kind of cleanse, a small sense
of renewal as I keep pushing
my toes to watch more blood
drain away, drain away, drain away.

Ellen Clayton is a poet from Suffolk, England. Her poetry has been published in various online and print publications, including Capsule Stories, Nightingale & Sparrow and Brave Voices magazine. Her debut chapbook, Home Baked, was published in April 2022 by Bent Key Publishing. More of her work can be found on Instagram (@ellen_writes_poems).

Crow Boy

Galia Admoni

He would like me better
if I wrote about trees
or lamented on leaves
or mused on moss.

When you grow up
in a city
you don’t have the language
to show fervour for forests.

I like a crunchy leaf as much as the next person.
But that’s not enough.

Galia Admoni is Head of English at a school in London. She has poems in Bad Lilies, Anthropocene, Atrium, Streetcake and others. She is forthcoming in both Under your Pillow and Sex Tape Digest anthologies. She has lectured at Shakespeare Institute, BFI, British Library and is committee member for the London Association-Teaching of English. Her debut pamphlet will be published in 2024. Follow her on Twitter (@galiamelon).


Jennie E. Owen

I can’t stop looking at the naked
shape of his head. Ghosts
of curls collect in his
collar. For a moment I think I can see
the outline of the man he will become,
in the twist of his mouth as he concentrates
on the scissors snick of his reflection.
I hold my breath, all the time
trying not to grab handfuls of cuttings,
to fill my pockets with blond.

Jennie E. Owen’s writing has been widely published online, in literary journals and anthologies. She teaches Creative Writing for The Open University and lives in Lancashire with her husband and three children. She is a PhD student at Manchester Metropolitan University, focusing on poetry and place.