Letter from the Editor

Well, Happy New Year to all our contributors and readers. A new year is always a good time to reflect on how things are going and the unfortunate truth is that this place is not quite the vibrant hub that it almost was in the early days back in the first half of last year. The submissions have slowed to a trickle and the numbers of views of each poem posted have also dropped significantly.

If I were more of an editor by temperament, I might be tempted to saddle up and mount a big campaign that would drum up support (and maybe mix a few more metaphors into the bargain). However, one of the many valuable things I’ve learnt over the last nine months is that I’m not really an editor by temperament. At least, not of a poetry magazine. Also, if the truth were told, I have other projects for 2017 that are demanding my attention, and I need to focus.

So as of today:

  1. Submissions to SCOMA are closed.
  2. Submissions that have already been accepted will be published as promised, unless you would rather they weren’t – in which case please do get in touch.
  3. Unprocessed outstanding submissions will be processed as if nothing had happened, although – again – I will quite understand if you’d prefer to withdraw your work from submission.
  4. This site will remain as a monument to your excellent collective creative endeavours for the foreseeable future.

Apologies for the abruptness of this message. If there is anyone out there would who like to take up the reins as editor, please do let me know, as I really would like this thing we’ve all created to carry on in some form or another. The world needs humour more than ever.

All the best,



A Spin Through Time by Judy Darley

Uncle Webster gave me the formula
for the time machine, where x = the growl
of a strawberry-eating bear, and y, the dust
found in pockets of winter coats that
have been under the bed all summer.

I built the base from an old crate
painted scarlet, with bicycle wheels fitted
for extra velocity. It’s a blustery day,
leaves blowing every which way,
when I persuade the bear to crouch in the bow
and utter his sky-juddering growl.

A scatter of dust and we’re off,
blizzarding between eons
like a double pennant gale warning.

My aim? To visit Hadrian’s Wall at its beginning;
I have an essay due on Monday about the Roman Empire.
But spelling was never my strongest subject.
A typo sends us spiralling to the Hadean era
– more than a billion years prior
to the first multi-cellular life on Earth.

I hold my breath; the bear lets loose a howl.
Past travesties and calamities we spin,
to the end of all things and back again.

Homework forgotten, one goal remains.
We pause briefly in the 21st century,
collecting two new passengers,
Theresa and Donald.
They huddle on the bear’s warm lap,
eyes and lips streaming with fright.

Backside to the Hadean era we soar,
and on to the Devonian at the very moment
when the first clammy amphibians appear.
And there we leave them to evolve, or expire,
hoping for a brighter future for us all.

Judy Darley writes fiction, poetry and journalism. Her words have been published in literary magazines and anthologies. She’s read her short fiction on BBC radio, in cafés, caves, an artist’s studio and a disused church. Judy blogs about art and other things here.



Party Buffet by Julia D McGuinness

Regimented in rows on black plastic trays:
Chiselled slopes of Mother’s Pride,
seamed with slivers of skin-tone ham;
escaping screes of grated cheese;
flotsam of tomato pips.
A lurking crisp skirts a wilt of lettuce.

Sausage rolls heaped in cairns;
hump-backed celery stooped in tumblers.
Acne of broccoli speckles a wan-faced quiche
eye-balled by a mound of Scotch eggs.
Coronation chicken: a meat-pebble
swirl in a nicotine-stain of lava.

Batons of carrot, cucumber are stacked
for a drag in pots of off-white pulp.
Flaking filo parcels squeeze oozes
of tawny sludge: the Vegetarian Option.
Tucked sly in a mattress of baps,
grey-yellow egg-yolk waits to coat teeth.

For these, we have queued.

Julia D McGuinness is a writer, counsellor and writing for wellbeing practitioner based near Chester. She has written 4 non-fiction books and her poetry has been published online. Her first poetry collection, Chester City Walls, was published last year by Poetry Space.


Apprentice Villanelle by Jean Taylor

I’m going to fold the paper one more time,
If it’s not right it can’t be put away,
And then I can get started on my rhyme.

I find this poetry’s a ball of slime,
A tortured wasting of my precious day.
I’m going to fold the paper one more time.

I’ll fold it neatly so the creases chime
And make a pattern that is sure to stay
And then I can get started on my rhyme.

Wanting to write is surely not a crime,
I only need a poem not a play.
I’m going to fold the paper one more time.

Perhaps that way I’ll change the paradigm.
The paper will be perfect in its way
And then I can get started on my rhyme.

Parnassus is a tricky hill to climb
I don’t get far and then I go astray.
I’m going to fold the paper one last time
And then I can get started on my rhyme.

Jean Taylor belongs to Words on Canvas – a group of ekphrastic writers who work in collaboration with the National Galleries of Scotland. Her poetry has been published in a range of publications including Orbis, Northwords Now, Freak Circus and Poetry Scotland.


Doctor Smith by Tom McColl

The surgery I go to
has a two-headed doctor.
‘Doctor Smith will see you, see you, now.’

It gets very confusing.
Doctor Smith, via his left head,
gives me a diagnosis
then, via his right head,
gives me a second opinion,
which always differs from the first
(and, as it happens,
that opinion’s
never the best one –
always the worst).

When Doctor Smith examines me with a stethoscope,
it’s in the left head’s left ear
and the right head’s right ear.
In other words, he makes a right pig’s ear
(and also a left pig’s ear)
of any examination he does.
However, when I once challenged him about it,
Doctor Smith’s left head
just said,
‘Can you breathe in a bit more deeply, please?’
while his right head shook morosely.

Apparently, his wife has got two heads as well,
and two pairs of breasts.
It’s said they met as impoverished but physically normal students,
earning money by undergoing laboratory tests.

Two heads are better than one, they say,
but I’m not too sure that comes into play
while attending an appointment with
the always-in-two-minds Doctor Smith.

Thomas McColl has had poems published in magazines such as Envoi, Rising, Iota and Ink, Sweat and Tears, and his first full collection of poetry, Being With Me Will Help You Learn, is out now from Listen Softly London Press.



Interview by Tara Lynn Hawk

You look right for the part, but we have concerns.
Just what, if anything, have you been doing with your life?
Are you taking any psycho-tropic meds?
Are you a “team player”?
Can you skate backwards?
Will you make coffee runs?
How do you feel about quinoa?
Are you a Marxist?
Do you feel there ever was a clear blueprint for the dictatorship of the proletariat?
But most important,
will you take the rap for the rest of us?

Tara Lynn Hawk is a San Fransisco area born artist, poet, historian, poet and general bon vivant who splits her time between London, San Francisco and the west shore of Lake Tahoe. Seeking part time wine tasting gig.



A Rustic Striptease, South Pembrokeshire, 1957 by Robert Nisbet

Intent upon a wasted youth,
we prowled the fairground: boxing booth,
squint rifles, chips, the Wall of Death.
We then approached, suspended breath,
the striptease, where a one-eyed man
(one-eyed, believe me if you can)
intoned full clear, did not dissemble,
This will make your trousers tremble.

And once within his fiendish tent,
our every inhibition went.
Beyond a glorious mist of gauze,
the object of our hearts’ applause.
We gazed upon her plump pink youth,
ogled indeed (I tell you sooth),
until, about her seventh pose
(a side-on breast, I do suppose)
a sudden dopey interlude.
Some punter, well and truly stewed,
as subtle as a blunted rasp,
called, Watch out, there’s a bloody wasp.
(In Pembrokeshire, the humble wasp
is rhymed with Cleopatra’s asp).

But interruption comes and goes.
She came unto her final pose,
described as .. you’ll not think me rude? ..
a full, uncluttered backside nude.

We lost all vestiges of shame.
as punters bellowed, That’s the game!
But just before our queen retired,
the cheering stilled, but, less desired,
that punter, very worst of men,
cried, There’s that bloody wasp again.

(previously published in The Seventh Quarry and in the author’s Prolebooks pamphlet, Merlin’s Lane)

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet with over 200 publications in Britain, as well as a number of appearances in the USA, in magazines like San Pedro River Review, Constellations, Illya’s Honey and Clementine Unbound.


Sigmund Freud Gets Lucky by Paul Vaughan

Lonely Sigmund dreamed of love,
id and ego dancing tangos,
unrequited lusts that drove him
to download Tinder on his ‘phone.

Dora swiped right when she saw
his sexy beard and eyes that longed;
invited him to meet for dinner,
probe his inner child with song.

They dallied over breasts of chicken,
but her intentions were not clear
until she ordered her dessert,
a Stiffy Cockee Pudding please.

Paul Vaughan lives in Yorkshire with a sneezing cat. Work has appeared or is forthcoming in Agenda, Bunbury, Message in a Bottle and The Open Mouse, among others. When not writing he moonlights as editor of Algebra of Owls.


My Love by David O’Neill



My love is like an iridescent hue—
A coruscating haze of orange, red and blue;
A parlous transformation certain photons rue
That face destructive interference.

My love is like a bowl of comely fruit,
Whose shiny, dimpled, waxen pericarps impute
The bitter mesocarp, that hints the more astute
Should give sour endocarp due clearance.

My love owes beauty, cold and statuesque,
In graceful poise evoking perfect arabesque
With classic virtues, recrudescing Romanesque,
In worse excesses than Octavian.

My love has feathers in her coiffeured hair—
A monstrous, non-cladistic, bird-brained hybrid pair,
Her rostral pole chimæric with the derrière
Of some denuded ratite avian.

(Editor’s note: the painting on which the poem is based is by Isobel Smerdon, aged 11, and is reproduced with permission. The animation is by the author.)

David O’Neill is a frustrated mathematician who has journeyed through a predominantly life-science-based medical landscape for most of his mortgage-paying professional life, eventually finding salvation in the Open University, too close to the end for practical application but sufficiently early for peace of mind and poetic inspiration.



RelationHit.com by James Woolf

Our florist closes late at night
We girls struggle to get by
So I built a little website
To keep our spirits high

“Why waste time with flowers
When you can say it with a bomb?
Don’t sit there and cower
Choose RelationHit.com

If your marriage is a non-event
Or his jokes put you to shame
Just tick the box marked Your Consent
And we’ll take him out the game”

My wicked wit helped us survive
A website selling slaughter!
But minutes after it went live
I got a “wife pop” order

I called the bloke – his name was Sid
I told him, “It’s a jest!”
He offered fifteen thousand quid
I said, “I’ll do the rest.”

By now RelationHit.com
Was choked with user traffic
Quite by chance I’d hit upon
A demented demographic

I quit my day job selling flowers
With one or two misgivings
Now I’m knifing nephews in the shower
Shoving sisters off tall towers
Giving gramps a surge of power
Well… you’ve got to earn a living

James Woolf is a writer of short stories, scripts and adverts and occasional poems. Ambit magazine will be publishing his story Mr and Mrs Clark and Blanche in January 2017. He was shortlisted in the Bridport Prize 2016, and R v Sieger – additional documents disclosed by the Crown Prosecution Service was highly commended in the 2015 London Short Story Prize and published in 2016. Prior to this, his plays have been produced in various off-West End venues including The King’s Head Theatre, the Arcola and the Theatre Royal Margate. Two radio plays have been broadcast including Kerton’s Story with Bill Nighy, Lesley Sharp and Stephen Moore.