Two Poems from Joe Williams


I have emphasised
the importance
of using
appropriate language
in maintaining a
professional veneer.

I have stressed
the significance
of the
client-supplier relationship
in ensuring
customer satisfaction.

I am pointing at
the projected screen
to introduce my
next theme,
when the fire
alarm erupts into life.

I shout, ‘Fucking


In most towns the
station pub’s the worst one that there is.
In Harrogate it
proudly boasts its title.
Pub of the Year

Joe Williams is a writer and performing poet from Leeds. In 2017 his debut pamphlet, ‘Killing the Piano’, was published by Half Moon Books, and he won the prestigious Open Mic Competition at the Ilkley Literature Festival.


You weren’t supposed to laugh, by Paul Vaughan

I’ll surprise you tonight.

Eyes hungry, lips licked,
fox to her chicken, dog to her bones.

I’ll hide in the wardrobe.
Get yourself sexy,
say when you’re ready.

She sighs on the inside.
Oven-ready, she thinks.
Rolls on the stockings.
Four weeks of dating
now feeling too long.

You can come out now.
Ready or not.

He flings the doors open,
struts out with a grin.
In a Paddington costume,
with a sign round his neck.

Please fuck this bear.

Duffel coat. Jaunty red hat.
Hand on his member,
jutting out like a rod.

Paul Vaughan lives in Yorkshire. His work has been (or shortly will be) featured in Agenda, Acumen, Prole, Frogmore Papers, Poetry Salzburg, Obsessed with Pipework and Ink, Sweat & Tears, among others.


Pleasure, by Hilary Willmott

Like finest Belgian truffles she rolls them around her lips,
delicacies to be savoured, rotund parcels of delight.
She lets her tongue caress their secrets, teasing herself,
tracing them with her lips, backwards and forwards.
She knows it’s wrong, there will be reprisals.
But it’s too late to stop – her need is overwhelming
and as she flicks her tongue, one pouch disappears
into her salivating mouth. Oblivious to the pained cries
for her to stop, she swallows. One satisfied canine.
One less piece of horse shit on the towpath.

Hilary has been writing since her schooldays many decades ago. She sees poetry as a companion who is much braver than she, taking her to places she wouldn’t dare venture on her own. She has been published by Templar Press, Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis, Flarestack, Leaf and Velvet. She has also been shortlisted for national competitions. She lives by the river in the south west of England.


Poem, by Robert Garnham


At what point does a mess become a muddle?
At what point does day become the night?
At what point does a spillage become a puddle?
At what point does a shudder become a fright?

At what point does a brag become a boast?
At what point does a mess become a fuss?
At what point does bread become toast?
At what point does a train become a rail replacement bus?

At what point do we become middle aged?
And do we only know we are middle aged when we’ve lived
Our whole lives?
Is it only then that we can look back and say, oh yes,
That’s when I was middle aged, that’s when I had a
Midlife crisis,
The day I went out and bought a jet Ski?

At what point does a crowd become a throng?
At what point do pants become a thong?
At what point does a dirge become a song?
At what point does a whiff become a pong?

At what point does a settee become a sofa?
At what point does a look become a demeanour?
At what point does a pamphlet become a brochure?
At what point does a verbal warning become a grievance procedure?

At what point did I decide that maybe you weren’t the one for me?
Was if at the opera, or was it in the supermarket?
Or was it that time I came home and found you in bed
With a stamp collector from Barnstaple?

At what point does a trumpet become a bugle?
At what point does an imposition become an impertinence?
At what point does prudent become frugal?
At what point does a TV advert become a nuisance?

At what point does pruned become sheared?
At what point does uncanny become weird?
At what point does stubble become a beard?
At what point does a poem not have to rhyme?

At what point do we lose ourselves to the delirium of the
Beauty of the world of the planet of the people of the creatures
Of the moon of the tides of the sea of the land of the cities of the
Absolute if the spiritual of the technological or the brave of the bountiful
Of the beautiful, possibly at two PM on a Thursday afternoon.

At what point does it all become meaningless?


How to wake up by Pat Edwards

Always set an alarm, although you may not need it. Becoming fully awake is more a process than an event. My recommendations are as follows:

Accept that the sound made by your alarm is real, not imagined.
Accept also that it heralds the prospect of a day that requires your attention.
You would not have set an alarm if there was no imperative to get up and out.
Avoid thinking it is safe to close your eyes and drift a little.
We both know that you will fall into a deep sleep,
which will either precipitate lateness or a headache.
Acknowledge the presence of any other humans or animals sharing your bed.
Rushed or even luxurious hanky-panky is not recommended,
as this only makes getting up more complicated and/or upsets the pets caught up in the commotion. You could, if deemed thoughtful and/or encouraging, voice the fact that you did think about it, then move swiftly on.
Get some clothes on pronto, to discourage aforementioned prospect of a physical encounter,
and to preserve your dignity for Christ’s sake.
Do not try to make the bed immediately if persons or pets remain within its confines.
If they too have vacated, feel free to carry on.

That’s about it really.
It’s safe to assume that you are, in fact, up.
The awake bit may depend on caffeine, shower and other sundry paraphernalia but, essentially, you’re good to go.

Repeat ad infinitum as the alternative is, for the most part, singularly unappealing.

Pat Edwards is a writer, teacher and performer living in Mid Wales. Her work has appeared in publications such as Obsessed with Pipework, Amaryllis, The Fat Damsel, Picaroon, The Rat’s Ass and Ink Pantry. Pat runs Verbatim poetry open mics and is curating the 2017 Welshpool Poetry Festival.


Degrees of Separation by Maurice Devitt

When my wife ran away
with the milkman, I didn’t notice
for days. Just assumed
she was busy at work – rising early,
returning late. I had seamlessly
stepped into the breach – assembling
superfood lunches from berries
and bugs, ferrying the kids to lacrosse
and astrophysics, and debating
Sartre and Schopenhauer way past
their bedtime. So it was only
the third day, as I stumbled
from the fug of sleep,
that I was struck by the empties
building up on the step.


Dating Profile Identification by Josa Young

All of
Cis Man
Non binary
Still just wants to climb in my pants
Nothing really changes

Josa Young is a novelist and copywriter. Her two novels One Apple Tasted and Sail Upon the Land are out there somewhere being read. She was a decent poet up until puberty, and has taken to verse again as all the creative frenzy of childbearing has faded.



Paint Spill by Julia D McGuinness

right outside B & Q
as people tent a kneeling girl;
an uprighted paint tin smirks
with seeping lid by a slick
of glistening Lavender Mist.

Fateful rush, fumble, tangle
of keys, dog-lead, shopping;
honey dip dreams tripped
in a moment’s tin-clop slop
on slate grey asphalt.

She wipes her dog’s legs;
in speckle and sprawl
feels the importunity of paint.
Plans upended; coral tears
streak cherry lush cheeks.

Buttermilk cheer of helpers;
sponges and sympathy,
but nothing to stem
the Tropical tide of if onlys
coating her paint-smudged brow.

Shades stacked on shelves
hold still for an apricot dawn
of laughter with friends;
dog in his soft mocha basket,
rain pawing the stain outside.

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.


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.