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.


Glove Puppets by Tom McColl

I always wear glove puppets in winter.
A temperature drop creates instant theatre.
Each coat pocket is a dressing room.
In my left pocket is Punch,
while in my right pocket is Judy.
What that means is,
if I put them on to compete
in a glove puppet boxing match,
a punch from Punch
wouldn’t pack
even half as much
a punch
as a punch from Judy.

And though I know there’s not much I can do
while wearing these gloves –
except put on a Punch and Judy show
(or have a glove puppet boxing match) –
it’d be no better even for someone
much better than me.

For a start, apart from getting into a fight,
it probably makes no difference
whether Punch is left and Judy’s right,
or Judy’s left and Punch is right.

Let’s face it,
whichever pockets his gloves were in,
while wearing Punch and Judy
even Yehudi
struggled to play his violin.

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.



Letter from the (Ex) Editor

The crocuses are in bloom, the lambing season is here and Spilling Cocoa is at last emerging from its unintended hibernation. Back at the start of the year, I posted about this site’s imminent closure and asked if there was anyone out there who would consider taking over the editorship. I wasn’t particularly hopeful, but to my surprise and delight, such a person did come forward and I am very pleased to announce that the excellent Robert Garnham will be taking over with immediate effect (pause for round of applause).

So that’s it, basically. Thank you all for your submissions over the last not-quite-a-year. I think we’re building up quite an archive of good stuff here and long may it continue under Robert’s editorship. He’ll be opening up submissions again soon, but I’ll leave it up to him to decide when, and also what his editorial policy is going to look like. Exciting times.

Bye all,

Jonathan (ex-editor)


Fred’s Pigeons by Catherine Edmunds

My neighbour’s yard is full of pigeon shit
excreted by the thirty birds he keeps
in two small crees. I wouldn’t mind a bit
if rather than ‘purrup’ they sang with cheeps
or chirrups, flutey tunes, not burbly purrs
which get right on my tits (excuse my French).
But cripes! I hate ’em! Still, the thought occurs
that peacocks would be worse. They call ‘kawench’
or some such sound that sets my teeth on edge
and makes me want to wring their scrawny necks.
Right. Here’s the deal. If Fred’s birds have to fledge,
okay, but if they crap upon my kecks
or other stuff that I’ve hung out to dry
the feathered faecal droppers have to die.

Catherine Edmunds was educated at Dartington College of Arts, and Goldsmith’s College, London. Her published works include a poetry collection, four novels and a Holocaust memoir. Catherine has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her writing has appeared in the Frogmore Papers, The Binnacle, Butchers’ Dog, and other literary journals.



If… by Howard Davies

If you can blame the problems of your nation
On the Muslims, and the Chinese, and the Jews,
On Mexican illegal immigration,
And on everyone who’s not as white as you;

If you can get the blacks to pin their hopes on you
And still be friendly with the Ku Klux Klan;
If you can get the broads to cast their votes for you
And still grab ’em by the pussy when you can;

If you can use your history of failure
As a ruse to bring your taxes down to zero;
And if, instead of thinking they should jail ya,
Folks think you’re smart, and hail you as a hero;

If you can garner roars and cheers aplenty
For a wall you’ve no intention to construct,
Then yours will be the world till 2020
And, what’s more my son… we’re absolutely f***ed.


Normal Dad by Jude Cowan Montague

for James Worse and Marlowe

Normal dad’s are nice dads,
normal dads are good,
normal dads do not have beards
and no one thinks they should.

Normal dads do not stare out
to see if there are ships.
Normal dads do not write pomes
or mess with English Lit.

Normal dads are not like you.
Normal dads aren’t cool.
Normal dads are more like them –
be normal! Toe the rule!

Jude Cowan Montague used to work as an archivist for Reuters and has written poetry about the news agency reports. She created and host a weekly radio show on Resonance FM called ‘The News Agents’. She has been an artist and a songwriter as well as a poet, since forever and you can drop in on her at her gallery in St Leonards-on-Sea which is called Montague Armstrong.


the consequences of kissing the wrong gadgie by Catherine Edmunds

She knew she had to wait until the dark
or risk her substance fizzling into mist
for now the days of rising with the lark
were gone. She sighed, and wished she hadn’t kissed
the gadgie in the costume. How was she
to know the fangs were real? She touched her neck.
A little sore. She thought she’d try to see
the damage in the mirror. What the heck?
Reflection gone? She shrugged, and went to eat
some garlic bread, but shuddered at the smell.
She must remember. No more bread. No meat.
No cups of tea, just vats of blood. Oh hell!
A coffin? Cape? She had to make a list,
so dipped a quill with care into her wrist.

(Previously published in Anomalous Appetites)

Catherine Edmunds was educated at Dartington College of Arts, and Goldsmith’s College, London. Her published works include a poetry collection, four novels and a Holocaust memoir. Catherine has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her writing has appeared in the Frogmore Papers, The Binnacle, Butchers’ Dog, and other literary journals.